Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Ultimate Hero

On this Memorial Day I am so grateful for those men and women who gave their lives on behalf of our country. Their sacrifice has allowed us to enjoy freedoms only dreamed of in many other parts of the world. I am so humbled by their commitment and bravery.


As much as I admire these American heroes I am even more grateful for the ultimate hero – the greatest of all sacrifices – Jesus Christ.


I think of his words:


“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13


“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life —only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” John 10:17-18


His death has brought spiritual freedom and life to countless millions. And to me!


Because he died for me, I will live for him.




I’m Back!

Tuesday, 5/22 was my first day back in the office. I had a great sabbatical and I’m excited to be back. I’m feeling refreshed and ready for the next season of ministry that God has for me here at ACC.

In case you’re curious, here’s how I spent my time off:

Week 1: Time at home trying to disconnect and mentally settle into sabbatical. Lots of time with my family, reading, and long workouts. Highlights: dinner with a friend and observing his junior high youth group in action. Getting stranded on a long bike ride after 2 flat tires. Lisa and the kids had to come pick me up…it’s funny now, but wasn’t at the time. Trip to the Kohl’s Children’s Museum.

Week 2: Trip to Tennessee to visit my grandparents with a stop in Champaign, IL on the way home to visit my brother and his wife and run a half marathon. Highlights: Watching my grandparents enjoy time with my kids. Visiting places I remember from childhood. Seeing my brother’s new house. Setting a new personal record at the half marathon distance. Watching my wife (Lisa) complete her first half marathon.

Fishing at Grandpa's

Teaching the kids to fish. This was shortly after a big fish stole the bait and hook and got away! :)

Week 3: At home sick with Influenza (actual flu, not the “stomach flu”) :(. Josiah got sick at the end of our trip to Tennessee, I came down with it right after we got home, and Rachel got it a few days later. We didn’t realize it was the flu until I got it. It was nasty. I was pretty much in bed for 5 days. Kids bounced back a little faster than I did and Lisa managed to avoid it (she thinks she had it a month or so earlier). Not really a highlight for this week…

Week 4: Trip to Colorado to visit some college friends. We flew into Denver and then made the 4+ hour drive through the mountains to Gunnison, CO. Highlights: Being in the mountains! Catching up with some good friends. A couple family hikes. Mountain biking. Spending an afternoon exploring the town of Crested Butte. Raft ride down the Gunnison River (mainly just a float trip, but there were a couple rapids at the end).

Hiking at Hartman Rock

Hiking at Hartman Rock Recreation Area in Gunnison.

Week 5: Time at home to settle back in and then a weekend away for our anniversary. My mother-in-law was nice enough to take the kids for the weekend so that Lisa and I could get a couple days to ourselves for our anniversary (first time in 2 years!). It was the perfect way to end my sabbatical. Highlights: Lots of long workouts and time to read. A weekend of uninterrupted sleep, time to spend with my wife, and not having to clean kids up after meals.


I’ll be preaching on June 3rd about “What I Learned on Sabbatical”. I hope you’ll join us.





God Wins

We live in a crazy world. It seems like our culture has almost completely abandoned our Judeo-Christian heritage. The basic moral values that were a given just a generation ago are now ridiculed and mocked.


It is easy to become fearful, cynical, stressed, pessimistic, worried, and hopeless. The future seems very unsure and foreboding.


That is why I thank God that he inserted this little gem into the bible:


There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. Proverbs 21:30


God is in control. His purposes will be accomplished.


It made me think of a recent post on Twitter that made me chuckle: “In the end, God wins. If God isn’t winning – it’s not the end.”




Living Life Well

“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33


I really do desire to live my life well. Make it count. Leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren. Yet often I do not end up living as I presumably desire. I desperately need wisdom.


Wisdom is not about being well educated, highly intelligent, or even being awesome at bible trivia.


Wisdom is living skillfully.


Making good choices. Being a person of integrity. Keeping right priorities – God first, others second. Building others up – not tearing them down. Working hard. Being a good friend. Praying with a sincere heart.


Wisdom is on one hand a gift from God. James wrote: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)


On the other hand, we are directed to strive hard to attain it:

…turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,
and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:2-5


The attainment of wisdom always begins with fearing the Lord. We must be aware that he sees all. He knows our very thoughts and motives. He is inherently worthy of our respect and obedience.


Ask God for wisdom – he is waiting to give it to each one of us!


But also strive hard (with His help) to attain it. Saturate yourself in his word. Hang out with people wiser than yourself. Be open to his rebuke.


We can all learn to live life skillfully. That is a promise from God.




Building Excitement

As we proceed with our Growing Together project there are many pieces that need to fall into place at just the right time. However the two main pieces are the financing and the village approval.

A couple months ago we were very excited about a loan offer we had received from Village Bank of Arlington Heights.  At that time the loan still needed to go through the different steps of bank approval. During this approval process I’d get emails and phone calls asking for little bits of additional information that they needed.  Each time we’d move one step further down the approval process.  However, recently I got the phone call that we had been waiting for…  The loan has been officially approved.  This is great news!

At the same time Church Building Consultants (CBC) has continued to move forward with many different pieces.  As a design build firm they are continuing to refine the architectural drawings,  representing us during the village approval process and have started to receive bids from different subcontractors for us to choose from.  They are doing so much and have been great to work with.

Over time I have had the chance to get to know several members of the CBC team.  Each one of them plays a different role in the project but they are all dedicated to helping make sure that this project is a success.  In addition, each week at their staff meeting they take time to pray for our project, our people, and the exciting life-change that is happening here.

Now that financing is lined up we need to continue to pray for the village approval process.  CBC has been working diligently with the village and has come back with some encouraging news. The village has recently expressed a willingness to allow us to overlap some of the approval steps.  This will allowing us to start the project sooner than if we were required to do them each separately.  So being able to start this fall is seeming very realistic.

Please continue to pray for all that is involved in this project coming together.  Some specific ideas to pray about:

  • That village approval will continue to move forward favorably
  • For our Building Vision Team
  • For each of the team members from CBC as they work on their part of the project
  • That Growing Together pledges would continue to come in faithfully
  • For great (low) bids from subcontractors
  • Praise for the loan being approved

Keep checking back for more updates and things to be praying about.


Unanswered Prayer

This past Sunday we kicked off our series on prayer by asking the provocative question: “Why do my prayers just bounce off the ceiling?”


Unanswered prayer can be very discouraging, bewildering and faith-crushing. But the bible is certainly not silent on this subject. We identified 6 common reasons for why hit prayer dead zones – areas where we lose our connection – the call gets dropped!


Prayer Dead Zones

  • Unconfessed sin Isaiah 59:1-2
  • An unforgiving spirit Mark 11:25-26
  • Unbelief James 1:6-8
  • Selfishness James 4:3
  • Being a jerk to your wife 1 Peter 3:7
  • Not lined up with God’s will 1 John 5:14


Let me talk for a minute about the last dead zone – prayer requests that are not lined up with the will of God.


This dead zone reminds us that what we often call “unanswered” prayers – God would say, “I did answer you! I said NO!”


Any legit parent says no to their kids. Parents know better than their kids. They have a bigger perspective. They have their child’s best interests in mind. Therefore often the most loving response they can give to their children’s requests is a big, fat NO!


What if we have a request of God but we just honestly are not sure if it is his will for us…how should we pray then? Should we still make the request? Absolutely. Ask God for what you want. Don’t be afraid to be specific. But – always pray with the attitude that Jesus displayed as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”


When we pray with a heart that ultimately wants what God wants – then the Spirit intercedes for us to bring the best for us from the Father in response to our feeble, often misguided prayers!


So go ahead – be bold – PRAY!




Five Things I’m Pumped About

Here is a list of five things I’m pumped about right now:

  • We are having the cello and viola make an appearance this Sunday!  I love mixing things up musically and having “different than the norm” instrumentation once in a while.
  • Chris Modrzejewski is finishing up week three of his five week sabbatical!  I am so thrilled for him that he gets this time away.  (But at the same time I miss him and the strong coffee he brews for our Thursday Band of Brothers group!)  Join me in continuing to pray for him and his family, that they would savor this time, and that God would bring Chris back to us refreshed, recharged, and ready to jump back into the next season of ministry.
  • This Sunday, we kick off our new series: PRAY.  I am eager to be challenged and to grow in my personal prayer life as we take four weeks to dive into this important topic.  Speaking of prayer …
  • We are having a launch lunch for our ACC Prayer Team this Sunday after the 10:30 service.  I believe this ministry has the potential to be a game-changer in the life of our church.  I recently read a quote that said, “If only we knew what was happening when we pray, we would never cease to pray.”
  • In case you didn’t know, today is National Star Wars Day.  May the fourth be with you!