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Monday, April 26, 2010

Variegated tulip, Hotel Hershey
Variegated tulips on the grounds of Hotel Hershey.

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"Christ's Ambassadors"

We are therefore Christ's ambassadors" (2 Corinthians 5:20a) "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24).

I have many tasks on my "To Do" list today.  We had guests last night so Brooksyne, not sure if they might visit our office, heaped my To Do stacks into a fairly neat oversized pile so as not to bring attention to the sloppy way I tend to keep my tasks within reach.  They consist of notebook size paper, post it notes, business cards, receipts, you name it!  (Truth is, she did the same with her desk, but it was a little less daunting.)  So when I entered the office this morning it felt like I was all caught up, but I know better.  I will rummage through the neat pile later today to see what needs my attention!

Paul also spoke of the task that was laid out for him.  It was the task that superseded the tasks of living from day in and day out and the commitments that affected only his earthly existence.  It was the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. We are all called to be Christ's ambassadors who testify of God's grace in the good times and in the midst of devastation.

Yesterday we saw two national events regarding normal people, like you and me, being thrust into the spotlight and they used it as an opportunity to witness for Christ.

Gathering following tornado at Hillcrest Baptist ChurchOn Saturday Larry Thrasher, a church member of Hillcrest Baptist Church, in Yazoo City, Mississippi found refuge under the Communion Table as the fierce tornado that swept through his area heaped utter destruction  upon the entire church structure.  On Sunday as he and about 3 dozen parishioners gathered at the church, now a heap of rubble, a young person picked up a hymnal that survived the destruction.  Together they broke into song, "Till the Storm Passes By."  That story was televised and gave witness to the gospel of God's grace.

Miner's memorial service  4/25/10The second televised event was the memorial service held for the 29 coal miners who died in West Virginia. It was another tragic occasion and yet the everlasting hope we have in Christ was presented in message, in prayer, and through song.  Brooksyne was deeply moved as she heard an unidentified woman sing acapella, "The Coal Miners Bible".   I wish we could reproduce the lyrics for you but were unable to find any information, though we're pretty sure it was written especially for this service.  It spoke of the Bible that was smudged from the coal miner as he thumbed through the pages over the years and kept it in the night stand next to the bed.  It would bring comfort and guidance to the widow as she read through the pages where verses were underlined and highlighted.

We who follow Christ are called to be a witness for the God of truth, as His ambassador to this world. An ambassador is a representative of one kingdom to another.  The term that Paul uses in our daily text is one of the most descriptive in the Bible to describe the calling we have as children of God. 

Paul on the Road to DamascusWhen Paul had his dramatic encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus he was a different man.  Fundamentally he changed allegiances and his citizenship. Peter expressed it this way: "As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God" (1 Peter 4:2).

When people witness unpredictable or unavoidable tragedy they come to grips with the mortality of this life.  Likely some will be more open, but in reality some will harden even further. Our call remains the same. Several verses before our daily text Paul said, "We try to persuade men" (v. 11). Today as Christ's ambassadors may we each faithfully seek to persuade others of the truth of the Gospel!

I am led to the great statement of personal mission made by the apostle Paul to the Ephesian elders in the second daily text. He powerfully models commitment to a task. He models Christ's statement concerning "Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39). His overarching focus in life was to "finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me." That task is simply expressed in the phrase "the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Today, for those who follow Christ, this remains our task. Let us each be committed to the cause that the Lord has given each of us and consider the incomparably great value and eternal worth of this task!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, whether in life or death, whether in times of rejoicing or times of enduring we make it our goal to testify to Your grace that keeps us keeping on.  It is Your grace that makes us more than conquerors in this life and assures us of heaven in the hereafter.  In our desire to bring as many with us as possible help us to sort through the menial tasks that deter or weigh us down from the greater task of witnessing to others of Your saving and keeping grace.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

We had some visits in the Hershey area so decided to go up the hill to the Hotel Hershey for the first time. It's a rather pricey place but we  walked along the beautiful grounds and through the lobby area.

Hotel Hershey entrance, Hershey, PA
The entrance to the Hotel Hershey

View of Hershey, PA from Hotel Hershey
This is the view of Hershey from the large veranda in front of the Hotel Hershey.
In the foreground is Hershey Park and in the background is the factory where they make Hershey chocolate candy.

Hotel Hershey flower planter, Hershey, PA
The flower planters were well tended and colorful!

Hybrid tulip, Hotel Hershey
We enjoyed looking at the variety of flowers including this unusual hybrid tulip.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber on the veranda of the Hotel Hershey 4/23/10
Brooksyne and I enjoyed relaxing out on the veranda for a few minutes!

Rick & Rachel Caldwell (left), Rick Steudler and his mother Jeanette (right)
Sunday evening we had some friends over for dinner and fellowship.
On the left is Rick and Rachel Caldwell and on the right is Rick Steudler with his young 92 year old mother Jeanette.  Rick's wife was with a family member who is recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

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.)

"Till The Storm Passes By"  Video  Praise Incorporated

"Shine Your Light
"  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

"His Name Will Shine"  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

Hotel Hershey

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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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