Thursday, September 30, 2010

News from Iowa City

Last night Salt Company got bumped from one bar (Blue Moose) to another (Third Base/Fieldhouse). We went in on Tuesday to set up, and it was dark. Literally and Figuratively. This picture was taken with all the lights on. One of the highlights was standing in a circle on this checkered floor, begging God to bring the light of the gospel into this place. We felt like God led us to Matthew 5:13-16, and that He was in this. We ended our prayer time singing "Holy, holy, holy". I got chills when singing the line, "though the darkness hide thee, though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see..." How many times has this hymn been sung in a sketchy bar? At least once, now.

Over 150 people packed in, and Jeff did a masterful job with 46 verses in Mark 5. There was a great vibe to the night. You can see Jeff is on a make shift stage, looking down into the checkered dance floor area, with people packed in way to the back.
After Salt last week Spaid and Laugerman decided to stand outside the bar and lead some worship.
After a late night of Salt, I joined some of our freshmen who are meeting EVERY weekday morning for prayer and fellowship at... brace yourself... 5:30 AM. Put this on the list of things to love about college ministry. They will change the world because they don't know any better. Ahhh I love the passion.
Makai got a bunny.
Here's a video we showed last night at Salt. Incredible testimony and great job by Lance, who filmed the whole thing on his iphone 4. Not bad at all. Cale, I love what God has done and continues to do in your life- this was just 6 months ago that you gave your life to Jesus then followed him to Iowa City. Stay on the Psalm 1 path, my friend.

This is my God story - Cale from Veritas Church on Vimeo.

The next few pics chronicle my morning last week (or a couple weeks ago?... it's all a blur) setting up for a typical Sunday morning at Veritas.

5:15 am- Leave my house in the cold rain.

5:33 Arrive 3 minutes late and help load the trailer. The faithful set up crew beat me there, so they had most of it loaded already.

6:00 Carry EVERYTHING (Stages, Sound, Lights, Instruments, Children's Ministry totes...) into the hotel

Empty room. We can do this!
Everyone has a specific job. Like ants, they all go to work.

1:00 pm: Fast forward to the end of the day. It's sunny and the nameless servants (they wouldn't have it any other way) are on the home stretch. All that's left is to head to the office storage unit and unload everything.
I'm humbled to work with such amazing volunteers and humble servants of Christ.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

El Diablo: A Homeless Man

One way to describe our church is in the words of Bono, who describes himself as "a friend of the poor, and sometimes the rich."

It's hard to read the Bible and miss the fact that God has a special affection for the poor. Rhetorically, Politicians have a heart for the poor, but in reality their heart is with the rich. We know the temptation to give special attention to the rich (they have money and power), but we are striving to be a community whose ethos is to care for the poor (James 2, for example).

Recently, I've had an amazing opportunity to share with a guy from the streets of Chicago, who is here visiting his sister. In a recent conversation, he was very close to giving his life to Jesus. Please pray for Terrell.

But this morning I was reminded of another unfolding story in our community of love toward a homeless man, "El Diablo." I read this post this morning from James (I just wrote about James and James music- click here), and it about wrecked me.

Here's the story of Keith (aka "El Diablo"). Listen to the rap song they recorded and produced with Keith. It made me cry, as I listened to the slurred rant of a confused, proud and yet broken homeless guy:

Here are some pics of El Diablo...

This was the first ever encounter with El Diablo last March, when he shared about his exploits as a cage fighter and gambler:
We asked him how he did at the casino, and as if to add an exclamation on how he rules the casino, he said, "I walked in with a twenty, and out with a hundy."

Our second Diablo sighting at the bank:
This picture was taken the first time we learned his real name, and why we were seeing him all the time: Keith is a homeless man.
Oh God, can you transform the mind and heart of a person with such unique mental, emotional, and spiritual struggles?

yes, Yes, YES!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More pics from the Veritas kickoff

I'm so proud of Mark Duvick...he did a great job leading in worship (with a stellar band!)
Laugerman played a song he wrote that was intertwined with a video about how God provided for him.
Jeff Thune rocking some announcements. I can't wait for him to open our study of 1st John next week.
Preaching action shot...The crowd was captivated...

Seriously, every time I get up to speak, I have developed the habit of praying the Bartimeaus prayer, "Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I know how utterly helpless I am apart from God to speak life giving words. Not to mention living it out...
I love it that people were immediately able to engage in worship.

Here's Wally figuring out the intro to "Mighty to Save".... on the spot. We didn't realize he had never played the lead line before. But that dude is pretty ridiculous and quickly rocked it out.

Props to our children's ministry workers who missed the entire service in order to serve behind the scenes.
I loved the mingling that happened before and after. There was a definite buzz.
Here's the sign in the Ped Mall. If you've never been to downtown Iowa City, you must visit sometime. You would never guess you were in Iowa. We had a few people (that I know of) that showed up because they saw the sign.

James and James

Recently I've been listening to Xuadalupe by our very own James and James.

James Laugerman is one of our brilliant Anthem song writers (His glory never fades) here in Iowa City, and I'm still recruiting his counterpart, James Pusey, to come to Iowa City (apologies to all my homies at Cornerstone who are holding onto him with white knuckle grip...)

This album is brilliant! I'm especially addicted to tracks 1 and 3. I was listening to this with our staff (now you know what we've been busy doing) and Clint said this should be on the radio. Hear it for yourself. The five song demo is only $3.


Yeah, 3 bucs.

Keep writing, James and James!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Boom Outta Here!

The Veritas Kickoff was everything I hoped, and more.

During and after the service, I thought, "Yep, that's the church I'd want to plant. I would definitely go to that church."
There were over 300 people there; I would say at least 50 of them were visiting from out of town. It had a cool vibe, with a fervent atmosphere of worship and no first time awkwardness.
Last night I was talking to Dave Graber, our drummer, and he said, "This is a much better venue than where we kicked off Cornerstone. I was playing drums and Todd Wallace was on electric." When I realized that Wally was going to be at our kickoff, I told our worship leader (Mark Duvick) that we had to surprise Todd and pull him up for the last song. A bit reluctantly, Wally came up and rocked out on electric. Troy (Nesbitt) told me he held it together throughout the service until that point, then he lost it.

Just think- that was 1994. Now look at what grew out of that step of faith...

It was a great start. But looking out the windows of the hotel, one thing was overwhelming- there were more people not there than were there. There's a huge need in this city. On the way in, we were walking behind two hung over college aged girls who looked like they slept on the street- one was missing a flip flop.

The work has just begun. There's so much more to write, but I'm out of gas- slash- it's hard to write with some good NFL games on.

More pics and thoughts on our kickoff to come.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Veritas Launch this Sunday!

Two more days until the much anticipated launch of Veritas Church!

As I look forward to Sunday, I remember...

1. God has been faithful

Yesterday as I sat in the Veritas office with the door open and the early fall breeze coming in, I was overwhelmed by thankfulness for how God has been faithful at every step on this journey. It has been quite a journey. Over a year ago, I pondered the thought of moving to Iowa City. In late October I was asked to consider moving to Iowa City.

Now here I am. Telling myself (and the world): God is faithful.

I feel like David in Psalm 40, "Many O LORD my God are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you. Were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."

2. God will be faithful

I (along with Veritas Church) have not come to Iowa City to "blaze a trail for the gospel." We are not going anywhere God has not already been. He hasn't sent us on a journey, he's with us on this journey. Every step. So there's no reason to take ourselves too seriously.

"O LORD, you are my God. I will exalt and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things- things planned long ago." Is. 25:1

See you on Sunday. 10:30. Hotel Vetro.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cool Band

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros... These guys remind me of Iowa City- a strange and yet tasty mix of barefoot hippie, indie, eccentric, artsy, earthy, organic, retro, and yet brilliantly original music. I dig it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thank You, Supporters

Here's a video we (Lance) recently (2 minutes ago) finished to say thanks to our supporters and to give a glimpse of our kickoff.

The First Salt Company in Iowa City from Veritas Church on Vimeo.

Click here for other videos on our vimeo site or click here for our announcement videos on our Facebook fan page

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Daily Iowan Article

The Daily Iowan wrote a front page article about Salt Company:

"This is why"

Cool follow up on Marko's blog about our time from his perspective...

I think all of us in ministry need moments like this. Our job is so intangible, and it's cool to have "this is why" moments on our journey.

Have you been that "moment" for someone? It may be a good time to write a thank you letter to someone who's pastored-mentored-invested in-taught-parented you well.

Beer... at Salt

Here are some images from the last week, starting with last night.

Nothing like a Stout and Sermon.
Ironically the message was on "sin", not that the two are related. It does say there will be fine wine in heaven (Isaiah 25:6), but not necessarily beer, for sure not Bud Light. BTW, Jeff did a great job on a tough topic, tactfully navigating the issue of sin and the wrath of God. He did the dirty work, and put the ball on the T for me to tell the good news.

Everywhere we go as a church, we want people to be glad we came. So we've decided to collect tips for the bartenders and waitresses, even though most of our students don't purchase anything. Here's Miranda Robinson collecting tips.
After Salt, we went to a sketchy bar (Gabe's... currently trying to get back it's good reputation of being the venue where Nirvana, Foo fighters, Radiohead, and others have played) where our very own James Laugerman rocked the open mic night. That dude is an amazing singer/songwriter- it's so fun to watch college students grow into their potential. For our Veritas kick-off, we've got an element of our service that will include a new song that James wrote (for sure a future Anthem song!).

Below is a picture of last Sunday's informal church gathering at City Park. This Sunday will be our last one
Lance, leading Monday morning prayer in the Iowa Memorial Union. Every Monday, 7 am.

Here are some students livin' the dream. Andrew, does your dad know you live with smokers? He does now... But at least you don't do that...
Their basement is so sketch. Do you think drugs were ever done here?

It was another awesome week of church planting. But we are still looking for lost people that God has for us here. Pray that God brings salvation this week as I preach about Jesus and his good message...