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Friday, May 31, 2013
Listen to this message on your audio player. Note: In spite of a new mic I'm still having problems with the podcast and thus not available today!
"Learning To Please The Lord"
"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them" (Ephesians 5:6-11).
The other day we were visiting a company and saw the old blue VW beetle shown in our opening photo parked in the parking lot. I inquired inside and learned it was owned by Jerry, a supervisor who is actually taller than I am bu certainly a bit thinner. I told him seeing the VW prompted an old memory and asked if it would OK if I sat inside it. Of course he consented, so I crammed my 6'2, 250 pound frame inside so Brooksyne could take the photo!
She grew up on a farm and by the time she was 13 was driving a tractor so using a clutch was her experience from the beginning. But I learned to drive using an automatic transmission. My older brother Pat had bought a VW beetle while in the service in Belgium and gave me permission to take it for a drive. He told me using a clutch was different than automatic but being a cocky teenager I brushed his advice aside confident I could handle it. I went with my Mom and two girls I can't recall. I thought one of them was my younger sister Genelle but she couldn't recall this incident and if she had been a part of it she almost certainly would have remembered!
We took off for a drive through Independence Missouri and I popped the clutch persistently. I just couldn't get the hang of it. At one point I came upon the railroad tracks crossing 35th Street west of Noland Road when of all things I stalled on the railroad tracks with a huge freight train coming. I panicked and couldn't get it going so I jumped out and some other drivers helped me push that little VW bug off the tracks. Thankfully the train was advancing very slowly so it really wasn't a close call.
I managed to make it home and after that frightening experience quickly got the hang of using a clutch. In fact I drove a propane delivery truck while in college and a school bus in the early years of our ministry. Although I haven't driven a manual transmission in many years I am quite sure I could resume quite naturally without popping the clutch!
Today's entire passage is so powerful and informative but let us focus on on a single phrase, "trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."
Some skills in life may be a bit hard to learn at first, such as those learning to drive with a clutch, or learning to stay afloat while swimming, or keeping a bike in motion while riding. But once the skill is learned it comes naturally and does not need to be relearned. We don't forget how to swim or ride a bike even if we haven't done so for many years.
But in regard to spiritual truths and pleasing the Lord it is a lifelong learning pursuit. The Precept commentary states: "Believers are required to walk as children of light, examining and determining what is acceptable to the Lord. They are to regulate their conduct by a regard to what is well-pleasing to Him. That is the ultimate standard of judging whether anything is right or wrong, worthy or unworthy of those who have been enlightened from above. 'Trying to learn' means putting to the test for the purpose of approving, proving, commending or accepting as good and authentic. As our minds are renewed through God’s Word, we prove in our experience what pleases God." *
Romans 12: 2 states, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Here are several principles from Ephesians 5 for those who have a heart in "trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord". These can Biblically inform us as to how we may please the Lord regarding any issue we may have questions about:
1) We are called to be imitators of God. (V. 1)
2) There should not be a hint of evil in our behavior. (V. 2)
3) We are not to be deceived by empty words. (V. 6)
4) The Bible prohibits ungodly partnerships. (V. 7)
5) We are called to live as children of light (V. 8)
6) We are to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness (V. 11)
7) We are to be very careful, then, how we live—not as unwise but as wise (V. 15)
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we are called to imitate You. When we imitate You there is not a hint of evil in our behavior; we are not deceived by empty words but live as children of light and have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them. Help us to be careful, then, how we live; not as unwise or uninterested learners, but as wise, quick and enthused learners of that which pleases You. We want to learn what is pleasing to You all the days we inhabit the earth. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
* Precept commentary notes on Ephesians 5:10
I had forgotten today's clutch learning story until seeing the VW Beetle the other day and called my brother this morning over 40 years later. He may have wondered why the clutch slipped after I had used it.
This prompted a memory on his part concerning his wife Laverne, who was raised by missionary parents in Africa. For some reason she liked sports cars when she came to America. She was considering buying a Pontiac Firebird and took it for a test drive. Although she had driven a manual she nevertheless kept popping the clutch as she left the dealer lot. Interestingly to this day, although she is now in her mid-sixties, she prefers a manual transmission which she has on her current car.
Another car memory this prompted: My sister in law had a Pontiac GTO (a sixties "muscle" car). I was allowed to take it for a ride along with a friend. By this time I was confident in using a manual transmission. It was a powerful car with a huge engine and "four on the floor" manual transmission. I was excited to show my friend what the car could do so I drove out to the edge of town and pulled up to a four way stop. (I specifically recall it was the intersection of 39th Street and Lees Summit Road for those from that area!)
I looked ahead and to both sides. Then I took off, laying down rubber in each gear. We laughed as we zoomed along in fourth gear, but then I heard a siren and looked behind to see a police car chasing me. In my enthusiasm I had forgotten to look behind when I took off! Amazingly I got a very stern warning from the officer but no ticket. I am sure he had a good chuckle at such a foolish teenager and can only imagine the story he had to tell the other officers that day!
An Amish Drag Race!
Yesterday was a beautiful, quite warm day and it seems more than the usual amount of Amish buggies were on the road.
South of New Holland PA we followed a buggie driven by an Amish woman who, apparently due to the heat, was sitting 1/2 way outside the buggie.
She must have challenged the buggie immediately in front of her to a drag race and pulled over to the passing side and the buggies picked up speed and raced side by side for a moment. However you might notice that there is a car coming in the opposite lane!
Due to oncoming traffic she had to slow down and pull in behind the other buggie. I spoke last night to an Amish friend who laughed when I shared about this and he told me that this is not unusual, especially among the young men. Many of the horses used to pull the buggies are former race horses.
The children in the buggie ahead of the drag racing buggies enjoyed watching the action out the back window!
Yesterday we shared about our visit with Rick Masciantonio who returned to his home in Massachusetts after attending the "Banner Of Truth" minister's conference held in our area. Rick is a longtime friend I first met 20 years ago in the church we served in Taunton Massachusetts. He now preaches/teaches as many as seven times per week! He is surely one of the most studious men I have ever met.
Our Transport for Christ chaplain friend, Bunny O'Hare, stopped by yesterday and told us a story that deeply stirred his and Peg's heart regarding the Bible he purchased earlier that day at the local Thrift Store. While thumbing through it he came across a TFC newsletter dated back to 1978 with a poem written by Joyce Mast who (along with her husband Melvin) were Bunny and Peg's very first supporters (both since deceased). In addition there was another newsletter in the same Bible about a missionary couple who served for many years in New Guinea with Peg's sister and husband. Perhaps you can relate to those tender moments when "coincidental" happenings are really more providential in origin reminding You of God's workings in your life.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Oh, I Want To Know You More" Video Steve Fry
Oh, I want to know You more
Deep within my soul, I want to know You
Oh, I want to know You
To feel Your heart and know Your mind
Looking in Your eyes stirs up within me
Cries that say I want to know You
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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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