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 21, 2013
It's a beautiful autumn morning here in Lancaster County and I took this photo of our neighbor's barn and stunning tree up the road from our house.
"Be Encouraged Today!"
Note: Due to to a matter explained below the final message and podcast was prepared without Brooksyne's help (apart from some notes).
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11). "When he (Saul) came to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles" (Acts 9:26,27). "Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus" (Acts 15:39). "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13).
Today is a special day in our family. First of all, it's Brooksyne's birthday so that's special for us, though Brooksyne keeps it more on the quiet as the years continue to grow (as with all of us, except my mom who even in her eighties got terribly excited weeks before each of her birthdays)! Brooksyne is not with me this morning as I prepare this since Ester had a heart episode on Friday morning and she's in the hospital now (more about that below). I will see her this evening though and we will go out to dinner together.
Today is also the very day this ministry started 17 years ago with a short email to just two email addresses (both are still on the list). I had preached a sermon the night before from Hebrews on encouraging one another daily and that was the leading I had from the Holy Spirit, although I would have no idea at that time it would continue the next day, then the next day, and now here we are…. seventeen years later!
Barnabas is one of our favorite Bible characters to write about. Consider his influence; no book in the Bible was written by him, we don't 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 a brief, biographical snippet. But these snippets tell a lot about him.
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. Barnabas is essentially a nickname and every future reference to him in Scripture uses this nickname given by the apostles!
The second daily verse is so typical of his ministry as an encourager. I sure can understand the apprehension of the disciples! After all Saul had a vicious reputation. His newfound conversion might have been a mere ruse to get in closed quarters with the disciples.
Note just the two words, "But Barnabas." His action is so indicative of an encourager. Barnabas believed in the power of Jesus Christ to perform the miracle of transformation. And Saul (who became Paul) was genuinely transformed. Consider the tremendous contribution Paul made to the church in his apostolic ministry and letters. I am sure thankful for Barnabas who chose to stand up for him!
But later a sharp disagreement came between the two men over the role John Mark was to have on a mission's trip. John Mark had let the team down on an earlier trip and Paul decided against taking him but Barnabas gave him a second chance. Paul and Barnabas parted ways and Barnabas took John Mark on a separate mission trip. Thankfully though, it appears that the two were reconciled at a later date and Paul gave John Mark a great reference. He wrote that he was "profitable to me for the ministry" (2 Timothy 4:11). I am also heartened that Scripture indicates that Paul and Barnabas at some point reconciled. (See 1 Corinthians 9:6)
Barnabas is an 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." We sure believe that. In fact due to what we have faced the last several days we have been blessed by an outpouring of encouragement.
There are matters in our lives like we are going through that can easily bring on discouragement but thankfully most of us don't live in a state of discouragement. And yet I don't believe there will ever come a time that I'd say, "I don't need any more encouragement. I've had enough for today. Thanks anyway." I am always receptive to other's encouragement since in a sense I can store it up! And I expect that you feel the same way, so once again on the 17th anniversary of this ministry, let us once again declare to you:
Be encouraged today!
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we're reminded of the important role people like Barnabas play in our lives. They give us the benefit of the doubt; they reach out to us when others turn away from us; they see our need even when we don't verbally express it; they steer us in the right direction when we've taken a wrong turn; they model for us the reflection of Christ. I thank You, Father, for Your Spirit manifested through these encouragers who physically, emotionally, and spiritually bless my life by their encouraging words and actions toward me. Prompt me often to spread the same kind of encouragement to those whom I have opportunity to bless. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen
Personal notes: (written by Stephen since Brooksyne is at the hospital with Ester)
Ester: Early Friday morning (3:00AM) Ester awoke with atrial flutter, a heart condition in which her heart rate is 200 beats per minute. Brooksyne took her to Hershey Medical Center where they called in the pediatric cardiologist on call (pediatric cardiologists continue to treat adults with pediatric heart conditions.) Ester was cardio-converted at 9:00 AM to restore normal rhythm. Later that day she went into Atrial Flutter again and had to be cardio-converted a 2nd time!
Some careful readers may recall that there was a concern about a lead on her new pacemaker when it was replaced last month. We thought that was resolved in a follow-up pacer check but alas such was not the case. The doctors have determined the lead is defective and will have to insert a new lead requiring open heart surgery. They will do this ASAP since the lead actually shocked her internally indicating the insulation is bad (there's probably a more medical way to describe this but that's what I understand).
We will keep our family, friends and interested readers posted on this matter. Perhaps tomorrow Brooksyne can write a fuller explanation and update. We had planned a trip this Tuesday but that has been postponed.
Another memory of October 21, exactly 40 years ago today! We were both freshman in Bible college. Our first "date" was to a Sunday evening church service. At that time busses from various local churches came to the campus to transport students to church. We were sitting on the bus together ready to leave when her roommate came on and informed her that her previous boyfriend and his mother had driven up from Tulsa, OK to see her. At first Brooksyne wanted to hide but decided she had to greet them and I was left on the bus to go church by myself on our first date. He was not serving the Lord and she made it clear their relationship was finished. Three months later we got together again.
Friday night my brother Pat, who served a church in the Lehigh Valley, and his associate pastor, John Uhler, came to stay at our house while they attended a men's conference in the Harrisburg area. Late Friday night John drilled two holes through my brick wall for me so I could put in some outside receptacles on my house. That was a blessing! I fed them breakfast on Saturday morning and we had a great time of fellowship and a prompt for a message I will share tomorrow.
Yesterday we heard a stirring mission testimony in our church from Jake and Nancy Shenk, who first went Africa in 1958. He preached a hard message on commitment and sacrifice. I don't know quite how old they are but I suppose most are long retired at this point in life. But he contends, "why retire when there's still work to do and I can rest in heaven."
I found out that Jake grew up on the same farm where we rented a farmhouse for a year when we first moved here to Lancaster County in 2001.
Yesterday was a mission focus in our church and we are thankful for the opportunity to share our ministry with our church friends in a service last night. It was a blessing to have the entire church gather around us for prayer following our message!
Here's some info about Daily Encouragement Net
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.) It did not became automated until about five years later.
1999 - Website developed
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 the first "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, in seventeen 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 poofread carefully to see if we any words out.
Ministry update: For those interested I direct you to a revised ministry update in light of our 17th ministry anniversary.
Survey: If you would care to do so 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. We also receive income from our corporate chaplaincy ministry. If any reader would like to consider an offering to our online ministry 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.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"By Faith" Video Keith and Kristyn Getty
"Rock of Ages (When The Day Seems Long)" Video Sandra McCracken
"Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul" Video Indelible Grace
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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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