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Friday, October 22, 2010

The Turkey Hill riding cow, Lancaster County PA
One of the colorful sites that makes us smile as we drive through Lancaster County is the large promotional Turkey Hill riding cow, which is pulled around and used for company promotions. We passed the cow yesterday, parked at a market east of Ephrata PA.

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"Let Us Behave 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).

We had an interesting experience coming home from Bible Study on Wednesday night. We were traveling on a dark country road and just ahead I could see the faint battery-powered lights of an Amish buggy (or at least that's what Brooksyne and I were guessing it to be).

I slowed down and then we came upon an open carriage that was stalled in the middle of an intersection. From the opposite direction was the crest of a hill that fully blocked the view of the stalled carriage, giving any oncoming driver little warning about the potential disaster that lay ahead.

I pulled our van up to the carriage and turned my flasher and bright lights on to warn oncoming drivers about the looming danger. It initially appeared that the young Amish man was having trouble with the horse but as we further observed his behavior, something just didn't seem right. After a few minutes of trying to decide the best course of action, I finally jumped out and led the horse across the road to safety.

It may surprise some of our readers but we concluded that the young man was drunk, in fact very drunk, based upon the way he responded to our help.  Within a few feet of getting him back in the proper lane, once again the carriage stalled.

In our area we periodically read in the paper about DUI buggy drivers, not something you'd expect among the Amish culture.  Due to their very conservative lifestyle and modest apparel people create an image that Amish never get into trouble.  But they have their problems just like the rest of us, and our Amish friends would be the first to tell others that this is true.

Perhaps you've heard the story of the young man who was asked, "What did the preacher preach about?" With an assuring smile he quickly responded, "Sin." "And what about sin?" The young man said, "He's against it."

I consider how, in my observation, preaching has changed in my lifetime. I consider some thunderous type messages condemning sin from my younger years. Oh sure, at times it went beyond the issues of clear Biblical prohibitions or principles. For instance Brooksyne recalls regular "clothesline" sermons when the preacher specifically addressed matters of dress, most all of them directed to women. (This was not a part of my upbringing.) Some of these sermons were more cultural than Biblical. 

And yet, due to fear of being labeled a legalistic preacher, many fail to address sinful behavior according to Scripture. Consider the topic of alcohol use, such as our opening illustration. In our society, especially over the past couple decades, we have noted an increase among many Christians concerning the use of alcohol. It's popular, legal and culturally acceptable. In fact I have noted especially among the younger generation the tendency to adopt a more "tolerant" position on this matter. Among some I am likely seen as "legalistic" in regard to my conviction in refraining from drinking alcoholic beverages.

That's OK with me.  Though the Bible does not specifically say that drinking alcohol is a sin, it does state that drunkenness is, and those who live in such a way will not inherit the kingdom of God. Due to the potential of abuse, the major problems associated with alcoholism, and not wanting to be a stumbling block to any who are weak in this area in our family we choose to abstain.  This is seen by some, even some of my Christian brothers and sisters, as narrow-minded and intolerant.

My, how the pendulum has swung in my lifetime on the subject 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 far less preaching on sin and a great reluctance among many preachers to address sin specifically, (in my observation). There are a number of sins that have become socially acceptable even among those who regularly attend church.

A vital part of the high calling to preach the whole inspired counsel of God's Word includes, "teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Yesterday I shared with a young Amish friend who works at one of our companies about our experience Wednesday night. He made no attempt to excuse his fellow Amishman's behavior. In fact, he acknowledged that these types of things are not unusual among the young men going through a rebellious stage. He did tell me that it would not be a girl involved in this.

The preaching of God's Word should not be ignored, nor should "uncomfortable" passages be paraphrased in such a way as to be more palatable based upon the culture of our day or because others would otherwise perceive our message to be unloving.  The loving message from the ministers of the gospel is to do everything possible to prevent believers from indulging in sinful behavior that can lead to loss, destruction, and eternal damnation. 

It remains the Biblical call for all believers who want to follow God faithfully. 
"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" 

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 as we seek to behave decently and live according to the pattern of Holy Scripture, for "we were taught, regarding our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."  Make us like You, Father, as we follow after You in righteousness and holiness.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.
See Ephesians 4:22,23,24

Ministry Update:  Yesterday we shared how it was our ministry's 14th anniversary. For those interested I direct you to a short ministry update.

Note: The Amish are more often on the receiving end of drunk driving accidents. We often read reports such as this in the paper.

Here's a report we also periodically
read concerning DUI Amish.

Brooksyne's 55th birthday flower arrangement 10/22/10
This morning Brooksyne received a fall flower arrangement from some friends. When the delivery man dropped them off he asked, "Could you use some encouragement this morning?" Now if you read yesterday's message you know our contention is that everyone can use encouragement everyday! The flower arrangement expressed a thoughtfulness that indeed brought encouragement to our home.

Brooksyne's birthday gift from Shady Maple
We had lunch yesterday at the Shady Maple, where Brooksyne could eat free on her birthday (as long as her chaperone was paying his way). At the gift shop I purchased this plate for her after she carried it around for awhile, saying how much she liked it.

My ever alert sister, Genelle, apparently looked up the Shady Maple website and observed an interesting feature regarding their pricing, a special discount for those who have had gastric bypass surgery! See here.

Brooksyne chaplain ministry
Yesterday during a chaplain visit Brooksyne greeted Donna who was making a distinct part. Any idea what it is?  See below for answer!
(Photo taken from a cell phone)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Holiness Is What I Long For"
  Video   Scott Underwood

"Make My Life A Prayer To You"
 Video  Keith Green

As I studied for today's message I would like to share some messages available online concerning this matter of preaching on sin:

"Preaching On Sin" Several years ago I had a heart to write periodic longer articles and post to a blog called "Clear Minded".  This is based on 1 Timothy 4:7 which states, "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." My schedule filled up and I haven't had the time to work on this blog much but this article is very related to today's message.

Here's what some others are writing:

"Preaching Against Sin"  Online article

"Preaching And Sin"  Online article

Mystery part: The part is actually the frame for a window in a Mennonite buggie!

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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 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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