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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Amish winter scene (Doris High)
Amish buggies on the way to church.
(Photo by Doris High)
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"Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar" (Matthew 1:3).

My wife gets a lot of comments about her name. Actually it's a hybrid name her mother came up with as they were hoping for a boy so they could name him Brooklyn Jr. which is Brooksyne's father's name. However they had a girl (for which I am sooo grateful) and named her Brooksyne. She often assists new acquaintances with the unusual pronunciation by saying, "like the scene of a brook…now turn it around - Brook-scene."  She gets it mispronounced a lot though.  She's got a good name both in regard to being interesting and distinct, but much more importantly in her character.

Today I want to consider the first of four women mentioned in Matthew's genealogy of Christ. It's not a familiar name and I've never met anyone by that name though I know it is still used today. The story is found in Genesis 38 and is surely one of the most sordid accounts in the Biblical record. It's a story with a theme that would be in keeping with the expression, "Truth is stranger than fiction."

I won't go into the unpleasant details here but merely sum it up by pointing out that Judah and his sons acted in a very wicked way.  Tamar's pregnancy with Perez and Zerah is the result of a deceptive prostitution alliance with her father-in-law, Judah.  It may be disturbing enough that such an account is way back in the genealogical record of Jesus Christ, but Matthew even calls it to our attention! 

What do we make of it?  One of the outstanding evidences of the reliability of the Bible is the unvarnished record of its main characters, both men and women.  Judah is one of the most familiar ancestors of Christ and in the book of Revelation Christ is identified as the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" (5:5).  Yet Moses was inspired in Genesis to record this story (taking an entire chapter to do so) and Matthew is inspired to call our attention to it as he opens his gospel.

However there is another thought that comes to mind when pondering this matter. God uses even the most unusual and evil situations to advance His cause.  No attempt is made in the record to justify Judah or his son's actions.  They are forthrightly presented as wicked. 

However that does not stop the fact that Tamar's twins, Perez and Zerah, were conceived and born as a result of an ungodly act.  Surely God's ways are at times puzzling to us.  The life of faith and obedience often is, but we are called to keep pressing on by faith.  Perhaps there is something in your past that really is bogging you down. 

Remember that God has a wonderful plan for your life and any unusual or even sordid background is not going to stop Him from accomplishing His will in your life as we submit to Him. Though you may struggle with fully understanding or clearly explaining it to others, undesirable experiences from the past or present, may possibly enhance your walk with God and your witness to others!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, we're so thankful that there is nothing in our past or future that can separate us from Your love or daily provision for our lives. You provide the necessary tools to overcome the difficulties we encounter from earliest childhood to present day.  Though the enemy seeks to disrupt our lives, pollute our minds and sear our conscience we will not be defeated by evil.  Instead we overcome evil with the steadfast goodness You instill in our hearts as we hold dearly to the light of Your Word.  We say "no" to ungodliness and worldly passion as we eagerly wait for our great hope in the second coming of Your Son, Jesus, who will unite us with You, our Father, in heaven.  Keep us faithful and ever hopeful.  Amen.

Here's the account of Tamar: Genesis 38 
Tamar was also the name of a daughter of David and sister to Absalom, who ironically was  violated sexually.

Matt is a friend of mine whose mother conceived him as a result of a rape.  
He has a wonderful testimony and has given me permission to share his story here.  I shared this story several years ago and many responded.

Mary Lou's baptism
Many readers have been following my notes about Mary Lou Long, her salvation story, and her present battle with cancer.  Yesterday morning was a very memorable event as Mary Lou was baptized by Pastor Bob. Though our church practice is believer's baptism by immersion, due to Mary Lou's critical health condition, Pastor sprinkled waters of baptism following our singing of "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus", the Scripture reading, and Mary Lou's confession of faith.  I then had the privilege of praying for her as others joined with their hearts.  The photo of our group present is representative of Mary Lou's church family.  Since she had not lived for Jesus for the past 48 years she has no church affiliation, but these caring folks, along with others, have had spiritual input in her life over the past year. 

Since I wrote her testimony on Nov. 10 she often asks me if anyone was been helped by her conversion story.  We received comments which I passed on and that blessed her.  I spoke to her on the phone this morning at 10:15  getting her permission to share the photo and story about her baptism, but she could barely talk.  She is having great difficulty breathing so we prayed together.

Mary Lou's time on earth is very short.  I am inviting all who read this portion of our daily encouragement to respond as the body of Christ does to one new in the faith.  Would you consider sharing a Scripture, a prayer, or an uplifting word with Mary Lou?  Merely email us and sign your name and where you live.  I am preparing a photo album of her baptism service and I will compile and deliver your comments to her as well.  This will bless not only Mary Lou but also her daughter, Christy.  Thank you for embracing a soul that you've never physically met but have heard her story and cared for her through our daily encouragement ministry.  Mary Lou's testimony is here for any who haven't read it.

Yesterday I shared a photo of the star that is on the door of our small barn.  Here's a photo taken last night.  Some wonder what we mean by "barn". Actually it is a small barn-like building built by a previous owner which provides good storage, including a second floor, has a small workshop and even an area that I started to make into an office, but it's too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer! To the left underneath the overhang is our coal bin and on the right is a small garden shed.

Today's Suggested Music
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"At The Cross"  Video

Doris High has an interesting collection of photos from this last Sunday as her Amish neighbors had church (they meet in the homes of members).

This coming Sunday Brooksyne, Ester, and I have been invited to our Amish friend's Jesse and Anna Ruth's church that will meet in their home. The following week they will join us in our church for our annual Christmas musical that Brooksyne is directing.

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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