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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
A beautiful view of Lancaster County farmland from an Amish harvest wagon. My friend Jesse joked about the horses being jealous when viewing a tractor off in the distance.
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"The Cooperative Harvest"
"The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor" (1 Corinthians 3:8). "When the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest" (1 Corinthians 9:10). "Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness" (2 Corinthians 9:10).
Last week I "helped" my Amish friend Jesse with his corn harvest. The Amish are characterized, among other distinctives, by their use of their old methods of farming. My first-hand experience of participating in their harvest was similar to a living history demonstration in which I not only observed but participated in.
They were harvesting corn for silage meaning the stalks of corn along with the ears are chopped and blown into the silo for animal feed (dairy cows). The Amish have large families who work cooperatively together when the need arises for many helping hands. For instance, when a new baby is born in the household a sibling or mom of the new mother will take up residency and assume the household and child care responsibilities for the first week or two. But today we want to focus on the cooperative harvest theme! (Pictures below, but please read text first.)
Crops have a fairly predictable harvest time. There's a short window for harvest between not yet ready and already too late. In the case of corn it has to do with moisture content. Harvest time is a busy and joyful time for farmers. They are literally reaping the fruit of their labors.
Harvest is a word used in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament it is generally used in a literal sense. In the New Testament it is used mostly in a figurative sense such as when Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field."
Today the harvest remains plentiful and the workers are still few. We need to be among those who hear God's call and go out to the harvest fields. It is truly a privilege to play a role in the spiritual harvest! Whether it's impacting an individual or a group, it's just great to see people respond to God's love. I know there are so many who I am working with in the spiritual harvest; some whom I am aware of, but many, many others whom I am not.
One of the vital truths I have learned in ministry is the principle of the cooperative harvest. Jesus commissioned His church to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. His great command was not spoken to them as individuals but to the entire group. Although we certainly express this obedience individually we must remember that the fulfillment of the Great Commission requires a cooperative effort.
This is demonstrated in the reality that some plant and others water. For many years missionaries labored in Latin America with little visible success. Surely they faced great discouragement at the harsh living conditions and sparse response to their ministry. But as you know in the last generation we have seen remarkable revival in Biblical Christianity in this part of the world. Are our present missionaries more devoted to God? Do they pray more? I hardly think so!
The faithful work of those who went before sowed the seed for the present harvest. Some countries and regions that have had missionary activity for many years remain very resistant to the Gospel.
You may presently be sowing or you may be reaping. Remember the cooperative harvest: one plants, one waters, and another harvests. We are indebted to many who serve in the great Gospel enterprise with us. We are likely planting and harvesting at the same time, although at times the planting is more prominent, at other times the harvesting is. Stay faithful in whatever role you play in the harvest!
Consider the statement in the daily text: "The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose." Planting, watering, reaping; all are part of the process with the goal being a bountiful harvest, agriculturally and spiritually. That is our "one purpose." Any life impacted for Christ and eternity is done so by the cooperative harvest. The plowman and the thresher both have equal hope of sharing in the harvest.
One may have the joyful privilege of leading an individual in a prayer of repentance and faith in Christ, but many others have had a part both seen and unseen. A dedicated Sunday School teacher, a praying aunt, a careful translator, a generous contributor to a gospel ministry, a Christian songwriter, even that one who might have been mocked and rejected several months earlier when he tried to witness. Consider those who have a part in the discipling and spiritual formation as we grow together spiritually in preparation for the final harvest.
What's your responsibility in the cooperative harvest today? Let us each be found faithful!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank that You include us in Your overall plan to harvest souls into the kingdom of heaven. Open our eyes and burden our hearts as we look at the field of souls ripe for harvest. Show us ways in which we can enlarge our circle of influence as we work cooperatively with fellow believers in the great harvest of souls. What a joy it is to see people come to faith and grow in their Christian walk as we diligently plant seeds of salvation and water them with wisdom from Your Holy Word and through our Christian testimony. Amen.
One more thought on the harvest: Finally, I want to share a promise that I considered using as my text today which I have committed to memory and has often blessed me as I drive through the country whether in planting time or harvest: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).
Yesterday's photo of a strange building was a corn crib as identifed by several local readers. "The building is an old fashioned corn crib for husked corn still on the cob.This was the way it was done 50 years ago, now the corn is shelled and stored in metal bins. The door is to go in and shovel the cobs out for the mobile feed grinder that would go to the farms to grind the feed and it was put in bags or a small bin. The truck usually came about once a week."
Wrong answer but a reasonable try: "A house for a really skinny family"
Cooperation In The Harvest
Here are some photos and explanation of an old order Amish harvesting method.
When I drove onto the farm Jesse was unloading a wagon of corn. He invited me to ride with him through the harvest field. When we got to the field we waited while another crew loaded a wagon. The binding machine goes non-stop with three wagons loading and taking the corn to the silo. Due to the cooperative effort between Jesse, his dad, brother-in-law and a neighbor they're working at the harvest non-stop. Jesse in turn will help the others with their harvest.
This is the view from the wagon, three horses pulling the wagon and three pulling the binding machine. The horses (or mules) are well-trained and respond to voice commands (sort of sounds hi-tech). The team also has the natural sense of staying in place and working at the same pace.
Eli operating the binding machine which cuts one row of corn at a time, binds the stalks into a bundle and sends the bundle up a chute to the wagon.
Jesse removes a bundle from the chute and stacks it onto the wagon.
A view from inside the mule stall. Notice the jugs of water and baling twine, a common necessity to all harvest workers. In the background is a tobacco barn with the slats open for drying.
A view of the chute into the chopper which also blows the silage up into the silo. The PTO is used on the old Deutz steel-wheeled tractor to power the chopper.
I helped load the corn off the wagon into the chopper chute. Each bundle weighed about 30-40 pounds I would estimate
Jesse plopped his straw hat on me making me an official Amish farmer for the day (actually only about five minutes since we stopped by amidst our chaplain calls!) He is instructing his daughter Naomi Grace to back off. The children were excited about the harvest, with little Eli James telling me over and over in sing song, "It's harvest time!"
The children managed to get in our van and pretend drive. Jamie couldn't resist tooting the horn repeatedly. (I rather doubt that buggies are equipped with horns since that might not be sweet music to the horse's ears.)
While I was out with the harvest crew Brooksyne went into the farmhouse to visit Anna Ruth who was preparing lunch for the men. She graciously pulled a loaf of bread from the oven and cut a couple of slices for us, topping it off with butter and rhubarb jam Brooksyne had given her awhile back. Delicious!!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Here's a video of an Amish corn harvest very near where I was last week (about 1/2 mile).
"Field Of Souls" Video Verne Phifer
"Bringing In The Sheaves" Video The Mansion Singers
Note: The following songs are not spiritually-based but bring some good memories back.
"Harvest Time" Video Luke Bryan A song for us country folks with great harvest video! Dedicated to Galen, Darrel, Mike, Leon (my neighbor who was harvesting well into the night several days ago), Jesse, Eli and all my farmer friends who are working the harvest. When you pray today thank God for farmers!
Here's a photo of one of my farmer friends several years ago taking his girlfriend (now wife) on a ride on the combine during harvest.
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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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