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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Amish family pulling garden cart 9/26/15
We never weary of seeing our Amish neighbors and their various means of conveyance and resourcefulness. This family had rigged their Vermont Garden Cart to use as a trailer to haul neck pumpkins.
(Click on photo for larger view)

"Lord, Grant Us Boldness"

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"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness" (Acts 4:29). "And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31). "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold" (2 Corinthians 3:12).

Called to be bold
We visited last week with a pastor friend who is in a denomination where the culture wars are raging. A segment in his church denomination are rejecting clear Biblical teachings to plunge into the abyss of modernism. Others, like him, are remaining faithful and contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). He shared with us how the Lord has given him a resurgence of boldness in his preaching to take a stand for righteousness. Praise the Lord for preachers like this!!!

I read an interesting and very spot-on analysis in, of all places, a comment section of a blog by a man named Roger that speaks truth to our current climate. "
Hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence) is the official and politically correct religion of our society. Strangely, many Hedonists live in denial as they want to redefine God and Christianity to agree with them. They do not want to admit that their worldview is man-made. Also, the same people that have been screaming for decades that you cannot legislate morality want to legislate morality. The spiritual blindness, logical inconsistency and hypocrisy is amazing."

George Barna
Pollster George Barna contends that while many theologically conservative pastors agree the Bible speaks to key issues of the day, only a handful of them admit they will speak to it. "What we're finding is that when we ask them (pastors) about all the key issues of the day, 90% tell us, "Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues". Then we ask: Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues? – and the numbers drop ... to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it."

The biggest hindrance is the cost of taking a stand. At the least we might find people don't like us, they might leave our church and others may never choose to attend our church. A sinister narrative has developed that equates speaking Biblical truth on issues of morality as "hate speech". I recall a quote, "Truth is 'hate' to those who hate the truth."

Of course the cost can be much greater than simply being accused of "hate speech". Throughout history many have given their lives by going against the secular climate of their culture.

Elisha the prophet Brooksyne has taught children since Junior High School and has stored up many funny memories over the years. Once she was teaching on Elijah and described Elijah as a bold man. Making sure that the pre-schoolers understood her, she asked, "Who can tell me what the word, 'bold' means?" Little three-year old Mandy quickly waved her hand in the air and blurted out, "It means he don't have no hair."

Actually it was Elisha who at one time was mocked for being bald (2 Kings 2:23). Both he and Elijah demonstrated a boldness in living out their life for God, as have millions down through the ages.

The daily text is from a portion of Scripture when the disciples first faced persecution following the Day of Pentecost. Their petition was not for a removal of the persecution nor the appeal for an easy life. Jesus had made it very clear they would face opposition and they seemed to have accepted this hard teaching. Instead, the heart of their prayer was this, "Enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness".

That prayer was answered as the Spirit-empowered disciples went forth and "began to speak the Word of God with boldness". The next chapter records continued and increasing persecution and ends with this summary, "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ."

Then the focus turns to Stephen who, even as he faced his stoning, boldly proclaimed Christ. The list goes on through the remainder of the New Testament and throughout the church age; men and women boldly declaring their faith in Christ, standing against the
hedonism of our day and "proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." Let us continue in our day to "speak Your word with great boldness"!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, in this depraved generation, darkness is sweeping across the land. At one time morality and virtuous behavior was applauded, but we now live in a time where good is called evil and evil is called good. Those who uphold Biblical truths are seen as archaic, old-fashioned, unenlightened, and even backward. May we not be confused by where the line crosses Your perfect will for our lives. We know in our hearts that teachings or lifestyles that defy Your holy Word is evil, not good. Enable us to "speak Your Word with great boldness" like Peter on the Day of Pentecost. May we not be intimidated or allow ourselves to be bullied into a position that contradicts that which is revealed in Your Holy Word. We rely on the power of Your Holy Spirit to live out our lives in a way that honors You. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Speaking of boldness:  Yesterday morning I (Brooksyne) walked with my neighbor as we try to do once a week. We often talk about the things of the Lord though our Christian backgrounds are very different. She, being a very conservative Mennonite, is quite reserved in speaking to others outside her church about the Lord. In the course of our conversation she said, "Brooksyne, I thought of you the other day when I was talking to the father of a boy that's in my daughter's class. He has lots of problems and I told him that if he would start going to church it would help him with his problems." In hindsight she chuckled as she said, "You would probably tell me that I should have witnessed to him about finding God, rather than finding a church." She said this because she later found that he was already in a church yet not living according to God's teachings.

It led to further discussion about being bold in our witness. I shared with her about a turning point in my public witness to others. About 30 years ago a woman named Sally, who had many difficulties and overcomings in her Christian life, would regularly stand up in church and with a huge smile say, "I love Jesus". Jesus was always at the center of her conversation and witness. She told me one day, "When I talk to my clients about God they nod their heads and pretty much act as though they're going along with me. But when I speak about Jesus many of them grow uncomfortable and want to end the discussion."

Like my neighbor who was comfortable talking about "church" but it would have stretched her even more to talk about Jesus, I was comfortable talking about God as I witnessed to others but I rarely talked about Jesus. It changed my witness approach and made me more bold to declare the name of Jesus who came to die for us, rose again from the dead and evermore lives making intercession for us.

Perhaps you can't relate to this, but if you do, speak about Jesus more openly until it becomes a regular part of your conversation to outsiders, especially those who need to be saved.

Amish buggy on Rt 222 9/26/15
Amish children watching out the back of the buggy ready to return a friendly wave to the passing traffic.

Amish buggy on Rt 222 9/26/15
This buggy had to make a sharp left on busy US Route 222

Corner Acres Mums 9/28/15
On our walk yesterday morning my neighbor and I visited with the Amish couple who own Corner Acres Nursery at the end of our road (corner of Kraybill Church Rd. & Colebrook).  I wish I could have photographed their three children petting Roxie - they were timid at first but Roxie soon won them over. John was delighted that I photographed their flowers and I offered to print a photo for them.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Courageous"  Video  Casting Crowns

"Where Did Our Boldness Go?"  Video 

"Preacher Tell Me Like It Is"  Video  Greater Vision

"Preach the Word"  Video   Gold City

Finally today:

Autumn decorations at the Weber house 2010
Today's lead photo features an interesting use for the Vermont Garden Cart. Here's a view of the cart in front of our home at the peak of autumn several years ago. We were driving home from church and spotted this garden cart alongside the road with a "Free" sign. Just to make sure the cart was really free (since we considered that perhaps there had been free produce in it that had all been taken), Brooksyne went to the door and asked if they were giving the cart away! The answer was "yes". The owner even came out and helped us load it into our van. Turns out it was an original Vermont Garden Cart made in Vermont and it's great for lawn work as well as a decorative feature.  Free's good, especially when it costs $359.95 new! Here's a videoVermont Garden Cart

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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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