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Friday, June 27, 2008

Donegal Creek

Donegal Creek Trout Stream
The lavendar "weeds" along the creek are butterfly weeds and will soon be teeming with butterflies.  Last night Ester and I rode our bikes along this trail along with our dog Roxie.

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"Choosing What Is Better"

"As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42).

Yesterday we came home hot and tired after a long day on the road.  Brooksyne continues to have restless nights and deals with some pain associated with her broken ankle.  Yesterday, as she worked with her crutches and wheelchair at several companies we visited, she became very weary by late afternoon. She didn't know that Ester had called me excited about a surprise she had for us when we got home.  She made me promise, "Now don't tell Mom!"

Mary Sweigart, a neighbor and good friend, stopped over in the late morning and told Ester she would like to prepare a meal for us. Ester made chocolate cake for the dessert while Mary prepared our impressive dinner from groceries in her kitchen along with several items from our fridge and freezer. Mary is a diligent worker, well-known in our parts for her fine cooking, flower arranging, and her compassionate heart. She prepared the fine meal, served it to us, and then joined us as we ate together.  We were blessed by her generous heart, the delicious food, and warm fellowship we enjoyed!

Following the meal we shared about Mary and Martha who were sisters in the Bible. (Interestingly, our friend Mary also has a twin sister named Martha.) The sisters in the Bible had personality distinctions and their minor riff makes for an interesting study that leads the earnest believer to self-examination. 

Both Mary and Martha had important duties in making the Lord Jesus feel welcomed in their home.  Actually it was Martha's gift of hospitality that made it possible for Mary to have presence with Jesus since she is the one who opened her home to Him in the first place. Martha was tending to physical needs while Mary was tending to spiritual needs.  Both were important but when one duty rivaled the importance of the other, it was then that Jesus addressed the attitude of the sister's hearts.

I easily identify with Martha's attitude in the daily Scripture portion. I spend way too much time in the "kitchen"* and am easily distracted by the stuff of life in the material, visible realm. Distractions constantly lull me away from "what is better." I really imagine many of you can identify with me.  We commonly prioritize visible accomplishments over inward attitudes of the heart.   This can be seen in an obituary where titles, accomplishments, and interests of the deceased may be listed, but the person's attitude toward life may not even be mentioned.

As I study this portion of Scripture I am especially intrigued with the phrase "Mary has chosen what is better."  She made a willful, purposeful choice to sit at the Lord's feet, listening intently to His every word. She likely dealt with distractions since I can imagine Martha was clanging pots in the kitchen just a little extra loud to get Mary's attention as she was surely muttering under her breath.  But Mary chose to shut her mind to the world and open her heart to Jesus as He spent tender moments in her presence.

"What is better" is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what He has to say. It's focusing on the spiritual, non-visible realm. It's like another Mary, who following the birth of her son, Jesus, "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." It includes reading, studying, meditating and memorizing the Bible along with praise, worship and prayer.  What we store up in our hearts spills out to those around us making an eternal difference.  It goes beyond impressing people to inspiring persons to meet Jesus on a personal level. When we spend time with our Lord we experience the fulfillment and blessing that is at the very heart of living the abundant life.

But at least for me the "kitchen" constantly beckons and the distractions return.

"The Heart of Worship" is a song that reminds me of where my focus needs to be, although I realistically accept that distractions will continually beckon.  I am so thankful for God's patience and grace.  He has time and time again called me back to the heart of worship and He constantly reminds me that this race on earth is really all about Him!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, You know the very intention of all that I say and do.  As I invite You to examine my heart, I lay before You the people and pursuits that drive me further away from a heart of worship.  You have not removed me bodily from this world, but You have raised me up spiritually to abide in Your presence even as I carry out my daily duties.  As Your presence graciously overshadows me it is there that Your love and faithfulness sustains me and gives me a true heart of worship.  Even as a vehicle needs fuel to properly function, I need prayer to uphold and equip me for the day that lies ahead.  Amen. 

* Certainly I am speaking of the "kitchen" in a representative sense for the things that distract and take us away from the good part. As I ponder this subject here are some cautions:

1) Certainly some may be less easily distracted than others and some more spiritually focused, but I have seen this become a dangerous source of pride.
2) I certainly don't believe that Jesus is teaching that all kitchen work is wrong. We really need to consider a balance in Biblical teaching and other Scripture teaches the importance and value of work.
3) We need to graciously recognize we have different callings from God, and not esteem one above the other or feel that others must feel as passionately about our cause as we do.  This leads to arguments, jealousy, and resentment rather than expanding the kingdom of God.
4) Some distractions are God-ordained ministry opportunities.

Brooksyne's Note:  Speaking of "God-ordained ministry opportunities" I had one while preparing our message this morning.  To verify that Mary's sister, Martha, was a twin we put in a call to her home but reached an incorrect number where an elderly man, somewhat confused, picked up the phone.  I apologized for the error and thought no more of it.  About 30 minutes later this same man called me back for further understanding as to why I had called his number in the first place. (He obviously had Caller ID.)   He explained that he lives alone and his wife has been in the nursing home for over a year and she is presently experiencing some health difficulties.  He was afraid that my call had been placed from the nursing home with some troubling news.

I explained the nature of our call but then I picked up on his need for some reassurance regarding his wife.  As we talked it turned out that I knew who his son and family were as well as some mutual friends.  I felt led to pray with him over the phone concerning his wife. Following our prayer time he responded with these words, "I told God this morning I needed some help.  I needed some word from Him to help me in  dealing with my wife's problems.  And now you've called and prayed with me."  I certainly took from his words that this was a God-ordained opportunity to reach out to another in need.  I will follow up with a note through the mail since he gave me his address.  Initially his call was a distraction, but I'm so glad it turned into an inspirational moment.

Note: This weekend we will be travelling to northern Pennsylvania to speak in two churches; in Saint Marys in the morning and Mount Jewett in the evening. We are not sure we will get a message off next Monday morning since we need to drive back to Lancaster County for an afternoon meeting.

Mary Sweigart
We had a fancy table setting last night!  Mary is amazing and does wonders with table settings and flower arranging.  Her maiden name, "Stauffer" will be quite familiar with locals as her mother and father were the original owners of "Stauffers of Kissel Hill" There are many other locations as well.  It continues to be a family owned store and is well known for its beautiful flowers and other nursery plants.

Roxie in Donegal Creek
On a hot summer day Roxie loves to jump in Donegal Creek
and lapp it up as she walks through!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play in your audio player)

"Heart Of Worship"  Audio 
 Video   This is the song referred to in the final paragraph.

"I Miss My Time With You"  Video  As Brooksyne was editing the message she recalled this song by Larnelle Harris that is written as if the Lord is speaking to us.

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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