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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gettysburg trip 7/29/13
Old stone farmhouse on the Gettysburg Battlefield

(Click on photo for larger image)

"Not Being Conformed"

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"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).

Amish shopping at Costco, Lancaster, PA Our Amish friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth, can lead us to some colorful experiences. Many of us find the Amish way of life interesting, a living example of how people used to live.

So what way of life do the Amish find interesting? Most Amish in our area have regular association with those who live modern lives and they themselves increasingly use much modern technology with several notable exceptions, such as the horse and buggie. Our local Costco store has many Amish shoppers and even a special hitching area for their horse and buggies. I really don't think they find too much intrigue with the modern way of life!

Our friend Jesse is a dairy farmer and also a skilled stonemason. Several times he has told us about a job he had building an old-fashioned, open hearth fireplace and chimney for a woman and her two daughters who live in the Gettysburg area.

Jesse was intrigued by their lifestyle and wanted me to see it along with his family so yesterday we all piled into a rented van and drove over to Gettysburg. (Brooksyne and Ester
were also invited but they are out in Arkansas for a funeral.)

We left early in the morning and a highlight for the five children along the way was breakfast at Chick-fil-A and then playing in the play area. We drove around the Gettysburg Battlefield before our visit with the three women in the early afternoon.

The women live out in the country in a compound type setting with a high stockade fence around it accessible by a gate also made of closed stockade fence. Jesse had to go up to the gate to the have the women open it and as we drove in two women dressed in what seemed like costumes from Old Sturbridge Village* greeted us and then shut the gate after we entered. That was creepy to me!

Immediately I noted signs that they prohibited cell phones and smoking and found right a way that photos were also not permitted. I would have a lot of interesting photos!!! As much as possible these women choose to live in a period similar to the early 1800's with no running water, electricity or anything modern.
They carry water in from the well using buckets. An outhouse is used with a humanure system of recycling human waste into compost. They even show us a lamb's ear plant that can be used in place of toilet paper. They were so proud to show us how the humanure composting system worked and at one point removed a layer of straw where it was composting and by hand scooped up a handful of "compost".

As much as possible they are entirely self-sufficient from the outside world, growing their own fruits and vegetables, milking a cow and goat, several chickens for eggs, etc. They barter for whatever else is needed.

I found myself very claustrophobic inside the compound and on the way home found out that Jesse and Anna Ruth felt the same way. Our visit was to be two hours but we were "trapped" in the compound for five hours due to the very engaging, friendly women who welcomed us outsiders and were pleased to share their lifestyle with us.

There's so much more I could describe but I was so relieved when they finally opened the gate for us and stood on each side in their 1800's dresses waving goodbye as we departed out to the main highway. We were all glad to be back out on the main road and sure had an interesting talk on the way back to Lancaster County. Jesse knows I write these daily messages and was quite sure the experience might be illustrative material for today. I asked him what verse he would suggest and he referred to the part in our daily text about not being conformed to the world.

However, honestly I am not sure what motivates these women to live as they do. Apparently there is a network they are in association with worldwide that live similarly and I really didn't get the sense that they were necessarily religiously motivated, but more so due to what they perceive as the unhealthy aspects of modern life and a very pure form of environmentalism. They don't use any insecticides, although they did use a fly swatter as we sat on old chairs in the plain wood floor kitchen and had some herbal tea and organic home-made pastries! (I am not even sure that they washed their hands after demonstrating the humanure compost pile and then serving us food!!!)

This is not the typical message we prepare and without Brooksyne's assistance I am a bit flabbergasted on what spiritual lesson to get out of my experience yesterday. So let me end with a spiritual thought that may or may not seem to be related. We certainly are called not to be conformed to the world and this non-conformity may be expressed in different ways.

I recall a special moment in my personal discipleship when a fellow believer shared with me
over forty years ago a spiritual concept based on Romans 12:2. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." The process of breaking conformity to the world and being transformed into spiritual conformity to Christ continues in my life through the renewing of my mind.  There have been many setbacks along the way but God continues the transformation process and I am assured that He will carry it on to completion until the day He calls me home.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Photos from the Gettysburg Battlefield
(As mentioned in the message photos were not permitted on the compound we visited)

Gettysburg trip 7/29/13
This was the scene of one of the bloodiest places during the three day battle which took place in July 150 years ago. It is a very solemn site.

Gettysburg trip 7/29/13
This barn had a cannonball lodged in the hole
till just several years ago we were told . We weren't told how or why it was removed.

Gettysburg trip 7/29/13
Split rail fences are all through the park.

Gettysburg trip 7/29/13
The Gettysburg Battlefield has many statues and monuments.
This one is of General Lee.

Gettysburg trip 7/29/13
This is the second tower we encountered in our drive through the park. Jesse, Anna Ruth and I were pretty tired by this point and stayed down on the ground but four of the children, with boundless energy, went up to the top.

Gettysburg trip 7/29/13
This truck really has nothing to do with the Battlefield but... I like old trucks!

Gettysburg trip 7/29/13
As I finished today's message it occured to me to check out Google maps. The secluded compound is indeed quite visible from a satellite view which shows the inside and this streetview photo shows the stockade and entrance gate. I feel it would be inappropriate to share the location.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Do Not Be Conformed To This World" Sermon by John Piper  Video  Since today's message was sparse in spiritual teaching I will post this for those who may want to explore the topic of not being conformed to the world!

Old Sturbridge Village is a recreated village from 1830's New England where the people dress in costume from the period.

For the chronically curious here are instructions for making your own humanure composting system including videos. Note: Check with local codes before proceeding!

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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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