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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Amish hay harvest 4/20/16
I'm always willing to lend a hand.
With my ubiquitous suspenders and straw hat I just may pass for being Amish!
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"It Matters To The Master"

Message Summary:
Like the disciples we may at times wonder, "Does Jesus really care?"  But His Word abundantly demonstrates and teaches that He does. Those of you whose faith is being tested today, in ways that you do not prefer, remember this: God has not changed. God cares for you. Personalize this comforting truth by saying, "You care for me." His care is motivated by His love, under-girded by His power, and assured by His faithfulness. Lord, help us to hide this truth deep in our hearts today! Yes, You care. If it matters to me, it matters to the Master.

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"But He (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we are perishing?" (Mark 4:38).

When life lets you down, and you feel more broken than whole
When the wounds go deeper than words and you can't tell a soul
I may not know what you're going through
May not make that high mountain move
But one thing I've found that I really want you to know

Yesterday following several chaplain visits we stopped by to see our Amish friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth. I had picked up some baling twine for Jesse who was making hay while the sun was shining. After watching him do some field work (see photos below) he asked me to run an errand over to a neighboring farm to get some fuel filters for the baler. His nine year old son Eli James went with me and asked me to take a "short cut" on the way back. We drove down a long gravel lane and I saw why he wanted to take me this new route.

Welcome Home!

Eli's Uncle Amos is fighting cancer and recently came home after a long period of treatment. Eli's grandparents and Amos's family took a 3 day train trip to Mexico to lend support and encouragement to him during his last treatment. They just returned and Eli's family posted the big "Welcome Home" on the barn that warmly greeted them upon their return. Amos is having quite a time and frankly needs a miracle from the Lord. He and his family needs the assurance that what matters to them matters to the Master.

Friend, do you think the Maker and giver of life
Is far too busy to care 'bout your trouble and strife?
He sees the sparrow that falls to the ground
And He hears the tears that don't make a sound
If you only knew how precious you are in His sight

Jesus asleep on a cushionEarly in the disciple's relationship with Jesus they were in a boat after a tiring day of ministry. A furious storm arose and threatened to capsize the boat. Jesus was sleeping on a cushion in the stern. I recall from my ministry training days that this text is among the proofs of Christ's humanity. I find it remarkable that He was able to sleep during a massive storm that seriously frightened even experienced fishermen. Isn't that the kind of peace we want during the torrential storms that deluge our lives. The only way it can happen is for us to have a deep, settled peace that God is in control and overrules that which is contrary to His intended plan for our lives.

Does God care? These experienced fishermen, who had plied these waters for many years, recognized the imminent danger. This was no ordinary storm. They were in big trouble.

They awoke Jesus and asked a very pointed question, "Master, do You not care that we are perishing?"  Isn't this the very question we have all asked or wondered thousands of times?

Let's just condense it to, "Does God care?" 

Mark 4:38
In Mark's account Jesus does not answer the disciples with words, but with a mighty demonstration of His power. In Matthew's account Jesus responded to the disciples with a reprimand for their lack of faith, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (Matthew 8:26).

He stilled the storm. Not only were the disciples saved, but they also learned a valuable lesson and thereby we learn from them. Many years later Peter, using language familiar to the fisherman, wrote: "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." After years of walking with Jesus it was no longer a question to Peter, but a settled fact and an experiential truth that has comforted and reassured believers for nearly 2000 years. "He cares for you."

Like the disciples we may at times wonder, "Does Jesus really care?"  But His Word abundantly demonstrates and teaches that He does. Those of you whose faith is being tested today, in ways that you do not prefer, remember this: God has not changed. God cares for you. Personalize this comforting truth by saying aloud, "You care for me." His care is motivated by His love, under-girded by His power, and assured by His faithfulness. May the Lord help us to hide this truth deep in our hearts today because He does care. If it matters to me, it matters to the Master.

If it matters to you, it matters to the Master
He wants to share the burdens you bear
Whisper peace when your world gets shattered
If it's your greatest joy or your deepest pain
Or you're really needing an answer
If it matters to you, it matters to the Master

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the powerful God that You are. Even the winds and waves recognize You as Creator and obey the voice of the Master.  Your Word is a lighthouse that directs us safely toward heaven when the furious waves swirl about us and the water rises up to our necks. I confess to You that my doubts rise up when Your voice is silent. In these kinds of circumstances I begin to wonder if You really do care. Instead of questioning Your care for me, help me to prove my faith by trusting You even when You are silent. I want to persevere in prayer and understand Your overall plan in these matters that concern me. And when I don't understand Your plan help me to trust You because faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted. Keep us firmly anchored in Your loving promises, remembering that if it matters to me, it matters to You. You'll hold me up as I tread above the troubling waters and swim to safety. Or You will command the waters to descend. Either way, with Your guidance and strength, I will endure to the very end, by Your merciful hand. Amen.

Prayer for Amos and Anna Ruth - We often hear from many of you with personal needs of your own in addition to those you bear for others. But we will include the request for our Amish friends regarding Amos' very aggressive cancer. He is father to very young children, so there is the overall concern for the whole family should Amos not be healed of this deadly cancer. Admirably, the Amish women dedicate their lives to raising the children and tending to their household chores and flourishing gardens. But with only an 8th grade education the possibilities for their working outside the home leaves very few options. The Amish care for their own, but at the same time it is a worrisome situation when the breadwinner becomes stricken with a deadly illness. Our dear friends, the Lapps, are very burdened for Amos and Anna Ruth (sisters-in-law with the same name quite common among the Amish) and we have joined them in prayer over the past couple months. We also invite your prayers for this precious family and thank you on their behalf.

Amish hay harvest 4/20/16
Jesse and Eli making hay while the sun shined
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Amish hay harvest 4/20/16
It was a beautiful afternoon for field work!
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Amish children looking at chicks 4/20/16
The kids were excited to show me the baby chicks and wanted to take a close-up photo using Ester's phone.

Amish children looking at photos 4/20/16
The children just love to see their photos and it appears the horse may be saying, "Let me see too." Brooksyne had fun earlier feeding the horses and pony leftover apple slices and carrot sticks from our lunch. Apples were by far preferred - maybe they have a sweet tooth for fruits vs. veggies.

Amish little tree air freshener in buggie 4/20/16
You never know where you might see a Little Tree™ air freshener, even an Amish buggy. (Actually I bought a supply of these car fresheners from the new company we visit and figured I'd share them with friends, even my Amish friends.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"It Matters To The Master"  Video   The Collingsworth Family (This is the song quoted through the message)

"Come Back To Me"  Video 
Dailey and Vincent

"Does Jesus Care?"  Video  The Isaacs  A beautiful song with outstanding coordinating photos.

"Does Jesus Care"  Video 
Guy Penrod & George Beverly Shea (who was 103 at the time this was recorded)

"Then I Met The Master"  Video   Booth Brothers

"I Found it All"  Video  Collingsworth Family

"I Can Trust Jesus"  Video  The Collingsworth Family

"If He Hung the Moon"  Video 

"Sometimes It Takes A Mountain"  Video  
Gaither Vocal Band

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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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