Monday, January 30, 2012

Balance, Part 3: Sermon + Notes

Nine questions to determine if you are out of balance

Are you frequently getting angry with others? Or, are you becoming impatient with others. Especially those you love? 

Do you have trouble sleeping because thoughts are racing through your head?

Are you always trying to prove your worth to others? Are you always trying to please others? 

Do you focus too much energy and spend too much time trying to get things to be just perfect? 

Would you describe yourself as “way too busy”? 

Do you ever wake up and just wish the day was already over? 

Do you beat yourself up over past mistakes and failures? 

Do you drink or eat or take pills or shop or whatever to escape from reality? 

Do you feel unfulfilled? 

If you answered “yes” to just a few of these, then there is a pretty good chance your life is out of balance. 

Eight ways to develop more balance in life

1. If your life is out of balance it won’t get back into balance on accident.

When you fail to plan you are planning to fail 

2. Put God first 

Read Matthew 6:33

We are created to live in a relationship with God 

Do you want to be proactive and develop it now or try to develop it when you need it? 

3. Don’t conform to the patterns of the world 

Read Romans 12:2

Be a little weird. Be a little different. Don’t worry about being normal because normal isn’t working! 

4. Say “no” to mediocre things and pretty good things and good things so that you can say “yes” to the best 

Read Luke 10:38-42

5. Determine your values and vision 

6. Develop and display – Character and Integrity 

Romans 5:3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. 

Tough times will come. 
Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. 
Tough times simultaneously develop and reveal our character. 

Character – Who you are when nobody is looking 
Integrity – Who you are when you are under stress 

Our lack of character and integrity make our life out of balance.

Read Psalm 51

7. Develop and display a life of gratitude and thanksgiving 

8. Forgiveness

Read Romans 5 

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Prayer for Balance - Legible

A few of you had a tough time reading the prayer from yesterday. I have never been accused of having good handwriting and it was a full page of words. I hope you find this prayer helpful.

Hectic. Rushed. Worried. 
Stressed. Cluttered. Burdened. 
Lonely. Tired. Complex. 
It is my life but not Your plan for my life. 

By your grace, become the priority and passion of my life. 
When I lack – You sustain. 
When I am alone – You are present. 
When I am overwhelmed – You are my help. 
When I am defeated – You are my hope. 
You provide my needs. 

Faith. Family. Friends. 
Work. Wellness. Wealth. 
Sleep. School. Spending. 
I am pulled in all directions. Pull me in Your direction. 

I confess I have made choices that have caused me to lose balance. 
Forgive me when these choices have been intentional. 
I live in an imperfect world that makes balanced living difficult. 
Give me wisdom not to conform to the patterns of the world but to be transformed by the Gospel. 

I pray for organization in the details of life. 
My distractions on non-essentials are many. I pray for focus on the essential things of life. 
Help me give my time, energy, and resources to the important – not the urgent.
Help me say “no” to mediocre or even good things so I can say “yes” to the best.

Let me embrace simplicity and flexibility rather than complexity and rigidness.
Give me clear purposes in life. I want to love and be loved by You. 
Make my relationships be life-giving and joyful for me and for those I relate to.
Help me love like you and extend my hand in service to those around me. 

I am a sinner. Lead me to experience your forgiveness and to share forgiveness with others. 
I am jealous and envious. Fill me with thankfulness and gratitude. 
I have neglected my body. Help me take care of myself through exercise, nutrition, and rest. 
I have let my work become my life. Allow me to see that my value comes from You. 

I am unbalanced. It is my life but not Your plan for my life. 
I am pulled in all directions. Pull me in your direction. 
Give me harmony and peace. 
Give me grace and balance. 

In the name of Jesus I pray, 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Saying No and Saying Yes

A video of Sunday's sermon. Part 2 in a series on balance in life.

Luke 10:38-42

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Friday, January 20, 2012


I am a pastor. Some people even call me pastor. It’s kind of a strange word and a holy word. A word used only in church circles. St. Augustine came up with the job description for a pastor about 1600 years ago and it hasn’t changed much.

Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and all are to be loved.

Not a bad job description as far as job descriptions go. At least the parts of it I understand. 

I am about as blessed as a pastor can be serving The Water’s Edge. The people at The Water’s Edge share God’s dream and the responsibility of being the church with me. Plus, you all are fun to share life with. 

Two women dreamed up and implemented a girl’s night out to connect women in the church. Nearly fifty women attended the outing. I wasn’t invited, but heard it was great! 

Over sixty people are running the Lincoln Marathon or Half-Marathon to raise money for hurting and marginalized people in Omaha, the United States, and throughout the world. 

Thirty households are excited to serve as organizational, relational, and spiritual leaders for our upcoming capital campaign this spring to raise the level of discipleship and purchase land for our future home. 

These are a few examples of the many things happening at The Water’s Edge. As a pastor, nothing brings me more joy than to see people connecting and growing. And, I want you to know the growth I am most interested in is yours. As a pastor, I will do my part to create environments and to help others and give permission to others to create environments where you can grow and connect. 

I want to encourage you to place yourself in environments where you will grow and connect. New small groups will be starting this February and many existing groups will be welcoming new people. Give one a try for six weeks! Our capital campaign will also be an excellent place to connect and grow. We will all be asked to pray and serve. All of us! We will have several opportunities to connect in small gatherings at people’s homes and all together as a congregation at the school and the property. The goal of the campaign will not be to raise a bunch of money. The goal of the campaign is to connect us to God, each other, and the world. This will be a great and exciting season for us! 

I’m blessed to be the pastor at The Water’s Edge and I look forward to growing with you and connecting with you in the future. 

The best it yet to come… 


Monday, January 16, 2012

Focus and Priority

A video of yesterday's sermon. It was the first message in the three part series on balance. Jesus says to seek put God first and trust in God's provision. As we seek balance in life, the first step is making God our focus and priority.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The baby has crawled for a while and even knows how to stand. She takes her first steps and plops to the ground. She lost her balance. The running back is heading to the goal line when he is blindsided by a linebacker charging at full speed. He hits the turf hard. He lost his balance. The bartender calls a cab. The middle-aged man stumbles between the door of the bar and the door of the car. He lost his balance.

People lose their balance all the time. Inexperience like the baby. Outside forces like the running back. Poor choices like the guy at the bar. 

Balance is something some of us struggle with all of the time and all of us struggle with some of the time. 

  • We don’t have enough money at the end of the month to pay our bills. We keep going a little further into debt. 
  • We don’t have enough time during the week to spend time with the people we want to see or to do the things we want to do. 
  • Stress from various areas of life prevents us from enjoying life and sleeping. It is taking a toll on our physical health. 
  • We carry heavy burdens from the past that fill our present lives with regret and guilt. 
  • We are constantly connected to technology and disconnected from life. 
  • We are unable to say “no” to less important things and people so that we can say “yes” to more important things and people. 
  • We go through the motions of the day on life’s terms and put our priorities and dreams on hold. 

We live lives full of anxiety, clutter, and demands. God’s plan is that our lives are full of purpose, focus, and grace. A disconnect occurs between who we are and who we are created to be. 

Last week, as we launched The Water’s Edge into a new season of ministry, we looked at the stones of possibility, forgiveness, and resurrection. During the next three weeks we are going to look at attaining balance in life. Balance that will allow our possibilities to be realities. Balance that will allow us to learn from the shortcomings of our past while simultaneously putting the past behind us. And balance that will resurrect us from who we are to who God wants us to be. 

I pray at the end of these three weeks, we are all traveling toward lives of connectedness to God and others and that we deepen our experience of purpose, focus, and grace. 

The best is yet to come… 


Monday, January 9, 2012

Launch Sunday - Video

An edited video of the 10:30 worship experience at The Water's Edge. It was our first Sunday as our own church! We recognized our early pioneers, received a blessing from our Bishop and District Superintendent, and experienced God's hope, forgiveness, and resurrection. Over 750 people of all ages were there to celebrate!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Launch Sunday

I remember the evening. Amber and I drove to the family’s house. We were the first people to arrive, which is rare for us. We chatted for a few moments with the host family. We then went to the basement. She organized the snacks and desserts. I arranged the chairs. I invited dozens of people to come to that first small group meeting. Most didn’t. Sixteen people did. I led a few corny games to help everybody get to know each other. We had a Bible study, took a break, ate the food Amber recently organized, and got to know each other a little more. We concluded the evening with a discussion and prayer. Everybody came back the next week and eventually started bringing their friends.

A month or two later, The Water’s Edge leadership team started. This team contained a few people from the small group, a few people from Faith-Westwood, and a few people from the community. This group worked so hard and gave so much for The Water’s Edge to become a reality. We started off with no name, a dream, a few resources, and God’s power. We took a retreat to a monastery, handed out thousands of bottles of water at a parade, walked around neighborhoods and prayed, invited friends, collected food for hungry people, created ministry teams, and strategized for the future. 

Less than a year later, The Water’s Edge launched our first worship service at Russell Middle School. It rained hard that morning. About 200 people worshipped with us. We were so excited. The next week it was clear and sunny. Less than 100 people came back. AJ was a one-man band. We had plenty of leftover donuts. Humble beginnings. 

Since then we have worshipped in two other schools. Most of my pastor friends don’t believe me when I tell them we worshipped in a Catholic High School. We have fed thousands of people, baptized hundreds of people, started dozens of small groups and ministry teams, run marathons and half marathons together, and taken mission trips to places like Omaha and Joplin and Belize.

A few weeks ago on Christmas Eve we had over 1,000 people worship at The Water’s Edge. We sang familiar songs, prayed together, listened to God’s Word, shared communion, and lit glow sticks – promising each other and promising God we will be light to the world.

This morning is a new day that I will be writing about five or ten years from now. Our first day as our own church. I’m so grateful for the people at Faith-Westwood. Their support and vision has made The Water’s Edge possible. I’m more excited today about the future than I was five years ago and I was pretty excited back then. I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring. More than anything, I hope The Water’s Edge helps you grow, serve, heal, relate better, give, forgive, laugh, love, cry, care, develop, make friends, and connect more closely with God. I’m glad we are on this journey together. 

The best is yet to come… 


Sunday, January 1, 2012

12 Ways to Have a Miserable 2012 - With Bible Verses

1. Don’t plan. Just roll with the punches. Be reactive and not proactive. Don’t make a list of things you want to get done, places you want to go, people you want to connect with, and goals you want to accomplish. Just remember, when you fail to plan then you are planning to fail. 

Proverbs 29:18 

Where there is no vision the people will perish.

2. Do as much as you can by yourself. Don’t enlist the help of others. Don’t seek the advice of others. Misery loves company, but it most likely happens alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. 

3. Neglect your most important relationships. Seek intimacy in inappropriate ways. Don’t trust others. Be afraid of being hurt. Gossip about others to feel good about yourself. Talk more and listen less. Demand your own way. Nitpick. Demand others be who you want them to be rather than their true selves. Believe kindness is overrated. Don’t be patient with others. Demand perfection. Carry grudges and don’t forgive others. Make others pay for their mistakes. 

Ruth 1:16-17 

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 

4. Stay busy. Don’t schedule downtime. Stay plugged into technology at all times. Be connected a little bit to everything and everybody so that you aren’t really connected to anything or anybody. Say “yes” to so many average things so that you don’t have the time or energy to say “yes” to the best things. 

Exodus 34:21 

You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working, even during the seasons of plowing and harvest.

5. Don’t deal with your past. Carry all burdens of your past mistakes. Realize it’s not likely you are going to change. Don’t forgive yourself. Let your history define your future. 

Philippians 3:13 

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. 

6. Don’t take any risks. Be afraid of falling. Be afraid of failing. Play it safe. Don’t explore. Don’t chase dreams. Don’t be vulnerable or authentic with others: the chance of being hurt a little bit far outweighs the benefit of loving someone and being loved by someone. 

Exodus 12:1-2 

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 

7. Quit when times get tough. Throw in the towel the first time you take a punch to the stomach. Raise the white flag when the battle is not going your way. Accept the easy life and don’t strive for the good life. 

Philippians 3:14 

I press on to reach the end of the race. 

8. Place a lot of stock in what other people think about you. Try to impress others. Base your self-worth on what you think others perceive about you. 

1 Peter 3:3-4 

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 

9. Don’t give anything to anybody. Hoard your holdings. Stockpile your savings. You have earned what you have. Keep it. Be stingy with your time and energy too. Believe you can get far greater blessings in life doing what you want to do rather than helping a child or a hurting person. 

2 Corinthians 9:6 

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 

10. Don’t worry about your character and integrity. Let things slide. Take a few shortcuts if it’s what you need to do. Cover up your shortcomings with image management. Do the easy thing and not the right thing. Don’t care who you are when nobody is looking.

Proverbs 21:3

The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.

11. Let yourself go physically. Eat whatever. Stop exercising. Get stressed out. Don’t sleep much. 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 

12. Don’t focus too much on your relationship with God. You will have plenty of time to do that in the future. 

Matthew 22:34-38 

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 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.