“Remembering Our Roots”

Rural scene in central New York
Rural scene in central New York

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Remembering Our Roots”

“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past” (Deuteronomy 32:7).

Late Thursday afternoon I drove our Amish friends to central New York for a visit with their relatives.  Due to Brooksyne’s severe reaction to poison ivy she was unable to make the trip.

To get a feel of the area Ester and I went to the Farmer’s Museum near Cooperstown, New York.  We experienced a bit of “living history” as I spoke to a blacksmith, pharmacist and others who explained how life was lived in the mid 1800’s in a rural village in upstate New York. I enjoy living museums that takes historical documentation and brings it to life both orally and visually in the form of a townspeople who bring a community to life during a different time period. When living in New England we often visited Old Sturbridge Village.

In a sense we also experienced a form of living history as we stayed with the Amish group in a very rural setting over a couple of days. Being accustomed all my life to having electricity it took some mental and physical adjustment to acclimate myself to living as people did in past generations. (A fuller account of our visit follows today’s message.)

That brings to mind a long sermon Moses preached just prior to his death and just before the Israelites entered the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership.  In fact Bible commentators consider the book of Deuteronomy to be a single message.  In Bible College we were required to read all 34 chapters of the book in one sitting to get the feel of it being a sermon rather than a book divided into chapters. In today’s text Moses gives two commands:

“Remember the days of old.”  Our roots are so important. I believe this verse refers to a recollection of how God has worked in the past as recorded in the Scriptures. In the specific context it likely refers to the history we read of up through that time in the Bible and more recent history for those people such as their long 40 year sojourn in the wilderness.  But it also has an application for our own walk with the Lord and our own “days of old”. As we look upon our individual past it is important to consider the milestones in which the Lord has brought us along on our earthly pilgrimage.

“Consider the generations long past.” The people of God had a powerful oral history with accounts carefully passed down from generation to generation. Since Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) all we have recorded prior to his commissioning was passed down orally or by divine revelation.  We now have the benefit of the Holy Bible and thousands of years of inspired written material.  We need to consider each one of these generations and learn from their example, both good and bad.

Each of us has roots. Some memories that co-exist with these roots are pleasant while others are not. But as we look back we see God’s faithfulness in His provision, His direction, and His tender care. This gives us a faith lift for the situations we are currently facing and the various uncertainties that may come to us from many different directions. May the Lord help each of us to see the presence of His hand along our earthly journey till we enter the Promised Land.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, as we consider the days of old we see Your faithful hand guiding us along life’s pathway, in our own lives and in the generations that precede us.  Deliverance from our sins, provision for our every need and guidance for our every step keeps us firmly anchored like a tree planted by streams of water. Keep us faithful and trusting until we cross over to the Promised Land.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

For those who may be interested these are some photos and reflections of our experience with the Amish this last weekend.

Bucking hay on an Amish farm 6/11/10
I helped the men out in loading the hay loft in the barn with hay. The first summer of our marriage in 1976 I worked for a hay bucking crew in Southwest Missouri and handled thousands of bales like this over several months! That was when I was young, strong, and very healthy!

Since the Amish don’t drive they rent vans and hire drivers to take them on long trips but I did this as a token of our friendship.
We took a full van up with seven adults and seven children. We left Thursday afternoon and got up to the settlement in New York about 11:00 PM. We saw the gas lanterns in the home slowly come on as the family awoke to greet us.

They had a guest cabin that Ester and I slept in but it didn’t have electricity of course so it was quite an adventure. They did provide us with a gas lantern.

It was rural farmland where many of the farms are abandoned or dilapidated. However it’s very good cropland and the Amish are restoring the land in their characteristic diligence.  Lancaster County Amish are moving to new settlements due to overcrowding and high land prices here in Lancaster County.

Friday morning we had breakfast with 22 around the table, including the family of eight we stayed with. It was quite a meal and there’s just something about being in the country air that seems to make you extra hungry!

After breakfast Ester and I made a special excursion to nearby Cooperstown NY. Some of you can imagine what we went to see! (We’ll share more about that tomorrow.)

Friday evening they wanted to go see a new family that had just moved up from Lancaster County so we piled 22 people in the van and excitedly drove (slowly and carefully) through the country roads to see them. These folks just love to visit with one another; men with men, children playing energetically outdoors with one another and the ladies together looking at flowers or working in the kitchen.

Saturday morning at breakfast they talked excitedly about wanting to go and see what they called the “Nebraska Amish”, a group that is more conservative in regard to their lifestyle than the Lancaster Amish, who comparitively are more modern and are probably looked on by the Nebraska Amish as “liberal”.

I ended up taking the men so the kids could stay home and play. We crossed the Mohawk River and entered into the Nebraska Amish settlements in an area interestingly known as “Stone Arabia” (which they got a kick out of referring to it as Saudi Arabia) Note: I am quite sure there are no Amish in Saudi Arabia.

We were not disappointed. Their homes were much plainer than the Amish in Lancaster County and they had what seemed even to my Amish friends some rather peculiar religious and lifestyle customs.  The men looked out the van as we slowly drove through the area with the same wide-eyed inquisitiveness as someone from New Jersey driving through their settlements in Lancaster County!

One of their most interesting restrictions is that they don’t believe in having any refrigeration on the farm whereas the Lancaster Amish run generators to keep their milk cool.  So they only milk about ten cows and place the milk in old-fashioned milk cans and then drive the milk in a horse and buggy to a nearby community tank maintained by the milk co-op.

At one point Moses, the most senior member of the group, said, “I would sure like to get out and take a picture of this.” I said, “Moses, what I would like is a picture of you taking that picture!”  Moses is one year younger than me but has eight children and 23 grandchildren (all under age 10)!  His wife passed away this last winter so he is going through a major life transition. We sure enjoyed visiting with one another.

We had plenty of humorous moments. As we drove through the area we thought we had passed the last house in the settlement when we saw some horse emissions on the road, indicating a horse and buggie was ahead of us. One of the young fellows suggested jumping out of the van and seeing if the emission was still warm!

We left about 2:30 on Saturday afternoon for the long drive back to Pennsylvania. The kids were amazingly good travelers and were so excited about stopping at the “Flying J” truck stop, which apparently is their custom. All along the way they kept talking about the “Flying J”. with the same degree of excitement as many English kids would about going to Disney World! We actually ate at a McDonalds next to the truck stop after fueling up and the kids feasted. By the time we got them home and then dropped off the rental van and trailer and returned home Saturday evening it was about 11:00. It was sure good to sleep at home even after just two nights on the road!

Ester on Amish scooter 6/11/10
Ester rode an Amish scooter. The Amish use these to get around on rather than bicycles.

Red barn and hay loft on New York farm
I like the look of an old red barn and open hay loft!

Horses on New York Amish farm
The farmland is beautiful with lush green forests right up to the pasture.

Amish children playing on hay wagon
With my interest in photography it’s hard for me not to take or show photos of the people. But in sensitivity to their customs I will not use any photo in which the face might be recognizable.  However the mothers requested I take a photo of their kids so they could remember what their children looked like when they were little, something I am occasionally requested to do. I took this photo of the children playing on a hay wagon from the hay loft. They played hour after hour, making forts and hiding places with the hay bales, and were as happy as could be.

Australian Cattle Dog puppy

Please take me home!
(One of two Australian cattle dog puppies left from a litter of eight)
Ester took this charming photo!

Chihuahua puppies

Chihuahua puppies
The kids just loved playing with these puppies!

Brooksyne’s Note:  If I were to show photos of my three days while Stephen and Ester were in New York it certainly would not be as colorful or interesting.  Poison Ivy doesn’t make for pretty pictures. Thanks to all who sent suggestions, well wishes and prayers.  I finally went to the doctor on Friday, 8 days after the rash started.  He told me I had a severe reaction to the Ivy and prescribed prednisone.  It is working for which I am very thankful.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

“When Its All Been Said And Done”  Video Robin Mark

“Faithful One”  Video Selah

The Farmer’s Museum

Information about the Amish in Stone Arabia, New York. Based on my research I don’t think they were actually the Nebraska Amish, but another group. I suspect that my friends used the term Nebraska Amish in a generic sense to describe Amish groups apart from their own. Here’s an interesting article.

Location in New York state where this Amish settlement is (Google map)

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update


“Ancient Boundary Stones”

Photo of Amish buggies for sale (photo by Doris High)

Amish buggies for sale

Photo by Doris High

ListenListen to us share this message on your audio player.

“Ancient Boundary Stones”

“Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers” (Proverbs 22:28).

Photo of boundary stake on Kraybill Church RoadAcross the road from our house is a rusty old iron pipe driven deeply into the ground. It’s been there for many years marking the boundary between two farms.  This pipe and other forms of boundary markers (generally stones in the Biblical period) testify to a great Biblical principle first articulated by Moses in the law in Deuteronomy 19:14.*¹ This law is a practical expression of the eighth commandment which states, “Thou shalt not steal.”

Today’s text has a powerful spiritual application as well.  In the entire area of faith and morality God has established “ancient boundary stones” in His Word.  They are primarily found in the Law, but are elaborated on and repeated throughout the entire Bible.  Our spiritual ancestors through the history of the Church have set a pattern for living by these ancient landmarks.  These may be our fundamental doctrines, our Biblical pattern for living, or deeply held spiritual convictions.

In ancient Israel boundary lines were sacred because all property was a gift from the Lord. A timeless application is that life is a gift from the Lord and He has set forth His boundary stones for our good.

Photo of boundary stoneBut these ancient boundary stones have always been meddled with and are now being tampered with, moved and even removed in ways that our forefathers would never have imagined.  Many are being seduced and deceived by radical, revisionist, blasphemous attempts to reinvent Jesus, reinterpret the Bible and redefine marriage, the most foundational of human relationships. Would anyone have believed when I was born in 1954 that within the next 50 years homosexual “marriage” would actually be a source of serious debate?

Man has always been tampering with boundary stones, moving them one way or another to suit his whims, sometimes removing them altogether.  The cultural and intellectual elite purport to know best and so many of the undiscerning masses follow.  “Get rid of that ancient boundary stone”, so many shout, “we don’t need it anymore”.  The sacred teachings of Scripture are so often mocked and ridiculed. *²

I appreciate this note from a study Bible. “The landmark (or boundary stone) may be a spiritual standard, established by our spiritual forefathers, God-honoring and God-blessed. There is always a tendency for each new generation to try to modernize the ways of their fathers and, in view of the universal law of decay, this is more often a mistake.”

I thank God for the ancient boundary stones expressed in His Word.  Psalm 119 is best known as being the longest chapter in the Bible but it’s also a chapter that constantly reinforces the Psalmist’s love for God’s spiritual boundary stones with verses such as, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97).

May the Lord give us a love for His Word and His boundary stones along with a resolve to abide by them even when others seek to move them.  In fact I expect mankind to keep moving and removing them until the inevitable judgment. But as for me, I’ll respect the reason they’re present and leave them alone.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, there is no limit to all that You have provided for us such as material blessings, physical health, the love of family and unending promises that You have already fulfilled or that are yet to be fulfilled.  But You have also set visible and well-defined boundaries that are for our own good. Temptations to either toe the boundary line or cross over into enemy territory will always be there, but You give us the power to resist and discernment to recognize the alluring deceit of the evil one. Help our eyes and hearts to remain focused on Your innumerable blessings and provisions as we stand against the god of this age who seeks to destroy us. May we not move the landmark of the faithful to join with the ranks of the faithless.  In Your name, Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

“Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess” (Deuteronomy 19:14).  Moving the boundary stone is perhaps the basest form of property theft and actually merits a curse in Deuteronomy 27:17.

*²  In my lifetime I have seen such an increase in this scornful attitude toward those who take the teaching of Scripture seriously. It seems that when I was younger people who did not believe still had a respect for those who did, but now many openly mock those who do. I manage several blogs and generally the opening page to blogging control panels has featured blogs, apparently selected by the techs that manage the site. In my observation when a religious blog is featured it is someone with a mocking attitude. Yesterday a featured blog title (actually a youtube video) was, “Are Christian’s Stupid?” (and the conclusion of the scorner was yes, they are.)

Today’s Suggested Music

and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.

In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

“Ancient Words” Video

Cerwin and Doris HighToday’s lead photo of Amish buggies for sale was taken by our friend Doris High who has posted an interesting collection of photos she took on a visit this last weekend to a Lancaster County “mud sale”.  Today she posted more photos of food sold at the sale.

Several years ago I went to a mud sale and took several photos at that time.

Here’s a descriptive slide show concerning a mud sale along with music.

This Lord’s Day our Amish friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth and their four children will be joining us for church, Sunday meal, and a visit to the Longwood Manor assisted living center as we minister there in the afternoon.  We are sure looking forward to a great day in the Lord and in our fellowship as well.

Article about boundary stones.

In the course of my study I found a sermon based on this text. Here’s the outline.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.


Please help us continue this free encouragement ministryMinistry Update