The Hot Seat

Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

We call it The Hot Seat. It’s a tradition that long precedes my time at Wooddale Church. Every year, we take a night to honor our graduating seniors. For the past couple of years that event has taken place at The Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Each senior takes a turn to sit in a chair, and for about five minutes, those students are honored by their peers.

Last night’s Hot Seat event was a beautiful display of love. I enjoyed listening as each one of our seniors were shown love. As the students sat on the seat, I took time to talk about each one of them. When I read today’s verse, I was instantly transported back to last night’s crowded hotel room. And, I thought about our Class of 2008. So many of the students that I work with fit the description of the people that Jesus is talking about in this verse. They are young men and women who hunger and thirst for righteousness. That is a rare thing in this world. I’m proud of our students, and pray that they will always be marked by a desire to live holy lives.

May you be marked as a person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Christ promises us that if we hunger and thirst after such things, we will be filled. Oh, the satisfaction that comes from pursuing the things of God!

Dear God,

We want to be people who hunger and thirst for You. May our lives be marked by our Maker. May we never lose sight of the rewards that come from following you.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Got Meekness?

Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Some time ago a couple of boys in our high school ministry asked if they could borrow a commentary of mine on the book of Genesis. I look at my shelf and found a classic by Arthur W. Pink. When I handed them the book, a business card slipped out of it. It was from my Grandfather, who had died a few years earlier. Grandpa gave me the book when he was still alive and had written on the card, “Brian, this is perhaps the best commentary ever written on the book of Genesis. Study it! — Grandpa.”

That was my Grandpa’s way. He loved to give advice and challenge his grandchildren. I gave the book to the boys, with a promise that they would return it in a couple of weeks. I never saw the book again. But, I’ve not forgotten Grandpa’s words. When I see something written by Pink, I pay attention to it.

While studying today’s passage, I came across a quote from Dr. Pink. Writing about meekness, Pink wrote, “True meekness is ever manifested by a yieldedness to God’s will, yet it will not yield a principle of righteousness or compromise with evil. God-given meekness can also stand up for God-given rights; when God’s glory is impeached, we must have a zeal which is as hot as fire.”

We live in a world where I believe the first word that comes to mind when you hear the work meek is weak. But, true meekness is anything but week. It is the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the believer. It is living our lives with God at the center. It is allowing the One who is meek and lowly to control our actions.

When Jesus said that the meek would inherit the earth, those listening must have thought that he was crazy. They lived in a day and age where they were under the oppression of the Roman government. How could they inherit the earth when they not even given property rights? As usual, Jesus wasn’t talking about inheriting the earth as one today might equate with Donald Trump or Bill Gates. Those who are meek are those who learn to be satisfied with what it is that God has blessed them with. They use their earthly blessings to advance the Kingdom of God. The meek follower of Christ will also be among those who some day will reign with Christ in his Millennial Kingdom. It is then that they will literally see this promise fulfilled.

As you live your life today, be like those in the Bible who demonstrated meekness. Abraham, years after he was told that he would be the father of a great nation, was shown land by God. His nephew Lot was shown the land as well. God gave them a choice. Abraham deferred to Lot. Lot chose what looked like the best land for himself. Abraham didn’t complain. He willingly gave the land, even though he could have claimed rightful ownership to it based upon God’s promise. Abraham trusted that God would come through on his promise. May we do the same.

Dear God,

You have told us to go against the conventional wisdom of this world and to be people who are meek. Help us to remain faithful to that which you have called us to be. May we be counted amongst those who will some day rule with you in Your Millennial Kingdom. May we exhibit Christ-like love to all those we come in contact with.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Baccalaureate Service at Wooddale Church

This Sunday marks my last day at Wooddale Church. I’ll be speaking at the Baccalaureate Service for our Senior Highers. The service begins at 5:00 PM and is open to the public. I’d encourage you to come out. Our senior class is a talented group of students. They will be leading the worship service. There will be special music, a student speaker, a chance for all of the seniors to talk about what their future plans are, and I’ll be preaching a message entitled, What Now? The Senior dessert begins at 6:00 PM in the Wooddale Chapel. We’ve put together a great video presentation with 200 pictures of our students from throughout their high school years. I’ll post that presentation on here on Sunday night.

My Son Just Led Me In Worship!

Our family just got back from Christopher’s Junior High Spring Concert. It was an amazing evening. I’m so impressed with Calvin Christian School’s bands and choirs. Chris is a part of the select ensembles for band and choir, the junior high choir, and the junior high band. I got shivers watching my son lead the audience in worship. It’s the first time I’ve watched Chris lead a group in worship. He had a solo part in the song, My Savior Lives. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the night that my son led me in worship. I’m grateful to God for children who walk with Him!

Life Change

Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

It’s been almost a month since my last post. That’s a bit out of character for me, I know. But, life is changing in the Schulenburg home. This past month has been difficult to say the least. On Sunday, my life at Wooddale Church ends. For the past seven years, this has been our home. There is something beautiful about being a member of the Body of Christ. There is a depth that comes from relationships with other Christians that is irreplaceable. And yet, we know that what lies ahead is so good too. We’re excited about beginning a new chapter in our lives, and yet sad to see this one end.

That sadness has led to lot of tears in our home. The tears have not just come from transition. The tears have also come from one of the students in our youth ministry being involved in a serious car accident. He’s recovering well in the ICU. But, it’s hard to see him there. The tears came from watching a friend’s marriage deteriorate. The tears have come from the stress of transition. For the first time in our lives we’re having to find our own health insurance. We received our first rejection notice this week. Now I understand why so many people want reform in the health care industry. The tears have come from a pot of noodles left on a stove and forgotten about. Smoke filled our home, and now we are living with trying to get that smoke smell out. The tears have come from being pulled in so many different directions.

Okay, before you get the idea that all we do is cry, we don’t. The tears are outweighed by the joys of life. It was on Matthew 5:4 that I left off this blog devotional. Jesus had begun teaching the Beatitudes. And the Beatitude that we read in Matthew 5:4 is, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Yesterday, feeling like we were at a breaking point, Cyndi and I held each other and did what we should have been doing all along. We cried out to God. We told Him that we trust Him. We asked Him to intercede. And, while we don’t have health insurance (yet), and while the smell of smoke still lingers in our home, and while my friends are still struggling with their marriage and while my student still lies in that hospital bed, God did what he promised in Matthew 5:4. He comforted. He comforted as only God can. Throughout Scripture we read about a peace that is so extraordinary that it passes all understanding. I’m living with that peace today. I’m living with God’s comfort. And, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that God has blessed me beyond measure. I’m grateful for His calling on our lives. I can’t wait to get started in our new calling. I can’t wait to see how God works in this time in our lives. I can’t wait to see how God uses our children and my wife in the area that He has called us to. And, I can’t wait to see God answer prayer the way that He chooses to.

Blessed are those who mourn (and that’s all of us from time to time), for they will be comforted.

Dear God,

Thank You for loving us the way that You do. Sometimes Your love for us is shown in ways that we don’t understand. And, when You show us that kind of love, something beautiful comes in the end. Thank You for the comfort that You ofter to the mourning. You are good, and Your love endures forever.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.