Monday, April 28, 2014

Don't Feed Your Fears: The Fear of Not Mattering

This is the second message in our series: "Don't Feed Your Fears." I talk about the fear of not mattering.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

WE Garden

Great work day at WE Garden, located on our 23 acres in West Omaha. WE will have a children's garden, a pumpkin and melon patch, and 40 plots that will produce thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables for people in our city.

Working on the entrance

One of our leaders doing what she loves

Our driveway that is not quite a driveway yet

Children's gardening seminar

Thankfully the kids showed up in full force

Planning the children's garden

Constructing the cross

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Confirmation Sunday

I remember the day. Eight of us lined up in the front of the old, historic church. The boys wore ties. The girls wore dresses. We all wore white robes. Our grandparents were so proud. Our parents took pictures with their Kodaks and Polaroids. The preacher tried to tell a few jokes and stumbled through our Scandinavian names the best he could.

And then it happened: The preacher laid his hands on my head and said: Craig, may the Holy Spirit work within you, that having been born through water and the Spirit, you may live as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Remember your baptism and be thankful. Amen.


I’ll say these exact same words this morning—many times. It doesn’t matter if the person saying this blessing is a saint or a scoundrel—it only has to do with God and the one being prayed for. And what a blessing it is.

I don’t remember much about that day. We had sandwiches and salads for lunch. Those eclectic fruity Jell-O salads with shredded carrots and chopped celery covered with a bizarre blend of cream cheese and Cool-Whip. I didn’t attend church or participate in ministry much the next few years. I remember going four years later on graduation Sunday. Standing up front with the exact same friends and a different preacher stumbling through our last names.

The next time all of us gathered in the church was about twenty years later. I stood in front of the crowded church wearing a black robe and a stole around my neck. One of my friends laid peacefully ten feet in front of me. He died too young. Two of the others sang some of the most heartfelt and compassionate music I remember hearing. At the end of the worship service, I went and laid my hand on the casket and said a different blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. What distance and interests and time separates, God joins back together. Nothing quite like the church. At its best, it connects us to God who gives us abundant life in this world and eternal life in the world to come.

Today is a great day at The Water’s Edge: We welcome our third Confirmation Class. These thirty students have learned, worshipped, and served together. They have been equipped with the tools necessary to help them thrive as a disciple of Jesus. Confirmation Sunday isn’t the end of a journey. It is the beginning. We have great big dreams for a student ministry that deeply impacts the lives of our students and students in our community. 

To the Confirmands: you are not only the future leaders of our church. Your ministry has already started: sharing the grace of Christ with people in your life and in God’s world. I pray your high school years are some of the best of your life and I pray you continue to grow in your love of God, your love of people, and your service to the world.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter

Brad Krebs at the Sunrise Worship Experience

Happy Easter from David and Benjamin

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday Prayer

Dear God,

You washed the disciple’s feet.
You showed me how to serve.
You tell me to do likewise.

Let my life be like Your life.
Enable me to follow Your example.
Make me a foot washer—a bold and daring servant.


Help me be mindful of the many opportunities for service in my life.
Let my service be a blessing and inspiration to others.
Bless me as I seek to act more like You every day.

I want to be faithful to You.
Not betraying You. Not denying You. But faithful.
Give me grace when I fail and wisdom and perseverance to keep growing.

I want to be loved by You.
Accepting of Your grace and power.
Let me love others as You continually and fully love me.

Give me the ears to listen to and understand others.
Give me the vision to see others through Your eyes.
Empower me to serve others like You.

Let me take the bread learn from Your life.
Let me take the wine and embrace your forgiveness.
Let me show the world I am Your disciple.

Amen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter - No Fear

Jesus was relationally sad. The night before his death, Jesus shared his last meal with his twelve buddies. He looked them in the eye as he broke the bread for the last time. He held back the tears as he blessed the cup. Peter would soon deny him. Not once. But three times. Judas would betray him. Not just any betrayal. A betrayal that would cost Jesus his life. Goodbyes are never easy. Denials and betrayals are as tough as it gets. Heartbroken.


Jesus was emotionally spent. His trial couldn’t have been easy. The soldiers mocked him. They asked if Elijah was coming to save him. They even spit on him. The very people he came to serve and save ridiculed him. Dejected.

Jesus was physically abused. He took a beating. Nails through his hands. A sharp crown of thorns on his head. He was bruised and bloody. He hung on a cross gasping for air. Broken.

Jesus was spiritually searching. He cried out with a loud scream: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” He didn’t use the word Father. He used the word God. Not close enough to call Him Father. Only close enough to call Him God. Isolated.

And then three days later he rose from the dead. None of the Gospel writers give much detail as to what happened because the details don’t really matter. What matters is that Jesus is alive again.

Heartbroken. Dejected. Battered. Isolated. Alive again.

The betrayal was overcome. The dejection was destroyed. The brokenness was restored. The isolation was overwhelmed. Death was defeated.

We worry about tomorrow. We carry hurts from the past. We wonder if there is more to life. Our busyness consumes us. It seems hopeless that the future will be better than the past. We are sick of being tired. We are slowly dying.

The big stone was rolled away from the tomb. We don’t know if Jesus limped or leaped as he re-entered the world. We only know God raised Jesus from the dead. And we know that God was just getting warmed-up because He has been raising people from the dead ever since.

Our worries. Our hurts. Our fears of dying. Our fears of not living. Our busyness. Our hopelessness. Our fatigue. Our broken hearts. Our rejection. Our dejection. Our brokenness. Our loneliness. God invites us to experience resurrection in all areas of life. He invites us to experience new life so that we can be alive again. Sounds like an invitation worth accepting.

Happy Easter,

Craig

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Vlog

Easter in one minute. Remember our schedule changes a little on Easter.

6:30 Sunrise Worship at the north side of our property
8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 at Millard West
6:00 p.m. at Palisades for WE at Night

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love Idol

I'm grateful to author, Jennifer Dukes Lee, for sharing with us yesterday about her most recent book: Love Idol. Watching this message is thirty minutes well spent. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pictures from Sunday

Author, Jennifer Dukes Lee, speaking to WE Church


WE at Night

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Boys

The boys taking their first ever solo trip to the grocery story.

David making his debut at catcher

Friday, April 11, 2014

Prayer for Palm Sunday

Dear God,

It’s Palm Sunday. 

Jesus arrived to a defiant city on a donkey to people shouting “Hosanna.”
       Enter my disobedient heart.
       Replace my pride with humility.
       Release me. Rescue me.


Form in me a deep desire to trust You more fully.
       Give me a faithful obedience to follow You whenever and wherever.
Forge in me the strength to listen to and respond to Your voice.
       May I say “yes” to Your plans and promises.
       May I say “no” to the competing shallow securities of this world.

Eliminate prideful attitudes that separate me from community with others 
       and distance me from closeness and intimacy with You.
Eradicate my behavior of constantly comparing myself with others 
       and teach me that my worth and value in life is a gift from You.

Rescue me from the double standard of singing “Hosanna” in worship 
       and shouting “crucify him” at work, with friends, and even at home.Release me from the hypocrisy of worshipping You with my words at church
       but denying You with my actions in the community.

Prevent me from holding on to habits that are harmful to me and hurtful to others.
       Let the destructive parts of my life die and disappear.
Prepare me for resurrection and new life that comes as a gift from You.
       Let reconstruction begin and make me alive again!

You entered a holy city to people waving palm branches and waiting for a King.
Enter my life to make me holy, victorious, and obedient to the King of all Kings.

Amen.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Holy Week Explained

Sunday's Column…today.

It’s Holy Week. We still go to work. We go to school. Baseball is in full swing. Soccer is in full kick. Our responsibilities don’t decrease. The world keeps moving at its relentless pace. But it’s still Holy Week.

The brown grass is becoming green. The tulips and daffodils are emerging from the ground. The buds on the trees are sprouting. It’s been a long winter, but spring is here and life is being resurrected. 

Life may not feel much different this week. Maybe it’s been a long winter for you. Not outside, but inside. Not wind or cold or ice, but brokenness or boredom or busyness. It’s still Holy Week. Jesus was resurrected from the dead and we can be resurrected too. 

Here is how it works:


Maundy Thursday 

Maundy is from the Latin "mandatum", the first word of Jesus’ teaching from John 13:34 - "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” 

Jesus was sharing his last meal with the twelve men who would be responsible for taking the Gospel to the nations. No time for small talk. Not even time for good stuff. Only his best words. “I’m going to make this simple. You need to remember this: Love others as I have loved you.” 

Good Friday 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. What He really gave us, of course, was Himself. He experienced pain, humiliation, and death so we can experience love, forgiveness, and life. The world hasn't been the same since and your world doesn't have to be the same ever again. No single word or collection of words could ever describe this day. So "good" will have to do.

Saturday 

The other days have a name: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. Saturday is just Saturday which is more than enough. It was a day of darkness when Satan celebrated victory over God and dominion over the world. In the epic game of chess against the Almighty One Himself - Satan delivered a surprising, come-from-behind checkmate. He gets a surprise tomorrow: the King still has another move. 

Easter Sunday 

It begins in the despair of the dark caused by the sin of the world and the hatred of many. Fear was widespread. Satan delighted in Christ's death. But it's Easter morning and Satan's party comes to an abrupt ending when he discovers the once defeated man has emerged from the tomb. Christ is alive. It was the day death died. Checkmate. Hope overcomes despair. Light silences darkness. Grace forgives sin. Love replaces hate. Faith calms fears. Life resurrects death. 

I look forward to celebrating Easter with you next Sunday! 

Use us Lord, 

Craig

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A View From My Window

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, my God. -Psalm 42:1

Friday, April 4, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Easter Experience - Accepted by Few

Sunday's message on the three people who accepted Jesus near the end of his life. We looked at Simon from Cyrene, the Roman Centurion, and the criminal on the cross and investigated how their stories apply to our lives today.