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Frogpin cluster flower arrangement
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Friday, August 11, 2006
"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us" (Mark 9:38-40).
In the course of our work we often stop by interesting places. The other day we stopped in Intercourse* and browsed through one of Brooksyne's favorite areas, Kitchen Kettle Village, which has a variety of tourist type shops. She was excited about an unusual flower arrangement she had seen at a pottery shop and wanted to show me. It was an interesting display of a single flower on a long stem standing alone in a very shallow pottery bowl. It gave the appearance of a flower standing straight and tall with no support. Upon closer observation we saw a round metal pin with very close prongs that secured the flower stem. We inquired about the round pin and learned that it is called a "frog pin."
Knowing Brooksyne was more interested in the pin than the pottery, I asked the owner if she sold the round pin. She said that she did not. I took another step and asked where we could get the pin, wondering what kind of response I would get, since the question indicated that we weren't going to buy the pottery. She was extremely helpful; telling me what I needed to buy, where to get it and even how to do it! She seemed genuinely delighted to share this information with us!
I like that attitude in life, particularly in regard to ministry. I don't always see it though. Some churches, denominations and ministries are petty and exclusive. I once worked for a company that saw their "ministry" model as proprietary and any other similar expression posed a threat. But great churches and ministries are enabling of others, interested in seeing the Kingdom of God expanded, not restricted.
Today's verse has long intrigued me and I don't recall ever teaching or writing about it. The disciples had seen a man driving out demons in Christ's Name and told him to stop, apparently thinking they, alone, were doing the Lord's work. The problem, they expressed, was that "he was not one of us." That is; he was not one of the Twelve. They must have had a sense of proprietary use of His Name.
I've long wondered where this man driving out demons was from. We do know from other Scriptures that Christ had sent out the seventy and there were 120 that came together in the Upper Room. So there were others who spread the Gospel and performed miracles when Christ dwelt on this earth and ministered primarily with the twelve disciples. Where this man fit in is not specified, but apparently John and the other disciples saw his ministry as a threat. They reported this to the Lord and I think they had expected the Lord to say something to the effect, "Good job, boys."
But instead Christ essentially rebukes the disciples, "Do not stop him," and sets forth a great spiritual principle, "whoever is not against us is for us." Now, honestly, I am still working through what this means but it certainly is a strong rebuke against any proprietary or exclusive sense of ministry.
I want to bless others that serve Christ today. There are many ways we serve and some have ministries similar to mine. I want to bless and assist them if possible. I want them to reach many for Christ that I will never reach.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Brooksyne's prayer: Jesus, I want to thank You for the scores of people and ministries that have made a tremendous spiritual impact on my life. I also thank You for numerous accurate translations of the Bible that have made passages clearer to my understanding. Each of these, using various styles and coming from various backgrounds, have influenced me to dig deeper in my understanding of who You are and in my devotion to You. As Your followers, move us beyond pettiness, jealousy, and possessiveness to appreciate and affirm those who might have a different way of presenting the Gospel. Help us to support and pray for one another as we carry forth the light of God's Word to those who have not heard. Amen.
PS In a very practical sense the pottery shop owner's attitude was a good business decision as well. The good-will engendered by the owner has prompted us to purchase a piece of pottery on our next visit.
*Intercourse is a town located in the heart of Amish Country here in Lancaster County PA. There are many Amish who live there and thus a lot of tourism surrounds that area. It sure took us a while to get used to that name and to feel comfortable repeating it. There is a saying; "You know you're talking to a long-term resident of Lancaster County when he or she can refer to the town of Intercourse without blushing or looking the other way."
Kitchen Kettle Village
Additional note: Yesterday I wrote Vanuatu and an Australian reader sent an interesting note which I will condense: "I am amazed that you have never heard of Vanuatu. Our daughter and son-in-law and family are ministering there with YWAM, and have just adopted a baby girl over there. The Spanish explorer Pedro Ferdindandez de Quiros, discovered the land 600 years ago and thought he had discovered what became Australia. He was a Christian and claimed, what he called the Great Southland, for the Holy Spirit. This area of great south land includes Australia, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Fiji, etc. Earlier this year there was a great Prayer Gathering on the Vanuatu island of Santo where thousands of people from all over the Great South Land gathered to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the landing of de Quiros on the beach of that island. The Prime Minister of the nation is a committed Christian as are most of the governing personnel. Vanuatu was evangelized by the Presbyterian church, but there was little teaching done, so there are a large number of "baby" Christians there who are hungry for more of God. It is an extremely popular tourist destination, one of the TV "Survivor" series was shot there. To read the declaration that was spoken by de Quiros, and if you are interested you can log on to our daughter's and son-in-law's website. That will give you beautiful pictures of the various islands!"
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