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!