Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Off To A Good Start

Vacation Bible School at Westmoreland Baptist Church is off to a good start this week.

The Outrigger Island theme has gone over well with the children and adults alike.

Attendance has averaged just over 100 for the first three nights

I certainly appreciate the hard work from Co-Directors Tara Lockhart and Jeana Blatt, as well as the many dedicated teens and adults who are faithfully ministering to these children during VBS. It's a labor of love that can have eternal impact on these precious children (and their families)

Here are some random photos from the first night of VBS.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Block Party for Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School begins at Westmoreland Baptist Church on Sunday, July 27th and runs each night from 6:00 - 8:30 PM through Friday, August 1st.

Today was our Block Party and Pre-registration was held on Saturday from 11:00 AM till 3:00PM in the church parking lot. The kids and adults who attended had a great time with inflatables, face painting, various games, and refreshments. The weather cooperated with no rain and we all got plenty of sun!

Nearly 50 children pre-registered today and we expect a good number more to show up on the first night of VBS.

Face painting and the inflatables were big hits with the kids!

Here is a view of some of the early arrivers - while skies were still overcast. It cleared up later and brother, was it hot!

The sanctuary is decorated and ready for VBS to kick off on Sunday evening.
The theme this year is "Outrigger Island: Living God's Unshakeable Truth". The key verse for the week is Psalm 86:11 "Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name." (NKJV)

Classes will be provided for kids from age three through those who just completed the 6th grade. There will be Bible Lessons, refreshments, mission lessons,
crafts, recreation activities, and lively music, all with the "Island theme". If you live in the Huntington, Ashland, Ironton area, it's not too late to get your kids enrolled. They just need to show up on Sunday evening at 6:00 PM. They'll have a great time, make new friends, and learn more about Jesus!

Budding Radio Stars?

Today was a first for grandsons #2 and #4 (Will and Asher Adkins). Today they sang on live radio and the World Wide Web.

My Dad, Rev. Caudle Adkins, Jr is beginning his 31st year of "The Lighthouse" radio broadcast on WEMM FM, 107.9 in Huntington, WV.
The program which airs at 4:00 PM on Saturdays has become a fixture on the local Christian radio station for three decades. Dad considers it a ministry to his many friends and especially to folks who are elderly and homebound. He has a rather large listening audience and regularly makes a number of church announcements and dedicates songs to many of the listeners who have contacted him during the week. The music he plays is generally southern gospel, with some Christian bluegrass, and what I would call "mountain harmony" in the mix. He usually delivers a short message during the last 10 minutes of the half hour program. Dad can get more said in 10 minutes than most of us preachers can say in twice that time...

Today the boys had come with me to a Vacation Bible School Block Party and pre registration at the church from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, while their Mom is out of town for a business meeting, and their Dad was working on a paper for a summer class in his Master's Degree program.
By the time everything had closed down at the Block Party I decided we would stop by and surprise Dad at the radio station before his 4:00PM broadcast.
The surprise was on us. Their Great Grandfather asked the boys if they would like to sing. Asher had never seen the inside of a radio station before and Will had once, but he was too young to remember. They were more than ready when the invitation came to sing. Adkins boys are never shy about performing! They sang "Jesus Loves Me" (A Capella of course) and Dad "interviewed" them for a couple of minutes. It was a real treat for both boys. They had a great time.
If you like country gospel music and old time preaching, Dad would love to have you tune in on any Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM (Eastern time). In the local tri-state area the program is live on WEMM, 107.9 on the FM dial. It can be picked up anywhere on the live broadcast on http://www.wemmfm.com. You probably won't hear the golden tones of Will and Asher, but you'll enjoy the Appalachian flavor of the Christian program.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Four Hours On The Golf Course

No time for a day off this week.
But I did take four hours out of the middle of the day to do something I really enjoy. Can you guess what it was? I'm not very good at it, but to me, there is nothing like being on a golf course. Some guys like to fish. Some enjoy hunting. Some prefer cycling or canoeing or tennis. I enjoy "pasture pool".
Pictured here is a shot of the 3rd hole at Diamond Links Golf Course, near Cannonsburg, KY. It's a 135 yard par three. This shot was taken from the women's tee box. The men's tee is on the next level up, and one cannot even see the pond from that view. This is a tough little hole. Although I have baptized a few Top Flight balls in this pond over the years, yesterday my shot landed to the right of the green near the cart path. My chip shot ran toward the far side of the green, and I two putted for a bogey. (I hate par 3's) The course wasn't crowded yesterday. The humidity was low. I had good company, and I hit my irons pretty well (at least for me). All in all it was a real nice four hour retreat.
There was a time (way back when I was in the insurance business) that I tried to play a round of golf once or twice per week - but alas - no more! Yesterday's 18 holes were the first time I have played locally since last summer. I did get a round in back in April when I was in New Orleans for a week, and we played two days (July 3 & 4) at the Pocahontas County Country Club while on vacation, but that is it so far for 2008. Will and Asher's other grandfather, Lance Clanton, and I had been talking about playing more often, but it's a little hard to find the time. So yesterday we worked it out for Poppy and Papaw to hit the links. It was time well spent.
It's not that I work for a bunch of slave drivers. Far from it! In fact, when I was first called to serve as pastor of Westmoreland Baptist Church, I was told in no uncertain terms to be sure I scheduled a day off every week. I try to do that, but as every pastor knows, we don't work a conventional job. We do ministry, and ministry knows no time clock. Most people understand that - but a few don't. I'll never forget the guy that told one of my pastor friends, "Why didn't you have time to visit me? You guys only work three hours a week!"
A pastor's duties consist of more than making three pulpit appearances a week. Yes, there are those public moments, when the pastor is in front of the congregation. However, most of the work is more private - under the radar, but just as necessary as his exposition of the Word. The preaching and teaching ministry is tremendously important to the evangelism and discipleship purposes of the church. The pastor must devote the time necessary to read, study, pray, and stay fresh in his preaching. Sermon preparation is important. Planning your preaching and teaching ministry requires lots of preparation, and there is no substitute for Spirit led, well planned preaching and teaching. Effective messages don't just happen. This all takes lots of time, but as every pastor knows, there are also other pressing duties.
Administration issues take a good bit of time. There are phone calls to take, messages to return, letters and cards to write, and questions to answer. Committee and deacon meetings are always on the calendar, and there are any number of deadlines that need to be met. There are always folks who need counseling and prayer. There are folks having surgery and in the hospitals. Homebound members and elderly people in the nursing homes who sometimes feel forgotten. There are funerals to conduct, families to console, and the occasional wedding to officiate. We are blessed at Westmoreland to have a wonderful secretary, excellent bivocational staff people, efficient committees that run well, and deacons and yokefellows who help carry much of the ministry load. However, there are times when only the pastor will do.
Yesterday was one of those days when I had five people to see in four hospitals in two cities. Furthermore there were two important projects with which I had to confer with my secretary, Sonia, before she left the office at three o'clock. And there were some other things I had to take care of in the office.
Knowing all of the above, and that there would not be opportunity for a full day off this week, I called Lance on Wednesday night to see if we could get a round of golf in on Thursday. I started the day at 7:00 AM with visits to the folks in the two Ashland Hospitals, met Lance at the golf course, enjoyed 18 holes, and made it back to the church an hour before Sonia had to leave. Thankfully, somebody way back when planned well enough to put a shower in my office. After a quick clean up, I had three hours to get the other things done that I needed to do and by 6:00PM I was able to take off for the two Huntington Hospitals where I had patients to visit.
There were any number of other things that I could have done during that four hours spent at Diamond Links. In fact, the pastor of any church with nearly four hundred active members could probably find enough ministry work to do 24/7. But there are some times when you just have to take time to pull away for a while. That four hour segment yesterday was special.
By the way. I shot a 53 on the front nine and a 47 on the back side. I'm never going to get any better if I don't play more often - but I don't see it happening soon. There is Vacation Bible School next week and then there is that pesky oral surgery I have coming up...
Perhaps I'll get that day off the next week and Poppy and I can hit the links again.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Congrats Charlie!

This weekend, Ashland, KY recognizes and honors one of her favorite sons, Major League Umpire Charlie Reliford.

Every year on this weekend the local Elks Lodge honors one of the local sports celebrities for their Sports Weekend celebration. Each year, the honoree is feted on Friday and Saturday evenings with a reception and a formal banquet, as well as other community activities. Usually the honoree is an older person who had distinguished themselves in various ways through local sports activities. There are a number of former high school and college star athletes, coaches, etc whose photos line the wall of fame at the local lodge hall. The interesting thing about this year's honoree is that he is still active in sports, and is, in fact, at the height of his career.

Charlie Reliford is in his 19th season as a Major League Umpire. He serves as a crew chief which boasts another Ashland native, Umpire Greg Gibson. Ashland is the only small town in America that can boast two major league umpires serving on the same crew, but that's another story for another time.

Charlie worked hard to make it to "The Show". My first memories of Charlie was when he worked at the YMCA in Ashland, a young man who toiled many hours refereeing grade school and middle school (and later high school) basketball games, and all manner of baseball games in beautiful Central Park. He toiled many years in the minor leagues, working his way up to the big time. One of the more interesting experiences was when he was calling AAA ball on the same crew as Pam Postema, who gained fame as the first woman to umpire organized Baseball at that level.

Charlie's sister, Mary Peer, was a friend of ours, who's daughter, Christina, went to school with our boys here in Ashland. In fact, both of our sons dated Christina a time or two. Christina was Benji's date to Paul Blazer High School's Homecoming dance the year before he got his driver's license. Well, Charlie was in town that weekend and he offered to drive his niece and her date to dinner and the dance in his Mazda Miata convertible. I remember that Christina looked really beautiful that night, but I honestly think Benji (who was a high school baseball player) had as enjoyable a time listening to Charlie's baseball tales than he did at the dance!

Charlie has had some great and memorable moments in his 19 year major league career. He has called a number of playoff series, two All Star games and two World Series. In one of the most high profile games ever, in the "Subway Series" between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, Charlie was behind the plate when the whole thing nearly exploded. Tensions were already high when the most memorable event of the Series happened. The Mets' Mike Piazza was at the plate when his bat shattered on a Roger Clemens fast ball. As Piazza left the batter's box the jagged barrel of the broken bat landed near Clemens on the mound. "Roger the Rocket" picked up the broken piece of lumber and threw it toward Piazza as he ran toward first base.

Piazza charged the mound, and Clemens, never one to back away from a fight, headed straight for the Mets' star catcher. Both benches emptied and a tremendous fight would have ensued, if not for home plate Umpire Reliford stepping between the two would be combatants, restoring order to a volatile situation. Many analysts believe that may have been Charlie Reliford's defining moment. It certainly was one of the most high profile ones!

If one could measure the pride of a community, Ashland's would be at it's zenith on those occasions when Charlie and his crew mate, Greg Gibson, and former Cy Young Award winner , Arizona Diamondback's Brandon Webb are on the field at the same time. All of them are Ashland natives and graduates of Paul Blazer High School. Charlie is a tremendous (unpaid) ambassador of good will for Ashland, KY in cities all around the American and National Leagues. He proudly tells anyone who will listen of the virtues of his home town.

This weekend his hometown returns the favor.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In Christ Alone

One of the most alarming items I have read were the results of some recent research done by the Pew Foundation.
Included in the survey was the question asking if one agrees or disagrees with the following statement:

"Many religions can lead to eternal life."

70 % of the Americans surveyed agreed with this statement. SEVENTY PERCENT!

A spokesman for LifeWay Christian Resources, which itself has an entire division devoted to research, says that the results of the Pew question were skewed due to the fact that the question was worded poorly. A number of the respondents say that they misunderstood the statement to mean "many denominations" rather than "many religions". Possibly so, but the fact remains that the false doctrinal teachings of pluralism are quickly gaining ground in American culture.

These teachings are echoed by celebrities, (notably Oprah Winfrey); a number of liberal educators and theologians; well meaning do gooders; and even popular politicians. Consider the recent cover story in the July 21, 2008 issue of Newsweek Magazine regarding the religious beliefs of presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). The story, written by Lisa Miller and Richard Wolfe (along with an accompanying essay by Editor, John Meacham) explores Obama's spiritual journey. They write:

"The story of Obama's faith begins with his mother, Ann. Raised in the Mid-west by two lapsed Christians, she lived and traveled throughout the world appreciating all religions but confessing to none." ... "Obama calls his mother an agnostic." ... "Obama's father, raised Muslim in Kenya, was, by the time he met Ann, 'a confirmed atheist who considered religion mumbo jumbo'"

He speaks of his deceased mother who "appreciated the ritual" of various organized religions and how she took Barack and his sister to various religious services as they lived in in Hawaii and Indonesia. Besides Christian churches, he remembered attending Muslim Mosques and Hindu temples. Newsweek reports a conversation between Obama and Franklin Graham, who had asked Obama about his mother and his personal religious beliefs. Here is Obama's reply:

"I know this raises questions in the minds of some evangelicals. I do not believe that my mother, who never formally embraced Christianity as far as I know ... I do not believe that she went to Hell."

Well, it is certainly understandable that no one would want to think of their loved one in such a terrible place. Certainly not someone who "appreciated all religions". I think the most telling statement the article makes quoting Obama is the following one:

"He found Christ but that hasn't stopped him from asking questions. 'I'm on my own faith journey and I'm searching', he says, 'I leave open the possibility that I am primarily wrong."

The article debunks the internet rumors that Obama is a Muslim. By now, everyone is familiar with Obama's 20 year membership at Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity Church in Chicago, (from which he has wisely recently cut his ties). One's relationship with God is certainly a personal matter, but is a believer, "leaving open the possibility that I am primarily wrong", really a believer at all? Paul the Apostle, wrote nearly 2000 years ago to his young protege', Timothy, "...nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." (2 Timothy 1:12 - NKJV)

When Jesus asked the question in Matthew 16, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" he received a number of replies. When He asked, "Whom do you say that I am?" the impetuous fisherman, Simon Peter, answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". In John's Gospel, after Jesus had pronounced Himself as the Bread of Life, many of his followers turned away from him. (too exclusive we might say today) Jesus pointedly asks his disciples, "Will you also go away?" Again the same big fisherman speaks up, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Well said.

No one can argue that the "enlightenment" of our sophisticated society is fueling the fire of the "many paths" theory. The trend to be accepting of the false teachings of pluralism is even seeping into elements of the Christian church. A few so called evangelicals are hinting in their writings that there might be "other paths" which lead to God. The Bible plainly teaches otherwise. Consider the "I Am" claims of the Lord, Jesus Christ, Himself. He is:

  • The God of Abraham - Matt. 22:32
  • The Living Water - John 4
  • The Bread of Life - John 6:35
  • The Bread come down from Heaven - John 6: 31
  • The Light of the World - John 8:12
  • The Door - John 10:7
  • The Good Shepherd - John 10:9
  • The Son of God - John 10:36
  • The Resurrection and the Life - John 11:25
  • In the Father, and the Father in Me - John 14:10
  • The True Vine - we are the branches - John 15:1
  • The King of the Jews - John 19:21

Moreover, He declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." - John 14:6 and "Before Abraham was, I AM." - John 8:58. The whole of Christianity is summed up in John 3: 16-18 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes on Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God"

Jesus is the most polarizing figure in history. Consider what He said as recorded in Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad." He calls for a simple decision, doesn't He?

Everyone must eventually ask the question that Pontus Pilate asked, "What shall I do with this man Jesus?" Some folks just do not want to accept the idea that there is only one way. It's way too exclusive for some, but not for the early church! Peter puts it this way, "This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:12.

This was the Apostle's doctrine.

It was also embraced by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, in what we refer to as "The Five Solas" which summarized the Reformer's basic theological beliefs. "Sola" is the Latin word for "only" or "alone". These "Solas" contradicted the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of that day, and the "Solas" still stand true today:

  • Sola scriptura - (by scripture alone")
  • Sola fide - ("by faith alone")
  • Sola gratia - ("by grace alone")
  • Solus Christus - (Christ alone")
  • Soli Deo Gloria - (glory to God alone")

Folks, Jesus is the only way of salvation. No matter what human logic may tell us, no matter what new age religionist might teach. It's Christ alone! We have a great task before us. We must present Jesus to a lost world. He alone is our only hope.

Let me close today with the words of one of my very favorite songs, which powerfully makes the point.

"In Christ Alone" (words and music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend)

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song;

This cornerstone, this solid ground,

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My comforter, my all in all -

Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,

Fullness of God in helpless babe!

This gift of love and righteousness,

Scorned by the ones He came to save.

Till on that cross as Jesus died,

The Wrath of God was satisfied;

For Ev'ry sin on Him was laid -

Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,

Light of the world by darkness slain;

Then bursting forth in glorious day,

Up from the grave He rose again!

And as He stands in Victory,

Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;

For I am his and He is mine -

Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death -

This is the pow'r of Christ in me;

From life's first cry to final breath,

Jesus commands my destiny.

No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,

Can ever pluck me from His hand;

Till He returns or calls me home -

Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In Memory of a "Friend" I've Never Met

Tony Snow died this morning at age 53.

I never met Tony Snow personally, but I felt as though I knew him. Along with Tim Russert, Tony is the second major news media personality who has died in the past few weeks. To me, Russert came across as a likable person. Even though I did not agree with his personal politics, he was a credible news source, whose ability as a reporter and interviewer made him one of the best in the business.

Tony Snow was different. He was not so much of a reporter as a commentator. For seven years he did anchor "Fox News Sunday" a morning "Meet the Press" type of program on Fox News Channel, but Tony was first and foremost a pundit. The most used definition of pundit is "a person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner usually through the mass media". Tony fit that definition. However, the word comes from ancient Hindi and Sanskrit words "pandit" and "pandita" which means "a learned man". He was that as well.

I first became acquainted with this multi-talented guy through his syndicated Newspaper column back in the early 90's. His conservative, common sense world view and accompanying commentary struck a chord with me. He often served as a guest host for Rush Limbaugh, bringing a refreshing touch of class to the listeners of the bombastic one. Eventually he became a fixture on cable TV and had his own syndicated radio program. Eventually Tony took a major pay cut to serve as White House Press Secretary when Scott McClellan stepped down from that position. I so often found agreement with this fellow who articulated my views so well, and I enjoyed watching his career evolve, feeling an ever increasing kinship with him. He could have probably been classified as a "happy conservative".

Roger Ailes, president of Fox News Channel called Tony a "true renissance man". He loved his family and sports and music. Most folks are not aware of his musical talent. He was a man who played five instruments and had many friends in the music business. While a self described "news junkie" Tony had the privilege to play in the spotlight, himself. He is universally described as the ultimate nice guy. I would identify him as "a conservative, but not mad about anything."

The events of 2005 createed more of a bond with me, as Tony was diagnosed with Colon cancer. After his colectomy, it was discovered that the malignancy had metastasized to his liver. The previous year I had received the same diagnosis. I was undergoing my first six month course of chemotherapy when I heard the news report that his cancer was "incurable but hopefully treatable". Those were the same chilling words that Dr. Jain had told me.

Tony faced his illness with grace and dignity. He continued to work as hard as he could. Public appearances showed the ravages of the illness on his appearance. Yet he always had that smile and pleasant demeanor. One of my big regrets is that I once had opportunity to hear him personally, but I missed it. He was the main speaker at the dedication of the new north wing of Cabell Huntington Hospital last year. I intended to go to the public dedication ceremony, but unfortunately I had to officiate at a funeral ceremony that afternoon. Dad went, and he told me he had the opportunity to meet Tony and shake hands with him.

Robert Anthony Snow was born in nearby Berea, Kentucky and grew up in the Cincinnati area. His father was an educator and his mother was a nurse. He grew up in the Ohio Valley with solid midwestern values. Ironically, his mother also died of Colon Cancer in 1973 when Tony was 17 years old.

He often said his priorities were "God, Family, and Country". Tony was known to be a devout Christian. That being the case, then we had even more in common than our politics.

His passing will be a great loss to his wife Jill, two daughters, one son, and a host of friends. It will also be shared by many friends whom he'd never met.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Short Vacation Break

I have traveled quite a bit the first six months of 2008. There have been two mission trips to the Philippines (January and May), a week in New Orleans in April for the Seminary Board of Trustees Meeting, and the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis last month. Lots of travel - not much rest. What with mission trips, conventions, conferences, and a couple of revivals a year, the church allows me that time to be away from the office, but ministry needs always continue to exist. Therefore, actual "vacation" time is pretty rare. This past week Linda and I got to spend a few quality nights and days in a quaint, quiet place that is as peaceful as anyplace I have ever been. We didn't stay long enough (only two days and three nights) but it was time well spent.
Ever heard of Cloverlick, West Virginia?
Probably not. It doesn't appear on most maps. One has to possess a very detailed map of The Mountain State to be able to locate Cloverlick. It is located in Pocahontas County, WV, a four hour drive from Huntington. The former railroad stop sits along the banks of the senic Greenbrier River, and it is a resting stop along the Greenbrier River Trail, between Marlinton and Cass. It's about a 20-25 minute drive to Snowshoe Ski Resort, and probably at least 10 miles to the nearest gas station. Cloverlick sits on the edge of the Seneca State Forest, and it is an absolutely beautiful location nestled among some of West Virginia's highest mountains.
The house you see above is the largest house in Cloverlick. It is estimated to have been built between 1908 and 1912, so it is nearly 100 years old. The house has belonged to the Crace Family for many years, and our grandchildren are the fourth generation of that family who has enjoyed vacationing there. It was purchased many years ago by Bill and Mae Crace, the grandparents of our daughter in law, Leigh Anne (who is Benji's wife). Bill was a Harbor Master for Ashland Oil, and an avid outdoors man. He purchased the property originally as a hunting and fishing camp for him and his family, but over the years it has become a special vacation spot for family and friends for a variety of purposes. Family members have come there to hunt, fish, canoe, golf, hike, and snowmobile. It has welcomed many a church youth group on winter outings to Snowshoe, or to ride the Cass Scenic Railroad up to Whitaker Station or Bald Knob.
We have been privileged to be invited to visit "Camp" a number of times over the past 7 years, and have always enjoyed the beautiful setting and peaceful surroundings. Linda and I have been there on brief vacations on the past two fourth of July holidays and it was nice to spend a little time with that branch of our family. (by the way, I'm the guy with the bald spot throwing a baseball around with grandsons Will and Asher).
The old house has a huge living room with lots of comfortable old couches and chairs. A big wood burning stove stands in front of the old fireplace. I've never been there in the winter, but I'll bet that rascal can really heat up the place. There is a large dining room and kitchen with an old fashioned wood burning cook stove, upon which all the meals are prepared. A long, roomy hallway, a large bedroom with a small bath, and a large front porch complete the first floor. Three large bedrooms, a big bath and an upstairs porch complete the place. With the large bedrooms with two beds in each room, the place can sleep fourteen people comfortably. With sleeping bags and cots the place has hosted as many as 22 people at one time. While the home still belongs to Leigh Anne's elderly grandmother, her mom and dad, Linda and Lance Clanton, have most of the responsibility for the upkeep of the place. That presents some real logistical problems for someone who lives 4 1/2 hours away, but it is a labor of love. They truly love that place!
There is a television in the house, but with no antenna or cable, viewing selections are limited to the VHS tapes on site or those which someone might have brought along. There is no cell phone service, so it really is a nice quiet get away. It's also nice to have some extra quality time with the grandsons as well.
We had a really nice relaxing time, and certainly thank the Clantons and Craces for allowing us to visit again. Now it's back to work.
Lots to do, and so little time...
Vacations in ministry are nice, but few and far between. The real "rest" comes later on, and it's "out of this world"!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On Our Nation's Birthday...

The United States of America celebrates its 232nd birthday on July 4th. We are still the greatest nation on the planet. We rejoice in “the great experiment” that men like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin, Paine, and Jay brought into being in 1776, and on July 4th we will all celebrate our Independence Day in many different ways.

I don’t want to be the one to throw a damper on the party, but I am worried. The USA is sick. The greatest nation on God’s Earth is in desperate need of help. Why do I say that? Because by in large we have forgotten God. Not that America was ever truly a Christian nation, but careful examination reveals that, as a nation, we have moved far away from the Biblical and moral world view that once characterized our culture. It appears more and more obvious that God is withholding many of His blessings from us. Why?

The scriptures say, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (Psalm 33: 12a). The First Commandment in the “Top 10” is “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3), yet our culture has put MANY gods before the true and living God. How is that? Well, many worship at the altar of greed… trusting in the god of the economy. It’s all about the money and the material things it buys. Others serve the god of self. You know, looking out for number one – doing what gives them pleasure – desperately seeking self fulfillment – yet never knowing the “peace of God that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). Still others worship the god of celebrity, caring more about the latest gossip on Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, or Brittaney Spears, than the life changing Gospel of Christ (Romans 10:16). Some follow the path of enlightenment and new age religion – doting on every word from that great theologian, Oprah Winfrey – and her new spiritual guru – all the while oblivious to what, “Thus sayeth the LORD.” To others, the gods of leisure and recreation are almighty. Some well meaning seekers crusade for social justice, while having no personal knowledge of the “Righteous Judge” (2 Timothy 4:8). Many trust in their political affiliations or their philosophies. Others trust in our military strength, in spite of the fact that God warns us, “No king is saved by the multitude of an army”, (Psalm 33:16)

America IS in trouble in 2008! Why? Because we have forgotten God.

I am not being an alarmist – but I am a realist. Our two major Presidential candidates are trumpeting the need for “change”. I say amen to that! But not to the change that comes through the ballot box. Not a change that is delivered by one particular political party or another. I’m talking about a change that comes from Almighty God – and an honest appraisal will reveal that we are far from Him! (Isaiah 29:13) We desperately need the change that comes from God. Not change that comes from the White House, or the State House, or the Court House, but one which begins in MY HOUSE and YOUR HOUSE, and the HOUSE OF GOD. The simplest of all answers to our problem is found in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. “

God’s people are enjoined to humble themselves, repent for our spiritual bankruptcy, and to PRAY. How should we pray? My thoughts go back to a prayer offered by Rev. Joe Wright way back in 1996 at the opening session of the Kansas House of Representatives. I’m sure you may have read this before, but it would do us well to pray as Pastor Wright prayed:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, “Woe unto those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it Pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it “The Lottery”.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn children and called it “choice”.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our harts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.”

A prayer like that – coming from surrendered hearts from the people of God will deliver a true change. A change we can believe in.

Nothing apart from 2 Chronicles 7: 13-14 will do!

I swell with pride when I say, “Happy Birthday America”, but there is heaviness in my heart for our great nation which is badly losing her way. I hope you have a safe, happy Independence Day, and I hope you will join me in praying for God to Bless America – again…

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy 59th Anniversary!

On July 3, 1949 Caudle Adkins, Jr. made one of the best moves of his life! That was the day when he and Patsy Ruth Stidham stood before Pastor Jeff Curry and repeated their wedding vows in front of family and friends at the home of the bride's parents. Mary and Jerry Stidham's little house at 310 Kimball Street in the "Little Italy" area of the coal camp known as 5&6Holden, WV was the location of the ceremony. The black and white photos from that day show the various members of the Adkins and Stidham families who had come together for the nuptials. From the looks of things, the old folks looked very serious, and the younger brothers and sisters of the bride and groom wore smiles from ear to ear. So did the skinny groom!

Dad was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and was working on the tipple for the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company at their Dehue mine on Rum Creek in Logan County. Mom worked in the Payroll Office for the Island Creek Coal Company at Holden. Dad was a young preacher who was beginning to become well known around Logan and Lincoln Counties for his passionate preaching style and his unique sense of humor. Little did the couple know what the future held for them as they repeated their vows - "for better/for worse, for richer/for poorer, in sickness and in health; until death do us part".

Now, 59 years later, they have three sons and daughters in law; four grandsons and twin grand daughters (two born in the 70's, two in the 80's, and two in the 90's); and eight great grand children. The family is spread from Huntington, WV to Ashland, KY; to Charleston, WV; to New Orleans, LA; to Atlanta, GA. Dad retired long ago from Huntington Alloys, and his ministry has taken him to many pastorates in West Virginia and Ohio and hundreds of evangelistic revival meetings from Cleveland, OH to Florida, and logged thousands of miles in ministry travel. He's married scores of couples, officiated at many funerals; made one trip to the Holy Land, and led hundreds of people to faith in Jesus Christ. He has baptized hundreds of people in baptistries, rivers, creeks, and ponds; and, on at least of a couple of occasions, had to chop holes in the ice to dunk the new believers.

Mom has been right there with him all the time. She has been a full time wife, mother and pastor's wife. She has juggled all of those things while looking after aged parents, being the chief bookeeper, cook, laundry lady, and dishwasher in a very busy household. My brothers, Bruce and Carl would join me in saying that no one could have had a better mother than have we.

Time has slowed them down a step or two. Dad carries a few more pounds than he use to, and is not quite as steady on his feet. Mom has a little trouble with her hearing, and her short term memory has slipped some as well. 80 years or so will do that to a person. But their spirits have never changed. Dad is still quick with a joke and loves to attend Marshall football games. Mom still has that quick smile and sweet spirit that has carried her through the years of ups and downs that come with being a preacher's wife.

I can't let July 3rd come around without wishing them a Happy 59th Anniversary.

Perhaps some of our friends would like to do the same. If you would like to drop them a card or a handwritten note, their address is:

292 Gallaher Street, Huntington, WV 25705

The phone number is 304-525-3446

It will give Dad something to talk about at breakfast in "Frosty's Corner" at McDonalds over his biscuits and gravy!