May 17, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. Sunday was the Sixth Sunday of Easter. This coming Sunday will be the 7th and last Sunday of Easter.

After two months of isolation, Paxton Methodist is going to open its doors on Pentecost—Sunday, May 31st (not this coming Sunday but the next). In the guidelines from the United Methodist Church, the first thing recommended is that those folks over 60 stay at home. That “over 60” age pretty much makes up our congregation, so if any Paxton Methodist feels uncomfortable, stay home with no feelings of guilt. Covid 19 cases are spiking in East Texas, and I also have concerns. When returning to church, it is recommended that people wear masks and gloves and maintain social distancing—which I certainly plan to do.

We are so small that we will be able to socially distance easily. We will even have extra room, if some other folks would like to join us. We are not going to meet for Sunday School, since that requires close quarters. Our worship service begins at 10:00. We will see how things go and make a week-by-week decision about meeting.

The month of May we have been collecting cans of fruit for Community Christian Services. Sue and I will gather those at the end of the month and see that they get to CCS. In June our donation will be paper towels and toilet paper. Uh oh! Well, we’ll try but won’t necessarily guarantee results. Our nursing home ministries are on hold until further notice: Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are still on lockdown.

A lady Sue and I know in Nacogdoches tested positive several weeks ago for Covid 19; she passed away last week. She was a very sweet lady, and I know her family and dear friends mourn her loss. When Covid 19 hits close to home, it is no longer a political issue—it is very real.

The first lesson for Sunday comes from Acts 17. Paul is speaking on Mars Hill in Athens, the spiritual, philosophical, and educational hub for the Western World. The Greek and Roman world was pagan, but they were fascinated by the Jewish idea of just one creator God. Paul’s belief that a Jewish peasant executed by the state was the human personification of the “unknown god” was going to be a hard sell. Paul, however, wasn’t known for shying away from a challenge.

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.” Normally Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. But during the Pandemic our usually “open doors” are closed. 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.

May 15, 2020 - Bishop Scott J. Jones announced recently that the Rev. Karen Jones has been appointed as District Superintendent for the North District of the Texas Annual Conference beginning July 1, 2020.
 
Dr. Mark Young, a retired United Methodist pastor and former District Superintendent, serves as the Interim District Superintendent for the North District and will complete his appointment on June 30, 2020.
 

Rev. Karen Jones has faithfully served First United Methodist Church, Center for the last five years. In addition to Center First, Karen has also served appointments at Liberty Springs, Geneva, McMahan Chapel and Hemphill. During college she also served as the youth director at Gilmer First UMC. Jones currently serves on the Core Leadership Team and the Strategic Mapping Team.
 
“I am grateful for the many ways Karen has served our Conference in vital leadership positions over the years and we are pleased to have her on our cabinet,” said Bishop Scott J. Jones.
 
Dr. Jesse M. Brannen who had been named as the District Superintendent for the North District received a new appointment at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church in Texarkana, Texas beginning July 1, 2020.

The North District operates out of two offices, located in Longview and Texarkana Texas. The district is made up of vibrant, growing congregations which are changing lives and reshaping futures for Jesus Christ. Our mission is to equip those congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world to the glory of God.
 
Texarkana Office
4008 Moores Lane
Texarkana, TX 75503
(903) 794-6231
http://www.northdistrictumc.org
 
Longview Office
1101 Pine Tree Rd.
Longview, Texas 75604
(903) 758-7003
http://www.northdistrictumc.org
 

May 14, 2020 - We are pleased to announce that this coming Lord’s Day, May 17, 2020, that the Center Church Of Christ will be meeting in only one Worship Assembly at 10:45 a.m.  While many religious groups completely cancelled their “in person” Worship services during the past several weeks, we continued to have “in person” services, having multiple services with a limit of 10 in those services.

However, we are only having one service this Sunday at our regular time of 10:45.  We will be practicing social distancing as we have been doing throughout the past eight weeks and following all CDC guidelines to the best of our ability.  We want to worship the God of Heaven and at the same time keep those coming to worship as safe as we possibly can.

We would invite you to join us for Worship this coming Lord’s Day at the Center Church of Christ at 10:45.  We would ask that you arrive a few minutes early so that we might help seat you and so that we do not have a “log jam” situation at the doors.

We love you, the Lord who died for you loves you, and we hope to see you in Worship this coming Lord’s Day.

Sunday Morning Worship Services resume this Sunday at 10:15am!
Worship with in the Sanctuary or online.

May 14, 2020 - What a thrill it is to officially announce that we are re-opening our doors for worship this Sunday at 10:15am. We will not have Sunday school. Children will attend worship with parents with social distancing requirements. No childcare will be provided. We are encouraging all to wear face masks to protect those around us and practice social distancing by keeping a minimum of 6 feet distance between each other.

If you or someone you love is in a high-risk category, we encourage you to stay home and continue to worship online with us.

  • We will maintain social distancing between family groups.
  • There will be no form of children activities or nursery provided. Parents will be asked to keep their children with them.
  • We will use offering boxes located at the back and front of the auditorium.
  • Please feel free to wear a mask and/or gloves you bring from home.
  • We are asking those over 65 to consider watching from home. We will respect your decision, whatever it is.
  • Please respect others and do not attend if you are not feeling well, have a fever or underlying health issues. We want this to be a safe place for all.

One final word. The service will continue to be broadcast on our Facebook live page and website. So please do whatever is safe and comfortable for you and yours. We will respect your choice. We look forward to seeing those of you who choose to come and worship with us this Sunday!

We invite you to join us at the following links and stations.

All other activities are postponed.

Further updates will be by Facebook, Email, Text, and at www.fbccenter.org. First Baptist Church is committed to helping people of Shelby County develop a relationship with Jesus Christ!

May 14, 2020 - I read a story not long ago that came out of that era when trains were the dominant form of travel in our nation. It seems there was a little crippled boy who was carrying a basket of candy and fruit to sell, hurrying to the passenger gate of the depot as fast as his crutches would permit. As the passengers rushed through the gate, a fast-moving young business executive accidentally hit the boy’s basket, knocking its contents in every direction. He paused only long enough to severely scold the crippled lad for being in his way.

Another young business man, rushing through the depot, saw the young boy’s distress and immediately began picking up the scattered items. After returning all the contents to the basket, he put a dollar bill in the boy’s hand. He smiled at his young friend, patted him on the shoulder and said, “better luck next time!” Then he was on his way.

He was, however stopped by the question the boy asked him. He said, “Hey mister, are you Jesus?” Turning, the man smiled and said, “No, I’m only one of His followers.”

How different this old world would be if we all would speak and act so that others could see Jesus living in us.

It’s something to think about… tbp

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

May 12, 2020 - All people have an eternal decision to make before our deaths here on earth.

Since the days of Adam and Eve and their original sin in the garden of Eden man has been born with an internal sin nature that does not allow any one of us to live a perfect and sinless life as did Jesus Christ. 

No, we are not able due to the sin of Adam to live without sin no matter how holy our intentions.

Even the apostle Paul admits that he could follow a sinless life as he wished but would fall back into sin even though his only wish was to serve the Lord.

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." (Romans 7:15-18)

That is a description of the sin nature that dwells within all people without exception and keeps all people from being able to follow God's will on their own. On our own it is just not possible, but with God's will and his power in us all things are possible.

One day a young rich man came to Jesus asking what he lacked in being able to be saved, Jesus told him to go and sell all of his belongings and give them to the poor and to then follow him and he would then have treasures built up in heaven. The young rich man could not bring himself to give away his worldly possessions so he went away without salvation.

Jesus then remarked to his disciples; "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." 

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"

But Jesus looked them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:23-26)

Due to the sin nature within us, no man or woman can be saved on their own, we must have God's help in the form of his Son Jesus Christ if we are to be able to enter into the kingdom of God.

I want to ask you a very, vey important question this morning. A question you must be able to answer without hesitation or doubt, no ifs, ands, or buts if you are now ready and qualified by the blood of Jesus, to enter into the kingdom of God.

This question is: Tell me please, do you know where you will be two hundred years from now!

My friends, if you cannot answer that question without hesitation "YES", then you are not ready and do not truly know Jesus Christ as your Lord, which all must do if they are to enter into the kingdom of God.

You may scoff and say, "No one knows where they will be two hundred years from now! 

Oh, but yes. For I can tell you without doubt or hesitation that I certainly do know where I will be for I know that I will not live two hundred years and I will have died the physical death of this earthly body. 

I also know without doubt I am saved from the penalties of my own sins and that my soul, my spirit will never die but that I will spend eternity in heaven with my Lord.

Salvation only comes through Jesus Christ, but salvation is available and paid in full for all who will accept him as Lord and Master. 

It is as the Scripture directs, "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. For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." (Romans 10:9-11)

"There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2)

Come forward today my friends and accept Jesus Christ as your own Sovereign Lord and Savior. 

For it is only through his blood shed out on the cross of Calvary that man can be saved from the penalties of his own sinful life which is the death of his spirit and an eternity of being away from the Lord. 

In a place of which the Bible says is a place where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth from the unbearable pain and suffering that never stops nor ends...

Accept him today and know his peace and his joy as you will then know for certain what your future holds and you too can then say, YES, if asked, "Do you know where you will be two hundred years from now!"

May his blessings be upon you this day and forever...

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith….” 2 Timothy 4:7  

May 11, 2020 - In the fall of 1949, Daddy moved our family of eight children to Shelbyville, Texas. I was a senior in High School and joined the Shelbyville Dragons Football team. It was my first year to play, I weighed 140 pounds and was among a group of tough country boys with four years playing football There were no city-slickers on our team. They came from East Hamilton, Patroon, Possum Trot, Goober Hill Huxley and the Sardis Community.

Coach Clinton Crisp lived next door to us and was a great coach and neighbor. We won most of our games that year but it wasn’t because of me. Bob Tyler and Jerry Dickerson were good runners and “Rooter” Lout was our quarterback. Tommy Lee Hughes, brothers Glen and Fred McCloud, “Bremmer” Schillings, Alec Jones, Martin Shofner and “Bull” Runnels helped make up our excellent team.

When our team was losing, our little cheerleaders stood on the sideline and hollered: “That’s O.K.—That’s alright—Come on boys and Fight, Fight, Fight!” in 1947 I became a member of the Family of God. I have preached for 68 years. I’ve seen many days that the Family of God seemed to be losing. But all Christians who know The Bible know that while we sometimes lose battles, we don’t loose courage. Losing a battle means little when we know who’s going to win. Our Coach keeps telling us: “Come on, Children and Fight, Fight, Fight...”

… because He knows He will win the war.

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46

May 11, 2020 - In the late forties, we moved to East Center (Texas) just two fences and a pasture from Mama, our Preacher/Grandmother Sister Oleatha Richards. Mama and Paw Paw lived next to The Pentecostal Church that she pastored. My brother Bill and I were eleven and nine years old and loved singing together. Mama asked us one day to sing in her church and we practiced on the only song we knew well, 'You Are My Sunshine.'

When we began our song that morning, Mama and the whole congregation looked shocked as we sang our song. Afterwards, she asked us to sing a 'church song' next time. A lot of people were signing that song in the forties. Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis had written and recorded it in 1940 and it became his theme song.

In 1990 Pam and I moved back to East Texas where I became Pastor of The First Baptist Church of Shelbyville, Texas. Church member Joe Higginbottom asked us to go to Nacogdoches to hear Ex-Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis sing. “He’s in his nineties and is still singing,” Joe said. When the 95-year-old singer was introduced that night, he walked slowly on the stage with the help of his young wife and began singing his theme-song, 'You Are My Sunshine.'

Jimmy did a much better job singing that night than Bill and I had in the forties, but the more I think about it, the more I believe the song could be both secular and spiritual… and Jimmy Davis thought so, too. After all, who brings light to our lives and “makes us happy all day long?”

All Christians know the answer.

May 11, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. Sunday was the Fifth Sunday of Easter. It was also Mothers’ Day. We hope that all the mothers, grandmothers, and those special women who helped raise us had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Paxton United Methodist is still not having in-church worship. We are going to look at how the pandemic is progressing (or not) and make a weekly decision. We will of course listen to our bishop and our district superintendent.

What a beautiful week we had! It was sunny and warm. Some afternoons the puppies, Sue, and I were panting pretty hard by the time we got back from our daily walks. I have so enjoyed working in the yard and garden. Pretty soon the heat will get me into the garden early and late. We still have our daughter’s dog Stella, along with our two boys—Gunter and Sam. Stella is a sweet dog but was going to stay with us for just a few weeks: Then the pandemic changed everything.

I know life is inconvenient, and for many the financial hardships are staggering. Unemployment is higher now than any time since the Great Depression. I don’t think there is going to be an easy way to emerge from under the threat of Covid-19. Most importantly, we must listen to the experts and then be smart in following the guidelines as we venture out. The number of cases in rural areas like Shelby County are still increasing—and among all age groups.

I woke up Saturday morning to put the finishing touches on my Sunday sermon. I am not delivering sermons, but I am writing one each Sunday to send out. It was a cool start to the morning but not cold enough to turn the heater back on. Our older dog Gunter had been sick this week and spent the day at the vet’s getting IVs, shots, and other medications. Unfortunately, Gunter can’t tell us what hurts. Sue picked him up Friday afternoon, finding him much improved. The humans and dogs went for a nice walk, and all three seemed to enjoy Saturday’s cool morning.

One of the scriptures for Sunday was Peter’s first letter—the second chapter, verses 2-10. In the first chapter the writer tells his readers to rid themselves of impure foods—malice, guile, envy, and slander—and feed upon pure spiritual milk; in this way, we can encounter God in the depths of our souls. A headline in the paper borrowed a line from the T. S. Elliot poem which said that “April is the cruelest month.” The writer said our past April was death—it was cruel—but it must also be hopeful. It is sometimes hard to be hopeful when we are living in isolation from others and also living in fear of the virus and the unknown future. But hope we must.

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.” Normally Sunday School starts at 9:30 and Worship begins at 10:00. But during the Pandemic our usually “open doors” are closed. 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.

May 7, 2020 - Ramah Cemetary committee has decided to cancel our annual meeting for Saturday, June 6, 2020 due to health concerns related to the COVID 19 virus. We feel this would be in the best interest of all families that like to gather on that day.

For donations to the cemetery upkeep, please send to Ramah Cemetary Fund, P.O. Box 204, Tenaha, TX 75974 or contact Margaret King Freeman (Treasurer) at 936-248-3811.

Thank you for your support and see you next year. Ron Barker, President 936-572-8661.

Pages