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Friday, October 5, 2007

We passed this beautiful mum arrangement yesterday and were particularly struck with the contrasting ready to harvest corn in the background.

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"Faithful Friends"

"Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble" (Proverbs 25:19).

For some time I've had a bad tooth that needs attention.  It's a molar back in my mouth and I continue to put off getting the needed procedure, likely a root canal and possibly a crown.  That's sure not the kind of crown I'm looking forward to!

Many of you can identify with me can't you?  You've had a toothache.  You've gone through several tubes of Orajel.  You've finally gone to the dentist.  If not you've surely had "a lame foot" at some time in your life.  I've had both!  I get the idea that Solomon was speaking from experience as well in this Proverb.

He uses this simile to describe another condition; "reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble."  And most of us have been there as well.  We've felt the sharp sting and deep disappointment of disloyalty and rejection.

However in this encouragement I want to consider the wonderful contribution of true and faithful friends who are there and reliable in the inevitable times of trouble in our lives.  I have many such friends.

Dave goes back over 45 years to first grade and served as the best man in my wedding.  Mike met us just prior to planting our church in Pennsylvania and is still very much a part of our lives.

I still remember his phone call during a time when our church was going through a turbulent period that consisted of no more than a very emotional, "I'm praying for you" left on our answering machine.  I didn't erase that message but played it over and over. Hearing those important words of support from a reliable friend was a healing salve in my distressing wound.

But let me tell you about a wonderful turn-around from that same story. The very incident where Mike shared his supportive message was one of two major attacks I experienced in my 25 years of pastoral service.

Two leaders in the church, dissatisfied with my leadership, attempted to create a stir. This was in the mid-eighties and it resulted in one of them leaving the church. Sadly, his life spiraled downward from that point and, as far as I know, he continues to be an unstable individual to this day.

The other leader chose to work things out and we had a wonderful turn-around in our relationship. He went on to serve as a board member and took other leadership positions in the church.  For many years he was the director at a large youth camp here in PA where he influenced many for Christ. In fact his older daughter met her husband
(to be) at this very camp!

We moved on from that church in the early nineties and he was a blessing to my successor but several years later died of cancer at 43 years. His funeral was a tribute to a life well-lived for Christ and many expressed their love and esteem for him.

His wife still attends the church along with his youngest daughter Sharon and her family. (His oldest daughter, Shawna, lives with her family in southeast PA.)  We met Shawna and Sharon for lunch yesterday (see photos below) and brought Sharon and little Emma to stay with us overnight while her husband who is a police officer is attending a class in nearby E-town.

I like stories that end well, don't you! And I especially like lasting, reliable friends. We need good friends don't we; friends who are loyal and faithful, particularly in times of trouble.  I sure want to be that kind of friend.  I don't want to be like a bad tooth or a lame foot!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, You are a friend that sticks closer than a brother.  It seems that many of our brothers and sisters in the faith are closer than our blood relations because we've been joined together as a family of believers and share common spiritual goals.  Though we're created in the image of God and follow Your example we're still given to human error and do not always apply good judgment which causes division in the body of Christ.  Help us to practice forgiveness and exercise forbearance with one another so that we will be united and faithful to one another in times of trouble.

Shawna and Sharon with kids 10/4/07
We had lunch yesterday at the Shady Maple with Shawna and Sharon who grew up in our church in northern PA. I dedicated Sharon (center of photo) in 1982 and Shawna recalls that one time when staying overnight at our house Brooksyne led her to the Lord. Both girls are now happily married and actively serving the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Shawna and Sharon in 1982
Sharon (Left) and Shawna in 1982

The Shady Maple
The Shady Maple is a huge restaurant well known in these parts.

First pets as married couple 1976Here's the latest entry in my humor blog. I shared this true story many years ago with Daily Encouragement readers but many are new to the ministry and have not read this "tribute" to the dog Brooksyne and I had when we first got married in 1976 titled My dog Enoch.  Many years ago Phil Bongiorno, my former district superintendent here in Pennsylvania, got such a kick out of Enoch's most notable achievement; becoming an "ordained minister"!

Today's suggested music:
"Friends" (Audio)
When we moved on from our church in northern PA in 1993 Shawna and Sharon's dad, who was a high school music teacher, sang this song for us on behalf of the congregation we had founded 16 years earlier. Now 14 years later we have stayed in contact with many of them like Shawna and Sharon! I especially like a line in the song that states, "Friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them." Amen!

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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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