A Legacy Lives On

I wrote this for our church newsletter in honor of the legacy and ministry of our first pastor, Lewis Burkholder Jr.

Red Rose-open

What will people remember about us when we are gone?  They say one of the biggest miracles occurs between the moment of a person’s death and their memorial service.  It is amazing how fast people suffer from amnesia and raise a person to sainthood in those few short hours.  But when the last shovel of dirt fills the gaping hole over our coffin, what will people say and remember? What will be the real stories they tell, the memories that linger and are repeated.  It is a sobering thought and one worthy of serious contemplation.  Even though you may never hear your legacy, you are the writer of the script. Few people change or impact the world but all of us affect one small corner.

It is easy to be nice, gentle, loving and gracious when things are going well. But what happens when the “going gets tough”?  Do we respond with ruthless carelessness, vain talk, spiteful insults or so we respond with the love of Jesus towards our adversaries, soothe a volatile moment with a gracious word, lift a wounded spirit with an encouraging word or give a helping hand to a weary friend?   We chose the way we respond, the way we act and the words we say.

A man who loses his honor or integrity has nothing of value left. Proverbs 25:28  says that “He who has no rule (discipline) over his own spirit is like a city broken down without walls.”  The true heart of a person is revealed in adversity. Proverbs 27:19, 21  “As in water, face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man. The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold. A man is valued (tested) by what others say about him.”

Proverbs is full of godly wisdom and practical advice.   A few verses worthy of consideration are:

  • Proverbs 20:8 The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.
  • Proverbs 18:24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly.
  • Proverbs 10:7 The memory of the righteous is blessed but the name of the wicked will rot.
  • Proverbs 31:10, 28 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.
  • Proverbs 11:16 A gracious woman retains honor but ruthless men retain riches.
  • Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be a peace with him.
  • Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.
  • Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim their own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?

The way I live is the way is the way I will be remembered. And that my friend, is my legacy. That is  how future generations of family and friends will remember me. When my warm body turns cold, my legacy lives on and can never be changed.

When I think of the legacy of our former pastor and friend, Lewis Burkholder, I remember a faithful, godly man with a servant’s heart who was kind, gentle, gracious, funny and wise. He guided our congregation with love and wisdom, giving it a solid foundation built on the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. He visited the sick, loved the sinner, discipled the seeking,  preached the Word, and lived out his faith with integrity and honor. He was not a man seeking status, wealth or fame but a humble farmer raising a family, pastoring a church, and befriending his neighbors, those in need or in prison. Many generations of believers in Powhatan will be blessed because of his faithfulness.

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