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Monday, January 23, 2012

Three level bank barn in Lancaster County PA 1/22/12
Last week I shared a series of photos of barns. Galen, a local friend shared with me about his unique barn, a three level bank barn build in 1830. We had our first winter snow this weekend and I stopped by to get a photo of the barn in the snow. I know Galen wants to share more about the barn, so one of these days I expect I will share more photos and some barn history!

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"Keep Standing"

"Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18).

Today tens of thousands are gathered in Washington for the annual "March for Life" commemorating the 39th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. I don't know how many will be there this year but in the past it's numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Most assuredly there will be a very large crowd gathered, although likely the secular news media will do one of three things: ignore it, focus on some strange fringe group that in no way represents the true cause, or give coverage to the minuscule pro-abortion demonstrators who'll be out as well.

For several years I went down to Washington to participate in the Pro-Life March when I lived in northern Pennsylvania and once from New England. People come in from all over the country, such as my Aunt Mary, who though in her mid seventies, traveled each year all the way from western Missouri.

It's been several years since I last participated in this March with the committed thousands. But you can count on them every year, rain or shine, bitterly cold or pleasant weather. They take a visible stand to publicly proclaim, "We have not forgotten the estimated 55,000,000 unborn babies 'legally' murdered here in the US since 1973." I have enjoyed my association with these dedicated pro-lifers over the years, and I bless them in their stand for life and righteousness today.

Today's text may seem an unusual one for today's topic and certainly there are verses more specifically related to unborn life which I have used on similar themes in the past.  But I consider the discouragement that we may face any time we take a stand on a controversial matter. Any of us standing up against the waves of evil flooding our world may wonder if we are really making a difference.
Our nation is confronted with two fundamental violations today in God's created order: the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.

We may wonder if our efforts matter. We may wonder if we are alone; whether it is in our own household where other family members are not believers or in the workplace where there is no other coworker who takes a visible stand for Christ.

Elijah was discouraged here on Mount Carmel. Although he had just seen a mighty demonstration by Almighty God he felt alone in his stand and expressed his despair by exclaiming, "I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too" (v. 10).

God's word of assurance to Elijah is powerful and timely for us as well: "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." As we take a stand for Christ and stridently avoid bowing to the Baals of our age we may feel that we are alone. Be assured that God always has a faithful remnant who remain true to His Name. Keep standing for Christ and His righteousness today. You are not alone!

Be encouraged and stand faithful today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we look at Elijah who took a mighty stand for You during the plague of unbelief that spread throughout the land of Israel. And yet there were moments when he allowed the mindset of the unbelievers, instead of the absolutes stated in Your Word, to weaken him, leading him to think that he was alone in standing true for You.  But You sent word word to Elijah, that You have a remnant more interested in obeying You than bowing down to the ever-evolving philosophies of their generation.  When we stand with You, Almighty God, we are a majority no matter the number of evil forces we oppose.  Keep us looking upward as we walk onward in the truths of Your Holy Scripture. In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Pro-Life Prayer:  Father, we thank You for the courageous girls and women who, in the most difficult of circumstances, choose to give life over choosing to dispense of their "problem."  We thank You for the vast groups of men and women who lend support to crises pregnancies, to those who take in and raise children who are given up for adoption. We thank You for those who have dedicated their lives to this tremendous cause, keeping it very much alive, so that those who accept it as a viable option due to its legalization in 1973 will come to realize that Your Word is the first and final authority on life, not the legislation of our day.  

Bless those who speak today, those who march, and those who work among pregnant girls and women who are presently in the very midst of making a life or death decision regarding their unborn child. We also pray for those who made the wrong choice to abort, that they may find Your enduring grace that brings healing and restoration. In many instances, You have used their troubling experience to be an influencing voice for others to make a right choice. We commit the Pro-Life cause to You this day, in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Warming by fireIn Friday's message we used a verse that pointed out how Peter stood by a fire to warm himself at the time he denied Christ. A Canadian reader observes: "Peter's denial takes place over a charcoal fire and it's a charcoal fire that Jesus builds on the beach before reinstating Peter. Charcoal would have been hard to find on the beach, you normally would gather sticks to build a fire, but Jesus is recreating the sensory reminder of the previous fire, and the gospel account includes this seemingly trivial detail." That's a very interesting point!

Sanctity of Life Note:  The church I pastored in Massachusetts was located on US 44, a  busy highway that was the main east/west route through the city of Taunton (and main route from Providence Rhode Island to Plymouth, MA).  We had a lighted message sign along the highway that was changed virtually every week by Bill and Veda, a very dedicated couple in the church.  Scores of people were regularly exposed to spiritual truth in a very spiritually desolate region of the country. Through the years we got a number of positive remarks from passersby concerning these messages which was very encouraging. 

However a message we placed up in January one year got some very interesting feedback. We posted this simple, unambiguous, irrefutable message: "Abortion Stops A Beating Heart." A lady who'd seen the sign called my office extremely upset. She thought there should be a law against posting such a message and threatened that she was going to check into it. She claimed her children were so upset they cried. Truth really hurts and in this case illustrates the awful blindness that sin causes.

Pro-life march in Washington DC (around 1990)
Here's a photo I found that was taken many years ago at the "March For Life" in Washington. I am the tall man in the red jacket holding the sign! I note that there are two friends from our church standing behind me, Chris and Kandy. Jim, a pastor friend from the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, is standing in front of me. Today there will be thousands in Washington bravely participating in this peaceful demonstration. Join with Brooksyne and me in praying for them.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Rescue The Perishing"  Video  Billy and Cindy Foote  This couple does an outstanding job with a contemporized version of this beloved Fanny Crosby hymn. Whoever put this together also did a great job of using related photos. Here's a video (first verse and chorus only) with the original tune that was performed right here in Lancaster County!

"This Little Child"  Video  Although this song is some 25 years old and in my view is prophetic. It still touches my heart each time I hear it.

"Give me A Chance"  (Audio) A thoughtful song written by Karl Kohlhase

"The Silent Scream"  (Video)  This is a classic expression and if this film were remade with the imaging technology available today it would be even more remarkable.  In the 80's I read Dr. Nathanson's book "Aborting America" chronicling his conversion from being an avid proponent of abortion and founder of one of the abortion organizations to being an articulate pro-life advocate as seen in this film. (Warning: the film is very graphic.)

Her Choice to Heal, Revised and UpdatedHer Choice to Heal, Revised and Updated  By Sydna Masse / David C. Cook
The author tells her story of how she became pregnant in college, and lacking the support of the father, chose to have an abortion. Did you know that 33 percent of American women have had an abortion? And at some point, most will experience post-abortion syndrome. Revised and updated guide identifies PAS characteristics; shares personal stories of strength and change; provides spiritual and practical resources for healing; and offers hope that forgiveness, redemption, and peace are possible in Christ. 144 pages, softcover from Cook.

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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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