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First Thoughts

| Steve Clifton |
In a world of hate, it is a joy to minister to brothers and sisters with compassion! Twenty-eight years ago, when God relocated our family to Jacksonville, we found First Baptist church to be a wonderful family of faith. People lived out in their lives what they believed as they loved God and loved each other while faithfully serving Him. The Covid lockdowns brought so much turmoil and despair to our world. It seems like we found ourselves in a downward spiral rather than one moving up.  Many…
Last week, we had the privilege of taking 220 students and over 100 adults to Lake Placid, Florida for our annual student camp. It was a remarkable week of fun, fellowship, and tremendous spiritual growth. Our theme for the week was Thrive from Jeremiah 17:5-8. This passage describes two plants that are in a parched, dry land. The first plant is a shrub that is wilting away and bears no fruit. This is the person who trusts in man. The second plant is a tree that has deep roots, bears much fru…
| Richard Lucas |
Shouldn’t Christians just focus on studying the Bible and the truths of Christianity? Why should Christians worry about what other religions and cults believe? Here are three reasons why Christians should examine the claims of other faiths. To Grow in Understanding the Claims of Our Faith Contrast is a great revealer of truth in lots of areas of life. This is especially true when it comes to the truths of our faith. One of the ways to understand the true claims of Christianity is to contr…
| Heath Lambert |
The Hard Years The years of 2018-2021 were difficult years of transition at First Baptist. Those years were painful for everyone at our church. I call them The Hard Years. In God’s great kindness, those years are now over, and our church is in a remarkable season of growth, health, and happiness. In August, I’ll release a podcast called What Happened at First Baptist. That podcast tells the story of the challenges our church confronted during the hard years and all the good things God did to …
| Ryan Trzeciak |
One year from now, the world will turn its eyes to Paris to watch athletes from around the world compete in the 2024 Olympic Games. While there will be many highlights and plenty to see, what will not be seen is athletes running in combat boots and trench coats, nor will we see runners going the wrong way on the track. That would be ludicrous, but this is exactly what it’s like attempting to live the Christian life while at the same time being enslaved to sin. In Hebrews, we are called to “la…
| Austin Collins |
The camera zooms in for a barrage of close-up shots. You hear swords clanging, guns cocking, and body armor strapping. The snare drums rattle, and the music swells.  Finally, the camera pulls back, and there he is– the hero fully locked and loaded. He’s ready for battle, weapon in hand, tools and ammo strapped to his chest, as he gloriously stares into the distance.  Every good action movie has one of these montages. They’re cliché for a reason. They excite you as a viewer and let you know th…
| Heath Lambert |
Dear First Baptist Family, I need to share some frustrating news. I am writing to you from the hospital, waiting for an operating room to open up, and I will have surgery as soon as one does. The good news is that my brain is in good shape. I’m experiencing no spasms, no nerve pain, and no neurological symptoms of any kind. This continues to be good news about the ultimate success of my last brain surgery. The problem I am confronting is that after so many surgeries, the flesh around my scalp…
I love summertime. Getting away on summer vacation (or staycation!). The smell of burgers on the grill. The giggles of kids in the sprinkler in the backyard. The smell of smoke after the fireworks. The crack of the bat against the baseball. And – of course – getting lost in a good book. Summer is often like a deep breath between the busyness of spring and fall, a reset of sorts. I want to encourage you this summer to cultivate the habit of reading so that you’ll keep it going throughout the s…
| Scott Connell |
For several years I served as a minister of music and youth. We call this Student Ministry now. It was not in my natural disposition to be a “wild and crazy” youth pastor. I have always been a bit more serious than that. But I did my best to fit the prototype of youth ministry frivolity when the role called for it. And this included singing silly songs (sometimes “with Larry,” if you remember him). One of those songs that continues to be somewhat popular today is the “Fruit of the Spirit Song…
| Ryan Trzeciak |
Revival is a mighty work of God where he saves the lost and sanctifies the saved in surprising numbers. This message has been boldly proclaimed for weeks as our church continues to preach through the book of Acts. Here at First Baptist, we have been praying that God would do this mighty work in our congregation, and in the city of Jacksonville, all for his glory. We want to see every man, woman, and child come to know and follow Jesus Christ as Lord. However, in order for revival to happen, w…

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