Crazy Holy Moments!

>> Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last night I was able to look in on several of our key Wednesday night ministries! I was with the volunteers who serve at our CHAOS (Christ Has All Our Solutions) Junior High Ministry in order to provide a little training. I was struck as I watched car after car lined up to drop off junior high students and then I watched students get out of those cars and enthusiastically head to CHAOS. They were obviously looking forward to this night.

I arrived later as 220 people were finishing our Families Connecting meal. I looked in for a moment at the parents of first graders who were preparing for this year’s first Faith At Home. I stood in the back at BIG HOUSE and watched several hundred high school students worship God and listen to great teaching. It seemed to me like a very powerful night filled with holy moments. I also know we had a leadership class and a Men’s Bible Study during the evening.

My challenge to the CHAOS volunteers (many are college students) was to remember that it is a holy moment when they sit with a small group of 5-8 junior high students and talk together about God and personal faith. When a young person listens and then shares what they are thinking or what they believe, it can be awesome holy moment in time. A moment of great value where God can work.

As I reflected upon the evening, I think I saw lots of those holy moments. I watched Big House begin in a crazy way. For just a moment, I even asked myself if our Student Ministry Directors knew what they were doing. Then, in the next 45 minutes I saw students engaged deeply in learning and worshipping. Oh, Dave such little faith!

I also watched visitors being welcomed. Smiles and greetings. Laughter. Hugs. Friendships. Basketballs flying everywhere. Parents visiting with each other’s children. Families eating together. Prayers. I even heard there was an obstacle course. Each of these present a possible holy moment where God can work in His own way.

This was just one night. Tomorrow is the first Mom’s Morning Out. Bethel Bible Study is beginning. The Marathon Team is running. Our Sunday morning services have changed times with a new teaching series beginning next week. The Young Adults are meeting on Sunday mornings. Route 55 has activities planned. The list of opportunities is endless. God is at work!

I hope and pray that each of us find a good place (the right place) for God to touch us during this fall season.


Easily and Deeply Inspired!

>> Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ok, it's true. I get inspired and encouraged by many things every week. That's how God made me.

I get inspired when someone tells me they've made a new commitment to Jesus. I get inspired when parents bring their new little baby to church for the first time. I get inspired when a gym full of students are worshiping Jesus at CHAOS or BIG HOUSE or when I see 30 small groups of students meeting with Christian adults who care for them. I get inspired when people introduce me to a friend they brought to church for the first time. I get inspired when people donate resource to God's kingdom work! I get inspired when my grandchildren are learning about Jesus at Great Adventure.

Two things from last Sunday inspired me. The marathon team video and team picture inspired me. I'm certain that those on the team are growing physically and spiritually in incredible ways as they encourage each other. The video (shown Sunday and available on YouTube)reminded me about the life-change God is doing thru our work in Mozambique. Last summer, when I was there, I was surprised by the amount of good our resources can accomplish and how God was using our resources to help so many know Him.

And then at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday a dozen families came to our sanctuary to dedicate themselves and their 18 children to Christ. Our sanctuary was mostly filled with friends and family who came to be part of this dedication service. As each couple dedicated their children, friends and family came and surrounded the parents and children as we prayed for each family. It was moving to stand in the back and watch so many adults commit themselves before God to help these children grow up to become followers of Christ.

It reminded me of Deuteronomy 6:6, "...These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Parents and family are the first and most important carriers of the gospel to their children.

I am so grateful that we are a church family who have chosen to give Christian parents, who are seeking God, the opportunity to baptise and/or dedicate their children. I'm also grateful that nine weeks ago we gave our people the opportunity to go to George Wyth Lake to be baptized as followers of Christ. God is a big God who works in our lives in so many different ways!!


The Church Belongs to Jesus

>> Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One of Jesus Christ's most foundational teachings about the church is that the church belongs to Him. It is His. He purchased it with His blood on Good Friday and gave it hope with His resurrection on Easter Sunday. The church does not belong to the leaders, or pastors, or big donors, or charter members. The church belongs to Jesus. And the church is not a building, or an organization but a collection of followers of Christ.

Jesus said to Peter, "...on this rock I will build MY church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it ..." (Matthew 16:18)

So, the other night our Orchard Leadership Team met in the basement of Lincholn Center Christian Reformed Church in rural Grundy County and asked what Jesus wants for these two local congregations. Would there be a way for these congregations to partner for the glory of God? Should Lincoln Center become a ministry of Orchard focused upon those whom Jesus would have them to reach? There were no immediate answers in the basement that night. We will keep discerning the will of God on this. We will seek scriptural answers, missional answers, relational answers and in all of it, we will continue to follow Jesus as best we can.

I was so pleased that we together seemed to be asking the really important question: What would Jesus want for His church? How do we best use His church to accomplish His mission?

That's the same question we should ask about our 6th community each morning. Lord, what do you want me to do today, to build your kingdom in the part of the world where you have given me influence. I hope you're asking yourself that question!


Some CCDA Conference Quotes!

>> Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One of the amazing features of last week's CCDA Conference was the delegation of people who attended together from the Cedar Valley. Our delegation included partners from Orchard Hill, Havest Vineyard, Shout Ministries and a staff from Prairie Lakes. We laughed, shared and learned together. Here's a picture of our delegation except for Mayor Buck Clark.

I was impressed with the heart and mind of the founder of CCDA. Several statements made by John Perkins continue to stick in my heart and mind. I wanted to write a few of them down:

The best welfare program in the world is a good job.

Redistribution is not giving stuff away; but giving people the opportunity to earn and create.

The gospel is the first responsibility in every home.

Do something now with what you've got!

People with a problem have to take first responsibility for solving the problem.

God has hidden his face from us so that we can see his image in each other.

According to God's Word, fear is to be managed with courage.


John Perkins and Chicago

>> Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm in Chiago this week attending the CCDA Conference with a team from the Cedar Valley. We have a team of about 25 people including staff and volunteers from Orchard, staff and volunteers from Harvest Vineyard, Buck Clark, the mayor of Waterloo and others.

CCDA stands for Christian Community Development Association. This association shares tried and true Biblical principles for developing under-resourced communities of people. The founders and speakers are people who have been living and serving in their under-resourced communities for more than 30 years. Their philosophy of ministry has strongly influenced Orchard's philosophy of doing mission beyond our walls into our five focus communities.

So far I've been inspired by four things:

1. The clear foundation of their work is Jesus Christ and they are very clear that the first help we need to be ready to give is to reconcile people to God through Christ. (Galatians 2:20).

2. John Perkins, their 80 year old founder still has the fire of Christ and the clarity to serve young people and communities. He is definitely a biblical prophet to our day!

3. Even though CCDA is not organized as a church they understand and teach the importance of us being the church--the body of Christ--his hands and feet in the world today.

4. This morning was beautiful and I went for a 45 miniute run/walk along Navy Pier, the lake and the Chicago River. It cleared my head and helped me see God's beauty in the cityscape. Since then I've been inspired by the 25 people who've come with us to learn and grow.


How much do we care?

>> Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yesterday I had 6 appointments with a total of 8 people. I love days when I get to be with people in an honest and focused way.

The discussion in the final appointment has stayed with me. A leader of our church and a good friend of mine after sharing news from our summers, asked several important and honest questions. The quetions focused upon how much do I and the leaders of Orchard really care about our mission. How much do we care and how intensely are we focused upon reaching people who are far from God, reaching young families, and making our Sunday mornings everything they can be for people's lives.

There are so many messages in our world that say...things should be easy! We shouldn't have to work that hard, we shouldn't have to sacrifice, we should just be average. That's good enough. Let's just get by.

The truth is that it takes focus, sacrifice and commitment to make good things happen. I'm going to be asking our staff, our leaders and myself how much we care about the mission. God has given our church a great mission. I'm usiing this Labor Day weekend to think this through for myself.


The Gathering serves Orchard and touches my heart!

>> Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sunday was the 4th and largest Gathering for Orchard with 1880 people attending. Many Orchard folks told me it was our most inspiring event yet at the Gallagher-Bluedorn.
Between the 9:00 and 10:30 services, I stood on a high step in the lobby of the Performing Arts Building and watched our congregation leaving the 9:00 a.m. service and coming to the 10:30 service. We no longer fit into one service there, but for a few moments many of our church family were together in the lobby.

That moment of seeing the lobby completely packed really touched my heart. I watched friends visiting, greeters greeting, children smiling, introductions happening, people coming and going! Most of Orchard was together in that moment. I remembered, in that moment, that God is doing something very special in our church. He is blessing us, growing us, challenging us, using us and bringing joy into our lives. We are blessed to be a blessing.

In that moment, I deeply understood again, it's worth it! It's worth facing all the problems, raising all the money, being in all the meetings, working all of the long days, and praying continually for oneness in the Cedar Valley. It's worth it! Serving Jesus by building a healthy and prevailing church family is worth whatever sacrifice He requires.

Sometimes God uses parents introducing me to a brand new baby at church to remind me it's worth it. Sometimes He uses a quiet time in backyard (or in the mountains) to remind me. Sometimes it's a powerful appointment with a new believer. On Sunday He used a crowd to remind me it's all worth it.

By the way, wasn't what happened inside the Great Hall pretty awesome also. Thanks to Todd Thomas for his courage and vulnerability (and for his family being present!). Thanks to the musicians for very inspiring worship and to all the tech people. Especially thanks to Travis and Anne Duncan for their hard work even after having twins recently. You can see Travis was doing double duty at the sound board. The interview and video of the ESPYs are avaialable on our website.
Not to us, but to God be the glory!


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