Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Little Bit about a Few Things

Safe Sanctuaries Training 

You may notice a few less people in worship today. That is good news! Over fifty adults who volunteer with children and students are in the building being trained to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our children. As the leader of a camp for kids in the summer, I have been through the training. As a parent of a sixth grader and a kindergartener, I’m grateful for all the adults who are devoting two and a half hours in our children this morning!

Prayer Wall - 

I want to encourage you to visit our new prayer wall. It is easy to access from a computer or mobile device and is a way we can support each other through prayer. I visit this site each morning and am finding it a great way to pray and connect with others in the congregation. 

Pray for our Mission Trips 

Our Belize Mission Trip is June 9th to June 17th. We have 15 people who will be providing medical, pharmacy, and optical services to men, women, and children in Belize. 

Our middle school mission trip is June 24th to June 30th in St. Louis. We have 35 students and adults who will be serving and growing together. 

Our high school mission trip is July 7th to July 15th in Savannah, Georgia. We have 64 students and adults who will be making a difference in the lives of the poor and elderly, forming friendship, and connecting with God. 

Vacation Bible School 

One of the highlights of every year is Vacation Bible School. Sunday, July 15th to Thursday, July 19th are the dates this year. Save the date! I encourage high school students and adults to serve our children and families by volunteering. 

September 9th to October 14th – 40 Days in the Word 

40 Days in the Word will be our fall sermon series and small group study. As a pastor, the most common question I get is something like this: “How do I read the Bible in a relevant way so that I can apply its principles to my life?” We will learn the Word, love the Word, and live the Word. New small groups will be forming and existing groups will be restarting. It will be an incredible experience!

October 21st to November 18th 

We will spend this time celebrating what God has already done, embrace what God is doing, and dream about what God will do in us and through us during our capital campaign to purchase land and to resource God’s vision for our future together. 

I hope to see you Sunday morning. 

Craig Finnestad

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thoughts on Mother's Day

The Bible tells us to honor our mother (Exodus 20:12). For some of us this task is simple and natural. For others it is difficult and contrived. Some mothers are nearly perfect. Others have made so many mistakes that only God can clean up the mess. Either way, God says, “Honor your mother.”

My mom, Bonita, is imperfectly perfect. Despite her demanding job as an accountant and parenting my three older siblings, she loved me like I was the only one to love. I ran track and cross country in high school and college. She drove thousands of miles to see me run around a 400 meter track countless times. She was my biggest fan – celebrating the victories and encouraging me on the days I wished I was on the golf team instead of being a distance runner. 

She is not perfect, but as far as moms go, I am blessed. She enjoys and loves her many grandchildren. But she still loves me like I am the only one there is to love. 

The role of being a parent is holy and sacred. Even if the parents are neither holy nor sacred, the role of parent is still sacred. Being a parent is ordained by God, the creator and sustainer of life. Being a parent has responsibilities and rights. The responsibilities are many. 

Entire books have been written on parenting: but praying, playing, listening, and modeling a Christian life are a good start. These responsibilities are for the parent of a six year old child and the parent of a sixty year old child. The rights are many as well: smelling the hair of a sleeping baby who has recently been bathed, laughing with the child exploring life, watching the child hit baseballs or dancing dances or singing songs, witnessing the child become who God wants the child to be, and having that child care for you when you are no longer able to care for yourself just like you once cared for the child when he or she was not able to take care of himself or herself. 

Today is Mother’s Day. God’s command to honor your mother applies today as it does every day. Honoring them doesn’t mean putting them on a pedestal or worshipping them. It means seeing them for who they are and who they are not. It means loving God and our neighbor as faithfully and selflessly as mothers at their best have tried to love us. It means listening to them, praying for them, playing with them, and taking care of them to the end of their days on earth. 

To mom, Amber, and all the mother’s reading this—Happy Mother’s Day! 

The best is yet to come… 


Friday, May 4, 2012

Commitment and Reward - Lincoln Marathon and Commitment Sunday

About four years ago I was standing on Main Street in Hopkinton, Massachusetts at ten o’clock in the morning with about 25,000 other people from all fifty states and over one hundred countries. We were waiting for the gun to go off to start the 112th Boston Marathon. A nor’easter was bearing down on New England. It was cold and a forty-mile-per-hour wind would be blowing in my face for the next three hours as I ran the 26.2 miles into Boston. The rain was relentless. 

Just like most other marathons I have run, I finished in about three hours. It wasn’t easy. I actually ended up in the hospital with hypothermia, but the toughest part about the marathon isn’t making it to the finish line, the toughest part is making it to the starting line.

Some of the weRun group from the 2011 Lincoln Marathon

You’ll notice a lot less people in worship today. Over 70 runners from The Water’s Edge are running the Lincoln Marathon or Half-Marathon. Many family and friends will be cheering them on. I’ll be doing the half marathon in Lincoln with Amber. We did her first 5K last fall. This race is ten miles farther than she has ever gone before. 

Each runner has had their own unique journey to get to the starting line. One morning or one evening, each of them had to take a scary first step. Many times each runner had to make the choice between quitting and continuing. They chose to continue. They have run through aches and pain, doubts and fears, heat and cold. The easy part is driving to Lincoln. The hard part was the regular training. 

The marathon at its best is a metaphor for life. The desire to win means nothing without the will to prepare to win. The desire to finish strong means nothing without the will to prepare to finish strong. Talent is not enough. Commitment produces results in all areas of life: running, relationships, and discipleship are no exceptions to this rule. 

You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. -1 Corinthians 9:24-25

By next Sunday our finisher’s medals will be hanging on a mirror or tucked away in a drawer. At best it will be an occasional reminder of commitment producing results. 

Next Sunday is Commitment Sunday at The Water’s Edge. We will be asked to commit to pray, to be present, to give, to serve, and to witness. Committing in these areas of life allows us to connect to each other and to God. The result of our Christian commitment is the eternal gold that never tarnishes. 

I look forward to committing with you. 

The best is yet to come…