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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Lancaster County clothesline (Click to enlarge)
A colorful clothesline setting on a Mennonite farm.
Click on photo for larger view

"Dangerous Distractions"

Message Summary: 
Today there is much to distract us. The foundations are being destroyed and we just wonder what is around the corner. Even so, our call remains the same:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Give ear to my prayer, O God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted" (Psalm 55:1,2). "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

Jacy Good
In 2008 we had a deadly accident in our area caused by what is politely termed "distracted driving". Twenty-one year old Jacy Good, along with her parents, was returning home after her college graduation in the Reading area just north of Lancaster. A driver, distracted by his phone, caused an accident killing both her parents and partially paralyzing Jacy. She had a lengthy road to recovery yet still bears impairment from the accident. She has become a spokesperson for the dangers of distracted driving and has made a video, which has gone viral, warning against the dangers of distracted driving. Due to her personal experience it's incredibly moving. (We provide a link to the video below).

Five years ago Brooksyne and Ester were rear-ended on Route 23, a very busy route in the Lancaster area especially during tourist season. Heavy traffic had come to a halt so Brooksyne applied her brakes and instinctively checked in her rear view mirror to see that the driver behind her knew to apply his brakes as well. But she became alarmed as she saw that he was not looking ahead but had his face downward. She feared that he was going to rear end her which is exactly what happened. The police report described his reason for not stopping as "distracted driving". In fact he was texting on his phone. Thankfully their injuries were minor, although our van was totaled.

According to the website stoptextsstopwrecks.org in 2013, 3,154 people were killed and an estimated additional 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. It should be very clear the dangers of driving while distracted, whether due to technology or other forms of distractions. Yesterday we heard a powerful testimony on Dr. Dobson's Family Talk about another severe form of driving distraction; drunk driving. This type of distraction is not included in the above figures.
In 2014 "Impaired driving" (another relatively polite term) accounts for 9,967 people killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States according to the CDC.

In many spheres of life distractions are dangerous or even deadly. But today let us consider another form of dangerous and potentially deadly distraction; that is, spiritual distraction. Today's text is a plaintive plea from the Psalmist that virtually all of us can identify with.

"Give ear to my prayer, O God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication." We know, based upon the balance of Biblical theology, that God does not hide Himself from those who earnestly seek Him. Yet from our emotional perspective it can sure seem that way at times. I recently provided ministry to a man weary from a long season of grief. Making matters worse he is plagued by the "why" questions, the kind that just can't be answered adequately on this side. Perhaps the writer of the old Gospel song, "We'll Understand It Better By and By", was dealing with a lot of "why" questions as related to his life's circumstances.

"Give heed to me and answer me." God always answers but not always when or how we prefer! But in Jeremiah we read this word of promise, "Call to me and I will answer you" (Jeremiah 33:3).

"I am restless in my complaint" The Psalmist's candor here is outstanding. It's very difficult for me to express it this way to God but quite honestly that's how I feel more often than I should. What about you? In the vernacular we might say, "Come on God, what's the delay? Let's get this taken care of."

But today let us especially examine that phrase "and am surely distracted". This is how the New American Standard version translates the verse, the only version that uses the word "distracted". Other versions state, "I am beside myself" (New English Translation), "I am distraught" (NIV), "I am worn out by my worries" (Good New Translation). Here's a nifty page with virtually all English translations of this verse.

There are many things that cause us to be spiritually distracted. Jesus spoke of several reasons in His day that are equally true in every generation, "the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth' (from the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-23).

A single phrase from Hebrews 12 is a powerful antidote to distractions but we must willfully appropriate it.
"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Fixing our eyes" translates a single Greek word aphorįō which a Greek Dictionary (Thayers) defines as "to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something".

Bible teacher Kenneth Wuest observes, "The present tense describes a habitual attitude (which is necessary to run with endurance) and not just a single act."

Today there is so much to distract us. The foundations are being destroyed and we just wonder what is around the corner. Even so, our call remains the same:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, help me to walk faithfully with You day by day. Though there are daily temptations and recurrent distractions that seek my heart's affection even as I wait upon You to respond to my supplication. Help me not to be restless in my complaint but to rest in confidence that you are working on my behalf. Help me not to lunge ahead of Your unfolding plan for that which concerns me. I also want to heed Your prompting when You nudge me to move keeping in step with the Spirit's prompting.  Amen.

In several recent messages we have referred to Amos, an Amish friend, who has been fighting cancer since the beginning of the year. Yesterday we received word that he passed away. He leaves a wife and four young children. We will be attending the viewing in his home this morning following our Daily Encouragement posting.

A Blessed Tomato Harvest

Tomatoes in decorative cart 8/27/16
This summer we have had an abundant tomato harvest. This mini-wheelbarrow is overflowing with just a few of the 200 tomatoes Brooksyne picked on Saturday.

Homemade canned salsa 8/29/16
What do you do when you have so many tomatoes you can't eat them all? You cook up Salsa, can it, and put it away for another day, which is exactly what Brooksyne did! Now she has peaches to "put up" as seasoned canners often describe the process of canning.

Mystery farm implement at Etown Fair 8/27/16
Do any of our readers have any idea what this strange contraption is?
Seen at the Elizabethtown Fair last Saturday afternoon.
See below for answer.

Amish boys riding in buggie pickup 8/24/16
We both enjoyed riding in the back of our dad's pickup when we were little (Brooksyne was raised on a farm and did so quite frequently). These Amish boys are enjoying some fresh air, great views, and seem to enjoy being captured on camera.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Brooksyne's Note:
Writing about the car accident several years ago reminds me once again of the unseen guardian angels that work on our behalf. The "distracted" driver who rammed into the back of my van pushed my van into the oncoming lane which left me totally defenseless. A black Cherokee Jeep was coming full speed toward the van and all I could do was call on the name of Jesus to protect Ester and me. Just as the jeep was about to collide with me head-on, the driver swerved into the adjacent yard coming to a sudden halt between two guy-wires. The next day we discovered a 2" black streak of paint on the driver's side of my van which would have come from the mirror of the oncoming Jeep Cherokee - that's just how close we came to a head-on collision. The young lady was only 18 years old. She was driving at 40 MPH but she mastered the emergency situation as though she had many years' experience. God's hand of protection was over all of us and the angels were working on our behalf.

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"  Video  Don Marsh Singers

"We'll Understand It Better By and By"  Video 
Guy Penrod

"Wait for it... this could save your life"   Video  Viral video featuring young lady mentioned in our opening paragraph. Article on PennLive

Yesterday "Family Talk" had an interesting program related to the distraction of drunk driving. We appreciate this expression of Soccer player, Matthew Maher, who took personal responsibility for his actions on March 7th, 2009 when he made the decision to drink and drive – causing a fatal accident. It's a riveting testimony and worth taking to time to listen.

The unusual farm implement shown above was used for tobacco.

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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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