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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Linden Grove School, Lancaster County, PA  9/21/16 (Click to enlarge)
Linden Grove School:  Yesterday we passed this one room school house in a bucolic setting where the children are sitting in circles eating their lunches on the lawn near New Holland. As we passed by we painfully considered the turmoil in so many other places including Charlotte, NC.
(Click to enlarge)

"Somewhere Between Doubt And Believing"

Message Summary:
"If you are somewhere between doubt and believing" describes a man in Jesus' time who cried out in honest confession regarding his vacillating thoughts about God's power to heal. When Jesus asked him about his belief he cried out: "I believe; help my unbelief!".

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).

Legacy Five
We've been enjoying a song by a group called Legacy Five titled "Ask Me Why". It tells the story of a lost soul that walks into church with, "a heart full of questions and a world torn in two, bearing the weight of years of regret."

We can all get a picture of this scene. Last week Brooksyne shared about her ministry to a lady who recently died of a drug overdose. We regularly encounter people whose lives are so broken and many of you do as well. They're are all around us and the degree of brokenness actually seem to be increasing.

The song has an intriguing line, "If you are somewhere between doubt and believing". How many of you can relate to this "somewhere between" expression of faith? For some it may describe your experience prior to conversion, for others a faith test during your journey of faith. Some of you may even identify as you read this.

"Somewhere between doubt and believing" also describes a man in Jesus' time who cried out in honest confession regarding his vacillating thoughts about God's power to heal. When Jesus asked him about his belief he cried out:
"I believe; help my unbelief!".

The entire story is found here:

"And someone from the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And He answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to Him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can? All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-24).

Mark 8:24
Today let us focus on the phrase, "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'I believe; help my unbelief!'” I've always appreciated the father's candor. He didn't make any pretenses; he was struggling. We might as well be honest since God knows our hearts anyway!

Rather than respond to this man vocally Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to leave the man's son proving His earlier statement to be true, "All things are possible for one who believes." He also had an instructive word for His disciples:

"And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, 'You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.' And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, 'He is dead.' But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had entered the house, His disciples asked Him privately, 'Why could we not cast it out?' And He said to them, 'This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.'" (Mark 9:25-29).

It actually seems that Jesus focused on the man's faith rather than on his doubt.* That can be a source of encouragement to any reader who may be "somewhere between doubt and believing."

One of the tips we give to those struggling with faith is to focus on the basics. As we exercise our basic faith in God it will grow and mature especially during trying circumstances.

This is also expressed in the hymn "Just As I Am"

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Yet I believe I speak for many, no matter how long we've walked with the Lord or the depth of our Biblical understanding, we still have unanswered questions which can lead to doubt. Our doubt will naturally lead us to unbelief if we're not careful to "Guard our hearts, for everything else we do comes from it" (Proverbs 4:23). To fortify and grow our faith in God we must earnestly seek Him and listen to the Word of God.

"If we want to strengthen our faith we need to be hearing God’s Word preached which is taken from the context of Romans 10:17, "So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". Realize that if we don’t hear people who teach true faith in the Word we are not going to build faith. We must also feed on the Word of God for ourselves. Jesus said "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Feeding on God’s Word builds faith. God’s Word is faith food. You must use the faith you have just like you must exercise a muscle for it to grow. Faith without works is dead." - Pastor Darryl Baker

Back to the song mentioned at the beginning of the message. The preacher says, "Friend, I have answers, for all that you're needing" and the chorus is a simple presentation of gospel truth.

Ask me who and I'll tell you it's Jesus
Ask me how and I'll say it's the Blood
Ask me where and I'll take you to Calvary
Ask me why and I'll tell you it's love

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He took away our sins through His shed blood on the cross. At thirty three years of age He completed the mission for which He came to earth, when He walked the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary where He would lay down His innocent life for the guilty sins of mankind. He did this because of His redeeming love for the human race. We know Who, how, where and why Jesus gave His all that we might be pardoned of our sin and receive forgiveness with the tremendous benefit of eternal life in heaven. Words are inadequate to express our gratitude for such wondrous, selfless, and redemptive love seen through Christ Jesus our Lord, so we express it in more than just words but with our very lives; for love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all. Amen.

"His disciples asked Him privately, 'Why could we not cast it out?' And He said to them, 'This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.'" It's interesting that the focus of the Lord's correction is not on the father, who admittedly struggled with his faith, but rather on the disciples. There is a stream of popular false teaching, often called "name it, claim it" which puts the necessity of faith on the person needing a healing or some other need met. These preachers assert if the one with the need has enough faith he or she will be healed or experience prosperity. And too often they have put people under guilt if their prayers are not answered. Of course some of these preachers have become quite prosperous preying upon the gullible!

Now certainly I am not saying it's not important to have faith when appealing to God to meet a need, but I have encountered preachers and ministries who are quick to pass judgment on the one having a need, with a sense "if you just had enough faith your prayer would be answered". I think this verse teaches they should look to themselves! I've often thought if they really believed what they preached why don't they just walk through and clear out all the hospitals! Another teaching that demonstrates this is the time when friends lowered a paralyzed man through a roof for healing. The text clearly states "And when Jesus saw their faith" (Matthew 9:2). That is, the faith of the men who did the lowering.

Come, Holy Spirit, my soul assure
relieve my fears that I no more,
may doubt the love of Christ for me

Pumpkin wagon, Lancaster County, PA  9/21/16
Pumpkins everywhere!
Yesterday we passed this pumpkin wagon along the Strasburg Pike and then noticed many others as we traveled. Many use pumpkins for fall decorations but far more use pumpkins in food products and beverages, including a fall favorite pumpkin spice cappuccino. We enjoyed buttermilk pumpkin pancakes this morning with Brooksyne using this recipe

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Ask Me Why"  Video  Legacy Five
  This version includes gospel presentation and background:

She slipped thru the door
sat on the last pew
A heart full of questions
and a world torn in two
Bearing the weight
of years of regret
She listened to the preacher
when he stood up and said
If you're somewhere between doubt and believin’
Friend, I have answers
For all that you're needin’

Ask me who and I'll tell you it's Jesus
Ask me how and I'll say it's the Blood
Ask me where and I'll take you to Calvary
Ask me why and I'll tell you it's love

Verse 2
It's been years since she
found amazing grace
It’s been a long journey
but each battle she's faced
Has proven God faithful
time and again
And the chance to tell others
who are right where she's been
somewhere between doubt and believin’
God has the answers
for all that you're needin’

"Ask Me Why"  Video  Legacy Five  This version has a dramatic presentation. Very well done though many people look far more broken than the lady in the video!

"I Believe, Help Thou My Unbelief"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

Finally today:

Wheelbarrow with holes 9/6/16
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a rather mindless goof I made when I poured ashes from a fire the night before into my plastic wheelbarrow. It resulted in numerous melted holes funneling the ashes down on the grass.

Dylan with scrap sheet metal piece
Yesterday Dylan, a friend from one of our companies, gave me a scrap piece of sheet metal left over from a manufacturing process.

Repaired wheelbarrow with sheet metal 9/21/16
I attached
the sheet metal piece with screws to the wooden handles covering the holes and now the wheelbarrow works fine. Had 15 years of life out of it already, perhaps I can get 15 more! (I suppose it's a little like the orthopedic doctor attaching some metal and screws to a broken bone so one can make use of that bone again for many years. It's been eight years since Brooksyne broke her ankle and benefits from such a repair, though it took her doctor many more years of schooling for his trade than mine of simply screwing sheet metal to a piece of lumber!)

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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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