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Friday, November 19, 2010

Parked buggies at Amish wedding 11/18/10
Buggies parked at an Amish wedding.
For a larger photo with Scripture text click here.

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"Honored by All for All Time"

"Marriage should be honored by all" (Hebrews 13:4).

In our mid-week Bible study at church this week we discussed the daily text in our verse by verse study of Hebrews. Yesterday the USA Today Newspaper had a front page article that stood in stark contrast to this Scriptural teaching titled,  "We're Just Not That Into Marriage".

It was a survey that dealt with the declining interest in marriage and consequential drop in marriage statistics. The article surely reveals the increasing immoral state of our country and we felt the Spirit's prompting to call for an honoring of marriage using two illustrations, one very old and one as recent as yesterday:

Bible dedication page for marriage 12/28/1904
In preparation for her historical presentation of "The Mayflower Voyage" we referred to several days ago Brooksyne decided to use my mother's Bible. Though she left it to me five years earlier when she died I had not thoroughly examined it for some time. As I skimmed through her very worn black leather Bible I turned to the Family History pages and began to read the dedication page. I learned that this Bible was given to my grandparents by the minister who conducted their wedding ceremony on December 28, 1904.  They celebrated 66 fruitful years of marriage before my grandpa died in 1971.  My grandma died a short time thereafter. Today although they are long gone I honor that marriage and realize the positive impact their lives had on so many not just in their own generation, but also on the generations to follow right up to the present time.

Yesterday in the course of our travels for our chaplaincy ministry we passed a sight that always gets our attention (see photo above). Along 340 east of Bird In Hand PA we saw a very lengthy row of Amish buggies neatly lined up along a long lane leading back to a farm.

We immediately recognized the significance of this setting, having lived in this area for nearly ten years now. They were gathered for an Amish wedding.

It is the custom among the Amish (at least in this area) to conduct weddings in the month of November on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The typical Amish wedding may very well have 500 or more people in attendance.  The ceremony itself starts at 8:00AM and lasts till around 11:30! They then have a huge meal, afternoon fellowship, a hymn sing and another meal. They visit with one another (mostly boys & men together, girls & women together) till about 9:00 PM!  All this is in the home or barn, generally at the bride's parents' residence.  We attended an Amish wedding three years ago and it was unlike any other wedding celebration we've attended. (See below for a link to a first hand description.)

In this series we often refer to the daily Scripture portion. This simple, straightforward command is so needed today: "Marriage should be honored by all." This command is not referring only to a specific marriage but also to the institution of marriage itself. Today the institution of marriage (holy matrimony) is under severe attack through radical and ungodly efforts seeking to undermine and redefine it, contrary to its divine design and how it has been understood by the human race since creation.

Marriage is the oldest human institution, established by God Himself when He created Eve from Adam. It was specifically ordained (ordered) by God, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

Marriage is an ongoing expression of God's wisdom for humankind when He stated to Adam, "It is not good for man to be alone." He created a complimentary "helper suitable for him."

The Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry powerfully reinforces this view, "Haven't you read," He replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?'" (Matthew 19:4,5). In another Scripture He pronounced, "Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Mark 10:9).

Today, no matter your present circumstance or past experience, let us heed these simple words from the Book of Hebrews, "Marriage should be honored by all." Let us give honor now and for all time!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, one of the greatest mysteries in the human experience is how You blend two individuals and make them become as one when they join as husband and wife.  The "me" becomes "us" in our shared interests and goals in life.  Things are no longer "mine" but "ours."  Our times of celebration as well as times of sadness and loss become shared experiences.  We honor marriage, recognizing the sacrifices and blessings that come to those who are joined in holy matrimony.  We also recognize that our archenemy, Satan, is intent on destroying the very foundation of marriage that You established from the beginning.  We uphold the institution of marriage as defined in Scripture and honor it in the way we speak of it and the way we live it out with our spouse.  Amen.

White horse in Lancaster PA 11/18/10
In southern Lancaster County south of Willow Street we passed this white horse which came out to greet us right along the road separated only by a thin strand of electric fence. I think he wondered what we were doing taking a picture!

Amish farm in Lancaster PA 11/18/10
Although we regularly drive through the rich farmlands of Lancaster County we never grow weary of the scenery we view! Yesterday we passed this large farm near Intercourse, PA. This view does not really capture the scene as well as this larger version, let alone what we really saw.  I enjoy making observations such as the clothes hung out to dry on the long line near the farmhouse, the drying shocks of corn and the fruit trees in the foreground and the cell tower behind the barn, which probably provides a nice source of supplemental income to the farm! But my favorite part of the photo is the windmill.

Duct tape baseball at Amish school 11/18/10
We pass many Amish one room schoolhouses and saw this object lying in the road.  Does anyone recognize what it is? See below for answer. Hint: Amish schools have a playground and it usually includes a baseball field.

Brooksyne and Ester Pilgrim presentation 2010
We passed this big hollowed out tree ring in southern Lebanon County on a very windy afternoon this week.
I asked Brooksyne to step inside so viewers could get a sense of the large dimensions of this once healthy tree. It makes you wonder how big this tree must have been when it was living!

See here for a description of an Amish wedding we attended several years ago. (The actual description is in a footnote.)

Today's mystery photo is a makeshift baseball which was made by covering a round wad of cloth with duct tape! Now, how's that for resourcefulness!  It would sure be softer on the hands that aren't protected by a mitt as well.

Please Note: We did not post a new daily encouragement message yesterday (Thursday, November 18, 2010) due to an early morning meeting followed by a busy schedule of making chaplain visits throughout the entire day.

Yesterday's USA Today article titled "We're Just Not That Into Marriage." This study indicates that 39% feel marriage is becoming obsolete.

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.)

Normally we place links to suggested music that relates to the message but we were unable to recall any songs related to honoring marriage apart from wedding songs. Perhaps some of our readers may have some suggestions?

Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these ideas to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.
(We will post these resources through Thanksgiving.)

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table (printable webpage) The Thanksgiving celebration includes family coming together along with the turkey and trimmings. Often there's a lot of food with little meaningful conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" or the questionnaire we've provided in this link
"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf). We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: (written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago.) Webpage  For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading:
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

The Pilgrims Come to the New WorldWebpage  

A Day of Rest in Plimouth Colony: This is a summary of a chapter in the lives of the pilgrims that Brooksyne uses to teach about their Sunday worship.  (pdf)  Note: Although we spell it Plymouth today the old spelling was Plimouth.

CD label for "Stories of Great Hymns""Hymns of Hope" Brooksyne has compiled eleven hymns that deal with the recurring theme of loss and ongoing trial and titled it "Hymns of Hope" based on Romans 12:12,  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." Amber Martin plays the hymns on the keyboard and Lauren Gingrich accompanies her on six of the hymns with the viola. Tracks 12-22 play each hymn softly in the background while Brooksyne shares a personal devotional thought, the biographical setting of the hymn text, and an intercessory prayer. We recorded this in the very modest and limited computerized recording studio of Daily Encouragement so that we could make this ministry project available to all who are in need of such encouragement.  Thus we realize the audio quality is not what most are accustomed to. You can go to this site to listen to the songs. You can download one song at a time if you find this to be of special blessing or know someone whose spirit might be lifted by listening to these meditative hymns.

"ThanksLiving" Bob Southard, a friend of ours shares a weekly online sermon. Here's a pdf version of his thanksgiving sermon.

Resources used in Brooksyne's research on the Pilgrims:
Saints & Strangers  By Vision Video
Three Young Pilgrims  By Cheryl Harness / Simon & Schuster

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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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