Monthly Archives: March 2011

Monday Randomness

Well folks, let’s do this Monday blog with some random thoughts about life and ministry!
•?Our Building Vision Team had their first meeting last week. We have officially begun are feasibility study – seeking to discern what God would have us do to make room for others at ACC. I’m excited! Each ministry leader is developing a list in regards to our facility – of needs (gotta have), wants (sure would be nice but not a necessity) and dreams (things that would give us great excellence but in no way necessary for an effective ministry). Maybe a hot tub in my office
???•?I’m gearing up to take a 6 week sabbatical that will go from May 9th – June 19th. This will be a time for me to completely unplug from ministry in order to rest and recharge my spiritual batteries. I need it – I am looking forward to it – but I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and May 9th. More details to come…
•?I’m looking forward to a meeting tonight with ACC’s World Outreach Team. We are moving toward raising awareness and interest and support for our missionary families and in developing a strategy for us to make more of an impact world-wide. We are thrilled with our two upcoming short-term mission trips – to Honduras the end of April and to New Orleans the end of June. W.O.T. members include Judy Kristan, Brion Kendzora, Kris Milashus, Lacy Smith and me.
•?My NCAA bracket was horrible this year. I need to do like Adrin Smith and just go with Obama’s picks! So cool though to see Butler and VCU in the final four!
•?I’m preparing for a couple of weeks on the Appalachian Trail this summer – working hard on my legs and lungs, dropping some weight and planning the logistics. Can’t wait!
•?This Friday, April 1st is opening day at Wrigley Field! This is the year – I feel it in my bones – Cubbies all the way!

Book Review

??I?m currently reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. You can see his basic premise right on the cover of the book
“It?s impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature”
I?m about half way through the book, and have really enjoyed it so far. I think Scazzero raises some intriguing thoughts. Starting from the idea that there are 5 parts of who we are as men and women – physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and social – he says that if we ignore one of those parts it always has negative consequences. Examples: ignoring our physical well-being may result in injury, sickness, or even death. Ignoring our social development may leave us isolated and alone. Scazzero believes that the majority of Christians ignore their emotional development. We may see the other areas as important, but tend to ignore the hard work of emotional development. Often this happens because we have real and helpful spiritual experiences through worship, prayer, Bible study, and fellowship. “Success” in this area can make us feel like we are doing fine even if the rest of our life is a mess.
The bottom line is sin has so marred this world, that we experience its affects in every area of our life. The emotional patterns we?ve learned are not exempt. These patterns are difficult to change, but Christ has overcome sin/death and offers us freedom from it. He wants to transform us from the inside out. Scazzero believes that takes a lot of intentional work on our part.
So, what do you think? Do you think a lack of emotional health hinders our spiritual health

Moving forward / Exciting stuff!

The church is people. It’s all about people connecting people with God and then worshiping and serving him together as we reach more people with the good news of Jesus Christ. I love the people of Arlington Countryside Church and it is so exciting to see you reaching out to your friends, neighbors and co-workers – extending to them the invitation to become a part of our family.
Our building is merely a tool for us to use to do effective ministry. God has blessed us with a great facility and we get a lot of good use out of it! But the truth is – we need more room! We want to continue to grow so that means we need to make room for more! We do not want our building to impede us from fulfilling the mission God has given us.
This week we actively begin our partnership with Church Building Consultants to determine what direction God would have us move with our building and facilities. We are beginning phase one – a feasibility study to determine our needs. This will include assessing our current building, as well as our church and ministry infrastructure and our financial health. This effort will lead us to a sound long-range master plan of the building and property. This plan will be developed as a team effort by an architect, our church consultant and our ACC Building Vision Team.
I’m greatly encouraged by the team we have assembled to tackle these strategic responsibilities. Our Building Vision Team includes: Jim Young (chairman), Jessica Birmingham, Rick Dobrowski, Chris Ide, Jim Ray, Karah Roche, Wes Sunu and myself. Please pray for this team – the work they will be doing will be intense and have long-term implications for all of us!
This is exciting! I am super optimistic and just a little bit scared – but I’m convinced God will be with us and He will provide generously!

Upward Review

The 2011 Upward season wrapped up on Sunday, March 13 with an energetic Awards Program.  In addition to a highlight video, unicyclist, cheerleader performances, and door prize drawings, the afternoon featured a clear gospel presentation.  It was a great way to celebrate the seventh season of Upward Basketball and Cheerleading at ACC.
Our Leadership Team has received feedback from parents, coaches, and players from comment cards, verbally, and through email.  I’ve been reminded afresh what a great program Upward is for children and adults.  One mom told me that her son’s team did not win a game all season, but he had a wonderful experience and is already looking forward to next year.  From a secular standpoint, a “losing” season like this would be frustrating and start a flood of complaints.
I was also encouraged to hear from several coaches that they grew in faith throughout the season.  As they prepared for practice and taught verses to children, they learned valuable lessons themselves.
ACC would not be able to present Upward without the support, prayers, and hours of volunteer time from the entire church.  One of my favorite aspects of the ministry is how people with different gifts, interests, and abilities are able to serve.  For example, some dedicated an entire 9-hour Saturday to delivering half-time speeches.  Coaches prepared for and presented practices for ten weeks and showed up on game days, often arriving early and staying late.  We had enthusiastic concession stand workers, people helping with clean-up, dedicated referees, and volunteers who transported our Awards entertainer to and from the airport.
Thank you for allowing Upward to take place at ACC.  Please be praying for the 27 children who indicated that they trusted in Christ for the first time at the Awards Program.  Also pray that families would come to ACC and grow in their faith as a result.  Hope that you will consider being involved next year!  Check out our season highlight video after both services this Sunday.
Guest Blogger,
Allison Bies


It is now 4:08PM on Monday. My day in the office is drawing to a close and I am absolutely amazed by my own thick-headedness. (Is that a word?)
After teaching yesterday morning on the story of Jesus with Mary and Martha in Luke 10, after teaching that our service must flow out of our relationship, after emphasizing that Mary chose the better thing by simply sitting at the feet of Jesus – you know what I did today
?I got here this morning and immediately began tackling my “to-do” list. I have been super busy all day! I was feeling so overwhelmed with everything that I had to do that I skipped taking time to saturate myself in His word, to listen for His voice in prayer, to practice His presence throughout my day.
So now, better late than never, I’m going to sit down out in the auditorium and sit at Jesus’ feet. I’m finally going to choose the better thing.

Praying for Japan

This morning, Rachel had a hard time understanding why Daddy was watching the news instead of putting on Sesame Street for her. No doubt you?ve heard about the devastation that has happened in Japan – one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history followed by severe aftershocks and a tsunami. Here?s a link to some pictures detailing the destruction.
Moments like this remind me of what?s really important. Material things can be destroyed in a matter of seconds, but they can be replaced…people can?t. I hope you?ll join me in praying for God?s comfort for all those in Japan who have lost loved ones.


In observance of Lent, which begins tomorrow (Wednesday, March 9), I am seeking to focus my heart and mind on Christ by reading through the gospel of Mark and by reading a great new book by Tim Keller – King’s Cross. Keller’s book follows Mark’s gospel in revealing the person and work of Jesus.
In the opening chapter of Mark we read:
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Keller notes the significance of Jesus’ message being one of good news:
“The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news.” Keller goes on to explain, “The gospel is that God connects to you not on the basis of what you’ve done (or haven’t done) but on the basis of what Jesus has done, in history, for you. And that makes it absolutely different from every other religion or philosophy.”
I love that. Our faith is one of hearing some good news and believing it! As we begin our spiritual countdown toward Holy Week we must grasp the concept that it’s all about what God has done for us.
What are you doing now to prepare your heart for Easter
?If you don’t already have a plan for your spiritual development this Lenten season – I invite you to join me in spending the next 46 days reading and praying through Mark and King’s Cross.
Also for Lent I am going on a liquid fast. I will be drinking nothing but water until Easter morning. I’ll miss my morning cups of coffee and my evening apple-cinnamon tea but the little bit of self denial will remind me of whom I am living for and what he has done for me.
How do you observe Lent? Are you giving up anything
?I’m praying you experience anew the good news of Jesus Christ.


I?ve got an appointment to see an eye doctor today. I?m long over due for an eye exam and some new contacts. Finally getting around to doing that. While I was out for a run this morning, I began thinking about my “spiritual eye sight”.
I can be so spiritually short-sighted. It?s so easy for me to get caught up in a few things that aren?t going as planned and lose sight of all that God has done and is currently doing. When this shift happens, my heart moves from gratitude to expectation…as if God owes me something. I begin to internalize thoughts like “Where are you God?” or even worse, “What have you done for me recently?”
Psalm 77 has a lot to say about this issue. In the first half of the psalm, the writer expresses his feelings of abandonment, but in verse 10 it takes a turn.??

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I wll remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

??As I refocus on the big picture and remember the past, I?m overwhelmed at all God has done. He?s been faithful time after time. I need to get better about remembering God?s faithfulness.

Necessary Pain

This morning I was reading in Oswald Chamber’s devotional classic My Utmost for His Highest.

??Chambers was talking about Jesus’ pointed question to Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21:17)
This was on the heels of Peter emphatically declaring that he would never deny Jesus – and then promptly denies him three times!
How that question – asked three times – must have pained Peter. Yet the pain and shame were necessary. In order for Peter to become the man God needed him to be – the pain was necessary and good.
Of this, Chambers writes, “Unless we are experiencing the hurt of facing every deception within ourselves, we have hindered the Word of God in our lives.”
Though it might sound counter-intuitive to gaining spiritual maturity, we must each come to grip with the depths of our own depravity, the deceitfulness of our hearts, the corruption of our affections. Only then can God’s Word do its complete work in our lives. As we see no sufficiency in ourselves – it is then that God can do his work in us.
May we experience the anguish of self that Peter experienced.