The Year That Changed My Life

Adjustment. Refinement. Correction. Modification. Reversal.  Say it anyway you like and it means the same thing: Change.   We’re told it is good for us. But few truly enjoy it.   Most people are willing to change, not because they see the light, but because the feel the heat! I’m no different. This year, I’ve been going through a lot of adjustments and refinements. I quit my band, picked up my Colorado roots and moved the whole family to the retiree state.  I closed a thriving business and started it up again in Florida.  (Thriving is not the word I would use to describe the new business.)  We also learned (or should I say are learning) to live on a LOT less money.

Those have been big changes in my life.  But they are not what changed my life this year.  Today, in our last post of the year, I’d like to share the two things that have altered my course.  I know it is a departure of sorts from the typical things I write about.   I am hopeful that you will suffer through my ramblings and perhaps be encouraged to think about what God is doing in your own life.

The Christian Life is a Journey, Not an Event

I started this blog a little over a year ago as a way to talk about the sad state of the evangelical church in America.  Those of you who have read the blog know where I stand on this issue.  I needed somewhere that I could publicly call the church back to its foundations and find encouragement and support from other like-minded people.  Thank you to all who have helped me!

I thought, rather naively, that if we just got the church back on track things would get better.  I was very service oriented in my thinking:  The service needs to be better.  Our worship needs to be more cross-centered.  Our preaching needs to be more biblical  and so on.  All of this is true.

However, along the way I realized that the Christian life is not an event we go to one to three times each week.  It is not an event but an exciting journey.  A life lived following Jesus.  A road we travel down with the Savior of our souls.

I know this sounds like Christianity 101.  It is basic Christianity. You just have to go back to the early church to see what it means to live like that. This past year I have gone back, and it has forever changed my view of Christianity.  I now realize Christ did not call me so that I would know a bunch of information about Him, and get all my theology just right (I’m not saying theology is bad!).  He died so that I might live!  Yes, live forever in eternity with him.  But now, today, in this one life I have, he calls me to follow him, to obey him, to trust him, to experientially know Him and be conformed to the image of His Son.   We have more than enough information to do this.  In my case, I had been trained “how to follow” Him far more than my willingness to follow Him.   Christianity is a journey, it is a life that we must daily choose to live.  We come to know Him more and more along the way.

Understanding this is one reason that my life changed this year.  The second reason is a little more personal.

My Vocation and My Calling Were Never Meant to Change

I was called to pastor right out of Bible College.  God sent my wife and I to a little church in Carson, California.   When I started, fresh out of College, I had all the answers to all the questions.  Ten years later, I didn’t even know what the questions were!  Even if I did, I didn’t know the answers.  (You have to have gone through this to know what I mean, but if you have, you should be nodding your head right now!)  It was quite humbling.

How we loved those people and cherished our time there.  I am sure that the only reason they put up with me was because I had such a great wife!  During that time the enemy sowed a seed into my life.  Over the next 10 years this seed would sprout and grow into a huge tree that obscured my vision.  What was this seed?  It was simply this:  Exchange my calling as a pastor for financial peace of mind.

Back when I was pastoring, there was never enough money.  It was kind of a bummer to not know if you would get a check from week to week.  And so I had a dream:  What if I could start a business and earn enough money from that to support my family?  Then I could volunteer as a pastor anywhere and in any church God directed me.  It sounded good on paper.  So that is what I did.

It worked out exactly like that.  Except for one problem.  God had not called me to be a worship leader, which is what I ended up doing (everyone needs a guitar player with decent vocal skills who can recruit, train and develop a worship team.) I had been called to be a pastor.  Everywhere I went, I helped other pastors build there churches.  I was happy to do it and was  very fruitful doing it.  But I always felt like I was settling.  The reality wasn’t the same thing as the dream.

In July, we moved to Florida to start a music teaching school. I had big plans.   I would spend 5 years building it up (I am pretty good at that kind of thing) then hire someone to run it, draw a large salary and volunteer to serve anywhere God directed me.  I can almost hear the Godhead laughing at my plans.  His plan was the one that mattered and it was different.

Once we got here, God impressed upon my wife and I with absolute clarity:  We were not called to start a business.  I had been called to pastor and the financial support for that would come from the church He called us to.  That is a mega-shift for me and it will re-shape my life more than anything.

I have learned a lot in this 10 year side-trip.  God, in his unfathomable mercy, poured out his grace upon my life and kept bringing me back to the same place.  I feel like the guy who had to take his drivers test 5 times before finally passing it.   I am so grateful for His love and kindness and that He put up with me until I finally heard his voice.  Why God puts up with a treasonous, rebellious traitor such as myself baffles me.  His mercy moves me to tears.

Now we realize that Florida is not the destination, just a pit stop along the way.  God brought us here to go through the trials we have endured so that we might learn these things.   I don’t know where He leads us next, but I am excited about the possibilities.  Truly 2011 has been a year that has reshaped my life.

Happy New Year my friends!  May you find yourself living in Him this coming year.

(You can see my wife’s blog at )

About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on December 31, 2011, in Christianity, Church Leadership, Contemporary Church Culture, The Christian Life, The Cross and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. A wonderful testimony my friend, and a wonderful reminder of God’s words that we should worry about treasure in heaven and not on earth. I am glad to have met you this year, it is inspiring to read you post and I hope that God continues to push you in the direction that He wants you to go. Happy New Year new friend!


  2. Why indeed would God put up with a treasonous traitor such as I? God is patient beyond reason! (by the way, my mom and dad are LIFE grads from 1965 & 1972 respectively…)


  3. That is an awesome testimony Jim. I am encouraged by your willingness to be human before other humans who can attest to being the same treasonous traitors, if we would but shed our self-righteous garments that hide nothing from the One who matters anyway. I’m excited to see how God now uses you as a willing and surrendered servant to His calling. Please keep us informed, and we’ll be praying that His will becomes known in His time. God bless, brother.


  4. This year has been a year of change for me also – some good, some not so much – but I know He will work everything for my good in the end. I am looking forward to this new year with great expectation to see where He will lead. Happy New Year.


  5. Thanks Jim, for your honest “gut spilling”. It does us all a world of good to take a moment and reflect on where the Lord has brought us from and how He’s ordered our steps.

    The lumps always hurt but as long as we’re learning from them, it’s all worth it! lol

    God bless,


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