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Friday, October 6, 2006

Today's podcast reading of this message features the background song
"Your Love, O Lord"

"Overcoming Evil With Good"

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

Yesterday funerals were held for several of the girls from Nickel Mines School who were slain this last Monday.  The Amish community is demonstrating remarkable grace in this difficult hour. Can you believe we're hearing   sermon material from the secular news media just about every time we hear or read about the events that have unfolded here over the past week.  Romans 8:28 is certainly apparent in this news story:  "For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose."

We are getting opportunities to minister to both Amish and non-Amish impacted in the course of our service for Christ.  Yesterday I spent some time with a friend who is sorting it all out.  The sight of his two young children when I walked into their house brought to mind the events over the past week and I had to force back the tears. Brooksyne and I have commented about how much these children seem like grandchildren to us, as we're very close to this family. 

Evil in its rawest, vilest form visited our county this week.  It's so easy and natural for evil to result in more evil. I believe based on the context that's the sense of the phrase, "Do not be overcome by evil" in the daily text. The natural inclination is retribution, getting back, settling the score, resulting in a spiral of evil.  After all, one reaps what one sows.

I am intrigued in a new way regarding the commandment, "but overcome evil with good."  I still have a long way to go for this command to be a voluntary response to any evil perpetrated against me.

Readers Digest printed a story many years ago about a couple whose son was killed by a drunk driver.  Although initially angry (who wouldn't be), they eventually forgave this man, led him to faith in Christ and visited him regularly in jail.  He was eventually released and this couple began to have a relationship with him much like that of parents to a son. Just recalling the facts of this story makes my natural man chafe. I frankly can't imagine being able to do that, apart from a special impartation of God's grace of forgiveness.

Although a similar action was not possible in Monday's incident since the killer took his own life, the Amish, who were so horrendously victimized, reached out to the killer's wife.  Based upon what I have observed in their character and belief system I am convinced they would have done the same for the killer himself should he have lived.

An incredible perspective is found in this phrase describing the Amish way; "The hurt is very great, but they don't balance the hurt with hate."  So much that is wrong in our world, perhaps a core problem, is seeking to balance hurt with hate. Two wrongs certainly do not make a right.  One of our highest callings in life is to overcome evil with good on a daily basis.  By God's grace let us do so.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Today's Prayer:  Father, a living sermon was preached here in Lancaster County this past week, but was far more reaching as people heard and witnessed it all over the world, even those who refuse to open a Bible.  We saw the evil and chaos that resulted when one individual chose not to erase disappointments from the past but instead befriended bitterness allowing it to spring up in his life for decades.  It became a toxic poison that spread out to innocent bystanders.

But, thankfully, this evil act is overcome in that we also see the contrasting response of those victimized choosing not to retaliate but instead to forgive.  Though their pain will last a lifetime here on earth, in comparison to our future eternal home, it is only a momentary heartache.  May this living sermon forever be sealed in our memory; not just a memory about evil, but a reminder of how we can overcome evil when it is directed to us personally.  By Your grace and our yielded will, we can overcome the evil one!  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  I awakened very early this morning and turned on a local radio station.  On the A.P. news the story of the slain Amish girls' funeral proceedings took prominence.   But more importantly the reporter gave the following account paraphrased by me as I'm recalling it hours later; "The families of the slain victims invited Marie Roberts, wife of the gunman, to attend the private funerals.  Though she declined their invitation she sent a close friend to represent her at the funerals."  (I can understand why she would choose not to attend, due to the overwhelming grief and sadness she must feel and the awkwardness of the situation.)

It has been my prayer all week that journalists who've besieged the Amish Community would not go away with just an interesting story about a religious culture in the face of evil, but that they take back with them a personal encounter with a living God. We pray that many who read or hear about his story will as well.

Today's selection of Scripture verse is in part a result of memorizing it as a children's song that Brooksyne sang often in children's ministry. I managed to get her to sing it for us since I couldn't find an online version. We are sure there are many children (now grown up) who will recall this song!  (mp3)

An excellent perspective I found on this matter is a short audio devotional from South Africa on "Overcoming Evil With Good." (mp3)

Today's podcast uses an intrumental version of "Your Love, O Lord" as a background.  Here's a vocal version.

Here is a newspaper article from our local paper that will touch your heart.

Readers from all over the world have sent us their condolences to share with those affected.  We will compile these and make enough copies so each family can have one. They'll be hand delivered by our Amish friends directly to one of the teachers who was there that morning and she will share them with the others. Many of you have also written such thoughtful prayers. If you would like to share a message send the email note to this address.  (We will compile these early next week.)

Requested Information

1) A trust fund has been set up for the Amish families (and at the specific request of the Amish include the murderer's widow and his children.)
       Nickel Mine School Victims Fund

       c/o Hometown Heritage Bank

       P.O.  Box 337

       Strasburg, PA 17579

2) Several directed remarks or prayers in their emails to Marie Roberts, the widow of the murderer. I do not have the address of the widow but will see that any messages to her are delivered by contacting her pastor.

3) Barn Sing-along - everyone welcome! Daily Encouragement Net readers are invited to a Praise and Worship service  on Saturday, October 14, at 6 PM at our Amish neighbor's barn. Before the worship service, from 4:30-5:45, another neighbor will be hauling children and adults on a hayride with his tractor and wagon. Refreshments will follow the Worship Service. If you would like to come the directions to our home are here. The farm is located at 690 Kraybill Church Road around the corner from Kraybill Mennonite School and just up the road from our house. The hay ride prior to the service will be with a large John Deere tractor and wagon. It would be great to have it horse powered, but we're grateful for the John Deere as well!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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