th-11Have you seen the video clip posted by Jim Wallace of Sojourners Magazine from the new series on the History Channel, ‘The Bible’? In one scene Jesus sees Peter out on the Sea of Galilee, and boldly wades out into the water to Peter’s fishing boat. Peter is stunned and asks Jesus what is he is doing!  Jesus responds by asking Peter to help him into his boat. And, then tells him to cast his net into the sea again to catch some fish. Peter responds rather cynically and says to Jesus there are no fish here today. But Jesus persists and Peter decides to throw his net back in the water. The net is filled with fish! This happened over and over again. And soon, Peter’s boat is filled with the fish he has caught.

In astonishment, Peter asks Jesus how this happened? Jesus responds to Peter with this invitation–come with me and I will make you a fisher of men. A fisher of men? Peter then asks a great question, “What are we going to do?” Jesus answers, “Change the world.”

Change the world! That began to happen as the early followers of Christ practiced radical hospitality. Mortimer Arias tells us that the remarkable explosion of Christianity in the first century was due not only to the proclamation of the gospel, but to the extraordinary quality of Christian hospitality. Can you think of a better way to make people feel loved and valued? All of us desire and need to feel accepted.

Trevor Hudson says, “Everyone of us hurt in some way or another. Some of us are caught up in broken relationships. Others struggle with addictions or compulsions of one kind or another. We all sit next to a pool of tears. Most profoundly, we all want to be whole and holy.”

The deepest way we can open our lives to the love of Jesus is to become honest about who we are. To paraphrase what Trevor Hudson days, “We are all recovering sinners. Those of us in the Christian community are invited to take our halos off and let God love us with all our imperfections. We experience freedom and joy when we discover we do not have to pretend to be perfect. Jim Somerville likes to say, ‘Jesus loves us just like we are and there is nothing we can do about it!” Now that is really good news!

You may have noticed that our little world in Richmond, Virginia, is changing. We have the opportunity to practice hospitality to others like never before. Immigrants and refugees have come to Richmond seeking a future with hope. Students come here from around the world to attend our universities. In Richmond you can meet just about anyone from any country in the world. This is a time to keep or eyes wide-open! People all around us are struggling with life and in need of a loving community. For those of us in the Christian community, this is an opportune time to love the people Jesus loves. Practicing hospitality may be the best way to show our love for others. Let’s make room in our lives for people who may seem different from us. They are our brothers and sisters and are created and loved by God. The Apostle Peter said it best— our job is to love and bless those around us (paraphrase from 1 Peter 3)!

Beginning April 7 thru May 5 we are offering the School of Radical Hospitality. We want to encourage and help one another practice loving people like Jesus did. You are invited you to ‘change the world’ beginning right here in Richmond! Our pastor, Jim Somerville, continually reminds us of mission, “We are trying to bring the kingdom of heaven to Richmond, Virginia.” There must be at least a thousand way to do that! Loving people through the practice of radical hospitality can be a journey of personal transformation! Come join us!

Schedule of Classes for the School of Radical Hospitality:

Sunday, April 7: Conversion of Life: Receiving God’s Love

Sunday, April 14: Hearts Overflowing with Love: Benedict’s Way of Love

Sunday, April 21: Hospitality in the Home, in the Marketplace, in Church, to the Earth

Sunday, April 28: Hospitality, Love, Practicing Forgiveness

Sunday, May 5: Bonus session: Celebration Dinner & “Developing a Rule of Life”

Resources

Benedict’s Way: Radical Hospitality, cost $12 (available now!)

Hospitality homework assignments

Special Guests

Great Refreshments!

 

Posted by: Ralph Starling | January 27, 2013

Incredible India!

What do you think of when you think of India?

Here are some facts you may not know: India is home to more than 1.2 billion people, and is the world’s largest democracy. Over the past decade, with the influx of new IMG_1613 money  and new opportunities, India has become a rising global powerhouse. English is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication. Hindi is the most widely spoken language and is the spoken tongue of 41% of the population. There are 14 other official languages. As to religion, 80% are Hindu, 13% are Muslim, 2% are Christian, and 1% are Sikh. It is estimated that India is home to a third of the world’s poor. It is also estimated that 400,000 to 800,000 children live on the city streets of India.

Last November I had the opportunity to travel to Kottayam, India, to teach a class on spiritual formation at the India Baptist Theological Seminary. It was an enlightening three weeks. I loved being with the students in the classroom. There was great interaction and the students treasure the opportunity to learn. Although the students had a challenge trying to understand my English (Southern English) they were patient and eventually picked up my south Georgia accent. One of my favorite daily experiences was ‘afternoon tea’  at 3 p.m. It was a great opportunity to chat with students and faculty. I love their delicious hot tea! In addition to my daily classes I was invited to visit the Precious Children’s Orphanage just down the street from the seminary. It is home to about 135 children and is one of the most loving and well-run orphanages in India. The staff cares for the children and the children are overflowing with love! These children know very well the value of being able to live at the orphanage where they have an opportunity for a great education. If only the other children of India could be so lucky!

The Precious Children’s Orphanage and the India Baptist Theological Seminary) happened because of the vision and faith of Dr. Kunjumon Chacko, his staff, and some loving Christ-followers from Baptist churches in Virginia, who continue to invest their time, energy, and money in helping bring a little bit of the kingdom of heaven to seminary students and children in a far away place named Kottayam, India. When I reflect back on my experience in India I think of the word ‘incredible’. I met some of the most loving people who are living out the spirit of Christ in their corner of the world.

I am going back!

Cheers!

Ralph Starling

Posted by: Ralph Starling | October 12, 2012

My Summer 2012: Alena Glembova

I spent this past summer as a ministry intern at Richmond’s First Baptist Church.

It was a wonderful time and an extraordinary experience and I don’t regret a second of it. I feel that the decision to go to Richmond was one of the very best I have ever made.

At the beginning of Spring I wrote Ralph by email saying that the summer break is going to be boring since I had no plans at all and that I would love to go to Richmond to do something meaningful. Surprisingly, Ralph replied within the next couple of hours, which to me after spending 3 months with him, seems now as a little miracle! It was on! Even though I had no idea what I was going to do there, I was desperate to be there. Since FBC has had a partnership with the church I grew up in for many years, I had already met Ralph and many others before. Therefore, this whole trip idea felt as if I was going to visit my family.

And, in a few days, there I was Richmond, Virginia. It all happened so fast! And a thanks to Mark and Carrie Larson who provided me with a home for three months. It all felt so smooth and homelike. It was absolute bliss.

Spending everyday with Ralph helped me to understand what ‘ministry’ really means. We had been planning trips for international students and visiting families from the church. Since I come from a very small town in Slovakia, the opportunity to meet people of different religions or different races from all over the world has been extremely enriching. I have learned a lot about many other countries but most importantly I have the opportunity to make friends with them.

I soon forgot about the cultural differences with my new international friends, but instead, I discovered how beautiful and good they are. Being accepted by them made me feel like a part of big international family in Richmond.

I am very thankful to Ralph as well as FBC for providing space and opportunities for young students to make new friendships and mutual experiences which surely each one of us will remember for the rest of our lives.

At the beginning of summer a very wise man told me one incredible thing: “See Christ in everyone and be Christ to everyone.”  I will remember this until the end of my days. It gives me a completely new perspective of life. It is a life without prejudices and meaningless fights.

The students I spent the summer with came from different corners of the world and different religions. But, we felt as equals, no prejudice. We just loved each other.

I wish I could mention all my friends I have met while in Richmond, but it would be a huge list. I hope that I will have the opportunity to meet my international family and share this  beautiful experience again!

Alena Glembova

Ruzomberok, Slovakia

Posted by: Ralph Starling | July 10, 2012

’24 Hours Together!’

Three weeks ago I invited several VCU International students to join me on a 24-hour retreat at Richmond Hill Retreat Center located in Church Hill overlooking historic Shockoe Bottom and the city of Richmond. The students had just finished their busy semester and I thought a brief pause might be refreshing for them. We had students from China, South Korea, Algeria, Slovakia, and Peru. We began our retreat at 4 p.m. Friday evening with a time of contemplation and reflection followed by a wonderful dinner.  Later that evening I showed them a video, Everyday Creativity, by Dewitt Jones, a photographer for National Geographic. In his video, Jones shares his experiences and lessons learned while trying to tap into his own creative potential. He says that much of what we call ‘creative thinking’ really results from taking a fresh look–one that is deeper and more determined–at the mundane experiences of everyday life. In other words, creativity is looking at the ordinary and seeing the…extraordinary. Following the video we discussed how every act can be a creative one, and that creativity is a matter of perspective. Whether a person is a college student or in the work force we all have to learn to reframe problems into opportunities. We must not be afraid to make mistakes.

Saturday morning began with a time of contemplation followed by breakfast. After breakfast we gathered for our second session together. I called this session ‘Holy Listening’. Most people love talking but there are very few good listeners. I remember taking classes in college and seminary on public speaking. I never saw a course offered on ‘good listening’. And yet, most of the people we love and value in our lives have been good listeners. When we share our thoughts and hearts with someone who listens we begin to feel loved and valued. Following some one-on-one exercises in the practice of listening we took a break and enjoyed walking in the beautiful garden at Richmond Hill and spending time in the library or in our rooms.

At noon on Saturday we gathered in the chapel for a time of meditation followed by prayers for the poor, the city leaders of Richmond, and prayers for racial reconciliation in the city. We then gathered for lunch, and shared our last meal together.

After lunch we gathered outside to walk the labyrinth, also known as the Jerusalem Mile, a duplicate at Richmond Hill used in the Middle Ages for meditation and prayer by pilgrims who could not make the long journey to the Holy City.

Our time together during the 24-hour retreat had come to a close. We slowed down enough to reflect on our lives, our creativity, and dreams. We took time to really listen to one another. We shared great meals and journeyed the labyrinth together. We had become community. Isn’t it amazing what one can do in 24 hours? We felt refreshed and ready to return out daily routine with a little more energy and joy!

Posted by: Ralph Starling | May 30, 2012

Quotes From Thomas Merton

While on vacation during this past Memorial day weekend, I picked up a copy of Thomas Merton’s book, ‘Contemplative Prayer’, published back in 1969. You may know that Merton was a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethsemane in rural Kentucky. The Trappist monastic life is the most contemplative and ascetic in the Roman Catholic Monastic order. in his brief life Merton wrote over 70 books. I have listed below a few of my favorite Merton quotes from a variety of his books and interviews.

“Silence like the sunlight will illuminate you in God and will deliver you from the phantoms of ignorance. Silence will unite you to God himself…More than all things love silence: it brings you a fruit that tongue cannot describe.”

“If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world. Then share your peace with everyone, and everyone will be at peace.”

“Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.”

“The gate of Heaven is everywhere.”

“The least learning is done in the classroom.”

“If you learned only to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.”

“The danger of education, I have found, is that it so easily confuses means with ends. Worse than that, it quite easily forgets both and devotes itself merely to the mass production of uneducated graduates—people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade which they and their contemporaries have conspired to call ‘life’.”

“In the woods I can think of nothing except God.”

“If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?”

Cheers!

Ralph

Posted by: Ralph Starling | March 7, 2012

The Way of Forgiveness

Have you ever found yourself in need of forgiveness? I have! And, so have many other people. Every Monday evening in my home about 25 people arrive for a discussion on the topic of ‘forgiveness’. During our two-hour session we have a time for conversation and personal sharing. Some of the sharing is very personal and tender. Sometimes tears run down the cheeks of participants. The wounds of a broken heart can go very deep. Most of us wish we could forgive a parent, a sibling, and ex-spouse, or a co-worker. Others express the need to forgive themselves for doing something they regret or something they wish they had done better. All of us have done things we regret or wish we had done better. Confessing our mistakes can be difficult. We may have feelings of shame or humiliation.

There is a wonderful story found in an ancient document from the first century about a son who went to his father and demanded his share of his inheritance. His father gave him his share of the money and the young son left home. Time passed and eventually the son squandered all his money on choices that were not wise. Finally, after losing all his money he found himself in bankruptcy. He was devasted both emotionally and spiritually. Ironically, it was at this point that he began to get some clarity over his situation. He came to his senses. He decided that the pain of staying the same was greater than the pain of changing. So, with a new sense of humility he traveled back home to ask his father for forgiveness. He was hoping his father would be kind enough to let him work as a yardman or a housekeeper. The story says that the father saw the young man from a distance returning home. So, he ran to him with a joyful welcome and a big hug. The father said, “I thought you were lost but now you are found! Let’s celebrate your return and have a party!” Notice that there was no condemnation from the father, no retribution, no “I told you so!” Their relationship was restored and healing happened between the father and the son.

There is great benefit in forgiving others and ourselves. It releases us from carrying the corrosive effect of anger and bitterness in our hearts.  Forgiveness empowers us to live life fully alive! Robert Muller, former assistant secretary-general of the United States, understood this when he wrote these words for International Forgiveness Week:

“Be the first to forgive…

For by forgiving

You become the master of fate

The fashioner of life

The doer of miracles.”

I like to think that father in the story is like our Heavenly Father, who loves us just like we are and always has open arms to receive us no matter what mistakes we have made. Flora Slosson Wuellner said it best in response to this question, “How is forgiveness possible? Forgiveness exists already—now and eternally. We do not create it; we enter it.”   

May you be empowered and free by practicing forgiveness!

Grace to you!

Ralph Starling

(The Gospel According to Luke 15:11-32)

Posted by: Ralph Starling | November 1, 2011

Are you having a Dee dah day?

For the last several months I have been experiencing a lot more Dee dah days! I feel more joyful now than perhaps at anytime in my ministry. I love what I do and I love the people I work with. Everyday really does feel like a gift. I feel more joy in my life and a deep gratitude for my friends, my family, and the ministry I have.

I first came across the phrase ‘dee dah day’ from reading John Ortberg’s book, ‘The Life You Always Wanted’. In one of his chapters, Ortberg writes about the time he was giving a bath to his children, all three of them in the tub at one time. One of his children, his youngest girl, got out of the tub and ran around and around in circles singing, ‘Dee dah day, Dee dah day”. Ortberg says her dancing was an expression of her great joy. She was so happy she couldn’t hold it in any longer. So, she burst into song and dance to release her joy. She was celebrating life.  But, Ortberg confesses that he was unable to celebrate with her. Bathing his kids was just something he was trying to get through. He looked at it as something that needed to be done but wasted precious time and delayed him from doing other important things. In other words, he was unable to be fully present to his daughter and celebrate with her in her moment of joy.

I think about how many times that has happened in my own life. Preoccupation with self can rob us of opportunities for joy. Do you know any people around you that are bored? Sure you do!  Walker Percy has said it well, boredom is “self stuffed with the self.” People who are joyful are seldom bored. They see possibilities for life and hope in every situation. My guess is that joy must be at the very heart of our Creator. And, if we miss joy in this short life we have, then we will miss living life fully alive.

A couple of weeks ago I had a Dee dah day! My dear friend and fellow minister, Steve Blanchard and his sweet wife, Susan, adopted two Chinese babies a few years ago. Their youngest daughter, Menlee, who now attends preschool at our church invited me to be her guest at preschool for Hero Day. Wow! I was so excited! I always wanted to be a hero!  The fact that I was her hero for that day was exhilarating! (Thanks to Steve and Susan for saying good things about me to their daughters)! I quickly posted the photo of Menlee and myself on Facebook last week. That day at preschool with Menlee was a ‘Dee dah day’ for me! Actually, I have been having a lot of ‘Dee dah days’ lately. Whether taking some of our new American children from Nepal for ice cream at Chick-fil- et, or going trick or treating on Halloween with our International students at VCU, or just having lunch with some of our newly Divorce Recovery participants, I am having some of the best and most joyful times in my life.

I think the possibility for having Dee dah days are all around us. Doesn’t seem strange that the people often closest to suffering seem to have the most joy!

May you have a Dee dah day real soon!

Dee dah day, Dee dah day, Dee dah day!

Ralph Starling

Posted by: Ralph Starling | October 20, 2011

Hope Within Darkness

Last week I had the sad occasion to perform a funeral for a lovely young lady that gave up on life to soon. She was known for her enthusiasm for life and bubbly personality. Her family and friends said of her that she never met a stranger! And yet, behind her winsome personality and zest for life was a deep feeling of despair. She was struggling with a messy separation and divorce and had finally reached the point of letting hope go. For those of us at her graveside it was an emotionally difficult experience to process, especially as we witnessed her dear mother burying her only beloved child. It was a dark day. All who knew and loved her were seeking some word of hope or ray of light within the darkness of that moment.

How easy it is to feel on top of the world somedays, and, then, to suddenly find ourselves at the bottom of a dung heap a few days later. It happens to good people everyday all around us. It may even be happening to you right now.

At Richmond’s First Baptist Church we are currently hosting our Fall Divorce Recovery Workshop with approximately 120 participants who now find themselves walking through ‘the valley of the shadow of death’. Overwhelmed by grief and loss of hope these participants are seeking to find ways to begin again. It is not easy journey when your relationship crashes and you are trying to sort out exactly what happened. In addition, some of the people you hoped you could count in your time of despair have left the neighborhood. Only God knows why? But, it is during these times of abandonment and nakedness that courage can be borne anew. Part of becoming stronger is the ability to forgive oneself  as well as the other person.  There is a saying in our Divorce Recovery Workshop from Jim Smoke, author of Growing through Divorce, “In divorce you always get custody of yourself.” Learning to take responsibility for one’s own failures and shortcomings is one of the keys to emotional and spiritual well-being. It requires courage to admit your failures and acknowledge one’s own shame that often binds you.

One of the many reasons I am not an atheist, as popular as that belief may be today, is because of the person of Jesus. People may not like some Christians, and maybe even for good reasons. But they can hardly find any fault with Jesus. The more I become aware of the beliefs of other religious systems, the more I love and value the way Jesus related to all kinds of people. If one is able to strip away some of the sloppy agape that is dished out by some in our Christian religious culture, one might be surprised to discover the freshness and radical love of God through Christ. Recently, Franciscan priest and writer, Richard Rohr, captured a sense of hope for me in one of his daily devotionals:

“Christians indeed have a strange image of God: a naked , bleeding man, dying on a cross. It is not what you would think the image of God could be or should be. Is God eccentric here, or is it we who have not diagnosed the human situation correctly?

Jesus receives our hatred and does not return it. He suffers and does not make the other suffer. He does not first look at changing others, but pays the price of change within himself. He absorbs the mystery of human sin rather than passing it on. He does not use his suffering and death as power over others to punish them, but as power over others to transform them. He includes and forgives the sinner instead of hating him, which would only continue the pattern of hate. Amazing that people cannot see that! It is interesting that Jesus identifies forgiveness with breathing (John 20:22-23), the one thing that you have done constantly since you were born and until you die. He says forgiveness is like breathing. Forgiveness is not apparently something God does; it is who God is. God can do no other.”

—adapted from Hope Against Darkness, by Richard Rohr

Perhaps if this young lady had been able to find her way to our Divorce Recovery Workshop or some other support group  the outcome of her life might have been different. She might have discovered a future with hope. During last week’s funeral service one of her friends stood up and asked what lessons can we learn from this tragic loss of our dear friend? The response from the back of the room, “Maybe after this service today we should go home and call someone who needs to know that they are loved and valued!” That would be one good way we could honor the memory of our dear friend.

Is there someone who needs to hear from you today?

Grace and forgiveness always,

Ralph Starling

Posted by: Ralph Starling | August 25, 2011

My dog, Baby

When I returned home from my vacation in California last week I discovered that my dog, Baby, was not doing well. She has been losing weight and had lost her appetite. I took her to the emergency veternarian clinic in Careytown the next day. They checked her out and her vital signs were normal. But they had no idea what was wrong with her. They offered to do more tests on her. I asked them, “How much is this going to cost?” “About $500,” the doctor answered. I paused and then replied, “I don’t think I can afford that.” I thought to myself, “I have already spent $200 in the last few minutes here. I  could spend thousands of dollars trying to find out what is going on with Baby and still there would be no guarantee that her health would be restored. After all, she is almost 12 years old now. That is getting old for a dog.”  So, I took Baby back to the car returned home where she could rest as I pondered what to do next. I was hoping for some kind of miracle.

For the next several days Baby continued to get weaker. I tried to feed her soft food like rice and chicken, but she ate very little of it. When I tried to feed her by forcing food into her mouth she would just turn her head away from me. After church last Sunday I returned home just in time. Baby was in the back yard sprawled out on all four legs. She was struggling and  gasping for breath. I knew the end of her life was near. I reached down and picked her up and brought her inside my home. I rubbed her stomach and put water on her tongue. About 30 minutes later she took her last breath. She became very still. I knew life had finally departed from her body. Her frail little body had finally given up. I cried.

Baby and I shared some great years together. I first saw her as she was running wild in the sleepy little town of Marion, Alabama. She looked to have been about one-year old then and must have been abandoned by her owner. For several days I tried to get close to her! But she was fearful. And, she was wild and fast! But, I could tell she had a gentleness to her that made me want to hold her. Finally, after three days of pursuit I managed to catch her by enticing her with food. A few days later she became a Virginian.

Now, I am flooded with memories of Baby. I remember just days before my father died I picked up Baby and sat her up on the bed next to my Dad. My Dad immediately awakened. He loved Baby. When he saw Baby his face lighted up, and he reached over  and began petting her. Baby gave him great joy during his final days of life.  Last May I took Baby on her first ministerial staff retreat. It was there that she experienced her first boat ride! She had never been in a boat before and was a little apprehensive at first. But, the ministerial staff gave her special attention and soon she began feeling right at home on the boat as we cross the lake. She was so happy!

Watching Baby’s life depart from her body reminds me once again how fleeting life is for all of us. In times like these I fall back on the affirmation that there is a loving Creator who has a design and purpose for all of us and all living creatures. Death is part of that design. And, I like to imagine, as the Apostle Paul did, that some day our loving and good Creator will reconcile the whole creation to Himself. I believe God loves and values all His creation. I like to believe that someday He will redeem it (Romans 8).

Now my home seems empty and I feel a her absence, especially at night. There is no Baby to feed and pet in the morning. There is no Baby to walk with in the neighborhood. There is no Baby to sit with on the sofa in the evening.

As I stood over her grave last night I thought about how easy it is for us to become emotionally attached to our pets. Call me crazy, but I like to think that our pets, like Baby, and all of God’s creatures will ultimately end up where they began—with their loving Creator. I believe Baby is loved and valued by her Creator. I hope she felt loved and valued by me.

Love and Grace to everything,

Ralph

Posted by: Ralph Starling | July 22, 2011

One of God’s Favorites!

Today was my day off. I usually try to take Fridays off, at least sometimes. It was noontime and I decided to make a quick stop by the church to pick up my mail. I was in and out of the building in a minute. Just as I was about to get in my car a young man (who looked like he had been sleeping in his clothes) approached me on the street and asked if he could take a shower at the church. He said, “I haven’t had a shower in several days.”  “Jordan is my name,” he said, “and I am from Maine.” “Jordan,” I responded, “the shower facilty is closed today. But if you walk around to the side entrance of the church there will be a lady at the front desk who can provide you information about showers and clean clothes.” I gave him my business card, he thanked me and went on his way. I got in my car and drove away, thankful to be back in my air-conditioned car. I drove about two blocks with Jordan still on my mind. I wondered about his life, what his childhood was like, and the things that may have brought him to his current situation.

Then, I made a u-turn and drove back to the church. Luckily, I caught Jordan just as he was leaving the church with a community ministry brochure in his hand. I pulled up beside him and asked, “Did you get the information you needed about a shower and clothes?”  “Yes,” he said. “I will be back here at 10 a.m. in the morning.” “Great!” I said. And asked, “So, where are you headed now?”  “Nowhere,” Jordan responded. “Just walking.” “Have you had lunch?” I asked. “Nope, he responded. “Would you like to have lunch?” I responded. “Sure, and he hopped in my car! I took him to one of my favorite places—Bandito’s Mexican Restaurant.

After spending an hour together at lunch I learned much more about Jordan. Jordan is 21 years old and loves organic food. He hopes to have a garden someday. He graduated from high school and is a certified electrician. He loves to read books on psycology and especially enjoys reading the works of Carl Jung. During his childhhod he was physically abused and has spent many years in a community home. I felt some sadness from Jordan as he shared about some of his family relationships. For the last several years Jordan has been walking. He has traveled all over the United States and as far west as Seattle. Jordan says he feels free. He sleeps wherever he can and seems to enjoy his life of traveling by foot. He says some people call him a hobo.  But Jordan doesn’t mind. He says he is on a mission—to love everyone he meets. So, Jordan keeps walking and meeting people. Who knows where he will show up next? Or, who might be his next new friend? It happened to me today. It might be you next week!

Several months ago our Pastor, Jim Somerville, and I were riding in a car together when he noticed a homeless man walking down the street (perhaps one of the many people dependent on our church for food and clothing). Jim pointed to the man and said, “Look Ralph! There goes one of God’s favorite people.”  Yes, indeed. He loves all His children. I bet you are one of His favorites, too!

May grace happen to you!

Ralph Starling

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