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Monday, September 17, 2007

Mike and Kathy Matangelo with Tina
Mike and Kathy Matangelo along with Tina in front of our Morning Glory archway.

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"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

We had a great weekend visit with our long-time friends Mike and Kathy Matangelo, along with their youngest daughter, Tina.  (Our daughter, Ester, calls Tina her sister since they were both born in Guatemala and came to live in our homes within a year of each other.)   I first met Mike thirty years ago today on Saturday, September 17, 1977 when he stopped by our house to inquire about the church Brooksyne and I were starting. We had just moved up to Saint Marys, Pennsylvania from the Springfield, Missouri area where we had gone to college.

Mike was a young electrical engineer who peppered us with questions concerning our intentions and expressed his heart to serve the Lord. The next day he and his family were in church for the very first service and they became real pillars in that fledgling congregation and have been a tremendous blessing to Brooksyne and me ever since and to many, many others. It's interesting that Mike had his thirtieth birthday on the very day the church had its first meeting. Mike and Kathy have children all over the country serving the Lord.

I've been blessed by our daily verse for many years.  I suppose that's in part because the preacher in me sees a ready-made three-point sermon outline.  Can you see it?  Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, begins the letter to the Thessalonians in a manner typical to his style.  He so often expressed thankfulness for and assurance of prayer to the recipients of his letters.  It's so important to be thankful for those to whom we minister and that they have an assurance of our prayers.

I want to especially consider the last phrase today.  Paul is remembering their "endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."  The Scriptures frequently stress the character quality of "endurance".  The underlying Greek word "hupomone" is used frequently in Scripture.  It has the sense of remaining, bearing trials, having fortitude.  My observation in Christian life and service is that it's one of the character traits most lacking among Christ's followers today.  That's why I especially rejoice when I hear of a fellow plodder staying on course. 

This endurance is inspired by "hope".  What a great inspiration for endurance!  I still recall a professor noting that the Greek word for hope (elpis) conveys an absolute certainty, not a wishful thought.  The foundation of this hope is "our Lord Jesus Christ."

What a joy that Mike and Kathy are demonstrating this endurance and, as they progress through the cycle of life, continue to proclaim "He's Been faithful to me!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, we continually remember the work of our fellow believers that is produced by faith, their labor that is prompted by love, and their endurance that is inspired by the hope they have in the Lord Jesus Christ.  How grateful we are for the love and fellowship we enjoy with our brothers and sisters who serve You all throughout the world.  What an indescribable time we're going to have in heaven with You in the very midst of Your people.  Amen.

Note from Brooksyne:  Before Mike and Kathy left our home yesterday we conversed around the table and I shared an experience I had earlier that morning before others had risen from their sleep.  I'd turned on Christian Radio and
"He Giveth More Grace", one of my favorite hymns played during the hymn hour.  Since I enjoy every word of this stirring hymn I stopped my food preparation and hung onto every word as I began to worship the Lord.  One line in particular stood out, "When we have reached the end of our hoarded resources our Father's full giving has only begun."  I considered how much I pray for those who are unsaved or those in a backslidden state to come to the end of their own "hoarded" resources and look to God because His resources are not hurtful or destructive.  Instead they're inexhaustible and always have an eternal, redemptive quality about them.  We often have to endure great heartache as we watch our loved ones pulling from their seemingly endless "bucket" of foolish resources until they become persuaded that their way is not the right way and finally look to God.  I pray for all who are undergoing this kind of heartache today with a child, parent, spouse, sibling, friend, co-worker or whomever God has laid on your heart.  May God fill you with His enduring hope as you wait for your loved one to come to Christ so that he or she can experience the generosity of a loving, saving, giving God.

Some more photos of our weekend

Kitchen Kettle Village street musicians
We visited the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse Pennsylvania
and enjoyed the bluegrass music of these street musicians.

Amish farmer on Main Street in Intercourse, PA
An Amish farmer going about his work on the major road through Intercourse, PA.

Thomas the tank engine
This was a Thomas the Tank weekend at the Strasburg Railroad
and we passed right by as we drove into Strasburg.

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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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