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Monday, February 10, 2014

Snowy mountain road 2/9/14
Snowy mountain road
Yesterday we drove through the snow on this rural road in a a valley between two mountain ridges. This snowy road is located here (google map).

"The Blessing Of Old Disciples"

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"I was young and now I am old" (Psalm 37:25). "There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge" (Acts 21:16). "I then, as Paul--an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus" (Philemon 1:9b).

Cornerstone class winter retreat 2/9/14
This weekend our Sunday School class had a retreat in the mountains. Our class is called the "Cornerstone class" and as best I can determine began some 30 years ago as a young people's class. When we started attending the church 13 years ago it was a middle-aged class and now we are getting to be an older class, although we'll hold on to that middle-age moniker as long as we can! Most are not yet senior citizen status!

We were able to join them only on Sunday as our weekend was packed. During the morning service one of the original class members shared a testimony which Brooksyne and I discussed on the way home. When Galen was young, back in the 70's, a number of younger couples, along with their small children, were moving on to other churches, conveying a notion that the little country church had no future. It was a troubling time for the church and discouraging for those who remained but several young couples came together and made a commitment to stay put through this most unsettling time. Each of those couples was sitting among us - their commitment remained all these decades later, and the church is stronger because of it. I quickly considered how each of them made such a difference as they served years earlier and continue to give freely of their time, gifts, and service even now.

The church, which is now over 100 years old, has done well through the years and survived the occasional church stirrings such as the one Galen mentioned. Through its history quite a number from the church have gone out on the mission field impacting many all over the world. In fact, Sam Wolgemuth, a young man who grew up in the church, became the international president of Youth For Christ and had a role in discipling well-known Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias.*

I was in a conversation with a couple of the spiritual stalwarts in the class when one said to the other, "Do you realize we have now reached the point of Musser and Eldon. We're the age they were, when we were younger? (Musser and Eldon, two highly esteemed men, were pillars in their generation, one who is now very aged and the other now deceased.)

All through the history of the church there have been those who stay faithful through the course of life and thus become like Mnason in our second text, an "old disciple". Its sobering to recognize how quickly life passes, but it is also a great commendation to become pillars of the faith which is especially evident in our service to the local church.

Mnason barely made it into the Scriptural record. His name only appears once in the Bible, here in the daily text. I'm intrigued by the phrase "old disciple". Luke felt it fitting to call our attention to his age. (He would have a hard time as a journalist in America with such an "insensitive" description!  We like to use more gentle terms such as senior citizen, elderly, older.) Any time Ester describes someone as an old lady or old man we bristle since we know our turn is coming to be described in such a way and we already are by the youngins'. We redirect her to adjectives like, "older" or "elderly" which just seems a little more gentle and respectful. We also remind her that someday she will prefer that for herself.

But the KJV is blunt and accurately describes him. (The Greek word for "old" is archaios from which we get the English "archaic.") Mnason means "remembering". He hosted Paul during his final trip to Jerusalem in 60 A.D. We have no idea of his spiritual background, but he was from Cyprus where Paul had earlier done missionary work.

Sam Wolgemuth We need to honor and value "old disciples". Each generation should have them, our lives are richer because of them. They have a great deal to "remember" as they've experienced so many of life's trials and God's providential care. They teach us as we observe the challenges they encounter and their response to them. Speaking of life's trials Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4 (NLT), "We serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies."

As human beings we recognize that we all live in "perishable containers" that physically weaken over the years, but our spirit grows stronger as it is being renewed by the resurrected power of Christ. I have a feeling that Paul and his associates benefited from the time they stayed with Mnason as he was "remembering" with Paul the times God had done great works in his life.  After all, oral tradition is a great way to teach and inspire others in their work of spreading the Gospel.

What about you today? Do you know some old disciples? I hope so! Let them know you appreciate them and invite their input in your life. Are you an "old disciple?" God's not finished using you on this side, not till He takes you to your eternal home. And even then the life you lived continues to inspire others toward faithfulness until their eartly journey is over. That should make us all want to stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, the light and power of Your glory now shines within our perishable containers, that is, in our weak and aging bodies. You plan it this way so that all can see that any glorious power seen in us is not our own but from You. In the midst of our ups and downs, we pray that our bodies constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in us. That is why we never give up.  Though our mortal bodies may be perishing, our spirits can be renewed daily. Though we suffer unending discomfort and troubles the time is short when compared to the time of eternity, and on the up-side they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! As we grow older we seek to be stalwarts of the faith in our homes, churches and communities. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

(II Corinthians 4:7,10,16,17) - adapted

Ravi ZachariasFrom Ravi Zacharias' testimony (see here). "As young teenagers, my sisters were invited to a Youth for Christ rally. I was not sure what it meant but joined them for the promise of refreshments. It was at one such rally that I first heard the gospel. The preacher was a man named Sam Wolgemuth. When the invitation was given, I walked forward. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew that I wanted what he had."

JK display at Home Show 2/7/14
Friday afternoon we stopped by a home show at the Lancaster Convention Center and strolled through the displays for various home improvement vendors. We visited with Matt, a salesman from one of the companies we serve as chaplains. A couple came up to ask a question and we stepped aside hoping the conversation turns into a sale!

Hoover Convene gathering table (click on photo to enlarge)
On Friday evening we dined in elegance as we gathered with Christian business owners in Ron and Bonnie Hoover's home. We are privileged to serve as business chaplains in several of the owners' companies. The elegant table settings on this long table reminded us of photos that depict "The Marriage Supper of the Lamb". (Click on photo for larger view)

Amish church service parking (2/9/14) (click on photo to enlarge)
Early yesterday morning on the way to our Sunday School class retreat we passed a home with the Amish gathering for church service. Blue Mountain, which has the first tunnel going west on the PA turnpike, is seen in the background. We especially noted the white bench wagon in the foreground. Since the Amish meet in homes they have benches they haul from house to house using these wagons where the services are held. Different branches of Amish have different colored buggies including white. (Click on photo for larger view)

We'll share more of our snowy mountain photos in the next several days!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Too Much To Gain To Lose"  Video   Beyond the Ashes  We encourage you, whether young or old to make a renewed commitment to faithfulness for Christ!

"The Longer I Serve Him"  Video  Doug Oldham

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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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