Annual Meeting This Sunday

We’re holding our Annual Meeting this Sunday evening (3/18), 6:00-8:30. If you’d like to join us, send me an email at and I’ll send you information.  We’ll be updating our story (so far…)

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Jesus is Lord!

Jesus is Lord!
I bet you have heard that one a few times, right?  It was the most basic (and  presumptive) creed in the early church.  But what does it mean?  What were they saying when they said it?  And what are we saying when we affirm it?
Like a slogan, it’s almost too easy to say.  We may say it without thinking about what it means.  (That’s certainly been true for me.)  But we simply cannot be who God calls us to be unless and until we know and accept Jesus for who he is – as Lord.
Worship Celebration this Sunday night, 6:45pm, Faith Community Church in the St. John’s Room!
Come and be equipped for life on mission.
I hope to see you there!
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Tasting the Tampa Underground

This past week, Heather and I traveled to Tampa to the Underground Open Conference.  It was a very full three days.  If you are engaged in missional work or leading a missional community/network, I recommend learning what you can from the Underground.  And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put the conference on your schedule.

The theme was “To Change the World”.   I’ve been thinking and writing recently about changing the world in the right direction for a long time to come.  I want to see the world to changed!  I don’t just want want to see injustice, oppression, and evil diminished and expelled.  I want to see relationships restored, marriages strengthened, families blessed, people thriving and healthy, workplaces that cultivate dignity, work that provides and brings joy and satisfaction, for the people to know God as they are known!  (How about you?)  Well, the Underground Network is actively engaged in taking part in joining God in his work in Tampa.

Tampa Underground is a network of 200 or so micro-churches that are aimed at releasing God’s people to do the work they are called to do wherever they are.  I think I heard that about 6,000 people are involved, but that its kind of hard  to know.  They have micro-churches engaged in all kinds of work: some are mainly communal organized for neighborhoods, immigrants, or athletes.  Others are engaged in elevating struggling neighborhoods or failing schools.  Some are pushing against the darkness by taking on prostitution, racism, human trafficking, addiction, etc.  The work is both focused and broad, pioneering, and yet sustained.  They are ready to come along side and equip anyone who is feeling called to a group of people.  So the work they do is potentially as broad as the concerns God stirs in the hearts of any of his people.

It is one of the most multi-cultural, multi-ethnic group of Christians I’ve ever learned from or worshiped with.  Two biblical points I’d like to make.  Hanging out with them gave me a sense of what it means to be “no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female…”  because our new identity found in Christ Jesus makes us one.  (Galatians 3:26-29)  Secondly, what I saw there makes it easier to believe that Jesus meant it when he told Peter that the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against the church.  They are fighting a spiritual battle there.  It is a hope filled group.  But they were also very realistic.  They emphasized that this is missionary work.  It’s hard.  They said that suffering and pain are pretty guaranteed for anyone who steps into it.

In terms of our work, it helped me get a sense of what we’re doing right and how we could make some adjustments here.   It’s good to learn from someone else’s experience.  It was encouraging, too.  We are doing a lot of things pretty well already.

That’s enough for now.  But if you’d like to learn more, check out this documentary on the Tampa Underground.

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March 4 Worship Gathering

Our next gathering for worship will be Sunday, March 4, 2018 in the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church at 6:30pm.  Our annual meeting is March 18.  Details to follow.

Hope you can take part!

And thanks to all who prayed for the retreat, by the way.  We had a great weekend away.  Truly restful and renewing!  Let’s do it again!

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Prayer and Fasting

I’m excited about what God has in store for us at this weekend’s retreat!  We’ll be focusing on prayer, and in preparation, some of us are going to be praying and fasting.  (We are not likely to fast during the retreat – we generally eat very well!)  I am praying and fasting for breakthrough – for the Holy Spirit to move in our hearts to empower us for discipleship.  You are invited to fast and pray with us this week.
Below are a few practical suggestions for how to approach this time of prayer and fasting.
About Fasting:

1) Fasting is often about choosing not to eat, but you can fast from anything that gives you an appetite.  Earlier this year, I enjoyed (seriously) fasting from food several days, but on a different occasion I planned a three day fast.  This is what I did:

Monday – a media fast.  No Facebook, news, or TV.
Tuesday – a fast from sweetness.  No cream or sweetener in my coffee. (I drink a lot of coffee). Nothing sweet to the taste.
Wednesday – a food fast, but with hot tea and water through the day.  (The caffeine helps me stay sharp, and the water helps me stay hydrated.  It’s easy to become dehydrated while fasting, because many of us take in liquids at meal time).

2) Often, people ask, “Do I have to fast from food?”  No.  You could refrain from eating any food, or you could choose to cut back on certain foods or types of foods.  Many people fast from meat during Lent, for example.  You could also fast for portions of each day, like during daylight. But you can fast from other things, too, like media, news or a hobby.  One time, I did a “transportation fast” and did not drive my car for a week. Choose what works for you.  And please don’t fast in a way that jeopardizes your health or puts a burden on the people around you.

3)  How does fasting relate to prayer?   Fasting brings focus to our prayers over a prolonged time.  It’s not magic, or a secret formula.  Nothing we do can force God’s hand.  And I know this sounds a bit vague, but prayer with fasting just helps.
4) Let the fast prompt you to pray.  When you want to do whatever you are fasting from, pray instead.  In others words, if you are fasting from food, every time you want to eat, pray a short prayer.  If you are fasting from social media, every time you want to check your phone to find out what’s happening, pray a short prayer instead.  This week, my short prayer will be, “God, empower us to disciple others.”
5) Don’t approach it legalistically or pridefully.  If you happen to accidentally break your fast, don’t beat yourself up.  Just laugh at yourself for slipping and renew your fast.  Also, if you feel like you are going backward while fasting, you may want to stop – and that’s okay.  For example, if you are fasting from food and getting cranky and snippy to the people around you, your fast may be doing more harm than good.  So stop!  Consider a different strategy.
6) Just do it!  Do you know that history took an amazing turn once when some people in a church prayed and fasted?  Something about prayer and fasting opened them up to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit calling Barnabas and Saul into a particular type of work.  The church responded faithfully, and within a few years, the Kingdom of God was advancing in what is now Turkey, Cyprus, Macedonia, and Greece.  Talk about breakthrough!  (See Acts 13:1-3 and the stories that follow).
If you choose to fast, if you need breakthrough in some area of your life, may the Lord bless us with a breakthrough!  We’ve fasted for a number of things – for our children, for friends who needed work, for marriages that were in trouble, for employers, for business turn-around, for friends seeking freedom from addiction, and for God’s work to advance in our own lives.  We want to see God’s Kingdom advance where we are.  May God’s Kingdom advance where you are, too!
I’m looking forward to seeing what God will do.
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Retreat to Re-engage

“Those that wait on and hope in God get fresh strength” (Isaiah 40:31a)

Love First Coast is returning to the ECO Lodge February 16-18 for a weekend of rest, recreation, renewal, worship, and prayer.  Anyone is welcome to join us. There’s no charge but we will ask you to help out with food prep.  (It feels more like family that way…)  It’s a time that feels like being with an extended family (because that’s pretty much how we operate.)  It’s a relaxed pace event but the time just seems to fly!  We worship, play games, watch movies, go for walks, pray, and enjoy great food!  The weekend is designed to encourage connecting and reconnecting with each other and with God.

By the way, this retreat can be especially helpful if you are serving the Lord with your life.

We offer this because there is so much vitally important work to do.  Currently, we’re involved in ministry with refugees, grieving families, special needs kids, youth, youth workers, teen moms and their babies, married couples, family, co-workers, neighbors, and providing support for the ministries of several area churches.  (And I am probably leaving a few things out.)  We are seeking to love people with the love of Jesus.  And the opportunities have been growing.  While this is joyful activity, it can also be a bit hard, emotionally challenging, or physically exhausting.

And so we take some time every year to withdraw like this, taking some time to seek strength, insight, and wisdom for the season ahead.  This year, we’ll be askiong the Lord to lead us to others who will join us in the mission of loving the First Coast.  If you’d like to join us for that, or for the retreat, let us know by email ( or phone (904)599-2889.  We’ll follow up!

RETREAT DETAILS – Because we know some of you want them!

When? Feb 16-18 (Friday Night thru Sunday morning)

Where? The Fabulous ECO Lodge in Fargo, GA  – part of Stephen Foster State Park(400 ECO Lodge Drive, Fargo, GA 31631)

Why?  Because the world we love needs rested renewed people who follow Jesus.

How much?  Help With Food Prep and maybe bring some, too!  Everything else is paid for.

Registration: Let us know you’re coming by 2/13 and we’ll coordinate food and such and get back with you.  (904)599-2889 or

What will we do?

The focus of this year’s retreat is prayer.  Praying for others in times of need.  Helping others learn to pray.  Praying for your own ministry.

Loose Schedule:

Friday: Arrive after 5:00

Light dinner, games, and movies.

Saturday: 8:00 Breakfast

Worship and prayer walk follows.

12:00 Lunch

1:00—5:00 Free time

6:00 Dinner

Worship and a time of prayer follows.

Games and movies follow that

Sunday: 8:00 Breakfast

9:00 Worship

10:00  Clean up and head out!

LoveFirst Coast 2017

Annual Retreat



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Worship Gathering Sunday Night

You are invited!  6:45pm in the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church, 3450 CR210, 32259.
People tend to see themselves as the main character in the story of their lives.  We find a lot of grace, peace, and purpose when we accept that our stories are meant to find their place in God’s great story.  That’s one way of thinking about the work of Jesus with his followers.  They found their place in God’s story and as a result, they became heroes in their own stories.  Jesus still does that.  And then he sent them out to do the same for others.  Jesus still does that, too!
This Sunday night, we’ll be looking into how Jesus prepares his disciples to live like heroes in a great story and help others do the same.
Hope to see you there.
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