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Monday, August 29, 2022

Mollie in prayer
Nearly 11 years ago our pup, Mollie, praying with Brooksyne to be a good puppy or so we imagine since she a young pup who had developed some problematic behavior issues at the time. Brooksyne was having her devotions downstairs next to the coal stove and I saw Mollie head her way. Next thing I saw was Mollie joining her in a prayerful position so I wanted to capture it on camera. (Brooksyne told me afterward she suddenly sensed a presence next to her as she was praying and was quite surprised to see that it was Mollie who had joined her.)

"Behaving Decently"

Message summary: May God enable us to do what He commands, transforming our heart, so that it becomes our passion and desire to fully conform to His will!

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“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:13,14).

Sliding door handleOur border collie Mollie will be 12 on January 3, 2023, the average life expectancy for her breed. She is showing the inevitable signs of senescence but she can still play like a puppy and is ready day or night to fetch a frisbee or her ring toss. But we've sure seen a diminishing of her agility and stamina.

We enjoy having such an active breed but she sure has been trying due to her smartness. Border collies are generally considered the smartest dog breed. (See below). The breed is so intelligent and good at communicating with humans that it’s not unreasonable to imagine that many are quite adept at getting what they want from their owners.

Mollie has a propensity to bad behavior which has on occasion been destructive and often expensive. The latest example of gratifying the desires of her canine nature is her successful efforts to slide open the heavy glass door to our deck by gripping the handle with her teeth. The door opening can get gritty and the roller mechanism faulty so there are times it takes both hands to open the door. Mollie successfully sliding the door open could be applauded if it weren't for our cat we try to keep indoors and the flies we try to keep outdoors.  Looks like we're going to need a new handle (after her time of departure).

I doubt that I'm not the only one who talks to their dog. In the morning when she comes into our bedroom to greet us I ask, "Now, Mollie are you going to be a good girl today?"  I'm not sure how much she understands but I'm confident she will be tempted to behave badly, whether it's the needless barking, digging a new hole in the yard or attempting to open the sliding door! Thankfully, she can no longer jump the back yard fence.

Moving away from the canine condition and zeroing in on the more important and personal human condition we will examine a straightforward command in the Bible in which we are called to behave decently.

JakeJake is a young man we see weekly in the course of our chaplaincy work who seems receptive to my attempts at spiritual input in his life. He is an ex-con trying to get his life back together. I have urged him to follow Christ as a necessary step but his commitment has been vague. He did tell me several weeks ago that his grandparents also tell him the same thing.

I asked him last week if I could take his photo and encourage people to pray for him and he consented. He excitedly told me he has a Scripture verse tattoo and gestured to where it was under his shirt. We see a lot of Scripture verses tattooed but his choice really surprised me. Rather than pull up his shirt to show his tattoo he referenced the verse:

“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).

Our prayer is that God takes away the old heart that will never delight in, comply with, or submit to the will of God. May He take away the old will that can be obstinate, perverse, and rebellious not just for Jake but for each of us who call on the name of the Lord to be saved. May God break down the strongholds that shut Him out as He takes possession of our hearts and enables us to eagerly conform to His will.

"Let us behave decently". Other English translations offer slightly different wording; “behave properly” (NASV), “walk properly” (ESV), “live decently” (NET) “live and conduct ourselves honorably and becomingly” (Amplified).

Behaving decently speaks of our conduct from day to day, our lifestyle, what we choose to look at, listen to, what we say or think – all these are bound up in what it means to behave properly.

”As in the daytime.” This is a follow-up to the previous verse (v.12) that states, “Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Paul then specifies six specific deeds of darkness those who live in the light are not to practice. (See footnote for exposition from my teaching in a Sunday School class yesterday.)

The chapter ends with a positive injunction “Rather” (in opposition to the previous six sins of the flesh) we are to "clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we desire to clothe ourselves in Christ Jesus, whose Spirit resides within our hearts. We pray that our behavior would honor You as we seek to behave decently and live according to the pattern of Holy Scripture, for “we were taught, regarding our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like You in true righteousness and holiness.” May lust of the flesh be burned up by the fire of the Spirit that ignites us as we redirect our affections, energies, and time to that which is righteous and eternal. Make us like You, Father, as we follow after You in righteousness and holiness. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

See Ephesians 4:22-24

Tattoo stories: We meet a lot of interesting people in the course of life. Not only do we see many people in our chaplain ministry but we make it our goal to let Christ's light shine through us wherever we go and whomever we see.

We were in a Lowe's home improvement store and the young lady checking us out had a tattoo to the left temple of her eye that read "Jeremy". Well, those of you who know me also know I'm not too bashful (much to Brooksyne's and Ester's embarrassment at times), so I inquired, "Who's Jeremy? Your boyfriend?". She paused and then blew out a puff of air as she replied, "Oh no, that's a long story" and went on to inform us that Jeremy was in prison and no longer in her life. Normally she tries to conceal the tattoo with make-up but lacked the time to do so as she dressed that morning.

"Forgive me" tattoo We met a young man named Casey who has had a very hard life, including time spent in prison (Rikers Island in NYC). His tattoo, "Forgive me" above his eye, caught our attention so I asked him about it. Anyone who has a tattoo applied to their exposed skin should be prepared to answer questions since their body is like a sign for others to examine. And they wouldn't put it there if they didn't want it on display for others to see.

Casey's tattoo was a testimony of his new life. He really wants to live right and follow the Lord and we had the opportunity to encourage him to do so. He told us he wanted the tattoo to read, "Lord forgive me" but was told there wasn't enough room!

Evidence of darkness of sin: Friday we saw a man with a t-shirt that read "When we meet back up together in hell the first drinks are on me". Suffice it to say this man has a very faulty view of eschatology and the final judgment!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"After Your Heart"  Video  A song written by Tyler Noel, a musician in our church. Yesterday we concluded the summer series on David's life and Tyler wrote the song based upon our studies of David, a man after God's own heart.

"Just As I Am (I Come Broken)"  Video  Travis Cottrell   Outstanding song with excellent visuals. This song really breaks it down to the truth that it’s all about Jesus and not what I have to offer Him. The contemporary arrangements and additional lyrics to this traditional hymn really gets your attention in a fresh, new way and will surely touch your heart. Today we dedicate it to several we know who are carrying burdens such as a couple who have an adult son who has a rare form of cancer who is now addicted to pain killers, another couple with a son in prison and a grandmother deeply burdened for her granddaughter.

Today we will share several of the many photos we have posted of Mollie through the years.

Bringing Mollie home from shelter
Mollie in the van with Ester when we brought her home from the animal shelter in 2011.

Mollie prone to wandering (photo by Ester)
Early on Mollie was prone to wander and the fence was no detriment.

Mollie jumping
When young she had remarkable athletic abilities and determination that could not be deterred. She eventually gets the ring every time.

Mollie catching frisbee
She still likes to fetch the frisbee or her ring toy and normally catches them on the fly in the air.

Tug of war
When Sadie came along she had to learn to share! Friendly at first until she'd met her match with Sadie's strong grip. Overall they're very good playmates.

Teaching Crossroads class
Yesterday I completed teaching a five week series in the Sunday School class we attend at Calvary Church. I invited Nick, a longtime friend to attend and he sat on the front row and snapped this photo. I considered those reading this material who have heard me preach or teach going all the way back to the mid-seventies. "I was young and now I am old" (Psalm 37:25b)

In our daily text Paul specifies six specific deeds of darkness those who live in the light are not to practice. Revealing the timeless truths of the Bible each of these sins of the flesh are common in our age and every age among those who walk in darkness. They are expressed in three groups of two, what one commentator calls “negative couplets”:

“Not in orgies and drunkenness”; The Greek word translated “orgies” (“ehavior” in some versions) was used generally of “feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry”. Today’s the “let’s party” outlook that so many have is nothing new. We who strive to live as children of light do well to heed a timeless woe expressed in Isaiah 5:22, "Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink". The apostle Peter firmly issues this call, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3).

“Not in sexual immorality and debauchery”; The first word refers here to sexual intercourse outside of marriage. The second word means licentiousness and unrestrained lust. Other translations use the words “indecency”, “promiscuity”, “sensuality”. The New Century Version states, “There should be no sexual sins of any kind.” Sexual morality can be simply expressed as sexual intimacy expressed in a covenant relationship (holy marriage) between a man and a woman. Although we live in an age with a massive attempt to redefine marriage and morality the faithful contender for truth must not budge. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

“Not in dissension and jealousy”; These are relational sins that we often shrug off as no big deal. But they are opposed to the second greatest commandment, which is to love others as we love ourselves. Leon Morris observes, “Both indicate a determination to have one’s own way, a self-willed readiness to quarrel. All six of these vices stem from self-will; they are all the outreach of a determined selfishness that seeks only one’s own pleasure.”

Some notes by Pastor Steven Cole for further study:

“Carousing (orgies) and drunkenness.” Paul lists drunkenness and carousing as deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:21). But such things are not appropriate for believers. I’ve always had trouble understanding why people go to wild parties and get drunk. To me such parties are superficial and stupid. But venturing a guess, it helps them, at least for an evening, forget about their troubles. From hearing them brag about how wasted they got, it must give them some sense of being cool, at least with their fellow drunks. And, it often lowers inhibitions and leads to sexual encounters, which appeal to those who do not have satisfying marital relationships.  I’ve known a few who claim to be believers, but they still go out partying and drinking. But these are deeds of darkness, not fitting for children of light. (Pastor Steven Cole, Your Present Walk and the Coming Day)

“Sexual immorality and debauchery” It is also a deed of the flesh (Galatians 5:19), characteristic of unbelievers, not of believers (Ephesians 4:19-20). God has given the marriage relationship as the proper place for sexual relations. To engage in any sexual activity outside of marriage is to participate in the deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:3-12). Let me remind you that no one who is walking in the light, suddenly and without warning, falls into sexual immorality. Sexual sin always begins when we toy with it in our minds. We relish lustful glances by replaying them in our thoughts. We sneak a peek at pornography, which leads to more frequent and longer looks. Eventually, the temptation to flirt with a tempting woman comes and it sucks us into the fatal act (see Proverbs 7). The key to avoiding it is to judge every sinful thought as quickly as it happens and to make no provision for the lusts of the flesh. Much of our sin can be traced to the fact that we made provision for it by toying with it. (Pastor Steven Cole, Your Present Walk and the Coming Day)

For these quotes from Pastor Steven Cole and other insights into this passage see the Precept Online Bible commentary on this passage.

Finally today:

Yo Pro class gathering
Ester attends the Yo Pro (young professionals) class at church which includes people who are unmarried and are part of the work force. Generally speaking these are adults in their 20's and 30's who have a lot in common, especially their love for God. Many live independently and others live with family members.  Ester hosted about 20 last night in our back yard. They visited together before eating hot dogs right off the grill.  Afterwards they indulged in ice cream sundaes made with many different toppings and spreads and rinsed it down with cold rhubarb punch. Many got to see the sun set over the corn field, such a beautiful thing we enjoy daily. They were a great group of young people who were friendly even with the older hosts of the gathering, that's Stephen and me!

Finally today 2:

Nick's depiction of me at 30
Nick, my friend who joined our class yesterday and sent me the above photo, decided to project what I would have looked like at 30! Notes: When I was 30 a tie would definitely  have been worn along with a suit on Sunday morning. 2) We didn't have the rectangular device I am reading and projecting my message from. 3) I didn't wear suspenders. 4) I was a tad bit thinner. But I did have a full beard on occasion, although my hair and beard was dark! It's amazing what you can do with photo shop these days!

Guatemala in our early 30's
Here's a real photo of us in our early 30's visiting Guatemala with Marvin and his sister. Marvin was here in the states in the late 80's for medical care and we still stay in touch with him. He is a forester in Guatemala, has a wife and kids and above all serves the Lord!

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Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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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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