Monthly Archives: April 2008

Random Thoughts on a Tuesday

•?Last Sunday in church we had well over 20 people adopt a child through the ministry of Compassion – that is awesome! We actually ran out of sponsor packets! If you’d like to adopt a child of your own it’s not too late – go to: http://www.compassion.com. At a commitment of just $32 per month I’d say being able to impact a child’s life for eternity makes it worth skipping Starbucks a few times!

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•?Since Easter we’ve been giving 1st time visitors a free gift (Is there any other kind?) – A coffee mug stuffed with a little bag of Gourmet coffee, Jelly Bellies, and an official ACC pen. If you meet a 1st time guest on a Sunday morning be sure to direct them over to the gift table (across from the Welcome Center in the lobby) or grab one and bring it to them! We view each visitor as a gift from God.

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•?I’ve been way too hyper while behind the wheel of my car lately; like virtually every other driver on my road is either a moron or an idiot. Last night I remarked to my wife that I need to chill out – she agreed. What’s up with that? Obviously something in my spirit is not right – I think I need to spend a bit more time in the Word and in prayer. The beast within rises up so easily that it’s scary…

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•?Our elder / staff retreat up in Lake Geneva last Friday and Saturday was most excellent. We had a very fun and productive time together planning, praying and dreaming how God wants to use ACC. I was reminded once again how much God has blessed our church with leaders that are humble, full of integrity and willing to fulfill God’s call in their lives. A big shout out to the retreat guys: Dale, Ray, Rick, Scott, Chris and Jim. It is my privilege to serve along side of you.

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•?This Friday my growth group is getting together for a movie night! We’re going to watch The Mission, starring Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons. It is a great flick with some very spiritual themes and lessons. If you’ve never seen it I’d recommend you go rent it. I give it two thumbs up.

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•?This Thursday, May 1st I’m going to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubbies destroy the Brewers. Big Z is going to be pitching and the first 10,000 people (and I guarantee you I will be one of them) entering the park gets a free tankard mug! Woo-hoo! Life doesn’t get much better than that!

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Peace,
?Dave

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Seven Crucial Minutes

Research has discovered that most people who visit a new church basically decide within the first 7 minutes whether or not they will come back again; the first seven minutes! That means before they hear any music, before they hear any preaching – before the worship service even gets started!

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?So, what are they basing their decision on?

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You might call it the vibe they pick up, the almost subconscious impressions they receive, like a gut feeling.
?•?As they drove up, were the building and grounds neat and well kept?
?•?Could they easily figure out which door to enter through?
?•?As they entered, were they warmly and sincerely welcomed?
?•?Did the lobby smell good like coffee or funky like mildewing carpet?
?•?Did other people seem glad to be there?
?•?Was the children’s area where they just dropped off their child fun and clean with friendly, reassuring staff?
?•?Did anything suggest that we were expecting any first time guests?
?•?Did anyone strike up a conversation with them? Did anyone seem to care or even notice that they were there?

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All this in the first 7 minutes.

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How is ACC doing with those first 7 minutes? I believe each new person that walks through our doors is a gift from God. God has given us the awesome opportunity to show them the life-changing power of Jesus Christ through lives of full devotion in authentic community. Therefore we have a lot of responsibility to make those 7 minutes as positive and welcoming and stress-free as possible.

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It reminds me of the old cliché, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

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Peace,
?Dave

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Earthquake in Illinois?

Most of you probably either heard about or felt the earthquake that hit just after 4:30 am this morning, which registered at 5.2 and was centered close to West Salem, Illinois. Fortunately, there was no damage done in the immediate Chicagoland area, and the quake could only be felt for about 10 seconds. But it did shake the tops of some high rise buildings in downtown Chicago and Indianapolis. Pretty minor for an earthquake, but pretty major for Illinois, wouldn’t you say?

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Either way, it is a sobering reminder to me that at any given moment, a natural disaster such as this could have the potential to literally knock us off our feet and ruin all our possessions. But the incredible truth is that we can know and have a personal relationship with the God who is in absolute control of every inch of this planet.

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Listen to the words of Job in the Bible, a man who had all his possessions taken from him:

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“His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” -Job 9:4-8

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(The Courier-Journal photo by David Harpe / April 18, 2008)

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Make no mistake about it: our God has the power to move mountains and shake the foundations of the earth, and yet in his mercy and grace, he has extended to us the invitation to know him personally and to spend eternity in heaven with Him! He has done this by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin and yours, which bridged the gap between us and God. He is a God who is mighty to save, which brings to mind one of my favorite songs that we sang this past Sunday:

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“Savior, He can move the mountains
?My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save.
?Forever, Author of salvation
?He rose and conquered the grave
?Jesus conquered the grave!”

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Have you crossed the line of faith yet and accepted His personal invitation?

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Blessings,
? Scott

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Dare 2 Share

This past weekend was an exciting one. We took a group of middle and high school students to the Dare 2 Share conference. (You can find out more about the awesome ministry of Dare 2 Share at www.dare2share.org.) We had 2 students pray to become Christ-followers and 5 students that made a commitment to fully devote their lives to God. We were all challenged to know and share the Gospel.

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On Saturday afternoon we had a chance to go put into action what we had been learning about. We hit the streets…they assigned each church a neighborhood. Our task was to knock on doors and ask for canned good donations for Wayside Cross Ministries. Then we asked if we could pray for them. If the opportunity presented itself we tried to share the Gospel with them. I don’t care who you are, this kind of thing is challenging and stretching! As you can imagine, we experienced a variety of responses. Some praised us for our efforts, others slammed the door in our faces. There was one response that really stuck out to me. It was my turn to talk. I approached the door with two students. We rang the door bell and a couple answered the door. They seemed bothered that we were there…as I began talking I could tell they were thinking “can’t you read the sign? It says ‘no solicitors’”. I finished my intro and asked for a canned good for the food drive, the woman’s demeanor totally changed. She told us she would be happy to donate and went to get some items. She came back with 2 bags full of canned goods. As she handed them to us I asked if we could pray for her and her family. She said sure and I proceeded to pray that God would bless her family for their generosity and that he would reveal to them how much he loves them. As I finished praying she came out of the house to shake our hands and thank us for what we were doing and for making her day.

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“Can I pray for you?” Honestly, who would say “no” to that? What a great way to begin reaching out to those around us that need to hear the Gospel. By asking to pray for them we demonstrate that we care and that God cares. Not to mention it opens the door for future spiritual conversations. So, can I pray for you?

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“Lord, I pray that you would be with each person that reads this post. I pray that wherever they are at in their journey, that you would draw them to yourself. I pray that they would be overwhelmed with the good news of the Gospel and that they would begin to share it with their family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In Jesus name, Amen.”

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Grace,

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Chris

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Trying isn?t enough!

In less than 6 weeks I will be backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! I am very excited! I love being outdoors and thoroughly enjoying God’s creation. No shaving, no bathing, no schedule, no email or phone, living off the land eating grubs and pine needles (ok – I bring ramen noodles and oatmeal). Life doesn’t get much better.

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?My big challenge now? I have less than 6 weeks to get into shape. I’ve got some serious leg and cardio work to do – otherwise I’m going to suffer greatly! Training is vital – lack of it could ruin my trip. You see, no matter how hard I try, no matter how determined I might be – if I haven’t trained I’m going to crash and burn on that mountain! (Trust me, I’ve learned by experience.)

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?Living for Jesus is very similar. Everyday Christians try living for God by sheer will and determination when they haven’t done any training. Then they wonder why they failed, why they couldn’t resist temptation, why worry and fear and discouragement come so easy and why courage and peace and self control comes so hard. The answer in most challenging endeavors isn’t effort, its training – taking intentional steps to be prepared. Trying hard is good but training hard is even better.

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?Are you training to live for God? This kind of work out involves bible reading and meditation, journaling, prayer, giving, fasting, solitude, service, etc. These practices are non-negotiable if we are to experience God’s power in our lives. Let me recommend a most excellent book to you on this topic; it’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg. Pick up a copy and devour it – the practical instruction and encouragement will give you some practical ideas for climbing that mountain!

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?For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. I Timothy 4:8

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Peace,
?Dave

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Upward – A Great Season!

Think back to when you were a kid. What did you want to be when you grew up? Chances are somewhere along the way you wanted to be a professional athlete. I know I did…that is until I realized only the best of the best ever make it to the pros. Even after realizing I would never make it to the pros, I still loved playing sports.

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Sports have a strange way of bringing people together. I see this all the time in youth ministry. Get a bunch of students together that don’t know each other, throw a ball in the mix and everyone is happy. Or in cross-cultural missions work where there is a language barrier. Bring out a soccer ball and the barriers disappear. Sports have a way of overcoming boundaries and bringing people together.

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That’s why I’m such a huge fan of Upward Basketball. Each year our church puts on a non-competitive, instructional basketball league for kids from the community. We had another great season this year. The goals of Upward are to develop Salvation, Character, and Self-Esteem in each child. We experienced success in each of these areas. Some became Christ-followers, everyone learned to play with honesty and integrity, and each player was given equal opportunity and play time.

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Yet, I think most of the success of Upward is intangible…we can’t directly measure it. Upward brings people through the doors of our church that wouldn’t think of coming on a Sunday morning. It opens the door for future opportunities and provides a chance for individuals to get acquainted with our church. For some it’s been a while since they’ve thought about God and the role He wants to play in their life. My prayer is that God would continue to work in the hearts of each and every person that came through our doors for Upward this year. That God would meet them right where they are and let them know that he loves them in a way that no one else can, in a way that brings true meaning and purpose to their lives.

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Check out the Upward link on our homepage to learn more about Upward and how you can become part of the future of this ministry.

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Grace,
?Chris
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Where are You?

?It’s not: their amount of bible knowledge, degree of involvement in the church, age, gender, number of years as a believer or years in the church, or the type of church the person attends. None of these factors can accurately predict and / or gauge an individual’s spiritual growth.

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?According the results of REVEAL, a study involving over 16,000 surveys in 30 different congregations, the best way to measure spiritual growth is to describe your relationship with Jesus Christ. A type of spiritual continuum was developed that looks like this:

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•?EXPLORING CHRISTIANITY
?o?“I believe in God, but I’m not sure about Christ. My faith is not a significant part of my life.”
?•?GROWING IN CHRIST
?o?“I believe in Christ, and I’m working on what it means to get to know him.”
?•?CLOSE TO CHRIST
?o?“I feel really close to Christ and depend on him daily for guidance.”
?•?CHRIST-CENTERED
?o?“God is all I need in my life. Everything I do is a reflection of Christ.”

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Where would you place yourself? Are you making progress in your spiritual journey?

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This past Sunday we defined spiritual growth as an increasing love for God and others – the fleshing out of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 22:37-39.

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According to REVEAL data, as a person grows they will resonate more and more with the following statements:

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Increasing spiritual attitudes:
?•?“I love God more than anything else.”
?•?“I seek God’s guidance in every area of my life.”
?•?“I have a tremendous love for people I know and don’t know.”

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Increasing spiritual practices:
?•?“I pray.”
?•?“I pray to confess my sins.”
?•?“I read the Bible.”
?•?“I set aside time to listen to God.”

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Increasing spiritual behaviors:
?•?Tithing – “I give 10% of my income.”
?•?Serving – “I serve 1x per week.”
?•?Witnessing – “I have 6 or more meaningful spiritual conversations per year with non-Christians.”

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What do you think?

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To see more of REVEAL results go to: www.revealnow.com.

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Peace,
?Dave

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