Friday, February 17, 2012

A Little Bit About a Few Things

weImagine Journals

We handed them out last week and have more this week, if weren’t here last week or if you forgot yours. They are part study guide and part commitment journal. I encourage you to bring the journals to worship, take notes during the messages, read and reflect on some of the Scriptures and quotes each day, and pray about the level of commitment you are going to give to God. You can also find the weImagine Journals here


Last week I spoke on prayer. If you missed last Sunday, be sure to pick-up a CD this morning, listen to the podcast, or watch the message online. We have gotten a lot of feedback about the message. Most of the feedback is that the church wants to hear more teachings on prayer and to be given practical help on how to pray and opportunities to pray. We are planning on doing a short sermon series on prayer later in the year, starting a monthly prayer service, and offering a class on prayer this fall. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I encourage you to pray daily the simple prayer we are all praying: “Lord, what do you want to do through me?” 


Ash Wednesday (February 22nd) marks the beginning of Lent. Christianity teaches us to give a tenth of each year's income to the church for holy use. Observing the forty days of Lent does the same thing with roughly a tenth of the days of the year. After being baptized by John, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves. 

When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore? 

If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less? 

Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember? 

Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for? 

Lord, what do you want to do through me? 

To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.
(Thanks to Frederick Buechner - Wishful Thinking – for his Teaching on Lent.) 

The best is yet to come… 


Friday, February 10, 2012

weImagine Campaign

Dear Water’s Edge Family, 

On January 1st, we entered a new season of ministry as we became The Water’s Edge United Methodist Church. The possibilities in front of us are unlimited. God has already blessed us and has blessed others through us in our short history together. 

We gather weekly at The Water’s Edge. Just like the crowd standing shoulder to shoulder at the water’s edge listening to Jesus, we crowd in a high school commons area to hear a word from God. Saints and sinners, broken and blessed, young and old. We gather. And we have a much bigger crowd today than we did a few years ago. We are one of the fastest growing United Methodist Churches in the country and we imagine greater things are still to come! 

We connect with each other. More people are in small groups than ever before. More people are serving alongside each other than ever before. New friendships are being forged everyday. 

We serve our city and the world. No church in Omaha collects as much food as we collect for hungry people right here in our city. In the last year we have sent teams and tens of thousands of dollars to places like Africa, Belize, rural South Dakota, and Joplin, Missouri. 

We commit to raising children, developing youth and creating strong families. We commit to resourcing the vision God has given us. We commit to each other and to God that we will live as fully devoted followers. 

Just over a year ago we started a 9:00 worship experience to open up some chairs at our 10:30 worship experience. The plan worked, but a year later we find ourselves in a similar position. The 9:00 worship experience has doubled in size and the 10:30 worship experience is again crowded, if not full. Not to mention the kids: our children’s ministry has tripled in size in the last three years. The fact is that we will soon outgrow the high school where we worship God and develop children. 

So now we imagine. We imagine out of necessity and we imagine because we know God’s dream is that our best days are in front of us. We imagine a place for gathering, connecting, serving, and committing. A place where God’s vision becomes our mission. A place not just for us, but a place we share with our community and invite them to follow Jesus with us. 

This is our church. The time is now. This morning I will be sharing about prayer. We have done nothing on our own to this point and we are not going to be doing anything on our own anytime soon. It all starts with God: His vision, His grace, His power, His resources, and His provision. I invite you today to begin praying for the WE Imagine campaign and ask for God’s guidance in how you might join the vision. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig Finnestad

Thursday, February 2, 2012

42 Things

42 Things I’ve Learned (or at least should have learned) in 42 Years: Wit and Wisdom from Saints, Sinners, and My Journey with God

42. I have learned that each day is a gift. I should accept it, embrace it, use it, and share it.

41. I have learned it is in giving that I receive.

40. I have learned to never give up on something I can’t go a day without thinking about.

39. I have learned I can’t change a darn thing about the past. I can and should learn from it: the good, the bad, and ugly. And, somehow, I have to put it behind me as well. Doing things such as this sure beats the alternative.
38. I have learned that it is the pebble in your shoe and not the mountain in front of you that will likely wear you out.
37. I have learned the journey of the thousand miles begins with a single step.
36. I have learned that to risk is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to risk is to lose oneself. –Søren Kierkegaard
35. I have learned that our life always expresses our dominant thoughts. It’s kind of like this: our thoughts become our words which become our actions which become our habits which become our character which becomes our destiny.
34. I have learned that love is not an adverb; it is a verb.
33. I have learned that friends are the brothers and sisters that God didn’t give us by birth.
32. I have learned that we look most like Jesus when we serve others.
31. I have learned that anger is destructive to everyone who is in proximity of the angry person. I’ve also learned that the person who suffers the most from anger is the one who is angry.
30. I have learned worrying works. Ninety-five percent of the things I worry about never happen.
29. I have learned that I would rather fail as a pastor than fail as a father.
28. I have learned that I should 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.
27. I have learned that joy is not in things; it is in us.
26. I have learned when life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.
25. I have learned that the entire population of the world, with the exception of one person, consists of people other than myself.
24. I have learned that it is by grace I have been saved, through faith—and this not from myself, it is a gift of God. –Ephesians 2:8
23. I have learned that I am God’s masterpiece. –Ephesians 2:10
22. I have learned that big dreams lead to a big life.
21. I have learned that sometimes it’s not ready, aim, fire. Sometimes it’s ready, fire, aim! –Steve Sjogren
20. I have learned that the world is made up of imperfect people and, therefore, any relationship I am going to be in will also be imperfect. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” –Romans 3:23
19. I have learned that sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden; sin is forbidden because it is hurtful.
18. I have learned that in running, and in life, the will to win means nothing without the will to prepare. –Juma Ikangaa
17. I have learned that sometimes life is hard, but our response makes a difference. Pain in life is inevitable; suffering is optional.
16. I have learned that I can’t go back and start a new beginning, but I can start today and make a new ending. “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” –Philippians 3:13
15. I have learned vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is a nightmare.
14. I have learned to say “no” to some good things so that I can say “yes” to the best things.
13. I have learned that we can’t change other people. We can only change our reaction to those people.
12. I have learned that forgiveness is the key to contentment. Forgiving and living is better than remembering and resenting.
11. I have learned not to forget to love myself.
10. I have learned that one of the most productive uses of my time is investing in future generations.
9. I have learned that my attitude in life determines life’s attitude toward me.
8. I have learned that forty-two years from now I will be more disappointed by the things that I didn't do than by the ones I did do. I will dare, discover, and dream. -Mark Twain
7. I have learned that I am closest to God and my life makes most sense when I read the Bible daily.
6. I have learned it’s best to do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. –John Wesley
5. I have learned rest isn’t a waste of time. Rest is necessary for a fruitful life. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28
4. I have learned that God’s grace is sufficient for me, for my power is made perfect in weakness. -2 Corinthians 12:9
3. I have learned that the function of prayer is not necessarily to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. –Søren Kierkegaard
2. I have learned that God makes saints out of sinners. God has always been and will always be in the business of changing lives. Few things in life are as beautiful as a changed life.
1. I have learned that God loves me.