The Orchard Blog

Responding to Hurricane Katrina by orchardblog
August 31, 2005, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As you know from watching the news and seeing the images online, catastrophe has struck New Orleans and many other areas along the Gulf of Mexico. The stories of destruction seem to keep pouring in one after another. Of course, the big question is, “What can I do to get involved?” So I wanted to take a minute and give you a couple of ways to get involved.

1. Pray

We really believe that prayer makes a big difference! I want to encourage you to pray for the rescue efforts and for the families of those who are searching for or who have lost loved ones. Let’s also pray for stability in this region. You may not be able to be there physically to help with the rescue efforts or even in a position to help monetarily, but you can pray.

2. Give.

There are a lot of reputable organizations who are collecting donations for the victims. Here are a couple of links worth visiting. Please donate directly through these organizations instead of through The Orchard at this time.

Disaster Relief (Through our AG fellowship)
FEMA (links to several reputable organizations)
Convoy of Hope

3. Stay Tuned

Over the next several days and weeks we will be hearing about further opportunities to be involved. Stay tuned to balanced media outlets to help keep the situation at the forefront of your mind and heart.

Even though these types of occurences don’t make much sense, we can be confident that even in the midst of disaster God always touches people’s hearts. Right now we are hearing stories of disaster. But with these stories also come stories of God’s redemption and provision.

God is good.

Hurricane Katrina by orchardblog
August 29, 2005, 9:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m sitting in my office here at home watching Foxnews and their coverage on Hurricane Katrina. It’s hard for me to imagine what the people in these areas of the country are going through – mentally, physically, etc…

Please take a moment and join with me in prayer for the safety of people living in the storm’s path. When it’s all said and done there will probably be plenty of opportunity for you and me to respond in a variety of ways. But in the meantime, as you look out the window at the sun shining here, take time today to pause and pray for what’s happening down south.

Here are a couple of links that will help keep you aware:

Wikipedia’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina

What questions are you asking? by orchardblog
August 26, 2005, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Recently I read a book that was very challenging to my mind and heart. The book is called Velvit Elvis (I know, interesting title), by Rob Bell.

Around the same time the book came out someone interviewed Rob Bell and asked about the books content, but also, one of the last questions the interviewer asked was this:

Do you have a favorite prayer or a favorite mantra that you like?

Rob said: My favorite and most oft-repeated mantra is probably, “God, what are you telling me now?” When I’m studying or running or just trying to make it through a difficult day or work through criticism or work through praise, whatever it is, “What are you saying to me through this? What is the deeper stream? What are you pointing out? What is the thing going on that is missing?”

I certainly connected with Rob’s answer. It definitley chimed in my own heart and mind. Especially the first question he asks himself, “God, what are you telling me now?” I love that!

Maybe we should stop, even right now, and say, “God, what are you telling me now?” Take a moment. Do it. Be silent for a moment. Be uncomfortable.

Reaching Out by orchardblog
August 19, 2005, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been really encouraged by a couple of great efforts being initiated through the Christian Community towards places like Rwanda.

Rick Warren is putting some serious action behind his Purpose Driven Life message directly in the nation of Rwanda. Time Magazine has a great article about it here.

Mark and Darlene Zschech of Hillsong are also heading up a relief effort for Rwanda called 100 Days for Rwanda to be launched in April, 2006. You can find more info here.

Wow. by orchardblog
August 16, 2005, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

That’s what I found myself saying Sunday night at about 9:30pm as I was pulling out of our parking lot at The Orchard after our BBQ & Baptism event.

What a day it had been. I had been up that day since about 5:00am, led worship and spoke at two services and yet…………I had more energy at that moment than I had all day long. I think it was a little past 2:00am when I finally sat my book down and went to bed. I was wired, to say the least.

I’m not sure what impacted me the most – watching 32 people from our church community get water baptized or watching as a couple hundred people talked, connected, and developed friendships.

It seemed like a good taste of the type of community and family that God has called The Orchard to be. And I’m so thankful to be a part of it.

It’s funny because whenever I start thinking about where God seems to be taking us I almost have to catch my breath. It’s a good thing, no doubt.

Thanks everyone for a wonderful Sunday. Let’s do it again. And again. And again…

Hotel Rwanda & Some Links by orchardblog
August 8, 2005, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This past weekend I did a talk on the movie, “Hotel Rwanda” as a part of our Blockbuster Summer series. If you unable to attend, you can download the message here or contact Terri Casey to purchase a CD copy of it.

One of the things that I discussed was how over the next few months we are going to be taking very intentional steps as a church to reach out to our own local community of Aurora and also around the world by being involved with local missionaries who are taking radical steps to reach people with the great news of God’s love.

In the meantime, here are some links that are worth checking out. You may not agree with all of the opinions and thoughts that you see on these sites, but these are a great start to at least staying AWARE of what’s happening around the world.

Sojourners – A Christian ministry whose mission is to proclaim and practice the biblical call to integrate spiritual renewal and social justice.

International Justice Mission – A human rights agency that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery, and oppression.

World Relief – The Mission of World Relief, as originated within the National Association of Evangelicals, is to work with, for and from the Church to relieve human suffering, poverty and hunger worldwide in the name of Jesus Christ.

Christianity Today – CT has a great section that offers informative articles on what’s going on around the world.

Here are a couple of local organizations right here in the Aurora area that are definitely worth looking into:

Hesed House – Reaches out to the homeless, hungry and poor in the Aurora area.

Wayside Cross Ministries – Reaching out to the troubled and needy in the Aurora area.

We’ll be adding these links to our main website soon. In the meantime, browse through them and keep the A’s in front of you:

AWARE – Stay aware of what’s happening in our community and world.

AGITATED – Allow yourself to become agitated by the suffering and injustice that is happening in our world.

ACTION – As you become aware and agitated, ask God how you might be able to get involved!

Have a great week and don’t forget about our big BBQ & Baptism coming up this Sunday, August 14th!

BBQ and Baptism! by orchardblog
August 5, 2005, 9:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Happy Friday!
I just wanted to remind you that this Sunday, August 7th is the last sunday to purchase tickets for our upcoming BBQ and Baptism.
We are getting so excited as 30 people have now signed up to be baptized! Interested? Sign up this weekend or call me at 630-897-8888 ext. 25.
Even if you are not getting baptized please join us for a great time of food and fun!

4:30pm – Meet at The Orchard
5:00 – Catered BBQ Dinner (must purchase tickets this weekend!)
5:30 – 7:15 – Games and Connection
7:15 – Water baptism at Splash Country (next to the Orchard)
8:00 – Free! (yes,free!) Ice Cream Sundae Bar back at the Orchard

Option A ($8)
BBQ Ribs or Chicken
Baked Beans
Mac and Cheese
Corn on the Cob
Option B ($6)
Hamburger or Hot Dog
All side items as menu A

All meals include lemonade and water. Soft drinks available for purchase.

We hope to see you on the 14th! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

How Precious Life Is by orchardblog
August 3, 2005, 9:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sunday, some asked me afterwards to give them a copy of an excerpt I read by a woman named Mary Jean Arian, who wrote a little piece called “Gift From a Hair Dryer–Reflections of a Mom as She Combs Her Seven-Year-Old Daughter’s Hair After a Bath.” And somehow, it kind of captures what a precious thing life is.

“Comb and dry. Comb and dry. ‘Soon, I won’t be able to do this anymore,’ you say to yourself knowing that the little straight bob must inevitably yield to grown up coiffures and ugly curlers. What will she be like at 14? Where will her hair be blowing then–at 16 and 18? Do you suppose boys will love to watch her hair blow as you do now? And some of them will feel it on their faces. And one of them will marry her and her hair will be spread under the veil, and then, spread out on his pillow.

“And oh, you hate him a little and wonder where he is at this moment, whether he’ll be good to her. They will grow old together. And the gold-brown hair will be gray. And you will be gone. And then, she will be gone–this very hair, that now, your fingers smooth. And all the tears of the world swim for a second in your eyes as you snatch the plug out of the socket suddenly, and gather her into your arms, burying your face in the warm hair, as if you could seal this moment against all time.”

What do you think?

Blogging from Denver by orchardblog
August 3, 2005, 12:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s late Tuesday night and I’m blogging to you from a hotel in suburban Denver, Colorado. We’re here for a few days attending a church conference that is put on every couple of years by our fellowship.

On Friday, we will be attending a special memorial service where they will be honoring my father, Larry Hodge for his life of ministry. This will be a special time for us as we are here representing not only our family, but YOU – our CHURCH family of The Orchard!

(Don’t forget that YOU are the church. The “church” is not a building and it is not something you go to. There’s a mini-sermon for you. Now I’ll stop…)

On a sidenote – don’t forget to mark your calendars NOW for the annual ALL CHURCH BBQ & BAPTISM happening on Sunday, August 14th!

This coming Sunday will be your last chance to purchase tickets. For more info, contact my assistant, Terri Casey or call her at 630/897-8888. It’s going to be a great time and I am SO PUMPED for the opporunity that we’ll have to baptize almost 30 people this year!

G’night from Denver…