“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ – Matthew 25:23
We talked about Integrity recently with our high school students. It reminded me of the importance of the little decisions we make every day. As our verse above indicates, God cares about the little things. The small daily decisions that seem insignificant matter to God and they should matter to us. I think the decisions we make in the small things say a lot about us. When we’re willing to fudge on the rules in the little things, we’re more likely to do so when it actually matters. When we bend the truth in the little things, we’re more likely to lie or deceive later on. I like to think of integrity like a muscle. Muscles develop through use. The more you use them, the bigger they get. Having integrity in the little things of life develops the character trait in us.
As our GROWING TOGETHER building project is nearing completion I wanted to share with you what has been my focal point throughout the entire process.
I have literally had dreams about preaching the word of God from that stage. And hearing the dynamic faith stories of people who’ve recently cross the line of faith told from that stage. And being led in dynamic, Spirit-filled worship from that stage.
I pray for it to be a sacred space from which people are pointed to Jesus every single week. (I can’t wait to start using it!)
Please pray with me that we will have the needed volunteers to finish up the work soon and that we will receive our occupancy permit from the village in God’s perfect timing.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. - James 5:16b
Do you believe in the power of prayer? A quick read of the New Testament shows us that early church did. There are so many references to prayers being offered for others, requests for prayer, and even commands to pray.
I was recently asked to be part of a prayer team for a friend who is in process of determining if God is calling him into vocational ministry. I’m excited for him and eagerly agreed to be part of the team. I love the idea of recruiting a prayer team. How many of us would benefit from having some friends commit to praying for us? It’s a great way we can support one another. A simple email once a month with some updates is all it would take.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. - Ephesians 6:18
This past Sunday, May 18, was a very eventful day in the life of ACC.
With tears of great joy and sadness we said farewell to Brion and Annette Kendzora. They will be departing from O’Hare airport early Tuesday morning for Bogotá, Colombia as they pursue their calling to bring the good news of Jesus to those who have not yet heard.
As their sending church, it is our privilege and responsibility to support them through our prayers, encouragement and financial gifts. As a congregation we laid our hands upon them and committed their family and their work to the Lord. It was powerful. It was emotional. It was significant to us as a church as we hope and pray that Brion and Annette are the first of many who will leave from our church to do God’s work around the world.
Please be actively praying for the Kendzoras in the next few weeks as they get settled in to their new apartment in Bogotá. Pray God helps them with their language studies. They are not at 100% financial support yet. If you have not yet joined their financial support team – do it here.
I am so excited to see what God does through the Kendzoras in the coming years!
I was reading John 1 this morning and the last verse of the chapter caught my attention. In John 1:51, Jesus refers to himself as “the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth”. Other translations don’t have this phrase – partly why it caught my attention (the other reason being that it resembles the lyrics of one of the greatest rock songs of all time:). It appears that the NLT has added it to more clearly reflect Jesus reference to Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28. While Jacob sleeps, he dreams of a stairway (sometimes translated a ladder) that reaches from the earth to heaven. He sees some of God’s angels going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stands God who pronounces a great blessing on Jacob. In that blessing, He says “all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants”.
In John 1:51, Jesus is pointing to himself as the path from earth to heaven and the fulfillment of the blessing God promised Jacob. Jesus referred to himself in a similar manor in John 14:6 when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the only stairway to heaven. We can’t buy our way there. We can’t earn our way there. It’s only through what He has done for us.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. Romans 5:1-2
It was encouraging and powerful!
Last night about 25 people gathered at ACC to participate in our prayer walk. We broke up into 4 groups – scattered through out the building – and then went from one location to the next imploring God to bless our ministry as we committed our entire campus to Him.
Here is what we prayed. It reveals the vision and heart of our church.
CHAPEL (current auditorium)
- This space would be a place of great joy, fun, learning and worship for our children.
- That children would hear the good news of Jesus here and their hearts would be open to his word.
- Wisdom and creativity for Kris Milashus and Melissa Reddin to fully utilize our children’s facilities for maximum effectiveness.
- That God would provide the needed children’s workers for Sunday morning ministry – especially in anticipation of our upcoming growth.
- That Awana would be effective in instilling the word of God into children’s lives and we’d have all the needed volunteers.
- That the bible would be faithfully and boldly preached from this stage.
- That God would enable Dave (and others) to communicate clearly and in the Spirit’s power.
- That the worship team and Scott would lead us in true and dynamic worship.
AUDITORIUM / GYM
- That our Upward ministry would grow and reach even more families; that all the necessary coaches and other volunteers could be raised up from within our church.
- That those sitting here on Sunday mornings would have teachable spirits and would worship in spirit and truth.
- That God would be with Chris and his student ministry teams and they would be effective in reaching and discipling students for Christ.
- That relationships would be built here – that this room is filled with laughter, prayer and uplifting conversations.
- That construction would continue to make good progress and that we receive our occupancy permit in God’s perfect timing.
- Pray for Jim Young – that God enables him to finish strong in overseeing this construction project.
- That God would give wisdom to our elders as they lead our church.
FRONT DOORS / ENTRYWAY
- That many being prayed for (5x5x5) would walk through these doors in 2014 and beyond!
- That all who enter feel loved, make friends, hear the truth and have fun.
- That God would help us accomplish our mission to be a loving community where ordinaruy people experience the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.
- That our Guest Services team would do a great job facilitating people’s experience (especially visitors).
- That this space would be known for good coffee, friendly people and great fellowship.
- That God would provide the needed money for all this to be paid for – that 105% of our Growing Together pledges would come in.
- That God will continue to bless Carolyn and use her administrative skills so that ACC runs smoothly!
- That this would be a place where parents feel confident and happy about dropping off their kids.
- That the children’s workers here would make a good first impression on parents: friendly and competent!
- That children would be excited to be here and look forward to it every week.
- That all children here would be safe, loved and accepted.
Could you take 10 minutes right now and pray through this list?
God has certainly called us to be co-laborers with him in advancing his kingdom but we always remember the words of the Apostle Paul:
6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:6-9
We anticipate growth as God blesses and leads. Join us in prayer to this end.
I’m currently in Iowa visiting my wife’s family. We made a quick trip (Friday-Saturday) out to celebrate my Brother-in-law’s high school graduation. Moments like this are so worth the long hours in the car. We’ve had a chance to visit with many members of the extended family that we rarely see, the kids are having a blast playing with their cousins, and we get to celebrate this milestone in the life of my brother-in-law. As we celebrate this moment with family, it causes me to reflect on my own life and how I’ve experienced God’s faithfulness over the years.
There are many milestones that occur naturally in our lives (birthdays, graduations, a wedding etc.) and there are those that are more unique to each of us. I think of things like goals we’ve achieved, special moments in our relationships (first date, etc), and special moments in life of loved ones. Taking time to celebrate and remember these moments can be a powerful thing. It’s something we see in scripture. In Genesis 12, we read about the Lord calling Abram to leave his country and family of origin and to follow where the Lord leads him. Abram obeys God and begins his journey. Throughout this journey, Abram builds altars at special places. These altars serve as reminders of what God has done…markers along the way of his journey…milestones. We see this practice throughout the Old Testament. While we’re not commanded to celebrate milestones, we do see many examples of it happening in scripture.
I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on the milestones in your life and that in doing so, you’ll be reminded of the faithfulness of our loving God.
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done. (I Chronicles 16:8)
Sometimes I think I must have spiritual ADD. I can tend to get distracted pretty easily.
I have experienced the sweetness that comes from following hard after God. The feeling of being centered. An unswayable joy. An incomprehensible peace that strengthens during difficult times.
And yet I wander. I neglect my time in the word and prayer – or at least do not give it the time that it is due. And end up living my days carrying the burdens of worry, fear, restlessness, and all the other assorted maladies that are the typical human experience.
Speaking of the ancient nation of Israel, the Psalm writer asserted:
“They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass eating bull.” Psalm 106:20
That makes them sound pretty dumb, doesn’t it? And yet I make the same trade on a regular basis.
Father, please forgive me for losing focus. Forgive me for making bad trades. I should know better by now, but I’m still learning. Thank you for your grace and mercy and faithful love. Help me cling to you, our glorious God! Amen.
Last Saturday, I ran in the Illinois Marathon in Champaign/Urbana. With such a nasty winter, it was tough to be ready for a Spring marathon this year. There were some significant bumps in the road in my training season (weather, sickness). I toed the starting line less trained than I hoped to be, but ready to go even still. It ended up being a challenging race and I finished slower than anticipated. The weather was the major culprit. It was a warm sunny day. While the temperature wasn’t outrageously warm, it was significantly warmer than I’ve been running in. Coming off of a very cold winter/spring, my body has not yet acclimated to running in the warmer weather. In addition to that, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so the sun was on us the whole way. The sun/heat speed up exhaustion and dehydration – 2 enemies of distance runners. I should have adjusted my plan to account for the weather…failure to do so, lead to some serious challenges. As I suffered through the later miles of race, I was reminded of some valuable spiritual lessons.
Pay attention to the warning signs. I run with a heart rate monitor. It gives me an objective measure of the effort I’m putting out. From the very beginning of the race, my heart rate was slightly higher than I knew it should be…translation: I was running too fast. I felt good though, so rather than slowing down to bring my heart rate down, I just ignored the warning sign and kept running at the faster pace. I paid for it big time and had to walk sections toward the end of the race. This is so true in our spiritual lives. There are plenty of ways to gauge our spiritual health. When we ignore these things, we’re bound to fizzle out and regret it down the road. Checking myself against the fruit of the Spirit is one of the ways I like to gauge how I’m doing – Galatians 5:22-23
Perseverance builds character. I suffered a lot at the end of the race, but I kept moving forward. I started telling myself, it doesn’t have to look pretty, I just need to keep moving. Every step moved me closer to my goal (and to the post race food!). Character is built in the tough stuff of life. Difficult times have a way of refining our faith. James 1:3-4