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Monday, June 11, 2012
Yesterday we had two church services in our neighborhood. The Amish gathered on a farm on Kraybill Church Road around the corner from our house and the Old Order River Brethren gathered on another farm across the field from us. (We attended the Old Order River Brethren service and will describe below.) We took this buggy photo yesterday as we left for an outdoor evening service. It was about 5:00 PM and this Amish family was just leaving after being in fellowship all day following the morning service.
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"The Lord Is Good To All"
"The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made" (Psalm 145:8,9). "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knoweth them that trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7)
Our daily verse makes a statement that I believe is often taken for granted even by devout believers. "The Lord is good to all". Consider the multitude of ways that His attribute of goodness is extended to everyone, including the unbeliever and vilest sinner. Even the most blatant blasphemer and hater of God is abundantly showered with His goodness.
God's goodness is revealed to all in what theologians call "general revelation". General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.
Jesus said, "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45). Each of us benefit from a wide host of blessings ranging from the percentage of oxygen in the air to this remarkable machine we call the body.
However the goodness of God has often been a stumbling block for the unbeliever and a source of confusion to the believer. This happens in individual lives during trying times when "bad" things happen.
Theologian J.I. Packer has observed: "Though God's ways of expressing his goodness are sometimes unexpected and bewildering, looking indeed to the casual observer and in the short term more like bad [than good], the final testimony of those who walk with God through life's ups and downs is that 'every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed' (Joshua 23:14-15)."
Can you say "Amen" to that? You see, the mysteries or questions we have regarding His goodness are always a result of our finite understanding and limited knowledge and never a deficiency in His attribute of goodness.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Loving Father, we thrive on Your gracious and compassionate ways, your slowness to anger and Your abounding love. You satisfy our desires with good things and do not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. In Your goodness and mercy You remove our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west. We give thanks to You, our Father, for You are good and Your love endures forever. Amen.
We had a wonderful Lord's Day of Worship in two interesting services we attended; a service with the Old Order River Brethren in the morning and a "Galilean Service" in our home church in the early evening. Today we will share about the morning service and tomorrow the Galilean service.
The Old Order River Brethren Service
Note: We know that many of our readers are accustomed to photos accompanying our descriptions but the setting was inappropriate for taking photos so we will seek to draw a textual photo!
Yesterday we enjoyed an unusual setting in the House of the Lord. Our neighbor and his children invited us to attend a church service held in a newly erected and spacious barn about halfway up the trail we often walk along Donegal Springs. It was a delightful experience to walk to church right on our favorite trail. Several weeks ago we shared the story of the children's invitation: Stephen asked, "Are you sure we're invited?" Each of them assured us that we were. "Everyone's invited" they said but the young three year old added, "except Satan. He's an enemy of God." We sure agree with his theology!
The Old Order River Brethren is a group essentially distinct to our area although they do have a settlement several counties west and one in Iowa. They do not have church buildings but rather meet in houses and barns. They drive cars and use modern utilities. I suppose for comparative purposes they're similar in dress to the Amish but quite distinct from them in their order of worship which is held in English. The men sit on one side and the women on the other like the Amish and old order Mennonites. Yesterday we walked in just as the service begun and quickly took the nearest seat. When we looked around and noticed the ladies on the opposite side Brooksyne quickly moved over to the women's side!
Much of the service was personal testimony intermingled with hymns (many of which we were not familiar with but appreciated the rich content). All the hymns are sung acapella in blended harmony. We sang from small thick hymn books published especially for this group. Many seemed to know all the songs from memory. Needless to say they did not use PowerPoint!
About 20 men and women throughout the congregation stood to give testimonies or requested hymns that expressed earnest faith and piety. There were three messages all Scripturally sound with the main sermon being a thoughtful message about what being faithful means, using the Biblical examples of Joseph, Daniel, Paul and Jesus. The preachers are not formally trained but rather selected from among the group. The ministers are not "professional" but deeply studied men with a firm grasp of Scripture. The service lasted nearly 3 hours (a bit longer then we're accustomed to)!
We prayed three different times as each time we knelt at our chairs. When the minister prayed aloud and thanked God for being in the "House of the Lord" I couldn't help but compare the simple barn to a multimillion dollar structure that is also referred to as the House of the Lord. Bottom line – where God's people gather to give praise and glory to Him and seek to do His will, this is indeed the House of the Lord.
The children and babies sat with their parents during the service. No children's church (imagine that!) The younger children quietly sat although somewhat fidgety at times. The older children and teens respectfully followed along during the entire service. After the meeting I approached a group of young teenage boys out by another barn who greeted me respectfully and engaged in conversation (something that seems to be lacking among many young people I now encounter!) I asked one of them if he could recall the four Biblical examples in the message and he listed each of them.
This group also practices distinctive dress. The men wore black pants, white shirts and long flowing beards similar to the type Moses is often pictured with in art and their hair was cropped similar to Amish. The women in their modest apparel looked much like the Amish women though there was a little more variety in color and they wore head coverings.
The potluck luncheon followed which was a delightful time of fellowship; making new acquaintances but also enjoying our fellowship with many neighbors who were specially invited to the service. It's a memorable occasion when believers come from various denominational backgrounds and worship together - a picture of heavenly worship here on earth!
All in all it was a great day in the House of the Lord.
Here is more information about the Old Order River Brethren.
The beautiful setting for a "Galilean service" we attended yesterday afternoon (We will describe this service tomorrow.)
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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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