February 13, 2020 - You are invited to the 20th Annual African American Heritage Celebration.

Theme: African Americans and the Vote, Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 12:30pm

This is the sole fundraiser for the L.D. Suell Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Guest Speaker: Minister Larry Ingram, New Jerusalem COGIC, Mt. Enterprise TX

Pastor Elder Cleon D. Williams, Sr. Lily of the Valley COGIC 620 Greer Street: P O Box 191 Center, TX 75935.

February 13, 2020 - According to the teachings of Jesus, every person is going through one of two gates. Either they are choosing to enter the narrow gate and the narrow way or they are choosing the broad way which leads through the broad gate.

Of course, these two ideas represent two ways of life. One represents the way of good while the other represents the way of evil. The thought taught by Jesus in Matthew 7 is that more people will follow the easy, popular way of life than the one prescribed in the scriptures.

This teaching is harmonious with another of the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 22:14. Here he says, “For many shall be called, but few chosen.” That indicates that there will be only a few people comparatively speaking, interested in the Lord’s way enough to follow it and be saved. Jesus puts it this way, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Jesus is warning folks to be careful how they live. Many people, thinking they are on the narrow path, might be surprised to find themselves on the broad way. Jesus wants everyone to be saved, but He must have their cooperation in living His kind of life, and living it his way. Are you living for Jesus, and living life His way?
It’s something to think about…..TBP

February 13, 2020 - First United Methodist Church (UMC) of Center will begin the season of Lent by offering “Drive-through Ashes and Coffee” to motorists on Wed., Feb. 26 beginning at 7am until 8am. All drivers need to do is pull up in the church parking lot and roll down their car window to receive a moment of prayer, ashes on their forehead and a cup of coffee. 

Later that day, First UMC invites everyone to their Ash Wednesday service at 6pm in the church sanctuary. During the service, everyone attending our Ash Wednesday service will have the opportunity, if they choose, to receive the application of ashes in the form of the cross on their forehead. The ashes simply remind us not only of our limited time on earth, but also of the grace of God who extends life past death by means of the cross. 

Ash Wednesday is the initiation of the season of Lent. The Lenten season is a spiritual journey spanning 40 days from Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday before Resurrection Sunday, Easter. During Lent, we are called to a season of self-reflection, some form of spiritual commitment and special attention to scripture and repentance. For many, it is also a season in which we adopt various acts of kindness and compassion.  

For more information about First UMC and the season of Lent, please contact Rev. Karen Jones at (936) 598-2707.

February 11, 2020 - The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the churches in Galatia concerning what appeared to be a turning away from the gospel of Christ which Paul had preached to them shortly beforehand.

Paul, in his usual blunt, upfront fashion gets right to the point of their being drawn away as he says,

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: "If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:6-9)

Paul then reassures the churches of Galatia of the authenticity of the gospel message that he and his followers had preached to them before as he says,

"For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it, through the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12)

Again he verifies the truth that all who believe are justified, made clean of sin, by their faith in Christ Jesus. As the words he speaks to the Jews around him are also meant for us of today, for faith is for all who will come to the Lord seeking for redemption.

"We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not  justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, as we have also believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." (Galatians 2:15-21)

"Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for the righteous shall live by faith." (Galatians 3:11)

"Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." (Galatians 3:22)

And only to those who believe in Christ Jesus as Lord for it is as Jesus himself said, 

"I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Will you come through him today, will you accept him as your Lord and Master, forever? It is time to choose, please, choose life in Christ, reject death in the world...

February 10, 2020 (Registration Form– Save the date and join us for an evening of family fun, food, fellowship and a friendly time of cooking competition! Center First United Methodist Church (UMC) Missions Committee will host their second annual Soup, Chili and Gumbo Cook-off competition on Sunday, February 23, 2020 beginning at 4:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. at the church Fellowship Hall located at 211 Porter Street.

The cooking competition is open to all ages, all local organizations and amateur cooks only. A non-refundable entry fee of $10.00 secures table space. Advance registration is required by Wednesday, February 19, 2020. Teams will be allowed to begin space set-up at 3:00 p.m. Food and space judging begins at 4:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Teams will have the opportunity to compete in one of the food categories as well as the Best Decorated Table Space category by decorating their table with a theme of the team’s choice.

Cook-off event ticket donations are $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for youth ages 4 to12 and children age 3 and under are free; event tickets will be available at the door. The event begins at 4:00 p.m. for competition food sampling, which includes soup, chili and gumbo samples, crackers, and drinks. Adult ticket holders will receive 5 tickets to vote for their favorite Soup, Chili or Gumbo and youth ages 4-12 will receive 3 voting tickets. Additional voting tickets will be available at the event for $1.00 each. First Place People’s Choice awards will be presented in each Soup, Chili and Gumbo category and for the Best Decorated Table Space. Winners will be announced at 6:00 p.m.

In addition to this year’s event, a silent auction will be held during the cook-off competition. All proceeds from the cook-off fundraiser will benefit Center First United Methodist Church Missions. 

For complete event rules and team entry registration, please visit the First UMC website at http://fumccentertx.org. For additional information, please contact Becky Parfait, Center First UMC Missions Soup, Chili and Gumbo Cook-off Coordinator at (936) 332-3456, beckyparfait@yahoo.com or Pastor Karen Jones at (936) 598-2707.

February 10, 2020 - The Pastor and members of Carroll Chapel CME Church in Shelbyville, would like to invite the community to its Annual Black History Program on Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 3pm.

The guest speakers will be Annie Bell of Beaumont, TX; Rod Gardner of Center, TX; and Minister Jerry Latham of Center, TX. Everyone is invited.

February 10, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. Sunday was the fifth Sunday after the Epiphany and the second Sunday in February. My computer has been in the shop this past week getting updates and fine tuning. I feel powerless, even though I don’t use my computer except for word processing and the internet. I have most of my church stuff stored on an external drive, so I’m able to plug it in to my wife’s computer. But that is like driving a borrowed car—it just doesn’t feel right. I am not sure I will get out my weekly article or my weekly email to church folks, but I am trying. It is Saturday morning and I am still working on my sermon. I am not one to wait until the last minute to get things done. That last-minute flurry seems to work for some people, but it drives me crazy—and I already feel a little crazy.

Sometimes the season following the Epiphany is long, and sometimes it is short. The length of this time depends on where Easter falls on the calendar. Counting back from Easter decides when to have Transfiguration Sunday, Ash Wednesday, and Lent. This year Easter is April 12, so Ash Wednesday is February 26, followed by the forty days of Lent. The events during this time become the foundational narrative for the Christian faith. 

We met for Sunday School and Church Services at Ms. Fannie’s house since the propane in the church’s tank was running low. We were in double digits and sure appreciate Fannie opening up her house for our worship. Our Sunday School lesson was titled “Holy Presence,” with the scripture from Exodus 40: 16-38. The lesson reminds us that even though we know that God is always with us, it is still important to have special places and special days to remind us of God’s loving spirit. The author calls those special days “set-apart days.” 

The Gospel lesson for the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany carries on right where last week’s Gospel ends. It is a continuation of Jesus’ manifesto—The Sermon on the Mount. After explaining who was blessed in God’s Kingdom, Jesus tells his audience that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. I imagine that sounded a little strange to those peasants in the Galilee; in the world of Roman domination and even their own Temple authorities, they certainly were not seen as blessed, but as people to be abused and run over. That is still true today as the poor are ignored, vilified, and pushed down even further. 

Last week was the first Monday of February, which is the time for our program at Focused Care Nursing Home. Hilda was in fine form on the piano, adding all kinds of flourishes! I emceed, including sharing a little of last Sunday’s sermon on my favorite Bible verse: Micah 6:8. Fannie read a favorite patriotic poem entitled “God Bless America.” Sue talked about the excitement of seeing Rocky (before there was a Rocky II, III, and so on down the line). She also read The Bus Driver from the Black Lagoon, a children’s picture book. Jo brought a poem she likes, “The Voice of Gold,” since her sister Nora couldn’t attend. Pastor Sarah found an interesting way to tie Great Danes and Dalmations to God: Even though we don’t see God, we know he’s there—just like she knew those dogs existed although she hadn’t actually seen one. And mostly, we had a good time singing old standards with the lively group at Focused Care.

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, and Open Minds.” Sunday School starts at 9:30 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.

February 7, 2020 - St. John Missionary Baptist Church of Center with Rev. Winston Kibbles, Pastor, are celebrating African American Heritage with a Black History Program on Sunday, February 16th at 2:30pm. The program is honoring "Basketball Legends" Aretha Swindell as the keynote speaker and Joe Sigler as special guest. For more information, contact Sis. Jacklyn Cartwright at 936-332-8804.

February 6, 2020 - Many ask, "But how do I ask the Lord for salvation, how can I be saved"? This prayer of king David for his own salvation is a great example of how one can should ask for the salvation of the Lord upon oneself.

"To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Oh my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous."

"Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long."

"Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!" (Psalm 25:1-7)

As Jesus died on the cross for the sin of all mankind, once for all, he stands ready to save all mankind. 

All who confess that he is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, will be saved.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

Many will say, " Oh, it can't be that easy to be saved!" Oh, but yes it is, it is not hard one must first humble oneself, accept that Jesus is Lord of all and ask him, "Jesus, save me!", this he will do.

The hard part is living the life of the saved, separating oneself from the passions and temptations of the devil and his world snd those who scoff at all who would follow the Lord.

"Condemnation is ready for scoffers, and beating for the backs of fools." (Proverbs 19:29)

"Fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm." (Proverbs 19:23)

Oh yes, the saved will have trials and tribulations while on earth, but, for all who persevere the prize waits in heaven, eternal life with Christ Jesus, forever at home with the Lord!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." (Proverbs 3:5-7)

"Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies." (Psalm 25:8-10)

Yes, he leads all who ask of him and teaches them his ways, for those who persevere through the trials and tribulations of the world are all pardoned of all sin, forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

"For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great." (Psalm 25:11)

Call upon him today and he will answer you and you will know forever the joy and peace that comes in the Lord, you will then be more than his follower, you will be his friend, forever.

"The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant." (Psalm 25:14)

Jesus says to all people for he shows no partiality, he loves without conditions all who accept him as Lord.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)

Will you answer that knock at your heart strings today, will you accept Jesus as your Lord and let him in to your heart that you will know him as your friend, forever? Answer the call today...

February 6, 2020 - I read a quote not long ago that said, “If a congregation wants a better preacher, it can get one by praying for the one it has.” I thought to myself, how true that is not just for preachers, but for everyone. Often we complain about our families, friends, coworkers and neighbors, but of course nothing comes of that but more discontent. We try to change others and invariably fail. We must stop trying to change others by our power and allow the power of prayer to make the difference.

If there are problems of any kind between you and someone else, there is nothing that will work as well as your sincere and heartfelt prayers to the Father in Heaven. Did not James say, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”?

Do you think the situation is hopeless, the relationship doomed? Pray anyway. Do you think the person you are having trouble with is so stubborn, blind, unreasonable or prideful that it’s no use to pray because you feel that not even the Lord can do anything with them? Pray anyway. Give the Lord a chance to show you His power to change people.

We are always going to have problems of some kind with something or somebody in our lives. With the help of God, those problems do not need to overwhelm us nor crush us beneath their burden. Try prayer. Prayer changes things!

It’s something to think about… tbp

Join us for worship this coming Lord’s day at the Center Church of Christ, 110 Hurst Street, Center, Texas or online at www.centerchurchofchrist.com.