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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is God a rumor?

What is it about God that makes it easy for some to believe…and others to not believe? What is it about the modern church that makes people want to go….or not? What is it about talking of our faith that makes some people eager….and others queasy? Simply put, why do some people have a personal relationship with God and others think they don’t need it?

A long, long time ago in a country far, far away, there lived a man and his family who had it made. Wealth, land, family, camels, tents, fig trees, all the things that put a person in the upper class of the day. He probably had a couple private oasis spots for his pleasure and plenty of grapes and fruit to enjoy. All this, plus the fact that he was a good man. A real good man. In fact, he was so good that even God bragged about him to Satan. So began the biggest challenge of history. Satan wanted Job as his own, however, God was sure that Job wouldn’t turn his back and join the evil empire. As the challenge unfolded, well, if you haven’t heard the whole story, you’ll enjoy reading it for yourself to see who wins.

This particular story took place during the time of the Old Testament (which means many thousands of years ago); however, the same story unfolds every day here in Henry County and around our entire world. Many of the same things that Satan threw Job’s way are much like what we face today; loss of income, loss of family and loved ones, loss of health, loss of homes, loss of friends, etc. The list continues in Job’s story as well as in our own lives. One of the most dramatic parts of Job’s story is when his wife turns to him and, after recounting all their losses and problems, urges Job to, “Curse God and die.” Have you ever been that desperate? Is it God’s fault that the economy is so screwed up and we can lose our jobs and homes at a moment’s notice? Nope, I believe that He hurts for us when He sees the mess that mankind has made of His world and society. God created a world where we have free will to go and do as we wish without His pulling any type of strings, so these things just happen. Diseases, deaths, loss, pain, hunger, all these are a part of our world. They may be because of bad choices, or they may that those things just happen….just happen.

Like Job, many of us have “head knowledge” of God, but not “heart knowledge.” We know about God and have heard of Him, but we don’t really know how He works in our lives. In all that happened to Job (and happens to us), God promises to never leave us or to forsake us. He may not remove the circumstances of life from us, but He will help us get through them.

After Job went through a time of nightmare situations, God finally answered his pleas to meet face to face and Job finally realized who God really was with his heart, not just his head. He tells God at the end of the book, “I admit that I once lived by rumors of you, now I know about it firsthand – from my own eyes and ears!” Hopefully, we all know God because we’ve seen Him with our ears and eyes……not just lived by rumors.

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

All about me

Here's a new list of the top 25 things you probably never knew about me....nor cared to know.....

1. I enjoy bird watching and learning the migration patterns here in McDonough.

2. The older I get, I have less tolerance for stupid people.

3. The older I get, I cherish the true friendships I have even more.

4. I've gotten one more tattoo.

5. If I could start all over again, I'd like to live in New York City and be a bohemian creative person.

6. I have little tolerance for church denominational structures because they create such political atmospheres.

7. I'd like to teach the world to sing......and not care about the perfect harmony......just sing.

8. I love live theatre, especially community theatre groups.

9. I've actually joined a gym and try to go there regularly.

10. I've got high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disease, and a borderline diabetic...but, basically a very happy person.

11. The mountains are my favorite place, except when I'm at the beach.

12. Ideally, I would love a house on the Maine coast, and in the Smokey Mountains, and on the Gulf Coast of Florida/Alabama.

13. If I were on death row, my favorite last meal would consist of pizza, steak, meatloaf, spaghetti, cajun chicken pasta, cheesecake, cream cheese brownies, and homemade pound cake.

14. Having a career as an undertaker has always been intriguing to me...and I might pursue it at some point. Or a lawyer.

15. People have always thought I should have had a career in music, but that's about the furthest thing to interest me. Music is my fun thing, my God thing.

16. Retirement is suiting me very well. A couple part-time jobs, doing what I enjoy, close to home, is a good thing.

17. I think I can sing better than some of these American Idol people. Or at least know that I can't carry a tune in a bucket and to stay home.

18. I don't have a favorite type of book or music; pretty much like all kinds and styles. However, I have enjoyed getting to know the modern day vampire and werewolves who are 'nice and friendly', vegetarian, marry, and have 'nice' children.

19. My shallow side enjoys watching tv shows like "Operation Repo", "Deadliest Catch", "Cops", and most all reality shows.

20. My cool side enjoys NCIS marathons, Bones marathons, Law and Order Marathons, Harry Potter marathons, and Lord of the Rings marathons.

21. I'm glad to be of Celtic origins and would like to meet the Celtic Woman and Celtic Thunder groups....and tour with them....especially the Celtic Woman. It would give me a chance to wear my kilt and polish up my bagpipe skills.

22. I'd love to spend the summer bicycling through Germany and Austria, sailing the Mediterranean, and lolling around a Tuscan village.

23. My greatest dream would be to be knighted by the Queen of England.

24. Being single is a pretty cool gig.

25. There's nothing better than sitting on the back deck on a spring morning having coffee and chatting with my mom.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Asleep at the keys

My worst fears were realized this past Sunday at church. Well, I guess that would be my second worst fears since I did remember to wear pants, but it was still a traumatic happening. Bear in mind that I have been playing keyboards in church services for over forty years, so I guess this day was bound to come. My Sundays have always involved being up before daylight, trying to focus on hand/eye coordination before normal people have had their first cup of coffee, and being “on” for two or three services before lunch. This past week was no different.

During the first service, I had no problems. Our Pastor preached yet another message that stirred the heart and kept me awake flipping between scriptures and writing notes from his message. However, when it came time to close our eyes for the end of the service time of invitation, my brain seemed to like the “eyes closed” part and sent some signals out to the rest of my body that maybe it was time for a wee little snooze. “No, No,” I remarked to myself, “you’ve got another hour or so to go. Wake up and get back to the music at hand.” As the second service began, the snooze signals began to expand into “time for a full-fledged nap” alert. I kept biting the insides of my cheeks and pinching my legs during the music (not easy to do and looks quite strange to those watching, I’m sure), in an effort to wake up. “Okay, Jimmy. Just leave during the sermon, find something to drink, and walk around so you’ll wake up before time to play again.” Unfortunately, my stupid legs didn’t go along with it, so there I sat during the sermon…in the middle of the platform….in front of the entire congregation….with the entire choir behind me….still biting and pinching (you should see the bruises).

Finally, the closing time came and I began to play quietly as the Pastor extended a time of decision. The congregation had their eyes closed and heads bowed during prayer, as did I, yet mine was for a different reason. All of a sudden as I played (AS I PLAYED) with my head bowed and eyes closed, I fell asleep. My head fell forward like a two-ton weight and some strange snort came out of my mouth and nose that jerked me awake before I crashed into the keys creating some horrid chord. I was far too shocked to even imagine that anyone may be watching, so I put on the most spiritual face possible, finished the song, and raced to my getaway car.

My plans are now to buy a small coffee pot to keep behind the musicians area, to have an energy drinks in the insulated cup I used to bring water in, to NEVER close my eyes again during a prayer, and to not bite my cheeks anymore. I’ve been talking very strangely ever since. So, I’m hoping despite the time change this coming weekend and losing (yet) another hour of sleep, my luck is better for this Sunday. Hopefully God got a good chuckle out of this adventure and will give me a slight zap at the pertinent times.

On a side note for those of you keeping score….I bought two new fish this week, both are now dead. It seems that over that past month, I’m batting about seven for seven (sigh).

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

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

As my Lenten season continues, I thought I would share some verses with you that are an important part of my life. Naturally, there is not room to list all my "favorites," however the following have special meaning.

Joshua 24:15: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-7: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, The Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I command you shall be in your heart. You shall teach them to your children, and shall talk of them when you are in your house, when you walk in the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:1-3: “The Lord is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.”

1 Peter 5:6-7: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Revelation 21:3-4: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes; there shall be will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There will be no more pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil; to give you a future and a hope.”

Isaiah: 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will hold you in my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah: 43:2-3: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames scorch you. I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”

Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about any, instead, pray about everything.”

2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Romans 8:37: “In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.”