Skull Church in Coeur d’Alene

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The second city we came to on our autumn Skull Church tour was Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. This event was mysterious going into it. I had never set foot in the city before and had no idea how insanely beautiful it is or how the event would be received. I was blown away by both. The city is situated on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene which explains it’s nickname as the Lake City. I must admit I was relieved to discover that it also goes by CDA which helped me out greatly until I mastered the correct way of spelling Coeur d’Alene–no small feat!

CDA is the largest city in the Idaho panhandle and after Boise it has the biggest population in the state. The churches that supported the event were great and showed up to serve with flying colors. I was told by one of the pastors that a number of them had been getting together to pray leading up to the event, and that makes all the difference in the world. When the event kicked off the Schuler Performing Arts Center was packed and the atmosphere was electric. It was probably the most energetic crowd of the whole tour. The response to the invitation was extraordinary, people streamed down the aisles to give their lives to Jesus; and I am praying that they all get plugged into the churches in the area as they grow in their new relationships with Jesus!

I also had one of the best pizza experiences of my life at a little spot downtown. I can’t remember the name of the joint but my pizza came with sriracha on it and everyone knows that rooster sauce takes everything to the next level. Until next time CDA!

Here’s the Skull Church Coeur d’Alene lookBook:
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Skull Church in Spokane, Washington

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We just got back from the first Skull Church tour we have ever taken. It was exhausting and exhilirating. Busy and beautiful. Over the next week or so I am going to post about each city. A few words but mostly images from the road that tell the story of what we saw God do. Compressing it all into one post just wouldn’t do it justice and this way it spreads the fun out for a while.
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Spokane was the first place to stop. Having the opportunity to preach the gospel on the Skull Church stage in this city was emotional and special. When Lenya was young she had a number of allergies that we didn’t know about that caused her to break out in painful rashes constantly. She had been misdiagnosed as having eczema and it wasn’t until we traveled to a specialist in Spokane that the real problem became known. Consequently, we took a number of trips from Montana to Spokane for her to see a specialist before between her first and third birthday. Whenever I am in Spokane a flood of memories come to mind of our little family in the middle of cold winters trusting God in the midst of a trial that He brought us through.

All that medical drama she went through early on is in fact one of the reasons it made it so difficult when she went to Heaven several years later. Because we had made it through the worst of it–or so we thought. It had been two years with almost no hiccups and it seemed we had gotten into a rhythm with her allergies and asthma. When, out of nowhere, she had a monster attack that claimed her life we were completely blindsided by it.

All that to say, with those kinds of thoughts and emotions fluttering around inside, having the privilege of telling people about the hope that is available through knowing Jesus gave me great peace and purpose. There is nothing more comforting than trying to give comfort to other people.

The Fox Theater where we had the event is gorgeous. Vibe-wise it is totally Great Gatsby-ish. Watching people respond to the invitation was magnificent. I can’t wait until we return.

Here is the Skull Church Spokane Lookbook:

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I met my writing deadline!

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Happy October everybody! I have been thinking of this date, October 1st, for a long, long time. In addition to it being the first date of the NW Skull Church tour it is also the due date for the manuscript of my book Thomas Nelson. I have writer friends who have told me you can always get an extension but I really wanted to get it in on time. And I did! We clicked send together all as a family and sent my final draft off to Thomas Nelson! It really was exciting and a special moment for us as a family. The journey has been difficult and God has been faithful. I really believe in this project and I can’t wait to see God use it as it goes out far and wide.

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Being in Spokane is also extra special as we have come to this city many, many times together as a family. Lenya’s allergist was here and when she was really young and had health problems we came here for her to see nutrition specialists. We are believing God is going to do big things through this Skull Church tour. If you can’t make it to Spokane, you can join us on the webcast 7pm pacific at skullchurch.com. Blessings!


Skull Church Tour

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Next month we are venturing out on our first real Skull Church tour! I am so excited to see what God is going to do and believe He has big things planned. Please join us if you live anywhere near these cities, we’d love to see you! Info available at skullchurch.com.


Lenya Lusko would be SEVEN today

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On this day seven years ago at 11:04 am Lenya Avery Lusko was born into this world. It was such a wild and exciting time for us as we suddenly became a family of four. We were 8 months into our church plant, still very much getting used to life in Montana and we couldn’t possibly have been more excited to have this native of the Treasure state coming into our home. A cute little Lenya Lion cub had joined our pride.

After five wonderfully thrilling years with her in our lives she was summoned by the King to join Him in Paradise. Like an arrow loosed from the string she flew to the Target and struck the mark. Bullseye. There is a void in our quiver, but even more determination in our hearts to live for what matters most–an abundant entrance into Heaven and an effective life for Jesus along the way.

As we now come to September 8 for the second time without her on earth we do so with broken hearts. What would the Lenya Lion look like as a seven year old? How different would the chemistry and dynamic of our home be if her spunky personality were still an everyday factor and not just memory and a future hope? These questions have no answers here on earth but there will come a day when I will see clearly and I will be able to give the endless birthday hugs and kisses my heart aches for.

I am very excited to finally announce a secret that I have saved for this day. It is a birthday present for our beauty girl. For the last year I have been writing a book in Lenya’s honor! It has been a difficult journey that has tested my faith and more than once felt like it was more than I could bear, but it has also been an enormous privilege. I am thrilled to announce that Thomas Nelson will be publishing this project. Sometime in 2015 it will be released. I’ll leave it at that for now, but I can’t wait to see what God will do with it. Happy Birthday Len Len! I love you with my whole heart and God is going to make the devil pay.

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Arrows

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This weekend we kick off a brand new series called Arrows! I am thrilled to spend this fall at freshlife learning to live towards the target. This will be the first message series I have ever preached on the family and I am extremely fired up to let out all that has been brewing in my heart. You are welcome to join us on the journey!

Details on our campuses in Missoula, Kalispell, Whitefish, Bozeman and Billings, and online worship experiences as well as art for instagram et cetera here.


I want to be like Tabasco

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DMVs, airports, Post Offices, the doctor. What do these places have in common that causes me to cringe even typing the words? Waiting. Standing still. Not being somewhere else. Having zero control over anything. Never mind the fact that nowadays we have the entire Internet at our fingertips and can read a book, creep on the activity of all of our friends who are not presently stuck in a waiting room or purchase something on Amazon. It is an awful feeling to have to sit in a holding pattern and have no guarantee when the waiting will end.

Life these days is more and more being engineered to where we don’t have to wait. New phones show up in the mail without having to go stand in line at Verizon or the AT&T store. New movies are downloadable without even having having to go to a RedBox, much less a Blockbuster store where you would rent a VHS tape that had to be rewound like back in the day. (To my younger readers, yes that actually happened.) Arguments are easily settled simply by asking Siri or spending ten seconds on Google. Less and less is gratification deferred. More and more everything we want is available on-demand. That phrase is telling. On-Demand. We strut about like little emperors receiving everything we want simply by pushing a button or voice-cue (a buggy feature which we complain about when it doesn’t works as though life were just oh so cruel.)

There is no doubt the world has violently changed and it will only get crazier in the days to come. One has to wonder what impact this will have on the invisible parts of who we are. One obvious downside is that the less we have to wait the worse we become at waiting when we have to. Flight delays, full queues, and lines of people stress me out to the max. I went to the DMV needing to renew my drivers license a while back. When I saw the crowded waiting room and began to comprehend the fact that there was no way around this line, I genuinely felt myself panic.

What about the upside of waiting? The character that it builds. The way our souls are stretched and honed through it. The way it gives us the opportunity to exercise faith and build patience. In the book of Proverbs we are told that when hope is deferred it makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes it is a tree of life. Translation: Good things come to those who wait.

I saw a special on Tabasco sauce recently that was stunning. What was most amazing to me was hearing that it takes four and a half years to make a batch of the hot red condiment! They put it into barrels and let it age for almost five years. Talk about patience. Why? You just can’t rush perfection. Think about that next time you douse your eggs with a bottle of the stuff. No, it is no fun to wait. But if you feel like you are in limbo today, know this, God hasn’t forgotten you, He is trying to grow good things inside of you. I don’ t know about you, but I want to be like Tabasco.


ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I was hosting the Harvest Crusade at Angel Stadium when I was challenged to dump a bucket of ice water over my head or donate 100 to the ALS association, all to raise awareness of ALS. Since the window was only 24 hours to get the challenge done I decided to multitask and do it at the stadium… all good fun. What I didn’t know was that someone had FILLED the cooler with not just ice and water but an insane amount of salt to make it colder….well, it sure made it saltier.


New series at fresh life

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Well, the sixth and final ship sailed (sad face) and this weekend we are launching a brand new series, Hug It Out: Embracing the goodness of God even when life is bad. No matter what season of life you are in I believe this will prove to be a study and encounter that we all desperately need.

Info, teaser and other stuff here.


Take some risks

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Have you ever seen an indecisive child trying to jump rope? They have two friends swinging it round and round in a circle and they are just off to the side trying to feel out the rhythm of the rope. Their head and hands bob up and down every time the rope passes by and it seems as though they will dive in at any moment, but then they don’t. They just stand there telling them self they will hop in the next time the rope passes by, but each time finding some reason to wait for a better swing. The problem is that the longer they wait the more they psyche them self out.

There will always be a reason not to take action on a daring plan or bold idea.  Whether it is something you want to create, like a company or piece of art,  a brand new approach to an area of your life needing renovation or something you sense God wants you to do to bless someone; if you wait for everything to fall in place and line up perfectly to take action, you will never do anything. Birth involves both beauty, agony and mystery. Without uncertainty there is no need for faith. Risk is essential for reward.

If the dream that lies in your heart is something the world truly needs to see. If it will inspire people or be disruptive in an industry, it is probably somewhat shocking, will most likely be misunderstood, and doesn’t look, feel or sound like anything anyone’s heard before.  If there is nothing new, unfamiliar or foreign about it than dream bigger. Don’t peddle a carbon copy of someone else’s passion. There is greatness inside of you waiting to come out and the only way that will happen is if you face your fear and take a risk.

The downside of being original is that until people love it, they won’t understand it and will not see the need for it.  There was a day when air travel was seen as impossible, computers unnecessary and rock and roll  controversial.  We take for granted their place in our life now but that’s because people were willing to press on in spite of all the reasons why they should stop and just accept the world as it is. They stuck to their guns, took reckless steps of faith and changed the world as a result. Never forget this; conventional wisdom can keep you from a miracle.

Perhaps you are not supposed to do something entirely new but do something you are already doing with an entirely new mentality.  Zacchaeus didn’t do a different job once Jesus rocked his world. He approached his same old job with a fresh set of eyes and a new value system that flew in the face of the prevailing best practices of tax collectors in that day.  Instead of greed he was fueled by integrity and generosity.  It would have been shocking to his peers and there would have been many shiny, gold reasons why he shouldn’t tip over the apple cart or wait until the end of the fiscal year.  He took action. The right time to do the right thing is right now.  If you wait until you have answers to all your questions or can guarantee a favorable outcome you will still be standing there forever, the rope swinging by again and again while your life passes you by.  You just gotta go for it. 

Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV)