Flowers on barn side 7/12/15
Flowers growing along side of barn.

“The Value Of Spiritual Fitness”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (I Timothy 4:7b,8). “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith” (Jude 20).

Take time to be holy,
the world rushes on

Personal trainer Our neighbor is a personal trainer. Essentially personal trainers develop unique physical exercise programs for individuals to help them get in good physical shape and maintain it.

I realize the importance of keeping myself physically fit and admit that I am not in the shape I would desire. This summer we have been doing a lot of biking in an attempt to improve our physical health. The accumulative effects of sports injuries over the years are taking their toll, as well as my ongoing struggle with too much weight and the discipline of getting regular exercise. Sound familiar?

Stephen running track relay in high schoolWhen I was younger I focused a lot on physical fitness and was involved in a variety of athletic pursuits including track and cross country. The photo to the left was taken about 45 years ago when I suppose I was in optimum physical shape, running for a relay team at Truman High School in Independence, Missouri. I am preparing to receive the baton and run my leg of the relay.

Likewise there is a time we as spiritual leaders accept the baton in our younger years of ministry. As we age we in turn pass the baton on to those who follow us in contending for the faith.

Emphasis on exercise is not a new phenomenon. After all “Ancient Greek and Roman culture put a high value on physical exercise. Paul tells Timothy that the same work and commitment that others put toward physical exercise should be put toward the pursuit of godliness.” (David Guzik)

Today let us consider spiritual fitness, which is comparatively of much greater value than physical fitness. There’s a tendency, due to an emphasis on truths regarding our positional relationship with Christ, that we might assume our role in this spiritual fitness is merely passive. We’ve heard the phrase, “let go and let God”, and may assume any effort on our part is carnal. However, let us carefully examine the  two daily Scriptures. Both speak of an active responsibility on the believer’s part in developing and maintaining spiritual fitness.

1 Timothy 4:8In the first text the apostle Paul addressed Timothy (and every believing reader through the Holy Scriptures, including you and me); “Train yourself to be godly.”  The verb is active.  The NASV translates this phrase, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness”. The word for train and discipline is “gumnazo” from which we get the English words, “gym” and “gymnastics”.  The word is surely used in an athletic sense but, for the believer, the training’s purpose is spiritual godliness, which has comparatively much greater value both in this life and the life to come. After all, one can be in optimum physical condition here yet have no preparations at all for their life hereafter.

“For physical training is of some value.” Pastor Steven Cole comments, “Paul is not despising bodily exercise. Rather, he is making a comparison between bodily exercise and spiritual exercise. It’s fine to discipline your physical body; it will help you for a few years. But it’s far better to discipline yourself spiritually, because it will put you in good stead not only in this life, but also in the life to come. We ought to work much harder at godliness than we do at our games.”

You, as a loyal reader of this dailyencouragement ministry, are exercising spiritual discipline as you read our daily Bible text and the lesson that follows. As you pray and perhaps avail yourself to included Christian music or further teaching links, and most especially as you apply Biblical truths we present you are daily engaging in spiritual training.

Jude 20In the second text the apostle Jude, in his small one-chapter epistle, charges his readers to, “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith”.

What kind of spiritual shape are you in today? Although always important, given the increasingly evil days in which we live, we need to make a concerted effort to be spiritually fit. After all, we do want to finish the race well, don’t we!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we build ourselves up in the most holy faith as we pray in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Spiritual training for the believer is not just for starters but it’s for all who come under the banner of salvation, from the child mature enough to recognize his need for a Savior to the most senior saint among us. As we submit ourselves to Your authority, Your leading, and Your commands we are training ourselves to be spiritually fit for the heavenly kingdom. Help us not to grow lazy or indifferent toward spiritual truths, instead shape us into the kind of believer that brings glory to Your name while it also builds us up in our most holy faith. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Yesterday we shared a message about “Friends On Earth And Friends Above”. Jim, a friend from Texas, sent this poem, which sadly reflects reality too often:

To dwell above with saints we love,
That will be grace and glory.
To live below with saints we know;
Now, that’s another story!

Colorful scenes in Lancaster County

Zinnia harvest 7/14/15
Yesterday on a bike ride down our road we watched the migrant workers harvesting Zinnias from the commercial flower farm down the road from us. We would have chatted but they didn’t speak English yet were pleased to have their photo taken.

Amish planting contraption 7/14/15
Anyone know what this Amish planting contraption is? We saw it yesterday in a field just beyond the commercial flower farm.

Cantaloupes for sale 7/10/15
Harvest season is well under way although the sign says “August is PA Produce Month”.
These cantaloupes sell for 50 cents each so you can probably guess what we’re having a lot of!

Outhouse and washtubs on Amish farm 7/12/15
A deactivated outhouse and washtubs, presumably also deactivated.

Old-order Mennonite farm 7/10/15
A tidy old-order Mennonite farm

Old-order Mennonite cart 7/10/15
We encounter such a wide variety of conveyance.
The fenders set this buggy apart!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Take Time To Be Holy”  Video  Dallas Christian Adult Concert Choir

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 work horse 7/12/15
Work Horse on an Amish Farm.
I took this photo last Sunday when I visited Eli and Kate’s farm.

“Friends On Earth And Friends Above”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Yesterday some friends stopped by and we enjoyed visiting for a few minutes. Brooksyne and I are blessed with many friends; locally, distant, overseas and even in cyberspace including those of you who drop us a line here and there. As we get older we especially value our long-term friendships. But we also enjoy making new friends as well.

There’s a hymn many of us have sung with an interesting line. “Friends on earth and friends above.” Do you recognize what hymn this line comes from? (We”ll tell you below!).

We easily identify with the words “Friends on earth”. Some we see regularly, others less frequently. Social media has given us the ability to stay connected easier and in some cases connect again with long lost friends. But we still prefer old-fashioned face to face fellowship with our friends.

What a blessing friends are. A great line from the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life” states, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

But as we age we have more and more “friends above”. The hymnwriter here is surely referring to those who have gone on to be with the Lord. Throughout life this lists grows till there’s a point our “friends above” exceed “friends on earth”. Our seniors at the nursing home tell us they have more friends and family in heaven than here on earth. I like the story about the elderly lady in the nursing home that was living long on this side and was worried that her “friends above” would think she didn’t make it!

I have two friends who are now in their 80’s. They didn’t know each other most of their lives but in the last several years have become good friends. Of course we continue to develop new friendships along the way and expect that many of these will also become long-term.

Our daily text speaks of a future event all believers look forward to. It’s a time when “friends on earth and friends above” will gather in heaven.

It’s a familiar passage dealing with what is commonly called the rapture. Today though we want to consider especially this thought, “We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

This describes a great gathering of family and friends who are redeemed; a time when “friends on earth and friends above” will converge together with Jesus in their midst. It will be the ultimate gathering and will include several notable, distinct features, unlike any gathering ever held here on earth:

  • It will include all who have lived for Christ (believers). We are now separated by the time in which we lived (generation) and where we have lived (geography).
  • Our “family and friends” will be greatly expanded. Those who followed Christ will be there from every tribe and language and people and nation. What a joy the last several months to get to know our Zimbabwean neighbors. I consider so many we have never met that would provide even more depth and richness to my life. The redeemed from all the ages will be at this gathering. Our common bloodline will be the divine, redeeming blood of Jesus Christ! We finally get to meet many of you we have only connected with through email or on the web through this ministry. We’ll meet our courageous brothers and sisters contacting us from closed countries who currently experience persecution.
  • It will be in the loveliest location. It will far, far exceed any place we gather on this earth. We’ve been to some mighty pretty areas, as the Creator sure made a masterpiece on this earth, but this gathering will be in heaven. Though John the Revelator gives us a glimpse into the new Jerusalem no eye has seen nor can the imagination conjure up all that is in store for the believer.
  • We will be with Christ. Theologian R.C. Sproul writes, “Eternal life for the individual is not an empty human aspiration built on myth, but an assurance promised us by Christ Himself. His own triumph over the grave is the church’s hope for our participation in His life.”
  • This gathering will be forever. No more tearful hugs of departure. No more, “See ya next year” when that just may not be the case. No, in this ultimate reunion “We will be with the Lord forever.” Notice that wonderful pronoun “we”, which refers to both the dead in Christ as well as those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord. And it will include the abiding presence of the Lord. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Won’t it be wonderful there! Today we “encourage you with these words” as directed in the Scriptures. One glorious day “friends on earth and friends above” will all be together transitioning to their eternal reward and fellowshipping together forever.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I consider the character traits that make a healthy friendship: loyalty, compassion, kindness, honesty, patience, forgiveness and a listening ear are just a few of the qualities that are evident in a good friendship. There are so many stories in the Gospels where these qualities are easily seen in the friendships Jesus had with the disciples and others. May the foundation of my friendships be based on godly traits as I come alongside my friends to encourage, challenge, inspire, and stimulate them toward good works in Your name.  Amen.


“Friends On Earth And Friends Above”

Do you recognize the hymn where this line comes from? (See below)

“Friends on earth”
Pierce family 7/13/15
Yesterday afternoon our friends Ken and Nila and children stopped by for a few minutes. They had been working at his parent’s house in anticipation of an open house on Saturday. His parents, Luke and Anna Mae, now reside in Longwood Manor, a nursing facility we serve as chaplains. Just an few weeks ago we were preparing to say good-bye on this side as he was nearing death at our local Hospice. But God had other plans and restored him. He is back at Longwood much stronger and he continues to be a blessing to those around him. We met his son, Ken, right after we moved to Lancaster County in 2001 and he has been a tremendous blessing to our church and to us personally. He married Nila several years later and we have enjoyed watching the family grow. We saw each of these children on the day they made their entrance into the world, including David, the son in the middle, whose 8th birthday is today!  Happy Birthday!

Pierce family July 14, 2007
David, the oldest son, on the day of his birth in 2007.

“And friends above”
Bill Shibilo with Ester (mid-nineties)

Fifteen years ago this month our friend Bill Shibilo went to be with the Lord. He was a longtime faithful member of the church we served in New England during the nineties. He and his wife Veda, who is still living, were very supportive of our ministry. We thank God for our “friends above”. Not only are we looking forward to the reunion, but Ester can hardly wait to see Bro. Bill again. In this photo he is graciously and voluntarily preparing our garden, located right next to the side of the church we pastored in Taunton, MA (part of our small yard). Our parsonage was on the other side of this photo. Ester always enjoyed chatting with him and staying with them.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

The line “Friends on earth and friends above” comes from the third stanza of…
“For The Beauty Of The Earth”  Video

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

“Won’t It Be Wonderful There”  Video  Homecoming Singers

Carl White’s Legacy  Video


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.

“Let It Shine!”

July 13, 2015

Amish family on way to church 7/12/15
Yesterday morning I came up behind this Amish family on the way to church. Rarely am I in the heavily Amish area of Lancaster County on the Lord’s Day but yesterday I picked up some friends to visit us for the day. One of the great sights was seeing many Amish families walking to church pulling their children in wagons. (I didn’t take a photo. It would have been awkward since our Amish friends were in the van with me but they agreed it was an interesting sight as well!)

“Let It Shine!”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right.
What could be too great a cost
For sharing life with one who’s lost?

Mike is an earnest follower of Christ who works in one of the companies we visit as chaplains. He seeks to let his light shine in part by placing a short, spiritual message on a small whiteboard in his work area which many pass each day. For many years I have been posting photos of these messages and have on occasion suggested a message for him to use. In fact I have posted 15 of these messages on Daily Encouragement!

Whiteboard witness Mike has a new message which prompted some reflection on my part: “What Is Your Visual Reminder Of God’s Love?”

For me that can vary. In church it might be focusing upon the Cross. During communion it can be the elements. In church yesterday I was mindful of God’s love as children quoted numerous Bible verses that spoke of Christ’s sacrificial love. Sitting next to me were our Amish friends and I was reminded of God’s love as the young daughter sat on her father’s lap and playfully fingered his beard while he listened attentively to Pastor John’s sermon.

I love nature (God’s creation) and see many reminders of His love in the world He made including last evening’s stunning sunset lowering over the cornfield across from our house.

My (Brooksyne) most recent reminder took place this morning when I walked through our vegetable and flower gardens. With the plenteous rains and sunshine the vibrant colors and healthy plants are stunning. It prompted praise to God for His abundance this summer season.

Now we ask you. What are your visual reminders of God’s love?

But Mike’s whiteboard witness prompts another question: “In what ways is my life a visual reminder of God’s love to others?”

A familiar song many of us learned as a child in Sunday School or VBS declares:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
let it shine. let it shine. let it shine.

Based on a passage many of us memorized from the words of the Lord, the key words we are considering today are: “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others.”

Pastor Phil Newton comments concerning the phrase “”You are the light of the world.” “Jesus uses the same language of Himself in John 8:12, ‘I am the Light of the world.’ That passage speaks of light in an originative sense. He is the origin of such light so that He can add, ‘He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’ Christians are light in a derivative sense in that the light we have comes as a result of our relationship to Jesus Christ. We do not produce the light, but like the moon that reflects the light of the sun, we too reflect the light of His indwelling life.”

Today we need followers of Christ to take His light and spread it out in this world where there is so much darkness.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, the Psalmist writes that those who look to You are radiant. Perhaps only You see such radiance, yet any brightness that flows from us is possible because we reflect the light of Your indwelling life much like the moon that reflects the light of the sun. Thank You for choosing to dwell among the human race through the person of Jesus, and thank You for choosing to dwell within the hearts of all who are yielded to Your Spirit. Through Christ we pray. Amen.


Following our church service yesterday our friends joined us for a cookout and afternoon together before returning them to their dairy farm in the late afternoon. Our Zimbabwean friends joined us as well as Nick, a young man who had come to visit Ester.

Amish children with Billy bass 7/12/15
The children sure had fun playing with my singing “Billy Bass” in our shed.*

Children playing duck, duck, goose 7/12/15
Children playing “Duck, Duck, Goose”
This game is played among the Amish as well as in Zimbabwe!

Crossing creek on log
After lunch we drove over to the Riverfront park along the Susquehanna River where the kids played in the water and took a hike.

A visit by the river 7/12/15
Practicing old-fashioned social media.
The young one couldn’t take her eyes of the ducklings below.

Scooter ride
A pleasant trail for a scooter ride even if the three year old is riding a scooter built for older children. She held her own and gracefully balanced the two wheels!

Amish ride
Back on the farm late yesterday afternoon the Zimbabwean boys got a ride on a cart pulled by a miniature horse.

Amish ride
So did the big old American boy riding over to visit Jesse’s parents, Eli and Kate.

Nick milking on Amish farm 7/12/15
Nick, a young man whom Ester met from my brother’s church, came down for a visit. Nick has experience as a farm hand and, after spending the day with us, he stayed around to help Jesse with the milking and joined them for good old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch food. This cow appears to be saying, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“This Little Light Of Mine”  Video  Soweto Gospel Choir

“People Need The Lord”  Video  Steve Green

“Tell The World Of His Love”  Video

* Singing “Billy Bass”  Video  Just in case you’ve never seen or heard one!


Contact UsSend 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.

Well-watered garden
A well-watered garden on an Amish farm.
The rains this summer have been frequent and abundant.
The gardens are vibrant and green and for that we are very thankful.

“The Blessing Of Forgiveness”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7,8).

For some time we’ve noticed our washing machine was leaking water. It was just a slight leak for several months and we had been keeping an eye on it. But when I was out of town last week whatever was wrong went really wrong and Brooksyne had a “major” flood. She had to remove a lot of items that got soaked, dried them out, and of course we had that musty smell we both so enjoy. NOT really!

After confirming the leak when I got home it was evident we needed a new washer. Based on the serial number we determined this Sears washer, which the previous owner left when we bought the home, was at least 34 to 40 years old so we really can’t complain! We purchased a new washer and it was delivered yesterday.

New washer and dryer 7/9/15To save money I installed it myself and thought I was doing pretty good. After hooking everything up I had to make an adjustment to make it level. We ran a load of wash and I went back to work. Sometime through the cycle I heard Brooksyne scream, “STEPHEN”, which in our house usually means something is wrong.

I ran into the laundry room to find it flooded with water gushing out all over. It turns out that after leveling the machine I forgot to place the drain hose back in! So, once again, we worked hard to get all the water up, set up the fans again, and get everything dried out. Brooksyne dealt with a flood and all the clean-up twice in a little more than a week. I was blessed when she declared, “You’re forgiven.”

Forgiveness from other humans is a real blessing and essential in any long-lasting relationship, especially marriage. However, today let us consider the much bigger and far more important blessing of God’s forgiveness. God extends forgiveness to all who confess and repent of their sins. An excellent example of this can be seen in the life of the Psalmist, David.

His sin with Bathsheba is recorded in 2 Samuel 11 & 12 and Psalm 51 is David’s written confession when Nathan rebuked him. Nathan’s rebuke to David included the pointed judgment, “You are the man!” which finally led to David’s confession, “I have sinned against the Lord.” This led to his seeking forgiveness and you can read his written confession in Psalm 51. It is a Psalm of repentance that we can all read and personally apply to our own lives.

Nathan pronounced God’s forgiveness when David made his brief confession in 2 Samuel 12, “The LORD has taken away your sin” (v.13). But apparently David in contemplating his sin then wrote his plea for mercy in Psalm 51. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” (51:1,2). In V. 10 we come to the familiar passage sung in many circles where David earnestly prays, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (51:10-12).

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Whether David wrote this before or after the events of 2 Samuel 11 is immaterial for we  live in constant need of forgiveness, coming short in one way or another of the glory of God.

Erwin LutzerBible teacher Erwin Lutzer (who happens to be one of our many favorite Bible teachers) observes: “When the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand stripped of all our accustomed defenses, we are candidates for God’s generous grace.” As we empty ourselves of that which stands between us and God we can once again experience the blessing of God’s forgiveness.

The blessedness of forgiveness remains the promise to all who earnestly come to God in belief, confession and repentance. It’s at the very heart of God’s salvation offered to the human race.  Accept this generous grace today and proclaim with the Psalmist, “But with You there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4).  When God forgives He removes the sin and restores the soul!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I pray that You would wash me so that I will be whiter than snow. Hide Your face from my sins which are great and dishonor You so much that I can’t bear for You to look upon them. Blot out all my iniquity. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth that will enable me to declare Your praise.  It isn’t the burnt offering that You delight in but the sacrifice of my broken spirit; it is a broken and contrite heart that You desire in me. As I come to You in humility and brokenness of spirit You restore to me the joy of Your salvation much like the new fallen snow that covers the earth. Thank You for being merciful and forgiving. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Brooksyne and I both warmly recall visits to our grandparents, especially during the summer. Mine lived in a tiny town in southwest Missouri and hers in the mountains of northwest Arkansas. Years ago I came across this illustrative story set in a similar situation. Apart from the lesson perhaps it will prompt some warm memories!

Johnny was a little boy who was visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot and he practiced in the woods, but he could never hit the target. Getting a little discouraged, he headed back to his grandparent’s house for dinner. As he was walking back he saw his grandma’s pet duck. Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head, and killed it. He was shocked and grieved.

In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing. After lunch that day Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally said, “Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.” Then she whispered to him, “Remember the duck?” So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, “I’m sorry but I need Sally to help make supper.” But Sally just smiled and said, “Well, that’s all right cause Johnny told me he wanted to help.” She whispered again, “Remember the duck?” So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s he finally couldn’t stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug, and said, “Sweetheart, I know. You see I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”

Whatever is in your past, whatever you have done and the enemy keeps throwing it up in your face (lying, debt, fear, hatred, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, etc.) whatever it is, you need to know that Jesus Christ was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing. He’s just wondering how long you’ll let the enemy make a slave of you. He wants you to know that He loves you, and if you have repented and accepted the free gift of salvation, you are forgiven. The great thing about God is that He not only forgives you, but He forgets. Remember that Jesus is at the window.


George Blizzard 7/9/15
Last night our friend George Blizzard came over. We had planned to take a bike ride but a massive storm passed through and we lost power in our dining room right while we were eating. Ester was pleased to provide a battery powered LED Brooklyn Lantern and saw it as an adventure. Thankfully the storm passed and we soon got back our electricity for a more pleasurable dining experience.


Two more photos from our trip through the “Big Valley” on Tuesday.

Big Valley horse and buggy

Amish horse and open cart


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Create in Me a Clean Heart”  Video  Keith Green

“Forgiveness”  Video  Matthew West

“I’m Forgiven”  Video  The Imperials (A popular song when we were young!)  Video  Another version of same song by the Gaither Vocal Band

“I’m Forgiven”  Video  Chris Tomlin (Different song than above with same title)

“Blessed Be God”  Video Scripture Memory Songs

“His Marvelous Light” (1 Peter 2:9-10)  Video  Scripture Memory Songs


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.

Yellow buggy in Kishacoquillas Valley
A family outing in the “Big Valley”
“Sin’s Deceitfulness”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right. You are full of all kinds of deceits and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10).

Last week at the chaplain training conference in Springfield, MO I had an interesting conversation and opportunity to encourage Wesley Modder, a fellow chaplain. Many of us read earlier in the year about this Naval chaplain who is in hot water for speaking the truth.

Chaplain Wesley ModderChaplain Modder has a distinguished career and is well respected by the sailors he served. In the course of his chaplain duties he was approached by a junior officer with questions regarding sexual morality. Chaplain Modder answered truthfully according to his convictions and long held beliefs (beliefs that would have been overwhelmingly standard less than 20 years ago).

He assumed he was talking to an earnest inquirer. It turns out it was a set-up by an activist looking to be offended and then ratting on the chaplain. In our morally bankrupt nation certain groups are easily offended. And with our present administration the purveyors of evil certainly have an ally. (See below for a link to more information on this case.)

The writer of Hebrews gives us a command we can all seek to obey. It makes a tidy three point message:

What are we to do? “Encourage one another.” We tend to limit the meaning of the word, “encourage” in the English to be “an uplifting, positive message”. However the underlying Greek word, while certainly including this sense has further depth and is translated in some versions “exhort”. Biblical encouragement is an exhortation to live faithfully for the truth. An online resource states, “Parakaleo can include the idea of giving help or aid but the primary sense in the NT is to urge someone to take some action, especially some ethical course of action. Sometimes the word conveys the idea of comfort, sometimes of exhortation but always at the root there is the idea of enabling a person to meet some difficult situation with confidence and with gallantry.” *

When are we to do it? “Daily, as long as it is called Today.” I have always thought the writer might be employing some humor here demonstrating the ongoing need to encourage, after all, each current day will always be called “Today”!

Why are we to do it? “So that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” The practice of encouraging is beneficial to both the encourager and the one being encouraged, similar to the proverb cousin, “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” “So that none of you” We must always be on our guard lest we develop a hardened heart toward spiritual truth due to sin’s deceitfulness.

The deceitfulness of sin is rampant in our world and has been since Satan deceived Adam and Eve in the garden. I have purposefully chosen a rather unusual verse to comment on today.  Please read it over in its fuller context (Acts 13:1-12).

Today let us examine our second, rather obscure text for a lesson on deception. On his first missionary journey Paul and Barnabas were in the city of Paphos on the western tip of the island of Cyprus. Sergius Paulus, the proconsul [military commander], summoned for Paul and Barnabas because he wanted to hear the Word of God. What a great joy it must have been for a leading government official to have an earnest desire to hear God’s messengers expound on the Word of God. No mention of separation of church/state debate in this passage. And you can be sure Paul and Barnabas didn’t present some “feel good” message!

But where truth is proclaimed there is always some form of opposition. “But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith” (Acts 13:8).

The daily verse is a very direct rebuke by the Spirit-filled Apostle of Christ to this sorcerer.  The Scripture tells us that “Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said ‘You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right. You are full of all kinds of deceits and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?'” (Acts 13:9,10).

Today Paul’s words sound so harsh and unkind to many. He sure wasn’t practicing the mealy-mouthed tolerance and diversity so common in our day. But he was doing what preachers and all true men and women of God should do when confronting evil.  For the sake of Sergius Paulus and the other hearers and for the integrity of the Gospel Paul spoke the truth.  He was not on the defensive when he called evil, evil in the boldest way.

We are distressed as we see many being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness in our day and the impact of culture can readily be seen on the church. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).  Micah wrote of those “who hate good and love evil” (Micah 3:2) and the people during Malachi’s time had wearied the Lord with the convoluted notion that, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them” (Malachi 2:17).

May God help each of us to boldly stand firm while contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. We urge, exhort, and warn you to be on your guard against the heart-hardening effect of sin’s deceitfulness.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, as believers, we are put to the test daily regarding our adherence to the Scriptures that teach right from wrong, truth from error. Included are numerous examples of those who represent both camps. We have the golden opportunity to learn lessons from those who were obedient to Your laws and from those who chose to disregard them. Help us to remember that disobedience, disregard, or dilution of the Scriptures will weaken us and eventually harden our hearts to spiritual truths. We choose either to be shaped by the world or by the Word. Our will and desires cannot be shaped by both. We choose this day to be Your obedient servant no matter the consequences, for Your blessing is more to be desired than the applause of the world. Amen.


More photos from Pennsylvania’s “Big Valley”

We shared some photos of our drive through this valley in Central Pennsylvania yesterday, officially called the Kishacoquillas Valley.

Colossians 3:2 on sign in Big Valley
Yellow buggy Amish in Central PA

Yellow buggy Amish in Central PA
You can identify the Amish group by the buggy color. These are the Byler Amish.

Shocked wheat in Kishacoquillas Valley
Shocked wheat is always a pretty sight.
Click here to enlarge photo

Allensville flowers in Kishacoquillas Valley
Yesterday we showed a photo of flowers growing in stock tanks which were all along the road in the little village of Allensville. This flower-loving community also has hanging flowers on each power pole all along the Main Street!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Voice Of Truth”  Video  Casting Crowns

More information about Chaplain Modder’s case is here.

* For students here’s some excellent exposition on Hebrews 3:13


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.

Stock tank flowers Allensville PA 7/7/15
Stock tanks with flower arrangements can be seen along the highway in Allensville, PA in the “Big Valley”.

“Renew Them In Our Day”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known” (Habakkuk 3:2).

On July 8, 1741 (274 years ago today) Jonathan Edwards stepped behind the pulpit and methodically delivered the most famous single sermon ever preached in America. (We referred to this sermon in a message several weeks ago.) Few preachers have not heard of “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God” or read the account of the astounding conviction that came over the assembled listeners that day. People wept and cried out to God for mercy and many were saved. It wasn’t because of a dramatic slick sermon delivery or a personality filled with charisma. Instead Edwards was described as “one who preached powerfully although lamely dependent on his manuscript, who delivered his sermons in a monotone, with his eyes never straying from the back wall of the church.”

The next several years our country experienced a revival known as “The Great Awakening.” The meeting house itself where Edwards preached burned down in 1775 and only a small, engraved stone now marks the spot where it stood in Enfield, Connecticut.  Brooksyne, Ester, and I prayed at the spot many years ago and renewed our commitment to serving God in our generation.

In our daily encouragement series we emphasize the aspect of daily choice and commitment a lot. Each of us has an apportioned amount of time to live on this earth known only to God. We are physically designed to die. Each day approximately 150,000 people die worldwide. The Bible forthrightly states, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Habakkuk is one of the lesser known and read Biblical books. It is among a collection known as the “Minor Prophets”. The basic theme of his book is living by faith. He wrote at the time of Jeremiah when the nation was under judgment and his focus was to encourage the godly remnant to understand God’s ways in regard to their sinful nation and impending judgment. He greatly desired that they were to live their remaining days exalting God and witnessing His awesome deeds.

What matters most is the decision to follow Christ. Habakkuk stood up for God in his day. Jonathan Edwards stood up for God in his day as have millions through the church age.  Now it’s our turn.

Our daily Scripture portion has two elements:

1) “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.”  As the people of God, let us rejoice in hearing the fame of God far surpassing any human fame that exists for only a season and touches relatively few. May our Lord’s supernatural deeds keep us in a state of awe and wonderment of His great power and His message that supernaturally spreads to the uttermost parts of the world.

2) “Renew them in our day, in our time make them known.”  My, how an awareness of and appreciation for God’s fame needs renewed in our day.  Perhaps the availability of Scripture and access to learning more about God somehow diminishes people’s interest in our time. How desperately we need a restoration of awe for His deeds.  Consider the incredible moral confusion and idolatry demonstrated in the last week. Consider how God’s Name is all too often trampled, cursed, and used as a mindless exclamation instead of being reverenced and held in awe by those who speak it.  My heart grieves at the apostasy and blindness sweeping our land.  Good is called evil and evil is called good.

Today, join Brooksyne and me among those with a steadfast heart who declare, “Lord I lift Your Name on high, Lord I love to sing Your praises!”  “In our day, in our time”, may the Lord use you and me and each faithful follower to make His fame and deeds known among the people!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Heavenly Father, we want to be a shining light to the nations, bring a word of hope to the peoples of this earth so that the whole world will know there’s salvation in Your name, there’s awe in Your supernatural deeds and there is eternity to be gained in exchange for a temporal world. We don’t want to take for granted Your awesome deeds recorded in Scriptures or things done for us in the past. Would you do it again, Lord!  Reveal Your power anew and make it known in our time, we pray. Amen.


Big Valley

The Big Valley is a very rural part of PA that has lots of Plain folks and beautiful agricultural scenery in a wide valley between two mountain ridges about 100 miles northwest of us.
Big Valley, PA 7/7/15
In our view the Big Valley has some of the best rural scenery in all of Pennsylvania.

Kneeling cow in Big Valley 7/7/15
This cow was kneeling in an attempt to graze the grass on the other side of the fence. She was nibbling on it as we approached her.  You tell me, is the grass any greener on the other side of the fence? Is it worth the cow’s discomfort bearing all the weight on her front knees? What a sight to watch her get back up! I don’t think Veterinarian are doing knee replacements just yet, but who knows! Seeing her made me think of the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” And, as you can see, in this photo it really isn’t!

Paul Kampa 7/7/15
We drove by a church where I recalled meeting this pastor at a conference. Paul Kampa is a faithful contender of the faith. We had a nice visit followed by prayer.

Tractor and wagon in Big Valley, PA 7/7/15
Some old-fashioned farming equipment

Yellow buggy in Big Valley, PA 7/7/15
In the Big Valley they have a similar branch of Amish as those who live here in Lancaster County using gray buggies, but also two additional branches identified by the buggy color; yellow and white.

White buggy in Big Valley, PA 7/7/15
If I am not mistaken this is the most “conservative” branch, the Nebraska Amish. Notice the blue kerosene lanterns they use at night rather than battery operated lights as we are accustomed to in our area.

We find these old order groups interesting although we sure don’t understand their ways. One peculiar feature in one of these groups is that the men wear suspenders attached to only one side of their britches. According to one source this is to avoid any pride associated with two matching suspenders! It just never occurred to me that this could be a source of pride. I consider suspenders instead to be functional!

Amish hay harvest 6/25/15
An abundant hay harvest in our region!


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Famous One”  Video  Chris Tomlin

“Jesus, Only Jesus”  Video  Charles Billingsley, Guy Penrod, Michael O’Brien and Travis Cottrell

“Revive Us Again”  Video  Homecoming sisters

“Sweet Holy Spirit”  Video  The Isaacs

The Big Valley is located here.  (Google Map)


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.

Raystown Lake
Raystown Lake in central PA
Click on photo for larger view with Scripture verse

“The Blessing Of A Cooperative Ministry Outlook”


ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in Your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in My name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:38-40).

Tom is a minister who called me from Georgia. He had read about our corporate chaplaincy model and expressed interest in developing a similar type ministry. He wanted to know if I could share our secrets but I informed him we don’t have secrets but are pleased to share what we have learned. After all, it’s a big pond out there! He came up to Lancaster County and shadowed us one day as we did our chaplain work.

I heard an interesting illustration at the chaplain training conference I attended last week. The speaker was sharing how ranchers use several methods to keep steers together out west. Some ranchers build fences to keep the livestock in. This is quite expensive and requires a lot of maintenance. Others dig a deep watering hole with sufficient water. They’ve learned that the livestock will stay near the source of water.

This analogy is helpful concerning our outlook toward ministry. As we view our service for Christ and our spiritual impact on others we can either focus on building fences or digging wells.

Some churches and Christian organizations use their resources building fences. In this outlook other churches and similar ministries are seen as competition and a threat to their existing work. Sadly, a great percentage of time, energy, and expense is expended in merely building and maintaining the fences.

Other churches and Christian organizations use their resources digging wells to provide spiritual living water. This is surely a much more Christ-honoring strategy as we dig wells and encourage the partaking of life-giving water that people desperately need in the spiritually “sun-scorched land” in which we live.

I like that attitude in life, particularly in regard to ministry. I don’t always see it though. Some churches, denominations and ministries are petty and exclusive. I once worked for a company that saw their “ministry” model as proprietary and any other similar expression posed a threat. But great churches and ministries whose major interest is the kingdom of God want to see His kingdom expanded, not restricted, or reflective only of their influence.

Today’s verse has long intrigued me. The disciples had seen a man driving out demons in Christ’s Name and told him to stop, apparently thinking they, alone, were doing the Lord’s work. The problem, they expressed, was that “he was not one of us.” That is; he was not one of the Twelve. They must have had a sense of having a proprietary use of His Name!

We wonder where this man driving out demons was from? We do know from other Scriptures that Christ had sent out the seventy and there were 120 that came together in the Upper Room. So there were others who spread the Gospel and performed miracles when Christ dwelt on this earth and ministered primarily with the twelve disciples. Where this man fit in is not specified, but apparently John and the other disciples saw his ministry as a threat. They reported this to the Lord and I think they had expected the Lord to pat them on the back and say with a smile and a nod, “Good job, boys.”

But instead Christ essentially rebuked the disciples, “Do not stop him,” and sets forth a great spiritual principle, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Now, in all honesty, I do not fully understand all of what Christ is saying here but I do know that it is a strong rebuke against any proprietary or exclusive sense of ministry.

I want to bless the many others who are serving Christ today. There are many ways we serve and some have ministries similar to ours. May the Lord bless them! We want to encourage and assist them if possible. We want them to reach many for Christ that we will never reach. That’s how Brooksyne and I want our life and ministry to be regarded and we encourage you to have the same attitude, whatever type of ministry you have. If we are a “well-watered garden” we will draw others in and make the spiritual impact upon them that God has called us to do. Let us experience the blessing of a cooperative ministry outlook.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Heavenly Father, in this age of competition and egocentricity help us to resist the mindset of the world.  We’re tempted to focus on big numbers, large budgets, expensive buildings, newest resources, impressive staff and other worldly comparisons of those who share in this calling to minister to our lost and dying world. When our focus is narrowed to imitating or competing with other ministry groups we lose sight of the One to whom we are honoring and our priorities become misaligned. We want to thank You for the scores of people and ministries that are making a tremendous spiritual impact for Your Kingdom, the vast majority of whom are unheralded and unseen. As Your followers, move us beyond pettiness, jealousy, and possessiveness to appreciate and affirm those who might have a different way of presenting the Gospel as long as it is in accordance with the Scripture. Help us to support and pray for one another as we carry forth the light of God’s Word.  You have called each one of us to lift up Your name and You will draw people to Yourself. As we seek You above all else You will be our daily guide and out of our hearts will flow abundant springs of living water that will not run dry even in a drought stricken land. Amen.


The Lower Trail

Yesterday we joined some friends for a long bike ride on the Lower Trail in Central PA. We hope you enjoy some of the photos we took!


With friends in Lower Bike Trail 7/6/15
We joined Jay & Lu Kopp, Kay & Mike Book for a 12 mile ride. Brooksyne and I went beyond the initial ride and enjoyed a total of over 20 miles, the last mile included a rather wet shower which cooled us down right away.

Wood turtle
A wood turtle (right)

Rat snake
Mike found a rat snake along the trail.

Corbin Suspension Bridge
A suspension bridge in the mountains of central PA!
See here for more photos

Weber family at Raystown Lake 2006
Here’s a photo of Brooksyne, Ester and me at Raystown Lake about ten years ago at the same overlook where our lead photo today was taken.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“He Will Instruct Him (Psalms 29:8-9, 12-14)”  Video  Integrity Scripture Songs

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.

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