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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lebanon County farm 2/3/15
Yesterday we passed this farm in Lebanon County, PA.
It was a cold but very pleasant
day and included a walk through the snowy woods near the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

"The Pattern Of Sound Doctrine"

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"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance" (Romans 6:17). "Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:13). "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2).

Philip BongiornoI was ordained in 1979 and still recall a solemn reading of Scripture verses from 2 Timothy that our District Superintendent, Phillip Bongiorno, read at the service. Standing in a long line with other ordinands holding my Bible and facing the congregation it was a lifelong memorable experience. Bongiorno, who is still living, is a short Italian man with a booming voice. He didn't rush through the reading but slowly enunciated each phrase and sometimes a single word, pausing at times to let them sink in.

"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

What a powerful Scripture selection! Today I especially consider the phrase,
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine."

The mission of the faithful minister of the Gospel in each generation is to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 3). That is, obeying from our hearts, the pattern of sound teaching and words.

This pattern of sound doctrine is established in Scripture. It has been expressed by the Church down through the centuries in creeds, catechisms and doctrinal statements. It is a declaration of what we believe.

The Greek word for "sound" is "hugiaino" which gives us our English word hygiene which of course refers to "clean or healthy practices".  It connotes healthy, sound, wholesome, free from flaw, defect or error and emphasizes the absence of disease, weakness, or malfunction.

Bible commentator Albert Barnes describes sound words as "words conducing to a healthful state of the church; that is, doctrines tending to produce order and a due observance of the proprieties of life; doctrines leading to contentment, and sober industry, and the patient endurance of evils (trials)."

Today we so need faithful proclaimers of sound doctrine, not swayed by emotional hype or the patterns of this world and it's passing fancies. "The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:17).

A.W. Tozer, who died over 50 years ago had such insight in the condition of the church. He wrote, “Increasing numbers of [Christians] are becoming ashamed to be found unequivocally on the side of truth. They say they believe, but their beliefs have been so diluted as to be impossible of clear definition.”

Let us resolve to faithfully follow and proclaim the pattern of sound doctrine as established in the Holy Scriptures! Like the Romans may we
"obey from our heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed our allegiance".

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:  Father, we as followers of Christ must be careful to follow the Bible's pattern of sound teaching. At times we find ourselves arguing with Your truths and teaching from Scripture, our thoughts being at odds with Bible teaching that doesn't fit in with the views and lifestyles we've chosen which are patterned after the world's thinking. Yet You are the Author of truth, You know that which will bring us good and that which will bring us harm. Help us not to read and interpret Scripture so that it aligns with our view point, instead we want to align our view point in accordance with the Scriptures. We want to love You with all our heart so that we will follow the pattern of sound doctrine and walk in accordance with the Scripture. Amen.

Yesterday we received a note from Bob, a pastor from Vermont, in response to our message "The Pattern Of This World". "Being a Romans 12:1-2 disciple means that everything that we do comes back to just that one focal point - THE CROSS. see Galatians 6:14, "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

Phillip Bongiorno 1/2/14
Early last year I visited for a few minutes with Phillip Bongiorno at a funeral. He was my District Superintendent practically the entire time I pastored in Pennsylvania from the late seventies till we moved to New England in 1993. Now in his eighties he is still as sharp as a tack and inquired about my family. He is a wonderful preacher and almost always begins his sermons with a brief testimony concerning his salvation, which he would share with tears. As I recall, prior to his conversion to Christ, he had an association with the Mafia!

Ed and Gladys Berkey
Today's memory of Phillip Bongiorno prompts another one. Edward Berkey (front of table) served as the Superintendent of our Southern New England district when we pastored in Taunton, MA.  He conducted the installation service for us when I began the pastorate there in 1993.  He has inspired many pastors and laypersons as he has diligently served the Lord in a pastoral role over the years and he continues to have speaking opportunities. He and his wife Gladys spend the summer months in Ocean City, New Jersey and make their home in Sarasota, Florida through the winter. We had dinner with them in New Jersey several years ago along with our friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt. From L to R, Dorothy Schmidt, Gladys Berkey, Jim Schmidt teasing Ester, Brooksyne, and Ed Berkey in the front.

Aren't you thankful for the colors that birds bring to our world!

Cardinal in snow (Photo by Doris High)
Doris High shares this photo of a pot bellied male cardinal on a snowy branch.

Blue Jay (Photo by Doug Maxwell)
Our neighbor, Doug Maxwell, snapped this Blue Jay photo

Colorful birds (Doris High)
Red, White and Blue!
Another Doris High photo

Colorful birds (Georgia)
Our cousin Georgia took this photo in December 2010. Any reader know what kind of birds these are. We don't see them in our feeding stations.

Gold finches in snow (Click for larger view)
These goldfinches are enjoying the feeder in front of our barn.
You can click to enlarge this photo and see one coming in for a landing!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Ancient Words"   Video  Michael W. Smith

"How Firm A Foundation"  Video  Wendell Kimbrough

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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