How Gospel Grace Can Shape Our Grand Opening

After four soft-launch Sundays, Grand Opening Sunday at OGC’s new facility has finally arrived. Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to move us in and make us functional in this terrific resource the Lord has entrusted to us.

Here are some thoughts on how the gospel of Jesus who gave His life for us to redeem us from sin and the curse of the law can shape us in continuing to prepare for and engage in this historic day in the life of our church.

First, it can shape the way we reach out to those where we live work and play. I have a colleague in ministry who regularly reminds his folks of the three I’s – Intercede, Invest, and Invite. We will never have another opportunity quite like this one to invite unchurched people to a service. We still have some printed invitations available if you would like to come by the church and grab some. If you can only come after hours, let us know and we will leave some out for under the covered walkway.

Second, it can shape where we park and where we sit on Sunday. In our efforts to reach others, we may well have a full house on Sunday. To make room for the additional cars we have secured the use of the vacant lot to the south of our property. Please consider parking there or in other spots on the grass around the periphery to ensure plenty of spaces for our guests. Also, seating in the auditorium may be tough to come by. We will have the overflow sections (W1 & W5) set up. Please consider starting in one of those rooms to allow space for newcomers. Also, in the auditorium the back tends to fill up first. Consider coming to the front and filling in the rows to leave the outer seats available.

Third, it can shape they way we engage on Sunday. Rarely does anyone like visiting a church and going away without a warm greeting. Let’s look first for those we don’t know to talk with and save our familiar friends for later. May we follow that pattern in the reception hour after the service too. Let’s be ready to ask folks if they have any questions as they move around the building checking things out. Let’s put out the most hospitable welcome mat we can.

Fourth, it can shape the way finish up things on Saturday. Yes, that means another work party. We need to do some key things on the exterior in order to look a bit less like a jungle and more like a cultivated garden. I am concerned for this not only because of this Sunday, but also for the sake of our guests who will attend the Mitchell/Welsh wedding on the 13th. The fun starts at 8:30 AM. Please bring the standard lawn equipment (labeled with your name – rakes, weed pullers, wheel barrows, etc.) This is a great opportunity for anyone who has yet to pitch in on the new property to put in some volunteer hours as part of the body.

Why do I couch these things in terms of the gospel? Because reaching out to others in all these ways, our mission as a church, must stem from the fact that Jesus sought us out and bought us to make us His own. That is the only motivation that will sustain through any ministry effort.

May we all pray fervently that God in His grace will show up on Sunday with power and glory so that some indeed will bow the knee to King Jesus and know the all-satisfying joy of knowing Him!

Grand Opening Invites Have Arrived!

The invites are finally here.

We have 1000, plenty for everyone to give to folks that might have an interest in checking out our new digs this Sunday.

Drop by during regular business hours and pick up as many as you need. If you can come by after work and therefore need us to leave some on the porch for you, just let us know and we will be happy to do that for you.

I am planning on preaching a message from 1 Tim. 3:14-16 entitled Why Church? A Case for Christianity in our Many Gods  Age.

Please pray for the Spirit of God to work in the hearts of many.

Isn't "Work Party" an Oxymoron?

It most certainly is, but we’re having one anyway tomorrow morning on the OGC property from 8:30 Am to Noon.

Why another work party so soon? Didn’t we just do this last Saturday and a week ago Thursday?

Yes, indeed, we did. And we needed those efforts for sure.

But now we need another one of these shindigs tomorrow because the CO is now no longer a no-show. We got that elusive piece of paper earlier this afternoon. Personally, I think bagging a bull elk in the Idaho wilds takes less effort and happens more easily than getting one of these elusive pieces of paper.

For us to do our soft-soft launch Sunday at 10:45 AM, we still have a bunch of things to do. As I walked through the building with Greg and Chris on Thursday afternoon, we made a list. Here are some of the things we need to take care of that I can remember:

  • Storm debris and trash needs to be picked up around the property.
  • Weeds need to be pulled.
  • Mulch needs to be spread.
  • Plastic covers need to be removed from the entryway lights. This will take a 14 foot or so huge step ladder to get this done. Anybody have one or know somebody that does?
  • Sanctuary seating needs to be set up according to code.
  • Bathrooms needs to be cleaned.
  • Tile floors need to be mopped.
  • Soap and paper towel dispenses need to be installed in the rest rooms.
  • Vacuuming needs to be done.
  • Randy might need some help with wires and tech stuff.
  • Stuff needs to be moved from the SDA storeroom over to our property.
  • ???????????????????????????

Think about this. You may run out of opportunities to contribute to the opening of OGC’s brand new facility. We won’t schedule too many more of these. I don’t plan to miss out on the fun tomorrow because I want to be a part of this very special, once-in-a-life-time season in our church’s life. I’ve never done anything like this before. I am tickled pink to have the privilege. And then there is the eternal reward. It gets better and better the more I think about it.

Why sleep in tomorrow when you could take part in the last work party BEFORE OGC opens its doors for the very first time?

Beats me. I’m planning to work party for all its worth.

What Kind of House at 872 Maitland Ave?

The dangers of referring to a church building as “God’s house” notwithstanding (God is housed among His people, a spiritual temple, in the New Covenant age – see 1 Peter 2:4-5, not in any building), the question of what kind of house of God will OGC’s new building be is certainly one worth asking.

Among other things, if I read Mark 11:17 correctly, we must make it a house of prayer. Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem of money-changers objecting to their violation of the space by invoking Isaiah 56:6-7. These I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer. God meant the temple to serve as house of joyful reflection, prayer meditation – a place to meet with Him where worshippers could pour out their hearts before Him – not a place of financial business transactions.

The Jews embraced that priority as evidenced in Luke 18:10 where the Pharisee and Publican both stood in the temple engaged in prayer, albeit of very different kinds. Acts 3:1 says the apostles went up to the temple at the hour of prayer. Little wonder then that this notion carried over into New Covenant worship. Acts 2:42 describes the newly birthed church as continuing steadfastly . . . in prayers (note the plural). Paul described the first order of business in the church gathered as supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings on behalf of all people in 1 Tim. 2:1 and added this in v. 8: I desire then that the men in every place pray lifting up holy hands without anger or quarreling.

Given such clear biblical testimony as to the priority of prayer in “God’s house,” I don’t see any way we can be anything but a house of prayer at 872 Maitland Ave. It would seem to me then that continuing the second Sunday of the month prayer time on the property at 6 PM should continue. I invite anyone with a desire to seek the Lord on behalf of the nations, our city, and our church, to join me in the fellowship hall this Sunday, June 10.

Just in case there is any question, we do anticipate receiving our CO from the city tomorrow. That means we will have a 10-:45 AM worship service only this Sunday at 872 Maitland Avenue and our first official occupancy prayer meeting that evening at 6 PM.

A Strategic Opportunity We Must Not Waste

As published last week, we aim to dedicate our new facility on July 29 at 6 PM in the evening. The occasion for dedicating a building to the glory of God provides an ideal opportunity for a rededicating of the people of God to their covenant commitments to Him and one another.

I take my cue for that notion from places like Nehemiah 9 and 10 where the people of Israel rededicated themselves to Yahweh upon completing the rebuilding of the walls surrounding Jerusalem. In the spirit of just such a renewal, our leadership has crafted a written covenant for the membership of OGC to sign as those who have helped build the facility and will worship and serve within it for years to come. The covenant and the various names will be framed and displayed in the entry way of the building as a testimony to God and His faithfulness through His people for this endeavor.

Here is how the covenant reads:

On this July 29, 2012 for the occasion of dedicating to the glory of God our church’s first facility constructed for worship and ministry, We, the members of Orlando Grace Church, bound together by gospel love in covenant membership and having undertaken in recent years to rebuild the “walls” and repair the “gates” of our beloved fellowship, in order to gladly and solemnly renew this firm covenant in writing, do hereby reflect the following commitments with God’s help as fully-devoted followers of our Lord Jesus:

  • We will relentlessly pursue our joy in God by abiding in Christ through the practice of the means of grace that are the spiritual disciplines (John 15:1-11).
  • We will diligently manifest our godliness of character by obeying God’s word through the power of His Spirit (2 Peter 1:5-11).
  • We will consistently fulfill our roles in society by embracing God’s design for functioning in each of the ordained spheres – home, church, and state (Colossians 1:18-21; 1 Peter 5:5; Romans 13:1).
  • We will lovingly share our faith with unbelievers by engaging them through a wise combination of gracious words and merciful works (Colossians 4:5-6).
  • We will strategically do our part in global missions by maximizing our investment through praying, sending, and/or going (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • We will zealously accomplish our ministries to others by using our spiritual gift(s) in the domain(s) of God’s calling (1 Peter 4:10-11).
  • We will faithfully manage our resources from God by utilizing them according to the principles of biblical stewardship (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
  • We will fervently demonstrate our love for believers by engaging in fellowship through keeping the covenants of church membership (Romans 12:9-13).

Signed believing only in the hope of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit for the strength and ability to do any and all of the above,

May I ask you to begin to pray now if the Lord would have you embrace this gesture during this strategic season and that you might be among those who will sign the document? More information will come as to how and when we will facilitate this, but we wanted to plant the seeds for this as soon as we knew when we would finally take ownership of our facility.

This is a terrific opportunity to examine our hearts and lives and rededicate ourselves to God’s glorious purposes as part of OGC!

Third Time’s A Charm?

With some trepidation given the history, but given collective assurances that we should be good to go with a CO any day now, the elders agreed on Monday night to embrace this transition schedule for moving into our new building, Lord willing. FYI, we came a significant step closer at the end of this week. We got final approval on the building. Now all we need is the same for the site and the CO will be ours. Only four dead trees needing replacing stand between us and that important document.

May 27 – Last Sunday at the SDA

June 3 – 1st Sunday at 872 Maitland Ave – Soft, Soft Launch – 10:45 AM service only (everyone in the sanctuary for celebration praise, thanksgiving and sharing for what God has done)

June 10 – 2nd Sunday in our new home – Soft Launch #1 – both equipping & worship hours

June 17 – 3rd Sunday in our new home – Soft Launch #2

June 24 – 4th Sunday in our new home – Soft Launch #3

July 1 – 5th Sunday in our new home – Soft Launch #4 (weekend for moving the church office)

Why a soft launch? Because we want to work the kinks out and make sure we have all our ducks in a row before we go overtly public. We certainly will have newcomers in the month of June and we need to greet warmly all who come through our doors, but we will frame all those Sundays for what they will be – working together to get things running on all cylinders.

July 8 – Grand Opening Service – major outreach emphasis for the gospel

July 15 – Normal equipping hour & service operation (Mitchell/Welsh wedding weekend)

July 22 – Normal equipping hour & service operation

July 29 – AM – Normal equipping hour & service operation

July 29 – PM – New Facility Dedication Service!

One further note: we are looking for input from everybody for what we need to do to operate with excellence in the new facility. If you see something we are missing, or think we need to consider in the way of equipment to acquire or materials to make available or a process to have in place, anything at all that would make OGC’s opening top shelf, then we want to hear from you! We’ve established a special email address for you to send your suggestions. I can’t guarantee we will implement everything we get, but we want as much input as possible. Please email you comments to Many thanks!

To CO or Not to CO?

That is indeed the question.

As for this latest week in the saga of when in the world will OGC get into its new building, the answer is, I am sorry to say it, not to CO.

However, we are making progress. Next week may bring an entirely different response.

New handrails got installed today. We have requested a final building inspection. It may happen tomorrow or Monday. At this point, that remains undetermined.

As for the site, that work in regrading the approach should get finished over the weekend. A surveyor may or may not have to re-shoot the elevations which could lengthen the process of approval somewhat but not beyond next week.

The civil engineer needs to get what they call record drawings to the city from which they make something called Mylars. That might take a week. All depends.

All of that to say that we have a chance of having everything done by next Wednesday or so and then it depends on the city to answer the question of questions – to CO or not to CO?

So here is the deal. We definitely won’t be in the new building this Sunday, May 20. I plan to recommend to the board on Monday night in our leadership team meeting that we hold off on our first “soft opening” until June 3, just to be safe. Actually I have an ulterior motive in that suggestion. Nancy and I will be out of the country from the 27th to the 31st for our son’s wedding. Those plans have been on the books for months. I never thought they would conflict with the opening day of our facility. Just can’t imagine missing the first Sunday we get to take possession so I will ask for grace to wait until we get back.

So now you know what I know. I choose to believe that God has been working behind the scenes all along for His glory and our good in these delays. The timing will prove perfect as far as He is concerned. How could I conclude anything otherwise after what I preached last Sunday?

All I know is that we are in for a splendid time in our new digs. I can hardly wait. Can’t thank God enough for the privilege of getting to do this on our watch.

C O Wherefore Art Thou?

I am really looking forward to our church getting one of these from the City of Altamonte at some point in the near future.

Our fearless building committee chairman gave me the skinny today about where things stand after almost another full week of trying to dot every “I'” and cross every “T” on our site to the pleasure and approval of our government inspectors.

The good news is that we are really close to finishing the building proper. We expect to have the handrails go in tomorrow. Hopefully first thing next week we will schedule another inspection on the facility and we pass. If and when that happens, then Ross plans to go to the city for that conversation with the powers that be that he talked about last Sunday. He will petition them for a provisional C O that would allow us to occupy our building while we finish up items on our site.

Speaking of the site, the man holes have been adjusted. They need to be surveyed and inspected. We thought that was all we needed to do in the way of finishing up outside.

However, yesterday the Seminole County inspector came back for another pass on the property and brought some friends with him. The list suddenly got longer. Apparently we have some sidewalk to tear up and re-position. And a portion of our entry drive needs to get taken out and regraded and paved again. How long will that take, you ask? Good question, but if we don’t get that provisional C O we are likely looking at the end of the month before we finally get into our new facility.

Sigh. Double sigh. Triple sigh.

How many cliches can I quote you. It is what it is. Good things come to those who wait. Murphy’s law. If we didn’t have bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck at all. That’s probably not the best thing for somebody with my theology to say.

Think I would rather stick with the Scripture in Proverbs 21:1.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

Just substitute inspector for king and you will get the picture.

As for me and my house, we will wait upon the Lord and renew our strength (Isa. 40:31).

How about yours?

Man-O-Manhole Cover!

Strange way to intro this blog post, yes? It will make sense quite quickly, I’m afraid.

Wednesday saw us undergo a number of inspections on our property. We faired pretty well on the inside. We passed some items; others need a little more fixing. But overall things look good for the CO from that vantage point.

I wish I could say we got the same high grades on the outside. Turns out we have a problem with not just one manhole cover (we had some inkling about that already). Apparently we have multiple manhole cover issues, two to be exact. Something’s not quite right. Don’t ask me. I don’t even want to know. Smarter folks than I have got it covered (pun intended).

So what’s the bottom line? This I do understand. It will take seven to ten construction days to fix the problem. Best case scenario now for our first soft opening looks like May 20. Wish I had better news for us, but I simply don’t. All I can tell you is that we are doing all that we can and working every angle possible to get closure on this deal. Please pray for wisdom to that end. And of course, please continue to pray for favor with the city.

I thought about concluding by saying something spiritual about the virtue of patience from texts like Romans 2:6-7 and James 4:7-11. But I have to be honest. I’m not feeling particularly spiritual at this moment. Think I’ll go look for a working manhole cover and crawl inside for a pastoral pity party.

Just kidding . . . I think.

Why Now Was the Time to Build

As we anxiously await the granting of a CO from the city so that we may occupy our new building (sorry, no green light as of this writing), it occurred to me this morning why, at least in part, in our twenty year history as a church, now was the time to get this project accomplished.

The insight came in the course of my through-the-Bible-in-a-year reading this morning from 1 Kings 5:1-6. Solomon has assumed the throne in the place of his father, David. He desired to build a temple for worship, a dream his father never got to realize. So in this chapter he writes Hiram, king of Tyre, with whom David enjoyed a close relationship, to request materials for the project. Here’s how he explained the circumstances that gave him the go ahead where his father experienced only disappointment:

Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram always loved David. And Solomon sent word to Hiram, “You know that David my father could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side. There is neither adversary nor misfortune. And so I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD said to David my father, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.’ Now therefore command that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. And my servants will join your servants, and I will pay you for your servants such wages as you set, for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians (emphasis added).”
I found myself very grateful for a similar sentiment with respect to the last few years at OGC. God has given us rest. We have enjoyed peace. There has been neither adversary or misfortune, at least in terms of ministry-arresting plans for the advancement of the gospel through our work. Lord knows, we have had our share of that in the past. That kind of thing frustrated our building plans before. But God has blessed us as of late and for some time now so that we could actually get to the point of planning, building, and now soon occupying our own facility for executing the mission God has given us.
We have seized the opportunity afforded by fair winds and sought to make the most of it. Matthew Henry, the Puritan commentator would congratulate us to this end:
Satan does all he can to hinder temple work (1 Th. 2:18; Zec. 3:1), but when he is bound (Rev. 20:2) we should be busy. When there is no evil occurrent, then let us be vigorous and zealous in that which is good and get it forward. When the churches have rest let them be edified, Acts 9:31. Days of peace and prosperity present us with a fair gale, which we must account for if we improve not.
Let us not forget to give God much thanks for such days as these while we revel in the excitement and satisfaction of finally taking possession of our own church home.
As long as He gives us peace, let us give ourselves to improvement that results in great reward at the Last Day. God help us to sail on with the help of every fair gale.