Archive for the ‘Children’ category

My Three Aren’t Wee Anymore

August 3, 2019

A few days ago, I surrendered over 150 old slides to Walmart (it farmed it out to one of its contractors, apparently). I wanted to explore converting numerous trays of slides into digital photographs to preserve them as well as to use some of them perhaps in upcoming publications. They’re not all family pictures, but there are scenery pics and teaching material (e.g., archaeological slides). The first batch recovered an old photo of Bonnie and my three children on the brink of Niagara Falls on the US side. How things have changed. I suspect Rebecca will be the least amused, but that will amuse me.

Happy Days!

September 2, 2018

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Martha and I have enjoyed some happy days of late. Of course, we’re always glad when Rebecca can visit us in Winona, Mississippi. Sometimes, though, we visit her in Collierville, Tennessee—often using her home as a waystation in travels for speaking appointments west of the Mississippi, north and east. For a few days, however, Raymond and his wife Crystal with two precious grandchildren in tow came by to visit us. Oh, how we played with the little ones—4-years-old and 2-years-old. There was some liveliness in this little cottage, the likes of which unknown in recent time. Balls, firetrucks, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, dollhouse, wooden blocks, cornhole, Scrabble and such provided merriment for one and all. A side trip to a small, local park amused all of the kids—of all ages.

Rebecca made brownies and pizzas—with “help” from Elaina and Bryson. Each child made a personal-sized pizza, too. Sunday, we worshipped together at the Old Union Church of Christ. On our trek across gravel roads and through the woods on our way to the meetinghouse, we dodged—not wildlife—but a stray, young steer that seemed to have nowhere to go except to mosey down the center of the country lane. I thought we might see some deer or wild turkeys, but the domesticated critter was a surprise. Returning to Winona, we reconvened at the Chinese restaurant for a delicious buffet meal. All too soon, having finished lunch, Raymond, Crystal, Elaina and Bryson headed toward their home in Ohio. Later, our son Robert called from Florida to top off the day. “Family” is another word for “love.”

Camping in Guyana

February 10, 2017

January 24—We arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport near Georgetown, Guyana, South America about 10:30 p.m. Brother Nigel Milo met us and drove us to his home in Linden, which I call Milo’s Bed and Breakfast.

We were met at the door by sister Jasmine Milo, sporting her beautiful smile while welcoming Louis and me. She also had a late supper of eggs and toast. We enjoyed a couple of hours with lots of laughs as we were getting to know one another. They also have a ten-year-old son Zab; he is the sweetest young man. We are now claiming him, too, as one of our grandsons.

January 25—Now to the camping trips we have been taking. First, we flew to the Village of Paramakatoi, all seven of us—including the pilot. The small plane had holes for air in the windows, but they also let in water from the rain clouds through which we flew. What a new experience for me! Many of the villagers, cows, donkeys, horses and dogs (the scrawniest I have ever seen) came out to greet us. The people in this area are Amerindian.

The first place we saw was the local one-room “Wal-Mart,” post office and airport. One entrepreneur named Sam runs this business. He was very kind to us. We told him we had just gotten married, and he gave us a wedding gift of two pineapple fruit juices.

The Amerindians have very few amenities. We have more in the States when we go camping. At least when we go camping in the US, we have flushing toilets! Instead, we had outhouses. There certainly were no dishwashers either. We took our showers, pouring water on us from a bowl dipped from a bucket; then, we lathered up with soap and rinsed off in cold water—unless we heated it on the stove. Yes, we stayed in a nice corner room with windows on both sides; this was the AC. We also had a mesh mosquito net to use at night to keep from being bait for the insects, especially the mosquitos. They seem to love Louis and me. We must be very sweet! Louis is so glad to share me for their breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks. Isn’t he so nice?

The village guesthouse had toilets, but they did not work because the piping needed to be fixed. So, to the outhouse we went. This was not bad except at night. I did not like going out at night because I was somewhat worried about the slithering reptiles.

96-dpi-4x6-paramakatoi-2On our way to the church building, we had to walk in pouring down rain. We were soaked, even though wearing our rain ponchos—my yellow, Pittsburgh Steelers rain gear prompting Louis to say that I looked like a duck. We spent Wednesday night singing and listening to Louis and brother Nigel Milo who each gave one talk on Jesus Our Example.” The brethren were very welcoming to us. The singing was really beautiful, and we sang old songs with which I grew up. This brought back a lot of childhood memories.

96-dpi-4x6-paramakatoi-12January 26-27—On Thursday and Friday mornings, all three of us taught lessons. I had the ladies, and I really enjoyed them. I had some children, and I did a short Bible story for them to make them seem special and part of the class. I could not leave them out. With the children, I did the “Days of Creation,” and for the ladies, we did the Book of Ruth. The ladies sang the chorus of two songs for me in their native, tribal language. I pray our efforts at Paramakatoi were prosperous for the Lord.

After Friday’s session, we flew from Paramakatoi to Mahdia airport, and then we got on board another plane to fly back to Ogle. From Ogle, brother Nigel was our chauffeur back to Linden—to the Milo B & B. Louis says, “We fly low with Milo.”

January 29—On Sunday, we worshipped with the brethren of the Amelia Ward Church of Christ, where brother Milo is the preacher. Louis taught Bible class, and the preacher from the Coomacka congregation did the lesson. The brethren from this congregation came for worship. Louis spoke Sunday evening.

January 30—On Monday morning, Nigel, Louis and I, along with some of the ladies from church, went out to do some door knocking and Bible studies that were set up. We split up in threes. We worked until about 12:00.

That same evening, I had the pleasure of teaching the ladies’ class for the Amelia’s Ward congregation. We had a very good class, and I had a lot of participation. We also studied the Book of Ruth, and then I asked them some Bible trivia questions. I felt so rewarded.

I cannot believe that while teaching I did not realize how hot it was in the building. I was told by one of my coworkers that I would not realize how hot it was while teaching. She was right. I cannot believe how fast the nervous jitters went away as I started teaching. This has been a great lesson for me.

My prayer and my goal is always to glorify God. My second goal is to edify those around me.

Moco Moco Village

February 3, 2017

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Martha Lynn and I were in Lethem and Moco Moco Village in Guyana, South America from January 31 through today, February 3. Before boarding our Cessna Caravan for the return trip to the coastland, Martha and I crossed into Brazil long enough to have our picture snapped beside signs marking the international border between the two nations.

We lodged for several days in the Takutu Hotel in Lethem, which is undergoing major renovation and expansion. Tuesday evening after our arrival in Lethem as well as morning, afternoon and evening for the next two days, Martha and I communed with the Moco Moco Village Church of Christ, which hosted our seminar in that area this year. Several visitors from that Amerindian village and brethren from other congregations of the Lord’s church attended, too. This time out, Martha taught ladies classes on two occasions, as well teaching children within the larger classes also. It was my pleasure to speak nine times, and brother Nigel Milo presented about the same number of lessons as I did. Our theme this year is “Emulation of Jesus Christ.” Before leaving on Friday, we also visited the Lethem-St Ignatius Church of Christ.

We have now completed two of our 16 confirmed locations for 2017 for our seminars throughout all 10 regions of Guyana; additional venues are pending. Tonight, we are washing clothes, but tomorrow we will travel to #77 Housing Scheme along the coast and south of Georgetown—about a four-hour automobile ride from Linden, which is our base of operations. Tomorrow evening, Lord willing, we will lodge in a Georgetown hotel to position us for a morning departure on Sunday by small plane to be with the Monkey Mountain Church of Christ for several days for our seminar.

Other than being tired—I hate to admit that our ages may be slowing us down just a little—our only other complaint is a probable urinary tract infection, which we are treating with antibiotics brought from the USA for such or a similar scenario. We will increase our water intake, too, and drink down some cranberry juice.

Well, it seems that Martha Lynn and I are honeymooning in tropical Guyana, having wed on New Year’s Day. We have not only adjusted well to each other, since we have been friends already for decades, but we have thoroughly enjoyed everywhere we have gone. We are particularly elated with the warm reception that we have received from brethren in each congregation that we have visited. Yes, we are spoiling a few children along the way before returning them to their parents. We are still having a blast!

Work Day, Load Day, Boy Song Leaders

March 31, 2016

loaded vanWednesday, March 30 was a multifaceted day. First thing, brother Jerry Bates and I loaded my van from the back bumper to the front seats with literature and Bibles; the seats fold completely under the floor, and I readied them for this purpose before I left the house. Included in the load were about 2,000 copies of volume 86 of The Voice of Truth International, the one with memorial information for Bonnie Rushmore on the back cover. These will be distributed to every congregation in Guyana, South America and used for outreach among non-Christians. Also, thousands of tracts and 40 Bibles are in the mix, and these are being sent on behalf of a congregation in Florida to a missionary they support in Mabaruma. Thousands of additional tracts, hundreds of books (mostly for preachers and church leaders), songbooks, lectureship books, miscellaneous Christian books, communion cups and suchlike are aboard as well. My little freighter will haul all of it to a shipping company in Nashville, TN for shipment to Guyana.

Rushmore Newsletter March 30Around 10 a.m., several Christians from the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS arrived at the World Evangelism Building to help prepare the Rushmore Newsletter for mailing. Counting sister Paul and brother Jerry Bates and myself, there were a total of eight of us. Ages ranged from a precocious 10-year-old to “none of your business.” Together, we made short work of the job, enabling me to get it to the Post Office the same day. We rewarded ourselves with takeout pizza that I fetched from the local Pizza Hut.

In addition, I rewarded myself with a little nap back at the house, though I didn’t actually go to sleep. I was unable to sleep very well the night before, and besides, I wanted to clean up after the day’s activities, especially loading and reloading my van. The tire sidewalls were touching the pavement and the tires were rubbing the car body sometimes. I unloaded some things – not my shipment – and Jerry and I redistributed the weight more evenly. I still drug the bottom of the car in a parking lot later in the day.

West President Boys SongleadingWednesday evening, I assembled with the saints at the West President Church of Christ. The evening was dedicated to young boys practicing being in front of the congregation and “leading” some songs. I snapped a picture of a cutie with my camera phone. A Christian youth also presented the devotional and extended the Lord’s invitation. It’s good being with God’s people, irrespective of the occasion for the coming together. Of course, it is good to groom young people for future service and devotion to the Lord’s church.

Thursday, I start out for a several-day road trip, making a huge circle, to Tupelo, MS; Nashville, TN and Huntsville, AL. Have computer, will travel and set up my office anywhere I please. The workday and the place varies, but I live to serve irrespective of the task at hand or where it may be. Thank you for making that possible.


North Road and Amelia’s Ward Seminars

March 6, 2016

96 dpi 4x6 North RoadWednesday, March 2 in the morning, several from the Amelia’s Ward congregation and I did “field work” in Linden, as is the custom of that church three days a week each week. Later that evening the North Road Church of Christ in Georgetown, Guyana hosted our seminar. Approximately 90 brethren from several surrounding congregations assembled for presentations by brother Wilbur Vyphuis and me; brother Wilbur is the preacher for that congregation. He, brother Nigel Milo and I have been traveling for five weeks throughout Guyana to every region (comparable to states). In each location we have encouraged brethren, contributed to their heightened Bible knowledge and prompted them to shoulder some of the responsibility for evangelizing their own country. Everywhere we have gone, we have been well received, and brethren have been thankful for the messages. The North Road site was no exception to that.

96 dpi 4x6 Seminar 1Thursday, the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ conducted the funeral for an elderly sister in Christ who had passed away; she was somewhere around 100-years-old, but no one is exactly sure since she like many other Amerindians then and after her birth were not afforded birth certificates. No surviving family member able or willing to step forward, the sister in Christ’s Christian brethren personally paid for and otherwise brought about all needed for a proper funeral and burial. Individual families contributed money or goods, and several Christian men even built her a coffin to the specifications of the departed one’s small stature. Christians showed themselves to be the family of God. At a previous time, these brethren financed and literally built the same sister a small house in which to live so as to alleviate the dire circumstances in which she was living.

96 dpi 4x6 Seminar 2Friday once more, Amelia’s Ward brethren and I did field work (i.e., Bible studies in the community in people’s homes, visiting the bereaved, visiting the homebound, etc.). Afterward, sister Jasmine and brother Nigel Milo, along with their son Zab and I, made a trek back into Georgetown. (I snapped a picture of recess in the schoolyard where children were having the time of their lives rolling used tires around the playground.) The purpose was to retrieve some shirts that I had ordered weeks earlier. On some T-shirts was screen printed “Monkey Mountain Church of Christ – Romans 16:16,” and on others was printed “Paramakatoi Church of Christ – Romans 16:16.” Those two congregations assemble in remote areas in the jungle interior of Guyana, and I wanted to encourage them; they can wear the shirts as members share tracts with the community.

96 dpi 4x6 Worship 2In addition, I had Jerseys embroidered with “World Evangelism, Churches of Christ, Romans 16:16.” These were intended for presenters in the annual nationwide seminar throughout Guyana. Not only we three presenters this year, but each Guyanese brother who presented lessons in previous years also will receive one of the shirts.

96 dpi 4x6 schoolyardNext, the Milos and I went to a new, world-class mall in Georgetown. The first order of business there was go to the food court. Collectively, we ate food from three restaurants. For dessert, I treated at the Dairy Queen. I was in high-hog heaven (whatever that means) with my Peanut Buster Parfait (only I substituted salted pecans in place of the peanuts). Uuumm-good! Soft-serve ice cream, genuine hot fudge and pecans. I introduced Jasmine and Zab to Blizzards; Jasmine was won over, but Zab’s eyes were too big for his belly. Nigel doesn’t care for sweets (the more for the rest of us!).

96 dpi 4x6 Worship 1Sometimes mission work includes redistributing the wealth rightfully belonging to the Lord. In that vein, before leaving the mall, we purchased a 120” retractable screen for the Amelia’s Ward meetinghouse and a large slow cooker to more efficiently feed campaigners from America who go to Linden each summer. We tested the screen, mounted center stage, on Saturday and Sunday; we tested the slow cooker for Sunday’s lunch. Both were validated a wonderful success.

96 dpi 4x6 Worship 3Friday evening, the monthly Marriage Fellowship forum gathered and continued until nearly midnight. I was exhausted almost to the point of illness before climbing into bed. The in between times of noteworthy activity, I feverishly work in my mobile office, often atop my bed and comforted by the room AC or at the dining room table in direct line with a floor standing fan aimed right at me. Nearly worn out in mind as well as in body, I accomplished a lot of preparation (i.e., editing, proofing and layout) for future printing of literature.

96 dpi 4x6 Worship 4Saturday was the occasion of the seminar at the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ in Linden. Again, several local congregations converged on the grounds as brethren Wilbur Vyphuis and Nigel Milo and I made our presentations. Perhaps the weariness I have been feeling lately can be attributed to the cumulative effects of five weeks of traveling (via small plane, boats and land transportation) sometimes non-stop (while at other times more recently a day or two intervening). Of course, there is the weather to consider, too. Hopefully by the time I return to the USA I will have escaped most of the winter coldness that I left behind in January. The heat and humidity, though, sometimes presents an opposite challenge. It’s all good!

Sunday was “Friends and Family Day” at the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ. I taught in Bible class “Let Us Go into the House of the Lord” from Psalm 122:1. Bible class, worship and fellowship meal ran from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.! Often when worshipping with foreign brethren, I feel a little closer to God than at other times in other places as they invest time and emotion in worshipping God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Saturday and Sunday I tried in vain to snap some photos of some of the cutest little ones, but they were too fast for me, evidently with all boosters engaged! A couple beautiful babies did allow me to hold them, and they were in no hurry to return to familiar arms. I did snap one picture of a fast little one running about after church when she paused momentarily to shift gears.

One more day of seminar remains for Monday. Tuesday, Lord willing, I spend the day aboard two jetliners hoping from Georgetown to Miami to Memphis. I should arrive in my daughter’s suburban Memphis home (Collierville, TN) in time to turn in for the night. Ah! This is the life, and I hope that I am doing my little part as a tool in the hands of God. Thank you for helping to make it possible.


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.

Weary Weekend Warriors

January 25, 2014

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Weekend Warriors can refer to a lot of different scenarios depending upon the context under consideration. We had our share of weary, Winona, weekend warriors Saturday, January 25, 2014. Several families from the Collierville, TN Church of Christ made their annual descent on the World Evangelism Building. They helped us attend to some of the things we can’t seem to find time to do on our own as we apply ourselves to various other aspects of our domestic and overseas evangelism.

We had one member of the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ in Jackson, MS (besides Bonnie and me) who came up, too; he met up with his sister, brother-in-law and niece who came from Collierville. Of course, Betty Choate was there as well—bringing the total present for the workday to 20. Our youngest helper was 4-years-old; she really did help some and did a lot of playing, also. Other than three teenagers, the balance ranged from young adults to 82-years-old.

All of us fellowshipped in a number of ways. We worked together, and we ate together. It was a gloriously, good time while doing some of the chores behind the scenes in stateside and worldwide evangelism.

The tasks accomplished included a partial inventory of books, The Voice of Truth International invoice mailing preparation, preparation and packaging of shipments of sample The Voice of Truth International magazines to book stores and schools of preaching, preparation and packaging of The Voice of Truth International and other literature to churches of Christ throughout the Philippines, shredding unneeded financial reports, restocking books on the racks from which we draw to fulfill requests for literature, inventorying over 100 tract titles, cleaning, trimming the shrubs outside, shrink wrapping and cataloging books printed stateside and overseas, relocation of old or non-functioning computer equipment, ordering a refurbished internal part for a color LaserJet printer, transferring computer files from a retired computer to a new computer as well as setting up the new computer’s email program, preparation of a mailing for sister Choate to prospective donors, restocking of tract bins from which we fulfill requests for literature, stitching together three short videos for Betty Choate to be used at the opening of a meetinghouse for the Lord’s church in Pakistan, and counting and rubber banding packets of 25 tracts to facilitate easier fulfillment of requests. The jobs were varied, and there was something for everyone.

We have groups from various congregations visit us for workdays throughout each year, and we greatly appreciate each one, but no bunch of Christians are more enthusiastic than those from the Collierville Church of Christ. They no more than finish one task and they are begging for the next job that they might seek to accomplish. Any group of Christians who come to help do weeks worth of needful activities in a smidgeon of the time it would take the five of us (Betty Choate, Jerry and Paula Bates, Louis and Bonnie Rushmore) who live daily in Winona and work in the World Evangelism Building.

Everyone worked hard, except maybe for me; I was here and there, and I stole away to remake a page of the next issue of The Voice of Truth International that didn’t turn out right; then, I resubmitted it as an attachment to email to the printing company in South Carolina. Some of the youngsters played hard, including hide-and-seek; we either have some LARGE mice with pretty brown eyes and cute noses, or our 4-year-old visitor was peeking out of her hiding place.

PTP Sidebar: The Six-Year-Old Inspector

August 31, 2013

Root Beer MugRecently, Bonnie and I, along with about 3,200 other Christians and their children, attended the weeklong Polishing the Pulpit program in Sevierville, Tennessee. One evening, Bonnie and I were eating supper at the Cracker Barrel restaurant. Unexpectedly, a seven-year-old little girl came up to Bonnie who was seated and immediately embraced her with a full bear hug; she was one of the sweethearts Bonnie had been teaching for several days. Tagging along with her was her six-year-old brother, also someone that Bonnie and I had been teaching daily. Abruptly, he said to me, “What is that you are drinking?” Surprised, I responded, “Root Beer.” “Beer,” he said, peering at my frosted mug and brown root beer bottle. Hastily, I replied, “It’s not beer! It’s not beer!” No sooner had I explained myself to the six-year-old inspector when he darted back to his own table, seeking validation of either his suspicion or my defense. He promptly asked his mother and father as well as his grandmother and grandfather, “Is it alright to drink root beer?” Then, he returned with his child’s cup in hand to show me what he was drinking.

I was innocent this time, but even small children are watching with examining little hearts and evaluating what they see in comparison to what they have been taught. Each of us needs to be careful with our Christian influence. Sometimes we are not innocent, are we?

The apostle Paul exhorted, “…be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV). Each of us needs to be able to say as Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). If we conscientiously behave ourselves as Christians ought to behave themselves, we and other faithful Christians can confidently exclaim, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Philippians 3:17-18). After all, the apostle John exhorted concerning Jesus Christ, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). Jesus left us an example that we might follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).

Whose little eyes are watching you? What example are you exhibiting?

2013 Polishing the Pulpit

August 30, 2013

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Bonnie and I arrived in the early afternoon at Polishing the Pulpit (PTP) on Saturday, August 24. Sevierville, Tennessee – adjacent to Pigeon Forge and not far from Gatlinburg – is a beautiful part of the country for sure. Whereas in former years we were able to enjoy some of the Smokey Mountain surroundings for a day or so following PTP, this year we crammed the weeklong activities between two of Bonnie’s chemotherapies. We were fully engaged during PTP and had to rush back to Mississippi to afford Bonnie her chemo on Friday morning.

Bonnie and I tended children of all ages each day. Bonnie assisted with 4- and 5-year-olds from as early as 7:45 a.m. to lunchtime. We, but especially Bonnie, presented a hands-on missions presentation for an hour each of two days; dozens of children pawed our exhibit and tasted the chapatti that Betty Choate had made for the occasion. Perhaps the one item that elicited the most interest from these little ones was The Voice of Truth International produced in Braille. Each morning I roved from class to class teaching Bible Geography to children as young as 4-year-olds up to 11-year-olds.

In the afternoons, Bonnie taught our program of Buckets of Bible Time, where youngsters are called upon to arrange in sequential order three red buckets labeled with “Patriarchy,” “Judaism” and “Christianity.” Then, they are asked to place three dimensional objects (e.g., cars, airplane, dinosaurs) and laminated cards depicting Bible characters in the appropriate buckets. The catch is that some characters belong in more than one time period (e.g., Moses, the apostles) and Jesus Christ does not belong in Christianity. In addition, Bonnie responded to the invitation to help out with children in the evening, too.

Afternoons from 1:30 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. or after, it was my sheer pleasure to assist other preachers who taught 21 budding young men from the ages of 10 to 14 how to prepare and to deliver a devotional. All of them did very well and deserve commendation; some did exceedingly well. One or two could easily serve as an “opening act” (to borrow a phrase from entertainment) preceding a keynote address by a seasoned brother at PTP in the future. I graduated somewhat in 2013 at PTP and was privileged additionally to have an adult class one evening. My assignment concerned the use of printed material in the mission field.

Between working with children, we did attend a few lectures, set up and managed our two display tables, and conversed with numerous people. Some of these brethren we only see at programs such as this, while others are our supporters and encouragers. We sold a few books, gave every budding preacher boy one or more books and distributed some The Voice of Truth International in two languages.

I spied a little tyke who may not have been potty trained yet, but who was an expert already with modern technology. He was mesmerized with a game on a cell phone. His little thumbs were working, and he was sliding his finger across the screen to manipulate the pictures. I was dumbfounded! Is there any hope for me?

The first snafu upon arriving at the Wilderness Hotel and Convention Center was learning that our lodging reservation had been cancelled and that there was no room in the inn. That we would not arrive on Friday was apparently not conveyed by PTP personnel to the hotel, and so staff there cancelled our reservation and gave our room to someone else when we were a “no show” on Friday. We were counting on being in the hotel so Bonnie could resort to the room for rest as needed. The hotel relented and rented us one of the two emergency rooms it had put back in case something went wrong. It seemed that we walked the length of a football field to an elevator that took us two floors below the main floor. Fifteen rooms are nestled in this subbasement adjacent to the loading dock and driveway for vending and laundry. Some bugs knew where our room was located even if housekeeping occasionally did not remember.

Whining aside, the accommodations were very much appreciated, and the hotel room at the convention center afforded Bonnie rest at lunchtime and supper each day, besides restful sleep. We ate two meals daily in our room and ate out once every day, twice as guests of the generosity of other brethren.

Thursday morning, Bonnie tended to small children until the conclusion of the PTP program. I packed our clothes, food and mobile office, and then loaded the car with those things. Next, I sat in on the speeches of seven of our young preacher prodigies as they made public presentations to parents and friends. Finally, Bonnie and I packed our displays and books for our return trip to Winona, MS. About 1 p.m. we pointed the limping Town & Country toward Mississippi. About eight hours later, we pulled into our driveway, positioned for a morning departure on Friday to get Bonnie to her next chemo appointment.

Tired, yes. Gratified, yes. Bonnie and I earnestly desire to serve the Lord to our fullest always in this life and as long as life persists and permits. Triage of looming efforts include contacting and confirming speakers for the April 2014 India Missions Conference, rent a car at the Pittsburgh, PA airport for our northeastern appointments in two weeks, purchase airline tickets for my fall mission trip to Myanmar (Burma) in October, work on Gospel Gazette Online for September and October, work on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International and bring it to fruition before departing for Asia, prepare my lessons for three weeks in Myanmar (four to six hours daily), prepare and rehearse sermons and classes for two congregations for which I will speak this weekend, mow the grass (it’s been four weeks), prepare six months of classes for Wednesday nights at the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ that commence upon my return from Asia, and try and deposit our bucking, sputtering van at a dealership for much needed nurture while away in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia; yesterday, the car’s odometer exceeded 173,000 miles. Like me, some of its body parts don’t work right anymore!

I dare say that a few other more routine matters will cry for attention as well. We will triage one and all as needed. It is time for us to send another newsletter, but I’m not sure we can squeeze one out at this time. Thank you for your continued interest in our efforts to serve our Lord stateside and especially abroad.