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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Donegal Plantation Gristmill 3/2/19 (Click to enlarge)
Saturday afternoon I passed by the Donegal Mills Plantation Gristmill along Donegal Creek on Trout Run Road. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and for years attempts have been made at restoration and using it as a tourist attraction but presently the stately white mansion is occupied by an Amish family.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"Our Great Restorer"

Message summary: The atoning death of Christ on the cross is the supreme demonstration of God's love resulting in:
•    Our redemption from sin (Tuesday's message)
•    Our reconciliation to God (yesterday's message)
•    Our restoration to wholeness (today's message)

This week we have examined each of these three "r's".

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6).

Galen restoring tractor 3/2/19Galen and Nancy Martin, are our longest term local friends here in Lancaster County. We had dinner after church with them the first Sunday after we moved to this area in February 2001. We enjoyed that meal and the fellowship in their country farmhouse.

On Saturday we saw Galen in the
JB Hostetter Hardware Store after making our bi-monthly blood donation on the Bloodmobile there at Hostetter's. He told us he was restoring a 1949 Minneapolis-Moline tractor which his father had purchased the same year Galen was born. So, of course, we went over to his place to have a look!

He had the tractor in the equipment barn partially reassembled after a thorough cleaning and paint job. Other parts were on the floor awaiting reassembly. He was working on the wheels.

Tractor restoration is a popular hobby among farmers. We enjoy walking through the collection of restored tractors at our local fair.

I suppose it brings back sentimental memories of their childhood on the farm. It is also a great activity to get the grandchildren involved as Galen did. But watching Galen also provides an illustration for a spiritual truth concerning another type of restoration.

God's nature is to redeem, reconcile and restore. The greatest restoration is our relationship with Him. But then we can experience restoration with others.
One of the greatest faith builders are personal testimonies. We enjoy reading of how the Lord is working in the lives of others.

Al Worthley 7/11/13
Some stories take a long time to work out and these can be of special encouragement to others who are also in a long wait. We enjoy experiencing, observing and hearing about these stories and today we will share one. One summer we stopped by our chaplaincy office in Springfield, Missouri where I hold my official endorsement as a chaplain. We had lunch and visited for awhile with Al Worthley, my chaplaincy supervisor at the time. Al has been a tremendous blessing and source of encouragement to us in our chaplaincy ministry, both to companies and over the internet through Daily Encouragement.

Valla Martin with Brooksyne

We also visited for a moment with Valla Martin and had her photo taken with Brooksyne. I see Valla's name in my inbox practically every day with prayer requests from chaplains from all over the country.

Valla has a wonderful testimony. She spent most of her life not knowing her biological father. She knew his name, but very little else was known about him – good or bad. She always longed to know more about him. What was he like? Was she like him at all? Did he wonder the same things about her? Fear of negative answers kept her from pursuing her dream of one day finding him.

Eventually she thought, "Enough wondering is enough". If she found him for no other reason than to learn family history, that was okay. She had been very happily married for 33 years, had two children and three grandchildren, so her life was full. Well, almost full. If he didn’t reciprocate her feelings, she could go on. She had made it this far just fine. But, what if???

On August 12, 2010, she threw caution to the wind, sat down at the computer, and asked a simple private question on Facebook to the man she thought must be her long-lost dad: At 2:56 pm she wrote: "Are you the Dean from Kansas who has a sister named Barb?"

She shut the computer down and didn’t look at it again until the next morning. Little did she know that later that day at 6:48pm, he had responded: "Yes I am. My heart gave a little jump when I saw this on my email. I've not used Facebook much, so I don't know much about using it. You are beautiful by the way. This is a lot more answer than you asked for, hope you don't mind. Please let me know all about you and your family. I'm thrilled to hear from you."

From there phone numbers were exchanged, and the first phone call happened the next day. An hour passed by in a flash. So much to know! Where to start?! It didn’t matter! Valla had found her daddy! And guess what? He only lived about an hour away! He could have lived anywhere, for all she knew!

He had grown up and was deeply repentant of his previous behavior. He wasn’t the irresponsible young man who had abandoned her and her mom so many years ago. He had thought of her often and always thought of her on her birthday – Valentine’s Day, and hence the name "Valla". He LOVED her! He had become a Christian, and they shared the same conservative values and outlook on life. They processed information remarkably the same. They had the same type of personality and sense of humor. They "got" each other.

Valla Martin with her father
A week after the first interaction, they were able to meet face-to-face. So much communication had happened in that first week that it was a very comfortable meeting. Since then, they have seen each other almost every week. Phone calls happen several times a day – sometimes very short calls, sometimes they solve the world’s problems, sometimes just plain silliness, but always just because they CAN!

It wasn’t long before Valla learned that her dad was experiencing health problems – SERIOUS health problems. He only had one working kidney, and its function had begun to decline. With no hesitation, Valla offered one of her kidneys IF she was a match. (Of COURSE, she would be a match!) The question was never:  "SHOULD she do it?" It was always: "Why SHOULDN’T she?"

In the fall of 2012, Valla went through all the testing to confirm that she was indeed her dad’s match. She passed the tests with flying colors. On January 22, 2013, the kidney transplant occurred.  Both donor and recipient recovered very nicely. On April 8, 2013, her dad was told that his health following the transplant is far better than many other kidney recipients.

Valla had looked for maybe just medical history. Turns out she became part of his medical history. She found her identity and a sense of belonging that was totally unexpected! That's the blessing of restoration and a tremendous example of our daily text.
"He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6).

Today's Bible text has an interesting distinction. Before scrolling down for the answer do you know what it is?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we rejoice with Valla in the restored relationship she has with her birth father. How wonderful that they share the same faith and same values enabling them to build a loving bond as father and daughter in their later adult years. There are millions of fatherless children who don't know their birth fathers and feel unloved, unimportant and unwanted. We pray for responsible parenting and Biblical morality to be restored in our land. How desperately we need a revival where people will be saved, delivered, and reconciled to You, and seek to reconcile themselves to those they have cast aside. We pray for those who are still in the waiting period for a miracle such as Valla's. May they find their sense of belonging and acceptance through You, our loving Father, and as joint heirs with Christ who gave His all that we might be adopted into Your eternal family. Amen.

Note: The message is already long but let me share a burden of ministry. We see so many broken marriages and families typical of the age we live in. We are heartened by single fathers seeking to be good dads for their children. But we also see a growing, inevitable phenomenon. Fathers and mothers who really just walk away from any sense of connection and responsibility and in some cases have no shame.

Galen restoring tractor 3/2/19
Galen, along with two of his grandchildren, standing beside his tractor restoration project.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Bluebird on suet tractor 3/6/19
We have a tractor suet feeder right outside our office window and were pleased to have a female bluebird during the preparation of this message!

Bluebird on suet tractor 3/6/19
We were looking out into the bright sun so the colors aren't that vibrant but Brooksyne is thrilled to have bluebirds. At one point the bird was right on top of the steering wheel giving the illusion of a bird driving the tractor. I guess in this case the tractor's source of power comes from the suet instead of an engine. We think he might have been singing the tractor song! (Video)

Gibble Road horses in snow 3/1/19 (Click to enlarge)
We passed these horses out in the snow after last Friday's snow along Gibble Road.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Today's Bible text is the last verse in the Old Testament!

"Restore"  Video   Chris August  Especially touching for marriages

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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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