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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Dignity Of The Farmer
A plaque with these words is near the entrance of the Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fair. I dedicate it to all farmers. Here is a larger pdf version suitable for printing.

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"The Hardworking Farmer"

"The hardworking farmer" (2 Timothy 2:6a).

Today I have two separate visits to the State College area (State College is the home of Penn State). Paul Grabill, a pastor friend of mine, passed away last week and I will be attending his "Celebration Service" and then go to the Penn State Agricultural Progress Days, held right outside of State College.

I saw a sign along a rural farm road that caught my attention and brought a chuckle. "Don't criticize the farmer with your mouth full." My word of encouragement to you today is to thank God for all who are expressing obedience to God by engaging in productive work that benefits society.  I also want to thank those of you who, in one way or another, are working hard at producing a beneficial good or providing a wholesome service. And before you judge or criticize anyone (particularly farmers) consider the contribution they are making to your life! If you consume anything edible today it is a result of some type of farming effort.  Call this to mind as you bless your food before eating.

We live in a farming area and the farm work is at a bit of a lull as far as visible busyness in the fields prior to the busy harvest season coming up. With the plenteous rains in the last several weeks farmers are optimistic about a good harvest. However, make no mistake about it, there's always work to do on a farm!

Ester and her PaPa (Brooksyne's late father)I recall from my childhood when my mom's cousin who farmed in southern Missouri would drop by to visit with his distinctive bib overalls common to so many farmers at that time. I am not sure I ever saw him wearing anything else! It's interesting that Brooksyne's dad who was a part-time farmer as well as a full time truck driver often wore them (as seen in photo with Ester). 

In today's portion of Scripture Paul uses three vocations to illustrate the need for diligence in Christian service; the soldier, athlete and farmer.

The Bible uses timeless illustrations that span all times and cultures. After all, we still have soldiers, athletes and farmers and virtually anywhere the Bible is read we can identify with these vocations, although living in the midst of a farming area makes the third example particularly relevant to me.

In regard to the farmer we have this descriptive adjective, "hardworking". 
I drive by farms where the Amish still work the fields with horse teams. We have a neighbor who farms the old-fashioned way and it's a very interesting sight. I also drive by many farms using the latest in equipment. One thing is for sure; regardless of the variety or sophistication of the equipment, farmers work very hard!

Today let us all give thanks to God for the farmer. In our home we tend to be specific when we give thanks for our food considering not only God's blessing but the specific labor and laborers that went into getting that food on our table. We encourage our readers to do the same and consider that it most certainly involved some hard work!

We also give thanks for those who work the fields of souls such as Paul Grabill.
In a spiritual sense Paul was a hardworking farmer working the fields of souls. The Bible uses many agricultural illustrations to describe the Christian life and ministry such as plowing, sowing, watering and reaping. Today consider those who Paul was describing in 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 "Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the diligent farmers who work the soil, plant the seeds, and then await the germination and growth of the seeds planted.  It's all a work of faith since there is so much out of their control; too much rain or lack thereof, the proper growing temperatures, disease and harmful insects can make or break the harvest.  So we thank you for those who year after year toil in the fields to provide healthy, vibrant and delicious foods to fill our plates. It's generally a family effort so we pray Your blessings upon the entire family as they work together to make a very productive contribution to our well being. We also give thanks for our spiritual leaders who contribute to our spiritual well-being, who work hard at feeding our souls.  They, too, deal with troubling elements out of their control following their seed planting, so faith and persistence are key tools in the results of their labor and future harvest.  Bless them, their families, and give them fruit for their labor, we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Note: Due to scheduling (out all day today and then an early start tomorrow) we do not expect to post a daily encouragement message for Thursday, 8/18/11.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Field Of Souls"  Video  Verne Phifer

Here is a video tribute to Paul Grabill.  Although Paul and I never served in the same area as pastors we had several occasions to have fellowship especially in the earlier years of our ministry. Most notably when we just happened to meet in the Pittsburgh airport on separate connecting flights about twenty years ago and then sat together on a flight to Kansas City. For the last twenty years he has been lead pastor at the State College Assembly of God where we visited several years ago. I suppose Paul's death after a long battle with cancer is especially poignant since we are the same age and his wedding anniversary is also 1976. I also expect to visit with mutual friends at the service today. Paul had a significant influence on the State College area and I am sure there are readers who knew him.

Following the service I will be going to the Penn State University's Ag Progress Days  As most readers know I enjoy agriculture and Curt, a friend of mine, who is an ag equipment salesman told me this is quite a deal! Last Saturday I went to a local expo of antique equipment. This expo will feature the modern.

Steincross cousins with Uncle Gentry (in the mid-sixties)
Here's a photo of my Uncle Gentry, who farmed in southern Missouri, playing with his nieces and nephews. One year we had some snow in southern Missouri at Christmas so Uncle Gentry took some of the kids out for a makeshift sled ride on his tractor pulling what appears to be a wood pallet. That's my cousin Steve driving the tractor with the huge smile and I'm in the photo standing on the back of the pallet. I think that's my sister Genelle sitting on the pallet. Uncle Gentry doesn't look like he's in a very safe place!
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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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