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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Washington mystery blossoms 3/25/16
Although the Cherry Blossoms are the main draw to Washington at this season there are many beautiful blossoms on a variety of trees, including this pom pom beauty. No info given or we'd include the name of this spring blossom.

"Life After Easter Sunday"

Message Summary: Every day, let us determine that we will wholeheartedly serve the Lord!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"I'm going out to fish" (John 21:3).

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Many people attend church services and express their devout faith on Easter Sunday. Others go as a reminder of their childhood or to please family members. But we wonder what would happen if all the people that showed up for church this last weekend really became committed believers in Christ, active in their church, and shining lights to their community. We expect that the world would be considerably different!

Of course it's great to see the church full, but where are these same Easter "followers" on Monday and the days that follow? Perhaps they were moved by the message and the powerful and lively refrain to the great Easter songs such as "He Lives" or "Up From the Grave He Arose" that many congregations sang with great exuberance.  But where's their heart today, after we celebrate the reality of the resurrection and worship the ever-living Lord Jesus Christ?

Some had work and school off yesterday but most return to a routine week today. We wonder what that first "routine week" looked like for the first disciples of Christ following His resurrection? What a tremendous weekend it had been for His followers.
What an incredible power-packed "WOW" day it had been, especially when contrasting it with what appeared to be a powerless, spiritual defeat only three days earlier.

Resurrection Sunday changed the hearts and minds of these followers who had likely been thinking, "What will happen now? We have devoted our lives to Jesus who now lies in a tomb; His blood spattered body bruised, beaten; His flesh ripped and torn; His hands and feet left with gaping holes where the spikes were nailed......" It was a despairing picture hard to shake during that grievous period of time.

But now the miraculous account of Resurrection Sunday changed everything. Still very fresh and energizing, it's possible that Peter and John or other disciples retold this account over and over as they stood by the city well greeting the townspeople who had gathered to draw water.

But John 21 records an interesting event that took place after Christ had appeared to his disciples twice. It happened sometime between the week following the resurrection and Christ's ascension 40 days later. Peter and six of the disciples were together and it was just an ordinary day. I sense a restlessness in Peter as he says, "I'm going out to fish." 

The other disciples said, "We'll go with you." I wonder what these men were experiencing in their hearts. Were they dealing with the reality of living their lives on an ordinary day after such a WOW day? They fished all night but didn't catch anything. (That sure must have been very discouraging.)  But Jesus met them the next morning and everything changed.

The church has had several "WOW" days; such as the day of the Resurrection, the day of the Ascension and the day of Pentecost. The next will be the day when Jesus returns. Since Resurrection Day some 720,000 days have gone by with men and women living and dying for this resurrected Christ. 

We have our personal "WOW" days as well. Spiritually it includes events like our conversion to Christ. It also includes days like our wedding, a graduation or birth of a child. But the vast majority of our days are ordinary in which we make a daily decision to follow and obey Christ, no matter the present circumstances or how we feel that day. That's the real key to a steadfast, fruitful, victorious, abundant and lasting life of service for our Lord.

Every day, let us determine that we will wholeheartedly serve the Lord!

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, the events that took place in Bethlehem's manger, at Calvary's cross and in the empty tomb where Your body laid for three days supersedes any commemorative event in history. We look to the past where we witness Your sovereign power at work in the midst of ordinary people.  And now, as we go about our daily routine of working, caring for our families, and living responsible Christian lives we are filled with anticipation for the greatest promise yet to be fulfilled. This supreme event will take place when You come down from heaven and, with the trumpet call of God, You first raise up the faithful ones who have died.  Then those of us who are still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet You in the air. What extra-ordinary encouragement this brings us today on an otherwise ordinary day.

And yet there are many living in extra-ordinary times where their lives are laid on the line for simply trying to live an ordinary life choosing You as their Master and Savior. The enemies of the cross did not come to an end when You were slain, but the generations follow even to our day, who are determined to stamp out any who proclaim You as their Lord and Savior. We pray for the families and loved ones of the many innocent believers in recent months, weeks and days who have been martyred and others injured because they choose to devote themselves to the risen Christ. The Crown of Life they receive in heaven, for remaining faithful to the end, will make the atrocities of this life appear as an early flight to their eternal home. We devote ourselves to You, our risen Savior and Lord, during ordinary and extra-ordinary times. Amen.

Some more scenes from our trip to Washington DC to view the Cherry Blossoms last Friday.

Mounted animal at Smithsonian museum 3/25/16
Although we spent most of our time outside we did visit the Castle, the original Smithsonian museum.

Washington squirrel 3/25/16
This squirrel is managing to thrive in a busy city since there is no shortage of tasty morsels thrown in this oversized trash bin.

Flower garden view from Smithsonian Castle 3/25/16
The garden view outside the Smithsonian Castle.

Washington Magnolia blossoms 3/25/16
A close-up photo of this Magnolia's magnificent blossom. Our timing in Washington came at the peak of cherry blossoms but toward the end of the magnolia's appearance.

Washington pruned trees 3/25/16
Some closely pruned trees, amidst the spring bulbs, with the US Capitol in the background. It would be interesting to see these as they bud and fill out since we had no idea what kind of trees they were. Possibly our readers will inform us.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Only By The Blood
"  Video  Mount Pleasant Easter Choir directed by Brooksyne.  It seems this turned out to be the choir's favorite, as several told Brooksyne they can't get the tune out of their head, nor can we. The song has great theology if you listen carefully. Although I am very pleased at our choir's performance admittedly the sound is not that clear (I recorded it using my phone's video). Here's a nice clear version by Brian Free and Assurance that Brooksyne recommends Video

There's no treasure on earth that could move heaven's heart
and purchase a pardon for me.
No jewels or gems that I'd bring could start to pay my penalty,
Even silver and gold are offerings too poor to take away guilt but the truth is, my Lord,

It's only by the blood You poured out for me.
It's only by the blood I can stand redeemed!
All the riches of this world could never be enough to take away one sin,
It's only by the blood.

To the temple they came and the altars ran red, year after year after year.
Yet for all of the loss and all the life shed, still no true peace was near.
'Till you came to us as the one perfect lamb,
with thorns on Your head and nails in Your hands.

Words and Music by: Mark Harris and Tony Wood

"I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" with background story  Video
  Jadon Lavik A story of Christian persecution told by Pastor Richard Kannwischer of the story of a family in India who lost their lives because of their faith in Jesus Christ. This is a very touching story as we consider the persecution and martyrdom so many millions of Christians and their families are experiencing.

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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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