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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Brooksyne sitting on the huge anchor on Baltimore's inner harbor.
This scene reminds me of a favorite Scripture verse Hebrews 6:19 as well as an old hymn, "We Have An Anchor" (see below for link to video)
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"Calling Evil Good"
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:20).
York is a small city about 20 miles west of us, plagued with violence, particularly gang related. I recall a minister describing the disturbing social conditions in the city of York that leads to so much unrest and violence. He spoke of the family breakdown as the core of the problem. and makes an interesting point that illustrates the progression of societal breakdown when God's laws are violated.
He pointed out that the role of grandmothers was a stabilizing influence in the past, when there were absentee or abusive parents, but now many grandmothers are as young as their late twenties and early thirties and have no interest in taking on a grandmotherly identity, much less providing a secure, nurturing setting for their grandchildren. They're still caught up in the sinful, unstable circumstances from their own wrong choices and they themselves are very troubled and needy.
Among the signs of our culture's moral downfall is the failure to uphold the Creator's standards, which has led to great confusion as to what even constitutes evil.
What a powerful message in our daily text. Isaiah's "woe" is timeless. "Woe" is a literal transliteration of the Hebrew. In other words it's an expression that sounds the same in Hebrew, English or any language (similar to the word, "hallelujah"). Woe is also an onomatopoeia, which is when the formation of a word imitates the natural sound associated with the object or action involved. Consider the sounds of deep, painful wailing.
Woe is an exclamation of pain and grief. As our culture drifts farther and farther from its Biblical moorings we see the truth of Isaiah's proclamation. Do we also feel his exclamation of woe?
What is the source of this woe? Three are listed in the daily text
1) who call evil good and good evil,
2) who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
3) who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Biblical morality is turned on its head, not only in Isaiah's cultural setting but also in our lifetime. Sometimes I am stunned by what is now so contrary to the right and wrong I was taught as a child and was once commonly believed by believers and non-believers alike. But today much of what is evil is called good and what is good is called evil.
Today let us remain faithful to the perspective that God gives us through the inspiration of Scripture. As unpopular, "intolerant", socially insensitive, and politically incorrect as it sounds let us continue to call evil "evil".
As God's children let us hear the words of the apostle Paul and "hate what is evil; cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we do not want to be overcome by evil but we want to overcome evil with good and the way that we can do this is to absorb, maintain, and uphold the Scriptural understanding of good and evil. We pray against authorities, personalities, and persuasive rhetoric that tempt us to compromise or water down the truths we learn from Scripture. The contrasts of light vs. darkness, good vs. evil, the spiritual nature vs. the sinful nature are abundant in Scripture. May the guiding light by which we live our lives in these evil days be the light of Your Holy Word. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Further Insight: When we soft pedal the meaning of evil we also water down the meaning of sin. It is rather common now to hear Christians, when referring to a sinful act as "I made a mistake" or "I used poor judgment." James puts it much more bluntly, "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." (NASV) I believe God is pleased when we come to Him and confess our sins and when we readily admit to another that we have sinned against them (if this is the case).
Thank God there is a remedy for evil. God's grace is greater than our sin. Fanny Crosby excluded no one when she wrote, "the vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives." Frank Bottome marveled that he who was once "a child of hell, should in His image shine." And William Cowper describes the fountain of sinless, life-giving blood drawn from Immanuel's veins as powerful enough to save to the uttermost, "The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in His day, and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away."
The slide into decadence continues and the notion of determining morality by majority is deeply flawed. I have long had a concern regarding the strategy of the pro-life and traditional marriage position (both of which I hold) in appealing to opinion polls. Will abortion or alternative arrangements of marriage become "good" when the opinion polls indicate a majority favor it? Surely not!
I consider how many moral changes have come about simply by majority ruling. The words of Paul in Colossians 2:8 give us a very wise caution that we should pay close attention to: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."
Consider Biblical history:
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Last week we spent several hours at Baltimore's Inner Harbor and enjoy sharing our photos. Today's photos we took walking around the harbor.
The inner harbor has three historic vessels that are on display.
The USS Constellation is a Civil War era ship and is the last sail-only warship designed and built by the U.S. Navy.
The lightship Chesapeake served as a floating lighthouse.
The USS Torsk Navy submarine patrolled the Pacific off Japan in the last days of World War II.
This was the old power plant repurposed as a Barnes and Noble bookstore and other businesses. In the bookstore you can still look up at the old huge smoke stacks! I like it when they save old buildings and find a new use for them.
Here we are at a ship's wheel
Many of the old gospel songs had a nautical theme and a great old hymn states "Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me"
Here's a video version by the Robbie Seay Band
Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.
Chart and compass come from Thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
When I played this version for Brooksyne she thought it sounded alot like Chris Tomlin's arrangement of "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" Video
"We Have An Anchor"
Here's a video version sung by Robin Marks
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
We are so pleased to see these old hymns so rich in content revived!
This street musician sang for tips and sounded really good!
A google map of our visit to the Baltimore inner harbor is here. (We'll share our final set of inner harbor photos tomorrow.)
Photo Correction: Yesterday we posted this photo of young people we referred to as Amish. Stephen was under the impression that Mennonites do not wear straw hats but the Amish do and based his assumption on that basis. An alert reader corrected this assumption which supported my assessment that these were actually conservative Mennonite (probably the horse and buggie kind.) I thought the ladies dresses looked like that which Mennonite wear. We put a call into our Amish friend Anna Ruth and she verified that these were indeed Mennonites, based on our description. The determining factor was that the women's cape dresses were made of print material. Amish wear only solid fabrics according to our friend.
Final funny note: The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch in their homes and English is their secondary language. When Stephen put in the phone call to Anna Ruth this morning their three year old daughter answered. She picked up the phone and asked, "Where are you?" As you can imagine, Stephen was thrown off a little. Anna Ruth took the phone from Naomi and explained all the while chuckling, "We're trying to teach Naomi to ask the caller 'Who are you?' but she's confusing the words, 'who' with 'where'."
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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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