Well... the whole idea of giving updates during Heaven Fest was quickly squashed. I was too busy, but for all of the right reasons. More than 12,000 people came for this awesome God provided day! I will tell you more about it in the next day or two. I am whooped and on my way to bed. Time for rest. I have an 18 mile run tomorrow, and it could be rough.
Less than 24 hours until Heaven Fest 2008 begins. The place is looking great and soooooo... many people are hard at work to make it all happen. Main stage went up earlier today and all of the booths, tents, other stages are being set. Looking out beyond the main stage are the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Sundown tomorrow will be incredible!
Be praying for the group tonight that is involved in Cardboard Campout. They will fast, pray, and sleep outside to raise awareness and money for the homeless. You can donate here.
This week at Northern Hills we started our new series in the book of Ruth. We have titled the series Live Expectantly - God is at Work. This week we started at the very end of the story of Ruth - Jesus. We wanted to see how the story/events of Ruth's life are still making an impact today through Jesus. When Ruth was in Moab after the death of her husband, and so much tragedy - who would have ever dreamed what God had in store.
Below, in 25 words or less, here is the first of six messages in the series:
I had the privilege of doing the Podcast for Dare2Share this week. Jeremy Hughey interviewed me about implementing the Go Wide strategy on a church wide basis. If you want more info about this strategy, check out the Deep and Wide Model that Dare 2 Share has created. For information and a look at how we implemented it at Northern Hills check out We Are Jonah. Also, here are the study guides.
Several people have requested my closing comments from this weekend. Here they are: As followers of Jesus at Northern Hills we will be ready and willing to be used by God to make a
significant difference in our community and our world. We will continue to be a
church that is not processed, but possessed by the power of our living God and
through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Borrowing the idea form a call to worship from Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee:
Welcome to Northern Hills! Where we invite you to be part of the praise-offering,
hand-clapping, foot-stomping rhythm section of the Lord’s Most Dangerous Band.
But more than that, we invite you to open up to the mind-blowing, heartwarming,
life-changing power of God–a power that’ll disturb, delight, deliver, and lift.
It’ll make you young when you’re old, and live when you die.
And whether we’re black or white, rich or poor, upper class, middle
class or no class, whether we have Ph.D.’s or no D’s, whether we’re young or
old, male or female, Democrat, Republican or Independent, politically correct
or red-necked, you’re welcome here. Welcome to Northern Hills.
But be ready–at Northern Hills discouraged folks cheer up; dishonest folks ‘fess
up; sour folks sweeten up; depressed folks look up; closed folks open up;
gossips shut up; conflicted folks make up; sleeping folks wake up; lukewarm
folks fire up; dry bones shake up; and pew potatoes stand up.
But most of all, Jesus, the Savior of the entire world, is lifted up...
Welcome to the future of Northern Hills!
This was Vision Weekend at Northern Hills. I was amped and excited to share where we are headed. Saturday night (or technically Sunday morning), I awoke at 3:30 in the morning. Now that is not all that unusual. When this happens, sometimes I will pray, or God will put something on my heart that I will write down for the following morning's message. At other times I just take the awake time to go through the following days message one more time, then return to a wonderful sleep.
However, this past weekend when I awoke, I had the unmistakable impression that I was to take some time to worship God. This really did not make sense, so I just started going over the message that I would be giving in a few hours. Doing so proved useless and my restlessness was growing and I wanted to go back to sleep, but I could not.
It took nearly 30 minutes to give in and do what God was asking. So I simply started to praise God silently for who he is and what he is doing. Then after several minutes I grabbed my iPod and listened to a playlist that I titled God's Glory. It was really an incredible time of intense focus and praise toward God. Around 5:15AM I went back to sleep and woke up at 7 AM ready to roll.
In reflection, this time of worship was required to make sure that my focus was where it needed to be while speaking about the future of Northern Hills. Not sleeping, brought rest, comfort, and instilled within me a God given passion to communicate his mission. God is good!
This weekend we concluded our Malachi series at Northern Hills. The message throughout the series was to Give God our Best! When we started the series we wanted to come up with a way for people to remember their commitment to give God their best. We wanted to provide a "drive the stake in the ground" - "this is the day" moment. The teaching team decided that on an unannounced weekend we would ask people to give their coat away. Yep, without warning, at the conclusion of the services one weekend we would ask people to give their coat away. Our thought was that most people when wearing a jacket to church, wear their nicest coat or one of their best. To give that jacket away would be a sacrifice and possibly a defining act or at least a spiritually memorable moment.
We had the messages ready; organizations lined up to receive the donated coats; we kept it a secret - only a handful of people knew this was coming; it was all a go except...... the weather. We experienced near record breaking warmth during the series. Too warm in fact for nearly anyone to wear a jacket each weekend. We decided to put the idea on hold until the weather turned cold. If it did not before the series ended, then we would use the idea another time.
This week it was not actually cold, but it was cold enough for many people to wear jackets, so we went for it. We waited until the end of each service and then we explained what we were doing and what the symbolism was in giving away your jacket. We were very careful to avoid "guilting" anyone into giving away their jacket.
The response was incredible. Many individuals gave their jacket through tears and prayers. And let me tell you - there were some nice jackets given away! It was awesome to see the people of NHCC collectively build an altar of coats as remembrance that we will strive to give God our best through his strength and grace.
In total, 255 coats were given on the spur of the moment. My hope and prayer for each person who gave their coat, is that this weekend will be a powerful reminder of God's goodness, and their personal commitment. Praise God for the incredible way he used this series in the life of NHCC.
People of Norther Hills.....................YOU ROCK!!! I am so proud of you and humbled to do life and ministry with you.