Coming Events

Hallstrom Plantarium (Star of Wonder)
Friday, December 09, 2016, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Join us at the Hallstrom Planetarium at the IRSC to view the Star of Wonder (Magi Star) - then proceed to Heathcote Gardens and enjoy the beautiful light display ...

Christmas Pageant Ft. Lauderdale - Bus Trip
Saturday, December 10, 2016, 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Come join us for the acclaimed Christmas Pageant at the 1St Baptist Church in Ft. Lauderdale show starts at 2.00 P.M.   We will be traveling on the Church ...

The Epic Journey

No Trust No Christmas
Dec 14, 2016

It is tempting for us at times to brush by the events of Christmas and miss just how much trust was involved. Mary learns that she is pregnant, normally a time of great joy and excitement. But she has to figure out how to explain to her parents and her fiancé, Joseph that she did not get pregnant from another man. She has to trust God that the people she loves will understand and accept her story. Mary and Joseph have to make a treacherous journey to Bethlehem for a census. Mary is very pregnant, together they have to trust God to protect them during this incredible journey. When they arrive in Bethlehem they discover there is no place for them to stay. They have to again trust God to provide for them. All of this is before Jesus is even born. Can you imagine the thoughts they must have been entertaining? I would be thinking, “My gosh if I am having this many challenges already, I can only imagine what kind of challenges are still to come as Jesus is growing-up?” Yet, with each challenge Mary and Joseph expressed a tremendous trust in God. As they demonstrated their trust, their relationship with God became more and more solid. In fact, nothing, not even the horrific events of the crucifixion could cause them to lose faith in God.

Imagine their experience in your modern day life. Today with all the modern conveniences, all the resources that are available to provide you assistance, all the established churches and social agencies determined to provide food, clothing, and shelter, imagine how easy it would be to trust all of these things and not God. We look back at Mary and Joseph and we are amazed by their trust, but the truth is when you have very little you discover quickly how much you really have when you only have God. In other words, Mary and Joseph would look at our lives and say, “With all that is available to you, it must be extremely difficult to trust God?”

Mary and Joseph were symbolic for the nation of Israel. Throughout Israel’s history they had experienced periods of great trust. These periods of great trust in God usually came when it felt like the whole world was coming against them. They would confess that, “If the Lord is not on our side there is no hope for us.” Then there would be periods where there was a tremendous lack of trust in God. This would usually come in times of great prosperity and everything seemed certain. We experienced that in our own nation following 9/11. Churches saw incredible opportunities to share God’s love and hope. Today, people are openly challenging the relevancy of church.

It does seem easier to trust God when you are at the end of your rope, than when it feels like everything is going your way. Perhaps the reason we do not get to experience “everything going our way” for long periods of time is because we subconsciously know we have misaligned our trust and so we sabotage ourselves . We sabotage ourselves by thinking that the reason everything is going well is because we believe we might have exceptional work habits, monetary resources, or problems solving skills, therefore, we ultimately put more trust in ourselves than in God which always leads to failure.

The Epic Journey

Fear Not But I Am Afraid
Dec 12, 2016

I always find it a little bit ironic that when God chooses to be revealed, the opening words are almost always, “Fear Not”. Like what emotion are you supposed to have when the God of the Universe is revealed? The shepherds were tending to their flock and an angel of the Lord appeared before them. Luke tells us, “they were terrified”. What does the angel say? “Fear Not. I bring you good news.” The disciples were huddled in a locked door following Jesus’ death. Why? They were afraid of course. What does Jesus say when He walks through the door, “Fear Not”. Isn’t it interesting the number of times God wants to deliver a message of hope and we interpret it as a message of fear. God wants to tell us Good News, but before He can tell us the Good News He has to tell us to not be afraid.

I recently read the following story that happened here in south Florida. Some of you may have actually seen this message in the sky. Jerry Stevens was a sky writing pilot. In 2002 he felt compelled to take his crop duster called “Holy Smoke” and write, “God is Great”. That message caused the FBI to come and interview Jerry because many residents were afraid that another terrorist attack was being planned. You will recall that the terrorists of 9/11 cried out “Allah is Great”. The Tampa Tribune reported that one resident thought maybe this was a signal for other terrorists to take action because of the message in the sky. Another resident said she did not know if she should run into her house and take cover. Fear was very prevalent and in many ways it was difficult for people to see Jerry’s additional messages - “God loves you. Jesus forgives you. Or U + God =’s Happy Face”. Many people miss out on God’s Good News because of fear. Fear of being hurt, disappointed, or looking foolish, perhaps that is the reason God starts with the declaration, “Fear Not”

Have you ever noticed that when someone tells you not to do something that you may have the tendency to do the exact opposite. So for example when the God of the Universe tells you “Fear Not” have you ever noticed that you are suddenly filled with fear. Peter was filled with fear, Jesus told him not to be afraid. Peter gets out of the boat and starts walking and then guess what - he becomes afraid again. He became filled with fear because the current surroundings were overwhelming his ability to trust Jesus completely. But Peter’s lapse in trust reveals to us something about God that should give us courage the next time our current surroundings overwhelm our ability to trust. Peter experienced Jesus lifting him out of the water, he experienced Jesus rescuing him. Peter experienced God’s message of hope, love, and peace even while he was overwhelmed with fear.

The people of Israel had the same experience. They have been forced out of their lands, they were like Syrian refugees, eating different foods if they could find any, listening to different dialects, experiencing radically different customs and traditions. Their identity was slowing eroding away. They were filled with fear as they did not know if they could trust their future. Isaiah brings to them a message of hope. He reveals to them God’s message, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). They were left with a decision - Can we trust this message or should we choose to remain in fear as a way of protecting ourselves?

What would you choose? What fear rears its ugly head when God’s message of hope, love, and peace is presented to you?

Who do you know needs to hear the message of Christmas, “Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).

The Epic Journey

How to Win an Argument
Dec 08, 2016

I just turned off my television. Why? Because once again I was watching grown adults engage in argument quite poorly. It really is a sad state of affairs to watch both sides engage in argument and neither side has a clue what the other person is saying. I will forever be grateful to Stephen Covey and his teaching about how to win an argument, “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” Paul teaches that Christians should not engage in argument for the sake of arguing, but if you engage in argument be gentle to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient (2 Timothy 2:24). Another lesson I learned about winning an argument took place for me in Leesburg. I was on a spiritual retreat called the “Walk to Emmaus”. I had heard a speaker say, “It is more important to show love than to be right.” When I heard that statement I realized that a lot of times when I would engage in an argument I would do it with the motive to win with the absence of love. This meant there were times that I would say things that were hurtful and prideful. There were also times I would say things that were truthful, but there was no grace and no love. I may have won the argument, but I lost the relationship. At the end of the day the best way to win an argument is to ask these questions, “Is this the way I would want to have an argument with Jesus? Will the person I am having an argument with feel loved, honored, and cherished by God because of the way I am conducting myself?

Some Great Thoughts About Winning an Argument

When arguing with a stupid person, be sure the one you are arguing with isn't doing the same thing.

You have not converted a person because you have silenced that person.

There are two sides to every question. Greek proverb

A long dispute means both parties are wrong. Voltaire

I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. Cyrus Ching

If you win all your arguments, you'll end up with no friends
Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts and Funny Sayings.

The Epic Journey

Search and You Will Find
Dec 05, 2016

The Magi entered into Herod's massive palace, the palace of the king searching for THE KING. I wonder what their facial expression was when they discovered that the king did not know where to find THE KING? We do know Herod's outlook - he and all Jerusalem were disturbed. How disturbed are you these days that people do not know where to find THE KING?

The Magi had a star that pointed them the way, how will you point people towards THE KING this Christmas?

Herod ordered the Magi, "Go and make a careful search for the child..." We know that Herod had evil intentions, you do not, so how will you make careful search for THE KING this Christmas? How will you go about worshipping THE KING?

The Epic Journey

Rest: How Much Would You Pay for a Nap?
Nov 30, 2016

I must be feeling nostalgic these days. Maybe I am just tired and I need some rest? Have you ever had one of those days when you just wanted to take a break, close your eyes and dream of yesterdays? As I sat down to reflect today and then to share my musings I found myself drawn to this verse, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). I love that verse, especially when I feel like I just need a little time out, just a little rest. When I read that verse I think about Psalm 23 - “The Lord is my Shepherd, He makes me lie down in green pastures…” I also think of Isaiah 40:30-31, “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

I think part of my weariness, my desire for rest, is realizing how complicated our world has become. Do you sense that the world has become much more difficult these days? I really felt my spirit lifted when I read these words from Robert Fulghum, “Think what a better world it would be if we all -the whole world- had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess. And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” ― All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Maybe I am just missing kindergarten.

The other day I came across this entrepreneur’s business for helping people find rest in their busy and hectic world. The business is called MetroNaps. It actually started on the 24th floor of the Empire State Building. Customers could go up to the 24th floor, take off their shoes and climb into a chair that was similar to a dentist chair, put on some headphones, and rest for about 20 minutes. At the 20 minute mark the chair would lightly shake and vibrate you awake from you rest. The cost for this time of rest is $14.00. This kind of rest is always good when you are describing physical fatigue, but many people are not just physically fatigued, they are also emotionally and spiritually fatigued. Many people, especially this time of the year, are just plain worn-out and a 20 minute nap will not solve that kind of weariness.

The rest that a person in this condition needs is a soul rest, an experience of having one’s soul restored. Soul restoration is what Isaiah was describing when he gave the image of being lifted up on wings of eagles. When David describes God as a Shepherd, who cares for all of our needs and addresses our worries, David is describing a soul restoration experience. This soul restoration experience can only be found when we find our rest in Jesus.

How does Jesus promote rest? Prayer. Jesus would intentionally seek out places and times to be alone with the Father. He would listen intently for the still small voice of God. He would reach out to the gentle and humble heart of God. When you are in the presence of a God who has incredibly strength which is equally matched with gentleness and humility you cannot help but feel your spirit in a state of rest.

Well that’s enough musing for now I am going to go take a nap, but first I think I will go and rest in the presence of God with a time of prayer.

© 2016 First United Methodist Church | Fort Pierce