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Friday, April 3, 2020

Amish farmer plowing
This farmer is expressing faith in the midst of all the turmoil as he plans ahead for a harvest this fall. I passed this farmer and his team of mules breaking up fallow ground on Ronks Road in Lancaster County late yesterday afternoon.
Click on photo to enlarge

"A Consideration Of Plans"

Message summary: Today may the Lord teach each of us the vital truth from the prayer He taught us, "Thy will be done".

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in Godís hands" (Proverbs 16:1). "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'" (James 4:13-15).

Earlier this week I wrote a letter to each of the business leaders we work with as chaplains. I considered how their well meaning plans had been so drastically altered. As they began the new year just three months ago they had developed budgets, sales forecasts, prepared for trade shows and so forth. But everything has changed including the plans of those whom they employee.

We pray that God would encourage them today and give them the stamina to continue despite the obstacles before them, including an increased work and stress load due to the adjustments they are having to make. May the Lord pour out the financial blessings that they are so desperately needing.

Many are providing essential services such as a company we serve that makes systems for animal watering and feeding and another that makes critically important components for medical breathing devices. On a broader scale we consider how some companies have altered their production to make protective masks and ventilators. Do you suppose that 3 months ago the "Pillow Guy" would have ever imagined making masks! We pray that God will give these leaders wisdom and personnel to accomplish their task.

Consider the many plans that have changed on a personal level, some certainly more drastic than others. This is true for virtually everyone reading this; graduations, sporting events, recitals, conventions and on and on the list goes. Just yesterday Brooksyne got a call from our local Joni and Friends staff that the retreat in June where she was planning again to serve as a short term missionary has cancelled which is a huge letdown for the disabled campers who so look forward to this every year. The phone just beeped a minute ago with another cancellation where Brooksyne was to be serving in May for "The Day of Blessing" planned each year for mothers of disabled children. Earlier this week I received an email that a banquet I had looked forward to attending in April has been canceled. And so it goes on and on for you as well.

I am several years away from what I anticipate will be a phased retirement. As the year began, like many at my age, I had been watching how my projected Social Security income and funds in my 401(k) retirement accounts would fit into my plans. Things looked pretty good as best I could determine. Well, you know how all that has changed for so many with the loss in value!

So many gripping stories are coming out of this. Some bring great joy as we see the best of the human spirit, some remind us of the fallen state of our world such as those motivated by greed seeking to take advantage of the crisis. One mayor pleaded with the criminals in his city to please put a hold on the criminal activity.

One way God should get all our attention is a humble recognition of the uncertainty of our plans. An ancient proverb states, "We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in Godís hands". That is so true as we are all now experiencing.

Jesus told a story about a man who had plans. He had prospered. He thought he had his business plan all figured out and confidently said, "This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.í" Do you recall how this story ended? See here, Luke 12:20,21.

James has a similar teaching. "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'" (James 4:13-15).

Consider these words, "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow". Perhaps we should personalize and memorize; "I do not know what my life will be like tomorrow".

That is something we are all experiencing now, some far more drastic than others. We read of a healthy 44 year old father of four who died of the virus from New Braunfels TX. He was a kindergarten Sunday School teacher in his local church. *

Our lives can change so quickly. James went on to express this sobering truth, "You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'".

May the Lord teach each of us the vital truth from the prayer He taught us, "Thy will be done".


Be encouraged today,



Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we may make our plans and are wise to plan ahead, but in the end You have the final say. Just like the farmer, in planning for an abundant harvest, he must prepare the soil and plant the seeds in faith that You will bring about the rain and sunshine to grow the vegetation. But throughout history there has been famine, pestilence, storms, and other destructive forces that shattered instead of rewarding the worker's efforts. Yet we also read that You have a greater purpose and so often it is calling people to repentance and reliance upon You. You also tap into the hidden reserve deep within our soul that sustains, energizes, and drives us beyond our normal abilities as we adapt our plans to Your will for our lives. Help us to remain faithful and trusting in the process. Amen.



Personal note:
Our plan when the year began was for me to begin collecting Social Security when I turned 67 in October 2021 (one year after my full retirement age and Brooksyne will be 66 years and 2 months (her full retirement age). Over the next several years we had planned to phase into retirement by reducing company chaplaincy either through attrition (such as a company being sold and no longer using our services) or leaving of our own volition. However we had hoped and still hope to continue to serve as company chaplains to some extent into the indefinite future as long as our health and energy allows. We also hope to continue to share our daily Encouragement as long as we have strength to do so. But with heightened awareness
that I do not know what my life will be like tomorrow I say, "Thy will be done".



Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Thy Will Be Done
"Thy Will Be Done"  Video  Hillary Scott & The Scott Family   This is a wonderful song and beautifully sung by Hillary Scott. The lyrics speak of the inner battle we deal with in matters that are not of our own making and that do not go along with our best laid plans. Finally the surrendering response to such things comes from the songwriter: "Thy will be done" sung over and over just like our surrendered prayer when we give our situation fully into His hands: "Thy will be done."

The Isaacs
"I Know Who Holds Tomorrow"  Video  The Isaacs

"Put It into God's Hands"  Video  The Browders   Brooksyne: I like this song because those words, "Put it into God's hands" are sung in such a rhythm that it repeats in my mind over and over and that's what I need to be reminded of everyday of every hour so it comes about very naturally in my mind, whether I'm thinking it, saying it or even singing it (with rhythm).

*Healthy young father dies of the virus from New Braunfels TX. This is where Brooksyne's sister lives as well as Ester's boyfriend who works at the hospital where this man was treated. Pastor Ray Still from Oakwood Church: "Our hearts are saddened for T.J.ís wife and children and they remain in our prayers. T.J.ís family are people of faith, and itís that faith that has and will continue to sustain them. He was a fine Christian man who was faithful to serve his God and he had a wonderful and supportive family. He was healthy and strong, and in no fault of his own, was stricken with this dreadful virus. His passing should be sobering to all, that this pandemic must be taken seriously."

We are now unable to make visits to our companies so we are reaching out in other ways, including emails. Yesterday I sent a brief email of encouragement to Joe especially expressing concern for his elderly parents who live in Queens NY. He wrote back and shared how he is seeking to be a bright spot in his company by sharing a thoughtful quote with his fellow employees. May the Lord reveal to all of us our "unsuspected reserve of strength".

Moses installing battens
More improvements:  Yesterday afternoon we continued making repairs/improvements to our utility barn. Moses is installing battens over the cracks in the siding. We are pleased at not only the function (weatherizing) but appearance as well. (Brooksyne's note: Just like Stephen tinkers on projects in the barn, I think he enjoys tinkering on the outside appearance as well plus he enjoys working with the 16 year old Moses)

Finally today:

Praying manFor many years we have used the classic photo to the left of an older man bowing his head in prayer each day as we share our prayer of the day. That photo was taken by Eric Enstrom in 1918 of Charles Wilden in Bovey, Minnesota. It's also known as "Grace" and depicts Wilden saying a prayer over a simple meal. Coincidentally, the year of 1918 as we hear regularly in the news, was the year the influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. 

Yesterday Lamar Dourte wrote to tell us that he had forwarded our message to several friends and one upon seeing the photo asked him, "Is that your grandfather?"

Well, Lamar
sent a photo of his grandfather, Monroe Dourte, which to me bears a resemblance to the 1918 "Grace" photo. Do you agree?

Monroe Dourte
We have written about Jesse and Wilma Dourte in many posts over the years and about Jesse's death just over a year ago. Monroe is Jesse's dad so we feel some distant connection with his photo.



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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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