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Thursday, February 26, 2009
We had a beautiful spring-like day yesterday and our Amish neighbors were baling corn fodder for animal bedding in a large farm field across from our house. The mule team pulls the baler and wagons but the New Holland baler does have a gas engine. Eli (behind the team) was sure glad to be out and expected the project to take another day. This farm was sold several weeks ago at auction and purchased by a farmer who grows flowers for the commercial market. This spring he will plant an entire field in flowers so that should be an interesting and colorful addition to our neighborhood!
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"Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.' Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches" (Acts 15:36-41).
The safest kinds of stories to tell, particularly if they don't cast one in the best light are the ones you tell on yourself. Today I have given myself permission to tell this illustrative story!
I grew up in the small town of Belton, Missouri, about 20 miles south of Kansas City. I was very active in the Boy Scouts and by ninth grade had the Life Rank, one step below the highest rank of Eagle Scout, which I was striving for. After 9th grade my family moved about twenty miles away to Independence, Missouri so I was no longer able to participate in Troop 210, the Boy Scout troop I had grown up in, while we resided in Belton.
However I received information from the Kansas City scouting council about how I could fulfill the remaining requirements to earn my Eagle Scout award. I was to assist a local Boy Scout group in Independence for a specified amount of time, which I did.
I had my driver's license at this point and drove over to the Kansas City area scouting headquarters for a final review with a group of scout leaders. For some reason they would not accept my work with the troop and they rejected my application. I angrily stormed out of the meeting, got in my car (actually, my dad's car) and peeled rubber as I left the parking lot. I vaguely recall seeing them pull back a curtain and watch me tear out of the parking lot from a window. In my immature youthful mind I must have thought "I'll show them!" Well, I certainly did!
How we handle disappointments is a real test of our character. In this case I flunked this test big time and wish to this day I would have handled it differently.
Paul and Barnabas had a long ministry together. Barnabas' early encouragement was vital following Saul's conversion (of course Saul became known as Paul). On the first missionary trip they worked together and initially Barnabas' name was listed before Paul, perhaps indicating a greater prominence on the team.
However as they prepared to depart for a second mission trip they had a sharp dispute concerning whether to include John Mark, who had earlier deserted the team on the first trip (Acts 13:13). They actually parted ways over this matter with Barnabas taking Mark and Paul teaming up with Silas.
The sharp dispute notwithstanding, I would sure like to know the attitude of both as they departed and to what degree they had reconciled at that point. How did they handle the disappointment of not getting their own way? However two mission teams resulted and later Paul speaks well of Barnabas and Mark indicating that at some point there had been reconciliation.
All of us endure disappointments in life. Some, as a result of our own making, and others due to circumstances beyond our control. Other times it's just a misunderstanding or miscommunication that needs time to clear up. To this day I really don't understand why my assigned work for Eagle Scout was rejected. But I've managed to have a life without getting the rank. (I suppose I thought it would look good if I ever ran for president!)
I wish I could say that my Boy Scout temper tantrum was the only or last time I ever responded poorly to a disappointment but I really can't. However, thankfully this is an area in which I have matured, as I commit my way to the Lord and realize He is ultimately in charge of my comings and goings, my opened and closed doors. May God give us all the needed grace to handle our inevitable disappointments in a manner that pleases Him and witnesses positively to those involved!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You grow and stretch our maturity through circumstances that don't always reflect our choosing. It helps us to gain needed perspective and experience in situations not of our own choosing, but to our overall benefit. Help us to be patient as we search Your Scripture and seek to understand Your plan as it unfolds in our lives. Align our desires with Your own as we submit our will to Yours. May we not be overcome by adversity but ask You, Father, to use adversity as a tool by which You carve Your image and character deep into our hearts. We may make our plans but we realize that, as Your children, You will have the final say. Amen.
Expository Footnote: I enjoy studying God's Word as I prepare these messages. Luke wrote the book of Acts and as a close associate of Paul's may have been inclined to omit this dispute from the record since it may tend to cast Paul in a bad light. But inspired by the Holy Spirit this dispute is indeed a part of the Scriptural record. In Paul's final epistle (2 Timothy) he writes "Only Luke is with me" and then makes an appeal for Mark to come, acknowledging, "He is helpful to me in my ministry." (v. 11) So Luke, who recorded the dispute concerning Mark's fitness for ministry, was with Paul many years later when he specifically acknowledges that Mark was helpful to him in his ministry. I also consider how Mark had to overcome a potential bad attitude toward Paul as he had once faced rejection from him.
Additional Note: As we go through life we really experience a lot of disappointments and at least for me they haven't stopped. These last several years I enjoy my periodic part-time roles as interim pastor for churches going through a transition. It is also part of our multi-vocational income stream. In the Spring of 2008 two separate prospective interim roles I was excited about did not materialize. It was somewhat of a puzzle to me why they didn't work out. When I received the disappointing news I recall being able to just leave it in the Lord's hands and move on, looking for other ministry opportunities. However in each church we met some very nice folks and continue to stay in contact with a number of them though our daily encouragement messages.
Today's message brought another recollection from my childhood. Our troop 210 Scoutmaster in Belton was a caring older man named Mr. Winters. (Actually he was probably the same age as I am now but at 14 that seemed really old.) At that time in life you really don't give a lot of thought to the dedication and time these leaders gave each week. I wonder if I ever thanked him.
One night his older son, who apparently was a rebel, came into a meeting and had some angry words with his father. I specifically recall Mr. Winters weeping and some of the other leaders delicately handling the matter so he could leave. However he was back the next week and as I recall remained the scoutmaster. I would assume he has died by now but I sure hope he got things straightened out with his son. I also wish I could express my appreciation to him and so many others like him who had a role in my formation.
Tomorrow I want to share a story about one time when I was able to express appreciation to a former mentor.
Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
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"Press On" Video Selah
One of the disappointing doors that didn't open last spring was Mount Vernon, a beautiful country church in southern Lancaster County. We had several interviews and were looking forward to an opportunity to serve but for whatever reason we weren't selected for an interim role. However during the two Sunday services I preached I was really blessed by Andrew Hostetler, their young worship leader, who shared some music with me and gave me permission to place it on the Daily Encouragement website. This music is based on Psalms.
Yesterday we shared the testimony of Colton, a tiny baby who died shortly after his very premature birth. His mother, Amy, sent us this prayer that was written by a friend and read at his funeral.Suggested Resources:
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you today with Colton and his family on our hearts. Lord, our heads are swimming with thoughts and emotions. It’s hard to grasp that a life that entered and left this world silently...in a lifetime of 15 hours and 47 minutes ...could make such an impact on us...and yet, this tiny baby has.
Colton has confirmed for us that every life you’ve formed touches the world in some magnificent way for all eternity. Father, thank you for giving us a glimpse into the “secret place”, the place where Colton was fearfully and wonderfully made by your hands. Thank you for knitting him together within Amy, and for the privilege of witnessing this miracle of life.
...and yet, Lord, we don’t understand why Colton was born into such a dark place and taken from us in a heartbeat. Please be with all of us, and especially with Amy, Chris, Hunter, and Colton’s grandparents. Give them sleep and the courage to face tomorrow.
Most of all, Father, we ask that from Colton’s death, new relationships would be born and old relationships strengthened and restored. Lord, bind Chris and Amy together through their grief. Give them a supernatural grace to extend to one another as they walk through this valley. Immerse them in Your love. Father, because the magnitude of Colton’s loss is unspeakable, I ask that as we struggle to cope and to pray, that your Spirit would intercede for us with groans that words cannot express. Amen.
The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good? By R.C. Sproul / P & R Publishing - In a world steeped in anguish and evil, how can God be in control? Do all things really work for good? With head-on honesty and biblical insight, Sproul examines the difficult doctrine of divine providence. Discover how your Lord lovingly guides the events of your life without creating human wickedness or destroying human freedom. Ordering information. Of course today's message title was prompted by this book title!
Joseph By Charles Swindoll / Thomas Nelson - Every day it seems another so-called "hero" falls from grace, but in his Great Lives from God's Word series, Chuck Swindoll introduces you to heroes who stand the test of time. In his third volume, Joseph,
Brooksyne's Note: When I have gone through hard times this book has offered great encouragement and understanding of how God works good even in the midst of those who intend harm; at times this might include our own brothers and sisters in the faith who see things differently than we do. This can lead to some very ungodly actions which can really break your heart. I like to read the Scripture right alongside the book and find hidden insights that God, along with the gifted writer, Swindoll impress upon my heart. God can pour the salve of His Holy Spirit in your wounded spirit as you study and apply His Scripture.
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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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