Christ by the Sea Messages

Walk through the Bible with Pastor Cliff Melvin.


Midweek Message, December 13, 2017

This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Luke 7:27

The Importance of Preparation

Whenever we’re on mission with God like Joseph and Mary were as they waited for the birth of Jesus, we have to prepare.

No one plants seeds one day and expects a harvest in the morning. There are things to do. We are called to cultivate our lives and rest in the fact that God has our future in his hands.

Preparation is a statement of faith. It’s committing to trust even though you’re hurting and heartsick.

Every detail of the Christmas story tells us that Mary and Joseph endured more than their fair share of trials as they waited for the arrival of Jesus. Mary left town. Joseph refused to reject her on the basis of an angelic dream. We can just hear the neighbors gossip about the scandalous events of Mary’s pregnancy. But they prepared and endured it all to be on a much greater mission than any carpenter’s family could imagine.

As you prepare for Christmas and all God has in store for you in the new year, be challenged to prepare for all that’s in store in the following ways:

·         Eliminate distractions. Spend more time with the family and less time at the mall. Simplify your life. Be still and listen to God’s voice

·         Notice God’s hand. Reflect on this past year. How has God carried you through all these good or challenging things?

·         Discern God’s will. Ask God to give you direction.  

·         Unite in a mission. Mary and Joseph undertook an amazing mission on the way to Bethlehem. It certainly must have strengthened their bond as they conquered many obstacles and challenges. There’s nothing more powerful than a couple, a family, or a church rallying around a cause.


Christmas Cantata, Saturday 4:30 and 7pm, Invite a friend or neighbor.

Midweek Message, December 6, 2017

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6

The all-consuming bustle and noise of the Christmas season jostles our senses at this time of year. Presents to buy, cards to write, parties and functions to attend, Christmas holiday plans to be made.

In this season of frenetic clamor, what does it mean for our souls to wait in silence? In whom, or in what, should we trust?

So often, too often, we place our trust in something less than God. We place our trust in busyness, in things, in politicians, in institutions, and in ourselves. We do so time after time, year upon year, and we wonder why it never satisfies. The Psalmist rests content in God alone. The material things and the preoccupations of this age are “lighter than a breath”—of no consequence—compared to the unshakeable strength of God, the rock and fortress of our salvation.

In this Advent season of waiting and preparing we once again place our trust in the God who came among us, the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth. God is the dependable presence in whom we can trust, the source of our hope and our salvation.

For God alone our souls wait in silence. Amen.



·        Advent Vespers take place December 6, 13, 20. Join us for these superb worship experiences.

·        The Christmas Cantata is December 16 at 4:30 and 7:00pm. Don’t miss this very special worship time as we celebrate Christ around the world.

Midweek Message, November 29, 2017

This coming Sunday we celebrate the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

Advent is about faith and waiting. What are you waiting on God for this year? Remember the years of silence as God’s people waited for the Messiah. Take time today, right now, to reflect on the fact that God’s timing is quite different from ours.

The story of Jesus’ birth gives us assurance and joy, because even though the waiting lingered for decades, God broke through at just the right time.

Are you struggling with a lack of faith? That’s OK. It doesn’t take much faith to get God’s attention. Jesus encouraged his frustrated followers this way: “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

Are you willing to plant faith and wait upon God? Nothing seems to be appearing on the horizon today, but just wait! God always keeps God’s promises, even to those who have little faith. Just wait.



  • Advent Vespers on Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm on November 29, December 6, 13, and 20. Wednesday dinner at 5:30 on the same nights.
  • Christmas Cantata is December 16 at 4:30 and 7pm

Midweek Message, November 22, 2017

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20 (KJV)

Most of us find it so easy to thank God for the flowers, the springtime, the gentle winds, and the good health we enjoy.  Very few of us, however, find ourselves thanking God, also, for the storms, the wintertime, the nighttime, and the sickroom experiences along the way.

Yet, these latter experiences are likely to have wrapped up within themselves, life’s richest blessings.  In thanking God for “all things,” have you thought to thank God, too, for the hard things of life?

Fanny Crosby’s greatest blessing came through blindness; John Bunyan’s greatest contribution was made possible by imprisonment; Beethoven’s most sublime compositions were impelled by deafness.  Many of our most useful inventions were born from direct experiences.  The world’s greatest gift, salvation, would never have come except Gethsemane, Golgotha, and the open grave.

Let us search for the hidden blessing of every such experience.

Dear God, help me accept life’s storms as rich blessings. Amen.



·        Happy Thanksgiving!

·        This Sunday, November 26, we will be decorating the church for Christmas after worship. I hope you can join us.

Midweek Message, November 15, 2017

Psalms 27:1-3 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

Two hunters came across a bear so big that they dropped their rifles and ran for cover. One man climbed a tree while the other hid in a nearby cave. The bear was in no hurry to eat, so he sat down between the tree and the cave to reflect upon his good fortune. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the hunter in the cave came rushing out, almost ran into the waiting bear, hesitated, and then dashed back in again. The same thing happened a second time. When he emerged for the third time, his companion in the tree frantically called out, “Woody, are you crazy? Stay in the cave till he leaves!” “Can’t,” panted Woody, “there’s another bear in there!”

Ever feel like fear is giving us the run around? Although there are a lot of scary things going on in the world these days and perhaps even in our own personal lives, God has not called us to live in fear. God has called us to stand strong in God’s confidence, knowing that God is in control! God has called us to live lives full of power, love and a sound mind!

Dr. E. Stanley Jones said “I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt, and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath–these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely–these are my native air.”

Let’s say no to fear! Let’s determine to put our hope in the Lord once again today!


  • Nazzareno Carusi in concert, November 19, 3:00pm. Tickets available in the church office.
  • Thanksgiving Dinner, November 24, 2:00pm. Sign up in Ratcliff Hall.

Midweek Message, November 8, 2017

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Once again, we have heard the horrible, troubling news of another mass shooting. This time in a small Texas church. Please be in prayer for these grieving brothers and sisters in Christ. We truly live in troubling times, fraught with anxious feelings. I am thankful for these words of our Lord, which, while life is often tenuous and distressing, assure us that in Christ we can have peace, for He has overcome the world.

This does not mean that we put our head in the sand and ignore the threats around us. Christ By the Sea has had a plan for a crisis for some time, but we are now making plans to develop a more specific plan in regards to an active shooter. Our leadership takes the protection of our people seriously. We will be training our ushers and greeters with the assistance of local law enforcement.

Know that God’s love surrounds us always, and especially in times of trouble.




  • Band of Brothers meet this Saturday at CJ Cannon’s, 8 am
  • Thanksgiving dinner for those alone this year is at 2 pm. Sign-up to join us.
  • Cuba Cruise informational meeting is this coming Monday, Nov 13, 6 pm in Ratcliff Hall.

Midweek Message, November 1, 2017

There’s a yearly reminder of our connectedness as Christians to the church. It’s called “All Saints Day” and is commemorated every November 1st. We will celebrate it this coming Sunday. Perhaps, you were taught to think of saints as statues in a church building. But the Bible teaches something completely different. Who is a saint? You are. That is, if you’re a follower of Jesus. God calls a “saint” anyone who trusts in Christ alone for salvation (see Acts 9:13, 26:10, Romans 8:27, 1 Corinthians 1:2).

There’s a hymn that’s traditionally sung around this holiday called “For All the Saints.” It encourages believers to look back through the years of Christian history and think of the millions now enjoying rest and salvation in the presence of God. It’s also meant to provide encouragement to believers here and now to press on, looking forward to the glorious day…

“…when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong. Alleluia, Alleluia!”

See you Sunday!



  • The Soup Bowl is tomorrow. Join us here at CBTS to support the Samaritan Center.
  • Thank you to all who made the Pumpkin Patch a huge success!
  • Sign-up now for the Thanksgiving Dinner at CBTS for those without family in town.

Midweek Message, October 25, 2017

Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John 4:8

The world-renowned author and theologian, Karl Barth, once was asked if there was one sentence that summed up his years of work. He responded by saying, “Yes, it is a sentence I learned on my mother’s knee. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

I simply want to share how often I see this love made real through the people at CBTSUMC. From unloading pumpkins, to greeting each other warmly with a hug or a kiss, to folks working on a mission team in Key West, to the many ways you have made me feel appreciated and loved the past two weeks, to surrounding Marcos’ family with your care and support, and the list goes on….just this week alone!

Thank you for being a church that let’s others see God’s love through your actions and words. It warms the heart of your pastor.



·        The Pumpkin Patch is in full swing. Sign up to help by contacting Tom Bugg.

·        Please pray for me this week as I am in Gulf Breeze, FL preparing to move my mother and a sister to Vero Beach.

·        Join us for a special sermon this week celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and the baptism of baby Deric Breese.

Midweek Message, October 18, 2017

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Perhaps this is wrong, but I have a hard time trusting church people who never admit imperfection.

I don’t mean imperfection of the minor kind. I don’t care that your kids’ school lunches aren’t perfectly balanced, or that you skipped yoga class three times last week. I mean real imperfection. You got addicted to something. You got fired from your job. Or you messed up big time and it was all your fault.

When people and things at a church are just a little too neat and tidy, I get a little curious about that church’s spiritual life. Why? Because no one’s life is neat and tidy, and Christians should be the first ones to admit that.

Christians are people who have received grace. We should be people who know at our bedrock that we once were broken badly, and that God loved us and lifted us up.

I heard a speaker at a conference recently who was asked what is best indication that a congregation will die. She replied, “A church that is full of people who cannot tell you about God’s grace in their own lives.”

Why? Because people who know that they have received God’s grace, and who don’t forget it, know what church is all about. It’s not about keeping up appearances. It’s not about appearing morally righteous. It’s not about saying the right things and getting ahead. It’s about knowing that you once were lost and now are found.

Let us strive to be a church full of people that can tell the stories of our rock bottoms without shame, so that we will be a church that truly can share God’s grace.



·         The Pumpkin Patch is in full swing. Sign-up to assist with this important outreach.

·         Pray for our Mission Team in Key West. They are there Tuesday -Saturday this week.

Midweek Message, October 11, 2017

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

It has been a challenging fall season. I have come to lean on this passage because I have surely needed to run and not be weary. From an unsettling staff issue which sidelined the Bilingual, contemporary worship service, to hurricanes and their relief work, to a challenging concern with a church member, to preparing to move my mother to Vero Beach, to the serious health matters with Marcos’ mother, it has been an emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausting season.

This is the sort of season where I am tempted to allow my spiritual disciplines to slip away because I tell myself I am too busy. But, I know from experience that this is the kind of season in which I need to stay even more connected to God and more disciplined with my prayer, devotional reading, and meditation.

I hope and pray that whenever you have a very full, stress-filled season of life that you cling to God so that the Lord can renew your strength…so that you can run and not be weary.




  • Pumpkins arrive! Please come out and help us unload the pumpkins on Friday, the 13th, at 4pm.
  • Keys Mission Trip (October 17-21) needs work gloves, rakes, and heavy pruners. We plan to leave all tools in Key West for others to use. All supplies needed by this Sunday.

Midweek May 3 2017

Last week I was at a workshop and this poem was shared. I have never been much of a poetry kind of guy, but, these workshops have given me a deeper appreciation for the gift of poetry. This is titled “Evidence” by Mary Oliver:

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood. 

How grass can be nourishing in the

mouths of lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever

in allegiance with gravity

while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds

will never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the

scars of damage,

to the comfort of a poem.


Let me keep my distance, always, from those

Who think they have the answers.


Let me keep company always with those who say

“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,

And bow their heads.

Who are those people in your life who say “Look!”, laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads? I hope and pray you have at least a few of them and that you keep their company regularly!




Church News:

  • Imani Milele Children’s Choir from Uganda in concert this Sunday at 3pm.
  • Habitat Build day, Saturday, May 6, 7:30-noon. Call Howard for more info at 772-205-2569.