“Living In Reverent Fear”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Susquehanna River

We passed this wide section of the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg Pennsylvania last Saturday. I find this scene interesting with all the small islands. However farther up the river some of the islands are large enough to farm on! We had over 10 inches of rain yesterday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, and this same river is now flooding.

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“Living In Reverent Fear”

“Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17b).

Pets on Ester's bedWe are in the process of training our daughter’s 8 month puppy Mollie. She has been a much greater challenge to us than Roxie as a pup. Since she is a border collie she has a compulsive urge to chase and herd. At times this is interesting to watch but not so much fun if you’re the one being herded. Our nearly 8 year old dog Roxie and our 10 year old cat Dottie are not amused as they are being chased and herded by a highly energetic, free-spirited puppy. It’s quite a sight to see Mollie yanking an unwilling Roxie down the steps by grabbing hold of Roxie’s collar with her teeth. For the most part Mollie seems pretty fearless which is not a good thing when it comes to lunging after oncoming cars as we take her for a walk. She is slowly learning to respond to the word “over” which we are teaching to indicate that she is to move toward the ditch rather than springing at the passing car.

LightningHowever yesterday she sure demonstrated a lot of fear. We’ve had a lot of heavy rains, over 10 inches yesterday, interspersed with flashes of lightning and crackling thunder. When the thunder roars Mollie comes running to us with a fearful, questioning look as she darts her eyes toward the window. From our perspective her fears are unwarranted since we are safely inside where there is little danger from the lightning and none from the thunder. The anecdote, “Thunder is just the angels clapping in heaven” would have no soothing effect on Mollie. She is seeking protection from the harmless thunderous noise, but on the other hand she will ensue deadly danger from passing cars as she lunges toward them thinking she has the capability and size to masterfully herd a car, truck, or even a bus!

Fear isn’t usually seen as positive or healthy. We’ve heard all our lives, “Get over your fear.” “Stop being afraid!” “Don’t be a baby.” But then we’re also taught to healthily respect the heat from a stove, the dangerous height from a second floor window, or the electrical current from an outlet in the wall. We’re taught how to accurately assess dangers so that we have a proper fear and understanding of the situation, and respond accordingly.

Many of us have memorized a Scripture that says in part, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear.” This is a stirring verse to memorize and apply when dealing with spiritual fears.

Yet the daily text speaks of a reverential fear of God which is a healthy fear. It is greatly lacking in our day. A healthy, holy fear of God is an essential component in the life of the maturing believer in forming our attitude and approach toward a holy God. John gives perspective on the isle of Patmos as he wrote, “Who will not fear You, O Lord and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy” (Revelation 15:4). In a secular culture where the Lord’s holy Name is spoken in vain or blasphemously, where God is commonly referred to as “the man upstairs”, we need a good understanding and reverential fear of God. The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

As we apply our daily text, we will not be looking for our place in this world, for we are to live as strangers in reverential fear. The Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary reveals some insight into reverential fear: “Fear and hope flow from the same fountain: fear prevents us from falling away from hope. Though love has no fear IN it, yet in our present state of imperfect love, it needs to have fear going ALONG WITH it as a subordinate principle. This fear drowns all other fears. The believer fears God, and so has none else to fear. Not to fear God is the greatest baseness and folly. The martyrs’ more than mere human courage flowed from this.”  Martyrs who lay down their lives for God are put through the ultimate test in choosing to fear God more than man.

Our daily verse may be one of the most ignored truths by contemporary Christians: “Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” Read that over a few times and prayerfully ask yourself, “Am I living my life here on earth as a stranger in reverent fear?”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we read in Proverbs that “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death” and “The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” We must choose to fear You rather than man so that we prepare ourselves for living as sojourners here below with heaven in view at all times. We can do this when we live as strangers in reverent fear of You, our Father in heaven. Amen.
(Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 29:25)

Further thought on fear: David McCullough in his book “Mornings On Horseback” tells this story about young Teddy Roosevelt: Mittie (his mother) had found he was so afraid of the Madison Square Church that he refused to set foot inside if alone. He was terrified, she discovered, of something called the “zeal.” It was crouched in the dark corners of the church ready to jump at him, he said. When she asked what a zeal might be, he said he was not sure, but thought it was probably a large animal like an alligator or a dragon. He had heard the minister read about it from the Bible. Using a concordance, she read him those passages containing the word ZEAL until suddenly, very excited, he told her to stop. The line was from the Book of John 2:17: “And his disciples remembered that it was written, ’The ZEAL of thine house hath eaten me up’” People are still justifiably afraid to come near the “zeal” of the Lord, for they are perfectly aware it could “eat them up” if they aren’t one of His. Our Lord is good, but He isn’t safe.

Hershey park flooded 9/7/11
Photo of flooded Hershey Park 9/7/11

Regarding all the rain: Our yard is flooded and for the first time we have a bit of water in the corner of our basement. We sure hope it dries out soon but we have rain in the forecast today and tomorrow! Our area is being plastered with the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. We have had a lot of flash floods in our area as well and many are dealing with far worse circumstances than we. Many roads are closed and impassable. A friend called this morning and reported the lower level of his church is flooded.  More photos of the flooding in our area.

Van update: Our van was deemed totalled as a result of the accident we shared about last Friday.  So we pray for God’s wisdom and guidance as we seek to replace it.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“We Choose The Fear Of The Lord”  Video  Maranatha Singers

“We Choose The Fear Of The Lord”  Video  Instrumental (We use this song as the background to our podcast today as well.)

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“Workplace Anger”

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Laughlin Mill, Cumberland County PA
Laughlin Mill in Cumberland County PA

This grist mill was built around 1763.

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“Workplace Anger”
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26,27).

It’s a beautiful clear morning here in rural Pennsylvania. Early this morning I stepped outside and looked toward the sky and there I saw a familiar, quite predictable sight; a large FedEx plane heading into Harrisburg airport. (I typically see the UPS plane a bit earlier.) Such a sight often prompts a prayer for those who labor and this morning I specifically prayed for the blessing of commerce and industriousness in our land.

It is a great blessing to have a job during this extended time of economic downturn. Yet the workplace has many challenges in areas of productivity, proficiency, problem-solving, personality clashes, etc. Some of these challenges produce angry emotions in workers. Many of you read our material at work during a break so today let’s address a topic that might be relevant to your situation.

Anger is an ancient human condition first seen in Cain prior to the first murder.  Throughout the Bible we see evidences of unconstrained anger and certainly it is a human condition all readers are familiar with. It gets a lot of attention in the media – whether it’s road rage, anger in the workplace, anger in the home, or wherever one chooses to unleash his or her fury on others.

As many readers know, one facet of our ministry takes us regularly into the workplace environment where we serve as business chaplains. We rarely see uncontrolled anger in the workforce since our presence often brings out the “good side” of employees much like those who have it altogether on Sunday mornings when they shake hands with the preacher!  But occasionally we witness the ugly side of anger at work; let me recount a story from many years ago that I encountered.

I witnessed a contractor verbally berating a young man who worked for him as he was teaching him the trade. Later I talked to the young man briefly whose eyes watered up from the abusive treatment of his supervisor. His confidence was nearly zilch.  I placed my arm around his shoulder and sought to encourage him. The particularly sad thing is that the contractor claimed to be a Christian.

Looking the young man right in the eye and I asked him, “What is the golden rule?”  He immediately answered, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It was encouraging he had that verse memorized and he got my point.  It’s a sad aspect of fallen human nature that so often we do unto others as has been done unto us, thus the destructive cycle continues. This is particularly true in regard to both child and spousal abuse.

Much of what I’ve read and heard concerning workplace anger centers around the conditions in the present workplace such as job insecurity, poor training, understaffing, and managerial arrogance.  However, in our observation, anger is often a carryover from one’s personal life. The above conditions may very well be true, and to some degree haven’t they always been?

However as a follower of Christ and student of the Bible I believe there’s a greater contributing factor to the increase in unconstrained anger. Through much of our history the teachings and principles of the Bible had a mighty impact upon our culture, extending even to the workplace. This even impacted those who were not specifically followers of Jesus Christ. Most knew about the “Golden Rule” – it’s just plain common sense. There was an unspoken understanding that we are to be kind and respectful to one another and practice self-control even if it was not reciprocated.

In our daily verse the apostle Paul is giving practical instructions on life to the Ephesian believers.  He acknowledges that there will be times the believer is angry.  Anger itself is not a sin. The Bible records several occasions when Christ was angry (see Mark 3:5). In fact I believe sometimes it would be unhealthy not to be angry!

Yet in this text the Bible lists three vital constraints on anger:

1) “In your anger do not sin.” This indicates there are to be self-imposed constraints on the extent of anger. Obviously harming other people in our anger is sin! (Excepting self-defense circumstances.)
2) “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” This indicates there are to be self-imposed constraints on the duration of anger. This precludes the long term, harmful effects of seething anger that easily leads to destructiveness and bitterness.
3) “And do not give the devil a foothold” This indicates there are to be self-imposed constraints on the _____ of anger.* If we fervently gather evidence to support or justify our anger we are giving the devil a foothold on our emotions which in turn feeds our actions. Instead of a godly response it will produce a knee jerk reaction from the enemy who holds us down.

The workplace anger or any other form of ungodly anger that we write about would not become an issue if these three constraints are applied.  Let God’s Word saturate your life today. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19,20).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man

Daily prayer: Father, when we are angry You tell us to stay above the fray and sin not.  There are times when it is appropriate to be angry such as when we see a person harming another individual; when we have been lied to; or when we have been unfairly accused. These circumstances along with many others stir up strong emotions with us and often require a response to the matter. Keep us prayerful as we are quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. May we respond as Jesus did to His many accusers, though innocent, He spoke not a word in His defense.  And may we be careful not to keep a scoreboard of other’s offenses. We pray this in the mighty name of Jesus who forgives us and does not count our sins against us, but rather took them upon Himself.  Amen.

* The blank in point three is an illustration of what all preachers and writers experience at times. We simply could not determine a single word to describe this constraint and didn’t want to hang the message up all day while we try. Any readers have a suggestion?  Send it to us!

Here’s the daily text in two other versions:

Amplified – When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.  Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].

New Living Translation – And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Here’s an observation on the third constraint from Clarke’s Commentary:  Neither give place to the devil – Your adversary will strive to influence your mind, and irritate your spirit; watch and pray that he may not get any place in you, or ascendancy over you. As the word διαβολος is sometimes used to signify a calumniator, tale-bearer, whisperer, or backbiter; (1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:3, and Titus 2:3); here it may have the same signification. Do not open your ear to the tale-bearer, to the slanderer, who comes to you with accusations against your brethren, or with surmisings and evil speakings. These are human devils; they may be the means of making you angry, even without any solid pretense; therefore give them no place, that you may not be angry at any time; but if, unhappily, you should be overtaken in this fault, let not the sun go down upon your wrath; go to your brother, against whom you have found your spirit irritated; tell him what you have heard, and what you fear; let your ears be open to receive his own account; carefully listen to his own explanation; and, if possible, let the matter be finally settled, that Satan may not gain advantage over either.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Take My Life And Let It Be”  Video  Christ For The Nations Worship Team.  This is a beautiful hymn of consecration.

Laughlin Mill  I really enjoy old gristmills such as the Laughlin Mill featured in today’s top photo! Here’s another view. We pass it on the way back to a camp we often attend in the summer.

Laughlin Mill, Cumberland County PA
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“The Hardworking Farmer”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Dignity Of The Farmer
A plaque with these words is near the entrance of the Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fair. I dedicate it to all farmers. Here is a larger pdf version suitable for printing.

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“The Hardworking Farmer”
“The hardworking farmer” (2 Timothy 2:6a).

Today I have two separate visits to the State College area (State College is the home of Penn State). Paul Grabill, a pastor friend of mine, passed away last week and I will be attending his “Celebration Service” and then go to the Penn State Agricultural Progress Days, held right outside of State College.

I saw a sign along a rural farm road that caught my attention and brought a chuckle. “Don’t criticize the farmer with your mouth full.” My word of encouragement to you today is to thank God for all who are expressing obedience to God by engaging in productive work that benefits society.  I also want to thank those of you who, in one way or another, are working hard at producing a beneficial good or providing a wholesome service. And before you judge or criticize anyone (particularly farmers) consider the contribution they are making to your life! If you consume anything edible today it is a result of some type of farming effort.  Call this to mind as you bless your food before eating.

We live in a farming area and the farm work is at a bit of a lull as far as visible busyness in the fields prior to the busy harvest season coming up. With the plenteous rains in the last several weeks farmers are optimistic about a good harvest. However, make no mistake about it, there’s always work to do on a farm!

Ester and her PaPa (Brooksyne's late father)I recall from my childhood when my mom’s cousin who farmed in southern Missouri would drop by to visit with his distinctive bib overalls common to so many farmers at that time. I am not sure I ever saw him wearing anything else! It’s interesting that Brooksyne’s dad who was a part-time farmer as well as a full time truck driver often wore them (as seen in photo with Ester).

In today’s portion of Scripture Paul uses three vocations to illustrate the need for diligence in Christian service; the soldier, athlete and farmer.

The Bible uses timeless illustrations that span all times and cultures. After all, we still have soldiers, athletes and farmers and virtually anywhere the Bible is read we can identify with these vocations, although living in the midst of a farming area makes the third example particularly relevant to me.

In regard to the farmer we have this descriptive adjective, “hardworking”. I drive by farms where the Amish still work the fields with horse teams. We have a neighbor who farms the old-fashioned way and it’s a very interesting sight. I also drive by many farms using the latest in equipment. One thing is for sure; regardless of the variety or sophistication of the equipment, farmers work very hard!

Today let us all give thanks to God for the farmer. In our home we tend to be specific when we give thanks for our food considering not only God’s blessing but the specific labor and laborers that went into getting that food on our table. We encourage our readers to do the same and consider that it most certainly involved some hard work!

We also give thanks for those who work the fields of souls such as Paul Grabill. In a spiritual sense Paul was a hardworking farmer working the fields of souls. The Bible uses many agricultural illustrations to describe the Christian life and ministry such as plowing, sowing, watering and reaping. Today consider those who Paul was describing in 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the diligent farmers who work the soil, plant the seeds, and then await the germination and growth of the seeds planted.  It’s all a work of faith since there is so much out of their control; too much rain or lack thereof, the proper growing temperatures, disease and harmful insects can make or break the harvest.  So we thank you for those who year after year toil in the fields to provide healthy, vibrant and delicious foods to fill our plates. It’s generally a family effort so we pray Your blessings upon the entire family as they work together to make a very productive contribution to our well being. We also give thanks for our spiritual leaders who contribute to our spiritual well-being, who work hard at feeding our souls.  They, too, deal with troubling elements out of their control following their seed planting, so faith and persistence are key tools in the results of their labor and future harvest.  Bless them, their families, and give them fruit for their labor, we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Note: Due to scheduling (out all day today and then an early start tomorrow) we do not expect to post a daily encouragement message for Thursday, 8/18/11.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Field Of Souls”  Video  Verne Phifer

Here is a video tribute to Paul Grabill.  Although Paul and I never served in the same area as pastors we had several occasions to have fellowship especially in the earlier years of our ministry. Most notably when we just happened to meet in the Pittsburgh airport on separate connecting flights about twenty years ago and then sat together on a flight to Kansas City. For the last twenty years he has been lead pastor at the State College Assembly of God where we visited several years ago. I suppose Paul’s death after a long battle with cancer is especially poignant since we are the same age and his wedding anniversary is also 1976. I also expect to visit with mutual friends at the service today. Paul had a significant influence on the State College area and I am sure there are readers who knew him.

Following the service I will be going to the Penn State University’s Ag Progress Days  As most readers know I enjoy agriculture and Curt, a friend of mine, who is an ag equipment salesman told me this is quite a deal! Last Saturday I went to a local expo of antique equipment. This expo will feature the modern.

Steincross cousins with Uncle Gentry (in the mid-sixties)
Here’s a photo of my Uncle Gentry, who farmed in southern Missouri, playing with his nieces and nephews. One year we had some snow in southern Missouri at Christmas so Uncle Gentry took some of the kids out for a makeshift sled ride on his tractor pulling what appears to be a wood pallet. That’s my cousin Steve driving the tractor with the huge smile and I’m in the photo standing on the back of the pallet. I think that’s my sister Genelle sitting on the pallet. Uncle Gentry doesn’t look like he’s in a very safe place!
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“The Blessing Of Brakes”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A leaning silo in rural VirginiaRural Virginia

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“The Blessing Of Brakes”

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God” (1 Corinthians 15:33,34). “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

We have been on many mountain roads over the last week, the most notable one as we were coming down from Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee, which is over 6,600 feet to Gatlinburg at 1,200 feet. I frankly didn’t give it much thought at the time but we’re sure glad our brakes worked!

Bristol Speedway dragstrip 8/9/11
Yesterday we toured the Bristol Speedway and Dragstrip. This was one of the best tours I’ve ever been on. The tour guide took us down the drag strip hitting a nerve-racking* 60 mph at the ¼ mile mark and thankfully stopping (without a parachute) before we hit the bluff at the end. The real dragsters go over 300 mph in that distance and have a parachute to brake or else! The speedway tour also included several laps around the highly banked race track where drivers rely on their brakes functioning properly or they would be in real trouble.

That sure got me thinking. I’m confident that not one of you would venture out on the road in your car today if you knew that your brakes didn’t work. Even though your intent was to get to a particular destination and value the accelerator petal, all through the trip, and certainly at the end you expect to apply your brakes. If you’ve ever had a brake malfunction you know what a blessing stopping is!

My most heartpounding brake experience took place over 30 years ago. I drove a school bus to supplement our income when we planted a church in northern Pennsylvania which is a very mountainous region. Mostly I drove kids to and from school but I was asked to make a special trip driving an adult fellowship from the Shiloh Presbyterian Church to a Penn State football game in State College.   A designated bus was used for these longer trips but I received no special training on how to drive it.

As I was going down a long grade on a mountain I pumped the brakes as I was accustomed to doing on my other bus.  But this bus had air brakes and the more I pumped the less brake power I had until I lost them completely. To this day I still can’t explain how I was able to stop the bus short of divine intervention without having an accident, but that experience is a lasting reminder of the blessing or should I say necessity of brakes!

Let us consider the blessing of another type of brake in regard to our spiritual life. We may very well find it annoying, slowing us down or stopping us in places where we would rather see a green light. Tragically the vast majority are charging right through the red lights as they completely disregard the God-ordained brakes that He so wisely and graciously provides, such as this passage from I Corinthians 15:34: “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning.”

1) The brake of Scriptural commands and prohibitions.  God’s Word has both “go” and “stop” commands. When facing temptation from the enemy we do well to recall the stop commands. Our text today states, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”  This is speaking about the knowledge of God and His Word. So many disregard this knowledge and we see our society racing headlong to most certain judgment. The faithful church and ministry will continue to “devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42) and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

2) The brake of Godly counsel. Solomon wrote, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity” (Proverbs 3:1,2).  We need to heed the counsel of the wise and esteem the elderly who have gone on before us. Wisdom has been defined as “knowledge rightly applied.”

3) The brake of Holy Spirit guidance. The Holy Spirit not only compels us to move forward but at times will lead us to stop. Paul was intending to continue his mission work in Asia Minor when he had his Macedonian vision where the Holy Spirit essentially stopped him and led him in another direction.  “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:7). As we walk with the Lord, in sensitivity to His Spirit, we need to rejoice in both the goes and the stops!

4) The brake of tradition. This point is most difficult to develop since many have developed a negative attitude toward tradition and even the Scriptures speak out against tradition in some circumstances. Certainly, tradition for tradition’s sake needs to be evaluated carefully.  But it seems to me that an attitude prevails in the church among more than a few that “different” is seen as better, cooler, more appealing to a current generation.  Good practices developed over years can be too quickly shrugged aside in favor of the new, without considering what significance is lost in the process. When we have Communion in our church and I am sure it is somewhat different than the New Testament Church which commemorated this God-ordained sacrament.  Yet I hope there are more similarities than dissimilarities as we seek to hold true to the command of Christ who told His followers: “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Today let us thank God for the blessing of brakes. When He flashes the yellow light of caution we need to slowly, carefully, and Scripturally assess the situation.  When He flashes the red light we need to STOP!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is because of Your wise, loving ways that You teach us about the wiles of our adversary, the devil, and his cunning ways. We are not caught unaware but recognize his strategy as we regularly read Your Word and store it up in our hearts. Your knowledge is powerful as it opens the eyes of our hearts. Your precepts are right and because of that we hate every wrong path. Direct our footsteps according to Your Word so that we are in pace with You, observing the yellow lights of caution and stopping at the red lights of danger. As we do so we will not allow sin to rule over us.  Amen.

* Just kidding about the nerve-racking, but she really did step on it!


Some More Scenes From Our Journey

Weber family at 2011 reunion GatlinburgThe Weber family at the 2011 reunion.
All four of us Weber kids were able to attend this year.

Steincross cousins at 2011 reunion in GatlinburgStephen’s first cousins

Bristol speedway owner's suite 8/9/11Our tour included a visit to the very posh Burton Smith owner’s suite.

Bristol speedway banks 8/9/11The banks at Bristol Speedway are famously steep, among the steepest in any NASCAR racetrack. It was quite a chore to climb them!

Bristol speedway winner's box 8/9/11The winner drives up to a checkered rooftop on the speedway infield for ceremonies.
The speedway holds 160,000.

Steam engine in Strasburg VA 8/9/11Yesterday afternoon we saw this old railroad steam engine in Strasburg, VA

In yesterday’s message I shared a photo from “Happy Days”, which brought to mind a nickname I had in the seventies based on a character from the show. Many of you properly recalled that it was Potsie Weber, who is at the right side in the photo!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Slow Down”  Video   Chuck Girard  This is a very thoughtful song I recall from my earliest days as a Christian.

“Lay Your Burden Down”  Video  Another Chuck Girard classic which goes well with today’s message.

Bristol Motor Speedway

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“A Purposeful Resolve”

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Greystone Manor Bed and Breakfast, Bird In Hand, PA 7/27/11The Greystone Manor Bed and Breakfast
in Bird In Hand, PA has beautiful gardens.

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“A Purposeful Resolve”

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). “At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Daniel 6:4).

Andy LarrimoreAndy Larrimore is a long-time friend from New England who runs his own website design business, developing websites for both secular companies and churches. He began work on a large multi-thousand dollar secular account when he encountered a problem. He noted that the site would contain material that he had determined in the formation of his business he would not work on.

He declined the job and wrote back to the client; “Several years ago I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart, and as a Christian have determined to live by the principles set forth in the Bible. I determined when I started my web design business that I would continue to follow the Scriptures in my business dealings and my company would abide by them no matter what the financial impact it may be. One of the policies I established is: ‘Webs by Andy will not build or consult on web sites that contain or will contain material of an adult only nature, language of a morally questionable nature, profanity or other morally offensive content’.”  He had clearly drawn his line in the sand and he stood by it.  We sure need people who live by their principles today don’t we?

Daniel in his youthSome sixty years separate the events described in our two daily texts.  The first describes Daniel as a young man separated from his family after being taken captive into Babylon. He made a purposeful resolution to stay true to his faith. I have always drawn strength and encouragement from this verse and consider the unseen influence of his parents and other godly leaders when he was young in equipping him for such a decision.

Daniel prayingThe second describes Daniel as an old man, still faithfully serving God and admired even among his most ardent critics for his integrity. Here we find him late in his career serving in government office during the reign of Darius, who happened to be the third world emperor he served under. His righteousness and Darius’ intention to further promote him prompted jealousy in the other leaders. They looked for a basis to make charges but were unable to find any. What a powerful testimony he had: “They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” The events that follow lead to the lion’s den and one of the great stories of deliverance in the Bible.
Daniel in lion's denWhat a steadfast man Daniel was! Every generation needs men and women like him. Surely we need such strong unwavering followers of Christ today! The specific sources of temptation may vary, but we all need to “purpose in our heart” that we will stay faithful to God and His truth.  Like Daniel we need to be trustworthy. How do people view our character?  Are we trustworthy? Have we made a purposeful resolve to stay faithful?  Let us take the proper steps to make sure that we do.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I thank you for the “Daniels” of our day. Many of us grew up with fathers and mothers who not only taught us right from wrong, but modeled it daily in their relations with family and others. So many today are growing up without Biblical models or Scriptural instruction which has brought about much confusion about what is right and wrong, true or false. The power of Your inspired Holy Word reveals absolute truth and is taught by examples of people such as Daniel. He didn’t allow his fear, pride, or earthly ambitions to compromise his integrity. Even as Daniel stood the test while continually overcoming the tempter, I pray that You, Father, would help us to prove our loyalty to You when faced with daily temptations, especially those that are subtle. May our resolve to do good far exceed our temptation to do evil. Amen.

"More Men Like Daniel" framed hymn

I have a framed copy of an old hymn that hangs on our office wall beside me as I work. It’s not well known and in fact I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it in a hymnal.  It has long been out of copyright so I can share it here. Although written nearly 100 years ago like all Godly truths it is “forward compatible” (see Monday’s message).

We need more men like Daniel to stand for God and right;
Men clean and strong, who hate the wrong,
And for the truth will fight.
When those controlled by evil their base designs pursue,
We need more men like Daniel who never prove untrue.

We need more men like Daniel their virtue here to show;
Men bold, sincere, who know no fear when called to face the foe.
Though dangers dark may threaten, they crave not ease or rest.
We need more men like Daniel who boldly stand the test.

We need more men like Daniel whose faith defied the king;
Who knelt and prayed when plans were laid
his shameful death to bring.
But God sent down His angel His all to guard and shield;
We need more men like Daniel whose hearts will never yield. *

* “More Men Like Daniel” Neal McAulay/Charles Gabriel © 1922 Homer Rodeheaver

Some Scenes From Yesterday

Lancaster County melon harvest 7/27/11We had a meeting in the morning then went over to our Amish friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth to see their new baby. On the way we passed this tractor and wagon with a load of freshly harvested melons (watermelons and cantaloupe).

Lancaster County melon harvest 7/27/11One of the benefits of working the fields is a slice of fresh watermelon right from the field. It looks like this worker was enjoying it but I prefer my watermelon chilled!

Pony ride 7/27/11This little boy was enjoying his miniature horse ride.

Nick Nichols 7/27/11We stopped at the Bird In Hand Farmer’s Market for lunch and while sharing a cup of corn chowder and fresh pecan sticky buns we met Nick Nichols. Nick is a long-time reader from our area. He is enthusiastically hi-tech and is wearing a blacktooth device around his neck, and explaining to me how it works with his I-phone. He had just taken my photo! He would be a good salesman for Apple.

Greystone Manor Bed and Breakfast, Bird In Hand, PA 7/27/11Another view of the Greystone Manor

Jason and Becky Oberholser 7/27/11
Last night we heard a report from Jason and Becky Oberholtzer who are in Navajo mission work in New Mexico. Becky grew up in the church we served in northern Pennsylvania, the daughter of our friends Greg and Linda Burns.

Burns familyHere’s a photo of the Burns family in 1986 at the groundbreaking for our new church building. Greg and Linda are holding their son, Danny, while Becky looks up with a big smile wondering what’s going on. I recently received notice that Daniel is now in missions service in Mexico with CAM International! A heartwarming pastoral story comes out of this home. One year I challenged the people to memorize a  verse from each book of the Bible. I reasoned that when we get to heaven and meet Haggai, Habakkuk or other more obscure Bible characters it would be nice to recall something they wrote. So I carefully chose a verse from each book and over the course of 66 weeks challenged the people to memorize one selected verse per week. About half way through that same year we were visiting the Burns family and Becky, a very small child at that time, was memorizing these verses right along with her parents. She has told us she still remembered doing that (although she could not necessarily remember every verse now!) We considered that when we see these verses or hear them read, even if we don’t remember them word for word, we can remember the setting or book from which they came. That’s a blessing that remains even when much of our memories fade with time.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Am Resolved”  Video  Ernest V. Stoneman

1. I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight;
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.

2. I am resolved to go to the Saviour,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.

3. I am resolved to follow the Saviour,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living way.

4. I am resolved to enter the Kingdom,
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.

I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, Greatest, Highest,
I will come to Thee.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Once An Infidel And Libertine”

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Butterfly (photo by Greg Schneider)This photo was taken in Centre County PA by our friend Greg Schneider.
Click here for larger version.

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“Once An Infidel And Libertine”
“Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD” (Isaiah 26:10).

John Newton wrote his own epitaph. He summed up his brief stay on earth which enabled him to speak long after he had drawn his last breath. It continues to speak over 200 years later and perhaps it will prompt you to consider what you would like written in your personal epitaph.  Maybe this would be a good spiritual exercise that you could write while you have the presence of mind.  A great place to write out your epitaph would be the inside cover of your Bible.

John Newton tombstone inscription (1725-1807)John Newton, clerk,
Once an infidel and libertine,
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
Preserved, restored, pardoned
And appointed to preach the faith he
Had long labored to destroy.

John Newton’s great hymn “Amazing Grace” is a song that I am sure practically anyone reading this has been blessed by many times. Most would list it among our favorite songs.

John Newton (1725-1807)As John Newton aged his memory began to fail him. This is demonstrated in a poignant scene from the film “Amazing Grace” when Newton is shown in his aged condition declaring, “Although my memory is fading I remember two things very clearly. I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”  His sight was also fading leading him to quote a line from his own hymn, “I once was blind but now I see”, He then asked, “Did I write that?” He was assured that he had and Newton said, “Now at last it’s true.”

Today I would like to consider Newton’s self-description on his tombstone that states, “Once an infidel and libertine.” Now these are two words that we use quite infrequently these days. The first “infidel” means unbeliever and is used in the KJV of the Bible in such passages as 2 Corinthians 6:15 and 1 Timothy 5:8. However at the present time this word is most often used sneeringly by Muslims to describe all non-Muslims.

The second word is so rarely used that it needs defined. A libertine is one devoid of moral restraints, which is seen as unnecessary or undesirable, especially one who ignores or even spurns accepted morals and forms of behavior sanctified by the larger society, a dissolute person; usually a person who is morally unrestrained.

Far too many people in our “good is evil” and “evil is good” framework have rejected the Bible and live under a libertine attitude which is seen as a desirable virtue.  They proudly live as libertines free of moral restraints and sadly the libertine outlook has even infected the church. But to John Newton it was something that was radically changed at his time of conversion to Christ. It was important to him that his tombstone bear this witness.

Our daily verse presents an interesting and often overlooked Biblical truth. “Grace is shown to the wicked.” The grace of the almighty God of the universe is abundantly demonstrated in His loving care to our world. Theologically speaking this is referred to as “common grace.”  This demonstration of grace goes on moment by moment in a multitude of ways to all, even the vilest offender; the air we breathe, the livable climatic conditions, food and water.

But there is the special demonstration of grace extended to us through Jesus for our eternal salvation: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). This grace is available exclusively for those who earnestly believe in Jesus and accept His gift of salvation.  This gift far exceeds the worth of all other gifts given to us by God!

Unbelief and ingratitude have blinded many to this marvelous grace so that the vast majority of the world’s peoples “do not learn righteousness” which is evident in those walking in His grace. In our New Testament understanding they reject God’s grace through Jesus Christ. “They go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the Lord.”  Is this not a picture of so many?

How do we, as God’s chosen people, regard the grace of God today? The Scriptures state, “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).  That is the nature of the amazing grace transformation from an infidel and libertine to one “preserved, restored, pardoned.”

  • Let us thank God for His amazing grace and never cease to be amazed by it.
  • Let us “learn righteousness” and live our life in a manner that pleases Him.
  • Let us regard the majesty of the Lord and reverently declare His praises daily.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your abundant grace is poured out on humankind like showers of blessings, both for believer and unbeliever alike.  Yet it is only as we appropriate Your saving grace that we turn away from evil and walk in the ways of righteousness. Many leaders and rulers have come and gone, but You, Father, are the eternal One whose kingdom knows no end.  We humble ourselves in the light of Your majesty as we bring honor to Your holy name and live as a people who are eager to do what is good.  Amen.

Some butterflies from around our place

Yesterday as I walked about our lawn I see that the butterflies are in abundance. These are photographs we have take over the years of one of our favorite photo subjects!

Monarch butterflyMonarch (up close) on Silky Butterfly Weed

Monarch butterflyDistant view of Monarch on Silky Butterfly weed

Monarch butterflyInjured Monarch on Lantana

Black swallowtail butterflyBlack swallowtail butterfly on phlox

Black swallowtail butterflySwallowtail on Day Lily

Black swallowtail butterflyMonarch butterfly on Autumn Joy Sedum

Baby butterflyBaby black swallowtail on Autumn Joy Sedum

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Amazing Grace”  Video  Chris Tomlin version

“Amazing Grace”  Video  Brief segment from the movie “Amazing Grace” that includes the quote from John Newton.

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

“Grace Greater Than All Our Sin”  Video  (Sounds like a local church)

“Majesty”  Video  Michael W. Smith

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Spiritual Myopia”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lebanon County, PA siloThis silo along Route 322 in Lebanon County, PA has an interesting Scripture witness!
Click here for larger version of Scripture text.

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“Spiritual Myopia”


“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).  “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).

I began to wear glasses when I was about twelve years old. I was near-sighted, meaning that I could see OK up close but distant views were blurry. I resisted wearing them at first but soon realized I really did see better with them. Near-sightedness is also called myopia. In my forties I started needing bifocals, since I now need correction both for close-up and distance.

Let me illustrate today’s message with a wonderful Creator-designed capability we all have and probably have never even considered. I am sitting at my desk in my home office with a clear view of my computer screen and close-up items on the desk. My eyes are automatically focused to this view.

I can raise my head and look out to a distant farm field view. Automatically, without any conscience effort on my part, my eyes refocus when I move from the close-up to the distant view. What if we were created with an adjustable knob on the side of our head that had to be turned each time we wanted to refocus, much like looking through a set of binoculars! I concur with David’s thoughts he penned three thousand years ago, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).

I can purposefully not refocus when I move from a close-up view to a distant one but it’s really hard.  Look out to a distant view and stare at your hand and see how blurry and out of focus the distance is at the periphery. Try to move your hand and keep your eyes focused the same as the close-up, although you are looking at a distance. For me it’s next to impossible. My eyes just automatically refocus!

Today I want to consider a condition that many of us have which I’ll call “spiritual myopia”.  We may have a focus on the close up view but have trouble seeing and focusing on the bigger picture spiritually; that which is at a distance. It seems that spiritually speaking having a distant “faith” focus does not come automatically. I have to very purposefully focus on that by faith.

Hebrews 11 is known as the Faith Chapter and is a great commendation of men and women who lived by faith.  “This is what the ancients were commended for” (v.2).  Hebrews 11: 13-16 is an incredible interjection by the divinely inspired author of Hebrews. Prior to this Scripture passage and afterward Abraham is the focus, but this section broadens the scope using the phrase, “all these people”, which may mean those who were with Abraham, or it may be referring to all the people of faith mentioned in this chapter.  Either way you consider it, this powerful portion is certainly true of all people of faith.

But the part that grips my heart is the phrase concerning the “things promised” they had not received at the time they died.  “They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.”  They did not have spiritual myopia.

In overcoming our tendency to being diagnosed with spiritual myopia:

1) We must have divine correction.
2) We must train our eyes for distant focus.
3) We must train our will to focus on the distant future.
4) We must place our affections on that which is yet to come.

I struggle with spiritual myopia when I am not focusing on God’s promises that are yet to be fulfilled.  I am not seeing them and welcoming them from a distance. In fact the spiritual distance may become invisible since my focus is fixed upon that which I see without effort.

Like the people who long ago lived by faith I need to regularly confess, “I am an alien and stranger on earth.”  Like them I want to be “longing for a better country—a heavenly one.”  May the Lord give each of us a distant heavenward focus! “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, so much of what I need to do today and in the near future consumes my time and energy. The commitments and problems I face can easily crowd out the solemn moments that helps redirect my attention and focus upon the future You have planned for me. My soul is refreshed and my hope renewed when I consider that all of heaven with its splendor, majesty, absence of sin, and the presence of Jesus is mine to receive. You prepared it all and promised it as an inheritance for all who live by faith. Though my eyes cannot presently see, my heart believe by faith all that You have in store for those who are looking for the city which is yet to come, our eternal dwelling place.  Amen.

Personal note: Yesterday Stephen had a troublesome tooth extracted and has found blessed relief!

Straw bales on Lebanon County farmYesterday our journey took us through Lebanon County, a rural area directly north of us. Wheat harvest is complete and we passed many of these large stacks of straw bales on Mount Pleasant Road. They will be used for animal bedding and perhaps landscaping.

Red barn and buggie 7/12/11We passed this scene on Echo Valley Road here in Lancaster County.
I like red barns and I like buggies. I especially like the open swinging door to the loft!

Amish team horses 7/12/11Across from the red barn these team horses congregated waiting for their next field assignment.  Not sure why, but it looks like the middle horse has a hat on its head.  Didn’t notice it when I took the shot!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Be Thou My Vision”  Video  Robin Mark  A newer rendition of a great old hymn!

“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”  Video  Michael W. Smith I enjoy the violin intro to this version as well as the congregational expression

Additional resource: A subscriber, after reading yesterday’s message, sent this interesting photo gallery titled, “What The World Eats”  A very interesting perspective!

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Shine, Jesus Shine!”

Friday, June 24, 2011FireflyFirefly

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“Shine, Jesus Shine!”

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

FireflyWe wish you could join us some evening during this time of year when we sit out on our porch swing at dusk and look out over our front lawn and then scan the huge cornfield across the country lane. Thousands of fireflies put on a great show and the scene over the corn appears as twinkling Christmas lights.  We also still like to ctach them and they have a distinct odor that’s reliably identifiable! It produces this chemical to repel predators.

Fireflies (also known in some regions, such as the midwest where we grew up, as “lightning bugs”) abound in our area. This bioluminescent insect, scientifically known as Pyractomena borealis, is sure an interesting creature and we marvel as we observe this special creation of God.

Jesse, about 8 years old, and his family attended a church in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania we served several years ago in an interim pastoral role. One evening he was out with his family on their porch watching their resident toad peeking through the flowers in the planter. He came up with the “bright” idea of feeding the toad a few bugs. Fireflies were abundant so he fed the toad some fireflies which were readily devoured. Then an amazing thing happened; the toad lit up from the inside! Jesse excitedly told me that he could see the lights flashing through the thin layer of the toad’s skin. His family all watched in amazement.

Jesse’s father, Scott, observed that the light of Christ shining through us is a result of feeding on the Word.  Today may we all truly let our light shine so that others may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven! (See Matthew 5:16.)

Let there be lightThe Scriptures acknowledge God’s work in Creation when He said, “Let there be light.”  These are the very first recorded words of God in the entire Bible. It’s God’s nature to display His light and dispel the darkness.

As believers we have His light shining in our hearts. The same God who initially created light has “made His light shine in our hearts.” The purpose is “to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

This is an interesting verse that I don’t recall examining closely. (Sometimes for preachers it takes an illustration in search of a text to dig deeper!)  Another version reads, “He is the One Who made His light shine in our hearts. This brings us the light of knowing God’s shining-greatness which is seen in Christ’s face.”

May the Lord fill us all with the Light of His truth and may we shine brightly from within!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the light of Your love surrounds those who walk in the light. But You make Your light shine brightest when we’re surrounded by darkness. We don’t blend into the darkness but instead the light of Your love shines in stark contrast so that those walking in darkness can see the way to repentance through our changed lives. Even as we’re able to see God in the face of Christ, may the world see Christ in the face of believers all over this dark planet. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Today we not only have several chaplain visits to make but we will also be stopping by the Lancaster County Carriage & Antique Auction in Bird In Hand PA.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Shine On Us”  Video

“Light Of The World”  Video

“Shine, Jesus Shine”  Video

“This Little Light Of Mine”  Video

“Mighty To Save”  Video Hillsong

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Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Post-it Notes For The Soul”

Thursday, June 23, 2011
Donegal CreekDonegal Creek
The lavendar “weeds” along the creek are butterfly weeds and will soon be teeming with butterflies.

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“Post-it Notes For The Soul”
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things” (2 Peter 1:12-15).

Post-it noteOne of the great office inventions in our lifetime has been the Post-it® note, a small piece of stationery with a re-positional strip of adhesive on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces.  Post-it notes are most commonly 3-inch square and canary yellow in color, although they now come in many colors and designs. A unique low-tack adhesive allows the notes to be easily attached and removed without leaving marks or residue. This is one illustration the majority of our readers can identify with since most have used Post-it notes.

But relatively few people are aware of the role of the hymnal and a church choir in the history of the Post-it note! You see, the Post-it® Note was invented as a solution before there was a problem. Dr. Spencer Silver developed a unique, repositional adhesive, but the 3M scientist didn’t know what to do with his discovery. Then, six years later another scientist, Art Fry, a colleague of Dr. Silver, remembered the light adhesive when he was daydreaming about a bookmark that would stay put in his church hymnal without damaging the page. The rest is history.

Post-it note remindersWe use them extensively in our own home office and we see them a lot in the course of our business chaplaincy as well. In fact I would say they are practically ubiquitous. Joe, a marketing and communication specialist in one of our companies, may be one of the heavier users as can be seen in the photo on the right. His desktop is plastered with post-it note reminders!

As we get older we tend to be more forgetful and may speak of “senior moments” or “data overload” as a younger friend describes it. I saw a little abbreviation on a plaque on a desk that read, “I have CRS”. Curiously, I asked the older man sitting at his desk, “What does CRS mean?” Is it referring to a disease or disorder that is known by its abbreviations such as TS (tourette syndrome) and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). He chuckled as he pointed out, “The initials stand for Can’t Remember Stuff.”

Photo of Doug getting Spanish language reminders!But memory issues aren’t related just to seniors. Doug Matangelo grew up in the church I pastored in northern Pennsylvania.  This photo illustrates the frustration he experienced as a young man while preparing for mission service in Peru. He was having a hard time grasping the Spanish language so his teacher is (figuratively) hammering it into his “hard” head.

As we get older we generally deal with short-term memory loss (like forgetting where we put our wallet, coffee cup, car keys, cell phone, etc.)  These are increasingly common sources of minor frustration in our home as we transition through life’s cycles. Apparently a different part of our brain is used for long-term memory and it is not necessarily related. My mom had a serious fall resulting in a major head injury when she was 78 years old. During her recovery we were advised to expect the greatest impact would be her short-term memory and that proved to be true.

We all need certain prompts to keep us on track, like using Post-it notes. Today we want to share about the most important memory prompts, reminders of spiritual truths, which we will call “Post-it notes for the soul”!

PhylacteriesIn the first daily text Moses shares some ideas regarding primitive post-it notes used to help the people remember spiritual truths. They are known as phylacteries. The Law of Moses prescribed the wearing of phylacteries to serve as a constant reminder of God’s Holy Word. These were small boxes containing slips of parchment on which were written portions of the Law. They were worn ostentatiously by the Jews on the head or left arm. In fact among the orthodox Jews they are still used to this day.

The closest I relate to anything like this was during the years of Bible College. I, along with other Greek and Hebrew students, often walked around with a ring of index cards that had the Greek or Hebrew words we were learning. We would thumb through these cards repetitively while standing in the long cafeteria line. It was a good way to memorize the Greek language and an efficient way to use free time.

Post-it note Scripture In the second text although Peter was confident his readers not only knew the truths he had shared but were also established in them. Nevertheless he pledged to be steadfast in reminding them of these things. He was determined to “make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”  That’s a faithful minister!

Today we consider the nature of post-it notes for the soul. Actually in our own home these may very well be literal post-it notes with a Scripture verse that serve as a memorization aid. However in a spiritual sense we need to consider God-ordained means which will keep us on the right path.

Let us list several that we believe serve as these post-it notes for the soul:

  • Daily time in God’s Word and prayer.
  • Resources such as books, music, magazines, radio programs, internet sources and so forth that build up our faith.
  • Faithful attendance in a Bible believing church.
  • Restricting influences that tend to draw us away from spiritual things and a godly outlook.  There are many influences that we must fully eliminate, but in reality there are situations such as an unbelieving household or work situations that are out of our control, so we must ask God to guard our hearts and minds from ungodly influences in these matters, seek to be a solid witness and declare I John 4:4, “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit that enabled the writers of Scripture to record that which would show us the way to You through Your Son, Jesus. The words of Scripture not only show us the way to salvation but guide us in our life’s journey.  May Your Words be impressed upon our hearts as we give regular attention to them through reading and memorizing the Scriptures, participating in Bible Studies, listening to godly leaders expound Your Word, teaching them to our children.  We don’t want a casual attitude about Your Holy Word, but rather we want to be earnest students of Your  Word contending always for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints. Amen.

Additional thought: I have on occasion taught a senior class. Most class members have been believers for many years and are familiar with the teachings of the Bible. I realize particularly with this group my function as a teacher is to remind and reinforce truths they already know and spur them on to faithfulness toward God. Certainly I hope that I periodically share a new insight or perspective on an old truth but I am fundamentally committed to “earnestly contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). I am not interested in tickling ears (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Let me ask you a question as a maturing believer (if we are a believer we should all be in the process of maturing whether young or old in age).  How do you respond when you receive teaching that you are familiar with?  Among some I have noticed a critical spirit expressed by a cavalier, “I already know that” attitude, while many clamor after “new teachings”.  I so appreciate those who have a sweet, receptive spirit and accept the reminders of truth with joy often declaring a hearty “amen”. That’s how I want to be as I “mature” in years and Christian experience.  May old well-known truths bring reassurance and refreshing to my inner soul.

Post-it note thank youPost-it notes are also used to express a brief word of thankfulness, encouragement and blessing! We received this note awhile back from friends in Ohio.  In fact we often get post-it notes from our daily encouragement readers.

Today’s photo of Joe’s computer and desk area plastered with Post-it notes reminds me of several other interesting computer setups we see in the course of our work.

Kenton with dual 30 inch monitors
Kenton is a CAD designer who uses two 30 inch monitors mounted to his desk via a post on each side so the area below the monitors is completely open. It’s the “coolest” system I’ve see so far.

Keith with vertical monitor
Keith works as a purchasing manager using a large vertically oriented monitor with the windows stacked on top of each other rather than side by side. Note that Keith also uses Post-it notes!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Remember Me”  Video  Steve Camp

“Communion”  Video  Third Day

“Draw Me”  Video  Keith Green

“Take Time To Be Holy”  Video  Collingsworth Family

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

Finally today: These two frames are from the page about the history of the the Post-it® Note.
Post-it note history
Post-it note history

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)

“Elbow Room”

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lapp wall flower arrangement
This hanging planter sets a colorful contrast to the peeling paint on the side of this summer kitchen on an Amish farm near Strasburg, PA.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Elbow Room”

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).  “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

Peter and Lillian DeHart are friends of ours who serve in nursing home ministry. Now we may tend to think the last place to expect any excitement in ministry would be at a nursing home but such is not the case as we also can testify.

Sunday afternoon they were providing a service to the residents of a local nursing home when they had a rather memorable experience.  As they were setting up for the service a ruckus broke out among two of the elderly residents.

One lady in her late eighties customarily brings her small poodle with her but was told that she could not have the dog in the dining area where the service is held.  Well, she insisted on bringing it anyway which prompted a confrontation between her and another senior “saint” in her late nineties who insisted the dog was not to be in the service. Peter testifies that she actually set aside her walker prepared to deliver a “swing” aimed at denying a lady the opportunity to bring her dog to the service! (Thankfully intervention arrived before the swing was delivered.)

Peter’s Bible lesson he prepared was titled “Elbow Room” and was about the coming glories of heaven with its untold, limitless and unending supply of “ELBOW ROOM!!!”

He observes: “The incident, amusing and disturbing as it was, never-the-less teaches a lesson about the Christian life and relationships among believers. “ELBOW ROOM”, that most desired and longed for portion of the freedom of heaven, where we will be able to sprawl about and endlessly enjoy the presence of God, is probably best reserved for those coming realms of glory. Setting aside our “walker” and preparing to attain what we want at the cost of someone else is indeed contrary to the way of the Spirit of God. How much more effective, the word softly spoken, the soft word which turns away wrath.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it seems that until we draw our last breath the devil continues to entice us to sin, whether it is in attitude or actions.  Oh, how the world to evil allures me! Oh how my heart is tempted to sin!  And yet as we go to You in earnest prayer and follow Your commands in Scripture, You enable us to overcome the allurement to sin and adhere to Scripture so that sin no longer masters us.  We thank You for making a way of escape when we are tempted to sin.  Amen.

More Photos From
Intercourse Heritage Days

Last Saturday we attended the Intercourse Heritage Days in eastern Lancaster County. Intercourse is a small rural village right smack in the middle of Amish country and of course due to it’s unusual name and location it’s very popular with tourists.

Souped up buggy at Intercourse Heritage Days 2011
We showed another view of this souped up buggy in yesterday’s message. I wonder if the father and his boys who are looking it over are wondering what it would be like to have this for their buggy!

Souped up buggy at Intercourse Heritage Days 2011
It won first prize at the car show. By the way it has a valid Pennsylvania license plate and is street legal! Perhaps it will soon be in this scene.

Volleyball tournament at Intercourse Heritage Days 2011
The Festival Days featured a volleyball tournament with 30 teams (28 Amish, 2 Mennonite) and the level of play was very competitive and intense. These Amish boys may not have sport’s conditioning in the sense most athletes do, but a week of hard, manual work on the farm or shop is at least equal!

Ryan and Friends at Intercourse Heritage Days 2011
Ryan is a local ventriloquist and was the headliner show Saturday afternoon at the Intercourse Heritage Days. The smiles on the children’s faces justify a larger version of this picture here!

Tractors at Intercourse Heritage Days 2011
Any show like this features a large collection of tractors.

Police car at Intercourse Heritage Days 2011
This car immediately brought a recollection of a sheriff’s car in a show we watched while growing up in the sixties!

Truck at Intercourse Heritage Days 2011

Parade at Intercourse Heritage Days 2011
Here’s a photo of the Heritage Days parade.*

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Beloved Let Us Love One Another”  Video  Jack Marti

“I Must Tell Jesus”  Video  Candi Staton

Intercourse Heritage Days    Intercourse PA is located here (Google map)

* About 50 years ago!

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/31/10)