This past weekend was quite full for the family. Friday was an adventure, then we left to go back to Clinton for a couple of days for Ella’s birthday. We even got to go to the morning service of our old church. But was glad to be back home Sunday night for church here at The Orchard. [More on the weekend to come.]
And Pat brought it. He’s been going through a series called Enough. This past weekend’s sermon was on Beauty. It’s probably the “toughest” sermon he’s preached in a long while ever. So if you have a spare 37 minutes during a commute or waiting in the car line or while you take your morning 4 mile jog…give it a listen. You can find it here or on iTunes here.
I have been a subscriber of Relevant Magazine for about the last five or so years. It is a magazine aimed at Christian 20/30 somethings, but is not overly cheesy or cliche. I really like it. And I like their website a lot too. There’s new stuff up every day and they have great new music to find too (along with some older favorites). But the editor/publisher, Cameron Strang, has been sort of in the public light recently because of his acceptence and then decline of an invitation to pray at the DNC. He covers that quite effectively here.
But his First Word column in the magazine is usually a well thought out perspective on some important issues. The column in the Sept/Oct issue is a real thought provoker I believe. You can read the entire article here, but I’ll include a few quotes below as well. Let me know what you think.
I’m someone who tries to think independently and objectively, rather than simply follow what the pundits tell me to think. Because of that, I’ve realized I cannot fully embrace either political party. Both sides of the aisle have some great ideas and goals. But both also have areas where they simply get it wrong…
The problem is, many Christians vote these convictions, but that’s largely where their personal involvement in the issues stops. Are the government leaders we vote for meant to do our job for us?
I’ve heard that only 5 percent of people who attend church regularly actually serve in any way. I’ve read that if every Christian in America actually tithed 10 percent of their income, we would have enough financial resources to wipe out global poverty.
There’s more power lying dormant in pews around the nation than any government could hope to provide, and that’s where our focus should be.
If you have a passion for an issue, rather than judging someone who doesn’t share that passion or viewpoint, just go do something about it. Give your life to it. Be the change you want to see.
It’s not up to Washington, it’s up to us—and I say it’s time we step up and lead the charge. But that means with our lives, our finances and our actions every day. Not just Nov. 4.
10/13/2008 / Blake / Comments Off on Last Night was Invisible Children @ The Lyric.
Last night The Orchard was a host for a screening of the new Invisible Children Video, GO. You probably remember me talking a bit about it last week.
Suffice to say it was pretty amazing. The turnout was less than we expected and hoped for, but the event itself was a blast. The roadies from the IC were great. Very helpful, knowledgeable, and genuine. The movie was inspiring. It told the stories of three out of 15 high school students who were allowed to go to Africa and see the effects of the money they raised.
In turn it inspired some of them to make an even deeper commitment to helping the cause of children in northern Uganda.
And The Lyric Theater….it’s freaking amazing [or freakhog amazing]. It’s a great venue for a movie for sure. And I look forward to seeing some bands in there soon. But even the Roadies said that normally while the movie is showing they hang out at the merch table because they’ve seen/heard it so many times. But they said that The Lyric Theater in Oxford was by far the best venue they’ve been to in terms of video quality and sound quality. They said it was like watching the movie almost for the first time again.
All in all it was great night. Hope to have a better attended event next time. I think we learned a few things about getting the word out too.
Lastly, here is an older video from Invisible Children. It shows a bit about their Displace Me Campaign from a couple of years back. The more I see from these guys, the more I’m amazed with their video production skills. Plus, this video has one of my favorite songs in it too.
I first learned of The Invisible Children while at Passion 06 in Nashville. But in a nutshell, they’re an movement began by three young men after travelling to Africa and seeing the horrid atrocities occurring as unwanted children have fled Sudan in to Northern Uganda. There they have often been kidnapped and forced into war as child soldiers. Those three guys made a movie about what they say. It impacted a lot of people.
Invisible Children has made and is making a big difference in the lives of those children. And this weekend The Orchard in Oxford is partnering with them to bring their latest movie, GO, to The Lyric Theater on The Square in Oxford.
We set up a website for it today: InvisibleChildrenOxford.com.
Go visit it. Find out more. And attend the screening. October 12. The Lyric. 6pm.
Two videos below you should watch…
I’m still jazzed up a little for the experiences of Innovate 08. It was really (really) good.
But I’ve realized I need to guard against something.
From my many years as a student minister I have taken kids on lots of different trips. Weekend trips, mission trips, beach camps, fall retreats, ski trips, etc., etc. And in doing so, I usually see kids end the week with a “camp high”. You know, where by the end of the event Jesus is their best friend for life! And how they’re going to go back home and be working to change their town, their school, their church, their WORLD! They are fired up! They sing the lyrics to praise songs all the time, and they’re just waiting to hear someone say, “I love Jesus! Yes I do! I love Jesus! How ’bout you?!?” so they can scream back their own affirmation of love for their new best friend and Savior.
But in most cases, it takes roughly two weeks before that students are “back to normal“. Back to how things were before they left for camp. The passion dries up. The enthusiasm wanes. And their purpose in life shifts back to being popular or making good grades or not getting in trouble.
And I can see how the same can be said for adults. I mean, people left Innovate 08 with a drive and a passion for God’s Kingdom. Just like they’ll leave Catalyst next month and any and all other church leadership events you can think of. And they’ll be chock full of ideas and purpose and passion and motivation. I’m right there with them. But I don’t’ want to see any of us come back to “normal” like it was before the event.
I want to soak in what God taught me at Innovate. And to let Him show me what it all means for me and my calling specifically. Not to copy a program or idea or manner of any other church/ministry. But to see what God is calling US to do specifically. And to apply it humbly and faithfully.
09/17/2008 / Blake / Comments Off on Journey Bible Class @ Granger Community Church
Since I was here already, I figured I’d like to check out the GCC experience apart from the Innovate Conference. Since I won’t be here during a weekend service I wanted to check out one of the midweek Bible Classes. The guy who was working the front desk when I checked in [his name was Kyle] told me I should try Dr. Bob‘s class. He said Bob was a prof at Bethel College and a great teacher.
After I got in there, looked at his name again, it dawned on me: I know this guy! I mean, not personally, but I heard him teach at a youth weekend after my sophomore year in high school down in Mississippi. Small world, huh? I liked him then and I liked him now.
He taught on The Radical Jesus. And about how Jesus had radical grace. And He always chose grace over law. Here are a few points that were really good:
You love God exactly as much as you love the person you love the least. Meaning, who ever you love the least…that amount of love is how much you truly love God.
Jesus always chose people over policies.
We all exist in The Impossibility of Performance. Meaning we can never follow the rules well enough to always get it right. That’s why we need grace.
“Beware the anger of a patient man”
The Pharisees allowed the law to become their God.
Why is it easier to live by the law instead of by grace? Because it’s the safer choice. You don’t have to think. And it gives you a type of power (because you can look down on people who don’t follow the law well)
Gal 3:10 – “All who RELY on observing the law are under a curse.”
Well after finally getting into the room and cranking the AC up, I caught up on some email, took a shower to wash the air travel off of me, and took a nap. I had a headache. My alarm went off and I got up read to go to the Journey Bible Class at Granger. The headache was still there. And all I’d had to eat for the day was a muffin at 4:30am and cheese & crackers with Reese’s Pbutter cups at the airport. But I found some popcorn in the lobby as I left.
Without any wheels yet, I walked to the church. It is only a half mile. I kept looking for a BIG church building I’d see from a distance. But I didn’t. Which was cool. But the parking lot was filling and people were all filing in towards the front door. As I got there, immediately on my right was Connection Cafe, a little coffee bar and then some seating on the right as well. A nice lady w/ a nametag was saying to everyone at once, “I know it doesn’t look normal, but adults are taking the kids to their rooms!” I don’t think I looked lost, but anyway.
There were lots of people w/o being crowded.
I went to Bob Laurent‘s class he was teaching. It was on The Radical Jesus [I’ll post the notes in the next entry]. At first I didn’t clue into who Bob Laurent is. But he spoke at a youth weekend I was a part of back in 1990. I liked him a lot back then, and 18 years later I still liked his teaching. He’s pretty passionate. And there were LOTS of people there. Bob said 900. And I think with a big shift in what Granger’s mid week events used to be, that’s a pretty significant number.
But first impressions of Granger Community Church was A+. Now I can’t wait for Innovate tomorrow. I’m back in the hotel after stopping by Target for some toiletries and by Moe’s for some supper! Now I’m full and typing while watching John and Kate plus 8.
I’m sitting in the lobby of the hotel. I can’t get in just yet. The guy behind the counter says he sees the rooms blocked out for us, but can’t view the individual reservations. Merissa who made the reservations isn’t here yet, but I called her and she won’t have any different info for him because she doesn’t have the confirmation number. So, I’m sitting in the lobby. Wondering if I should try to walk over to Notre Dame vs paying $12 for a taxi ride there.
Granger Community Church is just about a half mile down the road, so I could walk down there and check it out. There are actually some going on tonight. I might give one of those a go to check out some of the changes that GCC is undergoing. Or I might go to bed early since I probably got 3 hours of sleep and have been on planes or rushing to them all day.
I got up at 4. Showered. Ate a muffin. Left for Tupelo. Flew to Memphis for a 37 minute layover. That means I rushed around to my next gate. Then I flew to Detroit. There I had another 37 minute layover. Interesting. But then I flew to South Bend and got a taxi to this hotel. So I could use some time on a bed infront of ESPN or something like that. And you can’t beat this wifi either.
But I know I won’t do that. I’m travelling, baby! Can’t be still for too long.
OH, and if things look different now and then, it’s because I’m trying out some new themes around the ole blog.
I had a friend that went last year and raved about it. And I read a few blogs of folks who had attended, and they said it was exceptional. My friend actually said, “It’s better than anything I’ve been to at Northpoint…” Those were some big words there.
So what am I looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to hearing Mark Beeson teach. He’s a gifted communicator and has pushed his church in so many creative ways. [I still find it interesting that he’s in a very “innovative” church, yet still preaches with a coat and tie each week. But hey, seems to be working for him!]
I’m looking forward to hearing Shawn Wood talk of their creative process of finding the sweet spot of who God created his church to be and who they are not. That way they are not trying to be a huge buffet of ministries, but being dang good at what they’re created to do.
Getting to hear Tim Stevens speak about recognizing and using culture to communicate the life changing truths of Jesus.
Attending the Granger Film Festival where churches bring their best vids from the last year or so for a competition.
Hearing Rob Wegner speak his heart about missions and how to impact the local community for The Kingdom.
To be able to hear Kathy Guy speak on the small group strategies of GCC and how it makes a difference in their people. Might even get to grab lunch w/ her at some point.
Steven Furtick will tell the stories of how his church has had a wild growth as it’s barely 2 years old. And the struggles and processes they’ve gone trough. And I want to see his weird hair in person.
Plus, I hope to be able to walk around the campus of Notre Dame while I’m there too.
And there will be some good companions from The Orchard in Tupelo to be with.
I will have frequent updates and maybe some pics/video of stuff while I’m there. I’ll “take you along” so to speak.
Yesterday was a big day for us at The Orchard. Probably our biggest service ever. We had over 150 folks there when you count the children and teachers for their classes. There was such an energy in the room.
Services start at 10:30 on Sunday mornings. And at about 10:20ish, it looked to be a normal Sunday morning. Summers have been a little slow for us in a few ways, while at the same time adding quite a few new couples and families. And even when Pat finally shooed everyone into the worship room at 10:33 it still seemed like a regular Sunday. But there was a little more energy to the room. But as Matthew began to welcome people and started the first song, people kept coming into the room. And then more. And more and more.
We were having to continually take chairs off the racks and set them up in the back. And then we ran out of room in the back and had to set them up along the side. It was packed. Part of it was that school started for Ole Miss today, so there were a lot of college students back in town who had been Orchard attenders. And part of it was new college students checking us out for the first time.
There also were a few friends from my old youth group who drove up from Mississippi State to spend the morning with us too. And…I was the one preaching that morning. It was more teaching about why we value Small Groups at The Orchard, and why we see Biblical precedents for them too. We launch SGroups next week and wanted to hit them good. But I was pretty confident about the morning.
So all in all, it was a great morning. And lunch afterward was good to catch up with some old friends. The video above is dark. I know. But I tried to use my Macbook to capture some quick video. It was still plugged into a few cords and cables. So it’s shakey too.
But we fell that big things are on the way for The Orchard. Be in prayer for us.