Monday, March 31, 2014

Two Thoughts

We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking. -Richard Rohr


Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate. -Søren Kierkegaard

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Soccer Saturday

My life for the next nine Saturdays.

David getting ready to do his favorite thing.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Authentic

That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste. –John Green, Paper Towns

I sit in my car most days for about ten minutes around 3:00 and then do it again at 3:45. During the early session I observe 11 year olds to 14 year olds. During the late session I observe 5 year olds to 10 year olds. I can tell who is popular. I can tell who isn’t popular. The kids have figured this out too.



Popularity is generally seen as a virtue. We like to be liked. Nothing wrong with being liked. 

Jesus was well-liked. People climbed trees to see him. They reached out just so they could touch his clothes. Thousands of people would come and hear him speak. He knew what it was like to be popular.

But not everybody liked him and at the end virtually nobody liked him. The religious leaders challenged him. The government leaders were threatened by him. The masses eventually turned on him. The disciples deserted him.

Jesus knew something was more important than popularity: authenticity. He said it himself: And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? –Luke 9:25

You get the feeling Jesus knows popularity comes and goes, but authenticity is here to stay. Instead of letting self-worth be determined by others who may or may not think we are funny, attractive, caring, whatever—the authentic person knows value and worth comes from God.

Authenticity is better than popularity. It depends on nobody but you and God.

  • Authentic people seek and become who God wants them to be rather than become who others want them to become.
  • Authentic people don’t let negative things take up too much space in their lives.
  • Authentic people do the right thing and not the easy thing.
  • Authentic people value humility and don’t strive to appear more than they really are.
  • Authentic people are grateful and not envious.

If popularity naturally comes from authenticity, then popularity is a good thing. If a quest for popularity causes a loss in authenticity, then popularity is a bad thing.

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. –Cyril Connolly

Be your authentic self and share yourself with the world. God created only one you.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Amber

Happy birthday Amber!


Dinner was at Brushi. The chef / owner is a good friend and concocted this for her.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoughts on Envy and Jealousy

Envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight different. 

Envy is wanting something possessed or enjoyed by another. Envy involves two parties. We envy when somebody else owns or utilized something we want. For example: Sarah envies Michelle's large house.

Jealousy is the threat of losing someone or something we already possess to a third person. Jealousy necessitates three parties. For example: Jennifer is jealous of Rick's friends because Rick is spending more time with them than he is with her.


A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. -Proverbs 14:30

Love is not jealous. -1 Corinthians 13:4

It is a slow death to let oneself be trampled to death by geese, and to let oneself be worn to death by envy is also a slow way of dying. -Søren Kierkegaard

  • It is impossible to simultaneously envy and love someone.
  • Envy and jealousy make gratitude and thankfulness very difficult.
  • Tearing another down does not build you up.
  • Jealousy is like taking a toxic medicine and expecting the other to die.

Envy and jealousy are destructive and self-destructive behaviors that distance us from God, others, and our true self.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Φίλοι

Φίλοι. As far as Greek words go—it is as beautiful and powerful as they come. It’s only used twenty-nine times in the Bible and Luke is responsible for eighteen of them. Luke is a physician by trade. And the doctor knows the healing power of φίλοι. Jesus only uses the word a few times but when he does there is nothing quite like it. The word is simply translated as friend. 



Facebook says I have 1,849 friends. But I don’t. I do know all of them. I like all of them. I was their high school classmate. I ran with them a few times. I used to be their youth minister. Their kid plays on my soccer team. But I don’t have 1,849 friends. The word friend is used so liberally that it has lost its beauty and power. We confuse being an acquaintance with being a friend. But, at the end of the day, friendship can’t be confused with anything.

Friendship happens when two people can look at each other and say something like: “I’m getting more out of this relationship than I am putting into it.” A friend says to a friend: “I like myself better when I am with you.” Friends meet with a clean slate every time they get together and they meet as equals—things like age, political affiliation, wealth, success, stumbles, religion, and education don’t matter. The only thing that matters is each other. Friends know each other’s past and are fine with each other’s imperfections. Simply put, a friend can’t imagine their life without the other person. You can see why it’s not possible to have 1,849 friends.

Jesus only said a few things about friendship and after he said a few things he didn’t need to say anything else. 

Vulnerability

Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. –John 15:15 

Jesus left nothing unspoken to his friends. He shared his thoughts and feelings and encouraged others to do the same. Friends tell each other everything. They know burdens are lighter when shared and joys are greater when celebrated together. 

Trust

You are my friends if you do what I command. –John 15:14

Trust was involved when the disciples followed Jesus. They had faith Jesus loved them. They believed Jesus knew what was best for them. They trusted Jesus. Friends trust each other. Trust makes vulnerability and relational intimacy possible. The gift of trusting another and being trusted by another makes life possible.

Life-Giving

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. –John 15:13

Jesus is saying that friendship isn’t free nor is it cheap. But those who are blessed with a true friend or two know that friendship is worth every minute, every penny, every tear, and every drop of energy they have ever invested and then some.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Benjamin's First Run Around Lake Zorinsky

The path I have run on hundreds of times is a path Benjamin ran
on tonight for the first time. It was a blessing sharing it with him!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Grateful

I was talking with a few other pastor friends at a meeting in Lincoln this week. We talked about things pastors talk about. None of which are overly interesting. Then we started sharing stories as we ate our burgers and fries. It is always cool to hear stories of grace and redemption. A few started doing a little complaining about their congregations. It was a safe space—we are pastors and can’t tell anybody anything. And the complainers are in good company. Paul complained about his churches. Moses complained about his people. Nehemiah did too. During this part of the conversation, I remained silent because I didn’t have anything to say. 

A few hours later as I was driving on I-80 between the Waverly exit and the Gretna exit, I was feeling grateful because I couldn’t imagine serving a better congregation than The Water’s Edge. 

The church, at is best, is a bridge between God and people.
I'm grateful for the people of The Water's Edge.
Taken at Platte River State Park a few months ago.

No complaints about volunteers. Hundreds of you serve in the church and the community. You come early to set up chairs and stay late to tear down the stage. You welcome people at the front door. You play in the band. You lead our children. You mentor youth who have recently been released from jail. You stand in front of grocery stores and collect food. You travel to places like Belize and Uganda. You lead small groups. Grateful for your time and energy. 

No complaints about money. We could always use more to do more things, but as I look back on our short history I remember a few of our families have invested over $100,000 in God’s Kingdom by supporting The Water’s Edge and our related ministries. Dozens of others have given tens of thousands of dollars. Grateful for your sacrifice. 

No complaints about the staff. They are a committed bunch of folks who could all be doing something else but they choose to do this. They are servants, leaders, developers, and disciples. Each of them goes the extra mile many times during a typical week and faithfully strives for excellence. And they put up with my big ideas and occasional last minute antics. Grateful for your commitment. 

No complaints about people wanting to do things the way they have always been done. You invite your friends. You come up with brilliant ideas. You take risks. You extend grace. You want to see our church and God’s Kingdom prevail and are willing to do what is necessary to respond to God’s grace to make it happen. Grateful for your vision. 

The past seasons of our life together have been a blessing. Dozens of small groups have produced hundreds of friendships. We have served thousands in our city and the world. Children and students have encountered the Gospel. We have multiplied in size and welcomed hundreds of families into our family. We have grown closer to God together. Grateful for God’s blessing. 

Our future is exciting. We are opening our community garden in the next month. We will be creating and affirming our building team. These men and women will be charged to lead the congregation in building our first building at 198th and Harrison as we seek to serve and welcome people in Omaha and beyond into a life changing relationship with Jesus. And in just over a month, we will have five Easter worship experiences to celebrate that Jesus has risen from the dead and because He experienced new life we can too—abundant life in this world and eternal life in the world to come. Grateful for grace and life. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Prayer of Acceptance

Sunday morning worship and WE at Night this weekend is about rejection. We all have dealt with it, deal with it, and will deal with it. Jesus did too. If you are feeling rejected -- here is a prayer we are going to pray this Sunday -- A Prayer of Acceptance.

Dear God,

I search for acceptance. 
     Acceptance from others.
     Acceptance from You.
     Acceptance from myself.

David. Imperfect, but accepted by others and by God.

During the daylight I feel unaccepted for who I am.
     My appearance. My age. 
     My beliefs. My body.
     My color. My creed.
     My disabilities. My dysfunction. 
     My education. My employment.

During the nighttime I feel unaccepted for what I have done.
     My failures. My flaws.
     My guilt. My guile.
     My hurts. My hopelessness.
     My iniquities. My indignation.
     My jealousy. My juvenileness.

Let me not consume myself with earning the acceptance of others.
     I want to strive to please You.
When others don’t accept me for one reason or another,
     Remind me that my worth doesn’t come from an imperfect person.
     Remind me that my value comes from You.

Accept me for who I am. Accept me for who I am not.
     Seek me out and invite me to hold close Your acceptance.
     Save me from not accepting Your grace.

Help me accept myself for who I am and who I am not.
     Despite my past. Despite my shortcomings.
     Despite my mistakes. Despite my faults. 

Give me the grace to accept myself and the wisdom and 

     the strength to change the things about myself that I cannot accept.

As I have been accepted by You, make me accepting of others.
     Not to judge, but to welcome.
     Not to exclude, but to embrace.
     Not to reject, but to support.
     Not to ignore, but to notice. 
     Not to disregard, but to value.
     Not to hurt, but to help.

You have accepted me during the moments of my life I have been least acceptable. That is Your grace.

May I give others the same grace You have given me.
May I give others the same acceptance You have given me.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lake Zorinsky

Lake Zorinsky on a cloudy morning with the sun
peeking through. Captured during yesterday's run.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Prayer for Lent

If you are seeking to grow in your prayer life during this season of Lent, I invite you to use this prayer. It is great to use in the morning or to take a few minutes in the middle of a hectic day to center and re-focus.

Dear God,

It is Lent. A season of renewal.
Days of reflection.
Nights of replenishment.
Weeks of repairing and refocusing.
Ending in resurrection and rebirth.


Lent is a journey that begins with a look at our mortality
and ends with God's 

Grant me discipline. 
Discipline to be faithful. 
Discipline to hunger for Your Word. 
Discipline to thirst for conversation and quiet time with You. 
Discipline to love what You love and to love like You love. 
Teach me again that discipline yields a rich harvest of grace and peace. 
Remove any obstacles between us and move me closer to You. 

Bless me with repentance. 
To turn away from anything that distances or distracts me from You. 
To turn from lust to love. 
To turn from fear to freedom. 
To turn from jealousy to justice. 
To turn from selfishness to service. 
To turn from haughtiness to humility. 
To turn from gluttony and greed to goodness and grace. 
To turn from doubting and depression to depending fully on You. 
To turn from worshipping counterfeit gods to worshipping You and You alone. 
Help me repent of my sins and turn to You, so that my sins are wiped away. 

Remind me of my mortality. 
I was created from dust and to dust I shall return. My time in the world You have created is limited. 
Help me make the most of it. 
Let Your dreams for me be my dreams for me. 
Make my purposes clear. Give me a passion for my purposes. 
And let me know this world is not my permanent home. 
Your Kingdom and Your heart is my true and eternal dwelling place. 

You are faithful to me. 
Recreate me in Your image so I am faithful to You and others. Do something in me during this season. 
Do something small and do something big. 
And as You do something in me; do something through me. 
Bless me and a make me a blessing to others and to the world. 
Let me experience the resurrection of Christ. 
Resurrect me. Give me a rebirth. Raise me to new levels of life. 

Amen.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Notes from Ash Wednesday Worship

Lent is a time of self-reflection

  • We discover who God is
  • We discover who we are
  • We need to love ourselves better

What WE left at the feet of Jesus so that resurrection can happen in our lives

Envy

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; envy is like cancer in the bones. –Proverbs 14:30

As iron is eaten by rust, so is love consumed by envy. –Norwegian Proverb

When envy dies, love and gratitude is resurrected.

People Pleasing

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. –Galatians 1:10

I can’t tell you the key to success. But the key to failure is trying to please everyone. –Ed Sheeran

2 problems with people pleasing

1. It’s impossible
2. It’s not desirable

2 things we have to realize

1. Not everyone is going to love you. 
2. Those who do love you will never love you exactly the way you want them to love you.

2 disadvantages of people pleasing

1. We carry a huge weight of unrealistic expectations on our shoulders
2. Our worth is based on performance and not grace

When people-pleasing dies, God-glorifying is resurrected.

Negativity

External negativity

If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. –Titus 3:10

Internal negativity

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. –Philippians 4:8

The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances. –Martha Washington

When negativity dies, positivity and possibilities are resurrected. 

Comparison

We can compare ourselves to others we perceive are below us and above us.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. –Galatians 6:4

There is nothing noble in being superior to others; true nobility is being superior to your former self. –Hemingway

3 Reasons Why Not to Compare to Others

1. Damages your self-esteem

Comparison is the death of joy. –Mark Twain

2. You are comparing against inaccurate information

Let's face it: What people present to the outside world is usually an edited version of their reality. 

We compare our ordinary, everyday against other’s highlight reel.

3. It generally doesn’t help you move forward

If you really want to live a life that feels fulfilling you need to dedicate your time and energy to your own values. To get your focus in the right place ask yourself the following questions: 

What kind of person do you want to be? 
What kind of relationships do you want to have? 
What do you want people to remember about you?

Don’t compare yourself to who other’s are today. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.

Don’t try to be a second rate version of somebody else. Be the first rate version of yourself.

When comparison dies, grace and growth are resurrected.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Quadragesima

The original Latin word for what we today know as Lent is Quadragesima which means “forty days before Easter.” The purpose was to prepare the disciple for Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The forty days is symbolic of the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert as he prepared for public ministry. 

The original practices of Lent were prayer (discovery of God), fasting (discovery of self), and service (discovery of neighbor). Lent is about a tenth of one’s days, given to God each year, to discover who God is, who we are, and what the world is. We ask in one way or another what it means to be ourselves.



About one thousand years ago Quadragesima was changed to the vernacular word “spring.” The Germans know this as lenz and the Dutch know it as lente. Both words mean “lengthen” because in the northern climate the days of spring become longer and longer. We now call it Lent.

As Quadragesima became Lent, the practices changed as well. The true meaning of Lent is now hidden in the hustle of fish frys and Easter Bunnys. Today we give up chocolate or alcohol or Facebook or eating most meat on Fridays. None of these things is necessarily bad, but do they really help us discover who God is, who we are, and what the world is?

If you were to wager all you have on whether God exists or doesn’t exist, which side would you choose and why?

When you consider yourself, what is it you like the most and what is it you want to change the most?

Consider your history: What are two moments you wish you could do over? One because it was painful for you or somebody you love and you want a do-over. The other because you simply want to relive the happiness of the moment.

If you had forty days to live, what would you do with them?

If you had forty years to live, what would you do with them?

Does a person or a cause exist that you would be willing to die for?

If you could write a message in a couple dozen words to a handful of people, what would you say and who would you say it to?

Responding to questions like this gives us a glimpse of who we are becoming and just as importantly who we are not becoming. It’s tough work and can be challenging. It’s also worth it. 

Lent begins with the imposition of ashes and ends with the resurrection of the dead—which is what life is all about. 

Read through the Gospel of Luke. Ask yourself some of the above questions. Pray. Serve somebody you love. Pray some more. Serve a stranger. Worship weekly. Deprive yourself of something you desire, but don’t need. Give. Share. Rest. Grow closer to God. Discover yourself. That’s Quadragesima.



The best is yet to come…

Craig



See: Whistling in the Dark by Frederick Buechner for a good resource for Lent

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Comedy Sunday

Thanks to Brad Krebs for helping out with this portion of Comedy Sunday.