Devotional

“The Peril Of Spiritual Boredom”

Pilgrim history presentation at Willow Valley 11/8/19Pilgrim presentation at Willow Valley
 
“The Peril Of Spiritual Boredom”


Message summary: Given the temptation of spiritual boredom we all need to regularly heed Paul’s words to Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6).
 
ListenListen  to this message on your audio player.
“A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living” (Luke 15:11-13).
 
“Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). “Fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6).
 
Each fall Brooksyne makes a presentation in various locations dealing with the Pilgrims voyage on the Mayflower. She has done this since the mid-nineties when she had the opportunity to present historically accurate information about the pilgrims, including their spiritual faith, to public school elementary students in Massachusetts.
 
Now she presents it in senior facilities, to church groups and Christian schools. Last Friday she shared “The Mayflower Voyage” at the Willow Valley Retirement Community speaking not only to seniors but pre-school children as well.
 
You never know what kind of response you will get when asking children questions. She asked them, “Why do you suppose the Pilgrims left England to come to America?” One little girl responded, “Because they were bored”.
 
Much to the surprise of the preschool leader and Brooksyne as well, one little boy responded, “Because the king was mean to them” which of course is true. They were fleeing persecution and seeking freedom to practice their faith.
 
But let’s consider the little girl’s answer today. To a child in our age growing up with all the modern day hi tech, entertaining, bells and whistles of life that period of time probably would seem boring! But of course no matter how much stuff we have all people; children, teens and adults, still get bored.
But today let us consider spiritual boredom. Is that possible? Sure it is.
 
Our Biblical example of boredom may seem a stretch but not necessarily. The main focus of the parable of the prodigal son is the father’s readiness to forgive the wayward son. However let’s muse on why he left his father’s house in the first place. He, like so many, thought the grass was greener on the other side. Was he bored in his father’s house doing the same chores day after day after day? I wonder how long did he find pleasure in foolish and wasteful living? Probably not very long!
 
We who are redeemed are living spiritually in our Father’s kingdom. But can boredom be an issue for us as well? Can our zeal and enthusiasm wane? Of course it can!
 
“Being on fire” is an expression used to describe a sold out, uncompromised, committed follower of Christ. The daily Scripture text teaches that we are “not to be lagging behind in diligence, but we are to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). We both memorized this verse as young Christians and recite it regularly.

John Wesley has a famous description concerning his conversion, “I felt my heart strangely warmed.” The challenge is keeping that warm heart through life as we invariably encounter circumstances that seek to make our hearts cold! Boredom can be a strategy of Satan.

Each of the three phrases in this verse is rich in meaning but today let us consider just the second phrase, “fervent in spirit”. The underlying Greek word for “fervent” is “zeo”, which means, “to be hot.” The English word zeal is derived from this word.

This word zeo is used to describe the preaching of Apollos in Acts 18:25 who “spoke with great fervor”. This word suggests having plenty of heat to produce adequate, productive energy, but not so much heat that one goes out of control. The idea is not of being overheated to the point of boiling over and out of control but, like a steam engine, of having sufficient heat to produce the energy necessary to get the work done.

The challenge in the spiritual life is to maintain this fervency in spirit throughout life. Another version states, “Keep your spiritual fervor”. I think all of us have to fight the tendency for our spiritual fervor to wane. The need for maintaining this fervor in our walk with God is of paramount importance. Jesus, in describing the last days stated, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).

Given the temptation of spiritual boredom we all need to regularly heed Paul’s words to Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6). The Greek word translated “fan into flame” signifies the recovering of fire choked with ashes or decaying. It’s kind of like stirring up a campfire early in the morning.

Let us conclude with a list of suggestions on maintaining your spiritual fervor:

  • Bible reading, study and application (obedience)
  • Prayer
  • Being in service for Christ.
  • Faithful attendance in a Bible-faithful, God-fearing local church.
  • Associating with those who have spiritual fervor since it is contagious.
  • Listening to godly music, reading good books, etc. and abstaining from all which leads us astray.
  • Lastly, but not of least importance, we should be contributing generously to the cause of Christ, since “where our heart is, there our treasure is also”.
Oh Lord, please light the fire
That once burned bright and clean
Replace the lamp of my first love
That burns with holy fear
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber


Praying manDaily prayer: Father, during times of peace, prosperity and easy going we acknowledge the tendency to be spiritually bored. Help us to stir up the fire of Your Holy Spirit in our lives through faithful reading and application of the Scriptures. Though there are daily temptations, disappointments, and experiences that could easily extinguish the fire of Your Spirit in our lives, we thank You that Your abiding presence in our hearts is greater than the foe that seeks to deter us. May we always be attentive to Your still small voice and the convicting power of Your Holy Spirit so that we keep our spiritual fervor in serving You all the days of our lives. Through Christ we pray. Amen.
 

 
Pilgrim history presentation at Willow Valley 11/8/19The Mayflower Voyage Presentation
I’m often asked “What do you talk about in your Mayflower Voyage presentation?”
 
I tell the historical account of the Mayflower voyage of Sept. 6, 1620 – why the separatists (pilgrims) wanted to come to the new world, the failed attempts, the very harsh conditions of their 66 day voyage, what their first year in the new world was like including the “great sickness”, deaths of half the passengers, and their harvest festival in Oct. of 1621 for which they thanked God for the plenteous harvest they enjoyed that year.
 
I adapt the message based upon the group I’m speaking to, whether it’s children, adults, or senior homes and make it as interactive as possible.
 
Suggestions for Present Day Thanksgiving: Preparations for Thanksgiving is time consuming but you might have extra time over the Thanksgiving weekend to enhance your celebration, especially if you have children present, by including some historical foods and activities present on the Mayflower or in Plimouth (original spelling).
 
Games played by the children during the harvest festival – boys arm wrestled (as seen in photo above), competed in the broad jump, and raced against each other.  Indians competed in the bow and arrow competition. The girls spent most of their time helping moms with food preparation during the three day gathering. If you have a mortar and pestle (seen on the table) the girls can grind dried herbs and spices in preparation for seasoning veggies and such.
 
Food Samples – Some of the food on board the Mayflower was hardtack (also called ship’s biscuits) , dried beef, and hard cheese. I offer these as samples at my presentation.
 
Psalm 23 & Psalm 121 – Quote together one or both Psalms as they were often read during the Mayflower voyage, although it was the Geneva version.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about the voyage and want to present it to young children “Three Young Pilgrims” by Cheryl Harness is an excellent true story with historical data presented in a pictorial and understandable format. It was my first introduction to the Mayflower story. I was so intrigued with learning more about the voyage and Plimouth Colony that I purchased “Saints and Strangers” by George F. Willison which is a more scholarly detailed account of the Pilgrim Fathers and their families along with others who came to settle in the new world.
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful”  Video  Keith Green
“Get All Excited”  Video  The Bill Gaither Trio  Anybody else remember this one!
“I Got Saved” Video  Selah
Devotional

“A Consideration of Spiritual Veterans”

Grass, Lancaster County, PA 11/8/19
This entire field of Chinese Silver Grass (or a similar grass) was glimmering on Friday afternoon due to the bright sun. With the tassels blowing in the wind against the beautiful blue sky it was a sight to behold.
 
“A Consideration of Spiritual Veterans”

 
Message summary: Each of us will become a spiritual veteran should the Lord keep us on this side. Brooksyne and I state our determination to stay faithful as Christian soldiers. No AWOL for us! So let’s continue to march forward, as we lift high the banner of the cross.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12). “I then, as Paul–an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1:9b). “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Gene Weber service photo (about 1943) Brooklyn Sherrell service photo (about 1953)Today is Veteran’s Day here in the United States, a day in which we properly remember and honor military veterans and consider the price paid for our temporal freedoms. I realize many veterans read these messages regularly including several we know personally, as well as those who are in active service. We thank you for your service. I specifically consider my dad (left) who served as a pilot during WW2 and Brooksyne’s dad (right) who served during the Korean War.

But today we want to focus our message on spiritual veterans. Many have gone on before us and are now in what Hebrews 12:1 calls “a great cloud of witnesses”. Others are still on this side of eternity in the senior years of life. They have faithfully served God in their generation and continue to do so though their acts of service may be modified due to their health challenges and mobility issues. Grover Devault is a long-retired army chaplain who is 90 and is still in service in the Lord’s army.

At one time we would have shared this message as young people, a time when being old seemed so far away. Life progressed through our middle ages and now we must even say goodby to that moniker. However at this point we can say we are a young old!

Tom and Marsh NeizmikWe have always sought to honor the elderly in our ministry. Our first church, which we planted right out of Bible College in our early 20’s, was mostly young people. But it was in our young years that we developed ministries to the elderly in nursing homes and some of those who served from our church were in their late teens. Tom and Marsha Neizmik (left), now grandparents themselves, are still faithfully providing services some 40 years later, specifically. In our mid thirties we moved to an established church in New England with a nice mix of young and old. Throughout our 20+ years of chaplaincy we focus on all ages.

But it sure seems that honor and esteem for the elderly has changed during our lifetime with many forgetting and neglecting a powerful Scripture truth that states, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” We need to value our elderly and specifically spiritual veterans. They have insights which can bring needed perspective and blessing to our lives. As they live faithfully for the Lord, during the good times as well as the bad, they are living testimonies that we can observe.

Paul as an old manToday let us remember and honor the contribution made by the countless old spiritual veterans who have gone before us, through the Bible times and church history as well as those we personally know. Let us consider an easily overlooked statement made by the apostle Paul, a true veteran of the Christian conflict.  He had fought the good fight of faith and was not at all hesitant in identifying himself in the text as an “old man”.  (The KJV states “the aged”.)

Scores of men and women through the history of the church have taken great risks to the point of laying down their lives. They faced hardship and otherwise bear the scars of battle for Christ and for our souls. Our spiritual freedom was supremely paid for by Christ’s death on the cross. However many others have paid a price to bring that message to us and help keep our flame lit. Let’s honor them and let us now take our place in the line of the faithful!

Along with military veterans I’m sure you can think of some spiritual veterans today. Why don’t you take a moment to thank God for them, and if you’re able, give them a personal expression of thanks. You’ll make their day.

Finally, each of us will become a spiritual veteran should the Lord keep us on this side. Brooksyne and I state our determination to stay faithful as Christian soldiers. No AWOL for us! So let’s continue to march forward, as we lift high the banner of the cross.

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, how indebted we are to those whose devotion to You has marked out a path for us to follow. From the Biblical characters like Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Ruth, Peter, Paul and Timothy to those in later generations like D.L. Moody, George Whitfield, John and Charles Wesley, Billy Graham along with countless missionaries who gave their all to spread the Gospel whether by word of mouth or by translating Scripture so that people can learn about You in their own language. Thank You for the individual(s) who shared the gospel message with me so that I might know You personally and receive a crown of life in the hereafter where I will dwell with You, the King of glory for all eternity. Amen.

 
Prayer for our Military Veterans:  Father, we honor our military veterans who gave their all that we might enjoy our freedoms. Some died young never having the opportunity to live out their life on this side. Others bear visible reminders such as a missing limb, or a jagged scar. Others carry less visible signs such as a pin holding a bone together, shrapnel buried beneath their skin, tortuous physical and mental images that cannot be erased from their minds, causing many of them deep disturbance in their mental health. We pray that You will encourage the veterans and their families, provide physical, financial and emotional services. Place godly people in their paths who will share their faith so that these soldiers will meet Jesus as their personal Savior, the One who grants eternal life and leads us when the arm of flesh fails us. Amen.
 

 
Pastor Beau Eckert 11/10/19

As we progress through life we make many transitions. When you are young the “professionals” in your life are all older than you. Then they are similar age, then they’re younger. My doctor is now some 15 years younger than me. Up till several years ago we always had a pastor who was older or our peer.
 
Now we have a middle-aged pastor and as you get older even middle-aged can seem young! Yesterday Pastor Beau Eckert preached on the Parable of the Sower and then followed by a very pastoral heart to heart application message to the congregation of every age that really touched us. That part starts here (video). We believe it will bless our readers. We were especially touched at the respectful way he addressed the seniors, as there are many in our congregation. The church stressed the importance of having an intergenerational congregation where each generation benefits from the other.

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Find Us Faithful”  Video  Let There Be Praise singers

“We Will Not Forget”  Video  Mark Harris

“When Love Comes Home”  Video  Matthew West

“The Mission”   Video  Steve Green

“One Pure And Holy Passion”  Video  The Passion Worship Band

“Letters From War”  Video  Mark Schultz

 
“You Are The King Forever”  Video  Calvary Church worship team
 
Finally today:
 
Brussels Sprouts from Corn Crib 11/8/19Brooksyne purchased some freshly harvested brussels sprouts fresh from the fields from the Corn Crib last Friday. Since they’re so fresh and small they are especially tender and the dish she prepared was delicious. The brussels sprouts are tasty in themselves but when she adds onions, garlic, bacon pieces, and feta cheese it adds lots of great flavor!
Devotional

“An Aroma Of Death”

Horse and buggy pickup on Strasburg Pike 11/7/19 click to enlargeEarly yesterday morning we saw this horse and buggy pickup on Strasburg Pike.
Click to enlarge
 
“An Aroma Of Death”


Message summary: Today, we urge you to spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus. May this fragrance be pleasing to God as it releases the fragrance of spiritual truth to those around you. For some it is an aroma of life. But just remember to some it will be an aroma of death.

ListenListen  to this message on your audio player.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).


Bath and Body Works One of Brooksyne’s favorite stores is the Bath and Body Works, a store devoted to pleasant fragrances in soaps, lotions, candles and other items. I will usually go in with her for a few minutes till I lose interest and leave to find somewhere else to putter around or head back to the van for a nap!
We have two of their stores here in Lancaster County but we often stop by one when we travel, which always seems to please her.

In addition to personal fragrances we have home, business and automotive air fresheners. Making our little environment around us smell good is big business!
 
Energy lotionShe has one fragrance from Bath and Body Works that I especially enjoy called “Energy” which is labeled as aromatherapy and I reckon anything with “therapy” in it must be good for you! Whenever she puts the lotion on her hands I inevitably say, “Wow, that sure smells good”.
 
However not all enjoy or can even tolerate these fragrances as it may trigger their allergies or other respiratory issues. What some may experience as a pleasant aroma others find distressing. We have seen places that have “fragrance free spaces” where others are asked not to wear fragrances, which seems reasonable (unlike the “safe spaces” many woke colleges now have to coddle the easily offended, triggered youngsters).

Yesterday’s message “Was There An Odor?” considered the odor of death based upon a statement by Mary prior to the resurrection of Lazarus.
“But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (John 11:39).
 
Through the years we have developed several messages based on today’s text, focusing on how we are an aroma of Christ. But today we would like to consider an aspect from today’s passage that speaks of followers of Christ as being “an aroma of death”.

Christ’s followers are called not only to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) but we are also called to spread a fragrance. Paul uses a rather unusual metaphor in our daily text to describe this aspect of ministry, God “manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”

2 Corinthians 2:14“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ.” Fragrance, in the form of incense, was common at the Roman triumphal parade. In Paul’s mind, this fragrance is like the knowledge of God, which people could smell as the triumphal parade comes by.

God has ordained that His people spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. The Greek word for aroma is “osme” and is the same word used when Mary washed our Lord’s feet with expensive perfume and the pleasant fragrance filled the house.

This “aroma of Christ” is detectable to both the saved and the unsaved. However their reactions are entirely different. To those “who are being saved” it is “the aroma from life to life”.

But to “those who are perishing” it is the “aroma from death to death”. David Guzek observes, “The scent of incense burnt to the gods in a Roman triumphal parade smelled wonderful to a Roman. The same aroma was a bad smell to a captive prisoner of war in the parade, who would soon be executed or sold into slavery.”

This contrast is similar to a theme found in John 3 regarding reactions to light. Some love spiritual light while others hate it and seek to flee from it.

Paul’s closing question in this passage is; “And who is equal for these things?” He was aware of the awesome responsibilities that this placed upon himself and other believers. The same is true for us today and we urge you to spread everywhere the aroma of the knowledge of Jesus. May this be pleasing to God as it releases the aroma of spiritual truth to those around you! For some it is an aroma of life. But just remember to some it will be an aroma of death.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I am thankful for the sense of smell. Depending on what I am smelling it can bring about a pleasant response where I linger taking in more and more of the pleasing scent. Today, I pray that the spiritual fruit from my life would emit such an aroma. I want to offer the sweet smelling sacrifice of a life fully surrendered to You. I pray that those whom I see today would find my words and actions to be a very uplifting part of their day. May I bring encouragement through pleasant conversation and by taking a personal interest in others. Keep my mind and words from sinking in the cesspool of lies, jealousy, gossip, immorality and hatred. Instead I want to spread the aroma of the living Christ that others might seek Him and know Him. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



Stumptown Road Amish wedding parking 11/7/19 click to enlarge
On yesterday’s post we shared a photo of a long line of buggies parked along a driveway at an Amish wedding. Here’s a scene from our travels yesterday of parking for an Amish wedding on Stumptown Road (one of our favorite Lancaster County road names). We had gone that way to try an apple cider milkshake at an Amish farm store next door but it was closed and we think we know why!
Click to enlarge


 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Offering”  Video   Paul Baloche
 
Not related to today’s message apart from the parenthetical note on safe spaces: I value to powerful way Dr. Everett Piper the president of a college in Oklahoma tackled this issue, “College not a daycare” Video
Devotional

“Was There An Odor?”

Parked buggies at Amish weddingBuggies parked along a long lane at an Amish wedding here in Lancaster County. November is a popular month for Amish weddings normally on Tuesday or Thursday.
 
“Was There An Odor?”


Message summary: Today let us consider one of the foulest odors of all, death.

ListenListen  to this message on your audio player.

“But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (John 11:39) “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go'” (John 11:44).
 
Out here in the country we are subject to a variety of odors, some pleasant some not so much. We benefit from fresh country air and the fragrance after the rain. Sometimes you can smell the crops, especially alfalfa. We are especially blessed when, depending on wind direction and production, we get a wonderful chocolate aroma from Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Plant in Mount Joy. At times we may even get a whiff of chocolate from the M&M Mars Plant in Elizabethtown.
 
However you take the bad with the good and several times a year we get an application of organic fertilizer (AKA manure) on the neighboring farm fields as well as the periodic, always distinct, odor of a skunk (usually dead).
 
But the last several weeks we have endured a newer odor, at least in our area. Several are now growing marijuana, also known as hemp. It’s not as bad as manure but we sure don’t find it pleasant.
 
Today let us consider one of the foulest odors of all, death.
 
Today’s text is from the account of the resurrection of Lazarus. This is surely one of our Lord’s greatest miracles and particularly set in motion the great opposition that led to His arrest, trial and crucifixion (see 11:46ff). This is the occasion when we are specifically told “Jesus wept”.
 
How utterly disappointed His sisters Mary and Martha were when Jesus did not make it in time to heal their brother. But Jesus had another miracle in store, a resurrection!
 
Prior to the miracle Mary had responded to Christ’s command to move the stone with the well reasoned observation, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (v.39). Notice Jesus does not dispute this.  Instead he calls out in a loud voice, “Lazarus come forth”. And that’s just what Lazarus did!

Think and ponder with me for a moment. Surely a great miracle had occurred as Lazarus marched out of that tomb. But do you suppose there was an odor? Now surely Jesus could have had him come out in a tuxedo if He willed, but the text plainly says he was still wrapped in the linen grave clothes and Jesus commanded those who witnessed the miracle to “take off the grave clothes and let him go”.

 
I wonder what kind of job this was? Sure, they were rejoicing, but did they say to one another, “You unwrap him”. Was there an odor? Was Lazarus, graveclothes and all, completely sanitized during the miracle? Did he come out smelling like “Old Spice”? Of course we don’t know but I really think not! I would imagine that the folks had a pretty nasty little job in getting those clothes removed.

The Bible says, prior to conversion, we are all “dead in our transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). To those with a nose to smell spiritually I’m sure there is an odor! I’m thankful for those who, through the years, have removed the old, stinky graveclothes of the newly redeemed (and still do so). I’m thankful for the privilege of unwrapping graveclothes from others who have been resurrected spiritually. Sure, there is an odor and it’s hard at times, but underneath a new person is being formed and growing in the image of Jesus Christ.

 
Jesus loved Lazarus and he loves us in spite of the odor. May He also help us to love one another today!
 
 
Be encouraged and today,
 
 
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we marvel in the resurrected healing of the dead man, Lazarus. When his sisters and friends had given up hope all along You had a plan to defy death and raise Larazus to newness of life. It’s true in our lives as well, since You have made it possible for us to put to death the old nature and You have raised to life the new person we are as we are born again. Thank You for forgiving us our sins and giving us life eternal through Your death and Your resurrected life. Amen.
 
Tomorrow we will consider another passage dealing with odor. “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life” (2 Corinthians 2:15,16).
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Four Days Late”  Video  Karen Peck
Devotional

“A Lesson From The Burning Bush”

Burning bushThe burning bushes are bright crimson all over our area.
 
“A Lesson From The Burning Bush”


Message summary: A message for those fearful of God’s call.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“The angel of the Lord appeared to him (Moses) in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2). “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You will lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. ‘But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?’ Moses asked God. ‘How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?’ Then God told him, ‘I will be with you. And this will serve as proof that I have sent you'” (Exodus 3:10-12).
We enjoy this relatively brief season of bright fall foliage. We still have plenty of autumn beauty in our area but it’s diminishing day by day and likely the next time we get a cold, windy rain most of the leaves will drop leaving us with comparatively bland scenery, that is, until the trees are blanketed with snow.
Among the brightest sights we see now is the burning bush, which is in fiery abundance all through our region. Through most of the growing season it’s a rather ordinary looking green shrub, but in the autumn it turns into a crimson ball of color. It’s scientific name is Euonymus alatus, but the common name “burning bush” comes from the bright red fall color.
 
Perhaps this name comes from the burning bush written about in the Bible!
 
The burning bush is described by the Book of Exodus (3:1ff) as being located on Mount Horeb. The bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name. The burning bush is the location where Moses was appointed by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan.

This story is recorded in Exodus 3 & 4. It reveals the call of a reluctant Moses to be a deliverer for God’s people to be brought out of Egypt. It’s a long exchange but today we will seek to glean a truth and application from God’s conversation with Moses assuring him that He could use him, fears, weaknesses and all.


The angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire in a burning bush and gave Moses this commission: “I am sending you to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (3:10).
 
Initially Moses responded to God’s call with fear, hesitation and low confidence. “But who am I to appear before Pharaoh?’ Moses asked God. ‘How can you expect me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?'”.

Fear can absolutely paralyze one’s giftings, vision, and courage to accomplish anything for the kingdom of God. Is there any wonder that Moses took to the wilderness for 40 years content to tend sheep and live an ordinary shepherd’s life?

But God had bigger plans and told Moses about it on the far side of the desert at the mountain of God.

It’s one thing to tend needy sheep, quite another to tend needy people. (All pastors would agree with that statement.) So Moses naturally spoke back to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And therein lies the question most all whom God calls to Christian service must settle once for all. There was much conversation between God and His servant, Moses, to ascertain that God was truly calling him to this gigantic task. Moses kept looking to his own abilities or lack thereof and felt he had nothing to offer.

But God was not looking upon Moses’ abilities – He would provide that. Instead He looked for his availability and willingness to say, “Yes” to God’s calling. After all, God wasn’t sending him to Egypt to represent Moses. Instead he was being sent to represent “the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  “Tell them, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

The same powerful God of our ancestors will “be used from generation to generation” (3:15) to equip us with extraordinary ability when we’re inclined to question Him or decline His calling because we’re badly frightened. God gives us courage to conquer that which would otherwise hinder us from experiencing God’s greatest blessings in our lives and the blessings He has for others who benefit from our obedience.

Don’t run and hide, make excuses, delay, or tremble in fear. Let us trust God that He will equip us when He calls us to make a difference in His kingdom. Are you listening to His voice today? What is your answer?

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear, he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause, Fear, he is a liar

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, those whom You call You also equip to do that which we cannot do in ourselves. You assured a frightened Moses with these words, “I will be with you” and You assure our spirits with the very same message, “I will be with you” no matter how hard the test and no matter what You ask us to do. When we obey and trust You we’re assured the victory just like Abraham, Moses, Job, Daniel and all the other common, ordinary people of the Bible who became heroes in our eyes. We walk in victory because You are the great I AM and You are with us enabling us to do that which You have called us to do. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Brief background: Moses had an adventuresome life had lots of twists and turns. It started in his infancy when his mother hid him from the Egyptians who were slaying all male Hebrew babies. He was found by the princess of Egypt who adopted him and raised as him as Egyptian royalty. Another twist was that his own mother nursed him through his younger years and likely instilled in him his identity as a descendant of Abraham.

Although Moses had a privileged upbringing in the royal palace with all the wealth, prestige and power anyone could want, especially an Israelite, he was born a Jew and would remain loyal to the Jewish people. And therein lies the opportunity for God to use Moses to free the Israelites from 400 years of captivity. In his fortieth year, yet another major turn came when Moses who had lived and eaten at Pharaoh’s table was now being hunted down by him for killing an Egyptian. He left Egypt fleeing for his life since “WANTED” posters were hung in every building and posted throughout the land. Exodus 2:14 describes Moses as “badly frightened”. He then spent another 40 years in the desert till God’s call at the burning bush.

 

 
Here are some burning bush photos we have taken through the years;
 
Burning bush

A cluster of burning bushes in full brilliance


Close-up of burning bush
Here’s a close-up of a burning bush.

 
Photo of nature's autumn Christmas colors!
Nature’s Christmas colors!
Brooksyne took this photo of the burning bushes with a row of
arborvitae behind it.


 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Fear Is A Liar”  Video  Zach Williams

“The Great I Am”  Video  New Life Worship
 
“Life Is Hard But God Is Good”  Video 

“Bless The Broken Road”  Video  Selah

“Ordinary People”  Video  Danniebelle Hall

 
“Blessings”  Video 
 
Last Friday we shared a message titled “When I Am Afraid” about how terrified our border collie Mollie becomes during storms. Several suggested thunder jackets including Nelson, a long time friend, who also draws a spiritual analogy!
 
“Sounds like Mollie needs a thunder vest/thunder jacket to calm her. Could be your solution! There certainly must be a spiritual analogy to thunder vests for people in the face of life’s storms – God as our rock, His arms around us, resting in His shadow.”
 
(We tried the thunder jacket but she was terrified of it, ran away with it on and we never found it. Perhaps we’ll give it another try since that was about five or six years ago.)
 
Sue writes concerning our Monday’s message “Not A Waste Of Time”:
 
I was moved very much by this message entitled “A Waste of Time.” For nearly 30 years, I served the developmentally disabled population first as a direct care worker and finally as a case manager/advocate for many years before my retirement in 2017. It was never a high paying job and there were so many instances where I was frustrated and often despondent that I struggled to make ends meet. But I never gave it up because it felt like a calling rather than a job. I recall in my early years in the field being asked by others why I was settling for such a low paying career when I had a Master’s Degree. I remember feeling a little surprised at this comment because what these people were saying was that I was, in essence, wasting my time helping people with disabilities. I learned so much about life working with the “least of these” and the years I spent doing so were both humbling and uplifting. Thank you both for this message.
 
Devotional

“The Prophecy Of Enoch”

 
Fall wagon at Red Caboose 11/3/19A colorfully decorated wagon at Red Caboose Motel
Click to enlarge
 
“The Prophecy Of Enoch”

Message summary: Are you, like Enoch, walking with God and speaking out boldly for Him.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men. ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him'” (Jude 1:14,15).

petsWhen we got married in 1976 my childhood dog, Susie, came to live with us. My parents had cared for her while I attended college. After we married Susie moved down from my childhood home in Independence, Missouri to live with us at the little country parsonage surrounded by farms near Fair Grove, MO. But by this time Susie was nearing the end of her life and sadly, fell off a hay wagon I was pulling with a tractor for a neighboring farmer. She died but we were at peace since she had enjoyed her new found freedom out in the country for several months. Brooksyne would say it was the first time she ever saw me shed a tear when burying Susie, and I guess that’s true. It was my only pet up to that point.

A few months later a little boy who heard about Susie’s death told us they had a litter of mixed Chow Chow puppies. Being dedicated Bible College students we chose the name of a Bible character and named him Enoch. He was a lot of fun and a colorful part of the early years of our marriage. To this day we’re sure many who knew us at that time will also remember Enoch! In fact years ago I even wrote a story about him titled “My Dog Enoch”!

The Bible character, Enoch, is best known for his remarkable departure from this world. The Bible simply states, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). We also know from Hebrews 11:5-6 that he was a man of faith and “he was commended as one who pleased God”.

But our daily verse provides an additional, lesser known and considered, glimpse into his life and ministry. Although Enoch lived in the rampantly evil, pre-flood period of human history, he didn’t keep his faith to himself. He prophesied, speaking out regarding his belief in God and his convictions. In fact he is the very first recorded Bible character to prophecy for God.

Jude records the specific prophecy that Enoch spoke forth and it is just as meaningful to our generation as it was when he first gave it some 5,300 years ago; “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:14b,15).

Now the notion of judgment is a message that many find offensive. Proclaim that today and you will be labeled a crackpot by the world and sadly many in the visible church would critique your message to be “unloving”. It’s certainly not “seeker friendly”.

The Bible says that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). He appeared in flesh and walked upon the earth 33 years, taught the ways of godliness, lived a sinless life and died upon the cross that we might be saved from our sins.

A few verses later Jude writes, “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts’.” Interestingly Jude is quoting from another New Testament book from the Apostle Peter. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:3).

The Bible also says that the Lord is coming in judgment. Men and women, like Enoch, are still called by God to walk with Him and faithfully speak forth His word. Enoch’s great-grandson, Noah, sure did. In 2 Peter 2:5 he is called a “preacher of righteousness.”

 
And many, many more have done so throughout both the Biblical and Church ages. In our own day millions, like Enoch, are walking with God and speaking out boldly for Him. Are you?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I must confess that holy boldness does not come easily for me. Though I may hold an unwavering conviction based upon the teachings of Scripture, I find it difficult to articulate my position when faced with opposing views or ungodly lifestyle. It is in this setting that I rely upon Your Holy Spirit to equip me with the words I am to speak and the tone of which I speak them. You’ve instructed the believer to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have. We are to do this prayerfully with gentleness, and respect. Keep our motives pure as we unashamedly and boldly declare Your truths to a lost and dying generation, we pray. Amen.

(Portion of prayer based on I Peter 3:15,16.)


There are two individuals mentioned in Scripture (Enoch and Elijah) that did not die in the usual sense but were transferred to heaven.  The Bible teaches that the generation still alive at the time of the return of Christ will pass directly to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).




Years ago we wrote a message titled “A Good Minister” also using Enoch (our dog) as an illustration.

Here’s a “biographical” story about Enoch on our humor blog titled “My Dog Enoch”.

Today’s story prompts some memories of our earliest years as a married couple so we will share a few photos.

Enoch and Coon, our first pets as a married coupleEnoch and our kitten Coon were our first pets as newlyweds.


First pets as married couple 1976When we first got married we lived in a tiny parsonage out in the country about five miles from Fair Grove, Missouri which was about 20 miles northeast of Springfield. (Google map). We pastored a small country church that had been closed for awhile. We heated the house with a “Warm Morning” wood stove, ate lots of hot dogs and pork & beans as Brooksyne learned to cook and I did farm work for local farmers. Fond memories! We met some wonderful country folk with an earnest faith in Christ who had a formative part in our lives, especially an old farmer and his wife named Tracy and Bulah Sutherland.

 

Enoch with ChrissyWe brought Enoch and Coon with us when we moved to Pennsylvania a year after our marriage. Coon ran off shortly after our move but Enoch lived another nine years. During our early years of marriage we were foster parents to many children from our own country and several from overseas for medical care. Here’s Chrissie who lived with us for over two years, whom we are still in contact with, who is hugging Enoch. His sad look is because he had gotten in a tussle with a porcupine. (Note the quills in his nose). We don’t know how many of you have ever had porcupine quills in your nose but they are surely quite painful!


 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Preach The Word”  Video  Gold City
 
An interesting feedback note yesterday concerning “Not A Waste Of Time”.
 
I had a very similar experience in the last engineering job I had before entering full time prison ministry. It was an amazing time of sharing the Gospel with fellow workers that could not understand how I could choose low paying missions work over engineering. The Texas Instruments plant in Attleboro, MA was shaken and Jesus was glorified way back in 1977. Praise God.
Devotional

“Not A Waste Of Time”

Only one life quote
 
“Not A Waste Of Time”


Message summary: An old quote attributed to missionary CT Studd we first heard in Bible College is, “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last”. We believed that over 40 years ago and believe it even more now as we have experienced the inevitable passing of life. Let us live with a Kingdom of God outlook!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
 
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me’” (Matthew 25:40).
 
This weekend we had longtime friends visit us from North Carolina. We first met the very young Matangelo family 42 years ago when we planted a church in northern Pennsylvania right after we graduated from Bible College. They became a part of that church and raised their family there. We departed from that church in the early 90’s and they moved to North Carolina in 2000. But like we have with many others we have stayed in touch through the years.
 
Mike trained and served for many years as an electrical engineer and specialized in quality control in the corporate world. But Mike and Kathy’s passion has always been for people, leaving a long trail of impact for Christ in many places and in many ways. They presently serve together in prison ministry.
 
Mike shares a story of a conversation with a supervisor many years ago when he was beginning prison ministry. His boss just couldn’t understand why Mike did not want to prioritize his time in advancing in the corporate world and told him, “I just don’t understand why you would waste your time on that.” (that being prison ministry)
 
Now most won’t be as blunt as this supervisor but this is an attitude many have toward ministry and people work, especially ministry to those whom Jesus called “the least of these”.
 
One of the major decisions of life is determining what comprises a waste of time or more broadly a waste of life. We may describe someone addicted to drugs as “wasting their life” but what about a successful person as we often understand success? Are they wasting their life?
 
That depends on where your primary kingdom orientation is; the kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of God.
 
Mike’s supervisor years ago likely understood a valuable use of time as being a focus on business success, often described as climbing the corporate ladder.
 
An orientation to this world can express success in many ways which are not necessarily bad and which can be God honoring such as working diligently with integrity. We are all blessed in various ways by this kind of outlook in life.
 
However for the genuine follower of Jesus our primary kingdom focus should be the Kingdom of God which Jesus clearly taught includes caring for the least of these and He demonstrated this by seeking and saving the lost. We have a call to follow His example.
 
An old quote attributed to missionary CT Studd we first heard in Bible College is, “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last”. We believed that over 40 years ago and now we believe it even more now as we have experienced the inevitable passing of life. Let us live with a Kingdom of God outlook!
Only One Life
 
Two little lines I heard one day, traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, and from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, and stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, and to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, when Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, in joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn, and from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, now let me say, “Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Author Unknown

 
 
Be encouraged and today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Father help us to live with a Kingdom of God focus and a realization that truly this life we now live will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will ultimately last. Help us to never see the work we do for You or the people we are called to serve as a waste of time.

 

 
Casey Jones Restaurant 11/3/19
Matangelo family in dining car 11/3/19
Mike, Kathy and Tina Matangelo
After our church service yesterday we headed over to the Casey Jones’ Restaurant at the Red Caboose for a late breakfast in the dining car.

Strasburg Railroad 11/3/19
From our seat in the dining car we had a nice view of the Strasburg Railroad along with a lot of old-order horse and buggy traffic on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
 
Chaplain John Uhler 11/4/19
Later in the afternoon we visited the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania especially to visit with Chaplain John Uhler, who has a ministry in living history. He was at the museum as part of a “trains and troops” weekend.
(Click to enlarge)
Locomotive at Pennsylvania Train Museum, Lancaster County, PA 11/4/19 (Click to enlarge)

An old locomotive at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
(Click to enlarge)
 
Matangelo family on Redwood stump
This last summer Mike and Kathy recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and met with all of their children and grandchildren in California, all managing to fit on this huge Sequoia tree stump!
(Click to enlarge)


 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Only One Life”  Video  Lanny Wolfe
 
Finally today:
Brooksyne with baby goat on Old Windmill Farm 11/4/19

Yesterday afternoon also stopped by to visit with the Lapp family on the Old Windmill Farm and of course saw the baby animals with Brooksyne holding a baby goat.