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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Roxie's pet therapy ministry
Roxie greeting Josephine.
Josephine & Arlene (looking on) are now with the Lord.

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"Spreading The Word"

"When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them" (Luke 2:17,18).

Roxie at LongwoodOur dog Roxie has a form of "ministry", joining Brooksyne as she visits at Longwood Manor, a local personal care center where we serve as chaplains. Some would call this "pet therapy" but we prefer to call it ministry. Our other dog, a growing border collie pup named Mollie, is a little too young and rambunctious for this type of ministry and our cat Dottie really doesn't care to get out at all. In fact her trip every couple of years for her rabies shot is about all the travelling she can handle!

Brooksyne walks with Roxie through the facility as she greets residents and most of them as well as the staff enjoy seeing Roxie since she is really a friendly dog and mild-mannered. Roxie even wears a special collar for seasonal ministry!

Photo of Roxie ready for ministryBut she really likes being around her family. Whether we're gone five minutes or five hours she greets us as if she hasn't seen us in ages. (typical of all dogs we have had). She indicates her joy by wagging her whole hind end which also happens to make her curly tail move very rapidly. This causes the tip of her tail to hit her eyes repeatedly so it's interesting to watch her deal with the resulting discomfort.  In addition we now have Mollie who vies also for our attention. The jealousy between the two can get just a little ugly from time to time but I think it's safe to say they have also become good pet friends (or siblings).

We feature Roxie in our opening illustration because she serves as a means of warming the hearts of residents who are pet lovers, who might not bother even talking with us as we seek to evangelize, if they have no interest in spiritual matters. This is the case in all types of outreach ministry. There are various ways we might stir the interest of nonbelievers as they connect with us in areas of similar interest, i.e. music, drama, object lessons, sports, flowers, or even our pets.  But our main goal is "spreading the word" concerning our faith in Christ.

The first evangelists were some pretty smelly, sun parched shepherds. They had witnessed the infant Jesus lying in a manger and heard the Gospel from a heavenly choir.  Now they "spread the word."

That's been the mission of believers ever since, commanded in the Great Commission and demonstrated in the Book of Acts. Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."  He's still building His church and all believers are a part of that building process.

At the time of Christ's birth the Bible clearly states that after the shepherds had seen Jesus "they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child." We have no additional follow-up concerning these men after that eventful night.

Like so many at that time, through the ages of the Church and in our own day, they likely had to overcome some deep hurts and losses to cling to their faith in Christ as they lived out the rest of their life on this earth. It's always been that way. We have a couple long-time friends whose wives have multiple sclerosis and are confined to wheelchairs. Both have had some unexpected bumps in life's road, but they continue to rejoice in God's grace and faithfulness!

The shepherds were the first evangelists at the birth of Christ and we are all called to follow their example in spreading the word. All over the world, including your town and mine, this Gospel is bearing fruit and growing today. Our mission is to "Go tell everyone."  Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, follow the shepherd's example and look for opportunities to spread the word.

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain,
Our Jesus Christ is born.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily Prayer: Father, all over the world Your Spirit is moving. And You move through people such as the shepherds who told all they knew concerning the Christ Child.  Two thousand years later we have so much more knowledge and experiences to share with those around us because we have the Word of God that shows Your divine character and tells us of Your great and miraculous deeds. May we never tire of hearing the stories of Jesus or become lax in telling others about Jesus. Your choice to enter this earth in such a lowly and timely manner is a story that not only the shepherds were commissioned to go out and tell, but it is the commission of all believers to spread this amazing story.  It's not just for the people of Jerusalem or simply a segment of our society or a select period in history. Instead Christ's coming affects people of all tongues, tribes, and nations, from the north to the south, from east to west - all who will call upon the Lord Jesus to be saved. Help us to be bold and unwavering in our quest to reach the lost and dying world that touches us each day.  Amen.

Roxie practicing pet therapy
Bess loves animals and she looks amazing for a woman in her mid 90's when this photo was taken!

Roxie and Dottie in front of coal stove
This photo was taken several years ago but looks the same as today except our other dog Mollie who was not with us at the time would be joining them. After a wearying time of ministry Roxie crashed in front of our coal stove, along with our cat Dottie who was glad her dog friend had made it home safely (we assume that's what she is thinking). It's the warmest spot in our house and they know it! We primarily heat our home with this coal stove, using Pennsylvania anthracite coal. I fill the hopper in the back and empty the ashes early each morning. From the hopper the coal is slowly, automatically fed to the burner, a white hot portion only about 4x3 inches but generally adequate to keep our entire house warm except for the coldest days. It has a glass door on the front so I can see the warm glow and verify that it's working. From a distance when I see the light I am confident the heat is there as well!

Mollie catching rope
Mollie is not ready for "ministry" yet but will play "catch" all day long, in this case catching her favorite rope toy. She rarely misses.  Ester took this photo.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Go Tell It On The Mountain"  Video  Jacob Moon

"Jesus Saves"
 Video  Tony Derosa   Outstanding!

"Jesus Saves"  Video In searching for a classic version of the hymn "Jesus Saves" I came across this stirring instrumental presentation. A lot of work went into this, the music is beautiful, and the simple timeless message "Jesus Saves" is seen in many places and various formats.

"The Comforter Has Come"  Video  Jars of Clay (A newer arrangement but same powerful lyrics.)

"Tell Me The Story Of Jesus"  Video  Carman

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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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