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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Lehigh River Gorge waterfall, Poconos, PA 5/30/15
A waterfall in the Lehigh Gorge of the Pocono Mountains
Note: Today's message is politically incorrect and may very well offend some. Our goal is not to offend but to write truths consistent with Scripture which will certainly be offensive to some.

"Celebrating Depravity"

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"Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32).

For many years the short slogan "Celebrate Diversity" has been displayed in many settings. There are various types of diversity we are thankful for and that for which we indeed celebrate. We properly thank God for the diversity in His creation, being so thankful for the variety of flowers, birds and trees for instance. Our long bike ride on Saturday down the Lehigh River Gorge prompted many exclamations of praise concerning the diversity within God's Creation.

We are thankful for the diversity in the body of Christ with so much incredible variety in personalities, giftings, ethnicity, varied interests and so forth.  Last month I went to a minister's conference in Washington with fellow believers distressed at the moral and spiritual downfall occurring in our country and indeed around the world. Our group was comprised of various races and ethnic backgrounds. We had Messianic Jews and those with a Muslim background who had come to faith in Christ. We represented a wide range of denominations and beliefs on secondary doctrinal issues, but we had a unity based upon our common faith.

Yet for quite some time I have been distressed by the typical usage of "Celebrate Diversity" as it is actually being used in a sense of celebrating depravity. Depravity is a word often used in a theological context referring to "the innate corruption of human nature due to original sin". We are all depraved by nature as "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). In a more general sense depravity means "moral corruption; wickedness". Synonyms include corruption, vice, perversion, deviance, degeneracy, immorality.

God's Word specifies behavior that is declared righteous and that which is considered evil. Certainly one of the dominant sins of our age is sexual immorality. Now for certain each generation has dealt with this, including all thorough the Bible period. We have some notable examples of victory such as Joseph who resisted Potiphar's wife's advances and examples of failure such as King David who committed adultery with Bathsheba. The apostle Paul urges sexual purity in this simple command, "Flee from sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18).

in our age so many of the traditional standards and restraints of morality have been cast aside so that we are now flooded with immorality that is more deviant than ever before. Year by year these deviancies become more and more bizarre with the latest fad in deviancy being men who decide they are really a woman; genetics and biology notwithstanding and vice versa. This week a former Olympic athlete from the seventies is the new hero of deviancy and sadly many are celebrating his "courage".

The apostle Paul in Romans 1 makes a sweeping panorama of the human condition.
The NIV begins the section from Romans 1:18-32 with this heading, "God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity" It's a graphic description of the sinfulness of the human race.

He notes, in regard to those participating in various sins including sexual immorality and perversions, that "they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32).  Indeed many in our society now not only approve but often idolize and celebrate those who practice them.

Let us determine that we will celebrate holiness, obedience and "be very careful how we live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (see Ephesians 5:15,16).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we read in Romans 1 that Your wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness, that although they know Your righteous decree they do such things deserving of death, and they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. We are understanding this passage more clearly as we see deviancy celebrated and people who boast of their deviant lifestyles as champions of the "courageous" frontier where darkened hearts are hailed as those who have arrived to enlighten those who have drawn their standards from the Holy Bible. We're also witnessing many who have exchanged Your truths as presented in Scripture for the lies presented by mortal and sinful humanity.  We do battle daily with the lawless one so we must suit up in the Christian armor that will protect us from the continual assaults from the enemy as we uphold the standards set forth in Your Holy Word. Amen.

Note: Obviously the issue concerning Bruce Jenner and his new "identity" is something I have been following this week though it would be more correct to say that the story and images have been in my face on many internet sites, flashing on the front pages of store magazines, and many other public venues. I refuse to go the politically correct route by calling a male "she"!

I share this I suppose in part due to a Scriptural command to "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light" (Ephesians 5:11-13). Exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness is hard work and can be increasingly misunderstood and of course to many seems judgmental. But let me point out as is always the case; you are being judgmental whenever you make a judgment on something such as calling someone else judgmental!

One of the most insightful comments I have read exposing the blindness and twisted logic of the world is the assertion that in regard to homosexuality one is born that way (despite the absence of any objective genetic, physical or medical basis) and that people are unable to change (in spite of scores of testimonies of those who have as a result of redemption). Today Focus on the Family featured Singer-songwriter Dennis Jernigan, best known for writing, "You Are My All in All" "recounts his former struggles with homosexuality and describes how he found hope, restoration and a new identity through his personal relationship with Jesus Christ." (Listen here) The Bible in listing a group of sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 which includes homosexuality states "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." Now there is a move to prohibit counselors from even assisting those who want to change from doing so.

However in regard to the form of deviancy of wanting to be the opposite sex from what one was born, one's gender is objectively observable from physical characteristics to the genetic level (XX or XY chromosome) that we are male or female. Although I read a report that somewhere in Canada they were going to stop identifying the sex of the baby on the birth certificate. Yet we are now told that people can change from one to another often using surgery and drugs and increasingly expect the procedures to be paid for by others!

I heard an insightful comment today that asserted that when the weird becomes normal the formerly normal will be considered weird.

Lehigh Gorge Bike Train and Ride

On Saturday morning we went to Jim Thorpe, PA and took a train up the Lehigh River Gorge 25 miles to White Haven PA and then rode back down on a bike trail. We shared some photos yesterday and share some more today.

Lehigh River Gorge rhododendron, Poconos, PA 5/30/15
The rhododendrons were starting to bloom and the mountains had many that will bloom in the next several weeks along with the Mountain Laurel.

Photo of Mountain Laurel flowers
The Mountain Laurel is Pennsylvania's official state flower and in mid-June blankets the mountain sides across our state. We were a little too early to see them in bloom.

Lehigh River Gorge waterfall, Poconos, PA 5/30/15

Lehigh River Gorge waterfall, Poconos, PA 5/30/15

We saw a variety of waterfalls all along the trail.

Lehigh River Gorge pipeline, Poconos, PA 5/30/15
An old pipeline over the river from the 1800's.
Has quite story of how children went to school! See here.

Lehigh River Gorge spring, Poconos, PA 5/30/15

We took plenty of water but still were so hot and thirsty we ran out and came upon this spring to fill a bottle. It was a cool refreshing pick up on our long ride.

Warning sign for rafters

Warning sign for rafters although there sure wasn't much white water movement the day we were there. Several times a year they release water from a dam upstream to create whitewater conditions.

Abandoned tunnel near Jim Thorpe, PA
Looking through an old railroad tunnel.
We showed a photo from the other side of this tunnel yesterday

Old caboose near Jim Thorpe, PA
Along the siding entering Jim Thorpe there were many old railroad cars apparently waiting restoration at some time. We enjoyed seeing these old cabooses.

Old caboose near Jim Thorpe, PA

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Take My Life And Let It be"  Video  Vineyard Music

Here's info about the bike train. Make sure you watch the video.

A trail map of the Lehigh Gorge (Photo) Here's the area on a Google map

The train went through a long tunnel and for the really curious someone took a video! Reading & Northern 425 through the Rockport Tunnel   Video  

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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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