Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tiny Tim (remember when?)

Lest you think this site is ALWAYS for serious stuff, I thought I would share something with you that my youngest brother, Carl, sent me to "start my week off right".
Hope you get a good yuk out of it.
Brings back a lot of memories for many of us...
but most likely absolutely confusing for younger folks.
Anybody here miss the late 60's?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tonight's Taste of Politics

I happened to catch the last half hour or so of the Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate on MSNBC tonight. Pretty much of a yawner as the questions and answers were the same as all of the previous debates I've seen this season. No new ideas. Lot's of criticism. No definitive solutions. Basically the same old same old. What should we really expect from these debates anyway?

However, it was the last question and the candidate's responses that I found most interesting.

"What's your favorite Bible verse?" Tim Russert asked the democratic presidential hopefuls.

Barack Obama was first. He seemed dumbfounded. He mumbled something about the Sermon on the Mount and then went into the usual talking points about brotherhood and social justice.

New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson agreed that The Sermon on the Mount was "his favorite verse". Seemed pretty obvious to me that neither of them was very familiar with the Bible in general or the Sermon on the Mount in particular.

Hillary Clinton didn't hesitate a second. "The Golden Rule", she said. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." To her credit, she did quote an actual Bible verse.

Mike Gravel didn't even try to quote a verse. He gave a short discourse on love. Period.

John Edwards quoted Jesus as saying, "In as much as you have done it unto them you have done it unto me." According to Edwards, that quote appears "many times" throughout the Bible.

Chris Dodd's favorite "verse" was "The Good Samaritan". He allowed that's the behavior we all need to model.

Dennis Kucinnich pulled a card out of his coat pocket and said he carries it with him at every event he attends. It quoted a prayer of St. Francis asking God to "Make me an instrument of thy Peace." I'm a little confused. What Bible book, chapter and verse is that from Dennis?

Delaware's Senator Joe Biden got a stern look on his face and said his favorite verse was "Jesus condemning the Pharisees". He explained that the Pharisees today are just as dangerous and have gotten us into much of this mess. "Beware of the Pharisees" Biden warned.

These folks are running for President, not "Theologian in Chief", but you would think that most of them might at least be able to quote an actual verse. Mrs. Clinton did and Edwards came close. They all sounded pretty sanctimonious but a little hollow. All are well read, but not many of them seemed to be too familiar with the best seller of all times.

Now, lest I be accused of only picking on Democrats, let me get an equal opportunity jab in on a Republican as well. Idaho Senator Larry Craig has sought to withdraw his guilty plea to the charges of trying to solicit bathroom sex in a men's room in the Minneapolis Airport a few months ago. A judge is considering allowing Craig to withdraw the guilty plea. His decision is due to come down in a couple of weeks.

What makes this all interesting is that Craig, under pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike, had earlier announced that he would leave the Senate at the end of September. Now today he says he will wait to see what the judge's ruling is before he decides whether or not to step down. So now we know that Senator Craig is not only a degenerate - but he's a liar too!

As an interesting footnote, a news agency revealed polling information today that indicates that the present Congress has the lowest approval rating (11%) than any Congress since polling has begun.

And so it goes on the political scene.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Philippine Mission Work

"And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them". (Acts 16:9-10)

In February, 2000 I had the opportunity to do an overseas mission trip for the very first time. Now, understand that I didn't get a "vision in the night" of someone from the Philippines saying, "Come over here and help us", but I DID get an unmistakable calling from God to go. My desire through the late '90s was to go to Poland. I really wanted to have opportunity to go to a country that had been behind the "Iron Curtain" of Communism, and preach the gospel. Our Kentucky Baptist Convention was in partnership with the Baptist Convention of Poland, and I thought surely I would be able to get involved. Yet try as I might, the door of ministry there never opened to me. I had friends who had gone to Uganda, but I never did really feel a call from God to go there. Then God begin to use a fellow pastor friend in Ashland, KY to begin to talk to me about going to the Philippines. It sounded interesting, but I still had that feeling that I wanted to go to Poland. Finally, one night, God began to speak to me through reading Jesus' prayer, "not my will but thine be done." Not long after that a preacher from the Philippines sat at my dining room table and said the words - "Come over and help us." God began to move in my life.

I realized that God did have a foreign field for me to work, but it was far away from Poland. I put it before Him an said, "Lord, if it is your will for me to go to the Philippines, then you will have to make the way possible for me financially." I began to share this calling with friends and within 6 weeks, I had the money I needed to make the trip. After that first trip in the winter of 2000, I knew that God had a work for me to do here to help Pastor Dominador Valdez, a Filipino church planter in the province of Negros Oriental. The little church was 6 weeks old when I first visited. Bamboo poles were used for seats. There was a dirt floor. One light bulb to light it at night under a blue plastic tarp roof. Dogs and chickens roamed freely through the "church", and among the small core group of people who knew the same Jesus I did. God put them indelibly into my heart and I brought the needs back to the USA where others caught the vision as well. Now nearly eight years later, with the help of friends all around the US and the people of a number of churches in Kentucky and West Virginia, God has blessed this group of believers beyond any one's imagination.

Our "Beacon Ministries" mission teams have made 6 short term trips to the Philippines in the last 7 years. We have become acquainted with several wonderful native Filipino Church Planters and their families. Over the years we have shared in the work with Pastor Josue Cadiao and his wife, Christy; Pastor Jolly Ampong and his late wife, Anita; Pastor Benjamin and Emma Marcelino, Pastor Roberto Martin, and others. On my first trip there I stayed in the home of Pastor Reuben Allosa and his wife, Lolina. However, our primary partnership has been with Pastor Doming and Mrs. Villa Valdez in Dumaguete City and their young helpers, Pastor Joseph and Juvy Zerna at the mission work in Mayapusi in the high mountains of Mabinay.

God has blessed us to help raise the money to purchase real estate, the materials to build two church buildings and to furnish both churches with chairs, audio visual equipment, musical instruments, sound equipment, hymnals, and literature. Over the years we were blessed to purchase Pastor Valdez and later, Bro. Joseph new motorcycles for their transportation needs. We have distributed countless Gospel tracts and nearly two thousand Bibles and New Testaments. We have done music, sports, and youth ministry. We have preached in places of business, jails, schools and colleges and at open air crusades. The Gospel has been shared in home Bible studies and house to house evangelism and many classrooms in several schools.

Lord willing, we will be going again in January 2008. Along with our regular evangelistic activities, plans include holding a pastor/church leader seminar for 30 or more evangelical pastors on Negros Island. This will be a wonderful blessing to those precious pastors working for the Lord under a very difficult set of circumstances. We are praying that the text materials will be provided through the gifts of our friends here. We have a capable group who will be leading this seminar.

Please join me in praying that God will work every thing out according to His will.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Unless you have been under a rock somewhere you have probably heard that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York City today. The President of Iran is here to address the United Nations and, as per his usual M.O., he has stirred up quite a stink.

The diminutive populist leader of the largest terrorist sponsoring state in the world had the gall to request a police escort and taxpayer sponsored protection for a photo op of him laying a wreath at the former site of the now fallen World Trade Center's Twin Towers. The first report was that Mayor Bloomberg was going to allow it, but I was thrilled when I saw NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelley say, "No." That was not going to happen. The sawed off Islam-o-fascist former Mayor of Tehran was offended by the decision to keep him away from that hallowed ground. Can you imagine that? In this writer's humble opinion this character is not worthy to even step foot on American soil.

After all, some of his stated goals are to rid the world of the influence of "The Great Satan", (the USA) and to "wipe Israel from the map". He jails dissidents and critical members of the press in his own country. His country is pouring millions of dollars of arms into Iraq which are being used by insurgents to send our men and women home in body bags. He is pursuing a nuclear program which has an unsettling effect on that troubled region, and the whole world! Many western intelligence sources believe that Ahmadinejad, who denies the historic accounts of the Holocaust, is planning one of his own. What a guy! Hitler would be proud.

Even though Ahmadinejad's trip to ground zero was short circuited by common sense, Columbia University, in an act of unbelievable disregard for the memory of the dead of 9/11 and the sensibilities of our Jewish citizens and our Israeli allies, has extended him an invitation to speak at that great university.

Now don't get me wrong. I am all about free speech. I thank God for our Bill of Rights which allows me to speak freely on any subject, popular or not. While on American soil, the Iranian president (while he jails students and political opponents in Iran) has the right to be wrong. Furthermore, he has the right to express that wrong opinion. That being said, however, why should Columbia University offer him a forum for spewing his hate, or issuing false propaganda? Why dignify this low life with such a "bully pulpit"? Why insult our allies and our fighting men and women by giving him a single photo op - much less an open microphone? Free speech? Sure. Common sense? Far from it!

How ironic that the Holocaust denier be allowed to speak at Columbia. The thirteenth President of Columbia University was none other than Dwight D. Eisenhower, who as a five star General, was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II. After Germany's unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945 the country was divided up into four occupation zones governed by the US, Great Britain, France, and The Soviet Union. Eisenhower was made Military Governor of the US Occupation Zone. It was under Eisenhower's watch at Frankfurt that the full revelations about Hitler's death camps began to come to light. As Military Governor, General Eisenhower ordered camera crews to document the full extent of the atrocities and the horrors of the Holocaust, lest anyone (including this madman from Iran) should ever try to deny it's existence.

The very thought of Ahmadinejad being invited to speak at Columbia, where Eisenhower presided from 1948 to 1953, is enough to make poor old Ike turn over in his grave at Gettysburg!

Dr. Lee Bollinger, Columbia's President who issued the invitation should be ashamed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Family Tragedy, Half A World Away

Rowina Gantalao is one of the young ladies who attend the New Life Christian Church in the Philippines. We first met "Weng Weng", as she is known by her friends, several years ago on one of our short term mission trips to Oriental Negros in the Philippines. She was a student at The Asian College of Science and Technology (ASCAT) and very active in the youth group at New Life Church. We have watched Weng's progress from a member of the youth group to one of the active young leaders in the church, and a valuable companion to Pastor Valdez' wife, Villa.

Pastor and church planter Doming Valdez and his family had founded the New Life Church in the barangay of Batinguel, Dumaguete City in January 2000. Weng is one of the many young people whom they have led to Christ and discipled. A few years ago Weng was instrumental in getting the College to allow our mission team to visit each classroom to share the Gospel and give copies of the New Testament to every student who wanted one. A large number of college students made professions of faith in Jesus Christ that day, and we gave away over 150 New Testaments. Weng, along with the other faithful members of New Life Christian Church in Dumaguete and Mayapusi Southern Baptist Church in the mountains, have become like family to our team members.

Joseph Spurgeon, one of the young men who was part of our last mission trip to the Philippines, has stayed in touch with Rowina via email and an occasional telephone call. Joey left me a message last week to pray for Weng and her family because her father had died. I didn't know any details, but certainly felt a heavy heart for Weng and her family (none of whom I had ever met). Last night I received this email from Pastor Valdez' wife:

"We thank God for protecting us (Joseph,Juvy,andme)during our risky slippery trip to Guihulngan (homeplace of Weng, about 122 kilometers away from Dumaguete City) to tend to Weng and family.
Weng's father was stabbed to death last night at their homeplace at Guihulngan. We went there to assist Weng and family to file a case to that killer . He's now in jail awaiting for the hearing of the said case. We also proceeded to the funeral home where we held the funeral service in memory of Mr. Gantalao (Weng'sfather).
We didn't like to leave the grieving family but we need to get back home to Batinguel for we will be having our Sunday school and Sunday Worship Services tomorrow at NLCC and MSBC.
I will be leaving for Guihulngan tomorrow morning right after the morning worship service... Burial will be on Monday at 1p.m. at the Guilhulngan cemetery, PastorDoming will be the preacher at the funeral service as well as the graveyard committal service.
Please pray for God's comfort for Weng (Rowina Gantalao) and the Gantalao family. Weng has three brothers and two sisters.We have just arrived from Guihulngan and we're heading home now to get some sleep and to wake up early tomorrow for Sunday activities.
I need to go now and I am closing this with the hope and prayer that you are all well and blessed!!!
Your loving sister,

What a shock! It is difficult enough to deal with the loss of a loved one, but one can only imagine the grief of having a loved one murdered. Everyone on our mission teams will feel touched by that tragedy. God has bonded our hearts together with those of the people that we have come to know and love over the past few years.

In my several trips to Oriental Negros, we have never been to Guihulngan, but I do know where it is located. Over the years I have regularly read the Oriental Negros online newspaper, "The Visayan Daily Star" and have noted that Guihulngan seems to be a very dangerous part of the province. There have been a number of murders, kidnapping and other violent crimes in that region. The rebel communist New People's Army (NPA) has a strong presence in that area, which adds to the lawlessness of that region. That may be why Pastor Valdez, as our protective host, has never taken us to that part of the island. I have no information as to the circumstances of Mr. Gantalao's murder (whether NPA related or not) but my heart is pained for the loss that must be felt by Weng and her family. They will certainly need our prayers during this difficult time.

As we say in this part of the country, Doming Valdez and young Joseph Zerna have a "difficult row to hoe". It is a hard trip for Pastors Valdez and Zerna and their families to go to Guihulngan (distance and expense wise) but I am not surprised at their faithfulness to minister to Weng and her family in their time of loss. But that's what God's people do. I have nothing but admiration and love for these precious servants of the Lord who minister to their people under very arduous circumstances.

I know that Weng will be OK. She has strong faith and knows that God's grace is sufficient for every need she has. I do not know about the rest of her family. My fervent prayer is that the surviving members of the Gantalao family will be able to see beyond the tragedy and respond the the message of Grace exhibited by the faithful believers who are seeking to minister to them during this terrible time.

Weng, when you read this post, please know that we love you and that your "American family" is lifting you up in prayer from half a world away.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Two Memorable Encounters

I always enjoy Joe McKeever's Blog ( and try to keep up with it daily. Joe is the Director of Missions of the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. I have had the pleasure of meeting Joe two or three times through his association with my son, Jay, who is one of his pastors in BAGNO. Joe's posts are always varied and run the gamut from SBC and local association news and information to sports, politics, and all things New Orleans. He often mentions the corrupt politics of Louisiana which rivals and probably even surpasses the corrupt politics of West Virginia.

In today's post, Joe mentions that former Governor Dave Treen is seeking to have President Bush issue a pardon for former Governor Edwin Edwards, who has served five years of his federal conviction on racketeering charges. Since I had lived in Louisiana, during one of Governor Edwards terms of office, the mention of his name caught my attention. I met the Governor once when he was a regular visitor to Coleman Oldsmobile, in Baton Rouge, where I worked as a sales manager. Mr. Bob Coleman, who was a native of Port Arthur, Texas was the owner of the dealership and a close friend and financial supporter of the Governor. "The little Cajun", as Mr. Coleman called Edwards, often stopped by the dealership at the corner of Goodwood Boulevard and Airline Highway to confer with our boss.

Actually Edwards was the SECOND Governor of the Pelican State that I had the pleasure to meet. The first was former Governor Jimmie Davis. In fact, I met Governor Davis twice - about eight months apart - both times in the Theater Barber Shop on Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge. Both were memorable encounters with a most interesting character.

Having just arrived in Baton Rouge in early October, 1978 I was living alone there in my rented home while Linda and the boys were still back here in West Virginia, tying up loose ends. They wouldn't move down there for another few weeks. I was badly in need of a haircut but had no idea where I might find a new barber who wouldn't butcher me. (As most guys know, finding a new dependable barber is one of the perils of moving) One of the fellows at the dealership suggested the Theater Barber Shop. It wasn't far away and it was easy to locate there beside the Broadmoor Theater. The owner of the shop, Jerry Johnson, was a personable fellow who, like most barbers, carried on a running conversation with the guy in the chair as well as with those who were waiting. The time passed quickly and soon I was in the chair.

While he had me turned toward the mirror someone entered the shop, out of the line of sight from the chair and took a seat in the waiting area. Jerry cheerfully greeted the newcomer with a "Hi Governor!" I thought that might be his standard greeting - much like Vernon Holbrook in Ashland, KY who greeted everyone by calling them "Cuz". The newcomer fell right into the conversation and I remember thinking what a melodious tone his voice had. The subject of the conversation centered around "the old days" and this fellow had a number of stories to tell about growing up in Jackson Parish in a large family the son of a sharecropper. He claimed he didn't have a bed to sleep on till he was nine years old. I sat there being clipped, fascinated by his stories, and captivated by his mellow voice.

When Jerry turned me around in the chair, I caught my first look at this guy and recognized him immediately. He WAS a governor! It was Jimmie Davis, the former "Singing Governor" of Louisiana. His face was recognizable to me as I had seen it for many years on record album covers in my Dad's Gospel Music collection. Jerry must have noticed the surprise on my face as he said, "C.J. I would like to introduce you to our former Governor, Jimmie Davis. Governor, this is C.J. Adkins who just moved here from West Virginia."

"West Virginia! Governor Davis said with a smile. "Home of my dear friend Robert Byrd." I mentioned that my grandfather had served with Senator Byrd in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1946 to 1952 and he listened with what appeared to be genuine interest. Naturally I told him that my Dad had a number of his records back home and I had been hearing him sing gospel favorites for years. He seemed pleased.

Jimmie Davis was the 43rd and 47th Governor of Louisiana - serving his first term from 1944 to 1948 and his second from 1960 - 1964. Interestingly, both times he was succeeded in office by Earl K. Long, the younger brother of "The Kingfish" Huey P. Long - the legendary Governor and U.S. Senator who was assassinated in the Capitol Building in Baton Rouge. Davis was probably most famous for recording "You Are My Sunshine" which incidentally was designated as the official Louisiana State Song in 1977. During his second term of office, Davis built the Sunshine Bridge, spanning the Mississippi, the new Governor's Mansion, and the Toledo Bend Reservoir. All of those were controversial projects at the time, but later were applauded as good for the state. He is also remembered for riding his horse, "Sunshine" up the Capitol steps on his inauguration. Davis, like many other southern governors of the day was a segregationist, but he apologized for his actions later in life.

It was quite an honor for me to meet the former Governor. I called Dad nearly immediately upon getting back to the office. He was surprised and pleased as I was. That was a memorable encounter, but as Paul Harvey says, "Here is the rest of the story." It was June of the next year when I next happened to meet Governor Davis. Again it was at the barber shop. I was sitting in the waiting area with my six year old son, Jay. The door opened and in walked Governor Davis. I smiled and nodded to him, certainly having no reason to believe that he would have remembered me from that first encounter eight months earlier. He took one look at me and said, "Well, it's the young man from West Virginia! What was your name - Adams?"

"No sir but that's mighty close" I replied. "It's Adkins."

"Oh yes" he said ruefully. "I should have remembered that. I must be getting old" he chuckled. (He was nearly 80 years old at the time).

He glanced about the shop and noticed the large number of men and boys waiting for the barber and allowed, "Jerry, I'll be back later or I'll catch you tomorrow." And with that he was out the door.

I was utterly amazed that having only met the man once - eight months earlier - he would even remember where I was from - much less nearly remember my name. After all we had only been introduced that one time. I expressed that feeling to the barber, Jerry, who said, "That's how a guy like him gets to be a guy like him. He never forgets anyone!"

I never saw Jimmie Davis again, but I will always remember those two encounters with "The Singing Governor". He must have been quite a guy!

It was with interest 21 years later, that I noted the news article of Governor Davis' passing in November, 2000. He was 101 years of age and had lived longer than any one who had ever inhabited a Governor's Mansion in any state.

The story didn't mention any details about the funeral service, but I would be surprised if "You Are My Sunshine" was not one of the musical selections.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Some Thoughts On God's Provision

A story is told of a poor dirt farmer in the dust bowl area of Oklahoma back in the mid 1930's. Oil was discovered on his property and a major oil company presented with a check with six "0's" in it. Now he and his wife had learned to live on very little. There was never enough of anything but hard dry ground. Now they were told that they could afford anything they wanted. Upon hearing the news of their new prosperity the farmer drove his old pickup to the general store in town where had always traded. The store owner (who had already heard the news) welcomed the farmer with a cheerful, "What can I get for you today?"

The farmer said, "Well there are some things I need - the usual. Give me a couple of pounds of bacon, a dozen eggs, and a sack of flower. We'll need a five pound bag of sugar and a couple of pounds of pinto beans, and my wife needs three yards of gingham material." The merchant, waiting for the farmer to start clearing the shelves in a wild shopping spree, said, "What else?"

"I guess that will do it", replied the farmer.

"That's it?", the shop owner asked incredulously. "You can afford to buy this whole store. Heck. You can afford to buy the whole town! Why are you just asking for your usual meager order?"

"Well, a man's got to be careful", the farmer said. "It's hard times, you know."

While most of us will never have that type of financial windfall, I think there is a very strong spiritual lesson for each of us in this story. You and I are basically needy people. The needs we have abound... financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, familial, etc. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of those needs. However, those of us who have come into a personal relationship with Almighty God, through His Son, Jesus Christ have access to resources beyond our imaginations. Much like the Oklahoma farmer, we become accustomed to "getting by" and subsisting on very little when as "King's Kids" we truly have nothing to worry about!

This is not one of those "name it and claim it" or "blab it and grab it" messages. It is simply a reminder of some of the promises of our God that you and I have been given. When Paul writes in Philippians 4: 13, "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus", he means exactly what he says. After all, He is Jehovah-Jireh - the "God who Provides". It's an Old Testament truth. It's a New Testament truth. It's a present day truth. What particular need do you have? God has provided for it.

One of my favorite Bible messages that my Dad preached when I was a kid, was found in Genesis 22, when Abraham was tested by God. Old Abe was called upon to offer up his son, Isaac to God as a sacrifice. Now this in itself would be an unimaginable task for any father, but for Abraham it meant everything. One of the things God had promised him that a great nation would come from him. It looked as though the promise was meaningless. He was childless. He had no heir, much less any prospects of fathering a great nation. Then as a Centenarian, God gave him a son. This was the child of the promise. This child would be the genesis of that great nation God had promised. Now, several years later, that same God was asking Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice.

Talk about a mind blowing test! Yet Abraham didn't flinch. He didn't fully understand what God had in mind, but he believed God. In fact, that is what is said of Abraham three times in the Bible - he believed God and God counted that to him for righteousness. The passage records how Isaac questioned his father. "We have the wood and the fire but where is the lamb for the sacrifice? the young man asked. "The Lord will provide..." came the answer from the old man. Well, I'm sure you know the rest of the story. Abraham was ready to follow through on God's request when his hand was stayed by the Father. He was instructed to turn and there he found a ram caught in a thicket, and was allowed to offer it for a sacrifice.

Verse 14 of Genesis 22 records these words - "And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-WILL-PROVIDE; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided". (NKJV) "Jehovah-jireh" is translated "The LORD who sees" and "The LORD who provides" in various translations. The truth is that the Lord does see, and the Lord does provide for His people. Here is what Matthew Henry wrote concerning this verse:

"A new name is given to the place, to the honour of God, and for the encouragement of all believers, to the end of the world, cheerfully to trust in God in the way of obedience: Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide (v. 14), is probably alluding to what he had said (v. 8) God will provide himself a lamb. It was not owing to any contrivance of Abraham, nor was it in answer to his prayer, though he was a distinguished intercessor; but it was purely the Lord's doing. Let it be recorded for the generations to come, that the Lord will see; he will always have his eye upon his people in their straits and distresses, that he may come in with seasonable succor in the critical juncture."

We must not forget this great truth. God provides for His people. Whatever the need.

Getting older has had an unusual effect in my life. (Actually it's had a lot of unusual effects but I only want to talk about one at this time!) While He has gone a long way to teach me much more patience than ever before, I have grown more consistently impatient with Christians who don't trust God to take care of their needs. Eloquent words of prayer are spoken when we call upon God, but hearts seem to be far from believing. The words we speak may be right, but in to God it probably sounds like this:

"Lord, I know you spared Daniel in the Lion's Den" we intone. "I know you brought Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through the fiery furnace. I know you caused the sun to stand still in the battle with the knocked down the walls of Jericho... you parted the Red Sea for your people... you brought water from the Rock... but Lord, I've got this HOUSE PAYMENT!... I have this MEDICAL CONDITION!... My EMPLOYMENT SITUATION is unbearable!... My KIDS are beyond hope!... My NERVES ARE SHOT! (Take your pick)

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat was facing an overwhelming crisis. He felt powerless in the face of the enemy, yet in verse 12 he prays these words to God - "...neither do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."

Paul the Apostle prayed this prayer for the Christians in Ephesus. It is my prayer for you today:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3: 14-21 (NKJV)

What is your need today? You may THINK you know, but God most certainly does know! My challenge to you today is stop living BELOW your means! Quit worrying. He is in control and He cares for you.

Look to God for your provision. That's part of His business - and He is mighty good at it!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Some Thoughts On Giving

All that we have belongs to God and we owe him EVERYTHING.
James 1: 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning

Romans 12: 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

He asks for 10% to be returned to Him.
Jacob's example:
Genesis 28: 22 And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

The Mosaic Law:
Leviticus 27: 30-32 'And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD s. It is holy to the LORD. 'If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 'And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD.

Jesus commends the practice:
Matthew 23: 23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Those who withold what is God's are thieves!
Malachi 3: 8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.

Those who do not put God first in their giving will suffer financial hardship!
2 Corinthians 9: 6a But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly

Malachi 3: 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me

Haggai 1: 3-6 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! "You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes."

God will bless those who give Him back what is His!
2 Corinthians 9: 6b and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Malachi 310b - 12 And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. 11 "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts; 12 "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts.

The house of worship is where the tithe belongs
Malachi 3: 10a Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house,

It should be brought in on the Lord's Day
1 Corinthians 16: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper,

It should not be done for recognition by men.
Matthew 6: 1-4 "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. "Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, "that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

People can't be FORCED to give, but they should give from an attitude of gratitude.
2 Corinthians 9: 7-8 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Time For A "Refill"

Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?
- Psalm 85: 6

One of the most interesting things about Christians – all Christians - is that we sometimes “leak”.

God wants us to be filled with His Spirit, and He provides the ability for us to be just that, and sometimes we are! But sadly, we tend to leak. It’s hard to identify one particular thing that causes us to lose the closeness of our fellowship with our God. It’s often a combination of things. Sometimes it’s weakness during a time of temptation, and we find ourselves in some type of situation where God would not want us to be. We might get there through lack of personal Bible study and prayer time. Maybe we get cold due to laziness and a lack of being with other believers in regular church attendance. Possibly the lack of applying the truth of scriptures and Christian principals to our daily lives brings us to a low spiritual ebb. Maybe it’s just letting our problems and the cares of this world get the best of us, when God wants us to cast all of our cares upon Him.

Whatever the reason (or combination of reasons) we often find ourselves recognizing our need for REVIVAL. Like the Psalmist in the scripture verse above, we need to realize that true REVIVAL only comes from God, and that He is the one who can once again bring rejoicing in the hearts of His people.

We have certainly sensed the seeds of REVIVAL at Westmoreland Baptist Church. We have seen a number of people follow Christ in Baptism. There have been several other new additions to our church body. In the last few months I have wonderfully felt God’s presence in my life, and in the services in our church. God’s Spirit has been knitting hearts together in love and fellowship. He is moving upon individuals to step out to serve Him and to begin new ministries. He is working in individual lives exhibited by actions in which folks have put the happiness and well being of others ahead of their own desires. I have seen people reaching out in love to others in a particular time of need. I could go on and on.

However, I don’t believe that we have even scratched the surface of the spiritual blessings that God wants to pour out upon us in real REVIVAL. All of these good things are just a foretaste of the time of REFRESHING that God wants you and I to have in our relationship with Him! I’m thirsting for that. How about you? Will you join me in effectual fervent prayer that God will REVIVE us again, that we, His people, may rejoice in Him? It must start in my house and in yours.

All around our nation there is a rising sense of our need for prayer and spiritual awakening. Yesterday Baptists from the all around Kentucky joined together at various locations around the Commonwealth to pray for spiritual renewal. Here in West Virginia we are preparing for the “Broken Before The Throne” prayer conference week in November. I hear reports of other rumblings of spiritual revival from various places around the country. Could it be that God is preparing to bring about another “Great Awakening” in our midst?

My challenge to EACH and EVERY member of Westmoreland Baptist Church and every reader of this blog is this. Let’s prepare in prayer. Let’s commit to present ourselves fully to God – as a living sacrifice. May we parents and grand parents lead our families by example. May church leaders lead in the most important areas of God’s Grace. Let us lay aside the peripheral issues of our “busy” lives for a season of dedication to God and to hearing His Word. I challenge each reader to prayerfully, expectantly, and with your cup turned up to receive what God has for YOU!I truly believe we will experience not only REVIVAL, but a SPIRITUAL AWAKENING in our community!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11

It’s one of those days that are forever etched in one’s memory. You remember where you were and what you were doing when the news came. It was the day our country came under attack from a brutal enemy who plotted and carried out the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent people. The enemy combatants did not wear the uniform of some hostile foreign nation, but in a cowardly fanatical allegiance to a false God, stealthily sent men and women and children to their deaths in a conflagration like had never been seen on American soil.

September 11, 2001 started out like any other workday. Here in Ashland, KY it was a pleasant late summer morning. A thick fog bank (which would burn off quickly) covered the three avenues that ran parallel to the Ohio River. As I drove to the Post Office early that morning I came through a break in the fog that revealed a bright cloudless sky and what promised to be a glorious day. The weather was much the same in New York City, Washington, DC and Shanksville, PA where thousands of people had no clue what was about to befall them in specific and the United States in general. It was a day that would change all of our lives forever.

Back at my office I delved into the day’s work. There were policies to change, service requests to process and phone calls to return. The first time my phone rang that morning it was my daughter in law, Leigh Anne who was home with her eight-month-old baby. “Are you watching this?” she said excitedly. I was busy and a little irritated at the question. “Watching what?” I asked. “I’m at work!”

“A plane has hit the World Trade Center in New York. There is a huge hole in the side of the building and flames are everywhere!” Immediately my mind went back to the story of the plane that struck the Empire State Building back in the 40’s. I assumed that naturally this latest crash must have been an accident involving a small private plane. Leigh Anne said that they were reporting that it was a larger plane, possibly a commercial jet. I was wondering how that could be possible when she cried, “Oh no! Another one just hit the other tower! I just saw it!” That was enough. I said goodbye, hung up the phone, and locked the office door as I headed across the driveway to turn on the TV at the house. That’s where I spent the rest of the day, like millions of Americans, glued to the television in disbelief.

The story continued to unfold through the day and none of us knew where this would all end. Would Chicago be next? LA? All of the commercial aircraft in American airspace were grounded. We watched in horror as the twin towers collapsed one after the other. We saw the Pentagon burning. Live pictures showed people running from the U. S. Capitol building. Unbelievable! We all remember the day. The numbness. The disbelief. The outrage. How could this be happening in our own country?

Commercial airliners had been hijacked and used as guided missiles. We didn’t know exactly who the enemy was but we knew he was cold blooded and without conscience. The attack had been unleashed on our financial community and our military headquarters with total disregard for the lives of thousands of innocent civilians. The great American machine came to a screeching (but temporary) halt. Families were destroyed. Children were orphaned. A plane was reported down in a field in Pennsylvania. We later learned that a heroic group of passengers on United flight 93, after learning what had happened to three other hijacked aircraft, rose up and stormed the cockpit saving the Capitol or the White House from taking the final hit from the terrorists.

Later that evening impromptu prayer vigils sprang up in churches in our town and all around the country. We came together as a nation against a common (though yet unidentified) enemy. Phrases like, “In God We Trust”, “God Bless America”, and “United We Stand” began to appear on business marquees and signs. American flags were flown from nearly every home and place of business. Houses of worship were full that next weekend, as our people (Protestants, Catholics, and Jews) came together as Americans seeking the face of God in our nation’s darkest hour.

Time has passed. Six years, in fact. We have learned much about our enemy. Although most of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, they claimed no particular state allegiances. They are followers of various Imams and Mullahs who preach hate and destruction against anyone whose faith is different than their own “jacked up” theology. The amazing claim was that they were doing this to appease an angry god they call Allah - a supposed deity who would reward them for their mass destruction of “the infidel” with an eternity in paradise, attended by 70 virgins.

It has become apparent that our enemy is not necessarily another nation. Our enemy is radical Islam. The proponents of this false religion are bent on the destruction of Christianity, Judiasm, and even western civilization, as we know it. America and Western Europe are the prime targets of these cowardly terrorists, along with the most hated enemy of all, the state of Israel. Friends, this is a war that we must fight to the end.

I am sickened by those who have said, “The Islamists believe in the same God we do. They just call him by a different name.” Hogwash!! The God of the Bible is infinitely different from the Allah that these fanatics claim to serve. The God we know through His Son, Jesus Christ doesn’t expect His followers to die for Him. He died for us! The God of the Bible is a Holy God, but He is a God of Grace and reconciliation. Because of our sinful nature, we could not go to where He was, so He came to us. He changes our lives through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit and He sends us forth into the world – not to kill the infidels, but to tell them of His love for them. To share the good news that they can indeed have eternal life, simply by trusting Jesus as their Savior and giving themselves to Him as a LIVING sacrifice.

This enemy cannot be allowed to continue to spew hate and destruction in the name of some false god. We are in a fight for our lives and for our culture. Our very existence is at stake and we cannot degenerate into infighting and bitter partisan politics in the face of such great danger. We MUST be united against those who would destroy us. After 9/11, we weren’t identifying ourselves as Republicans and Democrats. We were Americans first and foremost. All of the petty differences faded into insignificance.

Six years later one can only wonder what has happened to that spirit

Monday, September 10, 2007

When Things Don't Turn Out Like We'd Hoped

We should all be able to relate to the narrative about Lazarus in John chapter 11. We all have our own "Lazarus". That is a person, thing, or institution on which we have placed our hopes and dreams. Somewhere along the way most of us have said, along with Mary and Martha, “Lord, if you had been here this would not have happened!” Many of us can certainly relate to dashed hopes and are in need of new beginnings in our lives. The Sickness and subsequent death – and the resurrection of Lazarus – gives us somewhat of an insight into three stages of passage through which broken dreams could become new beginnings. Here are some truths we learn from John chapter 11.

What to Do When It Is Dusk (John 11: 1-16) Mary and Martha were living in the dusk in these verses. Their dear brother was sick and even through the darkness of death had not yet arrived, they knew it was near. Thomas was also living in the dusk. Listen to him in verse 16, talking of Christ’s imminent death, saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” There are some DO’s and DO NOT’s for us to consider when it seems to be dusk all around us.
  • DON’T live in denial (1-2).
  • Don’t depend upon performance (v 3),
  • don’t get impatient (vs 5-6), don’t panic (vs 7-10).
  • DO call on the Lord (v 3).
  • Do look for a purpose (vs 4, 11-15, 40).
  • Do find a promise (v 4), and do take action (v 16).
  • When dusk comes and your dream seems to be dying, don’t just sit there, call on the Lord and take action.

What to do When It Is Dark (John 11: 17-37) What do we do when our dreams have died? Lazarus was no longer sick – he was dead! What should we do when our own dreams are dead? Again, here are some do’s and don’ts.
  • DON’T hold back your tears (vs 33-35),
  • don’t dwell on what might have been (v 21),
  • don’t forget what you already know (v 22),
  • don’t blame God (v 37),
  • don’t procrastinate (v 29).
  • DO face some big questions (v 26),
  • do be honest with your feelings (vs 21 & 32),
  • do be yourself (vs 20 – 21, 32),
  • do reach out yourself to someone who is also hurting (v 28),
  • do meet the Lord half way.

Like Mary and Martha, when our dreams are dead, we are prone to ask, “Could not Jesus who opened the blind man’s eyes keep Lazarus from dying?” But, we like them, might also find that what we think is a broken dream just might be an opportunity for a new beginning.

What to Do When It Is Dawn. (John 22: 38-44) The Lord Jesus still resurrects broken dreams today and turns them into new beginnings. It is important for us to know just what to do when the new day arises. The dawn brought three things to this little family. It brought light (vs 38-40), the stone was rolled away. It brought life (vs 41-44) Lazarus came forth. It brought liberty (v 44). He was loosed and let go.

What a great ending to a sad story! Have you ever read a novel that had a twisting plot. Lots of characters and lots of surprises? You get to the end and likely say to yourself, “I should have seen that all along.” But yet yoy didn’t. Mary and Martha said, “Lord if you had been here Lasarus would not have died.” True, perhaps, but neither would the Lord Jesus have been able to take a broken dream and turn it into a new beginning, for His glory and for our good.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"Grandma's Song"

Here is a poem I wrote in 1981 regarding my Paternal Grandmother, Victoria Pack Adkins. "Aunt Vic", as she was known by her large family, was born August 4, 1891 on Queen's Ridge in Wayne County, WV. She and my Grandfather, Caudle Adkins, Sr. were married on November 15, 1919 in Ironton, OH after he had returned from World War I. He had been gassed by the Germans in the battle of the Argonne Forest. He had lifelong health issues as a result of his injuries and eventually died of lung cancer in 1959.

Together, they raised three sons (Millard Joseph, Caudle Jr. and Samuel Everett Adkins); and a daughter, (Lola Diane Adkins Presley). All but my father are now deceased. A fourth son, James Ray, died as a little child, and my Grandmother also delivered a set of still born twins. After a successful gall bladder surgery, she developed a blood clot that suddenly and unexpectedly took her life on November 15, 1955.

She cooked thousands of meals, washed a mountain of clothes and helped mold the lives of her children and grandchildren. Mamaw was a kind and loving mother and grandmother who lived her faith daily. I am blessed to have had a wonderful Christian heritage. Victoria Pack Adkins was an important part of that heritage. This is for her...

"Grandma's Song"
Victoria Pack was as lovely then
As a delicate mountain flower;
When she found her young man and held him fast,
With a tender but lasting power.
He was home from the war across the sea,
When the century still was young;
He was drawn to her, as though by the power,
Of a siren's song she'd sung.
There had been others who'd shared in his life,
But none of them could compare;
To the sound of her voice - her hazel eyes,
Or the light of the moon on her hair.
They courted, married, and lived on the farm
Where he, himself, had been born.
She bore the children and nursed them, while he
Raised beans and potatoes and corn.
Tho' things were bad when the stock market crashed
At the old home place times weren't so hard.
The family was fed by the fruits of the earth,
And the chickens that scratched in the yard.
Victoria knew that physical food,
Would never satisfy
The spiritual needs her children would have,
As the years would go swiftly by.
She brought the kids up in the Baptist Church,
And prayed that each would see
The blessings of God; and she taught them to sing,
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me."
She came from the stock of old pioneers,
Who knew about right and wrong.
Forever she'll live in my memories,
Along with the words of her song.
By the time I knew my Grandmother
Her voice was shaky and weak;
Her face deeply lined; her body was frail;
But her faith was still at it's peak.
She died when I was five years old,
And left Grandfather alone -
For four more years, until he too,
Would move to their Heavenly home.
My father still has her hymnal at home;
It's yellowed and brittle pages;
Remind me that her soul is at rest,
In her blessed Rock of Ages.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Happy New Year!

That may sound a little strange, coming in early September, but that’s exactly what we are facing – a new year. September 1 begins the new church year 2007-2008 and a number of new things are in the works at Westmoreland Baptist Church.

Our Nominating Committee has been busy for the past few months with their annual task of finding willing, talented members to serve in various capacities in our church’s ministries. I certainly appreciate the work of that team. Anyone who has ever been a member of that process knows how time consuming and difficult it can be. It requires hard work, much prayer, and a dependence upon the Spirit of God for leadership. They have come up with an excellent group of teachers, officers, and team members to work for the Kingdom Business to which we are called.
A number of transitions are in progress. We will have a new Mother’s Day Out director for the coming year. AWANA will see some new faces in leadership as Randy Spurgeon will be taking on the duties of AWANA Commander. With Randy’s concentration on the important children’s ministries, that leaves more of the load in our middle school and high school student ministries to volunteers like Jim and Cathy Bailey, Tara Lockhart, Angie Morris, Josh Spurgeon and Mindi Bell. Let us not forget to pray for Cheryl and Roger Bledsoe and their family as Cheryl continues to recover from the serious injuries she received in July on the Youth Mission Trip. Cheryl and Roger have been key workers in AWANA, youth ministries, and VBS activities in recent years, and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

September will be kicking off a new Men’s Outdoor Ministry. Rick Dean is helping to put this project together, which will combine outdoor activities for men and boys with a spiritual emphasis and Bible messages. A number of our guys have already made a trip to a huge outdoorsman equipment store in Wheeling. A dove hunt, wild game dinner, turkey hunt, and possible fishing trip are all in the works. We pray that this ministry will bring many of our men closer together in fellowship with one another, and lead into a closer walk with God. Women’s ministries are alive and well also. Julie Wood is leading an 11 week Beth Moore Bible Study called “Living Beyond Yourself” beginning September 4th.

October will see a special evangelistic emphasis with a two day event here at the church featuring John Jacobs Next Generation Power Force. We hope to make an impact for Christ on our community as this team will hold some school assemblies, and minister here at the church on Sunday the 28th and Monday the 29th. This team will use their amazing physical strength as an attention getter – to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We expect our church will be packed on those two evenings, and pray that a large number of people will respond to the Gospel message and accept Christ as their Savior.

Our desire to reach more children and families for Christ is the motivation behind another new ministry that begins this year. We will be sponsoring an “Upward” sports ministry here that will include Christ centered basketball, cheerleading, and soccer teams for children. Dino Dygert and his daughters Ashley and Dina are heading up the basketball and cheerleading work and Jeff Lockhart will lead the ministry in its spring soccer program. Prayer Commissioners, Paul and Betty Clevenger have set up a network of 10 prayer teams with more than 100 people participating in “100 Days of Prayer” seeking God’s blessing upon this ministry and upon Westmoreland Baptist Church. “Upward Sunday” on November 4th will cast the vision for this ministry before our entire congregation.

Mission work will continue through the coming year, with our ongoing work in Wayne, WV, and in the Philippines, through support of church planters Doming Valdez and Joseph Zerna, and through our giving to missions through the SBC’s Cooperative Program. Our young people will also be working toward other mission opportunities.

A new twist will also be evident in our Fifth Sunday Fellowship Dinners as Bob and Becky Moses will be serving in a newly created role as “Fellowship Coordinators”. The “Pot Luck” format of the church dinners will remain the same, with everyone bringing meats and other covered dishes. The difference is that Bob and Becky will be recruiting Sunday School classes and other ministry groups, to take on the duties of “hosting” these dinners (and the few other church wide fellowship times we may have during the year). The classes who volunteer to host one of the events per year will be in charge of setting up, serving, and cleaning up after our fellowship activities.

This change will serve two important purposes. First, it will involve more of our church members in this ministry of serving, and secondly, it will free up the former “Hospitality Committee” to focus on another important ministry that they do so well. They will now be known as the Bereavement Ministry Team, preparing meals for families who have experienced the death of a loved one. This is a vital mission in showing the love of Christ to those who are grieving.

Randy is actively working to increase enrollment in the various music ministries of the church. Several new members have joined the adult choir, and the youth and children’s choirs will be starting up again this month. As always, you can look for several special musical programs coming up at Christmas and Easter.

Newly elected deacons Charley Dygert, Brian Cunningham, Scott Bell, Randy Short, and Joseph Spurgeon will join present active Deacons Steve Howerton, Rick Rakes, and Dino Dygert and their yokefellows in servant ministry.

Lots of activities are planned. But we are not going to be busy just for the sake of staying busy. Each work and ministry of the church is geared around our three goals of “Magnifying God, Making Disciples, and Ministering to Others”. There are places that every member can serve. I hope you will find your place.

“Happy New Year!”

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Special Privilege

Last night I had the privilege of baptizing one of my grandsons.

Two of our four grandsons are now baptized believers in Jesus Christ, and what a comfort that is. As I get older the sense of urgency grows in me to see others come to Christ. (see my blog post of August 23 "Bring the Little Children to Jesus") I am so thankful that two of our grandchildren have made that decision. Quint was first. He was baptized by his father, Jay, at their church in the New Orleans area. We couldn't be there on Easter Sunday to see the special event, but we were blessed to receive the photos via email. Quint is a second grader in a Christian school and has been taught about Jesus since his birth. When the Holy Spirit began to deal with his heart, he responded and accepted Christ by faith.

Will was next. Like Quint, he has been brought up in a Christian home and in church. He has had the benefit of Bible teaching at church and at home. Neither of the boys were "pressured" by their parents or teachers to accept Christ. Thankfully the adults around them knew to simply present the message of love and forgiveness in Christ and were sensitive to the Holy Spirit's direction. Both of the boys can explain what God has done in their lives and how they came to be saved. Both of them can use the "Evangicube" to share the plan of salvation.

Last night was special for me. Linda and I had planned to attend Rose Hill Baptist Church in Ashland, KY as soon as we learned the date of Will's baptism. Randy Spurgeon agreed to fill the pulpit for me at Westmoreland Baptist Church so we could attend the service in Kentucky. We certainly just planned on being part of the congregation there, but I had a pleasant surprise in store. Pastor Ronnie Mayes and the Rose Hill congregation, knowing that I was Will's grandfather and also a Baptist Pastor, graciously offered to allow me to perform the ordinance. What a joy that was! I have had the blessing of baptizing both of my sons and now one of my grandsons. I want to thank Dr. Mayes and his good folks for allowing me this unexpected privilege.

It was great to renew old acquaintences with a number of friends at Rose Hill. The service was good and Will's father, Ben, sang a solo and did an excellent job. Pastor Mayes brought an excellent message from Hebrews 1: 4-20 in a series he is doing on Sunday nights. With us at the service were Will's other grandparents, Lance and Linda Clanton, and his great grandfather, Burgess Bowling and his friend Mary Ann Taylor. It was special to think that Linda, Lance, my Linda and I were all present in North Carolina for Will's birth. Now here we were to see him publicly starting his new life in Christ.

I have long known that I am going to Heaven when I die. Now, along with Linda and the boys and their wives, I know that two of my grandsons will be there too. My fervent prayer is that Their little brothers Canon and Asher will also be sensitive to the Spirit of the Lord and respond positively whe He begins to deal with them in their lives.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Little Dose Of Politics

I admit to being a news junkie in general and a political junkie in particular - have been for a long time. I guess I may have inherited the “political gene” from both sides of the family. Both of my grandfathers were staunch Roosevelt “New Dealers” and were active in local politics in southern West Virginia in the mid 20th century. Caudle Adkins Sr. was involved in Lincoln County politics and was awarded with a political patronage position as a supervisor for the Works Projects Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression. His mother in law (from a rare Republican family in neighboring Wayne County) referred to him as “That Democrat”. Maternal grandfather Jerry Stidham was an official with the United Mine Workers of America labor union and was very active in Logan County political scene. He was elected to three terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates. In fact, when I was only three months old, he took me to the floor of the House chamber in Charleston and introduced that august body to his first grandchild.

As a young man, my ambition was to one day serve as Governor of West Virginia. Didn’t happen. Considering the fate of some of the state’s former chief executives that’s probably a good thing. I don’t think I would have enjoyed prison life, or driving a cab in Chicago. The gene was strong enough, however, to lead me to seek elected office (non partisan of course) on three occasions. My political career consisted of an unsuccessful race for Ashland, KY City Commissioner, and two tries for a seat on the Board of Education – missed on the first attempt, successful on the second.

My time on the school board was personally fulfilling and I felt that I made a positive contribution to my community. I believed then as I do now, that it is important for Christians to be informed citizens and involved in their government – on the local, state, and national levels. I was preparing to run for a second four year term on the board when the Spirit of God spoke to me while listening to a message at a Promise Keepers pastors conference in Atlanta in February 1996. It wasn’t in an audible voice – of course. It was much louder than that! “I didn’t call you into public service”, he said. “I called you into ministry.” It was that simple. My “political career” was over.

While my ministry responsibilities take more and more of my time each year, I still try to keep up on what is going on in the political scene. Now my involvement has changed from a more active participant to merely an interested observer. Biblical principles often intersect with current events and political issues and require the man of God to speak to those things, but he must take care to keep personal opinions to himself. Even though I have my own strong opinions on many things political, I am careful to keep partisan politics out of the pulpit. Tony Evans once said, “Almighty God does not ride on the backs of donkeys or elephants.” God has called me, and other pastors to a greater calling, and our focus must be on lifting up Jesus. Paul the Apostle expressed this philosophy when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (NKJV)
That truth, however does not keep me from being personally interested in political goings on of all types - especially presidential races. The 2008 presidential election is still a year and two months away and I am already beginning to suffer from “presidential race information fatigue”. Good grief! There have already been more than six nationally televised debates which have included front runners, second tier candidates and wannabes with no chance at all of getting elected. I am far from impressed with any of the so called front runners in either party. Hillary is typically “Clintonian” in her “any way the wind blows” political correctness. Obama is a fresh face who seems to be a charismatic sort of fellow, but his naivete, especially on national security issues is frightening. Edwards, the former North Carolina Senator comes off as plastic and phony, while trying to evoke a “Kennedyesque” image.

On the other side, Rudy Guliani showed great leadership leading New York through the trauma of 9-11, but his personal life is a shambles and he is pretty weak on a number of moral issues – including abortion. Multi millionaire Mitt Romney is a fresh face also, but his slick packaging and past flip flops on important issues leaves me cold. I admire John McCain for his military career and his sacrifice as a Viet Nam POW for over five years. But he was one of the Senators implicated in the “Keating Seven” scandal a few years ago, and his unpopular support of the President’s Iraq policy and amnesty for illegal immigrants has caused his popularity to fade quickly.

Some of the other candidates seem to be solid fellows. A few of the wannabes might be perceived as “nut jobs” . Most of them don’t have a snowball’s chance at being elected, due primarily to the fact that they just haven’t been able to raise the multiple millions of dollars it takes just to get ready for the primaries! Actor and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson says he will announce formally his candidacy on September 6th. He has created a buzz earlier in the summer with his unannounced candidacy. He has a recognizable face due to the fact that he has appeared in many movie roles, and has been a regular on NBC’ “Law and Order”. Conservatives seem to like him, but his terms in the U.S. Senate were somewhat nondescript. USA Today reports in its August 31 issue that “he has only raised $3.5 million of the $5 million he projected that would be needed” to finance his campaign.

I personally like Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor and Governor of Arkansas. He is likable and well informed and addresses issues I feel are important. He has moved up in the polls in Iowa in the past few weeks but he has a couple of “problems”. Newsweek magazine’s latest issue says that he is probably “too nice” to have a chance at being elected (especially against Mrs. Clinton) but his biggest problem is that he only has about a million dollars in his war chest. Gee. Only a million dollars…

The task of competing for the privilege of occupying the Oval Office is becoming a full time fund raising job. The average person (or the one who doesn’t have a lot of generous friends) need not apply.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Dee Dee's Wedding

Linda and I just returned from a two day trip to Louisville, KY where I was privileged to officiate the wedding ceremony for a special couple. Diedra Dawn Adkins (no relation) was just a young teenager when I was first called to serve Wayside Baptist Church about 21 years ago. She was the oldest of three Adkins children there at Wayside. Dee, her younger sister Katie, and brother David and her mother, Juanita, were some of the most faithful members of that small congregation. In the first service of my pastorate there I remember that Dee sang "El Shaddai" and did an excellent job. She was a likable young girl. Now she is the wife of David Wayne Handy. May they live happily ever after.

Dee moved to Louisville not long after high school graduation and has worked hard to make a way for herself in that city. She had held a number of jobs ranging from an Emergency Medical Technician to working with "at risk" children, and teaching classes at Fort Knox and at other government sites. It was in the performance of her duties that she became acquainted with David, who is a mechanic with the Kentucky Army National Guard. He is a fine young man who has already pulled two tours of duty in Iraq. He and Dee are deeply in love and are devoted to each other. Their personalities mesh well together and they and their many friends and colleagues seem to have a special relationship.

The outdoor wedding was held at a beautiful park called Farnsley-Moorman Landing on the banks of the Ohio River just past the southwest corner of Louisville. The weather was great. Temperatures were in the 80's under the bright sun but the constant breeze along the river made the conditions perfectly comfortable.

It was good to spend some time again with Juanita, her kids and their spouses. David, who we called "Yogi" back in Little League and his wife Rachel were there with their lovable chubby little 7 month old son, Ethan. Sister Katie who has recently earned her doctorate in Physical Therapy was there with her family as well. It's hard to believe that it has been eight years since I "tied the knot" between Katie and David Rollins at Ashland Baptist Church! I could hardly believe how their beautiful daughters, Hannah and Lexi have grown. Time passes so quickly...

I asked one of the girls how Juanita was going to differentiate between the three when she calls son David Adkins, or sons in law, David Rollins and David Handy. Three Davids in one family! Dee said that for her, her brother would be "Yogi", her brother in law, would be "Dave" and the new husband would simply be "David". Juanita says that it will really be convenient for her as she ages.

"Only one name to remember", she said with a smile.