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Monday, September 3, 2012

Hans Herr home in Lancaster Country PA
The Hans Herr home in Willow Street is the oldest homestead in Lancaster County and the home of the first church which became Willow Street Mennonite, which is now located just down the road.

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"Our Labor:
Cooperating With God And Others"

"Six days you shall labor and do all your work" (Exodus 20:9). "The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands" (Deuteronomy 2:7). "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Peach pieOver the last several days Brooksyne made a variety of sweet delicacies from a bushel of fresh peaches we bought at roadside stands here in Lancaster County. She canned 15 quarts of peach pie filling, a couple dozen jars of peach jam and peach marmalade. And then with the extra peaches she made a cobbler for us and a couple pies (as seen in photo) that we gave to friends yesterday. Some of the canned goods will also go into Christmas baskets.

I consider the various cooperative efforts needed in the canning and preserving process: there was the obvious cooperation between Brooksyne and me. After all, I drove to pick up the peaches and I helped her assemble the materials needed for the various processes such as canning jars, the water bath and so forth. But she labored in the kitchen over a couple days to accomplish her goal and certainly put in the majority of the intense labor required.

But there were other areas of cooperation invisible to our eyes, such as those who planted the peaches, those who tended to their growth such as pruning and spraying for insects or disease, etc., those who picked them and packed them up for resale. One source for our peaches was a friend of ours who has an orchard. Often, when we pray over our meal, we try to remember those in prayer who had a role in getting food to our table and there are many.

Now, as fine a cook as Brooksyne is, she certainly cannot make a peach! God made the peaches and all along the way there has been cooperation with humankind from the planting, growing, picking, distribution, and other steps needed to get peaches onto our dining room table. The peaches then become a tasty and colorful source of nutrition and sweet delight to our taste buds.

Today we celebrate "Labor Day" here in the USA.  Many will enjoy an outdoor setting of some sort along with a grilled hamburger, hot dog, or for some a thick, juicy steak.  I suppose "Labor Day" means different things to different people but today let us recognize labor to be a gift from God and consider the ways we can honor God in our labor.

From the time of creation God has ordained labor, commanding Adam to tend the garden and care for the animals. Labor got much harder after the fall but it has always been a part of God's plan for the human race. We sure appreciate the fourth commandment in regard to the Sabbath being the day of rest, but included also is the command to labor: "Six days you shall labor and do all your work" (Exodus 20:9).

1) Labor is a cooperative arrangement between God and humans. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are absolutely dependent upon the creative and sustaining work of God. Yet God has also ordained our cooperation in the process. Look around you today and consider this marvelous cooperation. On the one hand we recognize the hand of the Lord in all that is around us, but we also see the work of humans.

2) Labor is a cooperative arrangement between humans. "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6). Although the Apostle Paul was writing about cooperative spiritual labor in this verse it can also be applied to cooperative physical labor among humans. We see cooperation between two laborers in the work of the Lord, but also the acknowledgment that only God can make the Word to grow after it is planted in the hearts of the followers. In virtually all types of labor we are interdependent on others.

Today, we encourage you to view your labor as working in cooperation with God and others in obedience to His original design. Let's rejoice and cooperate in His divine arrangement so that God will bless us in all the work of our hands!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help us to labor wholeheartedly according to Your command. We want to bless You with a grateful attitude and bless our workplace in regard to our productivity and loyalty. We thank You for our daily provision and blessing that comes through the work of our hands. We also thank You for our employers who provide our paychecks to meet our monetary needs. We pray for those seeking employment that You will provide work but until that financial door opens we pray that You will provide through unexpected means and the generosity of others. As You bless us through the work of our hands we in turn bless You by faithfully giving back to You a generous portion to finance Your kingdom through the local church, Christian ministries, and other worthy endeavors. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Willow Street Mennonite Church
Willow Street Mennonite Church
Yesterday we had an opportunity to share our ministry with this congregation which celebrated their 300th anniversary in 2010. I'm pretty sure it is the oldest church I have ever spoken at. It is a vibrant, muti-generational church where we received a warm welcome. As we sang together I was enriched by the history but also the evidence of strong faithfulness to historic Christianity. Sadly many older churches either cease to exist or lose their Biblical foundations. As we were singing yesterday and I was considering this I had in mind how nice it would be to sing "Be Unto Your Name" and alas it was the final song in the worship set!

Willow Street Mennonite presentation 9/2/12
The Willow Street Mennonite Church is pastored by Joe Sherer, a friend of ours, who previously pastored here in Mount Joy. Even as we prepare our daily encouragement messages together and serve as a team in our chaplaincy work we enjoy making church presentations together. Later this week Brooksyne will share one of the stories she presented yesterday.

Willow Street Mennonite work display 9/2/12
As we sang a hymn the church folks were asked to bring an item related to their work and place it on tables in the front of the sanctuary. Looking at this photo can you imagine what they represent? (Speaking of peaches, the peach pie was representative of the work done at home. Pastor Joe and Mary Lou got to take this one home with them.)

Joe ShererPastor Joe Sherer has a warm, engaging style of ministry. At one point during the sermon he picked up several of the items from the tables and mused aloud as to what type of vocation they represented including a dollar bill (from a banker). He used these items in affirming the dignity of various kinds of labor. The photo shows him holding a pet tombstone (I guess that's a step-up from making one yourself by putting two sticks together in the form of a cross).

We have been blessed by Joe's ministry for many years and have occasionally used his materials (with his permission) here on Daily Encouragement Net such as here and here. Joe and his wife Mary Lou have three daughters.

Ken and Judy Leaman
Following the service we joined our friends Ken and Judy Leaman for lunch at the El Serrano, a local Peruvian Restaurant. They are longtime members of the Willow Street Church and we see Ken in the course of our chaplain service. He's an avid golfer and had an interesting golf experience recently that will serve as an illustration for Wednesday's message.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resource

"Be Unto Your Name"  Video  Travis Cottrell (and others)  This is the song we sang yesterday in church.

"This Is Your House"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir  This is great song of aspiration for being a healthy church!

As per request by our readers here are the canning recipes for peach pie filling and jam:

7 Quarts of Peach Pie Filling
(Purchase half a bushel/two pecks peaches - or about 15# peaches)
In oversized dutch oven or saucepan:

7 Cups Sugar
2 C. plus 3 Tbsp. Clear jell*
1 to 2 tsp. cinnamon
5 1/4 C. cold water

1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 3/4 C. Lemon Juice
7 quarts sliced, fresh peaches

1. Stir 7 C. sugar, 2 C.+ 3 Tbsp. clear jell, and 1 -2 tsp. cinnamon together.
2. Add 5 1/4 C. cold water and stir until thickened about ten minutes on hot burner.
3. Add 1 t. vanilla or almond extract and 1 3/4 C. Lemon Juice. Blend thoroughly into filling     for 1 minute.
4. Add 7 qts. peaches and cook for three additional minutes.

Fill sterilized and heated quart jars. Process in boiling water bath 30 minutes. Makes 7 to 8 quarts of peach pie filling. (I simplified the layout of the pie filling recipe from this site: pickyourown.org peach pie filling. Scroll down the page for illustrative processing  of the 7 quart recipe.)

*Clear Jell (also thermo flo) is an inexpensive modified corn starch commonly found in bulk food stores - a superior thickener compared to corn starch.

Peach Jam  (Purchase 3 # peaches / about six large peaches)
(yield about 11 cups jam)

1 quart finely chopped, pitted/cored, peeled peaches (may use food processor on gentle cycle)
7 1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. Lemon Juice
1/2 to 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional - my preference)
1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine fruit, sugar and lemon juice in large sauce pot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water water bath.
Recipe variation: Add 1 tsp. whole cloves, 1/2 tsp. whole allspice and 1 cinnamon stick tied in a spice bag to jam during cooking. Remove spice bag before filling jars.

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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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