Christ by the Sea Messages

Walk through the Bible with Pastor Cliff Melvin.


Midweek Message, April 27, 2016

I’ve decided to spend time these next few months sharing with you reflections on some of my favorite Bible passages – and I invite you to share with me some of your own (both the verses and your reflections).  It’s amazing, isn’t it, how certain verses in the Bible speak so powerfully, touch us so deeply, and sustain us so tenaciously?  

For many years, one of my favorite verses has been Isaiah 40:31(“But those who hope in The Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”), so this week, let’s look first at its context, back to v. 29:“God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isa. 40:29).  Just now writing this verse I’ve experienced what is so remarkable about the Scripture:  I’ve just discovered, or, better said, God has just revealed to me, a totally new insight and connection.  For the first time I see a connection with the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28.  You remember them, don’t you:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” God/Jesus (one and same) – giving us strength in our weariness.  Are you ever weary?  Receive his strength, come to Him.
Church “Spring Cleaning Day”, April 30, 8:30am-noon
Fellowship Golf Tourney and Cookout, May 14 at Bent Pine Country Club

Midweek Message, April 20, 2016

Once again, one of my favorite theologians, Henri Nouwen, has a powerful thought I want to share with you on this, my
60th birthday: Some of us tend to do away with things that are slightly damaged. Instead of repairing them we say: “Well, I don’t have time to fix it, I might as well throw it in the garbage can and buy a new one.” Often we also treat people this way. We say: “Well, he has a problem with drinking; well, she is quite depressed; well, they have mismanaged their business…we’d better not take the risk of working with them.” When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds. We all are bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not. The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak.

I am thankful for the reminder that all of us are bruised reeds AND that all of us, even in our bruised and sometimes battered state, have tremendous gifts to share for building our community of faith.

Have a blessed week!



CBTS Golf Tourney, Bent Pine CC, May 14, 1:30pm 
Register NOW for Vacation Bible School, July 11-15

Midweek Message, April 13, 2016

Jesus said, “Feed My Sheep.”  (John 21: 15, 16, 17).

Three times Jesus says this to Peter.  “Do you love me?  Then feed my sheep.”

This will mean different things for each of us.  For some, it will mean feeding the homeless at The Source.  For others, it will mean creating jobs at their place of business so families can thrive.  For others, it will mean serving as a mentor.  One of you told me about being a mentor up north for a girl who was failing 7th grade.  After two years of sharing a lunch weekly and being present, she got a perfect score on her PSAT’s!!!  

Feed my sheep – it’s Jesus’ command to you and to me.  What will it mean for you today?

P.S. I will have a special gift from Israel for every person in worship this Sunday.



  • This Saturday the Habitat house we have been building will be dedicated at 10am.
  • Endowment Workshop on investments, April 19. Call for reservations.
  • Church-wide Spring Cleaning Day, April 30, 8:30-noon

Midweek Message, April 6, 2016

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore.  It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn (John 21: 11).

 After the resurrection, Jesus goes to see his disciples who have returned to the Galilee to fish again. He surprises the disciples by again telling them where to catch fish. The specificity of the number is intriguing, isn’t it? 153 fish. I take this story to convey, in part, both Jesus’ and John’s concern for the church.  The net represents the church and the 153 represents the “people” that the disciples have “caught,” – it represents a huge number, and even though huge, the net/church was not torn.
 We at Christ By The Sea have cast a wide net, that includes people from very differing opinions about a lot of things.  And “the net was not torn”!!  There is something about the love of Christ that binds us together that is stronger than the opinions that might divide us, as they seem to be dividing the country.  That’s the Church at its best – living and growing in a spirit of unity – with each person of great importance, each person counted.
 Peace, my friends,


  • Blood Drive: April 10, 8am—12:30pm
  • Costa Rica Mission Trip: July 16-23, LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER is April 10.
  • Scholarships for full and PT students available. Requirements and application online at

Midweek Message, March 30, 2016

We are not sure what the disciples did on the Monday after Easter. Perhaps they stayed together celebrating the news of the resurrection, while keeping a low profile in case soldiers or other religious leaders came looking for them. We can’t be certain of anything, except we know that their lives were never the same. The men who had been so timid and fearful were now brave and courageous. Easter made all the difference for their rest of their lives.

Let it be the same for you! Do not allow the time after Easter to take away the encouragement, optimism and hope you felt and knew on Easter Sunday. The tomb was empty and no matter what unpleasantness you may face in the future, just go back in your mind to that empty tomb. There is real power, hope, and confidence there through Jesus Christ.


Church Conference, March 31 at 7pm, Ratcliff Hall
Concert Series, Two Classical guitars and a piano, April 3, 3:00pm

Midweek Message, March 23, 2016

Dr. Henri Nouwen shares these words:

Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say “Yes” or “No”. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: he had to wait for their response. What would they do? Betray him or follow him? In a way, his agony is not simply the agony of approaching death. It is also the agony of being out of control and of having to wait. It is the agony of a God who depends on us to decide how to live out the divine presence among us. It is the agony of the God who, in a very mysterious way, allows us to decide how God will be God. Here we glimpse the mystery of God’s incarnation. God became human not only to act among us but also to be the recipient of our responses.. . . And that is the mystery of Jesus’ love. Jesus in his passion is the one who waits for our response. Precisely in that waiting, the intensity of God’s love is revealed to us. 

 Church News

  • Funeral for Richard Moulton will be Friday at 11:00am at CBTS
  • Good Friday worship, 7:00pm
  • Easter Cantata, Saturday at 4:30 and 7:00pm
  • Easter worship at 8:30, 9:40, 11:00am

Midweek Message, March 16, 2016

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves.” – PSALM 145:18-19
Many years ago when I was a teenager I was on vacation with my family at Daytona Beach. One afternoon a storm blew in quickly while I was still wading in the ocean. As I tried to quickly fight the waves to get out of the water, a big wave knocked me over. I was in shallow enough water that I knew I wasn’t in serious danger, but I was a little disoriented, having not seen the monster wave approaching me. In those brief moments I was struck by how calm it was just beneath the surface. Above the water, the wind was howling, enormous, angry waves and tides pulling me back and forth. Yet, for a moment, I found it almost peaceful just beneath the water’s surface. The angry tide turned to a gentle rocking, the howling wind turned to a soft whisper. I could float in equilibrium, gently massaged by the water all around me. How could there be such a drastic difference between the storm above and water below?

 It can sometimes be hard to imagine that God’s presence is there in times of terrible tragedy and grief. How could God be there amidst the pain and darkness? Yet the Psalmist tells us that God is near and God hears our cries. I think of it as the storm on the ocean that I was caught in. When we are in our world, our senses hear only the howling wind and angry waves. God invites us to immerse ourselves in prayer, moving from our troubled world to the comfort of the Spirit just beneath the surface. In this life we are not equipped to stay in the spiritual world forever, and we must breathe the air of our world. But when we emerge from prayer we can be renewed and comforted knowing that the safety of God’s spirit is right there with us, just beneath the surface.

 PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us to know our strength lies in you. AMEN.


  • Good Friday worship at 7:00pm
  • Easter Cantata, March 26, 4:30 and 7:00pm
  • Easter Sunday worship, 8:30, 9:40, 11:00am
  • A Church Conference is scheduled for March 31 at 7:00pm to vote on the parsonage renovation plan.

Midweek Message, March 9, 2016

All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. I Corinthians 16:20

Greetings from our brothers and sisters in Las Parras, Cuba! This past week this passage from I Corinthians was ringing in my mind every day as Marjorie Burnett and I were greeted with a holy kiss everywhere we went in the Christian community of Cuba. The church members at La Roca de Salvation asked me to tell you hello and how grateful they are for the most generous gift and our continued relationship.

The funds for the purchase of a new parsonage for our sister church were put in the bank in Cuba. They hope to complete the purchase by the end of April. Marjorie and I walked through the “new” parsonage. It is a MUCH nicer house with much more room. The best thing is that it is off the main corner of town and away from the bar, bus station, and truck stop! The constant noise at the “old” parsonage is unbelievable. Thank-you for making this a reality for our brothers and sisters in Cuba!

Don’t forget that this is “Match Sunday”. We have the opportunity to have our special gifts matched dollar for dollar this week. Just use one of the Match Sunday envelopes for your gift. This is how we have balanced our budget the past few years and we need all the help we can get this year!

Good Friday worship: March 25, 7:00pm
Easter Cantata: March 26, 4:30pm and 7:00pm
Easter Sunday worship: March 27, 8:30, 9:40, and 11:00am

Midweek Message, March 2, 2016

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart… Joel 2:12
My long-time mentor, Henri Nouwen, shares these words:
In my own life I well know how hard it is for me to trust that I am loved, and to trust that the intimacy I most crave is there for me. I most often live as if I have to earn love, do something noteworthy, and then perhaps I might get something in return.
This attitude touches the whole question of what is called in the spiritual life, the “first love.” Do I really believe that I am loved first, independent of what I do or what I accomplish? This is an important question because as long as I think that what I most need I have to earn, deserve, and collect by hard work, I will never get what I most need and desire, which is a love that cannot be earned, but that is freely given. 
Thus, my return (to the “first love”) is my willingness to renounce such thoughts and to choose to live more and more from my true identity as a cherished child of God.
May we live as fully as possible in the deep and profound knowledge that we are a cherished child of God. Amen.
1.     Good Friday worship will be at 7:00 pm
2.     Easter Cantata, March 26 at 4:30 and 7:00 pm
3.     Easter Worship will be at 8:30, 9:40, and 11:00 am
4.     Journeys of Paul Cruise, September 20, 2016, Italy Greece, Turkey. See Cliff for more information.

Midweek Message, February 24, 2016


SCRIPTURE: “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him though he is not far from each one of us.” – ACTS 17:27 

My friend, Jim Cook, in Gainesville, shared this poem:
There are times when I almost can’t breathe Because life is so intoxicating… That’s when I see Jesus. 
Sometimes, as when words go together so beautifully In poetry, and I catch a whisper… That’s when I hear Jesus. 
When a tear escapes my eyes Because it can’t be contained in the sadness… I think I can almost feel Jesus.
Hearing beautiful music makes me know Of course His birth was accompanied by a heavenly choir… How else could Jesus appear? 
When a story is well-told I remember the greatest story…And the part that talks bout Jesus. 
As the past meets the present In the cloud of witnesses… I’m aware of Jesus then and now. 
When there is no explaining I know much is said without words…As with His final breath. 
I rest in comfort knowing each moment can surprise Revealing that life offers more… Jesus called it abundant. 
He showed it, so we can live it Through darkness and light… As we follow His way. 
PRAYER: Dear God, We are grateful for the words of scripture enduring even to our day. AMEN.
CHURCH NEWS: Costa Rica Mission Trip – July 16-23- last call to register. Forms available on the Serve bulletin board.

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.