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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Stained glass cross
Stained glass cross

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"The Everlasting God"
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom" (Isaiah 40:28).
Yesterday we attended the Celebration service for a friend of ours we had met in 2001 through our chaplain ministry.  For the last several years Craig, 49 years old, had a debilitating disease which progressively weakened his strong, athletic body. I mentioned his passing briefly yesterday in a footnote. The service was an outstanding recognition of a life lived well and for the glory of God. It was one of those services you leave with a strong sense of the presence of God and the joyful reminder of what we have to look forward to when we're promoted to God's eternal Kingdom. Let me share a little about the service in today's message in memory of Craig and in honor of his family.
My spirit was so uplifted as we began to sing with blended voices the time honored hymns like "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "Amazing Grace."  We also sang the great classic hymn, "How Great Thou Art" and a key change came just before we came to the final verse which only added to the intensity of which believers felt in this kind of setting; "When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home what joy shall fill my heart…"  Our voices swelled in the midst of the glorious presence of the Holy Spirit as we proclaimed together in song and imagined the future scene within out hearts, "Then I shall bow in humble adoration and there proclaim, 'My God how great Thou art'"! All ages were represented with a wide variety of denominational backgrounds and inevitably many different musical tastes, but all these differences blended into a precious harmonious unity as we worshiped together the Living God.
There were many touching tributes in the funeral service and most heart-rending were the tributes by his two older children who, though they struggled emotionally, pressed on to express their tremendous love and esteem for their dad.
Craig had a vision for a stain-glassed cross for the front of their new church sanctuary but his disease had so limited his motor skills that he was unable to use his hands. Determined to the end, he painstakingly described the intricate project piece by piece, and Katie, his 19 year old daughter, essentially became his hands and they completed the project just this summer. Just looking at the stain-glassed cross on the front wall of the sanctuary and knowing the story behind it was so moving during the service. *
As Craig's disease progressed he needed to wear an oxygen mask and his daughter described removing the mask for a moment so her dad could speak and he resolutely declared, "Praise the Lord."  That's genuine faith that we all hope to experience till we draw our last breath, no matter what way God chooses for us to leave behind these mortal bodies.
Early in the service Pastor Joe Sherer, a friend of ours, acknowledged the mystery of God's ways as many people had been praying fervently for Craig's healing here on earth.  I appreciate that type of candid honesty from a pastor. Of course we don't understand and the latter part of today's portion states, "His understanding no one can fathom."  What blessed consolation to know that even when we don't see physical healing on this side we can be confident that believers will experience healing in its fullness on the other side. 

I want to especially feed on one phrase from today's Scripture portion, "The LORD is the everlasting God." These words were written some 2,700 years ago. Let us declare along with the prophet of God and the people of faith through the ages both on this earth and in heaven, "The LORD is the everlasting God."
One thing I know that I have found
Through all the troubles that surround
You are the Rock that never fails
You never fail
You never change,
You're still the same
You are the Everlasting God
You will remain
After the day is gone and things of earth have passed
Everlasting God
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer:  Father, though life is full of many changes and though challenges are always before us we walk not in our own strength but in Your strength, for You never grow tired or weary.  You understand the happenings in our lives and how they are working for our eternal good even when we are perplexed or struggling to trust Your plan.  Thank You, Father, for giving us hope, not in the present circumstance but in Your sovereign will for our lives.  It is You who renews our strength so that we can soar on wings like eagles who rise above the storm clouds.  As we, by faith, rise above the troubling circumstances of life, we will walk steadily without falling for You walk alongside us and uphold us with Your loving hand.  In the marvelous Name of Jesus we praise You. Amen.

Note from Brooksyne: As we shared our reflections about Craig's devoted life and how God saw him through the best and worst of times, I thought about the daily encouragement readers who are confined to their beds or wheel chairs.  We hear from those of you who've been injured in accidents or stricken with a debilitating disease.  There are some of you who listen to our voices because you're unable to see the screen, and likely there are those of you who read our message because you're unable to hear our voices.  May God give you a special word this day as His promises are for all His people who patiently trust Him.  He will provide for whatever need you have and sustain you physically, emotionally and spiritually as you continue to trust Him with all your heart.

* Here's a well-written article in the Lancaster newspaper about the stained glass cross project.

Today's suggested music:
"Everlasting God" (Audio) This was the song used at the end of today's message. See below to oder the CD or DVD.
"Blessed Be Your Name" (Audio)

Last night we said farewell to Junnbug, another very good friend we met through our chaplaincy four years ago, who will be moving to his native Puerto Rico in several weeks.  He has been to our home for fellowship many times and often worked in the vegetable and flower gardens with Brooksyne. Since he lived in the city he was glad to get out and work the soil! I was sharing encouragement from Proverbs 3:5,6 as Brooksyne took the photo.

Roadside flower arrangement
Yesterday we drove by a roadside stand in front of a farmhouse selling bouquets of freshly cut flowers. The stand was self-serve with a small box to place the money in (honor system). It had a hand-written note stating to the effect, "Please leave the glass jars if you can."
Ah, the simplicity of country life!

My Savior Lives DVD Today's featured song "Everlasting God" (listen) is on the "My Savior Lives" CD or DVD and may be ordered here:
My Savior Lives CD       My Savior Lives DVD

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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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