Monthly Archives: January 2011

I wanted to share the article below with you. This is a special one for me. The author is a little girl that I babysat years ago, who is now a beautiful woman steeped in ministry at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I babysat Astrid and her siblings over 10 years ago while their mom recovered from surgery and again during a trip to Hawaii. It was a short stint in their lives, but God imbedded Astrid in my heart. He would bring her to rememberance and I would pray for her many, many times over the years. You may feel all alone sometimes, but you never know whose heart God is putting YOUR name on.

Astrid – God has a plan, purpose and destiny for you that you can only begin to grasp. Hold on tight to His promises for your life and know that a pastor’s wife in Vancouver will hold you up in prayer! Many blessings, woman of God!

Sweet Wedded Chaos
January 24th 2011

By Astrid Olsen

As a woman, especially a single one, I love weddings. More than the actual wedding, however, I love waking up the day before. I rise super early and watch the sunlight stream through my bedroom. I imagine the bride as she too wakes up and drinks in the quiet before the chaos begins, embracing the moment’s promises before crawling out of bed.

Despite the busyness, the boutonnieres, and the thousand other errands, the bride knows that in the end, all will fade away. The chaos may easily distract her, but deep in her heart she knows her time as a single woman is limited. Someone has chosen her. Someone loves her. Yes, life will continue to be messy, but at least for the wedding day, she can simply enjoy the beauty of it all and focus on him.

Today is alive with the promise of tomorrow.

Already but not yet
Similar to the day before a wedding, the Christian life is a state of “already but not yet;” I anticipate eternally worshipping my Father, but I get bogged down in mundane daily projects: bills to be paid, books to be read, etc. I’d like to think someday I’ll overcome life’s busy details and be able to focus solely on God, but heartbreakingly, it’s not possible.

I’m reminded of Anne Milner’s quote, “The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life.” My life was completed at the Cross: Jesus saved me, and the rest of life is walking with him and depending on him. However, if I’m not careful, it will pass away quicker than my lists can form. Life isn’t going to suddenly simplify. I must find a way to worship right where I am, right in the middle of what I’m doing.

The challenge is that like a bride, as I run around, I remember Jesus. Even more than an anthem or running theme of my life, Jesus is central—his will and his glory are central. He’s the heartbeat of who I am, the joyous song on repeat in my soul. This earthly “engagement” only lasts so long, and although right now life’s detailed, messy, and chaotic, it’s still his.

Regardless of how stressful the “wedding” details are, all that matters is him. In the midst of chaos, I think about him, find joy in him, look for his hand, and focus on our future: life in his Kingdom. I don’t neglect life in pursuit of the Kingdom, but I recognize life as his and worship through what I’m doing. I live in anticipation of worshipping him “live,” but until then, I fight to worship him in my here and now.

One of the most fun and unique parts of our church is that we currently have 17 children represented on our staff team. That is nearly 10% of our church just on our staff kids! It is our constant consideration in all of our decisions…as you can imagine! It also changes the way we lead. The simple fact is that if we want husband and wife teams in ministry, we need a plan for children at every service, staff meeting, retreat, etc.

These awesome kids are at our church (on a weekly basis) for three services and some of them at youth services as well. They are at worship practice, staff meetings, and all activities. Because of this issue we do several things to ease the weight of being pastor’s kids and to make it fun. Here’s some ways that we manage:

1. Our kids attend one kid’s service, “work” one service, and play in “the Lounge” for one service. Every once in a while we have them attend an additional service to be with a friend, but most of the time we give them the freedom to choose where they want to be.
2. Our kids come in and out of staff meeting “family” style. Yes, it’s distracting sometimes, but it’s the reality we are living in. Even with a babysitter, there are still times when a child needs a parent…particularily incidents involving duct tape…that’s another post! We often times have a baby sitting on a lap and a toddler asleep on the couch…we just keep working through it because a greater value than order is having men and women at the table and without constantly sending our kids off to be cared for by other people while we “do” ministry.
3. The Lounge is a room dedicated to taking a break. There’s a huge TV, popcorn, video games, toys, coloring books, etc. It’s OK if our kids are just playing during one of our church services. As long as they attend one service a weekend, they have the opportunity to hang out with their friends and just have a good time. Often times I walk in the lounge and six kids are lined up on the couch as tight as sardines!
4. Our kids fight like brothers and sisters, but they also care for each other like brothers and sisters. Many of them have been around each other since birth or toddlerhood. As a staff, we correct, love, laugh with, and reprimand each other’s kids all of the time. Those kids have about 6 sets of parents wherever they go. We all take responsibility for each other’s children when we see them doing something good or naughty!

I realize that the chaos that surrounds our team isn’t for every situation, but it’s one of my favorite parts of North Creek. I love those kids and I want nothing more than for them to LOVE church planting and ministry. There are seasons when I am sure that’s not the case, but I hope the memories they are creating together will wash away the hard parts! I look forward to the days when God calls them to their own mission, when they fall in love (perhaps with each other), and when the future looks different because they are molding it! Our kids have always been on the front lines of ministry and they always will be…

I was talking to a former student, who is now a pastor, this week about what to do when you get THAT email that just knocks you down. You know the one…it’s something you did, said, or tried that rubbed someone the wrong way. Although your intentions were pure, that email made you feel like you were the lowest creature on the planet. The simplest of comments (in your mind) has seemed to stir up a litany of offenses that have become the talk of the Women’s Bible Study…for some of you, this is all too familiar!

If you are in ministry, the bad news is that it’s part of the deal. It’s too public of a leadership position not to tick people off on a regular basis, even when you’re trying not to. The good news is that great emails are part of the deal, too. And the only way that you’ll make it in this gig is to give partial credit to both kinds.

You simply can’t ruin your life over a critical email and you also can’t measure your worth on the kind emails. They are both relative to the moment. Make a different decision and the same people who were singing your praises will be criticizing your comments. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow, but if you don’t believe me, just read Paul’s letters to the churches in the New Testament. Same problems, different century. We work with people. And people offend each other ALL of the time.

For those of you who want to sit down and type that critical email…just remember this…you offend people just as much as the person who offended you. You are made of the same flesh and if you can keep that in mind, you’re bound to have more grace for your offender. What if you let go of the offense and typed that email about everything you love about that person? Which one would go over better? Sometimes the answer will be that the issue needs to be dealt with, but more often than not, focusing on people’s strengths and assuming the best will be the road that gets you to the destination you prefer.

Now I’ve gotta go check my email and see what kind of day I’m having…just kidding.

This was the final weekend of our series called “In Christ Alone”. It was literally a four week series on Romans 8. Yep, one chapter, four sermons. And I think you could literally preach 40 sermons on just this chapter if you wanted to! It’s a big and important chapter to grasp as Christians. Keep reading, keep chewing on it, keep trying to understand! It’s part of the fun of being a follower of Jesus.

A shout out to our worship team! Corey is introducing new songs, new techy stuff, and new systems! It’s a lot of work for everybody, but you are sounding great! The effort will pay off as we watch a generation call out to God through music. I love you all and am proud of your willingness to try new things and never stop growing. Way to go!

Congrats to Jim and Sarah Gilliam for launching “The Link” church this weekend! They are friends of ours and we wish them the best down this long and amazing journey of starting a church. I am sure they are near comatose today, but will be ready to do it all again in 6 days!

We had several new families visit us this weekend. It’s always fun to meet new people and hear their stories! Thanks for joining us.

Read this on Facebook: Hands down North Creek Church Has the best youth ministry around!! Big Thanks too Rachael Yonko and Kris Gray for letting God work through you for this youth of today!! What a great group of girls I have at my house today!! ♥♥

We are so blessed with awesome volunteers. I am always amazed at the hearts of people who serve with 100% of what they have. Thank you for helping us, not only in the walls of our church, but outside as well!

Yesterday was a long day for me…aren’t you glad that God lets us start fresh everyday? I sure am!

One of the ironies of a good leader is that they give all of the credit to their team (or entire organization), but when the shoes drops, they take all of the blame. It’s counterintuitive from our human nature, at best, but it’s what sets a sub-par leader apart from a great leader.

It’s much easier to say, “We’re growing because I am a good leader” than “We aren’t growing because I am a bad leader”. So often on the journey of leadership, I have seen leaders grab the best of both worlds…”We’re growing because I am a good leader” and then, when the decline begins, it turns to “We’re not growing because our people just don’t get it”. In the leadership world, a good leader gives their people all of the credit for success, but if things aren’t going well it’s completely and squarely on their shoulders. They understand that “if the people don’t get it”, that is their fault!

This may seem unfair, but if God has given you the mandate to steer the ship, this is a ultimately a more productive method. The reason is that if the blame isn’t on you, then the solution isn’t either. If it’s your fault that something isn’t succeeding, then God will give you the wisdom and the solution to lead through it…or the humility to ask for help.

Unfortunately, the same goes for parenting (until they move out and then it’s their fault!). If my kids are out of control, there’s no one else to look at other than myself. And I find that invigorating more than depressing…most days anyway! It may put the weight of blame on my shoulders, but it also puts the opportunity to change there as well.

I hope that gives you something to think about today…what would happen if you looked at the most frustrating part of your life and said, “This situation is in my life because I let it be in my life”? Hmmmm….that would start a flurry of conversations, I’m sure. Some of you right now said, “BUT….” to your computer because you are so ready to place the blame on someone else besides yourself. The problem with that is there is nowhere to go. You can’t change anybody else, so you’re just stuck until the end of time or until they just go away. If you switch the blame to yourself, you are instantly motivated to change – if not the circumstance, then at least your perspective and response! It would also make you take a look at what it would take to walk through the valley and get back to a mountaintop.

Well, that’s a lot to chew on for a Saturday. Have fun with that! It’s my two cents…take it or leave it.