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!