Monthly Archives: February 2012

My Rant about Complaining

Please forgive my hypocrisy for two minutes while I complain about complaining.


People who always complain drive me nuts (yes, it’s a short drive, I know.) Especially people who whine on Facebook or Twitter -  about their headache, their stubbed toe, their annoying neighbor, their sucky boss, their financial problems, their misplaced phone, their flat tire, their cat’s hairballs, etc.


Its one thing to occasionally privately vent to a friend or to express a personal need in order to receive some prayer or encouragement but to bellyache as a regular habit, especially on a social network, is really a bad idea. For a lot of different reasons…


  1. Your negativity pulls down your friends.
  2. It actually drives people away from interacting with you – they do not need another downer in their day.
  3. You pull yourself down. Words are powerful. You reinforce your own pessimism and negative focus – and the downward spiral begins…
  4. You develop a rep as a whiner. Is that really how you want to be remembered?
  5. You misrepresent your Heavenly Father as being neglectful or abusive. Is he really not taking care of you? Is your life really outside of his control and blessing?
  6. Being a complainer and being thankful are mutually exclusive. Which one does God call you to be?
  7. Is it a habit that is pleasing to God?


Don’t take this someplace that I am not going! I’m not talking about being inauthentic by pretending that everything is peachy when it is not. I’m also not talking about being stoically silent while your world collapses and nobody even knows. I’m talking about making the negative your focus, of feeling the need to tell even your pettiest problems to virtually anyone who will listen (or read).


Chronic complaining is a mindset, an attitude, a tone. Sometimes it’s not even so much what you say, but rather how you say it.


Let’s face it. Whining and complaining can easily become a bad habit – just like smoking, biting your nails, overeating or watching Glee. (Just kidding Gleeks – so settle down!)


There. My little rant is over. I’ll stop complaining about complaining now.


“Do everything without complaining…” Philippians 2:14


What do you think? Do you agree with me? Or do you think I’m being too harsh?




Preparing for Easter

I’ve had many conversations and read numerous Facebook posts about what people are giving up for Lent this year. With the observance of Ash Wednesday this past week, I thought it would be fitting to devote this post to a couple thoughts about Lent.

While our church does not officially observe Lent, there are many people (elders, staff, and congregation) that do engage in some way with the tradition. Perhaps the most well-known observance is that of abstaining from certain foods or activities. Choosing to go without can be a powerful spiritual exercise. It reminds us of what’s really important and can reveal to us areas that are controlling us. However, this practice can easily be misused. The two major misuses I see are:

  • Abstaining to “earn points” with God. We must never forget that it is by GRACE that we are saved, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Going without doesn’t make you more or less acceptable to God. Grace is the unmerited favor of God…we don’t earn. If we earned it, it would no longer be Grace…it would be God’s favor based on our achievement.
  • Abstaining out of ritual, devoid of meaning. The whole purpose of Lent is to prepare our hearts and minds for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Giving up something physical without engaging the heart and mind about the coming Holy days severely misses the point.
Personally, I believe Lent can be a powerful way to prepare for Easter. I’m less concerned with the avenue through which that preparation occurs and more concerned with the content of the process. It’s all about focusing my heart and mind on the cross. This year, I’ve chosen to do 2 things to prepare my heart for Easter.
  1. I’ve signed up to participate in The Lent Experience. I’d highly recommend you check out Even if you’re not interested in participating, there are some great articles in the FYI section of the website.
  2. I’ve purchased a copy of the book Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross Edited by Nancy Guthrie. The book contains daily readings from theologians, pastors, authors, etc.
Whatever you believe about Lent, I hope that you’ll consider the importance of preparing your heart and mind for Easter.

Colombia in 12 thought bursts

From February 3-13 I was in Bogotá, Colombia (along with my friend Ray Demich – chairman of the elders at ACC) visiting Brian and Sharan Killins. The Killins were sent out from ACC over 30 years ago and they have been faithfully and effectively sharing the gospel and planting churches ever since – and still going strong! We had many opportunities to teach the word of God and fellowship with some excellent brothers and sisters in Christ. It was tiring but very rewarding.


It was a very rich experience. My mind is spinning with all that we saw and heard. Therefore, here are 12 random thoughts and observations about it all:


  1. God has is doing a great work in Colombia. 40 years ago evangelical Christians were almost non-existent; now on any given Sunday morning the majority of Columbians actually attending church are evangelicals. The Killins have been instrumental in planting over 20 churches themselves!
  2. The particular congregation that the Killins serve includes a wide variety of people – just like ACC!
  3. Their worship band rocks! And they are loud too – real loud! The enthusiasm and joy are contagious.
  4. Yogurt there is very thin. You drink it – no spoon needed. They pour it on their breakfast cereal. I tried it. Not bad.
  5. Each car owner in Bogotá has two assigned days of the week when they are not allowed to drive their car. Fortunately the public transportation system is accessible and cheap and taxi cabs are EVERYWHERE!
  6. Bogotá is 8,612 feet above sea level. (Denver – the “mile high city” is at 5,280 feet.) Upon our arrival Ray and I carried our luggage up the five flights of stairs to the Killins apartment. By the time we reached it we were bug-eyed as we huffed and puffed like severe asthmatics! Throughout our stay the slightest exertion left us breathing hard. The air is very thin!
  7. Traffic is intense. Crowded. Fast. Four lanes in what was designed for two lanes – and the motorcycles / scooters then fill in all the crevices. I could never, ever drive there. Yet we never saw an accident. Never saw any road rage. Brian Killins driving? Well, let’s just say that he is fully acclimated to Colombian culture.
  8. I wish I had paid more attention during my two years of high school Spanish.
  9. Preaching using an interpreter is a challenge. It requires you to speak in 5-10 second bursts. It is difficult to establish a good rhythm. Humor is even more of a challenge. A 30 minute sermon turns into a 50 minute sermon. Yet the people graciously dealt with it and were always very attentive.
  10. You tell a cab driver that you are from Chicago and the first two words out of their mouth are “Al Capone”.
  11. Their portion sizes are much smaller than ours. Their large coffee is smaller than our small. You can actually eat the entire serving in a restaurant without feeling like blimp. No wonder us Americans struggle with our weight.
  12. The Killins church is very “missionary-minded”. They understand their responsibility to take the gospel to those who have not yet heard. They set the example for us.


Please pray for the Killins and their ministry. God is using them to advance His kingdom. It was a privilege to have a very small part in their work.


This trip has heightened my excitement for ministering in Honduras this August 1-8. Have you been prayerfully considering joining our team?








All-Out Commitment

True Christianity is an all-out commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior is not looking for men and women who will give their spare evenings to Him – or their weekends – or their years of retirement. Rather He seeks those who will give him first place in their lives.

True Discipleship by William MacDonald, p 11

I remember the first time I read that. I was a Junior in High School and I decided to join a small group my Youth Pastor was leading…he called it a Discipleship Group, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I had made a decision to follow Christ, but had a lot of questions about what that looked like. The book True Discipleship really helped me understand that being a Christ-follower was more like a marriage commitment than joining a club. It’s not adding something else to who I am, it redefines who I am (2 Corinthians 5:17). Being a Christian involves an all-out commitment to Jesus Christ.

Seems like a lot to ask?

I really don’t think so. When we consider what God has done for us…when we look at the cross of Christ…His sacrifice on my behalf…I’d say a sacrifice on our part is in order. In his famous hymn, Isaac Watts says it beautifully.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.



Baptisms: Powerful Stories of Life Change

Yesterday in our services we showed a video highlighting baptisms that have taken place over the past few years at Arlington Countryside Church.  Powerful stories of life change, where we see and hear about the before-and-after process of coming to faith in Christ.  If you missed it or just want to watch it again, the video is below.

We are having baptisms on Sunday, February 26, and if you’ve never been baptized, I would strongly encourage you to boldly and publicly profess your faith in Christ through baptism.  I guarantee you will not regret it!

It’s not too late to sign up – you can email and attend the baptism class this Sunday, February 19 to get all the information.



Retreat follow up and Video

We had a very successful high school winter retreat last weekend. Students were encouraged to consider the status of their spiritual life and to live for the cause of the Gospel. Click here to see a highlight video from the weekend.

I wanted to share with you a video that we showed the students on retreat. I found it tremendously encouraging and motivating. It’s long, but it’s worth every minute. Enjoy!


Five Monday Musings

A lot of stuff happened this past weekend, both in the life of our church and in the culture at large.  Here’s a quick recap of five items (in no particular order):

1. Dave and Ray left for Colombia this past Friday.  From seeing some of their tweets come in, it sounds like they have already done quite a bit of speaking!  But they did get to relax a bit and watch the Super Bowl on Sunday night.  Let’s continue to pray for them as they minister this week.  You can follow their updates here.

2. Upward had its 2nd Saturday of games.  I stopped by for a bit in the afternoon, and the excitement level in the gym was electric!  Mike Malek shared the halftime devotional on what it means to respect both God and others.

3. Giants win the Super Bowl!  And how about those commercials?  Did you have a favorite?  Here’s mine:


4. Yesterday we looked at Acts 2:42-47 and the new community that was formed in the life of the early church.  The three takeaway principles that I shared from this passage are to be intentional about community, active in hospitality, and marked by generosity.  Have you thought about how you are going to apply these principles this week?

5. I can’t help but thinking back to a year ago when we had the huge blizzard of 2011.  Quite a difference from this winter.  According to the Chicago Weather Center, this winter ranks among the top ten winters with the most number of days with highs of 40 degrees or more.

So there you have it – my five musings for this fine Monday.  I hope you are having a good Monday so far!





HS Winter Retreat

Last weekend was our middle school winter retreat. It was awesome! We had several students who experienced spiritual “Aha!” moments, made decisions to prioritize their relationship with God, and made some lasting friendships. During our teaching time, we worked our way through Ephesians 6:10-18 (the Armor of God). Students were challenged to consider how our enemy, the devil, seeks to trip us up and how God has provided all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). You can see a highlight video from the weekend here.

This afternoon, we leave for the high school winter retreat. We’ll be joining with the high school ministry of Baptist Tabernacle of Kenosha, WI. We’re headed up to Silver Birch Ranch in northern WI. Hoping they have some snow!

I’d really appreciate your prayers again this weekend. Our theme is ReFuel. It’s our hope that students would be able to disconnect from all the stuff going on here at home and be able to connect with God and each other in a way that recharges their spiritual life. Please pray for our safety while traveling and during all our activities.