Posted tagged ‘The Purpose of Preaching’

Birthday Supper, A Day in a Closet & St. Joseph

January 5, 2014

Friday, January 3rd the impossible happened. I turned 60-years-old! Just yesterday I was a confused teenager; now I’m just confused—decades the other side of adolescence. It seems only the other decade or so—everything apparently happened decades ago now—Bonnie and I were just getting started with life together. Where has the time gone? Well, we don’t need much of an excuse to treat ourselves whenever possible to some “Road Kill” at the Texas Roadhouse in Horn Lake, MS when passing through between Winona, MS and Collierville, TN. My birthday proved to be one of those excuses. Bonnie and I shared the glorified chopped steak and baked potato, accompanied by our daughter Rebecca who met us there after teaching school in Horn Lake. Afterward, we proceeded to her home, our own little bed & breakfast—home away from home.

Hall Closet

Saturday was a work day for us at Rebecca’s. About a year earlier, part of the ceiling in her hall closet fell down due to water damage from a leak in the roof. I cut out and replaced the affected area of the ceiling, but only had occasions to work on it during brief stops over the next several months, and sometimes we came and went without me giving any attention to it. Finally, we determined to complete the little project.

Of course, we had to paint the ceiling. There were also unpainted areas on the two side walls where wood bracing had been for a shelf and a hanging rod; it made sense to paint those spots, too. The new shelving with which the closet had been fitted gouged the walls, and that needed fixed and painted also. That meant painting the walls and the ceiling; it needs to match. To facilitate painting and repair of the walls, we needed to remove all of the shelving—on all three walls. I removed the metal brackets as well to accommodate the paint roller more easily. That’s when we found out that the plastic wall anchors in the plasterboard had failed and that the shelving was lodged in the less than square closet, held up by friction as much as by the brackets.

I spent all day in the closet! Two coats of paint consumed the better part of a gallon—which, fortunately, was left from a previous undertaking. We cut the metal shelves to fit, reaffixed the brackets to the walls and remounted all nine shelves. Naturally, we had to reorganize all of the contents for the shelves as we put things back. I may have to go home to rest!

St. Joseph Ave. Church of Christ

Sunday morning, Bonnie and I headed for Dyersburg, TN to worship with the St. Joseph Ave. Church of Christ. This is a predominantly black congregation with a white preacher (John Stacy) and seven new converts in 2013, all of whom are white. While many predominantly white congregations in our country have an increasing representation of blacks, Hispanics and Asians among others, St. Joseph Ave. is the only congregation of which I am personally familiar in the United States where a mostly black church is becoming integrated by converting their white neighbors.

The brethren at St. Joseph are some of the sweetest and friendliest brethren with whom I am acquainted anywhere. I am proud to have the opportunity to be associated with them, to worship with them and to be the beneficiary of their financial participation in our mission work; they help Bonnie and me as we labor for the Lord in any of four Asian countries (India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Singapore) and in Guyana, South America. In addition, they help brother Loy and sister Debra Mitchell in their missionary labors in Zimbabwe, Africa.

For Bible class, I presented my PowerPoint regarding my 2013 efforts in Myanmar (Burma). For worship, I preached, “The Purpose of Preaching.” I always feel at home at St. Joseph.

Fearful of the weather, we nevertheless maintained a true course through heavy wind, rain and rapidly falling temperatures. We stopped over at Rebecca’s long enough to change clothes, pack the car with clothes and tools, and for me to install a new, programmable thermostat for our daughter. We finally pulled into our Winona driveway about 7:30 p.m., in time to rest up for the beginning of the work week—back at the office/warehouse.

Barreling Up and Down the Natchez Trace

December 29, 2013

Train Museum

The alarm on my Blackberry phone sounded at 6 a.m., and we were out the door, in the car and headed for Sunday worship in Glen, MS by 6:35. Bonnie, our daughter Rebecca and I were on our way to the
Strickland Church of Christ, two and a half hours away. It was our pleasure to be with these brethren on December 29 for Bible class, morning worship, fellowship meal and afternoon worship. I was privileged to speak three times: PowerPoint presentation on “2013 Mission Trips,” “Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship?” and “The Purpose of Preaching.”

96 dpi 3x5 Corinth Rail2

The saints at Strickland were a great encouragement to Bonnie and me. Throughout the year, the ladies have been sending cards of encouragement to Bonnie as she was recovering from cancer treatments. The Strickland Church of Christ is the sponsoring congregation for our coworkers Jerry and Paula Bates.

96 dpi 3x5 Corinth Rail3

Before leaving the nearby Corinth, MS area, we made a brief stop at the old railroad station, now a museum. We visited one of the famous rail “crossroads” in America, at least two of which are in Mississippi (i.e., a second is found in Moorehead, MS). The museum was open, but Louis “Scrooge” Rushmore valued the admission fee more than looking at one more gallery.

On the way back to Winona, we paused in Tupelo, MS for buying sewing needles and miscellaneous, fed the car (i.e., with gas, of course) and supper at Olive Garden. Then, we barreled down the Natchez Trace Parkway at the top legal speed of 50 MPH! (Bonnie and I have spent many hours over recent years traversing the Natchez Trace through Mississippi and Alabama.) We left that morning in the dark, and we pulled back into the driveway after dark. In for the night, awaiting the daylight, tomorrow we will apply ourselves to the duties of the day, endeavoring to serve the Lord.

Weekend in Florida

November 12, 2013

Saturday morning, November 9 Bonnie and I left Winona, MS and headed for DeFuniak Springs, FL to worship with the Liberty Church of Christ. About eight hours later, we arrived at the Best Western hotel in that city. We had crossed through parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and we were both exhausted. We shared a chopped steak and baked potato in the hotel restaurant, and then, retired to our room to rest in preparation for the Lord’s Day. Immediately after finishing review of our respective lessons for the next day, Bonnie became seriously sick, but by morning she was well again and rested.

Sunday morning, Bonnie taught the ladies during Bible class, and I taught the men. She taught her chapter from her book Living Principles about “Mrs. Peter”; near the conclusion of the class, Bonnie also answered sundry religious questions. I taught my lesson “Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship?” During worship, I preached my sermon “The Purpose of Preaching.”

Brother Harold and sisters Rita and Ashley Bigham treated us to a buffet lunch. We spent awhile after we had surrendered our eating utensils enjoying one another’s company and talking. Afterward, Bonnie and I resorted to the hotel for some afternoon rest before evening worship. At 5 p.m., I presented two years’ worth of PowerPoint lesson to catch up the congregation on our foreign mission work to Asia and South America.

The small congregation is one of our supporters, and nearly every member personally encouraged us on this visit. The Liberty Church of Christ holds up our hands in foreign mission work. We are dear to each other in the service of the Lord and for His cause.

Monday, we spent the day making our way back to Winona, MS—through parts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. I think Bonnie held up better on the return jaunt than I did. We opted for an alternate route back that avoided metropolitan areas and that was very scenic. An hour from home, we stopped to buy groceries in Starkville, MS. Finally, we pulled into our driveway at 7 p.m.

(One of the reasons we opted for the route we pursued going back home was to try to find one of Bonnie’s missing earrings. Upon my return home from Myanmar a few weeks ago, I gave Bonnie a pair of pearl-shaped jade earrings for pierced ears. Sunday night, she discovered that one of them was missing from her ear. That night and the next morning, we searched the motel room. In the morning, we searched the car. Before leaving DeFuniak Springs, we checked with the hotel staff, personnel at the restaurant where we had had lunch on Sunday and at Arby’s where we had eaten supper. Lastly upon leaving town, we stopped back by the grassy parking lot of the Liberty Church of Christ to look there. Neither one of us expected to find a little earring lost in a big world, but Bonnie did find it outside the meetinghouse.)

Tuesday found us refreshed from the previous night’s rest. I did my exercises, and Bonnie resumed exercising some on the exercise bicycle. We had breakfast, after which we readied ourselves for the day and went to the office. There is much work to be done on every side and in every place to keep us busy for Jesus Christ. We are thankful that friends and brethren are willing to keep on Sending the Light of the Gospel, whereby Bonnie and I are permitted to keep on Taking the Light of the Gospel abroad.

Expedition into Kinfolk Hollow and Beyond

September 16, 2013

SunflowersFriday, September 13 Bonnie and I left the environs of Hanoverton, OH in an eastwardly direction in a roundabout trip to visit our families in Pennsylvania. We purposely veered southeast to take us through Wheeling, WV so we could stop in on our dear friends and brethren Emanuel and Judy Daugherty. In addition to catching up and enjoying each other’s’ company, we did more of the same over meals at Olive Garden located in the Highlands; each couple shared the menu item, Tour of Italy – comprised of parmesan chicken, lasagna and fettuccini – simply sumptuous!

Afterward, we continued east on I-70 until we intersected I-79 at Washington, PA. From there, we proceeded north to the Greenville exit, whereupon we traveled the few miles from there to my father’s home. Bonnie and I visited with him, as well as his doggie Patches, for a while before continuing our trek to visit my brothers. Between Greenville and Jamestown, we visited Michael and Donna, and later in Jamestown, Bonnie and I visited Martin and his family. Bonnie and I finally arrived in Meadville, PA for the night around 10 p.m.; after dining at Burger King, we checked into the Econo Lodge so we would be in place to visit with some of Bonnie’s family on Saturday.

Saturday morning we had a muffin apiece and fruit juice from the shelf masquerading as continental breakfast! Bonnie and I checked out of the hotel in time to meet her brother and sister-in-law Jim and Kay Reed at Cracker Barrel for lunch – though each couple opted to share a breakfast meal of pecan pancakes and sides; the selection and the quality typical of Cracker Barrel often makes it a good choice for a sit-down meal when Bonnie and I are traveling.

After a brief stop at Wal-Mart, of course, we headed to the site of a birthday party for a great niece of Bonnie, a few miles north of Meadville, PA. There, Bonnie was also able to commune with a second brother, Larry and his wife, Donna. While there, I snapped pictures of a stand of sunflowers and some deer venturing into a field but along the tree line of a forest.

Actually, we left right before the party was to begin and headed for Vermilion, OH where I was to speak on Sunday morning. We lodged in the home of brethren Ron and Mary Weisenstine, and supper was ready upon our arrival. We were graciously received. The four of us talked until nearly midnight, and we showed our hosts hundreds of pictures from overseas.

It was my good pleasure to speak for Bible class and morning worship on Sunday for the Vermilion Church of Christ. Brother Mark Weaver has served this congregation for many years, and his efforts are augmented by his lovely family and especially by his sweet wife, Dawn. They are some of our dearest friends, and we dearly love their children, which love they amply reciprocate to us. John, the youngest one (10-years-old) nearly crawled into the driver’s seat with me to hug my neck before I could exit the rental car.

During Bible class, I made my PowerPoint presentation “2012-2013 Missions Trips,” and later I preached, “The Purpose of Preaching.” Brethren will use almost any excuse to eat together, and that day, Bonnie and I became that excuse as these good brethren honored us.

All too soon, we had to depart for our evening appointment, about four hours away with the Sandyville, WV Church of Christ. That evening, I once more made the PowerPoint presentation “2012-2013 Missions Trips.” That night, we lodged in the home of brethren John and Sue Balis; he serves as one of the elders for the congregation.

Monday, Bonnie and I returned to Hanoverton, OH and the home of brethren Bob and Martha Noland. That evening, we attended the Gospel meeting in progress at the Hanoverton Church of Christ; brother David Kenney is the speaker this year. However, before that, the Nolands, the Kenneys and the Rushmores were invited for supper to the home of Andy and Danielle Burch; this sweet, young couple has an energetic almost 3-year-old son – with whom I have become friends, or a playmate. Martha hosted some in attendance for the meeting for pie after services. Finally, we made our way to bed – weary from not only the day but the days of crisscrossing parts of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania; we made some humongous circles!

Our trip complete, we head for our Mississippi home on Tuesday. Visiting family and friends in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania may have been the catalyst for making the trip northward, but we abundantly interspersed opportunities to interact with brethren and congregations that support us. Virtually every trip we make and every mile we drive has some relationship to our commitment to the cause of Christ. Our dedication to serving our Lord is and has been our lives for four decades now, and we would not have it any other way. Bonnie and I only hope that we can live more piously and prove to be of greater service in the days that may lie ahead.

(Bonnie’s health during our travels has been remarkably good, augmented by snoozing along the highways and byways in the car as I drove. Thank you for your continued interest in her recovery.)

Fly-Over, Drive-Through

September 9, 2013

airlinerFriday morning, September 6, Bonnie and I began by loading our car for our impending absence for a week and a half. One suitcase was for our night in Collierville, TN with Rebecca that night in preparation for our departure by plane from Memphis on Saturday morning; also included therein were clothes for the night of our return by air to Memphis and lodging with our daughter once more. Bonnie and I also packed two checked bags, two carryon bags and two computer bags. The last stop in Winona, MS before leaving town was the World Evangelism Building, whereupon we loaded empty spots in the two checked bags with tracts, copies of The Voice of Truth International, ballpoint pens, etc. (Later Friday night, we had to shift literature between checked bags to bring one of them within the allowable weight.)

With Winona in the rearview mirror, Bonnie and I headed south on I-55 to Jackson, MS for her weekly chemotherapy. Hours later (around 3 p.m.), we retraced our route north on I-55 toward Memphis and Rebecca’s home in Collierville. Having made provisions ahead of time, we dropped our van at the Chrysler dealership in Collierville for repair over the several days we would be gone.

Saturday, Rebecca dropped us at the Memphis International Airport on her way to Saturday School (for her and other teachers’ errant students). Our flight path took us from Memphis to Atlanta to Pittsburgh. Tiring as the journey was, especially for Bonnie, it was less tiresome than had we driven (in a sick car) from Mississippi to Ohio. We flew over numerous states (e.g., Alabama, Tennessee, etc.), and upon landing in Pittsburgh, PA, we picked up the rental car we had reserved. Then, we proceeded to drive from western Pennsylvania, across the northwestern panhandle of West Virginia and through northeastern Ohio to Hanoverton. There, we proceeded to lodge with our dear Christian friends Martha and Robert Noland.

Sunday a.m. we were with the Hanoverton Church of Christ. For Bible class, I taught Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship? During worship, I made our PowerPoint presentation of 2012-2013 Mission Trips. After Martha’s crockpot lunch of roast beef, potatoes and carrots, the Nolands and I (minus Bonnie who remained behind to rest) went to a nursing home in Lisbon, OH. It was my pleasure to speak to the residents in attendance. Then, I was delighted to preach at the Hanoverton congregation’s 4 p.m. worship my lesson, The Purpose of Preaching. Afterward, the Nolands carted Bonnie and me to the Massillon, OH Church of Christ whereupon I again presented 2012-2013 Mission Trips. I spoke five times in three cities!

Monday morning and afternoon, I worked on the late September issue of Gospel Gazette Online. The four of us paused for lunch at our favorite regional Mexican restaurant in Salem, OH. Upon our return to the Noland home, Bonnie rehearsed the lesson she had prepared for teaching a ladies’ class in Hanoverton that evening. While Bonnie and Martha participated in the ladies’ Bible study session, Robert and I attended a Gospel meeting in East Liverpool, OH; I greeted brethren with whom I have been acquainted for decades and from whom we have been parted for years. Each place, including East Liverpool, to which we have gone and to which we will go, I am leaving sample tracts, The Voice of Truth International copies, newsletters and pens to promote our good work and encourage participation by other brethren.

Our four-day weekend was filled to the brim! There was little time squandered, and the variety of things encountered and the places to which we went were plentiful, too. We don’t usually have to concern ourselves with the likelihood of becoming bored. We wouldn’t have it any other way.