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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Decorated cart
Here's the first of our autumn 2007 Lancaster County roadside decorations.  As we travel throughout the region we always enjoy people's fall decorations that make their landscape even more colorful.

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"God's Strength"

"Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees" (Hebrews 12:12).

The last several weeks my knee has been hurting. This is a result of an injury I had in college over 30 years ago. Periodically it flares up and at one point about 10 years ago I had arthroscopic surgery which helped for many years. Now I suppose I am also dealing with the pain that comes with aging as we encounter a lot of people in my age bracket that have knee problems in one way or another.  Well there's only one reference in the Bible to weak knees so let's take a look today!

The nature of the ministry Brooksyne and I have places us in contact with a lot of hurting people. It may be those we see as chaplains or those we hear from through this writing ministry. Just yesterday a long time reader (whom we have never met) wrote and shared in detail concerning her young child's recently diagnosed heart problems.  She wanted prayer and some perspective from Brooksyne since we also have dealt with Ester's heart disease for 18 years now.

An occupational hazard of "people work" is either failing to really sense the pain others are going though (becoming desensitized) or of burning out. Many in ministry for Christ will know what I mean. We need to prayerfully be cautious about either of these dangers.

Our daily text comes from a section of Hebrews where followers of Christ are implored to be persevering.  The chapter begins with a call to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us." This is one of the great Biblical texts describing the long-term nature of our service for Christ. The strenuous race we run is not a brief sprint but a life-long marathon.

The verse that immediately precedes our daily text states that "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (12:11).  As we run the race for Christ sometimes everything just seems to be going great; runners describe this by using the terms, "having the wind" or being "in pace".

But at other times the going is really tough.  These providential hard times are ultimately a part of God's disciplinary work in our lives. 

Are your arms feeble or your knees weak today?  Are you dealing with setbacks that weary you along the way?  Strengthen or lift up your arms today in faith and praise to God.  This must primarily be an act of willful obedience rather than an emotional response.  As you lift them up in obedience I believe you will experience the uplifting spiritual, physical and mental revitalization that Isaiah writes about in 40:29, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

Be strong and take courage, do not fear or be dismayed,
For the Lord will go before you, and His light will show the way,
Be strong and take courage, do not fear or be dismayed,
For the One who lives within you will be strong in you today.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we are encouraged and emboldened when we consider that in everything we experience today You go before us preparing the way.  As we wait upon You in prayer and faith we are renewed in our strength physically and spiritually.  Thank You for physical renewal that meets our needs here and now.  And thank You most especially for Your spiritual renewal that not only meets our needs here and now but for all eternity.  Amen.

Septic cleaning truck
"A Little Foolishness" My second posting is an informative reflection on my septic tank cleaning experience yesterday. This new blog is in part inspired by one I've been enjoying the last several weeks. Now not everybody appreciates or even "gets" satire but today's posting is really funny and a sad comment on the state of many churches and the techniques they use to reach people.  We ate at Lambert's Cafe last month and I have a photo up of our experience.

Last night I went to a meeting with the authors of a new book concerning the Amish schoolhouse shootings here in Lancaster County last year. It's really a remarkable demonstration of grace and the authors, who are scholars on Amish life, dealt with the underlying Amish spiritual understanding that prompts this forgiveness. Today Brooksyne and I plan to drop by and visit our Amish friends Jesse and Anna and their children.

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended TragedyAmish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy
By Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt & David L. Weaver-Zercher / Jossey-bass - On October 2, 2006, a gunman killed five Amish girls in a Pennsylvania hamlet. A stunned nation watched as the children were laid to rest---and as their grieving parents forgave the murderer. How could they pardon such a heinous act? The authors explore this question and reveal how God's mercy can triumph in our vengeful world. This book examines the Amish understanding of forgiveness and explores how and why the Amish responded to the killing at Nickel Mines with grace. It also asks if Amish practices parallel or diverge from other religious and secular notions of forgiveness, and addresses the matter of why forgiveness became news. "All the religions teach it," mused an observer, "but no one does it like the Amish." Regardless of the cultural seedbed that nourished this story, the surprising act of Amish forgiveness begs for a deeper exploration. How could the Amish do this? What did this act mean to them? And how might their witness prove useful to the rest of us? 288 pages, hardcover from Jossey-Bass
More information and ordering info.

Today's suggested music:
"Be Strong and Take Courage" (Audio) The chorus to this song are posted today in the message.

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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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"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"