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Friday, July 20, 2007

With Bill Hoke
Bill Hoke

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"My Friendship Collection"

"At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged" (Acts 28:15).

I collect eagles, not real ones but figurines. I have eagles made of wood, crystal, glass, ceramic, metal and composite materials as well as pictures of eagles and eagle calendars. Apart from being one of my favorite winged creatures they remind me of a number of Scriptures that allude to the eagle.

I also "collect" friends. The most long standing friend I have is Dave Simpson whom I met in first grade. We will visit with him and his wife Sandy in a couple of weeks out in Springfield, Missouri. I just received an encouraging note from Mike Matangelo, a friend for nearly 30 years, who now lives in North Carolina.  I have friends I've collected from all over the world. In fact there's quite a few on this mailing list and interestingly some I have never met face to face but I interface with regularly via the internet.

Bill Hoke is a relatively new friend. I met him in 2001 shortly after moving to Pennsylvania from New England. But just the last couple of days he demonstrated two characteristics of what we all desire in friends.

I had a tough day Wednesday. A sump pump malfunctioned and we had a minor flood in our basement and this isn't the first time this has happened. I scrambled to clean up the water and devised another way of getting the water out of our house to a drain field, which involved drilling holes through 11 inches of wall including masonry. Galen, another friend, lent me a powerful drill and long masonry bits for this project.

I missed an afternoon meeting I'd planned to attend and that evening Bill called to say he and some other friends had missed me at the meeting and wanted to see if I was OK.  It's nice to be missed isn't it!

Yesterday morning I called Bill to ask him a question.  The phone rung a long time so I nearly hung up. Finally he answered and after my greeting he excitedly told me, "At the very moment you called I was having my quiet time and was praying for you and Brooksyne. I was asking God to open more doors in regard to your corporate chaplain ministry."  That was sure encouraging! Bill has himself hit some turbulence in life and yet he remains interested in others and continues to be an encourager.

I am thankful for each of my friends and greatly value my friendship collection. In the classic movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" I'm always touched at the end when George Bailey receives the note from Clarence that states "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."

The daily verse, although rather obscure, has meant a great deal to me for many years.  One day I was reading and this phrase just sort of jumped out at me as it is pictorially describes the warm setting.   The long journey to Rome for Paul was wearying and now as he finally approached the great city some friends had made the effort to come out to greet him.  I smile as I picture the scene since I've had similar experiences and fondly remember them.
 "At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged." 

"At the sight of these men..."  I know people like that.  Even at a distance the sight of them is a source of joy and encouragement to Paul.  It might not be their physical presence but a phone call or an email message.  Some people are "energy givers"; others are "energy drainers".  Everyone brightens a room, either when they enter or when they exit.  I sure want to be an energy giver and brighten rooms by my presence rather than my absence. 

"Paul thanked God and was encouraged."  God received thanksgiving due to this friendship.  Surely God was pleased.  The Amplified Bible states that Paul "thanked God and received new courage." I know people who do that for me.  Ecclesiastes 4:10 states "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

Today I ask you, "How's your friendship collection?"  Who can you encourage?  Who can you greet or contact who needs a spiritual uplift?  What friend needs a call?  Here's two great phrases; "I miss seeing you" and "I'm praying for you."  May the Lord give all of us a growing friendship collection!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, I thank You for the friends who've come alongside me in my walk of faith.  They rejoice with me in times of celebration and accomplishment.  They express deep concern during my times of loss and heartache.  Their caring actions confirm their sincere interest as they seek to physically meet my needs.  Help me to be the kind of friend to others that I seek for myself.  Above all, I am grateful for the divine friendship I have with You and the fellowship that I enjoy day and night.  Amen.

PS: We leave this morning for a wedding in Virginia and will see some long-time friends!

Today's suggested music:
"Circle of Friends"
"A friend Like You"

"Friend of God"

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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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