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April 23, 2012

Geese at Eaton Farms tree farm 4/20/12
Geese meandering around Eaton Farms

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"The Creation Of The Tree"

"Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day" (Genesis 1:11-13).

Don and Kathy Eaton
Friday afternoon we visited a large tree and topiary farm about 50 miles northeast of us in Berks County PA where we visited with Don and Kathy Eaton. Eaton Farms is a family run business that grows trees and plants for the wholesale market. The farm covers some 200 rolling acres where one can view tens of thousands of growing trees and other plants in various stages of development. They are very busy shipping now but much of the year their work involves planting and tending to the health and vitality of the trees.

They have three planting methods;
from seeds, graftings and rooted cuttings. Unlike plant nurseries that can grow many species of flowers or plants in a matter of weeks or months, most trees have a five to six year growing period before they're mature enough to ship. Such a business requires a great deal of endurance, patience, and labor amended with a wheelbarrow of hope thoroughly mixed into the other virtues prior to getting a return on their investment!

Regular readers in this series know that we both like trees which have the interesting distinction of being referenced all through the Bible including the very first (Genesis 1) and very last (Revelation 22) chapter.

Today let's go back to the beginning at the third day of creation to read the first reference to trees. On this day God commanded, "
Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds."

Note especially the phrase, "Trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it." This reveals that at Creation the trees were created in a mature form.

Weber front lawn 11/9/11We have two large oak trees in our front yard that were planted as small trees in the eighties when our house was built on former farmland. We have seen the steady growth of the oaks since we moved here in 2002. Over the last several years these trees began to produce acorns (seeds). This is consistent with what I've read that oaks generally produce fruit (acorns) when they are 20-25 years old. They are now mature trees.

I've been considering this thought: if I cut a mature tree down I can see the years of growth in the rings on the cut surface of the trunk. That makes me wonder... if I was present at the time of creation and cut down a mature tree would I have seen these rings? Of course no one can prove this one way or another, but I believe
that it, being a "normal" tree, would have had these rings since it was created as a mature tree.

Two thoughts here: You are reading this and I am assuming that you accept the Bible as the true Word of God:

1) Many of you, like us, accept the account of Creation according to Genesis 1. But those who hold this view are increasingly mocked and ridiculed. We want to give you something to think about today as you consider the trees around you, something virtually all of us will see at some point today, which also helps to build our faith.

2) However there are those who claim faith in God but feel they must concede to the secularist viewpoint who regard the Creation account as merely a myth, due to what is presented as overwhelming, even incontrovertible
evidence for an evolutionary explanation of origins.

Think about the tree and other details of Creation which God created as mature. For instance, in regard to human creation, He created a fully developed, mature man and woman!

Since we believe in a supernatural, miracle working God we, by faith and reason, choose to examine the evidence including the creation of trees on the third day. Along with many other evidences, both in Scripture and observed in science, we affirm our faith in the Creation account of the Bible! Won't you join us?

e encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Father, we are so very grateful for the signs of life, color, beauty, shape and functionality that are evident in the plants and vegetation all around us; a result of Your creative handwork on the third day of creation. Though You are Creator, You have made us stewards and caretakers of that which You created. What a joy it is to plant a seed or seedling in the ground and watch as  You also provide the oxygen, rain, and sunshine to aid its health and growth.  We affirm once again in our writings and prayer that You are the divine Creator of the universe and all things are in submission to Your creative power and according to Your will.  In the name of Jesus we pray these things.  Amen.

Regarding making concessions: About ten years ago I was at a training conference in Missouri and heard a denominationally sponsored seminar where the presenter essentially mocked the traditional Biblical view of Creation in a rather sarcastic and demeaning tone.  The college professor told us that that he delighted in refuting any students in his college classroom who held the traditional viewpoint of creation as he strived to convince them otherwise.

Sadly since that time the official position on Creation in this denomination has been revised from a 1977 statement which strongly affirmed the Biblical account to a watered down, concessionary statement that is much more accommodating to the secularists.
(Interestingly 1977 was the year I graduated from Bible College where I was taught the traditional Creation viewpoint.)  Some might say we've come a long way, but I sure don't believe it to be the right way!!!

Coincidentally, in my observation these concessions are increasing on this subject and other matters of faith, doctrine, and morality all across the church landscape, regardless of denomination. The problem is this: once you start conceding, where do you stop and at what point is it an altogether different belief system than you started with?

Many of us have heard a cute little quiz, "Which came first; the chicken or the egg?" Scripturally the answer is the chicken at the time of Creation. Of course every chicken we see now began as an egg.

Note: This week we intend to write a message each day about lessons from the tree.

Eaton Farm

Eaton Farms, near Reading PA
Don, knowing of our interest in his farm, loaned us a golf cart to tour the entire operation. It was beautiful to see the trees in their various stages of development. This is but one of many similar views and due to the size of the farm it's impossible to see all at once except this satellite view which gives some idea of the farm's size. Don is a committed follower of Christ with this Scripture on his company website:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23).

Keith Rodrigues, farm chaplain at Eaton Farms
Brooksyne and I spent some time visiting with Keith Rodrigues, who serves as the farm chaplain at Eaton Farms. He has an interesting testimony, saved at 38 years of age while in the Berks County Prison. We hope to share his story sometime on Daily Encouragement. He also has a prison ministry at the same prison where he was an inmate for a number of years. He is also active in his local church.

Keith's involvement in prison ministry brings to mind several friends who work in prison ministry that I would like to commend today:

Yesterday we visited a church we had served in an interim role six years  ago in Spring Grove PA. Following the service we joined some friends for lunch including Scott Reynold who has served for many years at the York County Prison. In fact I joined Scott for a service at the prison once and told the story here.

In early May we expect a visit from Mike and Kathy Matangelo who serve in a prison ministry in North Carolina. Later in May Rick Masciantonio who, for nearly 20 years, has taught a weekly Bible Study in a prison in Massachusetts will be visiting our home!

My chaplain supervisor, Al Worthley, who has been a great source of encouragement to our ministry, is a veteran chaplain with the federal prison system.

Remembering these worthy chaplains gives me opportunity to give honor  to Chuck Colson who served 35 years in prison ministry since his release from prison.  He died this past Saturday at 80 years of age from complications related to his brain injury and the recovery that followed his surgery.  As he was released from prison 35 years ago he told the other inmates he would not forget them.  That turned out to be an understatement since he not only reached out to them after his release, but he reached thousands of other inmates through his prison fellowship ministries, along with hundreds of thousands outside the prison walls. I have long been blessed by Chuck's uncompromising ministry; his writings, his radio messages and other appearances where he preached the Word. He finished the race well. Here's a powerful video tribute from his ministry.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Creation Calls"  Video  Brian Doerksen  Beautiful song set to outstanding photos and videos.

We shared a message about a visit to Eaton Farms last summer with some additional photos and video!

Eaton Farms  
Here's a video about the farm.

Our association with Don is due to our relationship with
"Convene", an association of business owners who seek to run their businesses in a Christ-like manner. Ron Hoover is a local leader in this ministry and shares a video here. Ron has been a tremendous source of encouragement and support to our ministry!

Last week our series was on lessons from life's marathon.
Monday: "Running In The Path Of His Commands"
Tuesday: "The Start of Life's Marathon"
Wednesday: "The Disciplines of Life's Marathon"
Thursday: "The Heartbreak Hills
of Life's Marathon"
Friday: "The Finish of Life's Marathon"

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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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