Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12 Ways to Have a Miserable 2012

1. Don’t plan. Just roll with the punches. Be reactive and not proactive. Don’t make a list of things you want to get done, places you want to go, people you want to connect with, and goals you want to accomplish. Just remember, when you fail to plan then you are planning to fail. 

2. Do as much as you can by yourself. Don’t enlist the help of others. Don’t seek the advice of others. Misery loves company, but it most likely happens alone.


3. Neglect your most important relationships. Seek intimacy in inappropriate ways. Don’t trust others. Be afraid of being hurt. Gossip about others to feel good about yourself. Talk more and listen less. Demand your own way. Nitpick. Demand others be who you want them to be rather than their true selves. Believe kindness is overrated. Don’t be patient with others. Demand perfection. Carry grudges and don’t forgive others. Make others pay for their mistakes. 

4. Stay busy. Don’t schedule downtime. Stay plugged into technology at all times. Be connected a little bit to everything and everybody so that you aren’t really connected to anything or anybody. Say “yes” to so many average things so that you don’t have the time or energy to say “yes” to the best things. 

5. Don’t deal with your past. Carry all burdens of your past mistakes. Realize it’s not likely you are going to change. Don’t forgive yourself. Let your history define your future. 

6. Don’t take any risks. Be afraid of falling. Be afraid of failing. Play it safe. Don’t explore. Don’t chase dreams. Don’t be vulnerable or authentic with others: the chance of being hurt a little bit far outweighs the benefit of loving someone and being loved by someone. 

7. Quit when times get tough. Throw in the towel the first time you take a punch to the stomach. Raise the white flag when the battle is not going your way. Accept the easy life and don’t strive for the good life. 


8. Place a lot of stock in what other people think about you. Try to impress others. Base your self-worth on what you think others perceive about you. 

9. Don’t give anything to anybody. Hoard your holdings. Stockpile your savings. You have earned what you have. Keep it. Be stingy with your time and energy too. Believe you can get far greater blessings in life doing what you want to do rather than helping a child or a hurting person.

10. Don’t worry about your character and integrity. Let things slide. Take a few shortcuts if it’s what you need to do. Cover up your shortcomings with image management. Do the easy thing and not the right thing. Don’t care who you are when nobody is looking. 

11. Let yourself go physically. Eat whatever. Stop exercising. Get stressed out. Don’t sleep much. 

12. Don’t focus too much on your relationship with God. You will have plenty of time to do that in the future. 

The worst is yet to come… 

Craig

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

God is with Us

The automatic piano in the hospital lobby plays and replays the old Christmas songs until their effect is like a child practicing a violin for the first time. Companies have Christmas parties that are like class reunions: people either really like them or really dislike them. People spend money they don’t have buying gifts people don’t need or even want. Fruitcake, lights hanging from roofs, Christmas movies, and Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town all make their annual appearance. But despite culture’s efforts, we haven’t ruined Christmas.


John is the most succinct of the biblical writers when it comes to his account about Christmas. He simply says the Word became flesh. Theologians call it incarnation. Luke gives a few more details. Mary gives birth. It wasn’t easy for her. She and Joseph couldn’t afford the Embassy Suites and the Motel 6 was booked, so they found a barn. The local pharmacy was out of epidurals and the midwife was on vacation for the holidays, so Mary and Joseph were pretty much on their own. The birth wasn’t as peaceful as most nativity sets indicate. The blood, the pain, the fears, and the tears—they were all present. They had to be. But out of Mary’s agony came a fragile baby and the world hasn’t been the same since. 

A worn out Mary looked into the eyes of the baby. She didn’t notice the blue or green or brown eyes. Instead she saw the Light of the World. The wiggly baby she held in her tired arms was the Resurrection and the Life. She fed from her breast the One who one day would defeat and destroy death. She experienced Christmas like nobody else ever has: God coming to be with us

It was dark outside that night. They couldn’t find a plug-in for the incubator, so Joseph built a fire to keep the baby warm. A warm flicker of light defeated the cold darkness of the world. It was a sign of things to come. 

The baby became a boy and the boy became a man. At the end of his life the tears, the fears, the pain, and the blood made their return and the world was about to change again. He rested in a wooden manger as a baby. Decades later he hung on a wooded cross as a man. His agony became our life. 

It’s a gift. In Latin it’s gratia. In Greek it’s charis. In English we simply call it grace. We can’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. It is available to all of us no matter how good or how bad we are and thank God for that! We can either accept it or not accept it. If we don’t, nothing else really matters. If we do, nothing else really matters either. Because now and in the end, there is nothing quite like the promise of God’s presence: God is with us. That is what Christmas and life is all about. 

Merry Christmas, 

Craig

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Give Us Your Peace

A prayer for God's peace in our lives.
To be prayed at The Water's Edge this Sunday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Giving Up On Perfect

Sunday's sermon on giving up on perfect. We looked at three lessons from Mary:

1. Life will be bought, but life can also be great.

2. Nobody chooses your joy except you.
3. When in doubt what to do, take the next step.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Leadership Development

In this series of columns, we are looking at the difference between a take-off and a launch for The Water’s Edge, beginning on January 1st, 2012, as we become a United Methodist Church separate from Faith-Westwood. The first two columns were on areas we have thrived in and are going to even do greater things in the future: missions and ministry to children and students. Serving hurting and marginalized people and loving and developing children and students was Jesus’ priority and will continue to be our priority as well. The third column discussed the vision to be and be known as a kind and generous congregation while simultaneously resourcing the vision God gives us. The next column was on the importance and priority of small groups. Last week we looked at our “invest and invite” strategy. Jesus spent most of his life doing two things: investing in the lives of others and inviting them to follow him. This week we will look at leadership and discipleship development.


Jesus developed twelve leaders. They weren’t rabbis. They were ordinary people. Fisherman, tax collectors, and tradesmen. They followed him and became his disciples. Jesus changed their world. After Jesus changed their world, the disciples changed the world. 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Mead 

Part of our vision is to change lives so that we can influence and transform the world. We will spend significant time and energy investing in our development as leaders and disciples so that our lives will be changed and so that we are equipped to transform the world. 

We have two initiatives in the near future to develop leaders and disciples. The first of these is a leadership retreat on February 3rd and 4th. If you are on an administrative team, lead a small group, lead a serving team / ministry, or are feeling led to become a leader in any area at The Water’s Edge I want to encourage you to attend this retreat. We will worship, pray, learn, grow, develop, and have fun together. 

The second initiative is called “Twenty.” From January to August, we are going to intentionally disciple and develop twenty people who are new or fairly new to The Water’s Edge. We will learn about, experience, and be encouraged in the following areas: Discipleship, small groups, giving, vision, serving, inviting, and leading. I am so excited for this new ministry. If you are interested in joining us for this ministry…email me at craig@watersedgeomaha.com. 

I know God has gifted many of you to lead. My prayer is that you will use these skills to help The Water’s Edge connect people to God, to connect people to each other, and to serve our community and the world. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig

Friday, December 2, 2011

Invest and Invite

Week 5 in a series of 7 Columns

In this series of columns, we are looking at the difference between a take-off and a launch for The Water’s Edge, beginning on January 1st, 2012, as we become a United Methodist Church separate from Faith-Westwood. The first two columns were on areas we have thrived in and are going to even do greater things in the future: missions and ministry to children and students. Serving hurting and marginalized people and loving and developing children and students was Jesus’ priority and will continue to be our priority as well. The third column discussed the vision to be and be known as a kind and generous congregation while simultaneously resourcing the vision God gives us. Last week’s column was about small groups. This week we look at our “invest and invite” strategy. Jesus spent most of his life doing two things: investing in the lives of others and inviting them to follow him.


Investing in people begins with a heart for people. Jesus loved all and had great compassion. We have to care or the “invest and invite” strategy doesn’t work. As we seek God’s heart and mind, it becomes more natural and easier to focus our lives on others and connect with them so that they know we care. Investing is simply building meaningful relationships with people who naturally fall within our circles—neighbors, co-workers, classmates, friends, etc... A disciple does the same thing Jesus did: Invest ourselves in others by giving our time, energy, compassion, and love. Let me encourage you—just be a friend with no strings attached. Be like Jesus: invest time and energy befriending hurting people, people going through transitions, and people not active in a church. Know these friendships are not an accident. Who are you investing in?

Friendships open doors to invite people to serve, connect, grow, or worship with you. Make an invitation after you have earned the right to be heard and when inviting is the loving thing to do. “No” or “not yet” will be common responses to an invitation. “Yes” will be a common response as well. Either way, continue being their friend and praying for them! You are most likely their most common connection to God!

A long time ago, a girl I had a crush on, invited me to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting. I went, but to be honest I was more interested in her than I was in Jesus. I don’t have a clue what happened to her, but I am forever grateful because her invitation changed my life!

Last week, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, over 700 adults and children worshipped and learned and experienced God at The Water’s Edge. Although some exceptions exist, most of us are at The Water’s Edge because somebody invited us. The crowd that gathered around Jesus was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things. –Mark 4:1-2 We believe the teachings of Jesus changed the world, so we invest and invite.

The best is yet to come…

Craig