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Friday, May 7, 2010

Amish one room schoolhouse
Amish One Room Schoolhouse
Lancaster County, PA.

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"Leading A Quiet Life"

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need" (1 Thessalonians 4:11,12).

Yesterday we had a very memorable visit to a one room Amish schoolhouse with 25 children and one young teacher. She very proficiently supervised her students, grades 1-8, as she led them in reading, fact memorizing, singing, and reciting.

Brooksyne, Ester and I sat beside our friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth with their three younger children, on the back bench as we observed the students.  As we quietly took our seats two first graders were at the front of the class orally reading from their text books.  It was extra special that Moses Allen, our friends' oldest child, was one of the readers.  We've known him since he was born and watching him grow up is especially delightful.

Now that Moses is in school he, along with all the other students, will become multilingual like their parents, as they are thoroughly taught in the English language in the school.  Before they attend school they speak Pennsylvania Dutch in the home and in social settings amongst themselves. Their church services are in German. Many of our readers enjoy reading about the Amish since it is a lifestyle quite different than the English, so we have several photos with descriptive captions following our message today along with a more detailed description of the school experience by Brooksyne.

Getting back to our text we sure love God's Word; its doctrinal truths and also its practical instruction for everyday living. Today's Scripture portion is so needed in today's harried world. In many ways the Amish have really done well with the teachings of this verse!

The apostle Paul lists three disciplines that had been commanded in his previous ministry to the Thessalonians that were to be their ambition (and through the Holy Scriptures ours as well). Not one of them seems deep in doctrinal teaching, but more practical in the way we are to conduct ourselves.
1) Lead a quiet life.
2) Attend to your own business.
3) Work with your hands.

The antonyms of the points in our Scripture today would be:
1) Instead of leading a quiet life we're stirring up trouble and bringing undue attention upon ourselves.
2) Instead of attending to our own business we're busybodies, prying into other people's personal business.
3) Instead of working with our own hands we're looking to others to provide our essentials (an entitlement attitude).

Perhaps there are those who might say that this verse is no longer applicable in our "modern" world, but I happen to believe the teachings of Scripture apply to all cultures and generations, for "all Scripture is given by inspiration and is useful...for training in righteousness."

We want to consider how this "quiet life" might be fleshed out in our attitude, in our conversation and in the way we conduct ourselves today.

We like the challenge Warren Wiersbe sets forth on this verse: "Living a quiet life may seem like a paradox; if you are ambitious, your life will probably not be quiet. But the emphasis is on quietness of mind and heart, the inner peace that enables a person to be sufficient through faith in Christ. Paul did not want the saints running around creating problems as they earned their daily bread."

God wants us to be a witness to unbelievers as we lead quiet lives, uplift others in our conversation, and work productively with our hands.  Let's honor Him and bless others by doing so this day and every day!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, the mindset of the world too often is a driving force in the way I conduct myself day in and day out.  But as I saturate myself in Your Holy Scriptures I am much more inclined to regard Your approval and Your direction in the way I live. May the meditation of Your Word keep my focus on You, not myself this day.  Let my conversation be wholesome rather than empty or conniving so that I benefit both the listener and myself.  Let the work of my hands be productive and helpful to others, my family and myself.  Let it be a positive witness to unbelievers of the work You are doing within me.  In Jesus' name I pray.  Amen.

Today we want to share a lot more photos than usual due to our experiences the last couple of days beginning with our visit to the Amish school yesterday.

Brooksyne's obervations about the school:
  • It was a setting much like "Little House on the Prairie", but the real thing.
  • A specific grade of students took turns reading aloud from a reading book at the front of the class while the remainder of children sat at their desks working on their specific assignments.  The teacher made her way around the classroom quietly checking students work as she also held the open reader in her hand that children in the front were reading.  She didn't miss a line as she would interject her turn after the students each had a turn. It required precise coordination, tremendous multi-tasking, and the skill was so pleasantly executed by the teacher. 
  • The children were absolutely quiet during the entire classroom visit unless they were called upon after they raised their hand.  Of course, they frequently peered to the back of the room to check out their visitors.  The order was absolutely refreshing in comparison to the few times I visited Ester's classroom when she was in school!
  • The hymns sung by the children and the prayer they recited before lunch warmed my heart and made me wish I had such an upbringing in my school years. 
  • The children graciously lined up for their lunches and then sat in circles on the ground to eat their food.  It was delightful to see them sitting and laughing together, all ages mixed together, chatting and eating. They ate till every bite and drink was gone!  Most expressed thanks for the meal provided.
  • We signed a visitor's book and had the opportunity to read each child's profile as they wrote about themselves.  Each had to list their favorite chores at home and at school.  Cleaning the chalkboards and sweeping out the toilets tied for favorite chore at school.
  • The contrast yesterday at the school to the public schools was so very different.  Even Ester volunteered, "Mom, I wish I could have gone to a school like this.  There's no drama.  Everyone's happy."  Much more could be written, but you've been kind to read what we've written up to this point. 
Amish one room schoolhouse
Here's another view of the Amish schoolhouse as you enter off the farm road. Beautiful farm landscapes are viewed in every direction  as you walk on the grounds.  Many of the children ride scooters to school, as you can see. The bell is located in the entryway. Two small outhouses are in the back. The school had 25 children from grades 1-8. This school is very similar to the Nickle Mines school where the horrendous shootings occured several years ago. (In fact that area is only a couple of miles away.) The Amish are understandably wary of guests, for various reasons,  so our invitation and the warm reception we received was a real blessing.

Amish one room schoolhouse (inside)
The inside of the school from the main door in the back. It's heated with a coal stove and naturally air conditioned by the many windows! It has a small sink in the back but the kids used a pump bottle of hand cleanser to wash their hands prior to eating lunch.  Instead of standing in a long line waiting their turn, they got up one by one as they correctly responded with answers to the teacher's verbal history quiz.  The only modern type poster in the school was a PA Department of Health warning about the H1N1 flu.

Ringing the school bell in an Amish one room schoolhouse
I am doing something here that very few "English" have ever done;
ringing the bell in an Amish one room school!

Lunch we prepared for Amish children
We prepared a lunch that we thought would adequately feed the students (called scholars) and their young teacher, but they went right through it and came back for more.  We didn't find a morsel of food wasted nor did anyone reject that which was given to them.  When Brooksyne asked Anna Ruth if the children would enjoy a particular food item she said, "Amish are taught not to be picky, but accept that which is given to them."  And that's just what they did.  The soda pop was a special treat.

Australian cattle dog puppies
Following our visit to the school we went back to our friend's house and Eli James wanted to show us their cute Australian cattle dog puppies.

Australian cattle dog puppies
But it was just way too tempting to merely look in from the outside!

Australian cattle dog puppies
The puppies were very happy to see Eli!

Ester with Australian cattle dog puppy
Of course Ester wanted to take a puppy home!

Brooksyne with goat
Brooksyne with friendly baby goat on our trail back home.

Strasburg railroad
As we left we passed a train from the Strasburg Railroad
which is a tourist train using a real steam engine!

Now, let me share several photos from an ordination service Ester and I went to Wednesday evening in Camp Hill, PA.

Ester with her Uncle Pat
We attended the service with my brother Pat who pastors a church in the Lehigh Valley about 100 miles northeast of us.
Ester is always pleased to see her Uncle.

Joseph Cullen
I was so blessed to see Joseph Cullen, a young man from the church we served in New England. Joey (as we know him) has a wonderful testimony of deliverance from sin.  He is serving as a youth pastor in Philadelphia and is getting married next month to the daughter of Phil Menditto, a friend from Bible College. 

Jesse Ledbetter
It was a blessing to meet Jesse Ledbetter who was among the 23 candidates receiving their ordination in the service. He is now serving as pastor of the church Brooksyne and I started in 1977 in northern Pennsylvania. He reports the church is doing well, which is so encouraging to us.  He is only the third pastor the church which is nearly 33 years old. We served till 1993 and Ed Carocci, who succeeded me, served up until a couple of years ago.

Harold Crosby
I visited with Harold Crosby, whom I consider one of my ministry mentors. He is nearing 90 and has been in the ministry for nearly 70 years. He's as spunky is ever. His wife Elizabeth is in a nursing home and he visits her every day.

Tomorrow is an anniversary for two significant events in my life. On May 8, 1976 Brooksyne and I were married in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and on May 8, 1979 I was ordained in York, Pennsylvania. I find value in attending ordination services in reminding me of the high calling I have received as a minister of the Gospel!

All should heed this sacred challenge: Will you be faithful to the sacred trust of the ministry by diligence, by prayer and study, by uprightness in business matters, by ministerial ethics and courtesy, by self-sacrifice, by purity, by avoiding the very appearance of evil, by cherishing the anointing of the Holy Spirit, even unto death?  Once again I heartily respond,  "I will!"

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.)

"Amish children singing in school"  Video  Apparently someone else attended an Amish school and recorded the singing. When Brooksyne heard this she said, "It sounds just like what we heard!"  The kids really sing out and are excited about picking the next song.

"Breathe On Me"  Video  This was sung at the ordination service followed by "Let Your Mantle Fall On Me"

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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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