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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lancaster PA church 5/23/17
A church in Lancaster City PA from the top of the Convention Center parking lot.

"Spiritual Amnesia"

Message summary: "Spiritual amnesia" is something we all battle against.

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"Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God" (Deuteronomy 8:11a). "Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?'" (Joshua 4:20,21).

Last night we attended a banquet sponsored by "Hope International" a ministry that impacts the world for Christ by assisting locals in many countries with "microfinancing". It is a wonderful ministry concept and the testimonies we heard were very encouraging. Basically Hope International follows the concept of teaching how to fish rather than just giving away a fish. They provide small loans to get an individual started in a business. It is expected the loan be paid back and those funds are in turn used to microfinance other projects.

Last night the ministry celebrated it's 20th anniversary. The founder, Jeff Rutt was a dairy farmer turned home builder who initially had a burden to assist the impoverished people in Ukraine following the collapse of the Sovet Union. He did not want to create dependence but resourcefulness. It's a ministry model in fighting poverty that is very effective.

Savera is a single mother from Rwanda who discovered her God-given dignity through the ministry of Hope International.  In Rwanda women have great difficulty obtaining a loan so when Hope reached out to her in 2006 she moved from very small scale farming to starting several businesses that employ 50 people in her community. She testifies: "I gained a great relationship with God through my struggles of poverty. I learned to lean on God with a little or a lot."

12 stones Last night the present ministry leader, Peter Greer, cautioned  against "spiritual amnesia" by making a pile of stones. Of course he was especially applying this concept to the Hope International ministry and remembering what God has done over the last twenty years.

However "spiritual amnesia" is something we all battle against.

The stone concept comes from Scripture and is most familiar in the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan river
Joshua 4. We enjoy a storytelling song by Legacy Five titled "Monuments" that expresses this Bible account and we will use verses from their song in our message today (video link below).

God's people stood on the river of Jordan
Looking back on the water they had passed through
They shouted and raised their voices to heaven
But Joshua said there's one thing we must do.

They laid twelve stones on the banks of the river
At Gilgal they offered their tribute that day
Their children would question them, "What are these stones?"
"Child, they mark the spot of this sanctified day."

As we study God's Word we notice how connected and cognizant the people of God were with their past and how throughout the Scriptures God instituted reminders for them. However as we observe contemporary man we are struck by how many know so little about the past and even more stunning is their lack of interest. Monuments or Memorials are visible markers intended to remind us. In the Old Testament and for Jews to this day the most important reminder was the Passover. For Christians the most important is the Lord's Supper.

Here's the setting of the daily text: After Moses died Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land in Joshua 3. The crossing itself was another miraculous intervention from God. He parted the waters 40 years earlier at the Red Sea and had done so again at the crossing of the Jordan River which at the time was at flood stage.

Joshua 4:21
Joshua 4 records a special monument that was instituted after the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. God instructed Joshua to set up twelve stones as a monument. He anticipated that future generations would ask about this stone monument: "When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?'"

He instructed the Israelites to answer the question by recounting the story of God's wonderful deliverance that had just taken place, "so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever" (Joshua 4:24).

There are several other monuments in the Book of Joshua that often involve stones. In fact, immediately prior to his death, Joshua set up a stone (Joshua 24:27) as a witness in regard to his powerful challenge to the people in making the daily choice to serve God. "And the people said to Joshua, 'The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey'.”

We have two challenges for our readers to consider today concerning monuments in your life:

1) Do you recall certain "stone piles" in your life that remind you of God's faithfulness? These may be either purposefully set up as the 12 stones from the Jordan River in Joshua's time or they may be a divinely ordained event in life. What a blessing to recall these "stone pile" monuments standing as a reminder of God's faithfulness and our commitment to follow in His ways.

2) Do you have "stone piles" set up as monuments for those who come behind you? These may be specific memories of God's help, places, items or people that prompt the question, "What does this mean?" Perhaps it's a spiritual journal, a book of answered prayers, a picture that signifies God's miraculous provision, or perhaps a former "help" needed such as a leg brace before God provided divine healing. We do this so "that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever."

Perhaps we all need to set up some monuments within our lives and be ever on our guard against spiritual amnesia!

Mothers and fathers of this generation
there's hope for your family keep this in mind
Don't move the landmarks set up for your children
they will find the way by what we've left behind.

Where are the monuments we should be leaving
so our children can find the way to get home
We should be laying stones so they can follow
the pathway that leads to God's throne.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily prayer: Father, I marvel at the trace of Your hand in my life. If I were to speak of the "stones" of deliverance and provision the first and most important "stone" would be the moment You delivered me from darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of Your light. You took the uncertainties of my life and gave me an eternal purpose for living. I am so grateful for the solid, reliable "stone" of salvation that is the starting point for the path of stones where I've seen Your hand in my life as I've experienced Your deliverance, provision and faithfulness every step along my pilgrim journey. Step by step, Lord, You walk with me on this straight and narrow path that leads to life eternal upholding me with Your righteous right hand. Amen.

Hope International Banquet

Hope International Banquet 5/23/17
The event was held in downtown Lancaster at the Marriott Lancaster Convention Center.

Hope International Banquet 5/23/17
Prior to the banquet last night the ministry had a conference and Hope International participants were in from all over the world dressed in their native apparel.

Hope International Banquet folk dance 5/23/17
African folk dance

Hope International Banquet 5/23/17
It's always nice to be in a large crowd with others who have a heart for ministry and especially invigorating when so many are young people!

Hope International Banquet 5/23/17
We sat at a table of Convene members. Convene is a business organization we associate with that equips business owners and leaders to honor Christ. Last night three Convene group chairmen sat at our table. Our main Convene contact is Ron Hoover (right side in back). He has been very supportive of our ministry, encouraging his group members to use our chaplaincy service.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Memorial Day weekend is coming up and we remember those who have gone on before us, especially those who paid the ultimate price in giving up their lives for our freedom. Of course for many of us it will also be an occasion to remember our loved ones who have passed on.

"Monuments"  Video  Legacy Five This song (quoted in the message) speaks of the monuments we must leave for our children to find their way home. "Don't move the landmarks set up for your children so they can find the way home."

"Heroes Of The Faith"  Video  Legacy Five

"Hidden Heroes"  Video  The Talleys  Today we consider all the people making a difference who receive little attention for their labor. This song shares a great perspective.

"What You Leave Behind"  Video  The Talleys

Convene - An excellent organization for business leaders pursuing excellence and striving to honor Christ. Here's the page for Ron Hoover.

Hope International   

"What's in Your Hands?"  Video  A very well-done video describing the mission of Hope International.

The leader of the ministry is Peter Greer who many years ago shared this insight in the following blog article:

Toxic Charity: Lessons from Bob Lupton

May 7, 2012

I recently had the opportunity to hear Bob Lupton, author of Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It), speak at the co-lab conference in Chicago.

I was especially struck by his take on the receivers’ response when we offer charity:
· Give once and you elicit appreciation;
· Give twice and you create anticipation;
· Give three times and you create expectation;
· Give four times and it becomes entitlement;
· Give five times and you establish dependency (Lupton in Toxic Charity, p. 130).

The system of charity is broken: Necessary for short-term relief, charity is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken bone. As Lupton says, long term it reinforces the underlying issues of poverty—hopelessness, powerlessness, and helplessness. Affirming the superiority of the giver, it subordinates the receiver.

As Christ followers, we are called to something better. Christ came to break the cycle of spiritual and physical poverty. Therefore, let’s not create dependency. Instead, let’s encourage the poor to use their God-given talents and skills. Let’s uphold and affirm the poor’s dignity.

Finally today:
Kissmobile 5/23/17
Guess where else we were yesterday!

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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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