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


“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...

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


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)

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)

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.

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)

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

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.