Thursday, June 28, 2012

Looking Forward. Looking Back.

Looking Forward 

Vacation Bible School – It’s always one of the best weeks of the year. Hundreds of children and volunteers will gather from July 15th to July 19th at Faith-Westwood to learn and experience that everything is possible with God. Visit the VBS table on Sunday mornings to sign-up your kids or learn about different ways you can serve. You can also visit and register your children electronically. 

WE Serve – Mark the date: Sunday morning, August 12th. We will redefine worship. 

Buildout – Construction has started on the build-out of our property near 180th and Center. Visit the table this morning or next week to learn about ways you can serve and participate in this project. 

Land – We will be going through a congregational process to evaluate the Harrison Street property this August and September. We will have in-home meetings, a congregational meeting after worship, and a congregational meeting at the ministry center. These forums will allow the Leadership Team and Land and Building Team to share where we are so far in the process and to listen to ideas, thoughts, and questions of the people of The Water’s Edge. The vote on purchasing the property is tentatively scheduled for mid-September and the Capital Campaign to resource the purchase of the property will happen from mid-October to mid-November. 

40 Days in the Word – As a pastor the most common question I get is something like this: “How do I read the Bible and apply it to my life?” I also experienced and observed that big things happen in small groups. Starting September 9th, we will learn how to read the Bible and apply it to our lives on Sunday mornings and in our small groups. New groups will start. I want to encourage you to pray about participating in a small group for six weeks this fall. 

Looking Back 

2012 is half over. Here is where we currently stand with participation and income. 

Year          Adults                            Kids          

2011          420                               101

2012          483     15% increase       116     15% increase

If you include the facilities person from Millard West, we average exactly 600 people on Sunday mornings so far this year. 

As the people of The Water’s Edge, you continue to model generosity. We have given $249,000 so far this year to support our mission and ministry. This is an increase of 16% over last year. Our capital giving for the purchase of land and the ministry center now exceeds $162,000. As a congregation our total increase in giving is 53%! 

Your vision, commitment, and generosity inspire me. 

The best is yet to come… 


Friday, June 22, 2012


The runner is on second base. The batter bunts knowing he will be thrown out at first base. The runner advances to third. The sacrifice bunt works perfectly. The next batter swings hard knowing the outfielder will catch the ball. The runner scores. The sacrifice fly works perfectly as well. The team scores a run and takes the lead.

Sacrifice is forfeiting something highly valued for the sake of something or someone having a greater value or claim. Swiss writer, Henri Frederic Amiel, noted over a century ago: Sacrifice still exists everywhere, and everywhere the elect of each generation suffers for the salvation of the rest. He is right, of course. Pretty much anything of any value in life requires a sacrifice of one sort or another. Soldiers know this. Our freedom isn’t free for them. 

Last week was our Miracle Sunday to fund our new Ministry Center at 180th and Center Streets. Our goal was $75,000. To date we have received over $127,000. Many at The Water’s Edge made a sacrifice: forfeiting something of value (money) for something of greater value (the Gospel). I can think of dozens of times in the last five years I have been blessed beyond belief to serve as pastor at The Water’s Edge. One of those times is this week as I am inspired by your vision, generosity, and sacrifice. 

The next few months are going to be great. Older students and adults will sacrifice some free time in a few weeks for our children at Vacation Bible School. Dozens of students will sacrifice a week of their summer vacation (and many adults will sacrifice a week of vacation) to serve God and people in St. Louis, Missouri and Savannah, Georgia. Men and women will sacrifice some evenings and weekends to finish our Ministry Center. We will sacrifice a Sunday morning worship experience so that we can serve and love our community. Small group leaders will sacrifice some time and energy to be trained and equipped to lead as we re-launch small groups in a couple months with our 40 Days in the Word Campaign. 

A man came to live among humanity two thousand years ago. He knew a thing or two about sacrifice. In the grand scheme of things he valued our lives more than his life. He suffered, he was crucified, he died, and he was buried so that we may have a life of abundance in this world and an eternal life forever. “No greater love exists than to sacrifice one’s life for one’s friends.” –John 15:13 

He sacrificed his ego for our esteem; his comfort for our contentment; and his life so that we may experience God’s love. And given the opportunity—He’d do it again in a heartbeat. So many of you remind me of Him! 

The best is yet to come… 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thoughts on Father's Day

Father. That’s what Jesus called God. Not God, Lord, Almighty, Holy One, Creator, Sustainer, or Redeemer. Father. 

Today is Father’s Day. I like Father’s Day. I get a few gifts. I get my picture taken with two boys. Some pretty cute pictures have been taken over the years. We’ll most likely eat ribs for lunch. The boys, Amber, and I will finish off the day by going to the College World Series night game.

It’s not a good day for everyone. The teenager’s father died when she was a little girl. Or the father who lost his daughter when she was a little girl. He has memories. He also has broken dreams. Or the son whose father was mean to him. They haven’t spoken for years. Or the man who always wanted to be a father and for one reason or another things just haven’t worked out. Or the father who failed his children. His children were once named Jennifer and Sam. His new children are Regret and Guilt. 

A few A’s on a report card. A new school record in the mile. A manicured front lawn. When the Norwegian man looked at me with approval—there was nothing quite like it. Not giving my best effort. Coming home late. Not keeping a promise. When the same man looked at me with disapproval—there was nothing quite like that either. 

Jesus tells a story about a man with two sons. The older son stuck around the farm and tried to earn something that could only be given: the love of the father. The younger son was an opportunist. He cashed in his inheritance early, travelled around the country, and threw a big party for a few years. The first time the ATM was declined, he knew his mistake was loving the father’s stuff more than loving the father himself. 

The father in this story is no ordinary father. He is God. The one Jesus called Father. He waited outside on the deck each night, looking into the sunset, praying and hoping the younger son would return home. He saw a silhouette in the distance. His heart began to race. He ran and embraced a sinner who happened to be his son. Grace. The older son complained. The Father offered words of compassion, assurance, and power to the older son. That is grace as well. 

A little bit of the older son and a little bit of the younger son exists in each of us. No matter how good or how bad we have been—the Father loves us. We can’t earn His love nor can we lose it. 

The two boys argue over which show to watch or who won the game. They disagree about who is right. They compete for attention from their father. They help each other out. They play together at the swimming pool. At the end of the day they cuddle up in bed and read books together. I love being a father. At our absolute best, earthly fathers give us a glimpse and an illustration of the love of our heavenly Father. And as far as glimpses and illustrations go—it is a pretty darn good one. 

Happy Father’s Day…


Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I wasn’t sleepy. Amber, Benjamin, and David were. It was a busy Monday and I didn’t have an opportunity to run during the day. So at ten o’clock I laced up my road shoes and went for a run.

Francis of Assisi wrote: “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” The sun had set, but a brilliant full moon took care of the darkness. The moon doesn’t shine. It reflects the light of the sun. The darkness didn’t stand a chance. 

As I ran up the 173rd Street hill to start the run, I looked at the houses. Most of the people had the same idea as my family—sleep. A few lights were still on, but they were the dim type of lights. I know some of the neighbors. Others I don’t yet and maybe never will. But I do know the world we all live in. And this world can be pretty dark sometimes. But light—no matter how feeble, frail, or faint—always wins. It’s no wonder the Son tells us to reflect His light to the world.

I make it to the top of the hill. Four minutes into the run, I’m already sweating. The night is as warm and damp as it is quiet. I’m not alone. Somebody is near. I can’t see them nor can I hear them. I can only smell the smoke from their cigarette. It travels through the nighttime air much more efficiently than I made it up the hill. Chances are I don’t know the other person. Maybe I have seen them at the pool. Or maybe they go to The Water’s Edge. The other person and I seek our solitude and sanity in different ways. I hope they got to see the moon.

No music tonight. It wasn’t that kind of run. I prayed. I stopped and took a few pictures of the moon. I stopped for water. Up another big hill. I start breathing heavily and realize this hill is pretty insignificant. A mom is fighting cancer. A soldier is thousands of miles away from his family in a foreign land. A person is trying to quit smoking and just can’t quite do it. More prayer: For the church, for the people at my house sleeping, for the person walking their dog down the hill. And then I thought about a book I was reading last night from Augustine of Hippo and the phrases that couldn’t escape me: 

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him” and “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” Not bad for 1,600 years ago. 

An hour later I am a sweaty mess. I take the garden hose and cool-down my overheated body. I dry-off, go kiss the people and the dog who are sleeping, and am thankful that even though I wasn’t really tired, this sinner with a future found my rest in Him. 

The best is yet to come…