This Sunday, January 3 at ACC we begin a new teaching series – BECOMING WHAT YOU BELIEVE. This 11 week study in the book of Ephesians will be a game changer as we learn more fully all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ and the resulting command he gives us to live in a manner worthy of our calling.
How can the maximum out of this new series?
- Attend regularly. If you must miss – be sure to listen to the podcast.
- Actively listen. Take notes. Intentionally focus.
- Discuss it. Whether for 5 minutes or 30, find a friend or family member and interact on each sermon. (Better yet, join a growth group!) What did you learn? What did it get you thinking about? Anything confusing or troubling?
- Come humbly. Have a teachable spirit; in fact, invite the Holy Spirit to be your teacher.
- Read it. This week. By this coming Sunday, January 3 make the time to read completely through the book of Ephesians – at least once, maybe a couple times.
I’m praying this study will change our lives – that it will change our church!
5 great Christmas gifts that don’t cost anything at all!
- The gift of listening. So many people desperately crave to really be listened to; to be understood. A person feels valued when they have your undivided attention. When is the last time you’ve given this gift to your spouse? To each of your children? Your elderly parents?
2. The gift of time. IMHO the old “quality time” vs. “quantity time” is a false dichotomy. It shouldn’t be either / or but rather both/and. By all means be all there for family and friends (quality time) but don’t keep such a busy schedule that you can’t regularly give them a big chunk of time to go for a long walk in the woods, watch a movie (an entire Star Wars marathon?) or hop the train for a day in the city?? (quantity time)
3. The gift of encouraging words. We live in a world that constantly tears us down – instilling fear, doubt, insecurity, discouragement, etc. Its really hard to underestimate how helpful kind words can be. The bible says, “…an encouraging word cheers a person up.” (Proverbs 12:25) Speak positive and upbeat words into the lives of those around you – it will make their day!
4. The gift of service. Go “above and beyond” for someone – even simple acts of service, especially when unexpected, can really be a blessing to others. Target someone and then…shovel their sidewalk, vacuum out their car, make their bed, load their dishwasher, fix their dinner, walk their dog, etc. Be creative.
5. The gift of Jesus. Is there a better gift?? Forgiveness. Eternal life. Meaning. Purpose. Spiritual peace and joy. So share him with those you love! Begin by praying for others by name – that their heart and mind would be turned toward Christ. Then look for opportunities to tell them what Jesus means to you. Finally, invite them to church. Is it a bit of a risk? Sure. But a risk well worth it. Jesus lves them. They need to know that!
Merry Christmas! I pray God’s love for you is very real to you and that he enables you to share his love with others.
Tonight is the annual Middle School Ministry Lock-In. It’s a high energy, sugar and caffeine driven, all-nighter. The night includes all you can eat pizza and pop, a 45 ft inflatable obstacle course, a photo scavenger hunt, messy games, group night games (played in the dark), a movie, and we cap it all off with donuts for breakfast.
I know it sounds crazy…it is crazy! Here are some of the reasons we do it:
- It’s memorable. Students talk about this event for years to come. Some of the students who have come through our ministry and are in college now, still bring up stories from this event. I think it’s important for students to have fun memories involving church.
- It’s a relationship builder. Every year, our team ends up having great conversations with students in the wee hours of the night. Spending extended periods of time with people can seriously accelerate relationship development.
- It’s a great evangelistic tool. It’s one of the ways we’re encouraging our students to participate in our church wide Each One Reach One campaign this year. This is an event that students love to bring their friends too. I always do a short gospel presentation and invite students to join us for youth group in the coming year.
Check out our Pit Stop Facebook Page for some pictures from the event.
Check out this new data from LifeWay research:
Carol Pipes, editor of Facts & Trends, wrote the story for LifeWay Research:
“In a recent poll of 1,000 Americans, LifeWay Research found six out of 10 Americans typically attend church at Christmastime.
But among those who don’t attend church at Christmastime, a majority (57 percent) say they would likely attend if someone they knew invited them.”
So invite someone! Our EACH ONE REACH ONE strategy this year is to identify at least 3 people in our life that need to know and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ and then commit to doing 3 things: 1) Pray for them daily. 2) Look for opportunities to share our faith story and 3) Invite them to church.
So now is the ideal time to invite! Invite them to ACC this Sunday, December 20 or to one of our Christmas Eve services, either at 4 or 11PM. The chances are pretty good that they might say yes! Prayerfully invite someone and lets see what God will do.
On Thursday I spent part of my day away at a retreat center in the area. My goals were to get away, spend some quality time with God, and reflect on the past year. The time was restful, spiritually refreshing, and very meaningful. Have you ever taken the time do something like this? I want to suggest to you that it could be a very powerful growth step in your spiritual life. Jesus did this sort of thing regularly (Luke 5:16). If He needed it, how much more do we need it?!?!
Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way…
- I have to schedule something like this rather than fit it in when there’s time. If I wait until there’s time, there will never be a “convenient” time. I make it a habit to put a date down on the calendar several months out and then protect that day.
- I need accountability to make something like this happen. I planned this day with a few other youthworkers. We spent time alone, together. We showed up at the same location and then spread out around the facility and did our own thing. Committing to do this with others helped keep it a priority in my schedule.
- Regular reflection keeps things in perspective. As I reflected on the last year, I was blown away at what God has done. The ways I’ve seen him at work in our church, in my family, and in me personally are overwhelming. YET, I wasn’t tuned into these things until I stopped and reflected. Regular reflection helps me keep the bigger picture in perspective.
- Something is better than nothing. While I would have loved to get a way for an extended period of time (a full day or an overnight), that wasn’t possible. I made the decision to get away for a few hours and it was definitely worth it!
I hope you’ll take some time to get away, spend some quality time with God, and reflect. If you do, I’d love to hear about your experience.
There is a bit of controversy as to whether this is a legit quote of Beethoven. No matter (to me anyway!). I love the thought and it readily applies to those of us who follow Christ.
Playing wrong notes is inevitable. It’s how you learn. As you practice, the wrong notes will become less and less frequent. It takes time, dedication and practice. It is a process. No one expects to play like an expert overnight.
We experience many failures in living for Christ. But we learn from our shortcomings. As we walk with him and mature spiritually our sinning will decrease. It is a long-term process. No one should expect to be a mature Christian overnight. Becoming like Jesus takes time. Lots of it.
But in light of all that God has done for us, though we cannot be perfect, we should be passionate! Stoke the flames of spiritual passion by reading his Word, praying, fellowshipping with like-minded believers, actively engaging in corporate worship, resisting compromise with sin, consciously depending on the Holy Spirit and regularly reflecting on all the blessings you have in Christ Jesus.
There’s no shortage of depressing news these days. Terrorism, refugees, mass shootings, corruption and cover ups, and senseless crimes committed against children. It’s enough to drag down even the most optimistic among us.
What do you do with all of this?
To be clear, I’m not looking to answer the why does God allow bad things to happen question. It’s not that I don’t think there are good answers to that question…I just don’t believe that’s a helpful question to ask in the midst of tragedies. Trying to understand horrific acts of violence is a fools game…the answers are never good enough. And I would argue that we’re not really looking for answers…what we’re really looking for is something to make us feel better. We’re scared or sad and we think that if we have an answer, we won’t be scared or sad anymore. I don’t believe it works that way. I believe the way toward healing and wholeness (feeling better) is to honor those emotions and invite God to meet you in them. I believe that’s an individual journey each of us need to take, but to give you an idea of what it might look like, here’s what it looks like for me.
As I hear about these tragedies, I feel sad…I feel overwhelming sadness at the brokenness of our world, for the victims and their loved ones, and for the hurting individual who carried out such a horrific act. Through prayer, I take those feelings to God…Like a child who looks to their earthly father for love and comfort, I turn to my heavenly Father and tell him that I’m sad. I’m reminded that God grieves with those who grieve (John 11 – the death of Lazarus). That my sadness is not foreign to Him (Isaiah 53:3). And I’m reminded that one day He will make it all better (Revelation 21:4). This process allows me to be honest about my feeling of sadness and find comfort in my heavenly Father. It helps me feel OK with the sadness and reminds me that it won’t always be this way.
Have you ever brought your emotions before God and invited Him into what you’re feeling? I invite you to try it.