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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Driving through Mount Joy after our church service on Sunday we saw this Amish open cart buggy going down Main Street. We imagine these boys were on their way to youth group, which is held on Sunday afternoons. Looks like the boys might be thinking how good a pizza might taste, except that this is Sunday and much to the credit of the Amish, they do not sell or buy on Sundays!
"As Iron Sharpens Iron"
The Blessing Of Godly Friendship
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"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24,25).
The Smucker laser crew; John, Jared, Deon, and Michael.
As regular readers are aware, Brooksyne and I serve as business chaplains to ten different businesses in Lancaster and Lebanon County. We visit these companies seeking to encourage the employees one on one as we express care and build friendships.
The laser crew we visit weekly at Smucker Laser works on huge laser cutting machines that use a sharp laser to cut through thick metal with astounding speed and preciseness. All though human history since Tubal-Cain began to forge bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22) people have worked with metals. Coincidentally, one of the saddest verses in the Bible is 2 Timothy 4:14 where we read in Paul's final chapter, "Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm."
In contrast to Alexander's troublemaking spirit let us consider how we may do good to others using a metal illustration found in the Proverbs! "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." This verse is a favorite among men (although the principle also works for women!) Many years ago I attended a men's conference with that theme and there is a national men's ministry called "Iron Sharpens Iron". I suppose the verse may especially connect with men because of how we may associate the proverb with tools we use.
As is the case with many of the Bible Proverbs there is nothing in the immediate context to further clarify the author's intended meaning. The Holman Study Bible notes, "As a file sharpens an ax or a sharpening steel a carving knife, good friends encourage one another to grow in wisdom and godliness, even if it requires painful criticism."
The Life Application Bible has this note, "There is a mental sharpness that comes from being around good people. And a meeting of minds can help people see their ideas with new clarity, refine them, and shape them into brilliant insights. This requires discussion partners who can challenge each other and stimulate thought - people who focus on the idea without involving their egos in the discussion; people who know how to critique the thought and not the thinker. Two friends who bring their ideas together can help each other become stronger."
Hebrews 10:24 expresses a similar concept, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
Whenever I (Brooksyne) read this verse I fondly recall the Christmas that my little brother, about 8 years old at the time, got his first pair of spurs to go on his cowboy boots, along with a new cowboy hat, and chaps. For those unfamiliar with a set of spurs they are metal devices with a small spike or a spiked wheel that is worn on a rider's heel and used for urging a horse forward. As I recall Jody wore them to bed that night (excepting the cowboy hat). I only wish I had a picture to post. He thought he was the meanest cowboy in the whole Southwest (Oklahoma, that is!). We had a number of riding horses on our farm and Jody rode them often. We had some stubborn horses that just didn't like to budge, but now with a kick of the spurs those horses took off like the speed of lightning. Little Jody became a purdy mean rider with all that cowboy apparel.
Well, in the spiritual sense we would like to spur you on today! The word "spur" translates a very rare Greek word (paroxusmos) found elsewhere in the NT only in Acts 15:39 where it describes the contention between Paul and Barnabas regarding John Mark, "The contention was so sharp between them." Tracing the roots of this word we find it comes from two words with the sense "to sharpen alongside". The writer of Hebrews uses it here in a positive sense to describe an essential Christian responsibility. We need to come alongside one another to keep each other sharp! The NASV uses "stimulate" and the KJV "provoke." The New Living Translation states, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works."
I've been sharpened over the years by thoughtful friends in Christ as well as those who have led by example. I surely hope I've been a sharpener as well when I could spur another on by my words, preceded by a sensitive spirit and prayerful attitude. It's encouraging to hear years later someone express how something I've said either in a sermon or to them personally had a lasting sharpening impact.
The sharpening itself may be thought-provoking and at times even painful, but in the end I am stronger and better for it. Sadly, for the sake of a surface unity and mushy love, we may neglect this sharpening task and seek to avoid it, whether we're the one sharpening or the one being sharpened.
This sharpening process may take place at home, at work or in church. It may be through an accountability partner. You just might come up against a sharpening friend today. How you react is a real test of character as God often uses other people to mold His character into our lives.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, I confess that in the process of being molded and fashioned into Your likeness I am often unyielding and struggle in the process of becoming more like You. Thank You for placing people in my life who model godly character and who courageously speak words of direction and correction when I most need it. Help me to graciously receive these messengers and promptly respond to the message they bring when it is supported Scripturally and spoken from a wise and loving heart. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Yesterday I went to a farm equipment sale at the M.M. Weaver & Sons near Leola PA. My neighbor, Leon, who works there, invited me thinking it might be something I'd enjoy. The above photo shows a partial view with even more equipment to the left of the photo. (Click to enlarge).
After the hard winter and light snow yesterday morning, with all the equipment being moved and people walking on the fields, it was very muddy. I saw all types of old order Mennonites and Amish gathered for the auction. Equipment was spread out over many acres with surely thousands of men in attendance. It brought back a memory of Brooklyn, my father-in-law, who enjoyed going to these types of sales in Oklahoma. Click here for auction poster.
Mud, mud, mud and more mud! (Feet selfie!)
The extensive horse and buggy parking lot at events like this is always an interesting sight where the "transport team" patiently stands by.
Yesterday we shared a photo of us holding two lambs in front of an old stone barn with a German inscription and asked for help with the translation. Ronn, a longtime reader and friend of ours shared that he had taken the photo to a breakfast meeting this morning with a small group of men which has been meeting for over 20 years. Three of the 8-10 who regularly meet have PHDs and the others from various professions. Most speak Pennsylvania German and have come to be known as the wisdom table at Vernfield, Pa. (Harleysville). One of our German experts was missing but we were able to read and interpret as.
Ist Bauet Durch Is Built by
Mich Mardi Nislie Me Mardi Nislie
Und Barta Nislie in and Barta Nislie
In Jahr Anno in the year
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Iron Sharpens Iron" Video Glad We had to go back nearly 35 years to a group popular when we were young Christians to find a song on this theme! We suppose there are others our age who will recall the group Glad.
"Faithful Friend" Video Twila Paris and Steven Curtis Chapman
"Across The Miles" Video
"I Will Be Your Friend" Video Michael W. Smith
"Circle Of Friends" Video Point Of Grace
"Extra Mile" Video Al Denson
2014 Iron Sharpens Iron Promo Video (This is the national men's ministry referred to in the message)
Demonstration of laser cutting machine Video
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
"We want to encourage you daily in your walk with Christ!"
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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 I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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