Sunday, February 28, 2010

Five Words by Kim Jackson

I have a habit that a few of my friends find disturbing.

I like to spend time in cemeteries.

Besides the fact that I’ve met some interesting people there, I like to walk in cemeteries because it puts life in perspective.

When I’m there it’s easy to imagine that one day somebody reading this article might be walking in the Palestine, Illinois cemetery and they’ll glance over toward Patterson’s homestead and see a tombstone that reads:

Kim Jackson
Born: May 2, 1957— Died: (date to be determined by God)

And what will be important on that stone is not the month, day or year of my birth or death, but the simple dash between them—a symbol that represents all the years of my life.

I “met” a woman in an old cemetery in Manassas, Virginia several years ago who didn’t have many years in her dash, but from what was written on her tombstone, I think she had a lot of life in her years.

Engraved on her tombstone were five simple words, five words that succinctly and beautifully summed up what I would surmise must have been a life well lived.

Could you sum up your life in five words? Could I?

Let’s pretend our lives ended today. When the engraver finishes the tombstone he realizes he has some extra space, so he calls up the people closest to us and says, “I’ve got a little room left—could you come up with, say, five words that sum up the focus of her life?”

What five words would those closest to us choose?

I’m confident that none of the following phrases apply to anyone reading this article, but based on resources invested, energy spent, conversation topics and priorities noted, I’ll submit these for a few folks I’ve known over the years:

His yard always looked great
He drove a sharp car
She was a fashion plate
He made the big bucks
She kept an immaculate house
He was a sports fanatic
He retired early and traveled
She married a gorgeous hunk

Far fetched, you say?

Well, I have another habit that may prove otherwise.

I collect obituaries. The best ones in my collection are from when I lived in Orlando. Every day the newspaper would highlight one of the deceased and the headline of that obituary would express the focus of that person’s life.

For example:

• Paula Stephens loved her collection of dolls
• Leroy Lewis mastered the pipe organ
• Mayme Bilenger loved her Bonsai trees
• Lyda Hadley co-founded nudist resort

I rest my case.

When Sociologist Tony Campolo interviewed 50 people age 95 or older, he asked, “Looking back over your life, what would you do differently?” Their responses were gathered in to three categories. First, these folks, age 95 or older, said they would take more risks. They wouldn’t play it so safe if they had another chance. Next, they would reflect more. There would be more “ponder pauses” the second time ‘round. And thirdly, they would do more things that would last after they’re gone—things of an enduring, eternal nature.

These are wise words coming from those nearing the cemetery gates.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, I don’t spend all my time contemplating death. But flying in an airplane is another place where I ponder eternity. And with good reason: the last time I was flying back to North Carolina, the flight attendant’s voice came over the intercom just as the plane was landing:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Charlotte, North Carolina. And if you have a connecting flight here, we wish you a pleasant journey to your final destination.”

We all have a final destination.

And though we don’t get to choose how we are going to die, or when, we can choose how we are going to live, and we can be certain of our Final Destination.

By the way, the five words on the woman’s tombstone in Virginia were “She went about doing good.”

What   are   your   five   words?

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. (Acts 10:37, 38)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Purrfect Miracle by Serena Haneline

I never used to think of myself as a cat lover. The few experiences I’d had with cats were not good ones. However, one little orange kitty changed all that about seven years ago. A close friend of mine moved and couldn’t take her cat with her, so I offered, like a good friend should, to keep her cat “temporarily.”

Well, I didn’t like this cat that much at first. He got on my nerves and was just too needy. But then I started enjoying having another creature around as company. So after awhile, I offered to unofficially “adopt” Opie (named after the character on Andy Griffith because of his orange hair). I’ve been his “mommy” for almost nearly a decade now.

Opie has also been a very healthy cat over the years. That is, until last year around October. I noticed his eating and drinking habits change and finally had to take him to the vet. I was shocked when I heard his diagnosis. Diabetes. Yeah, cats can get a feline version of diabetes.

So for the next three months I had to give him an insulin shot twice a day. I watched a video about giving insulin shots to cats and those people said their cats got used to it. Well, Opie never did. In fact, it seemed like it was getting harder and harder to give it to him without him moving. I stuck myself more than once!

But ever since that first day in the vet’s office, when the vet shared the heartbreaking news of Opie’s condition, I held onto a small sliver of hope. She told me then that sometimes cats can get over diabetes. Of course she followed that comment with, “More often they have to live with the condition for the rest of their lives.”

Well, Opie is like my child, so I was willing to do whatever to keep him alive and healthy. I didn’t know then that it was going to cost me so much (I think I spent nearly $500 those first months on vet bills, medicine, and food). Of course, I would do it again though!

Then a few weeks ago, I started feeling like I really needed to pray for healing for Opie. But I never seemed to have “enough” faith to say a prayer, believing that God would actually heal him from this disease. I mean, who’s heard of God healing cats? Finally, one night, when I felt like I had just a tiny bit of faith and belief, I laid my hands on Opie, while he was (trying) to take a nap on my bed, and prayed for God to take the diabetes away.

About a week later, I was running out of syringes for his insulin. As I was leaving the parking lot of the pharmacy, I had this feeling that I had bought them for nothing. Two days later I took him back to the vet (I hadn’t been in two months because the vet bill was so high).

I had to leave him all day so that his glucose levels could be checked and insulin given throughout the day. When I picked him up at 5:00 that day, his vet came out to talk to me. I didn’t know whether this was good news or bad. She sat down beside me on a bench and said she had to come out and tell me herself that Opie’s glucose levels were normal and she didn’t have to give him any insulin at all that day. In other words, my sweet kitty was HEALED! I told her that I had been praying for healing for him. She said that whatever I did, it worked and that this was a very rare situation!

On the way home that day, I cried for joy and thanked God for reaching down and healing a cat—my cat, who I love dearly now. I think about how sometimes it’s so hard for me to have faith because I think that God doesn’t care about the little things in my life, like a sick cat, for example. But His Word tells us differently: “Every animal in the forest belongs to me, and so do the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds in the mountains, and every wild creature is in my care. If I were hungry, I wouldn't tell you, because I own the world and everything in it” (Psalm 50:10-12) and “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God” (Luke 12:6).

This miracle not only proves that God loves cats (ha!); it also proves that God does care about the things we care about. He showed me through Opie’s miracle that He is more than willing to show his love for us in the most surprising and unexpected ways.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'll Love You When... by Tami Gilman

I’ll love you in the morning
When you wake up looking frumpy
I’ll love you in the evening
When you’re tired and feeling grumpy

I’ll love you when you’re busy
And need more hours in a day
I’ll love you when you talk to me
And let me make a way

I’ll love you when you think you’re right
And make your own mistakes
I’ll love you when you realize
I’m there when your heart breaks

I’ll love you when you don’t notice me
I’ll love you when you do
I’ll love you when you think I don’t
Because only I know what is true

I’ll love you when you’re angry with me
I’ll love you when you’re not
I love you with the price I paid
I love you with the sin I bought

I’ll love you when you succeed
I’ll love you when you fail
I’ll love you whether you realize
It was more than just a nail

I want only the best for you
And hope you comprehend
I’ll love you no matter what
And I’ll always love you when…

All My Love,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wow Dee Wow by Kim Jackson

The first time my Mom saw the ocean, she stood on the shore, spread her arms open wide as if to embrace a new friend, and said, “Look what the Lord has done.”

Her marvel at the ocean deepened with each trip to her beloved seashore. Whether admiring a sunrise’s riot of color or standing mesmerized by dancing dolphins, the expression on her face reflected the depth of her awe.

Beauty rarely escaped my Mom’s recognition. Whether at ocean’s edge or in her native Midwest, my Mom appreciated not only the “pretty of creation,” but also the unique, the detail, and the spectacular in the world around her. She even coined a signature exclamation to capture her wonder: “Wow Dee Wow!”

I believe God is honored by “Wow Dee Wow!”

The Psalms often rally us to speak, shout and sing our “Wow Dee Wows.” One of my favorites is Psalm 34:2: “My soul will boast in the Lord….” In the margin next to that verse I’ve written: “I’m bragging on You, Lord,” and “I’m proud of You, God!”

Several years ago I visited a church known for its vibrant worship. As I drove up the long driveway to the parking lot, I noticed two large stone monuments. I pulled my car to the edge of the road and smiled when I realized the stones were engraved with words reminiscent of Luke 19:40.

The first stone read, “If you don’t praise Him…” The second stone continued, “We will.”

I don’t want a rock taking my place in praising God, do you?

When I lived on the east side of Orlando, I would leave for work at 6:30 a.m. each morning for a commute that required me to merge onto the race track otherwise known as the East/West Expressway—something that almost always improved my prayer life.

One particular morning I was already in the prayer mode before approaching the ramp to the expressway. As I considered the day that would unfold before me, my prayers were along these lines:

“God, I want to make You smile today. I want to live my life in such a way that it brings joy to your great heart. Show me ways that I can delight You. I want to make You smile today, God.”

And just as I was speaking those words, I was at the top of the ramp and needed to look in my side mirror to see if the oncoming cars would allow an easy merge.

But what I saw in the mirror was not headlights or bumpers, but instead, an incredibly glorious sunrise. As my car merged in to the westbound lanes, this fantastic display continued to develop in my rearview mirror. The colors were stunning. Even viewed in a mirror, the artistry was overwhelming.

It was then that I heard God speak to my spirit: “What a coincidence… I want to make you smile today, too.”

I reveled in the thought! God had painted the skies for me that day! Or at least for those who would take note of such a display of grandeur. I was obviously in a minority that morning, for when I pulled up to the first tollbooth I could see that the occupants in the cars squeezed around mine had not noticed God’s colorful canvas. On the contrary, the lady in front of me was putting on makeup; another driver was juggling coffee and breakfast biscuits. And I think the driver on my left had the Wall Street Journal draped over his steering wheel.

My soul cried out, “Oh God, thank You for making me smile this morning! Father, please don’t let me ever be so distracted that I miss Your glory displayed in the skies. May my heart always respond to Your creative craftsmanship with ‘Wow Dee Wows’ of praise.”

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands”   Psalm 19:1.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Have No Shame by Jenn Fromke

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel . . . “ Romans 1:16

If I say this every day when I wake up in the morning, what might it do to my life?

I do not want to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel at Bible Study.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel at church.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel with my kids.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel when I’m alone.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel when someone steps on my rights to religious freedom.

I’m not ashamed of the Gospel at the grocery store until I am prompted to pay for someone else’s groceries.

I’m not ashamed of the Gospel when I talk to other people who are sharing it.

I’m not ashamed of the Gospel until I see someone standing on a corner holding a sign. Then I wonder if I should give him money or the Gospel or both. Most often, the light turns green, and I give him neither.

I’m not ashamed of the Gospel when I plan an event that is designed to share the Gospel.

I’m ashamed of myself when a spontaneous opportunity presents itself and I don’t feel “ready” to share the Gospel.

When I am with unbelievers, sometimes I spend more time plotting how I’ll share with them than I spend listening to what they have to say.

When I am surrounded by strangers, I think, wouldn’t it be nice if they could see the Gospel in me without my ever saying a word?

When I am with a loved one I don’t believe is walking with the Lord, I wish he would listen to the Gospel somewhere, sometime.

When I am with a friend who doesn’t know the Lord, I pat myself on the back if I manage to slip tiny pieces of the Gospel into our conversation.

When I am with those who need it most, I often judge whether they “want” to hear the Gospel or not, and if I don’t think they “want” to hear it, I don’t speak it.

Some days I feel like wearing a T-shirt which proclaims the Gospel of Christ.

Some days I hide behind the pages of a newspaper, which promotes ideas contrary to the Gospel.

I am ashamed of my ineptitude when it comes to sharing the Gospel of Christ.


I am a child of God and as such, I am empowered by the Holy Spirit, who lives in me, to share the Gospel.

I am overwhelmed that God would use someone like me to participate in such eternal things as carrying the Gospel of Christ to people who are desperate for it.

Even when I am failing miserably, as I try to explain the truth of God, He will miraculously bring understanding through my feeble words, so that His Word is proclaimed with power; Holy Spirit power.

I am not ashamed of the One in whom I’ve placed my faith.

I am not ashamed of the mercy He granted me when I believed.

I am not ashamed of the grace He lavishes on me daily, wholly undeserved.

I wish I could give all that He’s given me, to all the people who have not yet heard or responded to the Gospel.


I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17