watch on Youtube
Tonight is week 2 of our new series, The Bloody Death of Jesus Christ, at skull church. I am going to be speaking about Jesus’ religious trials that He faced. After being arrested He stood trial before Annas, the former high priest, then Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, both of these trials were illegally conducted and took place in the night. Then quickly he faced the Sanhedrin again in a cover-up trial just after sunrise the next day. In trying Christ the Jewish legal body broke every law in their book exposing their prejudice and animosity. But as we know, what man meant for evil, God used for good.
I am so thankful for my dad, Chip Lusko. He was the best man in my wedding and lives up to that title in every sense of the word. When I was a little kid his nickname for me was, “Levi major buddy guy.” And I absolute loved being his buddy, and still do. I have great memories of fishing trips, (whether we ever caught anything or not is not important) Denver Bronco games, and washing the car on Saturday mornings. Since he is in the ministry I grew up as a pastor’s kid and from the youngest age I wanted to be a pastor just like my dad. I even earned the nickname MicroChip because I would follow him around the church on Sundays as a little boy. I love and value his advice, example, and friendship to this day. Here is a shot from a day when we preached a sermon together a few years ago. Happy fathers day dad!
On June 17th, 2006, exactly 3 years ago, I preached a message at Ocean Hills Church, in Southern California, on Jesus’ journey to Golgotha to be executed. In the sermon I called attention to the fact that Jesus died at the place of the Skull and in it I said something to the effect of, Some day I’d like to start a skull church. I looked back and the line was even in my sermon notes. (Here it is pasted in as I had it written down: “I Kind of want to start a church/ call it skull church and have a logo on it.” I think I meant that it would have a skull logo on it) Little did I know that three years later, to the day, I would preach at Skull Church’s first service in Kalispell, Montana (of all places) and that there would be internet viewers watching from Texas, California, Brazil and New Zealand. It was rad, standing room only, the oveflows were packed to capacity and the place was full of energy. Best of all, 10 people responded to the invitation and made decisions to follow Christ!
We didn’t plan for the date to be on the birthday of the first skull sermon I preached, in fact we didn’t even make the connection until, in a spontaneous fit of nostalgia, I dug up the message last night . It struck me that God had brought a vision, that He had put into my heart, to life. I thought of Acts 2:17, which says, ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. It didn’t exactly happen how or where I thought it would but God makes everything beautiful in it’s time. So don’t be afraid to have vision, and dream big!
The skull church podcasts and video archive will be available on a one week delay from the day they are recorded so look out for it next week.
June 15, 2009
More Information: Coy Trammel- (406) 257-3339 Coy@freshlifechurch.org
KALISPELL, MONTANA – What does an Arab bus station, a skull and a church in Montana have in common?
All three play a part in an intriguing concept to present the timeless salvation story of Jesus’ death on a unique platform.
“When I was preparing a teaching on the crucifixion story four years ago in Southern California,” Fresh Life Pastor Levi Lusko said, “I wanted a new take on a familiar story. It occurred to me that Jesus died in Jerusalem at the place of the skull, Golgatha. I noticed that many board shorts and surf clothes people wear had skulls on them.”
In John 19:17-18 the Bible says, “Carrying the cross by himself, he (Jesus) went to the place called Place of the Skull. There they nailed him to the cross.”
“The most beautiful thing that has ever happened in history occurred in a place of death—God died in our place. Skull Church is a platform to amplify the message of what happened on that skull shaped hill to a lost world,” Lusko said.
From there, Lusko developed the concept of
‘Skull Church,’ which will kick off Wednesday night, June 17that Fresh Life Church in Kalispell, Montana and streaming live on the internet for people all over the country.
One of the most important events in the Bible, the death of Jesus Christ, is thought to have taken place just outside the
ancient walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
At the time of Jesus, Golgotha stood just above a busy thoroughfare, just as it is now. Because today, a bustling Arab bus station operates at Golgotha, blank faced passengers roll in and out under the watchful gaze of a rock skull, the hill that Jesus died on.
Skull Church will feature an unusual presentation surrounding a church service, but the main event will be very familiar for Fresh Life: An in-depth Bible study.
“The platform may be edgy, the music and media aggressive, but the heart of the night is to lead the audience into a better understanding of what the Bible says,” assistant pastor Coy Trammel said. And unlike some church services where an announcement is made to turn off mobile phones, at skull church phones can be used during the preaching to text-message in questions they have about the topic.
“The lights will be rocked out during the music, but you can be sure the auditorium lights will be on bright during the study for better Bible reading,” Lusko commented.
Skull Church is an unorthodox method of presenting an orthodox message. Lusko said the opening series will be,
‘The Bloody Death of Jesus Christ,’ a review of the torture endured by Jesus to pay for the sins of the world.
Fresh Life meets at the historic Strand Theatre three times each weekend and then for Skull Church on Wednesday’s at 7 PM. Lusko came to Kalispell in January of 2007 to start the church. Rapid growth has made it possible for over 1000 adults to attend each weekend. The impact and response of Skull Church remains to be seen, but as Lusko says, the gospel is for everyone, and, ‘Wednesday night at Fresh Life may not feel like your grandmother’s church, but she’s welcome to come too!”
Harvest Crusade NYLast night was night #1 of the Harvest Crusade in Long Island, New York. I had a wedding to officiate at on Friday night so I flew all day yesterday and took a cab straight from JFK to the venue and had just an hour to grab a coffee and get my head straight before the night kicked off. The crusade is at a beautiful outdoor Jones Beach, right on the water, which would normally be gorgeous–but it was cloudy and the skies were foreboding–and had everyone a little nervous.
All I can say is that New Yorkers are tough–because in spite of the weather 8,500 people still showed up. And after music from Kutless and POD Greg Laurie delivered a gospel message to a crowd that included more than a few umbrella’s and 647 people responded to the invitation and made decisions for Christ! You can watch the webcast
Tonight there will be music from Lecrae, Jars of Clay, and Delirious. Pray for good weather! Meanwhile at fresh life It is 8am on the east coast and I am going over a message that I will be giving to the Harvest Crusade Team at the devo service in a few minutes. It is 6am in Montana and in a few hours I will also be teaching at the final two of the three weekend services at fresh life. No, I haven’t mastered the art of teleportation–yet—but I recorded the message before I left that will be played. We have done this 4 or 5 times now and it allows us keep up with our series we are going through. Currently I am going through the book of Revelation, in a series called, At Worlds End. I am teaching on the Second Coming of Christ from chapter 19. The image John paints is striking, Christ on a white horse, with a sword coming out of His mouth galloping through the sky on His way to the earth. The title of my message is Air Horse One, and I have to be honest, studying to prepare for that message really rocked my world. The reality is, Christ’s Second Coming will be so epic and glorious, the realization of it’s imminence should impact the way we live today. Martin Luther put it this way, There are only two dates on my calendar: this day and that day. Killer. Gotta go…stay tuned on twitter.
We have been getting a lot of questions about skull church since we announced it–mostly stuff like, “what’s the deal with skull church?” We thought it would be easier and to just answer them in one fell swoop rather than doing so over and over again individually. Here they are for you and they are also up on the skull church site under vital info. Enjoy.
What is Skull Church?
It is a weekly Bible study and worship event at Fresh Life Church in Kalispell, Montana and everywhere else live on the web.What happens at Skull Church?
Each service includes worship, and the opportunity to ask questions through text-messages and twitter but the cornerstone of each night is the expository preaching of God’s Word. @LeviLusko brings a culturally relevant and super clear gospel message and provides an opportunity for people to make a public decision to repent and turn to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.What is the deal with the name?
John 19:17-18 says, “Carrying the cross by himself, he (Jesus) went to the place called Place of the Skull. There they nailed him to the cross.” (NLT)
The most beautiful thing that has ever happened in history occurred in a place of death—God died in our place. Skull Church is a platform to amplify the message of what happened on that skull-shaped hill to a lost world.
Aren’t skulls evil and grotesque?
They can be. But so is sin, and when Jesus was hanging on the cross, the Lord laid on Him the sins of the world. It was so evil and grotesque that it caused Jesus to be separated from His Father. The skull is a reminder of the tremendous price that was paid for us, and of the reality that we all will one day die.
Won’t some people be offended by it?
Probably, but the kind of person who would be into it is exactly the sort of person we are trying to reach. We live in a world where skulls are commonplace. They can be found on board shorts, snowboards, skate decks, pirate movies, even household cleaners have skulls on them. People are used to seeing skulls in connection with just about everything—except for church. We want to use this cultural icon to point to the cross. We hope those who are offended will see our heart.
What target demographic do you have in mind that you are trying to reach exactly?
We are specifically targeting a lost generation that doesn’t know God, isn’t necessarily “into” church, and desperately needs Jesus. For that reason this will not feel like your grandmother’s church—but she’s welcome to come too.
Seriously, can I bring my grandmother to skull church?
What should I do if I am a teenager and my parents won’t let me wear clothes with skulls on them?Listen to your parents. Stay away from the skull church merch table.
Is there a way you can describe Skull Church that involves a shameless plug for an energy drink?Skull Church is kind of like a Bible study on RedBull.
Yesterday I taught on the Marriage Supper of the Lamb from Revelation 19. It is a very cool passage. In the first 10 verses of the chapter are the only uses of the word, Alleluia, in the New Testament. It is a familiar exclamation that means, Praise the Lord! It seems that God is so excited about this event, where as the Bride of Christ we are presented to Him as His church, that He saved the use of Alleluia for the description of it.
To fully understand what it means to be the Bride of Christ we need to understand some differences between modern and ancient Hebrew wedding customs. In our bridal culture the dude pops the question, they engaged for a time, then the wedding day comes. The big deal of the event is the bride’s entrance and after the ceremony is the two hour reception—and the honeymoon is usually a week in Maui. In Biblical times the equivalent of engagement was betrothal this happened when you were kids. Dads picked out a spouse for their kiddos. I see the wisdom in this strategy. It was a decision based on family values and character more than feelings and attraction. You were betrothed growing up, and it was so serious that you had to get a form of divorce to break it off. Finally on the day of the wedding everyone wasn’t sitting waiting for the bride, but the bride sat with friends and family waiting for the bridegroom to come for her. She had to be all gussied up and stay that way, because never knew when he would come. When he got there, took his bride, big parade to where the wedding and reception and honeymoon were all rolled up into a whole week of celebrating where it was a public feast by day with everyone celebrating and a private party by night in the bridal chamber.
There is a spiritual equivalent to each stage—The day you were saved—you were engaged to Christ. 1 Peter 1:8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. We have even been given an “engagement ring,” 2 Corinthians 1:22 …he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
The Helper, Jesus described in John’s gospel, is the diamond ring promising us that one day, marriage will come. In the mean time Jesus has gone to His Father’s house, to build a place for us.
Engagements can be rough—all the difficult work of preparing for the wedding—none of the benefits–don’t get to live together, have to keep waiting for the fullness of the relationship, to make love, trusting that God’s plan is better and that it is worth the wait. And so it is challenging as we walk with Christ without seeing Him, having to trust that this world is not our home and the mansion He has prepared for us is better than anything this world can offer. And we are waiting on that day—when Jesus will come for His bride—in the rapture and claim us for Himself:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.
In the mean time, we need to make sure we are “dressed” for the wedding. Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. We have incentive to stay pure—because He could literally come at any moment. John said this hope should purify our souls:
1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
At the end of the message we invited people to RSVP for this feast, by giving their lives to Christ. We called them to publicly walk down the aisle of the church, just as a bride would, pledging their hearts to Christ. It was wonderful to watch 15 people take that radical step of faith. LOVE IT!
Here is a hd video of the service, check out the song we sang just before the message. It is definitely not a traditional worship song. Etta James originally sang it and it is a love song written to a person, but we know that human love is a mystery that shows us how much Christ loves us, and so we sang it to Christ. Interestingly enough, the song itself ends up in “heaven.” Our worship team came up with a killer version of it and Crystal’s voice is epic.