Saturday, March 31, 2012

global leadership summit 2012

This year's Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, August 9-10, has a great line-up of speakers!  See the list of faculty here.  I've already ordered Speaker Sheryl Wudunn's books that she co-authored with her husband, Nicholas Kristof- Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and Asia: Thunder from the East.  Looking forward to reading them!

My family will be on vacation this year during the Global Leadership Summit, but I'd be going to the Satellite Site at Orchard Hill Church if I were home!  I encourage all local leaders to register and attend.  I'll anxiously await watching the dvd series post-summit next fall.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

freedom week

Rachel Danley of InterVarsity has done an outstanding job organizing Freedom Week  activities at the University of Northern Iowa Campus this week to raise awareness of the injustice of 27 million modern day slaves in our world, many of which are sex trafficked. 
Blayne Jesse and Lindsay Wenzlick worked with teens from the Salvation Army to perform a dance as a part of the evening's line up tonight.  Also included were poems, readings, and dramas that helped bring the human story and reality of 21st century slavery to the audience.   

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 29) on UNI's Campus....a capstone event beginning at 8 p.m. in Lang Hall....featuring speaker, R. York Moore.  I hope to see you there!

Monday, March 26, 2012

God's movement through Love Cedar Valley

If you know me at all, you've likely heard me repeatedly share with you how surprised and amazed I am to hear continued stories of how God has worked in individual and churches’ lives through Love Cedar Valley.  In the past three weeks, there’ve been yet more stories….

-          A Grundy Center resident came into my office and shared some plans for a ministry called “Helping Hands” that he and a few other men are feeling called to start.  Where did this passion and vision begin?  As I sat and listened to him, he told me the vision was birthed from the times he served during Love Cedar Valley. 

-          I received a facebook message the other day from a young man who…three years ago….weighed almost 500 pounds.  On Love Cedar Valley, he was seated outside his downtown apt. bldg wishing he could get involved but knew that he couldn’t walk or stand very well due to his health and weight.  A few Love Cedar Valleyers came by and prayed healing over him.  He said he felt the Spirit move and believed that God was indeed healing him.  Since that prayer, he’s lost 260 pounds and is now encouraging others in Christ to health and fitness right on Saturday mornings at Harvest. 

-          Two days ago I was in a coffee shop and saw a pastor of a local church studying in a corner.  He told me that this year’s date doesn’t work well for their congregation for LCV, but then he went on to share that the few years they were involved, they took heed to the idea to look around their church’s neighborhood and get involved.  They did..and found River Hills School in their neighborhood.  They did work for LCV for two years at the school, and have since then created a partnership and ongoing relationship with the principal and staff and school. 

-          Yesterday, I wandered around our church and watched a young team of leaders doing fantastic work as the Love Cedar Valley team for our church.  This opportunity has given them practice and wings in leadership, organization, they’re building some new relationships with each other on the team and in our church.  I was looking at how they’ve organized and the creative technology they’re using, and I was like…"wow, I need to be sitting and learning some fresh insights from these outstanding young leaders."  Yay, God!   

Why should I be surprised that the lovingkindness of God as expressed through his people in an increasingly hostile world, actually transforms people?  This is true both for those who notice and extend kindness to their neighbor and those who receive the kindness.  We as Christians should feel compelled to this kind action because of the kind action bestowed upon us by the mercy of our God in Christ by no merit of our own.  

So, if God wants to keep using Love Cedar Valley to help share some very basic but profound truths, then go for it God!  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

God invites me to....

I am enjoying getting the CRM Empowering Leaders Lenten devotional emailed to my inbox daily through Lent.  (CRM stands for Christian Resource Ministries...see their Lenten Devotional by clicking here.)  Thought I'd share today's devotion with you on this blog.

The Kingdom of God

We are driven by our desires. We'd like to think it's our theology or our personal mission statement that animates our lives, but in the real-time moments of everyday life, it's what we want that really affects what we do and the choices we make. And what we want—what we desire most—is shaped by the things we give ourselves to.

In these parables Jesus tells his followers that there is really only one thing in this world worth pursuing at any cost—one thing that changes everything else—and Jesus calls that one thing the Kingdom of God. That’s what Jesus wants us to want. That’s what Jesus wants us to give ourselves to. But what is it?

Dallas Willard describes the Kingdom of God as the place where life is experienced as God intended it to be experienced. It’s the realm where what God wants to happen, happens. It’s life as it was meant to be lived in all its fullness and wonder.

We recently asked our community in San Diego to personalize the Kingdom and describe the life God invites us into in our context. Here is some of what we wrote:

God invites us to…
  • Show the world his goodness and extend his forgiveness
  • Be at home with God and invite others to come home
  • Feast with God at his table and rest in his courtyard
  • Step into our destiny and participate in the greatest story ever told
  • Leave the world of darkness and confusion and enter the light of God, which brings peace and clarity
In our neighborhood, the Kingdom of God is experienced and extended when the owner of a new bistro chooses to donate the profits from all his sales on Sunday to local development initiatives; when we gather leaders from other churches to join us in worship and intercession for our city; when we walk and talk with our neighbors who are recovering from addictions of all kinds; when a shop owner in our community helps feed families in Tijuana by selling their artwork in her store; when we share our homes and choose to live on less; and when we commission those we have come to know to go out and extend the Kingdom of God in other neighborhoods, cities, and countries.

That's what Jesus challenges us to pursue, and that’s what he invites us to extend to the world around us. Like leaven in bread, these small Kingdom acts find their way into our lives and begin to change who we are, and ultimately what we desire most.

1. Take a few minutes to write a Kingdom invitation that God might be extending to you by finishing this sentence, “God invites me to…”

2. What is one thing you could do this week to act on God’s invitation?

Rob Yackley and his wife, Laurie, live in downtown San Diego, California where they are part of a missional, apprenticing "wineskin" called NieuCommunities. They have three grown children: Melissa, Jonathan, and Brittney.
Luke 13:18-21 and Matthew 13:44-46 ESV

He said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches."

And again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened."

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Youth Art Team's Spring Break Camp

 Youth Art Team members are involved in a Spring Break Camp this week.  They are busy preparing for their production of "Night at the Five Sullivan Brothers Museum" to be performed on March 24.

Students went to the Waterloo Playhouse Costume Shop and found just the right costumes for their parts in the play.

 Students have been busy painting the set as well as creating some of the props for the play.

It doesn't hurt that temperatures in Waterloo, IA, hit almost 80 degrees today!  Record-breaking Spring Temperature!

Check out the YOUTH ART TEAM BLOG for a full account of Spring Break Camp!

Monday, March 12, 2012

what does it take to leave your comfort zone?

Let a couple of six year olds show and tell you what it takes to leave your comfort zone and spiritually grow.  In learning to ride her bike, Sara had  to leave the comfort zone of our house.  She had to leave behind the familiarity of her feet on the ground to get on a bike.  She had to the leave the comfort of practicing in the soft grass and stretch herself to the pavement.  She then so clearly tells you what ingredients are necessary for such stretching and growing:

1.  Trust your Dad.
2.  Practice.
3.  Be brave.

What did her brother show throughout?  That encouragement is also a key ingredient to growth.

Friday, March 2, 2012

at the movies

A friend of mine is facilitating an 8 week class in which we watch a designated movie a week on our own and then gather each week to discuss the movie in light of issues of race, faith, and culture.  I just watched "Higher Learning", and now I think I'm quite possibly done in for the day.

Here's a list of the movies we'll be watching over 8 weeks if you're interested in watching them on your own...

1. Amistad                                  5.  First Time Felon
2. Glory                                      6.  Jumping the Broom
3. Malcolm X                               7.  Crash
4. Higher Learning                       8.  Syriana