Unity Day in Saint Augustine.

Next Saturday, August 24, one of our friends, Rick Smith, is a part of hosting Unity Day in Saint Augustine from 8am to 5pm.  It will be held at 10 North Holmes Blvd.  I and some friends are planning to be there.  If you have the freedom to take part, I encourage you to come on out and join us.  If not, please join us in praying the prayer God invites us to pray from 2nd Chronicles 7:14  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

Hope to see you there!

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Remember who you are!

I haven’t been to see the live action Lion King yet, but the original came out when our kids were small.  I’ve probably seen it 100 times.  Spoiler alert here, if you missed it, but a crucial moment in the movie comes when Simba has a spiritual encounter with his father who appeals to Simba with all the authority of that James Earl Jones voice, “Simba, remember who you are!”

Do you know who you are?

I’m the sort of person who can get carried away in the moment.  How things are going has an affect on how I see myself.  In good times and hard times, it’s easy for me to forget that I am God’s child, part of a royal priesthood, I call God, “Father.”  I am welcome at his table.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ Jesus lives in me.  I am never alone.  I am never forgotten.  Never forsaken.  And God invites me to represent him as his child and a citizen in his kingdom.  This is not because God needs my help, for he certainly does not.  It is simply because of who I am – his child.

It’s easy to forget.

Last night, I was reminded of Ephesians 1:5 – that through Christ, we are adopted as son and daughters.  We looked again at Ephesians 2:1-10.  It’s a free gift – not something we’ve earned.  “for we have been saved by grace through faith – this is not of ourselves.  It’s the free gift of God.”  The work we do, the works God has in mind for us to do, flow from the new identity God has given us.  He won’t love us any more if we succeed.  He won’t love us any less if we fail.  And he will not ever cease to call us his beloved child.

What helps you remember?

Earlier this summer, we spent a week of family vacation in the Venice, Florida area.  We’ve been vacationing there as a family since 2003.  There’s something about Venice sunsets that remind me who God is and who I am.  Prayer helps, too.  There’s something about praising God for who he is, and taking time to examine my heart before him that reminds me of who I am.  Good music does it.  A good book.  My small group helps, too.  Time with brothers and sisters in Christ who encourage me to keep pursuing Christ, who speak into my life, and who pray with me.

I’m thinking I’m not the only one who gets forgetful.  What reminds you?  May this be a reminder.  You are precious in the eyes of God the Father, worth the blood of God the Son, and called to be filled with God the Spirit!

If you want to learn more about finding our identity in Christ, check out the Covenant Triangle Tool.

 

 

 

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Eat with, Encourage, and Pray for…One Another

You can’t do “one-another” things by yourself.
Have you ever noticed how many “one another” passages there are in the Bible?  Based on a quick google search, quite a few people have noticed because quite a few lists came up.  God’s word encourages us to be with one another.  “Be at peace with one another.”  “Love one another.” “Serve one another.”  “Bear one another’s burdens.” “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” “Care for one another.”  “Bear one another in love.” “Encourage one another.” “Be kind to one another.”  Those things are not very easy to do in isolation.  And there are so many more.
This is one of my favorites, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:24-25)
I think one reason there are so many “one another” scriptures is because it is God’s plan for us to follow Jesus with people we know well.   I recognize my need for community most profoundly when I see myself as sent.  I find that one of the the surest ways to get discouraged  when seeking to live life on mission is when I find myself alone.  I need community or I am prone to give up.
And I bet I’m not  – alone – in that.
So if you are living life on mission or are thinking about it, you are invited to get together this Sunday night from 6:00 to 8:00 at Kent and Kris Wehmeier’s home to do what Hebrews 10:25 tells us to do!   Let’s get together, share life, and stir one another up to love and good deeds.  Email me at pastorjessealexander@gmail.com if you think you can make it.  Just let us know and I’ll fill you in on how you can help complete the feast!
I believe we’ll be eating brats and chicken.
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Fasting and Praying for the First Coast

 

I want to invite you to fast and pray with me.
Earlier this week, I was speaking with Heather about the early vision for the work that has become LoveFirst Coast.  It was seven years ago and I had just turned 47 – 20 years from retirement.  The church I was serving was struggling, and I had discerned a key problem was lack of spiritual maturity.  I began praying, thinking, and studying anything I could find on discipleship.  As a result, I developed a multiplying strategy that would start small and get us to 60 “deeply surrendered disciples of Jesus” in the matter of a few years.  I felt good about that.  I decided to apply the same multiplying strategy beyond the church and discovered the impact to be 500,000 twenty years.  That got me pretty excited.  Based on the math, it seemed doable.  I began to imagine renewed churches, vibrant ministries, and the Micah-6-8 impact of a half-million followers of Jesus loving mercy, doing justice, and walking humbly with the Lord.
You may notice that there’s a lot of “me” in that.  That was part of the problem in the church, too, no doubt.  But God had a surprise for me.
The unmistakable voice of the Lord interrupted my triumphalistic day dream to say, “add a zero.”
Humbled.  That’s the only word for it.  Add a zero to 60 and you get 600.  That would be larger than the church I was serving.  Add a zero to the already-crazy sum of 500,000 and you get 5,000,000.  Five million deeply surrendered disciples of Jesus?   That would be larger than the denomination that ordained me.  How could that happen?  How could I do that?
Pretty clear, though, isn’t it.  Only God could do that!
It’s been seven years.  It’s summer.  It’s a season for reflecting.  If we are on the way to 5,000,000 deeply surrendered disciples, I can’t see it.  But I’m content to be in a movement of discipleship and am learning to trust God for the results.  We can plant, water, and even harvest, but God causes the growth.
That said, we’ve been faithful.  I can count ten folks who are equipped and motivated to make disciples.  But it seems like many of our efforts at discipling others hit road blocks.  Even though we know a little about helping others “learn from Jesus how to live like Jesus,” it is only the Lord can open up those doors.  So borrowing from a pattern I find in scripture, you are invited to join me in humbling ourselves before God to ask to move on the First Coast, to open hearts to being discipled.
Please pray with us.
Lord, we ask that you would move on the First Coast of Florida.  We ask that your Spirit would move, that you would open the hearts of the people you place in our path, and lead us to walk with them such that we all learn from Jesus to live like Jesus.  To your glory!
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Sustaining Joy and Hope

Whenever I start to struggle to sustain hope and joy in this life on mission, I find that reflecting on two questions gives me insight on the source of the problem:
1) Where am I seeking significance?
2) Where am I seeking security?
Of course, the best answer to both questions is God.  By the work of the Spirit, through faith in Jesus Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. We are God’s children!  Nothing offers greater significance than that!   Nothing could be more secure!
But still, many messages about that suggest I need to pursue security and significance elsewhere.  And quite a few of those messages are coming from my own fears and pride.
We’ll be taking a look at the last chapter of Philippians for insight.  I hope you can join us, but regardless, may the Lord lead you to sustained joy and hope!
We’ll meet at the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church, 3450 CR210, 6:45pm, July 14.  I hope to see you there.
For your calendar:
July 28 – 6:00 – 8:30  Listen Love Pray and Eat.
August 11 – 6:45 – 8:00  Worship Gathering
August 25 – 5:00 -8:30 Neighborhood Ministry Summit Listen Love Pray and Eat
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Demonstrating Hope

Wherever you go, God is sending you!
1) June 2019 is just about to slip into history… I want to offer a brief word of encouragement.  This morning, I was thinking about how tempting it is to use all our energies trying to shape the culture: we can throw ourselves into politics or activism.   We can raise money, support causes, and start an issues related blog.  I’m not opposed to such things.  Followers of Jesus should seek to influence the world and promote justice and social righteousness.  However, our hope needs to rest elsewhere – and we need to use our energies to follow Jesus faithfully in the culture we live in and encourage others to do the same.  No matter how successful we may be in our efforts to change the world, we will have trouble in it.  So, as the author or Hebrews put it, let us encourage one another and stir one another up to love and good deeds – even if our world remains troubling.
And what if the times are not good?  Unsettling times offer great opportunities to bear witness to Christ and share the hope found in the Gospel.  By trusting in the Lord, as we pray for God’s kingdom to come, as we experience Gods love and let it overflow to loving  our neighbors, as serve our city, and as we do the work of being disciples who make disciples, we can demonstrate to the world what hope looks like!   So keep your eyes on Jesus.  Read the word.  Sing hymns and anthems of praise.  Share meals.  Listen for the voice of the Lord.  Respond in faith.  Choose joy.  And if you do, the Lord may just lead some people to ask you to give an reason for the hope you possess.
2) Our next worship gathering is Sunday, July 14 at 6:45pm at Faith Community Church – 3450 CR210, 32259.
3) Put the evening of July 28 on your calendar.   We want to gather to eat, pray, and encourage one another.
4)  We have three huddles meeting – but they’ll be off and on through July.  If you are interested in discipleship, let me know and we’ll get you connected.
Prayer Requests:
For God to open up new discipling relationships for those in our Huddles.
Again…
God is good.
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Happy Father’s Day

You know I’d like to come to the First Coast on Father’s Day weekend?

How about John the Baptist?

Here’s something prophesied about him in Luke 1:17  “And he will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Lord, we could use some of that around here!

One sign of the Kingdom of God being ushered into a place is that fathers will have hearts stirred up with love for their kids!  There are some great dads here on the First Coast who love their kids really well  – but too many dads are absent, distant, or distracted – and many kids don’t even know their dads.  That is at the heart of many of our challenges.

Some of us are going to gather to pray for fathers (among other things) tomorrow night.    Would you do me a favor?  Wherever you are – whenever you are reading this – would you mind taking a few minutes, thinking of the dads you know, and asking God to stir up their hearts to love their kids.

May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you shalom!

 

 

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