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April 25, 2018

Farm lane near Strasburg, PA 4/23/18 (Click to enlarge)
Monday afternoon Ester snapped this photo as we passed this long farm lane lined with flowering trees on N. Star Road near Strasburg, PA
Click on photo to enlarge

"The Everlasting God"

Note: FYI we did not post a message yesterday. We had an interesting Monday afternoon and evening which we will share about below our message. Arriving home about 8:00PM we had a troubled soul stop by to talk to us for about 1˝ hours. After that, we were just too tired to work on a message since we also had to leave early on Tuesday morning for chaplaincy visitation.

Message summary: God continues to be the everlasting God and He is waiting for all who will to call on the name of the Lord. Let us do so today! Can you think of places in your life that have a special spiritual significance?

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"Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God" (Genesis 21:33).

Today's lead photo shows a long line of flowering trees along a lane near Strasburg, PA. The overwhelming majority of trees are planted in nature as seeds fall from mature trees, a blessing to our planet and a potential nuisance for those who carefully manicure their lawns. Our Donegal Creek trail, starting right across the road from our house, takes us along an abandoned township road lined with trees on each side. These trees weren't intentionally planted but grew naturally at the side of the tilled fields. Of course, trees in the forest start this way as well.

On the other hand, we also purposefully plant trees where we want them, usually from a seedling or small tree. Last fall we planted a flowering cherry in our front yard and are pleased to share that it is budding, but not yet flowering, in part due to our late winter type weather this year.

Trees can be planted simply for our enjoyment or we might plant them in relation to an event, in remembrance of someone special or for healthy produce such as fruit or nuts. Although trees had been around since creation today's text is the first record of a human planting a tree.* "Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba".

The Tamarisk is a small tree that can grow as high as 25 feet tall. It is only mentioned 3 times in other standard translations. Based on photos it bears resemblance to a cedar tree.
Frankly I'm not sure, nor am I able to find in a commentary with certainty, the relationship of planting the tree and Abraham calling on the name of the Lord.

However here is one thought from the text. Trees are the oldest living things on earth. When we plant a tree, regardless of our age at the time of planting, many of them will outlive us. I'm sure that's the plan for a statewide 10 million tree restoration effort here in Pennsylvania featured in our newspaper today. (See link in our resources below.)

"And there he called upon the name of the LORD, the everlasting God." This followed the birth of Isaac and the treaty at Beersheba. For the very first time in Scripture Abraham makes a declaration using the term "everlasting God" that is abundantly revealed all through the rest of the Bible.

One commentary refers to the tamarisk tree as a "Memorial Tree". Perhaps anytime Abraham came back to this tree it was reminder to him of this significant time when he called on "the name of the Lord, the everlasting God." Perhaps the tree planting became "holy ground" where Abraham prayed regularly and grew in his relationship with God even as the tamarisk tree grew in size and strength. 

Hopefully we have such places in our own lives. In many cases it's not a tree but a wooden altar where we have done business with God. Years ago we had the final service in a country church we had been pastoring, in an interim role, and folks were given an opportunity to express what the church meant to them and memories they stored from the past, long before our arrival. A man pointed to the altar where he had given his heart to Christ at 17 years of age in 1974. Interestingly this was at a time when one of our first Lancaster County contacts, Pastor Earl Martin, was guest preacher and challenged the congregation to follow Christ. 

Of course God continues to be the everlasting God and He is waiting for all who will to call on the name of the Lord. Let us do so today! Can you think of places in your life that have a special spiritual significance in your walk with the Lord?

One thing I know that I have found
Through all the troubles that surround
You are the Rock that never fails
You never fail

You never change,
You're still the same
You are the Everlasting God
You will remain
After the day is gone and things of earth have passed
Everlasting God

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we call on You, our everlasting Lord and God who existed before the foundations of the world were established. From everlasting to everlasting You reign supreme in the heavens above and in our hearts below. You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last who loves us with an everlasting love. We want to be a faithful people who call on Your Name regularly and exalt You above the heavens as we glorify You here on earth. In the name of Jesus we praise You.  Amen.

* Noah, following the flood, planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20)

Brooksyne's Note: I read that in ancient Israel, a tree was planted when a child was born; a cedar for a boy, a cypress for a girl. In fact this may be the basis of Abraham planting the tree in today's text since it follows Isaac's birth. As the children grew up, they cared for their own trees. When they were married, the bridegroom and bride stood under a canopy made of branches cut from the trees that had been planted in their honor years earlier. Thus, the Jewish tradition formed a strong bond between birth and marriage, and helped to develop a love for trees and a sensitivity to the wonders of nature.

Amish Schoolhouse visit:  Monday afternoon we travelled the back roads of Lancaster County to visit an Amish school where we were invited, along with our friends, Jim and Dorothy, to watch and even participate with the 18 children, K-8th grade, in their learning activities. One teacher with 18 students of various ages, would be a major challenge for educators these days. But this very pleasant teacher had the entire class under control, with each one learning at their particular age level, helped by older students in reading and math drills. Even we shared in the fun as the children visited us in the back of the classroom reciting answers as we held up flashcards. These one room schoolhouses are plentiful throughout the rural part of our county and serve the children in the immediate vicinity. Of course the parents take a very active role in their child's school, providing classroom supplies, and making sure their child behaves well in school (something our public and even private educational institutions lack today).

Amish one room schoolhouse in Lancaster County PA 4/23/18
The schoolhouses are simple structures with no electricity and two small outhouses.

Interior of Amish one room schoolhouse in Lancaster County PA 4/23/18
When we are inside of the classroom it makes us wonder if this is what a schoolhouse looked like when our grandparents attended school, or for that matter, our parents (if you're in our age bracket).
(Click on photo to enlarge)

A view as the children head home.
When school was dismissed the children gather at the front of the school and all leave together, riding their colorful scooters home alongside one another, until they head a different direction that leads them to their "Home Sweet Home".
(Click on photo to enlarge)

A view as the children head home.
Another view as the children head home.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Old Windmill farm guest in Lancaster County PA 4/23/18
The Old Windmill Farm tours continue and it's neat to meet international visitors, including two couples from Malaysia, who visited the farm on Monday and others from Australia. It's so neat to observe the guests enjoying the animals.
Photo by Ester

Pig on slide at Old Windmill farm in Lancaster County PA 4/23/18
Jesse has taught the pig to climb the ladder and slide down a slide for a treat. I (Brooksyne) teased on Tuesday, "I'm impressed with the pig being able to slide down, but you would really amaze me by teaching the pig to climb up the slide." But then, if the pigs did that they'd surely lose their reputation for being fat, as they would expend way too many calories climbing up!

Jim, the lamb, Old Windmill farm guest in Lancaster County PA 4/23/18
Jim, the Baby Doll lamb, perched on his mom's back.
Photo by Ester

Brooksyne with Mylady at White Oak Display 4/24/18
Off the farm and back to work on Tuesday morning Brooksyne is visiting with a young lady named Milady (pronounced "My lady"), who was so named by her father as his only daughter. Interesting, since both of them have names in which they often need to explain its origin!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Everlasting God"  Video  New Life Worship

"Our Great God"  Video  Fernando Ortega
Eternal God, Unchanging
Mysterious and Unknown
Your boundless Love, unfailing
In Grace and Mercy shown.

"Lord of Eternity"  Video  Fernando Ortega

Statewide 10-million tree-restoration effort launches on Mount Joy-area farm

Finally today:
Amish bench wagon team in Lancaster County PA 4/22/18
The Amish have their church services in homes. This team and wagon is transporting the benches along North Star Road to the next location where services will be held.

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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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