Searching for the Truth
As Director of Recorded Media, James Williams is responsible for the sound and video quality of the worship services for their distribution online. He is also the live audio engineer for The Venue services. Every week, he post-mixes a song from both The Venue and Sanctuary services, as well as the Sunday morning message, for uploading online. Currently, the combination of Crossings music and messages online are listened to approximately 2500 times each week! James also did the mixing for the latest Voices of Crossings Choir CD and both Crossings Live CDs. James was a freelance live and recording engineer and drummer for years before he first came to Crossings in December 2005, when he was contracted as the monitor engineer for the Christmas program. He stayed with Crossings on a contract basis as a monitor engineer on Sunday mornings until he started working weekends at Life Church in March 2006 as a studio broadcast engineer for one of their church online campuses. He had already committed to them, but was torn about leaving Crossings. His supervisor, Larry Wallace, assured him by saying, “We’re all part of the same team … a Christian army … there’s no competition involved.”
When Life Church stopped broadcasting live on Sundays and began a simulated live broadcast, James’ workload shifted to Saturdays instead of Sundays. The same week he found out about it, Larry Wallace happened to call and check up on him—and ended up asking him to work at Crossings on Sundays again. Later, when processes at his job changed again, his position was eliminated. At the same time, Crossings was beginning a Saturday night service; so James became a part-time employee of Crossings. He says, “The timing has always been incredible!” He shifted to a full-time employee in December 2011. He remarks, “I don’t know if I could ever leave Crossings because of how much I’ve been loved here.”
James grew up as a preacher’s kid (PK) in the Baptist church. He comments, “All the bad stuff you’ve heard about PKs—that would be me.” Although he was about six when he somewhat understood what Christianity was, at around 19 years old, he “completely kicked all religion out … and decided to find God for myself and make sure I wasn’t believing in something that was just not true.” He explains, “In my quest, I very vigorously searched out the truth and did a lot of research. In my early 30s, I found enough evidence that let me believe without doubt.” He refers to himself as a “Thomas,” saying that he’s a skeptic—not on purpose, it’s just the way he’s built. However, he has so many personal experiences to add to the hard evidence he found that he no longer doubts. “…The experiences on top of the evidence has unbelievably blessed me with the peace of not ever doubting … I know what it’s like to doubt … and it’s just life-changing to not doubt.”
Praising and Worshipping
One of the most transforming experiences in his Christian walk has been in the area of tithing. Prior to 2012—his first year of being full-time at Crossings—James did not have a solid, steady income that wasn’t based on being a free-lance contractor. He still gave some offerings and tithes—he was a Baptist PK, after all—but he never gave “on a consistent, rock-solid schedule, and if I didn’t have enough money to tithe, then I wouldn’t,” he reveals.
In the early months of 2012, that changed as he felt God speaking to him through the passage of Malachi 3:10. He describes it as the Scripture saying, “Test me on this—tithe!” He paraphrases, “God says you need to at least be obedient and trust Me. He says, ‘Test me on this; you won’t be disappointed … You tithe and I will shower you, ‘” explains James, “and that’s what I wanted!”
So in 2012, James decided to trust God. Though he always—even in his doubting years—believed in God. “I have trust issues,” he discloses, “trusting people and trusting God to take care of me.” But he goes on, “I made a decision to give at least 10 percent of my gross earnings from Crossings as tithe … My life changed completely!”
“I think the whole point of tithing and giving,” he declares, “is not about money but about trust … trust in the One you say you believe in … and that trust being an act of worship and believing there really is a God. You don’t do that kind of stuff religiously when it’s barely in your budget if you don’t truly believe there is a God and that He will take care of you.” To James, recognition of God is praise, and what you do from that recognition is worship. “Praise and worship are sometimes grouped together as the same thing, but they’re different. It takes one to do the other. You can’t worship what you don’t believe in. You have to recognize who God is before you can worship.”
He also shares, “I had always felt like a step-kid on the porch, while everybody else was in God’s house eating at the dinner table. I would get fed, but I wasn’t part; I wasn’t a part of the immediate family, I was somehow acquired. I feel like part of the main blessing of tithing for me is being right with God in His design … we were designed to depend on Him and trust Him.” James began tithing because he wanted “to trust God to bless me instead of me trying to do it. I wanted to get all the blessing I could and … be in communion with God.”
Connecting Passion and Purpose
James remembers, in 2012, being lonely. He had always felt like he was meant to be married, but had already been through a divorce. Although his life was somewhat good and he had a great job, “the big point of life was missing … my own family. That’s what I really wanted.” He recalls, on Christmas Day of 2012, being in his apartment with only his dog, heartbroken because he didn’t have his own immediate family to be with on Christmas. “It was a hard day,” he remembers. “I cried to God to please send me the one He had for me.” God was already at work. On that same evening, Melissa Jackson was in a hotel room far away from home. After stretching her boundaries on eHarmony, Melissa saw James’ profile and contacted him. They were married on November 23, 2013. He shares, “I’ve never met a sweeter woman in my life … I think if someone is truly, authentically sweet, it only comes from God.” Their son, Jackson was born on September 14, 2014. James reveals, “Having a child has rocked my world. Sometimes I just look at him while I’m feeding him, and I just cry … and that’s out of worship … realizing what God and only God can do.”
“Trusting,” he says, “by tithing … it’s huge. My life has never been the same. It’s out of my control … Even though our money is tight because Melissa isn’t teaching this year, we still tithe and we won’t stop tithing—because it’s not about the money … it’s not a finance issue, it’s a trust issue. Trusting Him on this … is the beginning of blessing; it’s the beginning of experiencing God.” He explains, “I didn’t do it to get something, except to get in line … in unison … with God. I feel like it brought me off the front porch and into the dinner table sitting right next to Him, feeling loved.”
He challenges those who are skeptical about tithing: “Try it because God does say we can test Him on this.” You, too, may discover, as James did, that the real blessings are not financial, but more of God Himself.
“Getting Off the Porch” originally published by Jennifer Ayotte, Director of Internal Communications, in the Winter 2014 edition of Crossings Magazine.