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Monday, March 18, 2013

Purple finch
Purple Finch
We have a birdfeeder right outside our office window.
With some camera zoom we can get right up close!
(I wonder if birds could name themselves, that this bird wouldn't prefer the name "Redfinch" since it sure looks red to us.)

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"Lessons From John Mark"

"After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let’s go back and visit the brothers in every town where we have preached the message of the Lord and see how they’re doing.' Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. Then Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers. He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches" (Acts 15:36-41).

John Mark Keefer with his Mom, FaitheYesterday I met John Mark, the first time I recall meeting someone with this name (pictured to the left with his mother, Faithe). Interestingly, his father's name is John and he was given the name, Mark, after his grandfather so he's always been known as John Mark. His name also brings to mind a lesser known Bible character who was associated with Paul and Barnabas in the early missionary journeys of the church.

Paul and Barnabas had a long ministry together. Of the two, Barnabas appears first in the Bible in Acts 4:36,37 and later his encouragement was vital following Saul's conversion Acts 9:26-30 (of course Saul became known as Paul).  On the first missionary trip they worked together and, initially at the time of their call, Barnabas' name was listed before Paul's Acts 13:2. This might have indicated that he was more prominent on the mission's team, which also included John Mark, who for some unspecified reason deserted the team in Pamphylia
(Acts 13:13).

As they prepared to depart for a second mission trip they had a sharp disagreement concerning whether to include John Mark as a result of his earlier desertion. Essentially Barnabas wanted to take him; Paul didn't. They actually parted ways over this matter with Barnabas taking John Mark and Paul teaming up with Silas. The record in Acts follows the ministry of Paul and Silas, whereas there is no Scriptural record of Barnabas and John Mark's ministry after this.

The sharp disagreement notwithstanding, I'd sure like to know the attitude of both as they departed and to what degree they had reconciled up to that point. How did they handle the disappointment of not getting their own way?

However two mission teams resulted and, later in his writings, Paul speaks well of Barnabas and Mark indicating that at some point reconciliation had taken place. In fact in his last letter he asks Timothy to "Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry" (2 Timothy 4:11). According to William L. Lane, an "unbroken tradition" identifies him with Mark the Evangelist,
the writer of the Gospel of Mark.*

All of us endure disappointments in life; some, as a result of our own doing, and others due to circumstances beyond our control. Other times it's just a matter of time and the situation pretty much takes care of itself. But how we handle disappointments is a real test of our character as well as a test of our faith. Do we trust God with all of our concerns? Here's where I pull out the old but proven cliché, "Faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted."

I've not always responded well to disappointments but thankfully this is an area in which I have matured over the years, as I have learned and am still learning to commit my ways to the Lord and realize He is ultimately in charge of my comings and goings, my opened and closed doors. May God give us all the needed grace to handle our inevitable disappointments in a manner that pleases Him and witnesses positively to all those involved!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You grow and stretch our maturity through circumstances that often are not of our own choosing. It helps us to gain needed perspective and experience in situations that overall benefit us, perhaps in areas we otherwise neglect. Help us to be patient as we search Your Scriptures and prayerfully seek to understand Your plan as it unfolds in our lives. Align our desires with Your own as we submit our will to Yours. May we not be overcome by adversity but we ask You, Father, to use adversity as a tool by which You carve Your image deep into our hearts. We may make our plans but we realize that, as Your child, You will have the final say. Amen.

Expository Footnote:  I enjoy studying God's Word as I prepare these messages. Luke wrote the book of Acts and as a close associate of Paul's may have been inclined to omit this dispute from the record since it may tend to cast Paul in a bad light. But inspired by the Holy Spirit this dispute is indeed a part of the Scriptural record. In Paul's final epistle (2 Timothy) he writes "Only Luke is with me" and then makes an appeal for Mark to come, acknowledging, "for he is useful to me for ministry." So Luke, who recorded the dispute concerning Mark's fitness for ministry, was with Paul many years later when he specifically acknowledges that Mark was helpful to him in his ministry. I also consider how Mark had to overcome a potentially bad attitude toward Paul as he had once faced rejection from him!

* Lane, William L. (1974). The Gospel According to Mark: The English Text With Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. Wm. B. Eerdmans. pp. 652.

Snow drops 3/17/13
Yesterday on the way home from church we saw some colorful evidence of Spring; these Snowdrop flowers popping up around a tree trunk.

Mollie tormenting Dottie 3/17/13
Normally we keep our cat Dottie out in our utility barn due to her excessive shedding and clawing furniture. However last night we let her come in for awhile where she was initially tormented by our Border Collie Mollie, who loves to herd, having pinned Dottie to the top corner of a six foot high bookshelf.

Mollie and Dottie resting together 3/17/13
Later however they were lying together peacefully, sharing a pet cushion (a first "togetherness" in the two years they've shared the same residence).  They were comfortable until Mollie's happy tail (middle)  began to wag smacking Dottie over and over till she'd decided, "Enough is enough. I'm getting out of this combat zone."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Press On"  Video  Selah

"Faithful One"  Video  Selah

"Through It All"  Video  Carroll Roberson

Yesterday we had a long set of songs in our church that blessed us greatly, all historic hymns known well by our congregation and thus the people really sang out. One was "He Leadeth Me"  Video  I like this version due to the fiddle!

A friend sent me this interesting video: "How The Internet Works" (3:21) The video lets you ride shotgun with a packet of data—one of trillions involved in the trillions of Internet interactions that happen every second. Look deep beneath the surface of the most basic Internet transaction, and follow the packet as it flows from your fingertips, through circuits, wires, and cables, to a host server, and then back again, all in less than a second!

Several weeks ago we shared a message about the specialness of people with special needs. This video will brighten your day. Tim's Place Albuquerque: Service With A Smile. Tim Harris, owner of Tim's Place, is the country's only restaurant owner with Down Syndrome, and the joy he gets from serving people good food carries over into his diner's most famous export: hugs!

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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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