Winter scene in Lancaster County, PA
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Monday, January 8, 2018

Berks County barn 1/7/18 (click to enlarge)
Red barn in Berks County, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"Cold, Fire, And Kindness"

Message summary: Today we encourage our readers to seek various ways to share kindness. Included as the fifth fruit of the Spirit, kindness is evidence of God's work in our life. It's a means of witness in which we can all participate.

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"Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself" (John 18:18). "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).

We continue to have very cold temperatures in our region with a low overnight in the low teens. However the forecast for today is a warmup all the way to 30
°! But presently (1:00 PM) it's sleeting.

For sure, it's pretty warm compared to conditions on Mount Washington in New Hampshire on Saturday where it plunged to a wind-chill of -90
° according to the Mount Washington Observatory. That would be -36° with winds of 92 mph. Over 20 years ago we drove up to the top of Mount Washington in the summer and it was so cold and windy that Brooksyne was quick to say, "When are we leaving?".

Coal stove interiorIn the bitter cold temperatures we especially appreciate the heat in our home. Since we have a coal stove I kindle a fire each fall and generally the same fire stays active all winter long since I'm adding coal each day. The exception is when we're gone for several days or if we lose power for several hours (even though it's a coal stove it takes electricity to keep the fire going)*. The photo shows the burn plate with the white hot coal burning. That small area is only about 6x4 inches but can put out some 85,000 BTU's, burning anthracite coal. The stove is in our lower level family room and that's where we like to nestle on a very cold winter day!

Today's texts can be found in the familiar chapters of the Bible though we may not have given further consideration to some of the smaller details. The first one is the events surrounding Peter's denial of the Lord when Jesus was arrested and tried. The text tells us it was cold and people were warming themselves by a fire. It's a sad account of Peter's fear overtaking his desire to stand by our Lord, but thankfully the account has a good ending and a reminder of our Lord's willingness to forgive. Doug Gibble, a friend of ours, places this quote in his email sig line, "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."

CampfireThe second text is after Paul's ship had wrecked and the survivors landed on the remote island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Being cold is uncomfortable. Being wet is uncomfortable.  But being cold and wet will make one shiver in misery no matter how tight you wrap your arms around yourself.

The instructive detail in this account is the extraordinary kindness of the islanders who had greeted the ship's survivors. They demonstrated their compassion by meeting a critical need these cold, wet shipwrecked survivors were experiencing. Seeing a need the islanders "kindled a fire and received us all". What a blessing this must have been to Paul and his fellow survivors!

Today we encourage our readers to seek various ways to share kindness.
Included as the fifth fruit of the Spirit, kindness is evidence of God's work in our life. It's a means of witness in which we can all participate.

Show a little bit of love and kindness,
Never go around with hatred's blindness,
Take a little time to reach for joy, and wear a happy face!
Sing a little bit when the days are dreary!
Give a little help to a friend that's weary!
That's the way to make the world a happy place!

Be encouraged today.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, it is easy to express love and kindness when we're responding to one who has expressed these virtues toward us. We're awfully good at giving back that which we receive. But often the people who need it most are those who express little love and kindness. Their hearts are sometimes consumed with so much self-pity and resentment they have little room left for the works of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, and kindness. Help us to respond to a brother or sister in need or lay upon our hearts one who has exercised little kindness toward us. Help us to lay down our suffering related to their unkind ways, so that we can take up the love You offer us when we're most unlovable and extend it to those who seem unloveable to us. We want to offer love and kindness to others as an extension of Your love and kindness toward us, for when we were dead in our trespasses and sins You made us alive in Christ. Help us to be people of grace as You have extended it to us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Teen Challenge prayer service 1/7/18
Yesterday morning we went to the Teen Challenge chapel service about 35 miles from our home where Stephen preached to the 50 to 60 men in attendance. Following his message and general prayer he invited those who desired special prayer to come forward. Many responded forming a line all the way across the auditorium as Stephen and I prayed for them one by one.  In this photo Stephen is praying with a resident while I am writing down Psalm 143:8 which I had just quoted to a young man, in hopes that he will put it to memory. Teen Challenge is a Christian rehabilitation program that focuses on spiritual wholeness and new life in Christ. David Wilkerson founded it in the 1950's and initially focused on teens. The name stuck, but practically from the beginning it's been for all ages. Yesterday we saw some who appeared to be as old as us. Especially heartening was seeing those in the thirty day detox program choosing to live for Christ and realizing that He is the answer to finding lasting freedom!

Conrad Weiser homestead 1/7/18
We drove into the grounds of the Conrad Weiser homestead.

Lebanon County barn 1/7/18 (click to enlarge)
Another red barn in Lebanon County.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Oliver tractor in Lebanon County barn 1/7/18
We drove down the long lane to see the old tractor peeking out of the barn.

Border Collie with sheep 1/7/18
As we got about 5 miles from home we passed the same sheep we showed in a photo last Wednesday. However this time the herding trainer was out with a border collie newly enlisted for the job. She said it was the collie's first day herd. The other collie was in a pen at the top of the hill, barking fiercely, since he or she was surely anxious to do the herding. She looked pretty experienced to our untrained eyes. Since we have a border collie we've come to appreciate these animals skills.
Brooksyne took a video of the activity. (2 minutes, 20 seconds) Watch here.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Show A Little Bit of Love and Kindness"  Video  The Collingsworth Family

* Our coal stove requires electricity since it has an automatic feeder and blower.

Finally today:
Teen Challenge passing the hat 1/7/18
"Passing the hat" literally!
Yesterday the student chapel leader had forgotten to arrange beforehand for the offering baskets so Stephen volunteered his hat.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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