Category: Uncategorized

The Hateful Hypocrisy of Militant LGBTQ Activism

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 believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression. Genesis 1:27; 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 This is an uncontroversial statement for any Christian living in any place at any point...

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Leading Your Small Group in Confession

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 whether we should wear physical masks in our small group meetings. I’m talking about a different kind of mask. A kind of mask that is much easier to slip on without anyone noticing. A kind of mask that has been around and stuck around a lot longer than the cloth variety. A kind of mask that the Pharisees frequented....

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Controversial Conversations

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 to have a diverse congregation when we don’t have a diverse staff? – 10:35 What implications does Deuteronomy 24:3-4 have currently on Christian marriages? – 15:50 Would you say that the Bible, as we have it, is inerrant, or that the “inerrancy of scripture” applies only to the original scripts and mistakes...

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The Lies of Suicide

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, during 2020, almost 46,000 people committed suicide. That’s about 125 people a day, making it the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S., the second among ages 20-34. The Bible tells us that every life is precious to God from the moment of conception to the day of one’s final breath. Therefore, every...

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

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 certainly true when it comes to eyeglasses. But it is also true when you are trying to see Jesus in the Old Testament. When it comes to seeing Jesus in the Old Testament, the lens you need is the New Testament because the New Testament teaches us how to see Jesus in the Old Testament. And it does so in at least...

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In Praise of Nurses

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 sleepovers with my kids. Those 15 nights were the hardest and most uncomfortable ones I’ve ever spent on planet earth. Most of them were in the Neuro-ICU. You don’t get in there unless you need a lot of help. Your brain is fragile, you need constant monitoring, you require powerful medication, you can’t get...

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A Health Update

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 confidently and without help, even if a bit slower than usual. To add to that good news, I also got a good report at my visit. Everyone is happy with the way I am progressing and healing up. They did decide to leave the stitches in the back of my head for at least another week. They also are continuing...

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Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament: From Problem to Solution

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 hear: “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the...

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A Personal Update from Pastor Heath

Dear First Baptist Family, Today is the first day I’ve felt able to reach out to you (and been allowed to!), so I wanted to share with you some of what has happened. Most of you know that on August 4, I went to the hospital for surgery to relieve the pressure on the trigeminal nerve in my brain that now, for five years, has been causing pain, spasms, and difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing. After surgery, it was immediately clear that the operation came with some significant costs as I lost all the hearing in my right ear. This was very discouraging. As the days progressed and I began to be able to get out of bed, it was also clear that I was dealing with an unusual amount of dizziness and disorientation. Having been through these surgeries before, I expected some unsteadiness,...

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The Snare of People-Pleasing

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” The Bible sounds an alarm in Proverbs 29:25, telling us that we are in danger. It is a warning for a subtle, nearby sin that regularly visits though most are often unaware of it and the snare it lays. A snare is a trap laid and disguised to catch an animal. The trap is set, so the animal never sees it and is ultimately killed by it. Likewise, this sin is a hidden trap that will capture us if we are not aware of and combating it. The subtle sin in this verse that can so easily overtake us is the sin of people-pleasing or fear of man. We have all been there: the overwhelming anxiety you get when you think someone may criticize you, the fear that runs through your heart when someone doesn’t greet you...

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