Souper Bowl Sunday

No, that’s not a typo.

I meant the play on words with “souper.”

As you know this Sunday brings us to Super Bowl XLVI between the Patriots and Giants. Many plan to watch and enjoy with family and friends. The whole deal has turned into something of a national holiday.

For the last several years at OGC we have cooperated with the Christian Service Center of Orlando in conducting a canned food, non-perishable item food drive to help stock their pantry for feeding the hungry in Orange County.

We want to continue that tradition this year but with a twist.

Given the fact that our friends at the SDA have started this year operating a soup kitchen for feeding the hungry every Sunday afternoon, we have decided to donate this year’s offerings from our church to them. We want to say thank you for their hospitality in renting to us over the years. Furthermore we feel this represents a legitimate way for us to partner with them in mercy ministry in our very own neighborhood.

All that to say, as I announced yesterday, please bring to church with you this Sunday, February 5, your gift of such items for the cause. But here’s the thing! Please don’t bring any meat products. The Adventists, in line with their convictions, will only accept vegetarian, non-meat items. The list they gave us includes things like beans, rice, pastas, cereal, oil, pancake mix, etc. You get the idea.

We will designate a spot at the SDA this Sunday for you to put your items as you bring them with you. Just look for the sign.

And thanks for being a church that puts Titus 3:14 into practice!

Japan Disaster Relief Update

Back on Good Friday of this year, in a joint communion service with our friends at Faith Baptist Church, we collected an offering for the relief work in Japan following the devastating tsunami that ravaged the northern part of that country in March.

We put in some significant due diligence to determine what agency or individual on the ground could ensure 100% of our gifts going toward relief and relief alone.

Through a previous member at OGC, God led us to Cal Cummings, a missionary with the OPC for many years working not far from the epicenter of the quake.

At our last leadership team meeting I shared a thank you letter from Cal’s home church in Philadelphia. Our elders exhorted me to publish its contents for our assembly’s encouragement, something I am only to happy to do in JapanReliefLetter070711.

Thanks be to God for the generosity of the people of both churches and the work of Cal and others in bringing the gospel to bear on the peoples of Japan!

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)!

Two Complimentary Registrations

Through my connections with the Florida Chapter of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, I have access to two complimentary registrations for this weekend’s conference on adoption in Lake Mary.

For a detailed look at the conference click on here.

The description on the site is as follows:

We will hear gifted men exposit the Scriptures concerning how you, your family, and your local church, can embrace this life-changing truth in very practical ways. The speakers will trace the love of God to the adoption of His children. They will also bring out how that love should motivate us to care for the needs of children that do not have loving parents or a family.  These teachings on the comfort and hope of adoption will warm your heart and deepen your understanding of what it means to be a part of God’s forever family. Your appreciation for the Christian family and the church will grow as you discover how these divine institutions meet very real needs in practical ways.

Registration included entry, meals, and a concert by Andrew Peterson on Friday night!

If you would like to know the coupon code to use for registration, email me at and I will be happy to share it with you, first come/first served.

5000 psi & GIL

“It’s never been cleaned before,” Darlene said.

“I’ve never seen more dirt on a driveway,” Randy said.

“Sorry we took so long to get to it,” I said.

Almost a year ago to the day, the OGC faithful descended on my widow neighbor’s home for a massive painting project. We sought to put James 1:27 into action. We worked to build bridges into our local community for the gospel. I promised we would come back to do the driveway but failed to do so until this morning.

I got by with a little help, who am I kidding, a lot of help, from my friends, deacon Randy and his boy, Andre. Good thing too. Together our pressure washers combined for 5000 psi and we needed every bit of it to tackle the job.

“If you want, you can eat dinner off the concrete tonight,” I beamed.

My neighbor smiled. Her daughter thanked us profusely. The neighbors took notice. I ask for prayer every week for open doors for the gospel in La Floresta. In our postmodern world the way you get them is through acts of love and ministries of mercy.

And so tomorrow we dive into a four month study called Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything during the 9:30 adult equipping hour (including middle and high school students). We want to understand more about how the gospel of Jesus can captivate our hearts, shape our community as a church, and overflow in transforming power into our world. This curriculum from Tim Keller and the folks at Redeemer Pres aims to do just that.

Here’s the summary description for tomorrow’s first session from the GIL website:

In Session 1 we learn that we are not just to seek prosperity and peace in the city where we live, but we are to seek prosperity and peace for the city, as well. We see the reasons that cities were created, how they have fallen under sin, and how we can be a part of redeeming them—how we are a part of God’s story to redeem and restore the whole world for his glory.

From 9:30 to 9:45 we will meet in elder groups to share about our lives and pray for each other. From 9:45-10:00 we will study the Scripture passage of the day together. At 10:00 we will view a ten minute video presentation by Tim Keller, and from 10:10 to 10:30 we will move back into elder groups for discussion about the video. Newcomers are welcome to join any of the groups they like.

Please pray with me and our leadership team that God uses this equipping emphasis in a powerful way. May He make us more a church on mission in the city that we have ever been before!

Ministries of Mercy – Free Audio Book

Christian Audio is giving away this month a free download of Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road.

I have read this book. It is an important contribution to the conversation about the need for believers to show mercy to the poor and compassion to the needy.

If you need motivation for showing the gospel through deeds of mercy and want help in building bridges into the lives of unbelievers, this will help.

Don’t forget to use the coupon code “AUG2010″ when checking out.

Also, for the month of August, you can get Ministries of Mercy for half price ($6.49) at Westminster Bookstore, if you prefer reading your books.

Take advantage of either deal while you can.

Love Offering for Haiti Tomorrow

The deacons have proposed that in addition to the other items for the relief effort that we will bring to church tomorrow that we will also have a special love offering toward the cause. This offering will be above and beyond our regular general fund offering. The monies will likely be channeled through Harvest Time Ministries, although we have yet to confer as leadership as to the best vehicle for these purposes.

Please prayerfully consider what God would have you give toward this massive need, if you haven’t already done so through some other avenue.

What's a Reformed Church Like Ours Doing Washing Cars this Saturday?

Good question. Let me explain.

Some folks at lunch today asked me how I was doing. As usual, my response included my assessment of the state of affairs in my church. I told them how excited I was about the rewording of our mission/vision/values verbiage to make things more memorable and catalytic to our fellowship. So I laid the BRIDE acrostic on them and quickly rattled off what each of those letters stands for in the way we want to accomplish our mission.

Lately we’ve been making a big deal out of the “B” for “Bridge Building.”  That’s our metaphor for crossing over into the community with acts of mercy and kindness a la the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. The intent is to let our light shine via good works in such a way that the unbelieving world will see our good works and so glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

Ray Lau in our church came up with the brilliant idea of hosting a free car wash at our office this Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 AM to 1 PM. Last Saturday a bunch of us canvased homes around our property giving out fliers advertising the event and inviting people to come. We are praying that the Lord will work to bring a number of our neighbors to our door step so we might serve them in love and build bridges into their lives for the gospel.

KindnessSome years ago,  Cincinnati pastor Steve Sjogren wrote a book called Conspiracy of Kindness, (Servant Publications, 1993, 236 pages). In it he tells a boatload of stories about how his church penetrated their geographical area with all sorts of creative servant evangelism projects. Inevitably that led to sharing the gospel with people time and time again.

He writes:

In a society where other forms of sharing the gospel often meet with a great deal of resistance–one which feels it’s heard too much “God-talk” and not seen enough “God-activity”–servant evangelism seems to be a fruitful way for Christians to share God’s love with their community. Our experience in Cincinnati has shown us that evangelism must contain the right words, but that those words must follow the demonstration of the love of God (p. 22).

Now I don’t think that is always true. Nor does the author. He allows for the utility of other approaches to sharing the gospel. God uses all kinds of things to reach all kinds of people.

But he does have a point. That was reinforced for me last Saturday when another little ditty from the Ticked Off section of the paper caught my eye. I have to stop reading that stuff! Someone vented their displeasure at the number of people knocking on his door at all hours of the day on Saturdays to tell him about  God.

In our day of postmodern skepticism in a post-Christian world, it seems to me that it is more important than ever to work at building relationships with nonbelievers and showing them the love of God in acts of kindness on the way to telling them the gospel of Christ that can save their souls.

That’s why our Reformed church is venturing out this Saturday to wash cars, for free. We want to build bridges into our community to be a blessing. We want to be the gospel so we can share the gospel.

So far about ten folks have volunteered to participate in all aspects of the outreach. We need about twenty.

What are you doing from 10 to 1 this Saturday? If you can help, let Ray know ASAP. And by all means, pray. Pray that God allows us to build bridges for the gospel by washing cars for His glory and their joy.