Monthly Archives: January 2015

Praying the Fruit of the Spirit

I was reminded recently of a spiritual practice that I’ve gotten away from. A few years ago I read the book Prayer Coach by James L. Nicodem. It’s great book with lots of practical suggestions for developing a vibrant prayer life. One of the prayer patterns that Nicodem suggests is praying the Fruit of the Spirit. It’s a simple concept that has paid dividends for my spiritual life…that is until I stopped doing it ;) and it’s why I’ve started doing it again.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22-23

The idea is to use the Fruit of the Spirit as a sort of spiritual inventory and catalyst for prayer. Start by committing the Fruit of the Spirit to memory (or write it down if you need to). In the morning as you’re beginning your day, recite the verses, consider which of qualities you especially need that day, and spend some time praying for that. Example: you do a quick mental scan of your schedule and see that you have a meeting with a particularly challenging person. Knowing that interacting with this individual tends to leave you short on patience, you identify that as your major need for your day. Then spend a few moments in prayer asking God to help you with that situation and to provide you with an extra dose of patience.

I’ve found this practice sets me up to meet the challenges of my day with a Christ-like attitude and motivates me to pray more throughout the day. I hope you’ll give it a try. If you do, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Grace,

Chris

The Mysteries and Wonders of the iPhone 6

A few days ago I went to Best Buy and got a new phone. I am now the proud owner of a new iPhone 6. I have a lot to learn! Though it has many basic similarities, it also has a lot more bells and whistles than my old iPhone 4. Though I am still very much in the discovery process, I realize I’m not using it to its fullest potential yet. Yes, I can make phone calls, texts, play games and surf the Internet but there’s so much more it can do that I haven’t tapped into yet.

 

I was thinking that many of us do the exact same thing in living for Christ. We experience his blessings, but not to the fullest. We live for him, but at only a fraction of our potential. We know him, but we still have just a very small view of the totality that is our great God!

 

If you’re like me, and you don’t want to just settle – then this verse is for you:

 

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment… 1 Peter 2:2

 

Did you catch it? The key to experiencing the fullness of our salvation – all that God wants us to see, hear and know is found by us nourishing our spiritual lives on the word of God – the “pure spiritual milk”.

Let me encourage you to take time each day to read your Bible. Develop a real hunger for it. Only in this way will you maximize your Christian experience.

Peace,

Dave

MS Winter Retreat

This weekend is our annual MS Winter Retreat. We leave ACC around 5:30pm tonight and travel to Lake Geneva, WI. Returning home Sunday afternoon.

Our theme this year is Get Real, taken from Colossians 3:3. We’ll hear from a great speaker, engage with God through some powerful times of worship, discuss what we’re learning in small groups, and have a ton of fun playing in the snow. Trips like these are some of my favorite times of the youth ministry year. So often, students point back to trips like these as spiritual high points in their lives – important decisions, spiritual breakthroughs, and solid friendships are formed. It’s a privilege to walk through those moments with them.

I’m really excited for what God has in store for us this weekend. Would join me in praying for our retreat? Please pray for safety and hearts that are open to God’s word. We’ll be posting on our facebook page throughout the weekend. You can follow along here.

Grace,

Chris

I DON’T READ THE BIBLE

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment…       1 Peter 2:2

 

The pure spiritual milk is the written word of God; whether it is read or listened to. When we take it in – we will experience the fullness of the Christian life that God desires for us. When we don’t – we won’t. Pretty simple stuff.

 

So why do so many of us not read our Bibles the way we should? Here are the top 3 excuses that I often hear along with my candid responses…

 

“I’M TOO BUSY.”

  • Yet we have time for breakfast, lunch, dinner, watching TV, texting with our friends, hanging out on Facebook, etc. You get the idea. The truth is that we always have time for what we truly value. Saying we’re too busy to read the Bible is a lame excuse – and the sooner we admit that, the sooner we can move past it and develop a regular Bible reading habit.
  • Just commit yourself to read your Bible – God will help you. Maybe it would help you to make a rule like “no Bible – no breakfast” or “no Bible – no TV.”
  • It is my personal experience that if I plan to read my Bible first thing in the morning or as early in the day as possible – I am much more likely to actually read it. If I push it off to later in the day or evening, then the day gets crowded and hectic and I end up never getting around to it.
  • It might help to make yourself accountable to a friend. Ask someone to follow up on your commitment to see if you actually do what you intend. We all tend to be better with follow through on our intentions when we know someone is going to be checking up on us.

 

“THE BIBLE IS BORING/TOO HARD TO UNDERSTAND.”

  • When I hear this excuse my first question is always, “when is the last time you tried reading it?” Many people haven’t made a serious effort to read their Bible since they were a small child. Let me remind you of something: your vocabulary and reading skills have increased tremendously since that time! Give it a try again – you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised!
  • Head into your Bible reading with a more positive attitude. Often our expectations tend to greatly influence our experience; in other words, if you expect to be bored or confused – you probably will be.
  • Check and see what version of the Bible you are trying to use. You might be attempting to use a King James Bible given to you by your grandma 25 years ago! The King James is a beautiful, poetic and reliable translation but it’s filled with a ton of antiquated words. There are many very readable translations available nowadays – I recommend the New Living Translation (that’s the version we use at ACC on Sunday mornings).
  • A great piece of advice that I was once given: don’t worry about the parts of the Bible you can’t understand – worry about the parts you do.

 

 

“I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO READ.”

  • Totally understandable! The Bible is a big old book and it can be a bit intimidating and even overwhelming.
  • Let me suggest, especially if you are a brand-new Bible reader, that you begin by reading the gospel of Mark. I also often suggest the book of James. If you are looking for comfort and emotional strength I highly recommend reading the Psalms.

 

These 3 excuses are just the top 3 that came to my mind. I myself have used plenty of other excuses and maybe you have too! But let’s not let any excuses get in our way of experiencing the fullness that God wants for each of us.

 

THE MOST SPIRITUALLY TRANSFORMATIVE HABIT YOU CAN DEVELOP IS TO READ YOUR BIBLE REGULARLY!

 

Now – grab a cup of coffee, find a comfy chair and get started!

Peace,

Dave

We All Need Heroes

We’re in the middle of a superhero themed series at Pit Stop (middle school ministry). Last night’s lesson was titled We All Need Heroes. All people groups throughout history have had heroes. It’s natural (I would even say necessary) for us as humans to have people to look up to. People who give us hope and who we aspire to be like.

The scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ is our ultimate hero (our Hero with a capital H). Hebrews 12:2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. I love this verse. Jesus is our champion…our Hero…who has secured our salvation. He gives us hope and sets an example for us in life and faith.

We also need little h – heroes…regular, everyday people that we look up to. We often refer to them as mentors, role models, etc. The relationship of the Apostle Paul and Timothy is a great example of this. Paul writes…Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. (II Timothy 2:1-2). Paul was a spiritual mentor to Timothy and we see that his influence continued even though distance separated them. In this verse we see Paul teaching Timothy, who will teach others, who will in turn teach others. It’s a chain of mentoring.

Let me encourage you to consider who your “spiritual heroes” are. Is it a Christian author or speaker that you particularly enjoy? Maybe an elderly individual that you’ve watched maintain a vibrant faith into their later years? Maybe a peer that you admire for their insight and unshakable faith? Maybe it’s even someone younger than you who shows wisdom beyond their years? We all need heroes.

Grace,

Chris

Got Questions?

We had a great response to Pastors on the Hot Seat this past Sunday (you can hear both the 9am & 10:30am services here). We had lots of great questions txt in. We covered quite a few, but obviously there are plenty that we couldn’t get to.

I want to encourage you to continue to seek out Biblical answers to your questions. If we ask questions in the right spirit (desiring to learn rather than to be contrary or rebellious), they can be a great catalyst for our spiritual growth.

A great resource for you to consider is www.gotquestions.org. You can search by key word or by topic and find several short articles related to your question. I’ve found the articles to be well-written and scripturally sound. That being said, I’d recommend using this as a starting point for your study. Read the article, look up the scriptures on your own, form your own thoughts, and engage with others on the topic.

Grace,

Chris

 

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

Grace_Under_Pressure_16x9

This Sunday, January 11 at ACC we begin a new teaching series in the book of 1 Peter – GRACE UNDER PRESSURE. It is a powerful little book that encourages us to remain faithful to Christ, even during difficult times.

I like that it was written by Peter. It seems to me that he was just a regular dude. A fisherman by trade. He was accustomed to a lot of hard work and being outside in all kinds of weather. Probably very little formal education. He had an endearing tendency to regularly put his foot in his mouth.

He is known in the New Testament for some of his “failures”: He tried walking on water and almost drowned – Jesus had to save him! When the angry mob came to arrest Jesus, Peter chopped off a guy’s ear with his sword! While Jesus stood on trial Peter tried to get glimpses of what was going on – and embarrassingly denied even knowing Christ 3 times!

But consider this:

  • Peter was the only one with enough faith to even try getting out of the boat.
  • Peter was fiercely loyal to Christ and was a man of action – even if it meant someone would have to lose an ear!
  • Peter may have denied Christ but he was the only disciple to have followed Christ that far – all the rest had abandoned him earlier.

I can relate to Peter. No one would ever mistake him for a scholar. Or a holy man. Or perfect. Just a dude.

But Christ turned his life upside down and he would never be the same. Eventually he would be martyred at the hands of Nero. But before he went down, he wrote an awesome letter to the believers in Asia Minor – encouraging them to hang tough during tough times. That’s what 1 Peter is all about.

I invite you to join us in the coming weeks as we dive into this book together.

Peace,

Dave