“Freedom Without Boundaries”

July 3, 2015

Note: This week I (Stephen) attended a chaplain conference in Springfield, Missouri and thus we didn’t post messages Monday-Thursday (June 29-July 2).

Train from Jefferson Avenue footbridge, Springfield, MO 7/1/15Train from Jefferson Avenue footbridge, Springfield, MO 7/1/15

“Freedom Without Boundaries”

Note: Podcast not prepared for this message

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).  “They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them” (Deuteronomy 32:28). “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

So much has happened since we last posted a message on Thursday, June 25. People are headed down one of two paths. Many, going down one path, rejoice at recent events and are convinced that our country is headed in the right direction. But many others, who are on another path grieve. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

We saw a quote yesterday on a church sign in Lancaster city with this thought-provoking message: “Freedom without boundaries is like a river without banks.” Perhaps the church leadership believed this quote is analogous to the direction that our country has taken recently. At the conference I attended this week I heard a speaker make this insightful comment: “As ministers of the Gospel we can’t stop people from plunging into perdition but we must warn them.”

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in America with many already celebrating today and throughout the extended weekend.  We realize many readers live outside the USA but you can also apply today’s challenge to the nation in which you live. In one way or another there’s nowhere on earth this message would not apply.

Proverbs 14:34 describes two contrasting outlooks concerning the state of a nation in God’s reckoning:

1) “Righteousness exalts a nation.” Righteousness refers to people seeking to live according to God’s holy standards as expressed in His Word. As people seek to live this way a nation is exalted or elevated; it is upright. Initially “nation” would have referred to ancient Israel but in a broader application “nation” is a present day political subdivision but the sense here is a people group.

A) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in a reverence for God. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He chose for His inheritance” (Psalm 33:12).

B) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in a respect for the Holy Scriptures. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

C) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in obedience to both the commands and prohibitions of God. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known” Deuteronomy 11:26-28.

D) The righteousness that exalts a nation is expressed in recognition of God’s ordained order for society.

  • Individuals committed to God: We make Joshua’s declaration of faith our own, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
  • Foundational unit of marriage and family as established at creation. Jesus taught “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4,5). God defined marriage at Creation.
  • Accountability to the Church of God.
  • The state recognizing divine or natural law.
  • A strong nation is made up of strong communities, which are made up of strong churches,  which are made up of strong marriages and families, which are made up of strong individuals.

2) “But sin is a disgrace to any people.” A great definition of sin is stated in the Westminster Catechism, a helpful learning tool developed during the Reformation that taught faith by asking questions followed by brief answers. What is sin? “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” Sin is a disgrace or, as translated in many versions, a “reproach”. It stains, separates, and brings shame to the transgressor whether individually or to an entire nation.

Consider the disgrace of rampant sin in our country today; sexual immorality, redefining marriage, violence, abortion, idolatry, dishonesty, greed and so many other evidences of rebellion against God.  It seems day by day that this disgrace increases and the pace has certainly accelerated here in the USA in recent years and especially recent days.  What a weakened, pathetic spiritual condition our land is in. We desperately need a heaven-sent revival!

Deuteronomy 32:28 is written from the context of a nation under God’s judgment summed up with this description, “They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them”. Our nation and many other nations in the West are in a great state of confusion. In this verse God is prophetically warning of the future apostasy of the people of Israel, which culminated with their Babylonian exile some 800 years after this was spoken. Without the firm foundation of God’s Word we are on sinking sand. The consequences may not be immediate, but they are certain.

Today we call to the people of God scattered throughout the world and encourage you to pray and live out a godly life against the grain of culture. As spiritual darkness spreads it brings about oppression, divisiveness, as it also infringes on our Christian freedoms. Jesus continues to call each of His followers to, “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Let us, as Christ’s true disciples, be people of conviction who will stand up for righteousness. Let’s exercise spiritual discernment rather than consult opinion polls. By doing so our righteousness will exalt this nation and help to bring about spiritual change in the lives of those in our nation!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we want to live above the fray of this world as a people of righteousness set apart for Your purpose. We forsake the things of this world that bring disgrace to Your holy name and live for the purpose of bringing glory, honor and praise to You, our Father. We pray for our nation, for the turning away from our sins and turning toward the abundant life we find in Christ our Lord. You’ve called us to repentance and to share the good news of salvation to all who are lost. Help us to seek a fresh calling upon our lives to be obedient in this commission from Scripture.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Some photos from my trip to Springfield, MO

Dave Simpson and his mother 6/27/15
I visited a couple of days with a longtime friend, Dave Simpson and his wife Sandy. We also went up to our childhood town of Belton Missouri where we visited with Dave’s Mom (photo). The Simpsons lived right across the street from us for much of my childhood and Dave and I were in the same class all through elementary school. We rode bikes through town last Saturday morning exploring the sights of our childhood. Dave is a Christian businessman who seeks to honor God in all his ways.

Al and Adeline Worthley 7/1/15
I primarily went to Springfield to attend a chaplaincy training conference where my longtime supervisor Al Worthley retired. He has been very supportive of our ministry for many years. It was a blessing to see a strong finish with a special banquet in his honor on Monday evening. He and his wife Adeline just celebrated their 50th anniversary. The new director is Manuel Cordero, a friend whom we both knew in college.

Paul and Linda Scholtz 7/1/15
Paul and Linda Scholtz are friends from Bible College and serve as chaplains to rodeos. They both are also rodeo riders. They have done this for nearly 40 years! Paul is a colorful man, who on occasion would declare his agreement with a speaker in chapel by saying “Sick Em” (where we customarily say “Amen”.) His unique style always brought about a few chuckles throughout the chapel.

Chaplains 6/30/15
These two young chaplains serve in corrections (left) and army (right). The dominant chaplain fields are military and VA, correctional (prison) and healthcare. But chaplains serve in many specialized fields as well such as motorcycle, sports, motor sports (NASCAR), human trafficking, Critical Incidents and many others such as corporate.

Chaplain Jane Fitzgerald 7/1/15
Jane Fitzgerald serves as a hospice chaplain. Many chaplains serving in many different fields, seeking to make an impact for Jesus Christ.

Bicycle fence, Springfield, MO 7/1/15
We passed this interesting place in Springfield, a fence made of old bikes!

CBC for sale 6/26/15
A sad sight. Central Bible College, where Brooksyne and I attended in the seventies, shut down several years ago and now the campus is for sale.

Rt 66 gas pumps at museum in Springfield MO
The conference center was right along old Rt 66 in Springfield with a visitor’s center across the street with Rt 66 memorabilia.

Jeff and Linda Reid 7/3/15
This morning some longtime friends stopped by to visit us. Jeff and Lind Reid now live in Maine but we met them in the church we served in Massachusetts. They came down to view the drama “Joseph” at the Sight and Sound Theater. They were a blessing to have in our congregation. They both have a wonderful testimony of dramatically coming to Christ as adults and can attest to the change Christ brings. Of course Ester wanted to take a selfie.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Lord, Heal Our Land”  Video  Don Moen

I contrast the thoughtful message on the church sign referred to in today’s post with one I saw on a sign at a downtown Springfield church that stated, “Hey You, Yea You, You’re Awesome!”

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