In the letter to the church at Philadelphia we find this intriguing fact about Jesus,
“What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open.”
In the eight years that I have been serving in pastoral ministry (my first ministry position as an assistant youth pastor was at the ripe old age of 19) I have seen the truth of that reality, time and time again. If God is not in something, no matter how hard you try, you can’t help but fail miserably (“or even more miserably succeed” as Warren Wiersbe put it.) On the other hand, if God is involved nothing can stop it from coming to pass-not even the gates of hell!
I have discovered that the “trick” is to keep your self smack-dab in the slipstream of God’s will and not to try and kick down doors by yourself.
Today at Fresh Life, we made an exciting announcement about a door that God has recently opened for us. We are under contract to purchase a super old theatre, called the Liberty that is a block away from our current facility (also a super old theatre, called the Strand). We plan on simulcasting the service into this building, which will give us twice as many seats as we have now (500) for a fraction of the cost of building a 1,000 seat auditorium. Getting texted pictures of the forty people listening to the message from folding chairs on the sidewalk (and in the street) who couldn’t get seats in our third service or in the overflow room this morning, was enough confirmation that we need more room.
now that’s a risky overflow!
Here are some pictures of the Liberty: the Liberty theatre a mockup of what the teaching will look like on the screen
a view of the beautiful historic theatre from the stage
Also, a while back I blogged about our struggle to foster a sense of community in a growing church. We also presented our solution to the body today. With much prayer, the answer we have come to is what we are calling Fresh Life Groups. Continue reading…
Tonight was a great night at Skull Church. We finished our series on the bloody death of Jesus Christ. For the tenth week in a row we focused on the wonderful cross. There are 175 mentions of Jesus’ death in the New Testament and a massive portion of the gospels focus on the events surrounding the crucifixion. I can think of no better way we could have begun this new service than by paying attention to this event that is of such monumental importance.
Tonight we studied all the phenomena that accompanied his death. (The veil being split, a great earthquake, a bunch of dead people cruising around and a centurion’s salvation) We looked at Jesus’ burial itself and of course we ended the series with the good news of the resurrection. He didn’t stay dead–He is Risen! At the invitation we saw 10 people make decisions to publicly profess Christ as Savior. So sweet.
We also heard some special music by John Reuben. John is a really cool guy, very funny. He shared a few songs before the message and then did a half hour concert after the service was over. People were stoked.
We have recently upgraded our webcast from the platform we had been using. The new webcast looks better, the player is simpler and best of all, there are no more ads! Check it out during one of our webcasts. (Saturday at 6pm, Sunday at 9& 11am and Wednesday at 7pm at freshlifechurch.com and skullchurch.com Mountain Standard Time)
I just got back from Southern California where I gave a message on the cross at Greg Laurie’s Thursday night Bible study. It was a great night of ministry and thirty people responded to the invitation at the end of the message and made public professions of faith in Jesus Christ. Greg is on vacation recovering from the harvest crusade and it was a blast to fill in for him. Continue reading…
Here is a little video I shot during the final night of the 2009 SoCal Harvest Crusade. I shot it with my phone from the platform and so the quality isn’t going to win any awards or anything–but I hope it gives you some sense of the energy and excitement of the night.
I have been to and spoken at a lot of events and have hosted at 8 different harvest crusades but I sensed God’s Spirit moving in an extraordinary way this weekend. Continue reading…
What a night! Wow. There was an over-capacity crowd, for the second evening in a row, at the final night of the 20th Annual SoCal Harvest Crusade. The all time attendance hit the 4 million mark. Chris Tomlin was unbelievable. Thousands responded to the simple preaching of the gospel by Greg Laurie. The night ended with a fireworks celebration as Chris did another worship set.
Being there you got the energizing sense that you were getting to be apart of evangelistic history as it was being written. One thing is for sure, God moved this weekend! I am too tired right now (and running late for my flight) for this to be my only blog on the concluding night of the harvest crusade, I will try and gather my thoughts for a later post. Be forewarned, the word epic will definitely be included–maybe twice!
Pastor Rick Warren (@rickwarren) gave the opening prayer last night and I had the chance to sit down with him before the event started and capture some of his thoughts about the significance of 20 years of Harvest Crusades in Southern California. I could only post a clip of it on twitter (limitations of 3G) Here is the full video:
Tonight was crazy. Angels Stadium was so packed they had to shut the gates and no one else could come in. Every seat (47,000) was occupied. There was music by Relient K, the Katinas and Skillet. Greg preached a spot on message called, “The writing is on the wall” about the hand that showed up during Belshazzar’s party and warned of judgment to come. The response to the invitation was massive, 4,488 people made decisions for Christ! (check out the video at the end of this blog of those who came forward…it’s unbelievable to see.)
Before the message Greg interviewed Nick Vuijicic. He is 26 years old and was born without arms or legs. He has a powerful testimony of how he came to know the Lord and is a tremendous speaker and an evangelist. I have seen his video bio on youtube and It was really neat getting the chance to meet him back stage. Check out his website here: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org.
Here is a picture of Nick and me..
Here is a picture of Greg interviewing him.
I enjoy getting to do events with skillet. They are super cool peeps. (when I start typing stuff like that I know it’s time to quit blogging and go to bed….I do have to get up in 5.5 hours and get a message together to teach too…must keep blogging 😉 Craziest moment of the night? Easy, during Skillet’s last song John jacked himself pretty bad jumping off the stage. He tweaked his foot and cut his hands up pretty good. He got so hyped up that he leapt before looking and didn’t realize how high up he was. What I really like about them is that they are totally behind the vision of Harvest Crusades and don’t just view it as another gig. They were passionate about those in the audience coming to know Christ. You don’t always see that kind of attitude and it is so refreshing when it’s there.
Here is a shot of Jennie and I with John and Corey Cooper from Skillet.
I just got an email informing me that there were 29,000 people in attendance tonight and 2,898 came forward! Praise the Lord. It was a great night. Greg Laurie’s message was awesome. Here is a great little nugget from it:
“Jesus didn’t say follow My people, He said ‘follow Me’, and Jesus was never a hypocrite.”
Right now I am backstage at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. Night number one is off to a great start. Third Day just played and currently Greg Laurie is preaching on the life of Solomon. He is telling the tens of thousands who have come that there is no lasting happiness to be found on this earth outside of Christ. In a moment he will invite people to respond to the gospel and turn their lives over to Jesus.
This is the 20th anniversary of this outreach in Orange County. 20 years! And though the music and the graphic design has changed over the years, the message hasn’t. The Harvest Cruades are hyper-focused on the cross of Jesus Christ. That is why I am stoked to be apart of them! I’ll be hosting this weekend and am looking forward to seeing the Lord do great things.
The family and I have been on vacation in Southern California for the past few days. I will be hosting Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade at Angels Stadium this weekend but we decided to come out early and catch our breath. For the last few months my schedule has been intense and a little downtime with my three ladies is just what the dr. ordered. I was bummed to miss a skull church service for the first time but I hear our creative arts pastor, Kevin, did a great job teaching in my place and I will definitely grab the podcast. Continue reading…