Berks County PA bank barn in snow
I took this photo of an old bank barn several years ago in Berks County Pennsylvania. Bank barns are common throughout Pennsylvania with the typical uneven terrain. The design allows direct access to both levels.

“This Is The Captain Speaking”

Message summary: Today we want to remind you that our Captain has spoken. As we face many uncertainties in our own personal lives, that of our family, our work, church, nation or world look to the Scriptures and tune Your heart and mind to hear the Captain of the Lord’s army speak these reassuring words, “This is the Captain speaking”. His Word is eternally true and reliable, His works are undeniable. He has a message of loving assurance for each of us today and every day. Let’s be careful to listen!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’ He said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, ‘What has my lord to say to his servant?’ The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15).

This is the Captain speakingOne of the most assuring voices is “This is the Captain speaking”. We recall a flight home to Massachusetts after visiting my folks in the Kansas City area about twenty years ago. It was very windy on the landing into Chicago for the connection and the pilot was working hard to keep the plane level as we approached the landing.

However just before we should have touched down he sort of skimmed what seemed like several hundred feet over the runway and ascended again. I wondered what was going on! How reassuring when the intercom came on and we heard, “This is the captain speaking”. In a calm, confident voice he explained, “There was another plane near the runway and to be on the safe side we going around again”.

“Captain” is not an uncommon title found in the Bible. (There are 237 references in the KJV). It usually refers to a human title such as this reference concerning Potiphar, “Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there” (Genesis 39:1).

In the US military the rank of captain denotes different levels of primacy depending on the service branch. In the Army and Air Force it’s a relatively lower office rank. But in the Navy it’s very high such as the captain of the ship.

In my study I found only two places in Scripture where “captain” is used to refer to God or a spiritual being. Today let’s consider the first reference which brought a reassuring word to Joshua after they had crossed the Jordan River and before he led the people of Israel into the Promised Land.

Captain of the Lord's hostJoshua must have been greatly encouraged to hear the message from one who self-identified as “the captain of the Lord’s host” (whom many believe was the preincarnate Christ). However it might also have been an angelic being. The Israelites had just crossed the Jordan and were preparing to conquer Jericho. This special messenger brought a word of counsel and reminder (although not really what we would expect). He directed Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” Moses had a similar experience at the burning bush.

The Lord of hosts assigned this visit to Joshua reminding him of the power and holiness of God. That is something we all need to be reminded of. When we read these accounts in Scripture we too are reminded of the holiness and almighty power of God.

Joshua had an amazing encounter in which he met the “captain of the host of the Lord”. Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe notes that “this is the ‘battle’ title of the Lord; it speaks of His supreme command of the hosts (armies) of Israel and of heaven”. What an assurance to Joshua as he prepared to lead the people into battle. We can also have an assurance today that our “Captain” is present. He is not unmindful of our circumstances but stands ready to go before us and fight our enemies.

Our faith is not that of the deist, who maintains that God is the great clockmaker who made the clock, wound up it up, let it go and is no longer involved in the universe. Scriptures teaches otherwise with the recurring theme that God watches over us. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you, and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Today we want to remind you that our Captain has spoken. As we face many uncertainties in our own personal lives, that of our family, our work, church, nation or world look to the Scriptures and tune Your heart and mind to hear the Captain of the Lord’s army speak these reassuring words, “This is the Captain speaking”. His Word is eternally true and reliable, His works are undeniable. He has a message of loving assurance for each of us today and every day. Let’s be careful to listen!

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, by sending the captain of the angelic host to visit Joshua You reinforced his role as the new Israelite leader. He obediently led the Israelites across the Jordan and was now entering enemy territory. There were many new experiences and territorial challenges that might overwhelm Joshua and the Israelites had they not been reminded that You, as Captain, were present and in charge of their future plans. We also need to be reminded that You are with us, watching over us, protecting us, and guiding us in all that we undertake. So, as we submit to Jesus, our Captain of Salvation, we must look to Your Word, lean on Your promises, and walk in accordance to that which You have commanded us. Keep us faithful in doing so. Amen.

Note: Tomorrow’s message will be based on this text: “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10).


Hauling tobacco 1/16/18
We surely don’t appreciate the unhealthy and addictive nature of tobacco but it sure makes for some interesting photos. Yesterday afternoon, returning from our chaplain duties in Lebanon County, we came up behind this load near our home as a truck pulling two wagons hauling tobacco drove through the Amtrak underpass.

Hauling tobacco 1/16/18


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

After pastoring for twenty-five years we moved from New England to Lancaster County in early 2001 to begin our corporate chaplaincy ministry. Since that time we’ve had four pastors and appreciate the input each gave to us and have sought to be receptive, even as we desire that from others when we’re leading in ministry. Our first three pastors were our peers in age (or close).

However, as is the case for all who live long enough, there comes a time when your pastor will be younger than you. Our present pastor, Beau Eckert, is about twenty years younger than us but we are appreciating his solid exposition of God’s Word. Sunday’s message especially touched us and he concluded with a moving prayer. The church places the service up on YouTube if you care to watch.
Full service
“Never Once” This past Sunday our choir led out in this beautiful song. Its text and tune have really stayed with us over the past week. If you want a reminder of God’s faithfulness listen to these lyrics, especially the words, “You are faithful, God, You are faithful.”
Full sermon
Closing remarks I place this up for those who may have limited time but want to hear the part of the message that especially touched our hearts.

Finally today:

Pets by coal stove 1/16/18On a cold winter evening our older pets, Roxie and Dottie, enjoy laying together. In this photo they’re stretched out in front of our coal stove. If they were permitted on the couch they could easily be couch potato partners.

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.)
Advertisements
Amish church service on Sunnyside Road, Lancaster County
The Amish meet in homes for church services purposefully rotating among the homes of church members. This farm is along Sunnyside Road near Mount Joy, PA.

“The Power Of Expressive Love”

Message summary: Let us again remember God’s call to marital love.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“So she became his wife, and he loved her” (Genesis 24:67b). “One day Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, looked down from a window. He saw Isaac hugging and kissing his wife Rebekah” (Genesis 26:8). “Husbands love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25).

We viewed a testimonial video of a restored marriage that touched our hearts, “What Happened When My Daughter Saw Me Kiss My Wife” by Joshua Rogers (link below). Essentially it reminds us how children feel loved when their parents express love to each other.

I (Stephen) remember that. My parents were not that expressive in their love, perhaps like many in their generation. Dad always kissed Mom when he went to work but otherwise they were rather guarded regarding physical affection. But I still recall one time when we were in a cabin on a vacation and they didn’t share the same bed. (They slept in the same full-size bed for all 53 years of their marriage – not a queen or king, which would surely have been more comfortable since my Dad was a big man). Instead in the cabin they were in two twin beds about a foot apart. I woke up in the night and saw them reaching across the space holding hands as they slept. That did make me feel loved!

Today’s daily text is the first occasion in the Bible where we are specifically told of a husband’s love for his wife Rebekah, “So she became his wife, and he loved her”. Genesis 24 is a lengthy account of Isaac’s arranged marriage, facilitated by Abraham’s chief servant. Theirs was love at first sight and is demonstrated when he prays for her on the occasion of her barrenness (Genesis 25:21). Later, after their twins (Esau and Jacob) were born we find the two caught in a passionate embrace (Genesis 26:8). Still later we find the old couple agonizing over decisions their children had made (Genesis 26:35, 27:46). Sound like your marriage? Or your family? Yet their love endured.

Josh McDowell Some twenty years ago we heard Josh McDowell speak at a marriage conference in Boston. He encouraged us to authenticate our faith by modeling lasting relationships, particularly in our marriages. A great witness for Christ is marriages and families that function well and endure. We encourage you to again commit yourselves to this goal. The apostle Paul said, “Husbands, love your wives”. The world is watching for demonstrations of this love in the public square and in the home.

We still marvel at marital love and I hope we always will. Of course the institution of marriage is under severe attack in our time on many fronts. How vital to again consider a simple command of Scripture, “Husbands, love your wives.” The underlying Greek word for love is that wonderful word “AGAPE”, which is in the present active, calling for continual, habitual action.

Let us again remember God’s call to marital love. Gary Chapman shares these five essential characteristics of a healthy marriage in his book, “The Five Love Languages.”  Please apply!

1) Affirming Words
2) Quality Time
3) Thoughtful Gifts
4) Cooperative Service
5) Physical Intimacy

Now with forty-one years of marital experience Brooksyne and I will add several more. Tease each other, have fun, and practice forgiveness daily. If you ever find yourself driving through a covered bridge, brake the car so you can share a kiss!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, You teach us that we are to love one another unreservedly. The love You give us for others goes beyond our own natural inclinations. It is a love that motivates us to give without expecting anything in return. More often than not we fall short of extending this kind of love to our spouse and other loved ones. Only with Your continued help can we set aside our own expectations and learn to love the way You intend by always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, and always persevering with those You’ve brought into our lives. Amen.


Part of our calling is to see marriages strengthened, regardless of whatever state of health they are in. Of course some are in trouble and in that case we desire restoration and healing.

Last week I was talking to a man about an issue in his marriage concerning the challenges he was dealing with in his blended family and he told me something that would probably be the case for many. He put his head down and told me he wished he could share a message in front of his church. “It was out of the frying pan and into the fire” he said referring to his first marriage and then entering into his second marriage. The events he has experienced in his second marriage has made him realize that, apart from the stubbornness of his heart at the time, he could have made his first marriage work and saved himself a lot of grief.


Amish father and son

We often refer to our Amish friends Jesse and Anna Ruth. Long-time readers know that Jesse and Anna Ruth were our neighbors here in Mount Joy for several years before moving back to the home farm in Strasbug, PA.

Some readers who know of my interest in photography may wonder why they never see photos of Jesse and Anna. The Amish (most anyway) are opposed to having their photos taken in a way that might be recognized and of course I honor that.

I came across the above photo today that I’d taken of Jesse and their oldest son, Moses, during a break time when Jesse ran a masonry business. The photo was taken on a foggy morning on Maryland’s eastern shore where Jesse had a masonry job. At this time Moses was beginning to talk prolifically and asking a lot of questions. His dad patiently answered him as he began early on to pass on the heritage. Moses is now 14 years old, I believe.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“What Happened When My Daughter Saw Me Kiss My Wife” Video by Joshua Rogers. I, Brooksyne, saw this news feature on Oct. 21st, 2017. I was so moved by Joshua’s experience that I wanted to share it with others, but could not find it online. Just by happenstance I came across it yesterday and appreciated it all over again. If you know a couple who might be struggling in their marriage, who have young children, this would be a good video to share with them. It will touch your heart.

“Love Will Be Our Home”  Video  Susan Ashton

“The Marriage Prayer”  Video  John Waller

“When God Made You”  Video  Newsong and Natalie Grant  Dedicated to a couple who played this song at their wedding that I officiated.

We want to remind our readers of David and Sabra Penley’s wonderful marriage blog, “Simply One In Marriage”. David and Sabra not only write excellent articles, but they have a tremendous and enduring marriage that has been tested in recent years during David’s health crisis. They’ve become good friends via dailyencouragement.

Finally today:

Brooksyne with Josh McDowell 10/21/12
The photo of Josh McDowell used in our message was cropped from a photo I took 6 years ago when we went down to Baltimore to view “Undaunted”, the story of Josh McDowell’s troubled childhood. Before the movie played, Josh walked up to Brooksyne, called her by name (with the correct pronunciation) and wished her Happy Birthday. This floored Brooksyne as she had not even spoken to Josh prior to this greeting. Later, we found out that Ester had sneaked out to let him know and he kindly responded in such a friendly manner.

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.)
Winter sky 1/14/18 (Photo by Ester)
“Snowball” Winter Sky
(Photo taken by Ester)

“The Peril Of Worldly Wisdom”

Message summary: Today we need solid contenders for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Far too many strive to be loved and accepted by the world. Our primary goal should be to please the Lord regardless of what the world thinks of us. Sure, we can and should connect on common ground but we must not seek to accommodate or blend in with that which is not a Christian worldview.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres, and wars to own,
All I once thought gain I have counted loss;
Spent and worthless now, compared to this.

Last night we received an email from Mark, a longtime friend who we have worked with as a chaplain. He shared about the trends in his denomination of departure from a solid Biblical worldview.

Leading the departure is an academic who strives to gain respectability and admiration from the world, as is too often the case. The following descriptive quote is informative: He has “a history of harsh criticism of Bible-believers, and clearly continues to exhibit a pattern of cow-towing to the politically correct world and radical Islam. He wants to be their friend. He wants to show how ‘loving’ and ‘tolerant’ and ‘understanding’ he can be. He demonstrates that he is a supporter of Christ-deniers, and has little concern for Christians.”

Such reasoning illustrates the peril of worldly wisdom. Today we need solid contenders for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Far too many strive to be loved and accepted by the world. Our primary goal should be to please the Lord regardless of what the world thinks of us. Sure, we can and should connect on common ground but we must not seek to accommodate or blend in with that which is not a Christian worldview.

In life we need to give our attention to knowing that which matters most and, admittedly, that’s a struggle. Above all, I want my life to be characterized as one who “understands and knows” God. There’s so much to know, and as Scripture declares, “knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4). In our day we have an explosion of knowledge with no end in sight. We expect this, particularly in regard to technology. But the main thing remains the main thing and is so powerfully expressed in our ancient daily Scripture text.

Jeremiah received the message in our daily text from the Lord some 2,600 years ago, yet surely we can see how timely it is for our generation!  The three aspirations, so sought after by people of all generations, are mentioned here: wisdom, strength and riches. These are three perennial sources of human pride which leads to boasting, whether inward or visible to all. But God reminds us of that which matters the most; that we understand and know Him. May we be mindful of this today and order our lives in accordance to this central truth.

Today, as those who love God, may we have a growing knowledge of God and seek understanding regarding His will for our lives as we daily surrender our will to Him. Now, that’s true wisdom!

Today let’s examine the phrase “but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me”, and particularly the word “understand”. The Hebrew word is “sakal”. It suggests the process of reasoning through complex situations to a practical conclusion. This word is used in Psalm 14:2 where we read that “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God”. God is searching for those who take the data He has revealed in this material universe, who look beyond material reality to the supernatural realm.  Let’s face it, most have no understanding in this way. They see only the material.  Very few “seek” Him but the truly wise still do.

It is true that knowledge continues to increase and be more readily available with every passing day. There are also many modifications and debunking of information we once thought to be true but is proven false in the light of further exploration and technological research. But the ancient Scripture does not need modification and its message is ALWAYS relevant for every believer in every corner of the world. Technology does not know the spiritual heart of man, but the Creator certainly does! We gratefully receive the blessings that come when we heed His warnings.

This understanding has a moral aspect. It is a component of character and not merely intelligence. We all know people who are highly intelligent but lack moral sense, which is reflected in their character and behavior. The ever growing understanding that God wants revealed to us will be reflected in our character. Those that understand God, desire to do His will.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians; “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (5:17). Today, may God give us a growing understanding of His will. May we respond with a heart to obey that will.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You,
there is no greater thing.
You’re my all, You’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
and I love you, Lord.

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father help us to remember the only boasting that really matters is that we boast in this alone: that we truly know You and understand that You are the Lord who is just and righteous!  Our own pride and forgetfulness of Your wondrous works and miraculous provisions will eventually lead to defeat. Our self-confidence, based solely upon our own abilities or wisdom, leads to misplaced trust and compromise in our spiritual lives. We consider the Bible heroes and fallen Christians throughout history and in our present lives who have allowed pride to master their thoughts and actions.  The enemy they faced was not on the battlefield, but a stronghold within the confines of their own hearts. Wisdom, strength, and riches are providential blessings that we do not deserve, but gifts that You distribute with delight. May we always heed the warning from I Cor. 10:12, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin.” In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“All I Once Held Dear”  Video  Joseph Garlington

“Be Enthroned”  Video  Calvary Church Choir (This is one of the songs sang in our church service yesterday and recorded by Ester.) Perhaps you’ll find Brooksyne dressed in red!

Finally today:

Our "new" Buick Envision (1/13/18)
Stephen’s note: On Saturday we traded in our 12 year old Dodge Caravan for a “pre-owned” later model Buick Envision, a small “crossover”. We had a very pleasant buying experience with a salesman named Jerry. Our dads frequently switched vehicles, especially Brooksyne’s who was a real “wheeler-dealer”. Including this vehicle we have bought ten vehicles in our 41 years of marriage. Ironically my (Stephen’s) first car was a Buick Skylark and my dad always liked Buicks so this is sort of sentimental.

Brooksyne’s note: Gene Weber, Stephen’s dad, was a Buick man but my dad, Brooklyn, was a Ford man. He drove a Ford auto carrier for many years, perfect for his allegiance to Ford. Since Daddy was always trading for vehicles, trailers, cars and trucks, he got my sister and me our first car, a 1960 Renault, by the time I was only 14, my sister was 15. He paid only $50.00 in 1970. We got the trading bug from Daddy and by the time I was 16, Elaine and I had owned three different cars. You ask how could you have a car at that young an age? Well, we had back roads, lived in the country, and truth be told we drove without our license many times. I sure don’t recommend that to anyone, but those were the old days, and luckily we suffered no consequences, most especially an automobile accident. We had a lot of experience driving a tractor on our farm.

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.)

“Never Once”

January 12, 2018

Sguirrel (taken by Ester)
We have many squirrels on our property, mostly all gray in color. But yesterday Ester snapped this photo of one with a reddish brown face.

“Never Once”

Message summary: May the Lord give us all overcoming faith both in times of normalcy and in times when we especially face the heat of battle. May the Lord fill us with assurance that, “Never once did we ever walk alone”.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Brooksyne has been singing a song titled, “Never Once” since her choir practice this past week. The choir will be leading worship this Sunday and “Never Once” is one of their numbers which has become one of our favorites. (We post a link to the song below.) The lyrics begin with a battleground setting:

Kneeling on this battleground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Life is indeed a battleground as we struggle against the forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10ff) and “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12).

In ministry much of our impact comes in brief conversations when we have opportunity to share a Scriptural perspective with those whom we encounter. Although I still occasionally preach and we have counseling sessions with some most of our people interface takes place in brief moments as we walk through companies as their chaplain. Two tools we often use are direct Scripture verses and allusions to music.

Brooksyne recently reached out to a friend who recently endured great loss. In addition to sharing some comfort thoughts she provided a link to this song, “Never Once” informing the recipient that this song brought tears during choir practice and prompted her to intercede for the family.

Life is really a sequence of overcomings. Most of the time life rolls along rather smoothly and predictably. We call that normalcy, a blessing we often take for granted. When our lives are disrupted a return to this normalcy is especially a blessing. It’s kind of like how you feel after you’ve had the flu, instead of feeling good you feel extra good!

At other times the issues we deal with are more intense and out of the ordinary, but overcoming faith is always the “modus operandi” of the believer’s life.  In fact the purpose of these daily encouragement messages is to encourage fellow overcomers who, in the words of an old hymn, are “overcoming daily by the Spirit’s sword.” In this real time perspective we periodically share with you from our own overcomings.

The daily text is a great source of encouragement. Interestingly the same root Greek word is used for both victory and overcome. It’s the word “nike” from which the popular athletic shoe company derives its name. For those who have some knowledge of the Greek the phrase “victory that has overcome the world” translates “νίκη ἡ νικήσασα τὸν κόσμον”. Even those who do not know the Greek can see the similarity.

Our faith enables us to overcome the world.  Our confidence is in the One of whom it is said, “He (Jesus) doeth all things well.”

Bible teacher Alan Redpath wrote,

“There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart.”

You might want to print out the above thought and post it on your fridge or another visible location. It’s a stirring thought and may just help you to consider the bigger picture during times of testing.  May the Lord give us all overcoming faith both in times of normalcy and in times when we especially face the heat of battle. May the Lord fill us with assurance that, “Never once did we ever walk alone”.

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

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we treasure the intercessory prayers of faithful believers when we undergo testing periods. Because we deal with the visible, we can easily forget that Jesus, invisible to the naked eye, is interceding for us in the heavenly realms, faithfully presenting our needs to You. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, realizing the eternal purpose in all that we must deal with. Help us to trust You even when we don’t understand Your plan, knowing in our hearts, that You do all things well for Your intended purpose 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.


Squirrel (taken by Ester)
Another one of Ester’s squirrel photos. Here you can see it’s still mostly gray. In northern PA we had brown squirrels. Marionville, a small town in southwest Missouri near where we went to college has a colony of white squirrels!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Never Once”  Video  Matt Redman

“10,000 Reasons”  Video  Matt Redman

“Break Every Chain”  Video  Jesus Culture

“Faith Is The Victory”  Video  Congregational singing

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.)
Sam Wagner Covered Bridge, Montour County, PA
Sam Wagner Covered Bridge spans the Chillesquaque Creek on the Northumberland/Montour County line.

“A Lesson From Bildad The Shuhite”

Message summary: Today let us hide this important truth deep within our hearts: “Love the LORD, all His saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud He pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:23,24).

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“When the wicked dies, his hope will perish” (Proverbs 11:7). “Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold” (Job 8:11-15). “Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud He pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:23,24). “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You” (Psalm 39:7).

In yesterday’s message I told about some confusion on my medical records after I saw my doctor on Monday concerning my height and weight. In a faulty conversion of metric to standard they initially had me at 4 feet tall!

Dr. Dinse 1/10/18I had my annual dental exam yesterday and shared the story with my friendly dentist, Dr. Dinse, as my long 6’2″ frame stretched out on the exam chair. I’m sure he was thinking, “He sure doesn’t look like he’s 4 feet tall!”

He asked me if I knew who the shortest man in the Bible was. Now, of course, the most famous short man’s name is ___________. (Answer below since we think many of you will know who he is!).

I told Dr. Dinse it seems like I recalled a joke about a Nehi (knee high) but he corrected me, giving me the name of Bildad the “Shoe Height” (actually spelled Shuhite, see Job 2:11.) He was one of Job’s three friends.

Job is a remarkable book and a remarkable person. When most of us consider Job we commonly recall the tremendous trials he endured. Most impacting is his persevering faith, but there are so many gems of wisdom throughout the entire book. Today’s portion is from a discourse by Bildad the Shuhite, one of Job’s friends. In the bigger picture the advice from these friends was flawed but we can still glean truths from some of the statements made such as today’s timeless text.

Bildad begins with a keen observation from nature: “Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass.” Papyrus reeds were created to grow near water. Papyrus is a tender herbaceous perennial. It forms tall stands of reed-like swamp vegetation in shallow water. Nature illustrations in the Scripture are used frequently making them a timeless message for every culture, generation, and geographic region.

This observation from nature is immediately followed by the statement in the daily text, “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.” That is, their destiny is like a reed without water, withering and perishing. A truth is then developed based on another observation from nature, a spider’s web: “What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider’s web.”

God’s intended purpose for the spider’s web is very efficient for its inhabitant. Spend some time observing nature and you will see the tiny insects resting comfortably for hours on end, day after day, after they’ve busily spun their webs over a period of time. Now they lie in wait for a tasty meal at the expense of a hapless insect. If you made a steel string as thick as a spider’s string, the spider string, almost invisible to the human eye, is stronger. Their proteins are aligned along the thread and all work together to hold up the spider. It takes a lot of force to stretch a spider’s thread, and you have to apply that force over a long distance before it will break.

But it would be absolutely foolish for me, as a human, to count on a spider web to hold me up or to provide hope for my eternal destiny! Such absurd thinking is described by Bildad in v.15:  “He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.”

Job’s friend colorfully illustrates what the majority of people do rather than place their hope, trust and reliance in the Lord. Today let us hide this important truth deep within our hearts: “Love the LORD, all His saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud He pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:23,24).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, You are the only source of eternal life to whom I cling. I am confident that You will be with me to the end of my life here on this earth. I am grateful for the many people who bring me support, encouragement and companionship along the way. They’re a source of great joy as they enrich my life daily. But as I grow older I’m recognizing that nothing stays the same and much of what I came to rely on is no longer available to me. Losses of very dear people are now but a warm memory. And many things that once captured my attention are but a passing interest as I reflect upon the passing years. I find great comfort as I cling to the words of the 73rd Psalm, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none that I desire on earth beside Thee. My flesh and my heart, they may fail but You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Thank You for being my all in all through every season of my life. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“God Is The Strength of My Heart”  Video  Don Moen

“Whom Have I But You”  Video  Brian Doerksen

“My Hope is in You”  Video   Aaron Shust

The most famous short man in Bible: Zaccheus!

Upon study I found there is no “Nehi” in the Bible at least spelled that way! I must have been thinking of the soft drink we had as a kid.

Finally today: Yesterday, Mel, a longtime friend and reader managed to decipher my precise weight from this photo and description in yesterday’s message regarding some confusion at my medical exam! Now that’s a smart man!

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.)

“Good Medicine!”

January 10, 2018

Little Swatara Creek, Lebanon County, PA 1/9/18
Yesterday morning following a chaplain visit in rural Lebanon County I took a walk along Little Swatara Creek. I was tempted to walk out on the ice but knew better!

“Good Medicine!”

Note: Today’s message is a bit different but will hopefully lend a bit of a chuckle!

Message summary: Let’s all share some good medicine today!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Now Eglon was a very fat man” (Judges 3:17). “A time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

Yesterday afternoon I (Stephen) had my annual physical. It begins with a nurse checking my weight and height in metric which I can’t convert without checking a chart. She then takes me in a room and measures my vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure before the doctor comes in. It seems I’m doing well considering my age and to use a term from my years as a young athlete, “I passed my physical”.

Vital signs 1/9/18When I was checking out, the lady at the desk handed me the printed summary of the report which included my vital signs (shown to the left). I was stunned to see that, according to their measurements, I was just over 4 feet tall and weighed 412 pounds! Like many I’ve been shrinking a bit as I age and admittedly carry more weight than I should. But I was pretty sure these measurements weren’t right so I read them aloud to her and she was rather surprised. She went back to her supervisor who then checked it out.

It took a few minutes, as I sweated it out, but I was greatly relieved when she came back along with the administrator and a few other medical personnel who had overheard the numbers concerning my vitals. They probably wanted to get a peek at what I looked like. A bit embarrassed, they told me somehow the computer read-out chart had mixed up the height and weight lines when they did the conversion from metric. Brooksyne and I had quite a chuckle from my experience and I made sure they got the vitals corrected for my historical records.

I am tall, still 6′ 2″ but slowly shrinking and carry a paunch similar to my dad. (Some really smart reader could probably decipher the medical report and determine what I weigh but I choose not to disclose that here!)

How would you be described physically? We use words like fat and skinny, tall and short, muscular and many other traits, certainly some are more desirable than others.

Eglon was a king of Moab who has this singular physical trait mentioned in Scripture, as he “was a very fat man”. If you’d like to read the rest of the rather sordid story it’s in Judges 3:15-30. It may be unedifying but it describes that perilous period summed up in the phrase “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). So how would you like to go down in history with the sole description, “a very fat man”?

Now that’s enough consideration of the physical! How would you be described concerning your spiritual outlook? Being described with words like devout, encouraging, loving, caring and so forth sure are positive. Or what about sour, petty, lukewarm, casual. Sadly some come to mind with these characteristics (but no one reading this I am sure!)

Today in this rather unusual message we conclude by considering the characteristics of a “cheerful heart” That’s good for us and for those whom we influence. It’s good medicine, the kind you can’t abuse nor will it cost you a week’s pay, so let’s all share some good medicine today!

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we see and hear gloom and doom all over the place as people are quick to spread it, but we as believers are instructed to bring an uplifting word to those around us. There are those who brighten a room when they enter and there are those who brighten a room when they exit. May we be among the first group who extends cheerfulness, brightness, and encouragement to the workplace, to the person in front and behind us when we’re in the grocery check out lane, to anyone who needs an uplifting word that will brighten and cheer them on and remind them that it’s a great joy just to be alive. Amen.

Note: This afternoon I have my annual dental checkup so we will see if any surprise lessons await!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“A Joyful Heart”  Video  Steve Green  Children’s song but good for all!

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.)

“Our Duty”

January 9, 2018

Horst's Mill, Lebanon County, PA 1/7/18
Horst’s Mill in Lebanon County

“Our Duty”

Message summary: Our duty is to faithfully proclaim God’s Word and leave the results to God.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10,11).

We’ve always lived in a state with four seasons. We enjoy the wintery snow although it causes inevitable closings, delays, inconveniences and safety issues. And of course many find various forms of recreation such as skiing, sledding and ice skating. When we were young for awhile we did some cross country skiing, but it never got us too excited – nothing like tennis in the summer, that is when we were younger. Now we mostly just enjoy looking at the snow!

According to the NOAA on average, thirteen inches of snow equals one inch of rain. However this ratio can vary from two inches for sleet to nearly fifty inches for very dry, powdery snow under certain conditions. Farmers like a lot of snow cover on their fields, as it tends to slowly saturate the soil while it melts. That contributes to every farmer’s goal, a good harvest. The first part of the daily Scripture teaches this concept: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater…”

Scripture makes few references to snow since it was not common in that region of the world. In today’s Scripture portion the prophet Isaiah uses rain and snow to illustrate a wonderful spiritual truth that has encouraged devoted readers through the ages.

The prophet Isaiah makes an analogy as he illustrates a powerful spiritual parallel. He is speaking prophetically for God. God’s Word has been going out from His mouth from the very beginning; His initial instructions to Adam and Eve, His redemptive call to them after the Fall, “Where are you”, down through the ages, through His prophets and through His written Word. Today His Word is still going out in so many different ways. He wants to use us today to spread His message of love and forgiveness.

Many years ago I memorized the daily text and especially the part that says, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Note a great promise in the passage. “It will not return to me empty”. The specific way in which God’s Word works is not always visible to us. At times the impact of God’s Word is immediate and visible. That’s wonderful isn’t it?

But at other times the impact is not visible or may not be immediately apparent. It may seem fruitless and that can be a source of discouragement. However, when faithfully delivered, it will always have the impact God has designed. It most certainly will “accomplish what God desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it”.

Our duty is to faithfully proclaim God’s Word and leave the results to God. Today we want to encourage rescue mission workers, chaplains, crisis pregnancy counselors, pastors, teachers and many others who, in many different ways, faithfully proclaim God’s Word. That should include all who claim to follow Christ. Keep it up. Don’t give up. We just won’t have the whole picture of our impact on this side. Remember this wonderful promise today as You share God’s Word! Stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father as we consider the fertile fields and lush vegetation that are a result of Your faithfully sending moisture to the earth, we’re also reminded of the power of Your Word that does not return void. The Word also accomplishes great things as it breathes life and hope into those who apply its salvation message to their lives. It turns our losses into gains, our weaknesses into strength, our fear into courage and our wanderings into purpose filled direction. Thank You for Your Holy Word that has completely changed my life, thereby inspiring me to influence others for the kingdom. Amen.


Berks County farmhouse 1/7/18
A stately Berks County farmhouse

Lebanon County farm pond in snow 1/7/18
Lebanon County pond
Notice the nice arched bridge over the frozen pond and at the opposite end are two cows seeming to be at a loss as to whether they will go skating on the pond or wait for it to thaw.


Some outdoor recreational activities we saw during our journey Sunday afternoon.

Ice fishing on Middle Creek Reservoir 1/7/18
Ice fishing tent on Middle Creek Reservoir

Iron Valley snow tubing 1/7/18
The Iron Valley snow tubing run in Lebanon County has a beautiful view looking across the Lebanon Valley all the way to Blue Mountain.

Ice skating on Mount Gretna Lake 1/7/18
Ice skating on Mount Gretna Lake
Usually the lake is drained over the winter so it surprised us to see all the activity when we passed through Mount Gretna Sunday afternoon and saw the frozen lake. Many skaters joined the fun here since there’s lots of room for many.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Preach the Word”  Video  Gold City

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.)
%d bloggers like this: