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“A Good Name”

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 9:57am

  “A Good Name”   Message summary: A good name is not only passed on to us but is developed over time, really a lifetime, and the true judgment of success will not be known until this life is over and we personally meet the Lord. Having a good name remains one of our most precious assets that we must carefully guard.
  Listen to our message on your audio player.
  “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).

This last Sunday morning before our church service began I got acquainted with a friendly greeter named John Good. He commented how there are lots of Goods in Lancaster County.   We discussed one of them, a family business named “Good’s Disposal Service”, which is a trash hauling company. Their ads are run on a Christian radio station with this memorable advertising slogan, “Let God recycle your heart and let Good’s recycle your trash.” I smile and my spirit is edified each time I hear this ad. However, wherever you live and regardless of who handles your trash, you should let God recycle your heart!   I asked John Good what I thought his favorite verse should be and he didn’t have an answer. I suggested to him, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” He smiled and said, “You must have been a pastor”. I responded, “Well, as a matter of fact I have been.”   You may not have Good in your name but you can still have a good name!   We use the term “good name” to describe a person or business with a good reputation, which interestingly was the first requirement for the first deacons (Acts 6:3).   “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” A good name in the text means a name that connotes a person of honorable character with a good reputation. The latter part of the verse elaborates, “to be esteemed is better than silver or gold”. For instance when we refer to a business known for its quality and integrity, we say “It has a good name”. Having a good name is truly more desirous than great riches.


As in most things, having a good name is harder to build than it is to destroy. Developing a good name requires patience, effort, time, and other virtues, most of them included in the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). Yet it can all come crashing down with one very bad choice (though the one single devastating choice generally follows many other poor choices).

A good name is not only passed on to us but is developed over time, really a lifetime, and the true judgment of success will not be fully known until this life is over and we personally meet the Lord. Having a good name remains one of our most precious assets that we must carefully guard.

Consider your name. What do you suppose others think when they hear your name or read it in print? Does your name represent a person who has solid integrity based upon his or her virtuous character? Let us strive to hear the highest commendation by the Judge of all character, “Well done good and faithful servant”.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father God, the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, stands out among all the rest, for it is only in His name that we have power to combat the enemy as we come boldly to Your throne of grace. May our name, and all that we stand for, be respected among those who know us, including that of our family members who know us best, as well as those whom we work for. May the way we live and conduct our lives bring honor to You and blessing to our family, our community and to the kingdom of God. Amen.     This geranium was given to Brooksyne by her good friend, Dottie. At first she hung it but then decided the sleeping puppy planter looks especially rested when shaded by the flowers. If you ask me it looks like a dog is growing flowers out of his head.
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Yes I Will”  Video   Calvary Church worship team

“What A Beautiful Name/Agnus Dei (Live)”  Video  Travis Cottrell along with his daughter Lily   Finally today: A good name


This spring we bought a new gas grill and splurged with a Weber Grill which we are enjoying a lot these days!   Several years ago we passed the LH Brubaker Appliance store on the Strasburg Pike near Lancaster.   A sign advertising Weber Grills caught our attention with the phrase “Give The Gift Of A Weber For Father’s Day” which prompted Brooksyne to say, “I already have a Weber for Father’s Day.”

For non-USA readers Weber is the brand name of a popular grill although unrelated to me. The brand name is so familiar the sign didn’t even need to state, “Weber Grill”. That “Weber” certainly has a good name! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5d08ef5fee7da', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Practicing The Fifth”

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 11:26am
We pass these huge silos on Route 999 in Manor Township in Lancaster County, PA. Brooksyne was so impressed with the vibrant green surrounding these farm structures that she quickly snapped this photo, from her passenger seat, through the window of the driver’s door as we were swiftly passing. In fact, that’s how many of our farm views are taken. I just kind of suck in my chest and sit snug against my seat to give her a little more space to snap the image between me and the steering wheel.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“Practicing The Fifth“   Message summary: Today let us resolve to faithfully obey the Fifth Commandment to honor our father and mother, not just on “Father’s Day’ or Mother’s Day” but everyday.   Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

The man I am today is because of who you are
The part that you have played has truly shaped my heart
I thank the Lord above for every prayer you prayed
Believing I would be the man I am today   This last week, as I greeted men and women in various companies and looking to Father’s Day, I asked several people, “Will you be practicing the fifth?” The normal response was a look of puzzlement or in some cases agreement although they clearly had no idea what I was referring to. I suppose they just thought that was the answer I must be looking for.

The most interesting response was a friend who has been visiting his dad who has Alzheimer’s disease. He seemed a bit perplexed by my question and informed me he had done nothing wrong that would necessitate his need to practice the fifth, assuming I meant the Fifth Amendment which is essentially the right to remain silent!

However my question was referring to the Fifth Commandment which states “Honor your father and your mother“. This last weekend many of us practiced this commandment or may have been the recipient of others practicing it. For some the honor was posthumous, remembering our fathers who have since left this world, which is the case for both Brooksyne and me.

The Fifth Commandment is the first commandment in a category often characterized as horizontal, in the way we treat our fellow humans. This is distinct from the first four commandments which primarily relate to God and are thus seen as vertical. It is also the first commandment with a promise, “so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you”.

The Precept Commentary states, “The fifth commandment is so important that God attaches the inherent motivation of a promise, because this commandment is the key to all human relationships and the passing on of a righteous heritage. God designed the family and if this commandment is not “functioning”, that design will be disturbed. Witness the dissolution of the family in America, one cause being the failure of children to obey this important command!”

Today let us resolve to faithfully obey the Fifth Commandment to honor our father and mother. For children this is expressed as we obey our parents. To adults this is expressed when we live a life that will bring our parents honor as we uphold respect toward the family name. An even harder commission for some is to restore honor to the family name which has been tarnished by parent(s) who did not live honorably.

One of the dominant sins of our age is the failure to honor parents. Children who honor and obey their parents, and by extension all their elders, are foundational to an orderly society. They grow up into adulthood with a proper attitude toward authority. The commandments of God are inter-related and a breach in any one of them leads to a breach in others. A sign of the last times includes children who are “disobedient to their parents” (2 Timothy 3:2).

This generational dependency is that the young need the blessing, stability and wisdom of the elders even as elders need the honor and energy of the young. This is God’s foundational design for the transmission of truth from one generation to another. Paul wrote, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, Your perfect design for creating a family started with Adam and Eve. And so your order continues to our own generation. At the heart of our family relations the fifth commandment indicates that we’re to honor our father and mother which includes a promise that we’ll live long full lives. When we honor our parents, Lord, we also honor You and show appreciation for Your marvelous workmanship in our lives. We acknowledge that You ordained the family of our origin and we give thanks to You for our mother and father, brothers and sisters. Make us a blessing to them as the fruit of the spirit continues to grow in our lives and is played out in our relations to them. Amen.

 
Ester, age 10, gave me the VeggieTales tie on Father’s day in 1999 and helped Brooksyne bake and decorate a cake with a tie.

Each year on Father’s day Ester takes it off my tie rack and insists I wear it as I did yesterday. It inevitably gets lots of smiles and comments from others! We parked next to this restored dual cab 1966 Chevy C-10 in the church parking lot and Brooksyne insisted on a Father’s Day photo. Interestingly, this same pick up was parked in front of the church last year on Father’s Day (photo) as well so people could take a picture with their dads.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“The Man I Am Today”  Video  The Browders A portion of this song is used at the beginning of today’s message. A great message!
  “It Carried Him”  Video  The Perrys  In memory of Earl Martin and Jesse Dourte, two farmer/preachers who have impacted our lives. The scenery is outstanding.
  “I Want To Be That Man”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance
  “Find Me Faithful”  Video  The Perrys
  Father’s Day – Thank you, Dad  Video  Do you remember “playing catch” with your dad? I do. This brief video has a simple message and will touch your heart. It includes the following introduction:
  “From generation to generation, the bond of the sport has lasted. Whether it was when dad took you to your first major league ballgame, when he took you to the field for batting practice, or maybe just took you out back to have a catch, it has lasted. It’s the sport that’s different from any other sport. There’s something almost spiritual, the act of playing catch with dad. No words need be spoken, just the whiz of the ball, and the pop of the glove; an invisible line of communication. It’s safe. It’s sacred. It’s shared, between a father and son and will continue to be shared from generation to generation. The important moments don’t necessarily take place on the field. Because it’s more than a game. It’s about the love.”
  The Father’s Day Video That Will Melt Your Heart
  Finally today:   We enjoy sharing our photos of our scenic rural area such as today’s silo photo. The 717 Drone Guys, a father/son drone photography team based here in Lancaster County, have posted some beautiful videos such as this Lancaster County sunrise they posted yesterday. This one really blessed me: “Christ Alone”   Corn field behind a church! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5d07b16adf9c2', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Such Were Some Of You”

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 12:32pm

This morning we picked up some juicy red tomatoes at the Tomato Barn near Washington Boro, PA  

“Such Were Some Of You”

  Message summary: We who have turned to the Lord can joyfully declare, “I am washed, I am sanctified, and I am justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God”.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
  I’ve been changed (I’ve been changed)
In the presence of the lord,
I’ve been healed (healed), Freed (freed), Delivered (delivered)
  Today we want you to consider those you personally know who are heavily trapped in sin. Some mockingly declare that they are beyond hope and God would never love them. They may be totally unreceptive to the gospel and any attempt to share the Lord is met with scorn. I suppose many of you know people like this whether it’s alcohol, drugs, sexual immorality or some other bondage to sin. And I’m also quite sure some of you were once like this.

Tom, a long time reader from Arizona, shared his testimony with me and gave me permission to share it in a message. I believe it will bless you as it did me.

For thirty years I was a drunk, an intelligent drunk. I always worked and was good at my job, but I drank every day, from the time that I got off work until I went to bed. And on weekends from the time I got up until I passed out. I admired good drinkers and only hung out with other drinkers. I wouldn’t go anywhere that I couldn’t drink. It’s not as uncommon as you might think. No matter where I went, I was able to find people just like me. It was a way of life and I liked it.
The only problem was, I couldn’t do anything else — at least, not very well.   I loved wood carving, but could only do it for a few hours at a time. I knew myself well enough to know that I could never do it for a living. It would get in the way of my drinking.
My wife started going to church sixty miles away in Phoenix. She always asked me if I wanted to go, but never pushed.

Eventually I said OK, so she packed me a six-pack; three beers on the way to church and three for the ride home. A pretty good deal for me! I was content and my wife was glad I was going to church.

But then, after several months of this, on Super Bowl Sunday 1997, half way to Phoenix I started to cry. I told my wife I had to be prayed for; that I had to quit drinking.   That very day I was prayed for and I confessed my sins to Jesus and accepted the Lord into my life.

That was the last day that I drank any alcohol! I had no side effects, no shakes, no bad dreams, no sleepless nights and no desire to drink. Jesus took it away and I’m free today!


As I read Tom’s testimony I rejoiced and recalled the daily passage.  A lot of people squirm at it. It’s not politically correct. Man either wants an excuse for sinful behavior or he wants to redefine it. But the Scriptures forthrightly declare, “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

Emphatically the text proclaims, “Do not be deceived”. But so many are deceived today. Among the list of sins that exclude one from entering the Kingdom of God is drunkenness. As I prepare this message reading and examining the text closely I am aware that this passage chafes so many. It tells us the truth and so many just don’t want to hear the truth. They are deceived and want excuses. They want to be told that evil is good. Amazingly the logic is so twisted that for many in today’s world a passage like this is considered unloving and even hateful.

But note the glorious gospel in this passage in the last verse. “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

I delight in stories of changed lives like Tom’s. Jesus Christ continues to save, wash, sanctify and justify people all over the world. Many of you have a story that resembles that of Tom’s, though our testimonies vary in the nature of God’s deliverance.

But if we’ve turned to the Lord we can joyfully declare, “I am washed, I am sanctified, and I am justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God”.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, it is by Your amazing grace that I rejoice in the glorious transformation that has changed my life completely and forever. For You delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me into the Kingdom of Your Son in whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Thank You for Your glorious deliverance and heavenly transfer – and it is all because of Your love for me. Amen.

We especially pray for readers today who have loved ones trapped in alcoholism, drugs, addictions, sexual immorality and other types of sinful bondage that they would turn to the Lord and be set free.
 
Preparing tomatoes in the Tomato Barn. Washington Boro is famous here in Lancaster County for tomatoes with an annual Washington Boro Tomato Festival held each year in July. The tomato barn website has a bold testimony for Christ, “I would like to thank God publicly for what He has done here at the Tomato Barn, but most of all I would like to thank God for providing a way for me to have everlasting life through His Son, Jesus.  If you have never considered the everlasting, I pray that you would. God does not want anyone to perish. If God can use somebody like me with all my faults, He can use you as well.
 
We stopped by to visit Dylan yesterday who is manager of a shipping warehouse. We saw Dylan for many years at a company he no longer works for so it was good to see him again.

We also ran into Suzanne and her mother in the grocery store. We wrote about Suzanne and her remarkable journey from Vietnam to her adoptive family in this message “A Brand New Ending”.

Yesterday Brooksyne had a young chaplain assistant as we walked through Vallorbs who created a lot of attention.

Early this morning I visited with Charlie and Connor, two JK Mechanical service team techs. Charlie (left) is a Stevens graduate mentoring Connor who just completed his first year at the school. What a blessing to encourage these two young men who are working hard.   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“I Won’t Go Back”  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle  Video (with lyrics)
  “Mercy Saw Me”  Video   Calvin Hunt Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5d03ccc84f0e1', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“His Light Shines In Our Hearts”

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 9:30am
Lime Valley Mill near Lampeter, PA
  “His Light Shines In Our Hearts”   Message summary: May the Lord fill us all with the Light of His truth and may we shine brightly from within!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

I read a story in the Gospel Greats newsletter about a little boy who was with his grandfather at a hunting camp. When they entered the cabin they kept the lights off until they were inside to keep from attracting mosquitoes. But a few fireflies followed them in. Noticing them the little boy whispered, “It’s no use, Grandpa. The mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights.”

We are now enjoying a free nightly light show as we sit out on our porch in our rocking chairs at dusk and look out over our front lawn and the field across the road. For the next several months thousands of fireflies will put on a great show each night and sometimes the scene over the corn appears as twinkling Christmas lights.

Fireflies (also known in some regions, such as the Midwest where we grew up, as “lightning bugs”) abound in our area. This bioluminescent insect, scientifically known as Pyractomena borealis, is sure an interesting creature and we marvel as we observe this special creation of God.

When we were younger, like many kids, we liked to catch them. Every child should have the experience of catching fireflies! We would put them in a glass jar and put on a lid with nail holes so they could breathe and take them in our bedrooms at night. It was neat to see them light up in the jar. I don’t recall what we did with them the next morning. Fireflies have a distinct odor that’s reliably identifiable which is actually a chemical it produces to repel predators.

We visited with a family in York County some years ago across the Susquehanna River from us. Jesse, their 8 year old son was out on their porch watching their resident toad peek through the flowers. He came up with the “bright” idea of feeding the toad a few bugs. Fireflies were abundant so he fed the toad some fireflies which the toad readily devoured.

Then an amazing thing happened; the toad lit up from the inside as the fireflies continued to flash through the thin layer of the toad’s skin.

Jesse’s father, Scott, observed that in a similar way the light of Christ shines through us as a result of feeding on the Word. Today may we all truly let our light shine so that others may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven! (See Matthew 5:16.)

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The Scriptures acknowledge God’s work in Creation when He said, “Let there be light”.  These are the very first recorded words of God in the entire Bible. It’s God’s nature to display His light and dispel the darkness.

As believers we have His light shining in our hearts. The same God who initially created light has “made His light shine in our hearts”. The purpose is “to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”.

Vernon C. Grounds writes, “Instead of bemoaning the darkness, we can show the way to those around us. As Christ shines through us, lost souls stumbling in spiritual darkness will be attracted to Him who is the Light of the world.”

May the Lord fill us all with the Light of His truth and may we shine brightly from within!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, the light of Your love surrounds those who walk in the light. But You make Your light shine brightest when we’re surrounded by darkness. We don’t blend into the darkness but instead the light of Your love shines in stark contrast so that those walking in darkness can see the way to repentance through our changed lives. Even as we’re able to see God in the face of Christ, may the world see Christ in the face of believers all over this dark planet. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources “Shine, Jesus, Shine”  Video 
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“The Blessing Of Plenty”

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 11:26am
Brooksyne walked with our neighbor along Kraybill Church Road last night and heard these two sisters laughing together as they were pulling their own devised wagon train. In the forefront is a large patch of rhubarb where Brooksyne often picks from for her strawberry rhubarb jam as well as rhubarb punch.
  “The Blessing Of Plenty”   Message summary: Today may the Lord help us all to experience the blessing of plenty!   Listen to our message on your audio player.
  “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11,12).

Lou Holtz is a legendary football coach and inspirational speaker. He shared with a group of college graduates a perspective that we need to hear. He told them about growing up in a small town in West Virginia in what we would consider great poverty; a house with just one bedroom and 1/2 bath for a family of four. But he told the graduates, “We always had plenty. When I asked my dad for seconds he always told me ‘You’ve had plenty'”. He went on to share how blessed he was to have a mom and dad who loved him and gave him the blessing of a good upbringing.

But his dad’s reminder that “You’ve had plenty” is our consideration in this message.

Several years ago we heard Todd Nettleton at a Voice of the Martyrs conference for persecuted Christians. He shared about visiting people in a refugee camp in northern Iraq who had fled from ISIS. The screen showed a photo of an Iraqi family that had converted from Islam to Christianity; a husband, wife and five very young children, including a baby. The photo was taken in front of a community tent where they slept along with many other refugees.

Todd saw how little the family had to eat, the lack of supplies for the children, and the very harsh conditions of their living quarters. His heart was heavy as he took it all in so he asked the father in earnest, “How can we help you? What would you like us to ask others to pray about?” The man thought for a moment, shook his head and said, “We have everything we need”.

What an amazing outlook. Conditions we would find unbearable were deemed sufficient for this grateful dad. I wonder how comfortable the tent was, shared with so many. Did they each have a bed and separate bedrooms? How tasty were their meals? I wonder if they had cable access to their television or internet for their smart phones and computers, or whatever else we deem necessary for daily life and feel we just have to have. (Of course I say this in thoughtful jest.)

But the father told Todd, “We have everything we need.” I really need to remember that the next time I complain either outwardly or inwardly about something petty (probably today).

This young Iraqi believer likely had little to no formal training in Bible and theology but he really understood. He was expressing and experiencing what the apostle Paul wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11,12).

Let us consider the phrase in our daily text, “I know what it is to have plenty”. What do you think Paul meant by “plenty”? Did he know what it was to have a big house with several bathrooms, appliances and entertainment systems like we have? Did he know about supermarkets with abundant and varied foods? Did he travel in a suite on his ocean voyages? Of course not. Plenty to Paul and most in his age would seem like poverty to us! But Paul had learned one of life’s most valuable lessons, “the secret of being content“.

The Precept Austin commentary states: “Contentment is never the result of multiplying riches, increas­ing pleasures, or gaining fame. All these only incite discontent, for when one obtains them, he finds he still is not satisfied. Con­tentment does not depend upon things on the outside, but results from conditions on the inside!”

Today may the Lord help us all to experience the blessing of plenty!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, help us to look beyond material provisions and recognize that the value of spiritual blessings far exceed our temporal needs and pleasures. We often live in anticipation for that which we don’t presently have. Help us instead to appreciate and tenderly care for that which You have already entrusted to us, whether it’s the people in our lives or our material blessings. May our faith in You increase as we build and store up our treasure in heaven rather than chasing after fool’s gold here on earth. And may our resolve to stand firm intensify as we see the day of Your return approaching. Amen.


Last night my young neighbor drove over in his golf cart (a popular mode of transportation on our country road these days) and asked me if I wanted to ride with him around the farm. Janden is only 22 but is a very polite, mature young man. We have watched him grow up since he was only about 5 when we moved here. This is a photo of his Grandpa’s farm looking across Donegal Creek. If you enlarge you’ll see the sheep grazing.
Click to enlarge
 

The front wraparound porch at his grandpa’s house. Click to enlarge   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain”  Video  A song written and sung by Mike Book based upon 1 Timothy 6:6 in the New Testament of the Bible.
  Finally today:

We had an interesting question from a reader yesterday: “You post a photo from your travels every morning at the top of your daily encouragement. I am curious as to when you find the time to do anything but drive around taking photos of the wonders of creation?” That’s a good question! I answered, “Sometimes it’s leisure travel but usually it’s just what we see going from chaplain stop to chaplain stop or to church or other area places. This is a very scenic area.” We all three enjoy photography and with cameras on our phones we always have them with us and enjoy taking and sharing our photos with others. Although we hope you read our messages we are aware some just look at the photos!   Yesterday we drove down to Baltimore to pick up Ester at the BWI Airport, who had been visiting her Aunt Elaine and as well as her boyfriend, Jason, who lives next door to Elaine in New Braunfels, Texas. We crossed the Susquehanna River heading out and Brooksyne snapped this photo from the Rt. 30 bridge looking up the river.

Heading back home Ester took this photo from the other side of the bridge looking down the river toward Chesapeake Bay.
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“Repurposed Lives”

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 11:45am
We passed this creative example of repurposing yesterday in Northumberland County. It’s a good thing the grill isn’t working lest the flowers go up in smoke!
  “Repurposed Lives”   Message summary:  God has a purpose for each of us. There are aspects of this purpose common to all who follow Christ. Although we may not choose to word it the same way, it would be very similar to my “personal mission statement” that I wrote many years ago. This, of course, could also be called my “personal purpose statement.” I purposefully place it in the footers of each daily encouragement message. It reads, “I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God’s Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life’s goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity.”   Listen to our message on your audio player.   “Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1). “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15). “You, however, know all about my purpose” (2 Timothy 3:10). “When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation” (Acts 12:36).   We enjoy the challenge and sometimes savings of repurposing, that is, finding a purpose for an item different than its original intent. In the last several months I have used discarded material from various companies for projects around my home including balusters for my deck railing (that were originally purposed for water lines in chicken houses), stainless steel lattice material (scrap from a cut piece), Azek stair risers (scrap pieces from a fencing company), etc. See photos below.
  Today let us consider a much greater intent of repurposing that will far surpass that of temporal repurposing; that is, repurposed lives. Prior to his conversion on the Damascus road Saul had a purpose described in Acts 9:1, “Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.”  He was a great persecutor. I suppose his mission statement would read “persecutor of Christians.”

But his life was transformed. At his conversion his new purpose was made known, “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15). You might say at conversion Paul’s life was repurposed.

Paul, as he came to be known, is often considered the greatest missionary of all time and faithfully fulfilled that purpose. Toward the end of his life in his final letter he wrote in confidence to Timothy, “You, however, know all about my purpose” (2 Timothy 3:10).

A vital question we should ask is, “Why do I exist?”. God created each one of us with purpose. One of the greatest innate needs common to all people is a purpose for our existence. Many aimlessly drift throughout their lives with little sense of direction or purpose. As a young Christian I learned to share my faith using a booklet called “The Four Spiritual Laws” which begins with the phrase, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Of course the noun “plan” can be equally understood as “purpose” and truly God has a purpose for each one of us.

2 Timothy is considered the last letter that Paul wrote. The first nine verses in chapter three list over twenty-three godless characteristics evident in a period that Paul describes as “terrible times in these last days”.  In fact it is also a description of the world in which we live today. Paul seems to sum the list up with the phrase, “these men oppose the truth”.

But beginning in verse 10 Paul lists a number of positive personal characteristics he was confident that Timothy had observed in his life and thus was well acquainted with: “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me, the persecutions I endure”. Paul demonstrated these characteristics day by day; during periods of peace and during times of testing, when he had plenty and when he was in need. It wasn’t just the words Paul used to teach, but his way of life that reinforced that which he professed.

Among the characteristics he listed was “my purpose”. The word “purpose” means a plan or a resolve, denoting that a decision has been made. Another reference states this purpose to be the guiding motive of my life and work.

God has a purpose for each of us. There are aspects of this purpose common to all who follow Christ. Although we may not choose to word it the same way, it would be very similar to my “personal mission statement” that I wrote many years ago. This, of course, could also be called my “personal purpose statement.” I purposefully place it in the footers of each daily encouragement message.  It reads, “I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God’s Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life’s goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity.”

But we believe God has also specifically equipped each of us for the unique purpose He has for our life. This purpose varies depending on the gifts, challenges, and callings God has granted us. In Acts 12:36 we read, “When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation”. My goal is to serve God’s purpose for my life in my generation. What about you?

Here are three questions to consider today as you live a repurposed life:

• Do I know my main purpose in life, both general and specific?
• Do the people who know me clearly observe me living according to my purpose?
• Do my priorities in life reflect this purpose?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Your purpose in my life, Lord, is seen in a multitude of ways; whether it is in my vocational training; in the way I raise my children; in the relationships I engender or in the way I use my gifts to touch other lives. But Your purpose in my life is especially visible to others in my response to heartache, betrayal, disappointment, suffering, and loss. Your purpose can be seen when I choose not to repay evil for evil, but rather good for evil. Lord, as I keep Your purpose for my life always before me I will remember that much good spiritual fruit can be developed in me in the ups and downs I encounter daily. May I be faithful in making choices today that reflect Your purpose in my life. Amen.   Whenever you repurpose it’s a good idea to have some sense as to what the original item was used for. Brooksyne and I are both “repurposers” and find fulfillment in discovering unusual bargains along life’s way and a use for many disposed items.
 
Yesterday afternoon, following our chaplaincy visits, we drove up to Northumberland County to transport our friends back home from a Pentecost Monday gathering with family where over 60 joined together in this home! The older girl cousins were sitting on the porch enjoying the last few minutes of their visit together before the families shared hugs and said their good-byes.

With a little elbow grease perhaps some hard workers could get this Northumberland County home back in shape in no time! Jesse pointed out an interesting feature. The house had a cement parged on the left side with scoring to make it look like cement blocks. See here for close-up. Apparently there was a time when cement blocks were new and considered a prestigious look!
  We drove past the Millersburg Ferry which still operates as the last operating ferry on the Susquehanna River. It crosses the river between Millersburg in Dauphin County and Buffalo Township in Perry County, Pennsylvania. The ferry was established in the early 19th century. Many years ago we crossed the river on this ferry. It still transports nearly 20,000 people per year including bicycles and Amish buggies. Here’s a great video.


The balusters are the vertical pieces between the top and bottom rails. The material I used is a slight bit smaller than the rails that Lowes sells for $4.23 each but no one notices! Each section between posts takes 15 so I saved a lot of money by repurposing.  
Stainless steel lattice on my front porch keeps the critters from getting under it and we think it looks rather nice. I really doubt if you can find stainless steel lattice anywhere without it being custom made.  
These white Azek stair risers were cut from fencing material that a fencing company no longer needed.
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Amazing Grace”  Video  Wintley Phipps with a powerful, very moving introduction. The song was written by John Newton, the former slave trader, who is a great example of a repurposed life!
  Finally today:



I always enjoy visiting our employees at their field work when possible. Yesterday I visited Charlie (left) and Keith, two JK Mechanical HVAC installers who are renovating a bank in Lebanon, PA. Charlie is studying for ministry at Lancaster Bible College. When I took the photo Charlie was inside the vault and Keith was fiddling with a switch to try to turn on a light in the vault. I told him better be careful or the door might close and Charlie would be locked inside! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cffce41cc793', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Living Boldly”

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 10:00am
Farm view on Flory Road, Lancaster County, PA
We pass this peaceful scene as we ride our bikes through our neighborhood.
(Click to enlarge)   “Living Boldly”   Message summary: Today in the power of the Holy Spirit let us live boldly for Christ in our generation.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29). “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).

I saw a newer friend at church yesterday who uses a rather interesting means of remembering my name, addressing me as “Stephen, who was stoned”. His name happens to be Paul and I address him as “Paul, who consented to my stoning”. Of course at that time Paul was known as Saul and had not yet been converted to Christ. Both Stephen and Paul were Spirit-filled, bold witnesses in the early church and examples for all of us.

Yesterday was “Pentecost Sunday” when we commemorate the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.* Peter, who just 53 days earlier, had cowered in fear and denied the Lord, now stood up and boldly proclaimed the living Lord, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). This demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit promised in Acts 1:8 when Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you”.

The daily text is from a portion of Scripture when the disciples first faced persecution following the Day of Pentecost. Their petition was not, as we might expect, for a removal of the threat or a ceasing of opposition and certainly not an appeal for an easy life. Jesus had made it very clear they would face opposition, “in this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33) and they seemed to have accepted this. The heart of their prayer was, “Enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness”.

That prayer was answered as the Spirit-empowered disciples went forth and “began to speak the Word of God with boldness. The next chapter records continued and increasing persecution and ends with this summary: “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ”.

Then the focus turns to Stephen who, even as he faced his brutal stoning, boldly proclaimed Christ and is recorded as being “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55). Later Paul wrote “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12).   And the list goes on and on through the remainder of the New Testament and all throughout the church age; men and women boldly declaring their faith in Christ. Today let us follow that example and in the power of the Holy Spirit live boldly for Christ in our generation.

What this dying world could use is a willing Man of God
Who dares to go against the grain and works without applause;
A man who’ll raise the shield of faith, protecting what is pure;
Whose love is tough and gentle; a man whose word is sure.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, in this depraved generation, darkness is sweeping across the land. Enable us to speak Your Word with great boldness like Peter on the Day of Pentecost. May we not be intimidated or allow ourselves to be bullied into a position that contradicts that which is revealed in Your Holy Word. We rely on the power of Your Holy Spirit to live out our lives in a way that honors You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

* Last Monday I mistakenly wrote that the previous day was Pentecost Sunday! (I suppose I was thinking of the association of Ascension Day which was the previous Thursday.)

Brooksyne has taught children since she committed her life to Christ in Junior High School. That’s now been almost 50 years and she’s stored up many funny memories. Once she was teaching on Elijah and she described Elijah as a bold man. Making sure that she was not talking over their heads, she asked her preschoolers, “Who can tell me what the word, ‘bold’ means?” Little three-year old Mandy quickly raised her hand and with a self-assured smile answered, “It means he didn’t have no hair.”

Actually it was Elisha who at one time was mocked for being bald (2 Kings 2:23). But both he and Elijah also demonstrated living boldly for God, as have millions down through the ages.

  Yesterday we had a child dedication at Calvary Church. You can see we sat behind the proud grandparents with the cameras and video cams!   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“A Few Good Men”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  This older song came to mind during preparation of this message. The words used to conclude the message especially grip my heart and is a great challenge for all men of God as we consider Father’s Day next Sunday. Of course the call to being bold is to both men and women and is demonstrated in the Bible by women like Deborah.   “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (different than traditional hymn with same title) Video   Calvary Church worship team. Our worship leader, David Ross, does a nice job of introducing the song.

Finally today:
We had dinner with Mark and Carolyn Pulliam at the Red Robin yesterday. We wondered if the restaurant is aware they are quoting a Scripture verse on their salt shakers! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cfe62aa1bf49', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“The Ultimate Catastrophic Failure”

Fri, 06/07/2019 - 9:30am

Lancaster County farm near New Holland
Click to enlarge   “The Ultimate Catastrophic Failure”   Message summary: I was saddened yesterday to see a fallen bird nest and eggs but far, far sadder is the image of fallen lives destroyed by sin and the failure to build on the solid foundation of Christ. That is the ultimate catastrophic failure.

Listen to our message on your audio player.
  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).
  I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know that God could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.
  Earlier this week we had a strong storm come through. Our lawn had twigs and small branches that had broken off trees strewn all about. Mowing the lawn yesterday afternoon I came across a sad sight. A bird nest had fallen out of one of our big oak trees and splattered on the lawn along with the broken eggs beside it. What was the beginnings of a new bird family was shattered after the nest gave way to the heavy rain and winds that blew and slammed against it.
    Christ’s parables deal with pertinent themes that would have readily connected with His initial listeners. His stories also have remarkable cross-cultural and multi-generational impact. He concludes the message known as “The Sermon on the Mount” with an illustration from His work as a carpenter (Mark 6:3). In fact some 2,000 years later we still build houses on solid foundations which calls to mind the old adage, “A house is only as good as its foundation.”

As I looked down at the nest and broken eggs a phrase from the daily text came to me, “and great was its fall” which prompted a consideration of today’s passage. An engineer would call this a catastrophic failure defined as “a sudden and total failure from which recovery is impossible. Catastrophic failures often lead to cascading systems failure. The term is most commonly used for structural failures, but has often been extended to many other disciplines in which total and irrecoverable loss occurs.”

This illustration is the final point that Jesus makes in His “Sermon on the Mount.” Although “these words of mine” may apply to all that Jesus said in His ministry, it seems that they would especially apply to His words in this sermon in Matthew 5-7. However, I also believe we do well to consider this application to the entirety of God’s Word.

Christ speaks of two different types of builders in Matthew 7: one designated as wise and the other foolish as He concludes the Sermon on the Mount. What distinguished these two builders was the foundation upon which they built. Jesus describes one foundation as built on the rock and the other was built on the sand. Both were subject to identical storm conditions but only one stood firm; the one that “had its foundation on the rock”.

The first foundation built by the wise builder is likened to one hearing Christ’s words and putting them into practice; the second foundation is built by the foolish builder and is likened to one hearing Christ’s Words but not applying them. The foundation is what a house is built upon and of course Jesus is really talking about our lives here on earth in this illustration.

Both houses faced the very same storm. In fact identical wording is used: “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house.” But one stood and the other fell. In studying today I especially noted that phrase “and great was its fall”.

The difference was not the ferocity of the storm but the veracity of the foundation.

Our Lord’s great emphasis in this teaching is that we are to be like the one whom He calls “a wise man”. When our home was built I am thankful that consideration was given to strong winds since we have a large open farm field across from us with little to break the powerful wind! The mother robin who built the failed nest surely did as best as her instincts guided her. But the foundation was no match for the stormy winds.

Today, you may or may not be facing howling winds in your life. But you will! We don’t know the precise time they will arrive but they most certainly will. We, as God’s people, need to pay careful attention to the words of Jesus and, equally important, we must put them into practice. By doing so, we’ll not be blown away but will stand on solid, unshifting ground when the tidal waves of opposition beat against our spiritual house.

I was saddened yesterday to see the fallen nest and eggs but far, far sadder is the image of fallen lives destroyed by sin and the failure to build on the solid foundation of Christ. That is the ultimate catastrophic failure.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father in heaven, we ask You to help us apply Your teachings to our lives so that our foundation will be unshakeable and storm-proof when the howling winds and surging rains beat against us. The foundation of this world is temporal and growing more and more decadent, so we choose instead to build our lives on the eternal foundation of Your everlasting Holy Word, as You teach us all throughout Scripture. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

We passed this interesting means of conveyance yesterday near New Holland, PA.

We saw many roadside stands with fresh home-grown produce, most using the honor system of self-payment. Brooksyne is dropping her money in the recycled sour cream container for the 50 cent tomatoes she purchased.

We enjoy visiting with employees at company breakfasts and luncheons. Yesterday Val-Co provided “make your own BLT sandwiches”, a first for us at a company luncheon. Val-Co makes equipment for both pork and egg production (mayonnaise) so we helped their customers.

Yesterday afternoon I tilled the small area in front of our porch where Brooksyne plants her annuals. Special thanks to Stephen, an engineer at Val-Co, who tuned up our Mantis tiller!
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Through It All”  Video  Booth Brothers

This Sunday evening we plan to attend a Booth Brothers gospel concert in Lebanon, PA. Any local readers who may be interested in attending this concert and others in the summer “Music In The Park” series see this site. These concerts have no admission charge and a free-will offering is received. The concerts are held in an outside amphitheater in a beautiful setting.

“Living Hope”  Video  Phil Wickham

What is catastrophic failure?  Article

Finally today:

A reader’s response to yesterday’s message on Embedded Rock; those hardships in life we can do little about and must learn to live with:

I am a Polio survivor, having contracted this disease when I was just four years old. I am now almost 80 and still dealing with the after affects. While for a good portion of my life I lived an almost normal life, but as the years go by, I have had less and less mobility. Now I am either using a walker or a wheelchair to get around. God has given me a wonderful husband who takes care of me. I am so thankful that I have been well cared for, first by my dear mother, who is now at “home” with the Lord Jesus. Now my husband. God is so good to me and I praise Him for giving me to many who care for me in so many ways. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cfa688598c2d', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“A Lesson From Embedded Rock”

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 9:30am
  Yesterday we had a traffic jam on the road in front of our house with some construction vehicles temporarily blocking this harvester. (Click to enlarge) “A Lesson From Embedded Rock”

Message summary: Most of us have some “embedded rock” in our lives, some way more than others.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

When we bought our home in 2002 a feature we highly valued is living across from “preserved farmland”. This means the property has a deed restriction so that it will remain agricultural. The large field across from our home has been planted with a variety of crops since we moved here; corn, soy beans, wheat and rye. It’s relatively flat but still drains well. Presently the baby corn is just starting to show. I have often used photos here in this series of this field view from our front porch.

In the field is a large pile of rocks about 20 feet wide by 100 feet long. I initially assumed a farmer many years ago piled the rocks there and wondered why he would make a rock pile in the field to plow around rather than off to the side or in a corner where it would be less obstructive to farming.

So I asked my neighbor, who farmed for many years, about this matter. He explained the pile is a very large outcropping of embedded rock buried deeply into the soil that could not be removed without great expense and effort. So the farmer just works around it year after year. For many years it has also provided me with a convenient place to take yard waste like I did yesterday morning.

When I view this pile of rocks I consider a spiritual application. The farmer could get really discouraged about this. It could just eat at him, year after year, having to work around this obstacle. He might mutter under his breath, “Why in the world did the Lord allow that outcropping to be there anyway!”

Most of us have some “embedded rock” in our lives, some way more than others. In this illustration embedded rock are those hardships in life we can do little about and must learn to live with.

For some it’s a physical disability. I consider Andrea from our church in New England who is a paraplegic as a result of an auto accident when she was a baby. For others it’s a family situation such as being born to drug-abusing, abusive parents or an unwed teenage mother and never knowing one’s father. For some, although they are very unlikely to be reading this material, it’s being born and living in a desperately impoverished land and/or living under horrific persecution. The Christian believers in places like Sudan and northeastern Nigeria come to mind.

A great example of an overcomer is Joni Eareckson Tada, who has lived with a disability since a diving accident as a teenager. She will turn 70 this year (the day after my birthday). She has had a remarkable ministry in spite or should I say in great part because of her embedded rock. Later this month Brooksyne will serve as a short term missionary at a Joni and Friends retreat for the disabled at Spruce Lake in the Poconos.

Now let me make it clear, God is certainly able to remove any form of embedded rock in our lives and amazingly He often does. But often we are called to work around it and even put it to use so that God may be glorified. There are matters that in God’s power He could remove, but in His providence he does not. But He does provide needed strength and grace to work around it or through it. Millions can testify to that grace.

Are you dealing with some embedded rock today? Are you in the midst of a trial that just goes on and on? Is there a major rock outcropping in your life or an embedded rock weighing you down? God’s grace is absolutely sufficient to sustain you and teach you through the trial. Paul kept the faith and so can you. In fact you will be stronger as a result of this trial and God will be glorified through your faithful response to His testing. The daily text is surely one of the greatest assurance verses in the entire Bible. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

 

Daily prayer: Father, I want to keep my life embedded in the Rock of Ages. Whether our trials are emotional, physical, spiritual, financial or relational we are absolutely dependent on You for everything that we have need of. You work in the supernatural realm while we are confined to the natural unless Your power is manifested in our lives. Help us not to resent or be embarrassed by our weaknesses, but invite Your Holy Spirit power to work through them, so that we can learn endurance, find strength and so You may be glorified. Give us confidence in the truth, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Amen.

 

A great reminder! Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“In Christ Alone”  Video  Booth Brothers

This Sunday evening we plan to attend a Booth Brothers gospel concert in Lebanon, PA. Any local readers who may be interested in attending this concert and others in the summer “Music In The Park” series see this site. These concerts have no admission charge and a free-will offering is received. The concerts are held in an outside amphitheater in a beautiful setting.

“Fall On My Knees”  Video  The Browders  A very thoughtful song.

“Yes And Amen”  Video  Calvary Church worship team

Joni and Friends family retreats  Brooksyne’s note: I am looking forward to serving as short term missionary at this retreat. I got my clearances and references and finally today the notification that I’m expected on June 23rd for a week of ministry. My personal thanks goes out to a couple readers that I used as references.

“Grunau Family”
Here’s a video of a family that went to the retreat that is very touching and also illustrates today’s message.

Spruce Lake (retreat location in the Poconos)

Information about Farmland Preservation Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cf915df4de8e', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Trained To Discern Good And Evil”

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 11:33am
Yesterday morning we passed this rural farm complete with silos, barns, pond, livestock, and planted fields in Lebanon County.
  “Trained To Discern Good And Evil“   Message summary: The need “to discern good from evil” is ongoing and will surely increase as we deal with “a spirit of delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).   Listen to our message on your audio player.
  “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
  Stephen is the youngest son of our friends Jesse and Anna Ruth. He’s a toddler now and, with six older brothers and sisters, he has lots of social life. He especially likes bananas and raisins. We were visiting with them on their porch and observed Stephen as he learned a life lesson.   Their farm has goats and goat droppings resemble raisins, especially to a toddler. (See here for photo Note: That’s not my hand!) Sighting what appeared to be a tasty raisin, Stephen scooped down to pick up the wrong organic substance before his alarmed parents and siblings intervened. Using toddler language they taught him an early lesson in visual discernment of that which is edible and that which is to be rejected.   We learn important discernment lessons all through life. As we age the need for discernment in many ways keeps growing especially in what has been described as our post-Christian age.*   Discernment means “the ability to judge well”. In a Christian sense we apply discernment in obtaining spiritual understanding and direction. Bible teacher John MacArthur states, “In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.”

The daily text describes the spiritually mature as those “who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil”. Other versions state, “have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (ESV) or “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (NIV).

Conversion is the miracle of a moment; maturing takes a lifetime. As a maturing believer I want to be able to discern good from evil. The world is full of obfuscation and we so need discernment. We all have a part in this as we choose to regularly feed on God’s Word and apply it to everyday living. This is the sense of the phrase “who because of practice have their senses trained”.

The need “to discern good from evil” is ongoing and will surely increase as we deal with “a spirit of delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). Our source and guide must be the unchangeable standards of God’s Holy Word, not the fickle opinions of popular culture. Going with the latter would be much like a dog chasing his tail in circles. Don’t we see this a lot in entertainment, politics, the media, education and, sadly even in religious settings?

The Holman New Testament Commentary makes this point,   “Christians are able to distinguish between good and evil. The terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’ may have both a moral sense and a theological sense. Christians are those who can spot moral evil and avoid it. They can see moral good and attach themselves to it. Christians also can distinguish between true and false doctrine. They will turn aside from the false and faithfully follow the true. Living the Christian life demands the spiritual skills of stamina seen physically in a long-distance runner. Unswerving, relentless applications of Christian truth and practice will equip us for a lifetime of usefulness which will continue into eternity.”
Phillip Hughes, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, comments,   “Good and evil should not be understood merely in an ethical sense here as signifying good conduct and evil conduct, but more particularly, as the context requires, in a comprehensive theological sense, namely, of good and evil, or true and false doctrine, which would include moral teaching. The power of discernment is something very necessary in those who are “mature” enough to be “teachers,” and something to be expected of those who, like the recipients of this letter, have been members of the Christian church for a number of years.”   Obfuscation is all around us. How is your discernment today? Are you in regular training? Are you actively practicing your faith? Are you discerning good from evil? This is a critical spiritual exercise. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).
    Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
  Daily prayer: Father, just as we hunger and thirst for physical substance, intensify our hunger and thirst for godly discernment, spiritual knowledge, and righteous living. Jesus declared, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Only as we regularly nurture our spiritual appetite will we delve into the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Through the daily grind of life the inexhaustible truths revealed in Your Word brighten our outlook and make certain of our eternal hope, while they also teach us discernment so that we know good from evil, those who are genuine from those who are impostors. Jesus is the living bread for hungry souls so it is our prayer that we look to Him to satisfy our spiritual hunger. Amen.
  * Postchristianity is the loss of the primacy of the Christian worldview in political affairs, especially in the Western world where Christianity had previously flourished, in favor of alternative worldviews such as secularism or nationalism. It includes personal world views, ideologies, religious movements or societies that are no longer rooted in the language and assumptions of Christianity, at least explicitly, although they had previously been in an environment of ubiquitous Christianity
  Further study: Obfuscation describes what is going on all around us, especially in government, education and media. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines obfuscate in this way: “to make (something) more difficult to understand”; “to be evasive, unclear, or confusing and uses this example, “Politicians keep obfuscating the issues.” Wikipedia describes it this way, “the hiding of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, willfully ambiguous, or harder to interpret.” Let me add that in many cases it’s outright lying, though we often hear the word, “mis-statement” or “mis-spoke “in place of “lying”!     Another view of the Lebanon County farm we passed yesterday. We visit a company each week in a rural part of the county and sure enjoy the scenery as we go.

For several weeks we’ve been watching the progression of life in a robin nest built on our back deck over our porch light, from eggs to tiny open mouths to this very crowded nest late yesterday afternoon.   A literal empty nest this morning. I saw the fledglings on the ground.   I have plans to replace this light which no longer works so I was waiting for the present residents to leave. They have made quite a mess on the house’s trim!   We saw this gift bag in a store yesterday. What merchants won’t do to sell merchandise!   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources “Still”  Video  Booth Brothers

This Sunday evening we plan to attend a Booth Brothers gospel concert in Lebanon, PA. Any local readers who may be interested in attending this concert and others in the summer “Music In The Park” series see this site. These concerts have no admission charge and a free-will offering is received. The concerts are held in an outside amphitheater in a beautiful setting.   Finally today:

  Yesterday we shared a gardening quiz. See yesterday’s message if you would like to take it.
  Here are the answers to the gardening quiz (answers are in bold)

  1. Mulch is used to smother weeds, beautify flower beds and base of trees, and help retain moisture.

2. Old garbage can be turned into compost which is used to enrich soil and stimulate plant growth.

3. What pesty insect has a problem with drinking beer, much to its demise? Slugs.

4. A product that helps plants grow in quality and quantity is called fertilizer.

5. Name two early spring vegetables that will withstand light frosts.  Lettuce, cilantro, spinach, peas, broccoli, onions, & a few others.

6. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows your area to be in which growing zone? #6b in our area but this will vary depending on where you live. (See here for a zone map for the United States & Canada).

7. The process of the sprouting of a seed is called germination.

8. The method of gardening utilizing only materials derived from living things (i.e. composts & manures) is called organic.

9. The process of digging up a plant and moving it to another location is called transplanting.

10. The science of growing plants in mineral solutions or water, instead of in soil is called hydroponics.

11. A flower that grows only one growing season is called an annual.

12. A plant or ornamental that returns year after year is called a perennial. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cf7e0e41bf0a', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Like A Well-Watered Garden”

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 9:30am
 

A good use for this old chair as a flower planter in this well-watered garden!

“Like A Well-Watered Garden”   Message summary:  Today may we indeed be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11).

The last several days we have been doing a lot of work in both our vegetable and flower gardens. We’ve scaled down a bit as we have aged but Brooksyne still planted several tomato and pepper plants. We have found we can get good prices on fresh vegetables at roadside stands as we travel the rural roads in our area, but there’s nothing like picking your own home-grown tomato!

Brooksyne focuses on the flowers with annuals in the front of our house and several hanging baskets and potted plants. Yesterday I dug out and relocated a barberry bush and a holly bush to a more suitable location for growth.

Our gardens are well-watered right now due to recent heavy downpours in our area. In Isaiah the illustration is given that as God’s children we are “like a well-watered garden” in a “sun-scorched land”.

Let’s consider this verse phrase by phrase.

  • “The LORD will guide you always.” What a blessing to have an assurance of God’s guidance in all our life. The Psalmist prayed, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long” (Psalm 25:5). Jesus taught concerning the work of the Holy Spirit, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
  • “He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land.” Life can certainly at times be described as “sun-scorched”. It may be a time of intense and/or lasting trial. Others live in very harsh conditions. But God promises to satisfy our needs. A beloved verse many of us have memorized is Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”.
  • “and will strengthen your frame.” Thank God for His strength imparted to us! It’s a truth taught all through the Bible. After the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea Moses and the Israelites sang a song with these words, “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory” (Exodus 15:2). Isaiah wrote, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Nehemiah reminded the people, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Paul wrote, “For when I am weak, then I am strong(2 Corinthians 12:10).
  • “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail”. Today most get their food from a supermarket and their water from a tap, with little consideration given to the source. But both of these images would have meant so much to the ancient people in an agricultural society and still do for all today who grow their own food and use water from a spring or well.
Today let us rejoice in the spiritual application of this verse. May we indeed be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we want our soul to be like a well watered garden, like a spring that never runs dry. Therefore we rely on Your guidance, for You guide us in Your truth and teach us, and our hope is in You all the day long. You satisfy our needs in a sun-scorched land, for You supply all our needs according to Your riches in glory through Christ Jesus our Lord. You strengthen our frame and give us victory, for You uphold us with Your righteous right hand so we will not fear since You are for us and not against us, for when we are weak then You are strong in and through us. Amen.

(Prayer based on Scripture texts used in our message today.)

Note: We were incorrect in yesterday’s message in stating this last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, which will be next Sunday, June 9! I guess I was so excited to get that teaching in I jumped ahead!

  Our Amish neighbor Eli is growing lettuce in this long patch beside other crops. Perhaps you buy this type of lettuce in the grocery store as we often do. It was neat to see it commercially grown right in our neighborhood.

Saturday the Susquehanna River was high at the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge indicative of the abundant rain we have had.

Saturday we had our first seasonal hummingbird sighting in front of our home.

These Amish greenhouse owners at the Hillside Acres Nursery are very entrepreneurial, offering these old chairs for sale to be used as planters!   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources “Satisfied”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band   “Big Enough”  Video  Joseph Habedank
  Finally today:

  For those who enjoy quizzes here’s one that Brooksyne prepared.

Testing Your Gardening Knowledge


1.  _______________ is used to smother weeds, beautify flower beds and base of trees, and help retain moisture.

2. Old organic waste such as coffee grounds and vegetable peelings can be turned into __________ which is used to enrich soil and stimulate plant growth.

3. What pesty insect has a problem with drinking beer, much to its demise?  ______________.

4. A product that helps plants grow in quality and quantity is called _____________________.

5. Name two early spring vegetables that will withstand light frosts.  __________________.

6. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows your area to be in which growing zone? ________. (This answer will vary based on where you live.)

7. The process of the sprouting of a seed is called ________________.

8. The method of gardening utilizing only materials derived from living things (i.e. composts & manures) is called ______________________.

9. The process of digging up a plant and moving it to another location is called _______________________.

10. The science of growing plants in mineral solutions or water, instead of in soil is called ___________________.

11. A flower that only grows only one growing season is called an  _____________________.

12. A plant or ornamental that returns year after year is called a  _________________________.

We will post the answers to this quiz tomorrow! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cf672f06cb49', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Power To Proclaim”

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 11:50am
Flowers centered in the leftover wire wheels at Brooksyne’s Uncle’s cabin at Mountain Top, Arkansas. Flowers and car parts give expression to both the lady and man of the house.
  “Power To Proclaim“   Message summary: Today the power to proclaim is still available and so needed. Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit, bear a faithful witness for Christ, and proclaim in word and deed His glorious message of love and redemption!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

We visited with a young couple at lunch following our church service yesterday. Josh and Katie will soon leave the states for missionary service in a restricted area. Josh is a Penn State trained engineer and has worked in the secular world for the last seven years since his graduation. He plans to use his engineering background to gain entry and Katie will use her nursing background as they seek to provide a service while letting their light shine for Christ. They are following the call of Jesus Christ in our daily text to be His witnesses.

Yesterday churches around the world celebrated Pentecost Sunday, considered by many to be the birth of the church. Years ago we were in a small church and, at the suggestion of a senior member, we sang “Happy Birthday” to the church, something neither Brooksyne nor I ever recall doing before in our church backgrounds!

Before Jesus ascended into heaven He promised the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and stated very clearly the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit in our daily verse. It can be summed up in the phrase, power to proclaim.

Some 726,000 days have passed since the initial outpouring when God’s Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 who gathered in the Upper Room just fifty days after the Resurrection and ten days following the Ascension. What a marvelous day that was and today, like then, the Holy Spirit continues to empower men and women, young and old to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Today, most of you are back at your workplace, having left the spiritual comfort zone of your church and home to enter the mission field God has called you to. That’s how we should view work. Many of you are surrounded by people who curse and blaspheme God. Increasingly, people may mock and revile you because of your stand for Christ. These are the very people that God has empowered you to be a witness to and to proclaim his message in part by showing in every way the teaching about God our Savior is attractive! (see Titus 2:10)

God has called you to be a witness (Gr. “martus”). Now this will certainly include the verbal defense and explanation of our faith when opportunities arise. However it really involves all that we are; Christ’s character being formed and demonstrated in our lives.

It is God’s plan to continue to fill His people with the Holy Spirit even as He did in the book of Acts. Peter preached a powerful sermon following the initial outpouring in Acts 2 and 3,000 people were saved! We need the power of the Holy Spirit today. In examining Peter’s sermon we note that God gave Peter power to proclaim the Gospel message and he demonstrates four characteristics we need in our witness:

1) The power to proclaim follows the Lord’s strength to stand up (Acts 2:14).
2) The power to proclaim results in the Scriptures being opened and exposited. Notice Peter’s use of Scripture in his sermon (Acts 2:17-21, 25-28 and 34,35).
3) The power to proclaim comes from a life centered on Jesus (Acts 4:13).
4) The power to proclaim must include the foundational message of the Gospel. Peter stuck to the basics. In Acts the main things are the plain things (Believe, repent, be baptized, be filled with the Spirit, walk with Jesus). Let this be true in your own life and witness. (Acts 2:42)    Today the power to proclaim is still available and so needed. Let us all be filled with the Holy Spirit, bear a faithful witness for Christ, and proclaim in word and deed His glorious message of love and redemption!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, I’m so thankful that when Jesus departed from the earth and ascended into heaven You did not leave us comfortless or without guidance. Instead Your Holy Spirit empowers us so that we can effectively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through Scriptural teaching and through our godly example. Help us to be faithful in our walk and grace-filled in our talk in the mission field You’ve appointed us to. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.     Today we share some photos from Brooksyne’s trip she returned from last week to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.   Brooksyne and Ester at the Alamo in San Antonio, TX.   Goats are fun to watch wherever they live! These are in New Braunfels, Texas next door to Brooksyne’s sister’s place.   This old tractor resting but waiting for someone to lovingly restore it on Mountain Top Road (Google map) in rural Arkansas, near Brooksyne’s uncle’s cabin.  

Ester sits low in this old Ford truck at the Route 66 Historical Village, Tulsa, Oklahoma just up the street from Brooksyne’s Daniel Webster High School.   Tornado damage in Sapulpa, Oklahoma about four miles from the motel where Brooksyne stayed in West Tulsa. Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Glorious Day”  Video  Calvary Church worship team

  Finally today:

This plaque has a very personal message for Brooksyne’s Uncle Carroll. Several years ago he had a terrible run-in with his bull and it really messed up the right side of his face and eye. After plastic surgery his skin was restored though the eye has some permanent damage. Brooksyne found this plaque awhile back and took it with her to present it to Carroll at their family reunion in Arkansas. He and others found it to be an amusing but also realistic message of the danger of a fierce bull. He is going to hang it in his cabin on the mountain as a reminder. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cf5424124d32', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“How To Be Remembered Forever”

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 9:30am
Yesterday we stopped by to see our friends at The Old Windmill Farm and were blessed with these freshly-picked strawberries in a commercial size stainless steel bowl. The Lapps were greatly blessed with a banner crop this year and the children let us know it took the whole family to pick all the strawberries.  If memory serves me correctly they picked three or four bowls this size. Brooksyne prepared strawberry topped cake with ice cream for our dessert last night. She froze most of the berries to mix them later with her rhubarb for strawberry rhubarb jam.   “How To Be Remembered Forever“   Note: Due to being very busy we did not post a Daily Encouragement message yesterday.

Message summary: We want to follow Jesus Christ and seek to live as a righteous people according to His plan during the days ordained for us on this side of eternity. “The righteous will be remembered forever”. This is a promise we want to live for! We welcome each reader to join us.

Listen to our message on your audio player.


“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:16). “The righteous will be remembered forever” (Psalm 112:6). “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
  We had a visitor yesterday afternoon. Rick Masciantonio stopped to visit us. He and his wife, Elizabeth, and their three sons were a part of the congregation we served in Massachusetts in the 90’s. Rick is very active in ministry and now serves a church as their pastor on Cape Cod. He was down this way for a “Banner Of Truth” conference. It was a joy to hear of his faithfulness to the Lord. Now in his late 50’s he remains vibrant with spiritual energy. Apart from leading the congregation of the church he serves, he teaches weekly Bible studies at a state prison and a nursing home, as well as a weekly study in his home.

Rick did not foresee God’s plan for him during his youth. In fact he likely gave little thought that he might become a devout follower of Christ. But God had His eyes on Rick even while he was being knit together inhis mother’s womb. After he joined the US Navy several devout Christian sailors shared their faith, lived out their testimony, and led the wayto Rick’s conversion while serving on a ship near Newport, Rhode Island.

In Psalm 139 David acknowledges the omniscience of God, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance”. While David was being knit together in his mother’s womb God saw him. God knew the days ordained for him even before his birth, “and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them”.

The Apostle James says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Nearly 2,000 years have passed since Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Our life (in a life span of 80 years) will only comprise a small fraction of that period of time (only about 4%). That’s pretty humbling isn’t it? And if you go all the way back to creation it’s an even smaller percentage. If you consider eternity, well, it’s infinitesimally small.

But Psalm 112 has another perspective of this fleeting life. It extols the blessings of the one who fears the Lord. It begins with praise to God and then this statement, “How blessed is the man who fears the LORD.” But today we want to focus on verse 6 that states, “The righteous will be remembered forever”.

The highest form of remembrance is our devotion and service to God and our eternal, spiritual impact on others. Though only a small portion of Christ’s followers are remembered beyond several generations on this side, generations will follow their example and leave similar legacies of righteous living. We can be a part of that long chain of impact.

Today we challenge you to be remembered for:

* The spiritual, Christ focused impact you are making presently.
* The godly, eternal legacy you have the opportunity to leave behind.

We want to follow Jesus Christ and seek to live as a righteous people according to His plan during the days ordained for us on this side of eternity. “The righteous will be remembered forever”. This is a promise we want to live for! We welcome each reader to join us.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, help me to store up this vital Scripture today and all the days You have ordained for me; “A righteous man will be remembered forever.” When I’m tempted to compromise my integrity in exchange for ungodly choices may this Scripture ring alarm bells in my heart and mind. Let its truth persuade me to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live a self-controlled, upright and godly life in this present age, for Your way is the best way and it is the lasting way. Amen.

Strawberry Sundae atop a white cake. We decided to bless Rick with this “Servant’s Cup” and candy bar in appreciation for his over 25 years of volunteer service in teaching a Bible Study to inmates at the prison. He headed back to Pittsburgh last night where his father lives and a candy bar might be just a special treat after traveling several hours along and in the dark.
 

Another view of The Old Windmill Farm pond. The boys were excited about having several friends over and swimming in the pond yesterday afternoon since Ascension Day is a day of fellowship among the plain folks.

Ascension Day traffic in Lancaster County, PA   Hillside Acres Nursery, near Quarryville, PA is a beautiful rural greenhouse we have come to enjoy buying plants from.
  A reader from Ontario sent me two photos on May 22 of Kember prints I did not have in my collection of Kember prints. “I bought these at the Salvation Army in Bracebridge, ON for $1 each.” Here’s a page we developed concerning these prints. Kember prints  

  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“I Want To Be That Man”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance
  Bob, who leads services in nursing homes, responded to our message Wednesday “A Wretch Like Me”,
  “We were holding a service at a Memory Care Home.  As we started to sing “Amazing Grace,’ one little frail lady grabbed her walker, struggled to her feet, stomped her foot and loudly proclaimed, “I am NOT a WRETCH – I’m a Presbyterian!!!”
  David wrote in regard to our message “Post-it Notes For The Soul”,   “My dad in his nineties and losing his memory would often be talking about things I couldn’t understand when I visited him. I would read Scripture to him and suddenly you could see a light come into his eyes. He would often recite the Scripture with me and talk comprehensibly with me, especially about Jesus for a few minutes. You can’t tell me God’s Word doesn’t have power. I’ve seen it and experienced it.”


Finally today:   Rick Masciantonio is one of the most studious men I have ever met. Here’s a photo of his home library. He told me he studies standing at the lectern.
  Over 100 of Rick’s sermons are up on Sermon Audio. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5cf12e5e36408', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“A Wretch Like Me”

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:05pm
Monday afternoon we passed this Lancaster County, PA farmhouse near Lampeter.
Looks like they kept adding on as the family grew!
(Click to enlarge)
  “A Wretch Like Me”   Message summary: We are wretched people in our sinful state. Apart from the redemptive power of Christ and the outflow of the spiritual fruit from His indwelling Spirit we have nothing of lasting, redemptive value to offer to others. But with Christ as our Saviour we have a life-changing, redemptive message that can save even a wretch like me.

Listen to our message on your audio player.


“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24,25).

There’s a song we’ve sure been enjoying the last several months called “Even Me” by the Triumphant Quartet. (Link to song below). Last night I picked Brooksyne up in Baltimore after her trip to visit family in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and on the way home this song came on the radio. It has a line that touches our hearts as we consider how great a God we serve and how great a salvation He provides for any who choose to follow Him.

For God so loved the world He gave
Gave His only Son away
A way to save a wretch like me

The word “wretch” is not used much today. It sounds so archaic. Webster defines wretched as “deeply afflicted, dejected, or distressed in body or mind; extremely or deplorably bad or distressing; being or appearing mean, miserable, or contemptible; very poor in quality or ability”.   But most all of us have sung this word in these two well-known songs. (Hopefully we still do!)

I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me;

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!


Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is considered by theologians to be his Magnus Opus (a phrase meaning “The greatest single work of an artist, writer, or composer”). Now of course all of Scripture is equally inspired by God but Romans contains the basic theological framework for all the rest of Paul’s collection of writings.

Romans has material that is not always uplifting but is a scorning assessment of the human race and the dreadful consequences of sin. The first chapter concludes with this stunning indictment on the human race: “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32).

The amazing thing about the Bible is that it’s always contemporary. Each of these behaviors or attitudes are easily observed in our world today. Not only can we see it around us but it is also possible to see it within ourselves. The framework was laid in this passage for an oft quoted text written later in Paul’s letter to the Romans, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). These verses overwhelmingly establish that we desperately need a Savior. Paul stated in regard to our desperate need for a Savior, “What a wretched man I am!

Paul, in what many see as a description regarding his state without Christ, declares, “What a wretched man I am!” (Surely he’d be required to attend a class for having a positive, self-image today.) But immediately following this he asks and answers his own question, “Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24b,25).

Perhaps the most famous hymn sung in church, state funerals, national and international events, recognized by believers and unbelievers alike is “Amazing Grace”. The writer presents a most unflattering description of himself in this phrase, “that saved a wretch like me”. The vast majority of people sing this stanza without pondering its deeper meaning since the familiarity of the song can easily override its disturbing message. And it sure doesn’t set well in our time when schools, libraries, and bookstores overflow with books promoting a positive self-image. We too must acknowledge our great need like John Newton who realized the depth of his sin and rejoiced in the height of Christ’s salvation.

As a believer Newton pastored a church in London, where he persuaded a young William Wilberforce, to fight to put an end to the slave trade, which passed in Parliament in March 1807. Nine months later, on December 21, 1807, the 82-year old Newton lay on his bed “packed and sealed, and waiting for the post,” as he put it. Barely able to speak, Newton’s attendant leaned over the bed to hear his last words, “My memory is nearly gone. But I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior!” The former slave trader best known for writing “Amazing Grace” spoke these words shortly before he breathed his last.

Like Newton we want our life to have a positive and lasting influence on others.  Only when we acknowledge our sinful state, as presented by these Romans passages, can we also recognize our need for a Saviour who can save us from our own wretchedness.

We are wretched people in our sinful state. Apart from the redemptive power of Christ and the outflow of spiritual fruit from His indwelling Spirit we have nothing of lasting, redemptive value to offer to others. But with Christ as our Saviour we have a life-changing, redemptive message that can save even a wretch like me. Hallelujah, what A Saviour!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the redeeming blood of Jesus that imparts mercy and pardon for my sins. Wretched as I may be, Your mercy is greater! Only a God like You chooses to delight in expressing mercy to the undeserving masses that defy Your Holy Name. Thank You for reaching me in the depth of my sin and raising me to the height of Your Holiness – it’s only through Your blood and it’s only through Your mercy that I come and You joyfully welcome me! Words cannot express my eternal gratitude for such indescribable love.     We’re always attracted to country views where horses are out in the pasture amidst the spacious blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds.
(Click to enlarge)   The sheer range of multi-colored flowers charmingly bespeckle this long driveway in Northern Lebanon County.   We can always count on a colorful display of flowers and plants each spring at the entrance to Audrey’s, a company we serve in northern Lebanon County.
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Even Me”  Video  Triumphant Quartet

“Victory In Jesus”  Video  Gaither Family

“God So Loved the World”  Video  Charles Billingsley

“His Life For Mine”  Video  Talley Trio

His life for mine, His life for mine
How could it ever be?
That He would die, God’s son would die
To save a wretch like me
What love divine, He gave His life for mine

“How Deep The Father’s Love For Me”  Video  Phillips, Craig, and Dean

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.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

“Oh, What A Savior!”  Video  Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

For further study:  Exposition notes for Romans 7:24   Finally today:  
Brooksyne’s Personal Note:  It’s good to be home again after an eleven day whirlwind of travel visiting family in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. It seemed most days were filled with either tornadoes or flooding all around us. Our motel in Tulsa was filled with either evacuees whose homes were flooded from the Arkansas River or victims whose homes were destroyed by tornadoes. So many tornadoes and floods are happening throughout the U.S. that we need to be in prayer for those affected.
  A highlight of my trip was personally meeting a Daily Encouragement reader, Charlotte Gaunt, whom I have communicated with via email or telephone over the past years. She lives in Cushing, OK, and met me for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Charlotte was delightful to visit with and I was blessed as she told me of her ministry involvement with Celebrate Recovery and Prison Ministries. She also showed me a couple photos of her furry feline family that she and her husband thoroughly enjoy. Likewise, I was delighted to return to my home last night not only to see Stephen but also our furry canine “girls”. At the sight of me they came running and jumping, as they happily greeted me, although Mollie went to the door and kept looking for Ester’s return only to find that she did not come back with me. Ester is with my sister, Elaine, in Texas for a couple more weeks. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ceeae02421ed', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Full Assurance Of Faith”

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 9:30am

Neff’s Mill Covered Bridge
(Click to enlarge)
  “Full Assurance Of Faith”   Message summary: May the Lord fill your heart with His blessed assurance today regardless of what you are going through.

Listen to our message on your audio player.   “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22).
  Over the last several months we have periodically mentioned our friend Tim, who was diagnosed with ALS this last January. He continues to share his journey on his Facebook page and recently posted this message of the blessed assurance he has in Christ.   “Several people have recently been asking how they should pray for me. Amid the rapidly declining use of my body I have come to this conclusion. While having God physically heal my body would be a great miracle (of which He is quite capable), being taken to heaven is an even better miracle. Then I get to see my Lord and family and friends who are already there. Join me in praying for the better miracle. And when that prayer is granted please don’t mourn but celebrate that I’m home, where I will be waiting to welcome you someday.”   Tim is enduring a trial he neither expected nor ordered but is placing his life in the care of God and this brings blessed assurance. Blessed assurance can be a testimony we all share as we especially consider:

* The provisions of God in our past,
* The presence of God in our present and
* The promises of God in our future.

A reflection on these truths indeed leads to blessed assurance!

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of the Spirit, washed in His blood.”


The message from this hymn text is one that is such a blessing to hide deep in our hearts; a musical expression of praise and glory to God for His work of salvation in our lives. Fanny Crosby writes about the assurance Christ gives us due to His redemptive work in our lives here on earth and a foretaste of the glorious rejoicing that will take place through all eternity.

In today’s text from the book of Hebrews we read a wonderful phrase, “Full assurance of faith”. What a great blessing this full assurance is. Assurance, which not a commonly used word apart from theology, comes from the word assure which in turn comes from the word, sure. It speaks of the certainty of our salvation “with no doubt as to our acceptance when coming to God by the blood of Christ” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary). Clarke’s commentary states, “Being fully persuaded that God will accept us for the sake of his Son, and that the sacrificial death of Christ gives us full authority to expect every blessing we need.”

There is surely a sound Biblical basis for Fanny Crosby’s song. It’s one of the greatest blessings of life to have a full assurance of faith. May the Lord fill your heart with His blessed assurance today regardless of what you are going through.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, as heirs of Your salvation, we have been purchased with the sacrificial blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. He gave His all that we might be saved from the eternal consequences of sin and have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We have the blessed assurance that we are redeemed from sin and saved for eternity in heaven. Thank You for such wondrous love and abundant provision on our behalf. Amen.
 


Yesterday I joined our friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt for lunch and then a visit to the Old Windmill Farm and then we drove around scenic Lancaster County. Brooksyne is scheduled to return from her trip to see family this evening!   Tourists from all over the world enjoy visiting the Old Windmill Farm and taking a horse-drawn hayride.  
Jim and Dorothy enjoying ice cream at the Down On The Farm creamery near Strasburg, PA.   The creamery conveniently offers a drive through window.   A Lancaster County bank barn   The gardens in our area look beautiful with all the rain. (Click to enlarge)

It was a beautiful day to mosey around the rural roads of Lancaster County!   Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Blessed Assurance”  Video  Walkers to Heaven   Finally today:
Brooksyne at the Fanny Crosby tombstone in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Fanny Crosby is surely one of the most prolific hymn writers in the history of the church. I am sure most of our readers regardless of language, nationality or even musical taste have sung her hymns such as “I am Thine O Lord”, one of her many well-known hymns. Other hymns you may recognize are “All the Way My Savior Leads Me”, “Close to Thee”, “To God be The Glory”, “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior, and so many others still sung in many churches.

Fanny Crosby is buried at the Mountain Grove Cemetery along I-95 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The cemetery was designed by the famous circus founder PT Barnum. In fact his monument is very near that of Fanny Crosby’s.

On a small, very weathered stone at the foot of the grave that we assume to be the original tombstone we read these words, “Aunt Fanny – She hath done what she could.”  Although blinded shortly after her birth she faithfully served the Lord. She overcame her disability to leave a lasting impact for Christ. She once shared this remarkable outlook, “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.” Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ced397883828', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Never Once Did We Ever Walk Alone!”

Mon, 05/27/2019 - 9:24am

Last Friday morning I saw this family riding in a spring wagon heading to shop at BB’s in Quarryville.
(Click on photo to enlarge)
  “Never Once Did We Ever Walk Alone!”   Message summary: This Memorial Day above all let us consider the faithfulness of our Lord and continue to sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. Never once did we ever walk alone. With our mouths and with our lives let us make known His faithfulness to all generations!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1). “One generation will commend Your works to another” (Psalm 145:4).

In the USA today we celebrate Memorial Day. Its origin dates back to the period following our Civil War in the 1860’s and is primarily a remembrance of those who died in that war and all the wars that have followed. Let us hope we never lose that focus.

But it has expanded in the sense many tend to remember all who have gone before us. Certainly today we will be remembering those in our own family, as Brooksyne and I have each seen our parents pass on to their eternal reward. Brooksyne and Ester have been visiting with family in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas since last week and connecting with her brothers and sister and extended families on both sides. We are reminded of the progression of life and to our own imminent transition from this present life.

Moses, in his final message prior to his death, hearkens the people to “Consider the generations long past”. A powerful oral history had been maintained about the creation and the origin of their national identity (children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.) That was about 3,500 years ago and I believe his words are still very appropriate for the people of God. We need to remember those who have gone on before us before and during our lifetime.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of these men and women as “a great cloud of witnesses”. They indeed witness and testify to the power of faith and of the faithfulness of God. This great cloud is surely comprised of all the Biblical greats that are mentioned in Hebrews 11 and others in the Bible period.

But I believe it also includes all those throughout the ages of the church who have died in faith; people such as great men and women of church history like Evangelist D.L Moody and Songwriter Fannie Crosby. Today, I am thankful for the impact in my generation of nationally (and perhaps internationally) known people like D. James Kennedy, Bill Bright and Larry Burkett, and many others who influenced my life and in recent years have gone on to their reward.

But the cloud of witnesses surely also includes the many, many throughout the ages who have lived their lives for Christ in relative obscurity, serving Him faithfully in their work settings, their homes and churches.  They loved their family, sought to raise their children right, worked hard, served as Sunday School teachers, janitors, nursery workers and the list goes on.

My life would be so different without the impact of the list of relative unknowns.  These are the people whom I have really known, and I believe God has ordained that we are to live with those in close community that He has placed in our lives, giving and receiving.  Our friend, Doris High, had a thought-provoking saying on her blog: “There is no way of belonging to Jesus Christ except by belonging gladly and irrevocably to the glorious ragbag of saints who make up the Church!”

You have some wonderful folks who have gone before you who made known God’s faithfulness to remember today, don’t you? If they’re now in the great cloud of heavenly witnesses thank God for them! If they’re still living seek to thank them.

But above all let us consider the faithfulness of our Lord and continue to sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. Never once did we ever walk alone! With our mouths and with our lives let us make known His faithfulness to all generations!

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we give thanks for the men and women who have given their lives for our freedoms over the centuries. We also give thanks for those who have impacted our spiritual lives as we seek to live faithfully for You; the Biblical saints, the early church fathers, the martyrs of the faith, the evangelists, preachers, and teachers of Your Holy Word, our family members and many others who showed us the way and we thank You for those extraordinary believers who not only lived for You but lived as an example of faith to those of us who were watching and learning along the way. Above all, we thank You for the person of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life to our eternal Home in heaven. Thank you for Your faithfulness and the fact that never once did we ever walk alone. Amen.


Yesterday after church service I headed over to the Old Windmill Farm for an early afternoon visit with the Lapp family.   The spring-fed Old Windmill Farm pond will be busy this summer.   Yesterday the kids swam in the pond for the first time this season. Jesse brought in sand to make the kids a beach. What a blessing to see this family spending time together and the love they have for one another.
  The children’s joy brought back memories of youth and swimming in farm ponds in southern Missouri.

Five at once (one is already in the water) as Stephen looks on. Next year he’ll probably be joining them!

A bird has made a nest in the reeds beside the Old Windmill Farm pond and these baby birds mistook my camera for Mom bringing a tasty worm! This is only a few feet from the pond beach with all the children’s activity so mother bird may be questioning her choice of nest placement!

Yesterday Brooksyne visited with her brother Jody and family in this Arkansas mountain cabin. She returned to Tulsa last night and of course that area has been hit with many tornadoes and storms. She returns home tomorrow afternoon and Ester will return to Texas with her aunt for two weeks.
  Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Never Once”  Video  Matt Redman  Our service concluded with this song yesterday. What a great expression of God’s faithfulness.

“Never Walk Alone”  Video  Brian Free and Assurance

I was especially blessed by the message yesterday by our pastor and thought of friends going through hard times. Here’s the link directly to the message.

Finally today: I have been doing a lot of work around the property since Brooksyne has been gone including installing my deck railing and making a fire pit. It was nice to watch the fire from my swing on my deck last night.

“Eternal Pleasures And Heavenly Treasures”

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 9:30am

Early morning sunrise view yesterday from a Smucker Laser shipping dock.
  “Eternal Pleasures And Heavenly Treasures“   Message summary: Here’s an outstanding spiritual principle. “He was looking ahead to his reward.” That should be our primary outlook in life as well. Are you looking ahead to your promised reward today? 

Listen to our message on your audio player.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26). 
  Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is a discount store founded here in central PA in the early 80’s. It now has 327 “semi-lovely” stores and there just might be one near you. Their motto is “good stuff cheap”. It’s a fun place to visit in part due to the humorous posters throughout the store such as the one shown on the left.

We receive a sales flier from them and this week a forlorn looking Ollie states “If Loving Bargains Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To be Right”. That got me thinking about the similarity to the attitude many have about the “pleasures of sin”. It would go, “If Loving (name the sin) Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To be Right”.

About 3,500 years ago, when Moses was 40 years of age, he made a critical decision to identify with God and His people. He correctly realized that the pleasures of sin and the treasures of Egypt paled in comparison to the eternal pleasures and indescribable treasures given by God. Likewise today, and in every generation, all the pleasures and treasures this world has to offer just can’t compare with the real deal.

Nevertheless many love sin to a degree they don’t want to be right with God. So much of man’s behavior can be explained by the pursuit of earthly pleasures and monetary treasures. The pleasure of sin and treasures of “Egypt” remain a great obstacle to faith for the unbeliever and a constant source of temptation for people of faith in all generations.

Moses certainly had the opportunity to enjoy the very best of this world’s pleasures. He had been raised in Pharaoh’s house and had every pleasure of that age available to him. But “he chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time”. By faith he placed value on eternal pleasures, which the Psalmist expresses, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

Likewise Moses also had the opportunity to experience the very best of this world’s treasures, Egypt being the dominant world empire at the time. But in a remarkable way “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt.” (This is an outstanding verse in that Moses lived some 1,400 years before the incarnation of Christ Jesus!)

Jesus draws this contrast in the Sermon on the Mount. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19,20).

We conclude with the last phrase from the text concerning Moses; it’s an outstanding spiritual principle. “He was looking ahead to his reward.” That should be our primary outlook in life as well. Are you looking ahead to your promised reward today?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

  Daily prayer: Father, keep my eyes focused on my future eternal reward as I run with perseverance the race marked out for me. Help me to exercise godly discernment so that I can readily identify opposition from the enemy as a tactic to make me falter or to steer me completely off course. Just as runners must keep their eyes on the finish line, help me to keep my eyes on the eternal One whose treasures far exceed earthly reward. By Your grace, I will complete this race and experience the eternal pleasures and heavenly treasures You eagerly grant to Your faithful ones! Help me to keep looking ahead to my reward. Amen.

Lancaster County view near New Holland, PA The Lapp Valley Farm

The Village Farm Market is one of our favorite stopping points and now has an abundance of flowers. Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources “Knowing You, Jesus”  Video  National Coalition of Men’s Ministries and Integrity Music
  Finally today:   Yesterday’s sunset from our front lawn. Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ce7f2e3be909', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“Post-it Notes For The Soul”

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 9:30am

My finished deck railing project! Now it will be easier to keep little Sadie on the deck.
  “Post-it Notes For The Soul“   Message summary: Post it notes can be an effective aid to short-term memory. We all need certain prompts to keep us on track, like using Post-it notes. Today we want to share about the most important memory prompts, reminders of spiritual truths, which we will call “Post-it notes for the soul”.
  Note: Podcast not prepared for this message. Too tired and need to get our early Thursday morning!
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things” (2 Peter 1:12-15).

Yesterday I completed a home improvement project of installing railing around my deck. I had procrastinated due to some odd angles but managed to come up with a solution. Projects like this go slower than when I was younger. Not only is my physical strength and endurance less than it used to be but memory becomes an issue as well. I got lots of exercise walking!

While working I realized I needed a tool and walk to the barn to get it, then when I got to the barn I forgot what I went in for. But walking back out to the work area would prompt what the need was and back to the barn again, hopefully not forgetting a second time!

It’s not unusual as we get older to have short-term memory loss (like forgetting where we put our wallet, coffee cup, car keys, cell phone, etc.)  These are increasingly common sources of minor frustration in our home as we transition through life’s cycles. Apparently a different part of our brain is used for long-term memory and it is not necessarily related.

As John Newton aged his memory began to fail him. This is demonstrated in a poignant scene from the movie “Amazing Grace” when Newton is shown in his aged condition declaring, “Although my memory is fading I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” His sight is also fading. He quotes a line from his own hymn, “I once was blind but now I see” and asks, “Did I write that?” He was assured that he had written those very words. Then Newton said, “Now at last it’s true.”

Post it notes can be an effective aid to short-term memory. We all need certain prompts to keep us on track, like using Post-it notes. Today we want to share about the most important memory prompts, reminders of spiritual truths, which we will call “Post-it notes for the soul”!

In the first daily text Moses shares some ideas regarding primitive post-it notes used to help the people remember spiritual truths. They are known as phylacteries. The Law of Moses prescribed the wearing of phylacteries to serve as a constant reminder of God’s Holy Word. These were small boxes containing slips of parchment on which were written portions of the Law. They were worn ostentatiously by the Jews on the head or left arm. In fact among the orthodox Jews they are still used to this day.

In the second text although Peter was confident his readers not only knew the truths he had shared but were also established in them. Nevertheless he pledged to be steadfast in reminding them of these things. He was determined to “make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” That’s a faithful minister!

Today we consider the nature of post-it notes for the soul. Actually in our own home these may very well be literal post-it notes with a Scripture verse that serve as a memorization aid. However in a spiritual sense we need to consider God-ordained means which will keep us on the right path.

Let us list several that we believe serve as these post-it notes for the soul:

  • Daily time in God’s Word and prayer.
  • Resources such as books, music, magazines, radio programs, internet sources and so forth that build up our faith.
  • Faithful attendance in a Bible believing church.
  • Restricting influences that tend to draw us away from spiritual things and a godly outlook. There are many influences that we must fully eliminate, but in reality there are situations such as an unbelieving household or work situations that are out of our control, so we must ask God to guard our hearts and minds from ungodly influences in these matters, seek to be a solid witness and declare I John 4:4, “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world”.


Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit that enabled the writers of Scripture to record that which would show us the way to You through Your Son, Jesus. The words of Scripture not only show us the way to salvation but guide us in our life’s journey. May Your Words be impressed upon our hearts as we give regular attention to them through reading and memorizing the Scriptures, participating in Bible Studies, listening to godly leaders expound Your Word, teaching them to our children. We don’t want a casual attitude about Your Holy Word, but rather we want to be earnest students of Your Word contending always for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints. Amen.


Additional thought: I have on occasion taught a senior class. Most class members have been believers for many years and are familiar with the teachings of the Bible. I realize particularly with this group my function as a teacher is to remind and reinforce truths they already know and spur them on to faithfulness toward God. Certainly I hope that I periodically share a new insight or perspective on an old truth but I am fundamentally committed to “earnestly contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). I am not interested in tickling ears (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Let me ask you a question as a maturing believer (if we are a believer we should all be in the process of maturing whether young or old in age). How do you respond when you receive teaching that you are familiar with? Among some I have noticed a critical spirit expressed by a “I already know that” attitude, while many clamor after “new teachings”. I so appreciate those who have a sweet, receptive spirit and accept the reminders of truth with joy often declaring a hearty “amen”. That’s how I want to be as I “mature” in years and Christian experience. May old well-known truths bring reassurance and refreshing to my inner soul.

Finally today:





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“Jesus Paid Our Debt”

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 9:30am

Church sign in Lebanon County, PA
  “Jesus Paid Our Debt”   Message summary:  Our biggest problem in life, our debt of sin, has been taken care of!

Listen to our message on your audio player.   “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2).

  It’s a joy to see inspiring messages as we travel the rural roads in our region. Many churches use signs with an inspirational message and many farms also have these small signs with a Scripture verse. Among the most creative are messages on silos. (See photo below)

Yesterday I passed a church sign in Lebanon County that had this simple message, “No Credit, No Problem, Jesus Paid Your Debt”. That reminder really blessed me. I turned around to take thephoto shown above but due to traffic I was a bit too far away to see the message clearly.

The sign brought to mind a chorus we sang many years ago:

He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay
Bible teacher R.C. Sproul, who is now with the Lord, contends the first daily text is the single most important verse in the Old Testament. Certainly the New Testament writers saw the significance of this verse, for it is cited three times.

Paul used this verse in his great defense of the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith in Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6. Surely, we can all rejoice in this fundamental declaration by God. James also uses this verse but adds the phrase concerning Abraham “he was called God’s friend” (James 2:23).

“Abram believed God”. It’s interesting that in each case the phrase is “Abram believed God”, not “believed in God”. Many today believe in God, but we are called to believe God. To believe His character, His trustworthiness, His truth, His declaration of our righteousness in Christ. For my fellow pilgrims going through a transition or enduring a trial, let us trust God in His immutable character of steadfast love and faithfulness!

He (God) credited it to him as righteousness”. This is the foundation of the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith. Consider this magnificent positional statement, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13,14).

Our biggest problem in life, our debt of sin, has been taken care of!
  Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.



Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
  Daily prayer: Father, there is nothing that brings greater satisfaction then the deep, settled peace in my soul that results from receiving Your forgiveness. Jesus paid the debt for my sin. He paid it in full and I fully commit my life to Him. There isn’t one merit badge I can earn or apply to my standing in Christ, for it is only through His grace that I overcome the power of sin. Thank You for sending Jesus and receiving His death as an atoning sacrifice for my sins. I stand uncondemned and fully forgiven through Your grace and I am so thankful. Amen.


Early yesterday morning we passed these donkeys in pasture in Lebanon County.  
This silo is in Lebanon County. Interesting verse to choose.  

We are blessed as we pass church signs with a thought-provoking message!  
This business on Route 322 east of Ephrata, PA (where we bought our bikes) is not ashamed of the Gospel!


    We passed this interesting sign in New Holland Pennsylvania. I find this sign interesting due to how it may be misinterpreted. Many of us raised in the Christian faith know what Calvary is (where Christ died) and that the phrase “Calvary Covers It All” is the title to a grand old hymn. But I wonder, especially in light of the business, if there are those who might think Calvary is the brand name for a new cleaning product!       Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“He Paid A Debt He Did Not Owe”  Video  Youth Choir at Gateway Baptist Church, Boiling Springs, SC. They are so excited that Jesus paid their debt and so should we be! This will make you smile!
  “Jesus Paid It All”  Video  Ivan Parker   “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band   Finally today: Brooksyne and Ester are visiting relatives in Texas so I am left to take care of the pets. Sadie made a mess this morning playing in the dirt! Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ce54fae0aeb4', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

“The Alpha And The Omega”

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 9:30am

Robins often build a nest on the porch light on our back deck. We’ve been watching but so far this year we’ve not seen the babies. We have a great view looking down on the nest from our bathroom window only about seven feet away. The white diagonal across the top is my gutter as she has made her nest under the eaves. This photo was taken several years ago.   “The Alpha And The Omega“   Message summary:  Today let us believe in and serve this faithful God, who is indeed the eternal “I Am”. He is the Alpha and the Omega.

Listen to our message on your audio player.   “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13).   He is the Alpha and Omega
The Son of God, the King of Kings
The Messiah, Jehovah, The Great I Am
Seed of Abraham   Keith was busy preparing numerous orders for shipment. He told me, “I am the alpha and omega”. Taken back a bit I asked him for clarification and he shared that he is responsible for both receiving and shipping for the company he works for!   Although I initially thought his statement sounded a bit sacrilegious I saw his point since he has a role in both the beginning and ending of the manufacturing process. He processes the incoming raw materials and then prepares the finished product for shipment. He assured me that he meant no disrespect to the Lord, who first uttered these words. He may be the alpha and omega for his company but there is only one true Alpha and Omega!
  The phrase “I am the Alpha and the Omega” is found three times, all in the book of Revelation. The Lord’s powerful self-declaration is among the last words in the Bible, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13).
Alpha (Ἄλφα), being the first letter of the Greek alphabet (as is our “A”) stands for the “beginning.” The English word Alphabet is derived from the names of the first two Greek letters, alpha and beta.   Omega (Ὦ), the last letter of the Greek alphabet (as is our “Z”) stands for the “end”. Because God existed from before all time and will exist beyond all time, there is no room for another God (Isaiah 43:10). Throughout the Father’s preexistence, the Son was always with Him (John 1:1-3; 8:54; Colossians 1:17).

Today let us believe in and serve this faithful God, who is indeed the eternal “I Am”. He is the Alpha and the Omega.

He is the Alpha and Omega
The Beginning and the End
Son of God, King of Kings
The Lord of Everything
He is Lord!!  
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Your existence spans eternity for You always have been and always will be. Because of Your generous act of redemption our bodies will no longer be clothed in flesh, but will take on immortality that exists for all eternity future. Our days will be unending as our sorrows cease to exist and our joy will know no bounds. Because we deal with the visible, we sometimes forget that You are our Intercessor, faithfully presenting our needs to the Father.  Help us to trust You even when we don’t understand Your plan, knowing in our hearts, that You do all things well and for our eternal good. Help us to look beyond our immediate need to see the spiritual fruit You are developing in our lives as we remain faithful, trusting You to work out that which concerns us. Amen.   


In the Gospel of John Jesus asserted His deity in using the phrase “I am” to describe Himself. They are known as the ego eimi (ἐγώ εἰμι) statements from the Greek words for “I am”.

1. I AM the bread of life. John 6:35,48
2. I AM the light of the world.  John 8:12, 9:5
3. I AM the door.  John 10:7
4. I AM the good shepherd.  John 10:11-14
5. I AM the resurrection and the life.  John 11:25
6. I AM the way, the truth and the life.  John 14:6
7. I AM the true vine. John 15:1,5 Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Alpha and Omega”   Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“The Great I Am”  Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean
  “Jesus, Messiah”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band Advertisements __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942-5ce3fd9505d0e', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', location: 120, width: 300, height: 250 }); });

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