Monthly Archives: May 2008

A Walk in the Woods

?Step off on the right and I’ll be in North Carolina; step off on the left and I’ll be in Tennessee. That’s part of the fun in hiking the section of the Appalachian Trail that meanders through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! For the next week I’ll be carrying everything I need on my back, enjoying the beautiful world of God’s creation. I can’t wait – I love it!

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?My spiritual temperament is that of the naturalist. I draw close to God through nature – I feel his presence in a very tangible way outdoors. Each time I begin my hike I pray and invite Jesus to walk with me. It is a time I cherish to recharge my spiritual batteries; to pray, to think, to relax, to enjoy the trees and the wildflowers and the spectacular views from the mountain tops. I take time each day to read a small portion of Scripture and then meditate on it through out the day.

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?What specific step can you take in this upcoming week to connect with God in a fresh way? Maybe you could take a walk in a nearby forest preserve or lay in a hammock in your backyard grooving to some worship tunes or grab your bible, a cup of coffee and head for your front porch. Let me encourage you to do something! God is anxious to spend time with you. I’ll be going for a walk in the woods…

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Peace,
?Dave

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Reckless?

What is the difference between living a bold life of great faith and being reckless? Where is the line separating an admirable trust in God and being irresponsible and maybe even stupid? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately…

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?When David stepped forward to fight Goliath, David’s brothers thought he was being an arrogant jerk. When Caleb and Joshua wanted to go kick some Canaanite tail, the other ten spies were convinced that to attempt such would be a certain death sentence. In 1955 when five young missionaries were speared to death in the Ecuadorian jungle while trying to reach the headhunters of the Waorani tribe, the secular press ripped into them for their brash foolishness.

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?What got me thinking about this was our current work in developing the budget for our new fiscal year beginning July 1. Money has been a bit tight around here lately. We have not been meeting our monthly giving goals for the Sunday offerings in recent months, yet we have a bold vision that we are convinced that God has given us to accomplish: TO REACH AN ADDITIONAL 212 YOUNG FAMILIES BY THE YEAR 2012. Now that is a big, hairy, audacious goal!!! In the 1 ½ years since we went public with that goal we have gained 26 new families. I think that is awesome, but we still have a lot of work to do! Now understand, it’s not about numbers per se, we just are asking God to use us big time – not little time! Each one of those numbers represents a family whose very existence has been rocked by the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. I am all about that!

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?Okay, so now I’ll get to my point: A big, hairy audacious goal (BHAG) needs a big, hairy, audacious budget to resource our efforts properly. We realize that we cannot divide the money pie evenly to every ministry at ACC – we must prioritize those ministries that will best move us forward to reach our BHAG. So where is the line that separates being a good manager of ACC’s money and being people who step out in faith believing that God will miraculously provide? If we are too cautious – we lack faith. If we are too aggressive – we’re irresponsible.

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?This is our current challenge. What do you think? I’d love to know! I have some ideas of my own but I’m keeping them to myself – for now!

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Please be praying for our Operations Task Force (OTF), led by Jim Young, as they wrestle with these issues in developing our ’08-09 budget.

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Peace,
?Dave

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Paul Potts makes me cry

Why does this make me cry virtually every time I watch it? I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Watch it yourself before you read any further:

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DelJrP3P7tA

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?Do I cry because:

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•?It’s a voice so beautiful and perfect that it must be a gift from a beautiful and perfect God?
?•?I resonate so strongly with a person fulfilling their dreams against all odds?
?•?I realize how I often judge people by outward appearance, missing who they really are and what they can do?

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Chinese pastor and author Watchman Nee once observed that humans are the only animal God created with the capacity to shed tears. That when we refuse to cry we reduce ourselves to the level of a brute beast. That tears have a almost medicinal, cleansing effect on our soul. That we are never more like creatures with the thumb print of God then when we cry? I wonder…

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Peace,
?Dave

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The Itch to be Rich

If I had to choose between being filthy rich or being dirt poor…hmmm, let me think…I’d choose rich! Let me explain why. You see, I’m the one person who would not get all wrapped up in it; I’d still be the same lovable guy but only now I’d have my own indoor tennis court, I’d take all my Cubs fan friends to my skybox at Wrigley Field and I’d take my wife on a European tour of all the great cathedrals (a dream of hers). I’d buy each of my kids a house; pay off their college debts and give them season tickets to the Cubs, Bears and Blackhawks. It would be awesome. Is there anyone who hasn’t fantasized about being mega rich?
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? King Solomon of Israel some 2,900 years ago was fabulously wealthy and he said it was meaningless! He denied himself nothing that he desired and yet all his possessions left him unfulfilled. For those of us who have never had a lot of money – conclusions like that seem to ring hollow. It’s like, “Come on!”

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Why do we have such a hard time believing more money wouldn’t make our life better? Why are almost all of us convinced that riches would never draw our hearts away from God? I don’t consider myself to be a materialistic person and yet money and things and bills and debt and my financial future consume far more of my mental energy than I’d care to admit.

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From our look at Ecclesiastes 5 this past Sunday the Next Step challenges were:

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•?I will read through the book of Ecclesiastes this week.
?•?I will carefully read II Corinthians 8-9 this week.
?•?I will sit down with my spouse / close friend and talk about the place money has in my life.

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The reason I’ve been suggesting next steps each week is to challenge each of us to not just sit under the teaching of God’s word but also to respond to it – be a doer of the word. To do anything less? We’re just fooling ourselves.

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Lately I’m seeing the wisdom in a little proverb of Agur:

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“Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
? give me neither poverty nor riches,
? but give me only my daily bread.
? Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
? and say, ?Who is the LORD ??
? Or I may become poor and steal,
? and so dishonor the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:8-9

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Peace,
?Dave

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Know to Grow?

One of the projects for the ACC staff in the next few months is to develop a discipleship strategy – a set of specific next steps that a new believer could take to move toward spiritual maturity.

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?So, I am now turning to you! What helped you to grow once you became a follower of Christ? What do you think a person needs to know in order to grow?

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Also, what spiritual disciplines do you currently practice in order to keep growing?

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Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

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Peace,
?Dave

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