March 10, 2021 - On behalf of the McWilliams-Rather Cemetery Association, we invite you to attend and participate in our Fundraising Drive and Annual Meeting to be held on Sunday, March 28th at 3:00pm at Todd Spring Baptist Church. 

“In this world, who can do a thing, will not; And who would do it, cannot, I perceive.” (Browning)

Read the story of “The Good Samaritan” Luke 10:25-37

March 8, 2021 - On the day before the Texas great Snow-Ice Storm of 2021, Pam and I drove to Atwoods in Nacogdoches to buy bird food. We parked in front of a stack of bundled firewood about five sticks to a bundle and I waited in the car while Pam was in the store.  Suddenly as if they knew that we were about to be hit by a winter storm the next day, a large number of husky, young men drove up and feverishly began to snatch up these small bundles of oak.

Then through my window I saw an elderly white-haired woman slowly stumbling to the wood.  Her steps were short and unsure, and she trembled as she bent over and tried to lift a bundle that she could not hold.   Meanwhile, the steady flow of men walked around her as if she were invisible.  There I sat, unable to get out of the car without my walker. My shouts of “Help her!” went unheard as she stumbled away with a bundle of wood.

When Pam came back, I tearfully told her what I had seen, and the old lady slowly disappeared in the parking lot behind us. “I was Browning’s man that “would do a thing but could not’” I said.  “And all those thoughtless men could have done a thing but would not.” Where did this lady go with her bundle of wood and did her five sticks keep her warm when the massive storm brought the temperature to three degrees in Nacogdoches? That eighty-year-old lady was very unfortunate.  The Levite and Priest passed her by and could have helped her.

But the Good Samaritan was in the car ... and could not.

 

March 8,2021 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus. Sunday was the 3rd Sunday of Lent. Paxton Methodist is having in-person worship; we respect each other by wearing masks and keeping socially distant. Scientists and medical professionals, who know more than politicians about this subject, say that we can do three simple things: To curtail the spread of Covid-19, we should wash our hands regularly, stay at least six feet apart—social distancing, and yes, wear a mask—or maybe two masks. Things are so dire that mask-wearing is the patriotic thing to do. It is also the Christian thing to do, loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

As soon as you can, get vaccinated against this scourge—twice. Sue and I got our second dose of the Covid vaccine last week. We both felt achy for a few days but were really happy about getting vaccinated. Even with the vaccine, we’ll need to observe precautions. This isn’t a time to let our guard down. The District Superintendent of the Methodist East District, Dr. White, sent a memo to all the churches, asking us to continue our safety procedures. He ended with this: “We are not over this pandemic, so continue to be vigilant in all you do.”

Since we resumed in-person worship, our music has been on CD. We can hum the song under our masks but no vigorous singing! I took today’s songs from the CD of 25 Gospel songs that my wife ordered for me. Listening to “Count Your Blessings” and “I Saw the Light,” sounded like one of our nursing home programs! I like Hank Williams’ version of “I Saw the Light” better, but both were still toe-tapping.

Our Sunday School lesson from last Sunday was the Gospel Lesson for today, the 3rd Sunday in Lent. Jesus turning over tables and chasing money changers out of the Temple is found in all four Gospels. Last week in Sunday School the Matthew Gospel was the focus, and this week it was John’s telling of the story. I learned so much last week that I used some of it in my sermon.

We began a new quarter this week in Sunday School, which meant we had new literature and met a new author. The focus of our lesson was Leviticus 19: 1-18, one of the places in the Jewish Testament where you can read the Ten Commandments. These instructions told the ancient people how to conduct their relationships with God and with other people. The author said that when we treat others with kindness and respect, we are following God’s instructions.

The Gospel Lesson for the 3rd Sunday in Lent comes from John 2:13-22. All four of the Gospels that made it into the Christian Testament tell this story, so we know that it was important to the early Jesus followers. In John’s telling of this story, Jesus made a whip from ropes and chased people out of the Temple. Unlike the other three gospels, this cleansing of the Temple occurred at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus, a devout Jew, felt strongly that the Temple should be a holy place—a place of prayer—where people came from all over the known world to be closer to God. Also, in his reply to the temple leaders, Jesus prophesied his death and resurrection, the focus of our Christian Lenten/Easter season.

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.” 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 your email address to the Paxton email address, and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed.

Randy & Sue Smith/Paxton United Methodist Church

March 4, 2021 - Words are wonderful things.  They have a beauty and eloquence all their own.  Yet, there is often an eloquence without words.  “Silence is golden” someone has said.  Silence can also be eloquent.  Jesus was the master at using the eloquence of silence.  He used it many times.
 
​A woman was brought to Him who had been caught in the act of adultery.  The law said such a person must be put to death.  What must Jesus say?  He was silent.  He stooped down and wrote in the sand.  He said, “Let the sinless one throw the first stone”.  Then He went on writing.  When He looked up, His words and His wise silence had done their work.  All the accusers were gone.  A penitent woman stood there alone.
 
​He told Peter of the sin he would commit in denial.  Peter argued.  The day of trial came and Peter sinned.  At the right time, Jesus turned and looked at Peter.  That was all.  He just looked.  That was enough to make Peter go out and weep bitterly.
 
​In His trial, He refuted all charges made  against Him.  The paid liars came back with their exploded stories.  It was then Jesus fulfilled a prophecy made about Him and opened not His mouth.  The judge and others wondered.  But the judge was so impressed with him that he pronounced Him innocent of all fault as he pronounced the sentence of death.
 
​Silence is golden.  Silence can be as eloquent as words.  Knowing when to speak and when to be silent is one mark of real wisdom.
​​
It’s something to think about…..TBP

March 1, 2021 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus. Sunday was the Second Sunday of Lent. After a harsh and deadly winter storm, we’ve had really mild temperatures the last few days. I hope everyone has water and electricity by now. Watching the news, I see there are still parts of Texas without water. We’re lucky to have such devoted water system workers—they worked tirelessly for over a week to keep and restore services.

Paxton Methodist is having in-person worship; we respect each other by wearing masks and keeping socially distant. Scientists and medical professionals say that we can do three simple things: To curtail the spread of Covid-19, we should wash our hands regularly, stay at least six feet apart—social distancing, and yes, wear a mask—or maybe two masks—at least for the next hundred days. Things are so dire that mask-wearing is the patriotic thing to do. It is also the Christian thing to do, loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

As soon as you can, get vaccinated against this scourge—twice. Sue and I got our first dose of the Covid vaccine the first of February and will be getting that second shot this week. But even with the vaccine, we’ll need to observe precautions. This isn’t a time to let our guard down.

We had a really nice crowd for Paxton Methodist this morning. It was so good to see Larry and Theresa, Sue and Fred, and—a blessing after so long a time—Mrs. Hilda! We want to be as safe as we can. Since we resumed in-person worship, our music has been on CD. We can hum the song under our masks but no vigorous singing! Since we depend of CDs for our hymns, my dear wife Sue bought me two new CDs—one with 25 traditional hymns and the other with 25 gospel favorites. Fannie has also loaned me CDs, so I should have great success in choosing our hymns each Sunday. The songs for today were “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” AKA Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and Fanny J. Crosby’s “To God Be the Glory.” As both were in the hymnal, we were able to follow along and “sing” them in our heads.

Our Sunday School lesson was the last for this quarter, so we got new Sunday School material. This final lesson used Matthew 21: 12-16: Gene read the verses about Jesus clearing the Temple. The author gave us plenty to think about, explaining parts in this passage that we all know and shedding light on topics I had never thought about. One thing the author said really stuck with me: “You can tell a lot about people by what makes them angry.” He felt that what was really important was whether there is room in our hearts for those who might be excluded.

The Old Testament Lesson for the 2nd Sunday in Lent was Genesis 17: 1-7 15-16. This wonderful spiritual story about Abraham and Sarah featured the growing relationship between this couple and God. God asks these two older people to pull up stakes and venture somewhere else. The promise is that Sarah and Abraham will become the mother and father of many nations. Sure enough, Sarah becomes pregnant; we know that the story of Abraham becomes the beginning of the three great faiths of Abraham—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

On Monday morning, I had my first-ever Zoom meeting! After dreading it for several reasons, I was easily able to connect and follow along. My meeting—usually in-person but altered by Covid—was with the District Committee of Ordained Ministries. The meeting is part of the United Methodist Church’s connectional system, just another aspect of being a Methodist. As for the Zoom element, welcome to the 21st century!

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.” 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 your email address to the Paxton email address, and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed.

Randy & Sue Smith/Paxton United Methodist Church

"Don’t carelessly place yourself in tempting situations. Avoid them" (Proverbs 14:16 TEV)

March 1, 2021 - Today was another sunny day in San Augustine, a perfect day to do much-needed things around our yard. But instead of working in the yard, we went to Nacogdoches and had my blood thickness checked. After a quick visit with the nurse, we drove to Staples and then to Wal-Mart. I decided to wait in the car while Pam went in and while I listened to Fox News, I began watching two ladies in the car parked next to me. Both of them were even more over-weight than I am and the number of chocolate-covered donuts they were consuming was just unbelievable.

After one lady choked down three of them, she stepped outside to smoke. In a few moments, she got back in the car and ate two more. About this time, Pam walked up and I began telling her what I had just witnessed. After a discussion about fattening foods and how thoughtless people are who eat them, we went back into the store to buy some low-calorie groceries. We bought lettuce, carrots, asparagus and some stir-and-fry things. As we approached the check-out, I spotted some beautiful bananas and asked Pam if she’d like to buy just one to divide on the way home. “Oh, a half banana won’t hurt us much,” she giggled as we loaded six large ones into the plastic bag.

Suddenly she burst out, “Have you ever seen a chocolate covered doughnut shaped like a football?” And there they were scores of them, large, covered in heavy chocolate and decorated on top with a white-football-lace-shaped icing. We bought two of them and after eyeing a 4-pack of Blueberry Muffins, bought them, too.

While eating the doughnuts on the way home, Pam shouted, “Hey look! They’re cream filled!! This is just too much!” That night we ate a baked chicken breast, sliced cucumbers, and a huge Blueberry Muffin.

We’ve still got to lose the pounds we gained while on vacation and we have every intention of doing it ... just as soon as the bananas and muffins are gone.

February 25, 2021 - When Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter, he has this to say in chapter 3, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… unthankful.” Does that description fit us in our own day and time? Lovers of self would indicate a certain degree of selfishness and along with that comes a lack of gratitude.

The events of the past week were a trying experience to say the least. We were without power, we were without water and we were cold, very cold. Perhaps it revealed to us the many things we take for granted in our world.

We always assume that if we are cold, all we need to do is adjust the thermostat and we can be warmer. We are accustomed to turning on the faucet and being able to get water to make coffee, or cook our food our get a drink. We are accustomed to flipping a switch and having light in the room. Yet, during our bitter freeze last week, we did not have the use of these things we have come to take for granted.

If anything comes to us out of our cold weather experience, it is that we have many things in our life that we take for granted and do not appreciate as we should. However, more than electricity, heat and water, we should make certain we appreciate the people in our lives. The people who make our lives better. Let’s make sure we don’t take them for granted but thank God for them.

It’s something to think about… tbp

Center Church of Christ, 110 Hurst Street, Center, Texas or online at www.centerchurchofchrist.com.

February 21, 2021 - The Third Appreciation Service for Pastor Gary Suell, Sr. and First Lady Pam Suell of Mt. Gillion Baptist Church will be held at the John D Windham Civic Center, 146 Express Blvd., Center, TX 75935 on Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 3pm. Masks and/or face coverings mandatory. The speaker is Rev. James Ervin, the Pastor of Iron Wheel Baptist Church, Nacogdoches, TX. We would love to see you there. Dinner is catered and you may get it to go.

Mt. Gillion Baptist Church is located on Hwy 87 North in Center, TX.

“Eutychus fell out the window because of Paul’s long sermon...” Acts 20:9

February 22, 2021 - In the late fifties while I was a student at ETBU in Marshall, Texas, I was asked to preach at The Bonaldo Baptist Church in Nacogdoches County. The church was composed of the descendants of the early Spanish settlers: the Acostas, Molandes, Ariolas. The Bonaldo Creek and the Loco Creek ran near this community and into the Angelina River. The church decided to name their church after one of them and wisely chose The Bonaldo.

Both the log parsonage and the outhouse were inhabited by large wood rats and long chicken snakes. And the ancient well was partially filled with an accumulation of armadillo hulls, tin cans, and years of dinner-on-the-ground leftovers.

When I arrived for my appointment that first Sunday, Deacon Vick Ariola introduced me to his seven Molandes cousins and their families who made up the majority of the membership. He advised me, “Now preacher, we got a bird nesting under the pulpit and we don’t want them eggs to git cold.”

Sure enough, as I approached the pulpit, a wren fluttered from her nest under the pulpit and sailed out through a missing windowpane. I don’t remember what my sermon subject was that day, but I do remember that I didn’t let those eggs get cold!

I was pastor of the church for two years and they never replaced the windowpane. They must have figured keeping out the elements was not as important as keeping out long-winded preachers!

February 22, 2021 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus. Sunday was the First Sunday of Lent. We sure had a winter storm last week—missing Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not! We called off church last Sunday before the snow and ice made it to East Texas but decided to try church today. It turned out to be a beautiful warm day, with snow and ice melting everywhere. Our prayers are for all those still without power, water, and other necessities of life.

Paxton Methodist is having in-person worship; we respect each other by wearing masks and keeping socially distant. Scientists and medical professionals say that we can do three simple things before the vaccines are generally available: To curtail the spread of Covid-19, we should wash our hands regularly, stay at least six feet apart—social distancing, and yes, wear a mask—or maybe two masks—at least for the next hundred days. Things are so dire that mask-wearing is the patriotic thing to do. It is also the Christian thing to do, loving your neighbor as you love yourself. As soon as you can, get vaccinated against this scourge—twice. Sue and I got our first dose of the Covid vaccine the first of February. We were so happy to get that needed shot in the arm that it was a day of celebration for us.

We had a really small crowd this morning—even for Paxton Methodist. But it was great to get out. We shared stories of the past week and also learned much about fasting in our Sunday School lesson. Most of the lesson, though, dealt with God’s justice. In the Kingdom that Jesus spoke of—God’s Kingdom—people are set free: They share bread with the hungry, provide shelter and clothing for those in need, and generally love their neighbors. In our scripture reading this morning, the Prophet Isaiah tells us we are to fast from oppressing workers, quarreling, and brawling—and to fast from destructive economic practices. Without God’s justice there will never be peace. 

We want to be as safe as we can. Since we resumed in-person worship, our music has been on CD. We can hum the song under our masks but no vigorous singing! Both hymns today were sung by Alan Jackson. The first was “Standing on the Promises” and the second, “I’ll Fly Away.” He only sang a couple of verses of each, but he had our toes tapping!

The main scripture for this Sunday came from the first chapter of the Mark Gospel. In verses 40-45 Jesus once again is looking for a quiet place to pray. His disciples catch up with him, as does a man suffering from leprosy. This unnamed man is looking to be made physically, mentally, and socially whole. Jesus heals this man and then sends him to see a priest who will confirm that he is now free of the disease. Jesus asks only one thing of the man—not to tell anyone what occurred. Of course the healed—and once again whole—man cannot stay silent, and soon everyone knows. We humans just are not very good at keeping secrets!

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.” 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 your email address to the Paxton email address, and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed.

Randy & Sue Smith/Paxton United Methodist Church

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