Sunday, November 24, 2013

One Follower of Christ's Jackpot!

A Christ Follower's reward

I heard our leader, our Senior Pastor Rick Thiessen say at the end of the night, " To you AC3 regulars, use this as your pay day, know that this is why you spend the long ours serving, giving your time and your creativity to God and to this church and let it fuel you until the next".

Amen! That's what baptism night is all about for the people following Christ, it's the reward of sharing our faith so that others may know Him and can find their own walk with Jesus and ultimately accept Him as the leader of their lives and forgiver of their sins. This is the culmination of our work in the community, changing lives for eternity through the power of Jesus Christ.

This night was more than that for me, much more... 

It all started earlier this week, I knew my Mom was going to be attending the baptism class to learn what baptism means according to the bible and according to AC3's leadership. In typical Rick Thiessen fashion, he had the wheels turning in my Mom's head when she left the meeting. She knew her heart had been changed by the Holy Spirit, she knew that she'd accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, but her thoughts went to how to tell the story of how God had touched her life and how she came to know Him.

Mom's Testimony 


I certainly wasn't prepared for the story that she would tell, Mom's a bit of a crier and knew she'd struggle with reading it in front of the crowd on the night of the baptism so she wrote it down for Rick to read.

There were four main points, the first, that my Grandma decided to break from the baptist church that she'd grown up in and let my Mom decide for herself about her religion, looking back, she was incredibly grateful for this as it was all part of God's plan to reveal Himself in her life. 

The second and third were holding the hands of two of her favorite people as they took their last breaths on earth and joined Jesus in heaven. My great-aunt passed on a few years back and my Grandma just this past February. These two ladies were the kindest, gentlest most loving people you will ever meet and both of them knew that they were headed to a room that the Good Lord had prepared for them. There is no doubt about the profound affect that these two women's faith had on my Mom, she was next to my Grandma for her entire fight with cancer and eventually watched it consume her best friend. One of the toughest people she'd ever met became as frail as could be and her faith in God never wavered.

Completely Breathtaking


The fourth, well the fourth was me. She said that in the past few years she'd watched me completely transform. The fact that I could even be mentioned in this testimony with two women whom my Mom loved dearly and witnessed them passing on to their eternal life is still blowing my mind as I write this.

She said that she'd watched me become a "true believer" and that the peace I'd found in my life was the final piece she was looking for from God to accept Jesus in to her heart for all eternity. My mind is seriously blown by this, all I've done is try to follow God's word. Try to be the best man I can for my family, my community and try every day to be full of faith that God loves us and sent His Son to save us. I'm certainly not perfect, my walk has had it's ups and downs like any other, sometimes more ups and downs.

Mom honored me in such a way that is unfathomable to my former self. She asked that I be the one that baptize her, that I get in the tub with her and not only witness her public declaration of faith, but to be right there with her through the beautiful display. I was infinitely blessed to do so.

There were 11 baptisms tonight, all are special, I love every one of God's children that proclaimed their obedience to Jesus today, but this one will stick with me for all eternity. The energy in the AC3 building was unlike any I'd ever felt, the music, Dan's sermon, all of it had amazing energy. The Holy Spirit was as strong as I've ever felt it at our church. Thank you for this night Jesus.

God's lesson in all of this for me...

Whether it's your Mom, a coworker, a friend, possibly a foe or just a passer by, how they see you living matters and it matters greatly. Be the light on the hill that Jesus called us to be, be the salt in the community and in our culture that desperately needs it. You never know who is watching and you just may be the reason that someone's eternal life is saved. Don't underestimate the power of just living the way God intended you to in a community that needs you.....

This wasn't your average Christian pay day, this Christian hit the Jackpot tonight!!

Thank you so much to my church family for being there to share it!

Friday, November 22, 2013

AC3 Men's Getaway - What Does Love Require of Me?

What Does Love Require of Me?

In years past, I would have thought that 18 men headed for a lodge up in the mountains would need to start with a common activity, fishing, hunting, skiing, snowmobiling, partying or maybe a mix of those in some form. The mere thought of this getaway, the fact that all of these men are here to just get to know each other better, to get to know God better and to just take a refreshing break from every day life was unfathomable for the first 30 years of my life. Maybe just weird, yeah, I definitely would have thought it was just weird.

I went anyways....

Maybe it is weird, maybe we are weird, with all of the things in today’s world that are genuinely strange and often harmful to humanity, I’m ok with this kind of weird. I’m now firm in the belief that it’s this kind of weird that today’s world lacks, desperately. The kind of weird that allows us to be different, to stand out in the crowd like the light on top of the hill that Jesus called us to be. Not the look at me, look what I’m doing and crying out for attention standing out but the kind of weird that allows time for men to grow in to the leaders that our generation is looking for, the kind of leaders God intended us to be.

18 of God's Men, AC3 Men's Getaway 2013


The Selah lodge is owned by a friend of AC3, we are blessed that he opens the doors of this wonderful place to us for this men’s getaway. It’s meant to be a house where The Lord is present, Selah is used in the book of Psalms 71 times, it’s closest translation is “pause, and look at that”, or it’s referenced as a musical interlude/pause within a psalm. To me, it’s a sacred place to pause and be with God and to be with the men that God has put in my life.

Our opening prayer is to take in the name, Selah, to use this time as a pause, to take in God’s rejuvinating power and let it fuel us to lead our families better as well as our community. To me this hit as soon as I parked the truck, I don’t know about you but everyday life can at times beat me down, mentally and physically. Recharging my battery and my passion for discerning God’s will in my life are vital in my Christian walk, a large gasp of the fresh mountain air when I stepped out of the truck was all it took for me to find the peace within the weekend, before it really began.

A safe place...       

The theme of the weekend, was based on The Book of Matthew 22:37-40.

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The question proposed by our elders/teachers in attendance for the weekend was “what does love require of me?” This struck me, the entire weekend hung on this question, in fact, when you read the words of Jesus, our entire walk as disciples of Christ hangs on this question.

Clay’s story....

Well you see, for me, I’ve had a problem in the past with letting society’s cliche’s get in the way of me actually knowing someone. Before the trip had even started, we were all gathering in the parking lot looking to take off and I see this rough, tough looking dude, tattoo on his neck with the look of a man who’d been to hell and back on this earth. I remember thinking, “oh great, I have to spend the whole weekend with this guy”. That thought was real, it is how my mind has operated for many years, possibly my entire life. Clearly I’ve been distancing myself from some meaningful relationships due to preconceived notions that somehow I was better than this person, or in some cases, this person was better than me.

As is God’s way of teaching, Clay rode in my car on the way over and I was instantly drawn to him. Clearly God was at work in his heart and clearly he was here with us to make himself a better servant of God. As our teaching session was coming to a close the next morning, Clay told us his life story leading up to that day. I must say, some tears were shed by all. For a man to overcome as much violence and addiction as Clay had, to find redeeming power in the grace of God is absolutely nothing short of a miracle. A man that had been through more than 15 years of what would have and has killed most people whose path had crossed drugs, anger, violence and prison to be here today in the presence of God at Selah lodge, clearly God has more plans for this man. I pray that he never loses sight of the fact that God has placed him exactly where he is today to make an impact on this world, and to be a light within it.

How it hit me...

When the group separated for some free time after Clay poured his heart out to us, I wanted to grab my computer and find a quiet place to write. My instant thoughts went to the question, “what does love require of me?” and how does this pertain to Clay?

I had barely written two sentences when the door popped open and in walked Clay. He sat down on the floor below the bunk bed that I was on the top of and grabbed his iPad, seemingly to settle in for a bit like I was. We talked for more than 2 hours, I won’t divulge in to what the conversation was all about, but I will tell you that I love that man as Jesus does and as I’m called to by our Lord and Savior. The notion that there was a time in my life that I would have never known a story like Clay’s, that I would have never been around to be a friend, a brother in Christ if he needed me and had thoughts of sinking in to his old life genuinely frightens me to my core. I’m so thankful that I decided to be in that place, with those men that weekend with an open heart, God poured in his love and I’ll never judge a book by it’s cover again.

My advice...

As with most thing’s God sees as good, you have to leave the easy road behind. Think outside the box, get weird and get involved with people who will make you a better servant of God. Take a chance and go on a retreat, getaway or just call somebody and find a group that will help you grow, it’s the lone sheep that get’s slaughtered by the enemy.