“Like A Tree”

April 29, 2016

Pink dogwood in our backyard 4/26/16
The pink flowering dogwood in our backyard is in full bloom.

“Like A Tree”

Message Summary: We encourage you today to read all of Psalm 1 (it’s only 6 verses!) and receive the wonderful blessings of God through His Holy Word. Read, study, meditate and memorize these timeless truths. I (Brooksyne) did it years ago but must review from time to time since my memory is a bit faulty these days, and I’m always refreshed in my spirit when I do. May it be true of each of us that we are like a tree “which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers”.

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“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:3).

The trees in our area are just beautiful this time of year with an abundance of flowering blossoms in every direction we turn. It’s only about a two week window so we enjoy it immensely as we travel through the county, though it is a very short season. From our office window we look over to our neighbor’s huge lilac now blooming, although I don’t know whether it’s classified as a tree or a bush since it’s massive. It will soon be fully green around here and there’s a special quality to the rich green color of young leaves. We enjoy the beauty of the flowering trees, but unfortunately for some the season can’t end soon enough since they deal with allergies related to the nasty pollen that falls from the trees.

Arbor Day logoToday is Arbor Day here in the USA, a day when we especially consider the blessing of trees. I like trees a lot. This week a longtime friend and his family visited us from New York state. Jeff is a forester, which I always thought must be a neat job. One time when I first met him about 35 years ago he took me to work with him and we drove through the Allegheny National Forest in northern Pennsylvania.

There are references to trees all through the Bible from the very first chapter of Genesis to the very last chapter in Revelation. Solomon had an interest in trees, among many other things. “He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls” (1 Kings 4:33).

Psalm 1:3 Psalm 1 describes a righteous man who is thriving in his spiritual walk. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water.” We live near a beautiful, small trout stream known as Donegal Creek. Our tractor trail walk takes us along this stream and a row of beautiful old trees. These trees have thrived over the years, benefiting from the excellent soil and proximity to the Creek.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water.” This colorful phrase describes the man who is blessed.

The blessed man is characterized by what he does not do.

1) He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
2) He does not stand in the way of sinners
3) He does not sit in the seat of mockers

Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns observes:

“the man’s downward progression (the opposite of the blessed man) in this Psalm was a ‘slow fade’ and the steps that led to it are all there in those verses.
1) He walks in the counsel of the wicked,
2) He stands in the way of the sinners and finally,
3) He sits in the seat of the mockers.

In other words he’s walking in the wrong direction toward the wicked, then remains idle instead of running away from such sinful influence, and lastly his doom is sealed as he finally takes a seat among them.

The blessed man is characterized not only by what he does not do but also by what he does do:

1) He delights in the law of the Lord
2) He meditates on it day and night.

We encourage you today to read all of Psalm 1 (it’s only 6 verses!) and receive the wonderful blessings of God through His Holy Word. Read, study, meditate and memorize these timeless truths. I (Brooksyne) did it years ago but must review from time to time since my memory is a bit faulty these days, and I’m always refreshed in my spirit when I do. May it be true of each of us that we are like a tree “which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers”.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, our source of nourishment comes from You. You are the Living Water and, as we draw our sustenance from You, we bear healthy and fruitful actions which reflect our Heavenly Father. We stand strong and tall like trees firmly planted in Your streams of living water bearing fruit during every season of our life. Our dependence is on You, Lord, which is vital for our growth, health, vitality, and fruitfulness. We want to grow healthy fruit that comes from Your Spirit, benefitting not only ourselves but those whom we might influence for the kingdom of God. Amen.


White dogwood in our front yard 4/26/16
White dogwood in our front yard.

White dogwood in our front yard 4/26/16
Our “Pink Heartbreaker” weeping redbud is transitioning from flowers to leaves.

Locally grown asparagus 4/28/16
Garden-Fresh Grilled Asparagus

Brooksyne’s note: Only in the past two years have I prepared asparagus with the intention of eating it. Stephen loved it but I could hardly stand the smell of it as I steamed it and scooped it all in his plate. But then I began to roast it in the oven or stir fry it in the skillet. Now I thoroughly enjoy it. The photo above is the dish I prepared for lunch yesterday, thanks to a kind friend who gave us a quart of fresh asparagus right from her garden. Perhaps you’ve always prepared it this way, but if not here’s the tastier method (in my unbiased opinion):

Asparagus
Sliced Onions (1/4 onion)
Sliced fresh garlic (3 or more large cloves)
X-Virgin Olive Oil (1 Tbsp.)
Almond Halves (2 Tbsp.)
Bacon Crumbs (1 Tbsp.)
Feta, Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola Cheese (2 Tbsp.)
Seasoning to taste

Break off and compost the tough part of the asparagus stems, rinse and dry the asparagus. Slice onions and garlic. Pour 1 T. oil in small prep dish and, with a marinating brush, brush asparagus, onions, and garlic. Either heat oven to 425 degrees and spray cookie sheet with Pam or heat skillet on stovetop. Skillet Method:  Place asparagus in hot skillet and turn as it begins to cook through and eventually brown. Add almonds and bacon crumbs at the beginning or half way through. In ten to fifteen minutes the asparagus and condiments should be lightly browned. During last few minutes add the cheese. Oven Method: Roast asparagus in the oven with all the condiments except cheese and bake ten minutes or till asparagus is lightly toasted. Add cheese (optional but tasty). Sprinkle sea salt and enjoy a healthy vegetable treat! This is a recipe off the top of my head so the amount of condiments can vary based on availability or my mood – please prepare according to your own tastes! If you’re watching calories you can even use less oil (1/2 Tbsp.) since the marinating brush really makes it go a long way. You could also put the veggies in a gallon bag with the oil, seal it, and roll veggies in the bag to coat with the oil.
(Other veggies can also be prepared this way.  I especially like fresh brussel sprouts prepared like this – another veggie I very much disliked until I used this method of prep.)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Will Delight”  Video   Maranatha Singers (A song based on Psalm 1)

“Psalm 1”  Video  Kim Hill

“Slow Fade”  Video  Casting Crowns

Finally today:

Lancaster Barnstormers home opener 4/28/16
Last night Ester and I went to the home opener of the Lancaster Barnstormers, our local minor league baseball team.

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them.  Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

“Foxes Have Holes”

April 28, 2016

Hoffman Farm on Colebrook Road 04/18/16
A view of the pristine Hoffman Farm near our home

“Foxes Have Holes

Message Summary: We who follow Jesus must do so without reservation. The riches, recognition and comforts in this life God never promised. In fact we must be willing to die to selfish ambition and vain conceits if we are to follow Christ in the humility which pleases Him. Are we willing to do that today?

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

Yellow fox “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:19,20). “But He gave up His place with God and made Himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant” (Philippians 2:7). “We through His poverty are made rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

One of the most elusive animals in our neighborhood is the fox. They find shelter along the old hedge row across from our house where we periodically see one darting across the field. They have a very distinctive bark (listen here for a 10 second video) and at times can be heard all the way across the other side of the large field recently harvested. It’s just one of the many interesting sounds of the country.

Fox holeI took a photo of the fox hole to the left. As I approached it I heard a loud barking sound from the field and looked to see an adult fox running off through the field. I assume she was the mother who was threatened by my presence and perhaps the pups were tucked away safely in their den. I tried to stir them but to no avail.

The fox hole calls to mind the first daily verse. I don’t recall ever specifically trying to memorize it but when you see a fox hole this verse pops into your mind! Jesus used the illustration to reinforce the seriousness and cost of discipleship.

A scribe (religious leader) had come to Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Our Lord tests the sincerity of the scribe’s level of commitment by warning him that He was so poor that beasts of the fields and birds of the air have nicer accommodations than He Himself had. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”

The point seems to be that if the popular leader fared so badly, what was the follower to expect? How great was the humiliation of our Lord and King! He had no royal palace, no silken canopy. He who created the universe and provides for the needs of His human creation had no family looking for Him at the end of the day with a warm meal sitting on the dining table, not because of their unwillingness but out of compassion He chose to go to the hurting, lonely, and sin-sick people in far away places. No memory foam pillow or select comfort mattress to comfortably lay at bedtime.

2 Corinthians 8:9 Jesus’ statement reveals His poverty from an earthly viewpoint; and yet “we through His poverty are made rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). We are not told if the scribe chose to follow Jesus after this outright disclosure; but the strong implication is that he did not. Perhaps, like the rich young ruler, he found the conditions too rigorous, nothing warm and fuzzy about Jesus’ living conditions. No bonus provided or awards banquet guaranteed if the scribe converted a certain number of souls to the kingdom. No pension fund thrown into the offer.

We who follow Jesus must do so without ulterior motive. The riches, recognition and comforts in this life God never promised. In fact we must be willing to die to selfish ambition and vain conceits if we are to follow Christ in the humility which pleases Him. Are we willing to do so today?

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have given us the greatest example of a humble spirit in the person of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who had nowhere to lay His head.  He went to where the needs were rather than the place where comforts awaited Him. This is most especially expressed when He gave up His position in heaven where Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with You something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, He was made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! From the heights of the heavens to the depths of the earth we submit our will and our attitudes to Your conformity through Christ our Lord in whose name we pray.  Amen.


Robin eggs in nest 4/28/16
Although our theme today was based on a fox hole in the text Jesus also stated the “birds of the air have nests”. We have lots of bird activity right now and just this morning I got on a ladder and pointed my phone into a robin’s nest built in the eves of our barn overhang.

Hoffman Farm on Colebrook Road 04/18/16
The Hoffman Farm is a small, tidy farm we often pass along Colebrook Road. Last week Brooksyne stopped to take some photos since the creeping phlox was outstanding as it trailed along the white fencing. Jim Hoffman who resides at the 24 acre farm, his father having purchased it in 1947, came out to meet her and seemed rather pleased to have his place featured online.

Hoffman Farm on Colebrook Road 04/18/16
Here’s a good repurposing of Jim’s old work boots as hanging planters! To the far left you can see some baby shoes strung over the pipe as well.

Village Farm Market flowers 4/27/16
Yesterday we stopped by the Village Farm market and saw the beautiful assortment of flowers that are fully stocked!

Amish boys riding horses on Junction Trail
Amish boys riding horses on Junction Trail.

Eric with hunting dog
Eric is an engineer in one of our companies and an avid hunter. He has this photo of him and his hunting dog on his computer desktop background. It looks to me like it could be on the cover of “Field and Stream”. Notice how the dog is staring right into the camera!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“He Became Poor”  Video  Dámaris Carbaugh

“On the Other Side”  Video  Dailey & Vincent

“Men Made Rich by the Poverty of Christ” a sermon by CH Spurgeon

Revivaltime Radio:  Some of our older readers may remember the weekly airing of Revivaltime with speaker C.M. Ward and the Revivaltime Choir led by Cyril McClellan. This morning I came across a Facebook page for our now defunct Bible College. It was thriving in the seventies with over 1,000 students when we attended. Our college was known for the nationally aired “Revivaltime Choir”. I didn’t have vocal ability so never would have considered trying out. Brooksyne came from a very rural setting in Oklahoma and had no formal musical training whatsoever, thus never attempted to join. The Revivaltime choir was made up each year of a rather elite group of singers. To try out for the choir they were required to be able to sing a song given to them simply by reading the notes, never having heard it played musically beforehand. Few people can do that unless they’ve had good training!  A class member has posted many of the Revivaltime Choir songs and we came across his site today. We enjoyed listening to several of the old songs this morning and hope this one will open up for you. In our dated opinion we felt the choir looked and sounded great in the mid-sixties, about ten years before our time there. Their voices were very well trained and each word sung with clarity.  “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus” Here’s one we think was closer to our time. “The Longer I Serve Him”

It was after our college days that Brooksyne developed her musical giftings, piano & choir directing, since there was a great need for that in the churches we served about 30 years all total, and even presently in the church we attend.

Finally today:

Field prep on Kraybill Church Road 4/27/16
Yesterday we shared photos of the Rye harvest earlier this week in the field across from our home. As predicted the next activity was some necessary field prep, the spreading of animal waste fertilizer. Yesterday afternoon they used a method known as a drag line with a large hose running all the way to the manure pit from the large farm behind our house through several farm fields and under two roads through drainage pipes. The material is pumped through the hose to the tractor. Thankfully we don’t have any odors and projected rain tends to quickly soak the raw material into the ground. We won’t have this application again until fall after the corn harvest.
Contact Us
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Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them.  Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

Rye Harvest on Kraybill Church Road 04/25/16
Raking Rye across from our home.

“The Blessing Of Shame”

Message Summary: In this message we consider how shame can actually be a blessing.

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“David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing'” (2 Samuel 24:10).

Have you ever done anything you are ashamed of? I sure have! Some I can recall and others I’ve forgotten, though I can well remember my parents admonishment with the pointed index finger, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”. Clearly, they were! Some memories of shame still sting to this day and I say to myself, “I can’t believe I did that.”

Today’s message will certainly be misunderstood by some, especially in light of our present age. After all, on the surface what possible blessing is there from shame? Shame is certainly not something we seek after and if we are shamed we want it to dissolve very quickly before others take notice.

But I believe there is a blessing in shame when it is properly understood. I am blessed to have parents who knew when to appropriately put me to shame, which was a loving act and responsible discipline necessary in good child-rearing. One memory involved using a swear word I had apparently learned elsewhere which shall not be disclosed here (although even slang words such as dang and darn were forbidden in our household). Why I would make the grave mistake of saying it in front of my mom I can’t explain but I can vividly remember getting my mouth washed out with liquid Ivory dish soap. Now she’d probably be reported for child abuse but it wasn’t of course and didn’t hurt me, but it sure tasted awful!

Today it seems like so many have little to no shame, even when their attitude or behavior is reprehensible. Of course that has been the case with some all along but it sure seems the number and percentage is growing. In great part I believe it’s due to the lack of having a firm mooring in the Biblical values of right and wrong.

The words “conscience-stricken” in the daily text describes shame. Today we may speak of those “who have no conscience” meaning someone who just doesn’t care about right and wrong. I read a sad news story recently that illustrated this. A man had been beaten and was left severely injured on the street. Passersby, rather than calling for help, picked through his belongings as he lay dying.

If we were to ask people who have even a nominal familiarity with the Bible to identify David’s most famous sin many would recall his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and his feeble attempt to cover-up.

Second Samuel 24 chronicles David’s less familiar recorded sin of taking a census. At one point I thought to myself, “David came to his senses about the census”, unaware of my play on words.

It is difficult for us to understand the severity of this sin. But David himself seemed to consider it greater than his adultery, murder, and cover-up recorded in 2 Samuel 11 (compare 12:13 with 24:10). It certainly had a greater impact in terms of loss of life. We may on the surface be puzzled about the passage compared to our understanding of his sin with Bathsheba, which is easier for us to grasp. That was a sin of the flesh; here we have a sin of the spirit involving pride, self-sufficiency and presumption.

Today let us consider two senses in which shame is a blessing:

  • Shame is a blessing in a convictive sense. What a blessing to sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit when we sin which leads us to repentance and restoration with God and others. If we feel no shame we will just stay in the unrepentant condition we are in and likely see sin increase in our life.
  • Shame is a blessing in a preventive sense. When tempted we are able to foresee shame and that may just give us strength to resist. A teaching from many years ago comes to mind by Randy Alcorn on this matter which I will post below titled, “The Consequences of A Moral Failure”.

A great mark of a godly man is repentance, and even as David had greatly sinned, he greatly repented. His response was one, though slow in coming, of humility and responsibility. He didn’t obfuscate the offense, he didn’t pass the buck, he didn’t blame others, he didn’t cry out “I’m a victim”. What a contrast to the modern response to sin, seen from the top national level on down. Let us follow David’s model in his heart of repentance!

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, true repentance brings about a change of heart which includes humility, sorrow for one’s sins, contrition, and retribution if possible. We’re grateful for a healthy conscience that is pained when we partake of that which is hurtful to others and dishonors You. Thank You for Your loving patience and kindness that leads us to repentance, O Lord, knowing that no matter how far we veer off course You warmly receive us when we acknowledge our wrongdoing, take responsibility for our actions, turn from the evil and turn to the right. Amen.


Also consider the blessing of remembering shame after restoration which has a way of fortifying us not to repeat. Many years ago, but still as an adult and while in Christian ministry, I recall acting in a vengeful way concerning a matter where I had been hurt as well as others. However my hurt did not justify my action.


Rye Harvest

Monday evening they harvested the rye from the field across from our home. This is not the grain rye many of us enjoy in bread but the grass that will be used for dairy feed as haylage. I watched the harvest for a few minutes with my veteran farmer neighbor Marvin. He estimated there was over $1,000,000 of equipment in the field as they staged for the big job. The next step for this field will be a covering of natural fertilizer (aka manure), certainly the least favorite of our farm smells! Then in a couple of weeks we will see the corn planted. We enjoy the sights, sounds and smells from our rural area (the “smells” being the baking chocolate that wafts into our neighborhood from Wilbur chocolate on a fairly regular basis which compensates for the more raw natural fertilizer smells we get several days a year, necessary for vibrant plant growth)!

Rye Harvest on Kraybill Church Road 04/25/16
The huge rake placed the freshly mown rye into windrows for the chopper. Several days ago they cut the grass and early yesterday some type of machine was used to fluff it up.

Rye Harvest on Kraybill Church Road 04/25/16
It was getting dark by the time the chopper came around and blew the haylage into 4 large tri-axle trucks that were constantly transporting it back to the farm storage area about a mile away.

Rye Harvest on Kraybill Church Road 04/25/16
We watched the harvest along with our friends, the Worralls, from our front porch. They finished about 2 in the morning long after we were fast asleep.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Prodigal Son”  Video  Keith Green

“Create In Me A Clean Heart”  Video  Keith Green

“Grace By Which I Stand”  Video  Keith Green

“The Disposition of Man and Conviction of Sin” by Oswald Chambers  Video

“The Consequences of A Moral Failure” a teaching personalized and adapted from Randy Alcorn

Finally today:

Yesterday a chaplain visit took us through Hershey PA and we noticed the beautiful trees are in bloom overlooking the famous Hershey Cocoa shrubbery. (Click on photo for larger view)

Hershey PA 04/26/16

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them. Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

Praying man Jesus, I want to praise You, my great Redeemer, for who You are and for Your acts of kindness seen so many times throughout my day. I never cease to praise You because You never cease to work on my behalf. Your mercy and love, Your strength and comfort, Your sustaining power and guiding hand are only a tiny fraction of the many reasons that lead me to praise You. Instead of a murmuring and ungrateful attitude, I want to join with the multitude of believers and sing of my great Redeemer’s praise to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Amen.

 

This Daily Prayer is from this Daily Encouragement message.

Jim Thorpe, PA 4/23/16
Inn and Carbon County courthouse in Jim Thorpe, PA

“Don’t Let The Computer Cry Out”

Message Summary: Don’t let any stone cold rock or computer generated voice take our place in praising the Lord!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).

Mollie drinking from water pumpDottie is our mixed breed cat we’ve had since May 15, 2001. We know her precise birthday since she was born to a wild barn cat in the summer kitchen of our rented farm house three months after we moved back to Pennsylvania. Ester picked her favorite from the litter of four and she’s been ours ever since. Dottie has no idea of her humble beginnings and now acts pretty sophisticated. Due to her insistence on scratching furniture we generally keep her out in our utility barn or she also likes to roam around our yard. She must think she’s getting fresh fountain water from our decorative pump although actually it’s just recirculated!

But we occasionally let her come in and she likes to lay near us when we do our work on the computer. Brooksyne had an interesting experience she shares in her own words:

DottieI was typing out the words to some older choruses that I was going to lead our congregation in singing. They included the songs, “Oh, How He Loves You and Me”, “He Is Lord”, and “Hallelujah, Hallelujah.”

Right after I typed these songs along came Dottie sauntering across my desk. Instead of sitting beside the computer she decided to plop down right on my keyboard. Several random letters came across the screen. All of a sudden a stilted, emotionless voice came out of the computer speaker which initially startled me. I turned up the volume only to hear the words of the choruses I just typed!

Apparently Dottie launched a function I didn’t even know existed on our computer and it converted the text to voice. Though it was a rather monotone voice, hearing the words of the songs brought them to life in my heart.  By the time the computer generated voice broke into the chorus of “Hallelujah, Hallelujah” and repeated it eight times, strangely enough, I found myself beginning to praise God.

I called Stephen to join me so I could share with him about my usual experience. We were both rather blessed but we also considered a spiritual application.  Considering the daily text we might render it, “If you keep quiet, the computer will cry out”.

Triumphal entryToday’s Scripture text is from a portion of the Bible dealing with the Triumphal Entry. “When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The angry Pharisees demanded that they be silenced, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

But Jesus made a powerful observation, “I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

We are created to praise the Lord. We recall a song many years ago by a musician who would periodically visit our church in northern Pennsylvania. The recurring line was, “Ain’t no rock gonna cry in my place!” based on the daily Scripture verse. God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that He desires His people to praise Him.

Hebrews 13:15 states, “Through Him [Jesus] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name”.

The call to praise includes:

  • Everyone: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD” (Psalm 150:6).
  • Everywhere: “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).
  • All the time: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).

That’s you and me today. Don’t let any stone cold rock or computer generated voice take our place in praising the Lord!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, I want to praise You, my great Redeemer, for who You are and for Your acts of kindness seen so many times throughout my day. I never cease to praise You because You never cease to work on my behalf. Your mercy and love, Your strength and comfort, Your sustaining power and guiding hand are only a tiny fraction of the many reasons that lead me to praise You. Instead of a murmuring and ungrateful attitude, I want to join with the multitude of believers and sing of my great Redeemer’s praise to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Amen.

Psalm 148 has this interesting heading “The Whole Creation Invoked to Praise the Lord.”

Gifts of gooseberry jelly and Maple syrup from Worralls 04/25/16

Our longtime friends, Jeff and Lois Worrall along with their daughter Hannah, visited us yesterday evening for dinner and late into the evening we watched the busy Rye Harvest across the road. We met Jeff about 35 years ago when he became an active part of the church we served in northern Pennsylvania. They presently live in far northern New York near Watertown but Lois has family in this area. Last year they brought us a jar of gooseberry jam but this year, along with a large can of New York maple syrup from her brother’s farm, they brought us two jars of gooseberry jelly, each marked with one of our names on them. The reason being, last year Brooksyne carefully concealed the whereabouts of the jelly by hiding it behind larger items in the fridge. She and I really liked the jelly, and she thought I’d already had my fair share, so she decided to keep what little was left for herself. This year Lois graciously solved that problem by giving each of us our own jar. And it is wonderfully delicious again!


Jim Thorpe, PA

Jim Thorpe, PA train and train station 4/23/16
Loading the bike train in Jim Thorpe Saturday morning.

Jim Thorpe, PA train station 4/23/16
When we arrived early Saturday morning they were setting up for an Earth Day street fair. The town has a very progressive, new age vibe and as we walked about town later in the afternoon, after our long bike ride, we felt rather out of place! In fact the earth day attraction brought in some folks that looked like they arrived from another planet!

Jim Thorpe, PA stone row 4/23/16
Lots of brick and stone in Jim Thorpe. See here for the history behind the unusual name. It is one of just three municipalities in the United States with the first and last name of a person used as its name!

Jim Thorpe, PA bandstand on "Earth Day" 4/23/16
I rather enjoyed the bluegrass sound from this band.

Jim Thorpe, PA Smokey the Bear petting dog 4/23/16
It’s not often you see Smokey the Bear petting a dog!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Let’s Just Praise the Lord”  Video   Homecoming concert

“Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days)”  Video  The Isaacs   Shortly after our visit to Jim Thorpe this song played on the radio. Brooksyne and I looked at each other as we considered our recent “strange” visit to Jim Thorpe when compared to the message of this song. (Of course, she and I might have looked weird to those whom we thought appeared to be from another planet.) Truth be told, we know everything wasn’t good about the “good old days” but the song does has an interesting theme and a lot of old-fashioned truth as well.

Grandpa tell me ’bout the good old days.
Sometimes it feels like this world’s gone crazy.
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday,
Where the line between right and wrong
Didn’t seem so hazy.

Did lovers really fall in love to stay
Stand beside each other come what may
Was a promise really something people kept,
Not just something they would say
Did families really bow their heads to pray
Did daddies really never go away
Whoa oh Grandpa, tell me ’bout the good old days.

Grandpa everything is changing fast.
We call it progress, but I just don’t know.
And Grandpa, let’s wonder back into the past,
And paint me a picture of long ago.

Yesterday’s mystery photo was a young man assembling the rollers that move a car through a car wash. Several months ago we began our chaplain care service at Kleen-Rite, the country’s largest wholesale distributor of car wash equipment and supplies. It’s based in nearby Columbia but has distribution warehouses in Texas and Las Vegas. They are building a huge distribution center right here in Mount Joy in a former dress company.


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them.  Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

“Finish Well”

April 25, 2016

Lehigh River Gorge Buttermilk Falls 04/23/16
Buttermilk Falls in the Lehigh River Gorge

“Finish Well”

Message Summary: The apostle Paul wrote in his final letter to Timothy with this awareness; “The time has come for my departure” (2 Timothy 4:6). What solid resignation I see in these words as he faced the martyr’s death and made this proclamation, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

There will come a day I know without a doubt
Around the throne the saints will bow and lay down every crown
How glorious that moment to see Him face to face
To hear Him say “Well done, my child you’ve finished your race.”
But for now the sun’s still rising there’s work to still be done
While we’re waiting for the promise of what is yet to come.

One of the great evidences of faith in our lives is the assurance of God’s care during a trial. Yesterday in our Sunday School class our friend Ken shared a prayer request concerning a relative stricken with cancer. She had sent out an email update to her family concerning her current condition and candidly reported that her medical prognosis was bleak and treatment options very limited. “Pray that I can be faithful, bring glory to God and not let fear rule my life.”

But when Ken shared the request the part that especially caught my attention was the faith she had passed on to her children. Her son is getting married in August and it is her greatest desire to attend. But he lovingly reassured her, “Yes I would like you here, but remember that going to my wedding is nothing compared to heaven and a new healthy body.”

Although I have never met the people Ken was referring to I am heartened by such a resolve to finish well.

A gospel group called Karen Peck and New River has a song (a link to a video is below) titled “Finish Well” which has this line.

But for now the sun’s still rising, there’s work to still be done
While we’re waiting for the promise of what is yet to come.

The apostle Paul’s perspective on life and death is so liberating. After his conversion on the Damascus road he began experiencing the great joy that comes in living for Christ. He testified in our daily text, “For me to live is Christ.” His wasn’t by any means an easy life but millions since have testified to the joy of serving the living Christ.  Indeed “life is worth the living just because He lives.”

And yet Paul also had the perspective, “to die is gain.” The word translated “gain” has the sense of advantage. In fact a few verses later Paul says, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).

Several years later Paul wrote his final letter to Timothy with this awareness; “The time has come for my departure” (2 Timothy 4:6). What solid resignation I see in these words as he faced the martyr’s death and made this proclamation, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Today, what a joy it is to follow Christ and have a deep, abiding assurance of His love. When the time comes for our departure we lose our frail, aging, and mortal body along with our residency in a world that is day by day sliding into decadence and destruction. We will “gain” and be better off by far with our immortal, ageless, and healthy bodies along with our residency in a place that is timeless, ageless, and sinless. That’s what we live for! Praise the Lord, today I am a child of the King with my home address on earth, but “tomorrow”, as a child of the king, my home address will be heaven. Won’t you join me there as we finish well here.

Finish well, every day that we are given
Finish well, for the glory of His name.
Finish strong, until the Savior finally calls us home
Give it everything we have, finish well.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as I live out my time here on this earth, I’m so glad that I belong to You. You hold my right hand and guide me with Your continuous presence and daily bread which is leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but You and I desire You more than anything on earth. My health may fail and my spirit may even grow weak, but Father, You remain the strength of my heart and You are my portion forever. My Refuge, my Fortress and my Deliverer, I will joyfully tell of Your mighty works as I seek to finish well until You call me to my eternal home. Amen.


Lehigh River Gorge

Saturday we traveled up to Jim Thorpe in the Poconos to ride the Lehigh River Gorge bike train which is a train ride 25 miles up the Lehigh Gorge to White Haven. Then we rode our bikes back on the rail-trail to Jim Thorpe. It started out a bit chilly but as the ride progressed it became more comfortable with many beautiful scenes along the way. (Brooksyne: Actually it wasn’t chilly, it was cold and Stephen left his jacket in the car since he thought he wouldn’t need it. For a change he was the cold one. Usually it’s me but I wore two jackets which helped deflect the chilly and breezy air through most of the day. We rode a total of 31 miles, our first long bike ride of the year – it was splendid with all the waterfalls, river views, rock structures and surrounding mountains!)

Lehigh River Gorge railroad bridge 04/23/16
This old iron bridge now shares the rail-trail with an active rail line.

Lehigh River Gorge view from train 04/23/16
The train winds along the Lehigh River. Our bikes were in the gondola car behind the engine with many other bikes. Some on the train also rented bikes in White Haven

Lehigh River Gorge train in White Haven 04/23/16
Lehigh River Gorge train unloading in White Haven. The ride was sold out and when, due to a change in our weekend plans, we called for tickets on Friday we got the last two! We were told there are 350 people on the train.

Lehigh River Gorge 04/23/16
A view of the Lehigh River from where we enjoyed our lunch.
(Click to enlarge)

Lehigh River Gorge historical building 04/23/16
The trail has many interesting scenes along the way with many of them marked since it used to also be a canal route. However this large round stone building without a roof was undesignated. Do any of our readers have any idea what this was used for? Respond here.

Weber's in Lehigh River Gorge historical building 04/23/16
The door opening provided a good place for a photo!  Looks like we’re welcoming you to our abode, only problem is there’s no food or chairs to make it a warm, comfortable visit.

Rattlesnake on Lehigh Gorge rail trail 4/23/16
This rattlesnake was right on the trail and, oh my, was the rattle loud!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Finish Well”  Video   Karen Peck & New River

Here’s the second verse:

There’s no truth in saying
We’ve seen our better days
These are the days to be courageous
Bold and full of faith
So wherever He may lead us
Whatever it may cost
Let the Church arise and lift
The banner of the cross.

“Heaven Is Better By Far”  Video  Haven Quartet

“Won’t It Be Wonderful There”  Video  Happy Goodmans

“Won’t It Be Wonderful There”  Video  Dailey & Vincent

“I Am Resolved”  Video    Brooksyne’s Note:  One of my favorite old hymns reminding me of the great resolve I made as a young teen to “no longer linger” after or be “charmed by the world’s delights”. But instead I chose to follow after “things that are higher, things that are nobler”. Now they “allure my sight”. I never regretted it and I thank God often for the best decision I’ve ever made in my 60 years of life!

D & L Trail – Lehigh Gorge State Park Trail  A description of the rail trail we rode on Saturday.

Bike Train info  A great ride!

Photo last Friday at the “Amish Walmart” is an old order intercom system! The only correct answer came from a friend with an Amish background. Essentially a PVC pipe runs under the floor to the warehouse in the back of the store. The clerk can communicate to workers in the back by speaking through the pipe! Most, understandably, thought it had something to do with transferring money like the pipes at a bank drive-through. Thanks for your fun responses including one all the way from South Africa.

Finally today:

Here’s another photo quiz for today. What is this young man assembling? Submit your answer here.

Kleen-Rite assembly 4/22
Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them.  Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

Norfolk Southern railroad tracks 04/18/16
A nice view of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks along the Susquehanna River while on our rail trail bike ride.

“The Earth Is The Lord’s”

Message Summary:  The Psalmist proclaims to God that “You alone are the Most High over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18). On this “Earth Day” let us glorify the Lord over all the earth and joyfully exclaim, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1).

Eartha at the DeLorme Map Company, Yarmouth MaineOne of the most interesting stores I’ve ever been to is the DeLorme Map Company in Yarmouth, Maine. In the lobby there is a huge globe completely made up of satellite images of the entire earth. They call the globe “Eartha“, which sort of sounds like a feminine goddess to me!

It is the largest rotating and revolving globe in the world, measuring 42 feet in diameter and comprised of 140 gigabytes of information. Many years ago when we visited, Ester and I walked around it and quoted from John 3:16, which is the clearest and without a doubt, most familiar verse in the Bible stating God’s love for the world.

Today is “Earth Day”. I don’t recall having Earth Day when I grew up although it was first started in 1970 while Brooksyne and I were in Junior High School. Of course it advocates caring for the earth. As a Christian this earth is our present home and we seek to be good stewards of the earth’s resources. We recycle and try to use energy responsibly. We seek to keep our little part of the world clean including our favorite walking trail.

However I suppose to many that’s not what “Earth Day” means but rather accepting and advocating whatever is the current popular cause of environmental progressivism. Earth Day may be of secular derivation but today we consider earth day from a sacred perspective!

The very first verse in the Bible forthrightly declares, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” The Psalmist declares a powerful truth in our daily verse and we need to make that declaration regularly. Murky thinking or outright unbelief in God’s revelation has caused many to essentially assert that “the earth is the Lord”. No, no, no! The sovereign, transcendent Lord declares, “It is I who made the earth” (Isaiah 45:12) and “The earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1).

The Psalmist proclaims to God that “You alone are the Most High over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18). On this “Earth Day” let us glorify the Lord over all the earth and joyfully exclaim, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we consider this world and all its fullness we are blessed by the abundance of beauty – fields of daisies, the rolling hillsides, the great and small bodies of water, the sandy sea shores, the giant oaks, mountain ranges so magnificent they’re viewed for hundreds of miles, landscapes splashed with every imaginable shape and color. These views and far more than the eye can see or hands can touch are all works of Your sovereign, creative power. Yet You entrust to us soil, seeds, and plantings with which we can cultivate, plant, water, trim, and grow fruit and vegetables for our food substance and ornamentals for our pleasure. You water the earth and raise the sun each day. We expect such things, but it’s also like a pat on the back for those of us who enjoy seeing our laborious efforts in planting spring to life and give back to us sustenance, nutrition, and beauty. Though this world is not our home, it’s the only place we’ll travel before we reside in heaven, so we want to be good stewards of what You have entrusted to us. Thank You for it, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Amish Walmart
The other day I stopped by an Amish farm store in Bird In Hand, PA to purchase some baling twine. It’s known locally as “The Amish Walmart”. Do any of you have any idea what this PVC pipe is used for? Answer here and I will share the correct answer on Monday.

Smucker Breakfast 4/21/16
We began our day yesterday at an employee breakfast at S.S. Smucker, a home improvement company, which is one of the companies we serve as chaplains. They had a meeting as well and rewarded the employees for a good safety record.

Big John and Alta at Smucker Breakfast 4/21/16
An occupational hazard is the many meals we participate in as we visit companies over the course of the week. Breakfast was prepared by “Big John” and his wife Alta so you can imagine it was quite hardy. Big John said he fried up 15# of bacon. Employees eat the breakfast in the large breakroom but they set up the buffet tables right out on the shop floor which really adds to the ambience.

Marlin with Troy at the Smucker Breakfast 4/21/16
Troy gets a brief back/shoulder rub from the boss, Marlin Smucker, before he heads out to his work sight in Strasburg. These guys work hard on beautiful days as well as cold, windy, and rainy days. The expertise they offer in home improvement comes not just from their skills but also their endurance in all kinds of settings.

Norfolk Southern railroad tracks 04/18/16
Another photo of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks along the Susquehanna River at sunset during one of our rail trail bike rides. This is an active rail line. The actual rail to trail is on the right side just below the Chiques Rock bluff (not seen in photo)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Earth Is The Lord’s”  Video  Maranatha! Singers

“Creation Sings The Father’s Song”  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

“For The Beauty Of The Earth”  Video

Eartha

“Google street view of Eartha”

Smucker’s Home Improvement


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)
Support Our MinistryWe want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage of time varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information. Donations through my chaplaincy endorsing ministry are tax deductible and will be receipted directly by them.  Thank you!

Make A Donation using PayPalPlease Note: Our chaplain agency is unable to provide a receipt if the donation is made through PayPal. However we provide this option due to the convenience, international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official receipt. Click here to donate using PayPal.

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