Baptisms in a hot tub on a cold day!

>> Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday was a beautiful day to baptize two young women in a hot tub. It was emotionally and spiritually moving to listen to their testimonies as they spoke of the role of Jesus in their lives. Jess Taylor and Rebekah Zimmerman both had their faith in Jesus solidified on high school mission trips. God is surely at work on those mission trips!

Watch for a story of faith video coming to Orchard on a Sunday morning soon!


Bricks and More!

>> Saturday, February 12, 2011

As you probably know the Marathon Team (with the help of our Farmer's Resource Bank) and lots of their friends raised $105,000 to build a school in Mozambique, Africa. These pictures show that some of the bricks have arrived. It is so cool to know that regular everyday people in Iowa can make a difference for kids and families in rural Africa where they have so little.

These pictures make me eager to travel with our team in June to be there with the families and children. I'm eager to pray with them, meet with parents, pastors and tribal leaders. I'm eager to be the hands and feet, eyes and smiles of the church of Jesus Christ on another continent.

Even this evening as I pray for Mozambique and the future school, it is really clear to me that we do not need to travel to Africa to be the church. Tomorrow morning as Orchard (and other Christian churches) opens it doors to followers of Christ and to those who are further from God, we will be the church. And as we love our neighbors, family and co-workers right here in Cedar Falls, we are Christ's church. We must serve Christ across the world beginning right here and right now.


New Member Stories

>> Thursday, February 10, 2011

Forty-four New Members!
Forty-four people will be joining Orchard Hill as new members in this current class of people. They will be acknowledged on a coming Sunday morning.

In the last couple days I've been reading their faith journey stories and the stories are so very inspiring. The stories of the folks who are choosing to join with us in our mission make me smile at how God works in so many different ways.

Let me share some of the things that I learned:

1. The people of Orchard are inviting friends and relatives. Most of these folks are at Orchard on the arm of a trusted friend.

2. Many young adults are joining Orchard in order to continue to grow spiritually and be sure their young ones have a spiritual home.

3. Several of these families were motivated to attend by their children who had been active in our Student Ministry.

4. Several of these folks have come to faith in Jesus Christ real recently and for them this is a commitment to continue to grow spiritually.

5. Twenty-one of the 44 are coming to Orchard by Letter of Transfer from another church and 23 are coming by reaffirmation of faith and first-time confession of faith.

I want To See the Individuals
Reading these stories inspires me to walk around the Orchard campus and our communitites with my eyes wide open to see individuals and their stories. I want to not see a mass of people, but instead, I want to see individuals who each have a story and each is striving to love and know God.


I Love Blizzards and Other Storms!

>> Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One of my favorite books is by John Ortberg entitled, Everybody's Normal Until You Get To Know Them. So, I want to confess before I continue to write that I know I am not normal as you get to know me. I'm just not normal (whatever that is)!

One place in which my idiosyncracies show up is in my love for all kinds of storms and especially I love blizzards. I went for a walk last evening in the wind and snow. It was beautiful. When I walked north, the wind would drive the snow into my face and I could sense the incredible power of God. When I woke this morning and checked out the drifts, his power and his ability to put a stop to much of life was just so evident.

During a storm, like last evening, it's just so clear in my spirit who is in charge and who is not in charge. Humans predict and wait. Humans respond. Humans change their plans and react to the storm. God initiates all that creates our weather and our storms. God is in charge. He is never surprised.

As I look back in my life and into the lives of our congregation, it is often the storms of life that remind us that God is needed and in charge. The storm of a health problem, or the storm of a death of a loved one, or the storm of living through a huge disappointment--all of these storms can also remind us of who is in charge and who is not.

Maybe, as you spend time at home this evening, you could reflect upon our God who is in charge in this life. Maybe, as you finish the shoveling or the snowblowing, you could reflect upon His power. Maybe, as you feel the sore muscles from this exercise, you could reflect upon his great power.

Have a good evening!


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