Points to Ponder: Life: A Course of Influence

Points to Ponder
Life: A Course of Influence

I have had a long relationship with Walker Mill Baptist Church, going back to seminary days. I adopted their founding pastor, The Rev. Dr. Vandy Kennedy as my mentor. He always introduces me as his son. And I am; for in the scriptures a "son of" is not just referring to a biological descendant. It speaks of one who is following in the character and pattern of that elder or greater person.
We couldn't be more different in most respects though. He is an older black man from rural South Carolina, a Baptist pastor in an all-black urban church, which he planted. I met him when Walker Mill was an outreach center housed in a three-bedroom apartment. As I studied what scripture says the church ought to be, he was doing it. I graduated with a seminary degree, but I learned how to be a Biblically grounded pastor from Rev. Kennedy. I also challenged my comfort zones whenever I went to Walker Mill Church. I'm a rather quiet person. I like to "get to the point" when I attend worship. Loud and long praise choruses, shouts and waving of hands, and people openly crying out to God with tears are all things which once unsettled me. When I was a guest preacher there in the early years of our relationship, I was made to sit on the platform, in the big chair, with deacons on either side of me. Everybody therefore could see me and what I did, or did not do, as worship reached an often excited pitch. I think I was more conscious of my feeling "out of my element" than they were; they were more focused on praising God. And in realizing that, it made me all the more uncomfortable. Their uninhibited expressive love of God makes me question the depth of my own love for the Lord. Not that all of that expression is necessary, but where was my head? Why was my mind on how I was feeling about the worship practices of those around me than upon the Lord I had come there to worship?
I had the seminary degree. I had my prepared sermon in my folder, my well-worn New King James Bible by my side. And yet I received that day, like every day since then when I've been to Walker Mill Church, more spiritual enlightenment than I had come there to give.
I recall one seminar when I was setting in the big chair prior to my time to preach. With my eyes closed, I was basking in the praise music and choruses. A soloist belted out a joyful praise song, which felt and sounded like her very heart had its own set of vocal cords. I saw in the third row, positioned alongside the outside chair, a young man in a wheelchair. "Who is that?" I asked the deacon to my right. He was the son of the soloist. With that revelation, I heard the song with an even deeper understanding. What pain this mother has known; and the praise of her Lord flows through it and overwhelms it. Wow! And I'm preaching to these folks. Thank God I have had the opportunity to be preached to by them. Their lives preach, just as Jesus said: "You shall be my witnesses . . . " (Acts 1:8).
And shouldn't it be so with all of us who know the Lord? If we could just listen, watch, and appreciate each other's sermons. Christ has spoken deep truths to my soul through the witness and words of people from all kinds of backgrounds. From members of mainline churches and of independent house churches; liberals and fundamentalists, those who believe and don't attend any church, as well as those who spend most of their week in church. Look into the face of people you pass in the grocery aisle, or in the mall. There is a story behind each face. Drive by the rundown homes in the inner city, the shacks by the railroad tracks, or the manicured mansions or simple farmhouses in the rural regions, and there are stories to be told. The exterior condition of the house does not necessarily match the interior condition of those who live there. Think: What is God doing in those people's lives right now? What does He want to do? Is there a word for you from the Lord as you ponder the scenes of day-to-day life? Strike up a conversation with someone in the park or on the bus or in the checkout line; could be that God has a word for you? Or He may have put His word in the envelope of your heart. Then, at just the right moment, someone who needs that word will cross your path. And the Lord will speak through you to them.
How aware are you that the Lord could completely reverse someone's course in life away from harm and toward blessing because you were available and listening to His prompting? And why not you? Didn't He use other people - perhaps you didn't even know their names - who spoke a word you needed to hear? It is certain that some of us need a swift kick in the rear to set us straight; but the Lord uses a human foot to make the proper application.
". . . he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:20)
Sometimes it's not that you need to be turned from error. It may be you're distracted with a good thing while you are missing God's best. A missed opportunity to grow in the Lord is perhaps as much a sin as taking the wrong opportunity. But if the Lord is truly the Master of your life and you strive to be in line with His will, He will use you to touch others, just as He continually has used others to touch you. Are you available for the adventure your life is meant to be?
"A man's heart plans his way but the Lord directs his steps." (Proverbs 16:9 NKJV)

Pastor Dennis is now (and has been since July 1, 2007) the Senior Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship located at 9508 National Pike, Big Pool, MD.