Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Great Omission



I remember hearing a preacher in a church service say, “Aren’t you thankful that we have this sanctuary, that we can come in from the world – gathered together safe and sound,  and able to put the cares of this life outside these walls.”

Sound familiar?

Maybe we’ve even said it ourselves at one time or another.

How wrong we are!

Now don’t get me wrong.  It is great to have a place that we can come, gather together for worship, prayer, teaching, and exhortation. The Bible tells us to do that, and to do it with even more frequency as we see the end times approaching. 

120 of Jesus’ followers had done that at Pentecost when the Holy Sprit fell upon them accompanied by audible and visible signs and the church was born!   When Peter and John were released after being threatened by the Sanhedrin they came to the place where other believers were gathered together – they recounted the persecution and the threats, and the entire group prayed, and when they prayed, the place where they were was shaken.

When Herod had slain James with the sword, he had  Peter arrested and he was scheduled for execution as well.  When God sent an angel to deliver Peter in the most remarkable jailbreak ever, he immediately headed for John Mark’s mother’s home, where he knew the believers were assembled in an attitude of prayer for his safety.

However, we need to awaken to the fact that “the meetin’ house” is not what it is ALL about.  It is not a place for the “holy huddle” to remain.  It is not “the church”, we are!  It is simply a place for preparation for the work that Jesus has given us to do.
Our focus must be outside the walls.

We are located in cities, towns, rural areas, and in countries all around the globe – and that is where Christ has placed us, and that’s exactly where he sends us.

Consider His words in Matthew 9: 35-38  “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Notice Jesus went…  He never traveled more than a few day’s foot journey from where He was born or grew up.  He calls us to go outside the walls of the church. He calls us to go intentionally, but He also calls us to make disciples “as we are going” about our daily lives as well.  He calls us to labor. His plan is for us to “reach, baptize, and teach”.  Jesus saw the crowds like helpless sheep. Harassed by Satan. Beaten down by him and unable to help themselves.  He compassionately told His disciples, and us, that laborers are needed!

Oh! That we would see others the way Jesus sees them!  Oswald Chambers has said: “We talk about the second coming of Christ, but half the world has never heard of His first coming!”  Millions walk in darkness around the world, but also around the corner from us. May God burden our hearts to accomplish His Great Commission.

The Master Plan of Evangelism has two aspects.  There is the geographic plan as shown in Acts 1:8 (starting in our home town first and reaching around the globe).  The other aspect is the mathematical component. 2 Timothy 2:2, making disciples and creating “faithful” individuals who will be able to replicate themselves, and on and on, multiplying the number of believers as we go.

In the coming year we are going to be exploring how we ALL can be more involved in disciple making. Yes, we will encourage and support international missions.  Yes we will financially support North American mission work and church planting activities. We will take part in Disaster Relief, and some will make mission trips in North America and to Asia.  But we will also focus on How we may reverse the “Great Omission” of forgetting the many lost people in our own area.  We’ll explore various methods, using situations every one of us are already prepared for with our own unique gifts and talents.


I’m praying the Lord of the Harvest that He will send laborers.  Right here among us.  The harvest is great. The laborers are few. The time is short. Judgment is final and eternity is forever!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Great Adkins Clan Thanksgiving Week Anniversary Cruise

In two months I hope to be wearing this T-Shirt (or one like it).

If the good Lord is willing, and all works out as planned, two months from today we should be in the middle of a family adventure that we have never all experienced before.  I'm calling it  "The Great Adkins Clan Thanksgiving Week Anniversary Cruise".

2016 has been a special year in our family for Wedding Anniversaries.

Linda and I observed our 45th Anniversary on June 19th.  Just a month before that, our older son, Jay and his wife, Michelle celebrated their 20th Anniversary on May 18th.  This coming November 16th, younger son, Benji, and his wife, Leigh Anne will also observe their 20th.  It is a milestone year for sure.

Our family, although not as large and scattered as some, rarely all get to be together at the same time. There are only 11 of us in total, but geography, occupational duties, and school activities make it nearly impossible for all of our "planets to align".  In fact, the last time ALL of us were in the same place at the same time, was Thanksgiving of 2011, when Nathan was only 3 months old.  There have been several times that most of us have been together, but in each of those cases one or the other of the spouses, or one of the kids were not present.  That's frustrating for an old guy (and his wife) whose lives have been centered around God (first) and then family.

Jay is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Westwego in suburban New Orleans, and Michelle teaches in Marrero Academy.  Quint and Canon attend Patrick Taylor Academy (a science and technology magnet school), also located in Jefferson Parish. Quint, who is a Junior this year, attends Pat Taylor in the mornings and then drives to the New Orleans Center for Cultural Arts (NOCCA) for afternoon classes in advanced musical studies.  The boys in New Orleans stay busy with their various band and other music activities, as well as being heavily involved in their church youth group.

Nearly a thousand miles away, Benji and Nathan travel to Fallsburg, KY each day where Benji teaches Middle School English in the Lawernce County, Kentucky school system, and Nathan is doing his preschool work.   The two older boys, Will and Asher, attend High School and Middle School in Ashland, KY.  Both of the Kentucky boys also stay very involved in school sports and in activities at their church.  Leigh Anne is a Mary Kay Sales Director.

Of course I serve Westmoreland Baptist Church as Senior Pastor and have some other outside ministry related activities.  Linda just retired this year, so her schedule is a little more pliable, but she does still serve as legal guardian of her 95 year old father who is in a local assisted living community.  Even though he no longer lives in our home, Linda makes regular visits to see him, and is still responsible for all of his affairs.  So it's easy to see that there are often scheduling difficulties for individual family activities, much less getting the whole clan together.

A few months ago a couple of our New Orleans friends, Vinnie and Sue Verdin, made us aware of an excellent deal on aWestern Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Dream, scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving.  Linda and I had been on two cruises in the past, and as I told someone after the first one, "She loved it, and I didn't hate it."  Actually, both of us enjoyed it enough to plan another, longer one, and we always felt like we would enjoy a third cruise, if the opportunity ever arose.

I began thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if the whole family could go along on this cruise?  We could have the joy of having the whole clan together, and celebrate our triple special anniversaries together."  Michelle was the only member of the family, besides Linda and I, who had ever been on a cruise, and she was all for it.  It seemed strange to me that we would possibly be having Thanksgiving Dinner on the high seas and strolling the streets of Cozumel instead of watching football in the family room in our house on 49th Street, but the thought was intriguing.

Well, to make a long story shorter, the planets did align.  By being on the week of Thanksgiving, The boys were out of school, Michelle was out as well, and Benji would only have to use a couple of personal days.  Leigh Anne, Jay and I were able to work our schedules to make it possible, and Linda was chomping at the bit to go!  So, passage was booked, and it was a done deal.

I am truly looking forward to the trip.  Linda and I will probably head down to NOLA a couple of days earlier that Benji and his crew who will join us all there on Saturday, November 19th.  Our ship departs the Port of New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, November 20th and after stops in Cozumel, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, we'll arrive back in the Big Easy a week later, on Sunday, November 27th.

I'm thankful for Sue and Vinnie (who will also be on the ship) for making us aware of the opportunity, and for the Lord allowing us to work out the schedules and the finances to do this thing. So, come November, this old Papaw is looking forward to sailing off with my bride, to all of us being together, celebrating our three Anniversaries, enjoying the tropical climate and beautiful scenery, and observing Thanksgiving aboard a beautiful cruise ship.  As they say down there in New Orleans, "Laissez les bon temps rouler!"





Sunday, September 11, 2016

Greater Huntington Baptist Association Welcomes Interim Associational Missionary


The Greater Huntington Baptist Association’s Executive Committee is happy to announce the calling of Rev. Gregory J. Page,  of Huntington as our Interim Associational Missionary.  This is a Bi-vocational position, as Bro. Greg will continue in his vocational position as a Science Teacher at Spring Valley High School.

There has been a void in the leadership of our Association for several years, since the North American Mission Board withdrew it’s funding of local association missionaries in West Virginia.  We were unable to fund our former full time position, and as a temporary fix, we hired a part time secretary and commissioned our association’s Moderator to take on the Associational Missionary duties.  This was only a "partial fix", as the men who have served as Moderator during that time were full time local church pastors, and while able to take care of some of the paperwork and administrative duties, they were unable to get out to visit the various churches of our association, and we have missed that personal touch.

Brother Greg will be assuming the AM duties immediately, although he will be somewhat time constrained until the close of Football season, as he is an assistant coach at SVHS, and is completing his commitment to that program.  From the close of the season, he will be devoting 20 hours per week to this ministry, (and more time during the Summer months, when school is out).

Brother Greg is a 1989 Graduate of Buffalo High School and graduated Marshall University in 1993 with a BA from the College of Education in General Science and earned his Master’s Degree in Health and Physical Education from Marshall in 2005.  Greg’s teaching career has seen him teaching at Rose Hill Christian School (1993-1998); Grace Christian High School (1998-2004); Wayne Middle School (2004-05 school year) and Spring Valley High School 2005 – Present). While at Spring Valley, he has been very actively involved in ministry to those who are involved in the athletic teams, serving as assistant football coach and assistant basketball coach, and serving as the sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from 2005 to the present; SVHS Prayer Group (2007 – present); and Timberwolves 4 Christ  (2014-present).

Greg was licensed to preach in 2006 and ordained in 2007 by Locust Grove Baptist Church.  He has served as Associate Pastor of Locust Grove since 2008.  He is the author of “Tale of Two Champions” in 2014 and “The Grand Lesson of King Gregory” (a children’s book) in 2015.

Greg and his wife, Kimberly have four children, ranging in age from Middle School to College.

He can be reached by mail at the GHBA Association Office, 3401 Hughes Street, Huntington, WV 25704, and by pone at 304-417-3483.  Until a new Association  email address can be set up, Greg may temporarily be reached via email at Herdfan34@hotmail.com .

We welcome Greg to this challenging position and look forward to introducing him to the entire Association at the GHBA Annual Meeting at 6:00 PM on Thursday, October 13th at Calvary Baptist Church in Chapmanville, WV.  Please keep Greg and his family in your prayers as he familiarizes himself with this position, and in his new relationship with our churches and the State Convention.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Thinking Outside the Ministry Box

Like many of our aging churches, Central Baptist Church in Ashland has had a bright and storied past.  Once a vibrant congregation in a working middle class neighborhood, Central Baptist has found itself in a community that has changed drastically.
While not what might be thought of as a typical "inner city" type church in some larger cities, Central is probably the closest thing to one in our neighboring town of Ashland, Kentucky (which is where I have lived for the past 36 years).  For eight years I served as pastor of Ashland Baptist Church, just a few blocks from Central.  I am very familiar with that community.  Over the past 40 years, the area from Greenup Avenue stretching south down 29th Street has changed from the working middle class neighborhood it was, to more of a transient neighborhood.  Houses  that were once neat, tidy, well kept family homes have given way to blighted, poverty ridden, and drug and related crime problem area.
Like many of our urban churches, CBC had to come to grips with the fact that the changing demographics of the community, often aren't recognized until the situation is somewhat critical.  Congregations age.  Attendance wanes.  Volunteer workers grow fewer, and if we are not careful, the once vibrant church becomes irrelevant in the community.  Now, don;t get me wrong.  Central has not become irrelevant.  But it has had to come to grips with the fact that, like Dorothy discovered in OZ,  "We're not in Kansas anymore".  Our own church here is increasingly finding ourselves in a similar set of circumstances.
We can debate and argue about worship styles, programs, dress codes, and benevolent works, but we must not lose sight of the fact that we are called here to "Magnify God, Make Disciples, and Minister to People".  That is our purpose.  We must learn how to do all three in an increasingly post christian culture.  It may involve "thinking outside the ministry box" and finding other ways to impact our communities for Christ.
That is what we want to do here. Perhaps we can gain some insight and pick up an idea or two from our sister church about 9 miles down the road in a neighboring town.
Below is a story about Central Baptist Church and what they are doing to try to impact their community for Christ.  The story first appeared in "The Western Recorder" and was written by Myriah Snyder.  Check it out.
ASHLAND, Ky. (Western Recorder) -- Central Baptist Church's new ministry center, Hope Central, has begun ministering to those in need in its surrounding community in a unique way.
The church looked at the neighborhood and wanted to do something more, something different than they have done in the past. They saw that by-and-large their community had needs, and they wanted to do more than meet "immediate needs," said children's minister and pastor's wife Renee Parsons.
"Everybody is meeting the immediate needs, but they are not really 'long-terming' it. It has created a society of dependency," Parsons commented. "We said, 'Okay, how do we stop doing that and start doing something much more productive?'"
Drawing from the cliché, "Stop giving them fish; start giving them poles," the church stopped giving out money, clothes and, largely, food. Instead, they pointed people to other ministries and resources throughout the area, and they began focusing on a new approach, Hope Central, located in a house next door to the church, Parsons shared.
Two of the main ministries the center will offer will be tutoring and an urban garden.
In cooperation with the public school system in Ashland, Hope Central will use volunteers to offer tutoring services and homework help. Teachers will choose children who need help after the first nine weeks. From 4-5 p.m. four days a week, up to 20 children will meet with tutors in reading and math. From 5-6 p.m., more tutors will be available for homework help.
The urban garden was birthed out of this ministry and is a project for youth at Central. They will apply scriptural truths to gardening, as well as use it for outreach, John Clark, Central's youth pastor, said.
In addition to growing a garden on the church grounds, they are starting a "pallet ministry," Clark said. Each pallet will contain a small garden.
Instead of giving people boxes of food, they will give them a pallet garden. The pallets will open doors for evangelism as volunteers develop relationships with the community.
"We're using our outreach to not just share the Gospel, but also help these people find what they need and get them the assistance they need to help better their lives and show them the love of Christ. It's just a blessing all round," Clark said.
The ministry center will be a hub for many things, including a place for the community to connect with other ministries that they may not have access to, otherwise. Central's VBS ministry will operate out of the center, as well as other services offering job placement or pregnancy crisis help.
The center, which has been in the works for a year and a half, will be fully functioning by October.
"This will be an awesome way to get these people some help, some love, and just give them Jesus," Clark added.
"The kids we are dealing with now are a generation of an already lost generation," he added. "If we don't make some drastic steps to go towards these children and make a difference in their lives, then what are we here for?"

This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Myriah Snyder is a news writer for the Western Recorder.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Happy New (church) Year!


Happy New Year, Westmoreland Baptist Church!

Before you decide that the old Preacher has completely lost it, please understand I’m talking about the “New Church Year” which begins the first of September.

Now, your question might be, “Why does the church year begin on September 1st, when our fiscal year begins on January 1st?”
And the answer to that is simple. 

I don’t know.

As the old saying goes, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
There has got to be a reason that it’s always been done that way, but I’m afraid I am not privy to that information. I do know, however, that it seems to be somewhat common across the SBC (or at least with the SBC churches I know) to start the church year on the first Sunday in September.

Most State Conventions are held in late October or early November, so, the “Annual Church Profile” which is the uniform church reporting letter across the Convention, usually comes to the local churches by the end of August, so the information can be listed and sent to the State and National Convention offices in time for the State and Local Association’s Book of Reports.

Our Greater Huntington Association’s Annual Meeting is always in mid or late October, and the State Convention is always the first week end in November.  This year the State Convention Annual Meeting is at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, WV on November 4-5.

At any rate, it is the new church year, and this is the time when we elect Deacons to the three year active deacon rotation, as well as install new committee members to the rotating committees that make up our church’s Administrative Team.  Deacon Election took place on Aug 21st, and for some reason, we do not officially elect the other officers and teachers until the September Business Meeting, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO TAKE OFFICE BY SEPTEMBER 1ST

I promise you, I will be working with our Nominating Committee and the Administrative Team to make sure this is the last year that this will happen!  We’re going to get that fixed!

There are some exciting things awaiting us in this next church year.  The 2015-2016 church year has seen more baptisms than the last two full years – combined, and we want to thank God for that.  With our new Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Student Ministries (Matt Maynard) now on board, we are already seeing new strides made in those areas.  In Matt’s first month we have seen the youth group increase from 3 to 12!  We have also had a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast, and seen the groundwork laid for periodic and regular departmental, teacher training and communication sessions.

Other good things are in store that I will be able to announce to you in next month’s Newsletter.  Let’s bathe all we do in prayer. Let’s “Cath-Up” on our tithes and offerings that have been way down over the Summer months, and let’s commit to be in our place, and in our respective places of ministry this year, for the sake of the Kingdom and for the Glory of our

Thursday, August 4, 2016

This 'N That

I thought I would share three articles with you which meant a lot to me this week.

The first is an article regarding "Unity in the Southern Baptist Convention".  It was written by Dr. David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church of New Orleans.  Dr. Crosby is a godly man who was a candidate for President of the SBC this past Summer.  He is a godly pastor, who most certainly believes in the inerrancy of scripture, and also understands and practices compassion in ministry and evangelism, while working in one of the great mission fields in North America, "The Big Easy".  Dr. Crosby understands the need for cooperation among those of us who profess to follow Christ - even when we may not totally agree on every little point of doctrine, but we can come together under the broad umbrella of our Baptist Faith and Message. We Southern Baptists will never have uniformity, but we most certainly need to practice unity!  Dr. Crosby's article appears on the New Orleans Baptist Association's website. It can be seen by clicking here

The second article is by Joe Carter and appears on The Gospel Coalition's website.  This article is entitled, " Why We Should Be Grateful For Flourishing Evangelical Seminaries".  Carter makes the point that new data reveal that the largest seminaries in America are the most orthodox and evangelical. It's an encouraging read for those of us who value the worth of quality and doctrinally sound theological education.  Without exception, it is the conservative evangelical seminaries that are growing and flourishing in these days when our culture is spiraling downward.  Having just finished 10 years of serving on the Board of Trustees of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, I have had the blessing to see, up close, the dedication, discipline and hard work that goes on in providing a world class theological education to students through various and constantly changing delivery methods.  Carter's article is a good read, and can be accessed by clicking here.

 The third article is of personal interest to me, as it involves my youngest brother, Carl Adkins.  It comes from the "Atlanta Journal and Constitution" website.  There are big doin's coming up in Atlanta over the next few years that will take the spotlight in the sporting world, and my little bro is right in the middle of it.  After going 3-for-3 in bids to host marquee sporting events over the next few years — the College Football Playoff national championship game in January 2018, the Super Bowl in February 2019 and the Final Four in April 2020 — Atlanta sports and hospitality officials are assembling organizations to plan and manage the events locally. Carl has been named executive director of the local host committees for both the college-football title game and the Final Four. 
Carl is no stranger to hosting big events.  As long time General Manager of the Georgia Dome, he has been heavily involved with hosting the Olympics, Super Bowls, Final Fours, Atlanta Falcons home games, concerts, and other large events.  
We are all very proud of Carl, who began his arena management career as a Huntington East High School student, working at the Huntington Civic Center (Now the Big Sandy Superstore Arena) as a door guard and usher at it's opening event, a concert by Frank Sinatra.  His career path has taken him through moving up the ladder at the old Civic Center to progressive "upward moves" into supervisory and management positions at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, the Nashville Convention Center in  the Music City, on to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, and eventually across the street to the Georgia Dome.
I invite you to read more about the big events coming to Atlanta and my brother's role in two of them. Article can be accessed by clicking here.
 

Why We Should Be Grateful for Flourishing Evangelical Seminaries

Monday, July 18, 2016

"It Only Hurts On Monday"

I thank God for encouragers. God, in His great mercy, always sees fit to send a Barnabas our way when we need one.

Thamer Calhoun is a personal Barnabas of mine. Now, Thamer is a real character.  He's an old Marine.  He's rough around the edges. He'll kind of remind you of Grumpy the Dwarf, only taller. He's tough. Quick to tell you what's on his mind. He's got an opinion on everything, and he'll share that opinion with you at the drop of a hat.  He'll even supply the hat!

He's a little scary at first encounter, but once a fellow comes to know Calhoun, one understands that under that gruff exterior beats a heart of gold.  He loves God. He loves his church.  And he loves his pastor.

Thamer is not the only encourager in our church, but he regularly comes by the office to check on me and often has prayer with me before he leaves.

Several years ago, Thamer came across a book entitled, "It Only Hurts On Monday: Why Pastors Quit And What You Can Do About It" by Dr. Gary L. McIntosh and Dr. Robert L. Edmondson. Thamer gave me a copy of that book when I first came to this church He told me that he had read it, and he was going to do everything within his power to keep me from being discouraged.  For every new Deacon we ordain, Thamer gives them a copy of this book. He encourages them to read it and to take it to heart.  He tells them all, "We need to pray for our Preacher".

Now that is an encourager!

Fact of the matter is that pastors DO get discouraged from time to time, and Monday is always a prime opportunity.  Every pastor understands that.  You work all week, reading, studying, praying, and preparing that message (or messages and Sunday School lessons sometimes as well). By the time Sunday is over, you are spent.  But beside what is expected of us in our teaching and preaching ministry, there is often an outpouring of other "stuff" on Sundays. "Crises" large and small often are brought to our attention - sometimes just before worship service. Sunday is often a grueling day for pastors.

That is why so many pastors take a day off on Monday. The book quotes one pastor as saying, "I always feel lousy on Monday.  That's why I work on Monday because if I'm gonna feel lousy, I'll do it on church time - NOT on my day off!"

I usually work on Monday, myself, but not for that reason.  There are usually a number of issues I followup on that have popped up on the Lord's Day.  I feel more comfortable getting those things addressed and following up on visitors, etc. while all is still fresh on my mind.  I try to take a day off later in the week when I can.

Another great encourager of Pastors whom I know is Joe McKeever.  Joe has been a pastor much of his adult life, and had served as a Director of Missions (and sort of a pastor to pastors) in the Greater New Orleans ares for a number of years.  Like Barnabas of the Church at Antioch, Joe is a true "Son of Consolation".  I am thankful to have met Joe personally and I so appreciate his blog and the daily cartoons he draws for Baptist Press.

Today, Joe posted the following list to Facebook and every pastor should be able to relate.  But you don't have to be a pastor to get a kick out of this post!

Hope it gives you a chuckle - and hope you have a tolerable Monday!

PASTOR, YOU KNOW YOU'RE TOO TIRED WHEN..
1) The threat of being fired sounds great! 

2) You visit patients in the hospital and envy them. 

3) Your goal for today is to get through it without serious damage. 

4) People ask if you've been sick and you answer, "Not yet." 

5) A senior runs by the church to bring you a chocolate pie--your favorite--and you try to avoid her. 

6) The personnel committee offers you a six-week sabbatical and you turn it down because you can't make a decision on what to do with all that time. 

7) You don't recall all the words to "Jesus Loves Me." 

8) You make an extra effort to attend denominational meetings guaranteed to be boring just so you can get some rest. 

9) Your nighttime prayer is "Lord, I'm tired. Amen." And ...

10) along about the time you begin to recover from last Sunday, it hits you that another Sabbath is on its way and today is Thursday. God bless you, preacher!