- We can be owned by our past or our past can own us.
- We can be losers or learners.
- We can be failures or futurists.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Our new 9:00 service is off and running. We are off to a good start. We had 110 people our first week and 70 people our second week. These are small beginnings that remind me of the small beginnings when we launched our first worship service at Russell Middle School four years ago. We have had a number of new people and new families worship with us in the last two weeks. I’m grateful for the volunteers and staff who worked so hard to start this service and am excited to see where God takes us with this new opportunity.
I have been praying more than usual. I believe the activity of God in our life is directly related to the amount of prayer in our lives. Among other things, I pray for the development of our church, the people in our church, and prayer requests that are submitted to me. Each week, after our worship experience is over, prayer partners in green shirts are in the back of the commons area, behind the worship food and beverage area, to pray for you. They are trained to listen to you, to keep confidentiality, and to offer simple prayers. I also invite you to join me in praying daily for our church and others in our church.
Many of you have asked about the Grotto I talked about last week in my sermon. It is in a small town about 3.5 hours northeast of Omaha. Visit it on the Internet at www.westbendgrotto.com.
Since before The Water’s Edge even started, I have been encouraging people to invite their friends, co-workers, and relatives to worship with us. Most of our growth has happened because of personal invitations. Inviting others is a great way share your faith and partner with Christ in building God’s kingdom. We have cards at the connections table you can give to people to invite them to our worship services. Pray about who you are going to invite to worship with us in the near future.
The weather this time of year is my favorite. Until spring rolls around.
Our worship services are now available on video on the Internet. Check out our website and Facebook page to watch our services online.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
- Go to Him with our burdens…he will give us rest.
- God is the Great Physician and the Great Counselor
- When we are in God’s presence, we put ourselves in a situation where God can care for us
- What is my current situation?
- What are my challenges?
- What are my strengths?
Friday, September 17, 2010
But northwest Iowa is home. I spend the first eighteen years of my life and three years as an adult there. As we drove from Omaha up the western part Iowa, the sights and smells became more familiar. Miles and miles of golden soybeans covered some of the most fertile soil in the world. The green combines were busy working harvesting corn that stands ten feet tall. We stopped at an apple orchard. The boys picked some of the best apples a person could eat. The orchard wasn’t staffed. We paid on the honor system. We later walked into the one hundred and twenty-five year old house I grew up in. I was immediately taken back to the seasons of my youth.
A few hours later I laced up my trail running shoes and took a short drive to Kindlespire Park. It is where I trained as a high school runner and during the summers in college. The long and windy hills still meandered through the forest that borders the Little Sioux River. Deer, wild turkey, pheasant, and squirrels looked at me with bewilderment, just like their ancestors did. The river crossings were the same. The dirt trail was covered in acorns. It is still a slice of heaven carved in the prairie. After an hour of sweating and stumbling through the woods, I realized I had returned home.
Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. –Malachi 3:7
We all have a common home. It’s not in Nebraska or Iowa. It’s in God’s Kingdom. A time existed when God was so present in our lives. Life as we understood it made so much sense. We loved God and we loved people.
But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! –Revelation 2:4-5
God urges us to return home to Him. And God promises us that He will return to us. We will feel His presence, life will begin to make sense again, and we can freely love and be loved. That is our true home.
The best is yet to come…
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The Door of Prayer
When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. -Matthew 6:5-6
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. -Matthew 7:7-8
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. –Soren Kierkegaard
What is a struggle you have in your prayer life?
How are you going to make prayer a more active part of your life?
What do you think about the statement that the primary function of prayer is not to influence God but to influence the one who prays?
The Door Only You Can Open
Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. -Revelation 3:20
Opening the door and allowing Jesus into our lives gives us a loving, lifetime friendship with Jesus and community with God.
What does it mean to let Jesus in and share a meal with him?
What parts of our life is it easy to let Jesus in to?
What parts of our life is it not so easy to let Jesus in to?
The Door of Dysfunction
A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. –Proverbs 14:1
There are seeds of self-destruction in all of us that will bear only unhappiness if allowed to grow. –Dorothea Brande
What are some doors of dysfunction that people need to close?
Why is it so difficult to close doors of dysfunction?
What has worked for you in the past on closing the doors of dysfunction?
The Door of Freedom
A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! -Acts 16:22-26
True freedom is not based on external surroundings. True freedom is a status of the soul.
Why do you think Paul and Silas were singing in prison?
What does it mean to be free?
What prisons do we find ourselves in?
Two Good Doors. Two Good Choices.
When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me. But I had no peace of mind because my dear brother Titus hadn’t yet arrived with a report from you. So I said good-bye and went on to Macedonia to find him. -2 Corinthians 2:12-13
Some of life’s most important decisions as you enter into the next chapter of your life will not be between right and wrong. Often, the most important choices we make are between two non-evil options. So we must choose between right and righter.
How do you choose between right and righter?
Do you ever look back and wonder if you made the “righter” decision?
What is something you have learned from today’s lessons?
What is a practice or an idea from your life that you will seek to start or restart as you move into the next chapter of your life?
What is a door in your life you would like to close?
What is a door in your life you would like to see open?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Sept. 12 - Opening + Closing All the Right Doors - Romans 12:1-13
Sept. 13 - The Door of Prayer - Matthew 6:5-13
Sept. 14 - The Door of Dysfunction - Proverbs 14
Sept. 15 - The Door of Freedom - Acts 16:19-34
Sept. 16 - Two Good Doors - 2 Cor. 2:12-13
Sept. 17 - The Door Only You Can Open - Rev. 3:14-22
Sept. 18 - The Door to Loving Others - Ephesians 3:14-20
Sept. 19 - Picking Up the Broken Pieces - Job 1:1-22
Sept. 20 - Broken and Battered - Job 2:1-13
Sept. 21 - Beyond Brokenness - Job 10:1-22
Sept. 22 - My Redeemer Lives - Job 19:1-29
Sept. 23 - People Can Help - Job 37:1-24
Sept. 24 - God Can Help More - Job 38:1-41
Sept. 25 - Brokenness Restored - Job 42:1-17
Sept. 26 - Making Changes in My Life - Colossians 2:6-7
Sept. 27 - Obedience - Luke 6:46-49
Sept. 28 - Temptation - Matthew 4:1-11
Sept. 29 - Forgiveness - 1 John 1:8-10
Sept. 30 - Persistence - 1 Cor. 9:24-27
Oct. 1 - Purity - Psalm 119:1-20
Oct. 2 - Becoming Like Christ - Colossians 3:1-11
Oct. 3 - Seeing Ourselves Through God’s Eyes - Genesis 2:1-25
Oct. 4 - God’s Love - Romans 8:31-39
Oct. 5 - God’s Grace - Romans 5:18-21
Oct. 6 - God’s Power - Acts 1:6-8
Oct. 7 - God Wants Our Friendship - John 15:9-17
Oct. 8 - God Sees Our Potential - 1 Samuel 9:21-27
Oct. 9 - God Helps Us - Philippians 2:12-18
Oct. 10 - One Life - John 10:1-10
The next four weeks will allow us to investigate God's Word and put into practice some biblical principles in major areas of our lives. You are encouraged you to use the following SOAP method of reading the Bible.
Complete the "S" by reading the scripture. Don't just skim through it, but really think about what it means. Imagine what the people involved were experiencing. Write down a verse or two that really stood out to you in your journal.
Complete the "O" by writing down observations about the scripture you just read. You may want to write your own summary of the passage, but more importantly, think about what God has to say to you through this part of his word.
Complete the "A" by writing down how this Bible passage applies to you right now, in your daily life. For example, in the parable about the prodigal son, which character do you identify with most: the loving and merciful father, the son who squanders his life and then repents or the resentful older brother? Do you see similar situations in your life right now? How can you respond in the way Jesus taught?
Complete the "P" by writing down a prayer. This is a personal message from you to God, so don't worry about getting the perfect words down. Just make it honest and heartfelt. Remember that God always listens, and already knows your needs. He just wants to hear from you.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Four years ago this weekend, Faith-Westwood did some exploring. A few dozen of us prepared to launch a new ministry: The Water's Edge. On September 10, 2006 we met at Russell Middle School not knowing what to expect. We had lots of rain, lots of guests, and began our exploration together. This morning we are exploring again. I have no idea how this morning will turn out, but I’m looking forward to more people serving together, getting connecting to each other, and growing closer to God.
Today is also a morning when we start a five-week study about exploring what the next stage of our lives look like. As I have planned, studied, and prayed; I’m more excited about this series than any series I’ve done before.
To our guests and people who have started worshipping with us recently: I really hope that you will join this exploration with us. I hope that our church becomes your church and that you move from being our guest, to becoming our friend, to becoming our family.
To our volunteers: Just when things were getting pretty comfortable, we are going exploring again. I’ve said it before and will say it again many times: The Water’s Edge would simply not be possible without you. Many of you are taking on additional responsibilities as we go exploring. I don’t know of a church anywhere that has volunteers who are as dedicated as our volunteers. If you are not currently volunteering and would like to begin serving, as of this morning, we have plenty of opportunities for you.
One more thing. I like a clean house. Clean, organized, clutter-free is what I prefer. With a nine-year old boy, a three-year old boy, and a one-hundred and fifty pound dog; our house isn’t always clean, organized, or clutter-free. I have discovered in life that I would rather have a party and clean up the mess than have no party at all. I’ll take the two boys and the dog ten times out of ten. I know over the next few weeks we will have a little messiness to clean up as we transition to two worship services. Thanks for your patience and your help! Being willing to clean up a little messiness simply means that we are prepared to go anywhere, as long as it is forward.
I’m looking forward to exploring and moving forward with you.
The best is yet to come…
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Repentance doesn't mean regretting or feeling bad about something. Metanoia, the Greek word for repentance, means turning 180 degrees. It means completely changing the way we feel, think, and act. It means turning away from greed, despair, sin, self-righteousness, and hate and turning toward compassion, hope, service, grace, and love.
Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”
Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” –Luke 5:27-32
Repentance means moving from:
- Hate to love
- Selfishness to service
- Control to cooperation
- From sin to grace
Compassion is not being content yourself until there is contentment for others.
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
"Lord," they answered, "we want our sight."
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. –Matthew 20:29-34Be compassionate if you want contentment. If you want contentment for others, be compassion.
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 188:24
In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today, and there will never be another just like it again. Today is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious today is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all. –Frederick Buechner
Unless we realize how precious and sacred today is, chances are that our lives will be full of regretting, busying, and dreaming – and not living.
We need reminders that today is holy, sacred, and precious. I pray this is your reminder.
Pride is seeing ourselves as better than others. True humility is simply seeing ourselves as God sees us.
Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us
And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” -1 Peter 5:5
Friday, September 3, 2010
I have a son who is almost four. David is learning new words all the time. He loves to go on walks at night and learn about the world. He doesn’t sit for too long. His imagination is vivid. He loves silly songs. He doesn’t like being alone. He is a lot different now than he was about four years ago! In four years he will be a lot like our nine year old son, Benjamin.
Sometimes I want to hit the pause button. I don’t want the boys to lose their soft skin or their innocence or their playfulness. I look at pictures from their past and at times I even want to hit the rewind button. But I can’t push those buttons and even if I could, I wouldn’t because I would delay or even prevent the boys from becoming the person God has created them to be.
Next Sunday, The Water’s Edge turns four. We are a lot different now than we were four years ago. There are a lot more of us (we have more children on Sunday mornings than we had total people four years ago). We have added three staff people. We have hundreds of great volunteers who make this ministry happen. We have one of the best Sunday morning kid’s ministries around. We collect tons and tons of food for hungry people right here in Omaha.
At times I want to hit the pause button. I don’t want us to lose some of the things that make us so unique. I think about the past and even want to hit the rewind button occasionally. But I can’t and even if I could, I wouldn’t because I would delay or even prevent The Water’s Edge from becoming the congregation God has created us to be.
Benjamin has gone through four pairs of soccer cleats in four seasons. His foot keeps growing. Because of growth in our first year, we moved from Russell Middle School to Millard West High School. Next week, beginning September 12th, we will be getting a new pair of cleats: a 9:00 worship service will be added to our existing 10:30 worship service. Here is what you need to know.
- Both worship services will be very similar in form and content to our current 10:30 worship service.
- The kid’s ministry at 10:30 will remain the same.
- The kid’s ministry at 9:00 will only be available for birth through pre-school. We hope to develop a Sunday school for older children in the near future.
- We are expecting a much bigger crowd of people at the 10:30 services. If you are trying to decide which service to attend, especially if you don’t have elementary aged children, give the 9:00 service a try!
- We will have time and space for breakfast, snacks, and relationship building between services. Stay late and come early!
- We will be adding adult classes on Sunday morning. A 10:30 class will start on September 12th. We will be starting other classes soon!
I'm looking forward to starting the next chapter of our life together as a congregation and together as individuals next Sunday on our fourth birthday!
The best is yet to come…