I came across an article in Newsweek this week that immediately captured my attention; “The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin” by Kurt Eichenwald. I don’t believe it would be overstating the obvious to say that Mr. Eichenwald is not a fan of Evangelicals or anyone who “takes the Bible literally.” In fact he spills a great deal of ink attacking “religious rationalizers” who “twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.” His article is so fraught with deliberately misleading or blatantly biased data, that I struggled not to scream in sheer vexation. Clearly, we don’t see eye-to-eye on the value of the Bible. Yet Mr. Eichewald’s article made me stop and think. The main premise was something along the lines of, “[Evangelical’s] lack of knowledge about the Bible is well established.” Leaving all the gross exaggerations and deliberate misrepresentations aside, I think he may be correct (sigh). What I will disagree with him is that the appropriate answer is not to undermine or ‘expose’ the Bible, but rather to plea for people to read it, study it, meditate on it, and memorize it. Mr Eichenwald’s article has much factual information in it about manuscripts, translation, and church history yet they are grossly misrepresented (Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary writes an excellent article in response ). They are all presented to somehow discredit the Bible and reduce it to mere maxim literature that a person must “discern the message for [himself].” However, if a person spends any time reading through scripture they are immediately struck by the nature of God and the nature of man. As creator of the universe He is sovereign and transcendent over His creation. Man’s heart is shown to be rebellious, self seeking, and untrue as generation after generation finds new ways to rebel against the way of the Lord. Suddenly, after 400 years of silence that New Testament unfolds with the the glory of God and the heavenly pronouncement of “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) If you read through the gospels you can’t get around statements like John’s purpose for writing in John 20:31, “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” You simply cannot get around the authority of Christ. Regretfully, Evangelicals often fall victim to the crafty arguments of people such as Mr. Eichenwald who have a very low view of scripture because they do not know scripture themselves. We know all the latest stats of our favorite athlete, the dirt on all the characters from our favorite television show, or the latest market trends & analysis but are simply clueless when it comes to what Scripture holds. This should never be! I cannot help but think that if more Evangelicals would dedicate themselves to knowing Scripture they would be able to answer many of the accusations critics hurl at the Bible. Where should you begin? It starts by opening up scripture and reading it. You may be surprised that by actually reading it you may get a much clearer picture of God. The God of Scripture stands in stark contrast to how society portrays him. He is not like the manipulative Facebook posts or how the Black & White highway billboards portray him. Reading the pages of Scripture give you a high-definition picture of who God is, what He demands of creation, and how we can have peace with Him. So I encourage you today to sit down and start reading the Bible. Make it a habit to sit down daily and read through the pages of scripture. It is not always easy. It can be very confusing. However, there are many resources, study aids, reading plans to assist you along the way. Most of all, Jesus promised his disciples that the Holy Spirit would guide his people in truth (John 16:13-15). As Christians, we can be confident in this promise that God speaks through His word. If we want to hear the voice of God it is imperative that we read, know, understand, love, and devote ourselves to this sacred text. May we never be a people who are guilty of a low view of scripture, laziness in its study, nor complacency in its worth. It is the very source of strength that brings life to our thirsty souls! I would encourage each one of you to begin reading scripture in 2015. Go to oceanparkbaptist.com/biblestudy for reading plans for kids and adults.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

In the next few hours all the presents will be unwrapped, the Christmas ham devoured, and many of you will succumb to the power of the late afternoon nap. Children giggling with delight as box after box contain another item from their expansive Christmas list. Parents, you will lament the fact that all you got was an ugly sweater and an old fruit cake that was probably re-gifted. Parents will curse and bemoan the difficulties of toy packaging designed with Ft. Knox security. Expensive toys will sit unattended under the tree while the kids play with the box it came in. We will sit and watch reruns of Christmas movies and expand our belts after gorging ourselves with a scrumptious feast of who-pudding and rare who-roast beast. The traditions of Christmas bring joy, wonder, and magic to millions throughout the world yet there is a sinister shadow that hangs over Christmas.

For all that Christmas brings in the way of toys, food, and merriment, it also brings a deep sadness for what we cannot have. Every joyful tradition that we share with our family simultaneously reminds us of the people that aren’t by our sides. The parents who once woke us up on Christmas morning will not be there to share Christmas with our little ones. The spouse who stayed up late Christmas Eve assembling your children’s gifts is no longer there to sip coffee with you while you watch the grandchildren play. It is a time of great joy and great sorrow wrapped in paper and bows. Despite the hope of Christmas there remains sorrow for what has been lost to the grip of death. There was also a sinister shadow that hung over the manger of the Christ child. A shadow, not from the darkness of the stable, nor the flickering firelight, but from the shadow of the cross.

The “good news of great joy that [was] for all people” (Luke 2:10) came at a great cost. The cost of a beaten battered man. The Holy Infant so tender and mild who slept in heavenly peace would be crushed under the eternal weight of the wrath of God. The prophet Isaiah foretold the cruel death he would suffer to atone for the sin of his people, “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 ESV). It was the will of God, foreordained before the foundations of the earth (1 Peter 1:20; 2:21-25), to provide salvation for His children by inflicting a hideous and painful death upon Jesus. The path of salvation that began at the manger led Christ to the foot of Calvary. The groaning of his people, struggling with the far-reaching effects of sin (Gen 3:14-19), are ransomed from the slavery of sin by a suffering Savior (Isaiah 53). The shadow that hung above the manger followed Jesus throughout His entire life. He never deviated from the path because He knew the importance of his coming hour of misery (John 2:4; 7:6; 7:30; 12:23; 13:1; 17:1). e Jesus knew the bitterness of the suffering and the weight of the anguish that he would taste at Calvary (Matt 20:22; Luke 22:42). However, despite His foreknowledge of those horrible hours, His focus never left the cross. He came to seek and save the lost. Drinking deep the anguish of the wrath of God was the immense cost (Rom 3:21-26) of our redemption. He drank the cup of wrath so that we may drink the cup of life. He suffered in solitary silence so that we could join in the eternal fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and all the children of God (1 John 1:3).

The shadow of the cross would never be far from the life of Jesus nor should it be far from the life of His children. I pray that the pageantry of Christmas not be an opiate from the eternal significance that Christmas holds. Christ did not remain a tiny, unassuming baby in a manger. He grew in wisdom and stature with God and man. Ultimately, he purposefully laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:18) in order to redeem them from the crushing weight of God’s wrath on sin. The manger was the first step in a journey that leading to salvation. This child in a manager will once again return to this earth. Yet rather than wearing swaddling clothes he will be wearing the adornments of war to wage the final battle that vanquishes sin, deposes his enemies, and brings his people into the marriage feast of the Lamb for all eternity. His judgment will be swift, strong, and complete. Only those who have put their faith in his work on the cross and found shelter at the shelter of the cross will be saved. When he returns sin will be no more, the glory of God revealed in full, and his people will experience pure, lasting, eternal satisfaction of knowing and being known by God. The apostle John painted a vivid picture of that day…

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

Those who put their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ will forever sing the joy of Calvary (John 1:12; Titus 3:5-6). The tears we cry will be wiped away, death will be no more, and we will be free from the pain and sorrow of this life. All because of the Christ child who did not flee from the shadow of the cross but used it to defang death and give his children eternal life. May our hearts rejoice and prepare him room!


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

I found myself with an unlikely role during Sunday school; teaching the Women’s Sunday school class. A perfect storm of factors put this pastor into a place he never imagined in his Sunday preparation. However, it was great place to be. It made me stop and think about how the ladies of our church would think through the lesson we were studying on “Kingdom Proclamation” from Acts 4. One of the key points of the “Gospel Project” lesson was the importance of proclaiming the good news of the gospel. However, proclamation is more than four points and a prayer. The “resurrection message [is] more than just a presentation...It is through our presence among the lost and lonely and lame - our drawing near to others - that those yearning for life will be most receptive to the presentation of the message about God’s kingdom.", We often think that the proclamation of the gospel is exclusively done through well crafted sermons, rhetorical wit, or a breath-taking barrage of biblical quotations mixed with pin-point alliteration. Often the most powerful proclamation of the gospel is everyday faithfulness motivated by a love and trust in the gospel. The gospel is magnified when a mother gives of herself to selflessly love, care, and nurture her children in the anonymity of her home. The gospel is boldly proclaimed when a woman, motivated by a love for Christ, faithfully honors and cares for her elderly parents despite little fanfare and even less gratitude. The gospel is proclaimed when a woman chooses to work with integrity, discipline, and hard work rather than compromise herself to move up the corporate ladder. The gospel is not a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all entity to be hawked in the marketplace. The gospel is a transforming biblical worldview that says my worth is not found in my work, my image, or my abilities but in the completed work of Jesus Christ on my cross. Keith and Kristyn Getty capsulate it so well in the lines of their song, “My Worth is Not in What I Own”. They write, “My worth is not in what I own. Not in the strength of flesh and bone. But in the costly wounds of love, at the cross. ~ My worth is not in skill or name, In win or lose, in pride or shame. But in the blood of Christ that flowed, at the cross.” How often do women find their significance in their own abilities, beauty, or intellect rather than in the completed work of Christ? In fact, both both men and women, spend their entire lives trying to prove their worth to someone, or to themselves, only to find at the end of the day that task is impossible. No accomplishment, education, publication, creation, or image can satisfy the restless human heart. In our hearts we realize that we are not perfect and are flawed by sin. Yet we try to compensate by earning more, achieving higher, or possessing beauty rather than in the promise of the gospel. The gospel declares that the completed work of Christ on the cross brings us into a harmonious relationship with the Almighty God of creation and peace with our own self (Romans 8:1). We do not need to strive any longer to prove that we belong. The work is completed. The price paid. The debt cancelled. The gospel promises we have worth because of Jesus. Therefore, a woman can freely love her husband, children, parents, neighbors, and co-workers without the pressure to prove her worth. Her worth is unquestioned because she is a child of God (Ephesians 1:3-14), redeemed for relationship (Col 1:3-14), and held in His almighty hand. No one can pluck a daughter of God from his hand (John 10:28). Therefore, a woman (and us guys too) can work, love, play, and create knowing that she is secure because of the completed work of Christ at the cross. Success, beauty, and creativity don’t add value to her; while shortcomings, failures, and inabilities don’t threaten her standing because of the cross. The Getty’s finish their song with the priceless words, “Two wonders here that I confess, My worth and my unworthiness, My value fixed - my ransom paid, At the cross”. The gospel frees women to go into her world and live, love, and laugh knowing that her worth is in the completed work of the cross. This is empowerment and it gives all Christians the motivation to proclaim the gospel in our words AND our lifestyle.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

There is a lot of baggage that has attached itself to Christmas over the centuries. It is more likely that Jesus was born in September than December. St. Nick is not a jolly fat man with magical flying reindeer but a third century Turkish orphan who grew up to become the Bishop of Myra and attended the council of Nicea. The Bible never mentions Mary riding a donkey, an inn-keeper turning them away, the number of wisemen, or the Magi making an unannounced visit alongside the shepherds at the manager (which was probably more of a dank, dark cave than the neat wooden structure in your nativity scene at home). Christmas began in relative obscurity in 336 a.d. as a possible alternative to the popular pagan holiday of winter solstice. Rather than forcing Roman Christians to give up their popular holiday they introduced an alternative Christian celebration known as "Christ-mass". Throughout the years "Christ-mass" has morphed into a myriad of different celebrations, traditions, and customs. Some Christians, like the Puritans, forbid the celebration of Christmas, and while other Christians, like the Eastern Orthodox, have chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ on January 7th due to an alternative calendar (Jullian vs. Gregorian). Over the past 50 years Christmas has morphed from a time of merriment and humble gift giving to a materialistic extravaganza. Much of the contemporary Christmas culture has become a hideous conglomeration of greed and materialism accented with Christmas lights while donning an awkward sweater.

How then should Christians respond to the modern day phenomenon we call Christmas? Should we throw coal at unsuspecting carolers who venture onto the front lawn, scold every "Happy Holiday" well-wisher with an indignant, "Merry Christmas!", or break the news to every toddler that Santa Claus is a fat guy wearing a fake beard and red suit and it is actually their parents giving them gifts? Should we pretend that Christmas is not happening or attempt to enlighten every Christian to the insidious Druid beginnings of their precious day? I'm not sure any of these is the 'best' answer to the dilemma we face each December. Wherever you are on the scale of Christmas cheer, let me offer a few suggestions. First, enjoy the non-material elements of the holiday. December is a great time to get together with friends, family, and neighbors to enjoy food, traditions, and one another's presence. You don't have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to eat sugar cookies, sing Christmas songs, soak in the joy of children, and celebrate the end of another year. Enjoy the season without getting bogged down in the consumer aspects of the season. Second, be intentional in how your family celebrates the holiday. Think through the various traditions that you do and ask yourself, "Why do we do this?" A few years back Denise and I chose to limit the children to only three gifts for Christmas after one of the children began to complain about having to open 'more' gifts from the family. We realized that an over abundance of presents was draining the significance of all the gifts. Now the children appreciate their gifts more and we are careful to give them meaningful gifts rather than a bunch of blue light special. Third, use the time as a chance to build relationships and show love to the overlooked or the lonely. The holidays can be an excruciating time for people who have lost loved ones, have no family, or are far from home. Find someone who you wouldn't normally come in contact with and give them a small token of appreciation, a card to let them know you care, or a gift to show them they are not forgotten. A batch of Christmas cookies or inexpensive but thoughtful gift can be a great launching pad for an unexpected friendship. Finally, and most important, be deliberate to focus on the advent of Jesus Christ. Though many church Christmas plays have added many unnecessary accouterments to the story of Christ's birth, the truth remains that, "unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). As Christians we need to tune out the cheesy Hallmark movies, endless barrage of advertisements, and overindulgence to celebrate the good news that "God sent forth his Son, born of a women, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5).

How can you focus on advent? Make an advent wreath and each night read the scripture reading during advent, read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning, listen to Christ-centered Christmas music (Prepare Him Room by Sovereign Grace Music or The Praise Baby Collection: Joy to the World), Read an advent devotional in December (Good News of Great Joy by John Piper or Come Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas edited by Nancy Guthrie), focus on advent during family Devotions (Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent by Nancy Guthrie or Prepare Him Room Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional by Marty Machowski). There are even ministries, like Advent Conspiracy, that exist to help you focus on Christ and less on materialism during Christmas. The best thing to do is to ask other Gospel-loving Christians and trade ways to focus on Christ during the Holiday season. Christmas does not have to be exclusively a Ho-Ho-Ho or Bah-humbug proposition. As Christians, we can enjoy the gift giving, cookie eating, and general merriment while focusing primarily on the "good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10). May Ocean Park love the gospel and redeem the Christmas season for the glory of God and the furtherance of His kingdom.

p.s. November 30th is the first Sunday of Advent. Start thinking NOW how your family will honor Christ and magnify the Gospel before the hustle and bustle of the season kicks into full gear.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

Monday (November 3rd) marked the one year anniversary of Ocean Park calling me to be their pastor. I used to wonder if I would ever become a pastor. It was always something that I dreamed about, prepared for, and worked toward yet I often wondered if it would become a reality. Twelve years working in the corporate world, five years of seminary, and countless church search-committee rejection letters will have that effect on you. During those years I found solace in the life and experience of Moses. In Moses’ life you see three distinct divisions. He lived his first forty years in Egypt, grandson of the Pharaoh, being trained by the best Egyptian scholars (Acts 7:20-29). His next forty years he lived a nearly anonymous life as a shepherd in Midian caring for his father-in-law’s flock (Acts 7:30-34). The final forty years of his life he led the people of Israel out of the bondage of slavery, through the wilderness, and to the cusp of the Promised Land. The eighty years that he spend in Egypt and Midian were instrumental in developing Moses into the leader who God would use mightily to accomplish His purpose and glorify His name (Exodus 3).

In retrospect I can also see the seasons of life that our sovereign God has used to form me into the leader I am today. My time ‘in the Midian wilderness’ was the twelve years of scratching and clawing at the bottom of the corporate ladder where the Lord molded me into the man and pastor that I am today. I witnessed very capable leaders, as well as some of the most atrocious leadership imaginable. At&t gave me first-hand experience of what most people in the church have to deal with between Sunday services. Enduring entitled customers, cranky bosses, the uncertainty of employment from month to month, and the search for significance in a dead-end job, have all made me a better pastor. I never appreciated the lessons I was learning in the corporate world but I can honestly say that I would have it no other way. God’s complete wisdom is deeper than my shallow perspective.

Another season of my life that the Lord used to formulate me as a leader was my time at Christ Fellowship and Sovereign Grace Baptist Church. I cannot begin to measure the impact that these two local church communities have had on my life and my family. It was here that I learned what it meant to be a pastor. Robert Konemann and Shane Waters are men who love the Lord, cherish His Word, and love their flocks. They were humble enough to allow me to see their wounds, learn from their victories, teach me their wisdom, and led my family well. I am continually learning the depth of their ministry and the eternal impact they have made on my soul. It was in the safety of these two churches that I learned how to be a husband, father, and elder. These churches rejoiced with me and cried with me. They helped shoulder the burdens that our family carried and allowed us to help share their loads. Words cannot express how profoundly I have been changed by their love, teaching, and fellowship. It is no coincidence that I have attempted to emulate many of the strengths at Ocean Park.

The past year has been a special time for me. I have been blessed to get to know many new brothers and sisters, to hear your stories, and to see how God is working in your lives. You have given me grace as I made ‘rookie mistakes’, opened your homes to me, and made shepherding this flock a pleasure. I have seen significant growth at Ocean Park as the roots of our church grow deeper in the Word of God and in personal faithfulness. We have been blessed with minimal conflict and the ordinary growing pains of a new pastor have been dealt with respect, humility, and unselfishness. Often it is the family of the pastor that suffers beyond the spotlight of a pastor’s ministry. I am thankful that Ocean Park has loved my family and embraced them as the ordinary members of the church they are. You have been faithful to love them and make them a part of the family. Highlights of the year include three new babies, five baptisms, six new members (with more coming soon), pastor visits, and a fresh vision of why we exist as a church. One of the greatest honors I have had is the opportunity to remember the memory of four saints who have gone to be with the Lord and shepherd their families as they say, “Farewell.” This is something that I do not take lightly but cherish the opportunity to glorify the Gospel through the death of His saints. Each week brings unexpected joys, struggles, and blessings of being a pastor. I know that I am not capable on my own but fully dependent on the Good Shepherd who has called me as His under-shepherd. It is my continual prayer that I would be faithful in the various responsibilities I find myself. My prayer each day is that I am faithful as a husband, father, and pastor (in that order) and trust the Lord with my weaknesses and shortcomings. I also pray that our church cherish the Gospel, dig deep in God’s Word, and be faithful to love one another. If this be our constant desire and unceasing prayer, Ocean Park will weather the storms that will inevitably come, strengthen our covenant community, and reach the lost for the glory of God alone!


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men”
(Mark 1:16-17)

It is with great joy that I am able to announce that on November 2nd* we will celebrate the baptism of those who desire to heed the call of Jesus Christ to, “Follow Me”. Baptism holds great significance in the life of a Christian and in the life of a church as a whole. First, baptism is an outward symbol of an inward union with Christ. We are New Covenant people who have been brought into a relationship by the work of the Holy Spirit. Colossians 2:11-12 reveals the inner working of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of Christians, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” We are joined to the New Covenant of Jesus Christ by the inward work of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual circumcision made without hands is the New Testament equivalent to the physical circumcision of the Old Testament. It is the God who gives us new spiritual hearts (Ezekiel 11:19), puts His Spirit within us (Ezekiel 36:27), and shines on us spiritual light to illuminate the truth of the Gospel (John 1:9-14). This is the inward work of the Spirit that brings us into relationship. When the Spirit works in our hearts it is expressed through faith. Faith is the means that God prescribes for us to reconciled us back to Himself. The mark that a person’s heart has been regenerated by the spiritual circumcision of the Holy Spirit is that they respond in faith to the Gospel. Faith sees Christ for who He is. Faith believes the promises of God that Christ took the wrath we deserved. Faith leaves everything behind to follow Jesus. Faith believes that we will follow Christ by being raised to eternal life. When a person goes into baptism they are communicating that they believe the good news of the Gospel and they are forsaking all the things of the world for the eternal satisfaction of following Christ. Just as my wedding ring is a symbol of the promise I made to Denise, baptism is a symbol of the faith that was sown into my heart by the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the outward sign of inward faith is baptism.

Second, baptism is a command of Jesus. As Evangelicals we have put far too much emphasis on prayers, decisions, and alter calls at the expense of the act of baptism. Jesus never tells us to lead a person in a scripted ‘sinners’ prayer at the end of a Gospel tract. Jesus commands us to make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching (Matt 28:19-20). The apostles themselves preached the commandment for believers to be baptized. In Acts 2:37-41 the Holy Spirit began to move in the hearts of those listening to the Word of God being preached which prompted the people to ask Peter, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter prescribed two ways that faith in the Gospel is demonstrated: “Repent and be baptized”. We know that those who listened to Peter had faith in their heart because verse 41 says they, “received his word [and] were baptized”. There is no such thing in the New Testament as an ‘unbaptized’ believer. Those who believe the gospel express their faith in baptism. If we value the call of Gospel and obedience to Christ we will follow Him in baptism.

Third, Baptism brings us into the Covenant Community. All throughout the New Testament you see Christians living together in a community bound by the New Covenant of Christ’s body and blood. The mark of being member of the family of God is a shared baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection. Baptism itself is a dramatization of the radical transformation of an individual. Immersion into the water symbolizes our spiritual death and association with the Christ’s atoning death. As we are raised up out of the water, we symbolize the new spiritual life that Christ has imparted to us and the new nature we now possess. A nature that brings forth the fruit of the Spirit, a desire to follow Christ, and to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. This new life we possess is not lived in isolation but a part of the faith community. Many people say that I do not have to be a ‘church member’ to be a Christian. However, there is never mention of a Christian in isolation from other Christians or apart from a fellowship of believers. New Testament believers were devoted to the Apostles’ teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and to prayer (Acts 2:42). Even in remote parts of the earth the goal of missionaries is to plant churches where the fellowship of Christ can be enjoyed and cherished. The metaphors that are used of a Christian’s new life are a spiritual body, temple, and household to name a few. None of these can be done in isolation, we need one another. Therefore, baptism is the means by which we are brought into communion with other believers, a local expression of the universal body of Christ (local church), and the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper. The more I meditate on the significance of baptism the more I am thankful for the Gospel which it symbolizes. May we at Ocean Park be faithful to live out the Great Commission and make disciples by calling those in our homes, work, and community to follow Christ in Baptism.

*The November 2nd Baptismal service will be at 5:00 at the 16th Ave S beach not in the sanctuary. There will NOT be a 6:00 Evening Service.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

Marcia Camp McGee was born in Auborndale, AL on September 30, 1945. She lived a humble childhood as one of five children of Gordon and Hazel Henson Camp. She lived an ordinary childhood but her fiery personality sometimes got her into a little bit of trouble. Being the middle child she thrived on terrorizing her younger brothers and playing all sorts of jokes on her unsuspecting siblings. She had moxy but sometimes it was a bit misguided. When she was six years old she decided that the maid was not living up to her expectations and fired her by saying, “your services are no longer needed.” Marcia quickly learned that her mother did not agree with her professional assessment and thankfully the maid remained employed. The Camp family enjoyed spending summers vacationing at Avondale Mills in Panama City, FL. It was on one of these trips that Marcia met a young sailor that she would spend the rest of her life with.

Marcia and Jim loved each other through better and worse. Serving in the military required the young couple to live around the world in many remote as well as exotic places. Wherever they went, Marcia loved Jim with deep loyalty, gentleness, and faithfulness. They chased away monkey in the Philippines, raised a 900 lb pig in Hilliard, and looked for sharks teach during their retirement in Jax Beach. They loved watching the Sound of Music together, finding deals at the flea market, and looking for great antiques. They Marcia always was careful to love and honor Jim throughout their 42 years of marriage and the life that they shared together. Jim and Marcia were blessed to have two beautiful children who blessed their lives with joy, happiness, and countless blessings. Lisa was their first born with Eric following shortly behind. Marcia loved being a mother and poured herself into her children. As a mother she loved them unconditionally but also loved to tease them constantly. She would sneak in their rooms early in the morning, slip the covers off their feet just enough to tickle their feet and suddenly scream, “James Eric McGhee straighten yourself up!” Needless to say the kids would be awake. She loved taking the children on trips back home to Alabama to visit their family, camping in the summer, and runs to Dairy Queen on hot summer evenings. Her sense of humor sometimes scared the children. After the kids would go to a friend’s birthday parties they would load up in their car and rummage through their party favor. Marcia always seized control of the paddle balls and told the kids they could have the bouncy ball but that she would keep the paddle so that she could, “wear them out with it”. She didn’t play. As tough and as playful as she could be she was exponentially more loving. She received great joy from her children. She loved hiding Easter eggs with the kids and grandkids, reading the Christmas story on Christmas morning, and making Chicken and Dumplings for birthdays. Her children were a great source of joy. Likewise, Marcia was a great source of strength to her children. It was Marcia who stood watch by Eric’s bedside as he recovered from his accident. It was her sweet face that he saw when he opened his eyes after 7 long days. Seeing her face brought reassurance that everything was going to be all right. It was Marcia’s strength that enabled her to love and supported her children despite poor decisions, just as the faithful Father loved the prodigal son. She would do anything to help them, including watching her grandchildren afterschool, encouraging them to be faithful to as parents, and love them unconditionally until the day she passed from this world. Her children were a great source of joy and inspiration to her. It was their inspiration and devotion that she would need for the difficulties that she would face.


Marica was diagnosed in her twenties with a severe form of diabetes. Her prognosis was bleak and the doctors believed that she would not likely not live to see her forties. They had no idea how strong, stubborn, and determined a patient she was. She wasn’t about to be defeated by her diagnosis but she trusted in the Great Physician who was sovereign over the sands of the hourglass. She was active in her church serving needy families, reaching out to people in her community, and finding ways to love and support her children and grandchildren. Though at times it slowed her down, she never allowed it to stop her. She was determined to serve. Until one fateful day on the drive home from work the world went dark. Tragically she lost her eyesight and she lost her independence. Understandably, the months following the loss of her eyesight were heavy days for her soul. She battled depression and if it were not for the grace of God, the love of her family, and church all hope would have been lost. Finally, after her grief had passed and she realized that there was no time to wallow in self pity and she determined to forge ahead. If you would ask her what motivated her to move on with her life she would say, “God’s not done with me”. And He wasn’t. In fact, little did she know that the power of God would be unleashed through her weakness and frailty. Diabetes may have taken her eyesight, but faith had given her new eyes to see things that most of us are too busy to notice. The eyes of faith are always 20/20. Her ministry became one of prayer, encouragement, and presence. The strength of Marcia was in her ability to listen and observe. She had an uncanny ability to see a person’s inner beauty and hear their heart. She loved to talk on the phone and minister to people by listening. She loved people by sharing their burden and offering a refreshing word of encouragement. She never forgot to invite an elderly person over for dinner at Jane’s house for dinner, faithfully visited forgotten shut-ins, and was a woman of constant prayer. You knew that Marcia was praying for you because she always followed up to see how the Lord was working in your life. She was faithful to not waste her illness but redeem it for the glory of God. She was not encumbered by the hustle and bustle of modern life but she quietly and faithfully devoted herself to prayer and encouragement. She was faithful to her faithful God.


Though her blindness took many things from her, it did bring her a wonderful blessing; Action. Action was Marcia’s faithful guide dog who instantly became one of the family. Action gave to Marcia a new freedom that she had lost. The freedom to go. He was faithful to guide Marcia wherever she needed to go and ensured that she was safe. Once fateful afternoon as Marcia was walking with a friend Action guided her off the sideway. Annoyed, Marcia chided Action for this waywardness. However, her friend was quick to point out that Action had led her around a snake who was laying across her path. Action was faithful companion who was always by her side. For 17 years her black lad received the love and affection as a third child. Marcia would never take a new guide dog because deep down inside she knew that no one could take the place of Action.


Marcia was a wonderful woman. She loved Gospel Music, Chicken and Dumplings, and reading or listening to books. Some women collect shoes; Marcia collected pigs. Pigs of all shapes and sizes. It was her hobby. It was probably because it reminded her of her beloved Alabama and the simple life of the country. Her love for the country extended to her love for shows like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Janette Oak’s “Love Comes Softly” movies. Her taste stretched beyond just country life. She couldn’t pass up an episode of Jeopardy, a good suspense thriller, or whenever any of the Jaws movies came on. She was a diverse woman. One of the great loves of her life was her church. She was a faithful member of Ocean Park since 1972. It was here that she loved and was loved. She raised her children here, mentored teenage girls who needed a mother, and built deep and significant relationships within these walls. She was not just a churchgoer she was a significant member of the community. Marcia was a vital part of our church ministry by her presence. She was quick to give what little she had to buy a baby shower gift, food for a luncheon, or to help someone in need. She was a selfless individual. She was careful to attend youth garage sales, Christmas caroling, and Operation Christmas Child packing parties. Her disabilities were not an excuse for not serving the body of Christ.


Over the past year I have had the privilege of being Marcia’s pastor. I would visit Marcia in the hospital, hold her hand, while praying and reading scripture. I was keenly aware that I was sitting in the presence of a great saint. I marveled at the grace in which she dealt with the doctors and nurses that poked and prodded her. She never had a cross word for her caretakers, nurses, or family. Rather than feel sorry for herself or grieve the things that had been taken from her, she bore her cross with joy, rejoicing at the privilege to share the hope of the gospel to those she came in contact with. She preached powerful sermons to people who would otherwise never hear the gospel, simply by being faithful as she lay in a hospital bed. She was quick to share her faith, a word of encouragement, or a genuine laugh with a friend. She was real. She was authentic. She was faithful. In the last few weeks of her life I sat by her bedside and held her hand. I encouraged her to, “finish well”. I told her that since she hadn’t wasted her life to share the gospel that I would not waste her death to share the gospel here today. It was the gospel that motivated her to continue. The hope that when she closed her eyes in death that she would awake in the presence of Jesus. Several mornings I would sit with her and read scripture. One week we read the book of 1 Peter together. One passage was especially sweet to her, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Marcia knew what it was like to suffer for ‘a little while’ and endure the Refiner’s fire. However, we were privileged to witness the beauty of her faith more precious than gold. Her life was a testament that Jesus is more valuable than physical comfort, financial security, and personal liberty. She lived each moment in the strength that only Christ can give. In the end her body would fail her but her Savior never would. I can honestly say that on September 30th as an intimate group of her family and friends sat beside the shallow shell of her body she left behind, Marcia was never more alive than she was at that moment. As she closed her eyes in death on this side of eternity, she opened them in the presence of Jesus Christ on the other side. Not because of her own merit or personal righteousness because she knew she was a sinner unworthy of grace but because of faith alone in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This was her hope. This was her joy. This was her love. The gospel of Jesus Christ that motivated her to be a better wife, mother, and friend. That gospel that caused her to think of others more highly than herself. The gospel that carried her in the dark nights when she lost her sight and when her body failed her. It was the precious gospel of Jesus Christ that gave her motivation to love, serve, and give of herself. We are blessed that she was such a selfless example of how to live one’s life in a manner worthy of the call of the gospel.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

This past Sunday was a bit of a milestone at Ocean Park. A milestone in the fact that the words of the hymns were displayed on the back wall. Some may be wondering, “Why on earth this would be a milestone”, while others are thinking, “Why on earth would we take such a drastic step.” To some change can be frighting because it feels uncontrollably rapid; yet to others it is frustrating waiting for change to unfold slowly. To the former group I want to assure you that we are not changing for the sake of change, to be trendy, or because we want to get rid of the past. To the latter group I want to encourage you be careful that you do not chase so quickly after the latest and greatest that you miss what is lasting and substantial. I would say to both groups that the past, present, and future our of church is the Gospel. The reason we exist as a congregation is because of the Gospel and anything that distracts us from proclaiming it, replaces it as the core of our church, or removes our focus from it must not be tolerated. That being said, there are two dangerous things in our sanctuary with incredible power to distract us from proclaiming the gospel in our music: the projector and the hymnals. You may be wondering how a hymnal AND a projector can be a distraction to the gospel. It has to be an either or proposition. Right? Wrong. Our technology, whether it be printed words bound in a book or digital words magically broadcast on a screen, can distract us from the gospel. If we get to the point that we cannot worship without a certain type of technology we must step back and admit that we may have a problem with our understanding of the gospel and with idolatry. It is imperative that our technological preferences not impede our love, proclamation, and focus on the gospel. Rather our technology should assist us to proclaim the message of the gospel. In the history of the church we see the power of technology to spread the gospel; the Gutenberg Press was the technology that fueled the Reformation, small aircraft empowered missionary pilots to reach people otherwise unreachable, and the internet, radio, and satellite tv have penetrated anti-Christian nations were Christians missionaries were forbidden. Technology can be a great aid for the spread of the Gospel.

Therefore, let me share with you some of the reasons I feel it is appropriate that Ocean Park embrace technology as a tool to proclaim the gospel. 1) The hymnals are older than me (and according to my kids that’s REALLY old). Our hymnals are full of many timeless God-centered, Gospel-exalting hymns that have been sung by Christians for generations. The hymns aren’t going anywhere just how we present them. Since our hymnals were printed in 1975, Lifeway has released two new editions of The Baptist Hymnal introducing hymns from the past forty years (two new generations of Christians). If we refuse to sing outside of the hymnal we will miss out on forty years of Great “New” Hymns of the Faith. I certainly think it would be foolish to ignore forty years of music that God has gifted men and women to write for the edification and encouragement of the church. 2) Jax Beach is comfortable with technology. The average age of Jax Beach is 38 (which is also younger than our hymnals). The average 38-year old has a smartphone, computer, and probably a tablet of some sort. They grew up with video games, use a computer at their job, don’t remember not having cable, and have never seen a black and white tv. The average 38 year old has never used a hymnal. The reality is that if we want to introduce Gospel-centered worship to Generation X or Generation Y, harnessing the power of technology is a logical place to begin. We can fuse contemporary technology and traditional worship from generations past to bring glory to our eternal God. 3) Our goal is to be God-centered not preference centered. I go to Burger King to “Have it My Way”; I go to church to worship God’s way. As a church we need to start thinking, “Do the lyrics of this song focus on who God is and what God has done?” rather than “Is this song familiar or does it remind me of the ole’ time religion of the good ole’ days”. Do the lyrics of our songs teach the congregation about the atoning work of Jesus Christ or do they just reflect a style of music that makes me feel comfortable and stir my emotions? Consequently, young people turn their noses up at ‘old’ music for the same reason that older people look down their noses at ‘new’ songs. It’s different. It’s not my preference. It’s not what I like. Ultimately, if we are a church that is serious about the Gospel we will be continually looking to adapt to meet the challenges of the time we live in. We believe that we have the antidote to the sinful human condition; the Gospel. Therefore, we should strive to “become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22-23). Our preferences should never take priority over the Gospel. We are never free to compromise the Gospel but our preferences should be the first thing we are willing to lay aside in order that the Gospel be proclaimed.

Ultimately, the hymnals aren’t going anywhere. If you know what those little black dots above the words mean then you are empowered to continue to use them. By using an projector, we gain flexibility to sing hymns that were left out of our hymnal or written after. As a matter of fact, two of the ‘new songs’ that I have introduced in the past year aren’t new at all. ‘Here is Love’ was written in 1876 while “Before the Throne of God Above” dates back to 1863. I think you would agree they are timeless because they are “God-centered and Gospel-exalting” not just because they are in the pages of a hymnal or sound like the good ole days. May we be quick to exalt the Gospel and focus our hearts on Christ as we await the return of our Lord.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

October 1, 2014

There is a brief moment in the human experience when the doorway between mortality and eternity opens and we are ushered by death to the other side. Instantly everything temporal and mortal is wiped away and a new eternal consciousness floods your souls. Yesterday, Marcia Mcgee was quietly whisked through that doorway. We were left behind. I can only imagine the sheer joy that she was experiencing as we sat quietly beside the hollow shell she left behind. I have sat with many families as they grieved the passing of loved ones. It is always surreal. Memories of the previous days flood over us as they recall final words, moments, and memories that are now seared in their consciousness forever. A broad spectrum of regret, joy, and appreciation overwhelm those left behind. However, the heaviest impression is the finality. Nothing can be taken back, redone, or reconciled. Their mortal life is complete; their earthly story is written. However, the grief we felt and the tears we shed were not from sorrow but from joy. Joy that she was such a loving mother, loyal friend, and faithful Christian who played such a significant role in our lives. It brought to memory the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18...

[13] But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. [14] For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. [15] For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,(1) that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. [18] Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Paul does not forbid grieving for the lost but there is a certain way that Christians grieve, “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (vs. 13). Christians grieve with hope. Hope founded on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have hope because Christ conquered death by His resurrection. Our grief no longer hopelessly fears that we have lost our loved one to eternal judgement and separation. Rather we can grieve with hope knowing that the sting of death has been defanged and is now a servant of God’s glory. Robert Konemann, one of my pastoral mentors, put it like this, “Death once was a cruel taskmaster who ruled viciously but who now been humbled and made a servant to usher people into the presence of its Master.” Death is the means by which God brings his people into His glory. Furthermore, those left behind have the hope that we will be reunited with them in God’s glory. Paul teaches us that Christ will return again to gather all his children together both asleep (dead) and alive. He will gather His children into His kingdom to rejoice forevermore, without the encumbrances of sorrow, pain, and mourning. All, who are joined by faith in Christ, will be made new and will join the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us to worship the Lamb forevermore. The Gospel tells us that all who put their faith in the atoning work of Christ no longer bear the burden of the eternal wrath of God on sin. Christ took our punishment so that we could have his righteous life eternally (Rom 4:5). Therefore, death is not to be feared as a cruel bandit that steals away the ones we love but the means that God brings them into fullness of joy in the magnificent presence of God’s eternal glory. Finally, Paul tells us that not only should this be an encouragement to Christians (vs. 18) but we should be faithful to encourage fellow believers with this truth. This is especially applicable to those of us who remember how precious Marica was as a part of our church, families, and as a friend. Her sweet nature, gentle voice, and encouraging words will be sorely missed. We will honor her memory through tears and laughter, with inspiration and thankfulness. All the while we will be reminded of how precious the promise of the Gospel is to those who trust in Christ. One day, in the blink of an eye, those who believe in Christ will join Marcia and the heavenly chorus of the faithful to worship the Lamb of God who reigns forever. Our joy will be complete. Our hope realized. Our faith made sight. What a day of rejoicing that will be!


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

September 15, 2014

I remember watching the footage that fateful September morning. My wife was holding our three month old little baby girl as I prepared for an ordinary the day at the office. I remember the chaos and confusion. The strength and honor. The evil and wickedness. I watched in stunned disbelief as the two magnificent towers crumbled into a heap of toxic dust that rose above New York city like a distress beacon. I listened to the screaming sirens of New York's Finest, the erie wailing for lost loved ones, and the constant buzz of media reporters grasping for the words to describe the utter destruction unfolding before their eyes. I fought back the tears, clenched my fists in anger, and felt the heaviness of grief press hard upon my soul. I will never forget that day. 9/11/01 will live in infamy with the likes of Pearl Harbor, the assassinations of JFK & MLK, and the day the Challenger exploded. Days, that for a brief instant cause the world to stop turning, memories to freeze time, and realities forcing the surreal. These are moments that force us to stop and determine if what we are witnessing is really happening and how we could possibly be able to move ahead. It was this very reality that caused the writer of Lamentations to pen the grief stricken words of the book of Lamentations. "How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations!" (Lam 1:1) The writer laments in utter horror as his beloved Jerusalem lies in ruin and desolation while his people are murdered, captured, and drug into captivity at the hands of the mercenary tidal wave of the Chaldean army. Those who remained in the city were left to starve or forage through the rubble to find enough food to sustain their hopeless existence. The treasures that they sold their souls to acquire were now being pawned away to gain a crust of bread just to survive (Lam 1:11). The writer admits that the devastation around him is driving him to the brink of utter hopelessness, "my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD” (Lam 3:17-18). Moments such as these cause a person to question everything.

It was here that the memories of 9/11 become so vivid for me as I listen to the wailing of a soul in the depths of grief. All the hope that he could find in his heart was gone. He had nothing left. He was spiritually bankrupt. He had no hope from within himself. This is a cross roads that many people come to in their lives. We are utterly hopeless when the things that we thought were secure come crashing down. Military might, charismatic leaders, revolutionary dreamers, and scientific wonders can be snuffed out at the pinnacle of their influence. How will you respond when your twin towers of invincibility come crashing down? Will you turn to functional saviors, despair, or denial? Will your faith be snuffed out by disillusionment or skepticism? Will you rage against the perpetrators or melt in fear? I pray that when I experience unthinkable grief I will turn to the only place of refuge; the nature of God. Lamentations points us to the only hope for our souls, "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him" (Lam 3:21-24). There may be a day when my experience tells me that all hope is lost; it isn't. Wherever the presence of God is there is hope. When our world lies in ruins and our dreams are but ashes; hope remains. God has promised that for all that he removes from our life He will fill with Himself. My friends, He is enough. He is more than enough! God's steadfast love and mercies gently rise over the horizon each morning and chase the darkness of despair away with the warmth of His marvelous light. He quenches our souls with living water and satisfies our hunger with the bread of life. When our hope is in Christ alone, we will always have hope. We may not be able to make sense of the chaos around us but we can rest assured that our God is sovereign and good, wise and powerful. He is able to work all things; the good and the bad, the difficult and the heart wrenching, the painful and the confusing, for good and for His glory. Ocean Park, when our world crumbles, may we trust in the God who stands strong and put all of our hope in Him alone.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

August 26, 2014

There are times when it is best to stay off of social media because a heart patient can’t take too much excitement. I block a person’s game request, flick my “Newsfeed” past pictures of my friend’s lunch, sandy feet, and pictures of their kids. However, as a pastor, I can’t seem to pull my thumb away from clicking on theological quotes and watching ‘religious’ videos. It may be because I’m a pastor or that I am glutton for punishment but I can’t resist. Last week I stumbled across the theological train-wreck of Victoria Osteen. I watched in stunned disbelief as she told the Lakewood arena…

“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize that when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God — I mean, that’s one way to look at it — we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That the thing that gives Him the greatest joy…So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

First let me say, I detest the theologically self righteous, who set up blogs, message boards, and facebook pages to troll preachers and teachers with a self-righteous and smug arrogance. As a person who makes a living at public speaking I realize how easy it is to slip-up and say something incoherent or incorrect. However, if you measure the body of my work againt my all-too-common verbal fauxs pas you should be able to ascertain the heart of my message. The same would apply to the Osteens to a MUCH larger extent. Yet, I do not believe that co-pastor Victoria slipped up and said something inconsistent with her and Joel’s theology. It was in fact a very honest moment for Mrs. Osteen. She summed up the heart of her theology when she said, “God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That the thing that gives Him the greatest joy.” Not only is this a summary of the Osteen’s theology but of the larger problem with the 21st century’s “prosperity” gospel. The prosperity gospel is defined as theology that promises, “the full blessings of God available to those who approach Him in faith and obedience include wealth, health and power.” Osteen himself when asked by Oprah what kind of God would want you to be poor and miserable elaborated on the prosperity gospel, “Prospering is peace in your mind and health in your body… Jesus died that we may live an abundant life and be a blessing to others. I can’t be a big blessing to people if I am poor, broke, and depressed.” The Osteen’s sincerely believe their message and from what I understand are a very pleasant couple. You don’t fill a former NBA arena with 43,000 people week-in and week-out by being a turd.

Second, as a pastor who is called as an under-shepherd of the soul’s of Christ’s flock I am obligated to address this before it leads Christ’s sheep away. Here’s the bottom line problem. The Osteen’s message is simply not biblical. Now there are many biblical elements of the Osteen’s message. God takes great pleasure to bless his children. True. We find much joy when we seek after God. Amen! The problem with Osteen is that he cherry picks the ‘positive’ elements of scripture (God’s blessing) and misapplies it to a carnal, self-centered understanding of what blessing is. The blessing of God is not bigger houses, perfect health, and a life of ease. The blessing of God is that He has redeemed a people from eternal condemnation, adopted them into His family, and is forming them into the likeness of Christ; all for HIS glory (Eph 1:14). The reason we exist is for God’s glory not my happiness. The world was not created to make much of me or to make me happy (a-la-prosperity gospel) but to make much of God’s glory. The Baptist Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” We show the world the glory of Christ when we are able to say with Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). However, the ‘all things’ is not scoring touchdowns or getting a better paycheck. The ‘all things’ actually include abundance AND need, plenty AND hunger, and personal abundance AND being brought low (Phil 4:12). We can endure everything that life throws at us knowing that God will give us the strength to endure it FOR HIS GLORY. I can suffer, endure reproach, false imprisonment, physical pain, financial struggle, and whatever the curse of sin has marred the human condition knowing that God is being glorified. I can even die, like our brothers and sisters of the first century, by being thrown to the lions for the glory of God. God’s glory will be through tears, difficulties, pain, and persecution; Jesus promises it (Matt 10:22; John 15:18-25). There will also be victory, abundance, peace, and rest from the tender staff of the Good Shepherd. The focus should be upon bringing God glory rather than this narcissistic obsession with our personal abundance and prosperity. This is where the ‘prosperity’ gospel gets it so terribly wrong. The ‘prosperity gospel’ is no gospel at all. Jesus did not come so you could have more things of this world. Jesus came so that you could join the mighty chorus of the redeemed who will eternally sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev 5:12). That is our hope. That is our joy. That is our satisfaction. May we at Ocean Park strive for the glory of God as the ultimate satisfaction for our souls! May we be a God-centered and Gospel-Exalting church in the theological wasteland of man-centered and prosperity-exalting messages.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

August 26, 2014

Tucked away in the end of the book of Luke is possibly one of the most profound passages of scripture on how to understand the message of the whole Bible. The story is set in post-crucifixion Jerusalem on a empty stretch of road connecting the city of David to a remote village named Emmaus. Along this stretch of highway two disciples of Christ trudged long the seven road discussing the whirlwind of events that unfolded over the previous days. It was here that they unexpectedly met Christ in the person of a fellow traveler. Christ, hiding himself from their recognition, listened to their disappointment, confusion, and unmet expectation concerning this prophet mighty in deed and word. As Jesus listened to their honest confessions he responded by bringing their perspective into alignment with the Word of God. Luke tells us that as they walked the lonely road together Jesus, "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets...interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). Incredible. The God of the universe who revealed himself through Moses, David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the prophets was now teaching those very scriptures to these weary souls as they tarried together. He showed these disillusioned travelers how ALL of the scriptures pointed to Christ and ALL of the biblical stories whisper his name. I must admit, I would give almost anything to walk alongside those unsuspecting disciples as Jesus gently instructed them on the real significance of Christ's suffering. They were captivated by his teaching and when they came to lodge for the evening they insisted that Jesus join them to eat. As Christ blessed the bread and broke it their eyes suddenly realized who it was that handed them the bread. When their eyes were opened to see Christ, he immediately vanished from their midst. It was this transformation in their vision that enabled them to see Jesus for who he really was. More importantly, there is a phrase in the narrative that is especially significant for those who have eyes to see Jesus as he truly is. They confessed in bewilderment, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scripture?"

O may our hearts burn for the Gospel. May we, like these disciples, have hearts that burn when we open the scriptures. Without this burning for Christ the words of scripture are simply ink on a page. They are ancient words, written in a different time, culture, and people. Dare I say they are boring? Yet when our hearts burn for the gospel these words are life! They are sweet like wild honey, refreshing as cold spring water, and as joyous as a child's laughter. When the fire of the Holy Spirit ignites our heart the Words of Scripture are gasoline that sets our hearts ablaze for the glory of God. This is my prayer for Ocean Park. That our hearts would burn for the gospel. That we cannot get enough of the scripture because it is the very revelation of God. When our hearts burn worship is a blessing not a chore. When our hearts burn, the sermon is not an time to be endured but a time to be anticipated. When our hearts burn, we find pleasure to speak of the gospel with believers and non-believers alike.

But what if our hearts have seemingly grown cold and the fire that once roared is only a smoldering ember? First, call out to the Holy Spirit to ignite your heart with his holy flame that it be rekindled. Wait on the Lord to send the sunshine that burns the fog of apathy away. Call out to Jesus to give you eyes to see his face, ears to hear his voice, and a heart that beats for his glory. Second, as you wait for the Lord to set your heart aflame, draw near to those whose heart burn for Christ. Just as a coal will lose its heat when removed from the fire, our hearts will grow cold when we isolate ourselves from the fellowship of believers. Be deliberate to find brothers and sisters whose hearts are on fire for the gospel and come under their influence, teaching, and care. The Lord often uses the fires in one believers heart to ignite the fire in another.

Ocean Park, our congregation needs to burn for the glory of God and crave the gospel above everything else. When our church community burns for the gospel our fellowship will be warm, evangelism fruitful, and disciple-making empowered. May our hearts burn for the gospel!


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

August 20, 2014

This morning I woke up the sound of a toddler banging my head, saying, “Da-Da!”. Two years ago I woke up to the sound of a cell phone ringing at 1:30 a.m. with the declaration, “Charity is going into labor!” The past few years have been a frenzied blur. Over the course of the past thirty-six months I have said good-bye to loved ones, prayed through an adoption, began pastoral ministry, endured a heart attack, welcomed new members to the family, and sent others to college. Through it all I have been stretched, grown, chiseled, and refined. I have laughed and cried, doubted and resolved. I have felt the pain of perplexity, fear of the unknown, struggled with failure, rejection, and change. In the midst of daunting storm clouds and rising waters, barren deserts and unquenchable thirst, there has been but one constant; an unchanging God. He was in the emergency room as I held Denise’s hand and said good-bye to her mother. He comforted our hearts when the adoptions failed and when we were not picked to be parents. He guided our steps as we our birth mother introduced us to our future son. God orchestrated the details of my calling to Ocean Park through search committees, health insurance, and an uncertain future. He was there in the heart hospital when my invincibility was shattered with the words, “You’ve had a heart attack.” He united our family on Mickler’s Beach where new love was promised and comforted our hearts when we sent Kayla away to Boyce. The inevitability of change and the immutability (unchanging) of God are the two constants in our world. Yet we often attempt to defy the two. We cling to the circumstances, people, and possessions of our life as if they could guarantee satisfaction and constant security. Sadly, our family members grow ill and die, expectations are unmet, dreams are grounded by the coldness of reality, and possessions devalue, depreciate, and grow outdated. When a season of our life brings plenty, complacency is often lurking in the shadows. We forget our maker, creator, and sustainer until a new season brings want and need. It is then we cry out to Him to provide a need or to lift a burden. We even question whether he is present and if He hears our prayers. The prophet Habakkuk knew this sentiment when he uttered his complaints to the Almighty God, O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” (Habakkuk 1:2-3) It was to this complaint that God brought crystal clarity, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (Habakkuk 1:5). Had the Lord revealed to me where I would be today, thirty six months ago, I probably wouldn’t have believed him. I would not have believed that I would wake up to a two year old banging my head because he wanted to watch Mickey Mouse clubhouse. I wouldn’t believe him that I have the honor to shepherd a congregation in our pursuit of Christ. I would not have believed Him about my heart, my mother-in-law, and my niece. Most of all I would not have believed I could have endured while learning a new, fresh perspective of God’s sovereignty and goodness. Not all the things the past thirty six months have been good. At times they have been excruciating. Often I felt that I would be crushed under the weight of sorrow, heart-ache, and uncertainty. However, looking back over my journey it was not my own strength that sustained me but the God who not only placed the weight on my back but forbid the burden to crush me. Every step, every tear, and every victory was orchestrated for my good and His glory. Therefore, as I celebrate every milestone in this journey of life I give Him all the glory as the maker, sustainer, and, in time, the taker of my life. To God alone be the glory!


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

August 12, 2014

“We need outreach programs to reach the lost!” are often the concern of people who genuinely desire to reach their friends and neighbors for Christ. Churches devise complicated programs for singles, married, widowed, children, people with addictions, and the list goes on and on. There are churches who have all sorts of ‘outreach’ to a vast array of people with various mixed results. However, sometimes a program-oriented thinking can cause us to forget that outreach is the primarily responsibility of the individual not the church. Jesus made this clear in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The only command in the Great Commission is to make disciples. Surprised? In order to make disciples we ‘Go, baptize, and teach’ knowing that Christ is guiding us in this endeavor. The single greatest responsibility that you have as a Christian is to make disciples.

Consequently, the question becomes “How do I make disciples?” Disciple-making starts in your home, workplace, and neighborhood. Put yourself in contact with unbelievers for the purpose of building relationships. When you go to your kid’s t-ball or dance practice make it a point to sit down and talk with the other parents. It is amazing the conversations that you can have sitting watching your kids practice. Some of the best witnessing opportunities have come while my kids were running wind sprints. People learn that you’re a Christian and over time learn to trust you enough to talk about their faith (or lack of it), difficulties, or questions. It is here that disciple making becomes so powerful. In the context of a relationship you are able to introduce to them the saving work of Jesus Christ, invite them to worship service, or start a Bible study. This relationship discipling is possible at work as well. Over the course of time your co-workers will see the integrity of your work and your grace-filled attitude. By observing how you work they will begin to figure out that you are different. Use those moments as an opportunity to share the gospel to them to Christ at lunch or over coffee before work. I will eternally be indebted to one of my father’s co-workers who started a Bible study at the fire station that eventually led my father to the Lord. The heritage of faith that my family has was started by a faithful believer seeking to make disciples in the context he found himself.

I firmly believe that the best form of disciple making is organic ministry. By this I mean, a congregation who is actively looking for individual opportunities to make disciples rather than relying on formal corporate outreach (programs). The beauty of this is that a ‘ministry’ may arise when a group of individuals see a need in their community and band together to meet that need. Starting a Bible study with surfers, meeting with a local single mother who needs help and guidance on how to be a godly mother, or a prayer meeting for local professionals before work. These are organic individual ministries that meet specific needs within a congregation or the community. They may last for years or for months depending on the need but share the goal of making disciples. Does this eliminate a corporate responsibility? No. That is why we organize things such as the Community Health Fair, VBS, and Easter Egg hunts. Special ways to corporately reach the community. However, the most significant way to make an impact for Christ is a group of individuals seeking to make disciples in their individual context.

Don’t know where to start? Ask yourself what you are good at or what you have a passion for. It may be children, elderly, education, street evangelism, adoption, or sports? Think how you can use these talents, passions, and abilities to come into contact with lost people and share the gospel with them. Do you fish at the pier on the weekends? While you’re casting your line for fish cast your line for the souls of the regular fishermen. Do you have a tender heart for the elderly? Ask people at the church if their are any shut-ins who need encouragement and visit them. Do you have a passion for children? Volunteer to coach a kid’s sports team, find a single parent who needs a little bit of help, or join a local organization who advocates to the less fortunate. Use your own personal passions, gifting, and talents with the goal of making disciples. As you being to make disciples and bring them into our community of faith they will be strengthened and equipped to make disciples themselves. This will be the most powerful way to impact the Jax Beach community for Christ! May Ocean Park be a church who seeks out an opportunity to make disciples at home, work, and in our community.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

July 30, 2014

I am quickly learning that as a pastor one of the most common questions I receive is, “Why do you do it that way?” The questions pertains to anything from the worship elements of Sunday morning, entertainment choices, church organization, and even down to what tie I choose to wear (or not to wear). Probably the question that most people have for me as a pastor is, “Why do you preach the way you preach?” There are the young hipster pastors who wear skinny jeans and sip lattes while sitting on a barstool with their sermon quotes displayed via powerpoint. ‘Old-school’ preachers don a classic suit and tie while they pace and shout the power of their message. Some preachers are solemn and academic while others are dynamic and intense. If you went to a dozen churches you would find a dozen different styles. However, the question becomes which way is better? Which way is more faithful? You can weigh the merits of a preacher in a suit or in skinny jeans but in the end the presentation is not the ultimate focus. A pastor needs to be the man who God has made him to be in the cultural context he has been called to serve. What is of utmost importance is not the clothes, volume, or amount of technology but the focus of the sermon. This is why I am devoted to expository preaching of the text. “Expository preaching is preaching that takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture”. You probably noticed by now that I do not do topical sermons but instead preach through books of the Bible (1 John, 1 Peter, etc). The reason being is because I want the Word of God to set the agenda of my preaching. Each week I set about the task of studying, meditating, and praying through the text with the aim of proclaiming the central message of the text. Once I find the central message of the text I have found the focus of my sermon. I don’t preach topical sermons because I fear that my preconceived idea of what I want to preach will blind me to the actual meaning of the text. There is a great temptation to find a scripture to justify what I want to say to the congregation. There will be times in my ministry when it is necessary for me to preach a topical sermon on Christian love, racism, or salvation and I will find an applicable text. However, I don’t make it a pattern because I would run the risk of preaching my message and not Scripture’s message. Admittedly, topical sermons often seem more ‘relevant’ to the congregation. The relevance of ‘Five ways to be a better mother’, ‘How to deal with frustration’, and ‘Taming the Lions of Life’ are alluring. However, there is a deeper question; “What are we missing when we are listening for the wrong things?” If I am only listening for what I think is relevant, I will miss what God is telling me is vital to my spiritual growth. Ultimately, ‘we believe that God has Himself actually spoken. His Word is to be trusted and relied upon with all the faith that we would invest in God Himself.” There is a reason that God inspired the Biblical text. The Almighty God of the universe gave us the precious gift of His Word. He chose to step into the course of human history and inspire faithful men to write a message that would change the course of human history. We should be faithful to cherish it, sing it, preach it, and study it. Therefore, I desire to make a priority of letting scripture set the agenda and allow scripture to mold our worship, singing, and the topic of the sermon. I am confident that the Holy Spirit is a much better provider of your spiritual needs than I will ever be. May Ocean Park be faithful to devote ourselves to the whole counsel of scripture from Genesis to Revelation in order to hear the voice of God.

*all quotes taken from Mark Dever in "9 Marks of a Healthy Church"


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

July 3, 2014

I am proud to announce that I survived my first year at youth camp. Hallelujah! I was assigned the dubious task of being the counselor of the 11-13 year old boys. I learned that it is not an easy task to get all the boys to shower, change clothes, and brush their teeth on a daily basis. However, we managed to survive most of the week with healthy hygiene practices. Sleep came at a premium and after several threats, early lights out, and copious amounts of duct tape I was able to salvage several nights of functional sleep. Despite the various challenges and sheer exhaustion I can say that I enjoyed my week at camp. I was able to build relationships with some of the students and adult volunteers that I would not have otherwise been able to do. I also was able to invest myself teaching a faithful group of campers who attended my ‘witnessing’ class. I explained that they would never be able to witness if they did not understand the gospel themselves and hence I spent each day teaching the four words of the gospel;God Man Jesus Response The week was filled with Bible teaching, fabulous food, worship, laughter, singing, and large amounts of fun. I was pleased with the week and how it went but I realized that if this is the only spiritual nutrition that these students are given they would suffer from dangerous spiritual malnourishment. On the final day I explained how if they only ate the ‘sweet dessert’ of camp they would become unhealthy and unfit. One week of camp is the only spiritual food they receive than they will starve for the other 51 weeks of the years. If they only worship, sing, and are taught God’s word with their own age group they will not receive the needed discipleship from older, more mature generations. Teenage boys need older men to model what it means to be a man who pursues Christ in the everyday routine of life. How to work, lead their families, and worship for the glory of God. Teenage girls need older, more mature women to teach them how to be women of virtue in a society completely contrary to virtue. This generation of youth needs to be consistently worshipping, hearing scripture read, taught, and preached with older generations so they can be equipped to wage war on worldly passions and pursue the satisfaction of knowing Christ. The objection may already have be raised that we have very few youth and we can only get them out if we try to entertain and amuse them. That may be true for some of today’s youth but it does not stand for all. God has many youth of our day who have not bowed the knee to Hollywood or believe the lies of our culture. We must be prepared to invest in the youth that we have and show them the value to Christ in the study of scripture. Parents, grandparents, and concerned adults, please pray that Ocean Park would be faithful to pour ourselves into our tiny remnant of youth so that they grown in their passion for Christ and that they cherish the gift of God’s Word. May our church be filled with young and old generations, faithfully assembling together for worship, Bible study, and disciple-making in order to live out the gospel together. May God be glorified in how we love every generation!


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

June 4, 2014

"Where there is no vision the people perish..." Proverbs 29:18 KJV

This past Sunday was a significant day in the history of our church. Significant in the fact that I had the pleasure to share with the entire church my vision for the future of Ocean Park at the church-wide Covenant Community Class. I was overjoyed that we filled the Fellowship Hall for this special event that I believe will determine the life and health of our church. Why would a four week class be so significant to the life of the church? The answer is found in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision the people perish...” (KJV). Thom Rainer the CEO of Lifeway estimates that there are “100,000 churches in America are showing signs of decline toward death.” He studied a wide variety of churches that had closed their doors and determined that most of them died because they had lost their vision. These churches that once burned brightly with a clear vision have gradually lost their purpose and vision. Consequently, this has caused the church to gradually grow complacent, divided, and lethargic in their vision, unity, and passions. Sunday was my call to arms for the people of Ocean Park. It is my passionate plea that we join together as the people of God with a clear and distinct vision of why we exist as a congregation. Therefore, the deacons and I have formulated the mission statement of Ocean Park to be....

“We exist to worship and glorify God, by proclaiming the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the equipping of the saints and reaching the lost.”

Our ultimate purpose as a church, is to worship and glorify God (Psalm 86:8-9; Isaiah 43:7). According to the Baptist Catechism, the chief end of man is to worship and glorify God by enjoying him forever. That is why we were created as human beings and why we were created as a church (Eph 3:10). But by what means can we accomplish this purpose? Through the proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in our worship and personal conduct (Romans 1:16). The gospel is the glue that unites people who would not otherwise associate into one body, one spiritual house, one family in order to magnify the beauty and value of the gospel. It is not the preacher’s job solely to proclaim the gospel but the entire Covenant Community living together and loving one another that will show the world that the gospel is precious (John 13:35). Finally, what will be the result of this vision? First, the saints (a.k.a. believers) will be strengthened and equipped to be more like Christ (Eph 4:11-13) and secondly, the lost will be reached with the gospel (Matt 28:19-20). If we are to fulfill this vision we must begin to change how we view membership. In fact, I am making a concerted effort to remove the phrase ‘church membership’ and replace it with ‘covenant community’. The term member has accumulated far too much baggage over the years from social clubs, shopping clubs, websites, and gyms. We have almost become numb to the radical call of Christ to follow him by replacing his call to “come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23) with a bi-monthly appearance at church accompanied by a ‘letter’ in the church office. This thinking has caused churches to drift in a sea of aimlessness. This simply cannot be. We must be a covenant community centered around the gospel, sharing doctrinal distinctions, and a sincere commitment to living out the gospel together. It is my prayer that Ocean Park would join together to love and live out the gospel, so that the name of Jesus Christ is glorified and the gospel magnified in Jax Beach and throughout the world. See you next Sunday at 9:30 for the second session of the Covenant Community Class.

P.S. If you missed the first session of the Covenant Community Class and want to know how you can make it up. We will be having a makeup session in the choir room on July 6th @ 9:30 a.m. Please join us!


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

May 28, 2014

"Here is love, vast as the ocean, Lovingkindness as the flood, When the Prince of Life, our Ransom, Shed for us His precious blood. Who His love will not remember? Who can cease to sing His praise? He can never be forgotten, Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.”

– William Rees 1802-1883

This past week I had the pleasure to celebrate fifteen years of marriage to my beautiful and wise wife, Denise. I most definitely married out of my league when I convinced her to spend the rest of our lives together. To celebrate our anniversary we decided to stow away on a cruise to the Bahamas. It was wonderful! Spending twenty four hours with the love of my life and having unlimited access to all sorts of culinary delights while being disconnected from the concerns of life on the mainland. Priceless! Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I love to watch the sunset. There is something captivating about watching the final moments of the sun before embarks on it’s journey to the opposite side of our globe. There is a peace and finality that the sunset pronounces. A eleven-story cruise liner isolated in the middle of the open ocean may be the perfect place to view this spectacular exclamation of God’s handiwork. There are no buildings, traffic, trees, or obstacles to obstruct the view. It is a front row seat to nature’s symphony of praise to her creator. As Denise and I stood on the top deck watching the sun retreat from our view, my thoughts were captivated by the vastness of the ocean, the seeming endlessness of the horizon, and my own insignificance in comparison. Our worship song “Here is Love” began to resonate in my thinking, “Here is love vast as the ocean, Loving kindness as the flood, When the Prince of Life our Ransom shed for us His precious blood, precious blood” I was struck by the beautiful metaphor of God’s unfathomable love that was unfolding before my very eyes. We all should be struck by the vastness of God’s love, the endlessness of His grace and mercy, and our utter unworthiness in light of the gospel. The beauty of a sunset and the vastness of the ocean should serve as a constant reminder of the debt of sin paid out of the merit of Christ’s righteousness on behalf a hopeless and helpless sinners. I pray that the beauty of the gospel would captivate our spiritual eyes and may our hearts sing of the glories of the gospel of Jesus Christ as long as our lungs draw breath.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

May 14, 2014

I am excited to announce two very exciting changes that will be coming this summer! First, when I began as pastor I communicated the importance of what it means to live in the fellowship of a gospel community (Acts 2:42). Throughout Scripture the Apostles instruct Christians to love, encourage, protect, and be accountable towards the members of the congregation. Scripture is clear that commitment and accountability to a local congregation is necessary. Far too many Christians spurn the instructions of scripture because they feel that they are apart of the 'universal body of Christ' failing to experience God's blessing and protection that is designed to come through the local church. It is to this end that the deacons and I have implemented what we call the "Covenant Community Class" for those who seek membership in the church. The Covenant Class sets to explain why and how we are to live as a congregation. The classes last four weeks and answer the questions, "What is the Gospel?", "What are Ocean Park's doctrinal distinctions?", "What are Ocean Park's priorities?", and "Why should I join a local church?" I have already had the privilege of teaching the class several times and have had great feedback from the course. I am asking that all existing members and regular attenders attend a church-wide Covenant Community Class beginning on June 1st through the 22nd. These classes will give you a vision for where the church is going and reinforce why we exist as a congregation. If you don't normally attend Sunday School please join us for the month. It will be worth the time invested!

Secondly, on June 29th we will be starting a new LifeWay Sunday School Curriculum known as the "Gospel Project". "The Gospel Project is a Bible study resource that invites Adults, Students, and Kids of all ages to dive deeply into God’s story of redemption through Jesus Christ. In every lesson, participants are immersed in the gospel and learn how when the gospel works on them, they become a part of the story, too, the very hands and feet in God’s gospel project." Before we decided to change curriculum I provided each Sunday School teacher with a sample of the course. It was unanimously approved! The church will provide new work books soon and there is even a e-reader for androids, iPhones, and PCs that can be purchased directly from LifeWay. The Gospel Project will begin the week immediately after the final church wide Covenant Community Class on June 29th. I look forward to seeing you all in Sunday School!


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." - Psalm 116:15 ESV

I awoke this morning to the sad news that a dear saint and friend of our family Mrs. Lynn Lapp had passed away. Mrs. Lapp was a marvelous woman whose strength, courage, and tenderness was an inspiration to all who had the honor to know her. Though my heart is heavy, there is great rejoicing knowing that her joy is now complete because she has joined the heavenly chorus of saints who will eternally worship Jesus Christ. She lived her life to the glory of God and was a blessing to those who knew her. Here are some lessons I learned from my friendship with Mrs. Lapp.

Though her body failed her, Jesus never did. Mrs. Lapp was wholeheartedly convinced of the confession of Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). If you were not careful you would have easily missed Mrs. Lapp in a crowd. She was quiet and soft-spoken due to an illness that affected the muscles in her body. In the final years of her life she lost the ability to speak, only able to communicate with a dry erase board. Nonetheless, her words were mighty and powerful. She was the embodiment of Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” She never complained about all the things that she could not do, but looked for ways to honor Christ in her affliction. The very disease that prohibited her from doing the ‘ordinary’ things actually drove her to do the ‘extraordinary’. She was fervent in prayer for her family, church, and friends. I never had a conversation with her that she failed to ask about my wife, children, or any numerous things that she had been praying for. Few people have the depth of faith or devotion to Christ necessary to dedicate themselves to such ardent prayer as Mrs. Lapp. She knew the satisfaction of knowing Christ.

She did not waste her illness, nor her time in the wheelchair but redeemed it for the glory of God. Mrs. Lapp was a strong and supportive wife to her husband Dr. Lapp. He served as a biblical counselor while Mrs. Lapp supported his work in prayer, office administration, and warmly interacted with the clients. She had a special ability that when you left a conversation with her you genuinely felt that she cared about your life. Dr. Lapp would not have had the success he did without the love, encouragement, and strength that his wife offered him. She was indispensable! She found whatever way she could to help, encourage, and love those around her without a single complaint about her unique challenges.

Her marriage was a beautiful picture of selfless love. Over the many years that Dr. & Mrs Lapp shared in marriage you could not help but see the depth of their mature, selfless love for one another. He was faithful to care for her special needs while she was careful to monitor his intake of junk food & sweets. However, there were parts of the house that her wheelchair could not go and it was there that he strategically deposited his stash of Ho-Ho’s and Little Debbie snacks. Their marriage was a shining example of how to genuinely love one another through the good times and the bad. Their quiver was full with the rich blessings of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. They were rich in laughter, overflowing in love, and secure in their devotion. I pray that Denise and I are able to experience the rich blessings of a life-time of unconditional love.

Mrs Lapp was a blessing to so many people who were graced by her presence. Ocean Park, may we live lives with the same love for God’s word, trust in God’s providence, and passion for His glory.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris