Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
At the 9:00 worship service last week…I made a mistake. I mentioned the United States budget deficit was about 1.1 billion dollars. And I was correct, according to an economist friend of mine…if the year was 1954. The number is actually 1.1 trillion dollars. I made the mistake intentionally to see if the people at 9:00 were listening. Wait a moment, pastors aren’t supposed to lie, are they? The mistake was three zeros and a few letters of the alphabet, but the point is still the same: It is not a good idea to fund today’s lifestyle with tomorrow’s resources.
Ever wonder what a trillion pennies looks like?
Speaking of inviting people to worship…Here are some easy, non-threatening ways to invite others to worship with us.
- Update your Facebook status that you are worshipping at Millard West High School on Sunday morning. Encourage local people to join you. Type in our web site, http://www.watersedgeomaha.com/, so people can learn a little bit about what to expect before they come.
- Give a CD or a DVD of a recent sermon or our original songs to a friend or co-worker. Encourage them to listen and worship with us.
- Give one of our spiffy invitation postcards (they are at the Connection’s Area) or worship bulletins to people you know. Invite them to worship with you some Sunday morning.
- Now that the ground is soggy again, stick a yard sign in your front yard. I’m always amazed how many people start coming because of yard signs. You can find them at the Connection’s Area.
The question I’m asked most often… “Dad, do I have to go to bed?” The second question I get most often is, “When are we going to build a building?” I don’t know the exact answer to that question. The Church Council in January created a team to begin evaluating properties for a permanent facility. The team of leaders has met three times with a commercial real estate company to discuss available properties between Harrison and Pacific Streets and 168th and 204th Streets. We will keep you informed of any developments and welcome any feedback.
The best is yet to come...
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Pastors - this is a rewarding program that is exceptionally easy to implement. Check out their web site for practical tips on health and wellness.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Here are some of my notes:
One of the biggest issues with our economy is our need for instant gratification – using tomorrow’s money to pay for today’s lifestyle. The problem is: Tomorrow going to come. For some, tomorrow is already here.
1 Timothy 6:17
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
Joy and contentment are found in simplicity, generosity, faith, and in pursuing God’s purpose for our lives. Scripture is going to challenge us to re-evaluate what constitutes the good life.
Life is not measured by how much you own.
The Bible doesn’t say having money is a sin. Money is morally neutral. But, when money becomes the most important thing in our life, we are going to be disappointed.
Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!
1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
Affluenza - noun - The bloated, sluggish, and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste, and indebtedness caused by a relentless pursuit of affluence.
Credit-itis - noun - The opportunity to buy now and pay later.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
- Consumption is not bad. God gives us the world to enjoy.
- Excess and unfunded consumption is bad.
- God’s creation was not intended to replace God and bring burdens to our lives.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.
Be still, and know that I am God!
Practices to implement a biblical worldview
- Start where you are. It is the only place you can start.
- Be simple. Our lives don't need to be any more complex.
- Be generous. With money, time, energy, and prayers.
- Be responsible. Commit to not funding today's lifestyle with tomorrow's resources.
- Seek God first.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Read the selected chapter each day. If you haven’t started—start today!
- Spend some time in prayer reflecting on how God spoke to you through the reading.
- Read the study guide for the day you are on to dig a little deeper into a few selected verses.
- Respond to the questions and prayer guides as you apply the biblical teachings to your life.
Monday, February 14th - Romans 1
Paul writes a letter to the Romans. Note his love for them in verse 8. Because of his love, he prays regularly for them. (verse 9) How are you doing praying for the people you love? Make this a regular habit—it will revolutionize your relationships. Paul feels an obligation to share the Gospel with all people. (verse 14) Who is it that God is placing on your heart to share the Gospel with? Pray for the wisdom and courage to share the Gospel with this person. Paul notes people have been worshipping God’s creation and not God in verses 18 to 23. What idols in your life are competing with God? Spend time giving God thanks for everything He has blessed you with.
Tuesday, February 15th - Romans 2
You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. (verse 23) Paul highlights a foundational truth of Christianity: Being a disciple of Christ is not just a belief, it is a practice. It is not just something we know, it is something we do. Radical obedience to God is a lifestyle that will bless us and allow us to be a blessing to others. Think of an area in your life that you struggle to obey God. Why do you struggle in this area? Commit to following God more closely in this area during the next week.
Wednesday, February 16th - Romans 3
Paul continues his letter by writing that we are not acquitted by obeying the law, but by faith. Paul knows of our imperfection and at times we will fail in our practice of Christiainty: For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard. (verse 23) Paul was keenly aware of sin and he was even more keenly aware of grace: we are made right with God through faith. (verse 28) Paul concludes the chapter with his comments on the relationship between faith and works: Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. (verse 31) The Norwegian word for faith is tro which means trust and confidence. Accepting God’s gift of faith means we have trust and confidence that God’s ways are the ways that lead to abundant and eternal life.
Thursday, February 17th - Romans 4
Not a single verse in the Old Testament means as much for followers of the New Testament as Genesis 15:6 – And Abraham believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. Paul restates this in verse 22 - And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. The good news for us is that the promise is not just for Abraham, but for all who have faith. (verses 23 and 24) Rectus is the Latin word for right. It means straight and headed on the right path as opposed to crooked and meandering with no direction. Pray for more faith. Keep praying with simple prayer. Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.
Friday, February 18th - Romans 5
In verses 2 to 4 Paul tells us what we will become in the future. Until then we must overcome. Problems we face will help us develop our patience, which will strengthen our character, deepen our trust in God, and give us greater confidence about the future. How do you respond to adversity? Do you suffer or do you see adversity as an opportunity to grow? Pray for the ability to overcome and not be overcome. Commit to memory Romans 5:20 – one of the more profound verses in the Bible: But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
Saturday, February 19th - Romans 6
In verse 15, Paul notes that God’s grace sets us free, but true freedom does not mean that we keep sinning because we can become slaves to sin which leads to death. Freedom is not found in the lives of the indentured or the dead. In verse 12 Paul urges the Romans to not let sin control the way you live. In verse 14 the encouragement is to live under the freedom of God’s grace. Verse 23 sums up chapter 6: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Think again about sin that is causing you to die in some way: relationally, spiritually, emotionally, or physically. Ask God to replace your sin with grace.
Sunday, February 20th - Romans 7
Paul’s writing on sin and grace continues with raw honesty in chapter 7. His struggle is between right and wrong; just and unjust; and sacred and profane. We have this same struggle as well. The prescription to disease (sin) is found in verse 25: Jesus Christ. The answer isn’t a plan; the answer is a person. Pray to Jesus for the ability, power, and desire to overcome sin.
Monday, February 21st - Romans 8
The reader of the Bible is hard pressed to find a more profound chapter than chapter 8. Paul’s best writing and some of life’s greatest truths are found in these 39 verses. Select a few verses in chapter 8. Write these verses on a sheet of paper and put them in a place where you can see them during the next week.
Tuesday, February 22nd - Romans 9
Verse 24 is an obscure, but important verse. God’s people are no longer the people of Isreal, but the Gentiles as well. The Greek word for Gentile simply means “not from Israel.” The Roman reader reads this and smiles at the universal embrace of God to all people regardless of tribe or tongue. We smile when we read it as well—that God accepts us. Think about two things: First, you are loved and accepted by God. Nothing can change that (revisit Romans 8:39). Second, as you are accepted, God desires for us to be accepting. Pray: Lord, thank you for accepting me. Help me to always remember this and help me be accepting of others.
Wednesday, February 23rd - Romans 10
In verse 13, Paul revisits the words of the prophet, Joel 2:32, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The Greek word σωθησεται for saved means “to be made whole.” In what areas of your life do you need wholeness? Pray (call on God) for wholeness in various areas of your life: spiritually, relationally, emotionally, financially, and physically.
Thursday, February 24th - Romans 11
Verse 36: For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. Substitute the word “I” for the word “everything” in verse 36. Now it reads: I come from him and exist by his power and am intended for his glory. This teaches us three things about ourselves: 1) We are created by God, 2) We are sustained by God’s presence in our lives, and 3) We exist to glorify God. Pray: Lord, thank you for creating me, give me more of our Holy Spirit, and help me glorify you in my thoughts, words, and actions.
Friday, February 25th - Romans 12
Like chapter 8, chapter 12 is one of the richest chapters in Scripture. Select a few verses in chapter 12. Write these verses on a sheet of paper and put them in a place where you can see them during the next week.
Saturday, February 26th - Romans 13
Paul knew the Roman Christians had dual citizenship. They were simultaneously citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and citizens of the Roman Empire. Paul urges the Romans to live in both worlds. First, they were to respect the government, obey the laws, and pay taxes. Second, he says to obey the biblical law of love: to love each other in the same way we love ourselves. Take some time to pray for your governments. Not with an agenda, but just sharing your feelings with God. Consider how you can obey the biblical command to love others even when you don’t agree with them.
Sunday, February 27th - Romans 14
Verses 17 to 19 are a powerful teaching: For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. As in the early chapters, Paul is emphasizing that Christianity is a practice. Think about what you can do to create harmony in your life and in the lives of others and who you can encourage and build up. Act today to create harmony and / or encourage somebody.
Monday, February 28th - Romans 15
Verses 25 to 27 contain a wonderful story of the Christians in Greece supporting the Christians in Jerusalem who have fallen upon hard times. Paul talks about Christians supporting Christians. The Greek Christians had resources. The Christians in Jerusalem had a need. Both the Greeks and those in Jerusalem were better off because of the gift. Think about the resources you have and think about other people’s needs. Bless somebody in need today with your resources.
Tuesday, March 1st - Romans 16
Paul spends some time early giving thanks for people important to him. Take a few moments and give thanks to people who are important to you. One of Paul’s final appeals is to watch out for people who cause divisions and serve their own interests. (verses 17 and 18) Think about people in your life who are disruptive. Make and follow a plan to not let them be disruptive to your life.
Wednesday, March 2nd - James 1
James offers a fresh and practical approach to Christianity. Verse 19 is excellent advice: Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. This is a great verse to pray over: Lord, I want to be a better listener. Help me to listen before I speak. When I speak, make my words be comforting, encouraging, and wise. When I am frustrated, help me control my temper and make wise choices. Amen. Verse 19 talks about true religion as caring for widows and orphans. Pray for the willingness to serve, love, and care for the marginalized among us.
Thursday, March 3rd - James 2
James connects faith and works in chapter 2. They are not separate to James: works happen as a response to faith. Faith is not just mere belief. Faith is an active lifestyle. Faith makes a difference in the way we live. Verses 22 and 23: You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Pray for ways to show your faith to the world.
Friday, March 4th - James 3
Have you ever said something you regret? Most of us have. According to James, The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. Contrary to the children’s saying, words can be painful. The things we say can have much more of an impact on our lives and those around us than we intend. Try this exercise for a week a see how much of a difference it makes. Before you speak, pray that the words from your tongue would be true, necessary, and kind. Otherwise, follow your mother’s advice. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all.
Saturday, March 5th - James 4
How do you react when God steps in and rearranges your plans? James cautions us about making plans without seeking God’s opinion and direction for our lives. In our jobs, with our families, and in our personal lives—we often have goals. Goals can be good. But we can also be disappointed if we forget to include God as we set goals. James encourages us to follow God’s lead. When we put God’s desires first in our planning, we will seldom be disappointed. Pray for God to direct your future.
Sunday, March 6th - James 5
It’s easy to think that God doesn’t hear our prayers. We may use prayer as our last resort. Instead of leaning on God for everything, we turn to God when we are in our most desperate times. James makes it clear in verse 16, The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Do you need God’s healing, forgiveness, or joy? Because God’s power is infinitely greater than our own, it makes sense to rely on God. So Pray. Pray today, pray tomorrow, pray every day!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Nothing good can come from this exchange. Neutral is the best I can do. I take the purse. I have no choice in the matter. Her question is of the rhetorical variety. I would actually prefer she trim the six words to three words and the turn the question into a statement: “Hold my purse.” At least it would be clear to everybody that I don’t have a choice in this matter.
As I receive the purse from Amber, I simultaneously scan the horizon for people I might know. I’m only kind of adverse to looking like a fool in front of strangers. I’m very adverse to looking like a fool in front of people I know. And it never fails, the only way I am guaranteed to see somebody I know in public is when I am holding Amber’s purse. Her purse is like a giant magnet to my friends.
And I enjoy the comments:
- Nice purse Craig, it goes well with your shoes.
- A Gucci? Pastor we must be paying you too much.
- Hey Craig, do you have some mascara I can use?
- My wife has that same purse, except hers is black.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fool : noun : One who appears ridiculous.
If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. -1 Corinthians 3:18
We are fools for Christ. -1 Corinthians 4:10
Being a disciple today has an aura of foolishness to it.
The world says to do what you have to do to be happy. We call it the pursuit of happiness. The disciple seeks holiness. Happiness will likely occur when holiness is pursued, but happiness isn’t the goal. Holiness is.
We live in a society where individual achievement is glorified and self-sufficiency is a virtue. We like to get things done all by ourselves. The disciple depends on God, depends on others, and is dependable to others.
We earn what we have in life: our paychecks, our report cards, etc… The disciple simply receives. Grace can’t be earned. Only accepted and given.
Justice is an American virtue. People should get what they deserve. The disciple embodies forgiveness. The disciple realizes people are imperfect, takes God’s advice, and cuts others some slack.
Instead of keeping, the disciple gives generously. Instead of seeking honor, the disciple seeks humility. And, instead of being served, the disciple serves whoever, whenever.
Seeking holiness, depending on God, receiving grace, forgiving others, and being generous, humble servant. Kind of seems foolish. Doesn’t it?
Of course it is. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The best is yet to come…
Sunday, February 6, 2011
27 You have heard the commandment that says, “You must not commit adultery.” 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
To Jesus – impure thoughts are sin – not just actions. Thoughts lead to actions which lead to character. Jesus urges us to keep our thoughts pure.
God forgives our sins. We are cool with God and God is cool with us.
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. –Romans 5:20
Even though God forgives our sins, the consequences of our sin remain.
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Thomas Costain’s history, The Three Edwards, described the life of Raynald Ill, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium.
Grossly overweight, Raynald was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means “fat.” After a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room.
This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year…a prisoner of his own appetite.
How to overcome physical and emotional cravings so we can experience spiritual freedom
2. Develop a biblical world view
3. Remove yourself from tempting situations
4. Consider the others who you are hurting
5. Think long-term good and not short-term pleasure
6. Come clean with somebody you trust
7. Have an accountability partner
Friday, February 4, 2011
The best news is that spring will arrive soon. The tulips and daffodils will emerge from snow. The grass will show hints of green. The days will keep getting longer. And the sun will be warm. Spring will replace winter. Even better news is that new life can happen in us as well. Expectation and hope will emerge from pain. Hurts will show hints of healing. The days of anxiety and depression will grow shorter. Our hearts will be warmer. Resurrection will replace death.
In about five to ten minutes per day, you can read through the entire New Testament in one year. Stay consistent and make focused Bible reading a daily habit.
- Read the selected chapter each day. If you haven’t started—today is a great day to begin!
- Spend some time in prayer reflecting on how God spoke to you through the reading.
- Read the study guide for the day you are on to dig a little deeper into a few selected verses.
- Respond to the questions and prayer guides as you apply the biblical teachings to your life.
- Read Sunday’s Bible passage and review the study guide before worship.
By the end of this week, we will have read through 1, 2, & 3 John.
Monday, February 7th – 1 John 1
Do you ever wonder if God really forgives you when you sin? 1 John 1 tells us that God offers forgiveness when we own up to what we’ve done wrong. But sometimes, we find ourselves asking God to forgive us for the same sins over and over. Often, we find ourselves asking for God’s forgiveness but then forgetting to walk in the light (God’s ways). Verse 9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” God wants to forgive us. Verse 7 reminds us that he sent his son so that he could forgive us. Today, as you ask God to forgive your sins, pray that God will also help to you move into the light and live as if you are forgiven!
Tuesday, February 8th – 1 John 2
Verses 5 and 6 say: “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” This statement seems to be an impossible task. Who can really be exactly like Jesus? No one is perfect, but maybe that’s the point. Instead of trying to be perfect, pray to make yourself more aware of the choices you make each day and reflect on whether your thoughts, words and deeds demonstrate your love for God to others.
Wednesday, February 9th – 1 John 3
All of us have areas of our lives where we feel especially tempted. God wants to help you avoid the temptations and keep you from justifying or rationalizing the sin. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to avoid giving in to temptation. Is there an area of your life where you feel tempted lately? Do you find yourself wanting to change, or rationalizing your sins? Pray that God will help you to see where you need to change and to remember the words found in verse 1, “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children and that is what we are!”
Thursday, February 10th – 1 John 4
John is often referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Having experienced God’s love, John makes it a point to tell us how important it is to love others. Read verses 7-12 again and reflect on them. They show us that God is the source of love, the perfect model for love, and that God commands us to love. Pray that you will experience, witness, and demonstrate God’s love as you go about your day.
Friday. February 11th – 1 John 5
Do you ever wonder if you will go to heaven? Some people hope they will spend forever with God. John says we can know for sure. Our certainty is based on God’s promise that he has given us eternal life through his son. This is true, even when we don’t necessarily “feel” close to him. Verse 12 tells us, “Whoever has the Son has life.” If you’re not feeling particularly close to God today, pray that he will work to remind you that he is there to guide and love you, even in the tough times.
Saturday, February 12th – 2 John
Living and following God’s truth, in love, is essential to our lives as Christians. A careful, consistent study of the Bible can help us to know and understand God’s truth more each day. And surrounding ourselves with other Christians can help us to love others through our actions. Pray today that for the discipline to keep learning God’s truth and the strength to love the way God loves.
Sunday, February 13th – 3 John
In the church’s early days, traveling prophets, evangelists, and teachers depended on the hospitality of people like Gaius, who housed and fed them. Hospitality is an active and much appreciated way to show your love. While not everyone has the gift of hospitality, we can all demonstrate it in our lives. Is there someone you know who is in need of your hospitality? How will you demonstrate it to them? For a little extra Bible reading to prepare you for today’s sermon, revisit 1 John 2:15-17.
Thanks to Chad Schuchmann, our Director of Student Ministries, for preparing this Bible reading plan.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Note how Paul, Silas, and Timothy start the letter in verses 2 and 3. They thank God for their Thessalonian friends and they pray for them constantly. Take some time to be thankful for you family and closest friends. Take some additional time praying for them.
The authors remind the Thessalonians that they are loved and chosen by God. Reading verse 4 reminds us as well.
In verses 7 to 9 the authors write about how the Christians in Thessalonia have become examples for believers throughout Greece. They have done this by turning away from their idols and serving God. An old axiom exists: Speak the Gospel at all times and use words when necessary. The high calling of a follower of Christ is to be an example.
- How are you do with being an example to others?
- What idols do you need to put away?
- In what areas is God nudging you to deepers levels of service?