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Friday, April 7, 2017

Red-bellied woodpecker (Photo by Doug Maxwell)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
(Taken by our neighbor Doug)


Note: Today's message turned out a bit longer than usual and quite frankly written with strong feelings.

Message summary:
Today, again let us "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men" and let us with renewed resolve stay faithful to the One who suffered for us, "so that we will not grow weary and lose heart."

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"Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:3). "Then they spit in His face" (Matthew 26:67).

Yesterday our local paper had a story of a young man severely inebriated who had an altercation with local police. He resisted arrest and injured two police officers among other very offensive behaviors. But the paper reported a particularly vile action; he spit blood in the face of one of the EMT's. (* Article below)

It's so sad to read of the destructive effects of alcohol and drugs. We've regularly seen it in our 40 plus years of ministry. The older we get the more we see the wisdom of abstinence although it seems these days many see that as an outdated notion. Not us. Brooksyne had an alcoholic grandfather who destroyed her mother's family and I had an alcoholic uncle (probably two). We've never seen alcohol make anyone a better person and sadly we've seen many wrecked by it.

Scarcely a chaplain day of visitation goes by without at least one of us having this come up as a topic of need and conversation. Yesterday I spoke to a woman whom we have visited over nine years in our chaplaincy role. Early on her husband had lost his job due to his alcohol use and for several years now he's not touched the stuff. I received a treasured voice mail from him several months ago when he called to inform me he was on the right path and thanked me for my input into his life.

Today's topic may seem rather appalling to some of our readers. The act of spitting is not a pleasant subject for discussion but there is a place for it. I suspect most of us first learned to spit when we were taught to brush our teeth. Our mom's probably taught us by demonstration. And it's likely that we observed it in others (typically men) who just did it out of habit.

I (Stephen) may spit (but never Brooksyne) when I am out on a walk in the country and away from others. I certainly consider spitting rude in front of others, particularly women. When I do spit I do so where people will not be walking, although as our society has gotten cruder, I see more and more spitting on the walkways.  It's a pretty gross sight to come upon or, even worse, to step in.

My family still has a vivid memory of me being thoroughly splattered by spit about twenty years ago when we were on vacation in Vermont. We went to a County Fair and I was studying the face of a Llama and, with the wind velocity of a surprise tornado, he spat right in my face; a big, splattering of thick, yellow yuck. 

Brooksyne and Ester just couldn't stop laughing as I immediately ran to a bathroom. I couldn't get it washed off fast enough and even now practically gag at the memory.  It was all over my T-shirt so I then darted to the car and pulled off the putrid shirt.  It was the closest I could get to ridding myself of the horrible experience before I could thoroughly shower at the motel where we were staying.  (Brooksyne's Note: Too bad I can't provide you with a great visual!)

That's the only time I ever recall being spat upon.  Brooksyne has a troubling remembrance of riding the school bus with a special needs student in Junior High School who endured abuse by her schoolmates daily.  They would sit behind her and spit in her hair as they swore and called her filthy names. Bullying is nothing new.

The first daily text states,
"Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Consider the many forms of humiliation our Lord endured during His time of suffering, culminating with His death on the cross.  The Jews, common with all people of the East, had an intense abhorrence for spitting. Spitting was considered among the Jews as an expression of the greatest contempt (Deuteronomy 25:9, Numbers 12:14). Even to spit before another was regarded as an offense, and treated as such by heathen also.

Such a form of ridicule is hardly known by us, although I can't imagine any culture where being spat upon would be considered an honor. Perhaps a more contemporary example, admittedly distasteful, is the deep personal insult and major offense of someone thrusting their middle finger right into our face.  Hurtful actions can speak even louder than unkind words.  I wonder if, at times, our actions toward our Lord defy our words of adoration and praise.

Our daily text states, "Then they spit in His face." In context "they" were the teachers of the law and elders who had assembled for a mock trial. This vicious treatment of Christ is a clear fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy written some 700 years before our Lord's suffering found in Isaiah 50:6, "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting."

The Greek word, ptuo, translated "spit" is an onomatopoeia, which is the formation of a word that imitates the natural sound associated with the object or action involved such as "cuckoo" or "boom". Can you hear the sound of someone spitting when pronouncing "ptuo"? 

Can you picture these scorning mockers spitting in the face of the Creator and Redeemer of the world?  Matthew carefully records the detail that they spit in His face (not just in His presence or at His feet).

Today, again let us "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men" and let us with renewed resolve stay faithful to the One who suffered for us, "so that we will not grow weary and lose heart."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, Your act of humility in the midst of ridicule, mockery and abhorrent behavior by the very people that You created and willingly died for is not a picture of weakness, but instead it is one of incomparable self-sacrifice.  You could have called a legion of angels to reveal Your power or to put Your accusers in their rightful place.  But You chose to walk the road of humility and obedience all the way to Calvary, motivated by Your redemptive love for mankind. Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all! Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"It's Still The Cross"  Video   Gold City

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"  Video  Jason King

"Your Grace Still Amazes Me"  Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean

"The Wondrous Cross"  Video 
Christy Nockels

Article in local newspaper referred to in today's message. (Note: the article is rather graphic. It opened OK on my computer but may not be archived)

A powerful defense of abstinence from alcohol

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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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