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Monday, April 12, 2010

Redbuds along the Blue Ridge Parkway 4/9/10
Redbuds along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Last Friday as we returned from our trip to North Carolina we were on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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"Living In The Light"

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Friends for dinner 4/11/10
Yesterday afternoon we shared a meal and had a warm time of fellowship with three other ministry couples in our home. Among the four couples we had a combination of 170 years of marriage and a similar amount of years spent in ministry. We are all remaining faithful in our service for Christ in a variety of ways. After we finished dessert each of us shared defining moments in our life; that is, specific experiences where God made His will known to us and our responses. It became a defining moment in shaping our character and in some cases affirming our calling to ministry. Often these defining moments came at difficult times.

I believe our readers have an earnest desire to follow Christ like the group of friends who sat around our table yesterday.  We want to build our lives upon the Rock and to live in the light and understanding of God's Holy Word. In our conversation yesterday we discussed the challenge of living out our faith in a dark world. There is no story that touches my heart more deeply than to hear of one's conversion to faith. It's very exciting to hear of a recent conversion, but I am just as moved when I hear of one's salvation experience that took place 30, 40 or 50 years earlier. It reminds me not only of God's saving power, but His keeping power through the sanctifying process of the Holy Spirit over the life of an individual.

In the spiritual realm the Bible clearly instructs us to leave the life of darkness and to walk or live in the light. The apostle Paul calls believers, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." This verse is often used in the context of dating and marriage and certainly applies to those kinds of relationships, but in this context Paul does not limit it to a physical relationship. As we compare this verse to others in the Scripture he seems to be speaking of the friendships and partnerships we build in our lives. Paul is not speaking of mere contact with those not of the faith, for that's an essential part of our reaching the lost in this world. Earlier in 1 Corinthians he acknowledges that inevitably we will have contact with people who live in darkness, otherwise "you would have to leave this world" (5:10).

Oxen with yokeBrooksyne spent a week every summer with her grandparents in the hills of Arkansas during planting season. Her grandfather didn't own modern equipment but farmed his land using two mules. He hooked them together with a yoke before hitching them up to a plow. The yoke prevented the mules from going two directions and united them as though they were one, keeping the same pace and drawing strength from one another. Essentially, it became the strength of two mules joined together for one singular purpose. This analogy helps me to remember why Paul cautions believers to be wise in their relationships because light and darkness cannot be as one – their purposes for existence are completely opposite. Attempting to blend two contrasts and make them one would bring about complete chaos, confusion, and weakness.

Paul follows this command "Do not be yoked" with a series of questions, each demanding the negative answer:
• For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
• What fellowship can light have with darkness?
• What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
• What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
• What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?

Today as we are surrounded by spiritual darkness let us again remember God's call. We are to move out of the darkness, walk in the light and stay in the light. Don't be caught lurking in the shadows, fearful of taking a stand, whether it's at our workplace, our neighborhood, or even in our own family. We read of the outcome of Peter's denial of Christ when he, along with other disciples, moved away from Jesus and observed from a distance, even hiding in the darkened shadows. Instead let us be bold in our walk and take a stand in this age where there is great temptation to "blend in" so that everybody is comfortable. Jesus stood apart and He challenges us as well, "Be ye holy, even as I am holy."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, You call us to come unto You and find rest. We are to take Your yoke upon ourselves so that we are not singly walking in our limited strength, our imperfect wisdom, or our inadequate abilities. Instead we are yoked together with You, learning to walk in Your ways, following Your commandments which are holy, just and good. We are learning self-denial and how to overcome difficulties as we trust You in all Your ways. It is a yoke of pleasantness as we find that Your assistance daily navigates our attitudes and duties as we walk in the light of Your Holy Word.  Amen.

On Friday we shared a message about building on the solid foundation based on Christ's teaching concerning the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7 and we received a thoughtful feedback message from a long time reader we have never met.  

"You brought up a very powerful parable the other day.  I was thinking about this parable some time ago that Jesus taught about us building our house on the Rock. It occurred to me that in both instances, it requires great work.  It's not easy building a house - no matter where we put it. So many things go into building a house - I'm sure even in Jesus' day. So it's not that one was working harder than the other by any means. I myself have sometimes gotten trapped into the deception that "since I'm working hard, I must be doing good" - but that isn't always the case. It's the foundation on which that hard work is based. So I'm reminded that it's possible that people can be deceived doing work their whole lives on something, and be misguided that the work they are doing is righteous, but come to the reality that they've built their whole lives on something that is meaningless. A sobering thought."

Liberty University mountain 4/9/10
Friday morning as we left Lynchburg, Virginia we passed this logo for Liberty University high up on a mountain. You can get a sense of its size based on the trees. I believe it's made out of different colors of stone. We were blessed by all the green we saw but as we headed back north we observed that even in the several days we had been gone how much greener it was and today most of the trees have budded out in various degrees here in Lancaster County.

Blue Ridge Parkway bridge 4/9/10
The bridges on the Blue Ridge Parkway are a beautiful stone design.
In this photo we just came off the parkway and are heading into Roanoke.

Tulips in Roanoke Virginia 4/9/10
We enjoyed viewing these beautiful tulips in Roanoke, Virginia.
Here's a larger view that I made for a desktop background.

Bruno & Roxie 4/11/10
Last night we took our long trail walk along Donegal Creek and our dog Roxie met up with
Bruno, a very friendly neighborhood Saint Bernard, who joined us for part of our walk.  We thought this was a cute photo and welcome submissions from our readers for captions such as we made here.  Just email your suggestion to this address.

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.)

"Offering"  Video  Paul Baloche

"I Offer My Life"  Video  

"Here I Am To Worship"  Video  Michael W. Smith

30035: Defining Moments: When Temptation and Opportunity Meet Defining Moments: When Temptation and Opportunity Meet
By Daniel Schaeffer / Discovery House Publishers

Life is full of defining moments, those once-in-a-lifetime decisions that change the direction of our lives for better or worse. Dan Schaeffer looks at the defining moments of biblical characters like Hannah, Achan, Ruth, and Moses, and tells us what pitfalls to avoid. You'll identify with the heroes of the Bible in ways you never have before. Each chapter includes discussion questions for reflection and application.

Brooksyne's Review:  I read this book recently and found it to be a very thought-provoking search light in the lives of Biblical characters, revealing the best and worst of motives that led to defining moments of building or destroying their character.  It is a fairly quick and easy-read, excellent for group discussion.  Here's a quote that Dan Schaeffer included from a former (Dan Coates) that has really stayed with me.  It prompted our discussion around the table yesterday along with 2 Peter 1:3-5:  "Character cannot be summoned at the moment of crisis if it has been squandered by years of compromise and rationalization...the only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life...is those hundreds of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private.  Habit is the daily battleground of character.

I prepared the above quote and Scripture passage back to back on laminated bookmarks.  It helps me to post these Scriptures in places where I spend a lot of time and am able to memorize them.  I've done just that with 2 Peter 1:3-5 and what a blessing it has been over the past couple weeks as I've meditated on this passage.

If you'd like one of these bookmarks just send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I will happily mail it to you.
Brooksyne Weber
495 Kraybill Church Road
Mount Joy, PA  17552

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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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