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Monday, November 12, 2012

Farm in New York State
We passed this tidy farm in upstate New York near Cooperstown.

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"Honoring Spiritual Veterans"

"Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (Hebrews 13:7).

Today we commemorate Veteran's Day here in the United States, a day in which we properly remember veterans and honor their service for our temporal freedoms.* Many veterans read these messages including several we know personally, and we have other readers who are in active service. We thank you for your sacrificial service to our country. My dad, Eugene Weber, was a World War 2 veteran and trained as a pilot. Brooksyne’s father, Brooklyn Sherrell, served in the Army during the Korean War.

Today we focus this encouragement message on spiritual veterans, those who enlisted in service for the Lord on their day of salvation. Many have fought the enemy valiantly and have received their reward. They join others in the great cloud of witnesses. And yet there are those who remain on this side in their senior years of life. They have faithfully served God in their generation and, even as they endure the pain and complications of aging, they faithfully await the Master's call home. Today's message is based on a passage in Hebrews 13.

We got home late last night after a long weekend in upstate New York. On Friday afternoon we drove our Amish friends up to visit family members that live near Fort Plain. Yesterday morning Brooksyne, Ester and I attended a church near Cooperstown and the pastor, prior to preaching his message from 1 John in a verse by verse exposition, stated “I’m going to squeeze the juice out of this Bible passage". Now that's an interesting description of expository preaching and is indeed the preaching method that tends to stay closest to the text!

Today let me try to squeeze some juice out of our daily verse and outline it in three parts:

1) "Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you." Without a doubt the Apostle is speaking of spiritual leaders. They are the ones "who spoke the Word of God to you." Among all the qualities we may value in our leaders; administrative skills, compassionate care, vision casting and so forth, the writer of Hebrews singularly highlights the spiritual leader’s major duty as one, "who spoke the Word of God to you." This is consistent with Paul's challenge to Timothy, "Preach The Word" (2 Timothy 4:2).

What a blessing to honor those who have been faithful in preaching the Word which enables us to assimilate Scriptural teaching into our lives. Hopefully, for most the face and name of a pastor(s) comes readily to mind when you recall a spiritual leader who spoke the Word of God to you, but for many it's also a godly parent or close relative, a Sunday School teacher or other church leader. For some it will be a camp counselor, a youth leader or another individual along life's journey who has impacted your life for Christ.

2) "Consider the outcome of their way of life." The Amplified Bible elaborates here that we are to, "Observe attentively and consider their manner of living." I am so thankful for those whose lives I have personally observed as I witnessed the transforming change Christ makes. In some cases we observe the outcome in the sense of those who have now gone on to heaven after a life of faithful service to the Lord. In other cases they are still living on this side and we observe the present outcome as they demonstrate a steady, mature and disciplined life. The leaders whom our text refers to were real people who were known personally by those whom they served.

3) Finally we are called to "imitate their faith." The word for "imitate" is a Greek word from which we get "mimic". For those of us in spiritual leadership this is an awesome call and responsibility. In his pastoral epistles Paul addressed this. To Timothy: "Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). To Titus: "In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:7,8).

Today, let us indeed remember our leaders, who spoke the Word of God to us. Let us consider the outcome of their way of life and let us imitate their faith.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are grateful for the men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to protect our freedoms here in the United States. We are indebted to them for their daily sacrifice and we pray for their safekeeping, including godly chaplains who serve as spiritual leaders among them. We also consider our many spiritual warriors who have taken on added responsibility and assumed difficult duties leading us, as believers, to victory in this war against sin and strife, as we march in the army of the Lord. Bless these who have poured themselves into our lives and set for us an example to follow; in their conversation, their lifestyle, their faith, their doctrine and in their purity. We honor and bless the previous generation who passed onto us the Living Water and Bread of Life. We now extend the same message to our present generation, for with our mouths we make known Your faithfulness to all generations. Amen.

* Technically November 11 is Veteran's Day but it is being observed today. (See here)

New York Trip

Over the next several days we will share some photos of our trip to New York State this last weekend.

Fly Creek Cider Press and store
The Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard near Cooperstown New York. The large white van in the foreground was rented by the Amish family and we drove them up.

Fly Creek Cider Press and store
The interior of the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard.

Fly Creek broom faces
These colorful broom characters were at the entrance to the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard. I guess they're attending a barn ho-down or something like that!

Barb, Fly Creek founder
While milling around the store we met Barb, who along with her husband founded the modern incarnation of the Fly Creek Cider Mill in 1964. She was delightful to visit with and continues to work hard under her son and daughter's present ownership. We were again reminded and appreciative of small business owners and how hard they work

Fly Creek samples
The store featured at least 60 or 70 delicious samples of dips, spreads, sauces, cheeses, and other treats. Truth be told it was essentially our lunch on Saturday. However Brooksyne also managed to but some product as well. We thought they had a creative way of sharing them! Do you recognize what the container is?

Fly Creek cider making
It was very interesting to watch the cider making process! One of the workers explained the process step by step.

Little girl peeling apples
We saw this photo on the wall at Fly Creek and I suggested that this could very well be Brooksyne peeling apples as a little girl in the early sixties! (If it had been me, my mom would have taught me to use a hand peeler, since we didn't have a fancy peeler like the one in the photo, but I sure do now.)

Pastor Michael and Patti Berger, Cooperstown, NY
Pastor Michael and Patti Berger

Pastor Michael is originally from Brooklyn, NY and took quite an interest in Brooksyne's name. After asking how she acquired such an unusual name and finding she was named after her father, Brooklyn, it intrigued him all the more (especially since her dad is from Arkansas, not Brooklyn, New York). The Bergers just made a trip to NYC about a week before the hurricane and one since and made mention of the fact that much of where they visited the first time is no longer there. We remind our readers again to pray for our brothers and sisters in NYC and NJ as they continue to endure such tragedy.

Michael has a wonderful testimony that we perhaps will be able to share at some point. He was raised in a Jewish home and accepted Jesus Christ as Messiah at age 40. He worked in the eye care field until several years ago when he assumed the pastorate of the church while in his early sixties. He blew the Shofar in the course of the service yesterday. We look forward to visiting with Michael and Patti if we ever get back up that way again.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  We know we use this song a lot as a supplement to our messages but this one seems to go so well again today! This version features Steve Green at a Gaither Homecoming meeting.

Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard

Baseball fans may wonder if, while in Cooperstown, we visited the Baseball Hall of Fame. We didn't this time since we did on our last visit two years ago. We shared a story and photos here.

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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