I’ll gladly admit, I am sort of a history geek. While I was in Philly I was so glad that I had a little time to do some sight seeing. Being in a city that was once our great nations capitol was awesome. I paid the Liberty Bell a visit, stood at the foot of Benjamin Franklin’s grave and took a tour of Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution was signed. (Out front there is a sweet statue of our nation’s first president, George Washington) I couldn’t help imagining what the gravity and mood must have been like in that room in 1776 when a little ragtag colony declared that it was free from Brittain’s rule. They did so knowing full well that the Empire would strike back! They were rebellious in a good way. Thanks to their vision of a free nation, so much sacrifice, God’s blessing, and the help of the French, we are the United States of America and we drink coffee instead of tea today! (In this video of Independence hall you can see the room setup as it was originally and George Washington’s actual chair is at the head of the room.)

I think that God wants us to live with that kind of courage and fearlessness today. In Matthew 11:12 Jesus said, And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. I can think of nothing that will help motivate us to live radically for the kingdom of Jesus Christ more than grasping the reality that He is coming again. This Sunday I am stoked to be kicking off my new series: At Worlds End–a study through Revelation. We will have our worlds rocked as we journey through this document that spells out what the future holds. Many have been intimidated by this book but if you know Christ you don’t need to be afraid, you’re on the winning team!

P.S. I couldn’t help wonder whether there were hidden secrets or maps all over the place while I was in these National Landmarks thanks to the movie, National Treasure!

Awesome God Story

I met this cop who was serving in security at the Harvest Crusade in Philadelphia. He had such a rad testimony that I asked if he could say it again so I could put it on my blog–here it is.  (sorry the quality is so sketchy–there were like 10,000 people freaking out all around and the crusade was about to begin.) 

Philly Cheesesteak

I love eating the native food when I travel, and to find out the best spot you have to talk to the locals. Trying to figure where to get the best Philly Cheesesteak is sort of like trying to figure what is the best ride at Disneyland, everyone you ask has something different say. I told people that I didn’t want to go to a touristy spot, I wouldn’t mind eating at a hole in the wall if it had the best food. I heard all sorts of different places: Tony Luke’s, Jim’s, Steve’s, Talk of the Town, even Ikea (I’m not even kidding.) But the two name’s I heard the most were Geno’s and Pat’s King of Steaks. They are both in South Philly and are actually right across the street from each other. Geno’s is lit up like the Las Vegas Strip. Pat’s is a bit more simple looking but claims to have been the inventor of the cheesesteak.

When I watched what people were walking away with I was very suprised to see that they were all lathered in Cheese Whiz, but the locals assured me that this was how it is done. Ordering at these places is pretty classic–there is a definite protocol. If you want fried onions you order it “wit” if you don’t it’s “witout.” “Whiz, wit”, meaning a cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and fried onions. Or “Provo witout” for a Provolone cheesesteak without onions. Here is the Pat’s sign (I guess you have to order properly or it’s kind of soup naziish.) I let one of the East Coast guys order for me and what I was handed was a “provo wiz wit.” My life flashed before my eyes momentarily. I did lose 15 pounds after breaking my femur, but I was pretty sure this would put half of that back on in one cheese covered swoop.

In all I have to say that while I am not a big fan of processed cheese, it was pretty tasty. Definitely worth trying if you’re ever in Philadelphia. The next night I went to another spot called talk of the town and tried one with chicken instead of steak and just provolone and I liked it alot better.

Philly Crusade night #3

Today was the last night of the Greater Philadelphia Harvest Crusade. I woke up early (still a bit jet-lagged as I have been each morning while on Montana time) to study because I spoke to the whole Harvest team at a Sunday “church” service. I spoke on John 12 where Mary, the sister of Lazarus, worships Jesus. She was criticized for her worship but the Lord said, “she has done what she can.” That is all that God wants from us, I told the crew that has been serving so hard to put on this crusade, no matter what it is we can do. For some it’s webcast, others organizing volunteers, for Greg it’s preaching, but everyone’s contribution is a valuable act of worship. Then it was onto famous Philadelphia blueberry pancakes–I feel like I have gained about 100 pounds on this trip (Philadelphia Cheesesteaks, Cheesescakes, Cream Cheese–it’s all so rich!) I am going to be coming home a much bigger person I am afraid.

I spent much of the afternoon just walking around downtown Philly getting lost in the urban jungle. I had the chance to invite several people to the event as well.

Tonight was the last night of the crusade, but it ended very well. Music by the Katinas and Mercy Me. At our wedding Jennie walked down the aisle to “I can only imagine” so it is always very special to hear it and I was glad they included it in their set. Greg gave a killer gospel message to the 12,000 people in the audience from John 3. He showed how Nicodemus had a 3-fold encounter with Christ–face to face, mind to mind then heart to heart. Through that Nicodemus learned what it meant to be born-again and have the promise of heaven. It was very powerful. At the invitation 1,016 people came forward to indicate that they wanted to turn from their sins and turn to Christ. In all 45,500 attended the three days and there were 3,365 decisions made. One of the local pastors told me something fascinating. In all of Philly’s history this weekend sits in the top 3 largest evangelistic meetings that have ever taken place. The other two that it is up there with are George Whitfields meetings in the 1730’s and BIlly Graham’s Crusade in 1992. That means that this weekend was not only eternally consequential but also historically significant. Very cool! Especially when you remember that Philadelphia is the murder capitol of the country with 400 every year. That means that someone is murdered at a rate of one every 22 hours. What’s more, 6 police officers are murdered every year or one every other month. All in the city of brotherly love!

Praise the Lord that His love was powerfully shown this weekend. I was so stoked to have gotten to be here for it and to host on Friday and Saturday.

I am very excited to get home to see my girls and to start the “At Worlds End” series in Revelation. I haven’t forgotten about my promised blog on the Philly CheeseSteak–I’ll try and get that up during my layover after this next flight!

Many Blessings!

P.S.–Here is a little vid I grabbed interviewing Bart from Mercy Me backstage:

Toby Mac

I mentioned that last night Toby Mac and his band performed at the crusade, he puts on a great show in concert and is really a cool guy with a rad heart. DC Talk was my all time favorite band when I was a kid, I think I probably burned through 500 AA Batteries jamming out to Nu Thang and Free at Last on my Walkman in the early 90’s. Looking back, it was such a hassle having to turn the tape over to hear the second half of the songs. And then the tape would get un-spooled and you would have to get a pencil to wind it back in! But nobody cared, only the rich kids had Discmen and iPods didn’t exist yet–we didn’t know better. I saw them in concert when I was 9 at Red Rocks in Denver. Me and my brother and sister got to go back stage after and meet the band and it pretty much remained as one of the highlights of my life for the next few years. I wish I had gotten a picture with Toby (Wearing MC Hammer Parachute pants at the time) so I could compare the two pictures. Of course everybody freaked about Jesus Freak and then after Supernatural they all sort of went their seperate ways. All three of the guys in the band have done solo projects but Toby Mac is the only one of them whose muic I have kept up with. He has continued to grow as a musician and his latest album, Portable Sounds, is really good. But his old school DC Talk stuff will always be special to me as the soundtrack of my childhood in my memories!

I grabbed a little footage of him doing a song called “the Slam” which he said he wrote sitting in his car after watching the Passion of the Christ because of how Jesus conquered sin and death, enjoy.

Philly Crusade night #2

Night #2 always seems to go smoother and for the Philly Harvest Crusade this was definitely the case. All the technical kinks from the opening night had been dealt with and last night was smooth sailing. The Wachovia Center filled up with a capacity crowd of 19,000 people and unfortunately a few people were turned away (but definitely invited back for Sunday night!) The musical guests were Kutless and Toby Mac with opening worship by the Katinas. There was a ton of energy in the room. During Greg’s powerful message on what it’s really like to be in heaven and hell everyone really seemed to be tracking and 1,374 people, many of whom were young, came forward to make decisions for Christ. All represent many prayers that have been prayed by loving believers for many years no doubt. Here is a little video I shot from the stage right after the invitation (at the time the estimate on the response was ballpark because the cards obviously hadn’t been counted yet.)

Here is a birds-eye photo of the stadium during the invitation that I snagged off of the Harvest Crusades blog, which has tons of photos, videos and articles on it, that gives you some scope of the response.

I am so thankful to the Lord that I have the chance to be apart of the awesome ministry he is doing here in Philadelphia. You can watch the archive of the event in a flash video here.

Philly Crusade night #1

Tonight was the first night of the 2008 Greater Philadelphia Harvest Crusade and it is off to a great start!  Over 12,000 people made it into the Wachovia Center, where the Sixers and the Flyers play for the opening crusade. The Katinas lead worship, and there was fantastic music by Leeland and Jeremy Camp.  I have known Jeremy Camp for about five years and I really appreciate his heart.  He shared about the pain of losing his wife and how through it all he learned to walk by faith and not by sight before singing his song “I still believe.”  

It was powerful, and it dovetailed perfectly with Greg’s message that was born out of his own grief these past months.  

He preached a message called, “What do you live for?” and gave an opportunity for people to give their lives to Christ and over 900 people came forward.  I never get tired of watching the looks on peoples faces as they make decisions to follow Jesus, whether it’s one in my office, a handful at a church service or hundreds at hockey/basketball stadium! 

 You can watch the archive of tonights event here.  And you can watch tomorrow night live on at 7:30pm Eastern live.   There will be music by Toby Mac and Kutless.   Many Blessings from Philadelphia.  Now it is almost 1 in the morning on the east coast and I have a stomach full of cheesesteak (look for a blog on that subject soon) and I am ready for bed.

Here is a little vid of Jeremy and his band getting crazy:

Made it to Philadelphia

I just woke up to a phone ringing and when I answered it to my suprise the voice giving my wake up call welcomed me to the city of Philadelphia. It took me a moment or two to remember why I was in Pennsylvania exactly. Three nights of Harvest Crusades at the  Wachovia Center. The flight from Montana out here yesterday took a good majority of the day (Kalispell is not exactly a major hub and I had to fly west to Seattle first) but I had plenty of time to study for my new series, At Worlds End, I begin a week from Sunday. I was, however, assigned the seat from hell–the middle seat on the very last row of the 757, which on a 5 hour flight is rough! I survived, but I forgot about US Airways new thing about charging for coffee which wouldn’t be a problem if I had remembered to bring cash. But I didn’t and they didn’t take cards. I was pretty close to selling my birthright or trading my iPod for a cup of coffee by the time we landed! Had a chance to have dinner with Greg and Cathe who had just got in as well and drive past the venue and pray for the weekend.

Please keep this event in prayer! I will be updating often. On another note, I am so stoked that my friend, Nate Holdridge, who pastors a rocking church in Monterey, California will be speaking for me this weekend at Fresh Life. Nate has been a good friend and is a gifted Bible teacher. I have been trying to get him out for a while and I am so glad this weekend worked out.

Sent from my iPhone

Pray for God to move in Philly

Later this week I will be flying to the east coast for the Philadelphia Harvest Crusade. Pray for God’s love to be shown powerfully in the city of brotherly love. Pray specifically for Greg Laurie as he prepares his messages and preaches the gospel, for the Harvest team as they handle all the details, for all the local churches that have been working together to host this crusade, and for many to come that don’t know Christ.
Philadelphia Harvest 08 with Greg Laurie