Sunday, April 12, 2015

youth art team prepares for urban gallery installation

The Youth Art Team began a spring Urban Gallery project yesterday with a trip to Des Moines to learn about Public Art!

Thanks to David for giving his Saturday to lead us through the Historical Museum and help us to consider aspects of creating public art for our community.

The team stood in front of CARE, a trash receptacle that shares a message with the 6th Ave. Corridor Neighborhood.

An artist in the 6th Ave. Corridor Neighborhood encouraged the Youth Art Team to keep lifting their voices and sharing their ideas with our community.

We came home from Des Moines and met today for our first big learning and planning session.  Thanks to the Behrends Family for making team snacks and decorating them with awesome Scripture and pictures!

Heidi reminded the team what an urban gallery installation is all about.

Waterloo Historians, Bob Neymeyer and Annette Freeseman, led a tour through downtown Waterloo, sharing many interesting stories and pictures from the past.

After the downtown tour, four lifetime residents shared about their memories of Downtown.  They talked of going to the movies, shopping, and what life was like before cell phones.  They also spoke of the power of love to overcome adversity in life, how love can change even the hardest of hearts, and how love can overcome segregation and bring people together.  

Students recapped the day through sketches, lists, and sharing what stories and details had stuck with them from the tour and interviews.  
Our guests joined us in our closing prayer circle and Youth Art Team cheer.

Can't wait to see what God will inspire and create through this team, as they bring a message of hope and beauty to Downtown Waterloo.  Praying that it all points to the one who redeems and reconciles all things- Jesus!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

dietrich bonhoeffer

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's death at the hand of the Nazis.  I read the book Bonhoeffer a few years back, and his life so emboldened me.  Disciple of Jesus, Prophet, Friend.  His life in the Kingdom of God was so compelling!  Some of my favorite quotes of his...

Peacemakers will bear the cross with their Lord, for peace was made at the cross.

We pray for big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.

Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.  not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.

You can only learn obedience by obeying.

The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of one's life to a larger goal.

There can only be a community of peace when it does not rest on lies and injustice.

Jesus calls men, not to a new religion, but to life.

The church is the church only when it exists for others.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.

Your life as a Christian should make nonbelievers question their disbelief in God.

May God in his mercy lead us through these times; but above all, may he lead us to himself.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Days for Girls

Orchard Hill Church friends recently produced reusable feminine hygiene kits for young women in Haiti so that they may continue their education and go about their lives in their community during their menstrual periods.  Orchard has a partnership with UCI in Haiti, and a team of Orchard college students will personally get to deliver these kits and provide some education with them next week.

This idea was conceived through Days for Girls, an organization that delivers washable feminine hygiene kits to girls in more than 60 countries so that they may attend school more regularly and complete more years of education.

Listening to the community and partnering to meet real felt needs!

Friday, March 6, 2015


I listened to this Rich Nathan audio teaching today while driving about town.  Loved so many points about being a both-and church.

Nathan talks about the past's Great Divorce of evangelism and social justice, and he spends time talking about the Church coming back to holistic, Biblical Christianity. He used some great examples from Scripture about the vertical and horizontal relationship of both-and.

In 1 King 18, Elijah confronted the fake prophets about idolatry (vertical sin) and then in 1 King 21, Elijah confronts King Ahab about stealing land and murdering Naboth (horizontal sin).  The prophets address idolatry and injustice.  Both-and.

In Micah 6:8, towards people we are to act justly and love mercy.  Towards God we are to walk humbly.  Both-and.

Jeremiah 19:4..  "For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods (vertical)..and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. (horizontal)"  Idolatry and injustice.  Both-and.

Love God.  Love people.  Both-and.

R. Nathan spends time talking about how great revivals and missionaries have always been about both-and, and then he finishes with two parables from the New Testament that depict the both-and nature of God's call and provision for us.

The Prodigal Son                                            The Good Samaritan

He was a victim of his own sin.                        He was a victim of the sins of others.

He modeled personal sin.                                 He modeled social sin.
God loves the lost.                                           God loves the least.
He was rescued by forgiveness.                         He was rescued by charity and justice.
Some refuse the call of evangelism.                   Some refuse the call of social justice.

The Church can offer Good News for those who are in bondage by their own sin and those who are also in bondage due to other people's sin.  Both-and.

Take a listen...he speaks well of a holistic Gospel.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

the least are the greatest

Yesterday, I was sitting in a weekly Bible study at our partner church, Harvest.  A small group of us was listening to "Shaking the System", a sermon by Rich Nathan on how to confront systemic sin. Somewhere about 2/3 of the way into listening, R. came in with a friend and sat down.  I know R. from summer picnics in the park and occasional conversations at Harvest.   In warmer weather, I see R. about town on her bike.  I know she has lived on the street, and I'm also aware that mental illness is present; she'll sometimes use a small child's voice and other times, a deep, masculine voice.  

R. and her friend sat and listened to the remaining part of the teaching with us.  Afterward, we always take turns around the group to share a reflection from the teaching.  R. raised her hand first, and though she didn't respond to the teaching, her words were pure and true and good.  She told the group that she wanted to say something about Jesus.  And how Jesus doesn't want people to go hungry.  And how Jesus would have us pray for our sick friends.  

Somewhere in the middle of another person's sharing, R. raised her hand again, and as Judy called on her, R. asked if she could give the closing prayer when we were done.  "Of course," Judy said.

After some heavy sharing regarding the tough nature of systemic sin, R. walked up front and prayed us out.  The prayer was childlike and from the heart.  The presence of the Kingdom of God among us. I am so thankful for our partner church who welcomes R. as a contributing member of the community.  Who values her input and and her faith.  This is but one encounter that teaches me so much about the hospitality of Jesus, humility, the upside down Kingdom, and the intrinsic dignity and value of each human being in our community.  Thank you, Harvest friends, for your faithfulness and for the gift that you are.    

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Evangelical Immigration Table

We are so thankful for Matt Soerens and Liz Dong's visit to Orchard Hill Church last week to share with us about God's heart and His Word concerning immigrants, along with current immigration statistics, laws, and stories which exposed the need for immigration reform in our country.  Learn more through Evangelical Immigration Table's website here.


Our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other’s positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. This false choice has led to an unacceptable political stalemate at the federal level at a tragic human cost.
We urge our nation’s leaders to work together with the American people to pass immigration reform that embodies these key principles and that will make our nation proud.

As evangelical Christian leaders, we call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that:
  • Respects the God-given dignity of every person
  • Protects the unity of the immediate family
  • Respects the rule of law
  • Guarantees secure national borders
  • Ensures fairness to taxpayers
  • Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents

Monday, March 2, 2015

holiness reconsidered

Andy Stanley is teaching a new series called "Brand: New", and in Week 5, he talks about the old Temple Model definition of holiness meaning "to set apart and remove yourself from"...but the Jesus Model meaning to get in there and "get your hands dirty".  How can the reconciling love of Christ be manifested and worked out without us mixing it up and getting dirty with our neighbors in the world?  

John Paul Lederach speaks beautifully on this in his book Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians:

"Over past centuries, some Christians, including Mennonites, my home denomination, have chosen to embody atonement and holiness by the motto, "We are in the world but not of the world."  (see John 17:11,16)  We use this text to support notions of nonconformity.  We say this means that we choose not to live conformed to the pressures around us but rather by the standards and ethics of the kingdom of God (see also Romans 12:2).  

In practice, this has often been applied as removing ourselves from the world, pulling back, and isolating our communities from the world.  Because of our concern for holiness, we try to control the environment around us so that we will have less opportunity to fall and fail.  In our practice we have placed the emphasis on the "not of the world" portion of the motto.

Ironically, God through Jesus seems to have approached holiness and atonement with an emphasis on the "in the world" part of the motto.  The world is a messy, violent, and broken place.  God's model child, Jesus, was needed in the world to provide the distinctive direction.  This would be something different from the way people were acting and carrying on.  By God's example through Jesus, "to be in but not of the world," means that we move toward human troubles and choose to the live in the messiness.  That way the alternative of God's reconciling love can be made known.

From such a view, atonement and holiness are not about establishing proper ritual and merely maintaining individual purity.  Atonement and holiness are about entering relationships and starting dynamic social processes that help create the space for a new humanity to emerge.  We choose to journey toward and with those who have experienced the deepest division and separation because this is God's mission and Christ's example."  p.129-130 Reconcile John Paul Lederach  

Keep moving me toward, Lord!