September 22, 2022 - Believe it or not, there have been times I have been accused of being too “narrow-minded” when it comes to spiritual matters. Yet, Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, “Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it.” There are actually other areas of life where you find narrow-mindedness.

There is no room for being broadminded in the chemical laboratory. Water is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. The slightest deviation from this formula means you don’t have water.

There is no broadmindedness in the garage. The mechanic says the piston rings must fit the cylinder walls within one thousandth of an inch if the motor is to run smoothly, there cannot be any variation.

Broadmindedness cannot exist on the athletic field. The game is played according to the rules and there are no favors shown for “charity’s sake.”

Why then do folks expect broadmindedness in the realm of religion and the plan of salvation? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the father but by me” (John 14:6) Jesus Christ expects us to follow His plan and live His kind of life if we want to go to heaven. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16). Well, neither am I.

It’s something to think about... tbp

Join Us for Worship this coming Lord’s Day at Center Church of Christ or online at www.centerchurchofchrist.com.

September 21, 2022 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus, Amen. Church began this morning with discussion on various committee reports and the budget. The plan is to have the reports and budget voted on before the yearly Church Conference. This is a Methodist thing, and we tend to be very methodical in getting our “i’s” dotted and our “t’s” crossed. That’s OK unless I fall behind. Starting from behind isn’t a surefire way to stay caught up. We talked briefly about Community Christian Services; this month we’re collecting mac-n-cheese, and in October, another kid favorite, PB+J!

After our short business meeting, Sue started us off with the Gathering Words based on Psalm 37: 1-9. The poet speaks of the love, faith, and transformation that can happen to us if we open our lives to the great possibility of God. We followed the Gathering Words with more words—affirming our faith in the God made known by Jesus. We always respond to the reading of the affirmation with the Glori Patri. Sue read the Gospel lesson. Until Friday my sermon was going to focus on Paul and the letter to his friend Timothy. The Gospel story was another puzzler this week, and I just didn’t feel like tackling it...but I did. Luke 16: 1-13 was explicated in Paxton on Sunday!

Our songs were beloved Methodist ones starting with “My Hope Is Built,” and right before the sermon, “This Is My Father’s World.” As a bonus, Sue played one verse of my favorite hymn, “Morning Has Broken,” from the facing page. The quote inside the bulletin was by William Arthur Ward who said, “Love is more than a noun—it is a verb; it is more than a feeling—it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing.” On the front, Og Mandino reminded us, “Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity to complete what you were unable to finish yesterday.” On the Prayer List we remembered Joe’s birthday last week, Charlie who has had some good and some bad days lately, Elton’s progress, and Billie Joy Allen’s grief.

At Sunday School, Claudia read the Bible passage from Exodus 17. We heard that the people were on their long journey—a lifelong journey really. When water became scarcer, they began to remember the days of slavery when they at least had water. It does seem that often when times become desperate, God brings help.

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.

September 19, 2022 - Good Morning! It's Monday, September 19.

As I write this, I'm watching the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth, along with billions of others around the globe. When it comes to pomp and pageantry - no one can do it like the British. It is truly a ceremony... fit for a Queen.

The service included some inspiring music, including the national anthem of England, which, for the first time in 70 years, is called "God Save the KING". I'm reminded of one of the hymns often sung at funerals here in the States - "In the Garden."

Austin Miles, a pharmacist by trade, wrote this very personal song in 1912. He was having his morning devotion and opened his Bible to John 20. It features the account of the first person to see the risen Christ - Mary Magdalene. After reading the passage, Miles began to meditate on it. Is meditation part of your daily time in the Word? The Bible encourages it.

As he thought about that moment in the garden, Austin Miles, was inspired to write this lovely hymn, a song that has comforted the hearts of many who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Mary Magdalene was just such a person, as she approached the tomb, but Jesus restored her hope and gave her peace.

He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

Meet you back here tomorrow,
Bro. David
dmathis@fbccenter.org

September 16, 2022 - Third Monday Lunch Meeting - Monday, September 19, 11:30am at First Baptist Church of Center, 117 Cora, Center, TX. Free lunch and program presented by Leigh Porterfield.

 

September 12, 2022 - The annual Mt. Herman Cemetery Homecoming is scheduled for Sunday, September 18. Please come out and enjoy food and fellowship at the Mt. Herman Cemetery located on Hwy 7 West in Center beginning at Noon.

Covered dishes and especially donations for the upkeep of the cemetery are greatly appreciated. Attendance has been down over the past couple of years due to Covid but we are hoping there is a nice showing going forward.

If unable to attend but would like to contribute please mail donations to:

Mt. Herman Cemetery Fund
c/o Deanne Sample - Sec/ Treasurer
1106 CR 4314
Tenaha, TX  75974

September 15, 2022 - Sometimes, I read things that are just too good not to pass along. I don’t recall exactly where this came from, but it needs to be shared.

It seems that the preacher had just concluded a hot and scathing sermon on the sin of swearing. He had stated several times that he knew that one of his hearers was guilty.

The services ended. The worshippers, one by one filed out the door. The first to go was a woman never suspected of using foul language. With a red and angry face she exclaimed, “I’ll never darken this door again!” Before the astonished preacher could recover from the blast, another said, “Well preacher, if I had known you were near last week, I would have been more careful.” A third said, “I think that you might at least have come to me privately about it, rather than telling it to the whole church.” A fourth remarked, “I was never so embarrassed in all my life.”

Then came the real culprit – the one at whom the preacher had aimed all his remarks. With a bland and innocent smile, he grasped the hand of the preacher and said, “Brother, that was what I call a real sermon. You certainly did pour it on them today.”

Sadly, I have met that individual more than once over the last 50 plus years of preaching.

It’s something to think about... tbp

Join Us for Worship this coming Lord’s Day at Center Church of Christ or online at www.centerchurchofchrist.com.

September 13, 2022 - First Smyrna United MBC Annual Homecoming Services will be held on September 18, 2022 at 12:30pm at 644 Railroad Ave., Timpson, TX 75975. Pastor Charleston “Earl” Johnson.

Guest Pastor, Bryan Gates from Harmonia Baptist Church, Nacogdoches, TX 75965

September 12, 2022 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. Today we remember the tragic and senseless events 21 years ago and wonder how people could be so heartless. How could the human heart—the home of that eternal spark—wreak such havoc. What did people think they could accomplish through such cowardly acts. It is almost like we are still numb from the terrible events a generation ago. At the same time, it seems like they took place just the other day, leaving us horror-filled. Do we still lean on each other for consolation? Do we still feel a sense of “United We Stand”? Do we still call on God to guide and direct us through such trying times? Shocking events do seem to put things in perspective and bring us together in our shared humanity. Hopefully, Sunday we paused between football games to ask God for his guidance through difficult times.

When I retired from the school business in 2008, I still had a job to go to. I was the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Joaquin. The church provided me an office, so I would go there to work on my sermon or do a little cleaning. On one such day as I was locking up and walking home, a big red puppy came bounding up. It was not unusual for people to dump their unwanted animals at the church. This big goofy dog followed me to the post office and waited outside as I went in to check the mail. When I came out there he was, ready for our next adventure. Susan Whiddon drove up about that time and hollered out what a good looking dog he was. I agreed. I also came up with a name for my new best friend—Abner Holliday.

After a rough start, our friendship flourished. He loved to dig up my garden. Often he would come tearing out from the side of the house with a pepper or a tomato plant in his mouth. But he outgrew that. Abner and I soon started a tradition of a daily walk at the city park. He loved to chase squirrels and run free around the park. My best canine buddy died after a ten-year friendship, and I miss him to this day. But I am now walking with two other rescue dogs—Gunter and Sam. I read a while back that if you want a hint of what heaven will be, get a dog. Both my wife and I have bumper stickers saying “Life is a journey best traveled with a dog.” I am always ready to share Abner—and Gunter and Sam—stories. They are part of my life’s story.

At Paxton Methodist, after singing hymns that serve as reminders of our faith and declaring our creed through ancient affirmations, we spent time discussing our future as a church community. Yes, this could be futile effort since we are in our seventies, eighties, and nineties; in addition, the whole United Methodist denomination is currently experiencing division. I am not sure that any of us felt enlightened, but I am happy that a conversation began: We agreed that we want the legacy of this small church preserved. We hope to ensure that the concern and compassion of the church continues even after the doors are closed for the last time.

Our songs today were both comforting and stirring: “Blessed Assurance” and “Hymn of Promise.” The bulletin quote from Harry S Truman emphasized our American character: “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” To accompany the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, we had an excerpt of Alice Hoffman’s Local Girls: “He’d thought he was lost, but now he recognized that eternity was all around him, like salt from a shaker or stars in the sky.” My sermon dealt with memories and lessons of September 11, as well as with Jesus’ parables of loss and discovery.

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.

“I was shown mercy....” I Tim. 1:16

September 12, 2022 - Mother believed in “applying the board of education to the seat of learning” as we ten children were growing up. She was always blessed with plenty of hedge bushes near our house whereon grew many switches.

A few years before she died, I asked her why I got so many spankings growing up. Sternly eyeing me, she replied, “Young Man, you didn’t get near as many as you deserved!” And she was right. We never got spankings for the many watermelon and sugar cane patches we snuck into… nor for the eggs we swiped from our neighbor’s hen house when we played hooky.

I’ve gotten a good many spankings from the Lord along the way, too. Unlike Mother, He saw even my secret sins. But like Mother, He hasn’t given me near what I deserve. I deserved justice.

But He gave me mercy.

Good Morning! It’s Monday, September 12.

We did something yesterday at First Baptist Center that we haven’t done in over two and a half years - we met for Sunday night service. That tradition, going back to the founding of our church in the 1880’s, was short circuited by the Covid shutdown in March of 2020. And even as face-to-face morning service restarted, and youth and children’s ministries resumed, our Sunday evening service remained off the church calendar. Glad it’s back!

I’ve always loved Sunday night service. You can do things on Sunday night that would be difficult to do on Sunday morning. Things like personal testimonies, scripture sharing, hymn requests. It’s inherently more casual, and it fills a place in the life of our church that no other ministry can fill. A good crowd gathered last evening and everyone seemed happy to be there.

And, of course, we're happy to come back into compliance with the lesser known Eleventh Commandment, that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai - "Thou shalt goeth back to church on Sunday night!"

Meet you back here tomorrow,
Bro. David
dmathis@fbccenter.org

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