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Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the Light of the world.  Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life.” – John 8:12

The first time I walked into a building that was on fire, I quite literally had no idea what I was doing.  Having just joined the department as a volunteer firefighter less than a week earlier, I had completed a brief orientation into how the department worked, was given a handbook of what to learn, and issued my gear.  But, formal training to fight fires?  Not so much.

The sporting goods store that was located on one side of the old town square in my small hometown was on fire.  Thick black smoke was pouring out the front doors.  The business to the left was a furniture store.  When I arrived, I found the officer in charge and asked him what to do.  He put an air pack on my back, hung a mask around my neck and said, "Go into the furniture store and look for extension. You good?"

Adrenaline pumping like I've never before experienced, I fumbled with my mask and mumbled what must have sounded like a "yeah," because when I looked up to ask him what "extension" is, he was nowhere in sight.

On my own and tasked with a job, I walked through the darkness of that furniture store.  Alone and afraid, and not knowing where I was going, I had one thing on my mind—survival!

I was determined to not lose sight of the flashing lights of the fire truck.  The further back I went, the further from the light I got...the harder it became to navigate.

Somewhere near the back, I got disoriented and realized there were mirrors all over the place.  Now, I could see the lights while looking in several directions.  Aargh!!  After a brief panic, I regained my composure and worked my way back toward the front of the store, following the source of the lights back to the safety I knew was waiting for me.

Too often, I believe our introduction into the family of Christ is much the same.  We get an "orientation" of sorts...a brief introduction to the Gospel and salvation.  We're tossed the Handbook and told to study it and follow the rules.  Then without formal "training," we're thrown into the fire—expected to figure it out and to live a life worthy of being called a Christian.  "Go and sin no more."

If only it were that easy.

I've been a Christian for thirty years.  I've been a Christ follower for about ten.  For the first twenty years, I wandered the wilderness, not quite sure what I was doing.  I had the Handbook, but I never really read it.  I fumbled my way through the darkness, mostly disoriented and confused.

Over the years, I've walked away from the Light more times than I care to admit…becoming disoriented and confused each time.  But, every time I've found myself in the dark, the Light has been there to lead me out…back to the safety of the One who saved me.

Men, last month I challenged you to lead from the front, to never stop improving, and to step up to the plate.  My question for you now is, “How's that going?”  Are you stepping up to the plate?  Are you deepening your relationship with Christ?  Are you leading your families in the Light?

What I needed with me on that first fire was a leader...someone to show me the way.  I was a member of the “family,” but lacked a mentor that first time out.  We can explore a path for the first time (either alone or together with other believers), but God isn't calling us to just walk the path.  He's calling us to LEAD others toward Him.  Brothers, we cannot lead someone down a path we haven't first walked ourselves!

If you're walking a path toward a closer relationship with God for the first time, you don't have to walk it alone.  Find a Sunday school class or other small group.  Join a ministry team.  Seek out a fellow believer who can mentor you.

If you're ready to lead others down the path or are already leading from the front, kudos to you!  Make sure you stay connected to the Vine (John 15:5) by spending time with the Master daily.  If you're not already serving Him through a ministry, join a ministry team…or start the one He’s placed on your heart.  Consider teaching a Sunday school class.  Maybe seek out a MasterLife group this fall where we’ll encourage each other in mastering life and bearing the fruit He has called us to bear.

Whatever it is you've been called to do, the “Officer in Charge” (that'd be God) won't just give you a task without providing the training.  He doesn't call the qualified.  He qualifies the called.  Let's seek out the Light together and lead others to it.

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In 2015, Mason, my third grandson, graduated high school and began preparations to attend a university later that same year.  I thought about his ‘mostly’ sheltered life up to that point—Christian family, private Christian school for grades 1-8, and primarily Christian friends.  Then, I began to envision the very different environment he would soon be entering (statistics show we lose so many of our young people when they enter college).  Other than prayer, what tangible thing could I do to make this transition easier and help Mason keep his focus on God’s plan for his life?

A plan evolved that included separately wrapping 30 small gifts—one for each day of the first month he would be away.  The gifts were numbered and packed in a large box so that Gift #1 was on top.  His instructions were to open one gift each day either at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day.  These were to remind him that his family loved him and were praying for him and also that God loved him.  Inside each gift were two small cards, each with a Bible verse (or verses) on one side and on the other side a short prayer.  There was a note on the outside of the entire package which gave the following instructions:

Mason,

There are 30 packages in this box, one for each day of your first month in college.  These packages are numbered, and I want you to open them in numerical order.  At the bottom of each package are two cards.  The rule is that you read both cards, Bible verse first and then the prayer on the back, BEFORE you enjoy the treats inside (ha, ha)!!!

I hope you enjoy these little surprises.  God loves you, we love you, and we know you are going to do really well in this next chapter of your life.

Below are some scripture and prayer examples:

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous be shaken.

(Psalm 55:22)

Oh God, let my trust be in you.

Let me never give in to discouragement.

(Prayer)

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

(Proverbs 3:6)

Father, help me to put you first in my life today and always,

and let me walk the path You have for me.

(Prayer)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

(Isaiah 41:10)

Help me overcome my fears by filling my mind with positive thoughts and my life with positive actions.  Thank You for always being with me to give me the strength and wisdom I need

to make wise decisions and to overcome the challenges of each day.

(Prayer)

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power

through His Spirit in your inner being.

(Ephesians 3:16)

Oh God, let my heart be flooded with light so that I will grow in my knowledge of You

and better understand the greatness of Your almighty power.

(Prayer)

These cards can be purchased or handwritten, and the gifts do not need to be expensive.  For instance, one day for Mason was two of the protein bars he likes.  Another day was a package of microwave kettle corn.  One day we put in a package of Puffs (a baby food snack that his little niece Summer was always trying to feed him), thinking the memory would brighten his day.  On some days, the gift was enough to share with a friend or roommate.  When we ran out of ideas, we repeated some of his favorite things.  Everyone said that Mason would open the gifts all at one time, but he actually opened one each day for 30 days.  In fact, when his Mom went to pack him up and bring him back home for the summer of 2016, Mason had all the cards in one place and she reminded him that he could use the cards over and over again.

Mason has now completed his second year of college.  He still has the cards, he still attends church, and God even provided a Christian roommate this past year.

This fall, my granddaughter Camille will also leave home and go away to a university in Illinois.  I plan to do the same thing for her, selecting the scriptures and prayers as God leads.  Will these cards help my two grandchildren stay on God’s path?  Only God knows, but He tells us in Isaiah 55:11:

So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

 

Posted by Dee Schneider with 0 Comments

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