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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Honeysuckle blossoms, Lancaster County PA
Our honeysuckle blossoms are beautiful and smell so good!

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"Dokimon En Christo"

"Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ" (Romans 16:10a).

During my summer breaks while in college I worked in a concrete company in Kansas doing quality control work. It was a company that made pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete; a product used in large construction projects such as decks in parking lots and bridges.

Bridge deckConcrete is poured into large forms or beds which is the precast part. In order to increase the strength, cables are run through the legs in the form, then stretched so they're about as tight as a rubber band ready to snap. Then a device clamps down over the cable and forces it down into the form.

CableMy job was to reach into the form as the cable was being stressed to verify with a tape measure that the proper amount of stress was placed on the cable. If the cable snapped I would instantly be decapitated! It's a haunting memory that I'm happy to say is behind me, but my work was important since many of our products were used for bridges in Kansas.  I had a role in seeing that the product was tested and approved prior to shipment. So if you've lived in Kansas since 1973 or if you've driven through the Sunflower State since then, you might just think of me when you safely cross a bridge. I really stuck my neck out for you! (But admittedly, the pay was very good and quite helpful in paying my college tuition.)

Now there are many kinds of quality control experts that test machinery, tools, parts, and other materials that must meet standards of excellence before they are put into operation. This is true not only for material items, but there is also a testing process that people undergo before they are used in a particular service. Many of these fascinating people can be found in the Bible though some are only briefly mentioned.  Today, let us consider one of them, a man named Apelles.

In Romans 16 Paul mentions many ministry associates he was acquainted with who were now in Rome.  Interestingly, it is very unlikely that Paul had even been to Rome at the writing of this book.  Yet we have an abbreviated Hall of Faith representing the many lesser-knowns who have advanced the Kingdom of God through the centuries. Apelles, who is mentioned only this one time throughout the entire Bible, is such a man.

It must have felt good to be remembered!  If Apelles had a written copy of the letter and a yellow highlighter I imagine this part would be highlighted. It must have given him great encouragement to see his name acknowledged in such a positive way.

Most versions use the word "greet" and a few use the word "salute", but it's interesting to me the word for greet is "aspazomai", which means to "enfold in the arms".  When Apelles heard his name spoken in Paul's letter surely a big smile crossed his face as he recalled his warm friendship with Paul, who even at that time was a man of great renown.

But what grips my heart is the single bit of biographical data we have on this man.  The NIV uses two descriptive words "tested and approved" to translate the depth of a single Greek word "dokimos".  The word means tested, thus reliable, and therefore esteemed.

"Dokimos"  was used for coins and metals that had passed the quality control tests of that time. Apelles underwent testing as well.   Pehaps he suffered great persecution or he had endured major health problems. He might have fallen into sin and now, after a time of careful examination, he was being reinstated.  We're not told the nature of his testing, but at this point he had proven himself faithful.  Apelles was "tested and approved in Christ".  What a notable recognition coming from the apostle Paul!  Many receive the recognition and esteem of man, but of Apelles it is said that his approval is "in Christ".

Are you undergoing testing today?  Is your endurance being stretched as you see no end in sight to your testing period?  Hold fast and don't lose faith!  Remember it's not the test that you're to focus on, but your focus is to be on Christ who enables you to endure the test. "He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."  

Today I urge all of you who labor, many in ways that are seemingly unrewarded, to remember the highest goal of life is to be "dokimon en Christo" (tested and approved in Christ).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, there is great temptation to seek the commendation of those around us so that we might be esteemed in the sight of others.  But there is no honor or reward in this life that compares with the commendation that Apelles received, to be tested and approved in Christ.  Father, You know the very intent of our heart by that which we think and speak and by every action we carry out. May we honor You in all that we do in the daily battleground of forming attitudes and making choices.  May we, above all, be dokimon en Christo.  Amen.

For the terminally curious here's a photo of a precast concrete leg showing the ends of the clipped cables (they are cut off at the end of the process).  Since downward force was placed on the cable during casting the counter force of the cable trying to move back up is what gives the bridge the slight arching shape and thus increases the tensile strength. (I am sure a civil engineer could word this a lot better!)

Discbine harvesting hay, Lancaster County PA
Yesterday they cut the hay from one of the fields across from our home. The machine is known as a discbine and really moves along. It's also quite loud and Roxie was quite uncomfortable with the noise.

Freshly harvested hay field, Lancaster County PA
I enjoy walking through a freshly harvested field feeling the bristly stubble against the bottom of my feet (with shoes on, of course!)

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.)

"I Want To Be More Like You"  Video  Clint Brown  Here's a piano instrumental version of the same song.

"All To Jesus I Surrender"  Video  Vineyard Singers

"So Send I You"  Video  I chose this song because of the line, "So send I you to labor unrewarded" and dedicate this to all the modern day people like Apelles who labor seemingly unrewarded in this life.  Hold on, remain obedient to God's call!

I've never heard anyone name their child Apelles but this is also true of many of the names listed in Romans 16

Proper names in Romans 16:
Aristobulus & household
Herodion (relative)
Narcissus & household
Rufus & his mother
Hermas & brothers with him
Neures and his sister

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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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