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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chiques Rock overlook with train 6/16/14
Chiques Rock Overlook with approaching train
Yesterday afternoon our friends the Matangelos, who reside in Hickory, NC, came for a visit. Mike, their daughter Tina, and I headed over to the Chiques Rock overlook, a high bluff looking out over the Susquehanna River. As we headed back I heard a train coming. Any who knows me knows that I really like trains so we quickly headed back for a better look. Nothing like the sight of a train coming down a river valley.

"God Is Good"

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"For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:5). "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Most Americans would recognize the name, Todd Beamer. After his directive, "Let's roll" was sounded to the other courageous passengers on board Flight 93, during the 9/11 terrorist attacks he went down in fame for his part in subduing the hijackers.
Many believe his brave actions spared a direct attack on the White House or US Capitol. Many of you are aware that Todd was a devout follower of Christ.

But I ask you today, have ever heard of Don and Jean Peterson from Spring Lake, New Jersey?

In June 2003 we were in central Pennsylvania where I conducted a wedding (see below). At that time our family also visited the site
where Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It's in a very remote, rural location over a former strip mine. The memorial at that time was but a mere gravel parking area overlooking the actual site of the crash some 200 yards away. Local "ambassadors" volunteered for two hour shifts explaining the direction the plane came from, where it crashed, the initial local response, etc. At the time we visited, the farmer who actually witnessed the plane's crash was also there to share his account.

The memorial itself was a vertical stand about 8 feet tall and 24 feet long, covered with Fire Company hats, news clippings, and white boards that visitors wrote on. These white boards were removed every few days and stored to be part of a permanent memorial. All around the memorial stand were other smaller memorials from all over the world. At that time people came and went throughout the day with about 20 there at any given time.

The most outstanding piece of information we heard about was something I don't recall ever reading or hearing prior to our visit at the memorial site. The crash itself was of course horrific, with the plane hitting the surface at nearly 600 miles per hour and plunging deep into the ground (it's thought the depth was in part due to the ground not being compacted because of the strip mining activity). The plane was so utterly destroyed that only a smoldering crater was found.

The first responders, who arrived shortly after the crash, found only two identifiable objects; a burning tire and an open Bible near the site. The Bible was completely intact, with the cover barely singed. It was open to a portion from 1 Kings 12 that deals with the division of the Kingdom.

We began this message by asking if any of you had ever heard of Don and Jean Peterson. Probably not. Research indicates that Don was the owner of the Bible. On Sept. 11 they had planned to take a later flight (Flight 91) to go to a family reunion at Yosemite National Park, but at the airport that morning they switched to the earlier less-crowded Flight 93.

Pastor Jim Loveland, said, "I wasn't on that plane, but I believe I know what happened. At the end, I'm sure they were praying and ministering with the others, encouraging them to be right with the Lord," Loveland said. "That's what their lives were about." Their memorial service drew nearly 1,000 people they'd worked with, helped or counseled and had to be moved to a larger sanctuary nearby.

Let's consider how we often testify to God's goodness when things work out the other way. Let's just change the story to our liking: "The Peterson's scheduled to be on Flight 93 were delayed in traffic, missed their flight and were thus spared from death". That's normally the way we like the story to go and when that happens we rejoice and proclaim to others, "God is good."

But His goodness is not always expressed in ways we clearly see or understand since we view only from this side. God is no less good in regard to outcomes we just don't understand.

In R.C. Sproul's book, "The Providence of God", he writes concerning Romans 8:28: "
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

"There’s no other text that demonstrates so clearly and magnificently the beauty of God’s sovereign providence than Romans 8:28. The text does not say that everything that happens to us, considered in and of itself, is good; rather, it says that all things that take place in our lives is working out with other things for our good. That is the master plan of God’s redemptive providence. He brings good out of evil. He brings glory out of suffering. He brings joy out of affliction. This is one of the most difficult truths of sacred Scripture for us to believe. I’ve said countless times that it is easy to believe in God but far more difficult to believe God. Faith involves living a life of trust in the Word of God."

Today we encourage our readers to assert with confidence that the Lord is good.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, You have called us out as ambassadors for Christ, and in so doing, we make the proclamation of the gospel known not only with our words, but also with our lives. As we approach each new day we're given a set of challenges. Some that will last only a day but others that will require endurance for years, even a lifetime. The way we deal with those "things" will bring You glory or may be a stumbling block to faith for those who observe. Father, You make Your appeal through us so it is our heart's desire to trust You in all things - knowing they work together for our good and for the good of the kingdom. Remind us that You are working out Your purpose in our lives so that we will not be consumed with the smoothness of our plans, but rather the unfolding of Your Kingdom plans recognizing and acknowledging that You are good. Through all circumstances God, You are good - period!  It is in the name of Jesus that we give You thanks and praise. Amen.

Carrie and Francisco's wedding 2003Today's message was in part prompted by a Facebook photo we saw posted of the young couple whose wedding we attended in central PA back in 2003. I had notes concerning the Flight 93 memorial but it wasn't till preparing today's message I learned about Don and Jean Peterson.

Carrie grew up attending the church I pastored in northern Pennsylvania and went on to do mission's service in Colombia where she met Francisco. I had the privilege of conducting their wedding in 2003.  They now have three children and continue to faithfully serve the Lord. Carrie's parents, Jack and Chris Mansfield, are longtime friends who now live in New York state.

Matangelo family 6/17/14
Kathy, Mike & Tina Matangelo enjoying a pancake breakfast with the Webers in the beautiful outdoors. Without any fees we were serenaded by the many songbirds intermingled with a little bit of farm smell now and then (fertilizer whiffs were free as well). But that's real country life which we love!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman  This morning we heard this favorite on our Christian radio station and feel it goes so well with our message.

"I Know"  The Lebeaus  Mike shared this interesting song with me. It should
open here and play.

For further study on Romans 8:28 we recommend the Precept Austin online study notes.

We prayed as a family at the site as we prepared to leave. We prayed for the family members and for our country. We prayed for clear minds to confront the evil that prompted these terrible attacks. Certainly the terrorist attacks and contemporary events dramatically remind us of the world's troubles and the possibility that they can show up right at our own "back door".

Here's an excellent website about the Flight 93 crash with many photos

Here is a newspaper article about Donald A. Peterson and Jean Hoadley Peterson

Today's photo of Chiques Rock overlook and train was taken here.

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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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