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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Old Railroad grade trail, near Tioga, PA
The Ives Run railroad grade trail, near Tioga, PA was our roughest ride with large stones. It was along a railroad grade that was relocated due to a dam project. The trail was only five miles but it seemed much longer due to the extra work needed to navigate the large stones. But the views and tree shaded trail were invigorating!

"All Aboard The Soul Train"

Message summary: Today we urge each of you to board the soul train!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"They watch for your souls, as they that must give account" (Hebrews 13:17).

This last weekend we traveled to northern Pennsylvania, our first out of town and overnight trip since early March. We enjoyed bike riding on 5 separate rail trails totaling 60 miles plus. We arrived home Monday evening weary but with lots of good memories!

Our first trail was the Susquehanna River Walk & Timber Trail in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This is actually not a rail trail (an abandoned rail line), but rather a trail built on the flood control levees along the Susquehanna River in Williamsport. We had seen this trail from the highway several times on our way further north during previous trips and decided to ride it on our way. It's a very pleasant ride with river and mountain scenery.

I was wearing a train themed t-shirt (as seen in photo to left) that prompted a conversation with a man after I had stopped to take a photo. He took an interest in my shirt and it turns out he was a career train engineer. He is, to my knowledge, the first train engineer I've ever conversed with! He was my age and he was certified as an engineer when he was
just 21 years old. He had engineered trains all though the region. His most notable experience was two years on the Acela Express high speed passenger service between Washington and Boston.

Being the same age I got to thinking about how his vocational life experience and mine were so different.  As a young boy growing up I thought it would be pretty exciting to be a train engineer, especially since I have always liked trains.

A train engineer has a lot of responsibility whether in passenger or freight service. But in over 45 years of my vocational ministry I have been serving on the soul train! As Richard, another train buff friend told me yesterday when musing together on this topic, my role has been more analogous to a conductor hearkening to all who will hear, "All aboard" and then guiding and serving them through earth's journey. But like the engineer I want to be certain the soul train stays on the right track!

I am prompted today to consider the daily text which I memorized at the time of my ordination to ministry in 1979. It describes the foundational role of a spiritual leader as watching over souls:

"They watch for your souls" The Greek word translated “watch” (agrupneo) means “to keep oneself awake,” and thus, “to keep watch, guard, or care for”.

Pastor Steven Cole points out:

"The image was drawn from shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. Shepherds had to stay alert in order to guard their flocks from predators. They had to know the sheep and observe them carefully enough to know when a sheep was sick or missing. They had to go after the strays and try to restore them to the flock. They had to lead them to pasture and clean water (see Ezekiel 34:1-16).

These tasks require the discernment to know where people are at spiritually and when they are heading toward spiritual danger. Leaders must love God and people enough to have the courage to confront those who are drifting. While you can only lead those who are willing to be led, godly leaders must always make the effort. The task is more difficult in our day when there are many different churches in town. If people get upset at one church, or if the leaders there try to confront some sin in their lives, they just move down the road to another church that welcomes them. Sadly, they usually carry their problems with them."

"As they that must give account".
The doctrine of accountability is far too often neglected but those of us in ministry must always keep this before us. We all do well to remember that, "each of us will give an account of ourselves to God" (Romans 14:12). "So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:9,10).

So today we urge each of you to board the soul train! All aboard!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to be diligent in matters so that we bring honor to You and testify to a life lived for Christ. It requires us to have a sold-out dedication to You. None of us lives unto himself, but we are part of the family of believers. When we honor You we also honor our brothers and sisters. We hold each other accountable so that our words, actions and attitudes reflect the teachings and commands of Christ and bring honor to the body of Christ. Help us to faithfully do our part in Jesus' name. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Soul Train"  Video  Bobby Kennedy

"Sing A Song Of Love on Soul Train"  Video  Wintley Phipps

Another sobering verse to consider today is:  "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:16).

Some scenes along our weekend bike rides (Part 1)

Susquehanna River from Williamsport
Susquehanna River from Williamsport, PA
Click on photo to enlarge
Wood hick statue along the Susquehanna River, Williamsport, PA
"Wood Hick" statue along the Susquehanna River, Williamsport, PA. “Wood hick” was a term used to describe the men who worked with the lumber companies.

Mountain view along the Susquehanna River trail, South Williamsport, PA
Mountain view along the end of the Susquehanna River trail, South Williamsport, PA

Old iron bridge along the Lamb's Creek Trail, Mansfield, PA
This old iron bridge is along the Lambs Creek Trail, Mansfield, PA. Once a working bridge, now it is a collection of people's names, dates, locations, quotes, and sadly but not surprisingly gross profanity.
Click on photo to enlarge

Tractor along the Old Railroad grade trail, near Tioga, PA
Tractor along the Ives Run railroad grade trail, near Tioga, PA. We admire the diligence of farmers in this area who use any patch they can in the midst of mountainous terrain.
Click on photo to enlarge

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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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