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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Joe Carroll 12/6/11
Visiting with Joe Carroll
Joe is an authentic World War 2 veteran, a generation rapidly leaving this world.
Today we recognize the sacrifice of those who died in Pearl harbor seventy years ago and all, who like Joe, served in World War 2. Joe who has a very interesting testimony which we share as a link below. Ester snapped this photo as I stooped down to greet Joe.

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"People Blessings"

"The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged" (Acts 28:15).  "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25).

Yesterday we had a busy and fulfilling day of ministry. After Brooksyne spoke to a group of ladies in the morning we went on to make our chaplaincy visit in Palmyra and from there we travelled to the Harrisburg area to visit shut-ins. We first visited Naomi at Messiah Village in Mechanicsburg. She attended our church all her life before her stroke a few years ago. Then we travelled over to Carlisle to see Joe and Jessie Carroll, a couple from a church we served during an interim role some 5 years ago. 

Joe and Jessie are now in a nursing home and this was our first visit to their new location. They didn't know we were coming.  Joe had some serious health setbacks over the past year and we weren't sure that he'd recognize us. We entered the hallway where he was sitting and by his expression, at the sight of our faces, we knew he not only recognized us and was overjoyed at our visit. Communication is very difficult for him due to the laryngeal cancer he endured many years ago, but we visited together as best we could.

Joe is a World War 2 veteran and had quite an experience we shared about in a message several years ago. (See below for link to this message.) It is fitting to honor him and others in that great generation on this Pearl Harbor Day. Life's journey on this earth can be difficult, unpredictable, perplexing, and disappointing at times. It most definitely requires an attitude of overcoming obstacles and setbacks thrown our way as we pursue daily living.

The Apostle Paul certainly could testify to an overcoming life.  We learn of his arduous travels to Rome as recorded in the latter chapters of Acts. It was a wearying journey with lots of disruptions along the way including a shipwreck.  As he approached the great city some brethren had heard he was coming. They adjusted their schedules and laid aside other commitments and
traveled from Rome so they could come out to personally greet him: "The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us."  (See map)

Today's Scripture portion records Paul's joy-filled response when this group of brothers met him and his fellow workers.  Paul had never been to Rome prior to this and these brothers are not identified by name. Frankly I wonder if he even knew these men. Perhaps he was just overjoyed that the church cared enough to send out these brothers to meet him.

Try to picture the scene with us: "
At the sight of these men." Before there's any evidence that Paul had even spoken to them his heart must have been warmed at the sight of these welcoming brothers. What an energizing joy this must have brought him.  Early on in Paul's Christian walk he was discipled by Barnabas, a man who had attained a nickname meaning, "Son of encouragement". Many passages of Scripture indicate that Paul was a man who encouraged others (e.g. Acts 20:1,2). And now others were encouraging him! That's the real blessing of mutual and reciprocal ministry.

I know people like these men and I hope you do as well.  Their very presence is a source of joy. Just seeing them from a distance brings a measure of encouragement.  I like to use the term "energy giver" to describe these kinds of people. A reading of Romans 16 will indicate Paul's rich reservoir of human support and friendship among his Christian brothers and sisters in Rome alone.

When Paul saw these men he did two things:

1) "He thanked God." The sight of these men prompted an exclamation of thanks to God. Now that's a high standard regarding the impact of our presence to others. When people see us do they thank God?

2) He "was encouraged." Regular readers know this is a major emphasis in my life and is at the very heart of this "daily encouragement" ministry. I pray that my presence may bring spiritual courage to those whom I interact with day by day.

We offer several challenges to our readers today:

1) Value the people that God has placed in your life. Are you developing and adding to those who bless you?  Do you recognize them as "instruments sent from God"?  Do you thank God for them and let them know how much you value their friendship?

2) Seek to be a friend such as these men whom Paul saw on his way to Rome.  Seek ways to encourage others and share God's love with a world in need. May we be the sight of encouragement to others!

3) Pastors and church folks: Are you visiting the shut-ins, those no longer able to attend regular services who may be homebound or in nursing homes? Many of these places have chaplains, but the importance of continuity from the past cannot be underestimated.  You are their connection to the "real world" and their life as they once knew it. Your visit will be a blessing and you will also be refreshed as we were yesterday!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily Prayer: Father, we think of the people in our lives that refresh us at the very sight of them or at the mention of their names. They have poured into our lives fruitful blessings by their kind actions and words, by their exemplary lifestyle and so often by their personal overcomings of life's hardships.  May we be not only recipients of such tender mercies, but diligent dispensers of lovingkindness toward others. May our actions and words refresh them.  Not that it should be our major motivation, but we know that when we refresh others, we ourselves are refreshed. So as we bless others, we too are blessed and we honor You as well.  Amen.

Naomi Wolgemuth 12/6/11
Ester took a photo of Brooksyne visiting with Naomi who was excited about introducing her to a friend named Leora, a delightful and spry woman, 99 years of age.  We learned of her missions work in Detroit, MI.  Neither she nor Naomi were ever married.  Naomi is holding our 2012 calendar business card in her left hand, though you can't see it.  She carried it with her everywhere as Brooksyne wheeled her down the halls.  She stopped staff members along the way, "This is my pastor's wife" she would excitedly point out. What a humbling role to play in the life of these dear people who love to connect with their past (though we've only played a part in the past three years.)  Please remember these dear folks over the holiday season.  Your present to them will be your presence.

Jessie Carroll 12/6/11
Brooksyne with Jessie Carroll.  Surprised at seeing us she said, "When we moved here we didn't think we'd ever get to see the Webers again." Once again we were humbled as we realized the importance of our visits to the seniors.

Amish tobacco wagons 12/6/11
During our rainy day yesterday we followed an interesting caravan for awhile on Harvest Road in southern Lebanon County. An Amishman, along with his wife, was pulling two wagons of tobacco with their team of horses, before they pulled into their own farm.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Joe Carroll's testimony and tribute

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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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