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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Water Street Rescue Mission
Water Street Rescue Mission in Lancaster PA

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"A Tribute To Rescue Workers"

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh" (Jude 1:20-23).

Flooded field from Hurricane SandyHurricane Sandy has passed from our area and we are now dealing with the aftermath, in our case only some fallen tree branches and blown over outdoor chairs. I drove into town yesterday afternoon and saw how high the creek rose, which resulted in flooded farm fields and likely some very wet basements, but nothing as severe as we had last summer with Hurricane Irene. We never lost power at all and thus were able to observe how other parts of our region were far more impacted.

My brother Pat, who lives about 100 miles away in the Lehigh Valley lost power Monday and still has none this morning, along with all three of his adult children who live throughout the valley. According to an online power outage map for my electric company (PPL) over 250,000 customers still have no power in our region as of Noon. Of course this is just one of many electric companies.

But the most devastation and drama occurred along the shore and of course in New York City. Destruction in the northeast includes a great deal of land and property damage, but thankfully the death toll was minimized due to advance notices of the approaching hurricane and due also to the many unseen yet essential heroic efforts of rescue workers.

Rescue helicopterToday we honor rescue workers. We watched scenes of these tireless workers trudging through rising water, in some cases carrying other adults on their backs. Their work is very hard and often dangerous as they deal with downed electric wires, raging fires, flooded dwellings. Those who conduct helicopter rescues have some of the most dramatic work. We express our gratitude to those willing to serve the public in such a sacrificial way.

Tim Farrell at Water Street Rescue MissionToday we also consider another form of rescue work that's taking place in rescue missions all over the world. Last week we toured our local rescue mission, Water Street, with Tim Farrell, a friend of ours who works there. We pass this mission weekly on the way to one of our company locations and see the people milling about waiting for breakfast to be served. Young and old, some illiterate and others with college degrees, those brought up in Christian homes and others raised in ungodly settings. They all need rescued and their stories will tug at your heartstrings.

Fanny CrosbyFanny J. Crosby was the blind American hymnist who wrote, "Rescue the Perishing" after an experience in a New York Mission. She worked for many years with the boys and men in the mission referring to them as "my boys". When she was asked about how she came to write the hymn that has now touched millions of lives she shared,

"I remember writing that hymn in the year 1869. Like many of my hymns, it was written following a personal experience at the New York City Bowery Mission [a homeless shelter with many derelicts of the time]….I was addressing a large company of working men one hot summer evening, when the thought kept forcing itself on my mind that some mother’s boy must be rescued that night or he might be eternally lost. So I made a pressing plea that if there was a boy present who had wandered from his mother’s home and teaching, he should come to me at the end of the service. A young man of 18 came forward – 'Did you mean me, Miss Crosby? I promised my mother to meet her in heaven, but as I am now living, that will be impossible.' We prayed for him and suddenly he arose with a new light in his eyes and spoke these words, 'Now I am ready to meet my mother in heaven, for I have found God.'”

After arriving home that evening Fanny completed the hymn before retiring. Perhaps she was reflecting on the young man's conversion when she wrote the second verse, "Tho' they are slighting Him, still He is waiting, Waiting the penitent child to receive; Plead with them earnestly, Plead with them gently, He will forgive if they only believe." 

The apostle Jude used a vivid metaphor in describing the critical rescue mission the church and every true believer has; the call to "snatch others from the fire and save them", which is an ongoing description of the Great Commission. We know, of course, that ultimately God does the saving, but He has called each of us to participate in the saving mission!

The challenge to receive Christ may come through an altar call to a group of people. It might come from a caring brother or sister to an individual who needs Christ. These are examples of only two of the many ways we seek to snatch unbelievers from the fire. We are all involved in the process, including those who faithfully pray for these lost souls to be saved. In Jude's descriptive phrase the emphasis is on the urgency and seriousness with which we are to take up our call.

Today let us remember God's call in our lives as followers of Christ. All around us there are people who need the Lord; people who need to be snatched from the fire and saved from eternal damnation. As we reach out to those living in sin, we must love the sinner but hate the very sin that has entrapped them.  Just as firemen suit up in their fire repellent uniforms for personal protection, we too must suit up in our spiritual armor to protect ourselves from the spiritual forces of evil as we reach out to those greatly damaged by the evil influences of Satan. (Ephesians 6:11-17).

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Merciful Father, we confess that we can be impatient and judgmental toward those who reject You. We've come to realize that we can't live without You but the unbeliever feels he or she has no need for You.  It seems we're worlds apart in our outlook.  Use this passage from Jude to speak to our hearts about applying Your mercy to those who are not of the faith. They do not see through eyes of faith, but are blinded to spiritual truth. Jude also reminds us that while we must embrace the sinner in mercy and love, we must never embrace or endorse the sin. The allurement to sin is always before us, so we ask You to keep us safe. Do not let us deceive ourselves, but show us how to set up safeguards, while reaching out to those who are in sin's entrapment.  Father, we don't want to be complacent but want to be spiritually burdened with the critical need of reaching out to "the penitent child" who needs You.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

"A Prayer For Rescue Workers" Loving Father, we thank You for those who represent You in the flesh as they save others who would otherwise perish due to their own personal ground zero. These rescue workers do not simply do their work out of duty, but they do it as a conscious effort to reach one in peril as though he or she was their brother or sister, mother or dad, son or daughter. You come to us through their love, care, and sacrificial effort in saving us from an otherwise certain death. Heal their sorrowful memories of those rescue attempts that did not fare well and strengthen them in body and spirit. They serve as examples to us who are in the rescue mission of saving the lost from the eternal consequences of a life lived apart from You. Keep us diligent and faithful, never giving up or giving in to discouragements that come our way or from those who choose not to heed our spiritual counsel. We pray this through Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: Out of respect for their privacy we didn't photograph those in the mission, but I was especially touched in the learning center where men and women were working on their resumes, some working toward their GED, and others were simply learning to read and do math. A woman, possibly in her 70's, sat there among two grown men working with them on their math calculations. She was most pleasant and appeared to be a loving teacher as she patiently guided them in understanding the mathematical process. It doesn't matter our age or our giftings, if we make ourselves available to God, He will use us as rescue volunteers to further His kingdom and help others in life's struggles.

Service at Water Street rescue mission
Several years ago a group from our church served at Water Street Rescue Mission by staffing the breakfast line. Ester is smiling with a big spoonful of scrambled eggs
Water Street rescue mission plaque
This plaque hangs in the Water Street Rescue Mission dining hall using knots as a theme.
Click here for a larger version with detail.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Rescue The Perishing"  Video  Billy and Cindy Foote A powerful modern rendition of an old hymn showing rescue photos.

"Rescue The Perishing"  Video  Musicians not specified A traditional version with onscreen lyrics.

"Master The Tempest is Raging"  Video  Jesse Dixon on Homecoming series. This song was suggested by a reader in referring to our recent storm.

Water Street Rescue Mission  Rescue mission here in Lancaster PA. referred to in today's message.

City Union Mission  Rescue mission in Kansas City Missouri where my mom worked as a young adult and carried a burden for her entire life.

Pacific Garden Mission  
Rescue mission in Chicago that produces radio series "Unshackled".

The Bowery Mission  
Famous rescue mission in New York City.

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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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