“How’s Your Walk?”

1 John 1:7

How’s Your Walk?”

Message summary: Our fellowship with each other is ultimately our common decision to walk in the light over steep mountains and through dark valleys as Jesus illuminates our path one step at a time.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Several weeks ago a young man shared with me some struggles he was having in his walk with the Lord. I encouraged him to stay on the right track and offered some specific steps he could take.
A week later I saw him again and followed up by asking, “How’s your walk?” and he indicated it was better. Then, recalling my knee problem, he gestured toward my knee and asked, “and how’s your walk?”
Well, I was pleased to share that my knee is doing better but I just need to avoid over extending myself. Such was the temptation last Monday when we had sunny 50 degree weather!
Many familiar hymns describe our walk with the Lord such as “Trust and Obey” (“When we walk with the Lord”), “In The Garden” (“He walks with me and He talks with me”) and also the hymn classic, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. But songwriters continue to use this theme in newer songs such as “I Can Only Imagine” (When I walk, by your side) or “The Stand” (So I’ll walk upon salvation).
All through the Bible the life of faith is described as a walk. The first reference of this is when “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). In Genesis 17:1 God spoke to Abraham, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless.”
The Psalmist wrote, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him” (Psalm 128:1). The prophets used this theme in passages such as Jeremiah 6:16, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ But you said, ‘We will not walk in it'”. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

This theme continues all through the Bible. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). It is used in the epistles such as Paul’s instruction, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

This “walk” theme carries on into eternity with one of the final verses in the Bible stating, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it” (Revelation 21:24).
Today’s text declares, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” Our fellowship with each other is ultimately our common decision to walk in the light over steep mountains and through dark valleys as Jesus illuminates our path one step at a time.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is with godly perseverance that I follow in the steps of the Master because You will lead me over steep mountains and through dark valleys.  Your Word declares that whoever follows You will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life that will eventually lead me to my eternal resting place. By Your grace I move forward one step at a time in Jesus’ name as I walk in Your light and in obedience to Your commands. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Trust and Obey”  Video  The Vagle Brothers
“The Stand”  Video  Shane and Shane
“Christ Is All”  Video  Matt Boswell, Matt Papa

“The Abyss Of Moral Insanity”

Cameron Estate Inn entrance (Brooksyne)

The days have been warm so Mollie and Sadie have enjoyed long walks including this one at the Cameron Estate Inn on Donegal Springs Road. The grounds have several trails to be enjoyed by both canines and humans.

“The Abyss Of Moral Insanity
Note: Today’s message is a bit longer than normal and covers a topic that may be distressing to some. It begins with an incredibly true story which is indented.
Message summary: We call out the faithful remnant to earnestly seek the Lord and be diligent in our efforts to retain the knowledge of God! May our godly knowledge be the filter through which all other information is understood, embraced, or rejected.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28). “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 3:10,11).
Many years ago (the late seventies/eighties) we were foster parents and did so with the desire to make a difference in a child’s life. To this day we remain in contact with several of the foster children we cared for, who of course are now grown. But even at that time the social workers tended to be young and it was evident to us that political correctness was creeping into the social framework of foster care. In a recent conversation Brooksyne learned just how crazy things have gotten, as she tells us in the following story:
I visited with an employee who is usually out on the field but he happened to be in his office on this particular afternoon. Bill and Susie (not their real names) are a Christian couple with grown children who live in a very rural area in a neighboring county. For several years they have been caring for special needs foster children, including those who come with medical equipment enabling them to survive. They presently have a little girl who is severely disabled.
Bill told me about an encounter that Susie had with the state social worker managing their case. She took their foster child for a visit with two of her older siblings during a family visit. Her brother was “transitioning” to a “girl”, the sister was “transitioning” to a “boy”. The social worker introduced them by their new names, the names that reflect their imaginary new gender.
The siblings’ change in appearance and names was startling to the younger foster child as well as Susie. Seeing the confusion in her foster child’s eyes and mannerisms, Susie suggested that they deal with the topic later after the children had visited for a while.
The social worker let Susie know that later is not the time, but right now was the proper time to set things straight with the siblings’ new imagined gender. She launched into a very uncomfortable and confusing lecture directed to the five year old foster child.
“If you want to be a doctor, if you want to be a fire fighter, if you want to be an astronaut you can be anything you want to be.” (That may be true when they grow up.) The social worker continued, “If you want to be a butterfly or if you want to be a unicorn, you can be whatever you want to be….”
Shaking my head in disbelief I asked, “Was she being serious as she said these things, the butterfly, unicorn, etc.?” “Yes, she was” he dejectedly replied. Of course, the encounter has made this very devoted couple rethink their role in reaching out to needy children as they are now expected to uphold the philosophies of the Youth and Children’s Services rather than their Christian convictions. This ridiculous encounter along with the body language of the social worker shocked Susie as it should.
Bill and Susie later had a meeting with her and it didn’t result in them feeling any more comfortable in her expectations of their role as foster parents. There is more to the story, but this is the gist of what the transgender, non-binary, gender neutral and all the other new words created that seek to conform to the whims and wishes of a very troubled segment of our society.
The other night I, Stephen, was thinking about this story, and in seeking to spiritually understand world conditions, the phrase in our daily message title came to mind, “The Abyss Of Moral Insanity”.
“Abyss” is defined as “a deep or seemingly bottomless chasm”. I learned that “moral insanity” is actually a psychological term but in the context of this message we mean the insanity that results in an individual and society when God’s truth and moral standards are rejected. It is described in the Bible as a “depraved mind” and a “powerful delusion” that leads people to believe a lie.
Today’s text is an insightful verse from a powerful book. Of course the entire Bible is powerful but Romans provides a particular depth in understanding the human condition, the tragedy of sin and scope of divine redemption. In seeking to understand and discern the current world situation and the immense falling away from godly standards I have been pondering this portion a lot. It describes the inherent natural tendency to sin in each person’s heart since the fall of Adam. The NASV has a concise description for this section heading, “Unbelief and its Consequences”.

Suppression of God’s truth leads to “futile thinking” (Ephesians 4:17) and although there is self-assessment of being wise, in reality it leads to foolishness (Romans 1:21,22). Sin causes us to exchange God’s truth for the lie (v. 25).

Let’s examine today’s second text phrase by phrase:

“They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God.” Contrast this with those who diligently seek and find it immensely worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God. They study the Scriptures and seek to live by them. They realize the supreme call of the Proverb that cautions its readers, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Retaining the knowledge of God is a lifelong pursuit, something we must be committed to. If we don’t retain this knowledge we will fall for anything.

But many, really most, do “not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God”. Instead they have chosen the heavily trampled broad way which leads to destruction (see Matthew 7:13-14). Substitutes for the knowledge of God abound materially, philosophically, educationally, and even in the spiritual realm. These substitutes are billed as “the real thing” and any other outlook may be ridiculed or viewed as “behind the times”.

The consequence of this failure to retain the knowledge of God is that “God gave them over”. This is the third of three occurrences of this phrase in Romans 1.  God’s restraining influence that would keep people living in proper relationship with Him and with each other is removed. This phrase “God gave them over” should put the fear of the Lord into every heart and mind. The master deceiver may have us thinking we are in control, but the Bible tells us, “The one who sows to please the sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction” (Galatians 6:8).

There is grave consequence in failing to retain the knowledge of God, “God gave them over to a depraved mind”.  The Precept Austin commentary notes that this depraved mind “speaks of a mind that is so clouded by sin that it is no longer able to make reliable moral judgments. Here we have gone beyond deliberate iniquity to something much more frightening. At this stage people have lost the desire and the ability to think clearly. They have lost their mind and don’t even know it. The result is a world that has left God far behind. It is a society with all restraints removed, a culture devoid of all sense of right and wrong, where everyone is doing what is ‘right in his own eyes’.”

A “depraved mind” is a result of not retaining the knowledge of God. “Depraved” is not a word we often hear or use frequently. We may recall the theological term “depravity of man”, which describes the consequences of the fall. Other versions use the word “reprobate”, “base and condemned”, “degenerate”, “debased”, “corrupted”.

John MacArthur writes, “Unregenerate people cannot think properly about spiritual truth because they have a ‘depraved mind’. Only God can turn on the light in the human heart so that it can respond in saving faith to the gospel of the glory of Christ.”

The verse ends with this phrase, “to do what ought not to be done”. A depraved mind leads to depraved actions.  In so many areas we see a rejecting of God’s laws where people are doing what ought not to be done. Unless there is a massive return to God’s ways (revival) this will only worsen. Thus the phrase “The Abyss Of Moral Insanity”.

We call out the faithful remnant to earnestly seek the Lord and be diligent in our efforts to retain the knowledge of God! May our godly knowledge be the filter through which all other information is understood, embraced, or rejected.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to be a people whose hearts and minds are one with Yours. Through our diligent study and application of Your living word our thoughts and attitudes are formed. Keep us faithful to the truth of Your knowledge. We stand in firm opposition to the world’s substitutes; the acceptance, condoning, and celebration of anything You describe as sin. The world may dress it up, commercialize it, make it appealing, and cover up the disastrous results it brings on the individual, his or her family and society at large. Help us to read, retain, and regard Your knowledge as our pattern for life. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“This Little Child”  Video  Scott Wesley Brown This is a recent version with a much older Scott Wesley Brown but as I recall the song was written in the eighties and practically has a prophetic tone. It speaks of the increasing fallen state of the human race observable at that time but which has greatly increased in the last 30 or 40 years.
Finally today from Brooksyne: One other bothersome thought comes to mind from the conversation I had with Bill. During his and Susie’s visit with the social worker she blurted out, “I just can’t understand why all these Christians want to take these children and indoctrinate them with their religious belief.” Bill told me, it really troubled him and either he responded to her or wanted to say (I really can’t remember which), “Have you considered that it is Christians who are coming forward to care for these needy children!” So true!

Gender nonsenseThis last weekend we saw this nonsensical sign at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia.

“Are You A Christian?”

female cardinal (Ester)

Ester took this photo of a female cardinal foraging in our front flower bed during one of the few snowfalls we’ve had this season.

“Are You A Christian?”

Message summary: Let us boldly, with a humble heart, declare to our world, “I am a Christian”!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“And he (Barnabas) left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:25-26). “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16).

Last week as I walked through a company I met a new employee. Before introducing myself I asked him what his name was. He answered, “Christian”. I then asked, “Are you a Christian?” He put his head down and then told me he was moving in the other direction. I challenged him to get back on the right side and follow Christ and gave him some literature. He seemed appreciative and I pray that my brief witness made an impact. I also expect to follow up in future visits.

I am a C (pronouncing letters)
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N
And I have C-H-R-I-S-T
In my H-E-A-R-T
and I will L-I-V-E  E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y!
(Of course you speed it up each time you sing a round!)

Today attempts have been made to develop another label for those who follow Christ, in part due to how “Christian” can have such a broad meaning as well as those who have given the designation “Christian” a bad name. The most popular replacement is “Christ-follower” but of course that is not necessarily going to solve the tendency of any word or phrase to broaden or for someone to give it a bad name. I think there’s good reason for sticking with “Christian” going back to the Bible.

The Bible identifies the time “Christian” was first used to identify Christ’s disciples in our daily text, “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch”. The Greek word means “follower of Christ”. It comes from Χριστός (Christos), meaning “anointed one”, with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership. The word Christian is a transliteration of the original Greek word Χριστιανούς (Christianous – the “ous” at the end designates plural). Strong’s concordance asserts that the word was first used by the Gentiles in describing Christ’s followers. It seems to me it could also have been a word in which they self-identified.

Whichever, the name stuck and is used elsewhere in the Bible. It was clearly a word used by non-believers as seen in King Agrippa’s response to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). But later Peter used the word to describe his fellow disciples, “but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16). But from the second century onward “Christian” was accepted as a title of honor.

I am a Christian! I am part of the company of the redeemed first called Christians in Antioch nearly 2,000 years ago. Today this great movement has grown and has representatives all around the world. Scores of Christians have lived out their appointed time on this earth and are now in heaven. One of the remarkable aspects of this daily encouragement ministry is its broad geographical distribution.  The only information required to be on this list is a valid email address but we have had personal responses from every continent and many countries all around the world.

In populous African cities there are those who believe in Christ and on this day they will bear a witness for the Lord. In remote jungle villages in Papua, New Guinea dedicated missionaries are sharing the message of Christ with primitive, previously unreached, tribes. In London England a missionary engages in a witness to Muslims.

Indeed in virtually every part of the world, from huge cities to rural villages, there is a group of people called Christians. I especially want to remember today my brothers and sisters in Christ who, as the Apostle Peter wrote, “suffer as a Christian” (1 Peter 4:16). It’s so easy for us who live in lands where we have not personally experienced physical persecution to forget, yet the Bible clearly calls us to remember.

What a place heaven will be! Several times in the book of Revelation we see the indication of the broad scope of Christ’s redemption. I really enjoy being in multi-cultural settings. For one thing it gives me a peek of heaven’s inhabitants. Here’s a glimpse from the book of Revelation, “And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation’” (Revelation 5:9). Note especially this phrase: “Every tribe and language and people and nation”. Today, reflect on what a joy it is to be among the redeemed and worship Him who sits on the throne. Let us boldly, with a humble heart, declare to our world, “I am a Christian”!

I’ll tell the world, that I’m a Christian,
I’m not ashamed, His name to bear;
I’ll tell the world, that I’m a Christian,
I’ll take Him with me everywhere.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is salvation to all who believe upon Jesus as the Son of God. It’s natural and inviting to join in with a crowd of believers and declare with exuberance our privilege and joy to be a Christian. But when we stand alone against a defiant crowd or are confronted by those who declare evil against the Christian believer it becomes a grave responsibility and conviction to honor Christ by proclaiming our allegiance in a hostile setting. We pray for those confronted with that choice this very day. We also pray for families and friends who grieve the loss of their loved ones who took a Christian stand by staying true to their Christian faith though it cost them their earthly lives. May these families, all over the world, be consoled by the Scripture in Revelation 2:11 declaring that those faithful unto death will be given “the crown of life”. That is our prayer today that we be found faithful in life and faithful unto death, however that comes to us. In the name of Jesus our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“He Reigns”  Video  The Newsboys

He Reigns, the Newsboys (photo by Ester)
Last Friday night Ester went to a Newsboys concert in Lancaster and took this photo. This group has been around (in various iterations) since 1985 when we were relatively young! We chose this song because of the people in the video with faces of Christians from all over the world.

It’s the song of the redeemed
Rising from the African plain
It’s the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain
The song of Asian believers
Filled with God’s holy fire
It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir

“I’ll tell the world that I’m a Christian”  Video  Carroll Roberson

“Christ Will Hold Me Fast”

Boathouse Row in Philadelphia (Ester)

Yesterday afternoon we passed by “Boathouse Row”, an historic site in Philadelphia on the east bank of the Schuylkill River. Ester snapped this photo from the Schuylkill Expressway.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“Christ Will Hold Me Fast”

Message summary: Today’s message is written for those struggling to hold on.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“Your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:10). “To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 1:24,25).
When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.
Ashley and her husband Justin are young friends of ours. We met Ashley about ten years ago when she served with Brooksyne on the worship team in a small church we were pastoring at the time. Ashley loves to sing for the Lord and plays cello as well. I participated in their wedding ceremony and we have stayed in contact as their family has grown. On November 26 Ashley gave birth to identical twins, Emerson and Wyatt, and on New Year’s Eve began a trial she and Justin would have never picked or scheduled.
Emerson came down with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and was flown to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (affectionately known as CHOP). Both twins dealt with this very serious viral infection, but Wyatt recovered over a week’s time in the Hershey Children’s Hospital. Emerson struggled longer but finally recovered from the infection and now deals with damage due to the intubation that left narrowing of his airway. He has a long road ahead of him and it is a heavy for load for Justin and Ashley to deal with.
Last week we read an updated Facebook post by Ashley and through the night Saturday I had a burden that we should go visit. So yesterday we headed to CHOP. We wanted to encourage both Ashley and Justin but he was over at the hospital with Emerson so we visited with Ashley and their older son Carson and young Wyatt at the Ronald McDonald House. Ashley was in good spirits but we could see how understandably weary she was. Our goal was to assure her that Christ would hold her fast through this hard trial, and prayed to that end before leaving her.
Spoken BenedictionsA benediction is a short prayer for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually spoken at the end of a worship service. The word comes from the latin “bene”, well and “dicere”, to speak. Through the years I have used a variety of Biblical benedictions when I conclude a worship service. In fact I have them adhered to the back flyleaf on my pulpit Bible. (I also have invocations to use at the beginning of a worship service on the front flyleaf.)

The first part of Jude’s benediction expresses what God will do for us using the glorious phrase, “He is able”.

1)  He is able to keep us from stumbling.
2)  He is able to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

He is able and faithful to hold us fast through this life, to “keep us from stumbling” and prepare us for the life to come, “To present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy”.

In the epistles there are several rich expressions of what God is able to do for us:

  • He is able to establish us according to the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25).
  • He is able to make all grace abound to us, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, we may have an abundance for every good deed (2 Corinthians 9:8).
  • Since He Himself was tempted in that which He suffered, He is able to come to our aid when we are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).
  • He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).

The second part of the benediction is a powerful declaration of praise to God.

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.”

Today we pray this benediction for each reader that you will experience rich assurance and great joy as you recognize your position in Christ. Hold fast to the truth that He is able to save us who draw near to God through Him, and He is making intercession for us. Be assured that Christ will hold you fast!

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, what great joy and peace comes when we realize that You will always hold us fast. Give us the rich assurance of sufficient strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Only You are able to keep us from falling and to receive us before Your glorious presence without fault and with great joy. You are the only wise God our Savior in whom we can truly ascribe glory, majesty, power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord in all generations both now and forevermore. In Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen.

Brooksyne’s Note:  We could relate somewhat to Justin’s and Ashley’s ordeal as Ester also had RSV when she was 9 months old, only three months after her first two heart operations that required a three month stay in Geisinger Hospital three hours from home. Her RSV was very critical since was already on home oxygen. Stephen and I were about the same age as Justin and Ashley so we feel empathy for their hard situation remembering the strain of such a trial. We were blessed as Ashley told us how the church folks are coming together and helping to care for the boys while Justin is at work and the many other ways God is providing for their needs, including the housing and other provisions at Ronald McDonald House. God is able to relieve us of a burden or He may choose to reveal His faithfulness in ways we never thought possible.
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“He Will Hold Me Fast”  Video  Keith and Krystyn Getty. This version has a long intro but we use it because we feel the words will bless you.

Christ Will Hold Me Fast
“He Will Hold Me Fast” Video  As part of the Sing! conference last year, Selah led this stirring rendition of “He Will Hold Me Fast” at the historic Grand Ole Opry House.

Christ Will Hold Me Fast
“He Will Hold Me Fast” Blog article with background to song

The song was first introduced in Philadelphia in the early 1900’s

During a cam­paign in To­ron­to, Can­a­da, a young con­vert with whom I was deal­ing ex­pressed the fear that he would not be able to “hold out.”

A day or two lat­er in a let­ter to Miss Ada Hab­ers­hon, of Lon­don, I men­tioned the need for a song which would give def­in­ite as­sur­ance of suc­cess in the Chris­tian life.

The weeks passed and a cou­ple of months lat­er dur­ing a great cam­paign in Phil­a­del­phia, U.S.A., I re­ceived a batch of sev­en new songs writ­ten by Miss Hab­er­shon.

As Dr. Tor­rey preached his ser­mon one af­ter­noon (in­stead of lis­ten­ing!) I oc­cu­pied the time in set­ting the sev­en lyr­ics to mu­sic. One of these was “He will hold me fast”.

The same ev­en­ing it was in­tro­duced by Chas. M. Al­ex­an­der to an au­die­nce of 4,000 pe­ople. Its suc­cess was im­med­i­ate, and it has con­tin­ued to be a great fav­our­ite. It has been trans­lat­ed in­to ma­ny lan­guag­es.
Robert Harkness

Ashley 2/23/20

We enjoyed our visit yesterday with Ashley along with her oldest son, Carson, and one of her twin sons, Wyatt at the Ronald McDonald House. Justin was at CHOP caring for their other twin, Emerson.
Brooksyne with Ashley 9/11/10
This photo is from ten years ago shortly after we met Ashley. She worked at the National Christmas Center at that time.
Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House 2/23/20
We visited Ashley at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia which was the very first Ronald McDonald House opened in the world.
Finally today:
Philadelphia skyline (Ester)Heading home from the hospital yesterday Ester took this photo of the Philly skyline. Being in the city a few hours reminds me of why I like living in the country! However we recall the perspective from Otis, a Boeing engineer, who lives in the heart of the city of Philadelphia who told us he is uncomfortable when he’s in the country. That’s good because we don’t want the country to get crowded!

“A Lesson From Bricklaying”

Brick wall

A view of the three courses of brick on an old farmhouse.

“A Lesson From Bricklaying

Message summary: Genuine faith often has a cooperative element that is expressed as we trust God and are obedient using the resources that He has given us. Today in your walk of faith you will likely face opposition of some type, perhaps even within the ranks of your own family. We urge you to remain steadfast and ever prayerful as you follow the example of Nehemiah, no matter the test you face! Keep building, one brick at a time.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (Nehemiah 4:9).

Our friend Jesse is a stonemason, a trade which includes bricklaying. We visited a home where he had been doing brick work on a new addition and the older part of the home that had three courses of brick which provided the structural strength.

Bricklaying Most modern brick homes, including ours, are frame constructed, and then have a single course of brick veneer which serves as the siding. There are fake brick veneers that come as a sheet but Jesse told me that genuine brick is always laid one brick at a time. However there are now brick-laying machines or robots! (see below for video)

A Scriptural principle is that growing spiritually is similar to bricklaying. This can be applied to marriage. Like building a brick home we build a strong, lifelong marriage one brick at a time. Over the years those single bricks become solid layers with the Lord Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone.
Today’s Scripture verse suggests a cooperative arrangement of faith and action that applies to many issues of life. In fact there’s an application for each reader.

The setting for the book of Nehemiah takes place during the rebuilding of the long neglected walls of Jerusalem after the return from the Exile, “which had been broken down, and its gates which had been destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 2:13b,14). These walls were vital for security reasons. They had been destroyed by the Babylonians some 150 years earlier. Now they were being rebuilt.

As with any major endeavor those with a heart to move forward in obeying God usually face opposition. As we seek to build our lives for Christ we will face opposition. Are you facing any opposition today? If so, you’re in good company with many other believers who are engaged in conflict with the spiritual forces of evil.

The specific opposition in today’s passage was led by a character by the name of Sanballat. This pesky fellow was persistent and creative in opposing the advancement of God’s work! Perhaps he earned the unenviable title of “Mr. Discouragement.”  It seems that he gained many followers in his attempt to foil God’s plan of rebuilding the ruined walls. Unfortunately some of his descendants remain to this day such as Danny Defeatist, Helen Hindrance, Oliver Obstacle, Patty Pessimist, Fanny Fatalist (you get the picture). We mingle with them regularly and we must be on guard or we will join their ranks.

In the immediate context of today’s verse the opposition was threatening a physical attack, but there are many ways we will be opposed; if not in the physical, the spiritual. Paul reminds us that there is much unseen by the naked eye, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12,13).

Trust and obey Nehemiah writes about his God-given vision that included faith, prayer, sacrifice, hard work, tenacity and common sense. “We prayed to our God and posted a guard”. Nehemiah led the people in both spiritual action (prayer) and practical action (posting a guard). We place a high value on common sense which there seems to be a great lack of these days. As followers of Christ we believe God can help us develop Biblically informed common sense measures in our daily lives when confronting the many challenges we deal with regularly. It’s not “unspiritual” to use this sense given to us by God!

Our Christian walk, ministry, marriage, vocation, childrearing and many other vital issues of life are much like building a house one brick at a time. This building project will continue all through life until we are called home.

Genuine faith often has a cooperative element that is expressed as we trust God and are obedient using the resources that He has given us. Today in your walk of faith you will likely face opposition of some type, perhaps even within the ranks of your own family. We urge you to remain steadfast and ever prayerful as you follow the example of Nehemiah, no matter the test you face! Keep building, one brick at a time.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You that You have promised to be our faithful Shepherd leading us in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. We are guided, not by our own strength or wisdom lest it be inadequate or faulty, but in the knowledge and wisdom of our all-knowing, all-powerful God. It is not by might, nor by power but by Your Spirit that we can stand against the tactics of the enemy. Like Nehemiah, may our first impulse be that of prayer and our second impulse be that of using the sense you have given us. In the name of Jesus we ask these things. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“The Solid Rock”  Video  The Hymns Project This is the way I like to hear a hymn sung!

The Solid Rock
“My Lord Is Taking Good Care Of Me”  Video  The Detty Sisters  Last night Tim, a friend from one our companies, came over for dinner and he shared this video of the Detty Sisters singing. It will bring a smile to your face!

Detty Sisters
“Meet SAM, the bricklaying robot”  Video
Finally today:

Lapp labor certificateThis Christmas I received this blessing from Jesse and his two older sons. He teaches his boys to work and I am sure I will get some work done. We hope to replace my utility barn roof over the next several weeks!

“Remembered Forever”

Yellowstone National Park (Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)Yellowstone National Park
Photo taken by our friend Howard Blichfeldt


“Remembered Forever

Message summary: The highest form of remembrance that we can express is that of our devotion to God and our service for Him.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes” (Psalm 112:6-8).

Elderly hands holding BibleToday we speak to a group of seniors at the “Golden Nuggets” luncheon, an outreach to the elderly right here in Mount Joy.  Oren and Naomi, dear friends and dedicated servants of Christ, developed this ministry many years ago with a burden to reach the lonely and often forgotten older population, both within and outside the local church. In fact my Mom thoroughly enjoyed going to Golden Nuggets before she went to be with the Lord in 2005.

We will share with them an assurance of God’s care during their senior years as they deal with the inevitable challenges of aging. I will also point out that we all have an “expiration date”, which is in God’s hands.

The church is out in the country with a cemetery beside it. As you drive into the parking lot the church is on your left and the cemetery on your right. What a visible reminder of the expiration date we all have!

The Apostle James says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Nearly 2000 years have passed since Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Our life will only comprise a small fraction of that period of time (about 4% of it). That’s pretty humbling isn’t it? And if you go all the way back to creation it’s an even smaller percentage.

The vast majority of human beings who lived in previous generations are long forgotten on this side. In fact only a tiny, tiny fraction are remembered. But there are various reasons a few people are remembered long after their death such as:

  • National leadership
  • Significant inventions
  • Literary works
  • Sadly some for their evil acts
  • A few who have faithfully lived for God are remembered for that but even this is a tiny percentage.

But the highest form of remembrance is that of our devotion to God and our service for Him. Most followers of Christ serve away from the spotlight without acknowledgement or applause and generations will follow their example, even unknowingly, and leave similar legacies of righteous living.

Psalm 112 has yet another perspective of this fleeting life. It extols the blessings of the godly one who fears the Lord. The righteous “will be remembered forever”. Read that again slowly. Do you believe it?  As God is remembered by His marvelous works, so the godly person is held in remembrance for his acts of mercy.

I want to remember today that’s what matters most. I want to follow Jesus Christ and seek to live as a righteous man according to His plan.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You bless the righteous; those of us who fear and serve You are a joyful people. Our fear is not that which You cast out but that which Your love brings in. You lay up blessings for us and our descendants who walk in Your righteous path. Riches of eternal nature are bestowed upon them, as well as the earthly provisions that are profitable for them. We can have blessed assurance knowing that in the darkest hours of affliction and trial, the light of Your hope and goodness will spring up within us, turning our mourning into dancing and our testing into a testimony that glorifies You. We want to be remembered as a victorious people who walked in Your paths of righteousness all our days. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“When It’s All Been Said and Done”  Video   Robin Mark, singer and writer. The words continue to repeat in my mind as it says so much about living one’s life to the glory of God, staying above the fray of this world.

“Find Us Faithful”  Video   Steve Green   This song is an expression of aspiration in leaving behind us a godly legacy.

“My Tribute”  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir 

“Waymaker”  Video  Calvary Church worship team from Sunday’s service along with a prayer.

“Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor”

Anchor in Plymouth Harbor (photo by Ester)The anchor at Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
(Photo taken by Ester in January)

Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor”

Message summary:
Rest in this blessed assurance: God and His Word provide the only steady anchor and sure foundation for the soul. Today let us focus on the immutable God whose Word has promised: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3,4)

Listen to this message on your audio player.

“We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

While walking along Plymouth Harbor several weeks ago I quickly spotted one of my favorite seascape sites, the old, very rusty, anchor that has been there ever since we first visited Plymouth in 1993. Hopefully, it isn’t among the historic sites vandalized a couple days ago in Plymouth.

The anchor has long been a theme in Christian hymns (see below for a partial list). Recently we have been enjoying music by Matt Boswell and a song titled “Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor”.

Christ the sure and steady anchor,
In the fury of the storm;
When the winds of doubt blow through me,
And my sails have all been torn.
In the suffering, in the sorrow,
When my sinking hopes are few;
I will hold fast to the anchor,
It will never be removed.

Today let us consider the anchor for the soul based on one of my all time favorite Scripture passages.

How thankful we are for the blessed anchor of hope we have in Jesus! This anchor is eternally firm and secure. The daily verse is the only place in the Bible where the word “anchor” is used figuratively. It is also used literally in Acts 27 during Paul’s shipwreck (v.29). The Greek word is Aγκυρα, pronounced “ankura” (our English “anchor” is merely a transliteration of this word). The anchor was used in the Greek world as a picture for hope.

“In the catacombs of Rome, where Christians hid in times of persecution, one symbol can be seen more than any other: the anchor. No matter what storms come our way, we are anchored in the Word of God, in the promises He made. We have this sure hope that He will do what He says. So don’t go back to temple worship, entreats the author. Don’t go back to heathen practices, to partying, to wherever else you came from. Be anchored in the immutable, unchangeable, sure, and steadfast Word of God.” (Jon Courson)*

Believers all throughout the ages have received assurance in their hearts as they consider the security an anchor provides in the midst of battering storms. Consider the early part of the daily verse, “We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged”.

This hope is what the believer has “fled to take hold of”.  Worldly suggestions for hope are always temporal and short sighted. The hope Jesus offers is the only true and lasting source of hope that is endless. Once we firmly take hold of this hope we are indeed “greatly encouraged”.

“Hope”, as used in the Bible, is not a wishful thought but a confident expectation of absolute certainty. The Holman Bible Dictionary offers this insight: “Hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future.”

Perhaps your soul feels pounded upon by a storm of adversity even as you read this. Or there may be a storm on the horizon. If things seem steady in your personal life you don’t have to look far to see the unsteadiness in the world around you! Today we want to encourage you to ground your faith in the anchor that is steadfast weathering the worst storms of life. Truly, this anchor of hope we have in Jesus Christ is firm and secure!

Rest in this blessed assurance: God and His Word provide the steady anchor and sure foundation for the soul. Today let us focus on the immutable God, whose Word has promised: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3,4).

Christ the sure of our salvation,
Ever faithful, ever true!
We will hold fast to the anchor,
It shall never be removed.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help us not to resent the storms of life or be fearful of their effects. Much like we prepare for a ravaging storm by anchoring valuables to a firm foundation, help us to anchor our souls in the firm foundation of Your Word that will help us to withstand the testings and trials of life that are certain to come our way. May we have an assurance of Your absolute reliability, not for the years of time alone, but for eternity. Amen.

Here’s a quote written about 350 years ago by Jeremy Taylor. It fully embraces the timetable of the Gospel journey and is a great focus for the believer using in part an anchor theme:

“Faith is the Christian’s foundation,
Hope is his anchor,
Death is his harbor,
Christ is his pilot,
And heaven is his country.”

Contemplate this thought-provoking quote: “In order to realize the worth of the anchor, one needs to feel the stress of the storm.” Faith is put to the test and best demonstrated during the deepest of trials.

* (Courson, J. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor”  Video  Matt Boswell and Boyce College Choir. This would be a great congregational song!
Matt Boswell
Matt Boswell also wrote the song we featured last week titled “His Mercy Is More”. Video
Here are some other songs with the theme of anchor:

“We Have An Anchor”  Video  Robin Marks  I am so very blessed by this grand old hymn.

“The Anchor Holds”  Video  Written and performed by Lawrence Chewning, includes the testimony behind the song.

“I’ve Anchored In Jesus”  Video  Pilgrim Hymns  An old song we sang in Bible College.

“Anchored In Love”  Video  Carter family

Finally today:
Anchor in Plymouth Harbor
Here’s another photo of the anchor in Plymouth Harbor I took many years ago.

“Content Or Discontent?”

Amish school window 2/17/20Looking out the window of our neighborhood one room schoolhouse at the heavy-duty swing set located within the fenced in school yard on Kraybill Church Road.
“Everyone of us lives in a tent; Content or Discontent”

Content Or Discontent?”

Message summary: “Everyone of us lives in a tent – content or discontent”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

Yesterday I (Brooksyne), along with my neighbor, Jane, visited the one room Amish schoolhouse that was built last July right up the street from us. Due to the increase of Amish families in our area last summer the families went together and built Scenic Ridge School for the seventeen students who attend (grades 1-8).
The teacher was delighted when we stopped by and set up chairs in the back so we could observe the children while they were studying and hear them sing three songs for us. We were invited to participate by quizzing the children using flash cards or other fun learning activities.
I am always impressed with the excellent behavior of the children, the expertise of the very young school teacher teaching eight grades in one classroom, the order of the classroom and the learning that takes place when I visit Amish schools. It has mostly been visiting the Lapp children at their school in Strasburg, but I’ve now observed four different school teachers, and have been very impressed with each of them.
Just before we left each child stood up beside their desk, one at a time, and bid us farewell by sharing a brief thought or a Scripture. The last young girl stood up and said, “We love you.” What a major contrast to visit a classroom like this as compared to public education in our schools today!
The teacher welcomed me to take photos once the children were outside for recess and then asked if I would send some to her, which certainly I will. The Amish schools have a lot of folksy sayings on the walls and throughout the classroom that are intended to build character and uplift the Lord as well. Yesterday, looking out the window I read this thought-provoking statement, “Everyone of us lives in a tent – content or discontent” (see photo above).
From the beginning Satan has tormented the human race with this lie, “That which God has provided for you is not enough”. At the very heart of Satan’s first lie to Adam and Eve was that the outstanding beauty and provision of God in the Garden of Eden was not enough. That lie led Adam and Eve to believe that God was actually withholding the best. God sets boundaries and it’s always Satan’s strategy to get us to cross those boundaries. Consider the Ten Commandments for instance.
Satan’s lies persist today don’t they!

Today we have an overabundance of things promising to fulfill; a special place that promises to be better, a new item that will thrill, and for many someone else to be that special person.

All believers should take to heart the Apostle Paul’s confident assurance expressed in the daily verse: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”. He wrote this from prison and yet he exudes a deep, abiding peace and assurance so lacking in our world today, even among many professed believers.

I typically read this in the sense of contentment with material possessions but Paul is referring to “whatever the circumstances” not just material things. Other versions translate “whatsoever state I am” (KJV), “whatever situation” (ESV). The New Century Version states, “I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens”.

Today I want to experience the contentedness that Paul speaks of. I want to resist a false sense of entitlement so common in our age. After he spoke of this contentment Paul wrote, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12,13).

And all of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank you for those who model contentment by living with less so that others can have more; more of the basics of life and the provisions needed to reach others with the Gospel message. Contentment from You cannot be packaged and sold, but it can be a way of life as we align our priorities in accordance to Your will. Teach us the great gain we experience by setting our heart’s affections not on this world’s changing and peril-stricken economy, but by storing up treasures in heaven’s economy where eternal riches can never perish, spoil or fade. May that precious truth help us find contentment in a non-content society. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Amish school window 2/17/20Valentine’s Decorations were certainly present throughout the bright, cheery classroom.
Here’s a photo of the school last summer when it was being constructed.
Amish school window 2/17/20
You can see the trusted lighting system in the upper right hand corner of the photo. You might also notice at the top of the chalkboard a “Dove” bag of candy. To the left of the bag, written on the chalkboard, is the number, 90, circled. That’s the number of visitors the school has had this year. When Jane, her high school daughter, Janae, and I dropped in the school teacher, Naomi, informed us that she will change the number to 93. When the 100th visitor shows up the children will share a bag of Dove candy. So if any Daily Encouragement readers are in our area let me know and we’ll pay a visit to Scenic Ridge School so that the children will get to finally dig into the bag of Dove candy!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Enough”  Video  Chris Tomlin
Finally today:

Plymouth MAThree weeks ago we visited Plymouth, Massachusetts when Ester and I went to New England to visit my former secretary. Ester took the photo above of some colorful “seashell” artwork seen all through Plymouth. This will be the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing and Plymouth is expecting millions of visitors this summer. Sadly over the weekend the town had a spate of senseless anarchist vandalism, including damage to the iconic Plymouth Rock.

“The Grace Outlook”

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse (photo by Harold Blichfeldt)Sturgeon Point Lighthouse along Lake Huron near Harrisville, Michigan
(Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)

The Grace Outlook

Message summary:
In having “the grace outlook” we seek to constantly view life as a gift from God and see His hand at work in every circumstance of our life every day.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Through our years of ministry, both in pastoral and chaplain roles, we have often walked alongside those going through difficult trials. In recent years we have been attending a church quite different in size than those from our past; a very large church with three services. We had previously been in churches where, if you’re a regular attendee, you pretty much know everyone in the congregation by name and you’re familiar with their ongoing challenges.

In a large church it’s not possible to know everyone in a personal way, but there are venues like small groups where it is. There are also those who attend we befriend because they’re our “pew neighbors”.  Regardless of where we have ever lived, in churches big and small, people tend to sit in the same area or even the same pew every week, so we do get to know the people around us due to fellowship before and after the service.

For several years we’ve sat near a younger couple seated on the second row. They appear very earnest, vibrant and expressive in their worship. Several months ago we noticed the young man wearing a medical mask and together Brooksyne and I wondered what health issue he was dealing with. A few weeks back I was out of town but Brooksyne attended the Sunday morning service. She told me later the Lord brought them to mind throughout the service and prompted her to respectfully approach them and sensitively inquire about the mask.

They were quite open and seemed to appreciate her interest. Turns out Mike was hoping and waiting for a bone marrow transplant within the next two weeks. His cancer, that had been in remission, had returned and his only hope for survival was through a bone marrow transplant. Mike and Amanda shared that they have five children and the surgery and treatments would require his staying at Johns Hopkins Hospital for two months, with his wife right alongside him most of that time. His sister was the donor having passed the rigorous testing, and Mike underwent surgery a few weeks ago and is now going through the grueling process of recovery.

Amanda sat in front of us yesterday along with the two younger children. She was wearing a medical mask since she must remain healthy during Mike’s critical recovery. In our worship time, the “King’s Kids” children’s choir led in a song we have really come to enjoy in recent months that has these faith-building lines:

I will build my life upon Your love, it is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone, and I will not be shaken
Brooksyne and I commented to one another after the service how touched we were when we saw Amanda with an upraised hand singing this song, while her other arm secured the small child nestled on her hip. Worshiping the One whom she and her husband have built their life upon will keep them from being shaken during the ups and downs of this ongoing and intensive trial. In a sense she was approaching God’s throne of grace with confidence, and receiving mercy and finding grace to help her in her time of need.

We can’t store up or anticipate as to when we will need God’s special grace, but God faithfully dispenses His grace in our time of need. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

Today let us consider a spiritual principle we call the “grace outlook.” Each day we can see all the problems and challenges we face in life and make that the focus, which many do and I certainly have (and still periodically do). Or we can focus on God’s blessings expressed in our lives through His abundant grace. That’s a choice we make daily.

The principle truth of the grace outlook can apply regardless of the duration or severity of the trials we endure throughout life. Paul ends the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians with a prayer in which he asks the Father to fulfill His good purpose in their lives as they are prompted by faith to do His will. “We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:12).

In having “the grace outlook” we seek to constantly view life as a gift from God and see His hand at work in every circumstance of our life every day. That’s why wherever we live, whatever we are going through we can truly declare, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We challenge you to do that today!

He will carry you when you can’t go on.
He will be your strength when your strength is gone.
He will lift you up.
He will be enough to get you through.
When the road is long and you wanna quit.
Cause you think you’ve got nothing left to give.
You can fall apart, fall into His arms.
He will carry you.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, there is no one like You. Open up my eyes in wonder; show me who You are, fill me with Your heart and lead me in Your love to those around me. I will build my life upon Your love, for it is a firm foundation. I will put my trust in You alone and not be shaken because I can approach Your throne of grace with confidence, that I may receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need. Amen.

(Beginning of prayer adapted from the song, “Build My Life”)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“In Christ Alone/Build My Life”  Video  Calvary Church “King’s Kids” choir from yesterday’s  service. We really appreciate the many volunteers who help with the large choir that leads us in worship several times a year. The children sing the worship songs in earnest though there may be a wiggly child here or there. In the song, “Build My Life” during one stanza the adult singer backs off the microphone and you can hear the children really sing out!
Calvary Church "King's Kids" children's choir

“He Will Carry You”  Video  Brian Free and Assurance
A note from Ester:

For the Daily Encouragement readers,

Thank you all so much for the prayers, calls and emails last week. I’m glad to be home with my family again, including my canine family, Sadie Mae & Mollie Taylor. I’m slowly but surely regaining my strength again. I love you all so very much.

This morning I tested my INR and it was 2.6, a perfect reading within the middle range of (2.0 -3.0) for which I thank God.

Sincerely, Ester Weber

“Transforming, Enduring Love”

Valentine’s Day
Valentine display at Village Farm MarketValentine flower arrangements at the Village Farm Market east of Ephrata, PA.

Transforming, Enduring Love”

Message summary:
Practice enduring love. God sure has this kind of love and calls us to love in the same way! “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). 
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Jim and Dorothy Schmidt with cake, 4/3/19We first met Jim and Dorothy Schmidt at a conference in Boston twenty years ago. At that time they worked with a mission agency called SEND International. They were also involved in the Finisher’s movement and Dorothy, also known by her friends as Dottie, was a longtime regional representative for Stonecroft Ministries that heads up Christian Women’s Club. For many years they were also youth leaders and served in prison ministry.  We have grown much closer since their move from Ocean City, New Jersey to Lancaster about four years ago they took up residency at Calvary Homes, one of the many retirement communities in our area.

Their life story is an excellent example of transforming, enduring love. We had met them in their senior years and at that time were blessed by their commitment and enthusiasm for the Lord. Jim was a career sales manager for a large company and used his retirement years in service for the Lord. They both exude such grace that we were taken by surprise when we later heard them give their testimony which included a very troubled marriage in their early years.

Both were raised in non-Christian homes, but as a child Dorothy was given a little blue Bible and had memorized some Scriptures even though she didn’t understand the meaning of them.

Early in their marriage Jim had a serious alcohol problem and in time their marriage was on the rocks.

The Lord began to draw Dorothy to Himself using that little blue Bible and the verses she had tucked deep in her heart. She came to understand the love and forgiveness of God, accepted Christ as her personal Savior and began a new life. Of course she then desired that Jim would also follow the Lord, but he was very resistant and wanted nothing to do with her new faith. So she took their two young sons and began to faithfully attend a Bible believing church.

The Spirit of God was at work and eventually Jim began to attend church with his family. In time he sought a meeting with the pastor. At the end of the conversation the pastor, compelled by the Spirit, boldly leaned forward, put his finger right in Jim’s face, and declared, “Jim, you’re going to hell!” Dorothy looked at the pastor in shock and disbelief. Knowing Jim as she did, she felt such a bold approach would only anger and turn him away. But it didn’t. It’s the very reality shock Jim needed to bring him to a crossroad where he would decide one way or the other. The pastor went on to share the message of salvation and Jim was gloriously saved.

That was 55 years ago. They both began to serve the Lord together and now in their mid-eighties they will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in April. They’ve had deep heartache and loss in recent years with their son, Jimmy, dying of cancer about seven years ago and their other son inexplicably walking away from the family shortly thereafter. They have seen increased health problems in recent years, the inevitable effect of catabolism (aging). But their love endures!

This is Valentine’s Day and so much emphasis will be placed on young love including the kind that is here today and gone tomorrow. But today we want to focus on enduring love, the kind of love that God has for us.  Some of you reading our message may very well identify with the Schmidts’ story before they began the spiritual transformation. We implore you to look to the supreme example of enduring love which is Jesus Christ, of course.

Just before Ester was released from Hershey Medical Center yesterday afternoon, she and Brooksyne met Sheila, a nurse who worked many years in the Cardio Vascular Unit where Ester was admitted four days earlier. Sheila was handing out valentine cards she had made for the patients. As they visited together she told Brooksyne that she was a Christian and had prayed 27 years for her husband to become a believer. Her prayer was finally answered in April of last year. Her story along with the Schmidts is a reminder to keep on praying and believing if your spouse is not yet a believer. Never give up!

There are some of you reading this message who have begun that process of transformation but your marriage problems are mounting. A fulfilling marriage does not work on auto pilot since couples deal with different backgrounds, personalities, opinions and interests. If yours is a troubled marriage seek out a Christian counselor who can help you. Go online and find resources including Christian books dealing with troubled marriages. And above all pray and hold steady!

Practice enduring love. God sure has this kind of love and calls us to love in the same way! “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your Word indicates there’s rejoicing in heaven when a loved one is called home, but there’s surely a lot of rejoicing as well when an ungodly cycle is broken where generations have not followed in Your ways. We thank You for the transforming power evident in couples such as Dorothy and Jim who are committed to You and influence others for Your kingdom. On this Valentine’s Day we pray for couples to be wholeheartedly committed to their marriage partner. May theirs be an enduring love for at the end of one’s life the greatest gift we can give one another is enduring love. It will hold us together when other things around us fall apart. Amen.
Jim and Dorothy with great grandchildrenJim and Dorothy with three of their great grandchildren.

Valentine display at Village Farm Market
More Valentine flower arrangements at the Village Farm Market.
Brooksyne’s Note:  Jim and Dorothy have become like parent figures to me. They’re one year younger than my parents who have been with the Lord now about twenty years. Their fervor for the Lord does not diminish even with the painful affliction they endure due to various health issues. Dottie launched a much needed ministry for the women at Calvary Homes nearly two years ago. It’s called Women Connecting and meets the first Monday of each month. Its format is very similar to Christian Women’s Club. When I shared my testimony last November and presented the Mayflower Voyage at Women Connecting I found the women to be so receptive and excited about meeting together each month. There are usually about 100 women who gather. Jim is such a wonderful support to Dottie in this ministry. They also serve on the hospitality committee and welcome new residents at Calvary Homes.
Update on Ester: Ester was discharged yesterday afternoon. Upon release her INR was slightly elevated so this morning Brooksyne will take her for blood work and work closely with the Anticoagulation clinic in adapting her warfarin dosage in accordance to the results of her INR readout.
Finally today a word to widows and widowers: We are mindful of several spouses who read our messages who have lost a spouse in recent years, some just in the past year. As painful as your loss was (and is) you can be blessed today just knowing your love in words and actions was an enduring love that was of such comfort and blessing to your spouse in the greatest battle he or she dealt with on this side of eternity. Being there and doing for your spouse what only a loving partner can do during one’s transition into eternity is the highest calling of a marriage partner. May the Lord speak tenderly to your heart today and reassure you with these words, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Broken Together”  Video  Casting Crowns  Brooksyne’s Note: This song shows a marriage that went through rough times but in the end it endured. Be sure to watch it to the end! This song reminds me a lot of my parents’ marriage that in the end prevailed. Their love was never more evident than the last six weeks before Daddy died of cancer. Ever since then I’ve thought of the blessing they enjoyed at the end that would not have been possible if they had followed through with the many times they considered separation or divorce.
“His Mercy Is More”  Video  Matt Boswell and Boyce College Choir

“He Who Began a Good Work in You” from Philippians 1:6 Video  Steve Green

Finally today:
Tommy with Kleen-Rite Valentine's Day carnationsTommy is passing out carnations to all the ladies at Kleen-Rite today. In January last year Tommy’s father died after working for Kleen-Rite for 35 years as their senior technician known for his expertise and dedication. Before his death on Valentine’s Day every year he personally delivered a red carnation to each female employee. This is the second Valentine’s Day that Tommy has taken his father’s place and honored the women in this way. It is even more touching now since it reminds the employees of their friend, Tom, who was very much a part of their lives at Kleen-Rite and it is also a reminder that Toms son, Tommy, is a kind gentleman just like his dad.