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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Morris PA 8/16/15
A wispy cloud in the tiny
mountain village of Morris, PA

"God People"

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul" (1 Peter 2:9-11).

Fresh air child
In our forty years of service for Christ I have been described in a lot of different ways such as "preacher man". For a number of years we hosted children from New York City as part of the "Fresh Air Fund" program during the eighties. This gave inner city children a brief respite in a rural area. Since our church had a number of host families in our community that was quite white our fresh air children who were mostly black or Hispanic were quite identifiable. One year we hosted a little boy who had quite a spunky personality. Someone asked him who he was staying with and, not being familiar with the term Pastor, he pointed to me and informed them, "I'm stayin' with 'da boss of 'da church".

Chaplain visit But on a recent chaplain visit we were described in a different way. As business chaplains our practice is to walk through a company and briefly visit with each employee right at their workplace, expressing personal interest and ongoing care. Most are very receptive and over time we build many lasting friendships.  But there are a few that are not interested in talking with the chaplain lest a fellow employee think they are getting "religious". We are not pushy and when it is evident they prefer to keep a distance we respect their space. After all, the chaplaincy service is an optional benefit to the employees.

Chaplain visitWe recently visited a company that hires a lot of temporary workers depending on the work load. Brooksyne introduced herself to a new female who shared that she was going through a very difficult time. When Brooksyne offered to pray she eagerly accepted and they shared a brief prayer right at her work site.

The employee expressed appreciation and then told her that when another temp co-worker
saw us enter the building she said to her, "Here comes the 'God people'". She came up with a work chore that took her to a different part of the building to avoid seeing us when we walked through! It's hard not to take that personally since we want acceptance from everyone and many express to us how much they look forward to our visits. After all, what's not to like about us? ;) But in reality there are various reasons some people avoid those who represent Christ while there are others who look to us for encouragement, direction, comfort, prayer and friendship.

"God people" is an interesting description. She would have been more Biblically accurate stating "God's people" which we unashamedly are! Today's Scripture text identifies us as just that.
"Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people". Other versions use the phrase, "people of God". As God's people we seek to "declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light." Although we are not pushy or preachy and seek to sow seeds in a winsome manner we nevertheless still face rejection by some for various reasons.

1 Peter 2:10

What is it about our presence that make some less than receptive or perhaps in some cases offensive?
Of course in most cases we don't know. This is a question those of us in ministry wrestle with from time to time.  The prophets sure faced rejection as well as the Apostles. Of course so did Christ (Isaiah 53:3).

But here's a fundamental consideration: Our very presence is a visible reminder of God and may be troubling to those living in rebellion against Him.
We will explore this next week in a message based on John 3:19 in which we contend that many people are affected by spiritual troglomorphism.

Billy Graham playing golf I recall a story I read many years ago concerning Billy Graham in R.C. Sproul's outstanding book, "The Holiness Of God". Billy Graham was playing as an amateur in a Pro-Am tournament. It just so happened that one of the more notorious bad-boy golfers on tour was matched to play with Billy Graham. A friend of the golfer thought this humorous and kidded with the PGA golfer about it. After the round, the friend saw the PGA player on the practice tee hitting balls in a furious anger. So he rushed out and asked him, “What did Billy Graham say that made you so mad?” The golfer replied, “He didn’t say anything!”

The point of the story was that sometimes our very presence, as a committed believer, can be a source of conviction to those living in rebellion against God. It is one of the ways we are salt to the world.

How do people describe you? How do you handle rejection?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, once we were not a people, but now we are Your people; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received Your mercy. Because we are recipients of Your mercy we want to show mercy, kindness, and love to others who sojourn with us from day to day. The passions of the flesh wage war against our soul, but the passionate fire of the Spirit burns deep within our soul and ignites a desire within us to share Your Word that calls people out of darkness and transfers them into Your wonderful, everlasting kingdom of light. As people of God help us not to falter but to be faithful messengers of the gospel wherever we go. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

I also found this golf story about Billy Graham.

Billy Graham and Bob Hope were friends, and both had a passion for golf.

T.W. Wilson, one of Billy Graham’s associates, remembered walking along with Billy and Bob on the golf course. Both men had hit bad drives, and their golf balls were over the edge of the woods. Bob hollered out to Billy, “Hey, Billy, help! I’m in trouble!”

T.W. tells what happened next: “I’m not exaggerating a bit. Billy, whose ball was over in the edge of the woods, hit the ball, and it wasn’t a good hit. And it hit the water, and bounced off, and went right on the green about four to five feet from the hole, and of course Billy won the hole.”

That night Bob Hope said to an audience, “I played golf with Billy Graham today and he really taught me a lesson. His golf ball walked on water.”

More photos of Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon and Pine Creek Rail Trail.

A Plain family on the Pine Creek Rail Trail 8/16/15
We conversed with many plain people over the weekend and turns out they were all from Lancaster County. This couple gave us permission to take their photo as they walked the Pine Creek rail trail pulling their youngest children in the wagon. They also assisted their older daughter as she was just learning to ride her bike!

Split rail fence along Pine Creek rail trail 8/16/15
These volunteer weeds catch your eye as they are blown about by a gentle breeze along the split rail fence that parallels the Pine Creek rail trail!

Red Church in Blackwell, PA
A little red church in Blackwell, PA

Pine Creek in Pennsylvania 8/16/15
View of Pine Creek from Rail Trail
(Click here for brief video taken by Brooksyne. One way to relax is to close your eyes and listen to nature's white noise of flowing water and chirping insects!)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"His Marvelous Light" (1st Peter 2:9-10)   Video   Scripture Memory Songs

"We Are God's People"  Video  Unidentified choir

We are God's people, the chosen of the Lord,
Born of His Spirit, established by His Word;
Our cornerstone is Christ alone,
And strong in Him we stand:
O let us live transparently
And walk heart to heart and hand in hand.

We are God’s loved ones, the Bride of Christ our Lord,
For we have known it, the love of God outpoured;
Now let us learn how to return
The gift of love once given:
O let us share each joy and care,
And live with a zeal that pleases Heaven.

We are the Body of which the Lord is Head,
Called to obey Him, now risen from the dead;
He wills us be a family,
Diverse yet truly one:
O let us give our gifts to God,
And so shall his work on earth be done.

We are a temple, the Spirit’s dwelling place,
Formed in great weakness, a cup to hold God’s grace;
We die alone, for on its own
Each ember loses fire:
Yet joined in one the flame burns on
To give warmth and light, and to inspire.

"The People of God"  Video  Wayne Watson, a popular "contemporary" song when we were young! I looked him up and he is still faithfully serving Christ. He's just one week older than me (Stephen), so he's still a "young man"!

With our lips, let us sing one confession.
With our hearts, hold to one truth alone.
For He has erased our transgressions;
Named us and called us His own, His very own.

We're the people of God, called by His name;
Called from the dark; and delivered from shame.
One holy race, saints everyone;
Because of the blood of Christ Jesus, the Son.

So Hear us, O spirits of darkness.
So you will know where we stand.
We are His servants purchased with scars;
Bought by the blood of the Lamb, the blood of the Lamb.

"Another Time, Another Place"  Video  Amber Nelon Thompson & Michael English (Another Wayne Watson song)

Finally today:

Billy Graham childhood home
Today we shared a story about Billy Graham in an illustration. Lee, a friend of ours, whom we saw at our early morning chaplain visit told us about his recent visit to the Billy Graham Center in Charlotte NC. He and family members were greatly inspired by the powerful ministry legacy of Billy Graham and his co-laborers. This is a photo of his childhood home. The glass cross in the barn certainly stands out and also doubles as the entrance.

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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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