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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hoover Convene gathering table (click on photo to enlarge)
This last winter we joined our friends Ron and Bonnie Hoover for a dinner party in their home. The table settings were elegant! 

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"There's Always A Place At The Table"

"And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:22).
"Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. These are true words of God" (Revelation 19:9).

He'd gotten used to living
On the outside looking in
Lonely was his only constant friend.
So when the invitation came
That clearly bore his name;
He hardly could believe the words he read:
There is always a place at the table.

Weber family 1988
Consider a memorable meal in your life. For most that will prompt a memory of a great feast in a luxurious location with an overabundance of delicious food. But even more important, it's the people we visit with around the table that makes the meal even more special. The photo to the left is a holiday meal at our home with my family over 25 years ago when we lived in St. Marys, PA. (Obviously, this is a photo snapped before Brooksyne delivered the food to the table. Click for larger view). My Mom and Dad are now gone and all those little kids have grown into young adults and the young adults have become ... old adults!

But also consider an experience most of us have had, one that undoubtedly many of our readers now have. A place at the table for a missing loved one. That may be for a number of reasons, perhaps the loved one is now deceased, or away serving on foreign soil or in the military.

But today we especially consider those who feel the lingering pain that is due to an absentee child. The frequency of estrangement between young adult children and their parents has greatly increased in recent years. The inconsolable pain that it causes parents and the loss to both generations is immeasurable. Like the prodigal they have departed. Their empty place at the table brings unspeakable heartache. In fact in preparing this message we prayerfully considered several we know who are enduring this kind of ongoing heartache.

Tony Evans quotePerhaps you are reading this and will readily acknowledge that you are the estranged one. We earnestly pray this message may be a prompting for reconciliation
, whether it be to your heavenly Father or those who love you on this earth. For some it may be both.

Jesus told the Parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:15-24. The overall message of the parable is about the excuses and outright rejection of many in regard to entering God's Kingdom. That's still true today!

The Master instructs his servants to go out with invitations to a great banquet. Many who were invited made excuses as to why they couldn't come. How sad the excuses that keep us from the Great Banquet Table or the table of those who love us and long for our presence.

She'd made so many choices
That had torn her life apart
And hurt the very ones she loved the most.
She didn't even know where someone could begin
Until she got this message from the host:
There is always a place at the table

The banquet invitation was extended, "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’" The servants returned to their master with the report found in the daily text, "What you ordered has been done, but there is still room."

Heavenly Banquet Table
Yes indeed, there's still room at the table.  And today the Master's servants continue to extend the invitation to a great banquet. Scores of devoted missionaries, evangelists and pastors are proclaiming, "There's still room." Dedicated lay people are taking this message to their world today, "There's still room." Through this internet ministry Brooksyne and I declare to those who visit this page, "There's still room!"

And of course many people continue to make excuses.  What a great truth is found in verse 23 where we read of God's desire, "That my house may be filled."

Let me ask you today. Have you accepted the invitation or are you still making excuses? If you have accepted the invitation for your place at the table are you joining the servants in faithfully proclaiming, "Still there is room!"

There is always a place at the table,
There's a feast that's now waiting all your own,
Your place is set each time the family gathers;
It will never be the same til you're home.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, the theme of the great banquet parable calls to mind another parable where You challenge the conventional way of thinking while forthrightly telling Your listeners, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first." We see a lot of people who've been invited to the banquet table to eat of the Bread of Life. Some have tasted and seen that the Lord is good while others continue to crave the pleasures of this world instead. You are the Bread of Heaven that nurtures our spiritual hunger and the Living Water that quenches our eternal thirst! Our lives will never be the same as they were before we drew from Your well of salvation. Since Your well is bottomless with Your supply unending we invite all who seek eternal life, for there is still room because You are not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance.  We especially pray for wayward loved ones today, particularly those who have abandoned their family roots. Father, lead them back to their home where there is always a place at the table and in the hearts of those who remain. We're so thankful You're in the restoration business where hearts are mended and families reunited
for Your glory. We thank You in advance for answered prayer. Amen.

Early in our marriage we purchased an old 48”x48” oak dining table for $50.00 at an estate sale that had five 12” leafs (but not the self-storing kind.) We later found a table almost identical to ours advertised for $10.50 in a 1906 Sears catalog, so our table has actually appreciated in monetary value over the past century and has seated many, many people!

Upon the initial purchase the table was an absolute mess with the laminate top and carved legs etched in deep scratches and black stain. Multiple colors of stains were smeared over the wood.  The leafs had ancient linoleum glued over the oak which looked rather hideous. I saw little hope for the pitiful table before Brooksyne spent a good month stripping, sanding, and staining it.   Jeff, a long-time friend of ours, assisted her with the structural restoration and even I got on board by drilling new holes and inserting better fitting dowels for the leafs. Fully extended it comfortably seats 14 people. As I consider the photos I have taken through the years, including many used on this site, it’s pretty remarkable to consider how many have eaten and fellowshipped around this old oak table.  It occured to me that we have had thousands of people joining us around this table in the last nearly 30 years. Today's photo was taken 20 years ago of my family who joined us for Christmas in 1988.

Our dining room table as originally sold in the Sears catalog!
(From 1906 as we recall)

Chickens in dog house 10/29/14
Brooksyne snapped this photo in Strasburg this morning. Expecting to see a dog come out of the doghouse she broke into laughter when she spotted two chickens (or roosters) strutting out. If not a "dog" house they're certainly downsizing "chicken" houses these days.

Creation Landscaping team 10/29/14
This morning I observed a hard-working landscaping crew and was intrigued by the name so I asked. Benjamin Stoltzfus (right in photo), is the owner of the company and testified of his faith in Christ and shared his testimony with me. As I suspected Creation is referring to God's creation!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"There's Always a Place At the Table"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  I had not heard of this song before last night when our friend Tommy Carpenter who serves in Belize mentioned it in an email: "It was through this song that I led a street vendor to the Lord here in Belize a few weeks ago. The old man broke down crying at my car window!! And asked me to pray with him. "

"He Has Forgiven Me"   Video  Damaris Carbaugh

"Come Home"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"Softly and Tenderly"
  Video  Guy Penrod

On a lighter, non-spiritual note: Kansas City is in the news for sports fans. I grew up in that area and join my home town in excitement with tonight's deciding world series game. Here's a song that I recall from my childhood. "Kansas City Star"  Video  Roger Miller

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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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