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Wednesday, 18 January 2017 22:08

Tears of Hope

I was moved to tears today and have been often in the last couple of months. Tragedy has hit home in this heart of mine from loosing our second and third child to miscarriages, to loosing 5 other family members of Staci's and mine in the last 12 months, including my Great Aunt last night. Simply put, I hate death.

And today I heard these words as they were read out loud and they struck me deep to the chore of my soul. As our staff stood and worshipped Jesus through song, I moved to the back of the room. While overhearing their voices worshiping this God I love so dearly, I fell to my knees, read these same words that were just read over us, and just wept. 

"I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O death, where is your victory?
 O death where is your sting?"

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

I'm not going to sit here and explain the ins and outs of this passage, but I will share what God led me to process while on my knees wiping tear after tear from my eyes. This passage reminded me that one day I will be changed, I'm not talking about the day in which I begged God to save my soul, but I'm talking about the change that will now happen after death because he saved my soul. As I read the words "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom", the reality of death coming for all of us struck me as I thought about my Aunt, my unborn children, my cousin, and Uncles who have faced that absolute outcome. 

This life has a last breath, last heart beat, last I love you, last sunrise, last sunset, last of....you fill in the blank. But the last trumpet that all of us will hear, Yes, this last trumpet will be a sign of the beginning. This last trumpet will sound at the return of Jesus Christ returning for the church. This last trumpet brings flawless change. This perishable body of mine will put on the imperishable, this mortal body of mine will put on immortality, and then these words of old will be words of the here and now. "Death is swallowed up in victory, O death where is your victory...where is your sting?"

Tears fell even harder as I read, "the sting of death is sin"...there will be no more sin, no more law, but that's not why we celebrate. NO! "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ". Oh the joy that filled my heart then, and that fills my heart now as I write. I've been given victory of death through Jesus. My Aunt who died last night has been given the victory because she knew and now knows Jesus all the more. 

So my encouragement to those walking through difficult times, seeing death face to face, or still have moments of grief like I do.

TRUST IN JESUS

Ask Him not to show you why, although it's ok to ask that question as you grieve. But ask Him to reveal Himself to you all the more. Ask Him to be your hope for tomorrow, your strength to carry on, your refuge to find shelter from the storm, your guide when the way seems dark, your savior, rescue, comfort, friend, counselor, helper, and whatever else you may need. Ask Him to show you that He's better than anything this life has to offer. 

I encourage you to ask, because I have. I encourage you to pray, because I've prayed. I encourage you with these words, because they encouraged me today. 

"my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

Nothin' but love, 

Jimmy

Monday, 27 June 2016 18:56

Search Me and Know My Heart

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting" - Psalm 139:23-24

I look at these last words of Psalm 139 today and realize even more that these are words that I need to pray. I fail my wife, I fail my son, I wrong others, I lie, I lust, I rebel, I covet, I'm dishonest, discontent, I sin for the approval of others, I don't trust God often, I fear the unknown, I run to other things, and the list goes on and on.

I am sinful.

I need a God who will lead me in the way everlasting.  

Like David, I want God to search me and know me. I want God to shine light on the deepest and darkest secrets of my life. Why not? Why not let him reveal to me the ways in which I sin? Why not let him change me? Why not ask Him to convict this sinful heart of mine often? Is it so that my "platform" doesn't suffer? Is it so that people only see the "good side of me" and think that I'm a good person? Is it so that I don't have to wonder what so and so will think of me if they find out I've done this or that? So many of us are deathly afraid of people seeing the real us. I see this so often in social media. We're so afraid of people seeing the real people behind the post, snapchat, or tweet. We fear true vulnerability and try to just simply show folks only "the good side of life".  But if they don't see the ugly they will never see the one who is The Giver of all things good.

In my past it's been fear that's kept me from being vulnerable and begging God to search me and know my heart, to truly cleanse me of my sin. Even though I truly hate what it does to my marriage, friendships, family, and ministry, somehow I let fear lead me to believe that the best place for my sins are behind closed doors where God and I are the only two that know of it.

Thankfully, God calls us to live in community with other believers that will pray for us, keep us accountable, and call out our sin often. This is the kind of community we need to fight for in our lives. Even though I sometimes fear that God will cleanse me in the form of humiliation, it's a prayer that I need to pray no matter if I'm humiliated in front of numerous people or sitting in front of my wife confessing hidden ways I've sinned against her. 

I'm in need of a savior just like everyone else is in this world. It's through my sin that the people I encounter get to actually see a glimpse of the love of Christ Jesus. My humiliation points people to Jesus. You see, He became sin that I might become His righteousness. Not part of my sin, but all of my sin. When I see my sin and couple it with vulnerability and confession; God shows himself faithful to his word.

"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sings, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as his as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us..." - Psalm 103:8-12

Whether in our victories or defeats, lets strive to be vulnerable, honest, and real people who ask God to search us and know our hearts so that we can point people to the grace, mercy, and love of Christ in ALL that we do.

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Tuesday, 17 May 2016 22:28

My Bride

Three years ago today I had one of the most life changing experiences of my lifetime. Staci and I had an all day date that consisted of brunch, shopping, driving, early dinner, a "random" vineyard tour, me asking for her hand in marriage, a shocked yet full of excitement reply, us taking communion together, prayer, photos, my confession of how I planned it all, another drive, an unforgettable party with family and a turtle, late night conversations friends, and a really sweet time of prayer with Staci.

Today marks 3 years of an incredible journey. From wedding planning to parenting 16 months later. It has been a journey for sure. Although it hasn't been an easy 3 years, it has by far been 3 of the most blessed years of my life. As I sit here today I think of moment after moment of God shaping and molding Staci and I through both trails and triumphs. Neither of us are necessarily the same people that walked into this covenant, but we are better people because of it. I'm not giving up on her and she's not giving up on me.

Marriage has been one of the most difficult things that we have ever walked through, but God saw fit that this would be the way he wanted to sanctify us. Neither of us take our single years for granted. We look back at them and are thankful God allowed so many things to shape our views and show us more of who He is. Marriage is just a different context of that sanctification now. It's neither better or worse, but it is good. God gives good gifts to His kids, and Staci has been a constant gift to me in ways that I would never have imagined. 

I look at my wife and see my best friend, my companion, a great encourager, a consistent helper, mother to our son, the woman who makes our house a home, the woman who challenges my insecurities, points me to Jesus, prays for me often, and just loves me so well. I truly love Staci. There is no other woman in the world that I would rather be with than her. She, to me, lives out these words from Proverbs 31 with intentionality and constant conviction.

"She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband  trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." - Proverbs 31:10-12

I read these words and I'm humbled to call Staci my bride. She knows she's not perfect, but I honestly believe she is perfect for me. God perfectly chose her to be the woman who would point me back to himself often. 

Staci, I am so humbled to call you my bride. You are far better than the wife I prayed for in my teenage years. I write this to you today as a husband who is amazed by God's grace in his life. In many ways you are a constant reminder that God loves me. Not only do you show me his love through your actions, but I see his love through the blessing you are as my bride. Thank you. I love you and I'm honored to call you mine.

your second love, 

Jimmy

Saturday, 20 February 2016 02:26

Verge - Austin (Set Lists)

 The first Verge Conference Regional was incredible. I can't tell how blessed we were as a band to play a role this year. We not only led you guys in song, but you led us in worship this weekend. Thank You! I know many of you were asking about what songs we did during the sessions and I wanted to provide you with that information all in one place. 

So here are links to every song we played at Verge this weekend including the Spirit led changes to the set list. I pray these songs will continue to bless you as you listen.

 

Session 1 (Thursday Morning):
Forever Reign(Arrangement: Austin Stone Worship - "Austin Stone Live")
Come Thou Fount(Arrangement: Jimmy McNeal - "Adopted")
You Never Change - Austin Stone Worship
- During and after communion -
Nothing But The Blood - Hymn
How Marvelous - Hymn
Man of Sorrows - Hillsong
In Christ Alone - Modern Hymn

Session 4 (Thursday Evening):
Love Shines - Austin Stone Worship
Jesus is Better - (Arranegment: Jimmy McNeal - "Adopted")
Cornerstone - (Arrangement: Austin Stone Worship - "This Glorious Grace")
Gracious Redeemer - Austin Stone Worship
- song after the message -
I Surrender - (Arrangement: Jimmy McNeal - "Adopted")

Session 5 (Friday Morning):
The Lord Our God - Passion
God I Look To You - Bethel Music
Forever - Bethel Music (Kari Jobe Live Arraingment)
I Surrender - (Arrangement: Jimmy McNeal - "Adopted")
- song after the message -
You Are God and You Are Good - Austin Stone Worship

Session 7 (Friday Evening):
Man of Sorrows
- Hillsong
Gracious Redeemer - Austin Stone Worship
Cornerstone - (Arrangement: Austin Stone Worship - "This Glorious Grace")
- song after the message - 
You Never Change - Austin Stone Worship

I pray that these songs continue to bless you throughout the week and going forward. Feel free to pass this along to others that were at Verge - Austin this weekend. 

Nothin' but love, 

Jimmy

 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016 19:23

God's Word and It's importance In My Life

If you're like me at all, reading the bible isn't always a daily occurrence. There are days or even weeks where I'm reading on a regular basis, but I then get off track for some reason. Sleep, work, music, check lists, holidays, obligations, family and other really good things often distract me from this priority. My wife and my close friends can easily tell when I haven't been in "the Word" in a while. The symptoms are pretty easy to catch. I'm lazy, short tempered, easily frustrated, easily annoyed, I complain (a lot), I'm unforgiving, slow to listen, quick to speak, and just flat out more selfish than I already am. During those stages I'd rather go see a movie, or just sleep than spend time reading my bible. 

Can you relate?

Recently I've been counseling others to just take every day one at a time asking yourself questions like; How can I serve/love/share God more today? How can I love my spouse or roommates well today? How can I serve my family well today? How can I be a better worker/co-worker today? For me the first answer to all of these questions is and will always be spending time reading my bible and in prayer. I can't let the worries of the day dictate my life.

"But Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow: for tomorrow wil be anxious for itself.." - Matthew 6:33-34

His Word easily brings me to a place of reminding myself that I'm not at the center of the universe - He is. As I get to know God more, he continues to change me for the better. As I read Gods Word I see my own depravity and need for a Savior. As I grow in understanding God's Word, my outlook on my days change because it's a constant reminder that Jesus is better than anything this world could ever offer. 

At the beginning of the year I ran across this prayer from "The Valley of Vision". It's called "A Minister's Bible".  I've prayed for myself, my family, church, and for those reading this blog. 

O God of Truth,

I thank you for the Holy Scriptures, 
their precepts, promises, directions, light.
In them may I learn more of Christ,
be enabled to retain His truth
and have grace to follow it. 

Help me to lift up the gates of my soul 
that He may come in 
and show me Himself when I search 
the Scriptures, 
for I have no lines to fathom it's depths, 
no wings to soar to its heights.

By His aid may I be enabled to explore 
all it's truths, 
love them with all my heart,
embrace them with all my power, 
engraft them into my life. 

Bless to my soul all grains of truth gathered from your word:
may they take deep root,
be refreshed by heavenly rays,
be harvested to my joy and thy praise.

Help me to gain profit by what I read, 
as treasure beyond all treasure,
a fountain which can replenish my dry heart
it's waters flowing through me as a river
drawn by the Holy Spirit.

Enable me to extract from it's pages faithful prayer
that grasps the arm of your omnipotence,
achieves wonders, obtains blessings,
and draws down streams of mercy. 

From it show me how my words have often been
unfaithful to You....

And then write your words upon my heart
and inscribe them on my lips;
So shall all glory be to you alone
in my reading of Your word

- "The Valley of Vision" (A Minister's Bible)

Is this your desire today? I've prayed this prayer for myself, my family, and my church and want to encourage you to do the same, even if you need to re-read it as your prayer, take a moment and do so.  

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 15:57

Sons & Daughters EP

This summer I was invited to help create "The Sons & Daughters EP" benefiting Redeemed Ministries.

Redeemed Ministries is an all volunteer faith-based non-profit that gives churches and their congregations the opportunity to find their place in the fight against human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. To create more awareness I along with 5 other artist from various churches and backgrounds in Austin were asked to be advocates for this cause by creating a 6-song EP. The Songs & Daughters Project aims to raise awareness and funds to support Redeemed Ministries' mission which is to redeem and liberate individuals affected by domestic sex trafficking. 

Will You join us in advocating for their cause? 

My 1st ask of you is this. Pray that God would use this EP to not only raise awareness and funds for Redeemed Ministries, but that ultimately God would use this organization to show and share the love of Christ to those who are trapped in sex trafficking. 

My 2nd ask of you is....GO GET THE ALBUM AND SUPPORT THE MINISTRY, IT IS OFFICIALLY ON ITUNES TODAY! 

Sons & Daughters EP

If you or your church want to get involved with Redeemed Ministries in any kind of way, you can find more info here

Nothin' but Love,

Jimmy

Monday, 10 August 2015 20:38

A Letter To Jackson

It has officially been a full year since I held Jackson Jett McNeal for the first time. I write to my son today praying he might be encouraged by the words of this sinful, chosen, born again Christ follower.

Jackson,

I've been called multiple names in my lifetime, but I'm humbled to now be called "DahDah". Simply put, it's because it comes from your lips son. Well, it's actually more like "DahDahDahDahDahDahDah", and it's really the only thing you know how to say at this point, but I think it still counts. No matter how often or how you say it, you have your moments where I know you're talking to me. This has been a crazy ride, but your mom and I are truly blessed to call you our son.

A few weeks ago you said those now famous first words, but today was another memorable moment. A little over 24 hrs of living a full year of life you took your first "stumbling steps". Yes, all on your own. Your mom and I went crazy! Seriously, we screamed and tried to get it on video...but it quickly turned into a precious memory since you decided to giggle at us and crawl every time we tried to stage the moment again. Jackson, these moments are only glimpses of what I hope and pray for your soul. Here's what I mean by that.

Just as much as you've called me "DahDah" and taken your first "stumbling steps", I pray that you will one day call God "Father" and even take your first leap of faith into unknown territory. Jackson, just like any Dad, I want a lot of things for you. But ultimately, I want you to know, love, and give your life to Jesus. This prayer David prayed has been my prayer for you since you were in the womb.

"...I know my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes..." - 1 Chronicles 29:10-22

David asked god to give Solomon a whole heart, not a good heart, a kind heart, or a pleasant one. He asks for an impartial heart, one that is whole. A whole heart that is useful and full of life. This is what I've prayed for you Jackson. Although you are sinful, broken, and needy, I pray your heart would be brought to life by God and therefore have an inclination to be obedient to His commandments. I pray that the Bible would be your authority, that you would believe it, obey it, cherish it, and seek to know God more through it. I'm begging God to grab your heart and make it new. 

Jackson, these are not just words I write, but words I pray for you. You are a true gift from God and in that same breath I declare that you will always be His. God has entrusted you to me, I don't own you as your earthly dad, but I've been called by God to raise and disciple you. Though I will fail you often, I pray that in both my failures and victories you will see God as the better Father and run to Him. 

Even as you read this, I don't know if you know Jesus as your personal Savior, but I am praying that he saves your soul and that you would believe in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you and will continue to pray this passage over you just as David did to his son.

Nothin' but love,

DahDah

Friday, 06 February 2015 00:00

Blog Hiatus

Although I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts through these blog posts, I will be taking an extended break from blogging. My hope is to get back to writing more of these blogs sometime in August 2015. Until then.... 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Thursday, 02 April 2015 08:31

Adopted

Thursday, 02 April 2015 08:31

Father