Sunday, November 05, 2006


Breanna and I had a blast yesterday in Hollywood and Anaheim. It was so fun watching Breanna's face as she experienced California. Here's a quick picutre of Breanna by Frank Sinatra and Julie Andrews' hand and shoe prints in front of Grumman's Chinese Theater.

Friday, November 03, 2006

You Go, Heather!

I am convinced that I work with the best Junior High Pastor in America. Heather Flies has been at Wooddale Church for 10 years now, and among the students that she loves is my daughter. Heather has been making a huge impact on youth ministry nationwide for several years now. She serves on Youth Specialties national CORE training team, was a featured speaker at DCLA 2006, and is so well respected. Youth Specialties has a monthly podcast that they make available for free to anyone who wants to grow. On the podcast they interview some of the most influential voices in youth ministry. This month's interview features Heather talking about the unique calling of the middle school pastor. You can check it out here.

Heather is also the author of an extraordiary new book on talking to your teenage daughter. I'd highly recommend it. You can order it here or pick up a copy in the Wooddale Church Bookstore.

King of the Hill and The Mega Church

I'm at a conference this week, and this video from King of the Hill was shown today. It's a pretty insightful look at how the world looks at mega churches.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Spiritual Moments

It was a profoundly spiritual moment when I saw this picture. 33 years ago there was a swingset in this yard. It was on Easter Sunday after listening to my Sunday School teacher share the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that I was challenged so deeply in my life. I went home, considered what my Sunday School teacher had said, and prayed in this yard to ask Jesus to become my Savior and Lord. My life has never been the same.

This home is for sale now. I lived there from the time I was 2-7 and my brother Mark recently came across the MLS listing for the home. He e-mailed the photos from the MLS listing to every one of my siblings. I love what God did in that house in my life. He gave me parents who loved Him, brought me to church, and exposed me to the Gospel. Thanks Mom and Dad, and thank you God!

I had another cool spiritual moment recently. Erik and Joel Bakke came into my office and asked me if I had any books by Arthur Pink. Erik and Joel are in high school and Arthur Pink was born in 1886. I was blown away that they would want to read a book by Pink. I had Pink's commentary on Genesis in my library. It's called Gleanings in Genesis. When I pulled it off of the shelf, I thumbed through the book. A business card fell out. It said, Ray Schulenburg, on the front. Ray was my Grandpa. He died several years ago. There was a note from Grandpa on the card to me. It said, "Brian . . . some Bible teachers consider this the best exposition there is on Genesis. Study it. Grandpa" I'd never seen that note before. Kind of wierd to get a note from your Grandpa years after he's died. I let the guys borrow my book, but you can be sure that Gleanings In Genesis is at the top of my reading list.

Thanks God, for my spritual heritage that I take for granted way too much. You have blessed me beyond measure.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Breanna's Surprise

At 6:30 this morning, my 14-year-old daughter began to open her birthday presents. I know, it's early, but I've been invovled in a conference all week long and don't get back home until 6:00 PM, and I wanted Breanna to be able to enjoy her gifts all day long. OK, maybe it is less about Breanna and more about me. I really let Breanna open her gift early because I couldn't wait.

For the past month I've had to keep a secret from my daughter. I'm terrible at keeping secrets when I have really good news to share. This weekend I'm speaking at The National Youth Workers Convention in Anaheim, California. I told Cyndi last month that I had throught of the perfect birthday gift for Breanna. I'd cash in some of my frequent flyer miles and bring Breanna with me. Cyndi agreed, and today, while opening her gifts Breanna unwrapped some pictures of California. She immediately said, "I'm going to California?" Then she saw the airplane ticket and said, "I'm going to California on Saturday?" She couldn't wait to get on the bus and tell her friends.

This weekend Breanna and I will fly together for our first ever father/daughter trip. She's decided that she wants to visit Hollywood and Beverly Hills. A girl after her Dad's own heart. We can't wait to experience this together. She's also excited about going to the National Youth Workers Convention with me and hearing the David Crowder Band and Jars of Clay in person. Saturday can't get here fast enough.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Birthday Week

It's birthday week at the Schulenburg home. 14 years ago today, Cyndi and I were at a homecoming football game at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia. We were expecting our first child any day. That night, Cyndi began to go into labor, and on November 1st, our beautiful Breanna was born. Our lives have never been the same! The moment I saw Breanna, I was instantly in love. She is so precious. 14 years later, I consider myself the most blessed dad in the world. How did I get so lucky? Breanna, I love you. God, thanks for the gift of my girl, Breanna.

It was 12 years ago today that Cyndi went to the doctor and was told to go straight to the hospital. She was ready to have baby number two. Cyndi disobeyed doctors orders, wnet home, got her bag, called me and said, "Let's go have a baby." Then Christopher was born. Instant love again. I had a boy! It was hard not to project my feelings of baseball and basketball superstardom on to him from the time he was a baby. Now, hundreds of video games and baseball games later, I have to admit that God has really, really blessed me. Chris, I love you. God, thanks for the gift of my son, Chris.

Eight years ago, Cyndi was starting to feel labor pains. She said, "There is no way I'm having baby number three on either of his siblings birthdays." So, somehow, Cyndi delayed labor for two days, and on November 2nd, Jeremy was born. We had lost a child in between Chris and Jeremy, and so when he was born we named him, Jeremy, which means, Appointed by Jehovah. We knew that God has something special planned for Jeremy, because had his brother been born, Jeremy wouldn't have been here. Jeremy was born, and instant love once again swelled from my bones. I love that boy. I love his smile that lights up any room he walks into. I love his contagious belly laugh. I love his passion for life. Jeremy, I love you. God, thanks for the gift of my son, Jeremy.

I could have never imagined how much my life would change in the past 14 years because of these gifts that God has brought my way. Zachary, our youngest is five. His birthday is in May. For the past few years he's wondered why he doesn't get gifts this week like the rest of his siblings. This week, he's been finding gifts from his room for his brothers and sister. He's learning that it's better to give than to receive. One of these days, I'm going to have to give my children away. Psalm 127:4-5 says, "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." God, you've given me an incredible gift in my four children, but they are not mine to keep. Lord, use Breanna, Chris, Jeremy and Zach for your glory and honor. Let them be a light in their generation. Keep them close to you. Help Cyndi and me to be godly role models and to trust them to your tender care. As we give them birthday gifts this year, let our greatest gift be a passion for you that we share together.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I Love Youth Workers!

I just returned from a couple of days in Austin, Texas at The National Youth Workers Convention. What an awesome time with 3000 of my fellow youth workers. While there, many youth workers shared their hearts with me.

Some were down. They were tired of being misunderstood by other adults who look at them suspiciously because they have chosen to dedicate their lives to a generation that desperately needs love and affirmation, and most importantly, Christ. While speaking on the MySpace phenomenon, many youth workers shared with me how difficult it is for them to even bridge a gap with students because parents are suspicious of this strange breed of human being that would choose to spend time with teenagers. They were tired of reading articles like the one that appeared in the The New York Times on Friday, declaring youth ministry as ineffective and proclaiming that the church in America is losing the next generation. Most of the youth workers that I talked to took offense at the article. They were vocal when the The Austin American Statesman newspaper interviewed them about the present state of youth ministry.

Some were tired. Youth minstry is hard. It is a calling that is demands long hours consisting of morning, night and weekend hours. It pays very little in most churches and junior and senior high students are not very quick to affirm you in that calling. I spoke to many youth ministry couples that were on the verge of quitting. They were ready to chuck it all for more lucrative careers and less headaches. By the end of the conversations, these same youth workers came to the conclusion that as much as they sometimes dream about doing something else, they are called to serve students, and they know nothing else is as important.

Some were ecstatic. They were being ministered to. They were singing songs with David Crowder, not just David Crowder songs performed by their youth band. They were rubbing elbows with Doug Fields, not just reading his books. It was so much fun to watch some of the leading youth workers in America taking time to listen, talk, and minister to their fellow youth workers. It was a great weekend.

The Austin version of the National Youth Workers Convention ends tomorrow. Join me in praying for these 3000 youth workers as they head back to their respective ministries. Join me in praying for teenagers. Pray that God will continue to do His new thing in this generation. Pray that churches will have the courage to invest in youth ministry, no matter the cost to tradition. Pray for the 10-15,000 other youth workers that will be going to National Youth Worker's Conventions in Cincinnati, Charlotte and Anaheim this year.

When I was in college a pastor once said, "Satan possesses a double-edged sword. On one end is doubt, on the other is discouragement." It makes me shudder to think of great youth workers on the brink of leaving ministries over their own doubt and discouragment about ministry. This is clergy appreciation month. Why not show your youth worker how much you appreciate him or her this month? It may be just the encouragement he or she needs to make it through another year.

One more thing: Mark Oestreicher, the president of Youth Specialties has a blog. It's a great one. He regularly posts entries on the changing face of ministry to students. He has some great thoughts about the future of youth ministry here too. Check it out.

God bless.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

MySpace and Going Deep in Austin, TX

I'm headed off to Austin, Texas on Friday morning to speak at The National Youth Workers Convention. I'll be speaking in two sessions. The first session is entitled, How MySpace, Facebook, Xanga and iPods Are Changing All The Rules In High School Ministry. The second session is entitled, Going Deep: How To Get High School Students Talking About Spiritual Things.

Both of these sessions will be heavy on practical ways that youth workers can engage in the lives of their students. Please pray that God would use these sessions to make a positive impact on ministries all over the world.

You can find out more about The National Youth Workers Convention at Youth Specialties.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Take Your Family on a Mission Trip Today, For Free!

Have you ever wished that you could expose your children to life in another country? My wife Cyndi and I have four kids, and it would be really difficult for us to pull together all of the finances that we would need to bring all four of our kids oversees. But, this weekend, our kids had a chance to be on the mission field. Within 20 minutes of our home is incredible diversity. I was recently told by Eden Prairie's Chief of Police that Eden Prairie is home to 16,000 Somalians. Drive a little further into Bloomington and you'll find a thriving Hispanic community. Drive just south into Shakopee and you'll see large numbers of Russian immigrants.

We live in an exciting time.

This weekend, I took my family to the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. You can visit their website by going to The Global Market is an amazing place. You can visit people from Guatemala, El Salvador, Somalia, Sweden, Israel, Turkey, the West Indes, Mexico, and more in less than one hour. My friends, Jamal and Shadi opened a branch of their restaurant, Safari, in the market this past Sunday. Safari is a phenomanal Somalian food restaurant. As I ate with my kids we had spiritual conversations about what was giong on around us. I spent time talking with a family that had recently immigrated to the States from Mexico. It was fun getting to talk with them about our mission trips to Central America. Cyndi talked for several minutes with a shop owner. She told the owner about Mexican pralines that can be purchased from a distributor in Texas. The shop owner was so excited. She even exchanged e-mail addressses with Cyndi. We listened to Salsa music and Irish music, and we wondered at our incredible God who created the world with such beauty and diversity. As different as each person is, as unique as each culture is, we are all created in the image of God. Aren't you glad that our loving God loves people regardless of our view of Him? Christ's heart beats for all those in the Market who have never considered who He is. May God use us to reach those around us.

Why not take your family on a mission trip this week? It's really easy to engage in conversation at the Market. People want to talk. There are dozens of restaurants that share a common eating area that encourages communication. There are several chess sets waiting for people to play. There is live entertainment every weekend, featuring the music of different cultures. And, the food? It's so interesting to try the foods from the different cultures. The Midtown Global Market is located on the corner of Lake and Chicago in Minneapolis. Go, you'll be glad you did.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8

Fall Retreat This Weekend

The Wooddale Senior High Fall Retreat takes place this weekend at Lake Geneva Christian Center in Alexandria, MN. This is a phenomenal way for students to connect with each other and God at the beginnnig of the school year. Because of some misinformation that we were given, this retreat is taking place on the same weekend as homecoming at many of the top schools that we draw students from. Please pray that God will work with the students that we have coming. There are over 65 signed up already. We're praying that God will bring in another 20 students in the next two days.

The theme of our retreat is Uprooted. We're talking about the parables in Matthew 13:1-30. If you haven't read it recently, here are the first 30 verses from this incredible chapter of the Bible:

Matthew 13
The Parable of the Sower
1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9He who has ears, let him hear."
10The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"

11He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13This is why I speak to them in parables:
"Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
" 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.'[a] 16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

The Parable of the Weeds
24Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27"The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'

28" 'An enemy did this,' he replied.
"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'

29" 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "

Please pray that God will speak to our students this weekend. The passage naturally yields itself to a farm theme, so we've go some really fun activities planned including a square dance and hay ride. If you are a high school student in the Twin Cities and want to join us this weekend, give our office a call at (952) 944-8360.

The Gathering Starts This Sunday

It's been a long process, but this Sunday night, at 7:00 PM in the Great Room of Wooddale Church, the Gathering will begin. This is a five week pilot of an alternative worship service. I'm so excited about the potential that this service has to reach people for Jesus Christ. So many of the students that I work with are making plans to attend The Gathering and to bring friends with them.

This past weekend my family and I spent some time with some of my friends that are seekers. They were so excited about the concept of The Gathering. I've included a video in this post so that you can see what the Gathering is all about. Let me know if you have any questions.

Get this video and more at

Friday, July 28, 2006

Can It Really Be?

15 years? Has it really been that long? It seems like only yesterday that I was waking up in my parent's home getting ready for the most exciting day of my life. Yesterday, Cyndi and I celebrated our 15th Wedding Anniversary. We had an incredible day -- (Breakfast with our 4 kids, a house decorated so incredibly by Breanna, Chris, Jeremy and Zach, Swim Lessons for all four kids, Lunch and dinner at two of our favorite restaruants, bowling, a walk around one of the most beautiful lakes in the Twin Cities, riding scooters -- I've got to tell you my wife looks so incredible when she's riding a scooter!).

Thank you Lord, for the wonderful wife you've given to me. I could have never known the trials that you'd take us through over these 15 years. You've tought us so much about what love really is. Thank you for bringing us together.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

If You're In The Twin Cities On Sunday . . .

I'll be preaching at Oakwood Community Church this Sunday at 10:30. Oakwood is a daughter church of Wooddale, and meets at Waconia High School, 1400 Oak Avenue in Waconia. I'm preaching on the Nine Values of World Changers. Hope to see you there!

Choose Your Top 3

I received my first copy of Choose Your Top 3 in the mail yesterday. It's pretty exiciting to hold in your hands the author's copy of your first book. Choose Your Top 3 will be released nationally on August 1st. You can pre-order the book on a number of web sites including and I'm grateful to the good people at Zondervan and Youth Specialties who believed in this project and put their efforts behind it, and I'm praying that God will use this book to be a blessing in churches and homes across the world.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why I Should Only Ride Scooters

Cyndi, the kids and I went to the cabin of some of our dear friends earlier this week. It was beautiful. We watched fireworks on Bay Lake, rode wave runners, went tubing, had an awesome time with friends, and at the very end of the trip, my friend asked me if I'd like to try his dirt bike. If you are a regular blog reader you know that I have been dying to purchase a scooter, so the chance to drive a dirt bike was too tempting to pass up. I said, "Sure, but I'm not very good at this." My friend wasn't worried about that, and helped me get his huge 650 cc scooter started. Within five minutes I had crashed his bike and had deep second degree burns on my right leg. The burn will take at least a month to heal. It's pretty painful and I'd appreciate your prayers. Praise God I wasn't hurt worse, and I've learned my lessons. I'm a scooter guy only from now on.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

God Is An Artist

It must take a special person to be an entomologist. They have a fascinating life, circulating around the globe in search of . . . BUGS! Most people do everything in their power to avoid getting near the things that Robert Gallardo is passionate about. Gallardo is a world renowned entomologist who resides in Copan, Honduras. While he studies all types of bugs, Gallardo is particularly passionate about butterflies. His study in the field of butterflies or mariposas as they are known in the Spanish speaking world has led him to the remote jungles of Honduras’ Mosquito Coast in search of new butterflies. Gallardo’s work has been featured in National Geographic Magazine, The Discovery Channel, and numerous television shows.

Just before I left for Central America my wife Cyndi said, “Brian, if you could get me one thing in Central America this year, I’d like a butterfly.” You see, Jeremy, our third child has become somewhat of a junior entomologist himself. Jeremy’s idea of the perfect day would involve catching butterflies. And, with the help of mom, Jeremy puts the butterfly on a specimen board that now houses several beautiful butterflies. Cyndi and Jeremy love this new hobby. When I left the United States I was determined to find a butterfly and get it home for the two of them.

My attempts at catching butterflies have been rather futile. With no net, a busy schedule, and hands that are usually attached to video cameras or digital cameras the best I’ve been able to do is capture digital images of the beautiful creatures. When we entered Honduras, our team ate lunch at the hotel that would house us several days later. A couple of English language travel magazines were available for the general public to have, and the June, 2006 edition of Revue magazine immediately caught my attention. There in front of my eyes was a magazine with a beautiful butterfly gracing the cover. Inside was an article about Robert Gallardo’s Enchanted Wings Butterfly Sanctuary. It turns out that Gallardo has discovered over 30 different types of butterflies previously unknown in Honduras, and two types previously unknown to science. Gallardo proudly raises these in his butterfly sanctuary. I asked Jaime, our Guatemalan missionary if he’d take me to the sanctuary on our return visit to Copan. He assured me that he would.

When we arrived at Enchanted Wings, both Jaime and I were struck by the beautiful butterflies that surrounded us. Hoping to purchase some butterflies that were preserved, Jaime and I were not disappointed when we saw a beautiful collection of butterflies for sale. They were presented beautifully in glass surrounded by wood frames that come from a wood co-operative in Honduras. We each looked for the butterflies that we would take home to our family. As we waited for our treasures to be wrapped in protective paper, Jaime said to me in his wonderful accent, “Brian, des is proof dat God ees an arteest.” Yes, Jaime, you’re right. God is an artist. The greatest artist of all time.

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I love it when . . .

I´m writing this entry from an internet cafe in Campur, Guatemala. If ever there was a city that an internet cafe just didn´t quite look like it fits it is Campur. Campur just got electricity five years ago, and now this. How cool!

We are having a tremendous ministry here. I love this city. There is something so special about it. I love it when suburban high school students, who for the most part are very affluent, come to a region like this and realize that there is more to this life than what we own, or what we´d like to own next.

I love it when students who have worked very hard all day, take even more hours out of their day to love kids during their non-official ministry team hours. For instance, yesterday . . .

Jordan Lilienthal spent hours playing with children, letting them braid her hair, tossing a frisbee, and just blowing bubbles long after her children´s team had returned from four presentations.

Patrick Mennefee was tossing a baseball with one solitary local boy. The boy loved the attention that Patrick gave him. His eyes were huge as he watched Patrick throw him the ball, and the smile that the boy had was unforgettable.

Josh Patil and Derek Schell walked through town practicing their Spanish on anyone who would listen. The people laughed, joked, and loved it.

Today, as I walked to the Internet Cafe, I passed . . .

Students building a home, and loving the children in it. I watch high schoolers like Brittany Murphy, Annika Johnson, Rachel Patil and Jill Tebbe manning a pharmacy, mixing prescriptions with the delicate care of any pharmacist in the U.S.A. I watched as Natalia Hart, Katelyn Hatmaker, Laura Wollan and Michelle Olson took the vital stats (bloos presures and temperatures) so delicately with the patients that were waiting. I watched Kelsey Bohleen, Stephanie Snyder and Lindsay Nicholson provide patients with much needed health education.

Can I tell you how much I love it when high schoolers allow themselves to be stretched beyond their wildest imaginations?

Oh, and I love it when today, a group of basketball players decided to play at the local park, since there was no game scheduled. Why? So, that they could reach out to kids. The kids came in swarms, and believed it when Bret Fox told them that they were training for the Olympics.

God is good, and He is blessing this team. Keep us in your prayers.

Monday, June 12, 2006

When Fathers Pray

I had the chance to witness one of the most precious things last night. It was during the send-off service for our Operation Central America trip. Each team had a chance to share their prayer requests and then all of the parents and supporters of the teams came up to lay hands on the teams and commission them. The commissioning involved a time of prayer. What I heard was awesome. One dad prayed, with tears in his eyes and voice quivering for his son. He thanked the Lord for the incredible opportunity that his son had to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. I loved hearing the passion in the voice of that dad. He communicated love in a way that his son will never understand until he is a dad too. Another dad prayed passionately in Spanish. His son went as a student last year, and goes as a leader this year. The dad made sure that his son grew up to know other languages, and was so proud of what his son was doing. He gave a dignified and most appropriate gift to us when he prayed in the native tongue of the land where we not stay. Thanks to all of the parents and supporters who made this trip possible, and who showed love in such tangible ways last night. Keep praying for us!

We Made It!

You know, we really serve an incredible God.

I am writing from a computer room in a seminary in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Our plane landed about three hours ago, and it has been a long, but very good day. All 59 of us have our bags, our ministry bags, and great attitudes. I could not have been more proud of our students today. They had great attitudes, made God look good wherever they went, and all seem very excited about what lies ahead.

I was not really sure I would be feeling this good about twelve hours ago. We were supposed to leave from door number five at Wooddale Church at 12:45. I was finishing up a few last minute things in my office and got to the door right at 12:45. I found 58 people ready to leave, over 100 parents, and no bus. We had triple checked everything with our bus company to make sure that the bus would be at Wooddale at 12:30, but there was no bus there. I phoned the bus company and they could not find our driver. God was good. We had enough parents present, with vehicles to drive the entire team to the aiport. We had more than enough time to board the plane, and my wife Cyndi reminded me that maybe God had something important planned for the money that we would have spent on the bus to take us to the airport. Our eyes will be open.

We flew from Minneapolis to Houston, and then from Houston to Guatemala City. We had one student who had never flown. It was fun to watch his reaction to the flights.

We will be leaving early tomorrow morning for the six hour ride to the rain forest of Campur, Guatemala, where we will have no access to cell phones or the internet. So, my next entry will be on Thursday, at the earliest. The weather here is rainy. It has been raining for the past week, and they do not expect it to let up. If you pray, please pray for safety for us, especially the service team as they hike to their construction locations. Pray for team health, for team unity, for strength, and pray for the church services that will be taking place this week. I will be preaching in Campur tomorrow night. The sermon will be translated from English to Spanish, and from Spanish to Queche Mayan. The total time of the service will be near three hours. Pray that our students will have enough energy to make it through, and that they will have enough energy to use the gifts that God has given them to be a blessing to others.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the safe trip that you have given us. Protect us. Use us as your hands and feet in this land. Teach our students through the beautiful people of Guatemala and Honduras. Help our students to understand and know You better because of the time that they spend here. Help them to be more like Jesus every day. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.

Friday, June 09, 2006

48 Hours

In 48 hours I'll be with 58 other wonderful people at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport waiting to board our plane for Houston, and then Guatemala City. I can't wait.

There is something so special about taking groups of students on foreign mission trips. The way that God works in their hearts. The way that students see the world around them in a different light. The way that God continually shows that He is faithful. The way that God allows just enough tests to keep our hand firmly clenched in His, and just enough joy to keep us coming back again and again.

Over the next 48 hours I'll be packing my personal items, spending time with my family, going to a few graduation open houses, packing with our entire Operation Central America team, participating in a team send-off service, and going to church on Sunday morning where we will have a very special ten:fifteen class that is devoted to mission trips. We'll attend church together as a team at 11:30, and then we'll board a bus. In all of that preparation it could be easy to leave God out of this thing -- to be so busy getting ready to do stuff for God, that we forget that He wants to do it with us. Please pray that we'll be ready to see God work.

In my last post I put information about our official Operation Central America blog. You can access it at One of our incredible students also has a blog that she has been working on for the trip for a few months. You can find her's at

I'll close with my favorite verse in the Bible when it comes to mission trips. It's two verses that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, and is always the prayer of my heart before these trips:

"I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."
Romans 1:11-12

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Operation Central America

In ten days 59 of our students and staff will be taking off for Operation Central America. Sarah Bancroft has created a blog for this trip. You can access it at Check it out.

Here is a little bit of information about where we are going, and what we'll be doing.
About Our Ministry Locations

Campur, Guatemala – Campur, Guatemala is a community of 65,000 people located in the rainforest of Guatemala, about 1 ½ hours away from Coban, Guatemala. The Coban region is famous for its coffee. German settlers began large coffee plantations in Coban in the 1800s, and evacuated the area during World War 2. Campur is a Mayan community. The indigenous people are mostly farmers, growing cardamom, a spice that is exported to the Middle East and Scandinavia, corn, which is used for their famous tortillas, and coffee which is exported around the world. The farmers work in co-ops in order to gain the greatest income for their crops. Wooddale’s relationship with Campur began in 2004. We work with Viva Abundante Church, which is pastored by a woman named Isabelle. Isabelle is known around Campur for her heart for the people, and her sacrificial commitment to them. In the past two years OGES teams have built four homes, installed water filtration systems, provided solar powered lighting and ministered in a variety of ways amongst these beautiful people.

Siguatepeque, Honduras – Located about 40 kilometers from the famous Mayan ruins of Copan, Honduras, Siguatepeque is a thriving community of around 75,000 people. The towns around Siguatepeque are not so fortunate. Poverty rules the outlying rural areas. This year’s Operation Central America team will help construct a church building for Ministerio Christiana Canaan. This church is located in Via Cruz Grande, a community that is full of children who are too poor to go to school and many times do not have enough food to eat. Pastor Kolmar hopes that after the church has been constructed, a school can also be started and that the church can begin a strategic partnership with Compassion International. This will allow the children of the village to be fed, educated, and to hear about Christ. The church already ministers to 250 children and 90 adults on a weekly basis. This is the only church in the community. We will also be working alongside Iglesia Bethel, an established church in Siguatepeque with a strong school and long term ministry in the area. Pastor Hugo Tobar shepherds this congregation. Finally, we will be constructing bunk beds and painting a home for missionaries and pastors to use.

Copan, Honduras – This year’s R & R will take place in Copan, Honduras. We will stay at a beautiful resort with a water park, horseback riding, athletic fields, restaurants, game room, and a beautiful chapel that we’ll use for team devotions. Copan is most famous for its 1,500-year-old Mayan ruins. We’ll take a tour of the ruins and learn about the Mayan people, an amazing culture whose descendants we will be working with throughout the trip. On the tour you’ll learn about 18 Rabbits, Smoking Rabbit, Smoking Jaguar, and the other kings who ruled this Mayan community. Be prepared to be absolutely blown away!

Huehuetenango, Guatemala – Located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, Huehuetenango is another new ministry location for the Operation Central America team. We will be partnering together with Willie Peralta, a Sepal missionary who is passionate about seeing the Mayan tribes in the area come to faith in Jesus Christ. Willie will bring together three churches to house our team and partner with us in our different ministries. Willie is actively working with Bible translators to see the Mayan people be able to have the Bible in their own language. At least six Bible translations are being worked on right now for the people in the villages that surround Huehuetenango, because each Mayan tribe speaks a unique language. The city of Huehuetenango is made up of around 75,000 people, with thousands more living in the outlying communities where many of the Mayan tribes call home. Huehuetenango is home to another set of ancient Mayan ruins, known as the Zaculeu ruins.

Antigua, Guatemala – Once the capital of all of Central America, Antigua, Guatemala is now known as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It is unique for its well preserved Colonial architecture. The city is a menagerie of colors with each building on a street a differing shade of pastel hues. You’ll enjoy a night at the beautiful Hotel Antigua and a day of shopping for traditional Central American goods. Antigua is surrounded by dormant volcanoes and is absolutely breathtaking. You’ll meet fellow tourists from all over the world during your stay in one of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Graduation Season

It's one of the most bittersweet times of the year for a youth pastor. In one sense, you are excited for the students that you have spent the better part of their high school experience mentoring. On the other hand, there is a part of you that wants to hold on and say, "Hey, wait! I'm just getting to know you. I've loved sharing your life with you. Can't you just stop growing up now. Don't go!"

It's graduation time again. And that means our ministry, like thousands of others across the country will be saying, "Good bye," to our senior class. It's going to be hard to let them go.

Last night we held our annual baccalaureate service. Here is what I shared with our students and parents.

When he was the President of the United States, George Bush, Sr. began the Thousand Points of Light Foundation. It was an organization whose purpose was to increase the level of volunteerism in America. President Bush believed that people getting involved in the service of others would have a positive effect on them, and the people they served, thus making America a stronger nation.

It was about that time that President Bush came to the university that I attended to deliver the commencement speech for the graduating class that preceeded mine. Like most students I was excited at the prospect of President Bush visiting our university. I'll never forget a line that the President gave in his commencement address. He said, "Here at Liberty, you've shown how a 1000 points of light can become a galaxy of stars working to make a difference in your own backyard. And now, let America follow your lead."

Jesus liked to talk about light too. And when He referred to light, He was talking about you! In His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Here at Wooddale, Pastor Anderson is fond of telling us, five or six times a year to, "make God look good." You, class of 2006, are the Light of the World. You have a responsibility as such to make God look good. I like what President Bush said, but I like what Jesus said better. In fact, I'd like nothing more than this to be said about you. "Here at Wooddale you've shown how dozens of young men and women with the light of Christ shining through them can make a difference. You have shone brightly. You have been used by God to draw hundreds of people to His son. And now, let our church, and the world around us, follow your lead!"

So, as you leave, leave as men and women committed to changing your world, by being image bearers of Christ to the world around you.

While in high school, I've shared with you the nine values of world changers on multiple occasions. These are the values that those who are committed to be light in this world will embrace.

Value number one is the everything principle. It's the idea that Christ is preeminent above all else. The wisest man to ever live said in Ecclesiastes 12:13, "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." Solomon knew that nothing in life is as important as God. So, whether you leave here to study medicine, law, accounting, music, art, education, ministry, or serve in the armed forces, keep God number one. You do what you do because of Him and for Him.

Value number two is excellence. God is honored when we do our best. Many of you have talked about the "senior slide." Some have even lamented that you senior slide began your sophomore year of high school. Don't let your senior slide be the excuse that you give for not giving it your best. In Genesis 1:31 it says, "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. (Incidentally, God's very good is better than our excellent). And there was morning and there was evening - the sixth day."

Value number three is that we become people who are "each other focused." That means that we care more about others than we do about ourselves. It is the antithises of the way that the world operates. In His Great Commandment, Jesus said, "Love your neihbor as yourself." Jesus cares about how we love the world around us.

Value number four is endurance. There will be many a time that you feel like chucking it all and giving up. May we be like the Apostle Paul who wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also all who have longed for His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Value number five is education. Many of you are moving on to institutions of higher education. And while that education is valuable, the principle of which I speak is the principle of being a lifelong learner. It is becoming one who is a student of the Word of God. When the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protege, Timothy, he wrote, "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). May we be students of the timeless truths of the Word of God.

Value number six is enterprise. That is, the ability to take risks. Sometimes God will call us to take incredible risks for Him. We need to be willing to do this even if the rest of the world scoffs. God is worth it. In Luke 17:6 Jesus said, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." Maybe the reason we don't see God work sometimes is because we are afraid to trust Him.

Value number seven is exercise. And, I'm not just talking about physical exercise. While God cares about our physical bodies, He cares too about our spiritual body. He wants us to take care of the bodies that Christ has given to us, and to the Body, which Christ has given to us. That means we are to exercise our spiritual gifts -- to use the gifts that God has given us to be a blessing to the overall body of Christ. I've told you all on multiple occasions that each one of you is special, with a unique gift from God to offer this church. As you go from here, do not leave Christ's church. Use your gifts in a local church setting wherever you go. You are so valuable.

Value number eight is ethics. Nothing will ruin your opportunity to be a light to the world as quickly as compromise. The spiritual road we walk is littered with the corpses of so many who have said, "I'll never compromise in my spiritual walk," only to find themselves and their names totally destroyed because of a series of wrong choices. There will be so many opportunities for you to make those mistakes in college, the work force, or wherever life's journey takes you. Don't let your name be one that is forever marred because of compromise. Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."

Our final value is evangelism. Nothing rings so dear to the heart of God as evangelism. He is absolutely passionate about it. Since the time you've been in Wooddale Senior High, close to 150 of your friends have become Christians. There are very few people that Scripture calls wise, but Proverbs 11:30 says this, "The fruit of the righteouls is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise."

And now, Class of 2006, may you let your light so shine before men, that they might see your good deeds, and praise your Father in heaven.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

It was 4:15 a.m. and the giggles had started. This morning, Breanna and Chrisopher decided to surprise Mom. Breanna had purchased 50 balloons and three rolls of crepe paper. In order for their mom to be taken by surprise, they decided that the 4 o'clock in the morning time frame would be the best time decorate the house. Dad was in on the gig. They had been planning it for days. When they went to bed last night, they made sure that their alarms were set and even went so far as to make sure that the dog was in her kennel with a blanket over it so that they would not wake her up. The plan was foolproof, except that they did not take into account their own propensity to giggle, and the propensity of balloons to make noise when placing them in a bedroom with sleeping people.

I heard them first. For fifteen minutes I layed as still as possible while they giggled, took multiple trips up and down the steps to gather more balloons, shined thier flashlight in our room, and whispered. It was great! And then, mom heard. And she too was still as the kids kept working. We finally got out of bed at about 4:45. The kids ran as fast as they could and hid in a corner of our living room.

Most nights I hate being awoken in the middle of a deep sleep. Not last night. Last night was a display of pure, unadulterated love for their mom. And, she's worth it!

I am truly blessed. I have the best wife, the best kids, and God has given me more than I'll ever need. Thanks God, for Cyndi. Thanks for my mom, and the role model that she was and is to me. Thanks for Cyndi's mom. She is a great mother-in-law. No, she's a great mom. God, help those families that are going through their first Mother's Day without a mom, and those who have never known what it means to have a mom.

Friday, April 28, 2006

If Napolean Met Chuck Norris

My friend Greg Stier is now blogging. You've got to check out this video from his Dare 2 Share Conferences in 2005-06. It's pretty funny.

Has There Ever Been A Better Web Site Than This?

You've got to check out my new favorite website. It's You can create subtitles to movies and send them to friends. I know it sounds corny, but try it. You'll love it!

Breanna and Chris to Appear in Drama

Breanna and Chris will be appearing in a drama together on Mother's Day weekend at Wooddale Church. They play a brother and sister. You can catch them at all six weekend services.

Shield A Badge

I found out about the coolest program today. It's called "Shield A Badge." As many of you know, I serve as a police chaplain for the Eden Prairie Police Department. I love this position because it gives me an opportunity to know the police officers and firemen in our community. They are some great people who have a dangerous job.

Shield A Badge is a program where every police officer in the Eden Prairie Police Department is given a prayer partner. The prayer partner is given the officers name and badge number and encouraged to pray for the officer throughout the year. You are allowed to write the officer on two occasions during the year, so long as you do not try to witness to the officer.

Most officers really appreciate and value this program. It means a lot to the to know that someone is praying. Would you consider being a part of this program? If you are interested, e-mail me at and I'll let you know how you can get involved. This involves a commitment to pray for an officer every day for an entire year. Make sure that you are willing to make that type of commitment before e-mailing me.

I'm on Ebay

Today is a strange day. You can now purchase something with my name in the title on ebay. Check this out, and bid on it:

There are only 3 left!

Reflections on The Awakening

Today marked the final day of Mission Impossible. For the past two weeks anywhere between five and 23 of us have been gathering together at 6:00 in the morning to watch a Rob Bell video, but more importantly to beg God to begin a spiritual awakeing inside of us that will spread throughout Wooddale Senior High, Wooddale Church, our area, our city, churches across the world, our nation and the world.

Here are some observations that I have:

1. Students continue to blow me away, even after fifteen years of youth ministry. I love the passion that they have to change their world, and to see God work through them.

2. Students can be prayer warriors. I have never heard such sweet and passionate prayers.

3. Students like sacrifice. They enjoyed waking up at 6:00 in the morning, because it was among other things a tangible way to show their love and devotion to God.

4. Prayer really does make an impact. We saw so many prayer requests answered in the ten days that we me.

5. This is important. We probably need to try to do this at least once a week throughout the year.

6. People need Jesus. They really do. That was shown again and again as we met. And, I need to be more grateful for what Jesus has done for me.

7. God will never say, "No," to a person asking for spiritual awakening in their own life. Jesus is moving in the lives of those who gathered.

8. I'm part of something really special here. I really do have one of the most incredible jobs in the world.

9. We have a great volunteer staff. So many of them came out at least once to pray, seek God's face, and encourage students.

10. Students today have it tough. They really do. It's not just a copout when they are making wrong choices. It's tougher to grow up today than ever before.

Will you join us in praying for a spiritual awakening?

Did You Hear About The One About The Farmer . . .

My mother-in-law sent me this story. Did you hear about the farmer in Australia that was losing his sheep? True story, he could not figure out why, but he had sheep that were disappearing every night from his pasture. So, he decided to put up electric fencing. The snake above is what he found. The huge snake had been eating his sheep.


Okay, I'm serious. I'm really thinking about doing it. Have you seen the gas prices? I paid $2.89/gallon yesterday. It's time for the economical solution. It's time for a scooter.

Did you know that most scooters get between 60-80 miles to the gallon? Did you know if a scooter is 49cc or below you don't need a special license to get one? Did you know that you can drive a 150cc scooter anywhere you want as long as you have a motorocycle certification on your drivers license?

So, yesterday I got the motorcycle book to study what I need to do to pass the test so that I can purchase a scooter. There is a little scooter shop that I've been to three times in the past two weeks. It's called Scooters Plus and it's located at 9060 Excelsior Blvd. in Hopkins. They let you test drive the little 49cc scooters and it's a blast.

I need your help, faithful blog readers. I'm between a few models of scooter. Which one do you like best. I'm leaning towards the Wasp. You can just describe the scooter in the comment section of the blog. The two sites on the internet where I am looking into scooters is These are the ones they sell in Hopkins. Or,, where you can purchase a scooter, tax and delivery included, for as little as $899. You can't beat that!

Rachel Patil to Give Faith Story

Rachel Patil, a Wooddale Senior, will be giving her faith story in all of the services this weekend at Wooddale Church. Make sure you come out and support Rachel as she speaks. And, keep Rachel in your prayers. This is a big deal. It's not easy to speak in front of thousands of people. Pray that God will speak through Rachel in a powerful way, and that He will use her faith story to make an impact on tons of people.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Choose Your Top 3 Interview

There is an interview with me about my new book Choose Your Top 3 at When you go to the site look for author interview and click the link. It plays in Windows Media Player.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Freeset Bags

Imagine that you were a young woman growing up in India. Your life was hard. It was difficult for your family to make ends meet. Just having enough money to put food on the table was a daily struggle. And then, some men come to your home. They promise you a job that is lucrative enough to support your family. It's an honest business. You'll be treated well.

The offer sounds too good to be true, but how can you say, "No." So, you go. And, the job isn't what you were promised at all. It's not honest money. You are treated like dirt. You are no longer free. You are a slave in the sex trade. You are one of Calcutta's 6,000 prostitutes. Your life will never be the same. And, your family? They'll still struggle every day to make ends meet. And now, there is a hole in their hearts as they miss you.

Sounds awful, doesn't it? But, it's a reality that is lived out every day in the red light district of Calcutta. I was recently made aware of a minsitry that is taking a bold stance to free women from the bondage of prostitution. The ministry is called Freeset Bags. It's a company that literally frees prostitutes, allowing former prostitutes to work for higher wages than they would earn in prostitution. These women are taught a trade, become co-owners in the business, and most become Christians. You can learn more about this tremendous ministry, and how you can purchase their products at

Check it out. Using their products is one more way that we can be Christ in this world.

Monday, April 17, 2006

New Favorite Blog

Have you checked out the 268 blog? It's the official blog of the Passion movement, Louie Giglio, and the 268 generation. They put some great stuff on it last week in preparation for Easter. I loved reading the posts tonight after a busy Easter weekend. How great to continue to focus on Christ's extravagant gift to us.

You can link to the 268 blog here:

A Hero's Visit

No film has ever moved me as much as much as Hotel Rwanda. In it, Don Cheadle marvelously plays the role of Paul Rusesabaginato, a hotel manager in Kigali, Rwanda, who through his bravery and conviction saved the lives of over 1,000 Rwandans during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. If you haven't seen the film yet, do it. It's on DVD. You can visit the official web site of the film here:

Since viewing this film, Paul Rusesabaginato has become one of my heroes. He's going to be in the Twin Cities this Wednesday night at the Barnes and Noble Book Store, 3225 West 69th Street,in The Galleria Shopping Center in Edina at 7:30 p.m. I won't be able to catch him, but I'd highly recommend you going to see him if you get the chance. He's an inspiration to me and has a powerful message that deals with how we can make an impact in areas like the Sudan and other hot spots around the world. I hope you'll check it out. He's also just publilshed a book entitled An Ordinary Man that I intend on reading in the very near future.

A Movement For Spiritual Renewal

The alarm went off at 4:55 this morning. I rolled over, hoping to catch a few more minutes of sleep. And then, at 5:05, I awoke.

Yesterday was Easter. Our Senior Pastor, Leith Anderson, preached a sermon called Easter Changes Everything. It was powerful. And, I wonder, will Easter change everything this year?

Two months ago I announced to our Senior Highers that we were going to go on a spiritual journey together the two weeks following Easter. That began today. Every school day, for the next two weeks, any student who desires is welcome to come to Wooddale at 6:00 a.m. to pray for spiritual renewal in their life, the lives of their friends, in our student ministry, in our church, and in our world. I prayed that we'd have two students show up today. (We've done minimal advertising on this one, and come on, these are high schoolers, are they really going to wake up that early to meet with God?)

I saw the first students at 5:55. By 6:05 there were twelve of them. Twelve students gathered for the purpose of praying for spiritual renewal. Twelve students ready to go on a spiritual adventure. Twelve students ready to discuss the deeper issues in life.

It's 10:08 p.m. I wonder what tomorrow will bring. I wonder what will happen a week from Friday when this is all over.

Twelve students. Isn't that what Jesus changed the world with? I wonder. Jesus, do it again!

Lord, these next two weeks are the start. Let our lives be all about You! Give us the courage to go where You call us to go. Help us to let go of the things that hinder our relationship with You. Use us for Your renown. You, and You alone are worthy of our praise. Your heart is what we long to see. Your eyes are what we long to see the world with. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Prayer Request

Chad and Christine Erlenborn are some of Cyndi's and my best friends in the world. Chad serves on Wooddale's pastoral staff with me. He is our Young Adults Pastor. This week they found out that their four year old daughter, Mikayla has leukemia. They were in Los Angeles on a family vacation when Christine began to notice abnormal bruising on Mikayla's legs. They took her to the emergency room, and after testing it was determined that she has leukemia. She is in Children's Hospital in Minneapolis right now. Please pray that God will heal. That God will bring understanding. That God will comfort. The Erlenborns have been making plans to move to Nairobi, Kenya in January of 2007, and their plans were made public in Wooddale's newsletter this weekend. These are difficult things to go through under normal circumstances, let alone when you have been planning for major life change. We're trusting God for a miracle. Join us in praying.

Via Dolorosa

Holy Week begins tomorrow. We'll remember the triumphant entry of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We'll remember the events of the week that led up to Calvary. We'll remember the Last Supper, and the Garden prayers. We'll remember the mock trials, the scourging, the abuse. We'll remember the walk to the cross and the when God turned His back on God. We'll remember the words, "It is finished!" And, we'll remember Joseph of Arimathea. We'll remember stunned soldiers and gleaming angels. And we'll remember why our faith is true. Because, if Jesus Christ is God, and He is, the resurrection is true. And, it's the most significant point in the history of the world.

This week, I preached a sermon at Wooddale's Lenten Lunch service. It's called Via Dolorosa, and I thought I'd post it here:


My family and I just returned from a road trip to Colorado. It was wonderful! There is nothing like the crisp mountain air on a spring morning to make you appreciate the creative power of God. I found myself wondering a lot on this trip. I wondered at the vastness of Pike’s Peak. I wondered at the beauty of a herd of antelope on the eastern plains. I wondered at the majestic sunsets over the Rocky Mountain range. I wondered at the God who created all that I saw -- the God whom we celebrate this Lenten season.

As I drove the thousands of miles and stared at the beauty surrounding me I thought about this message. And as I wondered I was reminded of the carol that we sing at Christmas, I Wonder As I Wander. For as I wandered Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa highways I had a lot of time to think, to reflect, and to wonder at just what our God did on that sacred day, 2000 years ago.

It’s what we’ve been doing for these past several weeks of Lent. Chad Erlenborn has taken us on a journey. We’ve experienced the Last Supper, and the Garden prayer, the mock trials, and the Roman scourging. We’ve moved through the evening that changed the course of history forever. And this afternoon, we come to the Via Dolorosa -- the way of suffering that our Savior took from the scene of his trial to a hill called Golgotha.

The Via Dolorosa is a street in the Old City of Jerusalem. Over the years speculation has developed as to just what happened as Jesus moved along the streets of Jerusalem, from his trial to Golgotha. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the current route with the fourteen stations of the cross began to be taught. Most of the Via Dolorosa route is speculation. For instance, we have no evidence from Scripture that Jesus ever fell with the cross. There is no evidence that Jesus stopped to talk with his mother on the route. There is no evidence that a woman named Veronica met Jesus on the route to Calvary. But, Jesus did take a walk with His cross. And it makes me wonder.

I wonder what it was like for Jesus. The day had been unlike any other. For, it was today that the Son of God would usher in a new covenant. Did He have second thoughts? Did He want to tell his disciples more as He dined with them in the upper room? Did He want to pull Judas aside and ask, “Are you sure you want to do this?” Did He hurt when Judas betrayed him? Did He wish that Peter wouldn’t deny Him? Was it his omniscience clashing with his humanity that made him sweat drops of blood in the Garden? Did he have a conversation with the angels that came to minister to Him in the Garden? Did He, in his omniscience think about you and me personally when he prayed in the Garden? Did He have second thoughts about those He chose to be his disciples? How could He have loved Pilate and Herod and the religious leaders, the soldiers, and Judas, and Peter and me? And, that’s just the start!

You see, I became a Christian when I was four years old. It was Easter Sunday. Sitting on my backyard swing set, I wondered. I wondered about the mystery of the resurrection. I wondered about the love that Jesus demonstrated when He died for you and for me. I wondered about forgiveness. And, I believed. But, I haven’t stopped wondering. Isn’t it amazing that even after years of following Christ, and the way that so many of us are familiar with the story, the Passion of Jesus can still make us wonder.

Jesus began down the Via Dolorosa immediately following a mocking from soldiers that was cruel and ugly. Mark 15:16-20 records the event:

“The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.”

Chuck Swindoll writing about this event said, "But the suffering would not end here. Cruel soldiers, who have circled around Christ's bloody body like vultures, move in to pick at the remains. In raucous sport, they place a robe on Jesus. But not a long, flowing robe. The Greek term used is chlamus, a short cloak worn over the shoulders. Standing there, naked from the waist down, Jesus becomes the object of their vulgar remarks. Each tries to top the other's joke. Each takes his turn, spitting on Him. . . cursing His name. . . slapping Him with the reed. . . punching His raw chest with their fists. Him, upon whom God would soon bestow a name that was above every other. Him, at whose name every knee would someday bow, of those who are in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth. Him, before whom every tongue would someday confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11). But for now, humanity offers this king only spit. . . expletives. . . and fists."

This is what we know of Jesus walk. He began by carrying the cross. John, the only disciple to be present at the foot of the cross writes in John 19:17, “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).”

Matthew, Mark and Luke all record that not long after Jesus began walking with his cross He was relieved of that duty. We’ll go back to Mark’s Gospel in chapter 15, verse 21, which says, “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.”

This has led to speculation over the years that Jesus collapsed under the weight of His cross. That, He, being beaten perhaps more than any man in the history of the world, could not physically carry His cross. You’ll remember that Chad Erlenborn spoke of the scourging that Jesus received. His back had been torn open. Jesus organs would have been exposed. The abuse that the soldiers placed upon Jesus after His execution sentence had been handed down was awful. They put the robe on his bleeding back and then tore it back off. Any of us who have had open wounds can imagine that pain that this must have inflicted. And then, Jesus was forced to carry his cross. History tells us that Roman crucifixions required the prisoner to carry the cross beam. The upright beam was generally kept in the ground where the crucifixion would take place. The crossbeam weighed about 110 pounds. No wonder the soldiers needed to look for someone else to carry Christ’s cross.

And that makes me wonder.

I wonder what it was like for Simon of Cyrene.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all speak of Simon. But, Mark speaks of him with a certain air of familiarity. Mark knew that his readers would recognize Simon. He was after all the father of Alexander and Rufus. Which makes scholars conclude that Alexander and Rufus were leaders in the early church.

Simon was from Cyrene, which is modern day Tripoli, Lebanon, in North Africa. He was in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. It wasn’t very often that a Jew from another region of the world could make the trek to Israel to celebrate Passover in the Holy City. It was expensive and an honor that happened perhaps once in a lifetime. So, this was no doubt a very special trip for Simon and his children.

It’s possible that Simon had heard about Jesus. Word was spreading throughout the ancient near east world of this teacher or prophet or miracle worker. And, if Simon had been anywhere near the vicinity of the Via Dolorosa in the past few hours he may have heard the chants as the crowd shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The city would have been abuzz at all that was happening.

I wonder if Simon had caught Jesus’ eye as Jesus was walking past him. He certainly caught the eye of a soldier who was looking for someone to carry the cross of Jesus. There is speculation that Simon would have stuck out because of his dark skin. The soldier would have been looking for someone who was not Jewish, because asking a Jewish person to carry the cross of this criminal would have escalated an already tense situation.

Simon, a practicing Jew living in Africa, was an easy target.

I wonder what Simon was thinking. I wonder if his boys were worried. I wonder if Simon and Jesus spoke as Simon carried the cross of Jesus. I wonder.

All who knew Jesus knew of His love for children. I wonder if Jesus shuddered at the thought of children being on that road. I wonder if Jesus spoke to the children as He walked. I wonder if Jesus offered them assurance that everything was going to be alright – that this must happen. Alexander and Rufus were Roman names. Names of great Roman military leaders. Names that carried a lot of expectation. I wonder if Jesus thought about how this day would change Alexander and Rufus forever. If he thought about how these boys would live up to their names in ways that their parents never dreamed of.

This day changed them. It marked their life forever. They would forever be known as the boys of the man who carried the cross of Majesty. Within forty years they were leaders in a movement that has literally transformed the earth. They were leaders in Christ’s church. Scholars believe that Acts 11 and 13 speak of Simon and his leadership in the church at Antioch. In Romans 16:13, the Apostle Paul writes, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.”

I wonder what it was like for the women who were mourning. They are really the only other people mentioned in the four gospels. You’ll read their story in Luke 23:27-31. “A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" 'For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

Perhaps it is because they had never seen a man beaten to the extent that Jesus was. Perhaps it was because they were embarrassed at what their fellow countrymen had done. Perhaps they were true followers of Jesus, and it saddened them to see Jesus in this state. Whatever the reason, Jesus addresses them. And, he puts the entire scenario into perspective. It wasn’t really Jesus who needed pity at all. It was us. Dawson McAlister writes, “He understood that He was facing the cross in love, dignity, and honor, and in just a few short days would rise triumphantly from the dead. The people who really needed pity were those who had rejected Him and were responsible for this cruel event. Jesus predicted the horrible things that would befall the Jews because of their rebellion against God. God’s judgment upon Israel would be so severe that childless women would be glad they were childless because they would have one less sorrow to bear. Jesus pointed out that people would be in such agony that they would cry for the mountains to fall on them.”

Jesus was right. Within a generation Jerusalem was overthrown in one of the worst massacres in history.

The women must have found Jesus’ words strange. Even in the shadow of the cross, Jesus’ heart was all about others.

There’s one more group I wonder about. I wonder about us. I wonder if we’ve caught the significance of the Via Dolorosa. I wonder if in the days following the resurrection, when the disciples pondered all of the events of the past three years, if they remembered the words that Jesus spoke to them at the beginning of their ministry. The interaction is found in Luke 9:23-24. “Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus calls us to do the same thing that He did? You want to follow Christ? Then we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him. Those who followed Jesus had hardship. All but one of Jesus disciples was martyred for his faith. The persecution of the early church is well documented. But, all of it was worth it. Why? Because, life with Jesus is far better than life without Him.

Many of us look for the easiest path. We want what’s best for us. Here’s the secret. Your best life is follow Christ, wherever He may lead you. It’s not always the easiest path, but it’s the best.

The Via Dolorosa is called the way of suffering. May we believe that when Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow Him it’s worth it; for there is no one more worthy of our trust!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Integrity Online

I did it. I broke down. I joined the myspace revolution.

Why? Because we probably have about 150 of our students at Wooddale on the sight. Myspace can be a dark place. I'm blown away as I read the things that our students put on the internet for anyone to read. At our Student Ministries staff meeting on Monday we decided that all of the pastoral and program staff would enter the myspace world by April 5.

I can see why myspace world is so addicting to students. In the span of about 12 hours I've had 53 people add me as "friends." Talk about affirmation! I found an old friend from college that I haven't talked with in 15 years and got caught up on his life. It's pretty cool. But, parts of myspace reek of inauthenticity. And the desire to continually go back and check your page to see who has added you as a friend, or who has left a comment, or who said something about your picture is a genuine trip down ego lane.

My wife and I talked before I entered myspace land, and agreed that there was something else that I'd better finally do too. If I was going to spend time in myspace world, I'd better have a better system of online accountability. So, today I signed up for Integrity Online. It's a free program offered by Now, while I'm searching online, Integrity Online is discretely recording every web site I visit. If there is any chance that a web site has objectionable content, that site is recorded in the computer's program. Then about every two weeks, my wife will receive an e-mail. That e-mail tells her any potentially objectionable sites that my computer has gone to. Talk about accountability. I'm pretty excited. And, unlike many other similar programs, this program is free.

There is no excuse for men who want to live a life above reproach to not install this software on our computers. I hope you'll give it a try.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Prayer Request

I rarely put a prayer request up to ask for healing, but our family has just been hammered over the past month. Everyone has been sick. Breanna, Cyndi, Chris and I have been throwing up this week. Zach has congestion that won't go away. Jeremy has been our trooper -- staying well for most of this time.

Would you please pray for healing for us. This illness is just dragging on and on. We are scheduled to go to Colorado next week for spring break, and it would be great to be feeling completely healed by then.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Churches Starting Churches

I'll be a part of Wooddale Center's Churches Starting Churches seminar this weekend. It's a great event. If your church is thinking about starting a church, check out this seminar. It's offered regularly through the Center. You can find out information about the event at

Saturday, March 11, 2006

If God Is For Us

When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.
Deuteronomy 20:1

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:28-39

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

I was reading a passage in the book of Deuteronomy the other day and came upon a verse that I had never noticed before. It is tucked away in the first verse of the twentieth chapter. God, speaking to Moses says, "When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, will be with you."

Can you imagine how encouraging those words must have been to Moses? God was guaranteeing victory for the army of Israel. It didn't matter who the foe was -- Israel was going to win. The army is bigger than yours? Don't worry, I've got it handled. The army has more weapons than you do? No sweat! I'm God, remember. The army has more intelligent leaders than you do? Who's really in charge in here anyway, Moses? Moses had nothing to fear, because God was with him.

Do you realize that God is with us too? If we are God's children, we truly do have nothing to fear. Knowing our propensity to fear, God offered some reassurance to New Testament believers in Romans 8. It's one of the most powerful statements of God's love for those He has called to be a part of His family. The Apostle Paul, speaking through the inspiration of God, describes the predestined sons and daughters of God, and then asks, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Think your enemy is enough to separate you from God's love? Think again. Think that hard time you're going through is God's rejection of you? Think again. Think God's taking the devil's accuasations against you sitting down? Think again. Think that if you lost everything you have in this life that God hasn't blessed you? Think again. There is nothing that this world can throw at you that can separate you from God's love. If God is for you, who can be against you?

A couple weeks ago, our Operation Central America team had their prep retreat. It's something we do to help them prepare for what they will face this summer in Guatemala and Honduras. On Friday night, we told the students that in one hour they would be traveling to the heart of Minneapolis. They had two assignments. The first was to find a complete stranger, talk with them, and through their communication to find a practical need that they could meet in that stranger. I wish you could have seen the students' faces! They were scared. Most of them didn't make it a habit to talk with strangers, let alone find a way to meet their needs.

The second assignment was to find a stranger and have a spiritual conversation with them. Now they were really squirming! It's one thing to meet a physical need, it's quite another to have a spiritual conversation with someone.

When I finished giving them their assignments, I read them Jesus' words from Matthew 28:18-20. It's his admonition to His followers to make disciples. Do you remember God's promise tucked away at the end of verse 20? He says, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

The students were a little hesitant about their assignments. They talked at their tables, and then on their bus about how they would accomplish their tasks. When we arrived in Minneapolis, something wonderful happened. God, Who is always there, showed His power. He was with a group that talked with an older woman and helped her with a purchase. He was with another group that shared Christ's love with a Russian imigrant over a meal of tacos. He was with another group as they prayed with a man going through multiple issues.

So, here's the deal. God has promised us that He is with us. We are His. Nothing in the world will ever separate us from His love. I find that Christians are more afraid of evangelism than just about anything else. We are afraid of offending. We are afraid that we'll say the wrong thing. We are afraid that people will think we are pushy. We are afraid that we just won't be effective. We think that we don't deserve to share the good news of Jesus Christ because we are hypocritical. We think that we are too ignorant of our faith. We think that there is someone else who could do a better job than us. We think ourselves into spiritual lethargy!

There's an old Nike slogan that said, "Just do it!" It's time for us to start believing that God is who God says He is. That He is with us. It's time to just do it! After all, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Friday, March 10, 2006

Podcast Help

We've recorded the first two episodes of the Wooddale Senior High Podcast! They're really good! We are so excited about how God is going to use this tool in our ministry. But, we're having a little bit of trouble. How do we get this thing up on the net so that iTunes can read it? If you have any idea on how to do this please get in touch with me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pass the Salt Listed on The Ooze

The Ooze, one of the Internet's leading blogs on the emerging church has just put Pass the Salt on their links of blogs. This is way cool!

You can find Pass the Salt on The Ooze Blog's personal blog listings, right here: There are a lot of voices in the emerging church dialogue, and I'm honored to be one of them. Pass the Salt can also now be linked to at This is a really special honor as well. It's a list of 4,000 eclectic, off the beaten track, Christian web sites.

She Did It Again!

My daughter keeps blowing me away! She has created a number of poems this week. And, she started a new blog spot for you to check them out at. Check out Breanna's greatest works at!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Silent Hero

My daughter wrote the most beautiful tribute tonight to our nation's soldiers. It is so amazing that I had to share it with you all.

Silent Hero
By Breanna Schulenburg
In ten seconds you're a military man
In eight seconds more you're a kid's number one fan
Then just a minute later you're fighting left and right
And there's no time to think about your personal plight
When the guy next to you falls down
And there's no one else around
You slowly take a stand
For your life and this man's
Then one hour later
You just want to go on home
But your duty is calling
And you fell so all alone
The ground that you walk on
Seems to sink under your feet
And you're following orders
Even when you're tired and beat
But you're doing your duty in the darkness of the night
And even when you're lonely
You won't give up your fight
And you stand up
For liberty and justice
You take the fall
And for one nation under God
You risk it all
And then a couple years later
When the war is over and done
All that's left are stories of the battles you fought in and won
And then two seconds later
Duty calls again
And then you lay it all on the line
To be your country's friend
A secret silent hero
That few might know about
But in the end you show them
What courage is about

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Wanna See Something Really Cool?

Check out this post on my sister's blog

The Five Fingered Prayer

I saw this on someone else's blog and cut and paste it here. It's really kind of cool.

Five Finger Prayer
Written by Laura Welch

1. Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers bypraying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S.Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includesteachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction.Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain.They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively."

Myspace Alternative

I was on my sister's blog today and noticed that she had joined an alternative to myspace. It's called, and doesn't have a lot of the objectionable stuff that sometimes comes with myspace. It's worth checking out. I was actually pretty impressed with what I saw.

Google Picture Post

So, I've been home sick for the past few days, and I'm getting a bit stir crazy. I ran across another person's blog where they did a Google Picture Post. I thought I'd give it a try. If you want to do the same thing, go to Google and do a Google picture seach on the following things. See what you come up with.

1. The City and State you grew up in, no quotation marks.

2. The City and State you now live in, no quotation marks.

3. Your name, first and last, no quotation marks.

4. Your Grandfather's name, first and last, no quotation marks.

5. Your favorite food.

6. Your favorite scent.

7. Your favorite vacation spot.

8. Where you vacationed growing up.

9. Favorite Sports Team

10. The college you attended.

11. Favorite activity to do with your kids.

12. Another Grandparent's Name, First and Last, no quotation marks.

13. Favorite Drink.

14. Favorite Motion Picture

15. Favorite Mode of Transportation