Taking Time To Debrief

>> Friday, August 27, 2010

Wednesday I was in Chicago with other church leaders to debrief the Global Leadership Summit. Our expeerience with the Leadership Summit as rookie satellite site was extremely positive and I found that most others had similar experiences. It was good to take time to debrief and to give input on next year's event. Orchard will again host the Global Summit on August 11 and 12, 2011.

The 4.5 hour drive back from Chicago gave me additional time to debrief my summer and this past week. It got me thinking about debriefing itself and how important it is to debrief each day and each week.

Many mornings I journal as I begin my day. Each journal entry includes two key beginning phrases that help me to focus my thoughts. I've journaled this way for maybe ten years. The two phrases are:

Yesterday....and then I reflect upon what God did and what I did yesterday.....the facts of what happened and where I could see God at work and where I was in touch with him.

On the inside, I'm....gives me the opportunity to debrief what's going on inside me. These are things that I often ignore unless I give them specific focus and take time to think about.

In August, my wife, Linda, and I had our 40th wedding anniversary. As a celebration gift our children gave us a book with pictures, highlights and notes from them about our 40 years together. During our recent vacation, I read that "anniversary" book four times. In effect, I was again taking time to debrief (and remember) our 40 years together. It was very helpful and faith-building to review all that God has done in our lives during that time.

Most of my debriefing, whether it's about the Global Summit, or yesterday, or even my past 40 years with my wife, leads me to the deep conviction that God is faithful. He is faithful. One verse I'm thinking about this weekend is 2 Timothy 2:3, "If we are faithfless, God will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself."

So, I simply ask you the question: Have you taken time lately to debrief? Maybe it would be helpful to you as it has been for me?


Alaska Was Beautiful!

>> Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My wife, Linda, and I returned from Alaska on Monday morning. We were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary by enjoying the incredible landscape of this "last frontier".

My overwhelming spiritual experience of this trip was that our amazing, creator God spoke all of this frontier into existence and then gave it to us to care for and enjoy. What a God. Each time I sat on our veranda and experienced the ocean and the mountains, the glaciers and the whales, I felt the presence of God and received His great love.

As many of you know, one of my pathways to connecting with God is nature. When I experience nature, I feel very close to God and I get a greater perspective of who I am. When I'm in nature I deeply understand Romans 1:20

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualitities--his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from wht has been made, so that men are without excuse."

When I see the mountains and glaciers I realize that God is immense, powerful, eternal....
When I see and hear the whales I realize that God is creative, inventive, loving....
When I see tiny wild flowers I realize God notices even the little things...
When I see the stars and the oceans I remember that we know so little and He is all wise!

I hope you have some time in nature soon!


Amazing Global Summit!

>> Saturday, August 7, 2010

Today is the first day of a weeklong vacation to the mountains of Alaska. One joke in our family is about how early I get up when I'm on vacation. So, 5:00 a.m. seems an appropriate time for my first morning.

Before I fly to Seattle, I had to write a few thoughts about the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit that Orchard Hill Church hosted for the first time these last two days. I had two primary concerns as our leadership chose to host the Summit. I was concerned we wouldn't be able to recruit enough people to attend and I was concerned that I would not be able to focus upon this event in the same ways as other years and God would not touch my soul as He has in the past.

A whisper from God that I heard during this year's Summit was "have faith." As a leader with the spiritual gifts of leadership, administration and encouragement, I often have to lean into someone else's gift of faith. I'm so glad that God's plan was for the church to be a spiritual community where we utilize the gifts of each other.

So, attendance was way beyond expectations with 350 people from 23 churches and several corporate teams. 200 people from Orchard attended. And I was touched by God more deeply than in past years. I was touched at the beginning of each session as I would look around and realize how many friends, teammates, and family members with whom I was getting to experience this event. And I was deeply touched when we sang together the song, "I have decided to follow Jesus!" I been singing (and meaning) that song for more than 50 years and I am resolved to follow him intensely to my last breath. I ask God to help me keep this on-going promise!

I'm blown away by what a fantastic staff team and Leadership Board God has given to Orchard Hill Church. This surfaces so clearly during challenging events like the Global Summit.


God-Sightings Last Evening!

>> Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I visited Grundy Vacation Bible School at the Grundy fairgrounds last night. Jenn Vennega, our Children’s Ministry Staff person there, christened the building in which they meet “The Sauna.” It was hot and sweat was dripping from volunteers and kids alike.

But it was hot in more ways than temperature and humidity. The love between the kids and the volunteers was obvious. The message of Jesus was clear. The music and singing (and dancing) brought a smile to many faces. Something about the energy of 160 kids, 120 volunteers and 6 churches doing ministry together was contagious.

I visited one of the sites and they were teaching kids about God-sightings. I was so touched by the simple yet profound truths that we were teaching the little ones. You can see evidence for God and you can see God at work if you look carefully for Him in your daily life.

Sometimes I need the same simple and profound truths that we teach our children. God is so at work.

I got in my office this morning and I opened my emails to pictures and stories from Orchard’s participation in the Walnut Neighborhood party last night. There were pictures of our church volunteers partnering with our mayor, our police and fire department along with neighborhood leaders. The entire event happened in the Harvest Vineyard parking lot. Great fun with a purpose!


The Passion of the Young; the Wisdom of the Old!

>> Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I was inspired by the Caravan Return Service on Sunday morning at 10:30 in our Community Center. The interviews with staff and students painted a great spiritual picture of what had transpired on this week-long trip. The video showed a picture of fun with a purpose of helping students take next steps in their relationships with Jesus Christ.

Our younger staff was filled with passion at the life-change they had seen and felt on the trip. They obviously had poured out their energies for the students during this week.
Then Enrique Ochoa, from Nazareth, stepped to the stage and shared for a few minutes about milestones he’s noticed on his 22 consecutive Caravan trips. He shared some powerful life experiences and challenged both students and parents.

And I thought again, what a great thing it is when the passion of the young can be mixed with the wisdom of the old. Now, I don’t want to be the one to draw the line between the passionate young and the wise old ones. But, I do want to say thanks to both groups who honored Jesus by volunteering and serving on this trip.


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