Flower wagon near New Holland, PA 4/27/17
Yesterday we stopped at this flower wagon near New Holland, PA and purchased some very nice petunia hanging plants, alyssum, and sweet potato vines. These folks have a nice greenhouse and sell right from their wagon using the honor system!

“The Blessing Of Anticipation”
Message summary: The apostle Paul wrote, “So you too should be glad and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:18). It just seems like he’s bubbling over with the joy of the Lord. That’s an outlook we can all have as we wait eagerly for our transfer to our future home in heaven.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20,21).

This evening we are taking our Amish “grandchildren” on an outing. We all know how excited children can be about going somewhere different or doing something out of their usual routine. Perhaps you’ve seen a YouTube video where a child is receiving the news they he or she will be going to Disney World.

Excited children For several weeks the children have been excited about the outing. Due to the family size Jesse is renting a big fifteen passenger van that I’ll pick up at 5:00 this evening. They now have 6 kids and another in transit. So with the three of us we’ve long outgrown the days when we could all fit together in our minivan. (Note: Photo to left is for illustrative purposes and is not our “grandchildren”)

We will be going to “The Green Dragon”, a huge Lancaster County farmer’s market and auction, held every Friday near Ephrata, PA. The boys plan to go to the live animal auction and get a hamster and some type of fan-tailed bird. One of the girls told her Mom at breakfast that she is so excited she doesn’t even want to think about it since it will seems so far off.

What are you excited about today? To be sure there are a lot of possible answers. Some are excited as they plan for marriage, others a new baby. Some may have a new home or vehicle they are going to purchase or a trip they will be making. Maybe you are grandparents and the kids and grandkids are all coming over. This weekend we will attend an anniversary celebration for a couple who have been married 70 years.

We are thankful for the occasions in life that prompt the joy of anticipation. Life would be rather bland without anticipation. It’s a lifelong blessing but certainly more pronounced in children.

Philippians 3:20But there is an anticipation that should grow as we age. It’s expressed in the words “eagerly await” in our daily text. It’s an anticipation of our future move to heaven where our true citizenship lies. James Montgomery Boice stated that “the expectation of the Lord’s personal and imminent return gave joy and power to the early Christians and to the Christian communities.”

What issues are you facing today? What has the potential of robbing you of God’s peace and promised abundant life?

Today remember Paul’s words to the Philippian believers. Chained and imprisoned he nevertheless was able to express and encourage joy more in this short epistle than in any other. He wrote, “So you too should be glad and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:18). It just seems like he’s bubbling over with the joy of the Lord. That’s an outlook we can all have as we wait eagerly for our transfer to our future home in heaven.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, anticipation is one of the emotions that excite us regarding a special event or a gift we are about to receive! Children seem to anticipate their next birthday the day after they celebrated their current one. Employees anticipate their long awaited vacation where they can get away from the normal routine and see people and sights that they don’t usually see. But the most glorious anticipation believers experience from the moment of their salvation is Christ’s return to earth or our arrival in heaven. Walking with You, Lord, gets sweeter day by day as we anticipate our long-awaited union in heaven when we shall behold You in all Your glory and splendor. What a day, glorious day that will be! Amen.


Flower wagon near New Holland, PA 4/27/17
So many varieties and colorful choices!!

Amish team raking hay near New Holland, PA 4/27/17
Brooksyne took a photo of this hard working farmer from the passenger side right through my car window as I was driving!

Amish school lunch near New Holland, PA 4/27/17
We passed several Amish one room schoolhouses with the children eating their lunch outside. Notice the girls sitting on their lunch buckets in place of chairs.

Amish school lunch near New Holland, PA 4/27/17
And the same for the boys!

Paglia 4/27/17
Brooksyne teasingly photobombed this picture with Anna Mary and DJ Paglia whom we often meet at Costco. DJ is a retired pastor who is nearing 90 and still preaching! They’re an amazing couple that we’ve come to love and appreciate so much since moving to Lancaster County!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Green Dragon”   Video

For further study on today’s passage.

“Finish Well”  Video  Karen Peck and New River

“Four Essentials to Finishing Well” by Jerry Bridges  Video  Jerry Bridges finished the race last year. He finished well.

“That Day is Coming ”  Video  The Collingsworth Family

“I Found it All”  Video  The Collingsworth Family

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

Reflecting trees (Photo by Georgia)
Reflecting trees on Black River, Wisconsin
(Photo by Georgia M, original here)

“Staying The Course” (Part 2)

Message summary: May God help each of us to stay faithful and stay on course, for both ourselves and for our hearers! “God, help me to stay the course and persevere today!”

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:15,16).

Safety announcement A familiar part of the standard safety announcement on commercial airline flights has to do with the oxygen masks. The flight attendant instructs that you are to place the mask on yourself first, then any children who are with you. Initially this seems to be contrary to the “put others first” ethos. However, it’s altogether proper. By assuring that you stay conscious you’re able to help those around you who may be unable to place the masks on by themselves.

That’s a principle vital to ministry as well. The daily verse reminds us that we must be diligent and stay in good spiritual condition if we are to effectively influence others for Christ and eternity. “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:15,16). We’ve all seen examples of those who didn’t and its effect not only on them but also on those around them.

It is a heavy call to all who minister for Christ whether vocationally or as dedicated lay people. Paul is writing instructions regarding church life and ministry to young Timothy and through the Holy Scriptures to all of us.

“Be diligent” means “having or showing care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties.” Diligence is “focusing my effort on the work at hand.”

“These matters” certainly include the immediate context, but I believe also the entire content of the letter. True ministry is a very serious calling. The word for “diligent”, rarely used elsewhere in the New Testament, conveys “to take care of.” I’m so glad our Lord has provided such an adequate instruction manual for those who serve Him! We are called to devote ourselves “wholly” to this call.  Whatever your form of service for Christ may be give of yourself wholly to that which God has called you to do.

Warren WiersbeMay those to whom we minister see our “progress”. This translates a wonderful word (“prokope”).  In fact, Warren Wiersbe, for many years had a newsletter with this title. It essentially conveys advancement and increase. Is your faith and the character traits of Christ advancing in your life?  Do others see this increase?

“Watch your life and doctrine closely.” That is, pay close attention to how you live and what you believe. So many start the race well but some neglect sin or doctrinal aberration creeps in. We know those who have served for a “season”. I think of fellow Bible College students and associates in ministry who have not “stayed the course.”

About twenty-five years ago I went out to Kansas City to visit my folks. Connecting in Pittsburg I providentially met Paul Grabill*, a  pastor friend who was headed to Springfield MO, but we had the same flight to KC. He told me about a dear friend who had a very successful ministry and pastored a large church who had just fallen into moral failure. I recall how broken-hearted he was and how hard it was for him to believe that his pastor friend (whom I didn’t know) had so grievously failed.

May God help us to regularly examine our lives and doctrine frequently and persevere in doing what is right! Don’t let popular opinion of the day sway you. God’s Word is settled once and for all; its truths and principles apply to every generation.

The final phrase is amongst the most sobering in the Bible: “because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” I certainly don’t believe this negates other teachings about salvation through Christ by grace. Of course Paul is not saying that “we” save. Only Christ can save.

But our influence on others is great, both for good and bad. Certainly there are those who have abandoned the faith due to the fall of preachers and Christian leaders. May God help each of us to stay faithful and stay the course, for both ourselves and for our hearers! “God, help me to stay the course and persevere today!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, doctrinal error or disobedience to truths expounded upon in the Word of God will lead us off course. There are many situations that contribute to our getting off the straight and narrow path of righteousness, if we’re not wholly intentional in denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily, and following in the ways of Christ. There are tremendous disappointments we will experience, whether it’s related to our work situation, our family, our church, financial restraints, our relationships with others, health crises or painful loss. Through it all we know that You will lead us daily and give us grace for every trial  if we just stay the course and musically proclaim with hymn writer Fanny Crosby,

“All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
Amen.

* Paul Grabill stayed the course and passed on after a lengthy battle with cancer about six years ago. Message here. “Paul Grabill… His Life and Legacy” with background song “You Hold Me Now”  Video  This was the video tribute at the Memorial service for a longtime minister friend of mine. This, in our view, is an excellent example of a video tribute.

Brooksyne’s Note: When I was a teen-ager I first heard a song that goes something like this; “Your life’s the only Bible that some people read.  That’s why we must be careful of what we say and do.” I’ve stored these words in my heart over the decades as I’ve sought to live faithfully for Jesus: “To whom much is given much is required.”

II Samuel 11 reveals the progression of sin in David’s life that led him to lust, commit adultery, cover up and when that didn’t work he eventually murdered an innocent man. No doubt David thought himself clever in the beginning but when we choose to commit sin we never know how far it will escalate as it takes us away from that which we know is right. It’s a sad testimonial in the life of a king also known as “a man after God’s own heart.” I consider the privileged position God gave David and yet he used his kingly position for evil. May God help us to be ever vigilant in recognizing the devil’s seducing power when we are in positions of authority. Our earthly authority is always subject to God’s spiritual authority in everything we do! So let’s be careful in what we think, say and do.

Study note: Paul’s prediction in 1 Timothy 4:1 sure seems to be the case. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”

In Ephesians 4:14 he writes of those who are “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” Today we see a departure from the course that our forefathers could hardly have imagined. Even in my own lifetime who would have imagined that something so foundational as the basic constitution of holy marriage would be a serious issue of departure. And now all this absolute nonsense about something as basic and evident as Genesis 1:27.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“All The Way My Savior Leads Me”  Video   Wintley Phipps

“Slow Fade”  Video  This song powerfully describes the lure into sin and getting off course.  This song was featured in “Fireproof”.

Slow Fade Teaching  Video  Mark Hall is the youth pastor who wrote the song and leads the group “Casting Crowns”. He shares an interesting perspective from Psalm 1 that prompted this song.

“Take My Life And Let It Be”  Video  Brian Doerksen A beautful rendering of an old hymn.

“Take Time To Be Holy”  Video  Mennonite Hour Men’s Quartet This is another old hymn you don’t hear much these days, but its message is very relevant and timeless.

Yesterday an observant reader speculated that the fields of yellow we showed in this photo is Canola.

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

Yellow fields on Lebanon County PA farm 4/25/17 (Click to enlarge)
We passed these lush variegated patches of pasture land in northern Lebanon County PA yesterday.
(Click to enlarge)

 

“Staying The Course” (Part 1)

Message summary: May God help each of us to be faithful and stay the course! “God, help me to stay the course and persevere today!” ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

In the course of our chaplain visitation we meet many people in companies right where they work. Yesterday I met a new Hispanic employee at a company and introduced myself as a chaplain, but quickly perceived that the young man had limited English proficiency. He just wasn’t comprehending what I was saying and looked confused, perhaps even a bit distressed.

Another employee familiar with our role as chaplains was working close by so I asked her to explain to the young man who I was. She spoke to him in Spanish and then explained how he had misunderstood me. He apparently thought I was saying I was El Chapo and he thought I was in the cartel. We all got a chuckle and I’m sure glad that was cleared up right away. Well, of course I am not in a cartel as the word is typically used today nor should I be confused with a rather infamous Mexican drug lord, El Chapo!

But in a historical sense a cartel is defined as “a coalition or cooperative arrangement between political parties intended to promote a mutual interest.” Although our focus is certainly not political we are indeed in a vast coalition or cooperative arrangement intended to promote a mutual interest, the most important work on this earth, promoting the Kingdom of God. Many of us sang about that on Easter, “Christ has triumphed and we conquer by His mighty enterprise” in the song, “Alleluia! Alleluia!” As such we have a vital mission to stay on course.

CockpitSeveral years ago a Northwest Airlines flight flew past its destination by 150 miles. The pilots, in one way or another, were not paying attention, placing the entire crew and passengers in peril. I happened to fly with Northwest on a trip shortly after the incident. As I departed the plane I peeked in the cockpit and teasingly said, “Thanks for staying on course.”

A vitally important duty of spiritual leaders is to stay on course.

The daily verse of Scripture has long gripped my heart. I first specifically recall its richness when I was preparing for my ministerial ordination in 1979. At that time I wrote down Bible verses pertaining to ministry and memorized many of them.

Paul is addressing the Ephesian elders in a powerful farewell message. “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”  The apostle was determined to faithfully finish the course of life and ministry God had called him to. “Stay the course” is a phrase meaning to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism. If you stay the course, you finish something that you have started, even though it has become very difficult.  (Collins dictionary)

Pastor Steven Cole writes, “To finish the course, you must put the ministry that you received from the Lord above even life itself.”

May God help each of us to be faithful and stay the course! “God, help me to stay the course and persevere today!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, stir in my heart the desire to be diligently immersed in the Word of God. The deceiver is diligent in planting seeds of doubt, confusion and clever lies always intending to lead me off course in my spiritual walk. As I persevere in reading and applying truths inscribed throughout Your Word I ward off the incessant pleas from Satan to yield to sin. I desire to be Your faithful follower not just for a season but all the way to eternity.  It is my heart’s desire to influence as many as possible to join me in this noble calling.  May You find me faithful so that those who watch my life daily may also find me faithful! Amen.


Yellow fields in Lebanon County PA 4/25/17
Another view of distant the yellow fields in Lebanon County.
Perhaps an informed reader can inform us as to what the yellow flowered plants are.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“All I Once Held Dear”  Video  Graham Kendrick, Kristyn Getty & Jonathan Veira the All Souls Orchestra

“Keep Me True”  Video  Jabu Hlongwane

“Redeemed
”  Video  Big Daddy Weave

Pastor Steve Cole 7/10/16Finishing the Course (Acts 20:22-27) A lesson by Steven Cole from Bible.org Steven Cole is in my view one of the outstanding Bible teachers of our time. Last summer I attended the church he has served for many years in Flagstaff Arizona, Flagstaff Christian Fellowship. For many years I have benefited from the teachings of Pastor Steve Cole posted online. I was blessed as I visited and upon hearing the solid exposition of God’s Word. I had the opportunity to meet Pastor Cole and thank him for his service for Christ.

Finally today:

 

Yesterday we shared a quiz based only on the numeric references to well-known Scripture verses. Below are the verses that I associate the numbers with. Obviously as long as there is such a reference there is not an incorrect answer and in several cases there are several well-known verses associated with the number. We enjoyed reading your responses to this fun quiz.

Linked to Bible Gateway

 

    1. Romans 8:28
    2. Ephesians 2:8,9
    3. Jeremiah 29:11
    4. Genesis 1:1 or John 1:1 (I think of both when I consider 1:1)
    5. Matthew 6:33
    6. Acts 1:8
    7. Acts 16:31
    8. John 10:10
    9. Romans 3:23
    10. Isaiah 40:31
    11. 1 Corinthians 13:1
    12. Hebrews 11:6
    13. Psalm 23:1
    14. Micah 6:8 (This was probably the most obscure verse)
    15. Psalm 119:105 (This is the only 119:105 in the Bible!)


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Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

3:16

“I Will Sing Of My Redeemer”

Message summary: Hide John 3:16 deep in your heart. I find it helpful to personalize it. “For God loved me so much that He gave His one and only Son, that as I believe in Him, I will not perish but have eternal life”. Indeed, God’s wondrous love is given to us through the person of Jesus Christ. We cannot earn His love but we can receive it. Won’t you receive Him today!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

For many years early in our marriage we lived in a remote portion of northern Pennsylvania and often passed an historical marker for Phillip P. Bliss in northern Clearfield County along Rt 255. He was a songwriter during the era of D.L. Moody.

PP BlissOn December 29, 1876, shortly after 7 p.m., a train pulling out of Ashtabula, Ohio puffed its way across a trestle. Suddenly the passengers heard a terrible cracking sound. The trestle snapped and eleven rail cars plunged seventy feet down into a watery ravine. Even before the wooden cars slammed into the bottom, they were aflame, set afire by kerosene heaters. Of the 159 passengers in those cars, 92 were killed and most of the rest suffered serious injuries. Snuffed out by the wreck was a young couple whose bodies were never found. But you will almost certainly find the man’s name in the hymnbook regardless of what church you attend (assuming you still have hymnals). It was Philip Paul Bliss. *

After Bliss’s death, those who opened his luggage found words of a new song he had written. James McGranahan set this to music and it remains another favorite of the remarkable songwriter:

“I will sing of my redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.”

With so much new music being written in our time and with these newer songs being the focus in most churches these days let’s focus on this classic hymn that was an old favorite of mine from my earliest days in the faith as it helps us consider the wondrous love of God for the human race.

3:16 is all that’s needed for most long-time Christians to identify one of the most familiar verses in the Bible.

John 3:16 begins with the glorious phrase, “For God so loved the world”. Amen, He sure does and He specifically loves you and me this day and every day. You may have experienced a loving earthly family as we thankfully have, but scores of people have not. Undoubtedly some have had a very difficult time in life and still do. On a community workday last week we visited the Water Street Mission in Lancaster, where scores of people gather who struggle day in and day out, whether it’s joblessness, alcohol and drug addiction, hunger, homelessness, you name it.

There are also those of you reading our message who’ve had an abusive childhood or a relationship that carries deep scars. The sacred trust between an earthly spouse, parent, authority figure, or sibling was violated.

Though we often try to hide scars they’re actually an indicator of healing where once there was a wound. When Ester was quite young she was very sensitive about her “zipper” that was opened and closed repeatedly over her chest cavity where she underwent numerous heart operations.  And she now has three unsightly scars where her pacemakers have been inserted.

We can see only the outer scars of others, but I wonder what kind of emotional scarring God sees when He looks beneath the surface. Medical doctors are limited to treating our physical wounds, but only the Great Physician can apply salve to the inner wounds where healing and forgiveness must be applied; where love must replace hate, where trust must replace fear. God is in the process of preparing our hearts for eternity where pain, sin, and sorrow will no longer exist. As you fully receive God’s love and provision for your life healing will come, if not fully in this life, it will come in the eternal life God has made possible for “whoever believes in Him.”

Those who bear deep scars especially take note. You are now learning to trust your heavenly Father who is altogether trustworthy. His wondrous love never ceases. I know many of you have long ago memorized the daily verse. It’s perhaps the single most memorized verse in the entire Bible. But don’t allow its familiarity to diminish its power.

Hide it deep in your heart.  I find it helpful to personalize it. “For God loved me so much that He gave His one and only Son, that as I believe in Him, I will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Indeed, God’s wondrous love is given to us through the person of Jesus Christ. We cannot earn His love but we can receive it. Won’t you receive Him today!

Sing, O sing of my Redeemer!
With His blood He purchased me;
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, any material treasure we receive pales in comparison to the unending gift of Your pure love given to us in the person of Jesus Christ, Your only begotten Son. We are so grateful that He willingly laid down His life that we might inherit eternal life if we only believe. Not only do we receive a future eternal inheritance but we have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the daily struggles of this life and any baggage that weighs us down from our past. Thank You for Your redeeming grace that was provided to us through the birth of Jesus, our Redeemer. Amen.


A Scripture Reference Quiz

Today’s message prompts a quiz regarding other references of well-known Scripture verses that many of you may be able to identify simply by the numeric reference even without the book title:

Just as 3:16 brings to mind John 3:16 what well-known verses do the following numeric references go with?

  1. _____________ 8:28
  2. _____________ 2:8,9
  3. _____________ 29:11
  4. _____________ 1:1
  5. _____________ 6:33
  6. _____________ 1:8
  7. _____________ 16:31
  8. _____________ 10:10
  9. _____________ 3:23
  10. _____________ 40:31
  11. _____________ 13:1
  12. _____________ 11:6
  13. _____________ 23:1
  14. _____________ 6:8
  15. _____________ 119:105

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Will Sing Of My Redeemer/You Set Me Free”  Video  Travis Cottrell

“I Will Sing of My Redeemer”  Video  Homecoming singers

“The Love Of God”  Video  MercyMe

* Story of “I Will Sing Of My Redeemer”

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

“Serving Dangerously”

April 24, 2017

Robin eggs 4/23/17
Yesterday I was under our barn overhang and startled a robin. I looked up and saw a nest under the eaves and lifted my phone camera to snap this photo.

“Serving Dangerously”

Message summary: Today consider the sacrificial service of those who serve God on the front lines in dangerous territory such as “closed” countries, terrorism, and disease-ridden areas, where there are hostile, false religious systems, etc. They deserve our highest respect and need our fervent prayers. We thank God for their highly dedicated service!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers” (2 Corinthians 11:26).

Last fall we visited with a missionary family who serve in a closed country. The other day I received an email concerning their ministry that immediately caught my attention. You will understand as you read it why I have removed any identifying information.

URGENT MISSIONS REQUEST

__________ has run into some difficulties in ______. ____ has asked that ALL internet postings regarding the _________ and their work in _____ be taken down ASAP. Their status should be considered SENSITIVE until further notice. If your church has online news feeds, missions information, services, etc. with the ________ – please contact the appropriate person(s) to have it taken down.

Please also keep _______ in prayer as he is presently navigating this matter in _______.

I checked my site to see that I had not posted any information about them.

Generally speaking we have lived and served the Lord in relatively safe places. In the small town we lived in northern Pennsylvania there was very little crime at the time and we recall that ruffians turning some garbage cans over made news on the police blotter in the small town newspaper!

My most dangerous memory was when I went on a weekend mission trip with a group of college students to inner city Saint Louis. Late at night we visited a mental hospital and decided to walk the ten blocks back to the rescue mission where we were staying. We received a stern chewing out from the director stating we should never have been out in those dangerous streets at night.

But there are those like the family mentioned above who regularly work in dangerous areas and many have given their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

Chet Bitterman tributeChet Bitterman was a Lancaster Countian who was one year older than me. Like Brooksyne and me he prepared for ministry in a Bible College (Columbia Bible College in South Carolina). He was called to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators and moved with his wife and two children to Columbia in 1979. In early 1981 he was kidnapped and later murdered by M-19 guerrillas.

We sang a song during those spiritually formative years called “Jesus Use Me” which has a line, “I’ll follow Thee though death should come my way”. Since it was a popular song during our Bible School days Chet probably sang it as well. Before leaving for Columbia he wrote, “I find the recurring thought that perhaps God will call me to be martyred for Him in His service in Columbia. I am willing.”

Today let us examine a specific verse of another follower of Christ willing to face danger and die for the sake of the Gospel. The apostle Paul chronicles his experience in serving God in 2 Corinthians 11. The daily verse recounts a sampling of the various dangers that Paul faced. In some cases we can look back in the narrative of the book of Acts and see these dangers, in other cases he is drawing from experiences he had that are not in the Scripture record.

“I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers” (2 Corinthians 11:26).

“I have been:

  • “constantly on the move” This is easy to observe in the Acts account. The longest he appeared to stay anywhere was in Corinth of 18 months until the very end of the book where we read, “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him” (Acts 28:30).
  • “in danger from rivers” We take for granted crossing rivers when we travel, as we cross many bridges. We regularly cross long bridges over the Susquehanna River, but river crossings were very dangerous in the ancient world.
  • “in danger from bandits” One of the worst dangers of travel in the ancient world were muggers ready to rob isolated travelers in the middle of nowhere. Large groups of robbers often controlled the open areas between towns. They often attacked and killed people. Jesus’ description of such an attack* would have been very familiar to everyone as Jesus illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.
  • “in danger from my own countrymen” This seems to mean the opposition Paul faced from those who had a Jewish background such as in Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13.
  • “in danger from Gentiles” The opposition Paul faced from those who had a non-Jewish background such as at Philippi in Acts 16.
  • “in danger in the city” Paul experienced many hostile mobs in several cities where he preached such as in Acts 14:19 when Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra. “Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.”
  • “in danger in the country” In his travels, Paul spent many dangerous days and nights in the country
  • “in danger at sea” This famous and dramatic account was recorded in Acts 27.
  • “and in danger from false brothers” Paul had the danger of those who said they were brothers and his friends, but were false brethren instead such as in 2 Timothy 4:14.

Today consider the sacrificial service of those who serve God on the front lines in dangerous territory such as “closed” countries, terrorism, and disease-ridden areas, where there are hostile, false religious systems, etc. They deserve our highest respect and need our fervent prayers. We thank God for their highly dedicated service!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, when we pray, “Jesus use me” we’re excited about being a builder of Your kingdom right here on earth. But we rarely consider the dangers, discomforts and sacrifices we may be called to endure as we embark upon Your kingdom service. We thank You for those who hear Your call, follow Your leading, and fully surrender everything to obey You as they lead others to Christ and disciple them in the ways of Christianity. As John Newton wrote about the “many dangers, toils and snares” common to the believer we’re reminded to pray for those on the front lines who experience dangers daily. Increase their faith by bringing to their memories Scriptures that will spur them on even as the enemy tries to halt them. May their example of steadfastness in the midst of injustice and suffering draw others to the living Christ. Deliver them from danger and increase their faith along with that of their family members as You provide for all their needs emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Piercing Word ministry presentation
Yesterday afternoon we attended a “Passion: The Musical” presentation by “Piercing Word”. It was spiritually moving to hear the Word of God quoted word for word or put to music for about 45 minutes as it was dramatically played out by various dedicated actors. Some of these actors have memorized several books of the Bible, word perfect.

Randy Williams
I also visited with Randy Williams, a friend I met many years ago at CBMC, while Brooksyne became acquainted with his wife, Margaret. Randy is a Physician’s Assistant who served for many years in medical missions work in Haiti.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Jesus Use Me”  Video  The Cathedrals

Finally today:

First harvest 2017
Late Saturday afternoon the large harvesters came by for the first harvest of the season.

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

Horse-drawn pickup ride 4/20/17
These little guys in their grown up hats are enjoying their ride in the back of a pickup just as we did when we were kids! Photo taken through the windshield on the fly as we passed them near New Holland, PA, thus the darkness and grid reflection from our car dashboard.

“But You Were Washed”

Message summary: Today we consider the phrase “But you were washed.” A hymn asks the question, “What can wash away my sin?” and in the next line answers, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Samsung washerThis morning we a new washer delivered. We had bought a washer two years ago but it was part of a Samsung washer recall last fall. Several weeks ago Brooksyne saw a washer on sale at Lowes with even more features that costs only $10.00 more than the rebate we got from Samsung due to the recall, so I guess we made out pretty good!

Throughout our marriage we’ve done pretty good with washers. The Sears washer we replaced two years ago had finally gone out.. It was in our home when we bought it 15 years ago. The previous owner said it had been used by his grandmother for about 30 years.*¹

When we consider the various laundering methods of old we are sure grateful for an automatic washer. We see people in third world countries washing along a river and Brooksyne recalls her early childhood years when her mom washed their clothes using a wringer washer. It was a lot of work for their family of 7. They had no dryer and, as many of you will recall, dress clothing had to be starched and ironed. It was an all day or two day event before the task was fully completed. The automatic washing machine is a modern convenience we take for granted, but when reviewing the past, we know what a time and labor saving machine it is in the majority of homes.

Romans 3:23Washers are needed to clean our dirt-stained clothing but, far more importantly, a “cleanser” is needed to wash our sin-stained souls. There are no exceptions to this need of washing, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all need a heavy duty soul cleansing.

So often this need is considered in a comparative context. That is, we may tend to see ourselves OK compared to others we perceive as much more evil than ourselves, but in doing so we miss the more important message. The Bible declares that we are all sinners in need of a Saviour; we can’t be good enough on our own for it will always fall short of appeasing God.

The other night I went with some friends to a teaching presentation by Dr. Frank Turek who has an apologetic ministry called crossexamined.org. He had a powerful powerpoint presentation and one slide was labeled “God’s Perfect Moral Standard”. On the one side is a photo of Mother Theresa, practically universally recognized as one of the goodest*² persons that ever lived. On the other side is a photo of Adolph Hitler, practically universally recognized as one of the most evil persons that ever lived. There’s a place for your photo generously placed between Mother Theresa and “the immoral”. Regardless of where you may fit in, all humans fall short of God’s perfect moral standard and need a Savior. We all need a divine washing!

God's Perfect Moral Standard (Dr. Frank Turek crossexamined.org)

Today’s Scripture portion is in a powerful context, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Paul wrote this passage assuming a knowledge the Corinthian believers had; “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?” He then presents a warning found throughout Scripture we must heed, “Do not be deceived”. This is all the more important in our day when acceptance of certain behaviors and attitudes has permeated the church due to popular acceptance in the world that in the past was more aligned with the Judeo/Christian viewpoint. This warning of being deceived is followed by a listing of specific sins (certainly not an exhaustive list but rather representative).

1 Corinthians 6:11“And that is what some of you were.” The readers he addresses may not all have been involved in these specific sinful behaviors but some were. Notice that wonderful word “were”. Genuine conversion is a life change. As an old gospel hymn states, “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, since Jesus came into my heart.”

Paul concludes his teaching with “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

But let us conclude our daily message with just a reflection of the phrase “But you were washed.” A hymn asks the question, “What can wash away my sin?” and in the next line answers, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I thank You for Jesus who entered the Courtroom of Justice with me as I sought favor with You. I went to relinquish my sins but the only problem is that I had no defense or payment to offer in exchange for them. I entered the Courtroom dressed in my very best as I presented to You my righteous acts but one by one I realized they were seen as filthy, crimson rags. They were like leaves that shrivel up when detached from the vine.

But then Your Son, Jesus, my Advocate, took His robe of righteousness and lovingly placed it over my heavy shoulders. It was at that glorious moment that I realized You looked away from my filthy, crimson rags that Jesus removed and looked upon my new robe of righteousness. I was able to give You nothing but a heart full of crimson stains but You exchanged it for a surrendered heart that is now white as snow. I am wholly grateful that when You look at me You see Jesus’ righteousness. He paid the full price, He paid it all. I owe Him everything and it will take all my remaining days on earth and all eternity in heaven to express my love and gratitude for His incomparable love and sacrifice toward me.  Amen.


*¹ We found this message when we replaced our washer and dryer two years ago. Based on the serial number we determined this Sears washer, which the previous owner left when we bought the home, was at least 34 to 40 years old!

*² “Goodest” is supposedly not a word but I can’t think of a better one to express my thought.


Water Street mission truck 4/20/17
Yesterday JK Mechanical, one of the companies we serve as chaplains, had a Community Work day serving to make improvements to the historic Water Street Mission in downtown Lancaster. Over 75 employees served to make our community and the world a better place. Are you a business owner or manager? This is a wonderful way to let your light shine and spruce up a non-profit community-minded ministry.

JK Mechanical at Water Street Mission workday 4/20/17
These men are running a new gas line, a skill set they have as HVAC installers.

JK Mechanical at Water Street Mission workday 4/20/17
Brooksyne watches as Ken and Fred cut some shelving.

JK Mechanical at Water Street Mission workday 4/20/17
These men were in the basement of the old textile factory that houses the mission parging over an old brick wall. This photo has an interesting Easter egg at the top. See here.
Women were present also, but unfortunately we didn’t get photos of them at work!

Tim Farrell at Water Street Mission 4/20/17
While at the mission I visited with our long-time friend Tim Farrell who serves with the mission leadership team. The mission houses 180 and serves many others.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Nothing But the Blood”  Video  Homecoming singers  “What can wash away my sin?

“Since Jesus Came Into My Heart”  Video  The Collingsworth Family

“Thanks To Calvary (I Don’t Live Here Anymore)”  Video   The Cathedrals

“Oh, What a Savior”  Video   Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Dr. Frank Turek’s ministry is here and provides some helpful ministry materials for download here.

JK Mechanical

Water Street Mission  Restoring Lives – Through God all things are possible.

Finally today:

Amish pickup in New Holland, PA 4/20/17As I waited for Brooksyne to visit the employees at Comfort Inn in New Holland yesterday this horse and buggy passed by on Main Street. It’s a common sight in that area but not so common is the burgundy colored buggy with colored spokes. The local Amish have uniformly colored gray buggies and the old-order Mennonites are black so I don’t know whether this was a different sect or a friendly “rebel”!

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

Swatara Creek wild flowers 4/18/17
Close-up of wild flowers along the bank of Swatara Creek.

 

“Blooming Where You Are Planted”

Message summary: Today all over the world God is working through His people, accomplishing His purpose. At times we can especially sense His work through us in a specific way. What a great joy these experiences bring to our spiritual walk. May the Lord grant all of us these “Esther moments” when we bloom where we are planted. We may not immediately sense the significance of our obedience but obedience always brings blessing.  Let us stay faithful!

 

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Earlier this week we visited a company that is set in a beautiful rural location in Lebanon County which is located along Swatara Creek. While waiting for Brooksyne I took a little nature hike and came across many beautiful miniature wild flowers growing along the banks of the creek like the photo shown above. It occured to me that I might be the only human to see these lavender flowers although they are every bit as beautiful as the flowers planted in home gardens or purchased at a florist shop.

The Creator has a purpose for them and He has a purpose for each of us.

I recall first hearing this phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted” from my years in Bible College. The saying has the sense that we are to let God use us and seek to be fruitful wherever we find ourselves. Sometimes we may find ourselves providentially planted where we would rather not be. A true test of character is the way in which we bloom in such circumstances.

An example of this is Esther. Esther is a remarkable book. Most Bible students are aware of the fact that God is not specifically mentioned by name in the entire book (the only book of the Bible with this distinction.) Esther was one of the Jewish exiles in Persia who, due to her natural beauty, was unexpectedly placed in a position she probably never imagined herself being in. She was selected to be the Queen!

Just as Ruth reminds us that God is at work in the lives of “ordinary people”, Esther reveals God at work among the “higher classes.” Both remind us that His work is often “behind the scenes.” He is, as a song states, “quietly sovereign.”

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

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

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

May our hearts be as resolute as Esther’s and other Biblical characters such as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who refused to bow down to the golden image. Their unyielding response was, “The God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not (rescue from the fiery furnace), we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17,18).

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

Today all over the world God is working through His people, accomplishing His purpose. At times we can especially sense His work through us in a specific way. What a great joy these experiences bring to our spiritual walk. May the Lord grant all of us these “Esther moments” when we bloom where we are planted. Often we may not immediately sense the significance of our obedience but obedience always brings blessing.  Let us stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, in certain situations I am fearful when You speak to my heart about being obedient. When You move upon me like you did Esther to do or say something that’s not within my comfort zone, I become fearful of the outcome which prevents me from stepping out in faith and following through with an obedient heart. Would You remind me that there is great blessing when I follow Your leading.  Help me not to fear the outcome, for that is in Your hands. Thank You for Your prompting and entrusting me to be a part of your grand purpose. What a privilege and responsibility. Amen.


Swatara Creek 4/18/17
The Swatara Creek is a pleasant stream that meanders through Lebanon County and I’ve been told a bald eagle flies along the creek. Hopefully we’ll capture that on camera in the near future and share it with you!Hershey Hotel tulips 4/18/17
These tulips at the Hotel Hershey are a spectacular sight!

Eastern bluebird (Photo by Doris High)
For over ten years we have been  sharing photos from Doris High’s photo blog (with her permission). We met Doris and her husband Cerwin when I spoke at a retreat for truck driver chaplains at “Transport For Christ”. She is surely among the most prolific photo sharers on the entire internet! Today’s photo is from this collection. It appears that the blue bird might be knocking on the door to see if anyone is home!

 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Use Me”  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

“Field of Souls”  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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

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

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