Love From Your Pastor

Hi Everyone!

I want to thank everyone for the prayers and encouragement this week.  Some of you may not have been aware that I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy a couple weeks ago.  The doctor put me on prednisone (a steroid) to try to “knock it out.”  The medication has done a number on my blood sugar numbers, and caused me to not feel “right.”  But I am on the mend!  My smile is a little less crooked, and today I was able to wink my right eye for the first time (just in time to be able to wink at Elizabeth for Valentine’s Day)!  I will still be on the medicine for about 10 more days, but my dosage is tapering down.  Thank you again for your prayers and support.
On this Valentine’s Day, as I was reading my Bible this morning, I was struck by the fact that my family has decorated our house with multiple hearts.  Hearts are everywhere!  It is a fitting symbol of the holiday, which focuses on the love we have for one another.  And as I read, I couldn’t help but notice (again) how many times the words “love” and “heart” appeared today!  There were at least 12 passages, from each of the 4 areas we’re reading from, that included either “heart,” “love,” or both.  For example, read Psalm 40 today (especially verses 8, 10-12, and 16) and see what I mean.
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi FBC Friends!

Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation. (Psalm 35:9 ESV)
Are you rejoicing in the LORD today?  In reading the chapter’s in our daily Bible reading today, I found a mixture of joy and sorrow.  Joy in His salvation; sorrow over our sinfulness, and sorrow over Christ’s death; but joy that He was willing to endure that for us!
And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:37-39 ESV)
This event, along with His resurrection (which I can’t wait to read about tomorrow), is the most monumental event in all of history!  And the curtain being torn in two, because of His perfect sacrificial death, is what gives us access to the Holy of holies!  We can boldly approach the throne of grace!  This is definitely cause for us to rejoice in the LORD and exulting in His salvation!

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi again Brothers and Sisters,

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. (Psalm 28:6-7 ESV)
I was impressed today with how many times the subject of the “heart” came up in our Daily Bible Reading.  In Exodus 7 & 8, the story emphasized Pharaoh’s hardened heart.  I counted 8 times in those two chapters his hard heart was referred to.  Then in our reading in Mark 8, Jesus chastised His disciples by asking them,  “Are your hearts hardened?” (vs. 17).  But on the positive side, we see in Psalm 28 that David (a man after God’s heart) expressed how his heart trusts and exults in the Lord.  And when describing how the “Proverbs 31 woman” helps her husband and does not cause him harm, the writer states, “The heart of her husband trusts in her…” (v. 11).
I went back through my journal, where I write down key verses from the daily reading.  And just from this past month, I found 18 verses or passages that mention the heart!  As I was journaling this month, I wasn’t specifically looking for verses about the heart, so there are probably many more that we have read in recent days on this key subject.  Obviously, the heart is a key theme in the Bible.  I think one of the most important expressions for us is when Jesus said we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…”  So how’s your heart today?
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends,

Thank you to all who have been praying for Caleb’s recovery from hernia surgery.  The doctor seemed pleased with the result.  Caleb is pretty sore, but getting better each day.  We appreciate all the prayers and concern!
Also, before I forget, let me remind you about the All Church Game Night tomorrow, Friday, from 6 – 9pm in the fellowship hall.  Bring a friend; bring a game; and bring a snack to share!  The purpose of the evening is to have a good time together, get to know a few people better, and develop relationships outside of the usual quick hello’s we say on Sundays.
Members, following the worship service there will be a brief meeting to vote on the allocation of funds for the building of the Christian Education classroom wing!  Please be prepared to stay for a few minutes.
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends!

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
For years I have been deeply impressed with this response from our Lord.  While the Pharisees and Scribes certainly argued about which commandment was the most important, and made many laws of their own, Jesus cut to the heart of the matter – literally!  What could any of His opponents say in response?  Nothing!  It is great to have a desire to study and know all of God’s laws, but it is critical that we understand the purpose behind them.  And the best way to be sure that we are covering all of His commands in our lives  is to measure ourselves against this criteria – are we loving God with our entire being, and are we loving other people?
 

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Love From Your Pastor

 

Good Afternoon FBC Friends!
PRAISE THE LORD!  And, THANK YOU!  Last Sunday may go down as one of our “memorial stones” (Josh. 4:7) moments at FBC Brownsville.  After much prayer, and through the generous and sacrificial giving of many people, we had a special offering for the Christian Education classrooms of $44,169.90!  Add that to the $20,000 that had already come in towards the end of 2012, and the over $200,000 already in the fund, and we are over $268,000 and ready to move forward with this next phase of expansion!  We have much to rejoice over, much to be thankful for, and much responsibility to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with!  PRAISE THE LORD!  Please be praying for this next stage in the days ahead.  Also be praying about ways in which you may be able to help with some of the work in the coming months.
In today’s New Testament reading, we are in Matthew 13.  Jesus of course is the master teacher.  His parables are rich with truth.  Sometimes they take quite a bit of thought to grasp what He means.  Even His own disciples often had trouble understanding.  Thankfully, He sometimes explained very clearly what the parable meant.  In the beginning of the chapter He told the parable of the sower.  I’d encourage you to read that today even if you’re not following the reading calendar.

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends!

Happy New Year!  I pray that 2013 holds many joyous moments for us along with great growth in Christ.
As you know by now, this Sunday is our special offering for our Christian Education classrooms addition.  January 6 has traditionally been celebrated by the Christian church as “Epiphany”, remembering the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus.  Just as those wise men brought their valuable gifts to the Lord, we will do the same.  Just as the poor widow (Luke 21) set an example for the rest by her faithful, sacrificial giving, I hope and pray we will follow suit.  Just as people gave as the Lord stirred their hearts in the days of the tabernacle and the temple, so I pray that our hearts will be moved to accomplish the goal the Lord has laid before us!  This offering will take place early in the service, and will be separate from our normal general fund offering.  In preparation for Sunday, I invite any who would like to join me in fasting and prayer for the special offering.  We will be praying for the gifts, and just as important, the hearts of the givers.  You can choose to fast from one meal, two, or the whole day.  It’s up to you; the point is for us to diligently seek God’s face.  I realize that some have already given generously toward this offering.  Thank you!  And please continue to pray for the others who will bring their gifts this Sunday.
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends!

Well, 2 days after Christmas and I notice the decorations are starting to come down, the music lineup has changed on the radio stations, and I saw Valentine’s Day stuff in the store already!  How quickly we are ready to “move on” to the next big thing.  Reminds me of how quickly people tend to forget God shortly after a crisis where they had sought His help!
A few announcements:

Let me remind all the men who normally attend Bible study on Saturday mornings – we are taking this week off, and will resume January 5.
Let me remind all of you who want to read along with us using the “Daily Bible Reading Calendar” for 2013, they are available in the foyer for a suggested $3 donation.  I’ve found it very helpful in keeping me in the Word every day, and I’ve been blessed in 2012 with the many times others from FBC have talked with me about things we’re both reading!  Sometimes when I refer to something I read that day, I see a bunch of heads nodding – which hopefully means they read it too!
Also, since this is my last LFYP e-mail of 2012, let me encourage you to consider writing some specific, measurable, faith-stretching goals for 2013!  Share them with me if you’d like.  I have mine completed, and copies are available for anyone who wants to pray for me and help keep me accountable.  I can also e-mail you a copy if you want.
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi Friends,

There is so much I want to say, but I am trying to keep my weekly e-mails brief, so people will actually read them!
First of all, THANK YOU!  Elizabeth and I (a.k.a. Joseph & Mary) were tremendously blessed by your generosity to us last Sunday.  What an amazing thing the Lord has done by bringing us to Brownsville!  We love you and thank God for you.  Also, thank you to so many who came out to the open house.  It was a joy to see the fellowship taking place while enjoying great desserts.
I also wanted to comment briefly on the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT.  It’s hard to imagine anything worse: the slaughtering of innocent children.  This week we are hearing about multiple funerals for teachers, the principle, and of course the children.  I was reminded as I was studying Matthew 2 that something similar happened after Jesus was born.  But this atrocity took place upon the order of the King, Herod.  Matthew 2:16-18 describes the killing of all boys in Bethlehem age 2 and under, because of Herod’s paranoia and fury.  Obviously these are two different incidents.  But I think there are similarities in what we take away from them.  For one thing, these things are not outside of God’s sovereignty.  But we are again reminded that we live in a fallen world, filled with sin.  The only time this world will see total peace is when the Prince of Peace returns.  I guess the other “take away” from this is to not take life for granted.  Hug your children a little longer.  Show love and graciousness a bit more.  The sad truth is, you never know when the last thing you say to a loved on is… the last thing you ever get to say to him/her.  One other good thing that has come is the string of “acts of kindness” that have been spreading around the country.  I know these will not necessarily help the grieving families, but at least it shows that there is hope still in our country.  Well, there is much more that could be said, but time prevents me here.
 

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Love From Your Pastor

Greetings Friends!

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)
I have been thoroughly enjoying all the Christmas lights in our area lately!  The reason I like to put lights on our house is to point to the One who is The Light – our Lord Jesus Christ.  Christmas is a great time to celebrate what God has done by bringing Christ, the Light of the world, to earth.  Let the Christmas lights we see this week remind us of Him, and remind us to walk in the light as John says in the above verse.
This Sunday we will have a special visit from a guest all the way from Bethlehem and Nazareth, and from 2000 years ago!  Please plan on joining us for a special presentation, where we will see Christmas “Through the Eyes of a Carpenter.”  You can read Matthew 1:18-25 in preparation for this service.
 

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