“God Leads His Dear Children Along”

Sunset with 1 Corinthians 15:58 (Click to enlarge)Beautiful sunset across from our house.
Today we are getting a big snowstorm so it looks like we will have the blanket covered farm field a bit longer!
(Photo taken by our neighbor, Doug)
Click on photo for larger view.

“God Leads His Dear Children Along”

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“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2). “The path of life leads upward for the wise” (Proverbs 15:24). “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Travis CottrellWe enjoy listening to a variety of Christian music finding it a means of reinforcing our faith. The other day Brooksyne heard an old hymn sung by Travis Cottrell and called it to my attention. We recall singing it along with many other songs that are rarely heard today. The song, “God Leads Us Along” reflects on God’s leading throughout the seasons of life, both good and bad. We provide a link to the Cottrell version below and encourage our readers to listen.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

Our ministry has often taken us to the side of one’s deathbed. We may gather with the family or at times stand around the bed by ourselves. Brooksyne almost always quotes Psalm 23 and it is not unusual to have people recite it as well or at least part of it. She also softly sings a familiar hymn.

Harper HullOur most memorable experience in this regard was at the deathbed of Harper Hull. At 88 years of age Harper still worked full-time as an accountant at a business we serve as chaplains. As a young man, in 1949 he and his business partner purchased a boat company in New York and eventually moved it to Lancaster.  By 1968 it was one of the largest producers of inboard motor boats in the world, employing over 700 people. More importantly, Harper was a devout follower of Christ and had lived a life of integrity.

He was stricken with a brain infection and when we last visited him at Willow Valley we could see from his grave coloring, the amount of oxygen he was receiving, and his comatose state that his time on earth was soon coming to an end. His family, weary from the long struggle that ensued as they sat with him day after day, had just left to go home.

We picked up his well-worn Bible filled with his personal notes from sermons and his own studies and read a portion from it. Then Brooksyne, Ester and I unhurriedly quoted the 23rd Psalm knowing that if Harper could hear us he would recognize and find comfort in every precious word that flows from this famous Comfort Psalm.

Brooksyne then took Harper’s hand and began to sing, “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”. She often selects this hymn because of the last stanza that seems so appropriate when one’s soul is about to depart from this life.  It’s a hymn that she sung to my father and her father as they lay on their deathbeds and many others over our nearly 40 years of ministry, including two women over the past couple weeks who are now residing in heaven.

There was no evidence at all that Harper was even aware of our presence. But the last verse brought about an unexpected response that brings such a tender memory even as we consider our experience many years later.

As she sang the last verse,

“I’m so glad I learned to trust Him, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend,
and I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end”

Harper brought his lips together and mouthed to her the word, “Amen.” He didn’t use his voice nor did he even whisper. She would have missed his response if she had not fixed her eyes on his face as she was singing the hymn. In Harper’s “place of quiet rest” where only God’s Spirit could enter and, we are assured he heard every word, the prayer we prayed, the Scriptures we quoted, and the inspirational music God wanted him to hear.

What blessing his unanticipated response brought to our visit. As always, we who seek to refresh others in their time of need are ourselves refreshed. We commended Harper’s soul to Jesus before we left his room. The great heavenly transfer took place about ten hours later when Harper’s final war with pain and death gave way to everlasting victory. The shaded veil that hung between heaven and earth was lifted and Harper clearly saw the lights of glory and received his initiation into the house of the Lord where he now dwells forever!

Harper lived for Christ. As a result he experienced the wonderful truth that “to die is gain”. He could testify and surely is now from his heavenly residence that “God leads His dear children along”.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we pray for those who are walking in the valley of the shadow of death with a loved one today. Give them deep abiding peace and calm assurance in place of worry and fear as they’re confronted with the circumstances that surround them this day.  We pray for their loved one who is waging war between life and death, that they will find a place of quiet rest near to Your heart, O God; a place where Your sweet Spirit ministers in ways where human words fall short.  Help us to trust You for that which we can’t understand and to search the Scriptures for that which You want us to more fully comprehend on this side about life and death.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Don and Mary Weber 7/7/13 (Click to enlarge)I received word that my Uncle Don passed away this week. He was my last Uncle on both sides of my family. I wrote a message honoring Uncle Don and Aunt Mary in January. He happened to read it and later called me, leaving a voice mail that I now treasure. I returned his call and visited for few minutes. A little thing then, but now that memorable conversation will serve me for years to come. The photo to the left was taken during our last visit to their home near Louisville Kentucky in 2013. When Aunt Mary called me she was so pleased to inform me that several weeks ago they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Let me encourage each reader in two regards:

1) Write a tribute to those you love and esteem. I have encouraged this for many years. Information on writing tributes is here.

2) It just happens I saved Don’s last voice mail. I was going through my voice mails last night deleting old voice mails from my phone and saw it. I had forgotten all about it. It is a blessing when a loved one passes away and we have a vocal reminder.

Diligent in BusinessThis is a plaque Harper had on a shelf in his office. We often discussed the phrase, “Diligent In Business… Serving The Lord.” It is based on a verse from Romans 12:11 that states, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (KJV). However I have not been able to find a translation that uses the precise same wording. I would conjecture that’s it’s either a phrase based on the verse or perhaps from a translation no longer used. Either way it sure is a Scriptural concept! I did find the phrase in a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled “Serving The Lord With Gladness” (pdf). (Note also the model of the Conestoga wagon behind the plaque. The Conestoga wagon, used by scores of settlers heading west in the pioneer days, was made right here in Lancaster County, named after the Conestoga River.)

We wrote a daily encouragement message about Harper which tells more about him. Among many accomplishments he was the founder and long-time president of “The Trojan Yacht Company” here in Lancaster County.

Argonaught from Se Hunt (made by the Trojan Boat Company, Lancaster, PA)Interestingly the Argonaut yacht was the yacht featured in the weekly TV series of “Sea Hunt” from the early sixties. It was constructed by Harper’s company.

I recall how much Harper enjoyed talking about his hobby of racing remote controlled hobby yachts with his fellow residents at the Willow Valley Retirement Community.

Harper left a lasting impact on many and I am sure some reading this will know him. Rick Steudler, a friend of ours now in his sixties, spoke of Harper’s involvement in Sunday School when he was a boy. Harper served as a Sunday School teacher and superintendent. Indeed, “Only one life will soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Here’s the Wikipedia article about the company that Harper founded.

I preached a message at a nursing home and shared an illustration about Harper Hull. Afterward I walked through the room greeting the residents and one man told me he had worked for Harper. He fondly recalled that each day Harper left his office and walked out into the plant to greet each employee by name, and this was no small company. Another resident informed me that he had known Harper through his association with CBMC, a Christian businessman’s organization.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“God Leads Us Along”  Video  Travis Cottrell We really enjoy this version

“Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus”  Video   The Nelons

“He Leadeth Me”  Video  The Martins

“God Leads Us Along”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band (a more traditional version)

Hymn Background:  The author of this hymn, George Young, was a carpenter and a pastor.  He would often say, “He does the leading and we do the following.”  Mrs. Young would say years later, “Oh, sometimes we didn’t have too much of this world’s goods…but we always had so much of Jesus.”  He didn’t make much money in either profession.  Most of his life was spent in small farming communities.  Finally, however, he and his wife were able to build their own home, the fulfillment of a life’s dream. They moved in and  shortly afterwards left town to hold a revival elsewhere.  Upon returning to their dream home they found a heap of ashes. All their worldly goods and cherished possessions were gone. A thug, upset with George’s preaching, had set fire to their house, and it was reduced to ashes.

As George gazed at the ruins, he recounted the precious possessions fire could never destroy – his family, his relationship with Christ, his ministry, his eternal home. Then and there, the words to “God Leads Us Along” began forming in his mind. Within a few days, he had written all three stanzas, The year was 1903. The refrain reminds us that we all experience trials that vary in origin and in intensity but His blood provides for our greatest need which gives us all a song even in the night season:

“Some through the waters, some through the flood, some through the fire, but all through the blood. Some through great sorrow but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.”

Around 1942, Haldor Lillenas decided to track down George Young’s widow and find out more. He got an address in a small town and, driving there, he stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. When the attendant saw the address, he said, “Why sir, that’s the County Poor House, up the road about three miles. And Mister, when I say poor house, I really mean poor house!”

Not knowing what to expect, Lillenas made his way there. He found Mrs. Young, a tiny, elderly woman, in surroundings that were far from congenial. However, she radiated the joy of the Lord, and spoke of how He’d guided her and her husband over many years. Then, she exclaimed, “Dr. Lillenas, God led me here! I’m so glad He did, for you know, about every month someone comes into this place to spend the rest of their days…So many of them don’t know my Jesus. I’m having the time of my life introducing them to Jesus! Dr. Lillenas, isn’t it wonderful how God leads!”

(Story background pulled from several sources including Robert B. Morgan, “Then Sings My Soul”).

Finally Today:  It’s time for Snow Ice Cream. Here’s the recipe for those interested:

Preparing snow ice cream 2/6/10
A tradition in the Weber home after a big snow storm is snow ice cream.

1 can cold evaporated milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
10 cups clean, cold snow (or to taste)

Mix evaporated milk on high till it whips and is thickened (as shown above).  Add 2 eggs and mix.  Add sugar and vanilla and maple syrup.  Add flavorings if desired, strawberries, chocolate, pineapple, coconut, nuts, etc.  Best when eaten immediately.  Freeze leftover and eat as soon as possible.

Preparing snow ice cream 2/6/10

After mixing the ingredients it’s ready to serve!  (This recipe works best with dry snow.  If it’s a heavy moist snow it melts quickly and compromises the overall quality of the ice cream.)

You could also substitute the evap. milke with sweetened condensed (delete the sugar in recipe). But the first recipe, in my opinion, is the best!

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