“What Will The Outcome Be?”

Sun shining on church steeple (Photo by Georgia) The “Old Peace Chapel” at Daniel Boone’s Home and Heritage Center in Defiance, Missouri.
(Photo taken by my cousin Georgia)
“What Will The Outcome Be?”

Message summary: One day we will shed these feeble bodies that are prone to sickness, weariness, aging and disease and we will rise in our glorified, immortal bodies to receive our fully allotted inheritance! What a day, glorious day that will be!
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, ‘My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?’ He replied, ‘Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end'” (Daniel 12:8,9). “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance” (Daniel 12:13).

There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say, it is well

So many of our lives have been disrupted these last several weeks due to a tiny unseen virus. One news source describes the coronavirus like this: “A single, tiny unseen enemy, more powerful than all the armies in the world.”
When living through uncertainty we especially want to know how it will all work out. Do you suppose we are the first generation to ever go through something like this? Our parents grew up during the Great Depression followed by World War 2 when they were in their early twenties. That was certainly a hard time full of uncertainties.

Only two years before Stephen’s parents were born during our grandparents time the Spanish flu epidemic ravaged our world from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people—about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. (Wikipedia)
Daniel served the Lord about 2,600 years ago. He was one of the exiled hostages taken from Judah to Babylon to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s government. Daniel provides a Biblical model of one who was confronted with the temptation to compromise every bit as much as we are, but he remained firm and faithful to God.

Daniel in his youth Early in his life he made a commitment when he first went to Babylon. If you don’t already know this passage I recommend that you memorize it (at least the first underlined part of the verse). But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8).

Notice that he made the purpose “in his heart”; it wasn’t just a passing thought. Daniel must have deeply contemplated his dilemma, considered the possible consequences, and firmly committed to his decision through fervent prayer. He demonstrates for all of us the great Biblical principle of separation. I urge you to continually learn God’s ways and, like Daniel, make a purpose or resolve in your heart to live according to His commands.

Over his long career of civil service Daniel distinguished himself while maintaining his faith and steadfast obedience to God. The first half of his book is an interesting narrative with such familiar stories as his three friends being cast into the fiery furnace and his own deliverance from the lion’s den. But the last six chapters have some of the most outstanding prophecy in the Bible. God reveals to Daniel events that would transpire over the next several thousand years and even beyond our own time.

At the conclusion Daniel expresses himself in a way in which many of us can identify, particularly when it comes to some of the more difficult prophetic portions of God’s Word. “I heard, but I did not understand.” I’ve sure been there. I’ve read a Scripture portion and wondered, “What does this mean and when will it happen?” And I also wonder this in regard to events in life like the coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve also experienced Daniel’s heartfelt appeal expressed in the question, “My lord*, what will the outcome of all this be?” Surely you have asked the same question. Many are asking that now. He wanted to know what God was going to do just like we do. But like us he didn’t get the answer in every detail he wanted. Some things just won’t be revealed “until the time of the end”.

And that’s true not only with prophecy, but in God’s personal dealings in our lives. Although we know that things will work out according to Romans 8:28, we so much want to know how and when. The answers to most of these questions are simply not provided. So why do we expend so much energy or allow ourselves to become anxiety ridden about those things which we can do nothing about. Yet we so often do!

Paul praying We need to keep moving forward in the direction we feel God is leading and trust Him to provide the answers along the way. The apostle Paul, facing a time of great uncertainty said to the Ephesian elders, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me” (Acts 20:22,23).

Such is the life of faith! My friend, keep trusting today. The book of Daniel ends with this statement. “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance” (Daniel 12:13). Let us also receive this word today in our own lives. One day we will shed these feeble bodies that are prone to sickness, weariness, aging and disease and we will rise in our glorified, immortal bodies to receive our fully allotted inheritance! What a day, glorious day that will be!

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we don’t always know where our present steps will take us on life’s journey, but we do know they lead us to heaven as we walk with You. Our steps here may lead to steep mountains or deep valleys. Crooked paths and rough terrain may be part of the journey, but ultimately we will rest where the steps of Jesus end at heaven’s throne. There we will no longer have questions about our future, for we know that we will spend eternity forever worshiping You giving You glory, honor, praise, and thanksgiving. Grant us peace and joy for our journey here below, amidst the sickness and suffering, as we anticipate our future eternal inheritance. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

* “Lord” is in the small case in this particular Scripture reference because this message to Daniel came from an angel not deity.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Will Rise" Chris Tomlin“I Will Rise”  Video  Chris Tomlin
Finally today:

Pastor John and Faithe Keefer
Many churches and pastors are sharing in creative ways such as Pastor John and his wife Faithe who prepared a brief video service from their home.

Elnora Dresselhaus playing Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
 Elnora Dresselhaus is sharing comforting hymns from her home piano. She is playing “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” in this video. We met Elnora and her husband Richard years ago during a trip to San Diego and have maintained a “long distance” friendship. Pastor Richard Dresselhaus has a daily blog titled “One For The Road” with a brief edifying message that encourages and instructs believers.

“My Times are in Your Hand”

Donegal Creek, Lancaster County PADusk along Donegal Creek

“My Times are in Your Hand”

Message summary: Today, let us once more turn over all that concerns us to our Lord who remains faithful in every change. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of Jehovah is tried: He is a shield to all that trust in Him” (Psalm 18:30).
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“Terror is on every side. But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, my times are in Your hand'” (portions from Psalm 31:13,14,15).
Today let us spiritually feed on a small portion of sacred Scripture from an ancient Psalm, a perspective from David written some 3,000 years ago. One Bible version (NASV) titles this “A Psalm of Complaint and of Praise”. Indeed it has both complaint and praise, true for many of us if we are brutally honest!

“Terror is on every side.” We need to be reminded that terror in some form has always been a condition humans have dealt with. The specific form of terror David refers to is not revealed in this psalm. He refers to adversaries as, “being an object of dread to my acquaintances”; “they hated me without a cause”; “those who schemed to take away my life”. For eight years David ran from King Saul as he and his army sought to find and kill him.
Today the terror du jour is the coronas virus but there are many forms of terror, sometimes more acute then others. Consider the attacks on 9/11. On a personal level we have all dealt with terrifying situations.
“But as for me.” This speaks of the personal resolve David made and we also need to make. The first reference to this phrase is Joshua’s great and often memorized declaration, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). But in Job we read, But as for me, I would seek God, and I would place my cause before God” (5:8). The reference is most common in the Psalms but the last reference is in Micah, But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me” (7:7). That’s a good one for today!
“I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God’.”  Here is a great and necessary confession of faith and purposeful placing of trust. Today regarding the current virus crisis many place their trust in the government or the health care system. While these are important agents God uses and we should be upholding these institutions in prayer, we must fundamentally place our trust in God! As the hymn states “The arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own”.
“My times are in Your hand.” This is so important to deeply recognize. Yesterday I mentioned a sermon in which the speaker, Lee Strobel, refers to worry as “spiritual amnesia”. We need to remember and keep always before us that “My times are in Your (God’s) hand.” We more commonly use the phrase my life is in God’s hand. When we forget this we inevitably fret or worry.
Today, let us once more turn over all that concerns us to our Lord who remains faithful in every change. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of Jehovah is tried: He is a shield to all that trust in Him” (Psalm 18:30).
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, many look for quick answers or temporal solutions to life’s difficulties, but as for me I seek after You, and place my cause before You as I wait expectantly for the God of my salvation to hear and answer me. Just as David sought safety from King Saul by hiding in mountains and caves, I seek safety by hiding in You, the Rock that is higher than I.  I have nothing to dread, nothing to fear, when I am leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus. What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, no matter the chaos of the day when I lean safe and secure on the arms of Jesus. And there I will abide, for apart from You I can do nothing that calms my fears or prepares me for my eternal resting place. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

My Life is in Tour Hands
“My Life is in Your Hands”  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
You don’t have to worry
And don’t you be afraid
Joy comes in the morning
Troubles they don’t last
For there’s a friend in Jesus
Who will wipe your tears away
And if your heart is broken
Just lift your hands and say
Oh I know that I can make it
I know that I can stand
No matter what may come my way
My life is in Your hands
God Is Still in Control
“Still Is In Control”  Video  Mack Brock

“Blessed Assurance For Today”

Fanny Crosby tombstone, Bridgeport, CT

We are standing behind the Fanny Crosby tombstone at Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, CT. We were disappointed that her original tombstone was no longer present, just this one erected by friends in 1955. At her request the small original one read, “Aunt Fanny, ‘She hath done what she could‘” (from Mark 14:8). Today she is 200 years old in heaven. I wonder if in heaven we’ll celebrate our birthday every 100 years!

Blessed Assurance For Today”

Message summary: May the Lord fill your heart with His blessed assurance today regardless of what you are going through and what our world is experiencing!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

On the way back from our trip to Newport, RI earlier this month we stopped by Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, Connecticut to see the tombstone of Fanny Crosby. We had stopped by to see her tombstone in 2008 and decided to do so again. Fanny lived with her half sister in Bridgeport during her last years on earth, and after a six month illness she died on February 12, 1915.
Fanny CrosbyFrances Jane Crosby was born a healthy baby girl on this very date 200 years ago. Six weeks later she was given improper treatment by a “quack” doctor for an eye infection which scarred the corneas of her eyes leaving her blind for the remaining 95 years of her life. She gained the title “Queen of American Hymn Writers” and the “Mother of Congregational Singing in America” due to her extraordinary gift for writing sacred hymn texts or probably the more personal and endearing title, “Aunt Fanny” by those dear to her.

Most all of our readers have sung a song written by Fanny Crosby. She wrote more than 8,000 poems and a good number are still sung today (if your church sings music over 5 years old, that is). She didn’t like the acclaim so she resorted to using pen names to write many of them. Perhaps Fanny Crosby’s most well-known hymn is “Blessed Assurance” with the lyrics written on her tombstone. This hymn was sung at the service we attended for Veda Shibilo, our former church secretary, in New England that prompted our trip to New England in the first place.

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.”

Blessed assurance can be a testimony we all share as we especially consider:

* The provisions of God in our past,
* The presence of God in our present and
* The promises of God in our future.

A reflection on these truths indeed leads to blessed assurance!

Today let us consider several needed forms of assurance we all need:
  • The blessed assurance of our salvation, which is the main focus of the hymn
  • The blessed assurance that God is in control; as so many have fears and concerns about the COVID-19 we must remember this and keep it before us
  • The blessed assurance that God will always be with us
The message from this hymn text is one that is such a blessing to hide deep in our hearts; a musical expression of praise and glory to God for His work of salvation in our lives. Fanny Crosby writes about the assurance Christ gives us due to His redemptive work in our lives here on earth with a foretaste of the glorious rejoicing that will take place through all eternity.

In today’s text from the book of Hebrews we read a wonderful phrase, “full assurance of faith”. What a great blessing this full assurance is. “Assurance, which is not a commonly used word apart from theology, comes from the word ‘assure’ which in turn comes from the word, ‘sure’. It speaks of the certainty of our salvation ‘with no doubt as to our acceptance when coming to God by the blood of Christ'” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary). Clarke’s commentary states, “Being fully persuaded that God will accept us for the sake of His Son, and that the sacrificial death of Christ gives us full authority to expect every blessing we need.”

There is certainly a sound Biblical basis for Fanny Crosby’s song. It’s one of the greatest blessings of life to have a full assurance of faith. May the Lord fill your heart with His blessed assurance today regardless of what you are going through.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as heirs of Your salvation, we have been purchased with the sacrificial blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. He gave His all that we might be saved from the eternal consequences of sin and have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We have the blessed assurance that we are redeemed from sin and saved for eternity in heaven. Thank You for such wondrous love and abundant provision on our behalf. Amen.

Brooksyne’s Note:  I highly recommend that you read this concise article about Fanny Crosby to get an overview of her remarkable life. Grandparents, you can see how important your influence is on your grandchildren when you read about Fanny’s grandmother and the ways she taught and influenced Fanny, spiritually and physically, helping her to compensate for that which she could not see with her physical eyes.

“When Fanny traveled, it was usually by train; and she was fiercely independent, insisting on traveling alone, despite her blindness, until she was up in her eighties. Fanny lived in the rundown tenements of lower Manhattan so she’d be nearer her beloved Rescue Missions where she worked with the homeless and addicted.” (Robert J. Morgan “Then Sings my Soul”)

Though the careless “doctor” took away Fanny’s sight God gave her a supernatural memory which she used for His glory. Fanny memorized Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the four Gospels, most of the Psalms, all of Proverbs and many other portions of Scripture. She would memorize her song texts during the night until she could dictate them the next day. Her extraordinary memory enabled her to retain up to forty complete poems until they could be put on paper, most of them used as hymn texts. (Henry Gariepy – “Songs in the Night”)
Fanny married Alexander Van Alstyne and had a baby girl that died in infancy. Her grief was significant, yet she grieved silently and did not speak to others about her loss.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Blessed Assurance”  Video  Shane and Shane

“Blessed Assurance”  Video  Walkers to Heaven

“Blessed Assurance”  Video  CityAlight (Different song, great message)

Finally today:

Beavertown outdoor drive-in service 3/21/20Yesterday we mentioned the many creative ways churches are seeking to have services during this time. My pastor friend, John Keefer, shared about a church in northern PA that had an outdoor drive-in service this last Sunday using a platform built on top of a truck trailer!
“In the Shelter of His Arms”  Video  Rick Maloyed

Here’s a fun quiz for those familiar with hymns. How many hymn titles or phrases from hymns can you find in this poem by Greg Asimakoupoulos?

There is nothing like a timeless hymn
that tunes my heart to praise.
There’s what a friend and at the cross
and then there’s Jesus saves.
These thoughtful words wash over me
and soothe my restless mind
When at the cross, just as I am,
my Savior’s love I find.
Hymns link me to a heritage
that stretches back in time
To others who, amazed by grace,
sang doctrine made to rhyme.
I do enjoy the worship songs
that cause me to look in,
But when it comes to looking up,
there’s nothing like a hymn.

“Interpreting The Present Time”

Installing weathervane eagle on cupola

Jesse and Eli James installing the weather-vane eagle on top of the cupola on our barn.

Note: Like many of you we are essentially home-bound due to the COVID-19 virus. We watched our church service online yesterday which sure is different since the pastor and worship team were in front of an empty sanctuary. (note below)

“Interpreting The Present Time

Message summary: Today’s message is a consideration of interpreting the present time.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“He said to the crowd: ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” (Luke 12:54-56).

On Saturday our friend Jesse and his second oldest son Eli James came over to complete our barn roof project. Jesse is a stone mason by trade (along with farming and managing the Old Windmill Farm). However trade skill-sets are often interchangeable and, although this was his first work on replacing a metal barn roof, he did an outstanding job. Thirteen year old Eli James also worked hard developing good work skills. Children raised on a farm tend to have a good work ethic (carrying out daily chores) and a sense of how to get things done, initially with the prodding of hard working parents.

The culmination of our barn project was placing the cupola back up, which we already had on the original roof. In addition we positioned our new copper Eagle weather-vane at the top. I also inserted a small light in the windowed cupola which comes on at night. It was a pleasant sight as we went outside after dark last night.

After the cupola was mounted Jesse pointed up to the weather-vane and gave me a lesson that I am embarrassed to say it took me 65 years to learn. I had always assumed that the arrow on the weather-vane points in the direction the wind is blowing toward. Is that what you thought? Well, alas the arrow points into the wind designating where the wind is coming from. Being from Missouri (the Show Me state) I had to check this out and verify (see here).

Then Jesse pointed me to our daily Scripture text in the Gospels for consideration. This week I have several messages on my heart concerning our current crisis and had planned one titled a “A Consideration Of Plans” based upon how all of us have seen our plans, big and small, go topsy-turvey. We’ll share that message in the next several days, Lord willing.

In our daily passage Jesus is teaching what one Bible version calls “Warnings and Encouragements”. It has some harsh teachings, both hard to understand and grasp, and somewhat perplexing it seems to me. Read the entire chapter of Luke 12 to see what I mean.

CloudsThe daily portion begins with an illustration from ancient weather forecasting. An observation of clouds from the west indicates rain and wind from the south indicates that it’s going to be hot. In Israel and many parts of the northern hemisphere this is the case.

I admittedly confess my lack of understanding as to why Jesus seems to harshly address His disciples as “hypocrites” in this passage. This is an example of how many things we will understand better by and by.

But musing on today’s text in consideration of the current virus crisis I am intrigued by the phrase, “How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” Now to His initial listeners that was likely their failure to recognize who He was and why He came.

But in a more generalized sense this is a call for seeking to interpret, understand and discern any “present time”. My, isn’t that needed today for our leaders and for each of us during this present time of crisis?

We need to pray that our leaders would be like the “Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).


Praying manFather, we pray for spiritual leaders who have such a vital role during times like this in providing a spiritual and eternal perspective. May many hearts open to these truths.

We pray for our governmental leaders who are dealing with this crisis that they will have understanding and lay aside often petty political considerations for the good of the people they serve.

We pray for protection for healthcare workers who are treating patients, for those seeking to develop a cure and vaccine.

We pray for business leaders who face so many challenges and decisions in their business operations that provide employment for millions of people, for those who fear financial ruin due to the abrupt change in our economy.

We pray for leaders in families rising to extra duties as they seek to lovingly protect family members from the virus.
We pray for those who have lost loved ones due to the virus and for those presently suffering from the virus, as well as those recovering but dealing with the after effects.
For all these things we trust that You will work out for our good and for Your glory. Amen.
Be encouraged and hope-filled today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Another note: With the current COVID-19 crisis many people may be more receptive to spiritual and eternal truths. With the closing of many church gatherings we especially encourage our readers to consider how our messages may bless others you know. We expect to have messages for the next several days addressing some aspect of what we are all going through.

The best way is to send an email and share the link to the message you feel would be helpful and encouraging. Although a bit more time consuming we suggest individual emails that begin with a personal note from you. Here’s an example a reader sent us that she had used when she shared last Friday’s message:

“Below is a Daily Encouragement that I receive each day from Pastor Stephen Weber and his wife, Brooksyne. I am sharing and hope it brings you the same encouragement and comfort that it did me. I’ve been getting it for several years and it is certainly a source of comfort, encouragement and hope to me. We are in this global health crisis together and God is with us.”
Interestingly, this reader is a senior manager for Mylan, one of the major drug companies working on a cure for COVID-19.
The link on our email messages are found at the top right as “Web version of this message” on each email post and as “Archived message” on the website. We do not suggest group forwards, especially without a personal note, since these appear spammy to many.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Which Way the Wind Blows”  Video  2nd Chapter of Acts     In working on this message I recalled this old song from a group we enjoyed in our youth.
You don’t know which way the wind blows
So how can you plan tomorrow
Jesus knows which way the wind blows
So give Him your tomorrow

Ancient of Days song
In many ways it seems our hearts are especially receptive at this time whether it be a consideration of a Bible text or a song. Yesterday this song came on in a worship music mix I was listening to and it seems so appropriate for this present time. In fact I expect to share a message on the “Ancient Of Days” in the next several days.
“Ancient of Days”  Video  CityAlight

Some more photos of our barn

Eli James installing battens on barn
Eli James installing the battens on barn. A previous owner built our utility barn about 30 years ago using salvaged materials, including old barn siding. He placed tar paper over the structural framing and then nailed these boards over the tar paper which left cracks of various sizes. I guess his idea was that any water getting through the cracks would hit the tar paper and run down inside the siding. Jesse was concerned water would go through these cracks and rot the wood beneath. The battens improve the appearance!

Jesse also installed matching trim at the gable ends for a finished look which the roof didn’t have before.

Lighted cupola
The cupola is lighted at night with a tiny 2.5 watt LED candelabra bulb.
Finally today, on the lighter side:
Sadie ready for church
For the first time our youngest canine, Sadie Willow, joined us for our Sunday morning worship service. Of course we didn’t go far, only to our living room. Ester dressed Sadie up in her Sunday best and she appeared bright eyed and bushy tailed as we sang our worship songs.
Sadie asleep
But Sadie couldn’t stay awake for Pastor Beau’s sermon. Unlike a hard back pew where many parishioners catch a few winks sitting up straight during the pastor’s sermon, Sadie just laid out comfortably on the sofa cushion, before the closing prayer was offered. Perhaps it was the online viewing that caused her to be drowsy instead of the interactive service we usually participate in on a usual Sunday:).
These are not usual Sundays for believers who worship together, but we’re thankful we have the online viewing for an alternative during this critical time. Of course families can also prepare their own worship songs and devotional material which many do. We can’t put God in a box as He can be worshiped in any setting when our hearts are aligned with His.

“You’re Not In This Alone!”

Produce cart at The Carrot Barn near Schoharie, NY 3/15/20

Bringing a little of the natural outdoor colors and vegetation on this indoor cart at “The Carrot Barn” near Schoharie, NY.
“Keep your friends close and your farmers closer… a little local goes a long way.”
“You’re Not In This Alone!”
Note: With the current crisis many people may be more receptive to spiritual and eternal truths and with the closing of many church gatherings we especially encourage our readers to consider how our messages may bless others you know. We expect to have messages all next week addressing some aspect of what we are going through.

The best way is to send an email or text and share the link to the message you feel would be helpful and encouraging. Although a bit more time consuming we suggest individual emails that begin with a personal note from you. The link on our email messages are found at the top right as “Web version of this message” on each email post and as “Archived message” on the website. We do not suggest group forwards especially without a personal note since these appear spammy to many.

Message summary: Today let us consider a great promise we should already know, but are we experiencing the assurance it brings? Jesus said, “I am with you always”.
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'” (Matthew 28:18-20).
During this time of “social distancing” we are especially sensitive to those who live alone. God designed us to be social beings and the first “not good” in the Bible was God’s observation that “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Now of course this is primarily referring to God’s immutable design for the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman but the principle extends to our entire social structure. We were created to live in community; our family, immediate and extended, friends; church; marketplace; workplace and so forth.
Due to restrictions and recommendations our normal chaplain work visits to companies is now being impacted but we still have other opportunities to minister God’s love and care through phone, text and email, including these daily messages.
One thing we can have regardless of our physical proximity to other people is an assurance that “We are not in this alone”. Of course this can be taken in the sense that so many others are suffering and impacted in various degrees.
But today let us consider the benefits of God’s steadfast presence based upon five words from our Lord, “I am with you always”.
Here’s a reminder based upon an encouraging song with an upbeat tempo by a family group called the Browders (link to song is below).
Let me remind you Jesus is for you, He’s right for everything that’s wrong.
I’m here to tell you that He will not leave you, He never abandons His own.
Even though you may not see it right now; you’re not in this alone.
Our daily Scripture portion is customarily called “The Great Commission”, among the final words of Jesus prior to His ascension back to heaven. We normally focus on the middle portion of this passage, His command to the disciples (and all of His followers), “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
But today let us examine three truths promised in this passage that were surely a great source of assurance for the initial hearers and has been for each subsequent generation since then and for us at this time of great uncertainty:
1) “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” What a vitally important truth! Jesus’ authority is inexhaustive, without any limitations. Nothing happens unless He ordains it. There is much speculation about the current virus situation, it utterly dominates the news and most personal conversations. Suffering and pain are a great mystery that can leave us with many questions but we must rest assured in His ultimate authority. The concept of ‘All’ dominates Matthew 28:18-20 and ties these verses together: all authority, all nations, all that I commanded you, all the age.
2) “I am with you always.” This is surely one of the great promises of the entire Bible. Later in the New Testament the promise from God is repeated in the book of Hebrews, in another phrase many of us have memorized, “I will never leave you, nor  forsake you”. The following thoughts are from Pastor David Guzik’s excellent online “Enduring Word” commentary:
A) His presence is complete. “The English adverb ‘always’ renders an expression found in the New Testament only here – strictly, ‘the whole of every day’. Not just when the horizon is in view, but each day as we live it.” (Carson)

B) His presence means privilege, because we work with a Great King. Paul understood this principle well in 1 Corinthians 3:9, where he wrote: For we are God’s fellow workers. Since Jesus promised, “I am with you always,” then we work together with Him in all our service. We certainly work for Jesus, but more than that, we work with Jesus.

C) His presence means protection, because we are never out of His sight or supervision.

D) His presence means power, because as we fulfill this great command, we work in His name.

E) His presence means peace, because it always reminds us that the church belongs to Jesus. It is His church, and His work. How, then, can we worry?

3) “Even to the end of the age.” In case there’s any question about it this isn’t a promise solely for the original disciples. It will last until the end of the age. Then of course we will be in God’s eternal presence in a completely different way free from all the sin and heartache of this world that we experience in this current age.
Day by day and even hour by hour the news changes and it can easily lead one to despair, but remember, “You’re Not In This Alone!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your steadfast presence consoles our fears because it brings to us privilege, protection, power and peace. On an ordinary day we look to so many earthbound sources to provide for our needs physically, emotionally, financially and in other ways, but Your steady presence surpasses any earthbound solution we may seek or rely on. There is no place, even when quarantined or in isolation, where You cannot go with us, for You remind us through Scripture, I will never leave you nor forsake you, for I am with you even to the end of the age. What blessed assurance fills my heart even in troublesome times. Amen.

Personal note: The impact of the virus gets closer when we begin to hear about people we know infected. Beginning with unknown people in China (who are equally loved by God) to celebrities we may know of. Yesterday we read that the missionary son and daughter-in-law of our long-time friend Tommy Carpenter have been infected and today I read that our Executive Director of World Missions, Greg Mundis, has tested positive for Covid 19 and is in critical condition, though he is making progress.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
The Browders“You’re Not In This Alone”Video  The Browders
(This is the song we used in the beginning of our message)

Our Hope in Life and Death
“Christ Our Hope in Life and Death”Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Papa
(This outstanding new hymn was just posted this morning in our email. What a blessed reminder!)

“Put It into God’s Hands”Video  The Browders

On the lighter side today:

The almost always funny Babylon Bee satire site has several brief takes on all this current news including this one: God To Ignore Quarantine And Continue Being Everywhere
This video from a dog’s perspective: Pluto addresses the internet in this time of crisis

A final set of photos from my two day trip to upstate New York this last weekend.

Greenhouse at The Carrot Barn near Schoharie, NY 3/15/20
A very tidy greenhouse at “The Carrot Barn” near Schoharie, NY. It was nice to visit and express appreciation to the farming family who operates this property. (The senior member is watering in this photo.)
Train Station woodshop, NY 3/14/20
Yesterday we mentioned a belt-powered woodshop that used an old Train Station in Sharon, NY. This place is very interesting but with all the old wood and sawdust on the floor it seems very vulnerable to a fire!

Train car storage, NY 3/14/20
A very old train car is used for storage. These cars were a fire hazard and in the late 1960s the Federal Railway Administration outlawed wooden cars.

“Our Most Important Reservation”

The Foxcreek Covered Bridge near Schoharie, NY 3/15/20

The Foxcreek Bridge near Schoharie, NY, a replica built in 1982 as a walking bridge!

“Our Most Important Reservation

Message summary: It’s always a good time to consider our most important reservation!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

When we were children we didn’t travel much and if we did we stayed overnight with relatives. It’s hard now to imagine how many adults and children crowded into that old farmhouse my Uncle Gentry and Aunt Dora lived in. We just made space to fit another one in to sleep on the floor and thought nothing of it. Anybody else have a memory like that?

Motel vacancy signOn the few occasions we stayed at a motel my parents, to my recollection, never made a reservation. At that time the roadside motels where we stayed had a Vacancy/No Vacancy sign.  Mom, who had a pretty extreme Depression era thriftiness mindset, would expect Dad to stop the car, jump out and ask at the front desk the cost of the room (of course we all stayed in one room). If she thought it was too high we would drive to the next place that had a vacancy sign until we finally landed upon an acceptable rate.

Brooksyne and I did that when we first got married, but for many years now I make our reservations ahead of time, which of course is a lot easier with the online reservation system that most hotels offer these days. Actually I rather enjoy preparing for a trip this way. When you’re tired from travel it’s great to have a room waiting and to know in advance just how much it will cost!

Speaking of reservations, let’s consider today the most important reservation we can make, the reservation for our eternal dwelling place! Let us especially consider the phrase in our daily text, “reserved in heaven for you”.

Notice the last two words in that phrase, “for you”. Praise God! Heaven is not just about some remarkable doctrine. It’s not merely a colorful destination we can only dream about when things are turning ugly on this side. It’s not just a nice sentiment of comfort for those who attend funeral services. Peter said to his original readers and through the sacred Scriptures to all of us that it’s “for you”. Praise God for His eternal provision!

Our future inheritance is reserved in heaven, solid and secure. It is “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away“. Jesus said it’s where “moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). Paul described it as “an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1). The Revelator John declared it’s where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Heaven is a place that surpasses human vision and defies our limited terminology!

Vitally important notes about our heavenly reservation:

  • A reservation is required; unlike many restaurants and hotels where you can walk in unprepared and still get a meal or room we must prepare for heaven and make our reservation before we die!
  • A reservation is available to all who call upon the name of the Lord. During this grace period you won’t find a “No Vacancy” sign posted!
  • This reservation has already been paid in full through Christ’s atonement.
  • This reservation is confirmed when we surrender our life to Christ.

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to make this most important reservation. God’s reservation system is always available! “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:8,9).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for making us joint heirs in this wonderful eternal inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade kept in heaven for us. We gratefully claim this inheritance and await the appointed date when we will experience in full the blessings it provides. Troubles in this life diminish our hope, but rejoicing in the life yet to be revealed gives us a glorious living hope! Help us to fix our present hope on the future return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank You for making my reservation in heaven since it is only there that enemies such as disease, aging, pain and loss will not exist. I want to keep this eternal perspective today so that I will set my affections on things above, not on things of this earth. Amen.

A true story: My Uncle Gentry was a very colorful man full spunk and vigor till he died in his mid-eighties. I recall we once had stopped in our car at a rail crossing for a slow moving freight train to pass outside tiny Harwood, Missouri where they lived. Uncle Gentry, who had been following us, flew around us in his car and dashed across the track right in front of the train! (Now to be fair he lived in that area and was probably very accustomed to just how slow the train was going.)
Uncle Gentry and Aunt Dora had four children, their youngest being George, the only boy, who became a Baptist preacher. George, (AKA Dub) and Joy have been married now over 57 years. He brought his newlywed wife Joy to his childhood home for a family gathering shortly after they were married and she experienced an unusual form of family togetherness.  Joy’s a great storyteller and last night refreshed the story for me in her own words. I think you’ll enjoy it along with her pleasant southern accent.  Audio (4 minutes)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Living Hope”  Video  Calvary Church Choir, Orchestra and congregation.
“Living Hope”  Video  Phil Wickham
“When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder”  Video  Dailey and Vincent

In Yesterday post  I mentioned that last weekend I took an Amish group up to a very rural part of New York state (west of Albany) to see family. This part of New York is altogether different than what most people think of when they hear New York (the city). Over the last fifteen years Amish from Lancaster County, as well as Plain groups from other areas, have moved and established settlements in this area restoring abandoned farms and establishing small businesses. Here are several more photos.
Amish skating rink in upstate New York 3/15/20
Amish skating rink.
However they have had a rather mild winter like us up that way and didn’t use it as much as most winters.

Test drive in upstate New York 3/15/20
While up that way we went to horse farm where Jesse test drove a horse for his son Moses. Turns out he didn’t feel the horse was suitable.
Horse treadmill in upstate New York 3/15/20
The horse farm had a treadmill for the horses. See video. Jesse told me the horses really seem to enjoy it.

John's wood shop in upstate New York 3/15/20
Jesse’s brother-in-law, John, took us to where he works, an old train station where they restore old window sashes for historic buildings. They use belt driven equipment.
The Foxcreek Covered Bridge near Schoharie, NY 3/15/20
Another view of the Foxcreek Covered Bridge near Schoharie, NY

“In Times of Trouble”

Church sign

A timely Scripture message we passed yesterday in rural Lebanon County, PA.
“In Times of Trouble”

Note: Due to chaplaincy duties we were unable to post a message yesterday.

Message summary: Hear the word of the Psalmist, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8). Today let us experience great assurance in our steadfast refuge!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).

This last weekend I took our friends Jesse and Anna Ruth and five of their children to visit relatives in upstate New York. It was a long drive of over 300 miles and we had a special request from 7 year old Lizzie who had told her dad that she wanted to go through a tunnel.

So on the way back to Lancaster County we took the PA turnpike which has a long tunnel under Blue Mountain. We had a full fifteen passenger van which also included a group of youth who rode along to visit their friends for the weekend. When we got to the tunnel I issued a challenge to see who could hold their breath the entire time we drove through the tunnel! Most managed to do so.

After we got through the tunnel two year old Stephen informed his mom, “I want to go through the tunnel again”. Now going through a long road tunnel may be fun, especially for a child, but few to none would never elect to go through the tunnel experiences of life for a second time around! Actually the turnpike tunnel was well lit but in many of the hard tunnel experiences of life we have darkness all around us, and sometimes we can’t see light at the end of the tunnel. As a country and throughout the world we are presently in a tunnel of uncertainty regarding a virus unheard of by most just a couple of months ago.

Like many of you we continue to be barraged with information concerning the covid-19 virus. What effect will it have on many areas of life; our health, our families, our social settings, our finances, our jobs, etc. At times like this especially we may wonder how this will all work together for our good.

Of course in reality every day things like this happen somewhere throughout the world in various scales. It just really hits us when it’s either personal or, as in this case, on a scale that is being called pandemic.

Today we share a word of hope and encouragement from one of the most obscure Old Testament prophets. Nahum served and spoke for God during very troubling times, as Assyria was tormenting the people of God. This oppression surely caused a troubling, yet frequently asked question for all generations; Why does God allow such evil and inhumanity? Now of course we make a distinction between human-caused evil like a terrorist bombing from natural disasters like a tornado but both result in “times of trouble”.

In different ways we may ask the same question, particularly during “times of trouble”. We often consider our Christian brothers and sisters throughout many parts of the world who are being persecuted or are otherwise suffering. On a personal level you might be in the heat of a difficult trial and you may wonder, “Where is God when I hurt?”

In today’s message let us consider our refuge in times of trouble.

The prophet Nahum speaks through the Holy Scriptures, the inspired and inerrant Word of God, with three great truths for us and for our brethren around the world. Let us consider them during this current time of trouble:

1) “The Lord is good!” This divine attribute may be so well assumed that it’s taken for granted by most. But what if the Supreme Being of the universe was not good? That’s a thought I find hard to even comprehend and have no desire to ponder in depth just how dreadful life would be if it were true. But Psalm 100:5 reminds us, “For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations”. That includes our own generation!

2) He’s “a refuge in time of trouble”. The text does not teach that there will not be times of trouble for such has always been the experience of the human race. The Hebrew word for refuge conveys a fortified place; a defense: force, fortress, rock, strength. What a great assurance during the inevitable times of trouble! Jesus is the rock in a weary land. He is an anchor in the times of storm. “The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil” (Proverbs 10:29).

3) “He cares for those who trust in Him.” Here’s our part; we are called to trust God. When we are in the middle of a tunnel, with darkness behind us and darkness before us, God still calls us to trust, to lean hard on Him. When we’re in the valley of deepest despair we must trust. When we’re on the spiritual mountain we still must trust! A very familiar New Testament verse many have memorized instructs the believer not to carry the heavy burdens of life in our own strength but to “cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). Our Lord Jesus is the great Burden Bearer.

Finally today, hear the word of the Psalmist, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8). Today let us lean hard on our steadfast refuge!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to trust You at all times – in times of rejoicing and times of trouble.  You promise to be our refuge who will rescue us from danger. Certainly we don’t read anywhere in Scripture that we will not face danger, for it is in these intensely dangerous situations that we find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Daily we witness Your rescue from dangerous situations on this side of eternity, but we also daily witness (by faith) Your rescue that takes place on the other side of eternity, when a believer crosses over from this sin-filled, weary world and steps onto the eternal green pastures of glory land. May our faith increase and our devotion deepen as we lean hard on You until that promotion day. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“You are my Refuge”  Video  Shannon Wexelberg, Matthew Ward

“Refuge”  Video  New Creation Worship
“God Is My Refuge”  Video  Mountain Faith
Randy Alcorn’s book titled, “If God Is Good” delves into many of these issues and we recommend it to our Daily Encouragement readers who may want to go deeper on this subject. Of course no book we’ve read ever has or likely ever will read will satisfies all our questions but this one has some interesting perspective.

This last weekend I was in a very rural part of New York state (west of Albany) that is altogether different than what most people think of when they hear New York (city). Over the last fifteen years Amish from Lancaster County as well as Plain groups from other areas have moved and established settlements in this area restoring abandoned farms and establishing small businesses.
Mennonite churchgoers in New York 3/15/20

A Mennonite family heading to church in upstate New York. If we are not old-order we may have trouble distinguishing between the various old-order groups but if you are an old-order group you identify them right away! The Amish group in our van immediately noted the distinctions!

Sunken truck in New York 3/15/20
It appears this old truck has been parked for awhile! Kind of looks like it has sat in this field so long it has taken on camouflage colors to blend in with its surroundings.

Lighted truck in New York 3/14/20
This owner keeps his truck lit up, though I’m not sure how he lights up the headlights.

House in New York 3/15/20
This stately old home has a flat roof, characteristic of many homes in this area.

“In Times Like These”

Entrance to Fort Adams, Newport RI

These huge anchors are displayed at the entrance to Fort Adams.

In Times Like These”

Message summary: Truly, the anchor of hope we have in Jesus Christ is firm and secure!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

Our nation, indeed our world, is now gripped in suspense with many in the throes of fear concerning the covid-19 virus. It’s on the news 24/7 and is the subject of most conversations in just about every setting. Of course, it affects each one of us and has certainly had an effect on being out in public, the workplace, places of worship, educational institutions and the list grows daily. An old song come to mind.

In times like these, we need a Savior.
In times like these, we need an anchor.
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.
The Bible uses “anchor” in a figurative sense in our daily Scripture text describing the anchor of hope we have in Jesus Christ. We can indeed declare, “We Have An Anchor!”

This is the only place in the entire Bible that “anchor” is used in a figurative sense. Yet I studied a song database which includes 17 songs that refer to the spiritual anchor. Apparently believers throughout the ages have really identified with this Scriptural simile, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

The anchor refers to the hope generated by faith in Christ as our Solid Rock which enables the believer to stand firm in face of temptations, calamities and storms. There are two qualities to this anchor of hope that may seem similar, but indeed express two complimentary truths. It’s a firm and secure hope. It’s as if the Holy Spirit wants to make it absolutely clear to us just how dependable this anchor is!

How thankful we should be for this anchor of hope. Are you going through some tumult in addition to the mutual trial we are all dealing with regarding the covid-19? Is your faith being shaken by circumstances beyond your control? Today we encourage you that we do have an anchor and this anchor will always hold. It will weather the worst storm. Truly, the anchor of hope we have in Jesus Christ is firm and secure!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as an anchor is standard safety equipment for a boat to remain afloat against raging tides of water, Jesus is the anchor for our soul, keeping us steadfast and hopeful when the strong tides of doubt, disappointment and fear seek to overtake us. So many drift aimlessly day in and day out uncertain of their present and future standing while we, as believers, anchor fast to our Rock which cannot move, as He leads us to the heavenly shore where storms will one day be all past forevermore. Amen.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“In Times Like These”  Video  Cragun Family

Last month ago we shared a similar message titled “Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor”, in part prompted by the song by the same title (Video by Matt Boswell and Boyce College Choir). This would be a great congregational song!
Matt Boswell
Finally today:
Barn roof replacement
This morning we resumed work on replacing the overhang sections of our barn roof. 13 year old James is replacing boards as Jesse reinforces the other side. Their school is not meeting today like all the schools around us due to the covid-19 scare.
Newborn jersey calf 3/16/20
This miniature jersey calf was born this morning on the Old Windmill Farm! When I was trying to capture a photo of this newborn she was having a difficult time because the calf kept running around her mother. As humans, moms can be thankful they have 9 months to a year before they have to chase after their little ones that run circles around them.

“Teach Your Children Well”

Interior of Touro Synagogue, Newport, RI

Interior of Touro Synagogue, Newport, RI

Teach Your Children Well”

Message summary:
Fundamentally, for the believer, teaching our children well and seeing that they are successful in what matters most is of utmost importance. What matters most is that we love the Lord your God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands” (Psalm 78:5-7).

This last weekend we toured the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. Built in 1763 it is the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States, the only surviving synagogue building in the U.S. dating to the colonial era, and the oldest surviving Jewish synagogue building in North America. In 1946, it was declared a National Historic Site. It has been beautifully restored. We had the tour all to ourselves so we had plenty of time for back and forth discussion.

The command to teach our children was and is a common practice of the Jewish people going all the way back to the law of Moses expressed so well in our daily text. The Jewish people have practiced this even before the law was given to Moses as they passed down their faith from generation to generation. This element of Jewish practice became Christian practice as well. During baby dedications parents make a pledge to raise their children for the Lord.

Baby dedications are a special time when parents make a commitment to the Lord to bring their children to church, to teach them about Jesus in their home, and also to provide for them a godly example. These are tender moments in a church service when parents publicly declare their intent to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.

Of course, you can’t script babies or small children so there’s always a possibility of something unpredictable happening, often rather humorous even for a solemn occasion. Consider the preacher who was holding a rather agitated little fella, arms flailing about, who knocked the preacher’s eye glasses off while he was praying over him.

Children can also have a potential for misunderstanding such as a little four-year-old who, after witnessing his baby brother’s dedication, sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His mom and dad asked him three times what was wrong but got no reply, only more sobbing. Finally, the boy cried out, “The pastor said he wanted us to be brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys!”

In the wonderful hymn titled “A Christian Home” we have these words of guidance and conviction:

O give us homes built firm upon the Savior,
Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide;
Where every child is taught His love and favor
And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:
How sweet to know that tho’ his footsteps waver
His faithful Lord is walking by his side!

Perhaps Moses was holding a massive baby dedication when he issued the daily challenge to parents recorded in Deuteronomy 6. It presents a timeless responsibility for all godly parents: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” This speaks of a home permeated with God’s truth day in and day out.

We belong to a remnant staying faithful to the Lord. But my heart is grieved as I consider the increasingly hostile world these little ones are growing up in. This week we spoke to a young father who is attempting to teach his children truth as taught in Scripture and shield them as long as possible from the prevailing evil of our day. He shared how his daughter had been so confused when she was inadvertently exposed to moral depravity.

May the Lord richly bless and encourage all young families today and some not so young as many grandparents are now raising their grandchildren. May God grant prevailing grace upon each home committed to faithfully serving the Lord and building a Christian home. Fundamentally, for the believer, teaching our children well and seeing that they are successful in what matters most is of utmost importance. What matters most is that we love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we pray for our children, that they may grow in faith as they grow in years. May they walk in the ways of Christ, and not in the ways of the world. Keep their steps safe, but should they stumble, we know You will uphold them with Your right hand. When tempted or confused by the devil we pray that You will deliver them and remind them of the biblical principles they learned from their earliest memories, even though they may run counter to the principles and behaviors common to the world in which they are raised. We commit them to Your loving care and watchful eye. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

A baby dedication is…

  • an opportunity to thank God for the precious gift of a child.
  • an opportunity to publicly declare, as parents, your commitment to abide by Biblical principles and to raise your children according to God’s standards.
  • a benchmark you can return to time and time again.
  • a public expression of the cooperative role the church will have in raising your child in the ways of the Lord.
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“A Christian Home”  Video  Evie

“What Kind of Man”  Video  Legacy Five  Great new song Brooksyne first heard yesterday on the radio!

Touro Synagogue, Newport, RI
Lois, a longtime friend wrote in response to yesterday’s message: “I was in my early 20s when I first saw the ocean. I remember that the hymn, “The Love of God,” came to mind. “Could we with ink the ocean fill to write of the love of God would drain the ocean dry.” So I remember a sense of the vastness of God’s love. And as I stood beside it, it came in to wash over my feet. God’s love reaches out to me! And that love reaches out to every continent! It reminds me of another hymn, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he can love me…..how wonderful….how marvelous is my Savior’s love for me”.

Today we share our final set of photos from our visit to Newport, RI and the surrounding area this last weekend.

Paradise one room schoolhouse Middletown, RI
Paradise one room schoolhouse in Middletown, RI was established in 1875.
It is now used by the Middletown Historical Society

Boyd's Windmill, Middletown, RI
Boyd’s Windmill, located next to Paradise School House, is an historic smock mill consisting of a sloping, horizontally weather-boarded or thatched tower, usually with six or eight sides. It is topped with a roof or cap that rotates to bring the sails into the wind. This type of windmill got its name from its resemblance to smocks worn by farmers in an earlier period. They used windmills on Aquidneck Island to power gristmills due to the scarcity of flowing water.

Entrance to Fort Adams, Newport RI
These huge anchors are at the entrance to Fort Adams.
Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport RI
I visited the stately grounds of the Tennis Hall of Fame while Brooksyne took the Cliff Walk.
Grandstand courts at Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport RI
Grandstand courts at Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport RI
Each summer a major USTA tennis tournament is held on these grass courts.
Finally today:
Backroads of Lancaster County 3/11/20After our visit to Newport over the weekend it was nice to be back home in Lancaster County this week on the back roads once again!
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“God is Mightier”

Cliff walk tunnel view, Newport, RI

Cliff Walk tunnel view, Newport, RI

“God is Mightier

Message summary:
A view of the ocean reminds us of God’s mighty power when we see the vast body of water and watch the great breakers crash into the shore. God is mightier than any problem we face, personally, in our nation and in the world. God is mightier!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea– the LORD on high is mighty” (Psalm 93:3,4). “For I am the LORD your God, who churns up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD Almighty is His name” (Isaiah 51:15).

Several times a year we enjoy seeing the mighty ocean. This last weekend we visited Newport RI which is on Aquidneck Island where ocean views can be seen to the east, south and west. The Cliff Walk runs parallel to a cliff leading down to the ocean on one side and the spacious back yards and views of the Newport mansions on your other side. It’s certainly unlike any of our country walks here in Lancaster County, though we very much enjoy them as well!

Many will have a first-time memory of seeing the mighty ocean. Our favorite memory of a first ocean sighting took place about 11 years ago when we took our friends Jesse and Anna Ruth, to the ocean in Ocean City, NJ. They had four children at the time who had not yet seen the ocean. As we approached the ocean we began to pass larger bodies of inland water and the older kids would excitedly say, “Is that it?!” Finally we had that first view of the vast ocean and of course the kids were impressed.

We spent some time on the beach and the three older children sure liked playing in the water. After awhile Anna Ruth wanted their younger son, Eli James, who was about two at the time, to rest for a few minutes but he could hardly hold still saying, “I wanna go back in the big pond”. In his perspective from living on a farm the only body of water he was familiar with was his farm pond. We teased one another for the rest of the trip and ever since at him referring to the mighty ocean as “the big pond”.

Do you have a first ocean sighting memory?

Now that we live inland we find it a blessing to only be about 3 hours from a shore point where several times a year we can view the mighty ocean, walk along the sandy shoreline or boardwalk, and hear the crashing waves all the while experiencing other nautical sights, sounds, smells and fresh tasty seafood!

As we watch the pounding waves hit the shoreline the words to an old gospel hymn, “Like a Mighty Sea” comes to mind:

Like a mighty sea, like a mighty sea,
Comes the love of Jesus sweeping over me;
The waves of glory roll, the Savior to extol;
Comes the love Jesus sweeping o’er my soul.

The mighty ocean has inspired quite a number of Scripture verses, hymns, and settings for writings; both fiction and nonfiction throughout the ages. The above Psalm portion extols the might of God. The sea referred to by the Psalmist was likely the Mediterranean Sea. Israel is small geographically and Jerusalem is not far from the Mediterranean Sea.

A view of the ocean reminds us of God’s mighty power when we see the vast body of water and watch the great breakers crash into the shore. The mysteries that lie below the sea only underscore the awesomeness and depth of God’s great power. Truly the waves are a fitting analogy of God’s ceaseless mighty power but the Lord on high is even mightier! How mighty is God? “He’s big enough to rule the great universe, yet small enough to live within our heart.” *

Today let us consider the word “mightier”. God is mightier than any problem we face, personally, in our nation and in the world. God is mightier!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, any words we speak or analogies we use cannot adequately describe Your infinite mighty power. It miraculously reaches beyond the heavens, is visible throughout all the earth, and is resident within our own hearts. It is only in experiencing a personal relationship with you that we begin to tap into the inexhaustible power and might that flows from You, Almighty God. Even as the waves of the ocean are powerful and wash up on shore may You fill our lives to overflowing so that Your mighty presence is visible in our lives and spills out to those around us. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Like A Mighty Sea”  Video  Cheryl and Steve Thomson

* “How Big Is God”  Video  Gene McDonald

“What a Mighty God We Serve”  Video  Integrity’s Hosanna! Music
“Greater Than All My Regrets”  Video  Tenth Avenue North
“Bigger Than Any Mountain”  Video  Homecoming Singers
The Cliff Walk
(Brooksyne describes her 3½ mile walk last Sunday afternoon on the Cliff Walk.)
My first experience on the Cliff Walk was in 1992 when my parents invited me to join them for their vacation to New England. My mom had read a lot about the Newport mansions so that was a major stop for us. We walked on the Cliff Walk for probably a mile at the time. I walked it many times when we lived in Taunton, Massachusetts but never for the entire 3½ miles. So I decided to walk it all on Sunday afternoon as the weather got warmer. Stephen and Ester flew a kite and explored a lighthouse while I was doing the walk. Ester does not have the physical endurance for such a long walk due to her heart problems and still recovering from his knee injury Stephen wasn’t comfortable with a long walk yet.
Cliff walk entrance, Newport, RIThe north end of the Cliff Walk begins at the western end of Easton’s Beach and ends 3½ miles later at Bailey’s Beach, though there are several entrance points along the way for those who want to take a brief walk or to see a particular spot on the trail.

Cliff walk map, Newport, RI (Click to enlarge)
Click to enlarge this map to see the various roads that intersect with the trail. Also note the portions in red that were a bit treacherous!

Cliff walk, Newport, RI
The first part of the walk is essentially a sidewalk with views on both sides, though my eyes were drawn to the water.

Cliff walk, Newport, RI
A view off the cliffs. People who ignore signs of danger get off the trail and walk on the cliffs. (In my younger years I was among such people, till I married Stephen who finds these settings more alarming than I.)

Cliff walk, Newport, RI
Down the 40 steps to the ocean. Restored in the 1990’s these 40 steps bear the names of the donors who gave $3,000.00 toward their step. Originally built in the 1880’s the 40 steps was a gathering place for the servants during their spare time who worked at the mansions during the gilded age. They fished, danced, and socialized at this spot.

Cliff walk, Newport, RI
Toward the end of the walk it was rather challenging with no obvious trail and lots of rocks. Further up the trail it got even more hazardous and a bit tricky when you were near the cliffs and on unstable rocks. The Lord sent an older gentleman, along with his Irish Setter, Grace, who helped me navigate the hazardous part of the trail. He told me he first walked on the Cliff Walk in 1955 and for the next 40 years he walked it 5 to 6 times a week before he moved away, and only recently moved back. I was glad that the Lord sent him my way!

Cliff walk, Newport, RI
The mansions – a few of them anyway. Not only are the old mansions visible, but if the homeowners are willing, you can view their back yards while walking the trail. However, some of the chain link fencing separating the mansions from the walk have colored screen inserts that block the view, though people have torn holes in various places to take a peek or a photo.

Cliff walk mansion, Newport, RI
A view of one of the newer and not so famous mansions.
Cliff walk, Newport, RI
The walk included two tunnels, the least pleasant view along the entire trail but it brought a little variety to the setting. Our lead photo today is the ocean view from one of the tunnels.

Cliff walk, Newport, RI
The Cliff Walk ends at the end of Bellevue Avenue The beach seen in the distance is known as Bailey’s Beach, the most exclusive beach club in Newport. In the foreground is a beach for the rest of us known as “Reject’s Beach”. That’s where those who are not members of the exclusive beach club can come!

It took me 2.5 hours to complete the walk which included several stops to take photos and check out some beautiful sights. The Cliff Walk said to allow for 2.5 to 3.0 hours to walk the entire length so I guess my pace was right on target. It was such a beautiful, invigorating walk and I can’t wait to do it again on my next visit to Newport.