I had a very fun time yesterday biking in glacier park. After a day of studying and meetings, I dragged one of the guys on pastoral staff (I tried to make them all come) up to the park to bicycle going to the sun road. I had heard from several people how you can pedal the road before it is opened to cars and is an amazing ride. It was breathtaking. We rode from 7pm to 9pm and had a half hour of sunlight to spare at the end. You could see where avalanches had snapped trees down like they were toothpicks (made me think of Psalm 29:4-5 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars) and there was definitely some hazards in the road but it was one of the coolest rides I have ever been on. I did have a close encounter with a mountain goat at a spot where there was no guard rail between me and a cliff and at one point a deer ran beside me for at least a hundred yards before finally giving up. I guess it realized that resistance was futile, it was only a matter of time before I won. Jk. The view was drastically different than from a car, you appreciate just about every tree chugging slowly up hill. I couldn’t help but call to mind Romans 1:20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. I love reading books by authors that I know, and as I rode I smiled thinking how proud I am to be a friend of God. Then I realized, I better start paying attention to the road, I was flying down a hill at the moment. Here are a few mobile pictures that I can assure you don’t do the the view justice.
The end of the line. I always get sad when I reach it and tonight I am at that point of termination yet again. No, I’m not moving, but that makes me feel sad too. Tonight I will teach the last chapter of the book of 2 Samuel and be done with the study. In my two and a half years here I have taught all the way through: Acts, John, Ephesians, 1 Samuel, and Song of Solomon. Each time I come to the end I get nostalgic knowing I am going to miss the book. While teaching through I bond with the characters. Paul, Jonathan, David, Solomon, the Apostles and I become close friends as we hang out for hours and hours at a time 3 days a week, then–just like that– it’s over. I get Bible character emotional whiplash. I will even miss obscure people from the stories, like in 2 Samuel, I know I’m going to miss Asahel (who was as fleet of foot as a wild gazelle.) Fortunately, I learn way more than I teach each week so I am bringing much out of the study to take with me and I know I can go back for a cup of coffee with any of them as often as I want in the future. But it won’t be the same, you can never really go back.
And in a way that’s a good thing. Because the next time I journey into one of these books–there will be brand new lessons and truths waiting for me that I didn’t notice this time through, in addition to the lessons that I will need to be reminded of again. The Bible is a mine of inexhaustible truth. You can never reach the end of what God has for you there. That’s how you can read a verse or a passage you have read a million times and see something you have never seen. It’s a mistake to tune out a sermon if we have heard the text preached before or if we think we are already familiar with the doctrine in a particular passage. God always has something new and fresh waiting for us if we are willing to listen and engage with the right heart. Remember, it is a living book.
Martin Luther once said,
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me,
it has feet, it runs after me,
it has hands, it lays hold on me.
I hope you are having a relaxing memorial day. I am truly enjoying the warm weather we are experiencing in Montana. Right now I am relaxing on a comfy chair by a lake. Happy to have just had a great barbecue lunch and I have no plans except to read a little and enjoy the day. I am so thankful for all the brave soldiers who have died in the line of duty while protecting beautiful days like this in America. In a few hours I will put on a war movie, a yearly Memorial Day tradition that I find helps me to not mindlessly go through this holiday without feeling it’s significance. Watching Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, a few episodes of Band of Brothers or The Patriot brings to mind all the sacrifice so many have made in the name of Freedom. Without that intentional kind of reminder it can be easy to forget significant things. Kind of like taking communion reminds you of what it took for Christ to make us free from sin. I have also been praying today for those who have had loved ones die in the service. To any readers of this blog who are or have served in the armed forces–thank you so much!
A little bit of everything in this random video from the last day of the Black Hills Harvest Crusade. Enjoy.
596 people made decisions for Christ last night at the Black Hills Harvest Crusade! Greg gave an awesome message from John 5 called, “Do you want to change your life?” Here is a shot I snapped while Greg was praying with all these people as they called on the name of the Lord. So Rad. Although I love getting to travel with the Harvest team to big cities like Philadelphia, and San Jose–something about being in a smaller area is really special. Because in a city with a population of only 50,000 like Rapid City, the 1,000 plus people that have made commitments thus far is a relatively large percent of the total population. I love the thought that this city is literally being turned upside down by Christ through this weekend! What a pleasure to be apart of it. According to Luke 15:10 even one sinner who repents is enough to light up heaven. The music and energy was great tonight as well.
Here is a shot with Relient K. They put on a good show, and mixed up. During their set they broke into a cover of the theme-song from The Office as an intro to one song, and parodied the Subway 5 dollar footlong jingle–you don’t get much more random than that. One more night to go, excited to see what the Lord will do tonight.
I can check Mt. Rushmore off my list of things to see. I had the chance to check it today and it was awesome. (here is a pic in front of the famous, granite presidents with my good amigo, Jonathan Laurie) I am out in South Dakota hosting Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade. We ran into a few of the the guys from Relient K while we were scoping out the monument, they are cool and I am looking forward to hearing their music tonight. They were great last year at Harvest NYC at Madison Square Garden. Then we stopped for some ice cream at this little place called Fjords that I had seen on the food network (yes, I have been known to watch it on occasion–but it has to be when I can’t fall asleep really late at night–confession–I actually love the show “unwrapped” hosted by Mark Summers) The sunflower/honey ice-cream was surprisingly good. For behind the scenes action tonight check out my twitter.
This weekend at fresh life where we announced a new service that we are calling skull church. It will be the name of our newly tweaked midweek service starting June 17th. In this video I explain what that means exactly.
The idea goes back to when I was teaching a series of messages in Orange County, California on the death of Jesus called, “The events of skull hill” because Jesus died on Golgotha–place of the skull. In one of the teachings, I remember saying, “Someday I’d like to plant a church and call it Skull Church” because the most beautiful thing that was ever done in human history took place on an ugly hill shaped like a skull. I was so into the idea I bought skullchurch.com so I would have it in the future. Well, a year later I did plant a church but, as you know, we called it fresh life, and saved skull church to use down the road. The idea has been simmering in the back of my mind for the past 3 or so years and the Lord never let me let go of it. Now in just over 38 days it will come to life. I am stoked to see what the Lord will do through this new service.
you can help get the word out by:
Today driving to church I almost hit a large fox that was crossing the street right in front of me. I had never seen a fox outside of a zoo before. I looked but didn’t see any hounds chasing it down. Then, after church, I was walking from my car into a restaurant (Mexican) and witnessed a large hawk taking off 20 feet from me. In it’s talons was a squirrel that was twitching and struggling to get away, I was rooting for it. It did not get away. It was, however, very awesome to see.
Just thought I’d share.
Also this weekend we are making a big announcement at fresh life that I am super excited about. If you do miss it, look for it here Sunday evening or Monday morning.
Happy Cinco De Mayo! Today is a great opportunity to celebrate the Mexican defeat of the French in 1862. Way to go Mexico!
I fully intend to eat a fish taco and tip my sombrero to that little piece of history. Having lived in California and New Mexico and been across the border dozens of times on vacation and on ministry trips I really do love Mexico, it’s people, it’s culture, it’s cuisine. Especially the cuisine. If I had to live on one kind of food for the rest of my life it would definitely be Mexican food. Breakfast burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, nachos, even just chips and salsa. These are a few of my favorite things–and all of it must be as hot as possible. I appreciate what David Crowder had to say on the subject of killer salsa on his blog. These days whenever I smother my mexican food in Tabasco sauce I can’t help but smile and think of my friend Christopher, because to him and his brother Jonathan the use of Tabasco was and is an art form. Another good Cinco de Mayo thoughto–keep those who are suffering from the H1N1 flu in prayer and pray that the spread would stop and that God would turn people who are panicking to Him in repentance. God can use even bad things like this to save people.
Blessings! Now for those fish tacos…
Ever since I was a little kid my favorite Bible character (besides Jesus) was always David. I loved his whole story: slingshot victory, musical skills, flight from Saul, long and winding ascent to the throne, response to his sin, and similarities to our Savior–all of it. I can actually trace this back to the day it began. I was young, 5 or 6, and I wandered into my dad’s study where he was preparing a Bible study and had a teaching tape on by Greg Laurie. It was called “David: His Calling pt. 2” and was the second installment of a character study on David’s prolific life. I was really into it. So much so that I asked for it to be played again as my bedtime story that night, and for many, many nights to come. I still have the tape, it’s sits on my shelf reminding me of the power of the Word being sown into a life at a young age.
For the last year I have been so amped to go through the books of 1 and 2 Samuel at fresh life’s midweek study. It has been 32 messages and counting so far and I dig David more now than ever. He was by no means perfect–far from it. But even when he made mistakes, he applied himself to repentance as aggressively as he had to temptation once he was convicted of his sin. Hebrews tells us that as we run the race of this life we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are urging us on. This reminder comes in the wake of the hall of faith in chapter 11. I like to think of David and other saints of old cheering me on as I make my pilgrimage through this earth. His successes and failures both inspire me to take sin seriously and to look unto our Savior as I run. I can’t wait to meet him in glory!
Who is your favorite character from the Bible–and why?