Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rest and Reflection and Recreation this Labor Day Weekend

Oregon was the first state to recognize it in 1887. It became a federal holiday in 1894. Always the first Monday in September, Labor Day recognizes the contributions and achievements of American workers.

Labor Day Parade, Jackson Michigan

It means something different today than it did one hundred and twenty years ago. Today most consider Labor Day weekend the end of summer, the start of football season, an opportunity to get a few things done around the house, or a long weekend. The aroma of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs is more prevalent on Labor Day than any other Monday of the year. Parks are filled with people. The kids enjoy a day off from school. 

The English word labor is from the Latin word laborare. It means manual or physical work. To toil, struggle, have difficulty. We can understand why a woman having a baby is called labor. We can also understand why coal miners and steel workers and railroad builders used to march in parades in early September. The industrialization and modernization of America happened because of their sweat. 

Jesus was aware of labor. Physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual labor. He knew life wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy for the people he related to in the Middle East twenty centuries ago and life remains a challenge for people today. We are tired, stressed out, hurting, over-committed, under-resourced, facing difficulties, lonely, and struggling. Many of us are like this some of the time and some of us are like this much of the time.


Balance and Harmony

Jesus makes an invitation us: Come to me. All of you who labor and carry heavy burdens. If you are tired or burned out, come to me. And I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) 

The Greek word Jesus uses is ἀναπαύσω which is a little different than our word rest. Rest to us might be laying on a couch in front of a television or dreaming of being in a cabin in mountains or by a lake. Webster even describes rest as “freedom from labor.” Jesus didn’t see rest as inactivity, rather he uses ἀναπαύσω which implies balance, especially in life’s essential areas of imagination, physical wellness, mental wholeness, relational harmony, and spiritual solidarity with God. Jesus is not promising us life is going to be perfect, but he is promising us his presence and his participation in our lives. 

This Labor Day weekend, take Jesus up on his offer. Slow down a bit. Realize life isn’t about what we do, but who we are. Go to him. Pray. Give him some of your hurts and some of your burdens. Read a few chapters of one of the Gospels. Play. Serve a stranger. Journey with Jesus and accept his gifts of balance, harmony, rest, and grace. 

Happy Labor Day, 

Craig

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Balance

Nik Wallenda is hardly a household name. But every once in a while he captures the attention of the world. The latest time was just two months ago on June 23rd when he completed a quarter mile, 22 minute, tightrope walk over the Little Colorado River Gorge in the Grand Canyon in front of a world-wide audience on the Discovery Channel. Wallenda performed the stunt on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, about the size of a tennis ball, 1,500 feet above the river. He didn't wear a harness and stepped slowly and steady, even with 30 mph winds blowing across the gorge. Wallenda described the winds as "unpredictable" and noted that dust had accumulated on his contact lenses. He reported to the Discovery Channel: "It took every bit of me to stay focused the entire time."



Life is a balancing act and the stakes are high. No harnesses are allowed and the winds are varied and relentless. Dust from the world can impair our vision. Focus is required or balance is gone in a heartbeat. 

You know what it is like to lose balance in life. Lack of sleep. A broken relationship. Being too busy to do the things you want to do or be with the people you want to be with. Doing what is urgent and not what is important. Being forgetful and fragmented. Stress. Conflict. Anxiety. Boredom. Despair. 

Lives get out of balance for all sorts of reasons. Some times it’s no fault of our own. Cutbacks at work cause the loss of a job or maybe a medical diagnosis comes our way. Many times it is driven by an unhealthy culture: We do our best to keep up with the Jones family or we bought into the myth that busy is better. And other times it is our own dysfunctional behavior. We made a bad choice or two and lost our balance. 

It’s not God’s plan for our lives to be out of balance. Just like a loving parent, God’s plan for humanity is balance. Theologian Thomas Merton writes: “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” 

We have lost our balance before and will lose our balance again. Some us of may be trying to pick our selves up from the concrete right now. Recovery and healing to a place of balance is God’s desire for us and is a manifestation of grace. 

As the school year begins, balance can be a real challenge. We are going to be exploring what the Bible says about balance Sunday morning and Sunday evening in worship and throughout the week with our WE Grow guides. In the meantime, I pray all of us discover and embrace the grace of balance in our lives. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Day in Pictures

10:30 Worship at The Water's Edge

David Defending the Goal at Benjamin's Soccer Practice

From My Run at Platte River State Park

Friday, August 16, 2013

Back to School - Column

I don’t like the first day of school. The pictures we take every year of the boys in front of our roses. One boy is handsome and the other is cute. We get to the elementary school early, find a parking space, go inside, meet the teacher, and convince David to give us a kiss. We wait in a long line of cars, drop Benjamin off at the middle school, and convince him to give us a hug. After school we take them out for ice cream and hear stories of their first day of school. I still don’t like the first day of school.


I like coming home in the summer and going swimming with the boys. I like going down the basement and playing Mario Cart with them. Or walking across the street to the park or playing basketball in the driveway. I like staying up with them and watching a movie or a soccer game. I love Benjamin and David. I love spending time with them. I guess that is why I don’t like the first day of school. 

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. –Matthew 18:5 

Jesus loves children too. Not just mine, but all of them. And because Jesus loves children an imperative of the church is to love children too. 

Today is a day when The Water’s Edge showcases children and youth. It is always one of my favorite Sundays of the year. The kids in the Frog Pond (our Sunday school for children fifth grade and under) will move up a grade. They will have their backpacks blessed in worship. Middle school and high school students will lead much of the worship experience. The students who went on the mission trips this summer will share stories of redemption and grace. The student ministry fall kick-off is this Wednesday night. 

Since our beginning, The Water’s Edge has been and in the future will remain committed to partnering with families as we lead our children into a growing relationship with God as followers of Jesus Christ. Children and students are not the future of the church—they are an essential part of the church. 

I am making two challenges. The first is to parents. Be very proactive in having your children participate in the life of the church. As a new church we don’t have the facilities or the programs that we will have in a few years, but what we have right now is excellent and it’s getting better every week. The second is to all adults. Invest in our children. God has given us stewardship of these most valuable resources. Invest your time, invest your financial resources, invest your energy, invest your prayer, and invest your talents in welcoming and developing the young people Jesus loves so much. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WE Serve - Vlog

Remember - No 9:00 or 10:30 worship this Sunday morning. Meet at Millard West at 9:00 for instructions and prayer. Then hundreds of us will go and worship God by loving and serving our city. Register here

We will be having our WE @ Night Sunday evening worship experience at Palisades Elementary at 6:00.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vacation Photos

David catching a throwed roll

Amber swimming with the boys

Benjamin protecting the skin

David shining a little self-gloss

David watching Benjamin on the tube

Benjamin enjoying a lazy evening

Table Rock Sunset

Table Rock at night

Marshmallows cook fast in this fire

David catching a sun fish

Amber on the wake board

Whisky lime cedar plank salmon

Benjamin getting ready to throw down some ribs at Lamberts

7 pound largemouth bass

Thursday, August 1, 2013

WE Serve, Sunday Night Worship, and Small Groups

Summer is quickly coming to an end. At least summer as far as the kids go. Pretty soon yellow school buses and kids with backpacks will be common sights. Footballs will be flying through the air. The days and nights will be a little cooler. It’s a wonderful time of year.



It’s a wonderful time of the year in the church as well. 

My favorite Sunday, WE Serve, happens next Sunday, August 11th. We will cancel our morning worship experiences at 9:00 and 10:30 and worship God by serving and loving people in our community. We will serve at places like Release Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, The Hope Center for Kids, Together Omaha, area nursing homes, and the Millard Public Schools. Most locations are family friendly. If there is a Sunday morning I don’t want you to miss—it is our WE Serve Sunday. Register this morning! 

August 11th is an important date for another reason. This fall The Water’s Edge is launching WE at Night—a Sunday evening worship experience beginning on September 8th at 6:00 at Palisades Elementary School on 168th Street between Giles and Cornhusker. The message will be similar to the message on Sunday morning—but the worship will be a different. A preview service will take place Sunday evening, August 11th at 6:00. It will be a night of worship, a celebration of serving, and a back to school blessing for families and children.

This is the time of year our small groups are preparing to launch as well. New groups are being created and existing groups will begin meeting again. We are anticipating about 35 small groups for adults and 10 small groups for middle and high school students this fall. Small groups are the best way to meet people at The Water’s Edge and provide excellent opportunities to experience the Gospel through learning, serving, and growing. Throughout August, registration for fall small groups will be available in worship and online. Small groups will begin the week of Sunday, September 8th. I encourage you to give one a try this fall. 

Hopefully you have started the 50 Days of Prayer. I have heard great stories so far about what God has been doing in people’s lives. If you haven’t started yet, most of the 50 days are still in front of us. No better day exists to start than today. If you don’t have a copy of the book, you can pick one up this morning or find an online version at WatersEdgeOmaha.com. 

I’m looking forward to serving beside you next Sunday, 

Craig