Monday, December 22, 2014

Compassion, Action and Boldness; Even When It's Scary

Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of being part of and watching bold compassion in action around AC3 and I have been changed.
  • When you see a body of believers embrace a 'No One Fights Alone' attitude and actively join a family's battle against cancer, you are reminded that life on this earth is short. I will live life fully with eternity in mind.
  • When you witness Seeds of Grace volunteers choosing to walk beside those on the fringe of society and offering them real friendship, you are reminded that 'things' are 'just things'. I will live life on purpose and in relationship with those that God brings into my life.
  • When you watch a group of bikers provide an atmosphere of recovery and recreation for those fighting drug addictions with opportunities to 'give back' to their community, you experience hope (SOG was the recipient of their food and toy drives this holiday season). I will live life with hope, knowing that everyone can 'be changed' and 'make change' in the lives of others.
  • When you watch a group of preschoolers participate in compassion by creating homeless bags to give someone in need or on a street corner this holiday season, it becomes clear that everyone is called to serve. I will live life serving others, doing my best to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
This blog post was inspired by a recent yet very simple Facebook post by my daughter-in-law Amanda below. It reflects a simple compassion story of handing out their SOG homeless bag to someone with my first grandson Jonah, five years old.
"Finally got to give our Seeds of Grace bag that Jonah put together in preschool to someone in need. Jonah was scared at first but I took the opportunity to explain to him that helping people is not always easy. It's easier to just keep walking. We gave the man our bag of goodies, said Merry Christmas and it was done. Then Jonah started asking questions on the ride home about where that man slept, etc.

Another opportunity to talk about how Jesus calls us to help others and about being grateful. Then it turned to talking about the best, final home we have to look forward to (heaven) and what we are called to do here on earth until we are called home. Love God, Love each other and Love the lost. 

Amazing moment with Jonah... I could see the wheels turning in his head. I pray he has a heart of compassion that leads to action and boldness to do God's will even when it's scary." - A :)
 A few Facebook comments: 

"Ever since the day they made them and we gave it away the same day, we've been finding more and more opportunities to help people out, even if it's just a bottle of water! I LOVE what God is doing in MY heart by giving me a kid to raise I'm so excited for you to have had such a deep conversation!! SUPER cool!"

"Way to go!! Proud of you guys. Love that you told him "it's not always easy."

"♡♡♡♡♡"

"Great teaching moment!"  

"I love witnessing God doing work!"

"Beautiful! Thanx for SHARING with us the opportunity you took to be Jesus to someone...and to teach Jonah what that looks like! Merry Christmas!

As we head into the new year, let us not forget that compassion is not always easy but it is to be a very real part of every Christ followers lives. Let's live out compassion with action and boldness with fresh awareness, even when it's scary!

Twila

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Hineni"



The Bible teaches, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.

I’m increasingly reminded of this as I look at our world, from the micro to the macro, from global, to local:

-In Ferguson Missouri the fact that African Americans are routinely mistreated because of their skin color is justification for robbery and assault; evil is called good.

-In New York the fact that police officers routinely face life threatening situations in the course of their work is justification for police brutality, even homicide; evil is called good.

-Bombs are dropped in Syria and Iraq (again) in the name of “Hope”; Evil is called good.

-Men are tortured in the name of “Security”; Evil is called good.

-Marriages are torn apart in the name of “Happiness;. Evil is called good.

-A child murders 4 other children and severely wounds a 5th but he is a “victim”; Evil is called good.

At this point, let me state, without qualification, that I do not believe a person is defined by any one act they commit, whether good or evil. Yet “persons” commit evil acts all the time, and these acts are sourced within that person.

Richard Rohr said,
Watch your thoughts, they become words
Watch your words, they become actions
Watch your actions, they become habits
Watch your habits, they become your character
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny

I believe there are two primary reasons we feel compelled to “call evil good”.

First, we are being altogether robbed of the category “Evil” by an increasingly subjective culture. In a world where the highest value is “tolerance” and truth is relative, declaring any act evil will inevitably result in someone feeling that their “truth” is being attacked and the critic will be instantly labeled “hater”, “bigot” or worse. Just review the list above and then:

“Pick a side, people: Do you hate Black People or do you hate the Police?”

Those are your options.

If, like me, you reject being forced into one of those two categories, then you must consider the idea that a category called “Evil” should be re-established, and violent criminals as well as brutal police officers should be placed in it. 

Having “evil” removed as a category is like being asked to carry 50 gallons of water…but without a bucket. There’s just no place to put it.

The second reason is that we confuse “Fault” and “Responsibility”.

Jesus told the story of a man who was mugged and left for dead. 2 prominent citizens came upon the wounded man, but did nothing. A third man, an outsider, stopped and did everything he could to see to the man’s needs.

The story does not explicitly reveal the motives of any of the 3 men. There are some hints, but we are left to fill in the blanks.

Among other more subtle motives, I believe the core motive for the first 2 men ignoring their neighbor is they did not believe they were “responsible”.

“I did not mug this man. “It’s not my responsibility.”

Wrong.

What they should have thought is: “This is not my fault. But I am now responsible.”

None of the three men had committed the evil act. It wasn’t their fault. But when they came upon the results of evil – it became their responsibility to act.

No – it’s not your fault that the planet’s climate is changing. But it is your responsibility to stop driving that gas-hog SUV, start living within your means and maybe grow some of your own food.

No - It’s not your fault that women are routinely subjected to all kinds of sexual assault, but it is your responsibility to hold yourself, your neighbors and your community accountable to fight against it.

No – it’s not your fault that the cafeteria at Marysville Pilchuck High School is no longer suitable for use after the murders which occurred there. But it is the responsibility of the tax-payers in this school district to pay for having it changed…

It’s the responsibility of the teachers and counselors to guide traumatized students through the aftermath...

It’s the responsibility of parents to keep their kids safe…

It’s the responsibility of everyone to ask, “how did we get here as a society?”…

It’s the responsibility of other school districts around the world to re-evaluate their policies, of law-makers to examine legislation…

It’s the responsibility of the victims parents to find a new way of living that does not include their children anymore…

None of these people asked for these responsibilities.

Nobody wanted them.

These responsibilities were forced upon us because of one evil act.
Forced upon us by the will of one person, and one person alone.

We need to be reminded that when we call that act evil, we are not holding at fault the parents, the Tribe, “society”, “culture” or the “system”.

Yes – each is now responsible to bear a part of the load. We can’t just pass by it because it’s not our fault.

Please pray for the parents of the child who did this, who, apart from the parents of the victims, have a responsibility to bear for a lifetime that is un-imaginable. But in extending them compassion; in avoiding laying fault at their feet, let us not call evil good.

In the Hebrew language, there is a single word which literally means “Here I am”. Scholars agree that while this translation is accurate, it does not contain all the nuances of the word; nuances like, “Here I am…I’m listening.” or “Yes, I’m here and I’m ready.” And I would venture to say “Here I am. I will be responsible for whatever comes next.”

This single word was Abram’s response to God when he called.

This single word was Moses’ response, and Elijah’s when God called to them as well.

“Yes, Lord? I’m here. I’m listening, and I’m ready to carry out your will. Whatever waits around the corner, whether great beauty, or great evil, I will be responsible to respond to it as you direct.”

Hineni. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

AC3 VB *Special* Farmers Market


Enjoy this VB special as Dan talks to Jared (Our PR Director for the Marysville Farmers Market) about why a Farmers Market here in Marysville is needed.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Creek Espresso: This is Where I Belong

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,

faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms."
1 Peter 4:10


Hello AC3! My Name is Stephanie Moddison. For those of you who don't know me, I'm the manager of Creek Espresso, the coffee bar in our lobby. 

My husband, Nate and I. 
I started coming to AC3 back in January 2013. We were just “checking out churches,” and AC3 happened to be the first one on the list. After a month of coming to weekend services, we were hooked. It felt right. It felt like this was the church for us. A church where we felt welcomed, regardless of our story.

Only a few months later, we started getting the urge to serve. But where? I was a very pregnant full time Café Manager and District Trainer at Barnes & Noble (with a horrendous commute). How would I possibly have time to serve? I’m too busy. I’m too tired. Maybe after I have the baby. I was full of excuses.

Fast forward to October 2013.

My husband started serving at AC3 by drumming once a month with the worship team. It made him so happy to be using his talents to serve the Lord and our church community.

I started asking myself, where do I belong?

After the New Year, we were so upset to find out that the C-Bar had closed. We reached out to find out what happened and if the lobby coffee bar would still be open. After finding out that the lobby coffee bar needed help, God was tapping me on the shoulder. This is where you’re gifted. This is where you can serve.

Is this where I belong?

I went to my first BAM (Business as Mission) meeting in February, and felt my calling. The lobby coffee bar needed help, and needed the gifts I have received to serve others. But I was hesitant. Even though I had recently become a stay at home mom, I still questioned the time commitment. I have an 8 month old. How would I possibly have time to serve AND sleep?

So I prayed.


I helped out with training and inventory for a few months while Jared handled the financial side of things. I wasn't “all in,” but I felt that I was serving just enough for what our family could handle at the time.

I kept praying. 

Please Lord; show me the path you want me to follow, I feel connected to this church. Connected to this coffee bar. I want to help. I want to belong to something meaningful. I want to serve YOU!
So He led me.

Things got easier. Systems were put in place. We made lots of changes to make the coffee bar more profitable for our Community Center. I was ready to be “all in!”

I took over full operations of the newly named Creek Espresso in September after feeling God answering my prayers. God is so good. The story of this transition is truly wonderful.

This is where I belong, Creek Espresso is my way of administering God’s grace.


Every week I look forward to what we can do to make Creek Espresso more successful. Every week I look forward to working with our amazing volunteers, who bring so much joy to this endeavor. And every week I thank God for His guidance and motivation to get me to where I am now.

So I will ask… where do you belong? Are you feeling the call to serve? Listen to that call, because the gifts you have received CAN make a difference. The gifts you have received have been given to you for a reason.

How can you administer God’s grace?


Creek Espresso is located in the lobby at Allen Creek Community Church.
Hours of operation:
Saturday 5:30pm-8pm (closed during service) & Sunday 8:30am-12pm.
We are always accepting new volunteers. If you're interested, stop by when we are open or email smoddison@gmail.com.

Make sure you "LIKE" Creek Espresso on Facebook for news and specials!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

AC3 VB46 Roof Top



This weeks video blog #46 comes to you from the top of our building. I'm not to fond of ladders but Rick and Dan knocked this VB out of the park so it was worth it. Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

AC3 VB44 Cooking with Dan & Rick!



LOOK OUT! Locally filmed, middle of the night, played on a local cable network cooking shows, way way down the list of popularity, (take a breath) here comes Cooking with Dan & Rick! Enjoy :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

AC3 VB *Special* #PrayForMP



There are many opportunities in our community this week to help you grieve with the tragedy that happened last Friday. Watch this VB for more details.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

AC3 VB *Special* Morning Prayer



A special video blog courtesy of Pastor Dan Hazen, from the roof of our building, in the wake of the tragedy at MPHS yesterday morning. God Bless.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Precious Moments; Kids and Communion

Legacy...


As you may have noticed, and or been a part of, our children at AC3 have been more involved in our weekly church services. Our leadership's vision is for our kids to know what's happening inside our church, get a sense of what we do, why we're doing it and to be involved themselves. This is all in hope that each child will have their own moments where God is touching their hearts and they can look back upon these moments as they grow. 

If you missed this, please check out the AC3 Video Blog, Rick and Dan's take on worshiping with our "short people" around AC3.

For me, I look back at moments when God was reaching in to my life and I didn't have the tools to know what was happening. I made poor decisions and never followed where The Holy Spirit was leading me, I had no clue what that even meant. It's a passion of mine to help my kids and the youth here at AC3 to know that the tools to decipher these interactions are at their disposal. 


Little Ones at Services


Ok so I have to get this public service announcement from the father of two little rambunctious boys off of my chest. Those of us at church who have little guys, we know that they're a distraction, that they're noisy and trust me when I tell you that we know all about anxious feelings that come with the thought of somehow letting our little guys get in the way of someone's moment with God.

I'm certain these distractions will settle as the kids get more and more used to being in there with us. So please try to look at the beauty in sharing these moments with the whole family and know that we're working diligently to get the little ones worshiping with us and limiting distractions.


Communion for my family


Bet (my wife) and I have two little boys, both very different, both incredibly awesome. Our oldest, Liam is 4 and he's already a more spiritual being than I was at age 30. For example, he prays when he "has bad words in his head" for Jesus to take them out of there for him. That's just how Liam rolls. 

Needless to say, Liam loved our first all family communion this past month where the kids walked to the back of the auditorium and met elders there to help them learn about communion as they had juice and a snack. He soaked it up and talked all about how Jesus gave us snacks to symbolize his broken body. He's creating moments that he may remember for the rest of his life, right now. It's incredible to be a part of God reaching his heart at such a young age and I'm looking forward to many more of these amazing moments.


Mixed Communion This Weekend!!


So, our leaders have decided we'll do communion in a variety of different ways for the little ones to determine which is best. This weekend, they'll get a "Remember IT" snack pack when they walk in the room equipped with a small booklet for their parents to go through with them, you can download that HERE if you'd like to check it out before arriving at church. 

For more information about this weekend's communion, click HERE.


Hope to see you this weekend!! 


-Jared Galde



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

AC3 VB42 *Special* Set Up & Take Down



This weeks video blog is going to take you behind the scenes of the set up and take down for each weeks video blog. Watch here and enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AC3 VB41 The Church Lady



You won't want to miss this weeks video blog as we have a special guest, the Church Lady. Rick will interview her about our upcoming topic, Hell, at church during The Paranormal Musical: Crossing Over. I hope you all enjoy as much as I did filming and editing this weeks video blog :) -Nate

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Only Bad People Go To Heaven

Depiction of the Scene from
"The Great Divorce" by CS Lewis
I received a question this week about hell, which is very timely since we'll be talking about hell at AC3 this month in our Crossing Over series.  The question was basically this:  "My brother is offended by the very idea of hell and wants to know why I think he's going and I'm not.  It made me uncomfortable that I didn't know how to answer."

It's a good question and made me think hard about how we approach this topic in candid conversations with outsiders to faith (and you can read my whole response here):

This can obviously be very touchy.  But actually, it’s best that the topic turns personal - not by getting into the eternal destiny of your friend, but by talking about you.   For every Christian who takes Jesus seriously, should be clear about one thing: you are qualified for hell. Start there.  Before you judge another, you can judge you.  And you know you; you know your heart; you know your posture towards a holy God, and without anyone trying to make you feel bad, you know in your quiet heart, you’re among the people whose pride and depravity separate you from God.  That's the default position of everyone.

See, in such conversations, you should try to fix the misconception that hell is somehow the destiny for the especially bad people. And that somehow Christians are the special “good” people that God loves because of their goodness; that they’re his favorites (due to their politics more than their actual moral performance), and the rest of humanity are especially bad. This is understandably offensive to moral living unbelievers – which is most of them. They KNOW they are morally better than many others, including many Christians, whose sins and hypocrisies they take great pleasure in pointing out.

Well, no well-instructed Christian believes this myth that only the good people go to heaven. So, when you do finally get into why you might believe someone outside of Christ will not experience life in the hereafter, but those who trust in him will, you must point out that the Christian position is near OPPOSITE of that “good people” myth. The true Christian position is something closer to – only the bad people go to heaven.

Saying that will get the hell-skeptic's attention. Of course you’ll need to explain, but it’s not hard.

First of all, to explode the "good person" myth, ask:  if only the good people go to heaven, who are they? What’s the standard? No one could ever agree to one. Maybe God grades on some kind of curve, but then, who sets the curve? How much good, is good enough? No one could know and thus the whole “good person” theory leads to a lifetime of insecurity, prideful comparisons, doubt, fear and not measuring up.  Which summarizes the religion and spiritual life of millions of people.  This problem is precisely what Christianity comes to solve.

Now, if a person says, well, “good enough” is simply living up to your own moral code, being true to yourself – then my challenge would be to ask whether anyone passes even that radically reduced bar of moral performance. I don’t. I believe things, and want things and intend to do things that I don’t do – every day.

Finally, a lot of non-Christians pride themselves in thinking the Sermon on the Mount is their guiding code.  Three words in response to that are: “don’t go there!” Why not? Well, simply because the Sermon on the Mount, for all it’s wonderful, lofty teachings, essentially puts the achievement of true goodness out of the reach of EVERYONE. Jesus spiritualizes the law in that famous sermon. He tells us that adultery is more than not sleeping the wrong bed, it’s a heart thing too. He tells us that heart murder (a simple curse!) puts a person in danger of hell!  (Matt 5:22)

And if that’s the case, then EVERYONE is in danger of hell, because the standard of "good enough" is impossibly high. In fact, Jesus says in that sermon, “be perfect.”  Well, that rules me out.

Therefore, good people don’t go to heaven, because according to Jesus, no one is good. That is, not “good enough.” Yet, despite Jesus revealing the depth of our predicament of condemnation, the same Jesus comes to rescue us from it. He later says, “I have not come for the well, but for the sick.” (Matt 9:12) He says that in response to some very high moral performers looking down on the sad company of losers and sinners he was hanging with.

Jesus is clear, you don’t get the Kingdom by being good enough. Bar’s too high. No one crosses. All fall short.  Now you might have a friend who thinks their moral performance outshines Gandhi and Mother Teresa. It might serve at that point in the conversation to point out that people like Teresa and Gandhi were both convinced they were not "good enough".


Gandhi
(Gandhi for example – whom we think couldn't possibly be lost – was tormented by the things he saw inside his heart. He wrote in his autobiography: "It is a constant torture to me that I am still so far from Him whom I know to be my very life and being. I know it is my own wretchedness and wickedness that keeps me from Him.")

I've asked a Jesus loving, hell disbelieving friend this question before:  "Jesus said he did not come for the well, but for the sick.  Are you well or sick?"   He had no answer.  And I could see the wheels spinning:  If he says he's sick, he affirms that there is such a thing as sin and God rightly stands in judgment on it, a place like hell is a just consequence of it.  If he says he's “well” then he's admitted that the Jesus he thinks he loves has basically said to him, “I haven’t come for you.”

Who did he come for?  The sick. Which is to say, those who KNOW they are sick. All are sick, but until they become convinced of it, a person will find Jesus gracious offer to be offensive.  Yet once a person becomes convinced of their badness, their sinfulness, their fallenness and their candidacy for hell, they get humble, and desperate, and they spy in Jesus a way to be “good enough” that isn't about them, but rather about his amazing mercy.

So it’s in THAT sense that only the bad people go to heaven. Meaning, only the the people who see they are truly bad, far from God, and rebellious against God’s goodness, can have a moment where they put themselves at the mercy of Dr Jesus to heal their soul sickness. If you think you’re good enough, you will never abase yourself like that.  People who are convinced of their own goodness are not likely to see their need, therefore, won’t turn to Jesus for grace and forgiveness. Only those convinced of their badness will so turn, and thus only the “bad people” go to heaven. Which is to say, the forgiven people.

So to get back to our skeptic's question:  why would I go to heaven and he would not?  Not because I'm better than him. More likely because I am worse! Because I know I am not good enough and could never be. I leave open that my friend theoretically might be "well", and it might take bullets out of his indignation gun.  But I know I could never be, thus I turned to Christ.

In your view then, IF your beloved friend would go to hell, it might have to do with him being a better person, someone self sufficient enough to reject any help along the way, and maybe because of that pride, turn a blind eye to dark heart places that show the truth: his heart is deceptive and selfish and greedy. A person who goes to their grave not seeing that, will stiff arm God’s grace by refusing the humility that the Christian gospel requires to receive it. And that person is “on their own” on judgment day.  You simply believe that moment will not go well for anyone who doesn't get their passing grade somehow other than their own spotless moral performance.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AC3 VB39 Crossing Over - The Paranormal Musical



We have a new series starting this weekend "Crossing Over - The Paranormal Musical" that you will not want to miss! Rick and Dan talk about our new series that will cover; Ghosts, Angels/Demons, Hell & Heaven in this weeks video blog. Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

AC3 VB *Special* Malawi Fundraiser Ice Buckets

Don't Ask, Just Follow

Listening when it doesn't make sense. 


So there I was, managing this coffee stand at the church. Handling the tracking of money and helping with every aspect of the operation. For starters, I don't think that I should even be my own bookkeeper, it's certainly not in me to be a diligent tracker of money for an entity outside of myself. However, there I was, because God needed me to be involved. The coffee stand needed change, Creek Espresso needed management and needed good stewardship. I didn't see myself fit for the job, but God did, so I listened.

I did the best I could and prayed like crazy for God to show me the more permanent answer as to who belonged managing Creek Espresso, it certainly didn't feel like it was me. Since I joined the BAM board (Business As Mission) earlier this year, I felt drawn to this coffee stand. God was pulling me towards it to seemingly set the path for the future, much like he pulled me in to start this blog late last year. As with most things God pulls me to, there was enemy opposition. It was not an easy road but with the help of the BAM board, our volunteers and a HUGE help by our new Creek Espresso Management, Stephanie Moddison, the future is looking bright for Creek Espresso and it's efforts to raise funds for The AC3 Community Center.

The power of prayer


Like I said, the prayers were being sent up in great numbers lately about finding a solution to the problem that I was facing. I needed to step down from this role in the coffee stand, but I needed God to show me the way as surely all of this hard work was for progress in Jesus' name. 

So there I am, praying like crazy. One night, I had a good long talk about it with Bet (aka the awesomest wife in recorded history), told her I was praying about it and asked her to as well. That night before I went to bed I prayed that I'd find balance, that even if I was supposed to manage this coffee stand that I could fit it in where it needed to be fit in as I run a real estate business that supports my family that is clearly #1 on the work priority list. 


How God works in my life.


Well, in the short years I've been a real follower of Jesus, I've learned that The Holy Spirit seriously lacks subtleties when showing me the path that needs to be taken. 

So I'm moping around the house, the very next day after talking to Bet about this coffee stand/time constraint problem and Bet says, "hey honey, I found this in the bag of stuff taken out of your old car, do you want it?"

This is a press pass, made for me by one Nate Crain, an idea straight from God, filtered through Dan Hazen and myself. It was the vision to start this very blog that caused me to take up my passion for writing again, a vision that was seemingly taken from me when business picked up and the coffee stand among other things took all of my time.

At first I didn't think much of her finding the press pass and handing it to me. Then I checked my email. Within an hour of Bet handing me my press pass, I get an email from Creek Espresso's saving grace, Stephanie Moddison. Stephanie and I had been working together to manage Creek Espresso for several months. There's no way that it would be what it is today without her. The email was about how God was putting it on her heart to take over full management of Creek Espresso. How her little guy was just getting old enough where she thought she could take this all on and that her processes for the stand were ready to be in full swing. 

So, I took a step back. Thanked God for working in my life and told Him that I'm listening and that I'm His humble servant and will press forward as he's called me to do. 

Listening forward


So, I listened. Here I am, writing on the blog. I know not where I'll be led in this adventure but I know I'll be led somewhere He wants me to be which makes my heart happier than I could have ever imagined. I'm done asking questions about where He leads me, it's time to just follow because I always end up in the right place at the right time. 

I also know, AC3, that your espresso stand, Creek Espresso is in capable, amazing, loving and caring hands for the foreseeable future in Stephanie Moddison. I will be doing all that I can to support her as she takes on this challenge that God has laid on her plate. So stop in for some java this weekend at church and support the community center at the same time. 


-Jared Galde





AC3 VB38 Worship with Kids



Video Blog 38 is here! This is a MUST SEE if you are a parent of a little one. If you are a parent of a child and were wondering about the kids being in worship with us, then check this out. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fractal Mind

Shea here... Reposting some thoughts from my personal blog - SpareWonder.com
Romanesco broccoli.
The fractal shape form of a
Romanesco broccoli.

According to Wikipedia: A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale.  Fractals can be nearly the same at different levels.  Fractals includes the idea of a detailed pattern that repeats itself. From <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal>

 Being philosophically curious, whenever I have the time, I began to wonder if this concept of a repeating pattern of ever larger scale could be found in other areas of life and being in the universe.

I used to believe that animals did not have any such thing as a "soul" and that whatever resemblance they showed to humans in terms of personality and emotion and intelligence was merely coincidental - that they were strictly running on instinct whereas we humans ran on free will and self-determination.

My view has changed.

I still believe there is a unique creation in humankind - the Imago Dei breathed into us as the clay of Adam became our flesh. However I am confident that there is far more to the rest of creation than I was previously willing to give it credit for. Whatever a "soul" or "mind" actually is, I now believe it is present in many other creatures. Our beloved and missed family canines demonstrated such a wide range of emotion and love and personality that I had to re-think my impressions of animal "instinct". Watching the local murder of crows in the greenbelt across the street had me re-thinking even more…

What if…
What if there is a fractal pattern to consciousness and awareness - to "minds" or "souls". If so, humans are certainly on the scale somewhere - but where. I think we tend to assume because we have largely reached the top of the food chain, that we would also be at the largest extent possible of the fractal mind scale - but is it true?

Before wondering further, lets remind ourselves of the common definition of "mind".

Mind (mīnd/) noun
  1. the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.
  2. a person's intellect.
Insects demonstrate some fascinating aspects of intelligence and awareness, but on a much smaller scale than dogs or dolphins or Donald Duck. If we apply the concept of a fractal to the general philosophical idea of mind, we see patterns in behavior and in awareness at even the smallest scale and they develop and enlarge and repeat. I know that evolution is commonly credited with developing progressively larger brains and other biological advancements, and since I'm growing a bit tired of that conversation, I won't protest if you insist it is true… but again - what if life is less of a growing progression and more of a weakening reflection? What if all of the minds found in creation represent just a portion of a much grander fractal design - one that continues repeating much smaller than our science has imagined, and much larger than our minds are really capable of grasping?

Romans 1:20
For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
What does the bible mean when it refers to God's eternal nature? Is it just how long He has been around? Of course the Eternal God is outside time (whatever that means) and has always existed and will continue to exist in the unimaginable distant future.  In Hebrew, El Olam - the Everlasting God. Olam means “forever, perpetual, old, ancient” - of infinite future and infinite past.

Psalm 90:2
“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God”.
He was before all time and all worlds. But is this all that "eternal" means? Is it just a reference to how many birthday parties He gets to have? Is there more? What would it mean to call Him the Eternal Mind? Or could we even begin to ponder more than our current position on the mind-scale?

I like the idiom that says: A stream cannot rise above its source
There is a very basic principle at work in our universe which any thinking Christian needs to have built into their intuition. The concept is best illustrated with the natural behavior of our earths system of rivers and streams. One of the laws of nature is that the headwater (source) of a stream, river, brook, etc., will always flow downward. In other words, if a stream is coming out of the ground at 300 feet above sea level, it will never naturally flow uphill to 400 or 500 feet. With rivers and streams, it is obvious that gravity is the primary cause of this phenomenon, but the concept also applies to other areas.

For example, a creative being will never create something greater than itself. We humans, of course, have many fantastic creative impulses and we have made some pretty fantastic stuff as a result. But many might assume that making other humans is the most amazing creative achievement we are capable of. However because we are mortal, even with all of our wonderful creative, and procreative power, we will never (within our own power) give birth to a "greater" being such as an immortal angel.

In the same way as a stream will never rise above its source and we will never create something greater than ourselves, a complex mind system (one capable of understanding) will never fully comprehend a system which is more complex than itself. To us, the human mind represents the most complex thing we might ever understand - simply because it is that thing with which we do all of our understanding - it is the source of that stream so to speak. Should something of greater complexity and power than our brain exist, we will never be able to fully understand it.

Some religions, largely Eastern systems, are essentially pantheistic - which means they suspect that everything that is, is God. The ant, the rat, the cow and cousin Kate - along with all the stars and floating dust in the universe - all essentially equivalent and identical to God. I used to think this was crazy thinking… but now I wonder if their viewpoint has some hint of truth. Of course their concept of God, for as large as the universe is, is ultimately too small. It is attempting to understand God from an assumption of being on the same exact scale as God.  But maybe Pantheism is seeing some things accurately from it's a particular location on a fractal scale.  In some sense, all that is seen, and all that is not, represents a much larger reality and perhaps even demonstrates some beautiful patterns. In some sense, the ant and the rat and the cow are special - perhaps even sacred - because they are a part of the whole of the creation God invented in order to reflect Himself on a smaller scale.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

AC3 VB37 The Cost of Discipleship



Here it is! AC3 VB37 The Cost of Discipleship. This weeks video blog comes to you from The Living Room. The Living Room is a new coffee house here in Marysville next to Mae Phim in the Safeway Plaza that is run by Hillside Church. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

AC3 VB36 Prayer Closet?



This weeks VB is on time! :) Check out Rick's "Prayer Closet" in this weeks VB. Enjoy!

Devastating Arguments Against Christianity (Courtesy of the Internet)

I'm re-posting an excellent blog I found HERE
I found it to be a concise response to 3 arguments against Christianity I keep running into on the Web.  The resident skeptic in your life may have throw these your way a time or two, so I thought perhaps it would be good to fact-check them all at once.
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Claim #1: “Religion has been the primary cause of war and oppression throughout the history of mankind.”

photo source: http://radiomankc.blogspot.com/


The Truth: In their comprehensive Encyclopedia of Wars, Phillips and Axelrod document the recorded history of warfare. Of the 1,763 wars presented, a mere 7% involved a religious cause. When Islam is subtracted from the equation, that number drops to 3.2%.

In terms of casualties, religious wars account for only 2% of all people killed by warfare. This pales in comparison to the number of people who have been killed by secular dictators in the 20th century alone.
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Claim #2: “The dark ages were a time of ignorance and superstition, thanks to religion’s negative influence on scientific progress.”

DarkAges


The Truth: Atheist writer Tim O’Neill responds to this claim eloquently in his excellent review of “God’s Philosophers”:  
“It’s not hard to kick this nonsense to pieces, especially since the people presenting it know next to nothing about history and have simply picked up these strange ideas from websites and popular books. The assertions collapse as soon as you hit them with hard evidence. I love to totally stump these propagators by asking them to present me with the name of one – just one - scientist burned, persecuted, or oppressed for their science in the Middle Ages. They always fail to come up with any. They usually try to crowbar Galileo back into the Middle Ages, which is amusing considering he was a contemporary of Descartes. When asked why they have failed to produce any such scientists given the Church was apparently so busily oppressing them, they often resort to claiming that the Evil Old Church did such a good job of oppression that everyone was too scared to practice science. By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists – like Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa – and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents usually scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong.”
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Claim #3: “Jesus was a mythical figure. The New Testament stole most of its stories from other ancient sources.”

loldaddy.com-1339110548

The Truth: These claims gained a lot of popularity thanks to the 2007 propaganda film “Zeitgeist” and its articulation of the Jesus myth hypothesis. It turns out that the “facts” presented in the image above are almost entirely fabricated. I was able to refute most of them in about thirty minutes of searching on academic websites:

Horus
  • His mother (Isis) wasn't a virgin. Isis married her brother (Osiris) and conceived Horus with him.
  • There’s no historical reference to a “star in the east,” or to Horus “walking on water.” Those are simply made up.
  • Horus was never crucified or resurrected. Actually, he never even died! The story is that he “merged” with the sun god, Ra.
Mithra
  • By most accounts, Mithra was born in either September or October.
  • There’s no historical account of Mithra having twelve disciples. That part is also made up.
  • Mithra wasn't said to have been born of a virgin, but rather out of solid rock.
  • There’s no known record of a resurrection (or even of him having died).
Krishna
  • Krishna was from the royal family Mathura, and was the 8th son of Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.
  • There is no mention of a “star in the east” or a resurrection in the literature.
  • There are some references to him performing miracles, but that’s about it…
Dionysus
  • He wasn't born of a virgin. His mother was Semele (a mortal), and his father was Zeus.
  • Dionysus died each winter and was resurrected in the spring. No mention of December 25.
  • There are plenty of references to Dionysus turning water into wine…but he was, after all, the Greek god of wine.

The Web is a place for all kinds of "devastating" arguments like these, but often they're put forward with more zeal (or sarcasm) than knowledge.  So remember, "the first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." Prov 18:17

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

AC3 VB35 We're Back!



If you didn't catch it on Vimeo or Facebook, here is LAST WEEKS video blog better late than never! :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Smile, the Universe Loves You

Jim Carrey
Today, saw a viral video that used the musings of a man known for his deep thinking and philosophical insight, Jim Carrey*. It actually contained some real nuggets, like this one:  “Our eyes are not viewers, they are also projectors that are running a second story over the picture we see in front of us all the time.  Fear is usually writing that script.”

But then Jim went on to encourage us to ask the Universe for our dreams and the Universe will come through, if we just ask.  I recognize in his speech, a quasi Christian worldview superimposed onto a neo pantheistic, materialistic, hedonistic one: Ask the loving universe for your outrageous dream and the universe will give it to you, but be patient and trust the universe for the how and the when of dream fulfillment.  He actually sounds like a lot of sermons on prayer I've heard or even delivered (not the first time I’m been compared to Jim Carrey!), just replace the word Universe with God.

That is, the Universe, capital “U”.

This was just the most recent example of how it has become politically correct to expunge every mention of God out of our vocabulary and in pop culture today, but it has not become taboo to use rhetoric about religious devotion, prayer, worship, awe or guidance, purpose and meaning.  If we simply refer to the Universe instead of God using the exact same rhetoric, we can sneak “spirituality” in.

But let’s examine this trend.  At first glance, this is a less offensive way to appeal to universal religious sentiment in people by being less sectarian, and less overtly religious.  Who can be offended by outsourcing our universal religious feelings onto something that everyone, regardless of religious belief, can feel and see and “know” – like the Universe?  How uncontroversial!  At once it seems to include believers and non-believers alike.  Even the atheist/agnostic eggheads on “Big Bang Theory” will invoke the “Universe” from time to time in reference to personal purpose or guidance.  It’s not uncommon for irreligious characters of all kinds to now say, “I wonder if this is the Universe’s way of telling me I should…”

However, after short examination you can see how this trend is disingenuous at best, and utterly illogical at worst.  For what exactly do we mean by the Universe?  If it’s what we typically mean, all the atoms and space and heat and energy and particles that make up the observable universe, then how can that stuff DO anything for me, personally?  How can I trust this material stuff?  How can it hear me, it has no ears?  How can it answer me, it has no power except to follow relentlessly and obsequiously, its own predetermined path, set by its own immutable laws?  How can it guide me, when it itself is just flowing along a perfectly unchallengeable script?  Why would “it” suggest options for me to follow, to uncover my secret fate or purpose, when inside the closed system of the Universe there are, in reality, NO OPTIONS;  No option for the movement and actions of atoms, therefore, no real options for the movement or actions of people, who are simply a collection of atoms, bound by Universal laws.

Now, I get humans personify things all the time.  Things like mountains, or wind or trees.  So it’s not a surprise that we might personify the Universe.  But when we say, “the mountain forbade us to ascend that morning…” our personification is simply a metaphor and we know it.  We mean, “the weather was bad.”  But truly, in the case of the new usage of “Universe”, no metaphor is being used or implied.  Jim Carrey really means that the Universe will guide him, answer him, bless him, love him.

But this is just logically ridiculous.  We are, without saying it, attributing personality to something completely and totally impersonal.  Of course, this trend would make some sense if when we are talking about the “Universe” we really mean something MORE than the atoms and energy and space of the universe as we know it and speak about it, in the proper sense.  I imagine the sage Jim Carrey himself might respond that he means something more than the physical universe when he invokes the “Universe”.  He means “all of its energy together, synergistically making up more than the sum of its parts, creating a Universal Soul.”  But then whatever it is he’s referring to, is something OUTSIDE of space, time and matter.  And that something, whatever it is, is properly described as spiritual or extra dimensional, because it is by definition beyond the space time matter dimensions.  So why call it the Universe?  It seems by every other thing Jim Carrey says about it, that what he means is in fact the OPPOSITE of the universe.  When he says universe, he means the NOT-universe.  It’s the grossest mislabeling you could imagine.  To talk about “height” and mean depth.  To talk about heat and mean cold.  To invoke the Universe and mean, “God”. 


This is why the Theistic worldview alone makes sense of the data.  It rejects the No-God solution of Atheism, which cannot seem to expunge or account for our religious urge (the “Universe Loves Me” pop trend only the latest evidence of this), and it rejects the All-God solution of Pantheism, which illogically foists personhood onto the impersonal, spirituality onto matter, morality onto relativism.  Only Theism accepts the material world without rejecting a spiritual Source for everything and vice-versa.  So go ahead Jim Carrey and all pop icons, invoke “the Universe”.  We know what you really mean.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

AC3 VB *Special* Church Leadership



Rick and Dan talk about church leadership and the importance of accountability while discussing the current happenings with Mars Hill church in Seattle.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

AC3 VB30 Best of Video Blogs



Hey everyone time for something special. I've put together a compilation of some of the best moments and some never before seen footage of the video blogs for our 30th video blog. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did :) -Nate

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

AC3 VB29 "PAUSE" Giving & Basketball with Rick?



We are coming up on the "PAUSE"! We have a few ways you can still give during the "PAUSE". Check out how during this weeks video blog and see what trick shots Rick has up his sleeve with a basketball. Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AC3 VB28 Community Partnership *Red Curtain



Filming on location this week at the Red Curtain Foundation. Watch as Rick and Dan talk about the upcoming Cotton Patch Gospel drama being held at AC3 this August and why we partner with our community as the church. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

AC3 VB27 Down On The Farm



This weeks video blog comes to you from "The Farm" First Fruits. If you like what you see and would like to become a member of First Fruits visit this link http://ac3.org/content/First_Fruits_Co-op for more info. Enjoy! :)

90 Days and Counting


If you had told me 90 days ago, that Seeds of Grace would be where it is today, I wouldn't have believed it. Why would God invite me, a 5' 1", simple-thinking woman, wife, mother and grandma of three, to play an active role in moving SOG in a new direction? What could I possibly do to help make real life change in how we Reach Out, serve and encourage individuals in our local community?

I struggled quietly with this question over several weeks. But finally, in God's timing, I decided to just be obedient to His calling and let Him worry about the results. Each day I do my best to step out in faith and into new territory. And as usual, I can see God at work in and around SOG and AC3.

The progress and acceptance of our new two-way giving model has been beyond any expectations I may have had. But God knew. He always does.

Has the first 90 days in this change process been without any push back? As a matter of fact, no. Several weeks ago we received a four page anonymous and critical letter of the changes we have made. Through it's verbiage, it appears this person may be a sister in Christ. Oh how I would love to meet and share with her just a few of the God sightings we have seen so far!

I would love to tell her about the tall, dark and confident man who shook my hand firmly and proudly, as he said 'thank you' for letting him give back in the way of serving his new and fellow SOG clients.

Or the story of a women who came in specifically to 'pay it forward' at SOG. She tells me her story. Her husband had been pretty sick and they have incurred a $10,000 hospital bill. She was so thankful for the food they will receive that day from SOG and was so appreciative because she can now use her grocery money to put toward their medical bill. She gave me a hug that was so sincere and full of love that I will remember her hug as if it was the very arms of God around me that day.

It has been such an encouragement to watch SOG volunteers implement new ways of doing things on Resource Exchange days. And I couldn't be any more excited about our Resource Consultants and SOG board members who have met with numerous new clients and are helping them with a variety of life needs. Several of our new clients even want to do life in relationship with us. How cool is that?  To see God at work in our SOG team and the new relationships being built is quite humbling and pretty darn awesome!

I can't wait to see what God is going to do in the next 90 days at SOG and through AC3. After all, it is He who gives us hope and allows us to relax and grow in the midst of changes and challenges.

Twila

Compassion books I have been inspired by:
The Great Omission By Steve Saint
Barefoot Church By Brandon Hatmaker  
Interrupted By Jen Hatmaker 
Toxic Charity  By Robert Lupton
When Helping Hurts By Steven Corbett

Seeds of Grace is looking for a few more Resource Consultants. These volunteer hours are flexible and fun. Contact Twila at 360-659-7335 EXT. 202 or email sog@ac3.org to get plugged in!
“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.  

AC3 does not necessarily endorse the above books, authors or their advertisers.