Friday, October 30, 2009


If I were to ask you to list the Ten Commandments probably some of you could get all ten of them. Most of us would get some of the obvious ones: don’t steal, don’t murder, don’t cheat on your spouse, and don’t gossip. I have a feeling many of us might not remember the commandment about rest: Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. (Exodus 20:8-10) Even if we do remember that commandment, is it one that we embrace and practice?
We have a constant temptation to work. And when we are not working it is easy to think about work. Other activities keep our schedules full: household management, children, and social functions are at the top of the list for most of us. We describe ourselves as busy, hectic, and full of activity. Some of us even wear these titles as a badge of honor as we equate activity with importance, significance, and worth. But I think, and I think you think, that something isn’t quite right.
God says: Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act. (Psalm 37:7) It is interesting what this text doesn’t say: 1) Be still and wait patiently for Him to act. 2) Be active in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act. It says: Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.
Imagine that you are sitting with a close friend that you haven’t seen in quite some time. The two of you sit down to have a conversation, to talk and listen. The only problem is that you are sitting on a bench on the corner of a major intersection. It is rush hour. A guy is mowing the grass right behind you. A large airplane is flying overhead. Distractions are all around. We call this ridiculous.
But when it comes to real life we call it perfectly normal. In the midst of our busyness, stress, worry, and activity do we really think we are going to hear God’s voice? God gives us the Sabbath as His gift to us. It is a period of time where we can be still in God’s presence, wait patiently, and be His child—nothing more and nothing less.
Keeping Sabbath isn’t something we do. It describes who we are. It means we are rested instead of tired. Content instead of craving. Calm instead of worried. Giving instead of requiring. And, feasting instead of nibbling on whatever scraps we can find.
God tells us to rest and to be still. Not all the time. But some of the time. Rest is not idleness. Rest allows us to renew our mind, body, and soul and live as we have never lived before.

Robin and Batman

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Day in Pictures

David getting ready for the day

Craig's legs - post-run

David playing with his trains

Injured Benjamin after a long day of having daddy wait on him

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crazy Love: Moving South

Here are the Bible verses from this morning's sermon. Check out chapter 3 of Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love and Fred Craddock's sermon, "Praying Through Clenched Teeth" to dig deeper. Listen here.

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. -Matthew 7:11

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” -Matthew 22:37-38

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good.” -Luke 18:19

But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. -Romans 5:20-21

Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not. –C.S. Lewis

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39

Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie. After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn’t know me personally. All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” And they praised God because of me. -Galatians 1:11-24

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Last Saturday morning, Benjamin and I went to Scheel’s to sell Cub Scout Popcorn. The popcorn is excellent. It is also pretty expensive as far as popcorn goes. Which is the whole point of the fundraising: to raise funds.

We got there at eleven o’clock in the morning. We set up shop. We had the official Pack 396 sign on our table. Benjamin wore his little uniform. When he was a tiny first grade Tiger Cub, he had the extra cute thing going for him. All women and most men would smile at him, many would stop and talk, and a decent percent would even purchase some popcorn.

He is still pretty cute, but a growing third grader’s cuteness is much different than a tiny first grader’s cuteness and the popcorn is now a tougher sell.

As people walked into the store, many tried to avoid eye contact. I was so proud of Benjamin. He looked people in the eye and asked them if they wanted to buy popcorn. Person after person had one of the following replies: “No”, “No thanks”, “Not today”, or “No, I’ve already bought some”. But Benjamin kept asking. He even changed his sales pitch from: “Would you like to buy some popcorn?” to “Would you like to support the Cub Scouts?” People still said “no”.

Finally after about ten minutes, he got his first “yes”. He was so excited. Then came another string of people saying “no”. He showed people the different kinds of popcorn. Some more people bought from him. Others said they would get buy some on the way out of the store. Most still said “no”. A friend of mine and his wife bought some. A former scout was Benjamin’s biggest sale. A young couple talked to Benjamin for a few minutes and decided on some Carmel Corn. A woman decided she didn’t want the popcorn, so she chose the military option and bought some popcorn for a soldier serving overseas. One woman gave us a donation. But most people said “no”.

After an hour of selling, it was another scout’s turn. Benjamin and I added up his sales for the morning. He sold almost two hundred dollars worth of popcorn.

On the way home I asked Benjamin how it felt to be rejected. He said it was tough. I followed up by asking him why he kept working so hard. He could have just sat behind the table and waited for some business to hopefully come to him. He said, “I wanted to raise as much money as I could for the Cub Scouts.”

I’m guessing a few hundred people said “no” to Benjamin. I know ten people said “yes”. Rejection happened over ninety percent of the time! The alternative is having zero people say “no”. It sounds pretty good until you realize in this scenario that zero people will also say “yes”. You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take in life. The wise learn that failure and rejection isn’t the opposite of success…it is part of success.

In Christ,


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Elementary Economics: Preference and Demand

I mentor a Talented and Gifted Student at my son's school in economics. Benjamin was asking me what I was doing at his school today. I told him I was teaching economics to a student. He said, "Daddy, let me remind you that you are a pastor." I explained to him that I have a very expensive piece of paper in a nice frame on my office wall that qualifies me to teach economics to an elementary student. Benjamin still isn't convinced but here is the lesson for the day:

My Pie Eating Distribution Chart

Assume that I am at a restaurant and there are four choices of pie. Each pie has an unlimited supply and cost the same to produce. Further assume that I am the only customer. Which pie should the restaurant charge me the most for? The Key Lime pie, of course, because it is the pie with the greatest demand. Although it doesn't cost any more to produce, I demand more Key Lime Pie than all others kinds of pie combined. If they charged twice as much for Strawberry Rhubarb pie than the Key Lime pie, chances are I would never eat the Strawberry Rhubarb pie.

A company who gets this: Apple. They own the market for MP3 players. The iPod is the Key Lime Pie of MP3 players. Apple knows that most customers prefer iPods over other models. So, they can price the iPod higher than their competitors. Today over seventy percent of portable music devices sold are made by Apple and Apple is making gobs of money off it's iPods.

A company who doesn't get this: General Motors. The company prices their vehicles similar to Toyota and Honda. (GM has bigger issues like labor costs, but I'll stick with preferences and demand for now.) What happens is the consumer buys Key Lime Pie (Honda and Toyota) since it costs the same as Cherry and Pumpkin Pie (Chevrolet and Buick). Then the restaurant has too much Cherry and Pumpkin Pie, so they offer special deals on the Cherry and Pumpkin Pie, like employee pricing and letting people pay for the pies interest free over the next five years. And they wonder why they are losing money.

In two weeks: What would happen if Apple raised its prices too high?

Monday, October 19, 2009


The local newspaper called last week and wanted to know what churches were doing about preventing the H1N1 virus. The article ran yesterday on the front page of Sunday's paper.

One of the points I was trying to make is that I wouldn't force people to hold hands (like during a prayer) or shake hands (like during our intermission) during the worship service. Other things I talked to her about were cleaning toys in the nursery, communion servers using hand sanitziers, and our food and beverage people using gloves.

I've visited a few kids in the hospital in the last week. It is serious stuff.

Read the article here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crazy Love: Mist

Here is my sermon from this morning. Listen here.

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. –James 4:13-14

ἀτμίς = tūphos = mist

Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. –Ecclesiastes 1:4

O God, remember that my life is but a breath. -Job 7:7

Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring. -Proverbs 27:1

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’” –Luke 12:16-20

Intellectually we all know that we will die, but we do not really know it in the sense that the knowledge becomes a part of us. We do not really know it in the sense of living as though it were true. On the contrary, we tend to live as though our lives would go on forever. –Frederick Buechner

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
–Philippians 4:4-6

The entire world, with one small exception, is composed of others. –John Maxwell

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? -Matthew 6:25-27

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Amber and I went to the Nebraska - Texas Tech game this afternoon. It was a wonderful day for a college football game. It was also one of the most uneventful games I have ever been to.

Texas Tech pretty much owned Nebraska in all areas of the game. The game wasn't as close as the 31 to 10 score indicated. Even though the game was not good, it was a wonderful afternoon. I don't know the last time we spent eight hours together without kids.

The Psalmist writes:

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. -Psalms 84:10

Application: Even though the game wasn't the best, I was with Amber so it was a great day. Sometimes life isn't the best, but when we are in God's presence, it is a great day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Listening to God

Here is my column for Sunday:

The couple is sitting across the table from each other at a restaurant. They may as well be a million miles apart. Being in close physical proximity doesn’t mean emotional closeness no more than sleeping in a garage makes you a car. They are busy. He is thinking about the day he had at work. He left office building, but for all intents and purposes, he is still there. She is looking around the restaurant. First at the fajitas when they are delivered to a neighboring table. Then she looks at a couple leaving together. As their food is delivered, he checks his email once more. She is sharing text messages with a friend.

They are in a relationship, but not on the best of terms. She decides to talk about some of the conflict. He doesn’t want to deal with this and gets defensive shortly after she starts talking. Their conversation is going nowhere fast. Both of them are more interested in winning, being right, whatever you want to call it. They talk. They are easily distracted.

The problem is that neither of them is listening to each other. They are not communicating. They are each seeking to be heard, but not to hear. To be understood, but not to understand. To be right and not to be loved or loving.

We’ve all seen these people before. We have probably even been one of these persons before, at least to some extent.

As we think about our relationship with God, it is helpful to look at these two people. Their relationship is struggling because they aren’t listening and they aren’t loving. To have a growing, flourishing relationship with God, the Bible talks about listening and loving:

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, and in his teaching said: "Listen!” (Mark 4:1-3a)

Jesus invites us to the water’s edge to listen to Him.

God also invites us to love:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Patience, humility, being open to God’s leading, justice, perseverance, hope, and endurance—these are the attributes that will help us in our relationships with other people and also the attributes that will help us in our relationship with God.

God wants us to listen to Him. I pray we respond with our ears, our eyes, our minds, and our hearts. God has created us to love Him.

In Christ,


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quotes on Listening

I challenged my small group on Sunday to spend this week listening to God. Instead of our normal routine of talking to God, we agreed we would spend time listening. Doing some research for Sunday, I ran into these quotes on listening:
The first duty of love is to listen. -Paul Tillich
A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard; Why aren't we like that wise old bird?
To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation. -Chinese Proverb
I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. -Ernest Hemingway
A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Called to Botswana

Here is my interview with Bob and Barb Van Wyk from yesterday’s worship experience. They have been friends of mine for about 10 years. Great people called by God to serve in Africa. I encourage you to visit their web site for ways to hear their story of faith and to support them financially and in prayer.

Listen to the interview

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Crazy Love: Stop Praying

Here are the notes from this morning's sermon. Tonight I encouraged my small group to focus on observing and listening to God instead of talking at God. I encourage you to try this as well for the next seven days.

Listen here.

What if you were told to stop talking “at” God for a while, but instead to take a long, hard look at him before you said another word?

Then Job replied to the Lord, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.” -Job 40:3-5

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. -Romans 1:20

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. -Psalms 19:1-4

God is Holy

God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” -Exodus 3:14

God is Eternal

But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation….But you are always the same; you will live forever. -Psalms 102:12,27

God is All-Knowing

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes. -Hebrews 4:13

God is All-Powerful

For through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. -Colossians 1:16

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Market to Market Relay 2009

The day started off in snowy, congested, and windy mess. It was cold, but turned out to be a decent day. 160 teams ran from Omaha to Lincoln in the Market to Market Relay.

First leg

4.5 miles

5:44 (big uphill - a little ambitious!)

It was on a slushy gravel road.

Second Leg

The stage was supposed to be 3.58 miles. I got just over three miles on the Garmin. This was my better of the two runs today.


We had a blast. Four men and four women. Thanks Mike, John, Michael, Heather, Laura, Abby, and Anna for hanging out all day and doing some awesome running. Thanks Nicole for keeping us organized. We were in third place overall and leading the fourth place team by over ten minutes until the runner on our last leg got lost on a trail transition. :( Very frustrating but that is the way things happen sometime. He ran an extra 2.5 miles and we ended up getting passed by two teams and ended up in fifth place. Laura also ran an extra 2.4 miles on her leg and Vance had a little detour too -- so we totaled over 91 miles on an 86 mile race. We averaged 6:00 per mile for the 91 miles.

Can't wait to do it again next year.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Job was having a bad day. It was more like a bad week. He pretty much lost everything that wasn’t nailed down. In tough times people tend to question God. Job was no exception as he shared these words:

And now my heart is broken. Depression haunts my days. My weary nights are filled with pain…I cry to you God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you and you don’t bother to look. You have become cruel toward me. (Job 30:16-21)

When Job was done complaining, God had a few words of His own for Job. The words recorded are some of the most beautiful, powerful, and passionate Hebrew words ever written:

Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you. Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb? Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground and make the tender grass spring up? (Job 38)

And God was just getting warmed up. He takes a break and asks Job a question: “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?” Job replies: “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will put my hand over my mouth in silence. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.” (Job 40:1-5) God continued on for a little bit more just to make sure Job had the point. And Job got the point: That God is God and Job is Job. That God is God and Job is not God. At the end of the Book of Job, God blesses Job. Job got some new livestock, new children, and lived a long, good life.
But Job’s biggest blessing from God wasn’t possessions or people or the length and prosperity of his days. Job’s biggest blessing was his encounter with God. Job knew for the rest of his days that God was big. That the world was God’s idea. That Job was God’s idea. No matter how big Job’s problems seemed—God was always bigger.

Suffering. Job knew it well. Thousands of years later, things are still pretty much the same. Most of us suffer some of the time and some of us suffer most of the time. Jesus even tells us such is the case: I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. –John 16:33
God. He created the world. He loves the world. He created us. He loves us. Troubles and problems happen to us in the world that God created and loves, but God is bigger than any trouble that will ever come our way.
In Christ,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kids Against Hunger

The Water's Edge partnered with Kid's Against Hunger last Sunday. It is a simple formula: $2,500 + 50 volunteer hours = 10,000 nutritious meals for hungry people throughout the world. Thanks to all those who volunteered.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I met tonight with my teammates for the Market to Market Relay that is going to be run on Saturday. It is an 86 mile race from Omaha to Lincoln.

I had a friend who recently ran a 100 mile race in just under 20 hours. So, an excellent ultra runner can run 86 miles in about 18 hours. Our team of four men and four women will finish in about 9 hours or half the time an individual could do it in.

It is an illustration that we can do more together than we can by ourselves. This is true in the church, in marriages, in other relationships, at work, and pretty much everywhere else.
  • Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. -Ryunosuke Satoro
  • Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. -Vince Lombardi
  • If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. -Isaac Newton

I'm thankful for all the people who are on my various teams. Lots of people have made and are making me better than I ever could have become by myself.

Think about these two questions:

  1. Who is adding value to your life?
  2. Whose life are you adding value to?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Serving Hurting People

Our world is full of brokenness and hurts. God dreams that our hearts become like His heart. A heart that breaks for people with a broken heart. We most look like Jesus when we are serving others. This morning in my message I challenged us to partner with others and partner with God to serve hurting people.

Listen here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Burrito Mile

I had a nice 14 mile run at 6:00 in the morning. The big run for the day was at 2:30 in the afternoon at the Westside Track. It was the Burrito mile and it was a great race. Competitive Eating + Middle Distance Running = The Burrito Mile.
The airhorn goes off and the contestants eat a Qdoda Burrito as fast as possible.

I ate the burrito in about 3 minutes. About six or seven people were faster than me in the first part of the race. One guy ate it in way less than 2 minutes.

Then comes the mile. I ran well. I didn't know how much the giant burrito would slow me down. It wasn't much of an issue. I started off running about 5 minutes per mile. I passed everybody except the leader in the first half. With 500 meters to go, the leader had about 150 meters on me. I shut it down and settled for second place--no way I was going to catch him and I wasn't going to experience a reversal of fortune trying.

Burrito (3:00) + Mile Run (5:23) = Burrito Mile (8:23)

Post-run, I got the burrito taste out of my mouth with some ice cream from the Cold Stone Creamery and won't be eating a burrito anytime soon.