Thursday, January 31, 2008

To Tell The Truth

Psalm 119:163 - "I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law."

Tomorrow morning I'll be speaking at the chapel service for the junior high where my son goes to school. I've been asked to speak about honesty. One of the illustrations that I'll use is the story of Pete Rose. Pete Rose was my favorite baseball player as I grew up. He is the owner of baseball's all time hits leader record. I'll never forget the night that Rose broke Ty Cobb's record. I was a teenager, and Rose was my hero. That winter I had the chance to meet Pete Rose. I asked him to autograph a baseball card and a baseball for me. He did and I own the ball and card to this day.

A few years later, Pete Rose was banned for life from the game that he loved. He would be told that he could never play Major League Baseball, manage a team, coach, or be elected to the Hall of Fame. Why? Because he was said to have bet on Major League games. The rumors swirled that he had bet against his own team while he was the manager. Rose denied betting. He denied and denied and denied. For years Rose maintained his innocense. He was a victim of circumstance. He lied.

Rose would later admit to betting. He was hoping that his admission of guilt would pave the way for him to be reinstated into the game. But, the game is not very forgiving to those who are involved in making decisions in a game, and then betting on that game. Rose displayed falsehood. I was crushed when Rose was caught cheating. And, I was apalled, because I thought that he was above that. "I'm certainly above that," I thought.

Years later I was involved in a couples Bible Study with my wife. I was serving at a church in Illinois, and we were talking about the need for openess and honesty in a marriage. I had become a pro at telling my wife that I'd leave for home right after work. 5:00 would come, and I'd continue working. 5:15? I was working. 5:30? Too often times working. I learned in that Bible Study that I was a liar. I was telling my wife one thing, with no intention of actually following through with what I told her that I would do. God hates that. It's falsehood. It's a lie. And, I, like my former hero, Pete Rose, was a liar.

How are you doing in the area of truth telling? Are you living your life in a way that glorfies God? Are you reflecting His truth to those around you? If not, let today be the day that you start telling the truth. After all, the truth will set you free.

Dear God,

Thank You that there is no falsehood in You. Help us to reflect Your truth. May our character be such that You are pleased.

In Jesus' name,


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Power of One

Psalm 119:162 - "I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil."

We had one of those special nights at The Garage tonight. It was a night where the Holy Spirit was at work in the lives of our students, and I watched and listened, and have already read e-mails tonight of how God worked. As I read today's verse I thought about our students.

David rejoiced is God's promise like one who had found a great treasure. Tonight, our students responded to God's Word in a similar way. It was an "Aha night." A night where the lightbulb finally clicked in the minds of a number of our students. We talked about spiritual leadership, and the leadership vacuum that there is in this generation. We talked about God's desire and passion for leaders. He is looking throughout the earth for those who will lead His church in the next generation. I believe that despite numbers that suggest the contrary, there is a generation of students that are truly longing to experience God. There is a generation of students that want to be the church. They want to be the kind of Christians that serve like Jesus served. They want to be the kind of Christians who are passionate about their faith. They want to live what they believe. But, they are afraid. They are afraid to stand out, or stand up. Tonight, I read an old poem by George Liddell. It says this:

Give me a man of God – one man,

Whose faith is master of his mind,

And I will right all wrongs

And bless the name of all mankind.

Give me a man of God – one man,

Whose tongue is touched with heaven’s fire,

And I will flame the darkest hearts

With high resolve and clean desire.

Give me a man of God – one man

One mighty prophet of the Lord,

And I will give you peace on earth

Bought with a prayer and not a sword

Give me a man of God – one man,

True to the vision that he sees,

And I will build your broken shrines

And bring the nations to their knees

I'm praying for more than one. But, if one comes out of The Garage tonight, our world will never be the same. I rejoice in God's promise, like one who finds a great treasure!

Dear God,

You are our Treasure. You are worth living for and giving our everything to. Help us to change this generation. Begin by changing us. Raise up a generation fo leaders who will impact this world by being Your church.

In Jesus' name,


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Ruler Like No Other

Psalm 119:161 - "Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word."

David was the King of the most powerful nation on earth. When the Israelite army marched into battle, nations feared them. They were a fighting machine, conquering nations and adding to the size of Israel with every victory. Opposing rulers hated David. He says in this verse that they persecuted him without cause. I'm sure they might have a different opinion of it. Either way it's interesting what David says in this verse about what causes him to tremble. It was not the leaders of other nations that caused him to tremble. It was the Word of God.

Has God's Word ever had that effect on you? It sure has on me. There are parts of the Word that I read and I can't help but tremble. I read Jesus' teaching on the sheep and the goats, and my stomach turns. It is hard to read about some who think that they are God's followers getting to heaven only to find out that who they were serving was not God. I read about the swift judgment that God bestowed on Annanias and Sapphira, and I tremble. I read about the stoning of Stephen and I tremble. I read about the cross and I tremble.

Our God is a ruler unlike any other. His very words can make us tremble. I often times think about what it would be like to spend quality time with various world leaders. I watch the presidential debates and wonder if the presidential contenders are intimidating figures. I wonder if I would tremble to be in their presence. This I know: that in the presence of God, even the most intimidating world leader would tremble. We will all have an audience with God some day. And, we will fall to our knees. May we not be like the goats; separated for eternity from God.

Read God's Word, and tremble! Read God's Word and rejoice! Read God's Word and let it change you! Our God is an awesome God.

Dear God,

You are a ruler like no other. Your Word challenges us and changes us. Thank You for Your precious Word.

In Jesus' name,


Monday, January 28, 2008

It's True!

Psalm 119:160 - "All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal."

Do you want to know something amazing about God? Okay, here it is: Everything that God says is true. Everything! There is no hint of exaggeration with the Almighty. When He describes streets of gold in heaven, He means it. The streets will be pure gold. When He says that He separates our sins as far as the east is from the west, He means it. And, when He says that He loves you just the way you are but that He isn't content to leave you that way, He means that to. In a world where people parse words, hold back words, and all too often tell lies, God's truth telling is refreshing and awe inspiring.

Dear God,

Thank You that there is no sense of pretense or malice within You. You are truth. You don't have one ounce of deceit in You. Thank You for Your impecible character, and help us to reflect that to the world around us.

In Jesus' name,


Sunday, January 27, 2008

A New Week

Psalm 119:159 - "See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your love."

I love Sundays! Today was a long day, but a good one. How awesome it was to be surrounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ throughout most of the day. As I read today's verse I think about days like this. David cried out that he loved God's precepts. I do too. His law is so good. They preserve our lives. And, they make life something that can be lived to the full.

As you go into a new week, praise God for who He is. Tell Him what you most need right now. Ask Him to use you in what He wants to accomplish this week. Commit to letting Him have control in your day, your week, this year. He wants to do great things through you. Let Him have control.

Dear God,

We ask You to take control. We invite Your Spirit to fill our lives. Use us to make an impact on this world for You. Give us the strength to follow You wherever You lead.

In Jesus' name,


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Faith Comes By Hearing

Psalm 119:158 - "I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word."

It's been a long day -- a long day, but a good one. We woke up at 5:30 this morning to get Breanna and Cyndi ready for the Eden Prairie Invitational Speech Tournament. It was Breanna's second speech tournament, and her first and only home meet of the season. (For the second week in a row, Breanna got fourth place in her division!) Cyndi was a judge at the tournament. They had to be at EPHS by 6:45 AM, and were not home until a little after 6:00 tonight.

Jeremy had a basketball game at 8:00 today. Chris had spent the night at a friend's house, so after a quick breakfast out with Jeremy and Zachary after Jeremy's game, we drove by to pick up Chris. From there it was on to the speech tournament, where the boys and I got a chance to watch Breanna's speech. Then it was back home for lunch, and back to EPHS for the award ceremony. When that ended we came back here for dinner and then Chris and I went to the Newsboys concert at Northwestern College in Roseville. We got home a few minutes ago.

When I read today's verse, I was reminded of something that Peter Furler, the lead singer for the Newsboys said tonight. Tonight's verse talks about the loathing that David had for those who did not obey the word of the Lord. Furler talked about an experience in his life where he walked away from church for a time. He began to doubt his faith. He wondered if God was even there at all. (His comments reminded me of some recent comments that I had heard from some of our seniors who had quit attending church.) Furler said that he doubted because faith comes by hearing the word of God, and he had not been in a place to hear it. He wasn't reading the word, and he wasn't listening to it. Romans 10:17 says, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

We become like the faithless that David talks about when we cease listening to the Word of God. Don't let yourself get to a spot where you are not in fellowship with God's people, or with God. You need others. You need God. And, you need His word!

Dear God,

Our faith is small. So many times we doubt You. And, instead of running to You, we run away. Help us not to be marathon runners who run the other way. Help us to be runners for life, who choose to run with You. You are our ever present help in times of trouble. You are our refuge and our strength. We need You. Help us to live like it.

In Jesus' name,


Friday, January 25, 2008

David Resolve

Psalm 119:157 - "Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes."

Several years ago I spent some time with Darrell Scott, father of the first Columbine High School victim, Rachel Scott. He is an extraordinary man. I was stuck by how a man, who had been through such pain in his life, could choose to still give glory to God in spite of that pain. A former pastor who went through a painful divorce, and then lost his daughter to an unspeakable tragedy, Scott decided to not wallow in his losses, but to try his best to make something beautiful out of the ashes. I'm not sure that I could have done what Scott has done. Scott has, what after 157 days in Psalm 119, I now refer to as David Resolve. That is that he has decided that no matter what the circumstances of his life, he will follow God. Columbine produced a number of martyrs. They were young Christian men and women who decided to stand up for Christ in the face of death. They too had David Resolve.

I wonder what it would take to get us to turn away from God? Maybe what we'd find is that like Darrell Scott and the Columbine martyrs that faced with the most difficult of circumstances we would stand firm. I hope that is the case. I want to be a man who shows David Resolve. I hope you do too!

Dear God,

May we be men and women who stand for You no matter the cost. Help us to live lives that bring glory to You and make You look good to the world around us.

In Jesus' name,


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Random Acts of Compassion

Psalm 119:156 - "Your compassion is great, O LORD; preserve my life according to your laws."

There's been a lot of talk in recent years about random acts of kindness. Steve Sjogren's tremendous book, Conspiracy of Kindness, put servant evangelism on the heart of churches all over the world. The feature film, Pay It Forward, made everyone watching it want to do something nice in the life of someone else. So, what if we added to the random acts of kindness and started showing random acts of compassion. The words kindness and compassion are similar, but they aren't exactly the same thing. Compassion carries with it the idea that unmerited favor is being granted on behalf of someone else. In fact, compassion is often times most effective when it is given to someone that no one else cares to offer compassion to.

I wonder who it is in your life that is most in need of compassion tonight. Isn't it interesting that Christians, to whom so much compassion has been shown by God, are often times seen not as agents of compassion, but as agents of judgment. Perhaps we need to rethink that strategy. Maybe it's time for us to be the first to extend the arms of grace to the person whose life has been reduced to a series of poor decisions. I love when I see a person showing compassion to someone else. And, when I don't deserve grace, I am blown away at the arms of compassion. So, today, why not try to find someone that you can show a random, or not-so-random act of compassion to? And, may God use you to be a blessing in their life.

Dear God,

You have shown us great compassion. Rise up an army of compassionate warriors who will take to the streets and show love and grace. Help us to show people Who Jesus is, because of what they see in us.

In Jesus' name,


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Congratulations Boelkes!

Our dear friends, Joel and Alayne Boelke got their first chance to hold their new little girl today. They have been waiting to adopt a little girl from China for over two years. The Boelkes are a part of our small group, and this is their blog. I think you'll enjoy reading about God's blessing in their life.

Far From Salvation

Psalm 119:155 - "Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees."

When you first read this verse it makes it seem like the wicked are a pretty hopeless group. After all, they don't seek out God's decrees, and salvation is far from them. It's a pretty sobering statement. Until you realize that all of us should be considered as wicked. Left to our own, none of us seek the decrees of God. We run after that which entices us. The beautiful truth of this verse is seen in the beginning of verse 156, which says, "Your compassion is great, O LORD."

If you have been redeemed by God today, thank Him. Thank Him for his grace and His mercy. Thank Him for His work of redemption.

He is good.

Dear God,

Thank You that You choose wicked people like us to be Your children. You are so good. We are blessed to receive Your salvation. Help us to share it with the world around us.

In Jesus' name,


PBS' Frontline Airs Program Every Parent, Youth Pastor and Teacher Should Watch

Last night PBS aired a special entitled Growing Up Online. It is a sobering look at the online world that our children our growing up in today. So much of the news you read about the online world can seem sensationalistic. This report is anything but. I'd encourage you to watch it, and consider watching parts of it with your children. There are some parts which are not suitable for children. You can watch the program HERE.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger's Death Is A Wake Up Call

Psalm 119:154 - "Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise."

Hollywood actor, and native Australian, Heath Ledger was found dead today in his Soho neighborhood apartment in New York City. His death will dominate news headlines for the next several days. Extremely talented, blessed with financial success, fame, and a little girl, Ledger seemed to have it all. Early speculation is that Ledger took his own life. It may have been an accidental overdose of prescription medication, but whatever the cause, people all over the world are asking the question, "Why?"

We may never know. I never met Heath Ledger, but I've read a lot about his life. He, like many celebrities got a lot of publicity. His September separation from Michelle Williams had to hurt. A friend of his told US Weekly earlier today that Heath was getting deeper into drugs. His friends were worried. He said they could see it coming. The only thing that brought Heath joy was his two-year-old daughter.

It's sad. I hate seeing people come to this point. I had a girl in my office recently who had come to the end of her rope. She was addicted to drugs, making horrible choices, and in her case not sure of what to do. I'm glad she reached out for help. If she hadn't, I'm afraid that she would have been in the same spot as Heath. Today, she is receiving treatment and care for her addiction, and more importantly is rediscovering the love and grace of her Savior.

There will be some Christians who will point fingers today and say that Heath is dead because he didn't have Christ. But, there are Christians that struggle with drug addiction too. There but for the grace of God go any of us. If today you have made it through life without addiction, praise God. And, pray for those who struggle. Pray for the millions of Heath Ledgers that are out in the world tonight and desperately need the grace and healing touch of our Savior. Maybe this is the week you say, "Enough is enough! Too many young people are making terrible choices in regards to drugs. I'm going to do something about it."

What can you do?

1) Pray. Pray for healing. Pray for a solution to the drug epidemic in the world. Pray for those who are caught in the grip of addiction.

2) Give. There are a ton of great organizations that are working with addicts. In the Twin Cities, Teen Challenge is a faith based organization that has worked with thousands of addicts. Consider giving a financial gift to help them in their ministry.

3) Volunteer. Maybe you think you can't make an impact in the life of an addict. You're wrong. Organizations like Teen Challenge, Tree House, and others could use people just like yourself to help. I can use people who are willing to mentor and come alongside of teenagers who are involved in drugs and need a positive mentor in their life.

4) Ask for Wisdom. God will tell you what your role should be. It may be something completely different.

David prayed that God would preserve his life according to His promise. Had Heath Ledger known God, and had Heath reached out, God would have reached back. Is it possible that Heath did reach out? Sure. But, he needed help. Sometimes God chooses to give that help through His people. Keep your eyes open. There are lots of Heath's around. There were dozens of people who died because of overdose today. The death of a famous person puts it in the forefront. Let's not forget the opportunity we have to be life preservers.

Dear God,

It's sad to read of the death of someone so talented and so young. It's sad to think that a little girl won't get to grow up with her Daddy. It's sad to think that there are dozens of people today who also died of drug overdoses. It's sad to see the toll that drugs has taken on our society. Bless Heath Ledger's family today. Surround them with people who know You. Let them experience Your grace. Be with his little girl. And, help us to have our eyes opened to the hurting. Preserve our lives according to Your blessing, and allow us to be a blessing to the world around us.

In Jesus' name,


Monday, January 21, 2008

Deliver Us!

Psalm 119:153 - "Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law."

"Why do bad things happen to good people?"

We've all heard that question, phrased in one way or another, several times in our lives. And, it causes us to wonder.

Just today I received an e-mail from one of my dear friends. This guy has been through it. Financial and health crises have eaten away at him, and I'm sure there are days where he wonders if God is really there. He is one of God's choice servants in this generation, but the spiritual warfare that he is going though is just intense. Like David, I think that he must cry out at night, "Look upon my suffering and DELIVER ME!"

Deliverance. It's a beautiful word. It carries with it the connotation of a prisoner being set free. And, like a prisoner, is how so many of us feel as we face challenges in our day-to-day lives. Sometimes God is the only one who can deliver us from the trials we are in. Today, you may need to ask for His deliverance. He wants to hear about your desires. He wants you to tell Him. Let God know that you need to hear from Him. He awaits. And, He is the ultimate deliverer.

Dear God,

You delivered Your people out of bondage to the Egyptians. You can deliver us from our bondage. Help us to trust You and to walk in Your paths. You are our Rock and our Salvation.

In Jesus' name,


Sunday, January 20, 2008

What Kind of Learner Are You?

Psalm 119:152 - "Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever."

What kind of learner are you?

In recent years a number of studies have been done in the area of learning styles. There are auditory learners and visual learners. There are experiential learners and those who learn best in the traditional classroom. I think I'm just a slow learner. You know, one of those people who needs to hear or experience the lesson a number of times before finally understanding it.

King David wrote about a lesson that he learned long ago in Psalm 119. It was an important lesson, but I'm not sure that David learned it right away. David's life story and the style of his writing indicates that while this is a lesson that he learned long ago, it wasn't one that was learned the first time he heard it. The lesson? God established His statutes to last forever. Is it an important lesson? Absolutely. Many of us try to take shortcuts in our walk with Christ. We read about His desires for our life, and we think that we can bypass those desires and live the way that we want to. Sometimes the results actually seem to benefit us. And, we ask, "What does God know?" But, anytime we choose to go against God's desires for our life, there is a cost. It may not be one that we immediatley pay. And, God, in His grace, may grant us mercy. But, in most cases, we will pay if we choose to ignore God's statutes. His law hasn't changed. God is passionate about us following Him. May we do so. And, may we learn the lesson of God's laws sooner rather than later.

It's been 152 days so far through Psalm 119. You'd think we would have learned the lesson by now. We may even be tired of reading about God's law. But, David was serious. He wanted us to understand the importance of holy living. He wanted us to understand how important God's law really is. I hope you are rediscovering God's perfect law. It's for His glory, our protection, and so that we can experience life to the full. May you be a fast learner!

Dear God,

Forgive us for being so slow in learning the lesson that You want us to learn. Your statues are good. Your law is for Your glory, our protection and so that we can experience life to the full. Help us to remember that. Help us to be quick learners. We want to be Your best students. Help us to pursue You.

In Jesus' name,


Saturday, January 19, 2008

God Is Here and God is There

Psalm 119:151 - "Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true."

You know one of the things that I love about God? He is here. He really is. And, He is with you. I'm in Eden Prairie, Minnesota as I type this. You may be in California, Guatemala, Australia, China, or another part of Minnesota as you read this and God is there. I love the doctrine of the omnipresence of God. And, I love the fact that Satan is not. He's not omnipresent. He's probably not here or there. Satan can only be one place at a time.

Yesterday's verse covered the fact that David was concerned that the evil were near him. There are always evil people around. If you believe in spiritual warfare, and Scripture teaches that there are demons at work behind the scenes, then we must believe that demons are around as well. If you are a Christian, a demon cannot possess you. But, they are mighty oppressive. And, isn't it good to know that as hard as they try to oppress us, God is here. God is more powerful than any of Satan's hoard. He wants us to know that He is here. He tells us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us.

I think it's possible for God to be present everywhere, but not be near to us. What do I mean by that? I mean that God is present, but His presence does not mean that we have a close relationship to Him. He wants that. He wants to commune with His creation. But, the Creator will not force the created to draw near. That is up to us. And, David knew it. That's why when his enemies were all around he was at peace. He was, after all, a man after God's own heart. "Let the enemies come after me!" David must have thought. "Let them hit me with their best shot! God is on my side. God is by my side. God is near!"

Aren't you glad?

If you don't know Christ, this would be the day to let Christ in. Draw near to Him. Confess your sins. Ask Him to be your Savior and Lord. Tell Him that You need what only He can offer. Draw near, and He will draw near to you.

Dear God,

Thank You for Your presence. In our dark days, we need You. We need Your peace. We need Your power. We need Your strength. We need Your mercy. We need Your goodness. We need Your gentleness. We need You. We draw near. And, we await.

In Jesus' name,


Friday, January 18, 2008

Another Friday Night in America

Psalm 119:150 - "Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law."

It's the weekend, and in the world of so many people that means that temptation is ratcheted up a notch. Tonight college students and high school students all across America will be faced with fierce pressure to conform at parties. Tonight will be a night where some married men and women will be tempted to stray. Tonight will be a night where a business owner will be tempted to cut corners. Tonight will be a night where thieves will attempt to rob. It's another Friday night in America.

The Psalmist said that those who devise wicked schemes are near. Things haven't changed much in 3000 years. There is no shortage of those who would seek to do that which is evil in the site of God. And, those people are far from God's law. But what do we do when the people devising to do evil are you and me? How do God's children battle the evil desires that well up within us. Lest we become too proud of our position in Christ, remember just how easy it is to fall into sin. We must walk through this life with our eyes open. Temptation is most powerful when it catches us unaware. We need to be held accountable. We need to walk our walk with people who will uphold us in prayer. We need each other. And, we need to be real with each other. May we not be the wicked of whom David speaks in this verse. Pursue Christ with everything that you are, and everything that you have, and everything you hope to be.

Dear God,

We want to be people who passionately pursue You. Help us to stand up to temptation. Help us to walk in Your ways. Help us never to be the evil ones that are spoken of here.

In Jesus' name,


Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Is Your Voice Saying To God?

Psalm 119:149 - "Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws."

I've been thinking a lot about prayer lately. And, one of the questions that I've had is, "What is my voice communicating to God?" Have you ever wondered that? David asked God to hear his voice in accordance with God's love. Perhaps he said that because he realized how out of touch with God's desires that his voice could be at times. I believe that is true in my life. And, yet, we know that as out of touch as our voice can seem to be with God's desires God still wants to hear it.

How do you approach God in prayer? Several years ago I was at a conference in California where Louie Giglio was giving a key note address. As he spoke, Giglio talked about how God was teaching him about how selfish Giglio's prayers were. We ask God to bless us, and we are already so blessed. We ask God to keep us safe, but God never promised us safety. Somtimes God calls us into the danger zone. We ask, ask, ask, and treat God like a cosmic genie. He is no genie. He is God. Sure, He wants us to ask, but that is to be balanced with the thanksgiving and adoration that God is due.

What is your voice saying to God?

Dear God,

You are our Holy, Sovereign God. Forgive us for coming to you with voices ready to talk, and ears shut. Help us to be people who are ready to listen to what You have to say. Help us to remember Who it is that we are talking with. Thank You that You care. Thank You that You want us to ask. And, thank You that You want to bless. Help us remember just how blessed we already are. And, help us to desire more of You and less of us.

In Jesus' name,


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Meditating While Keeping Watch

Psalm 119:148 - "My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises."

David, the King, was a soldier first. In fact it was because of all those that he had killed that God told him that he would not build the temple. He was used to staying up during the night. Soldiers would stand watch throughout the night, watching to see if the enemy was coming near. David uses the picture of staying up during those watches to speak of meditating upon the promises of God. What do you spend time meditating on? David understood the importance of keeping his mind fixed on the things of God.

As you go through your day today, meditate upon this verse. Think deeply upon what it is that God is trying to teach you. Spend time meditating uon some of your other favorite verses. Standing watch must be a harrowing experience. I've stood watch in a few capture the flag games and become nervous. I can't imagine standing watch in the middle of a battle. The fear could be crippling. But, David knew that the fear became less crippling when God was acknowledged. We need God to help us in life's darkest days. We need his guidance and His wisdom. Meditate upon His word today.

Dear God,

You are so good. Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light unto our paths, help us to follow it.

In Jesus' name,


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hope in The Word

Psalms 119:147 - "I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word."

Just a few moments ago, Senator Barack Obama declared that he was a Christian during the Democratic Candidate Presiential Debate in Las Vegas. He was responding to rumors that had been spread about him on the Internet. The rumors had been inferring that Obama was a Muslim who swore on the Koran and refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Obama said the following, "I am a Christian ... I have been sworn in with a Bible ... I say the Pledge of Allegiance. ... In the Internet age there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place. ... Fortunately, the American people are smarter than folks give them credit for."

I hadn't heard about the Internet rumors before this evening. But when I did, it got me thinking about the role of the Bible, and why leaders swear upon it. And it brought today's verse back to my mind. King David declared that he put his hope in God's Word. Perhaps our leaders, when they take an oath of office upon God's Word should think about the significance of what it means. Like Israel's greatest King, our leaders ought to put their hope in God's Word. We live in uncertain times. All generations have. God's Word brings stability in this era of uncertainty. It also brings hope for a future that is better than anything that we can imagine.

Put your hope and trust in God's Word. It is worth building a life upon.

Dear God,

Your Word is indeed powerful. It inspires the soul. It brings hope. It is that which makes most sense in a world that makes little sense. Help us to make it a priority in our lives. Change us according to Your Word.

In Jesus' name,


Monday, January 14, 2008

Access Granted

Psalms 119:146 - "I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes."

I want to focus on the first five words of this verse. Do you realize how amazing these words are? David had an opportunity to call out to the God of the universe. He had access to the Creator. He had access to the Almighty. He had access to the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He had access to the Holy One of Israel. He had access to his Heavenly Father. He had access.

This summer my daughter and I took a tour of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was a great day. We both love history and the Ford Museum is full of it. In the middle of the museum is an exact replica of the Oval Office. I lived outside of Washington D.C. for three years in the early 90's, but never saw the inside of the Oval Office. The Oval Office was reserved for those with access to the President. I don't have that kind of access. But, like David, I do have that kind of access to the throne room of heaven. I can call upon God! Me -- Brian Schulenburg! I'm a nobody. I don't deserve this kind of access. And yet, God gives it to me, and to you. I'm not sure that the President of the United States particularly cares what I have to say, but God does. He wants to hear from me. And, he wants to hear from you.

You've been granted access. What will you do with it?

Dear God,

I'm blown away that I have this chance to speak with You. It's You! It's really You! Thank You for loving me. Thank You for caring. Thank You for being there when I call. And, thank You for calling me. You are more than I can fathom, more than I can imagine. You are so good. Thank You for granting me access to You. Thank You.

In Jesus' name,


Sunday, January 13, 2008


Psalm 119:145 - "I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees."

We're just finishing up our Snow Camp '08 at Covenant Pines Bible Camp. It's been a great weekend. We didn't have any snow storms when we were up here, but you could say that I heard a lot about lifestorms. I know that it's not a real word, but I think it should be. A lifestorm could be defined as a difficult period or trial that one goes through, where it can be difficult to see God at work.

One of the highlights of Snow Camp is when our seniors share about what God is doing in their lives. This year will always stand out as one in which our seniors were particularly vulnerable. Many of them talked about their doubts. Many talked about the struggles that they have to believe that God is who He says that He is. And, many of them also talked about how they continue to seek God with all of their heart.

Like David, these young people are passionate about finding God. It's easy to forget God's faithfulness to us. A lifestorm can come our way and derail our walk with Christ. If it seeems like God isn't at work in the storm, then we let go of Him. But, God never lets go of us. God didn't let go of David and He won't let go of you.

If you are struggling seeing God in your life, do what David did. Plead with God, calling out to Him with all of your heart. God promises us that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:13). Seek Him, today!

Dear God,

It's hard to trust you when we go through the lifestorms. I don't know why that is. It should be that You are all that we can trust. You have shown Yourself faithful in the past, and You will in the future. Every breath that we have is a gift from You. Help us to remember that life is not about us, and all about You. May we glorify You in our lifestorms.

In Jesus' Name,


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Really Live!

Psalm 119:144 - "Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live."

How would you like to really live; to live your life with purpose, meaning, and fulfillment? It would be a surprise if you answered that question, "No." No one seeks to live life without direction. No one seeks to, but the majority of people do. How many people do you know that wander through life aimlessly, as though their direction in life is dependent upon whatever comes their way?

David sought to live his life purposefully. He wanted his life to please God. And, he wanted to live by the statutes that God had laid down. He sought God's wisdom. He wanted understanding. In fact, he wanted it so much that he said, "give me understanding that I may live." Was David saying that he would die without God's understanding? I don't think so. I believe that what David is trying to say here is that in order to truly live life in a way that was fulfilling, he needed to know God. He needed to know God's heart concerning him. He needed God's wisdom.

May that be the type of life that I long for, and that you long for. Let's be people who seek God's understanding. And, let's be people who live in a way that pleases Him by taking the understanding He gives and applying it to our lives.

Dear God,

Thank You that you grant wisdom to those who seek it. You promise to give wisdom and to give it liberally. Help us to please You. Help us to take the understanding that You give and apply it to our lives.

In Jesus' name,


Friday, January 11, 2008

Snow Camp Delight!

Psalm 119:143 - "Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight."

In just a little over an hour we are going to be taking about 100 people to Snow Camp '08. It's always a great weekend with our senior class providing leadership, sharing their faith stories, and seeing God work through them. I'm excited about what is going to happen, and woudl appreciate your prayers.

A few years back at Snow Camp one of our girls came up to one of our volunteer staff and told her that she was being abused by her stepfather. It was a very sad situation. She would be moved out of her home that weekend. One of the things that always amazed me bout this particular girl was that she was able to delight in God, even though she was going through the most difficult thing that I could imagine. Her view of God wasn't changed because of her life's circumstances. What amazing faith!

David displayed that type of faith as he cried out to God. Despite life's circumstances, David would praise God. And, God desires the same from us. May we shine for God, trusting Him, no matter the circumstances!

Dear God,

You are our delight! Thank You for being faithful even in the times of distress. Help us to remember Your faithfulness in the toughest of life's storms.

In Jesus' name,


Thursday, January 10, 2008

It Boggles My Mind When I Think About. . .

Psalm 119:142 - "Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true."

Have you ever had a time in your life where everything just seemed to click? It was as if nothing could go wrong. Maybe it was just for a few days; maybe it was for a few years; whatever the case, when you experience that you don't want it to end.

I've heard many people refer to their college years with such adulation. I graduated from a Christian university, and there was something special about the years that I spent there. For a few years, I was surrounded with opportunties galore to help me grow in my life. It was as if I was living in some kind of incubator, which allowed me to thrive.

Unfortunately life is hard. Those years don't last forever. Friends move. Loved ones die. Jobs don't go quite the way that you had hoped. Finances are struggle. Kids rebel. You name it, it can happen. Ant that's why Psalm 119:142 is particularly beautiful. Think about it -- everlasting righteousness. I could go for some of that today. It's a reflection of God's eternal character. He is righteous today, was righteous yesterday and will be tomorrow. And, that is someting that we can depend on.

I can hardly fathom the God that David speaks of here. I believe it to be true, and yet have nothing on earth to compare it to. Why? Because only God can display everlasting righteousness. The older I get, the more I long for the day that I will bask in God's presence; to never again have to fear, or worry, or sin, or be around sin. Praise God for His righteousness today. And, hope, dream, and meditate upon Christ's everlasting righteousness.

Dear God,

Thank You for Your everlasting righteousness. That which is everlasting is too big for me to get my mind around. And, yet, I know that your righteousness is true and your promises endure. Help me to live as your righteous servant in this day.

In Jesus' name,


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lowly and Despised Worms

Psalm 119:141 - "Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts."

This evening, we began a new series in The Garage (our weekly Wednesday night minsitry) entitled, Four Things God Dares You To Do. Tonight's lesson focused on the word commit. God desires our commitment.

Have you ever been really committed to something? I'm sure you have. Most people have several things that they are committed to. Maybe it's a job, or school, or your family. Maybe it's a sport or a hobby. In comparison to everything else in life, God wants us to be committed to Him first and foremost.

As we talked about commitment we opened the Bible to the book of Revelation. We read Jesus' words to two of the seven churches from Revelation 2-3. We concluded by talking about the Church in Laodicea. Read what John records in Revelation 3:14-22:

"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Did you catch the gravity of Jesus' words? Jesus told a group who thought that they had it all together that they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Wow! Talk about sobering!

David, understood the depravity of man. He announced to God that he was a lowly and despised man in Psalm 119:141. David was committed to rising above this low state by committing to follow God's statutes. What is it that you would need to commit to in order to rise abouve your low estate? I know that there are areas that all of us need to work on, but so does God. And, he loves taking the wretched, the pitiful, the poor, the blind and the naked and making them beautiful. To God be the glory for all the great things he has done; including taking each of us and transforming us from the spiritual worm into a new creation.

Dear God,

We want to commit. We want to move from being wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked to Your beautiful creation. Take our lives. Have them. Use them. And, change Your world.

What Are The Rights of High School Students on Facebook Anyway?

My daughter phoned me today to see if I had heard the big news. Eden Prairie High School, her high school, was discipling 13 students for pictures that appeared on Facebook. Everyone in school was talking about it. The news is talking about it too. Our local NBC affiliate, KARE 11 did a story that you can watch HERE. I borrowed their story's title for my title for this post.

It brings up an interesting question. Students at the high school are upset about what they feel is a violation of their privacy rights. Even the ACLU is agreeing with the school on this one. I'd encourage you to watch the story and let me know what you think. The big rumor tonight is that a walkout is planned by the student body. I'm proud of the administration at EPHS for taking a stand.

Eden Prairie High School principal, Conn McCartan sent the following e-mail to all parents late this afternoon:

"January 9, 2008

To Families of EPHS Students,

As you may be aware, photos were presented to us of some of our students in possession of, or consuming, illegal substances. Anytime we receive information that suggests a violation of school rules we investigate and take appropriate action based on the result of that investigation. We have not communicated with you on the results of this work until now because we did not conclude our investigations until today.

Upon receiving the photos, we worked to identify any current students. We consulted our district's legal counsel and the Minnesota State High School League to review the steps we should take. We interviewed every student in those pictures and based on the information we received, we took the appropriate action. The consequences students received depended on the information from the investigation and the rules governing the activities in which they participate.

In all, we worked with 42 students and administered some kind of consequence with 13 students. I share this detail with you because there has been so much misinformation regarding the scope of this issue.

Although, school officials did not go looking for these photos on student social networking sites, our interviews with students suggest that these may be posted on such sites. If that is the case, it gives me an opportunity to revisit some things I have shared with families in the past. These sites are not private places. Their content forms a permanent and public record of conversations and pictures. We do not go out looking at student social networking sites. We do however take action when we are given legitimate information about school or Minnesota State High School League violations.

This incident gives us a chance to have some important conversations with the young people we care about. We can talk about their choices around alcohol and drug use. We can talk about the conclusions people might make about them, their school, and their family based on how they are portrayed on social networking sites. We can tell them that there are consequences for the choices they make every day. While this incident has been a difficult one to work through, I hold out hope that the learning from these conversations will be what we carry forward.


Conn McCartan

We're blessed to have such great leadership at Eden Prairie High School.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

His Promises Are Trustworthy

Psalm 119:140 - "Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them."

A few years ago somebody gave me a book with many of the promises of God listed in it. It is one of the most encouraging books that I own. I don't turn to it as often as I should, but every time I do, I am blessed. I love the promises of God.

David did too. He proclaims in this verse that God's promises have been tested and that he loves them.

What are some of your favorite promises?

The book that was given to me was really just a list of verses from the Bible. Read Scripture and you'll see promises from God sprinkled throughout its text. God's promises include promises about His character, the future, and our lives. God's promises include His covenants to His people. His promises are beautiful, and they are for you. Discover them, today!

Dear God,

Thank You for your righteous promises. They are good, and we are grateful. They are always kept. Help us to reflect your character of trustworthiness as we make our promises.

In Jesus' name,


Monday, January 07, 2008

Spiritaul Exhaustion

Psalm 119:139 - "My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words."

This past week, our senior highers had a very special prayer service. It was a time for them to spend an hour with God in prayer. Before we went into prayer I read a passage from one of E.M. Bounds' classic works on prayer. Bounds lived from 1835-1913, and wrote so many great works on prayer. They are now available for free download at web sites such as: THIS.

In his classic book, Power Through Prayer, Bounds shared a quote from Richard Baxter. The quote had made an impression on Bounds. Baxter had once written, "Recreation to a minister must be as whetting is with the mower—that is, to be used only so far as is necessary for his work. May a physician in plague-time take any more relaxation or recreation than is necessary for his life, when so many are expecting his help in a case of life and death? Will you stand by and see sinners gasping under the pangs of death, and say: 'God doth not require me to make myself a drudge to save them?' Is this the voice of ministerial or Christian compassion or rather of sensual laziness and diabolical cruelty."

Wow! That is dedication. And, I think it's the kind of dedication that is lacking in many of us today. The world desperately needs Jesus Christ. And, it is our responsibility to make Him known. The Holy Spirit does the work of drawing people to Christ, but He uses us to share the message.

David's knew a thing or two about spiritual exhaustion. That's what we find him addressing in Psalm 119:139. His zeal for the Lord wore him out; especially when his oppressors wanted nothing to do with Christ. Walking with Christ will sometimes wear us out, but that shoud not preclude us from continuing to walk. Everything about Christ is worth following and sharing with the world. Let yourself get exhausted, He will refresh you!

Dear God,

Thank You for Your call to radical commitment. Help us be people who follow You no matter the cost. Refresh us when we are worn out. Give us zeal to keep on walking. And, may we always see the world with the eyes of Christ; with eyes of compassion and love.

In Jesus' name,


Back From Guatemala

I'm back from Guatemala a bit earlier than expected. On Friday night, on our way to Rio Dulce, we were involved in a two car accident. The SUV that we were driving was totalled, and the truck that we hit was damaged too.

Please pray for a Guatemalan man named Alfredo. He sustained some significant injuries in the crash. God's faithfulness was seen in the crash. Had we hit the truck a second sooner, it would have been a full head on collision, and I think we would have died. Alfredo had two passengers in his truck who sustained minor injuries. All four people in our SUV are dealing with back, neck and shoulder pain. It could have been so much worse.

Pray for our missionary, Jaime Lopez. Jaime was driving the SUV, and the accident is considered his fault. He was passing a semi on a two lane road, and skidded when he tried to put on his brakes. It had been raining. We ran right into the other truck. Guatemalan law is very different than U.S. law in this regard. The police came to the scene, and upon their arrival Jaime had six hours to rectify things with the family. In the end he had to sign a letter agreeing to be responsible for all of Alfredo's medical bills and truck repairs. The insurance did not do what thy were supposed to agree to. So, Jamie is stressed. Had he not signed the papers he would have gone to jail. That is not an alternative one wants to take in Guatemala.

We did not get to meet with any of the pastors or missionaries that we were scheduled to met with. So, please be in prayer for our summer trip as well.

I'll write more later, but we are grateful to be alive, and have heavy hearts for Alfredo and Jaime.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Trustworthy Beyond Compare

Psalm 119:138 - "The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy."

Don't you love it when something is trustworthy? I'm sitting in the airport in Houston, Texas right now, and I just got off a smooth flight from Minneapolis. And, I'm grateful that my plane was trustworthy. The pilot and crew did a great job; and like most days there will probably not be an incident in the air today. I think every air passenger at least thinks about the possibility that disaster could happen though. The statistics say that flying is by far the safest way to travel. When something tragic happens, the world generally hears about it.

The Lord is always trustworthy. It's not a 99.99999999999% accuracy rate. Christ is 100% reliable. He is righteous, and His law is fully trustworthy. Aren't you glad? No one compares. He is completely God!

Dear God,

Thank You that you are more trustworthy than anything here on earth. Nothing compares to Your majesty and glory. You are the one that we adore. Thank You for your faithfulness.

In Jesus' name,


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Off to Central America

I'm off to Guatemala and El Salvador tomorrow morning at 4:00 AM. So, I'm not sure when I'll be updating this blog next. I'm going to try to update daily, but I don't know what our Internet access will be like.

Keep us in your prayers. A group of three of us from Wooddale are traveling to Guatemala to set up the summer mission trip for our senior highers. It's going to be a number of long days, followed by a long week with mission trip interviews and our snow camp.

You Are Righteous

Psalm 119:137 - "Righteous are you, O LORD, and your laws are right."

We serve a righteous God. Aren't you glad? David begins his eighteenth section of Psalm 119 with a declaration that God and His laws are righteous. He will use the next several verses to prove His point.

So, how has God shown His righteousness to you? He has certainly proved it over and over again. It is because of His righteousness that we can even approach the throne of God. It is because of His righteousness that we can be made righteous. It is because of His righteousness that we can have forgiveness of sin.

Righteousness is not a term that we readily confer upon another human being. It is a term that is reserved for God. And, yet, God chooses to make righteous the unrighteous. We can't do it ourselves. It takes His work. And, that is something to be grateful for today.

As you go through your day, think about what it means to be made righteous. You, who, like me doesn't deserve the title, are given it by God's grace.

Praise be to God!

Dear God,

Thank You for your righteousness. Thank You that You take the flawed, the sinful, the scornful, and make us holy. You are good, and Your love truly does endure forever.

In Jesus' name,


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dry Eyes

Psalm 119:136 - "Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed."

Singer, songwriter, Keith Green died much too young. He was one of my heroes, when I was 12 years old. I was in Muskegon, Michigan in the Duneside Apartments when my Dad gave me the news that the plane that was carrying Keith Green had crashed. Keith was never coming back.

I think one of the reasons I admired Keith Green so much was that he was one of the most passionate followers of Christ that I had ever heard talk about Jesus. To a young boy, Keith was everything that I thought a Christian should be. He couldn't stand churches that weren't about evangelizing the world. I have a Keith Green CD that includes one of his sermons. In his sermon, Green lambasts churches who go an entire year without seeing a convert.

When I read today's verse I was immediately reminded of Keith. He wanted Christians to have tears in their eyes over the world around us. People going to hell should bring tears to our eyes.

Green wrote a song about it entitled, My Eyes Are Dry. Maybe you've heard it. The lyrics are below:

My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to you and dead to me

But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is you, your spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of your blood

May your eyes well up with tears! And, may mine too.

Dear God,

There is a world around us that is headed straight for hell. And, so often we think about that with dry eyes. So often, we sin, and we wink, not thinking about what our sin cost You. Help us to be people of tears; to be people with sensitive hearts toward a lost and dying world. Help us to reflect Your glory and Your grace.

In Jesus' name,


Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Psalm 119:135 - "Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees."

Last night we spent time with three other families, ringing in the New Year. It's a tradition that we have had for the past four years. We love being able to spend time with these friends. They are godly friends, with children the same ages as our children. And, they are people that we can be real with.

Last night our party host suggested that each of the adults take a turn sharing one word that described the past year. We then followed that up with an explanation of why we chose the word. After that, we each picked a word that we'd like to be able to use on December 31, 2008. We then described why we chose that word. It was a special time. After that, another one of the guests suggested that we make a covenant with each other. There are 13 children represented between the four families. We have covenanted that every Wednesday we are going to pray for all 13 children. It was a special time.

The word that I chose for 2008 was satisfied. I want to learn to be content with that which God has blessed me with. As I read today's verse, another word came to mind. It was the word; reflect. David asked for God's face to shine upon him, teaching him God's commands. If God's face truly shines upon us, then we will reflect him. The response that we read of in Scripture of those who encounter God is that they fall on their knees before Him. We read that they cover their eyes, because they can not look upon His glory. Wouldn't it be amazing if we shined so bright for God, that people did take notice? That we reflected His character? That we showed others His love in practical ways?

So, upon further review, yes, I want to be satisfied with how God has blessed me, but I also want to reflect. I want others to see Christ in me and in my family. And, I want to honor Him, as He continues to teach me His ways.

Dear God,

As we enter 2008, let us be a reflection of You. In an Old Testament blessing, Your priests would say, "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." We ask for that blessing in 2008. We plead with You to make Your face shine upon us. Help us to make an impact in this world. Help us to glorify You with our lives. Help our children to see You in us, and to desire You. Give us peace. Continue to act with Your gracious hand towards us. And, help us to reflect Your gracious hand and Your peace to the world around us.

In Jesus' name,