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Monday, April 27, 2009

Old grader in field
I took this photo last Friday afternoon in southern Lebanon County. I can't determine for sure what it is but it looks like some type of grader. I also can't determine whether it broke down and the owner never got around to moving it or if it is an intentional lawn ornament (which I tend to favor).

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"The Tyranny Of The New" (Part 1)

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11).  "But godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

Black wall phoneThroughout my entire childhood I recall the black rotary dial phone on our kitchen wall, the only phone in our home. A few phone options were available at that time so if you were well-to-do you might have paid extra each month for tone dialing. But this was not deemed necessary by my depression-era parents. At the time it never occurred to me to be dissatisfied with that phone or to want something newer. It worked fine and we were blessed to have a private line as long as I can remember, unlike the party line Brooksyne had growing up where they initially shared with ten neighbors!

Talk about easy access to gossip in the neighborhood!  For those too young to understand what sharing a party line is: when you pick up your phone to make a call you always had to listen first to make sure another person wasn't already talking.  If they were you had to wait until they finished their conversation before you had access to your phone.  When sharing with ten parties you might not have the phone available for many hours.

Cell phoneNow, there is an outstanding variety in phone types with new, more bells and whistles type, phones being offered by the day. Although most cell phone plans come with a "free" phone many step up to a more advanced style and then purchase yet newer phones through the life of the plan. An early cell phone looks about as ancient as the piece of machinery featured in today's top photo!

We live in a time when people are obsessed with the new. Now I'm sure to some degree this has always been the case but in my observation this obsession has increased dramatically in my lifetime. The cycle time between what is new and old is much, much shorter, and in some objects a matter of months will make the "new" purchase an outdated item.

I like new stuff and in many ways "new" is a blessing. New stuff often works better and does more (although it may not last as long since many materials are made with disposability in mind).  We recently remodeled our kitchen and I have shared how pleased Brooksyne is with updated electrical wiring, additional counterspace and cabinetry.

But there is also a tyrannical aspect to the new. New is constantly changing, similar to "state of the art". An engineer once told me that many electronic type items are no longer "state of the art" as soon as they become available for sale, since the next generation of the product line is already waiting to be placed on the market. What's new today will be old very quickly and if people base their contentment on the new they will be constantly frustrated, and many are.

Today's tiny verses are power-packed and so vital. Many view the experience of "gain" in life as having newer stuff and more of it. But that is certainly not what the apostle Paul is writing about.  Consider the power of the phrase, "But godliness with contentment is great gain."

"Godliness refers to the act of being pious and living a good, reverent life toward God and others because of what Christ has done in us." (Richard Krejkir)

Godliness is a dying virtue in our time, though God will always have a remnant who walk in a manner that honors and pleases Him.

Among the many ways the world seeks to force us into its mold is the lie that the new can offer true satisfaction. Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want (which will always be changing), but the realization of how much you already have and finding satisfaction with that.  It's realizing that, "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided."

From the beginning Satan has tormented the human race with the lie: "What God has provided is not enough." This was at the very heart of Satan's first lie and temptation to Adam and Eve.  The breathtaking beauty in the Garden was not enough; their human companionship was not enough; God's provision was not enough;  His authority was meant to be questioned.

Today we have an abundant and growing allure toward  the newest and latest which we've been told will make us happy; whether it's visiting a special location promoted as "heaven on earth", whether it's the latest item guaranteed to surpass our expectations, or for others it's may be that special someone who's going to finally bring you fulfillment in life.

Today may the Lord help us to identify the tyranny of the new and be aware of how it impacts us; whether it is for the good and certainly this can be the case, or whether it contributes to discontent or ingratitude for what we already have.

Tomorrow I plan to write about how the "tyranny of the new" is also impacting the church.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, we find ourselves often like Adam and Eve who, instead of looking upon ALL that You had given to them for enjoyment and sustenance, chose to partake of what little You forbid.  Sometimes we set our eyes on that which is too expensive and unnecessary, or that which belongs to another causing us to covet and break Your commandment.  Help us to be thankful for that which we have and share with those who have less.  Guard us from greed and discontent as we are daily mindful of our blessings.  Help us to rejoice in other's blessings instead of resenting them.  All that we have need of is daily provided by Your generous hand.  We thank You, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  It was in junior high school that my folks said, "Enough is enough" and we stepped up to a two party line!  We could certainly access our own phone more easily than with a ten party line, which was fairly important to our household of seven (four of us being teen-agers).

Marlin and his daughters
We had a beautiful day yesterday and Marlin brought his daughters to church on his ATV (just across the school yard next to the church). The country church we now serve in a part-time role was built in 1878 and is in the beautiful rolling hills of northern Lancaster County.  See here for a large-sized country view from the front doors.

Church traffic 4/26/09
We had to deal with some traffic going to our church service early yesterday morning. The Amish allow inline skates and this young man is skating to his church service, slowing the buggy up in the no passing zone!

Roxie in Donegal Creek 4/26/09
Last night we took our long walk and Roxie enjoyed a refreshing jump into Donegal Creek.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"Godliness With Contentment"  Audio mp3  This is a song written and sung by Mike Book, a friend of ours, based on today's Scripture passage.

"Sing Allelu"  Video  
I read that this song (or at least part of it) was written in 100AD.

"The Character of Godliness" by Richard Krejkir  (a brief Bible Study)

"Unshakable Christian Contentment"  An online message

Here's an interesting short article that relates to today's message.

A chapel message (mp3) by Lynn Miller, author of "The Power Of Enough"
  I have appreciated Lynn Miller's insights on this matter for several years.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

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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 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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