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October 30, 2013

Cross made of chain
"The cross we carry is never as heavy
as the chains from which we were freed."


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"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).

Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters,
Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain;
But I received a glorious freedom,
When Jesus broke my fetters in twain.

I-80 bridgeWe first met John Rigard when he was a new Christian in the early 80's. He was divorced and had lived quite a life of dissipation prior to his conversion to Christ. The father of two teens, he had lost their respect and devotion. He was an 18 wheeler truck driver and in desperation had decided to end his life by driving his truck loaded with steel off the I-80 bridge over the Allegheny River, the highest bridge on I-80 east of the Mississippi River (photo on left). But he went into a mental fog and his next recollection was knocking on the door of a pastor's home in Brockway, PA, who led him to faith in Christ.

John Rigard
John planted his roots in our local church and, like all of us in one way or another, had some rough spots. But true conversion results in transformation, which in one sense is immediate and in another sense is gradual.

He had a deep desire to be reconciled to his wife, but the situation looked hopeless, as she was in another relationship and seemed to have no interest in him or the things of the Lord.

John worked in our boy's program (Royal Rangers) and grew spiritually from his interface with other leaders in the ministry. It was so beneficial in steadying him through the tumultuous early years. We regularly prayed for him and the possible reconciliation with his wife he so deeply desired. In the photo to the right John is dressed as a frontiersman.

After several years Rose, his former wife, also placed her faith in Christ and broke off the relationship she was in. Lo and behold I had the great privilege of reuniting John and Rose in marriage and what a wonderful ceremony it was. Best of all a solid, happy union followed as we counted each year that passed. That was over 25 years ago and their marriage was strong and enduring till John passed away about ten years ago. We drove up to visit John and Rose shortly before he passed away. Though very weak in body, he was strong in his spirit as he expressed a steady resolve to follow Christ to the very end.

Unshackled Their testimony was featured on the national radio drama program "Unshackled" in the early 90's and was actually broadcast twice with John and Rose each sharing their story. I wish the story was on an online archive but Pacific Garden Mission doesn't go that far back. 

Here's our encouragement to you today. More than a few times in those early years of ministry some 30 years ago we wondered if John would make it. Coming out of the world as he did he was very unstable.  But there's a great promise in the daily text. Christ had indeed begun a great work in John's life and that work continued till John breathed his last here on earth.

The same is true for all of us who have committed ourselves to Christ and for those to whom we minister. Some of you are discouraged today either due to the spiritual progress in your own life or that of someone to whom you are reaching. Don't give up, press on, stay faithful, and claim this promise!

He who began a good work in you.
He who began a good work in you
Will be faithful to complete it.
He'll be faithful to complete it.
He who started the work
Will be faithful to complete it in you.

If the struggle you're facing is slowly replacing
your hope with despair;
Or the process is long and you're losing your song in the night.
You can be sure that the Lord has His hand on you,
Safe and secure. He will never abandon you.
You are His treasure and He finds His pleasure in you.

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank You for making the gift of salvation available to whosoever believes. You break every fetter and set our souls free from the sin laden chains that bound and enslaved us. We are no longer held captive to sin but we are now joint heirs with Christ. Our pilgrimage is long and the way is rugged; there are times when we become discouraged and even want to give up. But we press on by keeping our eyes on the prize of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus. We don't go by feelings nor are we swayed by other's opinions or their failings. Keep us hungering and thirsting for more of You so that we remain steady in our Christian walk and undeterred by the daily temptations and hindrances the devil hurls at us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Update on Ester: Many readers are aware that our daughter Ester was hospitalized last week due to a problem with a lead to her pacemaker. Since the lead was not working properly she went into Atrial Flutter, which the pacemaker was intended to prevent. They will have to replace that lead which requires open heart surgery. This morning she has a follow-up appointment with her cardiologist and hopefully we will have the surgery in the next week or so. Presently the flutter is being controlled by powerful drugs that can have serious side effects if used long-term.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Glorious Freedom"   Video  Gaither Vocal Band This is an old hymn but we first recall hearing it last December at a "Homecoming" concert in Hershey, PA

"He Who Began A Good Work"  Video  Steve Green

"Boundless"   Video  Shannon Wexelburg  We prepared our podcast early this morning since Ester's appointment is at 8:15. Brooksyne called me from the road and suggested this song in relationship to today's message.

"Unshackled" We still listen to this program on WDAC, our local Christian radio station.

Chaplain Dave Hertle, Omaha TFC chapel
Today's photo of the cross made from a chain was taken at a Transport For Christ trucker chapel near Omaha Nebraska. Above is a photo of Chaplain Dave Hertle holding the heavy chain cross. The links are welded together. The story is here.

Information about the Interstate 80 Allegheny River Bridge at Emlenton. In the larger photo on this site notice the scale based on the trucks crossing the bridge.

Yesterday we shared a powerful video of "Amazing Grace" being sung in a variety of languages. A reader observes, "Do you suppose that at any given time in every tongue someone in this world is singing Amazing Grace, and if that is the case-and I believe that is entirely possible - would it sound in God's ears like today's music resource? That video was awesome. Thank you."

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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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