Thursday, July 26, 2012

Eight Days

We are starting a two week sermon series this Sunday - Eight Days. I invite you to join us -- either at The Water's Edge or online as we intentionally grow closer to God together. The sermon videos, prayers, daily devotional guide, and communion devotions will be posted online in case you have to miss worship or if you don't live in the area. Visit our website Sunday to join us on this journey.

During the next eight days we will embark on a journey toward healing and wholeness. We will develop a greater understanding of ourselves. We will experience God. And we will begin to dream about the possibilities of what can happen when our passions intersect with God’s power.

Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, understood anxiety, despair, and boredom to be humanity’s three major problems. Four thousand miles to the west and two hundred years later, not much has changed. We worry about things we have little, if any, control of. Sometimes things seem so hopeless we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. And, we are uninterested in things we have a suspicion we need the most. 

Jesus talks about anxiety, despair, and boredom: 

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. –Matthew 6:34 

Anything is possible if a person believes. –Mark 9:23 

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. –John 10:10 

God wants to partner with us in overcoming obstacles. He desires to heal our hurts. His dream is that we prevail over our past. He gives us each other and the Church. He blesses us with His presence found in the Holy Spirit. And, He equips us with three gifts that combat and will ultimately conquer anxiety, despair, and boredom: 

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:13 

If an unhealthy amount of anxiety is present in your life, if areas of your life seem hopeless, and if life often just seems like you are going through the motions—then the next eight days are for you. Two messages will examine our problems and God’s resources. Prayers will connect us to God: both sharing with God and listening to God. Daily devotions will challenge us and get us thinking about life after these eight days. 

In Acts 9, Saul, a man filled with anxiety, despair, and boredom, has an encounter with God. He spent three days fasting and praying. At the end of his intentional time with God, he began living out the blessed gifts of faith, hope, and love. And the world hasn’t quite been the same ever since. My prayer is after our eight days together, your world will different as well. I look forward to spending the next eight days with you. 

The best is yet to come… 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lessons from Life

Playing board games is one of our favorite things to do during vacation. Chess is a favorite. So is Monopoly. Benjamin and I broke out the game of Life yesterday. It had been awhile since I had played the game. After he beat me pretty good, I thought about all the lessons from the game of Life.

1. Rules can change without notice

The new game has different rules than the game I grew up with. The Life Tiles were new. And so was the way a career is determined. I liked the old rules better. But my affinity to tradition didn’t matter. The choice is between adaptability or irrelevance. You know the better option and so do I. 

2. Learning opens doors. 

Learning doesn’t guarantee success in life, but it does open doors. Some careers are available only to those who commit to learning. Personally, interpersonally, or professionally—some habits, achievements, lifestyles, and innovations are available only to those who are willing to learn. 

3. Decisions we make have consequences, but grace exists and so do second chances. 

Decisions made early in life have a direct correlation to what happens later in life. Decisions made later in life have a direct correlation to what happens later in life. We are products of our past. But, in the game of Life and in life, mid-course corrections are possible and they happen. We don’t have to be defined by our past. We can redefine our future. 

4. Choose long-term satisfaction over instant gratification. 

We live in a culture of instant gratification. A better plan is satisfaction over the long haul. Be an investor and not a consumer. Invest in others. Invest in yourself. Invest in God’s Kingdom. Or as Jesus says: Build your house upon the rock.

My office as I wrote this column

5. Enjoy the companions on the journey. 

The best part of playing Life was my opponent. I got to look at his blue eyes and his partially sun-burned, freckled face as he asked me about mortgages and cosmetic surgery. We laughed. We shared. We talked. It wouldn’t be much fun playing Life by yourself. 

6. Bad things happen. 

Flat tires, tornados, and car accidents all happen. So do illnesses, failed relationships, and financial troubles. Jesus tells us such is the case. He also promises he will always be with us. I’ll put up with #1 if I get #2. 

7. Being the first one finished isn't always a good thing. 

David was kind of playing too. He wasn’t making decisions or required to do what was on the spaces he landed on. But he had a car, he got to spin, and he was in it to win it. And he won. He was the first one to finish. And when he was done he wanted to play more. As a six year old he discovered an important rule of life: Sometimes in life we go so fast that we miss out on life. 

The best is yet to come…