New Holland farm in Lancaster County, PA 11/29/18 (Click to enlarge)Yesterday morning we passed this large farm near New Holland PA.
Click on photo to enlarge
“Defying Caesar, Declaring Christ”
Message summary: Whenever necessary may we boldly defy the decrees of Caesar and always faithfully declare Jesus Christ to be our Redeemer.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). “They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus” (Acts 17:7).

Today genuine believers all around the world are in various ways and to some extent defying Caesar (who represents the world system) and declaring another king, one called Jesus. I hope that includes you. But I especially want to consider those who are paying a heavy price for it. Today some will suffer for that stand, others will be imprisoned, tortured and yes, some will die.

The first daily text sets a pattern for the church regarding our primary allegiance. The early disciples had heard Jesus proclaim the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20).

It wasn’t long into the church’s history that this command was put to the test. The authorities charged the disciples, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name” (Acts 5:28). Their response sets a pattern for obedience for all devoted believers, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29).

The second daily text is a summary of the charges against the young believers in Thessalonica after the church was established in their city. Paul and his associates, Silas and Timothy, had faithfully declared the Word of God, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead and that this Jesus is the Christ (v. 3). Although some believed, others opposed them. This led to persecution and Paul’s expulsion. But the little church survived and the New Testament has two letters written to these believers; 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

“Caesar’s decrees” in today’s text were initially specific decrees made by the Roman emperor, but I feel they represent all of man’s decrees that mandate disobedience to Christ. Defying Caesar’s decrees wherever and whenever they violate God’s decrees remains the call to the faithful church.

The early disciples’ courageous and unambiguous declaration must remain the declaration of earnest Christians throughout all ages, “There is another king, one called Jesus”. The Greek word used for “another” is interesting. The word “heteros” means “another of a different kind.”

Indeed, Jesus said, “I am not of this world”. And He says of His followers, “They are not of the world”. Paul reminded the Philippians and therefore we are reminded today that “Our citizenship is in heaven” (3:20).

The Gospel message is hindered and restricted in many lands and here in America there is an increase in opposition to those who boldly declare Jesus and the teachings of Scripture. In doing so the “decrees of Caesar” may very well be defied, for in many ways taking a stand for Christ defies the decrees of the modern Caesar. This is especially true concerning a number of “hot button” issues such as the Bible’s teaching concerning our origins, sexual morality, abortion and the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Today let us, with renewed resolve, praise and live daily for this King Jesus. Whenever necessary may we boldly defy the decrees of Caesar and always faithfully declare Jesus Christ to be our Redeemer. If you have not already acknowledged that Jesus is King do so today. If you, like me, are a servant of King Jesus, let us serve Him faithfully and when necessary let us be willing to defy Caesar’s decrees to avoid compromising God’s truth.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

 

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You’ve called us to be light in a world full of darkness. You’ve also called us to be peacemakers in as much as it is possible. Sometimes when we take a stand for righteousness it does not bring peaceful resolution, but instead further conflict arises. Then we go through a surge of emotions and doubts begin to arise regarding our stand. Would You help us to be diligent in our study, prayerful about our stand, and immersed in Your Holy Word. Lord, as we take a position against the evil tide of our land help us to be unapologetic in our stand and very consistent in our Christian walk. May we, by example and word, say to the fallen world that we serve not the god of this age, but we serve a King who is ageless and eternal. We lift up our persecuted brothers and sisters and their families who are paying a heavy price for their stand both physically and emotionally. May their spirits be strengthened as they continue to lift up their soul to You for infilling from Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

 


 

Brooksyne with Val-Co women 11/29/18Brooksyne visiting with some of the employees at Val-Co yesterday. Four countries represented here: U.S., Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Africa.
Amish wedding parking in Lancaster County, PA 11/29/18 (Click to enlarge)
We passed this scene of buggies parked for an Amish wedding yesterday near Paradise PA. The horses are in the large tent.
Click on photo to enlarge

Barn raising in Lebanon County, 11/29/18

Our neighbor sent us this photo of a barn-raising taking place in Lebanon County yesterday (Thursday). It’s actually a chicken-house raising. Their daughter and her husband just lost their chicken house to a fire and the community came together within weeks to rebuild. Thankfully, there were no chickens present when the fire broke out.

 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“What A Beautiful Name”  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Finally today:

Sheep in Lebanon County 11/27/18 (Click to enlarge)Wednesday we shared this photo of a meadow in northern Lebanon County and identified the animals as what we thought were an interesting type of brown-faced sheep. Yesterday Stephen Linde, a young agricultural engineer from the Penn State University, kindly informed us that these were likely actually goats, a variety grown for meat known as Boer goats.
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Ohio Amish windmill (Doris High)Our friend Doris High took this photo on an Amish farm in Ohio.
 
“Choosing The Way Of Truth”
 
Message summary: May God give each of us a daily resolve to choose the “way of truth” and walk in it.

Listen to our message on your audio player.
“I have chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:30). “Stop lying to each other; tell the truth” (Ephesians 4:25).

I got a call from a telemarketer the other day which is not unusual. Although I am supposed to be on a “Do Not Call” list for these types of sales pitches we still get them often and they’re typically loaded with deception.

 
This call had a very real human sounding voice that I still detected was fake so I rudely interrupted and asked, “Is this a live human voice?” A very slight pause and the voice answered, “Yes, I am a live, state of the art computer generated human voice”, whatever that means!
 
Whether it be politics, entertainment, tech, marketing, even from those who claim to be Christians frankly, I increasingly assume I am probably being lied to and must always stay on my guard.
 
Keysmart holderI saw an ad for a special smart key organizer and holder that supposedly organizes your keys that claims on average we spend 6 minutes looking for our keys each morning. 1) Putting “smart” on any product seems to be a common and presently effective marketing tactic! But then, who wants to have a dumb phone? 2) What would keep me from misplacing this special key holder any more than the old fashioned key ring that I now use? 3) How in the world do they determine that on average we spend 6 minutes looking for our keys in the morning? Some people must spend hours daily to make this an average!

Dictionary.com’s word of the year is “misinformation” which in many ways is just a polite way of saying lying. Another newer word that relates to this is “post-truth” which is when facts are viewed as irrelevant, or less important than personal beliefs and opinions. That sure describes the spirit of this age!

The breakdown of truthfulness is an epidemic at all levels of society. Truthfulness is foundational to order in society. Saint Augustine said, “When regard for truth has been broken down or even slightly weakened, all things will remain doubtful.”

The breakdown in truthfulness is rampant in the family, community, court systems, and nations. It’s certainly true in the business world and sadder yet it can and does exist among professing Christians and the Church.

The foundational importance of truthfulness is stated in the ninth commandment, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” The simple Proverb says, “The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please Him” (20:23).

In the daily text as the Psalmist declares, “I have chosen the way of truth”. That’s sure a statement that we do well to make and apply to our lives. The sense of the Hebrew word for “way” is “a course of life or mode of action.”

Based upon the Scriptures I see two ways of understanding this verse:

1) The sense of being truthful in all our ways. Paul instructed the Ephesian believers, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25). “Do not lie to one another”(Colossians 3:9).
 
2) Following the teaching of Christ there is also the sense of following the way of truth. Christ stated, “I am the way, the truth, the life” (John 14:6). The “way of truth” was used by Peter to describe this (2 Peter 2:2).
 
May God give each of us a daily resolve to choose and walk in the “way of truth.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I choose the way of truth, for it is also the way of light, for Jesus Himself said, “I am the Light.” Darkness lurks where deception and falsehood exists and becomes the breeding ground for all sorts of evil. Father, I ask You to shine Your searchlight on the contents and attitudes of my heart. Since I can be self-deceived if I am careless reveal to me the motive for my actions. Help me to purge all that dishonors Your name. I invite Your light to dispel the darkness that would otherwise seep into my soul. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Statement of Faith”  Video   Legacy Five
Dictionary.com’s word of the year is misinformation
 
This article really sums up the massive confusion and deception we are entering into in this age of post-truth, what the author calls “Zeitgeist” which means the spirit of the age.
Sheep in Lebanon County 11/27/18 (Click to enlarge)Yesterday we passed this multi-level pasture land with an interesting type of brown-faced sheep in northern Lebanon County.
Click on photo to enlarge
 
“That Great Shepherd Of The Sheep”
 
Message summary: Mankind remains “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Today let us ever keep this great need before us and ever proclaim, “our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep”!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20).

 
Yesterday morning we passed a sheep farm in northern Lebanon County. We enjoy seeing the sheep peacefully grazing in the pasture, not a care in the world (at least we assume!).

Sheep are the most mentioned animal in the Bible, some 400 times (including lambs). Agriculturally they are best known as a very needy animal for their dependency on humans in protecting and caring for them. Not surprisingly the most famous Psalm (the 23rd) and numerous teachings of Jesus allude to sheep.

As a human race we face many great needs. Some are very real, while others may be a misuse of the word “need”. In the affluent lifestyle we have become accustomed to here in the West we often hear the word “need” to describe that which might be laughable or unimaginable by those who live in many other parts of the world. For instance we may hear someone say, “I really need a new TV” even though this is hardly something we can’t live without. (In many cases we may merely want to replace a TV that works perfectly fine with a newer, usually larger model.)

Today there are many needs being heavily promoted as “The greatest need facing the human race.” Included in the top ten “greatest needs” are such causes as healthcare, the environment, the role of government, etc.

In the Scriptures there are certain needs common to all humanity such as food and clothing. (1 Timothy 6:8). We also genuinely need love, security, peace, freedom, relationships with others and so forth. Our supreme need is to be in right standing in our relationship with God. We are great sinners, God is a great Savior!

In our first daily text, Jesus models to all who look on that He was motivated by compassion; “When He saw the crowds He had compassion on them”. Our ultimate motivation in helping others should be compassion driven as well. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.)

Jesus also expresses the very heart of what is the ultimate human need when He described the crowd; “They were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. People continue to be “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” which is a result of spiritual separation from God.

“Like most humans who ever lived, the mass of people in Jesus’ time were harassed, abused, exploited or ignored by their “shepherds,” their superiors. Jesus saw the common people not as “losers” to be ignored or snubbed, but as a rich spiritual harvest, and He chose to enlist others in the great work of harvesting. The kind of shepherd Jesus had in mind was not a leader so much as a caregiver.” – J. Stephen Lang

We are incessantly harassed by the enemy and are helpless apart from our spiritual need being foundationally met through a relationship with Christ who calls people to repent, believe, obey and follow Him.

Throughout the Book of Acts and the teaching of the Epistles we see the early Church seeking to fulfill this Ultimate Mission of making “disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19,20).

We recall a statement from our Bible School days that we still very much believe: “Christ started the church the way He wanted it and He wants the Church the way He started it.” Throughout history the enemy has so often tried to get the church off track but our mission must remain primarily meeting the ultimate human need which is spiritual in nature. Mankind remains “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Today let us ever keep this great need before us and ever proclaim, “our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep”!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we have freely received Your gift of forgiveness and salvation. Because of this we are motivated by compassion for the lost as we recognize their ultimate human need is to have a spiritual relationship with You. We want to be a part of the ultimate mission in reaching them with the gospel message so that they might have forgiveness of sins and inherit eternal life in heaven. Keep us ever mindful of our mission and obedient to Your leading. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.



Harassed and Helpless:  The most vivid example we’ve witnessed of individuals being harassed and helpless took place some 30 years ago though we can still see it in our mind’s eye today.  Brooksyne and I were visiting the orphanage where Ester was born in the Rio Dulce area in Guatemala. With no warning there was a sudden heavy downpour of rain accompanied by flashes of lightning and loud thunder. About 30 to 40 children, many under six years of age, began to cry and run to a dry place but others just dropped to the ground in a fetal position with their arms folded over their heads. One little girl about 4 years old ran to the swing set and began to swing with her body drooped over the swing so that her head faced the ground as she attempted to keep her face out of the heavy splattering rain.

The government sponsored orphanage lacked sufficient volunteers and workers for the children, so for the most part, they seemed to be on their own in the midst of a great storm.  Brooksyne and I tried to gather them out of the rain but there were only two of us and we didn’t speak Spanish though the children surely understood our good intentions. They were truly like sheep without a shepherd, harassed by the tropical storm and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, at a time when children would normally have mothers and fathers gather them close and get them to shelter for safety and reassurance.



Lebanon County flooding 11/27/18We continue to have a lot of rain in our region and passed this field yesterday that had flooded over the road south of Lebanon, PA.

Weber's Thanksgiving table 2018
Thanksgiving Celebration:  Our table was pre-set for guests arriving last Friday afternoon. We celebrated with Jim & Dorothy Schmidt along with Jesse and Anna Lapp and their family. Both the Schmidts and Lapps are just like family to us and when we join together we have four generations present. Once the seven Lapp children gathered around the table along with the seven adults it was overflowing, so three children happily sat at our counter bar in the kitchen. We had a wonderful time of feasting and fellowship that lasted well into the late evening.
 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us”  Video   Marty Nystrom

“The Shepherd Knows Your Name”  Video  Foto Sisters

“Come Ye Sinners”  Video   Norton Hall Band

Song Select has 567 songs with a shepherd theme!

“A Warning For All”

November 26, 2018

Elizabeth Farms Christmas trees, Lancaster County, PA (photo by Mike Martin)
Our friend Mike Martin shared this photo he took at Elizabeth Farms here in Lancaster County.
 
A Warning For All”
 
Message summary: Greed can impact us all regardless of how wealthy or poor we consider ourselves to be.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

There’s been a lot of shopping the last several days and will be until Christmas. But then there will also be “the after Christmas sales” (Brooksyne’s favorite shopping time). Last week we had Black Friday, Saturday was Small Business Saturday and today is Cyber Monday, a marketing term used since the early days of internet-based shopping to connote the special deals available to online shopping the Monday following Thanksgiving.

 
Greed t-shirtThese three days mark the “official” start of the Christmas shopping season, at least here in the USA, although “Black Friday” deals have been posted all month. Now our snail mail and email boxes are both loaded with more than the usual amount of sales pitches.
 
Even when I’m studying from an online Bible the ads pop up! Our lawn tractor needs to be replaced so I have been doing searches online. Now, as I am examining today’s text in Bible Gateway I notice that Home Depot has an ad beside the Bible showing various lawn tractors for sale which I admit did distract me!
 
Most of us make purchases during the holidays so we can provide gifts to others, but many of us also make purchases for ourselves during these sales as well. The materialistic hype during the holiday season highlights an ancient problem the human race has dealt with since the time of creation; “greed”. In a sense greed was demonstrated by Adam and Eve at the time of the original sin. They were surrounded by beauty and more than enough provisions were allotted to them; provisions they didn’t have to share with anyone else, but they wanted even more!
 
Greed can impact us all regardless of how wealthy or poor we consider ourselves to be. The Lord Jesus Himself warns, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15).
 
A nifty page on the Bible Gateway site lists all the versions of a particular verse. One of my first tools when studying a passage is to examine this page. Here’s the link to Luke 12:15.
 
Let us give consideration to today’s verse phrase by phrase:
 
“Watch out!” Other versions render this “take heed” and “beware”. In the Bible this word precedes something we really need to give our attention to!
 
“Be on your guard against” This speaks to our personal responsibility in this matter. It is in the present imperative which is a call to a long-term commitment for our attitude or action to be our continual way of life (lifestyle). (See here) This needs to begin when we are young since even children demonstrate greed. No matter how young or old, the temptation to be greedy is lurking, as we candidly acknowledge!

“All kinds of greed” Greed takes many forms. Although in the context of today’s passage it’s material things the dictionary states, “Having or showing a strong or excessive desire to acquire money or possess things, especially wishing to possess more than what one needs or deserves. 2. Having or showing a desire to eat or drink in large or excessive amounts. 3. Extremely eager or desirous for an activity or pursuit: greedy for the opportunity to prove their ability.”
 
“Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” This is especially where I find the various renderings in different translations helpful:
  • “For not even when one has an overflowing abundance does his life consist of nor is it derived from his possessions.” (Amplified)
  • “One’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy.” (Common English Bible)
  • “A man’s life is not measured by how many possessions he has.” (Evangelical Heritage Version)
  • “Your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be.” (Good News Translation)
  • “For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are.” (The Living Bible)
Now let us be very candid here. Today’s warning is to all, including a self warning to the writers of this daily encouragement. We readily admit that, in this world with an abundance of material things promising to make life easier or happier, we continually need to find balance. Hard to believe, but we read of one man in a previous generation who fought his greedy nature by living on a pole in the desert (true story). The antidote to greed is contentedness, a topic we will examine in tomorrow’s message.
 
 
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, why is it, that when we’re given far more than we need, we want even more! It seems that we try to find satisfaction, enjoyment, and comfort in material things that are temporal which can distract us from spiritual pursuits which have lasting eternal value. When we are tempted to indulge help us indulge in that which has lasting value and influences others for the kingdom of God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 
May the Lord help us to keep a healthy balance so that we are not loaded down with unhealthy debt for we should be careful to let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. See Romans 13:8
 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Everything We Need”  Video   Acappella
 
Regarding children who get materialistic: Remember when we used to get the huge Sears and/or J.C. Penney’s catalog in the late fall. It would arrive before Christmas just in time for children to drool over the latest toys, adults could check out the latest appliances, tool sets, fashions, etc. Yesterday in church our associate pastor told the congregation that over the past week, since a particular catalog advertising toys arrived in their mailbox, his 5 year old daughter asks to meet with him early each morning. She shows him the toys she would like for him to buy her and adds to her requests each day. It reminded me of how worn our catalog from Sears would get in a short time as the catalog was passed back and forth among my four siblings and me. I had the pages memorized that I especially liked. It sure didn’t mean that we got the toys we wanted, as money was limited, but it sure was fun to dream about it!

“The Ripple Effect”

November 23, 2018

Amish buggy from hot air balloonAn aerial view of a Lancaster County Amish farm taken from a hot air balloon.
Photo by Debra Zimmerman (Used by permission)
Click here for a larger size
“The Ripple Effect”
 
Message summary: The ripple effect becomes a bigger and bigger part of our impact as we get older. However, we may or may not see the ripples!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
 
Yesterday morning we attended a Thanksgiving service that included an open mic for “brief” testimonies. We enjoy these kind of services periodically and the expressions of thanks and overcoming faith touched our hearts as we saw God at work in individual lives.
Paul and Sylvia Hollinger 11/22/18
 
For many years Paul Hollinger was the General Manager of WDAC, one of our local Christian radio stations, retiring about 15 years ago. He has had health problems the last several years but continues to express a vibrant, overcoming faith as expressed in his testimony yesterday. He and his wife Sylvia recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, and look great, as you can see in the photo. They’re a very engaging couple when we join them in conversation.
 
After the service Paul shared a story with me that I found very interesting in light of our chaplain work. We see many Vietnamese people who have immigrated to the USA. We still have a language barrier with some of them but they seem to understand our purpose and care as we seek to be a witness for Christ. The other day we were in a store and one of the Vietnamese ladies spotted Brooksyne, ran over and gave her a big hug! Though communications are limited, interest in another’s well-being can be conveyed in other ways.
 
Paul explained, at the time Vietnam fell to communism in the mid-seventies, there were many refugees who came to the states. One group was temporarily housed at “Fort Indian Town Gap” an Army facility in our area. At that time the station was running a Public Service Announcement (PSA) requesting local families to host a Vietnamese family. Paul heard the announcement on his own station and sensed the Lord speaking to him that this is something he should do.
 
The Hollinger children were still at home but Paul and Sylvia felt they had enough room to host a couple so they took in a young couple who had just gotten married at the Fort. The couple stayed a short time to get their feet on the ground and moved on to living independently. Fast forward 43 years and the Vietnamese couple who presently reside in California stay in regular contact with the Hollingers and are very grateful for their role in the early years of their arrival in America. In fact Paul said the man has a very successful career in tech in the Silicon Valley.
Missionary family 11/22/18Don and Tabitha Nguyen along with daughters Abigail, Kayla and Maria
 
We heard another testimony from a family who sat in front of us in the service. They are missionaries to Cambodia where their service includes ministry to Vietnamese refugees in that country. Don came as a Vietnamese refugee, accepted the ways of the Lord, and now with his family is spreading the Gospel and seeking to make disciples for Christ.
 
Today, let us consider the ripple effect of ministry. Picture throwing a stone into a pond and noting the ripples as they expand outward from the point the stone hit the water. Ripple after ripple expanding outward. In ministry sometimes we see the ripples, sometimes we don’t. Rarely do we see the distant ripples but they are still there.
 
Today’s Bible texts are both portions we memorized early in our journey. It’s one thing to reflect on these verses looking forward to life and ministry. Although we are still in the race and looking ahead, as we get older there’s a lot of looking back as well, and that can be a good thing.
“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Many commentators see this in the sense of one who is battling discouragement, a major obstacle for those serving Christ. Even as Jesus had those who were unreceptive and walked away (John 6:66) as well as Paul (2 Timothy 4:10) so will we. We accept the promise that in “at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (some versions state “do not grow weary”).
 
2 Timothy 2:2 was a major focus verse while we were preparing for ministry back in the seventies. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”.
 
  • There’s a period in life when we are mostly receiving. This is particularly true of our childhood and youth years. Although we are not hearing directly from Jesus and His disciples we are subject to their teachings. For us this is the apostolic teaching, those truths faithfully conveyed from the Bible.
  • Then there’s a period in life when we are mostly entrusting these truths to others. We should always be receiving but increasingly we give. We teach, lead programs, serve in a variety of ways. Even before and following our Bible College training that’s what we’ve sought to do.
  • Then there’s a period in life when those to whom we have entrusted truth are teaching others also. This is the ripple effect of ministry. Although we should keep receiving and we should keep teaching, the ripple effect becomes a bigger and bigger part of our impact. This is increasingly the case as we get older. However, only in eternity will we see fuller evidence of the ripple effect!
 
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are grateful for those who have chosen to follow You and influenced others to walk in the paths of righteousness. Of course, we are only a mouthpiece and a living example of how Your grace and forgiveness can change one’s life, but that’s one essential method You choose to spread the gospel. May we be found faithful in living a life that honors you, by telling and showing others the way to salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.



Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Find Us Faithful”  Video  Let There Be Praise Singers
 
“What You Leave Behind”  Video  The Talleys
 
Yesterday we shared a photo of an antique axe collection we saw in the Star Barn earlier this week. I asked, “Could an astute Bible student suggest a good verse that might go with this collection?” Here are two answers I received:
Ed: “If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success” (
Ecclesiastes 10:10)
David and Brenda: The first verse we thought of before we even saw your question was “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
Of course these are correct. The verse I had considered is 2 Kings 6:1-7

Thanksgiving Day Message

November 22, 2018

Star Barn at dusk (photo shared by Nelson Longenecker) (Click to enlarge)Yesterday we shared some photos from a visit to the Star Barn for a meeting on Tuesday. Our friend, Nelson Longenecker, attended a meeting recently at the barn and shared this photo taken at the event. Nelson, who is several years younger than us, shared with me how he lived near the original Star Barn location growing up. He shares, “When I showed these pictures and others to my mom, she told me that she used to take us there in our strollers. No wonder it feels that I go way back with the Star Barn!”
(Click to enlarge)
“Thanksgiving Day Message”
 
Message summary: The Westminster Catechism declares, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The daily Scripture verse declares we can glorify God today and every day with thanksgiving. That is what we will do!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30).

Yesterday I overheard an expression of thanks that was heartening when an employee said to the company owner, “Thanks for the job!” What if our lives were filled every day with thanks to God and others?

My mom, who made her departure 13 years ago this month, was very persistent in teaching her children basic manners. Even as she aged she continued to reinforce what she had taught her four children many years earlier to her grandchildren. She used a short poem, “Hearts, like doors, swing wide with ease to very, very tiny keys, and don’t forget, that two of these are ‘Thank you, Sir’ and ‘If you please'”.

Today, here in the USA we celebrate Thanksgiving; a wonderful holiday reminding us to be faithful in giving thanks to God for our blessings. We will be attending a Thanksgiving service this morning and then of course probably have something to eat!

Many years ago our pastor (Jim Gambini at the time) asked, “What do they call Thanksgiving Day in the rest of the world?” I suppose we were wondering what term was used to describe the holiday elsewhere and we were stumped.

Then he answered: “Thursday!” Only the US and Canada have a national day specifically set aside for Thanksgiving. (International readers, by all means correct us we are mistaken on this point.) For many reading our messages in other countries this is just another week and Thursday will simply be another day with no special emphasis on thankfulness.

Yet even as so many have denigrated the true meaning of Christmas, it seems the same is being done to Thanksgiving. It began by changing the object of our thanksgiving toward God to others (such as the Pilgrims simply being thankful to the Indians). Many also just express a generic thankfulness without a focus on God but rather in the sense of having good fortune.

And then there are those who greet others with “Happy Turkey Day” (since we customarily have turkey), though you won’t hear Brooksyne or me wishing people Happy Turkey Day, not when we have opportunity to honor the true meaning of this holiday by blessing others with a reminder, “Happy Thanksgiving Day!” which is what we did as we greeted many people yesterday in our chaplain visits and even in our Costco visit.

Whether or not we have a special day set aside for giving thanks we have so much to be thankful for don’t we? (I can still hear Menno Brubaker, who lived past 100, saying that when we first moved to Lancaster County). We are blessed in regard to many things. The size of our homes and the amount of our accumulations may vary. Some have a loving and supportive family, while others have not enjoyed this blessing. Some have had far more heartache in life than others.

But above all the variances of our haves and have nots, we urge you to focus on this great truth – all we who have trusted in Christ equally share in the greatest blessing, specifically our great salvation through Christ! Hallelujah, What A Savior!

In the daily Scripture portion the Psalmist makes a strong declaration, “I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.” The Hebrew word for “magnify” is translated throughout the Old Testament with words like advance, lift up, promote, increase, and boast.

We like the word “magnify” and here we are told to “magnify Him with thanksgiving”. Let us indeed magnify the Lord by our thankfulness each day and in all circumstances.

The Westminster Catechism declares, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The daily Scripture verse declares we can glorify God today and every day with thanksgiving. That is what we will do!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we praise You in song; we testify of You in our words and deeds, and we magnify You when we express words of thanksgiving and live in a way that honors and exalts Your name. All we have needed Your hand has provided. So we join with Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:22 who declared, right in the midst of a very difficult time of famine and desperation, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness, Lord, unto me!” Thank You for Your faithfulness in every season of our life. Amen.



Star Barn antique axe collection 11/20/18 (Click to enlarge)

Another tool collection from the Star Barn, antique axes and hatchets. Could an astute Bible student suggest a good verse that might go with this collection?
(Click to enlarge)
 
Star Barn lower level (photo shared by Nelson Longenecker) (Click to enlarge)
Nelson Longenecker shared this photo of the lower level of the Star Barn.
(Click to enlarge)
 
Star Barn bride's prep room 11/20/18 (Click to enlarge)
Another view of the room where the bride and her attendants prepare and dress which used to be the milkhouse. I photographed Brooksyne as she was photographing the very fancy bathroom.
(Click to enlarge)

Lancaster Costco parking lot 11/22/18 (Click to enlarge)

Yesterday, following some chaplain visits, we stopped by our local Lancaster Costco which was very, very busy. Some folks are pretty revealing about their purchases on the buggy truck bed that is also supporting a new table (likely for the grandchildren) at the big Thanksgiving meal. Looks like they could use a ratchet strap tie down or at least a bungee cord to secure the table up high!
(Click to enlarge)
 


Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 22).

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it’s read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here’s an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns”
(printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

 
We appreciate listening to and singing the Thanksgiving hymns and songs.
 
“In Everything Give Thanks”  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

“Now Thank We All Our God”  Video  Best Loved Hymns

“Come Ye Thankful People Come”  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

“Thanksgiving Medley” (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

“Thank You Lord”  Video  Community Choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

“Thanks”
 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

“I Want To Thank You”  Video  Karen Peck and New River This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives in big and small ways. It also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

“Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns”  Video  Travis Cottrell

“Thank You, Lord”  Video  Dennis Jernigan

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  Video  Matt Redman

Star Barn door 11/20/18

This old and thick wooden door in the Star Barn.
 
“A Blessing On Your Barns”
 
Message summary: In the Doxology we sing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” God continues to send forth His physical and spiritual blessings. Sadly, many reject the reality of this source of all blessings or exhibit an entitlement attitude. God owes us nothing and yet provides for all that we need.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to” (Deuteronomy 28:8).
 
Convene meeting in Star Barn 11/20/18Convene meeting in Star Barn
Click to enlarge
 
We had a meeting yesterday in the Star Barn, a huge barn that for many years stood in a pitiful state of disrepair along the main freeway from Lancaster to Harrisburg, PA. In the last several years it has been carefully dismantled, relocated and then meticulously and historically restored to its original state here in Lancaster County. It is now an event venue and yesterday was the first time we went to a meeting in the upper level. Our photos do not begin to show how outstanding the interior of the barn is!

We both like barns. We have a small two story utility barn which is probably the only barn I will have on this side of eternity. This prompts a consideration of whether there will be barns in heaven. Since the Bible mentions horses in heaven we feel there must be barns!

 
Barns vary in size, design, color and even their intended usage. There are cattle barns, feed barns, equipment barns and many other kinds of barns. As a little boy I would play in my Uncle Gentry’s barn on his farm outside of Harwood, Missouri. When the cousins came together for family gatherings we’d play in the barn and especially the hay loft. Occasionally Uncle Gentry would hitch a wagon to his Allis-Chalmers tractor and take us for a ride in the fields. When we could hear the ringing of the dinner bell we’d run back to the old white 1880’s farmhouse for Aunt Dora’s country fried chicken!
 
Barns are mentioned throughout the Bible with today’s verse being the first reference in the Scripture. This was prior to the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land and thus a prophetic promise, since they at the time were concluding their wilderness wanderings.
 
“The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to.” It’s a wonderful promise to them and in principle to all of us whether or not we have a barn.

“The Lord will send” It’s so vital to recognize where the blessings come from. In the Doxology we sing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” God continues to send forth his physical and spiritual blessings. Sadly, many reject the reality of this source or exhibit an entitlement attitude. God owes us nothing and yet provides for all that we need.

“A blessing on your barns” indicates the agricultural way of life so common in the Bible period. But in principle it surely also means your work or business, whatever that may be, that relates to the way we make a living today. This thanksgiving season let us especially thank God for His blessings.

But note carefully that this Scripture expresses a cooperative relationship. God is faithful to bless. But notice the phrase, “On everything you put your hand to.” Farmers don’t just lay around waiting for God’s blessing. They work hard, using the skills God has taught them over the years, often through the trials and errors of farming. Although most of us don’t work on farms the principle is surely the same in life.

Many tend to see work as a mere necessity to be avoided as much as possible. But God has called us all to use our hands. Consider these verses: “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you” (I Thessalonians 4:11). “We work hard with our own hands” (1 Corinthians 4:12).

Let us claim today’s promise and let us faithfully obey God’s commands. And then let us give thanks.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are confident that You will provide for all our needs as we obey Your commands. You have instituted work from the very beginning so that we can provide for ourselves that which we have need of. Your blessings fall upon those who obey You, those who are not idle or wasteful. Thank you for our work. We lift up our brothers and sisters who are diligently looking for employment but are awaiting doors to open. Father, we pray that You would open the right door and provide for their needs in unconventional ways as You always care for Your own, no matter the circumstances. May it be a time of trusting and growing as they look to You for their provisions and for the open door. We also pray that they will find ways to be useful in helping others while they are flexible in their schedule. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


 

Star Barn 11/20/18 (Click to enlarge)

The barn was renovated and restored to its original historic design though the new owners were unable to determine what this tunnel-like room had been used for originally.
Click to enlarge
 
Star Barn 11/20/18 (Click to enlarge)
The entire milk house attached to the barn has been repurposed as the area in which the bride and her attendants get prepped in.
Click to enlarge

Star Barn tack room 11/20/18 (Click to enlarge)
We understand this tack room is where the groom and his friends might hang out before the wedding.
Click to enlarge

Star Barn wooden hammers 11/20/18 (Click to enlarge)
The Star Barn has many historical displays of old tools such as this one of old wooden hammers.
Click to enlarge
Star Barn 11/20/18 (Click to enlarge)

The Star Barn
Click to enlarge
Our utility barn
And, lastly, here’s our non-historic and pretty plain but very useful utility barn!
 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“The Doxology”  Video   Anthem Lights and Selah  Just voices!
 
“Is He Worthy?/Hallelujah, What A Savior”  Video  Calvary Church Choir from our service this last Lord’s Day.
 
 
Convene The meeting we attended in the Star Barn yesterday was sponsored by Convene, a business group equipping business owners and leaders to serve Christ in the Marketplace. Local Chair and long-time friend Ron Hoover makes this point to business leaders: “When we stand before the Bema judgment (Judgment Seat Of Christ) Christ will not be asking about our Balance Sheet and P/L but He will be asking how we did caring for the people He gave us!”
 
Finally today:

Mission BBQ truck in Hershey, PA 11/20/18Heading into Hershey, PA following our meeting in the Star Barn we followed this Mission BBQ truck, a renovated army convoy truck that apparently had a BBQ smoker built over the bed which sure smelled good as we drove along! Though it was a very cold day we were tempted to drive along with our windows down. (If you look carefully you’ll see some of Hershey Park to the right and you’ll even spot three or more Hershey Kiss street lights.



Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 22).

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it’s read with expression and clarity.) For many of us the Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Here’s an idea for sharing together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns”
(printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service many years ago. (blog post) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our long-time friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

 
We appreciate listening to and singing the Thanksgiving hymns and songs.
 
“In Everything Give Thanks”  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

“Now Thank We All Our God”  Video  Best Loved Hymns

“Come Ye Thankful People Come”  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

“Thanksgiving Medley” (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

“Thank You Lord”  Video  Community Choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

“Thanks”
 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

“I Want To Thank You”  Video  Karen Peck and New River This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives in big and small ways. It also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

“Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns”  Video  Travis Cottrell

“Thank You, Lord”  Video  Dennis Jernigan

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  Video  Matt Redman

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