Monday, November 28, 2011

Waiting. Hoping.

Waiting. Hoping. This prayer was inspired by the worship services at 
The Water's Edge on November 27th, 2011.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Small Groups

Week four in a series of seven columns 

In this series of columns, we are looking at the difference between a take-off and a launch for The Water’s Edge, beginning on January 1st, 2012, as we become a United Methodist Church separate from Faith-Westwood. The first two columns have been on areas we have thrived in and are going to even do greater things in the future: missions and ministry to children and students. Serving hurting and marginalized people and loving and developing children and students was Jesus’ priority and will continue to be our priority as well. The third column discussed the vision to be and be known as a kind and generous congregation while simultaneously resourcing the vision God gives us. For today’s column, I go back to the beginning.

It was in a basement. Amber and I invited dozens of people from the community and from Faith-Westwood. Of the fifty or so people we invited, sixteen showed up. I was the oldest person in the room. We went around and introduced ourselves. Most of the people didn’t know each other and they surely didn’t know what they were getting into. Ninety minutes later we left and we were a small group. During the next few months we become friends, we prayed together, we applied the Bible to our lives, we learned from each other, we played together, we supported each other, and we looked forward to our weekly meetings. 

One couple moved to Louisiana to go to graduate school. Another couple moved to Missouri for a job promotion. Another couple felt called to ministry and are now serving together at another United Methodist Church here in Omaha. The rest of us are leaders at The Water’s Edge. 

The idea of a small group goes back to Jesus. He knew a better option existed to living alone: living in community with others. He had the 12 disciples. They weren’t the pick of the litter, but Jesus wasn’t too picky. And then he had Mary and Martha. They weren’t good enough for other men, but they were good enough for him. The early church followed the example of Jesus.

The early believers met in the Temple and also in people’s homes. (Acts 2:46) Church was worshipping in the Temple and meeting as a smaller group in people’s houses. One wasn’t considered more important than the other. Both were essential. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism in 18th century England knew this as well. The foundation of early Methodism was small groups. Small groups would meet weekly and then a bunch of small groups would meet together when a preacher was available—usually monthly. 

Today, at The Water’s Edge, we have about two dozen groups of various shapes and sizes. These groups include hundreds of people. Friends have been made, discipleship has been deepened, and people have been cared for. Small groups are who we have been, who we are, and who we will be. I encourage you to join a small group! You’ll be glad you did. 

The best is yet to come… 


Friday, November 18, 2011

Generosity and Kindness

Week three in a series of seven columns 

In this series of columns, we are looking at the difference between a take-off and a launch for The Water’s Edge, beginning on January 1st, 2012, as we become a United Methodist Church separate from Faith-Westwood. The first two columns have been on areas we have thrived in and are going to even do greater things in the future: missions and ministry to children and students. Serving hurting and marginalized people and loving and developing children and students was Jesus’ priority and will continue to be our priority as well. 

Today we look at resourcing our future of living out the Gospel together while simultaneously looking at one word that can transform our lives: generosity.

Jesus said more about money than any other subject. When it comes to a person’s real nature, money is of the utmost importance. Throughout Scripture and life, an intimate correlation exists between our character and how we handle money. 

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also. –Matthew 6:21 

Giving does something in us that only giving can do: it transforms us into kind and generous people. Would you rather be known as “giver” or as a “consumer”? Being a giver means our priorities are in order. True giving is not a responsibility, but a privilege. True giving is more than an act of obedience. It is an act of faith. It is trusting that God can do more in our lives with 90% of our resources than we can do with 100% of our resources. 

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” -2 Corinthians 9:7 

Giving does not come naturally for most of us. The concept of generosity seems to be in direct conflict with the concept of self-preservation. However, it is not possible to become a fully committed follower of Jesus without becoming a fully developed steward of the resources we have been blessed with. Good things that cannot be calculated or quantified are set in motion in our lives and in our finances when we give. But we have to give in order to experience God’s blessings that exist only for those who give. 

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. –Luke 6:38 

The dream is to become a church that is known for its kindness and generosity. The dream is to be a church consisting of people who are on the journey to becoming kind and generous people. People who trust that as we fund God’s vision – reaching unreached people, serving poor and hurting people, and loving and developing children – God will provide and bless us beyond what we ever could imagine. 

The best is yet to come… 


Monday, November 14, 2011

Create in Me a Thankful Heart

Thanksgiving is a national holiday. The day before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are two of the busiest travel days of the year. It usually involves eating thousands of calories: turkey, dressing, potatoes, cranberries, some kind of corn, and pumpkin pie are usually on the menu. The Lions and the Cowboys always seem to be playing in a football game. And the newspaper is huge. Dozens of color advertisements are inserted between the sports and the business sections advertising 80% off things we don't need if we shop between midnight and four in the morning. Somehow I think we are missing the point of Thanksgiving.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Last week I wrote this prayer early one morning. I want to encourage you to pray it regularly - especially in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. It would be great to pray together as a family. A thankful heart is a cure to jealousy, greed, envy, selfishness, and taking people and things for granted. A thankful heart also can connect us to God in ways we haven't been connected to God before.

Dear God, 

Create in me a thankful heart. 
Develop in me a grateful mind. 
Give me an appreciative spirit. 

I confess feelings of jealously toward the actions of others. 
I confess feelings of envy toward the possessions, attributes, and skills of others. 
I confess feelings of greed that have caused ungratefulness in my life. 
Create in me a thankful heart. 

I have focused on what I don’t have rather than what I do have. 
I have taken for granted many of your blessings. 
I have wanted more than I have needed. 
Create in me a thankful heart. 

For your fellowship 
For my family 
For my friends 
I give you thanks. 

For a warm bed to sleep and good food to eat 
For clean water to drink and a clear mind to think 
For comfortable clothes to wear and a life to share 
I give you thanks. 

For your grace for my mistakes 
For your power when I am weak 
For your love when I am alone 
I give you thanks. 

For your presence and promise in times of grief and trials 
For your hope and light in days of despair and darkness 
For creating the unique person I am 
I give you thanks. 

For laughter and smiles and hugs and most tears 
For the ability to embrace and to be embraced 
For recovery, restoration, repair, and reconciliation 
I give you thanks. 

Give me an appreciative spirit. 
Develop in me a grateful mind. 
Create in me a thankful heart. 


Friday, November 11, 2011

Students and Children

The Water’s Edge Launch, Part 2 

Last week we started looking at the difference between a take-off and a launch for The Water’s Edge, beginning on January 1st, 2012, as we become a United Methodist Church separate from Faith-Westwood. Last week I wrote about what a launch looks like in the area of missions, serving, and outreach to our world, country, and city. 

This week we will look the people with a special place in the heart of Jesus and a special place in our hearts: children and students.

Kids serving runners this spring

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. –Mark 10:13-16 

The above passage talks about the importance of children to Jesus. I’m a parent of two boys, ages 10 and 4. I know how important our children are to us and I know how important your children are to you. For those who don’t have children or for those whose children are adults—I know you see the value of outstanding and excellent children’s and student ministries to the church, to our culture, and most importantly to the children and students. 

Eight years from now, Benjamin will be a freshman in college. One of my dreams for him is that he will leave The Water’s Edge and be a Christian leader at his college and for the rest of his days. That is one of my prayers for all children and students at The Water’s Edge. I have confidence that a solid foundation will be laid in his life through incredible staff people who lead caring and committed men and women in service to our children and students and to children and students in the community as well. 

We already have well over one-hundred volunteers serving in children and student ministries. And we are going to need a whole lot more. One of the biggest challenges we have had in 2011 is managing the explosive growth in our children’s area (a great challenge to have!). I want to challenge all of us to serve and invest some way in these essential areas of ministry that are so important to God and so important to so many of us. I promise I will lead by example. I promise I will do my best in helping raise other people’s children and I know you will do your best in helping us raise our children. 

The best is yet to come…


Friday, November 4, 2011


Scene 1

I flew in a private airplane a few years ago. The take off from the Millard Airport was gentle. Even peaceful. It was cool flying over our house and seeing southwest Omaha from above.

Scene 2 

Benjamin and I sat next to each other and tightly held hands. We were at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the Space Shuttle Launch Simulator. A loud sound blasted and we were thrown back into our seats as the shuttle went from zero to 100 mph in three seconds kept accelerating until we reached 17,500 mph.

A quote I want you to think about

Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon. 

Scene 3

It’s January 1st, 2012. The Water’s Edge becomes a church that day. Eight days earlier we celebrated the birth of a baby who changed the world. On New Year’s Day we celebrate the birth of church that will change the world of our people and the people we serve and love. January 1st is a Sunday. It is not the day we take-off. It is the day we launch. Not shooting for the sky, but for the moon. We probably won’t set an attendance record on January 1st, but then again Joseph, Mary, and Jesus didn’t have a lot of company either and they did pretty well.

Over the next two months I will describe what a launch looks like in all areas of our church. 

The first area is missions

God is leading every one of us to serve somewhere and somebody in our world, country, and / or city next year and in all subsequent years. We look most like Jesus when we are serving—especially when we are serving the marginalized. Fans of Jesus support those who serve. Fans of Jesus think serving is a good idea. Followers serve and encourage others to serve alongside them. Period. Next year we are going to serve people outside the church and The Water’s Edge is going to encourage you and resource you so that you are successful. 

We will do a few things well rather than doing a lot of things not very well. We will serve with focus and clarity. Opportunities will exist to serve the poor, the hurting, and the young—internationally, nationally, and right here in Omaha. 

The Water’s Edge will be defined by kindness and generosity. We will be known as unselfish servants. We will live out the Gospel: For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others. –Matthew 20:28 

The best is yet to come…