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

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Intruder

I always made the assumption that my car would be safe in the garage. After all, I had a garage with no windows, a door that shuts and locks, plus a motion detector light on the outside. The other night was like every other night. I pulled into the garage, shut the door behind me, left the windows slightly open since it was so hot inside the garage and went into the house for the night.

The next morning, I opened the garage door and got into the car as always. Everything seemed normal so I suspected nothing unusual as I backed out of the driveway and headed downtown to my day job. However, as I entered the heavier traffic around Hudson Bridge/Eagle’s Landing, I caught a movement in the rearview mirror just behind my right shoulder. Instinctively, I glanced back and my heart froze as I saw the intruder.

If there is one thing in this world that will cause me to run screaming like a schoolgirl, it is a spider. And, that’s what was dangling from the overhead light of my car on its sinister web of death. I could tell that its eyes were fixated on me as the victim du jour on today’s menu. Not knowing how it happened, I managed to exit the expressway without creating havoc, opened the door and left my SUV to the spider. He could have it. After a moment or two when I began to breathe somewhat normally, I peered in through the side window and realized that the creature of horror was not the size of a basketball (which is what I first imagined), but more like a fingernail. Well, actually more like a pinky toenail. Since I live in the neighborhood and knowing that friends and neighbors could be driving by, I decided I needed to maintain some dignity and rid my car of the beast. I had an umbrella in the back, so I retrieved it quickly and started to poke the spider through a partially opened window. It glowered at me a time or two, then started to run up it’s own web for safety. With one more well timed poke, I made contact and to my horror, the spider jumped onto the umbrella and began racing up through the window and toward me. Now, the screaming schoolgirl entered the picture; slinging the spider-laden umbrella down the bank, I jumped back into my car and took off feeling quite victorious and smug because I had defeated this threat to my life, limb and the world. I’m da man!

Now, how many times do we allow the little things that creep (no pun intended) up on us in life to totally destroy our moments? Like I said, in reality this spider was quite tiny, but to me, it was huge and threatening. I allowed it to disrupt my morning and throw my stress levels into overdrive. Do you wake up with a fairly enthusiastic attitude about facing the day and then the coffeepot doesn’t work and it instantly throws you into an ill mood? When your well designed plans for the day are abruptly changed, can you handle it without getting all snarky? Do you have a struggle getting yourself or your family ready on Sunday mornings to the extent that you are so frustrated that even if God whacked you with a bat, you still wouldn’t feel His presence? Do you obligate yourself to so many things that you become so stressed that you cannot enjoy any of them? Does that one annoying person always seem to find you at the restaurant and whine on and one so that you can’t even digest your food? We are told in I Peter 5:7 to “give all your worries and fears to God, because He cares for us.” (HCB) Philippians 4:6 says “don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.” (NLT) God is concerned with every aspect of our lives from the major things to the tiny irritating things. I think that even includes spiders.

And for today, that is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Commitment

Rarely, if ever, have I posted anything on this site that was not original to me. However, I received the following article last night in our choir rehearsal and it has stuck with me and I felt it needed to be posted. It is certainly a challenge to me.

It was written by a young African Pastor who had tacked it to the wall of his home. He was later killed for what he believed and practiced.

I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer and labor by Power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me - my banner will be clear.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Eyes of a Man

I look into the eyes of the man and I see the boy he once was. The boy who collected insects and rocks; the boy who created art out of everyday things found in the yard and the house and the boy who always seemed intelligent far beyond his years.

I look into the eyes of the man and I see the boy who I never really knew because of the difference in our ages. The teenager who found Christ at a youth camp in Panama City, yet I did not know how to rejoice with him. The boy who seemed to look up to me for something I did not know how to give.

I look into the eyes of the man and I see the young man embarking on a career that most folks would envy. A career of prestige, social standing and importance in the community. A career that I found myself envying because the young man had the drive and ambition that I think I lacked in those days.

I look into the eyes of the man and I see the man who for a number of years grew in directions separate from his family. We never lost contact, but the contacts were sometimes few and far between. I also see the eyes of the man’s mother when she would want to talk and hear his voice, yet the voice was not there.

I look into my own eyes and still see the tears shed on the night I heard of his three attempted suicides in a location far away.
A location where he was alone and isolated from friends and family, yet going through a hell I will never know or can possibly imagine. I see the shock and grief in the eyes of his family and closest friends who were not aware of his plans as he made them for days ahead of time.

I look into the eyes of the man’s family and friends and see the tears of relief that the attempts did not succeed and the rush of the subsequent days to gather him back home and into the arms of the familiar. Yet, I see the questions, the hurt, the terror of the “what ifs”, but also the depth of love and concern for the man’s welfare and recovery.

I look into the eyes of the man and see the haunted, sad look of despair and knowledge of the pain he has caused those closest to him. However, I can also see the tiniest spark of determination to rebuild his life and prove to him that he is worth living, not just for others, but also for himself.

I look into the eyes of the man and see the joy of taking one step forward, yet many times I see the pain of the two steps backward which often follow. The pain of a bi-polar diagnosis, the joy of finding a job, the hurt of not being able to handle the pressures of employment at this time, the excitement over moving home, the sadness of not knowing what his future holds.

I look into the eyes of the man and I see on a daily basis his determination to beat the demons that have plagued him and, even though slowly, very slowly, begin to defeat them and grow a little stronger in his own manhood.

I look into the eyes of the man and I see my little brother. The boy I have grown to love as we grew to be men and now, the brother I will do anything within my power to protect, defend and to help face tomorrow. I see the man who is my brother that now in many ways I look up to because I see strength within him that I’m not sure I would have had in the same battles.

I look into the eyes of my brother and see the little boy, the teenager, the young man, and now, the man of whom I am so extremely proud. I see my brother who may have wandered from the arms of God for a season, but has not forgotten the Love that compels us; the Love that has protected him and has brought him back to me so that I might learn from him.

Pray for my brother. He’s the greatest guy in the world and I love him; and I especially want him to remember how much God loves him.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I'm So Verklempt

According to Dictionary.com - Verklempt is from the Yiddish, "to be overcome with emotion".

I find myself so verklempt after reading Joe's post over at God Even Loves Idiots Like Me. All that I can say is my cup of blessings 'overfloweth' because of friends and family with whom God has blessed me.

Nancy's comment on Joe's blog about being verklempt pretty well summed it up for me and I remembered I had this picture saved on my computer (for what reason, I know not).

Thanks Joe, for the affirming post, the late night instant messages, and even for the cigars the other day (which kept me up sick as a dog most of the night).

Folks out there in Blogland.....be blessed if you have friends and make sure they know it. We are not promised tomorrow and for me it would be so terrible to come to those last minutes with regrets for not telling them (along with never parachuting, swimming with the dolphins, doing mission work, travelling to Africa or even eating a whole box of Swiss Cake Rolls in one sitting ). Don't wait....go make someone verklempt today!

And for today (and thanks again to Joe, the idiot), this is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Just call me Mr Smith

Thanks to my friend Shannon over at WindScraps, I now know that I am "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". Perhaps I need to add it to my Netflix list since I've never seen it??

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Time to Eat Chips, A Time to Eat Carrots

Now, I don't mean to give you the impression that I am anywhere near the size of this whale, but I certainly have several extra pounds on my body. Most children at the malls are polite enough to not stare and point, however, there are those few who gawk like they are seeing a circus freak show contestant. So far, my footsteps haven't registered high enough on the Richter scale to cause wholesale damage to the North Georgia faultlines, but I know it is just a matter of time. And even worse, as a boy I had to wear the dreaded "husky" sizes from Sears. Don't manufacturers know how scarred young boys can become when they are labelled as "husky"?

Most of my friends probably don't realize that I'm overweight, but that's mainly because I haven't worn my shirts tucked in for, say, four years or so. I tried to count up the amount of pounds which I have gained and lost over the past 10 years and I've exceeded the weight of most teenage children. So, the time has come to do something. Something drastic and serious. Big.

I'm putting myself on a weight-loss and exercise program and you folks are going to be my accountability group. Each Friday, I'll report back to you how much weight I have lost (and I promise to be honest) and as I move down sizes in clothes. Today, Friday the 12th of August, I weighed in at 220 pounds and I'm 5'11" tall. My goal is to lose 40 - 45 pounds which will put me at my best place and where I want to be. Ideally, I'd like for at least four of my chins to be gone by the same time (just kidding on that one....sorta).

Just because I need to throw some theological point in here, I honestly believe that as a temple of God, my body should be kept in better condition. I don't drink, smoke or take drugs...and I am relatively careful about my diet, but if I am to be a good steward of the body and life God has given me, I need to get serious about it. In Romans 12:1, Paul urges us to "submit our bodies as a holy, acceptable and living sacrifice to God"; and at the current moment, my only offering as a sacrifice would be something that is rotated slowly on a spit over a fire.

So, here goes everyone. A new beginning for me. A new beginning for what I can offer to God.

And for today, this is the gospel according the Jimmy

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Things You Never Knew About Me

I must be quite the shallow person because I have realized that I am 51 years old and still not famous. Really, outside of you and a few others, who knows who I am? By this point in my life, I had always envisioned that I would have become either a world renowned musician or author (something in the creative arts, at least)...I would have been on Oprah numerous times, interviewed by Diane Sawyer and made to cry by Barbara Walters. The ladies on "The View" would have made me their favorite returning guest and People Magazine would have me on as many covers as Princess Diana. I would have my favorite cause to benefit a foreign country and silicone bracelets with my name on them. However, I have not achieved any of the above.

So, I decided I would share some things that most folks do not know about me so that I may begin to appear more than just some odd guy who goes to work, home, church, home and out to eat at a fast food restaurant for a big evening. So, here goes and enjoy the reading. A test will be given at a later point, so pay attention.

1. I smoked Tareyton cigarettes during most of my college years (then quit).
2. Johnny Mathis is one of my favorite artists.
3. I cried at the original "Brian's Song". I mean, the big sobs that come from the toes.
4. I also tear up when I hear the theme from "Brian's Song".
5. When I laugh, I snort.
6. I enjoy singing and dancing with Broadway show tunes....and I am not gay.
7. I have a tattoo
8. I have two tattoos.
9. I know that tattoos is not spelled with an 'e'.
10. My favorite 'pity party' food is homemade meatloaf, real mashed potatoes (not from flakes), and green peas with mushrooms and pimentoes and, of course, lots of sweet iced tea.
11. I am a reality show junkie..even the really stupid ones.
12. I have friends I want to call and report to Nanny Deb
13. I also have friends who need a visit to the "What Not To Wear" show.
14. From Kindergarten through my senior year in High School, I never received a Satisfactory in conduct.....always Needs Improvement.
15. I kissed my first girlfriend in fourth grade. Her name was Sherren.
16. In college, my best friends fixed me up on a blind date.....she was really blind....and they took us to the movies.....and I had to explain what was happening all the way through "Poseidon Adventure".
17. I once wore long blue eyelashes and a curly blue wig into a men's prison.
18. I was almost married to an inmate named Big Mitch until the guards intervened.
19. I was there in clown costume and full makeup for a worship service.
20. I could live on gummy bears, jellybeans and Three Musketeer bars.
21. I have worn panty hose on a few occasions.
22. After the Hardy Boys, my favorite childhood book series was the Freddy the Pig books.
23. I recorded my first album in 1981.
24. I recorded my last album at the same time.
25. I have always wanted to live in New York CIty.
26. I ignored the warnings at Yellowstone once and was charged by a buffalo.
27, He didn't ram the car, but did stare in the window and snort 'stuff' on the car.
28. I think I wet my pants that day.
29. I once hid in the trunk with a buddy so we could get cheaper rates at a motel with two other friends.
30.I have thrown my sock hat up in the air at Times Square like Mary Tyler Moore did on her television show.

However, there is one thing that is important for you to know. I am a Christian, I love God with all my heart and I want to live my life to share that Love and Message with those around me.

Oh, and if any of you know Oprah or Barbara, please forward this along.....who knows where it could lead.