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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cumberland County PA barn
Late yesterday afternoon we passed this beautiful bank barn in Cumberland County Pennsylvania.

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"The Desires For Other Things"

"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful" (Mark 4:18,19).

Yesterday morning Ester was so excited when she left for work. For months she's been wanting to buy a pair of Converse All*Stars, which apparently, in spite of their old-fashioned plainness, have made a comeback and are once again "cool" among young people. Ester works in the fitting room at TJ Maxx and also processes the shoes.  For a couple months she'd been waiting for the Converse All*Stars to arrive in the size and color she wanted.  It finally happened last week.

When we picked her up at the end of her shift yesterday she didn't waste a minute in lacing them up and putting them on in the van. They still have that same canvas and rubber sole smell I recall from my youth!  That experience brought back a remembrance of one of the many times in my life when I've experienced the "desires for other things."

Converse all starsOver forty years ago I was a skinny kid trying out for the basketball team at Belton Junior High in Belton, Missouri. At that time the elite basketball shoe was the Converse All*Star. As I recall it wasn't even sold in stores but you had to buy it from the school and it was expensive (at least by my mom's reckoning). But I really wanted a pair. I liked the smell of the canvas and the squeaky sound it made on the wood basketball floor. It had a status as the shoe for serious basketball players. Pete Maravich, the preeminent basketball player at that time, played in Converse All*Stars.  Well, I can't recall whether I ever had a pair of Converse All*Stars, but athletic footwear has sure come a long way since then.

In the last two messages we have been considering three choking weeds that Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower; the first two being the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth.

The final "weed" Jesus mentioned that has a choking impact on the newly germinated seed are "the desires for other things." All throughout history we have had a desire for these "other things." Jesus does not specify what they are and the lack of specificity assures that this is a timeless message applying to all.  I can't smugly read the passage and feel "that sure doesn't apply to me"
such as if the text stated, "a gold wheeled chariot." Indeed I regularly deal with the desires for other things and expect to do so till I die.

Spurgeon asserts that "all things except the things of Christ and of the Father are 'other things'.  If anybody spends his life on any object, however good, short of the glory of God, the good seed is choked by the 'inferior' object."

F.B Meyer sees these other things as the "strong and inordinate desires for what may be right in itself, but which we follow with extravagant zest. What is right in itself may become wrong if we put it in God’s place, and allow it to monopolize us unduly."

Let us be thankful for our material blessings, abilities, learned skills, and variety of interests that God has given to each of us.  It certainly makes our lives here below more comfortable and pleasurable.  It also gives us common ground with others who share similar interests or giftings.

At the same time we must be careful to submit our desires for these "other things" to Christ so that He will help us with proper prioritization, lest the other things become choking weeds.  Above all, may the pursuit of following Jesus be the passion and desire of our hearts, as these "other things" fit into His overall plan for our lives.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we submit to You our desire for those things that might be derived from our studies, our abilities, our interests, our accumulation of material things or anything else that makes us who we are.  We want to be careful to seek You above everything else, submitting these "other things" to You so they will be of blessing to us and useful for Your kingdom.  When they compete for our allegiance they choke out the vibrant, growing relationship we have with You and soon make our lives unfruitful leading to a spiritual death.  Instead we want our hearts to be cultivated ground so that the good seed of the Word may produce a great harvest of spiritual fruit to Your praise and glory, Father. Amen.

Naomi WolgemuthYesterday afternoon we visited with Naomi Wolgemuth, a lifelong member of the church we now serve. Naomi is now in a nursing care facility about 40 miles away. She was pleased to see us and introduce me as her pastor. For many years Naomi had an interesting means of sharing her faith. She lived along a well travelled road with a small bank in front of her home. Beginning in 1954 (my birth year) she and her mother began planting flowers on the bank in a pattern to give a message such as "God Is Love" "Hosanna" and other godly themes that could be seen and read as people passed by her home.  Over the years people anticipated these messages and wondered what would be next. She did this every single summer for 50 years!  Now that's faithfulness.

Interestingly, she complimented Ester on her new All*Stars saying, "I like your shoes." She had no idea that Ester had just put them on (we all just looked at each other and smiled.)  It was especially noteworthy since Naomi comes from a plain lifestyle background (I rather doubt that she was aware of the brand name).

Pig roast

Last night we went to a Pastor's fellowship picnic in Cumberland County and had a pig roast
and homemade ice cream. The 200 pound pig was slowly roasted over 150 pounds of charcoal for 26 hours. It was not necessarily a pretty sight (thus the small photo) but it sure tasted good with the various seasonings!

John Deere ice cream maker

The ice cream maker was powered by a 1929 John Deere Model E hit and miss
engine, which makes a delightful sound and sure beats turning it by hand! The ice cream was delicious. For the chronically curious (who like me watch these things with a big smile on their face) here's a video.

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.)

"This Is My Desire"  Video  The Oslo Gospel Choir

"I Surrender All"  Video  Vineyard Singers

"When Its All Been Said And Done"  Video
  Robin Mark

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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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