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Updated: May 5

I listened to a really good sermon this morning, and it really got me thinking.

Over the past years, Jimmy & I have done plenty of ministry, in many capacities.  We have done college groups, marriage groups, singles ministry, young families groups, kids ministries, youth groups, a couple church plants, and so on. 

Jimmy was on a path to maybe become a pastor, get ordained, lead something.  We weren’t sure, but we were walking that path.  As we had more kids, and God continued to speak to us, we both felt the call to pause that endeavor, refocus on family and faith, and just find where God could use us for His purpose.   Jimmy stopped pursuing his Master’s degree, and at that time we were involved in a church plant.

Now, having had 4 kids as a stay-at-home mom, many small newborns through all of these years, these years were NOT easy.  I can’t remember a day thinking, “Oh wow, this whole ministry thing is easy and smooth.”  Nope, never.  It came with sacrifice, it came with change, it came with transitioning our entire family.  Our kids went through a lot of change, as did we.  I was alone a lot, with all the kids, as Jimmy was at church early, stayed late, had meetings, had Bible studies, etc.  It would’ve been easy to just attend a church on Sundays, and go home.  In all honesty, it crossed my mind many times.  Why couldn’t we just do the “easy” and “comfortable” thing?  Why were we continuing to take huge steps of faith and church plant, switch churches, make new friends, find ways to serve sacrificially, etc?  Well, because sometimes God takes us out of our comfort zone to grow us in ways we would not experience by just attending on Sundays to a church we are comfortable at.  Sometimes, God challenges us to use our gifts in ways that make us tired and weary, knowing that He is changing us to be more like Him.  Sometimes, a lot of times, those big steps and changes hurt some, and they stretch you…but goodness, I am thankful for those years.  Those years of changing churches, 3 years of church planting here, 3 years of church planting there, sacrificing time with family for ministry.  All of it.  It taught us HIS LOVE.  It taught us how to share the gospel, and live for the gospel.  It taught us that Christ sacrificed it all for us, and that we should live with that in our mind, always.  And it taught our kids to live that way, which was hugely important to us.

On this message I heard, the Pastor said, “The church grows not by the preaching of a few anointed Apostles, but when every believer is filled with the Spirit and testifies to the gospel in the streets.”  This hit me, because Jimmy dealt with a lot of doubts after pausing his endeavor for full-time ministry.  He felt as though he had worked for years towards this path he thought God wanted for him, and then failed.  I have reminded him that he is NOT a failure.  He has worked tirelessly for Christ, in MANY ways that no one would even know.  It was hard for all of us, especially Jimmy, to almost feel like a let down.  To go from pursuing this path, to just attending Sunday church.  Through these months, I kept praying.  I prayed hard for God to show up, to refresh Jimmy’s heart and mind, and reveal where it was He wanted Him to serve.  My husband has so many amazing gifts, and it was hard to watch him sit, kind of in wonder, waiting and trusting.  I knew God had a plan - it just took a little while for Him to show us 🙂  I know God was working on Jimmy through these months, as I prayed and prayed, because I saw glimpses of the Jimmy who becomes alive and full of passion when He is serving God.  

Now, being a firefighter since 2004, Jimmy has seen a lot.  He has been faced with literal life and death, and I know those things he has seen and experienced has truly changed the way he thinks about life.  I remind him often that just because he did not continue pursuing that “so-called successful job”, he is still called to SO much.  He has been called to preach the gospel for YEARS at the fire stations he’s been to.  Church or not, on a stage or not, with a degree or not, my man has been used to change SO many lives.  If you have ever talked to him, you’ve probably seen that in him - if he knows you, I can bet he has prayed for you or with you sometime in your life.  That is just how he lives, and it’s stinkin’ awesome.  

This message I heard today was so good, because it was such an encouragement.  He spoke about Philip in Acts 1.  Acts 1 described him as a layman, not an apostle, who proclaimed Christ. The Pastor said, “This passage tells us Philip’s ministry was one of word and deed.  They ‘heard him’ and ‘saw the signs he did.’”  He was a “true witness”.  My goodness, that was a perfect description of how I see Jimmy.  

Evangelism is more than just a pastor standing in front of a church with prepared messages.  Evangelism is for anyone and everyone - ordinary, lay people.

“The very first time the gospel expanded beyond Jerusalem, it was carried in the mouths of normal people, not apostles.  This, I believe, is the Holy Spirit’s sign to us for how the great commission would be accomplished.”  God gives us what we need to share, beyond what we could ask or think - when we are just AVAILABLE.  We don’t need a specific calling to a specific “job” in ministry - our life, our workplace, our families, our friends, our neighborhoods - sometimes that is our “JOB” in ministry!! It’s the way we LIVE.

Sometimes, God takes us into these places.  Sometimes, it is as simple as speaking to someone in the grocery store or the fire station.  Sometimes, it is a prepared message on a stage.  Sometimes, it’s a job transfer, a hurting waitress, a school employee.  God has bigger purposes for us than we can even realize or recognize.  We truly never know where God can use us in ordinary places!  We have the same Holy Spirit as the most “spiritual” person who may be considered to be more “spiritually successful” because they are on a stage.

Sharing the gospel and being a witness of Christ does not have parameters.   The greatest advancements are not just from a pastor, but from where we, as ordinary people, go naturally.

I am confident that God had plans for Jimmy then that did not include full-time ministry, though he was seeking that trying to walk in faith.  I am confident that all the different ministries and church plants that we were involved in were for a PURPOSE, and though we had no “finish line” or no “accomplishments”, Christ was glorified and that, to me, is a success.  I am not sure how God will change all that once Jimmy retires from the fire department, but I am confident HE HAS USED HIM all these years, and will continue.

As I write this, I am thinking of a few stories I remember from Jimmy’s years of “MINISTRY”:

  • Meeting with a pizza shop owner weekly, praying with him - leading him to Christ

  • A friend he had over for years in a men’s Bible study - now the pastor of a church

  • A high school buddy who he reconnected with, and is now pastoring a church

  • Firefighters who have called him in the middle of the night asking for prayer

  • Walking friends through divorces and seeing God heal their marriage

  • Speaking life into his cousin’s life who was struggling as a cop, and recommitted his life to Christ

  • Changing the lives of SO many couples and young families that we led in small groups

  • Having a part in many youth boys’ lives from just one weekend spent with them talking about purity

  • Preaching hard around the dinner table to these worldly firefighters

  • Being called “preacher” and “Bible boy” because he brought his Bible everywhere, but then being sought out by the same people who made fun of him when going through hard things in life, because they know he loves Jesus

  • The list could go on.

We have power & potential, as we have the Holy Spirit.  Preaching the gospel needs both word and deed.  I truly love seeing how God has used Jimmy in those exact ways - the amount of people he has shared the gospel with at the fire station, on fire calls, at meetings, around the tables at different overtime nights, the amount of people he’s prayed with and for, the amount of people who have called him for support - THAT is a success.  He has preached it more than just preparing messages for a stage - he has lived it, day in and day out, in HARD situations.  If Jimmy had pursued ministry full-time then, as he had originally sought, the opportunities he was placed into the past 15ish years by God would not have happened.  If Jimmy had been more tied down to a full-time church job then, his circle of people he saw daily would’ve been SO different.  He is now on the streets, in dark parts of the world, seeing life and death right in front of his face (literally), and his passion and urgency for Christ has come from THAT.  I am confident that even though he never got ordained, or never became a pastor, or never earned a “name” or a job, Jimmy was NOT a failure.  We will see where God takes us next!  

Pastors are needed.  They are crucial to grow the church family.  But they are not the only ones God uses to bring people to him - he uses mothers & fathers, office workers, firefighters, cashiers, teachers, garbage men, church planters, waiters, etc.  I want to remind you, and myself, that just because you do not have a place that the world deems as “successful”, that does not mean you are not CRUCIAL to sharing the gospel.  You share Jesus with ONE person, that is a success.  

*** edited to add***

And, you know what? I dealt a lot with, and still deal with to this day, the feeling of "not being enough" or "not doing enough". Staying home with kids soo many years can almost feel like, I don't know, NOT important. The world and our culture definitely doesn't deem that as success or worthwhile. But I know God called me to it, and I've had to really work to surrender those thoughts, because being a full-time, intentional mom is FULL TIME ministry. I know God has used all of my moments of motherhood to create in me so many changes, to create in me a need for Him, and to give me a story of my own to share. A lot of times, those unseen years are the years that are changing and impacting HUGELY. I have to continue to live in confidence that I don't need to change the world, but instead, my HOME. It isn't easy, it's super sacrificial, and it sure isn't pretty all the time, but geez, it's so worth it. And I see the fruits of that in my own children. And I thank God for that. I thank God for a husband who gave me the opportunity to stay home, and I thank God for working in such a sinful, selfish, ordinary woman like me. All the glory to Him.

We have come a long way, Jimmy and I, and I have pumped to see where God continues to lead us, as we just continue to walk in faith and follow His lead. He is so so good, and so so faithful. More than we could ask or imagine.

I look forward to our time as the High School Directors at Spanish River Church, because I AM CONFIDENT He will continue to use us.

We surrender our plans to you, Christ!

Babe, you are a success and an ambassador for Christ, and I am proud of the life you’ve lived.

Philippians 1:6

"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."


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