Stony Valley rail grade 10/15/17
Stony Valley rail grade in rural Dauphin and Lebanon Counties PA
(photo taken from the open sliding door of our van)

“The Peril Of Being Led Astray”

Message summary: Be on your guard lest the peril of being led astray overtake you.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray” (Galatians 2:13). “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (2 Timothy 1:14).

Yesterday we took an interesting driving tour along an old railroad grade about 30 miles north of us through Dauphin and Lebanon Counties. The Stony Valley railroad was developed in the mid 1800’s and abandoned during the Great Depression. It is now a very remote rail trail through state gameland designated for biking and hiking. The trail passes abandoned towns and other interesting features. Last spring we took a bike ride on the trail and shared several photos (here).

Once a year, which happened to fall on October 15 this year, the trail is open to vehicle traffic which provides a rather interesting experience. Once we entered from the west end we rode the trail over a 17 mile section making it virtually impossible to go astray. Though there were a few rugged logging type roads leading off the trail, to use spiritual imagery from the Bible, “the path was marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

But in life’s spiritual journey, even with the path marked out before us, it can still be a perilous journey, and one can easily be led astray. Paul gives this warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”

When I read the Apostle Paul’s words of warning, I’m reminded of how easily one’s life course can get off the path if negligence, wrong influences, or poor choices are made concerning one’s goals in life.

For example I went to Bible College with a student who became a good friend of mine, in part because we were both Bible majors with the goal of becoming a minister of the gospel. Following graduation we went our separate ways and for several years stayed nominally in touch. However he progressively moved away from sound doctrine and godly living and the last I heard he was living in an apostate condition. We reconnected several years ago but from our conversation it was clear that we were not at all on the same page when it came to spiritual matters.

Our first daily verse is set in the context of Paul’s encounter with the Judaizers, a false religious group that insisted on the keeping of ceremonial aspects of the Jewish law as a condition to salvation. The “him” in the verse is the mighty Peter, who had also been affected by this doctrine and at least for a time appeared to have embraced it. But the part of the verse that grips my attention is the phrase, “even Barnabas was led astray”.

Barnabas is among my favorite Bible characters. He first appears in Acts 4:36 as “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus”. But the apostles gave him the nickname Barnabas which means “son of encouragement”.

He was an early encourager to Paul (Saul at the time) and they developed a warm and lasting relationship. Barnabas had stood up for him when nobody believed the persecutor Saul could really be saved. They had gone on a missionary journey together.  They had parted company over a heated argument about a one-time deserter, John Mark. But as we read the Scriptures we see there had been reconciliation.

“The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” There’s something significant about the two word phrase “even Barnabas” which is found in virtually all standard translations (see here). Paul seemed surprised that the Judaizers had influenced Barnabas, even more so than he expressed regarding Peter’s involvement. What lesson might we find in this? Eventually Peter and Barnabas both resisted this error and each went on to have faithful ministry for our Lord. Praise God for that.

But consider that if two of the great leaders of the early church (Peter and Barnabas) could be led astray by error, how on guard we should be. I am astounded at the many false doctrines and practices that are impacting the church in our day. Paul encouraged Timothy to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (2 Timothy 1:14). We need to stay on our toes and be more in the Word than ever before! Be on your guard lest the peril of being led astray overtake you.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we seek to guard the truths and commandments entrusted to us through the Holy Scriptures. We want to be ever cognizant of the peril of being led astray. We don’t want to be swayed by man’s opinions and will not be if we are firmly anchored to the Rock which can’t be moved. We stand firm and strong when we, by conviction of Your Holy Spirit, embrace Your teachings and reject that which conflicts. Help us to be sober and vigilant as our adversary the devil seeks to divide believers and destroy their faith.  By the grace of God we will be strong, stand united, and overcome his attacks. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Study note: Each generation has a responsibility in guarding the good deposit of faith passed on by the preceding generation and in turn passing it on to the succeeding one. That’s at the very heart of what Biblical Christian faith is all about. In fact Paul set forth the pattern to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). In a sense I am both receiving the torch and passing it on simultaneously. As I study the Bible I’m still reaching back and receiving from many believers in past generations who have guarded the good deposit. And I’m passing it on to those in our present generation who will also affect future generations. How about you?


  Scenes From The Stony Valley Rail Grade tour

Stony Valley rail grade brook 10/15/17
Since the rail grade ran along a creek we passed many small mountain brooks trickling down to the creek.

Stony Valley Creek along rail grade 10/15/17
Amish children playing in Stony Valley Creek which we crossed at one point on an old railroad bridge. Yesterday we saw many plain families out enjoying God’s creation. Whenever we walk on trails or explore natural sights in our area on Sunday afternoons we commonly see both Mennonite and less often Amish. Sunday mornings are set apart for worship but also for fellowship with church friends over lunch followed by relaxation and recreation. We saw quite a number of Mennonite youth yesterday.

Stony Valley rail grade traffic 10/15/17
In a few places the traffic bunched up but for the most part a natural view was visible. Of course there was no passing so we just followed the traffic flow. The trail was open from 9:00-3:00 so it appears a lot of people took it including some who have already contacted us. It took us about 2 hours to drive the 17 mile trail.

Stony Valley rail grade traffic 10/15/17
Ester is showing off her photographic skill by taking this photo outside our open sliding van door. We made much of the trip with both of these doors open for the natural feel since our speed was minimal.

Stony Valley Creek Appalachain Trail crossing 10/15/17
At times the rail grade crossed the Appalachian Trail, one in which you can be led astray.

Family at Stony Valley rail grade 10/15/17
Driving the Stony Creek bike trail was a fun Sunday afternoon family activity.
The rail grade portion we were on yesterday runs from Ellendale Forge to Goldmine Road.
(See here on Google map)
BTW: Who can figure out how Google works and what this means to privacy. This morning I looked up this trail on Google map and it informed me “You visited yesterday”. I assume it must have gotten some data off my phone.


Harrisburg church prelude 10/15/17
Yesterday due to the trail tour we visited a church in the Harrisburg area we attended forty years ago for a minister’s conference. We were especially blessed by the prelude by this gospel style pianist and soloist.

Mount Pleasant Zimbabwe work team 9/17
Sunday evening we attended a presentation by our friends who had gone on a mission trip to Zimbabwe last month. This photo is taken in front of Victoria Falls. (Click to enlarge)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Find Us Faithful”  Video

“Preach The Word”  Video  Gold City  A special word to faithful preachers!

“Finish Well”  Video  Karen Peck and New River  An aspiration for us all.

“I Want My Stage To Be An Altar”  Video  The Akins  A very thoughtful song for all.

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

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New Holland Farm 10/12/17 (Click to enlarge)
We always enjoy this farm view near New Holland PA and especially during the fall season with the colorful mums in the foreground. Two wagon loads of mums were for sale at the end of their driveway.
(Click on image for larger view)

“Created And Knit Together”

Message summary: Today, let us marvel at the wonder of life; our conception, prenatal development and birth.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13,14).

My life began as a separate single cell 63 years ago. During the next nine months, as I grew in my mother’s womb, nothing new was added but oxygen and nutrition. My entire genetic makeup was contained in that single cell. Thankfully for me, and my parents who loved me, this process was not interrupted and after nine months of being “knit together in my mother’s womb” I was born on October 14, 1954. I never existed before and there will never be another me, contrary to what false religions might teach about reincarnation.

The initial fertilized cell from whence we all developed only weighed around .0000000015 pounds. But by the time we are born this one single cell became two hundred million cells and at birth we weigh some six billion times more than the fertilized egg. If this rate of growth had continued by my first birthday I would have weighed 72,000,000,000 pounds! (That would have been an extremely “heavy” burden for my Mom.)  If I’d continued to grow at this rate, one thing would be for sure, most people on earth would have heard of me by now.

When David wrote Psalm 139 some 3,000 years ago he had little knowledge of modern science but did have the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in declaring a statement modern science recognizes. But what he does write is accurate scientifically and medically. “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

May our response, like his, be “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful.”

“I know that full well” What a blessing to know our origins! Today, let us marvel at the wonder of life; our conception, prenatal development and birth.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are amazed at Your creative process and marvel at the beauty of life. You knit us together in our mother’s womb and provided everything we have need of before our birth and have done so as well all the years following our birth. You will do so until You call us home and there we will lack for nothing as we receive our inheritance which can never perish, spoil or fade. Thank You for giving us life and providing for all our needs; physical, material, relational, and spiritual. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Some photos along our journey yesterday

Display at New Holland Farm Equipment 10/12/17 (Click to enlarge)
New Holland Farm Equipment has a nice fall display in front of their headquarters.
(Click on image for larger view)

Martindale, PA pumpkin patch 10/12/17
Pumpkin patches sure add color to the countryside.

Horse-drawn cart near Martindale, PA 10/12/17
We passed this interesting conveyance near Martindale, PA. It’s not often that we see the wheels of non-motorized vehicles with chrome fenders!

Farmer Jesse sent me a few new photos from the Old Windmill Farm:

Old Windmill Farm horse-drawn hayride 10/10/17
Jesse offers a genuine horse-drawn hayride to guests on the Old Windmill Farm.
(Click on image for larger view)

Calves on the Old Windmill Farm 10/10/17
These calves on the Old Windmill Farm are likely anticipating a bottle feeding!
(Click on image for larger view)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”  Video   Matt Redman

“You Knit Me Together”  Video  Steve Green  A children’s song with a good message!

“You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”  An amazing video teaching by Louie Giglio

Here’s an interesting website dealing with the chronology of a new life.

This Sunday afternoon we expect to take the popular once a year Stony Valley rail grade driving tour. Some mid-state PA readers with some adventure may want to look into this.

Brooksyne will be singing with the Calvary Church choir at the Gaither Homecoming Christmas program at the Santander Arena in Reading PA on Saturday, December 9! One of the six songs they will sing, in backing up the Vocal Band, is one of our favorite recent songs “Chainbreaker” Video  (It’s amazing to watch this and realize that Bill Gaither is now 81!)

Finally today 1:

Joey Cullen
I saw this photo last night on Facebook. What a great blessing to see those you have ministered to staying faithful in ministry. Joey was in the church we served in New England in the 90’s and now is an ordained minister serving in Philadelphia.

Mom and Joey Cullen
As I consider the Lord’s work in Joey’s life I recalled a photo of him and my Mom taken in 2001 when he came down to visit us shortly after we moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. Mom had such a love for people and I have no doubt that she prayed for Joey many times as well as many who were burdened for his family. Joey was saved, delivered and called into ministry where he is being used of God to reach others for Christ.

Finally today 2:

Pierce family 9/16/12
The Pierce family with a creative announcement we found in the Daily Encouragement archives. Ken is holding 2 year old Seth who is wearing an interesting shirt bearing the statement, “I Am a Big Brother!” We initially thought the boys had reversed their shirts since Seth’s older brother, David, is actually the big brother in the photo, but we soon heard “the rest of the story”.

Ken and Nila used Seth’s T-shirt to make the exciting announcement that they were expecting their 3rd child, Bethany, who recently turned 5. We appreciate the scientific and theological preciseness of “I am a big brother”, for indeed he was, from the moment of his little sister’s conception.

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

Lebanon County Road 10/10/17
A winding road in rural Lebanon County PA

“The Hope That Prompts Purity”

Message summary: We are to be transformed into the image of Christ. Our God calls us to a life of purity even as we live in an impure world. Let us indeed cry out today as His children, “Purify My Heart!”

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name” (Psalm 86:11). “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

Brooksyne with 15,000 pound chunk of Anthracite coalJim Thorpe is a small mountain community in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region, the County seat of Carbon County. Several times a year we enjoy going up that way to ride our bikes on the Lehigh Gorge rail trail. In the photo Brooksyne is standing in front of a single chunk of Anthracite coal near the railroad station. It weighs nearly 8 tons which would be enough to heat our home for over two years! The small plaque at the bottom states that this big chunk of coal is black diamond and is 99% pure carbon. A genuine diamond is 100% pure carbon.

God calls us as His children to be pure. “When He (Christ) appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” May God give each of us the kind of hope that the Apostle John is speaking of, for this is the blessed hope of the Christian. The death of a loved one serves to crystallize such hope. The prospect of a glorious reunion with those who have gone before us prompts us to closely examine this type of hope and indeed can make it even more certain in our hearts.

May you find great assurance in the glorious phrase that has brought assurance and comfort to millions throughout the ages: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

This securely founded expectation of total transformation has practical implications now. Those who have this hope “purify” themselves. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” The word for “purify” is derived from the same Greek word from which we get “holy”. Our God is absolutely pure and holy and His children who have the hope of seeing Him will continuously purify themselves. (The Greek is very clear in the tense here).

Jesus Christ is not only the pattern, but also the motivation and means for this purity. Today the world will seek to conform us into its image, so we must be alert and intentional in living our lives separate from the evil influences of the world.

We are to be transformed into the image of Christ. Our God calls us to a life of purity even as we live in an impure world. Let us indeed cry out today as His children, “Purify My Heart!”

An undivided heart, O Lord,
Is what we need each day,
For we are prone to compromise
And wander from Your way.
D De Haan

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, like the Psalmist, I pray that You will teach me Your way and that I will rely on Your faithfulness with an undivided heart. Give me a pure heart that I may fear Your name. When I’m tempted to compromise my faith help me to remember that You want a pure heart, one that is not trying to serve both God and man. I want Your favor more than the approval of others, so help me to stay true to Your principles and reject that which contradicts or lessens the full meaning of Your written truths. In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.


Lebanon County Road 10/10/17
Harvest Road, Lancaster County
One of the interesting features of our rural drives through Lancaster County is you never know what you might see!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Refiner’s Fire”  Video  Brian Doerksen

“Undivided Heart”  Video  Brian Doerksen

“Come Alive (Dry Bones)”  Video  Lauren Daigle

“Single Heart”  Video  Craig Smith

“Pure Heart”  Video  Craig Smith

“Give Me An Undivided Heart”  Teaching on Precept Austin online commentary

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

“Watching Over Souls”

October 11, 2017

Meadow View Road pond 10/10/17 (click to enlarge)
Early yesterday morning we passed one of our favorite Lancaster County scenes, this farm pond along Meadow View Road.
(click to enlarge)

“Watching Over Souls”

Message summary: We are called to witness of our faith in Christ and follow-up on those who are receptive to our message. Whatever type of service we are in for Christ, there is a sense that we are all “watching over souls”.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).

This last Sunday we heard a message by Pastor Mark Canada. His points were lessons he had learned and observed in running a Marathon as a parallel to the great race we are all participating in (Hebrews 12:1). (A link to the audio of Mark’s message is in the resource section below.)

Running the race is a theme I have used throughout my ministry since when I was in High School I was a long distance runner in track and cross country (but never a marathon). Five years ago we wrote a five part series on “Lessons from Life’s Marathon”. (Link below)

In one of his points Mark shared about towers along the route with trained spotters watching for any runners who may be in medical distress or in need of attention. He pointed out how we also need spotters in our race. And for many of us we will also have a spotter function for others as we “watch over souls”.

This month is Clergy Appreciation month. We served for 25 years in pastoral ministry (over 30 years including interim roles). Although Brooksyne did not feel a need to be identified as a “pastor” we nevertheless worked together as a team. We now serve in another form of Christian service (internet ministry and corporate chaplaincy) which finds us sitting out in the pews in a typical worship service so, as a former pastor, I have an interesting perspective on pastoral/lay relations.

Today’s text is speaking of spiritual leaders. “They keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account” (Hebrews 13:17b). The Amplified Version states the phrase as, “they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare.” Although we believe this text is primarily speaking of the ministry of leaders in a local church, it does remind us of the interest we should all have in souls.

The Expositor’s Bible notes concerning this text, “Why is it so needful to continually keep watch over our souls? The Christian has not just one enemy but three incessant, inveterate foes, the world, the flesh, and the devil, each irrevocably, intractably determined to bring harm to our soul.”

Pastor Steven Cole of the Flagstaff Christian Center writes that…

Pastor Steven ColeGodly church leaders help church members by keeping watch over their souls (Hebrews 13:17). The Greek word translated “keeping watch” (agrupneo) means “to keep oneself awake,” and thus, “to keep watch, guard, or care for”.

The image was drawn from shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. Shepherds had to stay alert in order to guard their flocks from predators. They had to know the sheep and observe them carefully enough to know when a sheep was sick or missing. They had to go after the strays and try to restore them to the flock. They had to lead them to pasture and clean water (see Ezekiel 34:1-16).

These tasks require the discernment to know where people are at spiritually and when they are heading toward spiritual danger. Leaders must love God and people enough to have the courage to confront those who are drifting. While you can only lead those who are willing to be led, godly leaders must always make the effort. *

We are called to witness of our faith in Christ and follow-up on those who are receptive to our message. Whatever type of service we are in for Christ, there is a sense that we are all “watching over souls”.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we pray for those who watch over our souls and care for our spiritual needs. May we be a source of blessing to them as we faithfully uplift them in prayer and in our conversation with others. When we find fault increase our desire to pray rather than maliciously gossip to others about our leader. Help us to attend worship services with an expectant attitude and find our place of service. May our minds be attentive so that our thoughtful responses will spur our pastor on as he looks out upon the congregation while teaching from Your Holy Word. Bless our pastor’s family, provide for their needs and guard them against the many temptations sent by the evil one. May they know by the fruit of our lips and good deeds that they are greatly loved.  Amen.

Here’s a prayer to publicly pray for your pastor. I encourage you to use a prayer like this, adapting it for each situation. It would be powerful to have the board gather around your pastor and offer prayer together. I can tell you from experience such a prayer would be a real blessing to your pastor and the congregation. (This is adapted from an actual prayer I prepared for our pastor at the time, about 15 years ago. I have left the name blank so it can be used by others and encourage further customization.

Additional note:

Writing, radio, TV, and Internet based ministries such as Daily Encouragement may be a helpful supplement in our Christian lives, but we believe it’s still God’s plan for believers to meet together regularly in worship as they did in the very beginning. In fact we both chafe at the term “internet churches” and those trying to set up a church over the internet seeking to simulate a local church. We believe everyone calling themselves a Christian should be in regular association with other believers in a local church with pastoral leadership and care. (However there are those who, due to confinement and political oppression, cannot attend services.)

One of the greatest sources of discouragement and grief for the pastor is dealing with criticism. I received my share of it during my years of pastoral ministry. I know all of my peers in ministry have as well. I heard a very candid message from H.B. London, a veteran pasto,r share a perspective on this.

I know of one dedicated minister who had a very effective ministry in a church he had founded and served faithfully. But after he left there was division in the church and a group arose that criticized both his appearance and speaking ability. The Corinthian church! In his second letter to the Corinthians he referenced this criticism made of his ministry gifts, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Corinthians 10:10). I sure bet those people feel foolish now!

Such criticism just goes with the job but can still be very personally painful. Pastors are often criticized in ways that are mutually contradictory such as “His sermons are too long/his sermons are too short”. I believe that most criticisms are merely personal preferences by members of the congregation. Another source is unfair comparisons.

Let me ask you. Does your pastor faithfully preach God’s Word and teach sound doctrine? Is he faithful to his wife and family? Does he care of the flock of God? Does he oversee the financial and business affairs of your church with honesty and integrity? If so you are blessed. Why don’t you pray for your pastor and let him know of your appreciation!


Recess at one room Mennonite School, Lebanon County, PA 10/10/17
Yesterday morning we passed this recess at a one room Mennonite School in Lebanon County, PA. The kids were playing volleyball. We are invigorated by the scenes we view as we go about our work including so many not captured on camera. Yesterday we were going down a rural road when a tractor pulling two corn wagons weaving back and forth approached us. I pulled over to give room and a young Mennonite lady was driving the tractor!

Appalachian Trail overlook 10/10/17
Yesterday we walked a portion of the Appalachian Trail near Bethel, PA out to one of our favorite scenic overlooks. However it will be several weeks before we have the optimum foliage such as seen in this photo taken from the same spot many years ago.

Bindnagle Evangelical Lutheran Church 10/10/17
The Bindnagle Evangelical Lutheran Church is a historic Evangelical Lutheran church located in North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1803. We are not sure the church is in operation since the sign still posts the Christmas Eve service time!

Home near Bindnagle Evangelical Lutheran Church 10/10/17
We assume this home next to the Bindnagle Evangelical Lutheran Church had been the parsonage. We both like the full wrap-around porch.

Ron and Bonnie Hoover 10/10/17
We joined Ron and Bonnie Hoover and a group of friends for a cookout last night at their place. They have been friends for over ten years and have a very active role mentoring and encouraging many, including us. They both have some health challenges but keep such a positive faith-filled outlook and interest in others. They are examples of finishing well, although we hope they are far from finished! An interesting detail about Ron is that about twenty years ago he served as CEO for the Augat Company in Massachusetts, which was founded by the same man who started the church in the 1920’s that we pastored in New England.

Ron and Bonnie Hoover cookout 10/10/17
Nice to still dine outside on a pleasant evening as we approach mid-October.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Finish Well”  Video  Karen Peck and New River  Dedicated to a friend.

* Precept Austin online commentary notes on Hebrews 13:17

“Lessons From Running A Marathon” Here is the link to Mark Canada’s message from this last Sunday. I have enjoyed preaching and listening to messages drawn from running illustrations since early in my ministry. This is one of the best I have ever heard on this topic. He makes some very helpful points.

Pursue Growth By:

1) Setting a direction. (Ephesians 5:15,16)
2) Laying aside unneeded weight. (Hebrews 12:1)
3) Pacing yourself for a marathon not a spring. (Mark 1:35-37)
4) Understanding your stride. (Romans 12:3-6)
5) Inviting spotters into your life. (Hebrews 3:12-14)
6) Persevering through pain. (James 1:2-4)
7) Finishing the race. (Hebrews 12:2)

A five part Daily Encouragement series back in 2012, “Lessons from Life’s Marathon” began with this message.

Here are some resources in honoring your pastor:
Ministry Appreciation Gifts from Dayspring
Resources from Focus On The Family

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

Olbrich Gardens, Madison Wisconsin 10/1/17 (Photo by Georgia)
Olbrich Gardens, Madison Wisconsin
(Photo by my cousin, Georgia M.)

“Just To Know ‘Thus Saith The Lord'”

Message summary: May You be satisfied with the God Who promises to be there for you and find rest in Your soul that He is there to help you all along life’s journey.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Do you ever contemplate the number of hymns and songs you’ve sung all through your life, particularly those sung at church? “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus” is one of the old hymns we can’t recall ever not knowing from our earliest recollections.*¹ We sang it in our worship service Sunday and on the way home Brooksyne and I discussed a line that jumped out at us in a way we had never considered before, “Just To Know ‘Thus Saith The Lord'”.

That Bible phrase and the surety given in the statement, “just to know” really is a blessing when you think about it!

We are accustomed to an ever growing variety of Bible translations (which in our view has been a good thing in some ways and not so good in others)*² but for many generations the dominant version was the King Kames Version (KJV). Almost certainly that would have been the familiar translation used by Louisa Stead who wrote the beloved hymn, “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” in 1882. The Lord gave her these words not long after her husband was pulled under trying to save a young boy from drowning in Long Island Sound.

As a widow with a little girl, and no husband to support her, Louisa struggled to provide for herself and her daughter. She told a friend, “I need faith and trust to believe that His providence is still at work, and that His hand can still guide me through the bleak, unknown future”.

One day the pantry was empty. Having no food to offer her little girl, Louisa and her daughter prayed for God to provide. When they got up the next morning they found a large basket of provisions at the front door and enough money to buy shoes for Lily. Louisa told her, “We trusted God, and He has not failed us.”

An examination of the lyrics reveal numerous Scripture references and allusion to Scripture.

There are 413 Bible references in the KJV of the phrase “Thus saith the Lord”, all found in the Old Testament. The phrase is most dominant in the Major Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Other versions use phrases like, “Thus says the Lord”.

As we consider those 413 references to “Thus saith the Lord” what might Louisa Stead have been considering when she penned this phrase? Of course we can’t say for certain but here is one that sure brings assurance: “The LORD…doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

In the phrase, “Thus saith the Lord”, Stead may not be alluding to a specific Scripture text but rather the sense of the overall promises in God’s Word. If the Lord said it, who are we to question, doubt, or take away from His promises.

“Thus saith the Lord”, “It is written,” or “The Word of the Lord came unto me,” or “I, the Lord, have spoken it,” calls attention to specific statements, messages, and lessons from God. It is as though the prophet, or other spokesman, is telling us: “Now hear this! What I am going to say now, is not merely my opinion, or of my own wisdom, but ‘thus saith the Lord’—it is God speaking; these are His words.” This is a wonderful expression, and full of meaning for Bible students. We have a reverence for God’s Word; and a “Thus saith the Lord” is the end of all controversy with us. – (DawnBible.com)

May You be satisfied with the God Who promises to be there for you and find rest in Your soul that He is there to help you all along life’s journey.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I find great comfort, peace and rest in Your many promises intended to reassure me that You are with me and will sustain me like Isaiah 54:10, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you”. Thank You for the hundreds of promises given to us through Your Son, Jesus, and the prophets of old as recorded in Scripture. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus”  Video  Guy Penrod

Years ago Brooksyne made a series of audio teachings on hymn background stories including “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”. Audio

*¹ We have always pastored and attended churches that sing both old and new music (blended style) which is the case with the church we presently attend. But it seems many modern churches insist on singing only the latest, newest songs prompting an interesting perspective in a recent Babylon Bee satire post: Hopelessly Out-Of-Touch Church Still Playing Worship Song That Came Out Two Weeks Ago

*² Much has been written about translations and people have strong opinions from KJV only proponents to, in our view, acceptance of one man paraphrases like “The Message”.

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

“I Will Sing Praise”

October 9, 2017

Old Windmill Farm from drone
Old Windmill Farm as viewed from a drone

“I Will Sing Praise”

Message summary: Make a renewed commitment to praise and trust God this day using the words of the Psalmist, “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the LORD” (Psalm 104:3,34).

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“The birds of the air … sing among the branches.”  “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the LORD” (Psalm 104:12,3,34).

Singing birdsWe have an arborvitae tree near our front porch. Yesterday afternoon I was tossing a frisbee to our dog, Mollie, and heard a choir of birds buried deep in the tree’s branches singing. Brooksyne came out and we listened together. We don’t know how to determine the emotion of birds but they sure sounded happy and not one of them out of pitch! “This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise.” Singing birds are among the most pleasant natural sounds in our audio observation.

Arborvitae tree 10/8/17Maltbie D. Babcock revealed his great love for nature in the hymn text he wrote, “This Is My Father’s World”. Before leaving for his early morning walks he would inform his wife, “I’m going out to see my Father’s world”. Maltbie was a lover of nature, skilled athlete, accomplished musician, and ordained minister who died at only 42 years of age. We are indebted to his wife who published his writings so believers over the past century could be reminded of the beauties of our Father’s world including the singing birds that raise their carols in praise to their Creator.

Our first daily text notes that the birds of the air “sing among the branches” which is one of those Biblical nature observations that is practically universal. I stepped out this morning long before sunrise and all I heard were crickets. But just after sunrise the birds were back singing in the rain!

Psalm 104 is a majestic expression of praise, beginning with the exclamation, “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” Throughout the Psalm the Father’s greatness is exhibited in nature. We observe and proclaim with the Psalmist, “How many are your works, O Lord in wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures” (104:24).

Yesterday Brooksyne sang with the Calvary Church choir a beautiful song titled, “I Will Sing Praise”. (A video link of the song, although from another church, is posted below). It has a very thoughtful and simple verse that really blesses us:

No matter the storms that come my way,
No matter the trials I may face.
You promised that You would see me through,
So I will trust in You.

We simply don’t know what storms may come our way or what trials we may face today, but we do have God’s promises to rely upon as He gives us yet another opportunity to trust Him. Praise and trust are two descriptive words used repeatedly throughout Scripture and both are directed toward God. Additionally, they can be used in a noun or verb form. So whether these compatible words require us to stand firm with assurance in our heart or actively praise and trust Him in the storms let’s be faithful as we serve the Risen King.

The chorus states:

I will sing praise, I will lift my voice.
I will sing praise, I’ve made my choice.
I will sing praise in all I do,
I will sing praise to You.

Have you made your choice? We make a renewed commitment to praise and trust God this day using the words of the Psalmist, “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the LORD” (Psalm 104:3,34). Will you join us?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, our hearts are uplifted when we hear birds of the air raise their carols of praise to You. We can also be a blessing when we uplift others by raising our cheerful voice in thanks for all You are and the multitude of ways that You care for us. We want to sing praise and lift our voice expressing our trust in You even in the very midst of the trial we face. Since You keep every promise You make we can be confident that You will see us through, no matter the intensity of the storm or how long it endures. I will sing praise to You, my God, as long as I live. Amen.

See Proverbs 30:5, Psalm 134


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Will Sing Praise”  Video  Prestonwood Choir I dedicate this to a family member who is going through serious trial, along with his family.

“Praise You In This Storm”  Video  Casting Crowns

“This Is My Father’s World”  Video  The Collingsworth Family

“Birds Chirping and Singing”  Video  Amazing all you can find on YouTube!

Finally today:

I found out that “Blood, Sweat and Tears” is still around. Some of you old-timers will recall this song from an age when secular music was relatively general and usually wholesome!

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

“Sweeter Than Honey!”

October 6, 2017

Psalm 119:103Bottle of honey at Costco

“Sweeter Than Honey!”

Message summary: The next time you open the Scriptures may you taste the sweetness of God’s Word, like a spoonful of honey.

Note: Podcast for this message not prepared due to very busy schedule.

“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Yesterday aftrnoon following our chaplaincy visitation we shopped at Costco, a warehouse type store here in Lancaster County. We were picking up some items for our friend Anna Ruth who just had a baby. Brooksyne does most of the shopping, assigning me a few items she has confidence I won’t mess up like toilet paper and Dave’s Killer Bread. Otherwise I just mosey through the huge store testing the samples and looking for people to visit with.

I saw a large bottle of honey (photo above), read the label, and was pleased to see a Scripture verse on it. “Thy Word is sweeter than honey.” The truths of the Bible can be a source of edification wherever they are found. *¹

The label is also interesting with the description “Made By American Bees”. I suppose it never occurred to me that American Bees make better honey than non-American bees!

If you are like me when you consider bees you just might consider their God-given defense mechanism. I have been on the skin side of their sting several times and it sure isn’t pleasant!

Jar of honeyBut mostly when we think of bees we consider honey. The words of a popular song a few years ago came to mind, “Bees make honey and it sure tastes good…” (Link below)

Well, bees do make honey (although I would rather not dwell on the process) and honey sure does taste good.

Each worker bee only produces about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime. The accumulation of such enormous stores of honey in a hive in one day are due to there being anywhere from 20,000 to 80,000 + bees in the hive at one time – all doing the work of nursing brood, cleaning ‘house’, guarding stores, and foraging for nectar. A bee goes out to forage for honey, visiting 100 flowers per each trip out of the hive, making approximately 10 trips per day, for each day of her whole life – as a forager. (Her life is only 42-45 days). She literally works herself to death for one to 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. Consider this the next time you spread 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey on a piece of toast! *²

The great thing about the Bible is the universality of the illustrations. I don’t know this for sure but probably virtually any where people live they have bees and honey. David wrote today’s Scripture portion some 3,000 years ago and he was from a part of the world far away from Pennsylvania.

Psalm 119 in its entirety is a wonderful extolling of the Scriptures. David would have had far less of the written word than we have today, as much of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament were not yet written. Yet he declared, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” The next time you open the Scriptures may you taste the sweetness of God’s Word, like a spoonful of honey. May we all have this same attitude concerning His Words. Consider this the next time you enjoy some honey!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, when I examine the Scriptures I see just how good you are. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth. The sweetest of all temporal things cannot be compared with the infinite deliciousness of Your eternal word. When I feed on the Bread of Life it fills me with that which satisfies not just for a day but it provides spiritual food that I can chew on day after day.  May I never neglect the daily refreshing Your words in Scripture bring to my hungry soul. In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.


1954 Chevrolet truck
Yesterday upon our arrival for a visit to a company near New Holland we spotted an interesting vehicle in the parking lot. It caught our eye so we set out to find which employee was the owner of the antique pick up. It didn’t take long to learn that Raymond, a mechanical engineer at Val-Co, acquired it just over a year ago and now has it in running condition. When we further inquired about the year it was built he informed us 1954. Well, folks, that’s the year I was “built”, so now I know why my body no longer looks like a showroom model anymore than this ’54 model stands out in the parking lot! But it sure is a stand out among the average cars in the parking lot!

Val-Co Mike 10/5/17
At Val-Co we both enjoy visiting with Michael, a friendly Haitian whom we share faith with.

Village Farm Market neck pumpkins 10/5/17
Lots of neck pumpkins are being sold all over the county! This photo was taken at the Village Farm Market east of Ephrata, PA

Costco Mike 10/5/17
For many years I have enjoyed greeting Mike, a friendly greeter at Costco. Yesterday the cashier at our checkout line told me he was retiring so I set out to bid him farewell. Turns out the cashier was his nephew and it was a prank!

Colorful jars photo by Doris High
We saw this photo on Doris High’s blog and always enjoy seeing colorful canning jars!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Goodness”  Video  From the Music Machine (has the line “Bees make honey and it sure tastes good…”

*¹ “Nature Nates” expresses faith on their website.

Honey bee facts

“Waiting For You To Get Home”  Video  The Browders A great song about father/son relationships

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

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