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Monday, May 19, 2008

Jerel and Fran Book
Jerel and Fran Book

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"Genuine Disciples"

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:18).

Christianity is often maligned and ridiculed in many parts of our world, certainly including here in the US. The secular media and arts often mock our faith in Jesus Christ. Blaspheme my Lord, call it "art", and you just might get a huge government grant.  Sadly, many of the programs on the "Christian" TV stations are not representative of what I believe or practice as a follower of Christ.  But genuine disciples of Christ are planted all over the world today living out their faith in relative obscurity, usually seen only by God and those in their small area of influence.

Jerel Book is a retired pastor who attends our rural church.  He and his wife, Fran, also attend the same small Bible Study group as Brooksyne and I. We received a call from our small group co-leader letting us know they wanted to help the Weber family with some meals during Brooksyne's surgery and recovery.  Saturday night the Books stopped by, along with their son Mike, and brought us a delicious lasagna meal.

Jerel and Fran have both had some severe physical setbacks the last several years but are trusting God for each day of good health. They both use canes to get around and yet they walked up both flights of stairs to Brooksyne's recovery room (formerly, our bedroom) and spent some time visiting. Mike, who is a faithful deacon in our church, then prayed for Brooksyne and our family.  We were strengthened and encouraged by these dear folks and others who have stopped in as well!

Now there's not one reader who would have any idea this happened unless I told you. There weren't any TV cameras zooming in on our little room and the paparazzi has zero interest in our family. What happened in our home early Saturday evening happened scores of times at that very moment all over the world.  Acts of compassion are continually happening as we "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Genuine disciples lovingly serving others in the name of Jesus Christ is modeled in the Bible and carried out in the lives of believers day after day.  In many cases these are brothers and sisters who reach out to others in Christian compassion but have never personally met the recipients of their kind acts or generous gifts.

Before Jesus went to the Cross he gave a lengthy teaching recorded in John's gospel that includes chapter 14. In our first daily text He teaches a distinguishing mark of the true disciple: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  Coming out of Bible College this verse and a small booklet titled "The Mark Of The Christian" by Francis Schaeffer heavily influenced my understanding of Christianity. As many believers already know, the word "love" in this verse comes from the Greek word "agape" which speaks of an "in spite of" type of love.  Brooksyne and I were so impressed with this Greek word that we named the church we established in St. Marys, Pennsylvania "AGAPE" in 1977. It took a few years for the community to learn that the name of our church was not speaking of "agape" as in "mouth open" but as in "the love of Christ."

The second daily text somewhat intrigues me, for surely there is an appropriate use for verbally expressing love. I believe John is saying, "let us not love with words or tongue" only, for there is plenty of talk about love and merely saying it is not enough.  Genuine disciples expressing genuine love need to back their verbal expressions with loving actions in accordance to God's Word.  Today let us indeed love one another in words and in deed as we demonstrate genuine discipleship!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, may we be people who are quick to notice the ways in which we can be of special blessing to others.  It seems quite easy when it comes to those whom we befriend.  We often recognize their need before they express it and find genuine fulfillment in being Your hand extended to them.  But You challenge us to go even further in making ourselves available to our enemies with whom it is not natural to provide for their needs.  In expressing agape love to those around us we love in spite of what we see or have experienced.  May all that we do, on behalf of others, be an expression of Your divine touch in the form of Christian service.  It is in Your strength and compassion that we can do that which is unnatural to our human nature, but natural to our redeemed spirit.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  As you may have noted from our message today we are once again recipients of the kindness and generosity of others; friends, family members, neighbors, church folks, daily encouragement readers, and otherwise.  I am grateful for your prayers, notes, and well-wishes as I underwent surgery on Friday.  The doctors said: "It could not have gone better.  You were marvelous."  Well, you and I know that I had nothing to do with the "marvelous" results but God has blessed me with very good health through the years and it likely contributed to the overall success of the surgery.   But, of course, I know the prayers of the saints guided the surgeons and assistants through the process.

The doctor said, due to the extreme pain of ankle surgery, they recommended a nerve block pre-op.  This is a procedure in which medicine is injected directly into or around nerves near the injury to block pain.  In addition to the technician who was inserting the IV there were four other men dressed in their scrubs standing over me with their needles searching for these nerve spots from my knee downward to the ankle.  One suddenly asked, "Are you OK?"  It was especially in that fearful setting that I felt a great sense of God's peace come over me.  Like the vast majority I prefer to use needles for sewing fabrics not piercing my skin, but I could honestly answer their question that I was OK.  God's peace overrode the potential fear that I would have experienced had it not been for the prayers of the believers.  As I told several others, I felt as though I was wrapped in prayer.  It made all the difference.  Thank you so much!

There's some lingering ankle pain but overall I am on the road to recovery.    I received a phone call this morning from a friend who, along with her daughter, wants to come and pull weeds in my flower gardens.  Wow, I am humbled but very grateful for how God speaks to the hearts of those who care about others' hardships.

Pierce family
Yesterday our friends Ken and Nila brought over pizza and joined us for lunch. David is sure growing up!  Here's a photo we took the day he was born with Pastor Bob holding him in the hospital.

Ashley Larrimore

Ashley Larrimore is a young lady from the church we served in New England. When we moved there in 1993 Ashley was just 8 years old and already had a desire to be a medical doctor.  We left that area in early 2001 but have stayed in contact with her folks. Her dad, Andy, initially set up the daily encouragement net website in 1999. Last week he wrote that Ashley would be going to Guatamala for a special time of language and culture immersion.  He thought that would be special to us because of Ester. Ashley taught Ester to ride a bike which took several years for her to catch on.

She is now a student at the George Washington University Medical School in Washington, DC. Last night Brooksyne and I both visited with her over the phone and she testifies that she is staying faithful to the Lord, a blessing every pastor desires to hear!

Today's Suggested Music  and Supplemental Resources

"They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love"  Video  This was a popular song when I was a young Christian and still has a great message so needed today.

"Mighty to Save"
Video  This song has been on Brooksyne's heart for several days.  She especially likes the repeated line, "He conquered the grave."  If Jesus conquered the grave there's nothing too difficult for Him to conquer in our lives!

Note: As I've mentioned before I am aware that I am increasingly using these embedded videos for musical supplement rather than an audio file. As I search for related music it just seems more is available through a video than audio. In fact I couldn't find the song "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" as a plain audio but several videos are available. Here's another one directly on Youtube.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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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