April 26, 2010

The Pathway Principle

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NASB)

I spent Saturday morning at a Bible study leadership conference. I was very excited to go but secretly hoped I would choose classes that weren’t boring and weren’t repeats of the same old thing, blah, blah, blah. Be careful what you wish for!

While I treasure the traditional in many things, I also like to be part of those wild and wonderful out of the box moments. Little did I know how out of the box this Saturday would turn out to be!

I sat in three classes led by Jeff Dixon, the Senior Pastor of Covenant Community Church in Sanford Florida. I wish more than anything each of you could have been there. I simply do not have time to tell you everything that I learned and all the wonderful things God used to refresh my spirit!

However, I am sure I have time to tell you one thing that made an impression on me. It centers on the subject of path. Pastor Dixon talked about something he called the Pathway Principle. We read Scripture on paths. Obviously we are each on a path. A path to where? Well, only you know that.

The Pathway Principle talks about direction and destination. It eliminates all intentions, good or otherwise, from the equation because good intentions aren’t any good unless you put some active direction to them so you can arrive at a desired destination. Who knew!

He also told us that we are all on a path at any given time in our lives. The path is governed by our choices. So whatever path you are on today, is because you choose to be there. Good, bad, right or wrong. Would you guys like to meet me at Starbucks for a group session on this?

I guess I need to rein myself in a bit. Let me begin that process by asking you what your path looks like today? Is it wide open? If so, are you running toward your destination? Or is it cluttered with distractions and obstacles? What are you doing to clear those away so you can quicken your pace? Perhaps you can’t see your path. Could it be that you are experiencing circumstances that blot out the light and you are simply uncertain about your next step? If so, I have got a good word for you.

Let me illustrate by relaying a true event as told to us by Jeff Dixon. Does the name Nadia Bloom mean anything to you? If you’ve been watching the news in Florida, it should. Nadia is a young autistic girl who recently wandered away from home and found herself lost in alligator infested waters for 4 nights. Nadia and her family attend Pastor Dixon’s church.

Based on the conversation in class with others - who knew the area this child was lost in, alligator infested was an understatement. Pastor Dixon recounted the first night’s search where he joined the sheriff and Nadia’s father. They walked through swampy wetlands with a bull horn calling out to Nadia who didn’t respond. He talked about the darkness that night. It was a darkness that completely incapacitated their vision. Nothing was visible as they attempted to walk on a small path searching desperately for the lost child.

In fact, the light held by the sheriff’s officer was the only one they had and it only gave enough light for them to take one step at a time. Pastor Dixon quipped that as the night grew longer, the closer he began to stand next to the one who held the light. We laughed but what a truth lingered in that statement!

Now re-read Psalm 119:105. God’s word is that lamp that lights our path. Some days, we can see the path clearly and run in the direction God has lit with wild abandon. Other days, we can only see the spot we stand on and have no idea which direction to place our next step. When that happens, how close are we to the One with the light?

Nadia’s story had a happy ending. Miracle number one: she was found alive Miracle number two: remember those alligator infested waters? She didn’t see a single one! I kind of like to think God sent Daniel to keep an eye on her during her ordeal. I am sure he told her about his time in the lions den to pass the time.

Friends, we are all on a path. God never said it would easy or uncluttered. But He did promise if we leaned on Him, he’d make the path straight and light the way! To where? Why to Him, of course!


April 21, 2010

Let the Search Begin!

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Deut. 4:29 (NASB)

What was the last thing you lost? Face it, no matter how careful we are, we all loose stuff from time to time. Oh, the things I have lost!

Let’s see, I’ve lost the setting out of a ring. I’ve lost my purse. Several years ago, I lost my favorite pin and my favorite pen. I’ve lost recipes, postcards and even my light bill! I’ve lost money. One of my favorite televisions shows is Lost. I’ve lost time and on occasion, my mind. Once, I even lost a whole class of first graders in the lunch room. This is why I do not teach in elementary education.

Not too long ago, a friend was describing an incident of loss. A family member of my friend had lost her dog. The pooch escaped through the front door and was gone in a flash. A search began. This pet was much beloved and the loss overwhelmed the owner. For what seemed like an eternity, the tears flowed and physical illness ensued from the anxiety and pain of the missing puppy. Endless searching took place to find the only thing that could calm the fears and the nerves of this bereft pet person.

My sweet friend even called in some counseling to try and ease the pain of her loved one. After assessing the situation, the wise counselor said to my friend, “If only we would spend the same time and effort searching for Jesus as they are for this dog.”

Wow! My toes hurt! We invest a large part of our lives searching for things. We search for things we’ve lost such as material possessions, emotional security, and youth. We search for things we believe will enhance our life such as money, power, fame, education, and love. We search for things that will enlighten us like spiritual understanding and fulfillment.

But how much time do we spend searching for Jesus? Especially since He is not one the lost! Set aside, yes. Pushed away, yes. Denied, by some. Ignored, often. But lost, never! We are the ones lost.

Today, if you are searching for something far greater than yourself to complete your life and give it purpose, search no further than Jesus Christ. The Scripture tells us if you are looking for Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him and be lost no more. If you need help with your search – call me! I’d be glad to help.

Perhaps you’ve already found Christ and are not lost eternally, but maybe you feel you’ve misplaced Him in your life. You’ve let a few things of the world get in the way of your relationship with the Lord. The same Scripture applies, seek Him with your whole heart and be restored.

My friend’s family member found her dog and it put an end to her momentary suffering. In her life and ours, how much more suffering would it end to search for Christ and find Him waiting for us with open arms?

“I was once lost, but now I am found.” (Amazing Grace)

April 12, 2010

Legacy Living Equals Legacy Giving

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven :a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Eccl. 3:1-8 (NIV)

If there can be a beautiful day for a wedding, there certainly can be a beautiful day for a funeral. Yesterday was a beautiful day and a legacy day.

In January, I began a 7 week study with a group of women, on Proverbs 31. One of the first lessons we talked about was legacy. We had to ask ourselves what kind of legacy would we leave behind.

It’s a good question to ask. Granted we can leave some sentimental and tangible gifts to loved ones like poetry, paintings and heirloom jewelry. Yet for the most part, money can be spent, cars can be crashed and houses can be damaged, destroyed or sold. Therefore, it’s the intangible stuff we leave behind that makes the biggest impact.

Sunday afternoon, Bob and I stood outside with a loving group of people as my boss and dear friend, Cheryle Touchton and her husband Bob, bid farewell to Bob’s mother. Barbara Touchton left this world for one more glorious last Thursday.

Although we did not know her, our hearts went out to Bob, Cheryle and their families – who had suffered another family loss only a few weeks prior to this one. My sweetie and I went to pay our respects and lend prayer support for Cheryle as she spoke to a grieving family while grieving herself.

Cheryle presided over her mother-in-law’s service since Cheryle was “in charge of all the religious stuff for the family.” Apparently, this was a title assigned to her by her mother-in-law many years ago and the sentiment brought a smile to many a face, including mine.

Grandsons sung songs, read her poetry and shared their memories. Granddaughter Kelly read Barbara’s favorite Scripture: Eccl. 3:1-8. Her paintings were displayed briefly before the breeze overpowered them. Bob Touchton spoke of his sweet remembrances of his mother. Cheryle spoke of Barbara’s spiritual testimony and how death brought her freedom from the illness that had enslaved her. Some of the remarks brought smiles, some brought giggles and others brought tears.

Now, I know you are supposed to be reverent during a funeral. But at one point, it took all I could do, to keep from laughing out loud – sorry Cheryle! It seems something other than a fond memory caught my attention. It was the sight of a small, wiggly caterpillar who managed to find its way onto Cheryle’s husband’s jacket collar. I watched it crawl across the back of his jacket and to the inside of the collar.

I had to shut my eyes because there was nothing I could do without being a distraction. When I opened my eyes, my hand flew over my mouth before the laughter exploded. It seems our little caterpillar friend had started to make its way up the middle of Bob’s handsome, albeit bald head.

What does one do when you are on the very back row of a solemn service when an insect rhapsody is playing out on the back of your boss’s husband’s head! Who, by the way, was nestled in on the front row with his grandson on his lap! Oh. . .

Well, back to today’s message, after the service concluded Bob and I were impressed and blessed by the legacy this mother left her family. We truly felt like we’d missed something special by not knowing her.

God thought: I wonder, would anyone ever say that about me?

One day each of us (in the flesh) will lie silently in front of a group of people who are there to bid our memory farewell. Our group could be small or it could be large. It could rain or the sun might shine. Flowers might fall over and caterpillars could make an appearance. But that is not what anyone will truly remember. What will be remembered is the life you lived and how you lived it.

Live well, love well and serve well. Do it all for the glory of God. Start living a legacy today that will continue to give long after you depart this world and exchange your trophies for a crown.


April 05, 2010

In Remembrance of Me

“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’” Luke 22:19 (NAS)

Let me state the obvious, yesterday was Easter. Last week was Holy Week and I pray you spent particular time remembering the eternal significance for our sacred and joyous celebrations. I say celebrations – because perhaps like me, you celebrated on numerous occasions during the week and not just solely on Sunday.

For my home, it started on the Sunday night before Easter when the choir presented Sacred Music for this season. On that night the music led us up to and through the crucifixion of Christ. They stopped there because the resurrection hadn’t yet occurred. The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper was incorporated into the musical presentation adding to the spiritual depth of the service.

Our mid-week gathering also magnified this most important celebration on the Christian calendar. Then on Friday night, Bob and I attended our very first Seder (Passover Supper) with some friends who are Messianic Jews and lead a congregation in Port St John. Too bad, we don’t have all day! I’d love to tell you about that marvelous event! What a blessing!

Then Sunday morning, we worshipped again as the choir and the Pastor led us in praise and honor of what the Resurrection means for us! The Lord has risen and is alive today! Praise be to God and the Son for what that means in my life and yours!

All this leads me to sharing a particular thought that kept beating in my heart all week long. It’s a simple thought but one that delivers me from cares of the world into the comfort of Christ regardless of my circumstances. It all started with a few little words sang by Roy the Sunday night before Easter, “Remember Me.”

This solo was sung right before the partaking of the Lord’s Supper on Palm Sunday. It is a direct reference from Luke where Jesus tells the disciples to “do this” in remembrance of Him. Sitting there in church, just moments before the elements were to be passed around, it dawned on me that Jesus asked them to do this and remember Him, but there is nothing required for Jesus to do, to remember us. Why? Because He can never forget. It’s us who needs the reminding.

I can’t be sure how your week is starting off or even what your last week was like, but can I coax you into making some time today to remember the One who will never forget you. I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart through this simple thought as He spoke to mine.

Love, Barbara