Catch the Wave


Sunday morning Payton rolled out our new logo.  He wanted it to look like something that has been drawn by hand rather than photocopied.  As you can see, it is simple and easy to recognize.  The wave represents our beach location, but the lines represent us.  We have drawn the lines by our lives and we put the motion in the wave.  There is more to come, but for now it becomes a part of us.  Thanks Payton.

BusSpeaking of Payton, he and the teens had an interesting “mystery trip” Saturday.  Things were great until they loaded up after their second stop in Old Town in Kissimmee.  The church bus decided it was tired of lugging a bunch of teens around and stalled.  Payton then had to scramble to find another means of transportation for the rest of the trip and to get everyone home safely.  The only available rental vans were at the Orlando Airport.  After getting some new wheels and sending the old wheels off to the shop, they headed on their way.  Despite all of that, the young people had a great time.  Payton, on the other hand…  Seriously, I know it is frustrating when you make plans for a big trip only to have it “stall” at some point.  Payton will need to learn the catch phrase of my beloved Cubs, “There’s always next year.”  🙂

Sunday we continued through our series on Galatians.  In class, we broke down Paul’s appeal to these Christians.  It is passionate and filled with logic and correct understanding of Scripture.  There is no doubt Paul is speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  There is so much we covered during class that opens our eyes to a proper understanding of God and draws us closer to the One who died on our behalf.  Unfortunately we do not have time to cover all the depths of these verses in worship.  But the sermon was dedicated to picking apart certain parts of Paul’s speech to help us see ourselves.  That is what this series is about: context, application and ultimately transformation.  Now is when transformation takes place.  There were several questions in the outline and on the Discovery Bible Study (back of the Arc Notebook pages) that challenge us.  Allow the Spirit to do its work in your life.  That comes by introspection and time with the Father.


As we look back into Galatians 3, understand what Paul is telling us about the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It isn’t something that lays dormmate in between a leather bound book.  It is living in us and through us.  When we focus on following a rule rather than living out powerful qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, we fill ourselves with something that cannot transform.  It isn’t fundamentally about what I do, as it is who I am.  We talk about transformation, and the place this happens is the Spirit within you.  Let the Spirit break free in your life.

Through everything, trust God.  Abraham demonstrated that trusting faithfulness in the Father.  It was His faith in God credited him righteousness, not trusting in a law to save.  But faith is not a mental exercise – it is life we live.  Because I trust God, I will do whatever I’m called to do.  We live by faith.  For that reason, we are redeemed, emancipated from the slavery of sin and death.  God’s grace is so amazing!


Prayers for Hurricane Victims


The videos and pictures have been rolling in all weekend of the devastation caused by Hurricane Micheal.  It is worse than most anticipated.  I have lived near the coast 14 1/2 years of my 26 years in ministry.  My family and I have been through hurricanes and seen first hand the destruction these super storms can cause.  This is one of the worst.  The initial reports have been that what wasn’t destroyed needs to be knocked down because the damage was so bad.  Neal Roe is with a company that helps to stabilize an area after catastrophes.  He is in Panama City and reports “absolute destruction.”  He calls on us to pray for the people as well as trying to figure out the best way to resolve the issues he is seeing.  As a kid, my family took several vacations to Panama City Beach.  A couple of years ago, my family, parents, siblings and their kids, went to Apalachicola for Christmas and spent a lot of time in the town of Port Saint Joe.  These are small communities.  Everyone we met was the definition of southern hospitality.  Very kind and loving people.  Join me in praying for everyone effected in these areas by Hurricane Michael.  Joe Wild mentioned some places you can donate funds that will go directly to helping the people in these badly hit areas.  Some of us have seen their work first hand and can attest to their effectiveness.  One is the Church of Christ Disaster Relief (  and the other is Church of Christ Disaster Effort (


Moving to a more positive picture.  Some of you noticed how good the foyer looked Sunday morning.  John Pickerill, and his crew, stripped off all the old wallpaper, filled in holes, added a nice texture and painted, giving it a fresh new look.  Things are looking better around here all the time.

Speaking of things that are better, our text for Bible Class and worship exemplifies this idea to the highest degree.  The Galatian Missionaries were teaching Messianic Jews and Gentiles that it was the works of the Law that justifies mankind.  Ironically, the law never taught this belief.  Over the years, a legalistic system had developed, believing people earned God’s favor by performing meritorious works.  Yet, the Law had always taught it was trusting faithfulness in God.  A better way had been prophesied and taught before the Law of Moses had ever been given.  All humanity has fallen to unfaithfulness, but Jesus Messiah is the only one who was perfectly faithful to the Father.  It is by the faithfulness of Christ we are justified.  Israel had always appealed to the righteousness of Yahweh to deliver them.  Praise God we are saved by his faithfulness opposed to our own.

Last night I began studying the text for this week.  It is powerful.  Paul makes his counterarguments against these Missionaries by appealing to the experience of the Spirit and the true understanding of Abraham.  It will strengthen your faith in an amazing God of grace and mercy.  My goal is to cover Galatians 3:1-14.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Steven Hayes and his wife will join us November 4th.  Missy and I went to Faulkner with them back in the day.  He is the head basketball coach at Mount Dora Christian Academy.  More importantly, Steven and Sherrie lost a son to a tragic accident a few years back.  On that Sunday night, Steven will be talking with us about this horrible time in their lives and the importance of faith that has brought him to this point.  Everyone will be blessed by being here and we want you to invite others who may struggle with loss in their lives.  Please make plans to be with us.


The grace of God is so amazing, we struggle not to turn it into a works based system.  The problem is, when we are setting aside the grace of God in our lives and others.  We are justified by God alone.  None of our goodness adds to our salvation.  And when we are tempted to set up a works salvation we eventually divide the body of Christ, because we all differ in what is and what isn’t acceptable.  In trusting faithfulness, we experience the new creation brought about by the Messiah’s death.  We no longer live for ourselves and the old life of sin, but Christ who has come to live in us.  Being forgiven would have been amazing within itself, but Jesus lives in me so I may be transformed.  I begin to put to death my fleshly side and live for Jesus.  This is what unites us as a body of believers, not a set of rules.  What a great God we serve!  Let these verses transform your life and way of thinking.  Continue to ponder the questions in the sermon outlines and the Discover Bible Study on the back.  Live daily in light of Jesus.  Pray to the Father.  Allow the Spirit to do its work on you.  What an amazing God!

A Big Sunday

We continued our current series through the Book of Galatians.  Several of you continue to have positive things to say about learning the context of this letter in Bible class and its application through the sermon.  I had wanted to get through eleven verses this week but wasn’t able to get past four.  And those four verses about whipped me, because of all the back study.  But I really enjoyed the study.  It is one of the central understandings of Paul’s letter and the reason I entitled our series One Lord, One Table.  Paul fought for unity, even if people had differing cultures, practices and beliefs.  It was even the call of our Restoration fathers – Barton W. Stone and Thomas and Alexander Campbell.

20181008_071021[7961]Yesterday Mike McGee and myself met with our Care Groups for lunch after services.  Following the nature of the lesson, we set up one long table for everyone to eat.  And no, it’s not wrong for people to sit at different tables and booths, it’s the intent.  So, while it wasn’t something we had to do, we did it and it was pretty great.  There was an energy and a love shared during the meal I haven’t witnessed as much.  Several got up later and went to other parts of the table to talk with others.  It was encouraging, which is great because I know how much better it can be.  There are some special things happening right now.  Things are getting better and better all the time.

20181008_070854[7963]Sunday evening we met together, as a congregation, for an important meeting.  We talked about the progress of “The Vine Project”, as we finished phase one.  As Joe mentioned in the Friday update, this is a work in progress and not a final product.  The focus is helping to bring the lost to Christ and then to continue to help them move closer to being like Jesus in all aspects of their lives.  It is about seeing ourselves in that movement and helping one another.  No matter where we are in our spiritual growth, the Spirit still has much work to do on all of us.  The leadership will be the first to say the Spirit has been working on us.  We also know God isn’t finished.  If you didn’t get anything else from this meeting, know how much the leadership loves this church.  You don’t put this kind of time, and not love the church.  We have now begun phase two.  This phase is putting our convictions into action.  To hold each other accountable.  To see this as something more than what we want everyone else to do.  We are leaders and we must lead the way.  I have mentioned this several times, and I will mention it again, pray for us and God’s work through us.  That said, we believe Payton was an answer to those earlier prayers.  What he brings to this church fits perfectly with this culture change.  He has been working on something, for the beginning of the year, that will challenge all of us.  As they say, more to come…

Something else from yesterday, I noticed the area I sit for worship has grown in numbers.  Since talking about these young girls singing behind me, others have wanted to get closer to what is happening.  I got booted from my seat yesterday and I had to sit two rows in front of them.  I love it!  These girls are a blessing in our worship.  Their hearts ring forth.  Thanks to Jamie Brott, they have their own bulletin.  It has a place to color, words to listen for during the sermon, a place to write down names to pray for others and even a section they can put down words they didn’t understand during the lessons.  Some of them make it a point to show me what they did after worship.  My favorite part is seeing who they wrote down to pray for (some of you are on their list).  One wrote down “politics” for a word they didn’t understand.  I kind of hope they never learn.  🙂  These are sweet girls.


Let us be a church that lives for unity.  It is great to have small groups and different classes, but may they never become a point of division.  May we never get so wrapped up in our own groups that we fail to share the love of Christ with those we worship with each week.  It is good to have an inner circle, just like Jesus did on earth, but not to the neglect of the multitudes.  We fight for unity, just as Paul fought Peter over it.  May we never allow ones race, doctrinal beliefs, politics, social status, opinions, etc., divide the body of Christ.  Share your story of redemption and ask others to share theirs with you.  If you haven’t heard how God rescued others from this present evil age, you need to hear them.  Some of the ones I know, that you should know, is people like Bob and Marina Ragon, Jim and Kathy Patteson, Mike and Susan McGee, Bill and Liz Raikes, Lonnie and Rebecca Ledford, etc.  They have powerful stories of redemption and this is not a completed list.  All of these are different on many levels, but they all are united by the gospel of Christ.

Keep reading and contemplating the questions from yesterday’s outline.  Keep going over the Discovery Bible questions on the back of the outlines in the Arc Notebooks.  Don’t let Galatians be a good history lesson, but something that transforms you.  And don’t go through it thinking how other people need to hear this.  How does it pertain to you?  If we all do this, we will be amazed by the transformation that will happen in this church.

Two Are Better Than One


July 22 was the Sunday our projector went out.  For ten Sundays we used songbooks and ran off some of our newer songs.  I had no idea how difficult it would be or how much it would effect our song service.  Even though it took longer, we needed to be patient and determine what would be best for the future years to come.  We ended up with the latest technology, higher resolution, and less light for the projector to pass through to the screen.  Mike McGee did a fantastic job researching all the options out there.  On top of that, we now have two screens instead of one.  We have better coverage of the auditorium and we are able to see the stained glass behind the baptistry.  I believe everyone could tell a difference in the before and after.  I cannot thank John Pickerill enough for all he did to get it installed.  It projects a beautiful picture.

But the real question is whether it would make a difference in our congregational singing.  YES!  YES! YES!  Sunday afternoon I was still thinking about our morning worship.  The volume and energy was off the charts.  Not only was it the best song service we have had in 10 weeks, it is the best we have sounded in some time.  Maybe it just seemed that way, but it was very uplifting.  The singing was the highlight of my day.

After lunch, the men and women working on The Vine Project met from 1:00-5:30 pm.  It was exhausting, but also necessary.  Since February, these folks have been meeting on and off.  They are dedicated to the gospel of Christ and the future of this congregation.  You will hear more about what has been going on and a glimpse into the future this Sunday night.  We want everyone to make an effort to join us in the Fellowship at 5 pm.  It is important for everyone to come along with us in this process.  Add to that, Payton will present a BIG idea that goes along with The Vine Project.  The elders will take some time to talk about the physical improvements and answer questions.

Back to Sunday, we moved into the second chapter of Galatians.  These Bible classes are important to understand the context of Paul’s letter.  Lots of people quote passages from Galatians and many have no idea the setting.  That is what leads to false beliefs.  However, we understand that context must be applied in our own lives.  What we discussed yesterday sets up our text for next week (Gal. 2:11-21).  It is an important account that lead me to entitle our series “One Lord, One Table.”  Keep going through these questions from the sermon outlines.  Take an inner look at yourself.  It’s easy to listen to sermons and think of other people, but can you look within?  And yes, that includes me.  Those with the Arc Notebooks, keep going through “The Discovery Bible” questions on the back of the outline.  Let these things transform your life to be like Jesus.


The gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Messiah.  It wasn’t meant to be complicated.  Unfortunately, 2,000 years later we still struggle to keep it simple.  Culture has a lot to do with that, and yet, the gospel allows room for it.  The important thing is not allowing culture changes to become salvation issues.  But let’s take it a step further, culture changes should not divide us as a body of believers.  This doesn’t just occur on the “conservative” side of the church but also within “liberal” movement (I hate these terms, by the way).  What I mean is we can think our way of doing things is the right and only way.  Some can be better than others but we must leave room for differences.  Keep it simple.  If you begin to feel like you are drifting from certain groups within God’s family, focus on the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Share your story of redemption and the great things God is doing in your life.  You don’t have to agree on hot topic issues to encourage others.  You don’t have to get all the doctrines right to love your neighbor.  Live in the grace and mercy of God.

We Are Soooo Close!

When you walked into the auditorium yesterday, you noticed both screens and projectors have been put in place.  We are very close to having everything up and running!  John Pickerill has been working, with the electronics people, on placement and what needs to be done to get everything ready.  He and his crew have built the frames for the screens and run the wires (which is more complicated that you would think).  Hopefully things will be ready by next Sunday!  Of course, with technology today, you can run into glitches.  Either way, we are going to be blown away by the new system when it is completed.

So many good things are going on around our facilities right now.  Mark and Julie Andersson have been going through a long list of things that need to be fixed and updated.  Some of those things you will notice and some you will never see.

Those are some of the physical improvements being done.  But there has also been other improvements, if you will, that has begun spiritually.  Some of you have shared how the Book of Galatians has made an impression in their own life.  That was my prayer long before we began this letter of the Apostle Paul.  Understanding the context in Bible class and then making application in the sermon, the hope is transformation would begin.  Continue to look over and contemplate the questions from the lesson and the Discovery Bible Study in the Arc Notebooks.  Pray about these things and ask God to open your heart and mind to His leading.

Going along with this theme, the leaders and their wives, will be meeting again this coming Sunday afternoon to continue going through The Vine Project.  Please pray for us this week.  The first Sunday night of October the elders will share some of these meetings with the congregation.

42478973_1934448653288472_6084751984391356416_n Speaking of elders, one of them is recouping from his daughters wedding over the weekend. If you are counting, that is the last of Joe and Glenda’s four daughters. One more wedding to go and that will happen next summer. The good news: marrying off your sons is cheaper than daughters. But we are talking about Trevor, so who knows. Seriously, congratulations to Michael and Kirsten DeLoach!


Know your story of salvation.  I cannot stress this enough.  It is the thing that keeps you humble, merciful and forever grateful to an amazing God.  Know that the grace of Christ is enough.  Following laws and rules will not add to our salvation.  Yes, we are slaves of Jesus, but not so He will save us, but because He has saved us.  This is why knowing your story of redemption is so important.  I willfully submit my life to Him and continue to be like Him in every way.

Be defenders of the truth, just as Paul had been toward the Missionaries and the Gentile churches, and at the same time be loving, humble and merciful toward believers in Christ.  At the same time, rather than condemn opponents of God, bring them the reconciling power of grace.  Share your transformed life with them.  But in order to do that, you must know your story.

The Big Reveal!


The upstairs Lynn Center was finally revealed Sunday morning.  A group of our own people put in countless hours to transition this space.  The teenagers got the first look at their new room just before class.  They are excited, to say the least.  The rest of us got our time following worship.  Several of the teens came back that night to work on homework, play games and be together.  A couple of the young people brought friends.  This is going to be used for God’s glory for years to come.  Thanks to everyone who made this happen.

We are getting closer to the next big reveal – the new projection system.  While there is still more work to be done, you saw one of the screens installed in the auditorium.  Once everything comes in and is completed, we are all going to be surprised how much better it will be for worship.

Sunday morning we sang our newest song for the month, “I Woke Up This Morning”, as we began Bible class.  It is a simple and powerful song about keeping our minds on Jesus.  Continue to listen to it here and work on your part.

Sunday morning continued in our series on the Book of Galatians – One Lord, One Table.  In Bible class, we covered verses 6-10 of chapter one.  Paul jumps from an encouraging greeting to pronouncing curses on anyone who would teach a different gospel.  We looked closer into the context.  During worship we focused on two important aspects from the text and our Christian faith – our calling and being slaves of Christ.  What happens from here is up you.  In order for these verses to live in us, we must take time in prayer and introspection.  We must ask ourselves the questions we find in the sermon outline.  Take that next step to become more like Jesus.

2-Discovering-Discipleship-part-2-questionsTo help you in your pursuit of becoming more like Jesus, I have added a new section in your arc notebooks.  On the backside of this weeks sermon notes you will find a “Discovery Bible Study” section.  The same eight questions will be used every week.  It is to help you throughout the week.  It also works well in small groups.  This was developed by Final Command Ministries.  Start this week making these eight questions a part of your devotional time.

Speaking of outlines, many of you have the arc notebooks.  When you entered Bible class you saw new sheets for this weeks class and sermon.  We also had some of the sermon outlines in the foyer before worship.  If you do not have a notebook, the sermon outline will be in the bulletin as you come in.  I will put arc notebook sheets from today, and the ones from the week before, at the information desk in the foyer.  Each week we will have new outlines that can be put in your notebook.  A few more purchased notebooks this week.  We have a few more left for those who may want to get one.  Thanks to Reida Lewis, we have a few more choices for covers.


May we continue to be amazed by the grace of Christ.  Our Lord and Master rescued us by His death and resurrection.  Nothing more.  There is no Jesus+.  We bow before our God, giving praise forever and ever.  We submit to Him.  We die to ourselves in order to live for Christ.  We are baptized as Christ comes to live within us.  The Spirit of God begins a work in us that could not be accomplished by the Law of Moses or any of our own moral laws today.  We are new creations, living in a new reality, transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son.  The gospel.  The Good News of Jesus Christ!  Don’t let anyone tell you differently – even if an angel shows up and tells you otherwise.

What A Day!

Sunday morning was one of my favorites in some time.  We have been advertising the new Galatians series, which deals with the content in Bible class and the application for the sermon.  We also had notebooks put together for those who would like to use them for notes and to go deeper.  I cannot remember a time when our Bible class was as full as it was yesterday morning.  It was exciting, to say the least.  Our worship assemblies were also filled with our own people, as well as guests from the community.  What a great start to Galatians.  But remember, the goal is for the content and application to produce transformation.  Use your notes and notebooks to help you go deeper this week.  What is the next step you need to take in your life, right now, that would draw you closer to Christ?  Reflect on the text.  Memorize a portion of those verses that have meaning to your life.

Speaking of the notebooks, I anticipated confusion and glitches that I hadn’t thought about.  Let me address some of those:

  • If you got one of the new notebooks everything you needed this week was in there.  Only the few who got theirs a week before had to add the sermon notes.
  • This Sunday there will be new sheets to add.  We will have the ones for Bible class and the sermon in the Fellowship Hall, for those who come to class.  We will have a few of the sermon notes in the auditorium for those who did not come to class.
  • REMEMBER: the notebook is divided into three sections – Bible Class, Sermon Series and Going Deeper.  Those header pages were put on cardstock to make it easier to find.  You can also purchase dividers that will make it easier.  If you need help getting them, let me know.  The Bible class material goes into the Bible class section.  The sermon questions go into the sermon section.  And anything titled “Going Deeper” goes into that last section to help you keep things organized.
  • If at some point you feel like you are running out of room in your notebook, you can get bigger discs (binders) that can be popped in and out to give you more room.  If you get to that point, let me know, and I will help you find them.  They are usually no more than $4 and can be purchased in a variety of colors.
  • I am planning to put past notes on the information desk in the foyer during those times you are not able to attend.  You can get with someone else to get the answers to the questions and outlines.
  • We sold all of the arc notebooks Sunday, and that was with an additional 20 or 30 extra from those who had signed up to get one.  We began a new sign up list and will have more this week.  Those who signed up are guaranteed a notebook.

Sunday night we had our monthly church get together in the Fellowship Hall.  We did one of our Circle-Up singings with a few of the newer songs and a few you requested.  We also listened to and sang our newest song – “I Woke Up This Morning.”  Simple.  Passionate.  Catchy.  I’m pretty sure some of you “woke up this morning” singing this song.  We will start off our Sunday morning class with the song this week.  You can listen to it here.  We also celebrated September birthdays and enjoyed some time sitting around talking.  Stephanie Chisholm brought her arc notebook and showed me the design she put on the front.  You need to see it.  Others of you have mentioned doing things to make theirs more personal.  Go for it and make sure you show me.

This coming Sunday is the big reveal for the upstairs teen room.  There has been a group working long hours to make this a very special space.  The teenagers will get the first glimpse and everyone else is invited after worship to see it for themselves.  Believe me, the adults are going to be jealous.

Once again, I couldn’t have gotten everything I needed to get done without some special helpers.  Helen Rathel and Gaye Stanley worked two days getting the new song sheets into all the notebooks for Sunday worship.  It takes a lot longer than you would think.  Also my wife has continued to come through, helping me with the notebooks.  All last week there were people working around the building to fix, improve or get things ready.  I’m almost afraid to mention them all, but Mark and Julie Andersson, Jay and Chris Dean, John Pickerill, Ashely Wilson, and of course, my office ladies, worked throughout the week.  Things are getting better and better every week.


Sunday is over.  We have read and studied the Galatians text.  We have looked at ways it applies to our own lives.  Now is the time for transformation.  If you have committed your life to God, you realize Sunday is only a launching point, not where the real work is done.  We allow the Spirit to continue to do its work in us by the renewing of our minds; by not being conformed to this age; transformation!  How did the Spirit speak to you in Galatians 1:1-5?  Was it a realization that you were rescued from this present evil age?  Was it knowing you can now taste and enjoy the blessings of an age that has not yet come?  What spoke to you?

Let me also encourage you to know your story.  To know what God saved you from in your life.  If you were raised going to church, raised in a home with godly parents and were considered a “good kid”; it will be important to take the time to know why you needed to be rescued from this present evil age.  Knowing your sinful past brings a proper understanding of why you needed salvation.  It brings a response of praise and worship.  What’s your story?