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Friday, February 17, 2012

Plastic covered cart near New Holland, PA
This old order Mennonite man devised a creative way to use his open cart in colder weather. He constructed a wooden frame and covered it with clear plastic. I visited with him a few minutes behind the McDonalds in New Holland, PA and he seemed pleased at my interest. As a courtesy to locals the McDonalds provides a hitching post for the horses. However he walked over to eat at the Wendy's next door (which does not provide a hitching post!!!)

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"A Good Testimony"

"Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:7).

Today is an interesting day for remembrances in our home. It happens to be the date of my Dad’s birthday and the date when Brooksyne’s dad died, so we each want to share a brief testimony honoring our earthly fathers.

Photo of Dad and Ester
Stephen: My dad, Eugene Clark, was born on February 17, 1919, the third of eight children. He served in World War Two and then married my mother and had four children, passing away in 1998 at 79 years of age. I am blessed that my Dad had a good testimony. He ran a small plumbing, heating and air conditioning business in the Belton, Missouri area in the sixties. The year before my mom died in 2005 she received a letter from a business owner in Belton commending Dad for his integrity and reporting that the Carrier air conditioning unit my dad installed at his business in the sixties was still operating at that time (some 30 years later)!

Brooklyn SherrellBrooksyne:  My dad, Brooklyn Nile Sherrell, had a name that was unique so it was no surprise that he and Mom would make a derivation of his name for their fourth child who happened to be a girl, Brooksyne (Brook seen'), since their much anticipated baby son, Brooklyn Nile Junior, wasn't born. (Parents plan names beforehand much easier these days due to the modern ultrasound that reveals the sex of a baby.)  My dad was one of those people often described as "the kind of man who'd take his shirt off and give it to you".  It got him into trouble with Mom who saw him taken advantage of many times.  Neighbors often asked to borrow his tractor and he would gladly loan it to them.  It would often be returned with an empty gas tank and a flat tire to boot.  Mom sure wanted to give ungrateful folks like that a piece of her mind, but Dad would always stop her.  He was generous with his possessions and his labors as well.  A very colorful and pleasant personality made him a popular co-worker with his truck driving buddies, church friends, and many years later the hospital staff that tended to his cancer ridden body for six weeks.  He joined his parents in heaven on February 17, 2000 at 66 years of age.

We are very grateful for the good testimony our parents gave for Christ. They both had some rough years in between as many do, but in the end their testimony was one of enduring love for God as they honored Him in their words and actions.
Of course, committed Christians are the very ones that are raised up to be leaders in the church. Our daily Scripture is taken from a list of characteristics that Paul says must be used to qualify the fitness of a church leader. Sadly in our day the attempt to establish a "good testimony" is often more a result of spin or illusion than real substance or true character.  The word for testimony is 'marturia', from which we get our English word 'martyr'. It is often translated witness, reputation or evidence. 

God calls us as His followers to have a good testimony that is truly a witness for Him. Our character is to reflect the standards of Christ and Scripture. The word "outsider" in the text most certainly means those outside the faith (unbelievers) or as the KJV puts it, "them which are without."

Daniel praying
An excellent Biblical example of this type of testimony is Daniel. Even though "the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs,  they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, 'We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God'" (Daniel 6:4,5).

Today, what kind of reputation do you have with the "outsider"?  Most of you work around "outsiders" every day.  Are you demonstrating a good, steady witness?  Do your fellow workers see the character of Christ in your life daily? Do your children and spouse witness the character of Christ exemplified in your life at home?

Now certainly this may include a Christian symbol at your desk, but it's so much more. Are you honest? What about your temper? Your language? Your diligence? Your promptness? Are you following through? Do you honor Christ with your lips as well as your life?  Do you speak well of your family and church?

Remember, daily, you are developing a testimony; let it be one that builds your character and honors Christ at the same time!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, Your Word indicates the way we interact with those outside the faith will have a positive or a negative influence on whether they choose to follow You.  There appears to be no neutral mode in our lives, for we do not live unto ourselves, but regularly give account for our actions and attitudes daily. Inconsistency and double standards have long been a trap Satan has set so that the world will point their accusatory finger and cry, "Hypocrite!"  Sadly, it is often a true characterization. May we, as Your disciples, be faithful in our walk and consistent in our talk as we serve You at home, in the workplace, in our churches, and in our sphere of influence.  We do not want to bring disgrace on the holy name of Jesus, but we want to honor His name as we glorify You in all we do.  It is in Jesus' holy name that we pray.  Amen.

Note: Due to a very busy day we were unable to get a Daily Encouragement message out yesterday. In several months our schedule will be more manageable as we will bring to a close our interim pastoral role in a church we've enjoyed serving the last several years.

In Wednesday's message we shared a photo of a quintessential Lancaster County farm taken along RT. 896 north of Strasburg PA and received this nice note:
"How surprised I was today when I saw the picture of the farm. Friends of ours are with us here in Florida where we live over the winter months, and that farm is owned by their family. They enjoyed seeing the farm where they lived in when they were first married 50 years ago! We also enjoyed many visits there."

We also received several comments about Brooksyne's brush with eating a stink bug on a chocolate covered strawberry. One reader shared this appetizing experience: "
Enjoyed hearing about the strawberry experience. I've had a problem with eating ice cream sandwiches; one time biting into a beetle bug and another time biting into a finger bandage that must have fallen off a worker at the ice cream factory. You would think that I would stay away from ice cream sandwiches--NOT.  But I will be real careful of strawberries from now on!"

However we do see that in some cultures the stink bug is a delicacy! See here.

Yesterday we visited a homemade mustard canning process run by two sisters-in-law. As we entered the building the smell of vinegar cooking filled the air and quickly cleared our sinuses. It reminded us of the fragrance that fills the air when canning pickles or when Brooksyne candies jalapenos (the boiling process of jalapenos brings about a pungent burning smell that will make a grown man cry!  The last time Brooksyne canned them she wore a mask but I still had to come to her rescue with a tissue to wipe her tears and  nose - a humiliating process for her, but handling jalapenos makes one's hands indisposable due to the oils from the hot peppers.)

Kelly and Shauna were delightful hosts as we observed their labors of preparing 11 batches of Betsy Lantz's hot sweet mustard.

Mustard making in Lancaster County PA
The mustard batch is being cooked and stirred by Kelly, dawned in her invisible hair netting as she is conscious of sanitation details.

Mustard making in Lancaster County PA
Shauna is filling the jars.  Brooksyne was pretty impressed with their funnel.  Next thing you know she'll be looking for a similar tool for her homemade jams and other canning ventures

Betsy Lantz's Mustard
We brought home a jar of Betty Lantz's mustard last week and the jar is nearly empty. It's great on sandwich meats and for dipping pretzels.
The mustard is sold in our region as Betsy Lantz's Mustard

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"When All Is Said And Done"  Video  Tommy Walker

"When All Is Said And Done"
 Video  Matt Redman

"When It's All Been Said And Done
 Robin Mark

(The above three are three separate songs!)

"Come Home"  Video  Travis Cottrell

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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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