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Monday, October 19, 2015

Lebanon County PA 10/16/15
Our trees are changing as seen in this section of southern Lebanon County just days ago

"Can We Do It Again?"

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"I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then" (Joshua 14:11). "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

This month is Clergy Appreciation month and many churches seek to find ways to express appreciation to their pastors. During our years of pastoral service we fondly remember the various expressions we received. One time in New England it was a ride in Narragansett Bay out of Newport Rhode Island on a real sailboat, something especially interesting since we both grew up in the Midwest. Even more often it was the thoughtful words spoken by church attendees or cards that people wrote that refreshed our spirits.

Yesterday we had a touching expression of appreciation, and as is often the case with children it had a funny moment.

Miller family with Pastor 10/18/15
Peter and Jen, along with their young son Caleb, went to the platform to express appreciation to our pastor, John Keefer. They had worked all week with Caleb to have a part in the presentation but right up to the time wondered if he would come through. They shared how Pastor John and Faithe had them over for dinner about a year ago and provided four toy cars for Caleb to play with while they visited. When it was time to leave Pastor invited Caleb to pick out one car to take home. He chose the shiny red car he displayed in his hand and told us it has doors and a hood that opens up. He expressed his love for the pastor and kept reaching for the microphone ready to speak out even more. When they were finished and started to return to their seats Caleb looked at his mother and asked, loud enough for many to hear, "Can we do it again?"

Caleb is learning at an early age the joy of ministry. We can read a lot about that from his Biblical namesake, Caleb. 

He was one of the twelve who spied out the land of Canaan soon after the Red Sea crossing. Caleb, along with Joshua, stood before the Israelites and with bold confidence declared, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it" (Numbers 13:30). Caleb's faith in God was energized by the great challenge that lay ahead as the Israelites set out to defeat the Nephilim, who were giants. He was a valiant "young" man of 40 years when he gave this daring challenge to the Israelites. But, as Bible readers know, they did not proceed at that time and thus the forty years' wilderness wandering aimlessly in the desert.

Although Caleb and Joshua both had faith to proceed it was Joshua who assumed the leadership position following Moses' death. One might wonder how Caleb handled this. Was he jealous or resentful? I don't think so! He may not have been as famous as Joshua but his life reminds me of a saying I read many years ago on a church sign: "Better to be faithful than famous." (Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt)

Did Caleb's faith and vigor weaken over the years? I'm glad Scripture gives us a glimpse of Caleb 45 years later in his senior years when he said, "So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then!" This Scripture doesn't show Caleb sitting in a rocking chair mulling over the unproductive thought, "If I were
only young again." In fact he's charged up and ready to follow the Lord's leading even at 85 years of age! (Of course, his children might have a different estimation since some older folks don't always have as sharp a judgment as when they were young.)

We both memorized the second daily verse as young Christians early in our ministry, knowing this is an important verse to tuck in our memory bank. "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Now that we are quite a bit older we want to mirror Caleb's attitude as he kept his spiritual fervor throughout his life and into his eighties.

We would all do well to memorize this verse. It's short but packed with a life-long challenge. Let's look at three characteristics we should aspire to:

1) "Never be lacking in zeal." The word translated "zeal" is one of my favorite Greek words. "Spoude" is an ancient word related to our English word "speed", connoting diligence and earnestness. These are two desirable traits I want for my spiritual life and ministry! Paul knew how the cares of this life could overshadow our zeal and curb our enthusiasm, although Scripture shows no evidence of any such lacking of zeal in Paul's own life!

2) "Keep your spiritual fervor." The word "fervor" literally means "to be hot, boil or glow." The Amplified Version translates this phrase "be aglow in the Spirit".  One dynamic I've noticed in my own life and ministry is that keeping a spiritual fire going takes diligence on my part. Paul warned against quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). When the Holy Spirit prompts us, we should be careful to respond instead of ignore.

3) "Serving the Lord." Are you serving the Lord? We have a tendency to compartmentalize our service, which actually limits it. Are you serving the Lord right now?  You should be, wherever you are and whatever you're doing. Paul teaches, "It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:24b). "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men" (Ephesians 6:7).

Perhaps you can take just a moment right now and earnestly pray, "Lord Jesus, help me to keep my zeal and spiritual fervor today as I want to serve You in all I do!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: 
Father, it is our lifelong desire to love You without reserve, to never be lacking in zeal, and to keep our spiritual fervor as we serve You. We fully devote ourselves to You and want to do what is good and right in Your sight so that we may be at peace and bring You honor. We want to be careful that we do not forget You or fail to observe Your commands set forth in Your Word. Otherwise our hearts will grow proud and we will forget our first love. Keep us on the right path all the days of our life, keeping our spiritual zeal as we serve You. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Pastor appreciation day 1983
One of our earliest memories from Pastor Appreciation Sunday goes way back to the early 80's. At that time we were planting a church in Saint Marys PA and I was also an avid tennis player. For several years I coached our high school tennis teams in Saint Marys, PA. In 1983 the church presented me with a huge cardboard tennis racquet and the church "forced" me to carry it down a main street through the small town to Dave's pro Shop to redeem it for a state of the art (at that time) graphite tennis racquet.

Pastor appreciation day 1983
Brooksyne's note: I well remember that day when Stephen had to walk through the small town of Saint Marys PA and receive the many chuckles as he carried the oversized homemade cardboard tennis racquet to redeem for a tennis racquet of his choice.  As a matter of fact I walked a few paces behind him out of embarrassment so that I would receive less attention.  It was worth the fun humiliation since he and I would play tennis for many years to come. I truly am grateful for our years of pastoral ministry.  There were so many who blessed our lives by their kind acts and expressions of support for 25 years.  Sadly, there were the few who were "sheep and shepherd biters" as pastors refer to them, since they harm the flock God has called the pastor to shepherd.  But God used those experiences in our lives to bring us to our knees as He developed character traits such as perseverance, self-control, forbearance, forgiveness and many other spiritual fruit. Note: If nothing else the dated photo is authenticated by the soda machine!) We were both still in our twenties.

2015 Coal Delivery

Coal delivery 10/19/15
Today we had a our coal delivered for the 2015 heating season. 4.5 tons of Pennsylvania anthracite. We had our first frost this last weekend so it's time to fire up the coal stove!

Coal delivery 10/19/15
Justin and Lamar were our two coal delivery men. It's a blessing to see hardworking young men and they both serve the Lord.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Faces"  Video 
Greater Vision  A powerful song with a reminder of the difference we can all make as we serve the Lord and others.

Finally today:

Like most churches these days our church sings most of the songs from a screen but some still sing from a hymnbook when it coincides with our song selection. Several months ago when we all used the hymnbook little Caleb, one row ahead of me, grabbed a hymnal and joined right in singing "Blessed Assurance", or at least his version of it.

Caleb singing hymn 5/10/15

Kids can sure say funny things: I had another fun moment with Caleb, the young boy in our story today sometime back. We were waiting in line at a potluck luncheon. Caleb, already seated and eating his meal, looked at his mother and asked, "Is he going to eat, too?" As he pointed at me his mother assessed that he was noticing my tall frame and big size. Perhaps he thought that I already had too much to eat already. Or that I would eat too much food!!!

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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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