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Monday, October 20, 2014
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Note: This week we have several messages on our hearts about taking a courageous stand in a decadent age.
"Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men!'" (Acts 5:29).
This last weekend I drove two young Amish families up to central New York to visit family. There were nine young children on board the van, including a 6 week old baby. The two families from Lancaster merged over the weekend with another sibling family who has seven children so when we had meals together there were 23 around the long table, with a few sitting in chairs off to the side. What a pleasant sight to look at ten children along one side of the table scrunched together but having a great time. It was loud, messy, crowded and delightful.
We often mention how we enjoy and in many ways admire the Amish culture. Jesse and Anna Ruth are our main contacts and they asked me to drive them up, renting a big old van for the trip. (Brooksyne and Ester just aren't into the degree of rusticness involved in this trip and had other commitments on the home front!) We met Jesse and Anna Ruth early in 2003 right after they got married and became our neighbors. Now they have five children and one on the way.* Anna's sister and family joined us to visit a 3rd sister in New York. The three brothers-in-law cut firewood and I helped out a bit as well!
Early on plain children, like most English (as the Amish call non-Amish), are taught to obey; primarily God, their parents and spiritual authority. To the extent that it doesn't violate other sources they're also taught to respect and obey civil authority. But they also teach their children when it is proper to disobey, which is a powerful lesson that all who follow Christ and remain true to the Bible must understand and practice.
This type of disobedience was evident in the Bible and has been evident in some countries for centuries, but in North America it is more recent and clearly increasing as our religious freedoms are under assault. The winds of change are here, but sadly, they're blowing in the wrong direction. Some politicians refer to it as "being on the right side of history." But God's Word determines the right side from the wrong side of history, not opinion polls or the prevailing philosophies of "so-called experts". The right side of history prevailed before Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden. Thank God for Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross that made provision for the wrong side of history ever since.
Scripture teaches us that we are to submit to and obey our governing rulers (Romans 13). This is essential for order in society. However this is not intended to be a mindless or unconditional submission. When there is a confict with God's law we must make a choice. Now is the time to firmly establish our convictions since making the right decision may be required very quickly. (We will deal with this subject on Wednesday.)
Peter and the other disciples demonstrated "obedient disobedience" in our daily text. They were being instructed to violate a command of God and their resolved decision was, "We must obey God rather than men!" Now, even here in America, pastors and dedicated lay people are increasingly undergoing persecution for faithfully proclaiming God's Word and practicing their faith that stands contrary to the secular political climate.
Today we urge you to first and foremost remain faithful to Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Submit to human authority, as this pleases God. But submit first and foremost to Your highest authority, and when there is a clash, always place divine authority over human authority.
May we, like Peter and the apostles, with great conviction declare, "We must obey God rather than men." God will give us the sufficient grace to deal with any consequence of making such an important decision.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have placed authority figures in our lives from birth to our final days on earth. Some bless us greatly while others challenge us fiercely. In areas where You have given us the privilege of being an authority figure may we be responsible role models, for we know it is not just the talk that people hear, but the walk that people see. As we are called to submit to our family, spiritual leaders, employer, and governmental leaders may we do so with cheerfulness so that we are a blessing rather than a grievous burden. But when those to whom we submit conflict with our supreme authority we pray for conviction and courage to stand for righteousness in obedience to Your commands, for we must obey God rather than men. We pray for the fortitude to carry this out in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
* Big families: Moses is Anna Ruth's father. He and his late wife had seven children; six girls and a boy. Thirteen years ago his first grand-child was born. How many grandchildren do you suppose he has now? (Answer below)
Over the next several days I will post photos from the trip to New York this last weekend. As mentioned the primary purpose of the trip was to assist in cutting firewood for the winter. We admire the Amish sense of family and community. My main role was driving but I had a good time as well and worked a bit but nothing like the young Amish men.
We had three chainsaws buzzing and managed to cut a large pile of logs and branches.
Helping move the cut firewood over to the house was a chore out of the ordinary for me. We didn't split the wood but John will do that later.
I joined the boys on a trail ride, snapping this photo atop my very old and very slow horse who really didn't seem to want to go for a ride!
It was overcast so this photo is dark.
Note: The Amish children and adults had a lot of fun taking pictures of me.
Some target practice out behind the barn.
Meanwhile back on the Homefront:
On Saturday morning I hosted 20 ladies from our church. They enjoyed a country breakfast, a hymn sing, and sharing Scriptures. It's Pastor Appreciation month so we surprised our pastor's wife, Faithe, with words of appreciation, a sunshine basket of gifts (only 1 a day to be unwrapped) and loving, supportive prayers as she continues to recover from major medical surgery as a result of her recent cancer diagnosis.
Last evening our church hosted an evening at Pleasant View Retirement Home. We had a hymn sing along with the Pleasant Passage Quintet singing the old favorites and an ensemble singing a medley of songs including "Follow Me" which I was introducing in this photo.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice" Video Keith Green
Moses now has 32 grandchildren and counting!
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
"We want to encourage you daily in your walk with Christ!"
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