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Monday, January 19, 2015

Tunnel or bridge on Rt 272 south of Lancaster, PA (photo by Doris High)
Tunnel (or bridge) under an old railroad grade in southern Lancaster County
(Photo taken by Doris High)

"A Time To Laugh"

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"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22). "A time to laugh" (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

Brooksyne and I are both involved in an interesting, unusual, and fulfilling form of ministry. For nearly twenty years now we've served as "corporate chaplains" in the business and industrial world. At first it was very part-time in New England, where we also served in full-time pastoral ministry. Upon our move to Lancaster, PA almost fourteen years ago it became our primary ministry focus.

As part of this ministry we visit the employees at their worksite. Interested people often ask us what is involved in these worksite visits. Simply described, we walk through the workplace regularly (usually weekly) and greet the employees one by one; developing friendships and building trust by taking personal interest in them and their families, showing genuine care by following up on matters important to them, and at times making referrals, when it is needed as we talk from week to week. Company owners hire us with the understanding that conversations between chaplain and employee are confidential, assuring them that their private matters remain private.

There are many hurting people in the workplace and they often share these burdens with us. We follow up in various ways, at times getting involved outside of the workplace when there is a crisis, family death, hospitalization, or heavy burden they want to share. It all sounds very serious, which it certainly can be. Brooksyne shared with me an experience from last Friday that I've asked her to share with our readers today:

While visiting JK Mechanical, an HVAC company early Friday morning, before the sunrise, Stephen was meeting up with the installers and service techs who leave the shop early. Since my visits are focused primarily on the women who start at a later time I sometimes have a few minutes to fill so I sat down at the round table in the break room and wrote a note which I often do in my chaplaincy role.

It was still somewhat dark as I peeked outside the window to my left for a brief moment from the corner of my eye. I spotted an unfamiliar employee holding what looked like a paper in his hand while standing at the rear of his service van parked about ten feet away. A common sight, I thought nothing of it, and continued to write.

A few minutes later I glanced once again and he was still there. I just considered that his supervisor was being delayed by other work and he was still awaiting instruction. I finished my note and stood up to leave and once again noticed that the employee was still standing in the very same place. In my mind I thought this fella has a problem if he has made no further progress in his new job details than just standing in the same position for ten minutes straight!

After visiting about five minutes with Sharon whose office is next door to the break room  I caught sight of the employee once again through her window, only this time from the corner of my right eye. By now I had come to the scary conclusion that he wasn't just standing there, but he was looking straight at me - first in the breakroom and now as I ventured over to the next office. Finally it was time to move on so I decided to look straight out the window. No more guessing what he was up to, I wanted to see who this guy was. Forgetting my age for a fleeting moment it flashed through my mind that he might just be making a pass at me or, worse, was he stalking me?

When I finally looked straight out the window the sun had risen and visibility was clear.  My first thought, was "Unbelievable!" I broke into uproarious laughter. Sharon looked at me quizzically and asked, "What?" Much to my embarrassment, as I'm sure my face turned crimson, I could hide my inner thoughts no longer. I laughed as I told Sharon what I had assumed. She looked out the window with me as we both came eye to eye with the life size "service tech" holding a clipboard who was featured on the new back door vinyl van wrap. (Photo here)

Later I told the story about the "new employee" to Stephen and a couple of other workers we were visiting with and we all had a good laugh. Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us "there is a time to laugh" including laughing at ourselves when we end up being the center of the joke. So many times we deal with people who have a crushed or broken spirit due to marital strife, rebellious children, addiction to destructive habits. Sometimes a family member is dying from a terminal illness but there are other times when we just enjoy laughing together. God gives us the ability to laugh at others and at ourselves.

Do you carry a heavy load today? Truly a broken or crushed spirit can dry up the bones making us feel our situation is beyond hope and that we're carrying a heavy weight on our shoulders. But Peter tells us, "Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you." Make sure you enjoy some laughter today and spread some cheer since it is welcome by others as pain-relieving medicine. That's our Daily Encouragement prescription for you today!

We encourage you to be thankful for the God-given gift of laughter, and make use of it often, for the Scriptures remind us there is "a time to laugh."  Hopefully you will have some good laughs today and bring laughter to others as well!

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily Prayer:  Father, there are many troubling situations that weigh our heart down when that is our sole focus.  But You want us to bring these troubles to You in prayer, entrust them to Your care, and be joyful on our journey. Nehemiah reminds us, "The joy of the Lord is my strength."  We want to have a joyful disposition so that we can bring cheer to those around us. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen

JK ladies with service tech 1/16/15
Brooksyne's Note: As you might imagine the story has now circulated about me and the "new employee" so these ladies whom I visit weekly at JK Mechanical decided they'd go out and befriend the "new employee". I later received this text photo. (From L - Courtney, Ronda, Connie, Wendy, and Linda) In my prideful defense - you can see that he is lifesize, it was still pretty dark outside, and also the van and the wrap are new.

Mark and Carolyn Pulliam 1/16/15
We joined our friends Mark and Carolyn Pulliam for breakfast at the Quarryville Family Restaurant. We first met Mark when we lived in new England and worked for the same company for several years. He is presently a hospice chaplain.

With friends in the BB's freezer, Quarryville, PA 1/16/15
We stopped by BB's, a rather unique Amish discount grocery store. We saw Sandy, a friend from our church, who was also shopping along with her daughter, Stacy. They are standing next to Brooksyne as they fight off the shivering cold temperature in the large walk-in freezer. Once they walk out with their discounted food their glasses must be removed to wipe the fog off. One thing's for sure, you don't just doddle looking for hot bargains as you walk alongside these cold shelves.

Jake Shenk at Mount Pleasant 1/18/15
We have great admiration for Jay and Nancy Shenk, missionaries to Zimbabwe, Africa who were with us in church yesterday.  Married for 58 years and about to turn 80 years old they have served the Africans in ministry for over 50 years. When he visits us in his home church he always speaks of his love for his African brothers and sisters. His energy and enthusiasm might rival that of a young man in his 30's.

Praying for Shenks at Mount Pleasant 1/18/15
Many in our congregation crowded around the Shenks as we prayed for safe travel and continued blessings on their ministry as they depart for Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Jesus laughing“Jesus Laughing"  Video  Mark Lowry

One of my favorite pictures of our Lord shows Him laughing as He embraces the little children. I recall many years ago a man who came to the Lord out of a drug background. He was quite intense and rather somber about the things of the Lord. In a conversation I had with him he made it clear that he was offended at the slightest notion that Jesus would have ever laughed.

Now it's true that there is not a specific verse that states Jesus laughed but what would have been a more appropriate emotion or physical expression as "He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them" (Mark 10:16). Would you prefer to picture Him with a scowl, frown or an emotionless expression? We believe "a time to laugh" certainly includes the joy that little children bring to life!

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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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