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 …

Essential: The Word of the Lord

Pastor Craig Carter I’m happy to be back in action following my “COVID vacation.” My daughter and I recently tested positive for the coronavirus and we’re fairly certain everyone in our household had it also. We thank God that our symptoms were relatively mild and we’re trusting the Lord that we will suffer no long-term effects. While contracting the coronavirus did provide me a break from work, it wasn’t necessarily fun or relaxing for me or anyone else in my family. But one thing we did enjoy was the prayers and expressions of love and support we received from many …

Essential: God’s Promises

Pastor Craig Carter A couple of years ago, my wife Lee and I went out for an anniversary dinner. When I made the reservation I mentioned that we would be celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary … in the hopes we’d get a free dessert! So when the waiter came to our table, he offered his congratulations (but no dessert). After the waiter left, a guy sitting in the next booth said, “Hey, I couldn’t help but hear that you’ve been married 36 years. Wow, that’s great. My wife and I have been married just a couple of years. So, we’d …

Essential: God’s Power

Pastor Craig Carter According to Luke’s gospel, Jesus ended His earthly ministry by speaking these words to His disciples: “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” (Luke 24:49 NLT) It’s interesting that Jesus’ final words focused on “power” because that’s exactly how He was introduced as well. When Jesus’ mother, Mary, was informed that she would give birth to a son who would be the Lord’s Messiah, she asked how this was possible. The angel answered, …

Essential: God’s Presence

Pastor Craig Carter As our regathering and rebuilding process continues over the summer, we’re looking at what is essential to our existence as a congregation in a sermon series by that title. So far, we have identified that the most basic ingredient needed is God Himself and secondarily, we need each other to truly be the Church, the Body of Christ. Now we’re exploring specific things provided by God and His people. As we resume in-person worship for the first time in three months and occupy a place to call our own after 20 months, I’d suggest we don’t want …