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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pennsylvania mountain trail 9/6/14
A well-travelled path into the forest

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"Hope Remains"

"Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it, 'But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you'" (Psalm 39:6,7). "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope" (Lamentations 3:21). "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).

This last weekend on the men and boys campout I rode my bike through an abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel. We drove to the tunnel prepared with our headlamps since we knew what to expect. It was a fun adventure and even though it was very faint we saw the distant light at the end of the 6,782 foot long tunnel even as we entered.

But at other times we face a tunnel experience with little warning and are ill-prepared for navigating our way through it. We may see no evidence of light at the other end. In fact we might not even know where the end will be.  These tunnels may be very personal such as a failing relationship, financial issues, or health problem. Or it could be a type of dark tunnel we mutually share on the national level.

Today marks 13 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11. If you live in the USA and are 18 or older you will recall that day. Evil has gone on unabated since the fall of the human race, but some calamitous days are noteworthy reminders. Most of us remember very graphically the events of 9/11 and live with the
lasting impact.

I was in an outdoor meeting with a group of bus drivers in York County that morning. I noticed several large planes making an unusually rapid and steep approach into Harrisburg International Airport to the north, although at that time I had no idea why. I first heard of the events when I walked into an office and saw the live coverage on TV as a secretary wept uncontrollably. Initially, as I watched the burning trade center, my mind refused to believe this to be reality since we're accustomed to dramatic graphic fiction on the television screen. But of course it was real.

As I drove home and crossed the Susquehanna River back into Lancaster County I began to wonder if freedom and the "good life", as most of us had known it up to that point, was over. We had a chaplain leadership meeting that morning but our attention was so diverted and everyone wanted to gather with their families so our supervisor cancelled it after a short time. Most of us recall sitting in shock and disbelief in front of our TV's the rest of that day and the days that followed.

The next morning I sent out a message on hope and today I have revised and added to that message. It indeed is still appropriate and always will be. It's based on a study through the Bible using the key word "hope".

Hope is one of the most necessary spiritual and emotional components of life. Without it we live in despair. In the book of Lamentations the prophet Jeremiah is living through the times of Judah's final conquest. In the portion that precedes the second daily verse he describes the horrible, despicable events that accompanied this time and Jeremiah seems to be teetering on despair.

But we have one of the greatest transition verses in all of Scripture.  In the midst of this terrific despair Jeremiah writes, "This I call to mind and therefore I have hope." What Jeremiah called to mind brought hope from despair and today some 2,600 years later, it will do so for us as we reflect on these immutable attributes of God.

The kingdoms of this world are temporal, self-serving, and polluted by the wiles of Satan's strategies to steal, kill and destroy. It is headed for total destruction. But, as believers, we follow after Christ who brings abundant life as we renounce the world and enter into His kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy. Though the world may crumble around us, our hope remains fixed on the eternal kingdom not seen with human eyes. Such anticipation fills us with inexpressible and glorious joy as we await the day that Jesus Christ is revealed in all His glory, splendor and holiness.

Hope remains
The apostle Paul concluded the Love Chapter with these words, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love." Hope remains. The nature of the hope we have is foundationally a spiritual hope. The "good life" (peace and prosperity), as many of us have known it or desire it to be on this earth, is not guaranteed by God. So many, many of the heroes of the faith of the past and present testify to this. (Read Hebrews 11).

The hope that remains is the assurance that ultimately "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8;28). This is an enduring hope in which we can all be absolutely confident.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, we solemnly consider the catastrophic impact that terrorists have permanently etched in our painful memories from events of 9/11/01. Though we witnessed mayhem and saw evil at its worst, mercifully, we also witnessed acts of goodness at their best.  We are not without hope, for we know that You are a God of hope that fills believers with all joy and peace as they trust in You, so that they may overflow with hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to spread the overflowing, enduring hope that does not diminish in the midst of evil, but instead it focuses our hearts on the holy city, the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem where Your presence is with Your people. Where You will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone, for You will make all things new. Come, Lord Jesus, come.  Amen.

(See Romans 15:13, Revelation 21:1-5)

Here are several photos from our journey to and through the abandoned turnpike tunnel this last weekend.

Pennsylvania turnpike abandoned tunnel 9/7/14
You drive on back roads to get to the old turnpike right of way where you park. The way to the tunnels are blocked with these Jersey barriers to limit any vehicle traffic.

Pennsylvania turnpike abandoned tunnel 9/7/14
Approaching the tunnel from the east.

Pennsylvania turnpike abandoned tunnel 9/7/14
Coming out of the tunnel with our headlamps on.

The light at the end of the tunnel

Pennsylvania turnpike abandoned tunnel 9/7/14
On the way to the tunnels we had an adventure when a limb broke off a tree and fell right on the hood of Roy's van.

Pennsylvania mountain barn 9/7/14
We passed this old mountain barn on the way back from the abandoned turnpike tunnel.

Pennsylvania mountain stone house 9/6/14
I've photographed this old farmhouse before and have wondered if it will ever be restored. Nelson who has a camp in that area claims that a legend is that George Washington stayed here. But then again it is claimed that George Washington stayed about everywhere in the northeast at some time!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Because He Lives"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Sometimes I Cry"  Video  Jason Crabb

"Redeemer"  Video  Crabb Family

* Here's the original archived message from 9/12/01

Here are some more tunnel photos and account from the trip I made with the men and boys in 2007.

History of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (article)

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"Hope Remains"
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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