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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Amish boys in cart with trailer 1/14/15
Yesterday in the course of our travels in rural Lancaster County we came upon this sight. Two groups of Amish children were leaving a one room schoolhouse for an outing. It looks like the boys were planning on playing some hockey

"A Contest Of Depravity"

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“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17-24).

Yesterday we were listening to the news during our travel throughout the county between our chaplain visits. One report told of a young boy who executed two men in Syria as part of ISIS and the Islamic Jihad.* The news commentator used a phrase that caught our attention as she described the ever increasing levels of evil as a "contest of depravity".

I suppose it especially caught our attention since "depravity" is usually used more in a theological sense to describe the innate corruption of human nature due to original sin. But in a broader sense the news commentator correctly used the word, "depravity" as a means of describing "moral corruption; wickedness".

As we drove along this prompted a discussion of how there does seem to be a "contest of depravity" taking place on many fronts. We read an article the other day concerning a Hollywood awards ceremony on Sunday night and the celebration of a newer form of perverseness that I suspect even among the many "progressives" would have been unthinkable just several years ago.

Red Light District It's practically incomprehensible the degree and scope of moral decadence that is present today, both the culturally approved and culturally unapproved (which so often becomes "approved" over time). Practically every day there is some new acceptance, promotion or justification for some type of behavior that was once considered deviant. What will the next frontier look like as those things once considered "deviant" are referred to as "good" by fallen humans? Can anyone deny there is an increase in wickedness? It indeed does seem there is a contest of depravity on many fronts.

The daily Scripture portion is longer than usual but provides fuller context. It's a good portion to read aloud several times. Maybe you'd like to print it out and memorize it since it is a good passage for reference during these challenging times.

Today let us focus on two verses that succinctly describe fallen humanity, which includes each of us since we were all ruined by the the fall: "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more."

Homeless man "They" describes the human race. It describes all of us apart from the redemptive work of Christ. What we particularly want to focus on today is the last phrase, "a continual lust for more." This translates a word pleonexia which describes an insatiable craving greed, consuming ambition and/or giving rein to the appetites and desires which are against the laws of God and man. The picture is of  indulging in self-gratification with no regard for others, willing to do almost anything in an attempt to gratify the flesh.

This “continual lust for more” began in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. God had provided enough, absolutely all they needed. In the midst of all the blessings and that which God permitted in Eden stood the forbidden tree. The crafty serpent enticed Adam and Eve that this forbidden fruit was a "gotta have". Because they did not resist the temptation, their disobedience resulted in what theologians call “original sin”.

Since that time people have had the struggle of resisting the forbidden! Whatever level of wickedness temporarily "satisfies" the sinful cravings, it will eventually be insufficient. More will be needed. This can be seen in so many of Satan's vices such as gambling, alcohol, drugs, pornography, and sexual immorality. Vices so often begin with a scaled down
"harmless" introduction but will all too often become your master. It will take you where you never wanted to go, keep you longer than you planned to stay, and seize more than you wanted to give. Does anyone really set goals for themselves to live in the gutter of sin? 

Ephesians 4:17-19 Today as God’s standards of morality are mocked and shrugged aside we see this phenomenon of a "a continual lust for more" growing at a fevered pitch.

We frankly wonder what the next frontier will be when that which is presently considered deviant behavior becomes the norm. It may be something we can hardly imagine but just consider where we are now and that which was unimaginable just a few years ago, by Christians and non-Christian alike.

The ungodly make big business out of every kind of impurity. Pornography, prostitution, vulgar media, and every other kind of impurity make up one of the largest industries in our country. The vast majority of it is open, shameless, and legally protected.  Many years ago a Christian leader observed that many of the books published in the United States today rival the drippings of a broken sewer, but his words precede the availability of the internet and other media. Now the drippings have become a steaming pot of debauchery.

With the flood of evil, pornography and various perversions sweeping over our land and around the world many of those who have partaken now have "a continual lust for more." Deeper and deeper depths of depravity can be expected and the evil acts that accompany it. We should not be surprised.

Ephesians 4:23 Today's message is a sobering assessment and actually may not be very encouraging. But the very next verse brings joy to our hearts today: "You, however, did not come to know Christ that way” (Ephesians 4:20).

Those that experience the life transforming power of Jesus Christ are different. They are "made new in the attitude of your minds." The slide into decadence stops and the renewal begins. We are a new creation. Rather than having a continual lust for more wickedness we become seekers of God's Kingdom with a continual desire for more righteousness, peace and joy.

Everyone is headed in one direction or the other. Which way are you headed today? Let us forsake the contest of depravity and spread our confession of faith.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, shape my thinking into that which will bring about growth and conformity to Your will. Teach me to think not in accordance with my own human instincts or that of others, but in accordance with the truth as revealed in Your Word.  There is a growing majority of those with a secular platform whose hearts are hardened against godly teaching. They are darkened in their understanding to the point that they choose and condone sinful behavior. With the growing acceptance and visibility of every kind of impurity I ask You to help me stand firm to that which is taught in Scripture lest I be drawn by the tempter into this contest of depravity that spreads daily in this evil world. I am not discouraged but determined to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and invite others to join me on the straight and narrow way that leads to life eternal. It's in His name that I pray. Amen.

Amish girls in cart 1/14/15

After passing the boys as seen in our lead photo we saw the girls.

Amish girls in cart 1/14/15

More 2015 Pennsylvania Farm Show photos

Tuesday afternoon Ester and I went to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show which is the largest indoor farm show in the U.S. l which essentially is our state fair held in the city in the winter. We shared several photos yesterday and want to do so again today.

PA farm show 1/13/15
One large building has farm machinery set up for display such as these two combines along with a demonstration field.

PA farm show 1/13/15
I don't know why they have a fair in the middle of the winter but it is enjoyable seeing all the fresh produce and eating apple samples!

PA farm show 1/13/15
I took this photo for Brooksyne who enjoys canning

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“This Little Child"  Video
   Scott Wesley Brown  This ballad type song was written in the eighties and my, have we come a long ways since then down the road of depravity. Contains the Gospel but also a powerful statement regarding man's depravity and the evil in the world. This version contains the lyrics as well. If you have not heard this song Iwe urge you to do so and consider the message.

"Jesus Saves"  Video  Travis Cottrell  Hallelujah!

* Here's a news report on the execution referred to in our first paragraph.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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