The services were killer at church today. First of all, Montana got hit by random snowstorms friday and saturday but today it was sunny and blue skies except all the trees were all “Narnia’d” out of their minds. I taught from Luke 24 where Jesus walks with two disciples on the road to Emmaus after rising from the dead, but they don’t recognize him. They are super bummed because Jesus is dead and their hope is lost. Although He is incognito, Jesus basically gives the most ripping sermon of all time showing how the Messiah had to die to redeem mankind. Then they invite Him in but if they hadn’t they would have missed out because he would have just kept cruising. At dinner He prayed and they could suddenly tell who He was, and He disappears. They are blown away and realize how their hearts were on fire when He was sharing the scriptures with them and they rush out to share the good news with others. Wild.
I am excited to teach tomorrow. I will be giving a follow up message to last Sundays’ resurrection sermon. We saw the stone that had been rolled away and heard the angel announce that He is risen! This week we are going to see Jesus appear to some of His disciples as they walk down the road in Luke 24. I am calling it “A walk to remember.” Once again I will be teaching from a sitting position which was a little challenging. A music stand was put out for me to put my notes and my Bible but when I got out there it was blocking my view of a ton of people and so I moved it out of the way and put my stuff on my lap. That was not an ideal setup. One of our guys came up with a great solution, he scoured the stores and found a little table at pier 1 that had a top that could be angled. I was even emailed photos of how it looked on the stage but also a photo demonstrating what I will see prom the point of view of sitting in the chair. I had to ask how he managed to get that photo? The response was, “I have really long arms.” I love the team of people I get to work with! Hope you can join us tomorrow morning, either in person or online.
3 times a week I go to physical therapy and work the muscles in my left leg so they dont atrophy while they aren’t being used. While stretching on this red ball I was casually talking to one of the guys about technology. He had been asking questions about my iPhone and the subject turned to the use of tech and how some are slow to embrace it. I mentioned that at my church we utilize it as as tools in worship and studying the Bible. It was a segue to talk about God, but this other dude hearing the word church came over and started talking about the NY Mets. I didnt quite see the connection and he saw the puzzled look on my face. He explained and said, you all are talking about church and the closest I get to talking about religion is talkin about baseball. Wow. He bolted before I could respond but I thought, how sad, is that really enough to give hope? Would he, on his deathbed, really be given comfort by meditating on RBI’s, base hits and Hank Aaron? I pray the Lord opens his eyes to see that He needs Jesus, because on that day, even the Great Bambino can’t get him to heaven!
I have always been a fan of the preaching and writings of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I relate to him because he began in ministry young like I did. Because of his lack of formal theological training he got flack from many older and distinguished gentleman and was distrusted by many pastors early on in his ministry. One day while reading one of the many biographies written about him I discovered the story of how he proposed to Mrs. Spurgeon:
They were at a fair and were supposed to be hanging out, he had brought a book and to her irritation ignored her and pretended to be absorbed in it rather than enjoying quality time with her. This didn’t go over well, he was a bookworm and while with her she expected his attention. Finally she could take it no more and confronted him about it, he simply said what do you think about the authors thoughts in this passage? The book was called Proverbial Philosophy by a man called Tupper, and his finger was pointing at a quote on marriage, how it is a gift from God to find the wife of your youth. She looked up confused and he had a twinkle in his eye and proposed to her.
When I read this I had just purchased a ring and was planning on proposing to my girlfriend, , and being mischievous, I liked his style. The name of the book rang a bell and I looked through my library and realized I owned it, but not just any paperback copy, I had a first edition that I bought while studying overseas in England. It was during a time in my life that I spent most of my grocery money on antiquarian books full of sermons by old dead pastors. What were the chances that I had bought this book Spurgeon had employed to hook his chick? In Laguna Beach, California on a date that I had hyped up as time just for us to enjoy each other, I dutifully ignored Jennie and pretended to be engrossed in my several hundred year old book I had just discovered in my library. All the while my hands shook as I thought of the ring in my pocket. I had asked her father permission and was so overwhelmed at the thought of getting to spend the rest of my life with this amazing girl. It took a while but eventually she got mad enough to comment and I pointed out the same passage he had and had her read it, she read the poetic thoughts on marriage and looked up at me like I was crazy. While she was reading I got on my knee and held up the ring, then I asked her to marry me and be my princess. Fortunately she said yes. I guess Spurgeon and I both were too dense to realize perhaps irritation isn’t the most romantic way to begin a marriage! But it worked. To this day I am still desperately in love with Jennie and I still love reading spurgeon. His passion for the gospel is also a set of footsteps I am trying to follow after. Right now I am reading a book of evangelistic excerpts from hundreds of different sermons of his. Each paragraph is taken from a portion of the messages where he seeks to persuade unbelieving souls to put their faith in Christ. It is Powerful. Spurgeon accomplished so much for Christ in his life. Though he was a diamond in the rough, with the help of a powerful God, he became the prince of preachers. And made it his goal in his life to mentor young men who wanted to get involved in the ministry like he did. I encourage you to read anything you can by him. He wrote alot of books, many are sermons that have been transcribed. I would encourage you to start by picking up a copy of Morning and Evening a devotional that will take you through the whole year with scripture verses and Spurgeon’s thoughts. If you have read anything by him already leave a comment and let me know what it was.
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It is always a blessing when people respond to the gospel, whether it is one or fifty they each have a unique story about what brought them to that moment of response. It is always a blessing to hear what God has done in their life. People write us at the church regularly to share their God story and I never tire of hearing what God has been up to.
After we had the event with Greg Laurie and Phil Wickham we received several amazing testimonies by email. I wanted to share one of them with you all, it came from a family with a Jehovah’s Witness background, the wife had come out of it but her husband had not:
On January 27th my sister said “I heard about this new church called Fresh Life, should we check it out?” And so Fresh Life is where we went that Sunday morning. I will never forget the shock I felt when my two kids raised their hands and came forward at the end of the service. They had given their lives to Christ. I fell to my knees in thanksgiving! We continued to go to Fresh Life, the kids and I always sharing with my husband the things that we learned. I don’t want to make my husband out to be a monster, he is a good guy. But I never…ever….ever thought that he would give his life to Christ. I prayed, but I suppose I prayed without much faith. We asked him to attend the Greg Laurie event on March 12th. He agreed! We were one of the last admitted to the 5:30 service. We stood in the isle and as Greg asked those to raise their hand if they would like to accept Christ as their saviour, I was compelled to do so. I was a bit confused at the compulsion, but felt it strongly. I said in my heart “Christ I have already given my life to you, accepted you as my saviour, why should I do this?” And then Gregsaid, “even if you have already given your life to Christ, but would like to do so publicly… That was ME! Through so many services I had wanted to come forward, to receive prayer, but something held me back. I turned to my husband and said “I have never done this publicly and would like to…” He said “Go ahead!” and smiled. I did. I walked forward, trembling, all the time still praying for my husbands heart to be opened to the Spirit. And then I felt someone holding my hand. I turned to see my husband standing next to me. I was in utter disbelief! Shame on me for doubting our Amazing God. It all made sense. I didn’t come forward before, because now at this time, I was able to come forward and accept Christ alongside my husband. Amazing. I wanted to fall on my face in thanksgiving, but didn’t want to scare my husband away, so stayed standing lol. So there you have it. And entire family accepting Christ as saviour. My son and daughter on their first visit to Fresh Life, and my husband on his first visit. I would call that, the amazing work of the Holy Spirit!
How about you? what is your God Story in a thumbnail? Share it in the comments section, I would be stoked to hear it.
Just got back from my first visit to the physical therapist, I will be
going three times a week for several months. To be honest it was a
refreshing change of pace just to get out of the house and go
somewhere. The fresh air felt so good. I hadn't been outside since
Sunday. As I stood on the porch leaning on my crutches breathing the
brisk montana air air in deeply I thought of psalm 96 which I had just
read, "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, tremble before Him
all the earth…let the field be joyful and all that is in it. Then
all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord." just being
outside invigorated me and made my heart thankful for Gods goodness.
The physical therapy felt good, we are and will be working on my range
of motion, and trying as hard as possible to keep my muscles from
atrophy while I am on crutches. I am also really hoping to be back on
my road bike by this summer. The therapist is a cool guy too. He
recognized me from a newspaper article on fresh life but is opposed to
religion. Now I have another goal! 3x a week he will be working on
my muscles but by God's grace I will be working on his heart.
Sent from my iPhone
Our Photography ministry captured some great shots from the Easter services. Here are a few of them, you can see the rest here.
At least that’s how it looks out the windows. I am definitely getting cabin fever. I have spent all but probably 13 minutes in doors for the past 11 days and the vast majority of the time I have been flat on my back. I have to walk around the house on crutches every couple hours because I am at risk of blood clots, because of the amount of blood and bone marrow I lost into my leg. Today as I look with longing out the windows the sun is shining, the wind is swaying the trees and I can see snow in the distance on the mountain tops. What I wouldn’t give to zip up a light jacket, throw on some shades and take a long walk. More realistically I will choose between watching a DVD or reading. The big excitement of the evening will be whether I hang out on the couch or in the bedroom. I realize that for some people endless hours relaxing seems heavenly but I am losing my mind. My normal life is pretty much perpetually lived in fast forward. I don’t think I have ever sat around so much. From what I hear from my parents, ever since birth I have been busy and on the go. I learned how to ski at the age of two and spent most of my youth as a cross between Calvin and Hobbes and Dennis the Menace. When my dad would spank me he used to always give me one extra swat and tell me it was for the things I had done that he didn’t know about. By the time I reached the age eighteen I had more than a dozen stamps in my passport. I love variety, spontaneity, and unpredictability, my wife would tell you I am trying to keep the world on it’s toes. So this domestic incarceration is definitely challenging my wild nature. I feel like a lion at the zoo. But the Lord is good and I am trying to learn as much as I can while He has me benched. Today, in Psalm 84 God was showing me how He wants worshipers to set their hearts on pilgrimage, to be always looking for a spiritual adventure. Just as I have been sitting around the house physically it can be easy to slip into a lethargic kind of Christianity. But God wants to challenge the status quo and keep us setting our hearts on what’s next. To never be content being “couped up” in the same old lessons and experiences but strive after fresh revelation. This won’t happen on it’s own, by nature water seeks it’s own level and our flesh keeps us taking the path of least resistance. It takes a dynamic decision of the “inner man” to choose the higher ground, new paths that are far more difficult but once blazed will unlock breathtaking views of the heart of God. I also love the challenge to be “zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day.” So that’s my challenge for the day, even though I am forced to recline my heart can still be running after the Lord. I am also so thankful to have been at the church services yesterday. Teaching while heavily medicated was a whole new adventure! I certainly blame the medication for the comment I made when the baby, that had somehow gotten into the 9am service, cried and I said “Somebody didn’t get the memo.” I don’t think I would have ever been quite so blunt under normal circumstances. Altogether it was an awesome day, many responses to the invitations at both services. One mother and daughter came forward together, it was particularly touching to watch. If you didn’t get a chance to go, you can see the service here.
What’s funny is that driving in I was lying across the backseat supported on pillows and I remember being out of breath from being lifted into the SUV and saying, “I can’t do this today, what am I thinking?” But it all went great. My life verse for ministry has been from 2 Corinthians where God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Time and time again I have presented God with a very weak vessel and God has shown Himself strong. The result is quite simply very rocking.
He is Risen!
I am so glad to be alive physically and in my heart on this Easter Sunday. I am backstage waiting and the second service just started. I made it through the first message by the grace of God. I felt weak at the start but was strengthened through the message and the place was packed. By far the biggest turnout we have ever had for the 9am service. In case I couldnt do more we had recorded the first in high-def and were prepared to roll the video for the second but I am going to stay and do the second one as well. What was awesome was to watch people come forward and make professions of faith, what a day to have God invade your life! Resurrection Sunday is a perfect spiritual birthday, one that will be easy to remember. My message is called The Rolling Stone. The most rocking event in human history was Christ's return to life defeating death, but first the stone was rolled away! Blessings, I gotta get ready to preach.
In Awe of Him,
I am thrilled to return to teaching on Easter Sunday. What a day! By far the superbowl of the Christian calendar. That illustration almost seems crass, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most radical and awesome event that has ever happened and by no means deserves to be compared to a beer drinking, pigskin throwing, ten million dollar per commercial, televised event. It is, however, the most viewed activity on the planet each year. But Jesus’ resurrection is the event that of any deserves the attention and worship of all of mankind. It gives hope to us who will all one day die. Because He rose, we can have assurance that death will not be the end for us either. What a day to preach, what wonderful news to be able to proclaim! Sadly, I will not be able to stand. For a week and a half I have only been able to lounge. Sitting is difficult unless I am reclined so even a wheelchair would be difficult. I had my guys work on a teaching setup that would replicate being propped up in bed or sitting on a couch. A few hours later I got a call to open up the web to a private webcast they were broadcasting for me. There was my assistant pastor, Coy demonstrating how a guy with a damaged leg could easily and comfortably preach from the stage at Fresh Life now. I called him, laughing and said–that’s comfortable Christianity at it’s finest! We’ll I usually teach the midweek sitting on a stool, but this is a whole different level. Hey, I would be willing to teach from a swimming pool–I am just excited to go to church.