What Would It Take?

This past Friday night I had an incredible time with my son Jeremy’s first grade class. We were at a First Grade Family Pizza Party. My wife Cyndi was out of town, visiting her mom and sister, my daughter was at a church activity, and my oldest son was at a friend’s home. So, it was just Jeremy, Zachary, Dad, and about 100 other people in the gym at Calvin Christian School.

Cyndi is one of the Room Moms in Jeremy’s class. The room moms were in charge of the party, and since Cyndi couldn’t be there, I was a room dad. Our job was to set up tables, decorate the room, and make sure that everyone was having a good time.

Midway through the party, I noticed that all of the kids were on one side of the gym looking a little bit bored. They had been playing basketball on a regulation sized basket. Keep in mind, these are first graders. They could have shot the ball at that basket all night long, and it wasn’t going to go in. So, now, some of the kids thought they’d throw the balls at each other. Keep in mind, these are basketballs. Had it been dodgeballs, this could have been fun, but now kids were getting angry at each other. Tears were flowing down faces, but most of the parents were too busy to notice. Since I was without my spouse, I thought I’d go over and try to do an organized game with the kids.

The only game I could think of on the spare of the moment, considering the amount of kids that were present, was the game 500. Now, to the uninitiated in the blogosphere, the object of the game 500 is to do whatever it takes to get the ball that is thrown. The person throwing the ball yells out a certain number of points that each ball thrown is worth. The first person to catch 500 points worth of balls wins.

When I was in school, winning the game was prize enough. Why? Because it meant that you were the best. Of all of the other people catching balls that day on the playground, you were the best of the best.

Times have changed.

The children in that gym would have nothing to do with this game unless there was a prize. I had no prizes with me. So, I opened my wallet. I quickly defused the enthusiasm that the students had that they would be earning money for winning this game, when I announced that I was a pastor, and that I have no idea what money looks like. I showed them my empty wallet to prove it.

“But,” I announced, “I do have THIS!”

I’m pretty sure that some kind of cool announcement music came over the school PA system at this point. It sounded like a heavenly anthem, “WAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH.”

“This my friends is a Qdoba Mexican Restaurant lunch punch card.” (It was a card that requires 10 punches for a free lunch. Two of the punches had been punched in the past year.)

You would have thought that I had just pulled out of my wallet some serious cash. Every kid in the room wanted that card.

“100!” I shouted, and then threw the ball high in the air. A collision of bodies ensued in front of me.

A tall, lanky kid came out of the spontaneous mosh pit with a grin across his face, revealing that his two front teeth were missing.

“100!” I yelled again. The ball went in the air, and now a small little girl came out of the pile of bodies with ball in hand.

The scene replayed itself a dozen times or so before that tall, lanky, tooth challenged kid emerged victorious. To the victor went the spoils. I handed over my Qdoba card with 20% of the card punched, and the kids were feverish with anticipation over what the next prize that I would hand away would be.

By the time the night was through the kids had earned three restaurant cards similar to the Qdoba card, an expired Happenings card, a pen from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sacremento, and an expired membership card to a video game store.

It’s pretty amazing that children would compete with such intensity for such insignifcant prizes.

If the question for these kids had been, “What would it take to get you to participate with all of your strength in a game of 500?” The answer would have been some worthless prizes.

If the question, “What would it take to allow Jesus Chrsit to have control of our lives?” was given to us, I wonder how we would answer.

It seems to me that so many of us, myself included, are pursuing things in life that when it is all said and done, are as insignicant as the worthless items from my wallet that those first grade kids played their hearts out for. The wisest man to ever live was King Solomon. Despite his wisdom, Solomon made some horrible choices. At the end of his life, he was full of remorse for those choices. Writing once again from a place of wisdom Solomon wrote,

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13
God, help us to remember that You are more valuable than anything this world has to offer. To remember, that the world, and all of it’s trappings will pass away, but that the person who does Your will, will live forever. Help us to allow You to be the Ruler of our lives — to stop trying to take control of our lives, and to allow You to change us in our very core. Thank You that trusting You will never result in us having regrets. Thank You that You alone are worthy of our praise, and that You alone are worthy to be trusted with our lives. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Happy Birthday Chris

It was eleven years ago today that my life changed forever. In a small hospital room in Fairfax, Virginia a beautiful baby boy was born. The moment I saw him, I knew that I would die for him. He brought tears to my eyes, a lump in my throat, my heart skipped a beat.

I am so proud of the young man that you are becoming. God is already using you to have an impact on your friends. Chris, Happy Birthday! I love you, Son.

He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Psalm 78:5-7

This Weekend’s Parents in TUNE to Deal with Drugs

Parents In TUNE is a ministry of Wooddale Student Ministries.

This coming Sunday, November 6, Wooddale’s Junior High Pastor, Heather Flies, Sargeant Randy Thompson from the Eden Prairie Police Department and I will be giving a presentation on Keeping Your Kids Off Of Drugs.

I regularly deal with families who have been through incredible pain because of the choices that their children have made in the area of drugs. If you are a parent of a pre-teen or teenager in the Twin Cities I encourage you to come out to this informative and challenging seminar.

It is free of charge and takes place between 6-8 p.m. in the Wooddale Church Chapel.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

Pray for University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas

Yesterday was a terrible day for University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. University Baptist is an outstanding church. God has used this church to influence churches around the country in reaching young people for Jesus Christ. This is the home church of the David Crowder Band, a group of musicians that God has used to minister to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Yesterday, while standing in the baptismal pool, Senior Pastor Kyle Lake tried to adjust the microphone and was electrocuted. Here is a statement from the University Baptist Church website:

This morning, Sunday October 30th, our pastor Kyle Lake was involved in an accident during a baptism and was transported by EMS to a nearby hospital. Kyle passed away around 11:30am. Not only did we lose a pastor but we’ve lost our friend.
We are confident that Kyle is in heaven today because of his trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. “ -1 John 5:11-13
The family would like donations in lieu of flowers to be sent to University Baptist Church, the church that Kyle pastored and loved. You may send this to 1701 Dutton Avenue, Waco, TX 76706.
Please continue to keep the Lake family in your prayers.

If Daddy Didn’t Do This Right, We’re All Gonna Die

The story you are about to read is true. Only the names of certain individuals have been withheld in order to protect their dignity, pride, identities, and all that stuff.

Anyone who has known me for any amount of time knows that I am the most mechanically inept person that God ever created. It’s not something I’m proud of. In fact, if I could shed that identity I’d like to. I want my boys to be able to learn how to fix a lawnmower, repair their own bikes, work on the car, build cabinets, and remodel a home.

So, today, I took a step. It wasn’t a huge step, but it was a step. My wife’s brakes had been squeeking, and a friend told her that he could show me how to replace the brake pads in our van. Excited about this opportunity to replace my ineptitude with competence, I took my friend up on his offer. I stopped by Checker Auto Parts yesterday, picked up some brake pads, and this morning at 9:10 arrived at the door of my friend’s home, ready to take on the challenge of replacing our brake pads.

The job started out well. A hub cap was removed, then a tire, then the housing for our brakes, then the brake pads. I opened my box of brand spankin’ new brake pads and handed my friend two of the pads. He quickly and skillfully put one of them on, showing me how it was done, and then I put on the next. Within a few minutes the tire was back on and we were replacing the brake pads on the other side.

It was then that what was our only real mistake was revealed. Brake pads have an idicator that tells you when your pads are wearing too thin and that you should replace them. Every set of two should have one pad with an indicator and one without. This side had two with, which meant that the other side didn’t have any. After a couple minutes of trying to convince ourselves that it really wasn’t that important, we did the prudent thing and went back to the side that we had already changed. My friend removed the hubcap, removed the tire, removed the housing, and then we took off one of the brake pads, replacing it with the correct brake pad.

Now with the correct brake pads on both sides of the van, our job was nearly complete. We put the tires back on, and I was ready to roll.

Something about this job seemed wrong to me. It had been too easy. We had only made one mistake. I should have known that it couldn’t be this easy. I had jokingly told my two youngest kids, before we arrived at my friends home that, “If Daddy and (NAME WITHHELD FOR HIS PROTECTION) didn’t do this job correctly we’d all die.” I know. Not the best thing to tell a six-year-old and a four-year-old, but hey, I like the dramatic.

It was now time to drive away. Husband, Father, Pastort, Car Mechanic. I was ready to add a new title to my repetoire. As I put my boys in the car, Jeremy said, “Zachary, we’re all going to die if Daddy didn’t do this job right.”

“Jeremy, Daddy and (NAME WITHHELD) did it just fine. We’re not going to die.”

Insert key.


Engine roars to life.

Shift into reverse.

This is where the story gets a little bit scary. If your stomach gets queezy, stop reading now.

My friends driveway is a little bit like the streets of San Francisco. It’s steep. And that is an understatement.

We begin our descent. My foot covers the brake pad. My foot pushes the brake pad. My foot goes down to the floor. My van does not slow down. I PANICK!!!!

Praise God there were no children or cars coming.

My van was not stopping. What had we done wrong? What was I going to do.

My van is now moving at a good clip, and I can’t stop it. I try to steer to avoid trees as the van now begins to descend the hill of the home opposite of my friends home. I was halfway up their hill, with no signs up stopping, predicting that my van was about to become a pendulum swinging back and forth between my friends driveway and his neighbor’s yard. Finally I remembered the emergency brake. I hit it. And our van stopped. I then put the van in neutral, coasted back into the street and walked straight to my friend’s door.

(NAME WITHHELD)! It didn’t work!


With soothing calmness he remembered what we had not done. We needed to pump the brake a few times to make sure that the pressure was back into the brakes.

No big deal. No one hurt. And, a great story.

Isn’t it great to know that we never have to worry about our Heavenly Father ever screwing up a job? He is infallible. I know, it’s one of those traits that sometimes bothers us about God. It makes Him tough to relate to. But, maybe that’s part of the point. I wouldn’t really want a God who makes mistakes. And, I don’t want a God who I can totally relate to like I would one of my best friends. There has to be some mystery about the Holy One! It’s what makes Him God.

God, thanks for Your protection today. You didn’t have to grant that. Thanks for good friends who are willing to help keep repair bills low. Thanks for your unfailing love. And thanks for reminding me that You are perfect and I am not. And, I don’t have to be. Thanks for loving me just the way that I am, but not be content to leave me this way. You just might make a mechanic out of me yet.

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

Deuteronomy 32:4

Pray for Dwayne

He was just a few miles from the Denver Broncos Training Facility when two cars traveling in the opposite direction crossed the median of the highway and met Dwayne Carswell’s car head on. It was rush hour on this busy stretch of Interstate and Dwayne had no way to avoid the crash. His vehicle hit the others with such force that his driver’s side door was literally torn off. Dwayne suffered major internal injuries. He remains in intensive care, but will recover. Dwayne, a Guard for the Broncos, and former Pro Bowl Tight End will not play again this year.

Dwayne was a college classmate of mine. I was actually his RA his freshman year at Liberty Univerity. My wife worked with him in the college post office. I haven’t spoken to Dwayne since college, but I’ve followed his 12 year NFL career with interest.

Woud you join me in praying for Dwayne? Pray that God will heal his body, and that Dwayne will use this time to reach out to God. I’m praying that Dwayne will become passionate about Christ.

If you’d like to send Dwayne “Get Well Wishes” you may do so by visiting the Denver Broncos web site. It is located at www.denverbroncos.com.

To see how Dwayne’s teammates are responding to this tragedy visit: http://www.denverbroncos.com/page.php?id=609&videoID=965.

Go To Ebay And Bid On This Game

One of you should go to ebay and bid on this item: http://cgi.ebay.com/SOLD-The-Antique-Dealers-Game-COMPLETE_W0QQitemZ8714289475QQcategoryZ235QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

My father-in-law gave us this game last Christmas, and it has become my family’s favorite game. I know it sounds hokie, but you really ought to check it out.

If you read this after the auction has ended, never fear. I found 203 copies of the game available on ebay at this link: http://cgi.ebay.com/Sold-Antique-Dealer-Game-NEW_W0QQitemZ8714722434QQcategoryZ1178QQssPageNameZWD1VQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

It’s a fun family game night. Give it a try.

Summer of 2006 Mission Trips To Be Announced on Sunday

Wooddale Worldwide Week has started, and in two days we will be announcing the Wooddale Senior High Summer Missions Trips of 2006! I can’t wait. As a youth pastor I have seen God use these trips to change the lives of students every single time we’ve taken one. This year will be no exception.

The announcement takes place at ten:fifteen, our Sunday morning program.

An informational meeting for all interested students, parents, and potential mission trip staff takes place on Wednesday, November 16, at 6:00 p.m. in the Wooddale’s Room 207. Don’t miss it!

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

Romans 1:11, 12

James MacDonald on Emergent

For a fascinating discussion on the Emerging Church movement, and why James MacDonald is not emerging check out: http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2005/10/why_james_macdo.html#more. The feedback on the blog is fascinating. Author and speaker Scott McKnight’s response to MacDonald is most interesting. You can read his response, and James MacDonald’s response back here: http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=502.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:11