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Friday, 23 August 2013 18:03

"A Song for the Suffering"

I recently heard a song that touched my heart in a different way. Written by a musician who untimely lost his father, the song describes how their family desperately clinged to God and looked to the truth of the scriptures in the midst of their suffering. As I listened to Shane Bernard passionately sing what his heart had written on paper, John Piper's voice unexpectedly began to speak truth that's hard to hear in such times. But truth is truth for the one who believes in a hope that is to come. I don't know where you are today, but my prayer is that this message encourages you wherever you are in life. Below are the words that Piper passionately shared in the song "A song for the Suffering". 

"Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.

I don't care if it was cancer or criticism. I don't care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn't meaningless. It's doing something! It's not meaningless. Of course you can't see what it's doing. Don't look to what is seen.

When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you've got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don't say, "That's meaningless!" It's not. It's working for you an eternal weight of glory.

Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for."

- John Piper

Christian, "Because of God's sovereign care for you, every pain in this life is producing a glory for you that will last forever". These are words that should not bring us to fear, but remind us that this life here is temporary and for those who believe in the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...Heaven awaits.

 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Saturday, 10 August 2013 14:04

The Light that overcomes darkness

"...we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all." 

- 1 John 1:2-5

God is light. If God is light then HE shines, He is pure, He is holy, whithout blemish, He is what cast out the darkness, He is what cast out fear. Many times when we find ourselves in darkness, fear creeps in and alters our reality. Lies become what we believe instead of truth. But in these verses we see that God is truth, He is the light that cast out fear, that gives light to the darkness, that overcomes the darkness. In Him there is not darkness at all. There is no wrong, there is no impurity, there are no flaws in God, HE is perfect. And if HE is perfect then HIS ways are perfect, sure, faithful, true, and trustworthy. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I can trust the sturdiness of a seat when I see that it seems to be perfectly made, or the assurance of a car or plan to get me from one place to the next when it looks and feels like it works properly. If I can trust in these man made objects, I must resolve to recline into the arms of my trustworthy Savoir in every area of my life. HE is perfect, HE is sure, HE is righteous, HE is without spot or wrinkle, He is the light that overcomes darkness, HE is God.

My prayer for you as you read this is simply that you would pray that your trust would be increased and produce in you faith that is unwaivering. I not only pray this for you, but for myself as well.

 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Friday, 19 July 2013 03:09

Forget not all His benefits

"Forget not all His benefits."

— ps 103:2

As I get older I realize that sleeping in becomes more of a dream than a reality. Last Saturday was just that. It was the day after "#Flight360" camp and this brotha was exhausted. When my eyes opened that morning I thought that I had at least slept for about 10 hrs, but nope, not this guy. To my surprise there was little light outside and it was early, I mean early, and for some reason I just couldn't fall back asleep. So I just did what you do on days like that. I laid there. I laid there staring at the ceiling fan above me and had this urge to read my bible but was fighting it. I didn't want to pray nor did I want to read my bible, I just wanted to go back to sleep, but I couldn't shake this feeling. So I begrudgingly grabbed my phone and opened my bible app. My resistant response soon became a time of worship. Tears ensued and I knew why I couldn't fall back asleep. This was the devotional by Charles Spurgeon that I came across that morning which triggered that response.

"Forget not all His benefits."

— ps 103:2

"It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints, and to observe his goodness in delivering them, his mercy in pardoning them, and his faithfulness in keeping his covenant with them. But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to remark the hand of God in our own lives? Ought we not to look upon our own history as being at least as full of God, as full of his goodness and of his truth, as much a proof of his faithfulness and veracity, as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before? We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that he wrought all his mighty acts, and showed himself strong for those in the early time, but doth not perform wonders or lay bare his arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence? Have you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have you had no choice favours? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, hath he never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things," hath he never satiated you with fatness? Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters? Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. Let us, then, weave his mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness, and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus. Let our souls give forth music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David's harp, while we praise the Lord whose mercy endureth for ever."

- Charles Spurgeon

 

"Let us review our own lives" moved me to write down the things that I know were an act of God that week. As I began to write tears began to well up inside me. "Hath he never listened to you and answered your requests?" While I wrote about the many lives that were changed at camp I began to think even further back and write down things God had done this year. Tears began streaming down the sides of my cheeks as I thought about the many ways He's been faithful, answered prayers, shown Himself trustworthy, and just blessed already this year. I just couldn't help myself. My response was worship. 

I wonder if you've ever done something like this before. When was the last time you just sat in awe of what God has done for you? I want to encourage you to take a moment, TODAY actually, and do just that. I'd encourage you not to just think about what God has done for you, but actually write them down and see a glimpse of His faithfulness in your own life.

"Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old." 

My prayer is that as you write, read, and think through those things that your response would be the same, WORSHIP.

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Thursday, 13 June 2013 14:59

I'm Engaged!

I'm engaged!

Yup, the rumors that I started are true. "Jimmy McNeal "popped the question" and she said yes!"

It's been a long time coming. I've had many a-friends who've wanted to set me up, tell me about some girl they thought I would be perfect for, or just throw some random girl in my line of site to see if any sparks would fly. I wasn't the type to date around, nor was I looking for a relationship. I can honestly say that for the last 3-5 years I've been content with my singleness. Actually, I was under the impression that I would be single for a least the next 5 years. And to be honest, I was ok with that. For the time, God had me single for a reason and I wanted to "enjoy my singleness". By that, I don't mean date around, or just be a bum, but use my singleness as a catalyzer to worship God in a way that was uniquely different from someone who wasn't single. I'm thankful that God gave me many opportunities to use my singleness to glorify Him through missions, giving of my time, efforts, finances, volunteer work, as well as deepening many friendships along the way. Don't get me wrong, I still believe that these things will take place within dating, engagement, and well into marriage. Truth is, it's just going to a little bit different now that I'm so head over heals for this beautiful girl named Staci!

As many of you saw from the Facebook photos or heard from my pastor this past Sunday at church, all went as planned and I am now an engaged man. I have a "soon to be"! She is a true blessing to my life. From just a friend to close friend turned girlfriend to best friend and now fiance', Staci has increased my faith to believe that God really does hear our prayers, even the little ones. I can't tell you how many times I've prayed for Staci not knowing that she was the one I had been praying for for all these years. It started back in Jr. High when I realized that I could actually pray for my future wife and that it wasn't a bad thing to pray for a Godly spouse, even at the ripe old age of 13. So I did. From BIG to small prayers, I prayed about all the things I wanted to find in a wife. I won't lie, most of them were selfish things, but I was told that I should just pray specifics and not beat around the bush. I mean, this is my wife I"m praying for here! It's been humbling to think back and remind myself of those prayers while Staci and I have been dating. I'm humbled to say that most, not all, but most of those prayers were actually answered. From something as small as her having long eye lashes (yup I admit it, I prayed for that, I'm not sure why but I'm glad I did) to something as important as her having a firm foundation in her faith. Heck, I even remember praying several times that we would be friends before dating, and by God's grace we were.

I can honestly say that Staci is a true and rare gift from God that I do not deserve. I am a very blessed man to have the privilege of marrying such a Godly woman. God has done abundantly more than I could ever ask or think in regards to the woman I would marry. I must say, I love the way God has blessed me these last few years with such a dear friend, who will soon be my bride, who will soon be my wife! I look forward to enjoying the joys of marriage as I did the joys of singleness. I'm excited to not just see where I"m headed, but even more excited to see where we, Staci and I, are headed as one. I'm thankful that God, in His infinite wisdom, would move my heart to choose Staci as my bride to be.

Thank You Jesus!

So get ready my friends, there will be more blogs, songs, photos, and memories to come as I fail, learn, lead, and grow through this next chapter of my life.

 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 16:46

The Best Month of My Life

There's a saying that my grandma likes to say that has stuck with me my whole life.

"Give'em their flowers while their still living"

I've tried to live this out ever since I got an understanding of what it meant. I want people to know how I care about them now. What good is it in waiting to share those feelings of appreciation, gratitude, love, and encouragement? None of us know the day when death will call our name, but I can assure you that even now your one-minute closer to it. I'm humbled to say that this is how my friends and loved ones decided to bless me this year. 30 days before my 30th birthday I was given a gift that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The gift was a stack of letters entitled "30 for 30". Each letter had a number on it counting down to March 13th, my official 30th birthday. And for the next 30 days I opened the numbered letter(s) for that particular day. I've come to the realization that this brotha can shed some tears, especially when I'm sitting by myself. I can't remember when I've cried so consistently from feeling so blessed and loved by my firneds and family God has blessed me with. So often after reading a letter I was moved to worship God. Humbled by the love that was shown to me through each word and by God's grace of blessing me with their friendship. This was by far one of the best gifts I've ever recieved. To those friends and family I want to say again, I LOVE YOU & THANK YOU. 

This wasn't the only thing that happened this month!

One of my "Brotha's from anotha' Motha'" got married! And not only that, the couple decided to give us a reason to go on vacation early this year. I was blessed to witness their marriage, honored to stand as his Best Man, humbled to sing at the ceremony, and ecstatic to join them in Cancun for their destination wedding. I may have come back a little crispier (darker) than when I left, but this brotha was well rested. And yes, black people do get tans...trust me on this one. Even though I laid in a hammock with a book most of the trip "that sun Gotme".

Once I returned from the trip my friends threw me a "Roaring 20's Party" and as you can see from the photo we had a blast. There were lights, great potluck food, a photo booth, bbq, games, a signature pork ribs birthday cake (yes, I said ribs), dancing, and many of my firends in their best 20's outfits. To say the least, it was the best birthday party yet.

This last month was incredible and to top it all off March 31st was Easter Sunday; the celebration of the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the culminations of all of these events plus a few others are what made this last month "The Best Month of My Life".

Nothin' but Love,

Jimmy

Tuesday, 19 February 2013 15:57

7in7-Day6

Song#6 of 7in7 comes directly from Psalm 103, a passage that I read yesterday that really hit home. Enjoy!

Psalm 103 (Bless The Lord)

bless The Lord O my Soul
all that is within me
praise His Holy Holy name
bless the Lord, O my soul

merciful and gracious
slow to anger forgiving God
abounding in steadfast love
compassionate Father we sing Your praise

bless The Lord O my Soul
all that is within me
praise His Holy Holy name
bless the Lord, O my soul

as high as the heavens above
great is your steadfast love
as far as the east from the west
our sins you have removed

bless The Lord O my Soul
all that is within me
praise His Holy Holy name
bless the Lord, O my soul

You've established your throne in the heavens
Your kingdom, it reigns over all
Angels obeying your voice
praising our king we join the host

bless The Lord O my Soul
all that is within me
praise His Holy Holy name
bless the Lord, O my soul

bless The Lord O my Soul
all that is within me 
praise His Holy Holy name
bless the Lord, O my soul

 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Monday, 18 February 2013 15:40

7in7-Day5

This song stems from this last verse of a hymn called "Come Thou Fount"

"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be
let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wondering heart to thee
I'm prone to wonder Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
here's my heart Lord take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above"

I meditated on those thoughts for a while, and I'm thankful that God gave me this song for day 5. I believe, for the Christian, this is the cry of their heart often times more than not. 

"In Need of Grace (constantly)"

I need Your grace
clasp this heart
wondering often far from You  

My selfishness
displays my need
desperately I long for change

grant me trust when my faith is frail 
give me fight when my flesh is weak
your the strength of my heart and my portion forever
I'm in need of grace constantly 

I need Your hand
uproot my pride
perfectly prune with love 

my fear is great
remind my soul
faithfully Your hold is strong 

grant me trust when my faith is frail 
give me fight when my flesh is weak
Your the strength of my heart and my portion forever

grant me trust when my faith is frail 
give me fight when my flesh is weak
Your the strength of my heart and my portion forever
I'm in need of grace constantly 

 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Sunday, 17 February 2013 00:40

7in7-Day4

I had a thought this morning to write a song that would be words that I would actually pray before I read my bible. I wanted this song to be simple and prayerful. We generally don't pray with music in the background, so I decided to make this one Acapella; and this is what come out and turned into song#4 of 7in7. 

"Here I Am"

Heavenly Father
I come before You 
humbly seeking to know You more
heres my heart

Merciful Maker 
I call on You Lord
guide and teach me Your ways with grace
help me discern

Here I am 
asking that you would speak
clearly, faithfully to me 

grant me wisdom  
to understand truth
Lord I want to obey your word
hear my prayer 

daily portion 
is what I long for 
drawing nearer to Thee, my God
feed my soul

Here I am 
asking that you would speak
clearly, faithfully to me 


Here I am 
asking that you would speak
clearly, faithfully to me 

Amen

 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Friday, 15 February 2013 21:26

7in7-Day3

Here is Song#3 of 7in7.

This one was inspired by a valley of vision prayer I wrote a blog about a few weeks back called "A Prayer of Love". Lyrically, this is one of my favorite ones so far. Just reading the lyrics leads me to worship, I pray the same for you. 

 

 

"Thy Greates Gift"

Your name is love
Your ways are pure, unwavering, faithful and true
Thy kindness Lord repairs my soul 
with sanctifying merciful hands 

Your love flowed down at calvary's cross
there You forgave all my sin

I find my pardon in thee
where grace and mercy abounds
atoning blood reconciling life
embraced Your wrath saving me 

Your Word is just
your thoughts are sure, trusting never failing and strong
Thy presence Lord 
unlimited peace sovereignly you hold with your hand 

your love flowed down at calvary's cross
there You forgave all my sin

I find my pardon inTthee
where grace and mercy abounds
atoning blood reconciling life
embraced Your wrath saving me 

Thy greatest gift is Your Son
in him I have all I need 

Thy greatest gift is Your Son
in him I have all I need 

 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy

Thursday, 14 February 2013 17:14

7in7-Day2

I didn't get to Song#2 until 10:30pm last night #uhoh. Yup, I fell asleep. Ha! Not once, but 3 times. This brotha was tired. I finally called it a night at 2am. Thankfully I woke up with some fresh ideas and here is the finished product. 

"Faithful Love"

This song was inspired by these verses from Philippians:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)

 

"Faithful Love"

emptied Servant 
bearing the likeness of men 
selfless Savior
hanging nailed to a cross

faithful love

matchless beauty 
freely you've given Your life 
submissive Victor
perfectly purchased Your own

awake our souls with faithful love
immerse our hearts in whelming flood 
fill these lungs with boundless praise 
in awe of You Lord we humbly proclaim 
Faithful love Faithful love

endless wonder
dying You've taken our place 
death defeated
risen You've concurred the grave

Soon we'll see You
knees will bow at Your name 
Hallelujah 
Jesus Christ is Lord 

awake our souls with faithful love
immerse our hearts in whelming flood 
fill these lungs with boundless praise 
in awe of You Lord we humbly proclaim 

Faithful love (You've shown) Faithful love 
Faithful God (You are) Faithful God 

 

Nothin' but love,

Jimmy