Devotional

“Old Route 66”

Pocono waterfall 6/25/19A waterfall at Spruce Lake camp in the Poconos near the cabin Brooksyne is staying in.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

 
Old Route 66″
 
Message summary: Today, may we all make a fresh resolve to stay on old Route 66 in staying true to the teachings in all 66 books in the Bible.
 
Listen to our message on your audio player.
 
“Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:26-27). “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4,5). “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls’. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jeremiah 6:16).
 
Route 66 startOld Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in America. It starts in the heart of downtown Chicago and ends at the Pacific Ocean in LA at the end of the Santa Monica pier where we walked to the end of it several years ago. It passes right through Tulsa Oklahoma, only several hundred yards from where Brooksyne grew up and right through the little Indian town where we got married in Sapulpa, OK. It also passes through Springfield, Missouri where we both went to college.
 
There is a lot of interest in Route 66 memorabilia especially among those who live along the route and those, like us, who have Route 66 memories. Several weeks ago we bought a clock at Audrey’s with a Route 66 theme.
 
Route 66 endWe have driven on numerous sections of Route 66 but it would be neat to someday drive on the old route (as much as possible*) all the way from Chicago to LA. It would be a long, long trip, compared to interstate speeds, let alone flying. But we would sure see a lot of Americana. Charles Kuralt observed, “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”
 
But today let us consider another “old route 66” we must stay on in the sense of staying faithful to the sixty-six books of the Bible. So many “have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (see 1 Timothy 6:10) Consider how many have the outlook toward God’s Word expressed in the last phrase of our third daily text, “We will not walk in it”.
 
On Sunday night we heard the Collingsworth Family sing a song titled “That’s What The Bible Says”.
 
It started off in Genesis when God created man
Each line in Revelation has revealed His master plan
And every chapter in between illuminates our way
It’s as relevant tomorrow as it was for yesterday

All three of today’s Bible texts refer to “paths” which is a synonym of route so today let us consider an element from each one as we resolve to stay on old route 66:

1) Watching our path. “Watch the path of your feet.” We have all heard the phrase, “Watch your step”, especially as a reminder of caution against tripping. That seems to be the sense of this passage. We need to be constantly on our guard and watch the path of our feet in these treacherous times.

2) Praying for God to teach us His paths. “O Lord; teach me Your paths.” God has spoken through His Word. We need to seek Him that we might learn His ways and stay on His path.

3) Asking for the ancient paths. “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths.” This verse is so counter cultural to our age with all the emphasis on new, new, new. I thank God for many aspects of new but we must be soberly aware of the consequences when new “truth” replaces old “truth”. After all, truth does not change. We need to ask for these ancient paths found in God’s ancient Word.

Ancient words, ever true
Changing me and changing you,
We have come with open hearts,
Oh let the ancient words impart.


Today, may we all make a fresh resolve to stay on old Route 66 in staying true to the teachings in all 66 books in the Bible.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

 
Praying manDaily prayer: Father, like the Psalmist I pray that You will show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation. I’m indebted to Your loving grace that keeps me traveling the good path. There are many other paths that vie for my attention but I know through the Spirit and also by experience, that they are treacherous leading me to danger, a dead end, and leaving me with a spirit of unrest. I want to walk on the good path and find rest for my soul even in the midst of the dark valley experiences of my travels here on earth. I’m so grateful that You walk beside me on the path that leads to righteousness and eternal life. Amen.

*Route 66 has been replaced by Interstate 44 from Saint Louis to Oklahoma City, the portion we are most familiar with. Although many old sections run parallel to I-44 I don’t believe all remain.

 

 
Office carpet removal 6/25/19Yesterday afternoon Ester and I embarked on a DIY project (I started to type DUI put that wouldn’t be good!); replacing the flooring in our home office that was first installed in 2002 when we converted a garage to my Mom’s room and used carpet. Yesterday was demo time and Ester really went at it removing the old, quite worn carpet. We will be installing laminate flooring in this room.
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“That’s What The Bible Says”  Video  The Collingsworth family

“Wherever You Are”  Video  The Collingsworth family

“Ancient Words”  Video  Michael W. Smith

 
Finally today:

Brooksyne at Joni and Friends Retreat 6/25/19I am having such a wonderful, fulfilling time as I serve at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat here at Spruce Lake in the Poconos. I am a companion to Diane who is from Long Island and what a dear friend she is already becoming. More photos and stories to come later. Thank you for your prayers. Brooksyne
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Devotional

“Proclaiming His Praise In The Islands”

 
Kauai island (Chris Leaman) Click to enlargeKauai Island
(Photo by Chris Leaman)
Click to enlarge

 
“Proclaiming His Praise In The Islands”
 
Message summary: Let’s rejoice that God’s praise is indeed being proclaimed on the islands!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Sing to the LORD a new song, His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops. Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim His praise in the islands” (Isaiah 42:10-12).

Three Mile IslandLast week when I took the Lapp family fishing on Chesapeake Bay we visited the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. It’s on an island (connected by a small bridge) and it occurred to me that this is probably the first time the children had ever been on an island. We really don’t have any islands in Lancaster County and our area unless you consider an island on a scenic small pond which we pass near Gap, PA or Three Mile Island on the Susquehanna River (which is hardly a tourist destination!).

All of our island experiences have been to off shore islands accessible by a bridge or ferry on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. In New England we enjoyed our visits to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. However we’ve never flown to an island.

Last week Chris Leaman, a friend of ours, shared photos of his recent trip to two of the Hawaiian Islands, including our lead photo today of Kauai Island. He had a beautiful selection of island scenes from his trip. Many islands have notoriously stunning scenery like this.

The population living on the world’s islands is over 730 million, which is approximately 10% of the world’s total population. Several islands such as Great Britain, Java (Indonesia) Honshu (Japan) and Luzon (Philippines) have very large populations. Most islands are smaller in size and population. Many islands are unpopulated.

Isaiah 42:12Consider the daily verse. Isaiah is writing about 750 years before Christ. I see no evidence in his writings that he was a traveler and you can imagine the obstacles to travel in those days. Do you suppose he had ever even been on an island?

Yet under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he writes a powerful call to “Sing to the LORD a new song, His praise from the ends of the earth“. He includes those living in the desert and on the mountaintops. The passage ends with this phrase, “Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim His praise in the islands”.

Although islands are beautiful and have special appeal to the vacationer, many island locations pose great challenges to ministry. Those that serve often feel isolated and lonely.

The world’s second largest island in land mass is New Guinea with 303,381 square miles, which is larger than Texas.* This island has many remote, unreached peoples and some of the most sacrificial mission work in the world. Yet ministries like Wycliffe Bible Translators, Ethnos360 (formerly New Tribes Mission) and others have a powerful presence and entire tribes have come to faith in Christ.

Let’s rejoice that God’s praise is indeed being proclaimed on the islands!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank you for the promise of John 3:16 that states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Thank you for those who obey Your commission to go into all the world spreading Your Gospel including the most remote islands. Thank you that all around the world God’s praise is indeed being proclaimed, even on the islands. Amen.
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Altar Of Grace”  Video   Collingsworth Family  Another outstanding song

“Your Grace Still Amazes Me”  Video  Phillips, Craig and Dean

* The largest island in the world is Greenland with 840,000 square miles but only 56,000 people.

Have you ever wondered (like me): Is Australia a continent or island?

 
How would you like to live here? Living on the Most Crowded Island on Earth
 
Finally today:


Pocono forest 6/24/19Yesterday Brooksyne had her first full day up at Spruce Lake in the Poconos where she is serving with a short term mission team at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat this week. We welcome our readers to pray for her during this time.
“The Family Retreat Effect” Video
Devotional

“Sometimes We Cry”

York County barn 6/22/19 (Click to enlarge)Barn in York County, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)

 
Sometimes We Cry”
 
Message summary:  “Jesus wept.” John Piper observes concerning this verse, “for all its grammatical simplicity, it’s packed with unfathomable complexity.”
 
Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

But sometimes I hurt and sometimes I cry
Sometimes I can’t get it right
No matter how hard that I seem to try


Weeping womanOne of the features of ministry is working with people during the inevitable hard times in life. It might be a discussion about a family matter, an aging parent, wayward child, a hospital visit, or many other occasions. People often weep when sharing their burdens. In the last two days we have had times of strong men weeping as they shared a burden they were going through. Their freedom to express their emotion is a sign of their confidence in their manhood.

Weeping is a good thing and we have various Scriptural examples of this, perhaps most famously our two word daily text, “Jesus wept”.

A folksy expression of the benefit of weeping is, “When the eyes leak, the head won’t swell”. Times of weeping are often times of brokenness and a realization of our humility before God.


When grief has left you low it causes tears to flow
When things have not turned out the way that you had planned
But God won’t forget you His promises are true
And tears are a language God understands.


Jesus weptMany of us know today’s verse due to it being the shortest verse in the Bible. Perhaps we memorized it as part of our reservoir of memorized verses. It’s sure not hard to memorize!

 
But as John Piper observes, “for all its grammatical simplicity, it’s packed with unfathomable complexity.”

The setting is in John 11, the death of our Lord’s friend Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary. Verse 5 states that, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

Why did Jesus weep?

1) The immediate context of the verse is that Jesus was deeply moved when he saw Mary and other friends weeping when they reported the death to Him. Weeping can be contagious. I know I sometimes weep when I see other people weeping. Pastors with a tender heart will periodically weep when a certain point touches him and that can cause weeping in the congregation. It’s a quality of genuine emotion that I appreciate in a pastor. We recall visiting a church where the pastor was dealing with a very difficult subject and broke down in tears at the gravity of the matter.

2) Jesus wept because He loved Lazarus and his sisters. That point is specifically made (v.5). He is demonstrating His sorrow and grief, a normal and healthy human emotion. Jesus expressed grief when he received notice that John the Baptist had been slain. “Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself” (Matthew 14:13). The Scripture doesn’t provide any more detail, but those words “withdrew” and “secluded place” speak volumes.

Bible teacher John MacArthur comments,

 
“Jesus’ tears were generated both by His love for Lazarus, and by His grief over the deadly and incessant effects of sin in a fallen world. Verse 35, though it is the shortest verse in the Bible, is rich with meaning. It emphasizes Jesus’ humanity; He was truly “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). But while the Jews were correct in seeing Jesus’ sorrow as evidence that He loved Lazarus, they were wrong to think that His tears reflected the same hopeless despair that they felt.”
 
We received word early yesterday morning of a friend in distress and prayed and followed up, including a visit to the ICU. As I drove Brooksyne to meet her ride to the Joni and Friends Retreat she is serving at this week we discussed this and how at any given time how many are in the midst of some type of acute sorrow and grief. We pray God will grant assurance of His love and that each will know and accept that love.
 
God sees the tears of a brokenhearted soul
He sees your tears and hears them when they fall
God weeps along with man and takes him by the hand
Tears are a language God understands.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the person of Jesus who showed us how to live a life set apart for You and all the while endured loss, pain, temptation, and other emotions common to mankind. When Jesus wept upon hearing of Lazarus’ death He demonstrated to us His humanity in a way that all of us who’ve suffered loss can relate. He wept with those who wept and rejoiced with those who rejoiced. We too have opportunity to share in the grief of others as we remind them that they are not alone but have our prayerful and loving support as they endure their loss. Help us to reach out and extend ourselves to those in need. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Note: Not covered in today’s message but weeping can also be a result of deep joy and gratefulness. At times I weep during a moving sermon or song that reminds me of the blessings of God.

Note 2: “Jesus wept” is often considered the shortest verse in the Bible. Here’s a point of trivia some may find interesting. In the Greek “Jesus wept” translates these Greek words Ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς. However in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 the Greek is Πάντοτε χαίρετε, which translates “Rejoice always”. Now I am not sure when you read this the Greek character will render correctly but there are actually less Greek character in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 than John 11:35!

 

 
Collingsworth family at Music In The Park, Lebanon, PA 6/23/19Last night Ester and I went to hear the Collingsworth family at Music In The Park in Lebanon, PA. This is indeed a family group with a mother and father and four children who have sung together for many years. Three of the children are married and their spouses travel with the group, along with some grandchildren.
 
Collingsworth family at Music In The Park, Lebanon, PA 6/23/19
The concerts are held in a beautiful park in Lebanon PA.
Crowd at Collingsworth family at Music In The Park, Lebanon, PA 6/23/19
Lots of people out on a very pleasant evening!
John and Faithe Keefer at the Collingsworth family at Music In The Park, Lebanon, PA 6/23/19
What a joy to visit with our friends John and Faithe Keefer.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Sometimes I Cry”  Video  Jason Crabb  A candid expression of need. This song prompted our message title today.
 
“Tears Are A language”  Video  Gordon Jensen  A timeless message from the seventies, a new song when we were just getting started in ministry.
 
“Your Ways Are Higher Than Mine”  Video  The Collingsworth Family We heard this song last night at the concert and dedicate to all in the midst of trouble.

Finally today:
 

Calvary Church STM team at Joni and Friends Camp 6/23/19

Yesterday Brooksyne went up to Spruce Lake in the Poconos with a group from Calvary Church to serve with a short term mission team at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat this week. We welcome our readers to pray for her during this time.
“The Joy That It Brings” Video
Devotional

“Little Is Much”

Lebanon County barn 6/20/19 (Click to enlarge)We passed this rural scene in Lebanon County yesterday.
Click to enlarge

 
Little Is Much”
 
Message summary: All over the world most of what will happen today to honor God and help others will be rather “small things”.

Listen to our message on your audio player.


“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9).

Spruce Lake, PoconosEarly this Sunday morning Brooksyne will be going up to Spruce Lake in the Poconos to serve on a short term mission trip at a Joni and Friends Camp. These special camps are a highlight for many disabled children, adults and their families and caregivers. Brooksyne’ will learn her assignment once she arrives late Sunday morning.

 
JoniMost of our readers have heard of Joni. On July 30, 1967, she dove into the Chesapeake Bay, at 17 years of age, after misjudging the shallowness of the water.  I first heard of her due to a Billy Graham film simply called “Joni” which came out shortly after Brooksyne and I married. Ten years after her accident she founded “Joni and Friends”, an organization to “accelerate Christian ministry in the disability community”.  Joni has had a faithful, long-term ministry and will turn 70 on October 15th, the day after my birthday.
 
My Mom loved Joni and about eighteen years ago I took her to hear her speak when she was in this area shortly after September 11, 2001. She shared about the tremendous ministry opportunities she had at the Pentagon and at Ground Zero in New York. While recovering from her accident Joni spoke of her deep despair and even her desire to commit suicide. But Joni devoted her life to Christ and a wonderful transformation took place.
She had every excuse to wallow through life and in fact early on dealt with depression. However she found one of life’s greatest blessings; her purpose for living. She focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t. She learned that little is much when God is in it.
 
She has had a world-impacting ministry with a special emphasis upon the spiritual needs of the disability community.
 
All over the world most of what will happen today to honor God and help others will be rather “small things”. They may even seem insignificant at the time. You can be virtually certain they will not make the news. These are the scores of encounters when food will be given to the hungry, water to the thirsty, hospitality to the stranger, visits to the sick and those in prison (see Matthew 25:34-40).

Today’s Scripture portion is taken from the account of the feeding of the five thousand. Our human inclination in dealing with the dilemma described in this story would be to hire a huge catering service or expect a government agency to come in and deal with the problem. But it didn’t work that way. And so often it still doesn’t today!

I want to consider the boy in today’s story. Seeing the need, he approached one of the disciples with his lunch and the disciple in turn went to Jesus: “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Little Is MuchNotice the disciples’ perspective when seeing the “five small barley loaves and two small fish“, “but how far will they go among so many?

 
We wonder if the boy was mature enough to feel sort of foolish to think that his small offering could really make any difference. We wonder if any of his friends might have taunted him for his apparent irrational thinking. But Jesus used that little lunch, miraculously multiplying its impact and meeting the needs of all who were present.

Many of us have been challenged with the phrase, “Do something big for God” which is a great aspiration. But something big for God is often a series of small, seemingly insignificant attempts to be the salt of the earth Jesus called us to be. Most of us just aren’t in a place today that we can do something really big for God, but we can find ways to broadcast the salt and let our light shine to a dark world in the small things that touch other’s lives. Let us take the proper steps to step out in faith, believing God will use us for His glory!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, my little becomes great as You inspire me to do good works in Jesus’ name. Help me not to reach a standstill based upon my limited abilities, wisdom, or resources. I don’t give to others according to my limitations but I give to others from the abundance You pour into me, for when I am weak then You are strong. Grant me creative means and willful determination to extend myself to someone who needs a lift today. Direct my footsteps according to Your Word as You give opportunity for divine encounters this day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
 


Audrey's picnic 6/20/19 (Click to enlarge)
We joined the Audrey’s team for a picnic yesterday at lunch.
Click to enlarge

Swatara Creek cows 6/20/19 (Click to enlarge)
These cows are standing in a meadow near swollen Swatara Creek where they remained all morning, but by the time we left after lunch they had been rescued.
Click to enlarge

Seyfert's orchards 6/20/19 (Click to enlarge)
Yesterday we made our first stop of the season to the Seyfert’s Orchards farm stand in Lebanon County. Brooksyne is in search for sour cherries for jam-making.
Click to enlarge

David the plumber 6/20/19
Much of ministry opportunities for all of us is incidental. I visited for a few minutes with David, a young plumber who was servicing the expansion tank at Audrey’s yesterday. I reminded him that without plumbers we would be in deep trouble and they serve a vital function in public health. He identified as a fellow believer and he shared with me about his church’s ministry to the inner city.
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Little Is Much When God Is In It”  Video  Larry Ford  What a thought-provoking song!
 
For local readers: The Collingsworth Family is at Music In The Park in Lebanon this Sunday evening. We have enjoyed this outstanding group for many years. “At Calvary” Video
 
Finally today:


Hershey Mater 6/20/19
Yesterday we passed this truck along Rt 743 south of Hershey, PA.
Ester captions this “Hershey Mater” (see here)
Devotional

“Profiting From Darkness”

Rock Hall Clam HouseThe Rock Hall Clam House has some creative building art!
(The windows are real)

“Profiting From Darkness”
 
Message summary: All are not joyful when the Lord of the universe comes in and cleans house! There are those who profit from darkness.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region” (Mark 5:15-17). “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

Evidence of the spreading spiritual darkness and rebellion abounds. God’s instruction manual for life, the Bible, continues to be ignored, mocked, violated and tampered with and this is leading to inevitable chaos and destruction. It will certainly get worse unless we have a revival. Sometimes it seems I can practically hear Satan’s hideous laughter since he delights in destruction (John 10:10).

 
When writing a satire piece related to yesterday’s message I considered how many profit from darkness. Some work for a “business” that is primarily evil and sinister such as Planned Parenthood. Others have work that is not necessarily evil but is a necessary consequence of rebellion and disobedience, such as social workers, who would be much less needed if marriages and families worked the way God intends.
 
So today let us consider a Bible portion that teaches about those who get upset when their dark enterprise was disrupted by the redeeming power of Jesus.
 
The daily verse ends a section that deals with one of the most remarkable and dramatic deliverances recorded in Scripture; that of the Gerasene demoniac. More detail is given to this deliverance than any other, with each of the synoptic Gospels recording it. You can read the full account in Mark 5:1-20 (the entire chapter) and I would encourage you to do so. In a nutshell Jesus frees a man who was horrifically bound by demons.
 
What a horrible condition the man was in, “This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained, hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones” (Mark 5:3-5).
 
But Jesus changed everything! (Mark 5:4-14) Brooksyne suggest this song for the man. “I Got Saved” (Video link below)
 
What joy such a deliverance should bring to see a fellow human being delivered from such affliction.
 
But all are not joyful when the Lord of the universe comes in and cleans house! The pig owners lost a great source of wealth, the chain-maker a steady repeat customer since he kept breaking the chains used to bind him, and the village novelty was now dressed and in his right mind. Those who had benefited from this man’s demonic possession were afraid (v. 15).  Life had been interrupted and it seemed little regard was given for the man who had been delivered from years of demon possession. The daily verse is so indicative of the reaction of those lost in darkness. Notice the phrase, “and told about the pigs as well”. It seems the focus was on the loss of the pigs rather than the redemption of the human. Our selection ends with these words, “Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”

This happens today as well. Many would prefer to have a world void of the influence of Jesus and His followers. For most the miracle of salvation is not as outwardly dramatic as that of the Gerasene demoniac’s deliverance; but inwardly, genuine regeneration is every bit as miraculous. Genuine conversion has many consequences; restored marriages, fathers assuming their God called duty, a high value of life, Smokey’s Bar loses a steady customer; the gambling casino has one less patron to be entertained and swindled, the vile pornographic industry loses a source of profit. And the list goes on and on because so many profit from darkness.

 
When marriages and families are broken many profit as we demonstrated in the satire article we shared yesterday.
 
But when redemption occurs this world has one more little light to remind them of how dark the darkness really is. To those profiting in darkness that’s scary. Those most accustomed to darkness don’t want light. A powerful Scripture that teaches this is John 3:19: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” Today, as then, many unregenerate people profit from darkness and continue to plead with Jesus and His followers to leave.

Jesus did move on and the redeemed man wanted to go with Him but Jesus told him to stay and spread the message. And he did so! Today redeemed people all over the world continue to spread the message. And many still don’t want to hear it. They’ll still plead to those walking in the light, “Leave and take your Jesus with you.” But until we are called home let us remain obedient to Christ and keep letting our lights shine in the darkness that surrounds us, lest we too be swept into the darkness!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You didn’t command us to change the hearts of those walking in darkness, for only You can do that. But You did command that we let our light shine so that others will see Your work in our lives and glorify You, our Father in heaven. May the work of our hands and the words that flow from our lips be expressions of Your indwelling light that guides us day by day. We desire, along with multitudes of other believers, to be a sunbeam shattering the spreading darkness as we walk circumspectly in Your ways. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.



Chesapeake Bay Fishing Trip

Old Windmill Farm closed sign
Yesterday the Old Windmill Farm was closed for a family fishing trip on Chesapeake Bay.
 
Fishing trip boat ride
The fast boat ride out to the fishing spot was half the fun!
 
Striped bass 6/19/19
No fishing trip is complete without a photo like this. I caught my limit as well as everyone contributing to the boat’s limit. This is a striped bass or striper. We are sure the Lapp family will have a big fish fry this evening!
 
Chesapeake Bay beach
Following the fishing trip we stopped by a beach in Rock Hall, Maryland.
But alas, they had not brought their swimming suits.
 
Chesapeake Bay beach
Where there’s a will there’s a way!
Hint: We had some wet clothes in the van when we left the beach.
 
Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge
A walk through the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge gave everyone a chance to dry out.
Striped bass on grill 6/20/19
I got in too late last night to have the fish for dinner, so we followed an idea Jesus gave us (see here) and had the striped bass for breakfast along with some rice and biscuits topped with Brooksyne’s cherry jam. We hope to see some ripe sour cherries at the orchard stands today as it’s that time of the year again.
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“I Got Saved”  Video  Selah  This is the song Brooksyne thinks the redeemed man in our Bible story today would sing!
 
“Is He Worthy?”  Video  Chris Tomlin
 
“Thanks to Calvary (I Don’t Live Here Anymore)”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

“The Baptism of Jesse Taylor”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band
 
“Chain Breaker”  Video  Zach Williams
 
Finally today:
Bird nest in signThe children observed this creative location for a bird nest at a Royal Farms store just above the entrance. Yes there is a bird in there.
Dan King
I picked up the Lapp family mid morning yesterday after making three chaplain visits including greeting Dan King, a young carpenter with Smucker Home Improvement.
Devotional

“But Because Of Sexual Immorality”

Lancaster County Mennonite farmWash Day on a Lancaster County Mennonite farm
(Click here for a larger image.)

 
But Because Of Sexual Immorality”
 
Note: Today’s message addresses a difficult and sensitive subject.

Message summary: A part of our high calling in being recipients of God’s grace is “to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). May God give us all this aspect of grace!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“On hearing it, many of His disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'” (John 6:60). “But because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).

As I greet men in the course of my work as a chaplain I encourage them, whether young or old, to be faithful men. I also thank and commend them for their hard work and remind them of the contribution they make to their company and their responsibility to provide for their family.

I see a lot of single fathers and young men unmarried but with a girlfriend expecting a child. I urge these young men to commit their lives to Christ, marry, be a good husband and give their child(ren) a stable home. I also remind them they are a father from the time their baby was conceived.

This last Friday I shared this with a young man whose girlfriend is expecting their first baby. He was excited about the baby and was receptive and understanding to the truth concerning that he already is a father. In fact he seemed to light up with the revelation that on the coming Father’s day he already was a father!

However others find this hard to grasp, probably because of godless lies they hear about the pre-born baby being merely a fetus or “blob of tissue”. I recall one young man that actually seemed offended by the reminder although now, following the birth of his daughter, he is a loving father.

Increasingly through my lifetime the traditional (Biblical) standards of morality have been shrugged aside. What once, and still does, constitute morality includes waiting till after you are married to have sexual relations, children born to a married couple (the perverse notion of homosexual “marriage” was not even remotely imagined), faithfulness of the husband to his wife and the wife to her husband, parents providing for their children and so forth.

For many younger people these previous patterns of moral behavior that many of us grew up with have been so scorned and  mocked by Hollywood, the entertainment icons, public educational systems, our own government and so forth that they just no longer know right from wrong and really have no sense of what “moral” is. Sadly many churches are essentially silent on these matters, being careful not to rock the boat and likely offend some younger attendees who are steeped in this teaching.

These days it may very well be financially beneficial to remain unmarried which I have actually had people tell me. I recall a young man who told me this when I pastored a church in New England. If he got married his girlfriend and the mother of his children would lose government benefits and he would actually have to bear responsibility for his children and he candidly told me he did not want this.

Weddings are now often seen more for the big party aspect than a ceremony of solemn commitment to a faithful marriage.

Today’s first text is a response to the teachings of Jesus. “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Sometimes the teachings of Christ and the Bible are hard in the sense of understanding them, at other times they are hard in the sense of obeying them. Today’s second text is a hard teaching in the sense that it runs so counter to modern practice.

It comes from a very frank chapter on marriage. It was written in the context of very promiscuous Corinth. “But because of sexual immorality.” See here for how various translations render this phrase. Perhaps Corinth was not all that different than our modern world!

“Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband”. This is one of many verses beginning in Genesis 2:24 that establish the only Biblical pattern for marriage.

A part of our high calling in being recipients of God’s grace is “to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). May God give us all this aspect of grace!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You who created us know what is best for us and thus we have the Scriptures as our guide and Your commands to teach us the paths of righteousness. Paul writes that each of us should live as a believer in whatever situation we find ourselves in, whether we are single, married, widowed, divorced, or a parent. Our behavior, attitude, and lifestyle should express the heart of Christ and reflect the kingdom of God. Help us to honor You and one another as we live out our daily lives in our troubled world where approval is sought from polling rather than the living and timeless Word of God. Help us not to be swayed by the decay of truth and purity in our day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

For further consideration: In 2007 I started a separate blog titled “A Little Foolishness” which uses humor and satire to get a point across. I haven’t posted since 2013. However a recent Babylon Bee article titled “To Avoid Problems With Lyric Slides, Innovative Church Prints Out Songs And Compiles Them Into Book” prompted a similar approach with an article I wrote.  (Although it is posted on the blog I will also paste it in below.)

 
Warning: This is satire (the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues).
 
“The Mighty Cross” Church in Taunton, Massachusetts has developed an innovative program, teaching a strange concept of what Pastor Masciantangelo calls “traditional Biblical morality”.

Young people are expected to abstain from sex and living together until they enter into a very serious covenant contract called marriage. Many in the younger generation have never heard of or witnessed anything like this. What they are used to is this: Couples usually start having sex right after they meet and then start living together just weeks after meeting so in their observation nothing is really all that different after they get “married”.

The couple tries to save up money for a “wedding”, which is essentially a big, expensive party with lots of food and drink, often held in a barn. Some vaguely recall a brief ceremony with some religious-sounding words they had to endure before the real party began with all the food and drink. After this the couple goes on a two week vacation known as a honeymoon prior to resuming living together no differently than before they got married.

Pastor Masciantangelo has a wedding service that includes a brief challenge to the couple on faithfulness, responsibility and putting God first. He actually uses some “vows”, which are brief challenges from an ancient ceremony he found that include phrases like “for better or worse”, “in sickness and in health” and “till death do us part”. He even suggests the radical notion that the wedding ceremony could be held in the church building.

The pastor counsels the couple prior to the wedding with innovative ideas such as being faithful exclusively to each other, practicing lifelong love for one another, being a good role model for their children, providing for their needs, living responsibly, etc. He teaches that a good marriage is built on obedience to God and consideration to one another. He counsels them to see raising their children as a solemn duty. The pastor expects the couple to see their marriage as a lifelong commitment which some brides are upset about since they had expected to have numerous big expensive parties through their lifetime with themselves being the center of attention.

One of his most controversial assertions is that if the couple abstains from sex till they get married they will not have children till after they’re married. This has researchers at Harvard University baffled; some saying that this is impossible. However the researchers have applied for a $10,000,000 government grant to test the premise academically.

John Smith, a sociologist who manages the family services department in Bristol County calls  Masciantangelo’s ideas “outdated and dangerous”. When pressed to clarify in what sense they were dangerous he pointed out the devastating effect it would have on his department of 155 county social workers if the pastors ideas were actually implemented. “We would face major layoffs as our workload would most certainly decrease” he stated.

Mary Lee Sanders, a divorce lawyer also expressed concern that if these ideas ever caught on she would see a decrease in her business as well as Fred Hodkins, owner of “The Wedding Barn” in Norton, who foresees a decline in business if people aren’t married multiple times. “A key part of our business plan is repeat marriages from satisfied customers”, he stated.

Melissa Hervey who teaches sex education to kindergarten and elementary age children said she was amused by the notion, informing that she has a Master’s Degree in early childhood sex ed and what possible qualifications does the pastor have anyway.

Dr. Allison Jones/Harper/Smith/Brown, an esteemed professor of feminist, transgender and transpecies studies at Wellesley College asserts that Masciantangelo’s teachings are an example of the “abuses of the patriarchy or something like that”. Jones/Harper/Smith/Brown, who is a transpeceite who identifies as a cat and insists on being greeted with a “meow” scoffed at Pastor Masciantangelo’s views as being “just plain weird”.

However 94 year old church member Dorothy Mayhew recalls that when she was young this was considered the proper pattern of morality and was even taught in the public schools. The ACLU has proactively written letters to each school district in the area warning against allowing the pastor to have any influence on the young, reminding them of the amendment somewhere in the Constitution that states there must “separation between church and state”.

John Hughes is a thirty-three year old millennial who has attended college off and on for the last fifteen years. He is still undecided about what to do with his life and racks up college debt for which he is confident others will eventually pay. He identifies himself as a “Social Justice Warrior” and saw a post by Pastor Masciantangelo on Facebook with the Meme “True Love Waits”. He claims he was triggered by the post and has reported it to Facebook as “hate speech”. Facebook spokesman, Cory Arnold confirmed that they had received the complaint and stressed they take these matters seriously.

Planned Parenthood of Southeast Massachusetts also expressed alarm at Pastor Masciantangelo’s teaching, a spokesperson stating, “Expecting young people to abstain from sexual activity is cruel and unusual punishment and that’s against the constitution. After all, we have ‘solutions’ for any consequence.”

But the pastor is undaunted, referring to a Bible verse that speaks of teaching the whole counsel of God and states he will be accountable to God rather than man.

Devotional

“A Good Name”

A Good Name

 
“A Good Name”
 
Message summary: A good name is not only passed on to us but is developed over time, really a lifetime, and the true judgment of success will not be known until this life is over and we personally meet the Lord. Having a good name remains one of our most precious assets that we must carefully guard.
 
Listen to our message on your audio player.
 
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).

John Good 6/16/19This last Sunday morning before our church service began I got acquainted with a friendly greeter named John Good. He commented how there are lots of Goods in Lancaster County.

 
We discussed one of them, a family business named “Good’s Disposal Service”, which is a trash hauling company. Their ads are run on a Christian radio station with this memorable advertising slogan, “Let God recycle your heart and let Good’s recycle your trash.” I smile and my spirit is edified each time I hear this ad. However, wherever you live and regardless of who handles your trash, you should let God recycle your heart!
 
I asked John Good what I thought his favorite verse should be and he didn’t have an answer. I suggested to him, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” He smiled and said, “You must have been a pastor”. I responded, “Well, as a matter of fact I have been.”
 
You may not have Good in your name but you can still have a good name!
 
We use the term “good name” to describe a person or business with a good reputation, which interestingly was the first requirement for the first deacons (Acts 6:3).
 
“A good name is more desirable than great riches.” A good name in the text means a name that connotes a person of honorable character with a good reputation. The latter part of the verse elaborates, “to be esteemed is better than silver or gold”. For instance when we refer to a business known for its quality and integrity, we say “It has a good name”. Having a good name is truly more desirous than great riches.


As in most things, having a good name is harder to build than it is to destroy. Developing a good name requires patience, effort, time, and other virtues, most of them included in the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). Yet it can all come crashing down with one very bad choice (though the one single devastating choice generally follows many other poor choices).

A good name is not only passed on to us but is developed over time, really a lifetime, and the true judgment of success will not be fully known until this life is over and we personally meet the Lord. Having a good name remains one of our most precious assets that we must carefully guard.

Consider your name. What do you suppose others think when they hear your name or read it in print? Does your name represent a person who has solid integrity based upon his or her virtuous character? Let us strive to hear the highest commendation by the Judge of all character, “Well done good and faithful servant”.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father God, the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, stands out among all the rest, for it is only in His name that we have power to combat the enemy as we come boldly to Your throne of grace. May our name, and all that we stand for, be respected among those who know us, including that of our family members who know us best, as well as those whom we work for. May the way we live and conduct our lives bring honor to You and blessing to our family, our community and to the kingdom of God. Amen.

 

 
Geranium 6/17/19This geranium was given to Brooksyne by her good friend, Dottie. At first she hung it but then decided the sleeping puppy planter looks especially rested when shaded by the flowers. If you ask me it looks like a dog is growing flowers out of his head.
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Yes I Will”  Video   Calvary Church worship team

“What A Beautiful Name/Agnus Dei (Live)”  Video  Travis Cottrell along with his daughter Lily
 
Finally today: A good name


Weber GrillThis spring we bought a new gas grill and splurged with a Weber Grill which we are enjoying a lot these days!
 
Gift Of A Weber
Several years ago we passed the LH Brubaker Appliance store on the Strasburg Pike near Lancaster.
 
A sign advertising Weber Grills caught our attention with the phrase “Give The Gift Of A Weber For Father’s Day” which prompted Brooksyne to say, “I already have a Weber for Father’s Day.”

For non-USA readers Weber is the brand name of a popular grill although unrelated to me. The brand name is so familiar the sign didn’t even need to state, “Weber Grill”. That “Weber” certainly has a good name!