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Monday, April 27, 2015

Pink heartbreaker redbud 4/26/15
Pink Heartbreaker Redbud

"The First Excuse"

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"The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it" (Genesis 3:12).

Enoch with ChrissyDuring our first fifteen years of marriage we were foster parents to many children from our own country and several from overseas for medical care. This last Saturday one of them stopped by to visit with us.

Chrissy lived with us for 2 1/2 years about 35 years ago from ages 5-7. Here she is trying to comfort our troubled dog, Enoch, who had just gotten into a tussle with a porcupine and doesn't look too happy. It was a nasty and painful job to pull the quills out of his mouth!  He had several porcupine encounters, this photo showing Enoch with only two quills, the most minor porcupine attack he endured over the years.

We recall a humorous way Chrissy would confuse words or explanations when she was first learning their meanings. When she did something by accident, she would take on a defensive posture and quickly blurt out, "I did it on purpose" rather than correctly stating "I didn't do it on purpose." Eventually she learned the correct expression which helped clarify the matter and greatly improved the consequences she was dealt.

We all look for ways or expressions that will quickly excuse us from negative consequences. When Ester was little she liked to pretend she was our waitress. She took down our food order on a tablet and then later served us.  One time as she brought out our meal she dropped a main food item on the floor and, before we could even say a word, she immediately cried out, "It's not my fault!"  

Brooksyne and I looked at each other and burst out laughing, "Then whose fault is it?" we asked simultaneously. Making excuses or blaming others for our own mistakes has a long history doesn't it?  And if we're open and honest we too must admit to having done it a few times ourselves, perhaps even made a pattern of it.

Adam offered the very first excuse shortly after his first transgression. God's straightforward question to Adam following his transgression was, "Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"  That's a yes or no question. But Adam replied, "The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it."

I'm particularly intrigued by the first phrase in Adam's reply, "The woman you put here with me."  Now certainly he's blaming his wife Eve whom he rather bluntly calls "the woman". And of course she was the first to partake of the forbidden fruit, but he was with her and, without hesitation, he also took of the fruit offered him and ate it.

In an attempt to shift the blame Adam words his defense carefully.  He shifts the blame not only toward Eve but also toward God.  He uses careful wording when he refers to his wife as, "the woman You put here with me."  Indeed God's first special gift to Adam at Creation was his companion-helpmeet.  Now Adam manages to blame both her and God for his willing act of disobedience!  This is the very first excuse in human history.

The world we live in today mirrors Adam's attitude of making excuses for just about everything under the sun, whether it's outright rebellion or an inappropriate response to the injustices from which one might suffer.

Taking responsibility is at the very heart of our relationship with God and each other. A fundamental component of restoration is not denial of the sin, but taking responsibility for it and then confessing it to God. David, when finally coming to repentance concerning his sin with Bathsheba, cried out, "I have sinned against the Lord."  That's essentially how we get restored when we make our initial "sinner's prayer", turning away from our sin and toward obedience. And as we grow in our walk with the Lord confession is a wonderful antidote to excuse making. Let us be quicker to make confession than we are to find excuses. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Today let us live our lives responsibly and stop making excuses. That only prolongs or exasperates the growing problem. Whether we fail or fall God has graciously made a provision for our restoration and it begins with confession not excuses.  That's good news!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, as we confess our sins we thank You that You are faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Help us to be honest enough to admit our sin, welcome Your cleansing, and invite the Holy Spirit to help us courageously deal with personal consequences from our sinful defiance. You are a gracious Father who does not cast us down in our failures, but You uphold us with Your gracious and loving hand. Amen.

Chrissy 04-25-15
Chrissy with Brooksyne on Saturday as they sat outside on a breezy afternoon. Chrissy was with her husband and 2 of their 3 sons. We are pleased they attend a Bible faithful church regularly pastored by a man I met before leaving that area.

Weber with Chrissy 11-80
Chrissy with us 35 years ago when we were in our mid-twenties. Those were the days of three piece suits and wide ties!

Gaither Homecoming concert, Hershey, PA 4/24/15
Friday evening we enjoyed a Gaither Homecoming concert at the Giant Center in Hershey. I first heard Bill Gaither as part of the "Bill Gaither Trio" in Kansas City as a teenager.  In the early 80's the Vocal Band was formed and with a variety of personnel it has been together over 30 years. In the nineties Bill and Gloria Gaither, while in their middle-aged years began to have "Homecoming" concerts honoring the older members of the gospel music community. We went to our first Homecoming Concert when we lived in New England in the nineties. Even in that notoriously spiritually frigid part of the country they filled a large arena. Most of the Homecoming old-timers have gone on up yonder. Bill himself is almost 80 and good naturedly takes lots of joking about his age from the younger ones. Actually it's amazing to me that he still has the will and energy to carry this on. As would be expected the overall crowd was older, but there were some younger families! Ester has come to enjoy the vocal band over the years, especially David Phelps and Wes Hampton.

Gaither Homecoming concert, Hershey, PA 4/24/15
Ester with Wes Hampton, one of the Gaither Vocal Band members.

Mike and Nicole 4/25/15
On Saturday, friends Mike and Nicole Martin, stopped over and we enjoyed fellowship over dinner. They are diligent workers for the kingdom of God; at Triple Tree Ministries, a biker ministry, and in our own church fellowship.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Excuses"  Video  The Kingsmen  How many old-timers recall this song!

"I Then Shall Live"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band This is a thought provoking, heart searching song of conviction the GVB sang on Friday night, written by Gloria Gaither.

I then shall live as one who's been forgiven.
I'll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father;
I am His child and I am not afraid.
So, greatly pardoned, I'll forgive my brother;
The law of love I gladly will obey.

I then shall live as one who's learned compassion.
I've been so loved, that I'll risk loving too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I'll dare to see another's point of view.
And when relationships demand commitment,
Then I'll be there to care and follow through.

Your Kingdom come around and through and in me;
Your power and glory, let them shine through me.
Your Hallowed Name, O may I bear with honor,
And may Your living Kingdom come in me.
The Bread of Life, O may I share with honor,
And may You feed a hungry world through me.

Amen, Amen, Amen

"You Are My All in All With" Canon in D [Live] Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Yes, I Know"  Video  GVB

"Jesus Saves"  Video  Wes Hampton backed by orchestra and huge robed choir

The story of "My Dog Enoch"  This has been up for many years but we have many new readers and others may enjoy reading it again. Perhaps it will prompt a memory about a dog you have had.

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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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