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Monday, May 4, 2009

Backyard dogwood
My favorite part of Spring is right now when the dogwoods are blooming and the leaves on the trees have a wonderful "new life" green color. This is the view this rainy morning of our backyard from our bedroom window.

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"Dead Yet Speaking"

"By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead" (Hebrews 11:4).

I periodically mention that I find edification walking through a cemetery observing statements of faith on tombstones. When we travel Brooksyne and I may purposefully seek out a visit to where a devoted servant of Christ is buried.  DL Moody, who faithfully served in the 1800's (dying in 1899), is buried in Northfield, Massachusetts and has these words from I John 2:17 solemnly placed on his tombstone, "He that doeth the will of God abideth forever."  There is a sense when I read these inscriptions that, though they are dead, they still speak years later!

Tombstone inscription
I saw this inscription on a tombstone in the cemetery next to the church we now pastor and it got me thinking; first concerning the theme of the Bible being like a roadmap and then how this message on a tombstone in a sense continues the witness of the deceased.

Abel is the first human death, murdered by his own brother Cain. We have no written words by him let alone any recordings. Yet the Scripture says, "By faith he still speaks, even though he is dead."

Abel had been dead thousands of years when this New Testament passage was written, yet the author of Hebrews proclaims that he still speaks. I consider several ways in which he was speaking at the time Hebrews was written and continues to speak today, some 2000 years later.

Abel speaks by His godly example, although the specifics of why Abel's offering was acceptable and Cain's was not has often been debated.  But Hebrews simply states, "By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did."  We'll just have to wait till heaven to understand why!  

Abel speaks as one "commended as a righteous man." Although the details of how his righteousness was demonstrated, apart from his acceptable offering, are not provided, yet he is commended in the Holy Scriptures as such.

Abel speaks by his faith. Three times in this short description we have the phrase "by faith". It is used to describe Abel's spiritual attitude in his offering, his personhood, and his legacy.

How might those who are now dead speak to us?  And more practically for us who are still living, how might our voices continue to be heard after our future death silences them?
We may speak through the heritage of a godly example that we pass on. We can have a direct influence on our own generation as well as the next several. Consider that of grandparents and even great -grandparents who impart spiritual truths to their descendants. We also consider the indirect influence that affects future generations when we are faithful in the transmission of God's eternal truths.

We may speak through our written words. If you haven't written your testimony of salvation, please consider doing so.  When I challenge Christians to get it down in writing, some feel inadequate in doing so or the thought overwhelms them.  "There's so much to say and I don't know how to say it" is often their response.   But God will lead you and reveal through His Spirit what you are to write.  Perhaps there's a blank page or two for recording notes or favorite Scriptures included in the back of your Bible - it's also a perfect place to write about your faith experience.

We may speak through an inscription on our tombstone. This may seem a bit morbid to those who prefer not to plan or even think about their future death.  Or perhaps this seems pointless since there are many other considerations in planning one's final days on earth.  But consider that you have opportunity to speak of spiritual truths to family members and strangers long after your body is in the grave. We don't know how God is speaking to individuals about their eternal condition when burying a loved one.  Often their hearts are tender toward spiritual truths and the Holy Spirit may use your Scriptural message to help bring comfort to the believer or conviction and guidance to the unbeliever.

Today let us remember that we are all leaving a legacy in one way or another and seek to live in a manner that pleases the Lord and honors our family.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, I want to pass on life transforming truths from Your Holy Word to those around me and those who follow me.  I do so through my actions, my thoughts, and my words.  May I honor You in these areas of my life so that I influence others for the Kingdom of God.  In Jesus' name I pray.  Amen.

In 1899 D.L. Moody died.  The words which he had written just before his death continue to speak:  "Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead.  Don't you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal; a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like unto His glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever."

Manheim Christian Day School Worship Team
We had a group of students from a local Christian school yesterday in our church service. What a blessing to see therse young people singing for the Lord. Following the service I asked for their families to join them at the front and we had a special prayer for these young people.

Four generations
Carly, a young lady in the Christian School's Praise Team, is seen here in this photo representing four generations.

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.

"A Man You Would Write About"  Video  4Him An interesting perspective.

"When Its All Been Said And Done"  Video  Robin Mark  This song reminds us of what really matters!

Examples of Scripture verses placed on tombstones.

Ideas on preparing a written legacy

A Father's written legacy  Article

I Will to You: Leaving a Legacy for Those You LoveI Will to You: Leaving a Legacy for Those You Love
By Herbert Brokering / Augsburg Books
Almost everyone has a Last Will and Testament that tells their family and friends what is to become of their property, but few people have thought about the spiritual gifts and memories they'd like to leave their loved ones.

In I Will to You, beloved author Herbert Brokering shares the spiritual gifts and intimate memories that he'd like to pass on to those he loves. As he ponders the grace he has received from the people, places, and events of his life he inspires us to reflect on what it is we'd like to leave to our loved ones. Each chapter includes a Bible passage for reflection. Paperback.  Order info.

A Father&amp;quot;s Legacy: Your Life Story in Your Own WordsA Father's Legacy: Your Life Story in Your Own Words
By Countryman
Give Dad a gift that will capture a lifetime of living---and become a treasured memoir! This year-long journey poses 12 intriguing questions per month, with space to record a personal answer. Topics explore family history, childhood memories, cherished traditions, spiritual adventures, and more. And the lay-flat spiral binding makes writing easier. 192 pages, padded hardcover from Countryman.
  Order info.

I often challenge readers in this series to write a tribute to those who are special to us especially our parents. (This is a good time for that reminder again with Mother's Day and Father's day soon approaching). This is a good time to reinforce a challenge I periodically give to write a tribute to our parents. Here's some tips and information.

Some tombstone photos we have taken through the years

Fanny Crosby tombstone
Fanny Crosby's tombstone in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tombstone with faith statement in Kraybill Church cemetery
Tombstone in Kraybill Church cemetery with faith statement

Photo of Tombstone
Tombstone at Mount Pleasant cemetery
Notice their longevity, particularly of Cecelia, who passed away shortly after we moved to Lancaster County. She was almost 106!
But especially note the powerful verse,
"For Me To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain."
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

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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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