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Friday, March 7, 2008

Bass Harbor Lighthouse (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)
Bass Harbor Lighthouse
Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt (used by permission)
Click on the photo for a larger image, suitable for a desktop background.

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"Lead Me To The Rock"

"From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Psalm 61:2).

As I prepare today's message I have my Uncle Jim on my heart. Uncle Jim is my Mom's youngest sister's husband, the last surviving male member of that generation in our family.  I have previously written about him, a member of the "great generation".*

He is now in a hospice situation and has a loving family surrounding him. We have a great extended family and email notices have gone out to the extensive Steincross family network informing them of the situation and requesting prayer.  As we pray for Uncle Jim and Aunt Frances, their three children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren our prayer is, "Lord, lead them to the rock that is higher than any other."

As I consider today's text there's no evidence at all that David traveled any considerable distance from where he lived. Of course travel in ancient times was very difficult and only a few ever traveled very far beyond their own relatively close geographic area.  Yet in a powerful expression of faith David declares, "From the ends of the earth I call to You." 

"I call as my heart grows faint."  Many of you can recall a situation in your life when your heart has grown faint.  Although it's difficult to determine precisely what David meant by this, I surely can identify such times in my life.  Another version states: "when my heart is overwhelmed."

Times like this have occurred in both my personal life and in my service as a minister.  And quite realistically I am aware they will continue to be a part of my experience on this side of eternity.  Yesterday Brooksyne and I experienced a closed door in regard to a short-term ministry opportunity we had both been very excited about (an interim pastoral role). We are both disappointed
(as well as Ester) since we had already been to the church for several services and after meeting many of the congregation we had looked forward to serving.  But previous closed doors in life and ministry have reinforced our faith in God's overall plan!

David cried out to God, "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  In the Scriptures the rock is a common metaphor for God. The first reference to this was in Jacob's blessing to Joseph when he refers to "the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel" (Genesis 49:24).  In Moses’ final sermon to the Israelites before he died he declared: "He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He" (Deuteronomy 32:4). 

All throughout the Psalms the Rock is commonly used in this way to describe the power and stability we have in the Lord.  One wonderful example is Psalm 18:31, "For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?"  The prophets continue the theme: "Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal" (Isaiah 26:4).  The apostle Paul describes the spiritual rock that accompanied the children of Israel, "and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4).

I'm still learning the powerful truth expressed in this statement by H.C.G. Moule.  "There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot, from that situation, create something that is surpassingly good. He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today."

Make this ancient request of the Psalmist your personal plea: "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Lord today I cry out to You. I am so thankful that You hear me regardless of where I may be crying out from or what situation I am in. At times my heart does grow faint and I am overwhelmed.  I ask you to lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. Amen.

Personal note: As mentioned in the message we were looking forward to serving a church in the mountains above Harrisburg for a temporary time as interim pastor, a role that we have both enjoyed and feel we have been a blessing to churches going through a time of transition. Apparently several in the church leadership decided to take another course in regard to dealing with the temporary vacancy.

Since leaving the full-time job I had with a chaplaincy agency in 2004 we have sought involvement in several types of ministry.
1) We consider our main ministry this internet encouragement, which generally takes both of us all morning each weekday to prepare the messages and then followup to specific requests and needs at any time.
2) We now serve several companies directly as chaplains and really enjoy the face to face opportunities. Just last week I had an opportunity to pray with a man whose wife was in the hospital.
3) Recently a door opened to share our encouragement by using our writings with another international ministry.
We simply have not sensed a leading back into full-time long-term pastoral service (which we did for 25 years from 1976-2001).  We feel our ministry is best suited at this point in our lives through the internet and chaplaincy.  However we still enjoy when we have an opportunity to share with a church in a temporary role as "interim pastor", which we have done now in five separate churches.  We will just wait for the next "open door"!  

* Here's a message I wrote about my Uncle Jim that includes a photo of him and my Aunt Frances.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"The Solid Rock"  (Audio) (A contemporary version since I was unable to find a traditional version)

"He Hideth My Soul"  (Instrumental audio

"To The Ends Of The Earth"  (Audio)

"Rock Of Ages"  (Instrumental audio)

"Rock Of Ages"  (Audio)  Not the traditional version

Today's photo is (once again) by Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here.  Howard has also given me permission to place a Scripture verse, hymn portion or part of a quote on his work (as I did today). These work great as desktop background photos to reinforce your faith and encourage others. Although I expect to continue to use my own photography and periodically photos from others who have given me permission, Howard's nature photography is very well suited as I develop pictorial themes such as today's photo.

To make this (or any photo) a desktop background merely right click and select "set as background"

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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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