First Thoughts

Seven Good Reasons to Save Sex for Marriage

It is common practice for dating couples to sleep together long before they even mention the possibility of a wedding. To many people, sex before marriage is a normal part of life and is as common as exchanging phone numbers. I would like to convince you of what you already know to be true in your heart–sex is only meant for marriage. Having sex with someone is a big deal and should not be common. It should not be the appetizer before marriage. Rather, it should be the culmination of romance that is a beautiful exchange of true love. Regardless of your sexual past or history, below are seven reasons why you should commit to reserving sex for marriage. 1. Abstinence never fails. Abstinence is the most effective birth control and the best protection from sexually transmitted diseases. This...

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Recovering Purity Culture

We need to recover purity culture. We read I Kissed Dating Goodbye in high school. As many will remember, Joshua Harris sought to dismantle what he identified as a culture of casual dating in the church. Many were helped by this book (including us!). A movement began, marked by purity banquets, purity rings, and commitments made by thousands of teenagers to save sexual intimacy for marriage. Purity culture was born. But for many, that culture crushed them. Many have recently reported that as this movement integrated into their communities, churches, and families, it was more suffocating than freeing. As they failed to keep the expectations of purity culture, they were isolated from their communities, keeping their sexual sin in the dark. Even Joshua Harris, the man at the center of this...

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Is It Time to Leave the Southern Baptist Convention?

Today I want to return to talking about the Southern Baptist Convention. First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida is easily one of the most significant churches in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. Since I have not been at First Baptist long enough to take any credit whatsoever for that greatness, there is no personal boast in that observation. It is just the expression of a simple fact. First Baptist was once one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, has given millions of dollars to the cooperative program, hosted a conservative alternative to the SBC annual meeting when the convention was more liberal, supplied a president of the convention from among our former pastors, and—until I got here—has always boasted of having senior pastors who were the...

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Light in Dark Places

I am sure you have noticed by now that it seems like nobody knows how to talk to each other anymore. Everyone is angry all the time about everything. The way we all talk to one another has sunk so low that it is hard to imagine how terrible it could be to hit rock bottom. Social media highlights this ugly mess. Social media gives everyone a microphone—no group hires you, no committees exert oversight, and no editor can push back. Social media also gives everyone an immediate microphone—you don’t have to think, pray, or receive counsel about what you will write, but you can immediately proclaim your thoughts, regardless of your emotional state. Social media also gives you an immediate microphone to the whole world—a private disagreement between two people or a local problem in one area, immediately...

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My Endorsement for SBC President

The Way Leadership Works When God does a great work, he raises up a great leader. This is an obvious fact of Scripture. When God delivered his people from Egypt, he raised up Moses. When God wanted to rebuild his temple and Jerusalem, he raised up Ezra and Nehemiah. When God wanted to preach salvation to the Gentiles, he raised up Paul. Examples could be multiplied with David, Gideon, Elijah, Peter, John, and Jesus himself. What is true in Scripture is also true in Church history. Whenever God has given revival, he has given an Edwards, a Whitfield, a Wesley, a Spurgeon, or a Graham. A rule of redemptive history is that when God’s people are floundering, they are absent a leader. And Southern Baptists are floundering. A Leadership Problem One of the reasons Southern Baptists have been able...

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Three Initiatives from First Baptist in 2022

The mission of First Baptist is to reach all of Jacksonville with all of Jesus for all of life. This vision is big and bold. It is a wide vision that includes everything in life – all of life. Whether it is washing dishes, selling property, sharing the gospel, voting, or approaching death, we want to bring every part of our lives under submission to the Lordship of Jesus. All of life includes doing everything in life to the praise of God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 1:12). Each week at First Baptist, we seek to accomplish this mission through the preaching and singing of God’s word. We teach the Bible every week in our Sunday School Classes and Life Groups. We are delivering biblical content to our church with the goal of transforming lives. Yet there is only so much that we can...

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