Drove out to Stromsburg, today, to go to the dentist. Yep. Stromsburg. My dentist is also a head pastor at a church in Stromsburg. It makes sense, people need healthy teeth before they get into heaven. My dentist, Mike Ulffers, is a great guy. Back in 1995 I was helping to lead a short-term mission trip to Mexico that his wife, Mary, and two of his kids, Hannah and Jacob, came on. We made a connection since we were from Nebraska, but I also I managed to encourage them to not be ashamed of their testimony. Their testimony? They’d lived a great life, had a great family, experienced nothing traumatic, etc. Sometimes we can get so hung up on the angst and sin with testimonies that we neglect the true testimonies of God’s faithfulness. As I told Jacob back in the day, those of us with the “good” testimonies would trade it for his good testimony. It struck a chord within him. Mary was in tears as she heard me talk to him about it. She wanted him to see the value in his life, in his testimony. (It can be hard when the church lauds the darker testimonies, which are usually embellised a bit.) A connection was made. They are an incredible family. I hope Liam can have a testimony similar to Jacob’s.

So, why not drive eighty-seven miles, one way, to see friends and get your teeth cleaned? (No cavities by the way. Awesome.)

Today was day one of the Luis Palau/Heartland Festival. Perhaps you have seen one or one thousand yard signs for the event. (I saw signs in Wahoo and Stromsburg today.) The initial response so far has been good to the event.

The planning for the Palau event is over two years in the making, before Mark Ashton even accepted the position of Lead Pastor at CCC. CCC has had a representative of some sort at the planning meetings all along.

Some of us on staff were a bit hesitant to embrace the festival initially. It wasn’t anything against Luis Palau or the idea of the festival, but it was because we were going to be busy with our own projects. (Year of the Child initiative, mission trips, student ministry events) However, when we managed to take a step back and see the big picture, get to know Luis Palau better and grasp the potential effect of the festival we all came on board with it.

Mark has always be on board with the event from day one. Even though there are a number of things he and CCC are busy with, he had the foresight to not pass up the opportunity.

I’m sure for some they will be grateful to be done looking at Luis Palau/Heartland Festival yard signs and billboards, but if that is the worst of it then it is a success.

One of the springboards we are hoping for from the festival is an increase in the Step Out event. CCC started this two years ago as a chance for people to serve the city of Omaha. In 2005 we had roughly 1,200 people involved. Last year we got King of Kings and Trinity involved and had 3,600 people involved. This year, with a tie-in to the Heartland Festival, who knows how many will be involved, but it is a great opportunity to give back to the city. I came across this article in the World-Herald, this evening, and it touches on it a bit.

It’s been cool to see a majority of the churches come together to be a part of this event. Hopefully there will be more events/projects that bring us together in the future.

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