This weekend we will return to the Police Athletic League for our Sunday services. The PAL will be our location going forward for now until we are able to find something else to fit our needs and meet our hopes of having a more permanent and accessible home in the community we seek to reach, namely the downtown St. Pete area.
We are extremely grateful for the PAL and for the leaders of this organization as they welcome us in to their space every single week. We ought to be grateful as well for what God has helped us to see in the last few weeks as we scrambled a bit through being 'homeless.' I believe, in particular, we were able to see 3 things:
- God provided. We were able to use the PAL for a few weeks immediately after loosing our home at 912 Central and we also had a wonderful space to use together on Easter weekend because of a ministry that others in St. Pete helped us connect to. In addition to this, we had a wonderful day of weather last weekend, in the midst of storms rolling in and out of the area, so that we could enjoy a relaxing and rich time together in the park.
- We were served by others. While it was mostly behind the scenes, this entire experience of loosing our meeting space provided opportunity for many pastors and many churches to love us, pray for us, help us, and serve us in different ways. Stonehouse Church is in a great place in St. Pete so far as ministry partnerships go. We are not in this city in a manner of competition and discord with other churches but rather enjoy the warmth, love, and kindness of others and reciprocate these virtues outward as well. It was another pastor who connected us to the warehouse space for Easter; it was the leader of that ministry who fought for us to allow us to use the space to celebrate Christ's resurrection together; we received many calls & texts of encouragement and prayer from area pastors; and several others offered space in their own churches for us to meet in on Sundays as well. These things ought to be celebrated because it isn't every day that you find churches working together and praying for one another like this. Praise be to God!
- The church was strengthened. An inconvenient situation like loosing a place to meet is something that can, and in some cases has, brought an end to the gathering of God's people together as the local church. For us this has not been the case. In fact, someone recently celebrated with me the fact that Stonehouse is not a church of convenience, nor is it filled with people who are seeking their comfort first - it is, however, a church filled with people who are enthralled with the gospel, who are engaged in community, and are hungry to know, worship, and spread the name of Jesus in St. Pete. Inconvenience is only that, it's temporary, perhaps annoying, and a little bit of a departure from normal but it is in no way something that will bring an end to the praise of Jesus among us.
Let us move ahead thanking God for his provision, for the support and partnership of others, and for the strength that He alone has produced by his power.
As we return to the PAL we will be getting into the book of Ephesians together by walking through a 13 week series entitled "Reshaped." Ephesians weaves the story of the gospel into the story of our lives thereby reshaping all of life in light of the glorious good news of Jesus Christ. Our verse by verse journey through this wonderful epistle will help us to grasp the truths of Christ as we see how everything — the Church, our marriages, our jobs, our families, the fight against evil, the hard work of building unity, etc. — is connected to what Jesus Christ has done in his coming, living, dying and rising. We'll be in chapter 1 verses 3-14 this Sunday.
As we go through Ephesians on Sundays so too will we discuss the book week to week in our City Groups. A helpful resource for doing this will be the book "Ephesians For You" which leaders will have to help guide our weekly discussions. It may be helpful for you to have a copy of this book as well so we wanted to provide the link should you desire to get your own copy (hardcover & paperback available on Amazon). We will have a few paperbacks on hand next Sunday (4/22) for you if you would like to have a copy but aren't able to obtain one for yourself (please see me or Jason about this, we'd love the chance to help!).
I'm looking forward to this series and trust the Lord to do his work among us as we seek him in his Word. Plan to join us at the PAL week by week through this spring and into the summer months and we'll see what God provides for us further ahead into the future. For his name and his glory alone!