We have officially closed registration for 16:5! We have 603 registered! The last group had five people - so we went three over our limit. We are so thankful and excited to see how we can manage the crowds in breakout rooms, hallways, and the lobby. We have many people on the waiting list already and are excited for the conference, which starts three weeks from tomorrow. We are also excited to have 120 of our own attenders serving as volunteers for the conference.
Today at Northridge was another reminder that we need to be planning ahead on our next multi-site location. We set another all-time attendance record of 1693 today (between our two campuses)! So excited to be part of a church where so many are living PI2 lives (praying, investing and inviting).
I can't wait to see what is next!
We had planned to cap 16:5 at 500 attendees, but talked ourselves into 550 a couple weeks ago, and we passed that number so fast that we've decided our absolute limit is 600 attendees. We can seat 750 in our auditorium, but want to avoid too much congestion in the lobby and hallways.
As of this morning, we are 21 people away from turning people away.
Still want to come? Register very very soon! You can register HERE.
Here is a map where people are coming from at this point:
And for those coming, here is an explanation of our theme: Irresistible Church.
If you receive this by email and can't see the video, click HERE or on the title above.
I videoed five sermons recently in Israel and talked a lot about the Pharisees. Years ago I came across an article about the types of things Pharisees would have tweeted if that technology had been available. I thought you'd enjoy the list. You can see the original list HERE.
I love this quote that I came across recently: It is paraphrased by Sinclair Ferguson from John Owen (a Puritan pastor):
There are actually only ever two pastoral problems you will ever encounter. The first is this: persuading those who are under the dominion of sin that they are under the dominion of sin. That's the task of evangelism. And [second], persuading those who are no longer under the dominion of sin that they are no longer under the dominion of sin because they're Christ's.
Our 16:5 conference begins four weeks from tomorrow! We had planned on limiting attendance to 500 (last year we had 380). But we are almost at our limit now. We have 490 registered! So we are going to squeeze in a few more and limit it to 550. If you haven't registered - be sure to do that very soon! You can register HERE.
In prepping for our 16:5 conference, Mark and I sat down to have some talks about the conference and church ministry. Mark pastors Parker Hill Community Church in Pennsylvania, and will be speaking at one of the main sessions.
This first video is the explanation of why we started the 16:5 conference in the first place:
This second video is a brief explanation of the possibility of getting seminary credit by attending 16:5.
If you don't see the videos (because you receive this via email) click HERE or on the title above to see them.
I'm looking forward to beginning our new series at Northridge tomorrow called "Fighting Fair". It's a series I taught many years ago that has been requested over and over because it deals with something we all face - conflict. Here is a promo video you can send out to others:
If your receive this blog via email, click HERE to view the video.
Is there anyone you can invite? I think this series is good for those who follow Christ and for those who don't. All of us are in relationships. And therefore, all of us have conflict, and this series will help us negotiate that conflict in more helpful and peaceful ways.
To send it as an invitation to others - send them this link: https://vimeo.com/86773052
I hope you are able to make it tomorrow - and bring someone along!
The group flew out at midnight and got home Wednesday morning. Because the flights got cancelled for Nate, Brad and me on the way here - we are flying out tonight (Wednesday) instead of with the group last night.
So it gave us a chance to finish our video work for the Easter series. We had four videos to film and a bunch of B roll to shoot (just background video that happens when I'm not on the screen).
We started early and were able to finish with plenty of time to spare. Here are a few pictures from our day. I thought this sign was interesting:
You can see Nate in the distance. He is trying to film the perspective of how deep the Kidron Valley is. That is the valley between the Mount of Olives and the Temple.
One of the final things we did is walk old city walls. It is pretty amazing. From the west side of the city - you can clearly see the Dome of the Rock (on the Temple Mount), and the Mount of Olives in the background.
Here is Brad and Nate walking on the northern wall of the Old City.
I love the views you can get from the walls of the city. Again, the Dome of the Rock on the right, and the Mount of Olives on the left.
To give you an idea of how far it was from Jesus' death sentence to his crucifixion - this photo might help. The Dome of the Rock is near the traditional location of Pilate's trial and sentence of Jesus. And the two round, gray domes on the right are part of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. That is the likely place of the death of Jesus. I would guess it is about one-third of a mile away.
Here is a closer picture of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
On our walk back to our hotel - as a celebration of completing the videos (at least pre-editing) - we stopped at our favorite Shawarma place. We've had shawarma several times in the last two weeks, but this place was our favorite.
I can't wait for everyone to see the videos starting on Easter Sunday! We are looking forward to landing in Rochester Thursday afternoon. it will be approximately 24 hours of travel - from our hotel to landing in Rochester.
It's our final day of touring here in Israel. It's hard to believe that our time has gone by so quickly and that we will be heading to the airport soon. Our day began by going somewhere that almost all religious Jews have have never gone in their lives - up on the Temple Mount. There is so much Biblical history here - for this is Mount Moriah, the place where Abraham bound his son (Genesis 22:2) and the spot of David's threshing floor (2 Samuel 24:18-25). This is also the place where Solomon's Temple was built some 3000 years ago (1 Chronicles 22:6). During the life of Jesus, it contained Herod's Temple that he expanded for the Jewish people. In the 7th century the Muslims took control of this area and it is still in Muslim hands today. Here is the mosque which the Muslims erected in 691:
Our next stop was to the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus healed a paralytic man by telling him to "take up your mat and walk" right here on this spot (John 5).
Our final stop for the day was to visit the Garden Tomb. Though this is not likely the actual place where Jesus died, was buried, and rose again it does provide an iconic setting to reflect upon these most significant events. We enjoyed a moving time of worship as we read Scripture and shared the Lord's Supper together. We made sure to get some great footage of this moment because we are looking to share it with you all in the coming days!
Over the history of the world the city of Jerusalem has been a hotly contested place, but the Bible predicts a coming day when all conflict will be over and when a new Jerusalem will appear. The people of Israel, along with all who trust in the Messiah Jesus, will once again worship God in this place. But this city will have no temple for God himself will be its temple! (Revelation 21:2,22)
In the afternoon, about half the group went to the Holocaust Museum and the other half went to walk around the Old City more.
Our touring in Israel has come to an end, but we won't quickly forget the lessons we've learned and the experiences we've shared!
This is the photo I took as they were getting off the bus at the airport. Nate, Brad and I are staying one more day to get final videos finished for the sermon series.
The ancient City of David was our first stop today. Though people rightfully refer to Jerusalem itself as the "City of David", the oldest section of the city carries that specific designation because it is the part of the city that David built when he first captured the hill when the Jebusites lived here.
As we stood on a high platform where David's palace would have stood overlooking the valley below we were reminded of the story in 2 Samuel 11 when David sinned with Bathsheba. Here is the view he would have had:
This story continues to be a sobering reminder to us today that a person reaps what they sow (Galatians 6:7-8), and that though you may choose your sin you can never choose your consequences.
From here we were able to travel Hezekiah's tunnel. This is an amazing tunnel that King Hezekiah of Judah dug in the late 8th century BC when King Nebuchadnezzar of Assyria placed the city of Jerusalem under siege seeking to starve its inhabitants so it could be easily conquered. Little did Nebuchadnezzar know that Hezekiah had dug a tunnel to bring water from the nearby Gihon spring underneath the walls of the city to sustain life! The tunnel is referenced in 2 Kings 20:20. Here is Nate coming through the tunnel:
Once we exited the tunnel it brought us to the pool of Siloam, which was the place that Jesus healed a blind man by putting mud on his eyes and telling him to wash in the pool. You can read that story in John 9. I love that this man knew very little about theology, but was still a very clear witness for what Christ had done in his life, reminding us that our best apologetic is life change. Here is our group considering this story beside the pool of Siloam:
Next we took another tunnel, called Herod's tunnel, back up to the city walls and gathered on the Southern Steps. This is the likely spot that the events of Acts 2 occurred on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God filled believers and the church began. 3000 people were added to the church in one day! Here is our group on these steps:
Our group was also able to visit the House of Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57), the high priest who tried Jesus on the night He was arrested. Here is our group gathered in a pit where Jesus likely may have been held as he awaited trial. It was a special moment as our group sang "Amazing Grace" while reflecting on the great gift of God's grace demonstrated in that place 2000 years ago.
Our final stop for the day was at the Herodiam, an enormous palace built by... you guessed it... Herod the Great. This is the same Herod who built Masada, the fortress I blogged about a few days ago, and the same Herod who tried to have the Messiah killed upon his birth (Matthew 2). From this palace you can clearly see the city of Bethlehem only 3 miles away in the distance. It would have been very easy for Herod to obsess over killing the one "Born King of the Jews" since he himself had not been born king, but had only been appointed king. Another interesting aspect of this site is that just 7 years ago the tomb of Herod was discovered here. It is amazing to realize that we can now walk through the ruins of a structure that once brought glory to this human king who today has no power, yet our King is still on His throne and we can serve He who loves us with an everlasting love!
Just one more day of touring before our group boards a plane to head for home. I hope you've enjoyed sharing this experience with us!