Here are some great resources that I used during my Fire and Ice series that I just wrapped up at Skull Church. I didn’t mention it in the video but I also enjoyed Craig Groeschel’s podcasts from his Elijah series at Lifechurch.tv.
From time to time we have guest artists play at skull church. These nights are random and unannounced, and they are always super fun. In addition to the songs they play during the service, we get the bands to do a 1/2 hour set afterwards as a bonus. Last week we had a group called Poema that has been newly signed to Tooth and Nail.
These two sisters are young, (the younger of the two had a record deal before she got her drivers license!) super talented and have a bright future ahead of them. They were also our first female artists that we have had out and as a bonus they are from my old stomping ground, Albuquerque, NM. Check out their music–they have a new album coming out soon that they let us listen to and it sounds epic.
Enjoy this video of one of their songs that they played at skull church:
In Colossians 3 Paul describes the new clothes that we are to wear as new creatures in Christ. The old rags of sin and lust and flesh are to be put off and instead we are to daily be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. He gives a list of our new duds in vs. 12-14 and included is something called tender mercies–I dig the King James which simply says, “put on bowels of mercies.” This seems strange to us because we connect love with the heart but the Hebrews identified emotions with the part of the body where they are actually felt–in the abdomen. (Highly charged emotions trigger sensations in the pit of our stomachs.) What Paul is saying is that we should live in relation to the suffering of those around us with sympathy and compassion, and we should allow those emotions to move us to action.
Living green and doing philanthropic relief work today is mainstream (as it should be) even trendy, but it was extremely countercultural at the time when Paul fired off this old school e-mail to the Christians in Colossae. Commenting on this verse R. Kent Hughes said, “The ancient world, apart from Biblical revelation, was merciless. The maimed and sickly and aged were discarded: the mentally ill were subjected to inhumanities. But Christianity brought compassion, and it still does. The gospel brings with it sympathy and tenderness of heart. That is one of its great glories!”
This truth came to life this past week as the earthquake that devastated Haiti made us sick to our stomachs with God-given compassion. It has been so heartbreaking to see the pictures and stories coming from what is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There is no way I can even fathom what they are experiencing. And yet I have been so inspired to see God’s people mobilize and respond to the pain. The next day after the earthquake I felt lead to take up an offering at Skull Church to support the BGEA rapid response teams that were already en route with relief materials and chaplains who would bring the gospel and I was blown away by the generosity that was shown that night.
I have also been super blessed by the way James McDonald and Mark Driscoll have been trying to rally the church in America to specifically help the church in Haiti rebuild. They launched a website called, churcheshelpingchurches.com and the Lord opened doors for them to go down there personally this week (I have been following their trip on twitter here and here and they are on their way home now) Mark described it as being in hell. They took a film and photography team with them so that they can show us how critical it is that we help our brothers and sisters in Haiti out. I love what they are doing and encourage you to check it out and pray about supporting this ministry.
Three years ago today on a (very) cold Sunday morning we held the very first fresh life church service. Fourteen people met in a small store-front space for worship and a Bible study and we had no idea what kind of adventure we were in for.
Three years later as I type it is quite honestly hard to believe all the Lord has done in that time. The church has expanded into two theaters, and skull church, fresh life groups & fresh life radio have all given the ministry turbo boosts. We have been delighted to watch Christ rock many people’s lives for eternity.
There has been laughter, adrenaline, fear, excitement, criticism, sleepless nights, mistakes, failures and victories. Technology has been utilized in new and exciting ways–I have even mastered the art of being in two places at once (by pre-recording messages when I have to be out of town but dont want to put a series on hold.) Many different books of the Bible have been taught through.And once, while preaching, I fell down and almost hit my head on a water table while pretending to open a rootbeer. A lot of coffee has been consumed. One thing is for sure–there hasn’t been a dull moment. This church plant has felt a lot like skiing in front of an avalanche. Watching Christ keep His promise to build HIS church has been the thrill of my life. I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunity to serve Christ at this church.
I want to congratulate my wife, family and team at this mile-marker and thank them for the blood sweat and tears that have been poured into this work. I get to serve the Lord with the most amazing people on the planet and am so thankful for their love of Christ, passion for the gospel, creativity, loyalty and ingenuity. You guys are killer, and remember, the best is yet to come!
To God be the glory for the great things He has done!
We are now twelve days into this new year–how is your resolution doing? I texted ChaCha this morning and asked, “how long does the average new years resolution last?” and was told that most fizzle out before February even begins. I guess most of us aren’t resolute enough! With that in mind, this year I built a resolution for the fresh life staff and those who come to skull church where you can only make it a few months out of the year and still succeed. The goal is to read through the New Testament in ninety days.
By April 1st we will have read about Jesus’ earthly life from four different perspectives, the radical, missional, church-planting adventure contained in the book of Acts, all of Paul’s emails in addition to the other letters and of course the graphic, bloody account of the return of Jesus Christ that the New Testament closes out with. It breaks down to about 3 chapters a day, which is not really a difficult amount of material at all. I have done lots of different reading plans with varying speeds and I have really been enjoying this pace. While reading slowly enough to actually be thinking about what you are reading it still only takes about ten to fifteen minutes each day. That number is truly miniscule when you remember that the average American watches 4 hours and 49 minutes of tv a day.
It has been awesome going through it personally as well as hearing from the staff and those who have been leaving comments about their experience with the 90 day NT challenge on the skull church facebook page. I am thrilled at the thought of so many people consuming this concentrated dose of Truth. I guarantee you that God will do awesome things in people’s live’s and hearts as they consistently hide His Word in their hearts–it NEVER returns void! I also know that for those who didn’t previously spend time reading the Bible daily, they won’t be able to go back to only being spoon-fed Scripture at church. I am praying that the 90 day challenge will just whet their appetite for more.
Another refreshing thing about coming to the end of a year is the opportunity to take inventory and celebrate all that God did in the previous year before you face the blank canvas of the new one. We put together a year-end recap of some great things we saw God do in 2009, our third full year of ministry at fresh life. CLICK HERE to check it out. Looking at it, what’s really hard to believe is that it all happened in one year.
My personal resolution for this new decade is to be like Caleb from the Old Testament books of Numbers and Joshua. He was one of the spies who checked out the land of Canaan before the children of Israel entered in. Alongside Joshua, he brought back a good report and was rewarded for it by being the only one over twenty years of age that lived to enter forty years later. God said that Caleb had a “different spirit in him” and six different times it is said that he followed the Lord fully. That is my desire for this new year and decade–to follow the Lord fully. God has done tremendous things in the past but I am not content, I want to see Him do more. There are new mountains to take, new adventures to face and I intend to fully follow the Lord, to live for His glory and to use every breath I have to make Jesus famous.
Proverbs 31:10 asks the question, “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?”
And today is my virtuous and capable wife’s birthday. Whenever I read this last chapter of Proverbs that goes on to describe what a noble wife looks like I realize why I love Jennie so much–she is amazing! Proverbs 31 to a T. As vs. 29 says–“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you (Jennie) surpass them all!” Not only is she beautiful, and she is certainly beautiful, but she understands that charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, and it is her fear of the Lord that I love about her the most.
We are in our sixth year of marriage and are having a blast loving and serving the Lord together through the adventures that have come our way. There is no one else I would rather have by my side. She is my best friend. I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do in and through her this next year.
Happy Birthday Jennie!
One of the things that I have been most excited about recently has been the growth of our small groups at fresh life church. They are an extremely important part of a healthy church and have always been, going back all the way to the early church in the book of Acts. They are especially important when a church has multiple services/campuses to ensure people are plugged in on an intimate level and have meaningful discipleship relationships. Otherwise it is easy to anonymously exist in a congregation without experiencing the depth of spiritual fellowship that God uses to transform a person.
We had tried various solutions but up until the spring of 2009 the fact that we were struggling to get people to attend the two home groups we offered showed that we hadn’t hit our stride in this area. Our plan was for them to divide like cells when they grew and eventually we would have home groups all over the place. But It…Never…Happened. The church continued to grow, but the groups never did. Now flash forward just under a year and as we approach our second trimester of Fresh Life Groups we are adding 7 new groups to the 18 we had in the fall that this month will begin meeting in homes all over the place. What is equally awesome is that in addition to all the new people who signed up this time 72% of those who attended reenrolled in this new season.