Sunday, May 9, 2010

You're a Mirror Image of Your Mother

Mother's Day, 2009

Chamblissburg Baptist Church
Bedford County, Virginia

My mother, Ilawyn Mullennax Beckner, won the award for most grandchildren present in the morning worship service.  She had all 6 of her grandchildren present and accounted for - all boys, all missionary children - MK's.  She also had both of her children and their spouses with her.

Both of her children are missionaries to the country of Brazil.  Both families are currently on the field.  This Mother's Day, Dad and Mom will go to church with no sons and daughters present and no grand boys to accompany them.  Oh, what a sad day!  No, it won't be sad!  Mom and Dad will be glad that they have raised their children well.  They can sit back and know they did their job!  They prayed and worked to see their son and daughter grow up to serve the Lord in full-time work.  But how do a father and  a mother send their children and all of thetr grandchildren off to a foreign country to do missionary work?  Why would a woman want to do such a thing?  What father would want it?

Vicent and Ilawyn Beckner of Bedford County, Virginia wanted it!  Yes, some holidays and a little lonely and yes, oft times we are all sad to be apart.  But I'm fairly certain they would not have it any other way!


I would like to share a little bit of the WHY?  This is a message I shared with the ladies at Mom's church last year while in the States.  What a privilege to have been there with my sister-in-love, my missionary mentor - Mrs. Ellen Craymer, and my mother!  I post this as a tribute to all P.O.M. men and women on this holiday.  P.O.M. stands for Parents of Missionaries. 

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"Let's begin today by reading from the third chapter of Philippians:

'Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.'



That last verse is our key verse this afternoon  …verse 17, Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.   Be a follower of me… watch me… pay attention to what I do… do the same.

I want to begin this afternoon with a story.  Once upon a time there was a little girl with three older brothers.  She was a little mischievious.  Her parents worked hard to keep food on the table during those years right after WWII.  She often fought with one brother in particular and would climb trees to get away from him.  He would simply wait at the bottom daring her to come down and get what she deserved.  She was the youngest and a girl, the apple of her father’s eye… so many times she must have gotten her way.  As a teenager she spent almost a whole year in bed with rheumatoid fever and was not able to finish high school, but she was smart and liked to read and learn.  She went to work and even as a young girl began to learn about the world of fashion and the retail side of buying for a department store.

One day while traveling to visit family in another state she happened to meet a young man in uniform.  He began to call on her after that trip and they eventually got married and ran away together to live in a new place.  She was young and brave and made the best of her new life far from friends and family eventually moving back to her native city with her husband and new baby girl.  She and her family settled down in the city and began to raise their family adding a boy to their family circle.

Life was good, but not complete.  God was not in the picture.  Through the efforts of a sister-in-law the lady of our story began to send her two children to Sunday School at a local church where many of the extended family attended.  God began to tug on the young woman and her new husband’s hearts.  One particular Sunday the father of the house had to take the children to church and just decided to stick around instead of making the drive back home only to come back to pick up the kids a little later.  That day he heard the message of God’s love and knew that he wanted to know  more.  The couple began to attend the little church.  The girl of our story had heard the message before but had not been including God in her life.  Now was the time and the timing of God is always good.

That young lady’s son and daughter were still young enough to never truly remember a time when their parents did not go to church.  They were too young to know a time when the Bible was read in their home.  Too young to know when Sunday was not a special day to go to church in the morning and back again at night and on Wednesday nights, too!  They were too young not to know that passing out tracts in front of ABC liquor stores wasn’t something that everybody liked to do.  Or that helping with Child Evangelism neighborhood Bible clubs, riding church buses to pick up dirty children from the poor part of town, praying for a bigger car to take more people to church, going on visitation with the pastor to visit on Thursdays, and so much more were not a part of normal everyday life.  That young lady and her husband did not just live a good Christian live but talked about it to others inviting people to church and helping with all the ministries of their church.

When I went off to Piedmont Bible College in 1983 people would often ask me, what do your parents do?  Is your father a pastor?  Are your parents on the mission field?  I would have to say, No.  But I always added – my parents are good, hard-working church members who support show their faith to all around them.

Our theme today is to look back, back into the past.  Look back and see where we have been and perhaps where we still need to go.  As I look back today  I see how my parents.  Yes, that lady is my mother!  I see how my parents raised up two missionaries.  How did they do it?  What can we learn from looking back into the lives of two fairly simple church members?  What can we see today that will help us know how we can live to see our children or grandchildren or nieces or nephews also want to set out to serve the Lord and answer the call to join in the work to spread the Gospel?

They went to church every time the doors were open no matter what.  Snow, sleet, rain, heat, they were there.  They realized at one point that they needed a better church for their children to learn more about the Bible.  They hunted and found Chamblissburg. They had missionaries in our home whenever they could.
They took us with them to go on visitation and to pass out tracts (I’ve passed out tracts in front of the old ABC store that was near Krogers in Vinton more than once).  They showed by example that Christian service is fun, good, and required of all. They read the Bible openly in family devotional times and in personal reading.
They prayed.  I remember Dad praying for certain Uncles and friends and for needed things.  When there wasn’t enough money to send us to Christian school they prayed. The same for PBC.

They worked.  They didn’t just sit around praying for money to fall from the sky.  They worked harder.  Mom watched children.  Dad worked extra hours.  We planted a garden and that’s what we ate! They encouraged my brother and I to learn more than they did.  They sacrificed to send us to Roanoke Valley Christian School and then on to college.  They helped us through Bible college and they support us today as missionaries. They encouraged learning and growth.

My list could go on… the value of hard work (planting potatoes), courage (in the face of black snakes), good judgment and honesty…but… I would like to submit to you today that perhaps over the past few years churches around North Carolina and Virginia that once sent out 100’s of young men and women to the foreign mission fields are not doing so today.  Why?  We – yes, we, including me, too, are not modeling the behavior as we once did to our families and friends.  We are skipping out of church when the grand kids have something going on or there’s a special event in some other city.  We are too embarrassed to give out tracts anymore, we don’t come to church visitation, we are not living up to the image that God would have.  Most people don’t even plant gardens anymore!

I would like for you to look into the mirror today.  Look carefully!  What do you see?  I see my mother! People say that I look and sound a lot like her.  I answered the phone at the house recently while visiting with Mom and Dad.  It was someone from Mom’s work.  I kept them going to almost five minutes talking about this and that before the person realized he was not talking to Ilawyn!

As I look in the mirror and see how much I look like my mother on the outside, I am reminded to look further and deeper and make sure that I am following the example she and Dad laid out for me to be a good Christian worker.  I see her faults, too.  She does have a few, and I work to do better in my own life as those faults that she has I have as well!  I see my own personal faults in the mirror.  The Holy Spirit nudges us and shows us these sinful areas of our life that need to be tended.  And I want to do better.  Do you?

When is the last time you really looked in the mirror?  The Holy Spirit is like a mirror in our lives showing us the things we need to conceal or highlight.  Put a little dab here and a little less there.  What do you need to fix up today?  How about a makeover from God?

Then next… Ladies, who is looking at you?  Who sees you when they look in that mirror of life?  To whom are you an example.  We are examples often whether we want to be or not.  This Mother’s Day weekend, let’s examine our lives carefully and set goals to cut out those bad, ugly parts of our reflections and work harder on beautifying our image for all those that see.  So that we might show the love of Christ in our lives. Let’s do it for our sons, and our daughters, and those around us.  Let’s do it to see our churches vibrant and growing again.  Let’s do it for the Lord God.  Let’s do it so that we can say just like Paul – Go ahead and follow me!  Let me be your example!  Mark me and walk as I do!

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

Chamblissburg Baptist has had many good examples…But we are getting old, the old examples are passing, we need new examples who can say… 
Come on girls follow me!
Follow me as I follow Christ!" 

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Thank you!  And Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I wish each church that give out prizes on Mother's Day for the oldest mother, the youngest mother, and all that would give out a prize to the woman with the most children in full-time work for the Lord!  You get the prize, Mom.  You get it here on earth as you share in our ministries and our joys, and you will receive crowns in heaven from the Lord himself.

P.S.  Daddy,  I'm already working on an article just for you for Father's Day. It will be an original never before published work, since they've never asked me to do the devotionals for a Father's Day thing at church before!

Love you both!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Michele! I really enjoyed this! It is such a blessing being raised in a Christian home! I needed to be reminded of every word...I need to do more for the Lord! I hope I'm setting a good example for my children! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to read the one on Father's!!!!
    Denise White

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