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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pastor Keefer hugging Connie 11/16/14
Ester captured this photo of Connie getting Pastor's hug at the end of a service.

"Showing Honor" Part 2

Note: Today we share our second message based on some musings about people we admire. Perhaps today's message (and several that follow) will prompt your consideration of people you admire and why. Our first message is here.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God" (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

We go to a small country church we started attending when we first moved to this area 14 years ago. We have been out on short term interim work several times but have always returned. We have many large mega type churches in our area and realize many now seem to prefer these types of churches. In fact one of the largest churches in our state is not too far away. But we prefer a smaller church for several reasons. We want to share one of those reasons today.

In our church we periodically have a time of congregational prayer and praise. One of Ester's jobs at the church is taking the wireless microphone to anyone in the congregation who wants to share a testimony of how the Lord is working in their lives or perhaps a prayer request.

This last Lord's Day Connie shared. She has Down Syndrome resulting in speech difficulties which makes it rather hard others to understand what she's talking about. But the congregation listens respectfully as one of God's children earnestly bears her burden. At other times Connie is nearly bursting with contagious joy as she shares of an answered prayer.

Connie's parents, Dick and Ruby, attend our church as well. Well into their retirement years they made the very difficult decision to release Connie from their daily care and placed her in a special group home about two years ago. Staff from the group home bring her to the church service. During our greeting time she walks around with her big, beaming smile offering and expecting a hug from all who are willing. Our church is richer due to Connie.

Every life is a gift
Today we honor Connie and her parents. Surely you know someone like Connie and her loving parents, Dick and Ruby. They remind us that every life is a gift from God. We have much to learn from them regarding unconditional love and overcoming adversity.

The notion of rating a life based upon appearance, talent, wealth, education, social status and so forth
is a human construct and void of that which matters most to God.

What if God rated us in the same manner that people do? Anyone with the slightest knowledge concerning the character of God knows that His value far exceeds that of fellow humans. Christ's value of the human soul is reflected from the cross of Calvary. The joy of providing salvation for God's creation led Him to submit Himself to shame, agony, and death. All the treasures and glories of earth sink into insignificance when compared with the value of a human soul!

For many years I have placed the daily text at the very bottom of the daily encouragement website. I am especially intrigued by a phrase rendered slightly differently in various versions. The New American Standard Bible states, "and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not." Other versions render, "God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing" (Holman Christian Standard Bible) "God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing" (New English Translation).

One version or perhaps paraphrase states, "For God has chosen the weak things in the world, the foolish, the nothings." I came across this rendering somewhere many years ago but have been unable to locate it in any standard translation. Those two words "the nothings" really jumped out at me. We think of scores of people all over the world who are viewed by their fellow man as "nothings".*

Billy Sunday was an evangelist (and former pro baseball player) who served the Lord over 100 years ago. During one of his evangelistic campaigns, a mentally impaired boy came faithfully each night to sing in the choir.

“Joey was not very bright,” said Homer Rodeheaver, the well-known song leader for Billy Sunday, “but he never missed any of our meetings and wouldn’t leave until he shook my hand. Sometimes I was embarrassed by the way he constantly tailed me, and I secretly wished he’d go away.”

Then one evening a man came to Rodeheaver and said, “Thank you for being kind to my son Joey. He’s not right mentally, but never has he enjoyed anything so much as singing in the choir. He worked hard doing simple chores for people so he could contribute to the collection. Through his pleadings my wife and five other children came to this evangelistic campaign and have now received Christ. Last night his 75-year-old grandfather, who has been an atheist all his life, was saved, and tonight his grandmother also came forward. Now our entire family is converted!’”

Joey was one of God’s faithful servants. And so is Connie.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, You have chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, and the weak things of this world to shame the strong. That which is despised, even discarded by the world may be among some of Your most precious treasures. It reminds us that we must realign our values according to Your value system, regarding those things which are precious in Your sight to be precious in ours as well. As we walk in humility we will value others in the same way You do and respond in accordingly. Thank You for these precious individuals You place in our life's experience and in ourfamilies that show us the way to the heart of the Father. Amen.

* We saw a news program the other night with Franklin Graham distributing the Christmas shoe boxes to children who actually live on a refuse pile in Ecuador. It brought back a memory of similar desperate living conditions we witnessed in Guatemala when we visited over twenty years ago.

Birds Feeding In Snow
The snow really brings the birds out to the various feeders within sight of our home office.

Birds feeding in snow 1/6/15
This feeder is only about 1 foot from our window so we get a good closeup view of these finches feeding. Looks like I will have to brave the cold to refill it soon!

Birds feeding in snow 1/6/15
This feeder is attached to our barn and the cardinal is joining (or should I say tolerating) several purple finches.

Birds feeding in snow 1/6/15
Looks like they're learning to share or having a discussion about it.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“What Salvation's Done For Me"  Video
   Booth Brothers

"In Heaven's Eyes"  Video  Vonda Beerman

It was a life of no distinction,
No successes, only tries.
Yet, gazing down on this unlovely one,
There was love in Heaven's Eyes.

Finally today:
Stephen and Timothy at White Oak Display 1/6/15
Yesterday I visited a company that makes displays and walked into an area where I was startled by a man wearing what looked like a space helmet. Actually it was two men, Stephen and Timothy who were involved in a painting project! I teased Stephen, who is wearing the helmet, that he must be preparing for a trip into space!

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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