First Thoughts

Trusting God in the Wake of Health Issues

| Steve Clifton |
Over the past few years, God has sought ways to get my attention. I am one who seeks to be always positive and congenial, always seeking to find the best in the situation with which I am faced. Over the last ten years, we as a church have sought to provide Biblical counsel to those we shepherd, along with intense discipleship for those who present themselves to us from other churches. During these years, I have been challenged to look within my heart to see what I can decipher as the “heart t…

Hope and Healing After Divorce

| Ernie Baker |
Psalm 137—God Heals the Brokenhearted Divorce is one of the most heart-wrenching difficulties that life can throw your way. Dreams are smashed. Families are divided. Homes are sold, and children wonder if they are the cause. Money becomes tight, and bitterness grows. I know precious people who have not seen their own children for years and grandparents whose hearts ache to be with grandchildren they are not allowed to see. In the last few years, this reality has been experienced by many as th…

The Hateful Hypocrisy of Militant LGBTQ Activism

| Heath Lambert |
Christians Really Do Believe the Bible Let me tell you about the hornets’ nest I kicked over this week. This weekend, The First Baptist Church of Jacksonville is going to approve a statement on biblical sexuality. It has already been approved by our pastors and lay leadership. Here is what it says, As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. I bel…

Leading Your Small Group in Confession

| Andrew Morrell |
The Masks We Wear  The year 2020 was an unprecedented time in history when it was socially acceptable (and even mandated!) to walk into a bank with your face (and thus your identity) completely covered with a black mask. Before 2020, such a choice of attire would have led everyone in the bank to suspect that you are a bank robber! But while this was the norm in our culture in the wake of COVID-19, we don’t want this to be the norm in our small groups. What I’m not talking about here is whethe…

Controversial Conversations

| Heath Lambert |
Pastor Heath recently answered controversial questions related to homosexuality, race, marriage, voting, women in the church, and the Catholic church. You can watch the full talk or see the specific question and time stamp below. It is our prayer that these questions and answers help you think more deeply about how the Bible relates to all of life and increases your faith. Why do we have no people of color on staff at our church (except the ministries for foreign groups)? How can we expect …

The Lies of Suicide

| Ryan Trzeciak |
Satan is a liar. He is a liar by nature (John 8:44) and became the father of lies when he told the very first lie, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4-5). All he does is distort, twist, and pervert the truth, which brings nothing but heartache and destruction. But one of his greatest and most devastating lies is when he tells someone, “It would be better if you were dead.” Sadly, the troubling reality is that tens of thousands of people every year believe that lie. In the United States, du…

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament: Looking Through the Right Lens

| Andrew Morrell |
Looking Through the Right Lens There’s nothing quite like getting a new pair of glasses. When you put them on for the first time, you suddenly realize how sharp and bursting with brilliance the world is. You go outside and look at a flower in all its intricate beauty, you look up and see the bright blue sky sharply contrasted with the fluffy white clouds, and you realize that it has been quite some time since you’ve seen clearly. To see clearly, all you need is the right lens. This is certain…

In Praise of Nurses

| Heath Lambert |
For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13 Hard Nights in the Hospital When it comes to hospital stays, I’m now something of an expert. Since the fall of 2020, I’ve spent roughly 15 nights in the hospital. That is not as much time as some have spent in the hospital, but it is more than most. For me, 15 nights means I’ve spent more time in the hospital than I have in hotels, visiting relatives, or having sleepove…

A Health Update

| Heath Lambert |
Dear First Baptist Family, You have been so faithful to pray, and I wanted to write and let you know the latest update after the appointment with my neurosurgery team this morning. First of all, I want you to know that I feel good. In fact, as I write to you now, I feel as good as I have felt since August 4. I haven’t taken any pain medication, and my constant dizziness and disorientation has become a much more tolerable light-headed, sort of swimmy feeling. That improvement allows me to walk…

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament: From Problem to Solution

| Andrew Morrell |
The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus  Luke 24 records one of the greatest Bible studies in all of history. After his resurrection, Jesus appears to two of his disciples as they walk from Jerusalem to a town called Emmaus. When he first appears to them, they don’t even recognize him and aren’t even sure if he has truly risen from the dead. But as he walks and talks and eats with them, he opens their eyes to see who he is, and he teaches them one of the most important Bible lessons you’ll ever h…

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