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Thursday, August 9, 2012
Delavan Wisconsin is a tidy little town with a wide brick main street. These green lamp posts with hanging pots of colorful annuals line the brick streets.
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"Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: 'Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious'" (Acts 17:22).
Yesterday we visited Madison, the state capitol of Wisconsin. It's a beautiful city nestled between several large natural lakes. We toured the grand capitol building and a museum devoted to those from Wisconsin who had served in military wars. Our tour hosts were my cousin Doug and his wife Georgia who have lived in Wisconsin for many years. In fact a distant ancestor of Georgia's started the war museum after the Civil War.
Madison is known for being a very liberal or progressive city, often referred to as the "People's Republic of Madison". It was a rainy day (thankfully, since this area really needs rain) so we saw few people on the streets but saw many expressive bumper stickers and posters on windows of apartments and houses. In the winter of 2011 there were daily demonstrations in the capitol building. We visited with the capitol police officer in charge at that time and he told us the marble floors were covered with mud and the ornate walls were plastered with posters.
I regularly hear Madison mentioned in association with an organization called "The Freedom From Religion Foundation". Its existence is intent on stamping out any expression of religious faith in the public square.
Actually it seems their main target is the Christian religion and I often see their name come up in cases where someone is heard praying in public using Jesus' name, when a speaker is referring to his or her faith in a commencement address, or when a cross is found on a building (though it may have been there one hundred years or more). Yesterday I noted an outstanding mural in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda depicting Moses as the Lawgiver. I hope this atheistic group doesn't recognize this foundational biblical character and seek to remove it!
Groups like this claim to be intellectually superior to others and enlightened, free from what they believe are the shackles of religion. See John 8:36. Romans 1:22 states, "Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22). In reality for those of us who have seen the light of Christ these verses apply Romans 1:21, Ephesians 4:17-19, 2 Corinthians 4:4.
Way up into Maine, far farther than most people ever dare venture, is sprawling Arostook County. Along US 1 there is a small town called Mars Hill named for Hezekiah Mars, who camped for three years at the base of what is now Mars Hill Mountain. But I find the name interesting due to a rather obscure reference in the Bible where we also read of a "Mars Hill" (KJV) which is translated "Areopagus" in most modern versions.
"Mars Hill" is where Paul confronted the intellectual elite in Athens. It translates the Greek "Areios Pagos". This was an interesting and challenging time of ministry for Paul as he confronted head on the wisdom of the world. Some feel he failed here since there is no record of the establishment of a church. However the chapter ends by recording that several believed, including "Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus."
Some of you work in a place like Madison or Mars Hill today. Boston or Berkeley would be similar. I especially consider those in highly academic and scientific fields. Although unbelief abounds everywhere, it really seems more dominant in these areas. Those who have faith in God are increasingly mocked and reviled. The challenge to keep your faith and spread it can be daunting. Let me share a Scriptural insight today.
Notice that Paul says to these men of Athens, "I see that in every way you are very religious." The religious expression of so many around us is the religion of naturalism, although many would deny being religious at all. However everyone has some type of explanation (often called a world view) of the bigger picture of what life is all about. I contend in one way or another that this is an expression of their religious view which also requires faith.
I encourage you today to stand up for what you believe, and like Paul, faithfully declare the God who is yet unknown to so many in our generation!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we who find the answers to life in the Scriptures have also found the peace that comes with knowing Jesus as our Saviour. There is a restlessness and unending struggle for those who set out to rewrite that which has already been written for all time; the manual for all people of every nation, inspired by the Holy Spirit. We thank You for the Bible, Your holy instructions that teach, inspire, and give us faith for that which we don't understand or have not yet experienced. The cross is foolishness to those who don't believe, but for us who place our trust in Your plan for our salvation, cherish the old rugged cross so despised by the world. Keep us faithful and trusting until all is fully revealed in Your divine time. Amen.
This dog is preparing for his cross country ride. We referred to him as the Harley dog and he actually looked a little like a Harley guy, though we didn't see any tattoos. His owner, who resides in Colorado, told us he had ridden with him over 35,000 miles while strapped to his back!
In the 1800s more than 25 circuses used Delavan as their winter quarters. It was called the "Circus Capital of the World". Several fiberglass sculptures in the center of town depict the circus animals and Ester couldn't resist taking a drink from the lion's mouth.
Doug and Georgia McKelvey in the Capitol Rotunda.
We were delayed by a train in Madison which I (Stephen) always find worthwhile.
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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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