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Friday, August 18, 2017

Brooksyne with baby goat on Old Windmill Farm 8/17/17
Yesterday morning we dropped by to see our friends at the Old Windmill Farm and Brooksyne held the baby goat born last Thursday. You can take the girl off the farm but you can't take farm out of the girl!

"Please Forgive Me"

Message summary: Today we urge you to make confession of sin a regular practice in your life. That's the heart and substance of genuine Christianity.

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"Pilate … took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. 'I am innocent of this man's blood,' he said. 'It is your responsibility!'" (Matthew 27:24).  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Pilot Sully Sullenberger
Considering off the top of my head famous pilots some very well-known names come to mind; Orville and Wilbur Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager and most recently Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who deftly landed a large airliner in the Hudson River saving many lives (Photo).*

As a child I (Stephen) attended a church that regularly recited the Apostle's Creed. When we recited the phrase, "suffered under Pontius Pilate", for many years, I thought that we were talking about a pilot named Pontius! I suppose  that would make him the most referenced pilot in history!

In the course of our chaplain visitation we get many interesting inquiries since we see all types of people from the disinterested to seekers to believers in many stages of Bible knowledge and maturity. An employee who reads this encouragement series asked, "When we turn to Christ for salvation do we need to confess every sin we ever committed?" Now if that were the case many of us would never reach the Amen in the "sinner's prayer"! We'd still be praying it when our name is called out from heaven!

I briefly explained that when we accept Christ we confess that we are sinners and accept God's forgiveness for all the sin we have committed, although at the point of our conversion, we may also have a specific gripping sin we confess as well. Following our conversion, as a Christian believer, the indwelling Holy Spirit will continue to convict us of specific sins, and it is in these matters that we confess our sins to God, ask His forgiveness, and seek His power to remove besetting sin from our lives.

Please forgive me
I need your grace to make it through
All I have is you, I'm at your mercy
Lord, I'll serve you
Until my dying day
Help others find the way
At your mercy, please forgive me

In the first daily text Pilate publicly washed his hands, but there's no evidence that he privately cleansed his heart. He sought to absolve himself of his responsibility in Christ's death, seeking to place that responsibility instead on the crowd.

But he couldn't. The ancient Apostles' Creed states, Christ "suffered under Pontius Pilate". Pilate thought the symbolism of washing his hands was all that was needed. How typical of the world's way, which so values symbolism over substance. That's the way of false religions and even many distortions of Christianity.

Symbols have some value and can be helpful as reminders of inwardly held faith. After I accepted the Lord as a teenager I was baptized and publicly professed my faith in Christ in the presence of other believers in a church in Independence, Missouri. I regularly participate in the Lord's Supper as commanded by Jesus before He died. I sometimes wear a cross on my lapel or a tie that has a witness for Christ. These are visual symbols of my faith in the Lord.

But I understand these symbols have value only to the extent that they reflect my commitment to Christ in the way I live my life. I find great personal value and often quote the second daily verse written by the Apostle John, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Now that's substance! Joy wells up within me as I share this liberating truth with you today.

Three interesting observations about this verse:

1) The use of the first person pronoun by John, "If we...". He's not writing merely to them; he is one of them.
2) "Confess our sins" means "to agree with or say the same word." When we confess we acknowledge God's perspective concerning our sin problem. The word is in the present active indicating our need to continually confess our sins as well as our absolute dependence on God.
3) "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" Now that's surely one of the greatest promises in the entire Bible!

Today we urge you to make confession of sin a regular practice in your life. That's the heart and substance of genuine Christianity.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we confess our sins to You. You are the One who cleanses our hearts so that we stand righteous before You through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is not in ourselves that we are made righteous, for our righteousness is as filthy rags as described by the prophet Isaiah. It is in Jesus' death and resurrection that we are forgiven of our sins. It is not by works of righteousness; it is not by doing that which is seen by others as commendable, but it is according to Your grace and mercy that we are saved, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

* Indeed these pilots came to mind off the top of my head but I did need to check the spelling on several!

Some Scenes On Our Journey

People will often say to us "You sure travel a lot". Although we do travel out of our home area, such as our trip to the Midwest last week, most of our photos come from right here in Lancaster or Lebanon County and we take them in the course of our chaplain visitation traveling from company to company.

Baby goat on Old Windmill Farm 8/17/17
After our first chaplain visit yesterday to Smucker and Sons we stopped by to see our friends at the Old Windmill farm where we took our lead photo of Brooksyne holding the baby goat. Here's the rambunctious gal trying to get out of her pen. They probably reason early on the grass must be greener on the other side!

Newborn calf with mom on Old Windmill Farm 8/17/17
This bull calf was born the previous night.

Lancaster County back road scene 8/17/17
Following a visit to Vallorbs, driving on rural roads north of Intercourse PA, we passed this family enjoying their spring wagon on a lovely summer day. The children must surely enjoy the open wagon as compared to being squeezed into the small box like buggy that has only one window in the back where the small children often peek through to wave at passersby.

Harvest fun in Lancaster County, PA 8/17/17
We passed this harvest scene north of New Holland, after Brooksyne's visit to Comfort Inn. We're unclear what these boys were harvesting but they were having a good time throwing it at each other. (Brooksyne's note: It reminded me of my childhood when Grandpa would gather my cousins and the neighborhood children and we would harvest his huge potato fields on the mountain in Arkansas. We'd pick up acres of potatoes that he sold at market. When we came across a rotten potato we'd often throw it at another picker; and then the potato fight would begin. We were already a dirty mess so what's a few rotten potatoes coming at you! It made the hot and hard work a lot more fun.)

Lancaster County tobacco harvest 8/17/17 (Click to enlarge)
We sure don't advocate for tobacco use but this was sure a pretty scene from the Val-Co parking lot. This Old-Order Mennonite family was working together with the mom driving the team. The dad and at least three children were picking up the leaves. (This photo will enlarge if you click on it)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Please Forgive Me"  Video  Jason Crabb

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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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