Devotional

“But As For You, Continue”

Hibiscus bloom 8/5/19

Hibiscus bloom.
 

“But As For You, Continue
 

Message summary: Today, we urge you to continue in your personal resolve to faithfulness.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

Recently a prominent former minister/author made the news with the announcement that he had departed from Christianity and essentially renounced much of what he had formerly believed and taught. Blogger Chelsen Vicari observes, I believe correctly, “Perhaps it is better for him to denounce the faith altogether (and hopefully temporarily) than to distort it and mislead another generation of young Evangelicals.”

This is always disappointing but should not be surprising. It has happened all through my lifetime. I recall about ten years ago when a long-time favoriteChristian singer/songwriter departed from the faith and embraced the “alternate” lifestyle.

This has been the case all through the church age going back to the New Testament period. A verse that many of us have probably not purposefully memorized is from Matthew 24:10 where Jesus said concerning the last times, “At that time many will turn away from the faith”. This falling away was demonstrated by Paul’s ministry associate Demas who had deserted Paul because he loved this present world (2 Timothy 4:10).

Paul spoke of this in 1 Timothy 1:19,20 in a somber challenge to Timothy (and us), “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme”. Like Timothy our somber calling is to “hold faith and a good conscience”.

But today let us consider a challenge to continue in just the first portion of today’s Scripture text. We’ll examine more from this passage on Thursday and Friday.

“But as for you.”
This sets up an emphatic contrast with the evil men and impostors described in the previous verse (2 Timothy 3:13) . In that time and today many will plunge deeper and deeper into the cesspool of deception and darkness. But Timothy is to stand firm on the solid rock of God’s unchanging word. This verse begins with the emphatic “you”. The man of God must pay careful attention to himself in aligning with the Scriptures if he is to resist the enticing lure of doctrinal and moral infidelity. As opposition increases, the Scriptures become the believer’s reliance and bulwark.

Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.” Today let us just consider the word “continue” which most Bible versions use. Other versions render it “Keep on being faithful” (CEV), “But you must keep on believing” (TLB).

It is in the present imperative and calls for a constant, habitual way of life. Bible teacher William Kelly translates the word, “continue” as “stand by”. He comments that “Perhaps one of the severest tests of a believer’s character and loyalty is to ‘stand by’ the side of known truth while alluring and scintillating heresies are paraded in front of us. It is no small feat to remain faithful to God’s eternal Word throughout one’s lifetime and many there are who have left its ranks.” *

God spoke to wayward Israel through the prophet Jeremiah, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Today, we urge you to continue in your personal resolve to faithfulness.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we thank You for the godly people who have taught us unchanging eternal truths of Scripture. Not only did they teach us by instruction but they taught us by their consistent example. Like Timothy, we want to continue in what we have learned and become convinced of, because we know those from whom we learned the Holy Scriptures which are able to make us wise for salvation through our faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.

* Kelly died on March 27, 1906. Shortly before his death, he said “There are three things real — the Cross, the enmity of the world, the love of God.”


Monarch butterfly 8/7/19 Photo by Ed CarocciEd, a reader from northern PA sent this photo.
He was one of several alert readers who are Lepidopterologists and pointed out that yesterday’s butterfly photos were of a Swallowtail butterfly not a Monarch. I’ll have to blame Brooksyne for that one. I had written “butterfly” in the caption and she added Monarch when she edited! (Brooksyne’s excuse:  I like to be specific when possible but thought after I wrote “monarch” that I wasn’t certain. Intending to look it up I walked away from the message and, zoom, Stephen sent it off. It came to me again later that morning but I knew a careful reader would correct my work if I was wrong, and wrong I was! Thanks, Ed and other observant readers.)

Neighborhood produce stand 8/6/19 Click to enlarge
We sure enjoy our neighborhood produce wagon which offers fresh home-grown fruits and vegetables at a very reasonable price. The wagon uses the honor system with shoppers dropping off their money in a slotted enclosure. We are also blessed by the expression of faith on the sign. “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell on the Lord and feed on His faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3).
Click to enlarge

Tomatoes 8/6/19
One of our favorite summer dishes is a plate of sliced tomatoes garnished with feta cheese, bacon and basil. Today we’ll enjoy it again with a little balsamic vinegar sprinkled on top.

Pets 8/5/19
In this photo it appears that our young 7 month old puppy, Sadie (left), is sharing some juicy gossip with Roxie, who will turn 15 this October.
 
Audreys 8/6/19
Early yesterday morning, in our chaplaincy role, we visited Audreys “Your Heart’s Delight”, a wholesale distributor of home decor items. Brooksyne was amused and puzzled by this sight. It looks like some stuffed animals are at a protest. See below.

Steven Shanley 8/6/19
We meet a lot of people and everyone has a story.  The third worksite we visited yesterday uses a lot of temp workers; with many of them getting back into the work force after being in some type of trouble. We’ve visited Steven for several weeks now and yesterday heard some of his story and he gave us permission to share it on DE. He was released from prison last October after many, many years of incarceration having first went to jail at 15. We talked with him about his mother who is now about 90 years old and Brooksyne asked, “How often did you see your mother while in prison?” Without hesitation he responded, “She came to visit me every week.” You could see in his expression how meaningful it was to have such a loving, devoted mother continuing to be supportive even during his years of incarceration. Steven is a few months younger than me and a few months older than Brooksyne. We encouraged him to place his faith in Christ and set out to live the remainder of his life to honor God.


 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Faith To Be Strong”  Video  Andrew Peterson   Brooksyne’s Note: We dedicate this song to several friends going through critical health challenges. I heard “Faith to Be Strong” on the radio this morning for the first time and it spoke to my heart in such an impassioned way, especially the following line: “Give us faith to be strong and strength to be faithful. This life is not long, but it’s hard.”
 
I believe the words will be of blessing to you if you’re enduring an ongoing trial or you know someone else who needs to hear these words.  Andrew Peter, who sings and wrote this song, came to our attention with the song he wrote, “Is He Worthy”. We have featured that in the past.
 
“Build My Life”  Video  Calvary Church worship team from Sunday’s service (includes short intro)
 
“Legacy”  Video  A great followup to yesterday’s message. A tremendous missions story.
 
Study notes on today’s text from Precept Austin Bible Commentary

Finally today: Yesterday’s aerial photo was over the central valley in California.

 
Audreys snowmen 8/6/19From the photo above the shopping carts had what looked like stuffed protestors holding up blank signs. Once Brooksyne turned a cart around we saw that it was snowmen holding signs, “Winter Blessing and Let It Snow”! One of the distinctions of a four season warehouse is that you see items all the time that are not necessarily in sync with the season you walk through.
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Devotional

“Our Spiritual Lineage”

Butterfly on sunflower 8/1/19 (photo by Ester)Ester snapped a photo of this monarch butterfly on one of our many back yard sunflowers.
“Our Spiritual Lineage”

Message summary: Our spiritual lineage is a valuable part of who we are. We can all look back to those who made an impact on our life. Now we devote our life to Christ and seek to pass our faith along to others. Let us be found faithful!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).


MaMa & PaPaMaMa & PaPa

George Washington Steincross and Nellie Mae Steincross (Charles)
 
Attending our Steincross family reunion last week caused consideration of and appreciation for my lineage. These are the descendants of my grandparents on my Mom’s side. We all can do that and hopefully most of us can do so with appreciation. My grandpa left a positive mark not only on his family but on his community. He was born the son of a recent immigrant from Germany in 1882 and did very well in America as a farmer. He also, for many years, was the president of the small town “Bank Of Harwood”. Some 25 years after his death I stopped by a service station in a neighboring small town and the owner still recalled my grandpa. His descendants, now numbering in the hundreds, have done very well and still gather annually for a family reunion nearly 50 years after his death in 1971.
 
Each of us has a spiritual lineage as we look back and remember those who impacted our life, some more pronounced than others. Many of you can recall the very person who led you to the Lord. For others there are scores of believers who have poured into our lives, helping us to walk in the way of righteousness, as they spurred us on to love and good works in Christ.

Brooksyne can trace her spiritual lineage to her grandpa and grandma who lived very simple lives on a mountain top in northwest Arkansas. To get to their place we drive off the interstate (I-40) for some 25 miles on a paved state highway up the mountain and then drive back on a road along the ridge for about 5 miles to another dirt turnoff lane about 2 miles back. To say it’s remote is an understatement, though in recent years there are more families who’ve made their home on this mountain including Brooksyne’s kin folks!

Her paternal grandparents were both still living when we first met and for the first several years of our marriage. They lived in a small cabin-like home and he farmed the rocky soil with a mule team. When we would visit her grandpa would call the family together each evening in the living room. Since he had great difficulty reading he would always ask one of the family members to read a chapter of the Bible. Following the Scripture reading everyone would kneel as we prayed prior to going to bed. My, did he pray in a passionate way! I specifically recall his burden for the lost members of the family as he prayed that they would be saved so they wouldn’t go “down, down, down.”

Grandpa's Bible (Brooksyne's grandpa)That was nearly 40 years ago. He died in 1981 and when Brooksyne’s dad died in 2000 she inherited her grandpa’s very worn leather-bound Bible. Looking through it one sees abundant evidence of his dynamic faith and interest in ongoing spiritual growth. Many Bible sections are page-marked by white medical tape he would use, now worn and browned.


In the daily text the Apostle Paul is reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith. This sincere faith “lived” first in his grandmother and mother, who apparently passed the faith on to Timothy. Paul even names them “
your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice”.

 
Paul was persuaded that this sincere faith lived in Timothy as well. I am persuaded, now lives in you also
 
A few verses later, Paul commissions Timothy with this charge, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Timothy had a lineage and was to be part of the lineage of others.

Our spiritual lineage is a valuable part of who we are. We can all look back to those who, like Brooksyne’s grandparents, made an impact on us. Now we devote our life to Christ and seek to pass our faith along to others. Let us be found faithful in doing so!

 
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we thank You for those who have shown us the way of salvation both by their lifestyle and by the biblical principles they espouse. Just as Paul was reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith, which first lived in his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice and now was evident in Timothy, may we also pass down to those whom we influence the way to eternal life. Just as we have a spiritual lineage we want to be a lineage to others so that they may follow Christ all their days. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 
Brooksyne with her grandpaBrooksyne’s note: Here’s a photo of me in my junior year of college with my Grandpa Elbert Sherrell beside Horsehead Lake (Google map) in Arkansas. He and Grandma had a practice of gathering each night in the living room of their small four room mountain home and reading Scripture aloud before kneeling in prayer. Whether you were a visitor or not you were expected to drop whatever you were doing and join them for devotions. Precious memories!
 
While I was on the mountain, over Memorial Day weekend for the Sherrell reunion this year, I attended my cousin’s church and he preached on Hebrews 11 about the cloud of witnesses. He (George) told a story about how he, as a young boy, would often ride on the wagon with Grandpa as he plowed the fields with his team of mules. George said it was not unusual for Grandpa to be plowing a field and then suddenly yell, “Woe, Nellie; woe Rhodie” while he pulled back on the mule’s reins. He would then jump down from the wagon and say, “George, I feel like we need to pray.” And pray they did – it left a tremendous spiritual legacy for my cousin to follow. Coincidentally George and his wife just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary over the weekend!

I had two grandfathers: Elbert and Elmer. Their names are similar but their lives stood in great contrast. The name, Elbert, brings a smile from deep within my heart while the name, Elmer, stirs up sorrow and heartache from past memories. If you care to you can read that story here.
 


Butterfly and bee on sunflower 8/1/19 (photo by Ester)This butterfly and bee are demonstrating the virtue of sharing on this sunflower
(photo by Ester)

Morning sunflowers 8/5/19
Early in the morning our sunflowers point toward the sun except for one, who must have missed the memo!

Kraybill Church Road flowers 7/31/19
Harvesting zinnias on the Cramers Farm commercial flower farm here on Kraybill Church Road.

Kraybill Church Road Amish school 8/2/19
Progress being made on our new Kraybill Church Road Amish school just up the road from the flower farm. I expect it will be ready for the new school year in several weeks.

Amish field work 8/2/19

Across from the school our neighbor was concentrating on his field work.
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“What You Leave Behind”  Video  The Talleys
 
Finally today:
 
Several of our readers have enjoyed these aerial mystery quizzes so here’s another one:

Mystery photo 7/22/19
Where is this?
Devotional

“Making Known The Unknown God”

Lancaster County farmhouse 7/30/19 (Click to enlarge) Last week Brooksyne passed this Lancaster County farmhouse with two features she really likes; a white picket fence and lots of flowers! She turned the car around, went back and took several photos. It’s amazing what a white fence and summer flowers can do to dress up the house and property.
Click on photo to enlarge
“Making Known The Unknown God”

Message summary: Today we appeal to a world where to so many Jesus is an unknown God. God created within our inmost being the need to follow after One greater than ourselves. Of course He desires that we worship Him not in ignorance, but in Spirit and in Truth. And the way we follow the only true God is to open His Word to our hearts making it a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Then Paul stood up on Mars’ Hill and said, ‘Men of Athens, I see how very religious you are in every way. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you'” (Acts 17:22,23).

Traveling across the West last week we crossed several mountain ranges; the Sierra Nevada in California/Nevada, the Wasatch Range in Utah and finally the tallest, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, with peaks over 14,000 feet above sea level. Here in Pennsylvania we have mountains but not nearly the elevation as out West. Pennsylvania’s highest point is Mount Davis which is a mere 3,213 feet.

Today let us consider preaching points in the Bible which are called hills or mountains. Elijah preached on Mount Carmel* (1 Kings 18); Jesus preached the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7) and in today’s text “Paul stood up on Mars’ Hill”. The gotquestions.org site describes this Mars’ Hill,

 
Rising some 377 feet above the land below and not far from the Acropolis and Agora (marketplace), it was an important meeting place where philosophy, religion, and law were discussed.
 
It was here that Paul proclaimed to his hearers a message about the “unknown god“.

“Men of Athens, I see how very religious you are in every way.” The Athenians were the intellectually elite of that age. An interesting parenthetical description in verse 21 states, “Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.” (SCW commentary: It seems to me that’s what a lot of “intellectual elites” do to this day!)

“For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god.” Being carefully observant Paul sought to connect by appealing to an altar he had seen with this inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD”. Apparently the Athenians just wanted to make sure they had all their bases covered so they erected a generic altar for a god they didn’t know, just in case they missed one!

“Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.” Paul used his observation to his advantage and proclaimed this “unknown” God to them in the verses that followed:

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-28).

Today we appeal to a world where to so many Jesus is an unknown God. God created within our inmost being the need to follow after One greater than ourselves. Of course He desires that we worship Him not in ignorance, but in Spirit and in Truth. And the way we follow the True God is to open His Word to our hearts making it a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we thank You for those who go to the uttermost parts of the world and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, making known the “unknown God” to the people of that land. From the very beginning You created a hunger within our hearts to serve you, but far too many misfeed that hunger and instead “worship gold, silver or stone, images from the art and thoughts of man”. Instead we choose to feed that hunger by loving You with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are grateful for the wooing of Your Holy Spirit that convicts us our sin and reveals Your great love to us. Thank You for making Yourself known to us in Your Word, in nature, in our spirit, and in the experiences of everyday life. Amen.

 


* Mount Carmel as a “high place,” was long a center of idol worship, and its outstanding reference in the Bible is as the scene of Elijah’s confrontation with the false prophets of Baal (I Kings 18).

Way up into Maine, far farther than most people ever venture, is sprawling Aroostook County. Along US 1 there is a small town called Mars Hill named for Hezekiah Mars, who camped for three years at the base of what is now Mars Hill Mountain. About twenty-five years ago a friend let us stay there in his vacation home for several days. It’s a rather remote area with not a lot to do. Interestingly, it’s an agricultural area with lots of potatoes and kind of a Bible Belt area, unusual for New England at this point in history.

There is college and town in North Carolina with the name Mars Hill which was named after the Biblical Mars Hill.

Missionaries Mike and Lori Cassel shared about a church in Mexico with an interesting name. The Spanish name is “Al Dios No Conocido” which means “The Unknown God” Church. The earnest Mexican pastor named it after our daily text and Mike shared that he had some reservations about the name but didn’t want to interfere with the nationals. It occurred to me a name like this can create a compelling witness opportunity!


 
Baby pig 8/2/19Brooksyne holding a wiggly, squealing piglet last Friday morning on the Old Windmill Farm.
 
Lake Tahoe in distance 7/23/19 Click to enlarge
A view of Lake Tahoe in the distance from the Sierra Nevada range on US Route 50.
Click to enlarge
Lake Tahoe inspiration point 7/23/19 Click to enlarge
Lake Tahoe Inspiration Point over Emerald Bay with a view of the lake’s only island. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, and at 122,160,280 acre ft, trails only the five Great Lakes as the largest by volume in the United States. Its depth is 1,645 ft, making it the second deepest in the United States after Crater Lake in Oregon (1,949 ft). It does not empty into the ocean but rather flows into the Great Basin to Pyramid Lake in Nevada where the water evaporates.
Click to enlarge

Kregel Windmill Company office 7/30/19
The office at the Kregel Windmill factory in Nebraska City, NE. The owner, Arthur Kregel, son of the founder, worked here into his nineties. He left one day in 1991 for lunch, had a stroke and never returned. The museum has left the shop and office exactly as he left it reminding me of Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Family Home here in Lancaster County. See here for a Daily Encouragement message we wrote titled “Decumulation”.

Pump mailbox in Solano County California 7/23/19
Traveling through our area we often see creative mailboxes and posts. This photo was taken in a rural part of Solano County California between San Francisco and Sacramento.


 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Unknown God”  Video  David Andrews

“Yours”  Video  Calvary Church worship team from yesterday’s service

Calvary Church Hoang Commissioning Interview Video  Peter and Sarah are a Vietnamese couple who arrived in the country as as young children refugees in the seventies having escaped Vietnam among the boat people. They are now returning to serve as missionaries seeking to make known the unknown God. Yesterday a quote was used from this interview that is very stunning to us. Peter’s mother couldn’t understand why he would go back when they had left for a better life. He shared this:

 

Peter Hoang quote 8/4/19

 
Finally today: Friday’s mystery photo was taken over Chicago.
Devotional

“Kindness And Love”

Utah Canyon 7/25/19 A scenic portion of Utah
“Kindness And Love”

Message summary: Let us accept God’s kindness and love with gratitude and live as His children expressing kindness and love to others.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

My brother and I had a rather eventful experience during our journey across the country last week. Michael is 74 and is now experiencing some health challenges. Living at sea level (he has a view of the Pacific Ocean from his San Francisco apartment) he is not used to high altitudes and neither am I, living at a breath-taking 360 feet above sea level here in Lancaster County.

Michael had oxygen with him but as we climbed Vail Pass in Colorado at nearly 11,000 feet he did not have it running. I was feeling light-headed myself and Michael was really struggling so we pulled over in a truck rest area at the top of the pass to put his oxygen on. He stepped out of the car and fainted face down. I couldn’t rouse him at all and for a heart stopping moment I actually feared he had died. I managed to call 911 and thankfully the phone worked.

Within minutes three truck drivers came over to help. Their kindness was astounding as I was kind of a mess myself. Michael finally did rouse so they got him up in a chair and worked on his oxygen, rendering helpful aid until the official help arrived. What a blessing these three men were; a black man, a Latino man and a big white Italian man, none who knew each other, working together to help in this random act of kindness to two old men* crossing the country.

 
Michael was transported by ambulance to Vail Hospital and after an examination and breathing treatment he was released several hours later with his oxygen working. We resumed our journey without incident although I was sure relieved to get off the high elevations to the relatively low elevation in Denver.

Today we want to consider another act of kindness. But it wasn’t a random act.
It was eternally deliberate, decidedly purposeful and lovingly planned. The daily portion of Scripture surely contains some of the richest theological truths in the entire Bible. Every phrase is rich and loaded with truth.

It begins, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared”. The Greek word for kindness “chrestotes” is used rather infrequently in the New Testament, and only five times does it refer to a characteristic of God. Theologian Charles Hodge points out that “God’s grace is manifested through His kindness towards us, and that kindness is exercised through Christ and for His sake. The ground of this goodness is not in us but in Christ, and hence its character as grace, or unmerited favor.”

Isn’t it wonderful that one of the eternal qualities used to describe the God of the Universe is “kindness”!  In fact one of the richest expressions of His kindness is found in a teaching in the gospels that can be easily overlooked, since it primarily deals with our love for one another.

Jesus, in teaching that we are to love even our enemies, describes the Most High as “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). All over the world today His kindness is being demonstrated even to the ungrateful and wicked, many whom defiantly deny Him. God’s own kindness is without measure.

Christ’s willingness to offer Himself to save the lost world shows the extent of God’s kindness. As God’s chosen children we are to imitate His kindness in our relationship with others. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

Let us accept His kindness and love with gratitude and live as His children expressing kindness and love to others.

How kind and gracious is the Lord, how kind and gracious is the Lord.
He my ev’ry need provides, my soul is satisfied.
How kind and gracious is the Lord.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, throughout Scripture You show us practical ways that we can show kindness to others. Though it is easier to show it to some more than others, You command us to show kindness to all people, both friend and foe. Help us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to treat others as we want to be treated, to consider others before we consider ourselves, and to give of ourselves without expecting anything in return. When we do these acts of kindness it will give us opportunity to represent You, Father, as an obedient vessel through which Your Spirit flows. Flow through me today.  Amen.


* I’m really not that old but consider how old 64 seemed when I was in my twenties!
My father-in-law Brooklyn Sherrell (now deceased) drove a truck for 40 years and frequently stopped to help people whose car was broken down. On occasion this got him into trouble since taking the time to help others in need was not on his work schedule. Deliveries needed to be on time. Sometimes he would take the people home with him whose car was in repair.

Once while Brooksyne was attending Bible College in Missouri a group of young people were broken down in Tulsa and Brooklyn towed their car so it could be fixed. As a way of expressing thankfulness they gave him a 10 speed bicycle and some Christian record albums. Brooklyn passed on the bicycle and albums to Brooksyne and she remembers this incident very well. There’s a lot of evil in the world, but there’s also a lot of “random acts of kindness” taking place for which we are thankful.


 
Today I will share some more photos from my trip across the western states.

Bonneville Salt Flats 7/25/19
I drove out on a long road to the Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah. This was in some of the most desolate land I’ve ever seen.

Cold Shivers Point, near Grand Junction CO 7/26/19 (Click to enlarge)
Appropriately named “Cold Shivers Point” is in the Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction CO. No one was on it when I took this photo but a photo search reveals people will stand out on this rock to have their photo taken, which indeed gives me the cold shivers!
(Click to enlarge)

Glenwood Hot Springs pool, CO 7/26/19 (Click to enlarge)
The Glenwood Hot Springs pool cost $28.00 to swim in. We chose to stay dry!
(Click to enlarge)

I-70, CO 7/26/19 (Click to enlarge)
This stretch along I-70 took some creative engineering and great expense since it ran through a narrow canyon along the Colorado River.
(Click to enlarge)
 
The Golden Spike observation tower near North Platte, NE 7/28/19 (Click to enlarge)
The Golden Spike observation tower near North Platte, Nebraska looks out over Bailey Yard, the world’s largest railroad classification yard.
(Click to enlarge)
 
Kregel Windmill factory, Nebraska City, NE 7/30/19
I enjoyed a tour through the Kregel Windmill factory museum in Nebraska City.
Here’s an interesting video
 
Steincross family 7/30/19
The Steincross family are the descendants of George Washington (PaPa) and Nelly Mae (MaMa) Steincross, my (Stephen’s) grandparents. They passed away in the early seventies and my aunts and uncle started a reunion in 1975 to stay connected since even at that time we were spread all over the country. We had our 45th family reunion early this week. Now all the aunts and uncles are passed on and we cousins (MaMa and PaPa’s grandchildren) are aging (of course!) The youngest attendees at the reunion were great, great, great grandchildren.
(Click to enlarge)
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Kindness”  Video  Chris Tomlin
 
“Show A Little Bit of Love And Kindness”  Video  The Collingsworth Family
 
Finally today: Yesterday’s mystery photo was on the approach to the San Francisco airport looking over the Silicon Valley. If you look carefully you can see the distinctive Apple headquarters which we visited last fall.

Mystery photoToday’s mystery photo probably will not be hard for most readers to identify.
Devotional

“Abounding In Thanksgiving”

Hummingbird 7/27/19

Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird
I, Brooksyne, snapped a photo of this hummingbird while I was sitting on the front porch talking to my sister in Texas. It flew right in front of me unexpectedly so I said, “Elaine, hold on for a minute!” I snapped the photo and apologized to her for making her hold. I explained and before I finished she said, “I knew you saw a bird!”  Our families know us well don’t they! The male hummingbird came right after I took this photo but flitted about so much I couldn’t snap his photo.

Note: Late last night I (Stephen) returned from a trip to my family reunion in Nebraska. I picked up my oldest brother Mike in San Francisco Monday 7/22/19 and we drove east to Nebraska over the next 6 days. I am very thankful to be home with my family, resuming and sharing our Daily Encouragement messages!

“Abounding In Thanksgiving”

 
Message summary: May God help us to abound with thanksgiving today!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6,7).

After ten days of travel I am thankful to be at home back in the country setting. My trip began in San Francisco the day of my arrival, Monday 7/22/19, although that very evening my brother Mike and I began heading east. A few hours in a big city, especially San Francisco, is enough for me! It was nice to pass through some of California’s rich farming areas on the way to Sacramento where we soon hit the Sierra foothills and then the mountains.

The music on my computer froze up while playing a song and it kept repeating, “Thank you, thank you, thank you”. Initially I became frustrated, but then the Spirit prompted me to pause and really listen to the repetitious message instead of dwelling on the technical problem. I did and gave thanks. The Bible talks about the trees and the rocks crying out to God, but on that day the Holy Spirit spoke to me through technology as the recording cried out, “Thank You, Thank You”.

Erma Bombeck was a writer and humorist, who later in life battled kidney disease and cancer. In 1992 she wrote, “An estimated 1.5 million people are living today after bouts with breast cancer. Every time I forget to feel grateful to be among them, I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christina, who had cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finally said, ‘I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!'”

That’s sure a great example of contentedness and thankfulness; two character qualities that are interrelated and lacking among so many of us today. One of the great sins against God is ingratitude. Yet it is so dominant today right in the midst of affluence and is actually predicted as a mark of the last times. (See 2 Timothy 3:1-5.)

In our daily verses Paul is reminding the Colossian believers of the necessary foundational steps in the Christian walk. Notice the key words: “received”, “walk”, “rooted”, “built up”, and “established in the faith”.

But today we want to focus on just a single phrase. Paul ends this section of Scripture with the appeal to be people “abounding in thanksgiving”. The Greek word used for abound means “to superabound.”

Paul writes here from a prison, surely a location very non-conducive to a thankful spirit.  He could so easily be in the dumps of despair and legitimately so, due to his unjust circumstances. But early on Paul had learned to praise God even while in prison (see Acts 16).  Earlier in the epistle he had himself expressed thankfulness to God for the Colossian believers. Indeed thankfulness is a major theme in Paul’s life.

Throughout His Word God regularly calls us to thankfulness. Erwin Lutzer observed, “You can learn to give thanks even if you don’t feel particularly thankful. If God gives a command, He expects obedience, whether you are in the mood or not. Thankfulness, like forgiveness, is not an emotion. Thankfulness is an intelligent response of gratitude to God.”

Amen! May God help us all to abound with thanksgiving today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, our blessings come from a variety of sources, but they originate from Your generous and loving interest on our behalf. You love to give! In fact, You gave the ultimate gift in the sacrifice of Your Son who took the penalty for our sins. When we consider the blessings of family, friends, work, food, and other daily comforts it stirs up a heart of gratitude. Help us to overflow in thanksgiving so that it spills out to those around us even in the midst of hardship or devastation. When the “norm” of life is turned upside down we, in faith, look more to You and can find blessings that we hadn’t considered on aroutine day. In the name of Jesus we praise and thank You, Amen.

 

 
Today and tomorrow I will share some photos from my trip.
 
Jelly Belly factory tour 7/23/19
I stopped by the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA.
One of my favorite traveling experiences is factory tours!
Tractor in Solano County California 7/23/19

A tractor in Solano County, California
California sunflower farm 7/23/19
Field of sunflowers near Vacaville, CA
Lake Tahoe inspiration point 7/23/19 Click to enlarge
Although most of our trip was straight through on interstate highways we did go around Lake Tahoe. This photo was taken at inspiration point.
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Train through tunnel in Nevada 7/24/19
Nevada was rather desolate but still beautiful in its own way. On I-80 we often drove along a train line that I was on, along with my Mom and sister, during my first trip to California back in the sixties. At that time we had taken the train out to see Mike and his wife Billie and their baby daughter Greta, the first grandchild. Mike’s wife died in the eighties from cancer and he has lived as a widower ever since. He wanted to drive east to the reunion and to see his daughter Greta, who is now in her fifties and lives with her family in Saint Louis. Greta and her husband Dean met us at the reunion in Nebraska.
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart”Video  Don Moen
 
Finally today:
Mystery photo 7/22/19 Click to enlargeCan you identify where this photo was taken and what this area (in the distance) is typically called?
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Devotional

“A Perspective On Forever”

Stump planter at the Oregon Dairy 7/14/19 (Click to enlarge)Stump Planter at the Oregon Dairy
(Click to enlarge)


Note: This morning I (Stephen) am headed to California to meet my older brother Michael. I left for the Baltimore airport at 3:30AM. He will pick me up at the San Francisco airport at 1:00 PM (Pacific time) and we will immediately begin a road trip east to a family reunion in eastern Nebraska, stopping numerous times along the way on the some 1,800 mile journey.

Mike recently turned 74 and wanted to drive to the reunion and then visit his daughter and family in Saint Louis, MO. I felt he might need/enjoy the company and extra driver for the long trip.

I hope to post a few brief daily encouragements during the journey using the Constant Contact app on our iPad and possibly update to WordPress site since there’s an app for that as well. However I am not taking the laptop so the website will not be updated during this time nor will we prepare a podcast. There’s probably an app for doing that but I haven’t found it, especially since I need a very simple WYSIWYG editor. However all that takes a lot more time.

 
We’ll head out early each morning and most days have 300-400 miles of travel. I will fly back from Omaha next week.

Brooksyne and Ester will be staying back in PA to manage the home front.

“A Perspective On Forever”

Message summary: He is forever God! Forever past, forever future. From everlasting to everlasting He is God.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (Psalm 90:2).

Years ago we visited family and friends in North Carolina and then stayed several days at a resort near Gatlinburg, Tennessee right on the border of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We were blessed by the immense beauty of the mountains.

A condition to our reduced cost resort lodging was that we had to endure a rather brutal 2 hour long time share sales pitch. The saleswoman had many years of experience and was quite persuasive throughout her presentation. (However we didn’t buy.)

Following our tour of the property she took us out on the balcony and pointed toward the breath-taking view of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She enthusiastically exclaimed, “Just look at this view. It will be here for your children and grandchildren forever.” (She was correctly pointing out that the undisturbed beauty of the preserved national park will remain that way, unlike the non-preserved hills all around Gatlinburg that are dotted with all kinds of development.)

However when she confidently used the word “forever” that struck me. I considered the true nature and definition of “forever” which is a whole lot longer than our kids and grandkids will be around on this tired earth! My thinking immediately took me to a more important locale than an attractive resort and even the grandeur of a beautiful mountain region created by God. How beautiful heaven must be!

How beautiful heaven must be
Sweet home of the happy and free;
Fair haven of rest for the weary,
How beautiful heaven must be.

Another song declares in the chorus, “My God He was, my God He is, my God He’s always gonna be.” As we, through faith, ride out the tumultuous waves of life’s ups and downs awaiting our time of transition we need to regularly recall this absolute truth, “From everlasting to everlasting You are God.”

Even before the mountains were born or God brought forth the earth and world, He was God. Psalm 90 was written by Moses and in this phrase he looks back to eternity past. He considers the creation account in Genesis 1 and the majestic phrase, “In the beginning”.

“From everlasting to everlasting You are God.” This truth is taught abundantly in the Scriptures. It expresses one of God’s attributes or characteristics known as His “eternality”. Theologically the eternality of God refers to His timeless nature. God has no beginning, and will have no end. This is one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity. Our God surpasses time as we define it here on earth.

The eternal, almighty God has revealed Himself to us and sent His only begotten Son to pay the price for our redemption as fallen sinners. He alone is from everlasting to everlasting. Let’s praise Him today and rest in His steadfast care, no matter the turbulence of life we face on this day or what lies ahead in future days!  He is forever God!

My Savior loves, my Savior lives
My Savior’s always there for me
My God He was, my God He is
My God He’s always gonna be

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Almighty God, all the universe declares Your glory who creates, sustains, and watches over Your creation. Though the earth will someday be destroyed You created us with a soul that will exist for all eternity. While the foundations are being destroyed here on earth we, the redeemed, find great comfort and immense hope in Your eternal foundation. It is from eternity past and will exist in eternity future, with no beginning and no end! Only a loving God like You would choose to include us in Your vast plan and find delight in us, in all our humanness. You are worthy to receive glory, honor, and praise in this life and for all eternity. Amen.

Further study:

A.W. Pink, a Bible teacher from the last century, wrote on this subject of eternality, which is very difficult to comprehend. Warning: this is very heavy material, but I believe it will bless you if you mentally trudge through it!

“In the beginning, God” (Genesis 1:1). There was a time, if ‘time’ it could be called, when God, in the unity of His nature (though subsisting equally in three Divine Persons), dwelt all alone. ‘In the beginning, God.’ There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested.  There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to sing His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but ‘from everlasting.’ During eternity past, God was alone: self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied; in need of nothing.  Had a universe, had angels, had human beings been necessary to Him in any way, they would also have been called into existence from all eternity. The creating of them when He did added nothing to God essentially. ‘He changes not’ (Malachi 3:6), therefore His essential glory can be neither augmented nor diminished. God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That He chose to do so was purely a sovereign act on His part, caused by nothing outside Himself, determined by nothing but His own mere good pleasure; for He ‘worketh all things after the counsel of His own will’ (Ephesians 1:11). That He did create was simply for His manifestative glory. God is no gainer even from our worship. He was in no need of that external glory of His grace that arises from His redeemed, for He is glorious enough in Himself without that. What was it that moved Him? It was, as Ephesians 1:5 tells us, ‘according to the good pleasure of His will’.”


John Keefer, a pastor friend, replied to Friday’s message concerning the first moon landing with this memory: “I remember well 50 years ago when I was 18 when my grandmother lived with us. I was upstairs with her when we heard the news of men walking on the moon. I was excited but Grandma flatly stated, “I don’t believe it. If God wanted us on the moon He’d have put us there.” Nothing said would change her mind.


Luis with new office floor 7/20/19Luis is a man we see in the course of our chaplaincy visits who works at White Oak Display and Design, a company that designs flooring displays. He installed our new laminate floor and also assisted me with several other home projects the last several weeks. He is a follower of Christ.
 
This room had been a single stall garage when we moved into our home in 2002. Later that year we converted it into a room for Stephen’s mom which she used till she died in 2005. (That’s why it has the fridge and sink.) Since 2006 we have used it as our home office.
 
New office floor 7/21/19
Here’s a photo of our office with our new floor. The large glass area is where the garage door had been. As you can see we have a very nice view outside, although with the heat and bright sun we are keeping the blinds closed!
 
Amish elevator 7/18/19
In rural Lancaster County you never know what type of traffic you will come upon. Last Thursday we saw this Amish farmer moving his elevator north of New Holland, PA.
 
Kraybill Church Road Amish school 7/19/19
We have an Amish one room schoolhouse being built here on Kraybill Church Road. The Amish men are gathering to build the school and that explains why we have seen an increase in wagon traffic the last several weeks.
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“How Beautiful Heaven Must Be”  Video  Mitchel Jon
 
“My Savior, My God “  Video  Aaron Shust
Choir selection from our service yesterday  Video

Yesterday’s message was from a Mark Farnham, a professor at Lancaster Bible College, and we believe will especially minister to any of our readers going through a painful season. Video should start here.
 
Finally today: 

Brooksyne with baby goats on the Old Windmill Farm 7/17/19

Brooksyne with baby goats on the Old Windmill Farm
“You can take the girl out of the country,
but you can’t take the country out of the girl! (The young girl next to Brooksyne is Michaela Charest, daughter of missionaries Joel and Adrienne Charest.)
 
Actually we will share a few more recent photos since we will not be posting daily the next two weeks.

View from inside Hunsecker's Mill covered bridge 7/21/19 (photo by Ester Weber, click to enlarge)Ester took this photo from inside the Hunsecker’s Mill covered bridge early yesterday morning. We had dropped Brooksyne off for choir sound check and took a short jaunt through the country.
 
Amish children looking out back of buggy 07-21-19 (Photo by Ester)We came upon this buggy with the Amish children looking at the traffic.
(Photo by Ester)
Devotional

“The Great Perspective”

Blood moon (Photo by Ester)“The Lesser Light To Rule The Night”
(Photo taken by Ester)
 
“The Great Perspective”
 

Message summary: A consideration of the lesser light.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

“And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also” (Genesis 1:16).  “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4).

Tomorrow is the fiftieth anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. I was fourteen at the time and like most I recall that day as a tremendous milestone. I was visiting my grandparents in Harwood Missouri at the time of the landing. My grandpa, George Washington Steincross, was born in 1882 and during his adult lifetime he witnessed (read about) Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first manned flight and the many advancements in flight up to seeing man land on the moon, “the lesser light” on that July day.

Last night the lesser light that God made shone brightly. Ester, who has a special interest in lunar photography took our lead photo.

Here’s a different perspective: What a sense of our puniness when we consider the vast immensity of space and that thus far man’s greatest achievement is only getting one of our own kind as far as the moon!

Consider today’s Scripture. Then consider looking up from a field on a clear, cloudless night, overcome by an intense sense of awe toward God, corresponding with an awareness of our own relative insignificance.

We extol God’s most massive works at creation as “the work of your fingers”. We recognize that God has set these objects in place.  They are not “set in place” as the result of some “big bang” or whatever current scientific theory is presently in vogue.

The Psalmist then considers man. Why is God mindful of us? Why does this great Creator God care for us? The Psalmist doesn’t answer these questions and neither can we. But the Scriptures abundantly reveal that God is mindful of us and cares for us. Enough so that He gave His Redeemer Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

That’s good news. In fact it’s by far the greatest news! Today man’s greatest hope is certainly not the achievement of placing a man on the moon, but the eternal sacrifice of the One placed on the cross. Whatever circumstances you are dealing with today we encourage you to immerse yourself in this great perspective.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we contemplate the deep thoughts of the Psalmist who asked why You bother Yourself to care for all humanity. We are so small in comparison to the great works of the universe which You not only created but also sustain with perfect order, viability and replenishment day by day, year after year. You know the millions of stars in the galaxy by name and yet You are moved by the smallest burden that I bear this day. Your power is evident all about me and within me. I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made by You, the Master Designer. Amen.



Today we share several photos from our visit to Knoebel’s Park on Tuesday.
Knoebel's Park view 7/16/19 Click to enlarge

Scenic skyway view of Knoebel’s Park
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Knoebel's Park entrance 7/16/19
The park is about 75 miles north of us in a grove-like setting in the mountains. A great feature is that you just walk right in; no visible security, no bag checks, magnetic scanners etc. Knoebels is America’s largest free-admission amusement park. You can buy tickets for individual rides or an all-day pass. Brooksyne, Ester and I only rode a few rides so we did better with tickets. The five children rode many rides and did better with the pass. They have hundreds of picnic tables so you can bring your own food, which we did, but of course there are many eateries as well.
Click to enlarge

Knoebel's Park flowers 7/16/19 Click to enlarge
There are flowers everywhere and they must have their own nursery. They are always kept up and well-watered regardless of when we go during the summer.
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Knoebel's water ride 7/16/19 Click to enlarge
The splash ride is a always a favorite
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Knoebel's thrill ride 7/16/19 Click to enlargeAnd of course the many thrill rides.

Click to enlarge
 
Knoebel's Park 102 year old guest 7/16/19
This 102 year old was out enjoying the park with her grandson. She had just ridden the Ferris wheel. (102 is not a misprint – she just celebrated her birthday the day before!)
 

 
Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
“He’s Everything To Me”  Video  The Singing Churchmen with Ralph Carmichael
 
Knoebels: Explained  Video
 
Finally today: 

Nag's retirement 7/17/19Nag (probably not spelled that way) is one of the many Vietnamese immigrants we see in our chaplaincy ministry. They immigrated to the USA after the Vietnam war. We have met some with remarkable stories of being part of the “boat people“. I took this photo because Nag’s last day of work is next Friday when she will retire after 18 years of working with machines that make parts for poultry watering systems. Nag is a couple of months older than Stephen as she was born in July 1954. In spite of the language barrier we still manage to communicate with her.