The most dangerous miracle in the Bible

I was reading the Bible yesterday and came across a story that I had read many times before but never thought much of. All of a sudden It jumped out to me for the great danger it posed, both to those who witnessed it and to us today. I sensed a warning light flashing in my soul and so I paused for a moment to let the massive risk sink in fully.

Here is the story:

Matthew 15:33–39 The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?” Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.” So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children.

Crazy huh? I know. You were thinking I was talking about Daniel in the Lions den, Elijah calling fire down on Mt. Carmel, or Samson toppling the Philistine temple with renewed strength from the Lord. Those are the kind of miracles that we would tend to classify as high-risk. Lives were hanging in the balances. What in the world is so dangerous about Jesus handing out bread to a few thousand of his closest friends?

The danger that this miracle poses may not be obvious or life-threatening, but it is still capable of great harm. What is the risk? Being unimpressed. You see right before Jesus feeds the 4,000 in Matthew 15 He fed 5,000 in Matthew 14. Don’t kid yourself; feeding 4,000 people with only 7 loaves is in and of itself amazing, unbelievable, and get-on-your-knees-and-praise-God extraordinary. But compared to the super-sized one in the previous chapter it could come across as a smaller version of something that already blew our minds earlier on.

How little press this miracle gets is telling. The one we always hear about is the feeding of the 5,000. Had Jesus simply reversed the order and fed the 4,000 first it would have made more sense. It’s always nice to ramp up and work towards a climax. But here is what I sensed God speaking to me. His work in our lives and ministries is not necessarily going to be like a fireworks show. His goal isn’t to do flashier things and flashier things as He gears up for an impressive finale that’s plain for all to see. He simply wants us to be faithful with what is right in front of us and remain at a place where we are blown away that He would use us at all. Furthermore, the “greatest” thing God ever does through us might not even be something that at surface value is all that amazing.

That means that if you see 100 people come to Christ one week and 14 the next you celebrate those 14 people with all your heart. In Acts 2 there were 3,000 who came to know Christ in one fell swoop and then in Acts 3 one lame man believed on Jesus. You know what? Angels celebrated both miracles with much rejoicing. If your church grows by leaps and bounds one moment and then just by bunny-hops later on your heart should enthusiastically praise God that Christ is building His church.

The danger in all of this is real. If you become difficult for God to impress you will become difficult for God to use. The desire to grow and to be more effective is good and right. We are to give God our very best effort and seek after a 100 fold harvest every time. Jesus commended the shrewd servants in His parables over and over again. But it is imperative that we are careful to not become desensitized. We must not fail to be impressed by every single work of God–no matter the size.


Everything we do, you do.

I bought a coffee from Starbucks the other day and was impacted by what was written on the cup. I am not generally one to spend deep moments pondering fortune cookie’s or coffee cup insights. It was a fluke that I even saw it. When I picked it up the sleeve fell off and I noticed that the writing on the wall wasn’t one of those motivational poems or schmaltzy quotes that I have become accustomed to tuning out. This was different. They were talking about me. That cut through the clutter and got my attention.

Here is what it said:
YOU.
HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL FOR 10 YEARS.

Now, as I read that I immediately thought, “No, I haven’t… I must have been given the wrong cup. There is probably a seasoned conservation activist somewhere who is gonna be so mad when he finds out I have his drink.” But then I noticed what was written immediately below…

Everything we do, you do. Buy our coffee and good things happen. Take Starbucks 10-year partnership with CI in making things better for farmers and the planet…It makes a difference. Just like you do. Congratulations, you.

Brilliant. I have been buying coffee from them for over ten years and what this cup was saying is that I am not just a customer, I’m a partner in the mission that they are on. I have never personally met a single coffee bean farmer but I am making a difference, because me and the mermaid are on the same team. I gotta admit, it felt pretty darn good.

As I sat there sipping my coffee and congratulating myself on all the great things I was accomplishing around the world by doing so, I thought of a conversation that I had the night before. I had bumped into someone around town who goes to freshlife. After we met, he shook my hand and told me, “you guys are doing a great job,” and then he went on for a bit about all the great things that me and my team were doing for the Lord, and how he prays for us and how pumped he is to be here. I listened until he was done and then congratulated him right back. He looked a bit surprised by that. But he had just told me that he prays and that he serves, I reminded him of this. I asked if he gives to the church as well and he said that he does. I shook his hand once more and then rephrased the compliment he had given me just moments ago, telling him, “We’re doing a great job!”

I want those who are a part of freshlife to understand what Starbucks knows to convey. Everything we do, they do. As we stand as one behind the God-given vision we are pursuing; we are partners together in all that we accomplish. No matter what your role is on the team, you are a part of the uprising. Congratulations, you.

One of a leader’s most important responsibilities is to continually foster this sense of unity and ownership in their organizational culture.

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Fresh new version of freshlifechurch.com


Today we finally went live with version 3.0 of the freshlife website! It has been in the works for a LONG time. Pretty much since the last version was rolled out. It was a team effort and as always they did a great job. Way to go freshlife creative! It is an honor to partner with you in the gospel.

It is, in my opinion, a major improvement over the old site, but the biggest change you will notice is the teaching archive portal. When you pick a series it loads up the first message in the HD player window and you can see all the different messages below. There is also a brand new feature that will tell you which messages are the most popular based on other people’s clicks. (unfortunately, it’s not retroactive so it is which is the most popular from here on out.) Once people start viewing messages it will be interesting to see what gets watched the most.

I also love the way they have made it super easy to tweet or post a status update about a whole series, or any message you are watching and it will preload your status update with the album artwork as well as the link. The online store is pretty epic too, there is some never-before-sold-online merch available now. (hint–awesome skull church stuff)

Anyhow, check it out. We are praying that God will continue to reach many who are stranded in sin with the life and liberty in Christ through our site. We see people come to Christ online all the time and it is a thrill to fish in such a big pond as the web. Even though we have been bug checking for a long time, feel free to post a comment if you find a glitch. You can also leave a comment on this post and tell the creative team how awesome they are. It’ll make their day.

Here is the link.


Rock This City

God gave Nehemiah the vision to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the crumbling walls and gates that had been burnt with fire. In that same way, we desire to show God’s love in a tangible way in the place that He has called us to live. Last year as a church we sought to be like Nehemiah and be agents of change in our valley. This summer we are going to partner with other churches in this high energy outreach and we are praying that God will Rock This City!


A real man

I took this picture just before they wheeled my dad off to open his chest and perform a grueling four hour surgery on his heart. They came to get him 3 and 1/2 hours behind schedule and the anticipation was brutal. We tried to psyche him up as much as we could by praying, singing worship songs and reading scripture. As they finally came around the corner I looked down and saw the Bible on his chest and it occurred to me that I couldn’t think of a single day of my dad’s life that didn’t include God’s Word. An open Bible on the kitchen counter, coffee table, on his desk or on a table at a cafe was literally an everyday occurrence if my dad was involved. He meditates on God’s Word day and night.

As an expert when it comes to Christian broadcasting, for over 30 years my dad has spent his life putting God’s Word on the internet, radio, and tv. Countless millions have heard the gospel because of him. It will be a joy in eternity to hear the stories of those who have come to know Christ listening to radio stations or watching a tv special he orchestrated. But I can tell you that behind the scenes, as much as he has tried to fill the airwaves with Scripture, he has also made sure his own heart reverberated with it. You literally can’t walk into a room or vehicle he is in without hearing a John Macarthur, Chuck Swindoll, or a Louie Giglio podcast coming from a radio, laptop, or car stereo. As kids, we knew whether we were late or on time for school based on whether Jon Courson’s radio program had started to play yet. The morning of his surgery I walked into his room to see him cranking out a few last minute emails and heard Steven Furtick coming from his macbook pro.

It has been a week and a half since I received the phone call that he suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital in Florida, all by himself, but I am still sorting through the emotions from it all. As soon as I heard the news I bolted for the airport and even though it took me four different flights, I got to him as soon as I could. I spent four days at his bedside with my brothers and sisters, praying and trying to be there for him, and then after a whirlwind weekend of speaking in Arizona, somehow I am back in Montana. I can hardly believe it really happened. As a pastor I am around emergencies and death enough to know that these things take time to sink in.

I know this for sure, my dad is fortunate to be alive. A million americans have heart attacks each year and half of them die. Half of those that die do so within the first hour of symptoms appearing and before they reach the hospital. That could have easily been him. Because he eats so healthy, and exercises so frequently he is the last person that you would think would have a heart attack. He couldn’t believe what was happening either and waited WAY TOO LONG to seek help. He tried to ride it out in his hotel room, thinking it would pass. It didn’t. He finally made his way down to the front desk and asked them to call a doctor. They did what he should have done an hour earlier and called 911. By God’s grace he was only 5 blocks away from a hospital that is ranked nationally for their heart department and his life was saved.

My dad is my hero. He was the best man in my wedding and to this day, apart from Jennie, he is my best friend. There isn’t hardly a day that goes by where we don’t text, talk or email each other. It is a joy to partner with him in ministry on several different fronts. He pushes me on in my walk with God, and as a pastor. But the bar that he has set so high for me, which I will always aspire to reach, is as a father. If I could be half the dad to my daughters that he has been to me I will be thrilled.

It is interesting, because in the days leading up to the surgery they told us he could go into cardiac arrest and drop dead at any moment, so we felt like we sat on the edge of eternity as we waited. Thankfully there weren’t any apologies or grudges we needed to work through as a family, but had there been we were given a great gift in having the opportunity should we have needed it. Let me give you advice in case there is someone in your family that you are at odds with–call them up right now and work through it! Don’t leave anything unsaid. Life is a vapor. As it turns out this weekend is Father’s day, a perfect opportunity to honor your dad by thanking him or by following a godly example and being apart of his legacy.


The Arizona O2 Experience

This weekend in Tucson, we saw the culmination of months and months of prayer and preparation as the first O2 event of the summer finally arrived. Of course in my life nothing went according to plan during the final week before the event. I had scheduled a quiet week full of preparation and rest so I’d be ready to speak five times at the host church’s weekend services and then twice at the event itself on Sunday night.

Then life happened. My dad’s heart attack changed everything. I rushed to be with him and spent the week at his side with the rest of my brothers and sisters, praying for him and trying to help him however I could. To be honest, it was difficult to think of going and speaking at all but my dad wouldn’t hear any of it. He had been a major part of the event, flying to Tucson several times and helping mobilize other churches and media.

One of the first things he said to me, from the ICU, when I told him I was headed down to be with him was, “you are going to do the O2 experience.” Thankfully, the open heart surgery was a success and even though it was hard leaving him while he was in so much pain, I was able to be there for him when he came out of the operation. We set up a special webcast for him so he was able to watch the event from the surgical intensive care unit and he told me that it brought tears to his eyes.

The thing I kept trying to remember is that none of it caught God off guard. He had known all along that this was coming and He was going to give me the strength to speak 7x (my all time record) in one weekend, even though I didn’t feel I had anything to give at all. His grace was sufficient for me. The moment things began I felt instantly upheld, as though I had just tapped into an invisible fuel source, and I continued to feel that way through the whole weekend. Ironically, I woke up the morning after feeling better than I usually do on a Thursday morning after skull church.

The O2 went off without a hitch. Our team performed UNBELIEVABLY. It is such a thrill and an honor serving the Lord with them. Everyone on the platform put their heart into it and did a killer job. I am so thankful for the way the vision of the O2 has gripped the hearts of those involved over the years.

When the dust settled, 135 people had made public professions of faith in Christ and we saw an UPRISING of young people in Arizona committing themselves to God’s plan for their sex lives! I get contacted from time to time by people who attended an O2 at some point and are still honoring that commitment, and nothing gives me greater joy than to think of the heartache that is being missed out on as God’s directions are followed. Yes He can forgive sexual sin, but how much better to not go through it in the first place?

We have one more O2 Experience this summer, and it will be in Montana! Tickets are going to be gone soon so if you haven’t yet, get ‘em quick! (tickets available at o2experience.com) I am willing to go to blows for the youth of this nation to know that the devil wants to rip them off. And that the fullest enjoyment of their sexuality comes through Christ.

Here are some more epic photos to give you a feel for what we saw God do on Sunday night.


I love my dad

*update* I was just able to spend a few minutes in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit with my dad and, while groggy and in a massive amount of pain, he is beginning to regain consciousness. He is struggling and hurting but still cracked a joke, pantomiming a talking head with his hand when we told him the doctors raved about how well he did…so my hero. As he drifted in and out I stroked his head and wept thinking about him holding me as a child. I love him.


Last Night’s Party

I was standing in the Liberty theater last night and I was overcome, yet again, by what we are seeing the Lord do at skull church. It occurred to me that this is what an uprising looks like.

At my day job, when I’m not moonlighting as a pirate preacher, we are going through the book of Joshua and looking at what happens when a generation emerges that is willing to take a stand and change the world.

I believe that just such a generation is living on the face of the earth right now. I sense God moving and pouring out His Spirit on all flesh in a unique way. I can’t recall a time, in my life, where there has been so many young, fresh, vibrant movements awakening and surging and growing and taking shape–all over the place.

This is not a time to shrink back. There has never been a day like today. It’s our time to shine. Let’s use these fleeting moments we have on this earth to make Jesus famous. Rise up o men of God!

Here are a few snapshots of the wave of revolution we are riding.