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Monday, December 27, 2010

Steincross farm

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Note: Today's message is based on a childhood memory from Stephen.

"All Is Well"

"Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10).

I have sixteen cousins, all related through our grandparents and we all stay in contact to this day. In fact we have an annual family reunion and each year almost all of us make it, although on any given year one or two are usually unable to come.

Recently one of my cousin's husbands had a serious auto accident and the family has had a very difficult time in a situation described as "touch and go". I especially considered on Christmas day that this particular family was not celebrating in the way that most are, but keeping vigil in a hospital setting.  There were many other families in that very hospital experiencing Christmas in a way they would never have expected, as was the case all over the world for others in similar situations.

Steincross farmhouse This prompted a recollection from when I was a child back in the sixties. Each year our family gathered in an old farmhouse west of Harwood Missouri for Christmas. It was on a farm that was in our family for over 100 years (known as a centennial farm) and where both my grandpa and Uncle Gentry, who was living in the farmhouse at the time, were born. MaMa and PaPa, aunts and uncles, cousins including some already married with children, all gathered in the farmhouse.  It's hard now to imagine how many of us must have been in that farmhouse but I don't recall it being uncomfortable or even crowded. I also specifically remember Aunt Dora and the other ladies preparing the big meal together. She was famous for her cooking.

One year on Christmas morning  Aunt Dora got sick and was taken to the hospital in Eldorado Springs. I still recall how much that shook me up. I thought all hospitals closed down for Christmas. In my young mind everyone was surely well and with their family on that day just like we were.

Well, of course, some 45 years later I know far more now than I did then. In fact I've experienced these life changing events personally and through caring for others in my pastoral role.

For many all is not well. On Christmas Eve we received a brief e-mail prayer request from an international reader who wrote that she had been beaten and left to die by her husband. Our family immediately went to prayer on her behalf and she continues to be in our prayers and on our hearts today.  I've thought a great deal about a family here in Lancaster County who lost their son in the war this last Saturday (one week before Christmas). They surely experienced Christmas in a way they never would have imagined. Of course my cousin's family is on our hearts as well.

Yet the message of Christmas on the deepest level, a level experienced by faith, is that "All is well".  That's very hard to hear (or read) when it would seem that all is not well, but on the authority of God's Word "All is well". The angel's message to the shepherds was, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10).

The Christmas message is this: Jesus came to save us.  His birth in a stable eventually led Him to the cross. His death on the cross provides salvation, peace, freedom and eternal life to all who by faith embrace it.

This is the highest level of understanding that "All is well" and can be embraced by my cousin's family, the grieving family here in Lancaster County, the sister in Africa and all who are in the midst of circumstances that would otherwise dictate, "All is not well."  As some of you are reading our message you're likely feeling that this message is custom made for you.
I like the Horatio Spafford's resolve in the hymn, "It is Well":  Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, "It is well.  It is well with my soul!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we do not have to fear the present nor the future when we place our complete confidence in You and recognize that Your plans prevail.  Daily we make our plans but we know that You have the final say.  Help us to find comfort in You for the circumstances of life that throw us for a curve, knowing all the while, that You will supply us with the needed resources and spiritual support that leads us to victory so that we can truly proclaim from the depths of our hearts,  "All is well!"

Today we especially encourage our readers to scroll down and listen to a song titled "This Too Shall Pass" by Dallas Holm.

Steincross first cousins (Branson 2007)
Fifteen of my sixteen cousins made it to the 2007 reunion in Branson Missouri. (I'm standing on the back right in the photo.)

Steincross  cousins with Uncle Gentry (mid sixties)
One year we had some snow in southern Missouri at Christmas so Uncle Gentry took some of the kids out for a makeshift sled ride on his tractor pulling what appears to be a wood pallet. That's my cousin Steve driving the tractor with the huge smile and I'm in the photo standing on the back of the pallet. I think that's my sister Genelle sitting on the pallet. Uncle Gentry doesn't look like he's in a very safe place!

Nursing home ministry, piano and accordian
Yesterday afternoon we conducted an afternoon worship service in a local nursing home and Larry Garber accompanied Brooksyne on the accordian as she played Christmas hymns for the residents. It was beautiful!

Open House 2010
Last night we had a heavy projected snow storm for our area. We had also scheduled our annual "Open House" for friends. Many were unable to make it out but several did and we gathered around our dining room table for what appears to be avacado punch (although it's lime of course!)  As it turns out the projected massive storm was somewhat a fizzle in our area and this morning the ground isn't even covered.

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.)

"This Too Shall Pass"  Video  Dallas Holm
 We devote this song today to several specific friends, family and readers going through a very hard time.  In our view Dallas Holm has such a powerful and earnest voice. This is well worth the listen.

"He Leadeth Me"  Video  We closed our service yesterday with this hymn and a strong call to be a faithful follower of Christ.  We extend that call to all of our readers today.

"Think About His Love"  Video  Acapella

"All Is Well"  Audio  This is a powerful short story written and read by Frank Peretti.  It prompted the title to today's message.

"All Is Well"  Video  A song wiritten by Michael W. Smith

"The Chair" Video  In searching this morning I came across this short video lecture by Frank Peretti, who has a most interesting voice and teaching style.

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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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