Saturday, October 31, 2015

Boys

David getting ready for his game.
Benjamin on his way to debate.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Seven One-Sentence Prayers That Will Change You

This morning I am talking about prayer. Sometimes, the best prayers aren’t the longest or the most eloquent, but the most succinct and simple. Consider praying these prayers regularly.


Thank you for…

Gratitude is the best place to start. God has blessed you. It’s easy to dwell on problems or challenges. Spend some time dwelling on God’s goodness and your blessings. It will change your day. It will change you night too.

I’m sorry for…

Be authentic. Confession isn’t meant to beat us up or force us to relive past hurts. Confession lets us keep discovering who we are and who we can become. It also helps us discover Whose we are. It opens doors to God’s grace. 

Let me more fully receive Your grace.

God says His grace is greater than our sin. And it is. We can choose to live that way or not live that way. This prayer helps us live that way.

Give me faith.

The most important things in life can’t be proven. The love of a friend, possibility for tomorrow, the existence of God, etc… That is where faith comes in. Believing where we can’t see. Paul says it’s a gift. This prayer helps us keep receiving this gift.

Help me to prioritize.

Life is best lived when we focus on what is most significant and important. This prayer will keep reminding us to focus on what is most significant and important.

Let me give to others generously, with compassion, without judging, and with no strings attached.

This is how Jesus operated and he tells us to do the same. This prayer moves us in this direction.

Lord, what do you want to do through me.

This is the most dangerous and also the safest prayer you can ever pray. The most dangerous because it will move us to places we haven’t been before. The safest because it puts us in the middle of God’s will.


Kierkegaard writes the function of prayer isn’t to change God, but to change the one who prays. These prayers will change the one who prays.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

National Hot Chocolate Day

Drinking hot chocolate and watching Creighton soccer.
Perfect night for both activities.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ministry Sunday

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables. –Mark 4:1-2

I remember the day I read that passage. I had read it before. Many times. In seminary for sure. In Disciple Bible Study. During my devotions. But this day was in the spring of 2006. I looked out the office window at my house. I could see the trees getting green. The traffic was busy on Harrison Street. A few snow piles still remained. The kids were walking on the sidewalk taking the journey from school to home. I read it again and again.

Getting read to serve at The Water's Edge

The Water’s Edge Leadership team was struggling to find a name for our yet-to-be-formed congregation. I was pretty sure that was it: The Water’s Edge. The dream was to gather believers and non-believers and anybody else at the water’s edge to hear the teachings of Jesus. I had experienced and I had observed what the teachings of Jesus do: they change things. 

I was so excited for people to gather and connect and grow by hearing the teaching’s of Jesus at The Water’s Edge so that we would all be equipped and inspired to love, give, forgive, and serve. I knew a bunch of people who encounter the teachings of Jesus would never be the same again.

I sit in a different office now. It’s quite a nice one. The hard work of some men in the church and the generosity of hundreds of families made our ministry center possible. I hear the kids playing next door. The sun is setting. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m looking at the beautiful colors at the Lake Zorinsky preserve. God has outdone Himself today. Sunday is ministry Sunday. I think about how far we have come since that spring afternoon almost a decade ago.

Mentoring kids at Release Ministries and The Hope Center. Collecting food for Together Omaha. Serving people in Belize and Uganda. Welcoming guests. Leading worship. Setting-up and tearing-down chairs. Holding babies. Making blankets. Stuffing envelopes. Counting money. WE Serve. Leading small groups. Serving donuts and coffee. Serving on our media team. Teaching children. Serving communion. Leading students on mission trips all over the country. Serving on one of our leadership teams. Coordinating volunteers. I could go on and on…but I can’t exceed 500 words.

As good as these ten years have been; the next ten will be better. We will transition from temporary facilities to a permanent home. The Water’s Edge. The place where people will gather and connect and grow by hearing the teaching’s of Jesus so that we are equipped and inspired to love, give, forgive, and serve.

To everyone who has ever served in any way…I am grateful for you!

The best is yet to come…

Craig

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

End of an Era

One of the two boys has been driving the Gator to Faraway for groceries for the past nine years. I think next spring David may be too big. This may be the end of an era.




Thursday, October 15, 2015

Faith and Future

The Greek word generally used in the Gospels for the English word faith is πίστιν which means “to be persuaded.” Persuasion implies a change in attitudes or behaviors. It is a movement of convictions based on reason and emotion.


Faith is best thought of as a verb and not a noun. Something we do and not something we have. James 2:17 tells us without action, faith is dead. Faith is a journey and not a destination. And it’s a gift from God – we can’t create it – we can only receive it and respond with it. (1 Corinthians 13:13) Faith is being persuaded to take the next step even though we don’t see the finish line. 

Risk is part of faith. To be persuaded that an uncertain future is better than a current reality. Refusing to take an adventure for something extraordinary is a guarantee for achieving something ordinary. Risking (acting on faith) means possibly losing one's footing for a moment or two; not risking means losing oneself. 

Possibility is part of faith. Being persuaded the best is still to come. Faith is believing the possibilities and not accepting the limitations. Hope is the painting; faith is the painter. 

Dependence is the beginning of faith. At times in our life we have been pushed and will be pushed to our limits. Here is the world: bad things happen and so do terrible things. We’ll discover, sooner or later if we haven’t already, that independence from God doesn’t work out. And dependence is the beginning of faith. 

Trust is the maturity of faith. The disciple just doesn’t believe in God, but trusts God. The disciple trusts that God can do more with six of our days depending on Him than he or she could do in seven days independent of Him. The disciple trusts things like praying for our enemies. This makes no sense but the disciple does it because it’s God’s idea therefore it is a good idea. 

The Water’s Edge is demonstrating faith. Our building project is by far our biggest step of faith we have ever taken. A persuasion that moving forward is our next step in our journey together with God. It is a risk. A big risk. We have faith that God has a sacred and holy use for this land. We have faith that people will get to know God and get to know God better on this project. We have faith that new friendships will be formed and existing relationships and families will be strengthened in these buildings. We have faith that hurting people, marginalized people, and broken people will be served on this property. And we trust that God will provide. After all, it’s His church. 

The best is yet to come… 

Craig

Thursday, October 1, 2015

God Has Outwitted Me and I'm Good With That

October is Pastor Appreciation Month.

I feel appreciated every month. As far as a pastor serving a congregation—I am blessed. I couldn’t imagine serving a more loving congregation. 

The only gift I hope for this month is something I want everybody at The Water's Edge to give me: the opportunity to pray for you.


Share with me your dreams and your desires. Your fears and failures. Your struggles and your successes. Share things about people you love the most and things about people you don't understand.

Text me. Email me. Tweet me. Post something on my Facebook wall if you want the world to see. Visit me at the office. Call me. Mail me a letter.

One of my great blessings in life is praying for people. I can't wait to hear from you!

Brother Lawrence wrote the book: The Practice in the Presence of God in 1691. When he became a monk he was convinced he would experience God the most through receiving the sacrament of communion multiple times per day. The educated man was assigned the task of washing dishes for his brothers. Tears ran down his face as he scraped the plates. Performing a necessary act of service for people he loved. The presence of God, for him, was found most in service. He wrote these words that go beyond truth: “Oh God, You have outwitted me.”

When I quit my job at the newspaper in 1997 and become a graduate student in theology I thought my primary role would be preacher and pastoral care giver. I get great joy and satisfaction out of those roles. But for me, I experience the presence of God when praying for others. 

God has outwitted me and I’m good with that.

I teach a class to new United Methodist preachers. One of the things I talk about is prophetic preaching. Speaking to the people on behalf of God. I give them a caveat though. I say something like: Before you talk to the people on behalf of God, make sure you are talking to God on behalf of the people.

I look forward to speaking to God on your behalf. The easiest way to share your prayer requests is to email me at craig@weomaha.com. Or you could text me, tweet me, post something on my Facebook wall if you want the world to see, visit me at the office, call me, or mail me a letter.

Praying for you,

Craig