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April 16, 2012

Lancaster County Farm (Airport Road)
We passed this tidy farm a couple of miles from our home yesterday. I was struck by the close cropping these trees got! Nevertheless they are blooming and a beautiful spread of arbor symmetry.

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"Running In The Path Of His Commands"
(Lessons from Life's Marathon Part 1)

"I hold fast to Your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free. Teach me, O Lord, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end" (Psalm 119:31-33).

Heartbreak Hill, Boston MarathonToday is the 116th annual running of the Boston marathon. When we lived in New England in the nineties several times we enjoyed going into the city to watch the Marathon. The one sport in which I earned medals for accomplishments was long distance running so I can in small part identify with these runners.

But today we also identify since we have a young lady who was a part of our church in Massachusetts who is running. Nikki has aspired to running in the Boston marathon for some time now. But you just don't show up.

A marathon race is run over a very specific course usually on a road comprising 26 miles and 385 yards. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon (the namesake of the race), to Athens.

The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 500 marathons are held throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes. Larger marathons can have tens of thousands of participants. In New England today some 500,000 people will line the course cheering on the runners

Boston Marathon finish line
A welcome sight to weary but enduring marathon runners!

During the next several encouragements we want to draw some spiritual lessons from this event. Most of our references will be from the New Testament but in the course of my study I came across today's reference that I don't recall giving much consideration to, in part perhaps due to it being in the longest chapter in the entire Bible!

I am blessed by the phrase "
I run in the path of Your commands." In Hebrews we read that we are to run "the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1).

God through His Word has provided the life time course for us. His commands are markers along the way keeping us on track. The Christian race is most analogous to a marathon, one that begins when we accept Christ and continues till we finish the race at either the time of our death or when He returns for His church. So let us bravely run the race till we see Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we look to You for guidance on our life's journey.  Your commands teach us the way we are to walk and the way we are to respond to the bumps and potholes we encounter on the journey. We want to run in the path of Your commands, because that is where You teach us how to follow Your decrees. In so doing we become Your obedient followers and help to lead others in Your paths of righteousness.  Amen.

This week our series will be on lessons from life's marathon.
Tuesday: The start of life's marathon
Wednesday: The disciplines of life's marathon
Thursday: The trials of life's marathon
Friday: The finish
of life's marathon

Some photos from our neck of the woods.

JK Workday group photo 4/11/12
Last week we shared how we had participated in a community workday with JK Mechanical, one of the companies we serve as chaplains. Here's a group photo in front of the church we were renovating to be a community ministry center. Brooksyne and I are in the top center wearing white hard hats. This is the first time we appear in Daily Encouragement wearing hard hats, a far cry from the gardening hat Brooksyne wore a couple weeks ago! We shared more photos and info about this workday with this encouragement message.

Lee and Tammy 4/15/12Yesterday we visited a church near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that we served about five years ago in an interim role. It was a blessing to catch up with some friends we had made at that time and see the church continuing to serve as a lighthouse for Christ. Following the service we had a delightful lunch and fellowship with Lee and Tammy.

Geese pair 4/14/12
For several weeks we have been watching a pair of geese. The female is nesting among the rocks and the male is in the water keeping a close eye. This was the scene on our walk Saturday morning. Yesterday the nest was empty and we saw the pair from a distance with their gosslings. It was too far away for a good photo showing the gosslings but hopefully we will soon have a photo to share!

Wilma with puppy 4/15/12
Yesterday Ester chose to attend our home church in Mount Joy where she enjoys seeing the people she knows well. The Dourtes invited her over to their place for lunch.  Following the meal they visited Amish neighbors where Wilma enjoyed snuggling with one of their puppies. Ester took this photo and the next two photos and is really enjoying photography!

Jesse and Wilma with Amish children 4/15/12
It was a beautiful day and the children enjoyed playing outside and visiting with Jesse and Wilma.

Collecting watercress 4/15/12
The Dourtes brought Ester home yesterday afternoon. Following a light dinner we drove them around our neighborhood. As we drove along Donegal Creek looking for the goslings they spotted an abundance of watercress growing in the creek and along the creekbed. Wanting to be a nice guy I got out and picked handfuls for them, but had not changed from my church shirt. I found out picking watercress from a creek can get you splattered with lots of mud!

Manure speading 4/16/12
We really enjoy living out in the country but several times a year must endure the application of organic fertilizer to nearby fields and the accompanying odor. This morning the field across from us is getting the treatment and we're getting the wafting aroma!

Today the Boston Red Sox play a home game against the Tampa Bay Rays beginning at 11:05 this morning, a rather unusual time for a baseball game! They do this so the conclusion of the game will coincide with the arrival of the elite Marathon runners since the course runs near Fenway Park. We have been there and it is an electric moment to see the crowds leaving the game (it will without question be a sold out game!) and seeing the runners come by.

Today is also a holiday unique to Massachusetts called "Patriot's Day".

For those who may be influenced by the politically correct view that denies the Judeo/Christian influence of our nations founders consider this proclamation made by one of the signers of the declaration of Independence.

Once the wealthiest merchant in Boston, John Hancock was groomed by Sam Adams and became one of the leading players in the Revolution. He presided over the Second Continental Congress and was the sole signer of the Dunlap-Broadside version of the Declaration. He was the first elected governor of Massachusetts, and was reelected 8 times. He was reelected President of the Second Continental Congress after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, and presided over the Massachusetts convention which ratified the Constitution of the United States. However John Hancock is best known for having the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence.

On April 15, 1775, four days before the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” he issued this proclamation:

“In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent Measure should be taken to ward off the impending Judgements.

“All confidence must be withheld from the Means we use; and reposed only on that GOD who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose Blessing the best human Counsels are but Foolishness--and all created Power Vanity.

"It is the Happiness of his Church that, when the Powers of Earth and Hell combine against it...that the Throne of Grace is of the easiest access--and its Appeal thither is graciously invited by the Father of Mercies, who has assured it, that when his Children ask Bread he will not give them a Stone....

"RESOLVED, That it be, and hereby is recommended to the good People of this Colony of all Denominations, that THURSDAY the Eleventh Day of May next be set apart as a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer...to confess the sins...to implore the Forgiveness of all our Transgression...and a blessing on the Husbandry, Manufactures, and other lawful Employments of this People; and especially that the union of the American Colonies in Defense of their Rights (for hitherto we desire to thank Almighty GOD) may be preserved and confirmed....And that AMERICA may soon behold a gracious Interposition of Heaven."By Order of the [Massachusetts] Provincial Congress, John Hancock, President.”

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  Let There be Praise Singers

I chose this song recalling these lines,

We're pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace.

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

"It Will Be Worth It All"  Video  A group of Canadian young adults at a camp in Nova Scotia.  This song has a line I recalled in the message that states "so bravely run the race till we see Christ".

Last week all of our daily encouragement messages dealt with the resurrection of Jesus Christ as taught in each of the major sections of the New Testament.
Monday's message was from the Gospel accounts. We tend to be most familiar with the resurrection accounts that each of the four gospels have and these are the passages that most preachers use on Easter Sunday. Obviously we could develop more than one message from these accounts but thought it would be beneficial to study the resurrection in the rest of the NT.
Tuesday's message examined how the resurrection was a core element in apostolic preaching in Acts.
Wednesday and Thursday we studied the resurrection teaching in the epistles and finally Friday's study was from the Book of Revelation!
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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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