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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ester's baptism photo 3/9/14
"Twenty five years ago I was born in a tiny village in Guatemala."
This is the beginning of Ester's testimony she shared before being baptized (full testimony written below message).

"The Blessing Of Boundaries"

Note: We still have a couple of messages from our series from Romans 1 we feel it is important to share but want to take a break today to share about Ester and the blessing of boundaries.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess" (Deuteronomy 30:15,16). "Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set" (
Proverbs 22:28).

This last Sunday Ester celebrated her 25th birthday by being baptized.  As many of you know she has had many health problems through her life and also had a fear of being submerged in water for most of her life. She has made a lot of progress with water and could probably save herself now if she got in water over her head. About two months ago she determined that she wanted to be baptized and make a public profession of her faith
on her birthday so she began to make her own arrangements.  She loves to talk with her Uncle Pat (my brother) so she gave him a call and he arranged for her baptism at the church he pastors in the Lehigh Valley. It was the first time Pat and I have shared the baptismal together and it was an honor to baptize our daughter.

When we first moved to  Lancaster County thirteen years ago we were looking at the winding country roads and huge farm fields surrounding our rented 1890's farmhouse and Ester, 10 years old, asked me a good question,  "Daddy, tell me where my boundaries are." She intuitively knew the security she had in the boundaries I set in our former location.  (I was and continue to be rather strict and protective while she is in our care.)

When Ester asked her dad about where the boundaries are it's because she was accustomed to nearly 8 years of very restricted outdoor boundaries when we lived in Massachusetts. We had very heavy traffic on US Route 44 at the end of our driveway and it was not uncommon to have people of questionable character walk right through our yard.

So, when we moved to a house in the country here in Mount Joy, with land all around us, Ester had to actually adjust to her new freedoms of going outdoors without us watching over her every move.  God's blessings were manifold in the former restrictive setting we lived in for nearly eight years and they also abound in our lives today in our present country setting.

But far more important than knowing the boundaries I set for her I hope she's always interested in what God's boundaries are for her life. You see, God has set up boundaries expressed in different ways in the Scripture. There are negative boundaries of forbiddance such as "Thou shalt not" and there are positive boundaries of command such as "Thou shalt".

Man's nature since the fall has always been to mess with these boundaries!  Just consider the world's problems in light of this. But how vitally healthy to recognize that these boundaries are for our good.

Although Moses gave the wonderful promise in the daily text to the children of Israel shortly before they entered the Promised Land it is also a great principle applicable to all of His children today.

"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction." Truth be told we might prefer if this just said, "I set before you today life and prosperity", leave the negative stuff out. But God (in this case through Moses) tells us the truth, death and destruction are also set before us if we get off the right path.

For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we are grateful for the boundaries You place throughout Scripture that are solely for our protection. Often it's to protect us from the devil who lurks waiting for the opportunity to pounce and other times it's to protect us from our own vain vices that can be equally destructive. Wise us up so that we don't resent or rebel against that which is for our own eternal good. Rather help us to see that You are an all-wise, all-knowing God who looks after us and sets boundaries so that we don't lose sight of our spiritual heritage here on earth which will pave the way for our eternal inheritance in heaven. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Ester's baptism photo 3/9/14
Stephen pronouncing, "I now baptize you, Ester, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." (Stephen's brother, Pat, in background)

Ester's baptism photo 3/9/14
We rejoice in this great spiritual milestone of Ester's obedience to Scripture. We're reminded of the many along the way who contributed to this special day, such as her Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, pastors, Christian musicians, daily encouragement readers, and on and on the list goes!

Ester's Baptismal Testimony:  Twenty five years ago today I was born in a tiny village in Guatemala. Much to the surprise of those who looked on I was born with very serious heart problems. My birth mother had given me up for adoption to a family in the U.S. but when the family learned about my heart problems they changed their mind.

Three months later I came to the U.S. to live with Stephen and Brooksyne Weber who were caring for children from Guatemala who needed lifesaving surgeries. The director of the orphanage didn't think I would survive the flight to America, but I did. I was only 5 pounds and very sick.  Days later I was admitted to Geisinger Hospital in Danville, PA and over the next three years I had five open heart surgeries. It was after my surgeries that the doctors suggested Stephen and Brooksyne could proceed with adoption plans and four years later, at 8 years of age, I became a Weber. (It took four years for Guatemala to process the paper work.)

I've had lots of challenges with my heart, pacemaker, atrial flutter and all that kind of stuff over the past twenty-five years. But I've learned to be a hupernikomen thanks to what my dad taught me. He taught me the Greek word, hupernikomen, which means overcomer taken from Romans 8 where it says, "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).

When I was about five years old my mother prayed with me to receive Christ as my Saviour during a Sunday evening service in Taunton, Massachusetts. I've learned a lot about God since I'm a preacher's kid. But that sure doesn't mean that I've done everything right. In fact I've struggled over the years giving God proper honor and making Him Number One in my life.

In November last year, in preparation for heart surgery, I had to read the consent form before giving permission for the doctor to operate. It was the first time I really thought about the fact that I could die during surgery. I cried out and Dr. Myers kindly got up from his chair to pick up a box of tissues and hand them to me. But it made me realize that I could only go through this with the help of God. One of my favorite verses is "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

I had a difficult recovery in the hospital following the surgery and became very discouraged. I had a dream that I died and went to heaven and saw my Grandpa Brooklyn Sherrell (my mother's dad) with his arms opened wide toward me. I also saw Jesus with Him. He took me aside and told me, "It isn't your time yet." And then I woke up.

That life-like dream has stayed with me and made me consider that I hadn't yet been baptized. So today I am going to be baptized as a sign to others that I want Jesus to be the center of my life. I love Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

(Ester's thoughts expressed with Mom's help in writing and editing)

Ester's Health Update:  Just yesterday Ester underwent a 6 minute stress walk test to prepare for the next phase of her medical care. She visited pulmonary specialists last month where she underwent other testing. Cardiology and Pulmonary have now conferred together.

The high blood pressure in Ester's lungs is called pulmonary hypertension (PH) or pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). PAH is a chronic and life-changing disease that can lead to right heart failure and liver failure if left untreated. While there is currently no cure for PH, different treatment options are available and Ester's doctor is prescribing the least invasive one. It's a medication that
should relax and widen the  blood vessels in her lungs and decrease the pulmonary blood pressure to her heart and thereby improve its function. This reduces blood pressure in the lungs which generally results in the ability to be more active. She will probably begin this new medication later this week.

We continue to be grateful for those who inquire about Ester's health periodically and for those of you who continue to pray for her (whether we hear from you or not.) One dear person wrote that he prays often for Ester but felt guilty that he hadn't written. Dear friends, the greatest and most important way you bless us is in your prayers lifted up to God for Ester. We are humbled by your prayerful expression of genuine care and that is the most precious way you bless us.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

The Story Behind "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus"  Video  Pastor Richard Kannwischer of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.

"I Have Decided"  Video  Selah

"The Blessing Of The Ancient Landmarks"  A message on today's theme written several years ago

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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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