We’re 43 minutes away from leaving the Wooddale Church parking lot for Operation Guatemala/El Salvador. Please keep us in prayer as we leave. Pray for team unity, health, that the Holy Spirit will prepare the hearts of those we minister to, that God will use this trip to change the lives of our students forever, and that we will be a blessing to those that we serve.
I’ll be leaving with a group of 50 people for the countries of Guatemala and El Salvador this Saturday. This group of high school students and adults has been training for ministry since January, and I can’t wait to see how God uses them, and how the people of Central America impact my students.
I am going to look for a couple of Internet Cafe’s while in Central America to update this Blog with information about the trip while we are there. That will not happen until we get out of the rainforest region of Campur, as there is no Internet service available in that region.
Here is our itinerary for the week:
June 25 – Arrive in Guatemala City/Depart for Coban, Guatemala
June 26 – Campur, Guatemala
June 27 – Campur, Guatemala
June 28 – Campur, Guatemala
June 29 – Campur, Guatemala
June 30 – Sonsonate, El Salvador
July 1 – Sonsonate, El Salvador
July 2 – Sonsonate, El Salvador
July 3 – Jutiapa, Guatemala
July 4 – Jutiapa, Guatemala
July 5 – Jutiapa, Guatemala
July 6 – Santiago, Atitlan, Guatemala (R & R)
July 7 – Santiago
July 8 – Guatemala City
July 9 – Depart Guatemala
To a group that he couldn’t wait to minister to, the Apostle Paul said,
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.
Have you ever noticed that some people will do anything for something that is free?
Today, Caribou Coffee is offering free Coolers from 1-3 p.m. only. I’m told that the lines are huge. People will wait in line for 30-45 minutes just to get a free coffee drink. I wonder how many people would rush to my office if I were to send out a mass e-mail that said, “Free Raisins In My Office from 1-3 p.m. only.” Probably not many, but I’m sure I’d get at least ten.
Oh, that people would rush to experience the free gift that God gives.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Sunday was Father’s Day. And, what a special day it was. My family made sure that Dad felt loved. From the time I woke up in the morning, until my head hit the pillow at night, I was showered with affection. Each of my children took turns displaying their love for me. From the scavenger hunt to find my gifts that my daughter Breanna sent me on, to the cards my children made for me, to the Somolian restaurant we went to for lunch, to the the hours spent fishing at Bryant Lake, my day was indeed special.
I think the thing I’ll remember forever about this Father’s Day though are little scribbles on folded paper. My four-year-old, Zach, was so excited about Father’s Day this year. From the time Mother’s Day ended, Zach has been asking about Father’s Day. When he found out it was only a week away, last Sunday, he began to work feverishly on cards. Not just one card, mind you, but many. He began placing the cards on the futon that is kept at the end of Cyndi’s and my bed on Sunday. By Monday, there were three cards. By Father’s Day, I opened at least a dozen cards. Every one of the cards were in an envelope. The papers were tattered and torn. The pictures were just scribbles really. But, his eyes. I’ll never forget those eyes. They looked up at me with such expectation. “Do you like it Daddy?”
“Yeah, buddy. I love it.”
When I told him that he used my favorite colors, he ran promptly to his room, drew another picture, making sure to use yellow, green, and blue.
Geoff Bohleen, Wooddale’s Outreach Pastor had preached a sermon earlier in the day about dads. His sermon talked about the importance of children having their Father’s approval. Zach’s eyes were a visible reminder to me of just how important that is.
Aren’t you glad that you’ve got God’s approval? Even if you’ve lived a less than perfect life, God loves you and desires you. The story of the Prodigal Son is really God’s story about us. We’re all prodigals in one way or another. Do you remember the story? One of two sons says that he wants what’s coming to him, his inheritance, now. When he gets it, he squanders it on wild living. After losing all that he has, and coming to his senses, the boy decides it would be better to return home and be a servant to his Father, than to live how he is living. So, he starts for home.
Read how Luke’s Gospel describes the scene when the son returns home:
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. . .But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
It’s 11:14 p.m. and for the second straight summer I find myself being inexplicibly drawn to the AMC Movie Theater, Eden Prairie Mall for yet another 12:01 release of a summer blockbuster film. Tonight’s film? Batman Begins.
If history repeats itself I will no doubt snooze for a few minutes as my group of friends, all 10-12 years younger than me, take their turns snickering at the old youth pastor who just can’t say, “no,” to a movie premier.
In the past twelve months my little band of renegade youth workers have viewed the midnight releases of The Bourne Supremecy, I. Robot, Star Wars Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith, and now Batman Begins.
But, I’ll surprise my friends this time. I will overcome! I will stay awake. For this is Batman! They don’t know that each day after school my older brothers and I would crowd onto my parent’s bed, each taking time to kick the other brother in his face, in order to get the best possible viewing space for reruns of the 1960’s Batman television show. We’d watch the show on my parents 9″ Black and White TV.
The show made us feel alive! We all wanted to be Adam West’s Batman or Burt Ward’s Robin. We all wanted to battle Catwoman, the Joker, the Penguin, and the Riddler. We shouted, “POW,” when the screen read, “POW,” and “ZOWIE,” when the screen read, “ZOWIE.” We were engrossed.
I still want to be the hero. I want to defeat the villian in my child’s bad dream. To help the homeless guy get back on his feet. To find a place for the orphaned child to call home. To balance the family budget and have money left over.
My two youngest sons got a new CD recently. It’s from Austraila. One of the songs is called Jesus is My Superhero. They love it, and I have to admit, it’s become a Schulenburg family favorite! God, thanks for being my true superhero. You amaze me. You’ve rescued me. You love me with a neverending and never failing love. So, this movie is supposed to be about justice. Maybe I’ll stay awake through it. But, if not . . .
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Okay, so I’m an idealist. I readily admit that. So, when I hear other people speak in idealistic tones it resonates with me. That’s what happened to me last night as I sat with my wife and watched ABC News Primetime’s interview with Brad Pitt.
ABC had been heavily promoting the interview all week as a way to hear straight from the mouth of Brad Pitt about his relationship with Angelina Jolie. But, Pitt only agreed to be interviewed if the majority of the show would be dedicated to the plight of millions of people in the continent of Africa. Poverty, the AIDS pandemic, and the lack of opportunity for education has ravaged this continent for far too long. Pitt spoke often about the fact that $16, the price of one American CD, is all that it takes to provide an education for a child for a year in Africa. (After watching the show I calculated that if our family would forgo a year of education at the private Christian school that our children attend, and send all of that money to Africa for children to be educated we could send 500 children to school.)
Wooddale Church has been on the forefront of ministry to victims of AIDS in Africa for the past several years. Just this Saturday we’ll be sending another team for two weeks of ministry alongside of World Relief. Our team will work in the areas of abstience education, orphanage support, and church leader development.
Most of you will never have the opportunity to go to Africa. But, you can get involved in the solution. The One Campaign has brought the church and Hollywood together for the common cause of ridding the world of poverty in the next twenty years. The ONE Declaration reads as follows: “WE BELIEVE that in the best American tradition of helping others help themselves, now is the time to join with other countries in a historic pact for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of the world overcome AIDS and extreme poverty. WE RECOGNIZE that a pact including such measures as fair trade, debt relief, fighting corruption and directing additional resources for basic needs – education, health, clean water, food, and care for orphans – would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the poorest countries, at a cost equal to just one percent more of the US budget. WE COMMIT ourselves – one person, one voice, one vote at a time – to make a better, safer world for all.”
I encourage you to visit The One Campaign website at www.one.org, and make your voice heard. You can make a difference.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Do you remember your high school lunchroom? It’s an amazing place. A clash of cultures takes place between the four walls of the cafeteria. Tables of peer groups ostracize other tables, deciding that socializing with one table would be too risky, too uncomforable, or unnecessary. It can be a tough place. But, it’s also an encouraging place as you see real friendship lived out.
Last week, I taught health classes for two days at Edina High School in Edina, Minnesota. I typically teach at EHS eight times a year, speaking to every sophomore over the course of the school year two times. I brought Kevin Franske, our Senior High Program Assistant with me to get a feel for what it is like to teach in a public high school setting. He had a chance to teach part of my lesson, and it was so fun to watch him take his turn in front of the class.
After teaching, we ate lunch in the EHS cafeteria. We were both flooded with memories about how tough it was to be a high school student. Maybe you remember . . .
Do you remember what it felt like to walk into your high school cafeteria for the first time?
Do you remember a lunch lady?
Do you remember what cafeteria food was like at your school?
Do you remember who you ate with?
Do you remember a lunchroom conversation or two?
My time in the lunchroom reminded me to pray even more for the students that I work with. They are bombarded with a series of challenges each day.
On another note, I received a thank you letter from one of the two teachers that I teach for today. She is a 35 year veteran of the classroom, and I taught with her on her last Friday as a teacher. She is retiring this year. Jim Bauman, our Children’s Pastor at Wooddale Church had her for a teacher 25 years ago. Jim told me last weekend that he still has a paper that she graded because of the positive comments that she left him. It meant the world to a sophomore in high school. How fun it has been to establish a relationship with a teacher in this public school, who is definitely not a Christian. Here is an excerpt of her note to me,
“. . . I am honored to have had you as a speaker in my classes and am most honored to have you as a friend. Stay as wonderful as you are and I will always value our friendship. Thank you my dear friend.”
I share that note because there are so many times I don’t feel like going into the public school to teach. But, going has meant that I can have an impact not only on students but on teachers. When I left her class, the teacher made me promise to schedule a lunch date with her, our Junior High Pastor, and myself. We’re going to set it up, and my prayer is that she will come to know Christ.
“If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”