“Carry each other’s burdens…” Galatians 6:2
Just finished the podcast of Chris Modrzejewski teaching in Galatians 5. He did a great job pointing out that with freedom comes certain responsibilities. The apostle Paul goes on in chapter 6 to get specific on some of these duties that we have all have as Christ followers. We are charged to help each other out when life gets hard. That is what we are to do. And life gets hard pretty often!
Let me suggest some practical ways you can help when you see a brother or sister in Christ going through a difficult time…
•?Be a listening ear. Often a struggling person just needs to talk. So let them. Sit across from them – give them your undivided attention – ask good questions – and let them dump. Don’t feel like you need to solve their problem or come up with the perfect piece of advice – JUST Listen!
•?Send out encouraging words. Be it in person, phone, Facebook, Twitter, email or even a postcard – take the time and effort to reach out to them. Just let them know you care – and that you are praying. Often struggling people feel very isolated and lonely. Just to know someone is thinking about them can be a huge encouragement.
•?Invest in them. I’m talking about forking over some cash – to help pay a bill, to let them enjoy an evening at a restaurant or maybe bring a meal over to their home. If they have young children – offer them free babysitting so they can run errands, do some Christmas shopping or go out to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee.
No doubt you can think of many other ways to reach out.
Can you think of someone you know who has been carrying a heavy burden lately? Reach out to them – lighten their load – and thus fulfill the command of Christ to love one another!
??This Sunday, 11/28, marks the beginning of Advent. If you?re not familiar with the tradition of Advent, let me give you a quick overview. I imagine most of us are familiar with the term Advent in relation to the child?s cardboard calendar consisting of 24 doors. Each day the child opens a door and finds some kind of treat (often chocolate). This continues each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve when the final door is opened (sometimes Christmas day is the final day). I remember having these calendars as a child and looking forward to opening the door and counting down the days until Christmas. I?m sure it?s no surprise that my excitement had more to do with the candy and of course the coming presents and celebration on Christmas Day than it did with the Birth of Christ :)…I mean, who doesn?t like candy and presents right? However, Advent is actually about focusing our hearts and minds on the coming Christ. It begins 4 Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. It?s a time of anticipation, hope, and joy, as we remember Christ?s first coming in Bethlehem as a baby, his continual presence in our lives today, and his future return. Advent does this through daily readings and the lighting of candles.
If you?re like me, it?s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the Christmas season and not give proper attention to the real reason we?re celebrating. Don?t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas…the decorations, the music, the food, the movies and TV shows, I love it all, and there?s certainly a place for it all. I just think we need to be careful to make sure Christ doesn?t get lost in all the other stuff. That?s why I appreciate Advent. It?s a daily reminder of where my focus should be.
Here?s a few ideas to help you focus your heart this Advent season??
- Sign up for a daily advent devotion to be emailed to you. Check out http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/?p=455
- Use the following reading schedule adapted from the Lectionary. http://www.crivoice.org/advent1.html
- Consider purchasing a wreath and candles for your family to observe Advent together. Check out http://www.christianbook.com/advent for some great and affordable resources.
??Whether or not you chose to observe Advent, I hope you?ll find someway to keep your heart and mind focused on Christ this Christmas seasons.
1. It’s very close to my house. (1.1 miles)
2. We have a staff that loves God for real. They are in the ministry for all the right reasons. They are loyal, hardworking and fun! I love Carolyn, Kris, Chris, Jim and Scott.
3. We have our own coffee mugs.
4. We give away those coffee mugs to new people.
5. Our people are exceedingly generous with their time, money and energy.
6. Cool website.
7. Perhaps the most unpretentious group of people I have ever met.
8. A garbage can in nearly every room. Some rooms have two.
9. Folks with sweet names like Eli, Beauton, Abner, Elena, Zoe, Kimie, Brion, Jedidiah and Anamite.
10. Free coffee on Sunday mornings. Free.
11. Packer fans and Bear fans live in relative harmony.
12. Sox and Cubs fans don’t hate each other too much.
13. Lots of new babies to hold.
14. We got a gym that smells like a gym. (The way God intended it to be.)
15. We got a team of elders that smell like elders. (The way God intended it to be.) These guys love us and provide some exemplary leadership; an atomic high-five to Dale, Ken, Jim, Jim, John and Ray.
16. We got a Pit that smells like a pit. Seriously.
17. Indoor plumbing.
18. A warm, welcoming atmosphere.
19. We got our own pens.
20. We value fun.
21. Very few incidents of rabies, psoriasis or problem dandruff.
22. We have a true heart to reach the un-churched and help the needy.
23. Soft, velvety offering bags.
24. If you choose to walk into the auditorium on a Sunday morning and intentionally sit in a row that was roped off – you can do so and while you might get a quick, dirty look from an usher – they will not publicly chastise you or make you move.
25. Two words: Lobby fireplace.
What on my list would make your list? What would you add
??Have a thankful Thanksgiving. God has blessed us with so much – the gift of Christ is definitely the best!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! - 2 Corinthians 5:17
??We?ve got some new creations in our youth ministry! In the past week, we had 5 students cross the line of faith. PRAISE GOD!
I?m so excited about what is going on the youth ministry right now. This Fall, we?ve seen lots of new faces and many meaningful, Christ-centered relationships develop. God is doing some big things.
We?ve been challenging our students to begin praying for and reaching out to their friends who don?t know Christ. Each week, we?re seeing students rise to that challenge and it?s spreading like wildfire. Just last night at Pit Stop (middle school youth group) we had almost double our normal attendance because of students taking seriously the challenge to reach out to their friends.
This weekend, we?re off to Camp Awana in WI for our High School Fall Retreat. We?re looking forward to the opportunity to spend extended time with some of our high schoolers (some of whom are included in the 5 mentioned above). We?d appreciate your prayers for our time this weekend.
Christianity is NOT a spectator sport. There is to be no bleachers. There is no bench. Everyone is on the field – everyone is to be in the game.
We are described as “God’s fellow workers”. (II Cor.6:1)
We have been told to faithfully use our giftedness to “serve others”. (I Pt.4:10)
We have been admonished “Do not neglect your gift…” (I Tim.4:14)
Therefore at ACC we are committed to the environmental value of being PARTICIPATORY.
We use a team approach to ministry – we freely dispense responsibilities and authority. We challenge people to find their niche and then serve wholeheartedly. We get new people at ACC involved sooner rather than later.
We know the effective functioning of the church depends on each person fulfilling their role: holding a baby in the nursery, listening to verses recited at Awana, teaching a kid to dribble at an Upward practice, leading a Growth Group, greeting folks at the door on a Sunday morning, stuffing the bulletins, praying with someone who is hurting, teaching the Middle school Sunday school class, stocking our food pantry or patching leaks on the roof.
We want to be a church that is PARTICIPATORY.
Come people! Get off the bench and into the game! We need you.
I love our Tech Team here at ACC. Tech Team is the ministry that runs our sound board, lights, and computer slides every Sunday morning. I think the average person doesn?t realize how difficult and demanding this job is. And yet, this is one of those behind-the-scenes ministries that gets little, if any, public recognition and affirmation. One of the interesting things about this ministry is that when everything goes smoothly, when the band and speaker and walk-in music sound great, when the lyric slides are perfectly timed and the videos play smoothly, no one notices, because that is what people expect. However, when one little thing goes wrong, whether it is a missed mic cue or a video that doesn?t play right, people turn around and glare at the person in the booth!
In some ways, I think the Tech Team has a harder job than anyone on stage, because they have to be focused and tuned in to what is going on for 100% of the service, ready to hit the next button on the sound board or advance to the next slide on the computer. Without our Tech Team, we wouldn?t be able to see or hear anything that?s going on – so I think that makes them a vital ministry at ACC.
I am reminded of Colossians 3:23-24 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” I know the men and women who serve on our Tech Team truly have a heart to serve God and don?t feel the need to be recognized for their service – but I also know they would be encouraged to hear some people stop by the booth and say “Great job!” or to thank them for their service. Next time you walk by the tech booth, why don?t you stop and say thanks to our team for serving our church week after week with excellence
If you read the first few chapters of Genesis without knowing anything else at all about God – you would easily conclude that God is CREATIVE.
If you were to go out in your backyard to look at the night sky or spend an hour walking through the woods or watch a spider spin her web – you would be impressed by God’s CREATION.
If you were to witness the birth of a baby and see him take in his first breaths and be received into his mother’s arms – you would marvel at the CREATIVITY of our God.
David, the shepherd – psalm writer noted: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day pour forth speech; night after night display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4
Paul understood the theological implications behind it when he wrote: “…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20
One of the most readily apparent attributes of God is that He is Creative.
Being CREATIVE is one of our environmental values at ACC. Perhaps of all our values – this one is the most aspirational; meaning that though we are somewhat creative, we desire (aspire) to be much more creative. Are we not like God when we create for his glory
?We desire our creativity to be seen in our teaching, our worship, our children’s and youth ministries, our music, our website, our blog, our use of our resources and technology and in our connecting with our culture.
I believe God has uniquely designed each of us as a pleasing creative expression of himself. Though you may not consider yourself to be creative – I think you are. You are a one-of-a kind and when you serve him and others with your unique blend of talents, experiences and personality – you create a pleasing testimony to his grace in your life.
We want to be a church that is CREATIVE!
I’m convinced that will make God smile.
Earlier this week, I was awoken by my mom (who lives with us), getting up at 5:10AM, and thus waking everyone else up, quickly followed by one daughter having a tantrum about subtraction and another completely indecisive about what to have for breakfast. I actually didn’t get upset and was very calm and quiet, which admittedly in these situations, can be somewhat unusual. Perhaps I can blame it on not being fully awake; perhaps I can attribute it to the quiet prayers I was saying over and over “Lord, help me be patient. Lord, help me be patient”. I’d like to think it was the latter.
So, this situation and my reaction, or lack of reaction, made me think of the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25-26), of which patience is the fourth virtue listed. It also made me think of the phrase “patience is a virtue”, which is actually not found in the Bible. According to the website phrases.org, the phrase “patience is a virtue” became popular around the time that Chaucer wrote “The Canterbury Tales” (between 1387 and 1400), and was first used in the United States around 1724. Just a little useless trivia.
But, the Bible does have many references as to the importance of patience. My favorite is found in Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”. I know Paul didn’t have parenting in mind when he wrote this, but what parent can’t relate with it? The hope that your child will straighten up and fly right? Patient when they afflict you with messy rooms, talking back, and spilt milk? And faithful in your prayers for your child.
I sometimes wonder where that patient, calm person in her 20’s disappeared to. I know it was sometime after these little people called “children” entered my life. I love my girls. In the big scheme of life, I think that sometimes we really need to be reminded about how unimportant the little things are. Milk can be cleaned up. It’s OK to wear a Mario Brothers t-shirt every day. Subtraction can always be done later. The most important thing to me about raising my girls is that they establish a love and faith in Jesus as their Savior and servants hearts. Parenting is not easy, but it is the most important thing that we do, whether you parent your own child, or are a parent figure to someone else’s children.
A friend shared this quote on her Facebook page the other day, and I find it to be so true: “In a woman’s life, there are few things, if any, that rival the title, “Mom.” Initially motherhood feels like an awkward fit, but in time, it feels more like the favorite sweater you refuse to take off, despite the fact that it’s unraveling in places and has a few choice stains.” — Nicole Nordeman
God is always faithful and loves His children. I wish you peace in parenting.
Guest blogger: Kris Milashus
Look up the word AUTHENTIC in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and this is what you will see:
AUTHENTIC: true to one?s own personality, spirit, or character
Related to AUTHENTIC
Synonyms: bona fide, certifiable, certified, dinkum[Australian & New Zealand], echt, genuine, honest, pukka(also pucka), real, right, sure-enough, true, for real
Antonyms: bogus, counterfeit, fake, false, mock, phony(also phoney), pseudo, sham, spurious, suppositious,supposititious, unauthentic, unreal
That my friend describes quite well the environment you will find at ACC – the kind of people that are in abundance at ACC: genuine, real, what you see is what you get. I like the word UNPRETENTIOUS.
Being AUTHENTIC is one of our environmental values. The last two Mondays I’ve blogged some thoughts about being FUN and WARM. In the upcoming two weeks I’ll be focusing on us being CREATIVE and PARTICIPATORY. But today let’s focus on the importance of us being AUTHENTIC.
People in our society have become increasingly skeptical of religion in general and of churches in particular. They have their “baloney radar” up and running. Credibility is an issue for us. To try posturing ourselves as better than what we really are – is a huge mistake. We must own up to our inconsistencies, our dysfunction, and our hypocrisy. We are not perfect, we have not arrived. (Yet we must be diligent to be making progress in our Christ-likeness.)
I also think that it’s true that when a person walks into a church that values authenticity it gives them the freedom to own up to their own brokenness and face their own demons. They are infused with hope that change is possible, that they are not alone, that maybe they have indeed stumbled upon a community where they will be accepted rather than judged and criticized.
We must not wear masks. And we must not punish others when they refuse to wear a mask. To be our genuine self does not necessarily mean that we are happy or content with who we are – just that we are being honest – no pretense – no games.
It’s been said that if we share only strengths we create competition. When we share our weaknesses we create community. Creating such an atmosphere perpetuates further vulnerability and honesty – that’s where healing and deep relationships can begin.
We want to be a church that is authentic!
Let’s keep it real folks!