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Monday, October 22, 2007
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"Son Of Encouragement"
"Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)" (Acts 4:36).
The other day I called to encourage a newer friend who is really struggling in his need to give up alcohol. We've talked and prayed together in the past about this serious problem he is dealing with so I called to see how he was doing. Rather than identify myself I asked if he knew who was calling by recognition of my voice. He thought a moment but couldn't immediately recall my name. Instead he gave this rather unflattering description: "You're kind of heavy." Well that's an interesting and observant description, but it's certainly not a description I aspire to nor would I aspire to the nickname, "Chubby" or any similar name. However I sure like the meaning of the nickname we will discuss today from Scripture!
Today is a special day for us. This ministry started eleven years ago with a short email to just two email addresses and both are still on the list (see below). I had preached a sermon on encouraging one another daily and that was the leading I had from the Holy Spirit. I've kept going ever since.
Barnabas is one of my favorite Bible characters. Consider his influence; no book in the Bible was written by him nor do we have the text of any sermon he preached recorded in Acts as we do Peter, Stephen and Paul. In fact I am unable to find even a single quote attributed exclusively to Barnabas. All the information we have about him is biographical and brief.
He first comes on the scene in Acts 4 as "Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement)" (v. 36). Every single future reference to him in Scripture uses this nickname given by the apostles! In fact if a Bible quiz asked, "Who is Joseph?" most would never consider Barnabas for the correct answer.
Barnabas is a great encourager and additional references in Scripture demonstrate this. We are all indebted to encouragers even though it certainly is not considered one of the more prominent ministries, such as a polished preacher or a dynamic worship leader or powerful vocalist.
A subtheme of this ministry is "Everyone Needs Encouragement." I sure believe that. Now certainly sometimes we need it more than others, particularly when we are discouraged about an ongoing matter. Thankfully most of us don't live in a state of perpetual discouragement but I can't imagine a point in my life where I would feel that I just don't need any more encouragement. I am always receptive to encouragement! So once again on the eleventh anniversary of this ministry let me encourage you today and urge you to be an encourager to others as well!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the wondrous things You have done in our lives and through the ministry of Daily Encouragement. We've met scores of people over the years, some of them face to face and many others over the internet, who have left an indelible mark on our lives. They have challenged and broadened our understanding of Your Holy Word. They have lifted us in prayer time and again when we needed prayer support. They have also provided for our needs with their generous gifts over the past years.
How refreshed we are when brothers and sisters come as one in faith and work together in spirit to accomplish the will of the Father here on earth. I pray that the warmth and appreciation we feel in our hearts might in some way, through the transmission of this internet ministry and most especially through the power of Your Holy Spirit, convey to each reader (listener) our appreciation for their devotion to You and their dedication to our ministry of Daily Encouragement. It is always in the name of Jesus that we come to the Father through prayer. Amen.
Some faces of Daily Encouragement
Nigel and Laifong Lee were the very first recipients of a daily encouragement on Monday morning October 21, 1996 (which happened to be Brooksyne's birthday.) They attended our church where I had preached on encouragement and decided to use an email to encourage them. They have been on the list ever since and I reckon they have received over 2,750 messages. They live in the Boston area and are shown with their son Caleb. Laifong is from Malaysia and they met at a Chi Alpha, a Christian campus ministry while in graduate school at Princeton. Both have earned scientific doctorates. They attend the Boston Worship Center where Nigel has been an elder and they also have a Bible Study in their home. Nigel has an interesting association for students in Christian literature. His grandmother's sister was married to Watchman Nee, who died long before Nigel came along. I spoke to Nigel this morning and they are continuing to be faithful!"
Andy Larrimore is a friend who was in our church in New England who set up the intitial webpage. Andy had been in the banking industry but felt a leading to change careers. Daily Encouragement was the very first website he built but he is now into web design full-time and has his own business. I spoke to Andy this morning as well. He and Joanne and their two grown children, Ashley and Eric, are continuing to be faithful! Ashley is in medical school and Eric is in the Marines.
Brad Park is a Canadian IT professional I have never met personally. Several years ago he contacted me through Daily Encouragement and offered to help with technical issues. He now hosts the website and covers the fee for the podcast. He's been there when I've had a question or technical problem. One morning the site was down and although he had a splitting headache he labored to get the site back up! People periodically inquire about the "staff" of daily encouragement. Well, actually that's just Brooksyne and me along with Brad at this time. I spoke to both Brad and his wife Anitra this morning and they are also continuing to be faithful! One of these days we hope to meet them face to face.
October 1996 - First email sent developing into a list (initially merely a group list added to manually one by one.)
1999 - Website developed
2002 - Moved to professional listserve (automated list manager)
2003 - Began radio messages
2004 - Resigned from job with EAP agency
2005 - Developed html email (formatted with photos), began podcasting daily messages, set up blogs/RSS feeds, Brooksyne "officially" joined in the message preparation.
2006 - Received official endorsement as an "internet chaplain" from chaplaincy endorsement agency (I had already received an endorsement for corporate chaplaincy and Civil Air Patrol chaplaincy.)
Typical message preparation
A typical day begins around 6:30 each weekday with the writing of the message itself. This generally takes a couple of hours. Brooksyne then edits the message and adds her thoughts and the prayer as I work on the formatting (photos, extra links, music, etc.) When she's done she joins me and we record it for the podcast. She then edits the message again after she views the fully formatted html edition. (We often still see later that we made mistakes!) The technical work involved in all the updating takes another hour or so and we are normally done around Noon (if there are not any problems!) Non specific prep time includes following up on emails from readers, learning new techniques, managing the business aspect such as thanking donors, making calls etc. Brooksyne will often follow-up with very thoughtful emails and prayers written specifically for hurting people who may write us.
We use these principles in regard to fund-raising:
* We do not personally appeal to individuals for funds nor do we follow-up on those who may have indicated a plan or desire to give. We feel this may make people (likely our family and friends) uncomfortable.
* We do post a small "donation" button on the website and email posts that opens to a separate page giving an opportunity to give, but do not appeal for funds in the message content.
* We generally ask churches where we speak to consider supporting us as missionaries.
* We do periodically post a link to a "Ministry Update" which is a separate page similar to this with an update about the present state of our ministry. This page includes an appeal.
* We do not use any gimmicks to solicit gifts. You won't be any more or less blessed by giving to us! We realize there are scores of fine ministries worthy of your support and that it's virtually impossible to support all. We merely pray daily that the Lord will lay on the hearts of those whom He desires to support our work to do so.
* We do earnestly believe that our ministry is worthy of support and seek to be good stewards of funds entrusted to us.
* We do not have a "budget" per se for Daily Encouragement Net. We believe most supporters and potential supporters would agree that our present total annual income from this ministry (about $10,000 per year) is considerably less than what a budget would be for a ministry that essentially equals 1 full time position in regard to the time it takes plus the expenses. The expenses (computers, internet access, software, etc.) for providing this ministry are about $3,000 per year.
* We do receive a small commission on any sales through CBD if this link or any direct link is used to a specific product that is featured (always related to the content and an item that I feel would be spiritually helpful to our readers). This is a very small source of income and has totaled only about $250.00 in the last three years since we tried this method. However any of you who plan to oder online are requested to use this link if ordering online through CBD. It will not cost you any more and will help the DE ministry.
* We are not retired! – We are both in our early fifties and served in small to medium sized churches. Although I do have some retirement funds set away for our retirement years, we have nothing we are able to live on now. Brooksyne always served very actively in our churches and did not work in a separate job outside of the home and thus she has no retirement income whatsoever.
* We are not independently wealthy!
* We both serve as corporate chaplains to several companies and do receive some income from this and hope to see this dimension of our ministry increase, as well as periodic speaking opportunities. But we consider our main ministry Daily Encouragement Net.
If you would like to consider a donation to this ministry see this page for information. We thank you for considering this.
Today's music is Brooksyne's favorite hymn:
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (audio)
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (audio) Orchestra version
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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