Powerful Morning at Christmas in Walnut

>> Saturday, December 8, 2012

Begin with a delicious breakfast at Harvest Vineyard Church on a beautiful December 8, Saturday morning. 

Add to that 400 enthusiastic and cheerful volunteers, 2500 Christmas toys, 50 dozen cookies, 400 families who've come for some help in purchasing toys for their children and grandchildren.   What do you have?  A very powerful morning at Christmas in Walnut.

This morning was amazing and I believe, pleasing to God!  Christmas in Walnut Year 3 was a huge success in every way we could have imagined.  Great gifts, powerful prayers, every family took home a book of the true Christmas Story and again our partnership with the Boys & Girls Club and Harvest Vineyard was built even stronger.

Here are some of the parents standing in line outside the Boys and Girls Club waiting to get inside the Christmas Store.  The average wait to get inside was about 10 minutes.

These are two pictures of the Christmas Craft Workshop which gave children the opportunity to make both Christmas decorations and Christmas gifts.  I love that this project gives everyone an opportunity to be a "giver!"  The children give by making crafts, parents give by purchasing great toys at very reduced prices (the money is then invested in the neighborhood and schools), our volunteers give their service and joy, and our church and community give the gifts.  Everyone is a giver!

These two pictures show the shoppers and their personal shopper who gets to know them (a little) and helps in any way possible as they choose their toys.

We are grateful to God for this opportunity!


Christmas in Walnut Stories

>> Thursday, December 6, 2012

The stories are so powerful and good.  So many people are pulling together to make our Christmas project in Walnut Neighborhood happen and help up to 500 families have gifts for their children under their tree this Christmas.  We have so many opportunities to explain again and again the process of helping financially under-resourced families in a way that builds thheir self-respect.

Stores have given our shoppers huge discounts because of the heart and strategy of the project:  Toys R Us, Kohls, Blain's Farm Fleet, Hobby Lobby, Scheels, Walgreens and others.

Last night our high school students heard a strong talk on God's design for sexuality and then went out with small groups and purchased gifts for these families.  We calculated their investment in the project at $2500.  A huge thank you to the students (and parents who provided some of the funds.)

A family with four older children from another church just came and delivered $450 worth of gifts.  They decided this money was better spent on others than on themselves this Christmas.  What a powerful decision for them to make!

Here are some pictures of the joy we find in helping others.  Our Sunday morning Children's Ministry raised enough funds to purchase 157 books for the families we will be serving this weekend.

Here are some of the small groups returning from shopping last evening.  How cool is this that students are focused upon other students who have less this Christmas.

Please join me in praying that Saturday's Christmas In Walnut will be a huge encouragement to families as they eat breakfast together, attend the Christmas Craft Workshop and the Christmas Store.


Everyone a full participant!

>> Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In this picture, one of our youngest partners is adding her toys to the pile of toys to be distributed at our Christmas Store.  I loved this picture the moment that I saw it.  This little girl helped choose the toys and then helped deliver them to the church.  Wow.  She is actually an important part of our church.  She can be a giver at 2 or 3 years old.  I love this part of the church.  Everyone gets to be a full participant!

I see full participation everywhere in the church and I see it in the scriptures.  Jesus chose 12 very different guys upon which to build His church, and each one had the opportunity to be a full participant in his cause.  When he congratulated the 5 talent servant and the 2 talent servant with exactly the same words, in the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25), they were both full participants.  They gave according to what they had.

I saw it a couple weeks ago, when a group of high school guys, joined some others in serving communion to our church family.  Brad Hillebrand said, "It was so great for the guys.  Mayor Buck Clark went into "youth director mode"  huddling the guys up and said, 'whatever you do, don't spill the juice!"  These young guys did an inspiring job of serving communion.

Tomorrow night the high school small groups will journey to Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and buy toys for Christmas in Walnut with their own funds. If you're out shopping at 8:00 p.m. you might want to stand aside.  Last year the enthusiasm was both chaotic and filled with joy! Again, full participation!

Saturday, some of our youngest members were the entertainment and the program for our Route 55 Christmas program.  I heard it was awesome.  I heard it was like a "holy moment" with people sitting on the edge of their seats.  Again, full participation by throwing in gifts that God has given to each of us.

I hope and pray that the people of Orchard will continue to look for ways to encourage others and engage themselves as full participants.  The scripture that I cannot get out of my head this week is, "To whom much is given, much is required."

I know for sure that I've been given a lot.


January 2013 will focus upon family!

>> Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last night our Family Task Force met for the 6th month.  The goal of this task force is to help Orchard ministries provide tools and experiences for families to be Christ-centered in their homes and neighborhoods.  Our goal is that every parent would understand that they are the primary spiritual coach for their children.

Our teaching team is excited to focus January 2013 Sunday morning teachings upon helping all of us be stronger and better families.  Watch for more details and plan to learn a lot about being Christ-centered families.

So, on Wednesday mornings, I walk 3 of my grandchildren to Orchard Hill School.   My wife, Linda, is in preparation for our Mom's Morning Out Program and this is my one morning each week to be with the kids.  It's never a simple walk when grandpa is along.  This morning it involved climbing a tree on the way.  Here's some pictures....

I have so much to learn from my grandkids about joy and fun!  They can find fun in so many places that I would think is a simple walk to school.

One practice that I have started to implement is that on my walk home alone, I pray for them, their school, the staff and all of the schools that are in session on this particular morning.  Many of the teachers at Orchard Hill attend our church and I know so many others are active Christ-followers in other churches.

I encourage you to find practices that become disciplines that are regular times of praying!


It was a celebration!

>> Tuesday, November 20, 2012

For some of my friends who lead large churches, the day of the Annual Church Business Meeting is one of the worst days of the year.  It can be a day of uncertainty, strife and division within the local congregation.  It can be a day when politics within the church raises its head.  It can be a day when the mission of the congregation gets lost in the details of the business of the congregation.  It can be discouraging.  Many people experience that within their local congregations.

At Orchard we had our "annual business meeting" on Sunday evening.  We call it the Annual Church Celebration.  It has become one of our very good days as a congregation.  We have moved the focus from doing business to celebrating all that God has and is doing within our local congregation.  We had 225 of our leaders and congregational members together to worship, share and pray for our staff and our church leaders.

It was a blast with outstanding and moving worship.  George and Judy Marshal, who are the pastors of our partner congregation Harvest Vineyard Church, said to me, "That was great worship!"     People told moving stories about their children coming to Jesus, about their college students being saved from destruction, about the Youth Art Team and its huge mural, about the Connect and Care Team who visit shut-ins and others who are struggling.

It was powerful.

We have chosen to do our business by mail in ballot which then allows for our current practice which is to celebrate all that God is doing in and through Orchard.  In the above picture people are choosing from many desserts and appetizers.

Here I am interviewing Angie and Elna Dieken about our merger with Lincoln Center and how they see this transition.

Here Maribeth Boelts and Jo Dorhout are encouraging our staff and preparing to lead our congregation in a prayer of help and encouragement for our staff.


19 Baptisms and many people in church this morning!

>> Sunday, November 4, 2012

What a grand morning.  We did a total of what turned out to be 17 infant baptisms in which parents promised to raise their children for Christ.  What a powerful time with Doug and Tim up front doing the baptisms.

Doug and Jeff also did two baptisms by immersion of college students who are now followers of Jesus Christ.  It is such a powerful picture for young people and parents to take spiritual steps like this. 

This really matters!  Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who serve every week by parking cars, seating the crowds, doing childcare and Children's Ministry, making coffee and all of the other responsibilities that allow all of this happen in Christ's church. 


It's Not About Numbers???

>> Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sometimes I sit in meetings and I hear the phrase, "it's not about numbers!"

I know the true thing that people are trying to say.  People are trying to remind us that our work for God must be about something deeper and more true and more important than numbers.  I agree with that.

But, what I usually think at that point, is that numbers most often tell a story that is true and exciting and important.  Sometimes we should absolutely celebrate numbers for what they reflect and tell us.  We ought to thank God for the numbers and the story behind the numbers!

Here are some numbers that I'm thanking and praising God for this Saturday morning:

15--young people who stood up at our Big House Student Ministry event on Halloween to make a first time commitment to Jesus!  Also at our CHAOS Junior High Event on the same evening many other students made some first time commitments and re-commitments to following Jesus.

14 & 2--baptisms we will do on Sunday morning this week.  14 is the number of parents who are bringing their infants to be dedicated to God.  I love this because they are making the commitment (the promise) to God to do everything in their power to raise these little ones to become followers of Jesus Christ.  I've oftened wondered what could be more on our church mission than this kind of a promise.  And the 2 represents the college students who will be baptised as followers of Christ in the 11:01 service.

382--the number of coats that our congregation gave to be to be distributed at Harvest Vineyard Church in Walnut Neighborhood today.  We had a goal of 300 which I thought was way out of the park because this is our third year of doing the project.  How many coats do people have hanging in their closets?  But thanks to the faithfulness and giving hearts of our people, we again have exceeded our goal and God could use these coats to keep 382 people warm this winter!

I would encourage you to celebrate and thank God for these kind of numbers.  Maybe the next time someone says, "it's not about numbers!" you will have a little different thought.

I'm sure thanking God this morning for my privilege to be a part of the ministry of Orchard Hill Church.  Here's some pictures of the coats!


Beyond our walls!

>> Monday, October 29, 2012

So much of our ministry is beyond our walls.  We work heavily in the following communities:
Gorongosa, Mozambique,
Pignon, Haiti
Walnut Neighborhood in Waterloo
Grundy County
and within the Cedar Valley where we have our Cedar Falls campus.

As I looked at this picture of our Cedar Falls campus taken from a hot air balloon this past weekend, I was reminded of several things:

1.  What we do inside the walls of this 59,000 square foot building is important.
2.  This facility is a gift of God to be used for His glory
3.  Many people have come to know Jesus on this 20 acre campus
4.  We continue to make this campus available to our community--tomorrow night the CF Cross Country Team will have their sports banquet on our Community Center
5.  This is simply the gathering place for those in our church who are out being "salt and light" 24/7


Have you seen the HUGE MURAL?

>> Friday, October 19, 2012

Youth Art Team paints a huge mural in 12 days!

24 students painted a new mural that covers approimately 1600 square feet on the Plaid Peacock, a highly visible two-story building in downtown Waterloo.

These students met Jessica Young this summer, toured the shop, researched at the Waterloo Public Library and sketched out their ideas.  After Plaid Peacock approved the team's mural proposal, students picked up paint brushes, scaled ladders and scaffolding, and painted their largest mural yet.

Team members' ages range from five to 18.  While the effort required help from more than 20 adult volunteers, only students were allowed to draw and paint, guaranteeing they would claim the finished piece as their own piece of art.

The Youth Art Team believes that as God transforms lives, he transforms the spaces in which we live.  Check out the new mural, visible from Highway 218 between Waterloo's RiverLoop Public Market and under-construction Cedar Valley SportsPlex.

"I am sure they don't realize how their artwork affects so many other people," said Jessica Young.  "I think it is something the kids should know--how what they do has an effect on so many people!"

Every time I drive by and see the mural, a smile breaks out on my face.  I love how that 1600 sqaure foot mural brings light to our community.  I love that the students did every part of it including the research and planning.  I'm so proud of these young people!

Also check out  www.YouthArtTeam.blosgspot.com


Big House and CHAOS have great starts!

>> Thursday, September 6, 2012

Passing the baton of faith to Next Generations is a huge core value at Orchard Hill Church.  This value of reaching next generations with the message of Christ has been a core value since the very earliest days of Orchard beginning in the basement of the founding pastor's home.

This calling on Orchard to reach Next Generations has been affirmed in so many ways.  Many of us on staff have been Student Ministry Directors and we continue to have a heart for the development of faith in the hearts and minds of young people.  The list of those who have been full-time staff reaching out to next generations includes:  Ed Baker, Dave Bartlett, Tim Boettger, Pat Oehler, Doug Tensen, Kris Hoskinson, Laura Hoy, and Jesse Henkle.  Add to that list our current Student and Children's Ministry Staff and Orchard has much passion to unleash for reaching the Next Generation.

God is doing amazing things this fall with Student Ministry for Junior and Senior High students in Grundy Center.  Mike Brost and Stef Rohler leading junior and senior high outreaches.  They have had a powerful start.  Both Big House and CHAOS on the Cedar Falls campus is also having powerful

Our outreach to high school people which is currently called Big House has a 27 year history.  Take a look at this video which was used at the first meeting of Big House to inform students of the history of this event.

Link to see the video

I'm so grateful to be a part of a local congregation that has reacjomg Next Generations as such a core value.


50th Anniversary Celebration Focuses on our Future!

>> Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sunday was a great morning at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center as Orchard people from our 2 campuses (4 worship sites) gathered together for two worship services.

We gathered to remember what God had done and to prepare ourselves for what He will do in our future.  This gathering which had an attendance of 2,122 people and then this was followed by a lunch in our Cedar Falls facility for which the first 150 members of Orchard were invited including our Charter Members.

Here's a picture of our Charter Members who attended the lunch.  What an amazing history these folks have at Orchard.

Here's a picture of our Charter Members and their children who were a part of the founding of our church.  These people were a part of the small group that first met in the basement on Clearview Drive.

Our focus upon the future of our church was captured in the following four thoughts--

1.  It is a privilege to serve Christ...not a duty!
2.  Following Christ into the future always requires courage!
3.  We will all have "Surely not, Lord" moments where we are totally surprised by where Christ wants to take His Church.
4.  God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine!

The key verse for our celebration was Ephesians 3:20

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ jesus throughout all generations, for ever, and ever! Amen"


Global Summit Inspires and Challenges

>> Saturday, August 11, 2012

Three years ago Willow Creek asked us to consider being a Premiere Satellite Site for the Global Leadership Summit.  It was an honor to be asked but I drug my feet on this one.  Did we really want to make the staff and energy investment in this event during the first weeks of August when we were already working so hard to get our fall ministries ready for takeoff.  On top of that, I loved getting away to go to Chicago each August with a small team of folks from Orchard to attend the Summit there.

Our Management Team and the Leadership Board both thought we should do it and so we took it on.  In three years this has become a powerful spiritual event for many in our congregation and the entire Cedar Valley.

Most of our staff and Leadership Board attended.  In fact 269 people from our congregation alone attended this powerful and spiritual challenge these last two days.  God's Spirit was present and we have become one of the larger satellite sites with over 550 participants from 35 churches and many different businesses.

Our staff and volunteers did fantastic and served all of these churches and business teams so very well.  Here's a picture of some of our volunteers....

Here are some other pictures to give you a sense of the magnitude and power of this event.  We are so thankful to God for His work through Orchard's partnership with Willow Creek and the Global Summit.


Beautiful Day for Baptisms

>> Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sunday was a beautiful day for baptisms.  We had 14 infant baptisms in our morning services and then 21 baptisms at the lake on Sunday afternoon. 

As each lake baptism took place, Doug read the testimony of each of the participants.  Approximately (my guess) 200 people cheered these followers of Christ on in this new commitment they were making.  The event is always deeply moving to my heart as I watch both young and old take next steps in their journey with Jesus.

I love the way that we allow for all types of baptisms and parent dedications as so many people from so many different backgrounds follow Jesus here at Orchard.  It was a great day!


Sometimes I'm so glad....

>> Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sometimes, I'm so glad to be a part of the church family at Orchard Hill Church!

Yesterday morning I arrived at our building at 7:00 a.m. and Melinda Cook was waiting by the entrance to deliver a cake for Drake Martin's funeral dinner before she left town for the day.  I opened the door and thanked her.  Before long, salads and desserts were be carried in one after another by women who mostly were on their way to work. 

The stream of desserts and salads continued as volunteers from our church family arrived to prepare and serve the lunch for Drake's family. Drake's daughters wanted this dinner to have a party atmosphere so our volunteers helped decorate the tables.  Our sound, music and tech volunteers helped with the music in the funeral service.   I believe very few of our volunteers personally knew Drake Martin, who died from a fall at Backbone State Park about a week ago.  But they were eager and willing to serve this member of their church family.

This is simply one small picture from among many each month.  It is a privilege to be "salt and light" in the name of Jesus Christ!


Caravan Return Worship Service

>> Monday, July 30, 2012

The Sunday on which our Caravan Trip of high school students returns is always a highlight for our entire congregation.  Yesterday, at the 10:45 service, we heard stories, listened to voluntteers and staff and saw a video which included student testimonies.   A few less than 200 participants had just returned from our high adventure trip to New York City. 

Because I have participated in more than 30 Caravans this event really, really touches my heart.  I see the sacrifice of the staff people who give so much.  I see the appreciation of parents who desperately want their children to walk with Christ.  And I see the life-change that has taken place year after year in the lives of students.  I notice the commitment of volunteers who pay their own way and take their vacation time to be with the students.

I remember in the old days when we would return from the trip and people would ask, "How was the trip?"  The answer I wanted to give and sometimes did give was this, "We will need to wait 10 to 20 years to really see if God used the trip for permanent life-change."

Well, it's been 10 to 20 years and I'm pretty sure God has used this trip and the prayers and commitment of the Caravan staff.  The trip is led by people (Tim & Ben) whose lives were changed.  And many of the volunteers have had their lives strengthened and encouraged.

Here's some pictures of the crowd at the Caravan Return Service--


Powerful Evening Opening Time Capsules!

>> Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It was a powerful evening.  Over 100 people gathered in the sanctuary to hear from Charter Members who were part of starting Orchard Hill Church and then we would open two time capsules--one had been closed for 50 years and the other for 20 years.

There was a time for prayer, worship and lots of story telling.  Charter members and their children came forward to share stories of their first memories and stories of spiritual impact.  It was a emotionally moving to hear the stories.  Cathy Humke and Harold DeBeer shared their memories of the first worship services that took place in the basement of Pastor Al Moss's home on Clearview Drive. 

Mary Ellen Meier shared the spiritual impact of walking through so very much change while our church has constantly been committed to reaching young families.  She shared a story of hearing two teenage girls walking through the lobby of the church and hearing one of the girls ask the other, "Don't you just love coming to this church?"    Mary Ellen said this just confirmed in her heart again that we are doing the right things.

I was so struck again that the DNA of our church family has been from the very beginning--50 years ago:

1.  Reach next generations and young families
2.  Serve our community in the name of Jesus
3.  Partner with other churches who are committed to do these things

The oldest time capsule was filled with newspapers with articles about the start-up of Orchard, a Bible, bulletins and programs.  The 20-year time capsule was filled with letters from church members to their children, grandchildren and spouses.

God is good.  It was a powerful evening.


Crazy Good Family Adventures!

>> Saturday, July 14, 2012

Two of the past three weeks I have been on Family Adventures.  It's been crazy good to be with our own core family and with many of our church families!

Our family (9 adults & 10 grandchildren) spent a week at Baker Reserve in Minneapolis.  Five days and nights at the beach, around the campfire, playing bag toss, visiting the zoo and having great times of talking around the campfire.  This is a true family camp and my wife, Linda, and I love every minute of it in spite of the heat and mosquitoes.  God is good.  We have been blessed to be a blessing for sure.

Here's some pictures--

 Sand and water is all that is needed for an afternoon of fun for our four granddaughters!

Erin gives instruction at the beginning of a craft time!

Yesterday, Linda and I returned from 6 days with our Orchard Hill West Family Camping trip.  It also was amazingly good.  Approximately 75 adults and 75 kids spent the week at Mahoney State Park near Lincoln, Nebraska.  It's a beautiful park and the families just loved their time together.  It's basically a family vacation with some church community and spiritual input.  Each morning I led the group in small groups so that people could get to know each other at a deeper level.  I believe that people loved this opportunity to share with each other.

Each evening we would gather for a report from the day and some spiritual focus.  It always has an amazing impact upon families and this year was no exception.  Each evening, we heard stories about how past trips had touched and changed lives.

One verse I brought to the group was I Thessalonians 2:8 where the apostle Paul writes to the church in this city and says, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very lives as well."  These trips are about sharing the gospel of God but also our very lives as well!

These pictures may give you a feel for the event--

 Kids starting to gather for the Children's activities led by some of the parents!
A look at the center of our camp where we had sessions and ate meals!

Again, what a privilege to be a part of a very active and alive congregation!


Sometimes we need to see through the eyes of children!

>> Monday, June 11, 2012

 Here is pastor Ed telling a Bible Story at the kick-off for Vacation Bible School!
 Many young people are leading our children in worship for this year's Bible School!
The Sunday night picnic was attended by many, many young families who enjoyed some great food and friendship together!

Last evening I had the privilege of sitting with three of my grandchildren during the Family Worship Kick-off of this year's Vacation Bible School.  Most of my attention was focused upon the faces of my grandchildren as the program was presented.

It was awesome to watch my grandchildren respond to the worship, dancing, Bible story, picnic and a remote controlled blimp.  They began quite hestitant and then as the program progressed they loosened up and began to enjoy.  I watched their faces closely trying to perceive what was going on in their heads and hearts.

I left very encouraged that this year's Bible School is going to plant some serious seeds of truth and light into the heads and hearts of our children.  Please join me in praying for our staff, our volunteers and all of the children who will attend.


The Church is People--Plain and Simple!

>> Sunday, June 3, 2012

The church is people!   Plain and simple.  It's not a building, a service, a ministry or even a set of beliefs.  It's people.  I'm so grateful we have such good people as a part of our church family.   Here's a recent picture of most of our staff following a Monday morning staff meeting.  Three of our staff were in Africa and a couple were involved in other projects.  We have an inspired and committed staff who are called by God to lead our church family.  It's an honor to partner with them.

It's Sunday evening, June 3 and I'm thinking about all of the interactions I had with so many different people in our lobbies this morning.  Twelve hundred people at our Cedar Falls campus this morning and each of them have their own story, their own needs, and many of them have a personal relationship with Jesus.  It's so good to hear the stories, the needs, the inspirations and encouragements.

We watched an 8 minute video of Steve Furtick from his Global Leadership Summit talk entitled Audacious Faith.  In the talk he described the need from 2 Kings 3 to "dig ditches" in our lives to prepare to receive the blessings of God.  I then challenged people to figure out what ditch God would have them dig--what commitment they could make to God in order to allow Him the access to grow them spiritually.

People seemed inspired to ask that important question for the summer.  If you are able, go to our website  www.orchardhillchurch.org and register for the Global Leadership Summit on August 9-10 this summer.


Say a prayer of thanks this Memorial Day!

>> Friday, May 25, 2012

In May of 1868, General John Logan first proclaimed Memorial Day as a day to remember those who had died in our nation's service.  By 1890 many individual states had declared Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, a holiday.  In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act which included Memorial Day as a national holiday and an annual three day weekend for federal employees.

My Confession
I keep forgetting the ultimate purpose of Memorial Day is to remember those who have died in service to our country.  I wonder if maybe people in our congregation also forget.  This three day weekend is busy and filled with so much fun, family, and travel.

Prayer of Remembrance
On Sunday we will say a special prayer of remembrance for those who have died serving our country--thanking God for their service and sacrifice.  Maybe, you could remember to say a similar prayer on Memorial Day.  It is such a privilege to live in a free and prosperous nation.  This is an incredible gift of God for us!

Taylor Morris
This reminds me to pray also for Taylor Morris, who is a friend to many in our congregation.  Taylor was was seriously injured in Afganistan recently when he stepped on an IED during a Green Beret Patrol.  He is the grandson of Sid Morris, the son of Dan and Julie Morris and his sister Claire often attends our 11:01 service.


All this in only two days!

>> Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So many good things happen in a couple of days!  God is at work in many different ways and I want to be sure to celebrate God and all He does.

On Saturday a team of 7 returned from Atlanta inspired to make a difference in our families.  We had attended the Orange Conference at a Civic Center there.

Below is a picture of 5 guys who were baptised in the Cedar River on Sunday afternoon by Jeff Mickey, our college director.  Yes, it was cold!  But they did it anyway.  Their testimonies were strong and amazing.  This was a symbol of their new life in Christ.

 Following a cold baptism!

That same night we had a prayer sendoff for this year's mission team to Gorongosa, Mozambique.  This is a talented, faithful team of people who will serve within our target community and many will visit the children that they sponsor there.  Orchard families support almost 300 children in this area of Africa.  This support provides education, faith encouragement, medicine and strengthening of the entire community.  It's powerful!
Go Mozambique Team 2012!

On the same Sunday we finished our teaching series, Stories from the Seats!  Such authentic stories by regular people whose lives are touched by God.  You can find these by clicking on Orchard's Home Page--Listen to teaching.  

On Monday we had a work day with more than 50 people serving to spruce up our Cedar Falls campus--we saw commitment, joy, fellowship and great skills.

On Monday evening, we had our second meeting with New Members and about 35 people desire to join our mission of ....Helping people become fully devoted followers of Christ!

Like I said, so many good things that God does in only two days!  Yea God!


Stories from the Seats!

>> Monday, April 16, 2012

I love hearing the current teaching series that we call Stories from the Seats. This is our 4th or 5th year of doing stories and they have been so very well received by our congregation. We do this after Easter hoping that the stories will encourage our Easter visitors to come back the following Sundays. I saw some of our Easter visitors back yesterday. That's a great thing.

Yesterday Rick Schupback, Caleb Hamer, Laura Hoy and Bob Hennessey shared in our four different worship sites. We will add Jesse Brogan this week and that will complete the list of those who will be sharing their narratives and testimonies.

It takes so much courage and faith to stand in front of our large congregation and vulnerably share the brokeness, the lessons and the blessings of God throughout our lives. Many of these stories are powerful testimonies that relate the power of God's Spirit within a life. These folks share not because they have it all together. They share because God has it all together and it's His power that they depend upon.


This one's for you Jesus....Not in vain!

I've been thinking about this since Easter. In the Community Center services my teaching included the verses 1 Corinthians 15:57-58:

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord means that each of us must stop and think carefully about what assignments God has given to us in this era of our lives. We are called to raise children, invest in a marriage, walk with an aging parent, or serve the church or community in some major role, build a business or teach a classroom of students. What is our assignment? Whatever it is, we must do it fully!

And then the verse closes with the words, "not in vain." Our work counts for Christ. It matters. It really matters. God is watching. He is taking note of our hearts and our motivations and our actions. It matters to Him.

I hope you will see your life in these phrases and often repeat them as you face challenges in your day--"This one is for you Jesus!" And then right away remind yourself, "Not in vain!"



>> Friday, March 9, 2012

Our daily scripture yesterday was Genesis 28: 10-22. I was struck all day by the if...then promises made by Jacob at the end of those verses. Verses Genesis 28:20-22 read like this,

"Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to werar so that I return safely to my father's house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

These verses made me remember some of the "if...then...promises" that I have made to God and even some that our church continues to make to God.

I remember ....

(30+ years ago) If you'll help our newly born twins to live (Joel and Emily), then I'll serve you wholeheartedly the rest of my life.

(30+ years ago) If you'll provide for the essential needs for our family, then I'll give my best in ministry pointing people to Jesus and helping others become fully devoted followers of Christ.

(Recently) If you'll walk with me and give me the health and strength needed, then I'll continue to focus and invest in the ministry of Orchard Hill Church.

(Recently) If you choose to give us a growing family (now 10 grandchildren), then we will serve them and pray for them and do our part to help them know Christ.

For our church....

If you give us the opportunity, then we will remember that the church belongs to Jesus (He died to give us life) and surrender to your Spirit's leading.

If you give us resources, then we will, to our very best, steward them faithfully for you and your kingdom.

If you continue to trust us with a growing congregation, then we will faithfully work to help them become fully devoted followers of Christ.

God is so very gracious! I wonder if you can look back and remember any of the "if....then...promises" that you have made to God?


Gifts that really make a difference!

>> Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Every Sunday morning we pass the offering bags/plates/buckets in each of our services. Faithful people, who love God, put financial gifts into those containers and those gifts make a huge difference in the world. All of the gifts given in Christ's name are used to spread the good news and build God's kingdom within our 5 communities. Every dollar given is used for our mission.

Many spontaneous and generous gifts have been given during these last months. One family gave a gift so that major improvements could be made to the orphanage that we partner with in Haiti. Another family gave a gift so that the children in Gorongosa, Mozambique could have a shelter for their Bible Club--see the picture above. Very soon the children will be able to meet in spite of rain and be protected from some of those who would disrupt their club due to being intoxicated. The school funded by our Marathon Team is about 1/2 finished. Another family gave a large financial gift to our Cup of Cold Water Fund so that we could keep helping local people have food, heat and children's supplies.

I am often overwhelmed by the generosity and love of our congregation. Thank you for listening to God's whisper and responding with generosity.


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