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Friday, October 23, 2015

Maple at Good and Plenty 10/22/15
Yesterday morning we passed this autumn maple in front of the Good and Plenty Restaurant in Lancaster County.

"No Easy Road"

to this message on your audio player.

"They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said" (Acts 14:21,22).

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

Almost daily we share in caring for burdens that others are bearing. Whether through our chaplain ministry, notes from Daily Encouragement readers or associations with family, friends and church we receive a steady stream of expressed needs. Struggling marriages, rebellious children, financial hardship, physical needs and the list goes on and on. Of course we also receive formal prayer lists sent to groups of believers as well.

Yesterday we wrote a message titled "Spiritual Gravitas" and below the message showed photos along with a brief description of several senior couples who are a blessing to us. Of course there are many others and we also hope this prompted you to consider similar people in your life. We write it with the intent that we also will inspire others as we remain steady and faithful right through our golden years.

Doc and Anna Mary Paglia 10/21/15Our last photo featured DJ and Anna Mary Paglia (D stands for Dominic). Last month DJ (AKA Doc) turned 88. He and Anna Mary have had very good health through their senior years and remain active in various ministries. In fact he is scheduled to preach in our church in December.

Several weeks ago he tripped, fell and broke his femur. My neighbor, Marion, first told me about it since she was present at the funeral meal when he fell. She told me how much pain he was in and how he and Anna Mary were both crying as they waited for the ambulance.

We visited with him and Anna Mary Wednesday afternoon and he is recovering well, thankful he didn't shatter his pelvis and already able to get around with a walker. Although he's already pressing the doctor to start driving again and get rid of the walker! The doctor strongly asserted that the walker is the best means of transportation for him at the present time.

He shared an interesting perspective that has given me cause for musing. DJ still remembers his tie swirling across his face as he suddenly went down without warning. He then had the uncomfortable position of being flat on his back and looking up at the concerned faces of those assisting him. He shared how hard it was to experience that outlook since, as a pastor, his role was more commonly the one looking down at the patient lying in a hospital bed or one sitting in a wheelchair.  In other words he was accustomed to giving care, not receiving it.

But in the providence of God all of us are at some point in need of other's care.

Acts 14:22In the daily Scripture portion Paul and Barnabas shared a vital spiritual truth on their 1st missionary journey (recorded in Acts 13:4-14:28). They returned to some of the cities in which they had earlier established churches. The purpose of their message to these churches is summed up by the phrase, "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith" (Acts 14:22a).  But Luke sums up the essence of their verbal message in a single quoted phrase, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22b).

This portion bears careful attention in an age when the invitation to follow Christ is often presented as an "easy" choice.  I wonder how many of you have memorized Acts 14:22? 

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

Notice the words "you must go through". This seems to be an acknowledgment that there is no easy road in life. Thankfully during our time of hardship we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). We are also blessed to have others at our side. DJ and Anna Mary testified of the outpouring of love and care they have received since his fall. In fact while we were visiting them a neighbor brought over a meal.

We are sure some of you today are "going through many hardships" (the KJV translates "much tribulation"). In fact we consider prayer requests and needs we have received in the last several days. You wonder how the particular matter you are facing will ever work out. You sure would like to find that easy road. But remember God's Word states,
"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22b)

My fellow believer, let us encourage you today. God is faithful! He will make a way. It may not be the way we would prefer, but we have a promise of entry into the kingdom of God and His promises are absolutely sure. Let this truth encourage you today. 

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, the love and care expressed to us through Jesus our Lord compels us to express similar love and care to others in need. All who walk in Your ways must go through many hardships, but the blow that comes from such hardships is cushioned and the duration of pain is lessened by those who lovingly reach out to us in tender loving care, as they help bear our burden. Their heartfelt prayers, loving words and kind expressions remind us that You have not forgotten us nor forsaken us. Your loving Spirit descends to us through human endeavors directed toward our need, lifting us from the neighboring pits of despair and discouragement. In Jesus' name we press on toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Some scenes from our out and about yesterday
Amish man on cart 10/22/15
Early yesterday morning we passed this young Amish man on his commute to work.

Amish alfalfa wagon 10/22/15
Hay wagons always grab my attention. This load of alfalfa is waiting for transport to the barn.

Vietnamese woman 10/22/15
The jolly chaplain giant posing with a hard-working petite machine operator and Vietnamese friend. Out of some 400 employees we see weekly this just may be the greatest height differential!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Press On"  Video  Selah
  This is the song quoted throughout the message today.

Yesterday we mentioned eating at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord for Brooksyne's birthday meal. Turns out one of our readers forwarded his message to his grandson who works at Shady Maple who in turn noticed the promo taken from their website was outdated. They actually serve almost 1.5 million customers annually at the Smorgasbord (rather than 1 million) and are pacing to hit 100,000 free birthday meals this year (rather than 80,000).  Pleased that we could help them out! So now you have the latest statistics.

Finally today:

Brooksyne with Boxer puppy at Stoltzfus farm 10/23/15
This morning following a chaplain visit we stopped in to visit our Amish neighbors, the Stoltzfus's. Brooksyne couldn't resist picking up a Boxer puppy who also enjoyed being held as he also tried to lick her face, thus her expression!

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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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