Jul 30, 2009


Change is inevitable. Change will continue to happen.

When we don't change, it's because your dead. If you are alive, you are constantly changing.

The only way you can remain stagnant is if you're dead.

The church is in a state of flux. It must change. The only way to keep it from changing is to kill it.

We kill the church, the body of Christ, when we get stuck in your traditions and institutional ways.

We kill the church, the ministry and the mission of Jesus Christ, when our preferences take precedence over the mission and the ministry to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the millions of people who don't know him yet. When we allow our musical, liturgical, our personal preference a style of music to be the ultimate priority - that's IDOLATRY!!!

The only way to keep from changing is to die. And that simply will not be an option for me. Not until God calls me home. I will lead to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission and the ministry of Jesus Christ to declare the good news that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever should believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Jul 29, 2009

Pain and Growth

I have four children. I never had to tell my child to grow. They just did. As long as the child is healthy, that's what healthy children do - they grow. And the opposite is true. If there is disease or illness, the child will not grow.

But there's something interesting about growth. Growth only occurs through pain. We forget that.

As my children would hit their growth spurts where they would grow several inches in a matter of months, they would wake my wife and I up in the middle of the night because they were complaining that their bones hurt. That's what happens when the bones grow several inches in a matter of months - it hurts.

I have no idea how growth would have taken place had the fall never taken place. But ever since the fall, growth only occurs through pain.

But here's the thing: our culture is all about avoiding pain. And as a result, we've got a culture that is stunted in growth, a culture that is selfish and immature, a culture that is lost and refuses to take responsibility.

Growth can only occur through pain.
- That means at some point we have to learn to do the stuff we don't want to do because it's the right thing to do.
- That means that we have to learn to sacrifice for the good of our country and our community even though sacrifice hurts.
- That means that we learn to live selflessly and relearn what it means to be have a corporate identity before our individual identity.

And if we don't learn these things? Death is the result. Society and America as we know it will die.

That's what happens to civilizations and organizations when they become totally inwardly focused.

What happens when we learn to not only expect the pain of growth but welcome it? Health. Vitality. Life.

That's what we have to look forward to.

I don't know about the world and organizations you live in, but the world I live in, the church I worship in, the denomination I am a part of, and the country I live in could sure use health, vitality, and life about now.

Jul 25, 2009

Accountability Group Questions

Here are some great questions to ask in an accountability group setting.

John Wesley's Small Group Questions:

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?

4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work , or habits?

5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

6. Did the Bible live in me today?

7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

8. Am I enjoying prayer?

9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?

10. Do I pray about the money I spend?

11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

12. Do I disobey God in anything?

13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?

16. How do I spend my spare time?

17. Am I proud?

18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?

20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?

21. Is Christ real to me?

Wesley's Band Meeting Questions:

1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?

2. What temptations have you met with?

3. How were you delivered?

4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?

5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?

Reference: John Wesley's Class Meetings: a Model for Making Disciples, by D. Michael Henderson, Evangel Publishing House, 1997, pp. 118-9

Chuck Swindoll's Pastoral Accountability Questions:

In his book, The Body, Chuck Colson lists the questions used by Chuck Swindoll.

1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?

2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?

3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?

4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?

5. Have you given priority time to your family?

6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?

7. Have you just lied to me?

Neil Cole:

1. What is the condition of your soul?

2. What sin do you need to confess?

3. What have you held back from God that you need to surrender?

4. Is there anything that has dampened your zeal for Christ?

5. Who have you talked with about Christ this week?

HT: Journey

The questions from Church Multiplication Associates.

1. Have you been a testimony this week to the greatness of Jesus Christ with both your words and actions?

2. Have you been exposed to sexually alluring material or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate thoughts about someone who is not your spouse this week?

3. Have you lacked any integrity in your financial dealings this week, or coveted something that does not belong to you?

4. Have you been honoring, understanding and generous in your important relationships this past week?

5. Have you damaged another person by your words, either behind their back or face-to-face?

6. Have you given in to an addictive behavior this week? Explain.

7. Have you continued to remain angry toward another?

8. Have you secretly wished for another's misfortune so that you might excel?

9. Did you finish your reading this week and hear from the Lord? What are you going to do about it?

10. Have you been completely honest with me?

Jul 23, 2009

Right Where God Wants Us

God, our church finances stink! We are $45,000 below our bare-bones minimum budget.

The moral amongst the leadership is low.

The church has been stagnant in membership and attendance for the past three years.

We've got staffing issues, leadership issues, purity issues, holiness issues, issues, issues, issues.

The problems facing us seem so insurmountable that I feel deflated every time I think about them.

And you know what God? I think this is exactly where you want us to be - in a place where we have no where else but you. A place where we're going to have to do things your way, to rely on your power and your mercy if we're going to ever make it.

When things are going well, we forget that you are still the God who orchestrates all things.

We give you lip service by saying it's all for your glory, but we know that deep inside, we can't help but feel smug about how things have turned out under our leadership.

Well, look where we are now!

This is great!

Because if God doesn't act and intervene, this church is sunk! S U N K, sunk! Dead in the water. Close its doors.

But as we pursue Christ and His Kingdom, as we pursue His holiness and His righteousness, as we do church His way, God's going to bless the socks off this church.

And in order to do that, we must become a church that God can bless.

If you are a leader of Trinity and you are reading this, please listen. Get your life in order with God. Stop messing around with stuff that you know are wrong and unwise. Live your life excellently. Pursue Christ with all your heart. Lead excellently.

If you are a member of Trinity, know that everything you do and say is a reflection of Christ. Either our lives tell of the truth and the glory of God, or our lives tell of the folly and the ridiculousness of religion.

Please live your life worthy.

More than that, live your life passionately in pursuit of Jesus.

It's when we live like that, God will bless this church and use it to grow God's kingdom.

We are right where God wants us. Our actions and choices from this day forward will determine our future together. Let us choose wisely. Choose LIFE!!! Choose CHRIST!!!

Jul 20, 2009

Getting Spiritually Healthy

Getting and staying spiritually fit is a struggle and difficult.

- need to constantly watch what we put in our minds
- need to dilligently work at curbing our pride
- Avoid a bunch of stuff that seems tempting
- fill our lives with service

It's not easy being and getting spiritually fit.

But the alternatives to be spiritually healthy really stinks.
- going through the motions and trappings of religion, knowing that our prayers and praises won't fchange anything
- doing just what is necessary to look good in front of others while we allow our souls and our spirit to rot away
- living and joy-less, thank-less life

Getting and staying spiritually healthy doesn't happen by accident nor by good intentions. We will get spiritually healthy when we start applying spiritual sweat and discipline by taking action.

Aren't tired of wasting away as a Christian? Don't you want to come fully alive and live in the fulness of God's Spirit?

Start today by taking the initiative to get spiritually healthy.
1) Commit to reading and studying the Bible daily
2) Commit to praying daily
3) Commit to regular worship
4) Commit to regular serving and giving. Commit to tithing your time, talents, and finances

You won't regret it. It will be the best decision you've made in a long time.

So get to it!
James <><
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Jul 18, 2009

Getting Healthy

Getting healthy continues to be a struggle and difficult.

- I have to constantly watch what I eat,
- I need to get on the treadmill for an hour 4-5 days a week,
- I have to avoid a bunch of food I enjoy eating and eat foods I would have never chosen to eat before
- I take a bunch of medicine that I have to pay good hard cash for
- I have to poke my finger and monitor my blood sugar levels

It's not easy getting and staying healthy.

But the alternative kind of sucks. So I do what my doctors tell me to do.

That's just the way our spiritual lives and church life is like too.

Being spiritually healthy doesn't come easily. It takes tons of intentionality and lots of hard work.

Same goes with the health of a congregation.

But the alternatives to working at being healthy really stink. You wouldn't want to go there.

So as difficult as it is, get working on your spiritual health.

Tomorrow, I will blog about what sorts of things spiritual health requires.

James <><
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Jul 15, 2009

Good and Godly Leadership

I'm a coward at heart.

When I a difficult situation arises, my first gut reaction is "run away", ignore the problem. Maybe it will just go away.

But the thing is - it never does. Whatever you ignore will always come back to bite you in the end.

No matter how difficult, the problem must be confronted. It must be dealt with. It must be handled in a way that brings glory and honor to God.

Ignoring the situation will never make the situation better. It will only worsen the situation.

Good and Godly leadership is most needed and best demonstrated in the difficult situations. That's why God put you in leadership. That's what it means to lead.
James <><
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Jul 14, 2009

Preventing Burnout

Why do good people quit?

Why do God-loving people burnout to the point they don't even know if God is real?

Bill Hybels once commented, "the way I was doing the work of God was destroying the work of God in my life."

Can you relate to that?

We all know that we're only human. We all know that we ought to sleep more, rest more, play more, spend time with our loved ones more, and most importantly spend time with God more. We need these things because these are the things that charge us back up so that we are ready to give and serve again.

But we get so busy doing things for God that we begin neglecting the very things God has placed in our lives to rejuvinate us.

Friends, I want to serve God and be useful for the longhaul. No one expects you to be super human.

Commit to one area of ministry or service and do that excellently. Don't over commit.

Second, take good care of yourself. Invest your time wisely with your loved ones. Eat right. Exercise regularly.

Finally, don't ever compromise your personal time with God. He is the ultimate source of hope and life.

Let's be useful for the long-haul. The primary responsibility for preventing burnout lies with you and me.
James <><
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Jul 13, 2009

Don't Do It - Bad-Mouthing Others

It saddens me to hear when people put others down and speak negatively about others.

It saddens me because such talk is so damaging.

But more than that, it saddens me because the person bad-mouthing others is just as likely to bad-mouth about me too.

Such conversations are cancerous - it eats away at relationships and kills them.
And the saddest thing about is that most people who bad mouth others have no clue why they find themselves in cycles of negative relationships.

You've heard the old addage - if you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all.

That's a pretty good rule to live by.
James <><
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Jul 10, 2009

Emotionally Bankrupt

All us of walk around with a emotional bank account. For every neutral to positive encounter we have with someone a credit gets deposited into our emotional bank account for that individual.

But for every negative encounter we have with someone, 20 credits get deducted from our account for every negative encounter.

That's the reason why relationships that took years to build can be destroyed by one negative conversation or negative encounter. Imagine that - hundreds and thousands of positive and neutral encounters can be swept away by one negative encounter.

And when it comes to our relationships, most of us carry a negative balance with others. And that means most of us walk around emotionally bankrupt and wounded.

Church, by no means, is immune to this deficit.

So I am asking Christ-followers to watch what we say, be kind and gentle in how we treat others, create an environment where people can have their emotional bank accounts filled so they can be ready for the week. That's what the church should be.

That's my hope.

Get to church and filler' up!

James <><

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Jul 9, 2009

Do You Resemble Him?

As far as everyone else is concerned how much you love Jesus, or how well you know the Bible, or how long you've been going to church, what titles you might hold, how fervently you pray, or anything else that has to do with your personal relationship with Jesus Christ just doesn't matter.

The only thing that matters to the people around you is whether you resemble Jesus Christ in the way you relate with them - in how you respect and honor them, how you care for them, how you love them.

So the question is does our life resemble Jesus Christ or does our life betray Jesus Christ?
James <><
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Jul 8, 2009

Keeping Things Simple

We like to make things more complicated then they are.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is "What is God's vision or purpose for my life?"

And when people ask this question, I've never met anyone who thinks God's vision and purpose for their life is mediocre or mundane. Every Christ-follower I know believes that God has grand visions for their life.

And the thing is I believe that's true. I believe God has great plans for every single person who calls Him Lord and Savior.

But before we get to any of the big things, before God can entrust us with the great things in life, we need to first take care of the little things.

Here's what I mean.

There are three primary spheres in our lives we must first steward excellently in order that God can entrust with grander things. For if we fail in these primary things, we will not be ready to steward greater things.

The three spheres which we must manage first are: our relationship with God, our relationship with our family, and our relationship with others.

Whatever God's plan for our grand future, it must include our right relationship with God - our daily relationship with God through daily intake of God's word, keeping the Lord's day the Lord's way, serving others, stewarding God's resources of time, talents, and treasures through tithing, etc.

Secondly, whatever God may have in store for our grand future, it has to include right relationships with our family. Because I am a husband and a father to four, whatever God's plan for my future is, it must include me being a faithful and loving husband, a dad who lives with integrity and character, a son and brother who loves and honors my parents and sister. If my future doesn't include these things, it will not be God's plan.

Finally, I must steward my relationships with others excellently. If I cannot manage relationships with others in my life in a way that honors and glorifies God, God cannot entrust me with greater responsibilities.

Jesus said, those who can be trusted with little with be entrusted with much. It's when I can demonstrate that I can be a faithful steward in these primary spheres, that I become ready to take on more.

And when I start stewarding these areas excellently, other responsibilities and opportunities open up.

So keep it simple. Get busy stewarding your primary spheres of relationships so that you can grow into God's grand future for your life.

Jul 3, 2009

Birthday reflection

I am not really in to birthdays. Haven't been excited about my birthday since I was a kid.

But as I turn 41, this one is very different.

I am so incredibly thankful. I thank God for my wife, for my four children, mt extended family, my church, my friends, my health, for everything God has given me - I am thankful.

For all intents and purposes, I should not be alive. I could have easily died. Had it not been for the doctors and the open heart surgery, I should be dead.

So here I find myself a day before my birthday incredibly grateful - not so much to be alive, but because God has so incredibly blessed my life. Thank you God. Thank you for everything.

And the greatest news is that because of what God has done, the blessings are for eternity.

And friends, whether you've had a life and death experience, isn't this true of each of our lives?

Remember how blessed we all are.

Have a blessed day.
James <><
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