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Monday, February 18, 2013

Photo of Osorno Volcano in southern Chile (photo by Patricia Hormabazal)
Osorno Volcano in Southern Chile
Photo by Patricia Hormabazal

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"Who Is This Higher Power?"

“So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you" (Acts 17:22,23).

Red LobsterLast week we had our Valentine's Day meal at Red Lobster in York, PA. We realize how our tastes have changed regarding seafood since we grew up in the Midwest when we both recall "seafood" meant Shurfine™ fish sticks. Our appreciation for seafood really grew when we lived in New England and had "real" seafood. Living inland for the past twelve years we now enjoy an occasional meal at Red Lobster. Truth be told fish sticks or patties are offered in our home far more often than shrimp, salmon or haddock.

Our server was a very earnest and friendly young man named Bill*. Only twenty years of age he recently started working at Red Lobster. He grew up in Havre De Grace Maryland so we asked, "What brought you to York?" He told us it was for drug rehab w/o further specificity. We sought to encourage him, knowing how difficult the path to sobriety can be so we asked, "What helps you stay on track?" Bill indicated that every morning he prayed to a "higher power".

Higher Power is a term coined in the 1930s in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and is used in other twelve-step programs. Perhaps they originated that term so they can address a broad group of people who have different spiritual leadings and thus no one is offended. We tried to pin Bill down on who his "Higher Power" is but he was insistent in keeping it generic by firmly stating, "I prefer not to give 'it' a name". Red Lobster was very busy, being Valentine's Day, so we appreciated the extra time he did spend talking with us.

The Scriptures are clear regarding the specific Person of the higher power.

In Acts 17 Paul preached to the Athenians, the intellectually elite of that age. An interesting parenthetical description in verse 21 states, "Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new." (SCW note: It seems to me that's what a lot of intellectual elites do to this day!)

Altar to unkown godPaul sought to connect by appealing to an altar he had seen with this inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Apparently the Athenians just wanted to make sure they had all the bases covered so they erected a generic altar for a god they didn’t know just in case. This is similar to the generic "higher power".

Paul used the situation to his advantage and proclaimed this God in one of the great sermons of the New Testament, “Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.” We know through the immediate context as well as the entire record of Paul's sermons and writing Whom he proclaimed. In Athens and every place he went, "he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection"
(Acts 17:18)

Today we appeal to a world where so many do not know Jesus personally. God created within our inmost being the need to follow after One greater than ourselves. Of course He desires that we worship Him not in ignorance, but in Spirit and in Truth. And the way we follow the True God is to open His Word to our hearts making it a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for those who make known the "unknown God" to the people of a foreign land or right here in our own homeland. More and more we hear of those who pray or look to a "higher power" for help in their day to day struggles. How unfortunate for them if they do not know You personally, Father God, to be the Highest Power available to all creation. From the very beginning You created a hunger within our hearts to serve you, but far too many misfeed that hunger and rather look to "gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill". Instead we are to feed our spiritual hunger by serving You with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. As we draw near to You, You promise to draw near to us. Thank You for making Yourself known to us in Your Word as we immerse ourselves in Your truths. Amen.

Here is what Paul proclaimed following our daily text:  “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:29-31).

Brooksyne's Note: I have been burdened for Bill since meeting him on Thursday. I gave him our card, began lifting him up in prayer, and am hopeful that he might even be reading our message today.

*Bill is not his real name.

Some photos of our friends who gathered with us over the weekend

Lee and Pam Smucker 2/15/13
Friday evening Lee and Pam Smucker joined us for dinner and an extended time of warm fellowship. Lee is one of the many friends we have made in the course of our chaplain ministry.

Ken, David and Seth Pierce 2/16/13
Saturday morning I had several home improvement projects I was working on and got stumped so I called my friend Ken to borrow a tool. He offered to come over and help me and brought his two sons, David and Seth, as helpers. That sure made the work go well and we completed both projects! In this photo Ester is also taking a picture thus the varying facial expressions!

Fransesco's Pizza 2/16/13We have new neighbors, Frank and Maria, along with their family who moved into the house next to us this past week. They are both native Italians. We wanted to welcome them to our neighborhood so Saturday evening we invited them over for dessert. Frank called and wanted to bring some pizzas over from the Francesco's Pizza Shop he owns in Manheim so we ended up with a full meal by the time Brooksyne added some appetizers. Not knowing them well we were reluctant to ask for a photo so I took a photo of a pizza. It was a very tasty pizza!

Jesse and Wilma Dourte, Luke and Anna Mae Pierce 2/17/13
Yesterday afternoon we had calls from two sets of friends wanting to come over for fellowship which turned into an evening meal together. I calculated that we had a total of 158 years of marriage represented by the folks sitting around our table! It's rather nice to live in an area where church folks still like to make visits with other church folks on Sunday afternoons/evenings. I (Brooksyne) remember my parents purposely calling on our church friends on Sunday afternoons. As children it was lots of fun to play with our friends from Sunday School.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"No Other Name"  Video  

"Jesus Saves"  Video  Travis Cottrell  A very powerful song!

"Jesus Is The Sweetest Name I Know"  Video  Israel & New Breed Church This is not the musical style I am accustomed to but appreciate the enthusiasm!

This morning I came across this story behind the song:

In the early 1900's, a woman by the name of Lela Long heard a medical missionary on furlough from China share the story of his work. Whenever someone came to him for treatment he would always tell them the story of Jesus.

One morning, before the doors of the clinic were opened, there was a knock at the missionary's door. There stood an elderly woman, stooped with age. He could tell by the dust on her feet and clothing that she had come a long way. He treated her and, as always, told her about Jesus. As she heard the beautiful story of Jesus love, she opened her heart to receive Jesus as her personal Savior. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she accepted the gift of eternal life.

Quite some time had passed and there was a knock at the missionary's door. When he opened the door, he found the same old woman that had come to him several weeks before. She said, "Sir, He has saved me and I know He lives in my heart. He has made my life so happy! But sir, I have forgotten His name. Could you please tell me His name again?" The missionary repeated over and over again the name, "Jesus," "Jesus," "Jesus." Each time the little old lady echoed that name, "Jesus."

After hearing this story, Lela Long wrote the hymn
"Jesus Is The Sweetest Name I Know"

Browser logosThese are articles we come across in the course of studying for these messages or just poking around the vast Internet. In most cases they are not necessarily related to the daily message but may be of interest to our readers. These articles will only be posted once and there will be new ones each post, assuming we come across material that we feel may be of interest. (To see previous links use the archive version.)

In my study I came across this passage that is churning in my spirit as a future message. "But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some" (2 Timothy 2:16-18).  I am intrigued by the colorful simile "spread like gangrene" and consider how this applies to false teaching in our age.

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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