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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 Pennsylvania Farm Show cow
2012 Pennsylvania Farm Show cow

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"The Blessing Of Home"

"We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it" (2 Corinthians 5:7-9).

PA Farm Show mushroom soupYesterday Brooksyne and I went to the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which is similar to a State Fair in other states, but for some reason here in Pennsylvania it’s held indoors in the middle of winter! However it was a beautiful day yesterday with mild temperatures.

This is a huge event with 25 acres under roof. We typically begin in the food court area where we predictably share a bowl of hot mushroom soup which is always outstanding! BTW, this food court is not like a mall food court but rather is operated by the various growing associations in Pennsylvania such as the Mushroom growers as a means of fundraising.

The numerous exhibits brought to mind a display we saw at a Farm Show several years ago hosted by Bill Arnold, a dairy farmer. It also serves as a good illustration for a message prompted by a greater than usual number of responses to yesterday's message on persevering love.

One reader wrote: "Your message on Jan. 10, 2012 really hit home for me. My parents celebrated 65 years of marriage on Dec. 11, 2011. They were faithful to each other and to God. There are 5 living children and 1 deceased, and lots of rough road along the way. We are all very sad today, as our Dad went to be with the Lord on Jan. 7, 2012. We are happy he is with the Lord. His life was one of faithfulness to his family and to God."

Photo of Quecreek mine rescue capsuleNow let me take you back to Bill Arnold’s story.  He owns a dairy farm located directly over the Quecreek Mine, where nine coal miners were rescued in 2002. He was very involved in the rescue operation and shared some interesting details. The display had maps and diagrams that helped me to understand deep mining better as well as the specific rescue.

The miners were waiting for rescue in an area of the mine they had cordoned off. They heard the drilling and a couple of them went to examine the operation and were able to communicate with the rescuers on the surface. A large shaft had been drilled and a special rescue capsule was being lowered to bring the miners out.

When the two returned to the rest of miners one shouted, "Who wants to go home?" No persuasion was needed as all the miners jumped up and ran to the rescue area. Since this was a very publicized event, some of you will recall seeing on television the rescue capsule. One by one, with great elation, they were brought out of the mine. That was sure a day of celebration for miners, their families, their rescue workers and the rest of us who were hoping and praying!

“Who wants to go home?” is a question we might ask following a long trip, a shopping expedition, or a stay at the hospital. It generally conveys a message of comfort, warmth and safety where we envision just being ourselves, relaxing and shutting out the busyness of the world.

I love my home. Sure I enjoy my rural location and the house I live in, but primarily it's the family God has given me that brings warmth and acceptance to my home. That's surely what those miners were longing for as well. I can only imagine how their excitement grew as they thought about seeing and hugging their wives and children.

But there's another home that we who love the Lord should all have a deep longing for. Paul refers to it in our daily text as his preference: “To be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

He's including other believers in his statement (notice the personal pronoun "we"). He says we are both confident we will be and indeed would prefer to be at home with the Lord. He's contrasting this with our present physical life where "we are at home in the body" (v. 9).

Erwin Lutzer writes concerning our arrival home with the Lord, "At death we cross from one territory to another, but we'll have no trouble with visas. Our representative is already there, preparing for our arrival. As citizens of heaven, our entrance is incontestable."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we’re abundantly grateful for our home dwellings here on earth where we find pleasure, companionship, comfort, rest and food. If we’re not intentional, we will give more time and affection to our temporal home than our future eternal home. Perhaps it's because we're living in the here and now and the future seems so distant and unfamiliar. Help us not to fear the future nor foolishly think it will not come, but to embrace it so that we are prepared when that moment comes. May our heart's yearning, our primary focus, and our physical labors also have heavenly goals each day as we seek to live for You daily.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

A few more photos of our visit to the Pennsylvania farm show

2012 Farm Show butter sculpure
1,000 pounds of real Land of Lakes butter!

2012 Farm Show mushroom bunny
Can you tell what this bunny is made of? (see below)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Homesick"  Video  MercyMe  A wonderful message!

"Finally Home"
 Video  MercyMe

"I Can Only Imagine"  Video  MercyMe

"If You Could See Me Now"  Video  Truth  This is the video tribute I prepared for my Mom who went home to be with the Lord in 2005. It is the song along with photos of my Mom and family.

Let us share a few more of the responses we received yesterday about persevering love:

"Your message reminded me and encouraged me to send a note.  Diane and I were married on her birthday so we have that double.  Sept. 13th, 1959 - we are not superstitious, but have learned to trust God one day at a time and have passed our 52nd anniversary."

"Me & my husband Andy will celebrate our 59th Wedding Anniverary on Jan. 13th 2012. I praise the Lord for bringing us this far, He has helped us thru a lot of trials."

"Hi, thought I would respond to your article about long marriages. We were married May 26th, 1943, while I was in the navy. We have 5 children, 7 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great. We are still very much in love and couldn't imagine it any other way.

Never knowing what will prompt a response two readers also had an association with Dwight D. Eisenhower:

A local pastor friend shares: Former President Ike was my 3rd. cousin.  We grew up and lived just a few miles from his grandparents farm in Elizabethville, PA. Some of his relatives are buried in my home church the Free Grace BIC Cemetery 3 miles East of Millersburg. The Free Grace Church was my home church. As a youth my grandfather James H. Keefer (Ike's 2nd cousin) talked about going down to the White House and visiting.  I regret that we never tried. Ike's family moved away from our area in Lykens Valley to Abilene, Kansas before he was born. So that is where he grew up. There was an old time minister Pastor Ray Witter (who was 1st cousin of Ike and 2nd cousin to my grandfather) who went swimming and fishing together as boys and then later was pictured in the White house visiting together.  Pastor Ray's picture was in "Life Magazine" back in the 60's I think.  God bless your ministry.  Pastor John

Another pastor friend from Maine had this memory: I too can make the claim that Eisenhower was President when I was born (slightly earlier than Steve).  I was privileged to meet him about 12 or 13 years later when my dad took us out to D.C. Stadium (as it was then known - prior to it becoming RFK Stadium) to see the American League Senators play (usually an evening of comic relief).  We were sitting about 3/4 of the way down the third base line about 15 rows off the field - a great place to catch the foul balls. It was somewhat crowded as the game began, but as the Senators fell quickly behind the crowd thinned out and my mother noticed that Eisenhower was sitting about 7 rows below us and little towards home plate, surrounded by his Secret Service Contingent. About that time whoever was at the plate popped up a foul ball that came towards us and Eisenhower stood along with the rest of us seeking to catch the ball.  I ran over towards the ball and was about a row away when Eisenhower actually did catch the ball. I of course expressed disappointment in not getting it and congratulated the former President on his catch. We talked for a few seconds and I returned to my seat (somewhat even more disappointed that he had not given me the ball with an autograph). I discovered a few years later when Eisenhower was again at the stadium for a ball game that that had been his first ever foul ball catch - so I couldn't any further begrudge the fact that he hadn't given it to me. No matter how famous a person may be the reality is that they too are human and very real just like you and I.  The most effective famous ones are the one's who remember this - as Eisenhower did.

Bunny Photo:  The bunny is made with mushrooms!

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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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