Thursday, February 7, 2019

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year




I can't take credit for this article - because I did not write it, but I thought it was pretty good, considering the culture in which we live. It was written by a good friend of mine who wished to remain anonymous, but gave me permission to post it. So here it is!

How many of you knew that the most important holiday of the year takes place in March? You may ask, “Really? Which holiday is that?”

Some may think that it is March 1st, Zero Discrimination Day. The United Nations, in its infinite wisdom, set this day aside to promote the concept of ending discrimination globally. Great idea, but how is that working so far? (Nope, not this one)

Could it be Mardi Gras (5th) or St. Patrick’s Day (17th)? After all, you get to dress up, act out, and drinking large quantities of alcohol is a central activity. How come we don’t celebrate “National Hurling Day” on the 6th and 18th? (Nope, not these)

Here are a couple of days with real merit - Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) (5th) and National Oreo Day (6th). What’s not to like? Liberal consumption of some of our favorite foods. The only thing better is National Bacon Day on December 30th. (Nope, not these either)

National Puppy Day (23rd). “Who’s a good boy, who’s a good boy?” We love our dogs and treat them like family. They bring us joy and laughter. If you voted for this one you’re barking up the wrong tree. (Nope again)

Near and dear to my own heart are: National Napping Day (12th) and World Sleep Day (15th). If these two observances don’t seem important to you...just wait. As you get older, being unconscious becomes a way of life. (Nope its not zzzzzzzzz.....)

Oops, I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, the most important holiday of the year. Drum roll please.

International Day Of Happiness

Another UN gem. On June 28th, 2012 the UN unanimously adopted this day to, “inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement.” Its a biggy. Can it be long until we see advertisements for “Hallmark’s Countdown to International Day Of Happiness Movies”?

You see the theme behind all these supposed “holidays”. Its the pursuit of happiness, joy, and satisfaction whether through food, alcohol, partying, or by decree. What the world refuses to recognize is that two existing holidays, Christmas and Easter, already celebrate what thy are trying to achieve.

Christmas is the time we celebrate Jesus taking on an earthly form, being the example of God’s love, delivering God’s Word, and preaching the way of salvation.

Easter is the time we celebrate Christ rising from the dead and the promise of eternal life for those who trust in Him.

You can recognize every holiday that mankind can imagine, but it will still leave you empty. Accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior gives you something to really celebrate: forgiveness of sin, salvation, and eternal life in Heaven with Him.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Our Mission Trip Is On!!!

 
I am thanking our God today for so many blessings.

He has opened doors for us to leave for the Philippines on March 5th for an intense 10 days of mission work with native pastors and church planters on the island of Negros, in the Central Visayan area of that beautiful island Nation.

Our work will consist of evangelistic efforts, in home settings, and in outdoor crusades in cities and villages of the province of Negros Oriental.  We will also work in church strengthening efforts, assisting pastors there with resources and financial aid that are not normally available to them. Several of the young churches are in building mode and hopefully we will be able to help, physically, and financially in some way.  Thanks to the generosity of the Greater Huntington Baptist Association, we will also be hosting a pastor's seminar and workshop for the pastors and leaders of TWO small, but growing local associations of Southern Baptist Churches in that province.

Besides myself, our team will consist of Pastors Randall Robertson and Paul Harris; My Student Ministry Pastor, Joseph "Buck" Buchanan, and a lay person making her second trip with us, Mrs.  Jenny McClave. Randall and Paul have been part of several mission trips there with me.  This will be Buck's first overseas mission work and we are all excited about how quickly God has made this effort fall into place.

We had intended to make the trip in January but our plans were changed.  We were ready to purchase plane tickets in August, and then I got the most recent cancer diagnosis.  The prognosis was not good. There was much uncertainty at that time over treatment options, future procedure schedules, and what my physical condition would allow in 5 months.  So, sadly and prayerfully, we put our plans on hold. We prayed for God's guidance because each of us felt that He wanted us to continue in this ministry with our partners in the Philippines.

It's all in His time.


I got the OK from my Oncologist in late December to "travel and do whatever I felt I could do", but I must not miss any of my bi monthly immunotherapy treatments.  Although I have experienced some fatigue following treatments, I am feeling fine and the only effect it has had on my pastoral ministry is the two days a month I have the treatments at the Ashland Bellfonte Cancer Center. The liquid benadryl drip I receive before the infusion of the main medicine pretty much puts me out of commission for the remainder of the day.  Other than that I have been able to handle my pastoral duties and have not missed a service since treatments have begun.  We began to look into the possibilities of making our trip after all.  Our Philippine partner, Pastor Josue Cadiao, confirmed that the period of March 7 - 17 would be a time that would work for them.  Amazingly that fit my scheduled treatments almost perfectly.  I will have my treatment on Monday, March 4, and our flight leaves Charleston on the morning of the 5th.  The long trip will bring us to our destination in the Philippines on the morning of the 7th.  We will be able to minister there through Sunday the 17th.  That gives us two Sundays for the four of us pastors to preach in various churches there - in the city and the mountains. We will arrive back in Charleston on Monday evening, March 18th and I can have my next treatment on Tuesday the 19th, which will be only one day late (which is allowed). 

As we say here in Appalachia, "Ain't God good?"

One of God's great blessings to us was that we were able to purchase plane tickets at the LOWEST fare of all the trips I have made there in the past 19 years!  And furthermore, we were able to get reservations at the Bethel Guest House in Dumaguete City for that period of time, at a most affordable price. The 10 night stay there will cost each of us about $250 (American) about the price of 2 nights in a moderately priced American Hotel. 

Ain't God good?


We team members have each paid for our plane tickets and bear the cost of our own lodging.  The rest of the cost of the trip (ground transportation, gasoline, generator, outdoor lighting, "easy ride" vehicles for us and our Filipino partners, food for them during travel, rental of facilities, costs of pastor's workshop materials, Bibles, Gospel Tracts and other materials) are made up by the generous donations of our friends here in the USA.  We have sent out letters to some who have been supportive in the past and have begun to receive some generous donations.  For those who read this post who have not received a letter, and would like to help in this work, we would be happy to accept your assistance.

If any of our friends here in the US have any questions or would like to help in some way, I can be contacted by private message on Facebook, or emailed at pastorcj@frontier.com.  I can give you details as to how contributions should be made out to Beacon Ministries, Inc.

One thing that EVERYONE can do to help - is the greatest thing of all.  PRAY!  Be a prayer partner with us, remembering that we will be exactly 12 time zones ahead of you who are on Eastern Standard time here.  Your night time will be our day time activities.  While you are sleeping here, we will be doing our daytime activities there. When we are having our 7PM outdoor crusade services, many of you will be rising for work or school. I hope that you will make time to pray for us all hours of the day and night.  Pray for safe travel. Pray for our health and physical strength.  Pray for God to multiply our finances like He did with the Little Boy's Lunch in Jesus' hands.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to go before us, preparing hearts for the message of the Gospel. Pray for the native Filipino pastors and their families.  We are only there for 10 days, and they labor there 365 days per year.

You will be able to keep up with some of our activities there, as Jenny, Buck and I will be posting on Facebook and Twitter periodically.

Thank you to those who have already given generously.  Thanks in advance for your prayers and for any financial assistance you can offer to this ministry.  Grace and Peace to all!

Monday, December 17, 2018

16 Years Of Ministry At Westmoreland Baptist Church

This week marks my completion of 16 years as pastor here at Westmoreland Baptist Church. 

My mind goes back to that first Sunday in December of 2002.  My, what a volume of water has passed under the bridge in the years between then and now.  The records I have kept indicate that I have preached or taught 2362 sermons or Bible Studies, officiated 184 funerals, 30 weddings, and 149 baptisms since coming on board here.  Those, coupled with hundreds of home visits and bereavement calls and who knows how many hospital and nursing home visits, study time in sermon prep, numerous Sunday School lessons taught and scores of counseling sessions, have accounted for a lot of effort expended.

There have been good times and great times.  There have been lean times, hard times and bad times.  There have been times of loss and times of blessing and spiritual refreshing.  Without taking anything away from the 5 other churches I have served in pastoral ministry for the past 47 years, I can truly say these 16 have been some of the most fruitful and fulfilling years of my ministry.

All of the churches I have served in Kentucky and West Virginia have multitudes of wonderful people and I remain close with a number of folks from each of those churches.  But the people of Westmoreland Baptist are the faith family I have served the longest, and we have developed a wonderful relationship.  

One of the true difficulties in modern churches, I believe, is the rapid turnover in pastoral leadership.  I think that the amount of time that God has allowed me to spend here at WBC has been a span that brought stability to a church that had had a revolving door pastoral situation for a period of about 12 years by the time they called me.  The longevity feature for me has helped my hone my preaching skills and pastoral experience. Even though I had 31 years of ministry experience when I came here, it was here that I have developed and hopefully improved my understanding of the importance of expository preaching.

Have we grown numerically by leaps and bounds?  In a word, No.  But I do see spiritual growth among many members, and due to the extreme number of funeral services I have done, and the willingness of surviving members to adapt and reassess ministries and programs, I do feel that we are certainly on more stable spiritual ground than when we came.

We have revised our old 23 page constitution to one of only 8 pages, seeking to simplify our organizational structure. We are seeking to do more outside ministry and have launched into some ministries that would have not been considered 16 years ago.  Christian Education structure and worship styles have slowly evolved and we have truly transitioned in what I think are positive ways.

So much more I could talk about, but I just want to thank God, publicly for bringing me here and to thank the faith family of Westmoreland Baptist Church for allowing me to continue serving here these 16 years.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Give Thanks


1 Chronicles 16:34   Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

1 Thessalonians 5:18   give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

These are just two of scores of verses in God’s word that remind us to offer up thanks to Him. Not just in the month of November, but every day and in all circumstances.  We all know that it is easy to offer thanks to God when all is going well, but there is so much to be thankful for – even when we feel that the “bottom has fallen out” in our lives.

This is Thanksgiving season – and I am thankful that we have such a national holiday. Abraham Lincoln declared a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, and it has been observed every succeeding year. His proclamation was that we set aside the last Thursday in November to be a national day of “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficient Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.

Today, as I write to the faith family of Westmoreland Baptist Church (and others who will read this) I just want to take the liberty to publicly give thanks for His blessings on me.

First and foremost, I thank Him for the gracious gift of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.  I am thankful for His plan of Salvation that starts and ends with Him. My role in receiving Eternal Life was simply to “repent and receive”.  Everything else about it comes from God.  He chose me. Christ died for me – taking my sins and their penalty upon Himself.  He gave me new life in Christ – abundant in the here and now and eternal in it’s very nature!  He brought me into relationship with Him and there was nothing good I could bring into the transaction. Saved, according to His Word alone, by His Grace Alone, by Faith Alone, in Christ Alone, and all for the Glory of God Alone.  Thank you, Lord!

I am thankful for my family. A wife who I do not deserve, two godly and loving sons and their beautiful and Christian wives. Five grandsons who literally light up my life in these last years of it. I’m thankful for a home. It’s not a palace and not much in the eyes of this culture, but it has been a safe place to live for the last 38 years and a sanctuary in which to raise my family.  I am so blessed. Thank you, Lord!

I thank God for His calling me into ministry.  I thank Him for the six churches in West Virginia and Kentucky that He has blessed me to serve, for the many people I have met and loved, and the many lessons I have learned in this 47 year process. I am so blessed.  Thank you, Lord!

I am particularly thankful for the past 16 years that He has allowed me to serve here at Westmoreland Baptist Church. They have been some of the sweetest and most fulfilling years of my ministry. I have had the blessing of knowing and ministering to numerous saints that have gone on to Heaven. We have seen a time of transition in our ministries here in the church and in the community.

 I have watched children grow into adults and hopefully have helped (along with other teachers and workers) pour into their lives the message of the Gospel and a passion for it. I am thankful for the various staff members with whom I have been blessed to labor. I thank God for Randy Spurgeon, Cathy Bailey, Chery Bledsoe, Rick Weber, Bub Amis, Matt Maynard, Buck Buchanan, Sonia Jones, Denise Kraning, Linda Leibee, Carla Bell, Josh Spurgeon, Ted Keown, Jim Fugate, David Curnutte, Charley Dygert, Billy Lemaster , Jim Bailey, Pat Gunnell, Seth Howerton, and Jenny McClave.  Each of them have been a blessing to me in numerous ways.  Thank you, Lord!

Finally I want to thank God for His working in my life through two different types of Cancer and other physical maladies that have come my way.  Like Paul of old, I recognize that they are simply a messenger of Satan, sent to buffet me, and that God’s Grace has been and will continue to be sufficient for me.  His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  I have learned to appreciate and to claim the truth the Psalmist revealed in Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”  I have truly been blessed. Thank you, Lord!

Let us give thanks to Him in every circumstance. “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

I Finally Have Some Answers


   I promise that I will not use this forum just to air out information regarding my illness, but for the sake of my friends, literally half way around the world, allow me to share this update. 

     It was just over a month ago that routine tests on my kidneys revealed something "suspicious" in images of my liver. "Multiple lesions" appeared and more extensive scans were ordered. CT Scans verified the lesions and the fear was that my metastatic colon cancer of 14 years ago had returned to my liver.

     Coming off surgery and 30 radiation treatments earlier this year for Merkel Cell Carcinoma on my head and neck, this new revelation regarding lesions in my liver was most disconcerting. Having been free of the earlier cancer that had ravaged my liver 12 years ago, naturally I dreaded the thought of it's return and the possibilities of more grueling chemotherapy.

      This past month has been tough, waiting as they say, for the other shoe to drop. Although at peace in knowing that God is in control, the waiting for tests and diagnosis is arguably the toughest part of disease. The not knowing is difficult.

     Well, yesterday the mysteries were solved as I met with my Oncologist, Dr. Kirti Jain, for results of the recent PET scan and liver biopsy.  The results were a mixed bag.  Good news and bad news.

     The good news is that the metastatic colon cancer had NOT returned. After all those years in remission - the healing still holds!  As a result of the no colon cancer diagnosis I will not be subjected to chemotherapy. And for that I can say "Thank you Lord". 

     The bad news, however, is that the biopsy on the lesions in my liver showed it to be the Merkel Cell Carcinoma which has metastasized from the original tumor removed from my forehead in February. So, even though extensive plastic surgery was done to my forehead, and 30 radiation treatments to my head and neck were done - the cancer has popped up again, this time in my liver.

     Merkel Cell Carcinoma is a small cell skin cancer (similar to melanoma in that it can be deadly and can metastasize to other areas of the body).  It is a very rare malignancy but extremely aggressive.  You can read more about it here.  Furthermore, the chemotherapy that exists for Merkel Cell is highly ineffective. It seems to work early on, but then shows no effect at all.  More hopeful treatments for Merkel Cell involve immunotherapy.

     I will be undergoing an infusion twice per month designed to strengthen my body's immune system which in turn will (hopefully) impact the MCC and stifle its growth in my body.  Further good news is that the immunotherapy does not have the severe side effects of chemo.  There is no cure for MCC but hopefully my immune system will respond in a positive way.  Either way, God is in control and his Grace is sufficient for this - and any other circumstances I may face.

     Many of you have been lifting up prayer in my behalf. (some have promised me "positive vibes" but I really don't know what that is!)  I want to thank you for your prayers and hope you will continue to make intercession for me whenever I may come to your mind.  I am resigned to whatever God has in store for me, whether it be complete miraculous healing, or taking these immunotherapy infusions for the rest of my life. I am thankful I will not have to undergo the debilitating regimen of chemo as I did twice before!

     So, my plan is to continue on with my ministry and daily activities, thanking God for His blessings and doing all I can in the days and years I may have remaining.  When it all comes down to the final analysis - that should always be our desire.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

A Tale Of Two Funerals

This week was one of those weeks that every pastor dreads. I was called to lead three funeral services in a period of six days.  The first two were for "members" of our church (more about that later) and the third was for a young man who I had known since he was a high school classmate of my oldest son.  This fellow (age 45) had suffered a debilitating stroke five years ago and had been the resident of a nursing facility ever since.  My heart goes out to his sister, who is now the last remaining member of her family.  He had lived in Cincinnati for many years and his sister is in Bethlehem, PA. so obviously, they were not members of our church, but good personal friends, nonetheless.

The two funerals I want to focus on for the purposes of this post were for the two whose published obituaries listed the deceased as members of Westmoreland Baptist Church.  I define a church member as a born again, scripturally baptized, individual who embraces the local church through regular worship attendance, fellowship with other believers, involvement in discipleship ministry, regular proportionate giving to the ministry and mission of the church, and taking part in at least one ministry of the church.

The first of the two individuals I am speaking of, along with his spouse were long time, active members of Westmoreland Baptist Church. He had been saved and baptized as an adult in the 1970's. Those who knew and worked with him witnessed the powerful change Christ brought about in the life of this man. Over the years he had served the church in various capacities including the office of Deacon. His wife has taught in our former PreSchool ministry and has taught 1-3 grade Sunday School for longer than I have been at this church.  They almost never missed a Sunday Morning worship service, and I smile when I remember him always smiling and waving at me from his perch on the front row center section of the balcony!  Although my practice is never to see the personal giving records of anyone in our church, I am advised that this couple gave regularly and generously to the work of the church.  Their love and personal encouragement for this pastor goes beyond what I can express.

The other "member" is someone who also joined this church in the 1970's.  Church records indicated that this individual went on "Inactive Membership" status (a misnomer I will address later in this post) in 1993.  That is 9 years before I came to serve this church in 2002.  I can probably count on both hands (with fingers left over) the number of times this individual attended worship services in my 16 years as pastor.  Our financial secretary, upon my request, told me she had no record of giving for this "member". No participation in any ministry of our church and not present or involved in any discipleship growth efforts. Even though this person was on inactive status since 1993, there were numerous times that I was requested to come visit at their home and on occasion in the hospital. There were also intermittent requests for various types of assistance, including home repairs - which we tried to help with, and sometimes referred to agencies who could assist better than we could.  The attitude expressed in return was something akin to "What have you done for me lately?"

I had been told by this person on several occasions that "This church doesn't care about me" even though we had attempted to minister to this person numerous times - even though they had chosen to have little, or nothing to do with our fellowship.  Even with assistance we did provide from time to time,  they often spoke badly of our church in the community.  On the last occasion one of our church members encountered this person, this other  "member" said angrily, "I'll never step foot in that church again!"  Yet, when news came of that individual's death, the person was listed in the newspaper obituary as a member of our church. The family carried out the written instructions of the deceased to have the memorial service in our sanctuary, and that I would do the funeral.  They had even left scripture reference for me to read.    

Naturally, I attempted to minister to this family in their time of loss, and shared the gospel at the funeral service, to those who were in attendance - many of whom I did not know.

The purpose of this comparison is not to praise someone and disparage another.  Each of these people were created in the image of God and are entitled to the dignity that goes with that.  However, there is a vast difference between these two, who were both listed as "members" of Westmoreland Baptist Church.

Our church has a Membership Committee which faithfully updates our membership list into several categories. There is an "Active" membership list; a "Homebound" list, an "Inactive" list, and a "Non Resident" list.  The Non Resident list had been created with a good purpose. It would include military personnel stationed in another area, students away in college, folks who were temporarily deployed to other areas by their employers and even missionaries on foreign fields.  These would be people who were otherwise "active" members of the church, who were temporarily distanced from us due to circumstances beyond their control.  However, over the years it has also morphed into folks who have permanently moved away, but never complied with the agreement in our church covenant that they would promptly "seek to unite with a similar church" in their new location.  This is a problem that needs to be fixed, but my larger problem lies with the "Inactive" membership list.

I'm sure our fore bearers included this category, with the idea that erring and missing church members could be ministered to, and hopefully restored to fellowship.  This is a noble goal, consistent with scriptural teaching, and something that every church should do when these unfortunate situations occur.  My problem with this category is the entire concept of an "Inactive Member".

It is an oxymoron!

One who is not connected to the body and not involved in it's functions is NOT a "Member" of the church. If there is one more thing I would like to see accomplished  before my time of service here is done is to do SOMETHING about this category.  When our clerk reads the membership status in our quarterly business meetings there are as many "inactive members" listed, as there are "active members". 

What is wrong with this picture?

My proposal is two fold.
1). Find some new nomenclature for that category, ie. "Out of Fellowship"  "Missing in Action" etc. 
2). Go back to what I am sure was the original intent - to seek to minister to and restore to the fellowship.  However there needs to be an actual effort to do just that, and a time limit (perhaps six months to no longer than one year) to either accomplish restoration, or to remove those names from our fellowship. Our Lord cannot be pleased with a long list of names of people who desire to "keep their names on the book" yet are missing from the body,  it's work, and it's fellowship.

Obviously, these things are an internal matter that the "active" members of WBC need to deal with.  My purpose today is not to air our laundry to the public, but for the purpose of this post is just to remind readers that, if you identify yourself as a member of a local church - then be a "member" indeed!                       

Saturday, August 25, 2018

First Time For Everything


Today, after expenses were covered, we raised over $580.00 for a mission project in the Philippines with a 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament at the Westmoreland Baptist Church gymnasium.

None of us who were involved had ever hosted a 3 on 3 Tourney before - and it probably showed. Even so, it was a blessing to see our first (feeble) efforts come to fruition. Thanks to the cherished sponsors (shown here), and the ten teams participating, and our dedicated volunteers, we will be able to bless Pastor Nico Folio and his little church in Manjuoyd, Negros Oriental with a special, one time gift for their most pressing needs.

This project was a "learn by doing" experience, and we thank everyone involved for their patience and cooperation. It's hard to list all of our volunteers for fear of forgetting someone, but I believe they do need to be mentioned. 

Unfortunately we just discovered that one of our sponsors was accidentally left off the shirt due to the printer's error. Dr. Stephen E. Howerton, General Dentistry is a major sponsor of our Sports Ministry, and is a faithful member of our church. We regret this inadvertent error and extend our apology and thanks to Dr. Howerton.  We will do whatever it takes to make it right.

Darrell Clark served as tournament director - assisting in enlisting sponsors and being a registration contact. Darrell set the tournament brackets and helped referee the games. My son, Benji Adkins (a former middle school and high school basketball coach also served as an official for all but the very first game.  Ryan Smith and Mike Cummings were also helpful as referees.

Youth Pastor, Buck Buchanan, took care of online reservations, picked up 70 shirts from the printer, and helped enlist teams. Buck helped with the clock and scoreboard during much of today's action. His wife, Kellie, and Travis Dunkum  also helped with clock operation and scoreboard. As always, Michael Cline was there to do whatever was needed.

Ralph Scarberry planned our one day concession stand menu, and Misty Anderson, Jamie Smith, Alanna Cline, and Jenny McClave helped keep everyone in snacks and hydration.

Angie Morris assisted with check in of teams, collecting entry fees and making sure every participant received a T- Shirt.  Rusty Dillon had designed our publicity poster, and local morning radio show host Tom Roten, allowed Darrell and I to come on his program publicize the event, and he had sons who played on three of the teams entered.

Vinson Middle School Basketball Coach and former Marshall player, Josh Perkey, brought a team and promised to get heavily involved in assisting us next year.  We also thank Bulldog Graphix for their assistance in what is probably their busiest week of the entire year!  A number of our church folks fielded their own teams and therefore did double duty!

Most of all, I thank the players who took part of their Saturday, and paid participation fees to help us in this mission project. We had teams in three divisions going from Middle Schoolers through adults.  I couldn't be more proud of my church for the support and participation of so many of our members - for the sake of the Gospel and assisting others in a distant land.

So, prayerfully there will be a "Second Annual Hoops for Missions" 3 on 3 tournament next year.  We hope to take what we have learned the hard way, to make it bigger and better in 2019.  We will begin planning much earlier, and try to schedule the tourney on a more optimal date.  So, if the Lord allows, we hope to see many more involved in this worthy project next year.

To our sponsors and volunteers - THANK YOU!  You are a blessing!