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Friday, February 9, 2007

Red & Elsie
Red and Elsie, along with Brooksyne

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"Old Disciples"

"There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge” (Acts 21:16).

Throughout my Christian journey I have been enriched by the variety of people God has brought into my life.  One particular blessing we enjoy in our current short-term interim roles is that we meet a lot of people with different backgrounds and from various locales.

Red is a very colorful man who attends the church we’ve been serving since last August.  During the Second World War he served in the Navy in the Pacific while still a teenager. His aircraft carrier (the Hornet CV8) was sunk by kamikaze pilots in 1942.  Incredibly, he, along with three other men, clung to a log for seventeen days prior to being rescued.

In his late twenties Red accepted the Lord as His Savior. He later experienced heartache when his first wife died leaving him with a teenage son to raise. Sometime later he met Elsie, a Christian woman, while he was driving her tour bus.  After a time of courtship he and Elsie married and have been husband and wife for over thirty years.  He was a bus driver after returning from the service and drove for 55 years without a single accident.

Red demonstrated his true person this last Wednesday evening after church when an older woman, recently widowed, had a sudden drop in her sugar level.  She couldn’t rise from the pew and it appeared that she might go into a diabetic coma.  Red stood over her during the entire ordeal until her sugar level finally rose (after a young man ran to his house the next block over and brought her some orange juice.)  Red is a diabetic and has experienced similar symptoms so his concern was warranted and his compassion was evident.

Mnason barely made it into the Scriptural record.  His name only appears once, here in the daily text.  I'm intrigued by the phrase "old disciple.” Luke felt it fitting to call our attention to Mnason's age.  (He would have a hard time as a journalist in America with such an “insensitive” description!  We like to use more gentle terms such as senior citizen, elderly, older.)

But the KJV is blunt and accurately describes him. (The Greek word for “old” is archaios from which we get the English “archaic.”) Mnason means "remembering".  He hosted Paul during his final trip to Jerusalem in 60 A.D.  We have no idea of his spiritual background, but he was from Cyprus where Paul had earlier done missionary work.

I appreciate "old disciples".  They have a great deal to “remember” as they’ve experienced so many of life’s trials and God’s providential care.  They teach us as we observe from a distance the challenges they encounter and their response to them.  Speaking of life’s trials Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4, “We serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies.”

As human beings we recognize that we all live in "perishable containers" that physically weaken over the years, but our spirit grows stronger as it is being renewed by the resurrected power of Christ. I have a feeling Paul and his associates benefited from the time they stayed with Mnason as he was "remembering" with Paul the times God had done great works in his life.

What about you today, do you know some old disciples?  I hope so! If you're not around older folks on a regular basis, that's one of the benefits of attending an ingtergenerational church.  Let these precious folks know you appreciate them and welcome their input in your life.

Are you an "old disciple?"  God's not finished using you till He takes you home.  Keep sharing with the generations that follow and stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, the light and power of Your glory now shines within our perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies.  You plan it this way so that all can see that our glorious power is not our own but from You.  In the midst of our trials and suffering, we pray that our bodies constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.  That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed everyday.  Our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long, yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! Our troubles will soon be over, but our joys will last forever.  Father, keep this eternal perspective foremost in my heart and mind as I encounter the trials of this day.  Amen.

(Prayer inspired by 2 Corinthians 4)

Personal note: This Sunday will be our final Lord’s Day at the church near Harrisburg, PA we have been serving as interim pastor since August. The following weekend we speak at a chaplain’s retreat but will be returning to the church for a special farewell meal and gathering that Sunday evening, February 18. Following that we have a number of speaking opportunities but are seeking the Lord’s will in regard to another interim pastoral role, which we have been doing since the summer of 2005. We appreciate the prayers of our daily encouragement readers during this time!  Daily Encouragement has grown a lot over the past couple years, so much so, that we both consider our main ministry to be preparing and sharing these daily messages.  Preparing, writing, editing, technical work and follow-up, take up about 4 to 5 hours each day for both of us, so we appreciate ministry opportunities that compliment our commitment to this ministry.  Certainly the interim pastoral role and corporate chaplaincy are two ministries that work very nicely into our daily encouragement schedule and keep us in face to face ministry with people like Red, with whom we can share the love of Christ.

Brooksyne's Note:  It seems that our conversations center around the cold weather these days since we've been in single digits (at night) all week.  I wrote to a dear Christian friend in New Haven, MA yesterday where they're having very blustery cold weather as well.  I chuckled to myself as I wrote, "We're enjoying the heat of the coal stove by day and the warmth of the heating blanket by night.  Sort of like Moses and the Israelites who were led by the cloud by day and the fire by night." God provides for our needs, whatever they are!

Men's Breakfast
I not only enjoy photography but also digitally editing. People from the church got a real kick out of this "doctored" photo taken when several of us had breakfast together.  I teased that the men are all "Red Wanna-be's."  The real photo is here.

As we prepare today's encouragement a song that comes to mind that reinforces the message is "Find Us Faithful" Here's a nice local church audio version (mp3)

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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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