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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Amish buggy with trailer 1/12/10
Yesterday as we entered Intercourse, Pennsylvania we came up behind this interesting traffic; an Amish horse and buggy pulling a small trailer with two small black calves.

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"The Power Of Example"

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).

Last night I came home after our chaplaincy visits and sat at the desk to do some work.  Our dog, Roxie, began to nudge me and even began to bark (which is a rarity).  I couldn't figure out what was going on but looked out the window and realized that she had been watching a raging fire up the road from our house.  About that time I heard sirens and then Jerry and Sharon, our neighbors, stopped by to tell us that our neighbor's barn was on fire.  It was a sad sight to see.

Barn fire 1/12/10
We could see the large barn fire from our front porch. Fire departments came from all over (according to the newspaper 15 fire companies from 3 different counties.)  We could also smell the fire in our home.

With ashes still smoldering early this morning, friends and neighbors pulled together to begin the unpleasant task of cleaning up what the fire destroyed.  A number of cars were parked in the pasture across the street as the volunteers were hard at work during the clean-up. These men put their own work aside so they could labor on behalf of the farmer. It is a fine example of what people can do to help bear another's burden.  This farmer happens to be a committed believer and we share an interesting story about his family in a footnote below.

Paul writes to Timothy about being a good example.  His advice to Timothy is sound for those who serve Christ at any age.  It's sound regardless of whether our service is carried out in a pastoral role, another vocational ministry, or as a layman.

The first part of the verse has puzzled some.  What does Paul mean by "young"?  Paul first met Timothy at the beginning of his second missionary journey as recorded in Acts 16:1.  Timothy was already a disciple and joined Paul and Silas on this trip.  We would thus presume that he was a young adult at this time, which was about 50 AD.  1 Timothy was written in about 63 AD, so Timothy was likely at least in his early 30's, if not older.

The apostle Paul knew the importance of example. Paul had earlier written to the Corinthians: "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Surely Timothy had seen Paul's example again and again in his many years of working alongside him.  And now he was to pass that example on. Several years ago I read this statement: "Some of the greatest truths in life are caught and not taught."  I believe this is seen in our opening illustration. 

Barn fire cleanup 1/13/10
Many of the men involved in the clean-up of the burned out barn are younger men. It's likely that some of them prayed with their families for our neighbors who suffered a tremendous financial loss when their large barn caught fire.  Perhaps they heard Dad making phone calls to rally others together and then saw him leave the house this morning to help clean up the burned debris. When he comes home they'll smell the smoke from his workclothes and see the soot on his person.  Maybe their mother contributed toward the large meal needed to feed the volunteers.  The parents don't have to lecture about what it takes to be a good neighbor since they modeled it.  What are our family members, co-workers, or other associations "catching" from our actions today?

A powerful and essential form of discipleship is merely following the godly example of a more mature believer. In the daily text Paul, passing on the spiritual torch to the next generation wrote, "Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."  For each of these we want to share a descriptive phrase and Scripture verse.

1) Wholesome Speech:  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29).

2) Purpose-filled Life: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope.." (Titus 2:11-14).

3) Demonstrable Love: Jesus taught, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

4) Overcoming Faith: "This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4).

5) God-honoring Purity:  "But each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:5). The moral cesspool is getting worse and worse and the call to moral purity is needed more and more.

I hope you consider the power of your example for either good or bad to those you are called to impact!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, it is only in following You that we can be a godly example of wholesome conversation, purpose-filled living, demonstrable love, overcoming faith and God-honoring purity. You know our failings are many and we so often fall short of being the perfect example we would like to be for those we love the most.  So we make it our continued goal to point them to the only Perfect Example, Jesus Christ, God made manifest in the flesh, so that they have a vibrant, living relationship with Him.  In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

A Story about our neighbor, Lester:  Our friend, Terry, moved to our neighborhood about 11 years ago from Philadelphia to renovate an old farmhouse as a Bed and Breakfast, a huge undertaking.  He lives just around the bend from a large dairy farm.  The farm is operated by Lester who has a family of ten children, with eight of them serving as missionaries!  The entire family had gathered on the farm for Lester's daughter's wedding reception one summer evening.  As the sun set over the cornfields Terry heard beautiful harmonic acapella singing in the distance.  The tall corn stalks blocked his view of the singers but their voices penetrated through the vegetable crops.  Les and his wife, their ten children, along with their spouses and children were singing the great old hymn, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".   Terry quickly called to his wife, "Barb, come out here!" As she did so they were both greatly inspired.  Terry said, "While we were listening to 'What A Friend We Have in Jesus' we knew that we had made the right move and  were right where God wanted us to be!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Make Me A Servant"  Video

"I Offer My Life To You"  Video

To some degree I try to keep up with the follies of the modern church, although I don't want it to be what drives me. A current fad among some is using foul language to "connect".  They feel it makes them "authentic" and "relevant" (driving motives in the emergent church).  Amazingly I have read reports of pastors cussing. Here is an article by John MacArthur.

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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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