A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

Remember–a Christian discipline

posted by Linda G. Howard

family celebrationRemembering is a vital Christian discipline that is either ignored or taught in an off-handed, casual manner.  Most of us know that routine thinking is defined by psychologists as remembering what happened in the past and rehearsing how we would change it if we could relive the event.  Perhaps that is the reason why Christians disregard the command of Jesus to “do this to remember me.”

Why should such a common event as remembering become a Christian disciple?  But isn’t God the redeemer of all things, especially those events and objects which we take for granted, find most common or deem less valuable.

family preparing for deploymentOur memories are an essential part of who we are.  Family events often mean sitting around the table rehearsing past joys and sorrows.  We laugh again and again at Uncle Billy’s comment about Vero Beach.  We delight in Tarah’s antics telling about the ordeal of preparing for her husband’s deployment to Afghanistan. We use our dinner napkins to wipe away the tears when our laugher turns to piercing loneliness as we joke about Mama’s long, convoluted prayers that each year kept us from eating our Thanksgiving dinner until it was cold.

We know that these are times of joyful sorrow that make our hearts grow with love and appreciation for each other.   Yet, that experience is not often shared among the church family.  One of the highlights of my Christian life was when The Tabernacle Church of Melbourne hosted their 25th anniversary dinner.  It was a time of remembering and sharing the joys and hidden sorrows of a congregation that had grown into a family.

I believe that communion was to be more than a ritualistic handing out of the cup and bread.  It was to be more than the sharing of the “host.”   It was to be a time of true remembrance and celebration.

community churchOf course, there are times that our hearts are filled with the cares and concerns of our world.   We approach communion with a need for more time, more energy and more resources.  We don’t have the time, energy or resources to “rehearse” that joyful night which ushered in the heart-bending sorrow of a crucified Savior.

Working in the mentally challenged community for 24 years has taught me many lessons.  One is the value of remembering.  Saturday night, as I stood beside Keith’s hospital bed with two of his caregiver, our conversation slowly ambled toward Chris, Grace, Tom and so many others.  Young people who were snatched from us too soon. Keith slept because his medical emergency was over.  Relieved that he would go home, we hugged each other with sweet memories and conversation of our loved ones who have gone to be the Lord.

Perhaps turning these moments into a traditional ceremony will only take away the value.  Yet, it is apparent that the Lord wants to become a vital part of the joys and sorrows of remembering.

Remember where we came from

posted by Linda G. Howard

looking at her watchShe is never early.  Always late.  He cannot speak without using offensive or vulgar expressions.  ”I’M marching to a different drummer” is her excuse for breaking all the rules and acting selfishly.  He only seems interested in hurting others, if he doesn’t get his way.

I’ve deliberately left out names.  Because we all can fit into any of those statements but for the mercy and work of God in our hearts.  In fact, even though we have come to Lord and asked for his saving grace, one of the greatest tricks of our enemy is to erase from our memory the place where we dwelt before God’s forgiveness entered our hearts and lives.

sitting in a boxWe’ve been told by the Lord, “Do this to remember me.”  Often to the Church, Jesus is saying, “Remember me so you can be reminded of the point where you started.  Remember where you were; and you still are a sinner.  You need a Savior.”

My heart desires to reach out and slap some folks I know.  They aren’t following the Lord up to my standards.  Or they are giving to the point of hurting the people they want to bless.  Their lives shout, “I need a Savior.”  Yet, their eyes are blind to their own needs.  They can see the fault of everyone around them.  Nevertheless, they cannot see their own needs and sins.

Others are like me.  We are born-again but we still walk through life succumbing to sinful desires.  Or there are those of us who have become self-righteous looking through our salvation binoculars at everyone who does not know the Lord as their Savior.  Carnal or baby Christians are an anathema to us.  We cannot understand why they can’t get their lives together.

We understand God’s amazing grace in our lives but we want to customize the way God’s deals with others according to our plan and our dictates.  We have forgotten our starting point.  We’ve become self-righteous to the core.

crossroadsPaul instructed the church to never forget from where we came.  The Lord wants us to lead by example; not proclamation. Each year, Special Gathering ministry takes about 175 people who are intellectually disabled on a four-day retreat experience.  In my first year at Camp Agape, one of the hardest things for me to learn as a new staff person was the principle of “leading by example.”  I wanted to tell everyone what to do and where to do it.

The problem is that telling is much easier than leading by example.  Nevertheless, God has given us an airtight way to overturn our self-righteous ways.  ”Remember where we came from.”

Remember

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps one of the greatest virtues and joys of a Christian is remembering.  We often overlook the command that Jesus gave to us during the Lord’s Supper.  He said, “Do this so you will remember me.”

remember meTime and time again in the Old and New Testaments we are instructed to remember.  Many of the emotional and mental hardships we experience in our daily spiritual walk stem from neglecting this discipline.  Ignored or passed over without much thought or meditation, we stumble day after day because we forget the grace, mercy and promises of God.

From the beginning, when Eve took the first bite of that forbidden fruit, a large part of her problem was not remembering.  She had forgotten the promise and instruction of God.  She didn’t completely remember what God had told her and Adam about eating the fruit.

Again and again as the people of God fail to live for him, it is too often a remembering problem.  Deliberate sin is not as much a concern for most of us as neglecting the small things.

As my big project for 2013, I’ve taken on the task of cleaning out the garage. That messy cavern holds years of work, hopes and dreams of my late husband.  It was his shop, his hideout and his sanctuary.  As I scrub, paint, sort and toss, I remember that so much of his life revolved around a great dream of changing the world through a machine that produced unlimited energy.  He didn’t accomplish his dream; but he never forgot it.

I remember that I believed in that dream because I believed in him.

One of the virtues I’ve observed within the mentally challenged community is their ability to grasp and hold tight to the simple, good things of God.  They remember their first communion.  They remember to prepare their offering envelop for Sunday morning.  They remember a small gesture of love and forgiveness.  They remember…

The Lord has a plan (a dream) for my life and your life.  We can believe in that marvelous dream when we remember and trust in Him.

Meeting a friend

posted by Linda G. Howard

Tonight I had a pleasant surprise when I met a friend who is also a member of Special Gathering during my late afternoon walk.  My friend, M.J. was meeting with her reading tutor in the park. Her tutor explained that they often take a walk in the park to help  M.J. loosen up and prepare her for her next reading assignment.

At the time I saw them, they weren’t walking but M.J. was reading out loud.  I came on them at the end of her lesson; and by the time I reached them, they were preparing to leave.

It seemed interesting to me that M.J.’s teacher wanted to explain to me why they had her lessons in the park.  It is a very public place.  In fact, it was such a busy spot that I wondered if M.J. would be comfortable reading out loud with all the people who stroll through the area.

reading

Understand, I’m not questioning this tutor’s methods or abilities.  What I did question was the propriety of having an adult woman learning to read in this public park at a time when people are routinely walking their dogs, exercising and meandering through the area.  In conducting a reading lesson, it is logical that the student must read out loud.  Thereby, the teacher can access the effectiveness of her instruction.

child readingI’ve heard my friend read.  Her ability is at a kindergarten to first grade level.  I have my Master’s degree and I would be self-conscious reading aloud in such a public venue.  M.J. is a sharp, stylish young woman in her early twenties.  If comfortable in her surroundings, she can be boisterous.  But her typical behavior is shy and withdrawn.  I cannot imagine that she is able to function at her best while reading in the park.

Over the years, I seen men and women who are professionals use a lack of judgement regarding the feelings and emotional well-being of people who are intellectually disabled.  My concern is that this is another case of a well-meaning teacher finding an atmosphere which puts her student at a disadvantage.

Am I overreaching and overreacting?  Or do you think another place would be more appropriate to hold a reading lesson?

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