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Friday, September 5, 2008

Brooksyne took this photo yesterday in our back yard.
Can anyone help us identify the type?
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"Enjoying Detours"

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).

Yesterday I was talking with a man who told me he had once been asked to head up the sign ministry of his local church. His duties included changing the weekly message on the church sign near the highway.  Having recently come out of the world he was still a bit rough around the edges and posted a message on the church sign that he thought would be a "clever" witness.  He used a play on words that resulted in this message, "A Church That Razes Hell". (Notice the spelling of "razes" rather than "raises"!) He told me the pastor politely asked him to change it since it would likely be misunderstood by passersby!

I have periodically mentioned that I especially enjoy reading expressions of faith on church signs, farm silos, and colorful signs that homeowners place along the road. Our area is replete with evidences of the Lord's people seeking to express their faith. Many have messages that pack a powerful punch such as the one I saw that simply states, "Contentment is enjoying the scenery while on a detour."  This brings to mind the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 6:6, "Godliness with contentment is great gain."

Life has detours and some of you are on one right now as you read this. I consider a friend who's been "in transition" the last several months. This morning I spoke to him on the phone. He has dealt with a situation of unjustly losing the job he had for many years, and is now transitioning to a new line of work. But he has kept a faith-filled, positive outlook throughout the experience!  Of course many of you are in some type of employment transition as well.

Some readers are on an educational detour. Still others are dealing with unanticipated health problems so your detour now takes you to people and places previously unknown to you.  Just consider those who find themselves regularly visiting a cancer clinic. Life's detours bring about a change of perspective that would be unknown if we always traveled the familiar route.

The daily text is one of the first Scriptures I memorized as a young Christian. I recall reading a book titled "Power in Praise" that developed a theme of praising God and expressing thankfulness in the midst of trials or "detours".

Contentment during the trial does not mean that we don't pray and seek a resolution to our problem. Certainly if I'm on a detour while traveling I still have a goal to arrive at the proper destination in a timely fashion. While following the detour I can choose to be annoyed by the change of routine that requires extra time or I can enjoy the new landscape, adjust my schedule, and reach my final destination with a good attitude.

The key to "enjoying the scenery" during life's trials is based on two foundational truths that should be the bedrock of our faith. We must be firmly persuaded that:
1) God is in absolute control.
2) He is ultimately fulfilling His purpose in our lives.

Notice the progression of purpose in our daily text:
1) The trial is a testing of faith.
2) This testing of faith develops perseverance.
3) Perseverance must finish its work.
4) This work makes us mature and complete, not lacking anything.

So today if you're on a winding, bumpy detour may you have the perspective of the apostle James and "consider it pure joy" and experience this outlook, "Contentment is enjoying the scenery while on a detour." 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, it is not by mistake but by Your design that we experience the detours of life that give us perspective in a way that nothing else does.  Though we see others who travail in difficulty, it is particularly when we ourselves experience tough terrain that we seek to understand Your purpose for the trial we are enduring.  Help us to persevere in the midst of uncertainty and unfamiliar landscape. May we find joy in the simple pleasures we overlooked when life's journey was routine and uninterrupted by the surprise bends in the road or difficult detours that bring about delay or a change of plans.  May the testing of our faith bring about maturity and give us a new perspective that makes us stronger in our faith and more effective in our witness to those around us.  May they see a grateful spirit in us even as we undergo difficulty so that we glorify Your name rather magnify our problems.  Amen.

Tobacco harvest by old order Mennonites
Yesterday in eastern Lancaster County we came upon this interesting harvest scene. These are old order Mennonites working together to get the harvest in (in this case tobacco!) It was an interesting sight as they appeared to work in sync.

Personal note from Stephen:Actually I do tend to enjoy literal detours since whenever possible I like taking a new or different route if it's not too far out of the way. Even when I travel on long trips I try to get off the interstate periodically and travel the country roads such as we did through a portion of Iowa and Nebraska last month.  

South Bend Nebraska

In Nebraska my brother Mike and I were on a lightly travelled two lane road well
off the interstate when we came upon this sign as we entered South Bend. Apparently the town fathers had a big city complex as well as a sense of humor. They reckoned each tiny intersecting road as an exit and indeed there were four for this town with the population of only 92!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play)
"Trust His Heart"

"Thank You Lord For The Trials That Come My Way"

"Blessed Be You Name"

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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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