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Monday, June 9, 2014

Willow Valley Chapel
Willow Valley Chapel, Willow Street, PA

"Power To Be My Witnesses"

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"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Ascension DayYesterday churches around the world celebrated Pentecost Sunday. Many consider Pentecost Sunday to be the birth of the church. At the suggestion of a senior member we sang "Happy Birthday" to the church, something neither Brooksyne or I ever recall doing before in our church backgrounds!

The Amish and old order groups take the identifiable days of significant events in the Bible very seriously including Ascension Day, which for some reason doesn't get a lot of attention in most churches, perhaps because it falls on a Thursday.

The Amish also acknowledge Pentecost Day and take the next day off to be with family and friends.

Day of Pentecost
Before Jesus ascended into heaven He promised the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and stated very clearly the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit in our daily verse. It can be summed up in the phrase, "Power To Be My witnesses."

Some 724,000 days have passed since the initial outpouring when God's Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 who gathered in the Upper Room. Yet today the Holy Spirit continues to empower men and women, young and old to touch people for Christ even to the ends of the earth.

Today, most of you do not have the day off like the Amish. You may be at work and have left the spiritual comfort zone of your church and entered the mission field God has called you to.  Many of you are surrounded by people who curse and blaspheme God. Increasingly, people may mock and revile you because of your stand for Christ. These are the very people that God has empowered you to be a witness to!

The rubber is meeting the road when you are in their presence. God has called you to BE a witness (Gr. "martus").  Now this will certainly include the verbal defense and explanation of our faith. However it really involves all that we are; Christ's character being formed and demonstrated in our lives.

It is God's plan to continue to fill His people with the Holy Spirit even as He did in the book of Acts. Peter preached a great sermon following the initial outpouring in Acts 2 and 3,000 people were saved!  We need the power of the Spirit today. In examining Peter's sermon we note that God gave Peter power to proclaim the Gospel message and he demonstrates four characteristics we need in our witness:
  • No one has power to proclaim unless the Lord gives him strength to stand up (Acts 2:14).
  • No one has power to proclaim who leaves the Scriptures unopened and unused. Notice Peter's use of Scripture in his sermon (Acts 2:17-21, 25-28 and 34,35).
  • No one has power to proclaim whose life is not centered on Jesus (Acts 4:13).
  • No one has power to proclaim unless the foundational message of the Gospel is shared.  Peter stuck to the basics.  In Acts the main things are the plain things (believe, repent, be baptized, be filled with the Spirit, walk with Jesus). Let this be true in our own life and witness. (Acts 2:42)
Today the power for being His witness is still available and so needed. We pray that we will all be filled with the Holy Spirit and bear a faithful witness for Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, it would seem that we would become orphans of the faith when Jesus departed from the earth and ascended into heaven. But You did not leave us comfortless or without guidance. Instead Your Holy Spirit empowers us so that we can effectively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through Scriptural teaching and through our godly example. Help us to be faithful in our walk and witness in the mission field You've appointed us to.  In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Patty Kurtz with the WebersLast Monday we shared a story about Patty Kurtz. Yesterday we visited Longwood Manor where we saw Patty in the dining room. She patted the seat in the empty chair beside her indicating that I was to sit down  so we could talk. As mentioned in my writing last Monday talking with Patty is like playing a game of charades. "A...BIG...THANK...YOU" she repeated and dramatized about six times before I finally got her message. Due to cerebral palsy Patty's ability to speak clearly is a challenge and she speaks in a halting and labored type of speech. On Friday last week she was able to read the story we wrote about her and she put it like this, "I...was...o-ver-whelmed" as she took her index fingers and wiped the tears that fell from her eyes.

"From...the... bot-tom...of...my...heart... I...was....touched" she said repeatedly. With the dramatization and repetition of her words I got the intended message. When she placed her hand below her stomach instead of her heart each time I finally said, "Patty, that's your belly not your heart". She sputtered, grabbed my hand, and started her usual laughing beyond silly. I told her we received such nice notes from our readers regarding her story that I was going to add this note today. She responded with big words and big movements, "NOW ... I ... AM ... REALLY ... O...VER...WHELMED!!"
If you didn't read about Patty you may just want to hit the link to her story above and learn about our friend.

Today we share some scenes from Lancaster City. Generally each week in the course of our chaplain visitation we pass through the heart of Lancaster.

Central Market, Lancaster, PA
Friday we stopped by Penn Square at the heart of Lancaster and Brooksyne bought some fresh produce in Central Market. Central Market is the oldest continuously operating farmer's market in the US.

Central Market, Lancaster, PA
Inside the Central Market.

Brooksyne playing street piano at Penn Square in Lancaster city 6/6/14
While in Lancaster Brooksyne played a public piano on Penn Square. She played several Christian songs since that's about all she knows. One song comes to mind that seems so fitting for any passersby, should they know the words:

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

Do any of our readers recognize from this verse the title of the hymn? (See below for answer)

Brooksyne playing street piano in Lancaster city 6/6/14
Playing another public piano near the old southern market.

Brooksyne playing street piano in Lancaster city 6/6/14
Yesterday we sat back a few rows from our usual pew in church. Opening the hymnal from the rack in our new spot we saw an interesting record some diligent church member kept. He or she apparently had sat in that spot for many years. All through the hymnal the songs and readings were marked with the date they were used. It made for some interesting perusing. We found apparent church favorites among them by the frequency of the dates recorded. (Looks like the song we sang yesterday was a favorite). We also note the dating stopped about the time the PowerPoint came in but do not know for certain this is a factor. In our church they project all the songs on the screen including hymns although they also reference the hymn # for any who may choose to sing from the hymnal.
(Brooksyne's note: It may have also been a hymn book that made its way to a pew rack that had been used by the main song leader in the past who kept track of the selected hymns since that's what good songleaders do, attempting to have a nice variety of hymns over the years.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God "  Video 
Keith and Kristyn Getty Even apart from the wonderful lyrics the violin solo in the beginning will bless you.

"Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart"  Video 

"Spirit Of The Living God"  Video   FFH   (stands for "Far From Home) is group with roots here in Lancaster County.

In the first photo of Brooksyne playing the street piano we shared a portion of the old hymn, "Rescue The Perishing". Here's a nice version on video.

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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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