Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial Day means different things to different people. It usually falls around the time of graduation and the ending of school. For some it is the beginning of summer. Picnics, BBQ, family reunions, and sporting events are all associated with Memorial Day. For some it is simply a welcomed day off from work. For others Memorial Day is a sacred time. Memorial Day is a United States Federal Holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates United States men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to include those who died in any war or military action. The following words are from Twila Paris:

He was twenty-one in 1944
He was hope and he was courage on a lonely shore
Sent there by a mother with love beyond her tears
Just a young American who chose to rise above his fears
And as I watch him struggle up that hill
Without a thought of turning back
I cannot help but wonder
What did he die for?
He died for you and me

To the darkest day in A.D. 33
Came the mercy and compassion of eternity
Sent there by a Father with love beyond His tears
Blameless One, the only Son
to bear the guilt of all these years
And as I watch Him struggle up that hill
Without a thought of turning back
I cannot help but wonder
What did he die for?
He died for you and me

As Americans we are blessed with political, economic, and religious freedom as no other group of people in the history of the world have ever been blessed before. This did not come without a high price. Many people who are reading this have known somebody who has lost their lives defending the things that make the United States so great. As Christians we are blessed with spiritual freedom. Things like hope, forgiveness, and grace give us both an abundant and eternal life. This did not come without a high price. Jesus lost his life so we can experience a full life that will last forever.

The best is yet to come…


Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Little Bit About A Lot of Things

Here is Sunday's Column

Response Team 

Last Sunday I shared a dream about creating a Mission Response Team. The goal of this team is to go serve people who are recovering from natural disasters. In the last few months, help has been needed all over the country. My dream is to have dozens of people register to serve in this ministry. This pool of people would be contacted when a disaster happens and those who are able will go serve hurting people together. This ministry will obviously start small, but my prayer is that it will turn into something big. If you are interested in being a leader for this ministry, contact Join me in praying for this ministry as it develops.

Team World Vision 

On next race will be the Omaha Marathon (26.2 miles), Half-Marathon (13.1 miles), and 10K (6.2 miles) on September 25th. We had 63 runners finish the Lincoln Marathon and Half Marathon and raised over $26,000. We will be releasing information in the next week or so as we are still working out a few details with World Vision and the Omaha Marathon. 

I encourage you to join the team. You can walk, run, or do a combination of the two. Spend this summer getting fit and help support kids in Africa! Check out our web site:

Summer Slump 

The Water’s Edge is having a great year so far. Our average adult attendance is 453 per week (up 30% from last year) and our average kid’s Sunday school attendance is 104 per week (up 48% from last year)! Typically churches see less people in worship during summer months. Memorial Day is next weekend. Then school gets out for the year. I want to challenge you to do a few things this summer that will keep us thriving as a congregation and as individuals.

1. Try out the 9:00 worship experience. The service has grown in the last six months. It is identical to the 10:30 service. You can be done at 10:00 and have the rest of the summer day to enjoy.

2. Invite a guest to worship and introduce them to me and to some other people. Things are a little more laid back in the summer and this gives us an opportunity to get to know new people better.

3. If you are out of town or your child has a game early on Sunday morning, you can watch the sermon on YouTube. Visit You can also subscribe to a podcast if you prefer an audio version.

4. Do the daily Bible readings and study questions. You can always find them at on this site.

5. Register for E-Giving. People who give electronically report that it is easy and it helps them be consistent.

6. Register to be on a volunteer team. We have a few more opportunities in the summer. Email (adult teams) or (the kid’s team) to volunteer.

The best is yet to come…


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bible Reading Plan - Philippians

In about five to ten minutes per day, you can read through the entire New Testament in one year. If you didn’t start on January 1st, start today. Stay consistent and make focused Bible reading a daily habit. 

Read the selected chapter each day. 

Spend some time in prayer reflecting on how God spoke to you through the reading. 

Read the study guide for the day you are on to dig a little deeper into a few selected verses. 

Respond to the questions and prayer guides as you apply the biblical teachings to your life. 

By the end of this week we will have read through Matthew, John, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, 1 Thessalonians, James, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John.

Sunday, May 22nd – Philippians 1 

Paul uses his letter to the church at Philippi to provide a sort of map and encouragement for how the Philippians could grow in faith. He begins his encouragement in verse 6 by saying, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” In what manner is God working on you right now? How can you take Paul’s words of encouragement and apply them in your life? 

Monday, May 23rd – Philippians 2:1-11 

Read this passage two or three times throughout the day today. How clearly do these directions from Paul stand out? Don’t be selfish. Don’t try to impress others. Be humble. Look out for others. Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. How difficult this can be for so many of us. Keep a mental tally of how many times God provides for you to exercise these principles today. How can placing this passage at the forefront of our day change our focus and the way we respond to the challenges that come our way? 

Tuesday, May 24th – Philippians 2:12-30 

Reread verse 13. This verse reminds us that our desire and strength to live for and please God comes from God himself. If we’re left to do things for God out of our own power, we will faith. But Paul continues to provide the encouragement that it is God’s power which helps guide us, not our own. In what ways do you need to rely on God to help you love Him today? 

Wednesday, May 25th – Philippians 3:1-11 

It’s easy to list all of our good deeds and religious accomplishments, pat our selves on the back and say we’re good Christians. But in verse 7, Paul reminds us that what we do means nothing without understanding Christ’s sacrifice first and letting our good deeds flow from our faith in Christ. Reread verses 10-11. Could this be your wholehearted prayer today? 

Thursday, May 26th – Philippians 3:12-21 

Can you associate with Paul in this passage? Faith is like a journey or a long race. Paul calls us to rely on God’s strength to get us through the journey. None of us are perfect, but God still calls us to run the race and win the prize. Be encouraged. Keep running. Press on. 

Friday, May 27th – Philippians 4:1-9 

Can you imagine never being worried about anything? It’s seems like an inpossibility. But Paul’s advice to us in verse 6 is to turn our worries into prayers. Do you want to worry less? Then pray more and focus your thoughts on those things mentioned in verse 8. 

Saturday, May 28th – Philippians 4:10-23 

Paul writes he has learned to be content with whatever he has (verse 11) and that he knows the secret to living in every situation (verse 12). In verse 13, he gives the answer, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Where does your strength come from? Are you drawing from the source? How can you begin today to seek out God’s strength and power more in your life?

(Thanks to Chad Schuchmann for writing this study guide.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ephesians Bible Reading Plan

In about five to ten minutes per day, you can read through the entire New Testament in one year. If you didn’t start on January 1st, start today. Stay consistent and make focused Bible reading a daily habit.

Read the selected chapter each day. 

Spend some time in prayer reflecting on how God spoke to you through the reading. 

Read the study guide for the day you are on to dig a little deeper into a few selected verses. 

Respond to the questions and prayer guides as you apply the biblical teachings to your life. 

By the end of this week we will have read through Matthew, John, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, 1 Thessalonians, James, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John.

Sunday, May 15th – Ephesians 1

Beginning in verse 15, Paul writes about praying for the Church at Ephesus. Paul was a busy guy. He planted churches, wrote a good chunk of the New Testament, and even spent some time in jail. Yet, Paul’s primary ministry was a ministry of prayer. Note how he prayed for them—that they would: 1) Receive spiritual wisdom, 2) Have their hearts flooded with light, and 3) Understand the incredible greatness of God’s power. Pick some people, make them your prayer focus this week, and be consistent in praying these three things for them.

Monday, May 16th – Ephesians 2:1-10

Reread verses 8 to 10. The Protestant view of salvation is that we are saved by grace through faith. Salvation is not because of what we have done (works), but because of our faith. Then, we do works of kindness, service, and charity as a response to God’s grace. Is this what you have believed in the past? Is this what you have practiced? How do these verses shape the way you live as a disciple? What does it mean to you that you are God’s “masterpiece”?

Tuesday, May 17th – Ephesians 2:11-22

Reconciliation is possible through Christ. Paul focuses on two areas of reconciliation: 1) Reconciliation with God and 2) Reconciliation with others. Reread verse 16. Christ reconciled people to God. Humans don’t do the work. Christ has done the work. Pray about reconciliation in these two areas of your life. Pray about specific areas of your spiritual life that need reconciliation. And pray about areas of your relationships with people that need reconciliation as well.

Wednesday, May 18th – Ephesians 3

Reread verses 14 to 21. This is Paul’s prayer. Think of some of the people who are closest to you. Pray this prayer for them. Pray this prayer for yourself. This is a powerful prayer. Revisit this prayer and commit to praying this prayer often.

Thursday, May 19th – Ephesians 4

Reread verse 2. This verse will help you in relationships with family, friends, co-workers, classmates, customers, and people you don’t get along with. Paul’s asserts the imperfection of perfection. People who expect perfection from others are going to be disappointed ten times out of ten. Because of our imperfection, Paul urges: 1) humility, 2) gentleness, and 3) patience. How are you doing in each of these areas? Pray about ways these three areas can improve your existing relationships.

Friday, May 20th – Ephesians 5

Reread verse 20. Paul encourages thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an attitude that changes lives. Gratefulness can help cure us of depression, envy, and greed. Spend some time writing a comprehensive list of twenty things you are thankful for. How did you feel before you made the list? How do you feel after? Spend some time praying down the list and thanking God for God’s generosity.

Saturday, May 21st – Ephesians 6

Reread verse 20. Paul is writing this from prison. Note that Paul’s circumstances do not affect his ministry. Think about current circumstances in your life. Pray for God to use you exactly where you are.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Letter to Graduates

Dear Graduate,

You will get a lot of these notes over the next few weeks: 

Make the world a better place. 
Live life with no regrets.
Chase your dreams. 
Laugh often. 
Work hard.
Love all.

It seems like yesterday to your parents when they dropped you off at Kindergarten for the first time. They wiped the tears from their eyes as this little person walked into this big door. Since that day you have attended school about 2,340 times. You have learned. You have made friends. You have been hurt. You have been mentored. Some days it was lots of fun. Some days it wasn’t much fun at all. Your parents are going to watch you graduate soon. The same teary eyes that dropped you off at Kindergarten thirteen years ago will surely well-up as you walk across the stage.

I want to tell you some things I wish somebody would have told me twenty-three years ago when I graduated from high school. Things I have learned the hard way.

Fail often and fail well. Failure is a necessary step to success and significance. Failure teaches courage, wisdom, humility, and perseverance like only failure can. I don’t want you to get to the end of your days wondering what might have been if you had only taken a risk, but didn’t, because of the fear of failure. Tomorrow’s dreams are made possible by today’s failures.

Don’t forget to play. People will tell you to study hard when you go to college and work hard when you get a job. I agree with those people. I’ve studied hard and worked hard all my adult life. But I want you to hear this: Don’t forget to play. My best memories in life are not sitting in front of my computer writing my dissertation or standing in front of people preaching the Gospel. I enjoyed those times, but my best memories are swimming in a lake with my boys and exploring the country with my wife. 

Love people and not possessions. Stuff can give you happiness for a while. People will give you joy and contentment for a lifetime. Spend much of your time, energy, and resources investing in people rather than acquiring things. Jesus pretty much says the same thing when he asks: “What good is it to gain the world and forfeit your soul?” The soul designed to live in community with others and with God.

Have faith. Some things in life can be proven. Sound travels faster than light. The moon doesn’t shine its own light. But the most important things in life can’t be proven. We can’t prove a friend is a friend or that forgiveness is better than revenge or that love is better than hate or that God is holy. That is where faith comes in. Have faith in self, others, and God. You’ll need it because the most important things can’t be proven.

The best is yet to come…


Monday, May 9, 2011

H2O: Source - Mother's Day - Video

Here is the video from my sermon from yesterday.

Like rivers, people have a source. We are not an accident. We are created by God, our Source for life. Craig examined some of our preconceptions of God and painted a picture of who God really is and how God loves us. Craig invited us to enter into a deeper relationship with God - our loving parent.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

The Bible tells us to honor our mother (Exodus 20:12). For some of us this task is simple and natural. For others it is difficult and contrived. Some mothers are nearly perfect. Others have made so many mistakes that only God can clean up the mess. Either way, God says, “Honor your mother.”

The boys and mom - post-Christmas 2010

My mom, Bonita, is imperfectly perfect. Despite her demanding job as an accountant and parenting my three older siblings, she loved me like I was the only one to love. I ran track and cross country in high school and college. She drove thousands of miles to see me run around a 400 meter track countless times. She was my biggest fan – celebrating the victories and encouraging me on the days I wished I was on the golf team instead of being a distance runner.

She is not perfect, but as far as moms go, I am blessed. She enjoys and loves her many grandchildren. But she still loves me like I am the only one there is to love.

The role of being a parent is holy and sacred. Even if the parents are neither holy nor sacred, the role of parent is still sacred like the role of pastor is still sacred even if the pastor is a scoundrel. Being a parent is ordained by God, the creator and sustainer of life. Being a parent has responsibilities and rights. The responsibilities are many.

Entire books have been written on parenting: but praying, playing, listening, and modeling a Christian life are a good start. These responsibilities are for the parent of a six year old child and the parent of a sixty year old child. The rights are many as well: smelling the hair of a sleeping baby who has recently been bathed, laughing with the child exploring life, watching the child running races or dancing dances or singing songs, witnessing the child become who God wants the child to be, and having that child care for you when you are no longer able to care for yourself just like you once cared for the child when he or she was not able to take care of himself or herself.

Today is Mother’s Day. God’s command to honor your mother applies today as it does every day. Honoring them doesn’t mean putting them on a pedestal or worshipping them. It means seeing them for who they are and who they are not. It means loving God and our neighbor as faithfully and selflessly as mothers at their best have tried to love us. It means listening to them, praying for them, playing with them, and taking care of them to the end of their days on earth.

To mom, Amber, and all the mothers reading this—Happy Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bible Reading Plan - Galatians

In about five to ten minutes per day, you can read through the entire New Testament in one year. If you didn’t start on January 1st, start today. Stay consistent and make focused Bible reading a daily habit.
  • Read the selected chapter each day. 
  • Spend some time in prayer reflecting on how God spoke to you through the reading. 
  • Read the study guide for the day you are on to dig a little deeper into a few selected verses. 
  • Respond to the questions and prayer guides as you apply the biblical teachings to your life. 
By the end of this week we will have read through Matthew, John, Romans, Galatians, 1 Timothy, 1 Thessalonians, James, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John.

Galatians is a wonderful book about salvation by faith and freedom from sin.

Sunday, May 8th – Galatians 1

Reread verse 10. Do you try to please people? Most of us do. The problem is, no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to please everybody. How do you feel when you have done your best and it still isn’t good enough? Paul has a different plan and a better plan: pleasing God. Think about the possibilities of what you life could look like if you decided to please God instead of people.

Monday, May 9th – Galatians 2

Reread verse 20. Consider the words: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” What do these words mean for you? Think about the areas in your life you would like to change. Replace them with some of the attributes of Christ. Distant will be replaced by close, anger with patience, critical with encouraging, apathetic with interested, and harshness with kindness. Pray for Christ to live in you.

Tuesday, May 10th – Galatians 3

As Americans, we generally like to earn what we have. The Bible says in chapter 3 that God’s love and the filling of the Holy Spirit are not earned by good works but given through faith. What does this mean to you? Pray for God to give you more faith.

Wednesday, May 11th – Galatians 4

Paul talks extensively about slavery and freedom. What things are holding you captive? Pray to be set free in these areas of your life so that you can experience the freedom God intends for you.

Thursday, May 12th – Galatians 5:1-18

Paul urges the Galatians and us to live a Spirit-filled life. Pray for God to lead your decision making processes. Develop a biblical worldview, improve your prayer life, worship God more fully, serve God’s children more radically, and seek counsel from seasoned disciples.

Friday, May 13th – Galatians 5:19-26

Look at the fruits of the Spirit in verse 22. How many of these fruits are being displayed in your life? Pray for more of the Holy Spirit. Revisit this list and expect God to make you look more like Him.

Saturday, May 14th – Galatians 6

Reread verse 4. Paul challenges the Galatians to not compare themselves to others. The challenge is for us as well. Do you compare yourself to others? When we do, we usually either have a false sense of superiority or an inappropriate low self-esteem. Think of what your life could look like if you stop comparing yourself to others.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Søren Kierkegaard

Today would have been Søren Kierkegaard's 198th birthday. Here are some of his quotes to consider:

A statue of Kierkegaard in Copenhagen, Denmark

  • A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him.
  • Be that self which one truly is.
  • Boredom is the root of all evil - the despairing refusal to be oneself.
  • Don't forget to love yourself.
  • During the first period of a man's life the greatest danger is not to take the risk.
  • Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.
  • Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.
  • Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.
  • God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.
  • How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. They have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WEtv - Running For Kids in Africa

Ten thousand runners ran the Lincoln Marathon and Half Marathon on May 1st. Sixty-three of those runners were on the Running For Kids in Africa team. Most of the sixty-three had never run a race before. Sixty-three finished their race.

The group had four goals when it started in November. 
  1. To raise money to support kids in Africa.
  2. To embrace a healthier lifestyle.
  3. To forge existing friendships and to create new friendships.
  4. To help people achieve a dream.
Watch five stories of how God changed lives through this ministry.

If you are interested in joining us for our fall marathon, half marathon, or 10K - visit our web site:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Laughter and Being a Young Mom

Not much of this is terribly original, but Happy Mother's Day, in advance, to all the moms out there.

Ten Reasons You Know You Are A Young Mother
  1. You know all the words to the Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, and Dora the Explorer theme songs.
  2. You cut up your husband’s dinner in bite-sized pieces.
  3. Your favorite piece of jewelry says "Mommy" on it and only cost $10.
  4. You have hundreds of photos of your kids, but not a single one of yourself.
  5. Your feet stick to the kitchen floor...and you are good with that.
  6. A gourmet meal is chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.
  7. You stop criticizing the way your mother raised you.
  8. You've mastered the art of placing large quantities of pancakes and eggs on a plate without anything touching.
  9. You hope ketchup is a vegetable, since it's the only one your child eats.
  10. You say at least once a day, "I'm not cut out for this job", but you know you wouldn't trade it for anything.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Marathon

Running for Kids in Africa. We were an eclectic group of runners.

Some of the team before the race

One of the runners had lung cancer a few years ago. Post-operation, he never dreamed one day he would be running a half-marathon. Another of the runners is the fastest Nebraskan ever at 10,000 meters. He’s not as fast as he was twenty years ago when he won a national title at Wesleyan, but his love for the sport and for people is contagious. One marathoner smoked two packs of cigarettes per day in December. These five months have changed his life and maybe saved his life. One woman has run the Boston Marathon five times. Forty-five runners had never run a race before. One of our runners placed in the top ten in the marathon. The other sixty-two didn’t. 

Sixty-three of our runners started the Lincoln Marathon or Half-Marathon. Sixty-three finished. The hours and hours of training during the cold, icy weather paid off. The miles and miles of sweating on the treadmill are now worth it. I was proud to wear my bright orange shirt yesterday. I knew the people wearing the same shirt in front of me and those behind me had given and were giving their best. 

One of our runners, Bill Draper, was not able to run the marathon because he suffered a severe brain injury about three weeks ago. Thirty-six hours before our race we ran Bill’s race for him. One hundred and seventy five people: runners, children, friends, family, and supportive strangers from the church showed up and ran or walked a lap in Bill’s honor. It was a beautiful thing seeing the church be the church. I drove to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital after the marathon and gave Bill my finisher’s medal. The medal is his now as he takes the beginning steps to his marathon of recovering. 

I have run in the Drake Relays against Olympians in front of 20,000 fans. I’ve run the Boston Marathon with 25,000 other runners. As I look back, this was my most rewarding experience as a runner. We raised over $26,000 for kids in Africa. If nothing else happened that would have been more than enough. Kids will get fresh water, nutritious food, education, medicine, and hope. 

But something else did happen. Friendships were forged. Strangers become supporters. Husbands and wives trained together. Dads ran with their daughters. God gives us each other and we all now understand that better. 

People embraced a happier lifestyle. Collectively, the runners lost hundreds of pounds. Hearts and lungs various other muscles have become stronger. 

But the thing I loved the most was seeing the fearful be transformed into a finisher. Running a half-marathon or marathon seems like a daunting task. And it is. Six months ago, many didn’t know if they could do something like this and were fearful. Yesterday, the runners did this and were finishers. Through Christ, more is possible in life that what we believe. 

Amanda doing her first half marathon

Four typically skinny distance runners

Allison on her way to breaking two hours!

Jamie and April - Training Partners and Friends

Jessica finishing her first marathon!
Michelle and Emily - Mother and Daughter - Finishers

The Nech's before the race

I think those hands are always attached to the hips

Rick Perez running down the Hauptmans

Ray and his girls. They ran great! After Ray paced them, he went 
out and paced a marathon runner. Over 30 miles for the day!

Jessica and Stacey celebrating post-race

The Vances and the Clements