Thursday, November 12, 2009

Devotional 11-13-09

Having taught school for over for over twenty years before retirement, hundreds of students visited my language arts classroom. When I became ill in June 2007, I heard from many former students and also from some of their parents. Their kind words regarding time spent in my classroom while wishing me good health warmed my heart; however, Jimmy's words always caused a lump to form in my throat whenever I received his letters.

When Jimmy attended middle school, he was usually in trouble. He greatly annoyed most of his teachers by not doing his work, causing classroom disruptions, or fighting with other students. I vividly recall Jimmy being suspended from school for walking into the girls' dressing room while girls were changing clothes, and another time for setting fire to astroturf that was rolled-up in the school's courtyard. He was suspended many times for various violations; however, Jimmy never caused me any trouble; for some reason, unbeknownst to me, Jimmy liked me and I liked him.

As Jimmy grew older, he never quite figured out how to stay out of trouble. Due to committing a violent crime while under the influence of drugs, Jimmy presently resides in the Mount Olive Correctional Center in Mount Olive, West Virginia. Two years ago, when Jimmy heard I had cancer, he wrote to me telling me how much he appreciated my kindness to him, and that he was keeping me in his prayers. Jimmy found God in prison and has been involved in Christian fellowship and Bible study while serving his sentence. He continues to write to me from time to time and recently included the following poems he had written for my family and me.

Love Him Most of All

All ye lovers of the Lord
in all things great and small,
Give him thanks and sing his praise,
but love him most of all.
While we were yet sinners hopelessly lost,
walking this world alone,
Jesus visited this wretched world
leaving his heavenly throne.
He suffered, bled, and died for us
with pain no man could bear,
Bruising the serpent's head with his heel,
he proved that God really cares.
Upon his body he bore our sins
as his innocent blood was shed,
Doing for us what we could not do,
for we were all spiritually dead.
Now we've been quickened and made alive
by the only begotten son,
As long as you've accepted Jesus as Lord
and accepted the work that he's done.
So, all ye lovers of the Lord
in all things great and small,
Remember to thank him and praise his name,
but love him most of all.
(written April 3, 2009)

The Warrior's Call to Freedom

The warrior's call to freedom
is revealed in the blood of the lamb;
It is written by the hand of God
and delivered by the great I am.
It is carried across the ages
and heard by the great and small;
It bears the message of eternal peace
for those who will answer this call.
"Take up thy cross and follow me,"
the Spirit speaks to our hearts;
These resounding words of Jesus
from within us should never part.
Down in the valley of the shadow of death,
you can hear those words ring out;
Almost as though he's standing before you,
urging you further on up to the Mount.
Today is the day to answer this call,
please don't make the Master wait;
Answer the warrior's call to freedom,
for tomorrow may be too late.
(written September 19, 2009)

Hearing from Jimmy these past few years has blessed my life in so many ways. Although Jimmy's body is confined behind the bars of prison, his soul soars as he maintains a deep and trusting faith in God, our Father. Please join me in keeping Jimmy in our prayers.

Theo Tippett

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