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Monday, January 7, 2013

Sam Wagner Covered Bridge, Montour County, PA
A trip to northern PA Saturday gave us an opportunity to drive through the Sam Wagner Covered Bridge which is over the Chillesquaque Creek on the Northumberland/Montour County line.

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"Better The House Of Mourning"

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart" (Ecclesiastes 7:2,3). "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Hebrews 9:27,28).

Marian B. Myers (November 17, 1931 - December 23, 2012)On Saturday we drove up to northern Pennsylvania to attend the Memorial Service for Marian Myers, the mother and grandmother of friends of ours. The service was very uplifting and honoring to God from beginning to end. Though we had never personally met Marian, her pastor interweaved many written tributes by her children and grandchildren, so that we began to feel like we knew her personally. The recurring theme of written and spoken tributes described Marian as a godly woman, tenderhearted, and strong in Christian character.

An older pastor made some comments at the beginning of the service and shared a Scriptural thought I had not previously thought about. He merely alluded to a verse without giving the reference so I did some searching to see if it was really in the Bible! It is and it's expressed in the first daily text:
"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart."

Notice that Solomon, writer of Ecclesiastes, states,
"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting."  This begs the question, in what sense is it better?

Church potluck dinnerActually, on first instinct, I would much prefer the house of feasting. Consider the family gathered around the table for a big Thanksgiving meal or joining together with friends to watch the Super Bowl and inevitably feasting on addictive snack foods such as guacamole dip with chips, chicken wings or spicy meatballs. We look forward to church fellowship dinners, especially the potluck variety, or a group of friends joining us for a cookout.

But let us consider the sense in which the "house of mourning" is better than the "house of feasting". The Scriptures are so insightful. They go way beyond skimming the surface to exploring the depths of who we are and how our greatest needs can be met. The reasons that mourning is even more essential than feasting is listed in the following two phrases in the text. In retrospect as I consider the times we have experienced the "house of mourning" I fully understand the writer's premise.

1) "For death is the destiny of every man." In other words, death is inevitable. It's part of the grand plan of how things work as a result of the original fall. Each time we go to the house of mourning this universal reality confronts us. We are reminded that life on this earth is temporary and that we all have an expiration date. Otherwise we might get so caught up in the "here and now" that we don't make adequate plans for the "there and later".

2) "The living should take this to heart" The "house of mourning" helps us to consider our heart's condition and the state of our soul. Of course most of us have been to a variety of house of mournings, yet the tone of the memorial service and the variety of people who gather can make the setting as different as night and day.

I have attended memorials for those who lived outside of Christ where no hope in Christ was presented. I recall one with "Grateful Dead" music being played throughout the gathering. I found that experience to be a spiritually dark place! Anyone attending who might be giving thought to their eternal destiny would surely not find the proper answers to life beyond the grave in a setting like this.

Old hands on Bible
However we consider the blessedness of being in the "house of mourning" of one who lived for Christ. In the service Saturday we heard godly music that lifted the soul, a pastor reminding all in attendance of the need to prepare for their eternal destiny (as requested by Marian who planned her own funeral service). Verbal tributes included a granddaughter who overflowed with tear-filled joy as she gave thanks for Grandma Marian who gave her a Bible and took her to church, where at 16 years of age, she surrendered her life to Jesus.

The second daily text also deals with the destiny of death but describes how Christ has made a way through His atoning sacrifice:
"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him."

Keep living for Him who bore our sins and keep looking to Him who brings our salvation.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we rejoice in the feasting periods and reflect in the mourning periods of our life. The richest experiences that shape our character are from the great highs and the deep lows we encounter over a lifetime. Not only do we spend time reflecting, studying, and learning from these experiences, but they speak to us of the importance of who we are in the midst of those circumstances. In the house of feasting we rejoice in our accomplishments and those of others from year to year. But in the house of mourning we consider the lives of those who go before us, seeking to mirror the good we witnessed or experienced from their lives. It prompts us to assess our own hearts. Are we ready should You call us to our eternal destiny? We know that planning for this life is important, but planning for the next life is absolutely essential. We want to be ready by receiving Jesus into our life and living according to Your plan as revealed in the Bible. By Your grace we can do so through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Farm in Northumberland County, PA
We have very little snow here in Lancaster County but traveling north we saw a lot more. This expansive farm in Northumberland County is near Milton, PA. Here's a larger view.

Boat for sale in snow
We enjoy interesting sights when we travel and passed this boat parked in the snow. Seems like a pretty good price assuming it actually floats in water! We thought of Geno, a friend of ours who is looking for a used fishing boat and asked us to be on the lookout in our travels. This is the first we spotted!

No photo available, but yesterday we came up behind an Amish buggy with a small tag, kind of like a license plate stating, "I'd rather be riding a train"

Ray and Vickie Mancini 1/4/13
Our friends Ray and Vickie Mancini visited us Friday afternoon. They came down to Lancaster County to celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary. They are originally from Queens, New York but for many years have lived in Phillipsburg, NJ.

Photo of Wolgemuth Tombstone
Yesterday our pastor preached on the second coming of Christ and referred to a longtime church member who passed away at 105 years old shortly after we moved to this area. Cecelia Wolgemuth has an interesting and very unusual distinction of living in three separate centuries (note the dates of her birth and death! Notice the powerful Scripture inscription, "For Me To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain"

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

Today we will share a larger than usual assortment of music dealing with today's topic.

"When It's All Been Said And Done"  Video  Robin Mark

"Faith Of Our Fathers, For The Beauty Of The Earth"  Video  Leaman family. Marian's granddaughter along with her two young daughters played these hymns so beautifully. I believe the girls are 8 and 10 years old. They're remarkable musicians for their age.

"Amazing Grace"  Video  Chris Tomlin  

"All My Tears" Video Selah

"Going Home"  Video  Mark Lowery

"What A Day That Will Be!"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Save A Place For Me"  Video  
Matthew West

"If You Could See Me Now"  Video  Truth

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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