Berks County barn 1/7/18 (click to enlarge)
Red barn in Berks County, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“Cold, Fire, And Kindness”

Message summary: Today we encourage our readers to seek various ways to share kindness. Included as the fifth fruit of the Spirit, kindness is evidence of God’s work in our life. It’s a means of witness in which we can all participate.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself” (John 18:18). “The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all” (Acts 28:2).

We continue to have very cold temperatures in our region with a low overnight in the low teens. However the forecast for today is a warmup all the way to 30°! But presently (1:00 PM) it’s sleeting.

For sure, it’s pretty warm compared to conditions on Mount Washington in New Hampshire on Saturday where it plunged to a wind-chill of -90° according to the Mount Washington Observatory. That would be -36° with winds of 92 mph. Over 20 years ago we drove up to the top of Mount Washington in the summer and it was so cold and windy that Brooksyne was quick to say, “When are we leaving?”.

Coal stove interiorIn the bitter cold temperatures we especially appreciate the heat in our home. Since we have a coal stove I kindle a fire each fall and generally the same fire stays active all winter long since I’m adding coal each day. The exception is when we’re gone for several days or if we lose power for several hours (even though it’s a coal stove it takes electricity to keep the fire going)*. The photo shows the burn plate with the white hot coal burning. That small area is only about 6×4 inches but can put out some 85,000 BTU’s, burning anthracite coal. The stove is in our lower level family room and that’s where we like to nestle on a very cold winter day!

Today’s texts can be found in the familiar chapters of the Bible though we may not have given further consideration to some of the smaller details. The first one is the events surrounding Peter’s denial of the Lord when Jesus was arrested and tried. The text tells us it was cold and people were warming themselves by a fire. It’s a sad account of Peter’s fear overtaking his desire to stand by our Lord, but thankfully the account has a good ending and a reminder of our Lord’s willingness to forgive. Doug Gibble, a friend of ours, places this quote in his email sig line, “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

CampfireThe second text is after Paul’s ship had wrecked and the survivors landed on the remote island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Being cold is uncomfortable. Being wet is uncomfortable.  But being cold and wet will make one shiver in misery no matter how tight you wrap your arms around yourself.

The instructive detail in this account is the extraordinary kindness of the islanders who had greeted the ship’s survivors. They demonstrated their compassion by meeting a critical need these cold, wet shipwrecked survivors were experiencing. Seeing a need the islanders “kindled a fire and received us all”. What a blessing this must have been to Paul and his fellow survivors!

Today we encourage our readers to seek various ways to share kindness. Included as the fifth fruit of the Spirit, kindness is evidence of God’s work in our life. It’s a means of witness in which we can all participate.

Show a little bit of love and kindness,
Never go around with hatred’s blindness,
Take a little time to reach for joy, and wear a happy face!
Sing a little bit when the days are dreary!
Give a little help to a friend that’s weary!
That’s the way to make the world a happy place!

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, it is easy to express love and kindness when we’re responding to one who has expressed these virtues toward us. We’re awfully good at giving back that which we receive. But often the people who need it most are those who express little love and kindness. Their hearts are sometimes consumed with so much self-pity and resentment they have little room left for the works of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, and kindness. Help us to respond to a brother or sister in need or lay upon our hearts one who has exercised little kindness toward us. Help us to lay down our suffering related to their unkind ways, so that we can take up the love You offer us when we’re most unlovable and extend it to those who seem unloveable to us. We want to offer love and kindness to others as an extension of Your love and kindness toward us, for when we were dead in our trespasses and sins You made us alive in Christ. Help us to be people of grace as You have extended it to us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Teen Challenge prayer service 1/7/18
Yesterday morning we went to the Teen Challenge chapel service about 35 miles from our home where Stephen preached to the 50 to 60 men in attendance. Following his message and general prayer he invited those who desired special prayer to come forward. Many responded forming a line all the way across the auditorium as Stephen and I prayed for them one by one.  In this photo Stephen is praying with a resident while I am writing down Psalm 143:8 which I had just quoted to a young man, in hopes that he will put it to memory. Teen Challenge is a Christian rehabilitation program that focuses on spiritual wholeness and new life in Christ. David Wilkerson founded it in the 1950’s and initially focused on teens. The name stuck, but practically from the beginning it’s been for all ages. Yesterday we saw some who appeared to be as old as us. Especially heartening was seeing those in the thirty day detox program choosing to live for Christ and realizing that He is the answer to finding lasting freedom!

Conrad Weiser homestead 1/7/18
We drove into the grounds of the Conrad Weiser homestead.

Lebanon County barn 1/7/18 (click to enlarge)
Another red barn in Lebanon County.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Oliver tractor in Lebanon County barn 1/7/18
We drove down the long lane to see the old tractor peeking out of the barn.

Border Collie with sheep 1/7/18
As we got about 5 miles from home we passed the same sheep we showed in a photo last Wednesday. However this time the herding trainer was out with a border collie newly enlisted for the job. She said it was the collie’s first day herd. The other collie was in a pen at the top of the hill, barking fiercely, since he or she was surely anxious to do the herding. She looked pretty experienced to our untrained eyes. Since we have a border collie we’ve come to appreciate these animals skills.
Brooksyne took a video of the activity. (2 minutes, 20 seconds) Watch here.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Show A Little Bit of Love and Kindness”  Video  The Collingsworth Family

* Our coal stove requires electricity since it has an automatic feeder and blower.

Finally today:

Teen Challenge passing the hat 1/7/18
“Passing the hat” literally!
Yesterday the student chapel leader had forgotten to arrange beforehand for the offering baskets so Stephen volunteered his hat.

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“Giving Honor To God”

January 5, 2018

Hay in snow 1/4/18
Hay bales sprinkled in snow on Centerville Road in eastern Lancaster County.

“Giving Honor To God”

Message summary: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Am I honoring the God who holds in His hand my life and all my ways?

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from His temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways” (Daniel 5:23). “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).

Times Square ballMany ushered in another year by hosting or attending a New Year’s Eve party. Many “party” by standing out in the extreme cold at Times Square in New York City where they expected 1,000,000+ to watch the famous ball drop. Fireworks, festivities, and a lot of fizzle filled the night into the early morning hours.

I’m part of the 22 percent of Americans who fall asleep before midnight. We are not much into parties, and certainly not the carousing type parties, but today let us pull back the curtains and look in on a wild, carousing party that was held over 2,500 years ago.

Belshazzar was the final king of the Babylonian Empire. His reign ended with a unique and mysterious bang, you might say. Daniel 5 begins with a drunken party where the proud king is desecrating the holy things of God by bringing out the gold and silver goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem. He and his thousand nobles, wives and concubines were drinking wine as they exalted “the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.” They must have thought themselves clever as they foolishly mocked the God of the Universe.  But there comes a time when it seems God says, “Enough is enough”; something our generation would do well to consider and will most certainly one day experience.

"Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin"God sent a message to Belshazzar through the fingers of a human hand writing a short phrase on the wall. “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin”.

Since he didn’t initially understand the meaning of the words we can conclude it was the manner which the Lord communicated that greatly distressed and terrified the king. “His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.” I wish we had a video to see the king’s nobles hurriedly come to his rescue as he fell to the ground after his knees gave way (not a pretty sight for a reigning king who usually sat high on his royal throne looking down upon his inferior subjects.)

The king couldn’t interpret this mysterious phrase nor could his own “wise men”.  But wise and faithful Daniel was still around and finally he was called in after the king’s wife feared for he husband’s fear-stricken life. The party attendees had gleefully praised six different gods but found these gods to be powerless in helping the king solve the throbbing mystery.

As is often the case, when all else fails we call off the games and begin to seek Truth.  The queen eventually sent for “Daniel, whom the king found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems” (5:12). Daniel said he would explain the meaning but he had a message for Belshazzar first. And what a bold message it is for decadent, God-dishonoring leadership of all ages!

Daniel 5:23b He ends with the phrase in our daily text, “But you did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways.” Belshazzar had not honored God and the interpretation of the writing indicated that his time was up.  That very night he was slain.

Let’s consider Daniel’s stern rebuke to Belshazzar and apply it to our own life by rephrasing it into a personal question: “Am I honoring the God who holds in His hand my life and all my ways?”

Now that’s a thought provoking question and one that requires some soul searching. It’s an essential truth and reminder of our purpose here on earth. It will require that we think less about ourselves and more about the God whom we seek to honor. I want to ask myself when confronted with daily choices, “Does this honor God?” Honoring God is my heart’s desire and I trust that it is yours as well.

The second daily verse is a powerful expression of praise by the Apostle Paul, a benediction-like prayer found early in the epistle to Timothy as he concludes his testimony of God’s grace in his life, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we live in an age similar to Daniel’s where people mock and ridicule the one and only true God of the universe. So many worship music gods, technology gods, beauty gods, media gods, body building gods, intellectual gods, government gods and countless others. They render You powerless, but we who have exchanged a life enslaved to sin for a life that is forgiven and wholly saved know that they have not had a personal encounter with a holy God. Only You can turn beauty into ashes, our weapons into plowshares, our selfishness into selflessness. Only You can take a meaningless life and establish purpose in our hearts. Only You can replace the fear in our hearts with an eternal hope. Because of Your infinite love and care for us I want to honor You in all that I do, for I love You with all my heart.  Amen.


Today we are having a blast of cold arctic-like temperatures that has fallen upon our region. Farther east they are calling it a condition I had never heard of before, a “bomb cyclone”, which sounds rather ominous. I guess we are not technically getting a “bomb cyclone” but it’s very cold and windy and loud.

Late yesterday afternoon I managed to take our trash and recyclables out to the road (although the recycle bin blew over so I’ll have some cleanup when it warms up some.) The blasting winds felt like 30 below zero! Early this morning it was in the single digits w/o factoring in the wind chill. What a blessing to have good, working heat sources, a heat pump and coal stove which are both cranking out the heat. I have the coal stove up as much as it will go, cranking out some 85,000 BTU’s! However we also awoke to a frozen water pipe, which has altered our schedule for today! Usually we leave by 6:45 a.m. but I had to turn on space heaters attempting to thaw the pipe. Thankfully, after delaying our usual departure about three hours the line has finally thawed and it appears the pipe is working OK. If the line cracked we would have a flood when the line thaws! We experienced that about three winters ago when we had a mess and also a significant expense in repairing the damage. Thankfully at about 9:00AM the line thawed and evidence of leaks!

I often say, especially when encouraging people in the work force, “Life works because people work”. This is not in any way a disparagement of God but in His design He has ordained that humans work. We especially consider today those who mine the coal and work in the natural gas operations, those who transport, those who make parts that go into the equipment such as we saw yesterday at a company that makes precision machined parts that go into nuclear reactors. We consider the power company employees and how brutally cold the conditions are in which they work to repair the power lines. Then we consider some folks we will see today at JK Mechanical who install and service heating equipment!

We also consider the people who pick up our trash and recyclables!

Now that our pipes are working we will be getting out to make some chaplain visits so we can commiserate with those in the workplace!

It was cold and snowy yesterday but we were out for chaplain visitation and saw some interesting scenes in the white landscapes of eastern Lancaster County.

Amish farm in snow 1/4/18
This big Amish farm is north of Intercourse PA on Centerville Road.

Horse and buggy in snow 1/4/18
The horse and buggy traffic was out! Just like vehicles the wheels of this carriage were having difficulty getting traction from the snow covered road.

Mennonite girls ice skating 1/4/18
On Gristmill Road north of New Holland  Mennonite girls were skating on a frozen pond.

Mennonite girls ice skating 1/4/18
Look like fun? If is, if you’re young, have friends to play with, and a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows waiting for you in the house when the cold becomes more intense than the fun.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“This Is My Desire To Honor You”  Video

“Give Me Jesus”  Video  Ernie Haase & Signature Sound This song includes recently-discovered lyrics (over 100 years old) written by the late Fanny J. Crosby. Ernie, along with friends Joel Lindsey & Wayne Haun, finished what Ms. Crosby started by adding original music to complete the song.

“On the Other Side”  Video  Dailey & Vincent Dedicated to a friend of ours of over thirty years who recently passed away to the other side.

New Year’s Eve in numbers: Fun facts about the Times Square ball drop (Site where I got the statistics used in the first part of today’s message.)

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“He Is Able To Keep”

January 4, 2018

Chiques Bridge

Stone bridge over Little Chiques Creek south of Mount Joy.

“He Is Able To Keep”

Note: We dedicate today’s message to all whose lives are touched by Alzheimer’s Disease.

Message summary: Regardless of our age or memory diminishment here’s a great truth for all, “He is able to keep what I have committed to Him.”

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18). “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Roxie runningOur older dog Roxie will be 14 years old this year. We got her in early 2005 as a pup but the exact date of her birth was unclear since she was a “rescued” dog, though we were told she was born in October. She’s a very good pet, easy to care for and very loyal, especially to Brooksyne. She’s really slowing down in her old age and has a difficult time walking up and down the steps. She’s also demonstrating some signs of a pet ailment I was unaware of before talking to a friend of ours last year. (Note: Photo to the right is a much younger Roxie!)

She now has the symptoms of “Canine Dementia”.* Of most concern to us on these very cold days is that when we let her out to relieve herself she may wander off or forget what door we let her out of. Last night when I let her and Mollie out for a break it was frigid and after a few minutes I opened the door to let them in. Mollie was there but no Roxie. She’s also losing her hearing so my hollering was somewhat in vain. Turns out she had gone to another door (we have three) and she was expecting me there!

We, like many, enjoy our pets (two dogs and a cat), and seeing them age is hard. But of course this analogy seems rather lame compared to human aging. We especially consider those individuals dealing with symptoms of dementia. Several of my aunts reached this stage in their late eighties/early nineties. Brooksyne recalls the painful experience of her grandmother’s dementia that spanned four years before she went to heaven.

We’re also very mindful and when possible lend support to their caregivers, usually family members, who must learn to understand and deal with their loved one’s dementia behaviors from their memory loss, angry outbursts, and  non-logical physical manifestations of behavior. In nursing home settings we see this firsthand in the “memory care unit”.

In the first daily text the Psalmist petitions God, “And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me.” Since we have a more exhaustive record of Scripture than the Psalmist we can be further reassured with the words of God, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

It would be wonderful if we could grow old without all the unpleasant symptoms that accompany aging, such as sagging skin, memory loss, extreme pain and so much more.

I found great encouragement in a story I read or heard over the past week. (I already forgot the source, which indicates I’m among the aging!). A woman who had a great love for the Bible all of her life had memorized many Bible verses. As she grew older her memory diminished and she began to lose her recall of these precious verses that were endeared to her spirit and imprinted in her memory bank. However she maintained a grasp of one Scripture which was her favorite. It’s also our second daily text. In time she even lost her memory of this verse and could only quote short phrases. Eventually she could only recall this significant phrase, “He is able to keep what I have committed to Him.”

Regardless of age or memory diminishment that’s a great truth for all, “He is able to keep what I have committed to Him.”

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we’ve learned the importance of Scripture study and memorization because it is our spiritual life line, giving us guidance, encouragement, instruction, correction, and training in righteousness as we journey here below. It enables us to live a godly life while also preparing our hearts for eternity in heaven. Life is far from perfect in this imperfect world and there is much that we cannot fully understand or control. But we know that You are able to keep that which we commit to You until the day of our union with Christ, which supplies peace to our heart and assurance in our spirit. Though symptoms of aging can make one feel useless or insignificant You have work for us to do in every season of our life. The wisdom, experience, and unhurried soul of an aging saint can greatly benefit those whom they influence whether it’s a family member, roommate, health care worker or volunteer. For even when we are old and gray, O God, You do not forsake us, for we are still declaring Your strength to this generation and Your power to all who are to come. Amen.


Roxie and Dottie sharing basket
This photo was taken about ten years ago. As it gets colder outside our pets, Roxie (dog) and Dottie (cat), like to snuggle up in front of the coal stove.

Photo of Roxie in fox trap

Not a happy dog!
About ten years ago Roxie got caught in a fox trap. My neighbor, who had set the trap, came to our aid and released her. The poor girl limped all the way home but fully recovered. She’s also had run-ins with the electric fence!

Roxie leaping through the wheat field

When she was young Roxie enjoyed leaping through the wheat fields. It was really an amazing sight to see her jump through the field with practically vertical hops. When she’s not leaping (as in the photo where she’s about 18 inches off the ground) we could only spot the curly point of her tail. We shared a video of Roxie jumping through the wheat field which is the first video I ever placed on YouTube. (watch the 30 second video here)

Roxie getting her skunk bath

In this photo Brooksyne is bathing Roxie after she had a tussle with a skunk. Roxie doesn’t think she’s in need of a bath and Brooksyne is trying to explain, “You smell like a skunk and we don’t invite skunks into our home.”

Longwood Manor family Christmas photo
Years ago we had ministry at Longwood Manor, a local assisted living center where Roxie often joined us to provide “pet therapy”. This year she joined us for our holiday photo.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Know Whom I Have Believed”  Video  Congregational singing

“I Know Whom I Have Believed”  Video  Marshall Hall

“I Know Whom I Have Believed”  Video  Chuck Wagon Gang (Dedicated to Pastor John Keefer)

“She Still Remembers Jesus’ Name”  Video  Booth Brothers  A very touching song!

* Canine Dementia

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Mount Joy stone farmhouse 1/2/18
Stone farmhouse near Mount Joy, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“A Consideration Of Foundations”

Message summary: To build a godly life, let God be the architect and His Word the blueprint.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

Yesterday we passed the old stone farmhouse seen in our lead photo. Many older residential houses have the date of construction engraved on a stone inscription but, even after I enlarged the above photo, I saw no such information. It was surely built in the 1800’s and possibly late 1700’s so it’s old by North American standards (although it would be newer in Europe and certainly the Middle East!).

As we drove around the bend on Fairview Road the rural setting caught our attention as the sun was shining on the stone house surrounded by the blue sky and brilliant snow. We observed the sparse but attractive holiday decorations along with the burgundy trim, a nice blend with the aged stone work. Having worked with our Amish stonemason friend, Jesse, I could tell the stone had been cleaned and repointed in recent years.*

But when we looked at the home we didn’t give any consideration to the foundation; its strength, material, or depth! I didn’t think of it until after I posted the photo and  began to work on today’s message.

It can be that way in our own life as well or the way we view others. We tend to focus mostly on what we see. We may observe their apparent health, financial status, possessions, vibrant personality or other such notable traits. Examining others spiritually we may observe their church attendance, apparent grasp of Scripture, familiarity with Christian music, etc. But only upon closer examination can we see the foundation from which their faith is derived.

As we begin another year let us examine our own personal spiritual foundation. Certainly we will all, in various ways and degrees, face storms in 2018.  “The storms of life reveal the strength of our faith.” Or as one old seaman explained while giving good navigation training, “In fierce storms there is only one way to survive: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.”

Jesus, in His concluding illustration of the Sermon of the Mount spoke of two contrasting foundations; one built on the rock and the other built on sand. Is your foundation built on the rock which Jesus refers to as the wise man who “hears these words of mine and puts them into practice”.

A simple outline for today’s passage is:

Two…builders
Two…houses
Two…foundations
One…storm
Two…outcomes

Alan RedpathAlan Redpath, a British preacher who lived from 1907-1989 wrote, “We live in a broken world. In every direction there are breaches which are wide and deep. There are broken hearts and broken homes, and that which once was sacred is but a waste place. Whereas once there was a carefully guarded fence around the sanctity of family life, sex life, and the right to personal privacy, now there is just a waste place. The wall of protection is in ruins, and (for many) life has lost all its meaning.” He surely wrote this a generation ago, yet his words are far more greatly evidenced today than at the time of his writing!

One commentator notes, “Those who serve God with sincere hearts and actions also accomplish things for God’s kingdom. They rebuild and raise up, and are ‘called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell’. You can’t build anything for God’s Kingdom on the foundation of a superficial walk with God.”

May God grant us a firm resolve in this new year of 2018 to be the faithful remnant in our age who remain true to His ways, so that we witness a restoration of the age old foundations as prescribed in the Bible!

Be encouraged today and build upon on the foundation of Jesus Christ, the solid rock.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father in heaven, we ask You to help us to embrace the reason that we must apply Your teachings to our lives – so that our foundation will be unshakable and storm-proof when the howling winds and surging rains beat against us. The foundation of this world is temporal and growing more and more decadent, so we choose instead to build our lives on the eternal foundation of Your Holy Word, as You teach us all throughout Scripture. We will come to regret that which consumed our heart, our mind and our time in building temporal foundations, but we will never come to regret building a spiritual foundation comprised of Jesus Christ and His eternal worth. Keep us clear minded and focused so that we are aware of the difference in that which only satisfies us here and that which satisfies for all eternity. Amen.


Four Foundations That Will Stand!

1) The solid foundation of Biblical authority. “The grass withers, the flower fade.  But the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

2) The solid foundation of Jesus Christ.  “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10,11).

3) The solid foundation of the church. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21).

4) The solid foundation of the apostolic doctrine. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).  “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

Ruins from stone barn wall in Lancaster County PAAbout a mile and ½ from our home behind the Cameron Inn Estate is an old farm with this unusual sight. An old stone barn wall remains, standing for many years after the barn burned down or was otherwise demolished. (We first noticed these ruins shortly after we moved to our present home in 2002).

Our region was settled in the 1700’s so these barn ruins are nothing compared to the “ancient ruins” of the Middle East, yet the stone wall still brings to mind the daily verse which can be understood as the promise of rebuilding a torn-down Jerusalem.

However, in a spiritual analogy, it can also be understood as those who follow the Lord and keep His precepts. They will be the devout followers who rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age-old foundations of Biblical truth.

I believe this refers to getting back to the old, correct ways. Newer doesn’t always mean better. I am blessed by a verse in Jeremiah 6:16 that states, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it'”.


Paymaster's Building, Cornwall Iron Furnace, PA 1/2/18
Early yesterday morning we passed through Cornwall, PA and drove by the historic Cornwall Iron Furnace. This was the Paymaster building where the ironworkers and miners picked up their pay.

Amish team in snow, Harvest Road 1/2/18
“A farmer’s work is never done”
It was very cold yesterday but it appears an Amish famer was preparing for some work with his team yesterday afternoon on Harvest Road north of Mount Joy.

Sheep in snow, Grandview Road, Mount Joy 1/2/18
We enjoy seeing the sheep out in the snow. We took this photo yesterday afternoon north of Mount Joy on Grandview Road.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“How Firm a Foundation”  Video  Congregational singing

* Repointing

Finally today:

Mollie on her seventh birthday 1/3/17Happy Birthday Mollie!  Today our youngest canine turns 7 years old. Mollie is Ester’s dog though we all do plenty to care for her from day to day! She’s a smart border collie/lab mix and challenges us pretty regularly, but she is so playful and eager to see us upon awakening each day that annoyances diminish in comparison to the fun she brings to our family. Her greatest passion: frisbee! She has been playing out in the snow and regardless of how far the frisbee is thrown she will dash through the snow and will normally catch it in the air and return for another throw. She seems to have learned that she does not want to have to dig the frisbee out of the snow!

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“Firm And Secure”

January 2, 2018

Sunset over Lancaster County 1/1/18
Sunset from our front porch on January 1, 2018.
We’ve had bitterly cold temps with the low of -5° yesterday AM!

“Firm And Secure”

Message summary: In 2018 let us rest in our hope in Christ “as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure”.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

“And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years” (Genesis 1:14). “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

2018 fireworks There are many customs all over the world to mark the important turn of the calendar page from one year to the next. However it seems most of them involve fireworks. Throughout the evening on New Year’s Eve we watched as they showed the massive celebrations in various cities all around the globe. It especially surprised me that even in the brutal dictatorship of North Korea they celebrated in the capital city of Pyongyang.

There’s a time for celebration (see Luke 15:22-24) and New Year’s Eve we joined many in celebration thanking God for His hand in our lives. But the transition of one year to the next is also a good time for reflection upon the faithfulness of God to us personally and in the cosmic realm as we embark upon another year of seeking to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

We desire that this first message of 2018 brings rich assurance that can be applied immediately and also placed in reserve for the inevitable challenges ahead. We also want to encourage our readers by examining an aspect of God’s incredible steadfastness and faithfulness so fitting to ponder today.

From the very beginning of creation God ordained the year as a time unit. Along with days and seasons these are the three time units ordained at creation. All three are related to the creative work of God on the fourth day. Interestingly the first reference to the month as a unit of time happened at the time of the flood (Genesis 7:11).

The annual unit represents the precise time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun a single time. This, along with its rotation marking days and its movement on its axis, which marks seasons has been absolutely fixed since the fourth day of Creation. What an incredible statement to express God’s faithfulness! Indeed the hymn writer summed it up,

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

As the new year of 2018 begins each of us deal with vacillating circumstances. This should remind us of our fundamental need to place our trust in God who is the “Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

He who has fixed the “sun, moon and stars in their courses above” loves and cares deeply for us today. All may change, but Jesus never, glory to His Name! Rest in this promise: “But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:17). In 2018 let us rest in this assurance of an unchangeable God and have “hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure”.

Hallelujah
You have overcome
You have overcome
Hallelujah
Jesus, You have overcome the world

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Yesterday, today, and forever You are the faithful, changeless One, Father. Your works in the past are testimony to Your majesty, power, and provision for our lives today. Your presence today steadies our walk as You lead us in the paths of righteousness while we forge ahead in 2018. Your future blessings are waiting to be unfolded in our lives as we faithfully yield to You our heart, our soul, and our mind. We look to You for everything we need for life and godliness in this present age as we await Your soon return. Come, Lord Jesus, come!  Amen.

In keeping with the two messages we ended with in 2017 let us consider three more truths concerning the hope we have in Christ:

1) Our hope in Christ is a fixed hope. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2,3).

2) Our hope in Christ is an overflowing hope. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

3) Our hope in Christ is a living hope. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).


2018 New Year's meal with Ncubes 1/1/18
Our neighbors Notsen, Tho, Nathan and Neville Ncube joined us for our New Year’s meal yesterday. A good southern meal of cornbread and beans, rather than the usual pork and sauerkraut most common here due to the German influence. If Brooksyne had just prepared cornbread the boys would be happy as it is a favorite food item when they eat with us!

New Year's moon 12/31/17 (Photo by Ester)
Ester took a photo of the moon New Year’s Eve and made it the “0” in 2018.
We thought it pretty clever.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Victor’s Crown”  Video  This is one of our favorite songs that the choir sings at Calvary Church, a choir Brooksyne joined this past September.

“Be Enthroned”  Video  Shane & Shane Another worship song we’ve come to appreciate in recent months.

Finally today:

Jack Brown, a reader from Michigan, sent us an interesting study he had done on God’s promises that we feel will bless our readers as they face 2018.

God’s Promises For The New Year
  • He will be with us. (Genesis 3:12)
  • He will never leave us nor ever forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • He will equip us with everything good for doing His will and work in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 13:21)
  • He will provide fresh mercy and grace every day for each day’s need. (Lamentations 3:22)
  • He will accept our worship as we treat those in need with benevolence and live lives dedicated to integrity and purity. (James 1:27)
  • He will be reliable and trustworthy. (James 1:17)
  • He will give us wisdom generously when we ask Him for it consistently. (James 1:5-6)
  • He will grant us grace and lift us up when we choose to live humbly. (James 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 5:6)
  • He will give us new beginnings in Christ. (1 Peter 1:3)
  • He will restore, strengthen and steady us. (1 Peter 5:10)
  • He will care for us if we will give our cares to Him.. (1 Peter 1:7)
  • He will forgive all our sins if we will acknowledge them, turn from them and dedicate ourselves to stay away from them. (1 John 1:9)
  • He will produce the character of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in us by His Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • He will love us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • He will bless us, forgive all our sins, heal all our diseases, redeem our lives from destruction, crown our lives with love and compassion and satisfy the needs of our lives. (Psalm 103:2-3)
  • He will give us courage, strength and grace to redemptively deal with all we face. (Philippians 4:13; Psalm 31:2)
  • He will grant us success as we take in and live out His Word. (Joshua 1:8)
  • He will be our light, protection and salvation. (Psalm 27:1-2)
  • He will hear and respond to our prayers. (Psalm 17:6)
  • He will transform us by continually renewing our minds so we can think and live in His ways. (Romans 12:1 and following)
  • He will bring further along to completion what He has begun in us. (Philippians 1:6)
  • He will keep working into us His will and purpose so that we will do and want to do His will and purposes. (Philippians 2:13)

“Anchor For The Soul”

December 29, 2017

Donate to Daily Encouragement NetPlease see below for our 2017 year-end financial appeal.
Anchor in Plimouth Harbor
Anchor in Plimouth Harbor, Massachusetts
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“Anchor For The Soul”

Message summary: Faith in Christ will keep us steady in the stormy sea of change!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

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

Today in this final Daily Encouragement message for 2017 we continue with the second of a three-part series based on the daily verse. It has long been a favorite Scripture verse for many, us included, and for 2018 we are making it our personal annual theme verse. Our brief consideration of this verse will span the ending of 2017 and beginning of 2018.

Yesterday we considered the words, “We have this hope”. As we move through the annual transition of one year to the next what a tremendous blessing to be able to say, “We have this hope!”

Hebrews 6:19 plaqueThe writer of Hebrews goes on to illustrate this hope with the words, “as an anchor for the soul.”

“Anchor” translates the Greek word ankur (ἄγκυρ). So this is a case when the word sounds the same in English as it would have in the Greek. It is used several times to denote a literal anchor during Paul’s shipwreck experience in Acts 27 but this is the only place in Scripture that “anchor” is used figuratively. Yet the anchor theme is popular among devotional writers and songwriters probably because it’s such an easily understood illustration and visual as well.

In the Greek secular world during the New Testament age anchors symbolized hope. In the text it is used as a vivid picture of that which supports and keeps one steadfast in the midst of waves of doubt or stormy trials. If you fear, if you doubt, place all your trust in Christ: the Anchor who holds the past, present and future. The anchor was an ancient Christian symbol for safety, security, and hope. (Joseph Thayer)

Adding to yesterday’s list let us consider four more blessings (though there are many more) concerning our hope in Christ:

1) Our hope in Christ is a secure hope.  Many things on earth claim to be secure. Politicians promise us security, financial gurus claim to provide financial security, we strive for job security, companies advertise products for home security, and here in the US we have a government program called Social Security and the list of promises of security goes on and on. But you know what? None of them are really secure (as many testify of their experiences that proved otherwise)! Only in Christ do we have the hope of real, lasting security. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).

2) Our hope in Christ is a sufficient hope. When we write these messages it’s heartening to share truths that are not limited to a specific region, race, language, economic status, education or the scores of other things that differentiate us. If you are reading this our hope in Christ is sufficient for all that concerns us. He is “The hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas” (Psalm 65:5).

3) Our hope in Christ is a fulfilling hope. Consider disappointments you’ve experienced this past year. We’ve all had them. Some may come to mind as you read this. But be blessed by these two verses! “I am the LORD; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23). “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:5). (Note: It’s a challenge to find a satisfying antonym for disappoint but we chose fulfill!)

4) Our hope in Christ is a comforting hope. We’ve all experienced disappointments and many have experienced significant losses, including that of a loved one or perhaps a spouse due to a break-up. Such a loss can often lead to deep grief and distress. Receive great comfort from this verse, “O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress” (Jeremiah 14:8). God’s delight is to administer comfort to wounded souls. The Irish poet Thomas Moore wrote it this way in his hymn, “Come Ye Disconsolate”, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal”.

Hope, Hope, Hope for all nations.
Hope, hope for every need.
Hope, hope for the life that’s been broken.
He’s always been, forever He’ll be.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, there are experiences in our life’s journey that crush our spirit and wound our souls. There are times when it seems there’s no hope for a situation we’re called to endure, but we believe You are the Healer and the Comforter who gives us all-sufficient hope to believe even when matters seem impossible. The Psalmist reassures us with the consoling words, “He heals the broken-hearted and they cry no more.” Our hope in You brings great encouragement for the days and years ahead because it is timeless, secure, sufficient, fulfilling and comforting for anything we have experienced over this past year and for that which we’ll face in the coming year of 2018. Keep us steady, holding to the Anchor of our soul, which is Jesus, the solid Rock. Amen.

Chocolate gravy and biscuits
Brooksyne’s Note: I’ve been on a sentimental journey with my siblings via telephone and email as they live far away. My mom was the best cook and we’ve talked about some of our favorites including the peanut brittle she made every Christmas (I made several batches this year using pecans which I prefer over peanuts). The day after Christmas I decided to make some gravy and biscuits. That’s no big deal for most from the south since it was included in our breakfast meals often. But once in a while Mom would treat us to Chocolate Gravy, which my four siblings and I loved! That stopped after I got married since Stephen doesn’t think chocolate and gravy should be used in the same sentence, forget mixing the two in a skillet. I was recently skimming a Paula Deen recipe book and came across it and simply had to make it along with angel biscuits. If you want to try something different that your children will love and you as well (if your mind is open), here’s the recipe:

“It’s no secret that we Southerners love gravy with our biscuits. Here’s one we can’t live without” – Paula Deen:

CHOCOLATE GRAVY (enough for 6 to 8 servings, depending)
2/3 C. sugar
1/2 C. sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter
2 C. whole milk (I used skim which was fine)

1. In small bowl whisk together sugar, coco, flour, and salt.
2. In large skillet, heat the butter over low heat. When butter is melted whisk in the sugar mixture. Whisk till dry ingredients are incorporated.
3. Slowly pour milk into skillet, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Stir till gravy is thickened and pour over angel biscuits (or you can dip your biscuits).

It is oh, so good!! Any biscuit recipe will do but if you want a biscuit that also tastes a little like a roll try this recipe. You can store your leftover biscuit dough in the fridge for a week and roll out as needed.


Donate to Daily Encouragement NetSpecial Year-end Financial Appeal: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Like many ministries, we typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful.

Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

If you would consider making a donation to our ministry see here for more information.

To donate directly online here. This will open to a page that designates the offering to: WEBER,STEPHEN CHAP, Specialized Chaplaincy Ministry ID: 700001-237376

Make A DonationPlease Note: We also provide this familiar option due to the convenience, for international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official tax deductible receipt. Click here to send an offering using PayPal. This will open to a page that states “Brooksyne Weber”

Thank you

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Hope For All Nations”  Video  Karen Peck & New River

“We Have An Anchor”  Video  Robin Marks

“I Have An Anchor”  Video  Gold City

“We Have This Hope”

December 28, 2017

Donate to Daily Encouragement NetPlease see below for our 2017 year-end financial appeal.
Hebrews 6:19

“We Have This Hope”

Message summary: Hope is one of the greatest of God’s blessings. God’s relationship with us always involves faith, and active faith in Him will always lead to hope. What richness we find in the daily Scripture portion, “We have this hope”.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

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

Today we begin a three-part series based on the daily verse. It has long been a favorite Scripture verse for many but for 2018 we want to make it our personal theme verse. So our brief consideration of this verse will span the ending of 2017 and usher in the new year of 2018.

I first considered the concept of a personal annual verse shortly after moving to Lancaster County. We recall when Earl Martin, an elderly preacher, stood up in church in early January 2003 and shared his theme verse for the coming year, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” from Nehemiah 8:9. That’s a great spiritual perspective to have in one’s youth or senior years, as was the case for Earl.

That summer Earl went to be with the Lord and this verse was a backdrop for the theme of his funeral which, in addition to the inspiration of the written Holy Word, added special personal meaning.

Today let us consider just the four words the text begins with, “We have this hope”. For those who may feel they have trouble memorizing we encourage you to just begin with these four words. Throughout the night I mulled this phrase over and over in my mind. It’s packed with present factual assurance rather than the usual sense of the word as an optimistic possible outcome (if you understand what I mean).

Let us reflect on three blessings concerning our hope in Christ (though there are many more):

1) Our hope in Christ is a saving hope. “We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). This is expressed in the great hymn classic, “The Solid Rock”:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

2) Our hope in Christ is a constant hope. The Psalmist wrote, “My hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:5). Our spiritual hope in Christ doesn’t diminish or fluctuate due to the vagaries of life. “Where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy” (Psalm 65:8). This verse is the basis of a Paul Baloche song many of us have sung titled “Your Name”.

3) Our hope in Christ is a strength-renewing hope. “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). This is the great passage that speaks of mounting up with wings like eagles. The struggles and disappointments of life can be wearying and drain us of hope. If we go forth in our own strength we will soon exhaust our source of joyful hope and fail miserably. But when our hearts, filled with hope, are mounted in heaven we will be carried above the difficulties, and be stronger in our faith and in our firm resolve to remain faithful.

Indeed hope is one of the greatest of God’s blessings. God’s relationship with us always involves faith, and active faith in Him will always lead to hope. When our faith in God is weak, inactive or non-existent we will either have no hope or misplaced hope. Yet what richness firm assurance we find in the daily Scripture portion, “We have this hope”.

Surely some of you today are facing very trying circumstances as this year ends. As we prepare this message we consider those in our own sphere of influence and pray for them. The ending of a year does not wipe out the challenges, trials, and losses experienced over the past 365 days. Some of those circumstances will carry over into the New Year, so we must cling tightly to the hope we have in Christ for that which we’ve already dealt with and for that which is yet to come in the coming year.

Today we encourage you to focus on the hope we have in Christ as we conclude our devotional with this thought-provoking saying: “Man’s way leads to a hopeless end, but God’s way leads to an endless hope.” Amen!!!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, our hope is steadfast and sure as we trust in You for everything we have need of, most importantly, our salvation through Christ. We are grateful for Your divine presence and daily provision as we meet the challenges of each new day and each new year. Our hope does not dwindle due to these challenges, for we depend not on our own strength, wisdom, or standing with man. Instead we depend on the One who provides us with hope that is ever secure, constant, and strengthening. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.


Some further thoughts on today’s text:

1) “We”: The writer of Hebrews seems to include his readers in the promises and challenges he issues such as the “let us” expressions found throughout the book. This is so meaningful and does not come across preachy but rather “I am in this with you”; “We are in this together”. I tried to preach this way in my pastoral role and now since Brooksyne and I share in writing these messages together you will notice that we continually use “we”! Now that not only means just the two of us, but in most instances it includes you as well.

2) “Have”: Not “had” (past tense) or “will have” (future tense) but “have” (present tense)!

3) “This hope”: goes back to a phrase in the previous verse which states, “we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged”. Thank God for the hope that is set before us!

We encourage our readers to consider having a personal theme verse for 2018!


Donate to Daily Encouragement NetSpecial Year-end Financial Appeal: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Like many ministries, we typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful.

Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

If you would consider making a donation to our ministry see here for more information.

To donate directly online here. This will open to a page that designates the offering to: WEBER,STEPHEN CHAP, Specialized Chaplaincy Ministry ID: 700001-237376

Make A DonationPlease Note: We also provide this familiar option due to the convenience, for international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official tax deductible receipt. Click here to send an offering using PayPal. This will open to a page that states “Brooksyne Weber”

Thank you

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“My Hope Is Built”  Video  Norton Hall Band

“Your Name”  Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean

“Even If”  Video  MercyMe

“Oh My Soul”  Video  Casting Crowns

“Fall On My Knees”  Video  The Browders

“Open Hands”  Video  Laura Story

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