Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Rite of Passage

There are certain rites of passage that every boy must go through on his journey into adulthood. My eldest son, Christopher, went through one of those rites of passage on Monday night. And, for me, it was pure delight to walk throught it with him. Chris learned how to mow the lawn.

It began with a lesson on clearing the lawn of hazards before you begin mowing. Lesson two was taking the lawnmower out of the garage without injuring yourself on anything that is found in the destructive path between where the mower is stored and the end of the garage. We created a path through the six bicycles, snow blower, basketballs, baseball bats, and other items that were in the way, and without injury or damage to our van, got the mower out. That was a major accomplishment in and of itself. Lesson number three invovled checking the oil and gasoline levels in the mower. We filled the mower up, and then the real fun started.

"Can I start it, Dad?"

"Sure, give it a shot."

Pull, Pull, Pull -- Nothing.

The mower wouldn't start.

"See that button in the front of the mower? The one that says, 'Primer?' Press it three times and try again."


He presses the primer and then moves back into location. PULL, PULL, PULL -- Nothing.

"Should I try pressing the primer button again?"

"Yeah, go ahead."

He presses the primer and then moves back into location. His face now showing the frustration I've seen on dozens of other young men in my life.


The eyes now fill with delight. Boy turns into young man as he now controls the powerful machine.

"Dad, what do I do now?"

"I'll mow the first row, you can mow the second. For now, can you pull the weeds by the flower planters?"


I've never seen him so excited about pulling weeds. I take my turn behind the mower and begin to mow the first row. I realize that for the next several years my opportunities to do this are going to be less than they've been in the past. For Chris is motivated by the lucrative $5 prize that awaits him at the end of this task.

"Okay, Dad, I finished the weeds. Can I mow now?"

"Sure, Buddy."

I hand over the controls to my son. And, I watch him grow up before my eyes. A big smile comes across his face. He could try to hold it in, but it would be futile. He's proud. Proud to be in control of the machine. Proud of the fact that his parents trust him with such a big task.

Truth be told, I worry every time he comes to the part of the yard where he has to push the mower up hill. What if he can't do it? He does just fine. What if he gets hurt? He doesn't. What if he gets so good that he doesn't need me?

The mulch bag on the mower fills up.

"Dad, what do I do now?"

He still needs me. I show him how to empty the bag. It's too heavy for him to pour it into our yard waste bucket.

"Dad, can you help?"

My son still needs me. And, he needs me for much more than lawn mowing lessons. He needs me to teach him how to live a godly life. To be a man of character in a world that is pushing against him. He needs me to tell him that I love him, that I believe in him, that nothing in the world could ever make me stop loving him.

Lord, help me to be the kind of Dad who radiates You; the kind of Dad who helps my kids to see that no matter how old they get, how mature they are, how confident they are, how much they know -- that they will always need You. Help me to live a life of total reliance upon my Heavenly Father. And thank you for trusting me with the mower, and being there for me even when I think I don't need you. Thank you for loving me, God.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge is a book that I recommend to so many mom's and wive's to help them understand the men in their lives. I'm told that this book does the same thing for men in regard to women.

So, I'm just starting to read it too. My sister loves this book and I can't wait to see what I learn about the women in my life through the reading of it. If you're reading it, I'd love to know what you think about it, and if you agree or disagree with what John and Stasi Eldredge say.

The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus

Students in our ministry know that I love this book. I gave away 20+ copies of it in the spring. I'm rereading this book, and challenged again by the call to live faith, the barbarian way.

Erwin McManus pastors, Mosaic, in Los Angeles, California. This church is reaching young adults like few churches do. 80% of the 5,000 attendees of Mosaic are in their 20s or below. McManus' message resonates with them, and it resonates with me. Check it out.

It's published by Nelson Books.

Faith of My Fathers by Chris Seay

Chris Seay has been one of the pastors at the forefront of the emerging church movment for some time. His new book Faith of My Fathers is a fascinating look into the way three generations of pastors think about church, ministry and culture.

Chris' grandfather served as a pastor for years. His father is still a pastor. His two brothers are also involved in ministry. The book is basically a transcript of the conversations that these men had on the following issues:

The Inner Life
Jerks in Ministry
Government and Politics
Social Issues
Racial Issues
Being Yourself

The book is supposed to be released September 1, but our bookstore already had them in stock. I had a hard time putting it down when I picked it up. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you read.

The book is published by Zondervan.

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

I'm only through the first four chapters, but WOW! I love this book. What a great reminder to me that I am a part of God's story, and that life doesn't revolve around me. Chapter three has some great insights into God's call on Moses' life. I love these words from that chapter:

"God was telling Moses: I AM the center of everything. I AM running the show. I AM the same every day, forever. I AM the owner of everything. I AM the Lord. I AM the Creator and Sustainer of life. I AM the Savior. I AM more than enough. I AM inexhaustible and immeasurable. I AM God. In a heartbeat, Moses knoew God's name - and something more. He finally knew his. For if God's name is I AM, Moses' name must be I am not. I am not the center of everything. I am not in control. I am not the solution. I am not all-powerful. I am not calling the shots. I am not the owner of anythying. I am not the Lord."

The book is published by Multnomah. Buy it. It's worth the cost.


Inspired writing. Literally.

The second book of the Torah is challenging me in new ways.

Last week I reread the story of Moses and the burning bush. After reading the story in my personal devotions, I read what two authors thought about the account in their books. What amazing insight into our God. Check it out.

Velvet Elvis

To say that Rob Bell's first book Velvet Elvis is creating quite the controversy would be the understatement of the year. Some are calling him a heretic, some are calling him refreshing. What do you think? The book is definitely worth a read. It has created some strong feelings in me. I'll be writing a comprehensive review about the book later this month. For now, if you've read it, or are starting to read it, please leave your thoughts in the comment section of this post.

Read With Me

I love to read. But, I read kind of wierd. I am usually reading several books at once. Over vacation my wife, brother and sister-in-law spent a couple hours talking about Rob Bell's new book Velvet Elvis. It was two hours of stimulating conversation. While talking it occured to me that there are probably a lot of people who would love to talk about what it is they are reading.

So, I want to give you a chance to do that.

I'm reading six books right now. Some of them are changing me. Some are making me mad. Some are making me think about things that I've not spent enough time thinking about it. Here's what I'm going to do. Each time I begin the process of reading a book, I'm going to put that book title, and sometimes a picture of that book in this blog. I will respond to the book by editing my posts as I get around to it. You can respond with your thoughts about the book by putting a comment in the post about that book. Other readers to this blog will respond back to your comments. This could be fun!

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15

Vacation Pictures


Cyndi, the kids and I just got back from a fabulous vacation last night. How fun it was to have ten days together as a family.

The highlights . . .

  • Seeing family. I had a chance to spend time with all but one of my siblings and my mom and dad. It's always great to see the people that you love when you live so far away. We spend two nights with mom and dad, and a week at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference in Muskegon, Michigan with my brother Mark and his family.
  • Time together. Life is busy, and our family never seems to have enough time together. It was great to unwind, play dozens of games of miniature golf, swim, lie on the beach, body surf, eat meals together, and worship together.
  • Worshipping at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan and First Baptist Church in Geneva, Illinois. It's great to be part of the body of Christ.
  • Talking. We spent hours talking about everything from wave runners to theology.
  • Reading. I love to read, and was able to spend time reading four books. See my next entry for more on that.
  • Holding Hands. I spend time holding each of my children's hands this week. I'd hold their hands as we walked on the beach, on the sidewalks, in church, on a trail . . . it was awesome! I wonder how many more years I'll be able to do that. I also got to hold my wife's hand as we walked the beach, the conference grounds, as we drove across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. I love that woman.
  • Go Carts. Craig's Cruisers in Muskegon, Michigan. All I can say is "Thank You."
  • Birthdays. Happy Birthday Britney and Melissa.
  • Sleep. We all slept in. Zachary slept 'til 11:15 on day! That's a new record.
  • Sunsets. There is nothing in the world like a Lake Michigan Sunset. Wow!
  • Blimp Over Sears Tower. I love the Chicago Skyline, and this year we were treated to the treat of the Good Year Blimp hovering over the skyline as we drove through the city.
  • God's Suprises - For the second year in a row, our room was upgraded at no cost. We stayed in one of the most beautiful rooms I've ever been in.
  • Exodus. Read it. It's in the Bible.

"Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. To him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. Who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. Who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever."

Psalm 136:3-6

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Digitial Camera Scavenger Hunt

Last Wednesday night our students participated in a Digital Camera Scavenger Hunt after DIVE. Here are a few of their pictures. Enjoy.

"being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

.mp3 of my sermon on Money and Power

You can download the .mp3 of the talk I gave at Wooddale Church's Mosaic service on August 2, at The sermon dealt with the topic of money and power.

"To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition."
1 Timothy 3:1

Monday, August 08, 2005

Changed Forever Update

A few posts back I wrote about how God worked through our summer movie teaching series to change the lives of some students forever. After teaching our lesson on The Fantastic Four, four students invited Jesus Christ to become Lord of their lives. It was their changed forever moment.

Kevin Franske, Wooddale's Senior High Program Assistant, told me before our series began that Ralph Winter, the Executive Producer of The Fantastic Four was a believer. Ralph had spoken to Bethel University students in the spring about God and Hollywood. Kevin has corresponded on and off with Ralph ever since.

Last week I felt impressed to let Ralph know about how God had used the trailer for his movie as a teaching tool to lead some to Christ. Here is Ralph's response:

What incredible news. I am truly moved by this. What an amazing God we serve that He chooses to use whatever we have in hand for His purposes. I am humbled to be a part of His process with those students. Thank so much for your support in prayer.

Let's keep Ralph Winter, and other believers in Hollywood in our prayers. Ralph has an opportunity to impact millions of people through his movies. He is currently filming X-Men 3, and has been the producer in every one of the X-Men Movies, Star Trek III, IV, V, VI, Mighty Joe Young, Inspector Gadget, Planet of the Apes, and many more.

"Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love."
Ephesians 6:24

Weekend Memories

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. Life has been crazy. Last week I spoke five different times. Each occasion was unique, and it was fun to watch God work. We leave for vacation this Thursday, and I can't wait! We'll be driving to Chicago on Thursday night, and then to to Michigan on Saturday morning.

This past weekend was a special one for the Schulenburgs. We drove a couple of hours north of the Twin Cities to the cabin of some of our dear friends. It was there that I saw a new side to our four-year-old son, Zachary. Our friends own a couple of wave runners and a boat. Zachary has shown himself to be quite the young daredevil. He loves speed. I put him in front of me on the waverunner, and after an initial 30 seconds or so of trepidation, Zachary said, "Daddy, go faster!" I went faster and faster until the waverunner could go no faster. That wasn't good enough for him. He still wanted to go faster. He giggled the entire time.

The next day, while watching his Breanna and Chris tube, he insisted on going on the tube. He loved it.

We had a great time at our friend's cabin. Jeremy caught nine fish on Saturday morning, using only a string and a stick -- two rock bass and seven sunnies.

When we arrived back home Saturday night we had a chance to catch up with some of our best friends from our days in the Quad Cities. Mary Walas, a young woman that Cyndi started discipling when she was in seventh grade spent the night with us. She is now in college, and it was ironic to think that Cyndi started discipling Mary at the same age that Breanna is now. I pray that Breanna will have that type of relationship with a mentor in her life. It was awesome catching up with Mary about a place and people that we love very much.

I preached at Wooddale's new daughter church, City Church on Sunday morning. It is always fun to see the joy and ownership that those involved in a church plant have. What a great morning.

Cyndi's parents arrived for a quick overnight stay yesterday afternoon. We had a great time hanging out, catching up, and eating out. We ate dinner at Ray's Azteca Mexican restaurant in Chanhassen. I'd heard about this restaurant from another Wooddale pastor. Wow, was it good! They had a mariachi band and it felt like we were at a Mexican celebration. We had a blast. Last night we played the Schulenburg's favorite game -- Sold! You'll have to ask me about it sometime.

Weekends like that are tough to top. It was so nice. Kind of makes me long for the days when I'm spending eternity in my Father's house . . .

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
John 14:2-3