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Friday, August 19, 2011

Produce wagon in Lancaster County PA 8/18/11
Produce Stand on Reidenbach Road north of New Holland, PA
Yesterday we passed this stand and Brooksyne is pointing out the huge cantaloupes, but the picture fails to really show the true size. The mammoth cantaloupe she has her hand on is the size of a watermelon. We are already enjoying these!

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Note: Although today's message is not particularly longer than usual we do have far more photos and supplemental materials than normal. Requests for peach recipes that were featured in Tuesday's message photos from Brooksyne are included today (scroll way down).

"Serving God's Purpose"

"When David had served God's purpose in his own generation he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed" (Acts 13:36).

There are a number of reasons we might attend services for someone who has died. We may desire to show respect for the deceased and lend our support for those left behind. Truth be told there are times we feel obliged to attend. However we also attend such services for our own benefit since they remind us of our own physical mortality and the events in life that really do matter. However I also find that services like this can be intensely edifying.

Paul GrabillWednesday I attended a celebration service (as they tend to call funeral services these days) for Paul Grabill, a minister friend who died after a long battle with cancer. As mentioned in a footnote in Wednesday's message Paul was my age, married his wife Arline the same year Brooksyne and I were married (1976), and entered into vocational ministry so that helps me relate all the more to his earthly journey up to the point of his illness and most recently his death.

The service was indeed very edifying. A powerful video presentation included a lifetime of his photos set to the inspiring song, "You Hold Me Now" (see below for a YouTube video link to this song).

His two sons and daughter-in-law shared some moving reflections such as the personal blessing and laying on of hands that he placed on each one of them just prior to his death. Though very weak in body, he was powerful in spirit to the very end.

Perhaps the most unusual part of the service was hearing Paul's recorded voice as he shared the simple gospel message and then earnestly extended an appeal to accept Christ. I found it very tastefully done and moving. (See Hebrews 11:4)

But for me the most teachable and inspiring moment was at the very end of the service when Steve Tourville, the District Superintendent, had a few closing thoughts. He asked a question that really reminded me of the impact we can have on others. Now this was in a very large church with a full house of over a thousand in attendance. (Although I've never been very good at estimating crowd size there were a lot of people.)

Steve asked all the attendees, "Those of you who have received a personal call, an email, a text, or a note of encouragement from Paul please raise your hands." All throughout the auditorium hands were raised. I also recalled my conversations with Paul and the spirit of encouragement that he regularly conveyed.

Our life is a part of the overall fulfillment of God's purpose. Consider the daily text. In the historical books we have a lot of information on David. In fact perhaps apart from Moses, we have more biographical information on David than any other Old Testament personality. But the apostle Paul, preaching in a Jewish synagogue in Pisidian Antioch, makes a simple statement concerning David's life, "When David had served God's purpose in his own generation."

God places us all on this earth for a season, a period of time known as our "own generation.”  The amount of time we have varies; some die young, others, like Paul, in their middle ages and yet others at a "ripe old age" (one of the most colorful descriptions of age in the Scriptures! (See Genesis 25:8.) But like David, all of us (except the final generation) will eventually fall asleep (die) and our physical bodies will decay though our spirits will soar.

We can live our life for self or in consecration to God's purpose.  Recall the old saying, “Only one life will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last.”

Today, let us, like David and like Paul Grabill, seek to serve God’s purpose in our generation! How are you impacting others for Christ and eternity?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we're grateful for those throughout history who chose to be men and women of faith, whose hearts were fashioned in Your image, and who served Your purpose in their generation. We also want to serve Your purpose in our generation.  Help us to stay steadfast and strong as we run this race set before us.  Thankfully, in this race, we're not in competition to be the only prizewinner. Instead we take hold of the hands of those who run with us and invite those on the sidelines to join us.  We want to cross the finish line together so that we will all receive the grand prize of life eternal with You.  May we never give up! Amen.

Note: Due to scheduling (out all day Wednesday and then a very early start on Thursday) we did not post a message yesterday.

Following the Celebration Service I walked through the grounds of the Penn State AG Progress Days near State College. The AG Progress event is spread over acres and acres of farm fields with many displays and live field demonstrations with many thousands of attendees. I did manage to make contact with several friends, including my neighbor Leon Rutt.

Mike Martin
Mike Martin works with Lancaster Farming. Mike is also a chaplain to local motorcycle clubs, seeking to impact others for Christ.

Curt Haldeman
Curt Haldeman is a salesman for an AG equipment company and would be very pleased to sell you this combine!

Penn State AG progress days interview
This salesman is being interviewed by Lancaster Farming. All throughout the area equipment salesman were answering questions, demonstrating equipment and seeking to make the sale. In the background is a gigantic manure spreader. Mike Martin took this photo for Lancaster Farming and shared that the company slogan is, "Your Manure is our bread and butter."  Mike also told me that in the course of conversation with this man he learned that he was also a Daily Encouragement Net reader. We have never met but are always pleased to hear of folks reading our materials!

Penn State AG progress days live field demonstration
The Progress Days are held on what seems to be thousands of acres of land owned by Penn State University in a beautiful valley southwest of State College, Pennsylvania. They had various fields used for demonstrating the equipment, in this case hay baling.

Restored green wagon at the Penn State AG progress days
"Progress" was also demonstrated by old equipment such as this restored wagon!

Wagon Team at Penn State AG progress days (Photo by Mike Martin)
Farmers like to have fun too!

Returning home I drove over two mountain ridges into the beautiful
Kishacoquillas Valley in central Pennsylvania. In my view it's one of the most picturesque parts of our state. The valley is home to a variety of Plain peoples, including the "Nebraska Amish", one of the strictest sects within the Amish culture.

Nebraska Amish buggy
A buggy driven by the Nebraska Amish. Note the white top and open front.

Nebraska Amish buggy
Apparently they don't allow anything modern like the battery powered lights found on the more "liberal" Amish buggies here in Lancaster County. If they are out at night they use the hanging kerosene lanterns. I am currently reading a book titled "Growing Up Amish" by Ira Wagler, who is now non-Amish and a businessman here in Lancaster County. He makes an interesting point, "It's a strange but indisputable fact. Even among the Amish, other Amish seem odd." Truth be told we are all odd to someone!

Old fashioned milk cans in the Big Valley
I passed a dairy where they still use the old fashioned milk cans.

Scripture witness signs in the Big Valley
All through the valley these large billboards are seen with a variety of Scripture texts.
I was inspired as I drove down the road!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"You Hold Me Now"  Video  This was the song used in the background during the video tribute for Paul. This was a very moving part of the service.

"When It's All Been Said And Done"  Video  Don Moen

I referred above to this book I am reading. Here's some detail and ordering info.

Growing Up Amish: A MemoirGrowing Up Amish: A Memoir  By Ira Wagler / Tyndale House

One fateful starless night, 17-year-old Ira Wagler got up at 2 am, left a scribbled note under his pillow, packed all of his earthly belongings into in a little black duffel bag, and walked away from his home in the Amish settlement of Bloomfield, Iowa. Now, in this heartwarming memoir, Ira paints a vivid portrait of Amish life - from his childhood days on the family farm, his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his ultimate decision to leave the Amish Church for good at age 26.

Growing Up Amish is the true story of one man's quest to discover who he is and where he belongs. Readers will laugh, cry, and be inspired by this charming yet poignant coming of age story set amidst the backdrop of one of the most enigmatic cultures in America today - the Old Order Amish.  

Ira Wagler also blogs here.

Although over for this year here's info about the Penn State University's Ag Progress Days
 Mike Martin, who works with Lancaster Farming has posted many AG Progress Days photos here.

The Kishacoquillas Valley (also known as Big Valley) Driving through this valley you get a sense of stepping back in time. Here's one of my favorite buggy photos taken several years ago when I drove through the Valley. In this case a yellow buggy distinguishing the Beiler Amish. Last year when I transported a group of local Amish to a settlement in New York where there were also Nebraska Amish, our local Amish friends were fascinated by the differences in lifestyle. See this encouragement message (scroll down for the footnote) for some reflections on this.

Beiler Amish buggy (yellow)

Recipes from Tuesday's photos:

Peach jam and marmalade

Edna’s Peach Orange Marmalade
12 large peaches, peel & pits removed
2 seedless oranges, peel included
Sugar (see directions)

Coarse Grind peaches with processor
or chop by hand. Finely grind unpeeled oranges with processor.
Combine oranges and peaches. Measure sugar to
equal same amount as fruit. Bring fruit and sugar combination
to boil in heavy sauce pan. Gently boil about 25 minutes,
till syrup is thickened, stirring often.
Pour in hot jars, apply lids, and boil in water bath 10 minutes.
The jam will thicken upon standing. Wait one month to open jars.
Makes about 11 cups of jam. (Delicious!)

Peach pie

Frozen Peach Pies (about nine 9” pies depending on depth of pie)
24 Cups peaches, peeled & sliced (about 8 slices per lg. peach)
7 Cups sugar
1/3 C. Clear Jel Cook* (found in bulk food stores)
½ C. minute tapioca
10 dashes nutmeg  
Cinnamon to taste (as desired)

Stir dry ingredients together and then combine with sliced peaches. Using aluminum
foil (quick release) carefully make a lining over the top of the crust of the pie.
Pour the peach pie filling on top of the foil. Fold excess foil over the pie filling,
Freezer bag it and freeze. When preparing to bake the pie,
lift the foil lined peach pie filling from the prepared
crust. Remove the foil and return the pie filling to the crust. Add a top crust
or the pie topping recipe below. Bake on lowest oven rack for 20 minutes @ 450.
Then middle rack @ 350 for 30 minutes or until filling bubbles.

*Clear gel may be substituted with corn starch, though clear gel gives a nicer texture.
(Look up other recipes online – I noticed Paula Deen has one.)

Nutty Pie Topping
1 ¾ C. Flour
1 ¾ C. Oats (any kind)
1 1/3 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 C. coconut (optional for others, essential for me)
2 C. broken pecans (another option, but essential for me)
1 C. softened butter

Mix altogether. I divide these by 2 to 2 ½ C. portions,
freeze them in small freezer bags and pull one out
when I bake a pie and sprinkle on top of the pie filling.
This recipe can be used for any fruit pie filling or apple
crisp, etc.

(Those who eat my desserts know that I regularly
use coconut and pecans whenever possible which makes
them deliciously tasty to me.)

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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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