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Monday, September 19, 2016

Amish family at harvest time 9/16/16
Friday afternoon we saw our Amish neighbor Eli and his family harvesting his field.

"There's Too Much To Gain To Lose"

Message Summary: 
Today we especially direct our message to those who have been in service for many years. Keep pressing on. We hope you hear some good reports, but we have a promise that has become my life verse. "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Indeed, there's too much to gain to lose!

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"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained" (Philippians 3:12-16).

Too many miles behind me
too many trials are through
Too many tears help me to remember
there's too much to gain to lose

Today I have been on this earth as a post-born entity for 22,621 days. The vast, vast majority of days I can't recall what happened but there are those days that are especially memorable. Thirty-nine years ago Brooksyne and I left the Springfield, Missouri area where we had met in Bible College and headed to Pennsylvania to start a church. I was 22 and she was 21. We held our first church service September 18, 1977
without much fanfare. I recall there were 24 at that first service, most out of sheer curiosity, never to return again. However one young couple, Mike and Kathy Matangelo, attended who went on to be a formative part of that church plant and who have remained friends to this day.

September 18 is also Mike's birthday so I called him last night and we caught up and reminisced some of our memories over the last 39 years. Their children are serving the Lord with two of their sons in ministry. But they have also generously poured into the lives of others and today both serve in prison ministry in North Carolina.

Mike shared a heartening story with me that will encourage other long-time servants as well. In the early 80's we started a boy's program in our church called "Royal Rangers" seeking to provide a wholesome activity for boys in the church but we also wanted it to be an outreach.
Mike was the long-time leader. Like many boys programs, such as the Boy Scouts, the boys were taught knot tying skills using baling twine.

Early on, Jim, a young boy from outside the church began to attend. As I recall he had no spiritual background. But he stayed in the program all the way through achieving the highest award.

We moved from that area to New England in the early nineties and several years later Mike and Kathy moved to North Carolina. Jim also left that area after he grew up so contact was lost in the shuffle of moves. But the Matangelos received a letter from Jim with a report that he was doing well, raising a family in New Jersey (he is a volunteer firefighter and was involved in the 9/11 cleanup). He included a small piece of baling twine and informed Mike he was still serving the Lord.

Looking back on those we have encountered through the years we try to stay in touch with as many as we can. What a joy when we share mutual faith and they continue in the service of the Lord. Of course sadly some have dropped out of the race (Hebrews 12:1). And there are those we just lose track of. What a joy to hear a report like Mike received from Jim!

As we talked last night we alluded to our investment in God's Kingdom and I told Mike we had too much to gain to lose. We acknowledge that we are on the latter part of our race, pressing toward the finish line, with many miles behind us. Certainly we are a lot closer to it than the starting line!

Today's Scripture portion is one of my longtime favorites, especially the verse that states, "
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

But today let us focus on a final challenge in this section,
"Only let us hold true to what we have attained."

Bible teacher L.O. Richards comments, "The picture that emerges as we connect these passages is an exciting one. God does have a high calling for Christians. But we attain it, not by self-reliant attempts to live by the law, but rather by humble commitment of ourselves to Jesus, asking and believing by faith that He will give us the power to follow Him." *

Today we especially direct our message to those who have been in service for many years. Keep pressing on. We hope you hear some good reports like Mike did, but we have a promise that has become my life verse. "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Indeed, there's too much to gain to lose!

Too many sunsets lie behind the mountains
Too many rivers my feet have walked through
And there's too many treasures awaiting over yonder
And there's too much to gain to lose

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, when the valley is deep, when the mountain is steep, when my body is weary, when I stumble and fall. When the choices are hard, when I'm battered and scarred, when I've spent all my resources and given my all, it's in Jesus' name that I press on. With the prize of eternal life, clear before my eyes, I find the strength and courage to press on and I can do so through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. Amen.

Adapted - "lyrics of Press On" written by Dan Burgess

Some Scenes of Our Weekend

Amish family at harvest time 9/16/16
Another photo of our Amish neighbors. Looks like at least five of the children were helping Dad out, although one little girl paused to wave back at us.

Val-Co community service day 9/16/16
Friday we joined many of the employees at Val-Co for their annual community service day. This year teams went to five separate locations to serve; two nursing homes, an inner city church, a shelter for abused women and a home for troubled children. Brooksyne took the photo of this group she worked alongside in a nursing home while Ester and I visited the various groups who were working elsewhere.

Val-Co community service day 9/16/16
This team did work restoring a home that is used to provide services to troubled children.

White Oak Display community service day 9/17/16
On Saturday morning we participated in a "Walk Of Love" sponsored by "Brittany's Hope" which aids abandoned children worldwide. We walked with the employees from White Oak Display, another company we serve as chaplains.

White Oak Display community service day 9/17/16
A beautiful walk through the woods near Elizabethtown, PA.

Sheldon Miller 5k race finish 9/17/16
There were many other individuals and groups participating in the event including Sheldon Miller, seen here finishing a 5k race. Sheldon works at Smucker Laser. He and his wife Jenna recently adopted a little girl from Vietnam, receiving assistance from Brittany's Hope.

JK fathers at picnic 9/17/16
Saturday afternoon we attended a company picnic with the employees of JK Mechanical. This company has a lot of young men who install heating and air conditioning.  I regularly challenge the men to be good husbands and fathers.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Too Much To Gain To Lose"   Video   Jake Hess  This song just needs to be sung by an older voice and Jake provides that though he is now with the Lord.

"Press On"  Video  Selah

"Faithful One"  Video   Selah

* Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency

Finally today:
Sweetlife 9/16/16
The nature of our work takes us out a lot so when we get home we normally don't get out again for pleasure. But Friday night we ventured into Lancaster City, which has maintained a vibrant downtown and heard Sweetlife, a couple from our area. Here's a video sample of their music.

Lancaster Pressroom restaurant courtyard 9/16/16
Due to many special street musicians on Music Friday the city was especially busy with this inviting scene at the Pressroom Restaurant outdoor court. This coming Friday Ester is working at a "Newsboys" concert at the Lancaster Convention Center so we will be back in town again!

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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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