December 3, 2020 - It’s been raining today (Wednesday), the sky is overcast and perhaps that is what made me think of this. I remember as a small boy (pretty good memory eh?) watching a country music show on television called “Jones Junction”. They always closed the program with the same song. While I do not remember all the words, I do remember it said, “Let a smile be your umbrella on a rainy, rainy day.” Perhaps something akin to that is what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote the words, “Rejoice evermore” in I Thessalonians 5:16.

Of all people upon the earth, Christians have greater reason for happiness that anyone else. Christians are promised the more abundant life here upon the earth, and everlasting life in eternity. Shouldn’t that be a cause of happiness? If the Christian life is the happy life that it is pictured to be, then as Christians we have the obligation of showing the world that we are happy.

Why not wear a smile? Why not let a smile be your umbrella? If you are a Christian, your face should show your happiness by having a smile to greet those you meet. A smile is a token of friendliness because it denotes a pleasing personality. Wear a smile instead of a frown and show the joys of the Christian life!

It’s something to think about . . . tbp

Center Church of Christ
110 Hurst Street
Center, Texas

 

November 30, 2020 - Pam and I got into a discussion about hot peppers yesterday. I was telling her how my Dad could “chew up and swallow” the hottest peppers without batting an eye. “Since he grew up around Louisiana Cajuns, he ate the hot ones just like they did” I said. But Pam would not be outdone. “My daddy (Oley Ledoux) could best your daddy any day,” she said, “because he didn’t just grow up around Cajuns. He was a Cajun.”

Pam’s parents grew peppers every year and she developed a taste for the sweet banana peppers when she was only three years old.  Her mother kept some on their kitchen table and Pam often stopped and ate one. But one day her dad accidently mixed a hot Banana pepper with the mild ones. When Pam bit down on it, she immediately stuck it in the refrigerator figuring it would cool off by the next day. But only a taste the next morning proved she was wrong.

So, Pam learned the hard way something her dad had never thought to tell her: “A cold hot banana pepper…is still a hot pepper.” 

November 30, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus, Amen. Sunday was the first Sunday of a New Year on the Christian calendar and the First Sunday of Advent. It was also Mrs. Hilda’s birthday, although she couldn’t be with us today. All of us wish this lovely lady a very special day.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Sue and I drove to our daughter’s house to celebrate the holiday. My brother and sister-in-law also came—only five of us this year. Usually at Paxton Methodist, Advent also features a Christmas program and dinner for the community. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, we have canceled our 2020 Christmas program.

All during the month of December we will be collecting cans of soup for Community Christian Services. Paxton Methodist is having in-person worship, and we respect each other by wearing masks and keeping socially distant. We want to be as safe as we can. Our music this morning was on CD. The first was “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” by Mahalia Jackson. This is a fine Methodist Christmas carol written by Charles Wesley. The second song was “Hymn of Promise,” sung by LuAnn Jordan,.who grew up in Paxton Methodist Church.

Our Sunday School lesson was “Created, Loved, Known.” The scriptures were Genesis 1: 27 and Psalm 139: 13-18. The lesson spoke to our two ideas of God. One is that God is transcendent or “holy other.” The other is that God is here among us. I felt like the most important thing our author said was, “We have a human responsibility to represent God and divine attributes throughout the earth.” That is an awesome responsibility when we think about it.

The scripture for my sermon was the Gospel lesson for the First Sunday in Advent, Mark 13: 24-37. This scripture tells us that we need to be alert during this time. That we should use this time to become more aware of God’s workings in his Kingdom right here in Shelby County. It has been hard this year to be aware of the beauty that surrounds us because our world has been stricken by sickness and death. I closed my sermon with Longfellow’s lament, “Yet peal the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth goodwill to men.”

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.

November 27, 2020 - The imagery that David presents for us in Psalm 23 is one of abundance.  In writing of the gracious provisions of God as our Shepherd, he writes, “my cup runneth over”.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever filled a cup to overflowing where it ran over the sides of the cup into the saucer or on to the table?  Can you actually picture a more adequate description of the abundant blessings that we enjoy as the children of God?

This is the season of the year that we set aside as “Thanksgiving”.  Yet, why do we need a special time to be thankful for all that God has blessed us with?  Oftentimes we are like the child on Christmas morning, surrounded by an abundance of presents who looks up plaintively and asks “is this all”?  Like spoiled children, we are often prone to take God’s lavish provisions for granted or, worse, to grumble when something is not to our liking.

We need to pause and reflect and understand that every good thing we enjoy in this life is a gracious gift from God.  We should thank God daily for our food, our clothing and our shelter.  We should express our gratitude for all the material provisions of this life he has given to us.  Yet, we must realize that the greatest gift that God has given to us is His Son, who came to this earth and went to the cross to save our souls.  Take the time to thank God for his bountiful material provisions, and also to thank Him for the gift of Jesus.  Not just at “Thanksgiving” but every hour of every day.

It’s something to think about…..tbp

November 25, 2020 - The East District of the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church made an announcement recently that was great news for the congregation of First United Methodist in Joaquin. The church was named Best Small Membership church in the district, which is over 200 small churches in East Texas.

Also, the pastor, Robert Ortigo, was named Pastor of the Year. This is an honor for Bro. Robert and we at the church are very proud of him.

January 6, 2020 - In the 70’s Lumberton, Texas  was the fastest growing town in the State. Along with other businesses, they built three new churches, two funeral homes and I built my “Doug’s Gun Clinic” on Highway 96. Later, the City of Lumberton made plans to build a water tower two blocks from my shop and employed an Arkansas Construction Company to build it.  
   
A few weeks after construction began, my shop door exploded open one morning and a scared, bloody, black Security Guard threw his arms around me saying, “Please, Sir---Please Sir---Will you save me? They’re trying to kill me!” His blood-covered face and clothes confirmed his story. I had heard that the Local Union had shut the Tower work down and that Lumberton had hired a Security guard to watch the Tower site.
    
As the young man sat down, a vehicle wheeled up in front of the shop. I grabbed my Colt Python .357 Magnum from under the counter and opened the door. One of the two men in a pickup shouted out, “Did you see a N----- running down this way?”  Pointing my Python toward the driver, I replied, “Do you want to die?!” The men hurriedly spun from the driveway and raced back towards Beaumont.

Since a State Trooper office was nearby, I told the young man I was leaving to get him. “When I leave, lock the door and don’t open it for anyone except me”, I said. The Trooper was writing out a report as I entered his office. When I told him what happened, he hardly looked up and mumbled, “I’ll be there later.” And when he finally got there, he looked over at the trembling boy sitting in the chair… humility written all over his blood-covered face …and gruffly barked, “Come on!” ---as if the black boy was the criminal. When they walked out the door, I was left with a sense---not of relief---but of sadness.
   
Occasionally Pam and I drive through Lumberton on our way to photograph birds around High Island. And there it is: My old Gun Shop…the Water Tower…and all the memories I had there….almost 45 years ago. I never even learned that young man’s name…and I often wonder what ever happened to him.

My son Mark recently asked me, “Dad, do you know what you would have done if those men had tried to take him?” “Yes, I know…and those men knew, too”, I replied. “And if it happened…I‘d do it again.”

November 22, 2020 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus, Amen. Sunday was Christ the King Sunday on the ancient Christian calendar, and this Thursday is the national holiday of Thanksgiving. Next Sunday begins a new year on the Christian calendar: the First Sunday of Advent. Usually at Paxton Methodist, Advent also features a Christmas program and dinner for the community. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, we have canceled our 2020 Christmas program.

All this month we are collecting beans and rice for Community Christian Services. In December we will collect cans of soup. Paxton Methodist is having in-person worship, and we respect each other by wearing masks and keeping socially distant. We want to be as safe as we can. Our music this morning was “I’ll Fly Away,” a toe-tapping version by Alan Jackson, and the beautiful hymn, “This Is My Song,” presented by Joan Baez. The second song is also called “Finlandia,” the national anthem of Finland. We wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving—and to Larry, a happy birthday on the same day.

On Saturday afternoon we had our Charge Conference with our district superintendent, Dr. White. Previously, at Paxton Methodist’s Church Conference, we approved all the Charge Conference reports, including next year’s apportionments, the 2021 budget, and support and salary for the pastor. Dr. White shared a very personal story in his devotional. Being with Dr. White was like renewing an old friendship. We certainly appreciate him coming to Paxton Methodist, as we are rather tech-averse.

Our Sunday School lesson scripture came from Revelation 4: 1-11. John’s strange vision of the divine realm is very fanciful and kind of scary to us. But it was a book to reassure Jesus people that God rules from on high and was worthy of praise. Our author stated that misunderstanding Revelation has led to spiritual sickness, bizarre cults, political missteps, and environmental carelessness. How very sad but true.

The Gospel lesson, Mark 25: 31-46, was about judgment—separating the goats from the sheep. In Jesus’ story the goats are the bad guys, and the sheep are the good guys. And what are people going to be judged on? How they treat others—especially the least in this world. This is a really radical idea but Jesus very clearly states this twice—in a positive way and a negative way. This story makes North American Christians very uncomfortable, but its meaning is plain.

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.

November 19, 2020 - One of the great inventions of the 20th century was the washing machine. It totally changed the back-breaking way that laundry had to be done. With the washing machine, you can put the clothes in, turn it on, come back in a few minutes and clean clothes are ready to be put in the dryer or hung on the clothesline (yes, some folks still do that!)

Yet, have you ever noticed how clothes sometimes come out of the washing machine? Often the shirts come out with the sleeves all twisted. Aprons come out with the strings tied in knots. This is caused by the outward pressure as the clothes are squeezed dry on the tub of the machine.

If you think about it, the spin of the washing machine often illustrates the way we live our lives. We spend our lives in a whirlwind of activity. Consequently, we often feel like we have been through the spin cycle and come out all tied in knots.

God never intended for us to live like that. Remember, Paul would write; “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6). Let’s stop living our lives in the spin cycle.

It’s something to think about… tbp

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

November 17, 2020 - (Flier) - Join us for a morning worship and prayer November 21 at 10am on the square in Timpson.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good His love endures forever.

Music by Charleston Johnson and Amberly Sparks.

November 16, 2020 - In 1946, Daddy moved our family to a rent house on Arcadia Road in Center, Texas. Behind the house was an old chicken house where our “Banty” chickens roosted every night. My brother John and I often crawled on top of it to swing on one of the two high line wires that ran to the house.

On this given day, John, my cousin Eddie Jean Watson and I were swinging on the bottom wire when John pulled the top wire together with the bottom one and immediately began shaking and making an unutterable sound. The high electric voltage held him froze to the wires as he shook erratically as he tried to loosen himself. When I grabbed him around the waist, the high voltage literally slammed me down backwards on the tin roof. Quickly jumping back up, I grabbed John again and was shocked down.

Daddy worked on a construction job out of town and came home only on weekends. And for some reason, he just happened to be home that day and was standing at the back gate. When he saw us, he raced out and made an unbelievable leap to the top of the chicken house. Quickly grabbing John by his overall galluses, he snatched John from the electric lines. John lay moaning for several minutes and continued to shake when we got to the house.

As I look back at that day, I am convinced that we did not know the danger of swinging on the wire and I certainly know my parents did not see us doing it. But I am still in wonderment on the fact that Daddy “happened to be home” and “happened to see John’s situation” and was fleet-footed enough to save John. I figured that my brother would always stay far away from electricity the rest of his life, but not so. He has always done much of his electrical work and is a pretty good electrician. And the only one that stayed so afraid of electricity … was me.

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