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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Hawk Mountain north lookout 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
Coming down off Hawk Mountain on Tuesday afternoon we passed this peaceful setting on Hawk Mountain Road. Someone has built this small covered bridge over their pond!
Click on photo for larger view

"Order My Steps In Thy Word"

Message summary:  Have you goofed up, messed up, or even blown it big time? Perhaps you are in the process of trying to stand again after you've fallen. Call on the name of the Mighty God of the universe. As you take hold of the Lord's righteous right hand He will pick you up. He will come and save you.

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"Order my steps in Thy word" (Psalm 119:133). "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and he delights in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand" (Psalm 37:23,24). "Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from men of violence who plan to trip my feet" (Psalm 140:4). "We all stumble in many ways" (James 3:2).

In yesterday's message we mentioned our rigorous hike up a stony path on Hawk Mountain on Tuesday to get to a dramatic overlook. Brooksyne shares there's a bit more that precedes our strenuous hike up on Hawk Mountain. She'll tell her story:

After enjoying breakfast at Cracker Barrel we stopped at a Lowe's Store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania before we drove up to Hawk Mountain. Stephen went into Lowe's while I walked in front of Lowe's toward another store.

I was walking a normal pace, holding my coffee-to-go from Cracker Barrel in one hand and looking straight ahead. Lickety split, with no sense of where it came from, I lost my balance and fell on the Lowe's parking lot, my arm getting the worst of the pain and scratches. I went down all the way and was so stunned by the unexpected fall that I couldn't get up for a moment. Of course I was hopeful that no one saw my fall or my full cup of coffee that sprayed the pavement.

But I was spotted by a Lowe's employee who had her walkie-talkie and was ready to call in the reinforcements. "Are you hurt, Mam" she repeatedly asked and I repeatedly assured her that I was fine and thanked her for her concern.

As I got up and walked away with no injury Psalm 37:23,24 came to mind. I began to sing "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord...though he fall, he shall not be cast down for the Lord upholds him with His hand." The words brought a smile and I thanked God that I wasn't hurt.

The analogy that came to mind was that there are times we may fall; sometimes it's a physical fall, other times it's a spiritual fall but God is there to help us up. The Lowe's employee was there to help me if I needed it which made me think of how God sends others to aid us when we have fallen. We are never abandoned by our ever faithful God.

After I picked myself up I studied the pavement where I took my tumble and saw that there was a stone probably 2" in diameter that I didn't see while walking and it must have thrown off my stride when I stepped on it wearing my wedge sandals.

While walking on smooth surfaces we get comfortable and don't even pay attention to the terrain. But today let's consider the Christian journey like a long hike through rocky terrain which has some laments like that of John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress". Because of the uneven terrain and the extensive tree roots, rocks and now lots of fallen acorns and walnuts in our yard and neighborhood, we may stumble as we walk along though we usually compensate and stay upright.

But we all have occasionally fallen down. We can linger in a fallen position or choose to get up, brush off the debris, and trudge on. And when we are unaware of what made us fall we're wise to examine the terrain and see what obstacle we stumbled over. That's a good lesson for the Christian life as well.

Have you ever fallen? Of course you have! You did so a lot when you were learning to walk but have probably forgotten that. But just ask your parents. You've also fallen a few times after being full-grown and how embarrassing is that! Some of us will remember the low budget TV ad from the eighties with the memorable line, "I've fallen and I can't get up."

We've also fallen spiritually; all of us. The Apostle James says, "We all stumble in many ways" (3:2). Sometimes we stumble "big time", but more commonly in the "small ways". The seasoned Christian pilgrim has experienced the spiritual bruises from these falls. The persevering believer has a testimony of overcoming falls. They don't give up.

Jason holding "Do Not Give Up" sign 10/2/18Visiting on Tuesday morning at Audrey's, a wholesale distributor of home decor items, I found a "Do Not Give Up" sign for sale. Jason who is holding the sign is a man who has had some real tough bumps in life but is not giving up and keeps on keeping on. (He gave me permission to share this.)

In the latter part of the first daily text the Psalmist has a wonderful promise, "The steps of a good man* are ordered by the LORD, and he delights in His way."

"Though he fall". This passage acknowledges that the "good man" falls, but gives us two great assurances.

1) "He shall not be utterly cast down." Thank God that we have no excuse for staying down after we fall. God has promised that we will not "be utterly cast down". Be sure to remind the devil when he tells you otherwise.

2) "For the Lord upholds him with His hand." Cling to this encouraging truth and cling to His hand today, believing friend. The immutable God continues to uphold His children. What an assuring promise for today and for always.

Have you goofed up, messed up, or even blown it big time? Perhaps you are in the process of trying to stand again after you've fallen. Call on the name of the Mighty God of the universe. As you take hold of the Lord's righteous right hand He will pick you up. He will come and save you. Do not give up!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You that You are our guide; that our footsteps are ordered by You.  Though we stumble or fall, we are not cast down for You uphold us with Your righteous right hand. In ourselves we may be clumsy, weak, or nearsighted, but following You, our Great Shepherd through dangers, toils and snares to the high places of Your love, we will be like that of hind's feet in high places. When we unexpectedly find ourselves in a fallen position we feel pretty foolish and somewhat helpless though usually we bounce right back to an upward position. But there are times, Lord, when we get trapped in a fallen position and especially need Your help and even assistance from others to help us walk upright again. When we're in a fallen position spiritually, Lord, it is Your hand that we reach for. You do not abandon us nor cast us down for You only want to lift us up again. Our hope is in You alone so help us to cling tightly to Your hand as we walk the potholed terrain of this life. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

* "Good man" Of course the principle here applies to women as well.

Some more scenes from rural Berks County during our way home from Hawk Mountain on Tuesday.

Berks County Barn 10/2/18
Berks County barns are well known for their Hex signs, which are a type of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Some consider these to have some mystical meaning while others see them as being merely decorative. According to this article in Wikipedia, "Barn paintings, usually in the form of "stars in circles," began to appear on the landscape in the early 19th century, and became widespread decades later when commercial paint became readily available. By the 1950s commercialized hex signs, aimed at the tourist market, became popular and these often include stars, compass roses, stylized birds known as distelfinks, hearts, tulips, or a tree of life. Two schools of thought exist on the meaning of hex signs. One school ascribes a talismanic nature to the signs, the other sees them as purely decorative, or "Chust for nice" in the local dialect. Both schools recognize that there are sometimes superstitions associated with certain hex sign themes, and neither ascribes strong magical power to them. The Amish do not use hex signs."
Click to enlarge

Berks County farm 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
This large active Berks County Farm is nestled up near the foot of the mountain. Due to the ridge and valley characteristic of this part of Pennsylvania some regions seem very remote although they are really not that far from urban areas.
Click to enlarge

Berks County Barn remains 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
It's always sad to see a barn in this condition!
Click to enlarge

House in Berks County 10/2/18
We passed this house as we drove back down the mountain through a beautiful part of rural Berks County. It surprising that it's still standing and reminds us of a post card we saw many years ago with a house in a similar condition with the caption, "We finally found a home we can afford". Brooksyne texted the photo to Ester and told her "We found a house we can afford to buy you and they're throwing the graffiti in for free.". Ester was not amused.

Dreibelbis Station covered bridge, Berks County, PA 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
The Dreibelbis Station covered bridge in Berks County, PA  was built in 1869. It is 172 feet long without any pier support in the middle. Now I sure admire modern engineering but it's pretty remarkable in my view to make a structure this long that has no pier support in the middle. By the way the method used is known as the the Burr Arch Truss.
Click to enlarge

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Order My Steps"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"He Will Come And Save You "  Video 
Bob Fitts

"You Are My All In All"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  This song comes to mind because the second verse includes, "When I fall down you pick me up, when I am dry you fill my cup".

"The Steps Of A Good Man"  Video  Musician not identified  Today's text set to music.

Though dark be the night and long be the day
Lord, make me follow in Thy perfect way
Tho cometh sorrow; tho great be my pain
Lord make me serve Thee, Come Sunshine or Rain

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord
and He delighteth in his way
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:
For the Lord, for the Lord
For the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.

O Thou art almighty, I am so small
Lord make me trust Thee whatever be-fall
Thou art all holy; You make no mistake
Lord, make me Christ-like whatever it takes.

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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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