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August 2, 2018

Zimmerman's Covered Bridge, Schuylkill County, PA 7/31/18
Zimmerman's Covered Bridge in Schuylkill County, PA

"Crock Pot Trials"

Message summary: Times of testing of our faith are difficult but necessary. James tells us to "consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds" and that's really hard to do, but as we seek God's perspective we urge you to do so today.

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"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).

Last Sunday during our weekend trip to northern Pennsylvania we attended a church near Wellsboro, PA and heard our longtime friend Darryl Eyler share the morning sermon where he is the pastor.

Crock potHis message was from the first chapter of James regarding how we should have joy during trials. He made a point that caught my attention concerning Christian growth sometimes being like a crock pot (AKA slow cooker), which most of you know is a cooking device that slowly cooks food. "We are never to stop desiring to learn and grow quickly. However, we need to realize the reality that many times we can be slow learners (like a crock pot or slow cooker) and have to face many trials and temptations in the process of growing in perseverance and full maturity in Christ. May we never give up, but continue to stay faithful in the process!"

That brings to mind a visit some twenty years ago to the Museum of Science in Boston. A trunk section of a huge tree from California was on display. It had been cut down in the 50's but had been living since before the birth of our Lord. Scientists had determined the age by the number of annual rings.

Brooksyne noticed a small detail that showed how they could determine years of drought and years of plenty by the size of the rings. A magnifying glass enlarged the rings, so the difference was quite obvious. She observed that in both years of difficulty and years of plenty, the tree had still grown, just at a slower rate, and then went on to make a spiritual application in our own lives.

We all have a common calling as Christians; w
e are all called to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

However I've pondered her observation further and wonder if our spiritual growth was determined, based on good times or based on trials, where would the enduring growth be? I think you know the answer! Our daily Scripture provides a familiar but much needed perspective on life.

Today some of you are going through a crock pot trial. It's been going on for awhile and you're just ready for it to be over.

The Greek word for trial that James uses in our daily text is very interesting. "Peirasmos" conveys a "putting to proof" or by implication, "adversity".  These times of testing of the faith are difficult but necessary.  James tells us to "consider it pure joy" and that's really hard to do, but as we seek God's perspective we urge you to do so today.

Thank You, Lord, for the trials that come my way.
In that way, I can grow each day as I let You lead.
And thank You, Lord, for the patience those trials bring.
In that process of growing I can learn to care.

But it goes against the way I am to put my human nature down
And let the Spirit take control of all I do.
For when those trials come, my human nature shouts the thing to do
And God's soft prompting can be easily ignored.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to learn to count it all joy when we encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. For a little while we may suffer grief in all kinds of trials, but these come so that the testing of our faith proves to be genuine—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire. Knowing that there is an eternal purpose in undergoing trials helps us to give praise, glory and honor to Jesus who is our supreme example, for He has overcome the world. Amen.

Studying oldest trees I read about "Methuselah", a Bristlecone pine located in Inyo County, California with an age of 4,847 years. See here. Mmm, where do you suppose they got that name?

In the course of our chaplain calls this week we stopped visited the Schuylkill County Fair.

Schuylkill County Fair goat shearing7/31/18
This goat is getting a good shearing except for the legs. Makes them look like they're wearing knee socks. When we saw the sheep and goats in their stalls it was hard to tell them apart as they were all sheared similarly. The woman shearing this goat said that's the rules they were given for showing their animals this year. The ears help viewers to tell the difference.

If we're not mistaken these are sheep (you can see they have more fur on their legs.)

Schuylkill County Fair painted gourd 7/31/18
An interesting use for those growing large gourds!

Schuylkill County Fair wood-carved tractor 7/31/18
Wood carved tractor at Schuylkill County Fair.

Schuylkill County Fair cucumber man 7/31/18
If you want to have a cactus theme at a party or picnic here's one way to create it using cucumbers!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"He Will Carry You"
  Video  Brian Free and Assurance

"Thank You Lord For The Trials That Come My Way"  Video

Finally today:
Schuylkill County Fair butterfly 7/31/18
As we were leaving the fair this beautiful butterfly landed at our feet and parked itself there. We couldn't resist a photo of the black and blue variegated butterfly.

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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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