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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cross on mountain in northern PA
A cross on a mountain in northern PA used as a witness at our friend's Tom & Marsha farm.

Neizmik barn in northern PA
The Neizmik barn in northern PA,
a source of many great memories!

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"My Joy And My Crown"

"Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends"  (Philippians 4:1). "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4).

Jeanette Neizmik Paradis (c. 1984)We have a guest in our home who is a real blessing to us. Jeanette grew up in the church we served in northern Pennsylvania.  Her parents made a serious commitment to Christ when she was a toddler and they were very active in the church we planted in St. Marys, PA.  They continue to serve earnestly in that church and community over 30 years later and remain our dear friends to this day. 

Jeanette was raised for the Lord and we watched her grow up during our 16 year tenure of service in that community and have stayed in touch ever since. She has continued to faithfully serve the Lord and is in our area as a speaker for several Christian Women's Club groups for the next couple days. Last night we enjoyed looking over old photos and reminiscing about the past and rejoicing at our present blessings in Christ.

I recall Jeanette as a little girl in her Missionette uniform (Missionettes was a girls program we had Wednesday nights in that church). I saw her as a young teenager at her "Honor Star" ceremony, receiving the highest award in that program. In her mid-teen years she went through a few years of being a bit unpleasant, not always a delight to be around. Do you know any teenagers like that?

Well, she sure did come out of that teen funk (and let this be an encouragement for any of you who have kids going through that stage presently)! She has a very joyful personality making it such a delight to be around her.

Our word of encouragement today is for all of you involved in any form of ministry. Christian ministry is the effort to impact our sphere of influence for Christ and eternity. It will surely have its disappointments as people will reject us and the Christ we represent. Others will sadly turn away from the faith.

But among the greatest sources of encouragement for those in ministry are the people we have impacted who remain faithful and fruitful for the Lord many years after we have ministered to them or come alongside them in their Christian walk.

In our daily text the Apostle Paul is encouraging the believers in Philippi. Paul had a rough time of personal ministry in Philippi as recorded in Acts 16. He, along with Silas, had been stripped, beaten, severely flogged and jailed before being run out of town. But before leaving we find this significant nugget, "They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed" (Acts 16:40). After all they had been through they rose to the occasion for needed encouragement!

Who would have though anything lasting would come out of this fledgling church. But writes a letter to them.

"Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for." What an endearing expression of love. His desire for one on one fellowship is evident in this passage.  Paul loved these brethren and greatly longed to see them. But his letter would have to suffice and, much to our blessing, this letter is now a part of the Scriptures!

He identifies these brethren as "my joy and my crown." Even though Paul's time of ministry was brief in Philippi he used this expressive phrase to describe them. Their faithfulness to Christ brought Paul great joy. Earlier in his letter Paul exhorted the Philippian believers "to press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

He further encouraged them to faithfulness with these words, "That is how you should stand firm in the Lord."  In other words, when you feel like throwing in the towel or when the assaulting storms seek to toss you to and fro, obscuring your heavenly goal, you will stand firm when you remain vigilant, pressing on to win the heavenly prize.

Today we want you to consider those whom you've impacted that continue steadfast in their walk with Christ.  Take a few moments and think of some people like this in your life.  You're going to rejoice, for we are confident that the Lord always will give us fruit for our labors. Paul spoke of the Philippians as "my joy and crown" in the daily text.  We can identify with that statement and we hope each one of you can as well!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we are shaped and molded by Your Holy Word, through the Spirit living within us, and by the people You place in our earthly journey who take us under their spiritual wings as they impart  truth in our lives.  Their example, their teaching, and their prayers, and their love for us further shape and mold us to be more like You. We thank You for these precious people of the faith.  Just as they have been faithful to pray for us in our time of need, we lift them up to You and ask You to meet their every need.  Encourage them in the faith so that they keep their eyes on the goal of the heavenly prize. Some glad day we will all be united in heaven where we will forever worship You, King of kings and Lord of lords.  Amen.

Further note: Some of you reading this are discouraged today.  You have served God faithfully but have had some setbacks and disappointments.  You might be a discouraged pastor who feels like your ministry is making little to no difference.  Or you might be a dedicated Sunday School teacher dealing with some unfaithful or rebellious students.  And I know there are more than a few parents with wayward children reading this. 

Today will you consider some people that you have ministered to in the past?  You will surely recall some that are doing well in their walk of faith.  I hope you've stayed in touch.  (That's vitally important.)  What great joy it will bring to your treasured memories as you consider the part you've had (however large or small) in their lives.  And now they're going on, staying faithful to God and bearing fruit.  That's so encouraging isn't it? You can declare, along with the apostle John that you have no greater joy than to hear that they are walking in the truth.

For those of you who are praying for loved ones who've taken a turn from the right way, entrust them to the Lord who is ever watchful of their every step even in the midst of their disobedience.  Pray for God's Spirit to woo them back to the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.  We shared in our opening story about Marsha and Tom's three daughters serving the Lord, but what we didn't share is that their youngest chose to live in disobedience for a number of years. We easily remember the heavy burden her parents carried for her during this time and the fervent prayers spoken on her behalf before she returned to her childhood faith. She recently married and her mother gave her a prayer journal she had kept during her years of wandering.  Once a week she'd write a prayer for her and now her daughter can continue this spiritual discipline on behalf of her husband and future children as they go through life together. 

Let us always pray with joy, even as Paul did in his address to the Philippian believers:  "I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (1:6).

Some photo reminiscing

Children's play (c. 1986)
We found this photo of a children's Christmas program "The One And Only Original Christmas Factory" with Jeanette dressed as a gift box!

Neizmik family (c. 1990)
The Neizmik family about twenty years ago.
All three girls are now married.
How do you like those glasses on Jeanette's mom!

Wedding photo of Sean and Jeanette Paradis
We attended Jeanette's wedding about five years ago and this photo was taken in front of the barn. Pastor and Mary Carocci are on the right side of couple. He was Jeanette's pastor at the time.

Photo of Sean and Jeanette Paradis family
A current photo of Jeanette and her family.

Jeanette Paradis 11/9/10
I took this photo this morning before Jeanette went to her Christian Women's Club speaking engagement.

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.)

"Legacy"  Video  Jeanette's note: "I suggested to Pastor Weber that he include the song Legacy by Nicole Nordeman.  I am so thankful for the many people who have encouraged me in my walk with Christ over the years.  Many of you are current readers here and I want to thank you for the legacy that you have left within my own heart.  I was talking with Pastor Weber last night about how much my own life has been shaped by the combination of solid Scriptural teaching and genuine fellowship with other families during my growing-up years at Agape (the church Jeanette attended in Saint Marys PA).  Now that I am a wife and mother myself, it is a priority to nurture my own family with these sort of values.  There is simply no substitute for sound doctrine and sincere, Christ-filled relationships.  It is a privilege to be spending this time here with the Webers; truly a reminder of where I began, and inspiration towards where I am headed with my own family. I encourage each of you to press on in the investment that you are making in one another's lives, as we travel together on this adventure in our faith!  Hebrews 10:23-24 says, 'Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.'"

"Leave A Legacy"  Video  Aaron Jeoffrey

"A Man You Would Write About"  Video  4HIM  An interesting perspective and aspiration.

"When It's All Been Said And Done"  Video  Robin Mark  A very thoughtful song.

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.

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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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