“The Blessing of ‘Home Folks'”

Live oaks in New Braunfels Texas
Live Oaks in New Braunfels, Texas
The name “Live Oak” comes from the fact that evergreen oaks remain green and “live” throughout winter, when other oaks, such as those growing in our area are dormant, leafless and “dead”-looking through the winter season.
“The Blessing of ‘Home Folks‘”

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“God places the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6). “I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14,15).

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

We returned home from our trip to Texas in the early evening hours yesterday. To use an old cliche, “It’s always good to be home!” Ten days away has made a lot of difference in the greening up of the trees and lawns so we have lots of yard work and will resume our chaplain visits tomorrow.

Yesterday morning before our flight back home we received a brief email from our pastor that touched our hearts: “So good to hear you are having a wonderful time but we miss you all. Hurry back soon to us, your home folks. Love, Pastor John”.  John grew up in a rural part of Pennsylvania and we enjoy hearing his folksy words and colloquialisms that come out in his preaching and conversation. I really like the phrase “your home folks”. What a blessing it is to have home folks, especially those who notice when you’re gone!

Photo displayed on USS Lexington 5/1/14While we were in Corpus Christi, TX last Thursday we both enjoyed walking through the USS Lexington Aircraft Carrier. It was commissioned in 1943 and carried about 3000 crew members during WWII. We were impressed with some of the artifacts and photographs that included Scriptures like this faded photograph of a military man posing with his wife and children. The caption under the photograph is our daily text, “He setteth the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6 KJV). It appears to have been taken about the time Brooksyne and I were growing up. She noted that the girls were dressed alike, the same way she and her sister dressed for church each Sunday. In fact it looks like this family is ready to go to church. Perhaps this photograph and Scripture text served as a visual reminder to the sailors, that their military service provided people in the U.S. as well as their own families their freedom to worship God.

The faces of lonely people occupy my thoughts this day. Loneliness is a universal phenomenon that many experience in every culture, regardless of race, nationality, age, or any other factor. You can be in a huge crowd and be lonely. An old rock song states, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people where do they all belong?”

The word “lonely” conveys such sadness and isolation. Many lonely people are not necessarily at a distance from other people. In fact they may very well be surrounded by people in a city, office environment, or their own family members. Even as the planet gets more and more populated it seems loneliness spreads as well.

Lonely personFundamentally it’s because people have tried replacing the divinely appointed order of our relationship with God, family, and the fellowship of other believers with a host of artificial replacements. Even the meaning of “friend” has changed. Now people collect “friends” on social websites; people they may not even personally know or have a deep, meaningful relationship with.

Shepherd with sheepIn the beginning God and man had close fellowship and since that time many have had the wonderful assurance expressed by David in the Shepherd’s Psalm, “Thou art with me”.  That’s the greatest antidote to loneliness!  Hide deeply in your heart these words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

In the beginning God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” and made a helper suitable for him and thus ordained marriage and “places the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6). We may also refer to our church body or Christian friends as the “family of believers.” Jesus defined the meaning of the spiritual family when He expressed to his biological family in Luke 8:21, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” Right now there are people in our church that I can easily relate to as a spiritual sibling or a spiritual parent.  Today I urge you to treasure and nurture your biological family ties as well as your spiritual family.

However as I conclude I still consider the precious souls reading this who are lonely today. It may be that you are separated from your companion or soul-mate by death. Perhaps you’ve been abandoned by an unfaithful spouse, or are dealing with estranged children. I don’t minimize your pain even though it is not presently my experience. Several considerations:

1) Lean heavily upon the steadfast love of the Lord that never ceases. You will find Him to be a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
2) If you aren’t already, become active in a local Bible-believing church with a caring pastor and congregation.
3) Often the quickest way to end loneliness is to reach out to another who has a need.  When we put others needs first, God has a way of fulfilling our own inner need.
4) If you’re lonely due to past hurts and you remain guarded, seek God for healing and start giving of yourself again to cultivate a friendship.

We hope each of our readers have the blessing of home folks!

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod.
For I’m part of the family, the family of God.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, thank You for the many Scriptures that reassure us we’re never alone, such as the oft quoted comfort Psalm, “Thou art with me”.  It’s when we look solely to other people to cure our loneliness that we neglect the greatest cure which is looking to You and finding guidance and solace in Scripture and in prayer! Help us to hide deeply in our hearts the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us enables us to endure even in the loneliest of circumstances. We are encouraged and strengthened by Your promises and by the presence of Your Holy Spirit which keeps us from being alone for all time. Amen.

Here are some more photos of our visit to the King Ranch.

Longhorn cow with calves, King Ranch 5/3/14
A longhorn cow and two calves. Ninety percent of Texas is in some level of drought with about 49 percent in “severe” or worse drought conditions. Circular troughs the size of small ponds which are supplied by artesian wells are provided for the cattle. As we rode the ranch tour bus we saw quite a few simply standing in the middle of the troughs seeking to cool themselves on a hot Texas afternoon.

Longhorn bull, King Ranch 5/3/14
Old longhorn bull

Bumpgate, King Ranch 5/3/14
Due to the size of the ranch and the many gates they developed the bump gate.

King Ranch barn 5/3/14
An old building on the ranch.

Brooksyne with rattlesnake sign, King Ranch 5/3/14
Brooksyne was resting against a sprawling live oak tree when I took this shot of the rattlesnake warning. She checked with the tour guide about all the warning signs and they told us they’d only seen a couple in recent weeks. She was thankful she didn’t see or hear ANY rattlesnakes!
On the other hand I (Stephen) would have liked to have seen and heard a rattlesnake!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Blest Be The Tie That Binds”  Video   Homecoming gathering

“The Family Of God”  Video  The Hoppers & Collingsworth Family

“Praise His Name”  Video   This is a video of the Easters recording “Praise His Name”. We were on our way home yesterday and were listening to the words of this stirring song that speaks to one who feels all alone in their struggle. “You’re not alone so how can you feel lonely” speaks to the fact that “Greater is He that is within me” reminding us that we are never alone if Christ resides within our hearts. We will overcome by the word of our testimony.

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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“The Depth Of The Riches!

Cactus flower

Cactus blossom on the King Ranch
Kingsville, TX
“The Depth Of The Riches!

ListenListen to us read this message on your audio player.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).

King Ranch brandOn Saturday afternoon we visited the King Ranch south of San Antonio, one of the largest ranches in the world. It’s land area of 825,000 acres is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. The fence on the ranch, if laid out in a straight line, would go from the ranch all the way to Boston, over 2,000 miles. Richard King initially purchased land in 1853 at 2 cents an acre. He began life as a poor Irish immigrant’s child and died a very rich man.

After our tour, as we drove up to San Antonio, we saw a For Sale sign posted near the highway for 190 acres of land. Brooksyne, doing some quick math in her head at 2 cents an acre said, “Let’s stop and see if we could buy it for $3.80.” I suggested we offer the owner a whopping $10.00! Of course, we were having some fun at the preposterous idea based upon Richard King’s land purchase many years ago.

An old gospel song comes to mind that begins,

My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.

As we consider the subject of wealth today, you may want to go back to Friday’s message when we considered the riches of God’s grace.

How rich are you today? When it comes to worldly wealth our readers differ considerably, since these messages are delivered all over the world to followers of Christ in a variety of circumstances.

How we perceive our worldly wealth is quite relative. I just read a list of the Forbes 400 richest, all of them billionaires. Most of us would consider our income a pittance compared to that. But we might also be surprised to learn that most of us are in the top 5% of the wealthiest people on earth. An interesting website (I’ll share the link below) allows you to type in your annual income or total assets and see just how you rate in comparison to the rest of the world.

The Forbes list reveals the tendency to gage just how rich we are by looking upwards at those who have more of this world’s goods which can make us feel poor. Rather we should look around and consider the many who have far, far less than us for a proper perspective on just how wealthy we really are.

But today we want to share a message focused on the greatest source of wealth available to us regardless of where we live, the language we speak, our ethnic background or the degree of our earthly material wealth.

Riches can describe wealth, money, possessions, or abundance. “Many today chase the false rabbits of success: status, luxury, reputation and material possessions. In the quest to ‘have it all,’ our lives often lack real meaning and purpose” (Alexander White).

Paul is obviously not speaking of worldly riches in our daily text but rather he is speaking of spiritual riches similar to the sentiment he expressed in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.” Worldly riches are visible to others while spiritual riches are embedded in the believing human heart and there may be no correlation between the two.

The first eleven chapters of Romans is steeped with deep theological teaching that Paul has recorded as a foundation for understanding our life in Christ. He then moves from the theological to the practical in the next section (Romans 12) as he gives guidelines for living as a redeemed people in a sin-filled world.

But before he closes the theological section he seems to step back and examine God’s work and makes the powerful acclamation in our daily verse, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” Many commentators consider this verse and the next three a Doxology (an expression of praise often sung to God). In my personal study I try to read it aloud as Paul might well have expressed it, particularly in light of the material that precedes it.

William MacDonald sums up Paul’s concluding doxology as looking back over the entire Epistle and the divine wonders that have been revealed. Paul has expounded the marvelous plan of salvation by which a just God can save ungodly sinners and still be just in doing so. He has shown how Christ’s work brought more glory to God and more blessing to men than Adam lost through his sin. He has explained how grace produces holy living in a way that law could never do. He has traced the unbreakable chain of God’s purpose from foreknowledge to eventual glorification setting forth the doctrine of sovereign election and the companion doctrine of human responsibility. Paul has also traced the justice and harmony of God’s dispensational dealings with Israel and the nations. After contemplating these infinite truths what could be more appropriate than to burst forth in a hymn of praise and worship!

We will close our message today with this prayer of praise to God for the wisdom and foreknowledge of His incomprehensible plan for our lives. He governs the universe and our lives in His perfect wisdom and vast knowledge. We cannot fully understand but we can fully trust His plan and provision for our lives each day. To do so is to experience true wealth!

I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, I am in awe of the depth of Your riches, both of wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable are Your judgments and unfathomable Your ways! For who has known Your mind, Lord, or who has been Your counselor? Or who has ever given to You, Father, that You should repay him? For from You and through You and to You are all things.  It is to You, our loving and eternal Father, that we give praise and glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36 slightly adapted for prayer)

Personal note: Today we are in New Braunfels Texas visiting again with Brooksyne’s sister. Tomorrow we head back to Pennsylvania. We hope to post our next message on Wednesday!

Here are some more photos of our Texas trip.

Gulf coast in Corpus Christi, TX 5/2/14
Friday afternoon we drove out to Padre Island along the Gulf Coast where you are allowed to drive right on the beach! Some were swimming and others fishing or picnicking.

On Corpus Christi shrimp boat with Smurf 5/2/14
Friday evening we met up with a couple of very interesting and friendly characters on the Corpus Christi Marina. Here I am standing on the shrimp boat with 53 year old “Smurf”, who has quite a story to tell. After 20 years of prison and years of alcoholism he had an encounter with God through his experience with a benevolent missionary. I wish we’d had more time with these guys as they were quite engaging. They slept in their vehicle in preparation for their 4:30 AM departure for the shrimp boat.

Corpus Christi shrimp boat Smurf and Poggy 5/2/14
Smurf with his shrimper buddy, Poggy who has been in the landscaping business for 30 years.

Corpus Christi shrimp boat fleet 5/2/14
The Corpus Christi shrimp fleet.

Kingsville, TX 5/3/14
Main Street in Kingsville Texas. A nostalgic view reminding us of what Main Street looked like in many towns from our childhood years. Most of the stores don’t look like they’ve changed much in fifty years!

Truck in Kingsville, TX 5/3/14
We saw this this truck parked on Main Street in Kingsville Texas. It is used to take people hunting. It can be driven from either the truck cab or the left seat in the back with the steering wheel. When we spotted this vehicle the first thing Brooksyne thought of was “The Beverly Hillbilly” vehicle. But the rocking chair was missing, Granny too!

On Wednesday we will share more photos from our visit to the King Ranch.

Sermon in a flash
Yesterday we attended Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, what we suppose would be called a mega church, something that we are not at accustomed to. But it provided us the opportunity to hear one of our longtime favorite authors, Max Lucado, who is one of the pastors at this church. He had the same warm engaging speaking style in person as he does on audios we’ve heard! In the huge foyer they had this instant download machine for the message just preached. My, how things have changed since we began ministry when “must have” new and cool contraption was the overhead projector!

David and Sabra Penley 5/4/14
What a joy to visit with our friends David and Sabra Penley this weekend, who came down from Fort Worth to meet us in San Antonio. David is a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He came across our ministry several years ago while looking for photos in Pennsylvania and somehow stumbled onto our site. In early 2011 they were visiting our area and I heard him preach from Hebrews in a local church in Elizabethtown, PA. (Here’s an audio of a sermon from Hebrews 12:1-3 in his home church.) This happens to be the same text as the first sermon I ever preached. We also met for fellowship and visited our Amish friends at that time. Last year the Penleys endured a severe trial we will share about in a coming message. Yesterday, as we were departing, we had a prayer with them in a restaurant parking lot and I considered the words from an old hymn.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Recently Sabra started blogging and David has joined her on occasion at As we prepare for Mother’s Day this coming weekend here is a thoughtful message by Dave titled, “An Excellent Wife – A Man’s Perspective”

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I’m Amazed”  Video   Jason Crabb and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

“Like A River Glorious”  Video  Not specified

King Ranch  (We’ll share more photos of our tour of the King Ranch on Wednesday.)

“Grace” (a short video message by Max Lucado illustrating his preaching style. He is a master storyteller.)

Forbes 400 list   See how many friends you have on this list!

Global Rich List  See how you compare!

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.