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Monday, January 12, 2009
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"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word" (Psalm 119:37).
I read a very sad story. Gordon Stewart, a man in England, died last week when he apparently became lost in the midst of the clutter in his home. According to the article the compulsive hoarder is believed to have become disorientated inside the clutter and was unable to find his way out — then he collapsed from dehydration. It seems that the police crawled around the tunnel network until they uncovered his lifeless body.
Now I have heard of people keeping lots of stuff but this surely takes the cake. I realize comparatively how neat and tidy we are at the Weber house!
Consider forms of clutter in our lives. Brooksyne enjoys volunteering at a local mission thrift shop in Mount Joy a couple times a month where she is a cashier. While serving she manages to find nice bargains as well. But then several times a year we load up the van and take bags of "extras" to the very same thrift shop and donate it for resale. I know that some of the "extras" what she brought home months earlier! (Brooksyne's note: sad, but also true.)
But what about spiritual clutter? The Psalmist makes a powerful plea to God; "Turn my eyes away from worthless things." The KJV uses the term "vanity" here. The Hebrew word also connotes useless, false, desolating, and is used figuratively for idolatry.
I wonder what "worthless things" he might have been referring to in his life? In our time I consider all the forms of "worthless things" that abound and potentially clutter and clog up our lives, causing spiritual congestion. Some are an inevitable part of living in this world. Others we can willfully choose to turn away from. Thus David's prayer is always appropriate.
These are the obstacles that I believe are referred to in Hebrews 12:1 as "everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" that we are to throw off.
I began this message with an illustration about one who collected stuff; way, way too much stuff and it cluttered his house and his life. I can't help but wonder what it did to his family life as well. Jesus warned about this kind of danger when he told the parable in Luke 12:16 about the man who had an overabundance of crops so he came up with the plan of tearing down his smaller barn and building a larger one… for us it's bigger closets, storage buildings, etc.
But our struggle may not be the clutter that comes from pursuit of things so much as from the cluttered moments and hours within our day. May we seek to be good stewards of our time so that we are readily available for the Master's use. Let's make sure that modern technology remains a tool to aid us and not an obsession that will drain precious time from our days.
We make choices each day. Today, "let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, because of our human nature we are often drawn to activities and things that have no lasting or eternal value. But we want to earnestly pursue those opportunities which help us to honor You and keep us grounded in the life You have instructed us to live. A half-hearted believer is torn between serving You and the world, so help us to be wholehearted in following You. Then we will be more and more passionate about our walk with You which will naturally turn our eyes away from worthless things. Thank You for preserving our lives not only here, but for all eternity! Amen.
New ministry opportunity: At the end of 2008 a ministry opportunity ceased that was also a significant part of our multi-vocational ministry income sources; a role I had with Transport For Christ, a ministry to truck drivers. Due to lower offerings they had to curtail several positions, including mine.
Another door has opened and I am now a part-time, interim pastor of a small country church in the tiny hamlet of Mastersonville, PA about 10 miles from our home located here. (This will give you an idea of how rural the location is, although it's only about 15 miles from Lancaster city.) We are enjoying this role and want to share some photos today.
We expect to enjoy a season of serving the Master in Mastersonville! We also expect to continue on with our daily encouragement ministry and corporate chaplaincy during this time.
Ester and her Bible Quiz team at a quiz meet yesterday
Bible Quizzing is an excellent ministry that teaches kids the discipline of studying and memorizing the Holy Scriptures. We had the ministry in the church we pastored in northern PA about twenty years ago and recently visited with Chris Muhlhammer, the lady who had the vision to get it going. I salute the dedicated adults who work faithfully with the kids week after week!
Around 6 AM early this morning as I was preparing this message my neighbor Marvin, who is a carpenter, drove up in his big work truck. Wow, I wondered, what's he doing here so early? He then gave me a fresh loaf of bread and shared an interesting story. John is an elderly widower in his church who reads this series (actually listens to the podcasts). John bakes bread and then takes it to his church where people pick it up and leave offerings for missions. What a neat way to serve the Lord. He saw Marvin, who attends his church yesterday and asked him to drop a loaf off for us! Brooksyne and I both had some this morning toasted and topped with homemade jam. And it sure was good! Thanks, John.
Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"Refiner's Fire (Purify My heart)" Audio
"Give Us Clean Hands" Video
This Saturday our friends Ray and Vicky Mancini stopped by and had lunch with us. We met them about 15 years ago when they attended the church my brother Pat pastors in the Lehigh Valley. They are originally from Queens, New York and presently live in New Jersey. They recently celebrated their 35th anniversary and have a blessed walk with the Lord and each other. Ray writes colorful short stories based on his own experiences and shared them in the church newsletter over the years. Saturday I helped him set up a blog to share these stories with others.
The story of the hapless hoarder mentioned in the message.
In response to Friday's trivia question: L.L. Bean stands for Leon Leonwood Bean! I have a neighbor named Leon but am intriqued by the middle 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, 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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