September 12, 2016
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“For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5). “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
This last weekend I went on a campout in the mountains of central Pennsylvania with a group of men and boys from our church. We had beautiful weather and meaningful fellowship in a very serene setting.
Yesterday we recalled the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11/01 which of course was not at all peaceful, although the morning of 9-11 sure began that way. Most people in the USA recall that day very specifically, just where they were and what they were doing when the news hit. I was with a group of chaplains in York County and noticed planes in a steep descent toward the Harrisburg airport. A little later I walked into a hardware store and saw the horrific images from New York City. I then realized, prior to seeing the news, I was actually seeing planes being grounded and landing at the nearest airport. But of course one of the planes up that day, United Flight 93, did not land but crashed only about 35 miles west of where we completed a bike ride on Saturday through an abandoned section of the Pennsylvania turnpike.
With three thousand people dying that day many hundreds of thousands lost a family member or friend in the mass murder. We didn’t personally know anyone who died but Tim Murray, a friend of ours, was a firefighter in New York in 2001 and lost 3 friends. Each year he wears the shirt that says “343”, the number of firefighters who died in the Twin Tower attacks.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks we visited the crash site where Flight 93 went down. The heroism of those on board that plane is well documented. At the time of our visit it was a makeshift memorial long before the experts and millions of dollars were spent for the present official memorial. Although we haven’t visited the permanent site we found our experience at the temporary memorial very moving.
We prayed at the site just before we left for family members and friends of those who were killed. We prayed for the safety of our country and for authorities confronting the evil that prompted such terrible attacks. Certainly the terrorist attacks and contemporary events dramatically remind us of the world’s troubles and the possibility that they can show up right at our own “back door”.
Consider how we often testify to God’s goodness when things work out a certain way. The following story demonstrates how circumstances, though frustrating and stressful at the time, turned out to be a blessing in disguise: “The Miller family were scheduled to be on Flight 93 but were delayed in traffic, missed their flight and were thus spared from death”. That’s normally the way we like the story to go and when that happens we rejoice and proclaim to others, “God is good.”
But His goodness is not always expressed in ways we clearly see or understand fully since we see through a glass darkly on this side of heaven. Consider the Psalm we share above, “For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5). God is no less good in regard to outcomes we just don’t understand.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
In R.C. Sproul’s book, “The Providence of God”, he writes concerning Romans 8:28: “There’s no other text that demonstrates so clearly and magnificently the beauty of God’s sovereign providence. The text does not say that everything that happens to us, considered in and of itself, is good; rather, it says that all things that take place in our lives are working out with other things for our good. That is the master plan of God’s redemptive providence. He brings good out of evil. He brings glory out of suffering. He brings joy out of affliction. This is one of the most difficult truths of sacred Scripture for us to believe. I’ve said countless times that it is easy to believe in God but far more difficult to believe God. Faith involves living a life of trust in the Word of God.”
Today we encourage our readers to assert with confidence that the Lord is good and to live a life of trust in the Word of God.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have called us out as ambassadors for Christ, and in so doing, we make the proclamation of the gospel known not only with our words, but also with our lives. As we approach each new day we’re given a set of challenges. Some that will last only a day but others that will require endurance for years, even a lifetime. The way we deal with those “things” will bring You glory or may be a stumbling block to faith for those who observe.
We consider the thousands upon thousands of lives turned upside down after the terrorist attack of 9-11 fifteen years ago. Yesterday many read aloud the names of their mom, their dad, a loved one, that of a rescue worker, who were killed in the twin towers disaster at the Pentagon or on Flight 93. Such evil is barbaric, senseless and brings about grief that is unending all these years later. As believers we can still trust Your plan, that You are working out Your purpose in our lives for our eternal good and for Your eternal kingdom. But we pray for those individuals who are inconsolable on this side. May they bring to You their wounded hearts, tell You of their unending anguish, and find consolation in the truth that earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. Amen.
Note: Message is longer than usual but I kept coming across more information!
Most Americans would recognize the name, Todd Beamer. After his directive, “Let’s roll” was sounded to the other courageous passengers on board Flight 93, during the 9/11 terrorist attacks he went down in fame for his part in subduing the hijackers. Many believe his brave actions along with others spared a direct attack on the White House or US Capitol. Many of you are aware that Todd was a devout follower of Christ.
But today let us consider two other passengers, Don and Jean Peterson, from Spring Lake, New Jersey.
The crash site is in a very remote, rural location over a former strip mine. The memorial at that time was but a mere gravel parking area overlooking the actual site of the crash some 200 yards away. Local “ambassadors” volunteered for two hour shifts explaining the direction the plane came from, where it crashed, the initial local response, etc. At the time we visited, the farmer who actually witnessed the plane’s crash was also there to share his account.
The memorial itself was a vertical stand about 8 feet tall and 24 feet long, covered with Fire Company hats, news clippings, and white boards that visitors wrote on. These white boards were removed every few days and stored to be part of a permanent memorial. All around the memorial stand were other smaller memorials from all over the world. At that time people came and went throughout the day with about 20 there at any given time.
The most outstanding piece of information we heard about was something I don’t recall ever reading or hearing prior to our visit at the memorial site. The crash itself was of course horrific, with the plane hitting the surface at nearly 600 miles per hour and plunging deep into the ground (it’s thought the depth was in part due to the ground not being compacted because of the strip mining activity). The plane was so utterly destroyed that only a smoldering crater was found.
The first responders, who arrived shortly after the crash, found only two identifiable objects; a burning tire and an open Bible near the site. The Bible was completely intact, with the cover barely singed. It was open to a portion from 1 Kings 12 that deals with the division of the Kingdom.
Here’s something interesting I read titled “WHY THE PASSENGERS HAD TIME TO ACT”. Flight 93 was 41 minutes late leaving Newark Airport for its planned flight to San Francisco. This delay allowed time for the passengers on Flight 93 to learn of the other three hijackings via their cell phones, and realize their planned fate; being a passenger on a jumbo jet that would be flown into the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, or perhaps even the White House.
As the Boeing 757 neared Cleveland, Ohio at 9:28am, it abruptly changed course and turned southeast. Just before 10:00am the plane was seen flying very low and erratically in the Pittsburgh area. While traveling at an estimated 500 mph, the 757 crashed at 10:03am into a reclaimed strip mine area in Somerset County, killing all 33 passengers, 7 crew and 4 hijackers.
We began this message by asking if any of you had ever heard of Don and Jean Peterson. Probably not. Research indicates that Don was the owner of the Bible. On Sept. 11 they had planned to take a later flight (Flight 91) to go to a family reunion at Yosemite National Park, but at the airport that morning they switched to the earlier less-crowded Flight 93.
Their Pastor, Jim Loveland, said, “I wasn’t on that plane, but I believe I know what happened. At the end, I’m sure they were praying and ministering with the others, encouraging them to be right with the Lord,” Loveland said. “That’s what their lives were about.” Their memorial service drew nearly 1,000 people they’d worked with, helped or counseled and had to be moved to a larger sanctuary nearby.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened on October 1, 1940 and was the first long-distance limited-access highway in the United States, leading to the construction of other limited-access toll roads and the Interstate Highway System. It had tunnels that went through the mountains but the four lane road became two lane at the tunnels which caused traffic jams and serious accidents that would close down the road. In the sixties engineers twin-tubed several of the tunnels and rerouted the turnpike around others. This abandoned section included two tunnels we rode through.
Entering the abandoned tunnel
Last year we stopped in the middle of the tunnel for a brief church service, and I used an illustration on light (see here). I was heartened that this year little David remembered and asked if we were going to have another service in the tunnel!
Google map of abandoned turnpike area we rode on Saturday. You should be able to scroll through the route going east to see where the tunnels are. The longest tunnel is the farthest east with the present routing of the Turnpike above. At 6,782 feet the Sideling Hill tunnel had been the longest in the turnpike system.
We met another church group along the abandoned turnpike route who are from the Harrisburg area, They make regular bike trips and seek to minister along the way, calling themselves the “River Riders” named for their church which is “River Of God”
The Heisey Guest House
Nelson Heisey owns the camp where we gather and made this spacious deer stand for his older brother who has Parkinson’s Disease and has trouble getting around. He wanted him to still be able to hunt. The stand is out in the woods and is large enough for a single cot so he dubbed the structure “The Guest House” and that’s where I stayed Saturday night to check it out. Plexiglass windows on all four sides open up for hunting and ventilation so it was a very pleasant sleeping experience in a natural setting with only God’s little creatures making noises through the night. In the morning a brilliant sun arose and peered into the windows. The stand was completed on Saturday afternoon and Nelson’s son, Andy, made a brief video showing the process of lifting it. “Lifting the Guest House”
“More And More Of You” Video Selah This is a pretty new song with some heart probing lyrics. I, Brooksyne, awakened to the alarm and immediately turned on the radio. The following words in the song, “Oh forgive us of seeking Your hand and not Your face” prompted my thinking all day on Saturday. I hope it will stir your heart as it did mine.
“I Know” Video The Lebeaus This is a very moving and thought-provoking song. My long-time friend Mike from North Carolina shared it with me.
For further study on Romans 8:28 we recommend the Precept Austin online study notes.
Here’s an excellent unofficial website about the Flight 93 crash with many photos from the makeshift memorial we saw.
Here’s the official National Park Service website
Here is a newspaper article about Donald A. Peterson and Jean Hoadley Peterson
“Amazing Grace” Video Andy Heisey on bagpipes at our camp breakfast
Sunday Worship: As Stephen had Sunday worship under the open canopy of the sky, powered by the sun, we enjoyed the typical enclosed church service, powered by electricity. Guest speaker and longtime friend of ours, D.J. Paglia, preached in Pastor John’s place since he and many of the men and boys were at the retreat. DJ and his wife, Anna Mae, now in their late eighties celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary yesterday. At the close of the service he invited people to come forward for prayer and the majority of families proceeded to the front. Before we departed DJ wanted to sing “Jesus Loves Me” since the children would know it by heart. Little Caleb was singing it with all his might so DJ invited him up on the platform to be his assistant. Caleb seemed to enjoy the spotlight and continued to sing but also needed a little reassurance from his Grandpa Stan as he did so.
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