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Monday, September 21, 2015

Jim Thorpe rail train 9/19/15
The Lehigh Gorge rail train

"Press On!"

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"So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD." (Hosea 6:3a)
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).

Regular readers know we often share illustrations from our life experiences and observations. This past Saturday morning we drove to the scenic village of Jim Thorpe, intending to take the bike train up the Lehigh Valley Gorge to White Haven and then ride our bikes 25 miles down the gorge back to Jim Thorpe (a nice, relatively downhill ride due to the elevation difference).

However when we got to Jim Thorpe Brooksyne approached the ticket booth only to have the attendant inform her, "We sold out four days ago!" She must have been repeating that same message for four days since the tone she used was not terribly friendly.

Initially we were quite disappointed but then decided to ride up the trail about 12˝ miles before turning our bikes around to get the equivalent of the 25 miles we had expected to pedal after riding the train. We started about 9:00 AM and, although it was an uphill ride, we felt pretty good at the 12˝ mile mark so decided to go a bit further and then a bit further and eventually we made it all the way to White Haven!

After eating the biggest hamburger we've ever seen at the White Haven Diner we headed back down the gorge to Jim Thorpe. I suppose the protein from the huge beef patty pumped our muscles that helped us pedal over 50 miles. When we got back to our parking spot about 5:30 PM we were very, very tired and sore especially our gluteus maximuses and our articulatio genuses.

It occurred to me that our decision to just go a bit further was, in a sense, analogous to pressing on to know our Lord. God dispenses His grace while conforming us to His image all along the way. Many of us have been on this journey for decades but initially knew little of the ensuing battle the enemy would launch to recapture our soul, and yet we press on mile by mile, knowing that God's strength, power and abiding Holy Spirit will take us forward to our heavenward goal.

In comparing our journey to running a race the apostle Paul reminds us to keep our eyes on the prize, lest the arduous and wearying race, causes us to stumble and cry out, "It's hopeless!"

Matthew Henry describes the Christian runner like this: "But he reached forth, stretched himself forward toward his point; expressions showing great concern to become more and more like unto Christ. He who runs a race, must never stop short of the end, but press forward as fast as he can; so those who have heaven in their view, must still press forward to it, in holy desires and hopes, and constant endeavours. Eternal life is the gift of God, but it is in Christ Jesus; through His hand it must come to us, as it is procured for us by Him."

Now on our bike ride we didn't set out to go all the way up to White Haven when we started but at a certain point we made that our goal. We became determined to make it that far and did so by just taking it a mile at a time. Of course once we got to White Haven we really had no choice but to bike the entire distance back! (Although I suppose we could have paid a shuttle, but there would be no story if we did that!)

Our journey of faith may at times seem daunting. The indefinite aspect of the "future" reward may weary us and can easily fade from our view. But we encourage you to just keep plodding one step at a time.

There are three songs that speak of "ten thousand years", a time span that seems practically unimaginable. One is a famous old hymn, another a gospel song and another very popular contemporary song. Each use the "ten thousand year" perspective to relate how long eternity will be in comparison to the relative shortness of life as we know it now.

Friend, don't be deterred by the difficulties of life, but plod one step at a time. Your future reward lies just ahead.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, when we begin our journey with You, we're uncertain of all that lies ahead. We're told in Scripture that if we are in Christ old things have passed away, and all things have become new. That's because we now begin to align our thoughts and actions according to Scripture; we begin to see through the eyes of Christ; and we press on to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus so that we will receive our future eternal reward laid up for us already in heaven. Keep us steady, trusting, and faithful as we press on in the faith. Through Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: Folks, for the last 15 miles I didn't dismount the bike for little breaks because my knees ached so badly each time I remounted the bike and began pedaling again. It was just better for me to keep on going no matter how slowly I pedaled. Likewise, pressing on doesn't always mean we do so with great speed or with a fake "hype" seeking to impress others that we are SUPER VICTORIOUS in every circumstance. We might move a little slower due to our battle scars from a major loss(es), chronic illness, an unbelieving spouse, rebellious children and the likes. But we press on because our time of struggle will be but a pin drop in comparison to ten thousand years of eternity with Jesus.

Jim Thorpe rail train 9/19/15
We rode the bike train last Spring and had no problem getting a ticket. However Saturday it was swamped. We hope to ride it the last time available this fall when we go up November 7 and we will be sure to get our tickets online ahead of time!!!

Lehigh River toward Jim Thorpe PA 9/19/15
We did not have as much fall foliage we would have preferred with most of the trees still green but it was a beautiful day for a long bike ride.

Caboose in White Haven PA 9/18/15
This colorful caboose sits near the rail trail in White Haven.

Powerhouse Eatery in White Haven PA 9/18/15
We had dinner Friday evening in an interesting restaurant we often pass along I-80 when we take that route. The Powerhouse Eatery is actually a repurposed former powerhouse in White Haven! They left much of the works on the interior.

White Haven Diner hamburger 9/19/15When we arrived in White Haven on Saturday afternoon we were very hungry so we went to the White Haven Diner and each of us ordered a cheeseburger. When the waitress brought it our eyes just about popped out. It was the biggest burger we ever saw (that's a large dinner plate in the photo not a saucer!) Brooksyne estimates it would have been a 1 pound patty. Next time we'll split one since unfortunately a large portion got thrown away! The bread roll on top was an extra-large one (lot-a-burger size for those of you from the southwest), but it covered less than half the patty.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

These are the three songs that have "ten thousand years" in the lyrics:

"Ten Thousand Years"  Video  Ernie Haase and Homecoming Singers

Soon I'll come to the end of life's journey,

And I'll meet the one who gave His life for me;
I want to thank Him for the love that He gave me;
And ten thousand years, and more, I'll praise His name.

"Ten Thousand Reasons"  Video  Matt Redmon

And on that day when my strength is failing

The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
"Amazing Grace"  Video  Various Homecoming singers
When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun!

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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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