Monthly Archives: November 2012

Apprehending God

“If you understand, it is not God you understand.” – Augustine

We like to control; to think we’ve got it all figured out.

Including God.

But that, my friends, is an illusion. Much about God – who he is, what he does, and why he does it – is far beyond the capability of our finite minds to comprehend. God is infinite, awesome, and very large!  In that sense our God is indeed mysterious.

I’m okay with that!

Now don’t get me wrong. God can be known. We can have a personal relationship with him; we can enjoy conscious communion with him.

What we cannot do is put him in a box. Create him in our own image; smugly act like we have him all figured out. That we cannot do.

That is what I’ve been thinking about today.




I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! For those of you crazy enough to be out doing the Black Friday thing…I just prayed for you :). Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing a tradition with my kids. For the past number of years, I’ve run the Palatine Turkey Trot at Harper College. We meet up with a number of friends and enjoy cheering each other on. Some years the weather is nasty. This year it was perfect! Now that my kids are a little older, they were both able to participate in the day. There was a 100yd Drumstick Dash for the little kids. They got their own race t-shirts and medals. It was super cute. Here’s a picture of us after the race.

It’s was so fun to be able to share this tradition with them. I woke them up early to get ready for the race. Before their feet hit the ground, they were cheering, smiling, and telling me how fast they were going to run. It was awesome.

It’s made me think a lot about family traditions. Some of my best memories growing up are related to special family traditions. They serve as mile markers on the journey of growing up. They don’t have to be elaborate, in fact, I think simple is better. Traditions can create predictability and structure in a fast-paced, always changing world. I don’t mean that to be a negative statement about our culture…simply pointing out the stability that traditions can create in our busy lives. They slow us down long enough to remember what’s important. They help bring our families together and create lasting memories. As we head into the Christmas season, I encourage you to consider your family traditions. Is it time to start something new? Revive an old one? Tweak an existing tradition? Whatever the case, I hope you’ll be intentional about leading your family toward celebrating the real meaning of Christmas.



Counting My Blessings

  1. A God who loves me in spite of my sin.
  2. The gift of salvation found through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
  3. My wife Karen who has stood beside through thick or thin – for over 31 years now.
  4. My four children who have enriched my life far beyond what they could possibly realize.
  5. My grandson who brings me immeasurable joy.
  6. My mom – the incredible support and great example that she (and my dad) has been to me.
  7. ACC – such a privilege to pastor these loving, generous, down to earth people.
  8. The elders of ACC – incredibly caring, godly men who lead with integrity and humble dependence on God.
  9. The staff of ACC – valued co-workers who sincerely desire to be used by God and work hard week after week. So fun to be on the same team!
  10. The Bible – the hope, instruction and encouragement it has given me over the years. It is reliable and true!
  11. My dogs Stanley and Roger. They are poorly trained heathens but I love them! (I’d just rather not pick up their poop.)
  12. Hot showers.
  13. My gym – I love the stress relief of a good workout.
  14. The Appalachian Trail.
  15. A warm, comfortable bed.
  16. Coffee.
  17. Justin Bieber (just kidding)
  18. Ditka.
  19. Bacon.
  20. A gazillion other things…


What are you thankful for?

I hope you’ll take time this week to count your blessings!




Excerpt from Radical by David Platt

I’ve recently started reading the book Radical by David Platt. It’s been on my shelf for a while now and I’m finally getting around to reading it. It’s a very challenging/convicting book. In a chapter I read this morning, Platt describes a man in his church who is a young, very successful business executive. Here’s his story in his own words…

My career has been a complete whirlwind in ways more successful than I ever anticipated it could be. I am paying more in taxes than I ever expected to make in a full year! I have been incredibly blessed. I was able to bring my wife home from work. Then we purchased our dream home in the exact neighborhood where we always wanted to live. I purchased the BMW; I bought the big beach house; and we went on great vacations. On top of all this, I was growing a business that I truly loved in an industry that I am passionate about. But somehow something was missing from my life, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I have been a Christian since I was seven years old, but through my pursuit of business and success, I somehow had replaced seeking the Lord with pursuing stuff and success.

Then something happened last year that changed my life. I stood in a city dump in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I saw men, women, and children who were living in a dump where they scoured for food and shelter. Humbled by the reality of parents raising their kids in a dump, I reached my breaking point when I saw a woman eight months pregnant walk by me, looking for food. I couldn’t decide which was worse – the fact that the baby was conceived in a dump or that it was going to be born there. In the middle of this scene, God asked me, “What are you going to do with what I have given you? How are you going to use your influence, your leadership, and your resources in the world around you?”

p. 80-81

What a powerful story! What a key shift in perspective. The gifts/blessings God has given us are to be used to bless others. Notice the story wasn’t about the man feeling guilty…it was about his realization that he has been blessed and has a responsibility to use that blessing to bless others.




“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances. “ – Elisabeth Elliot

I discovered this quote this past week and have been thinking about it a lot.

I love it. So much truth.

I hate it. So very convicting.

Many of us have deceived ourselves into thinking that life would be better – and even “I would be a better Christian” if only I had a…

  •  Better job
  • Million dollars
  • Spouse
  • Different spouse
  • Different parents
  • Nicer home
  • Thinner body
  • Better behaved children
  • Movie star’s good looks
  • More awesome church
  • One month vacation in the Caribbean
  • And so on, and so on, and so on.

Yet God has given us the indwelling Christ and God desires to change us – not our circumstances. We can be victorious in spite of our circumstances.

Rather than worrying and complaining and trying to change our circumstances we should instead allow Christ to do his work in us. Then we could join the apostle Paul in asserting, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11b)



The Comparison Game

Do you ever play the comparison game? I do. I know I shouldn’t, but I often catch myself comparing myself to others. It’s a game we never win. Consider the outcomes:

  • We compare and think we’re better. We lose! This strokes our ego and puffs up our pride. Proverbs 21:4
  • We compare and think they’re better. We lose! This leads to jealousy and envy. Proverbs 14:30

The truth is that it’s always an unfair comparison to compare what we know of ourselves (everything) to what we know of someone else (very little). Things almost always look better from a distance. Beyond that, we are called to be content with what God has given us (Hebrews 13:5). Often, the comparison game is played because we’ve allowed the seeds of discontentment to take root in our lives. We’re unhappy and so we look around and compare our circumstances/gifts & abilities/etc. to those of others. Happiness is not a product of our circumstances. That’s why Paul was able to say he’s learned to be content in whatever circumstance he finds himself in (Philippians 4:12).

When I catch myself playing the comparison game, it’s a good indication that something isn’t right in my heart. It usually indicates that I’ve shifted from gratefully living the life God has given me, to striving for things that will never bring fulfillment (wealth, approval of others, comfort, etc.).




Social Networking Gone Awry!

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become major players in most of our lives. Like a lot of things in life, they can be very helpful, fun, and a great way to stay connected with others OR they can be used for great evil as they proliferate gossip, vulgarity and divisiveness.

My friend Jeff Kuester writes a most excellent blog: Relentless Discipleship. Last week he addressed this topic and he nailed it! Read it below,  take his words to heart, and read him regularly. You’ll be about 90% more wise and enlightened if you do! BTW – Jeff is a former worship leader at ACC, serving on staff off and on from 1998-2005. He now serves as Director of Contemporary Music at Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Mount Prospect, IL.





The Social Networks

I know that I have previously talked about social networking.  At the time I focused on how churches should utilize social networking.  This post will focus mainly on how these mediums are misused.
In my years of youth ministry, I probably gave “The Facebook Message” (as my students affectionately called it) at least 10 times and probably could have given it at least another 30 times.  Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter started out as mediums to connect people together, but now have turned into personal soapboxes for people to stand on.
Currently, there are close to a billion active Facebook users.  Imagine if you had the undivided attention of a billion people.  What would you say?  Would you tell everyone what’s on your heart?  Would you tell everyone what your passion in life is?  Would you tell them how your faith, family or friends have impacted your life?  Would you use that platform to be a positive influence?
I have seen teenagers ridicule and berate their parents and teachers.  I have seen adults complain about their work environments.  I have seen both young and old use social networking to spread rumors and gossip about anything and everything.  These social networking sites were designed to bring people together, but so often, they tear relationships apart.
Did you know that all of your social networking posts are saved?  Even if you erase them, they are saved on a hard drive.  Did you also know that most employers are now asking to see your Facebook page before they hire you?  I know mine did and I have heard of a few people that were not given a job solely because their Facebook account wasn’t good.
Some people think that they are just displaying a post to their 100 friends, but you’re always a few clicks away from telling the world how you really feel.  By just one friend “liking” or commenting on a status, all of their friends see that.  Now your post is out there for the world to see.
What do your pictures say about you?  Do they tell a story of how you act on weekends?  Do they show you volunteering?  Do they show you partying?
What do your posts say about you?  Do they depict you as a positive person or a negative one?  Do they depict you as a Christian or someone far from it?  Do they paint you as a gossip or an encourager?
Think about this when you make your next post: if you had the undivided attention of a billion people, what would you say?
Posted by at 8:36 AM