Thursday, August 28, 2008

Improve Your Life #3: First Three in the Door

I forget where I heard this from but it's been powerful in my life and I have confidence it will improve yours.

After a long day at work (or elsewhere) when you get home pay attention to the first three minutes through the door. Check your actions, attitude and speech. Is it positive towards or negative towards your family? Often how you are in the first three minutes will become a 'self-fulfilling prophecy' of the rest of the day. If you come home and look for things to criticize you'll be setting yourself (and your family) up for a potentially frustrating evening. Try being a blessing to your family no matter how you feel and see the difference it makes.

Ever since my kids where first born, I would come home and make an extra big deal about seeing them... kind of like a person who hasn't seen a loved one for months! It's kind of silly, but it's soooo worth it when my oldest reciprocates that by saying with the biggest smile "Daaaaaaaddy!!!". Sometimes she'll run and jump in my arms delivering the biggest hug her toddler arms can muster. And of course, if my wife is in the room she gets the first hug and kiss! Security in a child's heart is developed immensley when they see mom and dad express their devotion to each other.

What has been your experience with your "First three in the door"? Share your quick story of success or failure (I've had a lot of stupid failures too!!!).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Camarillo Community Church

Lead the worship band this morning at Camarillo Community Church. What a vibrant multi-generational church! Musicians were top notch. Next scheduled worship leading is October 5th at RPCC. Some guy I don't know came up to me and said, "Hey James, you baptized me four years ago." How cool is that? I remember the event but I don't remember him. :( I baptized a few folks I'd never met before that day. He shared a bit how he's grown in his walk with God since then. Again, just plain cool.

Set List this morning:
1. Not to Us by Chris Tomlin
2. Everlasting God by Benton Brown
3. Amazed by Lincoln Brewster
4. Son of God by Starfield
5. [Special led by Eliana] Lead me To the Cross by Brooke Fraser of Hillsong
-Eliana knocked this song out of the park!!!

Tonight at 6:30pm is our final RPCC launch team meeting. Ladies and gentlemen we are in the final stretch of our 'building'/'launch' stage! What a journey! Next Sunday is a pool party and then Sept 7th we're on location at Rio Vista M.S. for Kidstuf rehearsal before going live with Kidstuf on Sept 14th. Between now and October 5th I need to gather some pro musicians for the band, get our 'turbo' groups firing on all cylanders, keep the books up to date and help fundraise $115,000. We need that amount by the end of the year just to break even. I'm trusting that money will come through but wow that can be an intimidating amount! If you have a moment, throw up a quick prayer and even consider contributing while you pray. Thanks!

I've got to meet a friend/coach for a 4 mile run in the hills above Ventura before launch team meeting this afternoon. This guy is gonna whip my butt!!! Hope I survive!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

iPod Touch Calendar

Ran 2.44 miles this morning in 13:04. 2nd fastest time yet! :)

It's tough to see but every dot on my iTouch calendar equals a run (including this morning). That's 11 so far this month. My goal is to is to keep filling in more dots and in October compete in this run. So far my knees are doing fine but I've had problems in the past when I was running regularly. Though I don't think I was in as much pain as Carlos. I'm half the man he is... I don't have the urge to run anything longer than 5 miles.

What are you filling your calendar with?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Barbie Fishing Rod

This is incredible... my daughter has one of these rods... the fishing skills it must have taken... all with the Barbie fishing Rod!

What's the biggest fish you've ever caught? Mine was about 6 lbs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Church Planting - Staff Teams

3.94 miles in 22:03 minutes.

Our Lead Communicator hits the road in Atlanta, GA tomorrow to move to Camarillo, CA and finally join our team in person (we've been ichatting since May!). Our Sunday Program Director begins full time with RPCC Sept 1. Our Kidstuf director just started earlier this month. What an amazing team God has brought together. Seriously, these folks are money! We are humbled to be partnered with GHC and NP and the many local church churches and individuals. One year ago this month Damon and I felt God may want us to 'knock on the door' of this thing called 'church planting'. 12 months later we're less than a month away from launching with a great staff team and a launch team numbering in the 50s.

Don't get me wrong, this is still not going to be a walk-in-the-park. We need to raise $115,000 by December 31st. That's a lot of dough... and we have to raise even more than that the following year. What makes that number not so huge is the fact that God has brought high capacity leaders to our staff and launch team who want to see RPCC succeed and have an impact in this community. It's already worth it, I've seen growth and personally experienced growth! If you're considering planting a church I would strongly encourage you to do it with a team from day 1. Even Jesus modeled this fact... in no way did He need a team of 12 to do what he did, but He chose to do it and I believe this is something we can learn from today.

Please pray for John and his family as they travel this week.
Please pray we would do our part and work hard to raise $115,000 over the next three months.
Please pray that we would trust God to do his part with the results!

Do you know any churches with just one paid guy 'doing it all'? What have you seen that is good/not so good about that strategy?

Monday, August 18, 2008


Ok, I failed. I didn't even push snooze until 6:35am and then didn't get out of bed until 6:40am. But, I did my run in 13:27. Not bad. I also know that there is always tomorrow. :)

If you think of it, pray for me today. I've got two very important meetings today that could possibly make a difference far into the future of RPCC.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Improve Your Life #2: The Alarm Clock Promise

I believe I heard this on Stephen Covey's "First Things First" audio cd that I got for free through an offer off a cereal box... pretty sweet offer!

The Alarm Clock Promise

Do you ever feel a bit depressed and that life is happening to you instead of you making life happen? Do you have a hard time getting yourself motivated? Try this right now:

1. Decide what time you would, scratch that, should get up tomorrow morning. Let's say you decide 6:30am (that's when I'm getting up)
2. Set your alarm for 6:30am
3. (Here's the key) Get out of bed at 6:30am tomorrow! Repeat for 5 days straight.

Seriously, your feet should hit the floor within 5 seconds of that alarm going off. Prepare for that tonight. Give yourself a personal pep talk like this, "Ok, no matter how my body screams 'NOOO!' in the morning, I'm going to keep this promise. I'm getting up and starting my day on time. God, please help me to not be a slave to my body but a keeper of my commitment."

You may notice that when you start your day by keeping a promise to yourself you'll likely have a better day. There is peace and contentment when you have integrity with yourself. This may seem small but I think there is a lot of power in this little exercise because it can improve the rest of your day. I'll be trying this tomorrow (Haven't done this in a while) and hopefully I'll be out the door for my run by 6:40am, so let me know how it goes with you and if it made a difference in your day/week.

Ok, let me share about the last three days of my life:
Thursday a.m.: Ran 2.44 miles in 12:28. Fastest time by far! Pretty stoked on that.
Thursday p.m.: I have the best wife in the world who has worked hard with caring for me and our two kids over the last three months so I encouraged her to take a personal retreat/break. She went to her folks house 2 hours away.
Thursday p.m.: Begin my first weekend alone with both kids by taking them on a date to dippin dots and the pet store, aka a free 'zoo' ;). They loved it!
Thursday p.m.: Kids in bed, and breathing (yes!). 1:30am - Massively huge thunder and lightening storm, wakes up my daughter. She's crying and crawls in my bed. She talks to me for the next hour, I think trying to calm herself down by hearing my voice... very sweet.
Friday: I'm stinkin tired from being up night before. My daughter over flows the toilet, "Dad, the water's coming, it's coming!" Filled the whole floor. Fun! Then we go to a dinner party to find out when we arrive it was cancelled. Our friends graciously invited us in and fed us some good grub.
Friday p.m.: At 3am my daughter is screaming very loud (probably because I didn't hear her for the first 15 minutes of her screaming.). She wet the bed. A lot. Put her in the bath, changed her bedding, she said "Thanks dad, I love you.", made it all worth it to hear that, back into bed by 3:45am.
Saturday: My daughter scrapes her leg pretty bad while balancing on a curb. That afternoon I put my 9 month old son down for a nap. Couple hours later I hear him, he's not crying, I open the door and he has the biggest smile on his face along with a lot of poopy. Brilliant as I am, I put him down for a nap with just a diaper and shirt. He pooped and took the liberty of removing his poopy diaper, smart kid (stupid dad). By the time I walked in there was poop all over his two blankets, stuffed elephant, all the slats on his crib and caked on his hair, face, arms, hands, legs & feet. B-E-A-UTIFUL! Momma came home after we went to the dinner party that was rescheduled to Sat night... I feel much closer to my kids. Thanks thunder/lightening, scrapes and poopy! God is good and has a great sense of humor!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I visited Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC at the end of June. You want to watch this very cool Baptism video clip. Seriously, sit for two minutes and click here.

Have you been baptized? What was your experience? If you have not been baptized, let me know if you have any questions about it:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

River Park Community Church needs your help!

Do you have too much money on your hands right now? :) I've got a great idea for it! Even if you don't have too much money, I've got a great idea for you too! It's an investment that will outlast you, that will make a difference in people's lives that you'll probably never meet! (If you don't go to RPCC that is.)

You'll also get a tax receipt, oh yea, I know I've got your attention now. River Park Community Church needs to raise a bunch of money so the team I'm on can work full time in this new work of God. Your gifts will get us through these early times before we become self-supporting. Even if you don't give, I'll still be serving at RPCC but I'll have to do it a little less frequently as I'll have to get a job at Trader Joe's or Costco or ...?

Find out a bit more by reading our Lead Communicator's post... he explains this much better than me, that's why I'm not the Lead Communicator. :)

You can find out about how to give here.

Thanks for your generosity!

Improve Your Life #1: Running

I have taken to regular runs since earlier this year. I believe it's very important to take care of myself by eating healthy and exercise. I fail often (especially the eating part!) but this is the mantra that goes through my head.

"Your body is the only instrument through which God has given you to experience life. Improve your body, improve your life."

That's it. Pretty simple, very obvious but too often overlooked. The body I have is a gift from God... it's His, not mine... He created it and knit it together in my mama's womb so I feel responsible to take care of what I'm borrowing. In my mind this is part of my own spiritual growth before God. Serving at RPCC is easy because I have a passion to serve people and see people on a growth trajectory in their life, aka: see people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. I can only do this well from a full 'spiritual' tank, or as some would say, from an 'overflowing cup'. This year I've been filling this 'cup' through running. I spend a lot of time in reflection and prayer when I run. It's one of my spiritual disciplines built into my life right now.

To be honest, I also enjoy the accomplishment of filling up my iPod Touch calendar with little dots that represent the days I have run. Silly huh? :)

I got my iPod Touch last Christmas and have been filling up the calendar with my runs starting in January.

My regular route is 2.44 miles. Not really far, but it's been working for me.

Here are a few dates and times (I actually ran on average 2-3 times a week from Feb-May but I'll only list a few dates to illustrate my progress.)
Feb 6 - 22:02
Feb 11 - 20:03
Feb 19 - 19:44
Feb 27 - 17:24
Mar 12 - 20:05
Mar 21 - 16:32
Mar 26 - 17:58
Apr 15 - 17:29
May 2 - 28:18 (ran 4.94 miles this day)
May 20 - 16:01
May 22 - 17:55
My running routine went on hiatus because of a 6 week trip to Alpharetta, GA to do an internship with North Point Campus Expansion. I literally only ran once on a treadmill during this time. We were kept busy with a lot of meetings, aka, sitting on our backsides for four weeks straight! Combining that with a lot of southern food and overdosing on sweet tea contributed to me gaining 10 lbs! When I got home I was very excited to get back to my beloved running route! Below are all of the runs to date since getting back to Ventura, CA.

July 28 - 17:10
July 29 - 16:20
July 31 - 15:30
Aug 4 - 14:31
Aug 5 - 14:56
Aug 6 - 13:34
Aug 9 - 13:35
Aug 11 - 15:08
Aug 12 - 13:16

I usually start my run around 7am. It's the best running time of the day and I literally notice the increased energy and focus levels I have on the days I run. On future posts I'll throw up a run time and comments now that you're caught up on my year.

What do you do to take care of the only instrument through which you experience life? If you're not doing much I challenge you to improve your life this week. Pick a day this week and a time to do it and keep your promise to yourself by following through. Let me know how it goes.

For the next few posts I'll share a few other random things I strive to do to improve my life and that you could do to improve yours instantly. I'll explain in the next few posts so you better come back regularly but for now here's what I call them:
1. The alarm clock promise 2. First three in the door 3. Power 12 foods 4. Solitude and knees

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chuck Colson

Yesterday at the Leadership Summit at Camarillo Community Church I was intrigued with something Chuck Colson said. "We don't impose, we propose Christianity to people. We're not about creating a theocracy but freedom."

He went on to explain saying that as Christians we should not be about creating government that enforces laws that 'force' people to worship God. The best government we could create would be one that allows religious freedom because that is what God does with us. God pursues us with utmost passion and sacrifice but never crosses the line of a proposal and into the realm of force (In this life or the next!). He gives room for free will. He gives us room to make our own choice about following Him or following something or someone else (less).

I think in the last couple decades our country has made a move away from freedom to forced agnosticism or atheism... because those are the two most non-offensive faiths right? What do I mean?

I remember taking part in "Christmas Pageants" in elementary school. Makes sense to me, our foundational faith in this country that we build this place on is the Christian Bible and the principles found within that good book. Plus our official Holiday on December 25 is spelled "C H R I S T M A S". But now we have found ourselves in the "Winter Concert" era because the government doesn't want to offend and impose Christianity on anyone. My guess is that the word "Christmas" will soon be replaced with something else to describe December 25.

Let's talk about that word "impose". When does a person cross the line from a "proposal" to imposing their beliefs on another? How have you navigated this in the past?

(Invite: I'm leading the band at Catalyst Ventura tomorrow morning at 9:30am. If you're in the area come on out!)

Thursday, August 7, 2008


"Vision leaks". An axiom by Bill Hybels. He explains vision casting by imagining a bucket full of water with holes in the bottom. The water is slowly leaking out. To keep the bucket full you must regularly put more water in. Vision leaks too. You must continuously keep vision before the people. I like it! I had dinner with Larry Brey (from Elevation Church) and he put a metric to how often you need to add water. He said any meeting a leader has with individuals or groups at least 50% of the information is about vision and 50% is tactical. It almost seems too simple or too good to be true, but that's half the battle in life... remembering why we do what we do.

God constantly reminded the Israelites that He is the God who brought them up out of Egypt. (Remember???)
I need to remember why I live (To love God... and therefore everyone else on my travels)
I need to remember why I'm a married (To serve and love my wife)
I need to remember why I'm a Daddy (To invest [teach, model & pray] and care for my temporary gifts from God --> they are on loan from God so I better take care of what's not mine!]

Vision leaks because memory leaks. Memory leaks because you don't have a system in place. What system do you have in place to remember 'why'? What system do you have in place to remind those you lead 'why'?

Where there is no vision the people perish and where they is no system the vision bucket stays too low for too long! Hmm...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

River Park 411

On August 17 RPCC is putting on what's called: "River Park 411". If you're not connecting with 411 that's the number you call for information... when you want to look up someone's phone number and then the phone company charges you like a million dollars! Well, maybe a buck and change. (I don't pay for using 411 anymore!!! I call 1-800-free-411.)

August 17 we'll be introducing our launch team and anyone interested to our facility. We'll have creative boards set up in each room with pictures and explanations of how the room will look. We'll also be doing 'mini-church' with some unplugged worship and a message. We'll end with some open Q & A time and have a few goodies and surprises.

Should be a great morning, come check it out!

What is your worst air travel story? Probably not worse than this.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Heard a great sermon from Pastor Ralph Rittenhouse at Camarillo Community Church this morning. The topic was prayer. Without looking at my notes the one thing I remember is Ralph's clever saying "Knees before feet". He encouraged us all to get on our knees in prayer before we take our first steps in the morning. I love this... this is a "structure" issue... or a "system" issue. Jesus first talked about where you should go before he taught how you should pray in Matthew 6:6ff. That must say something to you about the importance of our prayer location!

The Bible talks about "unceasing" prayer... pray as you go, pray during the busyness of your day. This is great, but it's easy to allow this to be the exclusive form for your prayer life. I've often been guilty of this! I want to get alone physically on a more regular basis and pray.

A few things I'm praying for right now?
1. River Park Community Church: We launch in just over a month. I'm praying our equipment, people and finances come together to launch effectively so we can lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
2. I'm praying for the family of that guy who was beheaded on a Greyhound bus. (Read at your own risk!) Kind of random, but I can't get that out of my mind... very freakish murder and I'm torn up as I think of the pain his family is going through. I'm very thankful that there is a God who will sort all this out in the end!
3. I'm praying for wisdom as a spouse and parent.
4. I'm praying for family friends dealing with a family member who is in the hospital.

So where do you go to pray? Do you struggle with getting alone to pray?