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Laddie's Story

I moved to Orlando from England at the age of two and my parents started attending First Baptist Orlando. Around the age of 12, I strayed away from church as I was dealing with my parents separating. As a result of the separation of my parents and straying away from Christ, I became more involved with crime, gangs, drugs, and alcohol. A negative invested street life. I had multiple arrests in which most cases I spent time incarcerated. Others where I dodged spending the rest of my life in prison. There were multiple situations in which I was placed in the emergency room fighting for my life due to gang activity.

I was once again sitting in a jail cell in 2012 for what I told myself would be the last time. After my release, I tried starting up a company. A few years went by but I didn't feel complete. So, I asked my family if they would like to get back into church with me.

As of 2015, my family and I have been going to church on a consistent basis. Today, I serve at First Orlando as a lead usher. I'm so happy that I went through what I did because it led me back to Christ and First Orlando. And that led to the opportunity for me to minister for Christ and my church.

What I have liked about First Baptist Orlando is the fact that this church body is super welcoming. You will not step foot on the property without multiple people welcoming you and encouraging you. They are far from judgmental, and that includes the pastors. They welcome you no matter your skin color, ethnicity, background or style. They encourage you to serve but don't ever put pressure on you or act as if you are a lesser person than the ones who do serve!

Laddie Calloway

0 Comments :: Passion For People

Remember the Rainbows

It had been raining all afternoon. I was working with a video crew shooting golf courses in Ireland, and well, you can’t shoot in the rain. With no end in sight, we called the afternoon a wash (pun intended) and returned to the hotel. I checked out a few shops and laid down to rest before dinner. As the day began to wind down, the sun began to peek from behind the clouds just before setting for the night. Then my phone buzzed to life. The text from my camera guy said, “Do you see the rainbow?!” I’ve never run out so fast. The crew and I raced to the van and drove as quickly (and safely) to the course as we could. It was still drizzling, but there it was: the most brilliant, full double rainbow I’d ever seen. This picture doesn’t do it justice.

I love that God gave us rainbows. After the rain, after the storm, after the clouds, He gives us this beautiful reminder that He promised the rain wouldn’t destroy all life again. In Genesis 9, after months on board the ark, Noah and his family stepped out into light, and God did something He had never done before: he painted the sky with a spectrum of colors. It was a reminder that He would never completely wipe out life, plant, animal or human, again with a flood. It’s a good reminder after days like we had yesterday and this morning.

 

“I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:11-17

 

We’ve spent the month reflecting on God’s Faithfulness, which we’ve defined as God keeping His promises. One lesson I’ve learned through my husband’s health journey is to remember.

Last week, I shared three promises I’ve learned through my husband’s health journey. Today, I want to close the month out with one task for you:

Remember the Rainbows.

You see, God gave us rainbows as a tangible reminder of a promise He made. Every time the clouds clear and the sun shines after the rain, we are reminded that God said He wouldn’t destroy the entire earth by flood again. The Bible has many examples of God’s people building altars or placing stones of remembrance, but here are a few:

  • When the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land (Joshua 3-4).
  • When God saved the Israelites from Philistines (1 Samuel 7)
  • When God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19)

When Kris was in hospital and in the days after, we took notes in our phones, the ways we saw God. We took notes on what we were thankful for and how He had provided for us. There was the answer He gave: a diagnosis. There was the EMT that Kris talked with about godly relationships. There was the body of Christ who wrapped themselves around us showing that the church isn’t the building but the people. The wisdom of doctors who wouldn’t give up and kept digging when test after test came back negative. Our families that were such a tremendous help with our kids. I want to be careful here: I’m not saying these were God’s faithfulness, because He didn’t promise us answers or healing. But we needed those notes to reference on the bad days, when darkness seemed to surround us and we felt lost and alone. We could look back and see God in our storm; we could see that He never left us. He kept His promise to never forsake us.

Remembering looks different for different people. For me, it is writing. I have friends who have jars. Every time God moves, they write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. I remember in one of Bible Studies, we wrote on rocks and created our own stones of remembrance. I’m sure Pinterest is full of ideas! But do something! Find a way to tangibly remember His rainbows.

0 Comments :: Faith

New Here? (Or Thinking About Visiting Us?)

I’m an introvert who sometimes masquerades as an extrovert.  If you asked me to wake up early on a weekend, show up to a 120 acre Southern Baptist church campus with multiple buildings and thousands of strangers (some of whom have been golfing buddies for the past couple decades)…

…and expected me to find some meaningful connection to other people and God all on my first visit, I would squint my eyes at you and might even outright call you crazy.

Let’s be honest: just surviving a first visit to a church is an impressive feat all on its own. If you have young children to get ready and bring with you, it’s a miracle.

Especially if you are still trying to decide whether or not you buy into the whole God thing.

So consider this a survival guide to visiting First Baptist Orlando complete with the two most important tips for a great first visit.

The First Thing You Need to Know: COME AS YOU ARE

At First Baptist Orlando we have a passion for people and wholeheartedly believe that all people matter to God.

We want you to feel welcome and at home regardless of your nationality, heart language, background, or current life circumstances.

Dress code is whatever is most comfortable for you. Those who regularly attend our church come wearing anything from three-piece suits to shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops.

The Second Thing You Need to Know: STOP BY A BLUE TENT

Helping to make your initial visit to First Baptist Orlando an easier experience is what our Tent Team is passionate about…

Outside of each of our main entrances are big blue tents that say “New Here?” across the top. You can’t miss them. And while they may not remove all the jitters of a first time visit, they can give you an easy destination from the moment you get out of your car.

Once at a tent one of our volunteers will welcome you and ask you to fill out a guest card with as much information as you feel comfortable sharing, just so we can thank you for attending (your information will not be shared or sold) and offer you a welcome bag that has some information about our church and a small gift for your family.

Next, one of our Tent Team members will offer to walk you to wherever you need to go next, whether that is straight into a service or to one our dedicated and age-appropriate environments to drop off your kids or teens (who doesn’t want free childcare right?). Or perhaps you arrive early and you want to be shown to our church’s cafĂ© where you can grab a quick breakfast and your favorite Starbucks© drink.

What’s In A Name?

The reason our tents say “New Here?” instead of “First Time?” is that we understand you might want to sneak into a service in anonymity the first couple times you come to get a lay of the land.

Whether it’s your first, third, or tenth time at First Baptist, if you feel new and want help getting connected our New Here Tents are a great destination for you.

Rieid Adams: Director Connections Ministry

0 Comments :: Passion For People, Passion For Serve

Which One Are You: Curious Or Cynical?

Have you ever noticed that cynical people are rarely curious?  You know why?  Because they think they already know the answer (and it’s not usually good, reliable, or accurate by the way.)

On the flip side of the equation – Curious people are almost never cynical.

I like people who are relentlessly curious. I am sure it is my world these days, but I am wildly intrigued with the child-like approach my grandchildren have toward life. I have four that can talk and one that is up to about fifteen words. When they were with me over the Christmas holiday, I think they asked about five hundred questions (don’t you loathe people who exaggerate?) in two days. I think we crammed more questions in on those two days than most people ask in six months.

It dawned on me that there are 8 characteristics about curious people.  They:

Never stop learning -

Ask great questions -

Are interested in others and in new experiences -

Don’t settle for standard answers -

Push the boundaries -

Smile when no one else does -

Believe when most people don’t -

Widen their universe when everyone else is narrowing theirs -

The curious do these things.

I’ve decided that I want to become more curious, not less curious (which seems to be the normal pattern) as I get older. As a Legacy Adult, it will keep you always willing to look for new ideas, new ways, and new solutions … and keeps you from turning into the resident cynic.

9 Ideas For Becoming More Curious

So how do you become more curious? Here are a few suggestions to get you and I started:

1. Plan some thinking time. Busy-ness is the enemy of wonder, among other things. You can’t wonder when you are constantly in a hurry.

2. Click. When I read my Twitter or Facebook feed, I find if I click on the links and notes in other people’s lives, I grow more curious. Particularly if they are not like me.

3. Ask more questions. Great Legacy Adults ask questions even more than they give answers. Jesus was the best ever at asking questions. And people who ask questions are just more fun to be around – aren’t they?

4. Give fewer answers. I have to battle the desire to have an answer for everything. Giving fewer answers in every day conversation can help.

5. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Because often it’s way more true than we admit anyway. And, saying “I don’t know” can lead us to a better answer later.

6. Wonder. Kids wonder. Adults stop wondering. Reverse engineer this in your life.

7. Be thankful. Stop taking things for granted. Gratitude can make you more open-to everything.

8. Ask, “Why not?” Why not, after all?

9. Dream. You used to do that didn’t you? Where does it say that people over 60 don’t have the luxury of dreaming anymore?

You know what this means? In a good way, we must become more child-like. In Matthew 18:1-5, it says,

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. I assure you, He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child – this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one child like this in My name welcomes Me.’”

I wonder how many questions He got on this experience from the disciples?

The call of Christ is to have a child-like trust, not childish attitudes. For Legacy Adults, this child-like ability to look at the world with curiosity may be more important than we realize.

Just so you know, I have prayed that you would always be curious!  You are loved and prayed for!

Blessings!
Pastor Chris Whaley | Legacy Ministry

0 Comments :: Passion For People

4 Truths That Will Help You Find Real Peace

Everywhere we look, there is so much negative. The turmoil surrounding us is political, economic, career, family and much more than can be mentioned in this space. Yet, not everyone is drowning in the stress of it all. How can that be?

All of us have things we turn to for comfort when things are stressful. There are times I turn to good ole retail therapy, or chocolate or working out or any number of things. It depends on the stressor on what I turn to for comfort – the thing I think will provide that peace of mind I’m searching for.

The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) reveals some stressors (peace robbers). For the father, he may have felt disappointment when his son asked for his share of the inheritance. He may have felt shame, fear and worry about the fact his son left home and was wasting all he had.

The son who stayed home had many peace robbers: jealousy that his brother was received home with open arms and a lavish party thrown for him. He likely felt anger that he was never given a party for his friends.

The prodigal son experienced the most peace robbers. He was dissatisfied with what he had at home. He became dissatisfied with having nothing once he wasted it all. He was hungry, had nothing, and felt shame and guilt for sinning against his father and God and he felt unworthy to be treated as a son.

We all can identify with one or more of the people in the story of the Prodigal Son. The question for us is, “Where do we find REAL peace?”

Here’s 4 truths that will help you find real peace:

  •  A growing personal relationship with Christ reduces anxiety. 1 Peter 5:7--“Cast all your anxiety on Him (Christ) because He cares for you.”
  • God alone provides peace. Philippians 4:7--“And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  • God blesses us with peace. Psalm 29:11--“The LORD gives strength to His people, the LORD blesses His people with peace.”
  • God provides a promise of peace. Psalm 37:37—“Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.”

The peace spoken of in Scripture is not necessarily the opposite of war. Peace here, in our personal life is more of a quiet calmness or tranquility – an inner peace. This is not something we can create on our own but only through a personal growing relationship with Christ. If you are unsure of how to start that relationship, it only takes a confession to God that you need Him and begin to learn and grow in Him.

Author: Stephanie Rasbach, Celebrate Recovery Coordinator

0 Comments :: Passion For God