January 13, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. It seems like a year since I wrote my weekly article from Paxton United Methodist Church. I have spent the past two weeks either sick or getting over being sick. For two out of the last three years, I came down with the flu. This seems very unfair to me since I always get my flu shot. Finally feeling a bit better from the effects of the flu, I developed a sinus infection that kept me feeling bad. So I didn’t write an article last week and will try to get caught up.

Our group visited Lakeside Assisted Living on New Year’s Eve and Focused Care last week (more on those below). During the month of January the folks at Paxton Methodist will be collecting cans of tuna for Community Christian Services. I still have December’s cans of soup in my truck that I will try to get delivered this week. I have four doctors’ appointments this week, so I am starting off the New Year taking care of things I need to do—and like my sister-in-law says, “these are the going-to-the-doctor years.”

We had a really good Sunday School lesson that focused on the friendship between Ruth and Naomi, one of the great love stories in the Bible. Ruth and Naomi forged a covenant between each other, not just out of necessity but out of a deep sense of caring. It was great to have our entire Sunday School back this week. Gene and Joy had company last weekend, and I missed because of illness. 

The big football game today is between Larry’s Chiefs and Gene’s Texans. I hope it is a good game that both enjoy watching even though there will be only one winner. Joy and Gene are heading to Tyler later, as Joy will have a procedure to get more blood flowing to her feet. Fannie asked that Joe Knight’s name be added to the prayer list. Theresa is up and about, and her knee seems to be getting better (although not broken doesn’t necessarily mean not hurting).

The twelve days of Christmas have ended, and the Season of the Epiphany has begun. Traditionally Christians celebrate the three magi coming to Bethlehem as the beginning of this special season. This past Sunday we also celebrated an epiphany in the baptism of Jesus. When we say we have had an epiphany, we think of God’s in-breaking into our living. The baptism of Jesus is a retelling of the Christmas story and is a reminder that God is always ready to enter into our lives—to pitch his tent among us. 

I missed the last two nursing home programs because of illness, hoping not to spread it around. At Lakeside on New Year’s Eve, Sue did the emcee job, including sharing some of my previous Sunday’s sermon. Minnie played piano, and swelling the singing ranks were Jo, Hilda, Gene, Maggie, Margie, Peaches, and Stellar. Fannie also talked about the twelve days of Christmas, tying it to some old family photos she’d shown to Christmas visitors, and read a poem about brightening the corner where you are. Nora introduced and sang a lesser-known carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Sue told the story of how “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” became such a beloved song, thanks to Montgomery Ward and Gene Autry, and the group followed by singing it.

At Focused Care on January 6, Pastor Sarah tried out the emcee post with great success. She began with personal New Year’s resolutions with matching Scripture from her new “super giant print” Bible! This time Hilda was the accompanist, and Margie and Jo were again on hand to lend their voices to the congregational singing. Sue read from a new kids’ poetry book: “My Secret Karate” and “Purple Pox.” Fannie spoke of beginning the new year with a good attitude, reading the poem she had at Lakeside. Nora shared a picture book from the Little House on the Prairie tales, Dance at Grandpa’s, and also sang “How Great Our God Is.” Between group songs and individual presentations, Sarah used anecdotes to enhance the meaning; her benediction closed the program.

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.

Are you ready for the coming of the Lord?

January 13, 2020 - If he comes this morning will you welcome him or will you try to hide from him knowing that you are not prepared to stand before him in judgement?

Those are hard questions that each must ask of himself for the day is coming when the Lord will come and call his own to him, will you be in that group, or, will you be left in the much larger group to face the Great Tribulation?

“Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.” (Psalm 6:4)

Make that plea this day that the Lord will lift you up in glory; “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:27)

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:36-39)

Eating and drinking and marrying as if nothing were about to happen, that is the way it is going to happen on the great day of the coming of the Lord. Will you be ready?

“Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:40-42)

There will be panic and confusion like the world has never seen when the great day of the coming of the Lord happens. To be left and find that many of one’s friends and relatives have simply disappeared will be the most dramatic happening those who are left will have ever seen.

There will be airplanes where the saved have been lifted from their seats, some even the pilots, those who do not know the Lord left to crash on their own. The same for people riding in cars and trucks and trains; the saved lifted and the remaining left to crash on their own.

Confusion and panic like the world has never seen.

And in the midst of all of that confusion; one will rise claiming to be the savior, the one who can save all. And men will gravitate to him and celebrate him even calling him lord, not knowing that he is indeed the antichrist, the deliverer of their most gruesome suffering and pain to come.

Are you ready for the coming of the Son of Man today? If he is to come today will you be lifted to him in the clouds and transported to heaven? Or, will you be left to crash of your own accord?

This decision is yours today. You can choose to remain in the lost state that we are all born in, or, you can choose to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master, choose to turn from your wicked ways, to repent of your sins and be accepted into the family of our Lord.

That day is coming, no one knows the day or the hour, but it is coming, will you be ready?

“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)

Jesus is knocking on your heart’s door this morning, will you open that door and let him in?

"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)

I pray that you do before it is too late. May his holy blessings be upon you this day and forever...

January 13, 2020 - The Pastor and Members of Carroll Chapel C.M.E. Church in Shelbyville would like to invite you to our Annual Men and Women Day Program on Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 3pm.

The guest speaker will be Elder Archie Thompson of The Church and Kingdom of God in Christ, of the Todd Spring Community in Shelbyville, TX.

Everyone is invited.

January 7, 2020 - The gospel is said to be foolishness to those who do not believe; but the power of God to all who do believe and accept Jesus Christ as Lord.

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)

For to those fortunate ones who know the way, and the truth, and the life, which is Jesus Christ, the future is clear and bright as we wait patiently for the day when we will be forever joined with our Lord.

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

It is only through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, his precious blood shed out on the cross of Calvary, his life given as payment for all sin, that we who believe and are saved receive redemption from our sinful lives and become one with Christ Jesus.

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 1:6)

"Therefore, since we have been justified (made clean) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)

"For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:5-11)

"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace." (Romans 6:14)

True believers are no longer slaves to sin, but dead to sin and now slaves to righteousness. No longer wishing to live in the sinful world but to live in Christ, in his righteousness, in his truth and his joy.

"Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Romans 6:16)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets (The Old Testament) bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation (a gaining of God's favor) by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:21-26)

For anyone who will accept the free gift of salvation delivered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, through the grace of God. 

Will you humble yourself and receive this free gift of eternal life with Christ today, for the day presses ever closer when the time for repentance will have passed and all that will be left is eternal pain and suffering for all who choose to deny the Christ as Lord.

Accept his free gift today and know forever the joy and peace that is to come...

January 6, 2020 - In the 70’s Lumberton, Texas  was the fastest growing town in the State. Along with other businesses, they built three new churches, two funeral homes and I built my “Doug’s Gun Clinic” on Highway 96. Later, the City of Lumberton made plans to build a water tower two blocks from my shop and employed an Arkansas Construction Company to build it.  
   
A few weeks after construction began, my shop door exploded open one morning and a scared, bloody, black Security Guard threw his arms around me saying, “Please, Sir---Please Sir---Will you save me? They’re trying to kill me!” His blood-covered face and clothes confirmed his story. I had heard that the Local Union had shut the Tower work down and that Lumberton had hired a Security guard to watch the Tower site.
    
As the young man sat down, a vehicle wheeled up in front of the shop. I grabbed my Colt Python .357 Magnum from under the counter and opened the door. One of the two men in a pickup shouted out, “Did you see a N----- running down this way?”  Pointing my Python toward the driver, I replied, “Do you want to die?!” The men hurriedly spun from the driveway and raced back towards Beaumont.

Since a State Trooper office was nearby, I told the young man I was leaving to get him. “When I leave, lock the door and don’t open it for anyone except me”, I said. The Trooper was writing out a report as I entered his office. When I told him what happened, he hardly looked up and mumbled, “I’ll be there later.” And when he finally got there, he looked over at the trembling boy sitting in the chair… humility written all over his blood-covered face …and gruffly barked, “Come on!” ---as if the black boy was the criminal. When they walked out the door, I was left with a sense---not of relief---but of sadness.
   
Occasionally Pam and I drive through Lumberton on our way to photograph birds around High Island. And there it is: My old Gun Shop…the Water Tower…and all the memories I had there….almost 45 years ago. I never even learned that young man’s name…and I often wonder what ever happened to him.

My son Mark recently asked me, “Dad, do you know what you would have done if those men had tried to take him?” “Yes, I know…and those men knew, too”, I replied. “And if it happened…I‘d do it again.”

January 6, 2020 - Let all people look each day to the Lord for strength and help in times of trouble.

Let all people give praise and glory to the Lord God for our health and salvation for only he is worthy.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)

I need no other help nor support but that freely given me by my Lord God of heaven and earth.

"One thing that I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple." (Psalm 27:4)

As Jesus said to the apostles just before he was crucified.

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (John 14:1-3)

The blessed hope of all who do follow our Lord Jesus Christ for we know that his word is true and will not change and that when the time is right that he will indeed return for his own and from that day forth we will not be apart from our Lord.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

By his death and resurrection and ascension back to the Father God in heaven we know without doubt that for all who come to him in repentance of our sins, who accept him as Lord, we know that we are saved from the penalty of our sins and that we will live forever with him.

"Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, " Your face, Lord do I seek."
(Psalm 27:7-8)

Let us not look to the world for our help but look only to the Lord God from whence all power in heaven and on earth comes.

The power of the world is a false power meant only to deceive and corrupt that all who follow this false power of the devil shall perish with him in the fires of hell forever in torment and anguish throughout all eternity of which there is no end.

"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27;13-14)

Join with me today, accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Master and know the joy and peace that only comes in knowing that your eternal life is insured by the shed blood of Jesus.

Knowing that once the Lord returns for us and takes us home to be with him that we will be forever with the Lord in the house of God.

Eternity, forever, spent in harmony and bliss with the Father and the Son, no worries, no pain, no tears, only peace and joy in the arms of our Lord.

Jesus is saying to you this very day; "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me." (John 14:1)

Blessed be his holy name!!!

December 31, 2019 - Jesus Christ did not form a religion as such. He formed a "New Way" of living, of thinking, of doing to others in life. As Jesus declared himself, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

We see from the pages of the Bible that Jesus treated all people with the same respect and compassion without regard for status, race, creed or color for Jesus looked at the hearts of men and not at their faces. 

Even to the point of forgiving those who nailed him to the cross as they carried out the gruesome task they had been given.

As a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, it is one's duty to exhibit the same traits of compassion and understanding toward others as did Jesus, as known by his works described in the Bible.

It is not the duty of a Christian to follow any particular religious form nor domination of religious group or sect nor to control others.

It is sometimes promoted by secular people that Christians are part of, or adhere to, principals of; Theocracies or Totalitarianism or Authoritarianism regimes, this is simply false teaching, lies against Christianity. 

Followers of Christ Jesus are not part of any theocracy (the governing of a state by divine guidance), for we are not a governing body but simple followers of God attempting to do his will in our lives on earth.

It would be misguided to accuse Christianity of being either totalitarianism (the political concept that a citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority) or authoritarianism (favoring blind submission to authority) neither of which are allowed of Christians, but which would better describe the communist regimes and dictatorships of the world.

It is the duty of the Christian to know God's Word and to follow it as closely as humanly possible as we travel through this cruel and evil world.

The goal of the Christian is not to control anyone but to simply inform others of the love that Jesus Christ has for all people, even those who nailed him to the cross. 

Jesus' wish for all people; "not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

I pray that all come to know him and that all people around the world celebrate the birth, the life, the death and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this day and all days to come as we move forward through life.

May God richly bless all...

December 30, 2019 - I was Pastor of The First Baptist Church of Mauriceville, Texas when High School Superintendent Melvin Miller asked me to teach Related Math and Algebra I for one semester. I took the job because of the teacher shortage that year but even though I had a B. A. Degree with a Math minor, I wasn’t particularly interested in teaching. My college Course in Algebra was one of my most difficult courses but I knew High School Algebra would be relatively simple to teach.

Several of the students had difficulty understanding Algebra and two girls in particular. I spent a lot of extra time helping them and even though they tried, they couldn’t make a passing grade. I asked Mr. Miller what I should do. “Those girls are trying, and I don’t think repeating the course would change anything,” I explained. When I said I was thinking about passing them anyway, he replied, “You’re the teacher… follow your conscience.”

I called one girl’s parents, but when I drove out to talk to Patsy’s parents, no one was home. I wanted to leave a note, but since I had nothing to write on, I took a discarded Hershey Almond Joy wrapper from my car and wrote a note explaining my visit on the blank side of the wrapper.

A few days later, I received a beautiful letter from Patsy’s Mother. She not only thanked me for the note I left, but reminded me twice how wonderful it was to get a note written on a Hershey Candy Bar wrapper.

That all happened about 54 years ago. I still think about that class but only saw them once more when I spoke at their reunion in Orange. Those kids will always be a part of my fondest memories.

December 30, 2019 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. Happy New Year!  Whether we are ready or not, 2020 is about to begin. We at Paxton United Methodist Church hope all our friends and neighbors had a very Merry Christmas. Sue and I went to our daughter’s house in Dallas. We celebrated the birth of the Christ child with our daughter, son, brother, and sister-in-law. We went out to dinner on Christmas Eve, and even though our daughter made reservations over a month ago, the restaurant was packed and running behind schedule. They finally found room for us, and we had a delicious dinner.

We had a wonderful Christmas full of good food, family, friends, and gifts. It was a relaxing day (with the kids taking care of everything). Sue and I headed back home to Joaquin the day after Christmas—and after having breakfast at Dallas’ Pancake Shop. As usual, I got lost trying to get to Highway 80, and we spent some extra time in Dallas. But once out of Dallas, it was smooth sailing.
Our four-legged family members, Sam and Gunter, were happy to see us, and the feeling was mutual. It is always good to get home: Dorothy sure had it right when she said, “There is no place like home.”

Our loyal crew will be heading to Lakeside Village Assisted Living on New Year’s Eve day. We always have a great time visiting, telling stories, and singing songs. I imagine we are still going to sing some Christmas carols — I don’t think one ever tires of singing and hearing these songs of hope and peace. During the month of December we have been collecting cans of soup at Paxton Methodist for Community Christian Services. In January we will be collecting cans of tuna.

The first week of the New Year, Methodist ministers send to the District and Conference offices their church’s End of Year Reports. Gene got all the financial information to me, and that has made filling out the reports relatively easy. Gene and I will sign the completed reports Sunday and off they’ll go. These reports are a New Year’s tradition among Methodists, but fortunately, we can send them online now instead of going physically to the offices.

Ms. Fannie had a really good lesson for Sunday School, as always. The scripture comes from the Book of Acts, where Jesus promises that the Spirit will help the disciples carry out their mission. The author of our Sunday School lesson says that “Spirit-filled living means we have work to do.” That is good to remember as we consider our New Year’s resolutions. The writer defines “grace” as “God’s loving presence in our lives.” Grace is a cornerstone of Wesleyan theology and the Methodist movement.

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday is a story found only in the Matthew Gospel. Herod tries to enlist the help of the Magi to find this newborn “King of the Jews.” But the Magi are warned to avoid Herod when they leave Bethlehem. True to his cruel reputation, Herod sends a goon squad to Bethlehem to kill the children two years old and younger.  Joseph, Mary, and Jesus escape to Egypt just in time.

In Christian tradition, the third day of Christmas is the Feast of the Innocents or “Childermas.” I watched a special on TV about Christmas celebrations during the time of King Henry VIII of England.  This Third of Christmas was especially poignant to the people of Tudor times because of the high infant mortality rate. No family – rich or poor – was able to escape the cruel fact that so many children never reached adulthood. So this day became not only a day of remembrance of the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem but also the innocent children who died so young in the families of Tudor England.

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.

December 26, 2019 - The name Christian depicts one who attempts to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ did not form a religion as such. He formed a "New Way" of living, of thinking, of doing to others in life. As Jesus declared himself, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

We see from the pages of the Bible that Jesus treated all people with the same respect and compassion without regard for status, race, creed or color for Jesus looked at the hearts of men and not at their faces.

Even to the point of forgiving those who nailed him to the cross even as they carried out the gruesome task they had been given.

As a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, it is one's duty to exhibit the same traits of compassion and understanding toward others as did Jesus, as known by his works as described in the Bible.

It is not the duty of a Christian to follow any particular religious form nor domination of religious group or sect nor to control others.

It is sometimes promoted by secular people that Christians are part of, or adhere to, principals of; Theocracies or Totalitarianism or Authoritarianism regimes, this is simply false teaching, lies against Christianity.

Followers of Christ Jesus are not part of any theocracy (the governing of a state by divine guidance), for we are not a governing body but simple followers of God attempting to do his will in our lives on earth.

It would be misguided to accuse Christianity of being either totalitarianism (the political concept that a citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority) or authoritarianism (favoring blind submission to authority.) Neither of which are allowed of Christians, but which would better describe the communist regimes and dictatorships of the world.

It is the duty of the Christian to know God's Word and to follow it as closely as humanly possible as we travel through this cruel and evil world.

The goal of the Christian is not to control anyone but to simply inform others of the love that Jesus Christ has for all people, even those who nailed him to the cross.

Jesus' wish for all people; "not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

I pray that all come to know him and that all people around the world celebrate the birth, the life, the death and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this day and all days to come as we move forward through life.

May God richly bless all...

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