Monthly Archives: October 2012

Being A Fastidiously Selective Church

Such interesting and curious details of Paul’s 2nd missionary journey:

 

 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them;  and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. Acts 16:6-8

 

God opens doors of opportunity for ministry. He also closes them.

 

Surely the inhabitants of Asia and Bithynia needed the gospel. But Paul and Silas were sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. They must have quickly learned that genuine need does not necessarily equate to a calling to meet that need. There is a good lesson there for us. Busyness does not equal spirituality. We must allow God to guide us in our ministry opportunities and not indiscriminately say yes to every opportunity that presents itself.

 

If this is indeed true for us as individuals then I propose it is true for us as a church as well.

 

There are many opportunities out there. So much need. The possibilities for us are almost unlimited.

 

Divorce recovery. Pro-Life activism. Substance abuse support groups. Clean water. AIDS prevention. Human trafficking. Homeless ministry. Mission work – inner city, rural, New Guinea, Mozambique, Honduras, Colombia, Uganda, China, England. Senior citizens. Single moms. Special needs. Teenagers. Children. Immigrants. Orphans. Grief counseling. Financial counseling.

 

A part of my job I really dislike is needing to rebuff people’s ideas. They come to me passionate about a myriad of causes and they want ACC to get involved. But we can’t. We have limited resources. ACC leadership must pick and choose what we do. We can’t do it all. Not even close.

 

And God does not call us to do it all. He calls us to listen to his voice and be obedient. Nothing more. Nothing less.

 

Just another reason why it’s so important for you to pray for the elders and staff of ACC; that we might discern His leading and then be fully obedient.

 

Peace,

Dave

 

Us versus Them

Band of Brothers (our men’s small groups) are currently reading Who Is This Man? by John Ortberg. It’s a great book that looks at the far reaching impact Jesus had (and continues to have) on our world. In a chapter titled, “Help Your Friends, Punish Your Enemies,” Ortberg writes that in a world that was set on getting even with enemies, Jesus offers a different way. The way of forgiveness and Love. The follow quotes stuck out to me:

Love of enemies is perhaps Jesus’ teaching that is most famous and most violated.

We human beings are side-takers. we all tend to divide the human race into us versus them. This happens for religious reasons but can also happen because of ethnicity, culture, and language.

p.  92-93

Ortberg goes on to describe some ways this plays out and then writes:

Jesus treats people on the other side as if they are people on our side. He doesn’t just love us. He seems to love Samaritans (them).

p. 95

That’s convicting! Jesus calls us to rise above the “us versus them” mentality and to love people on both sides. A very important reminder in what has been a very ugly season of political campaigns. Discuss, disagree, and debate, but don’t lose sight of the fact that we have a responsibility to treat the other side with love!

Grace,

Chris

ONE WEDDING AND A FUNERAL

In the last 48 hours I have done 2 things that very, very few human beings ever get to do in their entire lifetime.

I officiated at a wedding and I officiated at a graveside interment service.

Two major life events for any and every family and as a pastor it is my honor to walk with them.

Weddings are usually on my calendar one year in advance. I usually get about 2-3 days’ advance notice at the most with funerals. I guess that’s the nature of the beasts.

One family celebrates love. The start of a new home. The combining of two very supportive families. The joy of two people willing to vow faithfulness and make a lifelong commitment to each other. Eating. Drinking. Dancing. Laughing.

One family grieves the loss of a very loved wife, mother, grandmother. No more conversations or holiday meals or watching movies together. Only memories. Praying. Crying. Sadness. Loss.

What a stark contrast.

The phrase constantly coming to my mind today is, “In the midst of life we are in death.”“Media vita in morte sumus.” Often attributed to Notker – a Benedictine monk who died in 912 – the sentiment here is simply an acknowledgement of our own mortality and the need to use this life to prepare for the next.

Intellectually we all know we are going to die someday. We know everyone near and dear to us will also die someday. Yet when we lose someone we love it hurts like crazy. Even if we are confident they are in heaven. Even if we are sure we will be reunited with them one day. We know death is as much a part of life experience as is birth, yet the blow is nevertheless devastating.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Fully embrace the hope of the resurrection that is found in Christ and in Him alone. Live your life for him. Love those around you. Don’t take them for granted. Know that Jesus Christ makes all the difference – at whatever life event you and your loved ones gather for.

 
Peace,
Dave

#FirstWorldProblems

Did you see the SNL video about the iPhone 5 this past weekend? The skit mocked the American consumer complaints with the new phone. It depicted several leading tech bloggers who voiced their complaints with the phone. The host then brought out 3 Chinese factory workers. The point was unmistakable. Our “issues” fail to compared to real issues of the poor around the world.

While I found the skit powerful and very funny, I cringed at the depiction of the Chinese factory workers. The broken English accent and the cultural stereotypes made me feel uncomfortable. I couldn’t help but think, would I be laughing at this if one of my Asian-American friends was sitting next to me?

To be fair, SNL mocks everyone. It’s their comedic style. However, their point with this skit was clear. It was to mock the American consumer. In the process, I fear they have mocked the Chinese culture. That may not seem like a big deal, but I disagree. Cultural insensitivities like this alienate those it depicts. In other words, we get a laugh at their expense.

I still find the video to be very funny, just wish it would have been more tasteful in the way it depicted the Chinese workers.

Grace,

Chris

Book Review – Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – by Eric Metaxax

Dietrich Bonhoeffer died for his faith. He came of age in WWI Germany and was a highly regarded pastor and author by the time Adolf Hitler came to power prior to WWII. His faith in Christ was remarkable; his unwavering belief that God would lead him in his actions here on earth was extraordinary. His entire life, although spanning only 39 years, is truly inspiring.

Although Dietrich Bonhoeffer had what could easily be described as a charmed and affluent childhood (both his father and mother came from long lines of respected scientists and theologians, respectively), his ability to build relationships with people from any background and stage of life was remarkable. For example, when he worked as a youth minister and Sunday school teacher in the slums of Berlin during his early 20’s, he not only fulfilled his obligations within the walls of the church, but also spent numerous hours with students and their families, building relationships, getting to know them and understanding their lives, and dedicating much time to additional studies and classes within his home. He found pure joy in the relationships that he built with people. Bonhoeffer truly lived out Paul’s attitude as reflected in 1 Corinthians 9: 22b: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

Historically, this book was eye-opening. I knew about the basics of WWII of course, but this book provided a real inside perspective from the citizens of Germany, and the struggles of the church. Adolf Hitler’s “German Christian Church” replaced all crucifixes with swastikas and pictures of Saints with pictures of Hitler. Of course, it wasn’t a church at all – Hitler being an atheist – but rather Hitler’s way of convincing the German people that God was with him. In response, Bonhoeffer was a key founder of the Confessing Church, which proclaimed that the Bible is God’s living word and that only through God’s grace and faith in Christ’s redemptive death on the cross could one be saved. Defying Hitler in this way was an extremely dangerous move for Bonhoeffer and his fellow theologians, since Hitler’s church basically preached that salvation is earned through loyalty to Hitler and the German state.

Finally, and most inspiring, was Bonhoeffer’s complete reliance on meditation and prayer, and his belief that all answers in his life could be achieved by listening for God. Bonhoeffer spent hours in scripture, much of it in Psalms, which he saw as perfect prayers to God. He meditated and listened for God’s leading in his life, and strove to take that path, no matter the cost. Bonhoeffer was not without doubt. When his Confessing Church friends saw a way to get Bonhoeffer safely to America to avoid arrest by the Nazi’s, he took it, planning to stay as a guest professor and pastor for at least a year. He realized his error within a month and returned to Germany to support and suffer for his beloved people and his church. Bonhoeffer also struggled with his decision to become part of several plots to assassinate Hitler. On one hand, he was a pacifist; on the other, Hitler was pure evil. These two decisions ultimately led to Bonhoeffer’s arrest and execution. When he knew he would die, Bonhoeffer wrote, “This is the end…for me the beginning of life.” What pure faith.

These few paragraphs do not do this book justice. This is by far one of the most important books I have ever read. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life is such an inspiration. His fellow theologians were so crushed by his martyrdom, but I think that through his writings and the way in which he lived his life, we are left with an amazing legacy of a man who had a true heart for God. I highly recommend this book.

Kris

 

 

Upward Top 10 List

Top Ten Reasons to Volunteer for Upward
1. The tacos in the “Good and Plenty Cafe” are the bomb!
2. The games are a ton of fun
3. The opportunity to work with some amazing kids
4. Watching Ken K. referee the young teams on a Saturday morning is priceless (hint:  he’s great)
5. Sports + Jesus = Winning Combination!
6. The cheerleaders are amazing
7. So many different opportunities to volunteer….there’s no excuse not to!
8. Bacon (ok, I made that one up =)
9. You might just score a cool Upward t-shirt
10. The energy on a Saturday game day will remain with you throughout the week!

To get more information on how you can help make this Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season a success, just shoot me an email. You won’t regret it!

Kris

Advice for a new couple

My sister is getting married today. I have the privilege of officiating the wedding. I’m excited and a little nervous. I’m honored to play such a special role in their new beginning as husband and wife.

In the sermon portion of the ceremony I plan to give them 2 pieces of marriage advice.

  • Be a good forgiver. Anybody that’s been married any length of time knows that the honeymoon doesn’t last forever! Disagreements happen. It’s perfectly normal to fight with the one you love most :). That’s why it’s essential to remember the truth of Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” When we are in touch with our own sinfulness and how much God has forgiven us, we understand that we have no right to hold a grudge. God has the set the example for us and our forgiveness cost Him dearly.
  • Work on your marriage. So many couples work so hard to get to the wedding day. Dates, meeting family, countless hours spent getting to know each other, wedding planning, premarital counseling. It takes a lot of work to get to that day. But the work isn’t over. A marriage that goes the distance takes intentional effort from both parties. Things like date nights, quality time, reading books, marriage conferences, maybe even counseling. Marriage is hard work.

I wonder what advice you would give a newly married couple. I’d love for you to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Grace,

Chris

FAITH IN ACTION 2012

Somebody sent me an email yesterday evening with a note of encouragement regarding our Faith In Action Sunday.

Part of what she wrote was: “Our church shines when we serve together, Dave.”

I could not agree more.

You guys were awesome. You were high energy. Great attitudes. Willing to do whatever needed to be done – in the name of Christ!

As one of your pastors I was very proud of you, in a non-sinful sort of way! ;)

And we all understand – community service isn’t to be relegated to one day per year! It’s to be a lifestyle. We don’t need ACC to plan something for us.  Each of us, as followers of Christ, must be initiating service opportunities – in our neighborhoods, schools, work places, etc.

I know you already do this. Let’s do it more. Let’s excel in serving.

Don’t just go to church – be the church!

 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

Peace,

Dave