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!