Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thank You Volunteers!

Today we are honoring our volunteers. We have people who come early and stay late to set-up and take-down equipment and chairs. We have people who miss worship services to teach and lead children. We have people who forgo time with their friends so they can welcome strangers. Others give up their Wednesday evenings, every week, to invest in our youth.


We have over 400 people in serving ministries at The Water’s Edge. And that is just our regular Sunday morning and Wednesday night stuff. It doesn’t include dozens of small group leaders or the hundreds who serve in the community. The 80 / 20 rule doesn’t apply at The Water’s Edge. Mr. Pareto would be baffled. In our short history, we have always been a church who seeks to live out the Gospel and be like Jesus. 

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. –Matthew 20:28

Jesus came to serve. We are created to be like God. Therefore, we serve. We have a lot of sayings about serving at The Water’s Edge.

  • Many hands make light work.
  • We most look like Jesus when we serve. 
  • The most beautiful thing you can do is serve another.

I have another saying: Thank you!

  • Thank you for every minute you have given and sacrificed.
  • Thank you for making worship possible every Sunday.
  • Thank you for making worship better every Sunday.
  • Thank you for every baby you have ever held and child you have invested in.
  • Thank you for every donut and cup of coffee you have ever served. 
  • Thank you for all the band practices we have never seen.
  • Thank you for all the stuff I didn’t mention. You are a blessing!

Most all of us on the staff, including me, have something like this in our job description: “Recruit, train, deploy, and support volunteer servants so that they may be fruitful in ministry.” It’s always been that way. Always will. Because we make friends when we serve. We grow when we serve. We expand God’s Kingdom when we serve. We move the church forward when we serve. There is another reason too:

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

To our volunteer servants, once again, thank you! To those who are considering serving and those who are not really considering it – I invite you to begin serving. You will be blessed and you will be a blessing!

In Christ,

Craig

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Building Update

We had a great meeting last Sunday as our architects and building team presented the most current proposal for our master plan and phase one of the master plan. The development and building plan are a work in progress. I encourage you to visit our web site, www.weomaha.com, for the most recent updates.


The turnout and participation for the meeting was outstanding: 170 people submitted 515 comments. Many of you affirmed the work of the building team and architects. Others offered helpful suggestions. Each of the comments were reviewed. Many were grouped with other similar comments. These comments are an essential part of the design process. Both the site plan and phase one are being improved because of your vision and thoughtfulness!

Here are the next steps:

1. Pray

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. -Colossians 4:2

Pray often. Pray for this development process. Pray for your part in this process. Pray that our church continues to grow to be more like Christ during this time. Pray that our ministries, both external and internal, serve and love and comfort and develop people. I encourage you to walk around the church property and pray.

2. Participate

Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. –Joel 2:28

In the next month, there will be more opportunities for feedback—both in large group and small group formats. Because of the size and diversity of our church, none of us will have all our preferences met, but everyone will be listened to. Share your hopes and dreams. Share your questions and concerns. We are all in this together. You may also email any feedback to building@weomaha.com.

3. Prepare

Prepare yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you. –Joshua 3:5

The Water’s Edge has a rare opportunity in front of us. Your commitment and God’s provision has given us an incredible piece of land. In a few years this property will be surrounded by thousands of houses and apartments. It will be the only Protestant Church within miles. For generations to come, a safe and sacred space will exist in a bustling area of Omaha for God’s purposes. WE have overcome adversity and met every challenge and opportunity WE have ever faced. Developing this property will be our biggest challenge ever is simultaneously our biggest opportunity ever. To pull this off, most of us will have to make the biggest investment we have ever made in a ministry / non-profit. We will need more leaders and new leaders. We will need more servants and new servants. What WE are trying to do won’t be easy, but nothing great in life comes easy. 

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Friday, April 24, 2015

Confirmation Sermon

Getting started on working on the Relationshipology /
Confirmation sermon for Sunday. Hard to believe 
Benjamin is one of the confirmands. It seems 
like just yesterday I baptized him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Planting and Harvesting

Planted hundreds of bulbs in the gardens over the years.
Today is the reason why. The planting principle is true
with how we give, serve, and live as well.
"Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds
will get a small crop. But the one who plants
generously will get a generous crop." -2 Corinthians 9:6

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Youth Mission Sunday Offering

Earlier this week, Forbes magazine published the results from a study determining which jobs are most meaningful to those who do them. Three tied for first place: an orthopedic surgeon, a police chief, and a youth minister. Although these are three very different vocations, they share one similarity: virtually anybody who does them finds great meaning in their work.


I get it. I know a police chief. He is in our church. I’ve talked to him about his job before. He finds meaningful and he should. My running injuries have taken me to orthopedic surgeons all over the country. I’ve visited dozens of people with new hips and knees and a new lease on life. Cool stuff. And I used to be a youth minister. Did it for free for three years. Those kids are in their mid-thirties now. Then I did it for six years as a staff person.

Went to baseball and volleyball games. Drove a 15 passenger van all over the country. I invented a bunch of gross games. Sat with a kid who told his parents he was gay. Led discussions and did a lot of listening when a kid in the church died. Couldn’t even tell you how many graduations I have been to. Easily deep into the hundreds.

I agree youth ministry is as meaningful as meaningful gets. Seriously…who else gets to shape a generation?

Summer mission trips were the best. I saw changes in kids that only happened on mission trips. I still hear stories from trips that happened over fifteen years ago. They see poverty. They experience community. They encounter grace. They work through conflict. They discover what it means to serve. They embrace a new worldview. Nothing quite like them. 

I led my first one as a 24-year-old 21 years ago. I wasn’t even old enough for the church insurance company to insure me as a driver. This year my soon-to-be high school son is going on his first one. Neither of the above statements seem possible.

I believe in youth ministry. Perhaps the most important of our church. These students are at a pivotal time in their lives. We have invested countless hours and dollars in their academic and athletic training. This weekend we get to invest dollars in their spiritual development. 

This summer our church will send 70 youth and adult leaders on mission trips. These trips cost money. Although I wouldn’t really say it’s a cost. Let’s consider it an investment. A good one. 

Today we are taking an offering for our summer mission trips. Your investment in our students is critical. I encourage you to be generous as these students serve hurting people, grow in their friendships, and experience God’s love and grace.

You gave invest here.

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ice Cream

Today was a long day. Nothing like my my favorite food with
one of my favorite people.

Monday, April 13, 2015

WE Minute: Congregational Meeting

We are having a congregational meeting this coming Sunday, April 19th at 11:40. The meeting is about our building plans and related efforts.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Relationshipology: Theology

Today's message on biblical friendship and including God in our relationships.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friendship

Friends are part of your life for no particular reason. Lives intersect for various reasons. People are related, they live in the same neighborhood, they work together, they share some common interest like scrapbooking, running on dirt trails, deltiology, and so on. Any of these may be involved in a friendship, but they are secondary to the friendship.


A friend is not a friend for any specific reason. A friend is a friend for no particular reason. Who you voted for, your biggest successes and failures, your religious beliefs or lack of them—they all take a backseat when the two friends gather. A friend knows all about you and still loves you. A friend will never demand your silence or deny your right to speak. I friend listens to understand and not to respond. The usual distinctions of age, money, class, education, and gender cease to matter. True friends meet with a clean slate and on equal terms. 

The two friends gather for lunch. The cream cheese pepperoni pizza and the iced tea isn’t what the lunch is about. A friend knows feeding the soul is much more important than feeding the body. They talk about something. They talk about nothing. They are fine sitting in silence because they know sometimes communication transcends words. They laugh. They cry. They comfort. They challenge. They remember. They dream. Brick by brick they are becoming more together than either of them could have become as individuals. Not a bad gig. 

God calls Abraham his friend (Isaiah 41:8). I always thought that was strange until I understood friendship better. Friendship is not something God or Abraham or anybody can do alone. It is something Abraham and God have to do together. Abraham is not being Creature and God is not being Creator. There is no agenda. They are simply being themselves together. 

Is God’s friendship reserved for patriarchs like Abraham? Nope. Not according to Jesus: "You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:14)." Don’t get the idea that friendship is based on obedience or is in anyway conditional. The command Jesus refers to, of course, is "to love each other.” 

To be friends is to love. Being patient and not expecting perfection. Being kind by using words and actions to serve. Practicing humility and not pride. Forgiving. Persevering. Making it through the tough times. Seems like a high price to pay and it certainly is. Jesus never says it’s easy. But he shows, consistently and relentlessly, that true friendship is worth all the effort and a whole lot more. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Relationshipology Prayer

Dear God,

I’m grateful for the relationships – past and present – that have brought joy to my life.
     For people who have invested in me.
     For friends who look past my faults.
     For strangers who have shown me kindness.

I thank You for the examples of how to relate to others.
     Forgiving those who have offended.
     Giving compassion to those who are hurting.
     Giving grace to those who simply don’t deserve.                 


Let me relate to others like You relate to all.
     Slow to anger and full of steadfast love.
     Patient and kind and not envious or proud or rude.
     Willing to give myself for my friends.

I need more of You in my life so that I may have more of others in my life.
     For the times I have failed and the people I have hurt – I ask your 
          forgiveness.
     For the areas I need to grow – I ask for Your wisdom.
     For the grace to speak and act like You – I ask for Your strength.

I want to be a blessing to my friends, my family, and all people.
     Let my thoughts be pure and holy.
     Let my words flow from a heart that is being transformed by You.
     Let my actions imitate the love, servanthood, and character of Christ.

I seek healing and wholeness with those closest to me and those I relate to regularly.
     Where I have messed up, let me seek reconciliation and receive mercy.
     Where I have been offended, let me offer forgiveness and grace.
     Give me the strength to listen, learn, and love.

Make me a new creation. 
     I’m grateful You have always loved me even when I have been unlovable.
     I’m thankful You have given me the example and the friendship of Jesus 
          Christ.
     Grow my relationships with You and with others.

Amen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter 2015

Easter. A big bunny carrying around an endless supply of brightly colored eggs filled with candy has taken the day over. Kids canvas their house on Easter morning in the relentless pursuit of sugar. Not that I am adverse to the well-travelled, giant, friendly bunny—but I do wonder if we are missing the point?

For some people Easter is an unofficial kick-off to spring. Many families gather to eat ham, some sort of potatoes, and lots of salads. Others take a long weekend to go somewhere or get some stuff done around the house.


To the disciple, Easter is the day death died. 

When Jesus came limping out of the tomb, the dead came to life. That very moment, God planted a seed of life in us that cannot be killed. If we are blessed enough to have figured this out, there is not a whole lot we can’t do: forget fear, move mountains, love our enemies, forgive somebody who has hurt us, forgive ourselves, hope for a better tomorrow, get a good night’s sleep, laugh, experience joy, serve the hurting, grow closer to the One who wants nothing more than for you to grow closer to Him. 

Easter either means everything or it means nothing. 

All of us, with no exception, have areas of our life that need to die and be resurrected into something better. Sometime between our birth and today we climbed into a tomb that holds us captive from a) experiencing the world God has created for us to enjoy and b) living the life God wants us to live. Just like Jesus walked out of the tomb and experienced new life, Easter is the day we can walk out of our tomb and experience new life. 

Here is what I believe about Easter: The hurt become healed, the broken and bitter become better, the resentful become restored, fears become faith, the selfish become a servant, the indifferent is filled with compassion, the addict will experience recovery, doubts don’t get in the way of dreams, jealousy becomes joy for others, and low self-esteem becomes appropriate self-confidence. 

Many of us are drained. Tired. Stressed. Depleted. Sad. Living as if our world and the world depends on us. Jesus says: 

Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. –Matthew 11:28 

God invites you to leave the tomb and embrace and live the once-to-be-lived-and-never-to-be-repeated life He gives you. Easter: Grace prevails over sin, hope overcomes despair, and life defeats death. It either means everything or it means nothing. 

Because of Easter, I believe the best is yet to come… 

Craig