Petunias on bikeColorful petunias cover an old bike at a roadside flower stand.
We see so many colorful sights in the course of our travels through Lancaster County!

“The Peril Of Conflicting Objectives”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3) “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

C117 airplaneFrom our home office window we routinely watch huge planes flying right over our heads in route to the Harrisburg International Airport. Usually it’s the four engine C117 Cargo plane but at times it’s Air Force One.*³ The crews are practicing touch and go landings. Sometimes the huge planes look like they’ve stopped moving and we wonder if they will just fall out of the sky. That would sure be a frightening experience.

When we lived in New England there were two especially news intensive aircraft crashes off the Atlantic coast near us. In July of 1999 John F. Kennedy Jr’s plane crash killed him, his wife and one other woman. It is believed that Kennedy became spatially disoriented, a theme we wrote on back in May 2007 in a message we titled “Spiritual Disorientation”.* Reviewing that message again I see the conditions observed that prompted its writing have deeply intensified these last 8 years.

Essentially spatial disorientation describes a phenomenon where a pilot can become so confused in haze or darkness without landmarks that he has absolutely no sense of direction. This is very serious for pilots who do not have an instrument rating. A pilot may feel he is going straight ahead when in fact he is diving down! In becoming spiritually disoriented one loses all sense of right and wrong.

The other notable airplane crash off New England’s coast in 1999 occurred in October with a much greater loss of life and a far less benign cause when EgyptAir Flight 990 went down in the ocean. Examining the evidence investigators determined that in the final moments before the crash the cockpit crew was actually working against each other.  It seems they had different objectives. The pilot valiantly tried to save the plane while the copilot was equally determined to ditch it into the ocean. What a terrifying time this must have been. The dastardly deed of being entrusted with several hundred lives and yet intentionally plunging them to death is practically unthinkable. *²

When we are working together to accomplish a mission having the same objective is vitally important.  This is true in the home, in business and of course in the church. The Scripture warns of being “unequally yoked”. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) and we often apply that to dating and certainly marriage but it can be broadened to any area of life. Amos 3:3 states, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

What a blessing in any context when there is a shared mission and cooperation in reaching an objective. Today this will happen scores of times all over the world:

  • A surgical team will work together to save the life of a patient.
  • Pilots will coordinate their expertise to fly a plane to safety.
  • A corporate management team will unify in decision making for the company’s well-being.
  • A church will share a common mission.
  • A family will seek to serve God together.

But in our fallen world there will also be many examples of disharmony as people pursue conflicting objectives. Although the perils of most of these conflicting objectives are not as dramatic as a plane crash they are every bit as deadly. Those of us in Christian ministry should be soberly aware of this.  Paul spoke of two men named Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had wandered away from the truth. In doing so they had destroyed the faith of others as well (2 Timothy 2:17,18).

The third daily verse ought to be memorized by everyone involved in ministry for Christ in whatever capacity. I memorized it around the time of my ordination in 1979 and it has often been a prompt to faithfulness and steadfastness, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Vigilance in both what we believe and how we live is vitally important. The consequences of our actions affect not only our own destiny but those entrusted to our care as well. May the Lord help us to persevere in His truth!  And let us work together with those we are called to serve with.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, the Scriptures asks, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” That’s such an important thought-provoking question since we know there are only two paths we must choose from which gives room for two contrasting views. We can enter through the narrow gate which is small and the way is narrow that leads to life. Few look for this path so they can easily miss this narrow entrance to eternal life. Sadly, the vast majority enter the gate that is wide and the way that is broad that leads to destruction. We must be in alliance with the one we walk alongside lest we clash with conflicting viewpoints and contrasting goals. Grant us discernment, discipline, and direction when choosing our life partner, business associate or any other person in which we must unite in making decisions. For those who are presently unequally yoked grant them grace to live carefully, watching their lives and doctrine closely, so that they will positively influence their partner, co-worker or family member to consider the claims of the Gospel which may ultimately lead them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It’s in His name that we pray, Amen.


Last night we attended a picnic with a group of minister peers at a church in Harrisburg and as we arrived it appeared we were in for a big storm. However it cleared soon after this but not before I was able to take this photo behind the church.

Storm coming 6/16/15

We gathered with ministers yesterday in Harrisburg for our annual picnic which included pulled pork, chicken, and homemade ice cream. We weren’t sure just how much time we’d have before the heavens opened and the rain would hammer us, but eventually the dark clouds rolled away and we had a sunny, breezy gathering after all.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Family Prayer Song”  Video  Maranatha Singers A great way to end a service with families gathered together for prayer.

“A Family that Prays Together Stays Together”  Video  A nice video prepared for a family reunion. Singers not identified.

* “Spiritual Disorientation” Our message from May 10, 2007. This is a message we may work over and republish in time since the conditions that prompted the message are far worse today than just 8 years ago. The main text is, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21).

*² For the aviation-minded here is some fuller information from the crash investigation of EgyptAir Flight 990: The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recorded the captain excusing himself to go to the lavatory, followed thirty seconds later by the first officer saying in Egyptian Arabic “Tawkalt ala Allah,” which translates to “I rely on God.” A minute later, the autopilot was disengaged, immediately followed by the first officer again saying, “I rely on God.” Three seconds later, the throttles for both engines were reduced to idle, and both elevators were moved three degrees nose down. The first officer repeated “I rely on God” seven more times before the captain suddenly asked repeatedly, “What’s happening, what’s happening?” The flight data recorder reflected that the elevators then moved into a split condition, with the left elevator up and the right elevator down, a condition which is expected to result when the two control columns are subjected to at least 50 pounds (23 kgf) of opposing force.[1] At this point, both engines were shut down by moving the start levers from run to cutoff. The captain asked, “What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engines?” The captain is then recorded as saying “get away in the engines” (this is the literal translation that appears in the NTSB transcript), followed by “shut the engines”. The first officer replies “It’s shut”. The final recorded words are the captain repeatedly stating, “Pull with me” but the FDR data indicated that the elevator surfaces remained in a split condition (with the left surface commanding nose up and the right surface commanding nose down) until the FDR and CVR stopped recording. There were no other aircraft in the area. There was no indication that an explosion occurred on board. The engines operated normally for the entire flight until they were shut down. From the presence of a western debris field about 1,200 feet (370 m) from the eastern debris field, the NTSB concluded that the left engine and some small pieces of wreckage separated from the aircraft at some point before water impact.[1]

The NTSB determined that the only way for the observed split elevator condition to occur was if the left seat pilot (the captain’s position) was commanding nose up while the right seat pilot (the first officer’s position) commanded nose down. As the Egyptian investigation forwarded various mechanical failure scenarios, they were each tested by the NTSB and found not to match the factual evidence.


*³ Harrisburg International Airport remains an active touch and go practice runway for SAM 28000 and SAM 29000. These two planes carry the President. They are also known as Air Force One, the call which is adopted when the president is aboard either aircraft (or any other Air Force aircraft for that matter). The Air Force pilots use the custom VC-25’s (Boeing 747s) to practice via touch and go at the airport. These practice runs are at random (for obvious security reasons), but they do tend to be seen about weekly. The Air Force uses Harrisburg International as the practice airport for a number of reasons: its runway is long enough for a loaded 747, relatively low traffic, close proximity to Andrews Air Force Base, and the presence of the Air National Guard.


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

“Clapping Trees”

June 16, 2015

Praising cactus Assateague Island 6/9/15Tiny “clapping” cactus on the Assateague Island National Seashore.

“Clapping Trees”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1).

Last week during our bike ride through the Assateague Island National Seashore Brooksyne called for me to look at something up close. Standing sentry in the oversized sandscape was a tiny 3″ cactus seen in our lead photo which appears to be clapping or praising the Lord! This brought to mind our daily text which we recall singing as a chorus many years ago. In fact the Messianic Jew who set it to music, Stuart Dauermann, held a concert in our very young church in the late seventies shortly after he wrote this song. “Trees of the Field” would soon be sung nationally and be included in more recent hymn books. You have likely sung it:

You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace;
the mountains and the hills will break forth before you;
there’ll be shouts of joy, and all the trees of the field
will clap, will clap their hands!
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands,
the trees of the field will clap their hands,
the trees of the field will clap their hands
while you go out with joy.

I am blessed to read that he is still serving the Lord and read this about him: “Dr. Stuart Dauermann (b. 1944) was born in Brooklyn, New York, into a conservative Jewish family. Music was Stuart’s first chosen career, and it was in his second year as an undergraduate majoring in Music Theory at the Manhattan School of Music that he was invited to a discussion group where he began investigating the Newer Testament, only to discover that the Newer Testament was investigating him! So it was that in 1962 he became convinced that Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel and the Nations. By the mid-1960’s, Stuart recognized he was being drawn to invest his life in interpreting Yeshua to the Jewish community.” *

As we would expect he has written music with a Jewish flair, many of the words coming from Old Testament Scriptures.

The Scriptures clearly reveal that God is pleased with the praises of His people. The Psalms especially are filled with calls to and expressions of praise.

Today’s text is a jubilant prophecy of future restoration: “For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

In Isaac Watt’s anthem, “Joy To The World”, which we associate with Christmas,  is actually a more general hymn suitable for all seasons.

And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Isn’t it interesting the concept of nature singing praises to God? The daily text states, “the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you.” Isn’t that a great image?  In fact I can visualize a smilie face on that little cactus as his little budding arms are reaching upward to the heavens and that makes me smile as well.

“And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Let us join them! “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, it’s easy to imagine nature praising You as the song birds trill their many canticles, as the wind blows upon the airy leaves and the branches of the trees clap in praise to You. Observing the clear, gushing water as it surges over the boulders, rocks and stones is so invigorating, but as much as we enjoy experiencing nature as You created it, You even more so enjoy hearing the praises of Your created beings above any other natural creation, since we are created in Your own image. It’s hard to imagine a rock praising You since it’s an inanimate object lacking personality, warmth, and soul. Yet there are times when my heart can grow stone cold when I become headstrong with my own agenda and block the work and leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. I choose to be a joyful, enthusiastic and consistent worshiper who gives You praise not only with my lips but with my life. I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength. Amen.


Martin's bike shop near Ephrata PALast week we purchased two “comfort bikes”, suitable for our age, at the Martin’s Bike Shop near Ephrata PA. It’s owned and run by members of one of the old order Mennonite communities and expresses conservative values. A sign stating their hours of operation notes that it is closed on Sunday with this witness, “Sunday is the Lord’s Day”. Another sign on the entrance door appeals that customers come in dressed modestly.

Martin's bike shop near Ephrata PA
Martin’s Bike Shop has an interesting museum of bicycles including this display of antique bikes and a bicycle built for three!

Martin's bike shop near Ephrata PA
The oldest appears to be this 1848 Hobby Horse.
It sure doesn’t look very comfortable to ride!

Our new bikes!
Our new bikes.
Brooksyne has been riding the same one we purchased in New England in the mid-nineties and I was using one we purchased several years ago at a yard sale. We have already been on several neighborhood rides through the country and these are much more comfortable. We have already shared about some of our scenic trail trips and we expect to be doing a lot more.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Trees of the Field”  Video  Israel Homecoming

“I Believe”  Video  Dailey and Vincent

When I see the sunrise in the morning
When I feel the wind blow across my face
When I hear the sound of children playing
I know its all part of God’s amazing grace

* Info about Stuart Dauermann


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Amish church traffic 6/14/15 (Ester)
“I’m Forever Grateful!”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”  (1 Timothy 1:15).

Yesterday Ester (pronounced E-stair’, or as she likes to say, “Call me Fred for Fred Astaire), celebrated her 26th “American” birthday. That is the day she first arrived in America from Guatemala in 1989. She still loves to celebrate even at twenty-six years of age. Perhaps it’s because she’s crossed so many arduous milestones during her young life, much more than Brooksyne’s and mine combined. Arriving from Guatemala as a 5 1/2# sickly baby girl at 3 months of age, she was rapidly dying of a congenital heart problem. Within three days of her arrival we admitted her to Geisinger Medical Center, a major hospital 3 1/2 hours from our home in St. Marys, PA, where she underwent two open heart surgeries followed by numerous complications which contributed to her remaining in the hospital for three very long months.

In addition to her March 9th birthday and “American” birthday she likes to celebrate her adoption day and her American citizenship day. I don’t know if it’s because she’s an only child but she feels we need to make a fuss over her on all these days. For many years Brooksyne made a panda bear cake on this historic anniversary date but stopped doing so as Ester reached adulthood. But yesterday she was bound and determined to have cake and so she purchased her own from which she offered us a piece and we willingly partook.

We recall a somewhat humorous teaching moment that happened on her “American” birthday when she was ten. I asked her to pray at the dinner table and she prayed, “Thank you, God, that I’m alive and that I came to this earth”. Well I was also thankful that Ester was alive, (five heart operations later) and that she came to this earth. I’m just not sure she understood at the time that both Guatemala and America are on the same earth! I chuckled after her prayer and commented, “I’m sure glad you didn’t go to Jupiter”.

On a far more serious note we consider the One who descended to earth, over 2000 years ago. Clothed in flesh He would now reveal the loving heart and holy character of His Father who is not willing that any should perish so He provided a way to be saved. The apostle Paul, likely repeating a creedal phrase of the early church, states in our daily text, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance.” That remains true today and every day. This is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance:

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. In the incarnation Christ Jesus came to this earth. He said of Himself, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” and “I came from the Father and entered the world”. He clearly knew His mission, “for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth”.

I’m forever grateful and desire to express my gratitude today by living for the One who came to earth to save me! Can you say “Amen” if that’s your heartfelt response to Christ descending to earth on your behalf as well!

You did not wait for me to draw near to You
But You clothed Yourself with frail humanity.
You did not wait for me to cry out to You
But You let me hear Your voice calling me.

And I’m forever grateful, to You
I’m forever grateful, for the cross
I’m forever grateful, to You
That You came to seek and save the lost.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we will be eternally grateful that You sent Jesus to earth to seek and to save those lost in their transgressions and sins. You received people like Nicodemus, a man of authority, who secretly came to Jesus in the night where he sought answers to life’s most important questions. You sought out people, like the Samaritan woman, despised by the Jews and an outcast among her own as she lived a promiscuous life. Their stories represent various ethnic, economic, and lifestyle choices but the one common thing they shared is true of all humankind. They both had a sin problem that could be cured only by Jesus, the One who wants to heal our soul’s diseases. Thank You for Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, who came down from heaven, into the world, bearing witness unto the truth that we are indeed sinners in need of forgiveness. Thank You for not only bearing witness but also for providing the answer. Amen.

*Ester’s weekend: Perhaps Ester’s wanting to be indulged with a cake in her honor was in part due to the rough night she had in the E.R. late Friday. After a very warm, humid day it was about 8 PM and the sun had settled down so Ester felt like taking a bike ride with me (Brooksyne). We were riding our bikes in our neighborhood and she even rode some hills with me when she suddenly felt her heart race into a very fast rhythm. All she had to say was, Mom…, and I knew she had slipped into atrial flutter. I placed my hand on her throat and felt the very fast palpitations. Within the hour we were in the E.R. where Ester’s heart was pacing at 190 BPM. After an unsuccessful attempt with medication the medical team used electrical shock (cardioversion) and it successfully converted her rhythm back to normal. This is probably the 20th time or so since Ester was 10 years old that she’s had to be cardioverted, but it was the first time I witnessed it. Always in the past the medical staff ushered us into the waiting room during this scary procedure but this time they assumed I would be staying with Ester and so I did. It was a difficult experience to say the least and she had some recovery issues, but we thank God that she was released a couple hours later. Though she is somewhat tired and her back aches from the shock, she is recovering nicely. So, we’ll indulge her one more year…..and thank God that she continues to overcome her heart difficulties, by the grace of God.


Today we will share a collection of Amish and rural photos taken over the last several days:

Amish youth gathering 6/7/15 (Click to enlarge)
On Sunday afternoons the Amish youth gather and, after playing all afternoon, they gather in the barn for a singing service. I had the opportunity to attend one of these meetings where the youth sing not only the formal German songs used in their church services but also hymns and even modern choruses familiar to the English. The above photo will enlarge if you click on it.

Amish girls on way to youth gathering 6/7/15
These girls are having one very fun afternoon. When they saw us pulling up behind them with Brooksyne holding a camera phone they hammed it up for the photo (perhaps the sunglasses emboldened them). The girl in the back left is holding her own camera phone.  (Sorry for the smudge on our windshield).

Amish youth on way to youth gathering 6/7/15
This horse, with the tilt of his head, appears to be expressing, “Just what are you looking at?” This young Amish man is taking a group of girls to a youth gathering.

Amish couple courting 6/7/15
This young couple is likely in courtship.

FarmAll mailbox
A colorful mailbox along Rt 1 in Delaware that will surely bring a smile to FarmAll tractor owners. I wonder if our mail would arrive in a timely manner if the mail trucks were mail tractors instead!

Amish implements 6/10/15
Brand new farm implements for sale near Nickel Mines in Lancaster County.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Forever Grateful”  Video  Hosanna! Music

“Oh, What A Savior”  Video  Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Here’s an article from our local paper that will touch your heart regarding lasting kindness. Amish Nickel Mines community mourns death of trooper who was hero during and after schoolhouse shootings


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Washbasin flowers Lewes Delaware 6/9/15
Flowers in old wash basin. Lewes Delaware

“The Master Masquerader”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

Note: The daily text is purposefully inserted in the message.

Here in America many of our sports teams have mascots. Our minor league baseball team, the Lancaster Barnstormers, has a large hybrid creature named Cylo. He’s always fun to watch at the ballgames and kids enjoy getting their photos taken with him. Ester has quite a Cylo collection of photos and every game we attend she attempts a selfie with him.

Other teams have mascots as well designed to liven things up with their colorful antics. In Boston it’s “Wally The Green Monster”, named for Fenway Park’s famous left field green wall.

As we wrote yesterday we enjoy meeting people and, in the course of our chaplaincy work and not surprisingly, some have interesting backgrounds. Last week I visited with a man with a most unusual employment history

Dan SenftDan works as a “comfort consultant” for JK Mechanical, an HVAC company. However in another season of his life he had a different “job”. As a young man in the eighties and early nineties he was the official mascot for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team!

I suppose prior to talking to him I never really considered the Orioles mascot which is, as you might expect, an Oriole! I have been to several ballgames in Baltimore but prior to talking to Dan I couldn’t recall the mascot.

Orioles mascotDan had some interesting stories from his years as mascot such as once falling off the dugout and injuring himself in front of a crowd of tens of thousands ironically in a game with the Kansas City Royals, the team I followed in high school when I lived in that area. But I was most touched by his work in bringing joy to pediatric cancer patients at area hospitals such as Johns Hopkins.

When I was speaking to Dan last week I asked his permission to share his story although at the time I really didn’t have a Scriptural theme. I actually kind of like the challenge of finding one! Mascots are a fun imagination filled part of life. We enjoy seeing children laugh when around a mascot, clown or other figure. They often masquerade as another creature such as the Oriole mascot. It’s good-natured fun and no one really believes the mascot is a real Oriole bird.

But moving our message to spiritual content let us consider a dangerous masquerade, one who masquerades as an angel of light but in reality is the “prince of darkness”, a term used in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” referring to Satan as the embodiment of evil.

“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

In the daily text Paul confronted and warned against counterfeit teaching and masquerading apostles. That’s one of the duties of a caring shepherd. In 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 Paul dealt with the topic of false apostles who preach a different Jesus than the one he preached.  This portion of Scripture is a warning in general about counterfeit teaching.  Later in Scripture Paul specifically exposes the false teaching of two men whose names are forever a part of the Scriptural record, Hymenaeus and Philetus.  These troublemakers, who at one time were teachers of the genuine gospel, had wandered from the truth, denying the resurrection, and were thereby destroying the faith of those who chose to embrace their false teaching (2 Timothy 2).

Paul describes the counterfeits he dealt with in 2 Corinthians as “false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.” The relentless attack on the genuine faith that Paul encountered continues unabated today and is actually increasing in my view. We face it from the scientific, media, entertainment, political, educational and even the religious establishment, just as Jesus did when He walked about clothed in humanity. On the personal level we daily face the flaming arrows of our enemy who seeks to move us off the right course. We must always be on our guard against spiritual masquerades.

The chief masquerader is Satan himself. It’s his very nature to “masquerade as an angel of light”. In the Bible he initially came on the scene masquerading as a cunning and clever snake. In his deceptive craft he convinced Eve that he was able to impart wisdom and that he was looking out for her best interest.

The word “masquerade” means “to transform one’s outward appearance, to disguise.” Not only did Satan disguise his outward appearance but also his inward motivation.  In our daily text the original Greek “masquerade” is translated in the present tense indicating this is something Satan habitually does.

It is not surprising that Satan’s servants also “masquerade as servants of righteousness.”  We must continue to examine and discern the teachings and lives of those who declare truth as we base our standard on the genuine Word of God, which remains and always will be the firm foundation of truth!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Lord, we ask You to not only open our eyes to that which is around us, but we ask You to open the eyes of our hearts so that we might envision that which is true and that which is false on a spiritual level.  May we continue to hide Your Word in our hearts that we might not sin against You. How blessed we are to know that as You reign in our hearts, our spirits bear witness to that which is Scriptural and that which is heresy. May we ever be vigilant in Scripture, fervent in prayer, and led by the Spirit as we encounter the false gods of this age.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


Deer on Cape Henlopen 6/9/15
Cape Henlopen has an abundance of deer.

Fan boat at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge 6/10/15
On the way back from the shore we stopped by two national wildlife refuges in Delaware; the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (photos) and the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (photos). This refuge had an abundance of red-winged blackbirds although we were unable to take a suitable photo to share.

Turtle at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge 6/10/15
A camera shy turtle at the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

Lewes Delaware 6/9/15
Second Street in Lewes Delaware
Lewes boasts that it is the first town in the first state.
It reminds us of a quaint New England town and is quite a contrast to the more beach-like towns such as Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City down the coast.

1740 Colonial home in Lewes Delaware 6/9/15
1740 Colonial home in Lewes Delaware

Lighthouse home in Lewes Delaware 6/9/15
Lighthouse home in Lewes Delaware that has a real light up above.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Open The Eyes Of My Heart”  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

Finally today:

HearseWe stopped for a meal near a mall in northern Delaware and saw this interesting hearse converted to a moving witness tool!

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Assateague Island wild horses 6/8/15
Assateague Island Wild Horses

“Fighting The Good Fight”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until daybreak” (Genesis 32:24). “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  “I have fought the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Joe DieselWe enjoy meeting people and in our chaplaincy we visit with several hundred every week. Not surprisingly some have interesting backgrounds. Joe, who hails from Brooklyn, NY works at Smucker Laser. It’s a company that uses huge laser cutting machines to cut metal parts from large, heavy sheets of metal (as seen in the background).

Joe is a former Golden Gloves national boxing champion and is presently on the Ring of Honor wrestling circuit which he calls “theatrical entertainment”. Brooksyne tells me as a teen that she and her siblings often watched this kind of wrestling which was aired on television in Tulsa every Saturday. Of course they rooted for the good guys and “gnashed their teeth” at the bad ones who didn’t play by the rules. Although it’s not a form of entertainment I’ve ever followed, I recently watched a match with Joe, AKA J Diesel, since I know the wrestler personally!

Wrestling is not a new sport, in fact, it’s mentioned in ancient times. A very different form of wrestling is referred to in the Bible, the most famous match being recorded in Genesis 32, where Jacob had a most unusual all-night spiritual wrestling match, “So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until daybreak”

Matthew Henry comments: “A great while before day, Jacob being alone, more fully spread his fears before God in prayer. While thus employed, One in the likeness of a man wrestled with him. When the spirit helps our infirmities, and our earnest and vast desires can scarcely find words to utter them, and we still mean more than we can express, then prayer is indeed wrestling with God. However tried or discouraged, we shall prevail; and prevailing with Him in prayer, we shall prevail against all enemies that strive with us. Nothing requires more vigour and unceasing exertion than wrestling. It is an emblem of the true spirit of faith and prayer.”

Many of us have studied or even memorized a portion of Scripture referred to as the “Armor of God” in Ephesians 6. In referring to this type of wrestling in the Bible I told Joe that we are all wrestlers, in one way or another. The apostle Paul reminds us that our struggle is not ultimately physical in nature but spiritual. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

J Diesel wrestlerI’ve never enjoyed fighting. I recall a period in Junior High School when the class bully put out the word that he wanted to fight me. Truth be told, I was terrified! At that time I was getting taller but was as skinny as a rail. I had no desire to get in a fight! It was likely my first experience as a child to undergo real personal stress that extended over a period of months, but thankfully the rumored fight never transpired. To this day I would rather avoid conflict than face it and am even uncomfortable reading books or viewing movies that have major conflict.

But there is an ongoing conflict in the spiritual realm that is unavoidable and we have no choice in whether or not we engage. By virtue of the fallen condition of mankind we are engaged. There is no neutrality in this conflict and in this “good fight” pacifism or non-resistance is not a virtue, but rather a surrender and an alliance with the forces of evil.

I believe this is what the Apostle Paul calls “the good fight.” This ancient conflict goes back to the heavenly realms and the fall of Satan. As the great old hymn declares, “For still our ancient foe [Satan], doth seek to work us woe, his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”

Today I pray for all of you fighting the good fight, seeking to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.  We indeed “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”. I pray that you will stand up for God’s truth and righteousness in the home, the workplace, the marketplace and in some instances you might even have to take a stand in your own church. I am convinced the battle will become increasingly more fierce before Christ’s return. Let us resolve in our hearts to remain faithful to our divine call no matter how great the conflict!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the spiritual armor that defends us in battle and arms us for the struggle we encounter against the devil’s relentless schemes.  This armor enables us to withstand the forces of evil, no matter the means or persons the enemy works through to try to weaken or destroy our faith. In addition to the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit we know that our prayers and petitions are heard by You who intercedes on our behalf before our Father in heaven. We use our armor for protection and we use the sword of the Spirit and prayer for weapons to reveal, attack and defeat Satan’s strongholds. It is through Your name, Jesus, that we are more than conquerors.  Amen.

For inspiration regarding the spiritual armor see Ephesians 6:10-18


Assateague Island wild horses 6/8/15
This past Monday we rode our bicycles up over the long Verrazano Bridge onto the Assateague Island National Seashore, famous for the herd of wild horses easily viewed from the road or bike trail.

Assateague Island wild horses 6/8/15
We came upon the group of horses in our lead photo and chatted with a member of the park’s “pony patrol” as seen on the back of his green vest. Visitors are not allowed to pet the horses, and must keep a distance of 10′ or more. Since many ignore this law (which can get you a hefty fine), there are frequent injuries related to bites, kicks, etc.

Assateague Island parasailing
Parasailing on Assateague Bay

Assateague Island parasailing
I believe this is parasailing; one of the many sports we never got into!

Jackie Steudler 6/9/15
We enjoyed our fellowship over breakfast at Cracker Barrel with our good friend, Jackie Steudler, who has a summer house along with her husband Rick, in Rehoboth Beach. She and Brooksyne had a good time checking out the clearance corner of the gift shop where items with a gardening theme were 40% off. Seems like to me we just started gardening but with retail you’re always planning the next season so we’ll soon see fall items on the shelves.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Battle Belongs To The Lord”  Video  Maranatha Singers

Our friend David Penley has a thoughtful series on “Protecting Your Marriage With The Armor of God”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Hebrews 10:35-37“I’m Not Going Back!”

We have been at the shore (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware) for a couple of days, returning this morning. (Podcast not prepared)

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised” (Hebrews 10:35,36).

LouMore than the air I breathe,
More than the song I sing;
More than the next heartbeat,
More than anything.
And Lord, as time goes by,
I’ll be by Your side;
‘Cause I never want to go back to my old life.
I need You more.

Lou is man I visit weekly in the course of our chaplain work. A big, burly man with abounding tattoos he can be a bit intimidating when you first meet him but over time we have established a friendship and I seek to encourage him as he has shared the struggles he deals with. Lou gave me permission to share his story in hopes of helping others.

Lou's prison ID cardHe’s an ex con and told me what he does whenever he is tempted to go back to his old way of life. He takes out his faded inmate ID card which reminds him of his past.

That’s a good challenge for all of us although I am sure most of us don’t carry a prison ID card! The line in the song quoted above always grips my heart.

“Cause I never want to go back to my old life.”

That got me thinking and I will pose it to each reader today. What do you have as a disincentive to ever going back to your old way of life?

Surely our first daily text is one of the saddest expressions in the Bible. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). This was the response by many who upon hearing the teachings of Jesus said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”  (John 6:60). This remains the reaction of many when confronted with His teaching.

Some of His teaching seems hard in the sense of being hard to understand. Some issues make sense to us, others we accept by faith, not fully understanding with our mind. However I have learned that there are many previously hard teachings that become easier to grasp after a period of maturation and experience as a Christian.

But some of His teaching is hard in the sense of being hard to live by. The call to serious discipleship is hard.  Many years ago I read a book dealing with discipleship that uncomfortably and with conviction expressed the teachings of Christ without any soft-pedaling. I believe the sense in the text is “hard to live by”. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more”

(Mike Ratliff writes in “The High Cost of Discipleship”, “The message of salvation that is normally preached or taught in the vast majority of churches these days has been contaminated with Humanism. The focus is on becoming a Christian for some great benefit or reward from God based upon little to no personal cost. Masses of people respond to that false gospel as well. The genuine gospel that our Saviour preached during His earthly ministry may have mentioned the benefits of being saved, but He emphasized the cost of becoming His disciple in such a way that it caused many of His hearers to not follow Him anymore. In fact, whenever He saw that the people were flocking to Him to have their felt needs met, He would speak a message to them that expressed that those who are His disciples are the ones who have counted the cost and seen that the eternal is all that truly matters.”

After many of His disciples walked away, “Jesus then said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’” (v.67).

Peter spoke up and uttered one of the greatest faith statements in the entire Bible: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vv.68,69).

The early Hebrew Christians were enduring persecution and were tempted to return to their old way of life.  The writer of Hebrews urges them, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised” (Hebrews 10:35,36).

Every generation of believers has this call to persevere. Every individual follower of Christ has this call as well.  The letter to the Hebrews laboriously teaches the superiority of the way of Christ over the old religious system the initial readers had come out of.  Of course His way is infinitely superior to any system, religious or otherwise, devised by man.

A key purpose of the entire letter to the Hebrews can be summed up in this exhortation and promise.  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

The exhortation – “Do not throw away your confidence.” This is the confidence or assurance believers have in Christ. We are not to throw it away or cast it aside.

The promise – “it will be richly rewarded.”  Notice the certainty of this promise “it will be”; not might be or should be.  Praise God, it will be richly rewarded.  “How and when will this happen?” our hearts cry out, especially as we are undergoing trial?  But I particularly consider this with those being persecuted.

This answer is not given, but the writer goes on to say, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised” (Hebrews 10:36).  Keep trusting in Him today, fellow believer. Your confidence in Christ will be richly rewarded!

May we have a persevering heart to do the will of God regardless of luring temptations or formidable obstacles we encounter.  “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

Amen, that’s my sentiment today as well and I hope every day!  Today, may we, like Peter, consecrate ourselves to God and continue as His follower.  “A faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me.” By the grace of God I’m not going back to my old life!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, there is no one or no thing that deserves our complete allegiance, but You, our Lord, who have the words of eternal life. Though others may refuse to listen or turn away from the message of salvation we choose to persevere.  We persevere in trial and in victory, in the ups and downs and in the in-betweens of everyday circumstances. We seek to do Your will in all things so that we will be richly rewarded at the end of this life. In the name of Jesus we persevere. Amen.

PS: The first daily verse is the only 6:66 (chapter 6 verse 66) reference in the entire New Testament!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Need You More”  Video  Lindell Cooley

“He Leadeth Me”  Video  Acappella


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Free weeds!“A Lesson From Weeds”


We are at the shore (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware) for a couple of days. (Podcast not prepared)

“Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?” He replied, “An enemy did this” (Matthew 13:27b, 28a).

Cracker BarrelWhen we travel we usually stop at least once at a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant. We can count on some good southern cooking and Brooksyne enjoys walking through the gift shop and often manages to see something she likes. Two weeks ago we stopped near Hamburg PA on the way home from the Poconos. She managed to find the “FREE WEEDS” sign above in the discount section which is always a blessing.

Brooksyne is a diligent home gardener. Saturday she was out for many hours, planting and as needed weeding. For many years we have enjoyed sharing photos of her flowers on this site. She also has an herb and vegetable garden that is more practical, although not necessarily as beautiful.

There are a lot of steps to caring for her plants and one of them is weeding. I help her some but I must admit I find weeding very frustrating. After all they always come back anyway, so why bother!

But a reality in both crop farming and home gardening is the importance of weed control. This is a fundamental truth in Christian discipleship as well. The Bible uses weeds to illustrate hindrances to our growth as Christians.  In the parable of the sower Jesus emphasized His plan that the seed of His word be fruitful in His followers. But some seed was sown among the thorns (analogous to weeds), which choked the Word just as it was developing.

Although the Parable of the Sower is the most familiar of the “Kingdom” parables in Matthew 13 there’s a second, less familiar parable called the parable of the weeds, which begins in verse 24. It speaks of a landowner who sowed good seed in his field, but while he slept his enemy came in and sowed weeds. Later when the weeds appeared beside the intended crop his servants asked two questions.

1) “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field?” Now I am pretty sure they knew the answer to this question was “yes”. They were just baffled by the problem. The deficiency was not in the quality of the seed, for in this parable the landowner represents God who always sows good seed.

2) “Where then did the weeds come from?” Isn’t that the very question we often raise in our own lives even in the midst of God’s working in our hearts?  The answer in the parable as stated by the landowner expresses a vital truth.

The landowner answered the second question, “An enemy did this.”  Later, in explaining the parable Christ plainly says, “The enemy that sowed them is the devil” (v. 39).  Indeed, this enemy continues his dastardly work in individual hearts and his venomous forces are visible in family units and in the world overall.  We must follow some good advice I recall as a child when we had a vegetable garden in our backyard. Mom would remind us “you’ve got to keep up with the weeds.”

Now I don’t attribute the weeds in our flower and vegetable gardens to a literal enemy, but they’re sure a reminder of the truth of this parable. Today, may God help each of us as we continue to overcome the work of our archenemy in keeping up with the “weeds.”  In our Christian journey there is always going to be an ensuing battle with our enemy, but we can be encouraged as we contemplate the verse that reminds us that we are more than conquerors; “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Just like the persistent weeds, our enemy is ever on the attack trying to choke out the Word of God. Father, we thank You that we can go on the offensive recognizing that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Help us to be vigilant in sin’s fierce war remembering that the crown awaits the conquest as You lead us by Your glorious might.  Help us to do our part in keeping up with the weeds. Amen.

Note from Brooksyne: A special note to those especially discouraged by the weeds. Don’t let your discouragement paralyze you. If some weeds have gotten out of hand call out to God for help, get some encouragement and support from other believers and begin to weed, one small weed at a time. Most all who garden know the most effective way to weed is not to just break off the weed at the ground level but dig beyond and pull out the root.  Weeds simply broken off come back more quickly and are often stimulated to grow even more vigorously.  So often we do the same thing in our spiritual lives – we lay aside a sin for a season, but don’t really allow God to pluck it from our hearts. It’s like keeping a destructive habit under control in our actions but not expunging it from our lives.  Digging up the root of a weed takes more effort but the benefits far outweigh the temporary measure of just breaking it off.  May we apply this spiritual truth to our lives as well!

“The Parable of the Weeds” Matthew 13:24-30


Seatless chair flower holder
A clever repurposing of an old seatless chair at an Amish friend’s house.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Then Shall Live”   Video  Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,293 other followers