Thursday, June 14, 2018

Constructive Connections-Part 1

Constructive Connections is a fiction series. It’s the beginning tale of how each person is formed perfectly by God to enhance the narrative of life. Constructive Connection reflects how each one of us is crafted by God to fulfill a purpose. By contributing unique talents to serve one another, a tower God called you to construct begins to form for His joy.






Red and blue wooden blocks are hurled through the air. BAM! They ricochet off the plastic bin and knock his juice to the carpet. At least he didn’t hit the cat this time.

Choosing not to engage in my son’s tantrum, I pick up a block and roll it between my fingertips. The scent of old wood, the feel of chipped paint; interesting where scent memory can take you. I was hurled into the middle of Sunday school when I was 7.

My folks dropped me off upstairs of our community church, as they did every Sunday. Upon entering the classroom, I zipped over to the blocks. Dumping the wooden contents, I began creating my world, my dream building; creating something out of nothing.

“God blessed you with a good imagination,” Miss Kim had said. It was the first time I heard something in my being, marking my heart with pride and ownership of “making”.

Soon another memory came into view with sharp contrast. Miss Kim asked me to work with Willy, only there was no working with that kid. He was mean. He was ornery. He was Willy my arch nemesis. “Doug, pick out blocks you want to use, then Willy can pick out the ones he needs. Make a plan, then begin to build,” she pointed to scripture scrawled on the whiteboard:

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it?” Luke 14:28.

Being a kid, scripture was just words. But this day, they were inspiration! I was going to build a tower! And it would take ALL the blocks. Unfortunately, Willy had similar blueprints.

Picking through, he was careful to sort the green blocks into a pile. Then he did the same with the yellow. The large tooth grin on his freckled face taunted me.

“Hey!” I yelled with indignation. “I was going to use those!”

“I’m building my house! I Neeeeeeed these!” He pleaded.

We ended up rolling each other over those blocks, regardless of color, shape or size. By the time volunteers pried us apart, a raised welt erupted on my cheek and Willy suffered a blue goose egg to the temple where I clocked him with a wooden wedge.

Years later at high school youth camp, we were paired again during a team-building exercise. The task was to scavenge items, then build shelter with nothing but an umbrella, bubblegum, blue tarp, 10 Starbucks straws, and pink duct tape.

Willy and I wandered in silence through the underbrush looking for additional found items to construct with. He swung his arm, hitting every leaf, every branch along his path. I witnessed him at school performing the same action; only freshmen and students of short stature were his low hanging branches.

“This is stupid. No one can do this dumb challenge,” he complained.

“Might be dumb, but we gotta get it done if we want dinner,” I reasoned. The youth leaders learned how to use food as currency; leveraging it to overcome teenage propensity to not play along with their creative challenges.

He picked up a log and looked back at me, “Hey Pug, is this a birch branch?” Pug, Puggy Pugster; all pet names he had given me over the years.

Whether it was the stillness of the woods or the absence of adults, or maybe it was God giving me the thumbs up, I gathered my courage. “My name…My REAL name is Doug. If you want to talk to me, USE it!” I yelled louder than expected.

Willy squared up to me. Standing a good 5 inches taller, drained was the courage I previously held. “Really? Doug is your name? It’s not Stupid, Nerd, Brain-Drain?”

Brain-Drain. His father’s nickname for Willy. Something inside broke. Washed in this weird feeling, I said something that did not sound like me at all. “How’s…how’s your dad doing?”

Willy took in a deep breath, eyes widened, face contorted, expletives unleashed, then turned with hands-on his hips. He looked around as if in a panic, yet he stood still. His eyes filled, nostrils flared; my “nemesis” then let his brick wall crumble. With each sob, my heart lurched within me. It was as if he couldn’t hold pain any longer.

After a while, Willy opened his life and told me everything that day. Youth leaders called us for dinner, but we said we’d join them for s’mores later. Just listening to him, being that ear to hear his struggle, brought me closer to understanding him but also to understanding how God had put us into each other’s lives for just such a reason.

When we eventually got up to go he said, “Remember that day I beat you up in Sunday School?”

Obviously, he had remembered it wrong, but I didn’t correct him. “Yeah,” I said with a slight grin.

“Dad and I lived in a tent that year. It was so cold. I was gonna build a house with those stupid blocks. Dumb, huh?” he said looking down, kicking at an exposed root.

“Guess you needed all those blocks after all,” was all I could say.

Watching my son, he only sees what is in front of him, not counting the cost; the cost of anger, the consequences of impulsivity. How can I help guide him? How could I have helped that 7-year-old kid who held a grudge for so many years against a boy who just wanted to provide shelter for him and his father?

I’ve thought a lot about serving my community, but where? My wife serves in kid’s programs. Teaching isn’t my thing, but she says it’s more about mentoring than teaching. What if I could be there to recognize the one who needed to be noticed, needed to be helped? They are there; hiding, or sometimes screaming, to be noticed. I think God’s divine gift is pairing us in each other’s lives to not just make a difference, but to point us to the One who makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

~Written by Jennifer Love


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Should AC3 Pull Out Of The WCA Leadership Summit?

As you know, AC3 hosts the Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit every August.  And if you haven't heard by now, the whole WCA (of which AC3 is a part) has been reeling since Bill Hybels was accused of sexually inappropriate gestures and overtures during his tenure as pastor and leader of the WCA.  He has denied the accusations, but has resigned from his all his roles at Willow.

This week, we received a couple of appeals for AC3 to suspend hosting the Summit in order to stand in solidarity with the victims of sexual abuse and the #metoo movement.  In case you have been wondering about that yourself, I thought I should show you one exchange I had which reveals our reasons for continuing to host the Summit this year, despite the scandal surrounding Bill Hybels.

Dear Pastor Rick,
I am the personal friend of one of the victims of sexual harassment by Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Community Church. I would gently request that you might consider pausing on hosting the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit at Allen Creek Community Church later this summer, to show solidarity with the multiple victims at Willow Creek Community Church.
Christ Church of Oakbrook https://www.cc-ob.org/glsupdateand
Grace Church Indiana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNQLNs-6RS0have set a really beautiful example, as the leadership at both these megachurches have already withdrawn from hosting the Global Leadership Summit in solidarity with the victims.
Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my request

My reply:

Thanks for the email and for voicing your request in this way.  I really appreciate the spirit of your appeal.

I have viewed both the sermon you posted below from Grace Church and the PSA from Christ Church.  There were very touching in places and I understand why those churches are deciding to Pause the Summit at their locations this year.  We’ve considered doing the same.  However, to this point, the elders have decided to continue to host the Summit.

We talk about what happened at Willow and our decision here:
and here:

The question before us, is whether a pause is required to advance the cause against sexual harassment in the world and in the church, or needed to express solidarity with the victims of sexual abuse overall, or those specifically involved with Bill.  I’m not certain there’s a direct correlation.  In fact, as I’ll mention below, I’m not sure all the victims would want us to make this boycott for their sake and the #metoo cause.

Of course, the Summit is deeply connected with Hybels.  Because of that deep connection between one man and the Event, any participation in the event will be seen by some as some kind of endorsement of that man and his alleged bad behavior.   To me, to suspend our participation on these grounds gives credence to a fallacy.  Namely, that the Summit and the movement that Willow spawned and the leadership passion and vision they’ve inspired is tied to that single man.

It’s not.  We never believed this, and to cancel our participation now, would seem to put the lie what we said we believed (the Summit isn’t about Hybels).   And it would be implicit agreement with the idea that if his name is besmirched then the Summit itself carries a black mark.  And finally it would suggest that all Christians of good conscience and who care for the sexually abused must now defect to look better in the eyes of those who are making what is essentially a false equivocation.

I’d rather live a little less pragmatically, for the sake of the optics of a thing, and more for the ideals of a thing.  And in this case the Summit ideal is about Leadership, and about the Local Church thriving and persevering and being well led.  The Summit ideal is also about inspiring this kind of passion, vision and leadership in women as well as men.  If we all pull out, that vision takes a huge hit.

I suspect the real effect of a defection from Summit sponsorship now will be twofold:  one, it will make those who pull out look like they really care about women and the #metoo movement, which I’m certain they do.  Two, it will serve to punish the WCA for what Bill did.

Regarding those two outcomes:  First, I’m not interested in punishing anyone, that’s not my business or my job, that’s God’s job.  Secondly, about showing people what we care about:  if people don’t already know that we, at AC3, care about women, and give them an equal seat at the table, and think that sexual abuse is bad, by anyone, but most especially by those in Christian leadership, then they simply don’t know us.

If our reputation goes down in the world or in the church because we continue to host the Summit, an event that has nothing to do with endorsement of sexual abuse… that’s a hit I guess we’ll have to endure.  Our reputation as a church has been built by what we’ve been about over a long run, and will not be radically affected by soundbites and guilt by association.  To those who would allow themselves to be so affected, we’ll be sorry about that, but they’re not thinking very deeply.

We have members at our church who also were close friends of one of the accusers in the Hybels scandal.  They are certain of her character and obviously are heartbroken for both their friend, and their former church (Willow) and for Hybels who affected them so positively for the many years they lived in Chicago.  And their friend, while wanting truth to out, and Hybels to be held accountable, would not wish for Willow or the mission of the WCA be devastated because of his sin.

I hope, as you implore churches to consider pausing the Summit to make a statement, you also consider that those not joining you are not necessarily disagreeing with the statement you want churches to make.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Psalm 91

Vince Dancer has done a study combining two commentaries on Psalm 91. Here are his thoughts for your consideration.



Psalm 91                                        (Ideas from John Robert Stevens and Charles Spurgeon)

There is controversy concerning the writer of this Psalm. Some have thought it is a Psalm of David but most consider it more likely written by Moses during the 40 years in the desert. It is often referred to as the Soldier’s Psalm because of it’s referral to battle and pestilence which often follows war even in modern times.

The Psalm is normally divided into five divisions:

The state of the Godly PS 91:1-2

Their safety PS 91:3-8

Their habitation PS 91:9-10

Their servants PS 91:11-13

Their friend PS 91:14-16



Verses one and two talk about a personal relationship with God. These verses are a statement of trust.  We who give all and dwell with the most high will have blessings that others do not receive. This is not to say we shall not have strife in this life. We shall find comfort under His care and greater knowledge for he will be with us always. (Matthew 28:20) (Psalm 139:7–12) 

It is difficult to shake the feeling that we have to be personally adequate and sufficient for every situation. We can foresee that today, tomorrow, or in the weeks to come, certain problems will come that we will be inadequate to meet. There may be bills coming due for which there is not enough money. There may be decisions to be made for which the wisdom is lacking. Whatever the need, He is the One to Whom we must come. We must put our trust in the Lord and learn to hide and dwell in Him. 

When we are assaulted we must learn to take shelter making God your fortress. The tides of evil forces can batter themselves against that fortress but you will be safe within its boundaries. An example of this from the Old Testament would be Job. For all of Job’s laments (Job 3:20-26), he still kept faith in God. He looks to God always even in misery.

Verses 3-4 talk of the protection we will have if we learn to trust in God for all things. The fowler is most likely a reference to Satan (the adversary). For it is not just the obvious things we have to have protection from but also the subtle things. [I’m just doing it once….] Once is all that is needed for a snare to be triggered. Then there is the noisome pestilence. Fear is the greatest killer even during a plague. The pestilence here is not necessarily a physical illness but an illness of the spirit. (Psalm 37:4, Proverbs 3:5-6 and Philippians 4:7) Faith here is divided into two types. In the first, we put ourselves with God and under his protection by becoming more aware of God in our lives. 

The second puts us out ready to fight the adversary focusing on him and fighting him. 

(PS 91:5-8) From this, we lose some of our awareness of God and this might also be considered a snare. Here I am fighting the adversary! (Psalm 91:5–8) Do you worry constantly? Why should you worry when God knows when a sparrow falls? Is He not everywhere? We will see others fall but we will prevail because of the protection of the Lord.

Verse nine does not say that nothing bad will happen but that EVIL will not fall on the believer. (Romans 8:28) Look at the story of Joseph. Thrown into a well by his brothers then sold into slavery by them. They meant for evil to happen but God used it for good.

Verses ten and eleven God sends His emissaries, also known as angels, to aid us in battle. They are a bodyguard to protect us keeping our body, soul, and spirit safe from harm. We do not know all that is done for us in the spiritual realm. Right now, angels may be around us warding off attacks on our minds, bodies, and souls. When we get to heaven we may be able to see what was done for us which we could not see with the limited sight we have now. 

Verse twelve: This is a true promise… even the Devil used it to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. If we stub our toe what can happen? Could a nail be broken and infection set in? What could happen from there? If you are diabetic or won’t get proper care for such a minor thing the answer is the loss of a limb or even death. So, the writer is telling us that angels will protect against even the smallest injury lest it becomes catastrophic.

Verse thirteen talks about trampling the cobra, lion, and serpent (dragon). We all know the how a cobra or lion is, they look for weakness and attack boldly. We know how to defend against those attacks. How about the serpent or dragon? The dragon is imaginary you say. Yes, it is in the imagination of our brain and mind. How do we fight such things? In Psalm 16:8 David answers this question. He knew the significance of his life, God had raised him up for a purpose. He did not fear for his own safety but knew that God’s plan would not be thwarted. We belong to God. He will be there when we go into battle and not allow His plans to be thwarted.

Verses fourteen through sixteen is God responding to those who wish to grow closer those who are after His heart. We have promises in these verses. Those who love God will be rescued and protected, set high above the rest of the world. When we call on Him with earnest and soulful prayer we will be answered. We must pray for answers to come from God. Honor God and He will honor you. Then those who have taken shelter in mind, body, and spirit will be rewarded with salvation and long life.



In the end, the more we practice looking to God and giving Him our love. Practice being in His presence. The more aware we are of Him and that He is with us at all times and in all circumstances the greater peace we will have and we will draw on that for the protections He has promised.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Rapt

Sitting outside Dairy Queen in the pouring rain watching a first “date” is where I began writing this evening.  The young woman sitting to the left and the young man to the right are enjoying one another’s company. She giggles, he smiles.  They eat their sweet treat while getting to know each other. Oblivious to the world around them.
Rain pounding on the van roof reminds me that I need to write, to write, to write!  The subject: Identity in Christ. Some kind of identity in Christ I’m displaying spying on this young couple.  I think back to the time I became a seeker. I longed to sit with Him.  The desire to talk about Him was infectious. Smiling was all I could do when thinking of the next afforded time to rest and read more about Him.  I couldn’t take my eyes off Him. Getting to know Jesus is like…dating. Don’t know if that is hubris to say, but I can’t help but make that connection sitting here tonight.    
It is unfortunate, but as with dating, infatuation begins to wane.  Becoming preoccupied with life, filled schedules, dropping off kid 1 here-kid 2 there, meeting after meeting, laundry, cooking, laundry, cleaning, laundry (I have two teen girls, is it obvious?) becomes the norm.  Time for facing Him, looking into His loving eyes, time standing so still nothing, and no one to interrupt rapt devotion; that time slips away under the guise of “Busy”.
Remembering back to my first Women’s Retreat, I was more concerned about what I would pack than what I would experience.  The Homestead is an amazing gift on the outskirts of Snohomish. The rolling hills, luscious flowers, and landscape are breath taking.  The staff take care of visitors with delectable meals, warm smiles, and spacious grounds to wander.
On one such wander I found a tree growing up an around a rusted truck.  Time had worn away every part of the once useful vehicle. Nature’s crude art sculpture among the foliage growing up, around, through; consumed it bit by bit, year after year.  When contemplating the busy tasks of parenting, working, and obligations, that rusted-out truck comes to mind. Unspecified time taken for our restoration can be like nature’s determination to take back, break down, and eventually devour back into the earth.  
Gazing upon the couple, future comes to mind.  Where will she be in 10 years? Balancing life, I imagine in her own way.  My sincere hope is she makes time for restoration in the midst her “Busy”. Identity in Christ doesn’t mean that Christian’s have it all together and display all attributes of Christ. It does mean we constantly pursue Jesus and long to be with Him, our captivated eyes fixed upon Him. Scheduling time for that type of restoration is crucial.     
AC3 Women’s Retreat is coming up May 18-20.  I’m putting aside the laundry, assigning cooking to hubby, and taking restorative time to meet up with Jesus again.  Each retreat attended I have found rejuvenation, revival, an opportunity to face Jesus, look into His eyes, and remember to whom I belong.  

The date is over.  Here they come. “How was ice cream?” I ask my daughter, my once little girl.  Her smile says it all.

For more information about AC3's Women's Retreat, visit our event on Facebook, or contact Trina Perry at mtperry02@yahoo.com

AC3 VB174 Wonder Women of the Bible

Here it is fresh off the cutting room floor! Check out this weeks video blog as Rick and Dan discuss our new series starting up this weekend. Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

AC3 VB173 Willow Creek Part 1

Watch this weeks video blog with Rick, Dan and a couple of guests as they discuss what's been happening at Willow Creek over the last few weeks. Part 2 coming next week. Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spared Change

***Nine years since the first time the Loves attended Financial Peace University, Jen Love recounts the part FPU took in getting her family to AC3, and why she is going to attend FPU again starting April 30.***

“If they offer Financial Peace University, I’ll agree to go to church.” Those were my demands for our first visit to Allen Creek Community Church, nine years ago.

Along with the rest of the country, we fell on financial hard times during 2008. My husband was selling cars in an economy that wasn’t buying. I had just finished up and received a Bachelor’s degree along with significant debt while juggling childcare and kindergarten for my two young daughters; my prospects of finding a job weren’t offering any viable leads either. We were staring at a high monthly mortgage, bills, bills and more bills, late notices, phone calls all starting with 1-800, and credit cards we could barely keep up on. Deepening was the pit of depression, devoid of hope’s light.

While visiting a friend one day, I noticed a yellow and blue box with a photo of a smiling man staring up at me. “What’s Financial Peace University?” I asked her. It was a Biblical way of looking at money, she told me, and how to balance paying off debt and effective budgeting. Her church was offering the class and she had just signed up. My friend was looking for hope to manage her household along with her three-year-old after the devastating loss of her husband to cancer. She explained how she felt unprepared and a bit vulnerable when it came to finances. Looking for a financial foundation to help manage her money, she was looking forward to the class. “Here,” she handed me a promotional DVD that came with the kit.

A few weeks later I came across the DVD amongst the mountain of mail, bills and other notices. As I watched it, I caught sight of a faint glimmer of the hope I had been desperate to find. Maybe…maybe there was a crack of light peeking from under the apparently locked door.

Going to the library, I checked out every book written by Dave Ramsey, the author and leader of FPU. This was the same point in time when the bank told us they would no longer accept partial payments for our mortgage. We would soon be foreclosed upon.

I remember walking out onto our front lawn one night; with earnest prayer, I said, “God, if you want this house, take it. I’m done holding on. Please help us to get financially right.”

Soon after, we received our answer. My husband was offered a job as a marketing manager. I accepted a job with a school district. After looking for work for almost a year, these jobs BOTH came within the same week of each other. Nope, there are no coincidences when letting God be in the lead.

My husband’s job was populated with many AC3ers who all pointed him towards the church in downtown Marysville. There were neighbors who pointed us toward AC3 and then another AC3 friend from my husband’s marketing group joined the fray. The path was being lit with a neon hum.

We had attended few other church services in the past together as a married couple. But each service talked about money: Giving money, tithe, donate. Being a person who was not a regular attender of any church, nor a Christian, I thought religion was all about money. In naivety, I thought Jesus was about peace and kindness but wasn’t too interested in my money. The Sunday we decided to attend AC3, we walked into the “money” sermon once again. Only this time, we heard with different ears.

I recently discussed with a friend the difference between ‘conviction’ and ‘condemnation’. This was the most significant example I could give her of the power of conviction. The takeaway from that pivotal sermon was how God doesn’t want us to hold onto money so tightly that we don’t let Him do amazing things with what we let go of. At that moment, I realized money never worked for me because I never gave over control to God. The condemnation I always felt was that we didn’t make enough money and we just needed more income. God’s clarification versus Satan’s taunting; that’s the difference between conviction and condemnation.

Pastor Rick closed with, “We will be offering FPU for the first time at AC3.” We signed up that morning.

By reordering the way we looked at money, we were able to reorder the way we spent, the way we planned, the way we survived and became stronger, not only as a couple but now as Christians. We were able to restore our financial health by stepping onto path lit with God’s promises and hope.

It has been nine years since we attended Financial Peace University. I’d like to say, “We’re Debt Freeeeee!!!” but we’re not. We have significantly changed our habits and we have firm pavement to return to if (and when) we briefly step off the path. FPU is being offered again at AC3 and I am planning to take the class again starting April 30.

What I am looking for is a fresh breeze to fill the sails again. Renewed enthusiasm is what I am seeking and a relit fire of gazelle intensity focused on obtaining Financial Peace.

And by the way; we were not foreclosed on. But that is another story God wrote and I look forward to retelling.

-Written by Jen Love
***More information about Financial Peace University can be found on the Facebook event.***

AC3 VB170 Survey Results

Watch this weeks video blog with Rick and Dan as they discuss the survey results from 2 weeks ago from the YouVersion Bible App. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Infused


“Cancer was found in the mass removed,” said the doctor. Hobbling into the shared cancer and chemo treatment waiting room that morning, I had pictured the meeting with the oncologist much differently. It involved balloons and a big banner in blue letters spelling out, “Benign!”


The deflated balloon of hope dragged behind me down the hall and back into the waiting room. Looking around at patients with varying degrees of withered bodies, pale features, varying stages of hair loss, my heart set on an elderly woman with a crochet American flag headband covering the front of her beautiful bald head. Only white wisps of hair were left on her blueish cranium. She sat alone.


As my best friend and husband of 21 years held my hand and we sat waiting for the appointment setter, a sort of peace accompanied the words replaying in my mind. The doctor spoke of 18 weeks of chemotherapy. I heard, “there will be trials you must endure.” The inevitable loss of hair and handing me a tissue in the same sentence; audible was the sound of, “store not your treasures on earth.” Words describing the way my body would be tired most days as it slowly adjusted to the chemicals being flushed through veins; precious railways of nutrition would now carry the most toxic of loads to even the very smallest of toes; whispers of, “the body does not survive on bread alone,” filled my ears. I was not alone. God was there. In the breaths in between talking about the future, God assured both my husband and me of his hand upon us.


I confess… I hate Facebook. Social Media Anxiety is what I have diagnosed my disdain and fear of this seemingly innocent communication platform. It is anxiety provoking to have any information about myself out there on social media. But as I sat there in the waiting room, not knowing anything else but to pray, I reached out to warriors to join me. Thinking about our church and the many interactions with godly women who walk the walk and talk the talk, the women who brought God into every conversation and situation, I made a list on Messenger. Once I was done, I knew there were more women, but these were the first to notify. Most I served side by side for the past 9 years in one form or another. Rationalizing about needing to let them know I wouldn’t be able to serve in the same capacity for a while, I wrote the following, “Asking for prayers for all involved on this journey. It's so humbling having to let go of the tight grip of control and give it into God’s ever-strong hands. I love you ladies thank you in advance for prayers.” Pressing “send”, into the nebulous it went.


My first encounter with God’s mercy and grace took place 30 years ago, and it was not my story. It came when my mother walked on this path. We rarely went to church nor talked much about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. But I witnessed the Spirit in the gathering of community, the embracing of many women in my mom’s life. There were flowers, cards, cookies; visible, tangible items reflecting how much she was loved, but they did not make as much of an impression as when my mother told me when her friends said, “Our church is praying for you.” Their church? The whole church? How? How did they get the word out to an entire church? But we didn’t go to church, how would they know my mom?


My mother was told by the doctor she had one month to live. Mom just celebrated 30 years of remission. Prayer, I believe with every ounce of my being, worked.


The day I sent the message, I was not sure what I would encounter. It was a risk. Putting not only myself but also my mess online. What I received back was not only heartfelt prayer, but the most amazing display of love, grace, mercy, and ultimately, community. Community as I have never witnessed before. My heart was full, God was there in every encouraging word, every silly sticker, every heartfelt relay of a promise found in God’s Word.


The months following diagnosis, I experienced so much about God, the Holy Spirit, and the ever presence of Jesus. “God made a million, million doors in the world for his love to walk through. One of those doors is you,” Jeremy Gray wrote in the song, With Every Act of Love. His love walked through an amazing group of women. I look forward to writing more about this group, this community, these sisters.

Written by Jennifer Love

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Financial Peace University at AC3

Financial Peace University will be taught at AC3 starting on April 30. Kazua Bedker and her husband, Jacob Bedker are facilitating this year, and Kazua (who also goes by "Kaz") answered some FAQ for us.

1. Why should I spend money on a program to tell me how to save money?

   FPU is more than learning how to save. It's a proven plan to help guide you through all things money-related. Financial Peace University is an investment. Being intentional and putting forth your own money to invest in this class will help you stay more committed to managing your finances than you would be if the class were free. The kits are $109 (online), includes free 1-year access to the Everydollar Plus ($99 value)  Kits purchased onsite at AC3 are $80 including a free 90-day access to Everydollar. For me, I used $80 from the small savings I had started building up, which at the time was only $300. It was worth every penny!


2. What does "Financial Peace" mean?

   Financial Peace means exactly what it states. Having peace with your finance. Whether you are in debt, bad with spending, need to learn to budget, clueless where to start when it comes to saving for college, home buying, investing, or retirement. FPU will help make your financial dreams become a reality. When we had financial trouble such as a broken down car, before FPU it would have been a crisis, now with FPU, we have our sinking fund for car repairs.  There was no fuss, no arguments, no “what are we going to do, how are we going to get the kids to school?” Even without the starting fund, we had a plan on how to re-budget our expenses and how we were going to save for the cost to fix the car. It was no longer a crisis, we had peace.

3. Aren't I too young/too old to start this program?

   You’re never too young or old to learn how to handle your money. Even with retirement or college savings, FPU is recommended for anyone 15 years and older. There is a curriculum created for high school/college students and Financial Peace JR for ages 14 and under. At AC3, parents who are attending FPU can invite their children 14-17 to attend the course for free.

4. Isn't there a book I could just read on my own?

   The Total Money Makeover is a great book to get started.  In-class learning has been more successful for others when staying committed to budgeting and getting out debt. In class, you have group support you can receive and know that you are not alone in your struggles or unsureness regards to money.

5. What are the top three reasons you, personally, would say someone should take FPU?

  1.  In debt? Learn how to be debt-free and stop worshiping FICO. Without debt, you are free to use your income for whatever you want!
  2. Have a family? Being married or having dependents you provide and care for, you need to learn to manage your money. So you can build a free future for your legacy. Don't let your poor mistakes be inherited by or given to your loved ones.
  3. Start as young and as early as possible! Don't be 55 with no retirement plan or extra income for your future other than social security. Don't rely on the government to take care of you. Have a plan and put action for your future.

6. What are the Biblical principles behind taking a course like this?

    FPU was created to teach how to handle money God’s way. Many scriptures are quoted and used, which I find makes financial reasoning understandable. Basically, it's just common sense of handling money as our grandparents or great-grandparents would have. Stay away from debt, buy with what you have, and save for a rainy day.

   Two of my favorite points Dave Ramsey talks about: One, in regards to debt:  Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes slave to the lender.” I felt like all my hard work and paycheck was benefiting the banks and not the things that I thought brought me joy.  Two, in regards to stewardship: we are stewards of God's creation, we don’t own anything on earth. Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Stewardship is managing God’s blessings God’s ways for God’s glory. God owns everything, we do not. We are his stewards-managers. He commands us to steward over everything he blesses us with, our talents, relationships, jobs and even material objects. When we can see this and understand our place in his creation, we can begin to change our outlook in life. This gives us a new sense of purpose to everything connecting us.

7. How has FPU changed your life?

   FPU has changed my life, almost as much as giving my heart and accepting Jesus as my savior! It's given me hope, clear vision what I want for my family legacy, and my marriage has been made stronger.


  FPU will be held at AC3 every Monday evening from 7:00-8:30, April 30, 2018-July 2, 2018.  You can get more information on our Facebook page, including how to contact Kaz to purchase your kit or to request childcare!  You may also register online at FPU at AC3. 


Thursday, March 1, 2018

March Events @ AC3 2018


Here's What's Up at AC3 in March...

UPCOMING EVENTS
4-WK Series: Beautiful Outlaw
3/2-4 Men's Advance at Warm Beach
3/18 Welcome Aboard Kreek Kids! 9am (Orange Room)
3/20 AC3 Women's Connection Dishmixer 6:30pm (SOG)
3/31 SAT. Easter Service 6pm

APRIL PREVIEW...

4/1 SUN. Easter Services 9 & 10:30am
4-WK Series: Left for Dead The Rise of the 'Nones'
4/4-4/25 Investigations WED. @ 7pm (Conference Room)
4/17 AC3 Mission TUE. @ 7pm (Conference Room)
4/9 FPU starts! 7pm 12-Mondays (Place TBD)

REGULAR ACTIVITIES
Tuesdays:
Senior High Morph @ 6pm (Auditorium) D-Group 4:30pm -1st, 3rd & 5th TUES. Contact Wayne 425-343-3529 to join!
Men's Search & Rescue Group @ 7pm (Conference Room)
Moms as Mentors - 2nd & 4th Tue. @ 10am (Blue Room - Children welcome)

Wednesdays:
Men’s Study, Coffee & Doughnuts @ 7am (Conference Room)
Seeds of Grace Food & Resource Exchange - Open 1-2:15pm (SOG)
Junior High RELIC @ 6pm (Auditorium) D-Group 4:30pm -1st, 3rd & 5th WEDS. Contact Wayne 425-343-3529 to join!
Marysville Farmers Market Mtg. @ 6pm 4th WED. Monthly (Conference Room) Contact Shawn 425-359-4856 with your questions.

Thursdays:
Thrive Women's Study - 1st & 3rd Thur. 9:30am (Blue Room - Children welcome)
Essence Women every other Thur. @ 7pm (Conf. Room) - Trina 425-737-4061)

Saturdays:
First Fruits Farm Meeting @ 10am 1st SAT. Monthly (Place TBD - Jan 425-268-7949)

WEEKEND SERVICES
Saturday: 6pm followed by light meal & worship. Extended @ 7:45pm.
Sunday: 9 & 10:30am with Worship between services. Extended @ 11:40am.

Children's programs 0-5th grades during our 6pm and 10:30am services.

AC3 stories, events and info can be found online at www.ac3.org, https://allencreekcc.blogspot.com/ and www.facebook.com/allencreek.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

AC3 VB168 Beautiful Outlaw

Check out this weeks video blog as Rick and Dan discuss our upcoming series starting this week leading into Easter. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Putting God at the Center of Our Marriage

Alicia and I married at the young ages of 21 and 19. We were 3 months pregnant when we said I do and began our new life together as one. We worked opposite shifts, and I often had to work overtime while dealing with long commutes and school work while doing my apprenticeship. Both of us came from families where our parents had struggled in their marriages that ended in divorce. Our parents are good people and we love them dearly, but they did not teach us how to have a marriage based upon biblical design. Needless to say, we struggled to meet each other’s needs in our new marriage. 

We often didn’t understand the different ways we needed to show love to one another, and I placed more importance on work and providing a comfortable life for my family. I would always be busy working on the house or at work, not giving Alicia the quality time she needed, which would leave her not in the mood to give me the respect that a husband needs. Our relationship struggled. 
When our son was ready to go into Preschool, we enrolled him into Prepare The Way at Allen Creek Community Church. We began to attend AC3 and get to know the members of this church. Over time we got to see how Christ was working in their lives. It took a few years until Alicia and I came to a point where we acknowledged that we were in desperate need to have Christ at the center of our marriage. It was going to be a big change for us and how our relationship was structured. We each gave our lives to Christ. 

I was learning to look at my wife and love her in the same way that Christ loved the church. Jesus was faithful to the Church to the point of his crucifixion.  I had to learn to die for my wife, like Christ. I had to die to my own desires and put her needs first, loving her unconditionally. In Ephesians 5:24-2 states that “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives beto their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church.” With my commitment and application of these words, it has enabled Alicia to see the Christ figure in me as the head of the household and show me the respect that a man needs.

Both Alicia and I had to learn to let go of our short comings, unmet unrealistic expectations, and the mistakes we had made during the early years of our marriage. Alicia had held onto many resentments and often voiced them to me. They would fester inside and be brought up during disagreements, compounding other issues. It took time to let go, but with prayer and God’s work on our hearts we were able to “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, calmer and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:21-32

As forgiveness truly set in, a new level of communication and intimacy has occurred. The more I began using prayer and trusting in the Lord to handle my frustrations, the better I have been at bringing my concerns to Alicia in a loving manner. This has allowed Alicia to be more open, honest and forthcoming with her feelings. There is a new level of trust and safety within our marriage.

This trust has been established with Christ our Savior as the center of our marriage. When we pray together we openly place our hopes, dreams, and concerns on the table or our Father to handle. We can focus on our marriage knowing that our hearts are aligned. Our marriage is aligned by biblical design, and we have His Word to help guide us.

-Ken & Alicia Christiansen

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

AC3 VB167 Fellow Strugglers - Sex and Sexuality

Check out this weeks video blog with Rick and Dan as they discuss last weeks survey from our YouVersion event and the up coming weekend at AC3. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Why the Men's Advance?


HUGE Men of God and Warm Beach are once again partnering to hold the Men's Advance, the weekend of March 2-4, 2018. We asked two AC3'ers, "Why should men go to the Men's Advance?" Hopefully, their answers will convince the men reading to go and to invite their friends to go. Ladies, there is a Women's Retreat coming up later in the year, so do not fret! We'll have a blog post for that as it gets closer. Onto the men!

First up, Michael O'Haegher:

I've been going to the Men's Advance since it was still just called the "Men's Retreat". I hear it said often that people tend to tire of the same thing over and over again, but I have yet to tire of the Men's Advance. Every year that I go, I am changed for the better. Some years are more dramatic than others, but I always come away with something valuable. The HUGE board works hard all year, and the quality and caliber of the Men's Advance always blows me away. What can be accomplished when men of God gather together and put their skills into the game is a thing of beauty. When you attend, you not only hear fantastic messages from world-class speakers, and excellent worship; but you also get fabulous meals, fellowship with other men, and most importantly, a chance to put your life on pause and hear from God.

I'm especially excited about this year's event. Not only is the speaker my pastor, but he's also engaging in one of his favorite things: answering the tough questions about the faith that people have. Apologetics is like a hobby to Rick, and his interest shines through when discussing these topics. I'm also excited about the new technology we are using at this year's Advance. We have purchased software that allows attendees to text in their questions real time, and have them appear on the screens. Rick will answer these questions during the Advance. I know the interest will be high, as the questions will come directly from the audience!

I urge you to attend the Men's Advance this year. It will be a life-changing event. It is for me, every year.


Next up, we asked the speaker himself, Pastor Rick Thiessen:

No man should want to miss this year at the Men’s Advance because you’ll get to see a live human getting grilled. And you thought the ropes course was going to be exciting! Actually, we plan to make our main sessions interactive as our keynote speaker (Rick, me, whatever tense you want to use here) takes live question from you, the audience. Why would we do it like this? In past years at the Advance, HUGE held a seminar where men could ask any question they wanted, about God, the Bible, or Christianity. And we found that this approach scratched a real itch where men clearly needed a forum to ask thoughtful and difficult questions.

What kind of men and what kind of questions? Well...

  • Men who sometimes feel like theirs are the taboo questions that can’t be asked in church, and have been told to “just have faith and believe”. 
  • Men who are young in the faith and a knotty bible passage just doesn’t make sense. 
  • Older disciples, feeling their faith tested by the challenges of skeptical friends. 
  • Men who are struggling to try and integrate truth they’ve been taught with the truth claims of Scripture. 
  • Men stumbling over Christian stances on moral issues. 
  • Seeking men who have serious doubts about Jesus because some part of the Christian faith seems utterly unbelievable.
  • YOU and YOUR questions.


So at the Advance, we’re going to talk openly about the Christian faith and its relationship to reasons and evidence. We’ll attempt to build a reasonable basis for the Christian faith from the ground up, which will build you up and challenge you to be a more confident, winsome witness to God’s grace in a dark world. Plus, as promised, part of the adventure will be opening the door wide to express your question or doubt or bible problem. So warm up the BBQ!

You can register online at Men's Advance 2018 Registration is required, and there are a variety of packages available.



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

AC3 VB166 Men's Advance

Check out this weeks video blog as Rick and Dan discuss what Rick will be speaking on as the Key Note speaker of the Men's Advance. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

AC3 VB165 I AM AC3

Check out this weeks VB right here with Rick and Dan. Enjoy! :)

February Events @ AC3 2018

Here's What's Up at AC3 in February...

UPCOMING EVENTS
2/3-4 I Am AC3 - Find out how to get your talents into the game at AC3! 
3-WK Series: Swipe Right (Sex and Sexuality)
2/4 Super Bowl Party and Youth Fundraiser (Auditorium)
1/22-2/26 Women's Forum MON. @ 6:30pm (Auditorium)
1/17-2/22 Men's Forum @ 6:45pm (day and place varies)
2/16 Green Room Team Gathering @ 6:30pm (Conference Room)
2/20 AC3 Women's Connection @ 6:30pm (SOG)
2/23 Youth Paint and Slurp Party FRI. 6-9pm  (Auditorium)

MARCH PREVIEW...
3/2-4 Men's Advance at Warm Beach
4-WK Series: Beautiful Outlaw

REGULAR ACTIVITIES
Tuesdays: 
  • Senior High Morph @ 6pm (Auditorium) D-Group 4:30pm -1st, 3rd & 5th TUES. Contact Wayne 425-343-3529 to join!
  • Men's Search & Rescue Group @ 7pm (Conference Room)
  • Moms as Mentors - 2nd & 4th Tue. @ 10am (Blue Room - Children welcome)
Wednesdays:
  • Men’s Study, Coffee & Doughnuts  @ 7am (Conference Room)
  • Seeds of Grace Food & Resource Exchange - Open 1-2:15pm (SOG)
  • Junior High RELIC @ 6pm (Auditorium) D-Group 4:30pm -1st, 3rd & 5th WEDS. Contact Wayne 425-343-3529 to join!
  • Marysville Farmers Market Mtg. @ 6pm 4th WED. Monthly (Conference Room) Contact Shawn 425-359-4856 with your questions.
Thursdays:
  • Thrive Women's Study - 1st & 3rd Thur. (Resumes March 2018)
  • Essence Women every other Thur. @ 7pm (Conf. Room) - Trina 425-737-4061)
Saturdays:
  • First Fruits Farm Meeting @ 10am 1st SAT. Monthly (Place TBD - Jan 425-268-7949)
WEEKEND SERVICES
  • Saturday: 6pm followed by light meal & worship. Extended @ 7:45pm.
  • Sunday: 9 & 10:30am with Worship between services. Extended @ 11:40am. 
       Children's programs 0-5th grades during our 6pm and 10:30am services.
AC3 stories, events and info can be found online at www.ac3.org https://allencreekcc.blogspot.com/  and  www.facebook.com/allencreek.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Servant Ye Must Be Served!


Have you ever felt drained or unappreciated for all that you do?  Or more to the point have you ever felt drained or unappreciated for all that you do in service to the church and community?  Youth leaders, do you ever feel the ministry is not going anywhere, that your work is never finished?  Elder, have you found yourself asking what difference am I really making?  Or Greeters can you relate to the feeling, it would be nice to be greeted for once? Perhaps the answer to this is not as far from you as you think.  Even the servant must at some time allow themselves to be served.

At the time of the last super Jesus washed the feet of his disciples; a task given only the lowest of servants.  Upon completion Jesus says, “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet” (John 13:14).  Jesus gave the example and then the commission;not only are we to be servants to others and one another, but we are also called to allow ourselves to be served.  

Too often we get caught up in the good works we are called to do, we forget to take time to allow ourselves to be served by others who are accepting their call to serve.  When was the last time you participated in, but not lead or managed a small group?  When have you been just a recipient of a keynote speaker at a retreat…a participant not a leader?  Where have you gonerecently, just there to be filled and to replenish?

Servants, you too must be served.  So many likeminded people have burned out over the years of serving because they never took the time to replenish.  Churches and charities have revolving doors of volunteers; they serve for a while then disappear.  Pastors get tired, elders quit, kids’ ministries fall apart, whole organizations fail simply due to burn out.  Jeremy Camp sings the song “Revive me”, in which he calls upon the Lord for revival “according to your love and kindness”.  I ask you, servant:  How can you be revived if you don’t take time to allow yourself to be servedletting the Lord give you what you need through the serving hands of others?  Again, I sayServant Ye must be served.

By Christian Love

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What's Your Biggest Fear?

What is your biggest fear? More specifically, what is it you are afraid to lose by following the call to deeper discipleship with Christ? Don’t say “nothing”, because every Christian who has grown beyond Sunday-only Christianity has had those fears. They don’t make you a bad person. They make you a person the Holy Spirit has spoken to, and they have stirred in you because the very Creator Himself has stirred the waters of your soul. You are in very good company.

You might be afraid to face these fears because they might feel like selfish reasons to you. Maybe you are afraid if you follow Christ into deeper relationship you will have to give up your entire way of life, like the fishermen of the New Testament who gave up their very homes to follow him. Maybe you are afraid of losing the respect of those who would reframe you to be one of “those religious people”.  Maybe you fear you’d have to give up Friday night beer time, or those closest friends who seem to truly understand you. Maybe you don’t want to identify with some of the Christians you know, and you feel more affinity to the person far from God. Maybe the word “obedience” scares you and makes your jaw set.

They might also feel like noble reasons to you. Maybe you are afraid it will come between you and your spouse, your parents, or your children. You might feel stretched to the limit already, and you can’t possibly imagine giving more of yourself to one more thing, lest your family or yourvery sanity suffer. Perhaps you have everything in your life delicately balanced, and you don’t want to send all those plates you’ve been spinning into the stratosphere, or shattering to the ground

Whatever you are holding onto tightly, consider this fact: It’s possible God is not asking you to give up any of those things. What if you kept your friends, your family and still moved intogreater following and deepness with the very God who spoke you into being? Too often we get the cart before the horse, and put obedience before relationship. That doesn’t work in parentingfor very long, and it doesn’t work in relationship to our God either. Because He is not the god of anarchy and chaos, obedience does matter, but it more resembles practices for a better relationship than rules to comply with in order to be accepted. If Jesus followed that line of thinking, he would only have healed the most pious. We know from scripture that is not true. 

But let’s take the worst-case scenario: What if following Jesus more closely into deeper discipleship did cost you the things you were most afraid of losing? If that was a reality and if it is stopping you, then you are choosing the thing God has given you over the very giver Himself. You have put your trust in the gifts. You don’t believe you will be ok without them. You believe you have built your own happiness, and he will take that away. I’ve got news for you: Every good thing comes from God. Look that up, it’s in the Bible. Everything that is good in your life that brings you happiness is from your Father in Heaven. And he’s got more where that came from. You don’t trust that He will make you as happy as you feel you’ve made yourself. Again, you don’t trust He will make you as happy as you feel you’ve made yourself.

Let’s be real though, is there a cost to following Jesus? Even the Bible admits this. There is a cost to losing weight and getting in shape, but if you deny desserts and sacrifice a little time at the gym, you will be happy to be the new person you have become. There is a cost to giving up dating every cute person who piques your interest, but when you marry the one you truly love, you commit to leaving the other people behind, and you are happy you did. Nothing replaces trust in a marriage, and no one can be your closest ally on this earth. It’s not loss, it’s sacrificing the good thing to make room for the better thing.

If you are still afraid that God will make you an unlikable freak, a lonely person, eating ants for dinner in Africa, not living in your dream house, friends with boring church people; whatever your fear that keeps you from deeper relationship, here is the truth of all of that: You don’t know Him at all. That’s the harsh reality of your decisionAnd it IS a decision. You don’t trust him because you don’t know Him. And that, friends, is the place to start. 

Don’t give up anything, just move toward getting to know who He really is. Add things to your life rather than take them away. Add prayer. Add scripture readingTalk with someone closer to Him than you. When you read the New Testament, imagine a real, breathing man walking the earth. Ask God to show Himself to you. Read a book that helps reveal what Scripture is saying. Read the four gospels over and over for a month. Learn who He really is, and let go of the lies that have snuck in over the years. I guarantee a majority of the fears that keep you from him are lies, and the Bible tells us the evil one is the father of lies. What if that’s who you have been listening to? It’s a chilling thought to realize that what you thought was just standing still was actually obeying the one who would be happy to keep you far from God.

There are lots of ways you can move closer to God. Any leader in your church can give you a list, but standing still isn’t going nowhere, it is going further from God. Be fearless. What if your life really would be fuller, more peaceful and centered on an unmoving person rather than circumstances? Dive in and understand what those who have gone deeper are talking about. If you have doubt still, welcome to the club. If you have resistance, do it anyway. If you are afraid, pull up a chair. Come to the table. He’s not angry at you for not coming sooner, he is so delighted in you and that you came. I’ll see you there.

-Lori Caperoon