Thursday, January 30, 2014

44 Things I’ve Learned (or at least should have learned) in 44 Years: Wit and Wisdom from Saints, Sinners, and My Journey with God

So I have a birthday coming up. Groundhog's Day every year. Super Bowl Sunday every 7th year. Here are some of the things I am learning.

44. I have learned life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

43. I have learned that each day is a gift. I should embrace it and share it.

42. I have learned the journey of the thousand miles begins with a single step. No better time to start than today.

41. I have learned that to risk is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to risk is to lose oneself.

40. I have learned that love is not an adjective; it is a verb. It is something you do and not something you necessarily feel. 

39. I have learned to learn from my mistakes (or should be at least be close to figuring this one out by now).

38. I have learned that it is the pebble in your shoe and not the mountain in front of you that will likely wear you out. It’s those little self-destructive things and not the big, huge challenge.

37. I have learned that being thankful is one of the best ways to spend my time. It is an amazing experience and opens doors to more abundance in life.

36. I have learned that a poor response to anger is destructive to everyone who is in proximity of the angry person. I’ve also learned that the person who suffers the most from anger is the one who is angry.

35. I have learned that our life always expresses our dominant thoughts. It’s kind of like this: our thoughts become our words which become our actions which become our habits which become our character which becomes our destiny.

34. I have learned that we look most like God when we give, forgive, and serve.

33. I have learned that the marriage relationship is the most important human relationship that I have.

32. I have learned that I would rather fail as a pastor than fail as a father.

31. I have learned that friends are the brothers and sisters God didn’t give us by birth. I need healthy friendships.

30. I have learned that I should accept people for being their true selves, encourage people to become their true selves, and never allow somebody to be ruined by themselves.

29. I have learned that joy is not in things; it is in us. And joy is not in the past or the future. It happens in the moment.

28. I have learned fear is a good thing. Fear means I am challenging myself and growing. I have learned the fear of fear is a terrible thing that prevents development.

27. I have learned that it is impossible for me to fully please everybody all the time so I will stop trying.

26. I have learned that the entire population of the world, with the exception of one person, consists of people other than myself.

25. I have learned that it is by grace I have been saved, through faith—and this not from myself, it is a gift of God. –Ephesians 2:8

24. I have learned that I am God’s masterpiece and need to think of myself and treat myself as such. –Ephesians 2:10

23. I have learned that big dreams can lead to a big life. Small dreams will not lead to a big life.

22. I have learned that sometimes it’s not ready, aim, fire. Sometimes it’s ready, fire, aim! We miss all the shots we never take.

21. I have learned that the world is made up of imperfect people and, therefore, any relationship I am going to be in will also be imperfect. It can be blessed and growing, but never perfect.

20. I have learned that I am imperfect and if I expect perfection from myself I will be disappointed a lot.

19. I have learned that sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden; sin is forbidden because it is hurtful.

In my younger years

18. I have learned that the will to win means nothing without the will to prepare. 

17. I have learned that sometimes life is hard, but our response makes a difference. Pain in life is inevitable; suffering is optional.

16. I have learned that I can’t go back and start a new beginning, but I can start today and make a new ending. “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” –Philippians 3:13

15. I have learned vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is a nightmare.

14. I have learned it’s OK to say “no” to good things so I can say “yes” to the best things.

13. I have learned that we can’t change other people. We can only change our reaction to those people.

12. I have learned that one of the most productive uses of my time is investing in future generations.

11. I have learned that my attitude in life determines life’s attitude toward me.

10. I have learned that forgiveness is the key to contentment. Forgiving and living is better than remembering and resenting.

9. I have learned not to forget to love myself.

8. I have learned that forty-four years from now I will be more disappointed by the things that I didn't do more than by the things I did do. I will dare, discover, and dream. -Mark Twain

7. I have learned that I am closest to God and my life makes most sense when I read the Bible daily. I bear fruit when I am connected to the vine.

6. I have learned it’s best to do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. –John Wesley

5. I have learned rest isn’t a waste of time—rather it is essential and good. A life without rest is like driving a car without gas.

4. I have learned that the function of prayer is not necessarily to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. God is fine directing the world without my advice.

3. I have learned that God’s grace is sufficient for me. Forgiveness from the past, power in the present, and hope for the future. More than enough.

2. I have learned that God makes saints out of sinners. God has always been and will always be in the business of changing lives. Few things in life are as beautiful as a changed life.

1. I have learned that God accepts me and loves me not because of what I’ve done or what I do, but because of His perfect.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


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.

Today we start a new series: Undaunted. Moving toward more balance in life is a very daunting task for many of us. We won’t get there or even start heading there with more judgment or law. We call things like this willpower or force. It will happen because of God’s mercy and love. We call things like this harmony and rhythm.

Balance is God’s idea. It’s not daunting task. It’s grace: learning from inexperience, adapting to outside forces, and forgiveness from mistakes.

Balance allows possibilities to become realities. Balance allows us to learn from the shortcomings of our past while simultaneously putting the past behind us. And balance resurrects us from who we are to who God wants us to be.

If you don’t have a word yet for 2014, balance may be the word for you:


I will move toward balance in 2014.
            More balanced because of a growing relationship with God.
            More balanced because of life-giving relationships with others.
            More balanced by saying “no” to unimportant things.
            More balanced by saying “yes” to essential things.
            More balanced by resting and taking care of myself.
            More balanced by embracing and giving forgiveness and grace.
            More balanced by practicing thankfulness.
            More balanced by defining and living out my priorities and dreams.

Balance can be daunting, but as you can see it can also be one heck of a word.

The best is yet to come…


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Character and Leadership

I'm in Orange County this week at a leadership seminar led by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I have been sensing that as The Water's Edge grows my leadership needs to grow as well. I sometimes feel I'm in over my head and I want what is best for the church, the community, and my family. I thought I would share with you some of the things I have been learning. This stuff is relevant for pastors, coaches, parents, teachers, business, non-profits, and education. About 40 of us are participating and are from all walks of life.

Their first session yesterday was on Character and Leadership.

An early morning run through Orange County

Three ingredients of success

1. Competence

Competence is a collection of a person skills, training, and intelligence.

2. Alliances

Success doesn’t happen in isolation, but in community when alliances are built with other competent people.

3. Character

Their understanding of character is not honesty which is avoiding things like lying, stealing, and cheating (although they are not advocates of such things). Rather, character is dealing with interpersonal issues that are holding us back.

Many competent, deal-makers exist.

Character is the ability to meet the demands of reality.

Six Components of Character

1. Connecting People

Great leaders create organizations full of connected people. People in these organizations know others in the organization care about them.

Connection between the leader and the people in the organization doesn’t happen when the leader understands the people. Connection between the leader and the people in the organization happens when the people understand that the leader understands them.

2. Orienting Yourself Toward Reality

Great leaders ask the right questions and search hard for answers to identify the organization’s current reality.

Examples of questions are:

What is our current reality?
What are our blind spots?
What are our biggest internal and external challenges and opportunities?

A great leader is always asking another question:

What don’t I know about my organization that I need to learn about my organization?

Great leaders make a pledge to love every idea for at least 60 seconds.

3. Moving Vision into Reality

The best leaders are good losers willing to give necessary endings to attachments and lesser things. This is about stewardship of resources and energy as well as focus.

The worst leadership trait is hope once you and most everybody else knows you are going down the wrong.

Great leaders focus on high potential areas of an organization.

4. Dealing with Problems

Great leaders move toward responding to negative realities.
Poor leaders move away from responding to negative realities.

Great leaders get rid of cracks in their make-up that prevents them from dealing with problems.

Problems / challenges are going to happen. How they are dealt with is critical to the health of an organization.

5. Growing

Great leaders should have moments everyday when they are scared.

Fear isn’t bad. Fear is necessary for growth.
Fear of fear is bad.

Fear leads to two responses:

1. The healthy response is that fear is motivating and pushes the leader and organization forward.
2. The unhealthy response is that fear puts the brakes on and stops the creation of a preferred future.

A healthy response to fear is:

1. Feel it – own it
2. Ignore the fear
3. Move forward

The above graph is profound. If our challenges far exceed our abilities we will be overwhelmed. If our abilities are greater than our challenges we will feel bored. We are in the zone when our abilities and our challenges are about the same. As our abilities grow our challenges can grow as well. Or as our challenges grow, our ability needs to grow.

6. Transcending

Great leaders know that their organizations are bigger than them.

A great leader doesn’t ask: What is best for me today?
A great leader asks: What is best for the common-good in the future?

Great leaders are rooted in faith, employees, volunteers, customers, mission, etc…

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Undaunted. I think it would be a good word for 2014. Undaunted means not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment. 

Life can be very daunting:

  • Having more responsibilities than resources 
  • Becoming or staying physically healthy 
  • Practicing or embracing forgiveness 
  • More completely following Jesus 
  • Pursuing unfulfilled dreams 
  • Living out your priorities 
  • Overcoming fear 

Life can seem overwhelming. The world is more than happy to send us messages we are unwanted and unqualified. But God has created us to be overcomers. To be undaunted.

In February we will be looking at what it means to live as undaunted. To overcome trials, wrong turns, and painful occurrences and to grow from those experiences to be equipped and empowered to serve God and serve others.

We will discover that each of us possesses all it takes to bring hope, create change, and live completely for Christ. We will be challenged to let the light and hope of Christ shine through us into the dark places of the world.

I think it would be cool if somebody chose this word for 2014:


  • I will be undaunted as I love and serve my family
  • I will be undaunted by past hurts and brokenness
  • I will be undaunted by challenges and temptations
  • I will be undaunted as I seek to follow Jesus more closely
  • I will be undaunted by my yesterday’s failures and mistakes
  • I will be undaunted by the size the task God is putting in front of me.
  • Because of God’s grace, God’s love, and God’s power I will be undaunted.

This is my command—be undaunted! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For God is always with you wherever you go. –Joshua 1:9

I’m looking forward to February as we learn and experience in worship, in our small groups, and online what it means to live as undaunted.

The best is yet to come…


Friday, January 17, 2014


We live in a complex world. Schedules. Bills. Homework. Work. Healthcare. Health. Dreams. Dysfunction. Sports. Fatigue. Stress. To-do lists. Don't do lists. Managing an image. It can be a bit much at times. 

We behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God. -2 Corinthians 1:12

We live in a grey world. A world where caution comes before commitment. Where ambiguity supersedes clarity. Where busyness numbs focus and centering. All further add to the complexity of the world. And Jesus offers words of simplicity:

Just say a simple, "Yes, I will," or "No, I won’t." -Matthew 5:37

Jesus is pretty much saying keep things simple. Know who you want to become and who God wants you to become. Have a few priorities and let them define you. Don't let others define what your life is going to be about. You only get one chance at this. Embrace your dreams. Embrace the people around you. They aren't perfect, but you aren't either. Give grace and your chances of receiving some are a whole lot better. Just say yes to the things and people you need to say yes to and no to everything else. 

Two of my emails this week. Both made me smile and think. Two great words for an even better concept: simplicity. 

My one word for 2014 is "yes"

I want to continually say "yes" to God
I want to speak the word "yes" to my husband
I want to show my children "yes" each and every day
I want to say "yes" to love, hope, forgiveness, and grace. 

My one word for 2014 is "no"

I will say "no" to unimportant things.
"No" to things the distance me from God. 
I will live a year of no regrets. 
I will have no fear when opportunities come.
I will say "no" to unimportant things so I can say "yes" to the most important things
     God and my church
     My wife and children
     My friends and my dreams

I pray for all of us in 2014 that WE embrace simplicity in a complex world. I pray our "yeses" and "nos" are well thought out. And I pray our "yes" is "yes" and our "no" is "no" as we simplify, focus, and prioritize our lives. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Patience is powerful stuff. It is not the nonexistence of voice or action. It has much more to do with timing. Patience considers the difference between right and wrong; bad and worse; good and better. It sometimes has to wait for the right time, or at least a better time, to speak or to act. And when patience either says something or does something—it does so at an appropriate moment with correct principles and, of course, grace. It’s no wonder when Paul describes love—the first word he uses is patience.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Selecting Your One Word

Last week we started a new series, My One Word. Goals and resolutions overwhelm us. When we don’t keep them we feel like a failure and become more overwhelmed. Words are powerful. You already know the power of a single word. Thanks. Failure. Yes. No. Love. Hate. Recovery. Sin. Grace. Brick by brick words construct. Like an explosion words can destruct. Great power exists in words.

Last week I talked about choosing your word. Hundreds of you have done so already. You have picked some great words. Balance. Gratitude. Strength. Patience. Hope. Less. Near. Now. Pause. Reflect. Forgiven. Give. And so many others. For some it was easy. Others had to work hard. Some are still working and that is good. You will live with this word for a while. Make it meaningful.

My word is abide.

My heart will abide and dwell in God’s love

My mind will abide and remain in God’s Word

I will seek to always abide and be present with God

If you missed last week—this will be new to you. I encourage you to watch last week’s message online, download it and listen to it on your phone, or pick up a CD on Sundays and listen in your car. Below is the resource we used to guide us in selecting our word.

Selecting My One Word

1. What type of person do you want to become? This is one of life’s most important questions and lets you be intentional and proactive in developing a vision for your life. Write down some words.

2. What type of person do you believe God wants you to become? And what are some things God wants you to believe? Another of life’s most important questions. Write down some more words.

3. Consider some of these words: Faith. Bold. Forgive. Forgiven. Integrity. Simplify. Release. Hope. Courage. Discipline. Generosity. Influence. Pray. Purpose. Peace. Blessed. Joy. Grace. Positive. Obedient. Patient. Grateful. Acceptance. Listen. Be. Surrender. Abide. Love. Health. Balance. Focus. Rest. Trust. Present. Depend. Your word doesn’t have to come from this list, but they are some words to get you thinking. Add to #1 and #2 as you feel led.

4. Circle the words that appear in both #1 and #2. Although your word doesn’t have to be one of the words that is circled – if you want to become something and God wants you to become something – the circled words are excellent candidates to become your one word.

5. Describe the characteristics of the kind of person you want to become or the kind of person God wants you to become. Write these words down. More possibilities and more focus.

6. Narrow your list to two to five words. The opposite of vision is not blindness, but being scattered. Focus is essential to getting things done. Spiritual formation requires concentration. Elimination has to come before concentration. You will need to say “no” to some pretty good words.

7. Pray about your focus and word for 2014. Ask for guidance and direction.

8. Choose your one word. For some it will come very easily. For others this will take some work. If one word doesn’t emerge in a day or in a few days. Take a week or a few weeks. We still have lots of living to do in 2014.

This week I’ll begin to talk about how to use our words for character formation and spiritual development.

The best is yet to come…


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My One Word - Sermon and Resources

Here is Sunday's sermon. Below the video is resource to help you determine your word for 2014.

Selecting My One Word 

Respond to the following questions or statements 

1. Write down a number of words that identify the type of person you want to become this year. 

2. Write down some words that identify who you believe God wants you to become or something God wants you to believe. 

3. Read some of the words on the other side of this page. Add to #1 and #2 as you feel led. (see list below)

4. Circle the words that appear in both #1 and #2. 

5. Describe the characteristics of the kind of person you want to become or the kind of person God wants you to become. 

6. Narrow your list to three to five words. 

7. Pray about your focus and word for 2014. Ask for guidance and direction. 

8. Choose your one word.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My One Word

My One Word starts Sunday. Resolutions don’t always work and when they don’t work we feel like a failure. My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for change. When we choose a single word we will have clarity and focus. We will move toward the future rather than swearing off our past. 

I’m excited to take this journey of growth with you on Sundays and I’m excited for our small groups to share in this process of transformation together.

Below are some men and women from our church who have already selected their one word. I know you will be just as inspired to read them as I was.

Shellie Gomes 

My one word for 2014 is PATIENCE 

Patience in God's timing (faith) 
Patience with myself 
Patience with my husband, children, family, and friends 
Patience with strangers

Slow down and demonstrate patience.

Imagine the world if everyone was just a bit more patient. 

Chad Schuchmann 

My One Word for 2014 is FOCUS 

I need to avoid distractions from the things that matter: 

Focus on being fully present with family and friends 
Focus on being more engaged when at work and study 
Focus on being consistent in time spent in my relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Jeff Neuhaus 

My one word for 2014 is TRUST 

Trust God when things are easy. Trust God when things are rough. Trust God's plan over my own. 

Instead of taking life into my own hands, I want to trust God more and know that His ways are better than my ways. 

Dionne Mason 

My one word is LOVE 

Love God 
Love Myself 
Love My Husband 
Love My Children 
Love My Family 
Love My Friends / Neighbors / Enemies 

Love unconditionally and expressively and strengthen those relationships further through the love of all people and all that is good. 

Jason Combs 

My one word for 2014 is COMMIT 

Commit to God 
Commit to life 
Commit to growth 
Commit to learn 
Commit to serve 
Commit to experience 

Mike Vaughn 

My one word for 2014 is PEACE 

To find a deeper peace in my heart that is anchored by an even stronger relationship with God. 

Doug Giffin

My one word for 2014 is BELIEVE 

Believe in God. 

Believe in myself, ‘cause God doesn’t make junk. 

Believe that I am God’s idea, that He has a plan and a purpose for me. 
I don’t have to understand it, only seek it; and Him. 

Believe that I am approved by God and that’s all that really matters because whose approval is more important anyway? 

Believe that whatever He asks of me, whichever direction I am nudged or pushed or prodded toward He has equipped me long before I ever started down that path. 

Believe that whatever load I am asked to carry, I can do it because He made me that way. He made me able. 

And finally, believe that whatever I have done or will do; I am forgiven.

It’s really not complicated, I will simply believe.

Erin Sieh 

My one word for 2014 is PURPOSE

Approach every day with purpose.

Approach everything I do with purpose.

If I don't have a purpose in doing something maybe it's not worth doing.

Simplify things on my to-do list by keeping the ones that have a purpose and aren't just cluttering up my life. Look at my busy calendar and ask "what will I gain this week from my busy schedule?" Find my purpose for the day or week and do something great with it.