a personal update

I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the name Capitol City Christian Church. Sitting at my desk in my home office in Amarillo, Texas, I was holding our youngest son, Carson, who was about three weeks old. Kristen and I had slept a total of fifteen minutes since he was born. An email came through that mentioned the church and encouraged me to consider putting myself forward as the church was looking for a new lead pastor.

As I processed that, my immediate reaction was clear, simple, and decisive. I thought to myself: that will never happen. If our Lord has a sense of humor, I imagine he chuckled at that. Because, obviously, it did happen. And it happened because God clearly, simply, and decisively made it happen. He called me to serve at Capitol City six years ago. And he did it in such a way that those who were a part of the process have never been able to doubt that he was the one orchestrating that call.

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my prayers for our search team

Satan hates faithful pastors. He abhors gospel ministry and those who seek to labor at it. The idea a pastor humbly loving and serving a church, faithfully exposing to them the truth of God’s Word, patiently urging them toward personal holiness, confidence in the Lord’s promises, and faithfulness in evangelism and ministry…these things make his skin crawl.

All this, of course, means that Satan hates pastoral search teams, too. Or, at the very least, he loves to undermine their work, their unity, and their love for one another and the church, all with the hope of undermining, in the end, the decisions they make about the kind of pastor that they will call. Because Satan hates pastors, he loves to mess with pastoral search teams.

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why camp matters

Here at Capitol City, we invest a lot in summer camp experiences for our children and students. For three weeks this summer, our students and leaders will travel to camps in Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming for experiences that we have been planning and praying for over the last year. My own children (at least, those who are of camp age) are excited to be a part of these weeks. As parents, Kristen and I are eager to send them. On top of that, as a pastor I believe wholeheartedly in these kinds of experiences. I think so much of what church camp can do in the life of a young person that I am traveling to Wyoming with our high school group next month to help lead the camp.

Why am I so convinced that camp matters? Why do I encourage other parents to send their children to camp? Here are three reasons. (more…)

the painful joy of multiplication

Last week my youngest son’s Kindergarten Registration paperwork came in the mail. He was quite excited. His parents were not.

Certainly we are delighted that Carson is growing, healthy, and (almost) mature enough to spend his days at school. Certainly we are thankful that he has a great school to attend, one that is staffed by caring and devoted teachers and administrators. And certainly we are excited to see him take steps forward into maturity. But, if we are honest, those steps forward also seem to us like steps away from a season of life that we’ve loved. As a preschooler, our little man has brought us much joy. He is fun. We love the enthusiasm and boisterousness of his “little” years. Now he’s getting “big” – and that is a bittersweet reality, to say the least. (more…)

community opens your eyes

“Help me to see the messes I don’t see anymore.”

That’s what Kristen will say to me when she’s preparing our home to entertain guests. We have four young kids who live full lives on top of our own full lives. Consequently, our house is not always ready for unexpected houseguests. Instead, when we know people are coming over, Kristen cleans. (I would like to say that I help, but I’m not sure that picking up the shoes I’ve left out all over the house really counts.)

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like a family: how community groups work

Last fall, my cell phone rang while I was sitting in my office one afternoon. I didn’t recognize the number that was calling, but because it was from our area code, I answered.

“This is James.”

On the other end, there was a brief pause, long enough to be awkward but not quite long enough to be called pregnant. Finally, “Uh, what time is Devin supposed to come over?”

I froze for a moment. The voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Plus, I had no idea who Devin was, much less what time he was supposed to come over. So I said, “Excuse me?”

Again: “What time is Devin supposed to come over?” Still, I hesitated. Then the breakthrough: “Mom said we were taking him home from school, but he doesn’t think so.” At last, everything clicked. (more…)

the grace of community

Some things are better shared than enjoyed alone. My two oldest sons are bookworms. When one reads and loves a book, he immediately wants to share it with the other. He is convinced that his enjoyment of that book will be greater if he can share it with his brother. Perhaps you have felt the same way about a book. Or a movie. Or a joke. Or a restaurant.

We usually want to share with others the things that bring us real joy in life. We want to help others know and experience the things we delight in. Our joy in them actually increases when we share that joy with other people. (more…)