Monthly Archives: January 2012


Sometimes when an opportunity drops into my lap – I just have to see it as a call from God!


Last fall Brian Killins (a dear friend of ACC and a missionary to Bogotá, Colombia that ACC sent out about 30 years ago) visited our church on a Sunday morning. After the service he approached me about the possibility of coming to Bogotá to speak to his churches there. I took time to pray about it – talked about it with my wife Karen – and then decided to take a step of faith and say “yes”!


This Friday, February 3rd I fly out of O’Hare and will return on Monday, February 13th.


I will be speaking on various topics, in a variety of settings, but mainly teaching a series from Matthew 5 on Authentic Spirituality each Sunday and every week night in-between. On the first Saturday I will be speaking at a youth conference from the book of James (my favorite!). God has given me the opportunity to give about 16 sermons while there.


I am very grateful that my friend (and chairman of our elder team) Ray Demich will be coming with me on this trip. Ray will be doing some teaching on stewardship and finances, and sharing his own faith story.


We will have a lot of great fellowship with our Colombian brothers and sisters in Christ. We are anticipating learning as much from them as they do from us. We are praying that God uses us but also that he stretches, teaches, convicts, blesses and grows us as He pleases.


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Please pray for us while we are gone. Pray for safe travel. Pray for health and stamina. Pray that we might be an encouragement to Brian and his wife Sheran, and all the believers in Bogotá – and that some of their friends and family would cross the line of faith. Pray that the gospel would be proclaimed clearly and boldly. Pray we can find some good deals on coffee to bring home with us!


This is going to be awesome!





P.S. Be sure to pray for the guys preaching at ACC in my absence – Scott Williams on February 5th and Chris Modrzejewski on February 12th. They will be continuing our series in the book of Acts. Thanks!

Middle School Winter Retreat

At 5pm today we leave for our middle school winter retreat. We’ll be heading up to Lake Geneva Youth Camp & Conference Center for a weekend of fun, learning, and worship. I’m pumped! Registration numbers are up, students are excited, and it looks like we’re going to be getting some fresh snow tonight.

Thinking back to when I was a student, retreats like this are among some of my best memories. Sure they’re a TON of fun, but so often, a retreat was the avenue through which a spiritual breakthrough occurred.  It was on a winter retreat where I really started wrestling with my call to youth ministry. On another retreat, God revealed to me some serious relational conflict that needed to be resolved. There’s something so powerful about unplugging from everyday life and being immersed in an environment focused on God.

Please join us in praying for our students to encounter God this weekend. I’m specifically praying that this would be a catalyst for each of our students to take their relationship with God to the next level. For some of them, that will mean taking the first step and crossing the line of faith. Thanks for praying!



Top 6 ACC Prayer Requests

A big part of being a responsible Partner of ACC is praying faithfully for our church. Current top prayer needs? I’m glad you asked! In no particular order…


  1. We are currently seeking to secure funding for our GROWING TOGETHER campaign. As we interact with a number of different banks and mortgage companies pray we can get the money we need with good terms and great interest rates. Pretty much as soon as financing is squared away construction can begin! (Shooting unofficially for around April 1st.) Pray for Jim Young as he leads our OTF (Operations Task Force) in this endeavor.
  2. UPWARD basketball begins this coming Saturday, January 28th. Pray God will use the season as an effective outreach to unsaved children and their families. Pray for the many volunteers who make it happen – especially the coaches who work directly with the kids. Pray for league director Allison Bies as she leads her army of volunteers!
  3. Yesterday we had two very well attended HONDURAS trip informational meetings. We are sending a team from ACC to Honduras August 1-8 to medical work and evangelism. Pray God would form this team – we want the exact right group of people to go. I can’t wait – it’s going to be awesome! Pray for Chris Modrzejewski and me as we co-lead this trip.
  4. This month is when emphasize the challenge to all ACC attendees to make a formal commitment to the church – we call it PARTNERSHIP. Pray more people than ever before partner up with ACC in 2012.
  5. On Sunday morning we are currently into our new teaching series: WITNESS – a study in the book of Acts. Pray God uses his word to motivate us as a church to be bold witnesses in our community and that we would faithfully share the gospel of Christ. Please pray for me as I study and prepare.
  6. February 3-13 Ray Demich, head of our elder team, and I will be ministering in BOGOTA, COLUMBIA. We are anxiously anticipating an incredible experience. More details to come next Monday on this blog but in the mean time pray as we make our final preparations, especially as we prepare many messages for this trip – It will be a very intense 11 days!


Pray hard folks! You can make a difference.





At Pit Stop (middle school youth group) we’re going through a superhero themed teaching series. The students are eating it up. I had no idea we had so many comic book fans in the youth group. So fun to stumble upon something they love. Last week we talked about how we all need heroes. It’s a universal phenomenon…all cultures have stories of heroes…stories of people who brought hope, solved problems, and helped people. There’s something about heroes that we are drawn to.

Of course, our ultimate hero is Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right had of the throne of God.” Talk about someone who brought hope, solved problems, and helped people! Jesus did it all. He’s the perfect embodiment of a hero.

But the scriptures model a different kind of hero as well. The relationship of Paul and Timothy shows us another kind of hero. A quick read of I & II Timothy reveals Paul as a mentor to the young pastor Timothy. You may not think of a mentor as a hero, but I think it’s a very fitting description. A hero is someone that we look up to. Someone that we aspire to be like. Someone that we respect for who they are and what they stand for.

We’re drawn to heroes, so I would suggest to you that we all have mentors. Whether you’ve consciously chosen them or not, there are people in your life that have influence over you. People that you listen to a little differently. People that you smile a little more around. People that you put in a different category.

Personally, I have many people that I would consider mentors. Some of them don’t even know that I think of them that way. I find it tremendously helpful to have a mental list of who I can go to for advice in certain areas. I would encourage you to consider who some of your mentors are. It might be just the thing you need; after all, we all need heroes.



5 Random Thoughts on Being a Witness

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

– Jesus Christ, Acts 1:8


Not power to perform miracles, have fantastic bible studies or to live a problem-free life. No, it was power to be a witness. Kind of tells us what the priority of the church is to be.


As we begin our Sunday morning teaching series in the book of Acts – WITNESS – a few pretty random thoughts…


  • Being a witness will perturb some people sometimes. The persecution of the church was almost immediate and it was because they gave witness to the resurrection of Christ. It still ruffles feathers today – hear or read anything about Tebow lately?
  • Some people witness with their lifestyle only – they are loving, generous, and accepting. Extremely important. But words must accompany our witness. People must hear that Jesus had made the difference in our lives and that He is the way. Actions alone fall short.
  • Some people are all about the words – they are very verbal about their faith but their actions betray what they claim to believe. They are judgmental, selfish and morally compromised. Words without corresponding lifestyle end up doing more harm than good.
  • Effective witnessing involves just being real. Not trying to pass yourself off as better than what you really are or pretending like you have all the answers but just being open and honest about yourself and your spiritual journey.
  • Anytime a person turns toward God it is a bona fide miracle. That is evidence of God doing direct business with someone. We cannot “save” anyone. We cannot coerce them, persuade them, or reason them across the line of faith. Only God can do that. Our job is to humbly but boldly witness and pray. Then leave our unsaved loved ones in God’s hands.


Join me in praying for our church. Pray that God uses our study in Acts to sharpen our witness for him – individually and as a church. We want to represent him properly. We want to see many cross the line of faith and give their life to Christ in 2012. I’m excited to see what God will do.




Book Review


I recently finished reading One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow by Scot McKnight.  I had previously read another book of his, The Jesus Creed.  One.Life challenged my life and thinking, as I consistently considered: How will I use my one and only life to build God’s kingdom?  What does it look like to follow Christ in every area of my life?

McKnight is a professor yet writes in a readable manner.  I appreciated the historical insights into Jewish culture, some that were new to me.  The book effectively bridges the gap between history and current times.

Here are the top 7 things I learned:

1) The Christian life is not simply about fervently pursuing personal piety.  Instead of being known for what I abstain from, I should be known for positively putting my faith into action.

2) When Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, contemporary Jews looked for a king, land, and citizens.  Today when I hear the phrase “kingdom of God,” I usually think of an internal experience.  The literal anticipation of the establishment of God’s kingdom gives renewed hope for today and ultimately the future.

3) I am to become a person who loves God and others.  Jesus’ kingdom vision is for the world to be filled with people who are noted by one word: love.  I thus need to treat everyone as my neighbor and see each person as someone loved by God.

4) As a fallen person, my natural default is to pursue the “iLife,” not the kingdom life. Instead of living the defeat of the cross, I live for constant triumph (70). 

5) A good question to ask for every decision I make is “What is the wise thing to do?”

6) I need the Holy Spirit because no matter how hard I try, I’m unloving, unjust, and unpeaceful.  It’s too easy to wrongly think I can just stop sinning

7) The mundane matters to God, including things that are every day and routine. 

I definitely recommend One.Life to challenge your walk with God.  Perhaps we can have a discussion or study group of this title at ACC in the near future!

Guest Blogger,

Allison Bies


Every one of you who is a follower of Christ has had one in your life.


Someone who was instrumental in bringing you to Christ. Loving you. Talking to you.  Living out their faith as an example to you. A witness.


Mine was Sandy Koop. She was a lady in my neighborhood when I was a kid who hosted a backyard bible club. Kool-Aid. Cookies. Singing. Flannel graph bible stories. She told me the good news about Jesus dying for me. I prayed with her to put my faith in Christ. She helped me cross the line of faith.


She was my witness.


Who was yours? Who helped you cross the line of faith? Who was your witness?




Matthew 4:18-22

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

This passage has always fascinated me. Jesus calls and they respond by leaving everything and following him. I’ve wondered what the scene must have been like…how did those close to them respond? Did they have any idea what they were getting themselves into? What was it that caused them to be willing to give up so much to follow Jesus?

This past year, I’ve done some chronological study of the life of Christ which really helped me to understand this passage in a new light. I’ve always had the impression that there had to be more going on here than what Matthew tells us. This is the first time Matthew mentions Jesus interacting with these men, so if we just read Matthew, we miss something huge. Jesus has known these men and has likely spent significant amounts of time with them for 1-2 years before he makes this invite in Matthew 4. It’s not a cold contact. There’s an established relationship here. They’ve known Jesus as teacher and friend for quite sometime.

Why is this significant? It shows us how relational our God is. Jesus, could have accomplished his mission alone. He certainly was capable, yet he chose to have companions. We see it in the very nature of God. We worship a Triune God – 1 God, existing in 3 persons. Relationships are at the core of who God is. We were created for a relationship with God and with each other. I hope you’ll consider how you can more fully invest yourself in those relationships in 2012.



17 Steps Toward Being Different In 2012

I hope to change a lot in 2012. I want to become more like Christ. I want to grow in my love for God and people. I wanted to be a more skilled and devoted, husband, father, son, pastor and Christ-follower. I want to be healthier – increased energy to serve God with more vigor.


So I am going to be intentional. Here are 17 things I am going to do to be a different person by the close of this year.


  • Read through the entire bible – using the daily reading program at
  • Eat lunch with my mom once a week.
  • Stop eating anything after dinner.
  • Severely limit my intake of sugars and junk carbs. (Hard – I love bread, cookies and pie.)
  • Get to the gym a minimum of 3-4 times per week. (Easy – I enjoy working out.)
  • Lose 15 pounds minimum.
  • Get out my guns and do some target shooting. (I need to be ready for any potential zombie invasions.)
  • Be fully engaged in at least two mentoring relationships.
  • Devote at least 20 minutes per day to reading for my own personal / pastoral development.
  • Master my new iPad 2. (Thanks family for the awesome Christmas gift!)
  • To become much less reticent. (I tend to be too Norwegian)
  • Knock off a few more miles on the Appalachian Trail.
  • Date night with the wifey at least twice per month.
  • Spoil the hooey out of my grandson. (Once he gets here – early March!)
  • Begin and end each day on my knees in prayer.
  • Schedule a one day personal spiritual retreat once every three months.
  • Do a thorough study of the book of Acts.



How about you? Leave a comment and share your ideas for growing in 2012.