Archive for the ‘Worship’ category

Sunday—Monday

April 16, 2018

Sunday morning, April 15, Martha and I drove from Winona, Mississippi to Greenwood, Mississippi. It was my privilege to assemble once more with the brethren of the West President Church of Christ, and it was my honor to present a message from God’s Word during worship. I preached about “Bible Authority”—a fundamental message to Christian faith and practice. Nothing else I do is more enjoyable for me than to teach, preach or write biblical lessons. I set out to glorify God and to edify all present, including myself.

After lunch on the grounds following worship, Martha and I pointed the car toward the southside of Jackson, Mississippi. That afternoon, we met with the elders and deacons of the Siwell Road Church of Christ; the elders oversee Martha and me as we endeavor to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. That evening, we worshipped with our dear brethren at that congregation.

We were treated to supper at an eatery in Clinton, Mississippi after the assembly dismissed. Hence, we lodged in Clinton as well because I needed urgent dental attention, speedily scheduled for early Monday morning in Byram, Mississippi. As it turned out, I needed a root canal plus medicine for an infection and for pain.

Somewhat drugged, I passed the responsibility for driving to Martha. First, she drove two hours to Winona so we could hookup with our coworkers who returned from several weeks abroad in Asia; also, we repacked our suitcase, added more items to the minivan and headed for Florence, Alabama—Martha again at the wheel. It was her job to drive most of Monday, and apparently it was my job to whine and complain!

Finally, we arrived in Florence at Heritage Christian University—the site for the next three days of the annual Indian Missions Conference. After setting up a table of books and such, we made our way to the Quality Inn. Coincidentally, about the same time, brother Ricky Gootam and his son Justin drove into the same parking lot. We will be attending the program together and speaking on the program.

It has been a long day, and the days ahead will be filled from morning to evening. The weeks ahead call for us haul literature to Nashville, Tennessee for shipment to Guyana, South America; attend a missionary retreat in Hamilton, Alabama; and take Martha to Ocala, Florida for the graduation from high school by one of her granddaughters. Of course, it’s time to work on both publications—Gospel Gazette Online and The Voice of Truth International. Life is full and well appropriated. God be praised; we hope to serve our Lord faithfully on earth and happily anticipate an eternal home in God’s house.

Rushmore Newsletter

December 12, 2017

Sunday morning, November 10, Martha and I worshipped with the Old Union Church of Christ in the woods outside of Carrollton, Mississippi. I was privileged to teach about “The Inspiration of the Bible” for Bible class and preach “Imitating the Urgency of Jesus Christ” during worship. Several remained afterward for a fellowship meal. That evening, we assembled with the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, Mississippi. The week before, we worshipped with the Siwell Road Church of Christ on the southside of Jackson, Mississippi. The elders oversee our ministry and missionary efforts.

Finally, Monday, November 11, the last parts of our latest issue of the Rushmore Newsletter arrived in Winona. Betty Choate, Jerry and Paula Bates, and Martha and I processed it for mailing. We worked into the evening hours.

Tuesday, Martha and I loaded the van once more. We pointed the car toward Florida. Wednesday Martha has a medical checkup. My children as well as one of her sons and his family and we will enjoy the December holidays together. The last week of January, Martha and I tentatively will depart the USA again for Guyana, South America. Details are still being formulated, but we anticipate being gone six to eight weeks.

We brought plenty of work along with us, and there are many things to which we need to attend prior to leaving the country. My mobile office functions wherever I go. All I need is electricity and sometimes an Internet connection.

We remain tired, aging and aching, but moving forward for our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for your moral support and otherwise that keeps us going.

Staying Local – Almost

December 22, 2015
Rebecca, Louis, Bonnie (Myanmar 2010)

Rebecca, Louis, Bonnie (Myanmar 2010)

Friday, December 18 I completed most of the January 2016 edition of Gospel Gazette Online, now beginning its 18th year of publication on the Internet. Furthermore, I directed my attention to two new books of mine to be published over the next few weeks, and I also worked on preparation and layout for some articles to be published tentatively in volume 88 of The Voice of Truth International. Volume 86 just arrived a week or so ago, and volume 87 is at the printers now. So, it is time to work on the next edition. Not only so, but due to my absence again from the States January 30 through March 8, as well as Betty Choate’s absence from the Winona office February 8 through May 15, we may have to prepare for publication up to three future editions of VOTI before we respectively leave the country. Sister Betty is headed abroad to Asian countries, New Zealand and Tasmania, while I on the other hand am heading, Lord willing, to Guyana, South America for five weeks of seminars throughout the entire nation.

Friday evening, my daughter Rebecca finished up teaching school until after the holiday break. She left from school and came to my house, where she will be for the duration of her off days. Monday evening, my son Raymond surprised me by driving all the way down to Mississippi from Ohio. Tuesday, we three cleaned up the massive yard debris contributed by around 20 mature pine trees dotting the property – about five wheelbarrow loads of branches and numerous bushels of leaves and pine needles. While my children raked, I pulled a lawn sweeper behind my tractor lawnmower. That’s the most physical activity I have had since my nearly debilitating back pains had curbed all unnecessary physical exertions. Fortunately, after four months of increasingly heightened pain, finally it has subsided to the point I am hardly taking any pain medicine presently, and only over-the-counter meds are needed right now.

Most of Monday was consumed first by a bone scan at the hospital in Grenada, MS and secondly by grocery shopping, also in Grenada. The store in Winona burned down a few months ago, and it is scheduled to reopen a completely rebuilt structure on the same site in the middle of January. Not wanting to get tangled up in the retail melee at Walmart this time of year, we opted to forgo that venue for a couple of other grocers; we visited Save-a-Lot between my 9 a.m. injection with a radioactive substance and later returning for an hour bone scan beginning around 1 p.m. We purchased non-perishable items and surveyed whether we were content with its offerings. Following my procedure, we bought perishables and some additional grocery items at the Grocery Basket. We drove by Spain’s grocery earlier, but we decided not to stop there because it was one big, chaotic traffic snafu of cars in the lot, and the walkways were awash with a sea of shoppers. Evidently, many people are enamored with that store, but I was far from impressed on this occasion at least with the crush of fellow humans – which is what I was trying to avoid by distancing myself from the Walmart Supercenter at this time of the year.

Sunday morning, I had an appointment with the Tenth Avenue Church of Christ in Columbus, MS. It was my good pleasure to make my PowerPoint presentation about my mission work during the Bible class session. At the worship hour, I preached, “The Church in Prophecy” through the use of another PowerPoint presentation. I have always been well received by these brethren and I have always felt completely at ease and at home with them. When brethren who love the Lord commune together in worship, the fact that they are black and I am white does not even enter into any equation. Everyone with whom I work overseas is of a different race than me, and on one occasion after having spent a month all day and all night with some of those brethren, I identified with them so thoroughly that when someone leveled unwarranted verbal abuse on their race and nationality, I was offended, too – ever so briefly forgetting that I looked more like the misbehaving man than did I resemble the brethren with I was enjoying such an intimate relationship – in Christ.

Sunday evening, Rebecca who accompanied me on my appointments this weekend and I made our way to Baldwyn, MS. We arrived way early for my appointment at the Hillcrest Church of Christ. Part of the time awaiting time for evening worship, we rode through the town of Baldwyn, which really didn’t take very long at all. Back in the parking lot, I fired up my computer and did some office work. Once more, I made my PowerPoint presentation about my mission work, specifically updating the congregation about my recent 8-week mission trip to four Asian nations. Here, too, we were wonderfully received and encouraged.

Every segment of travel on the Lord’s Day was from two to two and a half hours – Winona to Columbus to Baldwyn and back to Winona. We arrived home around 10 p.m. Rebecca is a sports fan, and so we watched her beloved Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Denver Broncos; she had recorded the game that occurred earlier in the day.

One might observe that we stayed local, comparatively speaking, this past Sunday – at least traveling within a relatively close circuit all inside Mississippi. Often and recently, too, I travel out of state on my weekend speaking appointments.

A Little Crabby Today

October 13, 2015

96 dpi 8x10 Kyaw Sein Class2Sunday morning October 11, brother Kyaw Sein sent his car after me to transport me from my hotel in Yangon to his home in the Hmawbi jungle. There several Christians assembled for Lord’s Day worship, and it was my pleasure to present a message from God’s Word (“Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification & Sanctification”). It is always a joy for me to worship Almighty God in spirit and in truth with brethren wherever I find them across the globe; today was no different in that respect.

96 dpi 8x10 Kyaw Sein Class1What serves as the living room turns into a dining room for meals, too. On Sundays, though, the same space becomes the assembly place for Kyaw Sein’s extended family, neighbors and friends. Upon my arrival, I attempted too soon to snap a picture of brother Sein and myself – before the camera lens had time to make the adjustment from the air condition car to the humid tropical surroundings. Hence, that’s the reason for the blur. Notice, however, the traditional dress that he and I are wearing, and I am wearing an Asho tribe shirt, too. In his arms you can see the copy of Vine’s Expository of Old Testament and New Testament Words that I gave him that morning; he will make good use of it in his personal studies and translation work that he does. Following lunch of spaghetti, fruits and juice, I was ferried back to my Yangon home away from home.

Monday, brother Damon Vincent and I rode a taxi the 45 minutes to an hour to the Hmawbi outskirts, to the Hmawbi Bible School – and beyond for me. While brother Vincent taught in the morning at the school, I taught Christians, denominationalists and Buddhists at the Sein home. By request, I taught my tracts Salvation Summarized and Foul Language. Brother Kyaw Sein (pronounced Joe Sane) and one of his fleshly brothers (siblings) are translating some of my tracts into Burmese, after which those tracts will be printed and distributed.

At noon, I returned to the school, ate my lunch with the students and staff, and prepared to teach afternoon classes there. In response to a question days earlier by a Burmese evangelist present, I taught a lesson from one of my sermon outline books about “The Deity of Christ.” This was of interest in preparation for conversing with Jehovah’s Witnesses and trying to lead them truly to Jesus Christ.

Tuesday was a day of adjustments, requiring a certain amount of flexibility. First, the hotel neglected to bring me any breakfast, such as it is – two slices of toast, a fried egg, a cup of warm tea and orange drink. (While the dining room is under construction, the hotel brings breakfast daily to one’s room – or that’s what is supposed to happen.) Next, my class at the home of Kyaw Sein was cancelled for the day. Therefore, I opted with the approval of brother Vincent to stay in my room and work my mobile office while he taught both morning and afternoon classes at Hmawbi Bible School.

I had planned to venture out on foot to get some groceries and some lunch, but heavy rains convinced me to remain in my room and make do with two small apples, some crackers and spray cheese and a couple of cereal bars in place of breakfast and lunch.

Upon leaving the hotel for supper with Winsome and Sheila Vertannes, I inquired about no breakfast, and I requested my room to be sprayed for mosquitoes and to have the room made up since that had not occurred during the day either (i.e., clean towels, etc.). Sadly upon my return later, neither had the room been made up nor had towels been replaced, and not even the trash was emptied. Just to round things out, when I turned the AC on, it began to chew itself apart – making the worst loud noise; now no air conditioner. Children and adults play and shout outside my window in the narrow way between two buildings. The blast of the front desk phone sounds off a few feet down the hallway. I hope that there is enough water pressure to shower tonight.

The work is tedious, but I did manage to make significant progress on preparing literature for publication. There is still a long way to go before this particular material will be ready for public use. During the day, I worked, I rested and I have had a little bit of a crabby attitude. (Some loneliness visited me as well a little bit this day.) Fortunately, being alone, I didn’t have any arguments with anyone!

I know the blessings are bountiful, and furthermore, I am wonderfully blessed to have these opportunities to serve our Lord. Some of you make that possible. No sacrifices are being endured here in these things, only some inconsequential inconveniences from time to time that pale in comparison of the reason for being here and elsewhere where opportunities for Christian service present themselves.

Won’t Hold Water!

June 17, 2015

brass vaseSaturday, June 13, my daughter Rebecca and I mowed the grass at my Winona home. The old string trimmer finally got the best of me, despite spending good money to have it overhauled. Someone took advantage of my gift set at the curb and gave it a new home. Instead, I bought a new machine that I could actually start!

I think bugs, creatures and machines hate me. I’m a magnet, so it would seem, for bugs, snakes and poisonous plants – and machines refuse to work for such as me. The walk behind mower wouldn’t allow me to finish off the yard.

Rebecca and I rescued a fallen, blooming flower stem, taking it into the house to enjoy. Imagine our astonishment, amusement and befuddlement when we put water into the brass vase that was given to us by foreign brethren. Multiple spouts of water sprung forth from its sides through the etchings by which elegant designs were carved in the vase. Apparently, some of the carving was just a little too deep – all the way through!

Sunday, it was our pleasure to worship with the Indianola, MS Church of Christ as I filled in for its preacher who was away. We are always wonderfully received by the brethren of that small band of Christians. During Bible class, I made the PowerPoint presentation, Update & Overview of my mission work and that of my coworkers. During the worship periods, I presented a PowerPoint in the morning about The Church in Prophecy and a lesson that night entitled, Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification & Sanctification.

Rebecca and I enjoyed the hospitality for the afternoon with Madolyn and Gene Gibson in their Moorehood, MS home and university student center. A young couple from the congregation likewise participated with us as guests also of the Gibsons. After evening worship, several members and we fellowshipped over fast food at Wendy’s. It was a good day.

The last days of Bonnie’s life, I only fulfilled preaching appointments that were initiated by the congregations requesting my presence. Bonnie determined, though, to accompany me on each of those little outings, and she even taught a ladies’ class on one of those occasions (her last class). My day at Indianola was one of those requests from a congregation, but henceforth, I am actively scheduling appointments stateside and overseas through the summer of 2016. I’m back, having gotten behind on 60 appointments in the USA alone. Typically, I will travel up to 3,000 miles monthly by car.

Monday and Tuesday, I continued to play catchup on a number of things at the house and in the office. Rebecca continues to be a blessing and a helper in this difficult time. Monday, I paid Bonnie’s funeral expenses and prepaid my funeral expenses as well. I purchased a double headstone for our grave, too. Most of Tuesday was spent revamping the digital templates for the production of The Voice of Truth International. Bonnie may be resting from her labors, but the rest of us trudge onward – until it is our time to enter eternal rest.

Home and Gone

May 3, 2015

beautiful sweet-smelling rosesBonnie was discharged from the hospital on Monday, April 27; we arrived back at our Winona, MS home a little after 9 p.m. that night. Bonnie’s oncologist paroled her because of good behavior and so that she and I could attend the Annual May Maywood Missionary Retreat in Hamilton, AL. Bonnie’s next scheduled medical event is Wednesday, May 6, whereupon we will have a discussion with her doctor, and if possible, Bonnie will undergo another chemo treatment.

Tuesday, though Bonnie wanted to leave for the mission retreat, it was necessary for us to take care of some things. We needed to go to the bank. Bonnie needed to print nametags for attendees of the retreat. Of course, we needed to repack our bags for the little lectureship in the woods with other missionaries.

Wednesday, my cellphone rang as we were about to go out the door. A brother and sister in Christ from out of town happened to be passing through Winona, MS and wanted to visit with us. Happily, I gave the brother a tour of the World Evangelism Building and convinced him to take a few books with him. After a while, this good couple who sometimes supports us and often prays for us continued their journey. Thereafter, Bonnie and I began our own journey, too, on our way to the retreat outside of Hamilton, AL. Three hours or so later, we finally arrived.

Several of the core group of World Evangelism Team members arrived on Tuesday to clean the cabins and the campground. This year, however, Bonnie was unable to participate, and I am devoted to her. We did arrive in time on Wednesday for Bonnie to get a little nap before we enjoyed a meal together with fellow team members; we do this each year the night before the attendees of the program arrive; it is a precious few moments together. After supper, most of us attended the Gospel meeting in progress at the Hamilton Church of Christ; others went on to an appointment with another congregation of the Lord’s church.

Thursday and Friday, lecturers and auditors enjoyed presentations, classes and panel discussions. A highlight, of course, were the meals and free time to visit with each other and catch up. Bonnie and I spent about half of our time sharing in the lessons and meals, while the other half of the time Bonnie found it necessary to resort to our cabin for rest. Overall, she did well. While Bonnie napped, I worked on the May edition of Gospel Gazette Online, though some of the software subscriptions did not work in the absence of an Internet connection.

Saturday, we headed home after breakfast. That afternoon, I finally waded into the knee-high grass in our yard – after I bought a replacement battery for the lawn tractor. Monday, I will attempt to reclaim the rest of the yard with a walk-behind mower and a string trimmer, which I have to bailout of the repair shop first.

Sunday, we worshipped with the Old Union Church of Christ in Carroll County, MS. It was so good to be back in our regular pew with friends and brethren as we worshipped God in spirit and truth. Following a tasty meal at a part-time country café perched on a muddy rise adjacent to the main highway, we returned home. Bonnie continues to find herself necessarily making daily accommodations regarding her health, and how she feels varies by the hour.

This week, we will publish Gospel Gazette Online to the Internet. On Wednesday, we will have an important meeting with Bonnie’s oncologist.

Our rose bushes at our Winona home are the prettiest this year that they have ever been (i.e., white blooms, red petals and Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors). The fragrance upon stepping out either front or backdoor is not subtle at all – it grabs one right away. In a similar way, your well wishes and prayers especially on Bonnie’s behalf are an even sweeter aroma to us. Thank you.

New Chemo Regimen Begins

April 19, 2015

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom1

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom2

96 dpi 8x10 in bloom3Bonnie asked for a picture to be taken of our blooming azalea bushes in front of our home, which I was glad to do. I also included the hanging, flowering baskets and the birdfeeders. All of the birds, though, were camera shy. The Rushmore bird café offers sunflower seeds and humming bird nectar. Aside from the hummingbirds, a gallery of birds visit our avian diner, including beautiful, brilliant red cardinals, some gold finches, other finches, wrens and an unidentified bird – plus an ingenuous woodpecker. Too large for even the larger of the two birdfeeders, it hangs upside down and cranes its neck up to feed on the sunflower seeds.

Wednesday, April 15 is doubtless an infamous day to many Americans – the deadline for filing annual federal income taxes. For Bonnie, though, it was also the day on which her new regimen of chemotherapy began. We left Winona, MS for Jackson, MS around 9 a.m. to make the hour and a half journey to Jackson Oncology at Baptist Health Systems (hospital). The infusion of chemo drugs and other medicines took about five hours. Upon completion of that, an additional chemo drug was introduced in conjunction with an accompanying pump in a satchel for Bonnie to wear or hang on the bedpost at night for the next three days at home. Happily, none of the side effects about which we were warned occurred during the session on Wednesday. Weary and tired, Bonnie and I returned to Winona.

Thursday we worked at the office for a few hours, and I packed the van for a display at the mission Sunday to be hosted by the Siwell Road Church of Christ on the south side of Jackson, MS. About 10 p.m. Bonnie began to have severe back pain. All night long and through Friday afternoon and early evening, Bonnie had nausea, vomiting and excruciating pain. Neither of us slept well through all of that, and we were both exhausted during the day Friday.

After lunch, we drove to Jackson in torrential rains for Bonnie’s appointment to have the chemo pump removed. To address the nausea, a new, additional medication was prescribed, and Bonnie was advised to take the pain medicine more regularly and to take two pills at a time.

Friday and Saturday nights we lodged with one of the elders and his wife of our sponsoring congregation – the Siwell congregation. Saturday, I put up two banquet tables of display material for World Evangelism. That evening back at the home of our host and hostess, brother and sister Leggett, I was able to prepare computer files to be sent off to the printing company for the next issue of The Voice of Truth International.

Sunday, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Siwell church. A fellowship meal was sandwiched between morning worship and a 1 p.m. assembly. Four missionaries, including myself, had opportunity to update all present regarding our labors for the Lord. Afterward, Bonnie and I returned home to Winona. At the house and having Internet available once more, I sent the files for volume 84 of The Voice of Truth International to the printing company in South Carolina.

Later in the evening, Bonnie again began experiencing serious pain and nausea. Whenever she can sleep through it all, she seems to have some release from the intensity and discomfort of both. Bonnie is very tired, but she is a fighter, and as long as she can, she heartily applies herself to the work of Jesus Christ.

As I close, we are under a tornado watch. Presently, we have a nasty thunderstorm going through again. The lights are flickering. Pain, suffering, storms and such like are temporary speed bumps on the road to eternity. In the meantime, with help and encouragement of many brethren and friends, we press on.

Weekly our dining room fills with get well cards. Daily we received phone calls, visits, emails, texts and Facebook correspondence. The other evening, we received a phone call from a dear brother in India. Wednesday, we came to find out, a congregation in Guyana, South America was fasting and praying for Bonnie while she was undergoing five hours of treatment. In America, we have added an “e” to “fasting” and enjoy “feasting.” Elsewhere in the world, brethren still fast and pray. In Bonnie’s words, we are “humbled” by such encouragement by brethren toward us. Our church family worldwide buoys our spirits at a very difficult time in our lives. Thank you one and all.