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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rainy Day 9/18/12
Through the window: We had a very wet day yesterday with nearly 3 inches of rain. This is the view from my office desk brightened by a Coleus arrangement Brooksyne made. Today is sunny and clear.

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"Caught And Cleaned"

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1,2). "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:13-16).

This past weekend in our Sunday School class
we discussed the importance of we being a church that reaches out to the lost and welcomes them into the congregation. Our teacher, Stan, using the "fishers of men" Scripture pointed out that we need to catch and then clean, rather than clean them before the catch. He was speaking of the lost condition people are in when they come into the church having lived for years in disobedience to God. We shouldn't require them to "clean up" before coming and hearing the Gospel.

I certainly agree with that premise, but in the discussion I pointed out that once they come into the church and are converted we do need to clean them (using "clean" to continue the "fishers of men" theme). Of course ultimately it's the Lord's work in both catching and cleaning, but the faithful church will teach that the normative result of genuine conversion (being caught) is a spiritual transformation (being cleaned)!

It is my observation that this is often lacking in the modern church today. In far too many cases people come in but are often not challenged to change and clean up. Some church leadership expects that once the new "fish" becomes a part of the congregation and takes on responsibility he or she will be changed by being around the more mature "fish". Challenging them personally to forsake the ways of the world is seen by many as
being intolerant, judgmental and unloving.

A certain minister excused sinful behavior by accounting for it in terms of “infantile environment, traumatic experiences, psychological complexes and the like.”

We can make excuses and give fancy names to sinful behavior and prolong its poisonous effect, but genuine love will call people to obedience in accordance to Biblical standards of holiness which is increasingly contrary to the standards of the world.

Last week we were visiting with Mike and Kathy, friends who went to the University of Maine in the late sixties. Kathy recalled during the years she went to college there was a strict curfew and other expectations regarding standards of behavior that would seem archaic to college campuses today. And this in a secular northeastern college!

Behavioral standards have eroded drastically during our lifetime which is evident in the lives of people coming into our churches, if we are catching the lost. We must welcome them and declare God's love, grace and forgiveness. But we also must declare the whole counsel of God, which includes a call to obedience in accordance to the Biblical standards of holiness. That's a vital role of the faithful church.

We really like an invitation song titled, "Come Just As You Are". In God's redemption plan we don't clean up our act or change before we come to Jesus. Instead we come just as we are, call out to Him in faith and repent of our sin. God saves us and then we undergo the scrub brush of the Holy Spirit that, instantaneously and over one's lifetime, purges the remnants of a life that once was lost in sin.

In salvation something wonderful happens, gloriously expressed by the Apostle Paul in the first daily text: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Come just as you are. Hear the Spirit call.
Come just as you are.
Come and see, come receive,
Come and live forever.

Life everlasting.
And strength for today.
Taste the Living Water,
And never thirst again.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have commissioned us, as believers, to reach the lost, inviting them to surrender their lives to Jesus and receive forgiveness of sins.  It is at their point of surrender that we witness the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit; cleansing, restoring, purging, and maturing the young believer toward good works in Christ. We thank You for the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit at work in each of us who come to faith, equipping us with the endurance and perseverance needed to walk our journey of faith in the midst of an increasingly hostile and unaccepting society. It is through Jesus that we come to You in prayer. Amen.

"Preaching On Sin" Here is a longer article I wrote several years ago on this topic.

The Precept online study commentary states regarding this point: God's grace provides our eternal salvation as well as our efficacious enablement to know life more abundantly and is available for our every problem and need. Sadly there are those who advance the fallacious argument that since God's grace covers all our sins, then we are free to live as we please. Wrong!

Yes, it is absolute sound (healthy) doctrine that God's grace provides for our freedom, but the other side of that doctrinal coin is that the very same amazing grace is God's provision to free believing sinners from slavery to the selfish, sinful nature in order that we might pursue "every good work" and become all that God intends us to be in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are to be His trophies of grace as it were to a lost and dying world who might see in and through us the Father's provision of salvation flowing from His throne of grace.
 See here.

Lebanon County Amish Farm
Last Friday afternoon we passed this Lebanon County Amish farm, a scene I always enjoy, especially on wash day with the long pulley-style clothesline running from the house to the barn. See here for larger photo.

Amish buggy in New Holland
Last Saturday Ester took this photo of an Amish buggy pulling a red wagon in New Holland, PA. The buggy interior is very small and the Amish have to use creative means to haul their stuff.

Today's Suggested M
and Supplemental Resources

"Come Just As You Are"  Video  The Maranatha Singers

"Take My Life And Let It Be"
Video  Brian Doerksen
Video  Christ For The Nations version

"Whiter Than The Snow"  Video  

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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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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