Monday, September 15, 2014


Detroit: Paris of the Midwest?

It is true. Back in the Glory Days, when Michigan was the engine of  America, Motown was called the Paris of the Midwest.  A slight stretch, but Detroit  in 1960 had a vibrant social scene fueled by the Big Three Auto companies. But that was then. 

Imagine my surprise Friday night when the hotel in-room tourist mag at the Westin Metro airport had the headline: 
New Day in Detroit: Paris of the Midwest. 
Let me say this about that.
I have been to Paris, and, uh, no. 
Get this story:

Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.

At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.

 An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

 When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

 The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.

Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to "enter Detroit at your own risk".

It is easy to point fingers and mock Detroit, but the truth is that the rest of America is going down the exact same path that Detroit has gone down.
Detroit just got there first.  

That prediction is a bit dark, unless you live in St. Louis or another inner city.
Beyond the economics, Michigan is a quality state and obviously, has some great lakes. If you ever get a chance to go north, do it. Charlevoix, Petoskey and Mackinac are magic. Accurate to say, The Colorado of the Midwest. 
I went back last weekend for a reunion of our campus radio station and there was a CMU football reunion too. 
Radio was a much different animal in the WCHP days, before voice tracking, corporate clusters and centrally planned playlists.
WCHP was a freak of nature, receiving national recognition in the middle of nowhere.  Superb to see some of the pro's I learned radio with. 
Every baby boomer knows the sensation of seeing a friend for the first time in decades, that's why they invented name tags.
At the football game, I wasn't quite ready to see some guys with canes, but football is rough on the knees.

 It was a trip to see my college roommates, Gary Bevington, the QB, Jim Johnson, the running back and DJ, (still playing the hits in Detroit) and Greg Partalis, 'The Greek' offensive tackle and always the one most likely to become a millionaire.  I was a wide receiver in the wrong offense. Coach Kramer thought passing the ball was a sign of weakness.

The campus had an eerie vibe of another life. Glad to have survived the drama and the trauma that goes with campus days. 

Detroit and Michigan seem to be on the comeback trail. I hope so.  I like comebacks, because I made one. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Did Not See This Coming

Alivia meets one of her first horse friends in Montana


I can honestly say that until I met our first grandchild, Alivia Sky, eight years ago, I had never given a thought to grandchildren. Maybe it is the branding problem of relating to being a grand parent. I sort of imagined a cross between Grandpappy Amos on the Real McCoys and Marlon Brando stumbling around the garden in Godfather I.  I could not relate.
Actually, I was so consumed raising and surviving the Lusko tribe, this season was never given a glimmer of thought.
Even thirty years of faithful Focus on the Family listening did not prepare me for the obvious when you have a full brood. I do not doubt that the good Dr. Dobson broached the subject, but it just did not penetrate. I am a little thick. No amen needed from you.
Since Alivia made her appearance in So Cal, ten more grandchildren have mysteriously shown up.




Even I get the message, this is a fantastic time to enjoy and invest.  I suppose these kids are like different notes of fine wines, each unique and exquisite.  Amazing really.


All the cliche's about having grandchildren first are understandable, the pressure of parenting is pretty much off, and  unlike your children, you can return them at the end of the day. But that misses the point: Grandchildren are a reward.  A wild blessing and a tremendous opportunity.
Not so much to correct mistakes made on the earlier generation, but to intentionally impact the future.
They will touch tomorrow as grand parents never can.


We are determined to cultivate Jesus as much  as possible in these young vines.
Just the other day, Jaxon asked if he could go forward at the gospel invitation his Uncle Levi was presenting at a church in Denver. Wow. I have frozen that moment, what a joy. And so much more remains.  Eleven grandchildren, so far  that is, Heidi is in the dugout, and a few of the others are still in the game.

Now, this season is not one big My Little Pony or Spiderman party.
Yes, we have pretty much received a double blessing numerically from the first generation, which multiplies the upside. But love is 
always a risk, and so the possible heartbreak is expanded as we so painfully learned when Lenya was called home. 
But we are willing to run those Class IV whitewater rapids.

We are now very conscious of this window of time we have.....so preparing for impact.
Not everyone has this particular channel to the future, but remember, so many young children are fatherless. Nationally, forty per cent of children grow up in single parent homes, In some demographics, it is seventy per cent!  This is a fantastic opportunity for individuals and the church to step in and fulfill what James called, pure religion undefiled.

Now that I see this season, I want to enjoy every moment. Since I am not ready for retirement, my grandkids can expect deep sea fishing instead of a quiet day at the pond and Grand Prix go- karts instead of rocking chairs.
As long as my knees hold out, I'll run as far and fast with them as possible.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Israel: Royal Nation, Gift to the World

I first encountered anti-semitism when I was in second grade. I distinctly recall my parents talking about Jewish neighbors who would, "never be accepted into the country club."  This put my little mind on tilt and I asked why. Because they were Jewish my mom said. Reason enough, given that I was raised during the White Flight in Detroit by racist parents who voted for George Wallace in the 1968 presidential race. 
Gratefully, both mom and dad came to Christ, thus their hearts and minds changed. 
But the mystery of hatred for the Jews remained until I explored the roots of the Old Testament and discovered Genesis 12:2 & 3, God's permanent promise to Abraham and his Jewish nation: 

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and you shall be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curse you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.


 I have since been to Israel numerous times, visited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu and count many Jews as dear friends. But none of this compares with the wonder I feel when I consider the fantastic Jewish past, present and future.  If you want a concrete reason for faith in the Bible, I suggest an El Al flight to Tel Aviv.
One day in the late 19th century Queen Victoria of England reportedly asked her Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli this question, "What evidence can you give me for the existence of God?" Disraeli thought for a moment and replied, "The Jews, your Majesty, the Jews."

From Pharoah to Herod to Hitler, the Jews have been hated, hunted and exterminated. And yet, the slow train of God's deliverance of the World through His Royal Race and Jesus the Jewish Messiah is moving down the tracks. 

Get on it or be under it. 

Here are portions of an excellent article about 'How Jewish Values Enrich the Earth.'



Excerpts from www.breitbart.com 


Why does America need Jewish values?
 For all the wealth this country has generated it has not found the contentment it seeks. America has some of the highest rates of depression in the world.
Here’s why.
You can’t pursue happiness. You can’t chase it like it a rabbit. You can’t run after it like a kite. Rather, happiness is the natural by-product of a purpose-lived existence. If your life’s plate is filled with meaning and you feel directional and other-person-focused, then the organic outgrowth of that experience is happiness. But trying to pursue happiness is like trying to fall asleep. The harder you try the more elusive it is.
The Jewish people were entrusted by God with awesome purpose. No nation in the history of the world has had a more significant and positive impact on human development than the Jews.
While the globe was still polytheistic, worshipping many Gods, the Jews offered that from the many there could be only One. Disseminating the belief in the single, indivisible, unified God--what we declare thrice daily in our holiest prayer, the Shema--meant that men and women don’t stem from Zeus and Hera, Jupiter and Juno. Rather, since both genders come from one source there exists the possibility that male and female might love each other, build a family, and raise children who feel cherished. Because there is only One God there exists the probability that nations will one day live together in harmony in peace rather than forever battle each other for dominion and conquest. Because there is only One God there exists the hope that even within ourselves we will find inner peace in the reconciliation of intelligence and emotion, conviction and compromise, reason and instinct.
The Jews gave the world the Ten Commandments, the most important moral code of all time. In a debate I had with the late Christopher Hitchens at the 92nd St. Y I was told, in essence, that the Jews were simplistic. They had to hear from God not to murder or steal.
The Nazis believed that you could not murder human beings. But they said the Jews were vermin and could thus be exterminated with poison gas. But our laws against murder come from God himself. They are not ours to manipulate. Hence, Israel, the Jewish state, behaves morally, risking the lives of its soldiers on a daily basis to minimize civilian casualties, because every Jewish soldier is taught that a Palestinian child’s life is created equally in the image of God as a Jewish child’s life. 
We also bequeathed the world unique values, and I don’t just mean a love for learning, charity, and community. I also mean our insistence on destiny over the Greek emphasis on fate. The latter is a disempowering belief which implies that our future is scripted in the stars. We have no choice. The former, however, insists that God’s promise of a glorious future that can be captured with righteous action is always within our reach.
We gave the world the idea of redemption over the Christian emphasis on salvation. The latter emphasizes an individual soul’s quest to enter heaven. But the former insists that where we personally go does not much matter. It’s rather our contribution to the lives of others that is all-important.
And we gave the world the idea of marriage as a holy sacrament, captured in the Bible’s first story of God bringing together Adam and Eve as husband and wife. Other nations celebrate brute masculine aggressiveness, which is why the Greeks taught of Achilles, the Spartans King Leonidas, and the Romans Caesar and Augustus. But the Jews gave the world Abraham who is told by God to listen to his wife Sara. We believe that masculine aggression must be tempered by feminine nurturing. Blind masculine ambition must be softened by feminine warmth. Hence, the Jews are a gentle nation, renowned for their compassion and philanthropy.
Jews are, thank God, prosperous in America, but not because we are smarter or better than anyone else. We are not. The Bible is clear in Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” It is not intelligence that leads to prosperity but values. Jewish values emphasize the power of choice and thus personal accountability, a curiosity for life and thus a love of learning, the sanctity of the Sabbath and thus the prioritization of family and community over possessions and wealth.
With such glorious teachings allied to such a powerful willingness to sacrifice in the name of these cherished values, it is no wonder that the Jews have had such positive and lasting impact.
John Adams, our second President, expressed it eloquently: 
I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation....They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.
America’s greatest writer, Mark Twain, added this: 
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
Winston Churchill, the twentieth century’s greatest statesman, said, “Some people like the Jews, and some do not.  But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


No Cheap Shots at the Son of God

The team at Calvary in Miami took a road trip yesterday to see the 'Son of God' film. 
At the macro level I applaud the exposure of the life of Jesus at a multiplex. 
This treatment came from the producers of 'Touched By An Angel' and 'Shark Tank,' so the bar of cinema expectation needs to be set at that level.
'Son of God' is a repackaged distillation of the well received History Channel mini-series from last spring.  
So, no surprise seeing  Surfer Jesus starring in a predictable TV quality telling of the gospel. Nothing wrong with that, but......
this is not the movie I would have made, however it is probably the zenith of what these filmmakers are capable of. Move on. 


Truth be told, I think Daniel did a better job of casting and costumes in our reenactment of the storm on the sea of Galilee in our 'The Jesus Boat Revealed' documentary. (Biased view)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBfPbz66bmw

Well, the Word never comes back void, so it is what it is.  Those with nit picking critiques about 'Son of God,' need to seriously get a life, this is an honest attempt by two well connected Hollywood types to use their craft for the Great Commission. May their tribe increase.

The evolution of Christian film has been laborious and full of cheesy knock-offs. We are well past the time when Christians should be happy just to be in the game. As Phil Cooke cryptically commented, 'Christians have their own media awards for the same reason there are Gay Olympics, we can't compete with the big boys."  Ouch and amen. 
I've never attended a Dove Awards ceremony precisely for that reason.

Chariots of Fire, Shadowlands, The Passion (nearly a perfect film) and Jesus of Nazareth, all illustrate that our message can have a powerful adaptation to the film medium. 
The list of lame Christian films is too long to detail. 

Speaking of Phil Cooke, here are his thoughts about the upcoming movie, 
'Noah.' 

http://philcooke.com/christians-should-see-noah/

We need to simply tell our story, true testimonies of changed lives are stronger than fiction.
So many great movies remain to be made, we should not be satisfied with churning out second rate faith based films.

 Progress has been made, much more remains to be done. 

Monday, December 30, 2013



Happy Day! I have a date with Larissa Lusko for New Years Eve.
Seriously, time with her is golden. Looking forward to our own 
Personal Year of Jubilee in 2014! You are a treasure Honey! 



 2013 In the rear view mirror

The year began in the shadow of Lenya's radically unexpected departure to heaven over Christmas last year.  2013 has been a year of processing and progressing.  Watching Levi, Jennie and the girls work through their grief has aged me.  Thirty years of pastoring and I am still speechless at times in dealing with such loss. A stiff and sobering reminder that I don't have all the answers, but thank God we have the  firm consolation of the gospel.
It has been amazing to watch God use Lenya's death to touch so many and bring fresh life.
I have don't know how someone outside of the faith could cope with an event like this. 


Flashbacks


New born Lusko children in 2013:

 Lyon Levi-  born to Jesse and  Bekah


 & Noah  born to Daniel and Leanne


The Calvary Chapel Central America Conference in Antigua, Guatemala  was  a pleasant surprise. I was ready for a mission trip experience. No problem with that, but Antigua turned out to be a sweet spot. A Spanish village surrounded by active and dormant volcanoes and verdant coffee plantations. 
Add to that the new Potters Field Conference Center, great friends sharing fantastic coffee and the trip was excellent. Included a day of wild deep sea fishing.


Pastor Chuck Smith, moves to Heaven. 
Since 1977, Pastor Chuck has been a constant  in my life. His death  in 2013 was not unexpected but it was a shock the first time I heard his radio program introduce,'The late Pastor Chuck.'   His life defined what a 'pastor's heart' is all about.  No doubt, he impacted and influenced me more than anyone. Pastor Chuck shaped my philosophy of ministry. Everyone has a voice in their head and heart at crunch time. When it comes to ministry decisions, I often hear  the deep baritone of Pastor Chuck.


In 2010, Skip and I produced a full length documentary about Pastor Chuck and the impact of the Jesus Movement. Here is the video super  trailer:




Fresh Manna:  I had a good number of opportunities to guest speak in 2013 in Miami, Montana and New Mexico. That is always an honor.
Here's a sample from Florida:

http://vimeo.com/69423884


Honorable Mentions:

Hillsong Conference at Radio City Music Hall
Watching the Work blossom in Miami 
Fresh Life in Montana
Heidi Graduates from Calvary Chapel Bible College
Learning to fly fish in Montana. A river does run through it 
Working with Troy Carl and  the fine folks at Faith Comes By Hearing
More excellent events with and from a fruitful family than I can cite
Thank you Lord!

2014, and now His coming is sooner than when we first believed. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

                            The Lawn Is On Fire

'Dad! Daniel set the front lawn on fire!' 
As a veteran father, I did not panic. 
I had seen it all. Our family held the record for bone breaks at the Colorado Springs Orthopedic Office. My  children are type AAA.  They played hide and seek on the roof, dove off a dam and swam in the fountain at Fashion Island. 
Merely setting the lawn on fire did not phase me. 


Persecuted
A Daniel Lusko Film
Spring 2014

'Why?' Was my logical response. 'He's making a movie,' Becca replied.  
  'Which one?' I asked.  'Last of the Mohicans.' Oh, the fire scene. That was understandable, he loved that movie. 
Daniel had locked on to a career in film like a laser at age fourteen. 
I remember emailing with him from Belize while he was in the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios. He said he felt like he was downloading film data like Neo from the Matrix. Film metaphors are part of the Lusko Lexicon. 

Later, Daniel worked in our video department at Connection Communications and we were also able to co-produce a number of documentaries. We travelled from Panama to Israel and did some great work. We certainly had 'creative differences.' Just think of two big horn rams colliding on a mountain and you get the picture.  We survived and found common collaborative ground, Daniel thrived.  It has been thrilling to see the career track he has been on. It is very clear to me that God prepared the way and cleared the path. 
Daniel's first dramatic shoot for one of our projects, 'The Road to Rome,' woke me up to where he was headed. We recreated the scene where Paul the apostle is taken to be martyred. With a meager budget, Daniel leveraged his film Academy buddies and made it look Hollywood quality. In every scene we have worked on since, he multiplied the budget manifold. In other words, what gets on the screen in his films looks like ten times the hard costs. Directors who have $100 million to toy with should produce great films, but often don't.

Our first major documentary, 'Epicenter,' contained an epic interview we did in Jerusalem between Joel Rosenberg and Benjamin Netanyahu.  When I screened Daniel's rough cut of the doc, it blew my doors off.



Four years ago, Daniel wrote a screenplay about a scenario where a prominent evangelist is framed by the government because he refused to compromise and comply with a 'One Faith' movement. This was before it was obvious the IRS, DOJ and other organized government arms were targeting people of faith.
                        Daniel and Franklin Graham

His perseverance in pursuing this project has been legendary. Very few first time film-makers get their projects funded, cast six well known actors and maintain creative control.  Impressively, Daniel did, below is the first video teaser from 'Persecuted.'
      Leanne with Ezra, (not pictured, or born: Noah)

I am hugely proud of his achievements, and more so because he is a man of God, good husband and father.
Bravo Daniel.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Night of the Raccoons 

The recent devastating floods in Colorado have isolated Estes Park, ravaging Boulder and the front range. 
These stories remind me of a night in 1976 when I lived in Estes Park when 145 people died in the Big Thompson Flood.  I was working for a man who owned both a movie theater that I managed and a radio station, KSIR where I served as an announcer.
A phenomenal rainstorm hit one Saturday, the night when I changed the old school marquee of this single-plex. 
As lightening and thunder rumbled around Long's Peak I knew an unusual storm had hit, I did not know how severe. 
I awoke in the middle of the night and as I checked the front porch, I was surprised to see it covered by raccoons. You know the rain is bad when the raccoons try to break in to your house. 
What I didn't know was that twelve inches of rain fell in four hours and a twenty foot wall of water went cascading down the canyon. 
It was a time before cell phones, and there was no way to warn the hundreds of campers who were huddled in their tents and trailers. Three hundred of them did not survive that horrific night. 
As a newsman for KSIR, I was allowed by the National Guard to travel in and report on the damage. 
It was an outrageous scene, homes were trashed like  doll houses, and my heart went out to those who died, it must have been a frightening way to perish.
Oh, and the movie I put up on the marquee that night played to record crowds for several weeks, the coincidence of the title and the flood made national news, the film was, 'In Search of Noah's Ark.'