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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Ultimate Extended Table
An artist's depiction of our future family reunion table

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan: We began a 40 day New Testament reading plan on April 3. If you want to participate and have not been following the reading schedule up to this point we suggest starting with today's reading and reading previous portions after this reading period ends. Here's the entire 40 day scheduleThe links below will open to the selection to be read along with a built-in listening device. 
  • Today's reading (May 4): 1 Thessalonians 3 - 1 Timothy 5 beginning here.
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"The Ultimate Family Reunion"
"For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Many of us have family reunions. Some families live relatively close so they see each other frequently. Here in Lancaster County we meet a lot of people who live close to where they were raised and a number of people still live in the very house they were raised in. The sense of distance is quite relative. I live in the Mount Joy area and once asked someone if they were from around here. They replied "Oh no, I'm from Manheim", which happens to be a small town only about six miles away! But I suppose from his perspective he was not from "around here".

But in our family we're spread all around the country from coast to coast and border to border and some overseas. Since we don't see each other regularly a family reunion is a very special time for us. This summer we will meet in Gatlinburg, Tennessee near the Great Smokies National Park for our annual Steincross reunion. We've been doing this since 1975.

Two seater outhouse Prior to that we just gathered at my grandparents little white frame house in Harwood, Missouri (with a two seater outhouse that was still in operation). We never actually called it a reunion back then as I recall; the family just got together. But when my grandparents died the next generation (their children) began an intentional effort to stay connected. Now that entire generation has passed away (my mom and her six siblings) but we cousins still meet annually. We will meet over a long weekend and then say farewell. Earthly reunions all end that way don't they?

Our daily text speaks of a great family reunion unlike any other. Indeed it will be the ultimate reunion and will include several notable, distinct features, unlike any family reunion held here on earth:
  • It will include all who have lived for Christ (believers). Some have been missed at other reunions I've attended. At these reunions some had already gone to be with the Lord. Others couldn't make it. There will be no transportation problems getting to this reunion. No one will miss because they had to work. Sickness or disabilities won't hinder. No one will be limited by cost.
  • Our "family" will be greatly expanded. Those who followed Christ will be there from every tribe and language and people and nation. The redeemed from all the ages will be at this reunion. Our common bloodline will be the divine, redeeming blood of Jesus Christ!  We expect to finally get to meet many of you we have only connected with through email or on the web. We'll meet the ones contacting us from closed countries who experience real persecution.
  • It will be in the loveliest location. It will far, far exceed any beautiful place on this earth. Now I've been to some mighty pretty areas as the Creator sure made a masterpiece on this earth. But this reunion will be in heaven. 
  • We will be with Christ. Theologian R.C. Sproul writes, "Eternal life for the individual is not an empty human aspiration built on myth, but an assurance promised us by Christ Himself. His own triumph over the grave is the church’s hope for our participation in His life."
  • This reunion will be forever. No more tearful hugs of departure. No more, "See you next year" when that just may not be. This year at our reunion we will miss the husband of one of my cousins who passed away this winter.  No, in this ultimate reunion "we will be with the Lord forever." Notice that wonderful pronoun "we", which refers to both the dead in Christ and those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord.  And it will include the abiding presence of the Lord. That will be the very best part.
Won't it be wonderful there! So today I "encourage you with these words."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray that You will capture our minds and draw our hearts to what has been prepared for us. May we with child-like anticipation keep our attention drawn to the eternal truths of Your Word.  And may these spiritual truths turn our face toward heaven. Our future home where we will enjoy a sinless atmosphere, never-ending fellowship with our brothers and sisters and the majesty of Your presence forever.  Amen.

Custom manure application
Yesterday I participated in a dirty job

We had some interesting work (to me anyway) take place on the farm field across from our home. Farm work has a number of components, some a lot less appealing than others, but all important to the overall operation. Yesterday they applied the plentiful soil enhancement known as organic fertilizer (AKA manure) using a method I had never seen before.
For the inquisitive more photos and descriptions are here.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Won't It Be Wonderful There!"   Video   The Happy Goodmans  An old time song prompted by the final paragraph in today's message.

"I Can Only Imagine"  Video  MercyMe

"If You Could See Me Now"  Video  Truth  We had this song played at my Mom's memorial service.

"For Just A Glimpse Of You"  Video  Mark Lowry   Many of us associate Mark Lowry on the Gaither Homecoming series with his humor but this is a serious song.

"Mansion Builder"  Video  2nd Chapter of Acts

"Oh, What A Savior!"  Video  Ernie Haase and Signature Sound

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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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