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May 9, 2018

Planting corn 5/8/18
Planting corn on the Old Windmill Farm

"Don't Look Back!

Message summary: Don't look back!

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"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

We had a busy day Tuesday on our 42nd wedding anniversary. After several morning chaplain visits in Lebanon County we picked up our elderly friends, Jesse and Wilma Dourte, for a trip that Jesse has long been wanting to make; a visit to get acquainted with our Amish friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth, along with their seven delightful children at the Old Windmill Farm near Strasburg, PA.

Jesse was planting corn when we arrived but came in to visit and enjoy a cup of tea made from fresh mint leaves that filled the air as Anna Ruth placed them in boiling water on the stove before pouring us a cup.  It was a blessing to fellowship and see the elderly Jesse, now in his mid-nineties, and the younger Jesse in his late thirties, converse about spiritual and farming matters. Both have a heart for the Lord and an earnest desire to please Him. I enjoyed watching Jesse's younger son, Eli James, as he observed and listened intently to the men talk, expressing proper respect as the adults conversed.

After our visit Jesse returned to his planting and I snapped the photo above. As has often been said, "A farmer's work is never done."

Hen and chicksLast night the younger Jesse called me to let me know how much he enjoyed visiting with the elder Jesse and our conversation drifted to farming. On our visit I had watched several baby chicks scurrying around Mother Hen, but I sure got a surprise when she stood up and another ten chicks or so scurried out that had been resting under her. I told Jesse about that and, not surprisingly, he quoted a Bible verse in response. Can you recall? Matthew 23:37

We discussed how many Bible allusions, teachings and illustrations have an agricultural theme and I told him he should write a book, "Life Lessons From An Amish Farmer". Due to many older farming methods such as the use of the team horses/mules he would have insights that might be lost with those using only modern farming methods, let alone those studying these texts who have no knowledge of farming at all (like most recently written commentaries!).

In today's text Jesus uses an agricultural illustration to teach the vital importance of staying focused, persistent and faithful. "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). The apostle Paul seems to share this same concept in Philippians 3:13: "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead."

It takes a great deal of strength, concentration and perseverance to plow a field (or plant corn), especially using a team of horses. In plowing a field a farmer keeps the rows straight by focusing on an object in front of him, off in the distance (such as a tree). If the farmer started to plow the furrow, but kept looking behind to see how far he'd advanced, he would never be able to make straight rows.

Jesus used the above illustration to emphasize the nature of genuine discipleship; counting the cost of following Him. In our Christian life, amidst the multitude of distractions, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Let us be fruitful on our journey below even as we set our affections on our heavenly home above reminding us that no matter the struggles here on earth our victory is already determined for all eternity. We must not take our eyes off of Him. Most importantly, we don't look back!

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is the desire of every earnest believer to remain faithful to You. Once we put our hands to the plow we choose to cultivate Christian values, Biblical principles, expressed through godly actions. We fix our gaze on Jesus so that we don't lose our way. We join with others of the Christian faith who hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, even as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Amen.

Personal note of special thanks: We appreciate the many kind expressions we received yesterday acknowledging our 42nd wedding anniversary and Stephen's 39th ordination anniversary. On the way back from the Old Windmill Farm, at their request, Jesse suggested we eat at a Chinese Buffet on Fruitville Pike that they enjoy and so we did! It was extra special to be eating with a couple who have been married for 72 years as we celebrated our 42nd year of marriage, only 30 more years to catch up with them.

A reminder of who we are. Periodically we will get emails directed to the "Staff at Daily Encouragement Net". We wonder if some think this is some kind of big opeeration. But we are the staff, the only staff. We are the whole kit and caboodle!

For many years I have appreciated an email from a New Englander named Michael Katz who has a business assisting solo or small businesses. He often highlights the benefits of being small, using wry humor such as this post we received yesterday:

Today I ... received an email from a newsletter subscriber.

She asked: "Would whoever receives this email please forward my question to Mr. Katz?"

Whoever receives this? Who am I, Bezos?

But it reflects an implicit assumption about the email we receive from companies: There's nobody "back there" that you can get a hold of.

Which is why when you respond quickly and personally, you further distance yourself from your larger competitors.

(I forwarded her email to myself first, just to add a layer of bureaucracy between me and the outside world.)

His posts are here.

Corn planting mule team 5/8/18
The corn planter required a six horsepower mule team

Dourte's picking rhubarb 5/8/18
As we arrived from Lebanon County to pick up Jesse and Wilma we found them picking rhubarb and asparagus. Jesse did not want to show up at the Lapps' house without sharing fresh produce from their garden. Yes, they still do gardening, preserving and canning in their nineties.

Visit with Raymond 5/8/18
On the way over to the Old Windmill Farm we stopped to visit and pray with Raymond, a mutual friend, who is temporarily residing at Pleasant View Retirement Community in Manheim.

Amish children playing baseball 5/8/18
North of Manheim PA we passed this Amish school with the children playing softball during recess.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Have Decided to Follow Jesus"  Video  Pastor Richard Kannwischer tells the origin of this song. Very powerful!

"No Turning Back"  Video  Brandon Heath

"Glory to God Forever"  Video   Steve Fee Brooksyne's Note: The words of this song keep going through my mind since learning it sometime back in choir. It is a worship song and a commitment to glorify God forever.

Finally today:
Tom turkey on the Old Windmill Farm 5/8/18
Tom turkey on the Old Windmill Farm. Adjoining their acreage is Esbenshade Turkey Farm, the oldest turkey farm in America, started 160 years ago in 1858. You can read about the business here.

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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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