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Monday, August 18, 2014

Butterfly with Scripture verse (Photo by Greg Schneider)
Photo taken in Centre County, PA by our friend Greg Schneider.
(Click on photo to enlarge and for better clarity)

"A New Creation"

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Lowes clearance flower (hopeless cause) 7/8/14

Six weeks ago we found this
verbena flower on a clearance bin at Lowes. I named it "Hopeless Cause" and even the manager raised his eyebrows as we took it to the register. We figured, even if we can't revive this pitiful plant, the metal planter with coco liner and planting soil was worth the price we paid (a dollar as I recall). At that time we posted the above photo and asked our readers: "Do you suppose we can bring it back to life?" The manager said to us, "If you can possibly bring this flower back to life bring in a picture to prove it."

Lowes clearance flower (hopeless cause) after renewal 8/18/14

After six weeks of TLC here is the plant as of this morning! My contribution was that I replaced the plastic hanger with a chain. Brooksyne provided the very much needed Tender Loving Care "but it was God who made the plant grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6). To aid the Lord's revitalization of this Verbena plant Brooksyne cut off the dead leaves and vines almost to the root, watered it daily, placed it in the sun, and fertilized it weekly. This plant essentially received a new identity so today let us consider the topic of a new identity.

Years ago I received an offer that caught my attention.  It stated that for the introductory price of only $19.95 I could have a brand new identity.  The deal promised that the "best thing about having a new you is that you have PERFECT credit, you can take a vacation on your newly found credit and never worry about the bills if you don't want to."  I wonder if they extended credit so buyers could put the $19.95 introductory price on that same credit card? I would guess that enough suckers couldn't resist the offer making this innovative thief a small fortune.

There are many who earnestly seek a new identity. It may be in regard to their facial features, body size, age marks, a seedy past, or whatever else troubles them and doesn't go away on its own. The products that "promise" results line store shelves, fill the air waves and cram my junk email folder.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Scripture promises a genuine offer of a new identity that's been proven valid for over 2,000 years. Millions can testify to the integrity of this promise: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Bible commentator Glen Spencer describes the Christian as a new creation..."a creation of God's redemptive work. He is a new creature with a new Director, a new Determination, a new Demeanor, new Delights, new Desires, and a new Destiny. If our life is not different since we professed Christ as our Saviour—we need to examine our life in light of God's Word."

In another text Paul uses a wonderful phrase to describe this change. After listing a group of sins that will prohibit entrance into the Kingdom of God he writes, "Such were some of you." He then describes the transformative change, "but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

When we genuinely commit our life to Christ we become a new creation and receive a new identity. The first daily Scripture text is one of the first verses that I ever memorized after accepting Christ in 1971. The change in my life was both immediate and progressive.  Men and women from "every nation, tribe, people and language" have accepted this new identity and many are doing so every day. The promise is freely available to each of you reading this. Have you accepted Christ's offer? It is the real deal and the only one that has immediate, lasting, and best of all eternal value!

Come just as you are.
Hear the Spirit call.
Come just as you are.
Come and see, come receive,
Come and live forever.

Life everlasting.
And strength for today.
Taste the Living Water,
And never thirst again.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, there is no sin too great that Your mercy is not greater. We were born with a sin problem, but You provided the solution for our sin sick souls through the wondrous sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ. We could never be good enough, rich enough, famous enough – nothing we offer is enough. Anything we have to give is sin-based because of our human condition and all that Christ offers is sin-less because He is the Lamb without blemish. Only Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, is enough to pay for our sins. His payment made in full makes us a new creation, taking away our old attitudes and behaviours born of this world and replaces them with the new attitudes and behaviors born of the Spirit. Thank You for the living water that quenches our eternal thirst through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note about the Verbena: I tried to sway Stephen away from the burned up verbena but he has seen me revive many plants over the years and was confident that it would happen again. Thankfully it worked. But to be honest there were three plants and one I did toss as it was truly dead. The other two I cut right down to the top of the roots. For those interested in trying to save those destined for the recycle bin, with your fingernail scratch the stem of a plant or bark of a tree. If you can find a green cast inside the layers of the stem of the plant, the bark or branch of a tree that's a sign of life. If instead the branch or stem snaps off and the layers inside are brown the roots are dead as well (usually). If you suspect your plant is dead but you are not sure, the fastest way to tell if it is dead is to check the stems. The stems of the plant should be pliable and firm and will have a green cast on the inside if they are still alive.

Ester Update: Ester continues to recover from her digoxin overload last week that landed her in the hospital three days. The one recurring problem is her arrhythmia which was overnight and still today. Hoping and praying that it will go away so we can avoid calling the doctor. Thank you for your continued interest and prayers, dear friends.

Mike with John and Joan 8/16/14
My brother Mike received a sense of the neighborliness we enjoy when John and Joan stopped by Saturday to give us some freshly picked squash and green beans.

Ester with t-shirt 8/16/14
Ester and Brooksyne attended a concert Saturday night where they served as volunteers. Ester is pointing to her creatively packaged t-shirt one of the singers from Soul'd Out Quartet gave her. When she told him "medium", he pulled out this tiny thing. They vacuum pack the shirts to be about 4"x6" and she's excitedly showing her uncle and me as we were sitting out in the barn/shed waiting for their return. For songs from the Soul'd Out concert as well as Mark Bishop's see below in our song selections.

Brooksyne's Blackberry cobbler 8/17/14
Brooksyne enjoyed hearing Mark Bishop sing at the concert Saturday. He also reminisced about the summers in Kentucky when it got so hot that the whole family sat out on the big porch after dinner to cool off (no A/C then). They began harmonizing as they sang hymns and gospel music on the porch and eventually formed the Bishops Trio. He smiled as he also recalled his mom's blackberry cobbler topped with ice cream that was spectacular on a hot summer evening. That prompted Brooksyne to stop at Giant on the way home and load up on blackberries which were half price. So last evening she baked us a blackberry cobbler, the kind her mom always made, after the five kids picked blackberries either in Tulsa or when they visited the grandparents in Arkansas; saving some for cobbler and others for blackberry jam. Sure wish you could have been here for the treat last night - it was oh, so good. See recipe below.

View from front porch 8/18/14
Early this morning we had this spacious view from our front porch with fog over the cornfield.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Come Just As You Are "  Video   The Maranatha! Singers

"Since Jesus Came Into My Heart"  Video  Homecoming singers

I really enjoyed Mark Bishop and Soul'd Out Quartet Saturday evening. Perhaps you'd like to hear some of their songs:

"Can I Pray For You"  Video  Mark Bishop My all-time favorite that I turn up when it comes on the radio. Mark writes all his music and it is filled with excellent Bible honoring teaching.

"I Can Rejoice"  Video  
Mark Bishop

"You Were There"  Video  Soul'd Out Quartet

"I Believe
"  Video   Soul'd Out Quartet My favorite from this group. The bass is outstanding on this old favorite that has been revived. I believe you will enjoy it as well.

Recipe for Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry Cobbler Crust
4 C. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 C. shortening, cold
1/2 C. butter, cold
10 Tbsp. cold waterMix flour, shortening and salt together with a pastry blender till blended. Add water to the well blended flour mixture. Mix all ingredients together with a fork. Divide dough in half. Roll one half of the dough on a slightly floured surface with a rolling pin and place in a large oblong dish. Push dough up the sides.
Blackberry Filling
1 & 1/4 C. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. salt
8 Cups blackberries (or combination of blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In small bowl stir sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, cinnamon, and salt. Drop berries in a large bowl, sprinkle with sugar mixture, and gently toss to distribute evenly. Immediately transfer to the dough lined pan. Dot with butter.

Roll out reserved dough half and place over filling or cut in lattice strips and weave over the filling. (Optional: Melt 1 Tbsp. butter and spread over pastry or 1 egg white, or tsp. milk. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.)

Refrigerate cobbler until the dough is firm, 30 minutes. Meanwhile place on oven rack in lower third of the oven and preheat at 375. Bake cobbler till crust is golden and filling is bubbling about 50 to 60 minutes. (Filling should be thickening though it will thicken more upon cooling.)

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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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