Monthly Archives: September 2010

Faith In Action

What an adrenaline rush!
The Bears / Packers game on Monday night was crazy exciting! (And quite satisfying IF you are a Bears fan!)
But that is NOT the adrenaline rush I am talking about.
I am talking about the excitement produced by Faith In Action at ACC this past Sunday, September 26th. This was the 3rd annual event where we cancel our two morning worship services. Instead, we scatter throughout our community for 2-3 hours to humbly serve others. The challenge: rather than GO to church – to better yet BE the church. We then wrapped up a full day with a Celebration Service in our gym followed by a delicious pizza party together.
The highlights:
•?We had well over 140 people enthusiastically involved in the various service projects.
•?We served at 13 homes of the elderly – including such things as cleaning gutters, raking, trimming bushes, scraping / painting, and washing a lot of windows. We are building some solid, loving relational bridges as we have been at some of these homes for 3 years in a row now. These dear folks are so grateful for the help. They know someone cares!??•?We were at 6 different local grocery stores handing out fliers as shoppers entered – encouraging them to purchase a few extra food items to deposit in our box on their way out. So many responded in a most generous way!
•?Others canvassed various neighborhoods, where earlier in the week we hung over 1,200 door hangers warning people that we were coming on Sunday morning! Our folks did a lot of walking and collected even more food donations.
•?We collected a total of at least 3,061 food items – it was a mountain of food! All that we collected was donated to the Wheeling Township Food Pantry. Our strategic partnership with them in recent years has been very fruitful.
•?Thelma Talamantes, Director of General Assistance of Wheeling Township offices joined us as our special guest at our Celebration Service. She spoke of the tremendous needs within our community and thanked us for our help. Her words were insightful and encouraging.
Consider the words from the New Testament book of James –
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17
Together as a church we are joyously learning that our faith must translate into serving others – especially those most in need in our community.
Did you participate in Faith In Action? What was your experience like? What did you see? What did you learn? What impressions were you left with
?I am already eager for next year! Plan now to be a part of the action – it is a total rush!
Peace,??Dave??

Reasoning with God

I was recently struck by a verse in the book of Isaiah: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (1:18a). I have been thinking about what this means. God personally invites us to reason with him- that is, think logically and rationally and come to an agreement with him. This verse reminds me of two great attributes of God: He is merciful and personal.
In the passage, this reasoning involves seeing sin for what it is. Isaiah addresses people who have turned their backs on God. I do this daily. Many times daily. More times than I like to admit. However, God in his grace, wants me to see the devastating nature of sin, discontinue the behavior, and turn to him to live a new way through Christ.
What is reasonable? Basically, I deserve to be punished. However, the holy creator of the universe invites me to approach him. Thus, my logical, or reasonable, response should be repentance! There really are only two choices: continue sinning, which leads to more destruction and an increasingly calloused heart, or repent, which results in blessing.
I struggle with allowing “acceptable” sins and downplaying the gravity of sin. With God?s help, I want to seek to make confession and repentance a more regular part of my Christian walk. It is unreasonable to ignore, categorize, and continue in sin. I encourage you to think about God’s invitation to reason with him and think and live differently as a result.
Guest blogger: Allison Bies??

Journaling: Not just for adolescent girls!

I have been journaling lately. (That sounds manlier than writing, “I have been keeping a diary lately.”)

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I probably average 3 entries per week. Sometimes I take up 2 full pages but more often about a ½ page will do me fine. I do not remember where I learned this model but I number the page 1 through 5 and briefly scribble about the following:

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1.?YESTERDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS – as I reflect upon yesterday’s events I am reminded of God’s blessings, things I need to follow-up on or something funny that happened. Sometimes I notice that I forgot to say thanks to someone, I accomplished a lot more than I thought I could or that I am starting to neglect my family or my own health. What I actually jot down though are the highlights.

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2.?CLEARING MY CONSCIENCE – Maybe I was impatient with a friend, maybe I experienced a little road rage…If nothing readily comes to mind then I pause and ask God to point out any sins I committed recently that have gone unconfessed. See Psalm 139:23-24.

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3.?SAYING THANKS – Expressing thankfulness is so important; my list ranges from the nice weather to my awesome co-workers at ACC to a Bears victory over the Cowboys!!!

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4.?LORD, I NEED YOUR HELP WITH… – Dependence upon God for all things is important but what are the things on my “TO Do “ list that seem particularly in need of his assistance?

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5.?LORD, DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY TO ME? – Usually my journaling is following time spent in His Word and in prayer. I now stop to sit and quietly listen. Am I sensing his leading? Do I feel impressed to be obedient in some specific way? Some days this 5th line is blank – if I don’t hear his voice then I don’t just make up something to write down.

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I find this helpful in my walk with Christ. In a busy and stressful world journaling forces me to slow down for a few minutes and be introspective. Go out and buy a little notebook, grab a pen and try it for a few weeks. This might just be a spiritual discipline that would be just what you need to get growing!

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Peace,
?Dave

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Is Fun Inappropriate?

Fun. Should that describe a church?

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Yesterday in my sermon I unveiled our new vision frame – an 18 month project of our elders and staff.

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One side of the frame is our environmental values. These are not what we do but they describe how we do things. What we value in our ACC church environment. Think of them as the “vibe” we give off – or at least the “vibe” we want to give off.

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Our five identified values include being: fun, warm, authentic, creative and participatory.

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Please give me some feedback.

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Which of these do you most resonate with in your experience at ACC?

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Do you consider it too provocative to list fun as a value for a church?

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Any other thoughts, comments or questions? Come on people – talk to me! (Please leave comments directly on the blog – not on Facebook).

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Peace,
?Dave

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Worrying Stinks

The men?s small group I?m in is currently reading through Francis Chan?s book Crazy Love. I wanted to share a few paragraphs with you that really hit me this week.

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But then there?s that perplexing command: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). You?ll notice that it doesn?t end with “…unless you?re doing something extremely important.” No, it?s a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, “Do not be anxious about anything” (v.6).

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That came as a pretty staggering realization. But what I realized next was even more staggering.

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When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, and my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God?s command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a “right” to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.

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Worry implies that we don?t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what?s happening in our lives.

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Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

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Crazy Love, p 41-42

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Chan goes on to say “Both worry and stress reek of arrogance.” I?ve never really put it in those terms before. That?s hard to swallow, but I think he?s right on. What do you think?

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Grace,
?Chris

Spotting the Fakes

Art forgeries are often very hard to catch. Only those who are experts with the original classic paintings can spot the fakes.

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Secret Service agents – given the responsibility of identifying counterfeit currency – carefully study legal currency, so that they can quickly nail bad money.

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As followers of Christ we are always to beware of bad doctrine – false teaching – that does not line up with Scripture.

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In fact, Jude said, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith…” – this means to become doctrinally strong – knowledgeable in the Word. As Paul advised Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” If we do this, we will be able to identify false teaching quickly.

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Read and study your bible – there is no substitute.
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?Let me suggest two other resources to help you become doctrinally strong:

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The ESV Study Bible – the best study bible I have ever seen – I highly recommend you purchase one – you then get access to the online version too! http://www.esvstudybible.org/

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Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem. This book is a very helpful and concise book on the basic keys of Christian doctrine from a respected theologian. http://amzn.to/coHiRw

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You may be a biblical neophyte – or an experienced, well seasoned bible student – regardless – there is always more to learn. Get going – get learning – today! Your life will be incredibly enriched and you won’t fall victim to heretical teachings!

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Peace,
?Dave

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Hope in the Midst of Suffering

I recently got involved with a youth ministry learning community/training group. I?m loving it! The driving force behind the material we are covering is that Jesus not only gives us a model for living our lives, but also a model for doing ministry. So, if we want to know how to improve our ministries, we need to study the life of Christ.

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In one of my assignments, they asked us to consider how Christ suffered for us. I immediately thought of the cross, as I?m sure most Christians do. However, the point of the lesson was to broaden our understanding of the life of Christ. We know very little about his childhood, but there are some passages that give us some insight. One verse that really stuck with me is

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Isaiah 53:3a “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…”

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Jesus was a man of sorrows. He was familiar with suffering. In other words, the cross wasn?t his first experience with suffering. I don?t know about you, but that?s huge for me! I?ve always really connected with

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Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”

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Knowing the humanity of Christ is powerful. He understands us…he can relate to what we?re going through. But for some reason, I?ve always put suffering into a different category…as if it wasn?t part of the life of Christ (apart from the cross of course). Suffering is a product of living in a fallen world. John 1 teaches us that Christ left heaven and took up residence with us on earth. Christ entered our fallen world and as a result experienced life just as we do, suffering included. Perhaps we could “rewrite” Hebrews 4:15 to say something like “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our suffering, but we have one who has been subjected to suffering just as we have-yet all his suffering was undeserved.”

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It?s powerful for me to understand that my savior has walked in my shoes. He “gets” what life is like for me and offers me hope. If you are in a place of suffering, I hope that you can connect with the savior who is acquainted with your sorrow.

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Grace,
?Chris

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