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Monday, February 22, 2010

Oregon coastline (photo by Shirley Richardson)
Oregon Coastline
We've been posting a lot of snowy winter scenes from here in Lancaster County. A reader from Oregon sent us this photo that provides some variety to our photo selections!

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"The Greatest Contest"

"Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering" (Hebrews 10:32). "Run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24).

We've been watching some of the Olympics though I don't usually follow winter-type sports. But I am struck by how dangerous many of the activities are, as most of you know, if you follow the news.

I tried to snow ski a couple of times but never made it off the beginner's hill. The coordination it takes for skiing is similar to that of roller skating which I never did well either, since I have weak ankles. When I try to skate I'm pretty clumsy looking. With my 6'2" height and very stilted and clumsy appearance while on wheels, I've been called Herman Munster more than once!

About fifteen years ago when we vacationed in Lake Placid, New York I rode a bobsled down the actual run where the 1980 Winter Olympics were held. (It's now the training run for the US Olympic team.)  Since it was in the summer months wheels were attached to the sled; nevertheless it was still quite a thrill. A half mile cost me $20.00 so at sixty miles an hour the ride itself costs about $2,400.00 per hour.  I sure wouldn't want to be on that thing for an hour though, even if it was a free ride!

The Scriptures seem to allude to the ancient Olympic games in several different passages, several times using the race as an illustration.  The first daily selection refers to a great contest. In the second one Paul is urging the Corinthian believers to remain faithful to Christ in the great spiritual race, "Run in such a way as to get the prize." The sacred Scriptures make it abundantly clear that all who follow Christ are participants in this greatest of contests.

However I am struck by several significant contrasts in our great contest and that of the Olympic athlete: 

1) In this greatest contest we are not competing against one another!  Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders of his aspiration to "finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me" (Acts 20:24).  My ambition in life is to complete the race I am called to, but in fulfilling this, another follower of Christ does not lose out.  In fact we run best when we are looking out for the spiritual well being of others.

2) In this greatest contest we all can and will fall in various ways, but thank God that by His grace we can get up, get back into stride and run on!  The apostle James so candidly stated, "We all stumble in many ways" (James 3:2).  If you're down right now, cry out to God, get up, and go on and if you see another brother down, God's call is for you to help him, "If one falls down, his friend can help him up" (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

3) In this greatest contest there's not simply one gold medal awaiting a single "winner". I really am blessed by a verse that Paul wrote toward the end of his life. "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing"  (2 Timothy 4:8).

So join us today as we unite with Paul and so many millions of believers through the ages of the church.  "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).  That's the greatest contest!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, all the goals and strategies that I set for my life culminate in the blessing of knowing that as I press on I will eventually hear You say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant"!  "You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary….I will give the right to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."   You grant the eternal prize for remaining steadfast and faithful in my Christian walk.  Others in this world may earn titles and win prizes for worthy earthly pursuits, but the greatest prize that I will ever obtain is my entrance into heaven where I will see you face to face.  And amazingly it was not because I earned it but because of Your merciful pardon of my sin.  May my outlook be bright today as my heart is heavenbound.  Amen.

Veritas Mime team 2/21/10
Stephanie Graybill and her assistant, Coty, head up Veritas, a mime team that ministered to our congregation yesterday.  They did an excellent job miming to several song selections, including the moving song, Via Dolorosa.

Martin family dinner table 2/21/10
After church we were invited to the Martin home for lunch.   We enjoyed an excellent country meal, much of it processed right from their summer garden and from the beef they raise on their farm. 

Ester & friends 2/21/10
Roanna, Veronica and Ester, Class of 2007.  These girls had a nice reunion yesterday at the Martins as Roanna was home from Messiah College and Veronica was visiting from Ecuador.  Veronica was a foreign exchange student who lived with the Martins her senior year in high school. It was so nice to see the girls together once again.

Ken Pierce, our trusty handiman
Several weeks ago I wrote about our mailbox getting run over by a snow plow, a common occurrence in our parts! Our trusty handyman friend, Ken Pierce, learned about it and came over to temporarily repair it by reinforcing the post (again this year).  Ken has a real servant's heart and responds promptly to needs all around him.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Press On"  Video  Selah

"He Who Began A Good Work In You"  Video  Steve Green

"Knowing You"  Video  Robin Mark

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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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