“Out Of The Miry Clay”

October 12, 2018

Lighthouse ship "Overfalls" Lewes, DE 10/7/18 (Click to enlarge)

Lighthouse Ship “Overfalls”
(Click to enlarge)

“Out Of The Miry Clay”

Message summary: Today, we share a literal experience of being delivered out of the miry clay, but for all of us it can be our testimony spiritually!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:2).

This weekend I will have another birthday milestone, another year under my belt (or suspenders in my case). I am glad I’ve learned a lot through life and have been protected and/or delivered from more than a few stupid things I have done, particularly in my youth. One would like to think there comes a point in life when you just stop doing stupid things but I am not there yet as evidenced by a potentially serious mishap I had on Sunday afternoon.
After lunch Brooksyne and Ester stayed at the restaurant to visit with a friend.  I decided to get back on a rail trail and rode over to Lewes Delaware, a quaint, colonial era town that bills itself as the first town in the first state. The area was first discovered by Henry Hudson on a voyage into Delaware Bay in August 1609, and first settled by the Dutch in 1631. It has an excellent harbor and remains home to a large fleet of fishing boats.
When I got there I was just too tired to ride the bike all the way back to Rehoboth Beach so I waited for Brooksyne to come and pick me up with our van. I just kind of poked around on the bike and saw a boat launch leading down to the harbor. It was low tide so I thought I would just ride down the ramp to the water and turn around, not paying any attention to the dark color on the ramp.
As soon as I hit the dark color I lost control and spun out, losing complete control of the bike. I managed to spread eagle as I fell but still had no control as my legs kept spreading farther out since it was so slippery. Those of you with a nautical sense realize what I had done. The dark color on the ramp was very wet, slimy mud from where the water had been at high tide a short time earlier!
Amazingly (and thankfully) I regained control before going down in the muck completely. I carefully extricated myself from the mess and worked my way off the ramp back to dry ground.
I was sure glad to be back on firm ground although my shoes and bike were a muddy mess. I sat on a bench as I caught my breath and mused over my stupidity as I considered how serious of trouble I could have been in. It was a steep ramp leading down to the water and I realize I could have fallen really hard or just slid into the water which would have gotten deep very fast. I think I could have swam out but my bike would have been deep in the harbor!
As I waited for Brooksyne an old gospel song came to mind which I haven’t heard in years based on the daily text:
He brought me out of the miry clay,
He set my feet on the Rock to stay;
He put a song in my soul today,
A song of praise, hallelujah!
For me, at that moment, it was quite literal but for all of us it can be our testimony!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, while I was in the miry clay I sunk deeper and deeper into despair and was unable to save myself. It was a dreary, dismal and hopeless state of sin and guilt. But Jesus pulled me up out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock to stay. He changed my state of sin and condemnation to forgiveness and pardon; from corruption to holiness. No longer wandering about aimlessly or destructively, He established my comings and goings. He gave me power over sin, destruction, and hopelessness. I now walk in the light of salvation in a steady path that leads to righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, journeying toward heaven day by day. Amen.


Today we will share our final set of photos from our visit this last weekend to coastal Delaware, today from Lewes.

Lewes, DE harbor 10/7/18 (Click to enlarge)

The scenic Lewes Harbor
The boat ramp on which I went down was just to the right of this but I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a photo!
(Click to enlarge)
Lewes, DE harbor 10/7/18 (Click to enlarge)

Another view of Lewes Harbor
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Lifeboat, Lewes, DE 10/7/18 (Click to enlarge)
A restored lifeboat in Lewes
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Cannonball house, Lewes, DE 10/7/18
Cannonball House in Lewes.
Can you see the cannonball in the brick on the lower right?
For the geographically inquisitive here is the region in Delaware where we stayed last weekend. (Google map)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“He Brought Me Out Of The Miry Clay”
  Video  The style here takes us back to our Bible School days and the way church was in the seventies. In addition this is a church in Arkansas with a real southern gospel approach. We dedicate this to our Arkansas preacher friend, Tommy Carpenter, whom we would imagine has been to this church!
“Rescuer”  Video  Rend Collective
Finally today:
Val-Co team at Blessings Of Hope 10/11/18Yesterday we stopped by to see another Val-Co team serving the community at Blessings Of Hope, a ministry that is essentially a food bank to food banks. This team is demonstrative of the various people we work with as chaplains and apart from just two long-time Lancaster County natives in the photo we have South African, Puerto Rican, Vietnamese, Moldovian and Dominican Republic. They are shown holding candy they had just bagged from a huge bin donated by a major candy maker. Aaron Fisher, the founder of Blessings Of Hope, is behind Brooksyne. What a blessing to see these folks get along and work together for a good cause!

Wilmon from the Bowery Mission in NYC at Blessings Of Hope 10/11/18
Yesterday at Blessings Of Hope we also visited Wilmon, a driver for the Bowery Mission in NYC. Wilmon has a wonderful conversion testimony from 2008 and now works for the mission. The Bowery Mission has served homeless and hungry New Yorkers since 1879, when its neighborhood came to define the term “skid row.” Video

Yelena and children 10/11/18
After six visits to company locations yesterday we stopped in at Costco on the way home and were blessed to see Yelena with her two sons. We regularly visited Yelena when she worked for Val-Co before she and her husband Peter welcomed their two sons into the world.

“Bully Or Buddy?”

October 11, 2018

Rehoboth Beach DE Buddy Walk 10/6/18 (Click to enlarge)

“Buddy Walk” gathering in Rehoboth Beach
(Click to enlarge)

“Bully Or Buddy?

Message summary: Today we all have a choice, will we be a bully or a buddy?

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Saturday morning we were at the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk for the annual “Buddy Walk”. On this day people with Down Syndrome and their many supporters (family and friends) gather for a walk on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. It’s a festive type fundraiser and an activity these people look forward to each year.

We engaged in a conversation with a caring father from Maryland that we met on the boardwalk along with his special needs daughter and a beautiful Golden Doodle dog he purchased in Paradise (Lancaster Amish country). He didn’t know upon purchase but has since learned how the dog senses when his daughter is going to have a seizure and alerts the family, even detecting arrhythmia in an individual. We observed many examples of esteem and kindness shown toward those with special needs demonstrating the truth of the old children’s song “they’re all precious in His sight”.

We grew up in an era where it was not unusual to see other students bully special needs children. It was mild compared to bullying today but nevertheless was wrong and surely painful. However, we also observe there has been a greater awareness of showing love and respect to the special needs children than when we were young. In Ester’s high school class there was a boy who had Down Syndrome who seemed to be a class favorite, the class mascot who was truly esteemed. Perhaps you have seen the accounts of these children being recognized as homecoming queens at various schools (see this brief video for example)

Bullying is not new. We both recall bullies growing up and it pains me to say that I (Stephen) am sure I did some bullying in Junior High School. Brooksyne poignantly recalls a girl she sought to befriend who rode the school bus in her junior high years. She was bullied intensely. She was a special needs student who endured abuse by her schoolmates daily. They would sit behind her and spit in her hair as they swore and called her filthy names. Bullying is nothing new.

But bullying is not just a problem in youth. There are bullies in every age group including senior citizens! There are bullies in politics, bullies in the corporate world, bullies in every institution. And yes there are even bullies in the church! Many years ago I dealt with a denominational bully, striving for power.

Bullying sure seems to be increasing with many additional ways to bully notably “cyber-bullying” using the internet and social media. Last week we were deeply troubled when we received the tragic news concerning a pastor’s 14 year old daughter who committed suicide due to bullying. We can only imagine the lifelong grief this family will endure.

The Bible’s most notorious bad boy bully was Goliath. He taunted the people of God and stirred up great fear. But as most of you know, young David put him in his place! Not as well known are bullies like Nabal in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 25) and Diotrephes in the New Testament (3 John 9,10).

Schools have programs dealing with this but foundationally bullying is a spiritual problem. Being mean to one another is a part of fallen human nature. In contrast the Scripture instructs us to “be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32) and to treat others like we want to be treated (paraphrase of golden Rule).

Romans 12:21

Today’s main verse is a antidote to bullying, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

“Do not be overcome by evil.” This applies to both the bully and bullied. When one allows a bullying attitude to overtake them they are being overcome by evil. Likewise when one is subjected to being bullied they are being overcome by evil.

“But overcome evil with good.” Whenever we identify a bullying spirit upon us in the way we treat others we need to overcome that evil with good. But the same is true when we are bullied, we need to overcome it with good.

We who follow Christ experience transforming grace which compels us to heed the commands of Scripture. Our thoughts and actions reject evil and we learn to do good to others. This includes those who have sought to harm us as we seek to overcome evil with good.

Today we all have a choice, will we be a bully or a buddy?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as Scripture indicates that Your Spirit who dwells within us is greater than the spirit dwelling in the world, so also the good that dwells within us is greater than the evil from the world. In our human nature we cannot overcome evil, but through our spiritual nature we conquer the ever present evil with the all-powerful good that comes from Your Holy Spirit residing within our hearts. We choose to hate evil and cling to that which is good and thereby overcome evil with good. We go forth as conquerors in the power of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Today we will share some more scenes from our visit this last weekend in the Rehoboth Beach area

Rehoboth Beach DE 10/6/18
Someone dressed the dolphin statue at the Rehoboth Beach bathhouse in a “Buddy Walk” shirt!

Rehoboth Beach DE 10/6/18

The fire department brought out the ladder truck to fly the flag at Rehoboth Beach above their display table regarding the work of rescue workers.

Rehoboth Beach DE 10/6/18 (Click to enlarge)
This is a neat way to use an old bike!
(Click to enlarge)

Brooklyn Avenue, Rehoboth Beach DE  10/6/18
Brooklyn Ave. – This is an intersection off the boardwalk at Rehoboth. I (Brooksyne) was drawn to this location as I was thinking about my dad. Monday was his 85th birthday though he’s been in heaven since Feb. 2000. His name was Brooklyn from which my name is derived, though he grew up in Arkansas not New York. I was strolling through memory lane and remembering the night before he died. My mother and I were staying in the hospital room with him and it was the middle of the night. He woke us from our sleep (Mom in the recliner, me on the couch) when he cried out in a strong voice (though his cancer ridden body was very weak), “MaMa”? It wasn’t a statement but a question mark. My mother quickly took his hand reassuring him she was there for him. But he paid no attention and a second time called out, “MaMa”? I got up from the couch and stood by his bedside. He was not communicating with us at all. Finally, after I gave it some thought I said to Mom, “Mama, he is not calling out for you. He is seeing his mother in heaven and calling out for her.” Mom, who was trying her hardest to keep Daddy from leaving us, shook her head and acknowledged, “I know.” It was some time later that I thought more about his calling out his mother in a questioning manner. I believe he was seeing her walking toward him preparing to greet him in heaven. But she now lived in her new imperishable body, no longer her dementia state that she endured for many years before her death. I believe he was excited but was just making sure it was really his Mama that he loved and respected so much! (Thanks for traveling with me down memory lane.)

Rehoboth Beach DE beagles 10/6/18 (Click to enlarge)
Happy looking beagles – the third from the left is Brooksyne’s favorite – such a happy, happy dog!
(Click to enlarge)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Overcome Evil With Good Romans 12:21”
  Video  Steve Green

Buddy Walk is, as I found out, a national program!

Finally today:

Kleen-Rite SEO team 10/5/18Work looks very different depending on location and type. These women are both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialists for Kleen-Rite Corp, a wholesale distributor of car wash supplies where we serve as chaplains.

“Lessons From Rehoboth”

October 10, 2018

Inland pond near Rehoboth Beach DE 10/6/18 (Click to enlarge)

Lake Gerar is on the north side of Rehoboth Beach
Gerar is a another Bible name found in our context today
(Click to enlarge)

“Lessons From Rehoboth”

Message summary: Isaac was able to count his blessings even in the midst of his setbacks. We need to practice this in our lives as well!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“He (Isaac) moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, ‘Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land'” (Genesis 26:22).

This last weekend we were in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, a popular shore town we have enjoyed for many years as we view the roaring ocean and expansive seascapes. It is among the most popular shore towns on the east coast with many bike paths in the area. If you go before the season opens or afterwards it is less crowded and the boardwalk allows for biking anytime of the day as opposed to early morning only, also no charge for parking.

English explorers had given this name to nearby Rehoboth Bay in the 17th Century – no doubt in appreciation of its beautiful, broad expanse.

According to a travel site the city’s actual origins as a seaside resort go back to January 27, 1873, when the Rehoboth Beach Camp Meeting Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church was founded here for summer religious gatherings. Using that name, and led by a Reverend Robert Todd, thirty incorporators secured a Charter from the state Legislature to create a “Christian sea-side resort.” *

Now, nearly 150 years later there’s little evidence of Christian influence in Rehoboth Beach and likely even fewer consider the origin of the name “Rehoboth” but in fact it is a Bible word found only in four places, the most informative being our daily text. It is in this context: Genesis 26:12-25.

Isaac had struck out on his own after his father Abraham’s death. “The Lord blessed him, and he became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy” (Genesis 26:12,13).

Wells were a vital source of water in the Bible. Due to municipal water supplies many suburban and urban folk never consider wells but out here in the country where we live they are the main source for water. We have a well and use well water for our household watering needs.

The wells were a source of conflict in this passage with others claiming the wells and water rights. Rather than fight, Isaac left two wells and moved on to a third well which today’s passage describes “no one quarreled over”.

Isaac named this well Rehoboth which means “broad places”, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land” (Genesis 26:22).

The quick Bible lesson from this passage is how Isaac was able to count his blessings even in the midst of his setbacks. We need to practice this in our lives as well!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You chose to bless Isaac as he followed Your commands. In Gerar You instructed him, “Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands.” You made his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and gave them all these lands. Through his offspring, because Abraham obeyed You and did everything You required of him, You provided for Isaac because He trusted You to keep Your promises. We, too can flourish, in our little spot in the world by trusting You for everything we have need of as we walk in obedience to You. We especially flourish as we extend ourselves and our possessions to others such as Isaac. In counting our blessings help us to bless others in the way You have blessed us. Amen.

For further study, Bible lessons from this passage:

1) This passage is an early reference to the longstanding conflict between the Philistines and Abraham’s descendants which lasted for many centuries through the Bible and in fact continues to this day with the Palestines. Today the ancient Philistines no longer exist; however the term rendered “Palestine” is literally, “the land of the Philistines”.

2) This passage has the first reference to envy in the Bible.“Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him (Genesis 26:12-14).

Envy is a deadly sin and in Galatians 5 is placed in a list called “deeds of the flesh” that contrasts with the “Fruit Of The Spirit” Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:19-24).

3) This passage teaches there is a time to concede. Although Isaac was likely powerful enough to take the first two wells he did not but moved on until he found the third well. May God give us the discernment to know when to stand firm and when to let go.

4) The Lord spoke to Isaac after this reassuring him of the promise made to his father Abraham.

“I am the God of your father Abraham;
Do not fear, for I am with you.
I will bless you, and multiply your descendants,
For the sake of My servant Abraham”
(Genesis 26:24)

Thank God for His continued promises and assurances in the course of life!

These are some scenes from our bike riding this last weekend in the Rehoboth Beach area along the Delaware coast
Silver Lake near Rehoboth Beach DE 10/6/18 (Click to enlarge)
Silver Lake is on the south side with beautiful homes around it, some having a view of both the ocean and this lake.
(Click to enlarge)
Surf fishing near Rehoboth Beach DE 10/6/18 (Click to enlarge)
This photo is taken from  Herring Point Fort on Cape Henlopen north of Rehoboth Beach (seen in the distance beyond the vehicles parked out on the beach where they are surf fishing).
(Click to enlarge)
Gordon's Pond near Rehoboth Beach DE 10/6/18 (Click to enlarge)
Sea birds on Gordon Pond with WW2 Watchtowers in the background.
This is off the Gordon Pond trail
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Junction and Breakwater trail near Rehoboth Beach DE 10/7/18 (Click to enlarge)
The Junction and Breakwater Trail is on an old railroad grade through beautiful forest land.
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Estuary near Rehoboth Beach DE 10/6/18 (Click to enlarge)

A peaceful estuary seen off the Junction & Breakwater Trail

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Jackie Steudler 10/7/18
Sunday afternoon we had lunch with our longtime friend, Jackie Steudler, seated next to Ester.Usually we dine with her and Rick each time we visit but Rick headed to the mountains over the weekend. Rick and Jackie, our gracious hosts, have a rental house on Rehoboth Avenue, about 1/3 mile up from the boardwalk, where we lodge. The location couldn’t be more perfect!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Count Your Blessings”
  Video  Guy Penrod

* Rehoboth beach info

A study on the Philistines

Finally today:

Audrey's patio 10/9/18Yesterday we visited with the employees at Audrey’s who have a nice patio area for their lunch and breaks.
Audrey's patio 10/9/18
Another area for the employees to gather outdoors and visit together over lunch.
As we walked through the company yesterday we mentioned to the employees who work hard restocking, packing and shipping their home decor goods that we saw some of their gift items in shops in Rehoboth.

“Grace Upon Grace”

October 9, 2018

Rehoboth Beach wedding  10/8/18Rehoboth Beach wedding.
It was a blessing to observe this wedding and to hear the references to the Bible


“Grace Upon Grace”

Message summary: At times of need and trial we may be tempted to wonder “Is grace still there?” But like the ocean waves we can be sure it is!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear’; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:9,10). “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

This last weekend we went to Rehoboth Beach, a touristy coastal town in Delaware about three hours from our home. Growing up we both lived far from any ocean and Brooksyne did not have her first ocean sighting until 1979 several years after we got married. That was on the Delaware shore, not far from where we spent the long weekend. For the last 25 years we have lived relatively near the ocean and now usually have at least one shore trip annually. This spring we saw the ocean in Florida when we visited my sister Genelle and her husband in Jacksonville.

We enjoyed several bike rides this weekend and I managed to get an accumulative 50 miles of riding in and many miles of walking as well. Early Saturday morning we both rode along together on the boardwalk and while looking out over the ocean mused concerning hymns that had a nautical theme or reference to the ocean. We considered several hymns including “Like A Mighty Sea”, an old gospel song rarely heard any more and the perpetual favorites like “The Love of God” (“Could we with ink the ocean fill”) and “It Is Well” (“When sorrows like sea billows roll”). Can you think of others?

Indeed, the ocean has inspired many Scripture verses, hymns, and settings for writings; both fiction and nonfiction throughout the ages. However there are many, many hymns than most of us would ever know or have ever even heard of with a nautical theme. See link below. And of course the ocean continues to be a source of inspiration for new songs as well such as one we sing in our church called “Grace Upon Grace”.

The first daily text gives the accounting at Creation of how the oceans were formed on the third day of creation. It’s so vital to understand and believe these foundational Creation truths in understanding the remainder of the Bible.

Sunday evening we walked from the home we stayed at down to the boardwalk I said to my family, as I seem to say at least once on each shore trip, “Let’s go see if the ocean’s still there.” Well it was still there! We watched as wave after wave came crashing into the shore.

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). I’ve long associated this verse with the ocean due to a sermon I heard as a young Christian. Jeff Ronald was a fellow Bible School student who was preaching from John 1 and used the persistent, rolling waves of the ocean, wave upon wave, as an illustration of the phrase, “grace upon grace”. The Amplified Bible renders the passage, “For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift]”.

At times of need and trial we may be tempted to wonder “Is grace still there?” But like the ocean waves we can be sure it is!

So like an ocean wave
Crashing over me
Come and drown my shame
In Your mercies deep
O-oh rid my soul, of every guilty stain
With grace, upon grace

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, any words we speak or analogies we use cannot fully describe your infinite mighty power and matchless grace. 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 grace that comes from You, Almighty God. Even as the waves of the ocean are constant and powerful and wash up on shore, may You fill our lives to overflowing grace so that Your mighty presence is visible in our lives and spills out to those around us. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, Amen.

Note: We got back home from the shore last night and have early appointments today so have not been able to process many photos from our trip this last weekend. We expect to share more throughout the week, as well as other lessons and illustrations from our trip.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Grace Upon Grace”  Video  Brooke and Boggs  This is a beautiful song we sing at church based upon John 1:16.

“The Love Of God”  Video  Mercy Me

Hymns with a nautical theme.

Antietam Lake, Berks County, PA 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
Antietam Lake with the iconic valve house, Berks County, PA
(Click to enlarge)

“A Consideration Of Worthless Things”

Message summary: When viewed through spiritual eyes all the neat stuff of this present life that is so visually appealing and sought after is worthless in comparison to that which really matters from an eternal perspective. That’s what we need to constantly remember.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your Word” (Psalm 119:37). “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9).

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

Lowes sloganThis last month we have had renewed energy for some minor home improvement projects. I suppose we were in part spurred on by an ongoing Lowe’s clearance sale which makes some improvement ideas more doable without breaking the bank. Lowe’s has had an interesting slogan which states, “Never Stop Improving” which we used as a basis of a Daily Encouragement message six years ago. That’s a good slogan for our spiritual life as well!

We’ve lived in our present home now for over 16 years, the longest either one of us has lived at one address. At this point we have no plans to live elsewhere in the near future but of course our times are in God’s hands. We feel very blessed to be living in our current home and especially enjoy our location out in the country. To borrow a line many of you have heard or said, “We are doing much better than we deserve”.

Our home and other possessions are a blessing but we must keep a perspective on their comparative value to that which is supremely important. Consider the first daily verse as a personal prayer: “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your word.”

It is found in the midst of the longest chapter in the entire Bible, Psalm 119. Sometimes when reading through a longer section of the Bible we can easily miss some spiritual nuggets. There’s a tendency to dutifully read the entire passage without pondering each phrase and considering the deeper or further meaning. I have a good minister friend who did a verse by verse study on this long chapter which reminded me of the importance of chewing on each precious morsel of God’s Word.

Today’s text is, of course translated a bit differently in other translations. This one from the Amplified Bible sheds further light, “Turn my eyes away from vanity [all those worldly, meaningless things that distract—let Your priorities be mine], and restore me [with renewed energy] in Your ways”.

When viewed through spiritual eyes all the neat stuff of this present life that is so visually appealing and sought after is worthless in comparison to that which really matters from an eternal perspective. That’s what we need to constantly remember.

What “worthless things” was the Psalmist was referring to? One commentary states “idols and idolatry”. Interestingly the final verse in 1 John is, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols”. These worthless things might be similar to that which was written by Isaac Watts in his classic hymn, “When I survey the wondrous cross” where he states, “All the vain things that charm me most”. Although each generation has had these worthless and vain things (which can be idols) we have a feeling  they are far more prominent in our day than they were three thousand years ago when David lived or three hundred years ago when Isaac Watts lived. In our generation we are exposed to a whole lot more “worthless things” and a much greater variety!

The Psalmist was wise in identifying this truth and making it a request. Do you see these worthless things surrounding you today? Many, like improving your home, are not necessarily bad, indeed many are a blessing from God and we should be thankful for them, but compared to those things that matter most from an eternal perspective they are indeed “worthless.”

Consider the Apostle Paul’s perspective on this matter: “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

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

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, many people spend their entire lives accumulating that which perishes at the end of our lives. We, too, as believers get caught up in earthly possessions as they require a great deal of our time and often tug at our heart strings for misplaced value in this life. But our possessions on this side pale in comparison to knowing You and Your great love for us. Turn our eyes from that which is worthless and toward that which is eternally preserved for us in heaven. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Antietam Lake, Berks County, PA 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)Antietam Lake is east of Reading PA
The valve house sits out in the lake and has been restored in the last several years.
It previously looked like the photo in this article.
Click to enlarge

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Knowing You – All I Once Held Dear”
  Video  Maranatha Singers

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”  Video  Homecoming Singers

Yesterday we shared a beautiful song “The Steps of a Good Man” based on the theme of our message but were unable to identify the song writer. Richard, a reader from the Carolina’s wrote, “I thought you would like to know the artist of the recording you linked is also the composer of the song. His name is Mac Lynch. I have known him for many years. He has dedicated his life ministering to young people in a Christian camp in North Carolina.” Video

Finally today:

Yesterday we visited two groups of employees from two of the companies we serve as chaplains who were working in community service projects. This is an interesting effort several of our companies do to serve and “give back” to the communities they are in.

Val-Co community service at Blessings of Hope 10/4/18This group of Val-Co employees is doing a community service project at “Blessings of Hope”. In this photo they are placing bulk coconut into smaller bags. “Blessings Of Hope” is a bulk distributor to food banks and rescue missions up and down the east coast.

White Oak community service at Hershey Ronald McDonald House 10/4/18
Late yesterday afternoon Brooksyne assisted these White Oak community service workers preparing a meal for the guests at the Ronald McDonald House near the Penn State Children’s Hospital. About thirty years ago we were blessed to use the Ronald McDonald House at Geisinger Medical Center in northern PA when we cared for Ester and other children with major medical needs. We lived three hours plus from the hospital so Ronald McDonald became a second home when the children (especially Ester) had extensive stays.

Hawk Mountain north lookout 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
Coming down off Hawk Mountain on Tuesday afternoon we passed this peaceful setting on Hawk Mountain Road. Someone has built this small covered bridge over their pond!
Click on photo for larger view
Order My Steps In Thy Word”

Message summary:  Have you goofed up, messed up, or even blown it big time? Perhaps you are in the process of trying to stand again after you’ve fallen. Call on the name of the Mighty God of the universe. As you take hold of the Lord’s righteous right hand He will pick you up. He will come and save you.

Listen to our message on your audio player

“Order my steps in Thy word” (Psalm 119:133). “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and he delights in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:23,24). “Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from men of violence who plan to trip my feet” (Psalm 140:4). “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2).

In yesterday’s message we mentioned our rigorous hike up a stony path on Hawk Mountain on Tuesday to get to a dramatic overlook. Brooksyne shares there’s a bit more that precedes our strenuous hike up on Hawk Mountain. She’ll tell her story:

After enjoying breakfast at Cracker Barrel we stopped at a Lowe’s Store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania before we drove up to Hawk Mountain. Stephen went into Lowe’s while I walked in front of Lowe’s toward another store.

I was walking a normal pace, holding my coffee-to-go from Cracker Barrel in one hand and looking straight ahead. Lickety split, with no sense of where it came from, I lost my balance and fell on the Lowe’s parking lot, my arm getting the worst of the pain and scratches. I went down all the way and was so stunned by the unexpected fall that I couldn’t get up for a moment. Of course I was hopeful that no one saw my fall or my full cup of coffee that sprayed the pavement.

But I was spotted by a Lowe’s employee who had her walkie-talkie and was ready to call in the reinforcements. “Are you hurt, Mam” she repeatedly asked and I repeatedly assured her that I was fine and thanked her for her concern.

As I got up and walked away with no injury Psalm 37:23,24 came to mind. I began to sing “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…though he fall, he shall not be cast down for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” The words brought a smile and I thanked God that I wasn’t hurt.

The analogy that came to mind was that there are times we may fall; sometimes it’s a physical fall, other times it’s a spiritual fall but God is there to help us up. The Lowe’s employee was there to help me if I needed it which made me think of how God sends others to aid us when we have fallen. We are never abandoned by our ever faithful God.

After I picked myself up I studied the pavement where I took my tumble and saw that there was a stone probably 2″ in diameter that I didn’t see while walking and it must have thrown off my stride when I stepped on it wearing my wedge sandals.

While walking on smooth surfaces we get comfortable and don’t even pay attention to the terrain. But today let’s consider the Christian journey like a long hike through rocky terrain which has some laments like that of John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”. Because of the uneven terrain and the extensive tree roots, rocks and now lots of fallen acorns and walnuts in our yard and neighborhood, we may stumble as we walk along though we usually compensate and stay upright.

But we all have occasionally fallen down. We can linger in a fallen position or choose to get up, brush off the debris, and trudge on. And when we are unaware of what made us fall we’re wise to examine the terrain and see what obstacle we stumbled over. That’s a good lesson for the Christian life as well.

Have you ever fallen? Of course you have! You did so a lot when you were learning to walk but have probably forgotten that. But just ask your parents. You’ve also fallen a few times after being full-grown and how embarrassing is that! Some of us will remember the low budget TV ad from the eighties with the memorable line, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

We’ve also fallen spiritually; all of us. The Apostle James says, “We all stumble in many ways” (3:2). Sometimes we stumble “big time”, but more commonly in the “small ways”. The seasoned Christian pilgrim has experienced the spiritual bruises from these falls. The persevering believer has a testimony of overcoming falls. They don’t give up.

Jason holding "Do Not Give Up" sign 10/2/18Visiting on Tuesday morning at Audrey’s, a wholesale distributor of home decor items, I found a “Do Not Give Up” sign for sale. Jason who is holding the sign is a man who has had some real tough bumps in life but is not giving up and keeps on keeping on. (He gave me permission to share this.)

In the latter part of the first daily text the Psalmist has a wonderful promise, “The steps of a good man* are ordered by the LORD, and he delights in His way.”

“Though he fall“. This passage acknowledges that the “good man” falls, but gives us two great assurances.

1) “He shall not be utterly cast down.” Thank God that we have no excuse for staying down after we fall. God has promised that we will not “be utterly cast down”. Be sure to remind the devil when he tells you otherwise.

2) “For the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Cling to this encouraging truth and cling to His hand today, believing friend. The immutable God continues to uphold His children. What an assuring promise for today and for always.

Have you goofed up, messed up, or even blown it big time? Perhaps you are in the process of trying to stand again after you’ve fallen. Call on the name of the Mighty God of the universe. As you take hold of the Lord’s righteous right hand He will pick you up. He will come and save you. Do not give up!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You that You are our guide; that our footsteps are ordered by You.  Though we stumble or fall, we are not cast down for You uphold us with Your righteous right hand. In ourselves we may be clumsy, weak, or nearsighted, but following You, our Great Shepherd through dangers, toils and snares to the high places of Your love, we will be like that of hind’s feet in high places. When we unexpectedly find ourselves in a fallen position we feel pretty foolish and somewhat helpless though usually we bounce right back to an upward position. But there are times, Lord, when we get trapped in a fallen position and especially need Your help and even assistance from others to help us walk upright again. When we’re in a fallen position spiritually, Lord, it is Your hand that we reach for. You do not abandon us nor cast us down for You only want to lift us up again. Our hope is in You alone so help us to cling tightly to Your hand as we walk the potholed terrain of this life. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

* “Good man” Of course the principle here applies to women as well.

Some more scenes from rural Berks County during our way home from Hawk Mountain on Tuesday.

Berks County Barn 10/2/18

Berks County barns are well known for their Hex signs, which are a type of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Some consider these to have some mystical meaning while others see them as being merely decorative. According to this article in Wikipedia, “Barn paintings, usually in the form of “stars in circles,” began to appear on the landscape in the early 19th century, and became widespread decades later when commercial paint became readily available. By the 1950s commercialized hex signs, aimed at the tourist market, became popular and these often include stars, compass roses, stylized birds known as distelfinks, hearts, tulips, or a tree of life. Two schools of thought exist on the meaning of hex signs. One school ascribes a talismanic nature to the signs, the other sees them as purely decorative, or “Chust for nice” in the local dialect. Both schools recognize that there are sometimes superstitions associated with certain hex sign themes, and neither ascribes strong magical power to them. The Amish do not use hex signs.”
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Berks County farm 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
This large active Berks County Farm is nestled up near the foot of the mountain. Due to the ridge and valley characteristic of this part of Pennsylvania some regions seem very remote although they are really not that far from urban areas.
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Berks County Barn remains 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)

It’s always sad to see a barn in this condition!
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House in Berks County 10/2/18
We passed this house as we drove back down the mountain through a beautiful part of rural Berks County. It surprising that it’s still standing and reminds us of a post card we saw many years ago with a house in a similar condition with the caption, “We finally found a home we can afford”. Brooksyne texted the photo to Ester and told her “We found a house we can afford to buy you and they’re throwing the graffiti in for free.”. Ester was not amused.

Dreibelbis Station covered bridge, Berks County, PA 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
The Dreibelbis Station covered bridge in Berks County, PA  was built in 1869. It is 172 feet long without any pier support in the middle. Now I sure admire modern engineering but it’s pretty remarkable in my view to make a structure this long that has no pier support in the middle. By the way the method used is known as the the Burr Arch Truss.
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Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Order My Steps”  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

“He Will Come And Save You ”  Video 
Bob Fitts

“You Are My All In All”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  This song comes to mind because the second verse includes, “When I fall down you pick me up, when I am dry you fill my cup”.

“The Steps Of A Good Man”  Video  Musician not identified  Today’s text set to music.

Though dark be the night and long be the day
Lord, make me follow in Thy perfect way
Tho cometh sorrow; tho great be my pain
Lord make me serve Thee, Come Sunshine or Rain

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord
and He delighteth in his way
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:
For the Lord, for the Lord
For the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.

O Thou art almighty, I am so small
Lord make me trust Thee whatever be-fall
Thou art all holy; You make no mistake
Lord, make me Christ-like whatever it takes.

Hawk Mountain north lookout 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)
View from north lookout point at Hawk Mountain
(Click to enlarge)

“A Lesson From Hawk Mountain

Message summary:  By God’s grace, as you wait on the Lord, may your strength be renewed and may you spiritually soar above the inevitable storms of life!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Hawk Mountain bird count 10/2/18Yesterday, following our chaplain visit, we drove up to Hawk Mountain, one of the premier bird flyways on the east coast. Hawk Mountain is part of the Blue Mountain Ridge in the Appalachian Mountain chain, located in east-central Pennsylvania about 70 miles from our home. Due to the wind currents it is a prime spot for bird watching during migration. We took a very rigorous hike to reach the north lookout point which pretty much wore us out but it was worth the effort. We’re accustomed to trails that are well packed down but Hawk Mountain has rocky paths you must carefully navigate and at times climb to make your way to the top. We are both sure feeling it this morning!

Serious bird watchers staff the lookout points and keep a count of the birds. It was a bit more overcast yesterday than we would have preferred but they were still tallying birds of various types.

Of course like many we were especially hoping to see the eagles but we didn’t see any yesterday. We listened as the spotters identified the birds using their mega zoom binoculars. But birds, like “turkey vultures,” are really not that appealing. We want to see hawks and eagles! I did seek to contribute when I offered this observation, “I am pretty sure they’re not California Condors flying way out there”.

On November 3 they have a program scheduled called “Eagle Day” and you will see both the Golden eagle and Bald eagle, courtesy of the Carbon County Environmental Education Center.

For many years I have really liked eagles. I sure didn’t see them when I was a child growing up in the Kansas City area. We presently live several miles from the Susquehanna River where there are several eagle nests. Once in a while we actually spot a soaring eagle from our office window. So today let us consider the best known Scripture verse on eagles. Today’s message is especially for those who are weak and need strength.

Isaiah 40:31The daily Scripture text is among the first verses we committed to memory as young Christians in Bible College. It was a popular chorus at the time and really still should be since it’s merely singing the very words of Scripture. It has often been a source of encouragement and strength in my life.

They that wait upon the Lord
Shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings of eagles
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint
Teach me, Lord, teach me, Lord, to wait.

Isaiah 40 is recognized by many to be among the most powerful chapters of Scripture and in fact many secularists acknowledge the superb literary beauty of this passage.

The daily text is the final verse in this great chapter. What a promise! Read it slowly and aloud if you are able: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”. Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote these words some 2,700 years ago. Yet the Word of God is living and active and presents unchangeable truth. God still gives strength to those who wait on Him.

It presents an essential key to personal renewal and strength – waiting on the Lord. We look back and recall when we accepted the Lord, first placing our hope and trust in Him. That’s wonderful. But this verse refers to an active, present tense sense of waiting, hoping and trusting in the Lord. The Amplified Bible is helpful in expressing the depth of the Hebrew word, “Those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him].”

The Full Life Study Bible makes this observation: “To hope in the Lord is to trust Him fully with our lives; it involves looking to Him as our source of help and grace in time of need. Those who hope in the Lord are promised:

1) God’s strength to revive them in the midst of exhaustion and weakness, of suffering and trial;
2) The ability to rise above their difficulties like an eagle that soars in the sky; and
3) The ability to run spiritually without tiring and to walk steadily forward without fainting at God’s delays. God promises that if His people will patiently trust Him, He will provide whatever is needed to sustain them constantly.”

Soaring eagle (photographer unknown)The image of a soaring eagle is used. “They shall mount up with wings as eagles.” Many have observed the ability of the eagle to soar above the storms and likewise through our hope we can soar above the storms of life.

Today we encourage you to place an active hope in the Lord. Undoubtedly many of you have serious matters you are waiting on. By God’s grace, as you wait on the Lord, may your strength be renewed and may you spiritually soar above the inevitable storms of life!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is under Your wings that we are protected against the fierce wind currents of doubt, fear, and impatience. Such troubling emotions weigh us down and can pull us right into the path of a pelting storm. But it is through eyes of faith and a heart of trust that we can mount up with You and soar like eagles above the assaulting storm and wait it out until the rainbow appears; Your divine covenant of promise, written out in all the colors that are pleasing to behold. You promise never to leave us nor forsake us which gives us courage to wait and trust You to fully answer our prayers. It is in the name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

Some more scenes from our visit to Hawk Mountain

Hawk Mountain north lookout 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)The north lookout point is the premier spot for bird sightings
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Hawk Mountain north lookout 10/2/18 (Click to enlarge)

A panoramic view at the north lookout point
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Hawk Mountain trail 10/2/18

The long trail to the north lookout point requires some very strenuous walking and even a bit of “scrambling”, which means “a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one’s hands”. Brooksyne took the photo of this section on the way back after we had climbed it. In this case they had handrails which were helpful. Interestingly, at the top of the mountain there is an infestation of stink bugs with their distinctive odor permeating the area! However since the odor is similar to Cilantro, one of my favorite herbs, I really don’t find it that objectionable.

Hawk Mountain trail 10/2/18
Another view of the trail with lots of rocks.

Hawk Mountain outdoor raised toilet 10/2/18
This is the outdoor toilet at the top of Hawk mountain! One would really have need for the facility to head up another set of stairs after having climbed over so many steep and jagged rocks.
Hawk Mountain south lookout 10/2/18

The south lookout point from Hawk Mountain is not quite as dramatic as the north lookout but is a great view nevertheless and looks down over the Appalachian Trail.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Teach Me, Lord, to Wait”  Video

Hawk Mountain

Location of Hawk Mountain on Google Map
Joyce Reed was a part of the church we served in New England about 25 years ago. Commenting on our message “A Sleep Study” she wrote, My mother said, ‘When you can’t get to sleep, start praying and the devil will put you to sleep.’ Works lots of times for me.”
Finally today:

Hawk Mountain selfie 10/2/18We are not much into selfies but we wanted to show that we really made it to the top.
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