Monday, March 05, 2012

Get These Things Out of Here!: Clearing Our Most Costly Clutter

Jesus was not what they expected. That's what I'm learning. Both of our scripture selections for this week in Lent remind us how radical and revolutionary Jesus' life, death and resurrection really were and are.

As you read 1 Corinthians, keep in mind that those who were following Jesus while he lived were following a leader who had to be crucified to save. Most expected a savior who would overthrow governments physically and literally, not philisophically.

And in John, that memorable tantrum in the temple, Jesus had the guts to take on the religious leadership on their own turf, proclaiming that he would tear down one temple and become THE temple himself. The rage in that scene in the temple is palpable. And we're going to borrow a page form Jesus' life this Sunday as we share the 'things' that outrage us and whip our own world into shape.

Where are the areas that need to be cleaned out as Jesus cleared the temple? What would you like to wind up and toss out the window? Bring those thoughts with you on Sunday and we'll offer it all up in prayer... an empowering, "RID ME OF THIS" style of prayer that is (practically) guaranteed to help you feel lighter as you leave.

Any injustice or unrighteiousness in your world or the larger world-in-general is fair game at Water's Edge. What is weighing you down? What is happening in our world that makes you so angry you could scream? And when was the last time you got to raise your voice in church?

We'll see you at the clean and toss on Sunday! In the meantime, kepp reading your Lenten devotionals. That ought to provide some calm and balance! ;-)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drop Your Ego, Pick Up Your Cross

Dear Water's Edge Worshipers!

We are coming upon our second Sunday in Lent and I hope you've had time to follow along in the church-wide devotional, The Way of the Cross. This project was so meaningful to experience and my hope is that we can do it every year, with new writers and new perspectives.

This Sunday we'll concentrate on a couple key passages as we follow the way of Jesus' path... the way of the cross... toward Maundy Thursday. A question, perhaps THE question: are you willing to take up His cross and face death in the name of what you believe?

I think "willing" is the key word here. Rev. Molly brought up a point that I had not considered: when Jesus said to his disciples that they needed to be willing to 'take up the cross' and follow Him to death, the "cross" did not mean to them what it means to us. It was not a symbol widely used as a symbol in sanctuaries or on shoulders. The cross was a means of execution. I wonder what ran through the minds of the disciples when He first said that? Surely it would have been a different reaction than what a modern Christian might feel if asked the same question.

And, our children's minister, Miss Beckie, proposed a useful way to get into that mindset... what are you willing to "let die" for Christ? Your ego? Ambition? Can you honestly put yourself "out there" in a position to live the life that Christ described, not fighting for your own self-interest?

Something to ponder, which is perfect for our Lenten journey!

See you soon...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent: Self-help Opportunity or True Sacrifice?

Dearest Water's Edge Worshipers,

Wednesday (February 22) begins our Lenten Journey, 2012 and we have a wonderful "tool" for guidance along this path of penitence and reflection. The Way of the Cross is a daily Lenten devotional book published by FUMCSD, featuring some of our very own Water's Edge members. If you are looking for inspiration or aif more structured path, this devotional book may be your answer.

On Ash Wednesday, we will offer ashes, communion and prayer to mark the beginning of Lent. All are welcome.

In preparing for this Sunday's service, we discussed what it means to "give up" something for Lent. As Rev. Molly explained, Lent is a time to recognize God's role in everything, that human kind is truly not able to exist on bread alone. So, does giving up chocolate really represent sacrifice when -- in the end -- it's actually better for you? What to you would mean true sacrifice and provide the opportunity to be in reflection, remembering God in your words and deeds?

I was thinking that for Lent I would ADD a responsibility (instead of subtracting swearing, chocolate or Diet Coke) such as daily exercise. But even that, really, in the end, seems more of a benefit to me than sacrifice. Perhaps walking while in a constant state of prayer each morning would bring out more of an awareness of God in everything. I'm still working on it.

Meanwhile, we are also looking for those willing to share aloud - during 9:30 service - their personal God-moments or testimonies. When were you radically aware of your dependence on God? Respond here or send me an email at

Have a blessed week and we'll talk Sunday!

Monday, February 13, 2012

God Moments: Roaring Campfires, Snowy Blankets and Tecalote Canyon

Let's start this week with a quick read of the scriptures. Notice anything similar between the OT and NT readings? Spiritual Moments on a grand scale: Elijah's ascension and Christ's transfiguration.

From 2 Kings:As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.

From Mark:And He was transfigured before them, and His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.

Whether they are quietly meaningful or grandly mystical, chances are, we've all experienced some kind of God Moment: a time when all else seems to stop or fade out and it's just you and God in a great moment.

It can happen alone. It can happen with others. It's likely hard to describe. But you know it when you're in it.

When I was in middle and high school (1980s), the best bible camp around was Campus By the Sea on Catalina Island. No doors on the shack-like sleeping quarters, wild animals roaming through camp, no electricity in the cabins (shacks), biodegradable soap for washing your hair in the ocean! Revved up senior counselors always provided plenty of study and food for thought... and lots of kids re-dedicated their lives to Christ or got baptized for the first time. But the most magical "moment" was usually the camp fire on our last night together.

The shyest kids would get up and talk about their heart's transformation; the super popular, tough-guy jock would tear up explaining his love for Christ... and everyone got a chance to talk. The night did not end until everyone had their opportunity. Then, we would say a prayer and thank God with a round of applause... But, when do you stop clapping for God?

The noise would go on and on and on and no one wanted to be the first one to stop clapping. Usually, a responsible adult would have to shut it down... but 15 minutes of clapping and yelling and hugging and crying was not unusual... all while the camp fire popped and crackled and leaped into the midnight sky.

Whew, it was dramatic! But some God moments are absolutely quiet and still and just as powerful: driving alone, in the dark, only your headlights to guide you down a snow-covered lane, the blanket of fresh snow muffling everything except your heart beat and God's voice; running through Tecalote Canyon, deep breaths of fresh air pumping in and out of your lungs, your feet pounding on the crunching sand below, a crispness to the blue-sky day as you pass clear through the "runner's high" into the "God high;" or standing with your entire family, watching the sunset, and seeing the infamous, illusive "Green Flash" together, some for the first time ever.

Maybe your favorite God moment was more like Field of Dreams. In this clip, if you jump ahead to 1:20, that's when James Earl Jones admits to Kevin Costner that he saw the message too.

Whatever your moment(s), big or small, group or private, please share on Sunday. As we celebrate and recognize Transfiguration Sunday, we are hoping to share those moments when your life felt transfigured, even if just for a moment.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Why God's Love Prevails (and why words are important)

Dear ones!

Well, we've made it through the tough discussions and now get to receive a little dessert. Chapter 4 in the WHY? series by Adam Hamilton focuses on why God's love prevails... and it couldn't come any sooner!

The first three chapters were a bit rough, at least among the folks with whom I spoke. Not rough in that we turned on each other; rough in that it sparked heavy discussion that demanded serious consideration.

Why does God allow suffering? Why do some prayers go unanswered? What is God's will for my life? See. Not easily covered in a quick conversation.

But this week, we'll discuss a subject that might just feel like putting on our favorite sweatshirt or grabbing a favorite pillow or blanket, (a snuggie or slanket if you must). We'll snuggle up in the knowledge that God is always with us and no one and nothing can separate us from God's love.

As Adam Hamilton says, "God does not take from us our freedom, nor does God miraculously deliver us from the consequences of our actions or the actions of others. But, God does promise to deliver us, and God promises to sustain us and force good to come from the painful things we experience in this life."

I like that idea. But I got hung up on one word. And as Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

Something about the word "force" bothers me in that sentence above. Seems to me, God doesn't have to force anything. If He decides it shall be, it shall be. No forcing need be done. But Rev. Hamilton also wrote this:

"God takes the pain and the grief and the wounds of our past, and transforms them into objects of beauty." I love the use of the word "transform." That seems very fitting and Godly.

But no worries. I'm not picking on Rev. Hamilton! Afterall, if there's anything we've learned from this series, it's that we can disagree on issues and phrasing and even theology, but we can do it in an agreeable way. Learning and growing together without fear of feeling small or silly. That reminds me of some other words... some of my favorite words:

Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.

See you (and your favortite sweatshirt) on Sunday!


PS- More Mark Twain quotes here

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thy Will, Not Mine... but give me a hint, eh?

Dear Water's Edge Worshippers,

Have you ever been absolutely convinced -- to your core, no doubts -- that you were destined to do something in particular, connect with someone, do something radically different but all you? So powerful it was, that you could feel it in your bones? I have.

I was a TV reporter for 17 years and knew from the moment I walked into the student-run TV station at American University that I was "hard wired" for the craft. But that was then; what about now? Is God calling me to serve? I'm sure He is... or surely I hope He is?

Either way, Why? is it sometimes so difficult to discern God's will for our lives? That's the subject we'll be tackling this week at Water's Edge. This is week #3 of the Adam Hamilton-based, churchwide Why? study. So far, parts 1 & 2 have elicited a lot of thought-provoking discussion in the groups I've attended.The best part about it is that we can all express our thoughts in safety, without fear of rebuke or shunning (unless of course you're rolling your eyes AFTER I leave the room).

This week's scriptures will take us into a discussion of predestiny versus free will. What do you believe? Does God have a set plan for your life, already laid out with twists and turns, good and bad? Or does He have a purposeful plan, with an ending in mind, that allows you the opportunity to make choices (free will) and veer this way and that? If it's the latter, then, does He step in to always help you get back on His track? Or, could you change your entire destiny if you don't follow the plan... such as Marty McFly almost did in Back to the Future? Remember? Marty -- who had time traveled back to his parent's high school days -- ended up having to get his dad to kiss his mom by midnight or it was going to be all over! Goodbye McFly! (The photo above shows his brother disappearing -- his sister is next -- to indicate that time is running out!)

Be sure to appear for this Sunday's discussion!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is Garth Brooks Right? Do We Need to Thank God for Unanswered Prayers?

Do you remember the last time one of your prayers went (or seemed to go) unanswered? Can we ever really know that a prayer has definitively gone unanswered? Maybe we just didn't recognize the answer. Maybe the answer was given, but not on our time-table. There are so many variables and we're going to take a serious crack at them this Sunday.

Why are we doing this? Glad you asked! Last Sunday, January 22, we began our church-wide study of the Adam Hamilton book "Why? Making Sense of God's Will."

- Week #1 concentrated on explaining (or prompting us to think and talk about) why good people suffer, the different kinds of suffering in this world, such as natural disasters, and God's role in suffering.

- Week #2 will cover God and prayer... and what happens when he doesn't answer.

Take a look at this week's scripture readings; two very different takes on prayer in the Bible:

- In the Psalm, the psalmist is in great distress over his sense of abandonment. But then he takes heart remembering that God saved those who walked before him (the psalmist); those who suffered slings and arrows in previous situations turned out alright.

There's a movie trailer playing in theaters now promoting a British dramedy. A bunch of British seniors have 'retired' to a resort in India, site unseen, based only on pictures in a beautiful brochure. Upon arrival, they realize the magnificent facilities they saw in pictures don't really exist. One woman demands her money back and a young boy answers, "We have a saying: It will be alright in the end. And if it's not alright, it's not the end."

Ha! I love that! Could be a new approach to prayer... speaking of prayer, back to our subject:

- Check out our second scripture, this time, from Luke. How about that one?! Jesus, on his knees, praying, "... remove this cup from me..." Wow! That's not how any of the stories of his life went in my Sunday school. My classes always focused on the Son listening to his Father and doing what he was told. And I can remember first reading this Luke passage and thinking, "Jesus gets it! He is the Son of God with human understanding through and through!"

Jesus did not want to have to go through with what was coming next. How many of us know that feeling too? Something really heavy and important weighing on your shoulders, something only you can deal with; you know you have to take care of business but still, you go through all sorts of mental gymnastics trying to figure out how to get out of it and let the 'cup' pass from you.

Well, this Sunday, you will not bear the cup alone. We will lift our concerns and prayers together. Better buckle up! We're getting ready for some heavy lifting!