October 21, 2011
The view from our home office window early this morning.
It is a bright blue sky with lots of sun and the feel of a crisp autumn morning. This morning Brooksyne sliced some freshly picked tomatoes from our own garden, sprinkled a little feta cheese and bacon bits on top and placed them in the broiler. What a nice treat – to enjoy a tasty summer delight in late October! A frost is sure to arrive soon and wipe out our summer plantings!
I had initially planned to use this photo today prior to deciding to use the view outside our window. This is the old Conewago railroad grade here in Lancaster County. I am not sure whether it is still used but farther along it has been converted to a rails to trails route. I am asking for suggestions from our readers regarding a Scripture caption for this scene.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).
Today is a special day for our family and ministry. First of all it’s Brooksyne birthday so that’s real special in our household! Women are bit more hesitant to share about their age so I’ll just reveal (with her permission) that she’s 5 and ½ dozen.
This is also the day this ministry started in 1996 with a short email to two friends (both of whom still receive these messages). I had preached a sermon in the Sunday evening service the night before on encouraging one another daily and that was the leading I had from the Holy Spirit as to how I was to encourage daily. Today, October 21, 15 years later, it’s still called “Today” so here we go again!
We want to consider the word “hardened” in the daily text. This translates the Greek word “skleruno” which is the very same word from which we get the word sclerosis in English. You may be most familiar with this word in the description of a disease called arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening and thickening of the arteries.
If you’re over 40 you’ve probably had your cholesterol checked. High cholesterol contributes to the build up of gunk (note: that’s not the actual medical term) in the blood vessels and that’s not good. This is a health issue I deal with, although it has decreased and I’m still working on it. The problem is that the kind of foods I like seem to have a lot of the stuff that causes high cholesterol. It’s a constant battle due to the abundance of great food.
Taking care of your physical health is important (see 1 Timothy 4:8) but it’s even more important to take care of your spiritual health. The warning in the daily text is every bit as needed today. We all know people that have become hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Satan is a crafty, creative, and persistent foe. His specific weapons will change, but his strategy and goal are always the same. He wants to harden our hearts. And from the very beginning sin has been deceitful.
Brooksyne noticed an interesting typo when she sat down to review the message this morning under the opening caption. I had mistyped, “It is a bright blue sky with lots of sin and the feel of a crisp autumn morning.” Well, she corrected the typo but actually the statement is true. In the midst of God’s colorful creation there is sin lurking whether we see it or not – we must be be vigilant when it comes to the devil’s schemes, otherwise we’re sure to fall into a trap he has set for us.
Today, we urge you to consider one who needs encouragement. Perhaps the Spirit will bring to mind one who has been discouraged in a matter, one who may even be struggling in their walk with God and whose heart is becoming hardened. It seems from reading the text the act of encouraging is beneficial both to the encourager as well as the one being encouraged. Let us be vigilant in the fight against spiritual arteriosclerosis caused by the cholesterol of sin!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, we want our hearts to remain soft and pliable so that we do not lose our spiritual sensitivity to hear and obey Your voice. We think of those who once had softened hearts that became hardened over time. They no longer hear You or sense Your presence in their life. Their spiritual vision has darkened. Help us, Lord, once again on this day to taste and see that You are good. You are the Bread of Life that does not spoil. You satisfy our hunger and forever quench our thirst as we drink from Your springs of living water. The world only has temporary substitutes that can entrap and draw us away from Your eternal pleasures. We want to remain vigilant to Your Word and heed Your ways so there is no build up of sin in our lives that eventually hardens our heart toward You. In Your name, Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Tommy & Nelma Carpenter photographed in our front yard last Wednesday, Oct. 12. Just as we prepared to publish this message we received word that tempers the joy of our day with the reality of life. (See Romans 12:15.) They stopped to visit with us on their return home from a mission’s conference in the Philadelphia area and what wonderful visit it was. We also mentioned them yesterday in a tribute to pastors who have been a blessing to us. We just received the tragic news that Nelma and her grandson were killed in a car accident yesterday. Another grandson was also injured in the accident. Our hearts are broken for this dear family and our prayers are uplifted on their behalf. Please join us in our prayer for Tommy and the Carpenter family. The outpouring of tributes and remembrances on their Facebook pages are so touching and full of eternality as people express their thoughts, prayers, and influence Nelma had on their lives. They clearly have touched many, many people for the Kingdom of God.
Nigel and Laifong Lee were the very first recipients of a daily encouragement message on Monday morning, October 21, 1996. They have been on the list ever since and I reckon they have received nearly 4,000 daily messages! They live in the Boston area and are shown with their son Caleb. Laifong is from Malaysia and they met at Chi Alpha, a Christian campus ministry while in graduate school at Princeton. Both have earned scientific doctorates; Nigel’s in electrical engineering and Laifong’s in molecular biology. Nigel has an interesting association for students in Christian literature. His grandmother’s sister was married to Watchman Nee. We remain in contact and rejoice that they are staying faithful to the Lord.
Andy Larrimore has been a friend since 1993 and was a part of our church in New England where he continues to serve. He helped me to secure the domain name and set up the intitial Daily Encouragement website in 1999. Andy had been in the banking industry but felt a leading to change careers. Daily Encouragement was the very first website he built but he now has his own web design business “Webs By Andy” and also works in IT for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He and his wife Joanne have two grown children, Ashley and Eric. Ashley recently graduated from medical school and Eric served in the Marines in Afghanistan. Ashley had a dream to be doctor when we first met her as a young child. Here’s a photo from 1997 of Ashley along with Ester and other friends in what looks like a birthday party! Here’s a photo of Ashley and her family at her graduation from medical school this last Spring.
Brad Park is a Canadian IT professional whom we have never met face to face! Many years ago he contacted me and offered to help with technical issues. He now hosts the website and covers the fee for the podcast. He’s always available when I have a question or technical problem. One morning the website was down and although he had a splitting headache he labored to get the site back up! People periodically inquire about the “staff” of daily encouragement. Well, actually that’s just Brooksyne and me, along with Brad at this time.
October 21, 1996 – First email sent to a married couple and developed into a list (which initially merely a group list added to manually one by one.)
1999 – Website developed
2002 – Moved to professional listserve (automated list manager for large lists)
2003 – Began one minute radio spots extracted from Daily Encouragement messages
2004 – Resigned from full-time job with EAP agency
2005 – Developed html email (formatted with photos), began podcasting daily messages, set up blogs/RSS feeds, Brooksyne “officially” joined in the message preparation.
2006 – Received official endorsement as an “internet chaplain” from chaplaincy endorsement agency (I had already received an endorsement for corporate chaplaincy and Civil Air Patrol chaplaincy.)
Note: I never learned to type right. However I peck really fast with my index fingers, which is so inefficient that Brooksyne can’t bear to watch when I’m doing it. Anyway, over 15 years, the accumulative total of words typed is now over 2,000,000. (I keep a composite file of all the encouragement messages since the first one and as many of you know Microsoft Word has a nifty word count feature.) However even this total is probably understated since as many writers know you tend to type many words that get chopped in the editing process!
Ministry Update: For those interested we direct you to this revised ministry update in light of the 15th anniversary of this ministry.
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Video by Fernando Ortega
“All Your Promises Are True” Video A faith-building song by Shannon Wexelburg.
“Find Us Faithful” Video Steve Green (used yesterday but still on our hearts today!) A tribute to Nelma Carpenter mentioned above.
“Perfect Peace” Video Laura Story An outstanding song I had never heard prior to seeing it posted on the Facebook page for Tommy Carpenter. Well worth the listen for anyone enduring pain and loss.
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Ministry Update (Revised 10/21/11)