Friday, January 25, 2013

WE Lead

WE Lead. I want you to spend an evening and part of the next day with me and a bunch of other people from The Water’s Edge. It may be the most important gathering of the year for The Water’s Edge: WE Lead.

Dates: Friday, February 8th from 7:00 to 9:00 and Saturday February, 9th from 9:00 to 2:00. Lunch is included on Saturday and childcare is available both Friday and Saturday. It is best if you can make it the entire time, but if you have other obligations, just come for the parts you are able. 

Where: The Club House at Tiburon Golf Course 

Last year we hade about 130 people who were able to participate. A snowstorm shortened our time together, but it was a great experience. This year will be even better. 

What WE will be doing 

1. WE will worship together. 
2. WE will hear from guest speakers who will teach, prepare, and inspire us. 
3. WE will break into groups to process what we are learning and to strategize and dream about our future. 
4. WE will spend some time getting to know others, eating great food, and laughing together. 

Why you should participate 

1. You will be challenged to grow in your relationship with God. 
2. You will meet new people and deepen existing friendships. 
3. You will learn about the future of the church; discover where you fit in; and be equipped to serve and lead as WE work to fulfill God’s vision for us. 
4. You will have fun. A lot of fun! 

A critical time for The Water’s Edge 

Last year, 2012 – WE Imagine, was an incredible year for The Water’s Edge. WE imagined and built a solid foundation for what the future of our church can become. This year, 2013 – WE Grow, is off to a great start. I see an almost unlimited potential for us as a church. WE have some of the greatest people of this church: committed and generous leaders and servants. WE have an incredible future property that will serve the church and the community for generations. WE are doing something special and our best days are in front of us. 

Our single biggest need right now is additional leaders and servants. That is where you come in. I encourage and challenge you to participate in WE Lead. It will be a great experience for you. And it will be essential for the church as WE dream, love, grow, serve, and lead together.

Register Sunday during worship or by email to

The best is yet to come… 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Overcoming the World

Hurting people. Jesus spent a lot of time loving them and serving them. 

A woman was caught in sin. The leaders of the community wanted to throw rocks at her. They asked Jesus what they should do. Jesus looked at her with compassion and simultaneously told the men, “Let the one who is sinless among you throw the first stone.” One by one, the people dropped their rocks and went on to the day’s next project. Jesus then said to the woman, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11) Instead of defining the woman by her broken past, Jesus gave the woman a second chance and offered her hope. Grace.

The man had leprosy. Jesus did the unthinkable. He reached out and pressed his fingers against the leper’s skin. It had probably been years since the leper had felt another human. Can you imagine what it would be like not to have another person touch you for extended periods of time? Being touched was what the man needed most. Jesus gave the person a sense of sacred-worth and dignity. The leprosy also disappeared. But, somehow the fresh skin wasn’t quite as valuable as a fresh spirit. (Matthew 8:1-3) No matter how far we have fallen, Jesus offers his healing touch. Healing. 

A paralyzed man was brought to Jesus. The man’s friends and family asked Jesus to heal him. Jesus said: “Your sins are forgiven." (Matthew 9:2) The people scratched the heads and looked at each other. Everyone thought that the man needed a physical cure and that if he could walk again all would be well. Jesus gave the man what we need most: forgiveness. Jesus “doesn’t give as the world gives,” which is just as well. (John 14:27) We desire what we want. God gives us what we need. Provision. 

Lazarus died. Mary and Martha were grieving. They told the story to Jesus. He listened. He comforted them. And then two simple words provide for us one of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible: Jesus wept. (John 11:35) Beautiful because God isn’t some disengaged, distant God who doesn’t care. Our pain is His pain. Our burdens are His burdens. Jesus then raised the dead man to life. God cares and He still raises the dead everyday. Dead people and dying people are given life and raised to new levels of life. The old becomes new. The lost is found. The sinner transforms into a saint. Love. 

Sin, loneliness, hurts, and grief are the things of the world. God gives grace, healing, provision, and love. God overcomes the world (John 16:33) and helps us do the same. 

The best is yet to come… 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

WE Just Bought a Van for Release Ministries

It was my first trip to the Douglas County Youth Detention Center. I walked through the building with the chaplain from Release Ministries. The cement walls and iron doors were in sharp contrast to his soft heart. He told me stories of how he used to live in a place much worse. The kids flocked to him. He encouraged some of them and offered tough words of love to others.

I noticed a boy in one of rooms. He looked a lot like my older son, Benjamin. The boy was probably a few years older. He seemed overwhelmed. I spoke to him for a few moments. He was shy and polite. I wondered why he was there. Not necessarily what he did, but why he did what he did. Did he have a dad who loved him? Was he seeking attention because nobody would give him attention? And I thought about where he would go when he got out of jail. What would happen to him next? 

After my tour, the founder of the ministry and the chaplain tried to sell me on the ministry. They didn’t need to. I was already sold. Investing in youth, visiting the prisoner, loving hurting people—it’s all in the front and center in the Gospel.

Today, a couple years later, The Water’s Edge and Release Ministry are partners. WE provide mentors and Bible study leaders. WE have done work projects at their group homes. WE support one of their missionaries financially.

I was recently challenged by one of our Release Bible study leaders to have The Water’s Edge buy a van for Release Ministries. He said it was a critical need and that he would make the first gift. It sounded like a big challenge which is the kind WE prefer. Last Sunday morning, for the first time, you learned of this need. And you responded the same way you always respond—with vision and generosity. WE not only met our goal to pay for the van in full – WE exceeded that goal by nearly $2,500. Last fall, Release asked us to build a deck at one of their group homes. We now have the money for the materials for the deck and will construct it this spring. 

A van is making its way around Omaha this week. A houseparent drives it. The passengers are teenagers who have recently been released from jail and are looking to get their lives back on track. They are being taken to schools, counseling appointments, and various other places to learn life skills. Your gift has made this possible. I am so grateful for your commitment to Christ and generosity to the world!

The best is yet to come… 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wesley's Covenant Prayer for Today - Video

Over two hundred years ago, John Wesley wrote a prayer for personal renewal and restoration. He encouraged Methodists to pray this prayer at the beginning of the new year. I rewrote the words to this prayer a few years ago. We prayed it in worship on Sunday. Here is an audio version with the text embedded. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Drake vs. Creighton

Scenes from the Drake - Creighton game tonight. I think I was about the only Drake fan (Class of 1993) at the CenturyLink Center. Creighton won by about 30 points or so. Amber had to work. Great night with the boys.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

UNO Hockey

Great night watching the Mavs play Colorado College. Benjamin enjoyed sitting next to the student section. David loved the zamboni. Amber and I liked watching the game.

Friday, January 4, 2013

WE Grow - An Introduction

Water's Edge family - This weekend we are going to start a year-long campaign, WE Grow, to help us grow in our relationship with God, others, and the world. We will be passing out binders that we will use during 2013 for our growth and development as disciples. Here is the cover page. Take a moment to review this important information. See you Sunday!

Hi Church Friends and Family,

I’m excited you have picked up this binder. It represents a journey we will be taking in 2013: WE Grow. The upcoming year will be divided into ten sections with each section lasting from three to six weeks. (If you begin worshipping with us during the year, as many of you will, you can start the WE Grow journal anytime!) We will focus on growth. Growth in our relationship with God. Growth in our relationships with others. Growth in our emotional, physical, and financial well-being. And, growth in our kindness and compassion to the world.

Each Sunday you will be provided with a one-page insert for this binder. Occasionally you will be provided additional resources such as prayers or devotional readings. The format will vary from section to section, but the goal is to help us engage God throughout the week. Each week will have questions for reflection, suggestions to focus our prayer life, and a weekly challenge to help us grow. Bring your binder on Sunday mornings to take notes and organize your resources. 

Christianity is not just about religion or theology. Jesus is fully human. He invites us to grow in our relationship with Him. Jesus is also fully God. He invites us to grow by applying His teachings and His lifestyle to our lives. 

As pastor, with God’s help, I will do my absolute best to make this year the most biblical, the most relevant, the most creative, and the most applicable that I possibly can. Our other preachers will strive for the same level of excellence. We will also do our best to make our weekend worship and the daily WE Grow devotional time with God both interesting and enjoyable! I welcome your prayers. 

I also invite you to utilize the WE Grow material regularly. We will only get out of this year what we put into it. Our output will not exceed our input! I encourage you to have a friend, family member, or a person in your small group hold you accountable for your progress. I also invite you to do the same for the other person. If you are married – the WE Grow devotional guides will be great to do together and will be a blessing to your marriage. 

If you have to miss a week of worship, we will post a printable version of the WE Grow journal on our website - - before the weekend worship services and we will post an audio and video of the weekend’s message usually by Monday evening. We will also have past WE Grow devotionals and CDs and DVDs of the weekend messages at the resource table on Sunday mornings. 

I’m looking forward to growing with you in 2013!

Craig Finnestad

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reflections on Turning One

Looking back and looking forward. Both are necessary. Jesus says not to spend too much time doing either of them or you will miss out on the present. But both are still necessary. Celebrate, recover, and learn from the past. Hope, dream, and plan for the future. And live for today. 

Last year at this time, The Water’s Edge had a worship service to celebrate our birth as a United Methodist Church. We committed to God and each other that we would generously give our time, energy, and resources to create a healthy and growing church that will serve people in Omaha and throughout the world.

2012 – A community of gathered people with new responsibilities and new opportunities 

You demonstrated kindness and compassion. We collected thousands of pounds of food for people right here in Omaha; we gave thousands of dollars to our missionaries in Africa and Europe; we sent dozens of people to serve in Belize, Georgia, and Missouri; and we canceled worship one day and hundreds of us loved and embraced our city. 

We created healthy and sustainable financial and information systems and a solid leadership structure. Many good people gave a lot of time, behind the scenes, and performed these necessary tasks with excellence. 

Your generosity allowed us to purchase a ministry center. Volunteers did most of the work to finish the building. The ministry center is a blessing to our church and community. 

Your vision led us to purchase 23.3 acres of land at 198th and Harrison Streets. This will be the home of our future church campus. To say that exciting times are in front of us is an understatement. 

Your commitment to God, The Water’s Edge, our community, and each other is allowing us to be debt free at the conclusion of our WE imagine Campaign. We have given or have pledged to give $1.3 million to fund and resource our land purchase. 

Dozens of volunteers serve weekly on children’s and youth ministry teams. We do nothing more important than this. 

You have continued to invite your friends and neighbors to worship, serve, and grow with us. Over 1,200 people worshipped at The Water’s Edge during our Christmas Eve worship experiences. 

2013 – A community of growing disciples planting seeds and preparing the soil for fruitfulness in our individual and collective lives 

My mentor once told me: “Healthy and growing people create healthy and growing churches.” During these next twelve months we are going to intentionally interact with the Gospel and grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Water’s Edge will provide resources and opportunities to both comfort and challenge you. The dream is, one year from now, that we have grown and experienced greater health in our relationships with God, each other, and the world. 

The best is yet to come…