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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dave Clapper family
Dave Clapper family
Beth and the girls are planning to leave the states on October 22 and return to Wamena, Indonesia for mission service.  Their son, Judah, will remain in the states as he seeks God's will for the next step in his life.

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"Overcoming Faith"

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death" (Revelation 12:11).

Nate Saint
In August I went to a missionary aviation presentation at Smoketown Airport here in Lancaster County. Several planes and a helicopter used in missions work were on display.  Pilots from various agencies were present and they performed live flying demonstrations. Steve Saint, son of missionary pilot Nate Saint who was martyred in the fifties in Ecuador, was also present and shared of his faith. He has followed his dad's example and serves the Lord as a missionary pilot!

Dave Clapper
About the same time Brooksyne read in our local paper about David Clapper, a missionary pilot, who died in a plane crash in Indonesia while he was about the Lord's work.  She clipped his obituary and gave it to me to read.  I noted at the time that the pilot had connections in this area with our friends, Cerwin and Doris High's church. Yesterday I was speaking to Doris and she told me on Sunday they had a memorial service for him at her church and how very touching it was. (I have a link to her account and photographs below.)

For some time I have had a verse on my heart I wanted to write about. As I read about this missionary's death it came to mind again. The phrase that grips my heart is concerning some faithful martyrs who had overcome Satan by the blood of Jesus.  "They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."

I consider that this same attitude is evident in regard to Dave Clapper who served in a dangerous place and was well-acquainted with the risks involved. He had to know of the outcome of others who served in a similar way. Yet I believe the sentiment of the daily verse was a foundational component in his overcoming faith.  He had an enduring hope which is foundationally a spiritual hope, not contingent on how many years one spends on this earth.  It was Jesus who spoke these words to the twelve who went out into missionary service:  "If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it" (Matthew 10:39).

"Forty brave soldiers for Jesus" is a powerful ballad set in the period of Roman emperor Valerianus Licinius that tells the true story of a group of Christians who took a stand for the Lord and paid the price. "They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."  All through the Bible and church history right up to the present time there is a multitude of faithful overcomers who demonstrate this. I have a link to this song below and I suggest at some time you listen to it. It's really a remarkable story and has a very interesting ending!

Today may God give all of us a heart to see the spiritual reality of what really matters. I don't understand why God would allow Dave Clapper to die in a plane crash. My faith in the goodness of God asserts that God is in control even when I don't understand or when life circumstances make no sense at all.  When I read Hebrews 11 it goes against the sensibilities that godly people would be stoned, sawed in two, or be put to death by the sword or by the bullets of hate-filled gunmen.  But then I immediately consider Stephen, the first martyr of the New Testament, who was stoned as he stood up for Jesus.  And Jesus stood up for Stephen as he looked toward heaven before he drew his last earthly breath. 

I'm inspired as a couple of phrases from Hebrews 11 seem to leap from the pages of my Bible; "that they might gain a better resurrection" and "the world was not worthy of them."  That gives me the perspective I need today.  Let's stay faithful and keep standing true for Christ and the Holy Scriptures.  No matter the cost.  Today let us link our hearts with these heroes of faith past and present, who "did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."  Let us stand for the One who also knew the jeering scorn of unbelief and rejection, but remained faithful as He yielded to the Father's will.  May our attitude be the same as that of Christ who earnestly prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, "Not my will but Thine be done."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, help us to hold loosely to this temporal life and cling tightly to the promised eternal life.  The only way we can have this outlook is to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  Just as Stephen in the book of Acts looked up to the heavens in the face of death, help us to look up to the heavens in life or in death. We are blessed as we persevere under trial, because when we have stood the test, we will receive the crown of life that You have promised to those who love You.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to play)

Dave Clapper memorial service
Judah and Tirzah, (two of Dave's children) and several of their friends sang, "I Will Praise You in the Storm" at the service. Beth (his wife) signified with upraised arms that she WILL praise the Lord in this storm.  Beth and the children will be returning to the mission field in Wamena, Indonesia in late October.

An account of Dave's Clapper's memorial service - Doris High's blog "Delight In The Lord" has some interesting photos and comments concerning the memorial service.

Dave Clapper's website

"Praise You In The Storm" Video  This is the song mentioned above that was sung at Dave's memorial service and how fitting the words are.

"Blessed Be Your Name"
Video  This song also came to mind as we prepared today's message.

"Forty Brave Soldiers For Jesus" (Audio) This is the song I referred to in the opening paragraph.  It really is a powerful ballad and will bless you!

Brooksyne's note:
Last month we mentioned a book I am reading as a supplement to my personal devotions and it is again fitting in light of today's topic.  The documented account of "Forty Brave Soldiers for Jesus" is included in this book and I have included a portion of the story below for those interested in hearing "the rest of the story."

The Complete Book of Christian HeroesThe Complete Book of Christian Heroes
By Dave & Neta Jackson / Tyndale House
Are there any true heroes? Discover the remarkable stories of those who have suffered for the cause of Christ throughout the course of history. This book reveals what inspired the great heroes of faith and drove them to give their all. Featuring such gripping accounts of each hero's life, this book gives the historical and cultural information as well as quotations and Scripture passages that amplify what each hero stood for. You will learn about John Bunyan, Mary Dyer, Brother Andrew, Todd Beamer and over 200 more heroes of yesterday and today. This is an excellent resource for any home library. For more information or to order click here.

"Forty Brave Soldiers For Jesus" 320 AD in Armenia
(The rest of the story from "The Complete Book of Christian Heroes")

The next morning as the guards were retrieving the stiff bodies and loading them onto a wagon to be taken away and burned, they discovered that the youngest of the martyrs was still breathing slightly.  They set him aside, thinking that once he revived, he would surely recant.  But it so happened that his mother was present.  As she watched closely, her son made a small hand signal indicating his wishes.  "Go, go, my son," she cried.  "Proceed to the end of this happy journey with your companions, so you will not be missing from those who present themselves before God."  Then with uncommon strength, she picked him up and put him into the wagon with his brothers.

After the bodies had been burned, local Christians retrieved the ashes and remains and distributed them to the fledgling groups of converts in the surrounding cities and towns.  As dramatic reminders of the faithful witness offered by the forty martyrs of Sebaste, these relics encouraged and inspired the believers to preach the gospel more boldly than ever, and soon numerous churches were erected in honor of these men, firmly establishing Christianity in the whole region.

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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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