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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Male Goldfinch (photo by Doris High)
Male Goldfinch
(photo by Doris High)

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"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose."  
(Jim Elliot, Missionary Martyr)

"Becoming A 'Fool'"

"Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise" (1 Corinthians 3:18).

Saturday evening we went to a banquet sponsored by Transport for Christ, an international ministry to truck drivers.  Brooksyne and I do some work with TFC as we tie them into our devotional messages and  provide follow-up care for readers who express a need. These large banquets are a fixture here in Lancaster County and there were over 500 people in attendance for a big Pennsylvania Dutch "family style" meal.  This was followed by a presentation about TFC and an opportunity to donate to this worthwhile ministry.

Ryan and friendsThe main entertainment was provided by a local ventriloquist called Ryan and three of his ventriloquist friends.  Since I work with the ministry I was "volunteered" from among the crowd, along with other staff members, to assist him (though he certainly needed no assistance.)  Ryan is an extremely talented young man whom I can vouch for. As I “trained” right beside him I was amazed that he scarcely moved his lips while he worked two dummies and used three very convincing character voices.

Ryan assigned me the role of ventriloquist trainee (definitely not my calling). I held the grandma dummy (pictured here) and attempted to open her mouth at the right times. Actually I was thoroughly played for the dummy!  I would say the crowd had some especially rambunctious laughter at my expense.  My, did I ever feel foolish. (Brooksyne’s note:  He also looked extremely foolish.)

I knew a pastor in New Jersey a number of years ago who started a church on April Fools’ Day (which is April 1 here in America).  His very first message had this interesting title: "I'm a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?"  I have long appreciated the sentiment of missionary martyr Jim Elliot who wrote, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Let's examine today's verse.  One's wisdom is generally evaluated by the standards of this age. We are living in a time when so many have varying degrees of advanced education which does not necessarily have anything to do with wisdom.

Paul begins the verse: "Do not deceive yourselves." Self deception is the most dangerous form of deception.  It’s often easier for us to assess objectively when we’re looking on rather than looking  within. "Cursed are those who seem wise to themselves, and who take pride in their knowledge" (Isaiah 5:21).

"If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age..." The standards of this age constantly change. Much information that at one time was considered the most certain findings in science and other fields has changed.  In some cases what had been a consensus 50 years ago has now been thoroughly debunked, and who knows what issues will be debunked in the future. Actually when we get to the other side I suspect a lot of what seemed so certain here will be debunked there!

The verse continues: "He should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise." It's significant that the NIV placed the quotation marks around fool. Those who follow Christ are increasingly seen as "fools" by worldly standards. For instance I testify unashamedly to my belief in the Biblical account of creation. Many in the world now mock at this belief and I am seen by some as "dangerous" for holding this view.

Let’s make it our goal in life to be wise in God's estimation, not the changing standards thrust on us by this present age.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  God of all wisdom, we come to you seeking Your direction in our lives.  We ask for a discerning heart so that we can effectively lead the people entrusted to our care.  We need Your wisdom to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and error.  As we pray in the Spirit and absorb Your Word into our hearts we will walk uprightly and do justly.  It is a natural outflow of Your wisdom and Spirit that abides within us as we choose to walk in Your ways.  Be our vision during the light of day and darkness of night; whether waking or sleeping we yield my all to You, Omniscient Father.  Amen.

I once saw a bumper sticker that proclaimed "April 1, National Atheist's Day."   Intrigued and annoyed, but not necessarily surprised, I moved my car in closer to read the small print.  It was actually a witness for the Lord, as it quoted Psalm 14:1. It was then that I made the connection, "O yeah, Fool's Day is April 1!"  (Psalm 14:1 states "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'."

An Interesting Perspective

In regard to my belief in the Biblical account of creation,  I read an interview several years ago that I found very interesting. Here's a portion of the discussion in regard to the complexity of the human genetic code:

Interviewer:  "Do you believe that the information evolved?"

Biologist:  "Nobody I know in my profession believes it evolved.  It was engineered by genius beyond genius, and such information could not have been written any other way.   The paper and ink did not write the book!  Knowing what we know, it is ridiculous to think otherwise."

Interviewer:  "Have you ever stated that in a public lecture, or in any public writings?"

Biologist:  "No.  I just say it evolved.  To be a molecular biologist requires one to hold onto two insanities at all times.  One, it would be insane to believe in evolution when you can see the truth for yourself. Two, it would be insane to say you don't believe in evolution.  All government work, research grants, papers, big college lectures – everything would stop.  I'd be out of a job, or relegated to the outer fringes where I couldn't earn a decent living."

Interviewer: "I hate to say it, but that sounds intellectually dishonest."

Biologist: "The work I do in genetic research is honorable.  We will find the cures to many of mankind's worst diseases.  But in the meantime, we have to live with the elephant in the living room."

Interviewer:  "What elephant?"

Biologist:  "Creation design.  It's like an elephant in the living room.  It moves around, takes up an enormous amount of space, loudly trumpets, bumps into us, knocks things over, eats a ton of hay, and smells like an elephant.  And yet we have to swear it isn't there!

I am not sure where I came across this interview but here is an article with a similar expression by Michael J. Behe, a professor at Lehigh University.

Greg Shibilo

Greg Shibilo, a good friend from a former church I pastored in New England received a "Teacher of the Year" recognition from the Southern New England District and ranked seventh in the nation. Greg was Ester's Sunday School teacher in 3rd and 4th grades and certainly set the teaching standard for Ester, who still remembers his diligent teaching.  Greg also plays the organ in his church and is very involved in nursing home ministry.

His parents were tremendous blessings and I wrote a tribute concerning his dad, who went to be with the Lord shortly before we moved on from that area.

His mother, Veda, was my secretary for many years and continues to serve in that role to this day. She  is a great standard of faithfulness and dependability!

His brother Randy is a pastor in Connecticut.

Inside of silo chuteI shared this photo yesterday and asked if readers could identify it.  Many responded and most of you got it right (or close to right)! Several had some interesting but reasonable answers.  It was taken on my friend Jesse's farm. The picture appears to be horizontal like a tunnel but is actually vertical, looking up the chute on the outside of a silo. You can see the steps. The "fire" at the end is actually the sun shining through a cap of some type. A farmer friend, Jay Kopp, calculated the silo would be 60 feet tall based upon the 3 blue rings (windows to provide light) spaced 15 feet apart. Jay is also a school teacher and based upon this observation I would say a real good one!

Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of mine here in Mount Joy shared an interesting story the photo prompted in his memory.  "When my mother was a young girl she followed her brother up a silo chute to the top. Somehow she fell 50 feet back down through that chute, landed on about 3 inches of silage, and by the grace of God was not hurt!"

BTW, a creative preacher could enlarge the photo and use it as a Powerpoint slide in a modern day version of Jonathan Edward's famous sermon, "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God."

We had many winners who correctly guessed the photo to be a silo. We're feeling rather generous today and have decided to award each person who guessed correctly an all expense paid cruise for two to Bali.  See here for more details.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"My Savior, My God"  Audio  Ester will be helping out at a local Aaron Shust concert in several weeks.  This is our favorite song of his! Brooksyne and I just might go to test and see how old we are.

"Psalm 33"  

"Be Thou My Vision"  Audio

Cerwin and Doris High
Cerwin and Doris High are friends of ours from this area. Doris took today's top photo of the Goldfinch. They also work with Transport For Christ. I didn't take my camera to the banquet and told Brooksyne: "Doris will be there and she always takes lots of pictures." Well Doris happened to forget her camera as well and thus I don't have a photo of my brief moment of fame with the 

Doris has a photo blog I often visit and she takes some very creative pictures.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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. Used by permission; 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 I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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