“How To Be Remembered”

Enola Low Grade Trail, Lancaster County, PA
The Susquehanna River from the Enola Low Grade rail trail


“How To Be Remembered”


Message summary: The best way to be remembered is by passing our faith on. Christian ministry should influence people for Christ on our journey here below and for all eternity. It will surely have its disappointments when people reject our message or turn away from the faith. But the greatest reward comes from those who are walking in the truth!


Listen to this message on your audio player.


“Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends” (Philippians 4:1). “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
Your family and your children
And their children, and their children


For many years we have enjoyed the perspective and story-telling skills of author Mitch Albom. Many of you have likely read “Tuesdays with Morrie” about a series of visits Albom made to his former sociology professor Morrie Schwartz, as Schwartz gradually dies of ALS. It probably doesn’t sound very interesting based on this description but it really is.


In his book titled “Have A Little Faith” the story begins with an unusual request: an 82-year-old rabbi from Albom’s old hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy. Feeling unworthy, Albom insists on understanding the man better, which throws him back into the Jewish faith he’d left years ago.

Meanwhile, closer to his current home, Albom becomes involved with a Detroit pastor – a reformed drug dealer and convict – who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a huge hole in its roof. Moving between their worlds, Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and well-to-do, Mitch observes how these very different men employ faith similarly in fighting for survival: the older, suburban rabbi, embracing it as death approaches; the younger, inner-city pastor relying on it to keep himself and his church afloat.

In the end, as the rabbi nears death and a harsh winter threatens the pastor’s wobbly church, Albom sadly fulfills the last request and writes the eulogy. And he finally understands what both men had been teaching all along: the profound comfort of believing in something bigger than yourself. ” Have a Little Faith” is a book about a life’s purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man’s journey, but it is everyone’s story.

There’s a perspective in the book that we both found very interesting. The old Rabbi muses that a very important sense of significance in life is being remembered after our death. But he candidly realizes how looking back we really can’t remember much about those who went before us several generations and beyond and how very likely several generations beyond us we will be forgotten. But he shared the perspective that as we pass on our faith we are being remembered.


Many of us have great memories of our own grandparents. However when it comes to great-grandparents I never knew mine and Brooksyne only remembers visiting with her great-grandmother, Stella Baslee, two times; one of them being in this photo when her 92 year old great-grandmother was in a nursing home in Tipton, MO*.  However, few would know any ancestor beyond their great-grandparents and most know very little about them as well. But we know, genetically, and in many other ways each previous generation has impacted who we are.

Today let us consider our spiritual heritage and spiritual legacy.

We all have a spiritual heritage – We can likely identify our spiritual parents, those who led us to Christ and discipled us when we were getting started in the faith. For some it might be our own parents. For others perhaps it’s a Sunday School teacher, pastor, youth leader, camp speaker, etc. But in a sense we all have spiritual grandparents going all the way back to the establishment of the church.

We should all leave a spiritual legacy – Genuine conversion results in spiritual growth and then it’s God’s plan that we in turn become “parents and grandparents” to others whom we influence for Christ. Among the greatest sources of encouragement for earnest laypersons and those in vocational ministry are the people we’ve impacted who faithfully follow the Lord. Being fruitful they in turn are producing spiritual children through their witness and life. However, unlike our physical grandchildren, we generally do not know our spiritual “grandchildren”.

Ray Palmer wrote the hymn “My Faith Looks Up To Thee” in 1830. At the time he wrote concerning the hymn, “There was not the slightest thought of writing for another eye, least of all writing a hymn for Christian worship”. And yet nearly 200 years later his hymn continues to stir many. Can you imagine that which you are doing today can have an impact 200 years from now!

Paul refers to the Philippian believers as, “My joy and my crown”. They were the direct descendants of his ministry. But through his writings over the centuries imagine the scores of “spiritual grandchildren” he considers as his joy and crown. I think we are among them.

Consider some people you’ve led to the Lord and/or discipled that remain steadfast in their walk with Christ. The Lord gives us fruit for our labors and there is no more precious fruit than souls for the kingdom.

Our word of encouragement today is for all of you involved in any form of ministry. Christian ministry should influence people for Christ on our journey here below and for all eternity. It will surely have its disappointments when people reject our message or turn away from the faith. But the greatest reward comes from those who are walking in the truth!


The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace


Be encouraged today,


Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we are shaped and molded by Your Holy Word, through the Spirit living within us, and by the people You place in our earthly journey who take us under their spiritual wings as they model Christ and impart truth in our lives. Their example, their teaching, their prayers, and their love for us further shape and mold us to be more like You. We thank You for these precious people of the faith. Just as they have been faithful to pray for us in our time of need, we lift them up to You and ask You to meet their every need. Encourage them in the faith so that they keep their eyes on the goal of the heavenly prize. We also pray for all whom we have impacted and are now impacting. May they in turn impact others. Some glad day we will all be united in heaven where we will forever worship You, King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.


Great Grandma Stella Baslee: Though I grew up in Tulsa, OK I only remember two trips my family took to see Great Grandma Baslee, my mother’s grandmother, who lived in the neighboring state of Missouri. Her husband died in 1962 and I don’t remember ever meeting him. The three generation photo we feature of me with Great Grandma Baslee and my mother, Ruth, was taken in the summer of 1988. Grandma was living at Tipton Manor in Tipton, MO. Stephen and I had been married for 12 years and met my folks there in Tipton who had traveled from Tulsa. We were there on a Sunday morning and the usual chapel speaker who held services and led in worship did not show up. The staff learned of my role as speaker and worship leader at our nursing home back in our hometown of St. Marys, PA (at the time) and invited me to lead the Sunday morning service.


I was delighted to do so since I would have opportunity to share the Gospel with my great grandmother in the service. Grandma Baslee had never expressed faith in God nor did she ever attend church according to my mom. So, here I was at 32 years of age sharing the gospel with my non-Christian great grandmother whom I barely knew along with others who gathered for the service. It was truly the highlight of our trip. I’d love to write that she asked to receive Christ as her Savior, but I don’t remember that she did. And that I would not forget! Yet I was so pleased that I got to drop a seed of faith and my parents were very pleased as well. None of us knew that she had only eight more months of life, as she died the following April, 1989 at 92 or 93 years of age.
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Noticen and Thobekile Ncube

“The Blessing Zimbabwe”Video   Dedicated to our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe and especially our Zimbabwean friends Noticen and Thobekile Ncube along with their sons Nathan and Neville. This song is being sung around the globe now with many videos posted on YouTube from different countries. The opening lines in our message are taken from this song of blessing.
Here’s another version with a global choir  Video  Hallelujah!!!

During this pandemic period a lot of great videos have been made using this compilation approach such as “Is He Worthy”Video  This will bless you richly by Fellowship Worship
“My Faith Looks Up to Thee”Video  Homecoming Singers includes excellent narration.

Yesterday I rode my bike on the Enola Low Grade rail trail for 5 miles along the Susquehanna River to the Safe Harbor Dam with my longtime friend Mark Pulliam.

Enola Low Grade caboose, Lancaster County, PA

The trail has lots of scenery natural and historic, including this old caboose.

Enola Low Grade sign, Lancaster County, PA

Railroad spikes spell out THE ENOLA LOW GRADE on this wooden sign.

Mark Pulliam on the Enola Low Grade trail, Lancaster County, PA

I took this photo of Mark in one of the small, long-abandoned railroad buildings. Looks like he’s a happy prisoner, the kind who might burst into worshipful song at midnight in his cell. Mark was my boss about twenty years ago.

Enola Low Grade power pole, Lancaster County, PA

Looks like there may have been a train derailment in this catenary pole’s past. In fact several along this section were bent and I don’t think it was someone with a baseball bat!

“We Will Remember”

Front walkway 5/24/20

We worked hard on Saturday around our front walkway. We are transitioning an area of previously high maintenance areas to perennial groundcover as we anticipate the reality of 2 Corinthians 4:16. Note: In the background a horse and buggy are passing. Sadie, our young dog has a bad habit of chasing them.


“We Will Remember”

Message summary: Today, let us indeed remember the days of old and consider the value and contributions of generations long past. Let us remember the wondrous works of the Lord; that He is gracious and merciful! Let us stop and give Him praise for for great is His faithfulness.


Listen to this message on your audio player.


“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you” (Deuteronomy 32:7). “He has caused His wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful” (Psalm 111:4).


We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

Today is Memorial Day here in America, a day that was initially set aside to remember the fallen from America’s Civil War, but now it’s a time when we remember all who have fallen in war. This is commendable and we must not forget the sacrifices made to protect and maintain our freedom. My father was a WW2 veteran and Brooksyne’s dad served during the Korean War.

Memorial Day is also a time when many especially remember our loved ones who have died. But today let us consider another type of remembrance, remembering the “days of old”.

In his final sermon (the entire Book of Deuteronomy) Moses prepared to pass the mantle of leadership on to his successor Joshua. He called the people to “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past”. I believe this is a good command for all people in all ages, not just the initial listeners. Of course “the days of old and generations long past” have been growing since Moses gave this command some 3,400 years ago!

It’s interesting to observe how many times the Bible reminds us to consider our history. History was very important in the life of the people and it is to the Jews of our age. Great New Testament sermons like Peter’s on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and Stephen’s (Acts 7) are rooted in history, the record of God’s providential work in space and time. Hebrews 11, known as the faith chapter, commends “the ancients” for their faith, name by name. It is an excellent overview of God’s working in history in the lives of prominent Bible characters.

Each of us has roots expressed as memories. Some memories are pleasant while others are not. But as we look back we see God’s faithfulness, His provision and His tender care. This gives us a faith lift for the situations we are currently facing and the various uncertainties that we’re currently dealing with during this pandemic. May the Lord help each of us to see the presence of His hand along our earthly journey until we all meet in the Promised Land. Above all, may we all be rooted and grounded in Him.

Today one of the great strategies of Satan is a blurring and de-emphasis of history, whether it be the extremely poor grasp of history evident among so many in this “living only in the now” age or the deceptions of the historical revisionists who essentially rewrite history to suit their own worldview. Sadly many in academia have fallen for this. If Satan can get us to lose perspective of the past or believe a false narrative of the past a trap is set for the lie of living only for the “Now.” Forget the past and we place little value on the future, supremely our eternal future.


“Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” Many like us can no longer ask our father (Stephen’s passed away in 1998 and Brooksyne’s in 2000). Increasingly many have not known the love of an earthly father, but we do well to inquire of our spiritual fathers and elders. Above all we learn from the elders in the Holy Scriptures.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Try to remember”. Some memories we would rather forget but others we must make a conscious effort to remember. At times it’s a determination that we will remember.

Today, let us indeed remember the days of old and consider the value and contributions of generations long past. Let us remember the wondrous works of the Lord; that He is gracious and merciful! Let us stop and give Him praise for great is His faithfulness.


Be encouraged today,


Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we express thanks to you and pray for families of the fallen men and women who gave their all in fighting for our freedoms during our sojourn here on earth. We thank You above all for Jesus who made the supreme sacrifice that we might enjoy our freedom from sin and our arch enemy, Satan, for all eternity. We thank you for the days of old, for generations long past, and the great works accomplished in their lifetime. Your greatness is further demonstrated through ordinary people just like us in our lifetime. History in the past and history in the making is subordinate to Your sovereign work in the lives of Your people. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“We Will Remember”Video   Triumphant Quartet

River Trail walk with Rick and Rachel 5/23/20

Saturday afternoon we joined our long-time friends Rick and Rachel for a walk on the River Trail. The Susquehanna River and Shocks Mill railroad bridge is in the background.

River Trail walk 5/23/20

It was a beautiful day with clear skies and very warm temperatures, lots of bikers with people of all ages, the beauty outdoors. Probably ten minutes after we left this scenic bridge the train came through. At least we got to hear the whistle and roar in the distance.

Sunday picnic at Lapps

Yesterday afternoon we joined the Lapps at the Old Windmill Farm for a picnic.

Sunday picnic at Lapps

This adaptive farm implement using some type of feeder reminds us of our childhood. My Uncle Gentry (Stephen) had some huge wooden spools used for power lines that we could roll in and on around the yard in the sixties. Turns out Brooksyne’s dad collected the same kinds of spools and they made picnic tables of them in their back yard.

Sunday picnic at Lapps

As we conversed in the front yard our eyes were drawn up above the tree to the giant fan on the windmill.

“It Only Takes A Spark”

Sunset, Lancaster County, PA 5/21/20
Last night’s dramatic sunset across from our home taken by Ester.
“It Only Takes A Spark”
Message summary: Our sparks may be relatively small, but we are part of a great worldwide team spreading sparks!
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
 
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Campfire singingAs young believers in the seventies we enjoyed gathering around a blazing campfire with others who shared our faith. Actually we still do but such opportunities are rare as we “mature” in our years. A musician would strum a guitar as we sang songs like “Kum ba yah” (“Come by Here”), “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”, “I’ve Been Redeemed”, “Give Me Oil in My Lamp” and other simple, repetitive tunes.
But most all who sat around the campfire would longingly wait for the musician to begin strumming a favorite of that time period, as we launched into the words of “Pass It On”. It was a simple, campfire type song that called believers to share their faith. Surely there are some old-timers like us that recall the song although I haven’t heard it sung in years. I can still hear the voice of Evie Tornquist who especially made this song popular:
It only takes a spark to get a fire going
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it
You spread His love to ev’ryone you want to pass it on
Today let us consider sparks. We know in a forest it only takes a spark to set a blazing, destructive fire. But the spark we write of today is positive and life-giving and we should be very intentional and prayerful that we might see this spark come ablaze in others we seek to influence.
Ravi ZachariasEarlier this week Ravi Zacharias, a long-time, strong contender for the faith, was called home to be with the Lord. The satirical site Babylon Bee, had a headline that was far closer to truth than satire, “Earth Deemed Unworthy Of Ravi Zacharias” (see below for link). Also see this verse: Hebrews 11:36-38
We have appreciated his ministry for many years; books, tapes, radio and hearing him speak live several times. Raised in India and converted to Christ during his teen years, Ravi likely had many sparks that attributed to his conversion but today let us consider just one, which has a local interest, for people from my area: Ravi shares from his testimony:
“As young teenagers, my sisters were invited to a Youth for Christ rally. I was not sure what it meant but joined them for the promise of refreshments. It was at one such rally that I first heard the gospel. The preacher was a man named Sam Wolgemuth. When the invitation was given, I walked forward. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew that I wanted what he had.”
Sam Wolgemuth was raised here in Lancaster County at Mount Pleasant Church where we attended for many years and where we still have many friends. Early in our time at the church Sam’s mother, Cecilia Wolgemuth, who lived past 100, was still living. I never met her but heard a number of stories about her and her family. Very earnest in her faith she never tossed out old Sunday School materials in the hopes that people left behind when Jesus returns might read the materials and turn to Christ.

Sam Wolgemuth She and her farmer husband Graybill raised one son, Samuel. Sam became a pastor and then went on to be one of the early leaders in the Youth for Christ ministry establishing the international outreach. He served as president of Youth For Christ from 1965-1973 during the time I was involved in YFC in a Kansas City Area High School and Brooksyne was also active in YFC in her high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Our daily text indicates that Timothy, upon hearing Paul’s words, was to entrust his teaching to reliable men who would also be qualified to teach others. Thank God for the sparks of transmission since Paul gave Timothy this charge some 2000 years earlier. Thank God for the scores of faithful servants who have been a spark over the centuries and for those in our own generation. We have the same opportunity to be sparks as well!
Let us consider that final line in Ravi’s testimony quoted above, “but I knew that I wanted what he had.” Isn’t that a great example of conveying faith!
Some of the sparks seem small and are little known such as Graybill and Cecilia Wolgemuth who served the Lord in relative obscurity in the context of a small country church, raising their son to serve the Lord. Of course there are long forgotten teachers and preachers in that church who had a role in Sam’s development. Other sparks seem bigger, like Sam who was a leader in Youth For Christ and Ravi Zacharias.

But both types of sparks are of equal and vital importance. One of the greatest detriments to our service for Christ is the sense that what we do is little and thus not really very important. But ultimately the faith is spread one spark at a time. Of little importance is man’s estimation; what really matters is that we remain faithful to our calling to share and to serve however and wherever He leads us.

I have been seeking to share the truths of the Gospel for over forty-five years now. Only a tiny, tiny fraction of the earth’s population know who I am. My sparks are relatively small, but I’m part of a great worldwide team spreading sparks!

What joy wells up in my heart when I see those to whom I’ve entrusted these truths now passing them on to their generation. If you’re a believer, then you’re part of this chain. Some of you just started following the Truth and are the last link in the chain, but hopefully this will only be for a short time. As You grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus you also will want to heed Christ’s call to pass it on. Let’s all be faithful!
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, lay upon our hearts the unquenchable desire to pass on the spark of faith to others the important truths we received from reliable followers of Christ and from our own study of Your Holy Word. Help us not to relegate our duties to others, but take up our responsibility as we link together with other believers all over the globe transmitting Your timeless, life-changing truths to those who have ears to hear. Amen.


Brooksyne recalls: Years ago while serving as a chaplain at Turkey Hill Dairy I attended the funeral of an 80 year old woman, Ann Frey, who had a dynamic testimony for Christ. She was greatly loved by her family and the large number of friends who attended. She was known for her tremendous gift of hospitality.
Turkey HillThis family, the Freys, and though well-known here in Lancaster County, wouldn’t likely be recognized out of this area. However they were the founders of the Turkey Hill Dairy and many of you have probably had Turkey Hill ice cream and teas! The trademark, “Imported from Lancaster County” is on each container which always sounds kind of funny when you are eating or drinking it in Lancaster County!

At the end of the service the pastor announced that a friend of the family would like to say some words in conclusion. Imagine my surprise when Ravi Zacharias, took the platform and shared from his heart.

He said that this dear woman and her husband were a remarkable blessing to him in his early years of ministry. They shared with him in an unpretentious and simple way words that he recalls profoundly encouraged him. It spurred him on in his calling to ministry.

He smiled as he told us of her very honest assessment of his ministry. She candidly told him, “Ravi, I really don’t understand a lot of what you say, but you’re very good at it so just keep on doing it.” Obviously he listened and God has poured out His blessings and used Ravi throughout the world.

Stephen’s note: Over ten years ago we met a senior couple who also have connections with Sam Wolgemuth, Jesse Dourte (now with the Lord) and his wife Wilma. Jesse’s sister, Grace, was Sam’s wife. In 2010 I drove them out to Chicago to attend her memorial service. Sam had already passed on at that time. It was a stirring service of a life well lived we shared here.
Another connection of interest to some is that their son, Robert, is married to Radio Bible teacher Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Dan Wolgemuth, another of Sam Wolgemuth’s sons is the current president/CEO of Youth for Christ. He writes: “Ravi [had the] ability to take the truth and make it both accessible and, respectfully saying, palatable. In other words, he was not offensive in his delivery, even when he was confronting those who were staunch advocates of a different theology or perspective.”

“He stands as a wonderful beacon to young people today who we are engaging with who want to see an example of someone who knew what they believed but wasn’t so antagonistic in how they communicated it that it made the gospel unattractive.”


Ravi was a Christian “apologist” a noun that can be confusing so I offer the following explanation:

“Apologetic” and “apology” are two similar sounding but entirely different words with two entirely different meanings.

Apologetics
1) systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine).
2) A branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.

Apology
1) A regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure: “my apologies for the delay”.
2) A formal, public statement of regret, such as one issued by a newspaper, government, or other organization.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Pass It On”  Video  Evie Tornquist  “Spark from the Past” 1976 Billy Graham Crusade in Seattle, WA with Evie Tornquist singing, as we remember her!
“Pass It On”  Video  Eternity

I’ve enjoyed reading some of the online tributes to Ravi;
From Tony Perkins: He was just 17 years old, a young, broken teenager living in Delhi when he tried to end his own life. But Ravi Zacharias didn’t die. Not then. He woke up in a hospital, where someone handed him a book that would change his life — and so many others’: the Bible. “Thank God I was spared,” he said later. But over a lifetime of evangelism that spanned every corner of the world, it is us who are thankful.

For the next 57 years, he dedicated his life to the Savior he found in that hospital room — building a global ministry that he described as, “helping the thinker believe and the believer think.” From 1984 on, after two decades of theological study and writing, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries — brimming with Christian scholars and authors who set out to help people deal with the difficult questions of faith. Over time, the soft-spoken man with a great sense of humor and purpose would become, in many places, a household name.

To many people who knew Ravi’s passion for answering people’s questions about God, his last article on the RZIM website seemed fitting: “Just Thinking: At All Times.” It was there that he could answer personally a question he had answered publicly — about suffering, faith, and God’s goodness.

After his sudden diagnosis in March, and an even grimmer prognosis in April, Ravi wanted people to know that even in the midst of cancer, “The Bible assures us that at all times God is with us. He is our comforter; He is our healer. He is our physician; He is our provider. He knows better than we do… God has an appointed time for all of us. His protection and security is ours ’til that moment comes when it’s ‘closing time.'”

Closing time for Ravi came early Tuesday morning, surrounded by his wife of almost 50 years and family. His daughter, Sarah, says that his tombstone will bear the verse that turned a hurting teenager into a man determined to help people find God — John 14:19: “Because I live, you also will live.”

Ravi came to the Lord, he wrote in his final days, “uncertain about his future.” But he remains, as he hopes everyone is, “certain about my destiny.” It is a destiny that, because of his life’s work, many will share. #ThankYouRavi

Here’s another one beginning with this quote from Ravi Zacharias: “The story of the Gospel is the story of eternal life. My life is unique and will endure eternally in God’s presence. I will never be ‘no more’. I will never be lost because I will be with the One who saves me.”
Finally today:
Ascension Day traffic, Lancaster CountyWe had forgotten it was Ascension Day yesterday until we saw some of the Amish businesses closed and heavy Amish traffic. They customarily get out on this day to visit with family and friends. Most of our readers will recognize Ascension Day to be the Christian celebration of Jesus rising into Heaven after He had spent 40 days on Earth after rising from the dead. Ascension Day is celebrated forty days after Easter Sunday on Ascension Thursday. This date is also ten days before the celebration of the Pentecost.
Sunset silhouette, Lancaster County, PA
Late yesterday evening we did a lot of work on our lawn and flower beds. Ester was taking a photo of the sunset when I unexpectedly walked into her view pushing a wheelbarrow. She decided to take the photo anyway and captured my image in this silhouette.

“Connecting The Dots” (Part 2)

Gold finch

We have had a lot of purple finches at the feeder outside our office window but yesterday a gold finch stopped by. We get quite a few of these beauties but they’re squeamish so I was pleased to capture this shot before he sensed I was there and flew away.
“Connecting The Dots” (Part 2)
 

Message summary: Today we encourage each reader to unashamedly place their faith in the Lord who guides us in connecting the dots of life. “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true” (1 John 5:20).

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.


“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Yesterday we shared a message about, “connecting the dots” applying it to spiritual discernment.

But the term is also used in a business context such as Apple founder Steve Jobs, who viewed his leadership role as “connecting the dots” for people.

Far too often it seems our modern world with all its information, education and supposed brilliance just can’t connect the dots, especially the most important dot connections in life.

Keep calm and see the big picture Biblically connecting the dots goes way beyond drawing a line from the numbers, 1 to 20. It requires discernment, wisdom and understanding. To understand means to grasp the nature, significance, or explanation of the subject matter. The really big and most important picture is understanding the purpose of life.

Living with a big picture outlook leads to a deep settled or unwavering peace as we have confidence that God is in control and working all things out for our good (Romans 8:28). Psalm 119:165 states, “Great peace have they which love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Connecting the dots also gives us a fuller understanding about current events from a spiritual and eternal perspective which helps to form our personal perspective. “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

Today so many mock God and those who follow Him.
These rantings actually strengthen my faith and resolve to serve the Lord, even more so as I consider the source of disbelief going back to the Garden of Eden. Disbelief and mocking the things of God are certainly not unique to our generation!

Today’s Scripture verse gives powerful insight on this matter: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Many have always considered the things that come from the Spirit of God as foolishness. They cannot understand them, regardless of what level of human knowledge or formal education they attain, since they do not have spiritual discernment, which is a result of spiritual regeneration.

Psalm 14:1Regardless of how much knowledge one attains he or she may still be a fool according to Scripture. Such an assessment may seem unkind, unloving and even harsh but consider Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’.” An interesting footnote is that the Hebrew word rendered “fool” in the Psalms denotes one who is morally deficient. Romans 1:22 states, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” Later in the same chapter is a list of characteristics of the unregenerate which includes, “They have no understanding” (Romans 1:31).

The Psalmist stated “I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding” (Psalm 119:32). Biblical understanding must have a foundation in faith since, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

I believeToday I affirm, “Yes, I believe!” Several years ago Brooksyne led a choir in this great song of faith which powerfully expresses our ongoing belief in God our Creator in the midst of the deadly assaults and daily insults perpetrated against believers every day.

Today we encourage each reader to unashamedly place their faith in the Lord who guides us in connecting the dots of life. “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true” (1 John 5:20).


Be encouraged today,


Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your Word declares that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God. Through my words and actions I want to express to a disbelieving world that I do believe! I am not ashamed of the Gospel, even if it cost me my life on this side of heaven, because it is the power of God to everyone who believes. Help me to be merciful to those who doubt and praying for them to be snatched from the fire as You save them through Your atoning blood. In the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, we pray. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 

Ben Smart, an Australian campus minister, shares this perspective on connecting the dots:

There are two extremes that we should seek to avoid:

On the one hand, some people love to study theology, to stretch their brains, to learn, and to debate and discuss in-depth theology, but it has no connection to the way they live their lives. If you find yourself more tempted to lean in this direction, be very careful that you don’t let Christianity become merely an intellectual exercise. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

On the other hand, some people couldn’t care less about theology, because they would rather just live good lives for Jesus. But since their life practice isn’t informed by and based on good theology, they are prone to go astray. If you find yourself eager to do good works, yet you are bored by studying the Bible, then I encourage you to remember that the Bible is the only sure way that we can know how to live and do good works. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16).

Rather than falling into either of these extremes, we are to study the Bible and theology in order that we might better know God, His character, and His will for our lives. We learn and listen in order that we might live rightly, and honour God in all that we do. It is absolutely vital that we connect the dots between theology and the way we live our lives. Either one of these two is fatally insufficient on its own.

 

“Yes, I Believe”  Video  Clark Family

“Still”  Video   Legacy Five  The lyrics to this song are posted on the screen as you watch the video and are so pertinent to today’s message!

“Connecting The Dots” (Part 1)

Church steeple in downtown Lancaster, PAAfter a meeting we attended at the Lancaster Convention Center (before covid-19) we stepped out on the top floor of a parking garage and viewed this bright church steeple in downtown Lancaster, PA.
 
“Connecting The Dots” (Part 1)
 

Message summary: Let us connect the dots today by asking the Lord to help us understand the present time and show us how to remain faithful and fruitful, as we prayerfully represent His kingdom here on earth.

 
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
 
“Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). “And do this, understanding the present time” (Romans 13:11).

Connecting the dots I just heard a politician on the news use the expression “connecting the dots” in describing some aspect of current events. Many of you will recall “connect the dots” worksheets which are like a puzzle that reveals pictures once you complete it by following the numerical or alphabetical dots. Many children enjoy this and adults as well. I am pretty sure the numerical puzzle to the right would reveal a star! But I don’t believe the politician was talking about that kind of “connect the dots”.

In adult discourse the phrase “connect the dots” can be used as a metaphor to illustrate an ability (or inability) to see the big picture, by associating one idea with another. Connecting the dots is also a good description for seeking to understand the times we live in or life’s deeper meaning.

In this technological age we’re bombarded with information. Up to the nineties we heard news on the hour on our radios or 6 PM on TV. Now our smart phones give instant news updates from around the world, along with 24 hour cable news. Some apps give notifications with this attention grabber, “Breaking News”. But understanding and discerning what really is significant is greatly needed, a sense of connecting the dots.

I sense in my spirit and in my discernment of the times that we are at a point of some type of significant threshold being reached, a tipping point as some would say. I want God to give me wisdom to understand the present time, and know how to respond properly, boldly and confidently as He more clearly reveals the bigger and more important picture.

2 Timothy 4:3 states, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”. There is a spiritual pandemic in the United States and I am sure all around the world, afflicting many with deception. Untold numbers fall ill from its effects which is being packaged and marketed as 100% pure truth. Just consider the scores of people who get their information from the supermarket tabloids!

To understanding the present time requires:

* cutting through all the clutter,
* practicing clear-minded thinking, (we wrote about this in Monday’s message)
* having Biblically-informed discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
* speaking and acting on the truth in love and boldness

We have a model to follow in the little-known “men of Issachar”. Our only insight into these otherwise unknown men is a rather obscure passage from I Chronicles concerning those who joined David in Hebron at the time the kingdom was transitioning from Saul to David. It’s in a part of the Bible we may tend to gloss over following the laborious genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1-9. But there are some powerful gems in this section such as a description of the 50,000 warriors who had “helped David with an undivided heart” (1 Chronicles 12:33).

Let us consider the spiritual discernment of these men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do”. Issachar was one of Jacob’s sons and his descendants later became a tribe which had amazingly maintained their distinct identity for some 800 years up to the time of David. This verse is found in a section of Scriptures chronicling David’s soldiers. Two qualities marked these men of Issachar and the special contribution they made during the time they lived.

1) They “understood the times”. What a powerful statement! Understanding the times involves spiritual discernment, that is connecting the dots. We find contemporary events interesting yet often disturbing, frightening and even potentially despairing. But the fundamental focus on properly understanding the times is a steady, growing understanding of God and His Word. “The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:5,6).

2) They “knew what Israel should do”. As a result of spiritual understanding and godly discernment we need God’s direction in these times to keep our life, family and ministry on the right track. A powerful apocalyptic verse at the end of Daniel states, “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand (Daniel 12:10).


I wonder if Paul had these men of Issachar in mind when he begins a section, “And do this, understanding the present time” (Romans 13:11).

We want to be wise in the sight of God by interpreting and discerning the mindset of our present culture with Scriptural understanding. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7).

The Life Application Bible study notes shed further insight on this familiar Scripture: “In this information age knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce. Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot. It is a basic attitude that affects every aspect of life. The foundation of knowledge is to fear the Lord – to honor and respect God, to live in awe of His power and to obey His Word. Faith in God should be the controlling principle for your understanding of the world, your attitudes and your actions.”

Let us connect the dots today by asking the Lord to help us understand the present time and show us how to remain faithful and fruitful, as we prayerfully represent His kingdom here on earth.

 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father of all wisdom, we who are children of the light, do not live as those in darkness. Instead You have shown us right from wrong, truth from error, and You have given us discernment to test the spirits to see that which is from You and that which is from the evil one. The foundations are shaking as we are flooded with a tidal wave of twists and spins that seeks to confuse or demean the believer. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but rather the authorities from this world. Keep our souls untainted by the spiritual forces of evil like the men of Issachar did. Help us to walk boldly in the conviction power of the Holy Spirit today, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Correction: Darlene, an attentive reader pointed out a memory error in a recent prayer we both missed. “In the prayer you had Aaron and Hur holding up Abraham’s arms for Israel to get the victory. It was Moses.” She went on to nicely say, “I know that you know that. Sometimes we do make mistakes. Keep up the good work.”


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Statement of Faith”  Video  The Booth Brothers, The Hoppers & Greater Vision
 


Finally today:
Yesterday we shared a photo that appeared to be from underwater with ducks swimming above. It was actually a photo I took years ago of a painting on the ceiling at the main Bass Pro Shop store in Springfield MO!

“A Lesson From Goliath’s Sword”

Amish chicken BBQA great sign of spring in rural Lancaster County is the Amish-run chicken BBQ’s on Saturdays. This BBQ is at the Country View Farm Market & Greenhouse along 743 south of Elizabethtown, PA. Location on Google map
 
“A Lesson From Goliath’s Sword”
 

Message summary: Self-assurance and self-sufficiency will ultimately lead to self-defeat. But steadfast trust in Almighty God and our acknowledgment that apart from Him we are powerless will lead us to ultimate victory!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“David asked Ahimelek, ‘Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent.’ The priest replied, ‘The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one.’ David said, ‘There is none like it; give it to me'” (1 Samuel 21:8,9).

Several weeks ago I gave the Lapp children a handmade sword made from a very light weight wood, and so for safety reasons, they cut off the pointed tip. They’ve had a fun time using it when they play act the story of David and Goliath.

The other day I was over and the children wanted me to participate in the skit. Would you believe I (big Stephen) played the role of David the young shepherd boy and two year old little Stephen played the 9′ giant, Goliath. As I pretended to load my sling with stones Goliath (little Stephen) gruffly declared with as much defiance as any two year old could muster, “I’m not a puppy!” Of course he paraphrased, in his two year old vocabulary the Scripture, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” Well, I showed him and slung my pretend sling and knocked Goliath out. He fell to the floor doing a good job of pretending to be dead for a toddler who doesn’t understand what dying is yet.

Goliath fallingBut then we turned it around so that I was Goliath and little Stephen was David. I came at him holding the sword and gruffly declared, “I’m not a puppy!” He then whirled his “sling” round and round until the pretend stone hit me right between the eyes.

At this point, like his older siblings he regularly played with, I was supposed to crash down to the floor as if dead. Little Stephen, along with his siblings, watched and waited for me to fall but this part of the story I did not play act. As many of you might have guessed this Goliath didn’t fall down lest he couldn’t get back up off the floor after the playacting was over (at least without a lot of real ugly effort). Young Stephen just had to settle for a badly wounded Goliath leaning against the wall.

David and GoliathEven those who are nominally Biblically literate are usually familiar with the story of David and Goliath, which resulted in David’s great victory over the 9′ giant Goliath and the trophy sword he recovered from his opponent. The entire story is found in 1 Samuel 17.

Our daily text records an interesting event that happened sometime after the famous battle took place. Following the battle David became a hero, more popular in the eyes of the people than King Saul, which caused Saul to go into an uncontrollable jealous rage. Most of the latter chapters of 1 Samuel record David fleeing from Saul as he invariably pursued him day after day. It was a very despairing time and this led David to record his physical, emotional and spiritual battles which are revealed in several of the Psalms. We often find ourselves turning to these very Psalms when we too are dealing with battles of one sort or another.

In today’s Bible portion David is in need of a sword. He asked Ahimelek, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent.” Ahimelech the priest, for some unspecified reason, had Goliath’s massive sword wrapped in a cloth. The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one”.

You can imagine just how enormous and heavy Goliath’s sword must have been! His sword weighed 600 shekels, about 15 lbs. By contrast a normal long sword usually weighs between 2½ lbs. to 4½ lbs. at the very most. But David said, “There is none like it; give it to me”. He surely knew that was the case!

What practical purpose did David have in mind for this massive sword? It seems rather unlikely he would use it as a weapon given its size, although it’s certainly possible. He may have had some other utilitarian use for it or perhaps he intended to recycle the metal!

But in considering this I believe David’s interest is not a practical use, but a powerful reminder, even a visual object lesson, of God’s help during a past major conflict. If he held that sword up to his current opponents they would have been reminded of David’s victory over Goliath!

Humanly speaking young David was no match for the mighty Goliath. He knew that. But he was relying on God for the victory. His great battle cry had been, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45). The huge sword of Goliath was a tangible reminder and evidence of God’s help in a time of great need. Do you have something like the sword of Goliath in your life that is a reminder of a great victory?

Self-assurance and self-sufficiency will ultimately lead to self-defeat. But steadfast trust in Almighty God and the acknowledgment that apart from Him we are powerless will lead us to ultimate victory!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber


Praying man Daily prayer: Father, You provided David with supernatural courage, strength, and skill to defeat the boastful bully of a giant, Goliath. That huge sword was a reminder to David of your help in a time of great need. Remind us of past victories in our own personal lives and those of others in Scripture and in modern history to give us strength and faith as we face today’s battles. Nothing in ourselves will defeat the enemies we face, but “with God all things are possible.” Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Only A Boy Named David”  Video  
 
“Praise The Lord”  Video  The Imperials  This song, popular in the eighties, often ministered to me. It has great lyrics.
 
Note: Yesterday we referred to the rascally antagonist Eddie Haskell, actor Ken Osmond, on the “Leave It To Beaver” TV show. Coincidentally, several readers informed us that he actually died yesterday at 76 years of age. In reading more about the actor we learned he was typecast, due to his rascally role as Eddie Haskell, and couldn’t find work so in 1970, Osmond joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). He grew a mustache in an effort to secure anonymity from average citizens. Ten years later Osmond was struck by five bullets while in a foot chase with a suspect. He was protected from four of the bullets by his bullet-resistant vest, with the fifth bullet ricocheting off his belt buckle!
 


Finally today:
 
Underwater photography? Any idea how I took this photo?

“A Non-Congested Mind”

Today we share two lead photos taken by friends in our area of birds we now see but have not yet been able to photograph!

 

Baltimore Orioles (Doris High)

Doris High has Baltimore Orioles at her feeders. So far we’ve seen them only at a distance up in the oak trees in front of our house.
 
Red-winged blackbird (Lamar Dourte)

Lamar Dourte shares this photo of a red-winged blackbird in his feeder. We see these beautiful birds every time we walk along the Donegal Creek trail that begins across from our house. For the first time this year we’ve had some visit our birdfeeders.
 

“A Non-Congested Mind”
 

Message summary:  Today let us strive to have a non-congested mind!

 
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
 
“But you, keep your head in all situations” (2 Timothy 4:5a). “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray” (1 Peter 4:7).
 
Vicks VaporubA truckload of Vick’s VapoRub overturned on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Saturday. Amazingly, there was no congestion for eight hours.*

I (Stephen) deal with chest congestion due to asthma and allergies. Many take for granted the blessing of being able to breathe in and out without obstruction, but those who suffer from asthma, allergies and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) know just what I’m talking about.

But there’s another type of congestion that’s so prevalent most all our readers will identify. I will call it mind congestion. People need to be clear-minded. We need to have a non-congested mind. Rubbing VapoRub on our heads won’t help with this type of congestion although it might smell good to some (me), medicinal to others!

 
Gene WeberDuring my growing up years I regularly heard my dad repeat this bit warning, “Stephen, keep your head on straight”. This sage advice usually followed a heart to heart talk about a serious matter. When Daddy said this I knew exactly what he meant. Not speaking in the literal sense, of course, but he was cautioning me to stay in control of my thoughts and be careful lest I make a rash decision that was not in my best interest.

As a confused adolescent it was good, sound advice from a loving father who really cared for his kids. My dad was a big man and could be rather gruff in tone and personality.

 
Ward Cleaver

He didn’t fit the profile nor the image of Ward Cleaver, the famous father on “Leave it to Beaver” who protected his sons from bad influences such as the likes of antagonist Eddie Haskell, regularly meted out sage advice and, when needed he disciplined his boys’ errant ways, unlike many of the bumbling dads portrayed on sitcoms these days.
 
But getting back to my dad, he was a good man who was devoted to his wife and kids. He wanted us to turn out right and we all knew it. He’s been gone over 20 years now and I miss hearing his “cut to the chase” words of wisdom and challenge.

Now fast forward 50 years and imagine a father’s counsel to his adolescent son in light of the increasing evil that permeates our society along with the prevailing philosophies and confusion (or should I say delusion) of our day. Increasingly it seems that wrong is endorsed as right and right is denounced as wrong, so the godly dads of today have even greater challenges when it comes to giving needed guidance to their growing children.

We must be on our guard lest we be seduced into this topsy-turvy, touchy-feely system of beliefs based on popular and politically correct notions of morality, especially to the exclusion of critical or sound judgment. To hold to ancient, proven truths is being viewed more and more as old fashioned and will likely bar you from the “cool, hip or cutting edge” in-crowd (not that I’m really trying to get in that setting anyway.) Here in America and around the world a battle for the heart, soul and mind rages.

I believe among the greatest challenges for us as believers in any age is keeping our head on straight. We live in a time of moral confusion and I believe Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh got it right when they wrote: “We are called to take His light to a world where wrong seems right….” in the inspiring song, “People Need the Lord”.

In Paul’s final letter to Timothy he writes, “Keep your head in all situations”. Other versions translate the phrase “always be sober-minded” (ESV), “control yourself at all times” (NCV), “keep a clear mind” (NLT).

Greek scholar Fritz Rienecker points out that in this passage Timothy is called “to be in a vigilant, wakeful, considerate frame of mind, taking heed of what is happening and pursuing a course with calm and steady aim.”

In a similar way Peter wrote, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray” (1 Peter 4:7).

Today let us strive to have a non-congested mind!

Be encouraged today!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we seek to be clear-minded in this generation where many seek to confuse, delude, and undermine that which we learn from Your holy Scriptures. Instead of feeling despair help us to see it as a challenge to more deeply embrace the ancient Holy Word. Its truth does not change according to the whim of society nor the ills of the day. We resolve not to interpret Scripture in light of our generation, but instead we interpret our generation in light of Scripture, clearly defining right and wrong, good and bad as taught in Scripture not in the “scholarly” academia of our time. We must keep our head in all situations on a personal level as well as that which affects our society at large. We desire a clear mind, trusting spirit, and a steady aim at following You no matter the cost. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

For further thought: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). It sounds so appropriate in light of what we see around us. We feel we may very well be in or approaching the time this powerful delusion is sent out over the earth. As I am confronted with so many contemporary news issues I am again reminded of the great deception and powerful delusion that is sweeping our world and am even more convinced of the absolute importance of keeping my head on straight!

* Of course the turnpike accident is a joke! You can tell it and change the name to a highway in your area!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


Ancient Of Days“The Ancient Of Days”  Video  CityAlight

“The Ancient Of Days”  Video  CityAlight (Church setting)

 

Amish Bishop's hatIn Friday’s message we shared a photo of me (Stephen) wearing a straw hat and inquired as to what was distinct about this hat in Amish culture. I provided a link for what I intended as an opportunity to venture a guess regarding this distinction. However it seems many thought the link would reveal the answer, including my wife. Sorry about that!  Several guessed that it signified a married man. In Amish culture the married men wear beards, single men do not. The correct answer which is very hard for me to see as a distinction is the width of the brim. Amish men and boys wear hats with a 3 1/2 inch brim. But the hat I was wearing has a 4 inch brim worn only by the bishops (church leaders). The Amish can spot this 1/2 inch difference instantly!



DJ and Anna Mae PagliaYesterday we attended a drive-in service at a local church and were so pleased to see DJ and Anna Mary Paglia. Now in their nineties they maintain a vibrancy that is a blessing. Their unmasked smiles speak volumes of love, peace and joy!

God loves you!
This little girl displayed this “God Loves You” message for departing church-goers through her sunroof.


Finally today:
 
Purple finch

We are happy to share Doris and Lamar’s photos today. Our main colorful bird feeder visitors are finches, mostly purple (although they look red to me!)
 
Doris High posts her photos here: Two Interesting Days with the Birds
Lamar Dourte shares his photos on his Facebook page.

“The Deception Of Pride”

Fisher's greenhouse, Strasburg, PA

The Fisher’s Greenhouse in Strasburg, PA is one of the most tidy in the whole county. Amish Greenhouses don’t hire robots, otherwise I’d consider that, after hours, robots are scooting along the cement aisles suctioning any blossom, leaf or soil that has fallen from the thousands of plants. But, what we do see are workers busy watering, planting, cleaning and often joyfully singing hymns as they do their work diligently.

“The Deception Of Pride”

Message summary:  As God’s redeemed people let us humble ourselves before the Lord today. Let us remember His warning, “Pride goes before destruction” and hear His Word that directs His people to, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up”.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’  ‘Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ declares the LORD” (Obadiah 1:3,4). “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18). “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

During this coronavirus pandemic period we’ve seen the good and the bad of the visible church and those in ministry. Many are seeking creative ways to minister. Marlin is a friend whose son is a pastor with a church of 400 in Columbus, Ohio. He told me his son has made the effort to call each family in the church to encourage them and express his care. That would be a lot of phone calls! John Keefer, a local pastor friend, has a weekly Zoom meeting so the dispersed church can feel somewhat connected during this time of isolation. We know there are many, many other commendable ways people are seeking to keep the light shining.

But there are those who are an embarrassment to be associated with the Christian faith and it’s so confusing to the watching world. A long-time “famous” televangelist has been seeking to profit from the fears by essentially selling snake oil with a claim it heals Covid 19. Several in the name it/claim it crowd have haughtily pronounced the end of the coronavirus. Some of these big time preachers have done very well profiting from religion and have their fancy cars, mansions and airplanes. They often convey such a smug pride and frankly I marvel at how many gullible people there are that help them stay in “business”. A verse from Jesus comes to mind, “they have received their reward” (Matthew 6:1-4).

But we are all subject to pride, especially leaders. John Stott stated, “The chief occupational hazard of leadership is pride.”

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.” While pride is a sin, humility is a virtue, that once you think you have it, you’ve lost it. (Think on that one for a minute.)

Obadiah is the smallest book in the Old Testament having only one chapter with 21 verses. This is a prophecy against the Edomites, an ancient people who had descended from Esau, Jacob’s brother, and long-time enemies of God’s chosen people.

At the time of the Babylonian conquest the Edomites had rejoiced in the destruction of Jerusalem by her conquerors. (The hatred of Israel by her neighbors is ancient.)  Psalm 137 was written during this time and states, “Remember O Lord what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. ‘Tear it down’ they cried, ‘tear it down to its foundations!’” (v.7) Obadiah was written to assure God’s people of His impending judgment on the Edomites.

Our daily verse indicates a timeless principle: pride deceives. This ancient people indeed had some distinct military advantages due to the seeming invincibility of their geographical position, which by all means was amazing. The cities of Edom were cut right into the face of the cliffs providing imposing natural defenses, which gave their inhabitants a sense of invulnerability.

They thought they could taunt the misfortunes of their neighbor Israel and remain untouched. They had declared, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” However the Lord declared, “I will bring you down” (v. 4) and the historical record indicates that He did just that.

Pride continues to deceive. The hard but valuable lessons from history are often ignored by the heart of a nation and the heart of an individual. Pride is a great deceiver.

Where is your source of hope and assurance today? In your education? Your position? Your financial plan? National defenses? Remember, the arm of flesh (yours or anyone else’s) will surely fail you!

Our only firm foundation is Jesus Christ. He alone is the Cornerstone. Today and everyday let us ever be mindful of pride’s deceitfulness! As God’s redeemed people let us humble ourselves before the Lord today. Let us remember His warning, “Pride goes before destruction” and hear His Word that directs His people to, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up“.

Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm
He is Lord, Lord of all

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I choose to heed the words of Scripture that caution us not to be a proud people or destruction will fall upon anything that I have built in my own strength for my self-glory. I want my heart to be filled with godly gratitude instead of a prideful attitude so that it deflects that which is about me and reflects all that is about You. In the same spirit as John I cry out, “Help me to decrease so that You will increase in my life.” More of Jesus, less of me, I pray. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

 
“Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord”   Video  Maranatha Singers   For years we sang this song in rounds and memorized this powerful Scripture verse.
 
“Humble Yourself”  Video  Maranatha! Music

“Cornerstone” Video  Calvary Church Choir and Orchestra  This was recorded back in the day when groups of people gathered in buildings to worship the Lord! Seriously, this is the choir Brooksyne sings in so you might just see her! (Stephen) BTW, if you keep watching Pastor Beau has a very interesting opening illustration.
 

 
Beacon Hill, Intercourse, PA
Yesterday we were over on Beacon Hill near Intercourse, PA and from the top of the hill we saw this view. Beacon Hill is named for a navigational beacon that used to be on the hill in the early days of aviation. But I thought of a very different Beacon Hill in Boston we enjoy walking through.
(Click on photo to enlarge)
 
Amish hat store, Beacon Hill, Intercourse, PA
I visited an Amish hat maker and shop on Beacon Hill. A rite of passage in Amish culture is a little boy’s first hat and in this photo the father is fitting one on his two year old son.
 
Amish straw hat, Beacon Hill, Intercourse, PA
This is a special hat worn only by certain Amish men.
Can anyone tell me what makes it different than the majority of hats displayed here? Answer here.
 
Twin goats on the Old Windmill Farm
Brooksyne enjoys holding the growing goat twins on the Old Windmill Farm after she and the other children chase the little rascals down. These twins are now about four weeks old.
 
One day old turkey on the Old Windmill Farm
A day-old turkey!

“Dealing With Sanballat”

Lancaster Junction Trail Yesterday we went on an 8 mile bike ride beginning on the Lancaster Junction trail and then along back roads.

 

“Dealing With Sanballat”
 

Message summary: Today may the Lord reveal to us the value of our work and give us strength to resist the inevitable Sanballats that may come our way.

 
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
 
“Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, ‘Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono’. But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’” (Nehemiah 6:2,3).

Peculiar, MO signWherever you live there are rather unusual names of towns that you surely travel through or live in. I (Stephen) grew up near a small town called Peculiar, Missouri. Interestingly, the King James Version describes God’s people as “a peculiar people”.
 
When traveling between Tulsa OK, where Brooksyne was raised, and Kansas City we would pass through a small town called Nowata, Oklahoma. Like most towns with unusual names there is some dispute about the origins. The Lenape tribesmen who passed through named it “nuwita,” meaning “friendly” or “welcome’. In the Cherokee language, the town is called ᎠᎹᏗᎧᏂᎬᎬ (A-ma-di-ka-ni-gunh-gunh, roughly), which means, “water is all gone,” translating what it sounded like the word meant: No Water. For no good reason we always favored that explanation!
 
Here in our area of Pennsylvania we have some real doozies for town names, probably most famously a town here in Lancaster county named Intercourse.* But not too far away in Berks County to our north there is a town called Virginville.
 
But today we consider a small town in northern Lebanon County we periodically drive through in the course of our chaplaincy work named “Ono”. According to one tradition, the name Ono was selected after all other ideas were rejected by a town elder who said, “O! No”. Another interesting derivation is that the community was named after the biblical Plain of Ono in our daily text, likely drawing inspiration from the many fields surrounding the community.
 
Ono is mentioned several other times in the Bible. Later in the book of Nehemiah it is called “the valley of craftsmen” (Nehemiah 11:35). But today let us consider a lesson from a requested meeting in the plain of Ono in our daily text.
 
Nehemiah was one of the exiles who returned from Persia after the Exile. He traveled hundreds of miles to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. This was important work, as the wall was Jerusalem’s first line of defense. But Nehemiah’s restoration work did not go unopposed.
 
Nehemiah was being harassed as he was finishing the work on rebuilding the walls around the city following the Israelites’ return from their exile. A persistent harasser was a man named Sanballat, who did everything he could to thwart God’s work. In Nehemiah 6:2 he sought to derail the process by calling for a meeting but Nehemiah knew the intent was to bring harm. He sent messengers to Sanballat informing him, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”
 
Have you had someone like Sanballat in your life? You probably have. We sure have. I recall when starting Daily Encouragement as a new ministry in the mid-nineties a supervisor, actually my District Superintendent, making a very petty, belittling comment about my vision. However another DS was very encouraging at that time and in fact still receives our messages to this day nearly 25 years later! In life you will inevitably have people like Sanballet and people like Barnabas, whose name means “encourager”. (Acts 4:36)

These thoughts are adapted from a blog:

Sanballat’s goal is to seek to stifle our spiritual growth and vision. Sanballat wants to make it look like the job is impossible; in other words create doubt. And Sanballat wants to rally opposition against what you are trying to do. Just like he did to Nehemiah. Sanballat’s goal is to discourage you—to get you to quit what God has called you to do. The goal is to tear down—not build up—the wall God is calling you to build. Sanballat can take the form of discouragement, fatigue and fear. These are a few of the enemies of restoration and rebuilding.
 
This is a good time to remind ourselves who was rebuilding the wall. God was the Architect, and Nehemiah was the contractor. God was at work. It was His will to rebuild the wall and the gates around the city. Anyone in opposition to that goal was in opposition to God. Nehemiah was determined that no one but God would stop the work.

Nehemiah finished the wall. Nehemiah achieved this, not by removing the fear of attack and reprisal but by helping the people face their fears, turning them towards God who was their defender and shield. Like Nehemiah, we need to act with God, and for God, even though it means strenuous effort and opposition. We need to trust God, do our day’s work faithfully, and leave the future and the results to Him. (See below for credit)

 
Nehemiah’s response to Sanballat’s request for a meeting was, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” Today may the Lord reveal to us the value of our work and give us strength to resist the inevitable Sanballats that may come our way.

 
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are grateful for those who come alongside us when You have commissioned us to do a great work. Aaron and Hur were so vital to Abraham in Exodus as the Israelites battled against the Amalekites. They helped him to endure all the way to victory as they upheld his hands when he grew tired. But we also read in Scripture about those such as Sanballat who sought to discourage, discredit or destroy your servants as they were following Your will. May we not be defeated by those who seek to destroy. We want to be an encourager, intercessor, and helper to those seeking to do Your will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 

 

Coffee mug* Brooksyne’s note: I have a rather humorous memory regarding our charming little town of Intercourse. If you’ve lived here awhile you can refer to the geographical location without blushing and may not even think of its dual meaning. The town, which is in the heart of Amish country, has a tourist vibe and understandably a variety of items with the town’s name on it is for sale. Several years ago my sister, Elaine, was visiting from Texas and we were with our Amish friends, Anna Ruth and her daughters. Anna Ruth left our group and came back with a mug in her hand that she graciously gave Elaine, as she wanted her to remember her visit to Lancaster County. Elaine read the cup and was taken back and somewhat speechless, since she was unfamiliar with the names of the towns in Lancaster County. She received it with appreciation but also said, “Wait till somebody back home asks me where I bought this cup, and I’ll have to tell them an Amish friend bought it for me.” Of course, if you’re from the area you think nothing of this most unusual name for a town and in reality the original understanding of this word meant “intercommunication to and fro”. In early use it was used with reference to trade.


O'Yes hotel in Ono, PAI shared the message about Ono with a group of employees from Lebanon County earlier this week and one of them remembered that there was once a hotel called the O’Yes Hotel in Ono PA!
 
Amish craft stand, Landisville Road
Amish entrepreneurship as children make these crafts to sell in front of their farm.
 
Hello barn, Landisville Road
The “HELLO” barn on an Amish farm on Landisville Road provides a happy greeting as you pass by.
 
Hay wagon, Landisville Road
A wagon of hay brings back memories some 45 years ago when I put up hay for farmers in southern Missouri right after we got married.
 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

 
Finally today:

Choose your rideA thought-provoking approach by the Lancaster County DUI task force.

“Sermon On The Rocks”

Donegal Creek Canada Goose family 5/11/20

The Donegal Creek Canada Goose gosslings are getting bigger.
Looks like this may be a family gathering!
Click to enlarge

“Sermon On The Rocks”


Message summary: As you work or get back to work ask the Lord to reveal to you the dignity of your work and apply your work skills with a spirit of diligence.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does” (Ephesians 6:7,8). “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23,24).

Yesterday I was speaking to a business leader about the challenges of ramping up the work load at his company. As an “essential” business his company has been working throughout this pandemic. They project an increase in their work load the next several months and he has the duty of managing this.

In other cases people are slowly returning to work after a lengthy period of being off due to the coronavirus. Alarm clocks have been shut off, demands of our schedule have lessened significantly, contributing to a large population who have become rather lethargic. They will have to build up their stamina and even restoke their will to get back to work!

We question current government policies that may very well lessen the incentive to work and decrease personal responsibility. (Actually it already is. This morning I talked to an HVAC service tech friend who shared how many just don’t want to work now and can make more money not working.) Many of us feared this would happen, but after he shared of this reality my mind traveled to one of the first sermons my brother, Pat, preached back in his Bible College days.

He is now retired after serving various churches for some 40 years. Following high school he became a Christian while serving the military in Europe. Upon his discharge he immediately enrolled in Bible College to prepare for ministry where I caught up with him two years later at the same college. Coincidentally, today is Pat’s birthday!

RockpileHe had the GI bill which paid for his education but since he still wanted to work he chose to work on a college work crew. He recalls one of his first sermons, as the “Sermon on the Rocks”, I suppose a take-off of Christ’s slightly more famous, “Sermon on the Mount”. He was working on a rockpile and noticed several of the other workers slacking so he began to preach his message, exhorting them to be diligent in their work and thus the “sermon on the rocks”! That’s a message that needs repeating today!

The Scriptural teaching in our daily texts is a call to diligence in work. Many have a slovenly attitude toward their work, doing as little as they can. Today’s texts are teaching from the Apostle Paul to Christian slaves but this principle can easily be applied to all secular work and to the work of ministry. Consider the phrases, “Serve wholeheartedly” and “Work at it with all your heart”.

In our work responsibilities we should indeed serve wholeheartedly. Christians should be an example of diligence! As part of their testimony they should be among the most exemplary workers any company has. What kind of employee are you? I encourage you to consider the end use of the product you are making or service you are providing and the blessing it may be to many people.

We should apply these principles in our work ethic toward our employers. In whatever we do, our work should be “as to the Lord”. I like the pulpit study notes on this verse: “Every mean and hard task is dignified and sweetened by the thought of being done for Christ, and the commonest work must be done with the zeal and thoroughness that His service demands.”

As you work or get back to work ask the Lord to reveal to you the dignity of your work and apply your work skills with a spirit of diligence.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, when we’re tempted to be halfhearted in our vocational work or find ourselves bored by monotonous repetition help us to find creative means that will make us even more productive and content in our work assignments. May our conduct and attitude reflect values set forth in Scripture. Prompt us to be faithful in prayer for our employers, supervisors, co-workers, and the business in which we serve. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


 
This verse reminds us that we’re in service for the Lord rather than man, implying that our service is actually rendered to the One higher than “man”. If we murmur, cut corners, or display a bad attitude toward our co-workers and administration we cast a bad light on our testimony. On the other hand if we show diligence and joy in our work, kingdom principles are visible to others as they witness character building in our lives. Either attitude that we display will spread to those around us, making the workplace environment either miserable and unproductive or pleasant and productive.
 
Should you feel that you are not being rewarded adequately for your hard labor here on earth, remember that the underlying and overall motivation for our diligent labor is the future inheritance we will receive “from the Lord”. And what is that inheritance? It’s being promoted to heaven where there is no more sorrow, sin, or suffering. Promotions from our workplace pales in comparison to our future eternal home that can “never perish, spoil or fade”.

May the joy of the Lord accompany you in your work today. Be sure not to keep it to yourself; spread it to others around you!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

 
Stephen and Pat Weber 1980Stephen and Pat Weber
This photo was taken in the early eighties when men were getting permanents! Does anyone else remember that or were you a part of that crowd as well? I wouldn’t have gone to the beauty shop for this short-lived fad, but I had my live-in hairdresser do it for me. Of course I’m talking about my wife, Brooksyne, who was a licensed hairdresser at the time. This photo was taken at our sister’s wedding in 1980. I am holding my Nikolta SLR camera I used for many years. I would have been in my mid-twenties when this photo was taken. Pat is about 8 years older than me.
 
“I’ve Been Saved”  Video  Selah  What a tremendous blessing salvation is! Then the powerful keeping power of Christ.



Manure application 5/12/20
Part of the cycle of life in our agricultural area includes applying organic fertilizer on the recently harvested rye field across the road from our home. This large farm is using a modern method known as the drag line which uses a huge hose to transport the waste material from the farm to the spreader. In the next several weeks we will see the corn planted. But in the meantime we won’t take deep breaths outside for a couple days.

Manure application 5/12/20
Our neighbor Chris is also preparing to spread manure using a slightly older method!

Our house from back 5/12/20
Late yesterday afternoon I walked back to the field directly behind us to see the huge pump used to propel the manure through the hoses. Since it’s not our land I rarely walk across this field to view the back of our house. Our dogwood tree is transforming from pink to green but still shows a slight pink in this photo.