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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Strasburg steam engine from Casey Jones dining car 3/31/19
The Strasburg Railroad Steam Engine 89 built in 1910 passing by the dining car of the Casey Jones restaurant where we dined for lunch yesterday. (Photo by Ester)

"Tune My Heart To Sing Thy Grace"

Message summary: Our hearts need regular tuning as we are confronted with conflicting tones in various settings all throughout life. We need to constantly tune in to hear the voice of God, foundationally through His authoritative, inspired, and inerrant Word, the Holy Scriptures.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name" (Psalm 86:11).

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

Leavitt Keener piano tuning 4/1/19
Yesterday morning we had our piano tuned by Leavitt Keener, who has tuned our piano since we moved to Lancaster County in 2001. Brooksyne has been a bit negligent in getting her piano tuned and learned that Leavitt was ill, so put it off even longer. When he walked in today, his face glowed, as he said, "I received a miracle!" He has a testimony of being a three year survivor of pancreatic cancer. He undergoes chemo every three weeks and will need cancer drugs the rest of his life, but he is rejoicing that God spared his life, there is no presence of cancer in his body, and he is back to work, only taking time off to recover after his  chemo treatments.

Listening to Leavitt at work from our office downstairs, one could mistakenly think that a child was striking the keys, one note after another. I was tempted to holler up from our office, "Stop banging on our piano!"

In tuning our piano Leavitt initially uses a standardized
Tune my hearttuning fork set to a very specific tone. This forms the basis for tuning each note on the piano. If he begins with the wrong tone it will adversely affect his entire tuning job. (Note to self: that would be a good illustration.)

The tuning begins near the middle of the keyboard. Itís the starting point and standard for the piano tunerís work. He gets the pitch from a metal tuning fork that vibrates at a frequency of 440Hz. Its pitch is constant; it is never out of tune. Of course everything gets higher tech and Leavitt also uses some type of electronic meter as well.

You surely have heard the hymn and may just want to break out into song at reading these words, "Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace." What an unusual descriptive phrase the songwriter uses to petition God for dealing with one's heart. We often pray for a softened heart, an undivided heart, a steadfast heart, a renewed heart, a loving heart, etc.

But today let us consider the notion of having our hearts tuned. We speak of not only tuning a piano but also an engine tune-up in a vehicle. We get a tune-up with the purpose of restoring the engine to optimum performance.

George Washington CarverOne of my favorite historical characters is George Washington Carver, a fellow Missourian. He was able to see the hand of God in nature. Carver said, "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour if we will only tune in."

One of the great spiritual responsibilities we have is exercising discernment and teaching those whom we influence to do so as well. There is a cacophony of voices that call out to us to go the wrong way. We are exposed to these voices at all ages, but our youth are particularly vulnerable. We need to constantly tune in to hear the voice of God, foundationally through His authoritative, inspired, and inerrant Word, the Holy Scriptures.

Our hearts need regular tuning as we are confronted with conflicting tones in various settings all throughout life. The dissident tones of this world are ever tugging at our mind and can get us off pitch from our spiritual relationship with God, usually at a gradual rate, so that we might even be unaware.

Tuning up our hearts to the standard of God's perfect pitch is an essential exercise for all believers. The best tuning "fork" in the Bible is found in Hebrews 4:12, "The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword. It penetrates, even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Today's daily text is one of those treasures from the Psalmist: "Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name." We are especially gripped by the phrase, "Give me an undivided heart". What a powerful description of a heart that is in tune with God's heart!

Like the piano, when we tune into God's voice and hear His message, there are other messages bombarding our minds and trying to take over or distort His clear, unambiguous message. I want to fine tune my heart to receive what God has for me not giving ear to that which distorts, revises, or adds to the truth of God's Word.

Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I'll praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, I want my heart to be tuned to Your Truth and righteousness, for You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. I place my complete trust in You and reject the godless trends and vain philosophies promoted by the world.  May Your words be embedded in my heart and mind through the faithful study of Scripture so that I might not sin against You and I will easily recognize truth from error. Since I'm often prone to wander, I ask You, Father God, to mount my soul on Thy redeeming love and tune my heart to all that is good, righteous, and holy so that my attitudes and actions are harmonious with the Scriptures, in the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

The piano tuning lesson today prompted a few other "piano" memories

Brooksyne playing Steinway grand piano
Many years ago Brooksyne played this Steinway baby grand piano at a friend's home in Maryland. I snapped this photo from the balcony.

Brooksyne and Elnora playing Steinway grand pianos 10/17/16
Two years ago we visited Marilyn, the friend who had the piano in the first photo, in San Diego. She had moved the black Steinway into her beautiful home in San Diego and it now sits beside her other Steinway. While we were there another friend, Elnora Dresselhaus, stopped to visit. Since she's also a pianist it was a perfect time for the two of them to play a duet. Their song of choice was: "How Great Thou Art" but it took only a few notes of their playing to realize the pianos are not set to the same tuning. It wasn't quite the pleasant sound we had all hoped for. Brooksyne backed off since we wanted to hear the beautiful hymn as it should sound. Elnora is a very gifted pianist and has played on this piano over the years.

When Jesus played the piano!
  Here in Lancaster County we are blessed to have Sight & Sound, sometimes touted as the "Christian Broadway", which has been dramatizing adventuresome Bible Epics for nearly 40 years, complete with story, song, and spectacular staging and effects. There's also a Sight and Sound Theater in Branson, Missouri where we honeymooned in 1976.

We have enjoyed these outstanding presentations through the years, most recently one simply titled "Jesus". Each one ends with a clear presentation of the Gospel. Of course, the actors are actually local "real" people known throughout the community and in area churches they attend.

A number of years ago Juanita, my mother's longtime friend, shared the following story with us during a visit in her home located in the Branson, MO area. She and her late husband, Warren, had many contacts in the Branson area and were able to get us some free or discounted tickets to several shows and attractions. In fact in three days we attended five!

The attraction that stood out most was the presentation of a drama called "The Promise" which powerfully presented the message of the Gospel. Randy Brooks, the actor who portrayed Jesus, did an outstanding job and is himself a devout believer. In a remarkable way he really fit the stereotypical art image we have of Christ.

Juanita told me they had taken their grandchildren to see the play one Saturday evening and the next day Randy attended their church and was playing the piano. Their grandson in wide-eyed amazement pointed out, "Look, Grandma! Jesus is playing the piano!"

Old fashioned radio
Brooksyne's Tuning Memory: Our message today takes me back to my childhood when my dad proudly brought home a second hand (probably third or fourth hand) radio console from the 1930's era. It was solid wood with a veneer finish and had the typical dial tuner. As a family we were pretty excited about the "antique" radio and right away we tried to find our favorite radio stations. The problem was we couldn't hear our station clearly without nearby stations trying to butt in. We would try to fine tune it but then we'd then run into static as we got further and further from the actual station we were trying to hear. But if we were patient and fine tuned it delicately and with much deliberation we'd finally get the station we wanted. Of course, anyone who then messed with the dial was in big trouble. Like the radio, when we tune into God's voice and hear His message, there are other messages bombarding our minds and trying to take over or distort His clear, unambiguous message. I pray that I will regularly fine tune my heart to receive what God has for me which means I will not give ear to that which distorts, revises, or adds to the truth of God's Word.

More photos from our weekend

Tom and Marsha Neizmik, Casey Jones dining car 3/31/19
On Sunday we were blessed to have our long-time friends, Tom and Marsha Neizmik, who had come to Lancaster County for the Sight and Sound show, join us in a church service and then share a meal at the Casey Jones Restaurant eating in an authentic railroad dining car. The Casey Jones restaurant is at the place where you can stay in restored cabooses at the Red Caboose Motel although now the cabooses are painted their original colors. Tom and Marsha came into the church we pastored in northern Pennsylvania nearly 40 years a young married couple. They were a great blessing to our ministry and have served the Lord in many ways. Most notably in our view is that together they have overseen and often lead a weekly service in a nursing facility for over 35 years starting in their early twenties.

Strasburg Railway train from Casey Jones dining car 3/31/19
The views from the dining car are interesting whether it be the train passing or pasture land or later viewing the tall corn fields.

Amish couple from Casey Jones dining car 3/31/19
A young Amish couple on an open spring wagon likely going to Youth Meeting.

Tom and Marsha at Casey Jones restaurant 3/31/19
Tom and Marsha remain fun-loving and youthful even after 40 years of marriage. Here they climb a ladder on a box car on the Casey Jones restaurant porch.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"  Video  Buddy Green, Jeff Taylor This is the song that has the line, "Tune my heart to sing Thy grace."

"Yes And Amen"  Video  Calvary Church Worship Band

Once we had our piano tuned and had an interesting problem we shared about it in a footnote in this message.

Finally today:

Piano tuners
Children "tuning" our piano many years ago. Now Sadie, the middle child, is 13 and the two boys, David and James, are not too far behind in age!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEģ, 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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