Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. – Psalm 90:14
Monday, my daughter started 1st grade. Her first day of “full-day” school. She was so ready for school to start and so excited about meeting new friends. We dropped her off at school and she was in the door of her classroom and settling into her desk without even saying goodbye to us. She’s always been that way…independent and ready for anything. We waved from the door and then left to drop my son off at his first day of preschool (it was an emotional day for my wife!). We went about the rest of our day and anxiously awaited the end of the school day. We stood outside waiting for the bus wondering how the first day had gone…would she be tired? did she make new friends? did she have enough time to eat her lunch? did we forget to send something she needed? Lots of questions as we waited. Before long, the bus arrived and she came running of the bus and yelled “That was the best day of my life! Can we have a party and invite all of my friends to celebrate the first day of school?” Lisa and I laughed about that for a while…I’m still laughing to myself as I write this now. It was a really funny moment, but the thing that sticks with me is the sheer joy on her face. Simple. Childlike. Joy.
I want to experience joy like that in my life…true, lasting joy. Joy like that can only come from God. I want to be so satisfied in God that I experience what Psalm 90:14 is talking about.
This past Sunday we looked at the 5 environmental values of ACC. These are the vibes we desire to give out. Our feel. Our atmosphere. Our culture.
How are you doing in exemplifying these values?
- How often do you laugh?
- Do you look forward to church, expecting both to be blessed and to be a blessing?
- Do you think Dave is funny?
- Do you make an effort to greet others and smile?
- Do you make an effort to learn and remember names?
- Do you ever approach someone sitting by their self and ask if you can sit by them?
- Are you willing to share your weaknesses / struggles?
- Do you dress to impress or dress to be comfortable?
- Do you sincerely take an interest in others?
- Do you actively look for ways to serve those around you?
- Do you actively look for ways to give more money to the church?
- Do you actively look for ways to focus your worship exclusively toward God?
- Do you sing with gusto when it’s time to sing?
- Do you listen with a teachable heart during the sermon?
- What role do you play in giving ACC an environment where people can flourish spiritually?
Our church would powerfully advance the kingdom of God in people’s hearts if we all were determined to live out these values. It begins with YOU. It begins with ME. Let’s do it!
21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. – Ephesians 4:21-24
Have you ever walked past someone who didn’t acknowledge you? Maybe they looked right past you or even ignored your gesture. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. My question is, what do you do with that when it happens to you? I believe we have a tendency to make up “stories” in situations like this. We determine the person is “stuck-up” or “rude”, or we explain it away with the story that they “must have had a lot on their mind”. Whatever the story is, it’s important that we realize that that’s exactly what it is…it’s our story of what happened. The facts are simply that we walked past someone and they didn’t acknowledge us. Responding to that person from the story that we’ve made up is like holding someone accountable for something that happened in a dream…they may have appeared in the dream, but what happened in the dream is a product of our mind…not their actions.
Moving from story to reality is a key step toward authentic community. As a church, we want to be a place of real community. A place where people interact in an open and honest way. Where love and grace permeate our conversations. It’s difficult (read: impossible) to do that when we are living in our stories instead of the truth that honesty brings.
So, taking our example of someone not acknowledging you as they walk by…the story may be that they’re “stuck-up”. How do we move from story to reality in this? We need to get more data. We need to take the important step of going to that person and engaging with them on the issue. It’s not confrontational, it’s honest and direct. Think more calm conversation than angry accusation. Very practically, it might look like, “Earlier when I walked past you, I was trying to connect with you and I didn’t get a response from you. I wanted to ask you if there’s something between us that we need to talk about”. There’s certainly a risk in asking that question. You might get an answer that you don’t want to hear. However, I would submit to you that it’s worth the risk if you really want authentic community.
The verse listed above talks about leaving our old sinful ways of thinking and instead to be renewed in our thoughts and attitudes because as Christ followers, we are called to something more. It’s my prayer that here at ACC we would live out our value of authentic community in a way that cuts through the stories and gets at the truth so that each of us can experience grace in the midst of honesty.
What words describe the church?
On her worst days: Manipulative. Stubborn. Judgmental. Outdated. Boring. Ineffective. Shortsighted. Self-centered. Mean. Isolated. Pessimistic. Distracted. Hypocritical.
On her best days: Generous. Loving. Truthful. Redemptive. Encouraging. Focused. Inspiring. Energetic. Bold. Brave. Involved. Hopeful. Merciful. Grace-filled. Gentle. Tenacious.
But here’s the thing – whether she is having a good day or a bad day, one thing is always true: She is always the Bride of Christ. Christ loves her passionately, in spite of her imperfections. He loved her so much that he willingly laid down his life for her. He knows full well that one day they will be together face to face and then she will be absolutely Perfect. Unblemished. Beautiful. Fully His.
What are the implications for us who self-identify as Christ followers?
- We should love her too.
- We should be slow to criticize her.
- We should support her with all we have.
- We should believe in her.
- We should realize that WE ARE THE BRIDE OF CHRIST. Jesus loves us as we are but loves us enough to not let us remain as we are. His desires for us are nothing but good, redemptive, honorable, merciful and caring.
The church is God’s one and only plan to deliver the life saving message of Christ’s sacrificial love to a desperate and dying world.
Be honest. Is prayer boring to you?
Most of us don’t pray as much as we should and it’s because it bores us. And it’s boring because we constantly say the same old things about the same old things.
That’s the basic premise of a new book: Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney.
He asserts that we struggle to pray not because we are bad Christians but because our method for praying is wrong.
The solution? “…when you pray, pray through a passage of Scripture, particularly a psalm.” (p.27)
Read through a passage one verse or sentence at a time and then reflect on it and pray it back to God – praying specifically about whatever comes to mind. As Whitney writes, “So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through our heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers.” (p.32)
Intrigued? Then go buy this book! It is short, simple and very helpful. I’ve been employing this method into my prayer life and it helps tremendously.
Don’t be satisfied with a “blah” payer life. You can do better!
Do you find yourself playing the comparison game? Looking at someone else’s life, career, marriage, etc and thinking they’re doing it better than you? The grass always seems to look greener on the other side of the fence. When you play the comparison game, you lose. You either puff yourself up as you think you’re doing it better then them, or you tear yourself down as you think they’re doing it better than you. Either way, you lose. It’s never fair to compare what you know about yourself (everything) to what you know about someone else (only what they show you). What’s more…they have a unique set of circumstances which may be very different from your circumstances. Each person is responsible for their own life and accountable for what they’ve done with what they’ve been given. (Romans 14:12)
If the grass looks greener somewhere else, water your lawn! In other words, don’t abandon your lawn…make it the best that it can be. Invest yourself in having the kind of life, career, marriage, etc that you really want.
Can you have fun and be on mission for Christ at the same time? Oh yeah.
I want to invite you to join us at ACC on Saturday, August 29 from 2-5PM for our FAMILY FUN DAY. There will be great food, a dessert contest, photo booth, dunk tank, face painting and much, much more! Set aside this date and be sure to join us.
And remember: It’s FREE.
But let me challenge you to take it a step further. Be more purposeful. Be on mission. How?
Invite your neighbors. Relatives. Co-workers.
This is the perfect event to build relationships with those who don’t yet go to our church. To expose them to ACC. Get them on our grounds and in our building. Hanging out. Having fun together. Who knows how God might use this time?
Join us and bring somebody with you. Its gonna be awesome!
P.S. You don’t need to have kids to show-up. We want everyone here. It’ll be a great time – regardless of your age. (I’ll be there!)
P.P.S. Maybe you’d like to be a volunteer to help make this happen. Excellent ministry opportunity! Just contact Melissa Reddin. Melissa@acchurch.org