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Thoughts on the First Followers by Angie Fuller

Our mental images of Jesus’ first followers are typically of the 12 apostles and perhaps early missionaries like Paul, Silas, and Timothy. But the mention of women throughout the New Testament (Martha, Mary, Joanna, Dorcas, Lydia, Lois, Eunice, Phoebe, Priscilla…) is not trivial. Although cultural customs of that time kept them on the sidelines, they were not mere spectators of Jesus’ ministry and the early Church. They were watching, listening, learning, and becoming teachers and leaders themselves. Most importantly, Jesus’ model of love and respect did not just include successful fishermen, unclean lepers, tax collectors, blind men, and Pharisees. He and His early followers also took time to touch and transform the lives of prostitutes, unclean bleeding women, homemakers, successful business women, and widows. Imagine what certain lyrics of Sunday’s anthem would have meant to each of them:

“Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night, Jesus, I come…

Out of my sickness into Thy health…

Out of my want and into Thy wealth…

Out of my sin and into Thyself…

Jesus, I come to Thee.”

Let us not forget that Jesus’ way of treating people – all people – was not to make any political statements but simply to restore relationships to the way they were created to be. From the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the New Jerusalem in Revelation, it is clear that God made humans to take care of God’s creation and to enjoy respectful relationship with God and with each other. May our words, attitudes, and actions resonate with this simple message.

at Friday, March 16, 2018
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A Second Thought by Carrie Bartlow

For nearly a decade, Ardis Driskill was a “constant” for me. Every Sunday I’d find her in the same pew. Every time I saw her, I wanted to sit near her.  And when I did, she’d turn to me, pat my hand and ask about my week. When I’d ask “And how was your week?” she always replied with a smile, a nod of her head and said “Every week is a good week.”  Her presence was a comfort to me.  She always told me she’d prayed for my family and me that week, and made me feel like I was a treasured friend.  

Once, Harold Phillips posted a picture playing the accordion for her and the comments others made to his post were consistent – Ardis made everyone feel like they were a treasured friend.

It’s been nearly three years since Ardis sat in her pew in front of me and I have missed her each Sunday – but hope I can find a way to make others feel the way she made me feel – important, loved and special!   


at Thursday, March 15, 2018
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Discomfort and the Cost of Living by Jeff Langford

The Sunday School class I facilitate at Second Baptist is called Winepress. The name comes from Old and New Testament images of the vineyard, where God plants and cultivates God’s people. Will the grapes be sour or sweet? The winepress reveals the harvest’s true character because the winepress is where the vineyard’s grapes are crushed.

I realize “crushed” sounds ominous, but it’s hard to overlook this stream of thought in the Gospels. Jesus was pretty clear that following him would be difficult. His discipleship lessons are punctuated by reminders to “count the cost” and “take up your cross daily.” Honestly, it doesn’t sound all that inviting.

In spite of that, I rebel at the idea that our Christian life should be described in negative terms. After all, Jesus promised us an abundant —not a diminished— life. Yet, loss is sewn into every seam of the gospel. There is no resurrection without the cross.

Discomfort seems to be the cost of truly living. As pastor Jason tells parents during a baby dedication, “God calls us to a good life but not an easy life.”

On a trip to Napa several years ago, I learned that winemakers sometimes “stress” their grapes by depriving them of water for a period of time. It seems counterintuitive, but the result is a richer, more flavorful wine.

Maybe the season of Lent is like a period of stress for the grapes in our soul’s vineyard. An intentional and temporary deprivation that will enrich and enhance our lives in the long run.

I wonder, too, if God can somehow use the temporary discomfort of Lent to cultivate permanent changes in our hearts. As much as I hate discomfort, I hope that’s the case. My sour-grape soul is counting on it.
at Wednesday, March 14, 2018
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