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Friday, July 18, 2008

Amish hay harvest
Amish hay harvest
(click on photo to enlarge)
We came upon this interesting site yesterday near Stumptown Road in eastern Lancaster County. A team followed by the riding cart, followed by the hay baler, followed by two wagons.  That team sure got a good workout!  Brooksyne took the photo from inside the car.

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"The Call Of God"

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24).

This Sunday our pastor is preaching on the call of God and has asked Brooksyne and me to share our testimonies regarding our call to ministry.  He requested four minutes for each testimony so I decided I would prepare mine for our Daily Encouragement readers as well.  I invited Brooksyne to share her story on Monday.

I was raised in a nominally Christian home and do not recall hearing a clear challenge to accept and follow Christ in my early years. In my mid-teens I was heading in the direction so common among that age group, increasingly trying out the things of the world. My older brother, Pat, had become a born-again Christian while in the service and was eager to share his new-found faith with his family, but initially I rejected.  In August 1971 I went to a revival meeting, heard the Gospel, and accepted Jesus as my Savior. After a year of half-hearted commitment I became a serious disciple during my senior year at Truman High School in Independence, Missouri.

My brother was attending Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri so I decided I'd also attend for a year.  Maybe I'd see more clearly what God had for me. (I believe this is still good advice for any young person, although Bible Colleges are becoming scarce.)  During this time I was exposed to godly teaching, wholesome relationships, and experienced the joyous blessing of a fervent walk with God.  For the most part I would describe my call to ministry as a progressive calling as to what God would have me do with my life. It was at this time I met Brooksyne and we began dating our freshman year.

However I do recall an experience with some definiteness regarding my call. During a summer break I visited Brooksyne at her home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was returning to Springfield, MO where I had a summer job and was travelling up the Will Rogers Turnpike (I-44). For some reason I was listening to a country western station. This was not necessarily an environment conducive to hearing from God, but as I began to contemplate the direction of my life, God spoke to my heart in a very memorable way.

I began to think about my increasingly clear call to serve the Lord in vocational ministry. I considered several other non-ministerial fields such as training to be a doctor or lawyer. It occurred to me that the most skilled doctor, while he fulfills a very noble task of working on the physical body, his best labor is limited because his patient will eventually die.  A lawyer may have a helpful role in regard to many of life's issues but his labors are equally limited to this side of eternity.

I then considered the great mission of impacting others for Christ. As a minister of the Gospel I would be helping people to prepare for eternity, not just for their life on earth. I began to weep as I considered the ramifications of my ministerial calling. That was nearly 35 years ago and, the result of answering God's call, has led to a very spiritually fulfilling life!

His divine calling may lead one to fulfill the role of a pastor or a different field of vocational ministry.  Not everyone has a call to vocational ministry, but it is the call of every true believer on earth to impact others for Christ until we are called to our heavenly home. 

The Apostle Paul's ministry was multi-faceted and at times bi-vocational.  He was a tentmaker and he ministered one on one, to small groups and to large crowds.  He ministered in both speaking and writing.  His life's mission is summed up in the powerful phrase in the daily text, "the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Like the Apostle Paul I want to have a lifelong commitment to the great task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.  I like to frequently ask myself a question and I encourage you to do the same.  What have I done today to influence the world for Christ in evangelism and to build up the body of Christ?  That is our fundamental task, whether we have been called to vocational ministry or any other vocation, where we have opportunity in various ways to testify to God's saving grace.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, this task of testifying to the work of Your grace in our lives is a very important way we give glory to You.  We recognize that, apart from Your abundant grace, we are weak, ineffective, and have nothing to offer that will change the circumstances in another person's life.  But when we tell others of the marvelous grace we experience as we fellowship with You we offer the good news of Your life changing grace.  We give hope that begins in this present life and extends to the life beyond. May the glorious hope that is within us be seen in our attitudes, in our actions, and in our words.  Amen.

A couple of caveats to today's message:
  • In regard to my "nominal" upbringing – My parents loved us kids and Mom did take us to church. For most of my childhood Dad rarely attended church.   I recall Bible stories from church but frankly I don't remember hearing a challenge to accept Christ or a clear explanation of the plan of salvation.  Around the time I accepted the Lord my mom and dad also began attending church faithfully together and both had a love for the Lord up to their time of death.
  • Certainly I am in no way diminishing the role of a doctor, lawyer or any other vocation.  Dedicated Christians can and do impact their world in many different fields as they testify for Christ.

Today's verse is from the message that Paul gave to the Ephesian elders found in Acts 20

Early this morning I took a bike ride with our dog Roxie and as we rode up our country lane I heard for the first time this season an unmistakable sound of midsummer. What do you suppose I heard? Answer here.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

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

"For The Sake Of The Call"  Video  Steven Curtis Chapman

"My Life Is An Offering"  Audio

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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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