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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Red Caboose, Lancaster County, PA 12/13/18
This morning we had breakfast at the Red Caboose Motel where guests can also lodge in restored cabooses.

Note: This week we have considered how words can be a blessing and at times a great source of discomfort. Today's word is both a blessing and a source of discomfort!

"The Convicting Word"

Message summary:  The word of conviction can be painful but when one is receptive it can be of great benefit and blessing.

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"You are the man!" (2 Samuel 12:7). "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

According to the "Urban Dictionary" the phrase "you da man" means "You're the man", with the article "the" shortened to da in an ebonic style. Usually it shows admiration from the person who says it toward the person to whom the sentence is intended. However, today we are going to examine a Bible verse where the phrase is used, not in the sense of commendation, but rather condemnation.

"You Da Man", Nathan to DavidIn 2 Samuel 11 the Bible records the account of David's sin with Bathsheba. After what seemed like an effective cover-up operation (David had her husband Uriah killed), he thought he had gotten away with it. But the chapter ends with these sober words, "But the thing David had done displeased the Lord" (2 Samuel 11:27).

The prophet Nathan comes on the scene. Although he had prior experience with David in his prophetic role his message of condemnation and conviction was risky. He began with a story illustrating David's grave sin (2 Samuel 12:1-4). David failed to make the connection initially and "burned with anger" against the villain in the story.

Nathan seized on this and said to David, "You are the man!" As many know David humbly repented of his sin and received forgiveness but not without lifelong consequences.

Nathan had a word of conviction for David. The word of conviction can be painful but when one is receptive it can be of great benefit and blessing. The word of conviction often includes an element of rebuke. It sounds so harsh and unloving. It's much easier to use words like edify, encourage, inspire...words that lift others up and leave them "feeling good".

But sharing and receiving the word of conviction can be a blessing and is a necessary tool within our spiritual tool chest. We have all needed a loving rebuke at times. And like Nathan, God may at times call on us to do the rebuking.
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

We believe one of the greatest marks of the contemporary church is a failure to use the word of conviction which now is often interpreted as judging. With such a major emphasis on practicing tolerance, exhibiting a non-judgmental and loving attitude toward everything that comes down the pike, it's very hard to practice the God-ordained ministry of rebuke. It's out of sync with the emphasis and popular teaching of our day. What's more, confront somebody in their sin and you're liable to be labeled legalistic!

You probably know someone named Nathan. Like Stephen in the book of Acts, it's not a common Bible name. Apart from several unspecified genealogical references this is the only prominent Nathan in the Bible. Nathan is the bold prophet who confronted David with his sin.

We don't know how much time transpired between David's cover-up of his sin with Bathsheba and the beginning of chapter 12. Assuming that the cover-up took place shortly after Bathsheba announced her pregnancy it would have been at least six months, perhaps longer. I wonder what David was dealing with during this time. Did he really think he'd gotten away with it? Had he somehow justified his actions? Was he dealing with secret guilt or sorrowful remorse? What we do know is that the horrendous sin committed by David recorded in chapter 11 was "evil in the sight of the Lord" (v.27).

"The LORD sent Nathan to David." What courage it would require for Nathan to complete this God-ordained prophetic mission! David, at the apex of his kingly authority, could easily and quickly do away with such a pesky prophet. Nevertheless Nathan boldly approached David with an outstanding story analogous to the injustice of David's reprehensible deed. In an illustrative way he was setting a trap for David to walk right into, and David did not disappoint. Nathan tightened the noose with these words of stunning, forthright rebuke, "You are the man!" before launching into a prophetic declaration of judgment concerning David's sin.

The brave rebuke turned out to be a redemptive blessing. However uncomfortable, it brought David to his proper senses as he forthrightly confessed, "I have sinned against the Lord." In receiving Nathan's rebuke and making his honest confession David took the first steps toward his journey to reconciliation with God, though he, his family, and the nation would deal with the spiraling consequences from his ruthless actions the remainder of his life, and the generations who followed.

How do you handle the word of conviction, a needed rebuke? Do you get angry and harden your heart or do you see the blessing of rebuke? I have been blessed by rebuke, though at the time it was very humbling and uncomfortable. My posture can be one of defense, justification, and excuses or I can choose to be receptive when the rebuke reflects my offense. Many years ago I was dealing with an issue in my life when a friend pinned me down (not literally) and spoke truth to my heart. He was right and I am a better man today due to the blessing of his loving rebuke.

What do you do when God speaks to you about lovingly rebuking a brother or sister to help them get back on the right track? The tendency for many, including me, is to put off this call, agree to pray but not act. It's very hard to rebuke another believer and should come about only after a season of prayer. But we must be careful to obey if God is speaking. It's part of our calling, especially if we are a minister of the Gospel. (See 2 Timothy 4:2.)

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it comes very naturally to encourage and instruct others in Your teachings. But it is far more difficult to bring loving rebuke and correction to one who has chosen to live in disobedience to Your commands. Help me to go forth as one pure in heart, humble in spirit, and earnest in prayer when I am commissioned to be Your messenger of life-giving rebuke. It wasn't Nathan who went after David, but it was You who sent Nathan, which served as the beginning of David's spiritual restoration. When the messenger is pure in motive and obedient to the Spirit's prompting, and the message is received in the right spirit, then correction will take place, just as it did with David. Though I cannot be assured of the desired results help me to find blessing in having been obedient to Your Spirit's leading. When I am the recipient of a rebuke may I respond in humility and receive the correction as though it were delivered personally from You and respond accordingly. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: This prayer was written deep from within my heart and experience because God recently dealt with me about approaching a believer regarding about a long standing lifestyle incompatible with Scripture. When God speaks to me about a troubled individual, first I begin to cover them in prayer. But on occasion I still find myself tossing and turning in the night with that person on my mind. Finally, after much prayer and contemplation I take steps that God lays out for me to carefully, lovingly, sensitively and boldly approach a believer in error. It is very rare that God speaks to me in this way and I'm glad because I feel a great sense of responsibility and am the sort of person that would rather "make people feel good" than bring up a subject that might bring about discomfort. But from my own life experience when I've been lovingly redirected or challenged by a caring person about my attitude or action that would be unpleasing to the Lord I'm stronger for it and grow in my spiritual life and my personhood.

Personal communications with people I encounter in ministry are privileged, especially in this regard, so today's illustrations, although true, are somewhat veiled:

    * A man who knew better left his wife and children for another woman. He was not receptive but heard this stern rebuke quoting the Holy Scripture. "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" ( 1 Timothy 5:8).
    * "I recall a man who was struggling with alcohol and destroying his family but was receptive to my input. I looked him right in the eye and placed a hand on each shoulder, "What are you doing destroying your life and those you love in this way?" I sternly asked.
    * Another man was plagued with the addiction to internet pornography. We walked along our trail to a country church about a mile and ˝ away. As we walked I listened, but also preached truth from God's Word.

Selected Scriptures on rebuke:
"My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke" (Proverbs 3:11).
"He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise" (Proverbs 15:31).
"Better is open rebuke than hidden love" (Proverbs 27:5).
"He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue" (Proverbs 28:23).
"Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning" (1 Timothy 5:20).
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction" (2 Timothy 4:2).
"These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you" (Titus 2:15).
"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent" (Revelation 3:19).

Much more could be considered about this topic such as the relationship between rebuke and correction, considering the reasons that there's minimal practice of this in the modern church and the consequences that have resulted.

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Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

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Thank you

Stephen & Brooksyne

Red Caboose dining car, Lancaster County, PA 12/13/18
The Casey Jones diner at the Red Caboose has new owners and they have spent a great deal of money in remodeling and redesigning the gift shop, oversized model train display and restaurant. The Pricketts have recently opened their restaurant for the winter months including breakfast.

Train from Red Caboose dining car, Lancaster County, PA 12/13/18
Just before the meal was served the railroad crossing went down, lights flashed, and the train whistle blew. Brooksyne caught this photo of the moving freight train through the window of the exit door visible in the restaurant photo above. This is the rail line that the Strasburg railroad uses for tourists.

Breakfast at Red Caboose 12/13/18
Our original reason for visiting was to see the salt, pepper and sugar horse and buggy being used in the restaurant. Smucker's Laser Division, one of the companies where we are chaplains, designed these for The Red Caboose and Deiners, a popular Pennsylvania Dutch Smorgasbord. Our breakfast arrived and it was delicious - crunchy hashbrowns & eggs made to order exactly!!

Jordan and Shea at breakfast at Red Caboose 12/13/18
After we were served a young couple arrived and shortly thereafter the young man approached us. It had been several years since we'd seen Jordan and didn't recognize him from a distance with the stocking cap. Jordan is a former Sunday School student of Brooksyne's, about 7 or 8 years old at the time, and we were delighted to reconnect with him and meet his girlfriend, Shea, who is originally from the Reading area but relocated to Strasburg. They both work at Sight and Sound, another very popular tourist attraction - in fact it's the biggest tourist attraction for Lancaster. Jordan works on stage and Shea is an animal handler!

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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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