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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shipshewana quilt of flowers
A colorful quilt of flowers in Shipshewana, Indiana
Click here for a larger photo.

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"But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort You had given him" (2 Corinthians 7:6,7a).

Stephen with his cousin Doug
We enjoyed our time at our family reunion last week in Wisconsin. My sister, Genelle, and I are severeal years younger than our cousins and really never connected that well with our older cousins as children due to the age span. But as we grew into adulthood age was no longer a factor! We enjoyed our extended visit with my cousin Doug and his wife Georgia.

Bright smile
Doug is a small town dentist in a  rural part of the state. He set up his practice over 35 years ago as the very first dentist in town. Now nearing retirement he has developed a loyal patient base. Some come in to have their teeth cleaned just so they can visit with Doug, who has a friendly, very witty personality. I am quite sure apart from smile-brightening Doug has done a lot of day-brightening through the years as well. I sure enjoy people like that and know a number of friendly dentists, including our present dentist, Dr. Dinse. Brooksyne came up with the jingle, " (which appropriately rhymes with rinse). We all need day-brighteners don't we?

I have on my heart today those in tremendous need of a day-brightener. It may be a painful loss resulting in difficult major adjustments ahead. We all need a mighty dose of God's comfort. Many of you reading this know of similar situations and in fact some of you are now in that place of need.

Today's verse reminds us again of the power of God using us to comfort and encourage others. The verse before indicates Paul's need, "For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn--conflicts on the outside, fears within" (7:5). Have you ever felt that way?  I believe we all have.  And I thank God for people who refresh us like Titus. 

He is one of the many ministry associates of Paul with whom we have little background information. He is referenced several times in 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 2 Timothy and most famously in the book written to him that bears his name. It seems his ministry spanned quite a few years indicating that he remained faithful.

The operative agent used by God to bring comfort (Greek "parakaleo", often translated "encourage") to Paul was Titus. He was returning with news concerning the Corinthian believers who had been severely rebuked in an earlier letter. Titus' report brought Paul joy because, "he told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever" (7:7b).

Brothers and sisters, we are all aware of people who may be downcast today, people who need their day brightened. Could our actions or words, or the combination of both be a day brightener for someone in need, just as Titus was used of God to bring encouragement to Paul. He had received comfort from the Corinthian believers and in turn reciprocated by transmitting that comfort to Paul. The encouragement we share might be in the form of a visit, a phone call, or a brief e-mail message assuring the recipient of our interest and prayer. Indeed, let us practice reciprocating comfort and encouragement today. Let us be day-brighteners!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, sometimes we are frustrated by what little we have to offer others when we compare ourselves with those who are greatly talented or those who have a special way with words, or even those who may have financial resources to bless others in ways that we cannot. But we are not limited in reaching out to one who may be looking for a reason to smile or to the one who simply needs a helping hand.  Paul indicated that the comfort You dispensed to Titus, was then transmitted to him, and then he passed it onto the Corinthian church. We pray for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to show us ways that we can encourage those around us so that it will naturally be passed on to others as well. We pray for this through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

A Day Brightener:  When Stephen's mother was still living with us, during her last year, she had many critical health problems and at times Ester did with her heart issues which kept me (Brooksyne) very busy. Nancy, a good friend from the church, called one morning and said, "I feel the Lord wants me to come and mop your kitchen floor." I wanted to argue with her but I couldn't argue with God.  Nancy knew of the ongoing maintenance issue I had with our navy blue tile kitchen floor with what was once white grouting. The smallest dog hair or bread crumb was an eyesore. It was the worst floor I ever tried to keep clean and this was before the swifter mops which meant I cleaned it on my hands and knees. She came over and mopped my kitchen on her hands and knees which had my  floor glistening in no time. It humbled me which God likes to do, but her kindness also refreshed me. After 7 years of dealing with that rascally floor we finally replaced it with variegated linoleum that doesn't show everything we track in when walking through. Now I mop because I know I need to, not because others might notice the need!

Doug shares a story of an encounter with a bright young patient that was just a little more clever than his dentist. Little five year old Spencer was awaiting his check-up when Doug engaged in conversation with him:

What's your name? Spencer
What's your address and phone number? 777 King's Highway, 777-9999
When is your birthday? January 1st
What year? Spencer looked at Doug with a perplexed look, furrowed his eyebrows, and exclaimed, "Every year!"

Shipshewana Indiana

On Saturday afternoon we stopped by Shipshewana Indiana, which I suppose is at the very heart of the Amish area of Indiana, certainly the most tourist-oriented. It is an unusual town name which Brooksyne kept mispronouncing as Shickeshanny. After we arrived she finally figured out how to remember it correctly.  She just turned it around and said it sounds like, "She want a ship" or "ship-she-wanna".

Shipshewana E&S Sales bulk food store
Our friend Lee Smucker suggested we visit the E&S Bulk Food Store which is like a large supermarket frequented by Amish and English alike. The place was packed! Pictured above is the Amish parking lot. The buggies are a little longer in Shipshewana than in Lancaster County.

Shipshewana E&S Sales bulk food store
It's a colorful store with all kinds of interesting displays such as this one
(no horses needed for this hanging buggie).

Shipshewana E&S Sales bulk food store
All along the sides of the store are antique children's riding toys.

Ester with Sheltie pup
While I meandered about the store Brooksyne shopped and Ester fell in love with this little Sheltie pup at the Amish store next door.

Shipshewana front porch
I really like this scene and would sure enjoy sitting on this front porch. However it's actually a photo I took of a picture in a gift shop!

Shipshewana Amish cart
The Amish culture varies by region and we noted several distinctions from the Amish we normally see here in Lancaster County. The buggies have a curved bottom (hard to see in this photo), they are required in Indiana to have a license plate and we saw a lot of stocking caps on the men even on the hot summer day!

We will share our final set of Shipshewana photos tomorrow

Hummingbird (photo by Georgia)
In today's message we mentioned Doug's wife Georgia who shared this lovely photo of a hummingbird outside her window.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resource

"Spread A Little Love Around"  Video  Rickie Scaggs  Although not specifically a spiritual song it sure has a good message related to today's topic!

"Give The World A Smile"  Video  Gordon Mote with intro by Bill Gaither (song starts at 3:30)

"The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength"  Video  Twila Paris

"Smile Awhile And Give Your Face A Rest"  Video  Includes a huge smile (words and tune slightly modified from the way we sang it years ago)

While searching for this song we found this interesting story from over 60 years ago!  

Just as the ushers were getting ready to take up the collection at the Pleasant Hill Christian Holiness Church near Elkton, Md., the Rev. Paul Hilbert saw an ominous sight. A man in blackface makeup, carrying a rifle pressed close against his side, slipped through the door and stood waiting at the back of the church.

Pastor Hilbert promptly struck up a song which his flock often uses on fellowship occasions; he knew the congregation would take the familiar cue:

Smile awhile and give your face a rest;
Raise your hand to the one that you love best.
Then shake hands with those near by
and give to them a smile.

The 50 members of the small congregation obediently began to circulate, shaking hands. When they came to the black-faced stranger, two stouthearted men offered him the right hand of fellowship. He pulled away and ran.

Shipshewana Indiana is here (Google map) Here's a descriptive website

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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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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