I Know, It's Twisted

Isaiah and I were looking through Marko's archives last night in the humor tag and came across this little Roller Coaster Tycoon gem. We were laughing so hard and had to watch it about 3 or 4 times. Quality father/son time at the expense of fake computer people!


Gardening Eden

Happy Earth Day everyone! In celebration of said day, I'm reviewing Michael Abbate's book Gardening Eden. I gotta tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This is one of those weird topics that the predominantly Republican religious right tends to avoid or criticize. Abbate writes on the subject of "creation care" (a term I like much better than environmentalism) in a way that is thoughtful, spiritual, responsible, motivational, and somewhat inspiring. I've read several "green" books, but when I finished this one, I found myself actually wanting to call my landlord about planting a little garden in my backyard. (This is big, because I HATE gardening!)

Gardening Eden starts off basically explaining the physical reasons why we need to be concerned for our environment and why many Christians aren't. Abbate then spends some good time explaining why spiritually this is the right thing for Christians to do. I really like the way he doesn't go off the deep end and give an emotional call to save the dying planet. What he does is give us a great reminder that one of the first things we were called by God to do is to tend his beautiful garden called Planet Earth.

"We don't own the house or the property where we live, God allows us to live here as a privilege for taking care of it. I'm only one of the many people who have shared responsibility to steward the tiny piece of creation under my care today. My goal is to leave it in better shape than I found it and inspire the next person to accept the mantle of stewardship when it's his or her turn to take up the heavy job..."

The final section of the book was my favorite. Abbate spends four chapters discussing practical ways we can be "better gardeners" with Food in the Garden, Energy in the Garden, Transportation in the Garden, and At Home in the Garden. Great stuff!

This is one of those topics that drives me crazy that Christians either shy away from or unreasonably reject. I'm not suggesting (and neither does Abbate) that creation care is our primary purpose, or objective, as Christians. But you CAN'T deny that it IS one of our purposes. I'm thankful for guys like Michael who can passionately, but rationally, remind us of these truths.

Gardening Eden is $10.99 @ CBD.

WaterBrook/Multnomah gave me an extra copy to give away. I'll send it to the first person in the U.S. that comments on this post. (DeadMule, I haven't forgotten about the 'love' books you won. I'll get them in the mail tomorrow!) Good luck!

Hillsong United Concert

I've been wanting to write about this for a few days now. Last Thursday Jamie and I got to see Hillsong United in concert in Sacramento at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. It was an AMAZING experience!

First of all it was my first concert at Memorial Auditorium. It's a pretty cool old venue. One of the coolest things is the massive wood floor. When everyone started jumping--so did the floor! No lie--you didn't have to jump because the floor itself felt like it was moving up and down a couple of inches. Don't know if it was safe, but it was COOL!

This was also my first United concert. They completely lived up to and surpassed their albums. The experience was a wonderful mash-up of concert and church. All their lyrics were displayed on the screen behind them. The entire concert thundered with several thousand people singing these beautiful songs at the top of their lungs. Seriously, I've never been to a concert where the crowd was SO into it the whole time.

As a worship experience, I needed that night so badly. It was just a big shot of adrenaline to my spirit. All I can say is if you ever get the opportunity to see them live, don't pass it up.

They did all of my favorite songs, but they also did several new songs. One that completely slayed me was called "You Hold Me Now." It's an AMAZING song about heaven and as of yesterday it's available for download on iTunes. Definitely check it out! Best buck you'll ever spend.

Here are some audio samples from the upcoming new album:


Great Weekend

I had an awesome weekend! Two big things: Living Hope Church added a Saturday night worship service and today was my 37th birthday!

The Saturday service was great. We had a good turnout and it was a great night. The night service definitely has a different vibe. It's going to be fun over the next several months as we work out the kinks and allow that service to really come into its own. Should be fun. The good news is that we broke our attendance record for a non-holiday weekend (158 this weekend)! God has really blessed us with so many new faces over the last couple of months.

Jamie and the church totally surprised me with a surprise birthday party/feast right after service! It was great. We cleared out the chairs, brought out the tables, and had a great time. They had also put together a special birthday video for me, too, complete with photos from my childhood and video messages from friends and family from all over. It was really great. I was blown away by all the good wishes and the party!

I love my family, friends, and church so much!!!!!!


Einstein Never Looked So Good!

This is so trippy! Look at this picture of Albert Einstein. Now take about 5 or 6 steps back from your screen and look again. Hubba hubba!


Shameless Christian Marketing of the Month Award

This ad pops up regularly when I'm on Facebook. Apparently this guy preaches a little differently than I do!

Beatles - "Taxman"

Here's a little blast from the past to celebrate the worst day of the year. The song is great, but between the English accents the 1960's hepcat language, I can't understand a word they're saying before the song.


Experience the Treasure Blog Tour

I'm a couple of days late on this, but Easter week is a busy one. Multnomah sent me two books to review for last week (sorry!).

The first one is Experiencing the Spirit by Henry & Melvin Blackaby. This is the final book in a trilogy of books that started with Experiencing the Cross and Experiencing the Resurrection. This is a great little book about learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. If your spiritual walk could use a big boost, this is a great book to read. The Holy Spirit is, by far, the most misunderstood member of the Trinity. Yet this is the member of the Godhead that is completely present in the life of the believer. Understanding our relationship to Holy Spirit is critical to a powerful faith. The Blackaby's do a great job of leading the reader into an authentic relationship with the Holy Spirit. $11.99 @ CBD.

The second one is The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. This is another great book about becoming a giving person. I love the principle's taught in this book. One of which is that when you die you can't take your wealth with you, but you CAN send it ahead. Everytime we invest in Kingdom purposes or give to those in need we laying up our treasures in a place where even a bad economy can't touch them. Love that! This is a short, but powerful read. $6.49 @ CBD.

Multnomah gave me one extra copy of Experiencing the Spirit to give away. I'll give this to the first person from Living Hope Church that comments on this post. Good luck!

Susan Boyle is AMAZING!

I wish I could embed this video, but they're not allowing it.  You'll have to link to it here on YouTube to check it out. This aired in the U.K. Saturday night and it's Susan Boyle's audition on the new season of Britain's Got Talent. She is absolutely incredible! I read an article that she's a church worker as well.

This brings to mind one of my pet gripes--how screwed up the music industry is. There is so much incredible talent in the world, but unfortunately all we get to hear is mediocre talent that will look good on a magazine cover.

But the thing that gripes me the most, is that the biggest perpetrator of this crime is the Christian music industry. Don't believe me? I dare you to go to you local Christian bookstore and find a CD by a female singer that's not somewhat hot. You can't do it! Because the truly incredible talents out there that don't look perfect can't even catch a break from the so-called "Christian" music industry. It's only about Jesus, if you're "marketable". I could go on and on...


New Testament in 40 Days

As you know, I took on a Lenten exercise of reading through the New Testament (about 30 other Living Hopers joined me in this). I wanted to write a bit about what I took away.

I've always been a big fan of John's writings and the gospels, of course. But honestly Paul's never been one of my favorites. I think the biggest thing I got out of this is a huge RESPECT for the apostle Paul. Seriously, the man is a freakin' superhero!

I've read all of this many times before, but it's been a while since I read it all in one shot like that. I was blown away by his boldness. He was a man so committed to following God's lead in his life that he really didn't care who he upset or what the impact on his own safety and life would be. Obedience to God and reaching the lost were his singular focus. He didn't care if he ticked off a king or hurt another apostle's feelings. He was a man on a mission!

Here's the result. Men like Paul may not have a ton of BFFs, may not ever pastor a mega-church, may not live a long life, but the fruit of their faithfulness is evident for generations (or centuries) after they're gone. Paul's my new hero! I hope I can be at least half the disciple he was. I'm often criticized for my boldness, but I'm a wuss compared to him. It's time for me to crank up the boldness dial to 11!


Easter Sunday @ LHC

What an amazing day today! I can't tell you how much I love Easter! The energy is always electric and it's an incredible opportunity to share the simple truth of the gospel.

The day started with a 6:30 am community sunrise service. I was invited to preach for it this year and it was a good time. Probably 60 or so in attendance. All the other pastors in the community participate as well. I like starting off such a powerful day unified with other believers in our community.

Living Hope's service was a serious home-run this morning!
  •  1 lady entered into a relationship with Jesus for the first time today!!!!! That will never get old!
  • We had 181 in attendance (a great crowd for our church)!
  • The worship band was off the hook today! They seriously sounded better than ever. They opened up our service with U2's new song "Magnificent" and it gave me chills. They rocked it out. All the other music was amazing, too. I especially loved the real bluesy version of "My Redeemer Lives"! At the end of the service I told them they officially earned the name "Rob Riedel & The World's Most Dangerous Worship Band." Seriously, guys, thanks for making our service so special!
  • I had a really good time with my sermon, too. Told everyone that the most amazing thing about the resurrection is that it turns Satan into skinny punk! He has no power over us unless we give it to him!
  • After the service we had a surprise egg hunt for the kids. They loved it! We surprised two lucky kids with new iPods, too. I wish you could have seen the look on their faces. It was like they woke up and realized that somehow it was Christmas morning. I love seeing kids have fun at church!!!
After service we had a serious feast at the Boicelli's home. Enjoyed good company, good golf, great food (Colette made a broccoli salad that was worth killing for!).

Just finished a great nap! Now to start thinking about next weekend when we start our new Saturday night service!

(Sorry for the excessive use of exclamation points, but it was that kind of day.)



This was the last reading of my Lenten New Testament reading plan. It was supposed to be divided into two days, but I didn't get a chance to do the reading yesterday. If this passage doesn't both shake you awake and turn you into an evangelist, then I don't know what will!

Revelation 20:11-15 (ESV)
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


Learning to Teach ESL

We've spent the last two nights and will spend all day tomorrow learning to teach English as a Second Language. This is going to be one of our major projects on our mission trip to India this fall.  It's kind of an odd thing because normally on mission trips I tell our team to adapt to the native language and not expect the nationals to adapt to English. But this is actually something that's being requested of our team. Knowing how to speak English can mean job security for these orphans in the future.

It's a little silly feeling learning this. We're teaching around the theme of agriculture and farm animals. So we are using very simple children's books to do this. Learning these methods has me feeling like I'm back in kindergarten. It's embarrassing but we're all getting into it and laughing at each other.

It's really nice spending the extra time with our team and growing closer. I can't explain how excited I am about this trip. I really believe that God is going to reveal himself in some incredible ways and I can't wait to experience it. I have a feeling I'm really going to fall in love with India and the Indian people, too.


Spiritual Warfare

I'm not normally the type of guy who sees a demon in every bush or blames Satan for all my issues, but I really think I'm in the middle of a pretty heavy season of spiritual warfare right now.

I'm easily depressed, constantly worrying, having a difficult time being patient with my family, and starting to think defensively about a lot of things. But here's the deal--I have absolutely no reason to be feeling those things. In fact, I should be on top of the world. My life is pretty great right now. I have the love and support of my family and my church. God is blessing our church in some amazing ways. I'm losing weight. We're paying our bills. This is why I'm bold enough to call it spiritual warfare. Because externally things are great, but internally I feel like a mess. I really feel like I'm under attack for the purpose of getting me off of the road I'm meant to be on.

I keep trying to remind myself of all the reasons I have to feel the opposite of the way I feel. Jamie's been great--stopping to pray over me occasionally and smile at me when I don't feel like smiling. 

The other day I felt like I really needed to get some place quiet and spend some time with God. At first I drove to the Davis Arboretum, but I couldn't find a place to park so I headed back to Dixon. The only place I could think to go that would be peaceful and I wouldn't be interrupted was the Dixon Cemetery. (You're probably thinking if you want to stop feeling depressed, stop hanging out in cemeteries! I know, I've already thought it, too.) As far as cemeteries go, it's an awesome one. Lots of really old stones. There are people buried there that were among some of the first to settle California. Lots of big ol' trees, too. I grabbed a Bible out of the car and walked to the center of the cemetery and just sat down on the ground up against a big tree. I prayed for a while. Read the Bible for a while. Prayed some more.

There was no one else there. I was the only living human around. But it wasn't quiet. There was more life in that cemetery than any place I've been in a while. Thousands of birds and other creatures moving around and making quite a bit of noise.

I felt a lot of different things while there. Grateful that I drove myself there and was sitting above the ground. I was hit by a feeling of smallness, too. There was so much noise from the birds, that I realized my voice isn't the most important or even most prominent that is praising God. I felt relief from being able to get an hour or two away from the phone, the computer, my climate-controlled house, the noise of the TV and every other man-made distraction.

I don't know why I tell all of this other than to say, Satan may keep attacking me, but I'll just do my best to fight it and keep being faithful. This is the awesome thing about doing battle with Satan--he's beaten already. He's annoying. He's distracting. He wears you down sometimes. But ultimately he's nothing. Watching him attack me is like watching some annoying punk kid pick on a much bigger, older, tougher individual. It's distracting and frustrating sometimes, but I can still smile because I know whom I stand with. Satan's got nothing on us. All he can do is come at us with dark feelings, temptations, and circumstances to try to take our eyes off of God.  But we serve the God in whom there is no darkness and the darkness flees from him. We serve the God who promised that not only will he not tempt us, but will not allow Satan to tempt us more than we can handle. We serve a God who lives in us and gives us the ability to find joy and wisdom in any circumstance!

1 & 2 Peter

This verse stuck out to me because it's part of what I'm preaching for my Easter sermon this weekend. So here's a little sneak peak for you Living Hopers.

1 Peter 1:3 (ESV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,...

That "living hope" thing is kinda catchy. Someone should name a church that!


1, 2, 3 John & Jude

This is really GREAT advice for the times we live in.

1 John 3:16-18 (ESV)
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

I believe during this recession God's people need to be positioning themselves financially to BE the church to those who are hit hard. If you've got excess, look for ways to share with those who are struggling. If you're just "making it", reduce your spending even more just so you can position yourself to help others. Schedule an appointment with your budget and make some hard decisions so that others will not go without. Pray right now and ask if God needs you to financially bless someone else!


John 11-16

John 15:4-5 (ESV)
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

I need to read this every day. In fact, I should probably get "apart from me you can do nothing" tattooed across my forehead.


Sunshine Cleaning

Jamie and I took a trip the Varsity Theatre in Davis last night and saw Sunshine Cleaning with Amy Adams (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses). I really liked this movie. It's the story of a couple of sisters who go into the business of crime scene clean-up. Basically it's a chick-flick with a lot of blood. It's a sad but quirky comedy that's in the same vein as Little Miss Sunshine (same producers).

Sunshine Cleaning also is the story of a family's long-time struggle of coping with the suicide of their mother/wife. It really struck me how utterly meaningless suicide is and how huge of an impact it makes on the ones left behind. I've never really understood the suicide mentality. I've been through some dark periods in my life, and maybe the thought crossed my mind once or twice, but never seriously. I think it probably boils down to hope. I've always had at least a little hope. But sometimes the only hope I've had is hope in and because of Jesus.

I'm excited about our Easter service. We're going to be exploring this whole theme of hope. Oh, by the way, our worship team is going to do a new U2 song in our Easter service! Can't wait!


John 1-5

I'm excited. We're definitely coming down the home-stretch on this New Testament reading plan for Lent. I have really been changed in a lot of good ways through this. Can't wait to blog about it after Easter!

This passage from John's gospel is, in my opinion, the greatest opening line to any document in the history of the world!

John 1:1-5 (ESV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


Enter The Haggis: Gutter Anthems

I love blog swag! Free stuff I end up getting because of my blog. It's mostly books, but occasionally I get a CD.  A few months ago I blogged (here) about accidentally discovering a great little celtic rock band called Enter The Haggis. One of their promoters recently saw my post and sent me a copy of their just-released CD entitled Gutter Anthems.

Honestly, even if this wasn't a free CD, I would still love it. I really dig the whole fusion of celtic music (bagpipes, fiddle, penny-whistle, accordion) with all the more traditional rock sounds. (Another band I like that does this is Flatfoot 56, but they definitely have a more punk sound.) Gutter Anthems is fun and also beautiful at times. If you're in the mood for something other than the normal "Top 40" garbage, this is definitely worth you time and your $10.

Hebrews 11-13 & James

I've always liked Hebrews 11 (the Hall of Fame of Faith). But one paragraph stood out to me this time that doesn't normally.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (ESV)
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

I feel like this should be my life-verse. Since college, I have felt what this passage describes. That I am longing for my true home. As great as planet Earth is, I don't think it will ever feel like home. My soul honestly cries out to be in God's presence. I know a lot of Christians who are perfectly content here and don't really like thinking about their eternal reward. I'm just not one of them. I can't get there soon enough! Not that I hate my life or where I live or anything like that -- quite the opposite. It's not a about emotion or preferences. It's totally about my soul crying out for HOME! This is why my all-time favorite song is the old hymn "This World is Not My Home".


This world is not my home; I'm just a passin' through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

O Lord, you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home, then Lord, what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore


Those Dance Lessons are Really Paying Off!

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Hebrews 1-10

This can be a bit of a challenging read because it's so specifically directed to those entrenched in the Jewish culture/customs. But I love this passage.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV)
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.