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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lebanon County one room schoolhouse 3/19/17 (Click to enlarge)
One Room Schoolhouse in Lebanon County*

(Click on photo for larger view)

"Finish Well"

Note: Due to our busy schedule we were unable to post a message yesterday.

Message summary:
We will all finish this race. But the deeper question we must all ask ourselves is this, "Will I finish well?

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"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24). "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).

2 Timothy 4:7On Monday we had fellowship with Bill and Patty Preston, friends we first met when they lived in New Jersey. Patty had organized Christian Women's Clubs and Bible studies for many years and even now hosts a neighborhood weekly Bible study in their home.

Bill is a retired college track coach and presently volunteers as coach for a Cross Country team on a Penn State campus near their new home in Franklin County PA.

Bill became a Christian believer when he was thirty and is now nearing 80. He has run and finished the Boston Marathon. He stays in remarkable physical condition and is still running! He shared his life verse with me, so appropriate for a lifelong runner and coach. He was pleased to show me his bronze runner with the daily text framed above it, which expresses his aspiration, to run and finish the race well.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). (For a larger version of the display click on small photo to the left.)

In 1997 we watched the Boston Marathon at the finish line very near where the terrorist bombing took place in 2013. The crowd was so dense that Brooksyne could only see the backs of the spectators. I hoisted Ester
on my shoulders so she could watch since she was a very small eight year old at the time. At 6 feet 2 inches I managed to look over the thick crowd that lined the course for miles to see the finish.

Boston Marathon finish line
The finish line is in the shadow of the Boston Public Library and the John Hancock Tower, the tallest skyscraper in New England. Only a small fraction of the runners who start the race have any reasonable expectation of actually being the "winner". The vast majority set a goal just to finish and many have a target time they hope to run it in. The Boston Athletic Association website reported that in 2016 26,629 runners finished the marathon.

Each day, unheralded for the most part, thousands of Christian marathon runners also finish the race. Only a few are publicly recognized apart from their own family, church, and close friends. Certainly not to the degree famous entertainers or athletes are recognized or celebrated!

But the most notable recognition that really counts will be on the other side where Christian runners aspire to hear the words of our Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

In our daily texts we see several components of finishing well in life's marathon:

1) "I consider my life worth nothing to me." John the Baptist said it so well, "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

2) "Completing the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."  Essentially this is the great commission given to all His disciples. Like the apostle Paul, we also have "the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." We are certainly apportioned with a variety of specific giftings. You may be a student, a businessperson, a homemaker, a professional or a "minister". You may be young or old, black, white or otherwise. You may be wealthy or not so wealthy. But if you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are called to "the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Let us all be faithful in doing so!

3) "I have fought the good fight." In 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul wrote, "Fight the good fight of faith". This is not a physical fight, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but .... against the spiritual forces of evil' (Ephesians 6:12). If you are not fighting you have surrendered to the enemy!

4) "I have finished the race."  I have long been puzzled at the finality of this phrase. Paul was still living but so certain of his soon departure from this life (see the preceding verse 4:6) that he wrote in the past tense. The idea Paul is conveying to Timothy and to all saints is not for us to merely end our life, but to bring our life (in Christ) to its destined goal, bringing to completion the individually unique and specific "course" that God has laid out for each of His children to run.

5) "I have kept the faith." Each generation is called to keep and contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). The definite article is very significant in each of these texts. The order in the Greek emphasizes this, "The faith I have kept." "The faith" is the apostolic doctrine taught from the very beginning of the church age. This is the standard we must maintain.

We will all finish this race. But the deeper question we must all ask ourselves is this, "Will I finish well?"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to run the Christian race wholeheartedly testifying to the gospel of Your grace all the days of our life. We choose to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.  It's not the one who runs the swiftest, nor the one who runs for a day, but the one who endures to the end who will be saved. We anxiously await the rapturous moment when we cross the finish line from mortality into immortality, from death unto life eternal, when we will hear Your wonderful commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Amen.

Prestons and Schmidts 3/20/17
Yesterday we enjoyed a prime rib sandwich and chicken curry soup. How rare is it that six people go out to eat and, though there were numerous choices, we all ordered the same luncheon special!  Jim and Dorothy Schmidt (left) introduced us to Bill & Patty Preston while both couples lived in Ocean City, NJ. Patty and Dottie worked together for many years with the Christian Women's Clubs in their area. A year ago the Schmidts moved to Lancaster County so we see them more frequently and invited them to travel with us to visit the Prestons. What a delightful day we enjoyed in reconnecting with our friends!

Franklin County PA Court House
The Franklin County courthouse in Chambersburg has a plaque on the front that reads "Burned By The Rebels, 1864". A sober reminder of a tragic time in America's history.

Franklin County PA South Mountain
Returning from Chambersburg we had some pretty scenery through the mountains crossing the Appalachian Trail.

Adams County PA apple orchards
We passed mile after mile after mile of apple orchards in Adams County.

Nathan Ncube soccer MVP 3/21/17
Yesterday afternoon Nathan Ncube, a junior in high school, stopped by and I asked him to pose with his MVP soccer trophy. He's an outstanding soccer player and is pleased to have this trophy but when the soccer ball disassembled from its stand he came to our house and Brooksyne reattached it with superglue. Some of our readers will remember the days before superglue and many things that we broke stayed broken. Probably a good number of you will also recall accidentally gluing your fingers together and painfully trying to separate them. You might want to check out this site for more ideas about the usage of superglue!

* Brooksyne's further thoughts about the one room schoolhouse: On Sunday afternoon we passed this one room schoolhouse in Lebanon County, PA. It caught my eye in passing so I asked Stephen to back up so we could photograph this rural school house. I did a lot of thinking as I viewed this quaint one room school house with its four teeter totters, four swings, outdoor toilet, large bell, white fence and iron farm gate. I then thought of my large brick school house back in Tulsa and, though I have very fond memories of my Elementary years, I thought of how different it would be to look back on my childhood having shared one small classroom with eight different ages; all learning, eating, and playing together. In the typical public school children in grades above and below mine were simply familiar faces with little exception. The one quite modern thing that stood out is the solar panel that sits on the roof next to the bell. I did a double take as it's the first time I've seen a one room school house, which we often view in Lancaster County, with a solar panel.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Finish Well"  Video   Karen Peck & New River

"It Will Be Worth It All"  Video   Ann Downing  song and includes some thoughtful quotes

"It Will Be Worth it All"  Video  A campmeeting setting. This is an old song we recall from our Bible college days.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

"Run the Race - The Faith in Christ that Perseveres"  Video   "Faith in Christ is a pursuit…a fight…a race. It’s a journey laden with difficulty, but at the finish line awaits an imperishable reward that is given to those who persevere…Christ Himself." A powerful selection of Bible verses on running the race.

Extensive study on 2 Timothy 4:7 from Precept Austin's online commentary compendium

Finally today:

Striped house
I last had regular business in the Chambersburg area about 15 years ago when I managed a group of chaplains in that region. Driving home with our friends the Schmidt's I told them we were going to pass an interesting house painted in stripes in western York County. But lo and behold we never saw it. I knew I had a photo from seeing it before and here it is!

I spoke to the owner years ago, an older man who was out mowing the lawn. He was pleased that we had stopped and mentioned that he had a striped boat in the back as well. His wife came out and told us that she had told him the house needed painted. One day she came home from work only to see that he had painted the house in horizontal stripes. He must have liked the effect since he also painted his shed, boat, and chimney with stripes as well! (I assume the home has been sold since we passed by years ago and the new owner wasn't too fond of stripes!)

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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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