I am approaching my two-year anniversary at New Life and I have been reflecting lately on all that has happened to me and to the church in such a short period of time. It seems we have packed ten years worth of experience into the past 24 months. Certainly, there have been some dark days, but there have also been some funny and memorable events that I will never forget.
7. President Bush shakes my hand
A few months after the shooting on the campus, the White House contacted my office asking me and Jeanne Assam to meet President Bush in Denver. He was sincerely moved by the story at New Life and wanted to tell us personally how proud he was of the church and the community. Watching Air Force One land and seeing the president come down the steps was magical and a memory I will never forget.
6. The fire alarm goes off at the end of the 11am service.
Pastor Ross was just wrapping up a great talk about serving in our city, when the fire alarm went off and forced several thousand people to evacuate. It was as if God was telling us to get out of the building and go be salt and light. There was no fire, but we will always remember the big ending to the service.
5. The porcupine in the petting zoo
It is true – we had a porcupine in the kid’s petting zoo for Hallelujah Night in 2007. Kids were not allowed to touch the prickly critter, but it was funny that a porcupine was next to sheep and baby goats in the little indoor zoo we had created.
4. Kill the Devil T-shirts
This was the best selling T-shirt at last year’s Desperation Conference when over 4000 students came to our campus to worship and pursue God. Everyone was wearing t-shirts that read, “Kill the Devil”. While it is theologically impossible for the Devil to be killed, it did make for a killer t-shirt.
3. Wait No More
In November 2008, over 1300 people from across the state of Colorado came to our campus to kick off Wait No More, an ambitious ministry idea birthed at Focus on the Family. We challenged the 3000 churches of Colorado to adopt the 750 children in the state’s foster system that were waiting for homes. That number is now under 500 and we believe that soon Colorado will have a waiting list of parents wanting children rather than a waiting list of children hoping for parents.
2. The Thorn
This year was my first Thorn experience and it was life-changing. Over a thousand volunteers worked for months to produce a Broadway quality musical complete with pyrotechnics, dancers, scary centurions, acrobats on ropes, and the debut of Doubting Thomas. Hundreds of people committed their lives to Christ and over 35,000 came during the Easter season to see the eight performances.
Number 1 – The Wednesday Night Family Meeting
Three days after a shooting on our campus, our tribe of people gathered for a time of mourning and remembrance for those who lost their lives. In the midst of great sorrow, hope arose from the ashes. At the end of the meeting, the worship team sang, “Overcome” and heaven literally came to the earth inside our packed Living Room. We sang the song with a holy defiance. We were determined that God was for us and that nothing could take the lamp stand from New Life that He had placed among us. When we were at our weakest moment, God became strong among us.
There are numerous great memories of my time here at New Life, but these seven came to mind today. Some are just things that appeal to my bizarre sense of humor and others are a reminder that God often leads on paths that are dangerous, mysterious and risky, but will always give us joy for the journey.