This is My Story: Spiritual and Autobiographical Notes

I wrote this a while back, but if you don't know me and want to, or want to know some of the back story, here you go: 

David and Ruth James, my parents, were and are committed followers of Jesus, and their devotion was apparent to me not only in the reality that they sacrificed to send my sister and me to private Christian schools, but in the all-night charismatic prayer parties my mother would drag me to, and the open Bible my dad would leave on the breakfast table in the morning.  Because of my heritage, I was always aware of God’s existence and taught from an early age the stories of Scripture.  I was an obedient child and held the virtues of honesty and integrity very highly, to the point of telling the truth in sixth grade when my best friend lied to cover for us for throwing rocks at cars, though I feared it would break the friendship.  (It didn't.) 

In high school I was blindsided by God one day when
me and my fellow dweebs wandered into a lunch-time bible study.   I was captivated by the vibrancy and passion for faith I saw in my peers and felt compelled to ‘own my faith’ by reading the Bible and praying on my own, which I did with considerable devotion, if not with much understanding.

During college God blessed me with roommates who had grown up in East Africa as missionary kids.  My worldview and theology expanded exponentially through these relationships, as I began to see the richness of the global church, the brokenness of my own nation and family and God’s heart for justice.  In the milieu of Wheaton College the universal litmus test of spiritual health was believed to be the daily devotion, and I consequently became an avid journaler and for a year prayed for exactly 30 minutes daily.  Upon reflection, I wonder if this time had been more a matter of duty, or, even worse, appearance, than a life-giving connection with God.  

My sophomore year, I signed up for Youth Hostel Ministry, an informal evangelistic ministry to traveling community in Europe, and during the months of orientation was introduced to Celebration of Discipline and other important and inspiring books by Christian authors.  This was a time of new and increasing gratitude, expectation and life in relationship with Jesus, which was also aided by participation in a Gospel Choir.  That summer’s experience was considerably challenging and disappointing, yet with undeniable moments of grace and providence.  This experience kindled in me the beginnings of a sense of calling to ministry and I began questioning the degree choice I had made toward Physics.

After a trip to Kenya and being invited to give leadership to Youth Hostel Ministry, I experienced a clear sense of direction from God about changing my degree, confirmed thrice on the day I prayed asking for direct and unmistakable guidance.  It was during this time that my journey with God became both more intimidatingly ambiguous and more directly personal when Christ spoke to my heart, “Follow Me.”  Responding to this perennial call became the driving passion of my life.  Shortly thereafter, I felt God speak also to me, “Feed my sheep” and set my sights toward church ministry and changed my major to Christian Education and Ministry.

At this time I was worshiping at a Charismatic Anglican church, which taught me both the value of traditional liturgy, and the joy of Eucharistic celebration – lending great vitality to my personal life and to my vision of Christ’s church.

Though I felt that seminary was in my future, I also eagerly desired to put my college education into practice in church ministry.   Consequently, I spent the next two years working full-time with the high school students at University Presbyterian Church.  This opportunity afforded me experience in many of the facets of ministry, including mission, preaching, relational spiritual care and leading a small group bible study.  It was for me both a lonely time (as I grieved the loss of my intimate college companions, and pined for a wife) but also a time of deep connection with God in Scripture as I soaked in God’s Word many evenings.  I had another significant experience of guidance which led me to Fuller Theological Seminary.

After all that pining, I did finally meet the woman who would eventually my wife, a fellow intern--Lindsay.  Our rather dramatic differences of personality and religious experience have been for me a source of great growth and challenge.  Having spent most of her life outside of the church, she brings me a fresh perspective on what it means to follow Jesus.  Marriage has been God’s best remedy yet for my pride, and his clearest voice of love to me.

As it should be, seminary was for me a time of deep learning, wrestling and dreaming.  I learned to read the Bible as the simultaneous word of God to people in ancient times and places, and from there, as God’s Word to me.  I was captivated by the breadth of God’s heart for the world and his plan of salvation – through broken communities which he has nevertheless called his own, and chosen to be vessels and messengers of his grace to the world.  Seminary was also a time of disillusionment – largely with my peers, far too many of whom seemed disinterested in holiness.  I began to see the cracks in the church – the dark closets, power struggles and brokenness. 

As we prepared to graduate from seminary, Lindsay and I had hopes of working together as a clergy couple.  While one opportunity like this came up, it seemed not to have God’s blessing, and instead we followed our best discernment of God’s call for Lindsay to take a position at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, trusting that God would provide for me.  Little did we know how faithful God would be to our step of faith.  Less than 2 months after the move, I came on staff as well and we served together as Ministers in that lively and active congregation undergoing significant transition. 

During our time at MPPC, both Lindsay and I were showered with opportunities and challenges.  One of the greatest blessings was my invitation to participate in the 2-year Renovare Institute in Christian Spiritual Formation.  After three years at MPPC, God opened a door for me to pursue further academic study and I entered a PhD program in Practical Theology at Boston University School of Theology..


  1. Chris, you wrote: "they sacrificed to send my sister and I to private Christian schools." Actually, the correct way to phrase it is: "they sacrificed to send my sister and ME to private Christian schools." Don't you think that sounds better? Just a tip.

    --Craig, gay, post-Anglo-Catholic reprobate

  2. Craig, Thanks for the grammatical help. I must say, I'm curious what might have motivated you to read this post?

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