Rosa Parks

She passed away on Monday after 92 years on this earth.

Rosa Parks was a remarkable woman. Her bold choice to not give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955 took place long before I was born, but her impact on this caucasion pastor will never be forgotten.

There are so many things that I appreciate about Ms. Parks. But, the thing that impressed me the most was the conviction and the integrity with which she lived her life.

The racial divide between people of color and caucasions is far from over. May we, as the church of Jesus Christ be all the more determined to see that divide minimized.

This past summer a fundraiser was held in Minneapolis to raise funds for churches in the urban core to hire youth workers, develop youth programs in churches, and come alongside of the churches in North Minneapolis. The fundraiser was designed to raise over $1 million. When all was said and done, the project only raised 4% of its goal, raising $40,000.

Did you know that there are over 100 churches in North Minneapolis, and only one full-time youth worker for all of those churches? The church I serve in the suburbs of Minneapolis has the equivalent of five full time youth workers. Join me in praying that God will provide youth workers and funds for the churches of North Minneapolis.

Why is this such an urgent need? North Minneapolis has the highest crime rate in our cities. Last year, eight students from North High School in Minneapolis were gunned down. The need in the cities is great, and the church must confront it.

May we follow the example of those who believed that all men were created equal, and that the dignity of each person was important and worth fighting for.

For information on how you can make a difference in North Minneapolis check out the website for Urban Reclaim at www.urbanreclaim.org.

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

James 2:1-5

Grandpa Would Have Loved This Day

He was just a boy the last time it happened. The year was 1917. The Chicago White Sox were the toast of the town. And, Grandpa, he was a fan. He absolutely loved baseball. I can imagine his excitement at his home town team winning the World Series. I wonder if he ever thought about the fact that the Sox, or the Cubs for that matter would never win a Series again in his lifetime.

My Grandpa’s dad was a Chicago cop. I never met my great-grandpa. I wonder if his duties as an officer required him to be a part of the security detail at the world’s greatest sporting spectacle – the 1917 World Series. I wonder if he had sercurity duty at the 1919 World Series. That series will forever be remembered as the series that the Chicago White Sox threw, resulting in the banning from baseball for life of 8 players. I wonder if Grandpa’s heart broke when the 1959 White Sox couldn’t erase the ghosts of 1919.

I remember Grandpa telling me once about watching Babe Ruth play in person. He told me that his favorite ball player to watch was Lou Gehrig. He had even taken home movies of Gehrig and told me that he’d show them to me one day. It never happened. I think he disposed of a lot of his home movies when he moved from his home in Wheaton to his apartment. I’d sure love to see those films now.

Grandpa was a bigger Cub fan than a Sox fan. He loved going to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play. For a time, he was the Senior Pastor of Addison Street Baptist Church. The church is located just blocks down the street from Wrigley. In the year’s he pastored Addison Street, he was able to go to as many games as he wanted for free. Clergy didn’t have to pay for ball games back then. It was one of the perks for making so little money. Some of his best visitation with church members happened in the bleachers of Wrigley Field.

One of my favorite childhood memories was when just one day after having my wisdom teeth removed my Grandpa called me to tell me that he had received four box seats to Wrigley Field. He wondered if I’d go with him. The only thing that would have made me leave my bed that day was a chance to see Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson play in person. I was there. And today, it’s not seeing my baseball heroes that I remember. It’s sitting next to my Grandpa, with his arm around me, and his stories of baseball. I miss those days.

Last night, the Chicago White Sox did it! Led by their feisty manager, Ozzie Guillen, who my Dad took me to see when I was a boy, the Sox erased 88 years of futility. A four game sweep of the Houston Astros and the White Sox are champions of the world.

I’m a Cub fan, but this feels good. Maybe next year the Cubs will make it happen. For now, I’m happy for the City of Chicago.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Rake and Run

It’s called Rake and Run.

The concept: Get a bunch of people together, make sure that they bring rakes and trash bags, pick a neighborhood at random, and bless them by raking their lawns.

It’s that time of year again in Minnesota. While most of the country is enjoying the brilliance of fall colors, Minnesotans are raking up the leaves that we were admiring on our trees a few weeks ago. It is nature’s final reminder that winter is just around the corner.

Last night, a group of 150 students and staff from Wooddale Senior High embarked on several homes in Eden Prairie, Hopkins and Minnetonka and raked the lawns of unsuspecting homeowners. I was so proud of the way that our students represented Christ. My e-mail inbox has already been buzzing with e-mails of gratitude for the service that these students provided.

Our Senior Pastor, Leith Anderson, if fond of reminding us that whatever we do, make God look good. Our students did that last night. From a family with newborn quads, to a family that just lost their dad, to the homes in the neighborhood near church, you were a blessing! Great job last night! God is using you, Wooddale Senior High. I’m proud of you!

He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

Daniel 2:21

Significant Conference Taking Place Today in Washington D.C.

There is a major conference taking place today in Washington D. C. that seeks to set an agenda for helping America’s youth for the next several years.

You can access live coverage of the conference at www.helpingyouthconference.com. This conference stems from President Bush’s State of the Union address in which he addressed the issue of America’s troubled youth. The conference has brought together some of the top religious, educational, social and civic leaders in America who are on the frontlines of working with and researching youth.

The conference is worth taking a look at.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

Prayer Requests

Two of our Wooddale Student Ministries families are hurting today.

On Tuesday, the Heinitz family lost their mom, Kate. Please pray for Krista, a senior at Jefferson High School, and Jake, a sophomore at Jefferson. Our hearts and prayers are with them.

Tuesday was also a horrible day for the Griggs family as well. Briana (13), Desirae (11), and Madeline (8) lost their dad, Cliff. Pray for Cliff’s wife Beth as well. Please keep these two precious families in your prayers today.

Funerals will take place next Monday and Tuesday.

My help comes from You, O Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8

When Life Gets Too Busy

You might be too busy if . . .

Go ahead and answer that question in my comment section. I’d love to hear what you come up with.

The fall of 2005 may forever be remembered as one of the busiest times of my life. It’s been a couple of months since my last update, so let me give you a few highlights from the past couple of months.

New Family Member(s)

My brother Kevin and his wife Melissa welcomed their new daughter Rebecca JoElaine into the world last Friday, October 21st. That makes Cyndi and me and Aunt or Uncle for the twelfth time. Congratulations Kevin and Melissa.

We welcomed a little dog named Kristi into our family August 27th. She was a mix between a beagle and I’m pretty sure a doberman, although the pet adoption agency told us it was a dauschound. After assuring us that Kristi was great with children and cats, and a great ride home, Kristi turned into Cujo! After biting three family members, and threatening a lot of visitors, Kristi went back to the adoption agency.

Then, last weekend, Muffy joined our family. She is officially Christopher’s dog, but we all like to claim her. Muffy is beautiful little Sheltie pup. She is four months old, and so incredibly sweet. She belonged to my brother Randy and his family, but they had to let her go due to allergies. So, we had the double blessing last weekend of seeing Randy, Lori, Joy and Matt, and falling in love with a new little pet. I’ll post pictures soon.

Family

It’s been an incredible fall with Breanna now a junior higher, Chris a fifth grader, Jeremy in first grade, and Zach in his last year of preschool. Breanna is loving the junior high youth group at church. That’s not too tough when you have the best junior high pastor in America for a youth pastor! Chris is loving his new dog. He is also tearing through book after book, recently scoring the second highest person at his entire school in reading (amount of books read, and test scores on the books he has read). He’s a lot like his mom that way. JJ is loving first grade. He is reading so well too, and he loves sports. Zachary loves the time that he gets with mom alone, now that his older brother is in school full time, five days a week.

Church

Things are going very well at church. Our fall retreat was one of the highlights of my time in ministry. Nine students made commitments to Jesus Christ. Many of them were students that I have been praying for for a long time. God is absolutely transforming their lives.

So far, 16 students have made commitments to Jesus since the school year started. Pizza and God Talk, our ministry that happens after the Garage on Wednesday nights where students can ask whatever questions that they want about God continues to grow. The questions that the students ask are extraordinary.

Book

My book will be published by Zondervan in August of 2006. It’s been a fun process to see it come together. In the past few weeks I’ve been able to see the cover design and was interviewed by Zondervan for a CD that their sales reps listen to and play for bookstore owners. I can’t wait to see the book released.

Travel

I’ve been speaking at a number of conferences this fall. I was in Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Alexandria, Minnesota in October. I’ll be in Wisconsin Dells, WI and Nashville in November. Then, I have some time off. I’m looking forward to being home more!

Missions

We’ll be announcing our Summer Missions trips to students on Sunday. I’ll be travelling to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in January. It will be my first time to Honduras. Please pray for Central America. Hurricane Stan dropped a tremendous amount of rainfall on the region, and then an earthquake caused devastating mudslides. Many people in the Lake Atitlan region, where our trip goes almost every year, were killed. One entire village has been declared a cemetary. Over 400 bodies are buried deep in the mud. I’ve been in regular contact with Jaime Lopez, our missionary in Guatemala. I am concerned for him too. His wife Doris had surgery to remove her gall bladder on October 3, and now will be having surgery to have a lump removed from her breast. They have been through it. Jaime is like a brother to me. We have spent much time together, and it hurts to see him going through so much.

How strange is this weather that we’ve been seeing around the world? Paul Douglas, the meteorologist for WCCO news in Minneapolis says that he has never seen weather phenomenon like we are experiencing. It’s bizzare.

Well, that’s a little bit of an update. I’ll update more regularly.

Behold, You who form the mountains and create the wind, And reveal Your thoughts to people; You turn dawn to darkness, And tread the high places of the earth – The Lord God of hosts is Your name.

Amos 4:13