Aug 29, 2012

God Only Putted One Arm on My Grandma...HIGH FIVE!!!

Normally, Pastor Brad does the chapel time with the little ones for LCOP Learning Center on Wednesdays. Since he's on vacation, I had the privilege of sharing the love of Christ with the little ones.

I gotta's a whole lot easier preaching to adults than a group of 3-5 year olds!

We sang some songs and I talked to them about how God created each and every one of them just the way he wanted to. Whether we have brown hair or blonde or black, whether it's straight or curly or long, God made us perfect just the way we are.

After chapel was over, the kids were filing out and one of the little 4 year old boys came up to me and said, "When God created my grandma, he only putted one arm...Her name is Liz."

I wasn't quite sure what to say that.

So I was getting ready to say something like, "and he created her that way and because of that she's perfect just the way she is."

But before I could say anything, the little guy lifted his arm and said, "HIGH FIVE!!!" and gave me a big high five with a smile and walked out.

Just like that.

"God only putted one arm on my grandma. Her name is Liz. HIGH FIVE!!!"

Love it!

That's right. One arm, two arms. God is good. HIGH FIVE!

What a fantastic way to live.

Thanks for the awesome God lesson little man!

Aug 28, 2012

Christmas in August - THAT WAS SOOOO AWESOME!!!!!


I love it when the church functions as the church.

I just gotta brag on the Little Church on the Prairie.

About a month ago, we received a phone call from a gentleman who was married at the LCOP 32 years ago. He wanted to know if we would let he and his wife renew their vows at our church even though they are not members here, and even though they no longer knew anyone who are members here.

Of course we were going to be a part of that.

As we were planning their renewal of vows he told us how much appreciated the Christmas decorations in the church as they were married in December.

That's all that the church needed to know.

Volunteers signed up to make sure that when this couple showed up for their renewal of vows today, that they would be greeted by Christmas in August at the Little Church on the Prairie.

The couple had no idea that the church was going to do this.

All the sanctuary doors were closed and they were asked to go to the back of the church. The bride was a little bit embarrassed as she realized they were going to march down the aisle just as they did 32 years ago.

Right before they were about to enter, she mentioned how the sanctuary was so beautifully decorated on their wedding day.

And then the music started and the double doors in the back of the sanctuary was opened.

You should have seen their faces!!! You should have seen their reaction when the music started and they saw the sanctuary...Oh, it was priceless!!!!!

There is nothing else in the world quite like the church being the church.

They were so moved and touched that the members of LCOP would care so much for complete strangers.

It was sooooooo awesome to see the church at work to make an impact in the life of others.

That family and their children will remember this day for the rest of their lives.

And should the adult children of this couple ever consider reaching out to God, I pray that they will remember what the members of LCOP did for their mom and turn to their Savior and Lord.

I love it when the church acts as the church!

Way to go God!!!

Way to go Little Church on the Prairie!!!

Aug 27, 2012

40 Days?! What Was Jesus Thinking?!?!

Acts 1:1-2 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

I find it amazing that Jesus only spent 40 days with his disciples before he ascended into heaven. That's it 40 days.

There was so much more the Jesus could have taught his disciples about his future plans for the church.

There was so much the disciples would need to know.

They were totally ill-prepared for what lay ahead of them.

This is border line dereliction of responsibility.

It was merely 40 days ago when the disciples were absolutely dejected as they believed Jesus had failed.

Just 40 days prior, the disciples were in hiding trying to figure out how to make sense of the mess they found themselves in.

Just 40 days prior, they were convinced that they had joined an impostor who only thought he was the King of Israel as Jesus lay dead and buried in a tomb.

40 days is hardly enough time to prepare the disciples for what would be the most important endeavor they would ever engage on...the birthing of the church of Jesus Christ.

Jesus entrusted amazingly important task to guys who just 40 days ago were clueless about his ministry and his kingdom.

How could Jesus be so irresponsible?

How could God possibly expect his disciples to be able to establish his church?

What was Jesus thinking?

40 days!

This is malpractice at its worst...except for one thing...except God knew what no one else knew...that he would be sending the Holy Spirit to empower these bumbling fools to be the architects of the greatest endeavor in the history of the world called the church of Jesus Christ.

You see, the Holy Spirit changes everything.

Whereas Jesus was limited to a particular location, now the Holy Spirit of God would be available to any Christ-follower who opened themselves up to pray and seek his face.

Now God could be everywhere through his Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit was the absolute game changer.

That's why for the early church, prayer was so essential. They really didn't know what they were doing. But they could always pray and ask God's Spirit to guide them and show them what to do because God knew what he was doing.

And the most amazing thing about all this is that the same Holy Spirit is available to you and me 24/7, 365 days a year.

All that we really need to do is to pray and seek God's face and God will show the way!!!

How awesome is that?

How incredible is that?

And how blessed are we that God opens himself to us in such an awesome way.

Thanks be to God!!!!!

Aug 26, 2012

The Most Interesting Prayer Request...

Picture from
We recently had a friend/missionary staying with our family and our church from Brazil.

One of the things I struggle with is my health...I really should be healthier.

I've had multiple heart procedures and take loads of medicine.

Normally I exercise but ever since my achilles surgery, I've not been able to do much.

As our Brazilian friend was going to the airport with my wife, she asked if it would be okay to pray for me.

Prayers are always welcome!

As our Brazilian friend was praying, one of the things she prayed for is my health.

Like I said, prayers are always welcome!

But this is what she prayed: "Lord, help Pastor James with his health. Help him to eat healthier. Help him so that when he eats bad foods to get diarrhea so he wouldn't want to eat bad stuff anymore."


I've never had someone pray that I get diarrhea.

Not sure what to do with that one.

I know that she means well and wants what's best for me...but praying that I get diarrhea...

I guess people in Brazil just pray differently.

Prayers are always welcome!

I love her heart for Jesus and her love for me.

Prayers are always welcome!

P.S. To date, no diarrhea!!!

Aug 25, 2012

Things You Won't See on Tombstones

Here are some saying you're not likely to find on tombstones or in obituaries:

  • She had a fine figure
  • She had the most beautiful hair
  • He had the fastest car
  • No one could catch fish like him
  • You should have seen his golf swing
  • He always had the newest and latest gadgets
  • Lived in a big house
  • Had a really nice bank account
  • He was the most fit guy you ever saw
I'm sure there are more you can think of.

Why even bother writing all this?

Because all too often this is what people are living for.


You were created to make a difference.

You were created for relationship.

You were created to make the world a better place.

Don't waste your life.

Start living like you know what living's all about!

Aug 24, 2012

Jesus' Kingdom Strategy...What Do You Think?

Here's our strategy. 

We have no money, no clout, no status, no buildings, no soldiers - things are going exactly to plan. 

We will tell them all that they are on the wrong track: the Roman money and power elite; the revolters; the withdrawers; the collaborators.

When they hate us - and a lot of them will - when they call us names and throw us in prison, even kill some of us, we won't fight back, we won't run away, and we won't give in. 

We will just keep loving them. 

We will just keep inviting them to join our side. 

That's my strategy.

What do you think?


From "Who is This Man?" written by John Ortberg, p.107

Aug 23, 2012

Empty Promises...Social Media Addiction

The great thing about modern life is that you can do so much. And the curse of modern life is that you can do so much - Jim Denison.

No other generation of human beings has had access to so much. It was science fiction and fancy a mere generation for folks to carry around cell phones, to be able to Skype anywhere in the world, to be able to talk with anyone anywhere on planet earth.

No other generation of human beings have had the ability to do so much.

Yet not all of this access has been positive.

Even with all the different ways human beings can relate with one another, to promised hope of creating and experiencing community, our generation finds itself as one of the loneliest, empty generations in human history.

How could it be that there are unprecedented tools to keep us connected and yet we are lonelier and emptier than ever?

The curse of modern life is that because we are doing so much - constantly connected to facebook, twitter, linkedin, instagram, foursquare, email, text, cell phone, face chat - that shallowness is the result. We may have hundreds and thousands of "friends" but these "friends" are allowed access to see only see what we want them to see.

A warped sense of self, an a false and incomplete sense of who we are is the result.

In the social media, no one ever gets to see the real us.

Because, you see, to get to know the real us, people have to spend time with the real us - in our ups and in our downs, when we're at our best, and certainly when we're at our worst.

This takes time.

It's messy.

Often times it's not pretty.

The curse of the modern life is that we can, and we have been doing so much.

Ultimately, the reason why we find ourselves so alone, so empty is because our generation seeks to find the answer and solution to our emptiness in other things and in other people.


For those of us who get this, the modern tools of social media can be a huge asset and instrument to help people connect with one another and to point people to the Christ who alone can fill our soul's emptiness.

But if we take Christ out of the equation, these tools become merely the tool of a deluded narcissistic self who continues to place themselves at the center of their phantom universe. 

Aug 21, 2012

What Does Christian Leadership Look Like?

Christian Leadership.

Think about those two words.

Christian - a follower of Jesus Christ.

Leadership - the capacity to lead.

This is an oxymoron.

In every other setting, it is the leader who leads. That's why they are called the leader.

That's what leaders do. They lead. They help move the organization toward a particular direction and heading.

I find it interesting that the invitation of Jesus to Christian discipleship - including leaders - is to "Come follow me."

The primary task of the Christian is to follow Christ.

I take great comfort in that.

The world you and I find ourselves in today is quite crazy. Change is happening at a pace in our world that no one can quite get their heads around what is happening.

I for one am grateful that my job is first and foremost to follow. Although I may not know what the world will be like five years from now, God certainly does. Although I may not know what the denominational landscape will look like in the future, God does.

God knows where he's taking you and me and God knows where he's taking our churches.

Sure, we are to lead our congregations. But in order to lead, Christ-followers must first follow Christ's leading.

It's Christ we follow.

It's Christ who sets the direction.

It's Christ who sets the vision.

You see, God's looking for looking for those who still believe that God can take five loaves of bread and two fish and feed the thousands.

God looking for those who believe that God meant what he said when he promised that power would fall from heaven and empower his people to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

God is looking for people who actually believe that there is hope for our churches and hope for our communities because God is still God and he's still working in our world.

God is looking for people who still believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

God is looking for those who still believe that God will bring to completion the good work that he's begun in us until every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

Thank God that God is leading his church.

Leaders, are you ready to follow and lead others to follow Christ?

Aug 16, 2012

What Was I Thinking?!?!?!

I don't do narcotics well.

I guess that's a good thing with me being a pastor and all.

After my surgery, my docs gave me some pain killers. The prescription pain killers might have helped with the pain, but the major side effect was that the narcotics in it made me really loopy!

Because I didn't like the way it made me feel, I stopped taking the narcotic pain killers after two days and took Advil instead. Advil wasn't as effective but at least it didn't make me loopy.

Before surgery I had about $240 in my wallet. After surgery and when I stopped taking my pain meds, I realized that all my cash was gone!!!

I asked my wife and kids if any of them had taken it and no one knew anything about the money.

We searched the entire house and still we couldn't find the money.

Fast forward two weeks.

I finally got my cast off and the doctors put me in a boot. One of the things I needed to do was to change out the bandage on the wound/scar from the incision from the surgery.

I went to the bandaid drawer and when I opened up the bandaid box, guess what was there...yup...$240 wadded up in a ball at the bottom of the bandaid box.

What was I thinking?

I don't remember putting the money there.

I don't know what possessed me to put the money there.

But I was trying to hide the money from someone!

I tell ya, narcotics do crazy stuff to the brain.

The question is why would anyone want to be loopy like that all the time?

I have no clue.

I'm just thankful I don't know the answer to that question.

Aug 15, 2012

It's been a Bad Month for Blogging

Wow! It's been a bad month for blogging.

After GA, we've had people staying with us at our home non-stop - mom and dad, sister's family, my aunt from NY, cousins, Rosani from Brazil.

And in the midst of all that I tore my achilles tendon and had surgery on it two and half weeks ago.

Between trying to recover from the surgery, traveling to Leadership Summit, church, family, all the guests we've been having at the house...I haven't had much time for blogging.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Aug 3, 2012

Putting On a Happy Face

My mom and dad were in town to visit with us for about a week.

As some of you know, my dad is a man of very few words. He says what he has to say and doesn't see a need for saying much more beyond that.

But there always comes a time when we get quiet enough and alone enough where he and I have some wonderful conversations together.

In one of these times, my dad said to me, "James, you don't have peace in your eyes. You always look angry. I know you don't mean to come across that way, but when you're thinking, you look angry. I would hate for others to think you are angry when you are not. You should stand in front of the mirror and practice looking happy."

Dad even suggested that I should practice giving my sermons in front of a mirror so I can see my face as I preach.

At first, when one hears things like that, or at least when I hear things like that, it kind of ticks me off.

But you know what, my dad has a point.

I don't want people to think I'm angry. I am a happy guy. I want joy to come across my face.

A story is told of President Lincoln.

An advisor to President Lincoln suggested a certain candidate for the Lincoln cabinet. But Lincoln refused saying, "I don't like the man's face."

"But sir, he can't be responsible for his face,"insisted the advisor.

"Every man over forty is responsible for his face," replied Lincoln, and the subject was dropped.

So I told dad that I would practice looking happy in front of the mirror. There is joy in my heart and I want that to be expressed on my face.

You all tell me how I'm doing. Okay?

Aug 2, 2012

I Wonder....

The conservatives believe that they are right and that they are on God's side on the questions of sexuality.

The liberals believe that they are right and that they are on God's side on the questions of sexuality.

We, whether we are conservative or liberal or anywhere in between, believe we're so right that when someone doesn't see things the way we see things we can't help but think things like, "How can anyone who professes to love Jesus believe that this could be right?" or "How can anyone who professes to love Jesus Christ be so unloving?"

We believe we're so right about our view of things, that we are certain the other side is wrong.
  • they are wrong in how they view and interpret scripture
  • they are wrong in how they apply scripture
I wonder what it might be like if folks, instead of being so certain of how right they were just simply prayed and insisted, God let your will be done.

I wonder what our church might be like if our prayer was, "God do your will and if I am wrong, change my heart?"

I wonder what it might be like if there were less assertions and condemnations, and a whole lot more of humility and genuine openness that we - conservative, liberal, and everyone in between - could be wrong? So much so that we would be willing to change our views to match what God desires?

I wonder what our church would be like if there was a whole lot more of humility like that?

I wonder what God could do through a church like that?

Whatever you wish God, we will adjust and change to whatever you call us to...