“Music From All Generations”


Horse at Donegal Plantation 5/10/20

Horse at Donegal Mills Plantation on Trout Run Road near our house.
“Music From All Generations”
 

Message summary: Whatever expression we may use let us worship God in spirit and in truth and seek to glorify Him in our musical preference and various styles of worship for all generations. Let’s be a worshiper, not merely an observer.

 
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
 
“His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation (Luke 1:50). Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Brooksyne had an interesting exchange at a Christian bookstore awhile back:

 
As I was looking in the music department I noted that there was only one hymn book. I asked the salesclerk, who was probably about 30 years in age, “Don’t you have any other hymnals to offer?” He said, “We don’t really stock hymnals anymore.” I offered a suggestion, “It would be nice if you could offer more variety in hymnals for those who enjoy the hymns.” He looked at me, and said rather smugly, “Do I get the distinct impression that you’re not into Praise and Worship?”

Taking but a second to process such an incorrect impression I responded, “I am very much into praise and worship. I worship God with the contemporary music but I also worship God with the hymns that have been written over many generations. I like to sing the hymns that George Washington might have sung, the songs that Isaac Watts penned hundreds of years ago and I also like to sing the songs that God is giving to His people today.” I’m not so sure he was prepared for my honest response (I was also kind), but it was important for me to correct the false impression of some believers today who think that Praise and Worship has only been created in the last twenty or so years.


In giving this conversation further thought we are part of the great church of God comprised of believers from every generation, including those in the past. Should Christ tarry there will be generations who follow us who will likely see our music and worship styles as primitive or old-fashioned. We acknowledge the validity of different styles of music in our worship services; the composition, the instrumentation, and the singers themselves. I confess that I get a bit agitated when a church or particular group of believers feels that their choice of songs or their delivery of style is the only right way to worship God.

There’s a great deal of variety in songs selected for the worship services but we look for Scripture, adoration and praise, thanksgiving, songs that teach of God’s attributes, songs that call us to obedience and prayer, songs that convict us of sin. We also like simple tunes that people who are untrained musically (which is the majority) can remember after leaving so they can sing it on their own as they go about their day. Several months ago we became familiar with a song titled, “His Mercy Is More” which we now sing all the time although it hasn’t been introduced in the church we attend. We thoroughly enjoy the overriding theme that though our sins are great His mercy is greater, but we also like the simple style of music that is easy to follow and memorize. (Link to video below)

Another challenge we have in our churches today is the lack of repetition due to the vast number of songs to choose from and the driving compulsion worship leaders have to sing the newest, as one said “cutting edge” music. This makes it harder to learn and memorize music today. In addition, we like to see the congregation participating in worship rather than being sung to by the praise team or choir or whomever is leading in worship. It may not be intentional but this is often the case usually due to unfamiliarity with the song.

Today, let us hear the words of our Lord: “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Whatever expression we may use let us worship God in spirit and in truth and seek to glorify Him in our musical preference and various styles of worship for all generations. Let’s be a worshiper, not merely an observer.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, each generation has a chosen people, a royal priesthood who declares Your praises to a lost and dying world filled with darkness. We’re a peculiar people in that we praise You in the good times and we praise You in the bad times; that’s how we show forth Your praises, for it is You who has called us out of darkness into Your marvelous eternal light and it is through Jesus that we continually offer to You, our Father, a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of our lips that confess Christ’s name and the fruit of our lives that prove our words to be genuine.  Amen.


Brooksyne’s Extended Note:I led in worship and played piano for over 40 years, so this subject matter is dear to my heart. In certain settings I have to be careful and remind myself that I am in church to worship the Lord and not critique the style of music or presentation of the worship songs. I will confess it is hard at times due to having been the one to select the worship songs for many years so it comes natural to use the same criteria when I participate in worship.

 
I wanted the songs to be in a singable key (not too high, not too low), I wanted the music to be fairly easy to follow so that congregants could remember the tune and sing or whistle it at home or at work. (I’m a big fan of whistling since I don’t think it’s possible to be angry or sad when you’re whistling a tune. I used to listen to Grandpa whistle as he worked and as a child I practiced and practiced until I finally learned as well.)  I also wanted some good theology that would inform and instruct believers. More people remember theology taught in a song than presented in a sermon, due to our hearing and singing doctrinal truths musically.

It’s just the way God wired our brains to memorize easily the words we sing. It’s not all that uncommon for a person who suffers a stroke to be robbed of his or her speech. But soon thereafter or years later they once again use their voice to sing along when they hear a familiar song they dearly love, especially the hymns. I saw this happen at a nursing facility in St. Marys, PA probably 35 years ago when I was leading in hymns. I didn’t know it had happened, but I got a phone call one day from a woman who said to me, “My family wanted me to call and let you know that our mother who hasn’t spoken a word in years actually sang out for the first time when you were singing hymns this past week.” I’ll never forget the joy and wonder I felt after their phone call.

Lastly, I’ve learned a lot from a dear elderly woman named Nancy who’s now in her nineties. She was a missionary to Thailand for many years and is now living at Calvary Homes Retirement Village. Nancy always sits in the second row of our church (about 2 or 3 rows in front of us) although she could pick a more distant seat since the building seats about 2000. Nancy always has the most radiant smile and is still able to stand unassisted during the worship time. She often has an uplifted hand as she sings the songs printed out on the power point screen – whether it’s a hymn or a contemporary song that has just been written. She participates eagerly. I have talked with Nancy on occasion and commented to her that she blesses me as she joyfully participates in the worship, both new and old songs. She deflects my praise of her and simply responds, “I love to worship God”. May that be said of us as well, no matter our age!



Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
His Mercy Is More
“His Mercy Is More”Video  Just normal people like us of all ages singing!
We wrote this message, “His Mercy Is More” in February.
 
“Praise To The LordVideo  T4G Live II
 
Our lead photo of the white horse is at the Donegal Mills Plantation which is an interesting property near our home that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The mill was built in 1775 right before the American revolution. We moved to this neighborhood in 2002 and there have been efforts to restore this property, but to no avail. Currently an Amish family lives there along with a few animals and a large greenhouse.

“A Consideration Of Motherhood”

Old Windmill Farm bunny planterPlanter on the Old Windmill Farm with the bunny made from a tree by a friend of theirs. Some people talk of being bored these days with extra time on their hands – here’s a challenge: Count up how old this bunny is by the rings on his tree shaped belly.

“A Consideration Of Motherhood”
 
Message summary:  Today let’s consider the very first reference to “mother” in the Bible.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, one of two Fifth Commandment holidays we have each year. Of course I’m referring to the Fifth of the Ten Commandments which states, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

I often ask people, “Are you practicing the Fifth?” and they usually give me a puzzled look leading to an opportunity to explain the Fifth Commandment. But one man was rather perturbed at the question and informed me that he hadn’t done anything wrong that he needed to practice the fifth. He thought I was referring to the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits self-incrimination for one charged with a crime!

 
5th Commandment
Well, everyone should practice the Fifth Commandment and on Mother’s day we have often written a message using this Commandment as a theme. It is a commandment we are to practice lifelong; as children, adults and even after our parents are gone. Today, although both our mother’s have moved on to heaven, we still want to honor them.

But today let’s consider the very first reference to “mother” in the Bible. It comes right after Eve’s special creation. Of course neither Adam nor Eve had a human mother or father and this was before they had children, thus it’s a prescriptive pattern; that is, God is prescribing the pattern for marriage and the family. Actually we wonder at this point if Eve even knew what a mother was or what childbirth and children were for that matter!

Genesis 2:24 is usually used as the pattern for marriage between a man and a woman and that it certainly is, although we now see it violated in stunning ways particularly with the redefinition of marriage in the last several years.

Let us consider this statement and what is taught: “A man shall leave his father and his mother”.

A man: Although not explicitly stated this also means a woman shall leave her father and her mother and hold fast to her husband, and they shall become one flesh”.

Shall leave: The pattern is that after a period of child-rearing in the home the child leaves. We can watch this now in the natural world with our various bird families. How conscientiously the mother and sometimes father bird cares for the young. But there comes a time when they are to leave the nest, which requires a little nudging by Mama Bird at times. This is true of the human family as well. Of course there are special exceptions to this such as caring for a special needs child right through their adulthood but the normal pattern is to leave and establish a new family.

His father and his mother: This teaches the pattern and design of long-term faithfulness in marriage. However long we recognize the child-rearing period to be, when the child leaves by design, he leaves his father and his mother. In so many ways this design feature has been so drastically violated and we are certainly seeing the consequences.

Let’s be the remnant that follows God’s pattern in relationships both with our Creator and with His creation.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is Your desire that our needs and provisions are met through our family connections especially that of a mother to her child(ren). We are grateful for the many warm memories we can stir up by looking at old photos, enjoying recipes used over the years, applying a skill from our mother’s teaching or example, living a life above reproach because we learned right from wrong at an early age. We thank You for Mom who played such a formative role in our lives. Since no mother or child is perfect, we look to You for those areas of deficiencies so that we can learn or unlearn things from childhood that would shrink us back from being the mother or person You desire, for our own well-being and for those we seek to influence. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
Kim Collingsworth
“A Mother’s LoveVideo  Jim Brickman & Mark Masri
 
“Mother’s Day Song”Video  Christian Paul (includes introduction)
 
“Give You Faith”VideoLaura Story
 
 “Everything To Me”Video  Mark Schultz
 
Here are some recent articles dealing with the violations in God’s design for motherhood:
 
The New Normal  Womb for hire so a famous homosexual man can have a child and purposefully raise him without a mother. The last part is especially gripping: “No matter what we tell ourselves about how willing she was (the surrogate mother) or how better off she is now, she is harmed and so is her son – who somehow knew from the moment he was born to look for her. Unfortunately, he won’t find her.”
 
Did You Have a Mother? An Attempt to Turn the Entire Moral Structure of Western Society Upside Down  (Scroll down to Part 2) A woman has a baby who lives in fantasy that she’s really a man and wants to be considered the baby’s father. You can’t make this perversion nonsense up!
 
 

 
In honor of our mothers
 
Photo with Mom and MaMa and Genelle in 1960
My sister Genelle sent me this photo which shows us with our Mom and MaMa (our grandmother), on Mother’s Day 1960 when I was 5 and Genelle was nearly 3.
 
Mom
This is one of the last photos taken of my Mom waiting on the bench beside our house for the van to taker her to her beloved Senior Center.

Our moms at our wedding rehearsal dinner 5/7/76
Here’s our wedding rehearsal dinner on May 7, 1976. Ruth Sherrell would become my mother-in-law and Georgia Mae Weber would become Brooksyne’s mother-in-law.
 
Brooksyne's family August 1957
I (Brooksyne) have been reminiscing over the last couple of weeks as I have been sorting photos. As of the last 15 years or so most all our photos have been posted on computer and not printed, but I’m sure glad for the printed versions that go way, way back. The photo above is my family and extended family way back in 1957 taken in Oklahoma or Arkansas. Mom is holding me with Daddy in top center. What I observed about this photo: as a baby sucking my left two fingers which became a problem over the years as I got way too old to get away with such babyish behavior – very, very hard habit to break (I promise I don’t do that anymore). All four of the little girl dresses matched including my cousin (middle girl sucking on her beads) who lived in Arkansas. My mother made all of our clothing growing up – we were poor by every standard, but Mom had a way of dressing us up as an excellent seamstress (self-learned). We couldn’t afford new furniture so Mom took in old and reupholstered making it look like new. She planted a garden every year (one year a whole acre which was way, way too much work for all of us). We canned all summer long all my years growing up. When we needed more space for our large family she built a room on the back of the garage. If we needed something Mom found a way to make it happen, at a fraction of the cost, with her expertise she honed by reading, asking, and experimenting. She only had a 7th grade education.
 
Mother/daughter photo 5/20
Ester took this mother/daughter photo yesterday of the two of us as we cuddled Sadie (referred to as the “grand-dog”), by the white dogwood in our front yard. Ester served us lunch after preparing her specialty, spaghetti, which is always tasty. She really enjoys special days on the calendar and never fails to make it a celebrated day in our family. I’m so thankful that as she says, our relationship is essential for a mom/daughter celebration on Mother’s Day.
 
Trucks at drive-in church service 5/10/20

Last week we mentioned attending a drive-in service at a local church. We went again yesterday and these three big trucks joined us. Their horns proclaimed loud “Amens”. Attending a service like this feels kind of like being in the “Cars” movie!
 
Mothers of All Kinds: Yesterday a young lady in the congregation at Faith Outreach stepped to the microphone and shared an excellent reading (one that church leaders might note for next Mother’s Day). We were moved by the excellent writing as the reader took us from Eve, mother of all living, to Mary, mother of Jesus and then a consideration of mothers today. This is really worth listening to and will touch the hearts of both men and women! Thankfully, the woman who shared, also shared with me later the resource and we share it with you today.
 
Dorina Lazo Gilmore shared this original spoken word (embedded video and text) at the Mother’s Day service at The Bridge Church in Fresno, CA. She reaches out to women and mothers from many walks of life and reminds them that they are loved and called by their Heavenly Father. Here’s the video. (6:40)


Mother’s Day – A Spoken Word Tribute!Video  (3:48) Another well-done presentation.
 
Finally today:
 
Friday I shared about a problem I had starting my lawn tractor. The first correct response came from Stephen Linde, a young agricultural engineer (Penn State grad), who correctly guessed that I had forgotten to shut off the PTO!

“What’s Not Cancelled!”

Woodpecker on suet tractor (photo by Ester)Ester snapped a photo of this female hairy woodpecker feeding at a tractor filled with tasty suet. Looks like the woodpecker needs a napkin to remove the crumbs from the beak.

“What’s Not Cancelled!”
 

Message summary:  The apostle Paul concluded the Love Chapter with these words, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love”. Today we consider what has not been cancelled.

 
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
 
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
 
Lou GuilianoLou Guiliano is a longtime reader from New Jersey, who like many of you, has become our “distant” friend through many years of periodic correspondence. He is a retired pastor and hospice chaplain who was recognized as the New Jersey Hospice Chaplain of the Year in 2006. We met Lou and his wife, Kathy, over 15 years ago when they were visiting in Lancaster County. Yesterday Lou sent me a new song that is pertinent to our day, filled with encouragement and eternal perspective by Kim Collingsworth. I can almost guarantee that it will fill you with joy after listening. (Link to YouTube version of the song is below.)
 
Kim introduces the song by musing on how in various ways we have all been impacted by cancellations during this coronavirus pandemic. Right away activities we had scheduled were cancelled and at this point we have cancellations out through late June. We are awaiting word about an annual family reunion in Oklahoma scheduled for July.
 
Kim describes our present days of uncertainty in the first verse:

When life is put on hold
All our plans have cancelled
Things have changed
Nothing feels the same
Disappointments, fears and doubts
Go hand in hand and waves of war
Everywhere uncertainty
 
Those last two words, fittingly describe “pandemic” which means “prevalent over a whole country or the world”. But the first part of the chorus is a thoughtful transition:

But in the midst of chaos
In the midst of fear
There is something to remember
Yes there is something we all need to hear
 
What we all need to hear and take to heart is a reminder of what has not been cancelled! If we were to make a list we could start with “the joy of the Lord, the peace of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit.” These truths of eternal worth have not been cancelled! A consideration of these will bring about a needed perspective that will surely refresh our spirit and remind us that we have a living hope.
 
Hope is one of the most necessary spiritual and emotional components of life. Without it we live in despair. It has been said, “Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”

In the book of Lamentations the prophet Jeremiah is living through the period of Judah’s final conquest by the Babylonians. In the portion that precedes the third daily verse he describes the horrible, despicable events that accompanied this time and Jeremiah seems to be teetering on despair.

But in this text we have one of the greatest transition verses in all of Scripture. In the midst of this terrific despair Jeremiah writes, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope”. What Jeremiah called to mind brought hope from despair and today some 2,600 years later, it will do so for us as we reflect on the immutable attributes of God such as His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence (simply put, He is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present).

The kingdoms of this world are all temporary, self-serving, and polluted by the wiles of Satan’s strategy to steal, kill and destroy, striving for total destruction. But, as believers, we follow after Christ who brings abundant eternal life and a glorious inheritance that’s being preserved in heaven for us. Let us renounce the world and enter into His kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy. Though the world may crumble around us, our hope remains fixed on the eternal kingdom not seen by human eyes nor marred by the affliction of pain, disease or death. Such anticipation fills us with inexpressible and glorious joy as we await the day that Jesus Christ is revealed in all His glory, splendor and holiness.

Hope remainsThe apostle Paul concluded the Love Chapter with these words, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love”, what we describe as the “The Ever-Enduring Trifecta” that is far more powerful than any temporal pain or loss we can experience on this side of eternity.

Hope remains. The nature of the hope we have is foundationally a spiritual hope. The “good life” (peace and prosperity), as many of us know or desire it to be on this earth, is not guaranteed by God. So many, many of the heroes of the faith of the past and present testify to this. (Read Hebrews 11.)

The hope that remains is the assurance that ultimately “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This is an enduring hope, which cannot be cancelled; and in this kind of hope we can all be absolutely confident.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are not without hope, for we know that You are a God of hope that fills believers with all joy and peace as they trust in You, so that they may overflow with hope by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to spread the overflowing, enduring hope that does not diminish in the midst of evil or pandemic disease, but  focuses our hearts on the holy city, the New Jerusalem; the New Jerusalem where Your presence is with Your people; where You will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone, for You will make all things new. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.

 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

 
Kim Collingsworth
“Joy Has Not Been Cancelled”  Video  Kim Collingsworth (includes introduction)
 
When life is put on hold
All our plans have cancelled
Things have changed
Nothing feels the same
Disappointments fears and doubts
Go hand in hand and waves of war
Everywhere uncertainty

But in the midst of chaos
In the midst of fear
There is something to remember
Yes there is something we all need
to hear

Joy is not cancelled
It still remains
Gods’ goodness, kindness
His grace isn’t running low
And He has not changed

So when the trials and tests that come
Darkness only hides the sun
And You can’t seem to find Your way
No light of day
They never change they will endure
No matter what things look like
All around us

In the midst of chaos
In the midst of fear
There is something to remember
Yes there is something we all need
to hear

Joy is not cancelled
It still remains
Gods’ goodness, kindness
His grace isn’t running low
And He has not changed
His power is still abundant
His mercies are still new
God’s plans have not been cancelled
He’s fully in control 
And everything that matters still remains
Yes everything that matters still remains
 
“Living Hope”  Video  Calvary Church Choir, Orchestra and congregation. After these many weeks of cancelled church services it’s a nice reminder of what church looked like in the good old days!
 
Followup on Wednesday’s message on “essential work”. I just read this article this morning: No Lottery Lockdown
 

 
Today is our 44th wedding anniversary

Our engagement photo

Our engagement photo was taken among the stately oaks at Central Bible College where we met our Freshmen year of college in 1973. Our first date was on Brooksyne’s birthday on October 21, 1973 when I invited her to church on a Sunday evening. At that time local churches sent buses to the campus to pick up students and, as we waited on the bus, her old boyfriend and his mom showed up from Tulsa, (180 miles from campus)! Brooksyne, extremely surprised and embarrassed, felt she must meet with them and jumped off the bus leaving me to go to church by myself on our very first date. We started dating again three months later. In Brooksyne’s defense – she had broken off with her old boyfriend, but I guess his mother thought a surprise visit on her birthday would patch things up, but fortunately (for me) it didn’t. We started going steady in the Spring of 1974 and got engaged in the fall of 1975.

 
Our wedding photo

Here we are coming down the church aisle as a newly married couple on May 8, 1976 in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. The wedding was held in the church where Brooksyne led Children’s Church over the summer months when she wasn’t attending CBC in Springfield, MO where we first met.

44th anniversary photo 5/8/20
Forty-four years later we are still enjoying our union and serving the Lord together.

We enjoyed team ministry even before our marriage when we served together in missions and children’s ministries at CBC. Ester took this photo in front of our Dogwood tree this morning.

Finally today:
 
Three friends
The blessing of knowledgeable friends!
This photo was taken in 2008 after I had found this small Honda riding mower along the road and paid $50.00 for. It didn’t work but I had friends! These three came over and Fred (on the left) is a mechanic for a farm implement company. He looked it over and said, “Do you have a hammer and can of WD-40?” I did and Fred knew where to spray and where to hit and that mower started right up and served me for about 5 years till I bought a larger lawn tractor in 2013 which my neighbor sold me before he moved. I still use that tractor but yesterday I just couldn’t get it started. I tried a trickle charge then tried jumping it. It just wouldn’t turn over. So once again I called Fred and described the problem over the phone. He said, “You wouldn’t have happened to have left the _____ would you?” I told him I didn’t think so but would check. Sure enough I had left it on and the motor started right up! Now what do you suppose I had failed to turn off that kept it from starting?
Respond here.

“The Haven Of Grace”

Cayuga Lake sunrise (Tom March)A spectacular view of God’s creation taken from a cottage on the west shore of Cayuga Lake, one of the Finger Lakes, in New York State. Tom, a longtime reader from that area, took the photo and shared, “We had a lot of rain the previous day and night. When we got up in the morning the lake was covered in fog and when the picture was taken the fog had just lifted but you can see it still obscures the distant shore. The lake is rarely dead still along with the right conditions to produce a photo such as this.
Click to enlarge along with Scripture
 

“The Haven Of Grace”
 

Message summary: Our past is forgiven, our present is abundant life in Christ, and our future is heaven, forever with Him. What could be greater than those blessings. And grace upon grace is the fact that it’s available to everyone including those whose lives are wrecked!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and He brought them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:30). “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12,13).

Havre De Grace MDLast Friday we shared a photo of a “Beetle graveyard” in Utah taken by our friend Howard Blichfeldt. One response was from David, a reader who lives in Havre de Grace, Maryland, a town about 55 miles south of us. It’s situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay. It is named after the port city of Le Havre, France, which in full was once Le Havre de Grâce. This is French for “Haven of Grace”.

Our first verse describes the blessings of a maritime harbor; quiet waters and desired haven. Spiritually, how we long for that haven of rest and peace which is surely an aspect of the gift of grace. In times like this it is an especially treasured gift.

In our second daily Scripture text the Apostle Paul is reminding the Ephesian believers where they came from before they entered their spiritual haven of grace. “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”

One commentator makes this observation based on the text: The Gentiles are characterized spiritually by five “less” attributes:

* Christ-less,
* Citizenship-less,
* Covenant-less,
* Hope-less and
* God-less!

Due to our fallen human nature that’s a condition we all have by nature. Interestingly the phrase “without God” translates the Greek word “atheo” which is the foundation for the English words “atheist” or “atheism” and this is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament.

GRACEA major theme in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is grace. A helpful acrostic explaining grace many of us have heard, memorized and repeated to others are these words:  “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. Thank God that we can point people without hope in the direction of a haven of grace! “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

Consider our inheritance as a believer in Christ in the spiritual realm which is a result of God’s grace. Our past is forgiven, our present is abundant life in Christ, and our future is heaven, forever with Him. What could be greater than those blessings. And grace upon grace is the fact that it’s available to everyone including those whose lives are wrecked!

Haven of GraceNow let’s all spread the good news of our caring, loving God to a broken, hurting world and tell them of this haven of grace! There is no vessel too broken that God’s healing touch can’t restore. That which is impossible with man is possible with God!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we limit our faith when we pray and then expect You to provide for our needs in the natural human way. But when we read the Scriptures we’re reminded that You are Omnipotent and You work in supernatural ways to restore broken lives and mend broken hearts. You do extraordinary things in ordinary lives who’ve plunged into desperate messes of their own making. We place our loved ones in Your hands and ask You to reveal Your immeasurable, not for sale grace to their lives, even as You have shown to us. Thank You for Your overflowing grace, God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“He Stilled the Storm (Psalms 107:29-32 – NIV)”  Video  Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Songs  We sure enjoyed this series in the early nineties when a variety of themed CD’s came out with Scriptures set to music. We learned many verses this way and to this day one of the songs will come to mind if we consider a verse such as Psalm 107:30, today’s first text.
 
“A Place Called Grace”  Video  Canton Junction
 
“Grace Upon Grace”  Video  Matthew West  Just published!
 
“There is Nothing Greater Than the Grace of Jesus”  Video  Marshall Hall


 
Goat ringing bell on the Old Windmill FarmTwo weeks ago we were across the meadow at a distance when we saw a goat ringing the Old Windmill Farm bell (photo). Last week we saw him in action up close. I guess they get a kick out of the ringing sound!
 
Baby goat twins on the Old Windmill Farm
The twin goats are growing and I got to hold them both! Brooksyne was not with me so I snatched them and didn’t have to share them with her (she gets a little possessive with cute little goats).
 
Six feet separator!
I visited a factory this week and saw Janet, a hard worker and faithful employee, walking around with this cushioned stick. I teased her that she must use it to keep 6 feet separation! (Actually she was dusting off overhead lights.)
 
Beavertown, PA church drive-in stage
Monday we shared about our attendance on Sunday at a drive-in service here in Lancaster County. John Keefer, a pastor friend, shared about a church in rural Beavertown, PA that has been having these services all along and has built the stage with a plastic clear roof. They are having very good attendance as well.
 
Biking along Donegal Creek 5/3/20
Biking along our familiar path on Donegal Creek when it was a bright and sunny afternoon.
Wonder who the skinny guy is who took the photo?

“The Blessing of ‘Essential’ Workers”

Weber heating and air conditioningMy brother, apparently in a reminiscing mode, found this photo of our dad in his work truck in the early sixties when he had a heating and air conditioning business.
 
“The Blessing of ‘Essential’ Workers”
Message summary: Let’s be thankful for all essential work; for our employers, co-workers, and for the strength, skills and know-how that God has given us to live productive and prosperous lives.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Six days shalt thou work” (Exodus 20:9).

Driving into Mount Joy from either direction on Main Street we pass a large flashing sign that says “Thank You, Essential Workers”. It is a reminder of our gratitude for those who continue to work in many fields that we often take for granted.

Of course special lauds are called for at this time to the healthcare and emergency services workers. Then you have store workers who deserve special recognition, if for no other reason than having to wear a mask all day. We consider truck drivers, utility workers, the sanitation workers and so many others carrying out their essential duties.

Many manufacturing companies remain open as an essential service, including several we serve as chaplains. Yesterday I spoke to a company owner who told me his company had equipment on the huge hospital ship Comfort that was based in New York City. Another makes products essential for food production.

Last Saturday we witnessed the rye harvest in the field across from our home, a highly coordinated and efficient process. When it comes to agricultural workers they are the very essence of essential; if they don’t work, we don’t eat.

But there is a downside in my view to this “essential” designation. That is the implicit sense that other work, if not essential, must be deemed as unessential. We work with a company that installs and services HVAC. Is that unessential? Not when the temps outside are below freezing! Another company installs and repairs roofing. Is that unessential? Not if a storm blew a hole in your roof and water is pouring in!

Now I’m told there are those who are OK with this lengthy, home-bound, non-working quarantine and are in no hurry to get back to work. That’s a sad state to be in, while many others would rather be working.

Another serious peeve I have is the very arbitrary way governments may designate work as essential. Here in Pennsylvania the sale of booze is considered essential. Here in Pennsylvania, our governor has the Orwellian notion that abortion, which is the leading cause of death here in the US*¹, is an essential, life-sustaining activity while other elective surgeries, some truly life-saving have been postponed and cancelled! Our governor is very committed to this and being essentially a worshiper of Molech*² even vetoing a bill not fully supportive of his abortion extremism. Also here in Pennsylvania the marijuana shops are open as essential businesses and of course the state sponsored gambling ring continues unabated.

Mike Rowe, who had the series “Dirty Jobs” also has a problem with this notion of what constitutes essential. “There’s something tricky with the language going on here, because with regard to an economy, I don’t think there is any such thing as a nonessential worker. This is basically a quilt… and if you start pulling on jobs and tugging on careers over here and over there, the whole thing will bunch up in a weird way.” *³

Today let us consider three purposes and blessings of work:

1) Our work is a means of honoring God as we acknowledge and follow the pattern and cycle established by God at creation.“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:11). The fourth commandment is usually summarized, “Remember the  Sabbath day, to keep it holy” However the text continues, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work”. Thus a proper understanding of the fourth commandment is both a command to rest and a command to work. Now so many ignore one or both of these commands!

2) Our work is a means in which we provide for our needs and that of our family.“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thessalonians 4:11,12). In fact, later in his second book to the Thessalonians, Paul emphasized this need for personal responsibility and sober consequences for disobedience, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). The KJV uses the word “infidel”.

3) Our work is a means in which we may be useful and productive to society.Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28).

God has ordained that humans be involved in useful and productive work. The “something to share” may be the benefit of the product or service we labor for or the wages received for the labor and the ability to share them. We consider all who work to provide a useful product or service.

Albert Lee writes, “In Ephesians 4:17-32, we are given a list of actions that characterize those who belong to Christ. Included in the list is the command to work for a living. The motivation given for work was not to accumulate wealth but to have something to share with others. From the Biblical perspective, therefore, work is useful and most fulfilling when it enables us to help others. Our work does have meaning, especially when we realize that it is God-given, and that we please Him when we share its fruit with others.”

Let’s be thankful for all work; for our employers, co-workers, and for the strength, skills and know-how that God has given us to live productive and prosperous lives. It is our thoughts that people who want to work will use the safety guidelines to combat the dangerous virus even as they work to make a living. All companies establish safety rules and from time to time or during various procedures safety rules are reviewed and if needed they are revised to deal with the current dangers of their workplace. May the Lord grant both our government and corporate leaders wisdom and common sense.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You teach us to work, to do something useful with our hands, that we may care for our own as well as sharing with those in need. Help us to be mindful of the daily blessing of health and strength that makes it possible for us to be productive, contributing members of our society.  Help us to recognize the blessing of labor and do our work heartily as for You, knowing that it is from You that we receive Your blessing through our obedience. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Christ Is All”  Video  Matt Boswell · Matt Papa
 
“Lord From Sorrows Deep I Call (Psalm 42)”  Video  Matt Boswell · Matt Papa

 

 
Here are some photos from the Rye harvest last Saturday in the field across from our home.
 
Rye harvest in Lancaster County 5/2/20Several days prior to this, the rye was cut and raked out for it to dry. The next to last step was a merger which placed the cut rye in windrows.


Rye harvest in Lancaster County 5/2/20
From the back yard view: The harvester loads the rye into one of four trailers to transport the rye back to the farm where it will be used to feed a 1,000 cow milking operation. High producing dairy cows will eat 110 to 120 pounds of wet feed a day or 50 to 55 pounds of dry matter (DM) a day.

Rye harvest in Lancaster County 5/2/20
We were out the evening of the harvest so Ester captured several photos including the coordination between the harvester and the tractors which is essential. Ideally, another tractor with trailer will be right behind when full and the machine only stops for a few seconds as the other trailer drives up under it.

Rye harvest in Lancaster County 5/2/20
The trailers hold a lot of material!
 
Finally today:

James discharge from hospital 5/2/20
For over 17 years we have been very close to the Lapp family and often feature pictures of the windmill, barn and animals on the Old Windmill Farm. We met Jesse and Anna Ruth right after they got married and became our neighbors here on Kraybill Church Road. In recent years we’ve even taken on the loving role of grandparent figures in the seven children’s lives. Stephen was especially heartened when the Lapps chose to name their youngest (now 2½ years old) after him. The children have biological grandparents but ours is simply a loving role and they seem to enjoy it as well. Ester refers to her relationship with them as “Auntie Ester”.

Thirteen year old Eli James, called Jamie, injured his left arm requiring surgery to repair a severe cut. His recovery will be lengthy and testy for a very active 13 year old Amish boy accustomed to a of life of adventure. He is one of the favorite tour guides on the Old Windmill Farm.

 
For those of you who enjoy sending Get Well cards his address is:
 
James Lapp
262 Paradise Lane,
Ronks, PA 17572
 
Or for those who might like to send a brief email to Jamie send it to our address (scweber@dailyencouragement.net) and we will compile all the responses, print them out and take to James. He would probably find it interesting if you share where you are from.
 
Thank you for your consideration.

“The Full Message Of New Life”

 
Geese family at Donegal Creek (Joshua Binkley)Donegal Creek Canadian Goose family
Photo by Joshua, click to enlarge
 

“The Full Message Of New Life”
 

Message summary: We are to continue telling people the full message of this new life, known theologically as regeneration.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20).

New life is teeming in our neck of the woods. We really enjoy seeing the many signs of new life which is so plentiful in the spring. Wherever you live we hope you have opportunities to see new life as well.

We often refer to our walks or bike rides along Donegal Creek where we see so much of God’s untamed creation along the way. Squirrels scamper along the limbs over our heads, ducks patiently incubating their eggs giving us the wary eye, a family of goslings falling in line with their mom and dad as they swim along the creek while newly hatched fish are waggling their tiny tails through the water. Amongst the increasing turmoil of this world we enjoy the haven of nature, God’s handiwork.

Just as we see new life in the natural world we can be sure that in the spiritual realm there continues to be new life. In the drive-in service we attended on Sunday the Pastor challenged attendees to accept the Lord and begin a new life, seeking a creative way to give an altar call at a drive-in service.

“Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life” is the message an angel gave to the apostles when they were miraculously delivered from jail. It’s actually a reinforcement of the Great Commission they had received from Christ before He ascended into heaven. They were taking His command very seriously which is how they landed in jail in the first place. This message remains for all generations of the church age.

“Go, stand in the temple courts”. This is a call to taking a very public stand. God didn’t set them free primarily for their safety or comfort. Although their rescue from prison was surely a great blessing it was also for a spiritual purpose – so they could continue their work. They were set free for a reason. Later when they were again ordered to stop proclaiming the gospel message they responded, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Acts 5 ends with this statement: “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ”.

“Tell the people the full message of this new life”. We are called to tell the people the full message. Thank the Lord for the entire revelation of the Holy Scriptures which is so needed. Careful, faithful, Biblical presentation includes all that God has spoken through the Scriptures: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

We are to continue to tell the people the full message of this new life, known theologically as regeneration. It should never get old or become routine. It’s our heart’s desire that Christ’s regenerating, transforming work continue to carry out His plan in our life. We want to keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We also want to witness transforming life in others as people receive “the full message of this new life”.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus, for His finished work on the cross, and the provision He made for us to be saved. We tend to share this message with others in bits and pieces but when the opportunity is at hand help us to compassionately deliver the “full message of this new life” we’ve been given. It isn’t ours to store on a shelf for safe keeping, but we are to share about the hope we have in Christ, though we might be ridiculed or turned away. People are dying every day without hope, many of them by their own hand, so we must share the good news of salvation that supplies us not only with forgiveness for our sins but also hope for this life and for all eternity. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“Redeemed”  Video  Big Daddy Weave
 
“I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary”  Video  Gaither Vocal Band  This song came to mind due to recalling these words:
 
I believe that the Christ
Who was slain on the cross
Has the power to change lives today
For He changed me completely
A new life is mine



 
More photos taken by Joshua near Donegal Creek
 
We enjoy getting photos from 12 year old Joshua, who is earnest in developing his photography skills! Brooksyne has taken several photos of the goslings but was frustrated because they are always across the stream making it hard for close-ups. We mentioned to Joshua we would like a good photo and he said he was working on it. Well, in our estimation, he has done a great job and we appreciate his sharing photos of the wildlife that gathers along Donegal Creek.
 
Donegal Creek mink (Joshua Binkley)
A mink drinking from Donegal Creek
 
Donegal Creek red-winged blackbird (Joshua Binkley)
For years we have seen the elusive Red-winged blackbird in the trees along Donegal Creek but lately they have also been at our feeders.
 
Donegal Creek Red-bellied woodpecker (Joshua Binkley)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
We didn’t know what some of his Joshua’s bird photos were so we used an interesting feature in the Google search engine which allows you to load a photo and then identifies it! Please correct us if our determination is wrong!
 
Donegal Creek yellow-rumped warbler (Joshua Binkley)
Yellow-rumped warbler
 
Donegal Creek song sparrow (Joshua Binkley)
Song sparrow
 
Donegal Creek goose in flight (Joshua Binkley)
Consider the strength this Canadian Goose needed to start this flight!
 
Finally today:
 
Flooding along Donegal Creek
Following several inches of rain we had flooding along Donegal Creek so the only way we could get from the dirt trail onto the paved portion without wading through the flooded portion was by bicycle. The ducks were sure excited about their expanded water ways in the formerly dry pasture land.

“The Blessing Of Meeting Together”

Drive-in church service 5/3/20
A drive-in church service.
 

“The Blessing Of Meeting Together”
 

Message summary: Rest in the assurance that He will continue to lead us and join me in declaring this day, “His faithful follower I will be!”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24,25).

We went out to church yesterday for the first time since mid-March. Like many of you we have been watching services online but we have really felt the need to congregate with other believers. Brooksyne saw that a local church had a drive-in service so we decided to check it out. We are sure glad we did.

We were welcomed as we drove in the parking lot by a couple of church members and then the traffic controller directed us to our parking spot. A friendly pastor’s wife walked up the rows between cars greeting us again as we waited for the service to begin. Upon further discussion we realized our paths had crossed in past years.

As you can see in the photo the church had a trailer with the stage on it and used an FM station to transmit the service. We expressed our “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” with the honk of a horn or an upraised hand outside the car window. The pastor had a very good message from Habakkuk and it was especially gratifying to hear the honking Amens or see the uplifted hands raised to the sky.

A verse from Hebrews 10:25 came to our minds after we pulled into the church parking lot: “not neglecting to meet together”. Well, after our experience yesterday we can say that even meeting in a parking lot seemed more fulfilling than online. We could at least smile at those around us and, after many weeks of ecclesiastical isolation, there was something oddly special about being around other people although we were all seated in our own cars we were worshiping together live in “outdoor church”.

However hopefully we can all get back to regular services soon sharing germs and all. We also hope the convention* of shaking hands and hugging will not be lost to antiquity!

Hopefully in some manner you were also in church yesterday and received fresh strength from the Lord as you heard the songs of our faith and His Word proclaimed. Unfortunately, in the New Testament period, even as now, some had forsaken this important element of meeting together for growth and discipleship.  As we see the Day of Christ’s return drawing ever close we need the God-ordained encouragement that comes from fellowshipping with “one another” on a regular basis.

Thank God for those who remain faithful followers in our own day. Faithful ministers who preach God’s Word in an uncompromising manner, dedicated lay people who live out their faith before an oft-scorning world, married couples who take the marital covenant seriously, parents who raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and church communities “not neglecting to meet together“.

Christ said “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). This statement has often intrigued me. Will He? Join me today in making a renewed commitment in staying faithful to our God as we daily heed His call upon our lives. Rest in the assurance that He will continue to lead us and join me in declaring this day, “His faithful follower I will be!”

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.


 
Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You lead us through the mountain top experiences and deep valleys of everyday life, including that of pandemic disease or illness. We’re so grateful for Your strength and encouragement and that which we receive from our brothers and sisters who bear our burdens and share in our joys which increases and strengthens our faith. May our faith grow so that we don’t have just infant faith but a full-blown, tested and tried faith, which leads us to fully submit our lives to You, our Sovereign God, faithful Provider, and soon coming King. Amen.

* Brooksyne questioned the use of this word convention in this context. Here’s the definition I am using “a usual or accepted way of behaving, especially in social situations, often following an old way of thinking or a custom in one particular society” from here.
 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

 
“He Leadeth Me”  Video  Sovereign Grace Music
 
Shane and Shane I Will Wait for You

“I Will Wait”  Video  Shane and Shane  This song is so gripping, especially in this season.
 
“Only A Holy God”  Video  CityAlight
 
Dorothy, a friend of ours sent this over: College Church Hallelujah Chorus Video  Very creative to brighten your day!
 

 
Some scenes from drive-in church

Drive-in church service 5/3/20
It was a small rural church located in a country setting.

Drive-in church service 5/3/20
Children will sure have some good memories of their church outdoor gathering in their vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic.

Drive-in church service 5/3/20
As Brooksyne looked around she mentioned that we have car neighbors instead of pew neighbors in our outdoor setting. Our car was sure excited about seeing a tractor a couple “pews” over. We don’t see tractors in our church parking lot on any given Sunday.

Drive-in church service 5/3/20
We always like it when the pastor greets us when we leave a church service. For several years we have attended a large church and sure miss this. The church offered ½ gallon of milk, dozen eggs and a bag of potatoes upon departure.
 

 

I had written that the beetle graveyard photo we shared on Friday for me prompted a consideration of Ezekiel’s vision of a valley with dry bones. Here are some responses from readers:
 
“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭6:19‬)

“Fish and birds and wild animals – even ants and beetles! – and every human being will tremble and shake before me. Mountains will disintegrate, terraces will crumble” (Ezekiel 39:20 paraphrase)

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God”
Psalm 20:7).

“Now that I’m old & my hair is gray, don’t abandon me, O GOD! Be with me while I proclaim your power to all generations to come” (Psalm 71:18).

“Dem dry bugs”, an allusion to this old spiritual song. Video

And one reader opined: “That old Volkswagen graveyard in Moab needs to be sent to Mike & Frank at American Pickers!”

Finally today:

Amish Sunday traffic 5/3/20
We wonder if our neighbors also had a drive-in service! For sure they had a beautiful afternoon to take a drive as it was one of the nicest days we’ve had this year!

“Age-old Foundations”

Bug graveyard (Howard Blichfeldt)“Dearly Departed”
Our friend Howard Blichfeldt took this photo in Moab, Utah.

Can anyone think of a suitable Scripture to go with this?
 
“Age-old Foundations”
 
Message summary: May God grant us strength to be the faithful remnant in our age who remain true to His ways, so that we witness a restoration of the age-old foundations as prescribed in the Bible!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell” (Isaiah 58:12). “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it'” (Jeremiah 6:16).

 
We are hearing a lot of talk now about rebuilding in this phase of the coronavirus saga. It will be a massive undertaking to see the economy restored and businesses rebuilt. This is a new month and we are thankful for faith-based optimism. Hopefully we will soon be back to our visitation as company chaplains as the restrictions are eased and church attendance will be restored.
 
In addition our country (and world) needs another type of rebuilding in a far greater way. We need those from among us who will rebuild the ancient ruins; raise up the age-old foundations; be called the repairers of the breach, the restorers of the streets in which to dwell.
 
Ruins from stone barn wall in Lancaster County PANear Donegal Springs, about 1½ miles from our home, is an old farm with an unusual sight for Lancaster County. A single stone barn wall remains erect, standing for many years after the barn burned down or was otherwise demolished. (We first noticed this sight shortly after we moved to our present home in 2002).

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

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

This refers to getting back to the old, Biblically correct ways. Most of us like new products or new methods but newer does not always means better. Jeremiah 6:16 states, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’”.

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

In our time there needs to be a rebuilding and raising up of age-old foundations. Alan Redpath, a British preacher who lived from 1907-1989 wrote,

“We live in a broken world. In every direction there are breaches which are wide and deep. There are broken hearts and broken homes, and that which once was sacred is but a waste place. Whereas once there was a carefully guarded fence around the sanctity of family life, sex life, and the right to personal privacy, now there is just a waste place. The wall of protection is in ruins, and (for many) life has lost all its meaning.”


Redpath wrote this at least a generation ago, yet his words are far more greatly evidenced today than at the time of his writing!

The Biblical prophet, Jeremiah, lived for God at the time of the fall of Jerusalem and the first period of the exile in Babylon about 2,600 years ago. His writings reveal the horrendous state of Jerusalem during its final days; they were desecrating the Sabbath, shedding innocent lives, sexually immoral, unjust, corrupt in leadership, and worshiping idols to name just a few of their serious offenses.

Fast forward to our generation and consider how much our society parallels Jerusalem just before its fall. Modern man is desecrating the Sabbath, shedding innocent lives, sexually immoral, unjust, corrupt in leadership, and worshiping idols to name just a few of the present day serious offenses.

May God grant us strength to be the faithful remnant in our age who remain true to His ways, so that we witness a restoration of the age-old foundations as prescribed in the Bible!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is through devout godly people that You rebuild, raise up, repair, and restore lives as they uphold the unchanging, ever relevant ancient words of Scripture. It takes faithful watchmen who serve with great vigilance, untiring in their ancient message of salvation to a world that is continuously desecrating that which was once viewed as sacred. Father, help us to be watchmen for our families and friends as we carefully measure the principles of this world by the principles established in Scripture. Grant us courage to speak out when the foundations are being shaken just as the watchmen were not silent night or day. We do not stand in the gap alone but You, our Father, are with us and we stand in Your strength! Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Christ Is Mine Forevermore”VideoCityAlight
Purple finchThis morning I took this photo of a purple finch feeding right outside our office window
Click to enlarge
Purple finch
I had my phone camera mounted on a stand near the window and snapped the photo using a bluetooth remote.
 
Finally today:
 
Regarding a suitable Scripture for today’s lead photo of the bug graveyard in Utah my thought is Ezekiel 37!
 

“The Peril Of Herd Mentality”

Blooming dogwoods at Donegal Springs

Blooming Dogwoods at Donegal Springs
 

“The Peril Of Herd Mentality”
 

Message summary: “We want you to know, worldly system, that we will not serve your gods or worship the many false images you have set up. We must obey the one true God rather than men. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord!”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

 
“We want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18). “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men'” (Acts 5:29). “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
 
During this coronavirus pandemic we are hearing some new medical concepts we don’t recall hearing before including, “herd immunity”. Now that sure doesn’t sound very politically correct and we imagine someone’s already probably been offended that we are likened to a herd!
 
Herd immunityHerd immunity happens when so many people in a community become immune to an infectious disease that it dramatically slows the disease. In regard to the current pandemic it is hoped that enough people contract the virus and become immune to it, and as a result are unable to pass it along, slowing the spread of the disease.
 
Last Saturday after we gave blood I was curious as to whether our blood would be tested for coronavirus antibodies, to see if we had already been exposed and thus have become a part of the herd. That would seem to me to make sense with all the testing they are doing but so far we have heard nothing in that regard.
 
Similar to this concept is an early childhood memory when my mom intentionally exposed my sister and me to Chickenpox. Apparently at that time it was considered best practice by mothers to have their children exposed and just get it over with, especially since it can have far more complications in adulthood. Now children are given a vaccine but I wonder if others may have a similar memory. As this site explains: “Chickenpox is one of those things you probably got as a kid—either spontaneously or after your parents deliberately exposed you at an early age. Why? Because chickenpox in adults is way worse.” Early in our ministry we indeed had a grown man in our church who got chickenpox and it was quite an ordeal for him.

Herd mentality
 
Herd mentalityBut there’s another phrase beginning with “herd” we all have probably heard of; “herd mentality”. Herd mentality is the inclination for individuals within a group to follow along with what the group at large thinks or does. It’s very similar to peer pressure. Wikipedia describes it, “Herd mentality, mob mentality and pack mentality, also lesser known as gang mentality, describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational, basis. When individuals are affected by mob mentality, they may make different decisions than they would have individually.”
 
Herd mentality leads to herd morality when our understanding of right and wrong is not derived from personal convictions based on Scripture but rather whatever the crowd deems acceptable at the time. “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong” (Exodus 23:2).

No compromise album coverThe photo to the left is from one of our all-time favorite album covers; Keith Green’s “No Compromise”. Set in an Old Testament period, the people are required to bow before the passing king. But one brave soul, true to his convictions, remains standing in obedient defiance while the “herd” bows in compliance. A soldier on a horse is pointing him out. We are left wondering what consequence he faced for doing the right thing in the eyes of the One True King (Exodus 20:3-6).


Today let’s consider three Bible characters who went against the herd mentality; the three Hebrews in our daily Bible verse who,
when given the choice between complying and bowing down to the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, or defying his orders and being thrown into a fiery furnace. The three Hebrews replied to King Nebuchadnezzar, “We want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18). That’s one of the greatest examples of principled defiance in the Bible.

 
But their defiance did lead them to the fiery furnace and it’s the most dramatic part of the story that most are especially familiar with; their supernatural deliverance.
 
Following their miraculous deliverance from the fiery furnace Nebuchadnezzar gave them one of the highest commendations imaginable: “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and rescued His servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (Daniel 3:28).

There is an ancient and ongoing contest between two opposing worldviews; one that is raging to this day and will do so until the return of the Lord. In fact I expect it will get far more intense as God judges the compromising church. Let us determine that we will not succumb to herd mentality but will seek to please the Lord whatever the cost.

 
Let’s paraphrase the defying statement of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and two other texts to make it more general for all types of defiance in all ages: “We want you to know, worldly system, that we will not serve your gods or worship the many false images you have set up. We must obey the one true God rather than men. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord!”
 
 
Be encouraged today,
 

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber


Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have given us a free will to make our own choices; whether to live according to the ever-changing principles of this world or the unchanging principles of our Creator. That which comes from the world gratifies the desires of the flesh and brings only temporal satisfaction, but that which comes from the Creator gratifies our soul bringing eternal pleasures forevermore. Help us to choose wisely keeping the eternal perspective ever before us as we pledge our allegiance and make decisions in our temporal dwelling. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


“No Compromise” (AKA “Make My Life a Prayer to You”)  Video  Keith Green
 
“I Am Persuaded”  Video  Travis Cottrell  An outstanding song based on Romans 8:38-39.
 
“Glorious Day”  Video  Shadow Mountain Community Church  We attended a service at this church several years ago.
 
Duckling on Old Windmill FarmEster took this photo of Brooksyne holding a tiny duckling on the Old Windmill Farm. She’s gently holding back its head so we could get a shot of its whole body including the web feet.  A duckling can be rejected by its mother when it is sick, injured or simply a late hatchling. Sadly, this duckling had not been lovingly cared for by its mother so the Lapp family is doing their best to keep it alive and growing healthy.
 
Duckling on Old Windmill Farm
Here’s the close-up of the duck’s head.
 
Canada Geese family near Donegal Creek
Canada Goose family near Donegal Creek last evening. We spotted two sets of goslings and one set of ducklings, but it sure is hard to get a good photo (they are very camera shy:).
 
Blooming dogwoods close-up
Blooming Dogwood

“Living In A Perilous Time”

Shock's Mill railroad bridge from Northwest River Trail

Shock’s Mill railroad bridge from the Northwest River Trail
Click on photo to enlarge
 
“Living In A Perilous Time”

 

Message summary: God’s Word teaches us the way to live. Love God.  Honor and obey our parents. Respect life. Uphold moral standards. When God and His ways are rejected perilous times come. Man reaps what he sows, both individually and as a society.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:10,11). “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1).

We live in a perilous time. Now surely each generation has been able to say that to various degrees and all of us, as individuals and families, have experienced times of peril and trouble in life.

Presently we are all sharing in a peril as we deal with a world-wide pandemic but this isn’t the first or even the most deadly. Concerning the end times Jesus said, there will be “pestilences”. This is a passage I have surely read many times but am not sure I really thought much about the “pestilences”.  A pestilence is defined as “any virulent or fatal contagious or infectious disease, especially one of epidemic proportions”. The Amplified Bible states, “[deadly and devastating] pestilences (plagues, epidemics)”. See Luke 21:11 in various translations

But our perilous time includes so much more than the present pandemic. Violence and perversions abound. Millions (probably hundreds of millions) of people on earth hate Jesus Christ along with His followers and many consider it a religious virtue to kill us.

Certainly there have been believers in any generation in this present church age who felt that they lived in perilous times and indeed many have. Consider believers who lived during the Black Plague in Europe that killed over thirty percent of the population during the late Middle Ages.

There are places today that face chronic adversity much greater than most of us face over our lifetime. However I believe worldwide there is a subtle yet systematic undermining of the Christian’s right to freely express and even practice faith that is leading to outright persecution.

The secular worldview scoffs at the view I espouse, but the primary problem in the world remains spiritual; not social, psychological or economic. More specifically, and yet it is seen as culturally and politically incorrect in these “tolerant” and diverse times, the main need is the message of salvation through the only Savior Jesus Christ who died for our sins!!!

In the New International Version the phrase “perilous times” is translated “terrible times”. The underlying Greek word for perilous or terrible is used only one other place in the entire New Testament describing the Gaderene demoniacs as “fierce” and “violent”. Doesn’t that increasingly describe our times? The Apostle Paul emphasized that perilous times shall come.

God’s Word teaches us the way to live. Love God.  Honor and obey our parents. Respect life. Uphold moral standards. When God and His ways are rejected perilous times come. Man reaps what he sows, both individually and as a society.

But God has promised better things for those who remain faithful to Him! Where is your citizenship today? Paul wrote from prison, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20,21). John wrote from Patmos, during the fierce reign of Emperor Domitian, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Be encouraged today and stay faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ in these perilous times!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, life’s experiences teach us that darkness and turbulence rage around us, so help us to hear the Prince of Peace calmly say, “Peace be still” to our anxious hearts. May our steadfast trust be found in the One who calms the storms and not in world leaders who have made such a mockery of world peace throughout history. When world conflict and deadly pestilence closes in grant us faith to know that nothing of evil origin can ever separate us from Your love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Conflict will always exist in this current world, but I thank You, Peace-speaker, for resolving the inner conflict within my heart and for all who trust in You.

Brooksyne digging deeper: For a reminder of the fact that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord in the midst of trouble, hardship, persecution, danger or any other frightening situation read Romans 8:28-39. Better yet this is an excellent portion to memorize as I did years ago (though admittedly I need to re-memorize portions of it). This passage is so faith building, comforting and reassuring in the midst of adversity.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources


"Perilous Times" Sensational Nightingales“Perilous Times”  Video  The Sensational Nightingales
 
I first heard of the Sensational Nightingales almost 40 years ago when we saw the very thoughtful “The Music Box”, a classic film parable that has been seen all over the world. The story of a man living a gloomy existence who is given a joyous gift but refuses to share it, Music Box is a delightful musical Christian parable about sharing the joy in Christ. Video
 
Eagle

“Eagle sight”  Video  Linda, a reader from West Virginia sent us this video in response to yesterday’s message about eagle eyesight. This eagle is being released off a skyscraper in Dubai and flying down to his handler demonstrating his incredible eyesight and other senses!

“Psalm 91 (On Eagles Wings)”  Video   Shane and Shane (song suggested by the same reader)
 


 
Northwest Lancaster County River Trail
 
River Trail signWe have been getting out for walks along the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail, a beautiful recreational trail along the Susquehanna River about 5 miles from our home. We usually ride our bikes along this trail but so far this year we have been walking. Last night we had the dogs with us and of course they enjoyed the sights and smells, though they pulled away as we neared the surging river in certain areas.
 
For many years this trail was essentially inaccessible but in the last ten years has been developed and much of it is now paved. Presently there is another great trail along the Susquehanna River in Manor Township, not connected to this one. This will be connected to the former Low Grade railroad line through southern Lancaster County.
 
Shock's Mill railroad bridge from Northwest River Trail

Shock’s Mill railroad bridge from the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail was built over 100 years ago.
Click on photo to enlarge
 
Abandoned railroad tunnel on Northwest River Trail
The trail now goes through a long abandoned railroad tunnel north of Columbia, PA.
 
Chiques Creek from Northwest River Trail

Chiques Creek from Northwest River Trail walking bridge where it flows into the Susquehanna River.
 
Walking along active rail line near the Northwest River Trail
Walking along an active rail line near the Northwest River Trail. Stephen was hoping a train would come by, but it was not to be, no matter how long we drew out our walk.
 
Brook near the Northwest River Trail
Part of the trail runs below bluffs, including Chiques Rock, and these small brooks run down into the river.