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Monday, September 11, 2017

Church traffic near Mount Gretna, PA 9/10/17
We had a beautiful Sunday drive through rural Pennsylvania yesterday to the Teen Challenge Training Center. Though it might take a while longer to reach our destination I find myself wishing I was sitting on a bench in an open wagon on such beautiful days.

"The Imperative Of Living Carefully"

Note: Today there are several newsworthy events that we are aware of such as the 911 anniversary and the hurricane. Today's message, although not specifically about either of these two matters, sure is appropriate.

Message summary: Today how can we live carefully and make the most of every opportunity to express our faith in Christ? As we are open to the daily opportunities God provides for us, seeking to make the most of them, we are living as those who are wise and fortifying ourselves against the evils of our day.

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"'Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is" (Ephesians 5:14-17).

Yesterday I spoke to a group of men in recovery at a Teen Challenge chapel. Most have lived in various types of destructive addictive behavior. I spoke to a man who had just completed the 30 day detox program. He earnestly wants to finally find lasting freedom from his longstanding battles with heroin addiction.

At the conclusion of my message I prayed for a group of them who came to the front for special prayer. I urged them to consider that their prior way of life does not determine their destiny. Today's verse presents
an outstanding expression of truth that would be a good verse for them to memorize. Actually, it's a good verse for all of us to memorize.

Brooksyne and I did so many years ago. What a somber expression of reality, as vitally needed today as when the Apostle Paul wrote it nearly 2,000 years ago. "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." The Amplified Version renders the verse: "Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil."

1) We need to be very careful how we live. Our enemy, the devil, goes about like a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour. Many have lowered their guard but we must resist him by standing firm in our faith. Regardless of how old we are or how "mature" we may be in our faith this call to careful living is ongoing.

2) We need to live "not as unwise but as wise." We need "the wisdom that comes from heaven" (James 3:17) and this will increasingly be contrary to the wisdom of the world. Remember the old saying, "What's popular may not be right and what's right may not be popular." Jesus never let the desire for acceptance or popularity among His hearers dictate the truths he disclosed or errors He refuted. Now it seems so many let the world dictate. I just read a true-to-life satire blog about a church, "promising to lower its doctrinal standard to meet whatever any competing congregation believes." *

3) We need to make the most of every opportunity. As God's people seeking to live out our faith in these evil days we need to make the most of every opportunity, which the KJV translates as "redeeming the time." These opportunities abound for the Spirit led, earnest follower of Christ. This week we will share a story about acting redemptively.

4) The days are evil. This was true when Paul wrote the passage and it's also true of each succeeding generation including our own. In seeking the true wisdom that comes from heaven I want my eyes to be open to the evil, not blinded by it.

Today how can we live carefully and make the most of every opportunity to express our faith in Christ? As we are open to the daily opportunities God provides for us, seeking to make the most of them, we are living as those who are wise and fortifying ourselves against the evils of our day.

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we could be driven to despair in the midst of the evil that surrounds us if we didn't walk in the light of Your truth. We walk in the true wisdom that comes from heaven, not in the flawed wisdom that comes from the world. Help us to make the most of every opportunity to stand up for divine truth in our minds, through our speech and by our actions. Help us to be faithful in passing on our faith to the next generation. We want to be the light that shines forth in the creeping darkness of our land so that we can show others the way to eternal life. In the name of Your dear Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Old Windmill Farm team mules 9/9/17
These team mules have been working hard at raking alfalfa.

Lancaster Barnstormer game 9/9/17
Do you remember how exciting it was to go to a big league baseball game as a child? For me it was the Kansas City Athletics playing in the old Municipal Stadium. Well, of course, the minor league Barnstormers in Lancaster is not big league but these children enjoyed being out. Ester and I brought along five of our Amish grands, (as we like to refer to them since they're like family). Their dad was unable to break away from the demanding farm work and Brooksyne was home freezing six dozen ears of corn for the winter.  We were there for the biggest crowd of the season with over 8,000 in attendance.

Church traffic near Mount Gretna, PA 9/10/17
Another view of a road leading down to Mount Gretna, PA on our way to the Teen Challenge training center yesterday.

Clydesdale horses at Clipper Stadium 9/10/17
Yesterday afternoon, following the Teen Challenge service we went to the Lancaster Barnstormers game again since Ester wanted to see the Clydesdales who were in attendance in honor of 9-11. (Ester likes to catch photos of the Clydesdales when they're showing off their teeth - probably cared for my horse dentists.)

Lancaster Barnstormer 911 tribute 9/10/17
They had a very nice tribute to the first responders, especially remembering 911. However, being out to the game the night before, we didn't stay long since we were sort of baseballed out.

Zimbabwe mission team roof workers
Some of our friends are on a missions trip in Zimbabwe where they are working with the national church in putting roofs on four church buildings. These men are in their seventies and eighties! On the far right is Jake Shenk who has served as a missionary in Zimbabwe since 1958. He grew up in the farm house we first lived in when we moved to Lancaster County in 2001.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Preach The Word"  Video  Gold City

"Truth Is Marching On"  Video  Gold City

"Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning"  Video 
Alan Jackson A moving song concerning 9-11 suggested by Ester

* Local Megachurch Now Offers Belief-Matching Guarantee (the far too likely to be true satire piece referenced in the message today)

Finally today:

Canna lilies 9/9/17
We're nearing the end of our growing season so Brooksyne took a photo of her dark purple canna lilies that take front stage in her line up of flowers and shrubbery. These flowers got almost as tall as our second story windows this summer!

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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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