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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wisconsin barn (photo by Georgia)
Wisconsin Barn
This photo was taken by my cousin who, like me, also sees enjoys old barns.
She comments, "I really like the old barns in Wisconsin. Back in the 1800's, the farmers used what was on hand. They built the foundations from the rocks in the fields and the quarried rock from the area was hand hewn. There is still beauty and usefulness in these old structures."

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan: This suggested 40 day reading plan began last Sunday (April 3) If you want to participate and have not been following the reading schedule up to this point we suggest starting with today's reading (Luke 1-4) and reading Matthew and Mark after this reading period ends. Here's the entire 40 day  schedule. (These links will open to the selection to be read and a built-in listening device.) More information concerning the Scripture reading plan is below the daily message.
  • Today's reading (April 12): Luke 5-9 beginning here. 
  • Tomorrow's reading (April 13): Luke 10-13 beginning here.
"Seeing Remarkable Things"

"Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today'" (Luke 5:26).

Photo of Sonny & Pat OliverSonny Oliver is a friend of ours from our years at Bible College. He has a remarkable testimony of God's transforming and sustaining grace. 

Sonny was born in South Carolina to sharecroppers. When he was seven he moved to Chicago where his parents hoped to find better economic opportunities. He served in Vietnam in the mid sixties and while in the service he became addicted to drugs.  After returning to Chicago he went into a downward spiral and for four years he was a heroin addict, in and out of jail and various treatment centers.  A therapist diagnosed him a hopeless sociopath.  He believed he would die a heroin addict.

In June 1970 a follower of Jesus Christ reached out to him and a remarkable thing happened; Sonny had a life transforming encounter with Jesus Christ and was gloriously saved.  He received his earliest grounding in Teen Challenge and then went to Springfield, Missouri to attend Central Bible College with a call to ministry. That's where we became friends. He was somewhat overwhelmed by the academic challenges but received encouragement from godly professors who mentored him and fellow students who encouraged him. He graduated in the mid-seventies and has had a long-term, fruitful ministry impacting thousands for Jesus Christ.

I heard him speak several years ago at a banquet for a drug and alcohol program. He shared a dynamic message based on today's text and the healing that preceded it. As I listened to Sonny share I was especially gripped by the concluding verse in the Scripture portion he used, "Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today'."

The work of Christ's Kingdom is ultimately a result of individuals turning to Him. His Kingdom is not advanced by force but by His ordinary followers sharing and demonstrating the love of God. Today this is happening all over the world and remarkable things are still taking place.

Our choir sang a song that speaks of the ordinary people God is using all over the world to advance His purpose; "I'm so very ordinary, nothing special on my own. I have never walked on water, and I have never calmed a storm."  God continues to call and use ordinary people like you and me to accomplish remarkable things! I recall a phrase from many years ago that someone expressed as a prayer. Lord, help me be willing to be willing.  Amen

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I am reminded today that no one is beyond the scope of Your redemptive power.  Your amazing grace works wonders that are unexplainable by human understanding.  Over and over You redeem the hearts of men and women, boys and girls whom others have given up on.  You call us to be heavenly messengers to those without hope.  Our words of support and godly instruction coupled with actions of love and belief in the unlovable ones of our society bring about remarkable change in their lives as well as our own, for You bless both the giver and receiver of Your divine grace.  We give You thanks in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: Sonny shared
two thoughts that really touched my heart and may very well speak to you as well.  He mentioned a couple who invited him into their home when he was a young believer leaving a tremendous impact upon his life to this day.  Their faith in him, when he didn't even have it in himself, spoke volumes and helped him to believe he could remain faithful to God.  Also, when he attended Bible College the challenge of the studies far exceeded his abilities academically.  Students were willing to help by taking notes for him in the classes he attended to make his studying more understandable. God speaks to our hearts to do major things like the couple taking in a former heroin addict but He also speaks to us about doing little things like the students and yet He uses it all to bless and enrich other lives.

The other night we watched a movie together as a family that is similar in some ways to Sonny's story (although dissimilar in others). It is really a well-produced and touching story. Note: For those concerned by the PG-13 rating I really have no idea why it would have this rating since we don't recall any scenes we recall objectionable whatsoever. However it does have some rather graphic surgery scenes. It aso shows some mean-spirited racism.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, DVDGifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, DVD
By Provident Music Distribution
A role model for today! Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr., stars in the riveting true story of world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Discover how Dr. Carson's own struggle to overcome poverty and learning problems---with the encouragement of a loving mother---inspired him to treat impoverished children from all over the world. As seen on TNT. Rated PG-13. Approx. 90 minutes.

DVD Features:
  • Behind the Scenes of Gifted Hands
  • Triumph and Inspiration: The Journey of Dr. Ben Carson
  • English and French Subtitles
  • Widescreen
  • Closed Caption

Tortured For His FaithListen Free book: "Tortured For His Faith" We would highly recommend this book and Paul H. Popov is making it available to Daily Encouragement readers for the month of April free of charge!

Merely go to this page and fill out the form on the lower part of the page. Indicate that you are a daily encouragement reader and request the book in the comment box. (Don't forget to include your mailing address.)

Haralan Popov was a successful minister in Bulgaria when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment as "an American spy", at a widely publicized trial in Sofia, Bulgaria. Enduring torture and brainwashing in communist prisons and labor camps, Haralan Popov remained faithful to God.

After his release, Dr. Haralan Popov founded Door of Hope International in 1972.
More than one million copies have been sold and it has exposed the militant nature of atheistic communism for more than 30 years. It has inspired readers, strengthened their faith in God, and motivated them to a greater compassion for the Persecuted Church.

We thoroughly enjoyed reading the book as well as others within our congregation. It is tremendously inspiring and will stir you to faithfulness in the face of persecution.  It will also create a greater hunger for the Bible as a result of reading it.

Paul met with me last week to discuss how an email list component could serve his ministry.  Door Of Hope International is a ministry to the persecuted church. We discussed ways of using email to minister to the members of the persecuted church as well as informing the western church regarding the reality of the persecution many of our brethren are now enduringDoor Of Hope International website.

40 Day New Testament Reading/Listening Plan

"You've Got The Time" Bible reading planOn Sunday April 3 we began a forty day program of reading through the New Testament and we encourage Daily Encouragement Net readers to consider joining in as we read/listen through the entire New Testament in 40 days. (At this point we suggest starting at the reading for the current day and then if desired reading the eralier reading when the 40 day period is over.)

These readings take about 30 minutes per day. Prior to each message we will provide a direct link to the Scripture portion to be read and listened to each day and for the next day. (and several links for the weekend daily readings).

The daily encouragement message for each weekday during the forty day period will be based on a portion of the text in the Bible reading for that day (or, on Mondays this may also be from a Scripture portion read over the weekend.)

Here is a page where you can download the entire Bible to your computer in a variety of versions.

Here's an overview of the plan I have prepared with practical tips (pdf)

Here's a schedule for the entire 40 day reading period along with discussion questions. This is especially suitable to bookmark during this period as it contains links that will open directly to the passage to be read for the day.

"Proclaimer" Bible listening deviceThe reading links open to, an online Bible with audio player and additional apps that you may find useful. For those who may prefer the KJV it is available. For international readers there may even be a version available in your native language. Just click the small tab directly below the logo on the top left to see available versions. 

This Bible reading plan is a partnership of Daily Encouragement Net and Faith Comes By Hearing, a ministry which provides Bible listening resources all over the world. We will share more about this ministry in future messages.

Daily Encouragement on Facebook Join our Daily Encouragement Bible reading group on Facebook. You can read and listen to the material directly on Facebook.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Ordinary People"  Video  Danniebelle Hall

Sonny's wife, Priscilla directed the Teen Challenge choir for many years and I still recall her singing in our church a song I thoroughly enjoy titled "Ordinary People."  It has a great message for all of us. 

Just ordinary people, God uses ordinary people.
He chooses people just like me and you, who are willing to do as He commands.
God uses people that will give Him all, no matter how small your all may seem to you;
Because little becomes much as you place it in the Master's hand.

Just like that little lad, who gave Jesus all he had;
How the multitude was fed with a fish and loaves of bread.
What you have may not seem much,
but when you yield it to the touch
of the Master's loving hand,
then you will understand how
your life could never be the same.

"Call On Jesus"  Video  Hillsong  This is the song that has the line:
"I'm so very ordinary, nothing special on my own. I have never walked on water, and I have never calmed a storm."

My cousin posts her photos here.

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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