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First Thoughts

A Disappointing Health Update

| Heath Lambert |
This morning I shared some hard and frustrating news with First Baptist. In the last week, I learned I will require another surgery for ongoing neurological problems in my brain. It is painfully ironic that I was learning about my need for this fifth brain surgery during the week of the release of my new book, which had its origin in my very first surgery. The release of that book seemed, in my mind, to be commemorating the end of this season of struggle. Let me explain this unanticipated set…

I Want to be Like Epaphras

| Scott Connell |
As a child, it is common to seek out heroes you would love to be like as you grow up. They become models for future growth and even icons in dreams for the future. I can remember baseball players I wanted to play like when I played little league, musicians I wanted to sound like when I became interested in music, and pastors whom I wanted to emulate when I was called to ministry. We know that the perfect image we are to “grow up” in is that of Jesus Christ. But who can we look to in the Scrip…

The Reason I Wrote The Great Love of God

| Heath Lambert |
The Great Love of God is my first book since 2016, and releases today. There are lots of books out there to read, so I’d like to take a moment to explain three reasons why I hope you’ll pick up this one. A Personal Reason for The Great Love of God The years between 2018 and 2022 were the worst of my life. A ministry crisis and four brain surgeries created an explosion of suffering. But my story of those years is not one of pain but one of love, grace, and glory. When Christians betrayed me, a…

The Gospel as the Supreme Example of Love and Care

| Seth Singleton |
It has been said that every good story borrows from the gospel. If you have ever found yourself in tears at the close of a book or witnessed an eruption of applause in a movie theater, you have tasted gospel seasoning in the drama. The self-sacrificing hero, victory from the clutches of defeat, or the sudden reappearance of a character thought to be dead all borrow their glory from the greatest story ever told. These tales are often woven around central characters who give of themselves for t…

Fighting and The Soul of Southern Baptists

| Heath Lambert |
Why Southern Baptists Fight Southern Baptists don’t like to fight. That might sound surprising if you think they fight a lot. But it’s true. Fights only happen in the SBC when convention leaders forget who Southern Baptists are. Southern Baptists are a group of theologically conservative churches cooperating together to announce to the world that Jesus Christ is the only Savior from sin. The brilliance of the SBC is that churches of all sizes and in all locations understand we can do more tog…

Increasing in Love and Care

| Coty Hoskins |
There is something spectacular about sitting outside on a brisk, dark evening and staring at a fire. I’m not sure what it is about fire that is so amazing, but many of my favorite memories involve late-night conversations and s’mores around the fire pit in my backyard. If the experience of sitting around a fire is spectacular, the way fire is produced is shocking, almost miraculous. Fire comes when three elements are combined: oxygen, heat, and fuel– you probably remember this from your middl…

Heroic Love

| John Blount |
They get to the core of us, evoking tears of admiration, shouts of praise, or swelling pride that grips the heart and takes us to the very center of being human. Few among us have not been moved to tears when hearing Tom Hank’s character, Captain John Miller, say to Private James Ryan with his last breath…“earn this,” or hearing Rocky Balboa cry out from the boxing ring, “Adrian, yo, Adrian, I did it!”; or hearing Samwise Gamgee say to Frodo Baggins “I can’t carry it (the ring) for you, but…

This Won’t End Well: Where The SBC Is Headed with The Guidepost Recommendation

| Heath Lambert |
An Impossible Decision I was still in first grade when I mastered the art of recognizing an impossible decision. Way back then, long before my mom became a Christian late in her life, she was a drunk and violently abusive. On one occasion, she tossed me through a glass coffee table, leaving the table smashed and my face and arms covered with cuts. When I showed up at school, some anonymous teacher did what my teachers always did and called social services. I don’t remember all the social work…

The Bible and Your Relationships

| Spencer Harmon |
What is a real friend? If you Google that question, you will find several common answers: They listen. They are loyal. They are accepting. They are supportive. They are interested in similar things. They stick with you. They want what’s best. These lists all contain nice traits that have their place, but they all neglect the most important ingredient in relationships – the foundation, the root that produces the fruit of fellowship: The Bible. Are your relationships orbiting around the Bible? …

This Is Not the Way: Sexual Abuse, Guidepost, and The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention

| Heath Lambert |
A Personal Issue Decades ago, I survived childhood abuse. I have been open about this. Today, I pastor the remarkable First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL. That delightful congregation is full of the most wonderful men, women, and children I have ever met. When I think of those precious people, I would rather die—die—than have any of them endure anything approaching my experience of abuse. That makes abuse a deeply personal issue for me. I have been horrified by every report of abuse that…

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