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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Roses along white picket fence
Our neighbors have this row of beautiful roses growing alongside a white picket fence on each side of their property.

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"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" (Romans 15:7).

Pallet jackIn the course of our company chaplain work we see a lot of pallets. I was visiting a company with "pickers" darting about on skid loaders throughout a huge warehouse as they were moving pallets.

Rejected stickerOne of the pickers had a large orange sticker plastered on her green jumpsuit that seemed to shout, "REJECTED". (The rejected sticker was intended to be placed on boxes that had been rejected.) Apparently a co-worker had placed it on her jumpsuit as a joke and I don't think she even realized it was there!

But it got me thinking. How many people feel rejected by others? How many have experienced rejection by significant people in their lives? Though they don't wear a visual sticker declaring "REJECTED", it's visible in their expressions and their communication often accompanied by a downward cast.

Certainly a lot of people have experienced rejection repeatedly, including some of you reading this today. Read this word carefully and receive encouragement from an illustration and powerful Scripture phrase.

Sandy w/ Ester (about 1998)During our ministry years in New England we had a lady with Down Syndrome in our church who has since gone to be with the Lord. She was a genuine blessing, although there were some funny and at times embarrassing memories I easily recall. Sandy had a deep love for the Lord and was always excited about being in church. The photo to the right shows Sandy with Ester about 1998.

Her niece and husband, who lovingly cared for her for many years after her mother was no longer able to do so, told us this about Sandy. Every
Sunday morning she'd rise at the crack of dawn, get dressed in her Sunday best, Bible in hand. The longer she had to wait the more she grew frustrated that she was going to be late for church! (Several hours before it was time to go!)

I want to share with you one of those special moments in church I hope I'll always remember.  I was preaching one Sunday and made a point with an extra degree of energy and enthusiasm which prompted Sandy to turn around from the second row that she always occupied,  and look toward the congregation as she smiled and blurted out very loudly, "I lub my Patur".  ("Lub" is how Sandy said "love" and Patur" is how she said "Pastor".) Now I know many preachers get an "Amen" or "hallelujah", but I just may be the only preacher in America that got a very vocal, "I lub my Patur!"

Sandy w/ Laurie DeLucaOur church loved Sandy as well.  She felt secure and loved.  She experienced what I consider one of the important functions of the local church; she was accepted.

* She was accepted for the unique gifts that she brought to the church body.

* She was accepted as a reminder that all life is precious.

* She was accepted for the very perspective on life that she brought.

Consider the phrase in the daily Scripture verse, "just as Christ accepted you." The word "accept" is a compound of two Greek words meaning, "to take to oneself." It's an unambiguous command based upon Christ's accepting us and brings praise to God. Some people are easy to accept, others much harder.  Who do you need to accept today?

What a glorious truth it is to be accepted by Christ and become part of His family. Whether or not we have known the acceptance and support of a loving family and faithful friends, when we come to God in faith and repentance we are accepted. He has said, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away" (John 6:37). We are all welcome into God's family…and this by His marvelous grace!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have shown us through the example of Jesus that we are to accept others in the same way that Christ accepted us.  Show us ways that we can effectively reach out to others, especially those who feel rejected by family or society as a whole. Help us to show them genuine love and to initiate a friendship in the same way that You reached out to others and befriended them.  As we do this in obedience to your command and as we are led by Christ's example Scripture indicates that we bring praise to You which is our heart's desire.  Amen.
(Romans 15:7-9)

Other memories of Sandy:

1) I recall visiting her in the hospital when she had an appendectomy (as I recall) She was surrounded by family and friends and surely the queen of that hospital room milking the attention for all it was worth!

2) Sandy was flat footed and more or less stomped as she walked/trotted, which made for an interesting sight as she entered down the aisle to her place in church. One Sunday some guests had unknowingly taken her seat. When she arrived she stood right in front of them, arms folded across, and a scowl that was not exactly a warm greeting to brand new guests.  An usher had to step in and make peace in the situation.  (I don't believe the couple returned after that Sunday though surely they understood the unusual circumstances.)

3) Sandy couldn't read but she always liked to recite the Scriptures with the congregation. She would repeat what the congregation had just read, which was a little tricky for congregational readings, but we appreciated Sandy's heart. 

4) Sandy had a great appreciation for her pastors.  Almost without fail she would ask me about Pastor Larrimore, who preceded me in ministry in that church prior to his retirement. She didn't have favorites; she just loved us both.

Brooksyne's memory of Sandy:  Sandy was the only "other woman" in our ministry who sought the pastor's attention repeatedly.  Between Sunday School and church she'd regularly appear at the window  in the closed door of his office and knock on it smiling and waving, "Patur" . She would only stop after he got up from his desk to personally greet her.  But the scariest time I remember was when she had been dropped off to attend a women's meeting at the church. She was left in our care and after awhile we realized she was missing.  We scoured every classroom, bathroom (men and women's), parking lot, storage rooms, etc. and when she could not be found we grew very nervous.  After a bit, it dawned on me that she might have been searching for Stephen so I headed to the parsonage next door, and sure enough, there she was outside the door wanting to get in to see her pastor.  He had not heard her knocking so she must have been there quite some time.  She was not so happy when the search party insisted she return to meet with the women.  Sandy was very dear and such a pleasure to know during our years in New England.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Amazing Love"  Video  Newsboys

I'm forgiven, because You were forsaken.
I'm accepted, You were condemned.
I'm alive and well. Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again.

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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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