12.30.2008

3 Life-Altering Godin-isms

If you're a leader of anything, you really need to read Seth Godin's latest book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. It's phenomenal and I really like the style. No chapters. The whole book is broken up into these bite-sized chunks. Seth is one of the most popular bloggers in the world and the book reads very much like a blog.

Here's 3 priceless gems from Tribes:

  • How was your day? If your answer is "fine," then I don't think you were leading.  -pg. 48

  • If you're not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it's almost certain you're not reaching your potential as a leader.  -pg. 55

  • Leadership is a choice. It's the choice to not do nothing.  -pg. 59

12.29.2008

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Had a great but exhausting weekend.
  • Isla was sick all weekend. I tried really hard not to expose myself to the germs, but she's so darn cute. I did sleep on the couch for the last three nights though, because she always winds up in bed with us at some point. Not sick yet - hope it stays that way.
  • We packed up all the Christmas decorations on Saturday. The house looks a little empty now. It's amazing how normal a tree in the middle of your house becomes after a day or two.
  • Isaiah was invited by a friend to go to Truckee to play in the snow overnight.  He had a great time and couldn't wait to tell us all the details and how funny everybody thought he was. I'm really happy he had such a great time (and I didn't have to get cold).
  • I am loving playing with Isaiah's Guitar Hero video game. I've never been too much of a gamer, but I LOVE Guitar Hero. Friday night I was playing it until 3am. I've graduated past the "easy" setting and have settled in somewhat comfortably on the "medium" setting. I really rock out in our living room, too. I'm glad that no one has captured it on video yet.
  • Great service at Living Hope today. We had the Haugens lead worship "unplugged" and they did a great job! We spent the day reflecting on all God has done with and in LHC this past year and praising Him for it. God truly is good all the time!
  • I spent some time tonight preparing my sermon series for January. January is all about looking forward and vision casting. I feel God preparing to do incredible things with our church this year and I'm honored and humbled to be a part of it. Living Hopers, get ready! God is going to rock your face off in 2009!! (Sorry, the Guitar Hero is causing me to say crazy things.)

12.27.2008

Missing Rich

I spent a good amount of time last night and today loading about 100 of my favorite CDs on my Mac. I loaded several Rich Mullins albums and have been listening quite a bit to his music since. I used to listen to Rich just about non-stop and haven't listened quite as much over the last 5 years.

Rich Mullins' music is just simply timeless. It still sounds as great and powerful as it did the first time. Jamie and I are such big fans of Rich that we even named our son after him - Isaiah Mullins Myers. I don't know of any other person who's words have shaped me spiritually as much as Rich. It's been 11 years since his death and I still miss him. One of the biggest reasons I can't wait to get to heaven is to end this long streak of no new songs from Rich. I'm sure he's written some great ones since his arrival!

Below is one of his best songs, Hold Me Jesus, followed by Rich talking about the type of legacy he hoped to leave. Powerful stuff.


12.26.2008

Best of 2008

Well it's that time of year again. Time for my "Best of..." list. 

Top 5 Books I Read in '08
5.  The Starbucks Experience - Joseph Michelli
4.  Crazy Love - Francis Chan
3.  Tribes - Seth Godin
2.  Go Big - Bill Easum & Bil Cornelius
1.  Wild Goose Chase - Mark Batterson




Top 5 Albums I Listened To in '08
5.  Hello Love - Chris Tomlin
4.  God of This City - Passion
3.  Charge!! - The Aquabats
2.  Viva La Vida - Coldplay
1.  The I Heart Revolution: With Hearts As One - Hillsong United






Top 5 Movies Viewed in '08
5.  Fireproof
4.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
3.  The Orphanage
2.  The Dark Knight
1.  No Country For Old Men






Top 5 Favorite TV Shows of '08
5.  Boston Legal
4.  Avatar
3.  American Idol
2.  LOST
1.  The Beijing Summer Olympics



Top 5 Favorite Experiences of '08
5.  Relocating from MO to CA (this was the most fun disaster
 I've ever experienced)

If you're interested, here's the link to my 2007 list.

12.25.2008

Made Out Like a Bandit

I had a great Christmas. I got some pretty great gifts.

From Jamie - Logos Bible Software for Mac. This is so awesome! The software is incredible and will save me hours of time in sermon/teaching prep. I got the Scholar's Library which has several hundred volumes of bibles, commentaries, language helps, and a variety of other types of book. Lovin' it!

From Mollie - Mollie made me a great picture frame. She glued the wood together and painted it and put a great picture of the two of us in it. Very cool!

From Isaiah - iTunes gift card. I used it to buy the Jon Foreman Spring and Summer albums and a great live album by Ray LaMontagne. Great tunes!

From Isla - Borders gift card. Can't wait to pick out a couple of new books!

I had fun giving gifts, too. We got Jamie an overnight stay at a bed & breakfast in Auburn, CA, high tea at a tea parlor, and a massage. She's looking forward to it. Mollie got a new digital camera (pink). Isaiah got Guitar Hero. And Isla got some great toys, too (Elmo toy, doctor kit, YoGabbaGabba toy, and more).

Love the gifts part of Christmas! I think there has been a lot of unnecessary guilt piled on Christians about the materialism of Christmas. It can be a little insane, I know. But some heart-felt gift giving (and getting) in moderation is a beautiful part of Christmas. We give each other gifts as a reminder of, and celebration of, the beautiful gift that God gave us.  So Christ-followers, don't let a bunch of negative bah-humbug Christians make you feel guilty about your Christmas giving/receiving...just don't get stupid with it! Remember those less fortunate and the work of Christ in your Christmas spending, too.

Hope everyone else had a great Christmas.

12.24.2008

Joy to the World Wide Web

I just wanted to take a few moments to wish all my online friends a Merry Christmas. I hope everyone has a fantastic time tonight and tomorrow with friends and family. If you've got no one to spend Christmas with (and even if you do) choose to spend some time with Jesus. Go to a Christmas Eve service, read your Bible, read the Christmas story to your kids, serve those less fortunate, bundle up and take a walk and talk to God, hug somebody who doesn't deserve it -- you get the idea.

This time of year we spend a lot of time talking about Jesus coming into the world 2000 years ago, but it really wasn't the world he wanted to enter. The whole reason the Almighty lowered himself into being a tiny, helpless baby was to provide a way to enter your heart. It may sound a little elementary talking about asking Jesus to come into your heart, but that's exactly where he wants to be. He wants you to enter a relationship with him and let his teachings, his Spirit, his Kingdom, his peace enter you and change you. He wants to make you over into something more significant than you ever dreamed of being. Don't ignore him - embrace him!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

12.23.2008

Go Big

I just finished one of the best church leadership books I've read in a long time. This book has been sitting on my shelf for over a year. For a long time I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it because, honestly, I was a little turned off by the title.  The book is Go Big: Lead Your Church to Explosive Growth by Bill Easum and Bil Cornelius.

Over the last few years I've become somewhat resistant to what the "church growth movement" has become. I'm not against mega-churches or churches growing or modern methodology, I'm just turned off by churches who are all flash and shock and little substance. But I was so pleasantly surprised by Go Big. Even though it is very much about growing a church numerically, it is even more about being a strong leader - specifically a strong lead pastor.

This is not a typical church book, because it is way more practical than most. Many authors are today are afraid to get too practical because they don't want to seem like they're pushing their agenda or methods as the only way. Bill and Bil get very practical, give very strong advice, and make no apologies for it. Reading Go Big didn't feel like a seminar, but rather it felt like sitting down with a couple of friends honestly sharing what has worked and not worked for them over the years.

Their advice is strong, sometimes shocking, but I believe mostly dead-on. Great advice on structuring a church, casting vision, getting past growth barriers, staffing, creating a culture of service, fund-raising, and dealing with difficult people.  I won't go into the details here, but every lead pastor should read this book. I'm not going to promise you'll agree with everything - I didn't. But I gained so much truly great advice from this book.

There's a follow up book that I can't wait to read called Go Big With Small Groups: Eleven Steps to an Explosive Small Groups Ministry.

Sidenote: I don't know if everyone's copy is the same as mine, but I thought it was interesting that the cover boasted "Forward by Ed Young" and inside there was no forward, no Ed Young.

12.22.2008

Christmas Shopping for Clueless Husbands

Here's a funny little video from Jonathan McKee. Jonathan is one of my favorite youth ministry experts. For anyone doing youth ministry, if you're not regularly using his website, www.thesource4ym.com, you are seriously missing out on a ton of free resources, ideas, games, training, and a lot more.


12.20.2008

E Coli in Dixon

We're having an e coli scare in Dixon right now. A 16 year old boy was killed by it yesterday. This boy was a close friends of several of our Living Hope teens. As of this point it's unclear where the boy came in contact with the e coli. A couple of our youth workers and I spent the better part of the day the other day crying and praying with our teens. They're taking this pretty hard. I believe this is the 3rd Dixon High death in one semester. Please pray for Dixon's teens.

Here's a link to a KCRA news video about the story. Living Hope teen, Breighton Alesna-Gladisch, is interviewed in it.

12.19.2008

I Love Leaders!

I really do love leaders! I love men and women who will step up and lead others even if they don't feel qualified or capable. I believe God uses our willingness more than our qualifications, and our humility more than our capability. When ordinary people step up and offer themselves unselfishly, God is often able to use them to accomplish extraordinary things. It takes guts to be a leader. A leader might get their fair share of praise, but it's not easy to stick your neck out and be the lightning rod for all criticism and complaints. To be a Godly leader is to be a servant. Anybody who believes that church leaders are doing it for the recognition or the "power", have no idea what it means to be a leader.

I say all of this because I am blessed to be surrounded by extraordinary leaders here at Living Hope Church. Leaders who do what they do because they love Jesus and they love the people that have been entrusted to their care. Tonight I had the honor to thank them at our Leadership Christmas Party. I have to admit, I've honestly been looking forward to this party since last Spring. I love investing in leaders. I love encouraging leaders. I love loving on leaders.

Pastors, love on your leaders. Leaders, invest into those who don't yet know they're leaders. Church, pray for your leaders non-stop.

12.16.2008

God-ordained Meetings

I love it when I'm surprised by a God-ordained meeting. I met a new Living Hoper for breakfast this morning and, what I thought was going to be great eggs, turned into so much more.

Last night I was laying in bed planning what I would order at Denny's - 3 eggs over-easy, wheat toast, oatmeal. For some reason that sounded really good to me. I could hardly wait. When I got there this morning, I ordered it (upgraded to 4 eggs). Couldn't wait to dig in!

We were joined by another person who is going through some serious hurt in his life right now. The food I got from talking to these guys and sharing some encouragement with them was far tastier than the eggs (and they were pretty darn tasty).

I love it when God turns the ordinary into something extraordinary!

12.15.2008

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

This weekend was all about our kids Christmas program. And they did a wonderful job. They performed "The Fear Not Factor" (special thanks to Linda Vannoy at Bay Hills Church for loaning us the program - saved us a good amount of change). I was honestly blown away by the talented kids we have at Living Hope. We seriously have some great little singers. We've already started throwing the idea around of using them in regular worship services occasionally. Anyway it was wonderful. Big HUGS to my wife, Jamie, for directing the program. I'm so blessed to have her as a wife and partner in ministry!

Our attendance really spiked yesterday, too. Of course that's to be expected when the kids are doing their thing. When I was welcoming everyone, I joked that I was glad word had finally gotten out to the community of how great my preaching was - it got a good laugh.

From a leadership standpoint, I don't think many pastors realize how important those "big days" are. They're HUGE for building momentum and for the morale of the church. Doing special things for Easter, Christmas, Friend Day, community outreach events, etc... require A LOT of extra work, but it's totally worth it. Anytime you can give a clear gospel message to a larger-than-average crowd, it's worth the extra time and money!

12.12.2008

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Jamie and I saw The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tonight at the Varsity Theatre in Davis.  First of all, this was my first experience at the Varsity. It's a great old theatre with very comfy seats!

The movie was wonderful. It was a hard story to watch but one I'm glad I went to see. It tells the story of a boy whose father is an SS soldier in charge of a concentration camp and his friendship with a Jewish boy in his father's camp. It really does a great job of painting a picture of who the Germans were I think. That's the most fascinating thing to me about Nazi Germany. This wasn't so much a nation of evil people, but a nation of patriotic people who were duped into believing their evil actions were in the best interest of their nation. Hitler didn't appeal to their sinful nature; he appealed to their sense of patriotism.

Anyway, this movie is definitely worth seeing if you get the chance.

Anticipation vs. Distraction

I have noticed a growing sense of anticipation in me lately. It's an anticipation of life-change. I love changed lives! It's why I do what I do. There's nothing like seeing God get a hold of someone's life, transform it, and use it in ways that person never knew they were capable of.

I have to admit, this sense of anticipation, or heart for those without Christ, is something that is not always as strong as it needs to be. I feel very much in tune with God, when my mind is obsessed with reaching lost souls. But there are seasons when I'm focused more on the mechanics of church instead of the mission of church. It's a constant battle. And honestly, I think it's one of Satan's biggest weapons against church leaders. If he can get us focused on the minutia and the "urgent" things, rather that the truly important things, he dupes us into believing we're "about our Father's business."

Satan doesn't have to turn us into evil sinners. He only needs to turn us into Martha's. Distracting us does just as much damage to the Kingdom as major moral failure.

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named  Martha  welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called  Mary, who  sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are  anxious and troubled about many things,  but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

12.09.2008

I LOVE MY CHURCH!


I had such a great night last night meeting with various Living Hopers.  

We have such a great elder board.  I'm consistently blown away by the spiritual maturity of these guys.  They love Jesus and love our church and want to serve Christ by serving Living Hope.  There are no power plays, no petty arguments.  We may occasionally have differing points of view, but we hear each other out and come to a consensus.  They have a strong commitment to protecting the truth of the gospel.  In short, they're men of integrity and it's an honor serving as an elder with them.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to do a little dreaming with another LHC member.  Some really cool ideas came to the table that got my wheels to spinning in exciting directions.  I don't know if anything will come out of it, but I'll definitely continue praying and dreaming.  I'm so thankful for optimistic, artistic, innovative people! They're few and far between, but an absolute joy to be around. I need to expose myself to such people more often.

Last night I also heard an incredible story.  We recently participated in Operation Christmas Child as a church.  We were able to send out over 100 shoebox gifts to needy children!  There was a small group of LHC teen girls who wanted to put together some shoeboxes, too.  After talking to their parents about it, they were told by their parents that because the family finances were so tight, they wouldn't be able to help them buy the gifts.  Amazingly, this didn't stop these girls.  They took it upon themselves to do yardwork and housework for their neighbors and raise up enough money to make sure a needy child in some remote corner of the world would have a merry Christmas!  HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?

I LOVE MY CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!

12.08.2008

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I enjoyed this weekend alot.
  • Friday we took the kids to tour the state capitol building in Sacramento.  Very cool.  We also had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Had an extremely overpriced sandwich but got to sit next to Buddy Holly's suit from his 1957 tour.
  • Friday night we got to watch the Dixon Rams football team play in round 2 of the playoffs.  Unfortunately they lost, but played a truly great game.  Earlier that day our church hosted the team for breakfast.  About 25 of the guys showed up and we had a great breakfast. About 65 guys total!
  • Saturday was pretty much about friends and football.  Met a bunch of friends at the Cliatt's house in Brentwood for a Melissa's birthday.  Also got to see OU slaughter Mizzou.  Boomer Sooner, baby!
  • We had a great service yesterday at LHC.  The worship team was incredible - really lead us to the Throne.  I preached about how Jesus said he came not to bring peace, but a sword, division, and fire.  Hard message to deliver and hear, but important.  I hope I have a church next week...
  • Great LifeGroup last night!  After, Jamie and I cashed in a gift certificate at Caffe Italia in Davis.  Tasty grub!

12.04.2008

LHC Video Blog - 12/4

Twitter

I finally gave in and am giving Twitter a try.  Not sure if I'll enjoy it or not, but you can follow me on twitter at "pastorjeffmyers".

Should

Today I remembered a home-made sign that used to hang in my office years ago.  I can't remember where I initially heard the phrase, but I loved it so much I had to make a sign.  It simply read:

TODAY I PROMISE NOT TO SHOULD ALL OVER MYSELF!

"Should" is an easy trap to fall into.  We can exert so much time and energy into fretting about our mistakes and failures.  On a small, everyday mistake level, this just causes us to worry, waste time, and drive everyone around us a little crazy.  On a larger, more eternal scale, God has put our past sins behind Him, so we should feel the freedom to put them behind us as well.

Don't live in the past.  Learn from your mistakes, but move past them.  I'm reminded of the lyrics of an old Steven Curtis Chapman song - "Remember your chains, but remember your chains are gone!"

12.03.2008

The One I Couldn't Shake

Oh man!  These passages rocked my world today.  Especially the part about Hezekiah pulverizing the bronze serpent that Moses had made.  How often do we let good, even God-given, things become obstacles to God's work?  We should be constantly vigilant against turning gifts into idols.  It's a bit of a lengthy read, but worth every second of your time.  I've posted links to The Message, because that's the version I read today and it was awesome!

12.01.2008

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

My wi-fi has been down since Thursday.  So I got to take a little internet fast for the past several days.  Praise God it's back up and running now.  I would seriously rather be without TV than internet!
  • Thanksgiving was great!  It was nice to have a house full of friends and food.  But the wi-fi went down and ruined the whole day!  ;-)
  • Friday I spent several hours on the phone with 3 different unhelpful tech support people from AT&T.  Two of them spent 30 minutes each on the phone with me before "accidentally" hanging up on me.  The third one I couldn't understand and had to ask her to repeat herself slowly 2-3 times every time she said anything.  They finally decided to send a guy to the house today.  He was quite helpful and a really nice guy.
  • Sunday's worship gathering was great.  The greatest thing was seeing a new soul come to Jesus!  That will never get old.  My sermon was about Jesus' repeated claims that he came from the Father.  I struggled all week on how to approach these texts, then it finally dawned on me that this was, plain and simple, about the love of God.  The extreme measures he took to bridge the gap between us and Him is unfathomable!
  • Great LifeGroup sunday night.  We looked at the synagogue and rabbinic traditions of the Jews in the time of Jesus.  I love learning more about that stuff, it always reveals new layers of truth that we don't immediately get because of our Western thinking.
  • I'm looking forward to next Sunday's sermon.  We'll be looking at how Jesus said he came not to bring peace, but the sword and to turn us against our families and such.  Can't wait!

11.27.2008

Thanks!

I am so thankful.
  • For my family that means the world to me.  I can't believe I've been blessed with such a beautiful and gifted wife, 3 kids that amaze me and crack me up, and a pup that exerts more energy in 5 seconds than I will in a lifetime.
  • For my extended family scattered all over the country.  I miss you all and look forward to seeing you after Christmas!
  • For my church family.  We're praising together, praying together, in the trenches together, and building His beautiful Kingdom together.  I love you all!
  • For friends near and far.  Some we've experienced life together with. Some we have the internet as our only connection.  I truly enjoy the company of all my friends.
  • For stuff.  I've got so much freakin' stuff that I don't deserve.
  • For my calling. I pray my commitment to my Holy Father who called me will always outweigh all the jerks, frustrations, pride, and whatever else that tries to discourage me from my service to Him.
  • For the smell of turkey and dressing wafting through my house right now.  Awesome!

11.26.2008

Generation WE

I saw this video today on the CataBlog. Check it out.



Generation WE: The Movement Begins... from Generation We on Vimeo.

Living Hope, in case you're wondering, THIS IS OUR MISSION FIELD.  This is who we are going to be constantly targeting as a church.  This is not only the largest demographic in the US, it's the largest unchurched demographic in the US.  To ignore these young adults and those coming behind them is to be short-sighted and selfish.  It would be the signing of the death certificate of the future of the church in America.  Programming/preaching to meet the needs of Generation WE is not just a church growth tactic, it is the heart of God - to seek and save the lost.

Put aside the message of the video temporarily and SEE the faces.  If a good-sized portion of our church doesn't look like this, then we're failing.

11.25.2008

Twilight

Mollie and I had a Daddy/Daughter date night last night.  She wanted to see Twilight, so that's what we did.  It was pretty good in a teen angst sort of way.  Even though it's a vampire story, it's much more of a teen romance than a horror film.  The whole film looked like an Abercrombie & Fitch ad.  Lots of beautiful, skinny, pale, frowning teens.  Teens I'm sure will love this movie. Adults will be OK with it.  One annoying thing was watching it with a bunch giggling fans of the books (which Mollie and I hadn't read). They kept laughing at all these things that weren't funny at all.  It was obvious they were in the know about things that we weren't.  Even Mollie said she got annoyed by it.

One kind of cool aspect of this film is that in a weird sort of way the story promotes abstinence.  A human girl falls in love with the vampire boy.  Because of his "blood-thirst" they have to be very careful about how close they get.  Interesting little side-theme.

11.24.2008

LHC: Rams Playoff Update

To all Living Hopers:

The judge has ruled on the ineligible player issue that was holding up the playoffs.  Placer will play Oakdale this Friday (11/28).  Dixon will play the winner of that game on the following Friday (12/5) at Dixon at 7:30 pm.

Here's the deal.  I want to see a big ol' Living Hope dogpound at the game on 12/5!  So break out your coats, gloves, blankets - make signs - bring noisemakers.  Let's have a big show of support for our boys.  Let 'em know Living Hope is proud of them!!!  (If they win this game, they play in the Div IV Championship Game.)

11.23.2008

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Wow! Another great weekend.
  • Friday I got to play a round of golf with my friend Roger.  We couldn't have had a more beautiful day - 65 degrees, slight breeze, clear skies...AWESOME!  If only my game would have been as beautiful.  Shot a 110...ouch!
  • Friday night did the team chaplain thing for the Dixon Rams football team at the first round of playoff play.  Coach Winslow gave me my very own staff jacket with my name and "Team Chaplain" embroidered on it.  Very cool!  The team won their game. Now they're headed to the second round...can't wait!
  • Saturday was a very restful day. I needed it. Thoroughly enjoyed watching my OU Sooners lay the smack down on Texas Tech.
  • Great service at church today.  We talked about what to do when you're stressed, depressed, or experiencing burnout.  It seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people.
  • I enjoyed our LifeGroup tonight, too.  We going through one of the Ray Vanderlaan video series - That the World May Know.  His stuff is so great...very insightful and challenging.
  • I'm really looking forward to a big ol' Thanksgiving feast Thursday.  My wife throws down on the holidays.  Looking forward to having friends over to the house.
  • Also can't wait to start advent next Sunday.  Emmanuel...God is HERE!!!

11.22.2008

The 41% Nobody Cares About

I read a startling statistic yesterday. 41% of all adults in the United States are single (unmarried). 41%!!! Does that surprise anyone else? The reason this hit me so hard is that the vast majority of churches are doing nothing to address the needs of 41% of the adult population. Almost everything we do in terms of preaching and programming is targeted toward young families. One might argue, "Well almost all the adults in my church are 'family' adults. That's why we program/preach that way." But the truth is you attract what you're programming/preaching toward. If we want to attract this 41% of the population, then we need to adjust our approach. I'm not suggesting we swing so far to the other side that we alienate families.  However, pastors, do your sermons at least contain occasional points or challenges directed at singles? Have you started small groups meant for singles or young adults?

If we found out that 41% of teens were skateboarders, we'd build ramps next week.  If we discovered that 41% of kids loved pirates, we'd have our children's workers sporting eye patches soon.  If we found out that 41% of adults were going crazy for brussel sprouts, we'd add them to our donut table.

Do you care about 41% of the population? If so what are you doing to prove it?

11.19.2008

Sin Boldly (FOR FREE!)

Here's another great freebee.  This book is getting a lot of great buzz right now.  It's called Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace by Cathleen Falsani.  You can download the audio book here for free on the Zondervan website (for a limited time).  This book currently has nothing but 5-star reviews on Amazon.  I'll be listening to it soon.  If you take a listen, let me know what you think of it.

11.17.2008

I CAN'T WAIT!!

Freedom in an Empty Inbox

I do a lot of communication through email.  My email inbox tends to double as a "to-do list".  If someone approaches me at church with an idea or task, I always tell them to shoot me an email because it's the only way I won't forget.  When my inbox is cluttered, my life tends to feel a little cluttered.  This is just one of my nastiest demons rearing his ugly head in my life - his name is Procrastination.

I don't know if any of you struggle with procrastination, but it's a constant battle for me.  I tend to run in cycles.  I'll be super-organized and on top of things for a while.  Then I end up putting off one or two tasks that I'm less than excited about. Then a few tasks snowball into several.  I get stressed and overwhelmed.  Then I get motivated, tackle all my less-than-exciting tasks, and enter back into the peace of organization.

I bought a "leadership-type" book 4 years ago called Eat That Frog.  It's a book about overcoming procrastination.  I keep putting off reading it.  I think I'll start it today...later.

Today my inbox is empty.  Today is a good day.

11.16.2008

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Another fun weekend!
  • Friday night I drove to Sacramento with Isaiah to see our Dixon Rams open up a can on Foothill.  Dixon starts the playoffs next Friday night and has home field advantage.  Awesome!  I love having a small role in this team as team chaplain.  Great team, great coaches!
  • Watched Baby Mama Friday night.  Not really that funny.  If you've seen the commercials, you've seen all the funniest bits.
  • Got up early Saturday to drive Mollie to her tennis lesson.  I love that she's learning and enjoying tennis.  She's cute with her pink racket!
  • Saw some 007 with Isaiah Saturday afternoon. I love that boy so much!
  • Isla entertained the family Saturday evening by baby-talking quite loudly and spinning in circles until she got dizzy and fell down...for 30 minutes straight!  She also heard Isaiah doing his imitation of Gordon Ramsey and walked around the room saying "Beep, beep, beep, beep..."  She's a hoot!
  • Church was great Sunday morning!  Rob and the worship team knocked it out of the park.  They seriously sound better and better every week.  Big highlight: one of our teens, Dakota, did some serious shredding on the electric guitar.
  • Phil Lockwood preached today and did a great job, too.  He preached from Mark 2 where the paralyzed man is lowered through the roof and Jesus heals him.  Phil reminded us that sometimes we're on the sickbed and sometimes we're the ones holding the ropes for other people.  Good stuff!
  • Lunch Sunday with the Suttons at Bud's.  Great company and a great BLT!
  • I love Living Hope Church so much!  I can't wait for Advent.  This year we're turning our advent into and ADVENTure!

11.15.2008

Quantum of Solace

I took Isaiah and one of his friends to see the new James Bond movie today. Quantum of Solace picks up right where Casino Royale left off.  I think I may have enjoyed this movie a little more than the last one.  But only because this one had a bit more action in it (because CR had that long stretch of poker play).  They're both great movies.  I think Daniel Craig makes a great James Bond.  Go see it if you like that sort of thing (if not, I'm sure you'll enjoy High School Musical 3 or some other lame movie).  ;-)

11.14.2008

Don't Take Your Kids to Nebraska

This story is unbelievable!  I just saw this on CNN.  Nebraska has a new 'safe haven' law that was designed for people to drop off unwanted newborns at area hospitals without fear of legal recourse.  So far, no infants have been dropped off and the majority have been kids over 10.  People are literally coming in from across the country to dump their teens in Nebraska.  You can't tell me our nation doesn't have a sickness.


Giving Poll

Please participate in the new poll located at the top of the sidebar to the right.  I'm curious how (or if) the economy is affecting your personal giving at your local church.  Your response is completely anonymous so be truthful.  Poll is open for 1 week.  (By the way, Living Hope's giving has seen a decent increase in the past 2 months.  But that's because Living Hopers ROCK!)

I was somewhat surprised at the results of the previous poll about creation.  Almost 1/3 of the responding Christians stated that they believed God used evolution in His creative process.  I bet that's a significant increase from even 10 years ago.  (Of course there's nothing scientific about my little blog poll, but still...)

11.13.2008

Extreme "Temple" Makeover

In the interest of continuing this theme of changes to our family, I'll share some news I received a couple of weeks ago.  I got a call from my doctor's office informing me that I'm diabetic.  I was not expecting that one.  My triglycerides are quite high as well, so I've started a new regimen of drugs, diet, and exercise.  I've been losing some weight since we moved to Dixon (about 11 lbs. so far), but it's just been slow-going from minor diet changes.  Time to get serious! 

This news honestly had me down a bit, but I'm grateful I've found out before too much damage was done and there's still time to reverse this trend in my health.  I want to be around for a many more years for my family, my church, and just to see some personal goals come to fruition.  Pray for me that this news will be the kick-in-the-pants that I needed to get back on track.  I believe it's important to have some level of discipline in all areas of your life.  Taking care of "my temple" is the one area of my life that I have definitely been undisciplined and, honestly, sinful.  Hopefully this marks the end of that chapter of my life!

11.12.2008

Homeschooling

Jamie and I recently made the decision to start homeschooling Mollie and Isaiah. We have always been big supporters of public schools and have always had good experiences.  However, this year we've noticed a change in our kids and were not satisfied that the learning environments they were in were best for them.  There were issues academically and emotionally that had us concerned, so we felt it was time to circle the wagons and take a more hands-on approach. So far we're pleased with the results and Jamie is doing a great job teaching the kids.

I know many people choose home school or private schools for different reasons.  Some want to protect their children from negative influences. Some want to expose their children to a strong Christian education. Some just have no faith in the public school system.  For us, it was an academic decision.  We hope someday in the future our children will re-enter the public school system, but for now we all believe this is the best decision for them.

The reason I love public schools so much, is that they are one of the biggest domestic mission fields. I've always been proud of my kids for understanding that, too.  Everywhere we've lived (including here in Dixon) our kids have brought unchurched friends (and their parents) into our churches.  We've always tried to let our kids know that they have an important role in my calling as a pastor.  When God sends me to a church, He is also sending our family to a city that He wants us ALL to reach.

Pray for our family as we make this transition.

11.11.2008

Thinking Outside the Church

I love Living Hope Church! One of the biggest reasons I love our church is because we have a true sense that Living Hope is people...not buildings.  Of course, it's easy to feel that way when you're a church without a building.  But even still, we're very healthy that way.

However, there are big disadvantages to not having a building - especially in Dixon.  Honestly, we're really under-developed for a town of 18,000.  As such, we are EXTREMELY limited in options of places to meet here in town.  We currently meet in the multi-purpose room of an elementary school.  We are limited to one extra classroom for KidzChurch and as of the last few weeks, our nursery is on the stage of the multi-purpose room behind a heavy curtain.  We're down to one decent option of a different place to hold services (at another elementary school).

So I've been trying lately to "thing outside the box" or "church" in this case.  What are some worship gathering locations that I might be overlooking?  Our town doesn't have a movie theater, a YMCA, or a big community center.  We don't even have a big bar or dance hall!  I'm concerned about what happens if all our options within the school district become exhausted.  There are not a lot of other large spaces in town.

I write this because I'm wondering if anybody out in the blogosphere has heard of any other "non-traditional" locations for churches to meet.  I'm open to anything (except the inflatable church pictured above). Let me hear your ideas!

11.09.2008

Phone Pics...Finally

I finally got a USB cable for my cell phone.  So here are some of the pics I've been collecting over the last several months that were stuck on my phone.










Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Great weekend! God is SO good!
  • Friday night I got to go pray with the Dixon Rams football team and watch them crush West Campus.  There's a good chance our boys are headed to the play-offs!
  • Saturday we took a family trip to the Fairfield Mall.  While we were there we got word that one of our Living Hope families was going in for a sort of emergency C-section. So we headed to Sacramento to the UC Davis Medical Center and got to welcome a new Living Hoper into the world!  His name is Nolan and he weighs about 3 lbs.  All things considered he's in good health, but say a quick prayer for him anyway.  I don't think I'll ever be able to pray over a newborn and not get teary.  I love being a pastor!
  • Today's worship service was great.  We had 137 for attendance (a great number for us!) and I really enjoyed preaching about the importance of the Text in our lives.  We see so many new faces every week. It's exciting times right now!

11.08.2008

The Nightmare Before Christmas, 3-D

For Isaiah's birthday he just wanted to invite some friends out for dinner and a movie.  He wanted to go see Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D.  So that's what we did.

I have loved this movie for years.  I believe it was released in the early 90s and the animation was ground-breaking at the time, and still is in my opinion.  It's dark and creepy, funny, the music is GREAT...it's just an all-around great movie.  I've always regretted never seeing it on the big screen, though. So I was really excited about Isaiah's pick.

I wasn't disappointed.  I've seen this movie probably a hundred times, but it was like I was watching something completely different.  I think part of it was the big screen experience, but the 3-D changed everything!  The 3-D was really incredible.  The movie had so much depth.  I will say that it wasn't the greatest 3-D I've ever seen.  Today's 3-D IMAX experiences are truly a thing to behold.  The images literally come out of the screen and feel like they're right at your neck.  The 3-D in Nightmare never really jumped off the screen. Instead it felt more like looking through a window.  But it was beautiful nonetheless.  There was even depth to the lines and creases on the character's faces.  It was great!  Check it out if you get the chance.

11.07.2008

What if Starbucks Marketed Like the Church?

Oh my...this is SOOO good! Obviously there are breakdowns in the analogy, but I love this!

The American Heresy - Prosperity Gospel, Part 2

I want to discuss the flip side of this issue now. What should be your attitude/actions if you DO have wealth, nice things, great opportunities, and/or good health?

If you have been so blessed, many Christians' natural response is guilt. I don't believe this needs to be the case. If God has blessed you beyond what you deserve, you don't need to live in guilt. But I believe you do need to live with an overwhelming sense of responsibility. The answer to your question of "Why has God blessed me so much?" is "So that you can bless others."

The verse I quoted in the last post that spoke of the godliness that comes from contentment, is one of the truest marks of a mature Christian. Can you be content? I encourage everyone to have a tough conversation with their spouses or family members and ask "At what standard of living can we be content?" I'm not going to tell you the answer to that question, but I want to encourage you to come to a decision and stick with it. What size of house can we be content with? What type of car can I be content to drive? What amount of money can I be content to live off of?

When you come to the answers to these questions, something incredible can happen! If you make a conscious choice to live at that standard, you set yourself up for greater giving. When promotions and raises or higher paying jobs come your way, instead of increasing your standard of living, you are able to increase your standard of giving. It's not a sin to be rich, but it is a sin to be rich and not live with an awareness of why God has blessed you.

How many of you living on a meager wage have thought, "If I was making as much as so-and-so, I'd be living on easy street and there's no way I would complain about my finances the way they do. They don't know how good they have it."? But I guarantee you somebody somewhere is thinking the same thing about you! This is what happens when we don't seek contentment and raise our standard of living with every promotion/raise. It's the sickness of the American Dream - enough is NEVER enough.

I want to encourage you to let go of the American Dream and start dreaming the Kingdom Dream! The Kingdom Dream is a dream of God's people not living in financial bondage, content in the sufficiency of Jesus instead of the sufficiency of stuff, and giving from the overflow of God's blessings.

We are literally blessed among the nations. Don't squander it. Don't allow greed and covetousness to overcome you and warp your view of how blessed you are. Go make as much money as you possibly can, and give away as much money as you possibly can!

11.06.2008

Acapella Star Wars/John Williams Tribute

This is absolutely incredible.  And this guy has far too much time on his hands.


The American Heresy - Prosperity Gospel

I want to address something that I've been getting a lot of questions about recently. Does God want me to be rich or have nice things?

The New Testament writers spend a great deal of time addressing the heresy of legalism and gnosticism because those were the primary heresies of their day. Incidentally they were heresies that arose within the church.  The big heresy that today's American church needs to teach against and guard itself against is "prosperity gospel".  A heresy that has also arisen from within the American church.

Prosperity gospel teaches that it is God's will for you to have wealth and to bless you with all the desires of your heart.  God desires for us to be happy.  Big houses, nice cars, promotions, trips, and other such things will make us happy.  Therefore, God's will is for us to have all those things. All we need to do is have faith that God will bless us materialistically, name those things or list those things we desire, focus our prayers and positive affirmations on those things, and wait for God to give them to us. They proof-text and use verses such as Deuteronomy 8:18, Malachi 3:10, John 10:10, and 3 John 2-4 to support their claims.

This all sounds really good and fires us up to claim God's "promises" for ourselves and get in on some of the "available wealth" that we can have if only "our faith is strong enough" or we "want it bad enough".  There's just a couple of problems I have with this line of thought.

1) The USA is not the only country with Christians on the planet.  There are Christians all over our world (many with much stronger faith than we'll ever have) who live in places where the whole concept of prosperity gospel is completely and utterly ridiculous.  There are completely sold-out disciples of Jesus Christ that live in an environment of poverty where the most prosperity they could possibly hope for is "give us this day our daily bread".  They could claim blessings and write lists until their pens ran out of ink and most likely will still die never having owned a car, slept in a comfortable bed, lived in a house with air conditioning, made more money in a year than we make in a week, vacationed in Europe, or even had the luxury of indoor plumbing.  My point is this false "gospel" can only be a reality in the U.S. or a few other developed countries.  So if it is not a gospel for everyone, then it is no gospel at all.

2) I've read the rest of the Bible. Does God bless some with wealth and cool experiences? Sure. He also curses some with wealth and cool experiences. To read the Bible and come to a belief that prosperity theology is accurate is to only read the parts of the Bible that tickle your ears and your greed. Try these verses on for size:
  • 1 Timothy 6:3-10(ESV) - If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and depraved of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (emphasis mine)
  • And check out these passages: Matthew 6:19-24, Luke 16:13, Luke 18:22-25, 1 John 2:15, Matthew 19:21
3) This kind of teaching turns God into some kind of genie in a bottle.  Prosperity gospel is so "me-centered", but the Bible is clear that we are to be "God-centered".  It's not about us, not even a little bit. The purpose of our lives is to GLORIFY GOD! Prosperity theology says just the opposite; that the purpose of a relationship with God is for Him to bless us.  This is wrong and honestly, just sick. If you're serving God to see what you can get out of Him, you have to be one of the most self-centered, ungrateful, disgusting people to ever walk the planet. Seriously! Think about it - God sent his only, beloved, special Son to this planet for the primary purpose of dying a horrific, painful, humiliating death. He did this because He loves you so much that He didn't want you to have to go through that punishment.  Through that ultimate, incomprehensible act of love He has erased your sin record and taken the penalty of that sin upon Himself.  But He didn't stop there! He sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of us so that we can be guided to righteousness and feel His presence and love. But He didn't stop there either! He is currently preparing an eternal home for us where we WILL experience eternal prosperity and truly live in His presence!  ...and some of us have the attitude of "Well, that's great and all, but really God, I need to be driving a HUMMER."  Give me a freakin' break!!!

Properity gospel is not just mis-leading and inaccurate...it's disgusting and evil.

(to be continued tomorrow...)

11.04.2008

I Choose Gratitude

I choose gratitude!

I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to take part in the process of choosing my nation's and community's leaders today instead of having a war-mongering dictator thrust upon me.

I'm so grateful that the democratic process is alive and well...whatever the outcome.

I'm so grateful that my children are growing up in a country where an African-American (or anyone else) can achieve the highest office in our land.

I'm so grateful for those who have sacrificed to secure the rights I have in this country.

I'm so grateful that even in a tough economy we are still blessed beyond what we deserve.

I'm so grateful that I was able to have a prayer meeting in my home tonight without fear of soldiers/police busting down my door and arresting me (or worse).

I'm so grateful that our new president says he has placed his faith in Jesus Christ and I commit to praying daily that the Holy Spirit will guide his policies, decisions, and future spiritual growth.

I'm so grateful that I did not hear the phrase "hanging chad" even once tonight.

------------

Father,
Guide our new leaders. Surround them with capable advisors and people who will point them toward You. Use our new leaders to bring your Kingdom into its fullness. Father, if it is in Your will continue to provide the religious freedom we enjoy in this country. But if You would be greater glorified by us losing that freedom then Your will be done. Father, I pray especially for President Obama - protect him, guide him, use him, and draw him closer to You. I pledge my allegiance to You as my King and to Your Kingdom. In Jesus name...Amen.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I'm really looking forward to seeing this new film.  I think it could be a great tool in teaching young people about good/evil, the horrors and complexity of war, and probably a dozen other moral/ethical issues.


11.03.2008

NoiseTrade.com

How about some more FREE stuff? Check out NoiseTrade! Lots of Indie albums (many Christian). There are two download options. You can either choose to pay whatever you want or tell 5 friends about NT and download for free. There are some really good artists on there. I loved the one below!


Free Starbucks for Voting

Don't know if you've seen this, but you know how I love free stuff...


Monday Morning Quarterbacking

This has been one of the most difficult but rewarding and blessed weekends in recent memory.  I'll choose to focus on the highlights here:
  • Trick-or-treating with Isla was a hoot.  She dressed like Elmo.  It was cute watching her walk up to the doors and say "Teet!"  She did fine until Jamie let her taste a piece of chocolate.  Then she didn't want to knock on any more doors - she just wanted to eat.
  • This was the first wet weekend of the rainy season.  I was totally digging listening to the rain.
  • We took a 24 hour mini-vacation this weekend and drove to Santa Cruz.  Even though it was rainy, we stayed in a great hotel right on the beach.  Our room had the most incredible view of the ocean (which Isla informed us about 100 times was "cool").  Saturday night Jamie and I spent a little time in the hot tub outside in the rain.  We were nice and toasty from the neck down, but our heads were pelted with rain.  It was nice, though.
  • We watched three movies this weekend.  I Am Legend, Kung Fu Panda, and The Happening.  I really enjoyed them all.
  • Sunday morning we were excited to worship at the Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz.  Vintage Faith is Dan Kimball's church.  Dan wrote The Emerging Church and They Like Jesus But Not the Church.  He wasn't there but the service was great.  VFC is a very interesting, cool, and eclectic community.  I love the way they really have their finger on the pulse of Santa Cruz. It was also great showing up to church and not worrying about having to make anything happen.  But I'm ready to get back to it!

10.30.2008

Creation Question?

I'd like to ask everyone who reads this to take a second and participate in the poll on the sidebar of this page.  Your response is anonymous.  I'm curious about the result for a sermon I plan on preaching after the new year about creation.  Thanks for your help.

10.28.2008

How Would Jesus Vote?

I have been asked to review this book by Random House.  How Would Jesus Vote? is a new book by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe.  I have to say I did not care for this book and would not recommend it.  This book and others like it are the reason why the church has earned the reputation of being a mouthpiece for the Republican Party.

I'm not saying I disagreed with many of the conclusions of this book.  In fact, quite the contrary.  The authors use most of the book to address how Jesus would vote on issues like abortion, stem cell research, immigration, healthcare, education, war, death penalty, the economy, the environment, marriage, activist judges, etc...  The fact is that on many of these chapters I pretty much agreed with the conclusion of the authors and I appreciated many of the Scripture references used to support their arguments.  But...

And it's a big but.  In the beginning of this book the authors ask the question, "So can anyone be so bold as to say how Jesus would vote? I think the answer is yes."  They then spent the rest of the book enlightening us on how Jesus would vote on the aforementioned issues. 

What? Are you kidding me? Do you really believe you can search out the Scriptures and come to a definitive answer to the question of how Jesus would vote on health care, education, war, and the economy? And do you really believe he would vote the Republican agenda 100% of the time?  Because apparently D. James Kennedy does.

Again, I'm not anti-Republican. I'm an Independent who often votes for Republican candidates and "Republican issues".  But even if you bleed elephants when you're cut, you have to admit that's a pretty bold and ridiculous statement.

There are definitely issues that you could be pretty confident how Jesus would vote on.  But I wish Christians would realize that some issues aren't immoral.  They're just about what kind of country you prefer to live in.  We need to learn to voice our preferences without turning Jesus into a political pundit.
-------------------------
On a related matter, we do have an important election coming up next week.  Christians, you need to take a little time to get online and research all the candidates and issues you'll be asked to vote on in your area.  Too much is at stake this year to either approach the voting booth casually or to not vote at all.  Vote informed and vote prayerfully!

Kung-Fu Baby

10.27.2008

LHC Video Blog - 10/27

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Here's the weekend that was:
  • It was a very busy weekend for us.  Last night after the kids went to bed, Jamie and I were talking and commented on the fact that it felt like we hadn't hardly communicated or taken the time for a quick kiss in several days.
  • Mollie and Isaiah performed in a play this weekend - Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  They had performances Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, and two performances Sunday afternoon.  They both did a GREAT job!
  • Saturday we had a church work day.  We needed to vacate a building downtown that was formerly used as a teen center/office.  It may sound silly, but I stressed about this work day all week.  You never know who is going to show up and I was worried we wouldn't have enough help because it was a pretty big job.  I was so thankful that 15-20 people showed up and we were able to complete the job in about 4 hrs.  Thanks so much to everyone who lent a hand.  It felt good to get it done and I enjoyed the time with everyone!
  • We had another great day at church yesterday.  Several new faces, worship was great, and the sermon seemed to be well-received.  I used the sermon to answer questions people had submitted about relationships, sex, divorce, and such.  I thoroughly enjoyed our GODLOVESEX series!  Song of Solomon is such a great book.  I think I like it primarily because there's nothing else like it in the Bible.
  • LHC took the time to recognize me for Pastor Appreciation Month yesterday.  The elders said some nice things about me and presented me with a gift.  It was really nice!  It's always great to be appreciated/encouraged, but as I told them yesterday, I still feel like LHC is a bigger blessing to me than I am to them.  Living Hope, you guys are a GREAT church!!! I look forward to the many, many great things that God will do in us and through us!
  • We showed up yesterday afternoon at Mollie & Isaiah's final performance.  Normally I bring flowers to Mollie when she performs in something.  We were in a bit of a rush yesterday, so we stopped and got them both chocolates instead. When we got there, Jamie went backstage to give something to the kids and found out that some skinny punk had given Mollie flowers after the previous performance!  Oh, no no no no!  There was no way I was going to be shown up by a 6th grader!!!  I left during the performance and went to purchase a dozen pink roses.  They were awesome. Mollie really liked them, but I think she may have liked the two puny hand-picked flowers wrapped in a paper towel from the skinny punk a little better.  I'm not ready for this!  I hope she never dates any rich boys, or I'll go broke trying to keep up!

10.24.2008

Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us (FOR FREE!)

Seth Godin has a new book out called Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Seth is a marketing guru and popular blogger. You can link to his blog from my blogroll on the sidebar. He is also the author of The Purple Cow, The Dip, Meatball Sundae and several other books.

I wanted to pass this along...you can download the unabridged audio book read by Seth for FREE here.  There is no purchase necessary. You only need to sign up for an Audible account. Super easy.

I've listened to about 30 minutes of it so far and it's good stuff!  I LOVE FREE STUFF!!!

10.22.2008

LHC Video Blog - 10/22

Little Flock

I am so excited about our church's upcoming mission trip.  In October of 2009 we will go to Hanumanthapuram, India to work at the Little Flock Children's Home for 2 weeks.  I love this organization and their heart for "the least of these" in the Kingdom.

If you're a Living Hoper, I want to challenge you to commit this to prayer and see if God is calling you to be a Living Hope short-term missionary next year.  I promise you two things.  1) If God is calling you, he will make a way for you to go.  2) If you go, your life will be forever changed!

Check out this great Little Flock video.


10.19.2008

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Here's the weekend that was:
  • Friday I had a lot of work to get done so I could get out of town for our men's retreat.  Most of it got pushed back because Isla woke up and snapped Jamie glasses in half.  Jamie decided she couldn't be trusted to pick out a new pair on her own, so I got to spend a big chunk of the day at LensCrafters helping her pick out new frames (and watching Isla while she was with the optometrist.  She got a great pair, though, and I got to have lunch at Chick-Fil-A!
  • Headed west for the men's retreat at Alliance Redwoods Campground.  Got about 20 miles down the road and realized I forgot to bring any bedding or towels.  Stopped at a Target and picked up a $15 set of purple twin sheets that Mollie could use later, a $5 pillow, and a $3 towel and got back on the road.
  • ARC is a beautiful campground in the mountains near Occidental, CA.  Saw lots of dear and big beautiful redwoods.  The retreat was great!  Gary Deaver from Bay Hills Church did most of the speaking and really challenged us.  We joined the Bay Hills Church for this retreat.  They're a good bunch of guys.
  • I received one of the greatest compliments of my life at the retreat.  A guy named Joe that was at the retreat last year (in which I was the guest speaker) was back again this year.  He started telling me how he had took all kinds of notes from my talks the year before and how he seriously applied the principles I taught to his life over the last year.  He starts telling me how different his life is now as a result...I was just bowled over.  As a preacher, I personally am not too concerned with immediate praise.  But what I love is people who come back and tell me how they changed the patterns of their life because of a sermon.  There's no greater compliment.  Not that it's about me, but it's wonderful knowing that God is actually using me in such a powerful way. I love changed lives!
  • I used the free time on Saturday afternoon to tour Bodega Bay.  What a great little town.  Of course, being a movie buff, I was in heaven. I got to spend some time at different locations that were used in the making of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (one of my all-time favorite movies).  The coolest location is the old schoolhouse where the birds cover the jungle gym and chase the children down the street.  Cool building!
  • Today was a great service.  We were in week 3 of our GODLOVESEX sermon series and the subject was "Great Sex".  Song of Solomon 4 is a great chapter of the Bible and we had a lot of fun learning from it.  I've really enjoyed this series.  You can check out the podcast either on the sidebar of this page or on iTunes. I hope God is using the series to improve the relationships in our church, to bring married couples more passion into their relationships, and to challenge the single folks to pursue purity.
  • Isaiah bought me a great book this weekend, too.  It's a year's worth of sports devotions.  He was so proud of his gift to me and was so sure I would love it.  He was right!  It's awesome.  He's such a great kid!