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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lancaster County farm
A scene along our country walk
Brooksyne walked half the trail last night and took this photo since she likes this view with the low tree branch that crosses over the creek.  If we were a few years younger we'd be sitting on the branch with a fishing rod.  
Yesterday we shared a photo of the flowers to the left in today's photo facing the brick farmhouse.  

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"The Sounds Of August"

"John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey" (Mark 1:6). 

More than any other month I identify August with a certain sound, particularly at night.  Several weeks ago I mentioned in a footnote that I heard this familiar sound for the first time this summer.  And when I do it always brings back childhood memories of playing outside with my friend David. 

Last night I was outside at dusk and heard the distinct sound of hundreds, or more likely thousands of locusts.  It's a sound I recall hearing while growing up in Missouri, when I lived in upstate Pennsylvania, and even when we lived in the city in New England.  There is actually a field of science devoted to these sounds known as bioacoustics.  Now that we live out in the country I hear this unique sound loud and clear.  And when I do I immediately think of John the Baptist.

Probably the thing we find most interesting in the daily verse is that John the Baptist ate locusts.  After all, we still wear clothing made with animal hair and leather belts.  Most of us enjoy the sweet taste of honey (which is essentially bee spit), but
culturally we draw the line at eating locusts.

Entomophagy is the scientific name for insect eating. There are more than 1,450-recorded species of edible insects, many of which are lower in fat, higher in protein, and have a better feed to meat ratio than beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. So locusts were actually a good diet choice for an active prophet!

John the Baptist is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible.  His start in life was unusual and so was his death.  He was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a godly infertile couple, who were both "well along in years" (or as the KJV colorfully puts it "well stricken in years").

Zechariah was a priest who had a mighty encounter with an angel of the Lord informing him that he would have a son.  I've wondered what in the world his wife thought when her speechless husband got home and had that twinkle in his eyes!  Anyway, she became pregnant and they received a blessing they surely hadn't planned for. 

John's mission in life was very clear and he fulfilled it well. "Prepare the way for the Lord."  In fact Jesus commended him with these words, "Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." John died in his early thirties as a result of Herod's order to have him beheaded. 

On this day, as we live out our lives and seek to please God, let us recall the faithfulness of John the Baptist.  I note particularly his bold declaration to Herod, renouncing his sin.  He was not interested in being liked but in speaking out for God's truth.  And for that he literally lost his head.  May the Lord empower us today to stand boldly as John did, no matter the consequences!  We have nothing to lose but much to gain; "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, we count our lives on earth as nothing compared to the glory of heaven where we will worship You for all eternity.  Among us will be John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus' mission on earth.  We'll listen with keen interest as Elizabeth tells of how the disgrace she felt among her family and peers was lifted after learning of her miraculous pregnancy.  John will speak of his amazing nine month silence.  Heaven will be filled with people through all the centuries who have amazing stories to share. We will be in personal fellowship with each of them; no longer will the time line separate us nor the geographic location.  What a glorious day it will be when we come together around Your throne singing Your praise. We give glory to the Holy One of Israel.  Come Lord Jesus, come!  Amen.

* The insect I hear is actually Cicada, which we typically call locusts in this area (as well as where I grew up). However in my study it may be that the locusts that John ate were more like our grasshoppers!

Sounds of insects  This is an interesting website.

The specific sound I hear at night and a photo of the insect!

Nehi ColaA childhood memory: I recall going to the "elevator" (for some reason that's what they called the feed mill) in Harwood Missouri; the tiny farm town my Mom grew up. I have so many great memories of my childhood visits to that little town and my Uncle Gentry's farm about a mile west of town.  
A real treat was getting a cold bottled RC Cola or Nehi from the elevator on a blistering hot summer day.  My cousin Richard also lived in Harwood and bought a cold RC cola one afternoon. After he drunk the cola he found a cricket (or something like it) in the bottom of the pop bottle.

Yesterday I shared some thoughts about preaching on sin. This is a work in progress and I welcome input. I especially encourage my preacher friends to read this material!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play)

"Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven"  Audio  

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  
This is a video prepared by a pastor for his parent's 50th wedding anniversary.  His mother was in the hospital with leukemia at the time, and she passed away five days before the anniversary, although she did get to see this video. What a wonderful way to honor parents! The song is the Steve Green version.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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. Used by permission; 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 I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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