Where’s the Power?

July 27th, 2018 by
Living in Florida in the summer and in Orlando in particular (the lightning capital of the world), we know a little something about losing power. Then add in the hurricanes, I am sure you all remember that little gal named Irma. Many of you spent days without power. Sometimes when we look at the church as a whole or at our individual Christian lives, we and the world looking at us might ask, “Where’s the power?” In the lessons this week God wants to remind us that there is no shortage of power with him.

Through Elisha God invites the man from Baal-Shalishah to feed a hundred men with his small tithe of bread and grain when he really brought only enough for Elisha. This came with the promise that there would be some left over. According to the word of the Lord it happened just as Elisha spoke. Our God has the power to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or imagine.

In the Gospel Philip basically says, “Really Lord?” “All we have is five loves and two fish from this little boys lunch.” Jesus thanks his father for them and feeds the multitude. Our God has the power to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or imagine.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks from prison to this church which he loves and who are afraid because of the persecution that has come on Paul, and they see that same persecution coming towards them. Paul in his prayer points them to God’s Spirit who lives within them and reminds them that our God has the power to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or imagine.

Are you in a personal spiritual power outage? Are you skeptical about what God can do with who you are or with what you have to offer him? Are you afraid of what is coming down the pike? Paul in his prayer for the Ephesians identifies three aspects of God’s power that answer the question of, “Where’s the power?” for the follower of Jesus in their personal life and for their witness to the world. Come praise God this Sunday! He has the power to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we ask or imagine!

God bless,

Glenn Starr

Mission in the City

July 26th, 2018 by


If you were at New Covenant last week for any amount of time you noticed the sights, sounds and smells of middle school students – 24 of them to be exact. There were 10 high school and college leaders who were intern staff leading the middle school students. There were countless adults who filled all kinds of roles during the week, from donating equipment, driving a vehicle, being campus security, to contributing meals and desserts, leading a team of middle school students in the field, praying, and so much more. People from at least 8 different church’s made up Mission in the City last week.

Over 20 projects were completed at Meals on Wheels client homes, Indian Trails Middle School, Keeth Elementary School, Carillon Elementary School, Canterbury Retreat Center, Community United Methodist Church, University Baptist Church, Lutheran Haven, and New Covenant Church.

All for one purpose – to catch a glimpse of who God is as students served side by side from different churchs and schools to build God’s Kingdom right in their own backyard!

Here is the story of Mission in the City…

All stories were written down by middle school students after returning from their day’s work projects.

“Today, I was so glad to help Mr. Hans and the church, even though we got rained on and were stuck for a while. My clothes will never be dry again.”

“I saw God bless us today with golf balls, bungee cords, splash cymbals, coconuts, and starfruit. All were found in random places and all were awesome! My least favorite part was the way my stomach felt after the 3rd chicken patty (sandwich).”

 

“The best part of the day was when we sat inside the building type thing and did our devotional.”

 

“What I liked about today was working as a team, talking and laughing.”

 

“I see God in all of us, no matter what we do He is with us and we love Him. I saw God the first day I came to camp and that makes me happy. Thank you to all of the people who helped us.”

 

“I feel like I connected with people way more today.”

 

“I liked how we impacted two ladies with helping clean their yards.“

 

“The funniest part of the day was when I was pushing the wheelbarrow and it fell over. A God moment was the verses we read during the devotional, Luke 7:36-50, Psalm 139.”

 

“I really enjoyed cleaning up the school we went to and seeing how amazing it looked after we put new wood and spreading the mulch and rocks, especially because we got cookies after. Yum!”

“Godly moment was when we talked about Jesus is everywhere.”

 

“Something we did today was learn to gather like a family.”

See more pictures of the week on Mission in the City’s Facebook page! 

For those of you who contributed in any way – THANK YOU. We simply could not have done this work without all of you. I hope that you caught a glimpse of how God worked in, around and through these students last week!

What do you see?

July 13th, 2018 by

The prophet Amos is shown a string in our passage for Sunday. More exactly, a plumb line.

God shows him this instrument used by skilled builders; held above and weighted below.

A simple tool with powerful diagnostic potential.

There is much more to the prophet Amos and the book that collects his ministry-long span of messages and visions. You can see a brief overview of the book here that may help put his message in context.

Overview of Amos

Our readings for Sunday cover both ends of the string. Ephesians chapter 1 exults in the plan of God that began long ago and high above us. Mark 6 recounts the grisly machinations that led to the murder of John the Baptist and Herod’s later reflections of Jesus’ current ministry after John’s death. The sky above and the ground below.

Each of us are most comfortable somewhere along the string, either preferring our faith to be towards the summarized side or the granular specifics.

Amos saw that God’s plan was for Israel (and us) to see that heaven and earth were already linked together. Even Herod recognized (without intention) that Jesus held a similar view. But this doesn’t just lead to recognition, but to repentance. And repentance leads to the other end of the string.

After church on Sunday, join us for CityServe. We will leave the church at 1220 to join others as we share a meal with neighbors in our community who are currently homeless. More details are in our upcoming events email and in the Sunday bulletin.

Pray for Mission in the City this coming week as middle-schoolers gather on our campus for service projects, worship and time together. There is a team of adults and interns who are guiding this week of ministry, but there are still opportunities to help fuel this week of cooperative ministry among churches in our community.

See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle for July 6, 2018

July 6th, 2018 by
The Tenacity of Our Father
One early fall day, while rounding a corner by the football stadium at William & Mary, I heard Marv Levi, the coach, yelling, “Be tenacious men, be tenacious!” When I returned to my dorm, I looked it up. And I have thought since then, that our God is like that, determined, determined to reach his children and he wants us to be as well. And so, in Sunday’s gospel he sends us out to proclaim the Kingdom and to set the captives free.
While thinking and praying of these Thailand soccer players trapped in a cave, I remembered a story told by Scott Hahn in his book, A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture. It reminded me of God’s tenacity — and ours. Will we keep looking for his children?
******
Following an 8.2 earthquake in Armenia, a distressed father remembered what he had said to his son so many times, “No matter what happens, Armand, I’ll always be there.”
He reached the site where the school had been, but saw only a pile of rubble. He just stood there at first, fighting back tears, and then took off, stumbling over debris, toward the east corner where he knew his son’s classroom has been.
With nothing but his bare hands, he started to dig. He was desperately pulling up bricks and pieces of wall plaster, while others stood by watching in forlorn disbelief. He heard someone growl,” Forget it, mister. They’re all dead.”
He looked up, flustered, and replied, “You can grumble, or you can help me lift these bricks.” Only a few pitched in, and most of them gave up once their muscles began to ache. But the man couldn’t stop thinking about his son.
He kept digging and digging – for hours… 12 hours… 18 hours… 24 hours… 36 hours….   Finally, into the 38th hour, he heard a muffled groan from under a piece of wallboard.
He seized the board, pulled it back, and cried,” ARMAND!” From the darkness came a slight shaking voice,” Papa…!”
Armand & his Papa

Other weak voices began calling out, as the young survivors stirred beneath the still uncleared rubble. Gasps and shouts of bewildered relief came from the few onlookers and parents who remained. They found 14 of the 33 students still alive.

When Armand finally emerged, he tried to help dig, until all his surviving classmates were out. Everybody standing there heard him as he turned to his friends and said, “See, I told you my father wouldn’t forget us.”
That’s the kind of faith we need because that’s the kind of Father we have.
Let’s go get them,

Friday Epistle – June 29, 2018

June 29th, 2018 by
How many of you reading this Friday Epistle love interruptions when you are working on a project?
How many of you treasure the times when your best laid plans are torn apart by some situation or problem that just comes out of left field?
You can ask Jana when I get on a project, I am like a dog with a bone. I will skip meals (which says a lot), forget appointments, and work till I drop or the project is complete. I generally don’t like interruptions.
However, the Lord has taught, and continues to teach Jana and me a key principle for ministry: “Ministry is what happens in the interruptions.” In the text from Mark 5:21-43, Jesus, in His ministry to Jairus and his family ,and to the woman with the issue of blood, gives us three clear contexts to consider where ministry happens in the interruptions.

I believe the text defines ministry for us, as it reveals the healing and saving power of Christ in the world. In this passage, Mark records for us a session right out of Jesus’ school for effective ministry. This fits really well with our new Sunday school series which is titled: Good news for the neighborhood part 2. I am excited for this Sunday morning and for the opportunity it affords to learn some practical ways to minister to our neighbors and those we come in contact with in our daily lives.
For such a time as this,
Glenn

Friday Epistle – June 22, 2018

June 22nd, 2018 by
I remember a conversation between my 
grandmother and daddy one day when I was very small. I was sitting in the front seat of the car, actually in-between their conversation. We were bogged down in traffic and the cars around us had stopped on either side and my grandmother remarked to him, “Every one of these cars have people in them and they have things to do and plans they’ve made and worries on their mind.”
At that time, at that age, this had to be one of the most remarkable things I’d ever heard. There was plenty to keep me occupied in the conversations of just our front seat. Honestly, it changed traffic for me ever since. It’s also proved to be one of the slippery realities I’ve ever had to hang onto. Not because it was hard to comprehend, just difficult to live into consistently.
Every car. Every driver. Every passenger and every person texting them to see when they’ll arrive or to remind them to pick up the milk.
It doesn’t take long for the cloud of plans, worries and hopes in your own vehicle to crowd out the similar cluster of signals in the windshields of those around you. Add that to the highways your GPS reads to you, streets named in morning traffic updates, and the half dozen roads you can drive without thinking about them we soon have a city full of traffic. Each connected to jobs, homes, schools, stores and transition. Multiply this just by the communities that your relatives and best friends live in and soon we’ll be completely awash in the detailed lives of the people you know and those you only see in passing.
This week, the readings draw our attention to David, Paul, and Jesus. All three of them people whose actions, plans and intentions shaped history in tremendous ways. Each of them also had an eye for the people passing by. David, the newly minted Hero. Paul, the unstoppable Apostle. And Jesus. The Christ.
We will see how God calls us to take actions that improve life for those in our immediate circle of influence and for those we know only in passing. For us and for those one boat over.
We also want to invite you to our Fourth Bible Intensive this week. Monday – Wednesday evenings from 7.00-8.30, we will be considering the NT book of Hebrews. Whether the book of Hebrews is a favorite of yours or if you’ve never read a book of the Bible before, you are welcome.
Each evening, we will share dessert, glimpse the glories of Jesus, meet new friends, and see how the book strengthens the inside of our faith while preparing us for external challenges to the faith. Did you know that Hebrews teaches that Jesus is greater than Moses? Did you know that I knew that? See how that all fits together.
We will have a variety of teaching, activities and opportunities to connect the message of this beautiful book to our own lives and mission. Childcare is provided and you can bring a Bible or borrow one of ours. For more information, contact Christopher at fractalpilgrim@aol.com

See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle – June 15, 2018

June 15th, 2018 by
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I greet you in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
Patsy and I are looking forward to our visit with you all Sunday and sharing what God is doing in Madagascar. There are many exciting things happening with God’s people in Madagascar and many lessons we can learn from them. One of the biggest lessons we have learned is being people reaching people – witnessing and sharing God’s love. The Malagasy people are great at doing this. Over the past 11 years we have seen tremendous spiritual growth as we have gone from 11 churches to
92 churches.
We look forward to meeting you and sharing God’s word together Sunday. May God bless you abundantly.
Serving Christ Together,
Todd McGregor
Diocesan Bishop
Diocese of Toliara
MADAGASCAR

Friday Epistle – Vacation Bible School

June 8th, 2018 by
Seventy kids, and a large number of our parish, have been showing up this week. It’s been fun, a little wild, and every day has been a blessing. Here are a few snapshots from the week.
From Bishop Carl: 
VBS impacts the spirit and soul.  
First of all it’s the interaction of the people, kids and adults smiling, laughing, serving, focusing on our Lord together.  I love being with the staff as well as the children. It is refreshment at its best and more.
 The soul gets nourished.  A friend of mine used to teach that when we taught, the first thing forgotten was the content. The second thing forgotten was the style, how you taught what you taught.  And the thing remembered longest was the attitude with which we taught.  Our attitude nourishes the soul.

We also can bless the spirit of those present.  We can awaken a thirst.  A parishioner sent me the following, borrowing from Max Lucado.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
The phrase “train up” descends from a root word that means to develop a thirst. Hebrew midwives awakened the thirst of a newborn by dipping a finger in a bowl of crushed dates and placing it in the baby’s mouth. To “train up,” then, means to awaken thirst.
Parents and teachers can awaken thirst “in the way [the child] should go.”
What an awesome gift it is!  This is a work of the Spirit to the spirit.

Roberta:

I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed working VBS, especially with Caroline & Soleil.  It is such a joy (& I don’t use that term lightly-few things give me joy) to be around young, lively people.   It is wonderful to be around these wonderful creations of our Lord.

Whitney:

This is my second year as a teacher at VBS. Watching the children truly grasp these stories, and hearing their excitement, just reinforces the joy of our Lord everyday for me! I felt like the stories truly came alive for the kids in our class (and we had 14 kids!) and I cannot wait to see what the Lord does for these children in the coming year.
Sara:

This is my fourth year at VBS and my third year working in the crafts area. When the kids enter my class they have already heard the Bible story from their teachers, and perhaps seen it reinforced in the other special areas like skits and snack.  This year the kids are internalizing the stories in a way I’ve never seen in years past (the pre-K group told me all about leprosy!).  They are so excited to tell me everything they are learning from the Bible.  I am hearing from parents again and again what a wonderful time their kids are having.  I know they are going home and sharing the Bible stories with their families.  What a beautiful thing for the knowledge and love of Jesus to spread from our volunteers to the children and then to their families and beyond.  More than ever God is giving me a glimpse of the eternal significance of VBS!

 

  
To close, our fearless leader, Jane says:
“You can fear (or in my case, stress-out), or trust God.  But, you can not do both at the same time.”  I heard this statement on the radio a couple of weeks ago, and I needed that word!  At that time, Chris Reilly and I were still trying to secure volunteers to lead VBS classes and children were being placed on a wait list since classes had filled up quickly.  Once I trusted instead of stressed, God (as He does year after year) provided wonderful volunteers.  All have been AMAZING.  Our community is so blessed by their dedication to our children.
One of the aspects that I enjoy most about VBS is the opportunity for diverse people to serve/attend and remain engaged.  Volunteers are already signing up for next year.  Many of them are the young people who have attended VBS.  How awesome is that?  They have been learning about God’s love and now they plan to share it, although I doubt they will wait until next year to do so!

I can honestly say that the week of VBS is one my favorite weeks of the year.  Every year it is a week of joy, love and encouragement.  The joy is seen on every face of a child.  The love shines through our volunteers.  All who come (children and parents) are encouraged to seek, meet and accept the Lord.  “For all the promises of God find their Yes in God.”  2 Corinthians 1:20.
Please come Sunday to celebrate with us. We will have more stories and songs from our week of adventure!
Tags:

Friday Epistle for June 1, 2018

June 1st, 2018 by
Friday Epistle – Dr. Larry Selig
         We had lived in Pittsburgh for 20 wonderful years when we put our
house on the market before moving to Winter Springs in 2002. All of our
children and grandchildren were already in Orlando, so the move
was easier emotionally.  We had experienced so many blessings there with
our family and neighbors, so we prayed for the right family to purchase
our home and continue to experience that blessing. At the home inspection, we
asked the couple with three young children who were buying it if we
could pray a blessing with them before they prepared to move in. They said
yes and could they bring several other family member when we did
this? Of course! Well to our surprise, they came with their three children,
parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, filling our large living
room as we gathered in a circle to pray a blessing over them and the
house as they moved. Their children then presented us a plaque for our
new home in Winter Springs saying “Bloom where God plants you”. How
precious. It is now on our large porch table where we love to entertain!

        Since we moved to Winter Springs 16 years ago, we have had many
wonderful opportunities to share with our  neighbors. Each time a
house near us comes on the market, we pray that the Lord draw each
family who moves in. And it is fun to see how special relationships
result.And many opportunities to pray with them in times of crisis.Last August,
a single mom who was widowed, purchased the home next doors and moved in with her three lovely daughters. Within a week, a friendship  began which blossomed this Spring with the three daughters inviting Jesus into their lives and Mom reconfirming her  relationship with the Lord. They started coming with us to NCC, and love the welcome you all have given. The girls asked me if I would baptize them so they could publicly confirm this new relationship with the Lord and receive Holy Communion.
So this Sunday, being a Presbyterian pastor ministering to this family
whose family roots were Presbyterian, Carl has invited me to join him in  baptizing them at the 10 AM service, and also have me preach.The sermon will deal with turning  our lives over to the Lord’s control, influenced in part
by a story I told the girls and their Mom, helping them understand what
trusting Jesus involves. Please be in prayer for them as they come to
be baptized or reconfirm their baptism this Sunday.

        The picture was taken two weeks ago when the girls, Emily, Stephanie, Heather and their Mom, Angie helped me plant a croton in our front garden in honor of their father and husband who died four years ago in May.                Incidentally, just a week ago, two additional houses across the street from both or ours went on the market. The girls said they would pray with us that just the right families move in with whom we could build friendships. We literally and spiritually are seeking to extend God’s kingdom and bloom when God has called us, planting flowers

and friendships for Jesus. Perhaps you are doing  this as well in your neighborhood.
Thanks be to God for His faithfulness  in allowing us to assist Him in changing His world.

In His Strong Name,

Larry

 

Friday Epistle for May 25, 2018

May 25th, 2018 by
SACRED ANTACIDS
By Justin McRoberts
A young man came to his priest. “I feel like something is terribly wrong in my spirit. Please help me.”

The priest replied, “Can you describe the feeling?”

“It happens every night,” the young man said.  “I lie down and begin thinking over my day when a terrible feeling comes over me; a burning in my heart, like the burning the disciples felt when meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus. But when I feel it, it feels like something is wrong. It’s more like a pain. It’s as if God is trying to tell me something. Please, help me. What does it mean?”

The priest bent forward from his chair, reaching into his satchel. The young man, thinking the priest was climbing out of his chair to kneel on the ground and pray, slid out of his chair onto the floor, bowing his head and extending his hands, palms up, to receive the priest’s blessing.
But instead of a prayer, the priest laid a single antacid in the young man’s open hands. “You’ve got heartburn, son.”
Don’t get me wrong. I do regularly pray. And sometimes I’m praying about a physical discomfort.
But sometimes I just need an antacid…
and sometimes I just need to eat better…
and sometimes I need to sleep more…
and sometimes I need to see a trained, professional therapist…
and  sometimes I need to change the shoes I’m running in.

And I think all of these things are spiritual matters.

In the past I might have suggested that therapy, exercise and medicine were un-spiritual things, as opposed to prayer, fasting and meditation. Nowadays, I wonder if it is un-spiritual to consider one aspect of my life “Spiritual” leaving all other aspects of myself partitioned off.  I wonder if thinking spiritually means seeing my whole life (emotional, psychological, physiological, religious, economic, social, familial…) as singular – as if my Creator is concerned with every inch and aspect of my whole self.

I don’t believe it is at all unspiritual, much less un-Christian, to see a therapist or take an antacid.  I do think, on the other hand, that it is distinctly unchristian to separate physical or financial parts of my life from my “spiritual life.”  God, whose greatest revelation of Himself was to become fully human, has great concern with all of me.

I find that one of the most powerful aspects of the Incarnation story is the 30 years of silence before the recorded part of Jesus’ life. That silence says to me that, until he was baptized by John, Jesus lived a life that was, in large part, unremarkable, since nobody found much of it worth marking down. Many days, I find my life to be somewhat unremarkable; I work, I eat, I rest, I have time with family and friends. Nothing out of the ordinary – not even a flash of celestial glory.  I am encouraged that Jesus lived such a life as well, at least for a time.

Unlike many other ancient Incarnation stories wherein a god takes on human form for a while and only to serve a special purpose, in Jesus, God not only becomes a human being…
He’s carried in a woman’s body…
born to that woman…
raised in a family with parents who taught him to feed himself…
had a dad…

And it seems, somewhere along the way, lost his dad…
had siblings…
had friends…
lost friends…
lived in the neighborhood…
had neighbors…
held a job…
worked for money…
paid for food…
paid taxes…

All of which says to me that these things are not insignificant in their normality, but that God finds worth in spending most of a human lifetime attending to simple things like work and neighbors and friendships and family.

It seems that God not only abides in mundane things, but dwells in them and does so gladly. And if that’s true, which I believe it is, it means he dwells in me and my work and my community. A community of beautifully normal people with jobs and kids and mortgages and leaky faucets and disagreements and heartburn and issues to work through externally and interpersonally.  A community who gathers on Sundays to celebrate and remember the One who is glorious and majestic and who was carried in the womb of a teenage girl to be born into the world just like any of us normal folks were.

It means every thing matters.

Not just a world I cannot see, but the world right in front of me.

My job matters.
My bank account matters.
My education matters.

My health matters.

From his book, PRAYER, pages 28-30
Go to his website:  www.justinmcroberts.com
Who is Justin McRoberts?
         Since 1999 Justin McRoberts has been a constant and noteworthy presence on the independent music scene. A songwriter, storyteller, teacher and an advocate, he is one of those rare artists who blends artistry, honesty and humor seamlessly.
         “In and through art,” Justin writes “we learn to see ourselves and our world as part of a cohesive, Divinely-orchestrated story.” Sharing stories and songs with an audience is where Justin’s gifts are most fully realized. His live shows strike a delicate balance between intellect and emotion; between inspiration and a call to action.
          Central to Justin’s work is advocacy on behalf of the poor and oppressed through Compassion International. “Not only do the poor need us,” he writes “we need the poor to remind us what being human is about. In the same way that the poor learn to identify themselves with their lack, the wealthy learn to identify themselves with their wealth. It is in the meeting of the two that we can recognize ourselves and one another as human.”
Blessings to You All,