Pastor’s Blog 2020-05-06T17:15:42-05:00

May 2020

Dear North Central Family,

I’m writing this note to you, mindful of the huge changes you have made, that we all have made to our lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This coming Monday, May 4, new guidelines come into play for our state as our Governor has enacted an executive order. Our own county commission is supposedly meeting right now as I write this to update our county on local recommendations. I am working to gain the best counsel for how we can resume our public worship services, to best minister to our people and to protect the vulnerable and reach as many people with the gospel of Jesus. Here are some thoughts:

 

We will continue to worship at home right now, but when we do meet, it will be with some new procedures enacted to give us assurances that we will all be safe. Our buildings have been cleaned thoroughly and will be cleaned extensively after every meeting. We will not pass out bulletins initially. Social distancing will be taking place, allowing families to sit together with others at safe distances. For this reason, we will set up MORE chairs than normal to give everyone a chance to find the seat that is comfortable for them. We want to have some overflow space set up with closed circuit live broadcast so that people can be directed there if we hit a capacity attendance based upon informed recommendations. Offering plates will not be passed out but placed at the exits for our people to give. We also will continue with a live broadcast for anyone who needs to stay home or just would prefer to stay home and watch. This will set up our whole congregation to worship in a way in which they feel comfortable.

 

We will move zoom Life Groups to Sunday PM time slots (each class can set time) because it would be hard to have a zoom meeting and then make it to worship. Sunday Evenings can be reserved for these wonderful online fellowship and Bible study meetings.

 

We will want our elderly and vulnerable folks to be at ease with the decision that they make as to when to return to worship. Online and our phone call worship (1-855-404-6222[NCBC]) will still be available moving forward for all who desire it, including our guests that have been watching us.

 

Stay tuned for future announcements. The date when all of this will start is still unknown. Even then, we want to be as safe as possible. We also want to meet under circumstances that will allow us to have a meaningful and Holy Spirit anointed time together that is safe and comfortable. Will you pray that this will come soon? Look for updates. It is hard to commit to a timeline until our medical people make recommendations. Our own Florida Baptist State Convention is also providing us guidance which is very helpful.

 

To date you have given over $1,500.00 toward our Orange Bucket Program that feeds kids in our county. This Sunday, May 3, is the ending of this program, so if you can give toward it, please do so. This is for a great cause.

 

I want to thank you for your faithful giving to the Lord’s work here at North Central. Once again, thank you for sacrificially giving over the last 8-plus years to get us completely out of debt. This has enabled us to be in a position of financial stability in unstable times. Your faithful tithing and giving over and above the tithe made all of this possible.

 

Don’t miss our Mother’s Day broadcast. We are collecting Pictures of Moms with the children, pictures of Moms with husbands, Moms with grandkids to show on this May 10 service. Please send in your digital pics to photos@gatorchurch.com so we can work them into our broadcast. There is also a special announcement for a gift for all Moms on that day. Don’t miss the broadcast!

 

It was at North Central, 38 years ago on May 1st, that Kelly and I were married! I came to UF and met Kelly at North Central. Oh my, how I have marveled at the grace of God given to an ordinary guy from Jacksonville who was wondering what the future would hold. Her saying “I do” to me has been God’s amazing gift to me and has confirmed that God works behind the scenes to bless those who trust Him. I didn’t really have the smarts to trust Him, but my Pastor challenged me to give this area of my life to Jesus. Oh, I’m so glad that I did!

 

I am the most blessed Pastor ever! I say this because I’ve had a bird’s eye view of you ministering to one another during these days! God bless the precious fellowship of believers here at North Central Baptist Church. May the Lord bring about the day that we can all gather to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus-King Jesus. Until then remember Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!” Be encouraged church family-none of this has surprised our Lord. “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!” I John 4:4.

 

 

 

April 2020

Dear North Central Family,

I’m reminded of this verse of Scripture – Psalm 95:1 : “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.“ The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new set of circumstances that we would have never imagined just one month ago. Psalm 95:1 is true for all of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It does not mean that we are excluded from all difficulties related to the Coronavirus, but that we are ultimately in His hands. Our trust is in Him. He has never let us down. His promises are sure and true.

 

Although we long for worship together in our building, we are experiencing “Church at Home” with our on-line broadcast week by week. I pray that you are getting it on your computer or other device. If you don’t have access to our on-line broadcast, you can hear it by calling 1-855-404-6222. Our Tech team, Music team, and staff are putting in many hours to make this service possible. We have the best staff and team of volunteers that I know of anywhere. Their heart for you and the mission of Jesus comes out in the excellence of their work. These folks truly want us to experience a quality worship service – the best it can possibly be without being there in person. I’ve seen creativity and a work ethic that has amazed me. Take advantage of all that is being done with the service but also utilize the materials and suggestions on our website. All of this is online with you and your family in mind to help us grow together in Jesus.

 

We will have the Lord’s Supper together on Easter! This is a little unusual I know, since we are normally in our building for this service and have our deacons handing out the juice and the bread. But I think this is important for our church family to experience together. I want you to get some bread and juice ready for this service. On April 12, on Easter Sunday, we will take the Lord’s Supper as part of our service. I will lead you and your family in this so that we all can take it together at the same time. This will not necessarily be the whole service. We will still have the music as usual, the Bible study (An Easter/Resurrection message!) and some announcements. But we will take a few minutes to take the Lord’s supper in our homes at the same time, during the broadcast. Please prepare for this time together!

 

We continue to work at the office. Some are coming in and out at different times. The office is closed to nonemployees. If you need us, you can still call the church and we will retrieve all messages. You also can email us at info@gatorchurch.com. You can email me directly at pastor@gatorchurch.com. We have set up a prayer line at prayer@gatorchurch.com and a place to send your photos, highlighting ministry activities and worship shots at photos@gatorchurch.com.

 

On Orange Bucket Sunday, we normally bring nonperishable food items to the church and give them to Food4kids, a local non-profit that supplies food for school children in need. We are still going to do this but in a different way. Because of the Coronavirus, it is difficult to accumulate these food items at the church and get them to the organization. But we can send them some funds and their staff will purchase the food on our behalf to help these children. Look on our website beginning on Easter Sunday for a way you can donate toward this effort. We will receive donations for this effort from Easter Sunday through April 26, and then get these funds to them. We will report back to you what we have done. This effort a way we can make a real difference in our community.

 

I encourage you to meet with your Life Group by zoom meeting if at all possible. Staying connected with one another is so important. Pray with one another on the phone too! I encourage our Life Groups to contact all members at least once per week, to connect and pray together. It’s important to speak with our church family and pray for one another. I am also thankful that our deacons are keeping up with their families too. We have wonderful, godly deacons who love our church and families.

 

Lastly, I want to thank you for your faithful giving. I shared with you that for the first time as your Pastor, Kelly and I gave through our on-line giving page on our website. It was easy! Ever since I can remember, we prepared our offering envelope and Kelly and I gave it in the regular offering at church. Well, this virus has changed that. I’m grateful that we have lots of options -you can use bill pay through your own bank, set up on-line giving through our website, or mail your offering to the church.

 

Years ago, you made the decision to get out of debt, after the recommendation of a church committee and the Pastor. That was a great decision based in Biblical wisdom. We actually built our educational building, debt free, and paid off a 1.4-million-dollar indebtedness. This was truly a miracle. And now we don’t have a $11,500.00 monthly mortgage bill any longer. We are a blessed people. But let’s not let our guard down. We are still supporting mission efforts and reaching our own community of young people, singles and families. We currently have 3 people wanting to join our church and have 2 awaiting baptism! This growth without any services in our building! Your faithful giving allows all of this to happen! This is a long note today. I simply want to say that we love you and thank God for you! May God bless the wonderful people of North Central Baptist Church!

 

It is a joy to be your Pastor,


 

 

 

March 2020

Dear church family,

Who’s Your One? is the effort that we are involved in as a church that challenges each of us to have someone with whom we intentionally want to share Jesus. We all have someone on our heart that needs to know about Jesus and His love. Our “Who’s Your One?” board gives us a visual reminder of the people of whom we are praying and sharing. We will keep our board up until Easter with the prayer that many will be here on the Resurrection day!

 

Here are some of the many March happenings at North Central:

 

March 1 we will gather for Life Group Fellowships all across our city. If you are not involved in a Life Group, I want you to attend one of our gatherings real soon. These fellowship activities take place once per month, usually (but not always) on the first Sunday night of the month. They are great opportunities to get to know folks in your age group and life stage. Our folks love to hang out and get to know one another and new friends. Let us know if we can help you find a Life Group.

 

The Gathering is going to the UF Campus! On Saturday March 14th at 7pm, they will meet to worship and gather together. They always have a wonderful time, and this meeting will be especially special because it is meeting at the BCM building on the campus! Look for details on the Gathering’s Facebook. Our ladies have been meeting in homes across our city for “The Gathering: In the Word.” God is doing great things through these studies. This campus meeting on the 14th is a corporate meeting where all our women come together to worship Jesus. You don’t want to miss this!

 

The next night, March 15th, we are moving our Sunday night Worship service to the BCM to gather our whole church for a special service. One of our college students has committed to go overseas to spend the next two years sharing her life and the gospel message with those that have never heard of God’s love. You will hear the story and also hear how others can go too! This will be a very special night! We begin this service at 6pm at the BCM (1604 W. University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32603).

 

We are learning how to Walk in the Grace of God from Ephesians on Sunday mornings. These studies are rich with practical steps to walking out the Christian life. Sunday night we have been looking at the topic: Living Life from God’s Point of View when not gathered for special events or studies. I encourage you to avail yourself of these Bible studies to help you grow.

 

Men, don’t miss the Men’s Retreat scheduled for April 3-4 at beautiful Lake Swan. You will be getting details soon about how to sign up.

 

Easter is April 12. Would you begin now praying that God would bring many here on that Sunday to hear the message of Christ? Ask the Lord to put people on your heart to invite to be here with us. We will also be scheduling some special events following Easter to help us reach even more with the message of the resurrection. What a glorious opportunity.

 

It is a joy to be your Pastor.

You are loved,

 

 

 

 

February 2020

Dear Church Family,

We have been studying the book of Ephesians on Sunday morning under the topic: Understanding the Grace of God as a Believer. These have been rich studies. We are so blessed by the overwhelming grace of our Lord that is provided by Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This is so powerful. I hope you will join us for these studies and bring someone with you.

 

We also have some wonderful opportunities ahead of us that I want to tell you about.

 

Spend some special time with your Life Group on February 2! We are having Life Group Fellowships! Check with your Life Group for the location and times. These fellowships are so fun and give us the opportunity to get to know one another outside of the regular Sunday meeting.

 

Our men have a workday scheduled for Saturday, February 8th from 8am until about 1pm. There will be breakfast for you early and a lunch provided afterward. This is a great fellowship time for our men and allows us to get important things done at the church with your help.

 

We will be baptizing on Feb. 9th in the morning service. If you need to be baptized, contact us in the office, and we will get you all of details. Baptism is the New Testament public profession of our faith in Jesus.

 

DNOW is Feb. 14th through 16th. You can sign up your teenager by going online or by contacting the office. This event is a tremendous weekend where students meet new friends and are challenged to walk with Jesus in their daily lives. Billy Young, who directs all youth ministry for the Florida Baptist State Convention, will be our speaker. All of our students will want to be a part of this annual event.

 

February 16th we will have our North Central on Campus service. We will meet at the BCM on the University of Florida Campus. The Lord has strategically allowed us to impact the college campuses of Gainesville and this is a special opportunity gather there and visualize the magnitude of our work there.

 

Last week in our business conference, we received new members and discussed our financial report for the year. Our financial position allowed us to give more to our cooperative mission’s efforts than we have ever given in the last decade. Also, we gave our largest gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering in the last decade. It is a reminder that when you give, you are supporting the evangelistic, disciple-making, and mission efforts of this fellowship. Also, these special events mentioned above in this letter are all supported through your faithful giving. At North Central, God is raising up an army of witnesses for Christ who are leveraging their time, talents, and treasure for the Glory of God!

 

What a joy it is to be your Pastor,

 

 

 

January 2020

Dear Church Family,

A brand new decade! We are entering into 2020 with new vision and impact for the life of our church. I am writing this article to you following the adoption of our 2020 ministry budget. This ministry budget provides for an even greater impact in missions here and abroad.

 

The North Central annual Lottie Moon Christmas offering is the largest amount we’ve sent in the past 12 years. These funds go directly to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and are earmarked to go to the field, not being used for administrative costs. We believe in the efforts of our partnership with thousands of other like-minded churches that make our mission effective and vast!

 

I want you to continue to pray for our “Who’s Your One” effort. Get somebody on your heart to pray for-a person who needs to know the love of Jesus. Evangelism begins with prayer. Look for ways to invest time building a relationship with your “one.” Take an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with them using the Romans Road to Salvation, The Bridge illustration, Steps to Peace with God, or the 3-Circles Life Conversation Guide.

 

We are embarking on a new Bible study on Sunday mornings in the book of Ephesians. The book of Ephesians is about the riches that we have in Christ. These blessings that come from the Lord enable us to live in a different way. My prayer for us all is that we would be salt and light in this generation as a result of the gifts that God has given us to serve Him.

 

Be praying for our College Students who are attending Life Impact Jan. 1-4 in Deland, Florida. This is a tremendous retreat that challenges students to join the Lord in the harvest through prayer, evangelism, and disciple-making!  Pray for lasting fruit!

 

Please be in prayer for our young people as they prepare for the DNOW Weekend next month. Billy Young, who leads the next generation Ministry for the Florida Baptist Convention, will be the speaker this year. He is a friend of North Central, preaching on several occasions.  We’re praying that our young people will grow and that many new people who need Christ will attend and meet Jesus personally.

 

The Gathering has a special event on January 31st! Be on the lookout for the info that will come out on this fantastic ministry to our ladies. You don’t want to miss anything they do! I’m sure it will encourage you!

 

It is a joy to be your Pastor as we enter into another decade for the wonderful people we call North Central Baptist Church!