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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Canada Geese family on Donegal Creek 5/3/11
Canada Geese family on Donegal Creek

I passed this "feathered family" on my walk early this morning along Donegal Springs Creek.

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan: We began a 40 day New Testament reading plan on April 3. If you want to participate and have not been following the reading schedule up to this point we suggest starting with today's reading and reading previous portions after this reading period ends. Here's the entire 40 day scheduleThe links below will open to the selection to be read along with a built-in listening device. 
  • Today's reading (May 3): Philippians 2 - 1 Thessalonians 2 beginning here.
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"Considering Others"

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Schenks Mill Covered Bridge, Lancaster County, PA
Our travels take us through some beautiful and interesting areas which we often share in our photos. We drive through covered bridges, such as the Schenk's Mill bridge seen above, pass colorful flower stands and observe the many interesting distinctives of the Amish culture. The other day we passed an Amish one room schoolhouse with a large tour bus parked beside it.  We were observing the senior tourists who were walking out of the school heading back to the bus, and then we noticed the children that were lined up along the windows.  They were waving to their visitors, likely pleased to have some special guests that day!
Covered bridges are usually one lane (although last year we went through one in Indiana that was two lanes entering into a large state park). Once I approached a covered bridge here in Lancaster County and just as I was preparing to enter another car approached from the opposite side.  With no means to communicate, we both backed up to yield and waited for the other to proceed. Finally I passed through as it was evident that the other driver was insisting on being the more considerate one! I rolled down my window as I passed, waved and mouthed "Thank You" as he smiled and responded, "You're welcome". It occurred to me that this is a small microcosm of what our attitudes should be toward one another.

However there is plenty of inconsideration to report as well. In my illustration files is a front page story from the Lancaster New Era several years ago about a problem with noise in the city. It began: A Lancaster police officer was on patrol one hot April day when he approached a Jeep Grand Cherokee. He reported: "We could hear the bass a block away. It wasn't hard to find the vehicle. But no one was in the car. So we were going to take the keys." As they were doing so a man in his 20's walked out of a barbershop across the intersection and told the officers, "I was listening to my music while I got my hair cut."  He, along with everyone else, like it or not!

The golden rule as stated by our Lord is "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31).  Consideration is the practice of the golden rule in the small details of life; beginning in the home and extending to all relationships. What if the billions of personal interactions that take place all over the globe today were truly characterized by this rule? Well, that would certainly bring about world peace but in reality that just isn't going to happen until the return of the Prince of Peace.

I like the way Oswald Chambers describes the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as we mature in the faith:  "We don't deliberately set the statements of Jesus before us as our standards, but when His Spirit is having His way with us, we live acording to His standard without even realizing it.  The nature of God in us is discerned when we have been through it and it is in our past."

By God's transforming grace you and I can do something in our little corner of the world. Today in your speech, in your body language, and in your actions keep this attitude foremost in your heart: "In humility consider others better than yourselves."  When you do so, the Golden Rule will play itself out in your actions without your even giving conscious thought to it. 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, in our human nature we want the best seat, the first choice, the biggest piece, to be first in line, and on and on it goes.  The desire to serve self before serving others is an ongoing battle.  Thank you for those who walk in humility, giving preference to others, rather than choosing to please themselves first.  They serve as human examples of the attitude Jesus exemplified when He, being in Your very nature did not consider equality with You something to hold onto.  Instead Jesus took on the very nature of a servant and became God in the flesh.  In His human role He showed us the greatest example of humility as He related to people from day to day and ultimately when He laid down His life for us. We're thankful for Jesus and His greatest act of humility.  It is in His name that we pray. Amen.

(See Philippians 2:5-8 for Scripture basis of prayer)

For Further Thought:  I recall a story a pastor friend told which relates to today's topic. It took place in Germany during the Cold War.  East Berlin was Communist controlled and West Berlin was a free country.  One day some people in East Berlin took a truckload of garbage and dumped it on the West Berlin side.  The people of West Berlin could have done the same thing. But instead they took a truckload of canned goods, bread, and milk . . . and neatly stacked it on the East Berlin side.  On top of this stack they placed the sign: "EACH GIVES WHAT HE HAS."  (Wow, was that a subtle yet powerful message!)

Brooksyne's Recollection: Today's message takes me back to a time about 25 years ago when I was in a terrible hurry at the "Bi-Lo" supermarket in St. Marys, PA.  I needed to pick up only a couple of items for a Christmas dinner on a Wednesday evening so I thought I could make a quick stop on the way.  I was in charge so I needed to arrive before others got there.

I parked in the closest parking spot and ran into the store.  I quickly got a cart and hurriedly steered my way through the aisles (when I use the word, "steered" it's the kind of steering that leads even the biggest man to scurry out of my path - they see the large cart, my intense look and rapid footwork).  I was making good time until I got into a traffic jam with shoppers in an aisle that blocked me both ways, kind of like a freeway when you can't turn your car around and you can't inch forward either.  It was so slow I felt like I was crawling.  My anxiety grew and my frustration worsened making the situation far worse than it really was. Seconds seemed like minutes.  I could see ahead that it was two "old women" and I was only about 30 years old at the time, so I had no time for being thoughtful about the aging situation. 

FINALLY, I was able to pass these very slow shoppers and decided to look back to figure out why they were so terribly slow. You can imagine how utterly humiliated I was when I realized that the one woman holding onto the shopping cart was blind.  The other lady was guiding the cart as she loaded items for the blind woman.  It is an experience that I will never forget in feeling that my time was more important than anyone else shopping in the store.

Brown County Indiana Covered Bridge

Two-lane covered bridge in Brown County, Indiana
This is the only two-lane covered bridge I've ever seen!
It is at the entrance to Brown County State Park in southern Indiana.

Amish one room schoolhouseIn the message we shared about passing an Amish school with a tourist bus. The Amish are generally quite reticent opening their schools to outsiders, especially tourists. However we found out that they do on occasion allow outsiders such as a tour bus! Last Spring we were invited to an authentic Amish School where the children of some friends of ours attend and we served them lunch. It was quite an experience and we tell the story here.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Make Me A Servant"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"We Lift Our Hands"
 Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

"Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace"  Video  Daniel O'Donnell

"Make Me A Blessing"  Video  Sofia Tsatalbasidis (A young girl with a gifted voice!)

"Make Me A Blessing Today"  Video  "Ole Friends"

Finally today:

Some humor from a blog called "The Sacred Sandwich" (used by permission)
Dog church from the Sacred Sandwich (used by permission)
The comments are as funny as the cartoon!

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

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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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