Sunday, May 1, 2016

New Web Site

We launched a new web site today. 

We will keep this one live indefinitely, but all the new content will be added at

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Confirmation Sunday

I remember the day. Eight of us lined up in the front of the old church. The boys wore ties. The girls wore dresses. We all wore white robes. Our grandparents were so proud. Our parents took pictures with their Kodaks and Polaroids. The preacher tried to tell a few jokes and stumbled through our Scandinavian names the best he could.

And then it happened: The preacher laid his hands on my head and said: Craig, may the Holy Spirit work within you, that having been born through water and the Spirit, you may live as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Remember your baptism and be thankful. Amen.

I’ll say words similar to these this morning—thirty-one times. It doesn’t matter if the person saying this blessing is a saint or a scoundrel—it only has to do with God and the one being prayed for. And what a blessing it is.

I don’t remember much about that day. We had sandwiches and salads for lunch. Those eclectic fruity Jell-O salads with shredded carrots and chopped celery covered with a bizarre blend of cream cheese and Cool-Whip. I didn’t attend church or participate in ministry much the next few years. I remember going four years later on graduation Sunday. Standing up front with the exact same friends and a different preacher stumbling through our last names.

The next time all of us gathered in the church was about twenty years later. I stood in front of the crowded church wearing a black robe and a stole around my neck. One of my friends laid peacefully ten feet in front of me. He died too young. Two of the others sang some of the most heartfelt and compassionate music I remember hearing. At the end of the worship service, I went and laid my hand on the casket and said a different blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. What distance and interests and time separates, God joins back together. Nothing quite like the church. At its best, it connects us to God who gives us abundant life in this world and eternal life in the world to come.

Today is a great day at The Water’s Edge: We welcome our fifth Confirmation Class. These thirty-one students have learned, worshipped, and served together. They have been equipped with the tools necessary to help them thrive as a disciple of Jesus. Confirmation Sunday isn’t the end of a journey. It is the beginning. We have great big dreams for a student ministry that deeply impacts the lives of our students and students in our community. 

To the Confirmands: you are not only the future leaders of our church. Your ministry has already started: sharing the grace of Christ with people in your life and in God’s world. I pray your high school years are some of the best of your life and I pray you continue to grow in your love of God, your love of people, and your service to the world.

The best is yet to come…


Saturday, April 9, 2016

I'm a Failure

I’m a failure. I have failed more than succeeded at life.

My dream in high school and college was to run a sub four-minute mile. I’m guessing I raced the mile or its metric equivalent over one hundred times. I never really got that close.

I ran for student body president my junior year at Drake University. I had a great vision and a savvy campaign manager. Many political careers have died in Iowa. Mine was one of them.

As a young adult, I invested most of my life savings in a company called Web Van. They went bankrupt two years later and it didn’t help my bottom line too much either.

I inherited a decent soccer team that my oldest son played on. We trained hard in the offseason. My assistant coach and I developed a great game plan. My first game as a soccer coach, I lost 9 to 0. And it wasn’t actually that close. I remember telling the boys after our loss that failure teaches us lessons success doesn’t. I don’t think any of them got it at the time. I believed it. Still do.

I have learned that a single failure doesn’t mean failure has the last word. Someone once said: “Failure should be our teacher and not our undertaker.” Failure is best thought of as a delay and not a dead end. 

If success is the destination, the path to success goes through the land of failure. My observation is that people who don’t experience some failure never experience much success. Success isn’t the absence or the opposite of failure. It is overcoming failure.

I’m in the company of some good people. Peter is one of them. He got into an argument with his buddies about who was the greatest. He wasn’t too keen on Jesus washing his feet. He pulled out a sword and chopped off a man’s ear. He fell asleep when Jesus was in agony. He took his eyes of Jesus and sunk in the water. He denied Jesus three times. Yeah, Peter was a failure. 

But when God was ready to start the church He summoned Peter. I’m guessing if somebody was going to be talking about grace, God wanted somebody who has experienced it. And after Peter’s first sermon the world has never been the same again.

If you are stuck, try something new and know failure isn’t a bad thing. If you are failing, learn your lessons, get up, and try again. If you are in a season of success, take a look back and be grateful you have overcome failure.

The best is yet to come…


Friday, April 1, 2016

Blues, BBQ, and Love Does

Blues music started in the Deep South at the end of the 1800s. It combined African music with European folk music. The lyrics were often melancholy and sad. 

Downhearted lyrics are not an American invention. Lamentations begins with the announcement that Jerusalem is empty and the ends with the writer asking whether God has deserted the people of Israel once and for all.

It would be nice if joy and peace were the typical status of our hearts and minds, but such isn’t always the case. So we have things like blues music and lamentations to express our feelings. They help us be real with ourselves and real with God.

Benjamin and I love to smoke meat together. We are not purists. We do it the modern way, with an electric smoker, a remote thermometer, and wood pellets. Salmon, whole chickens, and baby back ribs are our favorites. But, BBQing isn’t about the food. It’s about spending a few hours together. 

The food finally comes out of the smoker it goes to the table. Usually it’s paired with some sort of potato, vegetable, and pie. And if we are really blessed, a bunch of people to share the meal with. We tell stories from the past. Share hopes about our future. And listen and laugh together. It’s all worth it and then some. 

Today we start a new series called Love Does. It’s based upon a wonderful little book of the same title. The premise is that everyday we wake up with an invitation to do love. When a blues song describes our life, we have the invitation to do love. When we wonder if God has deserted us, we have the invitation to do love. When we are surrounded by loved ones enjoying God’s creation, we have the invitation to do love. 

The poets tell us love is a feeling. She says, “I’m in love with him.” The Bible doesn’t use the word “love” that way. Love is a verb. It is something we do. Jesus tells us to love God and love others. We do it when we feel like doing it and when we don’t feel like doing it at all.

So enjoy the music this morning. AJ and the band have worked hard. Enjoy the BBQ. We are grateful God provides things like friends and food. And take this five-week journey of doing love and living out the Gospel. It’s going to be an amazing experience.

The best it yet to come…


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easter Column

Jesus was relationally sad. The night before his death, Jesus shared his last meal with his twelve buddies. He looked them in the eye as he broke the bread for the last time. He held back the tears as he blessed the cup. Peter would soon deny him. Not once. But three times. Judas would betray him. Not just any betrayal. A betrayal that would cost Jesus his life. Goodbyes are never easy. Denials and betrayals are as tough as it gets. Heartbroken.

Jesus was emotionally spent. His trial could not have been easy. The soldiers mocked him. They asked if Elijah was coming to save him. They even spit on him. The very people he came to serve and save ridiculed him. Dejected.

Jesus was physically abused. He took a beating. Nails through his hands. A sharp crown of thorns on his head. He was bruised and bloody. He hung on a cross gasping for air. Broken.

Jesus was spiritually searching. He cried out with a loud scream: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” He didn’t use the word Father. He used the word God. Not close enough to call Him Father. Only close enough to call Him God. Isolated.

And then three days later he rose from the dead. None of the Gospel writers give much detail as to what happened because the details don’t really matter. What matters is that Jesus is alive again.

Heartbroken. Dejected. Battered. Isolated. Alive again.

The betrayal was overcome. The dejection was destroyed. The brokenness was restored. The isolation was overwhelmed. Death was defeated.

We worry about tomorrow. We carry hurts from the past. We wonder if there is more to life. Our busyness consumes us. It seems hopeless that the future will be better than the past. We are sick of being tired. We are slowly dying.

The big stone was rolled away from the tomb. We don’t know if Jesus limped or leaped as he re-entered the world. We only know God raised Jesus from the dead. And we know that God was just getting warmed-up because He has been raising people from the dead ever since.

Our worries. Our hurts. Our fears of dying. Our fears of not living. Our busyness. Our hopelessness. Our fatigue. Our broken hearts. Our rejection. Our dejection. Our brokenness. Our loneliness. God invites us to experience resurrection in all areas of life. He invites us to experience new life so that we can be alive again. Sounds like an invitation worth accepting.

Happy Easter,


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Holy Week Explained

Worship with us this week.

Maundy Thursday - 6:30 p.m. at Tiburon
Good Friday - 12:00 and 6:30 at the ministry center
Easter Sunrise - 7:00 at church property
Easter - 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 at Millard West

Maundy Thursday 

Maundy is from the Latin "mandatum", the first word of Jesus’ teaching from John 13:34 - "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus was sharing his last meal with the twelve men who would be responsible for taking the Gospel to the nations. No time for small talk. Not even time for good stuff. Only his best words. “I’m going to make this simple. You need to remember this: Love others as I have loved you.” 

Good Friday 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. What He really gave us, of course, was Himself. He experienced pain, humiliation, and death so we can experience love, forgiveness, and life. The world hasn't been the same since and your world doesn't have to be the same ever again. No single word or collection of words could ever describe this day. So "good" will have to do. 


The other days have a name: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. Saturday is just Saturday which is more than enough. It was a day of darkness when Satan celebrated victory over God and dominion over the world. In the epic game of chess against the Almighty One Himself - Satan delivered a surprising, come-from-behind checkmate. Hope he enjoys it while it lasts because he gets a surprise tomorrow: the King still has another move. 


It begins in the despair of the dark caused by the sin of the world and the hatred of many. Fear was widespread. Satan delighted in Christ's death. But it's Easter morning and Satan's party comes to an abrupt ending when he discovers the once defeated man has emerged from the tomb. Christ is alive. It was the day death died. Checkmate. Hope overcomes despair. Light silences darkness. Grace forgives sin. Love replaces hate. Faith calms fears. Life resurrects death. 

The best is yet to come… 


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fried Reuben Sandwiches

The fried reuben turned out great.  

Here is what you need.

Marble rye bread
Slice corned beef
Slice pastrami
Fresh sauerkraut
Thousand Island Dressing
Swiss cheese
Gruyere cheese
Lots of canola oil

Mix the beer an flour together to form a batter. Stir it up good.

Place the corned beef and pastrami on a frying pan to warm up. Add the cheese. Cover for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Remove. Butter the rye bread on one side. Place two slices of bread on the flying pan. Brown the bread. Remove. Put Thousand Island dressing on the unbutton side of the bread. Put meat and cheese on one of the slices of bread. Cover with sauerkraut. Complete sandwich.

Dip sandwich in batter. Drop sandwich in hot oil on turkey fryer. Fry for about 60 to 90 seconds.

Dip the deep fried reuben in thousand island dressing for a true culinary delicacy. 

This is a wonderful sandwich without being deep fried.

Dipping the sandwich in the batter.

The frying process.

Straight out of the fryer.

Ready to eat.

Benjamin enjoying the fruits of our labor.