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Monday, September 10, 2012

Autumn flowers in Franklin County, PA
Yesterday I returned from a Men's Campout in the mountains through picturesque Franklin County. I came upon this tidy Amish business that makes storage sheds and gazebos. But I was most impressed with the flowers on this stone retaining wall so I pulled in to snap the photo. As I did so an older Amish woman approached me and asked me if I lived in that area. I told her I didn't and she proceeded to tell me how she doesn't own a camera and would just love to have a photo of the flowers. She gave me her address and this morning I printed a copy and it's now in the mail!

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"Stop Sinning"

"Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.' Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame" (I Corinthians 15:33,34).

This weekend I (Stephen) went on a campout in the mountains with some men and boys from our church. One of the events most all men and boys enjoy are bike rides and through the years we have had many, the most memorable being a ride through an abandoned PA turnpike tunnel. Each year we also make a ride that's quite popular because it's labor-free; we hardly pedal the entire trip.

Blue Mountain VistaWe load our bikes into a trailer, pile in the truck front and back and then drive up to the top of the mountain. The teens just fly down and I can only imagine the speeds they attain. We older folks prefer to go a bit slower and rely on the brakes. I set off with my pastor who had never made the ride down before. The first part is gravel and you really have to watch spinning out where it's loose. I stopped to take a photo down a power line of the scene to the right and Pastor John went on ahead. (We end up on the road you can see from the clearing.)

When I got to a point where the gravel ended and I returned to a paved road Pastor was waiting for me. He had lost his rear brakes and was wary of just using the front ones. Since I had made the trip many times I offered to swap bikes, confident that I could keep the bike under control by riding the front brake hard.

When I started down the mountain I found out the rear brake was worthless. The front brake merely kept the bike's speed down though I gripped the brake intensely the entire descent. It was a most unpleasant ride down the mountain from that point on and I was greatly relieved to reach the valley and Conodoguinet Creek. The fresh experience was a reminder of the importance of brakes!

Let us consider the importance of another type of brake in regard to our spiritual life. We may very well find this brake annoying, slowing us down or stopping us in places where we would rather move forward. Tragically the vast majority are charging right through these red lights, more correctly referred to as Biblical commands, as they completely disregard the God-ordained brakes that He so wisely and graciously provides.

Consider this passage from our daily Scripture text, "Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning." What a needed word for each one reading today and for all of humankind!

The Jamison, Faussets Brown commentary states regarding the sense of "stop sinning" in this passage, "Do not give yourselves up to sinful pleasures. The Greek expresses a continued state of abstinence from sin."

Paul tells it the way it is to those who choose to forsake God's commands: "Come back to your senses". Once you begin keeping company with the people who wrongly influence you, and you choose to engage in sin you lose control to the point of even losing your God-given common sense. You no longer see things the way they really are because you've given the enemy a foothold and he will distort your present view and the future outcome of your choices.

Today let us recognize the blessing of God's brakes as an expression of His love, His care, and His protection. Remember, when your vehicle brakes stop working it not only brings danger to you, but those in your path of destruction. It's also true when we don't apply God's brakes to our own hearts; it will not only bring personal destruction but it will bring painful, lasting harm to those near and dear to us.

If you're caught in a destructive descent at the present time we implore you to apply the brakes of God's holy commands. Stop and use the reverse gear to back up, get things right with God, yourself, and anyone caught in your path of destruction.

You will be so glad you did, and it will allow you to move forward in the right way in the things of Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, would You help us to be quick to recognize and respond to Your brake promptings. Often You speak to us through Scripture, daily prayer, and other believers. You also speak to us through the undesirable consequences that come from our acts of disobedience. We want to see Your cautions and "stops" as part of Your loving way of keeping us from danger and redirecting us to that which will be of blessing in our lives and to those whom we seek to influence. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: We received several emails regarding Friday's story about Missy including this testimonial about how Christ changes lives. We share this with her permission. This story is for those who get discouraged praying for loved ones who are out there in the darkest places:

Thank you for today's message. I have a similar story and have been on the right path going on 11 years now. But as I read about Missy, tears of gratitude streamed down my face. Gratitude that Jesus does love even the worst of sinners. He rescued me as well from the pit of despair and self-hatred. Bless Him for all the rescued women in this world and may all those still lost in Satan's lies have caring Christian women to bring them His Word as you did for Missy!

I was given a Bible in jail and having nothing else to read, read it daily for 7 months, needless to say God's Word does indeed accomplish His purposes and does not return empty! It took about 4 months from when I got out of jail for me to surrender my life to Jesus, but I know that Word, the Holy Spirit was at work in my heart that whole time!

I tell everyone I meet how Jesus saved me from my old life of addiction to crack cocaine, homelessness, and prostitution. He is my Savior and I am so grateful He pursued me in those darkest strongholds of Satan and pulled me out!! Thank you for all you do, I love Daily Encouragement and the beautiful photographs. I feel like I know you even though we have never met. And even if we never do here I will look for you all in Heaven!!

Val-Co Community Service Day

Val-Co workday 9/7/12
Last Friday we participated in a Community Work Day sponsored by Val-Co, one of the companies where we serve as chaplains. They did numerous service projects throughout the area in the morning before having lunch together. Eighty-eight percent of the employees participated. Notice we are all wearing matching Val-Co shirts made especially for the work-day.

Brooksyne and Ester worked on a crew assisting a re-uzit shop in New Holland. Stephen worked on a crew cleaning a rail to trail in Ephrata. Darvin was on Brooksyne's crew. He usually drives a forklift but was practicing workplace safety while moving items at the re-uzit shop!

Val-Co workday 9/7/12
In the early afternoon after lunch employees packed care bags for overseas military personnel.

Note: Ester took these workday photos!

Men and Boys Campout

Men's campout 9/9/12
Sunday morning we had an outdoor service  including singing and a message from God's Word.

Men's campout breakfast 9/9/12
The men pitch in preparing the meals (or in some cases talking together while someone else prepares).

Men's campout breakfast 9/9/12
One of the great features of our campout is food cooked over a blazing open fire. Several of these large griddles are used and pictured here are potatoes, peppers, and onions. Another griddle had sausage and bacon. I can capture the setting in a picture but not the amazing aroma that fills the air as these fresh veggies and meat sizzle over the extreme heat.  Delicious!

Men's campout 9/9/12
The men and boys enjoy playing as well!

Franklin County Amish buggie 9/9/12
On the way back to Mount Joy from the mountains I hit some heavy buggie traffic as the Amish folks returned home from their church services.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resource

"Slow Down"  Video  Chuck Girard  A great song from our early days in following Christ with a message so pertinent to today's message.

"I Surrender All"  Video  Oslo Gospel Choir

Conodoguinet Creek is Native American, and means "A Long Way with Many Bends".

The light at the end of the tunnel
Here is a photo from inside the abandoned turnpike tunnel we went through several years ago.

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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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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