Two Amazing Stories

This week I ran across two amazing stories of high school athletes who have faught agianst tremendous odds to accomplish great things. Their stories are so inspiring that I felt compelled to put them on this blog. The first is the story of Jason McElwain. Jason is a young man who happens to be autistic. He has been the water boy and team manager for his high school’s basketball team for the past couple of years. This week he got to play in his first and only basketball game. You won’t believe what happened when he came in with four minutes left to play. Go to this link, and check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBYPaNc57Ik&search=autistic%20basketball%20playe.

The second story comes from ESPN.com’s web site. It’s the story of A.J. Detwiler, a star high school wrestler from Pennsylvania. A.J. has a real chance to become the state champion at his weight class. But, A.J. lives with pain every day. Not pain from wrestling, but pain from the loss of a mother and a father. You see, last summer, A.J.’s dad murdered his mother, then A.J.’s younger brother shot and killed his dad in an act of self defense. This is one tear jerking story, but a beautiful example of forgiveness. Check it out right here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=santoliquito/060222.

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Go Paris!

Okay, so I’m not the biggest American Idol fan in the world. But, I am excited, because Paris Bennett, one of the students that I had when I guest taught at Edina High School is one of the final 24 contestants on this season’s edition of the show. You can see her interview tape for American Idol right here: http://www.idolonfox.com/videos/?vid=166. Paris is one of the sweetest students that I ever taught. Every time I would walk into Edina High School and she would see me, she’d run up to me, ask how things were going, and tell me about the latest play that she was in, movie that she was into, or about her singing. She is a sweetheart.

What’s The Deal With . . .

Zondervan sent me a contract today for my second book. It will be called What’s The Deal With . . . and it focuses on the top 500 theological questions that students are asking today. The first half of the book is the story of Pizza and God Talk. It will be released in August of 2007.

You can now pre-order my first book Choose Your Top 3 at Amazon.com by following this link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310267463/qid=1140066508/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-7827834-5462237?s=books&v=glance&n=283155.

Solomon’s Porch on Front Page of Star Tribune

Solomon’s Porch Chuch and Pastor Doug Pagitt are featured on the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune today. The article is entitled Young, Hip Reverent – Emerging Churches, Emphasizing Small Worship Groups, Have Struck a Chord With Young Christians. It’s a fascinating read about the emerging church. You can read a copy of the story by following this link: http://www.startribune.com/614/story/235020.html. Doug Pagitt, used to be the Senior High Pastor at Wooddale. I taught his daughter Michon at Edina High School today. After class, Michon, Kara Doten, the daughter of Brian Doten, who preceded Doug as Senior High Pastor at Wooddale, and myself had lunch. It was this special bond of three families who have all shared in the lives of Wooddale Senior Highers. We had a delightful time.

A Christian Response to Global Warming

Leith Anderson, Wooddale’s Senior Pastor has been in the news a couple of times this week on the issue of Christian Environmentalism, particularly in the area of global warming. I think this is an important issue for Christians to take a look at and am proud of the stance that Leith, and several Christian leaders have taken on the topic. You can watch Leith’s appearance on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams by following this link:
http://video.msn.com/v/us/msnbc.htm?g=218269a9-9218-43a7-ac95-07d06c709474&f=00. You can read about and listen to an interview with Leith on Public Radio by following this link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5194527.

What A Day!

It’s 11:06 p.m. and I’m sitting here in a bit of a daze. I can’t believe the events that I have been a part of today. It was about 30 minutes ago that I pulled into my driveway after a fourteen hour work day. The day has brought a wide range of emotions — from stress to delight; from inadequacy to euphoria; from passion to discouragement: it’s all been there.

I was Wooddale’s pastor on call today. I really do love these days. When you are pastor on call, you respond to any phone call, drop-in visit, or crisis that may emerge throughout the day. Today, a woman came into the building who had never been to Wooddale. She had been through a major crisis in the past month, and didn’t know why, but felt drawn to the building. After spending about an hour with this woman, and going through many pieces of tissue, God got through. After ten years of running from God, this woman accepted Christ. Her story was heartbreaking, and she has much ahead of her, but she is His. She’ll someday reach the spot where she never has to go through pain again. She’ll be spending eternity with Jesus, and God let me be a part of that process!

A few minutes after this woman left, my friend and fellow youth pastor, Heather, found out that her Dad had been diagnosed with cancer. I hurt for Heather. She loves her Dad. He is one of her heroes. She has spent many hours with him on the road in his semi. She even had a chance to spend time with him on a sabbatical last year. Three other pastors and I prayed with Heather in her office. Heather’s family will meet with a doctor on Friday to discuss the prognosis.

This evening was our second week in our Sex In The Suburbs series at The Garage. I spoke passionately on The Naked Truth About Sex. When the lesson ended I talked with several students about their personal battles in this area. It was tough to listen to them, and my heart broke for so many who are struggling in this area.

The night ended with Pizza and God Talk, our ministry to students where they can ask any question they want about God, the Bible, religion, etc. I spoke to a lot of students about a lot of tought things. I was reminded once again of how tough it is to grow up today.

I’m home now. I’ve snuck a look at each of my kids. I’ve prayed for them as they sleep. I wonder what their struggles will be like. I pray that they will be spared a lot of the pain that I’ve heard about tonight. And, I’m reminded of the lyrics from an old Michael W. Smith song that say, “Into Every Life A Little Rain Must Fall.”

Lord, I won’t always be there to protect my children. I can’t shield them from everything that will happen in their life. They will be hurt. Sometimes, I’ll be the one that says something, or doesn’t say something, or looks the wrong way, or works too much, or . . . or . . . or. Thank You that You will never fail them. If . . . no, when . . . they feel like running from you, pursue them. Run after them. May they always know that You love them, that I love them, that Cyndi loves them. May they see Your love reflected in us. And, when the rain falls, bring the rainbow. Bring the rainbow. Amen.

Dana Jorgensen, Jason Barthelemy and Snow


A lot of people have been asking me about who our musician for Snow Camp is. His name is Dana Jorgensen, and you can visit his web site at www.danalive.com. He’s got some great songs on his site that you can download for 99 cents a piece. We’re looking forward to having him with us all the way from Nashville, TN this weekend.

On that note, please be in prayer for Snow Camp. This is always an amazing event. Our Senior Class plans Snow Camp every year. This year’s camp is built around the theme of “Woodstock.” It’s kind of far fetched, but the idea is that Woodstock was a three day festival where people came together for music. We’re coming together for three days of experiencing God together. Jason Barthelemy, a youth pastor from Iowa who used to be on staff at Wooddale will be our guest speaker. His sessions look awesome. We can’t wait to see how God uses the weekend. We’ll have about 130 people with us for the weekend.