Monthly Archives: January 2009

It’s been really fun lately on Sunday mornings at North Creek.  We are in a new building and we’ve had a flood of guests come to visit.  I find myself looking around and thinking, “Am I in the right place?”  It’s fun and refreshing to be around that much change.  Every person who walks in the door is so thrilling for me!  “Who are they?  What is their story?  What do they bring to the table?  What part will they play in our story?” 

Along with all of those questions, comes the most important question, “What is their name???” 

I work at a homeless shelter about once a  month and I met a new lady this week.  Later that night, after only meeting me once, she called me by my first name.   What a strange moment that was for me!  A woman with literally nothing but the clothes on her back made me feel so valuable.  The irony was obvious.  Social status, worldly possessions, and education faded away at that moment.  I was humbled and honored that she cared enough about me to remember my name.

I’ve heard so many people in my life say, “I’m not very good with names!”  And I don’t buy it for a minute.  I don’t buy it because I used to say that, but after realizing how valuable people’s names are, I decided to work on it.  And the result has been stunning.  I simply look at people for what they are now…important.  So important that I work very hard to remember them…and to pray for them throughout the week.  People are valuable and I want them to feel that way!

Not only am I working on it, but North Creek Church as a whole works on it!  Collectively we try very hard to remember people and get their names down.  We are not perfect at it, but our stats are pretty good!  And rarely does a Sunday go by where I don’t hear the phrase, “Man!  You remembered my name!  That’s the third person to call me by name and I’ve only been here one week!” 

I know in that moment, that just as my new friend at the homeless shelter had my attention, that we have theirs.  Not because we are the perfect church, but because we know that people are important and valuable.  And the old song from the sitcom Cheers runs through my brain…”where everybody knows your name…”  How funny that we are in an old bar!

I feel like God is standing behind me lately.  His deep and wide voice is piercing me like a steel pipe through my chest.  His voice, as steady and resounding as any voice you will ever hear, saying, “Just decide.”

Flashback to three years ago.  As we decided to plant a church, we made so many decisions so fast that our heads were spinning.  Our plan was set in motion and we committed to give everything we had to this idea of a church that was even foreign to us.  We were going to abandon some of our own traditions, ideals, wants and needs in order to foster an environment for those that didn’t know Jesus.  We were going to give people the opportunity to ask questions, learn, grow, even decide not to follow Christ.  Our world and everything about our church would not be focused on those of us who had been on the journey with Christ for a long time, but rather we would lay down our needs and love people unconditionally.

The irony is that when you make a decision about who you are, you also make a decision about who you are not.  I’ve been wrestling for the last couple of months because I can sense that as our church fills up with an assortment of people from every end of the spectrum of the line of faith, that just deepens the line that we drew nearly three years ago. 

As the line deepens, it becomes clear that we cannot meet everyones needs and desires.  This is probably the most painful part of leadership for me.  Because we know who we are, we automatically aren’t right for some people!  How can this be?  The core of who I am wants to then bend and twist our values to accomodate everyone, but when leaders do that, what is lost is the framework and the mission that you started with.  YOU SIMPLY CAN’T BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE! 

And we’re back to that voice in my head…”Just decide.  Just decide.  Just decide.”  With great resolve, we have decided.  I love the fact that people of any walk of life are welcome in our church.  I love the honesty and the basic questions that people asking.  I love watching our long-time Christians being challenged, not by men’s breakfasts and women’s Bible studies, but rather because they are being asked to tell someone the story of Jesus for the first time.

I love North Creek.  With all of it’s flaws and imperfections, we are who we are and I like it.  I like it a lot.  And if you do, too, that’s awesome, but if you don’t, let me be the first to say, “We bless you on your journey.  There are so many great churches out there and my prayer for you is that you find one that you love as much as I love our church.  Just decide.”

I read an article this morning that mothers in Sierra Leone don’t practice breast feeding and don’t have access to formula, so they pour rice water into their babies mouths to feed them.   This provides little nutritional value and leaves children susceptible to disease and death.  A child born in Sierra Leone has more than a one in four chance of not living to see his or her first birthday.  Consequently, this country has the highest mortality rate of children under 5 in the world.  Deaths of children that could so easily be avoided!

This illustration reminded me of the church today.  I know that many church attending Christians fail to read the Bible regularily.  A small passage every Sunday fed to you by your pastor is not enough to be healthy.  Just as those mothers have the means with which to feed their children, but fail to do so, we also have the means to “nourish” ourselves spiritually.  If it were possible to look into the lives of those that walk away from Jesus, I wonder how many of them simply starved themselves spiritually?

I have a burden for this topic because of the journey I’ve been on to get to love reading the Bible.  I used to struggle with the guilt of wondering if I was reading enough or getting enough out of it or if I was being reverent enough.  And then I stopped fighting so hard.  My general rule of thumb now is to read a chapter a day.  It’s so easy to do and I don’t make it more difficult than that .  I just read.  This is not a time for me to study or pray or find an answer to a problem.  I just read for the enjoyment of reading and being with Jesus. Often times I have Mark read to me.   If I want to do a Bible study or pray, I do it separately.  I put a hedge of freedom around those 5-10 minutes a day when I get to just load up on His Word. 

And what I’ve found is that many times God uses those few minutes to speak to me anyway.  He uses a verse to remind me who is in control.  He uses a verse to put me at ease when I’m stressed.  He uses a verse to strengthen my marriage.  And sometimes, He says nothing.  But no matter what happens, I know that the Word is living and active in my life and I can’t get away from it’s power once it’s poured in. 

So, where do you start?  Open the Table of Contents and start with an easier book, such as Mark.  Or one of my favorites, I and II Timothy.  Just read.  Write down questions as you go, but don’t get stuck on what you don’t understand.  Just read.  No worries, no guilt, all freedom.  Enjoy!

What a day!  It has been fun to watch the exchange of power on television this morning.  We are blessed to be in a country that celebrates democracy.  We do not have violence and an overthrow of our government, but rather we give over authority and power with grace and dignity. 

My call to arms for all of us in America is to love, support, and pray for our President.  That doesn’t mean that we need to agree, but we do need to speak appropriately when we disagree.  The weight that Obama now carries is the heaviest in the world.  Let us not be so arrogant to speak poorly of the leader that God has placed before us.  As Christians, we should commit to pray for him and to make our communities the strongest that we can. 

We also have a responsibility to speak unwaveringly about what we believe.  Each of us speaking freely of our convictions in love and with respect is the heartbeat of our great country!  So, blessings to our new leader as we forge ahead in freedom and unity!

Last night we had our first Membership Orientation of 2009!  It was an awesome event and reminded me once again why we do what we do.  There was such a diverse crowd.  We had a 21 year old man up to a grandma.  There were people who have long and rich church backgrounds and one man who read his Bible for the first time last week.  There was people that I’ve known for a very long time and those that are new to my life in the last few weeks.  I looked around the room and saw the unity that Jesus can bring to people.  Aside from the love of Christ, I’m not sure that such a group of people would find common ground, but inside the walls of our church, we gathered, ate, laughed, and learned together.

I am excited for new members of our church.  People who are committed to each other and to the growth of North Creek.  I am excited to find out what each person brings to the table and to watch God use their giftings and talents.  Each one is valuable for a different reason and each one is with us for a different purpose. 

Welcome!  We are glad to have you with us!


P.S.  Thank you to everyone who has asked about Delaney.  She is doing much better and went back to school today after a week off!