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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Canned peaches, Lancaster County, PA 9/10
Brooksyne's canned peaches and preserves!
We all indeed enjoy the "fruit" of these labors.

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"Our Labor: Cooperating With God"

"Six days you shall labor and do all your work" (Exodus 20:9). "The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands" (Deuteronomy 2:7).

Over the last several days Brooksyne made a variety of delicacies from a bushel of fresh peaches I bought at a farm market last week.  She made several frozen pies, canned two varieties of  peaches, and made a peach marmelade jam. My favorite (although hard to pick) was the peach recipe she seasoned with cloves and cinnamon which sure makes a tasty combination for canned peaches!

I consider the various cooperative efforts needed in the process: There was the obvious cooperation between Brooksyne and me. After all, she sent me out for the peaches and I helped her assemble the materials needed for the various processes such as canning jars, the water bath and so forth! But she labored in the kitchen over a couple days to accomplish her long range goal and certainly put in the intense labor required!

But there were other areas of cooperation invisible to our eyes, such as those who grew the peaches, those who tended to their growth requirements (such as spraying for insects or disease, etc.), those who picked them and packed them up for resale.  I did meet those who sold the peaches at the Root's Farmer's Market.  Often, when we pray over our meal, we try to remember those in prayer who had a role in getting food to our table and there are many.

Now, as fine a cook as Brooksyne is, she certainly cannot make a peach! God made the peaches and all along the way there has been cooperation with humankind from the growing, picking, distribution, and other steps needed to get peaches onto our dining room table. The peaches then become a tasty and colorful source of nutrition and sweet delight to our tastebuds.

Yesterday we celebrated "Labor Day" here in the USA.  Many enjoyed an outdoor setting of some sort along with a grilled hamburger, hot dog, or for some a sumptuous steak.  I suppose "Labor Day" means different things to different people but today let us consider labor to be a gift from God.

From the time of creation God has ordained labor, commanding Adam to tend the garden and care for the animals. Labor got much harder after the fall but it has always been a part of God's plan for the human race. We sure appreciate the fourth commandment in regard to the Sabbath being the day of rest, but included also is the command to labor! "Six days you shall labor and do all your work" (Exodus 20:9).

Labor is a cooperative arrangement between God and humans. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are absolutely dependent upon the creative, sustaining, and providential work of God.

Yet God has also ordained our cooperation in the process. Look around you today and consider this marvelous cooperation. On the one hand we recognize the hand of the Lord in all that is around us, but we also see the work of humans.

Although the Apostle Paul was speaking in a spiritual sense in this verse it is also true in other regards: "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6). In this passage we see cooperation between two laborers in the work of the Lord, but also the acknowledgment that only God can make the Word to grow after it is planted in the hearts of the followers.

Today, I encourage you to view your labor as working in cooperation with God and in obedience to His original design.  Let's rejoice and cooperate in His divine arrangement so that God will bless us in all the work of our hands.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, help us to labor wholeheartedly according to Your command.  We want to bless You with a grateful attitude and bless our workplace in regard to our productivity and loyalty.  We thank You for our daily provision and blessing that comes through the work of our hands. We also thank You for our employers who provide our paychecks to meet our monetary needs. We pray for those seeking employment that You will provide work but until that financial door opens we pray that You will provide through unexpected means and the generosity of others.  As You bless us through the work of our hands we in turn bless You by faithfully giving back to You a generous portion to finance Your kingdom through the local church, Christian ministries, and other worthy endeavors.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Amish barn and team ready to work, Lancaster County, PA 9/2/10
Amish barn
Note the mule team at the barn door ready for work!

Chaplaincy friends, Lancaster County, PA 9/2/10
In the course of our corporate chaplaincy work we visit people where they work and here I am at a local machine shop with two friends.

Indianapolis skyline 8/10
I found this photo in my collection from our trip to the Midwest several weeks ago. This is the Indianapolis skyline taken from Lucas Oil stadium. Because I really like trains my eye is immediately drawn to the train coming out of Union Station!

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.)

"We'll Work Till Jesus Comes"  Video  

"I Shall Know Him"  Video  "When my life work is ended..."

Here's an excellent online booklet dealing with our attitude toward work: "How Can I Find Satisfaction In My Work?" This booklet is available as a pdf for online reading and study.

Note: Tomorrow I will be taking a group of Amish friends on a fishing trip to Chesapeake Bay and since I need to leave my house at 1:30 in the morning we will not be preparing a message tomorrow! Although Brooksyne works with me in preparing each message she does not know the technical steps required to get it distributed.

Peach pie recipe

Peach Pie Filling Recipe for 4 to 6 pies
3 ½ C. Sugar
¼ C. & 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
¼ C. & 1 Tbsp. *Minute Tapioca (in pudding section of stores)
5 dashes of nutmeg
12 ½ C. peeled, pitted, and sliced peaches
Six 9" regular frozen pie crusts or four deep-dish frozen pie crusts

Mix thoroughly first four dry ingredients and then stir into 12 ½ C. sliced peaches.  Carefully line frozen pie crust with *non-stick aluminum foil.  Spread peaches over top of foil.  Freeze at least six hours and then place pie in freezer-safe bag.  When you're ready to bake the pie remove the peach-packed aluminum foil from the pie crust.  Remove foil from the frozen peach filling and then return peach filling to crust.  Cover with top crust or crumb pie topping recipe below.  Bake for at least one hour or till pie is bubbling in the middle (sometimes it takes 1 ½ hours and crust on edges must be covered with foil to prevent burning.)

*Minute Tapioca is not the instant pudding mix.  Shop carefully.
*Non-stick aluminum foil is marked (be careful not to use regular).

Pie Topping

1 ¾ C. flour
1 ¾ C. Oats
1 1/3 Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 C. slightly softened butter
(Optional, but oh so good: 2 C. coconut, 2 C. coarsely chopped pecans)
Cut in butter and Mix altogether.  Package in four freezer safe bags.
(If you use coconut & pecans this recipe makes about 2 ½ C. topping for each pie)

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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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