In print

Since is shipping True Story as of yesterday, it really must be out there. Gulp.

Over two years ago, I was stuck fast to my chair. The Sunday service at Coast had just ended, and I didn’t want to move. I knew there was more for me. So I just sat. Waiting. And I asked God: if you want me to stop writing this book, I will. I don’t want to do this for my sake. Only if you want me to. And I didn’t have to wait long to hear these three words: bless my Church. With those words, my body shook and tears streamed down my face.

Back in my 20’s, I would’ve thought that a clear message from God would mean that life would be easy. Didn’t God say to do it? Wouldn’t all the red lights just magically turn green? Now in my 30s, I realize that when I hear something that strongly from God, the road will probably get much more difficult. Perhaps God knew that I needed to hear him strongly, because I’d doubt his promises otherwise.

And there were good reasons to doubt: my book was originally rejected by InterVarsity Press. They took four months to decide because the editors were split, so they sent the proposal to outside readers. The readers shared enough negative feedback to kill it. But in my rejection letter, an editor was kind enough to say that he thought the book was “publishable.” That was June 2006. Then another publisher rejected me a few months later, saying that they thought it would sell respectably, but they didn’t know me. But how was I going to get known if I wasn’t published? Catch-22. I wasn’t just hitting red lights, but potholes, construction sites and roadblocks. But I thought God said…

But in December 2006, I asked for some time with that same IVP editor at a conference we were both attending. After we met, he gathered an impromptu meeting of five or six other editors on the publishing committee and asked me to share the same story. And they invited me to resubmit the proposal. The rest, as they say, is history. Or at least, it’s in print.

So now it’s in my hands, and I can’t read more than a few pages before putting the book down. I’m too antsy. It’s been at my house for over two weeks, collecting dust on my book table, and I still can’t get myself to read it through. What if there’s a mistake? Or what if it’s not the way I thought it would be? Neurotic, eh? Well, one day, I’ll be ready. In the meantime, I hope the book does what it’s supposed to: I hope it’s a blessing to His Church, and ultimately, to Him too.

Some news: the book was mentioned in a Christianity Today column.

And if you liked the book, please go over to and review it. It would help get the message out. Thanks!

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  1. Got my copies yesterday! :) Look forward to reading it!!


  2. I completely relate to the neurosis that comes when you hold a book that you’ve written in your hands. When I had the first copy of my book in my hands, it was exciting and terrifying at the exact same time!

    But I am extremely proud of you and what you’ve accomplished. I’ve always thought of you as a gift to the Church and I’m sure that this book will accomplish EXACTLY what Lord intends. I look forward to reading it.

    So…can I open for you when you go on your book tour?


  3. Hey James, funny story…I’m sitting drinking coffee with students walking through the booklet, “Based on a True Story,” when all of the sudden I accidentally spill coffee on…the booklet.

    After the initial shock and horror of what I may have done to my computer, I smile and realize I now am looking at coffee spilled on the surface of a book cover image of…yes, coffee spilled on a surface.

    How ironic.

    I picked up my copy and already am using the booklet at our campus mission week this next week – if you think of it, pray for us. Thanks for your perseverance and faithfulness in making it a reality.


  4. Congrats James. I relate to your writing journey quite well, and I know what a huge accomplishment it is to not only write a book, but to actually get it published.


  5. Todd — any time, man, any time! And I still haven’t read it.

    Andy — that’s great! Please let me know how the campus stuff goes.

    Adam — I ran into your wife at the NPC, and she said that your book proposal was accepted! Congrats man! That’s exciting to hear — so does that mean six people have or will be published from that writer’s workshop class?


  6. Thanks, James. My process was similar to yours – send in the original book proposal, have it declined, deal with the disappointment, rework the proposal and send it in again, wait four months, and then get it accepted. My wife told me you got to meet NT Wright at that conference – if that’s all I get out of this book, it was worth it.

    Who else had their proposals accepted from that class, in addition to you, me, and the ladies who wrote More than Serving Tea?


  7. Adam —

    That’s five. And then I thought someone else made it: someone who was working on female addictions to lust. Did that never make it to print?


  8. Hi Pastor James,

    You may not remember me, but I asked you to pray for me after you spoke at Newsong last Sunday. I didn’t even get to introduce myself that day… in fact, I can’t even believe I actually had guts to go up to you and ask for a prayer. As I was listening to your message, something was stirring me from deep inside. I felt like God was really speaking to me. It seemed like God was reminding me of His purpose in my life in a very strong yet gentle voice that day. Just a little about myself… oh, my name is Seonhye Kim. I started teaching in Compton about six years ago, and I truly believed that God has called me to there not just to teach but to witness Him (not through speaking about Him publicly, but by the way I am.) One day as I was showing a globe to my students, it hit me about God’s great commisssion for us to go to the “ends of the earth” to be His witnesses. Where’s the ends of the earth? The very place where I am standing right now is the end of the earth from the opposite side, farthest point. Once I realized that a few years ago, I believed that where I am teaching, the very classroom is the mission field that God has called me to serve those students who walk into my classroom each day. Growing up in a Christian family in Korea, I dreamed to become a missionary someday in a far away, unknown part of the world. And God has led me to where He wanted me to be. HOWEVER, around January of this year, I fell my face flat spiritually. For the first time in my life, I started questioning about the existence of God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….” All of a sudden I could not believe the very first line in the bible. My world seemed to turn upside down. I felt I was brain-washed at churches to say, “I live to glorify God” Once I believed there was no God, there was no reason for me to live. It was the darkest period of my life. I almost quit my job too. But now I look back, through that experience, God broght me closer to His words. Instead of going to Newsong, I spent time at a retreat center and really tried to dig into bible, seeking God. It has been a incredible journey getting to know God through His words. It was the second Sunday I went back to church and my small group after two months of break when you spoke about how God has called us to fight and He is the one who’ll fight for us. Boy! What a timing! I recommitted myself to God throughout your sermon. I wanted to have someone else to confirm that. That’s how I ended up asking for your prayer that day. :) Kind of long story but really wanted to share how God has moved my heart from that day on through your service of speaking to His people. I am excited about how God will work in my life and hope to keep in touch with you in the future.

    I am also reading your book, True Story, and can relate to the story a lot. Awesome job!
    Oh, one more thing, I am IVF alumni from Cypress college and CSUF. :)

    May God bless you and use you and your books mightly!

    Seonhye Kim


  9. Hi Seonhye — it’s exciting to hear how God is moving in you and through you! Thanks for letting me know!


  10. Hi James, I looked you up after seeing that you are a speaker for the National Pastors Convention. I am looking forward to reading your book. It’s great to see more Asian Americans in Christian leadership on the national level. Hope the book does well!


  11. Dear James,

    I read your book shortly after it came out and promptly purchased 100 copies. I do a lot of speaking at Christian colleges and decided I wanted to have copies to give to students. I’ll be speaking at Gordon College’s chapel on Friday and doing my first giveaway. I’ve long been arguing for the Gospel of the Kingdom versus the truncated Gospel and your book put that into words in a great way. Thanks for ministering to the Body through this important book.

    Amy Sherman


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