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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Silver Lake at Rehoboth Beach 9/13/17 Click to enlarge
Silver Lake at Rehoboth Beach is a beautiful fresh water lake only about a block from the ocean.
(Click on photo for larger view)

"What Is Better"

Note: Due to travel to the shore a message was not posted yesterday.

Message summary: "What is better" is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what He has to say. It's focusing on the spiritual, non-visible realm.

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"As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42).

I'm comin' back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesus.

Brooksyne with sister Elaine, 2012
My (Brooksyne) sister, Elaine who resides in Texas, just celebrated her birthday which usually coincides with the first day of autumn. We're close in age, only 13 months apart, and share many of the same interests, but not entirely.Our personalities and interests differ. I enjoy my spot in the kitchen baking for family and friends while Elaine has more of a business mind and is tech savvy. While growing up Elaine always volunteered for the outdoor chores while I elected to do the housekeeping.

If we were comparing ourselves to the two sisters of Bethany I would more likely resemble Martha, very busy in the kitchen, while Elaine would be enjoying a glass of tea, that I served on the front porch, conversing with friends and family. Like Mary and Martha, there were times when our personality differences turned into arguments though now we look back and laugh about such matters, but not so much then. Mom and Dad, intent that we learn to work hard, were never hesitant to assign duties in our home and we were better for it.

Mary and Martha
Both Mary and Martha had important duties in welcoming the Lord Jesus to their home. Martha was tending to physical needs (preparing the meal) while Mary was tending to spiritual needs (sitting at the feet of Jesus). Both were important but when one duty rivaled the importance of the other, Martha's complaining whimper forced Jesus to address the attitude of her heart. 

We easily identify with Martha's attitude in the daily Scripture portion, spending way too much time in the "kitchen",
easily distracted by the stuff of life in the material, visible realm. Distractions constantly lull us away from "what is better". Most of our readers will identify with our struggle. We generally prioritize visible accomplishments over inward attitudes of the heart. This can be seen in an obituary where titles, achievements, and interests of the deceased may be listed, but the person's attitude toward life may not even be mentioned (though now that obituaries are far more personalized than in the past, we're seeing more personality descriptions and not just accomplishments).

As we study this portion of Scripture especially consider the phrase, "Mary has chosen what is better." She made a willful, purposeful choice to sit at the Lord's feet, listening intently to His counsel, His teaching, and delighting in His friendship. She likely dealt with distractions since I can imagine Martha was clanging those pots in the kitchen just a little extra loud to get Mary's attention as she surely muttered under her breath, "Why isn't Mary in here helping me?".

That muttering led her to appeal to the Lord; "She came to Him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'"

Jesus addresses her "
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

"What is better" is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what He has to say. It's focusing on the spiritual, non-visible realm. It's like another Mary, who following the birth of her son, Jesus, "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." It includes reading, studying, meditating and memorizing the Bible along with praise, worship and prayer. What we store up in our hearts spills out to those around us making an eternal difference. It goes beyond impressing people to inspiring them to meet Jesus on a personal level. When we spend time with our Lord we experience the fulfillment and blessing that is at the very heart of living the abundant life.

But Mary chose to shut her mind to the daily routine and open her heart to the rare moments that she could personally spend in Jesus' presence. Perhaps she was completely lost in his presence and simply forgot that Martha had need of her help. Both sisters learned the balance between a soul at rest and a body in motion, as they worked hard for Christ and worshiped at His feet.

But, in full disclosure, we confess the "kitchen"
continually beckons and distractions abound.

"The Heart of Worship" is a song that reminds us of where our focus needs to be, although we realistically accept that distractions will continually beckon. Aren't you thankful for God's patience and grace! He has time and again called us back to the heart of worship and He constantly reminds us that this race on earth is really all about embracing Him spiritually during our earthly sojourn!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You know the very intention of all that I say and do. As I invite You to examine my heart, I lay before You the people and pursuits that drive me further away from a heart of worship. You have not removed me bodily from this world, but You have raised me up spiritually to abide in Your presence even as I carry out my daily duties. As Your presence overshadows me it is there that Your love and faithfulness sustain me and gives me a true heart of worship. Even as a vehicle needs fuel to properly function, I need prayer to uphold and equip me for the day that lies ahead. Amen.

  This is one of seven times in Scripture when God addresses a person by repeating their name twice (this is known as "Epizeuxis" which is the repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession, for vehemence or emphasis.)
Of course we are speaking of the "kitchen" as an analogy for all the things that distract and take us away from the better choice. As we consider this subject here are some additional considerations:

1) Certainly some may be less easily distracted than others and some more spiritually focused but it can also become a dangerous source of pride.
2) Jesus is not teaching that all "kitchen work" or daily duties are wrong. We really need to consider a balance in Biblical teaching showing the importance and value of work and living responsibly.
3) We need to graciously recognize we have different callings from God, and not esteem one above the other or feel that others must feel as passionately about our cause as we do. This leads to arguments, jealousy, and resentment rather than expanding the kingdom of God.
4) Some distractions are ultimately God-ordained ministry opportunities.

"Tyranny of the Urgent" is the title of a small pamphlet I read many years ago. This booklet expresses the sense of urgency that overshadows us in the daily experience of living, and it examines how modern technology contributes to this urgency. When Charles Hummel wrote this in 1967, he identified the telephone as a great contributor to this sense of urgency. At that time, for me anyway, that would have been the black rotary dial phone mounted to our kitchen wall; the only phone in our home in Belton, Missouri.

Fast forward to present day where a majority carry cell phones and many have smart phones with instant and constant access to the internet in addition to every manner of distraction-inducing technology. Many can't resist using their phone, even to the point of being rude or inconsiderate to others or worse yet making themselves a menace on the highway.

Tyranny is normally a term used to describe an oppressive government. In this sense the word is used to describe those conditions that oppress the soul. Tyranny of the urgent is essentially the oppressive compulsion that I must do it now. Due to our busy multi-tasking lives filled with numerous distractions this is a condition common to most and indeed it can be oppressive!

"Tyranny of the Urgent" pdf (only seven pages)

Scenes from the Delaware/Maryland shore.

Ocean City MD sand sculpure & hayride 9/23/17
On Saturday morning we walked the boardwalk in Ocean City Maryland. These sand sculptures are a great inspiration to passersby, as they see the gospel visually presented through sand sculptures. Randy Hofman is a local preacher and designs these sculptures. Tracts are often handed out by Christian volunteers as well. Also note the "Hay Ride" on the sand in the background! It was a special weekend at Ocean City called "Sunfest" and they had a huge craft show and other activities. We considered that our farming friend, Galen, in his retirement, might want to do this since we've ridden on many of his hayrides over the years, though not in the sand, of course! I'm sure his wife, Nancy, would be happy with such an arrangement.

Dog in side car in Lewes DE 9/24/17
This was a site you don't see everyday. Too bad we couldn't get close enough for a good photo of the white lab in the side car accessorized by sunglasses on his eyes and goggles propped on his head.

Rehoboth Beach lifeguard stand 9/22/17
When we arrived at the shore Friday evening since no one was lifeguarding we climbed up the ladder and volunteered our services. The only challenge was that this lifeguard's chair faced the eateries on the boardwalk rather than the ocean water. So we ended up eating rather than lifeguarding :-) If this were cropped a bit more it looks like we are on a tall double rocking chair!

Rick and Jackie Steudler 9/24/17
Our friends, Rick and Jackie Steudler, reside in Lancaster County and have a home in Rehoboth Beach as well. We attended church with them on Sunday morning and had wonderful fellowship over lunch.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The Heart Of Worship"  Video   Matt Redman

"I Miss My Time With You"  Video  Larnelle Harris

"Don't You Think You Ought To Worship Me"  Video  The Wisecarvers

Finally today:

In Friday's message we mentioned hospital visits we had made on Thursday to Luke and Stephen. Both went home on Friday; Stephen, an infant was discharged from the hospital to join Mom and Dad and six siblings at his first earthly home while Luke, an elderly man, went to his final home to be with the Lord. We visited with Luke and his family a few minutes on Friday afternoon prior to our trip to the shore and sang several of his favorite hymns with the family. His service is this morning and we have both been asked to participate. His son Ken became one of our first friends when we moved to Lancaster County in 2001.

Brooksyne's note: I taught Middler Sunday School for a number of years and David, Luke's grandson, was one of my students. I'm a stickler for Scripture memorization, so with the faithful assistance of his parents, David memorized his weekly verses which sometimes were passages from the Bible. Over the past year I taught them the 23rd Psalm (KJV) in its entirety and David, along with several other students, memorized it word perfect and shared it in front of the church. I had told the class when I introduced this Psalm that I learned it as a child in Sunday School and have quoted it far more times than I can remember at the bedside of an individual who would soon be in the presence of the Lord. I also told them that they too can memorize it and God will use them in the same way. Who would know that less than a year later David would stand next to me at his grandpa's hospital bed, on the afternoon that he would cross over to glory, and help lead the family in this Comfort Psalm. It brought tears to my eyes and I'm sure it warmed the heart of his family and most especially his grandfather.

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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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