Gideon

Pastor Craig Carter Having finished reading through the Old Testament Book of Joshua in our Summer Book Club, we are now turning our attention to the Book of Judges.  Our Adult Discipleship Director, Mindy Clemons, an Asbury Theological Seminary student, pointed out in a message last week that Judges chronicles a sad time in the history of the nation of Israel. Following their invasion and conquest of the Promised Land, God’s people turned from the Lord and rebelled against His commands. As a result, they suffered the consequences of their disobedience and ended up defeated by their enemies and in …

Caleb

Pastor Craig Carter Like many adults, I enjoy some good summer reading. I took a couple of books on a recent vacation, one of them being Greenlights, the autobiography by actor Matthew McConaughey. It was an interesting read as he is a fascinating character, to say the least.  Another fascinating biography is found in our Summer Book Club readings – Caleb. His story is told in Joshua chapters 14-15, but to understand what we’re told about Caleb there, we must first be familiar with the prequel which is contained in the Old Testament Book of Numbers, chapters 13-14.  The Israelites …

Sacred 4-Letter Words: FULL

Pastor Craig Carter In our current sermon series, we’re looking at some English words consisting of four letters that help us live as God intends us to live. But they are not the type we normally associate with the phrase, “four-letter words.” Instead, they are Sacred 4-Letter Words that enable us to be holy as God is holy. Last week we observed that our #1 enemy in living the Christian life is SELF. It is “the disease of me” that has infected every member of the human race from Adam and Eve onward. Jesus applied the cure when He is …

A New Year of Anticipation

Pastor Craig Carter Today is the second Sunday of Advent. As we anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas we also look forward to the day when Christ will come again. The Apostle Paul describes Jesus’ promised return in this way… The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout,           with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God … Then we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT) How would you respond to this news? Your father is coming! It all depends on the situation, doesn’t it? …

How to Live with Others (Part 2)

Pastor Craig Carter This fall, we are exploring the New Testament Letter of James. It begins with a claim that life is a series of tests consisting of trials and temptations. While Satan wants us to fail these tests so that we stumble and fall, God wants us to pass them all because they enable us to grow and develop as Christians. Given that life is a test, it shouldn’t surprise us there is one day going to be a final exam. Jesus suggested as much during His earthly ministry. And since the Lord hopes we pass with flying colors, …

How to Live: Series Introduction

Pastor Craig Carter It’s sometimes said, “You are what you eat” (so don’t become a cinnamon roll!). That’s true to a degree, but it’s more correct to say, “You are what you do.” It’s not an oversimplification to suggest that if you help, you’re a helper or that if you encourage, you’re an encourager. On the other hand, if you complain, you’re a complainer and if you lie, you are a liar. You are what you do so if you do good things, you’re a good person. But if you do bad things, well … you get the picture, right? …

Essential: Becoming

Pastor Craig Carter What do you want to be? Ask that question of children and you’d expect them to say things like, “I want to be a firefighter or an astronaut or a baseball player or a dancer.” Ask that same question to the kids’ parents and you’ll probably get a radically different response: “I want my child to be kind, honest, hard-working, fair, compassionate, loving…” Parents are more concerned about who their children become as a person than they are about what they do as a profession. That sentiment is shared by our Heavenly Father. God is more interested …

Essential: Belonging

Pastor Craig Carter This spring when government officials issued “stay at home” orders there was a great deal of debate about what were considered essential services. Remember, you couldn’t go to stores selling clothing, jewelry, or sporting goods, but you could still buy lottery tickets, liquor, and firearms (all deemed essential). You could get your car serviced or your pool cleaned, but you couldn’t get a haircut, have your nails done, or go for routine dental visits. Sorry to bring up those painful memories and start the debate all over again. As a pastor, I was glad that Florida’s Gov. …

Essential: God’s Anointing

Pastor Craig Carter As Christians, we oftentimes use language that is meaningless to the unbelieving world. I’m not even sure we even know what we’re talking about in many instances. Last Sunday, I quoted a verse from 1 John that reads something like this in many translations: Jesus Christ is the propitiation {RSV: expiation} for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2 ESV) Do you know what propitiation or expiation means? Neither do I! That’s why I used the New Living Translation: Jesus Christ is the sacrifice that …

Essential: God’s Forgiveness

Pastor Craig Carter One of the perplexing and troubling things about COVID-19 is its unpredictability. Some folks contract the virus and don’t even know it – they are asymptomatic. Others get it and suffer only mild symptoms. And others are severely affected by the disease and their lives threatened. Health care professionals are still trying to figure out why the coronavirus effects different people in such a wide variety of ways. But one thing is known: persons with a compromised or suppressed immune system are more susceptible. Folks with heart issues or diabetes, along with cancer survivors and organ transplant …