Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer in the Neighborhood

School is out, the warm weather has arrived (finally!) and with July 4th bearing down upon us, most of us are busy working on our summer plans. This is a great time of year to just get out and enjoy time with family and friends, but it is also a great time to connect with our neighbors too.

At The Orchard Church this year our ministry theme is "Who is my neighbor" and many of us took time earlier in the year to write out a list of 5 people who we would pray for this year. Our desire is to see God transform lives and to work through us in reaching our city and beyond, one street, even one house at a time.

Here are a few ideas on how to enjoy the summer and reach out to our neighbors too.

1. Invite them to a cook out. Whether it is July 4 or any other day, summer is a time when you don't need an excuse to host a cookout. Why not take the bold step of inviting the neighbor that you have been praying for over while you throw a few burgers on the grill.

2. Check out Fiesta Days or the Country Fair. There are all kinds of fun activities going on in the community this summer from concerts and ice cream socials to parades and boat races, many of which are free. Simply inviting a neighbor to do something together with you and your family is a great way to get to know them better and begin the journey of sharing your life, as well as your Savior with them. Oh, and when I say check out Fiesta Days I am not simply suggesting "Family Faith Night." Many of the neighbors that you are praying for will be intimidated by a name like "Family Faith Night" and have no clue who Mark Schultz is anyway! (Before you ask, yes I like Mark Schultz, but no I don't think this is the best environment to invite a friend who doesn't know Christ to.)

3. Tell them about an upcoming Backyard Bible Club. If one of the people you are praying for has a family with young kids, why not invite them to go along with you to one of our fun Backyard Bible Clubs. We are hosting one in McHenry (July 25-29) and one in Wonderlake (Aug 1-5). Filled with games, crafts and a key Bible theme, as well as a parents tent to connect with others, these clubs are sure to be a high point of the summer. More details coming soon!

4. Bring ringers to our Softball Showdown! Our 4th annual softball showdown and bar-b-que is a fun family afternoon, coming up on August 13 and is a great chance to have a lot of fun and connect your neighbor to others from the church who are just enjoying a great time together too.

5. Just do something! Face it, you are probably are not going to just sit around all summer watching reruns and "So you think you can dance," so as you make plans, why not take that extra step and call that person, or stop by and invite them to come along too.

Remember however, the goal isn't simply to do something with your neighbor but to share your life with them, to extend the love of Christ to them and to present Him to them. Keep in prayer, ask God to give you an open door, an open mouth (and wisdom as you speak) and to give your neighbor an open heart.

Get outside and enjoy the season!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's a beautiful thing!

Written by Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, these proverbs were probably were a compendium of many of the wise rulings and proverbs that he had spoken during his reign. Specifically here however we learn that Solomon late in his life was probably concerned about passing on the skill of wise living to his son.

Proverbs 1:8-9 reads,
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.

The exhortation is to listen to instruction and not forsake the wise teaching that one has received is made. It is said to be "a graceful garland for your head" and "pendants for your neck." The idea here is that holding on to wisdom and the good instruction that you have received will become like a beautiful adornment, one that will highlight and complement a life of character and will do so throughout life.

It is incredible that in a world where instant gratification, self-sufficiency and self-centeredness often seem to be the norm, where rash decisions and foolishness all too commonly pass for "enjoying life" how those who seek to live wisely stand out as a dazzling example.

Do we hold on to, and put in to practice the wise instruction, the wise teaching that we have received from the Word of God or from other godly examples or do we jump quickly to whatever seems good at the time. The life of wisdom is a beautiful life. It is beautiful because it is lived without regrets. The life of wisdom is a beautiful life because it is a life that even at its most confusing is not without direction, because ultimately it recognizes that the most important direction is always toward God. It is beautiful because wise living brings peace, joy and blessing to oneself and others.