It's like a Cubs game!

>> Thursday, July 29, 2010

As I’m in my office at the Cedar Falls campus this afternoon, it reminds me of being in the stands of a Cubs game in Chicago a few years ago. I was sitting next to my son, Jeremy, who was intently watching the game and made this comment, “Dad, there’s so much going on I cannot keep up with the action!” I was in the seat next to him watching the game and I couldn’t tell that there was anything going on in this particular ballgame. I was not noticing the strategy moves, the signals, the changing placement of players, the coaches in the dugout, the designated hitter, etc, etc, etc, We were seeing two completely different pictures of the same game.

This afternoon seems quiet here at our building. Not many people around. It seems like a lazy summer afternoon. But that would be missing the true picture of God at work through the ministry of Orchard Hill Church. So here’s what I’m seeing this afternoon. There’s so much going on that I can hardly keep up with the action....

Our Caravan trip is in Tennessee and our Student Ministry Staff are presenting God’s truths to 135 teenagers who are developing great community and whose hearts are getting more and more open. The return worship service is on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in our Community Center.

Last night at the park in Walnut Neighborhood in East Waterloo, several high school, college and adult leaders reached out to a pile of kids which included singing happy birthday to a 3 year old who was there with siblings. Doug Tensen said this kind of outreach can be addicting!

One of our Chuckwagon teams (led by Craig Patterson) is preparing to serve breakfast to hundreds of Ragbrai 2010 riders in Waterloo tomorrow morning. They will provide encouraging “salt and light” as well as a nutritious breakfast with the funds going to support one of our five focus communities.

Our Grundy VBS Team is preparing for the kickoff of that VBS which involved 7 churches working together in the community of Grundy Center.

Our leaders are working intensively to prepare for the Global Leadership Summit that takes place at Orchard next Thursday and Friday. 348 people from this part of Iowa including 201 from Orchard Hill’s congregation are registered. This has far exceeded my expectations and Willow’s goals for us!

Tonight Duane Svoboda and I meet with a team from our Grundy campus trying to discern the future of facilities for that part of our church.

Sunday is also Picnic In the Park at Lincoln Park in downtown Waterloo. This partnership event needs more volunteers for this Sunday and has been a huge and strong outreach to many in the neighborhood this summer. The event provides a great lunch and a worship service outdoors in the park.

My prayer is that all of this movement and activity is used by God in the lives of people who are becoming more fully devoted followers of Christ. If that happens, then Orchard is reaching the mission that we believe God has given to us.

Have a great weekend!


Who Gets To Do This?

>> Friday, July 23, 2010

A couple days ago I was having breakfast with Neil McMahon. He was showing me pictures from his recent trip to Mozambique, Africa. He and Barb recently led our mission team to the Gorongosa area which is one of the five communities we are focused on.

Looking at the pictures was emotional for me because I spent 10 days there last summer. One picture especially caught my attention. It was a picture of Marisio who is a young man supported through our child sponsorship program by my son's family. Last year when Ben visited Mozambique, Marisio was very quiet and withdrawn. He was afraid. This year when Marisio saw our team come to his area, he ran to them with a big smile on his face. These visits had changed him and helped him. He lives in poverty and is being raised by a grandmother and an aunt. Our child sponsorship helps him go to school, have medicine and supplies and gives him an opportunity to hear about Jesus. It helps him and his family. I'm so glad that people within Orchard are sponsoring 250 or so children in this community.

As we looked at the pictures, Neil showed me a picture of himself sharing the good news of Christ in a church behind a mud altar. At this point Neil asked me a question that has been on my mind since then. He asked, "Who gets to do this?" He was asking the question about himself but I began thinking about my life.

It's a great question when I think about my life. Who gets to have the resources to support and help children in Africa? Who gets to be a part of a church that makes a difference in five communities? Who gets to be married to the same wonderful woman for 40 years? Who gets to be a part of a fun and committed staff team at a prevailing church? Who gets to love and invest in 9 healthy and growing grandchildren? Who? Who gets to have a job he absolutely loves and feels called to?

And then, lets ask the question one step deeper? Who gets to receive the unconditional love of a Heavenly Father? Who gets to have a savior who allowed himself to be killed for my sin and shame and brokeness? Who gets to have a new life within himself which Jesus said leads to "life to the full!" Who gets to be "salt and light" for Christ in this wealthy and free country? Who?

On my good days, I remember who gets to do this and I am grateful to God for the privilege! How about you?


Life Change and a Wedding

>> Saturday, July 17, 2010

I just officiated at a very cool wedding of Rachel Cole and Michael Lawson. Rachel's family included 6 brothers and lots of neices and nephews. Hers was a strong family of faith from Winterset, IA and a huge wrestling family. (so you know we'd get along very well!)

Michael is the young man who last year dropped to a knee at the finish line of our Chicago Marathon race and proposed marriage on the spot. After Rachel figured out what was happening (and it took her awhile), she accepted. They have been mentored for marriage by Neil and Barb McMahon which they have loved.

Ultimately, their story is one of life change and the power of Jesus Christ. When Michael asked Rachel for a second date, she said her answer would be "yes" if their third date could be to go to church together. He agreed and when he entered our gym, Rachel says, "she wished I could have seen his face!" He wasn't expecting anything like he found. He continued to attend both with Rachel and even when Rachel was gone. Michael has come to faith in Christ and now they are married with Jesus as a center of their relationship. This is simply one more story of God using Orchard to help another person become more fully devoted.

When the wedding was done and we were in the parking lot, Rachel's dad shook my hand and said, "thanks Dave!" I think he meant, "thank you Orchard Hill for making a place for my college daughter to grow in faith and for being the place where my new son-in-law could come to follow Jesus!" I'm so grateful that Orchard is committed to passing the baton of faith to next generations. Speaking of which, I met two new couples in the lobby after the wedding who come to Orchard and both were pregnant. More babies on the way!


Orchard Hill North

>> Friday, July 16, 2010

My wife and I just returned from Orchard Hill North which is Orchard's bi-annual camping trip for families. It was an amazing event which took place at Baker Park Reserve north and west of Minneapolis. Forty families (200 people) enjoyed this absolutely beautiful park north and west of the cities which is on bank of Lake Independence. This was without a doubt the most beautiful and well-kept site in which Linda and I have ever camped during our 30 years of camping.

As I walked through the campsite each evening, my heart was overwhelmed with gratefulness for the people who are Orchard Hill Church. These families are busy raising their children, building memories, teaching skills and doing many things to help their children become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. I am honored to call them my church family and my friends.

I watched as dads and moms taught their kids to ski, swim and tube. I watched as families took long bike rides together and prayed and sang worship songs. Families rode roller coasters, shopped, and cared for each others children. This was a week of "doing life together" and being a part of the church while having a blast.

Mike Brost, who was our staff point leader for the event did an amazing job. He used his boat, his sense of humor, his organizational ability, and his risk-taking capacity to lead this event. Brenda and Curt Patterson led the cooking and chuck wagon for the 7th or 8th time. They do a wonderful job of carrying this heavy responsibility in a way that values and involves everyone on the trip. The food is scrumptuous.

Each morning the adults gather for small group story-telling. This time together so deeply reminds me that regular people with regular lives receive the love of Jesus Christ and their lives change. I get so energized for the work of our church, when I hear how God has used this ministry to change the direction of lives and families.

I just talked with Mike and he said that last nights final session was moving and beautiful. The session was at sunset on the lake. Curt Patterson (an elder) and Mike baptised three people in the lake: Elise Anderson, the daughter of Chad and Erica, Shauna Springer, a girlfriend who attended with the Day family, and Vicky Yeomens, who as an adult had no idea whether or not she'd ever been baptised. I praise and thank God for what He is doing in people's lives!



>> Thursday, July 15, 2010

There’s more work to do to than we will ever get done. There’s more to talk about than we will ever get communicated. There are more people who need help than we will ever get helped. It’s never ending, so we must focus our time, our energy, and our communication in order to be most effective. Our church cannot try to do everything, but we can do some things very well.

With that in mind, I will focus this blog on three things: celebrations of God at work, keeping our Orchard vision crystal clear and sharing what’s going on in my heart. It sounds so easy, but I’m thinking this will be a challenge.

Celebrations of God at work

I was on facebook the other day and saw a picture posted by Karla Chestnut from her balcony window in Biera, Mozambique, where her and nine others were on a short term mission trip. The picture (and other emails) took me back to last year’s trip to Africa and reminded me what an amazing work God is doing through our partnership in Mozambique. Our team just returned from that community having built relationships, while sharing and learning from our partners there. Our VBS students and volunteers sent blankets and backpacks for pastors. They also sent money to hire a teaching pastor. Our marathon team is raising money for a school within our community there. God is at work in Gorongosa and we are a part of what he is doing. Yea God.

My heart
Sometimes I ask myself why does God let us be a part of such a growing and exciting and life-changing church? Why do I get to serve with a fired-up healthy staff of 35? Why do we get to choose to impact 5 focus communities? Why has God continued to bring new partners to our ministries? Why? Why?

The answer that comes to my mind is from our definition of spiritual growth: Spiritual growth (and kingdom building) is the process by which God transforms me to be more like Jesus for His glory, for the sake of others, and for the abundance of my own soul.

Not to us, but to His name be the glory!


Geared to the times, anchored to the rock!

>> Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dave Bartlett....a blogger. It’s hard to believe. I never thought I’d blog especially for a public setting like this home page. But as we’ve thought about the growth of Orchard Hill and the need to keep our vision crystal clear, it’s obvious, that along with other vision casting, I should try my hand at writing a blog.

One Bible verse that our staff has been focused upon since Easter is 2 Corinthians 4: 18—So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Youth for Christ, the first full-time ministry that I was a part of, had a tag line “geared to the times, anchored to the rock!” which meant that methods and strategies in ministry will continue to change but the message of the cross of Jesus Christ will never change.

Things do change! So lately, I’ve been communicating through face book and carrying an Ipad. My schedule can now be seen on google calendar. I take my calls on a cell phone. I’m managing projects on an app called “Things” and my “most looked at Bible” is an app called “Olive Tree.” Methods and strategies and tools will change. Even how we organize our church and how we worship together may change.

But the gospel of Jesus Christ does not change. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”

So, as one part of Christ’s church, let’s use all of the contemporary tools at our disposal, to share this “good news” with our family, friends and co-workers. Let’s not get stuck with certain ways of doing things, let’s keep changing. But let’s be clear. The message of the gospel of Christ has not and will not change.

What could be better than using brand new tools to share the truest life-changing message ever communicated?


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