Samuel is born

I flew next to a woman on a plane recently and our conversation turned to religion, she was surprised to find out I was a pastor, “you don’t look like a pastor!” I guess I took that as a compliment, I am not sure what a pastor is supposed to look like. She later said I’m not at all religious but wanted my kids to be, they went to church every week their whole upbringing…but it didn’t take. It was all I could do to not say, no wonder.
I told her, If you are not into it why should they be? Kids have a sixth sense for hypocrisy. If you are not honest or faithful or proud why would they want to be? Conversely a good example will be a powerful pattern for them to follow. 

Abraham Lincoln put it this way, “For a man to raise up a child in the way he should go, he must go that way himself.”

The truth is we have an incredible power as a parent to shape, and to transform the life of our children.  This is so visible when you consider what a great impact a mom had on the protégé of the Apostle Paul—young timothy.  We know in the end he became a great evangelist 2 Timothy 4:5 But you do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  We know that Paul stepped into this young man’s life as a mentor and trained him but he let’s us know that before he ever began grooming him he had been apprenticed by his momma.   2 Timothy 3:14-15 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

His mom had shaped his heart long before he met the famous preacher.  Like the old spanish proverb says, “An ounce of parent is worth a pound of clergy.”
Last night in 1 Samuel we saw the birth of Samuel to a truly awesome mom.  Her name was Hannah and though she was barren at the outset of the book, she called on the Lord and God gave her a child that she gave back to Him.  This is the job of every godly mom and dad, to dedicate their children to the Lord.  If you missed the study you can watch it or grab it here.

1 Samuel

Don’t forget, tonight we are beginning a brand new book, 1 Samuel. This book seriously rocks. It is full of so many characters, Samuel, David, Jonathan, Saul, Michal, Abigail, and Nabal and that big dude Goliath. It is action packed and you won’t want to miss a single study. Especially not tonight where we will spend some time setting it all up, talking about the author, date it was written, purpose of the book and major things to pay attention to. Of course it will be webcast live and archived for watching and on the podcast.

Lost Boy

A few months back Greg Laurie sent me an advanced copy of his soon to be released autobiography called Lost Boy. It was a Saturday, my study day and I was working on my Sunday sermon. I thought I would read a chapter or two and get back to work. Several hours later I was halfway through the book and behind on my message! It was that good. Seeing this amazing man of God who I have respected and wanted to be like my whole Christian life grow up in an anything but Spiritual environment was an exciting journey. The book was just released and I think everyone should read it, it’s like a biography on red bull!   It will blow you away to watch how God worked behind the scenes in Greg’s life to bring Him to Christ and turn this lost boy into a megaphone to reach the lost.   You can pick a copy up here.  What is also exciting is that for 2 years there has been a documentary film version of Lost Boy in the works. It is due out at the end of June and we are going to be showing it 4th of July weekend at the Strand. Sunday night, July 6th we will be showing it and Greg will be making an appearance and speaking after the movie is shown. We are challenging people to invite a friend who doesn’t know the Lord to come and watch–and to be sure–be exposed to the gospel.

A day to remember

Today is Memorial Day, the 140th anniversary of a day set aside to remember and thank God for all those who have died protecting our country and the freedom we enjoy and all too often take for granted. This day is important, but it seems that the sobering and significant purpose of the occasion has been misplaced behind barbecues and sales at the mall.
I remember a few years back I was walking on the beach with a film crew in Southern California interviewing people about the significance of the holiday. I asked why on a Monday were they not at work or school? Many were able to name the reason as being Memorial day and some proudly stated that our troops who have died deserve our respect and gratitude. But I was shocked at the amount that didn’t know what they were supposed to remember. Kind of defeats the purpose of the day– but they seemed glad to be at the beach nonetheless. Several told me it was Labor day and still another said they thought it had something to do with a battle that America had won. One young man said it was a day to mark the beginning of Summer.
The truth is we are very quick to forget very important things and this is as true historically as it is spiritually.

Read these words delivered by PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN, in a radio address to the armed forces on April 17, 1945, less than a month before the surrender of Nazi Germany to Allied forces during World War II.

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices, the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon. At this decisive hour in history, it is very difficult to express my feelings. Words will not convey what is in my heart.”

This is the kind of attitude we ought to have today. I am deeply thankful for those who have served and those who are serving our country in the armed forces, especially in far away places like Afghanistan or Iraq, this Memorial Day. Make sure to keep those in prayer who are grieving as they remember their loved ones who have laid their life down in the name of Freedom. Pray that God would comfort them and if they don’t know Him that they would give their lives to Jesus. In the sacrifices many men and women have made, literally laying down their lives for others we also see a demonstration of the kind of love Jesus showed us. He laid down His life in an act of love for the world that we might be spiritually and eternally set free.

Tasting Forgiveness

The services were so special today. Not only were they communion services, but our verse by verse study brought us to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as documented by John It is also memorial day weekend, a time set aside to remember the soldiers who have laid down their lives for the freedom of this great country. That is the idea behind communion as well, remembering. It is meant to be a multi-sensory “memorial” of what Jesus did to set us free from sin and death. It was very intense to explore both the horrors and the beauty in the many layers of what is the central truth of Christianity, Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead (which we will explore next week.) We see crosses in churches and in jewelry and art all the time, and they are beautiful but in reality it was an ugly and gruesome instrument of death. But through such an awful execution God paid the price for our sin and if we receive that free gift we can be saved. We studied the scriptures and in our minds we watched Jesus suffer, struggling to breathe but managing to make 7 statements of supreme significance before dying and going to His Father. While that picture remained in our mind we worshiped the Lamb who was slain and partook of the elements that are symbols of His death, and the source of our eternal life. John tells us in Revelation that we will praise Jesus forever and ever in Heaven for what He has done and we got a taste of that right here on earth today. It was awesome. As we drank the grape juice and ate the crackers we literally got to experience once again what forgiveness tastes like. If you missed the service you can watch the flash video here.

Clouds without rain

Sorry for the miscommunication, we had a video prepared to announce our new Wednesday night series we are about to launch but due to a technical glitch it never ran. Starting this Wednesday night we will begin a vs by vs study of the book of 1 Samuel. I am very excited about it, David has always been a hero of mine. We are also getting very close to the end of John. This Sunday I will be teaching on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, no doubt the single most significant event in history. I have been in California “substitute teaching” while Pastor Greg Laurie was in Israel. I taught the three Sunday services, the day 7 service Sunday night and the midweek last night. It was a fun trip getting to work with the harvest staff, in over 30 years God has done amazing things through that church. They have a giant jumbo-tron outside for all those who can’t fit within, and two satellite campuses, an amazing Christian bookstore and a killer cafe that serves Peet’s coffee. If you ever have the chance to visit I recommend the trip. I also can’t wait to see what God has planned for Fresh Life in the next 28 and a 1/2 years. (if the Lord tarries!)

Sent from my iPhone

Out of Ephesians into ??

As you know I finished my midweek series in the book of Ephesians. It was a blast learning about our wealth in Christ, the walk of the believer and the warfare we are all promised to encounter. Tonight at fresh life we will be announcing what we will be studying next. I’m not going to give it away, you’ll have to show up or watch online to find out. I will say I am stoked because it is an amazing book, one that I have been studying for two months in preparation. I have never taught through it before but have loved it my whole life and I think that especially in an election year it will be timely. I’ll give you a hint: the story mostly takes place in Israel, it may or may not include a goat toupee and there is a giant problem pretty early on. Post your guesses.

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Capo beach

This is capistrano beach in Dana Point California. When I lived here this was my favorite quiet time spot. I would read my bible, pray, meditate and think about bible studies I was preparing. I love outdoors spots to meet with God. Jesus had his special places too. I have found new places to meet with the Lord in Montana and love it there. Where do you go to get with away with God?

A happy tree

The bible says that the “righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.” That makes it a happy plant in my opinion. And it can survive in heat or drought plus they are just plain cool.

A happy place

Is it the fresh ingredients? Friendly staff? The bible verses on the cups? What makes in n out burger so much better than all other burger joints? I don’t know but i think it is manna from heaven. Montana is a land where there is none. But after teaching 4x in one day I can think of no better way to recharge than with a double double animal style.