Tomorrow is a big day for me. I?ll be running my second half marathon. This time last year, I ran my first and loved it. I?ll be running the IL Marathon in Champaign/Urbana again. I?ve improved quite a bit in the past year and should be on pace to finish a full 13-14 minutes faster than my time last year. I?ll post my results in a comment on Saturday or Sunday for those of you who are interested :).
I never thought I would, but I really have come to love running. It?s been quite the journey. About 2 years ago I could hardly run around the block and now I?m preparing to run a full marathon this fall (Chicago). I?ve learned a lot about myself along the way. Here are a few things that stick out…??
- I?m capable of more than I think. There is an unfortunate voice I deal with on a daily basis that says “you can?t do that,” or “that?s beyond your ability.” I honestly don?t know where it comes from. Perhaps it?s fear of failure or just plain old self-doubt. Wherever it comes from, running has helped me to silence it. I can do it and I?ll never know my true limits unless I try.
- I always have time for what I want to have time for. It?s so easy to give the excuse, I?m too busy for _______ . I?m embarrassed to admit that I?ve caught myself displaying this kind of thinking in my relationship with God…I?m too busy to spend time in the word today. FALSE! I?m master of my schedule and I have time for what I want to have time for.
- Change is tough, but it?s worth it. The benefits I?ve experienced from running are huge! I?ve lost weight, I?ve got more energy, my blood pressure and cholesterol are down, and I?ve developed some great relationships with men in our church as we?ve spent time pounding the pavement together.
??My race starts at 7:30am Saturday morning. Wish me luck!
I started following Stephen Altrogge on Twitter because his tweets made me laugh. When I had the opportunity to get his latest book I jumped at the chance, because I figured – “Hey, if he tweets funny – maybe he writes funny too!”
In The Greener Grass Conspiracy you can easily see his sense of humor but his biblical insight on the topic of contentment is what makes his book worth the read. We are all fooled by the same bogus thinking. It goes like this: IF ONLY. As in, If only I had more money I’d be happy, or if only I could get married I’d be happy or if only I could lose 20 pounds I’d be happy or If only my boss wasn’t an idiot I could be happy or…well, you get the idea.
The problem is NOT our circumstances. Even if we gained our “If onlys” we still wouldn’t be content. Altrogge asserts, “Discontentment is the result of misplaced worship. It’s the result of giving your heart to someone or something that should never have it. When we stake our happiness on anything other than God, we’re going to be miserable. Why? Because we were made to worship God and find all our joy in him.”
The author than goes on with some very practical advice for identifying and destroying our idols – idols that rob of us of our joy and contentment. His chapter on the sin of complaining was dead on and a bit uncomfortable! Bottom line: We must find our contentment in our sovereign, loving God and in him alone.
I think you will be encouraged and challenged by this book! Watch this for more info!
On Good Friday we remember the story of Jesus death. We call it “good” because we know the rest of the story (He didn?t stay dead), but the events of this day are dark indeed. Today, I?ve tried to imagine myself in Christ?s shoes…what was he thinking, what was he feeling? Here are a few of my thoughts??
- Betrayed – On Thursday night, Judas? found the opportunity he had been looking for and carried out his plan to turn Jesus over to the chief priest.
- Let down – Late Thursday night Jesus took His disciples to Gethsemane and asked them to keep watch and to pray…they couldn?t stay awake. Shortly after Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing him, not once, but three times.
- Grieved - The descriptions of Christ?s “trial” before the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pilate, his flogging and crucifixion, and the way he was mocked as he hung on the cross, are some of the most heinous displays of sin imaginable. It turns my stomach to think of the depths of human depravity. I imagine Christ was grieved at the falleness of humanity.
- Alone - As Jesus hung on the cross, he bore the sin of the world and God the Father abandoned God the Son. The scriptures tell us that darkness came over the land from about noon to 3pm as Jesus hung on the cross. Scholars believe this darkness is evidence of God pouring out his wrath and judgement of sin.
??A dark day for sure. May we never forget the costliness of our salvation, and yet remember that the story doesn?t end here. “It?s Friday, but Sunday?s coming!”
Five things that have me pumped at ACC:
1.?The four powerful faith stories in our baptism service yesterday. It was so great to hear of the power of Christ to impact the lives of Erika Ray, Emily Schmidt, Jenni Costello and Cathy Elfstrand. Congrats ladies!
2.?In less than two weeks we’ll be sending a team of 12 people to Honduras for a week of medical work and evangelism. It will be life-changing for them – I wish I was going!
3.?Remodeling has begun on the restrooms off of the gym – thanks to your generous donations to our end of year giving project in 2010. This project will be complete by the end of this month.
4.?On May 4th Church Building Consultants will have some preliminary drawings to show to our Building Vision Team – based upon our feasibility study. I’m anxious to see what they come up with.
5.?Our Good Friday and Easter services our going to be a great remembrance and celebration – times of heart-felt worship. I hope you are planning to invite someone to join us on Sunday. Be sure to arrive early – we anticipate a full house! (Remember – if some of you 10:30AM folks could switch to the 9AM just for this week – that would help with our seating space issues – thanks!)
As Easter draws near, I imagine many of you are busy getting ready – dying eggs, making meal preparations, doing some shopping, maybe even making travel plans. I regularly read the Family Matters Blog and thought they had a great post this morning about how to help your family prepare for Easter. I hope you?ll check it out and make plans to join us at ACC for our Good Friday and Easter Services.
On this start of a new week I wanted you to hear from a young couple at ACC who have a very exciting and fruitful future. You will love their story. Read on…
Hey ACC! Dave has given us the wonderful privilege of taking over his blog for a day. Needless to say we feel pretty special. Annette and I just wanted to give everyone a mini update on where we think God is leading us this summer and beyond.
Where we?re at:
We feel God is leading us to become long term missionaries with an organization called New Tribes Mission. New Tribes works with un-reached people groups all around the globe and strives to bring them the Gospel in their heart language. To start off NTM training, Annette and I attended a two year bible school in Waukesha, Wisconsin. We both learned so much about Gods word, about ourselves and how we can continue to grow closer to Christ in our daily walk with God. As you probably have guessed that is where we met and fell in love and the rest is history.
?NTM requires four years of training all together. The first requirement was Bible school and now we have two more years of missionary training in the great north. The land flowing with milk and maple syrup (or as others call it, Canada). The courses include: language learning, phonetics, linguistics, how to study a culture, and all different kinds of hands on, practical learning. One of the things we will do is called “Jungle Camp”. This part of the training requires us to live out in the woods for a whole month! During the month you build your own house and learn a vast array of outdoor survival skills. All this training is to make sure we are fully prepared for the mission field and will hopefully alleviate some of the fears we have about missionary work. We are shooting for starting school at the end of August.??Lord we can?t, but you can!
Without Gods grace and guidance we are nothing. We do not feel worthy of such a task, but we continue to lean on the fact that God is bigger than our worries. He is able to use us regardless of our insufficiencies. Missionary training is another step forward in fulfilling the desires of our heart, which are similar to the apostle Paul?s when he said: “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.” Romans 15:20. Please lift us up in prayer as we continue to make these life changing decisions. Your prayers and support encourage us always and keep us going towards the calling God set before us.
In Christ,??Brion and Annette Kendzora
How great and encouraging is that??!! ACC will have the privilege of being their “sending” church. We hope to have a very long and rewarding partnership with Brion and Annette for many years to come. We want to generously support them financially and with our prayers – beginning now! Go ACC! Go Kendzoras!
My Grandpa passed away on Wednesday evening after an 8 year battle with cancer. He fought long and hard and is finally at rest now. The past couple days, I?ve been reflecting on John chapter 11. In this beautiful passage, we see Jesus interacting with those who have lost a loved one…one whom Jesus loved as well.??
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
??As Jesus interacted with Mary, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled and He wept. In this difficult time, I find comfort in the fact that Jesus has experienced what my family and I are experiencing. He knows what it is to lose a loved one. Our God is a God who is intimately involved in our lives. He meets us in our pain.
This past weekend the elders and staff got away for our annual 24 hour retreat at Lake Geneva Conference Center in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Normally we cram in as much work as possible – a real concentrated time of planning, strategizing and prayer.
But this year was different. We felt the need to just have some fun. (After all, fun is an ACC value!) We needed to just hang out and recharge our spiritual and relational batteries. So we had a great dinner together at Sprechers on Lake Geneva’s waterfront. (I recommend their barbecue burger!) We played volleyball. We went for a hike. We played a little ping-pong and snacked on pistachios and cookies and peanut M & M’s.
The highlights of the retreat though were the times we sat around and talked. Friday night we reflected on God’s incredible faithfulness to our church. We swapped stories of all the blessings we have experienced over the last few years. It was a time of heart-felt praise and gratitude. So encouraging! On Saturday morning we got alone on our own for about an hour to read and meditate on I Timothy 3-4. We gathered and sang songs of worship to our God. Then we shared how God spoke to us through his word. We were challenged as leaders to lead by example, to lead ourselves properly before we could ever hope to lead someone else. We were reminded that being is more important than doing. Then we prayed for each other. It was great.
We left for home on Saturday afternoon so very thankful for ACC and for each other. It is such a privilege for me to serve on this team. I can’t imagine working alongside anyone else. These people are my valued co-workers and dear friends. Being part of a ministry team that truly loves God and each other is the best! I am thankful beyond words. I thought you might like to know that!
Based on an informal survey we did a couple weeks ago. I?m excited to announce a few new things that will be going on here at ACC starting this Sunday.
1 – Can you say Jacuzzitismal? We replaced our baptismal with a hot tub! With baptisms scheduled for mid April, we thought it would be a good time to make this very important upgrade. Now you can get dunked for Jesus and soothe your aching muscles at the same time!
2 – Beach themed auditorium. We removed the pews, trucked in sand, and put up lots of fake palm trees. Bring a blanket and/or a beach chair. We?ll be cranking the heat, so feel free to come in your Sandals (some of us already do this ;)), shorts and a t-shirt.
3 – Valet parking. Our high school students have graciously offered to park your car for you. There will be a team of students eagerly waiting for your keys when you arrive on Sunday morning.