Archive for January 2016

I’ll Fly Away

January 29, 2016
Tony Blansett, Louis Rushmore, Jerry Bates & a helpful UPS Freight driver

Tony Blansett, Louis Rushmore, Jerry Bates & a helpful UPS Freight driver

Uncharacteristically of me, it has been weeks since my last blog entry. The absence of pen to paper, so to say, does not reflect a void in daily activity in the intervening days between blog entries. On the contrary, more of the same and then some might better describe the coming and going of those weeks.

Chiefly, I have been up to my proverbial eyeballs in literature – proofing, layout, writing, etc. Several simultaneous projects have been and are ongoing. One of the primary areas to which I have been devoting myself has been preparation of The Voice of Truth International #88. Volume 87 is about to be printed (in Hong Kong) and shipped to the States. Significant lead time is necessary for quarterly publication and distribution of this magazine. Especially has that been true this time owing to the impending overseas trips of both sister Betty Choate and myself, her to Asia and beyond, while I make my way to South America.

Two New Books

Two New Books

The fruit of some of my literary labors was realized recently as two of my newest books arrived by tractor trailer outside the World Evangelism Building in Winona, MS. One books is entitled Preaching the Whole Counsel of God to the Whole World, Volume 1; it is a 232 page book of full-sentence sermon outlines, mostly about Jesus Christ. The second title is Christianity: An Explanation; this 300 page book is intended to be a one-stop resource to take a Christian to spiritual maturity. It also could be used for six months of Bible classes or as a reference book.

Sunday, January 24, I taught Bible class and preached for the Old Union Church of Christ in Carroll County, MS. Brother Mike Schmitz who preaches there was ill, and I was more than happy to fill in for him. Happily, though hospitalized for a couple of days, he is on the mend.

As I write this, I am comfortably nestled in my daughter’s living room, enjoying her new furniture. She even gave me the great seat with its electric reclining features. I’m all packed up and ready to leave out of Memphis International Airport in the morning. The first leg of my flight will take me to Miami International Airport. Once there, I will board another flight, which will take me, Lord willing, to Georgetown, Guyana in South America.

For the next five weeks, I will be flying aboard little Cessna and similar planes over jungles as well as riding fast boats up big rivers through those jungles; sometimes, I will travel by land when in coastal areas. Two Guyanese brethren and I will travel to between 15 and 20 venues throughout the entire nation. We will present Gospel meetings and seminars within reach of every congregation of the Lord’s church in the country. We do this annually. Along the way, we have additional teaching opportunities such as teaching high school students and taping TV programs.

I will have my mobile office with me, and when electricity is available, I’ll fire it up in the mornings before the day begins or in the evenings before I retire for the night. Occasionally, I will also have Internet available, which not only will afford me some contact with family and coworkers, but will facilitate transmission of some of the literary projects on which I will be working. For instance, I haven’t even begun working as of yet on the February edition of Gospel Gazette Online; I have just been too busy with other time-sensitive activities.

I’m thankful for the Christians and congregations of the churches of Christ who have made it possible for me to engage in all of these activities, including this mission trip to Guyana. The trip out of the country, if our Lord permits, will last from January 30 through March 8. Prayers will be appreciated.

Dear Diary

January 6, 2016
Rebecca & Raymond at Grenada Lake (MS)

Rebecca & Raymond at Grenada Lake (MS)

Saturday, January 2, Rebecca and I drove our respective cars from Winona, MS to her Collierville, TN home. She needed to get back home so she would be in place to resume teaching school on Monday, and I was headed to her house to use it as a way station, so I would be in place for a Sunday afternoon preaching appointment.

We made a couple of stops along the way: $1.48 for gas at Murphy USA in Batesville, MS (that was with my 5 cents per gallon discount for using the Walmart credit card), Texas Roadhouse in Horn Lake, MS for “lupper” (too late to be lunch and too early to be supper) and a semi-fruitless stop at a retailer.

Sunday morning, Rebecca and I worshipped at her home congregation, the Collierville Church of Christ. Instead of attending that church’s 1:30 p.m. second service, my daughter and I instead headed out to my 3:30 p.m. appointment with the East Frayser Church of Christ on the north side of Memphis, TN. The former brethren support my missionary efforts monthly, whereas the latter brethren participate with me annually when I visit and occasionally at other times throughout the year. Both churches are a delight with whom to worship God in spirit and in truth; both congregations are great encouragers to me.

Monday, I headed back south the two hours to my Winona home, the parsonage-like arrangement afforded me and for which I am thankful. Stops along the way included purchasing some equipment for my impending mission trip at the end of the month, and of course, buying gas once more. Not only did I feed the car, but I fed me a “lupper” meal at Cracker Barrel in Batesville.

Tuesday, much of the day was consumed traveling the two hours south from Winona to the south side of Jackson, MS for a dental appointment, the appointment itself and the return trip. Apparently, I needed a couple more holes in my head!

I felt so good Tuesday, I remarked silently to myself. I didn’t even wear the wrist brace for my left hand to stave off the excruciating pain that often affects my fingers. My back problems were under control; nothing hurt. However, my fingers hurt all night – entirely disrupting my sleep, and neither over the counter nor prescription meds could diminish the acute, sharp nerve pain. All day Wednesday and into the night, the pain persists. I only hope that wearing the brace day and night for a few days will bring order back to my universe. Now is not the time to consider carpal tunnel surgery as I’m about to leave, Lord willing for five weeks in Guyana, South America; I fly out of Memphis on Saturday, January 30 and return March 8.

Despite painfulness, I managed to make a bank deposit, prepare and mail “Thank You” cards to donors and a few other things. Keeping busy is actually a distraction from the pain and is working better than medicine presently. Other sundry things, naturally, drew my attention at the office, too. For Bible class, I communed with the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. As I write this blog entry, it is nearly 11 p.m. I’ve answered correspondence, tended to finances (and realized that I left a receipt for gasoline hanging on the gas pump 35 miles away) and done some domestic chores before I entertain slumber.

Especially tonight, my “blog entry” sounds a lot like “Dear Diary” scribbles. Well, at least whether anyone is interested or reads it, I’m persuaded that it is good therapy for me. Otherwise, it’s almost like being here alongside of me for those who may tune in, follow me (maybe pray for me) and from time to time express encouragement to me.

(The picture above is of Rebecca and one of my sons, Raymond, during the Christmas holiday. I took Raymond – and Rebecca – to Grenada (MS) Lake, but somebody moved it! A lot of it was missing!)

Postscript: By the way, my birthday was Sunday, January 3, too. Nothing special; just another day. It was special, though, because it was the Lord’s Day. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m 62-years-old now.

Christmas Day to New Year’s Day

January 1, 2016
Bonnie, Rebecca & Louis (1975)

Bonnie, Rebecca & Louis (1975)

My son Raymond and my daughter Rebecca made my Christmas Day a much better time than I am sure it otherwise would have been without them. My dear beloved Bonnie who passed away in May would have been 59-years-old this December 25th had she lived till then. Without my children for my benefit and without each of us encouraging each other, the holiday time and birthday time might have bordered on unbearable. We leaned on each other. I didn’t roll out even a single Christmas decoration that for 40 years I had done for my dear wife. Having two of my children with me was all the decoration I needed.

Sunday the 27th, we three drove out to the Old Union Church of Christ meetinghouse earlier than time for Bible class to begin. We purposely afforded ourselves some quiet moments at Bonnie’s gravesite in the cemetery adjoining the quaint, old, white-framed chapel. This was the first time that Raymond had seen the double headstone atop his mother’s grave; someday I presume that my lifeless body will lie once more adjacent to that of my Bonnie.

I was happy to worship with the church family and friends that regularly assemble in the little building and in the clearing amidst the woods and kudzu vines. Not one brother or sister is pretentious but humbly and simply interested only in worshipping God unapologetically in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Following lunch at the local Winona, MS Chinese restaurant, Raymond loaded the rental car in which he had ridden from Ohio to return thereto. With gladness I greeted his arrival and with a tinge of sadness I watched as he drove away. About 11 hours later, he texted that he had arrived safely.

Monday, I spent several thousand dollars with very little effort. I wired program money to Guyana, South America for the upcoming Annual Nationwide Guyanese Seminars, which will be conducted throughout that country within reach of every congregation of the churches of Christ in Guyana. Lord willing, I depart the USA for that venue on January 30 and return to the States on March 8.

In addition, I mailed a check to India for evangelistic work by one of the seasoned and faithful nationals, an outstanding worker for the Lord. Other funds via check were sent to a stateside world evangelist to hand deliver funds later this year to another locality in India, which will provide for the purchase of Bibles in one of the 800 dialects of that vast nation.

Not done spending money yet, I made substantial deposits over the phone via a credit card for the printing of two of my books. Both of them will be ready in January, which will enable me to take a several of each with me to Guyana – an English speaking country. One tome of 304 pages is titled, Christianity: An Explanation. The shorter volume of 232 pages is Preaching the Whole Counsel of God to the Whole World, and it is comprised of well-organized, full-sentence sermon outlines, mostly about Jesus Christ and His parables.

I still found time to work a little on one of the future volumes of The Voice of Truth International. In addition, from time to time I worked on the first 2016 issue of Gospel Gazette Online.

The next three days, Rebecca and I along with Jerry and Paula Bates as well as Betty Choate prepared packets containing the magazine Global Harvest and other pieces of Christian literature for mailing. Wednesday evening, the Bates and Rebecca and I visited a restaurant in Stewart, MS together to which none of us had ever been. After supping, we continued down to the outskirts of French Camp, MS to assemble with the good brethren of the Huntsville Church of Christ for Bible class.

Thursday, New Year’s Eve wasn’t anything special for Rebecca and me. Though we were awake when the New Year arrived, we were immersed in this or that and didn’t even turn the television on to see how people around the world greeted 2016.

Friday (New Year’s Day) began with an oddity– staying in bed much later than is typical for me. I probably also started a trend to be repeated throughout 2016 when I just had to stop later in the day at the local Walmart. The primary reason for going shopping was to purchase some OxiClean stain remover; New Year’s Eve I discovered that an ink pen had spewed blue ink all over in the dryer and on a load of wash. Rebecca and I spent quite a while experimenting with different solvents and elbow grease to clean up the dryer drum as best we could, but we opted for OxiClean powder and spray, too, hoping for the best before washing again the affected garments. Well, we had mixed results, but we were fortunate, for instance, that we were laundering dark clothes, several of which were casualwear instead of whites, towels or my dress shirts.

In addition, I replaced my toaster; the former toaster that I had used for decades was burning my electrical wall outlet because the cord was overheating. I didn’t want the toaster to be lonely, so I bought an electric can opener, too. Actually, the hand crank can opener fastened to the wall was serviceable and old, but at the same time inconvenient.

More importantly, I published today the January edition of Gospel Gazette Online, now beginning its 18th year on the Internet. Furthermore, I proofed several chapters of an upcoming class book. Some of these things become very tedious, but I enjoy working with text and doing layout, especially since the outcome is intended for spiritual edification of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Rebecca has been helping me with the finances, particularly with respect to the Rushmore Evangelism Fund. She filled in for me during my 2-month absence for my fall mission trip, and she understands some of the details involved in the software better than I do; that is especially important as we prepare to provide the IRS mandated documentation to 2015 donors. The best I could do to repay her was for us to share a meal at the Huddle House, a restaurant (diner) to which she had never been.

As I write this, a new day is approaching rapidly. It will have its own character. Rebecca and I plan to drive to her home so she will be in place for teaching school on Monday and so I will be positioned for a Sunday morning jaunt to a Memphis speaking appointment. Of course, we will have to eat along the way (at one of my favorite restaurants) before arriving at Rebecca’s domicile. We are also making a delivery of Gospel literature on Saturday in the metropolitan Memphis area.

I remain one who intends always to offer our Lord my best as long as I live, but who also repents when life’s struggle (Romans 7:19) gets the better of me and I miss the mark (Romans 7:23). Lord help me to train my eyes only on the heavenly horizon as this weary pilgrim marches ever forward, attempting to keep himself between the ditches of sin on either side of the straight and narrow highway to glory.