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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chinese worship service
Several days ago we received an email from a reader in China. He shared of the work of the Holy Spirit in a particular city where many are turning to Christ and sent me a series of photos. What a joy to see our Chinese brothers and sisters worshiping the Lord! I just heard an up to date report on Christian radio yesterday about the spread of the Gospel in China. Although his particular city has not faced persecution we felt sharing facial photos on this site might jeopardize them but this photo is a reminder that all over the world, the Spirit is moving! (Photo posted with our reader's permission.)

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"The Result Of Our Ministry"

"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" (2 Corinthians 3:2,3).

Our lives are a compilation of the scores of people who have impacted us, both good and bad. I am so thankful for the many who have had a positive impact on my life. Some are famous and have names recognizable to many. But most are the everyday folks I have associated with in church and elsewhere along the path of life.

Howard HendricksLast week a reader informed me that Howard Hendricks had passed away. For sixty years he taught at Dallas Theological Seminary and is best known for teaching preachers and teachers about teaching. I don't recall ever hearing him live but years ago we provided training for our Sunday School teachers using his video series.

I suppose what I remember most was not his teaching on methodology, which he is famous for, but his real life stories of ordinary people whom he met in the course of life who made an impact on him and others. Let me share one story in his own words that is essentially his testimony:

With the kind of start I had in life, I’m sure I could have soon died and gone to hell and nobody would have particularly cared. I was born into a broken home, my parents having separated before I was born. The only time I ever saw them together was eighteen years later when I was called to testify in a divorce court. As a boy I lived in a neighborhood in north Philadelphia in which they said an evangelical church could never be planted.

But God has a fantastic sense of humor whenever anyone decides what can’t be done. He led a small group of Christians to band together, buy a little house there, and start a church. One man in the church was named Walt. He had only a sixth-grade education.

One day Walt told the Sunday school Superintendent he wanted to start a Sunday School class. "That’s great, Walt," he was told, "but we don’t have an opening for you." Walt insisted, however, so the superintendent said, "Good. Go out and get a class. Anybody you find is yours."

Then Walt came into my community. The first time we met I was playing marbles out on the concrete. "Son," he said, “how would you like to go to Sunday school?" I wasn’t interested. Anything with school in it had to be bad news.

So he said, "How about a game of marbles?" That was different. So we shot marbles and had a great time, though he whipped me in every single game. (Now you know: I lost my marbles early in life.) By then I would have followed him anywhere. Walt picked up a total of thirteen boys in that community for his Sunday school class, of whom nine were from broken homes. Eleven of the thirteen are now in full-time vocational Christian work.

Actually, I can’t tell you much of what Walt said to us, I can tell you everything about him…because he loved me for Christ’s sake. He loved me more than my parents did. He used to take us hiking, and I’ll never forget those times. I’m sure we made his bad heart worse, but he’d run all over those woods with us because he cared.

He was not the most scintillating person in the world, but he was for real. I knew it, and so did everyone else in that class. So you see, my interest in teaching is much more than professional. It’s also intensely personal—and, in fact, a passion—because the only reason I have a ministry today is that God brought along my path a committed teacher.

When I read this story it stirs emotions within me that leads me down memory lane to the people who cared enough to reach out to me. Can you think of some people like Walt in your life? Or are you reaching out, like Walt, to those who might be awarded the "Most unlikely to succeed", the throw-aways of society?

Paul had established the church in Corinth and spent 18 months as Pastor, "teaching them the word of God" (Acts 18:11), before moving on and leaving the church under the care of others. We have more material written by Paul to the Corinthian believers than to any other single church. But there's a single phrase in the text I would like to highlight today. It will bring great encouragement for any who face the inevitable discouragement of ministry for Christ. Paul, who wrote the letter along with Timothy, speaks of these dear Corinthian believers as "the result of our ministry."

What is the result of your ministry? There's no record that Paul ever headed up any type of building project or that he preached to large multitudes of people. He didn't have a best-selling book published (during his own lifetime) or otherwise have any experiences normally associated with "success" in the modern sense. Most of his recorded ministry is to small groups or one on one. Yet at the end of his life Paul had a host of people all throughout Palestine, Asia Minor and southern Europe whose lives he had impacted for Christ. These were the results of his ministry. 

Today you may have a tendency to look at a specific situation in your life which can lead to discouragement. Someone's rejected you, someone else is criticizing you; another, like Demas, has gone back into the world's ways. But I hope you have the perspective, like the apostle Paul, to rejoice at the results in your ministry of those who are continuing steadfast in faithful, fruitful service for Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are so thankful for the brothers and sisters we've met on life's highway who've poured into us their time, zeal, wisdom, and love. And when we were unresponsive to their loving attention, they didn't walk away but continued to pray and invest in our lives. We are so much better for it and are further motivated to reach out to the unlovely and those deemed for failure by the world. Help us to see people through Your eyes, Father, and recognize their inestimable worth. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Tomorrow we will share another story Howard Hendricks told that illustrates the wonderful dedication of ordinary people serving Christ.

Note from Brooksyne: I can certainly appreciate the impact of the Sunday School teacher who made an impact on Howard Hendricks. Though I attended Bible College to further train for vocational ministry, I know that the enthusiastic and diligent teaching of my Sunday School teachers in my Elementary and High School years was the beginning of the calling God placed upon my life.

I'm so grateful for my Sunday School teachers' faithful ministry as they lovingly taught the truths of God's Word. What a genuine and indescribable feeling comes from knowing that we have a part in another's spiritual birth and growth. We all can make an eternal difference for the kingdom of God!

Here's a more lengthy perspective we wrote many years ago on ministry results along with a testimony by Brooksyne. Not In Vain

Pepper Jam!

For our canning friends, today we share a series of photos of Brooksyne's recent canning project making Pepper Jelly using her new Victorio Steam Canner!

Peppers for pepper jam
I've made Pepper Jelly in the past from scratch. Slicing 4 pounds of jalapenos, about 80 small peppers, is nasty work! The house is consumed with hot pepper vapors which burns the eyes and irritates the throat, in addition to the runny nose, and you can't tend to the problem because you've had your hands in the peppers. So....this time I took the easy way out and used Mrs. Wages Pepper Jam kit. All the jalapenos and heavy duty spices are dehydrated in the kit. All I had to cut up were colorful bell peppers. What an easy difference it made!

Straining mix for pepper jam
After processing the peppers about 5 cups of juice is collected from the cheesecloth. (I froze the pulp for another use)

Boiling mix for pepper jam
The pepper juice, pectin, and other seasonings are brought to a boil.

Steam canner bottom for pepper jam
This is the water bath method using the steam canner (only 2 quarts of water in the bottom of the canner).

Steam canner bottom for pepper jam
Pepper Jelly jars nestled on the canner rack ready to be steamed for ten minutes.

Steam canner for pepper jam
The lid properly fitted so that temp properly rises for steaming. The handle at the top has a handy built in thermometer.

Pepper jam jars
The colorful results of Pepper Jelly sealed up in jars.

Pepper jam biscuit!
Tasty and sweet (but also spicy) results of home canned Pepper Jelly which happens to be one of Stephen's favorite spreads that I make.
(I really like the Victorio Steam Canner since it is much easier to handle than the Water Bath Canner that requires a couple gallons of water for processing. The down side is that the rack is made to hold pints and quarts. The 8 oz. jelly jars are a bit more challenging to steady on the steam canner rack.)

Jalapeno Quiche

(A delicious recipe using pepper jam. It is very easy to prepare and is a crowd pleaser
even for those who don’t usually like spicy foods. I never have leftovers.)

1 ˝ C. Hot Pepper Jam
2# shredded sharp cheddar cheese
10-12 eggs, beaten
Chili powder, salt & pepper

In 9X13 dish spread jelly over bottom (heat in microwave if jelly does not spread easily.)
Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over top of jelly.
Beat eggs, season with chili powder, salt and pepper (to taste). Extra jelly can also be stirred into eggs.
Pour evenly on top of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 30 to 40 minutes until browned on top. Let it sit for five or more minutes for easy cutting. Freezes very nicely and reheats in microwave.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Jesus Use Me"  Video  Rebel's Quartet (never heard of this group before!) This is really an old recording! We sang this song in Bible College around the altar but we haven't heard it much since. The chorus goes:
Jesus use me
and O Lord don't refuse me
Surely there's a work for me to do
And even though it's humble
Lord help my will to crumble
Though the cost be great
I'll work for you

"Use Me, Jesus Use Me"  Video  A children's choir! Adorable!

"Use Me"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"The Seven Laws Of The Teacher"  Video  Howard Hendricks

"The Ultimate Final (Part one)"  Video  One of Howard Hendrick's final messages  Part two  Part three

Biography of Howard Hendricks

I enjoy an aspect of our type of chaplaincy in seeing products of all types being made. Last week two men showed me a tiny machine part they were making and the intricate detail which required a magnifying eye piece just to work on. My brother Pat sent me this astounding video regarding developments in replicating technology. What's especially amazing is the moving parts!

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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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