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Monday, May 12, 2014

Turkey Hill cow at Kraybill Church School 5/8/14
This weekend a special fundraising auction was held on our street at Kraybill Mennonite School. The Turkey Hill Giant Cow was parked out front with its new makeover showing the many delicious Turkey Hill ice cream flavors. It would be hard to pick a favorite!

"Our Forever Family"

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"Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that He and His disciples were not even able to eat. When His family heard about this, they went to take charge of Him, for they said, 'He is out of His mind.' He said this because they were saying, 'He has an impure spirit.' Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they told Him, 'Your mother and brothers are outside looking for You.' 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' He asked. Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother'" (Mark 3:20, 30-34).

Yesterday was Mother's Day, in which we honor motherhood and for many it's a day of gathering with family for many here in America. Our Italian neghbors next door, Frank and Maria, had a large gathering of extended family as is their custom. Next to them Mick and Fern had their three children and six grandchildren over. Seeing them depart was a tender scene as the families in their three vans lined up in the driveway as though in a processional. They backed out one by one and honked as they slowly drove away to their own individual homes.

Mother's Day meal 5/11/14The course of life has been different for us. Since our marriage in 1976 we've never lived near family. Our parents are gone and our siblings live all over the country, although I (Stephen) do have a brother about 100 miles away. Ester is visiting with her aunt in Texas for several weeks.

So yesterday it was just the two of us. After attending our church service and then some ministry at Longwood Manor we got home about 1:30 to have our Mother's Day meal which was scaled down since we're watching calories these days. No sooner did we get the kitchen cleaned up than some dear folks drove into our driveway.

Dourte's 5/11/14 Jesse and Wilma Dourte, whom we often feature in our messages, stopped by in a quest for watercress, which grows in nearby Donegal Creek. So we got in the van and went looking but found that watercress is a little late this season. We'll have to wait a couple of weeks before we can get some clippings for them.
The Dourtes brought some hot dogs and asparagus, should they be invited to stay for dinner, which of course they were. As they often say, "There's nothing like inviting yourself to dinner." To which we respond, "There's nothing like having 'family' over for dinner."

In Wednesday's message last week we highlighted the Psalm, "God sets the solitary in families" which is referring to our biological families. Mother's Day is an endearing day set apart to remind us of the sacrifices our mothers made for us. But today we want to focus on our eternal or forever family.

A quick read of Mark 3 would make one think that Jesus is disrespecting His immediate family who had come to fetch Him.
From the reports they were being told about Him they declared, "He is out of His mind". How many times have we said to our siblings while still living at home, "You're out of your mind or you're driving me crazy." Though Jesus was divine He was also human and subject to the opinions of His siblings, both good and bad. Perhaps they feared that his great zeal for God had affected His mind.

Jesus was unconventional in His teaching, His lifestyle, and His miraculous power. People were talking, often unfavorably. Like all families, when one of our own is getting out of hand we lasso them in and attempt to bring them into compliance with the rules of the household and society as a whole. After all, it's not just Jesus who's being talked about but the whole family is surely under surveillance about their nonconformist family member.

The house was overflowing so they sent in a messenger to let Jesus know they'd come for Him. By this time His earthly father, Joseph, is no longer mentioned and most presume he has died. But Scripture reveals His mother's presence all through His life and especially her presence at the Cross (John 19:25)  and in the Upper Room after His ascension (Acts 1:14).

Rather than excusing Himself and leaving with His family, He looks directly at those around Him and responds:
"Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother." Jesus was not referring to His biological family but to His spiritual family. It's hard to write this, but we might find more kinship with a Christian brother or sister who does God's will than a family member who walks in disobedience to God. It doesn't minimize our love for our biological family, but we cannot comfortably talk about our love for Jesus, eternal principles and truths, or agree upon a Biblical lifestyle.

Jesus is referring in this passage to His eternal family. Surely you also can quickly call to mind older men and women of the faith who have been or presently are like spiritual parents to you, such as the Dourtes are to us. Likewise there are brothers and sisters of the faith whom we relate to as though we were raised together. And then there are younger people who walk in obedience to God that we look upon as our spiritual children. We lovingly refer to our Amish friends, who freely express their love and devotion to God as our children, and their children are like our grandchildren (much to Ester's dismay). There is a spiritual connection that is even more powerful than a physical bloodline in some of our spiritual relationships.

In closing, Paul himself, expresses the sentiment we should have toward our spiritual family in Galatians 6:10: "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we are grateful for our earthly human family; for our parents, siblings, and extended bloodline. So many warm memories and formative teachings have shaped us into the people we are today because of their personal sacrifices and loving infuence. We thank You also for our forever spiritual family who help us interpret life's journey though an eternal scope. Because of our mutual love for Jesus we relate as a spiritual mother, father, brother or sister in a large family. We bear each other's burdens, weeping with those who weep, rejoicing with those who rejoice. May we help to meet the needs of others which You have commissioned us to do, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. In the name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Today's message is from a passage which is very difficult to interpret and our exposition should be read as "food for thought" and an inducement to further study.

Brooksyne's Note: We came to know the Dourtes when we they attended Discover Joy, a small country church we pastored several years ago in an interim role. The passage from Mark we share about today has been close to my heart for days and the visit from the Dourtes reinforced the message Jesus conveyed about our eternal family. Perhaps your mother or father are deceased or there is a great distance between you and your loved one. How wonderful that the Scriptures include this setting of Jesus showing love and kinship toward followers of God in the same way we show love and kinship toward our biological families.

Donegal Springs geese families 5/11/14
As we were out looking for watercress Stephen went to the geese's nest of five eggs we featured in this photo. The nest was gone, but the goslings were present along with many others. There were three waddling couples along with their young.

Clarence and Alverta 72nd anniversary 5/11/14
Seventy two years of marriage & counting! Alverta and Clarence continue to amaze and inspire us. Alverta broke her hip about three months ago forcing her to stay in another facility for a few months. She recovered and returned to her husband who is thrilled to have her back at his side.

Baby dedication 5/11/14
What could make Mother's Day at church more memorable and endearing than to dedicate a baby to the Lord! Little Micaiah Kopp resting before the Lord as Pastor John prayed a dedicatory prayer over her.

Please Pray: Ronn, a friend and longtime reader, writes from his heart concerning the kidnapping in Nigeria along with a personal connection:

I write to you briefly with heavy heart. Many years ago I spent 2 1/2 years in Northeastern Nigeria as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker. I spent most of my time in Garkida which is about thirty miles from Chibuk. I also spent some time in Chibuk with the missionary couple and nurse who lived at that out station, where we held an outdoor overnight camp for boys and had a wonderful experience. As best as I can tell, some of these kidnapped girls are granddaughters of the boys at that camp. The Church of the Brethren Mission in that area began in the 1920s and today has nearly 200,000 members (larger than the CoB church in the states). We have spent many years teaching these people how to live peacefully and how wrong fighting and killing is in God's eyes and to have something like this happen is upsetting. Also, about ten churches have been torched by this radical Muslim group called Boko Haran. Not only were the churches destroyed but homes of members and murders by the score. I just heard that this same group attacked and killed over 100 two days ago following the kidnapping.

I am a great believer in prayer and I believe many of your readers are too.  It would be nice to encourage readers and listeners to pray without ceasing that the girls will be found safely and the fires and murders will cease. Our God is a powerful God and I know He wants the same thing. The burnings and murders referred to above were not all from our church in Nigeria, but many other faiths as well.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The Bond Of Love"  Video 

"Bind Us Together Lord"  Video

Erwin Lutzer

A powerful short audio message by Erwin Lutzer regarding the times we live in. (Just under 3 minutes) We have appreciated Erwin Lutzer's faithful ministry for many years.)

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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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