Memories are snapshots frozen in time that capture nostalgia and regret, victories and defeats, joy and sorrow. Simultaneously, they wield the power to inspire the future or the insidious ability to sabotage the present. They are a steady rock in the midst of a storm or hidden quicksand that overcomes an unsuspecting traveler. Memories flood the soul as a river overwhelms its banks, saturating our existence with emotions and nostalgia that once lay dormant in the recesses of our mind. Songs and photographs, smells and words are delicately stitched together to form the mosaic of your life. Memories are precious. Memories are powerful. In the mosaic of my memories there are select individuals that hold a place of prominence and honor. My wife, children, parents, and grandparents. Beloved souls that have left an indelible mark upon who I am today. Each is held dear to my heart and treasured beyond imagine. These people are sweet reminders of God’s grace which he lavished upon an orphan nearly forty years ago. Within the mosaic of my life and memory, there is one man who casts a significant shadow; Robert Konemann. I will forever cherish that shadow.

The initial memory I have of Robert was while Denise and I were dating at the Moody Bible Institute. She spoke of him with the love and respect one has for a noble father. It was Robert she called in times of confusion and his wise voice helped calm her waves of doubt. It was Robert she called when her school bill was due and there was no money in her savings account to pay for it. It was Robert she called when she cried, when she needed a biblical perspective, or needed guidance on what to make of a particular boy from Connecticut who was pursuing her (a.k.a Home Skillet). He genuinely cared for Denise and the singles of Hillcrest as his own. He comforted them with strong support, passionate teaching, and loving presence. Robert gave of himself that his flock would know Jesus.

The first snapshot in my memory of Robert was on a sun-drenched spring day sixteen years ago when I was honored to meet him for the first time. I remember shaking his strong hand and hearing him introduce himself simply as, “Robert Konemann”. He was an imposing man with broad shoulders, neatly trimmed beard, and dark brown hair slowly revealing an honorable crown of white. He was incredibly strong yet remarkably unassuming. He was never a person to seek the limelight nor draw attention to himself. In large crowds he would often be found off-to-the-side encouraging a person or imparting practical biblical wisdom. He was quick to listen and ever quicker to point a person to the hope found in scripture. We spent the afternoon talking and laughing; the genesis of what would become a Paul & Timothy relationship. Little did I know, that on that brisk Chicago afternoon, the trajectory of my life and ministry would be forever altered.

The next snapshot of Robert was our time at Christ Fellowship. After graduation, and the realization that the cost of seminary was too great, Denise and I decided to move to Jacksonville. Robert agreed to begin the process of mentoring me while we attended Christ Fellowship. Robert was more than a preacher. He was a friend, brother, teacher, prophet, safety net, and protector. He was there when you needed him. Whether it was physical sickness, the death of a spouse, the loss of a parent, the birth of children, trips to college, marriage counseling, or hospital visits Robert was quick to serve. Robert’s ministry was marked by service. He became all things to all people for the sake of the gospel. He was a mechanic, builder, mover, treacher, and most of all friend. He taught us the meaning of love simply by his presence in our lives. Robert was there in the significant moments of Denise & my life: rejoicing with us and weeping with us. He performed our marriage counseling, officiated at our wedding, and rejoiced when our children were born. I still remember turning around to see Robert’s face on the other side of the nursery glass the morning Anna was born. He always found time for a pastor visit. I remember all the bbq napkins he scribbled theological phrases and greek words, the stacks of books he pushed aside whenever I stopped by his office to talk, and the rickety ole’ ‘Hooptie’ truck he drove around town with Caleb at shotgun. All snapshots frozen in time. Each one a trigger that unleashes a flood of comforting and instructive memories into my consciousness.

Our time at Christ Fellowship was not only a time of found memories but a formative time for my pastoral ministry. If I could sum up Robert’s ministry in one word it would be ‘passion’. Robert has an insatiable appetite for the things of the Lord. He loves his Word, he loves his church, and he loves his people. This passion was manifest as his countenance would light up when he spoke of the treasure of the kingdom of God, the fury with which he preaches, and the theological firehose he unleashes when he begins to teach. His prayers resonated as a man who knew God as a friend. They were a cup of cold water in a dry and thirsty land. Christ Fellowship was led by a man of incredible intellect and an intensely tender heart sold out for Christ.

Yet it was not on the mountain-top where I learned the most significant lessons from Robert. It was in the valleys. No picture of Robert’s ministry would be complete without the scars. His ministry was evidence of God’s grace because of the suffering. When people were petty, ruthless, and self-serving he refused to revile but rather turned the other cheek. Robert chose to trust his soul to a Sovereign God who leads his people in triumphant procession. One of the final sermons Robert preached at Christ Fellowship was from Habbakuk 3:17-19, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.” Robert knew the bitterness of a fruitless tree and empty vine yet he found joy in the God of his salvation. He passionately clung to the rock of his salvation. Christ Fellowship will forever be a haven of sweet rest and a lighthouse for my soul because Robert pointed me toward Jesus, the rock of my salvation. As Robert often says, “Those [days at Christ Fellowship] were good and glorious days basking in the glory of God.”

The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, led Robert to Louisville, KY to study at Southern Seminary. Though our homes were hundreds of miles apart our hearts were knitted together. Speaking with Robert was like picking up where yesterday’s conversation left off. We watched his children marry, welcomed the arrival of his grandchildren, and said goodbye to his parents & inlaws. I was always jealous of the young men of Southern who were graced with his wisdom and soaked up his pastoral insight. Robert did not have the credentials of academic institutions or education from the Ivy leagues, yet his pastoral wisdom, theological insight, and compassionate heart dwarf most who do. I will never understood why he never again ‘received a call’ to pastoral ministry after Christ Fellowship. However, the past six months has revealed an army of men and women impacted by his passion and whose hearts have been ignited for God’s glory. Furthermore, I have seen Robert’s fingerprints in how I handle scripture, communicate God’s truths, and think through challenges of this life. The impact of his ministry has been invaluable on my ministry and the ministries of many other pastors from Jacksonville to Louisville. It is this impact that makes me struggle with his diagnosis yet at the same time find comfort. As in all things of his life, He is not wasting his suffering. He is redeeming his brain tumor for God’s glory. In our last visit he looked me in the eye and said, “Chris, this tumor may very well be the thing that takes me out. I promise you that it won’t go down without a fight.” This brain tumor is apart of God’s sovereign plan and will be used for His glory. Robert is saddling up his horse and riding into this apparent frowning Providence always trusting the God who holds the universe in His hand. The fight is not over.

The lasting snapshot that is frozen into my memory was on a rainy August afternoon as he sat in my home. His strong hands weakened by the stroke that would have rendered lesser men helpless. A newsboy hat covered the bald head where he once proudly wore a thick plume of white hair. He called me to his side, looked deep into my soul, and with tears in his eyes he said, “I want you to tell [the people of Ocean Park] that the Word of God sustains you. Tell them that Psalm 119:50 is true! [‘This is my comfort in my affliction, That your word has revived me.’] I want you to tell them because I know it’s true.” There was no hesitation. No doubt. No bitterness. His words were infused with the confidence that only first hand experience can provide. He assured me that our suffering is not meaningless but in the midst of suffering there is something cosmic going on. Something eternal. Something glorious. “Suffering teaches us to lean into the Lion of Judah. To trust our Heavenly Father when he says, ‘I will not fail you’. One thing that I want you to know Chris, is that is that I believed and trusted Christ. He has never failed me.” It was in Robert that I witnessed firsthand this to be true. God is faithful though he moves in mysterious ways. That conversation between Robert and I will forever be etched into the fabric of my memory. I have played it over and over again. It is apart of me.

Robert Konemann is a man with the strength and presence of a lion, yet the compassion and tenderness of a lamb. I will forever be indebted to Robert’s life and ministry as I journey along this pilgrimage of life. His words, laughter, passion, and wounds will forever be guiding lights in my life and ministry. However, outweighing all of what Robert has done for me is the clearer picture of God he has given me. Not a shallow God of health, wealth, and prosperity. Not a cold and distant God who cares little for his creation. Rather, a strong and tender God who is intimately involved in the life of His people. A God who shepherds, provides, and comforts His people. A God who is working all things for good despite the fact that not all things are not good. A God who we can trust. A God who is not a novice. He knows what He is doing.

Thank you my friend for not wasting your tumor. You are my hero.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

You may notice something different about our worship service this coming Sunday (December 6th). It won’t be an epic fog machine, the pounding of drums, or my sermon culminating in an interpretive dance routine. The biggest difference in our worship service will be the presence of Ocean Park’s children. Over the past year I have had many people communicate to me how thankful they were that to hear the shouts and laughter of children filling the hallways of our church. It is truly a blessing to see young families with children in our church. As the pastor I have a responsibility and joy of guiding parents in the process of raise their children to fear and honor the Lord. A vital step toward accomplishing this end is to have families in worship together. Scripture is replete with examples of this: Deuteronomy 31:12-13 & Joshua 8:30-35 are perhaps the most explicit in demonstrating that children were present in the reading of the law and worship of Israel. I think it goes without saying that even in biblical times the Israelite wee ones still squirmed, got distracted by random things, and struggled to sit still. However, the value of families worshipping together was not negated by a bad case of the wiggles or the children finding the reading of the law as ‘boring’. God has entrusted Christian parents with the responsibility of modeling to their children a love for the Lord. A love that seeks Him with all with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Furthermore, that love is demonstrated by seizing every moment along this journey of life to teach the way of the Lord to their children. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 demonstrated the daily responsibility of a parent’s duty, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (emphasis mine). A parent’s responsibility begins in the home by demonstrating Christ as a priority in your speech and conduct as well as setting time aside for family worship (reading scripture and prayer). Another critical step shepherding the heart of our children is to worship together. As a family worships together the children begin to become saturated with the hymns that are being sung, the reading of scripture, and watching the demeanor of their parent’s and other adults within the congregation. John & Noel Piper write a fantastic article on the importance and benefits of the family worshiping together as well as practical goals and requirements for each family. Another good article on children in worship service is Melissa Eddington's article "It's Okay for Kids to be Bored in Church". Even when we think a child is not benefiting from the worship service the Holy Spirit may be working in their hearts in ways we do not perceive. I remember was Andrew was very young (4 or 5 years old). He would often sit in service and seem bored. However, one communion Sunday on the way home from church, his little voice inquired from the back seat, “Daddy, why do you and Mommy eat the bread and drink the juice?” It was at that moment I was able to point Andrew toward the sacrifice of Christ for his sins and call him to trust the gospel. This would not have happened if we had not been segregated by age. Ultimately, there are many different forms of "Family Integrated Worship", some I would model and some I would not. Here at Ocean Park we will have our children (2nd grade and under) sit in worship with their families until the song prior to worship. If a child does not have a family in attendance I would ask that another family ‘adopt’ them for the service. Once the children are dismissed back to Children’s Church they will have their own Bible lesson. Likewise, the pre-school aged children will be dismissed to the nursery where they can talk and play to their heart’s content, while the parents received the preaching of God’s word without the distraction of little wigglers. There will be a day when all the children of Ocean Park will be able to sit through the entire sermon but they will need time to be gradually taught how to behave in worship. It will take time, patience, and a generous supply of grace from everyone involved. The children of Ocean Park aren't going to be perfectly behaved this Sunday or the next. In fact, there will likely be squirming, distractions, and tears by the child (and possibly the parents). However, I honestly believe that the growing pains of introducing the children into worship will pale in comparison to the benefit of having parents worshiping with their children. May God be glorified when Ocean Park embodies the Words of Psalm 145:4;11-12 “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts...They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.” ~ Pastor Chris


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8

We have roughly 10,000 minutes each week of which to invest in life. Apart from the non-negotiable of sleeping and eating how do you invest your time? Do you endure your ‘work’ time so that you can enjoy your ‘free time’? Do you invest your ‘free time’ on things like family, exercise, fishing, sport, movies, hobbies, reading, or some other activity that brings you pleasure? Yet what about the people who to whom the word ‘free time’ an enigma due to work or other responsibilities consuming every extra second? I spoke with a couple where the husband was completely consumed with his sales job. During every family activity, every birthday, every trip to the beach the husband was talking on the phone with potential clients. Meanwhile, his marriage was being neglected, his children’s childhood rapidly evaporating, and his faith being pushed to the burner behind the back burner. Tragically, he was choosing his work above his family. Admittedly, not all our minutes are monopolized by our jobs yet we still manage to find other buckets to pour our time. We pour our extra minutes into other things like caring for a family, raising our children, or furthering our education. The things in which we choose to invest our time reveal our priorities and our desires. A mentor once told me, “People will do, what people want to do.” If they want to fish; they will put a fishing pole in their trunk, ‘just in case’. If they want to go to a movie they will ensure that their calendar is clear on the night of the premiere. People will find time to do what they want to do. Priorities take priority. If someone were to take an inventory of how you spent the last week, what would it reveal about your priorities? Would the way you invested your 10,000 minutes time support what you claim is most valuable or would it betray it? Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 are a reminder that we must be ever aware of investing our time in the things that will remain for eternity. There is an endless buffet of eternally meaningless choices vying for our affection. Where will you invest your time? This is precisely where the value of godliness is so critical in the life of Ocean Park. Do the members of our congregation value God centered worship and crave the food of the Word of God? If you answered yes, does your weekly schedule reflect that claim? If you answered no, why would someone who claims Jesus as Lord disregard the opportunity to worship him or be taught his word? If someone does not have a priority on the value of worship they will find a whole host of things to divert their attention; sports, vacation, sleep, gardening, the beach, movies, automobiles and an never-ending list of leisure activities. Neglecting to attend worship on Sundays or disregarding the value of corporate prayer and Bible Study during the week is often the fruit of not valuing Christ. If we stay home from church because we are tired, we are choosing the priority of sleep over worship. If we are going to sporting events (professional or our child’s) on Sundays, we are choosing the priority of sports over worship. It wouldn’t take long for an observer to identify what we hold most precious by our weekly calendar. May it never be said, “He loves the Lord except when the Jaguars play.” What are the priorities of your life? Family or work? Fishing or the Beach? The satisfaction of knowing God and being filled with his life-giving word or your kids t-ball game? Please realize that I am not calling you to throw away your fishing pole, break your knitting needles, or take your kid off the team. Enjoy the good things that God has given. However, I urge you to lay aside the lesser pleasures of the society that pale in comparison for the eternal satisfaction and joy of worshiping the one true God who saved your soul, poured his grace upon you, and made you his child. It is my prayer that Jax Beach will recognize that our church makes worship both a priority and a pleasure. That the things that the world seeks to divert our affections towards are nothing but counterfeit pleasures robbing us of everlasting joy. May God be glorified in how Ocean Park delights in the treasure of the Gospel as our greatest desire.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

Friday, April 3rd, will mark two significant events in biblical history. Passover and Good Friday. Passover commemorates the events of Exodus 12 and Good Friday remembers the death of Jesus Christ. We will join together as a congregation on Friday to remember the passion of Jesus Christ who died in order to pay the ransom for our sin. Yet, the question arises, “Why don’t we celebrate Passover as Christians?”

First, we need to understand the meaning of Passover. God made a covenant to Abraham in Genesis 12 that promised that all the nations of the world would be blessed through one of his descendants. Miraculously, the man who was nearly a centenarian had a son and was blessed with innumerable descendants. However, subsequent generations found themselves held in the bondage of slavery to their Egyptian masters. Yet, God remembered his promise to Abraham and commanded Moses to instruct Pharaoh to allow the people freedom to worship. However, despite nine epic plagues, Pharaoh's hard heart refused to obey the command of the Lord. The final plague was the angel of death passing throughout Egypt, killing the firstborn of every family as judgement for refusing to obey the command of Yahweh. However, God in his grace provided a way for the Hebrew people to avoid the judgement of death upon their families. A lamb would be slain and its blood spread on the doorposts and lintels. When the angel came to the house he saw the blood of the lamb and death ‘passed over’ the inhabitants of the home. The feast of Passover became a permanent reminder of the work that God wrought on behalf of Israel.

Second, as Christians, we must remember the Old Testament sacrifices and ceremonies serve as picture or a shadow of the things to come (Hebrews 10:1). Ultimately, on the first Passover God provided a lamb to die in the place of His people, as He did previously for Abraham (Gen 22) and on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16). In the passover we see the significance of God providing a means to preserve the life of His people while bringing wrath upon those who refused to follow His commands. Consequently, Jesus takes the Passover meal and infuses it with a new significance as the symbol of the New Covenant (Jer 31; Luke 22:20). The bread symbolizes His body and the wine (or juice for us Baptists) His blood. Jesus takes the shadow that was the Passover celebration and reveals the substance to which it points to: Jesus the ‘Lamb of God’ who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:36). So in essence we are continuing the festival of Passover in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Just as the sacrifices of the Old Testament were a shadows of the ‘once-for-all’ sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus tells us that the Passover is not simply a meal to remember the deliverance of the Hebrews from bondage of Egypt but now has transformed it into a communion meal to remember His body & blood that were slain to deliver His people (Jew & Gentile) from the bondage of sin. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are celebrating Jesus as the lamb that was slain at Calvary so that the wrath of God would ‘passover’ all who were ‘in Christ’ (Rev 5:12).

Finally, Jesus did not abolish the sacrifices and festivals but fulfilled the purpose of them so that they were no longer necessary (Matt 5:17). They were pointing to the one who would come. Now that Christ has arrived; their purpose has been fulfilled and their practice is no longer necessary. It is as if a bride came to her wedding and refused to go to the ceremony because she was too busy reading her groom’s love letters. She no longer needs the love letters because her groom is present. The bride joyfully lays the letters aside in order to be in the presence of her beloved. The letters were valued because they were reflections of the love of her distant groom but now that he has arrived they pale in comparison to his presence. In the same way, the ceremonies and sacrifices of the Old Testament have accomplished their purpose of pointing people toward Christ. As Christians, we follow the instruction of Jesus Christ to remember the sacrifice of the ultimate Passover lamb that was slain so that we would not taste death but be delivered unto everlasting life. One day we will arrive in the rest of the Promised Land of Christ’s eternal kingdom (Hebrews 4:11-16). As Christians, we can appreciate the richness of the historical & theological significance of the Passover but we must never forget to what it is pointing; the death of Christ for the sins of the world (1 Timothy 1:15). He is the ultimate passover lamb that we celebrate.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

Last Sunday afternoon the image of 21 Egyptian Christians on a rocky beach in Lybia came across my twitter feed. The caption at the bottom of the picture read, “The people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian church.” Subsequent photos communicated that these maniacal killers had beheaded the 21 men as their blood was washed away into the tide of the Mediterranean Sea. As these 21 men lived the last few moments of their lives they prayed, sang, and cried out, “Oh Jesus” before their heads were savagely torn from their shoulders. I have look at this picture all week. Some bowed their heads in quiet prayer, others stared into the distance with solemn acceptance of their fate, others recoiled at the cold touch of their hardened killers. I cursed the cowards who could perpetuate such evil to these men for simply being, “People of the Cross”. As this image sunk deep into my soul, the Holy Spirit laid Hebrews 11:38 on my heart, “They were…of whom the world was not worthy…” The death of these 21 men is incredibly significant. They were killed because of their desire to follow Christ and demonstrated it in the fact that they laid down their life to attain it. As they looked their murders in the eyes they did not plead for their freedom but called out to Christ because He was their only hope in life AND death.

The deaths of these men should serve as a sobering reminder of the value of following Christ. However, in a world 5,000 miles removed from ISIS, the pursuit of Christ looks very different in our cultural context. Rather than choosing between the desire to live and the desire to be faithful to Christ we are torn between the subtly attractions that our culture dangles in front of us; sports, news, leisure, money, entertainment, and health (to name a few). There is very real danger that the good things, which were meant to be reflections of God’s glory, become ultimate things replacing God’s glory. Without even realizing it we unconsciously renounce Christ by constantly choosing to follow the desires of the world rather than pursuing Christ. However, the death of these 21 men was a sobering wake-up call to reassess our priorities. When someone forces us to choose between the pleasures of this world and the pleasure of following Christ how will we respond? Will we cling to Christ or sheepishly tuck our tails and run? We don’t endure persecution, both large and small, for things that are meaningless. If something is of value than it is worth the struggle to attain. For example; Anna is willing to endure the pain of squats, sprints, and sore legs in exchange for the joy of playing volleyball. Andrew will endure the heat of August practices, the coach’s wrath, and physical fatigue because he loves the joy strapping on the pads and hitting someone. To both their desire to play overrides their desire for comfort. Their sport is shown to be more valuable than the desire for leisure or the desire for comfort because they chose to pursue it. In the same manner, we demonstrate the value of Christ when we choose to pursue Him rather than the desires of this world. May we, like the 21 Egyptians, have the courage to pursue Christ above all! Each day we are forced to choose between the desire of Christ and the desires of this world. I pray that we would answer as Peter did in John 6, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” rather than how he responded in Luke 22, “Woman, I do not know him.” I want to promise you this morning that Jesus is more valuable than anything that this world can offer; the vain things, the good things; even life itself.

A fisherman once told me that laziness when the sea is calm makes things deadly when the ocean sea is rough. I want to show you now when the waters of life are calm to be diligent to pursue Christ so that, when the thunderclouds of persecution pour down and sorrows like sea billows roll, your feet will stand firm on the rock of Jesus Christ. There is nothing like the strength that Christ provides, nor is there anything that can provide such satisfaction to our souls. This all comes because Jesus has brought us peace with God (Romans 5:1). We are no longer vessels of wrath following the passions of the world. We are chosen, called, converted, and united with Christ to the Father. The completed work of Christ is the means to peace with God. We cannot improve upon, add to, or change what Christ has accomplished. Hebrews 12:2 tells of the greatness of this work, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus has finished the race, He has paid the price, He has won the victory, and now sits in the place of utmost honor. It is in this place of honor and authority that He calls us to follow him, to keep running, to keep holding on, and not to give up. When we pursue Christ we receive eternal satisfaction that even the most decadent pleasures of this world can never provide. Christ infuses every work, action, pursuit, and pleasure with God-glorifying significance that can be found nowhere else. Most of us will never have to choose between keeping your life and following Christ. However, you will be asked to choose between the desires of this life and the desire for Christ. As we run through the difficulties, struggles, and pains of this life, where do you look for strength? Who is it that you turn for salvation? Where is your strength and hope? Will you find significance in your career or Christ? Family or Christ? Leisure or Christ? Functional saviors like drugs, sex, alcohol, people or in Christ alone? or the good things in life like family, relationships, and community? Jesus Christ is more valuable than any of these because it brings us into fellowship and peace with God. Ocean Park, may we choose Christ above everything else. May we, like the 21 Egyptian Christians, be faithful to Jesus until the very end. May the dangers of this world cause us to put our faith in the hope of the Gospel and look to the value of peace with God that only Christ can bring.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

Betty Burrow was born in Nichols, Florida on August 12, 1933 to Alvin and Grace Brown. She was the youngest of three girls, with Evelyn and Linda. From the moment of her birth Betty had a natural charm that drew people to her. She was the baby of the family and the baby of the town. The residents of Nichols used to take turns holding her and even begged Grace to take this sweet little girl home with them. She had a magnetism that drew people toward her ever since she was an infant. Life in Central Florida during the Great Depression was difficult. However, Alvin worked as the stationary engineer at the Phosphate mine and Grace would come to work at the canning plant. To make ends meet when rations were scarce they had a small band of chickens that provided enough eggs to meet their needs. The Lord always provided. Betty was a woman full of love and that was seen most brilliantly in the love that she had for her family. She was a staunch defender of her family and there was nothing that she would not do to express her love for her husband Wayne, son Jim, daughter Cheryl, and her grandchildren Jason, Sarah, Brian, Jamie, Christy, and Elizabeth. Not to mention the great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and extended family that loved her. Betty was blessed to be married to Wayne for over 25 years. They loved each other through the good and bad with unfailing loyalty. It broke Betty’s heart in 1989 when Wayne passed away. However, with the love of her family, the support of her church, and the peace of Christ she was able to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. Betty was a women who loved much and loved well. Holidays were spent at her “little pink house” on Williams Street with the Black Brick Fireplace and the garden in the back. Betty insisted that Thanksgiving and Christmas offer both a Ham and Turkey for her family to enjoy. The table was filled with her famous pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, coconut cream pie, and her special recipe ‘snowballs’ that would inevitably be consumed until you felt like a snowball yourself. The emphasis of the holidays was family and the many blessings the Lord had given them. Betty’s home was filled with the laughter and the noise of the grandchildren as they stuffed their faces with Betty’s scrumptious goodies, the secret treasures that Wayne had hidden in his garden, and the songs that she had taught them since they were little. Songs like “Mares eat oats, does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy” are songs that will forever remind her family of her love, tenderness, and devotion to them. She loved to be apart of her grandchildren’s life and was a staple at their baseball games, recitals, and was always willing to drop and pick them up from school when needed. She had a warm heart that was always willing to soothe her grandbabies bad days with ice cream or a strategic shopping trip. She did whatever she could to make her family feel loved. Betty also jumped at the chance to go fishing with Wayne or the kids and grandkids whenever the opportunity would present itself. In her life her greatest desire was that her children and grandchildren come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. She sung Bible songs like Jesus Loves Me, Serve Him Serve Him all ye Little Children, and Jesus loves the Little Children. These songs will be sung to her grandchildren and their grandchildren and for generations to come because of the legacy of faith that she instilled in her family. Betty loved to listen to music and would often get lost in the tones of Engelbert Humperdinck, Tommy Jones, and Elvis Presley. She loved songs like “Moon River” and “Wind Beneath My Wings”. She was also known to ‘cut a rug’ at weddings and would always welcome a dance with the handsome gentleman that were friends of her grandchildren. She loved to dance, laugh, and sing. Yet, it was the Great Hymns of the Faith that moved her soul. How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, and Softly and Tenderly were songs that not only moved her but expressed the greatest love of her life, Jesus Christ. It was her love of Christ that motivated her to love her husband faithfully, pray countless hours for the salvation of her children, and comforted her in the twilight of her life. Her love for Christ motivated her to serve others. This was especially evident in how she loved out congregation at Ocean Park. Though I never had the pleasure to meet Betty I have heard her name fondly spoken many times. She loved to serve Christ by serving the church. In Central Florida she was faithful to spruce up the sanctuary with fresh cut flowers and heart-felt church dinners for the congregation. Here at Ocean Park she was responsible for overseeing the kitchen and our monthly luncheon. She ran the kitchen with love and precision as she ensured that everyone was comfortable and well feed. Her service was not a chore but a badge of honor that she was glad to wear. She truly loved to serve. Betty’s years were filled with laughter and tears, trials and victories. She made mistakes and she did great things. She was blessed to see a legacy of faith that will continue for many generations when subsequent generations retell the stories of Momma and Grandma, sing the songs that filled her heart with joy, and exalt the Gospel that she loved. She was a blessing to those who called her friend, Momma, and Grandma. However, may she be best remembered as a woman who knew that she was a sinner and that she had an even greater Savior, Jesus Christ.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

As I write this post Crosby is running and jumping in our backyard oblivious to cares of the world. His big brown eyes sparkling in the rays of the warm Florida sun while laughter and giggles resonate throughout the yard. His only care is to see how fast his stubby little legs can run to catch his big brother 'Bubba'. Meanwhile, in near freezing, overcast Ohio, a young woman lay in a medical coma with little hope she will ever wake up. This morning we received a call from Grace informing us that Crosby's birth mother Charity had collapsed at work and was rushed to the hospital. The circumstances of life have not allowed Charity to get the proper attention for a serious heart condition which is threatening to take her life. At this point, the prognosis is bleak and the doctors have little confidence that she will live. It is unfathomable to type those words.

I earnestly ask you to pray. First, that Charity's heart would be strengthened. Pray that the doctors and nurses would have wisdom and compassion as they care for her. As long as she has breath the Lord can intervene and cause her treatment to be effective. He is able to work in this situation. Second, pray for her son. He is five years old and the thought of any child losing their mother is heart breaking. Pray for his confusion in this situation, his care, and that he would grow to be a man who loves Christ. Third, Charity's son is with his father. Pray for him as he navigates such a difficult time with wisdom and love as he will be forced to answer questions no five year old should be forced to ask.

Finally, pray that the Gospel would be glorified in this situation. There are so many unanswered questions, emotions, and doubts that flood your mind when you receive such news. Pray that we would remember that God is sovereign, God is good, and God is directing all things for glory. Even when we cannot see the light of grace behind a frowning providence.

Update: February 16th - Though she remains in a coma, Charity is responding to pain and is opening her eyes yet not focusing on anything. This is good news. Please continue to pray. Her mother is able to be with her and her son has been able to visit.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

Smaller churches can often get an inferiority complex. They see the diverse programs offered by the big churches for children, singles, families, and the community and feel a bit like a second class citizen. Big churches have fancy technology, a wide array of musical talent, and deeper resources from which to operate. All of the aforementioned can be powerful tools for the spread of the kingdom. However, the lack of such resources does not invalidate the value of a ‘little’ church like Ocean Park. Last Sunday, my pastoral mentor, Robert Konemann, preached at Ocean Park. He gave the church the following charge concerning the mission and power of Ocean Park’s ministry…“About thirty miles south of here is a city we all know well; St Augustine. In that city there is purported to be a fountain that Ponce de Leon once sought. We know it to be the Fountain of Youth. I want to say to you in my experience sitting with you in your midst, that there indeed is a fountain of youth in proximity to you. It’s here! I’m not sure if you’ve recognized it or not, but within the confines of these walls, in your presence and my presence, there is a fountain of life because Christ is proclaimed. I feel it this morning. I rejoice in it. It is empowering to me in this moment in which we exist. There is a fountain that is located in Ocean Park Baptist Church and you need to rejoice in that fountain. Just because there are four walls and a cross hanging on the wall does not mean that the fountain resides in that place. There are places scattered across Jacksonville that you will go in there and there will be no life. The life that is internal in this place needs to be turned inside-out so the community around you can receive what you have. I challenge you, make this fountain know and the best way for you to make this fountain known is to drink deeply from it. You know the world has picked up on this. What is the greatest form of advertisement that the world can express? A satisfied customer! What do satisfied customers do? They talk! They talk about their experience. So what I would suggest is that you drink deeply from this fountain, from the presence of Christ in the midst of his people. Doing so will transform your thinking and transform your heart. That transformation will then radiate out wherever you go. We wont have to ‘try’ to do anything because the transformation will be apparent. The question will naturally arise, “From where did you derive this life?” and you will say, “Right down the street”… at Ocean Park where God is glorified and the gospel is magnified. It is my prayer that we take these words to heart. That we lay aside the temporary distractions that vie for our attention, tune our the voices that clamor for our attention, and listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd that calls us to “deny [ourselves] and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). When our hearts are captivated by the majesty and beauty of the gospel it will permeate every aspect of our being. We will love our spouses differently, raise our children differently, and interact with our friend and neighbors differently. When people see the radical difference that gospel of Jesus Christ makes in our lives it will have a profound affect on their lives and on our church. Matthew 5:16 describes the result when we drink deep of the Gospel, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Ocean Park may we see the value of the living water of the gospel of Jesus Christ and drink deep so that we are satisfied and God is glorified in Jax Beach and throughout the world.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris

On January 18th SBC churches throughout the country will celebrate “Sanctity of Life” Sunday. Two days later, our nation will celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and his profound influence toward making his “Dream” a reality. It is no coincidence that the sanctity of life and Dr. Kings message are celebrated by Christians throughout the nation. They are both rooted in the fundamental Christian doctrine that mankind has dignity and value because all mankind is created in the image of God. This truth is revealed in the very beginning of scripture in Gen 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created him.” The child in the womb is precious because he is created in the image of God. Young black lives matter because they are created in the image of God. The lonely senior citizen in the twilight of their life is valuable because they are created in the image of God. God’s image is precious and is to be guarded and treasured so much so that God instituted punishments on anyone who would trifle with the image of God (Gen. 9:6). His image is not to be trivialized or denied. If we can deny the image of God in a person, we can strip whole groups of people of their fundamental rights, treat them with contempt, or even take their life without hesitation. This was seen most vividly in the history of our country in denying the personhood of African slaves while declaring them only 3/5 of a man. Africans and their descendants were exploited, debased, and abused until we slowly awoke from the sinful slumber of segregation and racism. Our nation has continued to deny the image of God in the “fetus” in the womb by declaring it subject to the choice of the mother rather than giving the child the protection that the image of God deserves. Equally harrowing the world watched as six million Jews were exterminated simply because they were deemed them less than human and devoid of the image of God. The sad reality of all the previous examples is that often Christians were silent as African Americans were oppressed, infants murdered, and Jews exterminated. This simply cannot be. Dr. King lamented the many White churches who did nothing to ease the plight of their struggling black brothers and sisters. German churches turned a blind eye to the lurking evil that the concentration camps held. Christians often vote pro-life but do little to help the mother struggling with the ‘choice’ of what do with the child in her womb. If we are to be faithful to the gospel we must be champions of the image of God. The gospel declares, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). The goal is not to be ‘color-blind’ but rather celebrate the beauty of the image of God painted on the fabric of humanity. The gospel says we are brothers and sister because we share a bloodline of faith in Christ rather than a bloodline of ethnicity. The gospel enables us to overcome the boundaries of culture, age, education, and socio-economics. It says that we are one family from many diverse tribes and tongues. Christians share one adopted Heavenly Father who unites us into one family therefore and no longer defined by class, color, or culture but by faith in Christ. It is my prayer that, as Christians, we would pray for eyes like Jesus, “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36) Oh that we would have a heart for people like Jesus did! We can overcome personal prejudices, blind spots, and honest ignorance when we devote ourselves to the gospel. Please pray that you would see people the way that Jesus saw people; image-bearers who need to be rescued from the shackles of sin. When we begin to look at people as Jesus did, we will be bold to declare the life giving, prejudice destroying, sin defeating, message of the gospel for the glory of God our Heavenly Father.

A version of this blog originally appeared in the January 20, 2014 newsletter.


Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Chris