"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Congratulations Class of 2005!

To the class of 2005 from Salem Baptist Church....may God hold you and keep you, make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. And a special shout out to:

Luke - I so thoroughly enjoyed our theological discussions each Monday at Chick-fil-a. You made me think a lot, but someday you'll realize that I was always right. Best of luck at Kaleo and as you prepare for the ministry in coming years.

Colt - The coolest guy I know with the coolest car. If nothing else, you wil have a career as a video expert in almost any area of study. You could probably even fool a jury if you hired out as a court expert. Just stay away from trying out for lifeguard.

Douglas - Hopefully, someday, you will learn to urinate in a cup in the back of a moving van without...well.... hopefully you'll just learn to do that. Keep that kicking foot strong, my boy!

James - Someday you may wake up to find a clown standing over you and it isn't me. Just thought I should warn you. And, the next time you decide to dance around in your nakedness at camp, make sure the blinds are shut, dude!

Billy - Never again do I hope to wake up with you standing over me trying to stuff a dirty sweat sock in my mouth at 3:00 a.m. I don't think I'll go into any more details. See you at another Acquire the Fire someday, my friend.

Maria, Bethany and Ivey - Ladies, I owe you a major good prank on the guys since everytime I tried to help you, we got caught. I honestly never sold you out, so I will still be waiting and watching on your behalf. You three young ladies are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. That beauty comes from your love for God and I'm thankful for being able to see that in you.

I love you all more than chocolate-chip-cookie-dough ice cream and I want to thank you for letting this old man be a part of your lives these past few years. You have made a difference in my life. Always remember that our God is stronger than anything you'll face as you start a new chapter in your lives. You have had a special beginning here at Salem and I am excited to see you enter the world and make a difference in God's name. Go and Be God's!

"And friends are friends forever, if the Lord is Lord of them. And a friend cannot say never, cause the welcome never ends. Though it's hard to see you go, in the Father's Hand we know; that a lifetime's not too long to live as friends." (Michael W. Smith, "Friends Forever" Salem Youth Choir Tour 2005)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

My Spiritual Dental Cleaning

I was awake before the alarm sounded. In fact, I had not slept soundly all night. After all, I had a dental appointment the next morning and my nerves were twisted around it's own synapses and ganglions and neurons and all those other things that are in there. Plus, in the few anxiety free moments I had during the night, I was trying feverishly to think of an excuse to cancel the appointment which was not only believable, but one that I had not used before. I have used the family illness excuse for everyone in my immediate and distant family, the unexpected business trip had been used more times than I could possibly remember and I could not be ill again unless it was some South American Amazon disease which was yet to be discovered. Murphy had been accused of eating car keys, the appointment card, erasing the voicemail reminder, and throwing up everything from the feather duster to the living sofa. Basically....I was stuck.

Now, it is not that I don't like my dentist or hygenist because they are both very nice and competent professionals. I have never been hurt or spent any time in serious pain because of them. The thing which causes me such stress is the unknown, mysterious, unexplainable malady which I am sure they are to find when I open up and say "ahhh".

Girding up my loins (which means wearing my comfort grubby clothes), I drove to the office, signed in and attempted to read. Of course, the magazine I selected had an expose' about how some medical school abused their cadavers, which helped my frame of mind. After a too brief delay, the hygenist called me back to (da-da-dumm) THE ROOM. We exchanged the obligatory small talk and she began. When I first opened my mouth and she looked in without screaming, I began to feel better. Then, as she began to poke and look around in there, she made the comment about "well, things look pretty good". At that, my internal organs exhaled in relief and I could settle down for the cleaning.

I have good teeth, not perfect by any means, but they are good. Except for the one time in second grade when I thought one of those little explosive caps was candy, chomped it and ended up with six less teeth for awhile, I have always taken good care of my choppers. But, they do need a good professional cleaning a couple times a year.

As I lay there listening to the hygenist talk about what she was seeing and doing, it occurred to me that the process of having my teeth cleaned is very similar to how God has dealt with me at times of my life. My spiritual walk is probably not a lot different than yours in that we do well for a season, then we need a period of spiritual cleaning. And sometimes that cleaning gets a little rougher than others.

The normal stains that occur during the day can be easily brushed and buffed off. Occasionally, there may be a stain or a piece of tartar that brings out that nasty metal pick that needs to give some extra poking and cleaning. Then there are the times when decay is found and major work needs to be done by removing the bad and replacing it with clean material.

I realized that the strain and stress of everyday living can bring some stains and smudges on my spiritual walk. It might be a missed quiet time, a sharp word spoken in anger, watching a television program that we know is not the most appropriate, or putting off something God has wanted me to do. However, in most cases like this I can clean my heart up by confessing it up to God and spending some quality time in looking for His guidance and strength.

However, there are times where we do not take the time to clean up these daily things and they begin to eat into our hearts and send their evil and nasty roots through all areas of our life. Again, the television programs, the movies, the music, the dialogue and jokes we listen to and in which we may join, the websites we may visit, the people we hang out with and so many more areas where God is hidden under the smudge and tartar of our hearts. These are the times when the more serious work needs to be done once God finally gets our attention. I have been in situations where God has had to deal with me in some quite serious ways. The longer I would allow inappropriate behavior to continue, the harder it was to purge it from my life because of the stronghold it had gained. And the thing is, God certainly had the power (and the love for me), to force these issues out of me, however, I had to do the hard part and make the decisions and face the consequences. But, when the period ended, my Father was there with the healing balm of His Love and Care for me.

Just as the drilling and digging may be required to rid my teeth of harmful things, so is the chastening and work of God to rid my life of harmful things. My dentist does not give me a big hug when they finish, but he does always pat me on the shoulder and ask, "are you okay, bud?" That is a comfort. However, nothing compares to the presence of a welcoming God after a period of spiritual cleaning. And I usually learn my lesson in both situations. Brush, floss, read my Bible and do what God wants of me.

And this my friends, is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And So It Begins Again

Hi all,
Just so you won't worry about where I've been for a few days.....my classes started back this week (Christian Apologetics TH535) and it took some time to get myself geared back up to the routine of studying and such. It looks to be a very good class and will involve a good deal of time, but, not to worry -- I shall be a faithful steward of my blogging, also.

People ask me why I am taking seminary classes on top of all the other things I am involved in at work and church. I guess the simplest and most concise answer would be that it is something that God has led me to do and I ignored it for too many years. The scriptures and history of the Christian faith is a fascination of mine and I firmly believe that if I am to be a "well equipped believer", that this furtherance of my education is what I must do. Plus, I have always heard that keeping your mind alert by learning new things as we get older is a good thing. Sometimes I wonder what idiot said that, but hopefully it is true.

I may re-enter the full time ministry at some point, only God knows that. But, the education process is what I am seeking. Through it, I have come to know more about my own beliefs and it has enabled me to draw nearer to God in my personal walk.

My family and friends know that I get rather grumpy and snarky at times when too many things are on my plate, but they have always been understanding. I do thank them for their encouragement and support. The only one I feel sorry for and try to make it up to is Murphy. He will only take so much of my computer time, then I'll hear a little growl from somewhere in the room. If I ignore it long enough, it will usually erupt into a snarl and a terrier head butt on my kneecap. So, Murph, I promise to give you the quality time you deserve. With a wireless router this semester, I can spend more sofa time where you can sit, watch and lick. (Yes, I have a dog that cannot hold his licker). But, I only ask that you make yourself useful and correct my spelling and grammar when you notice that I got it wrong. What's that? Oh, sorry...but the Murphy stories will have to settle for other venues than my school research papers. I'm not sure how they will fit into the work of Peter, Paul and the other guys.

So, friends, the fun begins and I look forward to a summer of learning how to defend and protect my (our) faith. I look forward to those days by the pool or at the beach tapping away on my laptop looking out over the ocean and revelling in all of God's creation.

Is there something you've been putting off that you can do for God? Teaching a Bible Study class? Working with children? Learning a musical instrument which could be used to lead worship? Perhaps a mission endeavor in your hometown or away? Taking a class for your own enjoyment and edification? You know what it is and you don't want me to publish on here for all the world to see. Pray about it, seek God's will, then just DO it!

And for today my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

An Unexpected Day

In Honor and Memory of Mr. Gene Wheeler (44) who so unexpectedly passed away today while enjoying time at the lake with his family. A fine Christian man, a husband and father, a Deacon, Sunday School teacher, a friend and a man who would do anything for our church and for God's Kingdom, never looking for credit to himself. I'm sorry he is gone from our church family, but know that he is with God. Please be in prayer for his wife and daughters as well as the rest of their family. See you soon, Mr. Gene, and thanks for helping me pick out the right battery for the church van that day and stopping me from hooking the red to the black. Otherwise, I might have beaten you home.


In the Sanctuary of my SUV

Hey boys and girls.
Quiz time. What would you say is one of the most common challenges facing Christian single adults? Not enough money to do what we want or need? Boredom? Not enough time in the day? Frustration raising children alone? Discouragement in not having a spouse? Tired of the same food groups of takeout, microwave and frozen? All of the above?

I'm certainly no expert on the matter (well, as a (cough)-something year old single guy, perhaps I am), but I seem to deal with the ongoing struggle to keep Christ first in my life. The lips might proclaim, "yes, yes” but the heart is saying "yeah, right...maybe tomorrow". Our jobs, family issues, reality television fixations and my quest for the perfect cup of coffee seem to take precedence over everything else. However, of one thing in life I am sure..... I do know that if we have Christ as the center of our hearts and of our homes and families that all the stuff in the first paragraph will take care of itself. Actually, the food part may stay, but that's okay because you still get to have your french fries and other comfort food.

The daily struggles don't disappear like we might want, but the burdens do lessen if you are walking through them with Christ and with the fellowship of other believers. The things that seem so important and so critical at times may pale in comparison to the importance of realizing the power of Christ in YOUR life and in YOUR heart.

You've heard me talk before about how important music is to me in my personal worship times. Last night on the way to church and then again this morning as I drove to work,
I put in one of my favorite Worship CDs. It has a lot of familiar praise and worship songs, but the Lord put just the right song on the play list. I had church on the way to work.....!

"All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres and wars to own;
All I once thought gain I have counted loss,
Spent and worthless now compared to this.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness,
And I love you Lord.

Now my heart's desire is to know You more,
To be found in You and known as Yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh to know the power of Your risen life,
And to know You in Your sufferings;
To become like You in Your death, my Lord,
So with You to live and never die.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness,
And I love you Lord."


Friends...let me urge you today and everyday to take time to Know Jesus. Know the power of His Love for you and your daily struggles. He has been there. He lived for thirty three years as a single adult and He was fully human and faced so many of the same struggles which we do. Know Jesus in your heart, your life and continue knowing more and more about Him as the days go by. I PROMISE YOU that the burdens will not disappear, but they will be lightened and your walk will be straighter and more joyous.

And so for today my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Go Ye Therefore - by Instant Messenger, Blogs and Text Messages

Through the fog of almost sleep, I heard the ring of a phone. I glanced over at the clock next to my bed and it read 12:17 a.m. Once again, the ringing came, but I realized that it was not coming from the phone on the end table, but from elsewhere in the house. Through my groggy state, I realized it was an instant messenger alert. Someone was calling me through the computer in my study. The sensible thing to do was to ignore it, which I tried to do, however my curiosity finally got the better of me and I knew I might as well get up and go see who it was. Plus, their constant attempt to contact me was only going to drive me to a criminal act if it continued.

I recognized the screen name immediately as one of the teenagers at church. I replied to him with a rather snarky "WHAT! It's after midnight, dude! Go to bed!". His reply almost stopped my heart. He was in a tough spot...a really bad place... and needed some help. Not financial help (as in bail bond), but spiritually. He felt as if he were losing his way and needed someone to talk to in hopes he could find himself and God again. Peer pressure was getting too strong, he was making some bad choices and knew the consequences would be coming. He did not feel like God would let him come back and he felt so terribly alone even though he was in his home with parents and siblings. You know, that kind of alone that you can feel when God seems so far away and the road ahead seems too far and so dark and so lonely. It is night and the fears increase as the shadows come and the thoughts of sleep seem impossible. You are afraid to sleep because tomorrow may actually come and that is not what you want. You cry out to God and you feel that He can't quite hear you. You are alone. Totally alone. So you reach out to someone for help. Someone, anyone, but because of your fear of rejection and judgement, you choose a seemingly anonymous route of instant messenger. Even though he knew it was me on the other end of the DSL, and I knew it was him, he was not having to admit things face to face.

We talked for a long time in that early morning conversation and when we finally signed off, he knew that God loved him as much as ever and would forgive him any transgression. He knew that God was there in his bedroom and would be watching over him as he slept. He knew that God would be there the next morning when he woke and with him all day at school. And, most importantly, he knew that God would be there when he began to change his friendships and reverse the choices he had made. I slept very sound that night because I knew my boy had come home to his God and would be a stronger Christian young man as a result.

I think we as Christians often miss out on many methods of ministry because we get so hung up on the traditional ways. You know, the cards, the phone calls, the visits, and so forth. There is a vast world of technology available for evangelism that is scarcely being touched. One of which are the various instant messenger services. You chat back and forth, day by day, and grow relationships with friends and neighbors that you already know. Even though it is not an anonymous service, you have that feeling and you find yourself at times being more honest and open than you would in a face to face setting. It can flow naturally into evangelistic conversations and discussions of encouragement and support.

Websites and blogs are wonderful vehicles that we use to share God with others. In just a short time, I have met brothers and sisters in Christ all across the country that I feel like I know closely even though we have never met. I am blessed by many of the writings I see, so I am certain that those who are not believers have to be impacted to a degree. As the scriptures tell us that 'some people will sow the seeds and others may help reap the harvest.' You, my fellow bloggers and scribes, are sowing a lot of seeds that God will bring to harvest.

God will bless any effort that we make on His behalf and I have been blessed by the use of technology. I certainly enjoy and prefer the personal encounters of sharing Christ with others, however, there are times that human pride may get in the way. So, we adopt strange screen names and visit websites, blogsites and instant message into the wee hours of the night. We post and comment and encourage and support people that we may never meet in person, but I kinda hope there will be a special cyber cafe in Heaven so we can connect blognames with our new heavenly faces. My friends, we should never take lightly the responsibility we have as we post and journal on our respective sites. We never know who is lurking out there and may be touched. God created the minds of people who created the advancements in technology. Let's claim it for His glory!

And that, my friends, is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Faces All Around, But Do We See?

I realize that my age may tell here, but there was a popular Christian song way back entitled "Lonely Faces". As I recall, it was not the most uplifting song, as many of the 1970 era songs were, but it talked about all the lonely faces on lonely people that we as Christians pass each day. How many of these faces did we see and how many did we purposely avoid?

Working in the downtown area of Atlanta in a large multi-cultural University, it is a great place to watch people. Keeping the above song in mind, I want to share some of my normal day as I watch these folks.

One of the major gathering places on campus is a large central plaza with fountains, benches and trees where students all meet up between classes and during their breaks. As I look at their faces, I can see faces with excitement and hope for their future. Faces that reflect their enthusiasm toward graduation and getting that perfect job making the mega-bucks and being successful. Faces that reflect students that are worried about their future. They might not be doing so well in class even though they are trying and are worried about losing a scholarship or grant, worried about their parent's reaction, worried about even being able to graduate and get a job.

You can see faces of the Greek organizations....(don't be ugly, I was in one at college). Faces that can seem to be exclusive to outsiders, usually very confident in their abilities. Faces that are often quite attractive with perfect hair and teeth and (seemingly) all the social skills needed in life. However, these faces are also looking for ways to better serve their school and community and making a mark that will make a difference in someone's life.

The faces of our international students are plentiful. Faces that are becoming used to a new country, language and culture. Faces that light up when they hear their own native language being spoken. Faces that are grateful when someone helps them locate a building or classroom. Faces that reflect the true society of God's Kingdom...all races, all colors, all people.

There are those faces of the druggies. Unfocused eyes, blank expressions, worried features about where their next hit is going to come from. Not worrying about classes as much as scoring some major deal to last them for a few more days. These are the sad faces to me because these kids are so young and have so much to offer the future and are not realizing it.

Being an urban school, I will often leave the campus and go into the streets to get some lunch or just take a nice stroll on a wonderful Atlanta spring day. Up in the financial and legal districts, you can see the rushed, fervent faces of the movers and shakers of our city and (even) the world. They are scurrying off to make their next big deal, to chair their next task force meeting, to close a big case in court....cellphones plastered to their ears, briefcases under their arms while they tap on their PDA, seeing you, but not seeing you as you pass.

Also, are the urban dwellers. Those unfortunate souls who have no place to call home. I see them in the park playing chess, listening to live music during lunch and talking to each other. Yet, so often, I see them digging through the trashcans, begging for money, sleeping in doorways and shuffling down the side streets carrying all their belongings in a bag. Eyes that are red, faces that are blotchy, hair that needs washing, wearing too many layers of clothes for an 80 degree day, a look of desperation on their face because they don't know where their next meal is to come from or if they might just die alone and unwanted.

What do people see when they look at our face? Do they see our roles which we play in life? Parent, student, child, friend, neighbor, and so forth? Or, do they see the reflection of God? Last Sunday in Bible Study I passed a mirror around the class and asked them to look in it and tell me what they saw. Some were honest, some were guarded, some refused to look or answer. What should we see? Quick and short....we should see God's image in us. His joy, His peace, His love, His power, His hope. That's what we should convey in our faces. Remember from 2 Corinthians 5:17 that "when we are in Christ, we are new creatures....brand spanking new creatures. The old reflection is gone and the new reflection is Him". I may have paraphrased a wee bit, but I think the intent is the same. The Psalmist tell us that "as we are in our heart, so we are." What we are in our heart is God created, so we are to show God in our lives, our actions.....and our faces.

Watch faces today. See what the faces all around you are telling. And then look into your own face and make sure you see God so that those around you can see Him also....even without words.

And for today, my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's,

Sunday, May 08, 2005

And the Winds Continue to Blow

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow." (Hebrews 13:8)

Things change. Jobs change, relationships change, health changes, churches change, ministries change. It is a guarantee that nothing will remain the same in this world because we are too driven by self and by the selfish whims of others. It should be a comfort for us to know that in the midst of unplanned change, that Jesus is the the one constant in our lives as Christians.

The winds of change blow constantly. Sometimes as a breeze, often as a gust, many times at full scale hurricane force before we recognize it. We make plans based on goals and dreams that we have and can easily convince ourselves that they are part of God's plan for our lives. And when the point comes when our plans begin to impact God's Plan, that's when we begin to feel the rustle of the gentle breezes begin.

One thing I am learning is to not lose sight of the ultimate goal which is our own personal walk with God. We should not give in to the winds which attempt to blow us off track and off the Path which was set long before our birth. I have a ministry unique to myself and no one person can take that away unless I allow it. What is that ministry, you might ask? Simply put, to do what God leads me to do. As Micah tells us, "to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with my God." (Micah 6:8).

And for today, my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sometimes It Just Gets Way Too Hard

"I was so good at what I did that everyone thought it came easy to me. If they only knew. If they only knew how hard it was for me. If they only knew what it cost. They thought it was easy for me because I was good at it. But it was killing me. If they only knew." ("Don't Cry Past Tuesday" - Charles Poole)

Ministry is tough. It is the only career/calling/profession/job that can raise you to the highest of heights one moment then allow you to plummet to the depths of the deep the next. If you serve in a local church, you have more bosses than you can please and on some days, none of them are pleased. Then there are the days that you are filled beyond words for the fellowship, support and encouragement of your brothers and sisters in Christ; thankful for those people who are grateful for your work and encourage you as you walk in His steps. And it is even more so, when you are in a lay (volunteer) ministry.

I have had the fortune of being on both sides of the 'collar', so to speak. I have spent some years in a full-time vocational ministry and I am now working in the secular world while still being involved in various ministries in the local church. This is why the above quote struck my heart like a hammer the other day.

Being a single guy, it has always been a concern to me when I see churches that (basically) relegate single adults to the back of the sanctuary. The Church today encourages the institution of marriage and speaks to that commitment as making a person complete. They cannot quite comprehend why people may choose to live a single life or, heaven forbid, that they should divorce or be widowed. Yes, that was intended as just a teench of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek. The more accepted ministries of children, youth and senior adults are understood and encouraged while the single adults are almost a feared community and do not typically receive the same attention. As a result, there are thousands of Christian single adults from 20-55 who feel isolation, judgement and lack of support from the one place where this should not be the case. And there are literally thousands more who have never been approached with the Gospel and the invitation to join with a local congregation.

A number of years ago, I was asked to be a layperson leader of the single adults in our church and to help grow it into a ministry. Let me mention here that we are a large congregation and have around 150 single adults who are members. Advisory councils were formed, Bible study classes were reorganized and social activities were planned. We also looked for ways to minister to others. We provided help and assistance to the elderly with their lawn care or other needs, became involved in helping at a local children in distress center and also at a shelter for battered women and children. We as a group of single adults believe very strongly in giving back to those in need and continue to do our best to reach out in the name of Christ.

Recently, I began to realize that the overall ministry concept was not coming into place and I began to think and pray about how best to handle it. Not having any representation on the church staff makes it difficult to keep our presence in front of the congregation and to keep a ministry running smoothly. We are all volunteers with full-time jobs and, in some cases, children with their own schedules to keep and do not always have the time or money for printing, copying and mailing mass mailouts and flyers. We do not always have the time to "meet and eat" for long planning luncheons and to survey the needs of the congregation. So, to cut to the point as best I can, I sent out an email the other day to the whole Single Adult Ministry and laid out the situation as I saw it. I felt like a failure in my leadership because we were not able to do all that we needed to do. I was discouraged because I felt our church (like so many others) supports the single adults in word only. "What are not doing that we should be doing? What else can we do?", I asked. "How can we accomplish the vision that we have at our church instead of seeing folks leave for another church that is more affirming?"

Over the past couple of days, I have received several replies from single adults in my church who are hurting so badly and begged me to help keep this ministry. The need for fellowship with those who understand what it is like to raise children alone. The desire for friendships and social activities that are not terribly expensive because they live on just one income. The wanting of Bible study and groups that deal with the pressures and needs of single parents, of those who have become widowed at a young age and those who have never married. The uncertain and frightening days of having your parents grow older and need your care more and more, yet you feel like you are all alone. The anticipation of having a group to hang out with on the weekend just to hang out and enjoy being together. This group of people want a place where they feel accepted and loved, not judged or thought of as less than whole simply because they are not married.

I cannot handle it. My heart hurts so bad for these wonderful people who are not having their spiritual or emotional needs met at a church. A church, of all places! The place where God is taught and worshipped. The house of believers which should see past age, race, gender and marital status. Perhaps, this is an area where I need the ministry more than the ministry needs me. I don't know. I honestly don't know what to do.

So, I ask for you, my friends and fellow bloggers, please say a prayer for our ministry, wherever God wants to take it. Pray that God will encourage me and the other volunteer leaders to keep on keeping on despite the frustrations facing us. Pray that God will lift up the discouraged, the tired, the single mothers and fathers who are short on time, money and faith, the single mothers who lived in abusive relationships far too long and are now trying to make a life for themselves and their children, those who need friends and some fun things to do. These are all the things that a Church is here to provide.

I apologize for being so lengthy, but this was my catharsis for the day.
And thus, for today, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's,

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Day I Went Back to School

"Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white;
They are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world." (Children's song)

This past week, I had the privilege of speaking for Career Day at Huie Elementary School in nearby Forest Park, Georgia. The counselor who set up the day had asked me to speak to the boys and girls in third, fourth and fifth grade classes about being a newspaper and magazine columnist and the importance of reading for fun. I also got to meet and visit with one of the very special classes of children at the school, seeing a theatrical production of "The Hungry Caterpillar" which is receiving rave reviews from all who attend.

Going into the day, I was rather apprehensive because I had never done this type of thing before. Oh, I enjoy being around children and being a part of their energy and enthusiasm for life, but I had not set foot in an elementary school for quite a few years. If I recall, my elementary school will not even allow me back inside the doors because of my childhood behavior issues. My usual insecurity levels were on full alert in case I was rejected by the children and they started throwing crayons, glue and invectives at me. My imagination was already conceiving of police and SWAT teams coming into the school building to try and squash a riot of third graders because they were bored to tears from some old man talking about the importance of the ABC's and actually going inside the Library for fun.

How wrong could I have been? I could not have asked for a more well behaved group of boys and girls if I had placed an order from the good child catalog. And the great thing was that I do not think they behaved so well because their teachers had threatened them with bodily torture or having to write sentences on the chalkboard (what am I saying? Schools don't even have chalkboards anymore). The children behaved because I think they were interested in what I and the other visitors had to say, plus, I think they were just good and polite boys and girls.

I was also very encouraged by the diversity of the school. There were children from many ethnic backgrounds, teachers from many ethnic backgrounds and it was good for my heart to see the acceptance, without seemingly any question about it. Folks, that's how it should be. Why can't we as adults learn from these children? Oh, I'm not so blind to think there aren't problems and issues in this school and many others, however, here is the beginning. We as the grownups just need to watch and get a clue as to how to make it happen in our worlds.

God accepts and extends His Love to all - Jew and Gentile, higher and lower income levels, all ethnic groups and cultures, mean people and nice people, men and women, rednecks and socialites, ugly people and pretty people, Americans and Europeans, and so on. All we have to do is accept the fact that He loves us and sees us as equal in His eyes. Once we come to that point, it is easier to see our neighbors and communities with the same view.

Thank you Huie Elementary for inviting me to school for part of a day to try and share a little of what I have learned and do each day. Thank you especially for your teaching me far more about how we as adults should be living. You've caught on to the secret; I just hope that the rest of us can.

And that, my friends, is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's,