Archive for July 2016

Oddity in the Cemetery

July 31, 2016

This morning, I was the first one to arrive at the Old Union Church of Christ’s meetinghouse, out there in kudzu land traversing the gravel roads tunneling through the forest canopy in some places. When I first started dating Bonnie a few decades ago now, she lived with her family in the west Pennsylvania boondocks, accessible only via a series of dirt roads; now I find myself visiting her grave once more across dusty thoroughfares.

Arriving early afforded me a few moments to visit the site of her mortal repose. Strangely, the flowers from both urns and the flowers atop the monument were all lying on the ground adjacent to their respective placements. The strange part was that no other flowers in the entire cemetery were disturbed in the least. It was as though some rascal of a raccoon or a selective wind grasped the flowery adornments and lifted them from their resting places to simply deposit them neatly on the muddy earth. Puzzled, nevertheless, I reinstalled them in their locations, until such time as I can replace the soiled and weathered embellishments with fresh, artificial flowers.

Sunday morning, I worshipped with the Old Union congregation, and that evening, I assembled with the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. A new babe in Christ was born again at West President.

Today, was not a good day for me. I thought I was past the extreme grief and that I could worship without being overcome with our Christian music that emphasizes through its hymns death and eternity. I was mistaken and reduced to quivering tears once more. Comfort from some brothers in Christ, with arms around my shoulders, stabilized me in my moments of renewed weakness. This dark journey on which I reluctantly find myself is not over, and lacking the overpowering distraction of applying myself all waking moments in some engrossing activity leaves me vulnerable. When, why and where are imperceptible. Daily, I pray for other widowed saints of whom I am aware and for myself that we might be lifted from our grief and loneliness. I don’t know sometimes what is worse, the grief or the loneliness.

Newsletters, Newsletters, Newsletters

July 29, 2016

It may have never happened before, but this time the newsletters for Betty Choate, Jerry and Paula Bates, and me all arrived at the World Evangelism the same day. Hence, the repetitious title for this blog entry is “Newsletters, Newsletters, Newsletters.” Around 2,000 newsletters combined for Betty and for me were mailed today; the Bates will mail their newsletters on Monday.

Preparing these newsletters was not without some frustration as well as help to git’er done. Confusion over current tabbing procedures necessitated re-tabbing everything, and a handful of newsletters have five tabs on them! We were aided over the course of two days by brothers and sisters in Christ and some youngsters representing three area congregations of the Lord’s church. A little skeptical at first, the three young people helping me for a little bit – ranging in age from 10- to 12-years-old – were as or even more proficient and faster than some of the adults who helped.

In addition to the 1,028 copies of the Rushmore Newsletter that I mailed today, I also sent out 690 email newsletter links at just after midnight today. It is my hope and my prayer that not only will friends and brethren be aware of my efforts for the cause of Christ, but that many Christians will also offer prayers on my behalf in service of our Lord. Furthermore, I hope that some Christian families and churches of Christ will participate financially with me in my mission pursuits.

Plans are for me to depart for the Asian nations of Myanmar (old Burma) and India in the middle of October and to return to the USA about the third week of November. About two months later, if our Lord wills, I will leave the States once more, this time for several weeks in Guyana, South America.

Between now and my foreign trips, I have much work ahead of me – stateside travels and speaking appointments, publishing Gospel Gazette Online and The Voice of Truth International, and hauling around two tons of Christian literature (books and tracts) to Nashville, TN for shipment to Guyana. I won’t publish another Rushmore Newsletter until I return from Asia.

May our loving God shower you and me with His grace and mercy as we endeavor to be true followers of Him throughout life. To God be the glory in any faithful service that we may be able to offer for the cause of Christ.

Between Then and Now

July 27, 2016

The Sunday following the workday in Winona courtesy of the Booneville, MS Church of Christ on Friday, the Old Union Church of Christ in rural Carroll County, Mississippi (did I say rural – smothered in the woods and Kudzu traversed only by multiple gravel roads) hosted a Gospel meeting through Wednesday. I purposely did not schedule any appointments that weekend so that I could contribute my moral support to the Old Union congregation. I worship with that group of Christians Sunday mornings when I am not traveling stateside or abroad, and the locale has the meetinghouse sitting in the edge of a cemetery going back over 150 years. My dear Bonnie rests there in one of the most peaceful and picturesque settings on earth.

Friday, July 22, I reluctantly transported my loving daughter Rebecca back to her domicile in Collierville, TN. She needed to get back in place to attend training on Monday for the new school year, as well as put her classroom back in order before she has to return to work on August 1. Rebecca teaches 6th grade special education in the Desoto County, MS schools.

On the way, of course, we stopped at one of our favorite restaurants for a little Road Kill – a glorified hamburger, complemented with a house salad and a baked potato – at Texas Roadhouse in Horn Lake, MS. We did a little shopping afterward before proceeding to her house. I returned to Winona on Saturday, after Rebecca and I dined at another favorite eatery – Cracker Barrel.

Sunday, I once more taught class and preached in the morning for the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. In class, I spoke about “Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification and Sanctification.” During worship, I preached, “Come Meet Jesus Christ as Creator.”

Otherwise, I have been working diligently, along with others, on Volume 90 of The Voice of Truth International, which will be shipped in January 2017. I have been working on four additional printing projects and securing quotes for a fifth printing of Gospel literature for use on a South Pacific island. Gospel Gazette Online has garnered some of my time, but not nearly enough as the calendar pages turn relentlessly when it comes to the monthly publication of GGO. More than usual, triage has been the name of the game over the past few weeks and will be into the foreseeable future. One of the items to which I need to turn my attention immediately is the preparation for mailing of the July edition of the Rushmore Newsletter. Within two weeks, I need to apply for a visa to Myanmar (formerly Burma) and scout out airfare for my trips to that country and India.

Anyone tagging along on my blog of personal expression and life’s journey, I solicit your prayers. My journey is not ended yet, but I struggle onward – mostly struggling with myself – as long as life is in me. May we travel together on our respective excursions throughout life toward a city whose builder and maker is God.

Boonville Entourage Descend on Winona

July 15, 2016

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Today, a dozen members of the Boonville, MS Church of Christ descended on Winona, MS to help the Winona World Evangelism team of Betty Choate, Paula and Jerry Bates, and Rebecca and Louis Rushmore. Those attending ranged in age from teenage years to seniors of a different kind. Together, we successfully tackled several projects – most of which had to do with foreign mission work.

Some of the men, Rebecca and I prepared, marked, recorded on a computer shipping manifest and stacked 110 boxes of two issues of The Voice of Truth International. These will be shipped to Guyana, South America and distributed to all of the churches of Christ in that nation. Then, we marked and recorded on the shipping manifest numerous other boxes that had been prepared already; these boxes contain used songbooks, miscellaneous Christian literature and thousands of tracts. Total, we have about 1,800 pounds of literature ready for the next shipment to Guyana – probably in August when I haul it to the shipper in Nashville, TN.

Jerry Bates with helpers prepared “preacher boxes” to be shipped overseas at some future date. Jerry, many helpers and I prepared and packed four large boxes with The Voice of Truth International that will be shipped to the Philippines in a few weeks. Paula Bates with an array of helpers in a different part of the building sorted and prepared boxes of children’s literature to be shipped overseas.

Several of the men and a couple of the women helped Jerry and me to shift walls of various issues of The Voice of Truth International. So that we can make room for future incoming magazines and books, it is important to tighten the stock whenever the magazines and books are shipped out. However, everyone was “saved by the bell” so to speak when 3 p.m. arrived and our visitors had to depart for home. Before the next tractor trailer pulls up out front, we will with or without help shift the remaining boxes to accommodate the next influx of The Voice of Truth International, which will be Volume 89.

Of course, we paused in the middle of all the hustle and the bustle to enjoy a meal and fellowship together. Help like we had today enables the little crew at the World Evangelism Building to accomplish a whole lot more in short order than we could possibly do by ourselves. Thank you.

Sunday to Tuesday

July 13, 2016

96 dpi 4x6 laundrySunday, July 10 it was my good pleasure to speak for the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. During Bible class, I made my PowerPoint presentation about “2015 Asia & 2016 South America Mission Trips.” Neither visas nor passports were required! I’m almost positive that no one suffered jetlag, and anyone who might have fallen asleep did so based on other issues. For morning worship, I preached with the aid of PowerPoint once more, “The Deity of Christ.”

96 dpi 4x6 ceiling lightsTuesday evening, I was privileged to speak for the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS. Various speakers are participating daily in the congregation’s Gospel meeting this year, and I was delighted to be one of them. Brother Nathan Wright, preacher of the church, texted me to make sure everything was set for me speaking and to invite me for supper. I replied, “Tonight?!” I briefly considered texting additionally, “I’m in Alabama!” However, instead, I assured him that I was looking forward to supper and to the meeting. I was accompanied by sister Betty Choate as well as brother Jerry and sister Paula Bates; we are fellow team members of World Evangelism in Winona. Rebecca, my daughter, is still with me and attended the supper and Gospel meeting.

96 dpi 4x6 flashlightThose were the highlights over the past few days. In addition, I’m up to my elbows if not also up to my eyeballs in behind the scenes efforts for our Lord (e.g., printing projects, The Voice of Truth International, etc.). There is no lack of purpose in my life (and eternity), without which I would be adrift on so many levels.

96 dpi 4x6 frog signWhat? No pictures? There are not necessarily pics for every occasion. Nevertheless, there crop up from time to time as I travel around the country some photo opportunities that bring about a pause and some idle reflection. Take for instance the outdoor, motel Laundromat wedged between a soft drink machine and an ice machine in a breezeway. At a remodeled Dairy Queen along the byways traveled recently, Rebecca and I deliberated about the advisability, esthetics and safety of hanging electric cords from ceiling lights throughout the establishment tied up and shortened with garbage bag twisties. I guess someone’s car suffered a burned out license plate light, which the driver resolved by taping a flashlight to the trailer hitch and aiming it at the car tag. Finally, I parked my car adjacent to a private driveway sign that reads, “Frog Parking Only! All Others Will be TOAD!” Smile.

World Evangelism Annual Team Meeting & Such

July 9, 2016

96 dpi 4x6 annual meeting 1Tuesday evening July 5th, Rebecca and I pulled into my driveway in Winona, MS around 4 p.m. She had spent her birthday in the car with me traveling back from two Sundays of my preaching appointments in Florida. Wednesday was a catch-up day on so many levels and in so many ways. Thursday began the 2-day World Evangelism Annual Team Meeting in Winona. Several brothers and sisters in Christ traveled hundreds of miles to share field reports and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow stateside and foreign missionaries. Among the diverse efforts discussed to disseminate the Gospel at home and abroad were jail and prison ministries, radio, TV, Internet, foreign Bible schools, and overseas campaigns.

96 dpi 4x6 annual meeting 2Among those present were Betty Choate, Paula and Jerry Bates, Rebecca and Louis Rushmore, Barbara Oliver, Gordon Hogan, Larry Murdock, Janet and Wayne Barrier, James Lee, Barbara and James Jones, Joey Barrier, Baron Vander Maas, Ellen and Collin McKee, Madolyn and Gene Gibson, Robin Dunaway, Sadie and Therman Hodge, Dennis Larson, JoAn and L.T. Gurganus, and Gay and Byron Nichols. We are loosely affiliated, besides all being faithful members of the Lord’s church; amenable to the respective elderships under which we serve Jesus Christ in our various capacities and labors for the Lord, we nevertheless cooperate as opportunities present themselves to further the spread of the Gospel worldwide. Directly and indirectly through foreign brethren alongside of whom we work for the Lord, this crew makes the Gospel of Christ available to approximately two-thirds of the world’s population and participates in thousands of conversions each year.

96 dpi 4x6 annual meeting 3Virtually every get-together for special occasions (and often without any special occasion) among Christians involves eating with one another. The Annual Meeting was certainly no exception to that norm. On Thursday evening, we carpooled 18 miles away to the Carmack Fish House – a longstanding, yearly tradition for us. Of course, lunches and breakfasts back at the World Evangelism Building were delightful as well.

96 dpi 4x6 annual meeting 4In addition to general meetings in which field reports were presented and we encouraged each other, there were two special meetings in which core members of the World Evangelism Team participated. One of those was regarding The Voice of Truth International quarterly magazine that we publish in English and several foreign languages. The Editor, Byron Nichols is now 79-years-old, and he has opted to slow down some. Consequently, he has chosen to transfer much of his responsibilities to others. The outcome was that brother Nichols will become Editor Emeritus, Louis Rushmore will become the Editor and Jerry Bates will be the Associate Editor. These adjustments in duties will become effective with the publication of The Voice of Truth International volume 90; issue 89 is at the printers now. Brother Byron Nichols has edited VOTI for 25 years, and he will remain active with it for the foreseeable future.

96 dpi 4x6 annual meeting 5The second special meeting concerned the Into God’s World curriculum effort that has been in the works for some time. Four quarters of Teen study books – a year’s worth of lessons – have been completed, and they are ready to print. The writer for the series is brother Kevin Cauley; Robin Dunaway is project manager and Louis Rushmore is responsible for layout and production. Initially, one copy each of the first quarter book will be sent out to hundreds of congregations to acquaint them with the study and elicit orders for use in 2017.

Saturday, I completed the July edition of Gospel Gazette Online for publication to the Internet, and Rebecca finished proofing it. For a change, the holdup this time was me! I was the last one to have his or her article ready.

Looking ahead to the new week, Sunday I will speak for the Bible class and morning worship of the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS; two weeks later, I will speak at the same times again. Monday, I must attend to details for printing The Voice of Truth International volume 89 in Hong Kong, printing of Into God’s World literature, etc. in Minnesota and price thousands of tracts and Bibles for another mission work that intends to saturate 100% a South Pacific island nation. Tuesday evening, I am to speak in a Gospel meeting for the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS. I’m sure I will find enough worthy undertakings to fill the balance of my hours and days – so I won’t get bored!

Long Day in Jacksonville, Florida

July 3, 2016

Sunday, July 3, 2016 found my daughter Rebecca and me in Jacksonville, FL. We started the day out in Ocala, FL, where we had been from Monday evening last week until this morning. We spent some quality time with our dear friend and sister in Christ, Martha Noland. She was my late wife Bonnie Rushmore’s best friend, aside from our daughter Rebecca – and perhaps me, too. Martha was widowed about six months ago; her husband Bob had been an elder and a preacher over the years, and he was a friend of mine also.

On Wednesday, we three worshipped with the Central Church of Christ in Ocala. Otherwise over several days, we dined out, made abundant use of the pool – a first for me since I am skittish of more water than needed to shower – and did a little work around Martha’s home.

Sunday morning, though, Rebecca and I left at 7:23 a.m. and headed to Jacksonville, nearly two hours away. First, we met with the Chaffee Road Church of Christ. I made my PowerPoint presentation “2015—2016 Mission Trips” for Bible class and later preached with the aid of PowerPoint once more, “The Deity of Christ.” We were privileged to enjoy with these brethren a fellowship meal, preceding a second worship period, whereupon one of the elders presented a lesson.

We were wonderfully received. The Chaffee Road Church of Christ participates with me in my mission work, and it is a great encourager as well.

Sunday evening, Rebecca and I worshipped with the Riverview Church of Christ, where again, we were received so well. I presented “2015—2016 Mission Trips” for a second time during that congregation’s evening worship service. In the case of Riverview, individual families came forth to fund my mission efforts.

Incidentally, I spoke at both congregations today in the absence of their preachers. Last week I also spoke in the absence of the preacher with the church with which we worshipped outside of DeFuniak Springs, FL; next week and one additional week in July, I will be preaching for a Mississippi congregation in the absence of its preacher.

Tomorrow, on July 4th – Independence Day, Rebecca and I will begin our trek back to Winona, MS; we will divide the journey over two days. I hope that the holiday traffic is bearable and that we travel safely. July 5th, while we will also be traveling, Rebecca will experience an uneventful birthday, riding as front seat passenger alongside of me. We have been out and about for more than a week, and it’s time to return to Winona. Besides, we have guests coming to my home in connection with the annual team meeting of World Evangelism associates. Yes, I’m still working on the July edition of Gospel Gazette Online, and there are other activities calling for my attention – like preparation for speaking in a Gospel meeting next week, too. Never time to get bored, I press on and forward.