“The Days Ordained For Me”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011Long gravel farm lane

A long gravel farm lane
I like driving down a long lane with grass growing up along the middle!
A stone farmhouse awaits where some friends live.
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“The Days Ordained For Me”


“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:16). “The righteous will be remembered forever” (Psalm 112:6).

Expiration dateWhenever we buy milk we first look at the expiration date.  From her early age I  taught Ester to select a gallon that has the latest expiration date so that it lasts longer and is presumably fresher when we buy it.

I was out of town several days last week and with Ester’s 7 day hospitalization we had some milk that was left in a gallon jug beyond the expiration date. I took a whiff (just in case) and … surprise, surprise it had soured!

Our church is out in the country with a cemetery beside it.  When sitting next to the window in church one is quickly reminded of another expiration date we all have! This “expiration date”, is known by God and is in His hands (under His control). Consider our first daily verse, “In Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me.”

Take note of the longevity on the Wolgemuth tombstone shown above, particularly Cecelia, which is a powerful testimony to all entering the parking lot.* When we first moved to Lancaster County in early 2001 we remember sitting in prayer services asking God to receive her for she so longed to go to heaven, but she sure waited an extra few years!I’d like you to especially note the powerful verse, “For Me To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain.” We placed this same verse (Philippians 1:21) at my Mom and Dad’s gravesite where they are buried in southern Missouri.

The Apostle James says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).  Nearly 2,000 years have passed since Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Our life (at a normal life span) will only comprise a small fraction of that period of time (about 4% of it).  That’s pretty humbling isn’t it?  And if you go all the way back to creation it’s an even smaller percentage. If you consider eternity … well, it’s incomprehensible.

But Psalm 112 has another perspective of this fleeting life. It extols the blessings of the one who fears the Lord. It begins with praise to God then this statement, “How blessed is the man who fears the LORD.”

But today we want to focus on verse 6 that states, “The righteous will be remembered forever.”

The highest form of remembrance that we can have is our devotion and service to God and our eternal, spiritual impact on others. Though only a small portion of Christ’s followers are remembered beyond several generations on this side, generations will follow their example and leave similar legacies of righteous living.

Today we challenge you to be remembered for:

  • The spiritual, Christ focused impact you are making presently.
  • The godly, eternal legacy you have the opportunity to leave behind.

I want to follow Jesus Christ and seek to live as a righteous man according to His plan during the days ordained for me on this side of eternity. “The righteous will be remembered forever.”  This is a promise I want to live by!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, help me to store up this vital Scripture today; “A righteous man will be remembered forever.” When I’m tempted to compromise my integrity in exchange for ungodly choices may this Scripture ring alarm bells in my heart and mind. Let its truth persuade me to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live a self-controlled, upright and godly life in this present age. Your way is the best way and it is the lasting way.  Amen.

Memorial Day:  Yesterday was “Memorial Day” in the US and thus the reason we did not post a message. Memorial Day is a commemorative holiday that was initially set aside to remember those who died at war but it has been extended as a time to remember all deceased loved ones. During Memorial day weekend many visit the graves of family members as an expression of lasting remembrance as they visibly show their honor and affection. We are especially mindful of those who gave their all that we might enjoy freedom of worship among other freedoms here in America.

Special visit:

Wayne and Yvette 5/30/11

This weekend we had a visit from our friends Wayne and Yvette Gallagher from New England. They share remarkable testimonies of God’s deliverance and grace. They are preparing to plant a church in the inner city of Springfield, Massachusetts, as the Lord directs them. We share Yvette’s testimony here which includes an update based upon our fellowship this last weekend.

Prayer service for Wayne and Yvette
Several in our church prayed for Wayne and Yvette following our service Sunday.

Ken powerwashing deck

We are having our deck powerwashed in order to restain it. It had at least 10 years of dirt, grime and mildew on it (probably more like 20).  Our longtime friend and trusty handyman Ken is tackling the messy project! Colossians 3:23

Update on Ester: We thank God that Ester’s INR numbers lowered to the desired number last Friday. She is no longer taking coumadin but is on a new medication, Pradaxa, that is supposed to prevent blood clots adequately without the complications coumadin presented her with over past weeks, along with regular blood tests required to check the level. Her ordeal with the INR complications remained a medical mystery to the end of her stay. Thank you all for your prayers on her behalf and concerns expressed to us.

* Concerning the Wolgemuth tombstone shown in our daily message: Graybill and Cecelia were longtime members of the rural church we were part of when we moved to Lancaster County in early 2001.  Sam (their only child) was an early leader in Youth For Christ and the president of that organization from 1965-1973, interestingly during my high school years when I was active in Youth For Christ in the Kansas City area. Their grandson Dan is the current president of Youth For Christ  Another grandson Robert is a Christian author and still another, Sam, is CEO of World Relief. We are remembered forever due in part to the impact we have on others who in turn impact others who do the same (see 2 Timothy 2:2). Tomorrow I will share a message about this.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Last week I went to a powerful conference in Washington DC sponsored by the Family Research Council with a theme of “Watchman On The Wall”, which challenged pastors to take a strong, uncompromising stand for Biblical truth. I expect to share more about my experience through the week. I enjoyed the music by Charles Billingsley. Here are some of the songs we sang that especially blessed me!  Pastor friends: I urge you to examine this ministry and join me in being a “watchman pastor”.”God Of the Ages”  Video“Christ Is Able To Save”  Video  This is a beautiful arrangement of the old hymn “Come ye Sinners”   Here’s another arrangement of the same hymn by Todd Agnew. Video  And finally here’s one by Regina Martin, a local friend of ours, recorded right here in our home. (mp3)

“O God Our Help In Ages Past”  Video

Finally today:  What’s this?

Mystery boots 5/29/11

We enjoy a show called “Monk”, which is about a very eccentric, obsessive/compulsive but also very, very good detective. Here’s some detective work for our readers: Early Sunday morning on the way to church we drove by Mount Pleasant church where we attended for a number of years and still associate with many friends.  We wanted to show Wayne and Yvette the Wolgemuth tombstone in the cemetery next to the church.  As we passed the back entrance to the church we saw this truck with an open driver’s door and pair of empty work boots. We quipped about what it represented and I am pretty sure I know the answer. Anyone want to venture a guess?

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)


“Professing To Be Wise”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Old water pump & chair
Old water pump & chair
Both of these bring back memories of my childhood.
This was the kind of chair so many had sitting on their front porch.

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“Professing To Be Wise”

“Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

All I once held dear built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
There is no greater thing
You’re my all you’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

In Wednesday’s message we acknowledged graduates and gave a challenge to our readers, especially graduates to consider the best way; “This is what the LORD says– Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go'” (Isaiah 48:17).

We are in the midst of graduation season. The school year is ending and young people (mostly) are celebrating a long-term accomplishment as they also begin a new chapter in their adult lives.  We congratulate them for their hard work and accomplishing far reaching goals.

And yet, with all due respect to formal education, it is a very poor determinant of one’s smartness or  wisdom, let alone spiritual knowledge and understanding! Some of the wisest, most productive people I have known are not college educated and in some cases were unable to finish high school. And yet they very well may be filled with knowledge, spiritual understanding and discernment.  The issue is not the amount of formal education but the source of wisdom.

Our daily verse describes the human condition, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). It is in a context concerning the human response to God. The Greeks and Roman unbelievers boasted of their wisdom and held the rest of the world in contempt, but at the same time their idolatry showed their utter folly.

Modern man claims to be so wise.  We are surely the most educated age in history based on years of formal education. Modern humanity feels they are intellectually superior and enlightened compared to previous generations. This is commonly seen in the attitude of the younger toward the elder population.

C.S. LewisC.S. Lewis referred to this attitude as “chronological snobbery”. Chronological snobbery is the presumption that the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior when compared to that of the present.

By and large the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible are scoffed at or ignored by those in our time who profess to be wise. Modern man has no use for them in this “enlightened” age. But the Bible gives a not so flattering, but rather scathing description, “They became fools.”

Today I encourage you to sharpen your sense of spiritual discernment.  This is possible through regular study of the Scriptures dowsed in prayerful communion with God.

I note several potential dangers in my life on this matter:

1) I can become so disgusted with the slide into godlessness that I lose my proper focus on God. I also lose the joy and peace that are my inheritance as His child.

2) I can get so focused on the problems, which are a natural consequence of man’s rejection of God, and then become cynical and negative.

3) I become so accustomed to the incremental slide into moral depravity and decadence that I no longer take notice.  Consider the content and language in major media outlets that many Christians no longer reject due to becoming desensitized over the years!  The slide continues and in fact increases.

May God give us spiritual discernment so we don’t just “go with the flow” since the swirling current from that flow may take you to a deadly vortex. Instead let us acknowledge that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, help me to keep the godly perspective presented in Your Word regarding sinfulness and righteousness.  There is no true sophistication in sinful behavior, for it is abhorrent and unacceptable in Your sight and destructive to the human heart.  Though the world might dress it up, classify it with a new trendy name, sin is still sin and it brings about disastrous consequences.  May my heart’s desires be drawn to righteousness.  I want those things which are true, honest, lovely, and praiseworthy to occupy my thoughts and be visible in my interaction with others.  I seek the wisdom imparted through the inspirational writing of Your holy Word.  May it always be the filter I use to screen the wisdom of this age with the wisdom that comes from the God of the ages.

Update on Ester: For the latest update on Ester see here. (This is a page Brooksyne can update.)

Additional note: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12,13). I believe all earnest followers of Christ should memorize and hide this verse deep in their hearts. Jesus is speaking of conditions that will characterize the times prior to His return. (Lately we’ve seen much foolishness and outright disobedience regarding the return of the Lord by those setting dates, yet this does not negate what Jesus said and the clear teaching of the Bible.) An increase in wickedness will cause the love of most to grow cold.  I find that to be a very interesting cause and effect relationship.

Why is this?  I believe it speaks of the very deceptive nature of wickedness or lawlessness. For many years moral standards have been eroding and so many in the professing church are blinded to it.  The incremental erosion slowly hacks away at our moral sensitivities and many scarcely notice. This is especially true here in America because of the accompanying prosperity. Sodom was also prosperous. (See Genesis 13:9-11.)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Knowing You”  Video  The hymn mentioned in the first paragraph.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“The Best Way”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rose breasted grosbeak (photo by Doris High)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
(photo by Doris High)

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“The Best Way”
“This is what the LORD says– Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go'” (Isaiah 48:17).

Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Graduation All over our country and around the world young people are graduating at this time. Graduation is an important milestone in life and in so many ways a vital fork in the road of life. Sadly, due to lack of proper direction in the early formative years, there are many who choose the wrong way even at this important juncture of their lives.

I want to encourage graduates and all reading this to hear a very clear message from God’s Word. The specific phrase “the way” has great meaning in the Scriptures.  God chose Abraham to “command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD.” Moses urged the people, “Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you.” The Psalmist declares, “I have chosen the way of truth.” The sense of the Hebrew word for “way” in the above passages is “a course of life or mode of action.”

In the New Testament Jesus said, “I am the way” and a descriptive designation for the early church in the book of Acts was “the Way”.  One of the last uses of the phrase in the Bible is so pertinent to our time; “Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”

The daily verse expresses a truth that we do well to hide deep in our hearts: “I am the LORD Your God, who teaches you what is best for you.”  Truly, our Father who created us knows what is best for us.  We  must keep this truth ever before us. Our young people are especially at a point in life where a battle rages in their souls.  They hear so many voices asserting “This way is best for you.”  But God directs us in the way we should go.

My prayer for our graduates is well stated by the prophet Isaiah in another verse:  “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it'” (Isaiah 30:21).  And this is my prayer for each reader today as well.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we pray for those graduating from high school or college this year.  What a tremendous and long-range accomplishment this is in their lives.  We ask that You would empower our graduates with great foresight, godly wisdom, daily discipline, and a sense of purpose as they enter a new season of their lives.  May their hearts be fully consecrated to You as they use their natural giftings and learned skills in the marketplace.  Though much about their future is not yet revealed, You have given absolute direction about their personal spiritual walk.  No matter what field of study or where they locate geographically may they listen intently to Your command: “This is the way; walk in it.” No matter what season of life, help us to never forsake the unchanging, fundamental truths we learn from steadfastly walking in Your way. We joyfully acknowledge that it is the best way and we thank You for it in Jesus’ name,  Amen.

Ester Update: Our daughter, Ester, continues to be in the hospital, but we are hoping for good numbers today with the possibility of her coming home finally. The medical mystery continues as to how her INR has reached such high numbers, especially since she has been off coumadin for over a week now. Thank you for your concern and prayers.

Brenda DeLuca 5/24/11

Ester had surprise visitors yesterday afternoon.  Pastor John and Faithe Keefer stopped in as well as a long-time friend from the New England states that we hadn’t seen for about 14 years; Brenda DeLuca, pictured with Ester.  So many have indicated they are praying for Ester and we are so appreciative.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Take My Life And Let It Be”  Video  Christ For The Nations worship

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Ponder Anew”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Photo of Mountain Laurel flowers
Mountain Laurel

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“Ponder Anew”
“Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.” (Psalm 111:2). “Proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done. Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in Him; let all the upright in heart praise Him!” (Psalm 64:9b,10).

Baby cornThe farmers are late getting the crops in this Spring due to the rainy weather and wet fields. However in the last couple of weeks they’ve managed to plant and now all thoughout our area tiny rows of corn are poking up out of the fields, including the large field across from our house. Of course that’s to be expected after sowing but it’s still a healthy sight farmers enjoy! In the next several months this corn will be nearly ten feet tall and sure gives us visual variety from our home.

A classic hymn of the Church has these wonderful words tucked into one of the verses, “Ponder anew, what the Almighty can do.”  I believe it’s a daily discipline to ponder anew what the Almighty has done, is doing and will do. We enjoy God’s creation (nature) and that sure gives us plenty to ponder.

We often mention our enjoyment of flowers in this series. Brooksyne takes great delight in her flowers and I thoroughly enjoy photographing them. One of the features I really enjoy about digital photography is the ability to get close-ups.

Photo of Mountain Laurel flowersWe presently have a plant blooming in our backyard that initially was a puzzle to us shortly after we moved here nine years ago. We observed one of our flowering plants and were stunned by its beauty as we examined it up close; tiny, delicate pink buttercups that open into beautiful flowers. Since it was planted by the previous owner we didn’t know what it was. We wondered if it was some type of exotic, rare plant?

Turns out it’s the Mountain Laurel, the Pennsylvania state flower! We have often seen these laurels at a distance in mid-June when the Pennsylvania mountain sides are covered with them creating a lovely pink along the roads. However we had never taken the time to get out and see what they looked like up close. That beautiful distant panorama was actually a vast collage of these tiny, beautiful flowers.

The same principle is true with Scripture. We benefit from both the panoramic and close-up views of the Holy Word of God!

We are often most familiar with the panoramic view when we read larger portions such as a planned reading through several chapters daily in order to read through the entire Bible in a year or the recent 40 day New Testament reading plan. Such a panoramic view gives us a survey sense of the Bible but we tend not to slow down and study shorter portions carefully.

But we also need the close-up view in which we really examine and ponder each verse, phrase, or even consider the meaning of just one word. This may include comparing translations, word studies from the original languages, consulting commentaries and so forth. This may even include memorizing portions of God’s Word.

As we study God’s Word and meditate on His precepts let us be faithful to “Proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Jesus, I confess to You my need for sensitivity from Your Holy Spirit when I read Scripture. Following the schedule of a yearly reading plan gives me an overall understanding of Your sovereign work in creation and in the lives of individuals as it also instructs me in holy living. But the very personal message that You have for me generally comes from pondering a newly discovered truth or considering a Scripture portion and poring over it throughout my day. It opens avenues of understanding and oneness with You that I miss when I ignore or hurry through my devotions. I want to be purposeful in my Scripture reading and invite the inspiration of Your Word to illumine my path and deepen my faith in You, the Changeless One.  Amen.

Update On Ester:  Ester remains in the hospital today.  Her INR, continues to be elevated causing her blood to be too thin, though she has been off coumadin for a week now.  She has thoroughly puzzled the cardiology team, other specialists and tomorrow will have a team of hematologists assess her ordeal.  Thank you for your continued prayers on our behalf.  (She did get a much improved reading about midnight last night but the test followed a plasma treatment.  The doctors are looking for her body to produce correct results.  We’ll see….)

Dwayne with hard hat
Dwayne is a friend of ours we visit in the course of our chaplain work. Here he holds a hard hat that took some heavy damage from a knife, reminding us of the value of the helmet and spiritually the helmet of salvation! (Note: this was not actually an accident but some  humor on the part of another worker who had accidentally crushed his hard hat.)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Praise To The Lord, The Almighty”  Video  The classic hymn mentioned in the first paragraph.

The Mountain Laurel – Pennsylvania’s State Flower

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Farther Along”

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Beauty" swan with cygnets 5/21/11
Our friends Gene and Doris Wenger told me their swan couple, Buford and Beauty, had baby swans. Saturday I drove by for a look and was able to get surprisingly close. Baby swans are known as cygnets (something I just learned this morning). Notice the large nest in the background.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“Farther Along”

“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority” (Acts 1:7).

When we see Jesus coming in glory,
When He comes from His home in the sky.
Then we shall meet Him in that bright mansion,
We’ll understand it all by and by.

Crying manAny given time we prepare these messages we are mindful of those enduring heartache. It may be in our own family, neighborhood, our church body, or our work associations.

Most certainly, as we read the news, we become aware of heartache being experienced by people in so many places all over the world. This morning we read of the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, where Brooksyne and I spent the first night of our honeymoon on our way to the Branson area and Table Rock Lake. We have friends in that area and two years ago had lunch with a Daily Encouragement reader from Joplin on our way to Oklahoma. My folks lived there for awhile and my older brother Pat was born there.

When death has come and taken our loved ones,
It leaves our home so lonely and drear.
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.

“It is not for you to know”. That’s a response children don’t like to hear when they’re wondering about a matter, pestering their parents for answers.  But we don’t like that response either, as adults. We want to know; we want answers to the five W questions; who, what, when, why and where.  And we especially want the answers to “What if?” to those situations that affect us personally or those we care about!

In the previous verse the disciples asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” They were still anticipating the establishment of a material, political kingdom and I doubt that they expected Christ’s ascension into heaven that would follow only moments later.  I wonder if they were disappointed when He ascended?  There were surely many more questions for which they sought answers.

Christ’s answer to their question, His final words prior to His ascension back to heaven, was that it was not for them to know the times or dates the Father had set by His own authority, but that the Spirit would empower them to be His witnesses (v. 8).

Do you think the disciples were satisfied with that answer? Did some grumbling take place among them, “That’s not what we asked about.  Did He not hear us?  Why doesn’t He tell us more?  What if?”

Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder,
Why it should be thus all the day long.
While there are others living about us,
Never molested though in the wrong.

The disciples had a specific question but I also believe there is a general principle here in regard to God’s dealings in our lives. We also have questions, but like the disciples, we don’t get all the answers we want. Sometimes we get essentially the same message, “It is not for you to know.” That’s hard, particularly in the midst of a trial.

Faithful till death said our loving Master,
A few more days to labor and wait.
Toils of the road will then seem as nothing,
As we sweep through the beautiful gate.

Crying womanWe can find assurance in the last phrase of the daily text, which contains a powerful spiritual principle regarding any great question of life: “The Father has set by His own authority.”

Remember, God is in control, and He has a set purpose for all that He’s doing and for when He chooses to do it. What peace to know that our times are in His hands! (Psalm 31:15).

Farther along we’ll know all about it.
Farther along we’ll understand why.
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, You have called us to a journey of faith where we learn to trust You for all that we have need of, for the present and the future – in our relationships, our health,  our earthly provisions and our spiritual needs.  Like the songwriter, Louisa Stead, wrote; “I’m so glad I learned to trust You, precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; For I know that You are with me; Will be with me to the end.  Jesus, Jesus How I trust You, How I’ve proved You o’er and o’er;  Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus,  O for grace to trust You more.”  Help us to find the sweetness of wholeheartedly trusting in You, we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Update On Ester:  Ester remains in the hospital today.  Her INR, thanks to frozen plasma along with Vitamin K on Friday, and much prayer throughout her ordeal, dropped from the huge number of greater than 16.23 to 5.  It was a greater drop than doctors would have anticipated so they kept her another night.  Sunday’s number took her up again to 10.1. The mystery continues but thankfully her INR is 8.1 this morning so it’s in the right direction (3 bags of plasma given yesterday).  Doctors have not done their rounds today so we await word on the next course of action.  Thank you for your continued prayers and interest.

Today’s text would also fit well for yet another failed attempt this weekend at projecting the end of the world/return of the Lord, the most recent of such attempts through the church age and surely not the last. However this one got a lot more publicity. Of course such attempts bring an excuse for mocking. Here’s an interesting article on the matter from one of my favorite writers.

"Beauty" swan among reeds
Here’s a photo I took of “Beauty” several years ago.

Former pastors at Mastersonville
We continue to serve a small rural congregation about 20 miles from Lancaster and yesterday we had two former pastors in attendance. To the right are Jesse and Wilma Dourte, who served the church in the late-sixties through mid-seventies and to the left is Jim and Eva Ketner, who served from the mid-seventies through mid-eighties.  I find great joy in fellowshipping with faithful servants of God who stay the course years after their pastoral service is completed.

John Deere sprayer
In the course of getting around our agricutural area we often see some interesting farm machinery. This is a self-propelled sprayer. The spray arms are folded in for transport but this is what the machine looks like in the field when in use.

Baby cardinals 5/22/11
Last night I saw some activity in a bush near our barn with Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal flying in and out. I went to carefully explore and sure enough it was a cardinal nest with two remaining crowded baby cardinals. When I checked later only one was left.  This morning the nest is empty. Here’s a photo from several years ago when I managed to find another cardinal nest a lot younger along with an unhatched egg.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Farther Along”  Video  The Grascals  Now this is really country bluegrass!
“Farther Along”  Video  Gaither Homecoming

Farther along we’ll know all about it.
Farther along we’ll understand why.
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.

Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder,
Why it should be thus all the day long.
While there are others living about us,
Never molested though in the wrong.

When death has come and taken our loved ones,
It leaves our home so lonely and drear.
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.

Faithful till death said our loving Master,
A few more days to labor and wait.
Toils of the road will then seem as nothing,
As we sweep through the beautiful gate.

When we see Jesus coming in glory,
When He comes from His home in the sky.
Then we shall meet Him in that bright mansion,
We’ll understand it all by and by.

“God Is In Control”  Video  Kristian & Shannon Walker

“Wrap Me In Your Arms”  Video  Kristian & Shannon Walker

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Lack of Knowledge”

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bird nest (photo by Georgia)
My cousin Georgia took this photo of a nest built in the wreath on their front door in Wisconsin. She observes “The door is glass, so we could watch the antics of the babies as they grew, but we didn’t get to use the front door for a LONG time!”

“Lack of Knowledge”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). “’The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD'” (Amos 8:11).

Haddon RobinsonYesterday I went to a preaching seminar and heard Haddon Robinson, who for many years has had an influence on those preparing for ministry and those in ministry, including me. Many of our readers have probably heard him on the Radio Bible Class or have read his devotionals in the “Our Daily Bread” series.

His main focus is teaching preachers (He is a professor of preaching at Gordon Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts) and his first message yesterday concerned five foundational commitments a preacher must make. He made the point that the preacher must have a commitment that the Bible, in its entirety, is the Word of God.

We live in what has been called the information age and there is certainly no shortage of information available.  In fact, there are many who pursue worthless trivia day after day, but consider the dearth of Bible knowledge in our age. There is indeed a spiritual famine when it comes to hearing and learning the words of the Lord!

Our first daily verse is from the prophet Hosea who served God from about 755-725 BC.  His message was largely rejected, but he remained faithful and obedient to God in spite of some rather unusual commands.  The problem was not for lack of available knowledge but a rejection of truth (note the context if you have opportunity).

Even the apostate Northern Kingdom under the very wicked Jeroboam 2 had a witness for truth and the knowledge of God through prophets like Hosea.  But they rejected it.  In our day a witness for God and His truth is proclaimed, but by and large this vitally important knowledge is being rejected. Thus we are seeing and will continue to see the consequences of this rejection.

There are those who are ignorant because of a lack of knowledge. They have not yet heard God’s message of salvation. Then there are those who are ignorant because they choose to ignore or they have rejected knowledge that is available to them. That is the case with so many here in America and in other places here in the West.  Psalm 53:1 tells us that the fool has reasoned within himself that there is no God.

In my experience most of my knowledge of the Bible has been gleaned from many years of exposure to its truths through personal reading, study, devotionals, sermons, etc. Although I am very thankful for the “formal” education I received, I believe most of what I know was acquired incrementally through the choice to be regularly exposed to God’s Word for over nearly 40 years now. We desire that these daily encouragement messages be one of these small incremental notches that God is using in your life to increase your knowledge of His Word.

I call this the exposure principle. Let me illustrate. Our daughter will watch the same movie or listen to the same song over and over and over (and over and over). After a while she can complete the lines to a script or song. Now she never purposefully memorized them but through constant exposure she learned them. This principle is expressed in Hebrews 5, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”  The words “constant use” in this verse illustrate the exposure principle.

Hymn singing congregationLet me illustrate this exposure principle by using the hymnal. Now there are very few hymns I have ever set out to intentionally memorize, (in fact I am not sure there are any). But because I have regularly sung them through the years I have learned the words to many of them.

Consider the following several hymns and many of you will see that you can finish at least the line, if not the verse or even the entire hymn (with a few prompts) because you have sung it since childhood. Most certainly you can sing the chorus since it is repeated between each verse helping you to memorize it even more than the verses. *

“Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, …”
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, …”
“Great is Thy faithfulness, …”
“Then sings my soul, …”
“Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him, …”
“What a friend we have in Jesus….”

The same is true of God’s Word.  Although I have purposefully sought to memorize many verses through the years, much of what I know is through habitual exposure.  Let us daily fill our lives with regular exposure to God’s Word followed by application of its truths as we also receive assurance from its promises!  Then we can proclaim with the Psalmist,

“With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
that I might not sin against You.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.  I don’t want to be destroyed for lack of knowledge nor do I want to be caught up in sin due to my disobedience to Your commands.  As I read the words of Scripture and hear them expounded upon by faithful expositors I am feasting daily on the spiritual manna (food) provided by You.  Where there is spiritual famine, even among those who believe, we pray for revival where men and women, boys and girls begin to hunger for that which is of eternal worth.  Stir us all into action as we are spurred on by Your directives in Scripture, and Your Spirit that is at work in us.  We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Personal Family Note:  Please remember Ester, our 22 year old daughter, in prayer.  She was admitted to Hershey Medical Center yesterday morning due to her coumadin (blood thinner) shooting through the roof following her blood work. Her numbers should be between 2 to 3 but they are presently over 16.23. There are no outward signs as to where the blood could be pooling (such as large bruises, no bleeding on the brain, etc.) so specialists will be consulted today and we pray for these numbers to decrease!

For all:  Here’s an example of the power of exposure to God’s Word for longtime students. Some of these verses we have purposefully memorized but in many cases we will know them because we have read them and heard them often.  See how many of these verses you can complete and extra credit if you know the reference!

  • For God so loved…
  • In the beginning…
  • For I know the plans…
  • The Lord is my shepherd…
  • I am the way…
  • But you shall receive power…
  • My God shall supply…
  • For by grace…
  • Enter into His gates…
  • Behold I stand at the door…
  • Behold what manner…
  • For all have sinned…
  • Thou art worthy…
  • Thou shalt have no…

For preachers: Here are the main points to the message yesterday by Haddon Robinson regarding foundational commitments a preacher must make:
1) Commitment that the Bible is the Word of God. It’s alive!
2) Commitment that the entire Bible is the Word of God. Go after the deeper gems.
3) Commitment to the “Thus saith the Lord” view of preaching with authority.  “Let the one who has my word speak it faithfully” (Jeremiah 23:28).
4) Commitment to hard thinking. “Nothing significant will come out of your mouth unless something significant is placed in your head.”
5) Commitment to being relevant. “Talking from, not about, the Bible.”

* We are concerned that the decrease in singing hymns and use of the hymnal in many churches will change this exposure of knowledge using music as a worshipful medium. Our observation is that many praise and worship songs have a short life cycle, in part due to the desire to sing the newest or most popular song that is current. Christians aren’t being exposed to these songs over a long enough period (with rare exceptions). It seems the new song from ten years ago gets a lot of “airplay” and is soon retired or is rarely sung.

Certainly we want to sing that which is written by artists today and we do so in our church for it represents what God is doing in the lives of believers in our time period, but we don’t want to forsake songs that have been sung for hundreds of years; the songs that have shaped church history that are filled with rich doctrinal teaching. The continuity of connecting with the saints of all the ages is important and provides intergenerational blessing as the grandchildren relate to the same songs of their grandparents, etc.  Of course, these thoughts open up a “can of worms” for feedback, since there is much to be said about this subject along with many differing views.  But we do ask you to give this some thought and application as God speaks to your heart.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Ancient Words”  Video

“Thy Word”  Video  Maranatha Singers

“How Firm A Foundation”  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

“The BIBLE, Yes That’s The Book For Me”  Video  I found this and it shows Lowell Lundstrom, the evangelist that preached the night I got saved in 1971! This video is very old. I suppose a lot of us remember singing this song when we were kids.

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Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“The Ultimate View”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fallingwater ultimate view
Fallingwater, “the ultimate view”

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“The Ultimate View”
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11).

“Fallingwater” is the name of a beautiful home in western Pennsylvania, perhaps most famous because it was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is indeed a very remarkable place, and worth the pricey fee for a tour, with its most interesting feature being that it’s built right over a waterfall. Our young tour guide was enthusiastic as he pointed out the various details of the house. (The detail I remember most was that the ceilings were very low and in several places I bumped my head!) Due to the concrete and stone construction and proximity to the stream it was also cold, dreary, and damp feeling even though it was a summer day.

Several times he pointed out to a small bluff where he urged us to view the home after the tour as he excitedly told us, “It’s the ultimate view.” We did and it was a beautiful view although, even in my rather limited travels, I would have a hard time calling it the ultimate view! In fact most any picture you’ve viewed of Fallingwater is from this particular view such as the one in the photo above.

I consider other “ultimate views.” I have traveled from coast to coast and from the tip of Florida to Canada and  several other countries. Some of my favorite “ultimate views” is an overlook on Mount Battie near Camden Maine that looks down over the harbor and out into the ocean. Or the Cades Cove area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Steal a moment from your otherwise busy day and consider with me some of your personal favorite “ultimate views”.

The tour guide’s statement got me thinking. What is the ultra-ultimate view?  I’m quite certain it won’t be any view we designate as “ultimate” on this side of eternity! Will it be the view of Christ in all His glory? Or perhaps when we first see heaven? We must in faith wait, but the daily text grants us an eyewitness glimpse and I can’t read it without sensing the awe. Just imagine the scene, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.”

Jesus on white horseAs I study heaven I note that no single extended Scripture portion gives us substantial information. Rather we have glimpses of what heaven is like. Today’s portion comes from the book of Revelation. It’s a tremendous comfort to believers. John had just received a remarkable revelation from an angel and had bowed down to worship the angel when he was firmly rebuked and told to “Worship God”.

Then he saw heaven standing open and what did he see? Actually not what we might expect! If the verse was not before me I would expect it to say something to the effect, “Jesus sitting at the right hand of His Father” which is indeed the most common place we see Him after the ascension. But John says he saw a “white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True”.  As you read on through the passage this is clearly a vision of Jesus.

Let’s examine and receive encouragement from the two titles given to Jesus Christ in the daily passage.

1) He is called “Faithful”. This translates the very common Greek word “pistos”, which objectively has the meaning of trustworthiness and reliability. This is one of the great attributes of God found throughout the Scriptures. Believers can join with Jeremiah in declaring, “Great is Thy faithfulness!”

2) He is called “True”. This word denotes real and genuine. It places Him in contrast to the antichrist who is also depicted on a white horse earlier in Revelation 6:2. While on earth Jesus had said in encouraging His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Warren WiersbeWe close with a powerful thought from Warren Wiersbe, one of our favorite writers, concerning this verse: “This description of Christ is thrilling! He is no longer on a humble donkey, but on a fiery white charger. His eyes are not filled with tears as when He beheld Jerusalem; nor is He wearing a mocking crown of thorns. Instead of being stripped by His enemies, He wears a garment dipped in blood, signifying judgment and victory. When on earth, He was abandoned by His followers; but here the armies of heaven follow Him in conquest. He comes to rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2). He comes not to bear the wrath of God on the cross, but to tread the winepress of God’s wrath at the Battle of Armageddon. He is King of kings and Lord of lords!”

Wow, this will sure be the ultimate view!

It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.
Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase.
So bravely run the race, till we see Christ.

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear.
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair.
But Christ will soon appear, to catch His bride away.
All tears forever over, in God’s eternal day.

Sometimes the sky looks dark, with not a ray of light.
We’re tossed and driven on, no human help in sight.
But there is one in heav’n, who knows our deepest care.
Let Jesus solve your problem, just go to Him in pray’r.

Life’s day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past.
We’ll cross the great divide, to glory safe at last.
We’ll share the joys of heav’n, a harp, a home, a crown.
The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, how blessed we are to view glimpses of beauty and awe on this side of heaven.  But with great anticipation we await the glorious day when we will behold the ultimate view; Jesus in all His glory.  This world with all its troubles and disappointments will vanish from our memory as we behold a new heaven and a new earth. Contemplating that ultimate view diminishes our heartaches and burdens of this life.  Keep us keeping on as we journey below so that we will ultimately reach our eternal resting place. In Jesus’ holy name we pray.  Amen.

Duct tapePS: The most interesting observation during the tour of Fallingwater to me was the duct tape. As a duct tape aficionado I was pleased to see duct tape visibly in use in one of the world’s most famous homes. Of course I had to inquire and the tour guide told me the tape was “temporary” but it sure looked to me that it had been on for a long time!

This morning I am going, along with two other pastor friends, to hear a preaching seminar by Haddon Robinson. Here is a message by him on the book of Philemon titled “Put That on Master Charge”.  (Video)  I really enjoy his sermons and he is a remarkable storyteller!

A faithful servant called home:  Many years ago I served a short interim role in a church and at that time met a former pastor who was in his nineties at the time. I specifically recall his sweet spirit. I just recieved word that Robert H. Shipp, 101, entered his eternal rest on May 17, 2011. He went to be with the Lord a month shy of his 102nd birthday!  His salvation dates back to 1925 at a church in Pittsburgh.  He received his licensed minister credential on August 12, 1941 and was ordained two years later.  Robert was married to Lillie, and they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on August 4, 2007.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Faithful And True”  Video

“My Redeemer Is Faithful And True”  Video  Bobby Michael

“It Will Be Worth It All”  Video

“It Will Be Worth It After All”  Video  Terry Terrell

“Anything That Costs Me Nothing”  Video  Bobby Michael  (Great song I haven’t heard for years!!!)

Fallingwater (it is one word!)

View of Camden Harbor in Maine from Mount Battie

My own Cades Cove photos

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Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Understanding and Acting”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amish harvest (photo by Doris High)
Amish Hay Harvest in Lancaster County PA
Photo by Doris High

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“Understanding and Acting”

“Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

McChurchI just read an insightful article titled “Fast Food Church” that provides an interesting perspective about the modern  church, at least here in America.

It begins by quoting 2 Timothy 4:3: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” There is a spiritual epidemic in the United States, affecting many with its malnourished gospel message. Untold numbers fall ill from its effects of false spirituality which is being packaged and marketed as 100% pure truth.

There is an increasing intensity it seems; a sense I have in my spirit of some type of significant threshold being reached, a tipping point as some would say. I want God to give me wisdom to understand the times and know how to properly respond.

I desire to have the spiritual discernment of the men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”  Issachar was one of Jacob’s sons and his descendents later became a tribe which had amazingly maintained their distinct identity for some 800 years up to the time of David. This verse is found in a section of Scripture chronicling David’s soldiers.  Two qualities marked these men of Issachar and the special contribution they made during the time they lived. They “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”

1) They “understood the times.”  What a powerful statement! We are bombarded with information about the times in which we live.  I can turn on the TV or sit down at my computer and instantly get an update on significant or insignificant news from anywhere in the world.  But “understanding the times” is far more than this. It involves spiritual discernment. We find contemporary events interesting yet often disturbing, frightening and even potentially despairing. But the fundamental focus on properly understanding the times is a steady, growing understanding of God and His Word.  “The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:5,6).

2) They “knew what Israel should do.” As a result of spiritual understanding and godly discernment we need to know what to do in these times to keep our life, family and ministry on the right track.  Here’s a lengthy portion of Holy Scripture that I ask you to read thoughtfully and apply to your life: “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:11-14).

A powerful apocalyptic verse at the end of Daniel states, “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand” (Daniel 12:10).

We want to be wise in the sight of God by interpreting and discerning the mindset of our present culture with Scriptural understanding. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7). The Life Application study notes shed further insight on this familiar Scripture: “In this information age knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce.  Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot.  It is a basic attitude that affects every aspect of life. The foundation of knowledge is to fear the Lord – to honor and respect God, to live in awe of His power and to obey His Word.  Faith in God should be the controlling principle for your understanding of the world, your attitudes and your actions.”

We urge you to consider these qualities in your life today and pray that the Lord will help you to understand the times and show you how to remain faithful, as you press on for Christ and represent His Kingdom! Let us all be like the men of Issachar.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father of all wisdom, we who are children of the light, do not live as those in darkness.  Instead You have shown us right from wrong, truth from error, and You have given us discernment to test the spirits to see that which is from You and that which is from the evil one. The foundations seem to be shaking as we are flooded with a tidal wave of twists and spins that seeks to confuse or demean the believer. We clothe ourselves daily with godly armor, both defensive and offensive weaponry since our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but rather the authorities from this world.  Keep our souls untainted by the changing rhetoric and sliding standards from our decadent society as we stand against the spiritual forces of evil like the men of Issachar.  Help us to walk boldly in the conviction power of the Holy Spirit today, we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Be Thou My Vision”  Video

“When It’s All Been Said And Done”  Video  Robin Mark

“McChurch”  A humorous, but sadly far too true, short video.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“First Quality Only”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kraybill Auction quilt
A quilt for sale at the Kraybill School auction.
Any auction here in Lancaster County includes a lot of these home-made quilt, many made by members of the old-order communities.

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“First Quality Only”
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Martin guitar insigniaI enjoy factory tours and one of the best I’ve ever been on is through the C. F. Martin Guitar Company in Nazareth, PA, near where my brother lives in the Lehigh Valley. Founded in 1833 it is still family owned with the current CEO being the great, great, great grandson of the founder!

Martin guitarMartin Guitar is said to be the Rolls Royce of guitars and as we walked through the factory we were amazed at the process and details that go into making each one. If a guitar does not meet their highest standards of quality when it is inspected the guitar is completely destroyed. They will not put the name Martin on a “second”.

That reminds me of the greatest gift of first quality, that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins.

“God made Him who had no sin.” The only person who ever walked on this earth who had no sin was Jesus and He alone was a fitting sacrifice for our sins. When the Father wanted to solve our sin problem once and for all He sent His only Son.

“To be sin for us.”  God made Jesus to “be sin”; this is true in the sense of a sin offering, just as a lamb was offered for a meat sacrifice the Lamb of God was the bodily sacrifice for our sins. “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).  Peter wrote concerning this sacrifice, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18,19).

“So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”  A great theological doctrine is known as imputed righteousness. Imputed righteousness is a theological concept directly related to the doctrine of Justification. Justification is that step in salvation in which God declares the believer righteous which includes the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (crediting it to the believer’s “account”). Imputed righteousness therefore means that upon repentance and belief in Christ, individuals are declared righteous. This righteousness is not the believer’s own, rather it is Christ’s own righteousness ‘imputed’ to the believer.

This day let us faithfully serve Jesus Christ, our great Savior, who was sent as a gift of first quality!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I am eternally grateful for Jesus who imputed His righteousness in me, just as You imputed my sin into the sinless Lamb of God who poured out His life for me on the cross.  Through this merciful and selfless sacrifice of Christ I am justified. Jesus truly paid the price for my salvation and removed the penalty of sin for all who truly repent and believe.  Thank You for this gift paid in full by the atoning work of Your Son, Jesus, in whose name I pray.  Amen.

Congratulations to all who finished reading the New Testament in the last 40 days! If you finished the project and would like to share a brief testimony that we can share with our readers let us know. We will merely use your first name and geographical location and share several as a means of encouraging others. Use this form to submit your NT reading testimony.

Edna, Sunday school teacher for over 50 years!
Giving honor…  One of the blessings of the local church is meeting people who serve Christ in the trenches. About five years ago we had an interim role for six months in a church near Harrisburg, PA and met Edna who turns 90 today.

Edna faithfully taught children in Sunday School and children’s church for over fifty years! At the time we saw her she was no longer actively teaching but we recall her pleasant greeting and steady disposition. Her husband had gone to be with the Lord several years before we were there so we never had the pleasure of meeting him, but she passed on one of his tie tacks which I wear often.

I suppose many of you know people like Edna in your church. I encourage you to bless them with a word of appreciation!

Kraybill School Auction

Once a year we have a very busy road, the weekend of the Kraybill School auction!

Kraybill auction tent
A pig roast was held Friday night under the large tent.

Turkey Hill trailer
This is what is painted on the trailer of a truck from the Turkey Hill Dairy.
I enjoy eating a product in Lancaster County imported from Lancaster County!

Ice cream makers at Kraybill auction
I always enjoy seeing and hearing them make homemade ice cream using the old putt-putt engines and we all enjoy eating it!

Gene Wenger in mobile kitchen
Our friend Gene Wenger, Pennsylvania’s pork king, brings his mobile kitchen, a converted trailer. They sell lots of grilled meats!

Kraybill auction friends
We see lots of friends and Ester wanted in this photo as well. To the left is Dan Dinse, our friendly dentist, and Carole and Don Musser, longtime friends who now live in State College.

Mr. Weber pie
I was pleased to see a pie with my name on it up for auction, though anyone who knows me personally would know I don’t make pies. Actually Mr. Weber is the principal of the school so this pie should bring in a pretty generous bid.  Two Webers, spelled the same way, on the same rural road has caused some confusion over the years for the mailman.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Amazing Love”  Video  Covenant Life Church

“On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand”  Video

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

You can still tour the Martin Guitar company. See here.  You can also watch the tour on YouTube.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“John Parkinson’s Story” “We Finally Got Ya”

Monday, May 16, 2011

Amish alfalfa harvest 5/11/11
Amish Alfalfa Harvest

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“John Parkinson’s Story”  “We Finally Got Ya”

“For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

We attended a Gideon’s Banquet on Thursday last week. The Gideons are best known for Bible distribution all over the world. Most of all of you have seen the Billes in hotels and hospitals. The speaker, Richard Malone, attended the same Bible College that Brooksyne and I attended, although some 20 years earlier. Interestingly he was one of the original members of the Couriers, a gospel group that has been around for over 50 years and continues to minister in song.

Richard, a retired schoolteacher, is now active in the Gideons and shared a number of remarkable testimonies concerning God’s Word. I have been to several Gideon banquets through the years and am always blessed by these testimonies concerning the power of God’s Word to make an impact on life.

When we lived in New England we attended a state Gideon Convention and heard a remarkable testimony regarding the power of God’s Word and the amazing results of a faithful, persistent witness. This message is a little long but it’s a great story and we believe it will bless you.

John Parkinson joined the Marines right out of school during World War II and was given a small Gideon New Testament and Psalms upon his induction. In fact I have a similar Gideon New Testament that my uncle received. It had this inscription in the front: “To the Armed Forces: “As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength, and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul. Very sincerely yours, Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

At that time Parkinson had no interest in spiritual things at the time the Bible was given to him but he still carried the Testament in his pocket. A short time after enlisting he met a fellow Marine by the name of Charlie Kline, who bore witness to Christ and persistently tried to persuade John to become a follower of Christ, but John just as persistently refused.

The war was over by the time John got to Okinawa and upon the completion of his first term of service he returned home to his farm in upstate New York. But he determined that there was nothing to keep him there so he re-enlisted.  This time he was traveling through the Mediterranean when lo and behold he met up with Charlie Kline again, who was still witnessing for Christ. And John was still rejecting.

While at sea the Korean War broke out and his unit was deployed to Korea; a part of the famed Inchon landing. They marched inland and just when it appeared the war was nearly over the Chinese entered the war and John described the horrendous battles that followed in November 1950.

One night he and Charlie were two of only 6 men left from the original 96 men in his unit and things looked hopeless. Again Charlie witnessed to John but he again refused, angrily shoving Charlie away.

But later that same night in desperation John cried out to God. He pulled out his Gideon Testament and “randomly” turned to the 23rd Psalm where he read the phrase “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” This was remarkable as he looked out on the valley filled with death, since he had no Christian training or Bible knowledge at all.

John did make it out and immediately found a chaplain who led him to the Lord. He inquired about Charlie Kline, but several thought they had seen him removed on a stretcher and he was assumed dead. John returned to upstate New York and this time the farm looked pretty good! He married and began to farm.

Now, “for the rest of the story”:

Years later he joined the Gideons and began to share his testimony. In 1985 he was at a Gideon’s convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While being introduced he noticed a commotion in the back of the room. A man stood up and shouted “We finally got ya!”  It was none other than Charlie Kline!

What a reunion that was! As it turned out Charlie had gotten separated from the rest of the unit that dark night in 1950 and lost his direction. He walked right into the Chinese camp and had to spend three nights in a culvert in sub freezing temperatures to avoid detection. He eventually made it out, but of course he had no idea what happened to John. At least not until 35 years later!

Indeed, “The word of God is living and active!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, through the prophet Isaiah’s words, we are reminded that Your Word does not return void but accomplishes that which You desire.  It is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path. Your Word is divinely inspired and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that we are thoroughly equipped for every good work. We’re grateful for the guidance we receive daily through faithfully reading and applying Scripture to our lives.  Amen.

See Psalm 119:105, II Timothy 3:16 & 17

Note: Due to a heavy schedule Friday, 5/13 we were unable to post a message.

Congratulations to all who finished reading the New Testament in the last 40 days! If you finished the project and would like to share a brief testimony that we can share with our readers let us know. We will merely use your first name and geographical location and share several as a means of encouraging others. Use this form to submit your NT reading testimony.

Gideons 5/12/11
I took this photo at the banquet the other night. Jesse Peters (left), has served with the Gideons for 50 years. He is standing beside Sandy and Richard Malone, who both shared at the meeting.

Dale Breindel and Sally Novosat 5/14/11Saturday afternoon Dale Briendel and Sally Novosat, some long time friends who attended our church in Saint Marys PA stopped by for a visit. They were in our area for a Sight and Sound Theater show as well as a ride on the Strasbug Railroad. Although we moved on from that area 18 years ago we’re still in contact with many of our friends from Northern Pennsylvania.

Amish farm after alfalfa harvest 5/11/11
We visited some friends on their farm.
They were harvesting alfalfa when we arrived. Here’s the closely mown field following the harvest, with only a few round bales remaining for delivery to the barn. We enjoyed our visit, although they were very busy with milking and the harvest.  We were blessed with some fresh home grown vegetables, including Asparagus!
Amish alfalfa harvest 5/11/11
Along the way we passed this farm that had smaller square bales. Alfalfa is a vibrant dark green with a distinct odor I find pleasant. Though it is used as animal feed it reminds me of the rich healthy greens of leaf lettuce and other green vegetables growing in a garden.
Amish children playing 5/11/11
The children playing on a hand cart, for a bit of pleasure! Within minutes of taking this photo they reversed roles and the younger brother provided the “horse” power while his sister was the passenger.

35th anniversary photo
We sat on the front porch rocking chairs in front of the old stone farmhouse and had our 35th anniversary photo taken.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“How Firm A Foundation”  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

“Word Of God Speak”  Video   MercyMe

“The Pencil Parable”  Video   I found this in search of music today. Interesting video presentation!

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)