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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


"Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass" (Mark 6:39). "He makes me lie down in green pastures" (Psalm 23:2).  "They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him'" (Psalm 92:14,15).

Yesterday we drove up toward the Poconos where I made a prison visit. The landscape changes considerably in that direction as we crossed several mountain ridges, including the Appalachian Trail. The tree covered mountains were a vibrant green except for a number that were stripped by the gypsy moths which had done great damage.

My prison visit was with a young man who committed a series of crimes in his youth culminating in an act that has placed him in prison for many, many years. He has turned to the Lord and begun the process of spiritual growth. We prayed and shared Scripture together. He has become an avid student of the Bible and has committed large portions to memory including all of Psalm 119. He is seeking to stay in those green pastures that God has provided recognizing the lies of Satan that would make us believe that the more desirable green pastures are on the other side of the fence.

I like the color green. We have a large front lawn and after the rain it seems to really respond to a bright, sunny day. It's a stunning shade of green indicating health and vitality. What makes the grass so green? What drop of rain, what ray of sunshine, or what specific nutrient drawn from the rich soil made the difference? Of course that question is ridiculous. We know there are many factors that contribute to the vitality of the grass and plant life.  And there are also many factors that contribute to the spiritual health and vitality of the believer, staying fresh and green and still bearing fruit in old age.

When I was in Bible College in the mid-seventies I recall a specific statement made by a professor that really impacted me and heightened my love for God's Word. He pointed out the importance of looking at the detail contained in the Scriptures and called our attention to the "green grass" description in the daily text. Although all four gospels share the story of the feeding of the five thousand, only Mark includes the detail that the grass was green. The professor pointed out that this was likely a clue indicating the season that this event took place. That may be so, but perhaps Mark also really liked green!

We are all able to recall specific points in our faith journey; a spiritual experience we had, a certain sermon that really touched our heart or a book we read that had a "lifechanging" effect upon us. Depending upon how long we have followed Christ we may have read and studied the Scriptures for thousands of hours, heard hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Bible-based sermons, read many good books, etc.  I calculate that I have prepared and presented some 4,000 sermons and teachings during the course of my ministry.

Yet I sure don't remember all I've read from the Word (too often it seems I forget right after I read it). I certainly can't recall every sermon I heard or preached. Actually I can only specifically remember a small percentage. I am an avid reader and have read hundreds of books but I only remember a few. Has it all been a waste? Of course not!

Here's a vital spiritual truth to encourage you today. Our progress in spiritual growth, like the green grass or the green leaves on a tree, is mostly a result of the composite, accumulative effect of being exposed to spiritually enriching material over time.  Read attentively as you study the Scriptures and listen carefully to God's servants as they preach the Word. But remember, spiritual growth is taking place as you day by day fully commit to a life that is surrendered to our blessed Saviour.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's prayer: Dear Jesus, Your principles teach me that time spent reading the Word, meditating upon it and applying it to my life makes a vital difference in my Christian walk.   Spending time with other believers and learning from their examples, as well as their testimony, is another way You've brought positive change into my life.  Hearing sermons that cause me to think and often move me to more fully surrender my heart to You has brought about foundational growth in my life.  I'm grateful for those who love me enough to keep me accountable to the commitment I've made to live a godly life.  Thank You for the spiritual health and vitality You provide as I graze on the bounty of Your abundant life-giving "green pastures."

Brooksyne's note: Stephen, Ester and I went on the trip together but only he was allowed to make the prison visit.  We took a couple of photos on the trip which we've included below.  On the plus side, of being excluded from the visit at the prison, there was a mall located just up the road from the prison.  Stephen dropped Ester and me off and didn't return for about four hours.  Needless to say we had our fill of shopping for a while, but a personal note to the ladies:  I landed upon one store that was changing owners and about half the store was 80% off.  I certainly had fun looking and making purchases in this store without Stephen giving me "the look" or as his impatience grows, "Come on, Brooksyne.  You've had enough time. Let's go…" etc. etc.

Stephen's note: Due to prison security I was not able to take a phone into the prison. The young man I visited was very receptive and I felt I needed a lengthy visit to encourage him but was also concerned for Brooksyne and Ester when the visit took so long. (Ester was already worried that I was going into a high level security prison.)  When I finally left and was able to call them I was relieved that they had managed to use the time and they were glad to hear from me!

Photo of horse painted on barn
These folks had their horse painted on their barn!

Photo of flowers in tree stump
We enjoyed this creative use of a tree stump!

Technical note: Friday I had problems with the server that hosts the site and switched to a different server. Any email from early Friday morning through mid day Saturday was lost and we did not receive it.  This also includes messages using the webform on the comments page, which delivers the messages to me using email.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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