The Orchard Blog


Best in the West by orchardblog
May 26, 2005, 12:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Congratulations to our staff pal, Terri Casey!

Today, Terri was awarded the “Best in the West” award from Hall Elementary School in Aurora for her volunteering excellence at this “West” Aurora school.

A few of us jumped in the car after staff meeting today and showed up to give Terri a standing ovation (sorry if we embrassed you Terri!)

Great job Terri! YOU GO GIRL!

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How do you pray? by orchardblog
May 23, 2005, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was thinking this week about what I could write in my first ever blog. I wanted something that would be meaningful and “hopefully” not too boring! When Scott spoke about transparent prayer something came to me…
Growing up I had a hard time praying out loud (actually I still don’t love it but I will if I have to!) When my Sunday school teacher would ask “who wants to pray today?” everyone would raise their hand high…except me. I would sink as low as I possibly could and hope she would not call my name!
One Sunday – I was 11 years old or so – she finally asked me why it was I did not like to pray? I told her I don’t ever know what to say. She told me something that I will never forget…she said I should try just having a conversation with God – like I would my girlfriend. I thought that was ridiculous! Why would God want to hear all that “stuff?” I thought about it that night and began to have a conversation with (my friend) God. I was able to open up and express myself and I didn’t have to worry about saying the right words.
How do you pray? Are you able to converse with God as you would a good friend?



Prayer by orchardblog
May 20, 2005, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Pastor Scott asked us to commit this week to journal our prayers. I’ve been doing this and it’s been great! I’ve enjoyed getting my thoughts and prayers out on paper.

I’ve notice that as I follow this P.R.A.Y. acrostic…it’s helped my prayer life. It keeps me from immediately going to God with requests. I first take time to focus on Him (P – Praise)…and that alone gives me confidence. It helps me remember how BiG and how LOVING He is. It helps me remember that He has been there all along and is here now.

Then “R – repent” helps me to reflect on the mistakes I’ve made since my last time in prayer! It’s been tough to write those down and “admit” my wrongdoings. Won’t it be good, though, to look back and see how God has helped me in areas I’ve struggled!

“A – Ask” This is the easiest and tends to be the longest section in my journal…which is interesting. But I look forward to going back and looking to see what God has done in my life and in the lives of those for whom I am praying.

“Y – Yield” — This helps me to remember to allow God to have His way…I know His plan is going to be better than mine.

Have any of you tried this type of prayer and benefitted from it too? Let us know!



Why Repent? by orchardblog
May 18, 2005, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Repentance is one of those words that I believe gets misused, especially in faith-based (evangelical) cultures. I believe scripturally repentance is a must and should be understood purely from its original definition, which means a “change of mind.”

When Jesus said “Repent the Kingdom of God…” or when the Apostle Paul said, “It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance.” The truest form in which Jesus and Paul were trying to convey was this…HAVE A CHANGE OF MIND or CHANGE YOUR VIEW. Why do we need a change of view? Well, let us suppose that we have offended someone, lied about something, cheated on a test (or taxes…sorry I had to throw that one in there), or some other obscure wrongdoing. Typically, because of the way we are wired up by God, we will have a prick in our heart or to simplify it, we will have a “bad feeling” about what we did. God’s intent is that in the process of repentance that you have a change of mind (and view) of your wrong doing.

Instead of coming to God in prayer, many avoid God, assuming that God needs some “cooling down” time. Not so. Repentance, from God’s perspective, ISN’T for God’s sake — it is for our OWN heart’s sake. Repenting (or the confession) of our sins (or a better definition “missing the mark”) is not primarily something that God has us do because HE needs it. God is not clutching tightly on his mercy, as if we have to pry it from his divine fingers like a child’s last cookie. We need to confess it in order to heal and be changed.

The essence of repentance in prayer is a way for our hearts to process the wrong doing. Repentance and confession is an ACT OF GRACE. That is why the scripture says, “Let us therefore come Boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to HELP in the time of need.”

What is the writer saying to us today? He is saying, “Listen, one of the greatest times that grace and mercy will empower you, is often when you are in a time of need.” What is the key word here that we MUST see? The word “need.” When do we need the grace and mercy of God to permeate our hearts? When we’ve slipped. When we’ve messed up. When we’ve missed the mark.

So, if you are struggling with repentance avoidance. Then, make today an important step in allowing your heart and mind to have a “change of view.”



What Do You Love About Your God? by orchardblog
May 17, 2005, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just a few weeks ago on Mother’s Day we watched a video of children answering the question, “What do you love about your mom?” I eagerly hoped that my son Gavin would appear on the video and say something sweet about me, his Mommy. At the very end of the video Gavin made my heart melt when I heard his words of praise, and he said, “I love you.” He is 4 years old, and he chose the response, “I love you.” Even though I knew he loved me before that moment, it brought me such deep satisfaction and joy to hear him say those words.
Scott spoke this past Sunday on the topic of Prayer. He mentioned an acronym for the word,P.R.A.Y., in which the P stands for Praise. I believe that our Father in heaven is delighted to hear us praise Him. Sometimes it seems overwhelming to talk to a God as wonderful and mighty as ours. What should we say to Him when we praise Him? We can tell him we LOVE Him, we can thank him for the ways he takes care of us and for the way He has created us in His image…
Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.



Aurora Police Department Honoring Larry Hodge by orchardblog
May 16, 2005, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

You are invited…

On Saturday, May 21st (this coming Saturday…), the Aurora Police Department will be honoring our former Lead Pastor, Larry Hodge, for his years of service as a police chaplain with the department. The ceremony will also honor two police officers who were killed in the line of duty.

The ceremony will begin at 10:00am and will be held at Wilder Park, located behind the Aurora Police Department (350 N. River St., Aurora).

If you have any questions or would like more info, please contact Terri Casey by clicking here or calling her at 630-897-8888.

We’d love to have you join us for this special morning of remebrance.



P.R.A.Y. by orchardblog
May 15, 2005, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Does anyone remember the song, “Pray” by M.C. Hammer? I hate to admit it, but I really liked that song (even though Hammer’s pants were baggy enough to house a large colony of Smurfs.)

I guess that song is in my head because I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer lately as we’ve been preparing for our new series, Vertical Reality – which btw, began today @ The Orchard.

Today, in both worship gatherings, I threw out a challenge to our church family to take the next seven days and commit to a daily time in prayer using the acrostic P.R.A.Y. (If you missed today, you can download the talk here.) Here’s the “Cliff Notes” version of the acronym:

P = Praise (Express your gratefulness to God – don’t just BE grateful – express it to Him!)
R = Repent (I like the word “confess” better, but that would have ruined the acrostic.)
A = Ask (Asking is good – as long as it’s not all for yourself…)
Y = Yield (Submit your life (100%) to Him. This is the attitude that says, “Not MY will – but YOURS be done.)

Here’s the challenge: Every day this next week, take a few minutes and spend some time in prayer using this acrostic. Keep a notebook of some sort and write down your thoughts/prayers as the correlate with each letter.

This is gonna be good. I’m praying for all of you who made this commitment. I can’t wait to hear what this small step will accomplish in all of our lives.

G’night…