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Monday, August 22, 2016

Kraybill Church Road, Amish church parking 8/21/16 Click to enlarge
Yesterday morning before we left for church we heard buggy traffic on our road and we knew what that meant. Sure enough following our church service we drove around the corner from our house and our Amish neighbors, Christian and Annie, were hosting a church service in their home.
(Click on photo for larger view)

"This Is My Story"
"Here I Raise My Ebenezer"

Message Summary: 
My goal in serving Christ is further realized since I have now walked with Him for 45 years. But the completion of my goal, to follow Him all the days of my life, will be fully realized only when my time of transition comes, "safely to arrive at home."

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12).

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Most of you have sung the lyrics posted above but may not immediately recall the name of the song. Many probably have never considered the meaning of the words, "Here I raise my Ebenezer" sung in the second verse to the hymn, "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing", penned in 1757 by Robert Robinson who was just 22 years old at the time.

Today is my spiritual birthday and each year on this day I like to share my story and give testimony to God's continuous redeeming work in my life. For long time readers my words may appear redundant but for new readers I'd like to share my testimony. Forty-five years ago I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

I was raised in a home where we attended church weekly. In fact I remember my long string of "Sunday School perfect attendance" pins. But it wasn't until I was in High School that I clearly recall being specifically challenged by Christ's claims upon my life and the need to personally repent of my sin, accept and seriously follow Christ. Like many, I assumed I was a Christian based upon my church background or being "good" in comparison to those I perceived as "bad."

After a clear presentation of the Gospel I knew better. After hearing the salvation message, I didn't accept Christ initially but continued to live in rebellion for a while. During this period of time I was very aware that I had not submitted my heart to Christ.

As I was wrestling with spiritual matters God used a song, popular at the time, titled "I Wish We'd All Been Ready". Each time I heard the words it brought conviction to my heart. I knew I wasn't ready. Many of you "old-timers" have probably heard the song and I place a link to a video clip below.

On August 22, 1971 I was persuaded to attend a large convention in Kansas City, Missouri where an evangelist by the name of Lowell Lundstrom preached. In the evening service I was convicted of my sin and convinced of my need for Christ. I walked forward and placed my faith in Christ.

In August 1968 Brooksyne attended an evening service at youth camp in Sapulpa, Oklahoma just west of Tulsa. She was amazed and her heart was stirred as she viewed about 300 young people worshiping the Lord with upraised hands. They filled the altars after the sermon praying out to God for hours. She went back the next night and from that point never looked back to her casual attitude about Christ. God did a miraculous spiritual work in her heart. She attended youth camps every year until her graduation and it was at camp that God spoke to her about training for ministry upon her graduation from high school.

Our testimonies in one sense can be summed up by the simple phrase in the daily text, "Thus far has the LORD helped me." (changed to first person)

Samuel served God some 3,100 years ago as the last leader during the period of the Judges. In fact he anointed both Saul and David as kings. Samuel served his generation faithfully, overcoming dangers from without and apostasy from within (falling away from the faith).

In today's text he made a tangible memorial to God's faithfulness to himself and the people.  He set up a stone and named it Ebenezer (which means "stone of help"), and using that meaning applied it to the nation stating, "Thus far has the Lord helped us." That must have been a wonderful moment and it's my testimony today. I raise my Ebenezer and personally proclaim, "Thus far has the Lord helped me."

When Robert Robinson wrote the line "Here I raise my Ebenezer; here by Thy great help I’ve come" he was surely referring to this Scripture text and declaring his faith and resolve in serving the Lord.

Whether you know the date of your spiritual birthday or not (and I realize many do not), have you placed your faith in Christ? Are you faithfully serving Him today? We sure hope so! We encourage you to raise your Ebenezer and join Samuel and me in proclaiming, "Thus far has the Lord helped us!"

My goal in serving Christ is further realized since I have now walked with Him for 45 years. But the completion of my goal, to follow Him all the days of my life, will be fully realized only when my time of transition comes, "safely to arrive at home."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank You for Your wonderful salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ. You created in my body a thirst and hunger for physical food just as You created in my soul a hunger and thirst for spiritual food.  My soul thirsts for You, the living God. As I drink from Your living water my soul's desires are satisfied. I am refreshed as I taste and see that You are good and that Your mercies are everlasting and very personal. As I partake of the Living Water and the Bread of Life I am led by Your hand. I am no longer my own, for I have been bought with a tremendous price – Your Son, Your only Son, who gave His life that I might experience forgiveness for sin.  My heart and my flesh, they may fail, but You are my strength and my portion for ever and ever.  Amen.

Many have sought to condense the gospel message into a simple presentation followed by a sinner's "prayer" such as "The Four Spiritual Laws", "Steps to Peace With God" and more recently the "Need Him" website. These formulas can be very helpful but in my view can also have some detriments:

1) They essentially present the claims of the gospel but since they vary a bit people can stumble as to there being one right formula and more specifically the way to say the "sinner's prayer". i.e. "Did I say it just right", "Did I cover everything" etc.
2) Some place their faith in having heard the formula and saying the prayer. I've seen more than a few give little thought to following God after this initial step. In fact I suppose if everyone who ever went through one of these formulas or responded to an altar call at some point in their lives were totaled we would refer to the vast majority of people in America as "Christian"!

A Christian is one who believes in Christ, has repented of sin, who follows Him, and applies the Scripture to his or her life.

Lowell Lundstrom
Evangelist Lowell Lundstrom, who preached the Gospel the night I got saved passed away July 20, 2012 (obituary). His wife Connie passed in December 2011. He remained faithful as an evangelist till his death. On several occasions I saw Lowell since the time of my conversion and was pleased to share of his impact on my life and he was equally pleased to hear it. The last time I saw him was in 1998 when I just happened to meet him at the KC airport following my dad's death. I was returning home and he had a connecting flight.  He provided some comfort and perspective in sharing that my dad was taking an early flight.

He had a long faithful ministry.

1) Lowell preaching the Gospel as a young man similar in age as the time he preached when I was converted in 1971. Video segment

2) He shared his testimony in this message in 2010  Video

Pastor Keefer preaching 8/21/16
Our pastor, John Keefer, is bold in addressing current events that many may avoid as being too controversial or politically incorrect. In yesterday's sermon he challenged the congregation to remain steadfast to Christ and the Bible in a changing America. His message was "Reasons We Should Not Be Ashamed of the Gospel In Our Changing America" based on Romans 1:16-17 and a selection from Matthew 10:1-42.

His main reasons were:
1) Christ has called us
2) Christ has equipped us
3) Christ has prepared us.

A favorite line from Pastor's message: "No ruling from the Supreme Court can ever put Jesus back in the grave!"

Picking sweet corn at Pierces 8/21/16
An abundant corn harvest at the Pierces. They blessed us with about five dozen ears so Brooksyne has her work cut out for her this evening. (Surrounded by corn: Ken, Nila and Brooksyne picking the biggest ears they could find of Incredible corn.)

Sheep along Junction Trail 8/21/16
Late yesterday afternoon we walked the nearly five miles of Lancaster Junction Trail.  I am pleased that the last couple of weeks the severe pain in my back has subsided completely but I was sure weary from the long walk! Brooksyne does more walking than me so it was no big deal to her and she has been blessed with abundantly good health.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Jesus Saves"  Video  The Booth Brothers with the Collingsworth Family  WOW!!!

"Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"
 Video  All Sons & Daughters

"Blessed Assurance"  Video  The Isaacs

"My Story"  Video  Big Daddy Weave

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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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