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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Granby Connecticut church with pumpkins
In the course of our trip to New England last week we passed this church in Granby, Connecticut. The plethora of orange pumpkins in the front yard brought the fall colors to life on the leaf strewn lawn!

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"Respect Those Who Work Hard Among You"

"And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding"
(Jeremiah 3:15). "Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work" (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13).

Michelle Stillman's corn soup 10/23/12The other day I was visiting with a friend and had a delicious bowl of chicken corn soup. I knew I was in for a special treat when I saw a quart of heavy cream sitting on the counter. I later found out she prepared the soup with half and half. It was creamy and rich, and I enjoyed it immensely (especially since Brooksyne wasn't there to remind me of the number of calories or fat content)!

Good food is one of the many blessings most of us enjoy every day, but there's another blessing that many of us also enjoy and I want to write about that today. It's a special blessing to have a caring pastor who shepherds after God's own heart.

This month we are encouraged to express appreciation to our pastors (or more generally clergy). After serving for 25 years in full time pastoral ministry I am grateful for the many occasions the churches I served were kind to me and my family. On Pastor Appreciation Sunday they blessed us with cards
, their words, acts of kindness, and often gifts expressing their appreciation.

When we transitioned from full-time pastoral service to the chaplaincy ministry in early 2001 we knew the importance of getting involved in a good local church. After all that is something we always stressed when we were pastoring a church!

We visited a small friendly country church the first Sunday after our move just up the road from our rented farmhouse at that time and it became our church home. The church has had several pastors since that time and, like so many churches has had some hard times, but is presently in a season of health and unity.

John and Faithe Keefer 10/21/12
Our current pastor is John Keefer who is pictured with his wife, Faithe. They blessed the congregation with a special song last Sunday. Theirs is an authentic, unpretentious ministry style that we are very comfortable with. He periodically emails or calls us with encouraging words and sometimes follows up with a thought to one of our encouragement writings. We are heartened by his pastoral concern for us and for others. Pastor John is a faithful contender of the faith and preaches from the Word of God. Faithe is his very capable assistant in the office and sends out emails when there are needs in the church and writes them with such a tender spirit. Each expresses a pastor's caring heart and call to faith.

Pastors are under attack; many are burned out, others discouraged and still others maligned. One of the greatest burdens they bear is the tyranny of expectations placed on them by themselves and by others, who often hold unreasonable expectations. When the pastor makes one person happy he's sure to displease another who holds an opposing view!

How we need the local church's heeding of the daily text: "Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work."

So what can you do to bless and support your pastor? I urge both pastors and church folks to look over some of the linked resources posted in our resource section below.

Two other verses so helpful in this regard: "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Hebrews 13:17). "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Timothy 5:17).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the spiritual leaders You have placed in our lives. We thank You for those who express personal concern when they see that we're troubled and offer Bible-based counsel and encouragement. We thank You for those who contend earnestly for the faith, teaching us simple and profound truths of the Bible. We thank You for those who kneel before You and lift us up in prayer. You've given them a burden to care for our soul, to love us unconditionally. We hold them in the highest regard as they carefully deliver Scriptural truths that will keep us from being shaken as the slide to decadence increases. Keep them safe from the evil one so that they remain a solid example to those whom they shepherd. We pray this in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Photo of Sister HowardPastor John Howard was my first pastor after I accepted Christ in High School in the early seventies. Pastor Howard never had large churches, but due to his commitment to Christ, integrity, friendliness, love and genuine interest in people he impacted many for the Kingdom.  I was one of several ministers he and his wife, Sister Howard, introduced as "one of our boys". I kept up with them through my ministry. Pastor Howard passed away about twelve years ago. About seven years ago my brother Pat and I visited Sister Howard, who was about ninety at the time, in her home in Overland Park Kansas where the photo was taken. She insisted on taking us out for ice cream! At that point she was still active in her church. Several years ago she also finished the race on this side.

Striped house
In the course of traveling through York County several weeks ago this striped house sure got our attention!

Striped house
We stopped to investigate the striped house and take a photo. The owner, an older man was mowing the lawn, and was pleased that we had stopped and mentioned that he had a boat in the back as well. His wife came out and told us that she had told him the house needed painted. One day she came home from work only to see that he had painted the house in stripes. He must like stripes for he also painted his shed, boat, and chimney that way!

Amish straw hats
A common site in our area is the hat rack. The Amish men customarily wear their straw hats while outside but place them on a rack when in a restaurant.

Amish vegetable harvest
On a visit to some Amish friends several weeks ago we saw this colorful vegetable assortment dropped off in front of their barn.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Pastor's Song"  Video  Donna Jackson

"Pastor Appreciation Song"  Video  Chris Rice video adaptation

"Thank God For The Preacher"   Video  Mike Bowling

"Pour My Love On You"  Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean

"If Jesus Came To Your House"  Video  Red Sovine

Some further consideration on this matter:


"20 Characteristics of a Christ-like Leader"  Paul Chappell  This is a great list to inspire pastors.

"A Good Pastor Is…?"  Yancey Arrington

"10 qualities of an effective Preacher"  Author not specified

"Characteristics Of An Effective Pastor"  Ken Kirkley

"Eight Ways to Encourage Your Pastor" Victor Parachin

"14 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor"  Dale A. Robbins

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Ministry Update  (Revised 10/12)

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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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