Aug 31, 2008

The Perfect Week to Get Sick

I've been sick for the last three days with a flu. How can you get a flu in the summer time? It's a hundred degrees outside and I am in the house with sweats and a blanket over me. How can that be?

Being sick sucks.

Being sick wouldn't be that bad if it didn't suck so bad. I mean, I got to stay home all day, read, watch tv - thank God the college football season got started. I must have watched five games yesterday - and just lounge around all day. But it sucked because my head was pounding, my ribs were hurting from coughing too much, my throat was sore, my nose was sore from blowing it all the time, and my joints and muscles were aching. So, yeah. It pretty much sucked.

I'm finally starting to feel better.

It was a perfect time to get sick though. I don't have to preach this week because it's youth Sunday and the kids will be leading worship. How perfect is that. Thank you God. This was the perfect week to get sick.

Aug 28, 2008

Dangers of a False Jesus

The more I study about who the Jesus of the Bible is, the more I am intrigued and fascinated by His joy and purity and absolutely alarmed by how much I am not like Him.

And here’s the truth that’s been haunting me. If our conception of who Jesus is false, then it is better for us to be atheists because our allegiance and adherence to a false Jesus is absolutely devastating. It would be far more preferable if we just didn’t believe anything.

The false Jesus who says it’s all about comfort and security destroys Christian mission.

The false Jesus who says it’s okay to turn a blind eye to the suffering in our very inner cities as long as we’re raising our children undermines Christianity.

The false Jesus who says it’s okay to keep accumulating goods and bank accounts at the expense of investing ourselves fully to the cause of alleviating the suffering of our community repudiates everything the Christ of Scripture lived for and died for.

If that’s what being a Christian and being a part of a church means, is what we are doing here at Trinity and thousands of churches like us around the United States worth doing? multiplying? Worth imitating?

The Jesus of scripture is not very nice to the comfort seeking suburbanites like you and me.

And yet Christ keeps bidding us. Christ keeps calling us. Christ keeps challenging us to grow deeper into the word so that Christ can go deeper into the world. I am absolutely convinced that Christianity as we know it has to go through a major overhaul if we are to be faithful to the Christ of scripture.

I confess that I need to grow. I confess that I need to change. I want so desperately to know how to live a life that is holy and so full of joy that it is profoundly attractive to our world. I ask you to go on that journey with me. And as we pursue together how we might be more like the Christ of Scripture, I am absolutely convinced that God can change our world.

Aug 26, 2008

Scandalous Jesus

The more I study who Jesus is the more I find myself drawn to Him.

Now here is a man who is absolutely holy and yet the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the swindlers, the thieves, and the underbelly of Israel loved being around Him. In fact, the only ones who seemed to have a problem with Jesus were the religious of the day.

I don’t know about you, but I find this quite disturbing.

Because you see, when I look at my life and ask the question, “Who would have been more comfortable around me – the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the swindlers, and thieves or the religious of today – there’s no question. The religious people would be far more comfortable around me.

And if the truth be told, I am not very comfortable around the underbelly of our society. I would much rather hang out with other religious people.

And the thing that frightens me most about that is that the religious people were the ones who crucified Jesus. And I can’t help but wonder if Jesus were walking the earth today, if I might not find myself in the same camp as the religious of His day.

Instead of going out into the world with the hope and the message of Jesus Christ, we prefer insulating ourselves in our little cocoons in order to keep the very people whom Jesus sends us out, out!

Instead of infiltrating the public school system with Christian children and Christian teachers, we create Christian schools.

Instead of infiltrating our neighborhoods with the love and hospitality of Jesus Christ, we hand pick our friends.

Instead of tackling the needs of the underprivileged in our world, we move out to the suburbs so that we don’t have to look at the poor.

And if the truth be told, I don’t think that’s how Jesus would have lived His life. And I don’t think that’s who Jesus is calling us to be.

Aug 25, 2008

Ain't No Such Thing as Unanswered Prayers

A while back, Garth Brooks – what the heck happened to that guy? – had a song called, “Unanswered Prayers.”

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

This was a song about how when he was a young man he prayed that his high school sweetheart would be his wife. And now decades later, as he's sitting with his wife, he thanks God for unanswered prayers.

Great song.

Terrible theology. Totally wrong. There is no such thing as unanswered prayers. God answers every single one of them. It’s just that we may not like God’s answers to our prayers.

God always answers our prayers in the following four ways:
• No – when our request is wrong, God says “No”. No is an answer. We just may not like hearing no. But if our request is wrong, God will not answer "No." Like, "No, James. You cannot dominate the world."

• Slow – when the timing is wrong, God says “Slow”. My son is 3 years old. Let's say he tires of playing with his toy cars and he says, "Daddy, I want a real car just like yours'." While my immediate answer may be "No," it is not a forever "No." It is only a temporary "No" because I fully expect him to have his own car and drive when he's old enough.

• Grow – when our motives are wrong, God says “Grow”. Even when the request is right, and the timing is right, if our motives are wrong, God will say, "Grow." I may ask God to use me as a leader for the church and the denomination to help grow the church. But if my motives are selfish and pride oriented, God will tell me, "Grow up James. Take some more time to grow deeper into the word."

• Go – when our request is right, and the timing is right, and we are right, God says “Go!” Now that's what I'm talking about! When our request is right, the timing is right, and our motives are right, God says, "GO FOR IT!"

God always answers prayers.

Thank God for that!

Aug 23, 2008

This is so Cool

I received an email today that I want to share. Normally I get a bunch of forwards that receives a cursory glance. But this one's really cool.

Beauty of Mathematics !!!!!!!

1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

Brilliant, isn't it?

And look at this symmetry:

1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

Now, take a look at this...


From a strictly mathematical viewpoint: What Equals 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been in situations where someone wants you to GIVE OVER 100%. How about ACHIEVING 101%? What equals 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help answer these questions:

If: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.

H-A-R-D-W-O- R- K
8+1+18+4+23+ 15+18+11 = 98%

K-N-O-W-L-E- D-G-E
11+14+15+23+ 12+5+4+7+ 5 = 96%

A-T-T-I-T-U- D-E
1+20+20+9+20+ 21+4+5 = 100%

THEN, look how far the love of God will take you:
L-O-V-E-O-F- G-O-D
12+15+22+5+15+ 6+7+15+4 = 101%

Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:
While Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, It's the Love of God that will put you over the top!

Aug 21, 2008

I've Been Ruined

Several weeks ago I went to Chicago to attend the Leadership Summit. I invited one of my closest friends to attend the conference with me. He has ruined me.

You see, instead of flying commercial, he asked if it would be okay to fly up to Chicago on his private jet. I thought, "If it's okay?" Sure dude! I'll sacrifice and fly in your private jet. But that experience has ruined me.

As I was sitting for hours at Dallas Fort Worth Airport due to a mechanical problem with the plane, as I was sitting in the plane for two more hours on the tarmac due to traffic control issues, even though I get upgraded to first class due to how much I fly, it's nothing like showing up at the airport minutes before my flight and not having to deal with the security hassles, checking the baggage, waiting for baggage, and having the rental car sitting there waiting for us, I will never be the same again.

That one trip has ruined me.

God help me.

Aug 20, 2008


Praxis - what is it? It's a word that describes the actions of a person that is consistent with their belief system.

John 1:23 talks about John the Baptist's purpose for his life. When the Jews sent priests and Levites to inquire about his activities, John quotes Isaiah to refer to himself. John understood something that every Christ-follower must come to terms with. He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'"

Here's the thing - by the way we live we can either make crooked the ways of the Lord or we can make His ways crystal clear to all around us.

There is great confusion about who God is and who Jesus is. Either, through our actions and choices, we demonstrate the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives and over creation, or we cloud this same message.

The simple truth is no one will ever come to know Jesus Christ and His supreme Lordship over creation on their own. The truth of this reality has to be demonstrated.

The confusion of Jesus' Lordship is due to the confusion of the Lordship of Jesus in the lives of Christ-followers.

I desire to make the Lordship over creation crystal clear through my life. And I pray that this is the desire of every single Christ-follower.

James <><
Check out what God is up to @

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Aug 16, 2008

Kindness that Leads to Repentance

Romans 2:4 ends with the phrase, "It's the kindness (of God) that leads to repentance."

This is huge. The way most of us "confront" sin is with judgment and self-righteous condemnation. I know we don't mean to. It just comes out that way. And everyone around us seems to know it - except us.

I really think we believe we know how to "hate the sin, but love the sinner."

But if the truth be told, we really are better at hating both the sin and the sinner. I know we don't mean to. It just comes out that way and everyone around us seems to know it - except us.

We are masters of being judgmental.

We are masters of self deception.

Listen to this quote from Jud Wilhite, pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas.

"There is someone I love, even though I don't approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughs and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me. There are plenty of things I do that I don't like, but if I can love myself without approving of all I do, I can also love others without approving of all they do."


Our goal is to lead sinners to repentance so that they can be transformed. But our method has been totally jacked.

What we need is to overwhelm the world with truth and grace. We need to live the type of life that is kind so that it will lead to repentance.

Man! Do I have a long way to go.

James <><
Check out what God is up to @

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Aug 15, 2008

Shut up and Show Up

Jesus said, "You are the light of the world.".

Then Jesus told the church, "Let your light shine before others so that when they see your good works, they will glorify the Father in heaven."

Christ-followers are better known for what we say than we are about being Christ-like.

It is not that saying the right things and speaking truth is not important. But to a world who has had plenty of opportunities to hear what the church has to say and distrusts the church because of how Christ-followers live, it is not more talk that is needed. What is needed is for Christ to show up through Christ-followers are where the non-Christians live.

That is why we are told to "Go!". Go into the world with the message and the hope of Jesus Christ. Show up in the work place. Show up in the neighborhoods. Show up in the schools. And stop with the talking. Be Christ-like in the real world. Show up wit Christ, live like Christ, talk like Christ, and do like Christ.

What our world needs is for Christ-followers to shut up and demonstrate the glory and the majesty of Jesus Christ through our deeds.

Shut up and show up Christians.

James <><

Check out what God is up to @

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Aug 14, 2008

A Profoundly Attractive Holiness

When we think of holiness, attractiveness is probably not the first word that comes to mind.

If there ever was a model of holiness, it is Jesus Christ. But what I find interesting about Jesus and the holy life He lived was that His holiness was supremely attractive to the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the swindlers, the thieves, the under belly of the society of Israel. And at the same time, His holiness was totally repulsive to the religious of His day - the Pharisees and the Saduccees.

And when I think about the life of holiness that I have been trying to attain, I think it's the type of life that the religious of today would approve of while the under belly of today's society would not. And the more I think about this, the more I wonder what is missing from my understanding of holiness.

How can I live my life in such a way that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ, while remaining totally open and attractive to the very people who need Jesus most? How was He able to live with, amongst, and in the community of sinners and remain totally distinct and at the same time attractive?

I don't know the answers to this question but I am convinced that's who the church today must become.

I'm afraid the church I know today is a church that the religious would like, a church that is mainly disconnected with the lives and sufferings of the people in this world, and a church that is not only irrelevant but is repulsive to those who don't know Jesus.

God help us change.

James <><
Check out what God is up to @

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Aug 13, 2008


We're all hypocrites - Christians and non-Christians, Buddhists, Muslim, Hindu, atheists, etc. If you are human, you are a hypocrite.

I don't say that proudly. I say that because it's true. There is not a single one of us whose life is perfectly in tune with their belief system.

The problem with Christians is not that we're hypocrites - it's that we give off the impression that we are some what more holy hypocrites than others are. Somehow, we give off an air of superiority that just smacks of elitism on top of hypocrisy. And that, my friends, royally stinks!

So whoever is reading this, please accept my apology as a Christ-follower. I am a hypocrite. I am not perfect - not even close. But I do love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I really do try to live my life in a way that is consistent with my Lord's teaching. But there are many times when I fail. My failure is not a failure of the One whom I worship. My failure is all mine.

If you are not a Christ-follower, please do not allow my failures, nor the failures of other believers get in the way of you discovering the incredible love that God offers through His Son Jesus Christ.

And if I or other Christians ever made you feel or believe that you were somehow inferior, please accept my sincere apology. I promise you that I will do my best to live how Jesus teaches me to live. I will fail. But I will never quit.

Communion - A Holy Privilege

In the last two weeks, I've had the incredible privilege of serving communion to two persons who have passed on to be with Christ Himself.

What an awesome privilege it is to serve and share communion. Every time we serve communion, we get to be the arms of God extending His love and we get to be the mouth of God offering the forgiveness of sins that can only come from Christ Himself.

You know, I don't know how people handle and process death when there is no hope for resurrection.

One man, who was dying of cancer that had spread through his entire body, was in tremendous pain. But as soon as we started praying and reading scripture, there was a peace that spread through his body. I could see the muscles and joints relaxing. He shared communion with me and prayed that God take him home soon. He was ready.

I also had the privilege of sharing communion with a woman. She was barely alert. I wasn't sure if she was going to be able to participate. She had difficulty breathing. We prayed and began reading scripture. We took communion together and prayed that God take her home soon, and that God grant peace to the family here.

It was a miracle. This woman who couldn't even open her eyes, after we had taken communion, prayed, and read scripture, she had the biggest smile on her face! She opened her eyes and muttered some words. But you should have seen her smile. It looked like heaven.

What an awesome privilege it is to be able to offer and share in the promises of Jesus Christ.

Aug 12, 2008

Spirit of Entitlement

On a regular basis we receive phone calls from people who ask the church for assistance. I am sure we're not alone in this. Many people are in need and God does call the church and Christ-followers to get engaged.

What gets me though is the spirit of entitlement that some people have. They act as if the sole purpose of the church is to help them. It's one thing to ask for assistance for help with meals or even some of the bills, but you should hear some of the laundry list of things call in to ask for - coke, rubbing alcohol, soups - but not pork, not chicken broth, not anything with this and that. And I know it's not for dietary reasons because they want ham, not bologna, not turkey, hot dogs, but not hamburger meat, etc. Things like that just drive me crazy.

And the craziest thing is, when we show up with food, and don't bring the cokes and the other stuff they "needed", I have been yelled at.

And it is those times that I need to remember why I was doing this in the first place - because the love of Christ compels me to. And it is for Christ, because of Christ, and Christ I was serving. It doesn't matter what the person does - when people are hungry, Christ fed them. Why? Because they were hungry.

The question I wonder about is where did this spirit of entitlement come from?

There is tremendous need around us. God calls us the church to engage and get involved with the poor.

We try to do that by working with agencies that are better suited and equipped to help people for the long haul. They are best suited to help people get back on their feet.

TPC currently partners with CCA with the Kid's Eat Free Program where thousands of meals have been served to kids who would have otherwise gone hungry this summer, we have offered our facility to CCA to send social workers to process and assess needs of families, monthly we have a group of people going up to Denton State School to love and spend time with adults with developmental disabilities.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is great need all around us.

I pray that God will grant to us the wisdom to know how best to start tackling the problems that our community faces.

Aug 9, 2008

Show Up, Get Your Orders, Execute and Obey

As always, the Leadership Summit was just an awesome experience.

God always focuses in on the very areas in my life and in my heart that need to be examined.

Catherine Rohr is the founder and the leader of Prison Entrepeneurship Program. She is a thirty-one year old woman who left everything to help convicts get a second chance in life. Her continuing story is so inspiring.

I definitely encourage anyone reading this to read about her story at

Faith life is not as complicated as we make it. Catherine Rohr said that faith life really boils down to the following: show up for work, get your orders for the day, then execute and obey. And when you do that, God things happen.

I love it.

Everyday that God allows us to wake up, we are called to show up for work, get our orders for the day and then execute and obey.

Here I am God. Give me your orders. I will execute and obey.

Aug 5, 2008

Christian Addicts

Those who are addicted to drugs live for their next high.

I've gotta get high man! I'm dying here. I need to get high.

They go from one high to the next - living in misery the entire time.

The way some Christians lives their lives is no different. Just listen to them sometimes.

"I really need this conference. I really need to go on this mission trip. I really need this retreat. I've been so down lately. I need a spiritual high."

Christianity is not about living in the spiritual high. True Christian discipleship is about knowing how to live both in the valleys and and dungeons and the highs of life. Christianity is about knowing how to live in the joy of the Lord that surpasses present circumstances.

That's the reason why Paul could write from the dungeon, "Rejoice in the Lord, and again I will say Rejoice!"

The reason why Paul could rejoice even in the dungeon was because the reason for his joy was not of this earth. His joy was in the Lord. And because His joy was Jesus Christ, no matter what life circumstances dealt him, he could always rejoice.

Spiritual highs are wonderful. But they don't last. Too many Christians associate discipleship with this emotion. And as long as we think Christianity is about how we're feeling at the moment we are no better off than the drug addict searching for their next high. Discipleship is discovering the key to living through all of life. And His name is Jesus Christ.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say rejoice!

Aug 3, 2008

Hmmm...Have to Think About That One. NOT!

I am going to the Leadership Summit in Chicago. I can't wait. It's always one of the highlights of the year for me.

I love being in a place filled with other leaders who desire to see the Kingdom of God kick butt.

This year I will be going to Chicago with one of my closest friends. I have invited him to go with me several times but this was the first time he was able to make some time. As we were planning our trip together he asked me, "Would you mind if we didn't fly commercially and took my private jet?"

Hmmm. This is a tough one. Let me think about this one.

Go through the hassle of parking, taking the shuttle to the terminal, waiting in line to check in, go through security, wait some more, get on a crowded and uncomfortable plane, wait for my luggage, etc.

Or get picked up at Addison and fly in comfort to Chicago.

This is a tough one.

I've never been on a private jet. Been on prop planes but this will be a first.

I am looking forward to seeing, hearing, and experiencing what God has in store for me at the Summit this year.

Aug 1, 2008

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Cool Book. Read it. It will help you think.

Discerning God's Will

Discerning God's will would be so much easier if the choices were between good and bad, black and white, Godly and ungodly. But rarely are choices that simple. Most of the time, when you're in the midst of trying to discern God's will, there seem to be ten different choices and all of them have some good and bad in them. All of them could be God's will. And all of them could be terrible decisions. The only way to know for sure is by hindsight. But that's never helpful when you're right in the thick of things trying to discern.

This doesn't mean that there is no hope and that the entire will of God thing is just chance.

Look at God's word for guidance. God will will not contradict what has already been revealed in God's word.

Look at God's character. God's will will not contradict God's character and nature as revealed in God's word.

Pray and fast. God will give you guidance and direction. And when you are praying and fasting, don't forget to listen. If you want to hear God's guidance you must listen.