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Monday, November 6, 2017

Horses along Trout Run Road 11/3/17
Horses along Trout Run Road that runs adjacent to Kraybill Church Road.

"The Corruption Of The World"

Message summary: Yesterday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church and many churches had persecution as a prayer and awareness focus. We don't know, but it's possible that First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs had it on their agenda yesterday morning. Either way, yesterday's horrific event, gave us a sense of what it is like to live in a persecuted setting; indirectly for those of us who learned about the massacre, directly for those in the line of fire.

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"By which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire" (2 Peter 1:4).

Jack Provard preaching 11/5/17 (Click to enlarge)
Yesterday we attended a small town church about 50 miles from our home. We went to hear Jack Provard, a long-time pastor friend of ours preach. We met Jack when we pastored in nearby communities in northern Pennsylvania over 25 years ago. Jack and his wife Milly are now in their mid-eighties and still active in service for the Lord. Jack's message yesterday was based on the daily text and the very great and precious promises of God. It was spiritually uplifting to be reminded of these promises!

But as Jack preached and I had my Bible open to the passage I also found my thoughts drawn to the latter part of the text, "having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire".

We visited with Jack and Milly along with David and Roslyn Ramsey, a Guyanan couple, following the worship service before heading home. As we drove home we listened to the latter portion of the Calvary Church sermon which broadcasts every Sunday live on the radio (WDAC). We've been attending Calvary Church for over 6 months now and have appreciated the Bible teaching from the senior pastor Beau Eckert. He is in a series called "The One Story" and is presently dealing with "The Beginnings" and yesterday's message dealt with the Fall of Man. While listening I again recalled that Scripture phrase, "corruption of the world", and began to consider how that began.*¹

Only a couple of hours later we heard about the horrific, practically unimaginable, shooting massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Not only the connection with the church, the horrendous killings of innocent church attendees, but also the location which is close to where Brooksyne's sister lives grasped our full attention. Through the evening we followed the news reports and talking heads, including some preachers. Any explanations are wholly inadequate but still people try and I suppose we want that. But how do you explain what is simply unexplainable and indefensible?

Early reports indicate the act was not terrorism, in the sense that it was not backed by an organized group or ideology, but that dismissal always bugs me. Of course it was certainly terrorism to those involved. Many of our readers attended a church service yesterday just as we did. We don't expect terrorism anywhere, but certainly not in church during worship service.

That is, we don't expect it in our free country, the United States. But for believers, in many parts of the world, where persecution and martyrdom are always a threat and very often a consequence of their following Christ, gathering with believers in a formal setting such as a church takes a great deal of courage. Many of them gather in secret, sing together under their breath so as not to be heard, as they put their lives on the line to be counted faithful to Christ.

Yesterday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church and many churches had persecution as a prayer and awareness focus. We don't know, but it's possible that First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs had it on their agenda yesterday morning. Either way, yesterday's horrific event, gave us a sense of what it is like to live in a persecuted setting; indirectly for those of us who learned about the massacre, directly for those in the line of fire.

As we consider those living in persecuted countries, we have read that they feel forgotten by the church since they are unable to attend worship services and because many churches rarely include prayer for the persecuted in their Sunday services. We have an obligation to uplift our brothers and sisters undergoing persecution and to remember them in our daily prayers as well as our church services.

Jim Dau, president of The Voice of the Martyrs, wrote in the November 2017 issue of their magazine, "We need the stories of our persecuted family as much as they need our help. We need their testimonies of courage to challenge and inspire us to take that first step to share the gospel with those around us. And as they inspire us, we serve them, creating a fellowship in Christ that unifies us as His family."

Labeling yesterday's shootings as persecution may seem like a stretch to some. After all, early reports indicate the shooter had some religious inclinations years earlier. But we feel these gathered believers were possibly targeted because of their faith and thus this would fall under persecution given increasing hostile attitudes toward people of faith in our culture in a world that is increasingly being corrupted.

Be encouraged today,*²

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it seems that week after week we hear of yet another attack or massacre taking place nearby or in a distant land. Unless it directly involves us or our family, we could grow numb from the constant reportings of such happenings. But we are freshly aware of the savage killings of our brothers and sisters, both young and old, who innocently gathered with their church family on Sunday to worship You as they have for many years, some of them brought into this church from infancy. As we begin to see the photos and learn of the families whose loved ones were struck down, we're personally moved as we consider the deep suffering of those who endure. Father, we can make no sense of this and yet we know that You will bring good out of evil. You will take this disastrous event and bring about remarkable testimonies of healing, forgiveness, restoration, strength, and guidance from those who must rebuild their lives without their loved ones. We pray for the pastor and his wife who experienced their own loss, that they will be led of Your Spirit, and find strength and encouragement in the days, weeks and years ahead as they lend comfort, instruction, and exemplify an overcoming spirit to those entrusted to their care. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

*² Be encouraged today, (this phrase may seem flippant in light of yesterday's events but "encourage" has the sense of being filled with assurance of God's love and care). "God's love and care" only be understood from an eternal perspective. Believers, whose lives were cut short on this side, now know the fullness, the completeness of God's love and care in a place where there is no more mourning, loss, or the presence of sin. But we who remain are to come alongside those in mourning with our prayers, words of encouragement, and when possible to lend assistance.

Several additional thoughts:
(Some politically incorrect)
  • We believe the growing culture of death is a factor in the further corruption of the world. When pre-born life is disregarded it has a permeating effect in ways we don't realize. Yesterday afternoon we passed the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Reading, PA and practically sensed the hellish, demonic spirit around the place. Yet our government funds this!
  • Graphic violence in movies, TV, video games and elsewhere cheapens life and has a desensitizing impact.
  • We wonder to what extent there is now among the sinfully disturbed a sense of competition and claim to fame for these acts of sheer evil.
  • Social media provides platform to spread this.
  • Previous generations were aware of the horrors of hell which had a restraining impact on evil. Now the notion of hell and judgment is so politically incorrect and offensive to many, and scoffed by others.
  • In the meantime spiritual and Scripture teaching is diminishing and organized groups like the ACLU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and others are working overtime to further diminish Judeo/Christian influence in America.
  • Mental illness and more funding for treatment is being bandied about, as it often is following these heinous acts. Of course something is wrong in someone's head to do something like this but we feel it is incrimination against scores of people who have some mental illness issues but still have a restraint against an evil act like this.
  • We wonder to what extent drugs, both prescribed and illicit are a factor in these matters and the Biblical prohibitions against intoxication.
  • It's sad how events like this are quickly politicized with various factions providing simplistic answers to attack the other side.
  • Both official law enforcement and the concerned citizens who got involved (being called heroes) remind us that there are many decent people who have a role in restraining evil.
  • Today we listened to a news conference in which they concluded with with a soul-touching prayer. genuine faith overcome even in the midst of the hardest situations.

A few peaceful scenes from Lancaster County

Country Log House Farm 11/3/17 (Click to enlarge)
The Country Log House Farm is a Bed and Breakfast near our home.
 (Click to enlarge)

Farm scene along 462 going into Columbia, PA 11/3/17
We pass this scene going east on 462 entering into Columbia PA.
It would be better if there wasn't scum on the pond, but this is real life!

Provards at Cressona, PA 11/5/17
Jack and Milly Provard along with David and Roslyn Ramsey. Jack has a mentoring role as interim pastor and is preparing this couple, who are originally from Guyana, South America, to assume the role as a pastoral couple in the church.

John Uhler at Pennsylvania Railroad Museum 11/5/17
This weekend
John Uhler, a chaplain friend, who has a ministry as a re-enactor, was in Lancaster County at the Pennsylvania Museum of the Railroad for a special focus about the use of trains during war time. As best as we can determine John is the only endorsed reenactment chaplain in the country and has a very interesting type of ministry. He not only provides historical lessons regarding the role of chaplains in the military but also has the opportunity to minister to other re-enactors. He was near our Amish friend's home and we are pleased they got to meet and share fellowship together.

John Uhler display at Pennsylvania Railroad Museum 11/5/17
John's display shows the items in a chaplain's tent during WW2. John will often manage to get in a witness for Christ as people look at his display.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"God Works All Things for Good"  Video  Triumphant Quartet

"Lay It Down"  Video 
Troy Sneed

Persecuted Church info

Calvary Church has placed their The Story series on a website including a video of each message. (Note: As of posting time the video to yesterday's service is not yet up but expect it will be up soon.)

In Friday's message we showed a photo of a horse-drawn wagon hauling a piece of equipment I could not identify and asked readers for assistance in identifying it. (My apologies that the way I had the "answer here" formatted it appeared that I was providing the answer, which I didn't know!) Kevin, a reader from Maryland, identified the equipment as likely a cider press.
Based upon examining cider press photos online I believe he's probably right!

Finally today:
Ezra Kember with Kember Scripture print
We received this photo of Ezra Kember, whose father Walter we have periodically mentioned in this series. He made simple framed Scripture prints that have been widely distributed.

"Hi. My father made these Scripture texts for over 42 years. Some people moved out of their house in New Brunswick where they had several hanging on the walls. They were moving in with their daughter on Prince Edward Island so they gave them to me. I have an auto body shop and some of my workers saw them and became very interested in having one or two of them, especially when I told them my dad had made them plus about 4 million more and that he passed away in 1997 and these Scripture texts are still floating around even after many, many years. Shows that God's Word will never pass away."

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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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