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April 2, 2018

Baydoll sheep and lamb on the Old Windmill Farm 4/1/18
Babydoll Ewe with lamb born Wednesday on the Old Windmill Farm. We always enjoy seeing lambs, but this mama with her newborn lamb makes us feel like they're waiting for us to smile back at them. Babydoll sheep are known for their "smiles".
(Photo by Jesse Lapp)

"Not An April Fool's Day Joke!"

Message summary: Today let us receive rich assurance as we consider the foundational Christian truth concerning the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and remain true defenders of the "faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."

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"And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree" (Acts 10:39). "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).

Brooksyne's baby picture 1956
When we noticed that Easter would arrive on April 1st this year Brooksyne commented that, in her lifetime, she could not recall Easter ever falling on April 1. I had the same thoughts so I checked it out and the last time Easter was on April 1st was 62 years ago in 1956.* We both were living at that time and probably in church since we both grew up in church-going families. Brooksyne was probably dressed up in a cute little dress, perhaps in the one to the right.  However we were both still in cloth diapers and have no recollection of that Easter service. (Brooksyne's note: I'm not sure the photo was taken at Easter but it was stamped 1956 by Rembrandt Studios in Tulsa. One thing I do know is that my mom would have sewn the dress as she did all my clothing.)

It seems ironic that Christianity's most holy day falls on a day popularly known as "April Fool's Day". No doubt some skeptics used it as an opportunity to mock the truth claims of Jesus Christ. But we are also sure many preachers used it as an opportunity to proclaim and reinforce these truth claims and today's second text would fit well. I have paraphrased the phrase "cunningly devised fables" to "April Fool's Day Joke" for our message title.

In Peter's final recorded sermon in Acts he testified of the Gospel to Cornelius and his household proclaiming: "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree" (Acts 10:39). His emphasis on being a witness is a vital part of the credibility of the record. To this day the most effective testimony in a court case is the eyewitness account of an event or crime that took place.

2 Peter 1:16 Peter declares in his final epistle, "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty." What a tremendous assurance of the firm foundation our faith is grounded upon. Peter had some amazing eyewitness experiences with our Lord and he was determined that, after he departed this life, his hearers and readers would not forget the message of Christ and the essential teachings and truths He taught (2 Peter 1:15). Peter admits to being repetitious, but he knew his time was near and wanted to reinforce the most important truths that would keep Christ’s followers true to their faith.

This is a heartfelt message so absolutely essential in this age in which some are reporting "there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian." *˛ In this shift Christianity becomes more of an ethical habit of mind rather than the upholding of our faith based on divine revelation. Perhaps some might refer to such a mindset as one having religiosity. We need assurance and reminding of the solid historical basis for our faith; an empty manger, an empty cross and an empty grave!

Apologetics is defined as "a conscious, articulated defense of the claims of the Christian faith." There are many Christian apologists who give an excellent defense of the gospel and the validity of the truth claims of Jesus Christ. As I read the Apostle Peter's matter of fact reminder in our daily text I am so thankful for the firm basis of our faith!

The daily sub theme for this daily encouragement ministry declares; "Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation." Today let us receive rich assurance as we consider the foundational Christian truth concerning the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and remain true defenders of the "faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Good Friday stands out as the crisis point of the Christian faith where Christ's helpless followers looked on as their Master died in disgrace on a cross between two criminals. He seemed unable to save Himself from evildoers and it appeared that evil had triumphed over good. Confusion, hopelessness, disappointment, and fear were the order of the day for Christ’s followers. It would seem that Satan’s plot had foiled God’s plan. But we have the full account and know that Your redemptive plan, veiled on the day of Christ's crucifixion, was fully disclosed on the first day of the week when our Saviour rose from the dead! How grateful we are for the disciples who sought to obey You rather than man. They, with great care and conviction, recorded these events for those not only in their own generation but for all generations to come. We want to apply their message to our hearts and repeat it often for others to hear. We thank You for Jesus who died in our place. Amen.

Calvary Church Easter choir 2018
Brooksyne had a busy day yesterday with the choir singing in all three services; 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00. Their soundcheck for choir and orchestra began at 6:45 a.m. They were generously rewarded for their early morning efforts when a choice of three varieties of quiche was served to them at 6:15 a.m.  Ester and I attended the 11 a.m. service.  A link to a video of the 11 a.m. service is posted below.

Easter dinner at Lapp family 4/1/18
Following our Easter service we, along with our friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt, enjoyed Easter dinner at the Lapp family home. The ladies brought together their food items and we were more than filled by all the choices of food. Fourteen of us gathered around this long table and we had a wonderful time of sharing about the way God has worked in our lives. Jim & Dorothy, who celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary today, have an amazing testimony of how God delivered Jim from alcoholism as Dorothy prayed and remained with him during those tumultuous years. God has used their story in many settings and they have been a great blessing to so many over the years. We're so glad they relocated from Ocean City, NJ to Calvary Homes two years ago.

The Sweetest Gift song
After the meal Anna Ruth handed out hymn books. Following the custom of the family we sang around the table. Some we knew, others we didn't, but what a joy to hear the children sing out. Upon request the family sang a hymn, "The Sweetest Gift" which Brooksyne heard when she visited the children's classroom Thanksgiving week. It's a tear jerker and has a most unusual message about the devotion of a mother to her imprisoned son. Read the words - they'll bless you. You might just think about a prisoner in a different way when you're looking through the eyes and heart of a loving mother. Here's a video version.

Brooksyne with chicken on the Old Windmill Farm 4/1/18
After the children hunted for the candy Brooksyne, Ester and I hid in the big yard Brooksyne picked up this Old English rooster, noticing their matching colors. It was a windy but beautiful and sunny afternoon.

Stephen with curious horse on the Old Windmill Farm 4/1/18
Milling about the barn, following our delicious Easter dinner, the farm horse was interested in checking out Stephen's suspenders. The horse would pull at the elastic suspenders till they snapped. This startled the horse, but he quickly got over it, and would repeat it until Stephen finally decided he'd had enough horsing around! Perhaps it was the first experience the horse had with straps that stretch and he got a kick out of it, quite unlike the straps of a bridle.

Amish youth heading to youth group 4/1/18
Heading home late yesterday afternoon we came up behind these Amish youth, along with many others, who were likely heading to their youth group. Looks like they are also hauling some sport's equipment. Volleyball is a favorite activity.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Victor's Crown"  Video 
Calvary Church Choir from yesterday's service

"Resurrecting"  Video  Aaron Shust (This another song we sang yesterday)

Calvary Church Easter service  Video

* List of Easter Sunday Dates We are thankful for people who put sites like this up to satisfy our curiosity. In fact this list goes through 2299 just in case anyone wants to really plan ahead. The next time Easter falls on April 1 is only eleven years away in 2029 but we can be sure (should the Lord tarry) that there will still be scoffers and there will still be earnest believers contending for the faith! We will be in our mid-seventies at that time but, if still living on this side of eternity, we plan to continue to contend for the truth that "The Lord is Risen" He is risen indeed!

Once we saw a bumper sticker that states "April 1, National Atheist Day" with this small text beside it Psalm 14:1

“A Massive Shift Coming in What it Means to Be a Christian?”

In our message we wrote, "No doubt some sceptics used it as an opportunity to mock the truth claims of Jesus Christ." Some of the mocking is so vile as if it's a dare to God for instant judgment. At a Montana State University a "Student Newspaper Mocks Jesus Christ In VILE Pre-Easter Smut Column". I will not even link to such an evil column but one commentator wondered what the same paper would post about Mohammed.

Finally today:
Snowy backyard view 4/1/18
We thought after the snow storm we had two weeks ago we might be through with any seasonal snow but this was our view looking out our bedroom window early this morning! Thankfully, it's already melting.

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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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