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.

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 ogcbuilding@gmail.com. Many thanks!

A Sure Cure for Evil Boasting & Temporal Arrogance

On Saturday, as we dressed for our third funeral in as many weeks, Nancy, my wife, said to me, “We’re dressing in back a little too often lately.” Indeed. Three funerals in three weeks even for a couple hovering around sixty years of age seems a bit much. It has me thinking a lot lately of those words in James 4:13-17 where that concept of life as a vapor appears in the writer’s plea for a certain kind of attitude shaping all of life.

Essentially James warns us about the folly of a certain kind of talk – “Come now you who say” (v. 13, emphasis added) – that talks big about the future, immediate and distant. He describes it in terms of saying things like “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit” (v. 13). It’s not the planning James objects to; it’s the arrogance that presumes certain outcomes he has a problem with (v. 16). He probably has Proverbs 27:1 in the back of his mind: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

He objects for three reasons. First, boasting ignores the uncertainty of life (v. 14). Life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. The word for vapor in Greek is atmis from where we get the English atmosphere. What figure could better communicate the uncertainty of life? Nobody has any gilt edge guarantees about what tomorrow may bring. We number our lives in terms of years each birthday celebration, but God tells us in Psalm 90:12 “Lord, teach us to number our days aright” (emphasis added).

Second, boasting denies the sovereignty of God (v. 15). Here James describes how we ought to talk in all our planning, personal or business: “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” Perhaps James has another proverb in view: “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel – that will stand” (19:21). A well-placed, meaningful “If the Lord wills” that prefaces all our dreams for the future communicates intentional dependence upon God for the outcome in anything we endeavor and confidence that His purposes shall prevail.

Third, boasting constitutes the epitome of evil (vv. 16-17). James minces no words here: “All such boasting is evil” (v.16). The word evil is pornea from where we get pornographic. In other words it is obscene in God’s eyes when we make grandiose plans probably born of greed (notice the emphasis on buy and sell and make a profit in v. 13) that take no account of God in the process. That he calls plainly “sin” in v. 14.

Tomorrow I mark the seventh anniversary of my surgery on my tongue and neck and the joy of that many years cancer-free. On April 29 we hope to dedicate a new church building to the glory of God. That God would give me any additional years of service and that He would be pleased to let us have decades of prosperous ministry to come in our facility at 872 Maitland Avenue, and everything else we presume upon Him for the future, must come with the qualifier if the Lord wills, so that we might avoid evil boasting and temporal arrogance, sins that greatly offend Him.

Property Clean Up Work Party This Saturday

I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.

The good news is they are getting ready to landscape our property at 872 Maitland Avenue.

The bad news is they need us to clean up the site before they can do it. We have to clear trash, rocks, foliage, and miscellaneous debris as part of prepping the place for overall beautification.

So, as you may have heard our faithful and fearless building committee chairman announce on Sunday, we have scheduled a volunteer work party for this Saturday, March 10, at 8:30 AM on the site.

We need as many hands on deck as possible. Also, please bring whatever you may have in the way of appropriate tools, e.g., rakes, clippers, loppers, shovels, wheel barrows, etc., in short, anything you think might help us get the job done in an effective way.

Some form of a snack or lunch will be provided as we move toward the lunch hour, but please bring your own beverage supply for the duration.

This will mean a delay in resuming our Oxford Club for Men meetings this Saturday, as we don’t want the priorities to conflict.

If you have any questions about the task at hand, contact Ross Hudson at rossdhudson@gmail.com.

OGC Goes Graffiti

Yes. That’s right. Tomorrow night in a special service on the property we will encourage sanctified graffiti as the main event. This is a one-time only offer, folks. After we open the building, any graffiti writers will suffer the full consequence of the law. So make good on the chance while you can.

After we sing a couple of tunes and hear a brief devotional from 1 Timothy 3:13-16, we will hit the steel girders all over the building with Sharpie pens to scribble away ’till our hearts’ content. All you need to know to get in on the act are some Bible verses that you want to record that express your hopes and dreams for OGC for years into the future. Eventually the steel will disappear behind finish walls, but we will forever remember that we took an evening for a pre-dedication of our facility with the word of God in mind.

After we get done, we will gather together again and have a time of sharing about the verses we wrote and why we chose them. Children are encouraged to participate too!

Please bring a folding chair. Sharpies will be provided for those who need them.

Following the service, members of the building committee will conduct tours of the various sections of the building so we may further visualize what God will give to us come 2012.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow evening at 6 PM!

The Insignificance of the External

Last Sunday we kicked off yet another edition of Discover OGC, our newcomer orientation series.

Per usual I started by presenting a brief apologetic for why church membership is biblical. I took the group to 1 Peter 2:4-5.

[4] As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, [5] you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Peter uses the word picture of a temple, borrowing from Old Testament imagery of the Jews’ place for worshiping God, to describe the nature of the church. God is building a spiritual temple out of living stones. This describes the true nature of the church, not the sticks and bricks of a literal building.

This imagery remains a pertinent reminder as we draw now one month closer, Lord willing, to the opening of our facility on Maitland Avenue. Someone recently sent me this quote by J. C. Ryle that expresses the truth well:

Let it never be forgotten that the material part of a Christian Church is by far the least important part of it. The fairest combinations of marble, stone, wood and painted glass, are worthless in God’s sight, unless there is truth in the pulpit and grace in the congregation. The dens and caves in which the early Christians used to meet, were probably far more beautiful in the eyes of Christ than the noblest cathedral that was ever reared by man. The temple in which the Lord Jesus delights most, is a broken and contrite heart, renewed by the Holy Spirit.

Well said. May we not forget it even as we look forward to the fairest combination of materials we can assemble in a building to house our assembly of living stones.

Soup, Soil, & Super Sunday

If you think I’m referring to the big game tomorrow night, think again.

In my mind the significance of Super Bowl XLV pales in comparison to the day before us at Orlando Grace tomorrow.

In the first place, we get to practice Titus 3:14 – And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

Hunger, particularly in these tough economic times, is always an urgent need. Every year on Super Bowl Sunday, the Christian Service Center of Orlando petitions the churches of this city to collect non-perishable food items to help restock their food pantry for feeding the hungry. Have you pulled your items from the shelf yet? The deacons will have a designated spot in the entry way tomorrow for you to leave your offering. Let us do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8) as Evan reminded us so well in last week’s message.

In the second place, we get to break ground for our facility (pray for good weather)! At 3 PM tomorrow afternoon we will participate in a service of worship on our property for giving the construction project of our church over to God. After the turning of the soil, those who call OGC their church home will bring soil from their own households to put in the hole symbolic of each one’s investment in this kingdom enterprise. Have you dug up your bit of ground yet? That’s ours in the baggie on the right.

As some of us put the finishing touches on prepping the property this morning for the ceremony, we mentioned numerous times our growing sense of excitement at the historic day and process before us. We will really get to do this, if God continues to give us favor!

Will you join with me this evening and throughout the day tomorrow that God will be glorified in all we say and do and that our joy will grow as we embrace the challenge He has put before us? Watch with me tomorrow and throughout the rest of the year as He will do immeasurably beyond all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20-21)!

Groundbreaking Event Announced!

Some building committee updates take on more significance than others.

Last Sunday our chairman, Ross, stood in the pulpit to give his monthly update on our campaign to get into our own facility. He kept things short and sweet. In fact, he mentioned only one thing. In light of our recent congregational meeting and by unanimous agreement of our leadership team, Orlando Grace will move ahead with the construction of our building at 872 Maitland Avenue.

Normally I would delegate the task of changing the lettering on our sign at the property, but not this time. I can hardly explain the sheer delight I took in removing the old version – “Breaking Ground this Fall” – and replacing it with “Breaking Ground, Feb. 6, 4 PM!”

If you haven’t already done so, mark your calendars for this very important date in the life of our congregation. And please pray that we will use this opportunity wisely to reach out the the surrounding community.

OGC, buckle your seat belts and keep your arms and hand inside the vehicle at all times. We’re in for the ride of our lives. Let the adventure begin!