First Baptist Church Hosts Open Mic Event to Address Community Concerns

First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida will host an open mic event on Sunday evening, January 29, at 6:00 PM. This event will provide an opportunity for members of the community to come and publicly voice their concerns and questions to Pastor Heath regarding a recent action of the church to require their membership to sign a statement on biblical sexuality. “First Baptist Church of Jacksonville recently approved a statement on biblical sexuality that is required of all their members. Christian communities typically require statements of faith for membership, and this statement expresses a view of sexuality that is old as the Bible. Nevertheless, when word of this action became known in our community it inspired concern, questions, and anger. First Baptist Church desires to love our...

Continue reading

Books on Revival

I am desperate to see a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God in our day. I am desperate for revival. A mighty and great work of God is the only thing that can solve the overwhelming problems Christians are currently facing. It is the only reality that can stem the tide of cultural decline currently pulling our world into full-scale collapse. The Spirit of God alone can do what all our programs, politics, and striving have failed to accomplish. On Sunday mornings in 2023 at First Baptist, we will be preaching through the book of Acts. Each week we will examine how the story proceeds and pay attention to the relevant biblical and theological principles, but our emphasis each week will be to evaluate God’s work in the revival that was the creation of the early church. The series is called...

Continue reading

Connecting Scripture with Students

I am old, at least that is what the local teenager tells me. In my earliest days of youth ministry, I could easily skip my way past the generation gap. I was married, but I did not have kids, so I was seemingly closer in age and more relatable to a teenager. But now I am just plain old compared to these youngsters. I will not lie to you; it hurt the first time a teenager in my youth ministry made fun of me for my age. I was a newly married twenty-five-year-old, and one of my students said I looked like I was a forty-five-year-old. That strangely stung. I told the teen that I have a great eye doctor, and they should call him because he is taking new patients right now. We laughed, and then I told them to get off my lawn and go home. If you are any older than me (I am 28 years old), you know...

Continue reading

When Your Loved One is Consumed by Drugs, Alcohol, and Life-Dominating Sins

One of the most devastating things a parent can learn is that your child is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any other life-dominating sin! We question many times, “what did I do wrong as a parent?” The same can be true when it is not our child but a close family member or even a friend. From studying Scripture, we know that Psalm 1:1 teaches us the progression of mankind toward sin. God tells us in this verse, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” Did you pick up that progress there? Walks, stands, sits? Your loved one has taken that progression, and something other than God has now become their master. The root of an addiction is really a desire of their heart that has turned into an idol they...

Continue reading

Why You Should Read the Bible in 2023

For years, I have had a commitment to read the Bible through each year. As I look over my adult life, I see that as one of the most spiritually significant commitments I have ever made. The Blessings of Bible Reading That is why I experienced such a struggle when I was asked to write about why you should read the Bible this year. The truth is that I feel so many benefits of Bible reading that I feel overwhelmed at where to start. But I must say something. I opened the Bible to the longest chapter in Scripture which also happens to be exclusively devoted to God’s Word. It is Psalm 119, and it is rich with reasons to read the Word. Here are just five really good reasons from the Bible itself about why you should read that Word this year. 1. You Need Blessings First, God will give you his blessings...

Continue reading

O Come All Ye Faithful

“O Come All Ye Faithful” is one of the oldest hymns we sing at Christmas. It was initially a Latin Hymn bearing the title “Adeste Fideles” and appears to have been written by John Francis Wade (c. 1711–1786). The first existing manuscript of this hymn is dated 1743. The Latin title literally means “Come, faithful ones.” This Catholic hymn was translated into English in 1841 for use in the Church of England by Frederick Oakeley (1802–1890). The Oxford Movement was an effort in the mid-19th century to translate older Catholic hymns from Latin into English for use in Protestant churches. This literary movement was primarily based at Oxford University and was an effort to recapture older hymns from the high church tradition. It is like those today who want to bring back the more formal...

Continue reading

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Many of the most profound hymns of the faith were birthed from life’s most challenging circumstances. “It is Well with My Soul” was written in the throes of the sudden and tragic death of all the author’s children. “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” was written upon the death of a spouse. “Just as I Am” was written by a bedridden invalid, and “To God Be the Glory” by a blind poet. Trials are the wellspring of profound proclamations of hope. Christmas of 1849 saw the nation stumbling out of the recently ended Mexican-American War and marching toward an inevitable Civil War with increasing strife between the North and South. Europe also was experiencing an ongoing revolution and political unrest. The thoughts of “Peace on Earth” were far from the reality of most inhabitants of the mid-19th century...

Continue reading

Away in a Manger

The story of this delightful children’s carol is a tangled web of attributions and additions. This is, unfortunately, common for hymn stories. They can become larger than life. This story even includes a couple of magnificent lies in its history, seemingly intended to build notoriety for the song. Despite the folklore associated with this song, it has become one of the most recognizable Christmas carols for more than a century. While no fewer than four names have become associated with its composition, no one knows who actually wrote the words. This anonymous hymn was believed to have been written in 1883, apparently in recognition of the 400th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth (1483–1546). It first appeared in a newspaper in Boston, MA, under the title “Luther’s Cradle Song.” It included...

Continue reading

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

One of the first Christmas hymns that Charles Wesley wrote happens to be one of the greatest Christmas Carols of all time. How is that for beginner’s luck? In fact, many consider it one of the greatest hymns ever written (for any season). This is a remarkable feat, given that Wesley went on to compose over 6,500 hymns. He originally called it a “Hymn for Christmas Day.” He first wrote it in 1739 when he was 32 years old. It has since become one of the most beloved Christmas carols of Christendom, including us. Baptists have been singing this Methodist hymn for almost 175 years! The original first line was “Hark, how all the welkin rings, Glory to the King of kings.” Most people today don’t know what “the welkin” is, and you may have already looked that word up while reading that last sentence....

Continue reading

2023 Daily Devotionals

There is a long history of Christians reading daily devotionals alongside their time in the Scripture. In 2023, we want to encourage you to join this rich history! Devotional books are not meant to take the place of reading the Bible but are designed to spur us on in the Christian life. They cause us to slow down, ponder a particular aspect of Scripture, and worship God with all our hearts. The Holy Spirit can use a daily devotional book to bring about fresh love for God in your life. Here are four hand-picked yearlong devotionals for you to enjoy as you spend time with God. It is our prayer that they help you grow in your knowledge of God’s word and deepen your love for Christ. Select one and embark on a life-changing journey. Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith by David Powlison David...

Continue reading