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Monday, April 1, 2019

Spookynook Farm, Lancaster County, PA 3/30/19 (Click to enlarge)
This weekend I got out for my first trail bike ride of the season on the Lancaster Junction Trail near Spooky Nook. Along the way I passed this spacious Amish farm with several barns and out buildings.

"Foolish Living"

Message summary: Today let's examine a very serious teaching in the Bible on foolish living when God called a man, "You fool".

Listen to our message on your audio player.

And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21).

McPickleToday is April Fool's Day, widely recognized all over the world as a day marked by pranks, hoaxes, and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, work associates, etc. Today you may be the  recipient of a good-natured prank so beware!

This morning Australia McDonald's announced the launch of its new 'McPickle' burger on Instagram, made from "juicy, flavoursome pickles layered between melted cheese, ketchup sauce and toasted sesame seed buns". Actually I like pickles so that doesn't really sound all that bad, though it turns out McDonalds was pulling their own prank on April Fool's Day!

Mollie as new puppyIn our family Brooksyne is the most creative prankster and our most memorable day on April 1st  took place on eight years ago. Several weeks earlier Ester had picked Mollie out of a litter of abandoned pups at the humane league. The day before Ester's birthday, March 8th, Mollie joined us and won Ester's heart and absolute devotion (just like her most recent puppy, Sadie Willow). Mollie's name was Reba at the humane league before Ester renamed her.

Early on April 1, 2011 Brooksyne woke Ester up startling her with news that she received a phone call from the Humane League. Unfortunately the puppy in our possession, Reba whom we now called Mollie, had been tagged with the wrong name and Ester was to take her back to the league. Reba was mistaken for another sibling so Ester was instructed to return Mollie and then she would be given the correct puppy.

Imagine just how stunned Ester was at the dreadful mistake and her reaction to returning Mollie was heartbreaking. Brooksyne kept a straight face, including a sympathetic tone as she sought to comfort Ester. Just when Ester was about to break into sobs, of course, Brooksyne pulled out the "APRIL FOOLS!" tagline for permitting herself to make up such a horrible scenario. It was a joke that has haunted Brooksyne ever since because Ester has never let her live down what a terrible joke she played on her - something unexpected from a loving mother which Brooksyne always aspires to be!

But, today on a much more serious note, let's examine a very serious teaching in the Bible on foolish living when God called a man, "You fool". The entire context is in a teaching by Jesus recorded in Luke 12.

I carefully probe this portion of Scripture and wonder why God called this man a "fool". After all, he was a successful businessman; working hard, prospering and planning ahead for retirement. Isn't that good? Isn't that the American way?

But his goal was bigger barns, temporal pleasure and security. It was all about "me". Life's energy was expanded in this pursuit. When he felt like he had attained this goal he could lean back feeling quite satisfied and say to his soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry".
But that very night his life was demanded of him. Jesus ends the parable with this probing statement: "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).

God calls this man and so many who live who live like him "fool" for a specific reason.

The man's foolishness was demonstrated in three ways:

1) He was self-sufficient. "And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come'" (v. 19). He forgot the source of his blessing, that God was in charge. It's God who gives us the ability to create wealth and our lives are in His hands. Fools believe they control their own destiny. "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1).

2) He was self-focused. "Take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."  It was all about him and his comforts.

3) He was rich to self but not "rich toward God" (v. 21). He did not use his resources for God and His Kingdom but instead selfishly considered only his desires.

We all need to keep these three questions before us:

1) Am I a barn builder, primarily focused on the present?
2) Am I a kingdom builder, primarily focused on the eternal?
3) Am I rich toward self or "rich toward God"?

What's your fundamental outlook on life today? Are you storing up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal?" (Matthew 6:19). Or are you storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal? (Matthew 6:20).

Today let us commit ourselves to being "rich toward God"! Let us seek first His Kingdom! Let us build our lives on the solid rock of Jesus and be like the person whom He called the "wise man" (Matthew 7:24).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are barraged with colorful ads, luring commercials, and attractive displays enticing us to make grand purchases. When "material things" consume our soul they capture our passion, our wallets and our time. You have commanded us to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness and all these things will be added unto us. As we do so we will be generous with our resources for the sake of the Kingdom. Help us to be generous with our time, talent, and treasures so that Your kingdom is enlarged and our investments have eternal dividend. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Additional study notes:

1) The parable begins, "The land of a rich man was very productive". We need to remember where all blessings ultimately come from and "Praise God from whom all blessings flow".

2) Brooksyne recalls that when she was growing up she was not allowed to call any person a fool based on Matthew 5:22. The prohibition in Matthew 5:22 is directed to us in regard to calling others a fool. However all standard translations use fool in today's text in regard to what God calls this man. In other places Jesus addresses those whom he call fools or foolish as well. (For example, Matthew 23:17 and Luke 24:25.)

3) I am intrigued by the man talking to his own soul (verse 19), and wonder if there's a deeper meaning to this? Some versions merely state that he was talking to himself but the Greek clearly states "soul" (see here for interlinear). "And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry'."

4) The issue was not his intent to build bigger barns but rather his motivation. What a blessing when God prospers a business or individual but they must be certain they remain humble and dependent on God.

5) "I will tear down my barns and build larger ones." Revealing my analytical nature I wonder why he just didn't propose building additional larger barns and still keep the old barns!

REYS Banquet 3/29/19
Friday evening we attended a banquet for REYS (Rainbows End Youth Services) which provides ministry to the youth in our community. Our table mates were mostly Lancaster Bible College students and REYS staff members. We were blessed to hang out with the young people and hear of their zeal for reaching the needy and winning them to Jesus!

What a joy to see DJ and Anna Mary Paglia. I met DJ shortly after moving to Lancaster County in 2001. He is a faithful minister of the gospel. He and Anna Mary will soon celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary!

DJ and Anna Mary Paglia with us 3/29/19
Here's a photo of the four of us together. Their son, Doug, and I share the exact same birthdate - October 14, 1954.

Phil Miller with Brooksyne 3/29/19
Brooksyne with Phil Miller, one of her former Sunday School students, who is staying faithful to the Lord. He works at WJTL, one of our local Christian radio stations and was running the sound system since we were meeting in the WJTL auditorium.

Photo of "Sin of the world" mural (click to enlarge)
This expressive mural is on the wall of the Rainbow's End Christian Youth Center in Mount Joy, PA. It is painted on the entire block wall of the gym.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Seek Ye First"  Video  Maranatha!

Finally today:

Mollie's first squirrel 3/29/19
Ever since we got Mollie she has aspired to catch a squirrel, watching them from our front window, darting out and sprinting to where she had just seen one whenever we open the door to let her out. She never gives up or loses interest, reasoning as we probably would, "What's the use"? But this weekend, what a surprise, she finally caught a squirrel!

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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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