Wednesday, December 14, 2016

eXperimental eBook eStudy

So everything is online these days... Our lives are busy and so our schedules are tight. Trying to find a day and time to study together that works for more than one person at a time is increasingly difficult.

Recently, I've been playing with some different online "team" tools for work and it occurred to me that they may be an ideal way for AC3rs to interact together through a book study.

Regarding exactly how it might work... I currently have more questions than answers - but I'm looking for other AC3rs who would be interested in experimenting with the online study format and maybe helping to refine it a bit.

It wouldn't be a huge commitment of time, perhaps just a few months of occasional online interaction - at your own pace. We can carry on from there if it is working out for everyone. I would like to take away some learnings about the online study experience as much as from the book study itself - what made it awesome!?! what made it suck!?! etc. I am open to suggestions for the book(s) we take on as a group - perhaps we can vote on some ideas once formed?

Any interest in trying the experiment with me? eMail me at my name at spare wonder .com (don't want to post my actual full email address... spambots... you know...)


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

AC3 VB127 Are You Creative?

How are AC3's services planned? Check out this weeks video blog to find out and how you could get involved. Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

AC3 VB126 It's Christmas Time

Check out this weeks video blog with Rick and Dan as they talk about the upcoming schedule in December around AC3. Enjoy! :)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

#Advent2016 Day Eight

Lori's Reflections

Pre-dawn glory
inching in.
Secrets invite.
I always taint, 
but this is stronger than I.
This dark sky,
holding promise,
is not the dark of my nightmares;
it is kind.
Sleepy, I let my eyes fall shut again.
And as I have done so many times before,
I waste this invitation
To dance
With the Divine.

Some of the best and worst things happen under cover of darkness. In the wee hours when much of our world is silent and distractions lose their steam, we are free to let our minds, bodies and spirits roam.
The shepherds watched the sky and the magi knew the signs. They studied the heavens and no doubt philosophized about the one who was to come. Still, no amount of knowledge or consensus put them any closer to the Messiah. They could only understand the idea of Jesus without really knowing him until they met him face to face. There is no substitution for proximity.
And for those whose minds and hearts were set against him, nighttime brought fear and paranoia of being dethroned, or of losing power to him. How Herod must have worn a pacing path around his bedroom as he schemed to prevent prophecy’s fulfillment. Nighttime offered him runaway obsession without a single speedbump.

In the silent, holy nights of Advent, we have opportunity to commune with the divine or indulge our fears over politics, war, or our neighbor. We can revel in the promise or stew in the disappointments life has no doubt dealt. We can even go to church or talk about this Messiah, but again…there is no substitution for proximity. We have the chance to meet him directly in the silent nights and enjoy his presence. We can talk to him instead of about him, we can worship instead of discuss theology, and we can pray rather than plan. And with this, he is pleased. And the angels watch in wonder at this kind of love.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

#Advent2016 - Day Seven

Lori's Reflections

I would like to trade in some of my old things for new ones this Advent season. Some of my stuff is worn out and tired, and it just doesn’t fit anymore. I’m ridding myself of some things that have been cluttering up my space.
I’d like to trade comparing for gratitude.
I’ll give up my worry for peace and tranquility.  
I’m happy to chuck busy-ness for being still.
I’ll trade in half of the time I spend learning about God just to commune with him.
I’m going to give up telling God who He is and let Him tell me.
And I will unclasp my hands to let loose so many baseless answers I have accumulated along the way to make room for the wonder and mystery of my Redeemer.

I have a feeling that these Christmas trades will be the best presents ever. And because I am part of the bride of Christ, He will gladly give them to me. In fact, He already has if I will only let myself experience them. I am definitely marrying up.

#Advent2016 - Day Six

Lori's Reflections

When I was a child, I made a promise to God. To be honest, I can’t really remember what it was. All I remember is that I broke it. And I was devastated. It took some time before I got up the courage to ask our pastor if God could ever forgive me. Of course the answer was yes, but it took still longer for me to believe it.
Promises are a big deal to me. I am dead serious about them. Still, I have broken many more since then. Sometimes out of negligence or weakness, sometimes because of circumstances outside of my control, and sometimes because I had no business making it in the first place. If you were to make me a promise, I would like to believe you but I wouldn’t stake my life on it. Unfortunately, I know myself and you all too well; we have an exceptional ability to fail ourselves and each other.
It seems so improbable to me that God’s chosen people believed and held to the promise of the coming Messiah for so long. I mean, it took hundreds and hundreds of years and many generations before Jesus showed up, and all they had to go on was God’s word on the matter. Yet they held fast, and they taught their children to expect Him. God’s promises didn’t devolve into folklore or old wives’ tales, but they were held as fact.
Today we find ourselves in a similar limbo. God has promised the return of Jesus and that He will gather us to him forever. And we have been waiting a long time. Still, this is everything to us who follow Christ, and the bedrock of our faith. Why do we still believe after all this time? The Holy Spirit, who can touch the depths in us where mere words or understanding cannot, whispers to our soul and we know it is true. Because God’s promises are bigger than what we can understand a promise to be. God could no more break his word than I could become six feet tall. It’s just impossible.
So I challenge you to take a minute and read all the promises God has made to you in the Bible. They are very personal. And know that they are absolutely set in stone. Tell them to yourself so you better understand who God is and how he feels about you. It will change you, I promise. No really, I do.

Shea's Reflections

"If the tender yearning is gone from the advent hope today there must be a reason for it; and I think I know what it is [...] popular fundamentalist theology has emphasized the utility of the cross rather than the beauty of the One who died on it."

Pragmatism is defined as "an approach that assesses truth or meaning of things in terms of the success of their practical application." Pragmatism is evil. Or least, it is when mis-applied. The saying... "When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail." is helpful here - pragmatism sways us to judge everything, and everyone, in terms of whether they are useful to us. 

As Janet once sang... "What Have You Done For Me Lately!?!" - and I fear we ask the same of Christ in these days of wide-spread ADHDeity. We don't often intently seek the inherent goodness, the innate beauty, the intrinsic truth - we look at squirrels instead. And if something isn't "working" for us, we toss it like slightly stale cookies rather than holding on to hope for which we were called by our Creator and Savior - the Almighty. 

But at the same time, please be aware that we are victims as much as we are offenders here. Nurture and Nature have been stacked against us in this regard and so I will not ask you to rev up your power banks and just "do better", nor will I ask you to pick up your swords and slay the pragmatic beasts as they come at you one by one. I only encourage to you see them for what they are, and then lift your eyes to your Champion - the Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith - the One who will arrive in glory.

Friday, December 2, 2016

#Advent2016 - Day Five

Lori's Reflections

How palatable we like our meals. As a country of affluence, we become bored eating the same thing too often, and our taste buds have grown accustomed to being assaulted with flavor enhancers lest we find it bland. We need our sustenance fast, hot and flavorful. We are a culture of short attention, short patience and short memories. Our entertainment becomes paramount, and our bellies demanding.
Likewise, we have taken the story of Christmas and bedazzled it to our liking. We have replaced silent reverence with Black Friday, traded holy anticipation for decorated merchandise, and created the most selfish of environments out of the most selfless act the universe has known. We post our designer decorated trees, expensive presents and price tags on Face Book with pride.
In the midst of shopping, ordering and accumulating, the question of Christ at Christmastime is uncomfortable for those who don’t know Him. With nativity scenes and songs boldly proclaiming the Messiah, it seems a strange thing how easily the two are divested one from another in our culture. It is easy to distract with eggnog and gift receipts, and summarily dismiss the big question hanging in the air: the validity of the trembling truth of the Son of God.
As followers of Christ, we are no strangers to distraction. To be fair, I have nothing against the perfume or slippers my husband is going to gift me from my wish list. Further, I’m a huge fan of pie and Christmas lights. But to trade the wedding for the reception alone simply leaves you with a hangover and solo future. Don’t squander the sacredness of this time. Cook your Christmas dinner, but don’t forget to dive deep and swim in the mystery that has changed everything.

Shea's Reflections

My advent devotional read today was non-striking. Or perhaps that is really on me. Oh well - no poetry will flow regardless.
Lori asked me what my favorite Christmas time films were, and which we should be sure to add to our video queue this season. Well I'm quite certain she regretted the query immediately because I started singing "Father Christmas!" from my most favoritist Christmasy films of all time - Scrooge!
This is not, mind you, the Bill Murray fun-guy Scrooge, nor the George C Scott or Jim Carrey, or even the Patrick Stewart Scrooges... (although they are all quite Scroogey). This is a 1970 musical with Albert Finney - the Scroogeist Scrooge eva... gov'na!
I think the whole thing is actually uploaded to YouTube so you could watch it for free - and you would indeed if you cared to take my advice, which you won't - I can live with that though. I would also suggest you purchase the .99 cent kindle version of A Christmas Carol by Dickens and just read it through this year - it is not that much of a commitment to make honestly.
Chances are good though, that you will spend some time with at least one of the renditions of Scrooge over the next month and I wanted to remind you why the story has been told so many times, in so many ways... because it ventures truth. It is also an early Horror Story... except that the monster and the victim are one and the same.

I dare you (I Triple-Dog-Dare ya! to quote another favorite Christmas film) to invite Dickens ghosts to visit you this season. Take a trip back to Christmas' Past, to times of joy, or sweet sorrows if they be there. Allow the Ghost of Christmas present to shove your nose against a frosty window to see the needs that call out today. And then tremble before bony finger of Christmas future - and awake to find there is still time to begin again!

(btw... Full film is here: