Skull Church exists to communicate to the world exactly what happened at Golgotha, where 2,000 years ago Jesus died for the sins of the world. At all of our events the priority is to broadcast that message, as clearly as possible. Since Good Friday is the day marking Jesus’ death we have turned our annual Skull Church at the Majestic Valley Arena into our flagship event.
It was honestly a bit of an emotional challenge approaching the first Skull Church since Lenya went to heaven. She loved these events so much and would always rock skull jewelry and shirt on the big day, with her sisters and mom. Her absence was amplified but it also intensified my resolve to get the gospel to those who need to know the Savior she is now with.
Thousands of people descended on the Arena, and even the rain didn’t keep people from standing in a line that went on and on. Traffic backed up for miles and we saw the largest crowd we have had in the history of Skull Church. Most importantly, many people responded to the invitation and made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ!
We got home from the Majestic and thanked God for what He had done in the lives of those who prayed to receive Christ, both in person and watching online. We thought of the verse where Jesus said, “there is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents…” and decided to join in on the party. We put Lenya’s favorite song on and had a dance party in our living room.
In the midst of all the pain and chaos of our daughter Lenya going to Heaven just before Christmas there were bright flashes of comfort where God reassured us of His presence. One of those moments of providence came through a worship leader at Fresh Life.
Shayla Smith is a talented singer/songwriter and a joy to have as a part of Fresh Life Creative. She had the idea for a new song kicking around inside her for some time but had been unable to capture it properly. On the morning of December 21, 2012, as though a muse had come, the words and music freely flowed together perfectly. She had finally written the song that had eluded her for so long.
What she didn’t know was that in just two hours she was going to hear the news that our Lenya Lion had gone Home, and that in our house the “ground was unsteady…the world had started to blur”, and we needed to, “know that you’re loved” as she had so unbelievably just written, I believe, through the Holy Spirit.
When we heard the song later that day, it was as though God’s face was shining directly on our pain. It helped to turn off the dark. A small but beautiful reminder of His love. We had Shayla perform the song live at Lenya’s celebration and it is in regular rotation at the Lusko household. (We put it on our Lenya Lion playlist that is full of her favorite songs.) It often makes me cry, but it always blesses me.
I told Shayla that when we release the next Fresh Life music project I want “Loved” to be on it. Until then you can hear it below. Let this be a lesson, when you get the impulse to create you never know what God is trying to do through you!
At various points in the last three months I have wanted to find out whoever came up with the phrase “good grief” and do physical harm to them. Too honest? Sorry. I suppose these are the sorts of thoughts you have when you are grieving. For the record there’s nothing good about it from where I am sitting. It makes colors fade to gray, food taste like ash, your stomach sink, your heart burn and your eyes sting with hot tears. In the thick of grief it is very difficult to keep your thoughts collected, and all but impossible to keep your emotions at bay. Besides drugs or alcohol, it is probably the most powerful mood/mind/body altering state you can be in, especially in the initial trauma of it all.
No, in my opinion, grief isn’t good. It is brutal and painful. Very, very painful.
However, like any bad thing, God is able to bring good out of it. The cross is proof. For one thing, grief causes you to focus. I found that it pulled my thoughts away from things that are superficial. The flood of sorrow blasting it’s way through your soul wipes out attention previously devoted to trivial things. It’s impossible to confront such powerful emotion and care about a Super Bowl commercial.
It also enhances your spiritual senses. Being so near to eternity causes you to almost be able to taste it. The unseen spiritual world becomes more vivid and more apparent than ever. There are moments when I can sense its nearness in a way that I have never in my life experienced. It’s as though God’s whisper is amplified in the deafening roar of death and loss.
There is also the good of being at a place where you are trusting God not day by day or hour by hour but literally minute by minute for the strength to go on. When you are grieving you ball up your fists but have no one to fight. You feel the impulse to run but there is no where to go. I have never felt so powerless, so weak and so desperate in my entire life. In the midst of it all, God was there. He was the rock that was higher than I. The tower to run to and be saved. The One who lifted up my head. He has upheld me marvelously with power from on high these 84 days since Lenya left this earth.
I am thankful for all these things. It is with gratitude that I look at God’s faithfulness in the midst of such confusion and pain. It is with a great sense of expectancy that I look forward to what He desires to bring out of it still. More than anything I am thankful for the fact that Jesus “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;” (Isaiah 53:4 NKJV)
The ground is still cold and frozen. It has been a long and difficult winter. Fortunately, spring is coming and it carries with it the greatest celebration on the calendar — Easter. The ground will thaw, the days will lengthen and flowers will blossom. Life that has been held hostage by ice and frost will emerge and begin to bloom. The crown comes after the cross.
I have never been so excited in all my life to celebrate the resurrection as I am this year. Easter has always meant a lot to me, (and in the life of our church they have been historic times of outreach) but now it is more personal than ever. The grave is brutal, merciless and uncaring. It swallows everything it touches and it is never satisfied. It will not stop until every last person has been consumed.
The good news is that death has been devoured by the life of Christ and it can’t fight back. Jesus’ tomb is empty and because of that fact, we don’t have to be terrified by the grave anymore. Death’s power has been undone. Those who fall asleep in Christ become greater after death than they were before and they can never be touched by it again. Paul said, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (II Corinthians 5:1)
I am writing these words about a subject that is raw and a wound that is still fresh for me. Seventy five days ago we faced the grave as a family after Lenya went to heaven, but we faced it with hope. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the power of the gospel are the only reason I am full of faith and not despair as I sit here. There are tears in my eyes, but peace in my heart. And I am, with every fiber of my being, driven to communicate the truth of this message to as many people as possible (people who will all have to die one day) until my time on this earth is done.
We are going big this Easter at our worship experiences that will be happening all across the state of Montana. For King & Country, Phil Wickham and The City Harmonic are going to help us celebrate. Our prayer is that many will rise, from being dead in sins, to life in Christ. Check out the Fresh Life Easter site for all the details by clicking here.