Songs of Salvation – James J. Stewart

Posted November 18, 2018 by Phyllis Helton in Songs of Salvation /

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And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:11 NLT

I grew up in a Christian home where going to church was assumed unless you were deathly sick. My second-grade church school teacher talked about Jesus as though He was a close friend, but that did not sink in. My parents sang in the choir and were Christ-centered people. In family worship in our mountain cabin, we were each choosing a scripture to read and talk about it. When my older brother chose the 23rd Psalm, which was my choice, I looked for a New Testament passage to read and chose Matthew 28:16-20. God was at work on my life, but to this day, I don’t know why I chose that passage. It turned out to be prophetic for me.

When I told the minister that believed that Jesus is the Christ and accepted him as my personal Savior, I did so because I thought it was time to do so, but my Christian faith was paper thin. I was 11 when I was baptized two weeks later. When I was 19, I preached one of the two sermonettes on Youth Sunday, and I was told I was going to be a preacher. My response? “No way!”

After getting my B.A. in music, I taught music for a year in the public schools. I decided I wanted to go back and earn a master’s degree. When I failed an important mid-term, I wasn’t upset, and coming from a family of teachers, it should have. After a long walk in the hills, I went to see my pastor. He said that God may be tugging me on my sleeve. Jeremiah 1:5 ways, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you, and I consecrated you.” Still, my faith had little substance when I dropped out of my music studies. I began to sense God at work in my life. I moved halfway across the country to enter a seminary.

After graduating and being ordained, I began serving a large church full-time as a Minister of Christian Education. At first, I thought I could stay there for the rest of my life and eventually become the senior pastor. Then I began to feel inadequate, and I resigned to go back to seminary to earn my doctorate. When that was concluded, I took on a small church in a small town in Northern California, and I still felt inadequately equipped for what I was doing. God had further plans for me.

When I started serving a slightly larger church in Southern California, I became interested in attending a National Evangelism Workshop. That was a crucial turning point. I met people who were in love with Jesus. Over a period of seven years as pastor of two churches in different communities, Jesus became centered in my heart. I set up a pattern of daily Bible readings, and I’ve been reading four chapters each day ever since. Chapters 14 and 15 of John’s gospel have been critical to my spiritual development, and I have preached from John more often than from any other book in the Bible.

Over the remainder of my pastoral career, God led me to a series of churches that were either spiritually sick or in trouble. I often began with a difficult calling with Romans 8:18 – “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” God is infinitely patient and gracious. Like everyone else, I am blessed far more than I deserve. God used me in places where I probably would not have gone if I had married. Approaching the last phase of my pastoral career, I began to recall a story I had written when I was in elementary school. That short story evolved into an extensive science fiction fantasy about God’s activity on several planets in a number of galaxies.

God’s plans have always turned out to be bigger than mine. Since retiring from pastoral ministry, God has led me into become a writer and a prayer warrior. In addition to writing Christian romance novels, Christian poetry, and books on spiritual development, I have also published a few picture books centered around Yosemite National Park. Photography became my hobby the same year I became a Christian, and Yosemite has been my home away from home.

About James J. Stewart

J-J Stewart was born in Long Beach, California. It was a three-generation household including his parents, his mother’s father, and his brother. When J-J was four, he started performing his older brother’s piano lessons, so lessons were started for him as well. After graduating with honors from high school in a graduating class of 941, he went on to Long Beach City College and Cal-State Long Beach. Eventually he earned a degree in piano and voice, attending classes with Karen and Richard Carpenter of “The Carpenters” fame. J-J then decided to go into full-time Christian service, moving to Fort Worth and Texas Christian University. After getting his professional degree and becoming ordained, J-J accepted a position in California.

Less than two years later J-J returned to T.C.U. to earn his doctorate. Along the way he also picked up a certificate in clinical pastoral counseling. In the 1980’s J-J became intensely interested in evangelism. About that time he began to grow spiritually as he intensely studied the Bible. J-J also trained as a consultant in evangelism and church growth. Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in August of 1992, and in the spring of 1993 J-J went there to do hurricane relief work, which took me nearly three years. J-J developed a system of Bible study and disciplined himself to adhere to it, rising an hour earlier each morning to do so. In December of 1999 J-J moved to Eugene, Oregon in order to be closer to his brother. At that time J-J began work on his first novel. There are more than a dozen of his books currently available on Amazon.


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