“The Antidote To A Hard Heart”

October 21, 2015

Painted gourd (Photo by Doris High)
Painted gourd with Scripture
(Photo by Doris High)

“The Antidote To A Hard Heart”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:13-15). “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Happy Birthday Today is a special day for our family and ministry. First of all it’s Brooksyne’s birthday so that’s real special in our household! Some women are bit more reluctant to share about their age, as the number climbs, so I’ll just reveal that she’s five dozen, a significant milestone. We are going out this morning to make some chaplain visits and afterwards we’ll enjoy lunch today at the Shady Maple (I’m buying, sort of, since hers is free with the purchase of my lunch).

Encourage one another daily Today is also the 19th anniversary of this ministry started in 1996. I had preached a sermon in the Sunday evening service the night before on encouraging one another daily and that was the leading I had from the Holy Spirit as to how I was to “encourage one another daily”. I sent a short email to two people in our congregation (both of whom still receive these messages). Though it’s 19 years later, it’s still called “Today” so here we go again!

We’ll share some more information about our ministry below but today we want to consider the word “hardened” in the daily text. This translates the Greek word “skleruno” which is the very same word from which we get the word sclerosis in English. You may be most familiar with this word in the description of a disease called arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening and thickening of the arteries.

Cholestrol If you’re over 40 you’ve probably had your cholesterol checked. High cholesterol contributes to the buildup of gunk (note: that’s not the actual medical term) in the blood vessels and that’s not good. This is a health issue I deal with, although it has decreased and I’m still working on it. It’s not all my fault as it’s partly genetic from my mother’s side, but the problem that I have to take responsibility for is the kind of foods I like that contributes to high cholesterol. It’s a constant battle due to the abundance of great food! Did I mention that we are having lunch today at the Shady Maple?!

Taking care of our physical health is important (see 1 Timothy 4:8) but it’s even more important to take care of our spiritual health. The warning in the daily text is every bit as needed today as when it was written. We all know people whose hearts have become hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Just yesterday we heard a sad story from a young lady who grew up in one of our churches whose husband has abandoned her and their children. We recall the early years of their marriage and their mutual commitment to serving the Lord together. Satan is a crafty, creative, and persistent foe. His specific weapons will change, but his strategy and goal are always the same. He wants to harden our hearts.

Hebrews 10:25

Seeds of discouragementToday, we want to encourage you in your walk with Christ. We know the danger of a hardened heart. According to Scripture encouragement is a powerful antidote to a hard heart. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”.

We also urge you to consider one who needs encouragement. Perhaps the Spirit will bring to mind one who is discouraged about a matter, one who may even be struggling in their walk with God or one whose heart is becoming hardened.

It seems from reading the text the act of encouraging is beneficial both to the encourager as well as the one being encouraged. Let us be vigilant in the fight against hard-heartedness caused by the cholesterol of sin. Let us all make it our goal to encourage one another daily!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we want our hearts to remain soft and pliable so that we do not lose our spiritual sensitivity to hear and obey Your voice. We remember those who once had soft, pliable hearts that has now hardened over time. They no longer hear You or sense Your presence in their life. Their spiritual vision has darkened. Help us, Lord, once again on this day to taste and see that You are good. You are the Bread of Life that does not spoil. You satisfy our hunger and forever quench our thirst as we dip from Your spring of living water. The world only offers temporary substitutes that can entrap and draw us away from Your eternal pleasures. We want to remain vigilant in Your Word and heed Your ways so there is no buildup of sin in us that eventually hardens our heart toward You. We want to be steadfast and stouthearted so that we will unswervingly hold to the hope we profess, for You who promised is faithful.  Amen.

Brooksyne’s Musing: Today upon awakening at 5 AM my phone alarm played, “He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need” and without fail I was reminded once again that the most important thing in my life is taken care of; my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life; my future eternal home is already secured for me. I was also immediately aware that this was a big birthday that I woke up to which I’ve not been too thrilled to acknowledge, but then the song once again spoke peace to my heart. There are far too many things that weigh on my mind: obligations, follow-up commitments, daily duties, things I want to do and don’t have enough time to do. The many unfinished things in my daily life can be daunting and make me feel like a failure, but then I’m reminded the biggest, most important, and that which is of eternal consequence is already done before my new day even begins. I’m so encouraged upon hearing that message in the song, and I live out my day in accordance to  my decision to live for Christ. So whether I’m granted  60 years or 80 plus I want to spend the rest of my life finding out what God’s will is, “His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2), that I might honor Him in all I do.


A Brief History of our Daily Encouragement Ministry

Nigel & Laifong Lee familyIt was on Brooksyne’s birthday in 1996 that I wrote the very first daily encouragement message and sent it to two people, Nigel and LaiFong (photo at left with their son Caleb) who remain friends to this day. I was their pastor at the time and now I calculate they have received nearly 5,000 messages from me/us in the last 19 years!

The first message was only a couple of sentences and a fledgling attempt to encourage. At that time I had no plans to write any more but sent another one the next day, and then the next and I just haven’t stopped. For about the first 8 years I wrote them with little input from Brooksyne but in 2005 she took on a much greater role and now we essentially write them together. It takes us both about 4 hours for each message to do all the work necessary to prepare and post including the technical and administrative work, in addition to the frequent correspondence associated with our many readers who express need.

Here’s a brief timeline:

October 21, 1996 – First email sent and over time developed into a list (which initially merely a group list added to manually one by one.)
1999 – The dailyencouragement.net website developed
2000 – Resigned from pastorate in New England and moved to Lancaster County to work for Marketplace Chaplains USA as a division manager.
2002 – Moved to professional listserve (automated list manager for large email lists) Subscribes and unsubscribes are user initiated as well as maintenance such as removing non-deliverable addresses.
2002 – Began one minute radio spots on WDAC extracted from Daily Encouragement messages.
2004 – Resigned from full-time job with Marketplace Chaplains USA chaplain agency
2005 – Developed html email (formatted with photos), began podcasting daily messages, set up blogs/RSS feeds, Brooksyne “officially” joined in the message preparation.
2006 – Received official endorsement as an “internet chaplain” from chaplaincy endorsement agency (I already had endorsement for corporate chaplaincy.)
Since 2006 we have essentially just kept on keeping on and that’s been enough of a chore writing fresh messages daily since we also work as corporate chaplains and write for other publications!

Support: We are thankful for those who support our Daily Encouragement ministry with their financial offerings. Last year we received support from some 85 different contributors. Some give monthly, others periodically or one-time. If any reader would like to consider an offering to our ministry financially, information is here.

Brooksyne’s Note: As we share the history of this web ministry I am reminded of our Lord’s faithfulness and the diverse giftings He gives to those He has called. It is extremely humbling to us that God’s Spirit speaks to the hearts of men and women all around the world through our daily messages. When we got our first computer Stephen and I would never have imagined the medium of computer technology giving us “a voice” to reach people all over the world. It continues to be a very exciting means for us to share messages from God’s Word as they are lived out in our normal daily lives. Your prayers, feedback, and support spur us on and challenge us to remain faithful in this writing ministry.


Ester and Marita at Shaws 1998
Ester’s part time job as a bagger at Darrenkamps is going well and this week she also substituted as a teacher assistant at the Faith Factory Learning Daycare center in a local church in Mount Joy. This is a very busy week for her as she works Monday through Saturday and has really entered the “real world”, after years of being unemployed!  While living in Massachusetts her adopted granny, Marita (above), worked as a bagger at Shaws Supermarket and we recall as a child how Ester enjoyed pretending to be a bagger. Well, now she is!

Ester at Darrenkamps 10/2015
If any local reader shops Darrenkamps in Mount Joy be on the look-out for a friendly bagger by the name of Ester!

Weber family 1998
Here’s a photo of our family in 1998.
Ester picked this out because she is wearing her official Shaw’s bagger apron that her Granny got for her.

Brooksyne with family 1960
Stephen’s note: I chose to post this photo of a young Brooksyne sitting on her dad’s lap in a family photo with her parents and siblings about 1960. Shortly afterwards they moved from Catoosa, Oklahoma to Tulsa where her mom and dad, Ruth and Brooklyn Sherrell, purchased their first and only house where they raised five children.

Brooksyne with Marvin (about 1988)
Stephen’s note: Brooksyne got a very special birthday greeting on her Facebook page this morning from Marvin, our second of four children from Guatemala, who came to the U.S. for life saving surgery who lived with us during surgery, treatment, and recovery. He posted this photo taken in our church in St. Marys, PA and wrote: “Thank you Aunt Brooksyne for helping regain my health, I will be eternally grateful, God bless you for being very noble. We wish you a happy birthday, my family and me. I love you.” This photo was taken in 1989 as best as we can recall. Marvin recovered from two separate visits and surgeries and now has a family of his own.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Soften My Heart”  Video   Maranatha Singers

“My Eyes are Dry”  Video  Keith Green

My eyes are dry, my faith is old
My heart is hard, my prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me

But what can be done for an old heart like mine
Soften it up with oil and wine
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew with the wine of Your Blood

Keith Green was a popular and insightful song writer and musician born on this date, Oct. 21st, in 1953 (two years older than Brooksyne). His music was formative in our early years in the faith and continues to impact us and many others. He died in a plane crash while he was in his late twenties. Like Dawson Troutman, Jim Elliot, Rich Mullins (who also shares Brooksyne’s birthday but to the exact day, 10-21-55), his early death is a mystery of God’s providence.

Dawson Troutman was an evangelist and founder of the Navigators. He lost his life on June 18, 1956 while rescuing a girl, Allene Beck, from drowning during water-skiing in Schroon Lake, New York.

Jim Elliot was a missionary who died in his late twenties as one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador.

Rich Mullins was a musician and songwriter who died in a car accident while on his way to ministry. Most of us have sang his song, “Our God Is An Awesome God”  Video


Today’s lead photo: For many years we have appreciated Doris High’s photos. She continues to post regularly here. Part of the blessing of Doris’ blog is her steady walk with the Lord along with her husband Cerwin. I got to know them about 8 years ago when I worked for a short time with Transport For Christ, a ministry to truckers.


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