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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
The Mascot Roller Mill in eastern Lancaster County.
This photo could have been taken in 1930 except for our van!
Click on photo to enlarge
"Unpacking For Heaven"
Message summary: Are you unpacking for heaven?
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"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart" (Job 1:21). "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7).
The Mascot Roller Mill and Ressler family home are in a rural part of Lancaster County. Three generations of the Ressler family operated the mill and lived in the home from 1865 till 1977. The second generation Ressler couple had 8 children but only one married and had no children so there were no heirs when the third generation passed away.
So they did something very interesting and unusual with the property. For many years two siblings, Franklin and Anna Ressler, lived in the home and managed the mill. When they got up in years each of them packed all their belongings in a single suitcase and moved to a local retirement community. They established a foundation to manage the property with the stipulation that it be maintained exactly as they left it the day they left. And forty-five years later that stipulation has been followed scrupulously. When you enter the house it's like a step back in time.
Franklin Ressler actually worked at the mill the day he moved to the retirement home. He walked over from the mill to the house, hung up his coat and hat on the wall just inside the back door and that's where they still are hanging, just the way he left them that day, frozen in time! Touring the house the tour guide pointed to a bar of soap near the bathroom sink and said that it's the same bar they left behind, unmoved since last used by the Resslers.
The tour is free, paid for by the foundation. During our tour we were the only ones present and of course we had a lot of questions. The home is not only as they left it in 1977 but their lifestyle was more like people who lived in the early part of the 1900's. It appears they did not modernize or remodel throughout their lifetime in the house. They did not have a TV or refrigerator. The food was stored in the root cellar at a year round temp of 50 degrees. The phone was out on the porch so it wouldn't distract from family life and so their Amish neighbors could use it. In fact the foundation kept it in service for this purpose till about ten years ago!
Having shared the story of these elderly siblings who took none of their household treasures with them when they left their childhood home that last day, let's consider a spiritual application of "decumulation" for the believer. Yes that is a real word but we don't use it much. It simply means "disposal of something accumulated" (Merriam-Webster). We normally call it downsizing. When we are born we have nothing, yet through life we accumulate! Today let us consider a concept, "unpacking for heaven".
Today's verses teach the transitory nature of life and the futility of anchoring our hope in temporal things. They call to our attention two universal bookends we all experience as part of life's journey; birth and death.
We experience contentment when we focus on the eternal, not the temporal. Paul wrote in our second verse today, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7).
"For we brought nothing into this world." Bible teacher David Guzik writes, "A baby is born not only penniless, but even without a pocket to put pennies in!" Henry Alford comments... "The meaning appears to be,—we were appointed by God to come naked into the world, to teach us to remember that we must go naked out of it."
"And it is certain we can carry nothing out." When attending a believer's funeral it's not unusual to see a Bible placed in the hands of the deceased in the coffin, testimony to what he or she really valued in this life. In recent years we've seen baseball gloves, Nascar caps, cowboy garb, etc. indicating what that person valued. But one thing is certain; they really aren't taking the items with them! The material things that bring pleasure in this life or make a person wealthy hold no value in the world to come.
When we have a heart of contentment we view our material possessions and resources from an eternal perspective. We can't take material possessions with us no matter how much we value them, but Jesus taught that we can start building our treasure chest there by unpacking for heaven, even while we live here below: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).
A person's lasting wealth will ultimately be measured by the treasures he or she has stored up in heaven, not the treasures amassed here on earth.
Our material treasures will not pass from this life to the next, but the investment we have made to the kingdom of God through our service and use of our material resources will last for eternity. We can carry nothing out - but we can "send ahead" eternal blessing and reward through the wise use of our time and resources right now!
Bible teacher Steven Cole in his commentary on 1 Timothy observes, "If you are living for the eternal, not the temporal, you will experience three facets of contentment:
* Freedom from greed
* Freedom from anxiety
* Freedom from circumstances as the basis for happiness.
Today we encourage our readers to live for the eternal! Are you unpacking for Heaven?
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, would You show us through Your Holy Spirit, through the Holy Scriptures and by the examples of committed believers what it is to live for the eternal. It seems that we indulge in the temporal far too much and it prioritizes our time, finances, and interests. As we love You more, we love the things of the world less. We see them for what they really are - temporary, broken, and often sin-ridden. As we fix our eyes on You the things of this world grow strangely dim. We want to spend more time with You which will direct our thoughts and affections toward heaven. We want to deposit our investments there so that our treasure chest is growing with rust-proof, moth-proof, and thief-proofed treasures that last for all eternity. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
"Decumulation" in Merriam/Webster - The word is often used as a retirement strategy of spending down your assets.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Home website We certainly recommend this to local readers and to guests of Lancaster County! Their family history is filled with tragic loss but also loving devotion to the neighbors and farming community.
"Can't Take It With You" Video Bluegrass Christian Disciples Has a line preacher's have often said, "You never see a U-haul pulled behind a hearse".
"Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain" Video A song based upon 1 Timothy 6:6 written and sung by our friend Mike Book. We find it so helpful when Scripture is set to music and in many cases this becomes the basis for memorization.
Last night I picked up Brooksyne and Ester up the Harrisburg airport and we arrived home about 10:00 PM. It sure is good to have them home!
Brooksyne's note: While we had a very nice visit with our host, Marilyn, her family and caregivers, it was good to step back onto our familiar stomping ground. If you're on Facebook you've been seeing lots of photos from Ester who absolutely loves the ocean view. She had plenty of it since our location was right across the street from the ocean where Marilyn lives. She can never get enough of the palm trees while I was taken with the variety of coastal flowers and the constant barrage of pelicans that flew overhead - both white and brown. They flew in beautiful formation.
Mascot Roller Mill
Built in 1760 along Mill Creek in eastern Lancaster County. For nearly 250 years it has stood the test of driving rains, a rising stream, and howling winds.
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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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