May 27, 2021 - I read that the great defense attorney Clarence Darrow once said, “Everyone is a potential murderer. I have not killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction out of obituary notices.”

We find humor in that because it comes so close to the truth of our own lives. Of all the things that Jesus commanded, the command to “Love our enemies” in Luke chapter 6 and verse 27 is perhaps the most difficult.

I may not love God like I should, but I’m determined to get a handle on it. I may not love my wife the way I should, but I intend to work at it. I may not love my neighbor as I should, but I have nothing against trying.

But, love my enemies? That is something we struggle with. They have hurt us. They have spoken out against us. They have threatened our self worth, our standing in the community and subjected us to mental cruelty.

Truthfully, I don’t want to love these people, but Jesus said I must. When someone wrongs us, our first instinct is to get even. We want to make them hurt as much as they have hurt us. Jesus tells us that is not the way He wants us to live.

He also tells us we must do good to those who hate us. We must bless those who curse us. We must pray for those who mistreat us. It may not be what we want to do, but loving our enemies shows others we belong to Christ.

It’s something to think about… tbp

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

May 26, 2021 - Ramah Cemetery will hold our annual meeting at 11:00 am on Saturday, June 5, 2021 at the Ramah Baptist Church in Tenaha, TX. The church gym will be open and families are welcome to bring a covered dish lunch to celebrate and honor our loved ones. For more information, contact Ron Barker at 936-572-8661.

May 24, 2021 - I don’t like buttermilk; I love it. I first drank some of it in 1939. I was three years old and my parents and  my 5-year-old brother Bill lived in an old unpainted shack a few miles south of Center, Texas. Every week, my Aunt Belvin would bring us a gallon of fresh churned buttermilk and some fresh butter. Mother said I always asked her, “Are it cold?” since lowering it in our well was the only way to keep it cool. Uncle Billy Gene would often eat with us and invariably put beans in my buttermilk while Daddy asked the blessing.

Most modern buttermilk is cultured, but it is still common in warm climates where unrefrigerated fresh milk sours quickly to churn it like we did when we were kids. The old-time fresh churned milk is not as available nowadays, but a few places like The Pickett House in Woodville, Texas still serves it - at least they did a few years ago when Pam and I used to eat there.

I finally quit mentioning buttermilk from the pulpit after the same "we don’t do buttermilk" remarks from the members. And when I mentioned liking cornbread in it, it was just too much for most of our members.  

May 24, 2021 - Grace and peace from our friend and brother Jesus. May 23rd was the Day of Pentecost on the Christian calendar. Traditionally this marks the beginning of the Christian mission: Some call it the Christian faith’s “birthday.” Next Sunday is Trinity Sunday. I no longer even pretend to understand the concept of the Trinity—well, not exactly true, as I keep trying to understand.

Since we resumed in-person worship, our music has been on CD. Still no vigorous singing! The songs I chose were very different from our usual hymns. The first was “Peace to the World” by one of the greatest guitarists of all time—B. B. King! Then we had “What the World Needs Now” played by Burt Bacharach—and, of course, the answer is “love, sweet love.” Next week we are going to try some for-real singing, though since we’re out of practice, we’ll use familiar songs. With our music, we are reminded yet again how much we miss Hilda being here. Hilda called Sue and me Saturday night, sounding so strong! She is working hard at her physical therapy.

Our Sunday School lesson was a peculiar one. Gene read the very long passage from Daniel 7: 1-14, which describes a vision or dream Daniel had. Like Revelation, this part of Daniel is classified as Jewish apocalyptic literature. And like Revelation, it sounds so strange. But both these books brought comfort to the people with their promise that goodness—love, AKA God—would win out in the end.

My sermon this morning mainly focused on that first Day of Pentecost described in Acts 2: 1-21. But I started with the last of Jesus’ longest teaching session found at the end of John (chapter 15 and the beginning of chapter 16). Jesus tells his disciples that he will never leave them. He adds that God’s Spirit will be with them always. Then Jesus prays to God, asking him to protect and comfort his friends. So this is yet another Biblical passage serving to bring comfort to listeners and readers.

We are collecting canned fruit for Community Christian Services. This is a five-Sunday month, and next Sunday is part of Memorial Day weekend. In June we will be collecting paper towels and toilet paper for CCS. This Wednesday, May 26, CCS will be hosting a Farmers to Families truck, a pandemic program set up to aid farmers as well as those in need of food.

Joaquin Senior Center, closed for over a year because of the pandemic, plans to reopen on Tuesday, July 6. Sue will send out the new procedures, which include showing proof of vaccination, to the Seniors on their list. If you haven’t been a Senior Center participant but would like the details on becoming one, you can call 936/269-3975 and leave a message with your name and address or send it to PO Box 567, Joaquin TX 75954. Joaquin Senior Center serves eastern Shelby County and western DeSoto Parish.

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.

May 20, 2021 - To my mind, “Sonnets From The Portuguese” is one of the most beautiful works to come from the pen of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The most familiar passage from that great work reads, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” My favorite is a bit more obscure.

Hidden among the lines of the poem are these words, “The face of all the world is changed, I think, since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul”. Of course, this poem was a love poem. It was written by a woman to the man of her choice. My friends, those words have a spiritual application to those who are followers of Jesus Christ.

You see, Jesus has the power to transform lives. There are many examples in the New Testament of those whose lives were never the same since they first heard the footsteps of Jesus in their soul. Think of the sinful woman dragged before Jesus early one morning, caught in adultery. What about the Jewish ruler, Nicodemus who came to see Jesus late one night? There was the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed. Then there were the two tax collectors, Matthew and Zacchaeus along with those nameless souls who were healed of their various infirmities.

When we truly come to know Jesus Christ, our lives will never be the same either. If our lives have not been transformed by Jesus, then maybe we have never made Him the Lord and Master of our lives. Perhaps it’s time for us to fully surrender our stubborn will to His.

It’s something to think about…..tbp

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

May 17, 2021 - Shelby County Outreach Ministries’ Senior Programs are happy to announce the reopening of the Senior Nutrition Site with guidelines and new safety procedures. We will open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-2 beginning on May 18, 2021. Starting June 1, 2021, our program will be open M-F from 9-2. Please call the director, Darlene Mitchell should you have any questions or concerns. The phone number is 936-598-7768.

 

May 17, 2021 - My son Neal called me from Manhattan, New York last week after reading my book, “Fincher and Friends.” “What’s the secret for all the things you’ve accomplished in your eighty-seven years?” he asked. I thought for a moment and answered, “I guess it’s because I never lost the wonder.” To see and learn something new… to meet new people… and learn about their lives is an exceedingly great joy.

My call to preach The Gospel has bequeathed to me unlimited opportunities to make life-time friends from my sixteen Pastorates… from my first one in Patroon, Texas in 1952… to my thirty-year Pastorate of Calvary Baptist Church in 2021. How blessed I am to hear from those I baptized years ago and whose weddings I performed! I’ve now lived long enough to baptize many of their children… and perform their weddings, too!

My friends have given me the stories that I write in five newspapers every week. And I praise the Lord for the memory He gave me… a memory that dates from my 4th birthday in 1937 to my 87th one in 2020. And He also gave me another gift…

… the gift of never losing the wonder.

May 16, 2021 - Grace and peace from our friend and brother Jesus. May 16 was the 7th Sunday of Easter, as well as Ascension Sunday. In bygone days Christians would go to their places of worship last Thursday to celebrate the Day of Ascension, when Jesus left his friends behind. Last week I had no article in the paper and no weekly newsletter because my four-legged friend Sam and I went to Dallas right after church. I had a really nice visit with my daughter, son, future daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother.

As is always the case at Paxton Methodist, Fannie had a really good Sunday School lesson for us. Read by Gene, the scripture focus was Luke 9: 28-36 about Peter, John, and James joining Jesus on the mountaintop and witnessing the Transfiguration. This story places Jesus right up there with Moses and Elijah for these Jewish folks. From the cloud they hear God saying that Jesus is the Son of God, the chosen one, and telling Peter, John, and James to listen to him. This was a one-time, spectacular event, but our author encouraged us to look for the holy ourselves in ordinary life. Even our lives today contain these special moments, if we’ll just be attentive to them.

Since we resumed in-person worship, our music has been on CD. Still no vigorous singing! The songs I meant to share this week were related to each other: “I Saw the Light” by Hank Williams and Jackie DeShannon’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” Technology and age don’t always go together, and I couldn’t get them to play on my tablet. Plan B was a good one, though: Sue DeFee had two Elvis CDs, so we heard the King singing “He Touched Me” and “Amazing Grace.” Can’t go wrong with those!

My sermon this week continued with the Easter Season theme of Jesus showing his disciples—and us—how to be caring and compassionate. As John the Elder said, “God is Love.” The Gospel Lesson came from John 17: 6-19. Jesus asks God to protect the disciples as they continue bringing the Good News of God’s love into the world. And remember, WE are his modern-day disciples and are, therefore, charged with that same mission.

We are collecting canned fruit for Community Christian Services. Sue also saw a call on Facebook for diapers and took a variety of sizes by CCS last week. The volunteers at CCS have been working hard throughout the pandemic to help those in need. They still have in place some social distancing procedures, optionally available.

Joaquin Senior Center, closed for over a year because of the pandemic, plans to reopen on Tuesday, July 6. Sue will send out the new procedures, which include showing proof of vaccination, to the Seniors on their list. If you’re not currently a Senior Center participant but would like the details on becoming one, you can call 936/269-3975 and leave a message with your name and address or send it to PO Box 567, Joaquin TX 75954.

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.

May 13, 2021 - The habit of faultfinding is a bad habit that lots of people fall in to. The tragedy is that it is easily acquired and not readily broken. In case you haven’t noticed, we live in an imperfect world. Everything is flawed and defective. Institutions all blunder and fall short of the ideal. People are all erring creatures and sometimes we are offended by their faults. However, we should not pay so much attention to the faults and failures of others. Neither should we dwell on the defects of the world we live in.

If we are not careful, we can become chronic, carping, fault-finders. When that happens we take the next step and become grumblers. Then, if we are not careful we will become a growler. Folks who growl long enough end up being cynics. When that happens, we are no good to ourselves or anyone else.

To my knowledge, no one ever wakes up one day and says, “I think I will become a cynic.”  It happens when we begin to find fault and the habit takes root in our hearts. It then grows until our mind becomes twisted and our heart becomes sour.

It is no wonder the wise man said, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)  
    
It’s something to think about…..TBP

Join us for Worship this coming Lord’s Day!
Center Church of Christ
110 Hurst Street
Center, Texas
www.centerchurchofchrist.com

May 11, 2021 - National Day of Prayer Event is set for Thursday, May 13 from noon until 12:30pm in front of our Historic Courthouse.

Join the leaders and pastors of our community as we pray for America, for our First Responders and Military, for our Churches and for our Schools.

Join us as we meet "in the center of Center" to celebrate the Power of Prayer.

For more information call David Mathis at 979-533-1575 or 936-598-5605.

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