July 8, 2019 - In 1984, I moved to the Vinton Big Woods Magnolia Baptist and became their Pastor. I moved into the parsonage… on a remote dirt road in an almost untraveled part of Southwest Louisiana. I was overjoyed to live in this quiet community of people. 

I loved all my surroundings. I was only a mile from beautiful Bearhead Creek—and only 25 miles from Holly Beach, Louisiana on the Gulf. But there was something else that became one of most treasured surroundings: a backyard Black Gum tree. This is one of America’s most beautiful native trees, and it is one of our best shade trees. The one I saw that October day was in striking fall color. Summer leaves are a dark green with a high-gloss appearance, but the most spectacular part of this tree is the fall foliage with its many shades of yellow, orange, bright red, purple and scarlet. When I saw my tree, I picked up a beautiful fallen leaf, photographed it, and saved it in my computer.

Our church grew, and we saved $20,000 toward building an Education Building. My friend Bobby Spross, agreed to bring his team of builders and construct our building--- labor free. So our Building Committee met to make plans. When Lawrence Mitchell said we’d build the wing on the south side, I immediately told him we couldn’t. His quick reply was, “And why can’t we?” “Our black gum is in the way,” I replied. “Then we’ll cut it down,” he barked. The argument took off and we finally decided to wing off to the north side. It took a while for Lawrence to accept our plan, but we soon had the building done. 

Last year I went back to Magnolia Baptist to deliver the Homecoming sermon. The old parsonage had been moved, but when I walked to the back… there it was... our beautiful Black Gum tree… still standing tall…

… and more beautiful than ever.

 

July 8, 2019 - There is an often asked question, “Oh where will I be when Christ returns to this earth, when he comes again.”

To be with him throughout eternity we must first be ready for his return, eagerly awaiting his coming and the rewards of being faithful to him throughout our lives on earth, we must first put on the new self, the Christian heart and live for Christ as he died for us.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1) 

On the day of Pentecost, that glorious day when the Holy Spirit came to guide the faithful. Peter preached to the masses saying, “This Jesus God raised, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you are seeing and hearing.” (Acts 2:32-33) 

Peter made this statement of Jesus’ deity from his own personal witness of the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. An eye witness to it all.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4)

To first put on this new self, to be faithful to Christ as we still must live on earth in the midst of its corruption and sin we must follow the scriptures as they tell us, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) 

And then Paul gives us the true magnitude of Gods hate of all sin as he tells us why the wrath of God is coming on the earth.

On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:6) 

WOW!!! Don’t tell me that God is so sweet, so loving that he doesn’t really hold our sins in account, for he does. For as he is loving he is also just and true to himself.

In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put on the new self, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:7-10)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called, in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) 

Have you put on your new self? Do you wait patiently for the coming of the Lord? Will you run to meet him when he arrives? Only you can answer these questions, but to know that you are ready for his coming they must answered and done.

May his blessings be yours this day and forever.

July 5, 2019 - There are very few who are unaware that Pentecost was the birthday of the New Testament Church. However, there never would have been Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit like the Apostles had if the upper room had been like the habits of so many in our day and time. If the attitude of the upper room had been like today, then the New Testament record might have read like this:

“The meeting was called for the first day of the week; but so many things interfered that of the company of 120 only 40 were able to be in attendance. Peter and his wife had bought a cottage on Lake Galilee and were away from the hot city over the weekend. Bartholomew had guests and of course could not come. Philip and his family had been up late the night before and overslept. Andrew had a business conference about a new fishing boat. James had to stay home and cut the grass.”

All of that raises a question does it not? If the church would never have been born under those circumstances, then how can it possibly survive, much less grow under those circumstances?

That’s why people need to be part of the local church and involved in the work of the local church. Until members of the body of Christ contribute a sense of vitality to the Lord’s church, the world will continue to heckle our “faith” as a popular indoor sport. 

So, how much responsibility do you feel toward the local church?

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

July 3, 2019 - Pastor and Wife Anniversary Service honoring Pastor Byron Coutee, Jr. and Sis. Larissa Coutee will be held Sunday, July 14, 2019 at 3:00pm at the Blount Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. Guest speaker is Pastor Derrick White of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Lufkin, Texas. Join us as we celebrate the servants planted at Blount Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. Dinner will be served.

July 3, 2019 - Patroon Baptist Church Yard Sale July 12-13 pulled pork sandwich, chips and water for $7 during the sale!

Indoor yard sale, proceeds for our youth.

July 2, 2019 - Come enjoy sitting on "The Porch" at Smyrna Baptist Church in Huxley, Monday, July 8, 2019. Guest Speaker is Blake Lewis, Middle School Minister, at 1st Baptist Church in Haughton, LA. He has a passion to share Jesus with everyone, especially students and young adults. Please bring kids from 8 to 80. Refreshments served at 6:30pm and worship begins at 7pm. Awesome Music Leaders are Paul, Brittany, Bryan and Abigail. Everyone is invited to 'Come and Receive' a blessing! Bring someone! Jesus loves you!

July 2, 2019 - Bennett Chapel Missionary Baptist Church of Shelbyville, TX 133rd Church Anniversary July 14, 2019 at 2:30pm

Guest: Dr. Freddie Wilson and the St. Paul Baptist Church of Center, TX

July 2, 2019 - We the Pastor and Members of Carroll Chapel CME Church in Shelbyville would like to invite you to our Annual Building Fund program Sunday, July 7 at 3pm. 

Our Guest Speaker will be: Rev. Archie Tinsley of The Calvery Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, TX.

Everyone is invited.

July 1, 2019 - Starts Monday, July 15 through 19 at Mount Calvary Full Gospel Church two miles from Shelbyville, Texas on Hwy 417 East Starts at 7pm. Guest Speaker - Brother Lamar Denby.

Guest Singers The Stanleys' will be there Friday night.

July 1, 2019 - “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…” Proverbs 18:24  

I met the late Fred Smith when I was a student at ETBU in Marshall, Texas. He was one of our best (and biggest) basketball players and his size earned him the name “Big Fred”. Our paths crossed again when I met him in his pickup on the hill at Geneva, Texas back in the 70s. “Hey, Fincher”, he hollered. “Hey, Fred,"…"Whatcha doing nowadays?”....  “Fox huntin’,” he laughed.

Fred and I often bragged about how poor we grew up and often sat on his “gallery” (a.k.a. “porch”) and compared our stories of poverty.

“Fred, were y'all rich enough to take ‘lightening bread’ in your school lunch?” “Not very often...but when we did, we didn’t hold it down low. We held it up high where everybody could see it!” “My school lunch was usually a hammer and two “hiccer nuts,” he laughed. “Hey, Fincher…. if you want to hunt doves in the back pasture, you’re as welcome as the flowers in May.”

When I asked Fred what he played in High School football, he laughed, “Mainly the bench. My coach never learned my name. He just called me ‘Boy’.” 

“When we played Center one year, they almost killed us. Finally the coach told me to go in. The next thing I remember I was being hauled off the field in a wheel barrow and they parked me on the sideline in a bunch of goat weeds”.

It’s no wonder I so enjoyed visiting Fred “on his gallery.” He was a fun man to be around and never failed to lift my spirits with his wit and sense of humor.

When he crossed the Jordan years ago, he left me (and his world of friends) many wonderful memories. And he was what many men never are.
He was a good man.

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