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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Titanic Memorial 5/26/14
Titanic Memorial in lower Manhattan

"Making A Difference"

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"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).

On Monday while in lower Manhattan we rode by the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse. The inscription states, "This lighthouse is a memorial to the passengers, officers and crew who died as heroes when the steamship Titanic sank after collision with an iceberg."

Titanic Memorial plaque 5/26/14

The Titanic is probably the most famous, or infamous, ship in history. Like many, we have long had an interest in the Titanic, including a visit several years ago to the huge Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, which is a small scale replica of the Titanic.

But today we want to share a story about a less famous ship. I heard the story as an illustration at the Watchmen on the Wall meetings I attended last week and also found many blog articles that recount it drawing various spiritual lessons from it. So we make no claim to writing original material as we recount the story from several sources!

The story of the Titanic can never be fully told without also considering the Carpathia. Apart from the heroic efforts of this ship little would be known concerning the Titanic since all survivors were picked up by the Carpathia. The Titanic, which the owner claimed as “unsinkable”, went down in the freezing waters of the north Atlantic Ocean in the early hours of April 15th, 1912 after striking an iceberg.

There were two other large ships in the vicinity of where the Titanic sank, the S.S. Californian and the R.M.S. Carpathia.  The closer of the two was the Californian. She was close enough at hand at the time of the sinking to see the distress rockets, but the wireless operator had quit his post and so they never received the Titanic’s radio S.O.S calls. Captain Lord had retired and was awakened from sleep by a crewmember with a report of five white flares from a ship where the Titanic was known to be. But they thought it was just a party going on with fireworks, so the Captain merely instructed them to signal the other ship with their morse light, and never even thought to rouse their radioman. The Captain himself went back to sleep.

Here’s what was determined in the investigation later: had the Californian responded to any of the distress calls or signals, all of the Titanic’s passengers and crew might have been evacuated before they froze to death in the water.

Then there was this other ship, the Carpathia.  It was much further away from the Titanic, but it’s wireless operator was alert and heard her distress call. He notified the Captain, Arthur Henry Rostron, who immediateley gave the order to turn around and sail to the Titanic at full steam. Being further away it took the Carpathia several hours to get there, and many people had perished in the meantime – but every survivor who was saved that night was picked up by the Carpathia. The diligence of that Captain and crew is the only reason anyone survived.

Fanny Crosby
Many years earlier, actually long before the Titanic disaster Fanny Crosby wrote a song titled "Rescue The Perishing" which graphically describes ministry to a hurting and indeed dying world. It was written as a result of an experience Fanny Crosby had at the Bowery Mission, also in lower Manhattan. 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! Like the Carpathia let us heed His call.

The challenge to repent, believe and follow 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

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, the call to snatch the sinner from hell is similar to a fireman snatching one who would otherwise be engulfed in flames. We are in the soul saving business and our mission is urgent since time is running out. Just as a loving brother or sister reached out to us with the message of salvation we too want to do the same for others who are bound for hell. With the helmet of salvation as our covering and the sword of the Spirit as our guide we want to direct others to Christ to be saved from their sins. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.

New York City bike trip (2nd set of photos)

On Monday Brooksyne and I joined our friends, Lee and Pam Smucker, for a day trip to New York City where we rode our bikes through lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Here is a Google map with some of the spots we went to. We'll share more photos over the next several days. Lee is quite a navigator and knew where to park free, which as many know is very expensive in NYC. He also knew how to get around the city, something we would have found quite daunting. We arrived in the city around 9am and had breakfast together at the Cornerstone Cafe before embarking on our 16 mile bike ride.

Please note: I mistakenly had the link to the map of places we were set to private yesterday. My apologies to all who tried to get it to open!!! I think I fixed it. Use this link.

Elsie, a long time reader, commented on our 16 mile undertaking:  "I  can go you one better in NYC. We walked 26 miles one day along the Hudson. Never tried that again. Blisters for a while. I did enjoy it, however."

Tall ship on lower east side 5/26/14
Tall ships are always of interest to me.
These ships are on the lower east side on the East River.

Lower eastside street 5/26/14
A newly renovated sidewalk on the Lower East Side.
This area was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
The huge hanging plants on the lamp posts were attractive.

Freedom Tower 5/26/14
The new Freedom Tower is visible in many of our photos. It appears to be largely finished on the outside but a portion of the inside is visible in this photo.

Brooklyn Bridge bike path 5/26/14)
Beginning our long journey up the Brooklyn Bridge. In places it was very crowded!

Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge 5/26/14
A view of the lower Manhattan skyline from the top of Brooklyn Bridge.

Midtown Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge 5/26/14
The distant view of midtown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge. Midtown is where the Empire State building (barely seen in distance), Times Square, Central Park and many other well-known NYC sites are.

Tall ships from Brooklyn Bridge 5/26/14
The tall ships as seen from Brooklyn Bridge.

Tall ships from Brooklyn Bridge 5/26/14
Each of the lamps on the bridge had a bunch of locks attached to them.
City wants love-struck visitors to stop attaching locks to Brooklyn Bridge
(We visited the bridge Monday and I see this article was posted on Tuesday.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Rescue The Perishing"  Video  Billy and Cindy Foote   This couple does an outstanding job with this old Fanny Crosby hymn. Whoever put this together also did a great job of using related photos. Here's a video with the original tune.

"God So Loved the World"  Video  Charles Billingsley  We heard him sing this song at the Watchmen conference last week.

South Street Seaport: Manhattan's Tall Ships

NYC Bike Maps

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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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