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

Friday, September 23, 2005

I Choose to be a Liver

Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis........NASH for short. That is the liver disease I was diagnosed with about a year and a half ago. It is where (for whatever reason), my liver does not process the fats out of the liver and into my system properly so they stay and cause the liver to enlarge (mine as of last week was three inches enlarged), various enzymes to get out of whack (mine were elevated somewhat from my last visit) plus all manner of other symptoms. Some of the symptoms I experience regularly is itching with no rash (especially on my arms and neck), some random times of almost debilitating fatigue and mild pain in that right quadrant of my abdomen. There is no cure as such, but in the early stages of NASH, you can reverse the damage and symptoms by losing weight, sticking to a fairly strict diet and the infamous "E" word.....exercise.

If the disease progresses, it can and will lead to cirrhosis, eventually liver failure and, if no transplant, then death. Serious ending...not how I want it to be. It's the kind of thing that wakes you up at 3:00 in the morning and causes your mind to spin out of control. Yeah, we're talking mongo anxiety attacks.

So, as of my writing tonight, I am choosing to be a liver (no, you silly people....not the internal organ), but a Liver. A participant in Life. Someone who makes the conscious choice to do his best to live for many many years to come if it is God's Will. This means I will eat what I know is correct, I will lose weight and (if I have to), I'll even be more diligent about (gulp) exercise.

So, that's the deal. I figure that by writing all this out and announcing it to the world that I am putting the accountability factor out there. I hereby give any and all of you the right to demand an accounting of my progress (well, JoeB knows about that lemon pie he didn't stop me from eating tonight) and support and encourage me on my quest to become a Liver.

So for tonight my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My Divot is Bigger Than Yours

Contrary to what those of you who know me may think, I actually do enjoy most sports. Just because I stink in playing them does not mean that I do not enjoy them. As I’ve mentioned before, my main problem seems to be determining what is age appropriate behavior. For example, someone of my age and joint condition should not be roller-blading, skateboarding or sky-diving. So, considering that I enjoy the outdoors, the companionship of good friends, a good healthy dose of competitiveness and is definitely within my age appropriate parameters, I decided that my sport of choice will now be golf.

All of the guys I have played with have been far superior to me in their skill, but have always been gracious enough to spend an extra hour or so on the course as I play the game similarly to putt-putt. You know, hit the ball and it rolls a few feet and then rolls around a tree into a ditch. Sometimes it may actually leave the ground for a brief spell before it somehow manages to make a direct ninety-degree turn over to the adjacent fairway. But, my buddies and pals, my mentors and companions, my friends always manage to hide their snarky remarks in the guise of humor and friendly advice for the golf-challenged old man.

A couple weeks ago, one of our new Music Ministers at church (owner of the demon dog) called and asked if I wanted to play golf with him and two out of town guests the next day. Instantly, my insecurities and self image preservation went to full alert and I tried to explain how badly I played the game and how they would be better off playing with a mannequin than with me. The new music guy (who told me I had better not use his real name, so I’ll refer to him simply now as Batt) kept assuring me that they were not good players and I should not be concerned. I kept trying to convince Batt that I was seriously stinky at the game and he kept countering my protests with his rebuttal that it was “just a game”, “it will be nice to just be outdoors”, “it would be a good relaxed way to get to know each other outside church”, but, all I was hearing was hoots and clicks, blah, blah, blah. Finally, I agreed to do this.

The next morning came, I mustered all the self-confidence I could find in legal sources and headed to the course. We met, Batt made the necessary introductions and we headed out for a day of what I was sure would be humiliation, frustration and probably excommunication when I came out with some inappropriate word or action in front of our new Minister, simply known as Batt.

Sometime while the four of us teed off on the first hole, I felt a small glimmer of hope. Could it be possible? Had I actually found my Bizarro world golf buddies? Were Batt and his friends actually close to my level of stinky golf? As the day unfolded, I began to relax and feel much more comfortable with this group of guys who actually enjoyed being outdoors, having some good guy time and not letting the competitiveness get in the way of the game. The turning point of the day for me was on the sixth tee when Batt teed off with a full swing of his mighty 1-wood club, the ball popped straight up in the air and came right back down and plopped in Batt’s outstretched hand. There must surely be a Higher Power! Even I had rolled my ball more than it’s usual 20-25 feet down the fairway. After a couple more attempts, Batt had managed to dig divots into the tee area large enough to bury most small creatures. Not, that I haven’t dug my own share of holes on a golf course, but I was finally not the only one.

Now, where I’m heading with this. A divot is when your club digs up a section of the grass and dirt when you swing. Golf protocol dictates that you try to replace what you hit and smooth the area back out, however, there are golfers who just leave the holes and clumps of grass and dirt lying around. Some are big, some are small, but all of them are disruptive of the land and of the game. It only takes a second to clean up the area and once again, the integrity of the course is as it was before you (I) came along.

As we go through life, we make divots along the way. It may be a thoughtless word to someone in our family or at our jobs. It might be an action taken in anger when someone ticks us off in the parking lot or in the grocery store line. It could also be cheating our jobs out of our best efforts or anything else that is dishonest and affects our reputation or influence.

Just as the golfer can replace the divots on the golf course and restore the course to it’s original pure beauty, so can God replace the divots of our lives and restore our hearts back to purity with Him. All we have to do is recognize that we have scarred our life landscape by our words or actions and ask God to forgive us and He will. That is a promise. Then the purity of our heart relationship with Him is restored. It doesn’t matter how big, ugly or bad your divot (action or word) is, God is faithful to forgive and restore. We just have to ask.

What divots do you have in your life? I can’t imagine that you can have more than me and I know that God has restored each and everyone of mine. Thank you, Batt, for inviting me to a day of golf. Perhaps, we’ll do it again someday and notice that I didn’t mention about you driving toward the wrong flag back there on four.

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

Sunday, September 18, 2005

From Worst to Best

Good evening, children. It's Sunday evening here in McDonough and I am sitting in utter amazement at how this day has gone. I know I promised you a story about the demon dog I was sitting last week, and then after my golf game yesterday with the demon dog's owner, I have material enough for several writings; however, this day has really been quite a day.

I currently play for four services and one rehearsal on Sunday. It's a long hard day, but things always seem to work well and at the end of the day, I am 'glad to have been in the House of the Lord". Today, was not the case. Oh, the minister brought an awesome message, however, from the music standpoint, it was a pretty stinky day. Copies of music was given out this morning to sightread for the service, I did not know that one of the songs was to be without accompaniment, so I just kept playing along at full speed and volume. The words on the big screens rarely seemed to match the words that were supposed to be sung. The Worship Leader took a gem clip from my music and tried to pierce his body with it so that he would be out of the pain. I seemed to drift off during one of the choir numbers and on and on and on it went. It was the longest morning of my life and I only wanted to go home and crawl under the sofa.

After our afternoon orchestra rehearsal, this weary and frustrated musician decided to take the rest of the day off and sulk at home with a big dish of Marble Slab ice cream. So, I ate, sulked and slept off and on for most of the evening.

Then, I heard the familiar instant messenger 'Ding' from the other room. Little did I know that I was about to go from crappy to happy in the ensuing conversation both on instant messenger and then on the telephone.

One of 'my guys' is finally feeling and accepting God's call to the full-time ministry and wanted to talk it out and explore some options that are open to him. I've known for a couple years now that this is what he should be doing, but I guess he'd rather hear it directly from God.....which he has.
After quite a long conversation and time of prayer, I think he is settled in his mind of the direction to begin his walk and service in God's Work. As I hung up just few moments ago, I realized that I had gone from a day of total selfish attitude about how a few songs and computer mixups had gone this morning, to a night of praise and wonder at the work of God in the life of this young man.
I have no worries or concerns about his Call, his abilities or his love for God.

So, my sulking is over, my heart is full and my anticipation for seeing what God is going to do next is at full exciting attention. What did I learn from this? What can you learn? Well, for one thing, God doesn't really get as upset about the small things as we do. He can still use you whether you had a great day or a stinky day ( you may want to read Shannon's latest story over at WindScraps). And, most importantly, if a brother or sister has a concern or need, take the time to listen and get your mind off yourself.

And, once again, as Jeremiah 29:11 says, "God knows the plans He has for us....". We really do not need to worry.

I promise that next up will be the dog story and how I learned from Matt that even though some divots in life are bigger than others, God will always forgive.

So for tonight my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Welcome to my my new look!

Many Many Thanks to Darlene over at Chameleon BlogSkins for the new look of "Being God's". I think she captured the feel I have toward God and being a Child of His with the simplicity of a boy sitting on the fence looking out over the heavens. Deep inside his soul, I know he is thinking 'Hey, way cool, God! The way you just make those clouds hang up there is amazing."

Some folks may think I take the Scriptures and theological implications a bit too flippantly, but, I really don't intend that. It's just that I think God wants us to understand it on whatever level we may be at any particular time. He reveals Himself to us in different ways in different times. Didn't Jesus himself tell his disciples to not keep the children away? He wanted them close because He knew their faith was simple and uncluttered by years of education and life. Just love God, love each other, believe in Jesus. Don't get all mired down by denominationalism and legalism and such....just believe, love and lead others to him. And do it all with the wonder of a small child who is simply Being God's.

Thanks, Darlene. There is a link to her site over to the right and I certainly recommend her and her work. She has a sweet spirit for the Lord and a fantastic gift and ability in visual arts and in discernment in how to 'read' between the lines.

Sorry....I'll be posting the demon dog story later in the day or tomorrow. We just got this site moved over today and I just had to thank Darlene and let you all know how excited I was.

Be God's, y'all!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Cry Out To Jesus

This was a weekend of mixed emotions. I was privileged to play for a wedding for a nice young couple in our church. One of our Student Pastors sang and played songs of praise and worship on his guitar. Another multi-gifted couple from Salem played a glorious arrangement of "Ave Maria" on piano and violin. Our handbell director chimed the hour. The service was simple, yet full of hope and excitement for a new life beginning.

At the same time this weekend, another young man was lying in a local hospital clinging to life. Some of us went to the hospital after the wedding rehearsal to support and fellowship with the family and each other. Even though there was always the chance for a miracle to occur, God knew it was time for Keith to come home early in the morning hours.

We are still seeing and hearing pictures and accounts of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Lives being forever changed in three states in the southeast part of this country. Being from Georgia, we had some residual wind and rain as Katrina roared northward on land, however, more of the impact has been on people coming through here seeking shelter, financial help, material help, food, water, the basics of life, and most of all, seeking compassion and hope. We know in our heads and hearts that the lives of people in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana will never be the same, but there is the hope since they survived.

I know as a follower of Jehovah God, that I can pray for all the above situations and I have the assurance that God will hear me. However, in recent days I find myself increasingly at a loss for the words and requests to bring. Words from me will not make this marriage today survive the storms of life. Words from me did not keep this young man - a son, a brother, a husband, a father - did not keep him from dying. Words from me cannot heal the wounds and loss from the destruction of Katrina and return so many lives to normal. It's tough. Really tough. We are promised in the Scriptures that when we do not have the words to say that the Spirit will intercede for us to God the Father. I'm claiming this promise now.

I've walked with God long enough to know that when things are the bleakest and we can't find the way to turn....all we have to do is to cry out, cry out to Jesus. Below are the words to a song I've fallen in love with and it has ministered to me greatly these past couple of days. Hopefully, they are playing it on your local Christian radio stations or you can find a Third Day album somewhere near your home. I hope the lyrics will touch your heart and give you the assurance that no matter in what situation we may find ourselves, all we need to do is Cry out to Jesus. I have one closing comment at the very end.

Cry Out To Jesus
Words by Mac Powell / Music by Third Day

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering

When you're lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who struggles with being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

(c) 2005 Consuming Fire Music / ASCAP. All rights administered by EMI
CMG Publishing. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Good song, isn't it? The one thing that was going on this weekend that provided the humor in the midst of all my pathos, was dog-sitting for my Minister of Music who was out of town for the weekend. That story will follow in a day or two (after the stitches come out of my ankle and the Milk Bone is removed from nose. Hey! Don't laugh....I thought it was a good idea to try and get this demon dog to lick me. Wrong move, Jimmy. Wrong move. So stay tuned for the tale of Jimmy and the Cockapoo.

And so for this evening my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

And Now, For The Rest of the Story.....

With apologies to Not1Jot (if you understand the scriptural background to his name....you'll catch the humor)..... I give you the Jimmy version of Ephesians 4:11:
"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, and some as support staff for all the above."

So, the day has come and the decision and announcement has been made. Effective September 30, I will be retiring from my current job after 27 years and begin serving as the Assistant to the Minister of Administration of my church. It was not a position that I ever considered and even at the times it was vacant, I was never in a position to retire. However, in recent weeks, the circumstances all worked out in God's time so that when the person currently in the position desired to leave for more family time; that the career I work in currently (Accounting and Financial Management) was brought up in conversations between various staff and God seemed to work it out from there.

It will be a huge change to retire, but the leading of God seemed so strong in this one that I didn't have any doubts or second thoughts about it. That in itself is quite unusual for me....Gideon settled for a couple fleeces being wet or dry. Elijah only needed an earthquake and a storm before he heard God in the stillness. I, on the other hand, usually need a huge engraved personalized banner delivered by a marching band with flags spelling out my name and it helps to have some planes skywriting over my house. But, this time, I knew instantly and without a doubt this was God's plan.

Way cool. Totally cool. Sometimes God just blows your socks off, doesn't He?

So my friends, this is today's gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God's (and risk losing your socks!)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I Stand Amazed in His Presence

Dear boys and girls,
Once again I am standing in amazement at what God can do in our lives. For a good many months now, I have been feeling God's leading to retire from my present job because He had a place for me in His work and in His ministry.

Now, being the rather (sometimes) cocky, over confident and A-type personality that I am, I immediately knew what that plan was to be and went about to put it into place. Things progressed along according to "my and God's" plan rather well until about two weeks ago when I received a phone call totally out of the blue which literally blew me away. It was almost as if God himself called me on my cellphone and presented the opportunity for a second career which He had been planning all along without my help or involvement. It was an opportunity totally opposite from what my plans had been. But, I instantly saw God's Hand in this. Wow!

This one event has caused me to realize how amazing God is......how He knows what I need to be doing for His work.....and I really just need to sit back, pray and wait for it all to work. As the verse above from John 15:16: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit." Or.... Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your Heart and He will direct your paths."

I'm not at liberty to tell more about this exciting thing because there are other people involved and factors to be worked out, but in the next few days I will be able to share more specifics and you'll see the hand of God. I know beyond a doubt that God has worked this out according to His plan for my life and in His own time....not mine.

Be back shortly with the rest of the story......

Be God's!