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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Snowy morning view 3/21/18
Our snowy front yard view this morning!

"The Vital Necessity of Being On Guard"

Personal note: We arrived back home yesterday afternoon after driving through snowy conditions from central Virginia all the way back through Pennsylvania. Today 4-8 inches of snow is projected so we were unable to resume our chaplaincy visits today. Most schools are closed and many businesses. Although it's officially spring this is shaping up to be the biggest storm of the season!

Message summary:
Today, as faithful followers of Christ, let us consider the vital necessity of being on guard as well as our mission of warning others to "be on guard."

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"Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come" (Mark 13:33). "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:28-29). "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13).

On Monday morning we visited the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC, along with our longtime friends Mike, Kathy and Tina Matangelo. It was an inspirational "Journey of Faith" chronicling the evangelist's life, including a tour of his boyhood home. Billy Graham describes the museum with an eternal viewpoint:

"This museum will point us to the past so we can learn from those who have gone before. It will cause us to rejoice in the present to see what God is doing today. And it will challenge us for the future to know Christ and to make Him known to the ends of the earth." - Billy Graham

Among the many attributes we have appreciated over the years about Billy Graham and his ministry is his long-term faithfulness. Seventy years ago in 1948, as he developed his team, they made a covenant amongst themselves known as the "Modesto Manifesto" in which Graham and his young associates made a resolve regarding several basic principles of how they would handle their ministry:

Modesto Manifesto
The Modesto Manifesto

The above photo shows Graham, along with Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea. Each of these godly men lived long lives and finished their earthly race as they remained faithful to the Modesto Manifesto.

Every generation needs men and women who are diligent and faithful over the long haul of life. This will require them to be vitally on their guard. In our age, with the hastening moral decline all around us, strict boundaries must be drawn and adhered to.

In his farewell message to the Ephesian elders the Apostle Paul issued this challenge, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:28-29).

This message is a great model for all preachers and was my text for the final messages I preached in the churches I have pastored. Let us especially consider the words,
"Be on guard." This is vitally important.

"Be on guard":

"For yourselves." It is essential that we stay on guard. Falling for the many forms of deception and yielding to temptation will have a detrimental, possibly disastrous effect on us personally.

"and for all the flock." Our failures will also have a detrimental and potentially disastrous effect on our "flock", our family, and sphere of spiritual influence.

We all need to be on our guard and should see warnings from the Scriptures and our spiritual leaders as evidence of genuine love and concern for the flock. The immediate threat was false teachers whom Paul had called "savage wolves" (v. 29). Paul said to these elders: "I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31). Try to picture Paul as he penned these words and consider the deep felt burden he conveys in his letter.

Today, as faithful followers of Christ, let us consider the vital necessity of being on guard as well as our mission of warning others to "be on guard." As the Spirit moves us we might also be moved to tears, like the apostle Paul, as we bear a deep burden for our brothers and sisters in the faith. Even as we write this message our hearts are directed toward several people who have served the Lord over the years but have fallen into temptation causing great heartache to those around them. Just as a shepherd protects his sheep or a father his child, an overseer will do all he can to inform and equip his people to discern and withstand the deceptive wiles of the evil one.

His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, as we earnestly contend for the faith, we're thankful for pastors and Christian leaders who labor, study, pray and observe the times to keep us on our guard against the schemes of our adversary, the devil. Keep us alert, sober, and ready for action when our overseers warn us of Satan's scheming strategies so that we take heed, proceed cautiously and become wise and discerning. May their teaching and guidance stimulate us to study for ourselves that which You want to show us in Your Word that will keep us on our guard and effective in our Christian walk. We lift up our Christian leaders to You, knowing that they are subject to even greater temptation, since the devil is extremely zealous in his attempt to silence the messenger. May they be merciful to others, snatching them from the fire, all the while hating even the clothes stained by corrupted flesh, so that they do not defile themselves or dishonor Your name. Amen.

With Mike at Sower statue at Billy Graham library 3/19/18

"The Sower and the Soils" is a large bronze sculpture in the library which is called "Ruth's Attic".

Sower statue at Billy Graham library 3/19/18
Billy Graham affirmed faithful believers who spread the seed. Thus, the bronze sculpture of "The Sower" is very fitting as a memorial to Graham's outlook based on this parable of Christ.

Billy Graham tombstone 3/19/18

Ruth Bell Graham tombstone 3/19/18
Both Billy Graham and his wife Ruth have simple flagstone grave markers. He was buried beside his wife at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Prayer Garden on the northeast side of the Billy Graham Library. Graham's pine plywood casket, handcrafted in 2006 by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, is topped with a wooden cross nailed to it by the prisoners.

Progression of witness
I had heard about this progression for many years but have never seen it verified.

As I examine this I consider:

1) What faithful unnamed and long forgotten servant of Christ shared the faith with Edward Kimball? Of course this chain ultimately goes back to the faithful apostles. (See 2 Timothy 2:2)

2) How many have been saved under or otherwise impacted by Billy Graham's ministry who are now a link in this chain? On Monday we shared a photo of our friends, Bob and Linda Southard, who have had a long-time faithful ministry to nursing homes and Bob continues to write a weekly Bible teaching. Before our visit we were unaware that he was saved after watching a Billy Graham TV special in the seventies.

3) For many years I have been a part of CBMC (Christian Business Men's Committee) but was unaware of its origins before our visit (see 6th point above regarding Billy Sunday).

The Moment That Changed Billy Forever
This describes a pivotal decision that Billy Graham made concerning the authority of God's Word. Some of his peers had urged him to forsake the Scripture's authority and his old-fashioned message, claiming that his messages were 50 years out of date. Notice the reference to the Los Angeles campaign in 1949. A man, visiting with his grandchildren, was with our tour and told the tour guide he attended the LA Crusade as a 7 year old with his grandmother.

Billy Graham's childhood home
Billy Graham's childhood home was relocated to the museum site. His dad was a dairy farmer who had a milk route in Charlotte. He built this colonial home in 1927 for $9,000.00. 90% of the house remains as it was when Billy's mother passed away in 1981 at 89 years of age. The home was beautiful inside and out. His mother had lived in the home till she died and had kept it much like it was when Billy was little, not because she had any idea that it would one day be a museum, but rather because that's how many in previous generations lived. "If it's not broke don't fix it".

Billy Graham's childhood home kitchen
This is Mrs. Graham's kitchen. She did not replace her ice box (left) with a fridge nor her simple stove (on the right). According to the tour guide she continued to use these kitchen appliances until her death in 1981.

With Matangelos at Billy Graham Library 3/19/18
Mike and Kathy with their daughter Tina. We first met the Matangelos in 1977 when they attended the first service of the church we planted in Saint Marys PA. Their three sons serve the Lord and Mike and Kathy remain faithful in prison work with a ministry called Transformation Journey. Following our visit to the library and sharing a meal on site we visited the tombstones and made a prayer of recommitment to staying faithful to the Master.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"  Video   George Beverly Shea

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"  Video   Dallas Holm

"He Leadeth Me"  Video  Acapella

Billy Graham Library

Video of tour of Billy Graham's childhood home

For further information the house haw it was moved to the museum location read here.

Finally today:
Talking cow at Billy Graham Library 3/19/18
The Journey of Faith tour at the Billy Graham library begins with a very realistic talking cow who shares about Graham's childhood on the dairy farm.

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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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