“Success Or Failure?”

April 24, 2015

Scenic view in Strasburg, PA (Click to enlarge)
Early yesterday morning we passed this scenic view in Strasburg, PA across from the Strasburg Railroad. Our part of the world is really getting green!
(Click on photo for larger view)

“Success Or Failure?”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“He (Uzziah) sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success” (2 Chronicles 26:5). “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 26:16).

How do we define success? A common formula is fame, power, prestige and money; ideally all of them for those striving for worldly success.

Today let us consider an Old Testament king who was identified as successful. King Uzziah is not one of the more famous kings but the entire 26th chapter of 2 Chronicles is devoted to his life. The Bible records the lives of these kings not only as history, but also for the lessons we can learn from them.

Uzziah began his reign as king at sixteen and ruled over Judah for fifty-two years. At the beginning of his reign he was under the instruction of Zechariah, who had a godly impact on the young king. Under his example and influence he sought the Lord and “as long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success”. Notice the nature of Zechariah’s teaching: “who instructed him in the fear of God”. Zechariah taught him that he had a God to whom he was accountable. That’s a lesson we all need to learn and hide deep in our hearts.

Uzziah’s success is described in verses 6-15. I like a tiny detail about his life: “he loved the soil” (v. 10). Another interesting verse states “In Jerusalem he made engines of war invented by skillful men to be on the towers and on the corners for the purpose of shooting arrows and great stones” (v.15a).

This section ends with this transitional phrase, “His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful” (v.15b). He would likely have continued to do well (ie. have success) for a time after this, but eventually it caught up with him.

His life took a sad turn summed up in our second daily text: “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God.” He even tried some spiritual shenanigans such as entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense, something he was strictly forbidden to do.

This is an excellent example of one who is filled with pride. When an individual gets to thinking he or she is above the law of God, pride is at work in that person’s heart.

Uzziah’s downfall led to isolation and death by leprosy as described in v.21: “in a separate house—leprous, and banned from the temple of the Lord.”

Uzziah reminds us that we should always seek the Lord. Do not let your success (or apparent lack thereof) deceive you. The presumption of God’s blessings based upon the appearance of “success” is one of the great deceptions of the modern church. The first call of God in our lives is to seek Him (Matthew 6:33). God ever remains a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we consider the great honor granted Uzziah when he was crowned king at a young age. Due to the influence of Zechariah, he was taught in the ways of the Lord. You blessed, prospered, and honored him as he implemented godly principles and followed the commands of Scripture. But, much to his demise and that of the people he served, he took his eyes off Your truths and pride led to his downfall. Indulging pride entered his heart and its tentacles spread to his head giving him an inflated sense of self-importance which began the downward spiral. We’ve seen it many times when Christian leaders take their eyes off the Master they are serving and begin to think more highly of themselves than they ought. When pride creeps into our thoughts, help us to recognize it. Perhaps it will be a Scripture, a messenger sent from God, or a consequence resulting from our pride that will get our attention and get us back on track to recognize that all gifts, skills, knowledge and abilities come from You, not within ourselves. Keep us submitted to Your will and walking in Your ways all the days of our lives, in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


A Visit To The
Strasburg Railroad Maintenance Shop

Strasburg Railroad maintenance shop
Yesterday I had an “excuse” to visit the Strasburg Railroad Maintenance shop. Earlier in the morning I spoke to two roofers, Rodney and Ray, who told me they had an unusual roofing job; putting a new roof on a railroad car. I eagerly stopped by to greet them at their worksite.

Strasburg Railroad maintenance shop
Jeff is one of the engineers who also works in the shop. It was fun visiting with the employees, several who dressed like real old time rail yard workers, black soot and all.

Strasburg Railroad maintenance shop
The shop is restoring this old steam engine and has a full array of tool shop machines for the job. After all, you just won’t find these parts listed on EBay!

Strasburg Railroad maintenance shop
Big old rail wheels. Anyone believe they could bench press these!

Strasburg Railroad maintenance shop
Wouldn’t want to see this engine coming at me for real!

Amish seven mule tilling team near Bird In Hand PA 4/23/15
On the road again we passed this Amish farmer with a seven mule team tilling the soil.
We think Uzziah would have enjoyed this scene since “he loved the soil”!
(Click on photo for larger view.)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Last night we saw this video and must not forget! Recant or Else: Saeed Faces New Psychological Torture

“Glorious Freedom”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  This evening we are going with a group of friends to a concert at the Giant Center in Hershey with the Gaither Vocal Band and several others and sure hope to hear this song!

“Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days)”  Video  The Isaacs (Another group we will hear tonight)

“There Is A Way”  Video  The Nelons  We will also hear this group!

Strasburg Railroad  The Strasburg Rail Road Company is America’s oldest short line railroad, incorporated in 1832. It still hauls freight but is now mostly a tourist railroad.

For the enthusiast here’s a site for their repair shop or watch this video

A bike train in the Poconos we hope to take in several weeks! Neat video with great song!

Finally today:

Blue Heeler with new pups 4/23/15Yesterday we stopped by to see some friends and their Blue Heeler just had puppies!


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Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
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Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Variegated tulip, Hotel Hershey
Variegated tulips on the grounds of the Hotel Hershey
The Rest Of The Story: “Guiding Unto Death”

Note: The last two days we have examined a “rest of the story” element in two internationally published events; the beheadings of Coptic Christians in Libya this last February and a hijacked airliner from nearly 20 years ago. Both shared an interesting detail that was not immediately known. We believe there are many “rest of the stories;” some we hear about later on this side and many others we will hear about on the other side. Today we have one more,  not based upon events known internationally but rather a folksy story about a hymn many of us enjoyed since our childhood.

Note: Due to early start and long chaplaincy day a podcast was not prepared for this message.

“For this God is our God forever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14).

Tommy CarpenterTommy Carpenter is a friend from Arkansas we became acquainted with through Daily Encouragement about ten years ago. He is a veteran minister of the Gospel and missionary. We have been blessed to have him as a guest in our home several times and years ago he preached in the little country church where I served for several years as an interim pastor. He told a moving story that we’ll share in today’s message that he refers to is as “The rest of the story”:

Back in the early 1900’s singing schools were fairly common in the U.S., having had their origin in American History as early as the 1700’s. New systems of music notation, including shape notes, were developed by singing school teachers as an aid in learning to sing by sight without musical instrumentation.

Eugene BartlettTommy’s Uncle Carl was hosting songwriter Eugene M. Bartlett, the very popular songwriter and leader of a singing school, in his home in rural Arkansas in 1939. One morning Bartlett showed Carl the music and lyrics for a brand new song he had just written.

“I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory…” He then went on to share the entire song that we now know as “Victory In Jesus”. Of course the song has become one of the most beloved hymns of the church and is found in most hymnbooks.

Eugene Bartlett died in 1941, at 55 years of age, just two years after he wrote this song. But his wife, Joan Bartlett, lived many more years, in fact renewing the copyright in 1967.

When her time of death came the family and preacher gathered around her bedside. They looked on rather helplessly as she was in the final throes of death, her body ravaged and completely unresponsive.

Expecting to see her draw her final breath they were stunned by her sudden arousal as she broke into song:

I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.
O victory in Jesus…

At first her voice was very weak, but as she continued to sing the words became clearer and her voice grew stronger. She then sang the second verse:

I heard about His healing, of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.
O victory in Jesus…

Immediately after singing this verse and the chorus she died! The preacher, at a loss for words said, “I reckon she’s singing the third verse up yonder.” *

Victory In JesusWhat a way to go! And what a memorable demonstration of God’s presence and guidance even unto death.

Psalm 48 begins with the phrase, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised…” This Psalm is written by a group of singers known as the “Sons of Korah”. Most likely these were temple singers who lived during the period of the divided kingdom.

This Psalm extols God for His greatness, His deliverance, His unfailing love and other divine attributes. It includes a virtual Google Earth-like tour around the wall of the Holy City. “Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation” (12,13).

Psalm 48:14But the Psalm ends with our daily text which empowers us as we transmit the life-changing message of God’s truths to our own generation. Let us examine it today, consider its relevance, and receive its assurance:

“For this God is our God forever and ever.” This is our great eternal God! This God is our “Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend.” Consider His great acts throughout history.  Consider the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Moses, Joshua, Samuel and David; the God of Ruth, Esther, Mary, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel; the God of Peter, Stephen and Paul. Martin Luther, John Wesley, D.L. Moody, Jim Elliot, Billy Graham, and other contemporaries who stood the tests and finished or are finishing well. The God of so many not recorded in history books, who have stood firm throughout the long history of the church.

In your own life consider those who have walked faithfully with God and impacted your own life. Some are now with Christ; others still labor here below. Let us together with one heart and one voice declare, “This God is our God forever and ever! He will be our guide even unto death.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, when we consider the saints throughout history and the marvelous saving power portrayed in their lives we’re encouraged by their bold example and their consistent enduring walk with You.  We recognize these “greats” of the past and those in our own generation who are faithful and powerful examples. They do not build their own kingdom or take credit for their accomplishments. Instead they recognize that it is God alone who deserves our truest praise, no matter our own personal sacrifice. We gratefully declare to ourselves and to others, “This God is our God!  He will be forever and ever!  He will be our guide even unto death.”


*Interestingly the third verse of “Victory in Jesus” talks about “I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory…….and some sweet day I’ll sing up there the song of victory.” How fitting that the third verse would not be sung by Joan Bartlett on her death bed down here below, but she would “sing up there the song of victory!”, the precise lyrics that were written she would personally experience, from earth’s viewpoint!


Tommy & Nelma Carpenter 10/12/11Another “rest of the story”
Tommy and his wife Nelma last visited our home in October 2011 when they returned from a Mission Conference. Only a few days later Nelma and her grandson, Buck, entered into heaven via car accident. We’re so glad we took this photo as it was her last one. What a very difficult time it was for Tommy and Buck’s parents, for the whole Carpenter family and for all those they had ministered to over the years in their pastoral and missionary role. A couple years later God brought a godly woman named Jane into Tommy’s life and they entered into marriage.
Tommy in his “retirement” years serves at the Belize Bible Institute as professor.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Victory in Jesus”  Video  David Ring includes great overcoming testimony

“Victory in Jesus”  Video  Shane and Shane with Bethany Dillon A nice bluegrass version

“Victory In Jesus”  Video  Travis Cottrell

“Victory In Jesus”  Video  Prestonwood Choir & Orchestra (Big church sound)

“On The Other Side”  Video  Dailey and Vincent

Brooksyne’s further research on singing schools from an online encyclopedia:

Singing schools were often taught by traveling singing masters who would stay in a location for a few weeks and teach a singing school. A singing school would be a large social event for a town; sometimes nearly everyone in the town would attend and people would come for miles. Many young men and women saw singing schools as important to their courtship traditions. Sometimes the entire life of a town would be put on hold as everyone came out to singing school. In this way, singing schools resembled tent revivals.

Laura Ingalls Wilder related attending a singing school as a young lady in These Happy Golden Years, one of the Little House books. Her husband, Almanzo Wilder, courted her there.

One common tradition was the “singing school picture” taken of the teacher and students on the last day of school. Many old black and white photographs exist as records of these events from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; genealogical researchers often find these records useful. The pictures were often taken in front of a blackboard with the name of the teacher and date of the school. Some of these pictures show small classes, while others record very large schools.

Singing schools underwent many changes as cities grew and the population moved away from an agrarian lifestyle. One of the most notable changes was the length of schools; athebrews619elpishope one time it was common for schools to last four weeks. This was shortened over time, and today most of the larger singing schools last for two weeks, though the Gospel Singers of America School of Gospel Music still lasts for three weeks.

Singing schools began to hold less interest for the general public as time went on and could rarely get attendance from an entire town. Instead, schools were attended by interested students from a much larger region. In the case of Sacred Harp singing schools, students usually attended because of their interest in the Sacred Harp singing tradition; in other schools, students attended because of an interest in vocal church music, especially for those churches that maintain an all a capella music tradition.


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Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15Last night I went over to my neighbors to watch them shear their sheep.
These are waiting in the pen for their turn.
The Rest Of The Story: “Dying As A Courageous Witness”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?’ Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, ‘Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish’” (Esther 4:14-16).

Martyrs for ChristYesterday we shared a message about a remarkable conversion of a man from Chad that took place at the time the Egyptian Coptic Christians were martyred in February this year. It was a “rest of the story” message and prompts today’s message as well.

Today’s story took place about 20 years ago but only recently have I read the story we share today concerning a dying witness. We were living in New England in 1996 and recall the story of a hijacked plane going down in the Indian Ocean. A rather famous home video shows the plane going down. 125 of the 175 passengers and crew on board died. But again there is a “rest of the story”.

Flight 961In his book, “Acts: Courageous Witness in a Hostile World” Howard Brant shares:

“Ethiopian Airlines flight 961 was hijacked over the Indian Ocean. The pilot flew the aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. Fifty people survived.

On that aircraft was a British architect named Andy Meakens. He had been hired by an Ethiopian church to help them build their offices in Addis Ababa. He was a very shy man, hardly speaking more than greetings and necessary business discussions with his fellow workers.

At a memorial service for those who died in that crash, one of the survivors talked about Andy’s reaction when he knew the plane was going down. He calmly rose and went to the front of the airplane. There, in a clear, strong voice he shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with all the passengers.

It was reported that he even gave an invitation that day, and before they went to their deaths, many of the passengers put their trust in Jesus Christ. That is what the enabling and the boldness of the Holy Spirit means.”

Last week I referred to the passing of Stanley Horton, one of our Bible College professors, who died at 98 years of age and we shared a quote concerning his life, “Some people make a big splash in life. Others spread their impact more quietly over decades.”

Although we do not know how much impact for Christ Andy Meakens made before his death he certainly did so moments before his death in what was a horrific fatal splash.

Many years ago I heard a great teaching referring to “Esther moments”. These are those special times when God’s purpose for our life is especially apparent. This concept is based on the daily text when Mordecai encouraged Esther to take a stand. The Jews faced annihilation (as they so often have throughout history) and Esther was in a position to act for their preservation by appealing to the king.

Esther with MordecaiEsther’s uncle Mordecai* was confident that, in one way or another, the deliverance of the Jews would come about, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place.” Amazingly in the bigger picture God’s grand purposes are always fulfilled with or without our cooperation. However Mordecai challenged Esther to be the agent of God’s deliverance as expressed in the daily text, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Scripture records that Esther did listen to Mordecai and heeded his challenge to present herself to the king, even if it meant death. I like the resolute attitude she expressed when she made up her mind to be the mediator for her people: “If I perish, I perish.”  When we’re weighing various options there’s a point that we’ve got to make up our mind and act upon that decision, regardless of consequences, and Esther nobly did.

Through her outstanding example of devout faith, God sends a message to all true worshippers; we are not to fear the trials the world offers, but we are to persevere, even if it means death.

Today all over the world God is working through His people, accomplishing His purpose. At times we can especially sense His work through us in a specific way. Surely that was the case with Esther and many, many others such as Andy Meakens on Flight 961. What a great joy these experiences bring to our spiritual endeavors.

May the Lord grant us such “Esther moments” when we powerfully sense our purpose in fulfilling God’s plan. The 20 Coptic Christian men we wrote about yesterday surely sensed their “Esther moments” as their Christian witness influenced unbelievers who were also kidnapped and held captive in Libya prior to their beheading in February. We wrote about Mathew who was beheaded because of his newly found faith in Christ. He claimed it was due to the “immense faith” of these believers that he chose to be numbered among the 21 Coptic martyrs.

Our obedience to God may not bring front page news or even be known by more than a few. We might not immediately sense the significance of our obedience but obedience always brings personal blessing and it also blesses God while spreading His light in this darkened world. Let us stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, often times I am apprehensive when You speak to my heart like you did Esther, through Mordecai Your messenger. When I’m to do or say something that’s not within my comfort zone, my heart feels like it could explode and I become an emotional cripple because fear overtakes me.  It prevents me from stepping out in faith and following through with an obedient heart.  Would You remind me that there is great blessing when I follow Your leading. Help me not to fear the outcome, for that is not my responsibility. I need to leave that in Your hands. Thank You for Your enlisting me to be a part of your grand purpose in sharing the good news of salvation with the lost, strengthening the weak, and encouraging those whose hope has faded. I can’t do it within my own abilities but I can trust the Holy Spirit to equip me to be an uncompromising believer and bold witness for You through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

* Some versions indicate that Mordecai is Esther’s cousin.


Sheep Shearing Photos

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
It took three men to manhandle the ram out of the pen for his turn in getting sheared.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
They begin by shearing around his face and neck.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
Then they place him in the stand which locks his head in place.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
This Ewe was very good for her haircut! Maybe she remembers how good it feels to be cooler and lighter in weight.

Sheep shearing at Rutt farm 4/21/15
This freshly shorn ewe was missing her lamb, which was still in the pen. She belted out her unhappiness by persistently ba-a-a-ing loudly!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

A more detailed version of today’s story is found here with photos and video.

“The Old Rugged Cross”  Video  Kaoma  A very moving and interesting version! This is one man singing all four parts.

“I Have Decided To Follow Jesus” Video  Kaoma  Look closely and you will see a Billy Bass in the video just like I have in my barn!


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.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Churchview 4/19/15 (Click to enlarge)A peaceful rural scene from our church entrance.
(Click for larger photo)

Please note: Today’s message is a bit longer but we believe it will inspire, refresh, and fortify your faith.

The Rest Of The Story:”Their God Is My God”
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword” (Acts 12:1,2).

Practically daily now we are hearing reports of horrific atrocities to Christians, especially now in Africa. But it’s all over and of course in so much of the Middle East. Most recently (although this could change by the time you read this) it is another group of Christians slain in Libya, this time from Ethiopia.

Many of us recall the story and graphic image of the beheadings of the Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya this February. Sadly we can hear so much news like this that we grow numb.

This morning I read an amazing story of faith from The Voice Of The Martyrs, a ministry focusing on persecution. I recall when I first saw the iconic photo on the beach I noticed a young black man among those slain. I didn’t give it a lot of thought since I assume there are a variety of races in Egypt including black. But there is more to the story and it will move you. We might call it “the rest of the story” (at least the part witnessed on this side).

“Initially, it was believed that all of the men killed for their faith were from small villages in Egypt. However, the name and background of one of those killed, a black man, was unknown. Mathew Ayairga was soon identified by friends after being recognized in video footage of the killings released by ISIS. According to Ahram-Canadian News, Mathew was from Chad. Mathew had gone missing in January 2015, captured by one of the radical groups in Libya who have kidnapped hundreds, both Muslim and Christian.

The video made public on February 15 shows each of the Christian men dressed in orange jumpsuits, kneeling on a beach, with their black-clothed attackers standing behind them. Each one is systematically beheaded, and the video clearly shows many of the men crying out, “Lord Jesus Christ” in their final moments.

Martyrs for ChristAccording to reports, Mathew Ayairga was not a Christian. However, when moments before his death the ISIS extremists demanded that he follow Islam, Mathew turned them down. After reportedly witnessing the “immense faith” of the Egyptian believers, he decided to become a follower of Christ.

On camera, one of the terrorists asked Matthew, “Do you reject Christ?” “Their God is my God,” he responded, and he became one of the 21 men who died for his faith in Christ.”

Consider the amazing testimony of the Coptic Christians (their names are listed in the linked article below), demonstrating “immense faith” at their time of greatest trial. They could have renounced their faith and lived but instead they chose to obey Christ for an infinitely greater reward.

Consider Mathew Ayairga, who was caught up in the mess. At the beginning he apparently was not committed and could easily have scorned Christ and obeyed the call to follow Islam, but that which he saw in his fellow captors must have been utterly amazing. The phrase “immense faith” is part of the story but one can only conjecture how this faith was so powerfully demonstrated. He uttered a powerful expression of faith, “Their God is my God”.

Our favorite Bible stories include Bible characters whose colorful personalities are filled with adventure and suspense. We’re especially inspired and emboldened when God delivers and grants them a bit more time on this earth against impossible odds, humanly speaking. Stories like the three Hebrew boys deliverance from the fiery furnace, Daniel’s deliverance from the lion’s den, or Peter’s deliverance from Herod’s sword.

But many in Scripture gave up their lives as martyrs, most whose names we do not know; such as the “others” mentioned in Hebrews 11:35ff: “Others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

Stephen is the first recorded Christian martyr following the resurrection of Christ and establishment of the Church. The account of his stoning provides details of his passing (Acts 6,7).

Today’s text has often intrigued me. James is the second martyr recorded and the account merely matter-of-factly states, “Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword” (Acts 12:1,2).

Now while being quite respectful to the Holy Scriptures I sure would like to hear the rest of this story but will have to wait till heaven to hear it. This was James, the brother of John. the same James who was in the inner circle of the three disciples “Peter, James and John”.

But just like the modern story of Mathew Ayairga, we are quite sure we will one day hear more about this story and meet the people whose lives were changed because of it. One of the ways God is glorified in one’s martyrdom is that it brings about redemptive value right in the midst of evil and loss.

And it’s true for other apparent mysteries of life. One day we will hear “the rest of the story”. “Only one life ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we recognize that our life is a gift from You and the life we live is our gift back to You. You give us guidance in how to live our lives through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit gives us power to overcome the evil one and courage to stand for righteousness in the very face of evil. Even as we are witnessing evil acts of terror all over the world we are also hearing the names and seeing the faces of those whose faith in Christ has made them the target of these evildoers. We admire and respect their bravery and refusal to renounce their faith so their lives can be spared. Instead they look beyond their horrible ordeal, the loved ones they will leave behind, and they must surely fix their hearts on their eternal resting place. In this age when many church leaders are presenting watered down sermons and teachings, softening the commands of Scripture to make them palatable to those whose loyalties are torn between living for Christ and living for the world, bring to our minds people like Mathew Ayairga. A man, drawn by the Holy Spirit, who came to Christ because he esteemed the uncompromising faith of the Coptic Christians of Libya who were willing to lay down their lives for the cause. Because he too laid down his life Mathew’s Christian life was short on this side, but throughout the eons of time, we who believe and practice what we believe will have fellowship with our brother, Mathew. Help us to be strong and ever hopeful as we fix our gaze on that which lies beyond the grave, as we seek to glorify You whether in life or in death. Through Christ we pray. Amen.


Tomorrow we will have another, “The Rest Of The Story” message.


In the course of preparing this message I came across a stark analysis this morning. One commentator, whom I believe to be trustworthy, commented on recent events and news reports of ISIS cells all over America, “A modern-day Holocaust is unfolding. There’s been another purported mass killing of Christians in the Middle East. It’s only a matter of time before the Islamic extremist savages target American churches.”


Some peaceful scenes from Lancaster County

1949 Ford pickup
Sunday morning we passed this 1949 Ford pickup for sale on the way to church. If anyone is interested and wants to acquire this handsome piece of vehicular history, please invite Brooksyne and me to take a ride in it, front or back!

Amish church parking lot 4/19/15
Our neighbors, Elam and Naomi Stoltzfus, had church at their home on Donegal Springs Road this last Lord’s Day and we snapped this photo of the “parking lot”. I suppose it’s a bit different than most church parking lots our readers use!

Mollie jumping for rings
Although she is now over four years old our border collie Mollie has not lost her puppy-like interest or energy to play! She never wears out, but we do! Ester captured these two photos with Mollie in full action.

Mollie with rope toy
She especially likes it when I invent new games!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Report used in today’s message from Mission Network News.

The ISIS war against ‘the people of the cross’

“Martyrs of the Christian Faith” A blog post with short video chronicling the various way Christians have been martyred (graphic)

Mundane Faithfulness: A friend, perhaps expressing the sentiments of many responded to our post last week “I am often tempted to despair because I feel my life is “mundane” and I don’t possess a lot of talents with which to bless others.  But I intend to be faithful to that which the Lord has called me, and do it to the best of my ability.”

My note: The greatest people-blessers to me are not necessarily those with talents but those who are faithful! And the older I get the more that is true.

“Now I Know Him”  Video  Joseph Habedank

Today’s message shares a similar message as Ruth.  Video

This powerful story has a similar element to the account in today’s message:

“Forty Brave Soldiers For Jesus”  Video

In Armenia around 320 AD, there was a company of forty Roman soldiers known as the Thundering Legion. When the Governor discovered they were Christians, he was very angry and threatened to have them killed. But the governor was also anxious to spare them because these soldiers were amongst the bravest in the army. He promised them money and honors if they would only consent to worship the gods which the Emperor worshipped.

One responded, “You offer us money that remains behind, and glory that fades away.” They told him that they would rather die than renounce their faith.

This answer further enraged the governor so he ordered them to die a slow painful death. He commanded them to be stripped of their clothes and placed upon the ice of a frozen lake until they froze to death. At the same time he gave orders that a large tank of warm water should be placed at the side of the ice, so that if any of them should wish to renounce Jesus Christ and save his life, he might be taken off the lake and put into the warm water.

When these good soldiers were put upon the ice, they encouraged each other to not be afraid of dying. “One night of suffering,” they said, “and then an eternity of happiness in Heaven.” They prayed that their number would remain 40 and they could all persevere to the end.

I heard a song about these soldiers some 20 years ago by Tom Green. In the song’s chorus, they encourage each other by singing, “Forty soldiers for Jesus, Forty brave soldiers for Christ . . .” They endured this torture for many hours and then the cold finally became too much for one of them. He asked for one of the soldiers guarding them to carry him to safety and the warm bath. No sooner had he been put into the bath than he died.

The shivering soldiers became discouraged and saddened that now there were 39 instead of the 40 they had prayed for. They began to sing with less enthusiasm, “Thirty-nine soldiers for Jesus . . .”

Suddenly one of the ‘pagan’ guards who had observed the soldiers, tore off his clothes and ran onto the lake singing, “FORTY brave soldiers for Jesus!”

As the next day dawned, 40 brave soldiers stood before their true King and heard Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”


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Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
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Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

“Calling Good Evil”

April 20, 2015

Foggy morning 4/18/15
Scene from our front lawn early Saturday morning with fog and lots of green!
(Click for larger photo)

“Calling Good Evil”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

Wesley ModderIn June I will be attending a chaplain training conference and I hope to meet Chaplain Wesley Modder, a longtime Navy chaplain who who at one time served the Navy Seals. He’s had a distinguished career and has been well regarded by those whom he serves.

However with our country’s descending slide into decadence he is now in trouble for doing his job. Approached by a sailor with a request for counsel regarding a sexual issue he answered in accordance to the Bible supported by his long-held beliefs and convictions. You might say he gave the politically incorrect answer. He actually called evil, evil! It was a set-up and now he is under intense scrutiny and will possibly be discharged.

We expect more and more of this as our nation increasingly rejects God and His ways.

Yesterday I preached a message on “Raising Godly children in an ungodly age”. I pointed out my conviction that a truly Biblical message should be appropriate in any generation. In other words the message I preached yesterday should have been just as truthful 50, 100 or 1000 years ago or even in the apostolic age, though cultural customs vary due to improved sanitation and modern conveniences.

We have used the daily text many times in the course of writing these messages, especially the first part, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” Evil is increasingly called good. Evil has existed during every generation after the fall, yet in the past it would be determined as an evil period in the historical accountings. For instance just 50 years ago the church, whether liberal branches or conservative, was practically unanimous in its understanding of marriage, family and sexuality. For that matter even society was. Hollywood used to have biblical standards developed by a devout Presbyterian minister!

Now the steady erosion of calling evil good has brought about the inevitable corollary; good is called evil. And with a deep fog of spiritual blindness enveloping our country (and many others) people are frustrated and confused. A nationally known preacher recently made a statement concerning our present moral condition that was imminently Biblical and sensible regarding the obvious consequences to children being raised without a father’s influence. He was excoriated by the national media with the typical charges of being intolerant, narrow-minded and of course hateful.

Among the signs of our culture’s moral downfall is the failure to uphold the Creator’s standards, which has led to great confusion as to what even constitutes evil.

What a powerful message in our daily text. Isaiah’s “woe” is timeless. “Woe” is a literal transliteration of the Hebrew. In other words it’s an expression that sounds the same in Hebrew, English or any language (similar to the word, “hallelujah”). Woe is also an onomatopoeia, which is when the formation of a word imitates the natural sound associated with the object or action involved. Consider the sounds of deep, painful wailing.

Woe is an exclamation of pain and grief. As our culture drifts farther and farther from its Biblical moorings we see the truth of Isaiah’s proclamation. Do we also feel his exclamation of woe?

What is the source of this woe? Three are listed in the daily text.

Those:
1) who call evil good and good evil,
2) who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
3) who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Biblical morality is being turned on its head, not only in Isaiah’s cultural setting but also in our lifetime. Sometimes I am stunned by what is now so contrary to the right and wrong I was taught as a child and was once commonly believed by believers and non-believers alike. But today much of what is evil is called good and what is good is called evil.

Today let us remain faithful to the perspective that God gives us through the inspiration of Scripture. As unpopular, “intolerant”, socially insensitive, and politically incorrect as it may be described, let us continue to call evil “evil”.

As God’s children let us hear the words of the apostle Paul and “hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we do not want to be overcome by evil but we want to overcome evil with good, as determined in Scripture. And the way we do this is to absorb, maintain, and uphold the Scriptural understanding of good and evil. We pray against authorities, personalities, and persuasive rhetoric that tempt us to compromise or water down the truths we learn from Scripture. The contrasts of light vs. darkness, good vs. evil, the spiritual nature vs. the sinful nature are abundant in Scripture. May the guiding light by which we live our lives in these evil days be the light of Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Additional thoughts: When we soft pedal the meaning of evil we also water down the meaning of sin. It is rather common now to hear Christians, when referring to a sinful act as “I made a mistake” or “I used poor judgment.” Both expressions might be true but James puts it much more bluntly, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (NASV)  God desires that we come to Him and confess our sins. If we have sinned against another we have responsibility to approach that person(s), confess our sin, and ask forgiveness.

The slide into decadence continues and the notion of determining morality by majority is deeply flawed. I have long had a concern regarding the strategy of the pro-life and traditional marriage position (both of which I hold) in appealing to opinion polls. Will abortion or alternative arrangements of marriage become “good” when the opinion polls indicate a majority favor it? Surely not!

I consider how many moral changes have come about simply by majority ruling. The words of Paul in Colossians 2:8 give us a very wise caution that we should pay close attention to: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Consider Biblical history:

* A majority gathered around the golden calf when Moses was on the mountain in direct defiance of God’s command.
* A majority sided with the prophets of Baal in Elijah’s epic contest.
* A majority bowed before Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
* And a majority cried out “Crucify Him!” *

* Scripture references: Exodus 32, 1 Kings 18, Daniel 3, Matthew 27

Good News! Thank God there is a remedy for evil. God’s grace is greater than our sin. Fanny Crosby excluded no one when she wrote, “the vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”  Frank Bottome marveled that he who was once “a child of hell, should in His image shine.”  And William Cowper describes the fountain of sinless, life-giving blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins as powerful enough to save to the uttermost, “The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in His day, and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.” In a song from our own age, the Hoppers declare, “Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin!”


Friday evening I took two Amish fathers, along with their sons, to a Hershey Bears hockey game. We all had a great time.

Newborn kid goat 4/17/15
The big kid with the little kid!
(Little Eli showed me his baby kid goat born just last week and snapped my photo.)

Lapp children scooters 4/17/15
The children ride to school on their scooters.

Kid goat and dairy cow 4/17/15
Kid goat meets Adult cow for first time.
Mama doesn’t seem too interested or concerned!

Hershey Bears hockey game 4/17/15
This is the first hockey game I’ve ever attended. It’s never been a sport I especially enjoyed but sure has a lot of intense action.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin”  Video  The Hoppers

“Every Saint Has A Past Every Sinner Has A Future”  Video  A great testimonial song sung by Guy Penrod

In Friday’s message we referred to a story I had heard on a radio program but at the time I couldn’t remember which one and reconstructed the story from memory. I found my notes. It was told by Joe Battaglia from his book titled, “The Politically Incorrect Jesus: Living Boldly in a Culture of Unbelief”

Here’s the story in Battaglia’s own words (much better then I recalled it!)

There is no more right or wrong in setting standards of morality because there is no one truth. No cause, no effect. I became acutely aware of this scenario in a rather strange way – by shopping with my daughter some 8-10 years ago. Sounds rather innocent, but a closer look revealed something more insidious.

While we were at a mall, my daughter asked to go into a very hip, fashionable store for teens to buy a shirt. It must have been more than 20 years since I’d set foot in that store. As I entered, I stopped dead in my tracks. I thought I was in the wrong store i- that I’d walked into an X-rated video establishment. Pictures of half-naked young women (probably not much older than my daughter) lying on top of equally undressed young men adorned the walls.

After spending my life in marketing and communication, there was no mistaking what those images and messages were meant to convey. They were very clear – our culture has sacrificed the innocence of our youth on the altar of sexual glorification. It’s no longer about selling clothes; it’s more about selling our souls. We decry the way our wives and daughters are disparaged over their body images and seen as sexual objects, yet promulgate the very lifestyles and clothing lines that lead to the thing we denounce. We have become a schizophrenic society.

But wait, the story did not end there. My daughter knew me all too well. She knew I’d likely say something and not merely slip away into the night, momentarily decrying the decadence of the situation and then doing nothing. As I stood in the line waiting to pay for the shirt, I grew madder by the minute. Let’s just call it righteous indignation.

As I approached the counter to pay, I observed the young man and young woman who were standing there to serve us. They were probably around 19 or 20 years old. I placed the shirt on the counter and then informed the young man that I was really offended by the display on the walls. “Please pass my comments on to the manager,” I insisted.

Of course, I didn’t stop there, even though my daughter, embarrassed by my approach, was turning quite red. I asked the young man, “How do you feel about working in this environment, particularly working alongside a young lady?”

Then I asked her, “How do you feel about all of this? Are you offended, even a little bit? Does this promote the wholesome way in which you’d like to be perceived by the young man working alongside you? I guess it was the journalist in me that needed to ask the obvious questions, as I saw them.

As my daughter muttered under her breath, “Dad, they don’t care,” the young man eyed me. “I wish my father cared as much,” he said. That was his exact quote. I’ll never forget it.

As we left the store, my daughter sighed. “You know, he had to say that.”

“No,” I replied, “he could have said any number of things, like, ‘I’ll tell my manager.'” To this day I’m convinced he said what he said because it was on his heart to say it.

From here


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.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

“Azariah’s Parents”

April 17, 2015

Amish school recess 4/16/15
We enjoyed a beautiful Spring day yesterday and, in the course of our visitation travels, we passed several Amish schools with the wholesome sight of children playing outside during recess. Spring is a lot more exciting after a cold, snowy winter!

“Azariah’s Parents”
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

Changing church signThis coming Lord’s Day I have an opportunity to preach in our church since our pastor is away visiting family. I am preaching a message that has been on my heart for sometime. We are going to consider Azariah’s parents. Now here’s an interesting quiz. Just who is Azariah? You can stop now and think about it, look it up, or of course in a few paragraphs we will answer!

The message title I placed on the church sign last Sunday is “Raising Godly Children”. I wanted it to also have “In An Ungodly World” but didn’t have the room!

Consider the Biblical period described just prior to the Babylonian Exile. The nation of Judah had a succession of evil leadership, the people overall had turned far from from God, and judgment was imminent. 2 Chronicles 36:14-16 describes this period: “Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the Lord which He had sanctified in Jerusalem. The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy.”

Raising Godly ChildrenDoes that sound similar to the times in which we live? In the Scriptural record we know only the names of a few people who lived at this time such as the kings and the prophet Jeremiah. But there were others whose names are not recorded; other prophets who remained true to the Lord and everyday moms and dads who were seeking to raise their children in the ways of the Lord. They were surely in the minority and the pull of the world was forceful just like it is now raising kids in our age.

Now back to Azariah, did you figure out who he is or did you look him up? He’s a real person identified early in the Book of Daniel along with three other faithful young men who were taken captive to Babylon. You can read about him here. However he is best known by the name given to him by the Babylonians; Abednego.

We know these men proved faithful to God early in the Book of Daniel and most notoriously in their furnace trial recorded in chapter 3. They refused to bow down to the golden idol Nebuchadnezzar had made.

But what do we know about Azariah’s parents (or the parents of the others for that matter)? Actually nothing! However these young men who had such deep convictions surely did not grow up in a spiritual vacuum (or at least it’s highly unlikely). We contend that Azariah and his friends, who grew up during the terrible time described in the long selection from 2 Chronicles above, surely had godly parents, grandparents and perhaps other positive influences that prepared them to remain faithful to God.

So what can we reasonably conjecture about Azariah’s parents?

1) Likely his parents raised him using the Law of Moses that has some timeless guidelines for child-rearing such as Deuteronomy 6, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (VV 6-9).

2) The Proverbs have some great teaching tips such as “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

3) Although Azariah’s parents wouldn’t have had this truth in writing the concept is surely long held that we are to “bring them (children) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

4) His parents surely knew and practiced the vital parental element of discipline.

5) Although not always the case, even in kids that turn out right, we will assume that his parents provided a good example!

Let us make a renewed resolve to faithfully pass on God’s truth to the next generation and hope like Azariah they stand faithful when the time of testing comes.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we’re given the example of sterling young men like Azariah, and his fellow Hebrew friends, who refused the Babylonian king’s orders, to bow down to the golden image. Surely they were weary of enduring the daily testing as they were few in number standing against the godless culture of their day. Was it the teachings their parents presented of Moses who stood time after time before the godless Pharoah as he sought the release of the Jews? Was it the story of God providing a ram just seconds before Abraham was going to slay his only son, Isaac? Was it their parents who reinforced that God always comes through in His perfect timing to provide for their needs or deliver them from trouble? Perhaps they’d witnessed numerous challenges their parents were dealt as they remained steadfast in their faith. In the land of many gods they continued to bow down to only one, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We ask your blessings upon all who seek to pass on Biblical faith to their children and equip them to stand when the day of evil comes. In our Lord’s mighty Name we pray. Amen


Some further thoughts:

We didn’t really comment on the daily text in the context of our message today. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). It’s a great verse and surely the aspiration of any parent and spiritual leader. There’s no greater joy for parents than to see their children walking in the truth and the same is true for those in leadership. John may have had his spiritual children in mind; that is those he had taught and impacted for the Lord. It’s interesting when we get notes from African readers who address us as “Mom and Dad”!

*******

Several weeks ago I heard a story on the radio that touched my heart and then found it on the web (part of a book). Today I couldn’t find it again but will seek to reconstruct from memory:

A father went to a store in the mall with his daughter to make a purchase for her and observed the practically pornographic images on the walls (I think we have a store like that in our mall). As he checked out he asked a young store clerk what she thought working in such a lust-inducing environment. His daughter was so embarrassed at her dad’s questions. He then asked a male employee what he thought. His red-faced daughter quickly answered, “Dad, they don’t care.” The young man looked at them and in earnest said, “I wish I had a father that cared like you.”

*******

Mark Pulliam, a longtime friend, shared regarding our message Wednesday: “I do believe that God is trying to warn us that persecution is headed our way sooner then we could ever imagine. The Cross is an object of derision, scorn and neglect by most in the circles I am in.  Christianity is assumed to always be the ‘norm’ but those of this world are blind to the battle that is being raged by Satan.”


Some scenes from a beautiful spring day in Lancaster County

Purple Martin birdhouse 4/16/15
Yesterday, near New Holland, we stopped by an Amish farm to pick up some bronze red Canna bulbs from a woman who resides there. We noticed the giant Purple Martin house which can be raised and lowered like a flag!

Red Cannas on Amish farm near New Holland, PA 9/4/14
Here’s a photo from last summer of what we hope to grow this summer. Brooksyne saw them on an Amish farm we pass weekly and was drawn to the striking bronze leaves since we’ve only grown those with green leaves. Last fall we drove back into the farm and inquired as to whether we might buy some canna bulbs after they’re dug up in the fall. Turns out they sell them at auction but Mary, the farmer’s wife, kindly told Brooksyne to come back in the spring and she would give her some, a promise kept yesterday, though Brooksyne offered to pay!

Kitchen Kettle Village 4/16/15
We stopped and walked through the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse where many were out enjoying the pleasant Spring day. We both enjoy the samples in the canning kitchen!

Banjo Jim at Kitchen Kettle Village 4/16/15
Banjo Jim was out playing.
He’s been a part of the musicians at Kitchen Kettle Village for many years.
Here’s a video someone posted of Jim.

Lancaster countryside 4/16/15
A scenic country view near Intercourse Pennsylvania

Doc Paglia 4/16/15
We also ran into an old friend following several chaplain visits. D.J. (Doc) Paglia is also a chaplain to a business, he and his wife serving for many years at Keystone Custom Cabinets. Doc is in his late eighties but stays active in the Lord’s work and told us he had conducted a funeral this last Saturday and preached on Sunday! Doc- the energizer bunny!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Family Prayer Song”  Video  Maranatha Singers  We’ll be asking the people to make a fresh commitment to serving the Lord this Sunday and conclude the service with this song.

“As for Me and My House”  Video  John Waller Powerful song and images of men making the right choice! Plus you get to see a man singing on a skyscraper roof.

“Find Your Wings”  Video   Mark Harris An outstanding song for parents striving to raise Godly children.

“The Keeper”  Video   Geoff Moore And The Distance

“Somewhere In The World”  Video  Wayne Watson  In what surely must be one of the most tender and most unintentionally romantic songs of all time, a Christian father prays for the future wife of his little boy.

Finally today:

This evening I will be taking two Amish fathers and their sons to a hockey game in Hershey. I am not much of a hockey fan but the boys asked me to take them and they are so excited, having been pestering me for months with, “When are you gonna take us to a hockey game?” A couple of days ago a Eli called all excited about something and I just couldn’t understand what he was saying and figured it must be something about the hockey game. He persisted and finally I understood… his female goat had a new kid!


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.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Mural at Teen Haven, Lancaster PAMural at Teen Haven youth center in Lancaster, PA

“Christ Is Still Changing Lives!”
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I believe that the Christ Who was slain on the cross,
Has the power to change lives today.
For He changed me completely, a new life is mine.
That is why by the cross I will stay.

KK Mechanical Workday 2015We had a great day yesterday. We joined one of our companies in a community service day. JK Mechanical, an HVAC company we serve as chaplains, has about 100 employees and each year they take a day to serve the community. Yesterday they worked at the Water Street Mission, Teen Haven and at Thaddeus Stevens, a local trade school. Many of the employees were able to use specific skills in installing and repairing HVAC but others were involved in projects like painting and cleaning. Brooksyne and I sought to walk through the project areas, help out some, and visit with the various employees as they worked. At one point for me this involved climbing up a narrow hatch to a roof where several were working!

A goal in our ministry is sharing some truth and light in whatever situation we are in with whomever we may encounter. Yesterday it may not have been our “official” ministry but we also enjoyed engaging with the various people who work at the Mission.

Teen Haven is an inner city ministry working with children and youth that uses a facility several blocks from the Water Street Mission. I walked over and visited with the JK employees who were working over there. My eye was immediately drawn to the mural painted on a concrete wall that serves as our lead photo today. It reminds me of a similar mural that is at our local youth center. I removed a projector screen that was partially blocking the mural to take a photo and asked for assistance in placing it back up. A young man smiled and, due to his lesser height, he grabbed a small ladder to assist me.  He introduced himself as Jose Jimenez, the director of the Teen Haven.

Jose Jimenez 4/15/15I enjoy hearing people’s stories and he shared his with me. He had moved down to Lancaster from Massachusetts with his family when he was eight and a short time later his father was incarcerated. He began attending Teen Haven activities and recalled specific people who shared Christ’s love with him. However he, like so many, did not make a full commitment to Christ through much of the next ten years.

But upon turning eighteen years old he made a full surrender to Christ and his life was dramatically changed. He went back to the youth center to inform and thank them for their influence. To his surprise they offered him a summer job and he’s been there ever since.

I told him I would like to share his story and we walked outside for a photo posing him beside the “Changing Lives” sign. He looked up and said “Jesus Christ changes lives!” Amen to that!

We are glad we serve a God who is in the life-changing business! He’s still changing lives today and Jose is one of them. Now he in turn, like those who reached out to him as a child, is reaching out to provide a haven of mercy, love and forgiveness to inner city youth. In spite of all the spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits that come from serving the Lord it can be very hard ministry with many setbacks and disappointments.

Sonny OliverI rejoice in the work of God seen in the immediate transformation at the time of belief and the slow progressive transformation over a lifetime of following Christ. I rejoice at change demonstrated by longterm faithfulness. Jose goes to a church where one of the pastors is Sonny Oliver (right), a friend from Bible College who has a wonderful testimony we wrote about many years ago. (See below for link to this message.)

The Apostle Paul wrote describing this wonderful change, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul experienced that change in his life and he rejoiced in the changed lives he had ministered to. John Newton, the former slave trader best known for writing “Amazing Grace”, said before he died, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things – that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”

I believe in a hill called Mount Calv’ry,
I’ll believe whatever the cost.
And when time has surrendered and earth is no more,
I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross. *

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, there is no sin too great that Your mercy is not greater.  We were born with a sin problem, but You provided the solution for our sin sick souls through the wondrous sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  We could never be good enough, rich enough, famous enough, or smart enough – nothing we offer is enough.  Anything we offer is sin-based because of our human condition and all that Christ offers is sin-less because He is the divine Lamb without spot or blemish. Only Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, is enough to pay for our sins and begin the wonderful work of transforming us into Your likeness. Thank You for Your gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* “I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary”  Video  GVB Next week we are looking forward to joining with a group of friends at the Gaither &Friends Homecoming Concert in Hershey! This has long been one of my favorite songs.

“I Believe”  Video  Dailey and Vincent

“Since Jesus Came Into My Heart”  Video  Homecoming Singers  Anyone else recall singing this old gospel song!

Sonny Oliver’s testimony

Water Street  Our Purpose: To advance the kingdom of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ and do missionary, relief & rescue work of all kinds.  Video

Teen Haven Teen Haven is a ministry of Water Street Mission, allowing our vision of changing lives to reach the next generation. This is where Jose works.

1st Water Street Mission convertI, Brooksyne, was deeply touched as I saw this historic plaque next to the photo of the founders of Water Street Mission, Dr. & Mrs. Sieber, along with their first convert, Sarah Kuhns. (Unfortunately the dated photo did not take well.) I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of people have been converted over the past century at missions all over the world – those who are located in the heart of the cities reaching out to the many homeless who are without the basic elements for living and the basic reason for existence, that is, hope!


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