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Friday, April 29, 2016

Pink dogwood in our backyard 4/26/16
The pink flowering dogwood in our backyard is in full bloom.

"Like A Tree"

Message Summary:
We encourage you today to read all of Psalm 1 (it's only 6 verses!) and receive the wonderful blessings of God through His Holy Word. Read, study, meditate and memorize these timeless truths. I (Brooksyne) did it years ago but must review from time to time since my memory is a bit faulty these days, and I'm always refreshed in my spirit when I do. May it be true of each of us that we are like a tree "which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers".

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"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers" (Psalm 1:3).

The trees in our area are just beautiful this time of year with an abundance of flowering blossoms in every direction we turn. It's only about a two week window so we enjoy it immensely as we travel through the county, though it is a very short season. From our office window we look over to our neighbor's huge lilac now blooming, although I don't know whether it's classified as a tree or a bush since it's massive. It will soon be fully green around here and there's a special quality to the rich green color of young leaves. We enjoy the beauty of the flowering trees, but unfortunately for some the season can't end soon enough since they deal with allergies related to the nasty pollen that falls from the trees.

Arbor Day logoToday is Arbor Day here in the USA, a day when we especially consider the blessing of trees. I like trees a lot. This week a longtime friend and his family visited us from New York state. Jeff is a forester, which I always thought must be a neat job. One time when I first met him about 35 years ago he took me to work with him and we drove through the Allegheny National Forest in northern Pennsylvania.

There are references to trees all through the Bible from the very first chapter of Genesis to the very last chapter in Revelation. Solomon had an interest in trees, among many other things. "He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls" (1 Kings 4:33).

Psalm 1:3 Psalm 1 describes a righteous man who is thriving in his spiritual walk. "He is like a tree planted by streams of water." We live near a beautiful, small trout stream known as Donegal Creek. Our tractor trail walk takes us along this stream and a row of beautiful old trees. These trees have thrived over the years, benefiting from the excellent soil and proximity to the Creek.

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water." This colorful phrase describes the man who is blessed.

The blessed man is characterized
by what he does not do.
1) He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
2) He does not stand in the way of sinners
3) He does not sit in the seat of mockers

Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns observes:
“the man’s downward progression (the opposite of the blessed man) in this Psalm was a ‘slow fade’ and the steps that led to it are all there in those verses.
1) He walks in the counsel of the wicked,
2) He stands in the way of the sinners and finally,
3) He sits in the seat of the mockers.

In other words he’s walking in the wrong direction toward the wicked, then remains idle instead of running away from such sinful influence, and lastly his doom is sealed as he finally takes a seat among them.

The blessed man is characterized not only by what he does not do but also by what he does do:
1) He delights in the law of the Lord
2) He meditates on it day and night.

We encourage you today to read all of Psalm 1 (it's only 6 verses!) and receive the wonderful blessings of God through His Holy Word. Read, study, meditate and memorize these timeless truths. I (Brooksyne) did it years ago but must review from time to time since my memory is a bit faulty these days, and I'm always refreshed in my spirit when I do.
May it be true of each of us that we are like a tree "which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers".

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, our source of nourishment comes from You. You are the Living Water and, as we draw our sustenance from You, we bear healthy and fruitful actions which reflect our Heavenly Father. We stand strong and tall like trees firmly planted in Your streams of living water bearing fruit during every season of our life. Our dependence is on You, Lord, which is vital for our growth, health, vitality, and fruitfulness. We want to grow healthy fruit that comes from Your Spirit, benefitting not only ourselves but those whom we might influence for the kingdom of God. Amen.

White dogwood in our front yard 4/26/16
White dogwood in our front yard.

White dogwood in our front yard 4/26/16
Our "Pink Heartbreaker" weeping redbud is transitioning from flowers to leaves.

Locally grown asparagus 4/28/16
Garden-Fresh Grilled Asparagus

Brooksyne's note: Only in the past two years have I prepared asparagus with the intention of eating it. Stephen loved it but I could hardly stand the smell of it as I steamed it and scooped it all in his plate. But then I began to roast it in the oven or stir fry it in the skillet. Now I thoroughly enjoy it. The photo above is the dish I prepared for lunch yesterday, thanks to a kind friend who gave us a quart of fresh asparagus right from her garden. Perhaps you've always prepared it this way, but if not here's the tastier method (in my unbiased opinion):

Sliced Onions (1/4 onion)
Sliced fresh garlic (3 or more large cloves)
X-Virgin Olive Oil (1 Tbsp.)
Almond Halves (2 Tbsp.)
Bacon Crumbs (1 Tbsp.)
Feta, Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola Cheese (2 Tbsp.)
Seasoning to taste

Break off and compost the tough part of the asparagus stems, rinse and dry the asparagus. Slice onions and garlic. Pour 1 T. oil in small prep dish and, with a marinating brush, brush asparagus, onions, and garlic. Either heat oven to 425 degrees and spray cookie sheet with Pam or heat skillet on stovetop. Skillet Method:  Place asparagus in hot skillet and turn as it begins to cook through and eventually brown. Add almonds and bacon crumbs at the beginning or half way through. In ten to fifteen minutes the asparagus and condiments should be lightly browned. During last few minutes add the cheese. Oven Method: Roast asparagus in the oven with all the condiments except cheese and bake ten minutes or till asparagus is lightly toasted. Add cheese (optional but tasty). Sprinkle sea salt and enjoy a healthy vegetable treat! This is a recipe off the top of my head so the amount of condiments can vary based on availability or my mood - please prepare according to your own tastes! If you're watching calories you can even use less oil (1/2 Tbsp.) since the marinating brush really makes it go a long way. You could also put the veggies in a gallon bag with the oil, seal it, and roll veggies in the bag to coat with the oil.

(Other veggies can also be prepared this way.  I especially like fresh brussel sprouts prepared like this - another veggie I very much disliked until I used this method of prep.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Will Delight"  Video   Maranatha Singers (A song based on Psalm 1)

"Psalm 1"  Video  Kim Hill

"Slow Fade"  Video  Casting Crowns

Finally today:

Lancaster Barnstormers home opener 4/28/16
Last night Ester and I went to the home opener of the Lancaster Barnstormers, our local minor league baseball team.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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