Monthly Archives: May 2011

Interesting Thoughts on a Difficult Doctrine

In yesterday?s sermon, we took a look at Matthew 7:13-14…the narrow vs. wide road…the exclusivity of Christianity. A hard truth for sure and one that I hope motivates you to reach out to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members that don?t yet know God.
On this issue of eternal destiny, I think Francis Chan has some great thoughts for us. Check out the video below for a preview of his latest book (refresh your browser if it didn?t appear). I look forward to reading his new book Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity and the things we made up which comes out July 1, 2011.


Car Races, BBQs, & Memorials

What is Memorial Day weekend for you? Is it the start of summer vacation? Time to spend with family and friends? A three day weekend
?Chances are it?s a lot of things. Perhaps the most widely observed non-religious holiday in the US, much has developed around this day. Whatever your plans are for this weekend, I hope you?ll take time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

God?s Grace and Tae Kwon Do

My daughter, Madi, earned her blue belt in Tae Kwon Do last week.  She’d been taking lessons at the park district for the past three years with a wonderful instructor, but I broke down and signed her up at the actual Tae Kwon Do school, since it appears she has every intention of pursuing it.  Her instructor is Master Kim.  A few words on Master Kim:  he is slight in stature, I cannot tell how old he is, but he has grey hair.  Among his accomplishments, Master Kim is a 9th degree black belt, was an instructor for the CIA and Green Berets, and is the American Tae Kwon Do Federation President.  In short, I believe that Master Kim could kick my butt in less than a second – he strikes an intimidating pose.
Master Kim expects respect in his class; he expects the students to listen and follow directions; he expects minimal distractions; he expects the more advanced students to help others.  I don’t know Master Kim well, but simply judging from his appearance, I stressed to Madi that she must listen and not horse around.  I have greatly enjoyed watching Madi in this class.  I have especially enjoyed watching Master Kim.  While I am not attempting to compare the Grace of God to anything worldly, I could not help but notice some parallels between Master Kim, principles of Tae Kwon Do and God’s expectations for us as Christians.
In Madi’s first class with Master Kim, a 6-year old orange belt was rather squirrelly.  After repeatedly asking him to be quiet and pay attention, Master Kim tied his own belt to the child’s orange belt; with a slight smile on his face; with a twinkle in his eyes.  He was not mean; he never raised his voice; he spoke very kindly to this boy as he told him he would now stay with him.  How many times do we go astray and God pulls us closer?  Like Master Kim, but much more so, God will discipline us with love in His attempt to draw us closer to Him; to get our attention; to cause us to listen.   Proverbs 3: 11-12 states, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in”.  What is our attitude when we don’t get what we want?  Are we thankful that we are corrected by a loving God?  Or are we resentful?  I think that often times, the trials that we face in this life are God’s way of showing us what is important; of drawing us near to Him so that we rely on His infallible strength rather than our own.  My family has faced several trials in the past couple of years – my mom’s illness, Sara’s behavior and school change, Jeff’s unemployment, financial difficulties.  But rather that being completely stressed out (although I do have my moments), I have been in relative peace, knowing that I am not in charge; knowing that God is insisting on my reliance on Him.
There are many principles of Tae Kwon Do, but a few that stood out to me as I sat in the waiting room include gaining good judgment, developing a sound mind, be honest and always stand by the weak.   2 Timothy 1: 7 states, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline”.   Jesus entire ministry while on earth surrounded the defense of the weak and to bring unbelievers to Himself.  In Luke 5:31-32, Jesus stated, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”.  Jesus raised the widow’s son from death, knowing that she would suffer without him; Jesus stood by the woman accused of adultery; Paul wrote to Timothy advising him to care for widows, treat older men as fathers and older women as mothers.  God wants us to stand by the weak.  Reading these principles automatically turned my mind to scripture and God’s expectations for us as Christians.
I know that Tae Kwon Do was not founded in Christianity.  That said, I am still glad that Madi has interest in a sport/philosophy that does reinforce many of the Christ-centered values that I try to instill in her as her mom.  I am glad that she has Master Kim as an instructor, who will teach her skills through patience, kindness and gentle correction.

The Church = People

These are exciting days to be a part of what God is doing at ACC. We are continuing to experience steady growth as a church, and are seeing more and more people reached and lives changed by the power of Christ. As we grow, we are definitely feeling the limitations of our current building space in the auditorium, lobby, and children’s wing!
As you have probably heard by now, we are moving along in our plans to do a building project. Our Building Vision Team has been meeting and thinking through what our facility needs are, and how we can meet those needs through this project. Our Stewardship Campaign Team has also been meeting to determine how we are to go about funding the project. As we get the ball rolling on all of this, I can’t help thinking about the big picture of the church. The church is not a building – it is people! I love how 1 Peter 2:4-5 draws on the analogy of a building and relates it to people:
“As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Each one of us is a living stone that makes up the church God is building. When I was a kid in Sunday school, my teachers taught us this little rhyme that they illustrated with their hands: “Here is the church, here is the steeple; open the doors and see all the people.”

As we move forward in our building project, let us remember that the church is first and foremost made up of people whom God has rescued and redeemed, and that our church building is simply a tool God will use to reach more people. There will be many more details to come about our building project. Until then, I hope you’ll join me in prayerfully supporting our leadership teams as they make decisions about the future of 916 East Hintz Road!

Confront in Love

On Sunday morning, we started a new sermon series entitled Authentic Spirituality. If you weren?t in church with us, you can hear the sermon here. For the next 4 weeks, we?ll be looking together at Matthew chapter 7 (the end of the sermon on the mount).
We started the series by looking at verses 1-6 where we saw some principles about judging and a warning to do so correctly. All this talk about judging has me thinking about the closely related topic of confrontation. Chances are you don?t have to go very far back in your memory bank to think of a confrontation gone wrong. It can certainly be a very difficult thing to navigate correctly.
Matthew 18:15-17 gives us some very clear instructions on confrontation.??

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

??Did you catch the steps there???

  1. Go to the source…just between the two of you
  2. ???

  3. If that doesn?t work, then bring someone else along as a witness
  4. ???

  5. If that doesn?t work, then bring it before the church
  6. ??

??Confrontation is never easy, but in my experience, dealing with it head on is always best. When we don?t go to the source, we create a bigger mess and stir up all sorts of problems. I hope next time someone wrongs you, you?ll take the right first step and go to the source.

Thoughts About a Special Girl

My daughter Sara has been on my mind a lot lately.  She’ll be transferring schools at the end of this month to a school that specializes in treating and teaching children with autism.  I’m nervous about this move, which will involve a 30-40 minute bus ride for Sara.  I’ll miss her teachers that she has now.  Sara loves them; I love them; they love Sara – but as we all admit, they are not set up to handle children who have the autism-related issues that Sara has.  I know we are doing the right thing.
Sara was diagnosed with autism shortly before her 3rd birthday.  The only memory I have of having a “normal” family was in those first 3 years with my beautiful blonde haired, blue-eyed smiley little girl.  She didn’t talk much, but being my first child, I didn’t think too much about it.  I had gut feelings and instincts that something wasn’t quite right (mom ESP), but no one confirmed my feelings, so I let them go.  After all, Sara was filled with smiles and laughter – she still is at the age of 10.  The year or so following her diagnosis was a whirlwind filled with reading everything I could get my hands on about autism spectrum disorders, arranging therapy – speech, occupational and physical, developmental pediatricians, neurologists, educational consultants, holistic specialists, private in-home therapies, tests.  You name it, we did it.
Jump ahead 7 years, and I still have my beautiful blonde haired, blue-eyed smiley girl.  But Sara has issues.  She has tantrums.  She gets aggressive.  I would be lying if I didn’t say that I would sometimes wonder what I did that God gave me this “problem”.  What would my life be like if Sara were “normal”? Sara often tries my patience.  I get frustrated.  Her dad and sister get frustrated.  It is not easy.  This IS our normal.
But I don’t consider Sara a problem.  Yes, I sometimes feel sorry for myself, but Sara has a way of curing that.  She often wakes me up at the crack of dawn with “Good morning, Mom.  I like you”.  She learned about “bathroom etiquette” in school, and wanted to see every man’s bathroom around to check out the urinal – sorry, but that made me laugh.  She communicates with our dog Rocky by growling at him.  She is extraordinarily outgoing.  She is extraordinarily affectionate.  She loves babies and wants to kiss them on the head.  She has a way of making people smile, including me.  Including Ziggy, who was in line behind us in Starbucks this morning.
I do believe that God put Sara in my life for a reason.  I do believe that God knows exactly where these special children belong.  I also believe that God loves Sara and that God understands people with special needs.  I don’t know exactly how much Sara knows about God, but I know when I ask her “Who loves you?” her first answer is not mom or dad, it is Jesus.  Out of the blue, Sara asked me who Charles Darwin was.  I answered simply that he was a man who thought that people developed from monkeys (ok – probably not the best summary, but one she could understand).  Sara’s response?  “That’s silly.  Jesus made us”.  Close enough Sara.  I love you.
Kris Milashus

Dave posted about it last week, but I wanted to post a quick reminder. Today, Dave began a 6 week sabbatical. Scroll down a couple posts to read all about it.
My reason for posting today is to ask you to commit to pray regularly and specifically for Dave and his wife Karen. The goal of the sabbatical is to give Dave a chance to “recharge” his spiritual batteries. Matthew 11:28 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you my rest.” I hope you join me in praying that for Dave.

General vs. Specific

In my men?s small group on Thursday morning, we got into a discussion about calling…God?s plan for our lives. Through our conversation, I was reminded of an important distinction in this often debated area. I believe the scriptures teach us that there is both a general and specific calling for each of us.
The general call is one that is the same for all Christ-followers. Passages like Matthew 22:34-40 and Micah 6:8 help us understand this general calling. In Matthew, we learn from Jesus that we are all to be about loving God and loving others. From Micah, we learn that what God wants from us is to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. The general call for all Christians is to live a life submitted to God. We know how to do that by reading and putting into practice God?s word.
The idea of a specific call, is the belief that God has gifted each of us uniquely to play a certain role in the Church. Passages like I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 help us understand how God individually gifts his children. From these passages, we learn that we have different gifts and abilities that we are to use in service of God. The specific calling directly involves these gifts and sometimes involves being called to serve a specific people group or location.
An overemphasis on either of these ideas can cause problems. Some overemphasize the general call, even to the point of denying a specific call. This can lead to a lack of direction (think of the body imagery of I Corinthians 12…what if we all tried to be an eye?…the body wouldn?t function correctly). On the other hand, an overemphasis on the specific call, can lead to spiritual paralysis as we sit and wait for God to reveal his will. I think we have to hold both of these ideas together, knowing that it?s a life-long process of seeking after God and learning how he wants to use us for His glory.
I hope that you?re on that journey and looking for ways that God wants to use you here at ACC.

Sabbatical Time: Woo-hoo!

Beginning Monday, May 9th I will be enjoying a much needed 6 week sabbatical. The leadership team of ACC has generously granted me this time and I will gratefully take it!
This will be a time of rest – to recharge my batteries – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
What does this mean
?•?My wife Karen will be unplugged from church during this time as well. Though she is not employed by the church – by virtue of being my spouse, she has stress, expectations and commitments placed upon her. She loves ministry (like me!) but she needs a rest also! Besides, if she didn’t unplug – then I wouldn’t really be unplugged either.??•?Though I will be stepping away from the daily routine of ACC, I will be reading, thinking and praying for a fresh perspective on the calling he has placed on my life and the vision he calls ACC to fulfill.??•?During the six weeks be forewarned that I am going off the grid completely – No Facebook, no Twitter and I will not be checking my email.??•?I’ll be doing some traveling during this time and other times I’ll remain local. I’m especially looking forward to 2 weeks of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina / Tennessee with my son Micah and a friend.??•?In my absence, our Pastor of Youth and Children Ministries, Chris Modrzejewski will be preaching on Sunday mornings – 5 out of the 6 weeks. Chris is excited to be teaching through Matthew 7 – a series entitled: Authentic Spirituality. I know he’ll do a great job. Pray for him as he takes this and other responsibilities on his shoulders. All the staff and elders will be pitching in to see that ministry moves forward as usual!??•?We will miss all of you very much but this time of disengagement is essential and good! Please pray for Karen and me – that God refreshes us as needed!
It is such a privilege and joy for me to be a pastor at ACC. I love you and thank you for your constant support and friendship. God has BIG things in store for us in the next 10 years and I want to be ready for it!