July 6, 2016 - Jesus said, “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:47-48).

Jesus also said, “But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved” (Jn. 5:34). So what can we conclude from this? We can conclude that anything Jesus said about salvation or that saves us, is indeed something that is connected with salvation. On the surface of that statement I know of no one that would disagree with it. If Jesus said it then it must be true, right?

Well lets make some application. Jesus said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. ...5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3,5). It is also written, “...The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1:15).

And lo and behold that is what His apostles taught as well (Mk. 6:12). You see repentance is a condition of salvation. Simon had to repent in Ac. 8:22-24. Peter also would have to repent at Paul’s' rebuke in Gal. 2:11-14. And the young man in 1 Cor. 5:1-5 would have needed to and was required to repent. Even the church at Ephesus was going to have to repent or lose its status as a church (Rev. 2:5). We cannot live and do things our way and still be saved.

Not only did Jesus say repentance was for salvation He also said baptism was to. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16). Without it the kingdom is not available to us, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ...5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3,5). While some religious circles deny that this is baptism and the water is our fleshly birth (which is what Nicodemus thought) it is baptism. The “again” is with the water and the Spirit, a spiritual birth.

Peter also said, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Ac. 2:38). Did not Peter teach the sayings of Jesus? Remember when Jesus said, “but these things I say, that ye might be saved”. Who will disagree with Jesus? If Jesus said it, it must be true.

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June 30, 2016 - The Power Of God: And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me, in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18) NKJV

All power was not given to Jesus as a reward for His death on the cross, He has always had the power within Him. He has always been equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit in power, essence and glory, the Holy Trinity acts in perfect unison.

He had the power to willingly lay down His life and he had the power to take it up again. This statement in verse 18 was made to the church as assurance that He had the power to enable her to carry out the terms as stated in the "Great Commission" and that he would be right there with the church as His command was carried out on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:19-20) NKJV

His claim of all power in universal, He has authority over all the forces of nature, as well as over all spiritual powers. For instance, He stilled the storm, overcame Satan, healed all manner of diseases, raised the dead, read people's thoughts and assured the church that the gates of hell would not prevail against her.

He exercises His power in the salvation of lost souls. He tasted death for all; so whosoever will may come to Him for salvation. His blood is so powerful that it cleans from all sin. No one comes to Him in faith and is ever cast out.

Jesus has the final judgment, the faithful believers will stand before the Judgement seat of Christ in heaven. Nations will face Him when he returns to earth in great power and glory. Those who reject Him will have to face Him at the end of this age at the Great White Throne Judgment, only to be condemned to the lake of fire for eternity.

Jesus, Himself tells us that NO ONE comes to the Father but through Him. His authority is seen in heaven as He mediates each day for His flock. 

The Father has exalted Jesus and has given Him a name that is above all other names. The purpose being that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord of Lord's to the glory of God the Father. 

There are no exceptions for those who wish salvation, it can only be gained through the grace of God given to those whose knees do bow and whose tongues do confess Jesus as Lord  (those who humble themselves and submit to His will and not their own or the will of mankind.)

As the "model prayer" says; "for Your's is the power, the kingdom, and the glory, forever and ever, amen."  Blessed and honored be the name of the Lord...

“Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together…” Heb. 10:25

July 4, 2016 - While I was a student pastor of the Bonaldo Baptist Church in Nacogdoches County (Texas), I picked up the Buster brothers on my way to church every Sunday morning. I’d dared go no further than the front gate because of the yard full of yellow cur dogs that wanted to bite me. On the days the children weren’t going to church, one would meet me at the gate and say, “Wint going” (e.g. “we aint going”).

There’s lots of ways of saying “wint going”. “There are too many hypocrites in the church”, “I’ve got chickens to raise, cows to feed, and company coming”. “Income tax is coming up…” “Hunting season has opened”…. “I was made to go to church when I was young”… “I feel like I’m coming down with something”…. “If you only knew what I know about those church members…” “If I came, the house would fall in”..”I worship the Lord in the great out-of-doors…”

It took me a little while to understand the true meaning of all this rhetoric. I learned that these people were no busier than most of the rest of us and that they were just saying with many words what the Buster boys could say in two:

…“Wint going”.

July 3, 2016 - Sunday was the 7th Sunday after Pentecost. Monday, July 4th is our nation’s Independence Day. If these first days of July are any indication, July 4th is going to be a hot one. But we live in Texas, so we have to expect it to be hot. We have so much to be thankful for as citizens of the United States. We are sometimes a divided nation, but I think we concentrate too much on what divides us and forget all that binds us together. We as a nation have overcome much for two plus centuries. In the third verse of America the Beautiful the song writer says, “God mend thine every flaw.” This applies not only to our nation but all citizens of this great nation.

Our Sunday school lesson was titled Ignoring God’s Truth Within Us. The scripture was from Romans 2: 17-29. Already in the first generation of the Jesus Movement there were divisions. The most contentious was between Jewish and Gentile Jesus followers. One of the constants in both the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament) and the New Testament of first century Jesus followers is the human being. We humans tend to be slow learners—except we are quick to judge and quick to get angry. I read our lesson in the Wesley Study Bible, which included an added piece about Wesley, the founder of Methodism, having his heart “strangely warmed” and knowing that God loved him: The Bible Study group he was attending was dealing with Martin Luther’s study of the book of Romans. 

In the last chapter in his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul tells the people that they will harvest what they plant. This is still true today. If you plant hatred and bigotry, those will be your harvest. What I think has always been a problem for people is that we are way too often so busy that we don’t take time to water our spiritual needs. Howard Rice says people have always been beset by the twin aches of living. There is a sense of cosmic loneliness without God and there is a yawning sense of meaninglessness without some sense of the Divine. But it takes time and effort to live Kingdom lives and to make that central to your everyday living. 

What a great group we had this Sunday! Gene and Joy’s son Chuck, his wife Kim, and their son Austin were here to celebrate July 4th and came to Sunday school and church. Lilly, Liz, and Mike were also up from Houston. Lilly is beautiful as always, and it warmed my heart to see all of them. We celebrated Holy Communion this Sunday. For the last several communion services, I have been using a different liturgy. I really like it, as it is so inviting and also spot-on about the idea that taking communion can be a transformative moment. 

Sue and I have travelled in June to Chicago and to Louisiana, Missouri. We had a family reunion in Chicago, and then a week later we had another family reunion in Louisiana. The little town of Louisiana is right on the mighty Mississippi just south of Hannibal—Mark Twain country. When we got home from the last reunion we washed clothes one day and headed to Dallas the next. My daughter was moving her “stuff” into her new home. The renovation has taken longer than anyone expected, and the contractors are not quite through. But the end is in sight! 

While Sue and I were gone, the church and other volunteers met at Lakeside for our monthly ministry. Earlier in the week, the group also had a program at Holiday. Pastor Matt, Minnie, Hilda, Nora, and Sylvia were there to provide songs and stories. I really admire the dedication of the volunteers and know that the residents enjoy this special time. 

“Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.” Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:15 and Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is paxtonumc@yahoo.com. If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist you can send me your email address to the Paxton email address and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed!

July 1, 2016 - Smyrna Missionary Baptist Church in Huxley, Texas invites children from Pre-K through 12th grade to VBS, "Submerged - Diving Deep into God's Word." Vacation Bible School will begin Sunday, July 10th through Wednesday, July 13th, from 6:00pm until 8:30pm. We will enjoy stories from the Bible, music, snacks, games and crafts. Please join us as we "Dive" into Bible.

June 30, 2016 - First Baptist Church of Timpson is hosting Vacation Bible School - Submerged! VBS starts Sunday, July 10, 2016 and runs through Friday, July 15, 2016 from 6pm until 8pm nightly. 

Prepare to embark on an adventure like no other, scouring the mysterious fathoms of the deep sea. Thrilling discoveries await just beyond the portholes of your submarine. Things look very different once you get below the surface - and that's true for life above the surface, too.

Be Submerged - Bible study, snacks, crafts and recreation!

June 29, 2016 - Wallace Chapel Baptist Church 2016 Church Calendar. Wallace Chapel Baptist Church is lead by Pastor Derrick Rhodes and First Lady Shaneeta Rhodes. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

July 3 - Homecoming 12:00 Noon
July 5 - Annual Revival 7:30 p.m. Nightly
July 6 - Annual Revival 7:30 p.m. Nightly
July 7 - Annual Revival 7:30 p.m. Nightly
September 4 - Church Anniversary 3:00 p.m.
October 26 - Youth Revival 7:30 p.m. Nightly
October 27 - Youth Revival 7:30 p.m. Nightly
October 28 - Youth Revival 7:30 p.m. Nightly

June 28, 2016 - “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

Conceived, born and lived unto death without sin, that accurately describes the sinless Son of God.

Conceived by the Holy Spirit, He had no earthly father, and yet, He was born of the Virgin Mary. 

As the scripture for today says, He was tempted in all points or ways as we are, yet without committing any sin. He knows what it means to undergo temptation but unlike us, He overcame all temptations to remain sinless.

As a child of 12 years of age, He sat and taught the priests in the temple in Jerusalem. Yet, being sinless He then returned home to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph and lived with and was subordinate to them until He reached maturity.

Following His baptism by John the Baptist the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. There Satan came and tempted Him, trying to cast doubt on His being the Son of God, trying to get Him to prove that he indeed was the Son of God by asking Him for signs and miracles; all of which he refused to do. When he tried to get Him to turn stones into bread, Jesus used the scriptures to overcome Satan's request. "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4) Jesus was actually repeating the words of Moses in (Deut. 8:3).

At one point in His temptation Satan took Him to the pinnacle of the temple; there he told Jesus to cast Himself down to prove that no harm would come to Him. Again, Jesus refused to display His power for Satan. 

In the final test Satan took Jesus up onto a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of this world. He promised Jesus that He could have all of what He could see if He would only bow down and worship Satan. 

Jesus could have shunned the cross, but He told Satan the he would worship only God and no other. Matthew 4:10 is one of my favorite scriptures where Jesus tells Satan to get away from Him or to get behind Him.

Though He had never sinned, Jesus put Himself upon the cross and was made sin for us that we might be made righteous through Him. When the Father laid the load of all of man's sins upon Jesus, He bore them without protest as the Lamb of God.

As our scripture says, we do not have a High Priest that cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, no, we have one who has been tested in all points. He knows everything that we feel, all of our weaknesses, yet through His strength we can come boldly before the throne of God where we find grace, mercy and peace in our times of need. If we simply ask Him for forgiveness and confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, amen...  

June 27, 2016 - “Listen to me and eat what is good....”  Isaiah 55:2

After serving two years in the Army during the Korean War, I re-enrolled in East Texas Baptist University and became student Pastor of The Bonaldo Baptist Church near Nacogdoches, Texas. The church membership was made up of  a large of Hispanics who lived along the Angelina River. I drove to the church every Saturday and spent the night at a church member’s house.
The Areolas let me sleep on their best feather mattress when I stayed with them one weekend.  The mattress was home-made….was soft and comfortable….. but was too warm to sleep on  a hot August night.  The Areolas (like many families back then) had no fans or air conditioning in their homes.  So just past midnight, I walked out to the moon-lit barnyard and stayed long enough to cool off. 
The next morning Brother Vick hollered out, “Preacher, come eat breakfast…and dinner is already cooked for when we get home from church.”     When we got home from church, Mrs. Arreola set a big pot on the table. “It’s squirrel dumplings,” Vick laughed…I had to settle for an old fox squirrel…I don't know what’s happened to our little cat squirrels”. The few red hairs floating on top of the dumplings proved that Vick’s kill was indeed a fox squirrel…and the great taste proved what a truly great cook his wife was.
To the surprise of many, squirrels are still one of the most popular game animals in the eastern United States. A national survey reveals that  there are over 1.8 million hunters of squirrels in our country….and if the U.S. should  fall on hard times, there could be millions more of us in the woods hunting them again.  We might wind up with pots of squirrel dumplings on our tables again…..
….with no scruples about what kind of squirrels they were.

June 23, 2016 - First Baptist Church of Center is hosting a music camp, Not Your Average Joe: The Story of Joseph with a 50's Twist. Pre-K3 - 4th grade are welcome to attend. Music Camp will be held June 27th through July 1st from 9AM to 12PM. Musical Performance will be Friday at 6PM. Call 936-598-5605 for registration information.