“... looking unto Jesus...” Heb. 12:2

August 30, 2021 - Oley LeDoux is my wife’s father. He and Pam’s mother Gloria live in the Big Woods Community near Vinton, Louisiana in the house they built soon after they married. Oley has been a member of the nearby Magnolia Baptist Church for sixty-five years where he has served forty years as deacon and treasurer. He has been employed by the Krause and Managan Lumber Co. of Sulphur, La. for (!) sixty-two years. His steady dedication to his church, community and employer sets a standard that most men never reach.

Oley LeDoux

When Hurricane Rita swept through their community, he and Gloria came to San Augustine to stay with us. Three weeks after the storm they returned to find the forest west of their home completely destroyed. After viewing the devastation, Oley phoned us saying, “We miss those trees, but we can see the sun set now.”

Most of us have had hurricanes in our lives and have been crushed by their devastation. But losing some things we treasure in this life isn’t all bad…

… if it helps us see the Son better.

August 30, 2021 - Grace and peace from our friend and brother Jesus. The biggest news in our little of community of believers is that we haven’t had Sunday School or in-person worship for two weeks. A few of our members came down with Covid-19, so we closed for two weeks. Hopefully we can safely begin again to worship together, although maintaining social distance. I am happy that all our members took this deadly virus seriously and got vaccinated. Their Covid symptoms were mild, and we hope they have a complete recovery.

In our scripture lesson the emphasis in early Christian communities was coming together to support each other and to hear the wonderful stories about Jesus. Part of that unity was sharing a meal—communion. It was not only a time of remembrance, but also a form of bonding with each other, with Jesus and with all the saints who came before.

Our thoughts today are with those along the coast that are dealing with Ida. It is hurricane season, but that doesn’t make the situation any easier. As Americans, we also mourn with those families who lost loved ones serving in the military and trying to help others out of Afghanistan. As patriotic Americans we should be thankful that our democracy allows us freedom to worship or not worship, protecting us from those whose religious views are different from our own. We see the tragic circumstances in Afghanistan and elsewhere, when strict fundamentalists try to bend a whole society to their ideology.

We had our regular group at Sunday School, now that Carolyn is once again back with her sister in Pennsylvania. I read the lesson, but unfortunately it was the lesson for two weeks ago! The last few lessons in this quarter focus on Job. The author spoke about the Wesleyan Quadrilateral that we Methodists use in understanding our faith. The four parts to our belief are scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. All of these work to help us develop a vibrant living faith. What Job learned (and we also must learn) is that there are things we will simply never understand. We may not like it but as Job discovered there really isn’t anything we can do. We humans have limitations, after all.

Gene reported that the insurance inspector said some limbs, growing over the roof, needed to be cut back. He added that it would be good to get two fire extinguishers for the church. Gene took care of both of these concerns. Our church is lucky to have Gene, who takes care of problems that arise.

During August we have collected children’s underwear and socks for Community Christian Services. I think all the schools are back in session, although some nearby are temporarily closed until after Labor Day, due to Covid. Next month we will go back to collecting food—we start out September by collecting everyone’s favorite, macaroni and cheese. Our Church Conference is going to be November 20th at 2:00 PM, in person at the church.

I focused on the Old Testament lesson from Proverbs 9:1-6 for my sermon. Lady Wisdom prepares a feast at her home and sends invitations far and wide. She calls upon us to abandon our simplistic ways and walk in the way of understanding. Lyndon Johnson once said that the more complicated the problem, the simpler an answer the American people want. To always look for the easy way is folly.

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.

August 26, 2021 - We live in a changing world, and nothing emphasizes that better than recent events on the world stage. Yet, many of us have seen great changes in our life in transportation, the performance of household tasks, medicine, and communications. To some of us who remember rotary dial phones and party lines, the internet and cell phones are things we never imagined when we were younger.

Yet, with all the changes in our world, human nature has not changed. Sin has not changed. Men and women still have the same greed that characterized Lot. The same love of power is still evident that showed itself in Diotrephes. There is the same love of money, the same lusts of the flesh. Because men and women still do not have the ability to guide themselves, we still need guidance.

However, with all the changes we have seen in our world we can take courage from the fact that Jesus Christ never changes. The writer of Hebrews would tell us, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus is still the King of Kings who has all authority. Jesus Christ is still the Savior of the World. He is the one who came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. However, we must live his kind of life. He must be the Lord and Master of our life – all of our life. Is Jesus the Master of your life?

It’s something to think about…..TBP

Join Us for Worship this coming Lord’s Day
Center Church of Christ

August 25 2021 - We're getting ready to celebrate 45 years of wedded bless between these two love birds--Stewart and Marilyn Lowe! We'd love for you to join us if you can, and share your favorite story/memory of these two, words of encouragement, praise, or blessings.  Join us on September 4, 2021 at 3 PM at Friendship Baptist Church in Joaquin, Tx for this come-and-go celebration. Refreshments provided and masks are optional.  If you're unable to make it, feel free to send your well-wishes to: c/o Sarah Madden, 1002 CR 3182, Joaquin, Tx 75954.

August 22, 2021 - No Sunday School or Church Service on Sunday, August 22nd. We hope to get back together the next Sunday, August 29th.

From the Pastor's Desk:

Grace and peace from our teacher and our friend, Jesus. Sue and I went to Nacogdoches for dinner on my birthday. Yes, I am officially a year older. At the table next to us was a couple with two young daughters. They were celebrating the mom’s return to her classroom and her older daughter’s first day of kindergarten. By the end of August, all schools in Texas will have started. I read about a kindergarten student who on that first day handed her teacher a note. It said, “The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of her parents.” I wish I had thought of that when my kids started out!

The Old Testament lesson for Sunday comes from 1 Kings 8: 22-30, 41-43: Solomon said, “But how could God possibly live on earth? If heaven, even the highest heaven, can’t contain you, how can this temple that I’ve built contain you? Lord my God, listen to your servant’s prayer that your servant prays to you today. Constantly watch over this temple, the place about which you said, ‘My name will be there,’ and listen to the prayer that your servant is praying toward this place.”

We believe that no place can contain God, the Ground Being of all creation. We know that the one Temple of the Jewish people was destroyed in the Jewish rebellion against Rome in 66 CE. This was mostly a rebuilt temple and not Solomon’s original building. After the Temple’s destruction, God still resided in the communities of Jews as they met in synagogues around the world. He resides wherever people of goodwill are doing God’s work. The covenant between God and humans was written on their hearts—and not limited to some stone or wood building.

In the Christian Testament, the human body is called a temple. This makes sense because we are made in the image of God, just below angels. That is pretty high up! So our understanding of holy places has changed over the centuries. The house of God can and should reside in us, regardless of our name for God and regardless of our cultural traditions. The buildings we call churches or temples are not so important because God intended for our faith to be lived out in community. God created Adam and Eve not to be solitary creatures, but to live in harmony with others.

Long ago I read about Gunda Tobias, an immigrant from Eastern Europe. She married in the US; she and her husband, on meager salaries, raised four children, sending each to college. She had no money to speak of, no degrees, and no job title. She wasn’t a CEO or a powerful politician. But when she spoke, people in her neighborhood listened. For several generations she had been there for her community in sad times and good times. She visited the sick and those in nursing centers. She volunteered at food banks and food kitchens. She lived out her days in that old neighborhood. When she spoke, it was with moral and ethical authority—not from power but from authenticity and compassion.

The world is full of Gundas. Without a doubt, she and people like her are the very temple in which God resides. God truly does live among us and in us. No building can contain the love and compassion of God.

News from Paxton Methodist:

Grace and peace from our friend and brother Jesus. It is Saturday morning, and I got up at 4:00 (AM, not PM)! Mornings, I check television news, read the Dallas Morning News, and eat my oatmeal. Then Sam, Gunter, and I head to the park, where I do my laps, and my faithful four-legged companions run and play. Once again, Paxton United Methodist Church is not having in-person church because of Covid concerns. We are hoping to return to our regular schedule on Sunday, August 29th.

We have been lucky this summer to have had several breaks in the dry Texas heat. We had about five inches of rain last week, which cooled off our temperatures, although also amping up the humidity. My garden and water bill appreciated the extra rain!

Here in Joaquin, we are all watching Deans Hardware Store’s new beginnings. I realize how much I depended on Deans and their wonderful crew of friendly folks. From getting the right size bolt to buying our appliances, we knew that Deans would take care of us. Sue and I really miss going in. But each day as we watch Jeff and crew working, we know we are one day closer to this Joaquin landmark opening again. Can’t wait!

Joaquin lost a good friend, our Fire Chief, Perry Pugh. I have known Perry since I first came to Joaquin, having him in the senior class my first year of teaching. I also taught his older son, Tony; my wife had Brock in Spanish. And of course, his wife Donna greets us inside and driving through American State Bank. Perry was so bright and had such a wonderfully dry sense of humor. We are going to miss him; our prayers are with Donna, Tony, and Brock.

Working after the sun goes down in my garden, I could hear Meet the Rams and then the scrimmage between friendly rivals Joaquin and Logansport. My dogs ran around the yard trying to figure out where the sounds were coming from. Two of my apple trees have had a hard summer so I ordered some Garrett’s Sick Tree Tonic. It has done the trick; new leaves and growth are happily sprouting. I would sing to them if I didn’t think that would really make them sick! The singers in my yard are all at the “bird cafe” set up in my back yard. The birds (ok, and squirrels) are a joy to watch and hear.

Years ago there was a book about America’s “greatest generation,” my parents’ age group. Both my mother and father answered the call of their country, serving in the Navy. My dad was only nineteen or twenty when he enlisted. People who were Republicans, Democrats, and Independents answered the call. People of all colors, nationalities, and ethnic groups signed up. People from north, south, east, and west volunteered. My mother was the daughter of Russian immigrants, but she too was ready to serve her country. (She also thought it would be an adventure, something she was always up for!)

I remember in the late 1950s, Americans of all types once again answered their nation’s call to join together in the biggest national effort since the greatest generation went to war. Hundreds of thousands of families began lining up at neighborhood schools to take the polio vaccine. My wife’s teenage next-door neighbor was even one of the volunteers who was vaccinated before it became available to the public. My brother and I were not very excited about lining up to get a shot. What a pleasant surprise when they handed each of us a sugar cube!

I saw my mother-in-law at lunch a few weeks ago, when she reminisced about US citizens joining together to stamp out smallpox. People who got vaccinated and had that tell-tale scar wore it as a badge of honor. Thanks to earlier generations, we were able to defeat fascism and eradicate smallpox, as well as polio. No longer do children or their families have to worry about the crippling effects of smallpox or of polio.

Now hope fades for herd immunity and getting a handle on our current pandemic. Not enough Americans are getting vaccinated, allowing the most virulent form of Covid-19, the Delta variant, to run rampant through our nation. The most troubling problem is that this virus continues to change and mutate: If we are not careful, it is going to become immune to the vaccine, growing more deadly than anything we have seen so far. This virus goes after anyone and everyone. It doesn’t care where you live, how old you are, or what your politics are. If you are unvaccinated, it will hunt you down.

My prayers go out to all those who are suffering from this terrible plague. My prayers are with families who feel powerless to help sick loved ones and those who have lost friends and family members. We must try our best—even if we have to will ourselves not to give up hope—and rise to the challenge as one American body.

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.

Tim PerkinsAugust 19, 2021 - When Saul was King of Israel, he became insanely jealous of David. Jealous to the point where he tried on several occasions to kill David. In I Samuel chapter 20, we read that it was the new moon, however David was going to be absent from his place at Saul’s table. In verse 18 we read that Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and though shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty”.

That is a concept that all of us are familiar with. In our homes, there are seats that are empty. Some have gone home to their eternal reward and we cherish their memory. Some seats are empty because some have done as did the younger son in Luke chapter 15 and left home. Still others are empty because of desertion. Whatever the cause, when seats are empty, it is a source of sadness.

Have you ever thought of the sadness it causes the Lord when the Saints of God gather for Worship and your seat is empty? There are some seats in the church that are empty because of death, yet the works and memories of faithful saints fill our lives. Some seats are empty because people have left the Lord and the story of the cross no longer has any effect on their life. Still others are empty because some folks just simply don’t care. When the saints of God assemble for worship and your seat is empty, it suggests to those members who are present, “Why don’t you stay away next Sunday, too!” Where will you be on the Lord’s Day?

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.

“He was lost and is found…” Luke 15:32

My DadAugust 16, 2021 - In the summer of 1980, Mother called her ten children to tell us our dad was missing. His habit for years was to rise at 4:00, drive to his Water Superintendent’s Office in East Center, Texas and return home at 8:00 for breakfast. But this day he didn’t return.

We asked J.M. Warr to fly his plane over the Jericho area and look for his truck. (Daddy made frequent early morning drives down these peaceful roads). Meanwhile, family members frantically searched the myriad of Sand Hill roads, but found no trace of Daddy. But on the second day of searching, we received a radio message from J.M.’s plane: “I’ve spotted Henry’s truck…it’s on a hillside in the Snow Hill community.”

When we finally located the right road, we found him lying about twenty yards from his truck. His mattered eyes were almost swollen shut and fire ants covered the bleeding cuts on his face and arms. As I leaned over him weeping, he weakly raised his hand and whispered, “Son, don’t worry….I’m alright”. He then desperately clutched the cup of water we’d gotten from the nearby spring.

We later learned that Daddy had stuck in deep sand as he returned from a drink from the spring. But as he jacked up the back of the truck, the jack gave way and the truck backed over him as it rolled downhill. He intermittently gained consciousness during his two days in the scorching sun and had almost given up any hope of rescue. To our great joy, a few days in the hospital made him almost like new.

Our dad passed away in 1983. I'm glad he is still alright.

August 15, 2021 - Grace and peace from our friend and brother Jesus. It is Sunday morning, and I just got back from a walk with my faithful companions, Gunter and Sam. It was really humid, but the temperature was much nicer than a regular August morning. We got a good rain yesterday evening, with more thunder and lightning than rain. But I will not have to water today, so “Yeah! I am not complaining one bit.

In a real break from my routine, I am not getting ready for Sunday School or the church service. Every one of the regular Paxton Methodist worshipers is vaccinated, but last week two of our folks tested positive for Covid. Since they’re vaccinated, the symptoms have been milder, fortunately. We have called off in-person worship today and also for next Sunday, August 22nd. With fourteen days passing, hopefully we will be able to resume Sunday, August 29th.

Last night the East District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church, Dr. Richard White, called to say he was coming to Paxton to worship with us. Although we have been meeting in-person for months, this week was a different story. I sure hope he can schedule another time. We all like Dr. White, who is a good friend of Paxton Methodist and Shelby County. Life often throws curve balls and we have to be ready for what comes. The District announced that our Church Charge Conference will be Saturday, November 20th at 2:00 PM. I will try to figure out Zoom so our next conference (2022) will not require Dr. White to venture all the way to Paxton.

One of the books I am reading is News of the World, which has been made into a movie starring Tom Hanks. Hanks plays a veteran who after the Civil War travels around Texas to hold public meetings where he reads newspapers, catching people up on recent events. The cost of admission is 10 cents. He’s asked to transport a 10-year-old girl, newly released from Kiowa captivity, to her relatives in southern Texas.

Much of the book so far features the thoughts and musings of Hank’s character. At one point he said that humanity has recognized that we have a responsibility to protect and care for children. For some reason during this troubling pandemic time, it seems we have forgotten that. Younger children are getting really sick from the Delta variant: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Florida have run out of pediatric ICU beds. At the same time, these states are fighting over vaccine and mask requirements.

The Old Testament lesson for today was Proverbs 9: 1-6. Proverbs is a book of wise sayings for young people—but also for the young at heart. In this ancient text, Lady Wisdom was present when God was working on creation, and now she invites everyone to feast on her enlightenment. We all need to sit at that table! Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians 5: 15-20, is also talking about wisdom and the need to apply it to our daily living. The Gospel lesson from John 6: 51-58 promises life—the Kingdom of God—for those who partake of the gifts God has provided. I will preach on wisdom when we get back to in-person services; I also pledge to pray, read, and meditate on how I can apply wisdom and knowledge to my own life. I hope I listen to Lady Wisdom’s call and ignore Lady Folly!

We have enjoyed having Carolyn back these last few weeks, but she will soon head back to Pennsylvania to care for her sister. We will miss her, but I know her sister sure appreciates her. Sue added to Sunday’s bulletin that I had a birthday last week. I guess it’s only fair since I put her birthday in the July bulletin. Mine is August 12, my son’s is the 13th, and his stepdaughter’s the 14th. Maybe I can remember that!

In August, with its school reopenings, we will focus on “Undie Sundays” to help outfit returning students through Community Christian Services. I hope that everyone at the local schools has had a good start to school. As a retired teacher/principal/bus driver, I still miss my fellow educators and the kids. Each morning as I am making laps around the park, I watch the buses heading to school. With Covid-19, I imagine start-up is more complicated than usual. We hope teachers, staff, and students in Shelby County and Desoto Parish have a safe and productive school year. Joaquin and Tenaha scrimmaged Friday night. We live close to school and we can hear the PA announcer when we are outside. Sounds like fall!

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.

August 13, 2021 - Latham cemetery is in need of donations/funds for the upkeep of the cemetery. Please make deposits at Citizens Bank in care of Latham Cemetery. For more information about Latham Cemetery, click here.

August 12, 2021 - There is an interesting incident in the life of Jesus recorded in Mark chapter 14. Jesus was the guest of honor in the house of Simon the leper. While having dinner, a woman came with a box of precious ointment and broke the box and poured the ointment on the head of Jesus.

Well, almost immediately, the “naysayers” and the “faultfinders” began to criticize this wasteful act. Mark tells us some said the ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor. He also tells us they murmured against her. Yet, in the face of this biting criticism, Jesus commended her and told them to leave her alone because she had done what she could.

The story suggests to us that Christianity is a religion of doing things. It is not something one gets but something one does. Jesus went on to tell them that wherever the gospel would be preached, what she had done would be spoken of as a memorial to her.

From this story, we learn that each of us has a responsibility in the Lord’s Kingdom to “do what we can”. God wants us to do what we can and our responsibility is equal to our ability. The greatest need in the church is not eloquence, education or wealth. The greatest need is the spirit that will cause each person to do what they can. Are you doing your part in the service of the Lord?

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.