Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Dear Family,

Well the Cortese’s have gone and done it. After 31+ years in the same house, the house we moved into on our second day in Citrus County in 1983—we’ve sold our home and bought another. The decision to sell our home was difficult, and fearful. It was all we’ve ever known, and we were content, we loved our neighbors and neighborhood, it was paid for and there was so much laughter and joy echoing in those walls. It only had one fatal flaw—we could no longer shoehorn our rapidly growing family comfortably inside. In all the planning for the future I just didn’t count on six grandchildren being born in just two and a half years with the hope of even more to come. So Diane and I finally embraced that there was something more important than our ease, security and nostalgia and that was to provide a place for our family to feel welcome when they are able to come. Our old home was for raising kids, putting them through college and getting them married; our new home is for welcoming our children back with lots of children of their own. Our new home is for making new memories with our six grandsons (and with the six granddaughters to come that I’m earnestly praying for!) Our new home will also be a place to welcome our SRPC family as we were once able to do at house number one before SRPC became a family with many children, too. So, last week, Diane and I said goodbye. We walked, praying, from room to room—thanking God for giving us a family. We cried a lot – sobbed actually, but they were sweet tears; tears of a couple who have tasted our Father’s unmerited favor and seen this grace kiss our children. What made our departure far more palatable was knowing that right behind us, moving in, was a sweet couple with a one-year-old to raise and the hope of more babies to come (exactly as we were 31 years earlier!) Our house was bought by our coworkers and friends, Adam and Teri Hill….and that made our hearts really glad! Diane and I are very tired, enjoying our new home and anticipating the approaching sounds of little feet (all four born grandbabies will be here in the next 3 weeks!) This adventure has been good for my soul, too, for it’s reminded me, as CS Lewis wrote, of the rightful place of a house in our priorities, “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” So, until we reach home—we are thankful for the pleasant inns he has provided for us!


 
                                  _______________________________

· This summer I did take some time to read. I read Sticky Teams—Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page by Larry Osborne, Center Church: Doing Balanced Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller, In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell, Toughest People to Love: How to Understand, Lead, and Love the Difficult People in Your Life – Including Yourself by Chuck DeGroat, The Paris Architect (a novel) by Charles Belfoure, and Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend. The next book I’m targeting is the Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

· Pastor’s Class begins this Wednesday night at 6:30 in the Sanctuary (Florida Room). Is there someone you could invite and perhaps bring to the first class? Pray for hearts to see the beauty of Jesus!

· Did you know the athletic complex construction has begun? The 40 acres we own on Southern Boulevard, about one mile from SRPC, is being transformed into a football, baseball, softball facility with a field house to support all the sports of SRCS and Camp Seven Rivers as well. The complex is slated to open when school does in 2015!

· Good article on the why of Christian schooling.

· Here’s something to make you laugh.

· We have some folks at SRPC really struggling with illness. They are getting worn down. People like Tim Ott, Margaret Christensen, Dale McCollough and Jenna Campbell. Pray for them and all the others—and if you know someone who’s weary with physical brokenness—see if you can think of some way to lighten their load!

· This weekend in worship I’ll be on “the hill” (a baseball metaphor!) We’ll be digging into Ephesians and taking the Lord’s Supper together. It’s going to be sweet!

Love,

Ray

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Dear Family,

As we sit on the precipice of a new church year—let’s celebrate some of the ways we’ve experienced the sweetness of God’s grace in the year past.

· We got the Manuel Family—Paul, Heather, Emily, Eli & Ellie all made SRPC a richer place
· The Dean Smith Christmas Eve video
· George Robertson and the summer conference
· The expression of joy that exploded from Kane Vassallo at his baptism
· The return of Rayburn Greene
· Great summer interns
· A beautiful new preschool & playgrounds
· Steve Saint’s preaching during Global Outreach Month
· Celebrating Ken Wackes
· Seven weeks of the sheer joy of Camp Seven Rivers
· Luke Steel eating 18 Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the Family Mission Trip
· Project Beautiful
· The indefatigable Disaster Relief Team
· SRCS growth (from 320 to 460 in two years!)
· The middle school Edge Camp—where a number of students made commitments to follow Jesus
· Getting to have the Beilmans for six months
· The New Horizons VBS
· The Bruised Reed sermon series
· The Paul Tripp marriage conference

It was a great year at SRPC!

· We will kick off the new church year on the weekend of August 23/24 beginning a new sermon series entitled Modern Family—The Gospel of the Church and with a party on the lawn following each worship service. We’ll serve dinner/lunch, have a bounce house for the kids (and seniors), open up the new playground, and have tours of the new preschool!

· The new Pastor’s Class begins on September 3. Is there someone you can bring? Last weekend Brandon read these welcoming words our sister church posts on its website. Someone wrote in after the sermon asking—does SRPC feel this way too? With a Father who runs down the road to welcome a wretched son home, how could we aspire to anything less? Bringing someone to church and to Pastor’s Class is a great way to walk them into the family of God!

· Financial Peace University. The first class begins Wednesday, August 27 at 6:30. Details and registration here.

· Under the heading of “Too Cute:”
ðSRCS Video "We're Going to Be Friends"
ðThe return of Austin Roth from Afghanistan. Austin grew up at SRPC/SRCS, married his high school sweetheart Julie Green, is a helicopter pilot in the Army and has three children. The latest was born while he was deployed. Austin just returned recently to his family and this greeting.


· Under the heading of “This Makes Me Sad:” Emily Pullen who has worked in our school, student ministry, and most prominently in our Children’s ministry and Camp Seven Rivers has taken a new job in Auburn, Alabama. At SRPC, we love Emily and can’t wait to watch her enrich lives in Alabama like she has here!

· Two brief articles worth your time: 4 Things Jesus Didn’t Die For & The Case for Eating Compassionately

· This weekend is my 35th wedding anniversary (how is that possible when we are still so young) and I’ll be celebrating it with you in worship. I’ll be preaching on the bride of Christ—the church He loves and died for.  It’s the ultimate love story.  Hope to share the romance with you.

Love,

Ray




July 17, 2014

Dear Family,

Summer Conference was great...probably our best attended ever. The music was rich, the community was sweet and the preaching was powerful and healing. CD sets of all the messages from Habakkuk will be available in the bookstore. If you want to listen to just one let me recommend Tuesday night's entitled, “You Are (Not) Special – Part 2.”  Listen to it here and stay tuned in for the final illustration – it had me in tears (a feat not easily accomplished!)

• Here’s a powerful and compelling
quote from George Robertson’s Tuesday night message.

• George recommended learning the shorter catechism definition of God: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

• Please pray for Don and Barbara Hall. Don’s 30-year-old daughter, Hope, died tragically on Monday. Her memorial service will be tomorrow at Brown Funeral Home. Receiving line is from 10-11 am with the service to immediately follow.  Ask God to comfort them in the midst of their awful heartbreak.

• This weekend, I’ll be preaching on Adoption in our #DOCTRINE – What Christians Believe series. After each service, we’ll ask all members to stay for our annual congregation and corporate meeting to elect elders and deacons.


It’ll be great to worship together again this weekend. I’ll see you at the party!

Ray

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dear Family,

• The preschool building is done – on budget ($900,000) and on time! Want to know something wonderful? The MORE giving has been so consistent and generous that we’ve paid 80% of the cost of construction and have yet to borrow any money! Church and school giving have been really healthy, too. Please don’t forget to keep it up during the summer – June & July are typically our financial drought season!

• Want to help with the last leg of the preschool building? Can’t go on an out-of-town mission trip, but would love to serve? We are building the preschool playground on Saturday, June 28. Contact Dana James to join the fun!

• Would you consider praying for three things: 1) Our high school ministry students left for their summer conference in South Carolina yesterday. About 45 students and adults went. Would you pray for Jesus to grab the hearts of our children. 2) My son-in-law, Eric Stites, has taken 13 high school boys from the Parramore neighborhood (where he is church-planting in Orlando) to a Kids Across America sports camp in Missouri for inner city kids. It was a herculean effort to pull this off. Here’s an excerpt from Eric’s email from camp. “Please, please, please pray for the guys. Some of them are homesick. For about half of them, this is the first time they’ve left Florida. Some of them are frustrated that they don’t have their phones, or that there is structure to the day and don’t want to “give in” to fully being a part of everything that is going on. So pray that the ones feeling that way would turn the corner, experience something different from what Parramore has to offer, and would meet Jesus in such a way that they don’t leave the same way they came. I’ve found myself in tears a few times leading up to this trip and even now as I write this, really hoping that dead hearts would be awakened, hard hearts would be softened, and eyes would be opened.” 3)
Next Tuesday night I speak to our denomination's national meeting in Houston (it’s called the General Assembly). I’m scared spitless about it, so would you ask God to help me not be abrasive but to proclaim the sweetness of the gospel and the beauty of Jesus.

• The book I’m looking forward to reading the most this summer is Chuck DeGroat’s, Toughest People to Love: How to Understand, Lead and Love the Difficult People in your Life – Including Yourself. Chuck’s previous book, Leaving EgyptFinding God in the Wilderness Places was very helpful to me!
• For the third straight year, SRPC will host the Global Leadership Summit from Willow Creek Church in Chicago. Speakers include Bill Hybels, Louie Giglio, Patrick Lencioni and other leaders of business, church, education and non-profits. Why not come and bring your coworkers with you? The cost is $79; use password PV2014 to register. To get the best rate, sign up by July 15. Registration and details
• Did you know SRPC has been blessed to have Adam and Anne Jones serving here for over 15 years! In appreciation for Adam’s timeless leadership, the session has granted him a 6-week sabbatical that will begin in a week and run through July. The Jones’s will be hunkered down in a cabin in Maine, and in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for most of their escape. As Adam, Anne, and Sashi leave – why not take time to remind them how much they and their labors have meant to you: 2630 W Antioch Lane Lecanto, Florida 34461.
• Last month in the week of high school graduations, I sent out an article from Jean Larroux with five notes of wise counsel for graduates. Jean has written five more and they are sagacious! Uncommon Sense (the sequel...)

• This weekend we’ll celebrate Father’s Day together in worship with 13 baptisms! I’ll be preaching on being created in the image of our Father. I guess every weekend is Father’s Day at SRPC! Looking forward to celebrating with you.

Ray




Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dear Family,

I walked through the preschool today. It looks amazing…I haven’t missed the portables for one day! We are going to dedicate the preschool on the August 9/10 weekend with a post worship party!

• Here are two books for those who might want to think more about liberation from sexual addiction: Samson and the Pirate Monks – Calling Men to Authentic Brotherhood by Nate Larkin and Sex And Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace that Satisfies by Paul Tripp.

• The highlight of SRCS graduation was the address written by Kevin Wackes. It was full of wisdom that will allow you and your faith to flourish no matter what life throws at you. Read it here.

• There is still time to sign up for Supper Clubs--Supper Clubs of 6, 8, or 10 people will meet three times over the summer for food and fellowship. This is a great opportunity to get to know someone new. Contact Caryn Poloske.

• For the third straight year SRPC will host The Global Leadership Summit from Willow Creek Church in Chicago. Speakers include Bill Hybels, Louie Giglio, Patrick Lencioni and other leaders of business, church, education and non profits. Why not come and bring your coworkers with you. The cost is $79; use password PV2014 to register. To get the best rate sign up by July 15. Registration and details

• Here’s a quote worth reading and heeding on taming the technology/smart phone addiction that is so ruinous in our culture. “Like
any tool, technology is all about how you use it. We should take care in ensuring that it is not shaping us in ways we're not comfortable with. Do an inventory of your daily or weekly tech usage to ensure it's not consuming you and wrenching you from meaningful face-to-face engagement with others. Don't check texts or websites while you're connecting face-to-face with someone else. Limit your usage of digital communication, as a spiritual discipline. Folks with smartphones need to be smart about their use. Utilize them for meaningful connection with others, but consider adopting a few spiritual disciplines when using technology. Why always text someone when you can call? Sure, it takes a little longer to call, but engaging someone with your voice is step toward deeper connection than simply sending a text. Take regular sabbaticals from your phone. Develop a daily or weekly rhythm that frees you from the screen. For example, only check social media before lunch, or take Lenten fasts from technology or social media. Take screen-free Fridays (or whatever day suits you). And we need to model such discipline to our children, by developing rhythms that ensure we're using the medium, it's not using us. Using web-based tools is great, but so is walking your neighborhood, hosting dinner parties, volunteering at community gardens, sharing a table at a soup kitchen, playing with children, gardening, sports, games, and sex. You can't phone those things in.” Michael Frost – Incarnate: The Body of Christ In An Age of Disengagement

• Here’s a blog post worth reading on the importance of giving affirmation to your children especially when they are teenagers. Big Mama Love

• Do you know about the worst natural disaster in US History? It was the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 when the Mississippi River levee at Greenville, MS broke and unleashed a wave of water 100 ft high, over 330,000 were rescued from rooftops and trees, hundreds died, 27,000 sq. miles were flooded and water blanketed the land for over 4 months. I’d never heard of this until recently. I just read a wonderfully written novel The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly situated within this historical event. 


• This weekend in Worship Dan Beilman will be giving a report on their mission labors in Vienna. We will also begin our new sermon series called #DOCTRINE – What Christians Believe. Each week you’ll be invited to text your questions about the sermon to 22333 (start your message with SRPC) and the following week we’ll answer one or two of your questions. I can’t stress enough how important this series is. Christianity in America has been described as miles wide and one-inch deep, in other words very shallow. As our culture drifts away from all Judeo/Christian anchors we need to be deeply rooted in biblical truth or we will be swept away as well.

Love,

Ray



 

Friday, May 23, 2014


Dear Family,

Thirty-five from SRPC returned Saturday night from 10 days tromping through Europe in search of church history and croissants! We began in Paris, stopped in Normandy,

made a very rough crossing of the English Channel, explored London, visited Stonehenge, Bath, Salisbury, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, made our way to Edinburgh, and finished on the 18th fairway of the Old Course at St. Andrews. We stood at the site of John Wesley’s grave, William Wallace’s trial, John Knox’s preaching, William Shakespeare’s writing and most importantly William and Kate’s wedding! It was a grand time and it was surely enhanced by doing it all together!


• This summer is filled with Student Ministry opportunities – Get your middle & high schoolers to camp! Students get Jesus at camp! Get all the details here.

• Camp Seven Rivers starts on June 2. Camp Seven Rivers has an all-star team of counselors and staff. It is a can't-miss for children entering Kindergarten to 5th grade. Get your little ones to camp! Registration and details here.

• The preschool is almost finished – just two more weeks! Preschool playground construction will be on Saturday, June 28! Can you help? Contact Blair Commons.

• The highlight event of the summer at SRPC is our Bible Conference. This year’s conference will begin with our serving our community at Project Beautiful on Saturday, July 12. Project Beautiful 2014 will focus on making our community a better place to live by encouraging and supporting the many business owners among us and their businesses. From auto shops to pharmacies to restaurants, Citrus County is served every day of the week by members of Seven Rivers who are seeking to glorify Christ and be a blessing to everyone with whom they come in contact. In the coming weeks we’ll ask you to sign up for a business site where you’ll do a half-day’s worth of cleaning, landscaping, painting, or other needed tasks. Everyone will then gather together at the church for a free lunch and fellowship. Save the date now - more details coming soon.
 
The conference continues with regular weekend worship and then evening meetings July 13-16. Our guest speaker is Rev. George Robertson, the Sr. Pastor of the historic First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. (Woodrow Wilson’s father was the pastor there!) George is a terrific preacher – please drop everything and join the SRPC family in feasting on the Bible in July.

• “A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’” is an article worth reading. It debunks the do-what-you-love, pursue-your-dreams philosophy of modern culture. Read it here.

• Here’s a powerful quote from Kara Tippetts, a young mother of four who is facing her imminent death from cancer and trusting God to take her home when He sees fit: 
“In it all there is a longing—a deep longing for the grace to receive what is coming. My quiet longing is to remain—remain and look upon the developing story of my people. Some days the words are hard to pray. I struggle looking upon my history to embrace hope for the future. But I hear my little girl voice whispering to my good Father, “Can’t I play just a minute longer?” I haven’t heard His answer yet, but I know His countenance is a smiling one of a Father that loves, Loves, LOVES. And today—that is enough. I am comforted that He knows my longing. A Daddy that tells a sad child that it’s time to leave the party does it with a gentle heart knowing the joy the party grew in the child. But the loving Father knows exactly when it’s time to go. I trust my Good Daddy in heaven. I may want to throw a fit in going, but I trust him. I trust him. I trust him.”

• This week we’ll conclude the Bruised Reed sermon series with a sermon on Pornography. This series has provoked more response than any we’ve done in a long time. If you’ve missed one – be sure to catch up and listen online (I have Brandon’s Mother’s Day sermon on my iPod to do just that). The following weekend we’ll begin a series titled #doctrine – What Christians Believe. In this series, we’ll explore what the Bible says about itself, God, creation, sin, salvation and heaven and hell. This is the most needful material for today. If we don’t build our lives on strong biblical theology, our “houses” will not withstand the storms of life. Don’t miss #doctrine this summer.

• Seven Rivers Christian School’s 14th Graduation is tonight at 7:00 in our sanctuary. Ken Wackes is the speaker. You’ve invited…after all it’s your school and these are your kids! I’ll see you this weekend.

Love,

Ray



Thursday, May 1, 2014


Dear Fam,

The SRCS drama department presented “Annie” this past weekend. I’m nominating Lindsay Spaight for a Tony Award as the best Annie ever.  Lindsay and the rest of the cast (including Paul Cash as Daddy Warbucks) were wonderful!

• Last week, SRPC hosted the meeting of the Central Florida Presbytery—which is the leaders of all the churches in our denomination in Central Florida. Jean Larroux (our Bible Conference speaker in 2012) spoke on creating a grace culture in your church. It was fantastic and even longer than the usual SRPC sermon, but worth every minute. Listen to it [here] and send it to your kids, too!

• I told a little of Shon Hopwood’s story on Easter weekend. Here is the whole story.

• Easter weekend, SRPC had over 2400 people attend! Way to go inviters—you did a great job. Each attender saw this video on the power of the gospel to make all things new.

• Is your child signed up for summer camp? Here’s the schedule for Middle and High School camps this summer. Middle School—June 21 - 25, 2014; High School—June 11 - 15, 2014. Click here for sign up information!

• Celebrate Recovery meets at SPRC in the Student Ministry Building every Friday night. Celebrate Recovery is a safe place for individuals to share their brokenness in the midst of a supportive community and to find the healing grace of Jesus. Celebrate Recovery isn’t just for those with drug or alcohol addiction. Folks come to CR because they are struggling with anger, lust, finances, eating disorders, self-hatred, parental abandonment, grief, abuse, depression, and a host of other issues. CR is just beginning its 7th year at SRPC and would love to have you be a part. See here for more information.

• Dates to highlight—July 12-16: Summer Bible Conference; August 14 & 15: Willow Creek Leadership Summit

• Last weekend in worship, we began our Bruised Reed series with a sermon on depression. I got so many emails—there are more sufferers than you know. One encourager wrote, “The message took the shame away from so many people with the love of Christ.” I couldn’t have dreamed of a better outcome than that.  If you missed it, here's the message on Depression.  This week, we’ll tackle an even more tender topic—sexual abuse. Our children’s ministry is extending the Edge program (for 3rd-5th graders) through the rest of this sermon series for both Saturday and Sunday services.

• As we've begun the Bruised Reed sermon series, it's a really good time to remind you that we have two wonderful counselors offering gospel-centered counseling at our counseling center.

• For those not yet aware—our weekend worship schedule is now Saturday at 6pm and Sunday at 10am!

• This weekend we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper and offer prayer for healing during communion. It should be a gloriously sweet time.

Sincerely,

Ray




April 30, 2014
 
Dear Fam,

The SRCS drama department presented “Annie” this past weekend. I’m nominating Lindsay Spaight for a Tony Award as the best Annie ever. [PIC] Lindsay and the rest of the cast (including Paul Cash as Daddy Warbucks) were wonderful!

• Last week, SRPC hosted the meeting of the Central Florida Presbytery—which is the leaders of all the churches in our denomination in Central Florida. Jean Larroux (our Bible Conference speaker in 2012) spoke on creating a grace culture in your church. It was fantastic and even longer than the usual SRPC sermon, but worth every minute. Listen to it [here] and send it to your kids, too!

• I told a little of Shon Hopwood’s story on Easter weekend. Here is the whole story.

• Easter weekend, SRPC had over 2400 people attend! Way to go inviters—you did a great job. Each attender saw this video on the power of the gospel to make all things new.

• Is your child signed up for summer camp? Here’s the schedule for Middle and High School camps this summer. Middle School—June 21 - 25, 2014; High School—June 11 - 15, 2014. Click here for sign up information!

• Celebrate Recovery meets at SPRC in the Student Ministry Building every Friday night. Celebrate Recovery is a safe place for individuals to share their brokenness in the midst of a supportive community and to find the healing grace of Jesus. Celebrate Recovery isn’t just for those with drug or alcohol addiction. Folks come to CR because they are struggling with anger, lust, finances, eating disorders, self-hatred, parental abandonment, grief, abuse, depression, and a host of other issues. CR is just beginning its 7th year at SRPC and would love to have you be a part. See here for more information.

• Dates to highlight—July 12-16: Summer Bible Conference; August 14 & 15: Willow Creek Leadership Summit

• Last weekend in worship, we began our Bruised Reed series with a sermon on depression. I got so many emails—there are more sufferers than you know. One encourager wrote, “The message took the shame away from so many people with the love of Christ.” I couldn’t have dreamed of a better outcome than that. This week, we’ll tackle an even more tender topic—sexual abuse. Our children’s ministry is extending the Edge program (for 3rd-5th graders) through the rest of this sermon series for both Saturday and Sunday services.

• For those not yet aware—our weekend worship schedule is not Saturday at 6pm and Sunday at 10am!

• This weekend we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper and offer prayer for healing during communion. It should be a gloriously sweet and tender time.

Sincerely,


Ray




April 17, 2014

Dear Fam,

Just a reminder that tomorrow at 11:00a.m. is the SRPC Easter Egg Hunt and picnic. Bring your babies and your neighbors and join the fun. This is my first year to bring one of my own grandchildren to an Easter Egg Hunt and I’m really excited about it, but it has necessitated a change in our procedure. I wanted to inform you ahead of time that Sam ...



...will be allowed to go first and collect eggs unhindered for about 10 minutes and once he finds the “golden egg” we’ll allow the other children to participate as well. I’m confident that in the spirit of Christian charity you’ll have no problem with this arrangement!! I’m kidding of course but I am excited to bring my baby and I’m excited to share the morning with you as well. See you tomorrow at the Easter Egg Hunt.

Love,

Ray

 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Dear Fam,

• Hats off to the choir, The Journeymen, and our own resident maestro Chad Robison for the numerous moments of rhapsody we experienced at the Americana Hymn Festival Sunday night! Thank you, thank you, thank you . . . . . . it was grand!

• The only damper on the evening was that when the concert was over we had to say good-bye to Sheri O’Neal. That was hard; we love Sheri . . . a lot!

• Planting a church in Boston is hard but Bryan and Lisa Loney are attempting it. They are two of SRPC’s missionaries. Why not stop and pray for them right now. Here’s their recent newsletter

• Adam Jones’ sermon this last weekend was breathtakingly good. If you weren’t there you need to tune in. His message included this epic quote from Charles Spurgeon, “When we come to the end of self we come to the beginning of Christ! That last shekel binds us to the pretenders but absolute bankruptcy sets us free to go to Him who heals diseases without money and without price. Glad enough am I when I meet with a man who is starved out of self-sufficiency. Welcome, Brother! Now you are ready for Jesus. When all your own virtue had gone out of you, then shall you seek and find that virtue which goes out of HIM…”

• World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization touched off a firestorm last week with their announcement that they were now open to hiring gays and lesbians (a decision they rescinded 2 days later.) Kevin DeYoung an excellent pastor/author in East Lansing, Michigan responded with two very helpful blog postsThe Worldliness in World Vision’s New Hiring Policy and Why is this Issue Different? Quite obviously, little could be more paramount for the church than to speak with biblical clarity and charity on the issue of homosexuality.

• April is full of activity:
→ April 12-13           SRCS 25th Anniversary celebration in worship
→ April 19-20           Easter Services
→ April 23                 Pastor’s Class begins
→ April 26-27           SRCS Musical “Annie Jr”
→ April 26-27           A Bruised Reed Sermon #1

• On Wednesday, April 23, Brandon Lauranzon will begin a class on one of the most daunting books of the Bible – the Book of Isaiah. The New Testament references Isaiah more than any other Old Testament book except the Psalms.  Jesus began his public ministry by reading from the scroll of Isaiah.  You will hear Isaiah at Christmas, on Good Friday, in hospitals, and even at weddings.  Saint Jerome referred to Isaiah as the “Evangelical Prophet” because his gospel message is so plain.  Join pastors Adam Jones and Brandon Lauranzon for a six week study of The Prophecy of Isaiah.  Wednesday nights, 6:30-8:00pm, starting April 23, free childcare available.  Sign up at the Guest Services Desk or online here.

• You should have seen the long line of parents this morning as April 1 began enrollment in our preschool for the 2014/2015 year. Parents were lining up hours each to enroll their children. Pray for children and parents to meet Jesus through the ministry of our preschool. Pray for our school leadership too – as their 5 year accreditation visit from the Christian Schools of Florida team come to renew our accreditation. Upon accreditation from CSF, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) will automatically be updated as well.

• This weekend in worship we conclude our series from the Gospel of Matthew! As you gather for worship on Saturday night, I’ll be preparing to preach on Sunday morning in Tokyo. Would you pray for the advance of the gospel in Japan and throughout Asia? Would you ask the Father to encourage the weary missionary leaders who are gathering with me in Thailand. They are like warriors who are taking a brief respite from the battle to re-strategize and reenergize before they reengage the fight. Would you pray for heaven sent refreshment for them!

Love,

Ray