Wednesday, March 30, 2011

National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month. I interviewed Jill Ladd, a registered dietician. Jill shared practical tips on eating and living healthy. Jill gave advice about how to shop for groceries, how to eat well on a busy schedule, and how to help children develop good habits. We also talked about discipleship and nutrition.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Have You Forsaken Me? - Video

Here is my sermon from March 20th. As Jesus was dying on the cross--the burdens he carried were too heavy, the anguish was too deep, the abandonment was too present, and the agony was too painful. At no moment in his life was Jesus as fully human as when he spoke these words. He took the journey many of us have taken and all of us will take at one time or another: alone, puzzled, hurt, injured, empty, heart-broken.


I shared about how to deal with the tough times of life: how brokenness can become wholeness, how abandonment can become community, and how death can become resurrection.



Monday, March 28, 2011

Not My Will But Yours Be Done - Video

Here is the sermon from March 13th. We started off our new series that is looking at the words of Jesus during his last day on earth. One of the phrases Jesus spoke when he was praying in the Garden of Gethsamane was: “Not my will, but yours be done.” We looked at some tools and were challenged to discern, embrace, and live out God’s plans for our lives.



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Father Forgive Them - Audio

Listen to this morning's sermon on forgiveness. We are a few weeks behind on the videos and hope to have them posted soon.

Mark 2:1-5

1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

Luke 23:34

Father forgive them – they don’t know what they are doing



Before Christ – You owe me and justice is mine. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. –Matthew 5:38

God forgave me so I’ll forgive you. Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. –Matthew 6:12

Matthew 18

23 Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. 26 But the man fell down before his master and begged him, “Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.” 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

Lesson #1 – The debtor can’t always repay you. (verse 24)
One of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.

Lesson #2 – The offended can always show mercy. (verse 27)
Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

Matthew 18

28 But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. 29 His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. "Be patient with me, and I will pay it," he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. 31 When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, "You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?" 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. 35 That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.


Before forgiveness can be understood and experienced, it is necessary to know what forgiveness is not.

1. Forgiveness is NOT primarily a gift for the offending party

The primary beneficiary for forgiveness is the one who is forgiving. The alternative to unforgiveness is carrying around a bunch of bitterness and brokenness. Forgiveness does not allow the past actions of another party to determine your future. Unforgiveness burdens us with brokenness and pain. Anger makes us smaller while forgiveness forces us to grow beyond what we were. Forgiveness sets the forgiver free and points to a hopeful future. And if the offending party can rest their head on their pillow at night and feel a little less guilty, all the better.

2. Forgiveness is NOT a one-time event

Forgiveness doesn’t happen in a day; forgiveness happens daily. Forgiveness is not a process; forgiveness is a journey. Smells, sounds, and sights can bring back painful memories and the forgiver is often forced to re-forgive.

3. Forgiveness is NOT forgetting

Abuse, betrayal, and hurtful words are not forgotten. Forgetting certain offenses is nearly impossible and sometimes not even desirable. Thomas Szasz writes, "The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." Remembering can help us learn from the past and can protect us from future hurts. Forgiveness is not allowing the unforgettable past to ruin the present and the future.

4. Forgiveness is NOT an act of weakness

Forgiving is not easy. Forgiveness is tough. Ghandi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Forgiveness is challenging and rewarding.

5. Forgiveness is NOT permission to continue self-destructive behavior

Enabling dysfunction is stupidity, not forgiveness. A profound difference exists between the two. Forgiveness is not continually letting somebody off the hook. Sometimes forgiveness loves so much it has to say no or goodbye.

6. Forgiveness is NOT conditional

Forgiveness doesn’t depend on the other person apologizing or changing. Forgiveness is unconditional grace, not conditional justice. It is given, not earned.

7. Forgiveness is NOT necessarily a fully restored relationship

It takes one person to forgive and two people to reconcile. Sometimes forgiveness leads to reconciliation. Sometimes it doesn’t.

8. Forgiveness is NOT denying a wrong doing

Forgiveness is not a doormat to a house that allows itself to be walked on time and time again without response. That is denial, which is quite different than forgiveness. One is an emotional dysfunction and the other is a grace.

9. Forgiveness is NOT neglecting justice

You can forgive and hold accountable. Sin has consequences. The murderer and the rapist should go to jail. The embezzler should pay back. The gossiper should make amends. The forgiveness of sin doesn’t remove the consequences of sin. It just doesn’t. Only the offending party can do his or her best to make things right. And we all painfully know, sometimes that isn’t enough.

10. Forgiveness is NOT a new-age, self-help idea

Forgiveness is God’s idea. Nobody is better at forgiving than God. Nobody knows the benefits of forgiving more than God. God tells us to forgive because God loves us and wants what is best for us.

What forgiveness is:

1. Possible
2. Grace
3. A good idea

Friday, March 25, 2011

Good and Better

I love chess. I love playing it. I love watching it. And I love teaching it.

You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it's really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas. –Stanley Kubrick

And so it is with life…

Sometimes in life, right and wrong are as clear as the sky on a cold, cloudless winter night. It is wrong to intentionally hurt somebody for no reason. It is right to have character and integrity in our actions. It is wrong to steal something that doesn’t belong to you. It is right to be a good parent.

Other things aren’t so clear. For the high school senior going to college, the right answer of which college to attend simply doesn’t exist. The home buyer will not find the perfect home. The choice is between a good home and a better home.

Many of life’s most important decisions aren’t between right and wrong. Many of life’s most important choices are between good and better.

Over the next week, the Church Council will share with and listen to the people of the church as we dream about our future. We will all listen to each other and we will all listen to God. The Church Council has prayed about, thought about, and talked about the following questions:

  • What is the will of God for the future relationship between Faith-Westwood and The Water’s Edge?
  • Moving forward, what ministry systems and structures are going to make the most sense?
  • What is working well in making and multiplying disciples and how do we build on our strengths?

The Church Council has three different scenarios for moving forward that will be presented to the church. Other possibilities exist, but the Church Council has discerned these to be the best options.

  1. Remain one church, redefine what it means to be one church, and change the current leadership structure of The Water’s Edge so that we will remain one church.
  2. Become two churches with no transitional period.
  3. Become two churches with a transitional period having shared ministries such as Vacation Bible School, Middle School and High School Ministries, women’s ministries, and office space.

Five years ago, The Water’s Edge was still a dream. We had no name, no place to worship, one small group, and a few excited people on the leadership team. Over the last five years, I have learned this: When God provides a vision God also provides resources for that vision. God’s will does not take us where God’s grace will not sustain us. Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish and fed thousands of people.

Whichever path God leads us down, I believe the best is yet to come.

Craig

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Forgiveness is Not

1. Forgiveness is NOT primarily a gift for the offending party

The primary beneficiary for forgiveness is the one who is forgiving. The alternative to unforgiveness is carrying around a bunch of bitterness and brokenness. Forgiveness does not allow the past actions of another party to determine your future. Unforgiveness burdens us with brokenness and pain. Anger makes us smaller while forgiveness forces us to grow beyond what we were. Forgiveness sets the forgiver free and points to a hopeful future. And if the offending party can rest their head on their pillow at night and feel a little less guilty, all the better.



2. Forgiveness is NOT a one-time event

Forgiveness doesn’t happen in a day; forgiveness happens daily. Forgiveness is not a process; forgiveness is a journey. Smells, sounds, and sights can bring back painful memories and the forgiver is often forced to re-forgive.

3. Forgiveness is NOT forgetting

Abuse, betrayal, and hurtful words are not forgotten. Forgetting certain offenses is nearly impossible and sometimes not even desirable. Thomas Szasz writes, "The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." Remembering can help us learn from the past and can protect us from future hurts. Forgiveness is not allowing the unforgettable past to ruin the present and the future.

4. Forgiveness is NOT an act of weakness

Forgiving is not easy. Forgiveness is tough. Ghandi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Forgiveness is challenging and rewarding.

5. Forgiveness is NOT permission to continue self-destructive behavior

Enabling dysfunction is stupidity, not forgiveness. A profound difference exists between the two. Forgiveness is not continually letting somebody off the hook. Sometimes forgiveness loves so much it has to say no or goodbye.

6. Forgiveness is NOT conditional

Forgiveness doesn’t depend on the other person apologizing or changing. Forgiveness is unconditional grace, not conditional justice. It is given, not earned.

7. Forgiveness is NOT necessarily a fully restored relationship

It takes one person to forgive and two people to reconcile. Sometimes forgiveness leads to reconciliation. Sometimes it doesn’t.

8. Forgiveness is NOT denying a wrong doing

Forgiveness is not a doormat to a house that allows itself to be walked on time and time again without response. That is denial, which is quite different than forgiveness. One is an emotional dysfunction and the other is a grace.

9. Forgiveness is NOT neglecting justice

You can forgive and hold accountable. Sin has consequences. The murderer and the rapist should go to jail. The embezzler should pay back. The gossiper should make amends. The forgiveness of sin doesn’t remove the consequences of sin. It just doesn’t. Only the offending party can do his or her best to make things right. And we all painfully know, sometimes that isn’t enough.

10. Forgiveness is NOT a new-age, self-help idea

Forgiveness is God’s idea. Nobody is better at forgiving than God. Nobody knows the benefits of forgiving more than God. God tells us to forgive because God loves us and wants what is best for us.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WEtv - Interview with Derek Fey

Derek Fey, author of the book, We Were Born to Run, is the guest on WEtv this week.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Here is the audio and notes from this morning's sermon. The video will be up later in the week. Listen here.


Matthew 27:37-43

37 A sign was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!” 41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

Trusts – peitho – to convince, to rely on with inward certainty, have full confidence, or complete trust.

  • Easy to trust in the light.
  • Not so easy to trust in the dark.
Since the beginning, our trust has been tested.

Matthew 27:45-46

45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice (screaming in Greek), “Eli, Eli, llama saba cha ne?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Jesus asks the question that at one time – all of us will ask - why have You left me?

1 Corinthians 13:12

12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

We can see God in one of two ways...


NOWHERE

No where
Now here – even though I don’t understand
  • If you are seeking complete understanding of everything that happens in life – you are going to be disappointed.
  • If you are seeking God’s presence – you are going to be comforted.
Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.


We only see part of the story.
  • God is good
  • God is for me
  • God is with me

God is good
Only God is truly good. –Mark 10:18

God is for me
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? –Romans 8:31

God is with us
I will never fail you. I will never abandon you. -Hebrews 13:5

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take


Seek - yoda - To Know

Know God

Why is replaced by what

2 Corinthians 5:21

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Why is replaced by who

God comforts us and restores us

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vision

Words like vision and dreams and future excite me. I don’t know why, but they always have. I enjoy writing, speaking, and thinking about such things. Next Sunday morning after our 10:30 worship service we will have a time to vision, dream, and think about the future.

The Water’s Edge started at Russell Middle School on a rainy day in September 2006 with a big worship launch. The next Sunday about 70 adults and 15 kids returned. That is where we started. In 2011, on a typical Sunday at Millard West High School, we have over 400 adults and 100 kids. This is where we are today.


When we started The Water’s Edge just about four and a half years ago we didn’t really know what to expect. Our primary goal was (and still is) to provide a non-threatening environment where people not connected to a local church could learn about and experience the Gospel: both the comforts and the challenges. A secondary goal the first few years was to develop a critical mass of invested people who would make the ministry sustainable. We have accomplished the secondary goal and are now moving to the next chapter.

Faith-Westwood is a multi-site church. The Water’s Edge is a part of Faith-Westwood. Some ministries like worship, children’s Sunday School, most serving teams, and most small groups operate independently. Other ministries such as Vacation Bible School, student ministries (6th to 12th grades), and women’s ministries work more closely together.


Four years ago, it would have been tough to imagine the two campuses would be roughly the same size and have a much different culture and demographic. That is where we find ourselves today. In the last few months, the Church Council has been looking at our past, evaluating our present, and strategically visioning for the future. The question the council has been evaluating is: With the goal of making and multiplying disciples in our ministry areas, what will the future relationship between Faith-Westwood and The Water’s Edge look like in regards to vision, leadership, organizational structure, and shared ministries.

These conversations are not because of conflict. The campuses are working together well and a high degree of cooperation exists. Nor are the conversations happening because we are currently looking for land in The Water’s Edge’s ministry area. Like any responsible organization that has undergone significant changes in recent years, we are taking a step back, evaluating our current practices, and dreaming about the future so that we can partner with God and faithfully follow Him and serve His Kingdom.

I encourage you to pray that we discern, embrace, and live out the plans God has for Faith-Westwood and The Water’s Edge. I also encourage you to come to the Town Hall Meeting next Sunday after the 10:30 worship service to listen to others and to share your thoughts as well.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Last Words

If I knew I had less than one day to live, I would choose my words wisely. No messing around. No time for small talk. I would focus on the things that matter most.

  • If I could live life over, what would I do the exact same way?
  • If I could do it all over again, what would I do differently?
  • What did I learn that I want to share with others who mean the most to me?


The words that come out of my mouth might sound something like this:

  • Each day is a gift. Accept it, embrace it, use it, and share it.
  • It’s the pebble in your shoe and not the mountain in front of you that will likely wear you out.
  • The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
  • Accept people for being their true selves, encourage people to become their true selves, but never allow somebody to be ruined by their self-destructive behaviors.
  • Joy is not in things; it is in people and in us.
  • Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden; sin is forbidden because it is hurtful.
  • Forgiveness is the key to happiness and contentment. Forgiving and living is better than remembering and resenting.
  • The most productive use of our time is investing in future generations.
  • Our attitude in life determines life’s attitude toward us.
  • God loves you.

I would tell the boys these things and pretty much whomever else would listen.

Jesus was living his last day. He knew he was going to die. What did he say? Not a whole lot. But every time he opened his mouth, there was nothing quite like it:

  • Not my will, but yours be done.
  • Why have you forsaken me?
  • Father forgive them.
  • I thirst.
  • It is finished.
  • You will be with me in paradise.

Over the next six weeks we will be looking at what Jesus said during his last day. It was the day that changed everything. The world hasn’t been the same since and I pray your world will be different and better because of the words Jesus spoke on his last day. I also invite you to join me in reading through the Gospel of Matthew together during this season of Lent. A Bible reading plan is found in this bulletin and on our web site.

I also pray that all of us—during this time of Lent—grow closer to God, discover our true selves, and connect on a more meaningful level to other people. That is what the season is all about.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Interview with Lisa Ritter

Here is a fun interview I did with Lisa Ritter. Check out her web site. She was on Bang For Your Buck when they came to Omaha. You can watch the episode on her site.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bible Reading Plan for Lent - The Day That Changed Everything

Join us during our Lenten Bible Reading Plan. Develop a new habit that will help you grow closer to God and can change your life! Read the selected verses from Matthew each day. 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.



Wednesday, March 9th – Matthew 1:1-17

These verses illustrate that God uses imperfect people to being himself into the world. Jacob was a crook. David committed adultery. Ruth was from a group of people who didn’t matter. But God used them all. Despite your imperfection and shortcomings, God is using you and will use you to make Him more real to others. Pray about how God can use you during this season of Lent.

Thursday, March 10th – Matthew 1:18-25

God asked Joseph to do something tough. Uncertainty existed. Public shame could most likely occur. Joseph could have said “no” to God and do the easy thing. Instead, Joseph said “yes” to God and did the tough thing. And he never looked back. What is God leading you to do in your life that requires faith and risk? Say “yes” to where God is leading you, especially during this season of Lent.
Friday, March 11th – Matthew 2

The three wise men traveled a great distance to worship Jesus. Nothing was going to stop them. Reread verses 10 and 11. What did you learn about worship? Be joyful, generous, authentic, and consistent during Lent.

Saturday, March 12th – Matthew 3


Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. John felt unworthy and he was right. God isn’t concerned with our worthiness. God cares about our availability. John was obedient and did what Jesus asked him to do. During Lent, one of our aims is to grow closer to God. What does it mean to you to know God isn’t concerned with our worthiness, but our availability? Pray to make yourself more available to God.

Sunday, March 13th – Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus was tempted. We all are. What are some of your temptations? Note how Jesus used God’s word to rebuke Satan. During Lent challenge yourself to be faithful to these readings and apply them to your life!

Monday, March 14th – Matthew 4:11-25

Jesus begins his public ministry. His first message is simple: “Repent from your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Repent means “to turn.” Turn from sin and turn to God. What sin(s) in your life do you need to turn from? God promises us the blessing of His Kingdom when we turn to Him.

Tuesday, March 15th – Matthew 5:1-12

The word blessed means more than happiness. It doesn’t imply laughter, pleasure, or prosperity—rather the experience of hope and joy independent of outward circumstances. Focus on verse 5 (humility) and verse 8 (purity). How can these attributes bring blessing to your life? Pray for humility and purity.

Wednesday, March 16th – Matthew 5:13-26

Jesus encourages us to be light to the world. Think about the darkness that exists in your immediate world. Be a light today! Encourage, smile, forgive, hug, write a note, help…do whatever it takes.

Thursday, March 17th – Matthew 5:27-48

The world teaches revenge. Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Take Jesus up on this challenge. Reread verse 44. Think of a person you are in conflict with or a person you don’t understand. Pray for that person.

Friday, March 18th – Matthew 6:1-18

Jesus is teaching about prayer. Write down five principles you learned from this teaching? Spend some time in prayer and implement the principles you learned from this teaching.

Saturday, March 19th – Matthew 6:19-24

Jesus is teaching about money in this section. Write down two or three of the things you learned in this short passage. Make a plan to implement one of these teachings starting today.

Sunday, March 20th – Matthew 6:25-34

We all worry from time to time. What negative consequence is worry causing you? Pray about the things you are worried about. Spend some focused time with this prayer. Note how you feel before and after praying. Commit to give God your worries through prayer.

Monday, March 21st – Matthew 7:1-12

Jesus challenges us in this passage: examine ourselves and change ourselves before. Don’t neglect improving ourselves by focusing on the shortcomings of others. What is a “log in your eye” that needs to be removed? How can God and others help you with this?

Tuesday, March 22nd – Matthew 7:13-29

Jesus says the storms of life will come. It is not a matter of “if” but “when.” What is your foundation in life? Is the foundation you have built going to withstand the storms that are coming? Pray for the ability to listen and follow the teachings of Jesus (verse 24).

Wednesday, March 23rd – Matthew 8:1-17

Jesus healed, still heals and brings wholeness to our lives: Our bodies, our relationships, our emotions, our addictions, our finances, etc… In what areas of your life do you need healing and wholeness? Know that Jesus is interested in your well-being. Pray for healing in your life.

Thursday, March 24th – Matthew 8:18-34

Jesus calmed a storm (verse 26). Think about the storms in your life. Know that Jesus is with you in tough times. Pray for Jesus to calm your storms.

Friday, March 25th – Matthew 9:1-17

A paralyzed man was brought to Jesus for healing. Jesus forgave his sins. Jesus saw a greater need existed than physical health: his spiritual health. Pray for God’s forgiveness in your life. Pray for spiritual healing and wellness. Pray for the ability to forgive yourself so that you may be defined by God’s future instead of your past.

Saturday, March 26th – Matthew 9:18-38

Jesus saw the brokenness of the world and he asked his disciples to pray for more workers. This is where you come in. First, you can be the additional worker. Pray about how God can use you today in the life of another person. Second, pray for others to serve alongside you.

Sunday, March 27th – Matthew 10:1-15

Jesus sent out the twelve with no money, extra clothes, or even a walking stick. All they had was the blessing and power of Christ, which is just as well because that is the only thing they really needed. We have a danger of living our lives based on our resources which more likely aren’t going to get us too far. Challenge yourself to start living based on God’s resources.

Monday, March 28th – Matthew 10:16-42

A few times in this text Jesus said: “Don’t be afraid.” It is the most common command in the Bible. What are your fears? Spend time praying about things that scare you. Pray to be filled with the attribute that will help you overcome fear: Faith.

Tuesday, March 29th – Matthew 11:1-19

We all need friends. Jesus was a friend to John the Baptist. Jesus defended John and accepted him for who he was and who he was not. What kind of friend are you? Are you willing to look past people’s imperfections and love them for who they are? Do you stick with them in tough times? Pray for the ability and wisdom to be a better friend.

Wednesday, March 30th – Matthew 11:20-30

Are you tired, worn out, or overwhelmed? Jesus tells us to go to him and he will give us rest (verse 28). Do what you need to do to go to Jesus. Pray. Go for a walk. Turn off electronics. Whatever. Go to Jesus and let him give you rest.

Thursday, March 31st – Matthew 12:1-37

Legalism and love. The Pharisees saw religion as a set of rules that needed to be followed. Jesus saw it as a relationship with God and others. He notes that people are more important than rules and that it is never inappropriate to show agape toward another person, even on Sunday. Pray for your heart to be open to growing closer to others and serving the marginalized.

Friday, April 1st – Matthew 12:38-50

God’s will. We are in God’s family when we do it (verse 50). Spend some time writing down some practices and principles God wants you to implement in your life. Pray about making these practices and principles a habit of your heart.

Saturday, April 2nd – Matthew 13:1-23

We respond to God’s message differently. Some of us have hard hearts, some of us are shallow, some are distracted, and some are ready. Pray for the readiness to learn and apply God’s word to your life so that a rich harvest of blessing can happen.

Sunday, April 3rd – Matthew 13:24-58

Jesus is preaching in parables in this section. What did you find surprising? What did you find challenging? Reread verses 31 to 33. Know that everything great started small. Think about something great you want in life. Commit to taking the first or next step to make that dream a reality.

Monday, April 4th – Matthew 14:1-21

The man gave Jesus fives loaves and two fish. Jesus did the rest. If the man wouldn’t have given Jesus anything then Jesus wouldn’t have had anything to work with. What is something you can give God today so that He can do great things?

Tuesday, April 5th – Matthew 14:22-36

Peter walked on water. He took a risk. He had his setbacks and shortcomings, yet he was the one who walked on water and later led the early church. With risk come failures. With risk also come rewards. What kind of risk is God wanting you to take in your life? Get out of the boat!

Wednesday, April 6th – Matthew 15:1-20

Jesus challenged the Pharisees. They were concerned with the visible forms of religion. Jesus was concerned with the status of our heart because that leads to impure thoughts and actions. Pray for purity of your heart and for God’s heart to become your heart.

Thursday, April 7th – Matthew 15:21-39

This is a wonderful passage about the embrace of God to all people. Think about who you are, where you are from, what you have done, what you haven’t done. Jew or Gentile, sinner or saint, lost or found – God’s embrace and healing is for you. Pray to accept God’s acceptance of you.

Friday, April 8th – Matthew 16:1-28

Reread Peter’s confession in verse 16. Peter called Jesus the Messiah and the Son of the God. Is this your confession? Or is Jesus simply a wise person or a charismatic teacher and healer? What Jesus can do in you depends on who Jesus is to you. Make Peter’s confession your confession and accept the blessing of Jesus.

Saturday, April 9th – Matthew 17:1-13

Peter, James, and John saw Jesus in all his glory. He was fully God and fully human. What does it mean to you that Jesus is God? What does it mean that Jesus is human? Write down some things Jesus has done for you and is doing for you. Celebrate his divinity and humanity. Spend some time dreaming about what you hope he can do in your life.

Sunday, April 10th – Matthew 17:14-27

Jesus says that nothing is impossible. Small dreams and hopes lead to a small life. Big hopes and dreams can lead to a big life. Write down some of your biggest dreams. Don’t give up on them and don’t give up on God giving up on them. Nothing is impossible.

Monday, April 11th – Matthew 18:1-20

Jesus has four distinct teachings in this section. How did he speak to you? Write down an application you can apply to your life today.

Tuesday, April 12th – Matthew 18:21-35

This is a challenging parable about forgiveness. Forgiveness is as much for us as it is the offending party. God has forgiven us and wants us to forgive others. Think about people you can forgive. Ask God to help you in the process of forgiving these people.

Wednesday, April 13th – Matthew 19:1-30

Jesus was asked how to receive eternal life. His reply was to give up his possessions and follow him. Jesus was obviously speaking in a metaphor (read verse 24), but the challenge is compelling: we must follow him. Not lead him or advise him, but follow him wherever he leads us. Think about where God is leading you. Challenge yourself to follow Jesus wherever he leads you.

Thursday, April 14th – Matthew 20:1-34

The opening parable is a parable about grace. No more and nothing less. We read this parable from the perspective of the worker who worked all day and got paid last. It seems unfair. But we weren’t in the vineyard early in the morning and we weren’t the best worker when we got there. Reading it from this perspective teaches us about grace—getting more than we deserve. Give God thanks for accepting and loving you.

Friday, April 15th – Matthew 21:1-27

Jesus clears out the Temple when he sees the selling of animals. He restores the Temple by calling it a “house of prayer.” Prayer is God’s priority for God’s people. Prayer connects us with God and others. Pray for a prayer life that is growing and developing.

Saturday, April 16th – Matthew 21:28-46

Obedience is a word that scares some of us. God asks for our obedience and that can be scary. But think about this: God loves us, God wants what is best for us, God knows what is best for us, and God can do something about it. Knowing this makes obedience a good thing. Pray for the ability to obey.

Sunday, April 17th – Matthew 22:1-22

Jesus notes we are citizens of the world and citizens of the Kingdom of God. Both are important. We have a responsibility in the world, but our ultimate commitment is to God. Pray for the wisdom to live as a dual citizen of the world and of God.

Monday, April 18th – Matthew 22:23-46

Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was. He replied it was to love God and to love others. Christianity is a balance of a healthy and growing relationship with God and a healthy and growing relationship with others. Pray for perseverance in developing these vital relationships.

Tuesday, April 19th – Matthew 23:1-39

Jesus speaks about the seven sorrows in verses 13 to 36. How many of them can you find? What did you learn from looking for these seven sorrows? What application steps are you going to take in your life because of this challenging teaching from Jesus?

Wednesday, April 20th – Matthew 24:1-51

The Bible is clear that Christ will return at an hour that is unexpected. The call is to live a life of preparation and readiness. This has two implications. First, never take our time on earth for granted. Live each day to its fullest. Second, live a life of faith. Don’t wait to attend to spiritual matters.

Thursday, April 21st – Matthew 25:1-46

These three parables are perhaps the most prophetic teachings of Jesus. What did you learn from these parables? What challenged you? How are you going to apply one of these teachings to your life?

Friday, April 22nd – Matthew 26:1-75

As Jesus nears the end of his life, his character never changes. He remains graceful and loving despite being belittled and humiliated. How did Jesus speak to you in this chapter? What is something you found comforting? What is something you can take away from this chapter and apply to your life?

Saturday, April 23rd – Matthew 27:1-66

This is probably the most painful chapter in the Bible to read. How did you feel reading this chapter? Did this give you a deeper understanding of God’s love for you?

Sunday, April 24th – Matthew 28:1-20

Twice Jesus tells the people to go and tell (verses 9 and 19). Think of a person or people in your life who need resurrection in some way or another. Pray about ways to invite them to follow Jesus and experience resurrection.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Quadragesima

The original Latin word for what we today know as Lent is Quadragesima which means “forty days before Easter.” The purpose was to prepare the disciple for Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The forty days is symbolic of the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert as he prepared for public ministry.


The original practices of Lent were prayer (discovery of God), fasting (discovery of self), and service (discovery of neighbor). Lent is about a tenth of one’s days, given to God each year, to discover who God is, who we are, and what the world is. We ask in one way or another what it means to be ourselves.

About one thousand years ago Quadragesima was changed to the vernacular word “spring.” The Germans know this as lenz and the Dutch know it as lente. Both words mean “lengthen” because in the northern climate the days of spring become longer and longer. We now call it Lent.



As Quadragesima became Lent, the practices changed as well. The true meaning of Lent is now hidden in the hustle of fish frys and Easter Bunnys. Today we give up chocolate or alcohol or Facebook or eating meat on Fridays. None of these things is necessarily bad, but do they really help us discover who God is, who we are, and what the world is?

  • If you were to wager all you have on whether God exists or doesn’t exist, which side would you choose and why?
  • When you look at a photograph of yourself, what is it you like the most and what is it you want to change the most?
  • Consider your history: What are two moments you wish you could do over? One because it was painful for you or somebody you love. The other because you simply want to relive the happiness of the moment.
  • If you had forty days to live, what would you do with them?
  • If you had forty years to live, what would you do with them?
  • Does a person or a cause exist that you would be willing to die for?
  • If you could write a message in a couple dozen words to a handful of people, what would you say and who would you say it to?


Responding to questions like this gives us a glimpse of who we are becoming and just as importantly who we are not becoming. It’s tough work and can be depressing. It’s also worth it. Lent begins with the imposition of ashes and ends with the resurrection of the dead—which is what life is all about.

Do the Bible reading plan. Ask yourself the questions. Pray. Serve somebody you love. Pray some more. Serve a stranger. Worship weekly. Deprive yourself of something you desire, but don’t need. Give. Share. Rest. Grow closer to God. Discover yourself. That’s Quadragesima.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Simplification and Satisfaction

Last Sunday's sermon on living a more simple and more satisfying life.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Credititis and Affluenza

Here is my sermon from February 13th on being responsible and wise with finances.