“… be temperate and self-controlled… ” Titus 2:2

April 20, 2020 - Pam and I photographed and dined in Louisiana's Cajun country in the fall of 2019. The New Iberia “Shoney’s” breakfast sign read: “All You Care to Eat… $5.95” instead of the usual “All You Can Eat.” And I thought, “how clever… and how appropriate!”

Three weeks later we saw posted in front of the Cedar Tree Restaurant in Jasper, Texas the same sign, “All you care to eat.” Hey, it’s catching on!

I always feel a little ill at ease when I eat in one of those “All You Can Eat” places. I feel like I would if I entered a bar to buy a coke or a porn store to buy a Reader’s Digest. It would look like everyone was there for the same purpose.

Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins but many neither consider it deadly nor sinful. Since that Cajun sign reminded me to eat modestly instead of all I could, it not only profited me…

…it profited the Shoney owners, too.

April 20, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother, Jesus, Amen. Sunday was the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Weatherwise, this has been a typical East Texas week. We had some cooler than usual temperatures, which really isn’t that uncommon for Eastertime in East Texas. We also had temperatures flirting with the eighties—not to mention rain this weekend. I hope that everyone is being safe and staying home as much as possible. Working in my gardens and yard has helped me keep my sanity. My gardens in the front and back are so pretty right now. But they are ready for some rain! I hope we don’t have a repeat of the strong storms of last weekend. My dogs and I just got back from our morning walk. We usually walk at the park, but these are not usual times—so the park is closed. We walked by the Joaquin Methodist Church and found Gayle busy cleaning brush and burning it. We had a nice, safe-distance talk.

Paxton Methodist is not having services right now, determined to stay safe. We are a small congregation of senior citizens and don’t want to take any chances. Being so small, though, we are able to keep in touch with each other. I am still preparing a weekly sermon that I send out along with the weekly newsletter and newspaper article. During May we are collecting toothpaste and toothbrushes for Community Christian Services. I will go up to church at the end of the month and collect what people have brought, delivering them to CCS. We have suspended our nursing home ministries until we get the “all clear” from them. We miss our friends at the various nursing homes and hope they remain safe and healthy.

The Gospel story Sunday is about doubting Thomas. I like Thomas because his doubting is such a real reaction to the events that occurred the previous week. But despite Thomas’ uncertainty, we see hope reborn in him. We all know that trying to live in Kingdom moments will not magically vanquish our fears or take away our doubts. But by hoping, leaning on others, and trusting our own experiences, we are able to touch that which our soul longs for—the Divine—in moments of suffering.

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.

Randy & Sue Smith/Paxton United Methodist Church

April 20, 2020 - Fear is a common thread throughout the world today. 

Fear of the unknown and fear of the known. Fear of man and fear of disease, fear of all things that may cause harm.

However, for those who love the Lord there is no need for fear, in fact we are instructed not to fear.

Does this mean that for those who love God that nothing will ever happen or that they will never experience harm? No, it means that no matter what does happen that all who do love the Lord are to be safe and secure in his house forever.

Even if the world takes our lives, it does not matter for the Lord has saved our souls, our physical bodies do not matter, what matters is that our souls, our spirits are to be forever with the Lord.

In the Bible we find what is known as the "Greatest Commandment," and on this all other commandments depend.

When asked by the Pharisees which was the greatest in the law of Moses Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39)

"On These two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:40)

The Law and the Prophets that Jesus is speaking is the Scriptures that we know today as the Old Testament, so to love the Lord your God is the most important thing one can do in this world today.

And to love your neighbor as yourself is what keeps conflict and strife to a minimum, a much needed attribute in this world we live in.

As for the importance of your love for him, to God, listen to what he tells all who would love him about his love for us.

"Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

What does he say? He plainly tells us, those who love him, "FEAR NOT." 

Now why would he say this? For he is with us, no matter the place nor the situation, GOD is with those who love him.

He says, "BE NOT DISMAYED," why would he say this? For he is not only with us, he is our GOD. OUR GOD, not some unknown or strange god but our GOD. 

How wonderful can it be to know that one has his very own GOD that watches over him and protects him and cares for him every day? 

As a child of the MOST HIGH GOD I can tell you that the joy and the peace that I received when I accepted him as my GOD is like nothing of this world. There is no joy or peace like that one experiences while living in the Lord.

God made us so he knows just how weak we humans are and he offers, "I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU," he gives us the strength we need to face the world and its evils.

"I WILL HELP YOU," yes, he helps us through the struggles of this life, by his Holy Spirit, whom he has called our "HELPER" he leads us through the minefields of the world around us.

And his greatest promise for help, "I WILL UPHOLD YOU WITH MY RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND".

How one may ask do you know these things for certain?

Because when I was lost, drifting through the world on my own, or so I thought, the Lord called me to him, I answered his call and he answered my plea for help, for salvation.

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4)

Yes, the Lord my GOD delivered me from all fear. 

I do not expect him to protect me from all evils, no, but I do know that he has assured me that I will dwell in his house forever and so I need not fear anything this world may do to me. 

For the most it can do is to kill my mortal body which will send my soul, my spirit, directly to my home in heaven.

May the name of my GOD be forever blessed and may all people come to know him as I know him. Blessed be the name of my LORD, my GOD...

April 19, 2020 - We were optimistic that there was a path forward; but with events surrounding COVID-19 developing rapidly along with the obvious need for urgent steps to contain its spread, we simply cannot move forward with the homecoming as scheduled on May 16th. This has been a tough decision. These are difficult times. We urge you to stay healthy and do whatever you can to help one another. We’re counting on seeing you next year.

This cemetery is maintained by donations and memorials. We have loved them in life, let us not forget them after death. In loving memory of your loved one.

Donations may be mailed to:
Pleasant Hill Cemetery
P.O. Box 91
Shelbyville, TX 75973

April 17, 2020 - Due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic and Gov. Abbott's order for continued Social Distancing we will NOT be able to gather for our Annual Homecoming and Fish Fry on Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Cemetery is still in need of your donations for upkeep. Please mail your donation to Sardis Cemetery, 6034 FM 414, Center, Texas 75935.

We look forward to seeing you next year!

April 15 2020 - One day, Jesus was preaching and teaching his disciples on a certain mountain, and Matthew records the things he talked about that day in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. One of the things Jesus told them that day is in Matthew 5:14 and he said, “Ye are the light of the world.” Friends, though we do not question the validity of that statement, it should cause us to stop and think.

Jesus did not tell them in that far off day and he does not tell us today we are to be one of the lights in the world, but the light of the world. Our influence should light up a dark world for good just as lighting a candle or flipping a light switch chases the darkness from a room.

He also says in that same lesson that we are the salt of the earth. Salt is something that cannot be ignored when it is present. You know when it is present and you also know when it is absent.

The question is, how are we doing at this? How are we doing in illuminating the world around us as Jesus would have us do? How are we doing at providing seasoning for those we come in contact with?

You see, because of our influence, none of us will go to heaven alone and none of us will go to hell alone either. We will take someone with us. We must make sure we are living our lives so that others see Jesus living in us. Let’s be certain we are doing what Jesus called us to do. We must be sure that we are truly the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

It’s something to think about ... tbp

www.centerchurchofchrist.com

April 15, 2020 - If you have family buried at Carroll Cemetery, now would be a great time to volunteer a couple of hours to help with cleaning. Plenty of room for social distancing. Bring your own tools, and come out to the cemetery. We need leaves racked and burned, downed limbs cleaned up, bushes around entrance trimmed and lower branches on the trees removed for easier mowing.

Also the cemetery has a big armadillo problem, if someone likes to do so trapping, or just help us fill in the holes that they have dug. We would appreciate any and all help.

For information, contact Danny Green 590-1245.

April 15, 2020 - The Antioch Cemetery Homecoming, Center, Texas is scheduled for May 3, 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19. The cemetery will still need donations for its upkeep. Please make donations to Antioch Church Cemetery, Center, TX and mail to Shelby Savings Bank, 111 Selma Street, Center, Texas 75935. Bank phone number is 936-598-5688.

April 15, 2020 - Strong Homecoming that is scheduled for Sunday, April 26, is cancelled due to COVID-19. Donations can be mailed to: Strong Cemetery, P.O. Box 1383, Center, Texas 75935.

April 14, 2020 - For about 400 years the Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt but then the Lord God brought them out of slavery led by a man named Moses. For 40 years the Lord led them around in the wilderness until the older rebellious ones had died off and then he led their children out and into the Promised Land that he had promised to the fathers.

"All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.

Then they asked for a king and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

And when he had removes him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, "I have found in David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will do my work."

Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised." (Acts 13:20-23)

Jesus the only Son of God, born of a woman and of the Holy Spirit of God to come and make a path for mankind to return to God through repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord of all. For since the original sin of Adam in the garden man had separated himself from God by his disobedience and rejection of God's will.

God sent a cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist, to clear a path for the Christ as he preached the gospel of repentance to the people of Israel, preparing them for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"And as John was finishing his course, he said, "What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie." (Acts 13:25)

The apostle Paul then preached about the Lord's coming;

"For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb." (Acts 13:27-29)

"But God raised him from the dead." (Acts 13:30)

Glory, glory glory to the Lamb of God for he lives, he is risen and he lives forever.

"And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you." (Acts 13:32-33)

"Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything." (Acts 13:38-39)

"There is therefore now 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)

Free at last, free at last, once I have been born-again I am free at last. Free from sin and the death of the spirit, from the penalty of sin. Blessed be the name of the Lamb of God, blessed be the name of Jesus Christ our Lord...

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