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Monday, November 6, 2006

Photo of fall porch arrangement
Porch arrangement in Lancaster County, PA

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"Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

This weekend we took our Amish neighbors to a mission service sponsored by Christian Aid Ministries at a large warehouse near Ephrata, PA.  It is a distribution center for food and clothing donated to mission causes around the world. They had cleared out the warehouse and set up folding chairs to seat 3,500 people and still there were people who could not get a seat!

Those attending the event were "Plain", a term denoting their lifestyle and attire.  The women and older teens all wore cape dresses and head coverings. Each young girl had long beautiful braided hair.  It seemed that Ester and Brooksyne were the only ones present without the distinctive dress!  We'd never been in a gathering where there was such a variety of Mennonite and Amish orders.  It was a very interesting evening.  Many would view these folks as "old-fashioned" but what an earnest faith they have and the extent of the mission work in the organization is outstanding.

To many "old-fashioned" is a dreaded term.  We want to be contemporary, trendy, and cool.  To be described as "old-fashioned" would be the ultimate put-down to those who strive to be contemporary!

But I believe there are many ways in which being old-fashioned is very desirable.  I am unapologetically old-fashioned when it comes to a commitment to holding firmly to the teachings of the Bible, the apostle's doctrine.  Many now mock the teachings of Scripture that have been held dear by earnest believers for nearly 2,000 years.  The Genesis creation account, Biblical miracles, the virgin birth, the atoning death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ are scorned by modernists as being hopelessly old-fashioned in our enlightened age.  In my own lifetime I may very well see a time when those of us who hold to the Biblical teaching concerning marriage may be viewed by dominant culture as old-fashioned and unenlightened.

Call me "old-fashioned", that's OK with me.  I take seriously the call of Jude in the daily text to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."  The word translated "contend" means to "struggle for" and thank God for ministers and lay people alike who are struggling to uphold these truths.

"Once for all" is also very significant.  The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittel) states that this "refers to the definitive nature of Christian teaching ("the faith") by which we know all that is needed for salvation and which we are thus to hold fast."  This has been handed down or entrusted to us.

By God's grace let us indeed hold fast to the truths of the Bible today, even if we are called "old-fashioned"!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Daily Prayer:  Lord, as I consider the long-range history of humankind since the beginning of creation one recurring theme is evident throughout the generations.  Change is inevitable and generally an indicator of discovery and development resulting from people's intellect, giftings, skills and Your blessings.  Other changes evidenced over the centuries are changes in fashions, attitudes, governments and in many other ways.  In a world of uncertainty and change I'm so thankful that I can be certain of Your Word and its relevance in my life.  It does not change based upon the climate of our society or require reinterpretation or revising.  Our days on earth are like grass; we bloom and die.  The wind blows, and we are gone, as though we had never been here.  In a changing world You are my unchanging God and Your love endures forever. You are indeed the same yesterday, today, and forever! AMEN

Brooksyne's Note: Attending the Christian Aid Ministries missionary service on Friday evening left a lasting impression on my heart. Two hours of colorful slides were presented of missionaries reaching out to the destitute and impoverished people of other countries in addition to those affected by disasters in the U.S.  To see the conditions of how so many people live in third world brought  tears to my eyes several times.  The care packages delivered to these needy people were received with such sincere appreciation.  On our trip home we talked about how we enjoy a meal at home everyday that is better than what these poor people get only when their care packages are delivered.  We were deeply touched by the care and love extended by missionaries to those who need medical attention, housing, and food. But we even more impressed that the gospel message of salvation was not watered down so that the efforts of the missionaries was simply a social gospel. The salvation message was presented to all who would hear. What a blessing!

As I prepared today's message a song came to mind. Perhaps not surprisingly it's, "Give me that old-time religion." Here's a rather interesting version that will likely make you smile from what appears to be an Italian website. mp3 audio (For some reason it has a long, rather unconventional intro.)

We often refer to our Amish friends and the "Plain people" we have association with here in Lancaster County. Here's a website for those who may want to learn more about them.

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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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