Awesome Baptism

A couple of weeks ago we had our second baptism of the summer. I meant to blog about it at the time but somehow it slipped through the cracks until today. I have baptized people in pools, hot tubs, oceans, lakes, rivers and even a wave pool at a water-park. I must say we have definitely found a killer spot to have our fresh life baptisms. Whitefish lake has a beach called City Beach that is kind of a stimulated California beach–they have a lifeguard tower, and even truck in fine white sand. Just a couple hundred yards up the shore there is a grass park with gazebo’s and steps that lead down to the water, it looks like it was perfectly designed for a baptism. There is tons of room for the people who come to watch and a spot for those waiting to go down into the water. I love baptisms so much because they are a powerful visual of the gospel, dead to sin, buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life. Hearing the stories in the water of how people came to know Christ was awesome. Some were pretty intense, others more simple–all powerful stories of redemption. Over 40 different people went into the water and every testimony was unique but each had one thing in common–Christ came into their lives, healed them and set them free! You can see all the pictures here, but here are a couple.

(Explaining what baptism is all about and why we do it)

(this little girl is named Gracie, she gave her life to the Lord at a Jeremy Camp concert this summer)

(A pretty gorgeous backdrop)

(This dude came out of the water so pumped he could have fought a ninja)

(Here is the current pastoral staff at fresh life–proof that God uses the foolish things of the world!)

Set your minds on things above

Last nights service was so refreshing. It’s impossible to go wrong with worship, Bible study and Communion. It’s like the spiritual equivalent of going to the car wash. And that’s one of the reasons coming together with the Body to worship and adore Christ and thank Him for His death on the cross is so beautiful. It reminds you that your sins have been washed away. I’ve always loved how it feels to drive a clean car, it’s even better to have a spotless soul! It was also so special to have Greg Laurie give the Bible Study. His message was called The Inconsolable Longing and was about how we are embedded with a desire to go home and be in God’s presence where there is fullness of joy.
It was a message that was quite literally born out of his desire to understand more about what his son Christopher is experiencing right now in heaven. He showed how most of us don’t think about heaven nearly enough. Paul said in Colossians 3 that we are to set our minds on things above. Heaven should not just be a destination, but a motivation. It shouldn’t be a passing thought we entertain from time to time but a constant target we aim at and run towards. Unfortunately, he pointed out, when we do think of it often we imagine a lame, hollywood-version instead of what Scripture describes as being in store for us in Paradise. It is hard for us to wrap our minds around it but Heaven is not some opaque, cloudy downgraded version of earth. Rather it is everything this place should be but has fallen from and failed to be. What we often fail to realize is that our arrival in heaven will only be a stopover before returning to the earth where all things will be made new. He pointed to many scriptures to show some of the possible activities and interests in God’s presence. The message was very inspiring and made me realize how I need to focus more on heaven and how doing so will make me of far more use here and now.

You can watch or download the archived message here.

Greg Laurie At Fresh Life

I was planning on speaking at Fresh Life tonight but when I found out that my good friend, Greg Laurie, was willing to teach I jumped at the chance. Greg is out enjoying a few beautiful days of autumn in Montana with his family and it has been so wonderful to get to spend time with them. It was just two months ago today that Greg’s oldest son, Christopher, went to be with the Lord. Understandably Greg’s focus and thoughts have been on heaven lately and that is exactly the topic he will be speaking on tonight. Over the last couple months it has been my goal to encourage him as he has gone through this deep trial but he is so focused on Christ and full of faith and courage that I have been encouraged by him whenever we talk. It’s not that he doesn’t miss his son–he misses him intensely, but he firmly believes in the gospel he has preached for 35 years and now he is holding on to the Lord more than ever before. What has really blown me away has been his willingness to preach and speak through the pain. And God is using Christopher’s life and story to minister powerfully to people as Greg talks about his son’s life on earth and where he is now in heaven. Here is a blog entry that Greg wrote about heaven yesterday that really blessed me. I am trying to file all these lessons away because I know that we will all eventually face the death of loved ones and I can only hope that by God’s grace I will be able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death as nobly and valiantly as Greg and his family have.  

Hopefully you will either be able to make it to fresh life in person tonight or tune in online at because I know you will be stoked. 

Coming Soon

Next Sunday I will give the final message in the Sex and the Scriptures series. It has been rad going through the Song of Solomon, but I am way stoked for what is coming next. In October we will be launching a new series called At Worlds End and we are going to be studying the book of Revelation. It all starts Sunday, October 12th and it will all be webcast live and available to watch or download later online.

a big dude

This Wednesday night I taught 1 Samuel 17 which is the story of David and Goliath.  The Bible says that Goliath was six cubits and a span. One cubit measures approximately 18 in. and one span about 9 in., making Goliath about 9 ft. 9 inches in height.  To put that in perspective the tallest person living today is Bao Xishun and he is 7 ft. 8.95 inches tall, but still two feet shorter than Goliath. According to the Guinness book of World Records the tallest person in medical history for whom there is irrefutable evidence is Robert Pershing Wadlow.  He was born in 1920 and was a massive 8 ft. 11 inches, here is a picture of him with his dad.  As tall as this guy was,  Goliath was still 10 inches taller!  

Now imagine being a young shepherd, armed only with a sling and some rocks approaching this massive dude. He probably felt pretty small in comparison.  

Currently, the shortest person in the world  is a 20 year old from Inner Mongolia named He PingPing who is 2 ft. 5 inches tall.  
I imagine David felt like this young guy as he walked across the Valley of Elah to defend his nation and the name of His God.  Though from a human perspective David was up against a giant, in truth it was Goliath who was in over his head.  He had set himself against the Living God who makes even the biggest of men seem tiny. Isaiah 40:12,15-17 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, Measured heaven with a span And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales….Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, And are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him are as nothing, And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless. And the hills in a balance?
So even though the Israelite army that watched David walk out alone to fight probably thought, poor David, the truth is they should have been saying, poor Goliath!  He was the one about to find out that he was in a fight way outside of his weight class.  It was an encouraging and exciting message for me to prepare and deliver.  Like caffeine for the soul.  Not just because it was like watching Old Testament U.F.C. but because the contrast between fear and faith was inspiring.  If you missed it you can grab the archive here.

David and Goliath

Ever since I was a little kid my favorite character in the Bible has been David.  I just loved how he was so young but not afraid to let God use Him to do awesome things.  As a kid I could never hear the stories of him being attacked by lions or bears too many times.  I especially loved the ufc fight between him and Goliath.  He was way outmatched but God was with him and he conquered. Plus, he used a sling shot (how cool is that) and then he cuts off the giants head and carries it around–classic.  

I also love the way you can squint your eyes at David’s life and see Christ in Him.  Jesus was called the Son of David and like His ancestor He was anointed as King in God’s eyes before man recognized who He was.  He came to shepherd the lost sheep of the house of Israel.   And like David’s conquering Goliath of Gath Jesus conquered sin by dying on Golgotha.  I am so excited to teach the story of David and Goliath tonight, because even though I have loved the story my whole life I have never taught it before.  I hope you’ll either come or tune in. 

Proud to be an American

I have a friend who is a pilot and was standing on the tarmac with him at the Kalispell airport yesterday. A couple of us were looking at a plane he flies when we heard a majorly loud aircraft approaching in the distance. As we looked up there was a fighter-jet coming from the direction of Glacier Park and it did a fly-by turning on a dime right over us and then shot off out of sight again–very cool. But he came back around and set up for what looked like a landing, his wheels were down and he descended until he was almost on the ground. But at the last second he hit the gas and tore off peeling away to the side. It was so loud, and so close (only a hundred yards away or so) that it literally rumbled us to the core as it screamed away. One thought crossed my mind–I’m proud to be an American! It was like the sound of freedom. Then he came back around and landed for real this time and came out of the plane.

We found out that he was originally from Kalispell and flew here today to show his high school friend his plane while he was temporarily in Missoula. I’m sure he must be pretty important to be able to go visit a buddy in a 39 million dollar airplane! His plane said that he had been “plane captain of the year” at some point and maybe taking the F/A-18 hornet out on a social call was his reward. I had never been up so close to one and felt like a little boy getting to see where the rockets attach on under the wings, the hole where the machine guns shoot out of the nose and the hook on the bottom that catches the cable on the aircraft carrier. Neat. I sure am thankful for all those who serve in the armed forces of this great nation.

Make Up Sex

That was the title of my message last Sunday. I shared in my introduction that a friend saw this title announced on the fresh life website ahead of time and was shocked. I gotta admit it’s not really your average Sunday sermon title, in fact it sounds more like a movie that would play on HBO than a topic to talk about in church. He quickly fired me off an email—that said—“Make up sex?” Wondering, what many people in church probably thought when they opened up their bulletins, how is this going to work exactly? But the reality is, this married couple had a fight and then resolved the conflict, in the last chapter, and now I am teaching the following chapter where they happen to make love. Seemed pretty self-explanatory, if you have read Song of Solomon 7, so I wrote back—”What else do you call sexual intimacy after a fight?” He wrote back one word: UNLIKELY.

I thought that was clever. But the truth is one of the perks of fighting (fairly) in marriage does happen to be making up, though that shouldn’t be incentive to pick a fight on purpose! We not only discussed make-up sex in particular but spoke about sex in marriage in general and emphasized how to keep the passion going as time passes. It’s interesting because there are two sex chapters in the Song of Solomon, one is the Wedding Night and the other is the one we studied on Sunday where they have been married for a while. I think we’d all expect the honeymoon to be pretty steamy, but to be honest between the two I was far more embarrassed teaching this week. At one point during the first service I actually had to turn my back on the audience for a moment to regain my composure because I couldn’t even believe some of the verses I was reading.

Here is the text: Song of Solomon 7:1-10 How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter! The curves of your thighs are like jewels, The work of the hands of a skillful workman. Your navel is a rounded goblet; It lacks no blended beverage. Your waist is a heap of wheat Set about with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle. Your neck is like an ivory tower, Your eyes like the pools in Heshbon By the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon Which looks toward Damascus. Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel, And the hair of your head is like purple; A king is held captive by your tresses. How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! This stature of yours is like a palm tree, And your breasts like its clusters. I said, “I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches.” Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, The fragrance of your breath like apples, And the roof of your mouth like the best wine. The wine goes down smoothly for my beloved, Moving gently the lips of sleepers. I am my beloved’s, And his desire is toward me.

Needless to say, this couple had a pretty rocking sex life. Far from boring, their love life only got better with time. This, however, doesn’t come easily, and it will not happen on it’s own. Like tending a fire—can’t ignore it. You must Stoke the fires of passion in your relationship constantly or they will go out. If you aren’t experiencing this kind of satisfying sex in your marriage—you need to plant seeds of kindness and affirmation to reap these results it won’t happen on accident. This Sunday I am going to be talking about weekend get-aways, one very practical and intentional step you can take to rekindle things and keep your marriage full of life.

To hear the make up sex message click here, or you can watch it by clicking here. Make sure to tune in Sunday for one of the last three Song of Solomon messages.

7 years ago today

9/11/01 Was one of those moments where everyone can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of the terrorist attacks. Like the Kennedy assassination and the attack on Pearl Harbor for a younger generation. I can remember exactly what was going on when I heard that a plane had “accidentally” crashed into one of the twin towers. I had flown through New York City only a week before on my way to old York where I was going to school in England. My flatmates mom called us while we were grocery shopping. We rushed to a fish and chip shop where we watched live footage of the smoking building and along with the rest of the world watched the another plane crash into the 2nd tower. Soon we learned that this was no accident but a deliberate and intentional act of evil. Equally horrified, homesick and devastated I felt so far from America and yet Great Britain reeled from the attack as well. The next day all across the country there was a minute of silence as Tony Blair asked the country to join in solidarity with the United States. Stores and homes all over the city had American Flags placed in windows that had been printed and placed in newspapers for that purpose.

Yet here we are not even a decade away and already it’s fading. Generally speaking it is easy with time and distance for us to forget about these sort of things. Generation’s coming up behind tend to lose sight of such serious occasions from the past. We’re only 66 years removed and I would be extremely shocked to hear what the average young person knows of the significance of the attack on Pearl Harbor. How many would be able to point out that it was the event that caused the US to enter WW II? But if we don’t learn from the past, we stand to see it repeated. Remembering is important but it should lead us to action. Above all it should cause us to pray. The thousands who were killed on September eleventh left behind tens of thousands of family and friends who today are still hurting and need our prayers.
In an election year we also need to consider who we vote for in light of the reality of this somber anniversary, asking the question who will be able to best deal with evil we saw exposed seven years ago today? Because the reality is that as bad as September 11 was, it was not the full extent of the Radical Islamic war against America. It was just the first shot, certainly the shot heard round the world, but it’s not over. According to the Radical Islamic world view the United States is the great Satan and needs to be wiped out completely. We should pray for those who hate us to come to know Christ but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take steps to protect our freedom.

Yossef Bodansky, former director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, said in 2004 that the United States is losing the war on terrorism and faces an “inevitable” al-Qaida attack with weapons of mass destruction that will be worse than 9/11 — “All of the warnings we have today indicate that a major strike – something more horrible than anything we’ve seen before – is all but inevitable.'”

Let’s pray and seek God–and vote accordingly!

Resolving Conflict and Receiving Citations

Last Sunday I taught a message called Staying in Sync, it was all about resolving conflicts in marriage. Fighting is inevitable–but fighting fairly is a choice. We talked at the end of the message about 9 ground rules to keep in mind when working through arguments.
The funny thing was that Jennie and I had a disagreement the next day while driving home. Fortunately, we remembered the rules—even joked that we need to make sure to follow them. And I am happy to let you know that we worked it out perfectly. She did a great job of opening up and telling me what was bothering her—didn’t bottle it up I did a great job focusing on what she was saying and really trying to listen to how I hurt her feelings. I did such a good job of paying attention to her—I didn’t even realize I blew right past a cop parked on the side of the road! I may not have seen him, but he sure saw me. Fortunately it was a construction area so the fine was doubled. The best part was when he asked for my license I told him it was in my briefcase—he said that’s ok just tell me your name and address…then he added and who is your employer? Uh Fresh Life Church…I thought about inviting him to come–as long as he didn’t mind a criminal for a pastor.
The morale of the story is: If you have a fight in the car—maybe wait until you are at home to work it out!
(I was able to snap a shot of the lights in my rear view mirror before he got up to my window.)

Here are the 9 rules for fighting fairly that we talked about.
1. Fight to resolve not to win
The goal shouldn’t be to win or lose, but to identify what happened and how it can be remedied.
2. Don’t let things add up.
Deal with them as soon as possible
But do not rush a quiet mate to talk before they are ready
Need to Understand that not everyone communicates the same way
3. Be specific
Don’t generalize–Don’t use words like always or never
4. Don’t “go there”
Don’t dredge up ancient relationship history, be rude or mean. Don’t push hot buttons or bring their family into it and above all things, don’t threaten to leave. The “d” word, divorce, is off limits. Don’t joke about it, throw it out in a moment of anger or at all.
5. Listen
Try to Listen as much as you talk, give them time to answer, don’t interrupt and don’t be in a hurry to “fix” everything—instead just listen and allow them to vent.
6. Be humble
Put yourself in their shoes and show the love of Christ
consider anything you might have done even if you are the one who was hurt
7. Take it seriously
If it’s important to them, it needs to be important to you, don’t minimize or sweep things under the rug.
8. Don’t confront them publicly
Show a united front when around others.
Don’t use the kids as collateral—and put them in between you two.
9. Be quick to forgive.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.