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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Corn stored on Amish farm near New Holland, PA 12/4/13
Yesterday we passed this Amish farm near New Holland PA and were struck by the overflowing corn cribs, evidence of an abundant harvest in our area.

"The Coming Cultural Collapse"

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Note: Today's message may at first seem a bit discouraging but these dark days remind us of our need to stay focused on the Lord which brings an eternal perspective to the way we view the world around us. It's also a call to faithfulness. Even though our message addresses deteriorating conditions here in the U.S. the main principles of the teaching will apply wherever you live.

"They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door" (Genesis 19:9). "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12). "Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you" (1 John 3:13). "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).

The other evening we listened to a TV commentator describe the eroding conditions in Detroit, Michigan. He described a vacant lot in the city so overgrown with waist high weeds and bushes that one couldn't see the debris amidst the weeds. But in a recent investigation officials discovered a missing woman's body that had been shot to death. She was a law student and mother of three children. The troubled city is also headed for bankruptcy and the commentator referred to Detroit's state of affairs as "cultural collapse". As you consider the moral conditions of our land it seems like we see lots of evidence of cultural collapse.  Yesterday I spoke to a friend who is a township supervisor in a small rural PA township. He shared how he had talked to a veteran state police trooper who shared how he had never in his career seen conditions as bad they are presently and attributed it to the breakup of the family.

Something we see regularly are the persistent efforts of the secular progressives to tear down the foundations. One group making a lot of news is the "Freedom From Religion Foundation". It seems like a day hardly goes by when a group like this doesn't find some expression of Christian faith to be offended by and demands it be removed, often citing the Constitution, although such nonsense would have been unimaginable to those who founded the constitution.

As I consider the relentless efforts to tear down the foundations for some reason today's first verse comes to mind. I knew it was the account of Lot in Sodom and Gomorah but since it's a verse I've never given much consideration to I had to look it up. It describes the efforts of the deviants attempting to abuse Lot's heavenly guests (the passage is so sordid I'll simply provide the link.) Genesis 19

"They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door" (Genesis 19:9). This is a literal description of what took place but it also describes what we see happening in our land with the relentless efforts of godless forces to breakdown the foundations which made our country great, what is often called our Judeo-Christian heritage.

Over ten years ago I met Norman Hahn, a godly businessman here in Lancaster County. I recall visiting with him in his office and sharing our mutual appreciation for Norman Rockwell. We had both been to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Massachusetts
. He had several huge Rockwell paintings in his office. Norm and his family are part of a conservative Mennonite group in which we have many friends including our neighbors. They practice their faith very seriously.

Norm is retired by now but the business, Conestoga Wood Specialties, remains in the family, who seeks to live out their faith in their personal and business dealings. They have been in the news for the past year due to a case before the US Supreme Court. They are protesting an evil government edict which is forcing them to violate a core belief they have regarding the sanctity of life. That edict is that under the new healthcare law they must provide an insurance policy that includes contraception, including forms that are essentially an abortion. As a matter of deeply held religious convictions the company is taking a stand that they will not pay for such coverage. This is the case that is being considered by the Supreme Court. In June it will be another bellwether signal as to just how far down the road to apostasy our country will go.

As our government continues in its present evil course and bullyish tactics I expect that we will see more and more cases where taking a faithful stand for Christ and the truths of the Bible will come at greater cost.

Sometimes we shake our heads and think or say aloud, I can't believe this is really happening to our beloved country where we have known nothing but freedom of religion since our birth and since the birthing of our nation. It was the primary reason for its founding.  But then we look to the Scriptures and reality sinks in, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12). Often we may tend to interpret this in light of our personal trials such as sickness, but Peter initially had in mind the price one has to pay for being a Christian. See the verse in the context in 1 Peter 4:12-19.

As Brooksyne and I were preparing this message we were feeling the pangs of fierce disappointment in those who seek to govern our lives in opposition to the Scriptural teaching we seek to live by. Our hearts were heavy in discussion and then I opened my email and received a powerful recording from a reader in Canada. It was Handel's Messiah being sung at a mall in St. Johns Newfoundland, Canada.

As we were playing the YouTube video our hearts soared once again as the eternal words of Scripture were sung to the unsuspecting crowd of shoppers: "And He shall reign forever and ever, King of kings! and Lord of lords! King of kings! and Lord of lords! And He shall reign forever and ever, HALLELUJAH!" I looked at Brooksyne as tears were streaming from her eyes. Once again our focus returned to our eternal Savior whose kingdom knows no end. No one can thwart God's eternal plan for those who follow Him. HALLELUAH!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, the prince of darkness has captured the hearts of so many and filled our communities and country and world with great discord, deceit, fear, and hatred. We must not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among us, for it it part of the testing of our faith to see that it is genuine and lasting. Instead we must remain steadfast and firm, focused on Jesus. For at the future appointed hour the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ. And He shall reign forever and ever alongside the saints of all the ages and the angelic beings He created to bring Him praise, glory and honor. I long to be among the redeemed singing Your praises through all of eternity. Amen.

Some scenes from our travels yesterday.

Sam Smucker using reading machine 12/4/13
We stopped by to visit our friend, Sam Smucker, who in recent years has dealt with poor eyesight, and even worse now. He was pleased to show us his new reading machine which greatly magnifies the words on screen. Can you identify the Bible verse on the screen?

Amish fire recovery near Intercourse, PA 12/4/13
On Tuesday an Amish woodworking shop burned down near Intercourse, PA. Yesterday we drove by and sure enough a large group of Amishmen were working to clean the site up early yesterday morning demonstrating their commitment to community.

Window farm scene
We stopped by a touristy type gift shop in Intercourse and saw this nifty idea. This is actually a fake window with a 42 inch tv behind with a video loop showing farm scenes, in this case a cow pasture. I suppose if you lived in the city this could give you the sense of living out in the country!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hallelujah from Handel's Messiah"
  Video  Many of us have seen powerful videos like this at various malls. Last year I shared one from the Macy's in downtown Philadelphia. A Canadian reader sent us this one from a mall in Saint Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. It's a powerful reminder in light of today's message that "He shall reign forever and ever!". Here's the version from the Macy's in Philadelphia. We have been to this Macy's which features the largest pipe organ in the world. Here's a photo we took. This is not a church but a departmment store!

Grand court pipe organ in Philadelphia, PA
The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ built for the 1904 world's fair, is the largest operational pipe organ in the world. It's located at Macy's Center City, formerly the Wanamaker's department store in Philadelphia, PA. For an example of this organ being played see here.

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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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