Archive for March 2012

St. Joseph Church of Christ, Dyersburg, TN

March 30, 2012

Sunday, March 25, Bonnie and I were with the good brethren of the St. Joseph Church of Christ in Dyersburg, TN. We are always enthusiastically received, and my sermon Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear stirred brothers and sisters in Christ to a renewed and recommitted emphasis on worshipping God in His own appointed way. This has been perhaps the most popular sermon I have ever preached – abroad and stateside.

Following Bible class and worship, we enjoyed a potluck fellowship meal together. Bonnie and I didn’t know brethren were gathering to eat together after services, but we also delight in such occasions. That was the first time we had been in the church’s multipurpose hall.

Sunday evening, Bonnie and I imposed once more on our daughter Rebecca and stayed the night at her home. Monday morning, Bonnie and I stopped briefly at Chick-fil-A for breakfast on the way out of Collierville. After some shopping, we made our way back to Winona, MS – our base of operations. That evening, we waded into overgrown brush and bushes to retrieve a couple of azalea bushes for transplanting in our backyard. That was almost too much for me, and the sweat endlessly rolled down my face.

By day, Bonnie continued to work on the upcoming issue of The Voice of Truth International throughout the week. I worked on the March issue of Gospel Gazette Online – running late as usual. Numerous other activities interrupted our respective efforts on those magazines – which is pretty much the way every day goes.

Tuesday afternoon visitors began arriving: Ruth Orr and Jane George from Tennessee; by suppertime, Prissy Sellers, her daughter Hope Stringham and granddaughter Amelia from Missouri also arrived. Bonnie fixed supper at our house for them, Betty Choate, Jerry and Paula Bates and us. We used the good dishes, on which we put our roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, miniature homemade loaves of bread and pumpkin cake for dessert.

Tuesday through Friday, our visitors constructed boxes and packed them for future overseas shipments to the Philippines, Malawi, Ghana and Nigeria. This group was self-starting and self-perpetuating – meaning that unlike most groups that come in to work from time to time, we did not have to leave other functions to work with them. Before they left, they had packed 15,000 books for destinations abroad. We will ship the boxes to various locations stateside for placement in containers or introduction into the US Postal system foreign mailbags.

Amelia either played by herself or watched children’s videos to amuse herself most of the time. The evening before, following supper, she asked me to teach her to play checkers; she spied the old, homemade checkerboard handed down through Bonnie’s family. She did well for a 4-year-old. At the office/warehouse, I acquainted her with the Bible maps (as I often do with small children in congregational settings) and taught her how to work the chairlift – a make do tame substitute for an amusement park.

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Finally, Friday evening I finished the March issue of Gospel Gazette Online and sent out the email notifications to over 1,200 subscribers. Saturday, unlike most Saturdays when we are traveling for a Sunday appointment, we slowed down a bit at home. That is, if one doesn’t count the planting of dozens of flower bulbs and digging up and replanting numerous hostas. We have also planted four rose bushes. All of that was a lot like work! The work we ordinarily do doesn’t make my back hurt and I don’t have to perspire as much! I may need to go back to work just to get some rest!

Bam! Bam! Bam! Friday, Saturday & Sunday

March 19, 2012

Booneville Church of ChristFriday, March 16th, 25 saints from the Booneville, MS Church of Christ descended on Winona, MS and congregated at the World Evangelism Building. They came to work for the Lord, howbeit, behind the scenes to the dissemination of the Gospel stateside and abroad through television, radio, Internet, the printed word, foreign Bible schools and overseas campaigns. Like ants, they divided the tasks among them and went full ahead to accomplishing every one of them. They prepared Betty Choate’s newsletter, assembled Paula Bates’ flashlight giveaways for when she is abroad next, packed boxes of books for overseas preachers, inventoried thousands of books, restocked tract supply racks and book supply racks from which we pull to fulfill requests daily and not the least of which unloaded seven pallets of books from a tractor-trailer and put them away in the warehouse. Altogether, they and we handled about 20,000 books – within an hour’s time! All that they did they were able to accomplish within four hours! We are always thankful for the help that brethren from time to time give us in Winona to help us do things that we five who are here daily cannot get done and keep up with the other demands of the work. There is more to do behind the scenes in the mission program known as World Evangelism than most people would imagine.

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Saturday, March 17th, our daughter Rebecca parted from us and headed back to her home in Collierville, TN, so that she could teach Bible class on the Lord’s Day. Bonnie and I armed the car with literature and luggage before heading for Huntsville, AL. Only 4½ hours of driving, and yet, it seemed to be a long journey that day. Upon arriving at the home of Patricia and Robert Gaffin plus their daughter Anna, we were treated to a delicious supper meal, attended also by one of the elders and his family and the preacher and his wife. Breakfast Sunday morning was no less super, and following worship, lunch was more of the same – great!

Map ClassBonnie and I attended Bible class and participated in worship Sunday morning with the Lincoln Church of Christ. At 1:00 p.m., I taught a map class in the auditorium for youngsters; it is amazing to see how quickly they can learn the Bible lands world – even duplicating the map of Palestine on a blank wall from memory! I presented my PowerPoint presentation Into All the World in 2011 for the 1:30 p.m. worship. The few books that we laid out for sale as well as the copies of The Voice of Truth International and Beverage Alcohol that we put out for free were gobbled up. One sister waited a whole year for our return to acquire a title she missed picking up when we were last there.

Sunday evening, it was my pleasure to deliver the same update of our 2011 mission trips abroad to the Winchester Road Church of Christ, also in Huntsville, AL. These brethren are dear to us, too, and it is apparent by their reception of us that we are dear to them as well. One of the elders observed that I talked very fast as I kept up with the pace of the automated transition of slides in the presentation.

Though offered lodging once more for the night in the Gaffin home, which we appreciated, Bonnie and I opted to trudge homeward so that we could make better use of the day on Monday. We arrived back at our Winona home at about a quarter to one Monday morning. I turned the steering wheel over to Bonnie the final 1½ hours or so; her dozing along the way as I drove enabled her to take her turn and expedite our arrival home.

Bam! Bam! Bam! – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Every day is populated with hustle and bustle, but some days outshine the rest.

A Big, Big, Slow Circle

March 6, 2012

Ray & Charlotte WeddingtonSunday, March 4, 2012, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Pleasant Cove Church of Christ outside of McMinnville, TN. Dear friends and coworkers in the kingdom of Christ, Charlotte and Ray Weddington, introduced us to this fine congregation. Each year, Charlotte and Ray give us the royal treatment as we stay overnight with them, and they get to (or are forced to) see all of our pictures from trips abroad the previous year. For Bible class, I gave my PowerPoint presentation about our work in four countries abroad in 2011. My sermon later in the morning was Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. Per usual, after morning worship, we were the excuse this time for brethren to enjoy a fellowship meal together; Christians don’t need much of a reason to gather and eat!

That evening, we searched out with the help of Miss GPS the Claxton (TN) Church of Christ. There, we reunited with our dear friends Audrey and Dave Amos. Once more, Bonnie had to endure my PowerPoint Into All the World in 2011. We made new friends from among brethren as well as rekindled old friendships. We left some books for the church library and introduced the congregation to The Voice of Truth International magazine.

East Tennessee School of Preaching & MissionsLater that evening, we caught up with Evelyn and Jody Apple at the night session of the East Tennessee School of Preaching & Missions Lectureship in Karns, TN (a suburb of Knoxville). Each year, the Apples kindly loan us sleeping accommodations for the duration of the lectures. Bonnie and I set up two tables of books, tracts, magazines and displays to acquaint attendees of the lectures with our stateside and foreign missions ministry. When we were not tending to the exhibits, we enjoyed some outstanding biblical lessons. We always enjoy greeting both old Christian friends and making new acquaintances from among good brethren.

CabinWith no lodging reserved, we somewhat aimlessly pointed the van toward Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. Finally, we opted for a one-bedroom cabin perched on a knob amidst pines just west of Pigeon Forge. It’s a good thing that the cabin was no higher up the mountainside, because our Town and Country, laden with literature, displays, equipment and luggage was unable to get enough traction on the gravel to climb further; I had to back down a stretch of ridge, thankfully to where I should have turned to our cabin.

There we unwound and slowed down for two nights between appointments. No Internet, but there was a hot tub. With less interruption or diversion than typical, I devoted several hours toward completing a book that I was writing; I finally finished the book days later (after returning to Winona, MS) around midnight.

Smokey Mountain StreamBy day, Bonnie and I enjoyed some unrushed time together, enjoying some meals out and doing a little shopping. As always, we did more window-shopping than made purchases. However, we did buy ourselves each a new pair of leather, moccasin slippers, and we were able to find a couple pair of dress shoes for Bonnie that didn’t fall off her feet when she walked. Small narrow feet are difficult to fit, but the strap across the instep trapped her feet and compensated for not being able to find footwear that fit better than that.

Sunday, March 11, Bonnie and I worshipped in the morning with the North Lexington (KY) Church of Christ. I spoke during worship, preaching Into All the World in 2011. The night before, we lodged with Linda and Wick Moore, as we did last year, too. Following Sunday morning worship, two of the elders and their wives treated the two of us to lunch at Cracker Barrel.

The time change for Daylight Savings Time, being in Eastern Time instead of Central Time, our 6:30 a.m. alarm made it seem like we were getting up at 4:30 a.m. All day I was dragging myself through the day; it was all I could do not to take a nap along with Bonnie as I guided the car that afternoon in the direction of home – about seven hours away. Finally, I succumbed; Bonnie took over driving for a few hours and I napped. Refreshed and going on, we arrived at our daughter’s home in Collierville, TN around 8:30 p.m. Central Time; Rebecca’s home is our bed and breakfast, overnight lodging many times as we travel. Monday, we bought groceries and other necessities before arriving back in Winona, MS.

This week, we have a newsletter to publish, an overdue oil change and inspection for the car to have done, thank you cards to send to contributors, bank deposits to make, proofing of the magazine Global Harvest that must be done, boxes for overseas shipment that need packed and unloading a tractor-trailer of books to place in the warehouse. We have appointments to make, a backlog of emails, letters and phone calls to field, yard work calling our names, preparation for attending and speaking for lectures in April in Indiana, plus miscellaneous things, too. In addition, advance preparation needs to be made for a group of 28 coming on Friday to work in the warehouse; then, of course, we will need to participate alongside of them in what they do while here.

In all over the past 10 days, Bonnie and I made a big, big, slow circle through Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. We travel by car about 3,000 miles monthly (I was 800 miles past time to change the car’s oil). These days, we are trying to attend to the car’s complaints: plugs & wires, brakes, shocks, alignment, transmission maintenance. Anytime now, it appears that we will need to change the tires and replace the ailing power steering pump. There is no telling what a car having over 130,000 miles might think that it needs next!