Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Good Day for a Nap

David and Esther enjoying the 70 degree late November weather

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dining Room Makeover

I was given the task of painting the dining room this weekend. Here are the results.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve Worship

The things WE are grateful for

David and Chase being grateful

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

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.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, Only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Loneliness is poverty

Loneliness is the first thing God identified as not being good. Many since and some more often, but none before.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” –Genesis 2:18

Loneliness is not good. It took God just over a chapter and a half to figure it out. Mother Teresa saw the emptiness and dysfunction of loneliness:

The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.

You agree: Loneliness is poverty.

A crowd is not necessarily company

Loneliness and being alone are two different things altogether. A person can be surrounded by others or sitting next to another and be totally alone. Inches of physical separation feel like miles of isolation. The cruelest form of loneliness is when it is felt in close proximity with a loved one who is no longer communicating.

Solitude is not necessarily loneliness

Loneliness and being alone are two different things altogether. A person can be in solitude and totally embrace who they are in relationship to themselves and others. Miles of physical separation cannot stop emotional intimacy. Loneliness expresses the anguish of being alone and the pain of being unloved. Solitude talks of the place and the time where and when a person becomes restored and refreshed so that they can become healthier for themselves and others.

Walls and bridges

People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. Distrust is a wall. Trust is a bridge. Selfishness is a wall. Servanthood is a bridge. The need to be right is a wall. Learning is a bridge. Being stubborn is a wall. Being compassionate is a bridge. Listening to respond is a wall. Listening to understand is a bridge. 

The deer at the water’s edge

A place exists in our heart that can only be filled with God’s love. Nothing else. A person can feel lonely in the presence of their newest friend, their oldest friend, strangers, loved ones, whoever. Finally, loneliness is more or less an awareness that something is missing in our hearts that takes more than people to fill. 

The Psalmist knew this:

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. (Psalm 42:1-2)

In the end, it is God we are longing and thirsting for. Augustine puts it best:

You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in You. 

The best is yet to come…


Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Week in Pictures

David buying a gift for his brother

Lunch with David

Sauerkraut, sausage, banana peppers, onion, and dill pickles

Getting ready for the game

Friday, November 21, 2014


I remember Thanksgiving Day of years gone by. Our crowded house was even more crowded than usual. My mom and sisters worked in the kitchen. The smell of turkey filled the house. My dad and older brother went pheasant hunting. I snacked on scraps and provided entertainment for the guests. Uncle Bud was always the first to arrive. He was a farmer. Never late to anything. Both sets of grandparents would come a little later with all sorts of food. Grandpa Pete brought a relish tray and some sort of orange slush the kids weren’t allowed to drink. Grandpa Adolf brought various smelly fish and sweet Norwegian pastries.

Around one o’clock the food started coming and it didn’t stop coming for hours. Turkey, potatoes of various varieties, oysters, hard-boiled eggs with a whipped yellow filling, lefse, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and of course pumpkin pie and apple pie.

The women always cleaned up. (Don’t blame me for that. I’m the baby in the family.) The men went to the family room and watched the Cowboys or the Lions play football. Most fell asleep. Maybe hibernate is a better word. I would go look for leftovers with great success, as there were always plenty around. The rest of the day was spent outside enjoying walks rustling through the leaves in the cool and crisp air, playing fiercely competitive board games, and exchanging ideas for Christmas gifts.

Today, Thanksgiving is usually still celebrated by a feast and with family. It is a welcomed few days off for most workers. Often Christmas decorations are put out. And then there is planning for shopping the morning after Thanksgiving—a strategic plot on how to get one member of each family to Walmart, Best Buy, and Nebraska Furniture Mart, and Old Navy before five o’clock the next morning. We have come a long way since the first Thanksgiving.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. –Thorton Wilder

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

It is easy to forget that contentment in life usually does not come by achieving or acquiring something we do not currently have, but instead by recognizing and appreciating what we have been blessed with. It is a whole lot better to embrace thanksgiving as a life-long attitude than it is to occasionally remember to feel or be thankful. The feast doesn’t have to be a day. The feast can be daily. It is God’s plan for our life that we be thankful to Him and thankful to others. Not so much for God or for others. But for us. Thanksgiving is a simple attitude adjustment that can simply change our lives.

Each day, be intentionally thankful. Write down a few things you are thankful for. From the common to the complex. Be grateful. Tell, give, and show God thank you. Tell, give, and show others thank you. Your life won’t ever quite be the same again.

The best is yet to come…


Thursday, November 20, 2014

At School With David

Sharing 20 McNuggets and some fries with David

David's gift for Benjamin

Monday, November 17, 2014

Be Rich in Good Works

Yesterday's message. I used a great quote from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism:

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.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Benjamin and Alex hanging out

Keeping score at David's basketball game

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Vision Sunday

The first church I served out of seminary was a church in a county-seat town in northwest Iowa. The people always joked around that I was either the youngest adult or the oldest kid. The best humor exhibits truth and this was true. 

During my three years there we clarified our vision. We figured out who God wanted us to become and what God wanted us to do. We started new ministries, we ended some, and we repurposed others. We all embraced our present and our future together. 

Our vision at The Water’s Edge is clear and succinct: 

To be a church who relentlessly pursues a transforming relationship with God, generously extends hope to the hurting, sacrificially serves our families, and radically invests in the next generation. 

Our mission has always been the same. I can’t imagine it changing: 

To lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and each other. 

As far as vision and mission statements go, these are wonderful. Something much more wonderful occurs when we live these out. 

Our first Easter - 2008 - Russell Middle School

Next Sunday, November 23rd, I will be talking about our present and our future. We have so much exciting stuff going on. One thing I know is that God is leading us into a deeper and more meaningful prayer life: as individuals, as families, and as a church. And one thing I know God cares about deeply is you. Your growth, your healing, your service, your generosity, and your relationships with others and God. 

Another thing I loved about the church in Iowa was that they loved to eat. Good food. Lots of food. We had these dinners called potlucks. People would bring strange salads with things like ramen noodles and cranberries and marshmallows. And for some reason they tasted wonderful. Men would bring various forms of meat. Pies and cakes were the dessert if you had room. 

We have shared many meals at The Water’s Edge. Pancake breakfasts, Blues and BBQ, Chili-Cook-offs, etc… Next Sunday, November 23rd, after the 10:30 worship experience, we will be having our first ever potluck. I’ll whip up some Norwegian food and am looking forward to trying your salads. Most importantly, I’m just excited to sit down and share a meal with my brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Next Sunday is a great day to invite people to worship and eat with us. They can get an idea about who we are, who we hope to become, and join us for lunch. One simple invitation from you can put somebody in an environment where God can do great things. That’s the dream. 

The best is yet to come… 


Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Church at The Water's Edge

A shot of Mariner's Church from Irvine, California.
This is a small part of their larger campus. 

Inside the chapel. Such a cool building.