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Friday, February 9, 2024

Church pies
Pies made for an Amish church gathering.
The Amish gather every other week for a church service in a home rotating from house to house throughout the year. Every service is followed by a meal shared together with the host family making pies. For the gathering they made total of 42 pies! Today Anna Ruth sent a pie over with Jesse and it sure was good!

"A Lesson From Bricklaying"

Message summary: Genuine faith often has a cooperative element that is expressed as we trust God and are obedient to His commands using the resources He has given to us. Today in your walk of faith you will likely face opposition of some type, perhaps even within the ranks of your own family; we urge you to remain steadfast and ever prayerful as you follow the example of Nehemiah, no matter the test you face! Keep building, one brick at a time.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat" (Nehemiah 4:9).

Jesse laying brickToday our friend Jesse is laying brick on the side of our new home addition. As best as possible we wanted it to match our existing house. There is an inevitable slight difference in color but it's coming along nicely. Along with repairing some fence that was removed for the project the exterior appearance of our home as seen from the road should soon be completed.

Brick is an ancient building material. The first reference in the Bible is how it was used in building the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:3.

Jesse is a stonemason, a trade which includes bricklaying. He showed us an older house where he was laying brick on the new addition and pointed out that the original structure, with the inner layer portion, providing the structural strength. (see photo below)

laying bricksMost modern brick homes, including ours, are frame constructed, and then have a single course of brick veneer which serves as the siding. There are also fake brick veneers that come as a sheet but Jesse told me that genuine brick is always laid one brick at a time. However there are now brick-laying machines or robots! (See below for video.)

A Scriptural principle is that growing spiritually is similar to bricklaying. This can also be applied to marriage. Like building a brick home we build a strong, lifelong marriage one brick at a time. Over the years those single bricks become solid layers with the Lord Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone.

Today's Scripture verse suggests a cooperative arrangement of faith and action that apply to many issues of life. In fact there's an application for each reader.

The setting for the book of Nehemiah takes place during the rebuilding of the long neglected walls of Jerusalem after the return from the Exile, "which had been broken down, and its gates which had been destroyed by fire" (Nehemiah 2:13b,14). These walls were vital for security reasons. They had been destroyed by the Babylonians some 150 years earlier and now they were being rebuilt. The text does not specify that brick was used but the principle in today's message is valid for our own age.

As with any major endeavor those with a heart to move forward in obeying God usually face opposition. As we seek to build our lives for Christ we will face opposition; are you facing any today? If so, you're in good company with many other believers who are engaged in conflict with the spiritual forces of evil.

The specific opposition in today's passage was led by a character by the name of Sanballat. This pesky fellow was persistent and creative in opposing the advancement of God's work! Perhaps he earned the unenviable title of "Mr. Discouragement". It seems that he gained many followers in his attempt to foil God's plan of rebuilding the ruined walls. Unfortunately some of his descendants remain to this day such as Danny Defeatist, Helen Hindrance, Oliver Obstacle, Patty Pessimist, Fanny Fatalist (you get the picture). We mingle with them regularly and we must be on guard or we will join their ranks.

In the immediate context of today's verse the opposition was threatening a physical attack, but there are many ways we will be opposed: if not in the physical, the spiritual. Paul reminds us that there is much unseen by the naked eye, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12,13).

Trustworthy and obedient Nehemiah writes about his God-given vision that included faith, prayer, sacrifice, hard work, tenacity and common sense. "We prayed to our God and posted a guard". Nehemiah led the people in both spiritual action (prayer) and practical action (posting a guard).

We place a high value on common sense which there seems to be a great lack of these days. As followers of Christ we believe God can help us develop Biblically informed common sense measures in our daily lives when confronting the many challenges we deal with regularly. It's not "unspiritual" to use this sense given to us by God!

Our Christian walk, ministry, marriage, vocation, childrearing and many other vital issues of life are much like building a house one brick at a time. This building project will continue all through life until we are called home.

Genuine faith often has a cooperative element that is expressed as we trust God and are obedient using the resources that He has given us. Today in your walk of faith you will likely face opposition of some type, perhaps even within the ranks of your own family. We urge you to remain steadfast and ever prayerful as you follow the example of Nehemiah, no matter the test you face! Keep building, one brick at a time.

Be encouraged today, Hebrews 3:13

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we thank You that You have promised to be our faithful Shepherd leading us in the paths of righteousness for Your name's sake. We are guided, not by our own strength or wisdom lest it be inadequate or faulty, but in the knowledge and wisdom of our all-knowing, all-powerful God. It is not by might, nor by power but by Your Spirit that we can stand against the tactics of the enemy. Like Nehemiah, may our first impulse be that of prayer and our second impulse be that of using the sense you have given us, one experience after the other, brick by brick as we build a godly foundation. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The Solid Rock"  Watch on YouTube  The Hymns Project This is the way I like to hear a hymn sung!

Special announcement (Day 2):

We have often written of our friendship with the Lapp family, who are Amish. Today Jesse is laying brick on one side of our new house addition. He is an experienced stonemason, which was what he did when I first met him over 20 years ago.

The Lapp family currently operate the Old Windmill Farm which, over the last several years, has become a very popular tourist attraction here in Lancaster County, being an authentic working Amish farm.

Jesse has begun a blog titled "Life On The Old Windmill Farm" chronicling life on the farm. His next post will be a description of an Amish church service which was hosted on the farm this last Sunday. We have attended an Amish service and it is quite a bit different than most of us are accustomed to.

You can read the introductory blog post here or sign up to receive an email every 2-3 weeks. We will publish the post on the Amish church service later today.

Jesse laying brick
Jesse is making good progress laying brick today and expects to have this wall completed by the end of the day.

Bricklaying tool
Jesse wants to know if any readers know what this tool is used for.
Scroll down for answer.

Brick wall
A view of the three courses of brick on an old farmhouse. The inner layers of brick were structural, similar to a framed wall in modern construction.

Bricklaying tool skate
The tool is called a skate and is used for forming the "rake" style mortar joints.

Meet SAM, the bricklaying robot  Video

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