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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lancaster County farm
Farm scene along our country walk
It's another beautiful day here in our neck of the woods.  I took this colorful photo early this morning as I rode my bike on the trail. (Brooksyne's Note:  This picture makes me long for a walk on the trail that I haven't been on since May 7th.  I've been taking 1/2 mile walks on our road, but this just may be the day I'm going to venture out on the trail again.)

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"Behaving Decently"

"Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13:13,14).

Late yesterday afternoon I went on a long walk with a man who had come over to have an earnest conversation about some tough issues in his life. (He has given me permission to anonymously share this.) Early in his marriage he had gotten into gambling and then pornography. Thankfully he has found freedom concerning both of these issues but the trust factor in his marriage has been seriously wounded. He wants to see it healed and had asked for my advice.  He and his wife are both experiencing the consequences of his sin; both immediate and residual. 

I shared in yesterday's daily encouragement how I had preached a message on gambling this last Sunday in our church. In my prep work for the sermon I considered how, in my observation, preaching has changed in my lifetime.  I believe many who presently stand behind the pulpit have much greater reservation about addressing sinful behavior than in the past.

I found myself struggling to address a specific activity like gambling that is popular, legal, and increasingly culturally acceptable. Would I be seen as "legalistic" and charged with, "not understanding grace"? Perhaps I might offend someone or create disharmony. After all, many have found ways to justify this behavior.  Would I be seen as narrow-minded or intolerant?  Both attitudes are considered grave violations in our time, since open-mindedness and tolerance are seen as two of the great virtues of modern man!

How the pendulum has swung even in my lifetime on this issue of preaching on sin. Many my age and older will recall when sin was regularly addressed from the pulpit boldly and forthrightly, much like the prophets of old. However now there's (in my observation) far less preaching on sin and a great reluctance among many preachers to address sin specifically, particularly sins that have become popular and socially acceptable, even in church circles.  I have written a separate article about this (see below).

Once again, I come back to the conversation my friend and I had yesterday as we sat on a bench on the beautiful grounds of an historic church at Donegal Springs.  His marriage has survived, but the need to reestablish trust in his marital relationship is an ongoing struggle.  It is situations like this, that I regularly encounter, that reminds me of my high calling to preach the whole inspired counsel of God's Word; "teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."

The preaching of God's Word should not be diluted nor should "uncomfortable" passages be overlooked, based upon the culture of our day or because others may perceive the message as unloving.  The loving message from ministers of the gospel is to do everything possible to prevent those "who have ears to hear" from indulging in sinful behavior that leads to loss and destruction. 

This remains the Biblical call for all believers who want to follow hard after God.  We must be sober minded and behave decently.  Let us "not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" but rather let us "clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, we desire to clothe ourselves in Christ Jesus, whose Spirit resides within our hearts.  We pray that our behavior would honor You in every way as we seek to behave decently as we live according to the pattern of Holy Scripture.

Here are some thoughts I have written on preaching on sin. This is a work in progress and I welcome input. I especially encourage my preacher friends to read this material!

Today I received a note from Paul Wilkinson, a Canadian reader who has an interesting perspective on this matter.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play)

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Audio  We both enjoy this version of the classic hymn of consecration.

"Take Time To be Holy"  Video  This is a local church version of an old hymn that is rarely heard anymore.

"Give Us Clean Hands"  Video
 Our friend Stan and the worship team concluded the service in our church this last Sunday with this song.

"One Pure And Holy Passion"  Audio  
Video  (with lyrics)  This is a newer song we enjoy.

"Clean Before My Lord" Audio How many of you remember "Honeytree"?

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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