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Monday, July 21, 2008
Brooksyne took the photo this morning of one of our many sunflowers, colorful "leftovers" from the black oil sunflower seed we provide for the birds. The perennials and bird plantings have provided plenty of color for us this summer.
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Brooksyne wrote our message today:
"You Can Use Me"
"But the Lord said to me, Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 1:7).
In the summer months our pastor invites members of the congregation to submit topics they would like him to preach about. In response to one submission he prepared a gripping message he titled, "When God Calls" and shared it with the congregation yesterday morning. Pastor Bob's text was from Jeremiah 1 where Jeremiah tells of God's call upon his life; "Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (1:5).
Pastor described this calling from God as a "divine tap on the shoulder." Following the sermon Jerel Book (a retired pastor), Stephen, and I each shared our experience of being called of God to minister in a full time vocational role. God used a number of people and circumstances to influence my calling that were more like a "divine tapping on my heart" over a number of years. I share them today with our Daily Encouragement readers somewhat like an inspirational itemized list:
I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma where our family of seven went to church three times a week, revival services, camp meetings or anytime the church door was open. I had a godly grandfather, Elbert Sherrell, from the mountains of northwest Arkansas who had a vibrant walk with Jesus. He prayed an impassioned prayer for each of his children and grandchildren by name every day.
I attended Youth Camp at the young age of 14 and my life was never the same after that. I had a divine encounter with Jesus that changed my life and from that point on I absorbed myself in anything that would draw me closer to Him.
I had the blessing of dedicated Sunday School teachers and an encouraging Youth leader couple, Edith and Cordell Cochran. They were full blood Indians who had a singing ministry and formed a youth choir. They would pick my sister and me up from our home and we'd travel with them to sing in revival services all over the state of Oklahoma, especially the Indian churches.
As I mentioned early on my parents were committed church goers but problems at home were not dealt with and only worsened. By the time I was in high school Mom and Dad backslid so I went to church on my own. My folks did not get their hearts right with God until 24 years later, only a few years before God took them home (they both had cancer in their 60's).
It was at this time, as a teenager, that I went to church on my own and realized that only God could help me through the difficulties of my home life. God used the many hours I spent at the altar praying. Godly leaders and Christian friends prayed with me as I sought healing for my family and direction for my life.
His Scripture became alive to me. The Bible became the most important book in my life. A very influential Scripture that I had memorized in Sunday School spoke to me often regarding my call: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify Your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
Christian music was a major influence on my life; both hymns and contemporary music. Bill Gaither's style of music was quite contemporary at the time. (When I mentioned this point yesterday at church I heard a soft chuckle among the youth.) During the early convalescence from my broken ankle, Ken Pierce, a good friend, brought over seven Bill Gaither homecoming DVDs for me to watch. As I listened to many of the songs popular at the time of my calling I was spiritually refreshed. I was reminded of how much God used Christian music to grow my faith and lead me in ministry.
Being involved in Christian service was a major factor in my calling. On Sunday afternoons I went to Sherwood Manor Nursing Home along with our youth leaders to hold church services for them. It was at one of these services where I preached my first sermon. It was the 23rd Psalm (one of the few passages I was familiar with, having memorized it in Sunday School.) Following the service I would wheel the residents back to their rooms and sit and visit with them. Though I was only a teen at the time I've continued to minister in nursing homes most of my adult life.
I became very active in my Christian witness at school and work. I saw people's lives change as a result and this especially affected my call. I could see no higher calling than to reach people for Jesus. There was a burning in my heart similar to Cleopas and the other disciple of Christ on the road to Emmaus when they said: "Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32).
That burning did not go away and I trust it never will. It has been the fire of the Holy Spirit that has kept me in active ministry for Jesus since the time of my divine calling. I had so much to learn in preparing for a lifetime of ministry so I chose to attend Bible College where I would grow in my faith and mature in my minsterial calling. God has been so good and faithful to me over the years. He has filled me with a deep abiding joy that comes from an obedient response to His calling in my life.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber (mostly Brooksyne today)
Daily Prayer: Father, as You formed us in the womb, You set us apart to honor and glorify You. It is a choice each of us must make to listen to Your voice and respond to Your leading. Align our hearts with Your will for our lives so that we will live productive godly lives that make a difference in the world around us and in our own hearts. Amen.
Yesterday we had a special visit from friends who reside in Peoria Illinois. The Miller family has been a part of the Daily Encouragment list for many years. They were travelling through the east and stopped to have dinner with us on the way back home (their second visit in four years.) They are a very dedicated homeschooling family committed to the Lord and Biblical values as pilgrims on the earth. They have five daughters (Katey is a professional photographer who travels all over the world and is not in the above photo.)
In Friday's message I mentioned that I had taken a bike ride early that morning with our dog Roxie (she runs along with me). As we rode up our country lane I heard for the first time in the season an unmistakable sound of midsummer. I inquired from readers as to what I heard and received numerous answers. I've always called them locusts but several answered katydids, cicadas and crickets (it's in that family for sure). Here's a sound very similar (scroll down on this page to the very last sound "Cicada singing using tymbals").
I did receive some interesting answers to the question such as a rattlesnake and the bleeting of the male elk. (I am not sure whether we have any rattlesnakes in our area but I am quite certain we do not have any elk.)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to play in your audio player)
"Use me" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir with inspirational photos of people being used of God to help others in need.
"Take My Life And let It Be" Audio We concluded the service yesterday with this hymn of concecration.
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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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