Best of the Decade

All right, I can't resist puttin' out a short "best of the decade" list.

Best Book of the Decade
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Hon. Mention: all the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
1/1/10: Just remembered one more that must be included. The Message by Eugene Peterson is a milestone as a devotional tool!

Best Album of the Decade
American Idiot - Green Day
Hon. Mention: How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2, The Beautiful Letdown - Switchfoot

Best Movie of the Decade
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Hon. Mention: Sean of the Dead, Napoleon Dynamite
1/1/10: Just remembered one more that must be included. The Passion of the Christ definitely was one of the most moving theatrical experiences of the decade.

Best TV Show of the Decade
Hon. Mention: The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Best Experience of the Decade
Birth of Isla Kae
Hon. Mention: Becoming Pastor of Living Hope Church, Mission trips to Mexico/Panama/India

Best of 2009

Time for my year-end "best of..." list. This year was particularly hard, because there were so many greats, but here goes...

Top 5 Books I Read in '09
5. The Blue Parakeet - Scot McKnight
4. The Shack - William P. Young
3. The Hole in Our Gospel - Richard Stearns
2. it - Craig Groeschel
1. The Wild Trees - Richard Preston

Top 5 Albums I Listened To in '09
5. Only By the Night -
Kings of Leon
4. BlakRoc - BlakRoc
3. Church Music - David Crowder Band
2. A_CROSS // The_Earth: Tear Down the Walls - Hillsong United
1. Mean Everything to Nothing - Manchester Orchestra

Top 5 Movies Viewed in '09
5. The Blindside
4. Doubt
3. Slumdog Millionaire
2. Zombieland
1. Inglourious Basterds

Top 5 TV Shows in '09
5. Survivor: Samoa
4. The Biggest Loser
3. American Idol
2. Kings
1. Lost

Top 5 Experiences in '09
5. Hillsong United Concert at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento.
4. Seeing WICKED on Valentine's Day with Jamie-baby.
3. Christmas week at Lake Tahoe with the Family.
2. Camping With Isaiah and the Ent Men at Humboldt Redwoods SP.
1. Mission Trip to India.

You can also check out my 2008 and 2007 lists. What were your favorites of 2009?



If God was distant, I would be overwhelmed with stress right now...but God is with us.

If God was distant, I would feel hopeless right now...but God is with us.

If God was distant, I would feel lonely right now...but God is with us.

If God was distant, my life would have no direction...but God is with us.

If God was distant, I would be guessing at how to be a father and husband...but God is with us.

If God was distant, I would be the guilty and the victim...but God is with us.

If God was distant, I would try to justify my pride...but God is with us.

If God was distant, I could ignore those in pain...but God is with us.

If God was distant, I could live like I never sense his presence...but God is with us.

If God was distant, I could take life, love, and everything for granted...but God is with us...

...so I give thanks!



Mark Batterson's new book, Primal, hits bookstores today. I received an advance copy to review.

If you've read much of my blog, it's no secret that I'm a pretty big fan of Batterson's books. (Here's my review of Wild Goose Chase.) Primal is no exception. In this book, Mark challenges us to get back to the primal essence of our faith, by fully living the Great Commandment. He does this by dividing the book into four sections: The Heart of Christianity, The Soul of Christianity, The Mind of Christianity, and The Strength of Christianity. I really enjoyed this approach and I felt it made for a very well-rounded book.

Reading Primal was a bit like trying to drink from a waterfall. I didn't highlight while I read this time, but if I would have I would have ran out of ink. I love great quotes and this book is full of them--both from Mark and other great minds that he quotes. I'll just say that reading this book increased my sense of how great God is, increased my faith in what he's able to do through me, and increased my desire to step out and dare to follow God wherever. Batterson is one of the most positive, encouraging voices in Christianity today. He's this generation's Schuller (but with a greater emphasis on God).

I found myself wanting to preach every chapter of this book. I'm sure I'll be borrowing from it quite a bit in the future. Get this book today. It's truly great.


Isaiah's Goals

I'm a big fan of goal-setting. I think it's critical in the process of becoming a better you. I heard a great quote today from Dave Ramsey. Dave says, "Goals are dreams with work clothes on." Love that, because there's a huge difference between dreams and goals. Goals put hands/feet on your dreams. Goals are the bridge between dream and reality. One of the best things you can do when setting goals are to attach timelines or deadlines to them as well. It makes them more urgent and helps you put them into action.

Isaiah, who just turned 11, had a school assignment this week where he had to write about his achievements this year and what he wants to do in 2010. This is classic Isaiah:

In 2009 I accomplished these things and more:
1. I preached with my dad.
2. I got 2,000 tickets at Scandia.
3. Stayed up for a full 24 hours.

In 2010 I hope to accomplish these things and more:
1. Give up smoking.
2. Going into hall of fame on Madden '07.
3. Figure out a rubix cube.
4. Get a chick.

I'm so proud.


Pastor Your Family

Why is it so easy for me to offer spiritual guidance or invest in the spiritual development of the church people I pastor, but often it's not a priority in my own family? I'm ashamed that this is sometimes true. Lately I've been convicted about my interaction with my family. I think I'm a decent dad and husband. I try to be. But it's not enough. If I'm to be the spiritual head of my family, then I need to be pastoring them as well.

Over the course of my time here at Living Hope Church, if I'm blessed to baptize thousands of people, counsel hundreds of couples, love on thousands of youth---but neglect the spiritual well-being of my own family---then I will consider myself a massive failure. I need to be as concerned for the spiritual health of my family as I am for the physical/financial/relational health of my family.

And it's not just me. Guys, we are all called to be pastors to our family. Living Hope men, if you are hoping I will be your family's pastor so you don't have to...then you're in for a rude awakening. YOU are the pastor of your wife. YOU are the pastor of your children. If you don't know the spiritual temperature of your household, then you are failing as husband/father. Do you know if your wife and kids are saved? Do you know what doubts they may be struggling with? Do you know what dreams God is giving them and what are you doing to help them realize those dreams?

Take the time to have heartfelt conversations with the people you love the most. Ask the tough questions. Offer Godly wisdom. They need more than just our paychecks.


"New Moon" Love

Jamie and I saw New Moon last night. I have a Jr. High girl in my house, so the Twilight Saga is a common topic in the Myers house. I have to say that I wasn't that impressed with this movie. It just seemed ridiculous to me. And honestly, some portions were unsettling. I'm not suggesting it's evil and Christians should stay away from it or anything. It just made me wonder if Hollywood is more responsible for the divorce rate in this country than I thought they were.

If you think about it, divorces have become increasingly more common on a similar timeline with the advent and increasing popularity of the film industry. (I don't have any hard research behind that statement; just a general observation.)

This is what I think might be happening. New Moon and similar movies generally portray romantic love in one of two unhealthy ways.
  1. Romantic love is equated with sex. The idea of love without sex is completely foreign. Or romantic people are portrayed as seeking one sexual conquest after another. It's carnal and has nothing in common with the Biblical view of love or sex.
  2. Romantic love is elevated to worship. (This is New Moon's issue.) Hollywood loves to portray this idea that there's a person out there somewhere who will bring about our highest good. (Jerry McGuire: "You complete me!") There's a person who will be your one and only, bring total happiness to your life, will make your life worth living, whose absence would make your life meaningless, will be worth sacrificing all your morals and standards for, etc... While this idea of love seems more pure, it's actually equally dangerous and unBiblical.
We need to remember (and teach our children) that whenever we put people in a position that only God can realistically fill, it always ends badly.

That Hollywood view of love will almost always end badly, because it can't sustain the weight of our expectations. Only God can carry that weight.


Thankful for the Lessons

I'm coming up on two years as pastor of Living Hope Church. I love this church and am so grateful for the opportunity God has given me to lead such an incredible bunch! All my previous ministry experience was as a staff member serving under another pastor. Today I was thinking about all the pastors who shaped me and helped me become the pastor I am today.

From my Dad, I learned pastoring isn't always easy and pastors can be normal.

From Brad Utley, I learned to "try anything" and I learned forgiveness.

From Floyd Sullivan, I learned joy and justice.

From Jim Harris, I learned I wanted to be a pastor.

From Milburn Wilson, I learned encouragement and comfort.

From David Fasold, I learned leadership and that church can be fun.

From Joe Wilson, I learned passion and the art of dreaming God-sized dreams.

Today I offer up thanks for each of these men and the impact they had and continue to have on my life. They trusted me, encouraged me, tolerated me, let me lead, helped me clean up mistakes, invested in me, and much more. I have a degree in theology and have read hundreds of books, but it was the process of doing life and ministry with these guys that made me the pastor I am and will be.

Who shaped you?


The Hole in Our Gospel

This book seriously messed me up!

Richard Stearns in the president of World Vision US. In THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL, Stearns tells how he came from being a high-earning CEO to be the president of World Vision. He also masterfully shares the greatest problems/needs around the world and does a great job discussing why the world at large tends to ignore those in the greatest need and what we as the Church should be doing to help.

If you want to carry on with life as usual, the DO NOT read this book! This book will increase your heart for missions, increase your compassion for "the least of these", and will cause you seriously re-evaluate your own lifestyle of consumerism.

One of the most inspiring parts of this book is when Stearns details how he came to Christ and then wrestled with God's calling to lead this non-profit. It's an honest story of doubt and the the "chasing" that God often does when we resist his purposes for our lives. I can't recommend this book highly enough!


It Lives!

After a 3-month hiatus, I've decided to resurrect the ol' blog. I've been itching to start writing again, but I believe my focus will be different this time. Not so much pop culture -- heavier on the spiritual journaling, thoughts about faith/church/pastoring/leadership, and book reviews. I really want to get back to the fearless "wide open" style that made this interesting for me to begin with.

I haven't decided how often I'll post. Probably a couple times per week or so. Not going to stress about it too much. When I feel the itch, I'll scratch it. So renew your subscription or check back here occasionally. Can't wait!


Goodbye Cruel World

After considerable thought, I've decided that this will be my last blog post. I just can't devote the time to it that I used to. If I can't do it well then I'd rather not do it.

Lately I've found that Twitter is a more concise/quick way to communicate, and Facebook keeps me in touch with tons of old (and current) friends. Plus, it seems that they're pretty much taking over the world.

I want to thank all of you who have visited regularly for reading and allowing me to figure things out or vent in a public way. I've thoroughly enjoyed the blog experience. Please stay in touch by following my twitter feed (pastorjeffmyers) or friend me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/pastorjeffmyers).

I might return to it someday, but for now I need to focus on other things and scale down my social networking. In fact, my Facebooking is going to scale back quite a bit as well. This page will stay up but this will be my last post.

Go With God!!!




Check out this trailer for a new documentary called Lemonade. It highlights the lives of people in the advertising world who have lost their jobs in the current recession. (WARNING: There's a little bit of crude language in this, and some of the life-choices are not necessarily God-honoring.)

I just find it interesting from several different standpoints:
  • how often a personal crisis can result in drastic choices that bring greater fulfillment in life.
  • how often a personal crisis can result in drastic choices that take lives in an unhealthy direction.
Church leaders/members: I wonder how much we are helping people turn their lemons into lemonade? When we hear of someone getting handed a lemon, are we encouraging them to take God-honoring risks, or are we letting them flounder without any support/encouragement?


Social Networking Burnout

I'm experiencing something that I'll just call social networking burnout. I currently have my blog, a Facebook account, and a Twitter account. I love them all!

I've been blogging for about 4 years now and I find the writing fun and sometimes therapeutic.

I've been on Facebook for almost a year and I love how Facebook keeps me connected with people that I would otherwise lose touch with. It's been great reuniting with people from high school, college, the Army, and the different churches we've served in. Also, making those Facebook connections proved to be invaluable when it came to raising support for our upcoming mission trip to India. Probably the majority of our support came from Facebook friends. However, it has the potential to be a big time-waster.

I've been on Twitter for about 6 months or so and I really love it. If I'm honest, I probably enjoy Twittering more than Facebooking. I like giving and receiving the 140-character updates without all the hassle of the Facebook quizes, games, poking, pillow fights, food fights, and other such nonsense that I always ignore.

However, I've noticed that since I started Twittering, I haven't been updating my blog as much. Things I normally would have blogged a few paragraphs about, I can now reduce to 140 characters or less and keep it concise. But I start feeling guilty when I go several days without blogging (like now). I've thought about getting off of Facebook, but I'd feel guilty disconnecting from so many old friends. I've thought about getting off of Twitter, but I really like it and sometimes it proves to be useful and informative. I've thought about not blogging anymore, but that just makes me sad and I think the longer writing form is good for me.

So the last few days as I've been pondering all this, I hit burn-out and didn't post much to any of the 3 mediums. I think something, or a few somethings, needs to go. I can't make up my mind which, though. I'll probably come to a decision within the next several days.


Genesis 48-50

These last 3 chapters serve as a sort of epilogue to the book of Genesis. They deal primarily with the final blessings and death of Jacob and the death of Joseph. In Jacob's blessings of his sons there are some rich foreshadowing of the coming Messiah, Jesus. Especially in the blessings of Judah and of Joseph.

One thing that I want to point out is actually 8 verses after our study ends.
Exodus 1:8 (ESV)
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

Although Joseph is certainly remembered even today, there was a point after his death that his actions and position were forgotten and didn't do the Israelites much good. They were oppressed and enslaved despite his high position in Egypt.

There will come a day that all of us will be forgotten by the communities and kingdoms of this world. It doesn't matter how much good we do, one day we will die, and life will march on without us. Kind of depressing, huh?

Here's the lesson, though. When you live your life the way Joseph and Jacob and Isaac and Abraham lived their lives--knowing that it's not really about us, but about God. Then we will leave a legacy that will outlive any memory of our existence. A legacy of Jesus. I don't care one lick if people remember me when I'm dead, I just want to make sure the legacy of Jesus Christ carries on. What Kingdom investments can you make today or this week or this year that will leave a lasting legacy of Jesus Christ to the generations who come after you?


Genesis 47

As you read Genesis 47, you can tell a few things about Joseph.
--He loved his family and wanted to provide for their needs.
--He worked hard and shrewdly for Pharoah.
--He took pride in his work and in increasing Pharoah's influence/wealth.

I'm a firm believer that as an employee of a company, one of your primary roles is to work in a way that pleases your employer, that seeks the best interest of your employer, and that increases the influence/wealth of your employer. I believe this is God-honoring work.

Too many people go to work and are solely concerned with their own egos, wealth, and agenda. But I believe a Christian employee needs to ask themselves, "Is this company stronger because of my presence and the work that I do?" Too often Christian employees become sidetracked with "being a Christian witness" at work and don't do the work they were actually hired to do. Don't get me wrong--I'm not suggesting you check your Christianity at the door when you go to work. However, I am suggesting that the manner in which you perform your duties at work are just as much a part of your Christian witness as anything you might say. Christians should work for their employers in a way that glorifies God and betters the company.


Genesis 45-46

Genesis 45:4-8 (ESV)
So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph,
whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
I love that Joseph picks the worst circumstances of his life and does something completely opposite of what we expect. He doesn't have a pity party. He doesn't pout or get angry. He doesn't seek revenge against his brothers or hold it over their head. He sees God's hand at work in the worst of his life and gives God the glory! What circumstances of your life are you allowing to make you bitter or destroy your spirit? Maybe God is actually using these horrible circumstances to bring about a "greater good" in your life! Choose faith instead of fury or fear!!


Genesis 42-44

Joseph's story is such an epic story. Someone should turn it into a movie...seriously. In today's reading Joseph's brothers come to Egypt looking for help and Joseph puts them through a series of tests and, I think, has a little fun with them, too. The most interesting thing about this part of the story is that we find Joseph's brothers have developed into honorable/honest men.

I know I've harped on this whole thing of forgiveness and reconciliation with family (or whoever else). It's been a surprise to me. I honestly didn't intend on focusing so much on that aspect of the story. But this is just another reminder to us that who we become is sometimes far different than who we are in our youth. We should never write one another off as lost causes. God can and does transform lives and we should give people in our past second chances for that very reason. In fact, sometimes the transformation comes through the forgiveness of others.


Genesis 39-41

This is an amazing story of God's hand of providence in action. Joseph is the lowest he could possibly be. As if slavery wasn't bad enough, he's sent to prison on a trumped up charge and forgotten about. But God's got a plan and Joseph's faithfulness is rewarded. Joseph goes from youngest son to slave to prisoner to second-in-command in Egypt. There's no limit to what God can do when his people choose to place their faith in him despite tough circumstances. What circumstances in your life are keeping you from choosing faith? God is faithful to his promises. Are you?

I also love Joseph's example of handling temptation in Potiphar's house. Potiphar's wife seduces him and Joseph RUNS! We should never forget that God's Word calls us to flee temptation, not flirt with it.


Genesis 37-38

These two chapters serve as the set-up for the great things God will do through Joseph. I really think their primary purpose is to establish the wickedness of Joseph's brothers, especially Judah. It was Judah's idea to sell Joseph into slavery. Chapter 38 tell us more of Judah's wicked behavior towards his own family.

Later on we'll see the reconciliation of Joseph to his brothers. Another example of the importance of not hanging the past over the heads of your siblings. They often change over time and reconciliation/forgiveness should always be sought among family.


Genesis 31-36

Sorry my updates have been so sporadic. I should be able to update daily for the remainder of the study.

Lots of interesting stories in these two chapters, but my personal favorites are the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau and Jacob wrestling with God.

I love that Jacob wrestles with God and God lets him win. I'm not really sure what that means, but it sounds like something our God would do. I think it's possibly a demonstration of the fact that God allows us to wrestle with our faith as much as we need to. However, all faith eventually requires a leap of faith. Maybe the quicker you can make that leap of faith, the chances will be smaller that you'll walk away with a limp!

The thing I like about the Jacob/Esau story is that it ends in love and forgiveness. I wonder if there are any of you that could stand to humble yourselves and approach a sibling and seek reconciliation? I honestly think one of the saddest things in the world is when siblings part ways. My brothers are seriously my best friends in the world and we have intentionally made the decision to never allow things to come between us. Even if it means accepting some faults or allowing some things to not resolve the way we think they should. That relationship is just too valuable to allow ego to get in the way. I realize circumstances can strain these relationships, but is God possibly nudging you to forgive a sibling? Don't allow pride to keep you from one of life's greatest blessings--brothers and sisters!


2nd Annual Back-to-School Big Give!

Living Hope Church held our 2nd Annual Back-to-School Big Give yesterday afternoon. I can't express how much I love this event and how proud I am of our church for pulling it off! We give away new backpacks full of school supplies, free haircuts, fingerprinting, facepainting, Bibles, food, games and prizes. When you see these kids' faces light up when they get their new backpacks or young ladies in tears because they're getting their first professional haircut in years (this year we had several stylist from the Paul Mitchell Acadamy), it's almost too much to take. I don't know how many times I had to wipe a tear out of my eye yesterday. There were around 450 in attendance yesterday and everyone had a great time.

As usual Jamie did a FANTASTIC job of organizing the event. I was really proud of her. It was a much smoother event than last year. She's amazing and adds so much to our church!

There are always funny things that happen at these events. Last year we thought it would be good to have cartoons playing on the big screen for the kids. I got a DVD of Looney Tunes videos thinking it would be a safe choice. Boy was I wrong. Big-time racist images and I was more than a little embarrassed. This year's funny thing was great, though. Attendees had to register and get a ticket to pick up their backpack and a ticket to get their snacks. We were able to save about $15 by purchasing this roll of tickets that was a little different. CLASSIC LIVING HOPE MOMENT!!! (Picture of ticket below and more pics of the event.)


Genesis 27-30

I love reading about Jacob. He's one of the most colorful characters in the Bible. Deception, birthrights, blessings, dreams, romance, polygamy, lots of kids, baby-mama drama... His story has it all. But every time I read his story, I'm reminded of this Rich Mullins song called "Jacob and 2 Women" from his incredible album The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 1. Look it up and download it sometime. It's really nice. Here's the lyrics.

Jacob, he loved Rachel and Rachel, she loved him
And Leah was just there for dramatic effect
Well it's right there in the Bible, so it must not be a sin
But it sure does seem like an awful dirty trick
And her sky is just a petal pressed in a book of a memory
Of the time he thought he loved her and they kissed
And her friends say, "Ah, he's a devil"
But she says, "No, he is a dream"
This is the world as best as I can remember it

Now Jacob got two women and a whole house full of kids
And he schemed his way back to the promised land
And he finds it's one thing to win 'em
And it's another to keep 'em content
When he knows that he is only just one man
And his sky's an empty bottle and when he's drunk the ocean dry
Well he sails off three sheets to some reckless wind
And his friends say, "Ain't it awful"
And he says, "No, I think it's fine"
And this is the world as best as I can remember it

Now Rachel's weeping for the children
That she thought she could not bear
And she bears a sorrow that she cannot hide
And she wishes she was with them
But she just looks and they're not there
Seems that love comes for just a moment
And then it passes on by

And her sky is just a bandit
Swinging at the end of a hangman's noose
'Cause he stole the moon and must be made to pay for it
And her friends say, "My, that's tragic"
She says, "Especially for the moon"
And this is the world as best as I can remember it
And this is the world as best as I can remember it


Genesis 25-26

Just a quick mid-camp thought about this reading. This verse caught my attention:
Genesis 26:28 (ESV)
They said, "We can see plainly that the Lord has been with you. ..."
Two questions: 1) How plain is it today that the Lord has been with YOU? 2) What adjustment can you make right now to make it more evident?


Genesis 21-24

Sorry for not posting about yesterday's reading. I was busy getting our teens to camp. So I'll hit two days worth of reading today.

Two things hit me about these four chapters:

1) God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. This used to seem to me to be one of the coldest, most heartless acts of God in all the Bible. Obviously God was testing Abraham, but did it need to be so extreme? Many people view this as a test of Abraham's priorities, whether or not God was the first priority in Abraham's life. I really don't think that's what God was testing. I think God was testing Abraham's faith in the promise. God had promised that from the offspring of Abraham a mighty nation would be born. Isaac was more than a son--he was the embodiment of that dream. If this nation was to come, Isaac was a pretty important component of that dream.
I believe down deep inside Abraham knew that Isaac would come through this test just fine. His reply to Isaac's question about the lack of a sacrificial animal says it all.
Genesis 22:7-8 (ESV)
And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.
Abraham knew God would be faithful to his promises. Sometimes we feel life leads us off course of God's promises or plans for our lives. Stay faithful. If God promised it, you can bank on it!

2) A family becoming a movement. I like reading this part of Israel's history. It was the beginning stages of a dream and a promise. A promise from God that from one family would come a blessed nation--a chosen people. But for now, they're still just a family trying to be faithful and looking ahead to the promise. I think of Living Hope Church when I read these chapters. I believe God has great things in store for us. I believe God wants us to be a church with a global influence! As I look ahead to what can be, I'm reminded that it all starts with a family. Our church feels an awful lot like a family right now. I want to challenge all you Living Hopers to live in anticipation of the promise, but enjoy our LHC family right now, too.



I just found out that Disney is releasing a new TRON movie that will be 3D and it looks pretty sweet! I loved the original 1982 TRON when I was a kid (10 yrs old). I remember that I didn't understand it all, but that it was one of the coolest things visually I had ever seen. Check out how far they've come in 27 years. Below is the 1982 trailer for TRON. You can view the new TRON LEGACY trailer here.

Genesis 19-20

Okay, these two chapters are messed up on so many different levels. We tend to think of the times that we live in as the most evil in history, but I'm not so sure if that's true. Disgusting as all this behavior is, let me work through it.

Ch. 19 starts out by saying that the two angels went on to visit Lot in Sodom. This reaffirms the idea that of the "three men" who appeared to Abraham, one of them was not an angel and most likely the Son of God.

The next bit of the story is simply disgusting and difficult to read. Every man in the city surrounds Lot's house and demands that he send out the two men so that they may gang rape them. This is where the modern day term "sodomy" comes from. As if this wasn't disgusting enough, Lot behaves in a cowardly/shameful way by offering up his two daughters to be subjected to this act of rape instead. God intervenes in this situation and decided to destroy this wicked city.

After escaping Sodom, Lot and his two daughters are living in a cave. His daughters decide to get him drunk and sleep with their father so they will have children. Again, disgusting and shameful behavior.

Ch. 20 has us back with Abraham and Sarah, with Abraham once again behaving in a cowardly way by pretending to be Sarah's brother and allowing a king to pursue her.

When most people read these two chapters they tend to focus on the homosexual sins mentioned here. But as I was reading it, the behavior that was the most disgusting to me was the overall low view and shameful treatment of women during this time. Wives and daughters were treated as property--as assets to be used for whatever one needed them for. This was never God's plan! It's tempting to read these Biblical stories and assume that God must have been okay with it because it's in the Bible. Not so. It was just as shameful and sinful then as it would be now.


Genesis 17-18

In today's reading we see God continue forward with his covenant with Abraham. The practice of circumcision is established to set God's chosen people apart from the rest of the world. God finally tells Abram and Sarai when their son will be born. He changes their names to Abraham and Sarah. And to top it all off he even gives them a visit.

When Abraham sees the three men who have come to visit. He recognizes something special about them--something divine--and responds accordingly. When he says, "Oh Lord, if I have found favor...," the Hebrew word used (Adonay) that the ESV translates as "Lord" is a word that is only used for God in the Old Testament. This indicates that he recognized something of a divine nature in one of the men. I believe this is probably one of several times in the Old Testament that Jesus appeared personally to deliver a message. Most scholars agree that there are other occasions when you see the phrase "the angel of the Lord" (instead of "an angel of the Lord") and the individual is addressed specifically as "Adonay" (Lord), that it is God the Son making an appearance.

One specific verse I want to point out:

Genesis 18:12 (ESV)
So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?"

No reason. I just think it's pretty stinkin' funny!


Genesis 15-16

This may be my favorite reading so far in this study. There's some really good stuff here. God comes to Abram in a vision and makes an incredible promise to him.

Genesis 15:5-6 (ESV)
And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Several things strike me about this. 1) If you're having trouble believing God's promises, maybe you need a change of scenery. Get out of the tent and look up. Look at your life from God's point of view. A lot of times we get a sort of spiritual cabin fever. Our lives close in on us and we have trouble seeing the bigger picture. 2) When we step out on faith and believe God's promises, it means more to God than moral living. Good deeds don't equal righteousness; faith equals righteousness!

Right after that, God gives Abram full disclosure:

Genesis 15:12-13 (ESV)
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the Lord said to Abram, "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years."

God tells Abram that just because he made a promise of a great legacy to Abram, doesn't mean the road will always be easy or pleasant. This is a HUGE thing for us to remember. God has made many promises to us. Some have been completed and some we're still waiting for. What we need to remember is that if bad things happen in our lives, it doesn't mean that God has broken his promises. We see the hear and now and feel momentary pain, but God sees the BIG picture. Stay faithful, because God is faithful!

In fact, in ch. 16 we see Abram and Sarai get impatient with God and take the dream into their own hands. The results were disastrous. Not only in what we read in the Biblical account, but even still today. The descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac have been warring for thousands of years. God's way is ALWAYS best, even if we can't see it or understand it. Wait on the Lord!


Genesis 13-14

One of the primary things we learn from these two chapters is the integrity of Abram. He sought peace among those whom he loved even if it meant the possibility of getting the short end of the stick. He also was trusting in God for blessings, not men.

The book of Hebrews compares Jesus to Melchizedek, whom we read about here in ch. 14. Jesus is like Mel in that he is both our priest AND king. In our lives, we need to put him in the role of priest--spiritual leader and example. But we also need to allow him the role of king of our lives--sovereign leader and worthy of honor. Check this passage out.

Hebrews 7:15-22 (ESV)

This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him,

"You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek."

For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

"The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
'You are a priest forever.'"

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.


Genesis 12

Genesis 12:7 (ESV)
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this Land." So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

It's amazing to me how many times in the Old Testament when someone experiences a really powerful moment with God, they immediately follow it up with a really dumb or cowardly decision. Here we see Abram and Sarai go to Egypt and Abram lets the Pharoah have his way with Sarai just to save his own skin. God has just told him that through his offspring he would build a great nation, but he's more worried about what the man Pharoah might do to him than he is about being faithful to God or his wife.

As I'm typing this it hit me that we don't see as much of this behavior in the New Testament. In fact from the book of Acts and onward, we see extreme examples of boldness in the face of pain or death. What's the difference? Were the NT believers stronger in their faith than the OT believers? I don't think so. I think the key difference is the constant presence of the Holy Spirit. After Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the lives of all believers, everything changes! Peter who showed cowardice by lying and saying he didn't know Jesus after Jesus was arrested, suddenly starts showing courage in the face of death. The other 10 disciples who ran and hid when Jesus was arrested all eventually gladly give their own lives to serve him. Why? Because they're walking under a new power now!

By the way, it's the same power we walk in. God the Holy Spirit also dwells in us and wants to guide us toward lives that are marked by faith and boldness. Make a choice today to embrace that power and the knowledge that right now, where you sit, God is IN YOU!


Nirvana Just Got Rick-rolled

This is the worst offense ever committed against rock! (But it's pretty ingenious.) Mash-up of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. (By the way, I looked a lot like Astley in high school.)


Genesis 9-11

This reading contains two really interesting stories that can be confusing to our modern minds.

The first tells of a day when Noah got drunk and naked. We don't have a lot of details but he was obviously behaving shamefully. Where the story gets confusing is when Ham comes in. Ham sees Noah and tells his two brothers about it. Evidently this was a big taboo, because his behavior gets him in a lot of trouble with Noah. Some scholars have speculated that Ham must have also done sexually perverse things to Noah in his drunken condition, but since the text doesn't go there, neither will we. I think Ham's sin was that he dishonored his father by treating the situation too lightly. He was open about looking on his father's shame and shared it openly with his brothers. His brothers were very respectful in the way they dealt with the situation. I think it all goes back to "Honor your mother and father."

The second story is the tower of Babel. The people of the earth get together and decide to build a great city with a great tower. God doesn't like this and confuses their speech, giving us all the different languages of the world. For us, it seems like building a tower shouldn't be such a big deal. In fact, it should probably be celebrated, right? The issue with God wasn't the tower. The issue was the rebellion of the people. God's plan was for them to disperse and populate the earth. They choose the exact opposite and start building a man-centered society rather than one that is centered on God. The initial population of the earth is too big of a deal for God to allow them to screw up, so he confuses the languages which causes them to disperse as he originally planned.

We are also introduced to Abram who we'll be reading a lot about next week.
Monday's reading: Genesis 12.


Genesis 7-8

This story of Noah, the ark, and the flood is one of the most recognizable stories in the whole Bible. But I think we forget the gravity of this moment in time. It's been watered down (pardon the pun) by cute Sunday School pictures, nursery bedding, toy arks and animals, etc... I think for most of us when we hear Noah's ark, we think cute floating zoo. That's a mistake.

The reality is that other than the day Jesus was crucified, this was earth's darkest day. There was nothing cute or pleasant about it. Pretty much every living thing on earth was destroyed. I guarantee you even the mood on the ark was dark. God's justice and power was unleashed on this planet in a terrible way. Humans had become so evil, that basically God felt he needed to "reboot" creation.

It's also a strong reminder that another day of judgment is coming. The Bible teaches us that there will be another "reboot". There will be a new heaven and new earth. Those who are following Jesus Christ, will receive an eternal reward complete with a new body and a new name. Those who have rejected the gospel, will receive eternal punishment.

Rather than turning this story into a cute children's "fairy tale", we should remind ourselves of it and learn from it.

Genesis 5-6

In this passage we learn the genealogy from Adam to Noah, that people were living for 100s of years, and we get the set-up for the great flood.

Two verses I want to point out.

Genesis 6:8 (ESV)
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Genesis 6:22 (ESV)
Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

You think there might be some sort of connection between these two verses? ;-)


Genesis 3-4

In these two chapters we see the first sin and it's followed up by the first murder. I love that right on the heels of that first sin, we also see the first allusion to the coming remedy for this new sin problem--Jesus! Here's what God says to Satan (the serpent):

Genesis 3:15 (ESV)
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

A loving God frees his prize creation to make their own choices, they rebel against their creator, he immediately starts the process of making a way back for them. Awesome love!

I also like the bit when Adam and Eve are hiding from God and they hear him walking through the garden. Imagine being able to live so closely to God that you recognize the sound of his footsteps--you know when he's approaching. Someday we'll be restored to that level of closeness with God!


Genesis 1-2

There is so much in this passage that I hardly know where to begin. I really believe that a proper understanding of these first two chapters of the Bible are key to shaping your overall view of the message of the Bible. Here are some themes that I hope you'll embrace as you read this.

God as Creator
God's creative power is one of my favorite attributes of his. To have the power to create something from nothing is a power that I don't think humans will ever be able to fully understand. And the fact that we live on this beautiful planet that is a constant testament of the awesome power of God...it's a humbling feeling to me! Also, I love that at the end of every day of creation, God proclaims that his work was "good", but after creating humans, it was "very good". We're God's favorite handiwork!

Free Will = Love
It's easy to read the bit about God placing the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Eden and allow ourselves to think that God was setting up some sort of tricky test for us. But the opposite is true. That tree is actually one of the first visible evidences of God's love for us. God could have created us to be mindless followers, forced to do the right thing and forced to do his bidding. But he doesn't. He wants us to CHOOSE loving him...or not. He knows that love is only love if it's freely given and freely chosen. That tree represents God freeing his most valued and loved creation, in hopes that they will return to him!

Men and Women
God clearly shows us that we need each other. Men and women are meant to complete each other, help each other, and so much more. Think about this: a perfect God created the entire universe and proclaimed it all to be good. But when he looks down and sees this lonely man, he says something different. This is the only aspect of his creation that God said wasn't good. Man needed a companion. There was a void in man's life that even God wouldn't fill. We've heard that we all have a God-shaped hole in our lives that only God can fill. But this passage also teaches us that we have a people-shaped hole in us. We need each other, too!


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I'm reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies today on my day off. I've been wanting this book ever since it released a couple of months ago, but it's been out of stock every time I go into my local Borders. They finally had it yesterday! I'm only about 40 pages into it and officially declaring it AWESOME!

PPZ is by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith took the original Austen classic and added the undead to it to make it more interesting--brilliant! In fact the book is about 85% Austen's original story word-for-word.

Here's one example of a change:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

Too sweet! I've made it clear before that I'm a big fan of the zombies, so this is right up my alley. I love this teaser from the back cover:

Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.


Slumdog Disciples

I thought I'd go ahead and put this out there, because I'm so stinkin' excited about. In August I'll be doing a 4-week sermon series that I'm calling Slumdog Disciples. This is one of those series that I just feel is locked up inside me and I can't wait to get it out!

If you were to ask me, What's the biggest thing that is keeping Living Hope Church from just blowing up and becoming everything God wants it to be?, my answer would immediately be self-doubt. I think it's common in many other churches as well. This is the area that Satan attacks us the strongest. I look at our Living Hopers and I see potential world-changers! Men and women who absolutely have what it takes to advance the Kingdom and charge Hell with a water pistol. Unfortunately, LHC has too many people that are crippled by self-doubt. They just can't see themselves as disciples. Or they can't believe they have what it takes to be what they know God is calling them to be.

I felt I needed to address this and it reminded me of the line from Slumdog Millionaire, "What can a slumdog know?" I was like, that's all of us! God doesn't expect us to be Super-Disciples. A slumdog disciple is enough. This series is about "discipleship for the rest of us". I feel God is getting ready to unleash something on our church. I can't wait!


Genesis Study

At Living Hope Church we occasionally do e-BibleStudies. Everybody reads the scheduled reading on their own and just interacts through email sharing their thoughts about the passage. Next Monday we'll be starting a study of Genesis. I thought I'd open this up to the blogosphere, so if you'd like to follow along here's the schedule. I'll be posting my thoughts about the daily readings. Feel free to leave comments with your own thoughts or questions.

7/13 - Genesis 1-2
7/14 - G. 3-4
7/15 - G. 5-6
7/16 - G. 7-8
7/17 - G. 9-11
7/20 - G. 12
7/21 - G. 13-14
7/22 - G. 15-16
7/23 - G. 17-18
7/24 - G. 19-20
7/27 - G. 21-22
7/28 - G. 23-24
7/29 - G. 25-26
7/30 - G. 27-28
7/31 - G. 29-30
8/3 - G. 31-33
8/4 - G. 34-36
8/5 - G. 37-38
8/6 - G. 39-41
8/7 - G. 42-44
8/10 - G. 45-46
8/11 - G. 47
8/12 - G. 48-50


Snowflake Bentley

I was just reading about a man by the name of W.A. Bentley who made it his life's work and calling to do something that to most would seem unimportant or trivial. Bentley spent the better part of his life photographing snowflakes. In fact, he was the first to do so.

In my sermon Sunday, I spoke about how science is actually a form of theology. It is the process of revealing the handiwork of the Creator. Snowflake Bentley is the perfect example of this. In an interview he made the following statement:

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were a miracle of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind. I became possessed with a great desire to show people something of this wonderful loveliness, an ambition to become, in some measure, it's preserver."

Bentley went on to say the he felt his field of work was serving The Great Designer. Wouldn't you love to spend your life revealing the beauty and majesty of God? What's keeping you from doing it?


The Shack

I know I'm a little late getting on this bandwagon, but I finished reading The Shack today so I thought I'd throw in my two cents about this book. There are many differing opinions about The Shack. Some think it is amazing and life-changing, while others find it heretical or even poorly written. I land somewhere in between the two, but leaning more toward the opinion that it's a great book.

For those of you who have been living in a cave, William P. Young tells the story of Mack who suffers a terrible family tragedy and then has an encounter with the three members of the Trinity in a small shack in the woods. Mack learns about the nature of God, redemption, forgiveness, suffering, love, and much, much more.

I really don't know where to begin a discussion about this book. So I'm just going to shoot some bullet points of thoughts I have about it. Here goes.

-- First of all, The Shack is a work of fiction and should be read as such. It is not the Bible. It is not a theological treatise. It is a fictional story. A firm grasp on this fact puts to bed much of the controversy in my opinion. It is one man's attempt through fiction and allegory to paint a clearer picture of the nature of our triune God. As such, it is not perfect. All allegories eventually fall apart or are lacking in some way. This is true of The Shack.

-- One of the big reasons people are upset by Young's portrayal of God is how the members are physically manifested. God the Father is an older African-American woman who goes by the name Poppa (the name that Mack's wife uses in her prayer life to address God). Jesus is pretty much Jesus - a carpenter of middle-eastern descent. The Holy Spirit is a flighty Asian woman called Sarayu. Many people really get hung up on the Father being portrayed as a woman. However, Young clearly explains the reason for this.
Mack has a hard time accepting God as a father-figure because of his own abusive father (a problem many people have). In the story, God explains that, for Mack's benefit, he knew it would be easier for Mack to relate to a female manifestation. Later in the book, when Mack is finally able to forgive his own father, Poppa begins manifesting himself as a man. While most of Scripture refers to God as masculine, God also uses feminine imagery to reveal his nature. In the Bible God is seen as a woman in labor (Is. 42:14), a mother nursing her children (Is. 49:14-15), a mother who comforts her children (Is. 66:12-13), a woman seeking a lost coin (Lk. 15:8-10), or a hen gathering her brood (Mt. 23:37).
The fact is that God is not a man, a woman, or a lion (as C.S. Lewis depicted him). God is God. He reveals himself to us in many ways. While I prefer to stay faithful to Scripture by referring to God as masculine, I don't see a major difficulty with Young's fictional portrayal.

-- There has also been discussion of an incorrect portrayal of the relationship between the members of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the hardest to understand. How can God be one and three, equal but submissive, etc...? If Young's fictional representation of the Trinity has holes in it, it simply means he's human. We can no more understand the nature of God, than an ant can unravel our own DNA.
I felt though that The Shack gave me some real flashes of truth that I hadn't thought about before when it came to God's nature. Sometimes when I try to understand the Trinity, I feel like I'm looking at one of those Magic Eye pictures. Before you figure out how to screw up your eyes and bring the image into focus, you occasionally get glimpses or flashes of the image, but can't quite nail it. You see a corner of the picture come into focus, but when you try to see the whole it goes back out of focus. For me, God is like that. I get glimpses or flashes of truth. Just when I think I'm beginning to understand, I lose the focus, my brain hurts, and I'm left with more questions. I believe it will be clear someday, but not until I'm able to look at it with new eyes (eternity eyes).

-- Like I said, the book is good, but it's imperfect. The allegories do break down in places. It gets too preachy at times. It's even a bit cheesy occasionally. But it's also tragic, beautiful, moving, insightful, humorous, and much more. In my opinion, there's much more to appreciate about this book than criticize.

-- A little closing advice for reading The Shack. Go into it with an open mind, a proper perspective, and a box of Kleenex. I cried in at least 3 different parts. The opening section which details Mack's family tragedy was really difficult for me to read as a father. The insights Mack received during his stay at the shack, were quite thought-provoking and I needed to rest between chapters and let them roll around in my mind a little. And last, but certainly not least, while this book is inspiring for many and helping many people process their own personal tragedies, it's important to remember that it's just a story. It's not the Bible and shouldn't be a substitute for the Bible.


Summer Reading Strikes Back: Angels & Demons

This weekend I start a new sermon series called Summer Reading Strikes Back (it's the follow-up to last year's series Summer Reading). The first book we'll be using is Dan Brown's Angels & Demons. It's not really so much a discussion of that book as it is a discussion of whether or not science and faith have to be enemies.

So here's the question. Are there any areas of science that you have a hard time reconciling with Scripture (or visa versa)? Does science ever cause you to doubt your faith or keep you from actually choosing a life of faith? I'd really like to hear your thoughts!



Please take some time right now to pray for Stephen and Tamara Batta. They have been attending Living Hope for several weeks now. Tomorrow morning (Monday) Tamara will be going in to UCSF for a major brain surgery to remove a large mass in the center of her brain. The surgery is quite complex and risky and should take at least 6 hours. They are obviously nervous and unsure about the whole thing.

Please pray:
--that God would supernaturally heal Tamara if it's in His will.
--that God would guide the hands of the surgeons.
--that the Battas would feel comfort and peace throughout this process.
--that their son Bryce would not be too scared about his mom's surgery.
--for the healing process to be quick.

Thank you all for interceding on behalf of the Battas!
Go With God!!!

6/22 - 5:30 pm
Tamara is finally out of surgery. It took quite a bit longer than expected. The doctor said he was able to remove most of the mass, if not all of it. She's not out of the woods yet, though. They'll be watching her very closely in ICU for the next several days. However, the doctor felt like the surgery went as well as could be hoped for. Please continue praying for the Battas! Thanks.

6/26 - 9:30 am
Just got a call from Tamara with good news. The mass was not cancerous, so radiation will not be necessary. Also, her recovery has gone so well that she gets to come home today! Thanks for the prayers everyone!


Humboldt Redwoods Camping Trip

Isaiah and I just got back from a 3 day camping trip with Michael and M.D. Ent way up north in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It was honestly one of the best camping experiences ever! It ended about 2 days too early, though. HRSP is one of the most stunningly beautiful places on the planet. It's also a perfect outdoors locale for pasty-white individuals like myself. The trees pretty much provide 24-hour shade!

We camped at one of the environmental campsites, which are quite secluded and more primitive than the group campsites. We had a picnic table, fire pit, bear locker, water spicket, and outhouse. We brought a ton of gear and had to lug it 150 yards from the van to the campsite, but other than that it was a great few days.

I really loved the time with Isaiah. Things have been kind of tense between us lately and we really needed the time away unplugged, uninterupted, and free of estrogen. Love that boy so much and he made me proud this week the way he worked hard and played hard! We had some great opportunities to talk, too.

I also loved the time with the Ent men. It's good to get away with like-minded people and just be yourself.

Here are a bunch of photos that I'm almost hesitant to post, because they really don't do justice to how beautiful a place this is. Can't wait to go back some day!


Leadership & Morality

I wanted to share a portion of an email I sent to Living Hope's staff and elders today. It was my response to hearing about another pastor who resigned his church last weekend due to a moral failure. I think it's a good reminder for all of us!

I take this stuff very seriously and try to put multiple layers of accountability into place to prevent this sort of thing from happening to me. I want to encourage you all to do the same thing. Satan would love to upset our momentum by defeating one of us with this sort of thing. I honestly believe the more our church grows, the more our staff/elders will be attacked with temptations like this. We must be clear-minded and vigilant.

--Don't assume you're above a sin like this. If you're thinking that right now, you are putting a huge target on your back for Satan to hit.

--Eliminate or severely limit your one-on-one meetings with the opposite sex (not just in church, but in the other areas of your life as well). If I need to have a meeting with a female, I bring Jamie or one of the kids with me. If that's not possible, I meet in a very public place like Starbucks, which is usually pretty crowded (and even then, I make sure Jamie's aware that I'm having said meeting).

--Install accountability software on your computers (like X3WATCH). Monthly reports of any questionable internet activity I might have are sent to Jamie and my former pastor, Joe Wilson. I obviously don't want to have that difficult conversation with Jamie, and I know for a fact that if it ever becomes a problem Joe will get on a plane and come to Dixon and publicly kick my butt. I haven't slipped up in this area in several years, but let me be honest with you all---it's not because I haven't been tempted. Occasionally there are days that the only thing keeping me from looking at questionable content is knowing I have that software installed on my computers. My point is this: know your weaknesses and deal with them!

--Date your spouse regularly and give them the attention they need. If you don't, someone else might!

--Stay close to God! Don't let a day go by where you haven't spent time in prayer and/or the Word.

You know I love leaders and I especially love Living Hope's leaders. It breaks my heart when leaders fall. Join me in doing whatever it takes to make sure one of us doesn't become the foothold that Satan needs to hurt God's work here in Dixon.

I love you guys!!!


Zechariah & Malachi

Well, better late than never. Life hit me pretty hard these last several days, so this final Minor Prophets update is coming a little late.

I REALLY enjoyed this Bible study because it forced me to focus on some parts of God's nature that I don't normally focus on. Things like justice, holy anger, fierce love, and his standing invitation of forgiveness no matter how disgusting our behavior. I said it before--it's easy to focus on punishment and judgement when we read these books, but the real story is God's neverending ferocious love for us and willingness to forgive us whenever we come to our senses and turn back to him.

I really like the emphasis on the restoration of God's people in Zechariah. It's a pretty exciting picture of what kind of blessings/rewards God wants to shower on us someday. And Malachi's call back to holiness and faithfulness is always good for me to read. Both of these books are also full of foreshadowing of Jesus' coming.

As far as New Testament references, there are a lot. I'll list them below. Look them up when you get a chance. Thanks for hanging in there through this study. I found it rewarding. I hope you did, too!

Zechariah 3:2 --- Jude 9
8:16 --- Ephesians 4:2
9:9 --- Matthew 21:5; John 12:15
11:13 --- Matthew 27:9
12:10 --- John 19:37; Revelation 1:7
13:7 --- Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27

Malachi 1:2 --- Romans 9:13
3:1 --- Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27
3:17 --- 1 Peter 2:9
3:23 --- Matthew 17:10; Mark 9:11


Hero Blog Tour

Here's a book that I'm supposed to review for Multnomah. Haven't had a chance to read it yet, but here's the info. It looks great. Can't wait to dive into it!

You already know it’s not easy being a single man in this culture today. But it is easy to be overwhelmed, to feel helpless and hopeless about living by God’s high standards for singles. It’s easy to cave in to the pressures of this sex-soaked world and accept defeat—blaming the media, the culture, even girlfriends who don’t know how tough it can be.


But many men have read books like Every Young Man’s Battle and Tactics and have committed themselves to stand strong and pure in the power of God, and to go on the offensive against the onslaught of negative stereotypes. Some have suffered. Some have fallen. But many have experienced victory—and you can be among them.


What makes those committed men so desirable to women? Be Her Hero is their motto. From best-selling author Fred Stoeker, along with his son Jasen, come the straightforward insight and real-life examples you’re looking for to help you take personal purity to its logical conclusion. Here’s straight truth with irrefutable evidence of what makes an ultimate hero to women who long for men of faith—men who stand by their convictions and make their world a safer and better place.


Are you ready to accept the challenge?

Fred Stoeker is a best-selling author of several books, including Every Young Man’s Battle andTactics, the president of Living True Ministries, and a popular conference speaker who challenges men to become sexually pure, to reconnect in true intimate relationship with their wives, and to train their sons to become godly men. A graduate ofStanford University, Fred lives in Des MoinesIowa with his wife, Brenda, and their children.


Mike Yorkey, a writer living in EncinitasCalifornia, has collaborated with Fred Stoeker in all his books for the Every Man’sseries.


Jasen Stoeker is a popular conference speaker who challenges young men to be heroic in their relationships with women and to be a Christian, rather than just seem like one. Jasen is a graduate of Iowa State University with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science and now lives in MinneapolisMN, with his wife Rose.

$10.99 @ CBD.