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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Russell Stover home
 Russell Stover Mansion
Mission Hills, Kansas

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"Recognizing Worthless Things"

"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word" (Psalm 119:37). 
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" (Philippians 3:7-9).

Gene WeberMy dad was born February 17, 1919 and has been with the Lord for nearly 15 years. So, this week I've been doing some reminiscing about my childhood. We were a middle class family though by today's American living standards, I suppose we were poor. Vacations, except for a few trips outside the Midwest, were visits to see grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who either lived in Missouri or an adjacent state such as Oklahoma, Nebraska or Iowa.

Russell Stover candy boxOne of my childhood memories surfaced when Brooksyne brought home a heart-shaped box of Russell Stover Candies Monday. (She usually buys one box of clearance candy the week following Valentine's Day. She can't justify the calories but it makes her feel good about the bargain price!)  

When I was a kid my dad just loved to load up the family in the car and head out to wherever he felt like going. I recall Sunday afternoons when we would drive throughout the Kansas City area and I especially recall driving by the Russell Stover mansion. It's a large mansion right across the Kansas line. (The Kansas City metro area straddles the state line between Missouri and Kansas with most of the population on the Missouri side.)

As we slowly drove past the Russell Stover home my little sister and I imagined aloud what it would be like living in such a place. There was a certain mystique about the name since Russell Stover candies were just too pricey for our home! Not having much travel experience this was the standard for what wealth was in our eyes.

That was nearly fifty years ago and now we have seen lots of nice homes, including the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island and Lake Geneva Wisconsin.
There are many huge homes right here in Lancaster County, including the Cameron Estate Mansion at the end of our walking trail (photo below).
Cameron Mansion, Donegal Springs, PA

Weber homeWe feel blessed by the home we live in and it is a mansion compared to how most of the world's people live. We especially enjoy our location out in the country. To borrow a line many of you have heard or said, "We are doing much better than we deserve."

Our home and other possessions are a blessing but we need to keep a perspective on their value. Consider the first daily verse as a personal prayer:
"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word."

It is found in the midst of the longest chapter in the entire Bible. Sometimes when reading through a longer section of the Bible we can easily miss some spiritual nuggets. We don't necessarily ponder each phrase and thoughtfully consider the meaning. I have a good minister friend who did a verse by verse study on this long chapter which reminded me of the importance of chewing on each precious morsel of God's Word.

When viewed through spiritual eyes all the neat stuff that is so visually appealing is worthless in comparison to that which really matters from an eternal perspective. That's what we need to constantly remember. I wonder what "worthless things" the Psalmist was referring to?

I suppose they are similar to that spoken by Isaac Watts in his classic hymn, "When I survey the wondrous cross" where he states, "All the vain things that charm me most...."  I have a feeling these worthless and vain things are at least as prominent in our day as they were three thousand years ago or three hundred years ago. In our generation we are exposed to a whole lot more worthless things and a much greater variety!

The Psalmist was wise in identifying this truth and making it a request. Do you see these worthless things surrounding us today? Many are not necessarily bad, some are a blessing and we will make use of them, but compared to those things that matter most they are indeed "worthless." 

Consider the Apostle Paul's perspective on this matter: "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, many people spend their entire lives accumulating that which perishes at the end of our lives. We, too, as believers get caught up in earthly possessions as they require a great deal of our time and often tug at our heart strings for misplaced value in this life. But our possessions on this side pale in comparison to knowing You and Your great love for us. Turn our eyes from that which is worthless and toward that which is preserved for us in heaven. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

There's another lesson in this memory:
My Mom and Dad's attitudes were shaped in their childhood years during the Great Depression. I don't recall any sense of resentment toward those who had more of this world's goods or their whining about life's unfairness. My mom was a homemaker and my dad was a pipefitter and worked at many jobs. He always adapted to do whatever he had to do to take care of his family. They seemed to feel blessed by what they had and didn't focus on what they didn't have.

Stephen's boyhood home in Belton MO

My reminiscing created an interest in locating a photo of my boyhood home in Belton Missouri, which hasn't changed much since we moved from that area in 1970. This is from the Google street view. Many of you who live in America (and perhaps other countries as well) can do this with previous homes you lived in.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"When I Survey The Wondrous Cross"  Video  Kathryn Scott
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

"Knowing You"  Video  Graham Kendrick

"All The Way My Saviour Leads Me"  Video  Chris Tomlin

For the curious here's an aerial view of the Russell Stover mansion in Mission Hills Kansas. (Russell Stover died the year I was born.)

Browser logosThese are articles we come across in the course of studying for these messages or just poking around the vast Internet. In most cases they are not necessarily related to the daily message but may be of interest to our readers. These articles will only be posted once and there will be new ones each post, assuming we come across material that we feel may be of interest. (To see previous links use the archive version.)

"Mohler’s 10 Books Every Preacher Should Read" from the Justin Taylor blog. I was especially intrigued by the description of the first book titled "The Juvenilization of American Christianity" "Pop worship music. Falling in love with Jesus. Mission trips. Wearing jeans and T-shirts to church. Spiritual searching and church hopping. Faith-based political activism. Seeker-sensitive outreach. These now-commonplace elements of American church life all began as innovative ways to reach young people, yet they have gradually become accepted as important parts of a spiritual ideal for all ages. What on earth has happened?

In The Juvenilization of American Christianity Thomas Bergler traces the way in which, over seventy-five years, youth ministries have breathed new vitality into four major American church traditions -- African American, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic. Bergler shows too how this "juvenilization" of churches has led to widespread spiritual immaturity, consumerism, and self-centeredness, popularizing a feel-good faith with neither intergenerational community nor theological literacy. Bergler’s critique further offers constructive suggestions for taming juvenilization.

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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