Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So I'm in Vons in Oxnard about to do some business at an ATM machine and at 11:42am these employees start getting excited. Then I hear "Earthquake, EARTHQUAKE!!!" I look down the grocery asiles and they are seriously swaying. It was very surreal. I look at the floor and could see the ripples as the quake runs beneath my feet. Employees start to run for the front door. I looked up at the ceiling and was wondering if it's going to come down on me.
I then start to literally feel dizzy, kind of like a choppy boat ride or rough airline turbulence. The quake lasted a good 30 seconds. Then I attempt to finish my transaction and a lady comes over the loud-speaker, "Attention, we're having an earthquake." (I'm thinking, "No we're not, it's over.") "Would all customers and employees please make their way to the front doors. We don't want anyone hurt by items falling off shelves."
I keep finishing my ATM transaction then get yelled at from the crowd by an employee. "Person at the ATM, come to the front!" But I'm not leaving without getting my ATM card out of this machine! So I finally get my card out and walk through the crowd out of the store and off I go.

Weird day in Southern California. It reminded me that there are bigger things in life than what the eye percieves and that we're really not in control. And that my life is short and could be snuffed out any time... but not before I get my ATM card! :)

Monday, July 28, 2008


Perry Noble's latest blog is about this teenager who saved up $1000.00 over 3 or 4 years and contributed it to New Spring Church. He wrote an incredible note about the fact that he was HONORED to give the gift and make a contribution towards someone else taking a step closer to God.

Very mature and audacious faith!

Perry went on to say that only 6% of those who call themselves evangelical Christians regularly tithe and the average amount given by an adult over the period of one year is $600. Compare that to the average adult spending $900 a year on coffee drinks (thanks to Fourbucks... I mean, Starbucks!) and $1000 a year on their pet and you get the picture of how huge this teen's gift was!

I'm looking forward to seeing River Park Community Church blow the above statistic away! I'm praying right now that the folks who will call RPCC their church home will be the most generous church in the county because they have a passion to see folks in their community grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. The RPCC staff team has a passion to see life change take place in the Ventura-Oxnard Metro Area... how big is this passion? Big enough that each staff person is just crazy enough to give up their jobs and secure paychecks to become church planters (aka: fund raisers) in one of the most expensive corners of this country (yes, it still is even with this depressed market today.)! We even have one of our team members willing to sell a great house (Pray that it sells soon!) in a more affordable city on the other side of the country and move his family out to Ventura County!!! He inspires me! I am praying this foundation of sacrifice and generosity will set the stage for great things to come. In reality it's not much sacrifice to be invited by the God of all creation to join in His mission, it's truly an honor!

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21
Where has your treasure been lately? Not sure? Check out your latest bank statement or your receipts. What percentage of your treasure has been spent on others/on you? Now you know where your heart is.

Where is your heart? How might God want you to work on your heart this week? How can I pray for you?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Discovery Church, Simi Valley

I attended Discovery Church, Simi Valley this morning. Todd Clark brought a great message on the life of Joseph. He highlighted the tough times that Joseph endured (betrayal by his own family, sold as a slave in Egypt, accused of rape, thrown in jail etc…) that all led to one moment. This is the moment when Joseph went from an extreme helpless valley in life (he was in this valley for years!) to the opportunity of a lifetime… a conversation with the most powerful man in the world. Pharaoh asked Joseph if he could interpret his dream.

Gen 41:16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

Joseph gave ‘props’ to God for his gift. Actually, he said God is the author of his gift and that He is the one who will answer Pharaoh. Joseph’s ‘big break’ before this incredible leader was defined by his acknowledgment of God. And this to a man who was considered to be a god!

Todd also shared how their church is financially behind significantly. Todd and his team planted the church about 5 years ago and have over 1,000 people who call Discovery Church ‘home’. One of a few churches actually concerned about and reaching their community in Ventura County! Pray for Todd and Discovery Church as they may have to make some tough staff cuts later this fall if things don’t turn around.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Speaking of sweet tea (read post below) I think the best on the planet is found at Chick-fil-A. If you haven't tried it you've got to! If you have don't you agree??? :)

Southern Potluck!

Tonight the launch team (and anyone else who'd like to come) is gathering for the first time since our return from Atlanta. We're having a southern potluck. I'm excited and afraid about that fact. I now love southern food but while in Atlanta for a month I gained 10 pounds! Too much fatty foods and sweet tea!
I'm excited to reconnect, share our experience and look to what God has for us this fall. Damon's got some sweet creative boards with some pics of our facility to show that gang. Always good to bring visuals to a meeting! I'm looking forward to having my 19 year old cousin from Vancouver, British Columbia come down to visit tomorrow. I think the last time I saw her was when she just started high school... I hope I recognize her at LAX tomorrow!

Question: What is the one thing a leader cannot delegate?
Answer: Putting the right people in the right place.

Have you experienced a leader not doing this? How did it turn out? What else do you think a leader cannot delegate? (There's got to be more!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Atlanta, GA

Just got back this morning from N*RICH at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. It was great having the whole riverparkcc.com staff team there. We learned a ton about launching a new church, had a lot of fun together and did our first strategic meeting with the whole team. Good stuff!!!

I read a chapter in a book called "Execution" at the airport. The author asked the question, "What is one thing a leader cannot delegate?" Let me know what you think and I'll give you his answer next posting.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Heart Check: EKG

An electrocardiogram (EKG) is used in hospitals to monitor the health of your physical heart. What about the health of your emotional health? How do you know if it's healthy or not? A new friend of mine, Carry Nieuwhof, has an insightful posting on not only how to gauge your emotional heart but also offers ways to find your way back to health.

I spent about a year and a half during graduate school with an unhealthy stale heart. It's not a fun place to be and life is too short to spend any amount of time that way. Looking back I know that the way I moved out of that stage was through the connections I made with other people. Simply by building relationships. It order to see the world from a different place you need a bridge to walk to that different place. Being part of a small group and serving on a team was my bridge.

Read Carry's post.
How is your heart?
What was your 'bridge' back to a healthy heart?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Do you isolate yourself?

Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.

I've spent enough times in my life being lonely. (Defined: Having a hard time making new friends, feeling unconnected and maybe feeling sorry for myself.) This is an easy way to live today with the abundance of activities that keep us busy yet out of real, authentic relationship with others (like writing and reading blogs! :)). River Park Community Church (RPCC) will be a church that intentionally, and even aggressively (in a gentle kind of way) combats loneliness. Sunday morning will only be the entrance to truly experiencing RPCC. The destination that we hope everyone who walks through our doors would consider is our Small Groups. These are groups of 8-16 folks who hang out once a week.

So if you walk into a Sunday service, don't stop there. Keep walking towards a small group.
I can't wait to see the change in people as we get these started! Don't miss it!

We're getting prepared to start a few temporary "turbo" groups. Come join us... let me know. james@riverparkcc.com.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I'm ticked off!!! In fact I'm flea ed off!!! My condo is infested with fleas!!! Walked in my place last night and a dozen of those little guys hopped on my legs... lovely, just lovely!!! :( My first day home is spent pouring powder all over my carpet and spending the rest of the day away from home.

I hope those guys enjoy the powder. Chow down guys, chow down!

Last night was kind of humorous. From another room I hear my daughter yelling, "Ahhhh!!! Flea, flea, flea... HELPPPPP!!!" I screamed back, "Slap them sweety, slap them away!!!" Couple seconds of silence... then "Whap, whap, whap!!! I got the flea Daddy!"

(Picture above: Just found this dead flea, HE'S HUGE!!! I'm surprised our cat has any blood left in him after keeping these giants alive!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back in Cali!

After driving 2700 miles this past week my family and I are back in Southern California. It's been an incredible 6 weeks away. We spent two weeks traveling and four weeks living in Alpharetta, GA so I could participate with Damon in an internship at North Point Community Church. We spent 6 days a week preparing to become a strategic partner church plant of North Point. Our whole purpose for this adventure is to lead people into a growing relationships with Jesus Christ. There are many ways a church can do this and N.P.'s model is one of them. I personally think it's a very effective ministry model. Why? Because it's about removing obstacles between people and their Creator by creating a few excellent steps (environments) towards spiritual growth which we define as: 1. Intimacy with God, 2. Community with Insiders, 3. Influence with Outsiders.

So what's our next step? Our strategic calendar is in place and we just have to work it.

I'll keep you posted with how that calendar plays out...

When you think of your local church what are the things you observe that could be an obstacle between you and God? For you regular church goers, you may have to think a little harder. :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Where are we planting?

I am excited to plant a new church in a very cool metro area. Our staff has been referring to it as the "Ventura-Oxnard" Metro Area (pop. 500,000 in a 15 min. drive radius) but the White House refers to it as the "Oxnard-Ventura-Thousand Oaks" Metro Area (Pop. 800,000).

133 churches in our metro area above. A similarly populated area in the south would have about 800 churches. There is definetly room for one more church!

The actual city we're planting in is Oxnard, CA. Honestly, I think it's one of the weirdest city names I've ever heard. Combing the words "Ox" and "Nard" really make an enjoyable moment when that rolls off the tongue! Hence the reason we like to say we're planting in the "Ventura-Oxnard" metro Area. :) The specific community in Oxnard we're planting is called River Park. It's brand new with much of it currently still under construction. The community is located 30 minutes north of LA county (Via the 101 freeway) and smack dab in the middle of Malibu and Santa Barbara (another popular alternative way to describe Oxnard without using the name Oxnard!).

If you're iching to move and not sure where... consider River Park. I think it's price point is undervalued and you'd have the opporutnity for some significant equity in the near future, especially when the commercial area begins to come together. Oh and if you do move, I can recomend a great new church family that needs your help.

Friday, July 4, 2008

New Favorite Christian Bookstore

At Tangers Outlet mall in Locust Grove, GA south of Atlanta. Bunch of tables set up and most books for $5 each. Recent titles too! I spent $67 and walked out with a lot of bookage!

If you ever find yourself in Locust Grove, GA... check it out!