Shine Like Stars – Week 3 Recap

Here is the Week 3 recap for the Bible study “Shine Like Stars – 14 weeks in Philippians” for anyone who missed class or is following along from a distance. Questions and comments are welcomed.

Philippians 1:1-11

We are finally getting into the letter Paul wrote to the church in Philippi!

What title did Paul and Timothy give to themselves?  Servants. That’s the right answer, but before moving on too quickly, this word is super significant for two reasons.
1. This is the only letter Paul wrote with this title. In most of his letters to the churches, Paul called himself an apostle. (See 1 Cor. 1:1, 2 Cor. 1:1, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:1) By definition, an apostle is someone who knew Jesus while He was on earth. We are disciples or followers, not apostles. Paul had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus which gave him the right to be called an apostle. This title carried with it a level of authority. Paul was saying that his official position as an apostle meant that he had the right to say what he was going to say, and that the churches had the responsibility to listen.

This is important because most of the other churches were dealing with some big issues. In Corinth, there was a member of the church sleeping with his mother (or mother-in-law — 1 Cor. 5:1). The church was divided between those who followed Paul and those who followed Apollos. Believers were suing each other. Communion was a mess and not done with reverence. Worship services were chaotic. So when Paul wrote to them, he had to establish his leadership in order to address a lot of serious issues.
In Galatia, the church there started out great, but got off track when some teachers came in saying that in order to become a Christian, a person had to first become a Jew and get circumcised. Paul had to write and say “NO!”  He sent a letter to straighten out that incorrect teaching.
In Ephesus, false teachers were messing with the doctrine and the immature, easily swayed believers were getting confused. There was sexual immorality among the believers and drunkenness was a problem. Paul wrote to them to say, “Grow up.”
In all these instances, Paul needed to pull his apostle card because he had some tough things to say and some correcting and rebuking to do.

None of that was the case with the Philippian church. Instead Paul said, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” What a relief for Paul to have a church that was not in crisis. No wonder he was so thankful for them! For any pastor, a healthy, thriving church is a tremendous joy. So Paul called himself a servant — a fellow worker, a partner in ministry.

2. There’s another reason why this word “servant” is so significant. A servant or slave in Ancient Rome was far different than our context for slavery, which was a dark time of great injustice in American history. In Rome, slavery was voluntary and not permanent. In fact, it was a way for people to rise out of poverty. A person could offer himself as a servant to a master and it would be a seven year commitment. At the end of that time, the master had to set the slave free. Then the slave had options. He could leave or he could say, “Master, you have been kind, you have provided food, clothes and shelter for me, you have given me work and I have come to love you and want to serve you the rest of my life. I want to stay, not because I have to, but because I want to.” The master would then take the servant to the doorpost, stretch his earlobe across the frame and pierce his ear. That piercing indicated that he freely chose to devote his life to this master. Do you see the beauty of this illustration? Paul called himself the servant of Jesus Christ, meaning he was totally submitted to his Master’s will, he was all in, he had pierced his ear.

To whom was the letter addressed? To all the saints in Christ at Philippi. What’s a saint? Any believer. That means you, if you believe in Jesus. What does it mean to be “in Christ”? It’s a phrase Paul used 164 times in the New Testament. “The Christian lives in Christ as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, the roots of a tree in the soil. What makes a Christian different is that he is always and everywhere conscious of the encircling presence of Jesus Christ.” (William Barclay)

Which expressions show how close the relationship was between Paul and the Philippians? “I have you in my heart.” (v.7) “I long for all of you with the affection of Christ.” (v.8) From a dark, dank prison cell Paul wrote a letter that drips with love for these people. Remember Lydia, the jailer and the slave girl from last week? Paul had such affection for these people, even though ten years had passed from his first meeting them (Acts 16) until writing this letter. We often think of Paul as a thinker, a theologian, a great mind. But he was also a man of great heart and deep love for people.

What are some specific requests Paul prayed for the Philippians? 
He prayed that they would love, even though it is obvious they were already a loving community. Paul said love bountifully. Love more. And then, love some more. There is no end to love, there is always more. Then he went on to describe this love – it is based on knowledge and insight. How does knowledge help us love better? Just as the more I learn about Jesus, the more I love Him, so too, the more I know about my brothers and sisters, the better I can love them. If I know someone is going through a rough season, it makes me more aware of their needs so I can reach out in love and support.  How is insight different than knowledge?  Insight is the ability to see into a situation, what we might call intuition, or understanding that comes from the Holy Spirit. Love with knowledge and insight is powerful!
Paul also prayed for much fruit to come from the Philippian believers. (See Galatians 5:22-23) Good fruit can only come from the work of God as we stay attached to the vine. Being able to display supernatural love, joy, peace, etc. is what makes Him evident to the unbelieving world. It makes us look like Jesus.
What is Paul’s overarching request? That God would receive all the glory and praise.
How does his prayer compare to what you pray for your friends? I don’t know about you, but I find myself mostly praying for friends who are in crisis. The idea of praying joyful prayers for my Christian brothers and sisters who are doing well was inspiring.

On the second page of our study for this week, there were lots of blanks! Don’t be intimidated by that! Once you try it a few times, it will become second nature. And the best part: this is where you begin to interact with God’s Word on your own and begin to hear His voice. Here is an example of how this can be done.
What does God’s word say? v. 3 “I thank my God every time I remember you.” The first blank is for you to copy the text word for word from the passage. Easy.
What does God’s word mean? What facts can you pull out of these words?
1. Paul spends a lot of time thanking God for people.
2. Paul prays when God brings someone to mind.
3. Paul uses his memory as a trigger to pray.
4. Paul thinks of others and not his own troubles.
What does God’s word mean to me?
1. Are my prayers thankful? Joyful?
2. Am I the kind of Christian who brings joy to my pastor’s mind when he thinks of me?
3. Do I respond with prayer when someone comes to mind?
4. How much of my prayer time is focused on me and my own needs?

Then move on to verse 4, 5, and 6. We had rich discussion in our study as we squeezed out meaning from some key words in those verses. I encourage you to invest in this study on your own because God wants to speak to you.

We will wrap up this week by revisiting our three questions from week 1.
1. What’s the source of joy? In this passage, Paul’s source of joy was other believers who were staying strong. His prayers for others gave him joy.
2. What does a mature believer look like? A mature believer doesn’t focus on his own problems, but finds something to rejoice in. A mature believer is a true partner in the work of the gospel, which means being an active, participating, contributing, involved member of His body, the church.
3. How can we shine like stars? By exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit and allowing God to do good work in us. We won’t be perfect and complete until Jesus returns, but He does want us to partner with Him until that Day.

(A resource we used in class was an audio clip of Matt Chandler’s sermon “Service” starting at 40:38 – to the end. You can find that on itunes at The Village Church, aired on September 18, 2017. ) 

shine 3

Shine Like Stars Week 4 Worksheet

Incomplete

incomplete

I got a C once.

It was in Geometry.

I got along fine with acute angles and isosceles triangles,

but struggled with postulates and theorums.

Otherwise I was an A-B student.

I never got an Incomplete.

Until now.

“He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I am incomplete, unfinished, weighed in the balance and found wanting.

But there will come a day when the trumpet will sound,

and every loose end will be tied up,

every to-do item checked off,

all desires satisfied.

Complete.

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Shine Like Stars – Week 2 Recap

Here is the Week 2 recap for the Bible study “Shine Like Stars” for anyone who missed class or is following along from a distance. (It’s a long one – grab a cup of coffee.) Feel free to leave questions and comments.

I can’t wait to jump into the book of Philippians, but first we are going to get the backstory about this place and the people Paul knew in Philippi. Acts 16:6-40.

Why did Paul go to Philippi?
*Paul had a dream, or vision, of a man asking him to come to Macedonia (v.9).
*The Holy Spirit stopped Paul from going anywhere else! (v. 6-7) His first choice was to go south to Asia Minor (present day Turkey), but he was blocked somehow. His second choice was to go north into Bithynia and Paul got to the very border but had to turn around. Since he was coming from the east, west was the only other option. He traveled as far west as he could before coming to the Mediterranean Sea and stopped in a town called Troas. There, Paul and his traveling companions met a doctor named Luke. (There is some speculation that the reason they were stopped from going north and south had to do with health issues. They found a doctor in Troas who happened to be Luke and he joined the team to be Paul’s personal doctor. Interesting idea, but no scriptural proof.) Luke ended up writing both the the Gospel of Luke and The Book of Acts.

There are some subtle clues in verses 8-10 that indicate Luke joined them at this point. Verse 8 says, “So they passed by…” Verse 10 says, “…we got ready at once….” Watch those pronouns!

*When they got to Macedonia, they still needed God’s leading on which city to go to. Paul went to Philippi because it was the “leading city of that district” (v. 12). Paul always went to the the place where there was the most potential to have the biggest impact and to reach the most people.

Just think how the western world would be different if Paul hadn’t obeyed God’s leading to bring the gospel to Europe. Just think how different the Bible would be without Luke’s writings. What if Paul had gone ahead with plan A to go south? Or plan B to go north?

One of the questions we’re asking in this study is “What does a mature believer look like?” Paul shows us right here. A mature believer trusts God’s “no”. Paul was willing to change his plans in response to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Paul was stopped from doing something we normally think of as good (preaching the gospel) because it wasn’t in God’s timing. I find it comforting that even the great Apostle Paul wasn’t always clear as to what God’s will was, yet he didn’t give up when things didn’t go according to his plans.

So they went to Philippi, which was a Roman outpost in Macedonia (Greece). Paul took the gospel international. This was the first time the good news crossed over into a different continent – Europe. All of us with European ancestry should be grateful God sent Paul west.

Who went with Paul?
Silas (Acts 15:40), Timothy (Acts 16:1) and Luke.

Paul had significant interactions with three different people in Philippi. List as many facts as you can about each person.

Lydia (Acts 16:11-15)
*She was a dealer in purple cloth.
*She was a woman who ran her own business. Purple dye was very costly, extracted drop by drop from shellfish. A person in this line of work had to have money. Purple was the color of royalty, so her customers were high on the social scale. Lydia was a metropolitan fashionista.
*She was from Thyatira, Asia. She was not a native Philippian, but traveled there often.
*She owned a home in Philippi, indicating she may have had a “house on both coasts”.
*She was a worshiper of God, meaning she didn’t buy into paganism. She was open to the Jewish God and was actively seeking more spiritual depth.
*She gathered her girlfriends together to pray by the river outside of town. This is significant because it shows there was not a Jewish synagogue in Philippi. A Jewish place of worship required ten Jewish men, which Philippi obviously didn’t have. Lydia took it upon herself to gather some women to pray.
*She was the first convert to Christianity in Europe. The Macedonian man in Paul’s dream turned out to be an Asian woman!
*She was hospitable, immediately inviting Paul and his team to her house, which became the gathering place for the first believers in town (Acts 16:40).
*She had “people”. All of her “household” also came to believe, which could have been family or more likely, servants.
*She had a heart open and ready to respond to Paul’s message. Once she heard it, she was all in and wanted to be baptized in the river right away.

The Slave Girl (Acts 16:16-18)
*She was a fortuneteller, able to predict the future because of an evil spirit that possessed her.
*She was enslaved by “owners” who exploited her for their financial gain. Today we call this trafficking.
*If she was local, her ethnicity would have been Greek.
*She was from the lowest class of society, with no rights and no hope.
*Something in her was drawn to Paul and the demon within her recognized Paul was a godly man. What she said was true (v. 17), but she was out of control, constantly shouting and harassing Paul. He didn’t want the message of the gospel being confused with this form of evil so Paul cast out the demon. “Paul didn’t appreciate free advertising from a demon.” (Matt Chandler) Consider the source.

Because Paul disrupted the fortunetelling business, the owners accused him of “throwing the city into an uproar” (v. 20-21). Paul and Silas were arrested and thrown in jail after being severely whipped. (Anybody been flogged lately?) Luke and Timothy were not arrested (they were Gentiles) and there is a clue in verse 20 as to why: “These men (Paul and Silas) are Jews.” Apparently there was some racial bias going on in Philippi. The prison guard was told to keep them safe and to guard them carefully. The jailer took it upon himself to go a little farther and put them into stocks in the inner cell.

The Jailer (Acts 16:25-34)
*He was a rule follower, didn’t want to mess up, just wanted to do his job well.
*He was probably an ex-G.I., a retired Roman soldier living in Philippi.
*He was a middle-class, blue collar worker who “wanted to put in his time at work, go home, have a beer and watch the game” (Matt Chandler).
*He was a family man and owned a house.
*He may have been getting an earful of the gospel from Paul; it may have been the first time he ever  heard singing in his jail.
*He fell asleep and was awakened by an earthquake.
*He was a man of honor, who was willing to take his own life for failing to carry out his duty.
*He was blown away when Paul and Silas didn’t escape but instead took charge and stopped him from committing suicide.
*He wasn’t ashamed to ask Paul “What must I do to be saved?”
*He immediately wanted his family to hear the gospel.
*He was a changed man, shown by his tender washing of Paul’s wounds, which he had inflicted several hours earlier.
*This may have been the first time his household experienced real joy.

3 very different people: 

  • an Asian business woman from the upper crust who responded with her intellect.
  • a young Greek slave girl from the lowest class who responded from her spirit.
  • an Roman man who came to believe through a supernatural, miraculous event.

God brings people to Himself in so many different ways. And all Paul did was watch and see where God was moving and joined in. “There’s some women praying. Let’s go see.” “This girl keeps following me around. I think I’m supposed to do something here.” “I’m in jail so I might as well talk to the guy guarding me.” Paul was always aware and watching for an opportunity to share Jesus. Nothing stopped him.

What preceded all three encounters? (v. 13, 16, 25)
Prayer. I think we underestimate the power of our prayers.

What would you say to someone if they asked you, “What must I do to be saved?”
Because we’d better have an answer. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (v. 31). It’s a belief that embraces these truths:
*Jesus Christ was God in human form.
*He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.
*The sacrifice of Jesus is the only adequate payment and covers it completely.
*He rose from the dead and is alive, preparing a place in eternity for all believers.
Say yes to this, accept His offer of forgiveness and salvation, and you are saved.

What a church it must have been in Philippi! So diverse and multi-cultural! Yet united by the Holy Spirit and alive with excitement! Now as we dive into the letter Paul wrote, we will be able to picture Lydia, the slave girl (no longer a slave!), and the jailer — Paul’s dearly loved friends.

Shine Like Stars Week 3 Worksheet

shine

Legoland

Our kids were big into Legos when they were young.
I mean big.
I’m talking a 30 gallon tote big.

All that plastic goodness took a reprieve from our children’s lives for several years. But thanks to grandchildren, the Lego bucket is back on the scene. One night these dearly beloved mini-bricks reappeared, and the big kids instantly became young again and the little kids were mesmerized by All The Pieces.

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For years we threw it all helter-skelter into one big container. The pirates mingled with the Star Wars guys and the soldiers co-existed with the ninjas. “Someday,” I thought, “I will sort all those itsy-bitsy arms and legs and heads and hats into nicely organized piles. Then I will buy a nicely organized organizer with drawers to keep All The Pieces nicely organized.” Well, that day has come.

PB went away for a few days to go fishing up north. He’s having his fun, so I decided to have some fun of my own. Don’t judge me. I’m just acting according to my Enneagram personality type. I’m a One, which means I have a natural tendency to fix, straighten and nicely organize.

“Neatness and order are comforting to Ones.
It makes them feel safe and less anxious.”
(From “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile)

So maybe I miss PB a little bit. And maybe sorting the blues and greens and blacks and reds into separate Macbook Pro boxes gives me a sense of safety, serenity and comfort. All I know is, I’m having the time of my life.

I just have two questions.

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 Should I sort the lime green from the army green?

How long will it take our 8 grands to blow this to smithereens?

Shine Like Stars – Week 1 Recap

Our Women’s Bible study for this fall is “Shine Like Stars — 14 weeks in Philippians”. Each week I will be posting a recap of what we studied so if someone has to miss class, they can keep up. However, anyone who is interested in joining this study is more than welcome to come along via this blog. Feel free to comment and engage with each other here. May God bless the study of His Word!

Week 1 — Introduction

We started out the class by answering two questions:
1. What are you hoping to get out of this study?
2. Are you willing to commit to studying on your own and coming prepared each week?

    It’s good to honestly lay out some expectations at the beginning of a new class. Although I know there are weeks when the wheels fall off and craziness prevents us from our lofty intentions, don’t use that as an excuse to stay away. Keep coming to class anyway! You will always learn something.
On the flip side, the more you put into a study like this, the more you will get out of it. So, the expectation is that everyone will have spent some time with the material.

Consider this:

Have you ever signed up for an exercise class?

When you went to class, did you just sit there and watch the instructor exercise?

Have you ever taken music lessons?

When you went to your lesson, did you just sit there and watch the teacher play her instrument?

Of course not, right?

Bible study is better when everybody is in it together.

Romans 1:12 says, “…that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Mutual. Encouragement. That’s what we’re after.

Time is always an issue. We are busy people with busy lives. There are lots of things vying for our time. Did you realize that the average American spends over an hour a day on Facebook and 4.3 hours a day watching TV? We are spending lots of time on things that add no value to our spiritual lives. My challenge for us is to make Bible study a priority. It will transform us! End of pep talk!

THREE WORDS

As we journey through Philippians over the next 14 weeks, there are three catagories of words we are going to watch for. You will need 3 different colored pencils to consistently mark these words in the passages.

  1. Happy words — like joy, rejoice, glad  (Pick a color that says “happy” to you)
  2. Absolute words — like all, every, always, ever, everything, everyone, anyone
  3. God words — like God, Jesus, Christ, Spirit

This will help us zoom in to look at every word. Paul never wasted words. We don’t want to miss any of them!

THREE QUESTIONS

There are three questions that we are going to ask throughout this study.

  1. What’s the source of joy?
  2.  What does a mature believer look like?
  3. How can we shine like stars?

These questions will help us zoom out to see the big themes in Philippians.

Next week’s study is going to give us some backstory before we dive into Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. We are going to meet some of the people to whom Paul wrote this letter.

My goal for this study is for us to fall in love with this book. I hope our Bibles fall open to Philippians because we’ve spent so much time pouring over it. I hope our pages come loose and fall out. I hope we can “become Philippians”, as we immerse ourselves in the treasures this book holds.

Perhaps you could take 15 minutes this week and read straight through all four chapters. As you do, remember that Paul wrote this book from prison and he did not know that his letter would be published, much less become Holy Scripture. He was just writing a letter to a bunch of people he loved. Try to hear his words as your beloved pastor writing to you from a prison cell overseas, waiting to find out if he is going to be released or put to death.

Here is a great summary of the book, done in a creative and engaging way. Enjoy!

 

Here is the study sheet for week #2.

Shine Like Stars Week 2 Study Sheet

 

 

August Lit List

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One of life’s greatest pleasures is reading outside on a nice summer day. Soon I’ll be taking my reading indoors by a fireplace, which is another one of life’s greatest pleasures. Gosh, there are lots of pleasures in this life. Here’s what has been on the shelf this month:

  • The Attentive Life, by Leighton Ford — This book is meant for slow, contemplative digesting. It asks the question, “Why is it important to pay attention?” Then the author walks through different seasons of life using the ancient “prayer hours” from morning to evening. His call to attentiveness helped me ask the questions, “Am I paying attention to what God is doing?” and “Lord, what am I missing?”
  • Circuit Chautauqua, by John E. Tapia — I read this book strictly for the sake of research. PB saw me reading it one day and asked, “Do you think I would like that book?” To which I answered, “This book would bore you out of your skull.” DO NOT READ THIS BOOK, unless you had a relative who performed in the 1920s on the Chautauqua tour. If you are wondering, “What is Chautauqua?”, just never mind.
  • Teaching to Change Lives: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive, by Howard Hendricks — I loved this. Hendricks writes with the perfect mix of humor, conviction and practical suggestions. I underlined the dickens out of this volume, which is filled with quips like, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks — which is true if you’re teaching dogs, and if you’re teaching tricks. But you and I are not in the business of either one. We’re teaching people, and we’re teaching truth.”
  • A World Lost, by Wendell Berry — I’m almost done reading the Port Williams Series with only one title left now. I’m putting off reading it because I don’t want my time with these characters to end. This story is about the passing of time and the power of memory. Although it has a melancholy feel, Berry tells the story with gentleness.
  • If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland — The big word there is “If”. After being quiet all summer, I know for sure that I do, I do, I do want to write. Some much needed inspiration was in this book to help me kick off the fall and kick me in the pants.

What’s your favorite season for reading?

Summer on the porch, or winter by the fire?

10 Things I Learned This Summer

Well, hello there.

hand waving

I’ve been gone for awhile,

but I’m back now.

thumbs up

Wanna get back together?

crossed fingers

Oh good!

Here we go.

10 Things I Learned This Summer

1. I keep forgetting how big the world is. Somehow I begin to believe that the 50 mile radius around my house is The World. Thankfully, PB drags me out of that circle from time to time. It’s such a relief to see long highways and tall mountains and wide rivers and not be in charge of any of it. Which reminds me that I’m not in charge of my 50 mile radius, either.

2. PB and I have turned into 18 people. Four kids, four spouses and eight grands came for a weekend in July. It was remarkably sane and entertaining and free of melt-downs. We even got a picture with all 36 eyes open and looking toward the camera. Glory!

3. When an extended family hasn’t had a reunion for 45 years, name tags are required. I met a whole generation of new cousins and marveled at the fact that I have graduated to the older generation. Thanks to a lot of planning and hard work by the senior cousins, it was a fantastic day. This was my contribution:

a Dinah_Family Tree 11x17 (1)

4. Potatoes can grow in a garbage can. I had my doubts, but PB saw it on Pinterest and set out to prove it could be done. He planted 4 potato chunks in June and in August we dug out a whole bucket full of spuds.

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5. You can go to Missouri and back in one day. Macon, Missouri to be exact. If you leave at 6:00 a.m., you will arrive around 1:00 p.m. Then you can grab a bite to eat at Sonic, go to the theater and watch a two hour play, give the leading lady (who is your talented niece) a hug, hop back in the car, fill up the gas tank, buy a bag of cheese popcorn and a bottle of grape pop and get home at 11:30 p.m. Ask me how I know.

6. Quote of the month: “We assume that what we see is all there is, and that’s rarely all there is to it. We assume that people who do things easily, do things because it’s easy. And that’s not true. They do things easily because they work so hard to do them well, and they put in the time and energy and the grit to get good at it.” Crystal Evans Hurst

7. We are officially a “pour-over” household. Gone is the Keurig coffeemaker from our kitchen counter. Gone are all those expensive, little plastic K-cups. Gone is the water reservoir with gross deposits all over it. Gone is the steaming cup of coffee in less that 45 seconds. Gone are all the fun flavors to try. We are free.

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8. Maybe I should have lived in the 1920s. This summer, I have been transcribing pages and pages of letters and diaries that a cousin wrote in 1927 while on tour with the Circuit Chautauqua. Marjorie was a virtuoso violinist, but I only knew her as a crotchety spinster who wasn’t very fun to visit. Maybe she just missed the good old days. Much more to come on this.

9. Thirty-eight years is a long time, but not really. PB and I have been married 38 years, which is a feat in itself. I’m not easy to live with. I still remake the bed and reload the dishwasher the “right” way. But it has flown by in record time. I doubt if we’ll have 38 more, but you never know. If he can keep making the bed wrong until he’s 98 and I can keep reloading the dishwasher until I’m 95, then we’ll have something to celebrate.

10. I wish I could take all the Bible study ladies on a field trip to Philippi this September. That’s probably not going to happen, although I did check on the price of an airline ticket to Macedonia (about $1300 roundtrip). So we’re just going to have to dive into the letter that Paul wrote to some of his favorite people, the Philippians. I’m looking forward to going deep in study with some of my favorite people too.

hello september