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Monday, July 14, 2014

Kraybill Church Road Amish church traffic 7/13/14 (Photo by Ester)
Yesterday morning Ester stepped out our front door and snapped this photo of an Amish buggy heading to church at our neighbor's barn.

"The Blessing Of Kindness"

Note: Due to travel we did not prepare a podcast for this message.

"The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all" (Acts 28:2).
"Be kind and compassionate to one another" (Ephesians 4:32).

In 1977 shortly after we married Brooksyne and I moved over a thousand miles from the Midwest where we both grew up to the Northeast where we planted a church in a small town in northern Pennsylvania. Shortly after we arrived, Stephen and Florence Bogdan, an older* pastor and his wife from a neighboring church, reached out to us with their friendship, support, and encouragement. We specifically remember a fellowship meal in their home and a promise they made to regularly pray for us. They showed us extraordinary kindness.

Several years later they moved from that area but we stayed in contact through the years, occasionally seeing each other at ministry functions. It was encouraging when they reminded us that they were praying for us. About fifteen years later we took groups of young people to Philadelphia on mission trips to serve at the "Highway Mission Tabernacle", a church they served on Spring Garden Street not far from Center City Philadelphia (pictured below message). We have continued to stay in contact through these daily encouragement messages. Stephen went to be with the Lord about ten years ago and Florence continues on still serving the Lord, now in her late 80's. Yesterday we visited her in Philadelphia and rekindled our enduring 36 year friendship with her.

Today we encourage readers to follow an example set by the native islanders on Malta, who showed extraordinary kindness to Paul and his traveling associates. It's a great verse we can easily overlook as we read through the Bible. Their kindness was demonstrated by the warm fire they prepared on the "bay with the sandy beach" that helped dry out the 276 shipwrecked passengers. Knowing how much I (Brooksyne) like to stand right next to a roaring fire I would have a hard time sharing it with all the others. The passengers must have been chilled right down to the bone as they fought off water for two weeks, and survived the cold, billowing deep sea as they grasped broken pieces of the ship. Likely the clinging emotions of suspense and fear were quickly dissipating due to their finally arriving on sturdy, dry, land, hearing the sound of a crackling hot fire, and being eagerly received by the natives of Malta. Perhaps the lady folks were busy preparing a warm meal to fill their hungry bellies. (Read Acts 27 & 28 to get a full sense of this dramatic sea voyage which includes the shipwreck.)

Ephesians 4:32
The Scripture calls believers to live a life of kindness. "Be kind and compassionate to one another," Today we all have God's call upon our lives to express His kindness to an often harsh world and to be encouragers to the many who are in desperate need of an encouraging word. And we can do this in so many different ways. Let us all seek the Lord about how we can show kindness today!

We encourage you to consider the power of small acts of kindness done in the name of the Lord. Jesus spoke of the "cup of water" given in His Name (Mark 9:41). Paul anticipated a guestroom and a time of refreshing with Philemon in his home (Philemon 22).

Have you noticed how kindness, like so many other godly virtues is rapidly diminishing in our culture? Often we hear about "road rage" and other current faddish explanations for man's failure to act in kindness and consideration to one another. We who are motivated by the royal law of Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (James 2:8) will desire to show the kindness of God to those around us by deferring to their needs rather than our own. 

Are there people in your neighborhood or workplace who are resisting the gospel? How can you show your love and concern by meeting their needs? Sometimes the first step in witnessing is extending kindness!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, our lives are often tossed to and fro by the billows of heartache, loss, and uncertainty. We're so grateful for caring friends who are like the islanders of Malta in Acts 28 who cheer us on and wave us in as we're seeking steady, dry land. They welcome us with warmth like that of a sizzling campfire when we're drenched with chilling water from the billowing sea. Rather than shake their finger at us and scolding us for getting caught in the storm, they provide shelter, food, and wise counsel so that we no longer feel alone or fear that we will perish in our troubles. Help us to kindle our friendship by acting as a lighthouse giving out Scriptural light to navigate our friends through the scourging rocks of sin and despair. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

* "Older": We realize now they were younger at that time than we are now! But in your early twenties as we recall everyone over 50 seemed old.

Mark Robinson & Tom Myers 7/11/14
Last Friday Tom Myers (right), a pastor from the Atlanta area joined Brooksyne and me for several chaplain visits. He is speaking in this photo to Mark Robinson, who had attended a church where Tom served as pastor many years ago when he served a congregation in the Harrisburg area. Tom is interested in a similar chaplain ministry as ours and wanted to get a sense of what it was like. Mark is an IT manager for Val-Co Products.

Our travels with Tom Friday included traversing the Amish/Mennonite rural region of Lancaster County as we do every week, practically always encountering some interesting sites.

Amish barn used for church service Lancaster County PA 7/11/14
I had run an errand for an Amish friend and needed to drop an item off. We know many of our readers find the Amish way of life interesting. Our friends recently hosted a church service which was held in their barn. They had already taken the benches down and placed them in the bench wagon for transport to the next place where they will have a church service (meeting together every other week in homes or barns). This photo was taken from the outside looking into the barn. The simple wood backless benches had been placed facing the center with the men seated on the left and the women on the right. The preacher stood at the far end of the barn.

I told Tom he would enjoy visiting this family and sure enough all seven came out and joined us in the barn. Tom talked to the parents for awhile and before leaving he asked Moses, the oldest child who's about 11, what time he got up to start working each morning. Without grimace he answered "4:30". Tom asked him when they finished and then Moses said around 7:30 [at night] adding, "We don't have to work very long"!

Leaping deer in farm field 7/11/14
Along Ronks Road, after we left the farm, we watched this deer as it leaped through the open pasture land.

From rural Lancaster on Friday we traveled to Philadelphia on Sunday.

Otis Fortenberry 7/13/14
We attended Highway Tabernacle in Philadelphia yesterday morning and before the service we visited with Otis Fortenberry whom we first met over 20 years ago on our mission trips. Vocationally he is an engineer. Spiritually, he is a steady, faithful man and very active in the church.

Highway Tabernacle, Philadelphia 7/13/14
Highway Tabernacle has met for over 100 years and uses a building constructed before the Civil War. Like so many churches they have had their struggles with a transitioning community. Presently the area is undergoing gentrification. Years ago our youth mission teams helped the church with physical projects including cleaning out the belfry. We also had a children's VBS and one year passed out fliers on the street for a Billy Graham crusade.

Florence Bogdan 7/13/14
And there she is, Florence Bogdan, the "first lady" of Highway Tabernacle who is 88 years old. After the service we visited her home and had a nice visit. She deals with chronic arthritis and is now essentially homebound, but she's able to read our messages daily and commented, like many of our "shut-in" readers, that she benefits greatly from our photos as her visual mind can go places where her body can no longer take her. She had a bag full of  slippers she had knitted for a Ukrainian ministry that provides for the needs of children so we had her display a sample pair for our readers to view.

Geno's steak
In the afternoon we drove through Philadelphia and had a genuine Philly cheesesteak at Geno's. Two cheesesteak rivals, Geno's and Pat's, which is across the street from where Brooksyne took the photo vie for the best Philly cheesesteak. We split one from each place. I voted for "Pat's" and Brooksyne voted for "Geno's". Truth is, they were both delicious.

Philadelphia's boathouse row 7/13/14
One of the beautiful scenes in Philadelphia is Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill River.

Today we are going to the New Jersey shore to walk the Ocean City boardwalk and visit with some other friends!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness"  Video   Collingsworth Family

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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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