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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Val-Co drinkers (Photo by Joe Ulicny and used with permission)
A very up-close photo of a chicken using a Val-Co watering drinker
(Photo by Joe Ulicny and used with permission)

"A Good, Good Father"

Message summary: Praise God for Jesus' comparative illustration that gives us boundless hope for those requests dear to our hearts as we go to Him in earnest prayer. The most important gift that our Father could ever give to us is the Holy Spirit, whom He promised to give all believers after His death, resurrection and His return to heaven as mentioned in John 15:26. Our Father ever loves and cares for His own.

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"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"  (Luke 11:11-13).

Eating scorpion"Wildest Indochina", is a nature series on Netflix dealing with the Indochinese region of the world. I watched an episode the other day that showed some young boys catching scorpions and then roasting and eating them. Apparently they are high in protein! Brooksyne tries to prepare foods that are high in protein but I don't think I could persuade her to add scorpions to her diet; roasted, fried, baked or broiled. I have also read stories about eating snake, which, like everything else exotic, is said to "taste like chicken". I think I'll just stick with real chicken.

New Bedford scallop fleetWhen we lived in New England we were near some of the great fish ports and developed a taste for fresh fish. The Port of New Bedford is America's #1 Fishing Port with fish landings valued at $369 million.

Last summer we enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch at "The Black Whale" which is located right along the New Bedford harbor overlooking the scallop fleet. There's something extra special about eating freshly baked seafood while getting an up-close view of the harbor!

Photo of eggFor over 16 year now we’ve lived in Lancaster County which is one of the most prolific agricultural producers in the country. An egg farmer once shared with me that farms in Lancaster County produce 3 billion eggs a year. That's 89 eggs every second! We have a lot of associations with egg producers including Galen and his son Daryl who operate a large chicken house and their able farm hand, Ken. We regularly visit the Val-Co company where we serve as chaplains. It's one of the world's largest manufacturers of poultry equipment. Then there's Jesse and Anna, our Amish friends who often send a couple dozen brown eggs home with us after a visit!

Photo of fried eggFish and eggs have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years and in today's passage Jesus is illustrating the loving care of the heavenly Father by using an earthly father's nurturing concern in providing for the physical needs of his children.

Most of us consider scorpions and snakes practically inedible and that seemed to be the sentiment at the time Jesus taught upon this earth. Scorpions and snakes were used in a sense as to what a father would not give to his children. However, both of us recall having eggs and fish growing up. In our home "fish" was "fish sticks" which I recall was a real treat at the time. Apart from frying up some fish we caught I don't think we ever had "real" seafood till we were adults. But our moms never fixed scorpions or snake!

Our Lord's illustration presumes the caring relationship He has ordained that parents should have for their children. The statement, "If you then, though you are evil", intrigues me. I understand this to be in a comparative sense as Jesus shows us the caring heart of His Father. He contrasts our sinful and error prone nature with our holy and perfect God.  We never have to question God's motives when He is at work on our behalf, though it may take time (hindsight) and an earnest study of the Scriptures to understand His ways in some situations.

But it saddens me today to consider how many in our world have not had caring earthly parents. This is especially evident with absentee or abusive fathers and, to a lesser degree, mothers as well. There are many raised in homes with truly (not just comparatively) evil parents who give little attention to their children's wellbeing, but instead feed upon their own destructive addictions or selfish ambitions. Undoubtedly some readers can identify with having been raised by these kinds of parents. 

I pray that you are allowing God to heal the lingering memories that surface as He reveals His tender mercies to you each day. I'm so glad that, as believers, we have the power to break those bad patterns instead of repeating them. Our model of parenting should be based on Biblical principles rather than making excuses based on the old adage, "Well, that's the way I was raised!"  As historians often quote, "Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat the past." I digress a little on this point, but feel it's a very important underlying message as well for all godly parents.

One small portion of the text is especially encouraging, and I want to bring this message to an end with this perspective:
"How much more will your Father in heaven…" These powerful words bless and strengthen the child of God today and are true whether or not you've had a loving, caring earthly father.  God is more than willing to give us all that we have need of and lovingly supplies more than we actually need.

"Christ is showing us the heart of God the Father.  God is not selfish, begrudging or stingy and we don't have to beg or grovel as we come with our requests.  He is a loving Father who understands, cares, and comforts.  If humans can be kind, imagine how kind God, the Creator of kindness, can be." (Life Application Bible)

Praise God for Jesus' comparative illustration that gives us boundless hope for those requests dear to our hearts as we go to Him in earnest prayer. The most important gift that our Father could ever give to us is the Holy Spirit, whom He promised to give all believers after His death, resurrection and His return to heaven as mentioned in John 15:26. Our Father ever loves and cares for His own.

You're a good good father
It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help us to give good gifts to our children just as You give good gifts to us; gifts of love, acceptance, forgiveness, support; provisions of food and clothing, shelter and mobility, teaching them right from wrong by instruction and example, and reinforcing consequence that will help shape our children into caring, giving adults who live responsible lives; children that will care for us in our needy years even as we cared for them when they were helpless. Help us to give them personal attention and contribute to their feelings of worth and value. You are our supreme model for giving good gifts to our children, even as You give gifts to us that last for a lifetime and many non-material gifts of eternal worth that will be transferrable from earth to heaven. Help us to do the same with our children. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: In a footnote to the paragraph about breaking bad patterns from our childhood I have thanked God repeatedly over the years for my mother who came from an abusive home where her father was an alcoholic and a vile man. His father (my great-grandfather) was also an alcoholic and abusive to his nine children. Most all of them became alcoholic and abusive. How tragic that two generations (at least) were doomed to repeat a terribly destructive lifestyle. I never met my grandfather (nor any of his siblings) because he spent about twenty years in the state penitentiary before his death. He brought such shame and lingering pain to the family that we had no photographs of him and his name was not even mentioned while I was growing up.  How tragic!

My mother, along with all her siblings, broke the chain of alcoholism when they individually chose not to have it in their homes. This was very much the proper response since we've learned in recent years that when family members are predisposed to alcoholic tendencies we cannot know ahead of time which family member will be able to stop with just one drink. In fact, I have a cousin in recent years who broke from this pattern of abstinence and became an alcoholic – losing her husband and children and even spent time in jail because of repeatedly driving under the influence of alcohol. One person affected by this predisposed addiction is one too many, for the influence will likely trickle down to the next generations and so forth. 

River Trail bike ride

Susquehanna River from Marietta, PA 3/27/17
Yesterday afternoon we took another trail ride along and across the Susquehanna River from Marietta to Columbia across the river to Wrightsville. The above photo will enlarge and we road past the distant bridge to Columbia and then across the old 1930 Bridge to Wrightsville.
(Click to enlarge)

Susquehanna River from Marietta, PA 3/27/17
A view of the river looking the other direction upriver
(Click to enlarge)

Abandoned RR tunnel on Susquehanna River trail 3/27/17
Brooksyne riding through a long abandoned railroad tunnel.

Columbia/Wrightsville bridge 3/27/17
The Columbia and Wrightsville Bridge is over 1¼ mile long.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Good, Good father"  Video  Chris Tomlin

"Enough"  Video   Chris Tomlin

"I Must Tell Jesus"  Video  Vestal Goodman

"I Know He Cares" 
Video  Jonathan Butler

Here's an example of the "Wildest Indochina" series Video

Port of New Bedford

Val-Co  The company that makes watering, feeding and ventilation equipment and more of Joe Ulicny's photos.

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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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