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Monday, April 20, 2015
Scene from our front lawn early Saturday morning with fog and lots of green!
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"Calling Good Evil"
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"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:20).
In June I will be attending a chaplain training conference and I hope to meet Chaplain Wesley Modder, a longtime Navy chaplain who who at one time served the Navy Seals. He's had a distinguished career and has been well regarded by those whom he serves.
However with our country's descending slide into decadence he is now in trouble for doing his job. Approached by a sailor with a request for counsel regarding a sexual issue he answered in accordance to the Bible supported by his long-held beliefs and convictions. You might say he gave the politically incorrect answer. He actually called evil, evil! It was a set-up and now he is under intense scrutiny and will possibly be discharged.
We expect more and more of this as our nation increasingly rejects God and His ways.
Yesterday I preached a message on "Raising Godly children in an ungodly age". I pointed out my conviction that a truly Biblical message should be appropriate in any generation. In other words the message I preached yesterday should have been just as truthful 50, 100 or 1000 years ago or even in the apostolic age, though cultural customs vary due to improved sanitation and modern conveniences.
We have used the daily text many times in the course of writing these messages, especially the first part, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil." Evil is increasingly called good. Evil has existed during every generation after the fall, yet in the past it would be determined as an evil period in the historical accountings. For instance just 50 years ago the church, whether liberal branches or conservative, was practically unanimous in its understanding of marriage, family and sexuality. For that matter even society was. Hollywood used to have biblical standards developed by a devout Presbyterian minister!
Now the steady erosion of calling evil good has brought about the inevitable corollary; good is called evil. And with a deep fog of spiritual blindness enveloping our country (and many others) people are frustrated and confused. A nationally known preacher recently made a statement concerning our present moral condition that was imminently Biblical and sensible regarding the obvious consequences to children being raised without a father's influence. He was excoriated by the national media with the typical charges of being intolerant, narrow-minded and of course hateful.
Among the signs of our culture's moral downfall is the failure to uphold the Creator's standards, which has led to great confusion as to what even constitutes evil.
What a powerful message in our daily text. Isaiah's "woe" is timeless. "Woe" is a literal transliteration of the Hebrew. In other words it's an expression that sounds the same in Hebrew, English or any language (similar to the word, "hallelujah"). Woe is also an onomatopoeia, which is when the formation of a word imitates the natural sound associated with the object or action involved. Consider the sounds of deep, painful wailing.
Woe is an exclamation of pain and grief. As our culture drifts farther and farther from its Biblical moorings we see the truth of Isaiah's proclamation. Do we also feel his exclamation of woe?
What is the source of this woe? Three are listed in the daily text.
1) who call evil good and good evil,
2) who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
3) who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Biblical morality is being turned on its head, not only in Isaiah's cultural setting but also in our lifetime. Sometimes I am stunned by what is now so contrary to the right and wrong I was taught as a child and was once commonly believed by believers and non-believers alike. But today much of what is evil is called good and what is good is called evil.
Today let us remain faithful to the perspective that God gives us through the inspiration of Scripture. As unpopular, "intolerant", socially insensitive, and politically incorrect as it may be described, let us continue to call evil "evil".
As God's children let us hear the words of the apostle Paul and "hate what is evil; cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we do not want to be overcome by evil but we want to overcome evil with good, as determined in Scripture. And the way we do this is to absorb, maintain, and uphold the Scriptural understanding of good and evil. We pray against authorities, personalities, and persuasive rhetoric that tempt us to compromise or water down the truths we learn from Scripture. The contrasts of light vs. darkness, good vs. evil, the spiritual nature vs. the sinful nature are abundant in Scripture. May the guiding light by which we live our lives in these evil days be the light of Your Holy Word. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Additional thoughts: When we soft pedal the meaning of evil we also water down the meaning of sin. It is rather common now to hear Christians, when referring to a sinful act as "I made a mistake" or "I used poor judgment." Both expressions might be true but James puts it much more bluntly, "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." (NASV) God desires that we come to Him and confess our sins. If we have sinned against another we have responsibility to approach that person(s), confess our sin, and ask forgiveness.
The slide into decadence continues and the notion of determining morality by majority is deeply flawed. I have long had a concern regarding the strategy of the pro-life and traditional marriage position (both of which I hold) in appealing to opinion polls. Will abortion or alternative arrangements of marriage become "good" when the opinion polls indicate a majority favor it? Surely not!
I consider how many moral changes have come about simply by majority ruling. The words of Paul in Colossians 2:8 give us a very wise caution that we should pay close attention to: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."
Consider Biblical history:
* A majority gathered around the golden calf when Moses was on the mountain in direct defiance of God's command.
* A majority sided with the prophets of Baal in Elijah's epic contest.
* A majority bowed before Nebuchadnezzar's image.
* And a majority cried out "Crucify Him!" *
* Scripture references: Exodus 32, 1 Kings 18, Daniel 3, Matthew 27
Good News! Thank God there is a remedy for evil. God's grace is greater than our sin. Fanny Crosby excluded no one when she wrote, "the vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives." Frank Bottome marveled that he who was once "a child of hell, should in His image shine." And William Cowper describes the fountain of sinless, life-giving blood drawn from Immanuel's veins as powerful enough to save to the uttermost, "The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in His day, and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away." In a song from our own age, the Hoppers declare, "Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin!"
Friday evening I took two Amish fathers, along with their sons, to a Hershey Bears hockey game. We all had a great time.
The big kid with the little kid!
(Little Eli showed me his baby kid goat born just last week and snapped my photo.)
The children ride to school on their scooters.
Kid goat meets Adult cow for first time.
Mama doesn't seem too interested or concerned!
This is the first hockey game I've ever attended. It's never been a sport I especially enjoyed but sure has a lot of intense action.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin" Video The Hoppers
"Every Saint Has A Past Every Sinner Has A Future" Video A great testimonial song sung by Guy Penrod
In Friday's message we referred to a story I had heard on a radio program but at the time I couldn't remember which one and reconstructed the story from memory. I found my notes. It was told by Joe Battaglia from his book titled, "The Politically Incorrect Jesus: Living Boldly in a Culture of Unbelief"
Here's the story in Battaglia's own words (much better then I recalled it!)
There is no more right or wrong in setting standards of morality because there is no one truth. No cause, no effect. I became acutely aware of this scenario in a rather strange way - by shopping with my daughter some 8-10 years ago. Sounds rather innocent, but a closer look revealed something more insidious.
While we were at a mall, my daughter asked to go into a very hip, fashionable store for teens to buy a shirt. It must have been more than 20 years since I'd set foot in that store. As I entered, I stopped dead in my tracks. I thought I was in the wrong store i- that I'd walked into an X-rated video establishment. Pictures of half-naked young women (probably not much older than my daughter) lying on top of equally undressed young men adorned the walls.
After spending my life in marketing and communication, there was no mistaking what those images and messages were meant to convey. They were very clear - our culture has sacrificed the innocence of our youth on the altar of sexual glorification. It's no longer about selling clothes; it's more about selling our souls. We decry the way our wives and daughters are disparaged over their body images and seen as sexual objects, yet promulgate the very lifestyles and clothing lines that lead to the thing we denounce. We have become a schizophrenic society.
But wait, the story did not end there. My daughter knew me all too well. She knew I'd likely say something and not merely slip away into the night, momentarily decrying the decadence of the situation and then doing nothing. As I stood in the line waiting to pay for the shirt, I grew madder by the minute. Let's just call it righteous indignation.
As I approached the counter to pay, I observed the young man and young woman who were standing there to serve us. They were probably around 19 or 20 years old. I placed the shirt on the counter and then informed the young man that I was really offended by the display on the walls. "Please pass my comments on to the manager," I insisted.
Of course, I didn't stop there, even though my daughter, embarrassed by my approach, was turning quite red. I asked the young man, "How do you feel about working in this environment, particularly working alongside a young lady?"
Then I asked her, "How do you feel about all of this? Are you offended, even a little bit? Does this promote the wholesome way in which you'd like to be perceived by the young man working alongside you? I guess it was the journalist in me that needed to ask the obvious questions, as I saw them.
As my daughter muttered under her breath, "Dad, they don't care," the young man eyed me. "I wish my father cared as much," he said. That was his exact quote. I'll never forget it.
As we left the store, my daughter sighed. "You know, he had to say that."
"No," I replied, "he could have said any number of things, like, 'I'll tell my manager.'" To this day I'm convinced he said what he said because it was on his heart to say it.
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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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