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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Puckett Cabin on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southern Virginia
Puckett Cabin on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southern Virginia.

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"The Old Order Of Things"

"What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground" (Genesis 4:10).  "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

We have a custom in our home of praying whenever we hear of specific tragedies through the news, whether or not we know the people who were affected. Certainly, many of you do the same and surely we are all praying for the families and friends of the fallen victims yesterday at Virginia Tech.

We are regularly reminded of death; death in wars, famines, floods, the tsunami. Today many in our spiritual family will die as a result of persecution. In each area of the world there will be accidents that take lives and of course diseases that will either maim or kill. Many would agree that the most senseless and perhaps the most hurtful type of loss is when there is bloodshed due to a reckless, irrational, and hate-filled murderer.  In the first daily verse we have a perspective from God concerning the first murder.  Undoubtedly some reading this are presently feeling the "sting" of the death of a loved one, maybe even that of a student or faculty member from Virginia Tech.

Down the road from our house is an old cemetery established around 1800. One old tombstone, barely readable, has a solemn reminder:

Remember friend as you pass by.
As you are now so once was I.
As I am now so you must be.
Prepare for death and follow me.

You might want to re-read the poem and ponder its message for a bit.  Perhaps it's worth reprinting and placing in a prominent place to be reminded of this fleeting world and the importance of preparing for eternity.

Today's message will be more sobering than most but does indeed end with a promise of encouragement. Statistics tell us that each day some 155,000 people worldwide die.* Death is simply part of the present "order of things" in which we are now living.

Of all who have ever lived only Enoch and Elijah escaped death. The Bible teaches that the generation of believers living at the time of Christ's glorious return will also escape death and be caught up together with their deceased brothers and sisters in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Many believe that we may very well be that generation, but in fact many earnest believers in previous generations have also believed this.  Only God knows the day and the hour.

We look for encouragement and comfort in the truths and promises of the Holy Scriptures. The enemy of death will one day be destroyed. The perishable will be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. Death will be swallowed up in victory.  When the old order of things has passed away there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.  Our recent celebration of Easter keeps us mindful of this glorious Biblical truth where our risen Christ overpowered death.

In the meantime we will indeed deal with death and grief, but not like those who have no hope, for we have hope based on the Bible's promises. Therefore, we comfort and encourage you all with these words today. One day there will indeed be no more death.  The old order of things will pass away!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer – "Jesus, when we consider how many struggles, hardships and temptations we face in our lifetime the weight of these difficulties could overwhelm us. Today some readers are grieving the death of a loved one. God of all Comfort, will You comfort them and give them peace based upon Your promises. Remind them that it is in Your resurrection that we stand victorious in the end when we face our last enemy on this side, because You are our risen Lord! 

We pray for the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the tragedy at Virginia Tech.  May those who were spared search their hearts as they are confronted with the reality of this temporary life.  Jehovah, Rophe, we pray for Your healing touch and enduring strength for the wounded.  May You grant favor and wisdom to Christian counselors who are available to those grieving.  May the souls of young people be saved in the midst of devastating loss so that we can witness the power of good over evil.  God of Justice, I pray that You will give insight, knowledge and solid leads to officials who are trying to piece together the events that took place so that any individual responsible for the horrible tragedy will be taken out of harm's way.  May Satan's devastating plot be foiled by Your divine plan to save unto the uttermost even through horrific events.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: Yesterday's tragic murders at Virginia Tech remind us of the importance of preparing our young people to be ready at anytime to meet their Maker.  Too often parents avoid the topic of death with their teens. The majority of youth today feel invincible as they go about pursuing their goals and having a "good time."  And we as parents expect them to enjoy a full life and have the same experiences in life as we do – schooling, career, marriage, home, family, etc.  I don't believe it is coincidence as much as God's timing that Scripture reading in my personal devotions early this morning would include Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 which provides a great foundation for the poem featured in our devotional today.  When I read the following Scriptures it seemed as though they were highlighted in keeping with the events of the past two days:   "It is better to go to a funeral than to a party.  We all must die, and everyone living should think about this.  Sorrow is better than laughter, and sadness has a good influence on you.  A wise person thinks about death, but a fool thinks only about having a good time."   The last verse describes the atmosphere of most secular college campuses where partying is the overriding theme, but Solomon reminds us of the important truth that death is no respecter of age and it is of utmost importance that we prepare our children not only for life but also for death.

Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 is from the New Century Version

Stephen's note: I suppose I never really gave much thought to a college called Virginia Tech until yesterday (although I had surely read of the school in sport's scores).  I have never known anyone that attended there that I can recall.  I looked on a map to see where it is located and see that I drive very near it when I travel down I-81 to see family and friends in North Carolina. It is not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway where today's photo was taken.  I am sure we will never drive down that way again without recalling the events of yesterday.

Additional written resources:

This morning a request came in for a copy of "The Will of God" which is a beautiful and inspiring poem that may be of personal comfort to you and also provide you with a printable copy to share with others who may benefit. Here's printable .pdf version.

Here are two online booklets available online from RBC.

"When Tragedy Strikes: Finding Security In A Vulnerable World"
Printable .pdf version

"How Can I Live With My Loss?"
Printable .pdf version

Today Brooksyne suggests a Casting Crowns song titled "Praise You In This Storm"
The best sample I could find was from the Casting Crowns site. It's merely a brief sample but has the essence of the song.

"It Is Well" also seems a fitting hymn to share today.
Listen to audio       Video
(From Willingdon Church in British Columbia Canada)

Here's a beautiful instrumental piano version by Joel Rosenberger.

Follow-up on the hot pepper message from last Friday:  Brooksyne mentioned a Jalapeno recipe enjoyed a lot by those she has served.  It was requested by readers so we've included this recipe today.

Jalapeno Quiche

For 11x17 dish:

2 # sharp shredded cheddar cheese
10-12 eggs, beaten
Chili powder, salt & pepper (to taste)
4 oz. candied jalapeno jelly

Pour about 2/3 jar of candied jalapeno and spread over bottom of dish.  Layer cheddar cheese over jalapenos.  Mix eggs with rest of jalapeno jelly with the mixer and add seasonings.  Pour over cheese and jalapeno mixture.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  (You could add parsley flakes, cilantro, etc. as well.)

Hopefully you can purchase candied jalapeno or jalepeno jelly in your area.  It is necessary to have it as the base for the distinctive taste of this recipe.  I'm sure you can purchase it over the internet.

* I found this number by researching on the internet but of course only God really knows.  Here's the webpage where I found this information. 

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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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