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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Jim and Dorothy Schmidt, 4/3/19
The Schmidts walked into a surprise for their 64th anniversary celebration.

"Blest Be The Tie That Binds"

Message summary:  We hope each of our readers have the blessing of ties that truly bind!

Podcast not prepared for this message

"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone'" (Genesis 2:18). "God places the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6).

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Yesterday our friends, Jim and Dorothy Schmidt, celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary. Last night we took them "out" for dinner not telling them where, only that we needed to make a stop at the Old Windmill Farm before we would later dine together.  Jesse and Anna Lapp, along with their seven children are mutual friends with the Schmidts and secretly "schemed" with Brooksyne to host the Schmidts anniversary celebration at the Old Windmill Farm aka the Lapp's home. We did indeed surprise the Schmidts and had a wonderful time of fellowship around the long table and later as we visited together in the living room.

In the course of life things don't always go as we plan, even in the life of a believer (as you well know!).  Several years ago Jim and Dorothy's younger son passed away taking a piece of their heart with him. Adding to their sorrow, they now have an estranged relationship with their remaining son, which brings on grief of a different sort. Making emotions even more conflicting for them is that their son celebrates his birthday on the same day that Jim and Dorothy celebrate their wedding anniversary.

We met the Schmidts at a conference in 2000 when we lived in New England before moving to Lancaster County. The Lapps became our neighbors in early 2003 and we introduced them to the Schmidts ten years ago. The three families have a somewhat unlikely friendship but mutually we help meet a relational need in each other's lives when we're altogether, since our four generations are much like that of a family setting where Great Grandparents, Grandparents, Parents and the Children gather to eat around the table, share together in fellowship, and express interest in one another's daily lives. It's an uplifting time to be with those who know you best and still love you most (a great line in the song, "I Am Loved" by the Gaithers).

Throughout Genesis 1 we have the repeated phrase, "And God saw that it was good" culminating with the phrase on the sixth day, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good". But in Genesis 2 we observe the first "not good" in Scripture, "It is not good for the man to be alone".   

Loneliness is a universal phenomenon that many experience in every culture, regardless of race, nationality, age, or any other factor. You can be in a huge crowd and still be lonely. From an old sixties song come these self-questioning words, "All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people where do they all belong?" Another song says it well, "One is the loneliest number".

The word "lonely" conveys such lonesomeness and isolation. Many lonely people are not necessarily distant from other people. In fact they may very well be surrounded by people in a city, office environment, or even their own family members. Even as the planet gets more and more populated and social media offers numerous formats for communication, it seems loneliness continues to spread.

Fundamentally it's because people have tried replacing the divinely appointed order of our relationship with God, family, and the fellowship of other believers with a host of artificial replacements. Even the meaning of "friend" has changed. Now people collect "friends" on social websites; people they may not even personally know or have any significant relationship with.

In the beginning God and man had close fellowship and since that time many have had the wonderful assurance expressed by David in the Shepherd's Psalm, "Thou art with me". That's the greatest antidote to loneliness! Hide deeply in your heart these words of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Surely I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

In the beginning God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" and made a helper suitable for him and thus ordained marriage. "God places the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6). We may also refer to our church body or Christian friends as the "family of believers". Jesus defined the meaning of the spiritual family when He expressed to his biological family in Luke 8:21, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it". Right now there are people in our lives that I can easily relate to as a spiritual parent, a spiritual sibling or a spiritual child. Today I urge you to treasure and nurture your biological family ties as well as your spiritual family.

However as I conclude I still consider the precious souls reading this who are lonely today. It may be that you are separated from your companion or soul-mate by death. Perhaps you've been abandoned by an unfaithful spouse, or are dealing with estranged children. I don't minimize your pain even though it is not presently my experience. Here are several considerations:
  • Lean heavily upon the steadfast love of the Lord that never ceases. You will find Him to be a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24b).
  • If you aren't already, become active in a local Bible-believing church with a caring pastor and congregation. For even closer relationships join a small group fellowship.
  • Often the quickest way to end loneliness is to reach out to another who has a need.  When we put others needs first, God has a way of fulfilling our own inner need.
  • If you're lonely due to past hurts and you remain guarded, seek God for healing and start giving of yourself again to cultivate a friendship. After all, Scripture says, "He who wants to make friends must show himself to be friendly" (Proverbs 18:24a). Take the first step by extending yourself as a friend; if a friendship is not reciprocated, reach out to another.
We hope each of our readers have the blessing of ties that truly bind!

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God.
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod.
For I'm part of the family, the family of God.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank You for the many Scriptures that reassure us we're never alone, such as the oft quoted comfort Psalm, "Thou art with me".  It's when we look solely to other people to cure our loneliness that we neglect the greatest cure which is looking to You and finding guidance and solace in Scripture which says, "Surely I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). Jesus' promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us enables us to endure even in the loneliest of circumstances. We are encouraged and strengthened by Your promises and by the presence of Your Holy Spirit which keeps us from being alone for all time. Amen.

We have been to the Old Windmill farm twice with friends the last several days and always enjoy sharing photos.

Brooksyne and Marsha with Curious George 3/31/19
Brooksyne and Marsha holding Curious George, the two week old goat that will be a farm favorite all summer like Daisy was two years ago. Little goats are much like little puppies, but even funnier. Their fur is still soft instead of coarse and wiry, their hooves are still tender not calloused, they don't fight but let you hold them like a young puppy. (That's Brooksyne's description of why she can't resist holding them while they're small.)

Old Windmill Farm barnyard animals 3/31/19
The barnyard is a favorite spot for Old Windmill Farm tour guests.

Old Windmill Farm barnyard chickens 3/31/19
Barnyard chickens.

Old Windmill Farm, curious George with curious Stephen 3/31/19
With Curious George even I enjoy holding him!

Old Windmill Farm garden and shed 3/31/19
A gardener can appreciate this soil all ready for spring planting. Jesse used "green manure" (cover crop) through the winter. On Saturday he turned it over into the soil. In several months this will be an impressive garden filled with fresh vegetables and colorful flowers.

Jim and Dorothy Schmidt with cake, 4/3/19
Jim & Dorothy cut the first piece of cake before we all indulged. "Jim & Dorothy, 64 years of enduring love."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Blest Be The Tie That Binds"  Video 

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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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