Sunday, September 27, 2015


This one was taken from my deck as the eclipse was starting.
I used a 100x and a tripod. I edited with just a bit of contrast
and some saturation.

This one was taken during the full eclipse from the church property.
I was at 100x. Very frustrated I couldn't get the detail I got on the
above photo. I edited it to make it a little brighter and a little more red.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Invest Invite Bring

Jesus spent much of his life doing three things: investing in people, inviting them to follow him, and bringing them to environments where they can grow and develop.

Investing in people begins with a heart for people. Jesus loved all and had great compassion. We have to care or the “invest and invite” strategy doesn’t work. As we seek God’s heart and mind, it becomes more natural and easier to focus our lives on others and connect with them so that they know we care. Investing is simply building meaningful relationships with people who naturally fall within our circles—neighbors, co-workers, classmates, friends, etc... A disciple does the same thing Jesus did: Invest ourselves in others by giving our time, energy, compassion, and love. Let me encourage you—just be a friend with no strings attached. Be like Jesus: invest time and energy befriending hurting people, people going through transitions, and people not active in a church. Know these friendships are not an accident. Who are you investing in? 

Friendships open doors to invite people to serve, connect, grow, or worship with you. Make an invitation after you have earned the right to be heard and when inviting is the loving thing to do. “No” or “not yet” will be common responses to an invitation. “Yes” will be a common response as well. Either way, continue being their friend and praying for them! You are most likely their most common connection to God!

Don’t just invite. Bring. Make it is easy as possible for somebody to respond to your invitation. Show them around. Introduce them to others. Respond to any questions. Make sure they have a positive experience. Take them to lunch afterward and listen to them. 

A long time ago, a girl I had a crush on, invited me to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting. I went, but to be honest I was more interested in her than I was in Jesus. I don’t have a clue what happened to her, but I am forever grateful because her invitation changed my life! 

You can be part of somebody’s testimony.

Last week about 750 adults and children worshipped and learned and experienced God at The Water’s Edge. Although some exceptions exist, most of us are at The Water’s Edge because somebody invited us. 

The crowd that gathered around Jesus was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things. –Mark 4:1-2 

We believe the teachings of Jesus change our world and the world: So invest, invite, and bring. 

The best is yet to come… 


Thursday, September 24, 2015


A good sleep is grace. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace.
Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Sunrise over somewhere in the middle of Kansas during a thunderstorm.
I was thinking both from my observation and experiences
that storms in life pass after a while
but the sun relentlessly rises every morning and gives us a new day.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Big Things Happen in Small Groups

Today I’m talking about small groups. We are a church of small groups. Many of us belong to one. Small groups aren’t perfect because they are made of imperfect people. Conflict happens. Schedules change. But, there is nothing quite like a bunch of people getting together to talk about God and life.

Objections to Joining a Small Group

1. I have some really good friends in my Bunco group. Aren’t they enough

Friends from Bunco, the gym, and your child’s soccer team are all great. Keep those friendships. But consider the possibilities of spiritual friendships. Friendships where God is at the center. Friendships where grace is practiced. Friendships where the purpose is to grow closer to God together.

2. I’m afraid the leader will call on me and I will make a fool of myself.

You probably won’t be singled out. Most leaders don’t do that. Some people talk a lot. Some don’t say much at all. Everyone gets to listen and learn.

3. I don’t know the Bible very well.

This is not an excuse not to join a small group. It is a reason to join a small group. You won’t be asked to find a certain book of the Bible and read it to the group. But you will learn about the Bible and how to apply it to you life.

4. I have kids and don’t know what to do with them.

Bring them. Most groups with families with kids have childcare. Really cool things will happen. The kids will become friends. Other parents will invest in your kids. Your kids will see an example of a bunch of people committing themselves to Christ and His Church.

5. My biggest fear in life is public speaking and if they ask me to pray aloud I would freeze up and probably require medical attention.

You won’t be asked to pray aloud. But you will be taught how to pray. And that is a good thing. A really good thing.

6. I don’t know if I have enough time.

You do. We have some crazy, busy people who make time to be in a small group. Many of us have to say “no” to things we would typically say “yes” to. Jesus never said this sort of spiritual friendship would be easy. But he does say all the effort is worth it. And them some.

7. What if the people don’t like me?

Hopefully our small groups are places of inclusion and acceptance. You probably won’t be a perfect fit with everybody in the group and that isn’t a bad thing. You will learn from other people’s perspective and experiences which is one of the best things about a small group.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Farm, A Big Party, and Our Future

This place was once a farm. The John Deere tractor plowed the rich soil in the spring. A few days later the same tractor pulled a different attachment that drilled seeds an inch into the ground. In the early days the farmer would have manually walked the field and pulled the weeds. Or at least hired a few kids to do it. In more recent years the seeds were engineered to withstand a little Roundup, so the tractor got some more work with a different attachment.

Some farmers are religious. Some aren’t. But they all pray. They have no other choice. Their hopes and dreams are as fragile as a butterfly’s wing. All their chips are on the table and they don’t know what hand they will be dealt. The right amount of rain at the right time means abundance. Too much rain, too little rain, big hail, and high winds are all disaster.

In the fall the corn and the beans were harvested. The farmer feeds the world. A twenty-three acre plot of land in eastern Nebraska can feed a lot of people for a long time.

I remember sitting across the table from some real estate professionals, an attorney, a couple of engineers, and the representatives of the bank who owned the property. They were talking about things my schooling in theology and languages didn’t train me to understand. Thankfully, I was surrounded by some of our people who understood these things and then some. A light clicked on in my head much brighter than the overhead lights in the crowded conference room. 

It is still going to be a farm. The fertile ground is now holy ground. More feeding and better feeding is going to happen than ever before. The meal won’t be corn and beans, but the bread of life and the living water. Children will be loved, developed, and mentored. Parents will be supported. People will discover purpose and passion. Friendships will be forged. Relationships will be restored. The lonely will be embraced. The addict will find recovery. The overwhelmed will get some rest. The sinner will receive forgiveness. The scoundrel and the saint and all those in between will be equipped for service. Words of grace will be spoken. Prayers will be prayed. Songs will be sung. Baptisms and weddings will happen. Communion will be served. It’s all a feast fit for a king in honor of the King.

Today we worship on our property. Twenty-three acres of holy ground set apart for God’s purposes. We are going to baptize many people. We are going to welcome dozens of guests. We are going to eat together, hear God’s Word, love our kids, pray, and connect with one another. It’s who WE are and it is what WE are going to do. 

Your faithfulness and God’s abundance have provided this property. This fall WE will take a huge step forward in developing this property. I hope all of us take a little time this morning to pray and dream. We have had some great days, but our best days are in front of us.

In Christ,


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Thoughts from My Run

In a green world we need more yellow.
We need less conformity and more creativity.
Less adaptability and more authenticity.
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person." -Romans 12:2

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Picking Apples

En route

Honey Crisp - The best of all the apples

David testing out the produce

Searching for the perfect apple

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Today's Wedding

Backdrop for today's wedding.

Should have worn shoes. The sand was hot!

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Lord's Prayer

Best to stick with the original. But hopefully this helps us understand the original a little better.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Labor Day, Rest, and Balance

Oregon was the first state to recognize it in 1887. It became a federal holiday in 1894. Always the first Monday in September, Labor Day recognizes the contributions and achievements of American workers. 

It means something different today than it did one hundred and twenty years ago. Today most consider Labor Day weekend the end of summer, the start of football season, an opportunity to get a few things done around the house, or a long weekend. It is also one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. The aroma of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs is more prevalent on Labor Day than any other Monday of the year. Parks are filled with people. The kids enjoy a day off from school. 
Resting on the Elkhorn River

The English word labor is from the Latin word laborare. It means manual or physical work. To toil, struggle, have difficulty. We can understand why a woman having a baby is called labor. We can also understand why coal miners and steel workers and railroad builders used to march in parades in early September. The industrialization and modernization of America happened because of their sweat.

Jesus was aware of labor. Physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual labor. He knew life wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy for the people he related to in the Middle East twenty centuries ago and life remains a challenge for people today. We are tired, stressed out, hurting, over-committed, under-resourced, facing difficulties, lonely, and struggling. Many of us are like this some of the time and some of us are like this much of the time. 

Jesus makes an invitation us: Come to me. All of you who labor and carry heavy burdens. If you are tired or burned out, come to me. And I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

The Greek word Jesus uses is ἀναπαύσω which is a little different than our word rest. Rest to us might be laying on a couch in front of a television or dreaming of being in a cabin in mountains or by a lake. Webster even describes rest as “freedom from labor.” Jesus didn’t see rest as inactivity, rather he uses ἀναπαύσω which implies balance, especially in life’s essential areas of imagination, physical wellness, mental wholeness, relational harmony, and spiritual solidarity with God. Jesus is not promising us life is going to be perfect, but he is promising us his presence and his participation in our lives. 

This Labor Day weekend, take Jesus up on his offer. Slow down a bit. Realize life isn’t about what we do, but who we are. Go to him. Pray. Give him some of your hurts and some of your burdens. Read a few chapters of one of the Gospels. Journey with Jesus and accept his gifts of balance, harmony, rest, and grace.

Happy Labor Day, 


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Advice to my Boys

Advice to my boys: 

Dream big.
Set God-Sized goals. 

Beware of fear.
It's a dream destroyer.

Faith in God, others, and self is the foundation for dreams coming true.

Courage emerges from faith.
Courage isn't the absence of fear.
Courage is the activity demonstrating dreams and goals are more important than fear. 

Be strong and very courageous. -Joshua 1:7

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I have tried to get a decent picture of Esther for two years.
It finally happened.