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Hollywood’s biggest night is back this coming Sunday, and the race is on to take home the most important statue in the movie making business.

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The Christian life is first and foremost about having a relationship with your Creator. Without that relationship, nothing else matters. One cannot be a Christian unless he/she has entered into a relationship with Christ. One cannot live in an acceptable fashion before God, unless he/she treats other people in a Christ-like manner. The “social gospel” does not save anyone. Only entering into a personal relationship with Christ through His shed blood can bring about salvation. However, we must not ignore the heavy and recurring emphasis throughout the Bible on justice, mercy, and grace. Without justice, mercy, and grace from God, you and I would be doomed. We love to hear about God’s mercy and grace toward us, but I am not so sure about the requirement on us. God has called us to be like Him. We must do what He does. Freely we have received; freely we must give. There is nothing in the Bible taught any more clearly. Our treatment of the weak is a great indicator of the strength of our faith. God will hold us accountable. We will be judged for how we treat those who are weaker or disadvantaged. As a side note, let me be clear, I am not speaking of governmental policy; I am speaking of individual behavior. Most of what 21st century government does in an attempt to help the weak really hurts those it purports to help, but that is a discussion for another time.

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My wife Kathy relates a recurring scenario of coming home after a stressful day and craving macaroni and cheese. Psychologists tell us that when under stress, adults often choose comfort foods to “feel better.” Consuming high calorie, high fat, salty or sugary foods triggers chemicals in the brain’s pleasure center which provide a temporary sense of mood elevation. Comfort foods are foods that bring back feelings of home and security. We ate these foods as children when life was simpler. Some common comfort foods in the U.S. are macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies.

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Seventeen years ago today (Feb. 1), the skies over East Texas exploded and rained down onto the ground.

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Amos is an unrelenting attack on the all-pervading unrighteousness of God’s people. No one was exempt, not the general population, not the political leaders, and certainly not the religious leaders. By the end of chapter five, God had rejected Israel’s feasts, their solemn assemblies, their celebrations, their sacrifices, their singing, their worship, etc. In short, God was sick of His people. Amos chapter six begins with a proclamation of woe to the leaders in the southern kingdom of Judah and to the leaders in the northern kingdom of Israel. God uses sarcasm to emphasize the attitude of their heart. They evidently believed, seemed to refer to themselves, as the most important people in the most important of all nations. There is some truth in that claim, but they have forgotten two deeply significant points. They failed to acknowledge where their blessing came from. They also failed to realize that to whom much is given, much is required. They not only did not carry out their responsibilities, they took advantage of the general population, so that they, themselves, could live in luxury.

God reveals Himself in the book of Amos as one who is completely and absolutely fed up with the hypocrisy of His people.  He delivers a devastating rebuke against all unrighteousness.  

Ever since I was a boy dunking minnows in Pecan Bayou near our home in Red River County, I dreamed of heading to the wilds of Canada to catch big northern pike, lake trout and walleye. I remember reading all about this fishing wonderland in magazines and back then never dreamed that one day, I would actually experience the thrill of tossing a big plug over a shallow weed bed and hooking into a pike almost as long as a boat paddle or, catching those great eating walleye and enjoying a shoreline lunch prepared over a wood fire.

There are a lot of interesting movies coming out this year! When I wrote the “Top 10 list of 2019,” I took a consensus of what our readers, myself and film critics were saying.

During the next few weeks, W-2 forms will show up at your work desk or in your mail, and the IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Monday, January 27. While hiring the wrong tax preparer can result in headaches, fines and fees. BBB reminds consumers to be on the lookout for tax scammers and to confirm a tax preparer's qualifications before trusting them with personal information.

The book of Amos is a scathing rebuke against all unrighteousness. God is calling His people to remember who He is and repent, throwing themselves on His mercy. In the middle of chapter five, the Lord turns Amos’s attention to “The Day of the Lord”. The Day of the Lord is a common theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is described as the time when God says enough is enough; the time for final judgment has arrived. The Son of Man will return to the earth. This time, He will not be coming as the Suffering Servant, in lowliness and humility allowing Himself to be mocked and spit upon. Rather, this time, He will come in power and glory and wrath and judgment. He will usher in the Kingdom of God in its fullness. All attacks upon it will come to an end. Christ will rule and reign in absolute power and authority. Even though believers will face some judgment, for them the Day of the Lord will ultimately be a day of joy and victory. Horrifyingly, to unbelievers the Day of the Lord will be a day of judgment, punishment, and terror that will never end.

Amos was an uneducated farmer, but the Lord called him to perform the function of a prophet. His prophetic words recorded in Amos 3 ought to inspire us and motivate us to heed what the Lord says. Chapter 3 begins with the Lord reminding the nation of Israel that He had chosen them to be His special people and that He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. Then He tells them that with privilege comes responsibility. Because of their belonging to Him, their conduct will be judged and punished if need be. Chapter 3 continues with a list of seven rhetorical questions, followed by a declaration from the Lord and “The Question”.

When I was eleven years old, my cousin and I used to go out hunting with our .22 caliber rifles. On this early summer morning, we were just leaving the house and not yet beyond the coral and barns when a large rabbit ran out and stood up on hind legs not 20 yards in front of us.

As I look back on this year and all that was accomplished during the 86th Legislative Session, I am once again reminded that it could not have been done without you. While you are making your own resolutions for your personal life and businesses, the Senate is doing the same thing through its interim charges and interim hearings, as we plan for the 87th Legislative Session. I look forward to this next year and working together to make a difference for our state. Happy New Year!

Amos was a shepherd and grower of sycamore figs. He lived in the southern kingdom of Judah, not far from Jerusalem. God sent him to the northern kingdom of Israel with a message of judgment because the people had rejected God and turned to idols. Amos began with pronouncements of judgment against Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab before turning his attention to God’s people. He started with Judah and quickly moved on to Israel. Amos spoke out against their culture of greed and corruption in which the poor and weak were cheated and cruelly taken advantage of. God was disgusted with the injustice, immorality, and idolatry among His people.

It's almost time to pop the champagne and toast a new year, as we look back on 2019 and look forward to 2020 and a new decade.

This Week's Circulars

Obituaries

Funeral services for Curtis Corley, 70 of Athens have been scheduled for 1:00 P.M. Friday at Rock Hill Baptist Church in Brownsboro. Visitation will be held Thursday evening from 6-8 P.M. at Rock Hill Baptist Church in Brownsboro.