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: Unwavering Faith

Pastor Terry Tatum To say the last couple of weeks have been challenging would be an understatement. At times it’s been down-right hard and discouraging. Earlier this month we had our staff and their families tested for COVID-19 and three tested positive. Since then all three have tested negative and have shown no symptoms of the virus. But then earlier this week we found out that Pastor Craig and his household had been exposed to the virus and were experiencing mild symptoms. It was later confirmed that they did indeed have Covid-19 and are currently recovering in isolation according to …

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 Freedom

Pastor Terry Tatum Over the last few weeks our lead pastor Craig Carter has been taking us through a sermon series to discover what is essential in life. This subject is personal for me because, like many of you, my world was flipped upside down on October 10, 2018 when Hurricane Michael hit Bay County. In my personal life and in my professional life God literally blew away a lot that I had believed was essential that day. Though the initial months were hard, I’ve come to believe that God blessed us through the hurricane. In many ways our lives …

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 …

Essential: God’s Perspective

Pastor Craig Carter As most of you are well aware, we were scheduled to resume in-person worship in our newly renovated church facility last Sunday, June 7. With everything in place and ready to go, we received word on Friday, two days before the planned opening, that we did not have the required certificate of occupancy and services could not be held in the building until several issues were remedied. Needless to say, that news was quite disappointing and very frustrating since we have endured delay after delay and setback after setback in the twenty months since the destruction of …