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Monday, November 20, 2017

Brooksyne with historical demonstration in a one room school 11/17/17 (click to enlarge)
 Brooksyne was invited to share about the Mayflower Voyage of 1620 with 18 pupils, grades 1-8, at an Amish school last Friday. The plate on the right is filled with "hard tack", a very hard cracker-like biscuit, she shares with her audience to demonstrate one of the staple foods 102 passengers ate on the Mayflower voyage, only the pilgrims did not have fresh hardtack. Theirs was filled with maggots and weevils. (The two Turkey Hill trucks represent the length of the 90' Mayflower, about the same as two tractor trailer trucks end to end.)
(Click on photo for larger view)

"God Blessed Them" (Part 1)

Note: The first part of this week will be a short three part series based upon God's first words to humans following Creation.

Message summary: Today let us consider the blessing in God's design and determine we will be obedient to His commands. "In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

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"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number'" (Genesis 1:28).

Most all of our US readers are looking forward to Thanksgiving Day. In the course of our visits as chaplains to various companies and special holiday functions, this becomes a source of conversation that spans all racial, ethnic, religious, age or whatever else that often divides people. The concept of thankfulness is pretty universally understood (although not necessarily practiced). One our companies gave each employee a turkey and the Vietnamese ladies were especially excited, providing us a good connection point. All you have to do is draw with your hands the shape of a big fat turkey and they know just what you're talking about.

In one company we sat next to an elderly Plain couple at a banquet and inquired about their family and Thanksgiving plans. They told us they have six children, 32 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren. For their gathering they will meet in a school and expect to have over 100 direct family members for the meal (including in-laws). Another interesting aspect about this family is that,
except for one grandchild, they all live within 15 miles of each other. They, and their children, have certainly followed God's command to "be fruitful and increase in number".

Let us consider the Creation account in the Bible and specifically the creation of humans. Following the creation act "God blessed them". What a wonderful truth to muse upon. We all need to consider the manifold blessings of the Lord and Thanksgiving is a great time to focus on His blessings. Today let us consider the first blessing.

The Lord's first words to humans was a command and a blessing.
"Be fruitful and increase in number." He had directly created the first humans, Adam and Eve, but had placed a capability within them to reproduce. We are all a result of that divinely designed reproductive capability!

This reproductive mechanism was designed by the Creator at Creation and is part of what He called "very good" in Genesis 1:31. As far as humans the first children were born after the Fall (Adam and Eve's disobedience in the Garden of Eden). In my view this suggests the Fall occurred shortly after Creation. The incentive and result of being fruitful are both part of God's original creation design.

The blessing of the incentive to being fruitful:

God created a powerful incentive to "Be fruitful and increase in number" by making the act of creating new life one of life's greatest pleasures. The human sex drive is not a result of evolution or the Fall but is part of God's design at Creation. But God placed specific and easily understandable restrictions on this act. Later in chapter two we read, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). This forms the foundation of marriage and sexuality.

The Bible consistently and clearly teaches that marriage and sexual expression is solely to be between a husband and wife who are in a covenantal marital union.

Just as the tree was a test of obedience to Adam and Eve
in the Garden, these restrictions have been an ongoing test to the human race. We see failure all throughout the Bible times and human history with no signs of abatement in our own. Actually, with mankind's increasing rebellion toward God and His commands, we see an increase in these deviations from the original design to the point that evil is being called good.

The blessing of the result of being fruitful:

God created a powerful result of being fruitful and increasing in number by making children another one of life's greatest pleasures. Psalm 125:3 states, "Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him." When we visit with people a very common topic of conversation is children and grandchildren and the joy they bring, although most also acknowledge they deal with various challenges in raising a family, sometimes heartbreaking situations!

In God's design He has instructed parents not only to be fruitful in having children but to care for them as well.
Even before the first child was born God said, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). In considering this verse we correctly tend to focus on the establishment of a new relationship, but "leaves his father and mother" teaches the pattern that a father and mother will care for their children.

Just as rebellion against God has severely marred God's design for sexuality so has this rebellion severely marred God's design in the intended blessing of children. This is seen in many ways from elective abortion, child neglect and abuse and many other ways.

Today let us consider the blessing in God's design and determine we will be obedient to His commands. "In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your commands to Adam and Eve included that of being fruitful and increasing in number". They multiplied and here we are many generations later doing the same thing. Thank you for the blessing of our sexuality which is in your design that we be fruitful. We want to honor You and our mate by remaining devout and pure in our sexuality. As we consider our Thanksgiving blessings one of the first things we give thanks for is our family. Though few of us were raised in a family that was without its weaknesses, we're thankful that our parents cared for us, placed a roof over our heads, provided for our childhood needs and helped prepare us for our adult responsibilities. Psalm 68:6 tells us that You "set the lonely in families"; it's part of Your plan to fulfill our lives and serves as a model of Your loving and tender role as our Heavenly Father. May we love and serve our families well, for it is the greatest and most important responsibility we're given while dwelling here below. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Thomas and Percy at the Strasbug Railroad 11/17/17
This last weekend Thomas and Percy were busy at the Strasburg Railroad. Ester took this photo on the way to the Amish school last Friday. When available Ester travels with Brooksyne to her Mayflower appointments and assists her in setting up and distributing the sample foods to the audience.
(Click on photo for larger view)

Mast Farm corn maze, Lancaster County, PA (from Google Earth) Click to enlarge
I enjoy geographically exploring using Google Earth. I found this corn maze in eastern Lancaster County which appeared upside down on the map, making it hard to read. So I copied it and turned it around. This is the Mast Farm but it's too late this year for a visit to their corn maze!
(Click on photo for larger view)

Amish field work, Lancaster County, PA 11/17/17 (Click to enlarge)
Last Friday Jesse and Moses were baling corn fodder on a sunny Autumn day.
(Click on photo for larger view)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"You Alone Can Rescue"  Video  Matt Redman
  This was one of the songs Brooksyne sang yesterday as part of the choir as they led us in worship.

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

Finally today:
Friday morning I walked into the marketing department of "Kleen-Rite", a company that sells supplies to the car was industry. They had just made a video promoting the newest Little Tree air fresheners and gave me two of the samples used in the video. So I suppose the little tree air fresheners hanging in each of our vehicles are famous. We like "True North" the best! Video

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 27).

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns"
(printable webpage).

"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (webpage) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading:
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

We appreciated singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not have heard this season.

"In Everything Give Thanks"  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Best Loved Hymns

"Come Ye Thankful People Come"  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

"Give Thanks"  Video  Don Moen

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Community Choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

"Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul"  Video  Holland Davis

"Be Magnified"  Video   Kim Hill

 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

"I Want To Thank You"
 Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me"  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video  Willow Creek

"When I Thank Him For What He Has Done"  Video  The Cathedrals

"Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"Thank You, Lord"  Video  Dennis Jernigan

"Thank You For Loving Me"  Video  Tommy Walker

"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman

"For These Reasons"  Video  Lincoln Brewster

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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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