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Friday, October 8, 2010

Old order Mennonite barn
It seems that regardless of what type of faith background you have there's just never enough room in the garage! We took this photo yesterday of an old order Mennonite barn near New Holland, PA.

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"Changed Lives"

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Last night we attended a Teen Challenge banquet at the Shady Maple here in Lancaster County. Teen Challenge is a ministry, over 50 years old, that works at rehabilitation based on the foundation of the transforming power of Jesus Christ. 

All over the world scores of Teen Challenge graduates are serving the Lord, free from the addictions that once had them bound. In the mid-seventies we went to Bible College with Sonny Oliver who had been raised in a rough part of Chicago and fell deeply into the ways of the world.  But Sonny experienced redemption through Christ and entered a Teen Challenge program and then on to Bible College. Sonny is serving the Lord to this day.

We heard an interesting testimony from an evangelist named Nelson Coblentz, who had been raised in the Amish faith but who as a young adult rebelled and entered into the ways of the world. He shared how he was saved and transformed through Christ, and now for nearly 30 years, he has served the Lord as an evangelist with the Gospel Express. There were a lot of Amish folks in attendance at the banquet last night and all who were present sure heard a clear presentation of Christ!

The banquet hall was packed last night so they had screens set up so you could see better and screens were actually at the back so people faced them to watch rather than the front. I observed as a lady watched the choir and the camera focused on a small group of Teen Challenge men singing "Amazing Grace". She exclaimed aloud, "That's David" as she buried her face in her hands weeping, rejoicing at what she saw. I assume David was her son or a loved one of some type. What a joy it is to see transformation especially among a loved one!

We are glad we serve a God who is in the life-changing business!  He's still changing lives today and I'm one of them.  I rejoice in the work of God seen in the immediate transformation at the time of belief and the slow progressive transformation over a lifetime of following Christ. What a joy to see the positive changes in a Teen Challenge student who only months earlier was wasted on drugs and seemingly a hopeless cause.  And what a joy to see the long-term work of transformation in a man like Nelson Coblentz.

The Apostle Paul wrote describing this wonderful change, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Paul experienced that change in his life and he rejoiced in the change in those he ministered to. John Newton, the former slave trader best known for writing "Amazing Grace", said before he died, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things – that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, there is no sin too great that Your mercy is not greater.  We were born with a sin problem, but You provided the solution for our sin sick souls through the wondrous sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  We could never be good enough, rich enough, famous enough – nothing we offer is enough.  Anything we offer is sin-based because of our human condition and all that Christ offers is sin-less because He is the Lamb without blemish.  Only Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, is enough to pay for our sins and begin the wonderful work of transforming us into Your likeness.  Thank You for Your gift of eternal life. In the name of Jesus. Amen

Here are some photos from our time at the banquet last night.

Ester & Brooksyne with Shady Maple hillbilly 10/7/10
The banquet was held at the Shady Maple, a huge restaurant known for its abundant smorgasbord.  Ester and Brooksyne met up with this farmer character as we walked in. He didn't get dressed up for dinner, it appears.

Rich Weitzel at the Shady Maple 10/7/10
I visited with Rich Weitzel, a friend from our ministry years in New England. Rich and I both pastored in the same area of southeast Massachusetts in the nineties. Rich served a congregation in Wellfleet, way out on Cape Cod.  He's ministered with Rhersburg Teen Challenge for over ten years now.

Gospel Express at the Shady Maple 10/7/10
The Gospel Express had the grandchildren join in for a song.
Evangelist Nelson Coblentz is standing behind.

Teen Challenge Choir at the Shady Maple 10/7/10
The Teen Challenge Choir

Amish straw hats at the Shady Maple 10/7/10
Evidence of the Amish in attendance were the straw hats!

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.)

"Amazing Grace"  Video   Wintley Phipps (With long introduction, song begins at 5:15)

"Amazing Grace"  Video  Chris Tomlin

Gospel Express

Teen Challenge 
 Note: Teen Challenge was so named because at it's founding it focused on teens but very soon moved to minister to needy men of all ages.  (Programs were also established for women.) Next year the very first convert, Nicky Cruz, who was featured in the book by the founder of Teen Challenge David Wilkerson "The Cross and The Switchblade" will be the featured speaker at the banquet!  David Wilkerson sensed the call to go to New York when he was pastoring a church in the small town of Philipsburg, PA.  Years later that church donated the pulpit that David Wilkerson preached from to our pioneer work in northern PA and for many years that is the pulpit I preached from!

Finally today:
Dressed gourd
Yesterday on the way to the Shady Maple we stopped at a roadside produce stand and Brooksyne snapped this photo of a homemaker/gardening gourd!

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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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