Thursday, July 09, 2009

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he… sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44

What would you do if you realized someone had buried a treasure in your backyard? My guess is that you would grab shovels and dig furiously until you had discovered the treasure and found your reward. Nothing would stop you from finding something of such worth and importance.

Jesus compares the “Kingdom of Heaven”—that place of the Gospel born in your heart and mine--- like that buried treasure. It is palpable, precious and powerful. And, yet, so many of us don’t lift more than a finger to discover the riches resting in front of us.

GBUMC is filled with wonderful riches in Christ. God has planted one treasure after another in the life of this church and we are incredibly blessed. But, the lesson of Matthew 13 is two-fold. One, God has made finding the treasure part of the process. It is the work, the toil, the task that makes finding what God has given us so beautiful. And, second, once we find it, we should make it ours. It belongs to all of us and we are to celebrate it together.

Pokey, the girls and I feel very blessed to be on this treasure hunt with you. God has great things in store. So… get your shovels, keep digging… you never know what rests just below the surface.

Worship Matters

Although many regular attendees were away for the holiday, still, nearly 2,000 folks joined us this past week for worship at one of our three campuses.

This week at Fairpoint and Soundside, we continue our Blockbuster Sermon Series with “The Lord of the Rings” (Fairpoint) and “Titanic” (Soundside).

I will focus on how we are to “carry each other’s burdens” (Sam and Frodo), and Jim Bell (at Soundside) will help us navigate the “icebergs” ahead.

At Worship @ the Water, Jack continues his series on “How Great Thou Art”. The stunning illustrative portrayal last week of the Prodigal Son unveils further as Jack looks at the sovereignty of God from an incredibly personal angle.

Want to Go Deeper: Check out The LiFE Plan!

Each week at Fairpoint, a LiFE Plan is available for your continued study and reflection. LiFE stands for “Living in Faith Everyday”. The plan includes questions specific to the previous week’s sermon but also a daily challenge that includes daily bible readings, prayer, fellowship and service opportunities.

Go to to check out the latest edition or find a copy located in the Sunday Information Bulletin.

The Serving Initiative

The Serving Initiative is a personal ministry endeavor my family and I began several years ago in order to raise awareness for living as “the hands and feet of Jesus” in our world.

My favorite definition of “serve” is translated “to answer the purpose”. For many of us, serving with our gifts and resources “answers the purpose” of the Gospel in our lives.

For instance, did you know that today, 14,000 children will die from causes that we COULD do something about… not from the hard, complicated stuff like various diseases and geopolitical despair…. but from things like malnutrition and bad water. 14,000 --- That is twice the population of Gulf Breeze.

A friend of mine, Rick Warren, said, when asked the most important advice he could give to the Church, “teach them they can’t do everything… so do something--- and, if everyone is doing something—then anything becomes possible”.

The Serving Initiative is a partnership with organizations and groups that work to “Do Something” and make the art of “possibility” part of the daily routine in the Body of Christ. The Serving Initiative encourages members of the Body to serve in one of three levels—1) serving within the Body of Christ for worship, education and fellowship, 2) serving the underresourced of our community and beyond through basic acts of kindness and relief, and 3) serving in opportunities to, as Wesley puts it, “save souls and build up the Body” here and around the world through missional activities and lifeworks.

Over the next weeks and months, you will hear more about how GBUMC is living out its initiative for serving and making a difference in the world.

I encourage each of you to go to the new Facebook page for The Serving Initiative and join the conversation beginning in the next few weeks to see ways God can connect you with others in ministry.

Clearly, the work of God in our lives is always calling us out to serve, to unveil His gracious nature, and to live faithful, productive lives.

Gulf Breeze Global Media and Resources

Soon we will have an exciting ministry called Gulf Breeze Global that will provide resource development not only for our congregation but also for United Methodist churches around the world.

Gulf Breeze Global will provide worship materials, media resources and curriculum for small groups, age-level ministries and special projects that will both enhance our presentation of the Gospel at our campuses and provide needed resources for other local churches.

We are very excited about the ongoing work of Anthony Thaxton who has consulted and led the staff of GBUMC as Chief Creative Officer for Design and Resource Development. Anthony has already provided incredible support and oversight for graphic design, worship media development, and website design and coordination.

Two new projects to be revealed in the very near future are a new GBUMC ministry website, to be launched August 1st, and also the first Gulf Breeze Global video curriculum entitled, “Conversations at the Shack”, hosted by Jack Kale.

Our Envisioned Future: New Worship Opportunities

The Senior Staff recently completed discussion of an article describing the 25 most innovative churches. One of the common denominators for these churches were not only multiple worship sites, but a variety of worship services that provided unique, diverse options for worship within the community.

GBUMC is already very blessed to have a variety of wonderful worship styles from our more Enhanced Traditional at 8:00am and Modern/Traditional at 11:00am at Fairpoint, our contemporary praise at Soundside to our very casual and unique setting at Worship @the Water. Yet the Envisioned Future statement from the Visioning Process in 2008 challenged us to create “diversity in worship styles evolving with the needs to our community and relevant to all ages.”

In the coming months we will develop, new worship ideas that will provide greater diversity and availability for worship at GBUMC including an “Unplugged” Service on an alternative night such as Saturday, a service focused on folks particularly aged 15-25, a mid-week service for more in-depth Bible study of the weekend’s messages, and a worship video venue possibly held in a café setting.

These are all exciting opportunities that enhance the already wonderful worship experiences available at GBUMC. God has great things in store!

I love you all.

Be Salt and Light… You matter.

1 Corinthians 15: 58

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