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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Horses on Kraybill Church Road 2/26/17
Horses grazing on Kraybill Church Road on a peaceful Sunday afternoon, the day after the $7,000,000 storm struck Lancaster County.

"A Consideration On Coolness"

Message summary: May we all have a deep, abiding assurance that we have been accepted by the One who matters most.

Note: Today's message is longer than usual but as we began musing on the topic it just got longer and longer!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God" (Romans 15:7).

Yesterday morning I received a call from a man we befriended when he worked in a company where we serve as chaplains. He was dismissed due to his alcohol abuse but in recent years he has been sober. On Saturday the house he was living in was destroyed by the storm and now he's looking for a place to live
. He's a poor soul with many needs. I was blessed that he would call me and hopefully I was able to encourage him. Several years ago he left me a memorable voicemail informing me that I had been helpful to him in his overcoming alcoholism.

I may not be rich
Don't wear fashion clothes 
Don't live in a mansion
Don't have much that shows
Never won a contest in popularity
Don't have much to offer
But Jesus loves me
I'm accepted, accepted
I'm accepted by the One who matters most

Years ago, Andy Crouch, a
columnist for Christianity Today, shared a story about being at a church planting conference. He met a 25-year-old pastor who was starting a church specifically created for cool people. I have never read how that worked out. One aspect of "cool" is that it tends to be fleeting since what is trendy today will be replaced tomorrow. Older folks, remember how groovy it was to say, "Groovy!" or "That's groovy!" or "That's really groovy!" to just about everything you saw or heard!

Church sign in Rohrerstown, PA

We appreciate the witness on many church signs but found this one we passed in Rohrerstown, PA. a telling sign of the times. (Name of church purposefully cropped out!)

Are you "cool"? Now if you think I am inquiring about the temperature of your surroundings you're definitely not "cool". Young people tend to be very cognizant of what it means to be cool. Of course that varies from year to year and from generation to generation. I suppose each generation from the beginning has had coolness indicators.

Never set a record in sports agility
Never was magnetic in personality
That don't really matter
I'll do the best I can
'Cause there's a God above me
Who loves me like I am
I'm accepted, accepted
I'm accepted by the One who matters most

Levi jeans tagI remember when I tried to be cool. One indicator of coolness when I was in high school was wearing Levi jeans. That was the kind of jeans the cool kids wore at the time. They had some distinctive markings such as a tiny red tag on the back pocket. Now, my mom was depression-era thrifty and didn't buy me the brand name jeans so I wasn't wearing the jeans deemed cool! She sure wasn't going to pay more for a meaningless little tag; the Rustler jeans from Montgomery Wards worked just fine, in her mind and on my growing body.

Rusty old pickup Stephen tells the story of his mom keeping him in his place. My dad had a way of doing that as well. My family of seven lived very simply as Daddy drove a local truck for Armour Meat Packing in Tulsa, OK during my elementary/junior high years. He was quite a wheeler dealer trading in one old worn-out vehicle for another. When I was in 7th or 8th grade he had acquired a beat-up, old pickup truck that looked like it had been pulled from the salvage yard dump (it may have been since he spent alot of time at salvage yards). He worked on the truck so that he got it running and one morning he told Mom that he would take my sister Elaine and me to school instead of our riding on the school bus. Horror of horrors, he announced that he would take us in the old, dilapidated gas belcher! Back in those days there would be no argument, no matter how strongly we felt.

The truck backfired every few blocks as it sputtered down the road but at least it hadn't stopped running in the middle of an intersection. As we approached the school we offered, "Daddy, you can drop us off here in front of the library" which was several hundred yards from the school. But he, wanting to teach us a lesson about humility, drove right to the front entrance of the school where all our friends were hanging out, and dropped us off there. I had worked a long time to be seen as "cool" at my school but Daddy was going to destroy that very image with our mode of transportation that morning, especially as he tooted his horn upon leaving.

Old cell phone
Being cool is a fleeting condition of acceptance according to the fickle cultural conventions of the present. This acceptance is based on externals such as apparel, hairstyle, tech accoutrements like having the latest smart phone. Pity the poor kid who has to use one of those ancient flip phones. Certain vehicles are cool and some aren't.

In many circles being cool includes participating in the destructive ways of the world. The pressure to participate in order to be cool, popular and accepted is at times overwhelming, especially to young people.

Throughout the message today we quote the lyrics from a song titled "I'm Accepted" by DeGarmo and Key that really addresses this notion of being cool and popular. It first came out some 25 years ago but looking at the lyrics you see things have changed very little. (We post a link to a video of the song below.)

But maturing comes with age, for most of us, and there comes a point in life where you are not driven by what others think, as to whether one is "cool" or "not cool".

If you think you're a loser
When you fail it seems at everything you do
Just remember there's a Savior
And you are worth enough
He gave His life for you
I'm accepted, accepted
I'm accepted by the One who matters most

Fist pumpI can't find any verse in the Bible about being cool or any such similar concept as we use the word today. Samson had some characteristics that were probably seen as cool by his peers, but we know how his life worked out. A young David was surely considered cool after his victory over Goliath and even had songs written about him. It must have been cool when the three Hebrew boys walked out of the fiery furnace. I can just see them making a fist pump!

But I have a hard time using this word to describe the Lord Jesus Christ, who was stripped of His glory, cast off and forsaken by the very ones He came to save.
I don't believe "coolness" was included in His mission statement as He descended from heaven.

Look at just three wonderful words in the daily text, "Christ accepted you". This truth is so liberating! That's what I want to receive deep in my spirit so that it matters far more than whether I am accepted by those who choose the kingdom of this world over the kingdom of heaven. For those who are hurting, who feel rejected by others remember this: "Christ accepted you". After all, He created you and wants you to have a deep, abiding assurance that you have been accepted by the One who matters most.

And because we are accepted by Christ we are called to accept one another which brings praise to God. As you live out your life in this hurting world may you be an ambassador of heaven, our future eternal dwelling place, as you show God's love to others.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we have been accepted by Christ which gives us great purpose in our very existence. Likewise, we are told in Scripture to accept others in the same way that Christ accepted us, and in doing so we glorify You. It's easy to belong to a clique or want to run with the "in" crowd, but You want us to love and accept others, not by the world's criteria or by what is considered trendy or cool, but because many are looking for acceptance and instead face rejection. Help us to seek out the unlovely and undesirables instead of looking for those who are seen as the ones who might make us look even better to those around us. Help us to love others as You love us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Baby goats looking for their Mama 2/28/17
Baby goats looking for their mama

Amish team 2/28/17
Traffic on Ronks Road

Amish horse 2/28/17
An old race horse now used on an Amish farm.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I'm Accepted"  Video   DeGarmo & Key
  (This is the song quoted in today's message)

"In Heaven's Eyes"  Video  Praise Hymn Tracks  This song has a great line, "In Heaven's eyes there are no losers"

"The People In The Line"  Video  
The Talleys  A song reminding us to seek to be aware of the hurting people around us.

"The Broken Ones"
   Video  The Talleys

"Worship Pastor fired for not being “cool” enough"  Today's message prompts a consideration of a humor blog article I wrote ten years ago. It's satire but far too true.

"I’m Accepted by The One Who Matters Most" Here's a thoughtful blog post written using the lyrics to "I'm Accepted"

"Thou Shalt Be Cool"  I found the article by Andy Crouch referred to in the message deep in the CT archives, (unfortunately just a preview). Crouch is a colorful writer and here is an excerpt:

"Groovy. Ouch. Awesome. So 1980s. Phat. Who you trying to fool, fly boy? The approbations of popular culture have a limited half-life, and the wrong word can mark you as a fossil of some blessedly forgotten decade.

But there is one word in the English language that has defied the rise and fall of fashion. Cool endures.

Part of my job involves attending numerous conferences on ministry. Incidentally, I've started to classify these events by dress code and the amount of hair gel used by the men in attendance. Khakis and sweaters and the natural look? Must be a megachurch training event. Brilliantly polished leather shoes and close shaves? T. D. Jakes is sure to be on the roster.

Anyway, at a recent distressed-jeans, multiple-piercings forum, I'm talking with a 25-year-old pastor who appears to drive up the average hairstyling bill in the room by several dollars. "Yeah," he says, "we're starting a church for cool people."

Cool people?

"Yeah, you know, people like us." (He doesn't mean himself and me; he means himself and his friends—all of whom do indeed exude a level of coolness that I could only dream about.) I fleetingly envision spot checks at the door—Old Navy allowed only on probation, white sneakers politely referred to the contemporary service down the street—but decide that coolness is probably self-enforcing.

Later in the weekend, after one of my presentations, he admiringly says—I swear this is an accurate quote—"You know, dude, you may not have cool hair, but you have some serious clue." (What a relief—the cool kids like me!)

Now, I promise that 15 years from now, my interlocutor will neither sport his current hairstyle nor use the phrase "serious clue" with a straight face.

But I'll bet that he—and I—will still say 'cool.' ..."

The article is dated March 15, 2002 so fifteen years have passed and he's right, we still say "cool"!!

Finally today: Brooksyne's recollection of her dad dropping her off in an old pickup brings to mind this modern commercial.  Video  I guess things really don't change!

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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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