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Monday, January 20, 2014

Dual horsepower buggy, Lancaster County, PA 1/19/14
Dual horse powered buggy in Lancaster County, PA

"Casting Off Restraints"

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"Where there is no word from God [vision; prophecy], people are uncontrolled [ the people perish]" (Proverbs 29:18a Expanded Bible).

Proverbs 29:18
Proverbs 29:18 was an oft quoted Bible verse from our Bible College years. It states, "Where there is no vision, the people perish". It was primarily understood to emphasize the need for having a vision, that is, godly goals and plans for how you would live your life and pursue your ministry.

Having vision in life is important, particularly in the younger years but it's true regardless of our age. Several weeks ago we visited with Daryl Leisey, who has been an encouragement and advisor to our ministry for many years. As he and his wife, Janet, sat around our dining room table he asked thoughtful questions regarding our future plans. It's rather easy to start coasting as you grow older, yet we want to remain committed in our Christian endeavors. We're especially motivated by a verse we both memorized early in our walk with Christ: "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

However today we want to suggest another understanding of Proverbs 29:18. A helpful feature of the Bible Gateway online Bible (also true of other online Bibles) is the ability to simultaneously compare a verse in a wide variety of translations.*  As I study this verse, while affirming the truth of the traditional understanding, I also see another way of looking at it that powerfully speaks to our current world that is increasingly entering into a period of lawlessness.

The ESV states, "Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint." The NIV renders the verse, "Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint."

I consider the sense that when there is a loss of God's Word being proclaimed and applied to life the healthy restraints that God has ordained are removed. Increasingly it seems many see the restraints of God's Word as a negative instead of appreciating the importance of God setting boundaries. When people disregard boundaries there is no end to how far they will plunge into decadence. Some of the daily news we hear from all over the world leaves us shaking our heads, wondering "what next?" The scale of evil continues to tip downward, so much so, that a believer might despair except for the glimmering hope presented to us through Paul when he wrote  to the Roman believers, "Where sin abounds grace doth much more abound" (Romans 5:20).

Lawlessness & disorder
Sadly in our observation far too many in the church also see it this way. I recently read an article about a faddish movement known as "hypergrace" that sees redemption only from the perspective of deliverance from the consequences of the Fall. Proponents of this teaching view "sin" as a noun (condition), but essentially deny "sin" (active) as a verb. In this view one may live as one chooses since grace covers it all.*

Open Bible
A healthy, full understanding of God's Word reveals that there are rules and principles for godly living. The faithful preacher proclaims the whole counsel of God (see Acts 20:27). The conscientious Christian reads all of God's Word seeking to diligently apply its truths (see 2 Timothy 3:16,17). When we fail to do so restraints are cast away. Isn't that the condition we see in so much of our present age?

When Proverbs 29:18 is quoted we tend to neglect the latter part of the verse, which I believe supports this interpretation, "but blessed is he who keeps the law." Now to be clear in a New Testament understanding of salvation we don't "keep the law" in order to be saved but rather see God's Word as our primary guide for godly living.

Titus 2:11-14 has a powerful word concerning the healthy restraints resulting from God's grace: "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, help us to remember that Your restraints are loving and holy, offered in the package of grace You extend to those who call on Your name. When we refrain from activities and attitudes that displease You we're preventing erosion of Christian values and preserving Your Spirit of holiness. The Bible says there is none righteous, no not one, but the Holy Spirit who resides within us draws us to You and thereby sets us apart for holy service. Keep us separate and help us to say "no" to anything that would ensnare us to the enemy who seeks to devour and destroy us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Dual horsepower buggy, Lancaster County, PA 1/19/14
view from my rear view mirror!
Yesterday we had a request from our Amish friends who wanted to attend an Amish church service in their former district which is in our area. So I drove across the county and picked them up at 6:45 yesterday morning (They had already completed the morning milking!) I dropped them off at the farm where the service was held at 7:30 and returned them to their farm at 3:00 PM. How's that for a long service and time of fellowship? When I pulled in to pick them up it was so neat to see all the children playing
outside (a rare sight these days in our English circles)! Ester went with me when we dropped them off in the afternoon and on the way home we passed lots of horses and buggies but noted one with dual horsepower. She snapped a photo as we passed which we use at the top. The team pulled up behind us at a stoplight and this is a view from our rear view mirror!

Open house fellowship 1/19/14
Last night we had folks over who sang in the Christmas choir. They came with their families
and enjoyed some food and fellowship. Here's a spontaneous singing of the chorus from their theme song "Hope Has Hands".  Video recorded by Ester. Eleven choir members were missing but the abbreviated song recorded pretty nicely. Here's a full version by Greater Vision Video (not recorded in our living room and a bit more practiced than our spontaneous recording last night!)

Justin and Ashley 1/19/14It was a joy to visit with Justin and Ashley Eberly last night. They were married last year and are faithfully serving the Lord together. We met Ashley when she attended a little country church where Stephen served as interim pastor several years ago. She became like family and we were delighted when she and Justin joined our Christmas Choir, thereby reconnecting with them again.

Mike and Brooke 1/19/14Saturday morning Mike and Brooke stopped by to visit. I knew Mike a number of years ago when he worked in a company where we serve as chaplains. They now live in the Clearfield County area, not far from where we lived for over 15 years in northern Pennsylvania. Brooke is a teacher and Mike works in a machine shop.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Video  Brian Doerksen (Traditional version)

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Video Chris Tomlin

"Take my life/ Holiness"  Video   Scott Underwood

"Take Time To Be Holy"  Video  Mennonite Hour Men's Quartet

Further study:

* This link opens to Proverbs 29:18 in all English translations in Bible Gateway (over 40!).

* "What Is Hypergrace?" 
The term hyper-grace has been used to describe a new wave of teaching that emphasizes the grace of God to the exclusion of other vital teachings such as repentance and confession of sin. Hyper-grace teachers maintain that all sin, past, present, and future, has already been forgiven, so there is no need for a believer to ever confess it. Hyper-grace teaching says that, when God looks at us, He sees only a holy and righteous people. The conclusion of hyper-grace teaching is that we are not bound by Jesus’ teaching, even as we are not under the Law; that believers are not responsible for their sin; and that anyone who disagrees is a pharisaical legalist. In short, hyper-grace teachers “pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 1:4) and flirt with antinomianism.

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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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