Jul 28, 2010

How to Deal with Jerks

I recently wrote about my experience at the worst JERK - with a capital "J" - doctor's office experience ever in the history of humankind (I sometimes exaggerate). I'll do both of us a favor and not repeat the story as you can read it in yesterday's blog.

However, that experience got me thinking about how Christ-followers should deal with jerks. You know you're going to run into a Jerk at some point so how's a Christ-follower supposed to handle those situations?

So here's my take on the things to keep in mind when confronting Jerks.

First, a Jerk will be a Jerk, but that doesn't mean you have to be one too, because acting like a Jerk will make you a Jerk.

There's no doubt about it, the guy royally ticked me off. I haven't been that angry in a long, long time. His actions and behavior was so unprofessional. It was inexcusable.

And because of that interchange, I found myself driving like a maniac, ticked off and thinking about what just occurred, ready to bite the head off the next person I come across, etc. And you know what? I was allowing the Jerk to continue bothering me!!! and he wasn't even there anymore.

And had I continued behaving in that manner, I would have been a Jerk myself to the people I was meeting and seeing for the rest of the day. That just wouldn't do.

A Jerk will be a Jerk, but that doesn't mean you have to be one too, because acting like a Jerk will make you a Jerk.

So, this brings us to the second point: Don't let a Jerk ruin the rest of your day because if you do, you'll not only be a Jerk but a Dork for letting a Jerk jerk you around.

He already ruined a portion of your day. Don't give the Jerk more power by letting him ruin the rest of your day. Move on already. There's too much life to be living to allow a Jerk to ruin the rest of your day.

One of the most powerful thing you can do when encountering Jerks is to not let them control the rest of your day. Move on. Get over it. Better yet, start living life as if the Jerk encounter never occurred.

Don't let a Jerk ruin the rest of your day because if you do, you'll not only be a Jerk but a Dork for letting a Jerk jerk you around.

Finally, pray for Jerks.

Who knows. Maybe the guy was having a terrible day. After you're ready to move on with your day, pray for him because we've all had days when we were a royal Jerk. Very few people are Jerks 24/7.

Here's to praying that you have a Jerk free day, but if you do encounter one, I hope you remember:
1) Just because a Jerk is a Jerk, doesn't mean you have to be a Jerk too.
2) Don't let a Jerk ruin the rest of your day because if you do, you'll not only be a Jerk but a Dork for letting a Jerk jerk you around.
3) Pray for Jerks - because, if truth be told no one is a Jerk 24/7 and we've all been a Jerk.

Jul 27, 2010

Need a New Doctor!!!

I just got done totally wasting three hours. And I am furious!!!

I had an appointment scheduled for 2:40pm with Dr. Nathan Ross at FMG Endrocrine Consultants Northwest.

I showed a few minutes early for the appointment. Within five minutes, one of the nurses ushered me into one of the back offices. After asking me a few questions, the nurse left saying that the doctor would be in shortly.

An HOUR passed and still nothing. I walked outside to ask what was going on and they said that the doctor would be with me shortly.

Another 20 minutes passes.

By then, I had been waiting for over an HOUR and TWENTY minutes. So I asked the guy, "Does it always take an hour and 20 minutes to see you? Because if it does, I need to find a new doctor."

At which point the jerk turns around and walks out of the office. No apology. No explanation. He just walked out.


And I am supposed to pay the guy my money so I can sit around waiting for him and to be treated with disrespect like that?

I don't think so.

So, I am looking for a new endocrinologist. If you know of a good doctor, I am in the market for one.

Jul 26, 2010

Kim Family Adventures at Mt Rainier

What an absolutely gorgeous day in the Pacific Northwest!

The Kim family went on a picnic and hike to Mount Rainier National Park with Jee who's been visiting from San Francisco.

We went on a short hike to the foot of Narada Falls.

The mist coming off the falls was a perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day in the mountains.

The beauty of the mountains was the perfect reminder of how awesome our God is.

It makes you wonder how anyone can look at the views around this world and not see a Creator.

Fred Hoyle is a Cambridge astronomer. He says, "the possibilities of life arising spontaneously through mere chance has been calculated as being 1 x 10.40, which likens to the probabilities of a tornado blowing through a junkyard and forming a Boeing 747."

On these beautiful summer days, look around and enjoy the beauty around you.

But as you look at the beauty around you, remember the One who created it all.

And just as God created all the beauty around us, remember this: God created you. And because God loves you so much, God filled this world with everything you and I would ever need to make life full.

Have a blessed day!

Jul 23, 2010

Preaching/Worship - AWESOME!!!

Fridays are my days to work on my sermons.

I've been thinking about the whole sermon and worship thing. It's AWESOME!!!

Just think about this for a moment. Every week, I get to be a spokesperson for God.

Every week, God gets to connect with people who are hurting, searching, people who need to be encouraged and inspired, people who are needing God to intervene, for God to show up in their lives. And I get to be one who participates in God showing up.


What a holy privilege.

And that's the thing about worship. It's not just a thing Christians do once a week. It's the appointed time where God promises to show up and connect with people right where we are. And because God connects with us, we know that we are not alone, that there is a plan and purpose to our lives and our existence, that we are being called and gathered by a God who desires to change the world.


God is so good.

If you are reading this, get to a house of worship this weekend. Worship God and you'll never be the same.

Jul 21, 2010

My Office - Where I Spend Most of My Time

Here's a couple of pics of my office. This is where I work and spend most of my days.

Blogger, Posterous, WordPress, Typepad...

So many options. So many choices.

I have been playing with the different blog hosts to see if I might change.

I like how easy Blogger is but I don't like how limiting the creative and personalization options are.

Moving to a different blog host would mean a pretty steep learning curve at the start but I think it would give me more options to personalize my blog space.

Will see.

Jul 20, 2010


Don Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best in the world. He's a veteran with special training that enables him to steal secrets hidden in people's minds by invading their dreams. No one else can do what he does, as well as he does.

Since his days in the military, he's been offering his services to the highest bidder as an expert in corporate espionage.

But now, his skill has him on the run - running for his life, running to get his life back, running away from his own dreams, running so he can dream.

An unknown enemy seems to be able to read his every move. And yet this enemy offers him what he desires the most - his life back as he knows it.

But getting his life back will cost him. He is asked this time not to steal an idea but to plant an idea in the mind of another person so that they believe that the idea is their own - thus the name of the movie "Inception". However, this is not as easy as stealing an idea that's already in someone's mind. In order for someone to believe and be convinced that the implanted idea is their own, they have to believe that they were the originators of that idea. How one does that is what makes this offer so difficult. Yet, should he be able to pull this off, Don Cobb can clear his name of murdering his own wife and get back to his children.

If you are looking for a movie that's going to make sure all the loose ends tie neatly together, this isn't it.

However, if you are interested in a moviegoing experience that will keep you on your toes and, yes, even mess with your mind of reality, you'll enjoy Inception.

This is one of those movies that had me wanting to see the movie over again just so I can pick up on things I had missed the first time and to help me process everything that was going on in the movie. Think Ususal Suspects, Sixth Sense - although I don't think Inception is neither as clever nor as good as the above mentioned films.

Inception is about two and half hours, but in the end, it didn't seem long enough.

Inception is a movie that simultaneous takes place on four planes of reality. It is a mind-bending saga of a man trying to put his life back together.

You can read about the summary of the movie on other sites. In many ways, the theme of this movie reminded me of DiCaprio's last movie - Shutter Island, but this one is not as gruesome or scary.

Inception is entertaining, and what's more, it's got my imagination. So, I'm going to see the movie again to see the things I missed the first time.

Jul 18, 2010

If You Don't Bring It, It Won't Be Brought

Nothing happening today is catching God off guard.

God is not panicking because of the violence, the broken homes, the broken hearts.

God, in his perfect sovereignty knew at this particular time, our family, our spouse, our children, our church, our community would need God to intervene. So God created you with your exact gifts, your particular talents, your particular abilities and temperament for your particular place in life so that he can meet those needs through you.

Just let that sink in.

Because you and I are uniquely gifted and because we have been uniquely fashioned, there is a ministry and service that only you and I can do with God's help. Should you or I choose not to serve God, there will be a hole left by our absence that can never be replaced.

Only you can do what you were created to do.

Here's what this means: The church is only fully vital, fully vigorous when every Christ-follower engages and serves Christ through their lives.

Simply put, if you don't bring it, it won't be brought!

Now, let that sink in.

Rick Warren, in his book, "Purpose Driven Life" says it like this:

We don't realize how truly unique each of us is. DNA molecules can unite in an infinite number of ways. The number is 10 to the 2,400,000,000th power. That number is the likelihood that you'd every find somebody just like you. If you were to write that number with each zero being one inch wide, you'd need a strip of paper 37,000 miles long!

When God made you, He broke the mold. There has never been, and never will be, anyone exactly like you.

Christian! Engage! Serve! Give God your service and let God change the world through you!

Now, let that sink in.

Jul 16, 2010

There is No One Alive Who is You-er than You! - A Great Reminder from Dr. Seuss

A wonderful reminder from one of my all time favorite author, theologian, philosopher, wise-men - Dr. Seuss.

If you’d never been born, well then what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!…
Or worse than that…Why, you might be a wasn’t.
A wasn’t has no fun at all.  No, he doesn’t.
A wasn’t just isn’t.  He just isn’t present.
But you…You ARE YOU!  And, now isn’t that pleasant!…
Today you are you!  That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!”
Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham
Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!…
I am what I am!  That’s the great thing to be![i]

[i] Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You! 1959

Me? Rich???

Let me ask you a question - are you rich?

Most Americans would never admit that they are rich. But if you make over $34,000/year, that puts you in the top 5% of the world's income earners. Compared to 95% of the people living on the planet earth, we are rich.

What would it take for us to be rich? How would we know when we've moved from being one of the middle class to finally make it to the rich club? And how would one know when that happened?

The Gallop organization polled people regarding this topic and here's what they found. "Among those who earned $30,000 or less, a household income of $74,000 was 'rich.' For those who earned between $30,000 - $50,000, it took $100,000 a year to be rich."

But here's the thing. If you were to ask people making $74,000 a year if they were rich, no one would claim they were rich. I mean, they have mortgages to pay, kid's college and tuition, car payments, credit card debts. These folks live in neighborhoods where plenty of people make more than $74,000 a year.

And if you were to ask the people who earn $100,000 a year if they were rich, I don't think they would say they were rich either.

In fact, I don't think those who make a million a year would say that they were rich. Because they know plenty of people who make more money than they do.

In fact, the really rich crowd say that one would need to have everything paid off and have an asset of at least $5 million dollars that was generating at least $200,000/year to be rich.

But I bet you, if you were to ask those people if they thought they were rich, most of them would say that there are far more rich people.

So again, the question is, When does someone become rich? When does someone cross that mysterious line that separates all of us from the rich?

And here's why this question is so important - AS LONG AS WE DO NOT SEE OURSELVES AS RICH, WE WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED.

And if we are never satisfied, we will never be content. And if we are never content, we will never be happy.

This must be why we're surrounded by such grumpy people all the time!

There is nothing wrong with striving to better your situation. But until we come to understand that our worth is not based on how much money we make, but how much life we make, we will always be a nation of unhappy miserable people. It's not about how much stuff, but how much life we make by adding value to the people around us that counts.

The magic line separating the rich is not defined by dollars, but the lives that we were able to touch by adding value to them.

So, let's be rich. Add value to your spouse. Add value to your children. Compliment them. Tell them how much you love them. Add value to your neighbor and coworker. Go out of your way to be kind and respectful. When we live like that, we are rich - and the smiles around us will prove it.

And you can take that to the bank!

Jul 14, 2010


You don’t need me to tell you that life can be pretty darn crazy sometimes. The pace of life today is dizzying. Everyone seems to be in a hurry to get from here to there, and from there to here.

How are Christ-followers to live a life that is centered on Christ in the midst of such a busy and harried world?

Here are four words to remember: Stop, Pray, Wait, and Go!


The first thing to remember for Christ-followers is that everyday we need to set aside some time to stop.

I can already hear some of you clamoring, but you have no idea how busy my days are.

Yes. That’s even more reason to take some time to stop.

Something wonderful happens when we stop – when we stop, we can finally start seeing things as they really are. We begin to see things more clearly. We can start seeing the things that are really important and the things that really can wait.

But there’s something even more important than seeing things that happens when we stop. When we stop we can begin seeing how God’s at work and what God deems to be important.

So, particularly when things get busy, remember to take time to stop.


The second thing is we need to pray. We don’t stop for merely the sake of stopping. We stop so we can pray. We pray because we don’t need our own ideas on how to fix things. More often than not, when we try to fix things in our way, things get worse. What we need is an expert opinion. What better expert opinion than seeking guidance from God himself? So when Christians stop, we stop to pray.


The third thing is Christians wait!

It’s so funny. Christians think we’re done after we’ve prayed.

Think about this. We pray because we believe God answers. And doesn’t it follow that if God answers prayers that we would have the decency to give God the opportunity to actually speak to us?

Praying isn’t just saying a bunch of stuff to God. Praying is also listening.

And listening requires for us to Stop, Pray, and Wait.


Finally, this brings us to Go.

For what it’s worth, I think this is the most important aspect of the Christian life.

The reason why we Stop, Pray, Wait and listen is so that when God speaks, we act in accordance with what God tells us to do.

Isn’t that the whole point of the Christian life?

When God does speak, we need to Go! We need to act. It may very well be things that we don't particularly feel like doing. It often times is confronting things in people and me that I would rather avoid. But, what's the point of praying, waiting and listening, if we’re not going to do anything?

Final thing is that we must act. We've got to go.

Friends. As you seek to follow hard after Christ, remember these four words: STOP, PRAY, WAIT, and GOOOOOOO!

Sovereignty of God and Membership

Since I've been home from the General Assembly of the PC(USA), I have had several conversations that go something like this.

"I am so glad that things didn't tank at the GA. If they had, I would be looking for a new church right now."

"Had the GA voted to change both the ordination standards and changed the definition of marriage to 'two people' instead of between a 'man and a woman', that would have been the last straw for our church. We would have left the denomination."

I thank God that we are not in a crisis moment with the denomination. I thank God that this no-anxious time provides us the opportunity to consider what we understand about a sovereign God and church membership both as an individual and as a church.

The first thing that we can assert is that God is sovereign. God is omniscient. God is omnipotent. There is nothing happening today that is "shocking" God and catching him by surprise.

Not only that, but our God who is sovereign, omniscient, and omnipotent placed us in our particular churches and in our particular denomination for a reason. This is not by accident nor merely our own choosing.

In a consumeristic and individualistic society like ours, it may seem and feel like it was purely our decision to join a church or denomination, and if we're not happy with either our church or denomination, it is our choice to leave. But if we truly believe that God is sovereign, then it really is not up to us to choose. It is not our choice to make. God placed us in our church and in our denomination much like how we were placed in our families.

Sure, like all families, we've got our issues and dysfunctions. However, they in and of themselves do not give us enough reason to leave. Unless God tells us to leave, it is not up to us to choose to stay or leave.

Until God makes it crystal clear that it is time to leave, what we are all called to do is to make where we are better. We ought to make our church a better church and our denomination a stronger denomination that unabashedly proclaims and demonstrates the glory of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, it seems odd to me that people are so readily thinking about leaving when most of the biblical examples of errors in the life of the church points to those who are orthodox correcting and disciplining those who are in error. And sometimes that discipline and correction requires for those who are in the church to exercise discipline by expelling those who are in error. However, I have a hard time finding examples in the Bible of people who leave when things don't go their way or when things aren't to their liking.

Does that mean then there are never any good and Godly reasons to leave a church or denomination?

Of course not. There are times when it is necessary to do so.

However, what I am challenging and arguing against is the proclivity of so many who seem to have leaving as a default mode whenever things don't go "our" way. Leaving ought to be one of the last resort options.

Our main role is to continue to maintain orthodoxy and orthopraxy right where God has us. If we are to leave our churches or denomination, I believe God would make that clear.

Jul 13, 2010

Ready for Some Wisdom?

In my devotional readings I came across a strange passage.

"Let a righteous man strike me - it is kindness; let him rebuke me - it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it." Psalm 141:5

In our generation, we would say that striking anyone for any reason is always a bad idea. And I agree with that.

Then, what in the world could the Bible have in mind when it says "Let" a righteous man strike me - it is kindness? How can striking someone and rebuking someone be kindness?

First of all, the Bible is not advocating violence.

What the Bible is advocating is wisdom. There is so much wisdom that can be learned and gained for those who are younger and less wise from those who are righteous. What better way to learn about how to live a life that is pleasing to God, a life that is fruitful than to learn it from someone who is righteous and someone who's already been living this life?

I think my generation's issue is that we insist on living life according to our own rules and our own standards. We are so bad about listening to wisdom. We insist on making all our own mistakes. And that is a tragedy. That is so unwise.

What the Bible is trying to teach us is that we can either let life smack us around or we can humble ourselves and let the righteous teach us how best to live life.

What a genuine gift it would be to have the righteous show us when we are wrong and when we have gone off track so that before something tragic can happen, we can make the necessary corrections.

In order for this to happen, we need enough humility to seek such guidance, and secondly enough wisdom to accept such rebuke and correction when it is given in love by the righteous.

So how about it? Ready for some wisdom?

Jul 10, 2010

Home Sweet Home

After ten days in Minneapolis, made it home.

So good to see my family.

Looking forward to worshiping with the Little Church family.

In the days to come, I will write about my reflections from GA.

For now, I'm just glad to be home. I'm going to hang out with the family for the rest of the evening.


Review of Golf's Sacred Journey

This is easily one of the best books I've read this year.

The book, at first, reads like a book about golf and one man's struggle to make it as a pro in the PGA. But toward the end of the book, the story takes off on a whole new level.

I will not spoil the reading experience by telling you how the book ends. Suffice it to say it is well worth the read even if you don't like golf or sports.

The book is about finding your place as a child of God and discovering that freedom and purpose in life only come from discovering your true self as a child of the living God through Jesus Christ.

"Golf's Sacred Journey" is the wonderful true story of how God freed the author from the trappings of success and the lies of the dreams of life - whatever shape or form it might take - without Christ. 

The story takes place in a small town of Utopia, Texas where the author finds himself at the end of his ropes. In Utopia, he meets Johnny - a retired golf pro. But Johnny is much more than a retired golf pro. Through Johnny and his unorthodox teaching methods, the author comes to discover his true potential as a golfer, but more importantly, his true identity and purpose as a child of God.

I read the book in two sittings, and I am certain you too won't be able to set it down.

So make some time for yourself, find a quiet place, and let God speak to you through this book. I am confident that you will be blessed as I've been blessed through David Cook's journey in Utopia.

Jul 9, 2010

GA - Day 8

It has been an intense eight days thus far. Last night in particular was one of the most interesting and wonderful evenings at GA in recent memory.

This morning, I did not go to the plenary session. I did not get up at 7.

I did not realize how tired and exhausted I was. So I just chilled in the hotel room. I've been following the action on my computer and through twitter.

I am happy to report that the expected challenge to reconsider the motion taken by the GA last was defeated.

This morning's main items of business was the Middle East report. Prior to the GA committee's work with this report, it was very much a slanted report favoring the Palestinians. The committee amended the document so that it reads to make a fair compromise by recognizing Israel's right to exist and supporting the human right's efforts with the Palestinians.

That amended report was approved by the GA by a vote of 558-119.

In the big picture of things, I am so ready to go home. There's still the rest of this day and tomorrow left at GA, but I am soooo ready to be home.

That is all for now from Minneapolis. Blessings!

Jul 8, 2010

Shock and Awe - GA's Vote on the Redefinition of Marriage

Shock and Awe!

The General Assembly began debating the report on Civil Union and Definition of Marriage at 9pm this evening.

The way this assembly had been voting on other issues, it looked like we would be coming out of the General Assembly with a votes overturning ordination standards and a redefinition of marriage from between and man and woman to "two people."

As I wrote earlier today, the GA already voted to send down to presbyteries for their approval or disapproval a change in ordination standards. As stated earlier, it is unlikely that there will be enough votes at the presbytery level to change the ordination standards.

This evening the GA began debate on the issue of marriage. The committee was recommending the majority report from the Task Force while evangelicals were supporting the minority report coming from the Task Force to maintain biblical understanding of marriage between a husband and wife.

The first shock and awe moment came when the GA approved a motion to amend the committee's report by adding the minority report to the majority report so that both documents would be sent down to presbyteries and sessions for study. And then in one of the most bizarre moments I can remember in GA's, the commissioners then amended the minority report to include the majority report.

The end result being that both studies would be sent down for study.

Then the biggest shock and awe moment came as the GA began moving on to the next items of business that would have provided a new Authoritative Interpretation from the GA redefining marriage. What makes an Authoritative Interpretation so damaging to the presbyterian way of governing is that a single GA without the vote of presbyteries would be able to, in effect, change the constitution of the PC(USA). Authoritative Interpretations, while having authority over the constitution, does not need to be ratified by the presbyteries. In essence, presbyteries and congregations have no voice or vote in Authoritative Interpretations.

Even before any of the other pending business was up for debate, a commissioner moved a motion stating that all pending items from the committee would be answered by the previous action to study the majority and minority report from the Task Force.

The rationale was that since the GA acted to have the presbyteries study the Task Force recommendations, that the church should actually study the reports prior to making any decisions about redefining marriage.

Makes perfect sense to me!

By a vote of 348-324 (51%-49%), the GA approved this motion.

SHOCK and AWE!!!

For evangelicals, this is a monumental victory.

However, it would not surprise me if there was a motion to reconsider this action either tomorrow or Saturday morning.

In the mean time, what this means is that we have the opportunity to defeat the GA's action to change ordination standards in presbyteries (and as mentioned already, the progressives do not have enough votes at the presbytery levels to change the constitution) and the biblical definition of marriage stays.

SHOCK and AWE!!! in the best sense.

Continued prayers that the commissioners will not change this vote and that attempts to reconsider will be defeated.

GA Day 7 - General Assembly Votes 373-323-4 to Change Ordination Standards

The 219th General Assembly of the PC(USA) just voted 373-323-4 to change ordination standards. The new language will now be sent down to presbyteries for approval.

When the vote tally was shown on the screens throughout the plenary hall, there was an audible gasp. I think what many were surprised by was how close the vote was. Many were expecting the final vote to have a greater margin than 53%-46%.

As things stand now, there isn't enough support in the pews of the churches in presbyteries in the PC(USA) to overturn the language in the Book of Order. The progressives know this, know how disruptive and damaging this is to evangelical congregations, and yet this is now forced upon our presbyteries for vote once again.

Going into this General Assembly, most people including myself said we would have been very surprised if General Assembly didn't vote to change the ordination standards. The voting trends have been moving this way for several GA's.

Even though I expected the GA to vote this way when the GA actually voted 373-323-4 to change ordination stand, it felt like I was punched in the stomach and all the air went out of my system.

God is still at work. We will continue to work to make sure that our presbyteries do not approve this decision of the General Assembly.

That is what we will do for now, but in the long term, now is the time for evangelicals to engage our presbyteries and our general assemblies so that our leadership and our voices are heard.

Tonight, the General Assembly will be voting on the report of the committee on Civil Unions and Biblical Understanding of Marriage.

Prayers are appreciated.

Jul 7, 2010

GA Approves to Send nFoG to Presbyteries for Approval

General Assembly by a vote of 468-204-6 to send the committee's amended version of the Revised Form of Government to the presbyteries for approval.

There were attempts to amend the committee's amended version of the nFoG, but they were defeated soundly on the floor of General Assembly.

There was also a substitute motion that was introduced and that substitute motion was defeated by a sound margin.

Now it is up to presbyteries to decide whether the nFoG will become the new Book of Order for the PC(USA).

Time to Lead not Leave

There have been ongoing conversations about evangelical congregations leaving the PC(USA) denomination for some time. Now, with the decisions of the committees on marriage and ordination standards voting to remove language that would allow for same sex marriage and for the ordination of homosexuals, more evangelical churches are apt to entertain this option.

As an evangelical, I urge you to reconsider. Now is the time to lead, not leave the PC(USA).

When things get difficult and hard, we don't leave and abdicate our role in the life of the church. What is needed is for Godly leaders to lead. We do not abandon our church nor our family. Particularly when things get difficult, leaders lead.

If we believe that God is the one who has called us into our church, if we believe that this is God's church, it is not our's to choose whether we leave or stay. God calls us to lead to the best of our ability right where we are - no matter what the circumstances may be.

More than ever, what is needed is leadership and the engagement of evangelical presbyterians to voice our opinions and make our votes count. 

What is at stake is for God to use evangelicals to engage in the dialogue with the rest of the church to shape and transform our denomination. No one wants to continue fighting over the sexuality debates as we have been engaging in it for the past decades. 

In the post-denominational, post-modern world we find ourselves in, we need for all of us in the PC(USA) - evangelicals, progressives, and everyone in between - to engage in conversations about what it means to be a connectional church. Although no one knows what the future church might look like, I do know that the future church will be different than the current PC(USA). And if we leave, we will have no voice in shaping God's church.

Friends, more than ever, what is needed is active engagement and participation, not departure. 

Now it the time to lead, not leave.

GA - Day 6

I had every intention of waking up at 5:00am and going to the Presbyterians for Renewal Breakfast at the GA this morning.

But slept right through the alarm. Didn't even hear it. Slept like a baby.

When I did wake up, it was already 7, so I decided to sleep some more. And am I glad I did.

I needed the break from days of non-stop meetings.

This morning, the GA takes a collective breath together while commissioners get caught up with other items of business that they will be voting on besides work from their own committees.

I took the same morning to chill out, talk with my wife, read some, tweet, email, and blog.

It's been a nice break.

The GA will convene in plenary after lunch and that's when things will start getting interesting again. This GA has somewhere around 300 items that must be acted upon.

I will be tweeting live from GA. You can follow me @jameskimlcop or you can join in on the twitter action with others at #ga219.

Jul 6, 2010

Revised Form of Government Passes by Vote of 37-5 in Committee

After four years, the General Assembly Committee on the Revision of the Form of Government passes the new revised Form of Government for consideration to the plenary by a vote of 37-5.

Two years ago, at the 218th GA in San Jose, the Form of Government Committee spent all its committee time on whether they should refer the document. It was noted on the final day of committee toward the end of the afternoon by a member of the committee that they hadn't even cracked open the Form of Government. They never even considered the document. The entire time was spent on procedure.

This year, the committee leadership ensured that the committee would actually deal with the merits of the document before any motion to approve or disapprove the recommendations would be considered. In two days of deliberation, the committee actually strengthened and improved the document the Task Force sent in last August. It was discovered after the Task Force submitted our final report that there was some confusion created over the power of presbyteries over congregations due to an insertion of a footnote that said small "c" church in the revised Form of Government always referred to the denomination.

This created some confusion for it looked as though the presbyteries would have unprecedented power over congregations - which is opposite of what the Task Force intended. The Task Force always contended that ministries take place in the local church and that structures exist to enable ministry not to restrict it. This was a simple correction by amending the footnote (which the committee did).

The footnote originally read, "the lower-case term "church" refers to denominations. The committee simply deleted that portion of the footnote.

The plenary of the General Assembly will now have to decide whether they will send the revised FoG to the presbyteries for approval. That vote will take place tomorrow.

GA - Days 3, 4, 5

I celebrated my birthday at GA. The Form of Government Task Force was kind enough to remember and celebrated the day with me.

Because my birthday lands on the Fourth of July, most of my birthdays have been celebrated while traveling. When I was a child, it was as the family traveled over the 4th of July weekend, and then as an adult, I've celebrated my birthday in Korea, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, England. This is the first year I've celebrated my birthday at the GA of the PC(USA).

I haven't been posting updates from GA because the Form of Government committee has been meeting in the depths of the convention center (3 levels down) and I get no signal and because the PC(USA) has shut out internet access except to its own pc-biz.org (the site where all the business before the GA is located).

It's been frustrating not being able to blog or tweet from committee.

All commissioners are now meeting in their assigned committees. The General Assembly have over 300 items of business it must act on. For the most part, the GA will rely on commissioners in committees to work through the details and will go with the recommendations coming from committee. Very rarely will the plenary vote against what the committee recommends.

The GA will meet as a whole in plenary starting Wednesday.

I will be tweeting live from the plenary. You can follow my tweets at @jameskimlcop and also follow the action at GA by searching #ga219.

Have a blessed day!

Jul 3, 2010

GA 219 - Voting Process Must Be Corrected or This Could Be A Flawed GA

One of the most serious concerns for the 219th GA is the wireless voting system.

Tonight, during the Moderatorial election, there were multiple issues with the voting system. At one point it was noted that more that 160 votes were not being registered properly.

The GA played and worked with the voting system and finally got to a place where we were reasonably sure that most of the votes were being registered. However, there was still not total confidence that the system was registering all the votes.

Here's the reason why this is a GIGANTIC PROBLEM, one that can make this a flawed General Assembly.

If all the issues coming up for this General Assembly had a margin of vote difference as the Moderator's race, then it would not be a problem to be off by a couple of dozen votes out of roughly 720 votes.

However, there are multiple controversial issues coming up for vote in this General Assembly that could be quite close - PC(USA)'s stance on the Israel/Palestinian issues, definition of marriage and civil unions, ordination of homosexuals, the new proposed Form of Government to name a few.

In recent General Assemblies, issues as controversial as the ordination of homosexuals were decided by single digit vote differences between for and against. And if we continue to be off by several dozen votes, and if the commissioners have no confidence in the accuracy of the votes, this could be a nightmare.

Should the voting be as close on controversial issues as it has been in the past, the losing side will challenge and contest the vote of the General Assembly.

The only solution to the computer glitches in voting is to go to paper ballots in the most controversial issues. But this GA has so many critical issues before it that it could lead to multiple marathon sessions.

It is all our prayer that God's will be done.

And it is my prayer and earnest plea with the Office of General Assembly or whoever is in charge of the voting mechanism to this voting system fixed so that the church can have confidence in the decisions that this General Assembly takes.

If the commissioners and observers at this GA cannot have full confidence that the vote tallies are the actual correct tallies this will be a flawed GA.

GA - Day 2 Cynthia Bolbach Elected as the Moderator of the 219th GA

The highlight of today was the election of the moderator. Cynthia Bolbach has been elected as the moderator of the 219th General Assembly of the PC(USA).

Yay Cindy. Cindy is one of the moderators of the Form of Government Task Force I've been serving on the for the past four years and a dear friend. She will be a wonderful, fair, and an excellent moderator of the PC(USA). We are in very capable hands for the rest of the General Assembly.

The day started out with Riverside Conversations where commissioners for the first time were invited to show up early and sign up to listen in on business they were interested in even if they were not in those particular committees. Typically, commissioners are assigned to a committee and that's pretty much the only business they really get a chance to deal with before the plenary sessions where the entire GA votes on all the business before the assembly.

The Riverside Conversations gave opportunity for folks to listen in on presentations to be better informed for the decisions they will make.

The afternoon was spent learning how to function as the General Assembly - how to get everyone's laptop connected (The GA's have gone paperless and will loan you a lap top for the duration of the assembly if you don't have one), how to vote with the wireless machines (will be posting a blog about this one later), etc.

And we closed the evening at around 11:30pm with the election of the Moderator.

Jul 2, 2010

GA 219 - Day 1

To start off, I must say "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" to the office staff.

When I was going through the security at the airport I realized I had packed everything but my laptop!

My brain is in that laptop.

I couldn't believe it. Of all the things I could have forgotten, I leave the one thing that has my Bible, documents, calendar, schedule, etc.

But this is where the office staff comes in. They Fed Exed the lap top and I got it this morning.

Here's my first observations about this GA.

The convention center is HUGE!!!!!

Because the convention center is so big it makes it feel like there aren't many people here at the GA. Typically, there are Presbyterians running around all over the place, and I'm sure there are as many people this year as before, but it just feels empty around the GA complex.

Not much is happening yet. People are registering and meeting the Moderatorial candidates, checking out the exhibit hall, and checking into their hotel rooms.

The Form of Government committee is the only committee meeting today. They are doing their group process - getting to know you - stuff right now. The FoG task force will do our first presentation at around 3:45pm today.

One of the best things about the GA is that it's like a Presbyterian family reunion. It's been great to see so many friends.

I will continue to blog from GA as the days go by.

I leave you with a picture of one of my heros.