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October 28, 2013

Quilt mural on building wall
This large quilt mural is on the outside wall of a quilt shop in Intercourse PA.

"Watch Out For Deception"

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"Watch out that no one deceives you" (Matthew 24:4). "Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God" (2 Corinthians 4:2a). "For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception" (Titus 1:10). "Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).  

For many years I have added to a file folder I label "Fluff". It contains an assortment of material that either puffs up someone else's personal image in a way I discern as deceptive or offers methods intended to inflate my own image which also seems deceptive to me. (Of course, these offers also come with a fee attached.)

This file includes items like embellished resumes, misleading biographical backgrounds, inflated educational attainments and bogus credentials. I went through the file this morning and found an example from over 15 years ago. It was a service that for $8.00 per month would provide a ready-made article called "Pastor's Perspective" you could copy and paste in the church bulletin or newsletter with your own name on it as if you had actually written it. I thought this was called plagiarism!

Shortly after the daily encouragement writing ministry began I was visiting a neighboring church and saw that the pastor had copied and pasted a daily encouragement article I had written word for word, including a uniquely personal experience. He then placed his name at the bottom of the article as if he had written it himself. (Certainly I have no problem with others passing on a message I've written, but it should be noted as such!)

Similar appeals arrive regularly through the email and the internet. For some it's apparently meaningful to have lots of "Likes" or "friends" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter. One prominent politician spent
$630,000.00 of the taxpayer's money to get "likes" on Facebook to increase her popularity, though it was simply an artificial pumping. I have seen material offering methods and programs to get more likes, friends and followers. I am not really sure how using this method gets me more "likes", "friends" or "followers" in any really meaningful sense (at least in the way I have used the words). Due to the anonymity of our age and the pressure to succeed this practice has expanded.

Jesus warned that we are to "Watch out that no one deceives you." Deception comes in many forms, and can impact every age group, both Christians and non-Christians. Seniors can be especially vulnerable to some types of deception. But Jesus is primarily speaking of spiritual deception in this verse as it pertains to the last days. (See entire chapter of Matthew 24.) We need to always be on our guard.
"Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).  

The apostle Paul makes a simple statement in the second daily text regarding his approach: "We do not use deception." He acknowledged in his first letter that "by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10).  May our sense of worth be built upon His love toward us and the grace He extends to us, never from the deceit of other's words or methods nor our own self-deceit.

Bible teacher J.B. Phillips has a pithy summary of the three ministerial perversions Paul staunchly disavows... "We use no hocus-pocus, no clever tricks, no dishonest manipulation of the Word of God."

That's the kind of disciple I want to be and encourage each reader to be likewise. May it be said of us, "We do not use deception!" Instead we "speak the truth in love."

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You are the Father of Truth for You authored its meaning and revealed it fully in the person of Jesus Christ who was without sin. We live in a world full of impostors that have gone from bad to worse; those who use trickery, deceit, and distortion to mislead and gain the allegiance of others. Help us to be wise, discerning, and honest so that we will be people of integrity and sterling character leading people to faith in Jesus where they will find forgiveness for their sins, truth as revealed in Scripture, and life everlasting. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Another memory of fluff in ministry: I shared this story many years ago but it bears repeating for newer readers. My all-time favorite example of "fluff" is an appeal I saw many years ago to be an "ordained minister" and "doctor" available through mail-order. Out of curiosity and to check the legitimacy of the claim I filled out the form and sent it in for my dog. I was curious as to what kind of screening or background checks my dog's application would be subject to. But within a couple of weeks my dog, Enoch, received a certificate with his new title, Rev. Enoch Weber.  It has an embossed gold seal and is actually quite impressive looking. He could have been a "doctor" too but that costs $25.00! Here's a fuller story about Enoch, the dog we had as a newly married couple in 1976.

Some scenes from our journey

Amish tandem wagons 10/25/13
Near Rockvale Square we passed this Amish farmer hauling tandem wagons.
In the background is the Fulton Steamboat Inn, a hotel shaped like a steamboat!

Amish open cart 10/25/13
We approached this Amish man out on a chilly fall day near New Holland PA in his open cart. He had a blanket wapped around him

Amish sale sign 10/25/13
Many of the Amish farms have something for sale and the landscape is dotted with signs like this. We suppose they always have at least one "free kitten" to throw in with any sale!

Breakfast at Kling House Restaurant, Intercourse PA 10/25/13
We stopped for breakfast at Kling House Restaurant in Intercourse PA. Many of the Lancaster County restaurants offer a free birthday meal and this one made it available all month so we stopped by!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

Today finding songs related to deception was difficult so we will share some music we heard this last Saturday on the Gospel Greats radio show that touched our hearts!

"Faith Like That"  Video  Gordon Mote (Based on a true story of a six year old who died.  The writer was a friend of the family.)

"Too Much to Gain to Lose"  Video  Beyond the Ashes (An old Dottie Rambo song revised and a little different arrangement.)

"The Son Shines Down On Me"  Video  Canton Junction (I really like the old-fashioned Jim Reeves style of music that accompanies this song. )

Intercourse, PA is the actual name of a small touristy village here in Lancaster Country.

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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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