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Friday, August 22, 2014
Yesterday we drove through the Bitzer's Mill Covered Bridge over the Conestoga River. We always enjoy driving through the many covered bridges here in Lancaster County.
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“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).
In 1976 the late Chuck Colson wrote a book simply titled "Born Again" which is the story of his dramatic conversion to Christ. In August of 1973, with the Watergate prosecution preparing its case against him and the press corps circling like sharks, Colson knelt on the floor of the office of Raytheon CEO Tom Phillips. While Colson fought back tears in an embarrassed state of silence, Phillips prayed for him and for his soul to be saved. The media were, of course, cynical about his conversion and assumed it to be a ploy to reduce his sentence or even to be acquitted. Skeptics expected that, after his release from prison, he would leave his Christianity behind. Not so, for he became one of the key voices in evangelical Christianity and a friend to those imprisoned along with their family members through the Angel Tree ministry.
I met Tom Phillips in a meeting in Boston about 15 years ago who, as best as I can determine, is still living. Most all of us who are born again can recall the person(s) that God used to lead us to Christ. I was blessed by Colson's ministry for years; reading many of his books as well as hearing him speak live on several occasions and listening to his broadcast on "Breakpoint". Following his conversion he certainly lived a life of spiritual fruitfulness evidencing his conversion in 1973 right up until his entry into heaven on April 21, 2012.
Forty-three years ago today, as I was preparing to enter my junior year in high school, I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Several months earlier I had been confronted with the Gospel message through the witness of my older brother Pat who became a born again Christian while in the military.
But I initially rejected Christ's claims on my life. Those were rather miserable months as the Holy Spirit worked in my life to convict me of my sin and my need for Christ. On Sunday evening August 22, 1971 I reluctantly went to an evangelistic service in a convention hall in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The preacher proclaimed the Word of God, the Holy Spirit dealt with my heart, and that night I accepted Jesus Christ into my life and became "born again". Like Colson I have sought to "bear fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matthew 3:8).
Our first daily text are the words of our Lord to Nicodemus. This is the primary verse most of us recall when we consider the Bible's teaching concerning being born again.
In 1 Peter he is writing to the believers in the first century church. Like us, they had never seen Christ during His earthly ministry (1 Peter 1:8) but at the proclamation of the gospel they had believed in Him for their salvation. Peter says they "have been born again", the same term used by Jesus when He witnessed to Nicodemus. This is one of the Biblical terms used for conversion.
This new birth is "not of perishable seed, but of imperishable." This indicates the spiritual, eternal dimension of the work of the Spirit and Word of God in our lives.
Note these two powerful qualities of God's Word:
1) The Word of God is living. The writer of Hebrews uses this very phrase when he says the "Word of God is living" (4:12). The living God imparts spiritual life through His living Word. I once read the story of a street evangelist who had placed his hat on the ground and drew a crowd by pointing at it and shouting, "It's alive". When a group had gathered around him he lifted up his hat to reveal a Bible!
2) The Word of God is enduring. The Psalmist wrote, "All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal" (119:160). No other written work comes even remotely close to the Bible in its enduring qualities. Peter concludes the chapter with this powerful truth: "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."
Today we join hundreds of millions of believers around the world who are born again; those who are reading and applying the truths of Scripture; those earnestly seeking to "bear fruit in keeping with repentance". Many will be proclaiming this life-giving Word to others as I am through this encouragement message. And today scores of highly dedicated translators will be working in the remotest areas of the world to translate God's Word so that all might know of God's love and His redemption plan.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: "O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come!" How powerful and enduring Your Word is. It is ever-living, ever-relevant and ever-active in the lives of believers all over the globe conviction people of their sin and calling them to repent that they might be born again. More than just print on a page, the Word of God penetrates the heart; guiding, instructing, convicting, delighting, comforting and performing Your supernatural work in our lives. Increase our love and passion for reading Your Word faithfully so that we may grow in understanding and appreciation for all You have to show us. We seek to bring You glory as we witness to others that we are born again. We pray that our lives "bear fruit in keeping with repentance" as a visible witness to others of Your awesome lifechanging power in our lives. Through Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.
Our day began early yesterday with a visit to a home improvement company. This is a partial view from our friend Marlin's office. It only gets prettier as you look to the large farm to the right (not pictured) During the late summer season many of the farm buildings and houses are "corned in" as they say around here. It is inspiringly beautiful as you travel the roads and farm lanes and see the healthy tall corn and other vibrant fields of produce.
You never know what types of conveyance you will encounter on the roads in rural Lancaster County!
Another view of the convoy. These friendly old order Mennonites each waved to us as we passed them on the farm lane.
Lancaster County roadside stands vary from beautiful to very simple such as this one we passed yesterday on a back road. We did purchase two huge cantaloupes from these discarded grocery carts at $1.00 each
Brooksyne bought a bushel of peaches at this old-order orchard east of Ephrata, PA. She has her work cut out today so I'll help in other areas to free her up for canning. Next week maybe we'll probably share some canning photos!
We enjoy visiting with DJ Paglia, a preacher friend here in Lancaster County and also a fellow chaplain. For many years he and his wife have served Keystone Wood Specialties, a local cabinet maker. What's especially remarkable is that DJ and his wife Anna Mary are approaching their late eighties! He is preaching three weeks in a row in a local church here in Mount Joy and brings joy to so many folks.
Ester took this photo at the Elizabethtown Fair of some old machinery adapted to sharpen pencils!
Elizabethtown Fair: My brother, Mike, took this photo of a wagon jack made in Maytown in 1771, used to hold the wagon up when the wheels were removed. (Maytown is just a couple miles from our home where we serve as chaplains in a nursing home.)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Born Again" Video Homecoming Singers
"Since Jesus Came Into My Heart" Video Homecoming Singers
Born Again" Video Evie Karlsson We recall this song by a much younger Evie back in the late seventies when we heard her at a large Jesus Festival called Fishnet event in Virginia. Video
"How to be Born Again" a short article by Billy Graham
Colson reflects on his conversion to Christ 35 years earlier. Article
When shopping we both tend to keep an eye out for clearance items but we thought we would pass on this one. You would think if Lowes really wanted to clear this item they could do better than dropping the price a penny!!!
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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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