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Monday, October 5, 2015

Mount Joy PA porch
The Old Square Inn Bed & Breakfast in Mount Joy, PA

"I Am A Christian"

to this message on your audio player.

"And he (Barnabas) left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:25-26). "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

What a horrific shooting event last week at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon. How many of you have ever heard of this college prior to this? These mass casualty events seem to be increasing. In fact one commentator spoke of how many "time bombs" are out there unbeknownst to those around them. Of course depending on ideology many "solutions" are suggested or even demanded.

Today we want to consider an aspect of the killings that it seems many commentators don't know what to make of or in some cases even ignore, probably because it doesn't fit a politically correct narrative. Reports indicate the demon-possessed gunman was targeting Christians.

Stacy Boylen, whose daughter was wounded in the shootings, details exactly how the gunman targeted Christians: "[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. 'Are you a Christian?' he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian, stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.' And then he shot and killed them."

When I heard this I immediately thought of the Kenyan Garissa University slayings on April 2 of this year and then just read a report of 12 Syrian Christians who were brutally executed recently by ISIS for refusing to renounce the name of Christ (see links below). Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the many atrocities against Christians taking place all over the world.

I Am A Christian hashtag
Frankly I don't know much about Twitter or hashtags but there is a new hashtag that's gone viral that simply states "I Am A Christian". We sure want to join the campaign so today we once again unashamedly proclaim, "I am a Christian!  Many of you will recall an old children's song.

I am a C (pronouncing capital letters)
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N
And I have C-H-R-I-S-T
In my H-E-A-R-T
and I will L-I-V-E  E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y!
(Of course you speed it up each time you sing a round!)

I Am A ChristianI am a Christian. Today attempts have been made to develop another label for those who follow Christ, in part due to how "Christian" can have such a broad meaning. Also there are those who have given the "Christian label" a bad name. The most popular replacement is "Christ follower" but of course that is not necessarily going to solve the tendency of any word or phrase to broaden or for someone to give it a bad name. I think there's good reason for sticking with "Christian" going back to the Bible.

The Bible identifies the time "Christian" was first used to identify Christ's disciples in our daily text,
"The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch". The word Christian is a transliteration of the original Greek word Χριστιανούς (Christianous) (the "ous" at the end designates plural). Strongs concordance asserts that the word was first used by the Gentiles in describing Christ's followers but I don't see how the text necessarily has to be taken this way. It seems to me it could also have been a word in which they self-identified.

Whatever, the name stuck and is used elsewhere in the Bible. It was clearly a word used by non- believers as seen in King Agrippa's response to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). But later Peter used the word to describe his fellow disciples,"but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name" (1 Peter 4:16).  But from the second century onward "Christian" was accepted as a title of honor.

I Am A Christian"I Am A Christian". I am a part of the company of the redeemed first called Christians in Antioch nearly 2,000 years ago. Today this great movement has grown and has representatives all around the world. Scores of other believers have lived out their appointed time on this earth and are now in heaven. One of the remarkable aspects of this daily encouragement ministry is its broad geographical distribution.  The only information required to be on this list is a valid email address but I have had personal responses from every continent and many countries all around the world.

In populous African cities there are those who believe in Christ and this day will bear a witness for the Lord. In remote jungle villages in Papua, New Guinea dedicated missionaries are sharing the message of Christ with primitive, previously unreached, tribes.  In London England a missionary engages in a witness to Muslims. 

Indeed in virtually every part of the world, from huge cities to rural villages, there is a group of people called Christians.  I especially want to remember today my brothers and sisters in Christ who, as the Apostle Peter wrote, "suffer as a Christian" (1 Peter 4:16).  It's so easy for us who live in lands where we have not personally experienced persecution to forget, yet the Bible clearly calls us to remember.  Now it seems it is increasingly coming to our own land (recall the Charleston, South Carolina martyrs).

What a place heaven will be! Several times in the book of Revelation we see the indication of the broad scope of Christ's redemption. I really enjoy being in multi-cultural settings. For one thing it always gives me a sense of what heaven will be like.  Here's a glimpse from the book of revelation, "And they sang a new song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation'" (Revelation 5:9).  Note especially this phrase: "every tribe and language and people and nation".  Today reflect on what a joy it is to be among the redeemed and begin now to worship Him who sits on the throne.  Let us boldly, with a humble heart, declare to our world, "I am a Christian"!

I’ll tell the world, that I’m a Christian,
I’m not ashamed, His name to bear;
I’ll tell the world, that I’m a Christian,
I’ll take Him with me everywhere.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is salvation to all of us who believe upon Jesus as the Son of God. It's natural and inviting to join in with a crowd of believers and declare with exuberance our privilege and joy to be a Christian. But when we stand alone against a defiant crowd or are confronted by those who declare evil against the Christian believer it becomes not only a privilege but a grave responsibility and conviction to honor Christ by proclaiming our allegiance in a hostile setting. We pray for those confronted with that choice this very day. We also pray for families and friends who grieve the loss of their loved ones who took a Christian stand by staying true to their Christian faith though it cost them their earthly lives. May these families, all over the world, be consoled by the Scripture in Revelation 2:11 declaring that those faithful unto death will be given "the crown of life". That is our prayer today that we be found faithful in life and faithful unto death, however that comes to us. In the name of Jesus our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.

Some friends along the way!

Tim and Amy Sandell, Maddy 10/3/15
 Amy, Tim, and Madelyn Sandell joined us Saturday afternoon for a nice early dinner. We enjoyed their fellowship in the living room afterwards. Spirit, the goldendoodle, who photo bombed this photo, was visiting over the weekend as Ester was dogsitting. Thankfully the Sandells have a dog and enjoy being around dogs.

Justin and Ashley Eberly 10/4/15
Ashley and Justin Eberly stopped in to visit and pick up their dog, Spirit, last evening. Justin turned 29 years old today, so we wish him a happy birthday. We met Ashley in the church we served for several years in Mastersonville. She is web designer for Hershey entertainment and developed the current Giant Center website.

Ester's 1st day at Darrenkamps 10/5/15
This morning Stephen drove Ester to her new job at Darrenkamps, a local grocery store. She is so excited, name tag and all. It's a local store here in Mount Joy with Christian values and conveniently located for us to transport her.

Doc and Anna Mary Paglia
I walked with Ester into the store although she wouldn't identify with me! I then saw Doc and Anna Mary Paglia and visited for awhile. They are in their late eighties but still active in ministry, In fact Doc will be preaching at our church in December. They are very people-oriented and, as we checked out, Ester showed up. Doc said, "Is that your daughter?" and then walked over to encourage her!
(Note: The above photo was actually taken last fall but they haven't changed much.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N"  Video  Kids singing!

"I'll Tell The World That I'm A Christian"  Video  Jaclyn Pruehs

Kenyan Garissa University slayings

12 Christians Brutally Executed By ISIS Refused to Renounce Name of Christ

Franklin Graham Says Persecution of Believers Is 'Right Here in America' Amid Reports Oregon Shooter Targeted Christians

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"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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"For God has chosen
the weak things in the world,
the foolish,
the nothings.
That no flesh will glory
in His presence."

"Living securely today  anchored in God's solid foundation"