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Monday, November 16, 2009

Pond on Orchard Road, Lancaster Country PA
Orchard Road Pond

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"Standing In Faithfulness"

"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none"  (Ezekiel 22:30).

Pilgrim Brooksyne

For many years Brooksyne has given an historically accurate presentation about the Pilgrims voyage on the Mayflower along with their deep Christian convictions.  She has done this in churches, Christian schools, and also in public schools when we lived in Massachusetts in the nineties.  You can imagine the vast sea of ignorance she faced in a heavily secularized Massachusetts public school only 25 miles from where the Pilgrims landed!

When she told the truth to some 200 students God providentially had some of them ask just the right questions throughout the presentation.  With the Bible in her hands, for that was the one treasured possession that pilgrim families would not leave in Holland, she was able to speak repeatedly of their faith and how they treasured the Word of God.  She weaved in how its text would strengthen and guide them throughout the hardships, heartaches, and losses they would endure over the next several years.

We thanked God for the unusual opportunity that came her way to present the Biblical truth of the Pilgrim's expedition.  In a sense she was standing in the gap that is widened by secularist teaching seeking to revise or even eliminate solid historical truths associated with the Judeo Christian foundations in our country.

God is always looking for people to take up the cause of righteousness.   The Biblical prophet Ezekiel lived for God at the time of the fall of Jerusalem and the first period of the exile in Babylon about 2,600 years ago.  The daily text is a word of the Lord to Ezekiel:  "I looked for a man."  Previous verses reveal the horrendous state of Jerusalem during its final days; they were desecrating the Sabbath, shedding innocent life, sexually immoral, unjust, corrupt in leadership, and worshiping idols to name just a few of the serious offenses.

Fast forward to our generation and consider how much our society parallels Jerusalem just before its fall.  I believe God is still searching for men and women who will hear and heed His call.  We see two requests here regarding the man God is looking for.  He is to "build up the wall" and "stand before me in the gap."   Although they did have literal fortified walls and gaps the image is surely spiritual.  The walls were a means of protection and the gaps had to be closely guarded as entrance points.  God looked for a man who would stand against the tide of spiritual apostasy, political corruption and social oppression so prevalent in the land.

God is calling each of us to "build up the wall."  The city wall was an essential aspect of protection in ancient times.  We find it mentioned throughout the Old Testament.  However, I believe Ezekiel is speaking figuratively here.  One commentary observes "no one could be found to repair the moral damage done to the nation."  Are you standing bold and unwavering today?  Are you rebuilding and repairing the broken walls around you?  Are you exposing the shameful deeds of darkness?  

"Stand before me in the gap." The second major element in the man that God is searching for is one who stands in the gap.  The gap is a breach or break in the wall. Ezekiel records that God is unable to find even one individual who, taking his life in his hands, will shout at the top of his lungs: "In God's name and for His honor, stop!"  The image is that of intercession, a godly man standing before God and the people.  Moses filled such a role when he pleaded to God on behalf of the people.   John the Baptist boldly confronted King Herod about his immoral behavior, though it cost him his life. Yet his testimony emboldens all who read the story over two thousand years later. Today such godly persons are needed.  Thank God for those who speak out for God, but many more remain silent out of a spirit of fear or compromise.  Will you speak out today?

"But I found none."  Surely this is one of the saddest verses in the entire Bible!  "None" should certainly not be taken as absolute.  After all, Ezekiel himself was staying faithful to God, along with aged Jeremiah, young Daniel and others such as Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Daniel 1:7).  But among the political leadership none was found who would meet these qualifications.  And the land was indeed judged and the people taken into exile in Babylon.

Two lessons today:

1) Let us all determine that we will meet this call in our age.  I want to be a man who will build up the wall and stand before God in the gap. I want to build up the wall by holding to God's truth and His standards of righteousness.  I want to stand in the gap regarding the moral downslide that is far too prevalent.

2) Let us remember to pray for the godly remnant in leadership in each of our lands.  They need our prayers to stand faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Lord, I am an ordinary person who has submitted my heart to You.  But it is in the ordinary people that the infusion of Your resurrection power makes us extraordinary.  Your Holy Spirit gives me boldness that does not come naturally to my personality.   Thank You for giving me the strength to stand against the basic principles of this world when they conflict with Your principles.  Lord, help me to be a watchman for my family, my co-workers and my friends as I intercede for their salvation or continued fruitfulness.  I thank You that I do not stand in the gap alone but You, my Father, are with me and I stand in Your strength!  Amen.

Eastland Alpacas

We had a beautiful day yesterday after several days of dreary type weather as a result of the remnants of Hurricane Ida.  Following our church service we stopped by for an open house at the Eastland Alpaca Farm in Lancaster Country, PA.

Eastland Alpaca farm, Lancaster County PA
Alpacas are beautiful animals related to the Camel and Llama.

Eastland Alpaca farm, Lancaster County PA
Eastland Alpaca started 7 years ago with 2 Alpacas and they now have 110 on the property!

Eastland Alpaca farm, Lancaster County PA
This baby Alpaca, known as a Cria, was born just 11 days ago.

Eastland Alpaca farm, Lancaster County PA
They had an open field where visitors could walk the Alpacas.
They actually walked along pretty well, a lot better than trying to walk a cat!

Eastland Alpaca farm, Lancaster County PA
A closeup view of their face resembles a poodle in Stephen's view!
It looks like a woman with an extreme bouffant hairdo in Brooksyne's view!

Eastland Alpacas is located on Risser Mill Road north of Mount Joy, PA.

Oren and Naomi Hostetter
Oren and Naomi Hostetter
Every church we've ever served or attended has folks like these,
often unheralded but faithfully and joyfully serving wherever needed.
Can you consider some folks like this in your church?

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Call On Jesus"  Video  This song speaks of the ordinary people that God is using all over the world to advance His purpose. "I'm so very ordinary, nothing special on my own. I have never walked on water, and I have never calmed a storm." God continues to call and use ordinary people like you and me!

"Rise Up O Men Of God"  Video This version is by the Hong Kong Singing Churchmen. This song was written by William P. Merrill in the early part of the last century for the brotherhood movement, a men's movement similar to the Promisekeepers movement of our time. Some hymnals have changed "Men" to "Saints" or "Church".  Merrill's notion was not to discriminate against women but to specifically challenge men to serve the Lord wholeheartedly!

Rise up O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings.

Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these ideas to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.
(We'll be posting these resources through Thanksgiving.)

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns" - A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thankgiving Table (printable webpage) The Thanksgiving celebration includes family coming together along with the turkey and trimmings. Often there's a lot of food with little meaningful conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" or the questionnaire we've provided in the link below.  A Thanksgiving family exercise - We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.  (pdf) Perhaps you could just use it as a discussion guide to provide stimulus for other's reflections.

A Thankgiving prayer: (written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago.)  Webpage  For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Day of Rest in Plimouth Colony: This is a summary of a chapter in the lives of the pilgrims that Brooksyne uses to teach about their Sunday worship.  (pdf)

Resources used in Brooksyne's research on the Pilgrims:
Saints & Strangers  By Vision Video
Three Young Pilgrims  By Cheryl Harness / Simon & Schuster

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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