Monthly Archives: December 2013


Do you have a game plan for reading your Bible?


I think the #1 reason people don’t read their Bible regularly is because they don’t have a plan. I know that is true for me. If I’ve a plan – I work the plan – and I am reading regularly and enjoying all the benefits of being in God’s word. When I am stupid enough to not have a plan – I flounder, become very inconsistent, and drift away from the most important habit I should have.


Beginning on January 1st I will be using an online program to read through the Bible in one year. Have you ever used an online Bible reading program? There is a wide variety to choose from, and they are awesome! (You can even have your daily reading emailed to your phone.) They are so incredibly helpful in providing the much-needed game plan.


Here a few possibilities that you should check out:


Get yourself a Bible reading game plan now – it makes all the difference! If you have a plan then please leave a comment and tell us about it!



Middle School Lock-In

Tonight is a big night for our Middle School Ministry. Tonight is the annual Pit Stop Lock-In. This event has become a tradition in our ministry. It’s one of the first things incoming 6th graders ask about and it’s one of the things former students still talk about. It’s an event that is tons of fun and breaks the “church is boring” stereotype for lots of students. Would you join me in praying for the success of our Lock-In tonight? Here are a few specific ways to pray…

Pray for:

  • A great turn out and lots of new kids. This is a significant outreach event. Over the years, we’ve seen a number of students get plugged in to the ministry through this event.
  • Relationships. New ones to be formed and existing ones to go deeper.
  • Energy and patience for our adult leaders. We’ve got a great team of adults this year. While they wouldn’t normally stay up all night, they’re willing to sacrifice sleep to minister to our students.
  • Safety. That we would be injury and accident free.




beam writing 2


Twice now (most recently yesterday) the people of ACC have been given the opportunity on a Sunday morning, after the worship services, to go down into the new construction space to write on the steel beams. They could jot down a prayer, a Scripture verse, a praise – pretty much whatever they wanted to write! Though their scribblings will soon be covered with drywall, the memory of helping dedicate the new space to the Lord and the intentions of the writer will carry on. It was a meaningful act for many people.


Some people simply wrote a list of names of loved ones that they are praying will someday cross the line of faith. By far the Scripture verse written out the most often was John 3:16. (Not too surprising – and very appropriate)


Let me give you a tiny sampling of some of the thoughts and prayers recorded on the steel beams:


“Please show yourself to my boys…”

“May you fill this place and people come to know you!”

“My grandkids – that they come to love Christ like we do.”

“God, use this place and all that are in it, for your works.”

“Lord, give us boldness to go out from this church to share your word with Arlington Heights and the world.”

“Release T**** S***** from his addiction and turn his heart toward you!”

“Bless everyone who walks through these doors to know you are God, and that you love them, and that they need to you.”

“May the Lord bless the nation of Colombia through this church.”

And though I’m not sure why, my favorite…

“Oh the doors you will open!”


I love the faith, I love the outward focus, I love the godly desires expressed.


May God answer these sincere prayers and many more, beyond our greatest expectations, in the coming years. Amen.





beam writing 1

Gift Exchanger

I saw this on Facebook this week…

I always enjoy a good oxymoron: ‘jumbo shrimp,’ ‘only choice,’ ‘random order,’ ‘awfully good’ and ‘all alone’ are just a few.  (Some say ‘adult male’ is the ultimate oxymoron!)  In my opinion the biggest oxymoron of the Christmas season is ‘gift exchange.’

Is something really a gift if it is exchanged? The altruism of gift giving is lost in the concept of an exchange or obligatory transaction.

The wise men brought gifts – expecting nothing in return.  And the Father gave his only Son irrespective of our response.  No exchange – just a gift.

If we try to participate in a cosmic gift exchange, we will never win.  We have nothing to exchange; we cannot provide enough in return to earn God’s gift.  Paul reminds us, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

This Christmas give gifts — exchange them if you like; but remember that the greatest gift was the one freely given and the one that we can never earn.  We have nothing to exchange; we can only receive the gift of God’s Son.

Dan Bolin, Christian Camping International

What a great reminder for us this Christmas season! I hope you’ll join us on Sunday mornings as we continue our God With Us series. This Sunday, our preschool and elementary school children will be leading us in some Christmas. Have your cameras handy, it’s gonna be cute!




This past Sunday we focused on Matthew chapter 2 and we learned from the life of King Herod. To Herod, Emmanuel (God with us) was seen as a threat to eliminate. Herod was willing to do whatever it takes to not be dethroned; even the killing of all the baby boys in the Bethlehem area. He would not allow Jesus to be king – if he could possibly help it.


This same Messiah lays claim to the throne of our hearts today. Will we allow him to reign? Or will we try to maintain control?


I initially decided to give my life fully to Christ on a hot summer night at Bible camp. I remember the speaker handed out a piece of paper that was blank, except for a title at the top that read: “My contract with God”. We were challenged to sign our name at the bottom of the contract. The point being made was that when you give your life fully to Christ – you are handing him a blank contract. My life was not to be co-authored by God and me, but a solo authorship by God alone. Could I trust him this much? Did I believe he loved me enough to take care of me? Did I believe his way is the best way? Did I believe that his will is good, pleasing, and perfect?


With great sincerity and prayerfulness I signed that contract. I certainly did not fully understand what I was getting into! Since then I have followed Christ, be it ever so imperfectly.


Over the years I found my walk with Christ to be an ongoing cycle of giving him the throne, taking back the throne, giving him the throne, taking back the throne, etc. As I’ve matured spiritually perhaps this happens less often and for a shorter duration but it is still a dynamic in my life.


Do I have any regrets about turning my life over to Christ? NOT ONE!

Has it always been easy? NOT AT ALL!

Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!


Are you going the way of Herod and rejecting Christ’s rule in your life or have you given him the throne of your heart? I promise you – you can trust Him.





With the Dawn of Redeeming Grace

Silent Night. It’s considered the most well-known Christmas carol of all time. It’s been translated into more than 300 languages. People all over the world sing it each year and it’s a must for any candle lite Christmas Eve service. It’s a simple, beautiful song.

Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round young virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake, at the sight
Glories streams from heaven above
Heavenly hosts sings Hallelujah
Christ the savior is born,
Christ the savior is born!

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth!

During Oasis (high school youth group), we analyzed the lyrics of this song and studied Luke 2:1-20 to connect the song with the event as recorded in scripture. During the discussion a student ask about the meaning of the line “with the dawn of redeeming grace”. I’ve been stuck on this phrase ever since. What a beautiful, powerful statement about the meaning of Christmas. Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking:

  • The “dawn”. Dawn signifies something new. The moment when light breaks through the darkness. It’s breathtaking. When the night is long, we hold out hope for the dawn. 
  • “Redeeming”. To restore honor, worth, and reputation. God’s grace not only saves us from our sin, it redeems us!
  • “Grace”. Undeserved favor. We are freely loved by God. He chooses to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves.

May you experience the beauty and power of the dawn of redeeming grace this Christmas season.





Yesterday at the close of my sermon I shared 3 practical ways that we can be faithful messengers, just like the Angels. The task that they were assigned on the very first Christmas – to announce the good news, is now an assignment that has been given to us!

My 3 suggestions were:

If you send Christmas cards – think Jesus, not Santa or Rudolph. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Santa and I think Rudolph is awesome. I don’t think you’re a bad Christian if you send out a Christmas card with an elf on it. I simple thought was just that if we, as followers of Christ, focus on the true meaning of Christmas it might help stem the tide of our society that is completely forgotten the true meaning. We can be a small voice of truth amidst the din of commercialism and secularism.


Give a booklet to someone. On Sunday we gave away a little advent devotional booklet titled The Story of God with us. It has brief Scripture readings for every day leading up to Christmas. If you weren’t here on Sunday stop by the church office this week to pick one up or stop by the Welcome Center this coming Sunday. Handing this booklet to a coworker, neighbor, or classmate might end up being a real eye-opener to them regarding the spiritual significance of Christmas.


Invite someone to church. When is the last time you invited someone to church? If you’re like most of us, it’s probably been a while. Why not extend a personal invitation to someone to join you at ACC? During this time of year people are more receptive than normal to the idea of attending church – especially one of our Christmas Eve services.


After the 2nd service on Sunday someone in the lobby approached me and offered an excellent idea – if I had thought of it – it would’ve been my 4th suggestion:


Leverage your Facebook or Twitter account. During this month of December on a regular basis, if not daily, post Scripture verses related to the birth of Christ or perhaps lyrics from some of the classic Christmas carols that focus on Him.


If each of us were to just take one or 2 of these action steps – it could end up making a difference in the life of someone we know and love.

What is your game plan for being a faithful messenger of the good news?