Friday, January 30, 2015

Halftime

Birthdays cause me to reflect. Mine comes every Groundhog’s Day. Kind of like the movie. Anyway…I’m not a kid anymore. I think I was the last person to realize and accept this. Based on my age and the age most of my grandparents died, it’s halftime for me. So it’s time to take a break, evaluate, and plan for the second half.

Life’s been good so far. I think somebody wrote a song with that title. Twenty-two of the years have been spent in the classroom. Life’s major learnings haven’t come from classrooms or books but from life itself. I’m discovering, the more I learn the less I know. 

I’ve held hundreds of new babies and seen dozens of people die. You can’t see such things without reflecting on the time God gives us between those events. Here is my halftime speech to myself:

Lake Zorinsky during a mid-morning winter run


Don’t let fear overwhelm you. You have missed too many shots because you haven’t taken them. Don’t be stupid and gamble, but take some risks. Don’t be afraid of failing either. Failing has more to do with not trying than not succeeding. Most all successes are at the end of a road paved with set-backs.

Each day you have many choices how to invest your time and energy. You usually won’t choose between right and wrong, but good and better. Sometimes you will need to say “no” to good things so that you can say “yes” to better things.

And those better things are God and your family and friends. Spend time and energy with the people you love the most. Give your life to them and receive life from them. Spend time and energy doing what you enjoy doing most. Work hard, but make things like rest and play and idleness and exploring part of your life. 

And spend time with God. You are His beloved. This relationship will help you with every other relationship and all other areas of your life. God will form you into a person who is more balanced, more focused, more centered, and more at peace. Plus, your relationship with God is the only relationship you will have that will last forever. 

Accept God’s grace. It is a gift. Be more loved by God and loving to yourself and others. Live as one forgiven by God and forgiving of others. Forgive yourself too. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over them. Treat others like you want to be treated. Listen to understand and not to respond. Be patient. Be kind. Don’t let anger get the best of you.

Be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody you are not. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Don’t think the past or current scenes of your life make up the entire movie. Keep writing the script of your once-to-be-lived and never to be repeated life. Enjoy the second half and finish strong. 

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Day of Dreaming

The church spent the day at Tiburon Golf Course dreaming about our future facilities on Harrison Street. Thanks to Mike Schriener from Morningstar United Methodist Church and the architects from BCDM for leading us today.


video

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Looking Back. Looking Forward.

I remember sitting in a basement of a house south of Harrison Street. It was the night of our first small group. I invited dozens of people. Amber and I waited for them to hopefully come. We didn’t know who to expect or what to expect. Seven other couples showed up. I don’t think I knew any of them except one. Looking back, we met some of our closest friends that night. And it started a movement that would connect hundreds of people over the next seven or eight years. 

I remember our first worship experience a year or so later. It was raining outside. Before worship, we prayed for God to speak to our guests through us. I was so grateful for the dozens of people who gave so much of themselves as they served God and others. Jesus says: “I do not give to you as the world gives.” (John 14:27) Countless people have worshipping with us since that day. We have received things found only from a cross and a cup: forgiveness from our past, peace and power for today, and hope for tomorrow. 


I remember driving to the church property last fall. It was about thirty minutes before worship started. I looked up and saw big tents, lots of vehicles, and dozens of committed volunteers. It was a perfect day. We baptized a dozen people, met many of our future neighbors, and got to worship, eat, and play on the ground so many people sacrificed so much for. 

Yesterday at Tiburon golf course, around 150 of us gathered to dream about the possibilities for our property. It was the first of many steps. The architects will get busy now. The building team will keep working. We will have more congregational gatherings. More feedback. Late this summer and early the fall we will have our next WE Imagine capital campaign to raise money so we can move forward in developing our property and building our first buildings. This will be, by far, our biggest challenge to date and will take commitment and sacrifice like we have never experienced before. But you have responded to and exceeded every challenge ever given to you. I can’t wait to write a column similar to this five or ten years from now. 

I invite you to do the following over the next few critical months.

1. Pray. For our church as we move forward. For our staff. For new guests and visitors. For all of us to grow in our relationships with God and each other. 

2. Connect. Join a small group during Lent. Not forever. But for six weeks. Try it.

3. Serve. In the church and / or outside the church. Give part of yourself away.

4. Invite. Neighbors. Friends. Co-Workers. People hurt by the church. People with no interest in church. Your simple invitation can change a life.

I look forward to writing our next chapters together. 

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Monday, January 19, 2015

Be the Message: Our Purpose and God's Plans



Life leads us to three questions.

1. Who am I?

A. I am what I do.
B. I am who other people say I am.
C. I am what I have.

We are beloved sons and daughters of God.

2. Why Am I Here?

Love God. -Matthew 22:37

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. –Song of Solomon 6:3 

4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. -Ephesians 1:4-5

We are here to live as God’s beloved.

3. What Am I Going to do About It

And living out the purpose of loving God and being loved by God will form and shape all other plans God has for us and equips us to answer what we should do with our lives.

1 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

5 Then the Lord gave me this message: 6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. -Jeremiah 18:1-6

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Friday, January 16, 2015

Beloved of God

I was always told I have a purpose in life. The preacher said it when I was a kid. And I believed him. The youth leader sold the same message in a different package. It was the campus pastor’s primary message:

God has a plan for you. You are created for a specific reason to do a specific thing at a specific place and a specific time.


I kept pondering my purpose was in life. I suffered a fair amount of anxiety that I would surely be missing something because what I liked to do didn’t really seem to make much difference in the world. I remember one night I was reading Jeremiah. I approached the twenty-ninth chapter. The eleventh verse is well-known: 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” 

I read it and re-read it. One letter jumped off the page. I hadn’t noticed it before. It was the letter “s”. “Plans” not “plan”. More than one. 

Maybe the preachers were wrong. Maybe life is full of good options as far and plans and purposes go and maybe we have the responsibility of choosing the best door to open. It seemed like a lot of maybes and I still suffered a fair amount of anxiety that I would surely be missing something because what I liked to do didn’t really seem to make much difference in the world. 

Solomon writes of our relationship with God: 

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. –Song of Solomon 6:3 

Jesus shares our primary task: 

Love God. –Matthew 22:37 

Now the whole purpose or purposes thing is making sense. The preachers and pastors were right. We do have a purpose: To be loved by God and to love God. We are God’s beloved and He invites us to love Him now and forever. What we do, what we have, and what people think about us have nothing to do with our primary purpose. People and things and feelings will all come and go. God remains the same. And as we love God and are loved by God something amazing happens: 

Then the Lord gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” -Jeremiah 18:5-6 

God forms us. God shapes us. God makes us beautiful and useful. He reveals His plans and makes His additional purposes known. He makes us more like Him who gave Himself for us. We live most abundantly when we give whatever we can give: a laugh, a shake of the hand, a friendly smile, a hug, words of encouragement, part of our life, and all of our life. 

Being loved by God, loving God, and letting God form us to be more like Him. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me. 

The best it yet to come… 

Craig

Thursday, January 8, 2015

WE Imagine Gathering

We have had some important days over the years.

  • The day we chartered as a United Methodist Church on January 8, 2012.
  • Our three WE Serve days where hundreds of us went and served our city.
  • The day we raised 1.25 million dollars to pay for our land.
  • Our first worship service and party on our property—September 14, 2014.
  • A few weeks ago on Christmas Eve when we had over 1,400 people in worship.
  • Mission trips all over the country and world, Vacation Bible School, baptisms, and on and on and on.

River stones given out at our first worship service as a chartered
United Methodist Church on January 8th, 2012

Another one of those days is coming up and you are invited! Our WE Imagine day will be Saturday, January 24th from 9:00 to 2:30 at Tiburon. Lunch and childcare will be provided.

It will be a day for development and dreaming. Part of the day will be spent growing. Growing in our relationship with God. Growing in our relationships with each other. Leading us will be Mike Schreiner. Mike is the founding pastor of Morningstar United Methodist Church in suburban St. Louis. At only 15 years old, Morningstar is one of the largest Methodist churches in the country. Mike will challenge us to grow as servants, as leaders, and as followers of Jesus. 

The other part of the day will be spent dreaming. Our architects from BCDM will lead us. The goal isn’t to finalize plans for a building. The goal is for us to dream and for the architects to listen and get to know us. This is the first step, and a very important step, in the process of developing a master plan for our Harrison Street property.

Here is the reason this gathering is so critical—we are attempting to do something few other churches in Nebraska and only a few other United Methodist Churches across the country are doing—building a church campus from a pile of dirt. This will take imagination, commitment, and sacrifice. 

The possibilities in front of us are amazing. The biggest possibility is that for decades, even generations—23.3 acres of land in southwest Omaha will be sacred space. It will be an area of the city dedicated to God and God’s purposes. A place for children of all ages to play and pray. A place of hope for the lonely and the hurting. A place for the sinner to receive forgiveness. A place where families receive support and are equipped to thrive. A place where children and students develop spiritually, relationally, and emotionally. A place where all people will be welcomed because God welcomes all. A place where friendships will be formed. A place where servants and leaders will be developed. A place where men, women, and children will receive eternal salvation that comes from God alone.

We all have this incredible opportunity to say we were one of the dreamers. We were one of the investors. We were one of the pioneers who, through God’s grace, made this happen.

You can register for our WE Imagine day by noting your intent to participate on the registration card on Sundays or by emailing jennie@weomaha.com.

The best is yet to come…

Craig


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Today's Message and Notes



Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. -St. Francis

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. –John 1:1

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. John 1:14

Pastor Craig's Prayer for 2015


Lord, 

May I be forgiven and forgiving. 
Loved and loving. 
A recipient of grace and a giver of grace. 
Patient, kind, humble, and balanced. 
May others see You through me. 

Amen.

1. Listen for the Divine Whisper

9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.
But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. -1 Kings 19:9-12

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. – James 1:19

2. Recognize Your Sacred Shout

C. S. Lewis said God whispers to us in our pleasures but shouts to us in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf word.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. –John 1:14

God can take our mess and turn it into our message. Don't give up. Grow. Don't be bitter. Help others get better.

3. Embrace Your Holy Disturbance

Disturb us Oh Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore! –Sir Francis Drake

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. –Ephesians 2:10

John Wesley's Covenant Prayer for Today

I was once mine. From this point forward, I am yours. 
Make clear my purposes in life. 
Place me among my loved ones and expand my heart to love all. 

Help me to think the things you want me to think, 
say the things you want me to say, 
and do the things you want me to do, 
even if it means I am belittled, ignored, or criticized. 

Give me people to encourage, serve, and love. 
Give me times of peace and rest so I can love and be loved by you. 
Let me be a light to a dark world so people can see you working in me. 
Make me humble and remind me that everything I have is because of you. 

Thank you for times of happiness and prosperity 
they are a gift. 
Thank you for your presence and promise in days of sadness and hardship 
I emerge stronger and wiser. 

Let me discover, embrace, and fulfill your will for my life. 

With joy and in fullness, 
I give my possessions, my time, and my energy 
to you and to your purposes. 

Almighty, holy, and blessed God: 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 
you are my true love and I am yours. 

And so it is. Let the covenant I am making here on earth be acceptable and pleasing to you. 

Amen.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Things I Am Praying For in 2015: Church Edition

Here is what I am praying for in 2015 for The Water’s Edge. I invite you to join me.

1. For more and better prayer. Starting with me. I want to listen to God more. I want to seek God’s direction better. I want to intercede for others more. I want to experience God more deeply. I dream of all our families praying together. I’m praying for deeper prayers in our small groups and before, during, and after our worship experiences. I want us to be a church who relentlessly pursues God.


2. For new small groups. Small groups were essential to the early church and to the early Methodist movement. Small groups are a large part of who WE are and are a blessing to hundreds of our people. I am praying for new small group leaders to emerge who will start new small groups with excitement and purpose. 

3. For each of us to invest in the lives of others outside the church and invite them to be part of our church family. For all of us to share our faith with at least one person in 2015.

4. For our impact in Omaha and the world. We do so much locally and internationally to help hurting people. My prayer is that each of us embraces serving as a lifestyle and that our church seizes new opportunities to be Christ to the world.

5. For our worship experiences to grow in depth. Everything from the teaching to the liturgy to the music to the media to the sacraments. I want us all to leave knowing we encountered God and that God has equipped us.

6. For the master plan for our property. I pray this plan honors God and serves the community. I pray the work and the outcome unifies and ignites the people of The Water’s Edge.

7. For our capital campaign. This campaign will be our biggest challenge in the history of our church. Also, our biggest opportunity. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile is. I pray we resource the construction of church facilities that will be a gathering place for thousands of people to worship, serve, learn, grow, and connect for generations to come.

8. For our children and student ministries. I pray for faith development for my kids and for your kids. I pray we inspire and empower the next generation. I pray for all who are investing their time, energy, and resources in our children.

9. For our city and its people. We exist for God and for them. I pray God uses us to love our city into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

10. For our people. I pray God comforts us, challenges us, heals us, helps us, meets us where we are, and leads us where He wants us to go. I pray we all grow together in faith, hope, and love.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day Run and Prayer

Lord, 

May I be forgiven and forgiving. 
Loved and loving. 
A recipient of grace and a giver of grace. 
Patient, kind, humble, and balanced. 
May others see You through me. 

Amen.