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30th High School Reunion Prayer 
Saturday, August 12, 2006, 09:27 AM - Prayers
The folks running our 30th Firestone High School Reunion (Spirit of 76!) were nice enough to let me pray for the event:

God of all Abraham's children: Jew, Muslim, and Christian we gather here as graduates of a common place and common time but we have moved on from our alma mater and have histories that separate us from our common heritage.
Bless this food and fellowship that we can renew old relationships and find new connections that bring us together again; as we knit our histories together. And as we who are many join together in shalom, may all your children in the world come to a glad reunion of peace. Amen.

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Used to Be; Yet to Be 
Wednesday, August 9, 2006, 10:46 AM - Extra Christy
I've returned to Akron after a 20 year absence. Much has changed and I find I navigate by the method that used to frustrate me as a new person in a community, the "used to be" map.

You've probably heard these type of directions: "You turn left where the Anderson barn used to be..." "It is right next to the old Douglas place". My favorite direction was the one I found in the newspaper of my first small town. Having just moved in, I wanted to see the parade that weekend and searched in vain for a map or a listing of the parade route in the paper. Finally, I found it: "The parade route will be the same as last year."

On grace filled days, Christians choose their route not by what used to be, or even what is, but what is yet to be. The prophet Isaiah told of this place where former things would not be a limitation:
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. - Isaiah 65:17-18

Isaiah is not advocating forgetfulness but poetically speaks of trust in God and confidence in God's future even in the midst of suffering in a foreign land.

People and communities are not bound by the past and neither is God. The parade doesn't have to be the "same as last year" but can break out into joy and delight as we follow God into a new future.

Hoping you follow the call to what is yet to be
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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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