“Be Reconciled To God”

Friday, September 2, 2011

Butterfly on sunflower Brooksyne took this photo in our backyard.
Butterflies are drawn to the sunflowers! This year we’ve been feeding butterflies with scrap orange sections, watermelon and cantaloupe.
They along with moths thoroughly enjoy the fruit.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player. Please Note: Due to our busyness and a rather stressful day (see below message) the podcast will not be available for this message.  This also accounts for why the message is so late!

“Be Reconciled To God”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).Church sign Today’s message is prompted by a church sign about a mile from our home. This church posts the title of the coming Sunday’s message (which I  like to see). However, due to the title and the particular way it’s worded it ends up having a possibly unintended meaning. It states:

This Sunday
“Be Reconciled To God”

Well, one could read it and see it as a challenge to get reconciled with God this coming Sunday. Perhaps some would even think they have to wait! Since I first saw the message posted on Wednesday I suppose that means I would need to wait till Sunday to take care of my most important issue in life but of course this is not the case, and was not the intention of the church either!

The phrases “good news” and “great news” are often spoken in our vocabulary. These phrases will be used millions of times today among those who speak English. Ester uses it a lot. For instance, “Daddy, I have good news, I’m going to Dutch Wonderland with a friend.” And I use these phrases as well to describe pleasant events in my life, as do many of you. I just wonder how many times today these phrases will be used to describe the really, truly good news, which indeed is great news, exceedingly great news.

Today’s text is a summary of the Good News; the glorious truth that reconciliation with God is freely available. A simple definition of reconciliation is the act of “bringing back together.” Anyone separated from God due to sin in their lives can be brought back to Him through reconciliation.  And you don’t have to wait for Sunday or go to particular church to reconcile with God!

I shared a lengthy Scripture portion at the beginning of today’s encouragement. I regrettably find a tendency in my life to skim over or perhaps even skip a familiar Scripture  when I read an article or a devotional such as those found in the popular “Our Daily Bread” booklet. Perhaps I unconsciously reason that I already know this Scripture before, but have not read the words of the writer before. God often convicts me of this. His Word is infinitely of more importance than any of man’s thoughts.

I like Matthew Henry’s thoughts regarding the act of God reconciling man to Himself:  “He beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept of the terms He offers, that they would be reconciled to Him, to all His attributes, to all His laws, and to all his providences, to believe in the Mediator, to accept the atonement, and comply with His gospel, in all the parts of it and in the whole design of it.”

May I encourage you to scroll up the page and read that Scripture portion again, slowly, meaningfully and aloud if possible. Hear the glorious call: Be reconciled to God! Then rejoice in the news that is truly great and pray for opportunities to share it with others!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is because of the great love of Your Son, Jesus, and His willingness to take our sins upon Himself that we are reconciled to You. It is truly amazing and the greatest news of all time for all generations.  Father, we want to be passionate as Christ’s ambassadors since You are making Your appeal through us reaching out to others with the greatest message of all time:  “Be reconciled to God.”  When we were lost, broken, and without hope Christ reconciled us to You who sought us, repaired our broken lives, and gave us eternal hope.  Where would we be without Jesus!  Thank You for receiving us, redeeming us, and reconciling us to Yourself.  Amen.

The Unexpected:

We, as a family, have been counting our blessings since yesterday about noontime.  I’ll let Brooksyne tell the story:

Stephen, Ester and I were traveling east in the van on Route 23 in Leola.  I dropped Stephen off at a supermarket and was headed to Comfort Inn in New Holland where I serve as chaplain. (Ester was to be dropped off later to meet up with a friend.)

I headed east and got caught up in a line of traffic (very common for Route 23 since there are many tourists at this time of year).  As the traffic slowed, so did I. Like many of you, I looked in my rear view mirror to make sure the person behind me was slowing as well. I was startled as I viewed a car coming behind me with way too much speed.  I thought to myself, he’s traveling too fast and will not be able to stop in time. Within seconds his Ford Fusion slammed into the rear of our van.  Before I had time to process the “hit” I realized I was now in the westbound lane and was facing oncoming traffic.  There was no traffic tie up in the westbound lane and a black jeep Cherokee traveling at probably 30 to 35 MPH was headed straight toward me (or she would properly say I was straight in her path.)  All I could do was call out, “God!” and lickety split she swerved to her right and headed for a yard.  Traffic halted allowing me to drive the van out of the opposing lane. I parked it in a driveway and got out to assess the damage.  In less than five minutes a state trooper, fire truck, and ambulance arrived (it must have been neighbors who called). So many people appeared from every direction.

The Damage:

Ester’s seat had unfastened sending her to the back of the van (we had removed the back bench seat weeks ago).  She hit her head and had some bruising.  Due to her health history and being on a blood thinner she needed to be checked out at the hospital. All the tests turned out negative for which we are thankful. I was not injured at all.

The man who hit us was not hurt but his 2008 Ford Fusion was possibly totalled.  The young woman, whom I believe God sent angels to steer her jeep out of harm’s way, was not injured.  She had two small children who were not harmed either.

About five minutes after the accident the van began to send out a lot of smoke (steam) under the hood.  The firemen were standing by and ready to dowse the engine fire but it was related to the radiator. The van overheated and will need mechanical repair as well.

Visibly the damage isn’t that bad and thankfully the man who hit us had insurance and the van has already been towed in for repairs. Because the driver, who hit Brooksyne, was trying to pull right of the van to avoid hitting her it forced the van to veer into the westbound lane rather than the car in front of her.  It could have been extremely serious, or potentially fatal had they collided head-on with the Cherokee.

The man, about 40 years old, repeatedly apologized.  When I gave him my business card he saw that I was a chaplain. He appeared to be excited and commented “You’re Pastors?” I responded, “You’re a man of God, aren’t you?”  “Yes I am, I sure am!” he said. He was on his way to apply for a job at Shady Maple. So we have taken up his need to find work in our prayers.

Van accident damage

Update: The van was hauled to the body shop today and the appraiser was pretty sure the insurance company would total the van due to the age (1999) and mileage on the van with the repair costing more than the van is worth according to some formula. However this amount would not replace the van with one that is similar. This is a bit disconcerting and discouraging to us since we had maintained the van very well and had hoped to get several more years out of it. What’s more the 2012 van we have as a rental is actually not as large. So we will wait till next week for the final word on this matter.

Van accident avoidanceAfter the entire mess was cleaned up and emergency workers left (about 40 minutes) I went to the other side of the very busy highway, parked the car, and took this photo.  I visited with the young woman who drove the Cherokee and gave her a big hug. She showed me how she drove her jeep from the road into this yard and steered it between this telephone pole and the guy wire. All who looked on were amazed at  how the only damage was the right mirror broken off by the guy wire. The tracks are barely visible but if you look closely you might be able to see how close she was to the wire. Indicating how close she was to our van there is a mark where her left side mirror hit our van.
Farewell van!
A sad sight to see our van hauled away. We’ve had it for over 7 years (It’s a ’99 model and we purchsed it used in 2004) and it’s been a great vehicle.  Brooksyne pointed out the irony of the “NEED ENCOURAGEMENT?” sticker on our van as it’s followed by someone on the way to the repair shop this afternoon!

The blessing of friends!

Yesterday following the accident we stopped by Mike and Michelle Stillman’s house. Michelle drove Brooksyne to the Lancaster General Hospital ER where Ester had been transported via ambulance. I drove the still operable van home since it was overheating and wanted to stay on the highway to get it home.

During the 1982 season Mike played for Penn State as the longsnapper on the NCAA National championship team. He offered me two tickets to this Saturday’s Penn State game so we picked them up and then they showed us their large litter of 11 Yellow Lab pups, just over two weeks old.  This was Daisy’s first litter…I wonder how many she’ll have the next time!

Yellow lab pups (9/1/11)Brooksyne with Yellow lab pup (9/1/11)The pups will be ready for adoption in approximately six weeks.
Anyone interested!?  Contact us and we will share with Mike Michelle.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Grace Alone”  Video   A great reminder!!!

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