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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Horse and Buggy along Kraybill Church Road
Kraybill Church Road trees heading north to the right of our home. Of course this photo was taken in the autumn season.

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"A Lesson From A Decaying Tree"

"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Road lined with trees In rural areas farms are often separated by rows of trees. In some cases the farmers purposefully plant a row of trees along their property line. We often drive by a row of vibrant trees along Route 422 in Lebanon County east of Hershey. These trees, uniform in height and diameter, line the farm along the road and up both sides of the long lane right up to the original farm site. Very likely the farmer who planted these trees many years ago is now deceased.

But in other settings some of the fully grown trees are "survivors" that manage to thrive in the small untilled space between two farm fields or along the road. In some ways these are my favorites because they demonstrate the reward of perseverance.

Living in Lancaster County it isn't surprising that we live on property that was formerly farm land. The old tree lines surround our property which can be seen on a satellite view as well as the trees that grew up along the road. The trees directly across from our house are no longer standing which allows us a great farm field view but it also exposes our bare home to ferocious winds!

As we walk up the road across from our neighbors many of the trees remain standing but are in poor shape. One by one they are coming down, succumbing to old age, disease, and the battering from heavy storms.

Decayed tree trunkYesterday I walked up Kraybill Church Road with Mollie (our dog) and noticed a tree trunk slowly rotting away but still standing. I thought to myself, "I wonder how much longer this tree will last!" I expect a neighbor, utility or the Township road department will soon remove the tree before it's a hazard.

But observing the tree got me thinking of spiritual applications in both my own life and in the life of an entire nation. The tree is still standing and if I am not mistaken still leafing out. (I'll have to check back in the spring.) But it's decaying from the inside out and there will most certainly come a point when it too will tumble and fall.

1) The aspect of rottenness in our own life: This is the sin(s) we have ignored in our life. We may be standing and even standing firmly but this rotten sin will eventually spread if not confessed and repented of. For an undetermined time it may slowly fester with apparent harmlessness but the decay will spread and the Bible says we will reap what we sow. It's interesting to note the difference of one who repents of his own free will and one who is simply caught in his or her sin. The outcomes can vary greatly.

"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" In Hebrews 12:1 the author tells us to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us."

2) The aspect of rottenness in our own nation: I can examine certain places on the tree such as the branches that seem healthy and think everything is all right. Or I can examine more closely and discover the decaying part of the tree. As an American, and this will likely apply to any country regardless of where you live, I thank God for my blessings; for the goodness I see every day even as I am also aware of the evil that is spreading. But I also realistically see the rapidly growing decay that will most certainly eventually take its toll and affect each one of us.

We need not despair but rather remind ourselves of our call to be light and salt and to remember where our real home is.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I consider the multitude of studies over the centuries by plant doctors who diagnose disease in trees and other vegetation. Medicines, salves, and treatments are prescribed and applied to the affected plant with the goal of restoring it to good health. There are cures for vegetation, but more importantly there are cures for our sin sick soul. The Great Physician, Jesus, knows how to bring healing and wholeness to our soul's diseases. He gives His prescription throughout the gospels and the authors make it a recurring theme of their writings throughout the Bible. We are to repent of our sins and find out what pleases You. We can do this through reading and obeying the Scriptures as well as daily communion with You in prayer through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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Farewell Joe  

Joe Carroll
Last night we received word that Joe Carroll went home to be with the Lord. Joe is an authentic World War 2 veteran, a generation rapidly leaving this world. Joe has a very interesting testimony which we shared over six years ago when we served as an interim pastor in his church near Harrisburg PA. Late in 2011 we visited Joe at his nursing home in Carlisle PA.  Ester snapped this photo as I stooped down to greet him and he looked up in recognition. For those who may know Joe his obituary is here.

Brooksyne with Jessie Carroll
Brooksyne visiting with Jessie Carroll, Joe's wife of 64 years. Surprised at seeing us she said, "When we moved here we didn't think we'd ever get to see the Webers again." Once again we are humbled as we recognize the importance of our visits to the seniors and the tremendous blessing they are to us.

In regard to yesterday's message on the "The Blessing Of Being Loved" these feedback messages were especially touching.

A Texan reader wrote about stopping at the Safeway store for some groceries: "That store employed a young man named Tony. He had Downs Syndrome and exhibited the same traits as the young man in the story your pastor told.  When you would call him Tony, he would, with a smile, let you know he was "Tony the Tiger".  He was always smiling, always helpful and a joy to know. I think God, in His Great Mercy, has accepted each of those "special" little ones in to His Heart and we will see them in Glory. And, who knows, as the story says, maybe we will be more like them."


"Your message today really hits home because I have worked with the developmentally disabled for over 20 years. I am so glad that you have recognized these dear people as being whole despite what we would consider their disabilities. Thanks for the inspiring stories."


"We have a grandson that lives in Georgia with his family. Our son and his wife give him special care and love as he has lots of health issues. He too loves church and is at times the center of attention there. These special people are God's way of showing to mankind how to truly love without anything hindering. How often we adults get caught up in the proper way to be and become artificial in our relationships. May the Holy Spirit help us to be transparent and show the genuine love of Jesus as we go through life."


"I would love to see you roll your eyes at Stephen's need to tell Kroger sacker stories!! However, in Stephen's defense, he tells those stories "because he can"!!! This has become my new motto, because I can!! May God bless each of you. Sending our love and hugs. God is good!!" 
(This note came to Brooksyne from a faithful reader in Iowa who has two older teens with major disabilities including seizures. This single mom has our highest respect and regular prayers)

Here's an interesting perspective on this matter: "Children with Down Syndrome: Will Culture Make Them Disappear?" Why we should see them as an endowment from God and not a mistaken diagnosis. (Article)

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"No Not One"  Video  Lenny LeBlanc  Brooksyne's favorite line of this hymn is: "None else can heal all our soul's diseases. No not one. No not one."

"Psalm 1"  Video  Kim Hill  "He will be like a tree planted by water"

"Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus"  Video  Promise Keepers

"One Pitch From Humility" Audio  Today as I was preparing the message I listened to the "Focus On The Family" broadcast in the background and heard a wonderful testimony by now deceased Frank Pastore, a former Major League baseball pitcher. He shared his discovery that success in the world only brings emptiness and how he found true happiness through the truth of the Gospel.

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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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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