It’s hard to believe 2018 is already here!  Time sure seems to fly sometimes.  2017 was a year filled with many ups and downs, joys and sorrows.  But with the new year, we can look forward to the year ahead and renew our lives with hope.  

Romans 5:1-5 reminds us: "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  

We don’t know what 2018 will bring, but even with the joys and sorrows that will come in our future, we can, like Paul, understand all that we go through as an opportunity to grow in faith.  The one thing tha…
As the new school year gets into full swing, we are excited to kick-off our new ministry - the hands-on learning gardens!  We are starting this school year in cooperation with four teachers and their classes (one from Pleasant Grove Elementary School, and three from Liberty-Eylau Elementary School).  These kids, ranging from kindergarten through 2nd grade will have the opportunity to utilize one wood planter and one tractor tire planter per class.  This will give these kids the opportunity to have a hands on learning experience with their garden plots to learn all kinds of things!  

You may have noticed the the garden beds on the north side of the church near where the manse used to be located.  As the program grows, we plan to add more space for more classes to participate.  There was so much interest at LE that they actually had to draw names for classes to participate!  

We are also working with the local garden club of Texarkana, Bowie County Master Gardner, as well as with other pr…
Galatians 5:22-23
"By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  There is no law against such things.”

Colossians 3:12
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”

At our last youth group gathering, we discussed kindness.  Most of us associate kindness with an action such as opening the door for someone or helping another in some way.  As we dug deeper into the lesson, we talked about what it means to clothe ourselves with kindness in three ways:

1. Kindness with your words.  It is easy to be unkind with our words, especially when we do not take the time to think about what we say before we say it.  We often speak words that are unkind because we often speak without thinking.  Before we speak, we can ask ourself if the words we are about to speak are kind.  If not, then we should change our words so that they reflect kindn…
Christmastime is one of my favorite times of the year.  It brings warm memories of shared family time, hanging lights, decorating the tree, plenty of food, and flying popcorn.  It is a joyous time celebrating with family—and even remembering fondly loved ones who are no longer alive to celebrate Christ’s birth.

But as wonderful as Christmastime is, I’ve noticed that most persons, (myself included) like to jump straight to Christmas because we don’t want to go through the waiting.  Christ’s birth didn’t just magically happen without notice.  Predictions of his coming began centuries before he was born.  For this reason, this time before Christmas we enter into a season of Advent. Advent is about anticipating the coming of Jesus.  Advent is about expecting and waiting.  Just as a pregnant woman has to eagerly await the birth of her child, so too, we have to eagerly await the celebration of the birth of Christ.  

Therefore, during this time of advent, we are offered a chance to wait, antic…
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment it. Jesus responds, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’"

It saddens me to think that there is so much hatred in the world. War, oppression, neglect, violence, abuse, racism, and trash talk all stem from hatred. As Christians, we should be practicing what Jesus teaches us, simply put: love God, love others. Yet all too often, we get swept away by the social talk of the day and pulled into to living and acting in ways that are contrary to God’s love. While I recognize that not everything can be solved by loving others and loving God, I do know that it can make a difference in our own lives and in the lives that are around us. If we can live our lives exemplifying love …
In a recent Bible Study on Paul’s letter to Philippians, we had a discussion on what it means to experience joy in Christ.  At the time this letter was written, Paul had been imprisoned in Rome and he faced charges that would have put him on death row.  Yet he was joyful about his experience because even in prison, he was able to share the good news of Jesus and help others experience the joy of God’s forgiveness and love.  He was joyful because he knew that if he was released from prison he could continue the work of sharing the good news but if he was executed then he would go to be with Jesus.

It’s challenging to view even what is bad as an opportunity for good.  And yet we are surrounded by God’s goodness whether we recognize it or not.  This is the joy that Paul was talking about.  No matter what situation we read about or find ourselves in the midst of, there is still something to be joyful about.  We have the choice of seeing the good or the bad, and the choice is up to us.  We …
The new year year has come!  This past year was filled with many ups and downs, but through it all God has stood firm.  In light of the new year, I invite you to hear the words of this poem written by Sister Tillie Albright: I know not what awaits me
As dawns another year; 
The path untrod I cannot see,
Yet knows my heart no fear!
I know not whether long or short
My pilgrimage may be!
I'll daily praise my God in song
For all His love for me. 
With joy I greet the year— 
It cannot bring me ill
Since Christ my Lord is ever near,
My soul with peace to fill. Amen!

Whatever this new year brings for you and yours, my prayer is that your love for the Lord with grow and your faith will mature.  The older I get, the stronger my trust in God becomes.  But this isn’t because I sat idle or went my own way.  The deep peace I feel inside isn’t something that magically appeared and stayed, but rather something that has grown deeper over time.
Just as healing takes time, so too it takes time to grow in our lo…