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Monday, May 10, 2010

Scottish Highland cattle
Scottish Highland cattle grazing along Little Chiques Creek
Lancaster County, PA

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"Lessons From A Fallen Sparrow"

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:31).

An unseasonably cold front passed through our area beginning on Saturday and it brought about a light frost overnight.  As we drove past the wheat fields on Saturday the whipping winds laid flat the fertile wheat fields row by row.  They'd slowly revive only to be knocked over again by the next gust of wind.  It looked sort of like the waves from the ocean endlessly sweeping upon the shore.  The phrase "amber waves of grain" from the patriotic song, "America" took on new meaning as we observed the unusual but natural phenomenon.

Bird in hand
The howling winds from the west knocked down a few trees in our county and blew many things around in our yard as well. I was outside picking up some debris when I heard a frantic chirping in a large shrub in front of our driveway. Upon examination I saw that it was a sparrow in its nest that appeared to be quite perturbed at the cold blowing wind.

Later that day I went back to check on the bird and saw that it was on the ground so I placed it back in its nest, even as the winds were penetrating the evergreen branches.

Late yesterday afternoon when we got home I saw the bird laying on the ground dead.  This time I was a bit perturbed and considered how cruel nature can be when its fury is unleashed. I then considered today's verse but noted a part I suppose I've never given much attention to: "Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father."  Notice the statement does not say that the sparrows will never fall to the ground (die) but they will not do so apart from the will of the Father.

A couple of weeks ago a local pastor's wife had picked up another pastor's wife
at the Harrisburg Airport.  She had come in from Texas to speak at a women's gathering. They went to the church in Middletown, PA to prepare for the ladies meeting and then got back on the freeway to get something to eat before the service was to begin. On the way to the restaurant they were both killed in an auto accident. The local pastor's wife was 55 which is really close to home (that's my age). Both left behind their pastor husbands, children and two grieving churches, along with many grieving family and friends.  These types of mysterious tragedies prompt us to say or at least think, "Why did God allow that to happen?"

I sure don't have that answer.

But I do find great comfort in considering the great doctrine of providence which states that God is superintending over all of His creation in every way at all times.  He's got each single hair on every head counted (present tense) and not a single bird falls without His knowledge or consent.  The Westminster Catechism states, "God's works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to His own glory."

A reasonable extrapolation from our daily text based on the teachings of Scripture pertains not only to the death of a sparrow but also those entirely mysterious events in our own lives which we call tragedies. We must by faith assert that they do not happen "apart from the will of our Father."

Perhaps today you will proclaim the Scripture verbally and personalize this truth. This does not happen "apart from the will of my Father."  As we come to terms with this essential truth then we can begin to see what God is teaching us through our difficulty and we can grow in spiritual maturity from our experience.

I can think of no better example from the Bible than Job who went through the greatest loss recorded in biblical history; his family, his health, his wealth, and his standing in the community. Yet his faith and integrity remained intact. In place of resentment he made a resolve, "When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

Let us choose today to withstand the tempter's heat and come forth as gold, so that our faith is proven genuine and our testimony is far reaching to both those who believe and those who do not believe.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, if You see a sparrow that falls to the ground; if you know the daily number of hairs that are on my head; if every snowflake that falls from heaven is uniquely designed by You why do I doubt that You have Your watchful and caring eye upon me for I am created in Your image. Forgive me when I doubt You or feel forsaken. Instead I want to trust You and believe Your Words that assures me, "Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you." "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." "Nothing can separate me from the love of God; not tribulation or distress or persecution, famine or nakedness or peril or sword." No in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Don and Carole Musser 5/7/10
Friday evening we walked over to a local benefit auction at a school down the road from our house and saw many friends, including Don and Carole Musser, who now live in Colorado Springs. I first met Don nine years ago when I served his company as a chaplain.

I very distinctly recall our first visit. He had a good position with his own private office. He invited me into his office and told me to shut the door behind me.  I thought I might be in some kind of trouble!  He then welcomed me to his company and prayed for my ministry.

Union Mill Acres roadstand 5/8/10
Saturday afternoon we stopped by the Union Mill Acres roadstand
along Little Chiques Creek so Brooksyne could check out the flowers.
I enjoy the split rail fence!

Sunday afternoon we stopped by to visit Jere and Sarah Withers, who live in a mountainous area about 20 miles from us.
They have several beautiful
blooming rhododenrens.

Redneck basketball 5/9/10
On the way home yesterday afternoon we saw Lee, a friend of ours, out in his yard and stopped to  visit for few minutes. He has three young boys and I thought this basketball goal he had set up for them was interesting. He cut a hole in the bottom of a five gallon joint compound bucket and then nailed it to a tree for a basketball goal. I suppose that's good enough till he sees if they really like to play basketball.  I told him I would post the photo and call it Hillbilly Basketball!

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.)

"His Eye Is On The Sparrow"  Video  Selah

"His Eye Is On the Sparrow" Brooksyne often uses hymn stories to encourage others. She has prepared a page with the words along with the background story that led the writer, Civilla Martin, to write the hymn.  We believe it will bless you and encourage one who is experiencing loss or chronic illness.  You may want to download it, print it out and share it with others.  (pdf)

"Blessed Be Your Name"  Video   Matt Redman  Many of us have been blessed by this song and in fact we sang it yesterday in our church. This is a very creative version with real people sharing their own testimonies of overcoming adversity.

"Job's God Is True"  Video  Today as Brooksyne was working on the message she came across the lyrics to this song and asked me to see if I could find a Youtube version. Imagine our surprise when this Youtube version came up from a little church in Oakhurst, Oklahoma that Brooksyne attended as a child.  Now it's really country!

I can feel the hand of Satan
As the temper press me sore
He has been before the Father
Asking leave to tempt me more

Though God slay me yet I'll trust Him
I shall then come forth as gold
And I know that He still liveth
For I feel Him in my soul

Verse Two
I can hear the Father grant it
Saying do not touch his life
Though you crush him he'll not falter
He will rise above the strife

Verse Three:
Though I struggle I'll not stagger
By His grace I'll make it through
For His grace is all sufficient
And I know that God is true

Verse Four:
When I have looked all around me
And His face I cannot see
Then I know that through the lattice
He beholdeth even 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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