Forged: Easy, Right?

When preparing for our Forged teaching series, Nick and I spent about 30 minutes filming Byron (a member of Wheatland) working at his forge. We used the footage to help build our teaching intro that plays just before the message each Sunday.

After watching Byron heat up iron rods to white hot and then pound them out on an anvil he insisted that we try it ourselves. I immediately set down my camera. "How cool is this?" I thought.

...I thought.

...I thought.

I plunged the iron rod into the flame until it was ready to be pounded. I grabbed a hammer and put the metal down on the anvil. I raised up the hammer and brought it crashing down onto the iron only it didn't really go as planned. The hammer glanced off the side of the iron, nicked the anvil, and finished up slamming hard onto the table below. The handle of the hammer stung my hand like hitting a ball with a bat that you didn't grip hard enough.

I was a little confused. I figured that the metal would be soft and easily pounded out. I thought it would feel more like hitting dough and less like hitting a...well, piece of metal. So the next swing I concentrated more, gripped the hammer harder, and swung with a little more gusto. After ten swings, I decided I was done. I handed the equipment back over the Byron and concluded that he must be hitting the iron much harder than me because I could barely make a dent in it.

Here's what I take away from that experience. Whenever we've said anything about being formed by God into the likeness of Christ (i.e. the main metaphor of Forged) I'm reminded of how hard that work really is. It's not like rolling out dough. It's more like roll-up-your-sleeves-and-give-it everything-you've-got kind of work. In our metaphor, we are not the blacksmith. God is the one forming and shaping. We are the hard metal that doesn't so easily bend and shape to his design.

So in the times that you don't feel like God is changing you, or when you don't see yourself as an effective copy of Christ's love and character, remember that you are not so easily shaped and there is no fast and easy short-cut to the forging process. The Christian life should be marked and blessed by seasons of difficulty and perseverance. So says James:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. " -James 1:2-4

Ash Wednesday Services - March 5

Wednesday, March 5 | 7-8 p.m. | both campuses

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Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. This year, we're focusing on the issue of judgement (condemnation). We're challenging you to give up judging for lent. On Ash Wednesday, we'll have a short worship service, explore the story of Nathaniel [John 1:43-51], and receive ashes. The ashes are an outer symbol of an inner repentance - a humble posturing before God.

WSM will be joining us on Ash Wednesday at both campuses. Here's how:

Oswego Student Ministry  - 6th-12th Graders
**MOVED FROM TUESDAY TO WEDNESDAY

Normally students at oswego meet on tuesday nights for WSM. This week we will be moving our student gathering to wednesday night to participate with the entire church. Our leaders and students will be present for Ash Wednesday along with the adults.

The flow of the night will look like this:

6:30 - 7:30: Hangout and eat downstairs
7:00 - 8:00: Participate in the Ash Wednesday service in the sanctuary
8:00 - 8:30: Small Groups and hangout
8:30 - Head home

Naperville Student Ministry - 6th-12th Graders

The flow of the night will look like this:

6:30 - 7:30: Hangout and eat in the Gym
7:00 - 8:00: Participate in the Ash Wednesday service in the sanctuary
8:00 - 8:30: Small Groups and hangout
8:30 - Head home

Let Us Pray: A 24 Hour Prayer Vigil

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Will you join us in praying for our church?

In our current teaching series, "24/7/364" we're exploring generosity as an every day, all-day virtue of the Christian faith. And while generosity may manifest itself in different ways, we want to give everyone at Wheatland the opportunity to engage the vision of the church with the discipline of prayer.

Why Prayer?

Prayer aligns our hearts with God's heart - so long as we are truly seeking his Kingdom first. This is vital if we intend to deepen our commitment to the generous life. We don't want to cut God out of the picture. Generosity is truly his invention, not ours.

How do I sign up?

If you'd like to pray with us you can sign up for an available time slot. There's no limit on how many people are praying at a given time. You can pray anywhere you want, but we recommend either at home (with a friend or family member) or at our Church. We'll have prayer rooms available for you to use if a quiet 30 minutes is impossible to get elsewhere.

click here to sign up (link directs you to SignUp Genius)

Woah, did you just say 30 minutes? How do I pray for 30 minutes?

We'll be publishing a prayer guide to help you pray through things such as congregational needs, general and specific liturgical prayers and the current needs of the church and our leaders. It's not as difficult as you might think.

After I pray, then what?

On the Guided Prayer page of our website (and in journals located at each campus), we recommend you share your experience by writing it down. What did you pray for? What did you hear from God? How have you been affected? You can even include a personal prayer request if you'd like others to be praying for you as well.

If you have any questions, please contact us. We'd be glad to help you sign up, or arrange a time for you to join in prayer.

Apostles' Creed

I didn't have a lot of early exposure to the Apostles' Creed. What is certainly a staple in many church traditions, was never talked about nor recited in worship services in my home church. We did cover it in one of my courses in undergrad but it was treated mainly as a historical/theological topic of study. So when I began my work in a Lutheran church about 7 years ago, it was new to me to have the Apostles' Creed as a statement of faith fused with the worship of God.

And I think it's great. 

One of the early influencers of modern worship is an artist named Rich Mullins. He wrote a song called Apostles' Creed where most of the lyrics are taken from the Creed itself. By far my favorite lyrics are:

I did not make it
No, it is making me
It is the very truth of God
And not the invention of any man

It's easy to point to any commonly recited prayer or reading when you "just aren't feeling it," and want to blame repeated, and sometimes emotionless rituals in church. But these statements of faith are important as they identify us, specifically, by the things we say are true about Jesus. They are a part of the Christian narrative - a story in which all who follow Christ find themselves woven into.

Have a listen to the song yourself:

Looking For A Little More Advent?

Dec. 4, 11, 18

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"Prayer is a way of life which allows you to find stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God's promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbor, and the world." - Henri Nouwen

 

If the hustle of the season has you hanging on for dear life, please consider joining us for a Wednesday night of prayer at 7pm on the Oswego campus. We will be reaching back through an eclectic mix of liturgy, prayer and music to give the season fresh meaning.

These Advent services will be Dec. 4, 11, 18

I've Got The Thanksgiving Blues

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"Blues means what milk does to a baby. Blues is what the spirit is to the minister. We sing the blues because our hearts have been hurt, our souls have been disturbed." -Mahalia Jackson

I want to invite you to a unique offering here at Wheatland. It's our 3rd year having a Blues Worship service at our Oswego campus on Thanksgiving Eve. 

Pastor Bob refers to this event as a paradoxical evening of incredible blues music, scripture, testimony and reflection. I think it's appropriate that the day before we are to embellish on all that we're thankful for, we spend some time airing our grievances - a time of worship where we admit that not all is well and we're hurting. 

It's said that in worship we sing each others' song. So even if you aren't hurting, come be close to those who might be. The service starts at 7 p.m.

I'm Getting Involved In Faith Promise

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A few days ago, I was telling a friend about how great Faith Promise is. I shared how much our church has raised over the last decade (just over $2 million) and about some of the missionaries we support. I was feeling really proud of Wheatland and the work God is doing through us. Then my friend, in her well-timed curiosity hit me with this: 

"So have you ever given to Faith Promise?"

*gulp* 

So this is me, saying that I'm all-in this year. And I want you to do the same. Here's why. It's kind of fun and satisfying to root for your church and simply watch great things happen. It's quite another experience to be a part of that great thing. 

If you are looking for more info or maybe some inspiration, join us on Wednesday, Nov 6 for our family mission dinner (and worship!). It's at our Naperville campus starting at 6:30 p.m. Hope to see you there. 

 -Tyler

 

Artist Spotlight: Ben Rector

I've been following this artist for a few years now. I had the pleasure last weekend to see him perform live at the House of Blues in Chicago. The show was fantastic. For our Really Scary Movie series, I featured one of his songs (briefly) in a short video. I wanted to share the song with you. 

I think in general you could use the term "light rock" to label Ben's music. So if you are into that kind of thing, I suggest you check it out. His album Into the Morning is my favorite. 

At his show, Ben was collecting money to help build wells in Africa in connection with World Vision. His plan was to donate every dollar he made selling his CDs to build the wells until they were completely paid for. He even had a donor willing to match every dollar made. Awesome. 

The guy makes great music and supports a great cause. Check him out

Open Up Our Eyes

We are launching into a new teaching series (Really Scary Movie) this Sunday (Oct. 6), Over the next 4 weeks we'll be tackling what is thought to be common fears for most people. When we start a new teaching series, I like to choose what I'll call a champion song. It's a song that we'll all learn and sing together for the next couple of weeks. 

Our champion song for Really Scary Movie is called "Open up Our Eyes" by Elevation Worship. If you'd like to hear it in advance, check out the video below. 

Artist Spotlight: Jenny & Tyler

Last Sunday, I saw Jenny & Tyler in what will likely be the coziest venue I'll ever visit. It was the attic of a house. There may have only been about 50 people in total attendance, but it was a fantastic show. The intimacy of the venue went with Jenny & Tyler's style and presentation like peas and carrots. Have a listen:

This duo has more than great music. They have a strong heart for the Lord and a commitment to justice.  

This has been one of my favorite finds of last year. If you like it, you can support them further by visiting their page to see what else they are doing. 

You can also download a free live acoustic album right here. I hope you enjoy. 

 

Jumpstart Sunday (what you need to know)

We have a lot going on for worship on September 8. Here's the highlights.

1. Naperville campus will have two identical services in located in the gym at 8:30 and 9:45 a.m. Let that sink in. The services are identical (and will feature both traditional and contemporary elements)  and will be in the same spot. The reason for all that is because we wanted to have everyone together (space won't allow us to have just one service).

2. Oswego campus will only have one service at 9:30 a.m. Parking is always an issue, so get there early.

3. There are no classes for adults, students, or children on this Sunday. We really want you to participate in worship and in tailgating.

3. We'll be tailgating. If you don't know what that is, imagine a picnic with your friends in a parking lot where you parked your cars. There's a bit more to it. Click here to read about how to participate. 

4. There will be some opportunity to see our fall line-up of classes as well as register. You definitely want to be a part of a small group this fall.

Let's Risk The Ocean

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Saturday, I was at Lake Michigan. It's huge. I'm actually quite terrified of large bodies of water. I don't know what it is - probably just that they are massive and we cannot control them. 

In order to feed my fear of the large lake, I decided to do a quick web search to see just how deep it is. (why do mobile devices even work on the beach?) 922 feet. That's about 3 football fields down. Scary. 

As I was sitting comfortably on the warm sand I watched as a couple of people were launching a boat out onto the surf. I suppose they hadn't just done a web search for how deep the lake is - they must be insane, I thought. There had been storms and the wind was high and the lake was extremely choppy. When they first got out, it looked like they were going nowhere. They just sort of sat there being tossed by the waves bobbing up and down. But then they put up a small sail and though it was rough at first, eventually they were off.

I was meditating about how God is kind of like a large body of water. He's out there and maybe the whole God thing seems massive, uncontrolled, rough and scary. And you can sit safely on the beach and just watch at an arms (or more) length. But then you never really get to experience what his love is all about. 

So what can we do? I suppose we just get in the boat and put up a sail. I'm confident that if we give God a try and let his love be our life's guide, then there's an entire ocean - an unending sea - of love, grace, blessing, and forgiveness. 

Check out Sometimes by the David Crowder* Band. We sang it last Sunday.

What's With That Cross?

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If you've been to one of our campuses in the last few weeks, you may have noticed that our normally displayed cross has been replaced with a cross constructed from loose planks. The planks have various words and drawings on them.

Here's why. Starting July 1, we unpacked a teaching series entitled "Ethos" based on our 5 values. On several of the weeks, we asked you to respond in some way to that week's topic by writing or drawing on a plank of wood. The final week (worship) rather than have you respond on a plank, we constructed the planks into a cross and raised it up on that Sunday morning. 

The point is that our values, our ethos (culture), together are firmly planted in the hope of Jesus Christ and represented each week by the cross displayed in the midst of our worship.  We're going to keep the crosses up for a while. I hope you like them.