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8010 West 62nd Avenue
Arvada
USA

303-422-5412

Arvada Christian Church's website is a place to connect to the people and ministries of ACC--where we're becoming more like Jesus. ACC believes you matter. You matter to God and to us.

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Devotions

Daily devotional thoughts to bolster your faith.

Who's in the Driver's Seat?

Joe Bertone

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Who’s in the Driver's Seat?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

What Jesus is asking from us is to live our lives in submission to him. To be Jesus’ disciple we have to let him into the driver’s seat of our lives. In a recent sermon, Bible teacher and preacher John Ortberg, compared submission to Jesus to driving a car. He said, “When it was time to take our first child home from the hospital, we put her in the car seat in the back of the car, and then I got in the front seat to drive. She was so small even the baby seat was way too big. She looked so fragile to me that I drove home on the freeway going 35 miles per hour with the hazard lights flashing the whole time.

“That first day, when your kid is in the car with you, is a scary day. Does anybody want to know what the next really scary day is with your kid in the car? It's when they turn 16, and now you're handing over the keys. Now they're moving from the passenger seat, from the ride-along seat, into the driver's seat. That's a scary moment.

“It is a big moment in your life when you hand someone else the keys. Up until now, I've been driving. I choose the destination. I choose the route. I choose the speed. You're in the drive-along seat. But if we are to change seats, if you're going to drive, I have to trust you. It's all about control. Whoever is in the driver’s seat is the person in control.

“A lot of people find Jesus handy to have in the car as long as he's in the ride-along seat, because something may come up where they require his services. Jesus, I have a health problem, and I need some help…. I want you in the car, but I'm not so sure I want you driving. If Jesus is driving, I'm not in charge of my life anymore. If he's driving, I'm not in charge of my wallet anymore. If I put him in control then it's no longer a matter of giving some money now and then when I'm feeling generous or when more of it is coming into my life. Now, it's his wallet. It's scary. If Jesus is driving, I'm not in charge of my ego anymore. I no longer have the right to satisfy every self-centered ambition. No, it's his agenda. It's his life. Now, I'm not in charge of my mouth anymore. I don't get to gossip, flatter, cajole, deceive, rage, intimidate, manipulate, exaggerate. I get out of the driver's seat and hand the keys over to him. I'm fully engaged. In fact, I'm more alive than I've ever been before, but it's not my life anymore. It's his life.” [John Ortberg, "True Freedom," sermon.]

My life is now his life. That’s what Jesus means when he says for us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. What he’s saying is that our lives are no longer ours. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” But the irony of the passage is this: to live I must die; to save my life, I must loose it; to give myself what I really need I must deny myself. That is the counter-intuitive nature of following Jesus. It feels scary to do until I realize that only Jesus knows exactly where I are going and the sure way to get there is to let him drive.

Prayer: Father God, take the keys and be in control. I trust you and know that you have a plan for me that is meant for my best. Help me to live my life in submission to your Son, Jesus. Where he leads me I shall follow for I know he will lead me to you. In Jesus name, amen.

Soaring Through the Power of the Holy Spirit…

Joe Bertone

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Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” What Paul is saying is that the Holy Spirit is not just the source of our new life he is also means for living that new life. What does it mean to, “keep in step with the Spirit?”

I think we see an illustration of what it means in a book written by Kenneth Boa, Life In The Presence of God. In it he compares a soaring eagle to Christians learning to soar through the power of the Holy Spirit:

God seems to like eagles. Thirty-three Bible verses mention them! Eagles are true flying birds, meaning they get off the ground by flapping, but they soar by thermals. Eagles begin flight training around four months old. But even before that, at about two months, they stand up in the nest and spread their wings when they feel gusts of wind. They're training to know the thermals! Thermals are the columns of air formed as heat rises from the ground. Because heat rises, these air columns push up and up, displacing the cold air around them. By staying in the warmth of the thermal, the birds continue to soar. Eagles become experts in this.

In this magnificent aerodynamic action, gravity isn't deactivated—it's still at work—but the higher principle overcomes gravity. Eagles drop down when they step off a branch. Then, they start flapping like crazy. Once they're in the air, though, their wings don't have to work very hard, and while soaring, they use a small fraction of the effort required to rise. They're almost at rest and can just enjoy the pleasure of flight.

When we first begin following Christ (or practicing a spiritual discipline) we're like eagles spreading our wings. Once we start flapping, though, we lift up. Maybe after a few tries we're back down on the ground. But through repeated practice, we finally soar. Also, in Greek, the Holy Spirit is called pnuema, which means "current of air." Think about what this means for us! We flap and flap, but eventually we catch the current of air, and we soar. This is how the Holy Spirit works with our training. He's not only our coach; he's the power behind everything we do. [Kenneth Boa, Life in the Presence of God (InterVarsity Press 2017), pages 129-130]

Today you could not just fly but soar. It is not accomplished by your power but sensing the Holy Spirit within and walking according to his promptings. When you live like this your life is elevated to something higher. Isn’t it time to soar? Keep in step with the Spirit.

Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your helper, the Holy Spirit. Help us to live according to his promptings and leadings. Help us to learn how to soar by being tuned to your Spirit. Thank you for your power which enables us to soar. Let us soar today. In Jesus name, amen.

Wont you be my neighbor?

Joe Bertone

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Devotion: Wont you be my neighbor?

Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””

Although he died February 2003, some fifteen years later, the passion and love for Fred Rogers among those who watched his television show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” has not waned at all. In January (2018) the news that Tom Hanks will be portraying Fred Rogers in a coming biopic was met with frenzied glee. Americans also seem to love sharing myths about Fred Rogers, the friendly neighbor known the world over as Mister Rogers. Consider the one about how he wore cardigans to cover up his tattoos (false). Or the one that he was an ordained Presbyterian minister. That one is true—he graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1963—and it's far more foundational to Rogers's legacy than you might think. Rogers was a man defined by his Christian faith, and the message that he taught every day on his beloved children's show was shaped by it.

Rogers said over and over again: "You've made this day a special day by just your being you. There is no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are."

"I think everybody longs to be loved, and longs to know that he or she is lovable," he said in the 2003 documentary "America's Favorite Neighbor." Rogers echoed the sentiment of the biblical passage 1 John 4:10, "This is love: Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." The focus is not just how important it is that you're loved, but also how vital it is to be loving. 

That legacy, of loving your neighbor, is exactly why Fred Roger’s impact is so huge even to this day. It may seem so simple and yet it is so radical that it left an indelible mark upon those who watched his show. We sensed the generosity and love when Mr Rogers asked, “Wont you be my neighbor?”

Rogers said in a 2001 commencement address at Middlebury College: "When we look for what's best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we're doing what God does; so in appreciating our neighbor, we're participating in something truly sacred."

It may sound old-fashioned, but Mister Rogers's theology was radical in 1962 when his show debuted, and it remains radical today. That's why it resonated. That's why it's still necessary. 

Let Mr Rogers legacy live on through us who love God enough to love our neighbor as ourselves. Wont you be my neighbor?

Prayer: Father God, we thank You for the love You first gave us through Jesus Your Son. Help us to share that love with those You have put in our lives. May our neighbors know we belong to You because of the love we give them. In Jesus name, amen.

How to be a successful failure...

Joe Bertone

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Devotion: How to be a successful failure…

As anyone who has ever tried to learn something difficult knows, failure is unavoidable. Failure is part of everyone’s life. What is true for our physical life is also true for our spiritual life. We needn’t be troubled by this. There is a way to be a successful failure. 

Former figure skater Scott Hamilton won the National and World Championships in 1981 before winning a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. Hamilton and his wife Tracie have four children, including two children adopted form Haiti. He's also a committed follower of Christ. While he was pursuing his success as a skater, he once said he dropped out of church involvement and started what he jokingly called "The Church of Scott." But through the love of his wife and other Christians, he came to a sincere faith in Christ.

Rooted in his faith, Hamilton had an interesting take on dealing with personal sin and failure. In a 2018 New York Times interview Hamilton said: "I calculated once how many times I fell during my skating career—41,600 times. But here's the funny thing: I got up 41,600 times. That's the muscle you have to build in your psyche—the one that reminds you to just get up.” [Juliet Macur, "Scott Hamilton Was Demoted as an Olympic Broadcaster. Don't Feel Sorry for Him." The New York Times (2-18-18)]

The key to being a successful failure is simple—get back up again. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” The difference between the righteous and the wicked is that when the righteous fall they get back up again.

We all will fail God. Paul tells us in Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and don’t we know it’s true. God knows too, and so He gives us His grace. It’s not a license to sin, but the freedom to learn how to do a difficult thing—to walk like Jesus. And when we fall and when we fail, God promises us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.“ (1 John 1:9)

So, what do we do when we fail? We confess our failure to God who will forgive and who will cleanse us. Then we get back up again. That is how to be a successful failure.

Prayer: Holy Father, we confess to You that we are sinners and have failed you. We thank you for grace which allows us the space to learn how to walk like Jesus. Help us back up again today so that we may continue to follow You. May You receive the glory and praise in Jesus name, amen.

Christmas 2017: Week Two: Girl Interrupted

Joe Bertone

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Luke 1:26-33: "In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Learning to ski is an exhausting task. Beginners fall endlessly, and after just a few hours of trying to stay upright, they find themselves beyond tired. 

Beginners are often told to use a tow rope to get up the bunny hill. The tow rope is a cruel joke. It’s meant to pull beginners up the hill with ease, to help them avoid getting on and off the chair lift (another daunting task). But instead, the tow rope can be a source of even greater exhaustion and embarrassment. As you grab onto the rope, all you need to do is face forward and let the rope pull you up the hill. Seems like a fine idea—until you hit a bump or a groove and lose your balance. 

Skiers on the tow rope bobble and waver; they try desperately to stay upright and then, eventually, they fall. Determined, they often refuse to let go. Arms outstretched, skis dragging behind, they hang on. Their gloves might rip, their skis might pop off. Onlookers often holler, “Just let go! Just let go!” With great fear in their eyes, they look over at the line of people watching them and they just hang on. Their faces collecting snow like a plow, they keep at it. It’s rare to see the tenacity and commitment to a cause that you see on a beginner slope on a ski hill. 

This is what’s it’s like with Mary. She’s a girl interrupted. God steps into her story and transforms what would have been an ordinary life with the extraordinary. This can be true for us. God steps into our lives from time to time with a divine interruption. That is because God has a purpose for our lives that rarely matches our own. When God interrupts us, when we find the purpose we have been called to chase after, we hang on like a beginner skier being towed up the bunny hill. We face the fear, the culture, the onlookers, the naysayers, and we hang tight. Annie Dillard once wrote, “I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you.” 

This is what it means to let God interrupt our lives. Like Mary’s story, it means we will have to commit to the cause, to hang onto the rope of faith regardless of how it pulls and drags us. God asks us to grasp his true purpose for us and hold tight. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

Prayer: Father we thank You that You have a plan for our lives beyond the norm. That you interrupt our lives with Your purpose and plans. Help us to hold on. Help us to never let go. In Jesus name, amen.