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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
This last weekend we enjoyed a horse-drawn sleigh ride with our friends Jeff and Lois at the Yancey Sugar Bush in Northern New York. It was a first time experience for us to ride on a horse pulled sleigh in the quiet snow covered woods. It might be spring on the calendar but the wintery snow made its appearance which dampened the outdoor sounds you would ordinarily hear in the country setting. The Belgian draft horses had no trouble pulling the sleigh through the woods. The black lab on the right walked alongside the sleigh the entire time and slipped to the back only when the trail grew narrow. He is 8 years old and very arthritic but it didn't keep him from participating in the fun filled day.
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"The Danger Of The Crowd"
"Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd" (Exodus 23:2). "“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. “Crucify him!” they shouted. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify Him!” Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified" (Mark 15:12-15).
Years ago Brooksyne placed a large poster on the wall of a Sunday School classroom that's often attributed to Albert Einstein: "What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right." That quote is a good thought-provoking message especially for teenagers, but really it's true for people in all seasons of their lives. However as morals continue to erode and mankind moves farther and farther from God's standards it may be more accurate to state, "What is right is not usually popular and what is popular is not usually right."
People have always felt the tug to walk the road more traveled where they simply follow the crowd. In teens we refer to it as peer pressure, yet peer pressure can affect more than just teens.
In the Law Moses warned the people against following the crowd in doing wrong. There's a powerful incitement to side with the crowd and God calls this a perversion of justice.
Crowds also have crowd pleasers. We see that a lot today in politicians but it's nothing new. The ultimate expression of a crowd pleaser was visible at the trial of Jesus. In the Apostle's Creed there's a simple line that states Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate." What a way to have your name recorded in the history books!
Pilate was a crowd pleaser and the quintessential politician. He had neither courage nor conviction. On this particular day the crowd had made their wishes well known. Notice the phrase "wanting to please the crowd" in our daily text.
Warren Wiersbe, who is among our favorite Bible teachers, comments: "Pilate knew what was right, but refused to do anything about it. Judas yielded to the devil in his great sin; Peter yielded to the flesh when he denied his Lord; but Pilate yielded to the world and listened to the crowd. Pilate looked for the easy way, not the right way."
Pilate had the opportunity to do the right thing and a careful reading of the Gospel text indicates that he intuitively knew what the right thing was. He was deeply troubled within and though his wife expressed spiritual sensitivity and sensibility he refused to listen to her. When he faced the pressure of the crowd who cried out "Crucify Him" the deadly blend of his cowardice leadership and lack of personal conviction became his defining moment in history.
We continue to face this tension in so many situations. We all battle with "the crowd" mentality and have a compulsion to please with the intent of getting along with others. Standing up against the crowd can have severe consequences. I'm convinced, as our culture continues to slide into unconstrained decadence, that the faithful godly remnant will have to stand up against the crowd and will likely pay a high price.
Are there not some characteristics of Pilate in each of us? May our ears not be tuned to the reckless leanings and deviate behavior of the world. Instead let our ears be tuned to the bold message of God's Word that teaches us to stand by our convictions, whether or not it pleases the crowd and regardless of the consequences. We're called to do that today and everyday!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father God, I'm often tempted to add my voice to the crowd or simply blend in with the majority opinion. But because I choose to follow You I want to hear Your voice rather than the conflicting voices of others; I want to yield to the guidance of Your Holy Spirit rather than the prevailing philosophy of our day. I choose to follow You and I want to do so no matter the cost. Make me strong enough, courageous enough, and prayerful enough that I will stand even when others fall. When it feels as though I am standing alone remind me that You and I are a majority. When I stand up for You I stand in victory no matter the temporal consequences. It would seem that Jesus stood alone and was defeated in His physical death. Hope diminished over the days following His crucifixion. But His triumph over death finally became evident when He rose from the dead. Remind us that today's obedience brings tomorrow's victory. In the precious name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Additional note: Many of us have wondered just how many of the same people who cried out "Hosanna in the highest!" at the Triumphal Entry were in another crowd days later demanding Jesus' death with one condemning voice: "Away with this man!" I wonder how many in either gathering acted with deep convictions or were they just following the crowd?
I read an interesting insight on this matter in an article by Dr. Stanley Horton, one of my professors in Bible College (who is now 96 years old.) He observes: "Actually those who shouted 'Hosanna' were people who were coming into Jerusalem. The ones who shouted 'Crucify Him' were a Jerusalem group probably routed out of bed by the Sadducees and other enemies of Jesus. Most of those who shouted 'Hosanna' were like the two who met Jesus on the road as they went back to Emmaus. They said, "Jesus 'was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel'" (Luke 24:19-21).
Stanley Horton will turn 97 in May and, amazingly, is still very active on Facebook!
More maple syrup producer photos
On Sunday afternoon following the church service we drove to Yancey's Sugarbush which has been operated by the Yancey family since 1844. In one season of making maple syrup they will use 70 cords of wood. (Generally 1 cord of wood is burned over a winter season in the household of a wood burning stove.)
Yancey's hosted a tour of the Sugar Shanty along with horse-drawn sleigh rides through the woods where there are 5500 taps (mostly buckets) in the maple trees. It takes the workers about 2 and 1/2 days to check all the taps and gather the sap for boiling into maple syrup. It's a family operation and the entire family participated in our tour including their friendly dogs.
Beautiful forest scenery as viewed from the sleigh!
The bulk syrup is stored in the barrels.
We saw thousands of these pails tapped into trees all through New York. This large maple tree alongside the road had four pails collecting the exuding sap. Not only were metal pails common sights, but also sap bags and in a few cases old drywall joint compound buckets. We sure hope they washed them out good before collecting sap in them!
This tapped maple tree is generously pouring forth sap. The tap is called a spile.
(Photo taken on a warmer day!)
Rather than pails hanging on trees some larger syrup making operations have plastic tubing running through the woods and collecting into a large container system.
This morning we enjoyed buttermilk waffles with hot maple syrup!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"We All Bow Down" Video Lenny LeBlanc & Integrity Worship Singers
"I Surrender All" Video
"Man After Your Own Heart" Video Gary Chapman
"A Heart Like Mine" Video Brian Duncan
"The Bridge" Video
The Yancey's Sugarbush Facebook page
Google map of region in New York we visited this last weekend.
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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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