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    ReadFBC Weekly
    January 15, 2021

    Becca Nelson, who is the director of a homeschool group that uses our building, asks that we pray for a family in their community, the Potter family. Jenni Potter, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Wednesday night. She leaves behind her husband, 5 children, and 2 boys she has been trying to adopt from the Ukrain for almost 2 years (they call her mom). The family and their community are devastated and heartbroken. Let’s lift all those grieving in prayer.

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      ReadTuesday News & Notes
      January 12, 2020

      Several years ago it really jumped out to me that Paul’s positivity and hope and joy, which we find permeating the books of Philippians, was not automatic. This was really something to be because Paul is a hero in the NT and to me. When the hero says, “Don’t be overwhelmed about my being (unjustly) jailed. The gospel has not been stifled. The volume has been turned up and people are hearing it now, who might have not heard otherwise.” (That’s my rough paraphrase of Philippians 1:12-14) There’s a tendency to think his heart is protected by an impenetrable fortress, and that he didn’t even have to struggle to think that, or that contentment and joy come so easy to him. This can lead us in a number of directions: inspired, “oh, if I could only be like Paul, and accept troubles more faithfully!”; frustrated with a lot of negative self-talk, “I’m such a baby. I could not endure what Paul did. I’m such a disgrace to the faith! ”; cynical, “You make it all sound so easy, Paul! Maybe I could accept things so readily if I had seen Jesus on the Damascus Road, too!” 

      You may experienced one of these? You may have felt each of these at different times throughout your life? I tended toward the inspired end, but I’m a natural optimist, so to me Paul just always looked for the brighter side of things (just like me). It never occurred to me that Paul may have had to work through his own frustration and fears. 

      Why I thought this, and why I’ve heard many other express similar sentiments is not merely that Paul is our hero. It’s that AND the story of he and Silas praying and singing PRAISES to God after being whipped and thrown in jail in Philippi (Acts 16, this occurred years before Paul wrote Philippians). When the jailed hero writes “don’t be overwhelmed with concern about me or the gospel”, who had previously sang praise songs after being beaten and jailed, it’s really easy to think he is just unflappable — it’s possibly even convenient to think that, when you don’t feel you measure up. 

      Like I said earlier, though, I used to think this way, but the Lord in His grace showed me some other things. 

      First off, the same Paul who sang praises with Silas after being beaten and thrown in jail unjustly, earnestly prayed for the Lord to remove a “thorn from his flesh” (2 Cor 12, whatever stands behind the expression “thorn it the flesh”, it was something Paul was plagued by, and which he believed hindered his mission). Paul was not unflappable, he was in need of receiving the Lord’s ministry, the Lord’s fresh pronouncement of “my grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor 12:9). 

      Second, Paul doesn’t offer the disciples at Philippi Christianese. He did respond to their worry with, “God has a plan.”, or “Just have faith and everything will workout.”  Paul offered specific reasons to ease their fears: 1) he was able to proclaim the gospel to his guards, and 2) other disciples were emboldened to proclaim without fear (Philippians 1:13-14). Quite simply, this reveals that Paul had given thought and prayer to the situation. He didn’t have mere platitudes. He had good reason to have hope and joy. What’s more is when we consider Philippians 1:15-20. We cannot suppose that Paul came to these conclusions on his own, without aid of the Lord’s ministry. 

      Finally, there are contextual clues throughout the letter that Paul was not merely “happy-go-lucky” about everything. Philippians 1:8 shows us that Paul had a great longing in his heart for the disciples at Philippi. Philippians 1:23 reveals that Paul’s heart is sincerely torn. Does he really want to die and the gospel be proclaimed through his death (v.20), or does he really want to live and continue shepherding Christ’s disciples? Philippians 2:27 illumines that he was in a sorrowful state, that the Lord’s mercy on Epaphroditus was also mercy on Paul, keeping him from having sorrow upon sorrow. Philippians 3 reveals that Paul had to learn the differences between gains and losses. Something he no doubt learned through loss. Finally, in Philippians 4:11 Paul reveals that he has “learned” to be content in various states of life. It did not come automatically. He had to learn it, and he had to learn it through experiencing gains and losses. 

      While it didn’t come automatically to Paul, he did have great joy. How? He received ministry of the Lord through praying his longings (Philippians 1:8). He received it as mercy of the Lord that his friend Epaphroditus was healed of life threatening disease (Philippians 2:27). He received it as fellowship with the Lord when he suffered (Philippians 3:10), ever hoping in the promise of resurrection. He received the lesson of relying on the strength of the Lord through his losses and suffering (Philippians 4:13). 

      Today, may we be reminded that our Lord is not looking for auto bots, who are untouched by the sorrows and distresses of this world. Moreover, may we trust that he will meet us in our longings, sorrow, loss and suffering to give us that which we need to endure in faith and hope and joy and love. Our task is only to offer our longings and sorrows our losses and our suffering to Him. Let’s not only bring our own longs (etc) to the Lord, but bring those of our brothers and sisters in Christ and those of this world. 

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        January 11, 2020

        Please lift Mrs Wanda in prayer. Her COVID symptoms had seemed to be doing a bit better but took a turn for the worse this afternoon. Along with the physical anguish, this is taking an emotional on their family, for which we need to pray. Let’s lift up the Sokol’s, praying for the Lord’s grace and peace about them in the midst of this.

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          ReadFriendswood Baptist Church
          Sunday, January 10, 2021
        2. published a newsletter

          ReadFBC Weekly
          January 8, 2021

          Mrs Wanda Sokol tested positive for COVID. She is experiencing symptoms, and there is concern for her health because of other medical conditions. Please pray the Lord's mercy over her.

          Bro Ron is finally seeing some sign of recovery after nearly two weeks of illness. We thank the Lord and ask that you continue praying for him.

          Continue praying for Bro Carlos Rios and his family as he is struggling with COVID and Mrs Lola is having to work virtually and facilitate her children's virtual school, since they are in quarantine.

          Mrs Eilleen Gilley suffered adverse reactions from her COVID vaccine on Wednesday, but she has improved each day. Of course, her being 91 years old makes any sort of problem quite difficult and concerning. Please keep her lifted in prayer, praying, too, for her son Mike who cares for her.

          Bro Will Requardt tested positive for COVID and is experiencing symptoms. Please pray for him and for his family. Both my mom and my sister are monitoring their health and will undergo tests this weekend.

          Mrs Carolyn Jacobs brother, Pat, is in the hospital in Cleveland, TX. Please be in prayer for his health, praying too for Mrs Carolyn who is his primary care giver, who has her own health concerns.

          These all are in need of the Lord's mercy and grace, and we are sure there are others who are facing not only health concerns, but other struggles as well. As we pray for one another, let's not only pray for our physically needs but for strength of faith and character in the face of hardship and adversity.

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            January 7, 2020

            Mrs Wanda Sokol’s mother suffered a fall this morning in Missouri and has lost consciousness 6 times, which may be due to a heart attack. She has been rushed to the hospital. Please lift her in prayer.

            Along with praying for Mrs Wanda’s mother please keep Mrs Wanda in prayer, as she is sick. Bro Ron and Bro Carlos both tested positive for COVID last week, and are both suffering from symptoms. Mrs Wanda will be tested tomorrow. Please lift the Sokol and Rios family in prayer, praying for all aspects of this situation.

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              ReadHow Do You Feel After Today’s Events?
              January 6, 2020

              I gave the following message during our Wednesday House Church Livestream, of you would like to listen, you may do so here.

              How are you feeling after today’s events at our Nation’s Capital? 

              -Are you feeling like the people who justified protests this summer are now outraged about what happened today? 

              -Are you scared because it felt reminiscent to 9/11?

              -Do you believe it was a challenge to our democracy, or a fight for democracy? 

              -Do you find it hopeful? 

              -Did you see it as pointless? 

              -Do you fear that if this were people protesting BLM they would have been treated much differently, more harshly? 

              -Do you think you should accept the results of the election with humility? 

              -Are you glad people have given voice to your suspicion of widespread fraud in our nation’s election? 

              I imagine that there is a smattering of thoughts and feelings swirling in your heart and mind. 

              I find myself at a loss. 

              -The people who said that it was okay to protest in Seattle and Portland and Minneapolis, who even claimed that violence was acceptable because of people's long oppression and distress are vilifying the today’s protestors. 

              -The people who said that kneeling during our National Anthem was far too extreme a protest, are defending people who have stormed our Nation’s Capital, shut down a Congressional meeting and fought against Blue Lives as a form of protest. 

              Maybe you are at a loss too? 

              This last Sunday we discussed following Jesus as we face the challenges of this new year. Who knew we would be faced with such a perplexing challenge so soon? 

              Of course, today’s events were spurred by people who feel disenfranchised in their own country, people afraid of losing justice and freedom and power. They are legitimate fears, no doubt. 

              The fear that we are losing grip on one of the highest forms of justice our world has known is real. The fear that the gift of freedom will be lost is real. The fear that the world that is unfolding is colder and darker and more grim than the world we have enjoyed is real.

              We are tempted to get motivated by such fears. The question arises, "what we will do in light of those fears?" Or, "What will we tolerate, allow, excuse, condone?" Or, "what will we celebrate and support because we are afraid?" 

              Jesus lost. I know His story ends in victory, but before His triumph of resurrection was His defeat. If we are not careful, we will forget that He lost before He won. 

              Think of His losses: 

              -He lost His closest friends, who fled for their lives, Peter even denying Him. 

              -He lost His dignity as they stripped Him and beat HIm. 

              -He lost His peace as He felt forsaken of the Father. 

              -He lost His strength as He suffered on the Cross. 

              -He lost His life. 

              Jesus teaches us, then, not only how to be victorious, but that they path to victory is not the path we would choose. We do not tend to choose the path filled with fearful danger and even loss. Jesus did, though, and He beckons us, “pick up your cross and follow me”. In Biblical parlance, the path He took was not motivated by fear but by love. 

              Fear affords us the opportunity to tolerate, allow, excuse, condone, celebrate and support anything done in the name of protecting us. We can justify a lot in the name of protecting things we value. When we look to Jesus, though, we see that He was not willing to do anything to wrong or harm anyone else for the sake of His own benefit. He knew that doing so would undermine His whole enterprise of love. 

              A word that needs to be heard tonight, though, is that Jesus didn’t face this fear undaunted. The record we have is that He went to the Father and prayed and prayed and prayed, “if there be any other way, please let this cup pass from me”. We do hope we do not have to face our worse fears, and we have the freedom, and I dare say, the responsibility to seek the Lord, praying that we never have to face them. Let this be a practice of ours. 

              It was only after losing that Jesus triumphed. His triumph came through resurrection. With it He gave us a promise. His promise to us was not a government of this world that would provide us all the justice, freedom and power that we desire. He promised us His Spirit to govern us in this world, empowering us to face all the fears incumbent in this world, with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Moreover, He promises resurrection to us and His everlasting Kingdom. 

              What’s more is that He did not entrust His Spirit to a nation. He entrusted His Spirit to His church. 

              Again, I do not know how you felt about today, but I have been completely at a loss.and feeling like a stranger in a foreign land, but in light of all that we’ve rehearsed tonight, I am resolute and resolved to not be swayed by fear, or to be seduced by the fleeting justice, freedom and power this world has to offer. This resolution comes not from within me, though. This resolve is a gift of God through the life of His Son Jesus and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. I pray that the Lord will gift us all with the resolution and resolve. 

              With such resolution and resolve, may we pray for those with whom we disagree, who want to make us their enemy. May we bless those who wish us harm. May we be the blessed peacemakers Christ's disciples are to be. 

              1. published a newsletter

                January 5, 2020

                Mrs Janet Cooper asks that we pray for her friends son, David Vallo. He is undergoing quadruple bypass surgery today in Houston. Please join us in praying for him.

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                  ReadTuesday News & Notes
                  January 5, 2020

                  Jesus attracted people of various walks of life. Fishermen. Tax collectors. Various women (some wealthy, some outcasts). Pharisees. Scribes. Old. Young. Sick. Lame. Rich. Poor. People with vices. People of virtue. Any type of person you could imagine were welcomed by Jesus. 

                  What’s more, is that Jesus formed these people into a community who loved and cared for each other. When we say “loved and cared” we don’t mean merely that they had great affection for one another, but that they practically helped and encouraged one another. They gave their time, energy and resources to one another, for one another.

                  Through it all, these various people of diverse backgrounds learned to really enjoy one another. Of course, they valued the things that they held in common, but they learned to value their different perspectives as well. That’s not to say that they did not have disagreements, though. They had to learn how to reconcile differences, where to draw hard lines of contention, what to hold loosely as conviction but not dogma. 

                  We find all of this throughout the Gospels, Acts and the rest of the New Testament. Here we are continuing in that great experiment we call the church. At our core we are a community of various and diverse people, who are brought together in Jesus. We are ever learning how to love and care for one another, to enjoy one other and to value one another, despite differences. A great threat against us is not merely that we cannot meet as freely and as fully as we wish, but that we will not love and care for one another as Jesus taught and as we see embodied in the church after His ascension. Again, by “love and care” we mean much more than to hold each other in great affection. Let’s be on guard against this temptation and fight against it. 

                  Now, here’s the deal, none of us can do this for every one of us everyday, but each day each of us can do this for at least another of us. So let’s each of us seek another of us to love and care for today.