December 14, 2015 - Sunday was the 3rd Sunday in Advent. All four lessons today speak of hope. Often as in our Old Testament reading from Zephaniah, this hope is built on pain. Zephaniah is very critical of those in power in ancient Israel and Judah . But as you move into the 3rd and last chapter, Zephaniah says to “Sing!” What is there to sing about? God is present and living with his people. He will not forget them. In our Epistle Lesson from Philippians, Paul is telling the people that they should celebrate God all day—every day. Instead of worrying, replace those worrying words with prayers. When we look at Paul’s life, we see that whether he is among friends or in prison, he is living in the Kingdom of God . The great theologian, Frederick Buechner, says that the Kingdom is not so much a place as it a condition—a condition of the heart and soul.

What a blustery, raining Sunday. Our crowd was slim this morning, but despite the weather outside we inside enjoyed our time together. It always amazes me that no matter where in the Bible our Sunday School lesson comes from, it ties to many ideas in the scriptures and sermon. Fannie did a great job with what is a difficult passage for us modern people to understand. Our main scripture came from Leviticus and dealt with what is a proper sacrifice.

Last week Ms. Hilda and Pastor Matt Cecil and others brought song and fellowship at Green Acres. Later in the week Hilda, Ollie, and I visited with the folks at Lakeside Assisted Living. We sang songs and told some stories and had a nice visit. This Tuesday we are heading to Holiday Nursing Center.

Our Christmas Program was really fun. We had a nice crowd, and we sang many of our favorite Christmas hymns and carols. It really is a community celebration, and it is always great to be with each other during this special time of year. The food was really good too!

During the month of December we are collecting cans and boxes of soup for Christian Services. On Monday, December 14th at 9:00 AM, volunteers will meet at Joaquin Methodist Fellowship Hall to begin sorting and putting into family boxes cans and nonperishable goods. On Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday, volunteers will wrap gifts for the children. Then on Friday, December 18th starting at 9:00, perishable goods will be sorted and family-sized boxes, bags, and gifts will be given out. Come help if you’re able—all are welcome, and everyone will receive a blessing.

“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!

December 7, 2015 - Sunday was the 2nd Sunday in Advent. The Old Testament Lesson was from Malachi. In the third chapter God says, “Look! I am sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me.” The name Malachi means messenger. If we look at the Hebrew Scriptures and assign a theme, it would be “covenant making and covenant breaking.” For the Jewish people there is hope in Malachi’s words even though they were often about covenant breaking. We of the Christian faith read those words and think of John the Baptizer and Jesus. In the translation of the Bible called The Message, our Gospel Lesson has John the Baptizer say, “Everyone will be there to see the parade of God’s salvation and transformation.”

We celebrated Holy Communion on Sunday. In our church’s tradition all who love God and seek to live in peace with one another are welcome to the table. Our attendance was in double digits, which always brings smiles to our faces. Joe and Hilda worked together to bring our music this morning, and we sounded quite lively. Ms. Fannie had a really good Sunday School lesson. This quarter begins in Exodus; today’s lesson was about the Sabbath and keeping it holy.

Our Paxton Community Christmas program and dinner is this Tuesday at 6:00. When I came Saturday to collect the rice and beans that our church collected for Christian Services, the tree was up and decorated and tables covered in tablecloths.

Sue and I have been in Dallas . Our daughter bought a new house that needs renovation, like what you see on HGTV. It rained as we went to Dallas , but the last few days have been beautiful. We have my daughter’s dog staying with us; like our hound dog, she loves going to the park. She is so full of energy that our older dog and cat don’t know what to make of her. We call her the Wild Child.

Monday, December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day, which many remember or have been told about. Monday at 3:30 volunteers will be at Green Acres to sing Christmas carols. This Thursday at 2:00 PM volunteers will meet at Lakeside Assisted Living for song and fellowship. I imagine we will sing many Christmas carols there also. On Tuesday December 15th at 2:00 we will meet at Holiday Nursing Center for a similar program. We really appreciate all who help with these ministries.

During the month of December we are collecting cans and boxes of soup for Christian Services. On Monday, December 14th at 9:00 AM, volunteers will meet at Joaquin Methodist Fellowship Hall to begin sorting and putting into family boxes cans and nonperishable goods. On Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday, volunteers will wrap gifts for the children. Then on Friday, December 18th starting at 9:00, perishable goods will be sorted and family-sized boxes, bags, and gifts will be given out. Come help if you’re able—all are welcome, and everyone will receive a blessing.

“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!

December 10, 2015 - This singing group, Paul’s Journey, often described as “Entertaining, uplifting, and ministry-minded” will present a free concert at Toledo Bend Baptist Church in Huxley on Friday, December18th, at 7:00 PM.

Paul’s Journey, a Chapel Valley Music Recording Artist on the "Inspire" label, is an award-winning group based in Houston, TX. The ministry of Paul’s Journey is in its 38th year now, and they have garnered many Top 40 Radio hits and earned many awards down through the years such as the 2007 “SGM FanFair Group of the Year”.

In 2012 Paul's Journey was nominated for "Horizon Group Of The Year" and in 2013, 2014 and 2015 the group was chosen by Southern Gospel Music fans as one of the “Top 5 New Traditional Quartets” in the country. Throughout time, this powerhouse group has quickly become known for their unique style and blend. The group travels some 200 dates per year all across the USA and abroad.

December 7, 2015 - The Music Ministry of First Baptist Church of Center, Texas presents it's 2015 Christmas gift to you! On Saturday, December 12th and Sunday December 13th at 6:00pm each evening, we will be showing Isaiah Jones and the Seekers of the Lost Christmas Treasure and the Living Word. The Living word will feature First Baptist Church's 12' X 18' Living Bible and will be presented by the Sanctuary Choir!

Doug Fincher“Love one another with brotherly affection….” Romans 12:10

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” (C. S. Lewis)

December 2, 2015 -  I started to school in September of 1939. Twenty five little 6-year -olds met together and were enrolled in Mrs. Stanley’s First Grade Class. Many of us were “barefooted as yard dogs” but back then going barefoot was only a problem if you were used to wearing shoes. That First Grade Class became an extension to my family for the next twelve years.

I always looked forward to my day to dust the erasers, or lower the shades before the bell rang to go home. While Mary Eldred Jones, Steve Oates and I were at the board one day, I proudly wrote out the word, “VACATION” in large letters. Mrs. Stanley burst out, “Class, look at what Henry wrote!” “He can spell “vacation!” I got excited too…so much so that I wet my pants. As the whole class stared in amazement, Mrs. Stanley quietly said, “Henry, always raise your hand when you need to go to the basement.”

In 1949, I was sitting in Mrs. Stanton Menefee’s 11th grade History Class when Mary Eldred Jones whispered to me, “Henry, do you remember wetting your britches in the First Grade?” Totally surprised and embarrassed, I laughed…. “Yes…. but I spelled ‘VACATION’ too, didn’t I!”

That 1950 Graduation Class turned out to be one of Center High’s most diversified classes. Included in the graduates were M.D.’s, Educators, Engineers, Lawyers, Contractors, a Game Warden, an Opera singer, two pro football players, a NFL Referee, and a Baptist preacher.

A lot of water has run under the bridge since those days and most of our class has crossed the Jordan since our 50th Reunion. Now we have our best reunion of all to look forward to.

It’s the one that has no end.

December 3, 2015 - "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the world's; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down by The right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Unlike many other books of the Bible, Hebrews has no introductory remarks or salutations to a church or individual. The writer was never revealed but the author is the Holy Spirit, as it is with all books of God's Word.

He tells us that God spoke all throughout the ages in many forms through the prophets to the fathers of men. Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

While the Bible was written over a span of 16 centuries by men of many walks of life, it carries a cohesiveness and a unity which allow for only one author, the Holy Spirit of God. All scripture communicates God's will, His commands, to humanity.

The writer of Hebrews affirms that the highest of all revelations is that of Christ. Verse 3; "Who being the brightness of His glory". Ambassadors can carry the message but no ambassador speaks with the same authority as the Cornerstone or Head of the church.

All that was spoken by the prophets before did testify about Christ. As the head of the church, the words of Christ are more important than those spoken about Him. Christ gave us, His followers, the words which the Father gave to Him. He is the living Word, so what He speaks are words of life to all who believe.

Christ is the eternal Son of God and God has appointed Him the heir of all things. By His power the world's were created. He is God manifested in the flesh, the Apostles beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth.

The writer of Hebrews reveals that God speaks through the Son in these last days (verse 2). We must say that all scripture is given by inspiration of God and that all of it is profitable when rightly divided. Paul tells us in (II Timothy 3:16) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."

Saying we should use the Word of God to determine; what we believe, to contend for the faith in Christ, to correct wrongs by us and others, and to instruct or teach others in God's Word so they will not be deceived by the devil.

The Word of God is eternal; It shall never pass away, these are the words spoken by Jesus through Matthew. (Matthew 24:35) "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away."

Christ came to purge our sins and in doing so reconciled the world to Him. Christ came to give Hs life as a ransom for the sins of all people for all times. He tasted death for each and every one of us.

His blood cleanses from all sins, but one must exercise faith in that atoning blood in order to be saved.

Christ arose a victor over death, He defeated Satan, death and the grave and He now lives forevermore and is seated at the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for all who have come to the Father through Him.

Praise the Lord Jesus, praise Him, praise Him...

Please join us every Wednesday evening at 6:00PM for the study of God's Word at Spring Hill Baptist Church. Call 936-615-1427 for more information or directions to the church.

Submitted by Mike Mills, Spring Hill Church

December 3, 2015 - St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church of Center will be sponsoring a garage sale this Saturday, December 5th at 7:30am at the residence of Kenneth & Tomeka Moody. It is located 7 miles down Hwy 87N (like headed to Timpson-- across the street from the blue shavings/saw mill facility-- we will be on the right side of hwy). Signs will be posted. We are asking all to come out, purchase items, & support our youth department! Thanks in advance!!

Shelbyville, Short United Methodist Churches

December 2, 2015 - We are excited about our Advent worship series this year. Advent is a time we take, these 27 days before Christmas to prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of the Christ child into the world. This is also a time we remember to anticipate Christ's return.

Shelbyville and Short United Methodist Churches invite you to join us for this worship series as we prepare our lives for the true meaning of Christmas. Visit our worship website (www.ShelbyvilleUMCWorship.weebly.com) for past sermons, live stream each Sunday at 11:00am, and daily devotionals. Be sure to follow our Facebook page (Shelbyville United Methodist Church).

Sunday Worship:
9:00am - Short United Methodist Church
11:00am - Shelbyville United Methodist Church (also live streamed: www.ShelbyvilleUMCWorship.weebly.com

The Christmas season is a busy time. We can get so involved and busy with the "big event" on Christmas Day that we do not take the time to fully prepare our hearts to the coming and return of Jesus Christ.

​"The Way: Preparing Our Hearts and Lives for Christ"
Nov 29: "Are You Ready" (Luke 21:25-36)
Dec 6: "Open Heart for God's Word" (Luke 3:1-6)
Dec 13: "Responding" (Luke 3:7-18) - at Short UMC
Dec 13: Choir Christmas Cantata at Shelbyville UMC (Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18)
Dec 20: "Salvation" (Luke 1:47-55)
Dec 24: "Light In The Night" (Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20)

Christmas Eve candlelight worship is Thursday, December 24 at 6:00pm at Shelbyville United Methodist Church.

In Christ,
Pastor Ryan Stratton

December 1, 2015 - The Mass Choir rehearsal for the upcoming Winter Musical will be held Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at the Tenaha High School Cafeteria. All choir member please be there at 6:30pm. Thank you and God bless.

December 1, 2015 - The Center Frist United Methodist Church will host Sacred Sounds of the Season Thursday, December 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary. musicians, singers, and liturgical dancers from community churches will share their talents in honor of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone is invited to attend this special program that is sure to get you in the holiday spirit of this holy season. The Center First United Methodist church is located at 211 Porter Street in Center.

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