Mozambique Partners Visit Orchard!

>> Thursday, October 27, 2011

Here's the panel that visited with our Under-Resourced Team and our Missions Team on Saturday morning about helping people help themselves instead of just being involved in charity and giving.
Halkena and Sheilla shared their stories at the Big House Event on Wednesday night in our Cedar Falls Sanctuary!
Our partners at Harvest Vineyard Church and our partners from Mozambique got this picture together. It is so fun to see partners from different parts of the world being together.
The five days that our team from Mozambique were with us in Cedar Falls was an incredible time of learning and building relationships. Halkeno, Sheilla and Josh kept very busy in their time with us. We prayed together, shared the story of sponsored children, laughed together and enjoyed each other. We added about 20 monthly sponsorships for children. This was fantastic!
We work hard in our Under-Resourced work to build friendships with people who can help us learn and can walk with us. It's very good to have them visit!


Eating Meat on Halloween!

>> Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last weekend we had a Halloween Party at our house with our family. It was a blast. We had the party last weekend because Linda and I are going to be on a weekend away when Halloween comes next Monday. We didn't want to miss all the fun!

After teaching on family the last three Sundays, I've been thinking that I forgot to mention the role of fun in building families. Having fun together, in big and small ways, is an important ingredient to positive and effective family life in Christ. This models for all of us, the role of joy and laughter in the Christian life.

Some followers of Christ choose not to celebrate Halloween because of its dark roots and its connection with our secular culture. Instead of celebrating Halloween they have Harvest Parties or other healthy alternatives. I believe that is a honorable and appropriate response for some parents who follow Christ and want the best for their family.

Linda and I have chosen to embrace holidays like Halloween and redeem them within our family for the sake of joy. Our grandkids brought their costumes and they trick or treated at every available door on our property. We tried to scare them and then Linda read the message of God's creation and the love of Christ as I carved a pumpkin (very poorly may I admit!). It was a memory building time of simple fun.

Romans 14:6 says this about a New Testament debate among people who were deciding whether to eat meat that had previously been offered as a sacrifice to idols, "...He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Both responses to eating meat offered to idols (and to Halloween) can honor Christ. Romans 15:5 goes on to say this, "May the God who gives endurance and encouaragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I believe our church family is one where we can allow each other to have freedom in Christ. We can allow and encourage followers of Christ to make different decisions but still trust their hearts and encouage each other. We can be a church marked by love for each other that is attractive to those who are seeking God.

Go have some fun and let your life be marked by joy!


Questions about our teaching team????

>> Friday, October 14, 2011

Our Orchard Teaching Team met yesterday. We meet once every two weeks to work together on the teachings that we will bring to our church family on Sunday mornings. It is fun and, I believe, healthy for our congregation to have multiple voices speaking God's truth to our congregation. I love our teaching team which regularly has 7 teachers and a couple of regular subs--Ed, Mike, Alice, Doug, Tim, Kurt and myself!
When I travel and meet with other church leaders, our teaching team is the most often asked about part of our ministry. Many churches tell me that they are hoping to move in this direction. But, having a high trust teaching team that is willing to share the pulpit (if we used one?) can be a challenge. A part of each of our meetings this fall has been a time for us to build trust between our teachers. It can be hard because we don't really spend a lot of time together and we are very different people. It's working well and I believe our congregation benefits from different voices with different passions and life stories.
So, how does it work? We outline a teaching series together and in general agree what we will teach from God's Word and what our congregation needs at this point in their journey. At that point, each individual teacher takes that information and develops their own teaching. Jonny Rogers helps us package the teaching series in a way that we hope will be sticky to our congregation. We hope and pray that our teaching team is helping each person in our congregation grow.
What about favorites? I think it's ok to have a favorite teacher or two. It's natural that one or two of our team would be most helpful to you. I'm certain that each of our team is someone's favorite. What's really important, though, is that each of us is open to God speaking to us from His Word brought by any of the teachers. When you listen to a teaching live or on-line, be sure to listen for God's voice much more than the human voice of the teacher!


Pictures from BASIC outdoors!

Take a look at these three pictures of taking BASIC outdoors that tell more of the story I spoke about in my last blog post! God is good, he is active and he is at work in student's lives.


Bright Lights at UNI Homecoming!

>> Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Last week was UNI's Homecoming--always a big event here in Cedar Falls. It was a tough game with a great outcome. I want to tell you about Thursday night on campus.
Our College Ministry Team and their leaders decided to take our Thursday night BASIC event outside in order to be "salt and light" on homecoming week. The spot for the event was between Lang Hall and the President's House.
It was a beautiful night (thank you God!). The team pulled a generator with a flood light on a large pole and pointed this light from up high to the stage area. As it got dark this light served as a metaphor for what was going on. The light lit the stage area and the stage area lit up this night with God's truth. Students walking from campus to "the hill" couldn't help but hear and see this Christ-centered event.
There was singing, a teaching, a prayer walk and soft drinks served at the top of "the hill" and sandwiches (made by our Chuckwagon) served at the bottom of "the hill." The team have told me that many great conversations about faith and life took place on this beautiful homecoming evening. Some students walking by even iniated the conversations. I believe this is exactly the kind of ministry that Jesus would want his church to do.
Sometimes, I'm so proud of what our teams do in the name of Christ! I love the heart of so many of our staff and volunteers!


Monday Night Lincoln Center Leadership

>> Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On Monday night I was at the Lincoln Center Leadership Team. Sometimes I think of Lincoln Center as an isolated merger that is "out there in Grundy County." But isolated is not the reality. Rather, they have become "fully merged" very quickly!
Here's a partial list of how this small band of Christ-followers are already merging within the ministries of Orchard Hill--
6 people attended the Global Leadership Summit
4 people participated and raised funds for the Iowan's For Africa Marathon Team
3 people traveled with Route 55 Ministry to Inspiration Hills for work trip
3 people are participating in our Emerging Leaders class at Grundy Campus
5 men are attending the Grundy Men's Ministry
Several people are registered to attend the Spiritual Gifts Discovery Class
1 young mom is attending the Grundy Mom's Ministry which now meets at the Lincoln Center site.
This merger with Lincoln Center was definitely led by God and has gone better than I could have ever dreamed. Again, I stand "amazed and perplexed" by the work of God! (Acts 2:12)


God's Word in the Hands of Children!

>> Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A couple Sundays ago, my grandson Charlie got his Bible as an Orchard Hill second grader. Thinking of him walking across the stage to receive his very own Bible, as a gift from our church, really touched my heart. As Doug Tensen mentioned at that service, I still have the Bible I received as a kid from Orchard Hill on May 21, 1967. It's a treasure to me. I'm so please that our
I was in a meeting where we talked about giving age-appropriate Bibles at this years Christmas Store in Walnut Neighborhood. I couldn't help but think about what a powerful good way this is to use some of our resources. God's Word put into the hands of children who are eager to learn.


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