Last night I returned to teaching the book of 1 Samuel after being away since December. Holiday services, the church birthday, guest speakers and other things diverted our attention. But that long of a gap definitely left some cobwebs on the characters and events of the first 27 chapters that we had studied. I knew the break was coming so I tried hard to finish the book ahead of time but left 4 chapters behind. I felt going back to the study like Hollywood must have after the 2007/2008 writers strike ended and they began to return to shows that had been suspended mid-plot. I am a fan of the show, Lost, and I noticed that what they did to refresh everyone on the happenings on the island was to air a bonus episode recapping the events of the season and reacquainting the audience with the characters and their backstories. It worked.
Following their lead, last night before our study of chapter 28, where King Saul enters the wild world of witchcraft, I recapped the first 27 chapters in just under 18 minutes. It was kind of like a birds eye view of the book. If you didn’t catch the message last night at the strand or online, (maybe you don’t have TiVo and you couldn’t stand missing the newest episode of Lost 🙂 here is the recap vid:
When we finish 1 Samuel in two weeks we will be heading straight into 2 Samuel because the two volumes were originally one book and we don’t want to miss a thing! If you haven’t been going through the series this is a great way to get up to speed and you can join us for the ride to come. I really enjoy the midweek studies, because there aren’t the same time constraints as there are on weekends and we can bite off larger chunks of scripture and cover more ground.
This weekend my little brother, Daniel (who is taller than me–thanks for bringing it up by the way) got married. We are two years apart and though there certainly was friction at times growing up, we have always been close. I am so proud of his achievements as a film maker. He has directed several very cool documentaries, and I am sure that his best work is yet to come. He married a sweet girl who loves the Lord and I am very excited for them as they start their life together. Alivia was the flower girl and was super cute. She did get a little fidgety during the ceremony and began eating leaves from her bouquet. Very funny. Here is a pic of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Lusko. A ton of friends at the wedding were asking who was filling in for me at fresh life and I thoroughly enjoyed telling them with a smirk that I was my own guest speaker! Through the magic of technology even though I was away from Montana, I was still able to teach at church. What I did was study like normal and then preach my message before I left in front of a camera and then we played it life size in high-def during the services on the big screen. Just one of many times where having church in an old movie theater helps out. When I am away, we often hear from the other pastors on staff and great guest speakers from around the country and it is always awesome but we have had such great momentum in our current series, At Words End, that I decided to press on. The message was on Revelation 7 and if you missed it you can check it out online. Before I went to a local church this morning I watched the 9am webcast from fresh life and I must say it felt very, very odd watching myself teach while I ate breakfast. If you didn’t catch the explanation I gave at the beginning it would be impossible to know it was a back to the future style hologram deal. As I watched the invitation I gave at the end of the video I prayed for those at church God was ministering to who didn’t know Him through the message. And I was told that 7 people responded to the invitation throughout the 3 weekend services, Epic! I am so blessed to see the technology we have at our disposal, in this day and age, harnessed to deliver God’s Word.
Here are some pics of the fresh life sign going up at the Strand. It came out looking great and we are pretty amped about it. I love how the vines shoot out from the sign, and at night the words glow in the dark–which combined with our flashing neon makes the church hard to miss during evening services. (Flashing neon lights are technically illegal and new ones can’t be installed but since our building is over 90 years old and they were installed before they were outlawed we are allowed to keep them…gotta love that! I like to think they are our take on old school church bells.)
I’m sure u saw in the news, but a plane flew into a flock of geese in NY and crash landed in the Hudson River outside of Manhattan. Fortunately everyone survived. Ill bet that everyone, on the plane, who tuned out the safety speech was going–now where did she say those life preservers were? I know I have multi-tasked through “your seat cushion doubles as a floatation device” on my fair share of flights. This definitely puts that inattentiveness into perspective! As someone who gives eternal “safety talks” on a weekly basis I also know what it feels like to be on the other side of the microphone. I have looked out on glazed expressions, text-messagers and those who nodded off while I was going over how to have your destination after death rerouted to Heaven. (Once I even had a bottle thrown at me while preaching in a skatepark.) While presenting the gospel, I am aware, just like on a flight, that the information I am going over will be life-saving in the guaranteed event of a “crash” that comes at the end of every life. The pics on the news of people exiting the plane today were sobering–those people are very fortunate to be alive–and I hope and pray that any who don’t know Christ will see this second chance at life as an opportunity to get right with Him. I will also try and work on being a better listener when I travel by air 😉
Today is the first day of year three of ministry in Montana, and I am excited. The first two years were unbelievable and I hope God does exceedingly more in the next two. (If He doesn’t return before then!) Before last night I can’t recall ever having been to a birthday party for a church, but it was a lot of fun. We heard tons of God Stories, sang some fresh life fav’s with Kev and his killer band, ate cake and had a great time. I shared a message called, “Lessons from a 2 year old” basically what I have learned from this church plant experience. Here is a little video we played to recap the two years:
If you didn’t make it–you can check out the archive at fresh life’s website. There was even a cake shaped like the Strand–I’ll def have to post a pic whenever the photos go up on the photos page. We also made sure to point out that the celebration wasn’t about what we as a church have done or the pastoral staff has accomplished but what the Lord has done building HIS church. The theme verse for the night was Psalm 115:1–“Not unto us, O Lord, but to Your name be the glory!”
Two years ago today fresh life began–amazing. So much has happened in such a short time. Feeling nostalgic this morning I pulled up a little video we made for our church dedication about 8 months into the church plant.
Even though it was only made a year and 4 months ago the pictures seem like they are from another lifetime. Time is crazy like that. In the last year alone the church has grown by over 300% and so many people have made decisions for Christ. It truly has felt like snowboarding in front of an avalanche.
Some of my strongest memories of this past year have been:
Our first Sunday at the Strand on January 6thThe outreach with Phil Wickham and Greg Laurie on March 12th
Preaching on a couch (and on heavy medication) Easter Sunday with a broken femur
Christopher Laurie’s visit to Fresh Life with his familyPreaching the Sex and the Scriptures series
The Baptisms at Whitefish Lake
Adding the Saturday night service Dedicating my daughter, Lenya
I am so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to be apart of this work and am so stoked to find out what He to come. Happy Birthday Fresh Life!
I can’t hardly believe that tomorrow is the two year anniversary of fresh life church’s first service. Two years ago today we had just moved here from Southern California and were wondering if anyone would come to church in the morning. A few did. On that first Sunday 14 people showed up to study God’s Word and worship Him through singing. Flash forward two years and this past weekend there were over 1,000 people in a 95 year old movie theatre, gathered to do the exact same thing. We have grown but our purpose has remained unchanged: to know and glorify Jesus Christ–to make Him famous. Tomorrow night at our midweek study we are going to have a little birthday party (with cake and everything–but no, we will not be playing pin the femur or the faux-hawk on the pastor, but those two ideas were very funny) to celebrate the Lord’s work in the past two years. We encouraged people to email email@example.com and tell us what He has done in their lives. We will incorporate some into the night and all will be posted on our site this week. They have all been great to read, here is an excerpt from one:
“…It is all about Jesus, living for Him, and helping others be ready for His return. It’s a place for my entire family to learn great truths and how to apply them to our everyday lives…I am so excited to get to church each week and hear the next installment. I’ve known the Bible all my life, but it is ALIVE again. My boys listen to the whole sermon and discuss parts later. (They used to barely make it through a 20-minute sermon!)…I love the youth, the jeans, pajama bottoms, tattoos, piercings, dread locks, etc. It’s all about the heart, and not about the appearance. I feel comfortable and real. I don’t have to pretend to be anything that I’m not…”
Awesome! I am stoked as well just imagining what the Lord has in store for the future. Here is another snowblog video–definitely the most random yet. Many Blessings, and even if you don’t come to fresh life in person you can share a god story–if you watch online or join us by podcast from anywhere in the world, or maybe you pray for fresh life–we’d love to hear your story. You can leave a comment here and we will get it.
This weekend I am teaching on the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In Revelation 6:1-8 four gnarly forces are released on the earth as the tribulation begins. I called the message, “A Radical Rodeo.” Interestingly enough, it all starts with a false sense of peace brought by the person the Bible calls AntiChrist. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding this mysterious individuals identity. But we are never told to focus on the coming of Anti-Christ but rather to look for the return of Jesus Christ. If our study of prophecy does not bring us closer to Him and make us more passionate about evangelism we are missing the point. The purpose of the book is to reveal Him and His program–that’s the big picture, not that we would spend our time looking for hidden codes and trying to figure out the day Jesus is coming back. We know He will come, but in the mean time we have work to do!
Here is a little video we played before the message, these interviews were filmed in Kalispell. I had several tell me that before this weekend they wouldn’t have done any better answering the first question than these people did. I guess it’s not a real familiar passage of scripture–but Johnny Cash did include it on his song, When the Man comes around, it’s a killer song. (We did catch the typo on “horsemen” before it played at services.)
P.S. Today is, my wife, Jennie’s birthday–Happy Birthday honey! She is an amazing friend, wife, mother and ministry partner. I am so thankful the Lord blessed me with such an epic mate. She loves Jesus more than I do and always inspires me on to greater intimacy with Him. If you want to wish her a happy birthday leave a comment on this post and I will make sure she sees it.
I had the opportunity today to take a tour of the Billy Graham Library, which is on the same property as the ministry headquarters in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina. It was 55 degrees outside and rainy today, but I must say it felt hot after winter in Montana! I read Billy’s autobiography, Just as I am, when I was in Bible College in England but this brought it to life. It was a very impacting experience. If you ever get the opportunity to visit then take it. I read all about it online when it opened a few years ago but seeing it in person was special. As you go through the multi-media tour it takes you through his life and ministry. It is very well done and shows you the singular passion of Billy and Ruth Graham–the gospel.
All my life I have had the deepest admiration and love for this simple man that God has used in the most amazing ways. What a tremendous and powerful testimony his bold and passionate life has been. And through all the notoriety and fame that has come his way being the friend of 11 presidents and communicating the gospel to more people than anyone in history, he remained humble and selfless. Apparently he was quite resistant to the whole idea of the Library being built and didnt’ want any attention on him but when his son Franklin, who spear-headed the project, told him it would be used to spread the gospel he consented. I was told that when he toured the Library for the first time he remarked, “that’s too much Billy Graham…” Still as passionate about the focus being on Christ as ever! Yet it has been used powerfully since it was built, in the past six months alone 1,300 people have made commitments to Christ after going through it. You can see more info about it here. I also shot a little video (Only in a few of the spots–the rest of the time I was either choking back tears or too busy being inspired and praying for God to move in my life and use me to reach the lost until I have no more strength in me like Billy has.) I encourage you to keep Billy in your prayers. He just turned 90 and I know he misses his wife Ruth who is in heaven very much. Also keep the BGEA in your prayers as they seek to continue to spread the gospel.
I am in North Carolina for a full day of meetings at the BGEA headquarters today. Getting out of Montana was no small feat (Taking off in heavy snow was sketchy but the reindeer pulling the plane did a great job) and three flights later I made it here. You know you are at the headquarters of this awesome evangelistic ministry when you pull off the Billy Graham freeway onto Billy Graham Parkway. I deeply respect this organization and am also stoked to tour the Billy Graham Library later in the day.