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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Windmill on Amish farm
Working windmill on Amish farm
Taken on the "View of Paradise" farm in eastern Lancaster County

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"Looking Unto Jesus"

"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

Yesterday I went with my friend Jay Kopp on a field trip. Jay is taking a course in photography and asked me if I could arrange a visit with my Amish friends to do a photographic project of the farming implements and methods used in the past. The Amish provide great examples of living history.

Mouldboard plowWe visited Eli, an older Amish dairy farmer, who lives on a large farm near the Strasburg Railroad. Being a train buff it's great to hear the steam whistle and see the plume of smoke as the train passes above the ridge over his farm.  Jay and I walked back to the farm, which is set back on a long dirt lane.

I explained to Eli the photo project and he took us to his barn where he had a collection of interesting old farm equipment.  He dug out the mouldboard plow that Jay is standing behind. I told Jay I had an idea for a message I wanted to share based on this plow as the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance today's first Scripture verse.

It takes a great deal of strength, concentration and perseverance to plow a field. Initially in order to get a straight row you must focus your eyes on a fixed distant object. After you have a straight row you then focus on the furrow or previous row as you continue plowing. Most importantly, you don't look back!

Many of you who know me personally have often heard me say farewell with one of two phrases; "Stay faithful" or "Keep your hand to the plow."  I've done this for many, many years.

"Staying faithful!"  What a quality.  It's not dramatic.  It's not sensational.  But think with me for a few moments. Consider those who, over the long haul, have been a genuine and enduring blessing to you. Right at the top of the list of their good qualities is that of faithfulness, isn't it?  I'll take faithfulness over flashiness any time.  God said regarding Moses, "He is faithful in all my house."  What a gratifying affirmation to receive from God Himself! 

In Matthew's gospel Jesus gives us a glimpse of what we'll hear when we finish the race.  It sure won't be "Great job, O thou flashy one."  No, it will be "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:23).  And in the book of Revelation we have a recognition of His "called, chosen and faithful followers" (17:14).

Indeed let us "stay faithful" and keep our hand to the plow today, not looking back but instead, "looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Jesus, it is the desire of our heart to remain faithful to You.  The world often uses the expression, "Be true to yourself" intending that people stand up for what they believe in, but those of the world, by and large, stand for causes and beliefs that often conflict with the holy Word of God.   We are also subject to error and our emotions cannot be trusted, so with absolute resolve we choose to be true to You, rather than self.  We join with others of the Christian faith who hold unswervingly to the hope we profess even as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Amen.

Brooksyne's note:  While growing up I spent a week every summer with my grandparents in Arkansas during planting season.  I think of the yoke Grandpa would put on the two mules that pulled the plow.  The yoke prevented the mules from going two directions and forced them to be a working team providing double the horsepower.  It is essentially the strength of two mules united for one singular purpose.   Imagine the work that can be accomplished for the kingdom of God when we unite in the same way, breaking up fallow ground along the way as we keep our eyes on the goal of our heavenward calling.

Amish mules
Amish work team mules

One horse power mower
Jay's son John on a genuine one horse power mower.
I didn't get a good photo of the mower behind the cart but it is 60 inches wide! (Notice the curious mules in the background windows.)

What's this?
What's this? Want to guess?
(Answer in tomorrow's message!)

Living in the past!
My Amish friend got a kick out of this cartoon!

Information about the mouldboard plow.  
Here's a full-sized photo of a team with plow.
The Strasburg Railroad and adjoining
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania  (for train buffs like me.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play)

"Hand To The Plow"  Audio 

"I Will Serve The Lord"  Video

"Today I Choose"  Video

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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