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. 


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:

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. 

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,'  she shouted.
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 around the world 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.' 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Losing Loved Ones, Facing Reality

                                                  Lenya Avery
Since my limo ride to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami two years ago, I think about death every day now, not morbidly, but realistically.
I recall that one of my earliest memories was at four-years-old when I saw my grandfather in his coffin.
Somehow, I did not attend another funeral for over two decades until my mom passed away. 
Since then, as a pastor I have conducted dozens of funerals. It is an interesting commentary that  I 'met' most of these people at their service, an odd place to become acquainted with a person.

When It Hits Close To Home
A funeral for a friend or loved one is an entirely different matter. 
It was a freezing day in the Flathead Valley of Montana when I stood at little Lenya's graveside just after Christmas last year. 
It just seemed so wrong for us to turn and leave her in that frozen ground. Wrong and irresponsible. 
For virtually every moment of her life up to that point, her actions and location were constantly monitored. 
She had  never been out of adult supervision, always watched for potential harm, protected  from any possible injury, external or self-inflicted.
I know it was irrational, but I thought, Lenya was not allowed to play outside in the winter without a coat, and now we were leaving her to the elements?
But then, isn't death irrational? It is mysterious, capricious and uncontrollable. It can be temporarily postponed, but not evaded. 
After death, a corpse becomes a problem. What to do with a body when life has fled?  The Bible calls this bodily state dishonor,  when life flees, the body is a mere shell. Seeing my mom in this condition was stunning. Though her familiar form remained, clearly the essence was gone. A powerful moment that left me speechless.

Body Trouble
At  death, the vehicle that made us mobile suddenly becomes a literal dead weight, and we treat it oddly.  What to do with the body at this point? Bury it, burn it or send it on a 'Weekend at Bernie's' adventure?  It doesn't really matter. 
Some funerals include 'visitations,' that can be a strange ritual.  And then we have the funeral procession, and the one time when you are in no particular hurry, the police let you go through all the red lights. I'd like to have that card to play when I am alive and late for an appointment. 

Death is dose of cold water, a wake-up call and a warning. Even ardent believers can slip into a self-made construct that pretends death is an unwelcome intruder when in fact, it is one of  few certainties in life. 
Having been on the brink myself in 2011, I am more vitally aware that our clocks are ticking down. 
Watching others suffer through grief makes the death of a loved one doubly difficult, but the fact is, everyone has an appointment; Such is the human condition. This does not make ICU or hospice any easier, they are inevitable and that sucks. Thus the gospel.

Losing a Loved One?
I know the classic funeral line is, 'You haven't lost someone if you know where they are.' I get the concept, but it is semantics to me. Gone for the rest of my life can seem like a very long time. It does make heaven closer, but it hurts.

Unforeseen Season                                     
The takeaway for me is pretty obvious: invest bandwidth more intensely in the Kingdom while being more intentional about valuing people over projects, especially those in my tribe. 
Grandchildren have been raining down on us  from heaven like rabbits. What a fabulous season. 
Raising kids was so consuming I did not see this time approaching, but I am fully engaged and stoked. Here's a montage of snapshots, a tribal update.

                           Two pastors and a film-maker. Body Language

                                                       Larissa with Aisley & Emmy 

                                                           And Jaxon & Bridget

                                                 Ezra updates his Facebook Status

Bekah- what a sweet daughter-in-law

                                          Lyon makes his appearance, Jesse is a dad. Wild.

                                                            The Northern Tribe of Levi

Daisy as the prima donna

                                     Leanne with a new look, and a new baby on the way in Oct.
Daniel and Leanne in midtown NYC

Josh and Tamara. He makes the coffee (worked for the Mermaid).
                                         Jason and clan. Epic Easter at Red Rocks.

And then there is Thelma and Louise

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Spirit of the Serpent and A Slaughter of Innocents

 This is a picture of Lyon Lusko,  our latest grandchild. 
Imagine a snake slithering into the hospital nursery where he is right now.
That's what is happening spiritually all across America, Satan is determined to kill and destroy as much of God's inheritance as possible. Abortion, I believe is the worst of evils, devilishly devised to make mothers complicit in the murder of their own children. 
Mass infanticide  is  not a new strategy. The spirit of the serpent motivated Pharaoh to:

  'Deal treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.' (Acts 7:19)

Later, 'Herod gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.' (Matthew 2:16)

But Pharaoh and Herod would marvel at the slick efficiency of the American abortion industry.  It apparently never occurred to these crude 
monsters to kill the children before they were born. How brilliant and brutally efficient.
Will God judge America for 55 million abortions? He doesn't have to, sinful disobedience carries its own inherent wrath. A missing generation creates many invisible social judgements, for openers, the dirty secret of America's Social Security crisis being caused in part by those who will be unable to contribute because they were murdered in the womb. Maternal guilt, shame and remorse are other fragments of automatic impact accompanying abortion.
Worse, sin is never static, the serpent has a voracious appetite. 
Not content with mere murder of babies, abortionists are demanding late term, partial and post birth abortions. You can almost hear the hiss when Nancy Pelosi defends these practices by saying she is a 'respectful and practicing Catholic,' and  won't politicize abortion because it is 'holy ground.'  Angels must retch at this arrogant heresy. 
Legal, safe and rare indeed. 
Heaven and history will hold America severely guilty for this bloody transgression.
Someday, it will be clear that men like Randall Terry and Jay Sekulow were patriots while Bill Clinton, Barak Obama  and all those who lead the slaughter of innocents are
spiritual criminals of the highest order. 
The serpent spirit is loose upon our land, we have not seen the worst yet. For example?  In China there are forced abortions. Think the IRS is beyond coercing and rewarding abortions when they take charge of healthcare? Then you aren't paying attention. 
Watch this and weep: 

Limbaugh: Abortion at Root of Much of America's Ills

Much of the cultural and economic decay facing America can be traced to the more than 50 million abortions performed since the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision, Rush Limbaugh says

"Fifty-two million taxpayers haven't been born, is the way Washington looks at it," Limbaugh said on his radio show on Friday. "They don't look at it morally. They don't look at it in any kind of cultural way or any kind of cultural impact. They just say … we have 52 million fewer people paying taxes. We gotta replace 'em. Hello, amnesty."

But beyond that, abortion has had a role in destroying society, Limbaugh said. 

Most people see abortion simply as a woman's right to choose, he said, but the impact has been much wider. "It's had an impact on crime. It's had a profound impact on our politics. It is at the root of our cultural rot and decay."

Limbaugh said no one wants to accept responsibility for his or her actions anymore. "And I'm not talking about the women," he said. "I'm talking the overall effect of a society having literally no problem with eliminating 52 million of its citizens. That can't be good."
Limbaugh noted that Americans still feel guilt over slavery, yet aren't bothered by abortion. "I think it is the cause of so much that seems to be inexplicable to people," he said. "Why are 10-year-olds shooting each other to death in Chicago? Why is our society so permissive, anything goes, the more ribald, the better? The more honorable, the more boring it is said to be."

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

 Quick Takes about The Bible on The History Channel

1. Snaps for the effort. but…… Mel Gibson OWNS the franchise. 
I watched The Passion with Jesse the Saturday before Easter. 
Not fair. The Bible, Easter edition was thin in comparison, anything would be.
Actually, I would put Jesus of Nazareth in second place for cinematography.
Of course it was shot by Franco Zefferelli who also directed Romeo and Juliet.

2. Give Them a Break.  I've seen the blogs micro critical of the series. I even saw CNN with the web headline: 'Five Heresies on The Bible'
(How ironic, CNN wouldn't know a heresy if it bit them…..)
Nonetheless, this was a huge undertaking, the producers, Mark and Roma, deserve applause for the vision.  They live in the belly of the beast, yet, nothing heretical here.  Sorry CNN.
Remember, if Hollywood had its way, The Bible would be on the Comedy Channel.  I am impressed Mark cut a deal with The History Channel. Good for them.

3. Jot and Tittle. I cringed at some of the unneeded, 'artistic license' in the flow and detail. It was predictable that every nano second of this project would be fact checked against the  King James. My inner pastor wanted to keep score.  You can't mess with the facts, better  consulting QC  would have saved some grief in the blogosphere.

4. Who Knew Samson was a Brother?  It was a calculated risk to avoid using any known actors in the project. Fine.  But, surfer Jesus was slightly stereo-typical, uh, he was Jewish. If the Satan/Obama controversy was intentional, it was a lame and short-sighted shot, beneath the dignity of this project.  Plus, The Bible series will be showing when this Administration is a distant  memory.
It is rough casting some of the best known and loved characters ever, not to mention the Son of God. I once spent time on stage with Jim Caviezel, it was confusing, I was sure he knew what I was thinking. 

5. Liar,Liar: The bad timing award goes to Jim Carey. Just before Easter, he mocked Believers, saying, 'Charleton Heston movies are no longer in demand.'
As 'fate' would have it, his  new movie  opened  Easter weekend and sold 2.5  million tickets. Meanwhile, the 57 year-old Ten Commandments was viewed  over the same period by 5.9 million. Heston is not around to defend himself or his work. Doesn't need to. 

6. Ratings from the Remnant. Consistently, The Bible was the #1 rated program on TV. However, there are over 300 million people in the USA. Certainly in the fragmented broadcast world we live in, The Bible's 12+ million viewers each week was a  hit.  But the closing segment of Mash cumed 125 million viewers.
How good is it that this week, The Bible tied mega-hit The Walking Dead? Now that is something TV exec's will take note of.  Of course many of them are walking dead.

7. We Need More of This. The most watched movie of all time is 'Jesus,' from Campus Crusade.
This is due to free viewings in hundreds of languages worldwide. The movie is absolutely faithful, word for word to the Book of Luke. (Jesus' hair still makes me nervous however). Every film can't be chapter and verse. Remember C.S. Lewis.  Narnia did okay and still made the point.
We need more biblical influence in the public square. All in all, bravo and encore. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

40 Years At Harvest 

The first time I heard Greg Laurie speak was in Honolulu, the year was 1977.
I was in spiritual cultural shock coming out of a college and rock radio lifestyle and being plunged into the nascent Calvary Chapel environment in a Shiloh House that sort of saved my life. My house pastor was Danny Bond and he brought me out of more issues than I care to mention.
Nonetheless, leaving behind The Doors,Led Zeppelin and Moody Blues, I was terrified that  the  Bill Gaither Trio would become the soundtrack for my future.
My first exposure to the only Christian Station on Oahu had been less than impressive.
That summer, I remember laying in the grass of the Waikiki Shell, the outdoor venue for a Harvest Hawaii Celebration, I was ready for some guys from the Old Time Gospel Hour. 
Was I wrong.   A rock opera of Shotgun Angel  by Daniel Amos blew the doors out, followed by Parable, then, Greg brought it. My counter-culture fears were put to rest. 

Little did I know then that in next 35 years my life would be immersed in Calvary Chapel and would intersect off and on with Greg and his Harvest team. 
In 1978, my mom was dying of brain cancer and I was in Southern California to support her. I was helping to plant Calvary Chapel of Southbay and one weekend, I was returning from Palm Springs on a Sunday night. I hadn't been able to find a church so we exited the freeway in Riverside with no specific plan. I saw some cars with 'Jesus Saves' bumper stickers and decided to follow them. 
Not the best plan in the world.  However, they led me to a hot auditorium and a meeting of what was then, Calvary Chapel of Riverside.  The same Greg Laurie from Hawaii was there and he opened a curtain and, behold, The  Sweet Comfort Band. Trust me, in that era, they were on the edge. 
The next junction was at a Calvary Chapel Pastor's conference in Twin Peaks in 1979.  I happened to sit with Greg at lunch. Gino Geraci was holding court, laughing in 27 different languages.  I didn't know what I was getting into, but it was a rush. Later,  Greg was kind enough to agree to air his radio program on a station I ran in Colorado. 
At the burgeoning Harvest Crusades in Anaheim, my son Daniel went forward, and it wasn't my finest parenting moment. I thought it would be a statement for my 12 year-old  PK son to go forward alone and stand for Christ.  However, like, 4,000 people did the same, so Daniel was almost lost as soon as he was found.

In New Mexico I would be able to serve as local coordinator for two Harvest Crusades. It was a privilege, I am convinced that these events at Dukes Stadium and The Pit, were instrumental in the explosive growth in the early 90's of Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque.  
For the past years it has been amazing to watch my son Levi Lusko host various Harvest Crusades around the country. 

Greg and Levi share a common grief, having a child taken to heaven.  I recall body surfing with Christopher and Jonathan back in the day, when  I was involved in setting up  Hawaii Harvest Pre-Crusade events on Oahu and Maui with Skip, 20 years after that night in Honolulu. 
 I ran into Christopher at an OC coffee shop shortly before he was taken to heaven. Looking forward to seeing both Lenya and him as soon as possible.
Most recently, Greg spoke at Lenya's service in Montana. That day is still very raw, but his words were a great comfort to me and to many.

The Harvest Team is the epitome of both professionalism and spiritual energy.  Working with John  Collins, Bryan St. Peters, Dave Spiker and others is always a pleasure, they set the standard and raise the bar. 
And now, 40 years in, Harvest could easily sit on its haunches, rest on their laurels and become an old wineskin. 
Uh- no.  Quite the opposite, for example,  Harvest America  ( was a revolutionary event and has tons of head room for the future. 
So this weekend, Harvest celebrates 40 years, watch it here, ( live or archived.
Gospel first, vision and vigor, that's Harvest. Its a terrific example.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Wish Heaven Was Next Door

I wish heaven was next door so I could go and visit anytime.  I would go there right now to hang out with Lenya and my mom. Of course, it would be difficult to come back. 
I don't always know what to make of the stories from those who claim to have taken visits to heaven for 26 minutes or whatever.  Some might seem legit, most are designed to sell books.  

Here is a mindbender, Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is within you." That narrows it down and freaks me out. I have done a lot of thinking about heaven  since my granddaughter Lenya went there, and it remains a great mystery. No wonder, since we are stuck with so much cultural clutter about the place.

Teaching and talking about heaven is one thing, knowing a dear loved one has gone there is quite another. 
How can heaven be so close, but so far away? When I was laying in the back of an ambulance in Miami, any breath could have been my last.  Of course that is always true, but it took on added reality because my heart was blowing up.  
Even then, heaven seemed so abstract, maybe if they had used the siren it would have inspired me to have some visions. But no. 

Jesus said a lot of things about heaven, "It is like this... and like that."  Nothing quite as precise as I would prefer.
I am not complaining, I am jazzed to have made the team, and when this road trip is over we will see the wisdom of it all.

I just want to know more; If only Paul and John could use Instagram, or the Bible came with pictures, like a slick Nat Geo mag.

Maybe we live in such a low estate, we can only understand heaven in the context of life on earth being short and painful.
So perhaps the Bible makes concessions to our paltry faculties when it defines heaven more by what is not there: No death, crying, pain or sorrow.  Yeah, I know the sunsets are gorgeous in Maui and the Grand Canyon is exquisite, but human experience is better illustrated by tears and misery than by first class cabins and cruises. 

This much I know, when I walked away from little Lenya's grave on that frigid Montana day in December, earth never seemed so cold and heaven never seemed so attractive. I wish it were next door, then I could hear her say in that special voice, 'Hi papa!'

Soon and very soon, its all just a heartbeat away.
Lenya Avery :: Celebration of Life from Levi Lusko on Vimeo.