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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fear Not, Pennsylvania 6/20/17
Fear Not, Pennsylvania

"Fear Not"

Message summary: God continues to speak, "Fear not". We must act upon His loving command if we are to have deep abiding peace and growing trust in the One who truly cares for those who belong to Him.

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"After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1). "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:17,18).

Many things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand.
Oh, but I know Who holds tomorrow.
And l know, oh, I know.
Yes, I know Who holds my hand.
Fear not tomorrow. God is already there.
Already there.

For many years I have wondered about how a town named "Fear Not" got its name (sometimes the two words are run together "Fearnot"). Fear Not is located in a remote valley about 60 miles north of us. Yesterday following an early morning chaplain visit we moseyed through the ridges and valleys of that region to find the town. This part of eastern Pennsylvania has distinct mountain ridges with rich farm valleys between them.

I knew the general location of the town but needed help finding it. The first place I asked was a post office in Tower City (which is not a city and I don't recall seeing any towers). Actually it was named after Charlemagne Tower,  a New York–born lawyer who had come to Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in 1846 to work with the legal issues regarding land claims to large coal and mineral deposits in that area. The lady behind the post office counter didn't know where Fear Not was but suggested it was in the next valley. So we headed over another mountain and arrived in Hegins.  We spoke to a very colorful retired coal miner who directed us to
Fearnot Road.

Fernot Road, Fear Not, Pennsylvania 6/20/17
We found Fearnot Road (although it was spelled Fernot on this road sign) and drove through some outstandingly beautiful country for several miles and stopped at an Amish greenhouse for directions. The owner told us we had already passed it. We drove back and found a tiny hamlet of several homes. We stopped and spoke to several but no one knew how it got the name "Fear Not".

According to Wikipedia "The origin of the name Fearnot is obscure". According to a book, "The Origins Of Unusual Place-Names", published in 1958, the name "Fearnot" stems from the frequent fighting in the neighborhood; the early townspeople were not afraid of anyone.

I first heard the name when it was used as part of a church name, which intrigued me. I have long conjectured and perhaps wished it was derived this way: The early settlers were going through a tough time and a preacher rallied them together and challenged them by using one or more of the 63 references of
"Fear Not..." mentioned in the KJV Bible.* I like my explanation better than the other one!

Someone began collecting phobia words many years ago as a hobby and now has a list of 530 phobias! (Link below.) I am sure everyone will find something on the list they struggle with. After recent noteworthy fires in England and Portugal many will deal with a heightened sense of pyrophobia.

Certainly there are many situations that induce fear. Fierce storms, financial issues and terrorist threats number among so many other troubles that instill fear. Even dogs have phobias. Whenever we have a severe storm our younger dog Mollie is terrified!

There is a positive aspect of fear as well. We are told in Scripture to "fear God", although this is different than all other kinds of fear, having more the sense of reverence and awe. I have preached a sermon on the healthy, holy fear of God, something lacking greatly in the world and even in the Church.

Fear itself is first expressed in the Bible shortly after the transgression in the garden when Adam said to God, "I was afraid" (Genesis 3:10). The remainder of the Bible is full of many expressions of human fear for a wide variety of reasons. It's still that way today and people seem to keep coming up with new causes for fear!

I find great assurance in the tiny phrase found often in Scripture translated "fear not" in the King James Version (generally "do not be afraid" in many other versions). This "fear not" phrase is found from Genesis to Revelation. In today's Scripture texts we have both the first and last occurrences in the Bible.

Today we encourage you to listen carefully for the voice of our heavenly Father. He speaks gently to your heart reminding you to put your confidence in Him. Some of you are really struggling with fear as you read this. It's crippling you spiritually and emotionally and perhaps even physically. When I take the time to stop and really consider my emotions I realize that I experience fear and anxiety most when I'm not trusting in what God has said or what He has shown me through His character traits or what He has revealed to me through my fearful experiences in life.

God continues to speak, "Fear not". We must act upon His loving command if we are to have deep abiding peace and growing trust in the One who truly cares for those who belong to Him.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I will not fear for You have redeemed me and called me by name. You know when I pass through the waters and You have promised to be with me; when I cross through the rivers they will not sweep over me. When I walk through the fire I will not be burned for You walk with me. Though trials may engulf me and tempt me to be paralyzed by fear, I can overcome the enemy of fear just as Jesus overcame the power of death. May the resurrected power of Jesus subside my fears and doubts while building my faith and trust in the Holy One of Israel. Amen.
See Isaiah 43

Some scenes from our journey yesterday

Water lily pond near Tower City, PA 6/20/17
As we approached Tower City we saw a large pond covered with water lilies
and this is only 1/4 of the pond. We had never seen so many water lilies in one location.

Water lily pond near Tower City, PA 6/20/17
A close-up of one of the many lilies on the pond.

Coal miner memorial in Hegins, PA 6/20/17
The retired coal miner and enthusiast who gave us directions had set up a display at his home for coal mining. He worked with a number of men included on the "In Memory" plaque, one of three plaques that were exhibited. He indicated that a number of deaths were related not just to the dangers of coal mining but carelessness of the worker due to being in a hurry or taking a shortcut. It's pretty sobering to read the many names.

Miner display in Hegins, PA 6/20/17
The miner had displays of coal all around his home including this stove with Christmas lights to simulate the fire! We have the real thing and really appreciate the way it warms our family room downstairs.

Amish farm near Fearnot, PA 6/20/17
A pleasant colorful view from Fisher's Greenhouse near Fear Not.

PA farm valley 6/20/17
A scene of the valley from Fear Not

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Fearnot PA is located here (Google map)

* "Fear not" is found 63 times in the KJV using the Bible Gateway phrase search. A popular teaching is that there are 365 times in the Bible, one for each day that has this theme such as here. This short article provides a helpful explanation.

The Phobia List
The longest phobia listed is "hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia" . You may think that must be a fear of Hippopotamus but you would be wrong! It ironically is the fear of long words. In my line of work I sure hope I don't deal with many people who have "homilophobia" (fear of sermons).  But we should all have a healthy sense of "Hadephobia" If you are curious look that one up!

"Fear Not Tomorrow"  Video  The Collingsworth Family

"I Know Who Holds Tomorrow"  Video  Homecoming singers

For local readers: This coming Sunday evening the Collingsworth Family will be in Lebanon, PA for th
e Music in The Park summer concert series. See here for info. We plan to go over with some friends and perhaps we will see some of you as we did two weeks ago with the Booth Brothers.

Finally today
Amish spring wagon near Gratz, PA 6/20/17
Of course we see and post plenty of Amish conveyance photos from here in Lancaster County but this scene near Gratz, PA caught our attention yesterday as we passed this spring wagon. This little guy would be wise to sit down lest he be jostled out of the buggy!

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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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