There once was a man who was walking on a muddy path. He crossed a field and as he did he tripped over a stone and fell in the mud. As he picked himself up he noticed that the stone was sparkling, so he began to dig. The stone seemed to be never ending as he unearthed it. After hours of digging he realized that he had found a rare jewel! He knew that he could never convince anyone it belonged to him so he came up with a plan. He quickly covered the jewel again with dirt so that none of it could be seen and marked his map. Over the next week he sold everything he owned and bought the field. Once he had purchased the property he dug up the jewel that finally belonged to him. It was the largest a most valuable jewel the world had ever seen!
This story parallels a similar one in God's word where Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven (Matt 13:44). It tells of a buried treasure that defines our church. We are not an organization, a business, or just another church on the corner. We are simply men and women who have found something of true value and have sold everything we have to make it our own. We were lost in poverty and as we tripped in the mud, we found the greatest riches that the world has ever known. We found Authentic Life, and we found it through Christ.
We hope you are excited to celebrate the 4th anniversary of Reliance Church this Sunday morning at 10:30 in the St. Pete High School auditorium with us. We have found buried treasure and want you to know that it doesn't just belong to us. It belongs to you too.
Our vision at Reliance Church is Authentic Life thru Christ. For four years we have been discovering what that looks like, as well as what it doesn't. Our church family has ministered to thousands, literally, even as all of our possessions fit in to a 10x16' trailer. We are far from perfect and far from being finished. We have weathered tragedy, storms, and attacks, yet our doors remain open to even our enemies! We may not have the worlds riches, but we have something yearned for worldwide. We have true freedom in our Savior Jesus Christ.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
At wedding receptions there is often a name card placed on the plate to reserve a spot for the bride and groom's honored guests. These names are printed on card stock, written in an elegant font, and include the full name of each person invited. The new testament makes no secret that the Church, including Reliance Church, is the bride and Jesus is the bridegroom. Our mission is to prepare the bride for the wedding, and we will continue to do that, but on October 29th we are just going to celebrate the union! As we prepare over the next two weeks, I hope you remember one thing: you are not a "guest" or a "plus one". You have a reserved spot signified by a name card containing your full name.
"Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God."
The first day of school, especially if you are a freshman, is scary. Going to an unfamiliar place full of unfamiliar people rushing around to their classes is enough to make anyone apprehensive. Starting a new job is the same. Add the pressure of needing to be successful to care for your family on top of the unfamiliarity and you have just described many people's nightmares! Yet, after only a few short weeks at school or work we proudly walk through the doors…all because we belong there!
At Reliance Church we meet at a school but we don't want our guests to feel like it's their first day when they arrive. Instead, we want them to feel like it is the 31st day. We want them to feel like they belong! Our Welcome team is purposed with the simple to explain yet difficult to achieve task of….you guessed it….making all who walk through our doors feel welcome. We do that by smiling, by showing people around, by offering some refreshments, but more importantly than all of that we give people their first glimpse of authentic life. How does our Welcome Team know what that looks like? Well, let me ask you, "how did you feel on your first day?" "What made you stay"? We need those who are passionate about meeting new people on our Welcome Team. Even if you just have one Sunday a month you can commit to our team, it only takes one conversation on one Sunday to change someone else's life forever!
If you are interested in serving on one of our ministry teams, please reply to this message or contact me (Pastor Devin). We have available positions on our welcome, children, and production teams on Sunday mornings.