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.


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


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!


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!!!


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.


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!


I'm Doing a Great Work...

I got the opportunity to share with the local football team today. I talked to them about the importance of maintaining focus. I shared one of my favorite verses - Nehemiah 6:3. Nehemiah's enemy, Sanballat, tries to conspire against him and kill him. He tries to distract Nehemiah with a clever plot, but Nehemiah isn't fooled. He sends word back to Sanballat, "I'm doing a great work and I can't come down."

As I talked to the team about the importance of being completely focused on game night and knowing when to be focused on other things at different points in their lives, I had them chant with me, "I'M DOING A GREAT WORK!...I CAN'T COME DOWN!...I'M DOING A GREAT WORK!...I CAN'T COME DOWN!..." It gave me chills to hear them screaming that with me. Very cool moment!

I also got the chance to pray with them and with one young man in particular who has had incredibly difficult week because of a death in his immediate family. I'm so thankful to God for opening up this door of opportunity.

I need to wake up every day chanting that same thing:"I'M DOING A GREAT WORK!...I CAN'T COME DOWN!...I'M DOING A GREAT WORK!...I CAN'T COME DOWN!..."

Yes on Prop 4

With all the hubbub about Prop 8 (defining marriage as a union between 1 man and 1 woman), I totally missed another important issue on the ballot.  Please vote YES on Prop 4.  If Prop 4 passes, it will require a 72 hour waiting period before a minor can get an abortion.  During the waiting period an adult in the minor's immediate family will be contacted to notify them of the intended procedure.

I gotta say, whether you're a Christian or not, this just seems like a no-brainer.  Is there any other surgery out there that can be performed on a minor without parental consent.  This just makes sense.  However, this thing has already failed twice in California.  So make sure you get out and vote on November 4 and vote YES on Prop 4 and Prop 8.


Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I've already hit a lot of what happened this weekend, but here's a few more things:
  • We tried to do a few extra things with the kids this weekend.  Saturday morning we went to Sacramento to the IMAX theater and saw this cartoon called Fly Me to the Moon.  The 3-D aspect of it was pretty neat, but not such a great movie.  But the kids had a good time.
  • After the movie we were walking around.  We were right next to the Sacramento Convention Center when I remembered that this was the weekend for the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention right there in Sacramento.  All these youth pastors were walking around with their cool convention messenger bags and looking like they were having a great time.  Jamie and looked at each other with sad faces.  I said, "We suck.  We're not youth pastors anymore.  We're not cool anymore.  I want a cool YS messenger bag."  Love that convention!
  • Our worship gathering was great yesterday. I preached on taking our marriage vow, "till death", seriously.  I felt like the enemy seriously didn't want me to deliver that message yesterday. I struggled all week preparing it, but it finally came together late Saturday night when Jamie took the time to come pray over me.  The weight lifted and the sermon literally came together in my head before she could say Amen.  She's an incredible woman!
  • I got a little loud in my sermon yesterday, which I don't often do.  One of the things I was yelling, resonated in my soul too - "There's no excuse for being a lazy husband or father! There's no excuse for being a lazy wife or mother!" I needed to hear that as badly as I needed to say it.
  • Played a game with the kids last night - this great card game called Bohnanza.  Check it out. We love it!
  • God's really stirring some things up in me right now regarding my kids.  Maybe I'll share it someday.


FYMO, Part Deux

Re: last post - "For Young Men Only"

I totally forgot.  Multnomah sent me an extra copy of For Young Men Only to give away on the blog.  So how about this?  I'll send a free copy to the first qualified person to comment on this post.  For this one, let's say:
--you must be a male under 21
--or a youth pastor
--and you must live in the U.S.

Good luck!


For Young Men Only

I'm reviewing this book for Multnomah Books.  For Young Men Only is written by Jeff Feldhahn and Eric Rice and released earlier this week (hardcover, $13.99).  This is a good little book written for the purpose of helping young men figure out what young women need and want from them.  There really aren't enough resources out there like FYMO.  This one is very readable and includes a small group study outline.

This book not only talks about being a Godly young man, but it also gives suggestions on how to keep from getting your heart broken too easily and how to help your young lady with her insecurities.  There is also time spent dealing with sex and how to make yourself attractive to young women.

FYMO is a great youth group resource (www.foryoungmenonly.com).  This is the kind of book that I would like to have several dozen copies to hand out to all the young men in our church.  Check it out.



I want to share a great resource I found today with all you church leaders.  Maybe you've already found it, and I'm the last one to know, but if not...  ChurchTechTalk is both a website and a very entertaining weekly podcast about just what the title suggests.  The CTT guys give great advice to churches for using new technologies and A/V tools to improve their worship experiences and overall community experience.

Check out especially all the great free resources on the website.  Great free countdowns, sermon bumpers, and other videos.  Great stuff!!!  I love freebies!!!


Recession Prep?

I think there's a strong possibility this recession is going to get much uglier. Jamie and I discussed it today and we're going to start adjusting our standard of living and build up a better emergency fund. I'm curious...what are you all doing to prepare for it?  Anything? Nothing? Socking away cash? Changing your investment strategy?

Here's a couple of good reminders for us all during uncertain times.

Matthew 6:19-21
19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:25-34

25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


LHC Video Blog - 10/7

I wanted to start doing a weekly video blog as another avenue of better communicating information and encouraging.  So here's the first official Living Hope Church Video Blog Post.  The bright, bright sun played some tricks on my camera, but we'll keep working the kinks out.  I'll post it here and on the church website blog every week.  Check in often!

Yes on Prop 8

If you're a California voter (and more specifically a CA voter who is a Christian), I want to encourage you to vote yes on Proposition 8.  The following is from the protectmarriage.com website:
  • The Issue
    California voters passed Proposition 22 in 2000 by more than 61%, saying that a marriage in California is between a man and a woman. Earlier this year, four activist judges based in San Francisco wrongly overturned the people's vote, legalizing same-sex marriage.
  • The Consequences
    The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage did not just overturn the will of California voters; it also redefined marriage for the rest of society, without ever asking the people themselves to accept this decision. This decision has far-reaching consequences. For example, because public schools are already required to teach the role of marriage in society as part of the curriculum, schools will now be required to teach students that gay marriage is the same as traditional marriage, starting with kindergarteners. By saying that a marriage is between “any two persons” rather than between a man and a woman, the Court decision has opened the door to any kind of “marriage.” This undermines the value of marriage altogether at a time when we should be restoring marriage, not undermining it.
  • The Solution
    Vote YES on Proposition 8 to overturn the outrageous Supreme Court decision and restore the definition of marriage that was approved by over 61% of voters. Proposition 8 is NOT an attack on gay couples and does not take away the rights that same-sex couples already have under California’s domestic partner law. California law already grants domestic partners all the rights that a state can grant to a married couple. Gays have a right to their private lives, but not to change the definition of marriage for everyone else. Passing Proposition 8 protects our children and places into the Constitution the simple definition that a marriage is between a man and a woman.
  • On the ballot, Prop 8 will simply read "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California."
I've stated before that, as a pastor, I will never endorse specific candidates, but this is NOT a political issue, and it shouldn't even be a government issue.  This is a direct attack on our religious freedoms!  If Prop 8 does not pass, churches will have to make the choice to either marry homosexual couples or limit the ceremony to only couples who are church members (by changing their by-laws).  Weddings have always been a beautiful ministry of the church to our communities.  This CA supreme court decision is severely limiting that ministry.

What will be next?  How will the government limit our ministries in the future?  WE CAN NOT ALLOW THIS!

The media and our culture will try to convince you that this is a civil rights issue and that if you don't vote NO then you're a bigot or a homophobe.  This is not true - don't buy into it.  Voting YES on Prop 8 does not make you a "gay-hater".  It simply protects the institution of marriage by not allowing the government to redefine it.

I can't emphasize strongly enough how important the passage of this proposition is to churches in California.  I'm sure a day will come in the future when churches and Christians are persecuted in this country for standing up for Biblical truths. But let's not usher in that era too early.  Vote YES on Prop 8!


Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I've already mentioned alot about the weekend, but I'll recap real quick.
  • Friday night movie night with the kids was fun - Mr. Bean's Holiday.
  • Saturday morning I took Mollie and Isla out for a little Daddy/daughter time.  We had a great time and got to do some uninterrupted talking.  Drove to Winters and had lunch at the Putah Creek Cafe. Then headed into the hills and walked around the Monticello Dam at Lake Berryessa.  It's gorgeous out there and hard to believe it's only about 30 minutes from our house. We also stopped off on the side of the road and walked around Putah Creek. Isla liked the walking.  She's funny, though - full-speed-ahead on pavement, but when she's walking on a trail or grass she slows down to a snails pace.  Very unsure of unpaved surfaces.
  • Sunday morning was AWESOME!  We had Friend Day at LHC and there were tons of new faces in the crowd.  Love meeting new people at church.  One of our primary goals for this last Sunday was to have people walk out surprised by how much fun they had at church.  I think we accomplished it - lots of buzz after the service.
  • After a Sunday afternoon nap (which I LOVE!) we went to visit our soon-to-be new beagle puppy.  The litter was born several weeks ago and we get to actually pick her up on October 20th, but the family that is selling her to us has been great about letting us come by and visit her. I think we've almost settled on a name - Jenny.  She's a cute pup and in that curious stage right now.  I can't wait to get her. The whole family is excited about it, but I think we're looking forward to watching her and Isla grow up together most of all.  Here's a few pics:


LHC Friend Day Video

Today was Friend Day at Living Hope Church.  We had a great time and there were a bunch of new faces at church.  Living Hopers really stepped up and did a great job inviting friends this week.  You guys are awesome!!!

We played a special Friend Day video too that left quite an impression.  While welcoming everyone to church, I noticed that Brandon Boicelli wasn't present.  It bugged me enough that I ran out of the church and this is what happened next.


Porn-Again Christian

I found a potentially good little resource for all you fellas tonight.  I say potentially because as of this writing it is incomplete.  So I can't whole-heartedly endorse something I haven't completely read yet.  Currently there is an introduction and chapter 1, and so far - so good.

Porn-Again Christian is a little book written by Mark Driscoll, pastor of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  This book is kinda cool because the entire thing is being released online a chapter at a time - every few days over the next several weeks.

As the sub-title says, this book is a "frank discussion on porn & masturbation".  By looking at the table of contents, it will also deal with sexual slavery, prostitution, and other such topics.  Driscoll does state in the introduction that it is intentionally written for a male audience and he doesn't recommend women read this book without the guidance of their husbands.  When Driscoll says "frank", he means it.

You can check out the book at http://relit.org/porn_again_christian/.  So far the chapters are very short and readable.  I generally like Driscoll's frankness and preaching style, so I'm looking forward to reading this.  This quote from the introduction is priceless, classic Driscoll:
  • "I pray this booklet would be a useful and readable piece of literature that you could pass on to as many dudes as possible as a pedagogical tool for cranial-rectal extraction."
If you have to look a few of those words up, it's worth the time - AWESOME! :-)

Guys, consider it another weapon in your spiritual arsenal.  I love free weapons!

Good Day

Today was a good day.  Very busy, but enjoyable.  Spent some time preparing something fun for Friend Day this Sunday.  Can't go into a lot of detail, but if you're a Living Hoper, you DO NOT want to miss this weekend!

I also had a great Mahi Mahi Burrito at Rubio's too.  That alone was worth getting out of bed today.

Then to cap it all off, the fam sat down and watched Mr. Bean's Holiday tonight.  Pretty funny, but I will say that I think Mr. Bean is funnier in short-form than feature length.  You can only take so much squirrelly expressions and inaudible grunts.  But still it was a good G-rated family night.

One depressing thing this weekend.  We have been planning for a couple months to go camping with some long-time friends next weekend.  We found out Thursday that they went camping THIS weekend - we've had the dates wrong in our calendar for many weeks and it never came out in our conversations.  We were SOOO disappointed because we love this family so much and were seriously looking forward to the time with them.  We felt pretty stupid too.  I hope we can catch up with them for a camping trip next year.  We're going to go ahead and take the kids camping next week anyway by ourselves.  Not the same, but we'll try to have a great time.

I really can't wait for this Sunday - Friend Day!  I think these "big" days are HUGE in the life of a church.  Easter, Christmas, Friend Day, etc... - intentional invitation days.  We encourage people to invite friends every Sunday, but the big push days can sure provide a "spiritual shot of adrenaline" to the church.  Whether you're a Living Hoper or not, invite a friend to church this weekend.  I believe this is a fact that is ALWAYS true in EVERYONE's life: there are people in your life just waiting to say YES to your invitation to church!


Jeff & Jamie - Kickin' It Ol' Skool

Allow me to remind everyone of the upcoming sermon series at Living Hope - GODLOVESEX - by completely humiliating myself.  Here's a pic of Jamie and me (circa 1991 - our first year of dating) and the music video of the #1 song of 1991.  Love is in the air, baby!



We went with some church friends to see the movie Fireproof tonight. Fireproof is a Sherwood Pictures film - the same church who brought us Facing the Giants and Flywheel.  My overall feeling about Fireproof is much the same as I felt about Facing the Giants.  It's not going to win any acting awards, but it's an absolutely incredible movie nonetheless!

Fireproof is the story of a heroic firefighter whose marriage is on the verge of divorce and his last ditch effort of taking on a 40-day "Love Dare" to attempt to save his marriage.  I wish I could drag every person in my church to see this movie.  I HIGHLY recommend it - especially if you're going through a rough patch in your marriage - but I recommend it for anyone.  Go see it while you still can! (Living Hopers: it's currently playing at Edwards Theater in Fairfield.)