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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Star Barn raising event 7/3/17 (Click to enlarge)
Star Barn Raising Festival just outside of Elizabethtown, PA.
"The Star Barn is recognized as one of the most photographed and artistically painted barns in America. This grand architectural American treasure of Gothic Revival craftsmanship is an iconic window into our past." (From Star Barn website)
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"A Nation Without Sense"

Message summary: Let us, as Christ's true disciples, be people of conviction who will stand up for righteousness. Let's exercise spiritual discernment and God-given sense. By doing so our righteousness will exalt this nation and help to bring about spiritual change!

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"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them" (Deuteronomy 32:28). "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12).

Awhile back we saw a church sign in Lancaster city that had this thought-provoking message: "Freedom without boundaries is like a river without banks." Today is Independence Day here in America, a day when we especially consider our national heritage and the freedoms that we daily enjoy. However it seems we are increasingly becoming a nation without sense. We encourage readers who live outside the USA to apply today's challenge to the nation in which you live. In one way or another there's nowhere on earth this message would not apply.

Proverbs 14:34 describes two contrasting outlooks concerning the state of a nation in God's reckoning:

1) "Righteousness exalts a nation." Righteousness refers to a people who live according to God's holy standards as expressed in His Word. As people seek to live this way a nation is exalted or elevated; it is upright. Initially "nation" would have referred to ancient Israel but in a broader application "nation" is a present day political subdivision but the sense here is a people group.

A) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in a reverence for God. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He chose for His inheritance" (Psalm 33:12).

B) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in a respect for the Holy Scriptures. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

C) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in obedience to both the commands and prohibitions of God. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

D) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in recognition of God’s ordained order for society.
  • Individuals committed to God: We make Joshua's declaration of faith our own, "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
  • Foundational unit of marriage and family as established at creation. Jesus taught “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" (Matthew 19:4,5). God defined marriage at Creation.
  • Accountability to the Church of God.
  • The state recognizing divine or natural law.
  • A strong nation is made up of strong communities, which are made up of strong churches,  which are made up of strong marriages and families, which are made up of strong individuals.
2) "But sin is a disgrace to any people." A great definition of sin is stated in the Westminster Catechism, a helpful learning tool developed during the Reformation that taught faith by asking questions followed by brief answers. What is sin? "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God." Sin is a disgrace or, as translated in many versions, a "reproach". It stains, separates, and brings shame to the transgressor whether individually or to an entire nation.

Consider the disgrace of rampant sin in our country today; sexual immorality, redefining marriage, gender confusion, violence, abortion, idolatry, dishonesty, greed, deadly road rage, and so many other evidences of rebellion against God. It seems day by day that this disgrace increases and the pace has certainly accelerated here in the USA in recent years. What a weakened, pathetic spiritual condition our land is in. We desperately need a heaven-sent revival!

Deuteronomy 32:28 is written from the context of a nation under God's judgment summed up with this description, "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them". Our nation and many other nations in the West are in a great state of confusion as they have abandoned God's truth. It seems an accurate description is, "a nation without sense". In this verse God is prophetically warning of the future apostasy of the people of Israel, which culminated with their Babylonian exile some 800 years after this was spoken. Without the firm foundation of God's Word we are on sinking sand. The consequences may not be immediate, but they are certain.

Today we call to the people of God scattered throughout the world and encourage you to pray and live out a godly life against the grain of culture. As spiritual darkness spreads it brings about oppression and divisiveness, as it also infringes on our Christian freedoms. Jesus continues to call each of us as His followers to, "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

Let us, as Christ's true disciples, be people of conviction who will stand up for righteousness. Let's exercise spiritual discernment and God-given sense. By doing so our righteousness will exalt this nation and help to bring about spiritual change!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to live above the fray of this world as a people of righteousness set apart for Your purpose. We forsake the things of this world that bring disgrace to Your holy name and live for the purpose of bringing glory, honor and praise to You, our Father. We pray for our nation, for the turning away from our sins and turning toward the abundant life we find in Christ our Lord. You've called us to repentance and to share the good news of salvation to all who are lost. Help us to seek a fresh calling upon our lives to be obedient in this commission from Scripture. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Star Barn Raising Festival

Yesterday afternoon we drove over to Elizabethtown for a special barn-raising!

Star barn before relocation
For many years we passed a beautiful but decrepit barn on the highway to Harrisburg. The main barn, known as the Star Barn, was built in 1872, and is a five bay, Gothic Revival style frame building. It features an immense cupola atop a cross-gable roof. We recall the sign along the highway, "Help restore The Star Barn"

Star Barn raising event 7/3/17 (Click to enlarge)
David Abel, a local businessman with a passion for historic barns, bought the barn and relocated it to his property which includes a growing complex of barns near Elizabethtown, PA. Today they will complete the barn-raising with the roof
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Star Barn raising event 7/3/17 (Click to enlarge)
It's an amazing scene to watch the many workers keeping very busy using manual labor and modern machinery in putting up Star Barn framing.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Star Barn cupola 7/3/17
This view shows how massive the cupola is.

David Abel at Star Barn raising event 7/3/17
As we approached the buildings many visitors were studying the various barn-raising scenes and taking it all in. David (L) is so enthusiastic about his and his wife Tierny's major undertaking of restoring the Star Barn to its former glory he almost beams with joy as he answers the many questions visitors ask him. We know David Abel through our association with Convene and have a great deal of admiration and appreciation for his big heart toward children. He and his wife Tierny together are parents of 17 children, many of them adopted. David is owner of DAS Companies, Inc. is a full service marketing and global supply chain portfolio company based in Palmyra, PA. and the co-founder of Brittany’s Hope Foundation, the philanthropic arm of DAS Companies. Brittany’s Hope aids in adoption and humanitarian efforts worldwide. We are friends with a family who have utilized their services in adopting a daughter from Vietnam.

Civil War band at Star Barn raising event 7/3/17
Some of the Festival entertainment. These Civil War musicians took us back to a very critical period of our country's history. We sure hope we don't have to go through that again (see long note in "Finally today" section below).

Good Humor restored ice cream truck
This onsite vendor was interesting with his fully restored pickup truck turned into a classic ice cream truck
. He was fully uniformed in his classic ice cream man attire, on a 90 degree afternoon, including a coin counter attached to his belt.

Wheat shocks near Paradise, PA 6/29/17
It's wheat harvest here in Lancaster County and last week we passed these wheat shocks near Paradise, PA.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hear Us From Heaven"  Video  New Life Worship

Note: This morning we will be heading to Knoebel's Park along with Nathan and Neville, our Zimbabwean neighbor boys!

More info about the Star barn raising. Completion is planned for tonight (July 4), with the raising of the cupola and weathervane, followed by fireworks. The property is beautiful at night with many lights on the buildings. See here for gallery.

For local readers: This coming Sunday evening (July 9) The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers will be in Lebanon, PA for the Music in The Park summer concert series. See here for info. This is a free concert! (A free-will offering is received) We plan to go over with our Zimbabwean friends and perhaps we will see some of our other Daily Encouragement friends. Here's a sample of Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers music.  "I Won't Go Back"  Video  (The Singers are the traveling troupe of the more famous Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)  "Praise You"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Finally Today:

Yesterday I received a note from Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, a ministry we have long appreciated that has a similar perspective as today's daily encouragement:

It is a time of divisiveness in America that has not been seen since the late 1960s. Colleges and universities are once again hot spots for radical ideologies; riots are springing up, and conservative speakers are shouted down; American ideals are despised by a small but vocal segment of the population, and the American flag, seen as the symbol of those values, is spurned by them; and the hostility between the right and the left is white hot.

We might not be as badly divided as the America that fought on battlefields in the Civil War, but that no longer seems like an impossibility.

When Pat Buchanan, addressing the Republican National Convention in 1992, famously labeled this divide as a "culture war," he was ridiculed by the mainstream media for being on the "fringe." Now, no one doubts the accuracy of his assessment.

At its most fundamental level, this is not a war about mere cultural values or even public policies such as abortion, sex, or marriage. At its heart, this is a war over the subject of God.

Is He real? Is He the God of the Bible? Did He create mankind? Does He care what we do? Do His commandments apply to us in America? Will we all one day stand before Him in judgment? Does God judge nations as well as individuals?

These are the questions behind the rancor. They are questions that had, with minimal dissent, been settled at the founding of our country. Even those founders who were not Christian knew our nation could not survive without God.

They believed God had His hand on those who fought the American Revolution and that God had granted us liberty. They knew the constitutional republic that they eventually established could not succeed without an educated and involved citizenry, whose lives were anchored by what George Washington called the "indispensible supports" of "religion and morality."

Even as late as 1956, our national leaders validated that foundation when Congress adopted our national motto: "In God We Trust."

While we are witnessing the disheartening results of forsaking the founders’ wisdom, many Christians refuse to let this terrible tragedy destroy our nation. In fact, for the last 40 years, AFA has continued to inform, equip, and activate God's people to stand boldly and firmly against secular humanist attacks on the founding principles of America.

That is no exaggeration. The progressive faction in this nation believes that there is no God and thus no absolute morality. They reject the ideas of the Declaration of Independence, which famously states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

For the secularist, man is the highest being on earth, and the governmental state is the highest authority. Humanists believe that society's elites should make the decisions that are important, and human rights are granted by the state – not God. The America they are building has a different motto: "In Man We Trust."

For four decades, AFA has fought against every inch of encroachment by the secular humanist progressive movement. From earlier clashes over violent, profane, and filthy television programming on the nation's networks, to current threats to the safety of women and children in the bathrooms of Target, AFA has understood that all these battles are skirmishes in the war over God.

As long as we are free to do so, we will continue to fight in this culture war with the cherished help of thousands of like-minded, God-fearing supporters, who fight side by side with us.

There is only One who can reunite this disintegrating nation, but that can only happen when the hearts of this people are united to His. That has been the only route – for individuals, communities, and countries – to true blessing and peace. For that goal AFA exists; toward that end AFA will continue to fight.

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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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