Mar 31, 2010

Change of Plans

Who knew???

When I checked the weather forecast for Yellowstone, the highs were in the low 30s and lows were in the single digits. The park is open but most of the attractions, all of the park centers and restaurants are closed because the park is still covered in snow.

And since all of our winter heavy coats have now been packed away by the movers - ooops! - we have a change of plans.

I was going to take my kids to Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore on our way to move the family up to the Pacific Northwest. But, I didn't know it was still stinking that cold! Who knew???

It's never that cold in Texas in April!!!

So, we have had to make some changes.

Instead of going up north, we are now going to go to San Francisco, The Redwood National Park, and then drive up on 101 all the way into Washington and see the sites along the way.

We're still going to have a blast and we're still going to get to see some awesome sites.

So it's all good.

Prayers appreciated

For those of you who read my blogs and updates, prayers for my wife and kiddos are appreciated and coveted.

Helen is getting the house ready to hand over to the buyers, getting the house ready for the packers and the movers, getting four kids ready for a move to a new city and state all by herself.

As many of you know, I moved up to the state of Washington in late January to start my new ministry at the Little Church on the Prairie in Lakewood while Helen and the kids stayed in Texas until the house sold. Had our house sold and closed on any other weekend than Easter weekend I would have been in Dallas to help my family, but because we are closing on Easter weekend Helen and the kiddos are having to do all this without me.

As you can imagine, this is putting huge pressure on my wife and the kiddos. So as I prepare for Easter in Washington, I am asking for your prayers for my wife and my kiddos.

Thank you in advance for your prayers.


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Mar 29, 2010

It's Not How Long You Live, It's How Much Life You Live

Brandon just turned eleven before the tumor that he's been battling since he was four finally took his life.

This past week, I attended three memorial services. As a pastor, I have the privilege of being with folks both at the very beginning of life and as people draw their last few breaths.

I've been thinking about the events of the past week and I can't help but wonder how anyone could think that life is only about what happens here in this world for the few years of our existence. How can people not see that God created us with a soul that's supposed to live forever.

How could we possibly think that there was no life until that baby breaks the threshold of mommy's body? That life didn't start for that baby until she was born?

And how could it be that a person who was living and breathing could, just like that, in moments be gone forever? As if there is no soul and no eternal life?

Is that what life is? Merely the days and years we spend breathing and living in this world?

We know in our gut that there is more because God created every single person with a soul. The body we live in now is only a temporary structure. Our souls live on forever - either in the presence of God or forever apart from Him.

Here's what Brandon taught me this week. That life is not about how long you live - but all about how much life you live. Brandon might have only lived for 11 years, but that boy truly lived. He lived for more than himself. He lived to make a difference. He impacted lives wherever and whenever he was. And now, because Jesus is his Lord and Savior, Brandon continues to live forever more in the presence of God.

Brandon, I never got to know you in person. But hearing your stories inspired me. And even though you may not be here on planet earth, you still go on impacting lives through Christ's story in you.

Looking forward to the day when I will see you again. And the next time, we'll have all of eternity.

Mar 26, 2010

The Church - Solutions?

The other day, I retweeted a post from Simple Church that said, "The Church, as a whole, is doing more and more. And the church, as a whole, is making less and less of a difference."

I've received several comments and emails about what I think might be the solution to the issue of the church making more of a difference.

While I don't claim to have "the" answers or be any sort of an expert on the issue of solving the problems of the church's relevance in a post-modern, post-denominational, post-Christian world, I do think there are some things for us to consider.

  • If it ain't working, stop!!! We're wasting people's time, talents, and finances. If whatever it is we're currently doing that's not producing the results we want to experience - STOP!!! 
  • Get strategic. Know what it is that we are trying to produce, and if it's not producing the results, then don't do those things anymore.
  • Make the vision crystal clear. What is it that your church has been called to be and do?
  • Ask. Ask the people in our communities how we might partner with them to find solutions to the issues that ails our communities - homelessness, poverty, hunger, single parents, isolated and alienated aging and ailing senior citizens, etc.
  • Pray. God really does answer prayer. Seriously. Pray. Get the church to pray.
Before we do things for the sake of doing things, I think a time to pray, evaluate, listen, and plan would be highly beneficial for all of us.

God's placed our churches for a reason - and that reason can't be become a totally irrelevant relic in the community. So I believe that God has a plan and purpose for us being here. I believe that God wants us to be effective. That means that God has a solution to the issues we've been dealing with. 

It's time for us to pray, listen, evaluate, and plan.

As Forrest Gump once said, "That's all I want to say about that."

Mar 23, 2010

Are We As Passionate about Jesus as We Are About Health Care Reform?

It's been interesting, fun, frustrating, encouraging reading the opinions of folks regarding the National Health Care Reform debate on Facebook and Twitter.

Regardless of where one stands on this issue, everyone seemed to have an opinion and very few seemed shy about sharing it.

Christians on both sides have been just as engaged in the dialogue as anyone.

Here's the thing - it's good that we have opinions on things. It's good that people are passionate.

But when's the last time the Christian community was as vocal, articulate, passionate, and clear about proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ?

Regardless of what the Democrats or the Republicans, or President Obama does, God is still in control.

Regardless of what happens in the life of politics, people will always need Jesus. And the reality is that more and more of our friends, neighbors, and family do not have a clue to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And as I've been reading the comments on Facebook and Twitter from Christians regarding Health Care Reform, I couldn't but help but wish that we Christians could be as and even more passionate about the incredible news of a God who loves us enough to bear the cross of Calvary, descend into hell, and overcome death for us.

I know we can do it. Because I've been reading incredibly clear, passionate, and articulate views about Health Care Reform. Let's take that same passion, same clarity, same urgency about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Now, wouldn't that be something?
James <><
twitter @JamesKimLCOP
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Mar 22, 2010

House Search Update

After a week searching for a house for my family to move into, we are back to square one.

We didn't find a house that we wanted to purchase so we settled on renting a house. We thought we had the perfect house to rent that was close to church. It was perfect for my family camp out in the school district we wanted for our children - so we thought. The physical address for the house was located in University Place, but the school zoning had our children attending schools that have one of the lowest ratings in the area.

I just dropped off Helen at the airport and she's on her way back to Texas, and we don't have a place.

The plan is to keep searching for a place to rent. If that doesn't pan out, then we will have to store our furniture in storage with the movers, and we will move into our uncle's home in Federal Way until we can find a place to rent or buy.

It's not so bad. We still have a place to camp out while we look for our perfect house.

Federal Way is only 20-25 minutes from church.

So that's where we are.

God knows what we need and what is best for my family. That's a great place to be cuz God knows best!

Mar 21, 2010

Thank you God!

Helen and I had one week to find a house. We were not able to find a house to buy. There wasn't a house where we felt like was "our" house. While I hate the thought of having to move twice, the thought of being stuck with a house we don't like is even worse.

Whether we found a house here or not, we are still closing on the house in Texas on March 31 and the movers are coming that day to pack up our house. We needed to find something for our family.

Helen and I were trying to figure out what to do on Friday afternoon when we received an e-mail from a couple who are renting their home. Helen and I had sent some emails to people who were renting out their homes and this couple emailed us. We went and checked out the house, and while it's a bit smaller than we had hoped, it's a perfect house for us to rent.
- it's only 3 miles from church
- it's in a good neighborhood
- it's in a good school district
- it's a very clean house
- the land owners are Christians

God led us to this home. This gives us the time to find a home to purchase.

God's awesome like that. I have every confidence that we will find just the right house in time.

For now, we have a place where the Kim family can call home. And for that we say, "Thank you Lord!"
James <><
twitter @JamesKimLCOP
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Mar 18, 2010

Introductions at Olympia Presbytery

A great day at the presbytery.

Those words typically don't go together - "great day" and "at the presbytery". But for today, that's exactly what it was.

A gang of about a dozen people made the 90 mile drive down to the presbyterian church in Kelso for my introduction to Olympia Presbytery.

Joan Frasier delivered an inspiring speech to introduce me to the presbytery. I was so encouraged and inspired by her words. Her words made me want to get on board and start doing stuff for Jesus!

I know that many others had wanted to make the trip but weren't able. And I know that many were praying for me this afternoon.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

God has a reason for bringing us together at this time. God will change and impact lives. God will bless our community. You have a role to play in God's kingdom. So let's get busy with the ministry and the mission of Jesus Christ through the Little Church on the Prairie!!!

James <><
twitter @JamesKimLCOP
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Mar 17, 2010

House Hunting - To Panic or Not Panic

It's Wednesday evening. We've got two days left to find a house, and tomorrow I have to be at a Presbytery meeting in Kelso, Washington because I am being introduced to the presbytery. That means there's really only Friday left.

Ok. There is a small part of me that's wanting to panic. We are closing on the house on April 2 and we've got to move the family up here whether we have a house ready or not. By the end of this week, Helen and I have to either have a rental or a house that we are going to move into.

Right about now, panic seems about right.

But here's the thing: panic won't do me any good. Helen and I have to keep our heads so we can make a good decision. But more important than that is the confidence that God already has the perfect house picked out for us. Helen and I have to wait until God makes that clear for us. And the timing will be perfect too. I know that this will all work out the way God wants it to work out. So, there's no use panicking.

That's the good thing about having a God like my God as your God. He's gonna hook me up.

Now. I've got to get some work done cuz I've been running around all over town the last two days looking at houses.

Mar 16, 2010

Shutter Island - Well Worth Your Time

My wife and I saw "Shutter Island" tonight. I am about 3/4 of the way finished with the book and was curious about the movie because it has been getting some good reviews.

Without spoiling the ending of the movie or the book, I can tell you that both the book and the movie is well worth your time. It will keep you guessing and wondering all the way to the end, and even beyond that. The movie and the book is entertaining because of the excellent story line. The movie is a pleasure to watch because it is brilliantly acted. Scorsese did a marvelous job of adapting the book.

This is one of the better movies I've seen in a while. You won't be disappointed.

I was a little weary of the movie being too violent or gruesome because of the trailers I'd seen, but am happy to report that with the exception of the flash back war footage of the concentration camp, the trailer showed pretty much the scariest scenes.

What sells this movie and keeps you entertained throughout is the story. And that's a real treat when movie makers today seem to think that what sells movies is CG, sex, violence, and mind numbing special effects. I appreciate a well told intelligent story that keeps you guessing.

James <><
twitter @JamesKimLCOP
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Mar 11, 2010


"Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it" Joshua 7:11-13.

You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.

Aren't you curious what "it" is? If God tells you that the reason for your suffering, the reason for your losses, the reason for your devastation is because of "it". And if you remove "it" the curse too will be lifted, wouldn't you want to know with everything you have what "it" is?

I know I would be.

This passage is the story of Achan. You see, the Israelites just got done destroying Jericho - remember Jericho, march around the city for seven days and on the seventh day blow the trumpet and shout and the walls would come tumbling down. Remember the story of Rahab the prostitute and how she saved the spies of Israel and in return she and her family was saved.

You can read all about it in Joshua chapters 5 and 6. 

When the Israelites routed Jericho, God gave specific instructions of how the Israelites were to destroy everything and everyone. Only the gold and silver, and articles of bronze and iron were to be saved for the treasury of the house of God.

But someone cheated. They kept some of the items dedicated to God for themselves.

And as a result, the Israelites - who just got done defeating one of the greatest cities of the time in Jericho - just got their butts whooped by Ai. This would be the same as the British Armed forces defeating the Russian Army and then getting their butts whooped by Angola. 

And the reason why the Israelites were routed? Well, because of "it". They had stolen from God. They had sinned against God.

And here's the thing. God says that the reason for the suffering and pain in our world is because of "it", and as long as "it" stays around we will never be able to defeat our enemies, then why aren't we doing everything we can to get rid of "it"?

That's a great question.

So, who don't you do something about "it" today?

Mar 10, 2010

Growing Up

The saying goes, "Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is a choice."

The days where the church could keep on keeping on because people just showed up are long gone. Who knows, they may have never existed.

But what is absolutely true for the church of today is that it is not enough for Christians to just show up to church - Christians must grow up.

God doesn't call Christians to merely show up and remain babies in their spiritual maturity and commitments. God calls Christians to grow up in their faith.

So the question is, "What does a maturing Christian look like?" What are they doing? What are some common traits about maturing Christians?

While the following traits/habits does not mean that these things equals a mature Christian, the reverse is absolutely true: one cannot be a maturing Christian who is not regularly practicing these things.
1) Commitment to regular worship
2) Commitment to daily reading of the Bible
3) Commitment to regular prayer
4) Commitment to regular Bible Study
5) Commitment to service
6) Commitment to tithing financially

Or put another way, a maturing Christian is a Christian who is worshiping, giving, serving, and committed to a devotional life.

So which of these elements do you need to improve so that you can be a part of the greatest thing on earth called the church of Jesus Christ to impact the world around you?

James <><
twitter @JamesKimLCOP
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Mar 6, 2010

Family Time

Spent a full day with the family for the first time in 6 weeks. Been away from the wife and kiddos as they've been in Dallas while I've been working at the Little Church in Lakewood, WA.

Being by myself was "fun" and novel for about a week and then it got really old very quickly. The only good thing about being away like this is that it reminds you of how much you love each other.

I arrived in Dallas after being at the Reforming Ministries meeting at Austin Theological Seminary from Monday to Wednesday, and then from the Board meeting of Presbyterians for Renewal in Edmond, Oklahoma Wednesday to Saturday.

It's been a busy and full week. There were days when I wasn't sure what day of the week it was or even what city I was in.

But the best part of the week has been today. I arrived in Dallas at noon and have been hanging out with my family all day. I've missed being with them soooooo much. We haven't done anything out of the ordinary. It's been an absolutely beautiful normal day:
- lunch
- a family walk around the park
- piano lessons
- trip to the library
- dinner at home
- video games with the little man

Man! I have missed being with my family.
It just feels good to be a whole family unit again.

I get to hang with the family until Monday night. I will be catching the last flight to Seattle. Til' then, I plan on doing a whole lot more of normal family stuff with my family.

The end is in sight.

Helen will be coming up to Lakewood soon to look for houses.

And we will be moving the family in the first week of April. It will be great to have everyone together again on a permanent basis.

James <><
twitter @JamesKimLCOP
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Mar 3, 2010

Idiot Savants

Idiot savant is a French word meaning "learned idiot". Eugene Peterson talks about the first time he came across this word when he was a boy in his book "Jesus Way."

Peterson writes:
One of the chores to which my friend was routinely assigned by his parents was what they called "riding fence." It was mindless work: he simply rode his horse along the barbed wire fence that enclosed the cattle, who were always, it seems. Looking for breaks or weaknesses. When he found one he repaired it...

He told me that cattle are the dumbest members of the entire livestock family, animals of "little brain." But in one thing they are absolutely brilliant: they have a genius for finding a hole or weak place in a fence. And the moment they find it they are through it, leading their sister cows and brother bulls after them into dangerous terrain where they have no skills for protecting themselves or avoiding calamity. You then have to spend the next two or three days rounding them up and returning then to where they belong and be kept alive.

I never knew human beings and cattle had so much in common: idiot savants.

James <><
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