Death, A Realistic But Spiritual Perspective

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handling the death of a loved one well is a healthful and healing thing.  that’s why we have friends to wrap their arms around us and just be there for us, and sometimes say things to comfort us, some helpful, some not so helpful but mean well. thank God for friends.

the first major death of my life, my own father at age 35, me at age 15. there is some difference between managing death as a teenager and someone who manages death at, say age 40, 50, 60, 70, and beyond. for example it may be the first or second major death, or the 12th or 13th, a father, mother, spouse, or child.  however, it never gets any easier.

there is ample information on the internet and good books such as Kubler-Ross’, On Death and Dying, so i am not going to go through all that about stages of grief, etc. The only thing i really want to mention here is one spiritual dynamic, to wit, that death is a fact and will happen to all of us and our family members and friends and after a reasonable time period, realize that yes, it is over, and move on to a happy and fulfilled future without your loved one. oh, you say that may be a grotesque, unhealthful, and hateful thing to write, but i say unto you that when we face reality squarely and take the necessary time to understand reality, we can then learn to go forwar with out lives with the memories of our loved one, but not living daily in those memories which prohibit the future happiness.

so, if you have experienced the death of a loved one, and you probably have, whether it be in the distant past or recently, let me assure you as others have, that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life as your life is not over ’til it’s over even though your earthly relationship with you loved one is over. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine upon you both now and forevermore. amen.

“And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 20:34-36)

“And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 12:22-25)

“For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.” Paul of Tarsus (Romans 7:2)


© copyright 2014, 2020
Robert A. Haines, Chaplain Haines

In Memoriam, Rodney

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50 years ago on 5 Feb 1970, upon my return from Vietnam after serving 7 years, 3 months, and 10 days in the Air Force, I was discharged from the service. I took 3 months to relax and readjust before beginning my college career at Lake-Sumter Community College. The first day, my first class, I was sitting in English 101 being blown away by our instructor, Mr. James Rennie, a fine Scotsman and a great American. In that class was a man who also had recently returned from Vietnam and one who would become my lifelong friend and confidant over the next 50 years. Right off from the start we were able to share together our thoughts, ideas, any questions – anything that crossed our minds we were able to share. We’ve disagreed on many things in politics and religion, and other areas of life, but we agreed on more and had that human relationship that expands politics, religion, and culture in general.

Last Saturday I wrote in my weekly news article, The Chaplain’s Tent, an ode, or tribute to my friend Rodney as published on my Chaplain’s Tent Facebook page and in the Leesburg Daily Commercial – my thoughts as I thought of Rodney’s passing as follows:

“Upon the death of the 17th century French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, some friends found papers he had written in a pile and subsequently had them published under the title, Pensees, which is translated, “Thoughts”.
Many, many thoughts came into my mind since serving in the barren desert of Northern Saudi Arabia and camped outside Kuwait City following its liberation. Over the years since I continue to think about many things – things like, who am I, why am I here, and where am I going? What should I be doing with my time? Can I influence others, should I, and if so, how?
In reviewing a few thoughts of the past with the view of thinking through them again, I continue to think, what is my life all about? That is a question that readily comes to mind when one is prepared to go into combat. For me, as a chaplain, I cling to an old favorite spiritual I learned as a youngster: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain.” It is not only who I am that counts, but what I do. It is not so much our status in life that is really important, but what we do in our life that has lasting value.
Life is short. The Old Testament says that life is like a flower which blossoms but soon withers and dies. It also refers to life as like the morning dew which very soon goes away. Use your time wisely. What will you do with your time left?
Someone once said, “One never learns to really live until one faces the fact of one’s own death.” I don’t mean to sound grotesque or to dampen anyone’s joy of life. But, I want to encourage you to think about your future in terms of the reality of death.
I have lost three good friends this past year. Last week I lost one of closest friends of the past 50 years. I encourage you to live life in all it’s fullness, each day as if your last. Resolve to use it to its fullest. Make up your mind that you can do anything you set out to do if you use time wisely.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” By the grace of God, I am what I am and do what I do!” You are what you do. It is what you do for others that really counts. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is an action verb. How do you love?”

At the end of the 1998 movie, Saving Private Ryan, Pvt. Ryan, now older with a family, went to Normandy to the American cemetery to visit the grave of Captain Miller, his company officer after the invasion and as the American Army moved through France toward Germany. As he was kneeling, then standing up in front of Miller’s grave, his wife approached. He turned to her and said, “tell me I’ve lived a good life.” “What?” she responded. He repeated, “tell me I’ve lived a good life. Five men had died in order to bring Ryan back home safely and he wondered, was it worth it? Though he could never repay them for their sacrifices, he wanted to be reassured that he had lived a good life.

Jesus died for Rodney and he came home from Vietnam and lived a good life. How do I know? Because, regardless of his personality, his character and demeanor, and his experiences, He loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind, and He served others. Like all of us he was not perfect. But he knew Jesus and followed Jesus, and friends, that’s all that counts.

Take a lesson from dear ole’ Bob and his friend Rodney, love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.


© Copyright 2020
Robert A. Haines, Chaplain Haines



A Memorial Pastoral Prayer

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Draw near unto God and he will draw near unto you. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.

Our Father, and our God, we affirm that you are our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble. You are the eternal God and You are our dwelling place. You have promised to be near us when we call upon you in truth and you offer to us the assurance that beneath us are your everlasting arms.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Our help is in the Name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.

We come to You, our Father, as a people who are hurting, feeling keenly the sting of death and the loss of a loved one. We ask, that you be present with us and grant to us the comfort, the consolation, the grace, the love and the peace which You alone can give and which alone is sufficient for us in this time of our need

Eternal Father, whose love is infinite and whose peace passes all of our understanding, today we remember the words of Jesus, “My peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You, O Lord, ARE our refuge and strength, and you are a very present help in times of trouble.

Lord, help us today to turn the shadow of death into a morning. Speak to us of eternal things. Lift us above this time of distress into the light and peace of your presence through Jesus Christ our Lord.  You have been the dwelling place and home of your people in all generations. We recognize Lord, that in you is our ultimate confidence and hope.

Enable us to find in you our refuge and strength. Speak to our hearts in these moments that we share together and give us peace.

Lord, I ask a special blessing today upon the family and friends of Chris. Comfort each of them with the knowledge of your concern and nearness. Encourage each one. Give them power through your divine spirit to bear this moment of grief.

Help us to hear the words of your servant, “in every situation give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” Lord, we would not forget to say thanks for the cherished memories that will forever enrich our lives because of this man, a man of faith, strong yet humble, a man who loved others as himself. As we reflect upon our association with and our memories of Chris, help us to make our lives more dedicated, more devoted, more unselfish, that we may, through committed lives, justify in fruitful and creative work, the longer years you are giving us.

O Lord, you alone know our hearts and thoughts today. May your Holy Spirit dwell with our spirits to comfort us. Through your grace and mercy may we all find peace that only you can give.

In the words of an old Christian Hymn

“For me He waits in glory,
Seated upon His throne;
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone. . . ”

Though we cry now in bereavement, Lord, let Your spirit so be with us as to continue to comfort us, and may we be as children who know that you are our father, that you are very near and may we cling unafraid to your trusted hand. Once again Lord, and each day, and the days after, grant us comfort and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray, Amen.

Day of Silence 9-11-2011

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How will You observe the 10th anniversary of 9-11?  As for me, I will not be logging onto Facebook. I am asking all my friends to honor America and the victims of 9-11 by doing the same, observe a day of silence on Facebook by not logging on.  If everyone on Facebook does this, it will something that is not “heard” around the world and will serve as a symbol of sacrifice of something that you do routinely that will be interrupted by the memory of one of the most horrendous acts in American history.  Will you join me and others by staying silent on Facebook on September 11, 2011 in honor of those who died through no reason of their own by the cowardly act of terrorism against all freedom loving Americans?

{ my original post on 8/21/2011:  you know those moments of silence in lieu of prayers at public meetings and other events? was just thinking — what if we gave a unique “moment” of silence on FB on the 10th anniversary of 9-11? i mean, what if we all stayed off FB the entire day, Sunday 9-11-2011? that would be an attention-getter not heard around the world. just a thought, what do you think? if you agree pass it on and lets see what happens. (BH) }

‎{{ Besides i have a feeling that most of the 9-11 ceremonies will turn out to be political events. (BH)}}

Eulogy for Buford Henry Galloway

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Eulogy for Buford Henry Galloway March 2, 2011 Geneva, Alabama by Bob Haines

We are here today to honor the life of Buford Galloway —
– Mr. Buford Henry Galloway of Westville, FL passed away Saturday, February 26, 2011, in a Tallahassee hospital following an extended illness. He was 90 years old, having lived a productive life.

Buford Galloway was born September 2, 1920 in Holmes County to the late William Armphy & Charity Daisy Cotton Galloway.
He grew up in the Sweet Gum Head community, the ninth child and sixth son of fourteen.
He began school at Hurricane Creek and then entered Leonia in second grade where his sister, Celeste, taught him.
He graduated as valedictorian from Leonia High School, Holmes County, Fl. 1939

His father borrowed $65 from the high school principal and drove Buford to the University of Florida in Gainesville.  He paid $33 registration fee leaving $32 for meals until he could find work.  He finally found a job at the campus cafeteria and later worked at the poultry lab on campus.
Buford graduated from the University of Florida, in 1943, the first of his family to do so, receiving his BSA degree, Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education.
Buford volunteered and was inducted into the U.S. Army at Camp Blanding.  He was promoted to Corporal and sent to Fort Sill, OK, for Officers Candidate School, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.  Later promoted to First Lieutenant, he served for four years during WW II with service in the Philippines and post-war Japan.

After his time in the military service, he served as an educator for 32 years.
In 1946, he began teaching “on the farm training” to veterans in Poplar Springs.
Having met Inez Bates during his college years, they were married in 1947 and moved to Fort White where he continued teaching vets and began teaching Vocational Agriculture at the high school there and in Mason City while Inez taught home economics.
At Fort White, he was active in community affairs, coaching basketball, teaching Sunday School, playing the piano for church services, – (my earliest memory of him was as a very youngster in the early 50’s, in Altoona, when he was asked to play in the Altoona Baptist Church . . . ) — starting his family, and commuting to Gainesville for graduate courses.  Six years later, he earned his Masters in Agriculture and a Post Graduate Certificate in Educational Administration (the highest certificate the state issues), giving him Rank 1 status, the equivalent of a Ph.D in education.(He told me once he only needed a thesis actually to be awarded a doctorate.)

Buford was promoted to Principal serving, 1953-1956.

He served as Superintendent of Schools Columbia County 1956-1968( A Lake City Community College named a building in his honor, the B H Galloway building)
In 1968, the issue was integration.  He decided not to mislead or play the emotional game by telling people what they wanted to hear.  His position was, “I will abide by the law.”With that, he lost the election.

He then accepted the position of Assistant Superintendent in the Personnel Department, Duval Co. Schools where he served from 1968-1978 from which he retired.

In retirement, he gave back to the community many hours of volunteer service to local organizations. He was the President of Holmes County Retired Educators and was proudest of the time he was the State Legislative Chairman for the Florida Retired Educators Association and the time he spent successfully lobbying the legislature to pass the health insurance subsidy and annual cost of living adjustment for all FRS retirees.
He also chaired the Chipola Region Vocational Council, the Washington-Holmes Vocational Technical Center, the Leonia High School Alumni Association.  In addition, he served on the Board of Jobs Training Program Act, was the FREA liaison to the AARP and taught 55-Alive Drive training course.  He was a life member of NEA, FREA and State PTA.

For the last several years, Buford lived alone.  He did his own housework, drove his tractor, supervised the caring of 600 acres of pines.His favorite pastime was gardening and camellias, American holly trees, and other shrubbery for family and neighbors.

In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by eight brothers; Clifton, Cleo, Harvey, Murdock, W.A. Jr., Reo, Clyde, and Drew Galloway; two sisters, Celeste Galloway Bowdoin and Ruby Galloway Hutson.
Survivors include one daughter, Irma Guice Galloway, Tallahassee, FL; three sons, Wayne Henry Galloway of Perry, FL; Phillip Buford Galloway of Jacksonville, FL; and Ira Len Galloway of Tallahassee, FL; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; two sisters, Vallie Riddle of Geneva and Ottilia Patricia Andrews of Westville, FL; two brothers, Cyrial “Bill” Galloway of Westville, FL; two sisters-in-law, Dorothy Galloway of Tallahassee, FL and Vernell Galloway of Westville, FL; many nieces and nephews.A few personal words.

Buford Galloway was more than an uncle to me — he was a friend and confidant, an advisor and a compassionate listener, a surrogate dad and an educator — I will miss him beyond my ability to say.  I was unable to visit him while he was in the hospital but Polly assured him of my love.

I have witnessed and attempted to provide pastoral care in almost every conceivable type of situation you can imagine — from removing life support from a new born infant, allowing the baby to die in it’s mother’s arms in the nursery, to two Marines torn apart by an “accidental” explosion of a grenade — from suicides to sudden deaths from aircraft accidents — to an unexplained death after physical training — from cancer to heart attacks, and so on.  I have participated in military memorial services and civilian funerals of every type and in several cultures and individual family settings.  Most of these events were a part of my ministry, both as a chaplain and as a pastor.
Usually the Lord has always come through in providing me comfort and the words needed to express comfort to others.  In this case it ain’t easy.  For there is and will continue to be within my soul an empty feeling of loss that only God can provide relief.

When my own father died when I was just 15 years old, two uncles took it upon themselves to help.  One of them was Uncle Buford, whom I greatly admired because of his position in life as well as the head of a wonderful family.
I always made it a point to visit him when home on leave during my young days in the  Air Force.  He would take me on a campaign visit, buy me lunch at Sonny’s, write me letters when I was overseas, and always engage me in conversation about any subject when we were together. He took a liking to my family and I tried to emulate him in some ways as a father myself.  Of course, I was not the disciplinarian that he was, but I did try to inspire the kids with the idea of expanding oneself beyond what one was given in an effort to increase possibilities for becoming more than you thought possible.

Buford was a family man, a man of principles and patriotism  ( A bit of trivia – I do know he voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964. ) He was a traditionalist, although he was willing to go out on a limb as a forward and innovative thinker.
Uncle Buford was an accomplished person.  He was well-educated and experienced.  He was a gold-mind of wisdom.  He influenced my life and for that I am grateful.

What is life all about?   When one is preparing to go into combat, he or she sometimes thinks such thoughts as that one.  For me, as a chaplain, I cling to an old favorite spiritual I learned as a youngster:  “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain.”  It is not only “who” we are that counts, but “what we do.

With the family’s permission, I will leave you with three thoughts.

1. First, in order to do something, you must have the time to do it.
To illustrate the fact that we have time to do what we really want to do, I will read to you a prayer by Michel Quoist in his book, Prayers.  It is entitled:  “LORD I HAVE TIME”.

“There is always time to do what God wants us to do, but we must put ourselves completely into each moment that He offers us. `Be most careful then how you conduct yourselves: like sensible men, not like simpletons.  Use the present opportunity to the full, for these are evil days.  So do not be fools, buy try to understand what the will of the Lord is.’      [Ephesians 5:15-17]

“I went out Lord. Men were coming and going, Walking and running.
Everything was rushing:  cars, trucks, the street, the whole town. Men were rushing not to waste time. They were rushing after time, To catch up with time, To gain time.
Good-bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven’t time. I’ll come back, I can’t wait, I haven’t time. I must end this letter – I haven’t time. I’d love to help you, but I haven’t time. I can’t accept, having no time. I can’t think, I can’t read, I’m swamped, I haven’t time. I’d like to pray, but I haven’t time.
You understand, Lord, they simply haven’t the time. The child is playing, he hasn’t time right now . . . Later on . . . The schoolboy has his homework to do, he hasn’t time . . . Later on . . . The student has his courses, and so much work . . . Later on . .  The young man is at his sports, he hasn’t time . . . Later on The young married man has his new house; he has to fix it up.  He hasn’t time . . . later on . .  The grandparents have their grandchildren.  They haven’t time . . . Later on . . . They are ill, they have their treatments, they haven’t time . . . Later on . . . They are dying, they have no . . . Too late! . . . They have no more time!
And so all men run after time, Lord. They pass through life running – hurried, jostled, overburdened, frantic, and they never get there.  They haven’t time. In spite of all their efforts they’re still short of time.
Of a great deal of time. Lord, you must have made a mistake in your calculations. There is a big mistake somewhere. The hours are too short, The days are too short, Our lives are too short.
You who are beyond time, Lord, you smile to see us fighting it. And you know what you are doing. You make no mistakes in your distribution of time to men. You give each one time to do what you want him to do. But we must not lose time waste time, kill time, For time is a gift that you give us, But a perishable gift, A gift that does not keep.
Lord, I have time, I have plenty of time, All the time that you give me, The years of my life, The days of my years, The hours of my days, They are all mine. Mine to fill, quietly, calmly, But to fill completely, up to the brim, To offer them to you, that, of their insipid water, You may make a rich wine such as you made once in Cana of Galilee.
I am not asking you tonight, Lord, for time to do this and then that, But your grace to do conscientiously, in the time that you give me, what you want me to do.”

Life is short.  The Old Testament says that life is like a flower which  blossoms but soon withers and dies.  It also refers to life as like the morning dew which very soon goes away.  Use your time wisely.  What will you do with your time left?
I encourage you to live life in all it’s fullness, each day as if your last.  Resolve to use it to its fullest.  Make up your mind that you can do anything you set out to do if you use time wisely.

2.    You can solve any problem and do anything IF you are willing to take the necessary time.
We know we have time to do what we want to do.  We simply have to take the necessary time.  Dr. M. Scott Peck, in his well known book, The Road Less Traveled, (pp 27-28), illustrates this point well.  He writes:

“At the age of thirty-seven I learned how to fix things.  Prior to that almost all my attempts to make minor plumbing repairs, mend toys or assemble boxed furniture according to the accompanying hieroglyphical instruction sheet ended in confusion, failure and frustration.  Despite having managed to make it through medical school and support a family as a more or less successful executive and psychiatrist, I considered myself to be a mechanical idiot.  I was convinced I was deficient in some gene, or by curse of nature lacking some mystical quality responsible for mechanical ability.  Then one day at the end of my thirty-seventh year, while taking a spring Sunday walk, I happened upon a neighbor in the process of repairing a lawn mower.  After greeting him I remarked, `Boy, I sure admire you.  I’ve never been able to fix those kind of things or do anything like that.’  My neighbor, without a moment’s hesitation, shot back, `That’s because you don’t take the time.’  I resumed my walk, somehow disquieted by the gurulike simplicity, spontaneity and definitiveness of his response.  `You don’t suppose he could be right, do you?’ I asked myself.  Somehow it registered, and the next time the opportunity presented itself to make a minor repair I was able to remind myself to take my time.  The parking brake was stuck on a patient’s car, and she knew that there was something one could do under the dashboard to release it, but she didn’t know what.  I lay down on the floor below the front seat of her car.  Then I took the time to make myself comfortable.  Once I was comfortable, I then took the time to look at the situation.  I looked for several minutes.  At first all I saw was a confusing jumble of wires and tubes and rods, whose meaning I did not know.  But gradually, in no hurry, I was able to focus my sight on the brake apparatus and trace its course.  And then it became clear to me that there was a little latch preventing the brake from being released.  I slowly studied this latch until it became clear to me that if I were to push it upward with the tip of my finger it would move easily and would release the brake.  And so I did this.  One single motion, one ounce of pressure from a fingertip, and the problem was solved.  I was a master mechanic! Actually, I don’t begin to have the knowledge or the time to gain the knowledge to be able to fix most mechanical failures, given the fact that I choose to concentrate time on nonmechanical matters.  So I still usually go running to the nearest repairman.  But I now know that this is a choice I make, and I am not cursed or genetically defective or otherwise incapacitated or impotent.  And I know that I and anyone else who is not mentally defective can solve any problem if we are willing to take the time. The issue is important, because many people simply do not take the time necessary to solve many of life’s intellectual, social or spiritual problems . . . ”

The Point is, you and I can do almost anything we want to do, including, serving God & humanity IF we choose to take the time.

3.     It is not my status, social or professional success in life that is really important.
Jesus said that his followers were the “light of the world.”  Being light means that it is more important to provide ministry as the light than to be some one based on status or position.  Some excerpts from John Claypool’s, The Preaching Event (pp 68ff) says it better than I.  He writes:

“I can still recall going to state and national conventions . . . and coming home feeling drained and unclean, because most of the conversation in the hotel rooms and the halls was characterized either by envy of those who were doing well or scarcely concealed delight for those who were doing poorly.  For did that not mean that someone was about to fall, and would thus create an opening higher up the ladder? . . . Do you have any idea how much energy it takes always to have to succeed and come out number one?  I was also beginning to sense how lonely and isolated this way of living leaves one.  How can you really relate openly and warmly to persons when you realize that at a deeper level you are competing with them and trying to outdo them? . . . There has got to be a better way to live than this.  There has got to be a more authentic form of well-being than this relentless need to compete and out-achieve . . . . . . [a speaker who was the personnel manager of a national firm remarked that] . . . the first thing he tried to determine about a new employee was whether that individual was intent on `being something’ or on `doing something.’ . . . . . . I thought of the times I had gone to speak at a meeting and had sat down after my talk thinking, on one level, `I hope I did what the people who invited me wanted.’  But at a deeper lever I would be asking, `I wonder if they were impressed.  Perhaps there is someone here with influence who will remember the name of this young comer, and tonight will be a stepping stone up the ladder of success.’ I remembered the times that I had not really been able to reach out and identify with another’s need because my own need to be approved was so overwhelming . . . . . . one morning, with all the courage that I could muster, I did something that I had never done before.  I took off my mask . . .  . . . We need to hear the gospel down in our guts.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, `You are the light of the world.’  He does not say, `You have got to be number one in order to get light,’ or `You must out-achieve everybody else in order to earn light.’  He says simply, `You are light.’ . . .  . . . the truth was – I did have worth in me from the beginning.  And it was worth that resulted not from what I had to make of myself, but rather from what God had made of me . . .  . . . the secret of life is not getting something outside inside by achieving and competing.  It is, rather, getting what is already inside outside by acceptance and self-giving . . .  . . . I experienced transformation at a level of doing . . . that sharing out of the fullness that was already in me by the grace of creation was far more redemptive than needing to get something from people through competition . . . By the grace of God, I am what I am and do what I do! . . . ”

Your status and position in life will not ultimately give you real meaning or value.  In God’s eyes, you are not what you are by status & position.  You are what you do. It is what you do for others that really counts.

You can all all the property, toys, and money you can accumulate, but miss out on the most important thing of all —

– Go out into the world & do two things in the time you have on earth:
(1) Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and soul and mind;
(2) Love your neighbor as yourself.

(quick exercise – stand up – stretch – pat yourself on the back – that’s Uncle Buford and God confirming you – that you ARE worthy – now do what you can for God and for others – that would make him more proud of you.

{There are some differences from the printed version and the actual delivery}