Wednesday, December 19, 2018

It's Not What You Think...

Image result for image christmas cross

It’s Not What You Think

    So, the time of year has come again where we redecorate our homes, sing a different set of songs, and are barraged with sale after sale.  Yes, my friends, it is Christmas time. The secular side of Christmas is that of Santa Claus bringing toys, snowmen (and women), cookies, and sleigh rides.  The Christian side of Christmas will paint the picture of the neatly designed nativity. Mary, Joseph and a few important guests; the shepherds, wisemen, and a few animals crowded around the manager.  While both Christmases have their place, even in my life, neither gets truly to the nature of what Christmas is all about…its not what you think.
    To start, I will mention that Santa Claus (aka Saint Nick, Pair Noel, Sinterklaas, etc.) has very diverse roots; many of them pagan.  Saint Nicholas the person was a follower of Christ as well as a giver of gifts. He was once defrocked for hitting a peer in full assembly when a Bishop, named Arius, downplayed the divinity of Christ when he stated Jesus was not equal to God the Father; painting a lesser picture of the significance of Christ in the church.  Being a believer today often makes us the minority, watching what we say and how we say it in the workplace and in many public settings (sometimes to extremes in places such as China). Christmas is the one time of year we can get a little braver, declaring our faith by the carols we sing and the nativities we display.
    The focal point of every nativity scene is the manger and more important the baby that lay in it- Jesus.  Much is said in the Bible about this baby that bears many names beyond that of Jesus, “and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  The entire Old Testament foreshadows His coming and the New Testament is about His time here and why he came.  While the nativity scene is a symbol of celebration and the birth that changed everything, it is not completely what Christmas is about.  If the meaning of Christmas is only about the baby in the manger, then I will challenge that Christmas is not about what you think it’s about.
    So what is Christmas really about then, you might ask...? The musical group Go Fish sums it up very well with their song “It’s about the Cross”. The first verse and chorus are as follows:
“It's not just about the manger
Where the baby lay
It's not all about the angels
Who sang for him that day

It's not just about the shepherds
Or the bright and shining star
It's not all about the wisemen
Who travelled from afar

It's about the cross
It's about my sin
It's about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again

It's about the stone
That was rolled away
So that you and I could have real life someday

It's about the cross
It's about the cross”

Go Fish – Album “Christmas with a capital C”

    Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, but really, it’s about the ending of the story 33 years later.  It is about the cross, “it’s about the one who came to be born once so we can be born again” (Go Fish). Yes, the birth is important, and we must always celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we need to remember what it is really about…” God so loved the world He gave His one and Only Son for us” (John 3:16).  

Merry Christmas everyone!  Now I call you all to go tell it on the mountain; not just that Jesus Christ was born, but why.

Please enjoy the link to Go Fish’s “It’s About the Cross”

~Written by Christian Love

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Animated-Week 3-Jesus

Anyone who knows me, I mean really knows me, knows I love movies. I have always loved the ways in which I could get lost in a story. The way I could be transported into whimsical fantasy or a swashbuckling adventure. As a child I would exchange dismal reality for a grand adventure revealed to me either on the big screen of the local movie theater or the small screen that had 3 channels. As I grew into adulthood I found that while some people collected ceramic figurines, snow globes or stamps I was collecting moving experiences of a character on screen. A few of my favorite adventures were of Indiana Jones narrowly escaping a runaway boulder or the epic  battle of swords and wits between Edmund Dantes and Fernand Mondego or the harrowing quest of Frodo and Samwise. Yet, with all the intensity of those adventures I find myself considering my favorite movie Frank Capra’s 1947 film It’s a Wonderful Life and how beautifully that story resonates with me.

It’s a Wonderful Life is the story of George Bailey and how life knocks him down, hard. He finds himself on Christmas Eve in a very dark and broken place, the place where hope is absent. The place where the roadmap has been torn and you cannot see true north. George Bailey in his despair decides to jump off a bridge but inadvertently “saves” his guardian angel, Clarence. George Bailey is a bit dumbfounded when through the course of the movie it is revealed how different the little town of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born. George Bailey had no idea that his life had such an impact on his community that his very absence affected the characters in monumental ways.

Can you imagine what the world would look like if you yourself were never born; if you did not exist? If you were absent from ever coming into being? If you did not inhabit your skin. Take that a step further and imagine Jesus, God incarnate not coming to us in the form of that tiny baby in a manger? God not with us! How would our very nature be affected without Immanuel here with us? What a sobering thought.

The Christ Child came to us as a precious gift from the Father. He is an opportunity for us to truly see God with us. Jesus says anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. Yahweh in all of His sovereignty in all of His righteousness and in all of His goodness knows our need to feel His presence on a corporeal level. There is something about skin to skin contact that we as humans crave, it is almost as if we have been designed that very way. And God in all His mercy animated Himself so that we may have God incarnate through the Son, Jesus.

And that is the hope that we are abundantly blessed with. Hope resides in the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Hope that we are not alone that God is truly with us. Jesus in all of His lavish love for His disciples did not leave us without hope. Jesus promises His disciples the Holy Spirit as our own roadmap pointing to true north where God passionately pursues us so we too can say it’s a wonderful life.  

~Written by Dea Braaten

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Animated-Week 2-Humanity

Imago Dei

Why should naked equal sexual?
And why should sexual equal lust?
Or why must desire and lust be imagined the same?
Something is wrong.
Unless you can convince me
that all is precisely as it should be -
I'm going with my gut -
something is wrong

It is almost as if a toxin has been dripping
into the good things
into our hearts and how we love
into our minds and how we think
turning good things into opportunities to war and fight
and just sometimes spit and spite
causing our good desire to desire the not-good

and how shall we know
good after all this time?
how shall we detox our imaginations?

The Imago Dei
The Image of God is there in the distance within us
pale and shadowy behind the dust as on an attic mirror
and yet a true north for humans who look to it

How can human beings overcome
the ways by which we divide ourselves
one from another?
Is solidarity possible beyond race, class, and gender?
Can we find a source of value for every individual
 regardless of their sin,
 regardless of their hated of us,
 regardless of their status as our enemy or slave?

Before the first followers of Jesus found confidence in Him as the true Son of God, Jesus taught them that they too were the children of God. This ancient creed was recorded within the folds of a letter of Paul the Apostle. It claimed a thing amazing about the whole human race: there is no race...  there is no class, there is no gender by which to divide ourselves. To a world in which foreigners were feared and hated, slaves were human cattle, and men questioned whether women were really human at all, Jesus claimed something shocking. Into this world Jesus proclaimed (through Paul): "There is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male and female, for you are all one in Christ. In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith"

The Imago Dei gets very little press these days.
I would like to see that change.
It has, I think, power.
Power to encourage us
to love one another and the rest of the world - not pragmatically,
but through the very love we have of God.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Who's Who at AC3--Chad Dodds

In our mission to be a safe church for seekers, we sometimes hear those attending say that they don't know who someone is. We want you to get to know the faces you see around AC3. We are starting with the Triad, and last time we introduced you to Braeden Crain. Next up, we have Chad Dodds, one of our AC3 Board members.

Questions: Spiritually-minded
  • How I clear my mind after a challenging day:
Loud, very loud music on the drive home, typically rock or metal; I try to get the frustrations out and leave the problems behind me. I also try to stop and workout on the way home, which works even better! On the drive in, I usually listen to worship music to charge me up for the day.
  •  Advice to a person of faith dealing with a broken relationship with their church:
My advice here is to do what I say and not what I do! I left my childhood church and didn’t go back to church regularly for 20 years. I knew something was missing from my life and so we went searching. We were very fortunate to find AC3! We love it. My advice would be to attempt reconciliation, but then don’t hold a grudge against God or all Christians based on the fallen people of one church.
  • When I declared I was going to walk along with God, instead of away from him:
As soon as I saw the profound, positive changes he was working throughout my family very shortly after we opened our hearts to him.
  • Change I’d like to see among Christians today:
Chad and wife of almost 19 years, Jaime
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:3 (NASB). I am guilty of this, judgmentalism, and a few other things. I find it far more valuable to try focusing on my own issues instead of complaining about or judging others for their own flaws.
  • Moment I saw significant change in my servant life:
Right around the same time God pointed out my own flaws for me! (See the previous answer.) I had never wanted to volunteer for anything, even when I was in the military and it was highly encouraged. I was always too self-centered to spend my time worrying about others. Now, I enjoy serving others, mostly in the background, and just wish I had more time to do so (maybe after school ends!).
  • How I found my way to AC3:
Google! I’m not even joking. We searched and created a list of churches and were going to start shopping until we found one we liked. AC3 was at the top of the list and we loved it right away, we never even visited church #2 on the list.
  • Advice I’d give to Younger Me:
You have a lot to learn, you do not know everything; don’t pretend that you do.
  • Gifting I most admire:
Compassion and Mercy
  • Favorite serving experience: 
First Fruits Farm! I miss going there on Saturday mornings. It sounds weird and smells even weirder, but the smell of compost in the morning can be very therapeutic after a tough work week. It always put me into a better frame of mind for the rest of the weekend.
  • What I tell others about serving:
YOU will gain more from serving than you will ever be able to share with others.

Questions: Secular-minded
  • If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ribeye steak and baked potato, mmmmm...

    • There is a zombie apocalypse...What is your weapon of choice?
    A huge double-bladed ax! Zombies aren’t so tough without their heads or limbs.
    • What is your dream vacation?
    Any place that does not require work or allow me to receive messages from work. Sun, water, and maybe a beach are bonuses. I would also sign up for historical sites where I can see or learn from something ancient, but I don’t want to be on the run the entire time. Oh, and I need at least a week of vacation to mentally disconnect from work before the real vacation starts. Where do I sign up?
    • You have a day with NOTHING planned and no responsibilities! What do you do? 
    Hang out with friends, grill or smoke some meat to enjoy, maybe watch a movie or two.
    • What is the last thing you binge-watched? 
    Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m only about halfway through Season 5, no spoilers. 
    • Morning person or night owl? 
    Night owl, but I have trouble sleeping in past 7:00 AM most days now so that may be changing.
    • What is your favorite sport to watch? Team to follow?
    Pool. I like Efren “Bata” Reyes, The Magician, Shane Van Boening, Earl Strickland for the drama, and a guy I played against named Brandon Shuff. I don’t watch a ton of professional sports, but I have liked hockey (Capitals) for a long time. I am a fairly new football fan; I only became interested after we moved to Seattle in 2010 and got pulled in by the 12s. They are contagious!
    • You can only listen to the same song OR watch the same movie for the rest of your life. What do you choose? 
    That sounds dreadful! One song? I don’t even get to pick a band? I feel like I’m getting better value from a 90+ movie vs. a 4-minute song so I’ll pick The Matrix.
    • What are your top 3 hobbies?
    Pool, video games, and just about anything technical (spreadsheets count, right Dan?).
    Chad, wife Jaime, daughters Hannah, Courtney, and Amelia
    • Marvel or DC?
    Marvel. No doubt.
    • Favorite season? Why?
    Spring. It’s like the rope that someone throws you to pull you out of the cold, wet, dark winter slush.
    • Beach or Mountains? Why?
    Beach! You don’t have to climb a beach.

  • Best advice I’ve ever gotten:

  • Don’t eat yellow snow.

    • Something that your mother/father said to you when you were little that you now say to your kids (or did when they were younger.)
    Close the window/door! I’m not paying to heat/cool the entire neighborhood!

    Friday, November 30, 2018

    Constructive Connections--Part 9

    Constructive Connections is a fiction series.  They are beginning tales of how each person is crafted by God to fulfill a purpose, to enhance the narrative of life.  By contributing unique talents to serve one another, a tower God calls us to construct begins to form for His joy.


    Image result for 1975 tricycle images

    The crunch of metal echoes in my ears.  It has been over 40 years, yet I hear the sound every time I start up the car. 

    Being part of the 80/20 split, I find myself among the 20 in my church.  20% of the attenders of a church do the volunteer work, 80% don’t volunteer at all.  It’s strange, but this has been an across the board phenomena in so many churches, it is almost formula.  I began serving at a church when I was a teenager, just after a significant incident in my life, and have been serving full time since retirement.  I don’t remember ever not serving…accept before the trike. 

    A woman came into the food bank the other day.  Her hair was stringy, bags hung below her eyes, she looked like many of those who have come through our distribution lines before.  I handed her a bag of apples with no more than a glance. 

    “Oh.  No thank you,” she said to me, looking around.  “Can I talk to…uh…the manager or leader or priest or someone?”

    Another whiner was all I could think.  “Why?  What is it that we don’t have this week?” I’ll admit; I grunted.

    “Um,” she stuttered and held up a box in front of her face.  “I have these.  These soaps to give out.  My son,” she stopped, her eyes dropped, then she took a deep breath and blew out her mouth, “My son wanted to donate these soaps to the homeless,” she spat out so fast I hardly understood.

    I went back to packing apples into paper bags.  “We don’t like that word here.  Food insecure is the term.  Not homeless.  Homeless is an assumption.”

    “I’m sorry,” she said.  “I have some soap to give out to people……food insecure homeless people.” I appreciated her half-effort to be politically correct.

    “Soap?”  I said inspecting the box.  The woman explained that they were in the shape of bear paws.  Then I saw the sign on the box, “Paws For Your Paws”.  Hate puns; I didn’t get it.

    She held onto the box as I tried to take it from her, but she did not let go.  “I’d…I’d like to hand them out...if you don’t mind?”

    A willing volunteer?  Don’t come across those every day.  “I’ll get you an apron,” I said and hunted around for some extra gloves.  I set her up next to my station and the apples.  By then a line had formed and people were getting cranky.  She was awkward.  She’d give out a soap, then tear up.  Then she’d give out another and turn around to take a deep breath.  Then Sabine came through. 

    “Morning, Sabine,” I said avoiding eye contact.  She’s always talking to me.  Weird thing is, she only comes to get whatever I’m giving out. 

    “Good glorious morning, Jacob,” she said with her sickly sweet chipper voice.  “I see we have a new volunteer!” she said as she held out her ring-covered hand.  Could never figure out why she comes to get food when she could sell off one of those gaudy rings to help pay for groceries.

    The lady took Sabine’s hand to shake; I guess I never got her name.  “Hi, would you like some soap my son made?”

    “Oh my! How clever!  But first, please tell me your name, Dear?”

    “Cody…um, sorry.  That was my son’s name.  I’m Kari.  His mom.  He made these, and I’m giving them like he wanted me to give them out…to you…to them,” she stuttered so badly.  Drugs.  I always assume drugs, then I find out about people later.  Probably not the best way to judge, but it is a boundary judgment I put up intentionally. 

    “You said was, dear Kari,” Sabina said grabbing her hand once again and looking like she was going to start crying or something. 

    “Yes.  Cody died.  He was 15.  Two years ago.”  I was surprised that she didn’t bawl after she said it.  Sabine did, however.  She covered her face with her jeweled hands and let out a howl!

    “Keep it down, Sabine!”  I hushed at her.

    “Oh Jacob,” she said and grabbed my hand and Kari’s hand.  “We need to pray for this dear woman!  She has just lost her son!”

    I didn’t pull my hand away.  I just looked at it and said, “But it was two years ago.  She didn’t just lose him.”

    She looked at me and squeezed my hand tightly.  “But Jacob, doesn’t it feel like just yesterday when Charlie had his accident?”

    I yanked my hand away in shock.  How did she know about Charlie?  She couldn’t have known, I’ve never told anyone at church, none of my neighbors, nobody.  It was over 40 years ago, for heaven’s sake!  My chest tightened, my stomach still healing from surgery made me double over.  Picturing all the sutures pulling apart under my shirt, I howled as pain shot through my body and I went down.  It was like crashing waves crushing my entire body.  I’ve never experienced such pain in my life!

    “Oh, Sweet Jesus…” was all I heard as I blacked out. 

    The next thing I knew, I felt like I was trying to resurface from underwater.  As I flailed, the nurses grabbed my arms.  “You are safe, you are in the hospital.  You have had an accident.”  Apparently, I had blacked out when I hit my head on the concrete.  I did pop a few stitches, much to my doctor’s distress.  He reminded me again to stop doing so much and take it easy.  Put me on bedrest, of all things!  I told him about how many jobs I did at the church and how they wouldn’t get done if I wasn’t there.  He wrote on a prescription form:  STAY IN BED-LITTLE TO NO ACTIVITY.

    A few hours later, Sabine came into my room.  “Oh, Jacob!  I am so thankful you are OK! I thought you had a heart attack!”

    “How did you know about Charlie?” I croaked. 

    “Well…I was there that day,” she said in a low voice.  “I was babysitting little Charlie Kline when he got away from me on his tricycle.  I screamed for him to stop, but he was peddling that three-wheeler so fast, I couldn’t outrun him,” she looked down and held my hand.  “He’s still alive, you know.  I visit him at the group home on Sundays.  I remember every day, but I also call on Jesus every day.  When I saw you at church a few years ago, I watched.  You buzzed around from this serving to that serving, all the while not smiling.  Recognizing your pain, it reflected my own.  We both lost our teen innocence that day, but we gained a heap of regret that holds us hostage.”

    Tears welled and spilled.  The sobbing from both of us hurt; a good hurt. 

    “You cannot outrun the pain by serving others, my friend,” she whispered.  “I’ve formed a small group with the church’s guidance for people in our stage of grief.  Accidental injury or death haunts.  The only way out of the haunted house is to open the door and let others in.”

    I was forced to stop running from the pain.  We are told to carry each other’s burdens; this was the first time I understood just a little deeper.

    Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
    Galatians 6:2

    Tuesday, November 20, 2018

    AC3 VB193 Gratitude

    Check out this weeks video blog as Dan discusses gratitude in our current culture. Enjoy :)

    Thankful Matters

    “Thankful Matters”

    I was about 5 or 6, we had made hats and headdresses out of construction paper; glued and colored on brown paper bags. This was to be the big production of the century, teaching everyone about the first Thanksgiving was very important after all, and it was a remarkable pageant, I am sure of it, based on the raging applause. Flash forward a few decades (OK 4 decades is more than a few) I now know of the truth of what came of the relationship between the Native Americans and the settlers. Sadly, much of it was not to be remembered fondly. However, does that change the original sentiment of thanksgiving? I think not.

    In a time where many traditions of holiday festivities and family gatherings are broken or non-existent, is there still a place for the sentiment behind Thanksgiving? We are for all our weaknesses, faults, and irreconcilable differences, a nation of people built from a variety of places with different values and beliefs. We have had our troubles with political scandals, fallen leaders, and crimes against our humanity, but we are still here and proud to call it our country.

    Our forefathers declared us to be “One Nation Under God” and though even that sentiment is under attack in this day and age, we are still “One Nation”. I am a believer; I fully accept that there is a God and that Jesus Christ is my redeemer. I am proud of my country, despite my not always agreeing with everyone, I love that I have the right to disagree peacefully and with respect. You may not be in alignment with me or my beliefs, but I humbly respect you for who you are and what you believe.

    You might have a big family and friends gathering this Thanksgiving, or a football party, or dining alone, or maybe even looking for a free meal at the mission, you have something to be thankful for. You might be looking back at a hard year or a great one, whichever it is there is still something to be thankful for. And you might even be in a place of brokenness, pain, or loss; even here there is something to be thankful for. You matter, we all matter, there are no mistakes. Whether you are a believer or not, I will profess that you are loved, you are never alone, and nothing nor nobody can take that away from you because God doesn’t quit, He doesn’t leave, He is with you and loves you always, even when you don’t love yourself.

    This is the root behind the sentiment of the first Thanksgiving; we are humans and every man, woman, and child regardless of where we come from, we all matter and that is what drove these two very different peoples to come together and share what they had. Not what separates us, but what connects us.

    Lord, God I thank you for all the color and variety you have placed in this world. I thank you that we are not all the same, but for all our differences we still matter to you. I pray a blessing over our country as they look toward this holiday that is all about being thankful. I ask that you guide their hearts to see all that you have blessed them with and know they are loved.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone, however you may celebrate it. I pray for it to be a safe and thankful time.

    ~Written by Christian Love

    Thursday, November 15, 2018

    Who's Who at AC3-Braeden Crain

    In our mission to be a safe church for seekers, we sometimes hear those attending say that they don't know who someone is. We want you to get to know the faces you see around AC3. We are starting with the Triad, and last time we introduced you to Rick Thiessen. Next up, we have Braeden Crain, our Youth Director.

    Questions: Spiritually-minded
    • How I clear my mind after a challenging day:
    If you had asked me a year ago my answer would be different… I would never have had imagined myself saying this but these days I clear my mind best when I go for a run. A good 3 mile run gets my mind straightened out usually. 
    •  Advice to a person of faith dealing with a broken relationship with their church:
    Don’t give up. People are broken, the church is not perfect and people hurt people. But don’t give up on Christ’s bride. Be a peacemaker and seek out resolution and restitution. Find a trusted friend to walk the path with you and a mentor to guide you through it. 
    Braeden and her husband, Brandon
    • When I declared I was going to walk along with God, instead of away from him:
    I was seven years old, sitting next to my dad in church. I have a Bible that I wrote down my commitment to him. Pretty cool to be able to look back on that and see the faith I had as a young child. Helps me remember what my faith should look like today. 
    • Change I’d like to see among Christians today:
    Oh gosh, let's not go down that rabbit trail. There will always be things we need to change. We will never be perfect. Each person has their own journey and their own struggles. I don’t know that I could name one single thing that needs to change for “all Christians”. 
    • Moment I saw significant change in my servant life:
    My first global leadership summit I ever attended I heard a women speak who completely changed the way I look at service. Mother Maggie was her name. It’s hard to describe the impact she had on me, if you weren’t there. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the presence of someone who radiates Christ… When she walked up to speak the whole room was silent and you could just feel it… I felt like it would be similar to being in the room with Mother Teresa. Anyways after she was done speaking I came away thinking “With all that Jesus has done for me, why would I not give him every ounce of everything I have? Every minute, every ounce of energy, every dollar, why would I not give it to him?” And since then that has been my motto. 
    • How I found my way to AC3:
    My family was looking for a church, and my mom new some of the founding members from Smokey Point Community Church. She actually played basketball with Rick on the weeknights. Anyways we found them when they were meeting at the hotel (before the school years) and we fell in love and never left. Now AC3 is my family. 
    • Advice I’d give to Younger Me:
    Relax. And try not to get diabetes
    • Gifting I most admire:
    Humble and gentle leadership.
    • Favorite serving experience: 
    I love Love LOVE serving in all the areas I currently serve. But probably my favorite experience ever was doing lights and building sets for some of our bigger shows like Imagine Christmas. It was just an absolute blast.
    • What I tell others about serving:
    I don’t know that I tell people things… but I guess if someone were to ask me “hey, tell me about serving” I’d say something like…: Serving requires a constant examination of your heart and motives. If you can get that in the right place and serve for the right reasons, you will grow more in your walk with Christ then you ever would just sitting in a chair listening to a sermon. (No offense to the awesome people who teach sermons…)
    • 3 disciplines/habits that keep me connected to community:
    Accountability with my small group/mentor, serving in the church, attending weekly services. The last one seems like a given but honestly if I don’t show up on the weekends when everyone else is here, I disconnect very quickly.
    • 3 disciplines/habits that keep me connected to God: 
    Prayer, Scripture study along with journaling, meeting consistently with a mentor

    Questions: Secular-minded

    • What book left a lasting impression on you?
    Beautiful Outlaw. Very cool to be able to learn more about the personality of Jesus.
    • If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
    Kraft thick and creamy mac and cheese… mmmm….
    • There is a zombie apocalypse...What is your weapon of choice?
    hm. Shot guns always seem to work well in those zombie shows.
    • What is your dream vacation?
    1 month, somewhere tropical, learning to surf!
    • You have a day with NOTHING planned and no responsibilities! What do you do? 
    Sit on my couch with my dog and do nothing. Or go to the beach.
    • What is the last thing you binge-watched? 
    Currently binge watching Hawaii five-o. I think I’m on season 5.
      Braeden, husband Brandon, son Crosby, and daughter Charlie
    • Morning person or night owl? 
    • What is your favorite sport to watch? Team to follow?
    Football. Seahawks.
    • You can only listen to the same song OR watch the same movie for the rest of your life. What do you choose? 
    I boycott this question… I don’t want to choose…
    • What are your top 3 hobbies?
    Is being a mom a hobby? I feel like that counts as 3.
    I like my dog, is that a hobby?
    Or running… but that’s more just cause I wanna be healthy and not lose my toes due to necrosis.
    Or maybe it's sarcasm. That’s it. Sarcasm’s my hobby. 
    • Marvel or DC?
    I don’t care… I love both types of movies. Why do I have to choose?
    • Favorite season? Why?
    Winter. Cause Christmas, duh.
    • Beach or Mountains? Why?
    Beach. I do love the mountains, the snow, the rivers, the lakes, the hiking. But the beach has my heart. The sand, the smell, the power of the waves. My soul is at peace when I’m there.

    Monday, November 12, 2018

    Seattle the Musical-Week 3-The Cutting Edge Washingtonian


    “Ding... (seconds later) … “ding” … “ding”. OK, it must be important; I mean it’s a three “dinger” right? “HAH, that’s so funny! A cartoon of someone trying to work and their phone keeps going off distracting them from their task…hey, wait a minute…” Sounds familiar right? I have been around technology for over three decades; each year it has succeeded in working harder and harder to pull me away from what I need to be doing, want to be doing, and should be doing. Interesting enough, I even sell technology product: Salesperson #1225824 or something like that anyway.

    We even have fancy titles. I am a Solutions Specialist; it is my job to help you find the technology that will be the perfect solution to whatever challenge you are facing. If you are thinking, “there is no perfect solution” or “technology is bad because ___” (fill in the blank); you may be right. However, while it is true technology is not the way to find the “perfect” solution, it can be also true that technology can be a source of great darkness and distraction; does all this make technology inherently wrong or evil?

    Jesus is the only true and perfect solution to all of life’s problems, challenges, and pitfalls. He even declared this himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6-7). According to the Bible, there are many things we are told to avoid and stay away from. Sin is sin and there is nothing to debate about that. There are times when we are weak, there are times when we need healing, there are times when we are broken, and we all need to be forgiven for our sinful ways.

    So, you might be asking, how might Jesus respond to the technology so readily available today? Jesus in his great commission tells us “…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). I fully believe that this is our number one job here on earth; to go forth and make more disciples. Leading others to see, know, and accept God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit; there is no greater purpose.

    The freedom I crave to go and spread the word of Christ can be hampered by the obligations of family, community, and yes work. So how can I “go forth”? You may have guessed it by now: Technology. If you are still reading this, you have already seen me at work for the kingdom of God. I can use technology for good through blogging, posting good messages on social media such as my “November 30 days of Thankful” or scripture used in an appropriate way; not in a way that judges others for not reposting it on their timeline (“You don’t really love Jesus if you don’t repost this”). Sure, I get a laugh from a witty meme and the occasional pun, but instead of spreading darkness, this very same technology can be used for good, spreading love, kindness, and the message of God’s love for us.

    One of the most misquoted scriptures in the Bible is in 1Timothy regarding money…it does not say “money is the root of all evil”, it says, “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Like money, which is an inanimate object, a tool with no ill intent; so too is technology. It is only when placed in the hands of all mankind does the good or evil intent come to life. You can use the technology, or it can use you… you can choose to turn off the notifications when you are trying to focus, you can propagate positivity, love, and promote the kingdom of God. Or you can let the darkness take over and succumb to the distractions, forward the posts that spread judgment, anger, or discord.

    “Ding” … “ding” …Ok that’s it! I am signing out for now and turning off my phone’s notifications. I have work to do. Lord, I pray you will help me to resist the distractions I am too weak to resist on my own. Help me to be a positive force for your kingdom and to not spread anything that is not of you. Show me the way I can use technology to glorify you. AMEN.

    ~Written by Christian Love

    Monday, November 5, 2018

    Seattle the Musical-Week 2-The Independent Washington

    Recently, I was on an airplane for a two and a half hour flight. I had magazines, my Kindle, movies, and the plan of a nap to make the time go quickly. I found myself on the aisle seat, and to my left was a young man in his late 20s engaged in conversation with his work colleague on his other side. As the plane got to cruising altitude, the two gentlemen gradually ceased talking, tho I had picked up on some of their conversation. I mean, come on…it’s hard not to eavesdrop when you share an armrest.

    As I had to get up to let the widow seat passenger out to use the restroom, the guy next to me noticed he’d read the book I was reading, and I got a chance to talk to the guy beside me. For a split second, I saw the situation from the outside: a suburban grandma in her 50s and a 28-year-old, well dressed, edgy young man. Why would he want to talk to me? I’m going to look nosy. He’s going to roll his inner eyes at me. Still, I asked him about their music conversation, and he was happy to tell me about their discussion. Not just that, but the bands he likes, his sister’s nursing school in Minnesota, the strength of character of his mom, the 80 pounds he lost (that was a surprise!) his first job failure and the existential crisis that caused before he righted himself and created the life he loves. In fact, before I knew it, the landing gear was lowering and we were home.

    The plane ride ended with him promising to email me the list of books he recommended and referring to me as “His friend, Lori” to the colleague who woke up from napping. It turns out that Sam had moved to the Seattle area from Florida after college. And though we talk about it in church circles and in our community, he mentioned how real the Seattle Freeze is, and what a struggle it had been for him. About how hard it is to even make eye contact with the neighbors who live in his building. Apparently, there is not only a lack of available women per men in the dating scene, but there is also a lack of available community in which to enter. As I have pondered this in the few weeks since Sam and I met, it has caused me to wonder about why this is. What are we afraid of? In the end, I think we are both afraid of and proud of the wrong things.

    First of all, we are afraid of intruding, right?? I mean, if I see my neighbor struggling with crutches to carry in her groceries, and then I offer to help her, might I seem nosy? Will she wonder why I was watching her? Will she think I am trying to sell her something? I think we are all afraid of being lonely, yet we are proud of not needing anyone. This is confusing, to say the least.

    A couple of years ago we had a situation where the mail in our neighborhood kept getting stolen. I decided the solution would be to get one of those locking mailbox towers, so I called the post office to investigate. It turns out the neighbors must organize and pay for this themselves. Oh man, I would have to track down my neighbors, get money out of them and get them to agree to this. The neighbors I never talk to, and some of whom I’ve never even seen. And not just a couple of them, 15 of them! I only know a couple of my neighbors, so this was extremely daunting.

    I started with leaving flyers on doors, asking them to contact me to let me know if they were interested. Knowing how much we avoid contact with someone we don’t know, I allowed them to respond by calling me, emailing, texting me or simply responding on the flyer and putting it on my porch in a box I left there for that reason. I mean, if they wanted, they could do this with zero conversation, or they could choose to engage.

    I remember the situation with one woman in my neighborhood in particular. I was walking toward her house with a flyer as she was unloading her groceries. The look of terror as she realized I was coming toward her was almost funny. In fact, she was trying to hurry up and grab all of her groceries at once so she could close the garage door behind her. As I approached her, she started moving faster and faster. I finally had to call out that I wasn’t selling anything, but that I was her neighbor. The ironic thing is that once we relaxed and had a good discussion, she complained about the fact that they had lived in their home for eight years and didn’t know any of their neighbors; that this neighborhood was cold and kept to themselves. I wonder if she heard herself.

    Yes, I think we’re afraid of intruding. We’re afraid of the messiness of others’ lives, and don’t want any more stress than we already have. We are afraid of people intruding into our lives, and judging the way we keep our lawns, kitchens, marriages, and children. It’s easier to avert your eyes when you pull up in the driveway at the same time as your neighbor. Best not to risk awkwardness.

    But we also value the wrong things. We value the perceived strength there is in complete independence. I would rather drive myself to the emergency room than depend on someone else to do it for me. We incorrectly value extreme self-reliance. We confuse isolation for independence, coldness for strength invisibility for self-sufficiency, and drawn curtains for healthy boundaries. If I never see my neighbor, that means he’s rightly minding his own business and taking care of himself. We assume a manicured lawn and clean car are evidence of a healthy life. We’re taught early on to keep our eyes on our own paper. We admire that here.

    Meanwhile, people are starving for attention without knowing how to get it. I don’t think we know how to engage with one another without trying to prove something at the same time. Who we are quickly becomes what we do, and people never get to know us beyond that. Still, Jesus called us to relationship, not small talk.

    So here’s the thing, as Christians who care deeply about those around us as Jesus did, how do we overcome this over-independence? The days of neighborhood block parties and Tupperware parties are gone, and we really don’t know where we’re welcomed. Sometimes, all we have to do is look up. Look up to the person walking by, and acknowledge them. There are so many people who are lonely, who don’t feel ‘seen’. Simply seeing people and acknowledging them is something. Saying hello. Asking people how they are, and inviting them to talk about themselves. It turns out there is really no substitute or shortcut for listening. No formula for making people feel valued other than valuing them. No other way to make them feel cared about than caring about them.

    Jesus was radical this way. He encountered people all the time who he invited into his community. And guess what? Not everyone accepted. He risked rejection, and he risked people judging him and questioning his motives. But he saw people, valued them and cared about them. And they felt it. In this day of valuing independence and self-sufficiency, it is radical to look up, see people, be there for them and to become approachable ourselves. 

    ~Written by Lori Caperoon

    Who's Who at AC3-Rick Thiessen

    In our mission to be a safe church for seekers, we sometimes hear those attending say that they don't know who someone is. We want you to get to know the faces you see around AC3. We are starting with the Triad, and last time we introduced you to Sarah Ade. Next up, we have Rick Thiessen, our Senior Pastor.

    Questions: Spiritually-minded
    • How I clear my mind after a challenging day:
    I usually unwind on my Kindle, some games and recreational reading.

    •  Advice to a person of faith dealing with a broken relationship with their church:

    Don’t avoid the “Tunnel of Chaos”.  Broken relationships tend to stay broken because we live with a tolerable amount of awkwardness and pain that we suppress.  Moving past this means a temporary bump up in the pain and awkwardness as we approach rather than avoid the person, by committing to examine ourselves, and speak the hard truth in love.  So that’s the “tunnel”. But as we all know about tunnels, there’s light on the other side!
    • Change I’d like to see among Christians today:
    Reject the lure of pleasures and worries to live radically and sacrificially for Kingdom priorities now, not “someday”.
    • How I found my way to AC3:
    As a 27 year old youth pastor in Arlington, I was invited to be the senior pastor of AC3 by 2 courageous couples in Marysville (the Holland’s and Getty’s) who had already formed the core of a vision for a church for the unchurched.  It took me a while to say yes for many reasons, but AC3 has become my life’s work and God has blessed that risk we took over and over in hundreds of changed lives.
    • Advice I’d give to Younger Me:
    Your wife is always right!
    • Gifting I most admire:
    Mercy or Administration.  These people baffle me with their wizardry around people or details.  What kind of magic is this? Oh, right, the Holy Spirit!
    • 3 disciplines/habits that keep me connected to community:
    a. Commit to a small group. b. Get real in the small group or else it’ll die or grow stale c. See a & b
    • 3 disciplines/habits that keep me connected to God: 

    1. I prayer journal.  Besides a regular time of prayer on my knees in the morning, I write out prayers and significant dreams and spiritual musings a few times a week.  It helps both reveal and cement what the Holy Spirit is saying, doing or changing in me. 2. I read the Bible every morning when I walk the dog.  I’m reading the Old Testament thru this year. 3. I take a once a year (or so) spiritual retreat.  Usually three days, just me, my journal, a bible and a couple of books.
      Questions: Secular-minded
      • What book left a lasting impression on you?
      I’m sorry to be so cliché, but it must be Lewis.  I’ll try to be slightly original and say that Problem of Pain probably outranks Mere Christianity in its formation on my thinking.  You know an author has had a lasting impression on you when you can’t tell which thoughts you read and which are yours.
      • If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
      Rick, wife-Johnna, sons-Joren and Jaden,
      daughters-in-law-Becca and Ariel
      • There is a zombie apocalypse...What is your weapon of choice?
      Does Fallout Shelter count as a weapon?
      • Beach or Mountains? Why? 
      Cannon Beach may be my favorite place on the planet (and I’ve been places!) so I’ll say beach.
      • Favorite season? Why? 
      Fall and Spring.  Temperate weather, and change.  I love change.
      • What is your idea of a dream vacation? 
      Being with my extended family for a week or two with nothing to do but joint outings, games, movies, great food and watching the grandkids (and great-grandkids) play together.
      • You have a day with NOTHING planned and no responsibilities!     What do you do? 
      First, marvel at the unique miracle that just occurred. 
        Rick, wife-Johnna, daughters-Layla and Marley
      • What is the last thing you binge-watched?
      Lost in Space!  (The Netflix version – Robbie’s robot has changed!)
      • Morning person or night owl? 
      Yes, all that.
      • What is your favorite sport to watch? Team to follow?
      Sing it with me: Da… Hawks, Da Hawks, Da Hawks, Da Hawks, Da Hawks!
      • You can only listen to the same song OR watch the same movie for the rest of your life. What do you choose?
      I guess I choose a movie, and make it “Saving Private Ryan” because a 3 minute bit on repeat would get a lot older faster than a 2 ½ hour epic story.
      • What are your top 3 hobbies? 
      Basketball, Golf & my backyard