Location

27w500 North Ave.
West Chicago, IL 60185
630.260.1600
View Google Map

Worship Times

8:15 Traditional
9:45 & 11:15 Contemporary
11:15 Spanish
Contact Us

Love God, Grow Together, Reach the World

    Daily Devotions - Entries from April 2012

    MonMondayAprApril30th2012 Obey

    First, the bad news. If you are a child, the Bible is pretty clear that you are to obey your parents. There’s no theologizing or explaining the word away. Obey means obey. Don’t wait around for a pastor to stand up and say that the Greek actually means something different. It doesn’t. Paul says what he means and he means what he says. Children are to obey their parents.

    However, lest parents start to get big heads imagining all the ways they can go crazy with this newfound power and authority, let’s re-read the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. (Col. 1:1-2, NIV)

    Paul is not writing generically to anyone in Colossae who will pick up his letter. He is writing first and foremost to a particular group of people, “God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.” Paul is writing to believers; men and women who have died to self and put their trust and faith in Jesus for their salvation.

    Paul’s letter is addressed to parents who have repented of sin and sought out the forgiveness and healing that only Jesus can offer. Paul’s letter is for those people who have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and are letting Him transform them into the likeness of Christ.

    So, parents, consider the love you have in the Spirit (Col. 1:8) and the ways in which the gospel is “bearing fruit and growing” in your own life (Col. 1:6). Paul said of the Colossians that they had a “love for all God’s people” (Col. 1:4). That love should extend to your children, the believers who are closest to you in every possible way.

    As such, the authority granted to parents in Col. 3:20 (“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord”) is based on the fundamental underlying assumption that the parents are themselves rooted and grounded in the gospel, living a life of self-sacrificial and humble obedience to Jesus and His commands for their lives.

    So, children, how is it going at home? Are you obeying your parents, willingly, lovingly, consistently?

    Parents, are you obeying your Heavenly Father? Are you serving Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? In what ways is the gospel bearing fruit and growing in your life? What impact is that having (or could that be having) on your family as a result?

    FriFridayAprApril27th2012 Motivation
    byJonathan Ziman Tagged Marriage 0 comments Add comment

    On Sunday morning we’ll engage fully with what Paul means when he says,

    Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
    Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
    (Col. 3:18-19)

    But for right now we pause for a moment to consider our own hearts and motivations. In marriage relationships in particular it is so easy to consider ourselves as more mature, more capable, more attentive, more (fill in the blank).

    The Bible calls this pride, and Paul challenges it head on in a different letter, which he wrote to the Philippians. There he said,

    If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
    But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
    (Phil. 3:4-11)

    We may excel in any number of areas, but how do our good deeds stack up against the perfect righteousness and absolute holiness of Christ? Are we willing to lose everything for the sake of Christ? How much suffering and struggle are we really ready to put up with?

    The pursuit of the “perfect” partner is both foolish and arrogant. Foolish, because there is no such person. Arrogant because it claims that we ourselves are without sin, perfect in every way. Wives will always struggle to submit to their husbands. Husbands will always struggle to love their wives. This is normal. It’s to be expected. We live in a fallen world and we, ourselves, are sinful people. The good news, however, is that God’s grace is deeper still, and as we turn to Him in confession and repentance, He works through the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about transformation beyond anything we could have ever have hoped for or imagined.

    ThuThursdayAprApril26th2012 Perspective
    byJonathan Ziman Tagged Marriage 0 comments Add comment

    Perspective is everything. Patterns that seem random and disconnected when looked at up close take on incredible symmetry and meaning when looked at from a distance.

    The same is true in our spiritual lives. Suffering and pain often seem completely overwhelming in the moment. However, when we set those troubles in the context of our relationship with Jesus and all that He has done, something incredible happens. The painful edge is dulled and hope is restored. Whatever we are going through right now, God is with us and will never leave us or forsake us.

    Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

    We need to remind ourselves daily of the new life that we have in Christ. What are some spiritual practices or habits you can establish this week that might help you to see this bigger perspective on a more regular and consistent basis?

    When it comes to our marriages, what would change if we turned our focus away from what our spouse should or should not be doing and instead “set [our] minds on things above”?

    WedWednesdayAprApril25th2012 Kill sin
    byJonathan Ziman Tagged Marriage 0 comments Add comment

    We’re working our way back through the third chapter of Colossians this week for two reasons. First, we all have a tendency to forget what we’ve read and heard. Sermons that sound amazing in the moment all too often quickly fade into a hazy distant memory. However, God’s Word is meant to be both heard and applied. If we’re challenged but never changed, then something is missing.

    The second reason we’re reviewing Colossians is because we cannot possibly understand and apply the verses about marriage until we have absorbed and put into practice everything that comes before it. How can we talk about submission when we have failed to demonstrate forgiveness? How can we love when we’re impatient and unkind?

    So today, however painful it may be, we have to revisit Paul’s admonitions regarding sin.

    Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Col 3:5-11)

    Sin is the awkward and uncomfortable reality that we all live with. It’s like the mold in the caulking of the shower that we try to cover up with the shower curtain and hope our guests don’t see. When we worshipped together on Good Friday we remembered the amazing and awful truth that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and to set us free from the power of sin.

    That said, the battle still wages within us day-to-day, and Paul encourages us not just to avoid sin if we can, but to put it death. Drive a stake through it. Do whatever we can and whatever we need to do in order to rid ourselves of everything that “belongs to [our] earthly nature.”

    Where does the battle wage the fiercest for you? What practical steps have you taken to really rid yourselves of these things?

    We fight with the help of the Holy Spirit, but also with the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Who is helping you to fight the good fight? Who can you engage this week to pray for you and support you in this battle for your life?

    Finally, what incredible new life would it bring to your marriage relationship specifically if you made significant headway in battling against the sin in your life?

    TueTuesdayAprApril24th2012 Forgive
    byJonathan Ziman Tagged Marriage 0 comments Add comment

    As we continue to explore the context for this week’s passage about the relationship between husbands and wives, we go backwards again, this time to our sermon from two weeks ago,

    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col. 3:12-14)

    Probably most of us need to work in one or even all of these areas. So…how is it going?

    What have you been doing over the last couple of weeks to ensure that you are really “clothing” yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience?

    Who are the people you need to forgive? Have you forgiven them yet? What steps can you take to move in that direction? Have you been praying for the person who wronged you? How much room are you giving the Holy Spirit to change your own heart?

    Finally, if you are married, take a moment to think about that relationship. It’s the most important and significant human relationship that you have. What kind of impact would it have on your marriage if for the next week you practiced this kind of radical and generous forgiveness with your spouse?

    MonMondayAprApril23rd2012 Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart
    byJonathan Ziman Tagged Marriage 0 comments Add comment
    Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
    Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
    (Col. 3:18-19, NIV)

    We often run into problems interpreting the Bible when we look at particular verses or commands in isolation (as I have quoted them above, for example). Since the verses we’re looking at this week have often been the source of much confusion, it’s important that we set them in the proper context in order to understand the full depth and weight of their implications for our lives.

    The immediate context for these verses on marriage comes from our sermon yesterday, based on the following passage:

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:15-17)

    How would you summarize the key points of this passage in your own words?

    What implications does it have for your life? In other words, how are you going to live differently as a result this week?

    Finally, before we even consider issues such as submission and love, stop for a moment to think about your own marriage. What impact would it have on your relationship for the peace of Christ to have complete reign and rule over your heart?

    FriFridayAprApril20th2012 In Jesus' Name, Amen

    I could be wrong, but I think that our heavenly Father is looking for a greater level of commitment from us than a simple shout-out to Jesus at the end of our prayers. Now of course we can and should end our prayers by saying, “in Jesus’ name, Amen.” However, I don’t think that reciting a certain phrase over and over again captures everything that Paul had in mind when he said,

    17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17, NIV)

    The slow and steady drum-beat of the Bible is that God is looking for people whose hearts are turned towards him. That will, of course, be reflected in certain acts of obedience to His Law, but it’s the heart that God longs to be tuned into Him first and foremost.

    When Jesus is challenged as to which is the greatest commandment, He doesn’t make up something new. Rather, He turns back to the Law, to Deuteronomy 6:

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matt. 22:37, NIV)

    Paul is essentially saying exactly the same thing in his letter to the Colossians. They are to do everything in a way that reflects their deep love for the Lord Jesus. Primarily, in the immediate context of this section of his letter, that means they are to live as a Christian community in a way that exudes a deep love for God. Their relationships with each other should be governed by a love for Jesus. Their discipleship should be infused with a love for Jesus. Even the discipline (admonishment) that may at times be necessary should be controlled by a love for Jesus.

    The same is true for us today. Over the next month, any time you find yourself saying, “In Jesus’ name,” stop for a second and reflect on what you are saying. What is the true condition of your heart as you invoke Jesus’ name and blessing? Are your relationships indicative of the kind of love that Jesus is calling us to embody? Are you really ready and prepared to give this activity/relationship/moment completely over to God?

    ThuThursdayAprApril19th2012 Worship God
    byJonathan Ziman Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    Many of my memories of school as a child are sitting at uncomfortable desk in an uncomfortable uniform staring at a teacher’s back as he scratched away on a dusty chalkboard. Sadly, although we’ve all outgrown uniforms, little else has really changed when it comes to teaching. Certainly we’ve upgraded blackboards to whiteboards, and hopefully most of the time the better teachers actually work to engage their students in the material at hand, but the whole affair is still largely a one-way transfer of cognitive information.

    When it comes to learning and transferring the gospel, however, Paul introduces the Colossians to quite a different way of discipleship than we are perhaps used to.

    Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Col. 3:16, NIV)

    In this verse Paul doesn’t appear to distinguish between the intellectual acquisition of new facts and the singing worship of God. Rather, it would seem that the gospel is something that we communicate to each other in a variety of different ways, and that the very actions of teaching and admonishing one another can somehow be accomplished through our acts of worship to God.

    Such a holistic gospel-centered vision of worship is quite different from the way in which most of us view our church services (worship first, then teaching). Paul seems to subsume teaching under the broader category of worship.

    We see this most clearly in our children, who readily learn all kinds of information when we set it to music. They can memorize vast numbers of Bible verses when they are set to song. But it’s true for adults as well. Some of the best hymns we have contain incredibly rich theology, and we’ve internalized that theology in ways we never would have done so had we simply been taught it in a class.

    What do you think about this connection between worship and teaching? How should they relate to each other?

    WedWednesdayAprApril18th2012 What's at the center?

    “Seize the day!”
    “A penny saved is a penny earned”
    “Why put off to tomorrow what can be done today?”

    Whether they are spoken or not, we all carry around certain philosophies of life that govern the way we live and act and make decisions. Some we picked up from our parents and others we absorbed from TV shows or movies. Some are better than others. Some may even reflect Biblical truths, whether we know it or not. What are the philosophies of life you find driving your decision-making most of the time?

    Paul is clear in his letter to the Colossians as to what he feels should be at the center of their lives:

    Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Col. 3:16, NIV)

    Perhaps not surprisingly, “the message of Christ” is what Paul hopes will be the governing reality for the church in Colosse. What does that mean? In this context Paul is primarily talking about the gospel. That is, the message about Jesus being the Messiah, the Christ, sent to die for our sins so that we might be forgiven and restored in relationship with God. This is the message that should be at the center of everything we do. The gospel should infuse every nook and cranny of our Christian community.

    This means, of course, that first and foremost the gospel must be good news for us personally. Until the gospel dwells in our hearts personally as a historical reality that impacts us in every moment of every day, then it cannot ever spill out into our broader community as a whole.

    Take some time today to reflect back on the reality of the events we celebrated so recently over Holy Week; the humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, the agonizing pain and separation of the cross, the astonishing joy of the resurrection. The gospel is good news that has the power to transform our lives, our families and our churches. The question is, will we give it free reign to do so?

    TueTuesdayAprApril17th2012 Be thankful
    byJonathan Ziman Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    The smell of roast turkey wafting through the house, pumpkin pies cooling on the counter and cinnamon-apple-spice tea brewing at the table. With so many wonderful treats to tantalize our taste-buds, Thanksgiving is perhaps one of the best holidays of the year. However, it’s possible that in the middle of all the parades and turkey and football we kind of lose sight of the fact that the fourth Thursday in November is supposed to be a time to express thanks to God for all that He has done and provided in our lives.

    In fact, it’s just possible that we’ve lost sight of all the Biblical commands to be thankful. It’s not surprising. After all, we tend to focus on the more significant aspects of theology such as justification and sanctification, and Paul’s commands sometimes read a bit more like after-thoughts:

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Col. 3:15, NIV)

    If you blink you might miss it, tacked on the end of his challenge to live in peace. Yet at the same time thankfulness is quite important for Paul. Earlier in his letter he implored the Colossians:

    So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col. 2:6-7, NIV)

    A life “overflowing with thankfulness” is certainly quite a bit different from the way most of us live our lives. We’re used to accomplishing and achieving most things under our own strength. To give thanks to someone else means acknowledging that we didn’t do it ourselves.

    Therein lies the root of our problem. When it comes right down to it, we struggle to live lives of thankfulness because we struggle to believe that God is the ultimate source of everything.

    Life in community is a challenge. It will always be a challenge. Paul calls the Colossians to be thankful because if they can truly clothe themselves with love and patience and kindness and manage to somehow live in peace with each other they owe it all to God!

    As you reflect on your relationships this week, in what areas have you been trying to make everything work under your own strengths and abilities? What can you release to God? Pray for His help to establish peace in areas of conflict this week as you attempt to give thanks to God in all things.

    MonMondayAprApril16th2012 Peace, peace

    In just the last week there was a suspected coup in the West-African nation of Guinea-Bissau, increased fighting in South Sudan, and enough shooting during the supposed ceasefire in Syria that a full-out civil war seems almost inevitable. The United Nations has 118,000 “peace-keepers” deployed in 15 different locations around the world to stabilize hot-spots where civil wars and ongoing fighting have made lasting peace seem to be an impossibility. Yet, even their best efforts at establishing peace cannot stem the tide of violence. Every week seems to bring a new conflict or new war into focus.

    While we may be unable to do much to prevent civil wars and ethnic violence around the world, Jesus has called us to do everything we can to establish peace in our relationships with other people. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said,

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matt. 5:9, NIV)

    Jesus himself proclaims a special kind of blessing on those who seek peace. But what does that mean? First and foremost, peacemakers realize that the fundamental problem with both the world and themselves is sin. As such, no amount of talking, no amount of conferences, no heads-of-state can ever deal with that problem. We can cover up sin for a while with behavior modification and peace treaties and so on, but until we deal with the source, nothing will change.

    Secondly, peacemakers view their world through the lens of the gospel. They appreciate at a deep level the grace that has been extended to them through Jesus Christ and freely extend that same grace to others as well.

    Finally, as Paul commends the Colossians, peacemakers work to express a peaceable spirit or attitude towards others.

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. (Col. 3:15, NIV)

    Note that peaceable does not mean weak and passive. It means working actively to avoid being aggressive and quarrelsome. It means watching our tongues and actively working to bring about reconciliation and restoration whenever and however possible.

    With whom is God calling you to be a peacemaker this week?

    FriFridayAprApril13th2012 But Valentine's Day was more than a month ago!

    (Image used with permission from http://www.creationswap.com/rkomanapalli)

    About this time last week many of us stood in church and looked up at a cross. We sang some songs, took communion and recalled together the awful death that Jesus died; the incredible act of loving self-sacrifice that paid for our sins once and for all.

    As we move back into the daily rhythms of our lives, we should pause for a moment to consider the implications of that death and subsequent resurrection. The gospel is ultimately not about us as individuals, but us collectively as a new community, a new people, gathered together into a new institution, the Church. The night that Jesus was betrayed He prayed for this community, and specifically for us; for you and for me.

    My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

    (John 17:20-23, NIV)

    Jesus knew more than anyone else how deeply ingrained our sin was, and yet he prayed what seems sometimes to be an impossible-to-answer prayer, that we would somehow “be one.” Not just in the way that teams work well together, but in the same way that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in perfect unity. This is astonishing.

    So, when Paul tells the Colossians, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col. 3:14, NIV), he is asking them to live in a way that reflects the kind of supernaturally empowered unity that Jesus prayed for. Gentleness, kindness, patience, humility and compassion are wonderful, but love is the crowning element that holds them all together, and ultimately holds us together as well.

    None of this, of course, can happen without God’s help. As you face into relationships this week that may be quite challenging, don’t lose hope and don’t give up. Pray specifically for the Holy Spirit to change your thoughts, your feelings and ultimately your actions. Pray for the Spirit to give you the strength to persevere and to express love when it doesn’t seem possible or likely.

    ThuThursdayAprApril12th2012 More than just "grin and bear it"

    (Image used with permission from http://www.creationswap.com/elev8webdesign)

    One of the most refreshing things for me about the Bible is its brutal realism. Paul never sugarcoats anything, especially when it comes to living in community with each other. He knows full well that disagreements, arguments, and even feuds are going to break out any time you gather a group of people together. It’s the surest reminder we have that we still live in a fallen world and it should drive us to our knees in prayer for that great and glorious day to come when Jesus will solve all these problems once and for all.

    In the meantime though, even the nicest Christians will eventually find a way to rub each other the wrong way. Looks get misinterpreted, “tones” of voice get inferred a certain way, body language gets misread, and before you know it we’re in a huff about something. What then? Paul says,

    Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
    (Col. 3:13, NIV)

    On the one hand, as brothers and sisters in Christ, members of the same body, with the same head (Christ), we should at the very least be able to bear with each other. Take a deep breath, grit your teeth and just make yourself put up with the other person. That much we should be able to do, as the bare minimum.

    But honestly, as Paul notes, we have the ability to do so much more. When we consider, as we did less than a week ago, the incredible lengths to which Jesus went in order to secure our own forgiveness, we should be able to extend that same forgiveness to others as well. Especially fellow believers! The apostle John put this in even stronger terms, saying,

    We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
    (1 John 4:19-21, NIV)

    We can forgive, not because we like it, or because we no longer think we were wronged, or because we are ignoring the issue, or denying something happened, but because God forgave us. Not only that, He is the one who will judge the other person, not us. Fellow believers are forgiven for their sins as we are forgiven of ours. When we withhold forgiveness we reject God as judge and reject Him as redeemer.

    Forgiveness is rarely easy, but is the only sure path to personal peace and loving community. What an amazing witness our churches could be if we learned to truly love each other in this way!

    WedWednesdayAprApril11th2012 Paul's walk-in closet

    Every morning we stand in front of the closet and stare at rows of clothes. Long-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved shirts, blouses, skirts, pants, dresses, shorts, culottes, capris, t-shirts, running shorts, ties, jackets…the list goes on and on. Both men and women alike spend extraordinary amounts of time picking out clothes. Even the most humble among us wants to at least wear matching sock.

    Walk-in-closets were probably the furthest thing from Paul’s mind when he wrote his letter to the Colossians. Nevertheless, he uses the imagery of clothing in order to more carefully illustrate for his readers his vision for Christian community.

    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
    (Col. 3:12, NIV)

    Just as we have “taken off” our old self and “put on the new self,” so, too, must we take care to put off sinful ways of living and instead clothe ourselves with an entirely new way of interacting with other people. We take time to make sure we are wearing the right clothes, even though ultimately our clothes don’t matter. How much more so then should we take care to clothe ourselves with the right virtues?

    For most of us these virtues will not come naturally. Oh sure, amongst the people we like, who treat us well and agree with us on everything, we have no problems being patient and compassionate. But what about the other 99%? The real test of our ability to be patient is with the person who cuts us off after sitting in traffic for 45 minutes on the Eisenhower. The real test of our ability to be gentle is when our spouse forgets our anniversary, or has to stay late at work on the one night we had plans to go out with friends.

    The good news is that neither Paul nor Jesus expect us to rustle up all these virtues by ourselves. We clothe ourselves with them because they don’t come from within us. All of these virtues stem from the fruit of the Spirit and although we actively pursue them and cultivate them and clothe ourselves with them, it is the Spirit who empowers them.

    Undoubtedly such a list as this may generate some feelings of uneasiness. We all have areas in our lives we need to work on. However, instead of stressing about our failures or feeling guilty and ashamed about our mistakes, we can confess, repent and seek God’s help to do better next time. 

    TueTuesdayAprApril10th2012 Chosen



    Easter is an incredible reminder of the fact that we have been chosen by God. We do not live in a random universe governed by chance or luck. This world was set on its axis by a God who knows us individually and cares for us personally. In recounting the Exodus from Egypt and the journey into the Promised Land, Moses reminded the people how “the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son” (Deut. 1:31, NIV) Through the miracle of Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection and ascension we have proof that God carries us, too, with that same fatherly love and attention.

    The apostle John wrote, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13, NIV). This is amazing news, and sets the stage for Paul’s reminder to the Colossians that they are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” (Col. 3:12, NIV)

    This kind of language is not the way an impersonal deity would talk to his followers. It’s not the kind of thing that an “absent landlord” god would say to his creation. Easter is a wonderful reminder that God did not simply set this world in motion and then wander off like a senile old man in search of whatever it was he had just forgotten.

    Chosen. Holy. Dearly loved. Whatever our human parents may have been like, whatever faults and foibles they may struggled with, our heavenly Father is different. He loves us constantly, consistently, perfectly and deeply. He will never leave us nor abuse us nor forget us. He is faithful to His promises and will sustain us to the end.

    Take some time this week to try and memorize a verse:

    This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
    (1 John 4:10, NIV)

    God loves us deeply. As we face into whatever difficulties or challenges that lie ahead this week, may His Word be the rock that holds us up and helps us carry on.  

    MonMondayAprApril9th2012 The day after Easter

    The empty shells of a hundred plastic Easter eggs lie strewn across the house. Bright blues, pale pinks and sunshine yellows nest in corners and hide behind couches, empty; relieved of their candy contents by the eager hands of little children anxious to dig out the sweet treats hidden inside.

     

    Lilies sit by a window, their intoxicating perfume almost too much for a small house, the bright white of their oversized flowers just beginning to fade and the dark green leaves hanging just a little lower than they did yesterday.

     

    For most of us the day after Easter simply means back to work, back to deadlines, back to the projects we didn’t make much progress on last week. It’s possible that for many of us Easter came and went and ostensibly nothing really changed at all. If it weren’t for the few visible reminders still lying around the house we might not even remember what just happened.

     

    Thankfully God does not measure our faith by the level of emotional intensity we happen to be feeling at any given moment. Our Father is more interested in obedience over the long-haul than short-term bursts of enthusiasm. That said, we should pause for a moment today and consider once again the enormity of the events we just celebrated.

     

    As you reflect back over the last week and all that the Spirit may have been convicting and reminding you about, take some time this morning and read through Paul’s summary for the Philippians. May we kneel before Jesus today and confess Him as our King.

     

    1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

     

     5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

     

     6 Who, being in very nature God,

       did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

    7 rather, he made himself nothing

       by taking the very nature of a servant,

       being made in human likeness.

    8 And being found in appearance as a man,

       he humbled himself

       by becoming obedient to death—

          even death on a cross!

     

     9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

       and gave him the name that is above every name,

    10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

       in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

    11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

       to the glory of God the Father.

     

    (Phil. 2:1-11, NIV)


    FriFridayAprApril6th2012 Slain

    Special Holy Week Devotional - Friday, April 6, 2012

    Welcome to Holy Week. Since the format of these devotionals is a little different, please take a moment to read these brief instructions.

    First, read the Scripture passage. All five days include excerpts from the Gospel accounts of Jesus' last week before he was killed.

    Then, watch the video. Each video includes a reflection on that day's passage and is hosted by a different member of our staff (Jonathan Ziman, Kellie Kammes, Gary Dausey, Calla Parker and Brian Hogan). We strongly suggest reading the Bible passage first before watching the video, or the video may not make sense.

    Finally, underneath each video is a Psalm. God's words are more powerful and important than our words and these were chosen to be read as a form of personal reflection and prayer in response to the video devotional.We encourage you to read through these Psalms as if they were prayers,and allow yourself some time to really meditate on what God may be saying to you through them.

    May God bless you this week as you turn to Him.


    Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
    He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
    He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
    He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
    Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

    Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
    yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
    But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
    We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
    and the LORD has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

    (Isa. 53:1-7, NIV)
    Watch the Video


    Psalm 22

    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
    My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

    Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
    In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
    To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

    But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
    All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
    “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
    “let the LORD rescue him.
    Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”

    Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
    From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

    Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

    Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
    Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
    I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
    My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
    My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

    Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
    All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
    They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

    But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
    Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
    Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

    I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
    You who fear the LORD, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
    For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
    he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

    From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
    The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the LORD will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!

    All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the LORD,
    and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
    for dominion belongs to the LORD
    and he rules over the nations.

    All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
    Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
    They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

    ThuThursdayAprApril5th2012 Broken
    byCalla Parker Tagged Broken Grace Holy week Video 0 comments Add comment

    Special Holy Week Devotional - Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Welcome to Holy Week. Since the format of these devotionals is a little different, please take a moment to read these brief instructions.

    First, read the Scripture passage. All five days include excerpts from the Gospel accounts of Jesus' last week before he was killed.

    Then, watch the video. Each video includes a reflection on that day's passage and is hosted by a different member of our staff (Jonathan Ziman, Kellie Kammes, Gary Dausey, Calla Parker and Brian Hogan). We strongly suggest reading the Bible passage first before watching the video, or the video may not make sense.

    Finally, underneath each video is a Psalm. God's words are more powerful and important than our words and these were chosen to be read as a form of personal reflection and prayer in response to the video devotional.We encourage you to read through these Psalms as if they were prayers,and allow yourself some time to really meditate on what God may be saying to you through them.

    May God bless you this week as you turn to Him.


    While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
    Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
    When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
    (Matt. 26:26-29, NIV)

    Watch the Video


    Psalm 32

    Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
    Blessed is the one
    whose sin the LORD does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

    When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
    For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
    my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.

    Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
    I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the LORD.”
    And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

    Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
    surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
    You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

    I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
    Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
    but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
    Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the LORD’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

    Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

    WedWednesdayAprApril4th2012 Cleansed
    byGary Dausey Tagged Cleansed Grace Holy week Video 0 comments Add comment

    Special Holy Week Devotional - Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Welcome to Holy Week. Since the format of these devotionals is a little different, please take a moment to read these brief instructions.

    First, read the Scripture passage. All five days include excerpts from the Gospel accounts of Jesus' last week before he was killed.

    Then, watch the video. Each video includes a reflection on that day's passage and is hosted by a different member of our staff (Jonathan Ziman, Kellie Kammes, Gary Dausey, Calla Parker and Brian Hogan). We strongly suggest reading the Bible passage first before watching the video, or the video may not make sense.

    Finally, underneath each video is a Psalm. God's words are more powerful and important than our words and these were chosen to be read as a form of personal reflection and prayer in response to the video devotional.We encourage you to read through these Psalms as if they were prayers,and allow yourself some time to really meditate on what God may be saying to you through them.

    May God bless you this week as you turn to Him.


    It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
    The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
    He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
    Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
    “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
    Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
    “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
    Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
    When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
    (John 13:1-17, NIV)

    Watch the Video


    Psalm 51

    Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
    according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
    Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

    For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
    Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
    so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
    Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
    Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

    Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
    Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
    Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

    Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
    Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

    Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
    Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
    Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
    You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
    My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

    May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
    Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

    TueTuesdayAprApril3rd2012 Loved
    byKellie Kammes Tagged Grace Holy week Loved Video 0 comments Add comment

    Special Holy Week Devotional - Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Welcome to Holy Week. Since the format of these devotionals is a little different, please take a moment to read these brief instructions.

    First, read the Scripture passage. All five days include excerpts from the Gospel accounts of Jesus' last week before he was killed.

    Then, watch the video. Each video includes a reflection on that day's passage and is hosted by a different member of our staff (Jonathan Ziman, Kellie Kammes, Gary Dausey, Calla Parker and Brian Hogan). We strongly suggest reading the Bible passage first before watching the video, or the video may not make sense.

    Finally, underneath each video is a Psalm. God's words are more powerful and important than our words and these were chosen to be read as a form of personal reflection and prayer in response to the video devotional.We encourage you to read through these Psalms as if they were prayers,and allow yourself some time to really meditate on what God may be saying to you through them.

    May God bless you this week as you turn to Him.


    While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
    When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
    Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

    (Matt. 26:6-13, NIV)

    Watch the Video


    Psalm 143

    LORD, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
    in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.
    Do not bring your servant into judgment,
    for no one living is righteous before you.
    The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
    he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.
    So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.
    I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
    I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.

    Answer me quickly, LORD;
    my spirit fails.
    Do not hide your face from me
    or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
    Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
    Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
    Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
    for I hide myself in you.
    Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
    may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.

    For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life;
    in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
    In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
    destroy all my foes,
    for I am your servant.

    MonMondayAprApril2nd2012 Crushed

    Special Holy Week Devotional - Monday, April 2, 2012

    Welcome to Holy Week. Since the format of these devotionals is a little different, please take a moment to read these brief instructions.

    First, read the Scripture passage. All five days include excerpts from the Gospel accounts of Jesus' last week before he was killed.

    Then, watch the video. Each video includes a reflection on that day's passage and is hosted by a different member of our staff (Jonathan Ziman, Kellie Kammes, Gary Dausey, Calla Parker and Brian Hogan). We strongly suggest reading the Bible passage first before watching the video, or the video may not make sense.

    Finally, underneath each video is a Psalm. God's words are more powerful and important than our words and these were chosen to be read as a form of personal reflection and prayer in response to the video devotional.We encourage you to read through these Psalms as if they were prayers,and allow yourself some time to really meditate on what God may be saying to you through them.

    May God bless you this week as you turn to Him.


    Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
    Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
    “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
    Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
    (John 12:20-28, NIV)

    Watch the Video


    Psalm 6

    LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger,
    or discipline me in your wrath.
    Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint;
    heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
    My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, LORD, how long?

    Turn, LORD, and deliver me;
    save me because of your unfailing love.
    Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
    Who praises you from the grave?

    I am worn out from my groaning.

    All night long I flood my bed with weeping
    and drench my couch with tears.
    My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
    they fail because of all my foes.

    Away from me, all you who do evil,
    for the LORD has heard my weeping.
    The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
    the LORD accepts my prayer.
    All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
    they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

    @
    27W500 North Avenue, West Chicago, Illinois 60185 | 630.260.1600 | Contact