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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Amish in Lancaster County, PA
This open cart of young ladies were out and about yesterday on a pleasant summer morning here in Lancaster County.

"A Peculiar People"

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"Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (
Titus 2:14). "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

Interesting town names are ... well, they're interesting. We have quite a few here in Lancaster County, even one that may be prone to making an outsider blush. But everywhere you go there are interesting town names. In western Missouri along I-49 there are at least two that we want to share about in the next two messages.

Peculiar Missouri signLast week we drove into Peculiar, a quaint little town on the outer edges of Kansas City's sprawling suburbs. This is directly south of Belton where I spent my younger years. It's grown a lot since I was a kid but we still saw the typical small town old Main Street as well as the attractive sign shown to the left.

Here's how Peculiar got its name (from the town's website): "The pioneer settlers decided their drowsy, maple-shaded hamlet ought to have a name. After several sessions in the general store they narrowed the choice to three names, but couldn't settle on any one. All three names were sent to the post office for consideration. All three were in use elsewhere. They decided to appeal directly to the postmaster general, agreeing to let him make the final decision. 'We don't care what name you give us,' they said, 'so long as it is sort of peculiar.' Probably with tongue in cheek the postmaster general wrote a long and courteous reply. He said he had given their predicament grave consideration. 'My conclusion' he wrote, 'is that in all the land it would be difficult to imagine a more distinctive, a more peculiar name than Peculiar.' And Peculiar it has remained ever since." *¹

The town motto is "Where the 'odds' are with you."

Today we want to consider an identical phrase from both daily texts, "a peculiar people" which most modern versions change, likely due to the negative connotations the word "peculiar" presently has. "Peculiar" is not used very much now and perhaps the meaning has even changed from the King James days. Synonyms now are "odd, strange, weird". Today if we were to describe someone as "peculiar" it would probably be taken as an insult!

However it's a vitally important description of the Christian as used in the KJV. Other versions use this phrasing, "a people belonging to God" (NIV), "a people for God's own possession" (NASV), "His own special people" (NKJV), "a people to be peculiarly His own" (Amplified).

Christians are a distinct people because God has purchased and preserved us for Himself. We are His possession now. Distinct from the worldly mindset we are called to live as people who reside in the physical world but fix our hearts and affections in the spiritual kingdom. Jesus said concerning His disciples, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it" (John 17:16).

We, as God's people, have been called into "His wonderful light" which is a stark contrast to this world full of darkness.  We seek to keep a spiritual, eternal outlook in the midst of daily temporal demands. But when all is said and done we must confess that the scales often tip in favor of the physical, temporal priorities vs. the spiritual and eternal priorities. It's a continual caution to the believer.

So much of the physical and temporal focus obscures the wonderful light of Christ and is borne out in the resulting darkness of the world. Injustice, despair, and destruction abound in our sin-ravaged world and character flaws are visible
universally in the human race.

God's dealings with humankind require an internal searchlight since darkness from within must first be eradicated. The peculiar (or distinct) teaching about God's plan of redemption is that the answers people seek are not found in the visible physical realm. One must deal with their inner person; replacing their sin nature with their new spiritual nature that comes for God.  After doing so they will "show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness". Their presence illumines the darkness because the Light of Truth within brings glory to God.  Yes, indeed, God's people are peculiar in contrast to the world.

Today let us rejoice that we are God's peculiar people and victoriously walk in His wonderful light. May our words as well as our actions truly declare His praises!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we deal with the temporal demands of this day, may the principles that guide us be of eternal origin. We seek not to blend in with this sin-darkened world but choose to be the salt of the earth. You have made us a peculiar people who are called to be the light of the world. May our light shine for all the world to see so that our good deeds bring praise to Your holy name. Amen.

More Peculiar trivia: When I was young we had a Major League Baseball team in Kansas City known as the Kansas City Athletics, which was relocated in the late sixties to Oakland where they still play. The Athletics were owned by a very colorful man named Charlie O. Finley. The stadium had a mechanized rabbit near home plate which popped up to give the umpire more baseballs. Once in a squabble with Kansas City officials Charlie O, as he was known, threatened to move the team to a cow pasture in Peculiar. If he had the professional baseball team would have been known as "Peculiar Athletics".

Back In Lancaster County

We resumed our chaplain visitation to eastern Lancaster County yesterday after our two week trip to the Midwest
. We rarely travel through this area without seeing some interesting sights!

Amish garden in Lancaster County PA
Everything is very lush and green after much rain several weeks ago. This garden has mostly vegetables but a front row of zinnias provide a nice view on the house side for the folks who reside here.

Amish buggy in Lancaster County PA
A pleasant sight when approaching a buggie from behind is the children looking out the back. We passed several like this yesterday. They are always pleased to share their smiles and generally wave at the passersby.

Amish house in Lancaster County PA
We visited with some friends whose son had been ill and was recovering from surgery. This photo of their house has four distinct elements that make it interesting to me. *²

Lancaster County PA produce stand 7/24/13
"POP'S PRODUCE" stand has free water for horses. It's so nice to buy fresh home-grown produce all through the summer.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Chosen Generation"  Video   Chris Tomlin

"Today"  Video  Peculiar People Band  Interesting name for a band!

*¹ History of Peculiar

*² Why I find this photo interesting!
   1) Windmill
in background popping over roof
   2) Pulley for long clothesline
   3) Rusty metal roof
   4) Peeling paint

Visit To Harwood Missouri. Here is a page with photos and memories I prepared especially for my family regarding our visit last week to Harwood Missouri, the little town where my grandparents lived and my Mom grew up. Perhaps it will prompt some similar memories in some of our readers of a special town from your childhood!

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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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