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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chiques Bridge
Stone bridge over Little Chiques Creek south of Mount Joy.

"He Is Able To Keep"

Note: We dedicate today's message to all whose lives are touched by Alzheimer's Disease.

Message summary: Regardless of our age or memory diminishment here's a great truth for all, "He is able to keep what I have committed to Him."

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"And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come" (Psalm 71:18). "For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Roxie running
Our older dog Roxie will be 14 years old this year. We got her in early 2005 as a pup but the exact date of her birth was unclear since she was a "rescued" dog, though we were told she was born in October. She's a very good pet, easy to care for and very loyal, especially to Brooksyne. She's really slowing down in her old age and has a difficult time walking up and down the steps. She's also demonstrating some signs of a pet ailment I was unaware of before talking to a friend of ours last year. (Note: Photo to the right is a much younger Roxie!)

She now has the symptoms of "Canine Dementia".* Of most concern to us on these very cold days is that when we let her out to relieve herself she may wander off or forget what door we let her out of. Last night when I let her and Mollie out for a break it was frigid and after a few minutes I opened the door to let them in. Mollie was there but no Roxie. She's also losing her hearing so my hollering was somewhat in vain. Turns out she had gone to another door (we have three) and she was expecting me there!

We, like many, enjoy our pets (two dogs and a cat), and seeing them age is hard. But of course this analogy seems rather lame compared to human aging. We especially consider those individuals dealing with symptoms of dementia.
Several of my aunts reached this stage in their late eighties/early nineties. Brooksyne recalls the painful experience of her grandmother's dementia that spanned four years before she went to heaven.

We're also very mindful and when possible lend support to their caregivers, usually family members, who must learn to understand and deal with their loved one's dementia behaviors from their memory loss, angry outbursts, and  non-logical physical manifestations of behavior. In nursing home settings we see this firsthand in the "memory care unit".

In the first daily text the Psalmist petitions God,
"And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me." Since we have a more exhaustive record of Scripture than the Psalmist we can be further reassured with the words of God, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

It would be wonderful if we could grow old without all the unpleasant symptoms that accompany aging, such as sagging skin, memory loss, extreme pain and so much more.

I found great encouragement in a story I read or heard over the past week. (I already forgot the source, which indicates I'm among the aging!). A woman who had a great love for the Bible all of her life had memorized many Bible verses. As she grew older her memory diminished and she began to lose her recall of these precious verses that were endeared to her spirit and imprinted in her memory bank. However she maintained a grasp of one Scripture which was her favorite. It's also our second daily text. In time she even lost her memory of this verse and could only quote short phrases. Eventually she could only recall this significant phrase, "He is able to keep what I have committed to Him."

Regardless of age or memory diminishment that's a great truth for all, "He is able to keep what I have committed to Him."

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we've learned the importance of Scripture study and memorization because it is our spiritual life line, giving us guidance, encouragement, instruction, correction, and training in righteousness as we journey here below. It enables us to live a godly life while also preparing our hearts for eternity in heaven. Life is far from perfect in this imperfect world and there is much that we cannot fully understand or control. But we know that You are able to keep that which we commit to You until the day of our union with Christ, which supplies peace to our heart and assurance in our spirit. Though symptoms of aging can make one feel useless or insignificant You have work for us to do in every season of our life. The wisdom, experience, and unhurried soul of an aging saint can greatly benefit those whom they influence whether it's a family member, roommate, health care worker or volunteer. For even when we are old and gray, O God, You do not forsake us, for we are still declaring Your strength to this generation and Your power to all who are to come. Amen.

Roxie and Dottie sharing basket
This photo was taken about ten years ago. As it gets colder outside our pets, Roxie (dog) and Dottie (cat), like to snuggle up in front of the coal stove.

Photo of Roxie in fox trap
Not a happy dog!
About ten years ago Roxie got caught in a fox trap. My neighbor, who had set the trap, came to our aid and released her. The poor girl limped all the way home but fully recovered. She's also had run-ins with the electric fence!

Roxie leaping through the wheat field
When she was young Roxie enjoyed leaping through the wheat fields. It was really an amazing sight to see her jump through the field with practically vertical hops. When she's not leaping (as in the photo where she's about 18 inches off the ground) we could only spot the curly point of her tail. We shared a video of Roxie jumping through the wheat field which is the first video I ever placed on YouTube. (watch the 30 second video here)

Roxie getting her skunk bath
In this photo Brooksyne is bathing Roxie after she had a tussle with a skunk. Roxie doesn't think she's in need of a bath and Brooksyne is trying to explain, "You smell like a skunk and we don't invite skunks into our home."

Longwood Manor family Christmas photo
Years ago we had ministry at Longwood Manor, a local assisted living center where Roxie often joined us to provide "pet therapy". This year she joined us for our holiday photo.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"  Video  Congregational singing

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"  Video  Marshall Hall

"I Know Whom I Have Believed
"  Video  Chuck Wagon Gang (Dedicated to Pastor John Keefer)

"She Still Remembers Jesus' Name"  Video  Booth Brothers  A very touching song!

* Canine Dementia

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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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