Dr. James Kok

Interviewed by Russ Jacobson

July 19, 2015


Dr. Jim Kok (JK) is a Certified Supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education and a pastor with Crystal Cathedral and Shepherd's Grove since 1984. Jim, along with Craig and Debbie Bourne, are the founders of Care and Kindness Ministries. Jim has devoted his career to the care of hurting people and training others to practice acts of kindness. His new book, Transform Belief into Behavior is available at careandkindness.org and wherever books are sold. Pastor Russ Jacobson (RJ) interviews Jim.

RJ: Our interview guest this morning is a friend and mentor of mine, and it's my great pleasure and privilege to interview him this morning. He's been inspirational in my life and walked with my wife and I through our hard years. He's a friend and a blessing.

Jim has been in ministry with Crystal Cathedral and Shepherd's Grove since 1984. He and his wife, Linda, have four children and nine grandchildren. Welcome, Reverend Jim Kok.

JK: Thank you. This is a great honor because I have the same feelings for you and your family.

RJ: Thank you, Jim. I can truly say that God loves you and so do I. So we are here to talk about your ministry, Care and Kindness. And at the outset, it would seem that Care and Kindness is so foundational. It doesn't get a lot of attention because it's not flashy, and yet it's the essence of scripture. Can you share your thoughts?

JK: Well we have written the book, Transform Belief into Behavior, and the idea is we want people to express more of the love that is in them. People don't realize that the love of Jesus is in everybody, whether they know it or not, and everybody needs some of that all the time from everybody. So not only do we need it from each other, we have it to give to each other.

So our Care and Kindness ministry, which flowed out of this church's ministry, is really an endeavor to have workshops and conferences to try to motivate people to do more of the very little things, even if it's just smiling at people a little more, because that is love. That is the love of Jesus that is in every one of us. Whether we are a Christian or not, have the love of Jesus in us and we want to let that flow.

RJ: You say that it's in all of us, but how does smiling at someone change a person's life?

JK: When you give anything to someone that lifts their spirits, it actually makes them healthier. It affects their brain cells. It affects their cardiovascular system and their blood. They are healthier when you give them something as simple as a pat on the back, a smile, a compliment or a word of appreciation.

The other fascinating thing, and this has been researched in state universities, when you give something to someone, it also makes YOU a healthier person. It helps your heart and your brain cells. It's something that Jesus didn't mention when he called us to love one another, but he knew it.

RJ: So you don't have to go around the world, you don't have to be a pastor, you don't have to have theological training. You can have a ministry right here at home.

JK: That is such a profound reality. And not only that, you have something you can do until you're 99 years old, and even beyond that, because you can be helping people, loving people and lifting their spirits your whole life. You never retire from this.

RJ: I know you probably have a lot of examples, but can you share just one?

JK: Don Heinlein is a very active member of this church, but he hasn't always been a happy Christian. He says, and these are his own words, he was kind of a cranky, crabby guy, and he didn't like church much. He came to this church and he was taken by Warren Nelson to the Homebuilders Sunday School class. Today, Don Heinlein is the most positive, healed, happy person I know. Don is a remarkable example of how loving kindness in that adult class changed his life.

RJ: So you and our very own Craig Bourne have written a new book called Transform Belief into Behavior, Craig and Debbie are also very active in the Care and Kindness ministry and helped to found it.

Can you share a little bit about the fact that if you have a belief in your heart, but it's not expressed in acts of Christian love and mercy, is that really enough to have a belief system and a faith but to not actually express it?

JK: Well there are millions of people who don't realize that the love of Jesus is in them, and they don't realize how much love they have to give to people. I think that we want to get people to realize that they are alive and good, and that they have something to help and lift the spirits of others. Everyone is a gift of God. The love of Jesus is in everybody and everybody needs a little of it from us.

RJ: So in a way, it's like linking your head and your heart.

JK: That's a good expression: linking your head and heart.

RJ: In closing, what one thing would you say to those watching?

JK: Love each other. Say kind words to each other. Smile at each other. Lift each other's spirits.

RJ: Wonderful! Jim, thank you very much.

JK: Thank you.

RJ: For more information on the Care and Kindness Ministry, go to careandkindness.org.

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