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Monday, November 19, 2007
Maple Tree
This majestic maple is about 2 miles from our home.
With the current wet and cold weather all these leaves will soon be on the ground!

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"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15,16).
Today Brooksyne and I have several friends on our hearts we are praying for. A series of poor choices and acts of disobedience is yielding a harvest of heartache, both to them and those around them. It surprises us since they appeared to be "running well."  Just as one of the great joys in ministry is seeing people stay faithful to the Lord, it is also one of the greatest disappointments is when people fall away.

Ministry of any sort can, at times, be discouraging. One of the benefits of aging is gaining a long-term perspective and getting an increasingly bigger picture of the way that God is working things out. That's why I can draw strength from the bigger picture and, as you consider your own work for Christ so can you, most especially as you see prayers fulfilled over the years.

Let me pull a story from my memory file.  Nick is a young man who  grew up in the church I pastored.  I dedicated him as an infant, but like so many, he floundered in his faith as a teenager and young adult.

About 8 years ago I attended his brother's wedding out in California. I took an overnight flight back to Massachusetts, where I lived at the time. Nick just happened to be on that same flight since it connected in Pittsburgh and he was going home to northern Pennsylvania. When he heard we were on the same plane he told his Mom, "I sure hope I don't have to sit next to Pastor Weber; he'll preach to me the whole way back."

We didn't have an assigned seat next to each other, but I managed to find him next to an empty seat. We made conversation and I reckon I did some "preaching" during our flight. We had breakfast together in Pittsburgh and I prayed for him at McDonalds in the airport before we went our separate ways. I never thought much more about that flight till some time later.

Nick Matangelo with his daughter MarissaThe Holy Spirit was dealing with Nick's heart during those years of spiritual neglect and a few years ago he recommitted his life to the Lord Jesus.  What a relief it was for his praying parents and others who were also praying.  His wife, Darlene, whom I spoke to recently, also gave her heart to the Lord.  They're raising their daughter in the ways of godliness and they are expecting their second child.  Their 3 year old daughter, Marissa, was recently diagnosed with juvenile diabetes which brings about a major lifestyle change for the entire family.  Going through the process of such major changes requires a great deal of wisdom, discipline, and much prayer.  What a blessing it is that they are in good standing with the Master.

All of you reading this who follow Christ are in ministry, although we often associate "ministry" in a formal, vocational way such as the pastor of a local church. But God has called each of His followers to serve.  You are spread all around the world in a wide variety of situations to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making the most of every opportunity.

Today's Scripture text is an ongoing call. "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."  Every one of us are to make the most of every opportunity. Today look for the opportunities to serve that God will providentially place before you.  Then share His love and care and depend on Him for the results. And be encouraged from my experience that, as life progresses, you will increasingly see the blessed fruit of your labors!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, I want to walk in the wisdom of Your Holy Word as I make choices this day since the choices I will make tomorrow reflect the choices of today.  You've given me the freedom to choose but You've also given me the wisdom and insight to know that the weight of those decisions bring about good or bad.  May my actions not be based on man's changing words or the standards of my brothers and sisters, for I know we are frail and subject to faulty thinking.  I want the standards of the unchanging, living Holy Word to be an anchor for my soul judging the thoughts and attitudes of my heart so that I will stay the course for which You have called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  And help me to be watchful for those who are veering off course so that I can encourage them in the faith and be prayerful for their wandering souls.  In the name of Your Son, Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Yesterday Brooksyne led in the worship service and started out in the most unusual way.  She read Psalm 150 where the Psalmist exhorts us to "Praise the Lord" 13 times.  He speaks of using stringed instruments, the trumpet, the flute, tambourine and cymbals to praise the Lord.  She then asked for a show of hands from those who could play these instruments.  There were very few but then she asked "How many of you can whistle?"  A majority of hands were then raised. She then gave us the definition of a whistle – "a wood wind instrument which produces sound from a stream of forced air."  We were then invited to use our wind instrument to "Praise the Lord" as we whistled through the verse and chorus of a hymn before we sang it.  It was a first for me and probably for all who attended to use our whistle to praise the Lord!  Here's a demonstration and you can hear her at this link. Do you recognize the hymn?  (Sorry for the wind pops I just couldn't get them out!)

Yesterday afternoon we listened to the "Unshackled" radio drama and heard a testimony we know many parents can identify with. (Here's an online audio)  Message dated 11/18/07

Today we woke up to the first snow of the season, a light dusting. We still get excited (especially when we're inside looking out and not having to drive anywhere.)

CD label for "Stories of Great Hymns"New A project that has been in the works over several months is now completed.  Brooksyne has compiled eleven hymns that deal with the recurring theme of loss and ongoing trial and titled it "Hymns of Hope" based on Romans 12:12,  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." Amber Martin plays the hymns on the keyboard and Lauren Gingrich accompanies her on six of the hymns with the viola.  Tracks 12-22 play each hymn softly in the background while Brooksyne shares a personal devotional thought, the biographical setting of the hymn text, and an intercessory prayer.  We recorded this in the very modest and limited computerized recording studio of Daily Encouragement so that we could make this ministry project available to all who are in need of such encouragement without huge overhead expense.  You can go to this site to listen to the songs. You can download one song at a time if you find this to be of special blessing to you or know someone whose spirit might be lifted by listening to these meditative hymns. Here's a sample with Thanksgiving theme: "Now Thank We All Our God" (Audio reading)

More music for today:

"Make Me Your Voice"  (Audio)
"A Servant's Heart"  (Audio)
"Give Us Clean Hands"  (Audio)

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

Thanksgiving Resources

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading - A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Thanksgiving family exercise - We have used this Questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.  (pdf)

A Day of Rest in Plimouth Colony - This is a summary of a chapter in the lives of the pilgrims that Brooksyne uses to teach about their Sunday worship.  (pdf)

Books used in Brooksyne's research on the Pilgrims:
Saints & Strangers  By Vision Video
Three Young Pilgrims  By Cheryl Harness / Simon & Schuster Trade Sales

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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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