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Petunias in Silverton, CO 7/8/16Petunias in Silverton, Colorado

“Clinging To Worthless Idols”

Personal note:  I (Stephen) continue to have severe lower back pain. Walking, sitting, standing, or turning over, are temporarily huge mobility issues that I once took for granted. With Brooksyne’s assistance we are endeavoring to send out this devotional message today. Thanks to the many who are uplifting me in prayer until this affliction passes.

Message Summary: Good works are an outflow of God’s amazing grace, not a replacement! Accept God’s generous grace today and proclaim with the Palmist, “But with You there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4).

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).

The verb, “cling” is used in a number of different contexts. During this time of year when fresh fruit is readily available it’s used to describe peaches which are “cling-stone” vs. those that are “free-stone”. With free-stone the pulp doesn’t stubbornly cling to the pit making the peach easier and quicker to eat (or cut up for a peach cobbler, should Brooksyne be so inclined). The cling-stone peach has a pit that clings stubbornly to the pulp.

Cling is normally not a desirable quality. Dryer sheets are used to keep clothes from clinging to one another. Even in human relationships the word “cling” has a rather negative connotation as we don’t want someone clinging to us unless it is our needy infant or toddler which they tend to when they are not feeling well.

We see the word “cling” used in yet another context today from the brief four chapter book of Jonah. It is part of the prayer Jonah prayed inside the whale prior to his “deliverance” in chapter 2:10.  He makes a powerful theological point using the word concerning, “Those who cling to worthless idols.”

What were the “worthless idols” Jonah was referring to in the daily text? Likely he meant the objects of worship that we normally associate with idolatry in the Bible. Bible commentator Albert Barne’s considers worthless idols as, “All people’s idols, idols of the flesh, idols of intellect, idols of ambition, idols of pride, idols of self and self-will. People ‘observe’ them, as gods, watch them, hang upon them, never lose sight of them, guard them as though they could keep them. But what are they? ‘lying vanities,’ breath and wind, which none can grasp or detain, vanishing like air into air.”

However in light of the current political season here in America, regardless of party, candidate or ideological position, many it seems place their hope in a person to make things right. I sure see, more so this year than I can ever recall in both parties, a tendency for many people to idolize their candidate. The first part of the verse is very descriptive, “Those who cling to worthless idols.”

But today we consider the verse in its context. There are those who grew up in church and in religious homes and yet have an inferior understanding of grace. They may be extra hard on themselves and judgmental toward others. They may have difficulty accepting God’s forgiveness or His assurance of their personal salvation that leads to peace and the abundant life.

Trying to attain righteousness with God through good works is a “worthless idol” that many cling to and thereby “forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” The clear New Testament teaching on this matter states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). This leads to truly resting in the all sufficient grace of Jesus and having a lasting and peaceful assurance of our salvation!

The Bill Gaither Vocal Band sings a great song, “Child, You’re Forgiven” which has a powerful expression in it: “I’ve traded performance for amazing grace.  What a relief, I can’t earn my way.” Do you identify with the expression, “What a relief, I can’t earn my way?”

The late Jerry Bridges notes, “God’s grace does not supplement our good works. Instead His grace overcomes our bad works, which are our sins.” Erwin Lutzer observes, “When the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand stripped of all our accustomed defenses, we are candidates for God’s generous grace.”

Good works are an outflow of God’s amazing grace, not a replacement! Accept God’s generous grace today and proclaim with the Palmist, “But with You there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, as we experience amazing grace through Your forgiveness of our sins it compels us to show compassion to others who have not yet applied Your grace to their lives. As Jude writes, we are to “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” In reaching out to others who are still living in sin help us to be discerning, wise, and cautious, always loving the sinner but never embracing or justifying the sin. May our redeemed lives be living examples of the freedom we enjoy in this life after we forsake worthless idols in exchange for the grace that is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose Name we pray. Amen.

Musser and Dourte 7/3/16
During our years of living in New England people got excited about clam bakes, but here in Lancaster County people get excited about corn roasts. I, Brooksyne, took  Jesse and Wilma Dourte (front row) to a corn roast given in honor of Carole Musser’s birthday who’s standing next to her husband, Don, who happens to be Jesse’ nephew. What a great evening with lots and lots of delicious corn. Jesse, who’s a small man & 92 years of age, put away 3 ears of corn in a matter of minutes. I limited myself to two but could have enjoyed more. It was a lovely evening.

Flagstaff, Durango and Silverton

Today I will share the final set of photos from the trip I made to the Southwest for a Chaplaincy Conference in Phoenix two weeks ago.

Flagstaff Weatherford Hotel 7/5/16
Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff

Flagstaff Monte Vista Hotel 7/5/16
Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff

Flagstaff train display 7/5/16
Train displays in Flagstaff.

Flagstaff train display 7/5/16

Mike with stage coach in Durango, CO 7/8/16
My brother Mike standing in front of a stage coach in Durango.

Flower wagon in Silverton, CO 7/8/16
A children’s wagon flower display in Silverton, Colorado.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Child, You’re Forgiven”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band


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

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

Praying manFather, we may experience peace because You are in control. We thank You for the Word of God which prepares our hearts for whatever time period You have ordained for us to live. “Therefore our hope is in You, for You are the one who does all this.” We must be diligent and faithful, serving You all the days of our life and all the while “testifying to the gospel of Your grace.” How blessed we are! Amen.

 

This Daily Prayer is from this Daily Encouragement message.

Monument Valley 7/9/16A view of the Monument Valley approaching from Utah
(Click to enlarge)

“Our Hope Is In You”

Personal note: For several days now I (Stephen) have had severe lower back pain, making walking very painful. Although we made our chaplain visits together the last three days today I am staying in, hopefully to give my back a rest and see the problem resolved (healed). Brooksyne is going solo today on our chaplain visits to two companies and I have done my best to see the message is editorially clean without her final read.

Message Summary: Today the immutable God is still at work controlling nature and everything else in all His creation. May this bring assurance to you today with all the uncertainty in our world, nations and in our own lives. In times past He has ordained periods of drought to come and remind mankind Who’s really in charge and certainly that could happen again. Indeed, let us all “praise God from whom all blessings flow” and acknowledge with Jeremiah the absolute source of our hope this day and every day. “Therefore our hope is in You, for You are the one who does all this.”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is You, O LORD our God. Therefore our hope is in You, for You are the one who does all this” (Jeremiah 14:22).

We usually describe good weather as a sunny day with no rain. After all, who wants it to rain on your picnic? Of course about every day someone is having a picnic, going to the park or doing something in which they wish for good weather.

In our region we have rains scattered throughout the year so it tends to stay very green from the buds of Spring till the seasonal change in Autumn. Even in the winter the conifer trees and winter wheat stay green. In other regions they have specific rainy seasons and then a long period without or scarcely any rain. Then there’s the desert where it hardly ever rains.

Last week I was at a chaplain’s meeting in Phoenix and experienced the desert for the first time in my life. It was very hot. At one point the thermometer in my car read 119 degrees. Some say, “But it’s a dry hot” and then I heard this comment, “But a blow torch is also a dry hot!” I enjoyed the several days I spent in that region but was sure ready to return home. Although 4 million people live in the Phoenix area and it’s growing rapidly I don’t think desert living is for me. Rather I suppose the line from the old TV series comes to mind, “Farm living is the life for me” although I don’t really on a farm!

Looking down from a plane from Phoenix through west Texas it is mostly a brown parched landscape except for river valleys. As we moved east it got greener and greener and as we approached Harrisburg I looked down upon the rich, verdant farmland of Lancaster County and realized how productive the land is as I saw the farms from the air. What a blessing rains are! (In fact when I got home I found we had a rain storm the day before.)

One’s perspective on rain changes when you live near the soil. When living away from a farming area you are academically aware of the need for rain and may have some flowers, a small garden or a lawn that show the effects of dryness. But when you live near expansive fields of crops and interface with the farmers you are aware of how utterly dependent we all are on God’s gracious gift of rain. It is an example of what theologians call “common grace”, that is God’s manifestation of His grace and goodness to all regardless of faith.

Consider the prophet Jeremiah’s rhetorical questions in our daily text. “Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers?”  Of course they don’t. With all of our technology man’s various attempts to influence weather have been absolutely puny.

“No, it is you, O LORD our God” wrote Jeremiah. The Psalmist wrote, “He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills” (Psalm 147:8). The prophet Zechariah reminds us, “Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone” (Zechariah 10:1).

Jesus expresses this concept of common grace when He told His listeners that God “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).  And the apostle Paul in an evangelistic appeal at Lystra said, “Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).

“Therefore our hope is in You, for You are the one who does all this.” Today the immutable God is still at work controlling nature and everything else in all His creation. “Our hope is in You.” With all the uncertainty in our world, nations and in our own lives may these five words bring assurance to you today.

Let us declare:

In the crazy world of politics: Our hope is in You.
In a world that seems to be losing its mind: Our hope is in You.
In regard to that troubling family or personal matter: Our hope is in You.

In times past He has ordained periods of drought to come and remind mankind Who’s really in charge and certainly that or some other form of judgment could happen again. Today let us all “praise God from whom all blessings flow” and acknowledge with Jeremiah the absolute source of our hope this day and every day.  “Therefore our hope is in You, for You are the one who does all this.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we may experience peace because You are in control. We thank You for the Word of God which prepares our hearts for whatever time period You have ordained for us to live. “Therefore our hope is in You, for You are the one who does all this.” We must be diligent and faithful, serving You all the days of our life and all the while “testifying to the gospel of Your grace.” How blessed we are! Amen.


Monument Valley

This week (except for yesterday) I have shared photos from the trip I made to the Southwest for a Chaplaincy Conference in Phoenix.

Weber Mountain Colorado 7/9/16
We passed Weber Mountain near Cortez, Colorado. I never realized there was a Weber Mountain!

Twin Rocks, Utah 7/9/16
We passed through a rather desolate section of Southwestern Colorado and Southeastern Utah but with some interesting scenes such as this bluff in appropriately named Bluff, Utah.

Twin Rocks, Utah 7/9/16
Twin Rocks

Twin Rocks, Utah 7/9/16
In case you missed the massive twin rocks above the trading post this truck guides you.

Mexican Hat Utah 7/9/16
The source of the name for the town, “Mexican Hat”.

Monument Valley 7/9/16
We approached the Monument Valley from the north driving through Utah.

Monument Valley 7/9/16
Agathla Peak, one of the towering monuments rising some 1,500 feet above the high desert in northeastern Arizona.

Concerning monuments: In May we wrote a message titled, “Where Are The Monuments?” that makes a spiritual application.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Where Are The Monuments?”  Video  Legacy Five

“I Believe”  Video  Dailey & Vincent with Jimmy Fortune (This evening Dailey and Vincent have a concert here in Lancaster County)

“Too Much To Gain To Lose”  Video  Mark Trammell Quartet  What a great song of resolve to stay faithful.

“Green Acres” theme song  Video  “Farm living is the life for me”

More Monument Valley photos (Google)


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

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

Shed on Amish farm 7/20/16
A tidy Amish garden shed.

“Life’s Main Question”

Message Summary: Pilate’s question, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” is the most important question each of us will answer. In one sense this question is dealt with when we receive Christ as our Savior, but there’s another sense that it’s an ongoing daily question. Today we have a choice whether or not to submit to the Lordship and Kingdom of Jesus Christ. We pray that each reader will choose to do so. We proclaim again today, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord!”

Note: Due to a long day out on Wednesday and early morning and full day Thursday we did not prepare a podcast for this message.

“What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22).

Yesterday we had an interesting experience. Our Amish friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth, have been supplementing their income on their dairy farm by giving authentic Amish farm tours. I have assisted them by building them a simple website and provided counsel as well as ordering materials. It’s been going very well for them and yesterday they had their biggest tour to date. Three big coach busses pulled onto the farm with 200 orthodox Jewish girls from Brooklyn. Jesse had invited us over for crowd control. The girls had adequate chaperones so we left early. Jesse called me last night and told me things went very well.

The city girls were quite intrigued by the farm and of course had questions such as “Will the mule bite?” and “Does it hurt?” (to milk a cow).

Today we all deal with a lot of questions. Many are minor and routine. Some questions are addressed to us and verbalized by others. “Do you want sugar and cream?” “Paper or plastic?” “Do you want fries with that?” Some we ask or are working through on our own.  And the list goes on and on.

But there are huge questions that can easily be overlooked amidst the hustle and bustle of life. But today let us consider life’s main question. The biggest one of all.

The daily text is a question that Pilate asked the crowd at the time of the Lord’s trial. Pilate had seen the flimsy evidence. He had heard the cautions of his wife. In examining the text one can detect a wavering in Pilate’s own personal convictions. But rather than act on principle he polled the crowd (politicians haven’t changed much have they?) and the majority cried out, “Crucify Him!”

I consider Pilate’s question and see it as a fitting expression of a question every single individual must deal with. It’s life’s main question. It’s already worded in the first person singular so everyone merely needs to personalize it and make it their own question: “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

Pilate was confronted face to face with the divine Son of God. In one way or another all reading this are being confronted and probably have been many times. We will simply be unable to use the excuse, “But I didn’t know.”

Responses to this question, “What shall I do?” vary from outright rejection to ignoring, to procrastinating, to compartmentalized religious lip service. Do you relate to any of these responses?

The only acceptable answer that pleases God is to express the essence of Peter’s great confession of faith concerning who Jesus is, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This genuine heartfelt confession will lead to a daily submission to the Lordship of Jesus.

Jesus came into the world “to seek and to save that which was lost” but was violently rejected by many and He continues to be rejected today, often violently. This is also true of His followers including some who are reading this today. The apostle John wrote, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). And for the last 2,000 years men and women continue to be confronted with the choice whether to receive or reject.

Pilate’s question, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” is also the most important question each of us will answer. In one sense this question is dealt with when we receive Christ as our Savior, but there’s another sense that it’s an ongoing daily question. Today we have a choice whether or not to submit to the Lordship and Kingdom of Jesus Christ. We pray that each reader will choose to do so. We proclaim again today, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we have been given the gift of salvation through the birth, death and resurrection of our Savior. Thank You for the free will given to us that allows us to reject or receive this “Jesus, who is called Christ.” When given the choice we like Peter respond, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” We go to the Rock of our salvation, our hope for all eternity. Amen.


Orthodox Jewish Girls from Brooklyn NY Visit Lancaster County Amish Dairy Farm

Tour busses enter Jewish farm 7/20/16
What a unusual scene as the three big busses rolled down the long country lane carrying 200 girls from their summer camp along with their chaperones.

Tour intro to entire group 7/20/16
And the city girls stepped off the busses.

Tour intro to entire group 7/20/16
Jesse welcomed the girls and explained how the tour would work assisted by another Jesse, a local former Amish man who was on the TV show “Amish Mafia”. (Which for the record is a horrible and mostly fictional depiction of Amish life.)

Tour of farm fields 7/20/16
Jesse was assisted by another Jesse, a local former Amish man who was on the TV show “Amish Mafia”. (Which for the record is a horrible depiction of Amish life.) Jesse took a group out to the fields and explained the ways of an Amish working farm.

Jewish girls petting mule 7/20/16
Jesse stands guard while the girls take turns petting the friendly mule who had most surely never seen this many people before.

Jewish girls bottle feeding calf 7/20/16
Bottle-feeding a week old calf.

Jewish girls in milking barn 7/20/16
Observing the milking barn. Of course the girls weren’t used to seeing the cows frequently relieve themselves. I prefer to block that view from my memory when I consume dairy products!

Jewish girls milking cow 7/20/16
Some wanted to try milking a cow.
As the others watched they sang, “Old McDonald Had A Farm”

Tour of Amish home 7/20/16
A group getting ready for the house tour.

Huskie puppies 7/20/16
I climbed up into the barn loft trying to get a good view for photos and was greeted by these curious, friendly Husky pups.

Amish girls meet orthodox Jewish girls 7/20/16
A minor clash of cultures; city and country, Amish and Jewish, but actually they also have something in common in a very conservative expression and being counter-cultural.

Feeding station 7/20/16
The entrepreneurial kids have developed an interesting source of income.

Simple website I made for “Old Windmill Farm”.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Without Him”  Video  Jake Hess, Wesley Pritchard, Woody Wright, George Younce and Hovie Lister

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

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

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive between Sedona and Flagstaff Arizona

“Our Greatest Longing”

Message Summary: Paul looked forward earnestly for that day when he would see the Lord and often expresses it in his writings. The healthy state for the believer is to “long for” His appearing. That’s our greatest longing. Let’s keep our focus on that today!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

For a number of years here in Lancaster County the Women and Babies Hospital was right next to the Hospice Center of Lancaster.* The two buildings are quite a contrast; one primarily for the transition into this life (birth), the other for the inevitable transition out (death). In the course of our ministry we have made many visits to both the Women and Babies Hospital and to the Hospice Center, on occasion our visits coincided on the same day. That’s just part of seeking to provide good chaplaincy and pastoral care.

Pierce familyIt’s a special joy to visit with the excited parents of a new baby. The photo to the left was taken the day David Pierce made his entrance into the world. David, who just turned 9, is now in Brooksyne’s Sunday School class. She especially enjoys his desire to learn his weekly memory verses, and he does so regularly, with the helpful support of his mom and dad. Seth and Bethany, who came along after David, complete this delightful family who seek to honor the Lord

Hospice visits are very different. When Brooksyne’s mom passed on some 15 years ago hospice proved to be a great support medically and emotionally. We have a number of friends serving as hospice chaplains including Mark Pulliam, who was my supervisor many years ago, and Lou Guiliano who was recognized as the New Jersey hospice chaplain of the year.

Both the Women and Babies Hospital and Hospice deal with expectations. But an entirely different form of expectation takes place in each. In the one we have those excited about the beginning cycle of new life. In hospice there is an entirely different expectation, as families hesitantly face the end cycle of one’s life. For some it’s a sense of fear and dread, but for others it’s a glorious expectation of their pending transfer to heaven. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ it is a lifetime longing and preparation finally being fulfilled after their fierce mental, physical, and emotional battle. Finally their perishable body goes to the grave, while their spirit takes on the imperishable state.

Today we are all “longing for” something. There are many secondary longings that come and go in the course of a lifetime. Consider what we longed for as children, teens, young adults. There are good temporal longings as well as harmful and destructive ones in which we seek deliverance. But all we who love Christ should have a deep, abiding desire for the appearing of our Lord. This should be our greatest longing that is unfleeting, unwavering and exceeds any of our temporal longings.

Paul in our daily verse has come to the closing days of his life on this earth. In the previous verses he solemnly acknowledged that “the time has come for my departure” (v.6) and stated, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v.7). He supremely looked forward to receiving “the crown of righteousness” that had been stored up for him, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award him on the appointed day.

Since Paul’s remarkable conversion on the Damascus Road he had given his life in service for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some 30 years passed since that time and Paul had stayed the course. I sense such a confidence and peace in his words, even as he faced a martyr’s death. Earlier in this very letter he expressed his absolute assurance, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day” (1:12).

There’s something else in the verse that I like. Just five little words but they speak volumes to those of us who, like Paul, who strive to stay on course with Christ in this decadent age.

“And not only to me.”

Paul gives us a great word here that you and I can cling to today. He doesn’t go on to say “and for you also Timothy”, to whom he was writing.  Instead he writes to each reader, “but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” Paul looked forward earnestly for that day when he would see the Lord and often expresses it in his writings.  The healthy state for the believer is to “long for” His appearing. That’s our greatest longing. Let’s keep our focus on that today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, help us to remember in the course of this day, when so much of our work and planning is intended for this life only, that we must also fix our desires on the life yet to come. May all that we say, think and do reflect kingdom principles that store up treasures for us in our heavenly kingdom even while we serve here below. Since we don’t know the day nor the hour we can live in anticipation each day because this could be the day for our glorious transfer into Your divine presence. Nothing in this life compares with the joy that awaits those of us who long for Your magnificent appearing!  Amen.

* The Lancaster County hospice is now near Mount Joy which makes it convenient for us when we need to provide care.


Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon

All this week I am sharing photos from the trip I made to the Southwest for a Chaplaincy Conference in Phoenix and some sightseeing prior to the meeting.

Today’s photos feature Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
Driving up from the desert in Phoenix to Flagstaff where I met my brother, I got off the interstate to view an area recommended to me.

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
And began to see green, a stark contrast to the sandy desert look of Phoenix.

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
This area has deep canyons

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
And beautiful red rock bluffs

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
This bridge is high above the canyon!

Sedona, AZ 7/9/16
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive is about a 14 mile drive along Route 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona. It has been recognized as one of the Top 5 Most Scenic Drives in America by Rand McNally. Oak Creek Canyon is a breathtaking stretch of beauty on a winding road that climbs 4,500 feet from Sedona to the top of the Mogollon Rim. (From Trip Advisor)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Knowing You”  Video

“What A Day That Will Be”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance

“What A Day That Will Be”  Video  The Gospel Plowboys  A real downhome presentation that includes the plan of salvation.

More photos of Sedona area and Oak Creek Canyon (Google)


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

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

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
A distant view of the imposing rock where the road, with lots of guardrails, wound around to get to the top of the mesa.

“A Lesson From Guardrails”

Message Summary: Let us thank God for the blessing of guardrails. When we see spiritual guardrails keeping us on the right road during our earthly journey we need to carefully and Scripturally assess the situation, recognize the danger that is close at hand, and prayerfully stay on course.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16My brother Mike and I visited the Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado, especially to see where native Americans built their dwellings into steep cliffs some 1,000 years ago. After our long drive up from Flagstaff Arizona we were both tired but really wanted to see the park. As we pulled up to the entrance gate we were informed that the interesting area of the park with the cliff dwellings was about 25 miles from the gate! It wasn’t a straight 25 miles, but rather a harrowing series of curves as we climbed up the mesa (table) as the road wound around mountains. There were guardrails along part of the mountain climb, other places there were not.  As I observed the bordering landscape I figured the flimsy looking trees would do little to break a careening vehicle if I veered off the road.

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16I remember well our two trips to Guatemala some 25 years ago where we drove on narrow roads up large mountains with steep drop-offs and no guardrails. In addition people would pass us on blind curves. It was a nail-biting experience though we rode with locals who were well acquainted with the area. However the wrecked cars, buses, and multiple crosses we saw off to the side as we drove along reminded us of the peril of the road.

In some 45 years of driving I only recall hitting a guardrail once, while backing down a mountain on the Quehanna Highway in northern Pennsylvania when my engine went out. It totaled the older car we had at the time but thankfully we weren’t hurt. We shared that story in this message.

Guard your heart Proverbs 4:23

Today let us consider how guardrails pertain to our spiritual life. Although highway guardrails can function to stop travelers from going down if they veer off the road they are best seen as a constant warning and guide. Tragically the vast majority are ignoring these God-ordained guardrails that He so wisely and graciously provides. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Today let us consider several guardrails that God has provided:

1) The Guardrail of Scriptural commands and prohibitions. God’s Word is like a guardrail. It contains both commands, “You shall…” and prohibitions, “You shall not…”. Our second text today states, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” This is speaking about the knowledge of God and His Word. So many disregard this knowledge and we see our society racing headlong to most certain judgment which seems to be getting closer day by day. Regardless of what happens the faithful church must continue to “devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42) and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). “What God says is best, is best, though all the men in the world are against it.” – John Bunyan, – The Pilgrim’s Progress

2) The Guardrail of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Holy Spirit can function as a spiritual guardrail. Paul was intending to continue his mission work in Asia Minor when he had his Macedonian vision. The Holy Spirit essentially stopped him and led him in another direction by closing a door: “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:7). As we walk with the Lord, in sensitivity to His Spirit, we need to respect the guardrails of God’s direction, oversight and protection.

3) The Guardrail of Godly counsel. Solomon wrote, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity” (Proverbs 3:1,2). We need to heed the counsel of the wise and esteem the elderly who have gone on before us and those yet with us. It seems more and more young people have little regard for their elders. Wisdom has been defined as “knowledge rightly applied.”

4) The Guardrail of Tradition. This point is most difficult to develop since many have a negative attitude toward tradition and even the Scriptures speak out against tradition in some circumstances. Certainly, tradition for tradition’s sake needs to be evaluated carefully. But it seems to me that an attitude prevails in the church among more than a few that “new” is seen as better, more hip, and more appealing to a current generation and the old is bad. But good practices developed over years can be too quickly shrugged aside in favor of the new, without considering what significance is lost in the process or the consequences of abandoning them. We addressed this topic many years ago in a message titled “The Tyranny of the New”.

Bible commentator John Gill challenges, “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left, either into the road of immorality and profaneness, or into that of error, superstition, and false worship; but attend to the way of holiness and truth, directed to in the Word of God. Don’t be cast down with adversity, nor be lifted up with prosperity; but keep on in an even way, attending to that which is just and right; leaving all events with God, as knowing you are in the way of your duty, and in which He would have you walk.”

Today let us thank God for the blessing of guardrails. When we see spiritual guardrails keeping us on the right road during our earthly journey we need to carefully and Scripturally assess the situation, recognize the danger that is close at hand, and prayerfully stay on course.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, it is because of Your wise and loving character that You teach us about the wiles of our adversary, the devil, and his cunning ways. We are not caught unaware but recognize his strategy as we regularly read Your Word and store it up in our hearts. Your precepts are right and because of that we hate every wrong path. Direct our footsteps according to Your Word so that we stay in pace with You, observing the yellow lights of caution, stopping at the red lights of danger, and staying within the confines of Your guardrails. As we do so we will not allow sin to dominate our lives or lead us astray. We pray for Your guidance which leads to blessing in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Captain John UhlerLast night I interviewed John Uhler for chaplaincy endorsement. John senses a call to serve in an interesting chaplaincy role as a “Living History Chaplain”; that is, participating in reenactments as a WW2 military chaplain. He is able to provide chapel services as well as giving personal counsel. His ministry includes not only other members of his reenactment unit but the public as well who come to see the living history. Here is a description of reenactment from Wikipedia.

John is shown in his authentic WW2 uniform. His approach is strictly appropriate for the period. In other words he prepares a sermon just as it would have been preached during that time period as he seeks to assume the persona of one living in that period. Guests essentially visit the location as it would have been viewed in the early forties. (Similar to a living history exhibit in Massachusetts called “Plimouth Plantation”.

However due to the timeless truths of God’s Word he ministers to all generations.

John has developed a powerful personal mission statement titled, The Code Of My Cross” (pdf)


Mesa Verde National Park

This week I am sharing photos from the trip I made to the Southwest for a Chaplaincy Conference in Phoenix. Since I had never been to the Southwest I went out several days early and met my brother oldest Mike for some sightseeing.

Today I share photos of a trip through northeast Arizona and Southwest Colorado on the long ride from Flagstaff, Arizona to Durango Colorado.

Four Corners 7/7/16
Since I was a kid I have enjoyed geography and have been intrigued by the Four Corners, the only part of the USA where four states meet. Our route took us right by the spot and we paid $5.00 each to the Navajo Nation to enter. It was a very hot and long line as we waited to take a photo at the spot where the four states meet. We were tired so I settled for just walking around the middle and being in all four states in about 15 seconds!

Four Corners marker 7/7/16
Most wanted to be right on the marker to be in four states simultaneously thus the long line.

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
The main part of the park is off the main highway about twenty-five miles on a long winding road up, around and through mountains to get to the Mesa. Lots of beautiful views getting there.

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
A view from near the top of the mesa.

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
On top of the Mesa we went through an area destroyed by a forest fire nearly 15 years ago.

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
The cliff dwellings

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
Some walked down to the dwellings for a special tour.

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
It was on cliffs down these canyons where they built dwellings

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
Entrance road to Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park 7/7/16
This interesting sculpture of a climbing Native American was at the Mesa Verde National Park visitor’s center.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Guard Your Heart”  Video  Steve Green

“Slow Fade”  Video  Casting Crowns

“Higher Ground”  Video  The Smucker Family  Dedicated to our friends in the Smucker family and Jerry Smoker. This family is having a huge reunion this month here in Lancaster and includes descendants from all over the country. The Smucker Company that makes jellies and jams is related to this.

Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

“Three Reasons Why You Must Guard Your Heart” Michael Hyatt

“What does it mean to guard your heart?” (From gotquestions.org)

More photos from Mesa Verde National Park (Google)


Finally today:
Arriving in Durango I bought a fish sandwich at a popular fast food restaurant and caught an interesting scene as I waited for the order.
Dog in drivethru 7/7/16
A dog was at the drive through window looking in.

Dog in drivethru 7/7/16
The worker saw the dog.

Dog in drivethru 7/7/16
She prepared an ice cream cone and fed the dog through the window.
(I hope she washed her hands after providing the treat!)


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

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

Shalona Lake, Colorado 7/8/16 (Click to enlarge)
Shalona Lake, Colorado as seen from the Durango and Silverton Railroad
(Click to enlarge)

“Early Will I Seek Thee”

Message Summary: Young or old, let us seek the Lord today. He ever remains a faithful rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1). “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. He did right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign while he was still a youth, he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chronicles 34:3).

Girls practicing song 7/16/16

Brooksyne had two young students from her Sunday School class over Saturday to practice a song they sang in our church service yesterday. It was not your typical children’s song but a children’s hymn written by English Sunday School teacher, John Burton, 210 years ago titled, “Holy Bible, Book Divine”

Holy Bible, Book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine;
Mine to tell me whence I came;
Mine to teach me what I am.

The work of Christ’s Kingdom has gone forth from generation to generation. It most certainly will continue to do so until the Lord returns, for we can be confident in the truth expressed by our Lord, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Girls singing song 7/17/16For many the young years were especially tumultuous to their Christian faith. For others their new found zeal in following Christ outweighed sacrifices made in turning away from the mindset of the world. We’ve walked that same path in our youth and faced the same temptations and asked the same questions that young people ask today. Some rebel while others stay relatively steady through those years. Still others came to know Christ following those impressionable years.

Currently, young people are barraged with temptations in ways my generation was not. (And surely there was plenty of temptation 40+ years ago!)  But consider the cultural slide into immorality over the last 50 years. I recall viewing the popular show from the seventies, “Happy Days” and finding it to be a bit risqué in its dialogue. Now just the mere previews of current TV programming or big screen movies exposes one to that which often dishonors our Lord or leaves an impressionable image we’d rather not see.

Josiah lived in a time of tremendous decadence about 2,600 years ago. His reforms stalled the inevitable judgment of God but he was the last king to provide godly leadership before the exile. Shortly after his death the people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon. Consider the youth who grew up in Josiah’s generation who were taken captive, yet remained faithful to God. Do you recall the story?

Today we solemnly consider how that very well may be the case for young people today. Although we do not know when or how judgment may come we appear to be headed in that direction. Just consider the increasing societal turmoil and rejection of God. Practically daily the news reports reveal this breakdown.

Young King Josiah seeking the Lord Please note the portion of our daily text, “While he (Josiah) was still a youth, he began to seek the God of his father David.” Josiah, at the impressionable age of 16, made a choice to follow in the ways of the Lord. That’s great isn’t it! It warms our hearts to see spiritual interest in our children and youth. In great part because we know they will avoid the heartache and fallout that comes from living a life of sin and degradation. The reality of life is that we’ll deal with plenty of heartache not of our own making, so we are wise to avoid that which is a result of our own sinful choices or lack of biblical discernment.

Young or old, let us seek the Lord today. He ever remains a faithful rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we pray for our young people, like Josiah, that they will do right in Your sight and follow in the ways of godly training. We pray for our children, grandchildren, and those within our Christian setting; that they will learn to seek You early in their lives, avoiding the many traps set by the devil, including the current trappings seen in the daily news where people are following false religions, supporting dangerous causes, and contributing to the demise of our country, where law and order was once respected and upheld by the majority in our country. We pray for the innocent families harmed by such violent, senseless acts of evil. We are in great need of a worldwide revival. Help us not to veer off course, but to stay on the straight and narrow way that leads to eternal life. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


A Ride On the Durango and Silverton narrow gauge railroad

This week I will share photos from the trip I made to the Southwest for a Chaplaincy Conference in Phoenix, AZ. Since I had never been to the Southwest I went out several days early and met my oldest brother Mike, who turned 71 during our visit, for some sightseeing.  We travelled far and wide and during the trip put more than 1,500 miles on the rental car.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
The Durango and Silverton Railroad is a narrow gauge and uses genuine steam engines.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
Departing Durango

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16Friendly waves all along the way. As we rode the train I noticed and mused upon a dynamic that almost everyone becomes friendly when a train passes by. They stop whatever they’re doing and wave at complete strangers. Some pulled their car over and waved while others drove alongside the train honking and waving.

We noticed that same compulsion to wave when we were on the whale boat last month in New England. What is it about trains and boats that brings out such friendliness among complete strangers?

Too bad we can’t capture that sentiment all through life. Actually there’s another source of friendly waving. When we sit out on the white rockers on our front porch many wave to us as they drive by; some know us, others don’t. There must be something about seeing a couple of older adults sitting on rockers that prompts a wave!

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
An old railroad bridge

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
The train follows a course along the Animas River which had a major pollution spill earlier this year and you can see the evidence by the yellow-stained rocks.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
There’s a lesson in this tree growing right from the side of a cliff.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
The steam engine periodically needs to clear the sediment in the boiler resulting in the dramatic spout.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
The spout created a rainbow.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
Beautiful scenery as the train winds its way up an elevation differential of some 3,000 feet in 45 miles between Durango and Silverton.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
The narrow gauge rails hug a cut out at the side of the mountain with a steep cliff.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
A scene out the window looking down into a deep gorge.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
Looking back on the train as it rounds a bend.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
The train stops in Silverton (elevation 9,308) where the train turns around for the return trip to Durango. Silverton is a former mining town now sustained by tourism such as this Stage Coach ride. The peaks around Silverton are over 14,000 feet.

Durango/Silverton railroad, CO 7/8/16
This deer must have been quite accustomed to the noise of the train. It kept feeding near the track as the train passed by near Durango.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Holy Bible, Book Divine”  Video  Bible Truth Kids  This was originally written as a children’s hymn. Consider the words with this in mind:

Holy Bible, Book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine;
Mine to tell me whence I came;
Mine to teach me what I am.

Mine to chide me when I rove;
Mine to show a Savior’s love;
Mine thou art to guide and guard;
Mine to punish or reward.

Mine to comfort in distress;
Suffering in this wilderness;
Mine to show, by living faith,
Man can triumph over death.

Mine to tell of joys to come,
And the rebel sinner’s doom;
O thou holy Book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine.

A video about the Durango and Silverton railroad

Finally today:

Amish youth in Mount Joy, PA 7/17/16
A scene from Main Street in Mount Joy yesterday. These two young Amish couples are apparently on a double date, likely on their way to a youth meeting/hymn sing.

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

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

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