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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Newly transplanted Crimson Red Japanese maple
Our newly transplanted Crimson Red Japanese Maple

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"Lessons From A Transplanted Tree"

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).

Last week I visited a large wholesale nursery where the owner is interested in having a farm chaplain. I introduced the owner to a friend of mine whom I recommended and we discussed the role of chaplaincy together. It it such a blessing to see the caring heart this businessman has; to provide not only employment for his workers, but to care for their souls as well.  We thank God for caring Christian employers.

GreenhouseAfterward we got in the owner's truck and he took us on a tour of the farm. Mostly they grow trees and perennial type plants on 200 acres and 240 greenhouses.  At the end of the tour we pulled up beside a long line of pallets with a variety of plants stacked on them. They were discards deemed unsuitable for sale and destined for the compost heap.  From that group of discards I spotted a Weeping Japanese Maple that didn't measure up to nursery standards but was acceptable to me, a novice gardener.   I carted the tree sideways into my Camry and later transplanted it in our front yard. For many years I have wanted one of these trees but they are quite expensive.

Crimson red Japanese maple leavesI dug a deep hole and then refilled it partially with broken up soil and watered the hole before I carefully set the plant in and backfilled around it. Now I am tending it carefully, watering it several times a day, especially as it adjusts to its new location.  I find fulfillment in trying to save a beautiful plant that was otherwise destined for the compost pile. As of this morning, several days after the transplant, it looks good. I hope in the coming weeks and months I will have a good report to share of my transplanting success!

Today I consider another type of discard and the need for a transplant.  God promised the ancient Israelites through the prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."  That was about 2,550 years ago and remains God's redemptive work; that of a spiritual heart transplant.  I consider the words of Paul in Colossians 1:13&14: "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  No contrast is greater than God rescuing us from the darkness of sin and "transplanting" us into His Kingdom of light!

Thousands will trust Christ today for salvation through the witness of so many all around the world.  Have you trusted Christ for salvation; for the new heart He has for you?  I know many of you have and you will rejoice with me as I thank God for what He did in my life nearly 40 years ago in the very midst of being a rebellious, grumpy teenager.  Thank God for what He did in your life when He gave you a new heart.  But if you haven't already made that commitment we invite you to do so.  Speak to Jesus right now through prayer and invite Him into your heart.  Then choose to follow Him and grow in your relationship with Him the rest of your days.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to walk on this earth and show us the way to You.   Through His death and resurrection we have forgiveness and hope of eternal life.  We confess our sins and ask You to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.  Show us through the Scriptures how to turn away from the ever-changing values and principles based on this world where the prince of darkness reigns.  Endear our hearts instead to building an eternal spiritual foundation while we look upward to that great City whose Maker and Builder is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our minds cannot conceive what is in store for us but it will far surpass anything we might possibly hope for in this life.  Keep us faithful until that eventful transfer.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Stephen's note: We have a wonderful Christian radio station (WDAC) that we enjoy throughout the day.  It's a commercial station and relies on advertising for support.  Many of the advertisers seek to connect to the listeners, who are for the most part Christians, and if possible provide a spiritual angle to the ad as well.  One of our favorite ads in this regard is for Goods Disposal Service, a trash hauling company, which has this memorable jingle, "Let God recycle your heart and let Goods recycle your trash."  I smile and actually am edified every time I hear this ad.  Wherever you live and regardless of who handles your trash let God recycle your heart!

Sam Masciantonio 5/26/10Last night we had a visit from Rick Masciantonio, a long-time friend from our years of pastoring in New England during the nineties. Rick & Elizabeth and their three sons attended our church. Rick is now a pastor himself and is in this area for a pastor's conference. Last night he shared a message at our small group Bible Study from Isaiah 45:22. Rick is the most studious person I ever had the privilege of pastoring and it is a joy to see him staying faithful in his walk and service for the Lord! In fact Rick specifically recalls, like many who know me, my persistent reminder to "STAY FAITHFUL". As John states concerning those whom he discipled, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 4).

Sam Masciantonio and Ester (about 1998)
We have fond memories of the three Masciantonio boys frequently visiting us in our parsonage home next door to the church, most especially after Sunday evening services. Last night Sam, their youngest, was  with his dad and before he came Ester dug out this old photo of the two of them with some roses. Was this Ester's first date? (Brooksyne's note:  Not at all!  It was an arrangement given to me from Ester's elementary school after I presented the Pilgrim's story of their voyage on the Mayflower in 1998.)

Sam Masciantonio and Ester 5/26/10
As old friends Sam and Ester enjoyed visiting each other last night.  Sam and his brothers especially loved Brooksyne's homemade bread on their visits so she made some whole wheat bread yesterday for our meal. In two weeks 20 year old Sam will be going into the Marines.

Ester with childhood friends
Our friends in New England may especailly enjoy this old photo. Sam is shown with his two older brothers, Richard (holding the puppy) and Peter (back center). Richard is now studying to be a doctor in Pharmacy and Peter is an electrician. Also in the photo is Ashley (front center), who is now a medical doctor and her brother Eric who is in the Marines having already served a tour of duty in Afghanistan.  The Panda Bear cake Brooksyne made for Ester celebrating her second year of adoption (look closely at the American flags and the two candles.)  It's a long, complicated story but essentially Ester who has been with us since 3 months of age was not officially adopted from the country of Guatemala until she was 8 years old.  Until recent years Ester had three celebrations a year:  her birthday in March, her arrival to the U.S. in June, and her adoption in August!  Add Christmas to her list and she had lots of celebrations each of which she enjoyed and always invited friends to enjoy with her.

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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.)

"Create In Me A Clean Heart, O God"  Video  Keith Green

"Create In Me A Clean Heart"  Video  Scripture from the Integrity Scripture memory series sung in the Maranatha Country Praise collection.

"Create In Me A Clean Heart"  Video  Donnie McClurkin

"Purify My Heart"  Video  Brian Doerksen

"Purify My Heart"  Video  Piano version

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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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