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About Karen Pimpo

After growing up in the greater Chicago area, Karen Pimpo adopted Grand Rapids, Michigan, as her home. She works in project management in the world of marketing communications, helping for-profit and nonprofit organizations tell their stories in a compelling way. Karen is a contributing author to YMI (ymi.today), a ministry of Our Daily Bread Ministries, and a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus. She’s a big fan of second breakfast, walks through the woods, and discovering new music.

Prayer Matters

By |2024-05-03T02:33:09-04:00May 3rd, 2024|

“Prayers for an upcoming brain scan.” “That my kids would come back to church.” “Comfort for Dave, who lost his wife.” Our card ministry team receives a weekly list of prayer requests like these so we can pray and send each person a handwritten note. The requests are overwhelming, and our efforts can feel small and unnoticed. That changed after I received a heartfelt thank-you card from the recently bereaved husband, with a copy of his beloved wife’s obituary. I realized anew that prayer matters.

Jesus modeled that we should pray earnestly, often, and with hopeful faith. His time on earth was limited, but He prioritized getting away by Himself to pray (Mark 1:35; 6:46; 14:32).

Hundreds of year earlier, the Israelite king Hezekiah learned this lesson too. He was told that an illness would soon take his life (2 Kings 20:1). In distress and weeping bitterly, Hezekiah “turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord” (vv. 2-3). In this instance, God’s response was immediate. He healed Hezekiah’s sickness, added fifteen years to his life, and promised to rescue the kingdom from an adversary (vv. 5-6). God answered his prayer not because Hezekiah was living a good life, but “for [His] own honor and the sake of [His] servant David” (v. 6 nlt). We may not always receive what we ask for, but we can be sure that God is working in and through every prayer.

Community in Christ

By |2024-04-22T02:33:13-04:00April 22nd, 2024|

“I knew that the only way to succeed was to forget about home and my wife, son, and daughter,” said Jordon. “I’ve found I can’t do that. They’re woven into the fabric of my heart and soul.” Alone in a remote area, Jordon was participating in a reality show where contestants are asked to survive outdoors with minimal supplies for as long as possible. What forced him to forfeit was not the grizzly bears, freezing temperatures, injury, or hunger, but an overwhelming loneliness and desire to be with his family.

We might have all the survival skills necessary for the wilderness, but separating ourselves from community is a sure way to fail. The wise author of Ecclesiastes said, “Two are better than one, because… one can help the other up” (4:9-10). Christ-honoring community, even with all of its messiness, is essential to our thriving. We don’t stand a chance against the trials of this world if we try to tackle them on our own. Someone who toils alone, toils in vain (v. 8). Without community, we’re more susceptible to danger (vv. 11-12). Unlike a single thread, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (v. 12). The gift of a loving, Christ-focused community is one that not only provides encouragement but also gives us strength to thrive despite challenging situations. We need each other.

Clothed in Christ

By |2024-04-09T02:33:09-04:00April 9th, 2024|

I was so excited to put on my new glasses for the first time, but after just a few hours I wanted to throw them away. My eyes ached and head throbbed from adjusting to the new prescription. My ears were sore from the unfamiliar frames. The next day I groaned when I remembered I had to wear them. I had to repeatedly choose to use my glasses each day in order for my body to adjust. It took several weeks, but after that, I hardly noticed I was wearing them.

Putting on something new requires an adjustment, but over time we grow into it, and it suits us better. We may even see things we didn’t see before. In Romans 13, the apostle Paul instructed Christ followers to “put on the armor of light” (v. 12) and practice right living. They had already believed in Jesus, but it seems they had fallen into “slumber” and become more complacent (v. 11). They needed to “wake up” and take action, behave decently and let go of all sin. Paul encouraged them to be clothed with Jesus and become more like Him in their thoughts and deeds (v. 14).

We don’t begin to reflect the loving, gentle, kind, grace-filled, and faithful ways of Jesus overnight. It’s a long process of choosing to “put on the armor of light” every day, even when we don’t want to because it’s uncomfortable. Over time, He changes us for the better.

Motivated by Love

By |2024-02-14T01:33:34-05:00February 14th, 2024|

Jim and Laneeda were college sweethearts. They got married and life was happy for many years. Then Laneeda began to act strangely, getting lost and forgetting appointments. She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at forty-seven. After a decade of serving as her primary caregiver, Jim was able to say, “Alzheimer’s has given me the opportunity to love and serve my wife in ways that were unimaginable when she said, ‘I do.’ ”

While explaining the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul wrote extensively on the virtue of love (1 Corinthians 13). He contrasted rote acts of service with those overflowing from a loving heart. Powerful speaking is good, Paul wrote, but without love it is like a meaningless noise (v. 1). “If I . . . give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (v. 3). Paul ultimately said, “the greatest [gift] is love” (v. 13).

Jim’s understanding of love and service deepened as he cared for his wife. Only a deep and abiding love could give him the strength to support her every day. Ultimately, the only place we see this sacrificial love modeled perfectly is in God’s love for us, which caused Him to send Jesus to die for our sins (John 3:16). That act of sacrifice, motivated by love, has changed our world forever.

Jesus Our King

By |2024-01-30T01:33:14-05:00January 30th, 2024|

While drilling for oil in one of the sunniest and driest countries in the world, teams were shocked to uncover a huge underground system of water. So, in 1983 the “great man-made river” project was begun, placing a system of pipes to carry the high-quality fresh water to cities where it was sorely needed. A plaque near the project’s inception states, “From here flows the artery of life.”

The prophet Isaiah used the image of water in a desert to describe a future righteous king (Isaiah 32). As kings and rulers reigned with justice and righteousness, they would be like “streams of water in the desert, and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land” (v. 2). Some rulers choose to take, instead of give. The mark of a God-honoring leader, however, is someone who brings shelter, refuge, refreshment, and protection. Isaiah said the fruit of God’s righteousness is peace for His people, “its effect will be quietness and confidence forever” (v. 17).

Isaiah’s words of hope would later find fullness of meaning in Jesus, who “himself will come down from heaven . . . and we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). “The great man-made river” is just that—made by human hands. Someday that water reservoir will be depleted. But our righteous King brings refreshment and water of life that will never run dry.

The Righteous City

By |2023-12-31T01:33:04-05:00December 31st, 2023|

On New Year’s Eve 2000, officials in Detroit carefully opened a hundred-year-old time capsule. Nestled inside the copper box were hopeful predictions from some city leaders who expressed visions of prosperity and technology. The mayor’s message, however, offered a different approach. He wrote, “May we be permitted to express one hope superior to all others . . . [that] you may realize as a nation, people, and city, you have grown in righteousness, for it is this that exalts a nation.”

More than success, happiness, or peace, the mayor wished that future citizens would grow in what it means to be truly just and upright. Perhaps he took his cue from Jesus, who blessed those who long for God’s righteousness (Matthew 5:6). But it’s easy to get discouraged when we consider God’s perfect standard. Even with a century of striving, we would still fall short.

Praise God that we don’t have to rely solely on our own effort to grow. The author of Hebrews said it this way: “May the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:20–21). We who are in Christ are made holy by his blood the moment we believe in Him (v. 12), but He actively grows the fruit of righteousness in our hearts throughout a lifetime. We will often stumble on the journey, yet still we look forward to “the city that is to come” where God’s righteousness will reign (v. 14).

Jesus’ Ultimate Victory

By |2023-11-09T01:33:05-05:00November 9th, 2023|

In the midst of some military camps across Europe during World War II, an unusual type of supply was air-dropped for homesick soldiers—upright pianos. These instruments were specially manufactured to contain only ten percent of the normal amount of metal, and they received special water-resistant glue and anti-insect treatments. The pianos were rugged and simple, without frills, but provided hours of spirit-lifting entertainment for soldiers who gathered around to sing familiar songs of home.

Singing—especially songs of praise—is one way that believers in Jesus can find peace in the battle too. King Jehoshaphat found this to be true when he faced vast invading armies (2 Chronicles 20). Terrified, the king called all the people together for prayer and fasting (vv. 3–4). In response, God told him to lead out soldiers to meet the enemy, promising that they would “not have to fight this battle” (v. 17). Jehoshaphat believed God and acted in faith. He appointed singers to go ahead of the soldiers and sing praise to God for the victory they believed they would see (v. 21). And as their music began, He miraculously defeated their enemies and saved His people (v. 22).

Victory doesn’t always come when and how we want it to. But we can always proclaim Jesus’ ultimate victory over sin and death that has already been won for us. We can choose to rest in a spirit of worship even in the middle of a war zone.

Tend Your Garden

By |2023-09-28T02:33:35-04:00September 28th, 2023|

I was so excited to plant our backyard fruit and veggie garden. Then I started to notice small holes in the dirt. Before it had time to ripen, our first fruit mysteriously disappeared. One day I was dismayed to find our largest strawberry plant had been completely uprooted by a nesting rabbit and scorched to a crisp by the sun. I wished I’d paid closer attention to the warning signs!

The beautiful love poem in Song of Songs records a conversation between a young man and woman. While calling to his darling, the man sternly warned against animals who would tear apart the lovers’ garden, a metaphor for their relationship. “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards,” he said (Song of Songs 2:15). Perhaps he saw hints of “foxes” that could ruin their romance, like jealousy, anger, deceit, or apathy. Because he delighted in the beauty of his bride (v. 14), he wouldn’t tolerate the presence of anything unwholesome. She was as precious as “a lily among thorns” to him (v. 2). He was willing to put in the work to guard their relationship.

Some of God’s most precious gifts to us are family and friends, although those relationships aren’t always easy to maintain. With patience, care, and protection from “the little foxes,” we trust that God will grow beautiful fruit.

Uniting Nations

By |2023-06-02T02:33:03-04:00June 2nd, 2023|

The longest international border in the world is shared by the United States and Canada, covering an incredible 5,525 miles of land and water. Workers regularly cut down ten feet of trees on both sides of the boundary to make the border line unmistakable. This lengthy ribbon of cleared land, called “the Slash,” is dotted by more than eight thousand stone markers so visitors always know where the dividing line falls.

The physical deforestation of “the Slash” represents a separation of government and cultures. As believers in Jesus, we look forward to a time when God will reverse that and unite all nations across the world under His rule. The prophet Isaiah spoke of a future where His temple will be firmly established and exalted (Isaiah 2:2). People from all nations will gather to learn God’s ways and “walk in His paths” (v. 3). No longer will we rely on human efforts that fail to maintain peace. As our true King, God will judge between nations and settle all disputes (v. 4).

Can you imagine a world without division and conflict? That’s what God promises to bring! Regardless of the disunity around us, we can “walk in the light of the Lord” (v. 5) and choose to give Him our allegiance now. We know that God rules over all and He will someday unite His people under one banner.

Life Everlasting

By |2023-05-02T02:33:12-04:00May 2nd, 2023|

“Don’t be afraid of death, Winnie,” said Angus Tuck, “be afraid of the unlived life.” That quote from the book-turned-film Tuck Everlasting is made more interesting by the fact that it comes from a character who can’t die. In the story, the Tuck family has become immortal. Young James Tuck, who falls in love with Winnie, begs her to seek immortality too so they can be together forever. But wise Angus understands that simply enduring forever doesn’t bring fulfillment.

Our culture tells us that if we could be healthy, young, and energetic forever, we would be truly happy. But that’s not where our fulfillment is found. Before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed for His disciples and for future believers. He said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Our fulfillment in life comes from a relationship with God through faith in Jesus. He’s our hope for the future and joy for this present day.

Jesus prayed that His disciples would take on the patterns of new life: that they would obey God (v. 6), believe that Jesus was sent by God the Father (v. 8), and be united as one (v. 11). As believers in Christ, we look forward to a future eternal life with Him. But during these days we live on earth, we can live the “rich and satisfying life” that He promised—right here, right now (10:10 NLT).

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