As we proceed with our Growing Together project there are many pieces that need to fall into place at just the right time. However the two main pieces are the financing and the village approval.
A couple months ago we were very excited about a loan offer we had received from Village Bank of Arlington Heights. At that time the loan still needed to go through the different steps of bank approval. During this approval process I’d get emails and phone calls asking for little bits of additional information that they needed. Each time we’d move one step further down the approval process. However, recently I got the phone call that we had been waiting for… The loan has been officially approved. This is great news!
At the same time Church Building Consultants (CBC) has continued to move forward with many different pieces. As a design build firm they are continuing to refine the architectural drawings, representing us during the village approval process and have started to receive bids from different subcontractors for us to choose from. They are doing so much and have been great to work with.
Over time I have had the chance to get to know several members of the CBC team. Each one of them plays a different role in the project but they are all dedicated to helping make sure that this project is a success. In addition, each week at their staff meeting they take time to pray for our project, our people, and the exciting life-change that is happening here.
Now that financing is lined up we need to continue to pray for the village approval process. CBC has been working diligently with the village and has come back with some encouraging news. The village has recently expressed a willingness to allow us to overlap some of the approval steps. This will allowing us to start the project sooner than if we were required to do them each separately. So being able to start this fall is seeming very realistic.
Please continue to pray for all that is involved in this project coming together. Some specific ideas to pray about:
- That village approval will continue to move forward favorably
- For our Building Vision Team
- For each of the team members from CBC as they work on their part of the project
- That Growing Together pledges would continue to come in faithfully
- For great (low) bids from subcontractors
- Praise for the loan being approved
Keep checking back for more updates and things to be praying about.
Last week Karen and I were able to get away for five days, to a rustic bed-n-breakfast type place about four hours north in Michigan. We were part of a pastor’s spiritual renewal retreat hosted by Broom Tree Ministries. (http://www.broomtreeministries.org/default.aspx)
It was a rare and cherished opportunity to:
- Escape the TV and cell phone
- Sleep in
- Eat a banana split every night at 8:30PM (I had to – a tradition of this place!)
- Have a full day ahead of me without a single meeting, deadline, or obligation
- Leisurely pray and read God’s word – without preparing for a sermon
- Watch a hilarious marriage seminar on DVD
- Enjoy delicious coffee in a small town coffee shop
- Hang out with other ministry couples from backgrounds and settings very different from my own
- Not have to take my dogs out to poop 3-5 times per day – then have to pick it up (I love my dogs, but not that!)
- Take a nap
- Walk through the woods
- Pray aimlessly
- Share a heavy burden with the retreat facilitators (Listening ears + wise counsel = lightened load!)
- Spend massive, glorious amounts of time with my beautiful wife of 30+ years
I am grateful beyond words. I feel good. I even look good (if you squint pretty hard). I am rested, restored, and ready to continue serving the kingdom of God.
It was a very good week.
1 Thessalonians 5: 12-13 “And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love”. (The Message)
October is National Clergy Appreciation month; a time that we can honor and show gratitude to the pastoral staff of ACC. How often do we get caught up in our own hardships, our own successes, our own challenges? I know I do. It’s hard to imagine that Dave, Chris and Scott are human too, with their own families, their own challenges, their own heartaches and their own joys. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to let them know how much their dedication and hard work is appreciated, now is your chance!
Why say thank you? Well, we all like to hear that we are doing a good job, but there are other reasons to encourage our pastors. First, as we see from the above scripture, it is a Biblical concept. Also, these men have been called to serve God, so showing gratitude to our pastors is showing gratitude to God for sending them to us. By showing love to our pastors, we demonstrate to the community around us that we truly are a church filled with love and grace.
Has a message that Dave preached really hit home and caused you to make God-honoring changes in your life? Has his council helped you with personal concerns? Or maybe he has been a good friend and it is time to tell him! Has the music played on Sunday morning given you goose bumps? Brought a tear to your eye? Brought joy to your heart? Say thank you to Scott. Is your child growing spiritually? Can’t wait to come to youth events? Developing a servant’s heart? Chris does an amazing job of inspiring our kids for Christ. Why not tell him so!
Let’s take this month as our opportunity to extend thanks to our pastors. Better yet – let’s make every day Clergy Appreciation Day! Thank you Dave, Chris and Scott – you are a blessing to ACC!
Guest blogger: Kris Milashus??
??We all should hate it. It is a lie and is incredibly damaging to people?s faith and to the cause of Christ. We need to reject the prosperity gospel and learn to hate it.
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Galatians 1:6-9
ACC’s Upward Basketball and Cheerleading practices begin in January, but plans have been underway since the summer. This will our seventh year hosting the Upward league, and it is exciting to anticipate its growth. Upward is a self-esteem building, Christ-centered sports program for children in grades 1-6.
On Sunday, October 17, you will hear more about how you can get involved. The challenge is for every person at ACC to be part of Upward in some way- whether coaching, serving as a referee, attending games, advertising, working at the concession stand, or praying. To have a successful season, there are many roles that the church body needs to fill. Will you consider how you can be part of Upward? We welcome your help with small and large jobs!
- In order to recruit players, we need to get the word out. Will you hang a yard sign, invite neighborhood children to play, and distribute brochures
?- If you love basketball, please consider coaching a team or serving as a referee. Games are on Saturdays beginning in late January. God can use your sports knowledge to impact children for eternity!
- If you have an Upward T-shirt, please wear it on Sunday, October 17. Children who have played are encouraged to wear uniforms or jerseys on this date too.??We look forward to your involvement. Please pray for a fun, successful, and God-honoring season!
Guest blogger: Allison Bies??
What an adrenaline rush!
The Bears / Packers game on Monday night was crazy exciting! (And quite satisfying IF you are a Bears fan!)
But that is NOT the adrenaline rush I am talking about.
I am talking about the excitement produced by Faith In Action at ACC this past Sunday, September 26th. This was the 3rd annual event where we cancel our two morning worship services. Instead, we scatter throughout our community for 2-3 hours to humbly serve others. The challenge: rather than GO to church – to better yet BE the church. We then wrapped up a full day with a Celebration Service in our gym followed by a delicious pizza party together.
•?We had well over 140 people enthusiastically involved in the various service projects.
•?We served at 13 homes of the elderly – including such things as cleaning gutters, raking, trimming bushes, scraping / painting, and washing a lot of windows. We are building some solid, loving relational bridges as we have been at some of these homes for 3 years in a row now. These dear folks are so grateful for the help. They know someone cares!??•?We were at 6 different local grocery stores handing out fliers as shoppers entered – encouraging them to purchase a few extra food items to deposit in our box on their way out. So many responded in a most generous way!
•?Others canvassed various neighborhoods, where earlier in the week we hung over 1,200 door hangers warning people that we were coming on Sunday morning! Our folks did a lot of walking and collected even more food donations.
•?We collected a total of at least 3,061 food items – it was a mountain of food! All that we collected was donated to the Wheeling Township Food Pantry. Our strategic partnership with them in recent years has been very fruitful.
•?Thelma Talamantes, Director of General Assistance of Wheeling Township offices joined us as our special guest at our Celebration Service. She spoke of the tremendous needs within our community and thanked us for our help. Her words were insightful and encouraging.
Consider the words from the New Testament book of James –
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17
Together as a church we are joyously learning that our faith must translate into serving others – especially those most in need in our community.
Did you participate in Faith In Action? What was your experience like? What did you see? What did you learn? What impressions were you left with
?I am already eager for next year! Plan now to be a part of the action – it is a total rush!
I was recently struck by a verse in the book of Isaiah: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (1:18a). I have been thinking about what this means. God personally invites us to reason with him- that is, think logically and rationally and come to an agreement with him. This verse reminds me of two great attributes of God: He is merciful and personal.
In the passage, this reasoning involves seeing sin for what it is. Isaiah addresses people who have turned their backs on God. I do this daily. Many times daily. More times than I like to admit. However, God in his grace, wants me to see the devastating nature of sin, discontinue the behavior, and turn to him to live a new way through Christ.
What is reasonable? Basically, I deserve to be punished. However, the holy creator of the universe invites me to approach him. Thus, my logical, or reasonable, response should be repentance! There really are only two choices: continue sinning, which leads to more destruction and an increasingly calloused heart, or repent, which results in blessing.
I struggle with allowing “acceptable” sins and downplaying the gravity of sin. With God?s help, I want to seek to make confession and repentance a more regular part of my Christian walk. It is unreasonable to ignore, categorize, and continue in sin. I encourage you to think about God’s invitation to reason with him and think and live differently as a result.
Guest blogger: Allison Bies??
I have been journaling lately. (That sounds manlier than writing, “I have been keeping a diary lately.”)
I probably average 3 entries per week. Sometimes I take up 2 full pages but more often about a ½ page will do me fine. I do not remember where I learned this model but I number the page 1 through 5 and briefly scribble about the following:
1.?YESTERDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS – as I reflect upon yesterday’s events I am reminded of God’s blessings, things I need to follow-up on or something funny that happened. Sometimes I notice that I forgot to say thanks to someone, I accomplished a lot more than I thought I could or that I am starting to neglect my family or my own health. What I actually jot down though are the highlights.
2.?CLEARING MY CONSCIENCE – Maybe I was impatient with a friend, maybe I experienced a little road rage…If nothing readily comes to mind then I pause and ask God to point out any sins I committed recently that have gone unconfessed. See Psalm 139:23-24.
3.?SAYING THANKS – Expressing thankfulness is so important; my list ranges from the nice weather to my awesome co-workers at ACC to a Bears victory over the Cowboys!!!
4.?LORD, I NEED YOUR HELP WITH… – Dependence upon God for all things is important but what are the things on my “TO Do “ list that seem particularly in need of his assistance?
5.?LORD, DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY TO ME? – Usually my journaling is following time spent in His Word and in prayer. I now stop to sit and quietly listen. Am I sensing his leading? Do I feel impressed to be obedient in some specific way? Some days this 5th line is blank – if I don’t hear his voice then I don’t just make up something to write down.
I find this helpful in my walk with Christ. In a busy and stressful world journaling forces me to slow down for a few minutes and be introspective. Go out and buy a little notebook, grab a pen and try it for a few weeks. This might just be a spiritual discipline that would be just what you need to get growing!
Fun. Should that describe a church?
Yesterday in my sermon I unveiled our new vision frame – an 18 month project of our elders and staff.
One side of the frame is our environmental values. These are not what we do but they describe how we do things. What we value in our ACC church environment. Think of them as the “vibe” we give off – or at least the “vibe” we want to give off.
Our five identified values include being: fun, warm, authentic, creative and participatory.
Please give me some feedback.
Which of these do you most resonate with in your experience at ACC?
Do you consider it too provocative to list fun as a value for a church?
Any other thoughts, comments or questions? Come on people – talk to me! (Please leave comments directly on the blog – not on Facebook).