Highly Concentrated Truth

There is no doubt in my mind that some of the worst commercials on tv currently are the ones for 5 hour energy drink. I am pretty sure they round up individuals to be actors off the street and give them no time to rehearse before they start shooting these spots. Each one is a variation of the same story. A bleary-eyed individual bemoans how long it takes to make a pot of coffee/how quickly the spike from a can of soda will wear off before they joyfully discover a vial that will solve all their problems, 5 HOUR ENERGY. After consuming a bottle they perk up and go about their day with bright eyes and a bushy tail.

Every time I see one of these commercials I want to light something on fire or stab my eyes out or both. Maybe I am overreacting a little but they are bad and they seem to come on every time I turn around. Also, they haunt my dreams. With all that being said I do want to make a spiritual comparison–to the product itself, not the campaign because I assure you nothing good could come from that. You see what they have done is taken an entire energy drink and condensed it down to the size of a shot glass, 2 ounces. Because it has no carbonation it can be consumed quickly and on the go. You get the equivalent of a cup of coffee or a redbull in just a sip or two.

We just underwent something similar at freshlife. At the end of last year I challenged the church to read through the New Testament in 30 days starting January first. We also decided to give the first day of 2011 to the Lord in prayer and fasting, specifically in preparation for the launch of our Whitefish campus, but also as a way of giving God the firstfruits of our time in the new year. It was all an initiative added on to the Winter of our Discontent series. Yesterday was the last day of the NT challenge and having crammed so much truth into one small window of time was intense and invigorating. It was a rush to have been in Matthew just 4 weeks ago and to have finished Revelation yesterday. One day our reading assignment was the whole book of Hebrews–talk about high-octane!

Considering our speed (roughly 9 chapters a day) it definitely wasn’t a notice every detail kind of a journey, but covering all these books so quickly you were able to appreciate the forest and the big picture of the greatest story ever told. There are benefits to both scrutinizing and surveying when it comes to going through the Scriptures. My wife and I tried to do half the reading each morning and the other half later in the day to avoid the fatigue where you are no longer processing what you are reading. (shoutout to the staff members I heard about who got behind and were reading 30 chapters a day the last couple days to try and catch up–aka getting nothing out of it.)

I have heard several people say that they are sad to see it end and that they have enjoyed having so much of God’s Word pumped into their veins each day. A few people have asked if they can do it again. Ummm? Yes! Totally! Rock it in February. See how many times you can make it through this year. Or bust out the Old Testament in the next couple months and turn it into a 90 day challenge. My wife and I are going to do the New Testament again but slow it down to 60 days to make it more bite size. Whatever you do, keep carving out a daily time to systematically work your way through God’s Word! While I can’t promise that you won’t have a 2:30 feeling, but you will definitely have more spiritual energy and it will keep you from crashing later.
God’s Word doesn’t return void!

Psalm 19:7–11 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

What the heck did we do to skull church?

Did skull church go the way of the duck billed platypus? Has it been canceled? Replaced by the teenage mutant ninja turtles fan club? Or is it alive and well and ready to strike back like never before?

You might have seen something here or there on facebook or twitter about some of the changes but are wondering,”what the heck did we do to skull church?”

click play to find out. It will blow your mind.

Marriage is what brings us together…

This weekend at freshlife we will be speaking on the subject of marriage. We will be talking about the purpose of it, the plan for it and the problems that often arise in it. We will also answer as many questions as we can out of those that were submitted by facebook and twitter friends who helped me out by submitting their most pressing marital questions this week

This will be an important weekend for anyone who is married currently, or wants to be some day. I would also encourage people to pray about who they could invite to come to church. Perhaps a friend or neighbor you know who doesn’t know the Lord or is struggling in their life and would be open to hearing a message on this subject. I can guarantee you this, no matter what condition your love life is in, there is hope…and His name is Jesus Christ!

Kalispell: Saturday night 6pm at the Strand, Sunday morning 9am at the Strand and 11am at the Strand and the Liberty.

Whitefish: Sunday morning 10am at the Whitefish Mountain Cinema

Online: Sunday morning 9am and 11am MST at freshlifechurch.com

A look back

This shot is one of my favorites, it is a line of people waiting to get in the Strand theatre for skull church, back-lit by a beautiful Montana sunset.

This weekend at freshlife we celebrated all that God has done in the four years since this church was planted. It was tremendous looking back and I got choked up every single service watching the history movie and recounting God’s faithfulness. It is important that we don’t live in the past, but it is also vital not to miss out on an opportunity to remember what God has done and worship Him for it.

My favorite part of the service was getting to share some of the stories with the church from a few of the many people that have come to know Christ through this ministry this year. There have been hundreds and hundreds of people who made decisions for Christ; but they all have names and stories. God doesn’t see crowds, He sees individuals. People are what it’s all about! I am grateful and thrilled to the bone be a part of what is so evidently a move of God’s Holy Spirit.

I gave a message on the subject of worshipping God through giving that was a challenge and a joy to prepare and preach. I read recently that 1 out of 5 American Christians gave nothing last year to their local church, not even a token $5 gift. The average percentage of income that is “tithed” is currently 2.5 percent. It would be easy to blame this on the economy but the number is lower today than it was during the Great Depression.

In one comprehensive study that was done recently on the topic, researchers explored why this is exactly? (documented in the book Passing the Plate “–link) They found that the biggest reason people don’t give is not that they don’t trust their church, or have the money to give, but because they aren’t taught how. The study found that pastors are reluctant to bring it up because it is awkward and because they often don’t give themselves. Both of those things are lame. Leaders should lead by example and be willing to speak about issues that are important, not just what’s easy.

Jennie and I have been delighted and blessed to give God our firstfruits and have found that as we honor the Lord, He has honored us (Proverbs 3:9). You simply cannot out give the Ultimate Giver of good things. Our budget had to take a major downsizing when we moved here and planted this church and we can remember months where we did not see how we would possibly be able to pay our bills after giving our tithe and offerings, but God has always more than met our needs.

The paradigm shift that has revolutionized my life when it comes to giving is remembering that I am a steward and not an owner. As a slave purchased by Christ’s blood I own nothing. In Christ I am a joint heir and have a spiritual treasure in heavenly places, but on this earth everything I have is God’s. (NERD ALERT) It’s kind of like in the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, there is that dude Denethor who is not the king of Gondor, just the steward. He is not supposed to sit on the throne, but on a small chair in front of it as a reminder that he is only taking care of things until the king returns. (if you are confused, here is a pic to clear it up) He did a terrible job of being steward and instead turned himself into a petty tyrant, acting as though it were his empire when it wasn’t. He also had a bad ending. (if you don’t remember how things ended for the shady steward of Gondor click here)

We are waiting for the King of Kings to return and when He does He will demand an accounting of what we did with what was His while we had the opportunity. Did we honor the owner? Invest wisely and make His money make an eternal difference? Or Foolishly hoard up treasure on earth? This judgment will not determine whether we go to heaven, but how we are rewarded in Heaven. Keeping that in mind will help us make wise decisions about what we do with what we are stewards of. Not just the no-brainer 10 percent that we honor Him with (immediately and off the top) but with the other 90 percent as well.

Augustine, an early church father, put it this way:“Tithes are required as a matter of debt, and he who has been unwilling to give them has been guilty of robbery. Whosoever, therefore, desires to secure a reward for himself let him render tithes, and out of the nine parts let him seek to give alms.”

You can download the 2010 ministry report PDF here. And check out the freshlife history highlight video that is at the beginning of this vid:

4 years ago today

Four years ago today at this very moment…

We were setting up a room above a bar that a generous family had made available for us to use to start a church in Kalispell, Montana. We didn’t know how many chairs to set out, I think we landed on thirty. It turned out to be twice as many as we needed. We believed God was going to do something special and we prayed for Him to move in power. We tried to make every single person who showed up (all 14 of them) feel special and know how stoked we were that they came. We worshipped God in song and then opened the Bible, read it, explained it and applied it in the clearest way possible.


freshlife church was born!

the location of the first freshlife service, we met above the VFW bar

There was no way to know at that moment what God had just unleashed, that a movement had begun. It didn’t feel like we were on holy ground or anything. As I recall, the first service was special but felt a little awkward. We didn’t know all that God had in store for this church…but we wanted to find out. We had the promise of power from on high, and a dream of a city turned upside down by the gospel. We were weak, but we held on to the promise of God’s strength. We were few but we prayed that God would let us reach many. Oh yeah, and we were freezing. I’m serious. Stinking cold. It didn’t help that we moved to Montana in what turned out to be the coldest week of 2007. But we wanted, with all our hearts, to make Jesus famous in this beautiful valley and beyond.

As I look back on this journey and think about all that God has done–I’m overwhelmed. It has been exciting, terrifying and full of adrenaline. Truly the adventure of a lifetime. I have seen God’s provision; both on the peak and in the valley. I have had my faith stretched in ways you can’t experience with a safety net. I have been blown away time and time again by the power of His Word released in people’s lives.

I am thankful for my wife who has been the best partner in this story God has been writing. I am grateful for 3 beautiful daughters who are cheerleaders for what God is doing and pray for people to come to know Christ. I am blown away every day by the team that God has assembled at this work. They are high caliber, high octane and a whole lot of fun. I especially want to thank those who moved here in faith at the beginning, when there were no buildings, there was no promise, there was just a dream. I honor them. And I am continually amazed at the depth, the love and the spiritual excitement of the body at freshlife. They get the vision and are ready to storm the gates of hell to reach the lost. Let’s do it.

Above all I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner. I sense that in these past four years the concrete has just been poured. Now that the foundation is in place we are about to see God’s plan unfold in ways that would make us gasp if He told us today. That’s just how Jesus rolls.

Ephesians 3:20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Skull Church on ice

The weather has been crazy lately! I read that yesterday it snowed in 49 out of 50 states in this country–including Hawaii. The only state that didn’t get snow was Florida. There is major flooding in Australia and in the East Coast of the US massive snow has been wreaking havoc on cities and travel. Up here in Montana it has been cold but pretty mild, all things considered. Then we woke up this morning to find out that the overnight low temperatures caused a pipe to freeze which lead to flooding in the Strand. Nice. Fortunately all the water pouring into the lobby and sound-room (double nice) somehow triggered the alarm and we were able to get to it before it turned into an aquarium. Some equipment was damaged but it could have been ALOT worse.

Have no fear! We are still going to have Skull Church tonight but we are going to move it to the Liberty theatre so the Strand can be worked on. I will be giving the second to last message in the Forerunner series as we continue to look at the epic life of John the Baptist. We have some BIG things planned for tonight and I am sure that God has even bigger things in mind, so keep it in prayer, invite a friend who needs to hear the gospel, and if you are unable to be there in person join us online at skullchurch.com! Also, remember there are only two services left before Skull Church shuts down for February and then is relaunched and remixed in it’s new monthly format (the first Wednesday of every month) on March 2nd, ready to rock like never before. (More info on all this here)So missing tonight would be sort of like having the opportunity to ride a unicorn but choosing not to. What are you crazy?

See you tonight at the Liberty!

Whitefish Launch Day

Yesterday was such a rush. After many months of prayer and planning we finally saw the Whitefish campus spring to life! The whole weekend was so special and marked by enthusiasm, excitement, and decisions for Christ! What more could you possibly want?

At one point I couldn’t help but feel completely overwhelmed by God’s goodness. I was standing backstage about to speak at the eleven o clock service and at that moment we had service going on in three places and simultaneously were broadcasting live on the internet and radio. I thought of a statement that Paul made to the church at Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 1:8 And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it,

Since the beginning of this church plant I have prayed many times that God would do a work at freshlife that would ring out, sounding forth His Word to other places. And as I stood there thinking about the different ways that was happening at that moment all I could do was close my eyes and thank Him for His goodness.

I gave a Winter of Our Discontent message on identifying and eliminating idols in our lives. It was definitely on the intense side. Preaching it was like simultaneously giving and receiving heart surgery. Idolatry is one of those things that you read about in the Old Testament and it seems so primitive and silly. But when you really define your terms and stop and think about it–it is as much of a problem today as ever before. Idols are all around us. What is even worse is that they are even in our hearts.

2011 // The Plan

This weekend at freshlife we rolled out the plan for 2011. Although in some ways we will technically be doing fewer things, compared to 2010, we believe that there is the potential to see God do much more this year. David got to fight a lot at home, he killed both lions and bears, but when he put was in the valley of Elah he only fought one battle. It just so happened to be one fight that really mattered. This year we want to put ourselves in the sweet spot and save our energy for the things that God has called us to. It’s easier, more comfortable and far less scary at home than it is in the valley but life is too short to miss the moment you were meant for.

Often, by nature, we do too much. I know that personally I gravitate towards complexity and have to fight for simplicity. I once heard Andy Stanley say, “In ministry you need to balance additions to your to-do list by being intentional about putting things on your not-to-do list.” There’s only so much time to go around and you can’t do everything.

God put some tremendous dreams on my heart that we hope to see come to life this year, but in order for there to be bandwidth for these things–well, something had to give. You see this in the Bible, Mary had to choose to not fuss over the centerpieces in order to sit at Christ’s feet. There was subtraction so there could be addition. Time is a zero sum game. Killing the sheep-attacking predators was awesome preparation for David, but in light of the anointing on his life remaining at home fighting cougars would have kept him from what God called him to do. If you’re not careful good things will keep you from the best things.

Here’s the plan: