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Friday, March 14, 2008

Sin of the world
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"Being Transformed"

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).

Joe GausmanJoe came into the church we served in northern Pennsylvania in personal and family conflict. He told me later he walked in as a bitter man. Among other things he and his wife were in disagreement concerning church attendance. But somehow she persuaded him to come that Palm Sunday morning about twenty-five years ago. A big, burly man he didn't seem happy to be there at all and as I stretched out my hand to greet him I wondered if he was going to snap at me!  My welcoming smile was met by his very stern expression.  If his looks could have spoken they would have said: “It’s not my choice to be here today so don't expect me to be friendly.”

Three weeks later Joe responded to an altar call. He gave his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ who then began the transformation process that continues to this day.  His three children who were just little tikes when I first met them are now grown and married.  Joe and Jane are blessed with six grandchildren. He joyfully testifies to the change in his life and for many years was active in ministry to boys until he began to experience health problems.

One of the most poignant memories I have of Joe was a footwashing service several years after he came into faith. I was preaching from John 13 concerning Christ's example and asked him if I could publicly wash his feet as a dynamic sermon illustration. He agreed and it is one of my greatest ministry memories. I am sure there are some who were in the church at that time who still remember that message!

Joe took
seriously the call to discipleship in Romans 12:2: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).

This prompts a challenge to my fellow believers to steadfastness as we all undergo the transformation process that begins when we accept Christ.  I recall some really rough spots early on with Joe, but he persevered.  Elsewhere the apostle Paul tells us that we "are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

You may be impatient with the pace of transformation in your life or that of a loved one. You may really be hitting some rough spots in life's journey. Stay faithful, dear friend. Don't give up, but keep pressing on. For Joe, and for all of us who have accepted Christ, we have this confidence: "that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, we are confident in the transforming work You carried out when You forgave us our sins.  You turned our lives around so that we no longer live for ourselves, but for the One who created us.  We thank You for our salvation that began the moment we surrendered our will and continues all the days of our earthly life.  We anticipate the glorious day that our salvation will be brought to completion on the day of Christ’s return.  Until that transforming day keep us faithful and trusting as our spiritual life is rooted and established in Your divine wisdom.  We want to be obedient to Your commands, as revealed in Your Holy Word, and apply them to our lives.  In the name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray, Amen.

Note from Brooksyne: Soon after Joe got saved a devastating fire swept through their mobile home destroying everything they owned. Jane and the youngest child missed being in the midst of this fire, only by minutes.  This would certainly be a time of testing for Joe, to see if he would grow in his faith or return to his bitter state. Our church, along with the community, reached out to them attempting to replenish their worldy goods and to show them the love of Christ. Though it was a tremendous hardship it was through this difficult time that we saw Joe's confidence in the Lord grow. It opened a door for them to purchase a home and have a spot of land to raise their children on, where he and Jane still live.

God's faithfulness is revealed in so many ways, but particularly in the devastating experiences of our lives.  It's His way of saying, “Fear not; for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties; yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness and justice” (Isaiah 41:10 Amplified Bible).

Bear hug between two friends

This photo was taken several years ago at a wedding reception in northern Pennsylvania.  Two long-time friends are greeting one another with a bear hug. That's Mike with his face toward the camera and Joe.  Joe's wife, Jane, is looking on with a big smile!

Marriage footwashing
One of the most memorable weddings I ever had the priviledge of conducting included a footwashing service in the ceremony. Mike and Joanna just celebrated their third wedding anniversary two days ago and had their first baby last month.  They are a part of our small group Bible Study.  

For ministers and those considering a wedding service here is an outine for their ceremony: A Wedding Service – This service has elements from several different sources. Many ministers appreciate using a service book for these formal services and the basic outline is taken from a traditional service. It has several elements added and especially a clear introduction concerning God's ordaining and definition of marriage and family. This particular service also has a footwashing requested by the couple, which turned out to be quite meaningful.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"When I Survey The Wondrous Cross"  Audio  

"He Who Began A Good Work"  Audio

"Redeemer, Savior, Friend"  Audio

I took today
's photo at Rainbows End, our local Christian Youth Center here in Mount Joy, PA. It is painted on the entire block wall of the gymn.  Rainbows End seeks to reach out to the youth in our community, many who do not have a Christian background. This Saturday evening we will attend a large banquet that is a staple of fundraising in Lancaster County.  In fact we will be attending one for another ministry in two weeks!

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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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