The Orchard Blog

Best in the West by orchardblog
May 26, 2005, 12:50 am
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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!

How do you pray? by orchardblog
May 23, 2005, 2:58 pm
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.


Waiting can be a drag by orchardblog
May 11, 2005, 11:09 am
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Don’t you think that waiting can be a drag? I think as a culture, waiting has become a necessary evil. Waiting is weaved into the fabric of our every day life. We wait in lines at the grocery store, we wait for our food to be done in the microwave (which takes too long), we wait for the doctor at the doctors office (ironically called the waiting room), we wait for the driver in front of us to realize that the light has turned GREEN, and we also wait sometimes for our prayers to be answered.

Do you ever find yourself wondering why God takes so long to answer our prayers? I have. Sometimes, our concept of praying and God answering those prayers is orbited by the mindset of a culture that doesn’t like to wait. Moreover, sometimes we might feel that since God hasn’t answered those prayers on our time clock (called NOW), God will never answer them.

Many of us may vouch for the fact that we have had our prayers answered. We could also attest to the fact that sometimes it is a waiting game. Waiting on God sometimes requires paitent trust. Do I trust that God has good reasons for saying “wait”? Will I remember during those waiting moments that things look different to God because of his eternal perspective?

This weekend we are starting a series on prayer called Vertical Reality. We will be discussing various aspects of prayer, for example, like I mentioned above — the waiting game. Come check it out starting THIS weekend!

By the way, have you ever found yourself questioning why God takes so long in answering prayers? If so, what did some of those “waiting moments” look like?

Wednesday… by orchardblog
May 11, 2005, 10:49 am
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It’s Wednesday and I’m at home getting ready to fire up the grill for a staff lunch/meeting we are having at our home this afternoon. I’m looking forward to hanging out with our team today. It’s so easy to become so focused on doing “ministry” and at the same time neglecting the important factor of investing in relationships as a team (although, ministry is pretty much relationship investment – but you know what I mean.)

By the way… We have some awesome moms @ The Orchard – including my own! This past Sunday we celebrated the Orchard moms and had a wonderful time. If you missed the talk from Sunday, click here to go the download page. It’s definitely worth a listen. I had a conversation with four mothers about things they’ve learned about being a mom. It was a fun time!

Hope your week is going great. (By the way – did you hear those storms this morning?)

See you Sunday…

Building Blocks for Success by orchardblog
May 7, 2005, 1:07 pm
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I found a very informative site and wanted to pass it on to you.

The Search Institute has done a more than 15 year study on over 1 million children to see what assets they needed to succeed in life. They listed 40 developmental assets and found that the more assets a child had, the more success that child would have in life. (Children belonging to a religious community or having a faith relationship were linked to 29 of the 40 assets!!!)

If you would like to find out WHAT the assets are and HOW to help your child obtain them, go to