Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Staff Party

We have the best staff at Calvary of Albuquerque! Really, we do. They are fun, loving, and godly. They love to serve the Lord and are a blessing to the body here at the Church.

So it is always a pleasure to have some fun with them. This past week we had our annual Christmas Staff Party. It was a hoot.

The food, provided by Yanni’s, was tremendous; the fellowship, grand; and the chocolate eating contest, gross! But you can’t win them all.

We even had those two guys- Joey and Stevo- from the TV show, U Rock, Albuquerque (ok, both work here, but they were here non-the-less).

In between all this, we had a roadrunner show up (only in New Mexico), and a recycled lamb tale (just watch).

Make sure you watch to the very end. The out takes are always fun.

Enjoy the video.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Cheer with our Family

We had a really great time this Christmas. After all three Christmas Eve services, Nate and Jane and Lenya and I went up to Santa Fe. Its become our annual tradition. We love to walk among the crowds, singing Christmas carols at the bonfires on Canyon Road. This year there were not only thousands of luminarias and lights but about a foot of snow on the ground which made it the perfect Christmas Eve. With cups of hot chocolate and apple cider we walked and sang our way up the streets and arrived back home around midnight.
The following day, I read the Scriptures afresh about the wonderful event we celebrate (Jesus' Incarnation) and cooked waffles for everyone. After a short afternoon spin on the '42, we all went over to Rod and Nedra's house (Lenya's dad) and celebrated with the perfect New Mexico meal (turkey and Stephanie's amazing red chili smothered over the top. Here's a few scenes around the table. I want to personally wish you all a joy-filled Christmas season, packed full of laughter and brimming with God's peace.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Weekend Before Christmas

Clement Clark Moore (1779-1863) wrote the famous poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas (otherwise known as The Night Before Christmas), in 1837.

As you may recall, the poem tells of a quiet night in a home on Christmas Eve.

Well, as you will see in this short video, our Weekend Before Christmas is not as quiet…things are stirring.

We are bustling with activity, special guests, and holiday cheer.

My good friend John Privitt is with us singing, Christmas Light, a song he wrote and performed for a tour I hosted in Bethlehem.

John just returned from Nashville where he was a songwriter (working with Willy Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and others). He came back to Albuquerque to be close to his family.

Also this weekend we had the lead singer, Jason Tolliver, from the rock group, Ives. Jason sang a the song, Welcome Home. Welcome Home is on the newly released Christmas album, As Stars Shine Bright, released this winter by the Connection.

Sit back and enjoy the host of characters that minister here at Calvary, making this a wonderful place to be at all times, but especially during the holidays.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday Night Live (Albuquerque Style)

OK, I know I’ve posted a couple of “behind-the-scenes” the last week or so, but here’s some fun we had getting ready and doing the Saturday night service. We love Saturday nights because we don’t have to rush through it; we can have a full half an hour of singing and we can linger, not worrying about congestion or traffic flow, like we do on Sunday mornings. Also After Saturday night in the worship center, I walk over to the radio station and for an hour we are able to discuss what we studied with those in the community and internet who’d like to call or write in and discuss the topics further.

This week, our very good friend Fernando Ortega stopped by and sang for us. And guess what, he’s a dad now. Just 9 days ago he (and especially his wife, Margee) gave birth to a cute baby girl, Ruby (I saw the pictures—she’s really a beautiful baby).

So, here we all are, backstage, in my office and on the radio on Saturday night with a host of characters that bring cheer to each of my weekends.


Friday, December 12, 2008

A Night in the Life

I love being a pastor. Seriously, it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I get to teach the Bible, and I LOVE being part of what I think is the greatest church of all time—Calvary of Albuquerque.

And those of us who work at the church have a lot of fun! Before, during and after services are busy but always happy. I’ll show you what I mean.

Here’s a short video we put together, a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on. It’s a night in the life of a Wednesday evening service here at Calvary. It was recorded on a tiny little pocket video recorder called a Flip (handheld) camera. So what you see is what you get!

It begins as we are making pre-service arrangements, and ends with greeting the Billy Graham phone ministry workers. In between I interview singer, Marty Getz, teach, meet with some children, and have blast with some of our great staff members!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Greatest Church I Know Of

I love Jesus' whole idea of "the church"--calling people out of the world to be together to love and serve Him together. I have traveled to so many places and have seen, heard and experienced so many congregations--most very good, some great and inspiring, but none so great as the congregation I am privileged to serve in--Calvary of Albuquerque. I realize this is just my opinion--the bias opinion of one man in one place. I suppose being under the weather the last few days has got me thinking a bit about this. I have been reading and re-reading Paul's letter to the Colossians for the past few weeks, to really get it under my belt. As I was reading along, I came to two verses that beautifully pictured the church at Colosse and describes the church at Albuquerque. In chapter one, "...The truth of the gospel which has come to you, as it has in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit..." (Col. 1:5-6), and in chapter two, "rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." (Col. 2:7). The wonderful thing about our fellowship is the constant growth and fruit. Every project, whether to the poor of the community or to the nations of the world or to the kids in Sunday School, people step up and give themselves to help, to serve and to support--this is the fruit of a healthy church. I hate it when I am unable to be there--like this weekend (resting at home and hoping to feel better), and I love especially the chance to talk with folks before and after each service and throughout the week all over town and hear what God is doing with them.

The pictures in this post below depict both the "root" and the "fruit", the past and the present. The first shot above was taken in the early 1970's when I was attending Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. This is the tent we met in while our building was being constructed. Here is where I got my roots, where I became, "rooted and built up in Him." The second shot below is from our last 4th of July--this is the "fruit" of God's work through the years. I feel like the most blessed man on the face of the earth to have seen both and to experience the love and joy at Calvary of Albuquerque.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rebel With a Cause

This weekend at Calvary was packed again as we listened to Franklin Graham preach it up. I have watched this man up close for many years. He LOVES to preach the gospel and he never has wavered from its truth. Since Franklin was young, he's had the streak of a rebel in him but now that streak has been harnessed for the right cause. Like his father, Franklin knows that real change can only take place when a heart is changed by Christ's forgiveness. That's what he believes and thats what he preaches; and whether he's speaking to a church or to Larry King, he never compromises. Franklin and his family have been close friends for years and he loves to come to speak to the wonderful people at Calvary of Albuquerque and we love him back. Jon and Annie Barbour sang at all four services this weekend before Franklin spoke. It was just so great to see so many make commitments to Christ.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Now Thank We All Our God"

I grew up hearing and singing a song this time of year. It was a song written in 1637 by a German composer, Martin Rinkhardht. He wrote it during the devastating time in his country known as "The Thirty Years War" and during an equally devastating time in his own personal life. During that year six thousand perished from his own village due to an outbreak of pestilence. This included the deaths of his own wife and children. Yet he wrote a song of thanksgiving. The lyrics I recall are these, "Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hand and voices; WHo wondrous things hath done, in Whom the world rejoices." What a testimony of a godly man to the faithfulness of God to sustain a life.
Tonight a church we had our Thanksgiving service. The church was packed and filled with joyful, thankful people. I love my spiritual family at Calvary of Albuquerque. There's no better group of folks I know of. They have sacrificed willingly to reach out to their community and to the world in so many ways and I'm honored to serve there. Tonight many brought their banners of thanksgiving and marched through the church so we could all read what they were thankful for. The one banner that would win for "Most Unique" was one sweet little girl thanking God for her five pet rats. (Yikes!) Loads of fun (and great pie afterwards!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Bible

Obviously I love the Bible. I love to read it, teach it and watch as its truths transform lives. I hear reports every week of this happening. They never get old. I never tire of hearing how God is using the teaching of His Word to build people up. The picture above is of Billy Graham's preaching Bible that he used in many of his crusades. I think of the lives that have been reached as God's servant preached from this book! But as a pastor I recognize that there's a whole lot more to it than just the initial proclamation that brings men and women to Christ. I was reading this morning in Colossians 1 the words of Paul, "Whom (Christ) we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily." (Col. 1:28-29) This truth is where I spend most of my life and my time. My life's goal could be summed up in these two verses. The reason I spend hours studying and laboring over His Word is so that I can be equipped to both "preach" and "teach", winning men and women to Christ and then instructing them towards maturity. When I read these two verses this morning they rekindled in me a renewed sense of purpose. I LOVE what I get to do as a pastor!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

As Stars Shine Bright

I invite you to watch this mini documentary of a new song I co-wrote called Gloria Exaltus. It is a Christmas hymn based upon Philippians 2, the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

My friends, Kenny Riley and Brian Nixon, helped pull this very cool project together. You'll notice that the song is different from most modern songs--IT"S GOT AN ORCHESTRA! Actually it's the New Life Symphony Orchestra Southwest, conducted by Michael Bowen (an excellent group of local classical musicians). Also we feature a choir to add vocal power and an anthem-like feel(They're called Voices of Promise). The song features the very sweet lead vocals of Chrissy Jeter, from the rock group, The Echoing Green.

I really enjoyed the whole process, from writing to recording. There was so much fun in creating this thing. I hope you are blessed by the song as well.

The song is on a brand new CD set called, As Stars Shine Bright- a compilation Christmas CD put out by The Connection. We wanted to get it out by Christmas since it features some old traditional songs as well as a few new ones especially fitting for the Christmas Season.

The words of this new hymn are as follows:

Glory to God all you nations. Sing of His loveliness Laud Him with pure adoration. Sing of His loveliness. Sing of His loveliness!
All glory and honor and power are His. Magnificent, wonderful King.
Immortal, eternal and righteous is He. I will singŠHis praise.

Born in a manger in Bethlehem¹s wake. Sing of His lowliness.
Love is abounding for poor sinners¹ sake. Sing of His lowliness. Sing of His lowliness!
Shepherds all join with the heavenly host, an anthem of gratitude bring.
Immutable, faithful and gracious is He. We will singŠWe will singŠ

Gloria Exaltus! Gloria Exaltus! Holy is His Name Gloria Exaltus! Gloria Exaltus! Holy is His Name

Child of mercy, a Child of grace. Sing of His worthiness.
Born to the earth for salvation¹s embrace. Sing of His worthiness. Sing of His worthiness

Gloria Exaltus! Gloria Exaltus! Holy is His Name

Happy Holidays (I mean Merry Christmas!)


Friday, November 14, 2008

Billy Graham's 90th Birthday Party!

I've had the great privilege of knowing the Graham family for many years. I remember the first time Franklin took me to his parents' home for supper to meet his mom and dad. I remember how sweet they both were and genuinely interested in the ministry at Calvary of Albuquerque. I also remember that Billy and Ruth would come to the Cove sometimes when I'd speak there. I've attended many of Billy crusades over the years and I came to Christ by watching one on television in 1973. Now Billy has turned 90 on November 7th and we celebrated it last night. Friends and family gathered to express our thankfulness for his life and influence. He isn't just a great man; Billy Graham is a godly man and a man who has been used by God. He remains humble and grateful for all that God has done, and especially what God has done for him personally. These little video clips I shot last night with my tiny little flip camera. There were some touching moments when a good friend of Billy, radio icon Paul Harvey, came to greet Billy at his birthday dinner. It was a tender time. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Evolution of the Banana

My friend Greg Laurie is really quite an artist and can draw almost anything--even me. For years Greg has done a little sketch he calls, "The Evolution of the Banana." Its a set of drawings of a banana slowly evolving into my head. Since I have a long face and Greg likes to make his drawing caricatures based on people's prominent features, it quite humorous. So over lunch today in West Virginia Greg performed his artistry magic for a few friends, as you'll see on this little video.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dr. Graham at Ninety!

I just flew into Roanoke, VIrginia tonight and drove an hour and a half to White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia for some meetings over the next few days. The boards and staffs of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse are convening for annual board meetings and staff encouragement. Christian leaders from around the world that have been part of this organization are here for a special occasion. Tomorrow night will be a special birthday gathering for Dr. Graham to celebrate his 90th birthday! How cool is that! So many have been touched by his preaching and come to Christ through his life (myself included). I give the keynote address on Friday night and my good friend Sami Dagher from Beirut, Lebanon will share on Saturday night. Joe Stowell gives devotions all three days. I just love working with this team and always come away with renewed vision. I will thank Dr. Graham personally for being faithful to carry the torch of the truth of the gospel for all these years and for the strong example of how to "finish well!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mongolia is more than a Barbeque!

Today I went to eat Mongolian Barbeque with my friend, Tom Terry and his family. They actually live in Mongolia (no joke) and speak the language and know the culture. Tom's ministry is to operate a large television station that reaches throughout the country. Just for fun we went to Gengis Grill--really great chow. We've been praying through this past six months about starting churches in that country and about family in particular that is thinking about moving from Albuquerque to go there, spend two years just to learn the language and get sensitized to the culture and then plant a Calvary Chapel there. Its out dream to see a network of many church begin there, a school of ministry and eventually a series of pastors and leaders conferences. Pretty exciting stuff. We love to dream about, "What if God would allow us to see something really great there. BTW, the picture is not Tom, just a cool looking Mongol.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Afternoons

One of my favorite times of the week is after church on Sunday when I can chill out and enjoy my family. With a picture-perfect Fall day, resplendent with falling leaves in the New Mexico Bosque, Lenya and I took our Airedale Terrier Winston out for a nice walk. The Rio Grande river is chock full of trailheads and paths that wind their way next to the water. While Nate and Janae are away for a few more days in Costa Rica, we're just relaxing and enjoying each other.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Have a Daughter!!!!

My son's wedding yesterday couldn't have gone better. It was so beautiful and I blubbered like a baby through most of the ceremony. Janae was the MOST beautiful bride ever. She was radiant and Nate was so handsome. I've done hundreds of weddings through the years but being "on the other end" of the wedding ceremony felt quite different. I was remembering back to November 1986 standing on that very spot dedicating Nathan Alexander to the Lord and praying for all the steps he would take in days to come. There, on the very place he was dedicated, we were watching our prayers being answered as he stepped onto the platform and joined Janae in marriage. I wish we could have invited everyone to the ceremony but it would have just been impossible. We were able to webcast it on the website.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Ladies & Gentlemen--my son in a TUX!"

OK, I may be going overboard, but it's my one and only son's wedding, so I'm going a bit camera crazy. I've both 2 digital still cameras and this little HD video camera as well so I think I'm covered here. We're at the tux shop getting Nate fitted for his big day tomorrow. This is really a lot of fun. Friends and family all gathering together to witness the "covenant bond" between Natahn Heitzig and Janae Chapin--awesome!

Nate and Janae

Its hard for me to realize that time has gone so fast--seriously! Its been almost elusive actually. Nate was just a toddler the other day running around with his "doggy bear" up and down the steps at the church. He was selling his "beenie babies" out by the old cafe (now the prayer room), and hiding inside the pulpit and underneath the stage after services. I remember him as Indianna Jones, Spiderman and the coolest cowboy you've ever met (he always loved to play dress-up). I recall those favorite times of ours with, "Say, Play and Pray" as we would all act out a bible story. But now Nate is all grown up. Now he is a gifted youth pastor teaching high schoolers and getting married--tomorrow! Man, it seems crazy! But Nate has turned out to be so wise and determined. He knew what he wanted and he went after it. "He who finds a wife finds something good" (Prov. 18:22) and he found a great wife in Janae Chapin. She is so fun and happy and brings the very best out of Nate. I'm proud of both of them and even though they are great people individually, I can truly say that they are better together than they even are apart. Can't wait for tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friendly Fire and Buffalo Wings

Last night a few of Nate's friends got together for his "bachelor party". Yep, he's getting married on Sunday afternoon and so a friendly game of paintball wars was in order. Two teams of us went at each other with these high-powered paintball rifles (man, those little orbs can hurt!) From Left to Right in the above picture is Levi Lusko, Dave Row, Rick Chapin, me, Drew Newman, Nate, Daniel Lusko and Kevin Miller. I know--we all look like convicts from the local prison in our jumpsuits, but hey, its better than getting whacked with wet green pain all over your clothes! Afterwards we went out and ate chicken wings per Nate's request, had a spot of evening coffee and then prayed for Nate and Janae's marriage and lives together. Great times, though its hard for me to believe that he grew up so quickly.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crusade in Taipei, Taiwan

A year ago I was in Hong Kong with Franklin Graham for one the the largest crusades ever. We had to use overflow venues throughout the city to accommodate the crowds that were coming each night. My job was to preach at the altar call time in these venues and personalize the appeal to come to follow Christ. Heres a couple of shots sent to me today from a Billy Graham crusade director. This next week Franklin Graham will be in Taipei, Taiwan for a crusade there. Please pray for him. I obviously won't be there since I have a very special wedding to officiate--my son, Nate and his bride-to-be, Janae.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Billy Graham--legend and legacy

I'm speaking at the COVE this week near Asheville, North Carolina.
This is the Billy Graham Training Center and the place is a part of
the legacy of a man who has been a family friend as well as an
inspiration. His passion to reach people and train them lives on.
Gotta go now--my session starts in just a bit!

Friday, October 17, 2008

River Session #3

River Session #3
The River Sessions are a series of informal conversations with my friend Brian Nixon, whereupon I expand on my Calvary teachings.

The intent of the conversations is to give an up close look at my additional thoughts concerning the sermon, going into more depth and attempting to give a little more insight.

Think of the River Sessions as you being able to ask me a few questions – in a more casual setting – after the weekend service.

Friday, October 10, 2008

River Session #2

The River Sessions are a series of informal conversations with my friend Brian Nixon, whereupon I expand on my Calvary teachings.

The intent of the conversations is to give an up close look at my additional thoughts concerning the sermon, going into more depth and attempting to give a little more insight.

Think of the River Sessions as you being able to ask me a few questions – in a more casual setting – after the weekend service.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Reading through Colossians this morning and something struck me right off the bat. Paul addressed his thoughts, "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse." That little phrase "and faithful brethren" caught my eye. There are saints (every believers according to the New Testament is given this title) and then there are those "faithful brethren" who are among them, but are distinguished from them. What could this linguistic distinction refer to? Simply that there's a difference between one who believes in Christ and one who belongs to Christ's cause; there are many who consent to being a follower of Jesus, but then there are a few who are committed to becoming mature, discipling others and spreading His Kingdom. There faithful ones are pretty easy to recognize and they are a delight to be around. I'm blessed that I have the privilege to work around and fellowship with a whole bunch of these folks. I walk by their offices at church daily. I pass through the prayer room after services and see them praying and counseling. They're passing out bulletins or holding the door open for folks or even directing traffic and helping out with security. Moreover I run into faithful brethren all around town, whose face beams the love of Christ and who love to talk about the Lord. I live a blessed life because of the presence of many faithful followers of our great God and Savior.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Stay Alert!

Lt. General Jerry Boykin, myself and Kamaal Saleem

This weekend gave us a good shot of "caffeine for the soul" with the "Alert '08" Conference at church. With Kamaal Saleem giving his testimony of how God radically saved a man out of radical Islam to General Jerry Boykin, founder of Delta Force telling us of the real and present danger of this battle and the need to engage in spiritual warfare, we are all deeply challenged. All 3500 who packed the church facility at this morning's event were blessed by the variety of speakers and timeliness of this prophetic update. After lunch, Dr. Tim LaHaye spoke clearly and passionately about the alliances of Iran with Russia but not merely to stimulate a sensationalistic endtime fervor. His real zeal was to see if the Lord would draw people to Himself. He definitely did as the front of the church was full of those who came to commit their lives to Christ. I spoke to one young woman from Espanola who made the long drive today after hearing about it on the radio. She came forward in response to the altar call and drove back home a new creation in Christ. Great times! What a fabulous church to be part of with so many committed followers of Christ who bring friends and family to hear the gospel at such an event.

Dr. Tim LaHaye still going strong at 81!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

River Session #1

The River Sessions are a series of informal conversations with my friend Brian Nixon, whereupon I expand on my Calvary teachings.
The intent of the conversations is to give an up close look at my additional thoughts concerning the sermon, going into more depth and attempting to give a little more insight.
Think of the River Sessions as you being able to ask me a few questions – in a more casual setting – after the weekend service.
In this first installment, I’ll talk about heaven and eternity.

Musings From Florida

Pedro, Jo-Jo and Frank Harrison

Pedro and I in front of Alabama Jacks: a bikers lunch haven

The last week has been a flurry of ministry activity as well as an opportunity to connect with old friends and make a few news ones as well. Lenya and I traveled to Florida first of all to help out the newly re-organized "Promise Keepers" in their re-entry into large scale events. Coach Bill McCartney has just recently been asked by the Board of Promise Keepers to take the helm of this organization that is directed at helping men lovingly lead their homes and impact their communities.

My Saturday was spent speaking at a marriage conference in the morning at Calvary Kendall (Miami area) and then the four services on Saturday and Sunday for the same church. My buddy Pedro Garcia pastors here and mixes his unique gift of evangelism with an intensity in teaching and exhortation. He loves God and loves his people and the flock is a great group of folks who are making a positive spiritual difference in this part of South Florida.

A friendly manatee stops by for a drink of fresh water

My Wednesday morning was a fun break from the series of meetings with a Harley ride down towards the Florida Keys and a lunch stop at Alabama Jacks. I joined Pedro, Jo-Jo, Frank Harrison (The CEO of Coca Cola) and his assistant Aaron on a two-wheel spin through the countryside filled with white cranes, and blue skies splashed with marshmallow clouds. After a Mahi sandwich and an short encounter with a manatee we rose back to get ready for Wednesday night services.

My buddy Bob Coy asked my to speak at his Wednesday night service at Calvary Fort Lauderdale and then the adult singles group afterwards. This church has been a lighthouse of consistent teaching and evangelism for well over two decades. The ministry of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is reaching out to the world and Bob Coy and his team are exceptional servants. I really had a wonderful time this week and now we're looking forward to the weekend in Albuquerque with TIm Lahaye and Lt. General Jerry Boykin for our prophecy conference.

The nicest day on this week of marathon teaching was today, Thursday. Lenya and I were able to relax and walk, eat, talk and shop together all alone--a real joy for me!

Worship Service at CC Fort Lauderdale

Bob Coy REALLY excited about his salad!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Promise Keepers in Southern Florida

Promise Keepers has been ramping up again this summer hitting venues and cities across America. Last night in Fort Lauderdale, Florida I spoke at one. Franklin Graham gave the opening message and gave the invitation for men to receive Jesus Christ. spoke second about the Battle for the Truth--the need to be aware of false voices and attacks even from within the church. As believers we must "Know our Times", that the Bible predicts this would happen. We must also "Grow our Faith" being committed to spiritual nourishment so we can be strong. Then we must also "Go our way" and become rescuers of those caught in the various snares of the enemy's lies. All in all I had a great time and was able to meet up with people who listen to our broadcast.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Coming Up

Please pray for me this upcoming weekend. While Lee Strobel will be speaking for me in the pulpit at Albuquerque both Saturday night and SUnday morning, I'll be traveling to the East Coast to speak Friday night at a Promise Keepers Event in Fort Lauderdale. The event will kick off with Franklin Graham speaking first, then I'll follow. My topic will be "The Battle for Truth", addressing the need to know and speak the truth in an age of relativism and postmodernity. Saturday I will be teaching at a marriage conference in the Miami area followed by doing four weekend services (one Saturday night and three on Sunday) at a church in the Miami environs as well (Kendall to be exact). So, I'm in for another marathon of speaking six times in three days. I find myself needing God's strength more and more for these worldwind speaking tours. Thanks to all who read and blog here. and especially to those who pray. God bless! Skip

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Puppies

Nothing really "spiritual" to report today although I am currently reading a few good books that I'll report on when I get a bit further into them, so I can do them justice in recommending them or not. The last few days we've been "dog-sitting". (Actually our own dog Winston is doing most of the heavy lifting in this department). Nate went out of town for a few days and brought his dog "Hurley" over for us to keep. He's the one in the foreground lying down. Nate picked him up at a program sponsored by the Animal Shelter. This pup must have been abused because he's a bit skittish (though very friendly). Hurley is a mixed-breed and loves to play with Winston (the very handsome Airedale Terrier in the background). They both enjoy each other's company and going on walks to the river--go figure, they're dogs! Right now Hurley is stretched out on the floor of my office at home while I'm preparing for this weekend's message, "Living Between Two Worlds".

Monday, September 1, 2008

Recovering...Keep Praying

For the past couple of days we've been with some dear friends, among whom are the Lauries. It's always a joy to see them and even during this season of grief, it's just been great to sit, talk, laugh and cry over musings of Christopher's life, who went to be with the Lord just 40 days ago. Greg spoke at a friend's church in the San Diego area and Lenya and I were able to hear him speak as well as to hear their hearts. Both the Heitzigs and the Lauries all converged on Paul and Dianne Saber's house for the last few days. They graciously hosted us and fed us (lots of Panerra!) The Laurie family is healing, but this kind of wound mark deeply and heals very slowly. Please keep praying for them. I took this picture in Paul and Di's back yard. Now we're flying back home to ABQ at the end of a fun and relaxing week

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Aggie's Delight

Dennis Agajanian has been a friend of mine since the 80’s. I’ve seen him play his guitar and sing for years, often in Graham crusades. Once in Manila, the Pilipino audience he played for was over 100, 000 and the Hong Kong crusade was even bigger. But the remarkable thing about Dennis is his love for people. He’ll pour his heart into flat-picking his Martin guitar whether it’s at a large-scale arena or for a refugee family crammed into a tent or temporary shelter. Once I was with him in Jordan when thousands of Kuwaiti refugees were fleeing from Iraq’s invasion. He stooped to enter a tent where a frightened family had just arrived, knelt on the ground (the tent was too short for him to stand) and played a concert for them with the biggest grin on his face. He’s a big man with a big heart. Yesterday we rode his big motorcycles from El Cajon to LaJolla and he let me ride his Bourget chopper with the raked and extended front end. Talk about a big bike—this thing is HUGE, I mean really long and with a seemingly endless power-band. The great thing about our ride was Dennis’ childlike delight in seeing his friend (me) having so much fun on his bike. Rather than expressing any worry that I would drop it on its side or crash it into a car in front of me, he loved watching me with a smile on my face as I passed him on the road with it. Sort of like Lord, isn’t it? Paul reveals that He is, “the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17) Think of all the good gifts that God has either given to you or has let you enjoy. The psalmist described God’s delight in us when he penned, “He delights in every detail of their lives.”(Psalm 37:23 NLT) By the way, Dennis just called me today and informed me that his dad died. Please pray for Dennis and his family.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Infra-Red Photography

I love photography--always have. I've used large, medium and 35mm format in the past developing my own film and printing in a darkroom, enlarger and the whole bit. The digital age has changed all that so now with sensors and mega-pixels and with post-production in Photoshop one can exercise a greater latitude and with more available options. Now with modern ink jet printers, the ability to print high quality digital photographs is at our fingertips and is more impressive than ever. Anyway I've been learning this new digital world (however reluctantly and slowly) and I love experimenting with infra-red photography (these pics displayed are a sampling). My Leica M8 has a sensor that is particularly sensitive to infrared light (on the electromagnetic spectrum, infrared radiation emits a different value wavelength than visible light). I use a special filter (072) on my 21mm lens to filter out ambient light and record only the infrared light rays to my sensor. The result is what you see--green leaves turn white, blue skies become black and white clouds pop--a very cool and surreal look. These are shots around San Juan Capistrano, California. Still on vacation for a couple of days.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Laguna Beach

I have been told by both my Board and Senior Staff to take a vacation since I haven't had one for over three years. I keep saying I will but something comes up. So while we were out here for speaking in San Diego, we decided to head North to a familiar spot that we've both spent alot of time at over the years--Laguna Beach--not far from both Huntington Beach and not far from San Juan Capistrano. Being able to rest, read, swin, walk and hold hands, talk, connect with some old friends and just "hang" the last couple of days has been nice. I was able to finish my summer read on the life of H.A. Ironside today and walk, take pictures, and run into lots of people I've know out here. I can hear the surf crashing right next to our window--so nice!!!! Think we'll run out and grab some Thai food at our favorite Thai restaurant, "Thai This."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shadow Mountain

This past weekend was a bit crazy--just the schedule of just doing four services can be a bit daunting and tiring, but I even added a few things to THAT. First off, after Saturday night service at Calvary I like to go right into the radio studios and take part in a live call-in discussion about issues relating to the message I just gave. This gives people, who were at church or listening by radio, a chance to call in and dig a bit deeper. When you plow the ground of scripture deeply it can kick up a lot of dust. And that brings questions. So it's nice to give folks a chance to work their way through it by asking about and discussing the implications. So every week after the Saturday night message I'm on the radio for one hour. Sunday brings three more services back to back, the first one a 8 a.m.. This past Sunday brought an interesting surprise element. In between the 9:30 and 11:15 services I was interviewed by an Irish TV crew up in my office. They had scheduled this shoot in advance via email and phone. This group is the equivalent of "Nightline" in Ireland. They wanted to know about why our church (and some others like it) were growing so fast and why so much interest in the Bible. They also some questions about the current political feeling among Christians with the upcoming Presidential elections in America. But then, as soon as third service was over, Lenya and I hopped on a SW flight to San Diego and made it there just in time for the Sunday evening service at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. My friend, David Jeremiah, pastors there and hosts a "Summer Bible Conference" every year. I promised him I'd speak this past Sunday night. (Actually, we made a deal--he'd come out to ABQ, which he did a few months back, and I'd come out there). It's always a welcomed treat for a pastor to be able to speak to hungry hearts. These are great folks who have a real love for God and His word. Dennis Agajanian, who live only a couple of miles from the church, made us all smile with his unique style of special music before the service. It was a great night and several folks made commitments to Christ Sunday night. Now I have a few days of very welcomed rest ahead.

Friday, August 22, 2008

From My Library

I picked up a book I've had in my library for some years now and decided to give it a fresh read. It's the biography of Henry Allan Ironside by E. Schuyler English. (English was the general editor of the Scofield reference bible and a close associate of Ironside) Ironside was a transplant from Canada to California in the late 1800s. He became associated with the Salvation Army as a young boy with an ardent zeal to save souls and preach the gospel. He moved around the Los Angelus area, San Francisco, San Diego and San Bernardino. Later he worked with the Plymouth Brethren, speaking in their assemblies all around the country. In 1930 Ironside accepted the invitation to the Moody Bible Church in Chicago where he pastored and wrote for many years. I first came across his writings when I as young Christin going to college in San Bernardino. HA Ironside wrote several commentaries on books of the bible and was a balanced expositor of the scriptures. So I wanted some light reading and have been delighted by this little book the past couple of weeks. I've found it to be inspiring, reminding me of my priorities and holy trust that has been committed to my care as both shepherd and teacher. I really love those who commit their lives to the faithful study and true exposition of the scriptures. May their tribe increase!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Nice and Productive Monday

This morning after an orientation for our new SOM (School of Ministry) I had the rest of the day off. By the way, this year we have students from New Jersey, Indiana, Missouri and even Australia. Each class is always a blessing and this is the 17th year of doing this.
So with a few hours to play, I was still able to be pretty productive. I took my old 1942 Flathead Harley Davidson and converted the old 6 volt electrical system into a 12 volt system. I had been keeping it all original for a long time now, but hey, anyone knows that those old 6 volt systems weren't the best (especially at night). So, swapping the generator, regulator and coil (and battery, of course) along with a new horn and light bulbs and, BADDA BING, its now a more reliable scooter--loads of fun these old things. My dad used to ride an old Indian and my brothers and I worked on these things growing up, so for me, its real relaxing and satisfying to get a little dirty and still have the bike run! Thanks to my great friend, Kenny Riley, we got 'er done!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lee Strobel

I interviewed Lee Strobel today. You know him. He was the Atheist-turned-Christian who was the former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune. He's now written about twenty books, is a NY Times best selling author and and has been interviewed on numerous national television programs, including ABC’s 20/20, Fox News, and CNN. Lee is the guy who wrote, "The Case for Faith", "The Case for Christ" etc. He was educated at Yale Law School and after a nearly 2 year investigation for the evidence for Jesus, he committed his life to Christ. I have him coming out here to speak in September for a weekend and today I was interviewing him for my "First Friday" Connection broadcast. That's the once a month friday radio slot when I talk to different leaders or contributors to the Christian Community. I was able to get a clip of Lee telling me about how his book, "The Case for Christ" was instrumental in bringing Evil Kinevil to faith in Jesus Christ--I mean a radical conversion. This is one of the coolest things I've ever heard. Until today, I had no idea that this was the case. Lee told me that at his baptism which he made very public about 700 people came to faith in Christ.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fish Tacos

OK,I love fish tacos! ALOT! But at the same time I'm really picky--I don't like when they deep fry the fish(yuck) nor do I appreciate a really fishy taste. The fish has to be just right and the salsa has to be Oh so nice! So here's the deal--I make some of the best fish tacos anywhere. At least that's what I'm told. The secret ingredient is using good fish--Mahi-mahi. Slap it on the grill and make sure you don't overcook those babies. Then its all about the salsa. A friend, Darren Berry gave me a recipe that I've used (tweaked a bit) for years. I use mango, red onion, cilantro and chipoltle chili. (This stuff is hot so use them sparingly). The salsa turns out sweet and spicy. Forget those flour tortillas that some use everywhere (hey, this is a taco, remember?) You can add some cheese and cabbage or whatever else floats your boat, but you'll love these things for a summer meal! We did tonight!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

River Sessions

My friend Brian Nixon had a great idea. Actually he has quite a few of them. He heads the publication department at Calvary and is a recent re-transplant back to his native New Mexico from California. Brain thought about doing little video segments about subjects we're teaching currently at church, a way to reinforce the truth and really get people's minds around the biblical text. We call these, "The River Sessions"--informal Q & A about a variety of subjects. Brian puts himself in the position of a listener who wants clarification on these subjects and then we discuss them back and forth. Since we've been teaching about Eternity and what happens to a believer when he/she dies, we started with that. In these first sessions we discussed the eternal nature of man's soul and what heaven will be like including insights into the resurrection body of delivers, the Kingdom Age (Millennium) as well as the Eternal State (New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem). We just did our first filming today and I hope to have these clips available on YouTube soon as well as this web site, the Connection site and the main church site. So look for them shortly! Loads of fun today, and now, I'm off to another meeting--architects--as we discuss an upcoming expansion project on the campus of Calvary Albuquerque.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Raw Talk

My wife Lenya spoke candidly about friendship with God and how to enjoy a courageous and intimate relationship with Him on the M88 Sunday program, "Raw Talk". Along with her co-author, Penny Rose, she articulated some of the principles found her their two newest releases, "Live Intimately" and "Live Fearlessly". These two women's Bible studies are designed for the busy woman (I don't think I know any who aren't), so that in 20 minutes a day, they can walk away with biblical truths for THAT DAY! As she was being interviewed I just hung around to listen and snap pictures. She always impresses me with what she shares and how she says it. Her outstanding insights have helped me for 27 years!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Precious Grain of Wheat Has Fallen...but Will Rise

God has designed us for eternity and not for temporality. We are made to live forever. But for us to inhabit and enjoy the eternal, certain things must change in the temporal. In order for mortal humanity to “put on immortality” (1Cor15:54), humans must die. Here’s Jesus take on it, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24). But this eternal change requires much grief and deep pain, especially when the timing isn’t how we’ve planned it. This week I was with my friends Greg and Cathe Laurie who buried their son, “Topher” on Thursday. He was only 33 when his mortal body put on immortality. His sweet young wife Brittany, still numb with grief, is wondering how she’ll convey daddy’s absence to little Stella, who just turned two. Jonathan, Topher’s younger brother, is my son Nate’s age. I especially resonate with him since, when my older brother died in a motorcycle accident, I was also 22 years old. All of this profound heartache and hurt was generated when Topher arrived in heaven last Thursday morning. That instant in time changed everything for the rest of time for this family. For Christopher (Topher is what we called him), everything is fine, He’s in heaven, enjoying his eternal inheritance. He trusted in Christ and His finished work on the cross. I saw firsthand how his spiritual life grew solid when he met Brittany and how their love for each other paralleled their growing love for Jesus.

So on the eternal side of the coin everything is great, but let’s not forget the temporal side. Though we can rejoice for one who’s gone to heaven, we can’t stop with that. There are still those not yet in heaven that desperately miss a husband, daddy, son and brother. There is still pain on this side of heaven’s celestial gleam. There are deep scars in the lives of this family crushed by the reality of Christopher’s exit. And as Christians, we must not disregard their sorrow nor minimize it by a tacit acknowledgment of heaven’s gain. Death is the time for the Body of Christ to stay engaged. How? I’ve been thinking of a few suggestions: First, visit the Harvest web site ( Look over and appreciate some of the many artistic layouts and designs (on the web and in print) for Harvest ministries that Topher himself designed. Like his dad and like his Father in heaven, Topher was a creator, using his talent to beautify and present life magnificently. From bumper stickers that reminded drivers of the upcoming Harvest Crusades to the edgy layout of the church web pages, Christopher Laurie’s creative energy permeates it all. Second, you could go to the blog provided there and write a note of love and encouragement to the family. Believe me, in the long days ahead, this family will drink in the comfort from these heartfelt, prayer-filled comments. Solomon said, “Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in settings of silver”(Prov. 25:11). Let God use you to minister to them by prayer and encouragement. Third, a fund has been set up to help sustain Christopher’s family. He left a young wife and two baby girls (Brittany will deliver her second child in November). Such financial support will be received as a tangible token of love from the Body of Christ to these three lovely girls. And trust me, in the months and years ahead, they will need it. Fourth, if you’re in the Southern California area, plan to attend the upcoming Harvest Crusade at Anaheim Stadium on August 15-17. Bring unsaved friends and family to this event. Really get behind it this year. After all, this is the very event that Christopher Laurie was designing the art for. Nothing would make him more “stoked” than to see the fruit of his labor in souls saved. He, along with all in the Laurie family, would love to have many more prepare to go to the very heaven Topher is now enjoying. This truly would be “much grain” resulting from the “grain of wheat” falling into the ground. Finally, pray for Brittany, Stella, Jonathan, Greg and Cathe by name. Pray for God’s sustaining grace to carry them through the days and nights that lay ahead. Even place a reminder to keep them in prayer through the months ahead. As a friend of this precious family, thank you for your love and concern.

When death comes to a believer and another “seed” is sown into the ground to await the resurrection, we as Christians then must have two responses: the first is to be rejoicing for the one who has put on immortality, but the second is to be responsible to those who remain presently bound by the realities of mortal life.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Like Old TImes!

Ever since Nate was a just a tike, I would gather his toys and take him everywhere on a bicycle. I had one of those little carriages that attach to the back with a seatbelt system and I'd wheel him all over town and on the off road trail. He grew up loving bikes. So today we packed up the mountain bikes and made our way up past Dixon's Apple Orchards out by Cochiti Lake. What a great day in a magnificent place--crossing the trickling mountain stream, negotiating the rocky trails with a canopy of warm sunshine and tall pines. It's been 20 years since I road those trails--glad we went today. The best part was just hanging with Nate and listening to him download what God is doing in his life now. He just arrived back from leading a team to Belize and is now preparing for marriage in three months. I am so proud of him and thankful for God's evident grace in his life. So a day filled with mud, sweat and cheers!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Please Pray for the Laurie Family

I just received a phone call informing me that Christopher Laurie (pictured here with his beautiful family) has just been killed in a automobile accident. Greg Laurie is one of my best friends and my heart dropped and is still falling. On behalf of the Laurie family I want to solicit as many prayers from the Body of Christ as possible. Christopher (we all called him "Topher") was on the 91 Freeway in southern California when this occurred about mid-day. Topher was the firstborn son of Greg and Cathe. He is not only survived by his parents but by his wife, Brittany and daughter Stella (pictured here)and by his younger brother, Jonathan. Brittany is also expected another child in the Fall. Please keep this precious family lifted before God's throne, that God's peace and comfort would envelop them and that He would guard and embrace their grieving hearts. Topher and his wife used to come every week to our church at Ocean Hills while I served there. I was able to watch their relationship blossom into marriage and rejoiced when their daughter Stella was born. Though I know he is right now with Jesus in heaven, I will deeply miss this talented and sweet young man. Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Austin City Limits

This week in Austin, 2200 worshipers (who are also worship leaders) from around the country gathered at Riverbend Church in Austin, Texas. The conference hosted speakers, musicians and loads of workshops for the musically and ministry inclined. This worship conference from the first night had a wonderful air of simplicity and reverence. Rather than introducing the "big name bands" or high profile speakers, one after another came to the platform to share their gift but mostly to shine the stage light of attention onto Jesus. It was an exceptionally receptive group and it was wonderful to see old friends and make new ones. Before I spoke Monday night on, "Casting the Worship Vision--Past, Present and Future" Sarah Kelly and Matt Redman fill the sanctuary with a "joyful noise." These folks were up for a good dose of Bible truth and resonated with the message I brought. I thoroughly enjoyed the staff of Riverbend Church and watched firsthand a great teamwork by many faithful servants in that church community. Fernando Ortega did a great job this morning!

Joining Matt Redman in one of his classics!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

OK, I feel short now

I met Damien and his mom and dad and baby brother this morning after
third service. He's 7'1" and has a shoe size of 20 AND he's only a
sophomore in high school.(Wait, I can hear the NBA coming!) Great
family. They have a new infant that we're going to dedicate soon.

Dave's New Best Friend

Dave Row talks to this man every Sunday and loves him like a brother. I happened to get a picture of it. (Check out the bow-tie!) Some of us are wondering if they may be long-lost brothers!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Traveling to Austin

Please pray for me as I travel to Austin Texas Monday to speak at the National Worship Leader's Conference. It will be held at the Riverbend Church. I'm the first speaker out of the gate on Monday night. I am told that there will be upwards of two thousand worship leaders from all over the world. I'm excited to see the resurgent interest in worship. 45 years ago AW Tozer called worship, "The missing jewel of the evangelical church." I am glad to see many trying to rediscover this jewel.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From the Study

Trying out some video--a few words about what I'm studying.

Three Beauties

The house has been filled with more volume the past few days--a happy volume!(I needed to say that). These three ladies: my wife Lenya, Janae (Nate's fiance) and Stephanie Chapin (Janae's mom) have all been busy doing wedding stuff--planning for the big event taking place on November 2. The three beauties have worked long hard hours getting everything planned and have kept it all within the budget! Loads of fun, lots of laughter, hours of joy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Election Time--Pray Hard!

Had an opportunity to be with John McCain this morning as he was here in New Mexico (yes this is one of those "battleground states"). He was firing on all cylinders today reaffirming our need to be free from the dependence on foreign oil and develop alternative energy while exploiting our own oil resources in the meantime. Being a military superstar (former POW), he also understands the threat of Iran with it's aggressive nuclear enrichment program and recent missile launch. in the Middle East, along with its arrogant palaver about destroying Israel. McCain was clear on this point, "There MUST not be another holocaust!" I raised my hand throughout the whole meeting to ask a question (yes, this was a town-hall meeting so I wasn't acting out of line). I wanted to get his take on the relationship the government plays with faith-based organizations in solving social and moral ills. Didn't get that chance. I was sitting next to Sam Winder (chairman of Promise Keepers, former asst. U.S. State Attorney and one our church Board Members). Sam is a good friend with the Senator from Arizona and has worked in the past with him. It was a fun morning but also a reminder to me that we as Christians must first and foremost PRAY for the upcoming election and be responsible to vote. Remember, Paul said, "supplication, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men...for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." We can do more than pray AFTER we've prayed, but we can't do more than pray UNTIL we've prayed.