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Some time ago, people popularly wore and asked the question, “What would Jesus do?” Regarding the clothing, some said, “Jesus wouldn’t wear that!”, but a good answer to the question perhaps is more thoughtful.

As I wrap up my sermon series at the church on the Ten Commandments, I ask which one is the hardest for me to keep? By the way, none of us obey any commandment perfectly. We all break them, all of them, in one way or another.

“I cannot be an optimist, but I am a prisoner of hope.” These words spoken by Dr. Cornel West of Harvard Divinity School obviously assume a conceptual difference between optimism and hope. What is the difference? Are Christians called to be optimists or people of hope? Can we be both, or should we choose one over the other?

In connection with a televised town-hall on LGBTQ+ issues earlier this month, Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke said that he was in favor of revoking the tax-exempt status of churches that oppose same-sex “marriage”. Aside from the arguments for and against churches’ in general having such tax-exempt status, the federal government’s denying particular churches’ tax-exempt status because of what they teach or do certainly seems to be contrary to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution’s prohibition of “establishing” one religion or permitting another’s free exercise.

A Sixth-Annual Symposium in Kilgore will take up the topic “Christianity as it relates to the LGBTQ+ Community”, and everyone is welcome to attend the free event, Sunday, November 3, 2019, from 3:00-5:00 p.m., in the Devall Student Center Ballroom on the campus of Kilgore College (1116 Broadway Boulevard, between Nolen and Elder Streets, in Kilgore, Texas).

Once again taking up the mantle of St. Francis of Assissi, the congregation of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will welcome pets and their owners for a special blessing this weekend. The saint’s annual feast day falls on Oct. 4, and the members of the 314 N. Henderson Blvd. church honor the patron saint of animals and the environment with a Saturday morning outdoor service for their furred and feathered companions.

We all want success. We all want to be successful students, employees, parents, grandparents, and the list goes on. Those of you who own your small business, you want it to flourish and thrive. In our world, success is usually indicated by measurable outcomes such as good grades, job promotions and raises, and children who go to college to make a nice family. We preacher types are not immune to this world’s way of quantifying success.

Some time ago, people popularly wore and asked the question, “What would Jesus do?” Regarding the clothing, some said, “Jesus wouldn’t wear that!”, but a good answer to the question perhaps is more thoughtful.

As I wrap up my sermon series at the church on the Ten Commandments, I ask which one is the hardest for me to keep? By the way, none of us obey any commandment perfectly. We all break them, all of them, in one way or another.

“I cannot be an optimist, but I am a prisoner of hope.” These words spoken by Dr. Cornel West of Harvard Divinity School obviously assume a conceptual difference between optimism and hope. What is the difference? Are Christians called to be optimists or people of hope? Can we be both, or should we choose one over the other?

In connection with a televised town-hall on LGBTQ+ issues earlier this month, Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke said that he was in favor of revoking the tax-exempt status of churches that oppose same-sex “marriage”. Aside from the arguments for and against churches’ in general having such tax-exempt status, the federal government’s denying particular churches’ tax-exempt status because of what they teach or do certainly seems to be contrary to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution’s prohibition of “establishing” one religion or permitting another’s free exercise.

A Sixth-Annual Symposium in Kilgore will take up the topic “Christianity as it relates to the LGBTQ+ Community”, and everyone is welcome to attend the free event, Sunday, November 3, 2019, from 3:00-5:00 p.m., in the Devall Student Center Ballroom on the campus of Kilgore College (1116 Broadway Boulevard, between Nolen and Elder Streets, in Kilgore, Texas).

Once again taking up the mantle of St. Francis of Assissi, the congregation of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will welcome pets and their owners for a special blessing this weekend. The saint’s annual feast day falls on Oct. 4, and the members of the 314 N. Henderson Blvd. church honor the patron saint of animals and the environment with a Saturday morning outdoor service for their furred and feathered companions.

We all want success. We all want to be successful students, employees, parents, grandparents, and the list goes on. Those of you who own your small business, you want it to flourish and thrive. In our world, success is usually indicated by measurable outcomes such as good grades, job promotions and raises, and children who go to college to make a nice family. We preacher types are not immune to this world’s way of quantifying success.

God made clear, already in the Old Testament, that the life of flesh was in the blood and that He gave it on the altar in order to make atonement for souls (Leviticus 17:11). So, there should be little surprise that, in the New Testament, Jesus’s blood sacrificed on the cross is said to reconcile us to God (Colossians 1:20). The many bloody sacrifices under the old covenant pointed forward to the single bloody sacrifice under the new covenant in Jesus’s blood (Hebrews 9:12-414; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

God’s written word never ceases to be relevant. I encountered this truth first-hand while preparing my sermon on Matthew 25:31-46. This passage depicts Christ as both judge and king who separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep are placed on the right, signifying their righteousness. The goats are moved to the left, signaling their condemnation.

Although Genesis 6:5 can rightly suggest that in some sense things could not get any worse, our society seems to be sliding more towards lawlessness. Consider first the standoff last month in Philadelphia where six officers were shot by a gunman while crowds of onlookers taunted, shoved, and threw things at the police. Consider second a school curriculum with anti-police rhetoric proposed last month by the California Department of Education (but eventually withdrawn). And, other examples abound.

Aside from whatever other heart trouble any one individual might have, the real heart problem from which we all suffer is a moral evil so great that we ourselves cannot understand but which ultimately only the Lord can diagnose, as expressed in His Word (Jeremiah 17:9-10; confer Luke 16:15; Romans 8:27; Revelation 2:23).

For more than a decade, East Texas residents have been a part of the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child, which helps millions of children in need through gift-filled shoeboxes. Alex Nsengimana, who received a shoebox gift as an orphan during the height of Rwanda’s genocide, is coming to Longview on Wednesday, Aug. 28, to share how this gift, just like those packed here locally, changed his life.

God’s written word never ceases to be relevant. I encountered this truth first-hand while preparing my sermon on Matthew 25:31-46. This passage depicts Christ as both judge and king who separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep are placed on the right, signifying their righteousness. The goats are moved to the left, signaling their condemnation.

At the risk of this column’s being mistaken for one by my syndicated Kilgore News Herald colleague Dr. Roach, I encourage everyone to take care for themselves, their families, and their pets in our August East Texas heat! Especially those who work outside should drink extra water and, when they can, take breaks inside air-conditioned spaces. And, after several fatalities nationwide, apparently not to leave either family members or pets in turned-off cars does not go without saying.

As we discussed in a recent Midweek Bible Study, the passage almost sounds like it is meant to be funny. After Jesus heard Martha and Mary’s sending to Him that his friend Lazarus was ill, St. John’s Gospel account essentially tells us that, “since” Jesus loved them, He stayed two days longer where He was before going to Lazarus. We might ask, “Who does that?” In this case, apparently Jesus did!

The Kilgore Police Department has long recognized that clergy and their congregations are an abundant and dynamic community resource. In order to more fully engage the faith-based community in our combined Community Policing concept, a Clergy and Police Alliance (CAPA) program has been developed.

I recently heard my seminary president, Craig Barnes, preach a sermon on the phrase “if only.” Dr. Barnes said that when “if only” surfaces in a conversation it usually focuses either on the past or the future. “If only I had saved better for retirement.” “If only I had taken that other job …

There was a crowd of superheroes dancing to the beat of their own drum in First Christian Church’s gym this week. They came to join the ‘Jesus League,’ to become super-followers of Jesus in the sixth annual Special Needs Vacation Bible School hosted by the Main Street congregation, and they found many sidekicks waiting to celebrate alongside them

“How much poison does it take to kill you?” That was what the title of my presentation at a national youth conference this past week asked attendees. Of course, I was not trying to encourage them to take their own or anyone else’s physical life but to get them to think about how much false teaching it might take to end their spiritual life.

When something that we consider bad happens to us or others, we may focus on the problem’s cause, not only in order to try to change the situation but maybe also to assign blame, perhaps even to God. In at least one case, however, God challenges us to focus less on the past cause and more on the future purpose for which He can use the particular suffering or affliction.

The 86th Texas legislative session ended this past Monday with the House’s passing but the Senate’s not voting on a bill related to decriminalizing some possession of marijuana. My News Herald colleague Rev. Will Wilson argued for the bill in his May 12th column, which teased my different perspective that now follows.

The headline on a Barna Group report out this past April (based on interviews conducted between April and August of 2018) was “1 in 4 Practicing Christians Struggles to Forgive Someone”. The details of that report indicated that 23% of practicing Christians (defined as those Christians who said that their faith is very important in their lives and who had attended a worship service in the preceding month) reported that they could identify someone whom they could not forgive, and of those only 28% said that they wished they could forgive that person.

God spoke the following promise through Isaiah: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24 ESV). That promised behavior of God contrasts sharply to the prior behavior of the Israelites that a few verses earlier God judged for the following reasons: “because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen” (Isaiah 65:12 ESV).

At time of writing, the Texas legislature is considering a bill that would take steps toward decriminalizing possession of marijuana. If the bill passes, those caught with less than an ounce would have to pay a $500 fine instead of being arrested and incarcerated. I want to express my support for this bill from a theological perspective. In fact, I believe that no one should be criminalized at all for mere possession.

Aside from its being the Third Sunday of Easter and other things, tomorrow also is Cinco de Mayo: not Mexico’s Independence Day from Spain, as that is September 16 (1810), but the 1862 date of the outnumbered Mexican army’s victory over French forces, a victory that arguably affected not onl…

The Easter lilies and chocolate eggs at the grocery store have now gone back to the discount rack. The Easter egg hunt and egg roll will not happen again until next year. Your families have now gone back home. There will be plenty of parking spaces left when you show up to Church tomorrow morning, and the same pews that are usually sparse or empty will be so again, just like most other Sundays. The Sunday after Easter is often called “low” Sunday, the other being the Sunday after Christmas. It’s called “low” because the attendance on this day is usually a fraction of what it was the week before.