a weekend of prayer & fasting

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless God guards the city the watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1)

We are now in the homestretch of a long season of preparation as we approach Skull Church Majestic and Fresh Life Easter; events that are now just over a week away. We have never undertaken anything larger and to that end we are ‘saddling up our swiftest steeds.’ By that I mean we are seeking to utilize every resource God has put at our disposal to reach as many people as possible with the news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

However, in all our hard work and planning, we know that the only way these events will have real and eternal impact is through the hand of God. So we are not only doing everything that we can do but we are praying for Him to do what only He can do.

One of the ways we are keeping this at the forefront is through taking Palm Sunday weekend and making it a time of prayer and fasting as a church. We will gather at each worship experience, in all of our campuses, to unite in adoration of our great King Jesus Christ and to ask Him to move in power, for His glory, next weekend.

We have a monthly service completely given over to this (we call it Bow Before the Battle) we see a great turnout and it is always amazing. In this season though, I specifically sensed God calling me to gather the whole church to pray in this way. Pastors all across the world know that it is nearly impossible to get the whole church to come out to the prayer gathering…so I decided to make it easy on everyone by bringing the prayer meeting to them.


Do as you’re told

Your commanding officer has an assignment for you today. He has carefully set things up for you to bring Him glory, grow more into His image and show His love to others. I have no idea what He has planned. There could be someone you will talk to that has recently asked God if He is real and you will get to be a tangible expression of His presence. A walking, talking answer to their prayer. Who knows, maybe you’ll be around someone who is lonely and taking the time to give a smile or just one kind sentence could change their whole day. You might get some bad news today or find out that something you’ve had your heart set on is not going to happen and you’ll have the opportunity to flex your faith and move forward anyway.

Whatever it is that awaits you today, in the midst of it all there will be a still small voice in your heart telling you what to do. It might not be an audible voice either. More of a faint impression. A slight tug on the reins of your soul. Perhaps a verse you have read recently or something you heard at church will come to mind. If you sense you are being told to do something that puts someone else’s needs ahead of your own or urges you to worship God even in the midst of a funk, it’s probably not the devil that’s speaking to you. Chances are, that still small voice belongs to God and it’s His way of giving you your marching orders. Do as you’re told!

2 Timothy 2:4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.


Just to be clear

I think that one of the biggest obstacles that can prevent a vision from becoming a reality is ambiguity.  If you are vague and unclear as a leader it will frustrate your forward progress and those around you in the process. It will also frustrate you.  If you continually find yourself let down by your team because they haven’t executed what you envisioned, perhaps the fault lies with you. For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?(1 Corinthians 14:8)   You might be surprised to know that what’s missing in your organization and holding you back might not be resources, people, or talent but clarity.

The problem is that being clear is hard work.  To define success and articulate expectations means you must first know where you want to go and work through your convictions about how it is you are going to get there.  It’s much easier to be imprecise in your language.  For those under you to simultaneously know the rules of engagement, with no confusion whatsoever, and yet retain a certain sense of operational latitude to make decisions on the fly, in the heat of the battle, is a finely-tuned and precise balancing act that does not happen on it’s own. Clarity of voice requires meticulous work and constant attention.

Trust me, your team wants to know where they stand, how they are doing, what protocols are rigid,  and what the primary objective is. People crave clarity.  They are looking for someone to rise up with a clarion call that they can follow into battle. So find your voice and be crystal clear.

An adage I think about often is, “don’t communicate so you’ll be understood, communicate so that it’s impossible to be misunderstood.”


Recovery

In order to see your dreams become a reality there are going to be times where you are going to have to flat-out sprint. Burn the candle a little bit more than you should. Strain your muscles and your mind. Run yourself ragged. Come right to the edge of delirium.

I know, I know. This goes against all wise counsel. Every sermon you have ever heard about the sabbath; and all the leadership blogs you have read about how if you don’t guard your day off you don’t love Jesus are probably coming to your mind about now.

I totally agree with all of that, as a rule. There is nothing spiritual or profitable about being a workaholic. Psalm 127:2 straight up says we should not run in the red but should rest. I get it. None of us keep the world spinning, or the sun rising. We don’t need to stay up all-night-every-night working.

But I have met people who are so dogmatic and almost Pharisaical (you know I get 6 points for dropping that word) about their day off not being disrupted…not ever, and are rigid about the rule. They will walk out the door at 5pm and not one minute afterwards, whether the job is done or not. Their day off is sacred and their schedule is set in stone, no matter what is going on; they will only expend the agreed-upon amount of energy and no more. That’s fine and the desire to not burnout is a good one. But it’s not realistic to think that greatness can be achieved without extraordinary effort being called for at times.

Nothing sweet is ever achieved without sweat. Occasionally exceptional times will come along where you have to go above and beyond the call of duty. There will be short seasons that require extra effort to punch through to a next level God is calling you to, to complete a project, or go through a door that has been opened. And you will need to kick it into high gear and give it all you’ve got.

The good news is that a rule is still a rule even if there are exceptions. The trick is not allowing that to become the new normal. If it does, it’s not an exception anymore, it’s the rule and if you keep it up for long something will inevitably suffer–your marriage, your kids, or your sanity.

What I have learned (through trial and error) is to see these seasons coming before I’m in the midst of them and to prayerfully accept them, with my wife’s blessing. If you do that, no one is blindsided and you can plan a recovery as a part of the process. So if a unique project is going to have you pulling 13 hour work days for a week and a half you can take three days off at the end and not just plunge back into reality and grind it out.

It helps me to think of these unique times as interval training. Yes, it might be crazy right now but this is a sprint, it’s supposed to be above the normal craziness. It’s time to go all out. Soon I will be drinking a gatorade, catching my breath and getting back into the usual flow. The secret isn’t living a life that’s never crazy, it’s making sure that when things do get crazy you make time for recovery.


Last Night’s Party


I read recently that Wednesday is the number one day of the week that people choose to commit suicide. Hopelessness, it seems, feels worse in the middle of the week. Wednesday is also a great day to let people know that God loves them and has dreams for them. The thief only comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give abundant life. Whatever might be going on in people’s lives, there is no greater joy than watching them wipe tears from their eyes as they respond to God’s grace in total surrender.

It was also a real pleasure to have Eisley perform, in addition to the Skull Church band, last night. We have been playing Eisley on Fresh Life Radio since day one and we have tried a few different times to get them out but it hasn’t worked out for one reason or another until now. It was worth the wait. They have a great sound and great hearts. They have shared the stage with an impressive array of artists; from Snow Patrol and Coldplay to Switchfoot and MuteMath. Check out their music here.

Here is the March lookbook.










Easter is on it’s way


Easter is always on it’s way. The story of what happened on the third day, when the stone was rolled away, is amazing and life changing. There is no greater day on the calendar. This year at fresh life we are going all out to reach as many people as possible with the hope-infused message of the resurrection.

In Billings we will be joined by Shawn MacDonald at the Billings West High School. In the Flathead Valley all three campuses will we coming together at the Majestic Valley Arena and we will be joined by For King & Country. We are praying that many come to know Christ!