New Year, New Worries

January 5th, 2012 • By: Greg Van Dahm Uncategorized

By Greg Van Dahm

I find that the New Year’s resolution tradition provides a good opportunity to look back and assess what has worked for me in the past and what has not.  The older I get, the more past I have to sample.  I come from a family of worriers.  My dad has always worried about pretty much everything from, ‘will the basement flood when it rains?’ to ‘will my cancer come back?’, everything is fair game.  My grandmother was the same way.  If someone in the family was outside of her vision, she worried about them.

I’m not proud to say that in this case, the nut doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  What I find interesting when I look back is that when I worry about something, in my mind, that worry becomes huge.  I have worried about what the mechanic will say about a noise my car is making; I have worried about losing my job; and I have worried about the health of my children.  It would seem that there would be a continuum of worry; worry a little about the car, worry a lot about the kids.  Strangely enough, at the time I am struck by the worries, they all seem about the same in intensity.

So as I looked back this year, I remembered some of these worries and then I remembered the outcome of the situation I worried about.  Never did the outcome match or exceed the intensity of the worry.  It’s not that I have led a charmed life; it’s just that the worries always contemplate the absolute worst case scenario with no possible redemption.  So, I’ve had to trash cars, I have been unemployed and my kids have suffered serious health problems and yet, the final analysis of the outcome has never been as bad as my worries. And there is always redemption.

While that might not be surprising, what caught me off guard was when I considered what I gave up to my worries.  For a long period of time, I spent my Sundays worrying about the next work week.  I would lie around the house, good for nothing, as I worried.  Mondays were actually a relief because as soon as I got to work, I forgot what I was worrying about.  What was the harm?  I could have had more quality time with my children when they were growing up.  I could have been more productive.  There’s nothing wrong with lying around the house on a Sunday but if I hadn’t been worrying, I could have relaxed better and been far more prepared to take on the week.

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Not exactly comforting words when taken by themselves.  However, Jesus said this after two paragraphs of teaching that worry is pointless.  It gains you nothing.  Moreover, worrying flies in the face of a God who promises to take care of us and meet our needs.  When I worry, what does that say about my faith?

This year, there will be trouble.  Trouble in the world and trouble in my life.  It’s a promise from Jesus who said In John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.”   Again, not terribly comforting words.  But he followed that sentence with. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So, this year I resolve to not worry.

You should know that I have already broken this resolution.  So I have replaced that resolution with: I resolve to pray.  God is big enough to take on my worries.  When I recognize the worry spiral, I will consider the energy lost to worries in the past, consider the promises of Jesus and pray that God’s will be done.
I wrote the following poem a year or so ago when I was struggling with worry.  I’ll try not to worry about your opinion of it.

Control lost to uncertainty
Worry of dreams lost
Of love lost
What if?
Present mortgaged to
Tomorrow becomes today
Lost to tomorrow; lost forever.

Life passes
Blessings unrealized
Present but unnoticed
Obscured by pseudo gods
Grasped so tightly
They warp at the pressure
Of our clenched fists
And become unrecognizable.
So we grasp for more
Fists full of emptiness.

Insubordination of peace,
Sabotage of joy.
Promises of God
Lie dead on the battlefield
Of life.


June 25th, 2011 • By: Anna Church News

Join us for our

3rd Annual

Waterfront Family Picnic

Sunday, June 26th



Waterfront Picnic


They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love

January 11th, 2011 • By: Greg Van Dahm Uncategorized

So I was thinking a while ago about a song we used to sing back in the ‘70s when our traditional old church was trying to get ‘hep’ (hep was a hipper version of hip).  This was an unfortunate time when balding old men grew out their hair and wore leisure suits to try to keep up with the hippies from the 60’s who had already moved on.  So we added a paperback ‘song book’ that sat in the pews in front of the hard bound hymnal.  Then we would sing one song out of the song book and two out of the hymnal.  In the song book, every song was written between 1965 and 1974 and in the hymnal, every song was written between the time of David (the Psalter) and the modern period of 1920 something.  I’d like to say that that unfortunate time was just a transitory period but, aside from hair being cut (or shaved) and leisure suits being exchanged for khakis, not much has changed.

The songs (never to be confused with hymns) were intended to be sung with an acoustic guitar around a campfire.  At our church, they were sung with a full throated organ, the only concession being to add a piano (that only the pianist could hear).  The result being that the song, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” sounded remarkably like, “Onward Christian Soldiers”.  Probably not as intended when written but I still remember it so perhaps the point was made.  Anyway, I was in my mid teens and mumbled along with the song book.  I didn’t really think much about the words and, in retrospect, I’m guessing most of us were in the same boat. 

So I recently began thinking again about that song.  If you don’t know it, the words are:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

By our love, by our love

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

By our love, by our love

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

And it struck me that this song is a summation of the teaching of Jesus.  So I began to wonder, how are we doing?  Do they know we are Christians by our love?  Are we the shining city on a hill that can’t be hidden?  When the world thinks of Christians, do they think of people that love?  If someone acts in a loving way, do people think that person is a Christian?  Is it likely that that person is a Christian?

To break it down further, how are we doing loving other Christians?  “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.  And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.”  Best I can find, this song was copyrighted in 1966.  Forty five years later, are we closer to unity among those of us who call ourselves Christian?  Catholic, Protestant (pick your denomination), independent, are we all on the same page?  Is the teaching of Jesus central and the rest just points for style?

How do the media portray us?  Are we ridiculed because of our naïveté and our propensity to love when the world tells us to judge?   Do prosecutors try to object to Christians on a jury because of our reputation as people who forgive and are quick to provide second chances?  Are we the ones who are looking to educate the poor, provide health care for the sick and reach out to the forgotten?  Are we the ones who seek peace?  Are we troubled in our spirit when we consider big picture issues like illegal immigration, homosexuality, AIDS?  Do we recognize that our sin is the same as their sin in God’s eyes?  Do they know we are Christians by our love?

How am I doing?  If I were to ask those who work with me, “do you know that I’m a Christian?”  What would they say?  If they said yes and I followed up with, “how do you know?” would they say, “I can see it in the way you treat people.  I can see it in the way you try to quietly turn conversations away from gossip and tearing people down.  I can see it in your peaceful disposition when everything is going wrong.”?  If you were to ask my family, would they say, “he builds into us.  We know he loves us even when we aren’t loveable.  We know that we are his priority above all else but God.”?  When I see someone that looks different from me, what is my first thought?

I think it is clear that we are not there yet.  While some of us may be able to say that yes, they do know that I’m a Christian by my love, I don’t believe the Church (all the world’s Christians) could say the same thing.  My prayer is that we, as the Church, can work to the point where we can all agree to embrace the goal that they will know we are Christians by our love.  Perhaps this needs to happen one church at a time. 

So, as one church in the big Church, a fledgling church whose mission is to Love God and People Well (so that they’ll know we are Christians by our love), Waterfront, how are we doing?

How Do We Do That?

August 18th, 2010 • By: Greg Van Dahm Giving

You may have heard that Waterfront Community Church gives away all the money that is collected during its church services.  That sounds very ambitious, maybe a little naïve and frankly, impossible.  The Church meets in a local church building, they have staff and what about utilities, resources and…

So, how do we do that?  Is it a miracle, like the loaves and fishes?

Well, yes and no.  The people of Waterfront Church take seriously the command of Jesus to “Love God and People Well”.  Therefore, we want to use the resources provided to the Church to do just that.  Loving may happen in person-to-person relationships, holding each other accountable, providing a meal for someone who is hurting or by providing resources through money or a gift card.

To be able to do this, the leaders of Waterfront Church do all in their power to keep expenses down.  Waterfront does not own any real estate or the church building in which it holds services.  There are no church offices.  A very reasonable rent is paid to use another church’s building.  The people of Waterfront Church agreed to move its services from the traditional Sunday morning to Saturday night in order to share this building.  All utilities are included in the rent and Waterfront Church volunteers help maintain the building by cutting the lawn, making repairs and assisting with the landscaping.

So who pays for the church?

At the beginning of the Church, the decision was made that all money collected during the services would be given away into the local community and into the world to help those with needs.  Also, at the beginning of the church, a few committed people agreed to pay for a portion of the Church’s expenses.  Some pay for operations, some pay for staff, some both.  Church staff find their own support.  Some of their financial support comes from Waterfront attendees and other support comes from those outside the Waterfront family who believe in the mission of the Church.  No money from the offering plate is ever used to pay for either operations or staff.  All money from the offering plates is given away.

So, is it some kind of miracle?  Whenever people look outside themselves and place others first, we believe it is a miracle.

Baptism Week At Waterfront

February 5th, 2009 • By: davidherrick Uncategorized

Next week, Wednesday, February 11th, at 7:00 PM, we are celebrating a milestone at Waterfront Community Church and a milestone in the lives of two people.  We are about to celebrate our very first baptisms!  We are very excited about this week at our church.  The reason we started Waterfront three months ago wasn’t just to fill a room full of people.  We wanted to love God and people well and help people experience life change through the power of knowing Jesus Christ.  If you’re so inclined, come join us at 348 Wildberry ln. in Bartlett, IL, February 11th at 7:00 PM, to help us celebrate what God is doing in these two people’s lives.

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