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.