Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Don't Care if You Approve of this Column

Our six-year-old son, David, loves our approval. He gets a big smile on his face when he makes us laugh. He proudly shows off the results from his spelling test he worked so hard on. During his first basketball game, looked over at us after he scored his first ever basket.

Approval gives him a sense of worth. That he is loved, appreciated, valued, wanted, and needed. 

As adults we seek approval too. We seek it from bosses, coaches, significant others, friends, children, teachers, and even strangers. When we get approval from others, life is good. When that approval is elusive, life isn’t quite so good.

We know what it is like to be disapproved. Our boss gives us our review and says we are pretty average. Or a coach pulls us out of a game. Or a significant other says something that hurts us. A friend seems to distance herself from you for no reason. Your child doesn’t give you the time of day. The teacher criticizes your work. The stranger doesn’t notice you or notices you too much. 

David needs to know something and I tell him this often: he is approved by me. Whether he stamps out his authority on the basketball court and singlehandedly wins the game or misses a simple lay-up—I approve of him. Not because of his performance. But because he is my son. 

You need to know something and hopefully you hear this from God often: God approves of you. It doesn’t matter if others approve of you. It doesn’t matter if you approve of yourself. Success and failure don’t matter either. God approves of you because you are His child. 

We speak as those approved by God. -1 Thessalonians 2:4 

We are wired and trained to seek the approval of others. Nothing wrong with loving others, serving others, being creative, and striving for excellence. But a problem exists: Basing our worth on what a collection of imperfect people believe about us or basing our worth on what we perceive a collection of imperfect people believe about us is a recipe for absolute disaster. 

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. –Galatians 1:10 

We have a choice. To exhaust our resources trying to gain approval from others that we may never earn and certainly will never keep or to live under the approval of God and relate to all others based on that approval. As far as choices go, it’s a pretty easy one to decide. It’s much more difficult to practice it. But not nearly as difficult as not practicing it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Giving Up Control and Pølse

Over 1,000 of these cards were turned in during worship today.
We gave up control and asked God to control our lives.

Jeg er veldig fornøyd med Jeff og Brenna Neuhaus. Takk for pølse.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Esther, Soccer, and David Being Too Young for This

Esther at five months ago and eighty pounds

My boys - OFC Arsenal

David is a little young for such things

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Search of the Perfect Pumpkin

Benjamin looking for the perfect pumpkin

Our church sign and the moon early this morning.
May WE, the church, reflect the light of the Son today. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are You a Control Freak?

Today we are going to look at our need for control. We can and should control certain areas of our lives: our attitude, our willingness to listen, and loving others because we want to love like Jesus loved. 

But, too much control can get in the way of a growing relationship with God and healthy relationships with others. Here is a quiz I created to see if you may have some control issues:

1. When watching television with other people, you suffer from great anxiety when you don’t possess the remote control. 

2. Your typical order at the coffee shop involves specific instructions such as dictating the water temperature and the ratio of cream to coffee. And when the barista asks you if you want the drink of the day, you laugh at them. 

3. When a friend sets you up on a blind date, you demand to know the name of the person you are going out with. You spend the next few hours googling them, stalking them on Facebook and Instagram, and have your friend at the bank run a credit check on them. 

4. You find yourself finishing other people’s sentences. 

5. Your hair stylist wants to surprise you with a new look and your initial reaction is to get up, walk away, and never come back.

6. You more than occasionally say something like: “If you want something done right you got to do it yourself.” 

7. It is painful for you to ride in a car with somebody else. You question the driver’s ability to navigate the fastest route and you get nervous they are going to rear-end the car in front of you. 

8. Your son won’t wear the outfit you have selected for him. You quickly make a decision to withhold his allowance for the next six years and take away his cell phone if he won’t wear the above-mentioned clothing ensemble. 

9. You love Caller ID and can’t imagine your life without it. 

If “yes” describes your response to six or more of the statements, you have some control issues. If “yes” describes your response to three to five of the statements, you may have some control issues. 

Our need for control affects our relationship with God and our relationships with others. When we can let go of our need for control we can also let go of much stress and anxiety that goes with control and we can open ourselves up to God’s leadership and God’s grace. 

If we try our absolute hardest to control our lives, we don’t let God control our lives. And think about this: you can’t authentically love somebody you are trying to control. The beginning of love is not to attempt to twist others into the image of who we want them to be, but to let those people be uniquely themselves and love them for that. 

I invite us to take our need for control to God’s altar and sacrifice it for something much greater: God’s guidance and grace in our lives. 

The best is yet to come…


Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Day at the Wildlife Safari

David climbing a steep hill


Every once in a while the photographer gets lucky

Boys on the tractor

Buffalo on the prairie

No filter on this one

An elk taking a rest

David throwing leaves in the air

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Run at the Park

Perfect Fall Day

Benjamin powering up a hill

An afternoon on the prairie

Dodging a tree on a downhill

Probably about a 40% grade on this one

Benjamin catching up to me late in the run

Thursday, October 17, 2013

More than Adequate

ad·e·quate : ˈadikwit : adjective

1. barely satisfactory or acceptable in quality or quantity 

2. sufficient, enough, requisite 

I worked so hard on the paper. It was my first paper as a graduate student at Emory University. The topic was economics and ethics. I completed the paper a few days in advance. I proofread it two or three times. I made a few revisions. A week later I got the paper back. I was thinking I would get an “A” for sure. Maybe an “A-” if the professor was being picky or just wanted to flex his muscle a bit. The grade was a “B-” and one word was written in big red letters across the front page: adequate. The “B-” was disappointing and made me believe I was in for a long three years. The word “adequate” got to me. I still remember it fifteen years later. Just good enough. Barely acceptable. OK. Average.

Emory University - Where I turned in some adequate work

This weekend I am talking about inadequacy. Times in our life when we have been told we weren’t good enough. Times when we looked in the mirror and believed we weren’t acceptable. Adequate is tough enough for us to live with. Inadequacy can be devastating. 

  • I remember not making a baseball team. Inadequate. 
  • I remember not be admitted into Carleton College. Inadequate. 
  • I remember not getting the job as Pastor at the University of Georgia Wesley Foundation. Inadequate. 
  • I remember being told by the Bishop in Iowa that I didn’t have what it takes to plant a congregation. Inadequate. 
  • I remember standing outside a hospital room going to meet with the family of a dying child and not having a clue what to say. Inadequate. 
  • I remember driving into a church parking lot filled with hundreds of cars knowing that I was going to be speaking on God’s behalf to the drivers and passengers of these cars and I wasn’t overly prepared. Inadequate. 

You have similar stories. The names and places are different, but the inadequacy remains the same. A boss, a boyfriend, a coach, told you that you weren’t good enough. And you believed them or maybe even came to the conclusion on your own. 

And then I remember Gideon. Others didn’t think much of him. And he didn’t think much of himself. But how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. –Judges 6:15 God replied to Gideon: I am with you. –Judges 6:16 

Thankfully for Gideon and for us: it doesn’t matter what others think of you; it doesn’t matter what you think of you, it matters what God thinks of you and God believes in you. God has written a few words with big red letters to us: My grace is more than adequate for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. -2 Corinthians 9:12 

The best is yet to come… 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Altar Ego - Vlog

We are starting a new sermon series this weekend: Altar Ego. Craig talks about our new series of messages: Altar Ego. We will explore what the Bible says about overcoming feelings of inadequacy, dealing with control issues, and conquering our need for being approved by others.

Check out the book by Craig Groeschel. It is easy to read and is a wonderful book.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saturday in Pictures

Made and canned some applesauce with the boys.

Starting the day / evening at The Pumpkin Patch

We take this picture every year. I think the boys are getting bored with it.

Sunrise over the prairie

Corn covered boy #1

Corn covered boy #2

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On Gratitude

Esther, our giant and growing puppy, was ready to go outside and her oversized tongue was more than happy to let me know this little fact. It wasn’t even six o’clock in the morning and I protested. She doesn’t understand English yet and was relentless as an hourglass. My first few steps weren’t pretty. I discovered I had a sore left foot and my upper legs weren’t feeling the best either. I stumbled through our dark bedroom, stepped on some kind of Lego which only added insult to my injury, and eventually found my robe and slippers. I made it down the stairs one with the help of my arms and the railing at a time at a pace that wasn’t even close to being acceptable to Esther. We spent some time the in brisk fall air, went inside, and started the day.

Esther Finnestad

The day didn’t start out how I hoped and it started a little earlier than I hoped. But God’s words remain as true as they are steadfast: This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. –Psalm 118:24 

When I got to my office after dropping Benjamin off at school, I decided that I was going to rejoice and be glad. So I made a little list of things I’m grateful about. 

  • Last night I played soccer for 90 minutes with a dozen twelve-year-old boys and one six-year-old boy. A sore foot doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. 
  • We have this puppy who is now part of our family. She is sweet, playful, and loving. I needed to get out of bed and get going anyway. 
  • David’s laughter. It brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. I’m blessed he laughs a lot. 
  • The teachers who invest so much time and energy in my two sons. Their lives are better because of you. 
  • The Water’s Edge staff for putting up with my big dreams, last minute changes, and busy schedule. My live is better because of you. 
  • Today’s lunch date with Amber. She’s a great wife and a great mom. 
  • That I’m saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) That I am loved by God. (John 15:13) 
  • That I serve a church with the greatest people I have ever known: People who are examples of giving, serving, and loving. I’m blessed to be taking this journey of life with you. 
  • For my small group. It is an eclectic group of men and women who laugh, learn, and pray together.
  • Prayer. Fresh apples. Forgiveness. Friends. Hope. Laughter. Grace. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18 

When God tells us to be gratefu it is more for us than it is for God. It does something in us. I know it did in me today. I think tomorrow I’ll come up with another list. 

The best is yet to come… 


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Saturday, October 5, 2013

How About Them Apples

The boys after Benjamin's soccer game

David on top of my car outside the Lied Lodge

A perfectly made Arnold Palmer

The boys getting ready to pick apples

David's first apple

Anything for a Honey Crisp

David in search for the perfect Granny Smith

A long soccer game + a buffet lunch + picking apples +
the soothing voice of Garrison Keillor  = a nap on the ride home

Peaceful ride home

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Kierkegaard for Today

Søren Kierkegaard was born in 1813 in Denmark. He was the founder of existentialist philosophy and a pioneer in Christian ethics. Two hundred years later—everyone from theologians, freshman philosophy students, and people reading 140 character feeds on Twitter are exposed to his writings.

The most common form of despair is not being who you are. 

Two dangers exist: 1) Copying somebody else and trying to be like them. 2) Being the person somebody else wants you to be. God created you to be you and nobody else. 

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Life is a journey and an adventure. The future always involves an element of faith. Mistakes will be made. Lessons can be learned. Our past either destroys us, defines us, or develops us. Choose to let it develop you. 

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

Looking into the eyes of another person, experiencing God’s forgiveness and grace, serving a stranger, loving a child, exploring creation—such are the things of life. When life becomes a series of problems that are solved the point of life itself is missed. 

Once you label me you negate me. 

Think about all the labels we use to describe people: old, young, fat, unsuccessful, sick, junkie, divorced, weak, etc… Kierkegaard knew labels lie and shouldn’t be accepted or used. 

Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see. 

His definition of love is biblical and compelling. He is describing Christ’s version of love: Agápē. Love that is blind and impartial. Love with no strings attached. Love based on the character of the person loving rather than the worthiness of the object of the love. You figure this out and you figure life out. 

The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins. 

Of course he was describing Jesus here. Tiberius Caesar was the most powerful person in the world at the time of Jesus’ death. He died a few years after Jesus and is a footnote in human history. Jesus dies and the church begins. Two thousand years later nearly 2.5 billion people confess him as Savior and Lord. Being willing to die for someone or something beats not caring enough to die for anyone or anything. 

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself. 

He is writing about risk. The life without risk is the most dangerous life possible. Not to risk means things like intimacy, growth, and discovery will never happen. The greatest risk is not failure or being hurt; the greatest risk is reaching death without living. 

The best is yet to come…


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

David's Last Game

Team Columbia -- MAA and Kingswood Doubleplay -- Fall 2013
David's Last Game of the Year

WE Lead Promo Video

WE Lead starts this Thursday and next Monday. I invite you to join us.