Archive for the ‘church’ Category


>Godly Leadership

In church,leadership,Proverbs on May 11, 2009 by mstevensrev

>This last weekend I went on my first ever session retreat. It was the five elders of our church locked away in the woods to discuss the big picture of what is happening at the church. We prayed, we laughed, and we got some good things done from my perspective. Here are the bullet points of what went on without the specifics:

There is a call for us to be more personally involved broadly in the life of the church.
There are situations within our church that we are seeking guidance in how to manage.
There is great opportunity for us with both church planting and training pastors.
We have a really amazing staff from full time pastors, chief musician, to operations!

Though in reflecting on it this morning I started thinking about what does leading God’s people look like and what should it look like. I know there are extremes when it comes to any practice of authority. Some think street fighters are authoritative and some think any authority is evil.

There are a few things I’m thinking and a few points I got from the Proverb I read this morning:

First authority is from God, he is the authority, and then he passes some of it on. The church is really only confirming that which is already there rather than placing it upon someone. Also it also means it is not something to be “worked” toward or stolen.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.

I am probably the most talkative on the sesson which makes me concerned about the 11:12 verse:) This does not summarize everything on Godly Leadership but it got my juices going today.



>New Phase of Life

In church,Theology on January 13, 2009 by mstevensrev

>Elected as elder at my church this past Sunday.  Here we go, hopefully the odds are for me this time:)


>How do you defend you name?

In church,Community,Theology on November 27, 2008 by mstevensrev


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One time at work a major client had a poor impression of my boss and actually referred to him a sneaky.  This cause lots of struggle for my boss and I remembering him saying to me, "Mike, all you have is your name. You work so hard to build a good one, and then like that it is in question."  I could not relate to his pain and found it amusing on one level.

Just this week I found out some news that I don’t think I was fairly represented.  How do you deal with that?  Defensiveness only makes you appear guilty, and then Paul says in 1 Cor. "sometimes maybe it is just better to be wronged".  What a powerful tool Satan uses when he allows our name to be dishonored publicly.

This is where the power of story comes in, at least I hope.  My hope in this situation is that I understand my own story well enough to communicate it in a non-defensive way.  I value the perception someone already has (right or wrong) and make it easy for them to understand my part of the whole.  Each one of these important but very tiny pieces we have of story are a part of a much greater story.  With this greater story we might know some of the major themes, but we don’t know the twists and the turns or even at times how our little piece fits into the whole.

What harm can it do?  Sometimes you might just be wronged, you don’t have to choose that as a option, but if it happens you can look to God and wink because he said it would happen.  Don’t run after suffering, it will easily enough find you, when it happens give God a wink or pull on his coat to get his attention because you will need the help to get through it.


>A marathon and another significant event

In church,family,Prayer on October 24, 2008 by mstevensrev

>Karin and I arrived in MD three days ago, after two days in my parents house we left the kids and are vacationing in Washington D.C.  To be specific we are staying in Old Town Alexandria and I am running the Marine Corp Marathon (MCM) on  Sunday when the kids and grandparents will meet up with us.  

One of the most significant moment, I felt something shift in me, was when I ran my first marathon, Big Sur, over three years ago while still living in Oakland, CA.  While running the race something changed in me and I knew that a year from that day things would be significantly different in my life.  About six months after I had resigned my job, lost my house and turned thirty years old.  Very significant.
Now I’m about to embark on my eighth marathon, and my first full day in MD I received some significant and very sad news regarding our old church in Oakland.  Thankfully since Karin and I are on our own, no work or kids, we have tons  of time to process and pray about it.  There will be pleny more for me to write on the matter at this time I am unable though.  For one I don’t know how much of the information I have is rumor and truth, I’m not confident in what direction God is taking things, I have no idea my role, and God and I are still talking (so far most of our conversation has been in passing and we need a sit down).
If you read this blog please pray.  Currently Karin and I are doing great, there is anger and sadness, but both are expected.  We are going out and having fun today.  I am very grateful for what God has done for me and my family.  We have been at arm’s length of tragedy a few times in our short life, and God has protected us from being grabbed and dragged down with it.  Being so close to tragedy isn’t fun though.


>News has similar problem as church

In church,Community,Grace Seattle,Theology on October 2, 2008 by mstevensrev


Read the news headlines about what is happening and while wild and worrisome it is not that interesting to me.  What is interesting is the story behind the story.  For instance all the economic and government drama doesn’t really add up to a hill of beans for me until today when five people from my company get laid off.  How this will impact their family, partners, and life is captivating to me, yet that is the story behind the story.  Ed Burns captures this well.

Last Sunday something inspired me during the service that was enough for me to think, “We should end church here because what just happen was amazing.”  The headline would read, Volunteer Reader doesn’t show.  But the story that God wrote behind that amazed me.

First there was a long awkward silence, that seem to last as long as a woman in labor to me and I would think everyone else that is even partially engaged in the service.  It took either the pastor complete and utter disconnection to what was happening (which I doubt) or leaders who were comfortable enough with letting it sit.  They are fully capable of stepping in and reading scripture and yet it is not their duty in that moment so an able minded/bodied person would need to step up.

The person who ended stepping up was the Children’s Minister.  Her entire life, and that of her husband, is spent filling in gaps and serving people who may never even know who they are.  They are a beautiful picture of the people who make church happen, and get very little in return.  On a side not it was also a great opportunity for me to see her great new hair cut, but it was clear that her stepping into the moment was completely about serving.

What brought tears to my eyes and a chill to my back was when she began to read and it was Phil 4, Have in you the same mind as Christ…A passage completely about selflessness and caring for others.  I could not think of a more incarnate picture than this young lady and then reading this passage in that particular circumstance.

Just as you thought God was going to return on the cloud or had because it was such a transcendent heavenly moment, as she finished reading she gracefully slipped as she walked down the steps, not a full on fall, just a trip.  Enough of a bump to remind you that the entire moment was real, and sometime real is beautiful and sometimes it is embarrassing.

In all of that I was grateful to have been around enough to know the story behind the story, and I felt sad for people who it was their first Sunday at our church.  They missed God showing up, and how hard is it to figure out if you belong in a place or understand it’s true meaning and nature when you only see the headline story.  What really matters is the story behind the story.

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>1st Communion

In church,family,Fun,Theology on December 3, 2007 by mstevensrev

>Yesterday was a very big day and an emotional one for me as Aidyn took her first communion. Now as Presbyterians we don’t have the 1st Communion thing down the way the Catholics do, but we did our best. I got to teach a six week class for the kids who ranged in age from 5-12 years old. Now that sounds like it might be challenging but it was great. The older kids I had in the class were amazing, and they younger ones I knew pretty well which included Aidyn.

So during the service yesterday the church purchased the kids beautiful ‘grown up’ Bibles. Jon the pastor prayed for them, and they came forward for the first time. What was really striking for me was the great promise this showed us. First that we are not alone as parents. Aidyn has demonstrated faith and been able to articulate her beliefs for about two years. Yet we were not in a community that was thinking about training children for worship. I know I had the authority just to make the decision, but I am really glad we waited and had an entire community invovled. Aidyn was very grateful too.

The other part that really struck me was that the three girls that were in the service to be received were very special. Of course Aidyn, then Jon & Lynn Harralson’s (pastor of Grace) oldest daughter, and Phil & Robin Peterson’s daughter familes that all sacrificed a great deal for this church and been through all the mess. As a matter of fact as I think about it now, just about all the kids who attended the class had families that had been through it in this church! It is amazing to see how God is faithful even through the hard times. There is a point as a parent where you realize that perhaps all the ambition and desires you had your whole life were wrong and perhaps the only thing God placed you on this earth to do is raise amazing kids who will change the world. In that I think God will surprising give us the desires and ambitions of our heart, but at least for me my focus has changed tons.

We celebrated with an awesome lunch with some friends, and Aidyn spend a good deal of the afternoon reading her new Bible. I am really grateful for God’s faithfulness to our family and especially Aidyn during this last year of transition. I am also very excited about all that he has in store for all of us in the future. Yesterday was a wonderful day to be reminded of these things.


>Goal Accomplished!

In church,familiy,Fun,running on November 26, 2007 by mstevensrev

>Yesterday I ran my 5th marathon. This was an ambitious goal for me alone because of the birth of Taitum and then I was really sick this past week. Not only did I finish the marathon, but I set a new PR (Personal Record). Not only did I set a new PR, but it was at my goal! My goal was to finish sub-4-hours. I finished at 3:59:42. I had a whole 18 seconds to spare:) It was an amazing day, sunny and cool, as perfect as it gets in Seattle! I am of course grateful for my bro-in-law who ran with me and inspired me along the way, and then on friend from church who joined up for the last few miles and gave me an added boost of support. Not sure what is next but it feels really good to accomplish something, and I know the circumstances are rarely perfect so we are always doing it in adversity.


>Pretty busy waiting for baby #2

In church,family,Theology on October 25, 2007 by mstevensrev

>I have not been as regular with my writing here recently because it has gotten really busy just before baby #2. Some of it is preparing, some of it is trying to get a lot in before it comes. This morning I am heading off to the dentist to have some work done. Not fun.

Anyway I was comforted last night after my Community Group by Steve Brown’s words, “The church is like a bunch of porcupines trying to hug in a wind storm.” That about sums it up.


>No black people in Seattle (Dee’s Visit Part II)

In church,family,Theology on August 29, 2007 by mstevensrev

>I couldn’t complete the story of Dee’s visit to Seattle, and actually didn’t want to because I wanted to be sure that she made it to CT. There was a thought in the back of my mind that she might end up delayed or trying to stay here. That would have been very bad with Karin being pregnant and already streched on patiences as the little tiger in her kicks her from the inside constantly.

So I’ll be sure to take some time and wrap up that story, there are a few great moments we shared with Dee this past weekend.


>Wanting to give up on the Psalms

In church,Fun,Psalms,Theology on August 29, 2007 by mstevensrev

>Not only am I end a section where each Psalm is very long, and I don’t think it will change for awhile. This Sunday Paul Schuler from Cross Sound Church camed and preached on Psalm 106 at our church. It was amazing. He has been a minister for 26 years, and the insight he has into God’s word and how it applies in a practical way to our lives was amazing. I wanted to hang up my writing for twenty years and come back to then.

Paul is an amazing pastor and man. He has eight kids!! Eight kids!! Ranging in age from 4 years old to 26 years old! He has a wonderful presence that is filled with gentleness. I used to say that as soon as he steps up to preach my wife, Karin, starts to cry. Well this time she started crying while he was being introduced. He is a great man and our church was very blessed to have him come preach.