First snow 11/15/18Yesterday we shared a photo of our first seasonal snow as it was starting in the morning. Here’s a photo in late afternoon after the snow stopped and the wind blew snow off the trees. We ended up getting about 6 or more inches and it has sure caused traffic accidents and evening cancellations including an event we were to attend last night.
“Assumptions Can Be Wrong”
Message summary: We can make a lot of assumptions in life and sometimes they make sense based on the information we have at our disposal. If we don’t seek further clarification there’s a tendency to invest in those assumptions which can blind us to real facts once they are revealed.

Listen to our message on your audio player.
“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Photo of Roxie ready for ministryWe got our dog Roxie in early 2005 when she was a pup. The photo to the left shows her preparing to go to an assisted living center as a “therapy dog” when she was just a year old. But she’s now 14 and experiencing symptoms related to old age. Though she still enjoys a couple mile walk with Brooksyne she has a hard time climbing stairs and has no interest in playing with Mollie, much to Mollie’s disappointment. Prior to a couple of weeks ago she had never been to the vet under our care except when she was “fixed” as a puppy. We take her to Tractor Supply for her 3 year rabies shot. She’s had a fulfilling life here in the country, including memorable encounters with skunks, electric fences and fox traps.
A couple of weeks ago Brooksyne and Ester took Roxie to the vet due to some medical concerns. Immediately following the vet visit we made a chaplain visit to our nearest company where I met a customer, Jim, who had come in to purchase some supplies. He was a very friendly man and, after I told him I was the company chaplain serving alongside my wife, he enthusiastically expressed his faith in the Lord. Like so many we meet he was not familiar with the concept of a corporate chaplain but expressed his full support toward our role as chaplains.
Jim then inquired about the warehouse supervisor, RoxRoxanne at Kleen-Riteanne (whom he called Roxie) pictured to the right. Over the past year Roxanne has gone through major cancer treatment and then her daughter, Heather, who was a long time employee of the same company, died suddenly in August.*  I had not yet talked to Roxanne that day but told him my wife regularly followed up with her.
After our chaplain visit that afternoon Brooksyne told me about an interesting conversation she had with a nice customer she had met. I’ll let her tell the story:
As I was walking through the large warehouse a customer approached me and said, “So you’re the chaplain!” I was a bit surprised that a complete stranger could pick me out as a chaplain but I responded, “Yes I am.” He then inquired, “How’s Roxie doing?”
It was one thing that he could pick me out as the chaplain, having never met me. But then, how did he know about our dog, Roxie, who was still fresh on my mind since I’d just been to the vet. A little flabbergasted all I could say was, “And how do you know about Roxie?”
He then went on to ask with genuine interest, “I just wondered how Roxie’s doing since her daughter’s death?” Then a bright light came on, and I felt like such an idiot, when I realized he was not inquiring about our dog, Roxie, but Roxanne, whom we never call Roxie! Once I realized who he was talking about our conversation turned to the kind of talk that chaplains often have with employees, and in this case, a customer of the company. BTW, Stephen shared this story with Roxanne, the supervisor, and she chuckled about the confusion in names, also giving us permission to share this story today.
We can make a lot of assumptions in life and sometimes they make sense based on the information we have at our disposal. If we don’t seek further clarification there’s a tendency to invest in those assumptions which can blind us to real facts once they are revealed.

Let’s examine a portion of the Bible when an assumption was made that turned out to be wrong. Today’s Scripture text concerns Samuel’s selection of a king. Initially Samuel was focused on man’s outward appearance and assumed these were the things that mattered to God.

He saw one of Jesse’s sons named Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.” It might have been Eliab’s height or muscular appearance that led Samuel to make the assumption this was the future king.

But he received correction from the Lord. The full verse states, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him (Eliab). The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’.”

We can make a lot of assumptions based on appearance and sometimes we’re correct but other times we stand corrected. Before jumping to conclusions we need to go beyond the outward surface and try to understand a person’s heart. Appearances can be deceiving; true character is shown by one’s life and actions. We need to view people in the same light that God views them, though God sees and knows far more than we as humans can, so His evaluation far surpasses people’s assessments. We often judge people by their appearance and actions, but God knows the very motive and intent of our actions.

A couple of thoughts concerning “Man looks at the outward appearance”:

* Outward appearance can be deceiving; a clean-cut, well-dressed individual on the outside may be altogether different on the inside, and vice-versa!
* Acceptable outward appearance varies by culture and age. Features like facial hair, clothing styles and so forth vary generation by generation. Very few of us dress as those in the Bible times!

Since “the Lord looks at the heart” we also need to direct our attention to the heart of a person. He or she is someone God loves and wants to redeem or someone God has redeemed and may be in the process of transforming. Actually, we are all in that transforming process aren’t we?

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, while the world obsesses about outward appearances such as good looks, muscular bodies or perfect figures Your Word is impassioned with teaching regarding the inner heart; the very character of who we really are that nobody can see except You. Help us to be more concerned about what You see on the inside than what others view from the outside. Peace, joy, love and many other Christian virtues come from within our redeemed spirit which no education, outward adornment, fashion accessory or muscular frame can produce or duplicate. Help us to be slow to judge and quick to pray for those who are different from us and help us to see them and love them as Jesus does. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.

*Heather Leaman worked for Kleen-Rite for 21 years and had major health issues that eventually claimed her life at age 41. She had great enthusiasm for her workplace and has been greatly missed, not only by her family, but also by her co-workers and friends since her untimely death.

On A Lighter Note about false assumptions: We are glad Brooksyne’s initial assumption was quickly clarified regarding her confusion between our dog Roxie and Roxanne when she talked to the customer. What if she would have gone into detail about Roxie’s afflictions; how she was having trouble with her memory, how she wanders out of the yard, the mysterious round lesions on her back and so forth. What if she had said, “It’s getting close to the time we have to consider letting her go!” (Scratch that last statement as Brooksyne gets very upset with me if I ever approach that subject! She quickly reprimands me by saying it’s no teasing matter. She’s right, of course.) Thankfully, Roxie’s situation is treatable and we hope she will soon be back to her normal self as she has been a wonderful pet for the past 14 years!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Brooksyne is looking forward to a special service, which includes the choir, at our church this weekend. It includes a number of songs we enjoy including these two:
“What A Beautiful Name”  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir  What a blessing and glimpse of heaven to watch and hear the multi-racial, multi-ethnic Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir! We attended a service at this church about ten years ago. About twenty-five years ago Brooksyne attended a choral training conference with Carol Cymbala the BTC director.
“Behold Our God”  Video  California Baptist University Choir and Orchestra.  We  enjoy the new emphasis of using joyful expression when you sing! For those who don’t sing solo, in a choir, or choral arrangement may not realize just how hard it is to smile while singing! It takes a good choir director to get all the choir members on board for such a presentation.
Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 22).

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it’s read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here’s an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns”
(printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

We appreciate listening to and singing the Thanksgiving hymns and songs.
“In Everything Give Thanks”  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

“Now Thank We All Our God”  Video  Best Loved Hymns

“Come Ye Thankful People Come”  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

“Thanksgiving Medley” (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

“Thank You Lord”  Video  Community Choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

“I Want To Thank You”  Video  Karen Peck and New River This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives in big and small ways. It also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

“Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns”  Video  Travis Cottrell

“Thank You, Lord”  Video  Dennis Jernigan

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  Video  Matt Redman


“God Is Big Enough!”

November 15, 2018

Evergreen Lake, Colorado

Here’s another photo from Brooksyne’s trip to Colorado last week. She saw lots of snow in the mountains. We have our first seasonal snow forecast today with the first light snowflakes we have seen this season! But just 1-3 inches are forecast at this time.
Click on photo to enlarge
“God Is Big Enough!”
Message summary: Based upon our limited perspective and understanding we may tend to apply our notion of “bigness” to God.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” (Isaiah 40:12).
I am aware that one must be careful about sharing personal information or data on the web but with her permission I will go ahead and share that Brooksyne is just short of 1,700,000,000 nanometers tall. Now unless you find a nifty online conversion widget to convert this measurement it will seem like goobly goop to you. In fact I don’t think I ever heard of a nanometer till we visited the Intel Museum last month in Santa Clara, CA. It is a measurement used for extremely tiny objects like computer chips. A nanometer is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a meter.
Brooksyne at Intel headquartersBrooksyne couldn’t remember my taking this picture and when she saw it she thought that the fab tech was me dressed up in the clean suit! In fact she told me I looked pretty good; ten years younger and somewhat thinner too!
Appraising size, whether something is big or little, is relative. After all, we would all be very large standing next to an ant but very small next to a whale.
Based upon our limited perspective and understanding we may tend to apply our notion of bigness to God. An old gospel song we enjoy is “How Big Is God?” Let’s also consider the song, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” which may very well be based on the daily verse.
Isaiah 40 is one of the most majestic chapters in the entire Bible and in all English literature for that matter.

Grasping God's ImmensityToday’s text asks four questions that illustrate the awesome greatness and almightiness of God. Let’s just consider the first question, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand?” Now I’ve got a pretty big hand and I tried to see how much water I could place in the hollow of my hand. As hard as I tried I was unable to hold a Tablespoon measurement!

But Isaiah says our great God “measured the waters in the hollow of His hand”. I have no idea how anybody can begin to figure this out but I calculated, if my math is anywhere near correct, that’s about 346,250,000,000,000,000 gallons. It might be easier for us to mentally calculate those 18 digits in the vast number I just wrote by realizing that 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water.

However that’s nothing compared to the next statement concerning God’s immensity. “With the breadth of His hand [He] marked off the heavens.

Now of course neither Isaiah nor I are asserting that God is a physical being. But as Isaiah made this imaginative visual picture we are much more likely to consider the immensity and greatness of our God. This is the mighty, awe-inspiring, supernatural God we serve!

In the verse immediately before, Isaiah launches into these declarations of God’s greatness when he states that, “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young” (v. 11).

That’s the greatness of our God! He is immense, beyond measure, as far as one galaxy is from another.  Inaccessible to our view, and yet tenderly accessible to our soul 24/7/365 (as we reckon time) since His Spirit dwells within the heart of the believer. Let us stay faithful to Him today.

How big is God! How big and wide His vast domain,
To try to tell these lips can only start,
He’s big enough to rule His mighty universe,
Yet small enough to live within my heart.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is commonly tempting to understand You in human terms and measure your worth such as Isaiah prolifically depicts in his prophetic letter. When he describes the means by which we, Your created ones go about measuring, one’s ability falls enormously short of what You, in Your divine nature, have done, what You can do and what You will do. We are unable to understand or appreciate all that You do because we are the finite created ones and You are the infinite Creator. There is nothing and no one who can compare with You. You are the most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious, Your great name we praise! Amen.

Kleen-Rite car wash show car 11/14/18Yesterday we visited the employees at Kleen-Rite for a special car wash show with vendors from various companies who sell supplies and many car wash owners. This is a good demonstration of a clean, well-detailed antique car!
Mount Pleasant Operation Shoebox truck
Many churches are participating in the Operation Christmas Child shoe box outreach.
Mount Pleasant packed this old truck for a very colorful delivery to the regional collection center!
First snow 11/15/18
Our first snow of the season!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Big Enough”  Video  Joseph Habedank
“How Big Is God?”  Video  John Hall  We recall Big John Hall (as he was known back then) coming to sing at our Bible College in the mid-seventies.
How big is God! How big and wide His vast domain,
To try to tell these lips can only start,
He’s big enough to rule His mighty universe,
Yet small enough to live within the heart.

“Bigger Than Any Mountain”  Video  Homecoming Singers

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”  Video  Calvary Church Choir
“How Great Is Our God”  Video  Chris Tomlin
“I Got Saved”  Video  Corey Voss
What a blessing to hear Alexander Scourby read this chapter in the King James Version (Listen here)
Yesterday’s aerial photo was over Baltimore’s Inner Harbor!
Finally today:

Dr Joe at Kleen-Rite car wash show car 11/14/18 Doctor Joe – We met some interesting people at the Kleen-Rite Car Wash show yesterday including Doctor Joe, who is a “towel doctor”, lab coat and all! It’s not every day you get to meet people like Joe who has such an impressive degree! This was our second time to visit with Joe, and you can see by his happy smile, he exhibits a joyful disposition as we converse together.
Autumn colors 11/1/18
We enjoy the short but beautiful peak of Autumn season in our area.
Many of our trees have already dropped their leaves.
“When All Our Problems Will Be Over”
Message summary: Having problems should not surprise us. We will have to wait for our future home to live problem free!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2).
Kleen-Rite warehouseLast Friday we walked through a large warehouse (google map view) visiting the employees at Kleen-Rite, a wholesale company that distributes car wash supplies using the puller/packer system. The puller goes through the warehouse pulling orders while the packer packs and prepares them for shipment.
Steve, the warehouse manager, was walking down the packer line and working on each packer’s computer. As Brooksyne and I were visiting with one of the packers we overheard him say to her, “That should be it, now just reboot and that should solve all your problems.” He looked up at us and smiled, clarifying, “Well, not all your problems, just the ones having to do with the computer!”
RebootThat got me thinking, wouldn’t it be great if there was a solution to all our problems that was as easy as rebooting a computer? If we had a life reboot button we could press and voilà, all our problems would disappear. But you’ve surely learned by now life just doesn’t work that way.
We had problems before we became a Christian; we still have problems as young Christians and we will have problems through all the stages of our Christ-like development till the Lord calls us home! If you don’t have any problems I have a world to share with you! After all we are called to bear one another’s burdens (problems). That’s the nature of our work as chaplains and we hear plenty of other’s problems. For several years we worked for a company called Marketplace Chaplains founded by Gil Stricklin, who would say in his distinctive Texas drawl, “Everyone’s either had a problem, has a problem or is gonna have a problem”.
That’s been our experience in life although not as many or severe as some. In 2002 I (Stephen) had a lengthy intestinal problem that lasted over a year resulting in four major surgeries. When people would inquire about my ongoing health I responded, “We don’t pick our problems and we don’t schedule them”. I’ve said that repeatedly about other matters since that challenging year because I learned some life lessons from that difficult experience.
Having problems should not surprise us. Jesus said to His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble (problems)” (John 16:33). Paul’s apostolic message to an early church is summed up with these words, “We must go through many hardships (problems) to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (problems)” (James 1:2).
We will have to wait for our future home to live problem free. In that place we read, “He (God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
In the meantime may you experience the assurance Paul had when he dealt with an ongoing chronic problem. He had prayed about it repeatedly, but after what appeared to be much wrestling with God over the troubling circumstance, the Lord’s final say on the matter settled his heart, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, when times are tough, if we fully rely on You, we find that You are enough to get us through that which would otherwise overwhelm us.  You are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains be cast into the sea. You are Creator of the universe, creator of our human existence and You are in control of all that concerns us. We trust You for that which distresses us including those whom You have placed in our care. We must go through many hardships to enter Your kingdom, but You go before us, prepare the way and sustain us during the journey. Help us to plod on and pray every step of the way. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Psalm 46:1

Beehive oven on stone farmhouseOur friend Jesse at the Old Windmill Farm is repointing the stone on their old colonial era farmhouse built in the 1700’s. It had been covered with plaster and, upon removing the plaster, Jesse found this under the plaster, a beehive oven.
Beehive oven on stone farmhouse
If you are curious you can click on the above photo for a larger view and see where the beehive oven is on the stone wall to the left of the tree trunk.
Fire bush 11/7/18
Among our favorite fall plants is the Fire Bush, which for several weeks really brightens the landscape.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“When He Carries Me Away”  Video  Collingsworth Family An outstanding message in this song!

When He calls me to that land of no tomorrow
Where grief and tears are gone without a trace
I’ll lay down all my trouble, cares, and sorrow
And I’ll carry them no more
When He carries me away
“When times are tough, Jesus is enough” -As we prepared today’s message we consider those we had opportunity to minister to during our chaplain visits Tuesday as well as a speaking opportunity Brooksyne had with a “Neighbors Caring & Sharing” group of women yesterday morning. There are so many troubling matters people are facing. On a national level we think of the devastating fires in California.
After our visits yesterday morning Brooksyne called a Vietnamese immigrant whose husband died last week. After talking to her for a few minutes she offered to pray with her over the phone. Brooksyne wasn’t sure that she would be comfortable praying over the phone with her, but the grieving widow agreed to it, adding, “Wait just a minute. I want to go downstairs to be with my husband first.” Brooksyne was a bit confused so she gently asked her, “Was your husband cremated?” “Yes”, she replied adding that she wanted to be by her husband when Brooksyne prayed for her. He had been an invalid for many years so, as his wife and caregiver, it will be quite an adjustment for her.
“No More Night”  Video  David Phelps
“His Grace Is Sufficient”  Video  Booth Brothers
“Forever Home”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance
“Yours (Glory and Praise)”  Video  Calvary Church worship team. Calvary Church has been in a series for a year titled, “The One Story” covering the story of the Bible from Creation to Eternity. Sunday’s message which follows this song on the video was outstanding. The series will conclude this coming Lord’s Day and Brooksyne is really excited about the music selected for the choir, which includes this song “Is He Worthy?” Andrew Peterson Video
“As It Is In Heaven”  Video  Corey Voss A powerful song about heaven!
Finally today:

________________ from the airCan anyone identify where this photo was taken?
Click on photo to enlarge
Share your answer here if you can identify where we were.

“The Blessing Of A Smile”

November 13, 2018

Longwood Gardens 11/11/18

Another view of the featured 1000 bloom Chrysanthemum shown yesterday from the other end of the conservatory pool.
Click on photo to enlarge
“The Blessing Of A Smile”
Message summary: It can be a gloomy world with so much distressing news and for those going through hard times. What a blessing we can be to one another when our facial expressions are accentuated with a smile. Truth is, we’d much rather be surrounded by those who frequently smile, than those who rarely see anything to smile about!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Men listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners” (Job 29:21-25).


Smiley face on barn

Many years ago we passed a barn seen in the photo to the left here in Lancaster County that had a huge smiley face painted on it. It always prompted a smile. I tried to find it in recent years but wonder if the owner painted over it.

A sign in front of a farm house proclaims: “A smile is a curve that straightens everything out.” Well, a smile is a curve and although it doesn’t necessarily straighten everything out, it sure does brighten your countenance, improve your appearance and positively affect your outlook!
A smile is one of the blessings of humanity. We look for and rejoice in that first smile in an infant and all through life we appreciate smiling people. We even tend to impose the expression on animals such as a dolphin or a baby doll sheep, which gives the appearance of a smile.
Baby doll lamb on Old Windmill FarmThis “Baby Doll” Southdown lamb on the Old Windmill Farm appears to be smiling up at Brooksyne as she took this photo!
We both had a discussion last week with a man whose son has autism. He shared how he is on a new drug therapy that is showing promise and shared of the blessing he and his wife experienced as they saw their son smile and make eye contact, two easily taken for granted blessings.
I recall a time when I was out on a cold, blustery, rainy day and ducked into a small office area for a brief escape from the hostile weather. I was confident that I’d receive a warm, cheery smile from the receptionist and I was not disappointed!  She not only smiles with her lips, but her eyes exude genuine warmth that accompanies her smile.  A courteous or obligatory smile is not always reflected in the eyes, but a smile that wells up from the heart can be seen through the eyes as well as the lips.

What a blessing to be around smiling people.  We can think of many people all though life who have blessed us with their smile. Do you recall this chorus sung many years ago:

Smile awhile and give your face a rest
Raise your hand to the One who loves you best
Then shake hands with those nearby
And give to them a smile.

Interestingly the Bible doesn’t have a lot of references to smiling. But today’s portion is one of them. It’s kind of hard to read this without smiling! Job is sharing his personal testimony while he is in the midst of his suffering. In this discourse he considers the blessing he had been to others prior to his trial, “in months gone by” (Job 29:1).

Now I would have a hard time saying this about myself but notice Job’s words as he reflected on how life had been, “When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them”. That’s sure quite a description of the influence of a smile isn’t it?

Consider an individual you personally know who has a great smile. It affects the entire face as though it were bringing light to a dismal setting.  Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that a smile isn’t just confined to the lower part of the face, but it almost always brings sparkle and light to the eyes.

Consider these words as you receive smiles today and as you share yours with others. Smiles are much less frequent these days with so many playing or tending to their cell phones whether they’re walking on a sidewalk, buried in their phones during a work break or in the lunch room, grocery line, etc.

It can be a gloomy world with so much distressing news and for those going through hard times. What a blessing we can be to one another when our facial expressions are accentuated with a smile. Truth is, we’d much rather be surrounded by those who frequently smile, than those who rarely see anything to smile about!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I consider the words of Nehemiah who wrote, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” and Solomon who reminds us that “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Both verses speak about matters of the heart where we store up Your love, joy and goodness. Help us not to rely solely on external stimulus to bring forth a smile, but let our smiles be contagious as they are evidence of Your abundance within in our lives. Help us to find a person today who has no smile so that we can pass ours onto her or him. May we be purposeful in making eye contact with others so they realize we value them as you would want us to. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Today we share more photos from our visit Sunday afternoon to Longwood Gardens with our friend Jerry Smoker for the annual Chrysanthemum Festival.
Longwood Gardens Bonzai tree 11/11/18

This Bonzai tree at Longwood Gardens was started in 1909!
Click to enlarge
Longwood Gardens Bonzai grove11/11/18
A Bonzai tree grove that has already dropped its leaves.
Click on photo to enlarge
Longwood Gardens mum replacements 11/11/18
We were admiring this colorful assortment of mums when Jerry explained they were actually stored for replacements for any mums that were spent or damaged as the festival progressed.
Click on photo to enlarge
Longwood Gardens mum close-up photo by Ester 11/11/18
Longwood Gardens mum close-up photo by Ester
Longwood Gardens organ 11/11/18
The huge Longwood organ even has a grand piano built into it. We went to an organ recital that many enjoyed, but admittedly there were times when I dozed off for a bit.
Click on photo to enlarge
Longwood Gardens whisper bench 11/11/18
The whisper bench somehow amplifies sound based on the curved design and you can hear a whisper from each end. I checked and either it works or Jerry can read lips very well or is spiritually intuitive. I very softly quoted John 3:16 and he could hear me!
Longwood Gardens fountain 11/11/18
The Longwood Gardens main fountain is closed for the season but is an amazing spectacle.
Click to enlarge
(See this video or here for background video)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Smile A While”  Video  Rochelle Hanson
“Yours (Glory and Praise)”  Video  This is a song that has been blessing us as we sing it at church.
Finally today:

Rutts eggs 11/10/18

Our neighbors, Leon and Jane, have been gone the last several days visiting their son and family in Missouri so they asked us to gather the eggs laid by their hens. It was a very cold and windy day on Saturday when Brooksyne gathered these 11 eggs. There were 11 eggs this morning as well. Perhaps these hens need to learn that egg cartons hold a dozen eggs, not just 11.
Longwood Gardens 1000 bloom Chrysanthemum 11/11/18 (Click to enlarge)
The magnificent Longwood Gardens 1000 bloom Chrysanthemum is the premier attraction at the annual Chrysanthemum Festival
Click to enlarge
“The Blessing Of Spiritual Veterans”
Message summary: Let us indeed remember our leaders, the spiritual veterans of faith, who spoke the Word of God to us. Let us consider the outcome of their way of life and let us imitate their faith. They are a blessing!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).

Today we commemorate Veteran’s Day here in the United States, a day in which we properly remember veterans and honor their service for our temporal freedoms. Many veterans read these messages including several we know personally and we have other readers who are in active service. We thank you for your sacrificial service to our country. My dad, Eugene C. Weber, was a World War 2 veteran and trained as a pilot. Brooksyne’s father, Brooklyn Sherrell, served in the Army during the Korean War.

Veterans have been around as long as wars have been fought going back to the very first recorded war in the Bible in Genesis 14.

Grover DevaultToday we focus this encouragement message on spiritual veterans, those who enlisted in service for the Lord on their day of salvation and who have been in the good fight of faith for many years. Yesterday in church I visited for a few minutes with Grover Devault, a retired career army chaplain and long-time servant of the Lord. Now in his late eighties he remains on duty. We also sat with our very good friends, Jim and Dorothy Schmidt in church. Jim dutifully served in the navy.

Many spiritual veterans have fought the enemy valiantly who have received their eternal reward and joined with others in the great cloud of witnesses. And yet there are those who remain on this side in their senior years of life. They have faithfully served God in their generation and, even as they endure the pain and complications of aging, they faithfully await the Master’s call home and continue to serve Him, offering their life’s example, wisdom and prayers to succeeding generations including those who increasingly seem to have little interest in it. (See Job 12:12)

Today’s message is based on a passage in Hebrews 13. It does not specifically address veterans as we use the term today but has a very needed lesson. Let me try to squeeze some juice out of our daily verse and outline it in three parts:

1) “Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you.” Without a doubt the Apostle is speaking of spiritual leaders. Certainly not political leaders! They are the ones “who spoke the Word of God to you.” Among all the qualities we may value in our spiritual leaders: administrative skills, compassionate care, vision casting and so forth, the writer of Hebrews singularly highlights the spiritual leader’s major duty as one, “who spoke the Word of God to you.” This is consistent with Paul’s challenge to Timothy, “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2).

What a blessing to honor those who have been faithful in preaching the Word of God which enables us to understand and assimilate Scriptural teaching into our lives. Hopefully, for most the face and name of a pastor(s) comes readily to mind when you recall a spiritual leader who spoke the Word of God to you. We consider Pastor John Keefer, Pastor Beau Eckert and many others. But the application surely also applies to a godly parent or close relative, a Sunday School teacher or other church leader. For some it will be a camp counselor, a youth leader or another individual along life’s journey who has impacted your life for Christ.

2) “Consider the outcome of their way of life.” The Amplified Bible elaborates here that we are to, “Observe attentively and consider their manner of living.” I am so thankful for those whose lives I have personally observed as I witnessed the transforming change Christ makes. In some cases we observe the outcome in the sense of those who now reside in heaven after a life of faithful service to the Lord. In other cases they are still living on this side and we can consider the present outcome of their way of life as they demonstrate a steady, mature and disciplined life. The leaders whom our text refers to were real people who were known personally by those whom they served.

3) Finally we are called to “imitate their faith.” The word for “imitate” is a Greek word from which we get “mimic”. For those of us in spiritual leadership this is an awesome call and ongoing responsibility. In his pastoral epistles Paul addressed this. To Timothy: “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). To Titus: “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:7,8).

Today, let us indeed remember our leaders, the spiritual veterans of faith, who spoke the Word of God to us. Let us consider the outcome of their way of life and let us imitate their faith. They are a blessing!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are grateful for the men and women who are willing to lay down their lives to protect our freedoms here in the United States. We are indebted to them for their daily sacrifice and we pray for their safekeeping, including godly chaplains who serve as spiritual leaders among them. We also consider our many spiritual warriors who have taken on added responsibility and assumed difficult duties leading us, as believers, to victory in this war against sin and strife, as we steadily march in the army of the Lord. Bless these who have poured themselves into our lives and set for us an example to follow; in their conversation, their lifestyle, their faith, their doctrine and in their purity. We honor and bless the previous generation who passed onto us the Living Water and Bread of Life. We now extend the same message to our present generation, for with our mouths we make known Your faithfulness to all generations. Amen.

Yesterday afternoon following our church service we went down to Longwood Gardens with our friend Jerry Smoker for the annual Chrysanthemum Festival.
Longwood Gardens 1000 bloom Chrysanthemum sign 11/11/18This sign explains how they grow the 1000 bloom Chrysanthemum.
Longwood Gardens 1000 bloom Chrysanthemum interior cutout 11/11/18 (Click to enlarge)
This half-dome form allows you to see what is inside a traditional Thousand Bloom chrysanthemum. It showcases the single stem, complex metal framework, and the labor-intensive tying technique that makes this form so spectacular.

Longwood Gardens Conservatory 11/11/18 (Click to enlarge)
We spent most of our time in the huge Longwood Gardens Conservatory since that is where the Chrysanthemum Festival was on display.
Click to enlarge
Longwood Gardens Conservatory 11/11/18
Interior view of a long hall in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory. The sheen on the floor is not polish but a thin coat of water.
Click to enlarge
"A Child's Wonder" Longwood Gardens Conservatory 11/11/18
When Brooksyne snapped this photo we thought it looked like a little girl saying to her mother, “Look, Mommy” as she marveled at God’s vast array of flowers within His creation.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Soldier Fighting to Go Home”  Video  Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
“Preach the Word”  Video  Gold City
“Present in the Presence of the King”  Video  The Guardians
“I Want My Stage to be an Altar”   Video  The Akins
Longwood Gardens The annual Chrysanthemum Festival lasts through next Sunday.

Finally today:

Martin at Kleen-Rite 11/9/18Martin is a friendly man from the Dominican Republic. We see him hard at work weekly at Kleen-Rite, a company that distributes car wash supplies.

Finally today 2:
We recently got an Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation) free as part of a promotion. It’s a nifty little device and very polite. This morning I had a question come to me from another user and had a little fun:
Question: Does it work in Chile?
My answer: Ours works great and we have one in our barn that still reaches our Wi-Fi but I wouldn’t put it into anything with liquid, especially if it’s hot like chile.
Note: I know the food is actually spelled chili!

“Passions Forge Fetters”

November 9, 2018

Lancaster Costco parking lot
Our Lancaster Costco parking lot looks nice on a bright fall day.
Click to enlarge
“Passions Forge Fetters”
Message summary: We can see the awful consequences of those whose “passions forge their fetters”.

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“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28). “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

Don't Drink and Drive!For many years now it’s common to see makeshift roadside memorials for those who have died in a traffic accident. For the last several weeks traveling north out of Lancaster on Rt. 222, the main four lane highway to Philadelphia, we have been passing this sign beside a roadside memorial with an unmistakable message, “Don’t Drink and Drive!”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to interpret this message to figure out what happened. We wonder what impact this is having on the thousands who pass it every day and consider what effect if such a sign were required wherever a DUI related fatality occurred. This is one image you will never see on the flashy ads for booze with attractive young people just going out for a good time, any more than you would see an emaciated, dying cancer patient in a tobacco ad.
One of the most common discussions we have in the course of our chaplaincy work is addictions, whether personal addictions or those of a family member. Just yesterday I spoke to a man who is dealing with emphysema due to a longstanding tobacco addiction. Another whose son has had a continual battle with opioid addiction. Then a follow-up with a woman and good report about her mate who is overcoming alcoholism and thankfully staying on course away from the poison. One of the best voice mails I ever received was a call from him thanking me for helping him in this matter.

There’s an old chorus from our Bible School days that speaks of the fetters (chains) that keep us bound in our life of sin. The word, “fetter” is a word not used often these days but it is used in various hymns describing the wonderful freedom that Christ brings.

Jesus breaks every fetter,
Jesus breaks every fetter,
Jesus breaks every fetter,
And He sets me free!

Some 250 years ago British statesman Edmund Burke wrote,

“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there is without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

You might need to read the above quote several times to more fully grasp the message that Burke conveys. Clearly, one of the great virtues lacking in our day is that of self-control. As Burke observed we can see the awful consequences for those whose “passions forge their fetters”. The moral chains on our own appetites (self-control) are disregarded in the heat of passion. Actions are justified and consequences forgotten until they’re unavoidable.

But today we want to challenge those who have been set free from sin through salvation in Christ.

Today’s second verse is a powerful reminder of how exercising self-control is a major responsibility of the believer, since “we belong to the day”. Earlier in the chapter Paul contrasted the day with the night and darkness (v. 5). As God’s children we now live in the light of God’s truth and His revelation. We no longer reside in the domain of darkness where evil presides.

“Let us be self-controlled.” We are called to live self-controlled lives. Self-control is the ninth and final “Fruit of the Spirit” listed in Galatians 5:22,23 and is one of the most deficient virtues found in the lives of believers in this present generation. We can easily fall into a lax state of practicing self-control and thus the call to self-control is repeated all through the New Testament.

I am aware in my own life of the need to keep this discipline ever before me. In our hearts we can all likely identify areas where we lack self-control. It may be in our eating, use of our time, finances, spiritual disciplines, our temperament or in a host of other areas. Some struggle to overcome destructive habits while others may need to apply self-control in their attitudes toward anger, worry, jealousy, or any other form of ungodly attitudes or behavior.

Take some time to reflect on those things in your life that have become fetters. Where do you need to exercise self-control? Remember, passions forge fetters.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as children of the light, we no longer desire the attitudes or behavior we practiced when living in ignorance where darkness reigns. After dying to self You took up residence and equipped us with the necessary tools to battle our struggle against sin. Help us to throw off everything that hinders, entangles, or identifies us with the enemy. Your discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in Your holiness. Self-control is a difficult exercise since it requires self-denial, restraint and full surrender to You. The reward follows as we enjoy a wonderful harvest of right living. Not only will it benefit us personally, but it will result in a testimony of thanksgiving to You, make us more like Christ and be an example to those we seek to influence. We ask Your help in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Amish wedding traffic 11/8/18During November it is the custom for the Amish to have weddings on Thursdays resulting in even more Amish traffic than usual. At our first company this morning one of the salesmen said he got behind what seemed like 40 buggies or so as they were making their way to an Amish wedding.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Jesus Breaks Every Fetter”  Video  Vestal Goodman

“Chain Breaker”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band Observant readers may recall we suggested this song last week but it just fits again so well for this message!
“Jesus Saves”  Video  Travis Cottrell
Finally today:

Smucker laser workersWe see a lot of interesting sights in the course of our chaplaincy visits.
In this photo Derek and Nick are positioning a vacuum lift that will transfer a 2,000 pound sheet of 1 inch steel onto a laser cutting machine at Smucker Laser.
Tractor and wagon 11/7/18 (Click to enlarge)Brooksyne passed this farm view yesterday. It looks like all the large pumpkins are now gone leaving only the ornamental ones to pick from.
Jesus Knows Me This I Love”
Message summary: Thank God today I can declare, “Jesus Knows Me This I Love”. And so can each of you!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! (Isaiah 43:1). “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).

Jesus loves me! this I know, for the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.
We serve as chaplains at Audrey’s, a wholesale distributor of gift and home decor items, as many of our readers probably remember from previous posts. Tuesday morning during my visit, while Brooksyne was on her way back from Colorado, I saw a plaque that caught my attention. It is based on the words of “Jesus Loves Me”, a song most all of us know well and have sung since we were children. Although it is considered a children’s song it really conveys a message for all ages.

Jesus Knows Me

However, as I read the plaque the words were wrong, or so I initially thought. Instead of “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” it has “Jesus Knows Me This I Love”. But after musing on the statement I realized it wasn’t a mistake but a creative way to express a wonderful, reassuring truth.

Our first daily verse is a word from God specifically to the prophet Jeremiah but it’s a truth in which we can find great assurance.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5).
“I formed you in the womb.” It was God who formed us in our mother’s womb. Of course I am not discounting biological reality either for Jeremiah or anyone else but we realize Scripturally that God has a major role in forming us from the moment of our conception. This is a powerful truth to consider in light of abortion “rights”.  Children who are formed by God are terminated while still developing in their womb.
“I knew you.” What a blessing that God knows us! God knew us “before” He formed us. That is incomprehensible but based on the divine attribute of omniscience it is entirely logical. As David said in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.”
No Name, ColoradoDriving along I-70 through Colorado last Friday Brooksyne passed an interesting road sign identifying a small town called “No Name”. You would think they could come up with something better than that!
Aren’t you glad you have a name? Sometimes parents name their children before they are born, other times at birth. Can you imagine the indignity of having parents too lazy or uninterested in giving their child a name?
Those of us blessed to come from families with committed, loving parents can hardly imagine this. Although in our case both sets of our parents have been with the Lord for many years, as we reflect on our remembrances of them, we both miss hearing their distinct voice calling us by the name they chose for us.
Yet the vast majority of children murdered through abortion are not named.
Matthew Habiger, well-known among pro-life advocates and activists for his work with Human Life International, is enthusiastic about this opportunity to restore human dignity: “When you give a name to an aborted child, then you remove it from the trash heap of oblivion, and restore a token of human dignity to that child. When you do this publicly, then you are helping to reform the values of the current culture. This is a commendable effort, another way to soften hardened attitudes, and to melt frozen hearts.”

But we all, including aborted children, have a loving heavenly Father who knows our name.
He knows us and He knows our name. Note that phrase in our second daily text, “I have called you by name, you are mine”.
I belong to God today and indeed He knows my name! And that’s true for each one of you as well. Today, in the midst of any frustrations, disappointments, rejection, fears, discouragement or doubts you may entertain, I urge you to focus on the One who truly knows your name, who loves and cares for you.
Indeed we can declare: “Jesus knows me, this I love”
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, how special it is to know that I will not appear as a stranger before You in heaven, but You know me and will call me to Yourself by name for You are thoroughly acquainted with me. As a loving father cares for his child so You care for me, Your child bought by the blood of Jesus. You place me securely in the palm of Your hand so that no enemy can snatch me from Your protective and loving care. What a tremendous feeling of stability and peace this brings to my heart in a world that is becoming more impersonal, chaotic, and unhinged from the firm foundations established by Your eternal Word. Of this I am certain; Jesus knows me and this I love! Amen.”

Brooksyne’s Note: I wonder how many of you prefer an individual to call you by, “Hey, you!” or “Hey, buddy”, etc. I like to learn people’s names so that I can greet them by name, though admittedly, as I age I get a lapse of memory of even those people that I’ve known for years. My heart is warmed when someone calls me by name, especially one I’ve recently met. Having a name like Brooksyne (Brook seen’) is very unusual and when I introduce myself I usually take time to explain its origin and give a tip, “Just think of a scene of a brook and turn it around to say “Brook scene”. Forty-two years ago I met a woman in Northern Pennsylvania who told me that’s how she taught herself to remember my name, and I’ve borrowed her clever idea ever since.
I say all that to say this: likely one who calls us by name has taken time to get to know us, first by remembering our name. God, who has created all humankind, knows us by our name and He certainly knows who we are, not only what we present to others but He knows the very intent of our heart and that is the very thing we often hide from others. Yet God knows us by name and He calls us His own; “I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Jesus Loves Me”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“Now I Belong To Jesus”  Video  Billy Speer

“I Know That Jesus Loves Me”  Video  Collingsworth Family  Outstanding, “rediscovered” hymn by Fanny Crosby
“Jesus Loves Me”  Video  Chris Tomlin

No Name, Colorado is located here on Google maps
Finally today:

Emilio, Val-Co 11/1/18We see a lot of interesting sights in the course of our chaplaincy visits.
In this photo Emilio is making parts for the Val-Co company.
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