The on line Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
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Monday, October 22, 2012
A lovely fall flower arrangement that arrived on
Saturday from Marilyn, our friend from California.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
Note: Today's message is a bit longer than most as we share about the history of our Daily Encouragement writing ministry on this our anniversary of preparing these messages. For exposition skip down to here. Following the message and prayer we also have additional material about our ministry.
"Everyone Needs Encouragement!"
"Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble" (Isaiah 35:3) "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:13). "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).
Yesterday was a special day for us. Well, first of all it was Brooksyne's birthday so that's pretty special to our family! It also happens to be the anniversary of our very first date 39 years ago. I asked her out on her birthday (unknowingly) to ride on a bus with me to an evening church service in Springfield, MO. (That's what Bible College students in those days did for dates.) However she jilted me when she saw her old boyfriend from Tulsa and his mother drive into the parking lot. I caught on pretty quickly when she suddenly excused herself explaining that some "friends from home" just arrived.*
We married nearly three years later so Brooksyne will tell a brief "rest of the story" as a footer. My birthday gift to her this year was a tablet sized computer so she's been pretty excited about learning how to use it, which comes a bit slower these days!
October 21st is also the day this ministry started 16 years ago in 1996. I had preached a sermon in the Sunday evening service the night before during my pastorate in Taunton, Massachusetts on encouraging one another daily. The message was based on the two Hebrews texts above and on Monday morning I sensed a leading from the Holy Spirit to send an email to encourage a young married couple, Nigel and LaiFong.
The first message simply and quite shortly read, "Hopefully each of you were in church yesterday and received fresh strength from the Lord and His Word. Unfortunately, then, even as now, some had forsaken this important element of growth and discipleship. As we see the Day of Christ's return drawing ever closer may we be encouraged. Whatever you do today remember the main thing: "Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6:5)." That was it!
I never set out to start this ministry but I sent another one the next day and the next... and just kept going!
For the first several years the messages were just a short challenge sent as a simple text email with no photos or music supplements. The mailing list grew as messages were passed along and as I met people who were interested in receiving a daily encouragement.
In 1999 we set up the website and as I gained writing experience the messages became more a brief devotional and the list continued to grow. For the first four years I wrote them early in the morning from my pastor's study in Taunton, Massachusetts and then later from our home when we moved to Mount Joy, Pennsylvania in early 2001 to work for Marketplace Chaplains USA, a chaplain company. During this time I began adding links to photos and music but due to my job the messages were still rather short and simple.
I resigned from the full-time job with the chaplain company in late 2004 freeing more time to devote to this ministry and to pursue other ministry interests. In early 2005 I learned how to work with html and began to send the messages out using the formatted webpage version most now receive. At this time Brooksyne took on a larger role editing the messages and adding her prayer and occasional notes. The list continued to grow although in most cases we do not personally know the recipient. At this time we also set up the podcast and the RSS feeds.
But our goal is still expressed in that very first message, to encourage followers of Christ.
Barnabas is one of my favorite Bible characters. He comes on the scene as "Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth who was also called Barnabas by the apostles, which translated means Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36). But now we only know him by his nickname Barnabas. He is an encourager and the Scriptures demonstrate this.
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.
We are all indebted to encouragers even though it certainly is not considered one of the more prominent gifts of those who minister, such as a polished preacher, a dynamic worship leader or a powerful vocalist.
A subtheme of this ministry is "Everyone Needs Encouragement." We sure believe that. In fact it's like job security!
There are certain times in our lives when we need it more than others, particularly when we're going through times of testing. Thankfully most of us don't live in a state of discouragement (depression).
But I am never aware of a time I'm not open or wouldn't invite just a little more encouragement. I am receptive to further encouragement on a regular basis! So once again on the sixteenth anniversary of this ministry we want to encourage you today and urge you to be an encourager to others as well!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, much like Barnabas the encourager, we want to be uplifting to our brothers and sisters, our family members, and others we see from day to day. There are those who've left us with stinging reminders of their hurtful words often accompanied by painful actions. Gratefully, there are others who have brought us strength and encouragement through their words of affirmation, hope, challenge, and helpful instruction. They remained supportive of us when others gave up. Help us to be numbered among the encouragers as we live in these perilous days where confusion abounds and deceitfulness is rampant. May we encourage others not only by our words but also by our steady, consistent, Christian lifestyle. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
*Rest of the story from Brooksyne: How could I not deboard the bus when my former boyfriend and his mother drove into the college campus (She thought we'd patch up our differences). They'd driven 180 miles and they certainly surprised me for my birthday. The fuller story is that I had broken off my two year relationship with him before I left for college nearly two months earlier. God had deeply impressed on my heart the desire for vocational ministry in my high school years. Buddy's lifestyle changed about six months earlier to that of drinking and running with the wrong crowd. Therefore, his choices ended our long relationship and I had begun to prepare for ministry by attending a Bible College. Stephen was pretty burned by our first date (understandably) and we dated other fellow students until the following spring. By then we were studying each other in the dining room (when the other wasn't looking) and it was just a matter of time until we gave it another try. We dated through our junior year and married the following summer. We completed our education during our first year of marriage while also pastoring a little country church in Fair Grove, MO. I'm thankful for God's leading in our lives and I learned years later that Buddy ended up being an alcoholic for over twelve years until he got his life turned around. One never knows but I'm glad God saved me from such a heartache as I'd seen its devastating toll on my mother who was raised by an alcoholic father.
Some Faces of Daily Encouragement
Andy Larrimore has been a friend since 1993 and was a part of our church in New England where he continues to serve. He helped me to secure the domain name and set up the initial Daily Encouragement website in 1999. 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 now has his own web design business "Webs By Andy" and also works in IT for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He and his wife Joanne have two grown children, Ashley and Eric. Ashley is a physician and Eric served in the Marines in Afghanistan. Ashley had a dream to be doctor when we first met her as a young child. Here's a photo from 1997 of Ashley along with Ester and other friends in what looks like a birthday party!
Brad Park is a Canadian IT professional whom we have never met face to face! Many years ago he contacted me and offered to help with technical issues. He now provides hosting for the website and covers the fee for the podcast. He's always available when I have a question or technical problem. People periodically inquire about the "staff" of daily encouragement. Well, actually that's just Brooksyne and me, along with Brad at this time!
Daily Encouragement Ministry Chronology
October 21, 1996 - First email sent to a married couple and developed into a list (which initially merely a group list added to manually one by one.)
1999 - Website developed
2002 - Moved to professional listserve (automated list manager for large email lists)
2003 - Began one minute radio spots extracted from Daily Encouragement messages
2004 - Resigned from full-time job with chaplain 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 already had endorsement for corporate chaplaincy and Civil Air Patrol chaplaincy.)
Note: I never learned to type right. I only recall one boy in typing class in high school and at that time never imagined I would need to type. However I peck really fast with my index fingers, which is so inefficient that Brooksyne can hardly bear to watch when I'm doing it. (She's a real typist.) Anyway, over 16 years the accumulative total of words according to the composite file of all the encouragement messages since the first one is now over 2,500,000. However even this total is probably significantly understated since as many writers know you tend to type many words that get chopped as you go along or are eliminated in the editing process! Plus we prepare a lot of extra material on the html posts that aren't even in this archive.
Although we are thonkful for spellcheck we still need to proofread carefully to see if we any words out.
Statistics can be misleading but for what it's worth here is an overview.
Website unique visits 2012 YTD: 433,070
Website pageviews 2012 YTD: 1,065,802
Website "hits" 2012 YTD: 8,284,102 (essentially a meaningless stat but still used by many and placed here for comparison)
(Due to various server and hosting changes through the years I don't have a total since the inception of the website in 1999.)
Current daily email list subscribers: 2,770
Current weekly digest email list subscribers: 87
Podcast downloads since September 2005: 2,304,848
Message blog: 368,257 views since January 2007
Message blog email list: 211
Prayer blog: 511,372 views since November 2007
Prayer blog email list: 1,118
Ministry update: For those interested I direct you to a revised ministry update in light of our 16th ministry anniversary.
Survey: If you would care to do we have short survey that we find helpful (it takes about five minutes).
Future plans: We do have a presence on the newer media such as Facebook and Twitter although I am quite sure we don't use these to their maximum potential. We have also considered if an app would be an effective way to extend our ministry but due to technical and time limitations have been unable to pursue this. Essentially we look for strength to continue to prepare these messages each weekday and for the foreseeable future intend a ministry mix between internet and chaplaincy. Essentially the chaplaincy gets us out regularly to the real world for a fresh perspective.
Support: We are thankful for those who support our ministry with their financial offerings. Some give monthly, others periodically or one-time. We generally each spend 1/2 day preparing these messages, managing the technical details and responding to email feedback (some days more, some days less). Our prayer has been that offerings would be essentially 1/2 of our family income since we work together. If any reader would like to consider supporting our ministry financially information is here.
Brooksyne's Note: As we share the history of this web ministry I am reminded of our Lord's faithfulness and the diverse giftings He gives to those He has called. It is extremely humbling to us that God's Spirit speaks to the hearts of men and women all around the world through our daily messages. Twenty years ago when we got our first computer Stephen and I would never have imagined the medium of computer technology giving us "a voice" to reach people all over the world. It continues to be a very exciting means for us to share messages from God's Word as they are lived out in our normal daily lives. Your prayers, feedback, and support spur us on and challenge us to remain faithful in this writing ministry. Join us in continually giving thanks for His abundant blessings that far outnumber the grievous burdens of each day.
For Brooksyne's birthday I took her out to a Pot Luck dinner following our church service which, wherever we've lived, is as good a food as you will get in any restaurant! She's slicing pieces of chicken pie she prepared for the luncheon and I caught her by surprise.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Jesus, Friend of Sinners" by Casting Crowns Video I learned after church that it's one of Brooksyne's favorites as she plays the CD often and has been greatly blessed by this song. For anyone who's praying for one whom many consider "a lost cause", this song will greatly encourage you!
This is the song I was expecting when they started:
"Jesus, What A Friend Of Sinners" Video Grace EV Free Church
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Text only version for printing: To make a text only version for printing (without photos or any of the supplemental materials)
1) Open the basic text editor that comes with all computers (known as wordpad, textpad, etc.) You can also use a program like Word and select paste text only.
2) Select and copy the text from the portion of the message you want to print.
3) Paste into the text pad. (The photos won't show up but you will have a brief text description of the photo which you can delete or just ignore.)
4) Format if you desire (change font, increase or decrease size, etc.)
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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