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“A Consideration Of Three Crosses”

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 10:03am
“Good Friday”



“A Consideration Of Three Crosses“  

Message summary: This Good Friday let us, through faith with thankful hearts, accept God’s only solution for our sin problem. Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals–one on His right, the other on His left” (Luke 23:33).   “The man in the middle just keeps on giving His love away” Wayne Watson


One of the blessings we have often seen as we travel, particularly in the southern states, are three crosses up on top of a hill or mountain that can be seen from the highway as a witness to the landowners’ faith. Normally Christians use a single cross as a symbol of their faith but the three crosses also have rich symbolism as a reminder of the three crosses on Mount Calvary.

Jesus, crucified on the middle cross, vicariously dying for the sins of all mankind. Two criminals, representative of the human race, hung on crosses on each side of Him. These three crosses each represent:

1) The cross of rejection. One criminal represents the masses that to the very end rebel against God and reject His plan of redemption. But rarely is such sneering so openly expressed, and this by a dying man as he hurled insults at Christ. This unnamed criminal is merely expressing the viewpoint of so many who reject God’s only remedy for our sin problem. This criminal died in sin.

2) The cross of repentance. The other criminal represents those who repent of their sins and place their faith in God’s redemptive plan. He came to realize that he and the other lawbreaker deserved the death penalty and was quite frank when he spoke: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). His faith is humbly expressed in these words: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Our Lord’s word to this criminal, one of His seven recorded last sayings, brought eternal hope to the repentant criminal as well as spiritual hope to millions throughout the centuries, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” This criminal died to sin.

3) The cross of redemption. On the middle cross Christ died once for all time for all people. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7). “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19,20). Peter, a witness to these things, stated, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18a). Our Saviour died for sin.


Today is a day of decision. For many it will be a reaffirmation of a decision to follow Christ previously made. This evening at our Good Friday service we will remember and worship our Redeemer.   But for others this can be the day you move from rejection to repentance and place your faith in the Great Redeemer, Jesus Christ. The cross of redemption was singularly accomplished by Jesus Christ. Are you living your life in rejection of Christ or in repentance? Let us, like the repentant criminal, acknowledge that “we are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41).

This Good Friday let us, through faith with thankful hearts, accept God’s only solution for our sin problem. Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should’st die for me?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, thank You for the record in Scripture that makes us more than just curious bystanders during the crucifixion of Your precious Son. Jesus’ recorded conversation with the repentant criminal helps us to see how immediate redemption for all humanity was being provided through His death on the cross. Thoughtful reflecting on this day brings about grief and sadness as we recall the rejection, pain, and suffering Christ underwent. In Luke 22:53 Jesus spoke to those who seized Him in the garden as a time when darkness reigns. Though He was speaking figuratively in the garden the next afternoon literal darkness fell upon the earth as He breathed His final breath. Surely all hope dissipated for those who stood by our Lord as He hung on the cross. But I’m so glad we don’t have to wait for the rest of the story to unfold since we know, through Scripture, the final outcome and the way of salvation Christ made possible for us. Thank you, Father, that You loved the world so much that You gave Your one and only Son to die for our sins, that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. We call upon the Lord Jesus to save us, cleanse us from our sins, and to indwell our hearts. Amen.
 


For many years we have appreciated the solid ministry of Robert J. Morgan, a pastor in the Nashville area and writer of many books. Several years ago we attended the church he serves and visited with him for a few minutes after the service. Brooksyne became a Facebook “friend” and he uses Facebook for ministry with thoughtful quotes and enriching materials. Yesterday we were both blessed by this powerful perspective concerning the news du jour.


We always enjoy sharing photos of sights we see along the way. Yesterday we visited six different company locations and drove through rural Lancaster County.   Along 322 we saw a flock of sheep and lambs right up next to the highway. Looks like the one young lamb was up to his neck in hay. Not sure what drew him to bury his head but he stayed like that for the entire photo shoot of about five minutes.
  Two horses pulled this cart on the road south of New Holland.
This movable chicken coop is on a farm wagon
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   Today we share a selection of songs on the Cross in a variety of different styles.   “I Should Have Been Crucified”  Video  Whisnants   “I Will Glory In The Cross”  Video  Larnelle Harris (Our friend david penley suggested this song)
  “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?”  Video  Sovereign Grace Music (Congregational style)
“Man In The Middle”  Video  Wayne Watson (Quote in message from this song)
  “The Man In The Middle”  Video  The Cupps

“At The Foot of The Cross”  Video  Kathryn Scott

“Love Held Him To The Cross”  Video   Harvesters Quartet

“It Is Finished”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“The Old Rugged Cross”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band
  “I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary”  Video   Gaither Vocal Band
  “He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions”  Video
  (This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week


The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

Here’s an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

Sunday

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19

Monday 

  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

  • Jesus’ authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6

Thursday

  • The Last Supper:  Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  John 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12

Friday

  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
 

“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Worship leader: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Worship leader: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9

Worship leader: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3 Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cb9d5dc9cfa7', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5cb9d5dc9cfa9', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“When The Hour Had Come”

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 9:30am
And I love that old cross
Where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain!
  “When The Hour Had Come”
 

Message summary: “The hour” was that singular moment in space and time for which Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” had come to this world. Oswald Chambers states, “The cross is the crystallized point in history where eternity merges with time.”

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him” (Luke 22:14). “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

Today is often called Maundy Thursday, also referred to as “Holy Thursday” or “Great Thursday” in some denominations. The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command” or mandate. The “Maundy” in “Maundy Thursday” refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another.
  Since it is now Thursday of Holy Week let us consider the events that likely took place on this day. Maundy Thursday is the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper.

Consider the twelve apostles: it was only several years earlier they had left all to follow Christ. What an experience they had listening to Christ’s wonderful teachings, witnessing the astounding miracles, being edified through their close fellowship and enjoying the breaking of bread together.

At the time of His first miracle Jesus said “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come (John 2:4). Earlier in Christ’s ministry the opposition had tried to seize Him but could not, “because His hour was not yet come (John 7:30). 

But this night was different; the careful historian Luke introduces His gathering with the disciples for the Passover meal with this solemn description, “And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him”.

Now the Twelve leaned around a table and Jesus shared what surely seemed to them a confusing illustration inserted into the familiar Passover meal: “My body which is given for you, my blood which is shed for you.”

“What is He talking about?” they surely wondered as they whispered amongst themselves. They must have looked at each other to get a sense of whether anyone was connecting or understood Jesus as He again spoke of dying. Just days earlier He had come into Jerusalem to great fanfare and shouts from the crowd recognizing that He was the King. That’s what they wanted. And that’s what they got, just not in the way they expected.

“The hour” was that singular moment in space and time for which Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” had come to this world. Oswald Chambers states, “The cross is the crystallized point in history where eternity merges with time.”

May we who believe and follow Christ reaffirm our commitment to this great and loving God. We pray that the desire of Paul’s heart would also be the theme of our prayer: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

The atoning death of Christ on the cross is the supreme demonstration of God’s love resulting in:

•    Our redemption from sin
•    Our reconciliation to God
•    Our restoration to wholeness


On this Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, let us rejoice in the ultimate demonstration of Christ’s supreme love.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, I glory in the Cross of Calvary from which Your Son, my Lord and Savior, died for my sins. I boast only in Jesus who lifted the heavy chains from my enslaved soul freeing me to soar to newness of life. Thank You, God, for demonstrating Your love toward me in that You gave Your one and only Son to die for me. At just the right time while I was still powerless, Jesus died for me. Because of this incredible act of love and forgiveness I have reconciliation with You, my Father, in heaven. Praise be to God through Christ Jesus my Lord! Amen.


Here is a listing of different Scripture verses where Christ speaks of “the hour” in the sense of today’s message:

“Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners'” (Matthew 26:45).

“Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him” (Mark 14:35).

“Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners'” (Mark 14:41).

“When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table” (Luke 22:14).

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

“At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come” (John 7:30).

“He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come” (John 8:20).

“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified'” (John 12:23).

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

“After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you'” (John 17:1).

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”  Video  Phillips, Craig, and Dean   “In the Cross of Christ I Glory”  Video  Grace Community Church
  “It’s Still The Cross”  Video  Gold City   “What is Maundy Thursday?” (from gotquestions teaching site)
  (This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week


The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

Here’s an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

Sunday

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19

Monday 

  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

  • Jesus’ authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6

Thursday

  • The Last Supper:  Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  John 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12

Friday

  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
  “It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Worship leader: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Worship leader: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9

Worship leader: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3 Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cb87ec9984ac', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5cb87ec9984ae', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“The Blessing Of A Dying Seed”

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 11:41am

Early yesterday morning we passed this country pond on Mount Wilson Road in Lebanon County. We have a photo of this scene from last winter and hope to capture it in each of the seasons. (It was one of many photos that we are “wowed” by after we have already passed the view so we turn the car back around, return to the spot and capture it on camera so we can share with our viewers.)
(Click to enlarge)
  “The Blessing Of A Dying Seed”
 

Message summary: Christ became as a dying seed. His death was necessary so that He might impart new life and everlasting hope to a lost and dying world.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).

We are seeing a lot of agricultural activity in our area, mostly field prep and manure spreading as the farmers prepare for spring planting. We especially enjoy seeing the old-order farming methods reminding us of methods used in previous generations.

Jesus used a lot of agricultural illustrations in His teaching since it connected to the people of His day and also has universal application. Today He might use an illustration such as “hit your home button” or “reboot your computer”.

Today we’re going to consider a teaching in John 12:20-36 following His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and during what we now call “Holy Week”.

It begins with a request from some Greeks who were in the city to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip with this request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip left so he could tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

The text doesn’t tell us whether these Greeks actually saw Jesus or if they were able to speak to Him. In fact they are not even mentioned again in this passage! However I have wondered if one of these Greeks might have been Stephen who later had a leadership role in the early church and became the first Christian martyr recorded in Scripture. *

Instead it launches into a teaching in which Jesus begins, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”. He knew what was ahead for Him culminating with His sacrificial death on the cross in just several days. The next several verses He powerfully and solemnly speaks concerning His glorification. I love to study the Bible and examine His teaching point by point but today let’s just consider the daily text.

“I tell you the truth” Jesus begins by saying something we can always be assured of when He speaks, yet prefacing a statement with these words will likely capture the listener’s attention even more, as if to say, “I’m going to go beyond the surface and tell you the deeper or underlying meaning unknown to others.”

“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.” Jesus frequently used illustrations from agriculture in His teaching ministry and, as far as I can tell, this is His last one recorded in Scripture.

Farmers are preparing their fields, servicing their equipment, and buying seeds. The imprudent farmer could keep that seed, show it off to others, even remind himself of previous bountiful harvests but its effectiveness would be nil as it would remain only a single seed. Instead, the productive farmer is interested in multiplication. He will drop that seed into the ground and bury it. This is easily observed and indisputably true.

In Lancaster County farmers plant a lot of corn. During the planting season I’ve often observed the farmers as they plant the corn (sow the seed). A relatively small bin of seeds is attached to the planter for each row.
After the growing season at harvest time I also observe the combine as it works the same field. One large truck after another comes alongside the combine and soon the truck is filled to overflowing with corn kernels (seeds). And so the law of dynamics is proven in Jesus’ teaching, “But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

So, too, Christ became as a dying seed. His death was needful in order that He might impart new life and everlasting hope to a lost and dying world. Jesus willingly died and God resurrected His body. So, too, our sinful nature must die so that God will resurrect our spiritual nature in Christ. As a result we will bear much fruit as we walk in the righteous ways of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself declared, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for many. He could have possessed His heavenly glory alone, without humbling Himself as a lowly servant being made in human likeness. He could have entered heaven alone even after He took on the nature of man, by His own perfect righteousness without the agony of suffering or death, but then we could not have been saved. The entire human race would have been lost. We thank You, God, for Jesus who became obedient to death, even death on a cross. As a result You lifted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name. It is through the obedience of Your Son, Jesus, that many are made righteous and we are forever grateful. In Jesus name we give thanks. Amen.

* The churches first recorded internal dispute is recorded in Acts 6 with the issue being “the Hellenistic Jews (Jews who had adopted the Greek language and culture) among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. The apostles established the first deacon board to oversee this. They wisely chose representatives from both Hellenistic (Greek) and Hebraic men for this task. Stephen, the most prominent of the seven, had a Greek name.


Yesterday morning we passed this Mennonite school in rural Lebanon County. It was still brisk but the children were bundled up and out in the sunny weather for recess.   Today we will share some photos from a bike ride we took late yesterday afternoon along the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. It is one of the many outstanding rails to trails in our area.
  Shock’s Mill Bridge (Railroad)
(Click to enlarge)
 Notice how the bike path is partially flooded. During really high water they have to close the trail at this point. With many heavy rainfalls this year it’s likely been closed often.
  I made an interesting phone call as we stopped to enjoy this scene. Our friend, Jesse Lapp, had called and told us that an individual named Tom, along with his family and friends, stopped earlier in the day at the farm and asked if he knew Steve Weber. Turns out, Tom is a Daily Encouragement reader who was visiting the area from New York primarily to see the show “Jesus” at Sight and Sound. Traveling through rural Lancaster County he had seen the Old Windmill Farm sign and recalled our references  to Jesse and the Old Windmill Farm. Jesse took down his phone number and passed it on to me. I had a nice talk with Tom who has been a reader for many years. The best we can determine is that he likely signed up to receive the messages at a conference in Boston about 20 years ago where we had a small DE display. He is now retired but at that time was a college professor in New Hampshire. We enjoy learning more about our readers and especially enjoy meeting them face to face.
  The White Cliffs of Conoy are a result of the waste from a limestone operation over 100 years ago. Now it’s been considered the world’s first industrial waste tourist attraction! (Click to enlarge)   This peaceful view of the Susquehanna River is from Koser Park in Bainbridge, PA where we turned around, returning on the trail toward our van. (Click to enlarge)   I just don’t have the zoom for a clear picture but we could see the bald eagles along  Susquehanna River. Actually this is an attempt using the River Trail’s binoculars that are built on a platform near the viewing point of the bald eagles.   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “At the Cross”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band   “My Saviour’s Love”  Video  Kingdom Quartet
  “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”  Video  Kathryn Scott   (This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week


The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

Here’s an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

Sunday

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19

Monday

  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

  • Jesus’ authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6

Thursday

  • The Last Supper:  Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  John 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12

Friday

  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
 

“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Worship leader: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Worship leader: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9

Worship leader: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3 Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cb74951ae2cc', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5cb74951ae2ce', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Watch Out!”

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 9:30am

Lititz Welcome Center Sunday after our church service we rode on a bike trail beginning in Lititz, PA (Click to enlarge)
  “Watch Out!”
 

Message summary: Today we consider a grave word of caution that believers all through the church age should solemnly heed: “Watch out that no one deceives you”.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Jesus said to them: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you'” (Mark 13:5). “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11).

It seems like rarely a day goes by that we are not lied to. We regularly (in spite of being on the “do not call” registry) receive calls from telemarketers lying to us such as beginning the call, “Thank you for your recent stay at our Hilton Resorts” even though we haven’t stayed at a Hilton (that I recall) in over 20 years.   Lying comes in many forms and from many different sources. In many ways it seems that truthfulness and no spin information is the exception. So often it seems the agenda or the narrative is considered before the actual truth of a matter.

In so many ways we need to heed our Lord’s solemn words in our first daily text, “‘Watch out that no one deceives you“. This is true in the day by day transactions but of far greater danger is the spiritual deception that blinds the unbeliever from the Truth and seeks to get the believer off the right course.

After the Triumphal Entry and just before Jesus went to the Cross He shared two lengthy teachings recorded in the Bible. All three synoptic Gospels record a teaching our first daily verse comes from, known as the Olivet Discourse, that was likely given on the Tuesday or Wednesday of Holy Week. The Olivet Discourse is so named because the Lord shared this as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives. The other lengthy teaching is found in John’s Gospel which records our Lord’s close personal instruction to the disciples in the Upper Room (John 13-17). This most likely took place on Thursday of Holy Week.

The Olivet Discourse is a long message that has a lot to say about the entire Church Age and the end times. However Jesus begins with a solemn warning: “Watch out that no one deceives you”.  Deception was first introduced in the Garden of Eden when Satan planted doubt in Eve’s heart causing her to question God’s ruling regarding the forbidden fruit. All through the ages deception has abounded and still abounds in our world today.

Since Christ gave His loving and instructive caution to the disciples many forms of deception have appeared all through the ages of the Church. And this is still true today. This may be a self-proclaimed individual or a belief system contrary to revealed Biblical truth. In my own lifetime false christs and false teachings have come and gone and surely more will be coming, culminating with the antichrist.

Today we need to not only listen but heed the words of the one and only genuine Christ. We have in the Holy Scriptures a most certain and dependable record of His life and call to each of us. This is a grave word of caution that believers all through the church age should solemnly heed: “Watch out that no one deceives you.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we are confronted with deception on many fronts every day, so much so, that we can be deceived without even realizing it. Would You help us to watch out and be on our guard so that we are not deceived by man’s words, no matter how convincing or how charming their personality, nor how cunning their craft. Help us not to fall for Satan’s deceptive tactics that have brought down believers throughout the church age. We seek You for strength and discipline and we search the Scriptures for discernment and the true revelation of who Jesus, the Son of the Living God, is. It is in His holy name that we pray, Amen.  


Today we will share some photos from a bike ride we took along the
Warwick-to-Ephrata Rail-Trail on Sunday.

Beginning in Lititz we rode a portion of the new trail and, although curtailed from riding the entire trail by misty weather and a rain forecast, we intend to return in several weeks to ride the entire trail.
(Click to enlarge)
The trail passes the Johannes Hess House built in 1778.
  Lititz has many interesting old homes. Lititz has been designated “the coolest small town in America”.   It was misting during our entire ride, so it was nice to see a blotch of color here and there such as these tulips.

I, Brooksyne, took this photo of the stones with the tiny flowers (probably weeds) that were clustered between the rocks in the Lititz Welcome Center pool (take a look at our main photo above). I overlooked them during several photos I took and then my eye was drawn to them after spotting these miniature lavender flowers. It reminded me of how easy it is to only notice the bold, colorful, large things around us and miss some of the natural beauty that peeks out of rocks, ditches, or even cracks in a driveway.
 



Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “All My Hope”  Video  Gold City This song has really been blessing me with a reminder of where my hope should be!   “All My Hope”  Video  Crowder   “We Live for You”  Video  Calvary Church worship team  

(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)


Major Events of the Passion Week


The 4 gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

Here’s an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

Sunday

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19

Monday 

  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

  • Jesus’ authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6

Thursday

  • The Last Supper:  Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  John 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12

Friday

  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)
 

“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Worship leader: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Worship leader: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9

Worship leader: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3 Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cb5d8fc10717', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5cb5d8fc1071a', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“For This Purpose”

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 10:50am
Early Saturday morning a mist arose just beyond our front lawn and lifted soon afterward.
(Click to enlarge)
  “For This Purpose”
 

Message summary: Thank God that Jesus knew His purpose and fully completed His mission!   Listen to our message on your audio player.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23). “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (John 12:27,28).

This week we especially consider the most intense period in Christ’s life on earth, beginning with the Triumphal Entry (Palm Sunday) through Resurrection Sunday. This is often called Holy Week or Passion Week. An astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the four gospels cover this period beginning with Christ’s Triumphal Entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. However the majority of this material covers just three days; the day before and the day of His Crucifixion and Resurrection Day.

Jesus knew His purpose was to die for the sins of the people. The inspiring song, “If That Isn’t Love” states, “He left the splendor of heaven, knowing His destiny, ’twas the lowly hill of Golgotha, there to lay down His life for me.”

Let’s consider the Scripture portions that highlight His human redemptive purpose:

1) When He left heaven (the incarnation): “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings You were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about Me in the scroll—I have come to do Your will, O God'” (Hebrews 10:5-7).

2) During His childhood (when He was with the teachers of the Law): “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

3) When He began His ministry: “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel’ He said” (Mark 1:14b,15).

4) When He approached the end of His earthly ministry Luke records our Lord’s resolve to complete His purpose: “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

5) Throughout His ministry He regularly informed and reinforced to His disciples His stated purpose. However it seems they didn’t really grasp it until after He was resurrected. This verse is so informative in this regard: At first His disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him” (John 12:16).

6) In Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost he fully understood this purpose: “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23).


In the daily texts He is teaching at the time of the Triumphal Entry and forthrightly states, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  His heart is troubled and He asks aloud whether He should appeal to His Father to save Him from the hour. “No”, He emphatically states, and with resolute resolve He declares, “But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.”

Thank God that Jesus knew His purpose and fully completed His mission!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we are among the redeemed because Jesus accepted His mission on earth and wholly completed it. He drank from the bitter cup fully giving His all to provide forgiveness for our sins. We who have sought forgiveness are the redeemed and now have a mission to freely share the life-changing message of salvation with those who so desperately need to hear it. We do so in Jesus’ name and through His power. Amen.  


Early Friday morning we passed Cherry Hill orchards. Such a short time to see the flowering trees!
(Click to enlarge)


Saturday night we went to a Gospel concert at the Good Shepherd Chapel at Lancaster Bible College. We heard two groups we have enjoyed for many years.
  Brian Free and Assurance   The Karen Peck and New River touring bus sure grabs your attention.   We only know a relatively small percentage of those who read or listen to our messages. It’s always encouraging to be approached by readers we don’t personally know. At the concert we sat in front of a reader who recognized us from the photos on our posts. Merle and Gayle were over from York County to attend the concert along with their young grandson. We are so grateful for those who find value in our materials!


Friday morning we were at Kleen-Rite for a company meeting. It was nice to hear the good report but especially hear Keith (red shirt), who runs the company, express his encouragement, appreciation and love for the employees. Due to varying locations and the need to keep operations going they had three meetings. Kleen-Rite is the country’s largest wholesale distributor of car wash equipment and supplies. It’s based in nearby Columbia but has distribution warehouses in Texas and Las Vegas and a huge distribution center right here in Mount Joy. We have been serving as their company chaplains since early 2016.
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   Today we will feature music from the two groups we heard on Saturday night. Brooksyne adds some notes:

  “Say Amen”  Video   Brian Free & Assurance  This song is “impossible” to listen to without responding with “Amen.” For example here’s one line:  “Has anybody here found Him faithful. Say Amen.” You can’t just sit there, you’ve got to affirm those words with “AMEN!”
  “I Want To Be That Man”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance (A wonderful song about a man dedicated to living a life sold out for God, we think a tribute to Brian Free’s father.)
  “He Will Carry You”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance (Brian shared his own story of a major health difficulty he is currently facing, so I’m sure when he sings this song the message hits him very personally. “He will carry you when you can’t go on”)
  “He Can Take It”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance   “I Know I’ll Be There”  Video  Karen Peck & New River (I have several favorites of Karen Peck & New River, and this is among them. She wrote this song so people wouldn’t wonder where she’d be when she died. Karen told her 85 year old mother, “Mom, if I go before you, I’ll be there.” Her mother responded, “Oh, I’ll be there. You can rest assured I’ll be there!” Even as a young teen-ager, upon learning of an individual’s death, I would sometimes hear, “I don’t know if he was a Christian or not.” Not knowing that person would spend eternity with God bothered me a lot. As I grew in my faith I wanted to make sure that people would never have to guess where I’d be after I departed. I wanted my words and life to reflect Christ in such a way that people would say upon my death, “Brooksyne has gone to glory!” Ester doesn’t like for me to talk about it but I grow more excited about heaven everyday.  I hope and pray that you have the same kind of assurance today.)
  “Finish Well”  Video   Karen Peck & New River   (Another favorite! We sang this at our spring choir concert, “Until Then”. The words are so appropriate for those of us who have been on our spiritual journey for a long time. We want to “finish well”.
  “That’s Why They Call It Grace”  Video  Karen Peck & New River
  “Four Days Late”  Video  Karen Peck & New River (A blockbuster, if that’s the right word! This song will fill your heart and excite your spirit as you listen to the words about Lazarus rising from the dead. Jesus was four days late but He was right on time!)
  Border collies are amazing dogs! See this brief video.


(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ’s life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week


The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3½ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ’s triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God’s greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

Here’s an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It helps us to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

Sunday

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19

Monday 

  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46

Tuesday/Wednesday

  • Jesus’ authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6

Thursday

  • The Last Supper:  Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  John 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12

Friday

  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30

Sunday

  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

“It’s Still The Cross!”


(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)


Worship leader: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Worship leader: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Worship leader: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9

Worship leader: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3
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“Above All”

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 9:30am

Yesterday morning we passed this flowering tree on the Strasburg Pike. (Click to enlarge)
  “Above All”
 

Message summary: May God help each of us to live in the power of God’s love and generously communicate that love to those nearby!

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“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

For the last several years we have attended a church with an unusual distinction. Calvary Church was founded in 1937 and has had only five senior pastors, including the current one. All four previous pastors completed the task worthy of honor. Two are now deceased.
  Two are still living. One, Eric Crichton, began pastoral service at the church as the second pastor in 1964 and served till 1987. He recently celebrated his 98th birthday and still teaches a Sunday School class in the church! The other one, Johnny Miller, served as senior pastor from 1999-2009 and now lives in South Carolina.

Both were honored this past Sunday with Johnny Miller giving an exhortation through video from South Carolina. We were both blessed by his words so we print them below because they not only blessed the congregation he was addressing but they will bless you as well:
  I want to encourage you, exhort you, plead with you to continue in love. That’s really the highest calling we have and, as I have aged and as my Parkinson’s Disease has increased, there are so many things that I cannot do that I used to do. But I realize that the one thing that I can do for which there is no limit is to exhibit the love of Christ to people that I meet. And I feel that’s my highest calling in this day. It’s to live in love and it’s to exhibit God’s love to people so that they can actually experience at least a portion of the love of God. And if God will allow me to continue to do that then there’s reason to continue to live. (Video here)
Let us consider today’s verse. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” The Apostle Peter’s call was initially issued to persecuted believers whom he had called “God’s elect, strangers in the world” in the very first verse of the epistle.

Now, through the Holy Scriptures, believers of all time can still be described as “God’s elect, strangers in the world”.

“Above all, love each other deeply.” Oh, how this command is greatly neglected but wholly needed in every sphere of life; in marriages, families, churches, communities, nations and of course all over the world.

“Because love covers a multitude of sins.” Love still covers and overpowers sin. No matter the generation nor the depth of sin, foundationally the love of God expressed in Christ’s death on the cross, covers our sin.

That same power of love has not diminished one bit and is being expressed all over the world today. May God help each of us to live in the power of God’s love and generously communicate that love to those nearby, no matter what our physical limitations may be!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we bow in prayer before You today, and ask that You, in Your great glory give us the power to be strong inwardly through Your Spirit. We pray that Christ will live in our hearts by faith and that our lives will be strong in love and be built on love. And we pray that we will have the power to accept the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is; it is measureless, and boundless, covering a multitude of sins. Help us to communicate it often to those we encounter from day to day. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Photos from our chaplaincy role in various companies   Phil leading Smucker Home Improvement safety meeting.   Tin from Vietnam and Dedan from Kenya work well together as machinists at Vallorbs.   Mario and his wife Janet, both from Costa Rica, sit right beside each other during lunch at Val-Co.
  For lunch we dined outside and enjoyed an arepa from Chellas Arepa Kitchen.   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “Love, Love, Love”  Video  Gordon Mote

“Love Is The Golden Rule”  Video  Gordon Mote

“Safe in the Arms of Jesus”  Video   Michael O’Brien  (Suggested by one of our readers.) This hymn was written in 1868 by Fanny Crosby. In 1859 Fanny gave birth to a child who died in infancy. Though she never talked about her tremendous loss to others, many consider that this song was written as a result of her tragic loss.  During her lifetime, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” was among the most widely sung of Fanny’s hymns. She claimed it was written for the bereaved, especially for mothers who had lost children. Often, while comforting a grief-stricken mother, Fanny would say to her, “Remember, my dear, your darling cherub is safe in the arms of Jesus.” (Source: Robert Morgan “Then Sings My Soul”)

“Come to Jesus (Reconciliation Hymn)”  Video  People of the Earth Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cb09318a9a41', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5cb09318a9a43', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Green Grass!”

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 9:30am

Yesterday‘s early morning view of our front lawn and the field across the road.
(Click to enlarge)
“Green Grass!”
Message summary: Here’s a vital spiritual truth to encourage you today: Our progress in spiritual growth, like the green grass or the green leaves on a tree, is mostly a result of the composite, accumulative effect of being exposed to spiritually enriching nutrients over time.

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“Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass” (Mark 6:39). “He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2). “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him'” (Psalm 92:14,15).

In our region everything is really getting green, a season I especially enjoy. I even enjoy mowing our lawn and soon Marvin, our neighborhood lawnmaster, will have his huge ztr riding tractor out, signalling to the entire neighborhood the official start of mowing season!

In Bible College I recall a specific statement made by a professor that really impacted me and heightened my love for God’s Word. He pointed out the importance of looking at the detail contained in the Scriptures and called our attention to the “green grass” description in the first daily text.

Although all four gospels share the story of the feeding of the five thousand, only Mark includes the detail that the grass was green. The professor pointed out that this was likely a clue indicating the season that this event took place. That may be so, but perhaps Mark just also really liked green, like I do!

What makes the grass so green? Scientifically we are aware it is Chlorophyll. But what drop of rain, what ray of sunshine, or what specific nutrient drawn from the rich Lancaster County soil made the difference? Of course that question cannot be answered. We know there are many factors that contribute to the vitality of the grass and plant life.

And there are also many factors that contribute to the spiritual health and vitality of the believer, especially staying fresh and green and still bearing fruit in old age. Today let us consider spiritual “green grass”.

Most of us are able to recall specific points in our faith journey; a very memorable spiritual experience, a certain sermon that changed our outlook, or a book we read that had a “life changing” effect upon us. These “big events” are mile marker blessings, but most of our growth is a result of the accumulative effects of small things. These are the blessings of living in green pastures.

Depending upon how long we have followed Christ we may have read and studied the Scriptures for thousands of hours, heard hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Bible-based sermons and teachings, read many good books, heard many good radio programs, etc.

In my accumulative 30+ years of pastoral ministry (including interim roles) I calculate that I have prepared and presented some 4,000 sermons and teachings during that course of ministry. (We had at least two scheduled services weekly and in some cases three.)

And now with nearly 22 years of preparing Daily Encouragement messages that’s over 5,500 messages and about 1,500 radio messages.

Yet I sure don’t remember all I’ve read from the Word (too often it seems I forget right after I read it and have to re-read). I have read thousands of articles and books by now, but I only remember a few. I certainly can’t recall every sermon I’ve heard or preached. Actually I can only specifically remember a small percentage, even of my own sermons. Has it all been a waste? Of course not! I was spending time in green pasture!

Here’s a vital spiritual truth to encourage you today: Our progress in spiritual growth, like the green grass or the green leaves on a tree, is mostly a result of the composite, accumulative effect of being exposed to spiritually enriching nutrients over time. Read attentively as you study the Scriptures and listen carefully to God’s servants as they preach the Word. But remember, spiritual growth is taking place as you day by day fully commit yourself to our blessed Saviour and live in His green pastures.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, Your principles teach me that time spent reading the Word, meditating upon it and applying it to my life makes a vital difference in my Christian walk. Spending time with other believers and learning from their examples, as well as their testimony, is another way You’ve brought positive change into my life. Hearing sermons that cause me to think and often move me to more fully surrender my heart to You has brought about foundational growth in my life. I’m grateful for those who love me enough to keep me accountable to the commitment I’ve made to live a godly life. Thank You for the spiritual health and vitality You provide as I graze on the bounty of Your abundant life-giving “green pastures.” It is in the name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.



These photos were taken several years ago on a well-groomed Amish farm on Stumptown Road here in Lancaster County.  
Last night this mother bird who is nesting in our barn overhang rafters allowed me to get quite close. Her babies!   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “God Leads His Dear Children Along”  Video  Travis Cottrell
  “Death Was Arrested”  Video  People Of The Earth Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5caf4228d2338', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5caf4228d233c', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“A Consideration Of Tabbed Thinking”

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 10:59am

Early yesterday morning we passed this Lebanon County farm. (Click to enlarge)   “A Consideration Of Tabbed Thinking”
  Message summary: When our minds are stayed on God and we fully trust Him problems will not dismay or overwhelm us, for dismay and trust simply cannot coexist.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

We appreciate home decor items that make a thoughtful statement. Yesterday we saw this message on a small decorative blackboard at Audreys, “My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open”. It’s a reference to having multiple tabs open on an internet browser known as “tabbed browsing“. As a session of study, work or even just plain web surfing progresses, you may end up with lots of tabs open, a type of multitasking.

That’s a neat feature that can also become cluttered. Periodically I have so many tabs open I just shut down my browser to start fresh.

In life my brain can also have too many tabs open. That’s when I’ve got a lot on my mind and may lose focus, especially the focus on that which is most important. Illustratively we will call it “tabbed thinking”.

During our young dating years in Bible College Brooksyne and I frequently exchanged Scripture verses in our written correspondence (long before email and texting were available). I often shared Isaiah 26:3 which we put to memory. Years later we sang it to a tune which permanently attaches the words to our memory. Through the years we have both found this passage to be a guiding principle when we have too many tabs open. It is also a spiritual healing balm when going through troubling circumstances.

There’s a lot to dismay us, isn’t there? World situations, national tragedies, crazy politics, personal matters; they can all dismay, often concurrently. What dismays you today?

What glorious truth our daily Scripture verse conveys! Isaiah in chapter 26:3 shares a truth held dear by many believers: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” This is from the KJV, which we memorized. Other versions state, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you” (ESV) and “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You” (NIV). For additional comparison in various versions use this nifty tool.

Today let us focus just on the phrase, “Whose mind is stayed on Thee”; that’s the key, and that’s where I suspect so many of us have the problem. We sure do! With all the possible tabs open we keep getting our minds and hearts off the Lord and onto the problems at hand. We approach the problems from every angle and get everyone’s take on it. We go to bed with the problems on our hearts and if sleep does come it may very well be diluted by a dream (or even a nightmare) that relates to the problems. We awaken and the same old problems loom over the new day!

However when our minds are stayed on God and we fully trust Him to be interceding on our behalf problems will not dismay or overwhelm us, for dismay and trust simply cannot coexist. Certainly we’re tempted to be dismayed by our troubles, but the key to trust is to turn our mind to the Lord in prayer and stand on His promises.

Warren Wiersbe reminds us that “The peace of God is not the absence of problems; it is the presence of divine sufficiency in the midst of problems.” George Morrison said, “Peace is the possession of adequate resources” and those resources come from the Lord when you yield your heart and mind to Him.

Our trust is in the One who is a tested and tried stone, the Solid Rock; the One who is a sure foundation. He is ever trustworthy and ever faithful. Put your complete trust in Him today!

Like Frances Havergal in her song, “Like A River Glorious”, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. If we are “stayed upon Jehovah” we will remain balanced even if the world around us sways.

Stayed upon Jehovah,
Hearts are fully blest;
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, because we place our trust in You as our sovereign Lord we have an enduring peace that You are the Great Deliverer and that You work all things together for good to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. We seek to glorify Jesus, our Solid Rock, who was put to the ultimate test and laid an unshakable foundation for our faith, as He remained true to His mission to provide our salvation. Our faith is strengthened and our peace perfected as we keep our minds stayed upon You, not only on the bright, cheerful days but on the dismal days when the cloud of discouragement would otherwise obscure the brightness of Your promise to keep us in perfect peace if we keep our minds stayed upon You. Amen.

 

Yesterday we hiked along the tow path of the historic Union Canal in Lebanon County. Notice the white blooming tree in the far left background.
(Click to enlarge)   The Union Canal Tunnel is the oldest existing transportation tunnel in the US. (Click to enlarge)   Union Canal Flowering Trees
(Click to enlarge)   Walter, a friend at White Oak Display, has a great view outside his office window, especially when the Forsythia blooms in the spring and the Cardinal rests on a branch. Walter’s hoping that the cardinal might build a nest within his view. If so, I (Brooksyne) will make a pest of myself at his window during our weekly visits!
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “Like A River Glorious”  Video  Stonebriar Community Church (Note: I had never heard of this church before but see it is where Chuck Swindoll now preaches. We have appreciated his ministry and books for many years and see that he is still going strong at 84 (Near Caleb’s age when he proclaimed, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then” (Joshua 14:11)! Here’s a video of his sermon from this last Sunday (which was over 1 hour!). I also appreciate this church posting a very comprehensive statement of faith on their website that candidly and Biblically deals with current issues.
  “God Will Take Care of You”  Video  Antrim Mennonite Choir
  “No Longer Slaves”  Video  Zach Williams   Finally today:
  The farmer who owns the land behind us had a crew clear some trees and level the land to expand his tillable land. The crew was rather careless in burning off the brush and not staying around to tend the fire. In fact they paid a very expensive price as this dozer was burned up that they had been using when it was left too close to the fire! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cae04e76a293', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5cae04e76a296', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Knit Together In Utero”

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 9:30am

Larry Garber We have worked with Larry Garber for many years in nursing home ministry where he has a real burden for the elderly. He also has been a long-time pro-life advocate. Today’s quote from Scott Klusendorf is a portion of a letter he wrote to the editor of our local paper, Lancaster News. Larry is holding a model of a pre-born baby he uses for demonstrations. Today we honor Larry for his faithfulness.   “Knit Together In Utero”
  Message summary: How many decades have you been living?

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13,14).

Rick, a friend who leads a company, sent us a copy of his article for the company newsletter to preview. He wrote “now, in my sixth decade, I have a different perspective than I did as a younger man.” The “different perspective” viewpoint from which he now sees things is worthy of consideration and is certainly true for all of us who’ve been around for a while (at least it should be!)

But reading the phrase “now, in my sixth decade” at face value would lead many to deduce that Rick is in his sixties.

However Rick is in his fifties and, as a trained accountant, is merely acknowledging the first decade of his life; (0-9, 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 means he is indeed living in his sixth decade).*

After reviewing his article I wrote back and told him that if he included the portion of a decade he had lived in his pre-birth existence he could accurately say, “now, in my seventh decade”. For Brooksyne and me it would be our eighth decade! (Note from Brooksyne: Stephen is quite comfortable in referring to our “eighth decade”, but I’m a little more sensitive about saying or doing anything that makes us sound older than we already are).

Each of us began our life as a separate single cell. During the next nine months we grew in our mother’s womb and nothing new was added but water, oxygen and nutrition. Our entire genetic makeup was contained in that single cell. We have never existed before and there will never be another of us. Thankfully for me and my parents, who loved me, this process was not interrupted and after nine months of being “knit together” of growth in utero I was born.   In developmental terms as measured by cell replication, we spend 90 percent of our lives in utero. From fertilization to natural death, there exists an unbroken continuum of human development during which we need only oxygen, water, and nutrients to live and develop physically.

By the time we are born this one single cell became two hundred million cells and at birth we weighed six billion times more than the fertilized egg. If we had continued at this rate of growth by our first birthday we would have weighed 72,000,000,000 pounds, which would have been an extremely “heavy” burden for our Moms.

Today’s Bible text is so powerful. Note what it says and doesn’t say.
It says “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
It doesn’t say “You knit the blob of tissue together in my mother’s womb that would at some undetermined time become me.”   Scott Klusendorf, author of The Case For Life writes,   “The science of embryology establishes that from the earliest stages of development, you were a distinct, living and whole human being. You weren’t part of another human being like skin cells on the back of my hand; you were already a whole living member of the human family even though you had yet to mature.

“There is no essential difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that somehow justifies killing you at that earlier stage of development. Differences of size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency are not good reasons for saying you could be killed then but not now.”   So, how many decades have you been living?

Be encouraged today,  
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, thank You for creating my inmost parts: You knit me together in my mother’s womb and for that I praise and thank you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Everything in all of Your creation is amazing and perfectly formed for Your glory and for our good. While proponents of abortion speak in terms of inconvenience, death, and doing away with the very one You created, we who are pro-life speak in terms of nurturing, loving, and giving thanks for new life. Bless and empower those who sacrificially take a stand and lovingly raise their voice to affirm life and reject any law, politician, or other powerful lobbies that seek to present abortion as an acceptable form of birth control. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.   * Of course “now, in my sixth decade” could also mean he has lived in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s.
  Sadie likes to play but Mollie does not like to share her ring toss. Surprisingly the little pup doesn’t back down for either dog, though the big dogs weigh six times her weight.


Our older dog Roxie, who is now 14 1/2 years old really doesn’t want to play much anymore, just rest most of the time. But Sadie doesn’t understand that!  


Sunday afternoon we took a historical walking tour of the Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center and furnace ruins.

Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center, Marietta, PA   On Sunday afternoon we toured the Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Center with a very knowledgeable local guide telling us about the furnace and grounds at the diorama. The center has been beautifully restored.
  The diorama shows how the furnace would have looked over 100 years ago. At the bottom of the diorama (not seen) is the Pennsylvania Canal where barges brought in anthracite coal. In the mid 1800’s there were seven such furnaces on a small stretch along the Susquehanna River where we now ride our bikes along the former rail line. Most have little visible remains.   Present day ruins with the unloading piers still standing and factory housing in the background which is still used.   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”  Video   Matt Redman

“You Knit Me Together”  Video  Steve Green  A children’s song with a good message!

“You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”  An amazing video teaching by Louie Giglio

Here’s an interesting website dealing with the chronology of a new life.   “Until Then”  Video  Video from the concert Brooksyne sang in two weeks ago (about 4 songs were not recorded, unfortunately they were our favorites).
  “A Few Good Men”  Video Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cac9e9ec4c27', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5cac9e9ec4c2a', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Mephibosheth”

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 10:57am

This blooming purple spring bulb was taken by our friend Doris High.   “Mephibosheth”
  Message summary: We rightly despair at our hopeless condition apart from Christ’s redemption. But what glorious hope we have in Christ!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?'” (2 Samuel 9:1). Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:8). “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'” (Matthew 25:40).

Ester received a new puppy on her birthday, a tiny Shih Tzu / Lhasa Apso mix she named Sadie Willow. Sadie was a gift from our friends at the Old Windmill Farm. Ester had chosen Sadie from a litter of seven and several times had played with her on their farm until we brought her home March 1st. Like most puppies she has a colorful petality and has quickly become a loving part of our home.

Nine days ago we noticed a protruding red spot in Sadie’s eye which is called “cherry eye”. It’s not uncommon in small dogs including Shih Tzus, as we’ve learned from our new experience. When the Lapps learned about Sadie’s condition they were very disappointed like us as this was the first encountered in any of their adorable puppy litters. They very kindly told Ester she could bring Sadie back to the farm and get another puppy, since this was a disappointing turn of events. Ester took no time to think about her answer. Kind as their offer was she would hear nothing of it. “Perfect” or not she was now Ester’s puppy! She went on to remind us that people adopt pets with special needs and love them just the same.*

Ester came into our lives in 1989 at three months of age, barely surviving the flight up from Guatemala due to her critical heart condition. After much prayer, medical intervention and years of TLC she survived her many operations and recently celebrated her 30th birthday.

When she was 18 months old Brooksyne and I visited Guatemala to see some other children we had cared for. Our hosts were a wealthy Guatemalan couple. The wife had a burden for the orphans including Ester for whom she arranged the trip to America to get medical intervention. Her husband, an MIT educated leader in the country, did not feel the same way.
  During a conversation with him, knowing of Ester’s health matters, he strongly discouraged us from proceeding with her adoption, not only due to her health problems but also because of her ethnicity. She is of Mayan Indian descent which was looked down upon by our host. I still recall his words, “You don’t want to adopt her. We can get you a child that has a perfect heart.” I suppose he meant well and made his suggestion with our interest in mind, but to us it reflected a devaluing of life, both of her ethnicity and fragile health. His frankness took us back and certainly did not deter our plans of adopting Ester.

Today let’s explore the story of a boy that would be described in our day as one with special needs. Mephibosheth is among our favorite lesser known Bible characters. Dropped as a very small child he was “lame in both feet”. His story is told in 2 Samuel 9 and, if you’re not familiar with his life, you may need to read this entire chapter and some study material about him. Today’s message is a summary.

He had a lot more than his share of problems and was now the sole surviving member of Saul’s family with David as the king. His personal esteem couldn’t sink any lower as he saw the importance of his life to be no more than that of a “dead dog”. Since dogs were not valued by the Hebrew culture (in the sense we do as pets) this self-description packs a double whammy, kind of like me referring to myself as “a dead skunk”.

But David models the love of God when he sought Mephibosheth out and made a place at the King’s table for him, “like one of the king’s sons”, not just for the evening but for the rest of his life. He gave him land and appointed servants that provided for his needs. This is an excellent illustration of generosity and grace exhibited in the Old Testament.

Many of you may not be able to identify with Mephibosheth at all. Life for you has been pretty good. Most importantly you have an assurance of God’s love and a network of family and caring people around you.

We encourage you to consider others who may need a lift today by your expression of personal interest or your gesture of kindness and generosity. David so powerfully illustrates God’s grace in the fact that he didn’t wait for Mephibosheth to cross his path, but actually made the necessary effort to locate him and then chose to personally bless him. How can you demonstrate that grace today to one who might be regarded as among “the least of these”?

There are others of you who readily identify with Mephibosheth. Life’s always been hard and you’ve wondered when and if things will ever flow smoothly. It’s been one hard blow after another and you could reckon the value of your own life as that of a “dead dog”. You question in your mind, “Does anyone love me? Does anyone really care?” And here you are reading this message. God wants you to hold onto this unchanging truth that is filled with eternal hope: God loves you and He cares about you.

The fact is, apart from the love and mercy of God, every one of us are as “dead dogs”. John Newton put it this way, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!” Or as the hymn “I Stand Amazed In The Presence” expresses it, “a sinner, condemned, unclean”. “At The Cross” has these words, “Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” We rightly despair at our hopeless condition apart from Christ’s redemption. But what glorious hope we have in Christ!

He calls us to endure the temporal difficulties while living our lives here on earth, but He’s invited us to enjoy the eternal delights of living our lives in heaven. He has saved the best for last, but that’s OK because that’s where we’ll be forever and always, long after the troubles of this life have faded from view! I’m sure glad it’s not the other way around, though, for those who choose not to enter the kingdom of God, it surely is!
    Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, there is much that we don’t understand on this side; why some go through life seemingly with ease and little trouble, and others seem to be born with trouble that never goes away. It is not for us to understand Your ways for You are a God of mystery with greater purpose than we can comprehend, and yet You have made clear to us through Scripture that which we are to understand. Some of the very trouble we seek to avoid is what brings us to faith and causes us to live a life that is honoring to You and purposeful to others. Keep our hearts sensitive and compassionate toward those who are undervalued by the world’s standards. When we put ourselves in their place, we identify with their struggles and feel the deep hurt they experience when looked down upon and rejected by others. May we be Your tender arm of compassion and Your gentle voice of acceptance and unconditional love. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Context of today’s passage: 2 Samuel 9
* When Ester and Brooksyne took Sadie Willow on Monday to Dr. Albright for her distemper shot and wellness check up as a puppy, she recommended that when she is spayed at six months they will also suture the cherry eye back into its proper place. In the meantime Brooksyne is rubbing a steroid cream into her eye hoping that her condition might reverse. The vet prescribed the cream and said occasionally it is successful in reversing the condition.
 


Friday morning we ate breakfast with our long-time friends, Larry and Tina Kester, who were visiting from the Lehigh Valley. Later we stopped by the Old Windmill Farm so Tina could see the new goat, Curious George. George is still the size of a small dog and still willing to be held, stroked and cuddled. In fact it seems he thrives on such TLC.
  Yesterday church was held at the Old Windmill Farm. This bench wagon is used to transport benches from house to house where services are held.   Throughout Lancaster County there are many small businesses such as Dutch Country Pretzels.   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Carried To The Table”  Video  Leeland  A song based upon the story of Mephibosheth and applying it to our redemption in Christ! Includes musician’s intro.
  “There’s Always a Place At the Table”  Video   Gaither Vocal Band
  “Build My Life/”I Stand Amazed In The Presence”  Video  Calvary Church worship team. I, Brooksyne, sure enjoy singing this song. The tune stays with you long after you sing the words. But, of course, it’s the text that really conveys the Biblical message of building our lives on Christ the solid foundation; great words and great tune, followed by a timeless hymn. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cab61869cc53', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5cab61869cc56', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“The Rebound Principle”

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 9:30am

 Equine traffic on a rural back-road in Lancaster County.

(Click on photo to enlarge)   “The Rebound Principle”
  Message summary:  Have you sinned? Have you stumbled? Have you fallen? Perhaps you are even down right now as you read this. God has provided a means for spiritual rebound with no additional conditions or limits. Just a straightforward promise based upon His character of forgiveness. When we confess our sins “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This really is good news and the best kind of rebound with the bonus of eternity spent in heaven. Joyfully accept His cleansing and forgiveness today.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The last several weeks many have been following the NCAA college basketball tournament leading up to the Final Four games this Saturday evening and the national championship game on Monday.

In a basketball game solid play is required all through the game. Most of the attention goes to the scoring. But one key component of success is the rebound. However rebounds themselves are not scores.

In basketball a rebound refers to the ball being retained after a missed shot on offense and the offensive team having another opportunity to score. On defense it’s getting the ball back after your opponent misses a shot. Because even the best players miss shots, rebounding is an important component to having a good basketball team.

Thank God for another kind of rebound of much greater importance and consequence. If you’ve been a Christian for a while hopefully you’ve memorized the daily verse: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). It’s one of those remarkable truths in the Christian life that form a fundamental principle that has been called “the rebound principle.” It describes the wonderful means that our gracious God has provided for us to rebound or bounce back after we sin.

The apostle John is writing late in the first century, perhaps sixty years after he had walked with Jesus. Peter, Paul and many of the other notable apostles died about thirty years prior to this writing. He’s surely very mature in his faith now. If anyone was ever expected to have fully made it in their spiritual journey and earned the right to point his finger and use a preachy “you” it would have been John at this point in his life. But I find encouraging significance in the personal pronoun he uses throughout the passage. It’s known as the first person plural.  John does not say, “If you confess your sins” but “If we confess our sins.”

Have you sinned? Have you stumbled? Have you fallen? Perhaps you are down right now as you read this. God has provided a means for spiritual rebound with no additional conditions or limits. Just a straightforward promise based upon His character of forgiveness. “When we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This really is good news and the best kind of rebound with the bonus of eternity spent in heaven. Joyfully accept His cleansing and forgiveness today.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, I lay my sins on Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God. I’m so thankful for Jesus who bears them all and frees me from the accuser’s condemnation. I confess my sins to You, both big and small, so that my crimson stains are washed white in the blood of the sinless Lamb of God and not a stain remains. Thank You for providing Jesus as the Sinbearer who redeems me from the slimy pit of mud and mire, the Solid Rock on which I  stand. Upon my confession, You are faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. You put a new song in my heart and a hymn of praise and thanksgiving on my lips. It’s through Jesus’ wonderful name that we can pray to You, Father. Amen.


Today we share several photos from our drive between companies through eastern Lancaster County yesterday.
  A steel-wheeled John Deere tractor

(Click on photo to enlarge)  

Gardeners already have spring vegetables planted on this Mennonite farm. One of the first signs of spring are the blooming willow trees. (Click on photo to enlarge)    Mennonite schoolhouse next to the freshly plowed field. (Click on photo to enlarge)   These Val-Co employees enjoyed a quick 15 minutes of pickup football during their lunch break. These days the majority of lunch rooms are filled with employees thumbing through their cell phones with little to no interaction among fellow employees.  This is a wholesome sight of employees building camaraderie while engaging in healthy exercise, amidst beautiful rural farmland. Only about three weeks ago this was all covered in snow.
(Click on photo to enlarge)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “1 John 1:8,9”  Video  Scripture Memory Songs Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ca7588337459', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5ca758833745b', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“What Time Is It?”

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 9:30am

These bright yellow Daffodils at Kleen-Rite remind us Spring has arrived!   “What Time Is It?”
  Message summary: So what time is it? “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Note: Due to a severe cold, the podcast was not prepared for this message.
“Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Each week we make a chaplain visit to the Kleen-Rite Corporation in Columbia, PA, a small town along the Susquehanna River about ten miles from where we live. It was once briefly in consideration for being the capitol of the US.* We are glad that didn’t go through as it would have increased the traffic in our area immensely!
Columbia doesn’t have any Smithsonian museums but it does have the National Watch and Clock Museum which is one of the world premier institutions on the record of keeping time. Horology is the study of time. *

Many years ago I visited the museum which has over 12,000 items related to timekeeping and the tour is quite extensive. The collection is international in scope and covers a wide variety of clocks, watches, tools, and other time-related items. The largest collection is of nineteenth-century (1800’s) American clocks and watches. However, additional collections include early English tall case clocks, Asian timepieces from Japan and China, and timekeeping devices from Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Russia. Chronologically, the exhibits take you on a tour through the entire history of timekeeping technology from early non-mechanical devices to today’s atomic and radio-controlled clocks.

Knowing the correct time is very important to modern life. Brooksyne always remembers to put her watch on though I often neglect to do so. Thus when I need the right time I might scramble to find it but it’s not too hard since mobile phones display the time as well as our computers, the radio, the microwave and just about every other electronic device that functions in our home. Now I just say, “Google, what time is it?” Or when all else fails, much to my wife’s chagrin, I call out “Brooksyne, what time is it?”

Our clocks and watches are set to a standard clock on the internet. However in Biblical times people weren’t as cognizant of the exact time as we are. In describing time we find phrases like “watch in the night”.  An hour did not mean a precise 60-minute unit of time, as ancient people neither had the means nor necessity to measure time that way.

But our busy, time-conscience lives can deter us from our most important divine appointment. Let us recognize and give thanks that we still live in “the time of God’s favor”. His offer of redemption is freely offered and through the apostle Paul He wisely counsels us, “Now is the day of salvation”.

Dr. M.R. DeHaan, founder of the Radio Bible Class (which publishes the “Our Daily Bread” devotional), once preached on God’s judgment and the reality of hell. As he neared the end of his sermon, he stopped abruptly. For an entire minute he didn’t say a word. All that could be heard was the ticking of a large clock on the wall. The sound seemed to grow louder with each passing second. In fact, the steady “tick-tock” became almost deafening to those under conviction by the Holy Spirit.

Then with his commanding voice he reminded the audience, “You are now one minute nearer to eternity!” One woman in the congregation that day admitted that she was frightened. And even though she didn’t receive Christ that evening, the experience of hearing that ticking was so vivid in her mind that it ultimately led to her conversion.

This is our most important appointment in life. Have you dealt with it? It begins by earnestly saying a prayer like this from the heart. “Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need your salvation. I place my faith in you and ask you to forgive me of my sins. I make You the Lord of my life and will live seeking to please You according to the Bible.”

So what time is it? “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, how grateful we are that we live in the time of Your favor.  You favor us with Your goodness, love, and provisions. But most of all You favor us with redemption through the precious blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus paid the price and we are recipients of His love and forgiveness.  We give thanks for our salvation and we pray for any who has not made that divine appointment with You to make this the day of their salvation, for now is the time of Your favor and now is the day of their salvation.  Amen. Curious George, the baby goat, and chicks.
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Now Is The Day Of Salvation”  Video  2 Corinthians 6:2 from the Integrity Scripture Memory series.

* In the spring of 1788, Samuel Wright had the area surveyed and formally laid out the town into 160 building lots, which were distributed by lottery at 15 shillings per ticket. “Adventurers”, as purchasers were known, included speculators from many areas of the country. Wright and town citizens renamed the town “Columbia” in honor of Christopher Columbus in the hope of influencing the new U.S. Congress to select it as the nation’s capital, a plan George Washington favored; a formal proposal to do so was made in 1789. Unfortunately for the town, when Congress voted in 1790, the final tally was one vote short. Later, Columbia narrowly missed becoming the capital of Pennsylvania; Harrisburg was chosen instead, being closer to the state’s geographical center. (Wikipedia)

* Hora is the Greek word translated hour. Horology is the study of time.

The National Watch and Clock Museum Other interesting attractions in Columbia are the Turkey Hill Experience and the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area. Here’s an interesting video.  We enjoy biking on the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail that begins at the Heritage Center and runs on an old railway bed up the river. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ca60797a7ed0', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5ca60797a7ed3', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Blest Be The Tie That Binds”

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 12:30pm
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

Daily 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 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.)
  The barnyard is a favorite spot for Old Windmill Farm tour guests.   Barnyard chickens.  
With Curious George even I enjoy holding him!
 

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 & 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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“Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace”

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 9:30am

The Strasburg Railroad Steam Engine 89 built in 1910 passing by the dining car of the Casey Jones restaurant where we dined for lunch yesterday. (Photo by Ester)
  “Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace”
  Message summary: Our hearts need regular tuning as we are confronted with conflicting tones in various settings all throughout life. We need to constantly tune in to hear the voice of God, foundationally through His authoritative, inspired, and inerrant Word, the Holy Scriptures.

Listen to our message on your audio player.
  “Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name” (Psalm 86:11).

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
 

Yesterday morning we had our piano tuned by Leavitt Keener, who has tuned our piano since we moved to Lancaster County in 2001. Brooksyne has been a bit negligent in getting her piano tuned and learned that Leavitt was ill, so put it off even longer. When he walked in today, his face glowed, as he said, “I received a miracle!” He has a testimony of being a three year survivor of pancreatic cancer. He undergoes chemo every three weeks and will need cancer drugs the rest of his life, but he is rejoicing that God spared his life, there is no presence of cancer in his body, and he is back to work, only taking time off to recover after his  chemo treatments.
  Listening to Leavitt at work from our office downstairs, one could mistakenly think that a child was striking the keys, one note after another. I was tempted to holler up from our office, “Stop banging on our piano!”

In tuning our piano Leavitt initially uses a standardized tuning fork set to a very specific tone. This forms the basis for tuning each note on the piano. If he begins with the wrong tone it will adversely affect his entire tuning job. (Note to self: that would be a good illustration.)
  The tuning begins near the middle of the keyboard. It’s the starting point and standard for the piano tuner’s work. He gets the pitch from a metal tuning fork that vibrates at a frequency of 440Hz. Its pitch is constant; it is never out of tune. Of course everything gets higher tech and Leavitt also uses some type of electronic meter as well.

You surely have heard the hymn and may just want to break out into song at reading these words, “Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.” What an unusual descriptive phrase the songwriter uses to petition God for dealing with one’s heart. We often pray for a softened heart, an undivided heart, a steadfast heart, a renewed heart, a loving heart, etc.

But today let us consider the notion of having our hearts tuned. We speak of not only tuning a piano but also an engine tune-up in a vehicle. We get a tune-up with the purpose of restoring the engine to optimum performance.
  One of my favorite historical characters is George Washington Carver, a fellow Missourian. He was able to see the hand of God in nature. Carver said, “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour if we will only tune in.”

One of the great spiritual responsibilities we have is exercising discernment and teaching those whom we influence to do so as well. There is a cacophony of voices that call out to us to go the wrong way. We are exposed to these voices at all ages, but our youth are particularly vulnerable. We need to constantly tune in to hear the voice of God, foundationally through His authoritative, inspired, and inerrant Word, the Holy Scriptures.

Our hearts need regular tuning as we are confronted with conflicting tones in various settings all throughout life. The dissident tones of this world are ever tugging at our mind and can get us off pitch from our spiritual relationship with God, usually at a gradual rate, so that we might even be unaware.   Tuning up our hearts to the standard of God’s perfect pitch is an essential exercise for all believers. The best tuning “fork” in the Bible is found in Hebrews 4:12, “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword. It penetrates, even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Today’s daily text is one of those treasures from the Psalmist: “Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name.” We are especially gripped by the phrase, “Give me an undivided heart”. What a powerful description of a heart that is in tune with God’s heart!

Like the piano, when we tune into God’s voice and hear His message, there are other messages bombarding our minds and trying to take over or distort His clear, unambiguous message. I want to fine tune my heart to receive what God has for me not giving ear to that which distorts, revises, or adds to the truth of God’s Word.

Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I’ll praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, I want my heart to be tuned to Your Truth and righteousness, for You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. I place my complete trust in You and reject the godless trends and vain philosophies promoted by the world.  May Your words be embedded in my heart and mind through the faithful study of Scripture so that I might not sin against You and I will easily recognize truth from error. Since I’m often prone to wander, I ask You, Father God, to mount my soul on Thy redeeming love and tune my heart to all that is good, righteous, and holy so that my attitudes and actions are harmonious with the Scriptures, in the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

  The piano tuning lesson today prompted a few other “piano” memories   Many years ago Brooksyne played this Steinway baby grand piano at a friend’s home in Maryland. I snapped this photo from the balcony.



Two years ago we visited Marilyn, the friend who had the piano in the first photo, in San Diego. She had moved the black Steinway into her beautiful home in San Diego and it now sits beside her other Steinway. While we were there another friend, Elnora Dresselhaus, stopped to visit. Since she’s also a pianist it was a perfect time for the two of them to play a duet. Their song of choice was: “How Great Thou Art” but it took only a few notes of their playing to realize the pianos are not set to the same tuning. It wasn’t quite the pleasant sound we had all hoped for. Brooksyne backed off since we wanted to hear the beautiful hymn as it should sound. Elnora is a very gifted pianist and has played on this piano over the years.


When Jesus played the piano!  Here in Lancaster County we are blessed to have Sight & Sound, sometimes touted as the “Christian Broadway”, which has been dramatizing adventuresome Bible Epics for nearly 40 years, complete with story, song, and spectacular staging and effects. There’s also a Sight and Sound Theater in Branson, Missouri where we honeymooned in 1976.

We have enjoyed these outstanding presentations through the years, most recently one simply titled “Jesus”. Each one ends with a clear presentation of the Gospel. Of course, the actors are actually local “real” people known throughout the community and in area churches they attend.

A number of years ago Juanita, my mother’s longtime friend, shared the following story with us during a visit in her home located in the Branson, MO area. She and her late husband, Warren, had many contacts in the Branson area and were able to get us some free or discounted tickets to several shows and attractions. In fact in three days we attended five!

The attraction that stood out most was the presentation of a drama called “The Promise” which powerfully presented the message of the Gospel. Randy Brooks, the actor who portrayed Jesus, did an outstanding job and is himself a devout believer. In a remarkable way he really fit the stereotypical art image we have of Christ.

Juanita told me they had taken their grandchildren to see the play one Saturday evening and the next day Randy attended their church and was playing the piano. Their grandson in wide-eyed amazement pointed out, “Look, Grandma! Jesus is playing the piano!”


Brooksyne’s Tuning Memory: Our message today takes me back to my childhood when my dad proudly brought home a second hand (probably third or fourth hand) radio console from the 1930’s era. It was solid wood with a veneer finish and had the typical dial tuner. As a family we were pretty excited about the “antique” radio and right away we tried to find our favorite radio stations. The problem was we couldn’t hear our station clearly without nearby stations trying to butt in. We would try to fine tune it but then we’d then run into static as we got further and further from the actual station we were trying to hear. But if we were patient and fine tuned it delicately and with much deliberation we’d finally get the station we wanted. Of course, anyone who then messed with the dial was in big trouble. Like the radio, when we tune into God’s voice and hear His message, there are other messages bombarding our minds and trying to take over or distort His clear, unambiguous message. I pray that I will regularly fine tune my heart to receive what God has for me which means I will not give ear to that which distorts, revises, or adds to the truth of God’s Word.


More photos from our weekend
  On Sunday we were blessed to have our long-time friends, Tom and Marsha Neizmik, who had come to Lancaster County for the Sight and Sound show, join us in a church service and then share a meal at the Casey Jones Restaurant eating in an authentic railroad dining car. The Casey Jones restaurant is at the place where you can stay in restored cabooses at the Red Caboose Motel although now the cabooses are painted their original colors. Tom and Marsha came into the church we pastored in northern Pennsylvania nearly 40 years a young married couple. They were a great blessing to our ministry and have served the Lord in many ways. Most notably in our view is that together they have overseen and often lead a weekly service in a nursing facility for over 35 years starting in their early twenties.   The views from the dining car are interesting whether it be the train passing or pasture land or later viewing the tall corn fields.
  A young Amish couple on an open spring wagon likely going to Youth Meeting.   Tom and Marsha remain fun-loving and youthful even after 40 years of marriage. Here they climb a ladder on a box car on the Casey Jones restaurant porch.   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing”  Video  Buddy Green, Jeff Taylor This is the song that has the line, “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.”   “Yes And Amen”  Video  Calvary Church Worship Band
  Once we had our piano tuned and had an interesting problem we shared about it in a footnote in this message.   Finally today:
Children “tuning” our piano many years ago. Now Sadie, the middle child, is 13 and the two boys, David and James, are not too far behind in age! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ca364c9be248', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5ca364c9be24b', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Foolish Living”

Mon, 04/01/2019 - 12:00pm
This weekend I got out for my first trail bike ride of the season on the Lancaster Junction Trail near Spooky Nook. Along the way I passed this spacious Amish farm with several barns and out buildings.
  “Foolish Living”
  Message summary: Today let’s examine a very serious teaching in the Bible on foolish living when God called a man, “You fool”.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21).

Today is April Fool’s Day, widely recognized all over the world as a day marked by pranks, hoaxes, and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, work associates, etc. Today you may be the  recipient of a good-natured prank so beware!   This morning Australia McDonald’s announced the launch of its new ‘McPickle’ burger on Instagram, made from “juicy, flavoursome pickles layered between melted cheese, ketchup sauce and toasted sesame seed buns”. Actually I like pickles so that doesn’t really sound all that bad, though it turns out McDonalds was pulling their own prank on April Fool’s Day!
  In our family Brooksyne is the most creative prankster and our most memorable day on April 1st  took place on eight years ago. Several weeks earlier Ester had picked Mollie out of a litter of abandoned pups at the humane league. The day before Ester’s birthday, March 8th, Mollie joined us and won Ester’s heart and absolute devotion (just like her most recent puppy, Sadie Willow). Mollie’s name was Reba at the humane league before Ester renamed her.
  Early on April 1, 2011 Brooksyne woke Ester up startling her with news that she received a phone call from the Humane League. Unfortunately the puppy in our possession, Reba whom we now called Mollie, had been tagged with the wrong name and Ester was to take her back to the league. Reba was mistaken for another sibling so Ester was instructed to return Mollie and then she would be given the correct puppy.   Imagine just how stunned Ester was at the dreadful mistake and her reaction to returning Mollie was heartbreaking. Brooksyne kept a straight face, including a sympathetic tone as she sought to comfort Ester. Just when Ester was about to break into sobs, of course, Brooksyne pulled out the “APRIL FOOLS!” tagline for permitting herself to make up such a horrible scenario. It was a joke that has haunted Brooksyne ever since because Ester has never let her live down what a terrible joke she played on her – something unexpected from a loving mother which Brooksyne always aspires to be!

But, today on a much more serious note, let’s examine a very serious teaching in the Bible on foolish living when God called a man, “You fool”. The entire context is in a teaching by Jesus recorded in Luke 12.

I carefully probe this portion of Scripture and wonder why God called this man a “fool”. After all, he was a successful businessman; working hard, prospering and planning ahead for retirement. Isn’t that good? Isn’t that the American way?

But his goal was bigger barns, temporal pleasure and security. It was all about “me”. Life’s energy was expanded in this pursuit. When he felt like he had attained this goal he could lean back feeling quite satisfied and say to his soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry”.

But that very night his life was demanded of him. Jesus ends the parable with this probing statement: “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

God calls this man and so many who live who live like him “fool” for a specific reason.

The man’s foolishness was demonstrated in three ways:

1) He was self-sufficient. “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come'” (v. 19). He forgot the source of his blessing, that God was in charge. It’s God who gives us the ability to create wealth and our lives are in His hands. Fools believe they control their own destiny. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 14:1).

2) He was self-focused. “Take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”  It was all about him and his comforts.

3) He was rich to self but not “rich toward God” (v. 21). He did not use his resources for God and His Kingdom but instead selfishly considered only his desires.

We all need to keep these three questions before us:

1) Am I a barn builder, primarily focused on the present? 2) Am I a kingdom builder, primarily focused on the eternal?
3) Am I rich toward self or “rich toward God”?


What’s your fundamental outlook on life today? Are you storing up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal?” (Matthew 6:19). Or are you storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal? (Matthew 6:20).

Today let us commit ourselves to being “rich toward God”! Let us seek first His Kingdom! Let us build our lives on the solid rock of Jesus and be like the person whom He called the “wise man” (Matthew 7:24).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we are barraged with colorful ads, luring commercials, and attractive displays enticing us to make grand purchases. When “material things” consume our soul they capture our passion, our wallets and our time. You have commanded us to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness and all these things will be added unto us. As we do so we will be generous with our resources for the sake of the Kingdom. Help us to be generous with our time, talent, and treasures so that Your kingdom is enlarged and our investments have eternal dividend. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Additional study notes:

1) The parable begins, “The land of a rich man was very productive”. We need to remember where all blessings ultimately come from and “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”.

2) Brooksyne recalls that when she was growing up she was not allowed to call any person a fool based on Matthew 5:22. The prohibition in Matthew 5:22 is directed to us in regard to calling others a fool. However all standard translations use fool in today’s text in regard to what God calls this man. In other places Jesus addresses those whom he call fools or foolish as well. (For example, Matthew 23:17 and Luke 24:25.)

3) I am intrigued by the man talking to his own soul (verse 19), and wonder if there’s a deeper meaning to this? Some versions merely state that he was talking to himself but the Greek clearly states “soul” (see here for interlinear). “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry’.”

4) The issue was not his intent to build bigger barns but rather his motivation. What a blessing when God prospers a business or individual but they must be certain they remain humble and dependent on God. 5) “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones.” Revealing my analytical nature I wonder why he just didn’t propose building additional larger barns and still keep the old barns!


Friday evening we attended a banquet for REYS (Rainbows End Youth Services) which provides ministry to the youth in our community. Our table mates were mostly Lancaster Bible College students and REYS staff members. We were blessed to hang out with the young people and hear of their zeal for reaching the needy and winning them to Jesus!  
What a joy to see DJ and Anna Mary Paglia. I met DJ shortly after moving to Lancaster County in 2001. He is a faithful minister of the gospel. He and Anna Mary will soon celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary!   Here’s a photo of the four of us together. Their son, Doug, and I share the exact same birthdate – October 14, 1954.   Brooksyne with Phil Miller, one of her former Sunday School students, whom is staying faithful to the Lord. He works at WJTL, one of our local Christian radio stations and was running the sound system since we were meeting in their auditorium.
This expressive mural is on the wall of the Rainbow’s End Christian Youth Center in Mount Joy, PA. It is painted on the entire block wall of the gym.
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “Seek Ye First”  Video  Maranatha!

Finally today:
Ever since we got Mollie she has aspired to catch a squirrel, watching them from our front window, darting out and sprinting to where she had just seen one whenever we open the door to let her out. She never gives up or loses interest, reasoning as we probably would, “What’s the use”? But this weekend, what a surprise, she finally caught a squirrel! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ca236a6aa71b', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5ca236a6aa721', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Set For Life”

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 9:30am
Sunset on Delaware Bay (Photo by Duke, Click on photo to enlarge)   “Set For Life”
  Message summary: Is “everything we need” that was absolutely sufficient for Peter’s original readers also sufficient for us who live in 2019? A billion times yes!!! In Christ we are set for life and eternity!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15). “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

During my visit to New York state last weekend we were in a very depressed area with many people living on various forms of “public assistance”. It’s a sad way to live for many reasons and yet, in our observation, it’s often accompanied by poor choices in life.

I stopped in at a convenience store to buy a cup of coffee and waited behind a woman who was mulling over how to buy the right lottery tickets in a “game” called “Set For Life”. She pulled out some $50.00 bills to “invest” in her quest for success.

“Set For Life” is a cruel lie to promote, especially since it comes from a morally bankrupt government preying on people already wrecking their lives with a promise of an easy way out. Here in Pennsylvania it seems wherever you go you see lottery sales and advertisements for playing the lottery along with advertisements for problem gamblers. There are many lottery ticket vending machines.

Many years ago I had a conversation with a longtime employee of the state welfare department who assured me from experience that the social costs of the state sponsored gambling ring are much greater than any “profits” the state makes and uses for “good causes”. One method of deception used in the lottery is that people are able to choose how they want their money distributed when they place their bet or they’re supposed to see their bet as an “investment”. So many aspire to “winning” the lottery and other forms of gambling. They see the jackpot as the answer to their problems with cruel deceptions like “set for life”.

What a contrast to the Lord’s straightforward instruction in our first daily verse. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”

Jesus continues to warn those who will listen: “Watch out!” That should get our attention. It means “to discern clearly”. We sure need that don’t we? What crass lack of discernment is used by those who stand in long lines hoping their “investment” will bring them the illusory pot of gold promised by the lottery. Of course, there are many other forms of greed that can overtake us so we must be on guard lest we fall prey to the devil’s trap.

Greed is an insidious form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5), which many maturing believers battle against. The world screams in our ears in a variety of ways, “YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH!”

But God says in His Word, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9), “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) and “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). I especially find richness in the phrase “everything we need”. Who will you believe today?

Is the “everything we need” that was absolutely sufficient for Peter’s original readers also sufficient for us who live in 2019? A billion times yes!!! In Christ we are set for life here and now and for all eternity.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, when we place our trust in You we’ve only begun to tap into the unlimited resources You make available to the believer. You have blessed us with Your special favor and Your unsurpassed peace and it only gets better and better as we grow to know You more and more. The illumination of Your Word is truly a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path revealing the mystery of Your Gospel to us. May we be found consistent from day to day growing in the grace and knowledge You give to us in the midst of varying daily experiences of life. Grow us in our discernment and help us to stay on our guard against greed in its various forms. It is in Christ’s name that we pray. Amen.

Many years ago I preached a message about gambling and shared this daily encouragement message titled “Pleasing The Lord”. Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “Everything We Need”  Video  Acappella Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5c9e1e9e0857f', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5c9e1e9e08582', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Loving Darkness”

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 9:30am
A high spot overlooking the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.
The Adirondack Mountains are in the background. (Click on photo to enlarge)
  “Loving Darkness”
  Message summary: Nyctophilia is a word describing those who love darkness. When it comes to spiritual things we should not be nyctophiliacs!
  Listen to our message on your audio player.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19,20). “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).

Last weekend, during my trip to the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York, I had two rather interesting lodging experiences.

The first night I stayed in a rustic non-winterized cabin with no electric or running water. The boys had started a wood stove before I arrived so I placed my sleeping bag on a couch near the stove. The wind was howling but I still managed to sleep relatively well.

I was awakened periodically by a noise rustling in my overnight bag. I shook the overnight bag and the sound would stop for awhile. The next day I found a small Ziploc bag of candy-coated pecans Brooksyne had sent up with me to munch on. But after eating a few I noticed the Ziploc bag had been chewed into! Mystery solved, but unfortunately the remainder of the candy coated pecans Brooksyne had made were tossed as I’m not in the habit of sharing my sweet morsels with a rodent!

(I’ll share a bit about my second night’s lodging experience below in a footnote.)

Being way out in the country there was very little light “pollution” so it was very dark. John, who owned the cabin, quipped, “It gets so dark you can’t tell whether your eyelids are open or closed”! Sadly some people live in the spiritual darkness to an extent they can’t tell whether their eyes are opened or closed.

Nyctophilia is a word describing those who love darkness. Now there may be some settings where we like it dark. For instance when I sleep I like the room to be dark. Even the back light on an alarm clock or other artificial source may be disruptive to my sleep, although I am not bothered by the natural light of the stars or moon coming through our window. Some people actually prefer working the night shift or traveling at night.

But when it comes to spiritual things we should not be nyctophiliacs!

However many people love the dark side spiritually speaking and readily admit that this is the condition their heart is in. Some even proudly flaunt their desire to live evil lives and shamelessly expect hell to be their final destination. You’ve probably heard people unabashedly say, “So what if I go to hell; that’s where all my friends will be” or “Hell will be one great party!” Of course many admittedly serve the devil, the prince of darkness.

In communicating with people like this at least they recognize the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness. They are living in darkness and proud of it.

One of the most familiar statements by Jesus was heard in the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world” which prompted the children’s song “This little light of mine” and so many other songs written for all ages.

The radiant light of God’s Holy Word exposes and dispels darkness. When God’s servants live as children of light, darkness is dissipated and that’s a great spiritual reality to consider today. All of us, in one way or another, are exposed to darkness though some far more than others. We are called to let our light shine and, by God’s grace through His might, we want to shine ours brightly to expose and then dispel the darkness!

The daily text says we were once darkness but are now light in the Lord and thus we are to live (or walk in some versions) as children of light. We are to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. At this time when the crusaders of darkness are especially applauded and given a platform, let us hear the resounding call God has placed upon our lives to “live as children of light!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, as genuine Christians we have forsaken the darkness and chosen to walk in the light of Christ. In doing so we don’t want to substitute darkness for light or light for darkness. Otherwise we are expecting You to alter Your commands to accommodate the errant principles and philosophies of every nation, culture, and generation. You are the One True Supreme God who established Your unchanging, inerrant truths and commands before the world came into being. We choose to obey You not because it’s popular, rather we choose to obey You because You created us and made it possible through Christ that we would spend eternity with You in heaven. Though shadows surround us they will never conceal our Savior, our Guide, and constant Companion; for He is the light; in Him there is no darkness at all. Amen.


A lodging place I will not revisit:  The second night my friends lodged with their relatives and I stayed in a motel. This remote part of New York didn’t have any brand name hotels so I used the internet to decide on a place and the pictures didn’t look all that bad. The one I chose had a fancy name so I figured ah, it’s just one night, so I reserved a room.

Knowing the general location of the motel I went without using GPS but I only found one called “Budget Motel” not the one I had reserved on the internet in the same location so I went to the office to ask. After walking past piles of clutter, old equipment, stacks of unopened mail and cats to get to the front desk I asked the Indian (not native American) lady if I was at the right spot in spite of the different name on the sign. She told me I was but it was just too hard to find someone to make a new sign! Well, I knew I was in a rough place when it was a step down from “Budget Motel”.

The room was similar to the places I stayed in as a child when my depression-era Mom insisted on thrifty accommodations the few times we traveled and didn’t stay with relatives. In fact I don’t think this room had been renovated since that time. The bed did not have a fitted sheet so the bottom sheet came out revealing a yellowed, crinkly plastic mattress cover from about 1955. Oh well, I soldiered up and prepared to hunker down for the night, leaving my clothes on, including my socks and trying to see that no part of my body touched anything except my head on the presumably clean pillow.

There was a lot of noise outside and shady looking characters walking back and forth. The exterior door only had one flimsy lock so I thought about putting a chair up against it like I had seen in the movies but reasoned what good would that do against a muscular 300 pound man if he wanted to break in. I found out later the state of New York uses these motels for people getting right of prison. It was sure nice to get up early the next morning and head out of that place!!!
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Send The Light”  Video  Altar of Praise Chorale   Calvary Church Choir and Orchestra special concert. They have not posted the concert to YouTube but I think this will open for any who may care to watch the concert. It starts with silence but the sound comes on in about a minute and a few minutes of introduction are given before the singing begins.   There are few technical problems at times but they resolve quickly and if you watch you may see Brooksyne or even better you might recognize someone in the choir that you didn’t know sings in it, most especially if you’re a local. Unfortunately one of the best songs is the last which is cut off. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5c9ccd166ba3b', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5c9ccd166ba3d', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference”

Wed, 03/27/2019 - 12:22pm
  “The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference”
  Message summary: The old rugged cross still makes the difference and all over the world this day people will be experiencing the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Has Christ and His Cross made a difference in your life? Is Christ and His Cross making a difference in your life?
  Listen to our message on your audio player.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

‘Twas a life filled with aimless desperation
Without hope walked the shell of a man;
Then a hand with a nail print stretched downward,
Just one touch then a new life began.
Yesterday I took to the roads with Dennis “Bunny” O’Hare, a long-time friend  of ours who is also a chaplain to truck drivers. Bunny was raised in the Boston area where his Dad owned a tavern and Bunny was a bouncer. He was also a boxer, a literal “fighting Irishman”.
  Over time he became an alcoholic but through the redemptive power of the Cross he was delivered from alcohol in 1984 and can now sing and personally testify, “The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference”.

In the mid-nineties he became a chaplain with “Transport For Christ” and has served the Lord in that capacity ever since. For quite a few years he has been serving as the Director of Chaplain Care overseeing all the chaplains in the ministry. Brooksyne and I met him about twenty years ago at a conference in Boston.

His motto is “I used to be a slugger, but now I’m a hugger”.

God is in the life-changing business and He’s still changing lives today. Bunny is one of those changed lives and, he in turn like those who reached out to him, is reaching out to provide a haven of mercy, love and forgiveness to drivers. In spite of all the spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits that come from serving the Lord it can be very hard work with many setbacks and disappointments.

We rejoice in the work of God seen in the immediate transformation at the time of belief and the slow progressive transformation over a lifetime of following Christ. The old rugged cross made (past tense) and makes (present tense) a difference. We rejoice at the steady change demonstrated by long-term faithfulness and service such as we observe in Bunny.

The Apostle Paul wrote describing this wonderful change, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul experienced that change in his life and he rejoiced in the changed lives he had ministered to. John Newton, the former slave trader best known for writing “Amazing Grace”, said before he died, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things – that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”

The old rugged cross still makes the difference and all over the world this day people will be experiencing the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Has Christ and His Cross made a difference in your life? Is Christ and His Cross making a difference in your life today?
  And the old rugged cross made the difference
In a life bound for heartache and defeat;
I will praise Him forever and ever
For the cross made the difference for me.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, there is no sin too great that Your mercy is not greater. We were born with a sin problem, but You provided the solution for our sin sick souls through the wondrous sacrifice of Your Son Jesus Christ on the old rugged cross. We could never be good enough, rich enough, famous enough, or smart enough – nothing we offer is enough. Anything we offer is sin-based because of our human condition and all that Christ offers is sin-less because He is the divine Lamb without spot or blemish. Only Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, is enough to pay for our sins and begin the wonderful work of transforming us into Your likeness. Thank You that the Old Rugged Cross still makes the difference. Amen.


Yesterday morning we visited Audrey’s Distribution Center where they have many trucks that both deliver and pick up products. They want to reach out to these drivers with a small welcome center that includes drinks, refreshments and Christian literature. Bunny shared with the team for a few minutes and we prayed together asking the Lord to bless their new outreach.  Afterwards Bunny informed the team that he believed God was really excited about this. Excitement is an Anthropopathism I’ve never consider God having. Does God have emotions?
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference”  Video   Wilburn & Wilburn
“The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference”  Video   Guy Penrod

“Transport For Christ” website  Connecting drivers to Jesus Christ and Christian community
so that drivers are never alone or without support.
  Finally today:   Several days ago Pastor Richard Dresselhaus had this thought in his online devotional “One For the Road”:

Waiting for Jesus to come. This is the occupation of every follower of Jesus.

Imagine a busy father who left his young son at a safe and supervised place telling him to stay there until he returned. Unexpectedly the father was detained until later in the day. When he returned the son had remained in the same place where the father had left him.

What is the lesson in this imaginative story? Simply this – until Jesus comes we must stay close to the cross. You are always safe in this place. It is the place of pardon, fellowship and communion with the Savior.

Sadly some wander off and become partners with the world.

So stand firm until Jesus comes. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5c9ba3d6060d7', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5c9ba3d6060d9', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Considering The Blessing Of Maple Syrup”

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 9:30am
The namesake farmhouse is across the street from the Stone House Farm Sugar House.   “Considering The Blessing Of Maple Syrup”
  Message summary: Today let us be thankful for “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17) including naturally sweet maple syrup!   Listen to our message on your audio player.
  “I have given every green plant for food” (Genesis 1:29).   This last weekend in upstate New York I visited two sugar houses to watch maple syrup being processed. Saturday morning I joined our friends and two other families and we all went to the Stone House Farm where they served a hearty breakfast of all you care to eat pancakes, waffles and of course REAL maple syrup! Later that afternoon I visited the Mud Road Sugar House. In both locations you could observe the syrup-making process.   The sap is collected from the maple trees and in various ways brought into the sugar house, whether in buckets and bags or by tubing. Essentially the sap is boiled down to produce the syrup. It takes some 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.   At creation the Lord said, “I have given every green plant for food”. It’s unlikely the people of the Bible times had maple syrup and there’s certainly no mention of it in Scripture. In the Bible they knew what sweetness was by the taste of honey. The Syrup Master (the man who oversaw the sap to syrup process) explained some similarities between maple sap/syrup and honey.   The conditions necessary for harvesting the sap for maple syrup require a colder region with nights below freezing and the warming days of spring which gets the sap flowing. The native Americans first discovered this delectable treat and taught it to the European settlers.   Now REAL maple syrup is one of the great blessings of life and is ultimately a demonstration from creation when we read that God gave us “every green plant for food”. The Syrup Master explained that the quality of the sap, and thus syrup, is dependent upon the weather conditions the previous summer with lots of sunshine contributing to the sugar content in the sap. The verdant green maple leaves of summer, the beautiful colors of autumn and then the springtime sap harvest, all are related. The distinctions of each season are blessings from God and have an overall purpose in the way we carry on our lives.
  Considering the blessing of maple syrup brought to mind a pleasant memory of gathering with friends in northern Pennsylvania some 40 years ago and the children singing quite exuberantly the Johnny Appleseed song, “Oh, The Lord Is Good To Me”.   Oh, the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun, and the rain, and the apple seed.
The Lord’s been good to me. Amen.
  Today let us be thankful for “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17) including maple syrup!
    Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, Your statutes are trustworthy, Your precepts give joy to my heart. Your commands are radiant, giving light to my eyes. My reverence for You Lord is pure, may it endure forever. Your decrees are firm, Your statutes are trustworthy, and all of them are righteous. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much find gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.   Adapted from Psalm 19
    The Stone House farm sugar house where we had breakfast.   Stone House Farm Syrup Master   It takes a lot of wood to keep the fire hot.   There was plenty of syrup for sale!   The Mud Road Sugar House   The Syrup Master at the Mud Road Sugar House was very good at explaining the syrup-making process.   These old galvanized buckets on a maple tree out in front of the Mud Road Sugar House demonstrate the old method of collecting the sap. In the larger operations most of the sap is transported to the sugar house directly from the tree in tubing.   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources   “It Was Love”  Video  (audio only)  Before heading back home to Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon three families joined together in the farmhouse for several hymns. It was a blessing to see and hear them all singing out together, including the children.

“Even Me”  Video  Triumphant Quartet   “The Lord Is Good To Me”  Video  Children
  “Be Enthroned”  Video  Calvary Church Choir and Orchestra  (Brooksyne’s note: This has been our theme song for a sermon series and continues to be a favorite. This was the first with an organ accompaniment, so if you enjoy hearing an organ, this is for you!)
  How Maple Syrup is Made  Video
  Small Scale Maple Syrup Process in Pennsylvania Video
  Maple syrup (article in Wikipedia)
  Maple weekends in New York state Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5c9a29a9e0c9f', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5c9a29a9e0ca2', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Our Strength Every Morning”

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 1:04pm
One Room Schoolhouse in New York state.   “Our Strength Every Morning”
  Message summary: But let us focus on this portion of the petition in today’s text: “Be our strength every morning”. That is our ongoing need. Yesterday’s strength is inadequate for the challenges of this day though we can build on the foundation that is already laid.
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“O LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress” (Isaiah 33:2).
In a letter dated 1941 Thomas Chisolm wrote:   “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”


What a perspective from a man who had served as a minister for only one year before resigning due to poor health. He could have easily slipped into a state of unproductive despair and bitterness.   However he wrote over 1,200 sacred poems over his lifetime the most familiar being “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”.   “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine with ten thousand besides.”   Some of you are dealing today with a distressing and confusing season in life. Sometimes that season’s short, at other times you wonder if it will ever end. You may be, as the Apostle Paul testified, “hard pressed on every side and perplexed” (2 Corinthians 4:8).
  May today’s single verse bring encouragement for today and reserve for tomorrow.   The petition in this prayer is so simple: “O LORD, be gracious to us.” Our Lord is always gracious toward us even though the critical problem at hand may overshadow God’s gracious ways toward His children. It’s His nature to be loving and gracious.   “We long for you.” Here we have the essential key, a longing for God. That’s such a key and yet I will candidly admit that I don’t always long for the Lord as I should. There are so many distractions in life, some good, others bad!   Jim Gambini, a former pastor, writes: “The great danger the Christian faces is two-fold: because life on the planet is so ‘uncertain’ one temptation is to trust God to make us more secure through the accumulation of things or power/authority. The other temptation, if we already have accumulated plenty of this world’s goods, is to rest in what we have.”
But let us focus on this portion of the petition in today’s text: “Be our strength every morning”. That is our ongoing need. Yesterday’s strength is inadequate for the challenges of this day though we can build on the foundation that is already laid.

“Our salvation in time of distress.” God is always our present help and salvation in the time of any trouble or distress.   Today be encouraged by these truths as you join us in crying out “O Lord” to the One who is able and willing to provide for all our needs because He is forever faithful.     Be encouraged today,     Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we look to You this day to bring us word of Your unfailing love, for we have put our trust in You. You are our strength every morning and our security at night. Your steadfast love reaches to the heavens and Your faithfulness fills the skies. There is no one like You that provides for our every need. You are our salvation in times of distress, so it is under Your protective wings that we find refuge and safely abide.  Amen.     This weekend we went different directions with Stephen joining friends for a trip to the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York to visit relatives. Brooksyne focusing on her busy Sunday with a special choir concert. Ester worked at Fuddruckers and kept a close eye on her new pup, Sadie Willow. The potty training is definitely the biggest challenge!   This area of New York is rather desolate with a sense of abandonment as many have moved out but this church appears well-maintained.   Friday night I slept in a mountain cabin where I awakened to this wintry view. Spring weather comes a bit later in the season in this part of New York.   I visited two different sugar shanties where they were making maple syrup. This photo shows the fresh syrup right from the processor. I’ll share more maple syrup photos tomorrow.   I enjoyed this delicious Sunday afternoon meal in a farmhouse.   Meanwhile, Brooksyne sang with Calvary Church Choir in three services, the last one being the Sunday afternoon spring concert we promoted last week. She was pleasantly surprised to look out and see several friends including Ashley who was sitting on the front row. Ashley assisted her in leading worship in the church we last pastored in Mastersonville. She also plays cello and was a faithful choir member in several musicals Brooksyne directed in the past. She is now married and has a precious young son, Carsen.   Another set of friends – the Pearce family including Nila, standing by Brooksyne, who was also a faithful choir member and continues to help lead worship at Mount Pleasant. Amazingly, Ken and Nila’s oldest son, David, now stands only a few inches short of Brooksyne. We fondly look back to welcoming him to this world his first day of life. Later Brooksyne would be his Sunday School teacher for a number of years. Several others who learned about the concert here @dailyencouragement attended, but it was too crowded to connect.   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness”  Video  Wes Hampton

“He’s Been Faithful To Me”  Video  Damaris Carbaugh Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5c990c5024fe4', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160-5c990c5024fe8', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); });

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