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