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Backward Leading 
Wednesday, August 2, 2006, 10:40 AM - Extra Christy
The Dad & Lad Tour of colleges round one ended at The Pennsylvania State University in State College. The student guides there are called Lion Ambassadors and walk backwards facing the group throughout the tour!

Leading by walking backwards has a lot of advantages: it lets you talk to folks while walking, it lets you watch out for strays and stragglers, and it gives you constant feedback about the pace and direction of the tour.

Backward walking does have its disadvantages. The main one is that you can't see where you are going! The Ambassadors tell their groups to watch out for them and not to let them run into anything or anyone. It gives the group a common purpose to make the tour a success: to take care of the leader so the leader can take care of them.

This mutual trust between the leaders and the led is often lacking today. The ideal is the leader watching over the group AND the group watching out for the leader as the move towards their goal. Often only one trusts, sometimes neither.
Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.- Philippians 2:2-4

When you are leader consider how you are "facing backwards" watching out for the group. When you are a follower consider how you can keep the leader (and the group!) on a clear path to your common goal.

Hoping you are helped on your journey today, whatever you face!
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Spreading the Good News 
Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 10:32 AM - Extra Christy
My son and I are on the Dad & Lad Tour of colleges. One of them was Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. On the tour a section of fence in the middle of campus was pointed out. It was placed there in 1923 to serve as a meeting place for students, but students just passed it by.

It served no purpose until a student painted a party invitation on it. (Think it was a marketing student?) The party was a huge success. Now everyone wanted to put their advertisements on the fence! So some rules were made: "The Fence must be painted between midnight and sunrise, in its entirety, using only paintbrushes. If you do not want your message painted over, the Fence must be guarded around the clock." (CMU website) Our tour guide explains that people camp out night after night watching over their message. It resembles a party more than a job. (There is even a grill chained to the fence for cook-out convenience.) Given a purpose, the fence has become a meeting place.

"Gospel" means "Good News" (it has the same root as "Gossip"; news that may not be so good). As I considered the lengths college students go to proclaim their message, I thought about the messages I proclaim and how I guard the good news to make sure the word gets out to others

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ,...- Colossians 4:2-3a
Hoping your good news gets noticed today!



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Today's Garden of Eden 
Wednesday, July 19, 2006, 10:27 AM - Extra Christy
Two dozen of our youth and four adults went to Cedar Point last week. Cedar Point is a mammoth amusement park on Lake Erie. What a great place for a kid! Acres of fun from roller coasters to dodge'em cars to chocolate coated bananas!

Years ago, a youth advisor told me that you took youth to Cedar Point, set them free at the gate and then spent the day in prayer. In the days before cell phones, prayer was the only connection you had with your youth loose in paradise.

Reminds me of the Garden of Eden. A paradise God set humanity, trusting them to behave among all the wonders and then, like our faithful youth advisors, came looking for them at the end of day.
Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"- Genesis 2:8- 9a; 3:8-9
Genesis tells us we are made in the image of God. Perhaps that image is never as apparent as when we give folks good things, set them free, and trust they will behave responsibly and return to us. That goes for youth at Cedar Point, a teen taking the car, a young adult going off to college or getting married. Like God, we give good things in trust to others.

I'm happy to say our youth did better than Adam and Eve, at the cool of the day, no one hid and no forbidden fruit was consumed! Praise the Creator!

Hoping you trust someone today
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Happy Anniversary 
Wednesday, July 12, 2006, 10:21 AM - Extra Christy
While ExtraChristy is a few months shy of its one year anniversary, today is Bette Lynn and my 26th Wedding Anniversary! It seems a good day for beginnings, so beginning today, for a variety of good but uninteresting reasons, ExtraChristy moves to Wednesday! So you get TWO this week!

Birthdays can be considered anniversaries, after all, the day is the anniversary of your birth. I think we have a special name for this anniversary to focus on the "birth person", instead of the parents and especially the mother. Strange, because they actually remember the day!

What if birthdays were treated like major wedding anniversaries? We would gather all those that were there the first day, recall the hopes and fears of the day, review the years since, rejoice that we are together in love, and renew relationships. I don't know if we would try to have the party at the hospital delivery room (it probably has been torn down and remodeled; and for some of us, more than once!) but maybe we would return to our hometown.

Baptism is our spiritual birth. It too invites us to Return, Recall, Review, Rejoice and Renew. Services of Baptism, like the ones this Sunday at Goodyear Heights, and Renewal of Baptism brings to mind and heart the promises of a life of faith made by us or for us while surrounded by our church family.
Through baptism we enter the covenant God has established. Within that covenant we are given new life and are guarded from evil, nurtured by the love of God and God's people.- Holy Baptism and Services for the Renewal of Baptism
This summer as you attend reunions, birthdays, graduation parties, weddings, and the occasional baptism; return to significant steps of faith in your own life, recall the hopes and fears, review the working out of God's purpose since then, rejoice in the love of God and others that surround you,while renewing relationships frayed by time and space.

And a Happy Anniversary to You Too!
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Finding God's Path 
Monday, July 10, 2006, 10:16 AM - Extra Christy
Charlie's Place now has a labyrinth; a path of over 600 bricks for walking prayer. But it can't be seen from the car! Since it is a path set into the ground, one has to be almost on top it it to see it. It's there, but only for those who look for it.

The only way to sense the presence of our labyrinth from a distance, is to see someone walking it. The curious circuit they trace out makes no sense to an observer who can see no barriers to a straight path and no purpose for the twists and turns.

That's the way it is with God's path for our lives as well!

You have to believe that the path is there before you see the path! You have to be in it, to see it.

The Kingdom of heaven is not easily seen or understood by outsiders. It has different paths and priorities than the kingdoms of this world.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field - Matthew 13:44
Want to get close to God's path? Want to move into the kingdom of heaven? Watch for people already on the path. They are easy to spot, if you know what to look for. They are turning to help others, resisting the temptation to take the easy way, faithfully continuing forward despite disappointments and detours. Step toward them in faith for as you seek the way, the way becomes clearer.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.- Matthew 7:7
Hope to see you on the way!

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