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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas lights on Plaza in Kansas City Missouri
Christmas lights at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, MO

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
Note: Due to travel a podcast message was not prepared for this message.

During this Christmas season we are developing messages based on Christmas song themes; some old, others new, some well-known, others not so much.

"The Last Enemy"

"The last enemy that will be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26). "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

"Born that men no more may die"

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

Today's Christmas song is a ballad type song that tells the story of of a little boy who's determined to get some fancy red shoes for his dying mother so she 'll look good when she meets Jesus. Ester says, "Daddy, that song always makes me cry." Well, it's brought me to tears on more than one occasion! It's a reminder of the real message of Christmas; a message of the tremendous joy of giving to meet the needs of others. It's the heart of the Christmas message as God joyfully gave to meet our greatest need.

It's also a message reminding us of the pain and death that are a part of life, a universal experience. In fact in the song, and the movie based on this song, the little boy's mother dies on Christmas Eve.

Arial view of Richards- Gebaur AFB, Belton MOI (Stephen) grew up in Belton, Missouri a small town about 20 miles south of Kansas City. Near our town was Richards-Gebaur Air Force base, which was very active at that time at the height of the Cold War. We often heard sonic booms as the fighter jets practiced overhead. We enjoyed an annual open house at the base and seeing the Thunderbirds air show.

But my most poignant memory was in regard to an event that was my earliest introduction to death.

Transport planeOn December 19, 1961 a large 4 engine cargo plane crashed in a field out west of Belton, killing all seven crew members. When my dad got home from work that afternoon we drove out to the crash site where we could see recovery workers among the still smoldering wreckage.

We stood silently observing the carnage on a day I can still recall as cold and drizzly. After awhile my dad placed his hand on my shoulder and explained death to me. He solemnly pointed out, "Son, these men had families w
ho will not see them this Christmas." My dad had trained as a pilot during World War 2 so perhaps this scene also gave him some pause for consideration.

Up to that point in my life I had both sets of grandparents, all my aunts and uncles and I didn't know anyone who had ever died. To the best of my recollection I had never even thought about death. Dad's lesson hit me hard especially with Christmas near. It just didn't seem like something like this should happen at all but certainly not near Christmas.

That was over fifty years ago and I've since had many encounters with what Paul calls "the last enemy". Our Grandparents, both sets of parents, aunts and uncles, now older cousins, Brooksyne's sister and so many others have faced this enemy.
Of course being a minister I have conducted many funerals and Brooksyne has as well. We've worked with people through their valley of the shadow of death.

The early church, having a firm belief in the glorious resurrection of Christ, nevertheless, experienced death; many through martydoms. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is defending the resurrection of Christ and future resurrection of those who believed in Him. Especially in the section verses 20-28 he deals with the matter of human death and future resurrection. 
 "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death."

Paul calls death, "the last enemy" On this side of eternity we all deal with the mortality of death. The closer it hits home the greater the personal and lasting pain. Sometimes death is after a long well-lived life, which of course can still bring loss and mourning to loved ones. But so often death comes early and tragically through disease, accidents, violence, war. It does not discriminate; godly missionaries are slain while about the Lord's work; a young mother is smitten with cancer; a young child is killed by a drunk driver; a baby is violently murdered inside what should be the safest place of their existence. Such is the nature of the fallen world we  live in.

But a future glimpse of heaven brings us fresh hope and eager anticiplation for that appointed day when "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who was born that man no more may die. The grave is not the end for the believer, but simply the passage way into an eternal dwelling with You, the celestial beings, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the saints whom we join there. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, but the lights of glory will welcome us into our eternal home where we will reunite with our dear loved ones who've gone before us.  Grant special grace to those who've experienced recent loss and encourage their hearts this day. We pray for this through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Note: Today's message is actually prepared Sunday afternoon. I expect when this message is delivered to the email list and posted on the blogs and podcast we will be returning from Columbus Ohio where we attended a service for a young five year old killed in a traffic accident caused by a drunk driver last Wednesday afternoon.

We normally prepare our messages each weekday and post "live" meaning we don't schedule ahead of time. But we are able to shedule our message and due to a lengthy trip we do so today. We have this set to post at 9:30AM Eastern time Tuesday morning.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

in addition to the verse from the song, "The Christmas Shoes" we also quote a single line "Born that men no more may die" from a familiar Christmas hymn. Based on this line can you identify the hymn? (see below).

"The Christmas Shoes"  Video  Newsong  This is the song mentioned in the message.

"No More Night"  Video  David Phelps  Outstanding!

"He Understands My Tears"  Video  Isaacs

"The Song Of Christmas"  Video  Newsong

Here's an article about the Christmas Shoes movie.

Here is a link to the actual aviation accident report detailing the plane crash referred to in today's message.


A backseat ride via video  I never did this but did ride backseat in a P-51!

Answer to hymn quiz: "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing"  Video  Chris Tomlin

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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