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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Abandoned Lancaster County farm
We often pass this rather rare sight here in Lancaster County, an old abandoned farmhouse with boarded up windows. Since property has great value in this area, especially old stone farmhouses, I assume it's due to some type of estate dispute.

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"Leaving Evidence"

"See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!" (Galatians 6:11).

George Beverly Shea
Yesterday George Beverly Shea, who sang for many years in the Billy Graham Crusades, had his 103rd birthday. I attended three Billy Graham Crusades in my life; as a child in Kansas City, Missouri, as a college student in Saint Louis and in my late thirties in Philadelphia. But I suppose I am more familiar due to watching the televised messages and the blessing of a faithful man serving God in his generation. Like many, the song "I'd Rather Have Jesus" comes to mind when considering this man's music ministry.

George was asked this question: "As someone who has walked with the Lord for quite some time, what advice do you have for other Christians?" He answered: "Keep your devotions, study the Word, enjoy His presence, and learn from Him daily!"

Shea's birthday brings to mind another faithful centenarian who went to be with the Lord seven years ago:

Menno Brubaker at 100
What a blessing the first several years we lived in this area to sit in the pew in front of Menno Brubaker Sunday after Sunday. After hitting the century mark he lived to be 102 years old. He had the incredible distinction of being born and dying in the same farm house (which he lived in his entire life). We shared a memorable meal with him and his daughter in that house once. He was a life-long member of the same church. He was carried to this church as a baby, attended all his life and we attended his funeral in the very same church! One thing is for sure, he wasn't a church hopper!

Menno wholeheartedly lived for Christ and scores of people recall, in one way or another, his lasting impact upon their lives. The service was an incredibly inspiring and rejoicing time of expressing faith and recognizing faithfulness! Our small, country church was packed to capacity.

Like many services of this type those in attendance were allowed to share a memory of some way that Menno had impacted their lives. Musser stood up and held a book that Menno had given him as a teenager and read a handwritten note from the inside cover dated 1944 (over sixty years earlier) in which he urged this man on to spiritual growth and faithfulness to God.

I wonder how many long-time Bible readers have paid much attention to the Scripture verse I use today? In my personal study I often need to slow down and ask the text questions. There's a tendency for me to begin by asking how this applies to me. But sound interpretation begins with asking what did the initial writer seek to convey and how would the initial readers (or likely hearers) take it.

In the case of the daily text it seems that that most of the book was dictated to an associate, technically called an "amanuensis".  Paul was letting the original readers know that he had handwritten today's portion himself. "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!"  Some have speculated that Paul perhaps had some type of eye malady and thus the greater significance to his statement. 

But as I ponder the matter further I consider just how meaningful having the beloved Apostle's very own handwriting must have been to the initial readers. It was not only a mark of authenticity but also a very personal expression of care. (Only the original handwritten document would have conveyed this since as the document was copied it would have all been in the same handwriting and of course no distinction is made in the text type in our printed Bibles.)

The point that came to me is the power of our personal notes in leaving a lasting blessing on others, such as Menno's handwritten note in the book that he gave to Musser in 1944. Do you suppose that it occurred to an earnest 41 year old Menno when he wrote the note to Musser, a teenager at the time, that it would be referenced at his funeral over 60 years later!

Several years ago I gave a book to Edwin, an Hispanic chaplain friend. He rather brusquely handed it back to me and insisted that I write a "dedication" in it. That really struck me as I considered brief personal blessings like this that I have found so meaningful in books given to me.

Let's ask ourselves, "In what way are we leaving evidence of our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ?" May our words, actions and even handwritten notes leave plenty of evidence!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart overflow through the works of my hands, the causes that I support, and the spiritual encouragement that I give to others.  As I meditate upon Scripture and apply it to my life, it gives me a firm foundation upon which I remain steady when the surges of doubt and fear soar upon me and it is from this firm foundation that I draw wisdom and biblical experience to share with others and challenge them in their faith walk to follow you wholeheartedly.  I have been given so much because of Your benevolent kindness, therefore I have much to give in turn to those who observe my life.  I want to leave plenty of evidence that You have done a great work in me.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

Due to a longer than expected morning of chaplain ministry yesterday we were unable to get out a daily encouragement message.

Note from Brooksyne: As I think of Menno's funeral service I remember a great spiritual highlight as we waited for the service to begin. In the back of the church there was a very long line of people wanting to express condolences to the family, so we sat in the pews well after the official time for the service to begin. There was a CD of spiritual music playing which helped to fill the quiet atmosphere, but suddenly a choir of what sounded like angelic voices filled the back of the room where Menno's family was gathered. Menno's five children and spouses, along with numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren broke into acapella voice singing in full harmony a beautiful hymn of praise as they entered the sanctuary. Menno left a rich heritage of church music to his family and all who heard were tremendously blessed. The family said that he often broke into song as he lay in his bed and, only the day before his death, he mustered the strength to sing all four stanzas of the classic hymn, "It is well with my soul", which made it all the more meaningful when we sang it at his funeral service!

We received a note from a reader regarding the passing of her Mom, who died recently at 99 and 1/2 years old. She was a believer in Christ, although according to the account I received she was 70 years old at the time she accepted Christ! Let this be a source of encouragement if you are praying for an aging loved one.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"How Great Thou Art"  Video  George Beverly Shea

Here's one recorded just last year!  Video

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"  Video  Dallas Holm

Article on George Beverly Shea

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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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