Friday, December 28, 2012

Things to Stop Doing for a Better 2013 and a Better Life

It’s almost a new year. Most of us usually come up with a few things we want to do so that we have a better life: Exercising regularly, spending more time with family, and getting organized. All are noble endeavors. Most of us would do well at doing each of them or something similar. But true transformation happens when we stop doing certain things. Think about the possibilities of what your life would look like if you stopped doing the following:



Stop neglecting your relationship with God. Use God’s wisdom and resources to heal you and become the person God created you to become. 

Stop holding on to your past failures and hurts. You have failed before and you have been hurt. Your past will not define or predict your future unless you let it. Stop letting it. Instead of lamenting over past failures and hurts, learn from them, and do your part to make tomorrow better than yesterday. 

Stop running from problems and dysfunctional behaviors. Avoiding real issues that need to be dealt with are not going to move you forward in life. Prioritize and tackle your problems one at a time. 

Stop pleasing people. It is not possible to fully and continually please another person. So stop trying. Do you really want an imperfect person’s perceptions about you to determine your self-worth? Listen to people. Serve people. Love people. But don’t let others determine your value and happiness. 

Stop being indecisive about what you want. Find your passion and pursue it. Today. There are only so many tomorrows. A year from now, you will wish you had started today. You won’t get to choose when or how you are going to die. But, you can decide how you are going to live today. Define and chase your dreams. 

Stop being afraid to take a few risks. Your greatest regrets in life will not be times you have fallen or not succeeded. Your greatest regrets in life will be the opportunities you didn’t take. You can get up from a fall. You can’t make a shot you don’t take. 

Stop being ungrateful. Envy and jealousy are cruel criminals. They steal today’s blessings like no other. Every moment you spend practicing envy and jealousy, you miss the beauty of life’s many blessings. And you have many of them! You will not experience contentment if you don’t enjoy and if you aren’t intentionally thankful for your current blessings. 

Stop not living in the present. Life’s greatest moments are spontaneous and not planned. We can plan and create environments where great moments happen, but we must live in the present to experience the great moment. We were not created to be spectators in this once-to-be-lived-and-never-to-be-repeated life. We are participants. So participate. Today. 

The best is yet to come (especially if you are able to stop doing these things)... 

Craig

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stories from The Water's Edge

Here is the video we showed at our Christmas Eve worship services on Sunday and Monday nights. It's so cool to see what an extraordinary God can do through ordinary people!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The King and the Humble Maiden

It's Christmas Day. We celebrate the birth of Jesus. Soren Kierkegaard tells a parable about why God came to the world as a human. Fully human and fully God.


There once was a king who loved a humble maiden. This king was of uncommon royal lineage. He was a king above kings, with power and might to make all others humble before him. Statesmen trembled at his pronouncements. None dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all who opposed him. The wealth of his holdings was unfathomable. Tribute arrived on a daily basis from lesser kings who hoped to gain his favor.

And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden who lived in the poorest village in his vast kingdom. He longed to go to this maiden and announce his love for her, but here arose the king’s dilemma: how to declare his love? Certainly, he could appear before her resplendent in his royal robes and surrounded with the Royal Guard, ready to carry her away in a carriage inlaid with gold and precious stones. He could bring her to the palace and crown her head with jewels and clothe her in the finest silks. She would surely not resist this type of proposal, for no one dared to resist the king.

But would she love him?

She might say she loved him. She might be awed by his royal splendor and tremble at the thought of being blessed with such an amazing opportunity. She might tell herself that she would be foolish to reject such a marriage proposal. But would she love him, or would she go through the motions all the while living a life of empty duty, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she love him or regret the moment of being face to face with the overwhelming grandure of the king?

Or would she be happy at his side, loving him for himself and not for his title or riches or power?

He did not want a wife who behaved as a subject to his royal decrees, cringing at his word and unwilling to do anything but agree with all he said and did. Instead, he wanted an equal, a queen whose love knew no restrictions or limitations. He wanted an equal whose voice would speak to him at all times without hesitation. Love with his beloved maiden must mean equality with her. He wanted a relationship with the woman that had neither barriers nor walls in which he was not a king and she was not a poor subject of the crown. The love shared between them would cross the chasm that threatened to keep them apart, bringing the king and peasant together and making the unequal equal. In short, he wanted the maiden to love him for himself and not for any other reason.

He had to find a way to win the maiden’s love without overwhelming her and without destroying her free will to choose. The king realized that to win the maiden’s love, he had only one choice. He had to become like her, without power or riches and without the title of king. Only then would she be able to see him simply for who he was and not for what his position made him. He had to become her equal, and to do this he must leave all that he had.

And so one night, after all within the castle were asleep, he laid aside his golden crown and removed his rings of state. He took off his royal robes of silk and linen and redressed himself in the common clothes of the poorest of the kingdom. Leaving by way of the servant’s entrance, the king left his crown, his castle, and his kingdom behind. As the next day’s sun rose in the east, the maiden emerged from her humble cottage to find herself face to face with a stranger, a common man with kindly eyes who requested an opportunity to speak with her and, in time, to court her for her hand in marriage.

And so the courtship continues.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thoughts on Christmas

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 quite 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 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! 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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Carols: Angels We Have Heard on High

We had over 850 people in worship on Sunday. Here is the message from the 9:00 a.m. worship experience. A DVD of the Christmas musical will be available on Sunday morning.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Give Us Your Peace

Dear God - 

In places like Somalia and Sudan – Connecticut and Korea 
Bullets fly - Children die - Parents cry 
Give us your peace 

Broken hearts 
Lives too short 
Fear of life and fear of death 
Give us your peace


Tears fall down our cheeks like rain from the sky 
Knots in our stomach and sleepless nights 
Worries about tomorrow compete for space in our mind with regrets from the past 
Give us your peace 

Restlessness, impatience, annoyances, intolerance, frustration, and anger 
They fill our lives like melted snow floods a fragile river 
Give us your peace 

Prince of Peace – Take our burdens and give us rest. 
Wonderful Counselor – Show us the way to peace. 

Through the deepest valleys 
In the darkest places 
During the times we are completely alone 
Show us the way to peace 

Peace with You 
Peace with others 
Peace with the world 
And peace with ourselves 
Give us your peace 

Dysfunction, dismay, and despair – They exist in the world. 
But you have overcome the world 
Help us to be overcomers who embrace your peace 

We give you our fears 
We offer you our failures 
Our hearts are no longer troubled because of your peace 

You are God and your peace surpasses all understanding 
Guard our hearts and our minds 
Teach us your presence is greater than our struggles. 
Give us your peace. 

Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Children

This is Sunday's column. I wrote it a few days ago. Our Children's Christmas Pageant is Sunday morning at 10:30 and the following was written to share how Jesus and Paul use children as a metaphor for an abundant life.

The timing of this post is coincidental to the events of today. The school shooting in Connecticut is heartbreaking. Being the parent of a Kindergartener and hanging around an elementary school for the last seven years, my feelings are anger, fear, confusion, and sympathy. This column doesn't seek to address what happened today as if any column, from me or anybody else, could.


Children. Nothing quite like them. 

Childish. The mess on the family room floor. The loss of appetite when the Brussels sprouts and baked chicken come out of the oven and the simultaneous reemergence of the appetite when the key lime pie comes out of the refrigerator a few minutes later. They can be selfish, egocentric, unreasonable, quarrelsome, and spoiled. People don’t necessarily grow out of such things the way a baby grows out of diapers or the way a young adult grows out of acne. One has to make a concerted effort to put such behaviors behind us. Paul sums it up at the end of his discussion of love when he writes: 

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put my childish ways behind me. – 1 Corinthians 13:11 

Childlike. But it was Jesus who tells us to become like children. 

The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become childlike, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. -Matthew 18:1-4 

Jesus is talking to a group of childish men. They want to know about order of importance, pecking order, and how to get to the top. Their selfishness and egocentric life has emerged like cream rises to the top of a bowl of porridge. Then Jesus tells them they don’t really have a clue and they need to become a lot more like this little guy he just plucked from the crowd. The little boy stands there. All the disciples are looking at him. Jesus is talking about him. He is innocent: unable to wear a mask or be anything other than what he truly is. No point in neurotically comparing and competing against others when one is blissfully being oneself. His eyes are wide-eyed and full of faith when the great teacher summoned him. He is up for an adventure. 

This is what Jesus meant by humility. Not modesty, polite self-deprecation, or thinking ill of yourself. Not saying that you aren’t much of a poker player, when you and everybody else knows you are. It’s more like this: When the chips are down, the boy knew the cards in his hand. He didn’t pretend to be anything other than what he was and trusted in the one who called him. Authentic. Bona fide. Faithful. And that is more than enough. 

If God’s Kingdom is what you are seeking, Jesus says be like a child. It’s not an achievement you accomplish or a box you check-off. Instead, it’s a way of life and a rather splendid one at that. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Carols: O Come All Ye Faithful

A sermon on how a life with Christ moves us from being doubtful, depressed, and defeated to faithful, joyful, and triumphant.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Prayer on Joy

Dear God, 

Sometimes I feel sad. 
Sometimes I experience regret and remorse. 
Sometimes my life is filled with disappointment, doubt, and despair.



Take away whatever is preventing me from embracing the joy You freely give.
Purify me from my sins. 
Remove the stain of my guilt. 
Make me pure and holy. 
Give me back my joy again. 
          I have been settling for less. Sometimes a lot less. 
Create in me a clean heart, O God. 
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation. 
Make me willing to obey You. (Psalm 51:7-12) 

Help me to find joy in all things: (Philippians 4:4) 
          The trials of life where I can grow and depend fully on You. (James 1:2) 
          The victories and successes because of my growth and Your grace. 
          Times of busyness and boredom. 
          And typical, normal, and ordinary days.

Transform dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships into flourishing friendships. 
Don’t let others steal or diminish my joy! 
Place people in my life who will bring me joy. 
Place people in my life I can share my joy with. 

Teach me to rejoice in hope, 
     be patient in tribulation, 
          and consistent in prayer. (Romans 12:12) 
Empower me to keep on asking for more of You 
     and more joy in my life. (John 16:24) 
Help me to trust in Your unfailing love 
     and not things of the world that will let me down 
          so that my joy depends only on You. (Romans 14:17) 
Lead me from any sorrows I currently am experiencing 
     to an abundant and eternal relationship with You— 
          a relationship filled with joy. (John 16:22) 

I give You my disappointment, doubt, and despair. 
I give You my regret and remorse. 
I give you my sorrows. 
Give me joy and help me receive and embrace it. 

Amen.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

O Holy Night - Hope

This morning we start a new sermon series as we use five Christmas Carols as launching pads to explore the biblical truth about Christmas: what Christmas means for the world and what it means for us. 

The first carol is “O Holy Night.” It’s a song we would rather hear being sung than trying to sing it ourselves. It takes a good singer to sing the song well. But when it’s sung well, no other carol is quite like it. The song is originally a French poem (Minuit, Chr├ętiens – Midnight, Christians) put to music by another Frenchman. A decade later, the song is about 150 years old, it was translated into English.




Part of the English version goes like this: 

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 

In this short verse, we discover a truth about humanity and a truth about God.

The truth about humanity is that we live in a weary world. Watch the news or observe the world. You’ll understand what I am talking about. People are tired, worn-out, and discouraged. Emotionally, financially, physically, relationally, and spiritually – it is difficult to be healthy and whole in all areas of life. Sometimes life is tough. Sometimes life is really tough. 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28

The truth about God is that God’s hope is as real as the sun that becomes visible when the new day starts and the night vanishes. 

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. –Psalm 39:7 

Hope means something like this: In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, we stand on holy and sacred ground because Jesus once walked among us and still does. Hope means God knows us and out of our weariness God rescues us so that we can become the person God created us to become. Hope means that our pain and mourning and confusion will be overcome by God’s grace, healing, and salvation. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. –Romans 15:13 

Culture teaches us that the holidays are about parties and presents and lights. All these are good. But at the core of Christmas, better things exist. And the first of these is hope. 

I look forward to discovering, embracing, and living out the rest of God’s gifts with you during this season of Advent and Christmas. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig

Monday, November 26, 2012

How to Fry a Turkey

Benjamin and David give extensive, step-by-step instructions on how to fry a turkey.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has arrived. The turkey is in the oven. The pumpkin pies are ready to be eaten. The cranberry and oranges are being ground together. 
 
The boys at Silver Dollar City last night

Some people are planning shopping trips. Many are travelling and taking vacations. Amber, Benjamin, David and I are on a little trip. I take a moment to pause and think about the things I am thankful for. 

1. Nick Baker – He is the guy speaking for me this week which means I get a week off. A time my family and a time of rest. People regularly ask me when he is going to speak again. Sunday is the day. The Water’s Edge couldn’t be in better hands! 

2. For the seasons of the year: apples and pumpkins and piles of leaves in the fall; snowmen and crisp air in the winter; tulips and green grass and warmer temperatures in the spring; and sweating and swimming in the summer. 

3. The Bible. God has a way of speaking to me every time I read it. Comforting me when I’m afflicted and afflicting me when I am comfortable. 

4. That I live in a country where I can vote. 

5. For the teachers who teach my two sons. The teachers make the boy’s lives better. 

6. For the basic physical necessities in life: food to eat, a house to live, and clothes to wear. Although the clothes don’t seem to fit as well as they used to.

7. Amber. She should actually be at the top and Nick Baker should be buried here in the middle. 

8. Benjamin and David. Playing jokes on each other, watching them grow, loving them, being loved by them. The whole father – son idea God came up with is a splendid idea. 

9. To live in a country with abundant resources: power and fresh water are a dream for many people in the world. 

10. Being able to run without pain again and being able to walk without pain the day after I run. 

11. That I’m saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) 

12. That I serve a church with the greatest people I have ever known: People who are examples of giving, serving, forgiving, and loving. 

13. For my small group. It is an eclectic group of men and women who laugh, learn, and pray together. 

14. For a big, goofy Newfoundland dog Georgia who has been part of our family for twelve years. 

15. That God is with me and I have no reason to fear the present or the future. (Isaiah 43:5) 

16. The trails at Platte River State Park, dirt, mud, hills, deer, wild turkey, my Brooks Cascadia 7s, re-creation, and Sabbath. 

17. Prayer. Forgiveness. Good friends. Hope. Laughter. Grace. A place in God’s Kingdom. That I am loved by God. (John 15:13) 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Craig

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fourteen Thousand Words

From my run at the lake this morning. The fog and the sun made it a photographer's dream.















Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Best Fried Chicken Ever

Lambert's has the best fried chicken I have ever eaten.
The chicken and dumpling soup, candied yams, rolls,
fried potatoes, applesauce, and fried okra were all good too.

David standing up on the booth requesting a throwed roll.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

WE Commit - Sermon

Today's sermon wrapped up the WE imagine sermon series and the WE imagine campaign! The church has such dedicated and wonderful people!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Saturday with David

David and I spent the day together watching football. It was a perfect day for it and almost a perfect day.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Omaha at Dawn

I was running on F Street about 6:30 this morning. I turned around at 204th Street and saw this. Had to stop and take a picture.

Omaha at Dawn

Thursday, November 15, 2012

WE Commit - Column

Commitment. It’s about as misunderstood as often as it is misspelled. Many are afraid of commitment. Others deduct commitment limits choices and therefore limits life. And others are afraid of failing—so we think that not committing reduces our chances of failing. 

Commitment isn’t the opposite of freedom. Commitment is the beginning of freedom. Freedom isn’t the ability to choose between many things or people or situations. That is chaos. And chaos isn’t freedom.

The sun setting over The Water's Edge property at 195th and Harrison


Freedom is simply the ability to truly be oneself. Nothing more and nothing less. And that is where commitment comes in. Jesus says that true freedom is achieved when we are committed to God, to others, and have an appropriate level of commitment to ourselves. 

The Water’s Edge is about commitment. We exist to help people commit to God. We exist to connect people to each other and allow people to commit to one another: families, friendships, small groups, and teams. We exist to commit to helping each other raise our children together. And we exist to commit to helping the hurting, poor, marginalized, and oppressed—right here in Omaha and all over the world. 

WE decided, from day one, WE weren’t going to just be consumers of a religious product, but participants in the Kingdom of God. Religion isn’t just part of our lives; Christianity is the relationship which drives all other areas of our lives. The Water’s Edge isn’t about what God can do for us; The Water’s Edge is about what God does in us and through us. 

Today is the last day of our WE imagine Capital Campaign. It’s been a journey. I have served churches much of my adult life. I have been blessed to serve with committed people in all these congregations. However, the WE imagine Leadership Team, specifically, and the church leadership, in general, have redefined and set a new standard of excellence for demonstrating what it means to be committed to God, each other, and the community. The time, the effort, the prayers, the sacrifice, the commitment—they all inspire the pastor. To date, 47 families have committed over $800,000 toward the purchase of land. That is over $17,000 per family! That is also commitment. Reaching our $1,200,000 goal to own the 23.3 acres of land on Harrison Street and the Ministry Center at 180th and Center and to be completely debt free in three years isn’t going to be easy. But nothing in life worthwhile is ever easy. People are going to have to give at levels we haven’t given before. But the people of The Water’s Edge have risen, responded, met, and surpassed every challenge and obstacle WE have ever faced. This challenge will be no different. 

Tomorrow is also the first day of the rest of our lives together. WE will keep loving and serving God, each other, our city, and the world. WE will follow wherever God leads us as WE remain committed to God, each other, and the world. 

The best it yet to come… 

Craig

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WE Commit - Commitment Sunday

Dear Church Family, 

We had an incredible celebration yesterday during and after worship. We had over 700 people present! We have come a long way in a short time! 
 
Sunday, December 11th, at The Water's Edge

The children singing, the recognition of those who served the church by constructing and finishing the ministry center, the video testimonies of what the church means in people’s lives, and the worship music made yesterday a memorable day. So did the lunch, the children’s activities, and magic show! If you weren’t able be at church yesterday, I hope you will watch the video of the worship experience or look at the pictures online. 

One of the high points of the morning came when we announced that $803,962 has been pledged so far from 47 households for our WE imagine campaign. That is a three-year pledge of over $17,000 per household! The congregation cheered loudly at this good news and they should have. These families have sacrificed and led by example. We are off to a great start! 

Our Challenge Goal for the WE imagine Campaign is $1,200,000. This will pay for the 23.3 acres at 198th and Harrison Street and associated costs. It will also fully pay off our new Ministry Center. If we reach our goal, we will be totally debt free in three years and will be ready to begin building a church campus that will serve God, our people, and our community for generations to come.

Many in our congregatiton have not been asked to give financially up to this point in the WE imagine Campaign. That changes as of right now. The Challenge Goal is reachable, but achieving this goal is going to take additional sacrifice from the remainder of our families. For us to achieve our goal, most households will need to give at levels they haven’t previously given. That is where you come in. 

We have included a pledge card in this mailing. We want all households who call The Water’s Edge their church home to participate in the WE imagine Campaign. At the end of the worship experience, this Sunday, November 18th, we will encourage everyone to bring their commitment cards forward during communion and place them in the offering baskets. If you are unable to worship with us this Sunday, you can use the return envelope to mail in your pledge card. Calls will begin on Monday, November 26th, to those who haven’t turned in their pledge cards. It is important to note that the pledge you will be making is a three-year pledge over and above your current support to the church budget. 

In our short history, the people of The Water’s Edge have demonstrated the resolve and the ability to rise up and collectively respond to every challenge the church has faced. No obstacle has been too big. Your vision, imagination, grace, commitment, and generosity inspire me. I ask you to pray during the next few days. I also encourage you to make a financial sacrifice and help lead the church as we resource God’s vision together.

The best is yet to come… 

Craig Finnestad

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

WE Celebrate - Worship

About as beautiful as beautiful gets.

AJ, the band, and the kids leading worship

Monday, November 12, 2012

WE Celebrate - Sermon

WE celebrated all God has done and is doing at The Water's Edge and took some time to dream about the future. WE also got an update on the WE imagine Campaign. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

WE Celebrate - Column

Some call it a celebration. Others may call it a feast. The word party can be used as well. It’s people gathering together and doing something enjoyable to mark a significant event or a happy day. Graduations are celebrations. So are birthdays and anniversaries. Weddings are too.

Today we celebrate. We celebrate God’s presence, God’s power, and God’s promise. We aren’t celebrating that life is perfect. We are celebrating the One who is. The One who cheers and smiles when times are going good. The One who helps in times of need. The One who holds in times of despair.



The Water’s Edge has lots to celebrate. Five years ago we were a small ministry meeting in a middle school lunchroom. Things have changed. Last week we had over 650 people worshipping, connecting, learning, and growing. During the last five years we have fed thousands of people in Omaha; sent hundreds of people across the country and the world to serve poor and hurting people; and given tens of thousands of dollars to missionaries with whom we partner. 

Each Sunday morning we invest in the lives of children. We have the best children’s ministry around. Our volunteers are very dedicated and creative people! Our middle and high school youth ministry is larger today than the group of people who worshipped at Russell Middle School five years ago. We are spiritually investing in our students! 

This fall we had over two dozen adult small groups. Men and women laughing, praying, sharing, eating, learning, and serving together. Existing friendships are being strengthened and new friendships are being formed. 

This past week we moved into our new ministry center. This wonderful building was made possible by our congregation’s generosity and the labor of many of our people. A few weeks ago we unanimously agreed to purchase over 23 acres of land at 198th and Harrison Streets. Next week we will commit to funding our property. 

I have a feeling in early December, when we announce the results of the WE imagine Campaign, we will be celebrating again. As a congregation, The Water’s Edge has risen up and taken on every challenge we have ever faced. I have no reason to believe the future will be any different. Partly because I know you. You are committed, generous, passionate, and growing. And partly because I know God. His provision always accompanies His vision. His will does not take us where His grace will not sustain us. 

So today we celebrate God and what He is doing in us and through us. We celebrate relationships that are healing and helpful. We celebrate children and youth who are growing and developing. We celebrate the opportunity to serve and love others—just like Jesus served others and just like God loves us. And we celebrate the unlimited possibilities of our future and cling on to the promise that the best is yet to come. 

In Christ, 

Craig

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Once in a Lifetime

David fell asleep during tonight's bath.
He must have been exhausted, relaxed, or both!

Monday, November 5, 2012

WE Give - Sermon



A sermon on living a generous life.


2 Corinthians 9

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gratitude and Hope

I sit at my desk and see a reflection of myself in the glass of my bookcase. It’s a pretty dim reflection. Which is just as well. My five year old son David says I look like a hot dog when I wear the shirt I am wearing. 

The books behind the glass have absorbed the reflection for years. The books are no longer on the shelves; they are in boxes. Books on theology and Latin and communication theory. Most of them are in boxes now and will be there for quite some time. The shelves are dusty. My waste basket is full. A picture of my grandpa Adolf, Amber, and me remains on my desk. It is my favorite picture and will always be. Pictures of two boys share the wall space and four college and graduate school diplomas. They will be taken down whenever I have a few free moments. Today isn’t looking very good.

A few of the books needing to be moved


I have been in this office for over seven years. Some of my best friends work down the hall. I walked through the worship center the other day. I remembered the dozens of weddings and funerals. As I look at the door to my office I see hundreds of faces of loving men, women, and children who have stopped in for a visit. Most because they wanted to. Some because they had no where else to go. In a few days I’ll turn in my keys. I’ll drive out of the parking lot for the last time and look into the rearview mirror with feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving. 

I’ll drive to another parking lot about five miles to the west and through the windshield will see our new ministry center. Again my thoughts will be thoughts of gratitude and thanksgiving. For a new church that has the vision and resources to purchase such a building. For the men, women, and children who volunteered hundreds of hours to turn this dream into a reality. For being part of the blessed beginnings of something much bigger than any of us and all of us. For hope and possibilities that are a gift from God. 

The ministry center will be a work in progress for a few weeks. Boxes to be unpacked. Furniture to be delivered. Pictures to be hung. Networks, copiers, office supplies, etc… In the chaos of moving, worship will still be planned, meetings will still happen, and columns will still be written. WE will successfully complete our WE imagine capital campaign, WE will have three Christmas Eve worship experiences and welcome hundreds from the community, and 2013 will be our best year yet! Order, rhythm, balance, and harmony will emerge from the disarray and commotion. 

Life is a lot like this, you know. We have a choice to look in the rear view mirror or through the windshield. Every once in a while we have to look and see what is behind us: we learn from those who have taught us and we learn from our mistakes. But too much looking in the rearview mirror makes it impossible to arrive at our destination. 

Remembering the past with gratitude and moving forward with hope, 

Craig

Monday, October 29, 2012

WE Pray - Sermon



A sermon on prayer.

Philippians 4


Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner,[b] to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.