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Monday, March 4, 2013

Amish straw hats and rising bread, Lancaster County, PA 3/1/13
We stopped by Friday to visit our Amish friends. Anna Ruth was making home-made bread and using the old cast iron radiators to assist in the bread's rising. She suggested I take a photo so I stood on a chair to include the straw hats hanging on the hooks on the wall.

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"The Home Stretch"

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24). "Run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Pastor Jesse & Wilma Dourte 1/29/10Jesse and Wilma Dourte are a dear older couple who attend our church. We belong to a small country-type church that has about 120 in attendance (that's a small church to some and a good size church to others depending on your reference point). We enjoy attending a church where you personally know the pastor and congregation and have occasional opportunity to share testimonies as time permits.

It was during a recent testimony service that Jesse Dourte lifted his hand indicating he had something to say so Pastor John made his way toward him with the wireless microphone. I found myself anticipating what might be on his heart, because he and Wilma always have a good word to share with the congregation. Jesse slowly rose from his pew as he pulled himself up by the back of the pew in front of him, and began his testimony by saying very matter of factly, "I'm on the home stretch now", prior to dispensing some godly wisdom for all ages.

In doing so he acknowledged,
like the Apostle Paul, that the time of his departure is nearing. The Mirriam-Webster dictionary indicates that the "homestretch" is the part of a racecourse between the last turn and the winning post.

Of course the precise time of our departure is known only to God but what a healthy, faith-filled outlook to approach what we consider to be the "last turn" of our human condition with an assurance of God's love as we joyfully anticipate our final destination. The majority of mankind would rather avoid the topic of death altogether. Many live as though they're invincible and death will never darken their door; this being especially prevalent among the youth. Give them a few years and they'll see young and old departing this life and reality will awaken them to the inevitable truth.

Boston Marathon finish linePaul’s life goal was to finish life's race and complete the task the Lord Jesus had given him—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. We may slow down physically due to our age progression, but the task of faithfully giving a witness for Christ and His amazing grace should fill our hearts and be the message on our tongues until our dying day.

Life, in light of eternity, is but a vapor but since it’s all we know it can seem an unending race, similar to a marathon. Jesse who turns 90 in June is indeed on his home stretch and longs to hear our Lord’s commendation, "Well done good and faithful servant."

All of us will one day come to the end of our earthly pilgrimage. What a waste it would be to have run our  marathon aimlessly. Instead let us be inspired daily by keeping as our chief goal the Lord's future commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant....Enter into the joy of Your Lord" (Matthew 25:23 NKJV).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we testify today to the marvelous grace of Christ Jesus our Lord. His loving grace exceeds our sin and our guilt, making it possible for us to have our sins completely forgiven. What He did on Calvary brought hope from despair, and turned the gloom of death into the brightness of eternity. When our walk on earth seems long or dreary, precious Lord, linger near as You uphold us with Your mighty right hand. Amen.

With Ira Wagler, author of "Growing Up Amish" 3/1/13

Friday morning we stopped by to visit with Ira Wagler, the general manager of a building company here in Lancaster County. We wanted to meet him and express our appreciation for a book he wrote titled "Growing Up Amish".

"Growing Up Amish" bookcoverThe story of his childhood is very interesting and gives a glimpse into the Amish culture although he told us, "It is my story" and is not necessarily representative of all Amish. Ira tells the story of his conversion to Christ at 26 years of age.

Here's a description from the book cover: One fateful starless night, 17-year-old Ira Wagler got up at 2 am, left a scribbled note under his pillow, packed all of his earthly belongings into in a little black duffel bag, and walked away from his home in the Amish settlement of Bloomfield, Iowa. Now, in this heartwarming memoir, Ira paints a vivid portrait of Amish life - from his childhood days on the family farm, his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his ultimate decision to leave the Amish Church for good at age 26.

"Growing Up Amish" is the true story of one man's quest to discover who he is and where he belongs. Readers will laugh, cry, and be inspired by this charming yet poignant coming of age story set amidst the backdrop of one of the most enigmatic cultures in America today - the Old Order Amish.  

Ira Wagler also blogs here and you can also find information about the book.
He has a very interesting writing style!

Amish rising bread, Lancaster County, PA 3/1/13
Here's a close-up of the rising bread from our photo above.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Want To Be That Man"  Video  Brian Free & Assurance  There are those who will listen to this and consider their own father and that is such a blessing. However I also consider faithful old-timers like Jesse, who was mentioned in our message today, a brother in the faith and former pastor. Younger generations need to see and interface with these elderly who have lived faithfully for Christ, especially since so many really don't have that model in their own family.

"What A Day That Will Be"
Gaither Vocal Band

"Does Jesus Care?"  Video  Guy Penrod & George Beverly Shea  From Guy Penrod's new CD "Hymns". George was a young 103 at the recording of this song. Well worth the listen and a great blessing for one who is bereaved or enduring great trial.

"If We Never Meet Again"  Video   Booth Brothers

Amish rising bread, Lancaster County, PA 3/1/13"A heartwarming story of true sportsmanship"  Video  I know there's a spiritual lesson to this story!

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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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