Sep 30, 2012

Consider How We May Spur One Another...

Image Borrowed from
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" Hebrews 10:24.

Consider how we may spur one another....


Spurring someone doesn't seem like a wise thing to do.

Why I bet, being spurred kind of hurts.

Maybe it meant something nice in the Greek.

The Greek word for spur one another is paraxusmos. It means to incite, irritate, provoke, sharpen, spur.


Spur means pretty much what it means in English.

So what could God mean when he encourages the church to consider how we may spur one another on.

There is an old African proverb that says "If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together."

You see, there's something about doing life with someone else that inspires and encourages people to do more.

When I used to work out, I always enjoyed working out with a workout partner more than I did working out alone. Because my work out partner would encourage me to do more. He would push me when I would feel like quitting. And I could do the same for him when he didn't feel like working out.

Together, we got stronger and pushed ourselves harder than we could on our own.

I think that's what God has in mind when he encourages us to spur one another on. We are to encourage each other to do more, to push harder.

Before ending this blog, I need to say that there is a fine line between spurring one another on, and spearing someone to death.

People in the church can do that. Instead of encouraging and inspiring someone to be better, we can kill their spirits by saying things like:

  • Again? You did that again?! How many times are you going to make the same mistakes over and over?
  • What's the matter with you? 
  • I knew you couldn't do anything right.
Friends, spearing churches kill faith.

We are called to encourage and push each other to be better, and we are to do it in a way that inspires and encourages.

And when the church does that, together we go further than if we were to do church alone.

Sep 28, 2012

Every Member a Minister

"Every Member a Minister"

That's what we see on our bulletin every week.

I believe that with all my heart.

You don't have to be in vocational ministry in order to be a minister.

A minister is one who is called and set apart to move the purposes of God. You don't have to have a title called, "pastor" "minister" "reverend".

If you are a follower of Christ, your mission in life is to move the purposes of God in your family, in your work place, in your neighborhood, in your community.

Every single person who has ever said "Yes" to Jesus is a minister.

So get out there.

Do it.

Your job as a Christ-follower today is to move the purposes of God in your life. And then when you wake up tomorrow, that's your job again. And the day after, and the day after that, and the day after that. As long as God keeps waking you up in the morning, your job as a Christ-follower is simply to move the purposes of God in your life.

And we are to do this so that the world you and I live in becomes more like the Kingdom of God here in Lakewood, Steilacoom, University Place, Tacoma, etc. as it is in heaven.


Sep 27, 2012

"Christian" is Code Word for "Crappy"?!?!

Borrowed from
Erwin McManus says the word "Christian" has become our cultural code word for "crappy"...
  • Christian music
  • Christian art
  • Christian movies
Somehow, when we say Christian in front of such words, everyone understands, that whatever "it" is, it's not as good as what a world without God is creating.

The reason why Erwin McManus' statement bothers me is because I think he's right.

How can this be?

God is the creator God.

In fact, when Genesis uses the word Hebrew word "bara" for creation, only God is the subject of that verb. No other in the universe is able nor can create as God creates.

When God created humankind, he created humankind in his image...we were created with the imprint of the Creator God in our souls. 

Of all the people on planet earth, Christians ought to be the most creative and expressive folks when it comes to demonstrating the creative possibilities of God's kingdom. We should not play second fiddle to anyone.

With the advent of the protestant reformation came the move away from the sacred arts. 

At one time, the world's greatest artists, musicians, composers, poets, writers, thinkers were all Christians.

I hate that the word "Christian" has become synonymous with crappy. 

It's time that the church changes this perception by reclaiming the place of creative arts in the life of the church. 

Sep 26, 2012

Talent Matters

I love sports.

I love playing sports, watching sports, talking about sports, reading about sports.

I love sports.

I have been going to all the home games for Lakes High School football team. I have been looking forward to these games because when we used to live in Federal Way, my girls went to Todd Beamer High School, and let's just say that they weren't very good.

So, I have really been looking forward to going to the Lakes football games because they have been so dominant for so long.

But this year's been tough. Their schedule has been BRUTAL!!!

At the Lakes game against Camas I learned some things.

You see, Lakes is coached by one of the most respected coaches in the state of Washington. Lakes has consistently produced great teams since Dave Miller's been the coach.

Typically, Lakes teams breeze through the regular season.

But not this year. The Lakes football team is 1-3.

In the last game, Lakes lost to Camas 53-14.


Here's the leadership lesson: Talent matters.

You see, it wasn't that Lakes didn't have a great coach. It's still Dave Miller coaching this team.

It wasn't that the Lakes kids didn't want to win as much as the Camas kids.

It wasn't that the Lakes kids didn't try as hard as the Camas kids.

The reason why Lakes has a losing record this year is because talent matters.

Lakes just isn't as good as they were in the past. The team is young. They graduated a bunch of seniors who were outstanding players. And there weren't enough young talent to take their place.

The result: Camas kids were bigger, stronger, faster, and more talented than the Lakes kids at almost every single position.

Talent matters.

Not just for football teams, but for organizations, businesses, and yes, even churches.

It's a given that you need, God-loving and faithful disciples. But you need more than that. You need talent.

We need to be able to attract and keep the best talent possible because when it comes to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in an effective way, talent absolutely matters.

Does your church and organization attract the most talented people? Does your church and organization encourage and enable your most talented people to contribute and thrive?

Sep 25, 2012

So Full and Yet So Empty

How could it be that the modern life makes our lives so FULL, all the while our souls remain so EMPTY?

We are bombarded with images, messages, ads on Facebook, Google, Groupon, email, television, magazines, etc. saying, "Buy me, try me, taste me, love me, wear me."

On a typical day, the average American comes across about 5,000 ads a day.

Whether we may be cognizant of these ads or not, they are being registered by our brain.

Christian, unless you make the effort to set aside time and intentionally input God's truth into our minds and hearts, our lives will be full, while our souls remain starved and empty.

Only CHRIST can meet the longings of our soul.

Set aside time to read his truth - the Bible.

Set aside time to be quiet and silent - pray and listen.

Set aside time to reflect and re-orient yourself - worship him.

Sep 16, 2012

This is the Church!!!

Is not this the kind of fasting (church) I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, 
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, 
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, 
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:6-10

Sep 15, 2012

LCOP and National Back to Church Sunday

Tomorrow, the Little Church on the Prairie will be participating in National Back to Church Sunday with thousands of congregations across this country.

We are hoping for at least a 100 new guests who will visit our church and that of the visitors 30% would commit to becoming a part of God's church through the Little Church on the Prairie.

You see, the reality is that the Little Church on the Prairie has to grow. The Little Church has experienced continual decline in its membership for the past 20 years or so.

As a result, we find ourselves older and smaller than we were 20 years ago.

But that's not why we're participating in Back to Church Sunday.

The reason why we are investing ourselves in Back to Church Sunday is because too many in our neighborhood don't yet know that God sent his Son to die on the cross and rise again so that judgment doesn't have to be the final word. 

Too many in our neighborhood don't yet know what it means to be fully alive because they still believe that this world is it. They don't know that God created them for a relationship, a relationship that's supposed to last all of eternity.

Too many do not yet know what it means to live a life of purpose and passion. They merely find themselves going through the motion of life, knowing that there's got to be more, but don't yet know what that more is.

And until a church will go out of it's way in order to get better at proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, most of our neighbors will remain in the dark.

And that is an unacceptable reality.

We commit ourselves fully to the cause of proclaiming Christ in a way that draws people into fellowship with him.

That my friends is why our church exists: to know Christ and to make him known.

That's the purpose of our existence. 

Please join us in inviting people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Join us for Back to Church Sunday.

Praying to see the mighty hand of God at work at LCOP and in his churches tomorrow.


Stop fretting...

Be Quiet...

Learn peace...

Be at peace...

Birth peace...

Sep 13, 2012

I've Been Exfoliated

Today was my first day of physical therapy for the repaired achilles tendon.

Until the achilles tendon heals some more, they have me doing exercises in the pool.

It's kind of cool, actually.

There's a treadmill at the bottom of the pool.

I spent 25 minutes walking on the treadmill and 25 more minutes doing exercises in the pool stretching and strengthening the tendon. After the pool, they put me in a jacuzzi for ten minutes to stretch and relax the tendon.

What you need to know is that today was the first day I've soaked my leg since the surgery.

For the past two months, my leg has been in either a splint, cast, or in a brace. Not only that, until recently, the wound from the surgery hadn't completely healed, so it never got scrubbed or washed very well.

All this to say, the leg hadn't been soaked, scrubbed, or bathed in a couple of months.

Soooooo.....when I got into the hot tub after 50 minutes in the pool.....oh my.....I've never experienced anything like it.

The dead skin just started falling off my leg.

It felt sooooooo good.

So I just kept rubbing my leg and foot until all the dead skin peeled off.

I know. Disgusting.

All I can say is, "Thank God for chlorine!"

The moral of the story is...don't ever, EVER, drink the water in a public hot tub.

Seriously, don't put water from any public bath, pool, jacuzzi. You never know.

But you should feel the skin on my leg! It's like a baby's bottom!!!

I can't remember the last time my leg felt so smooth.

I now understand what the big deal is about exfoliation.

I've been exfoliated!

Sep 12, 2012


Picture borrowed from
I came across the following in the book "Perfectly Unique" by Annie Downs.

With words of gossip, chaos and sadness are created.
With words of loving encouragement, life and blessing arise.
With words of hatred, a bitter heart and brokenness are birthed.
With words of praise, a happy heart is encouraged.
With words of biting sarcasm, embarrassment and fear are given authority.

Our words are constantly creating.

That shouldn't be a surprise.

When God created the heavens and the earth, we are told in Genesis that God spoke and it was so.

Words create.

Our words are constantly creating.

The question is...what are you creating?

Thank You! "Why I have not been blogging" post has been one of the most read blogs in a while.

What are you all trying to say?!?!

All kidding aside.

Thank you all for your prayers, for your words of encouragement, and for your emails.

You guys rock!

Things are good. 

God knows what's going on. 

That's ultimately what matters. 

As long as God knows what he's doing, all we have to do is follow. 

We keep pressing on!

Your friendship, prayers, and words of encouragement are awesome!

Thank you.

James <><

Sep 11, 2012

Why I Haven't Been Blogging

The reason why I haven't been blogging.

When tough, unpleasant, difficult things happen in my life, I journal, I pray.

I don't blog because I don't want to write stuff that I will regret. I don't want to write anything out of anger and hurt that ends up in the public forum.

Those things are for my journal and for God.

So it's been one of those times.

I have been doing a lot of writing, journaling, and praying.

I will get back to making regular entries when things have settled down a bit.

If you're reading this, thank you for checking out the blog and I would appreciate your prayers for wisdom.


James <><

Sep 5, 2012

Book Review of the "Art of Pastoring" by William C Martin

The Art of Pastoring Contemplative ReflectionsThe Art of Pastoring Contemplative Reflections by William C. Martin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

I've read this book at least a dozen times. I have read it because it was recommended to me by someone I respect. 

I've used it as a part of my daily reflection. 

The book goes against pretty much everything I believe, everything I've read about leadership. There have been days when this book has challenged me, but most days the author just leaves me frustrated. Because the leadership he advocates is no leadership. 

Think of any movement, revival, revolution, cause. Every one of them was started and led by someone who was leading.

There is nothing that is accomplished without someone leading.

God always uses people. 

Things don't just happen. 

God makes things happen through people and their gifts and talents. 

That's why for me, this book only gets 1 out of 5 stars.