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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show butter sculpture
Butter Sculpture at the 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.
 One thousand pounds of butter and 18 days later this butter masterpiece was created to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Farm Show Milkshake!
The milkshake line is "forever" long, but the wait is worthwhile because the chocolate and vanilla milkshakes are cold, thick, and scrumptious! This butter sculpture is converted to bio-fuel at a PA dairy farm after the farm show.

"As Each Part Does Its Work"

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"For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself" (Romans 14:7). "From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Ephesians 4:16).

Pennsylvania Farm Show FCF bannerEach year I (Stephen) enjoy going into Harrisburg to the "Pennsylvania Farm Show", which is essentially the Pennsylvania State Fair. But unlike other state fairs it's held indoors each January in the city! The entire complex has 24 acres under roof, spread throughout eleven buildings, with three arenas. It's free to attend but you do have to pay $10.00 to park. Over half a million visitors attend the 8 day event. The 98th Pennsylvania Farm Show ended Saturday with record breaking crowds in spite of the polar vortex earlier in the week.

Brooksyne will go to the Farm Show with me every couple of years but does not find it as enjoyable as I do. So this last Friday afternoon I went in with George, a friend from one of our companies. It generally takes 3-4 hours to slowly mosey through the huge complex and see enough, but never everything. By that time I am generally ready to get away from the crowds and sit down!

2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show Jason at chicken displayWe see thousands of people demonstrating a variety of foods and products. Especially interesting is the variety of Plain People (the Amish, old order Mennonite and sundry other groups). We also inevitably see several we know. This year I visited for a few minutes with my district superintendent, Stephen Tourville, along with Don Immel, the district secretary/treasurer.

We were visiting an agricultural display that demonstrated a sample of the typical livestock raised in Pennsylvania such as laying chickens, broilers, turkeys, dairy and beef cattle, sheep and hogs. Jason is a friend from church who was hosting a display with laying chickens. This is the field that Jason works in as well as his father, Galen, a local farmer friend who has a large layer house.

Val-Co regulatorI noticed behind Jason a watering system regulator made by Val-Co, a company we serve as chaplains. In fact that very morning I had seen Ray putting these regulators together as he has done for many years. George, my friend who was with me supervises a machining area that makes pins used in the system. It was neat to see George and Jason, who both have a vital role in our food chain visit for a few minutes representing the many, many people who work hard in getting us the food we eat!

These various roles demonstrate what is essentially an unseen and little considered cooperation that really, for most of us, makes life work as it does. Very few live on completely self-sufficient farms. Cooperation is an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit, a joint action. When I sit down for my scrambled egg breakfast so many people had a role in getting that food to my plate with the final process being Brooksyne's fine cooking. Next time you offer a blessing to the effect, "Thank you Lord for this food. Bless the hands of those who prepared it" consider all who had a role and pray for them!

This is analogous to the Body of Christ at work in cooperative service. A common representation of the Church is the image of the Body. Today's text draws a powerful analogy from the human body and speaks of how each part of the spiritual body works together: "From Him [Christ] the whole body [Church], joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

But in this message let me merely focus on the final phrase, "as each part does its work" (NIV). Other versions translate this phrase similarly, "According to the proper working of each individual part" (NASV) and "When each part is working properly" (ESV). This phrase highlights the contribution of each member to the life and development of the body as a whole.

The Body of Christ truly works as the church "grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Let us do our part today in advancing the cause of Christ in the various ways we serve and realize this is best done in a generous spirit of cooperation and good communication. We encourage you today to faithfully and cooperatively serve in whatever manner God has led you; in your local church, neighborhood, community, in your family or in any other area of service, working as for the Lord Jesus Christ since we are instructed to "Work willingly at whatever we do, as though we were working for the Lord rather than for people" (Colossians 3:23).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, I pray for a spirit of cooperation and eagerness to contribute to the needs of the whole body, so that Your Church is built not just with sweat, bricks, and mortar but with  love, integrity, care, and cooperative teamwork. Therefore we go forth in unity and purpose as we do our part in building each other up as we encourage others to use their God-given talents and acquired skills, all the while striving for unity in the faith. In our service we desire to please You even as we serve and strengthen one another. In the name of Jesus we go forth in faithful service. Amen.

Note: Although we want the focus on this message to be on the value of cooperation within the church we also encourage you to consider this in your vocational work. One aspect of encouragement as we visit people in various types of work is to let them know that their work does matter and is valuable to others.

Brooksyne's note:
As I edited the message today a recurring thought came to my heart regarding the cooperative work of the body of Christ. We've considered the Scripture that speaks to everybody pitching in, excelling in their God-given giftings, and uniting in purpose. But I also consider another aspect of the body working together cooperatively and that is, resisting sin which would disrupt the flow and cooperative working of the church body. I consider a church I visited in the past year where I spent some time with the pastor and his wife afterwards. They were grieved in their spirit as they shared with me that the adult Sunday School teacher had recently begun an affair with another woman. Previously he and his wife were very involved in ministries within the church as well as their children. The church body was heartbroken and the working of the Holy Spirit disrupted among the body as they saw a church leader's integrity stained. Not only does God call us to contribute in our talents and service, but also in the way we live our lives. We must be above reproach so that the testimony of Christ within our lives continues to be a beacon of light in the dark world in which we live and within the body of Christ where we set a godly example for others to follow.

Story about Davey:  We shared this illustration in a message many years ago but it bears repeating in regard to today's message.
It takes place in a primary Sunday School class:

A new boy, Davey, showed up just as the class started. Because he had just one arm, the teacher was a bit nervous, concerned that one of the other children would comment on his handicap and embarrass him. But since there was no opportunity to caution them, she proceeded with her lesson.

Photo of children
She began to relax as Davey fit in very well. Then, when it was about time for the class to end, she asked the students to stand and join her in making the church. Showing them how to put the fingers of their two hands together, she said, “Let’s make a church. Here’s the church and here’s the steeple. Open the door and see all the people.”

As she saw Davey holding his one hand in the air, the awful truth of her actions struck her. The very thing she had feared the children would do, embarrass Davey, she had just done. She stood speechless, embarrassed by her own unintended insensitivity.

But before she could do anything, Sarah, the little girl next to Davey, put her right hand into his left hand and said, “Davey, let’s make the church together.”

What a tremendous illustration of the Body of Christ at work in love and cooperation!

2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show

2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show shagbark hickory syrup
I visited with a couple who have developed a business of making syrup from the bark of Shagbark hickory! The show has hundreds of display booths like this promoting all sorts of farm-related items (as well as non-farm related!).

2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show John Deere modified tractor
The machinery is always interesting. This tractor with a truck cab will ride across the country raising money for disabled veterans.

2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show produce truck
There are all types of displays and competitions such as this old truck.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"We Are God's People"  Video  Unidentified choir

"Bless The Lord O My Soul"
  Video  Matt Redman

"Now Thank We All Our God" 
Unidentified choir, upbeat version

I recall a song from many years ago by Ray Hildebrand that describes this cooperation titled, "We Really Do Need Each Other." I've never been able to find it on YouTube.

The Farm Show is over for this year but we expect there will be another farm show in Pennsylvania next year in January if the Lord tarries. The show will soon have its 100th anniversary! At times the crowds can be so packed one can hardly move. (Photo)

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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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