Friday, November 28, 2008

Canon's Birthday

This is Canon Josiah Adkins. He is our third grandson and he lives in the New Orleans area with his Mom, Dad, and older brother Quint. Canon will be four years old tomorrow. He was born on the Monday following Thanksgiving, 2004. Both of his grandmothers from Kentucky were present for his birth at Oshner Medical Center in New Orleans. He was a really big baby and everyone was impressed with his size and good looks. Birthdays are always wonderful occasions, but there will always be something special to me about Canon's birthday. Besides being a reminder of how happy we were to welcome his birth, it is a yearly reminder of how good God has been to me.

The day after Canon's birth, while Linda was still in New Orleans, I was unexpectedly admitted to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Ashland, KY for tests to determine why I was losing blood at a fast rate. Most of you know the results of those tests. A large mass was found in my colon. Surgery was scheduled, and our worst fears were realized. Cancer. It's a chilling word in itself, but the adjectives that my doctor employed to describe the malignancy were even more paralyzing. "Stage Four", and "Incurable". Fully involved in a number of lymph nodes, the cancer had spread throughout my liver like grass seed. Several large tumors were there and numerous smaller ones existed as well. A transplant was not an option. The prognosis was dismal. Average survival time for people in my situation was 18-22 months.

I suddenly came face to face with the reality of my mortality.

Thousands of thoughts raced through my mind during the next 10 days. I was not afraid to die, but I dreaded what my family might have to endure during the process. I feared leaving Linda to face the future alone, along with overwhelming medical bills as well as our other financial obligations. I wept when I thought of leaving my church to search again for a pastor after only two years of having called me. My heart ached at the thought that I would not be able to see my grandsons, (ages four, three, and two weeks) grow much older. They would probably not even remember me!

On my first Sunday back at church after my colectomy, I did what the Bible says in James 5:14-15. "Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." (HCSB) It was a moving experience as the ordained men of our church gathered around and laid hands on me with the entire congregation standing with them in prayer. I had decided to let the doctors do whatever they could to try to treat me but, knowing that the situation was beyond human control, we gave it to God.

The next two years were tough. There were two separate 6 month courses of Chemotherapy. Some other surgical procedures. Monthly blood work and lots of other medicines, tests, and scans. Prayers were going up on my behalf from believers from Florida to Chicago - from Virginia Beach, to the west coast, to Dumaguete City, Philippines. Although I didn't know how long I had to live, my heart was challenged by what I had heard Veda Young say. No matter how long I had to live, I was "not going to spend the rest of my life dying". And so, knowing it was all in the hands of Him who always does what He chooses, we took one day at a time.

I have learned many things over the past four years. I have learned that Peace is available in the times of greatest turmoil. I have learned that there are things I cannot change, and I must fully depend on God. I have learned that life in Christ is truly abundant! Like Paul of old, I have learned that no matter what state I may be in, I can be content. I have been reminded of how precious each day is, and I have sought to never waste the time God has given me. I have been reminded of what a God given gift I have in Linda who has loved me for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health for more than 37 years. I have learned that not only can I minister to my church, but that they could also minister to me.

I have seen my little grandsons grow and I have loved every moment I have with them. I've watched Quint at Karate practice. I've witnessed Will playing soccer, baseball, football and basketball. Six months into my treatments I welcomed a fourth grandson (Asher) and have enjoyed playing with him every Friday night when he and his brother come over to our house for a sleepover. And I have seen Canon's fourth birthday! Every time I look at this little guy I offer my God a prayer of thanksgiving for His wonderful mercy to me.

Above all else, I have learned that God is in control. More than ever, I have come to understand and appreciate what he says in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." (NASB)

Happy Birthday Canon. I'm sorry we couldn't be together on your birthday, but I wish you many more. (And I hope I am around so we can celebrate together). It all depends on God's plan. Whatever it is - it will be for the best!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thoughts Early on Thanksgiving Morning

Today is Thanksgiving Day in America. All across this great nation the Thanksgiving traditions will unfold. Many Moms and Grandmothers are already up preparing to put the turkey in the oven. In millions of homes, families will gather together and feast on such traditional goodies as the aforementioned turkey, with stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, hot rolls, and pumpkin pie. Even in missions and homeless shelters, thankful people will sit down to what may be their best meal of the year.

There are many other traditions that will be honored today. Families will gather. Some making long drives or flights to come home for the special day. NBC will televise the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live from Manhattan. There will also be football - the NFL on TV, and the annual "Commode Bowl" game between the River Rats and the Highlanders in Nitro, West Virginia. (Ever heard of THAT one?) There will be mountains of dishes to be washed, coupons to be clipped, and strategy to be planned, as Mom prepares to hit the malls and shopping centers on "Black Friday" looking for those great deals on their Christmas shopping.

Sometime throughout the day, most folks will take time to reflect on their blessings and to be thankful. All will be thankful for the feast. Some will be thankful for home, family, jobs - for living in the land of the free, for our churches, and all our material blessings. Although Thanksgiving has become more of a secular holiday, many will still bow their heads and give thanks to their maker for all He has provided. While it is altogether appropriate and right that we thank Him for His material blessings to us, In the Bible, Psalm 100 (A Psalm of Thanksgiving) gives us other reasons to give thanks. There are two basic commands in the 100th Psalm, along with the reasons to be thankful.

The first set of imperative is found in verses 1 & 2 " Shout triumphantly to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs." Verse three tells us why we should make that "joyful noise" (HCSB). Why we should serve the LORD with gladness and come before Him with joyful songs:

1. Because "the LORD is God". When you see "LORD" (all capital letters) in your English Bible, know that that reference is referring to the personal name of God. This is the name He revealed to Moses in the 3rd Chapter of Exodus. When Moses asked His name, He answered, "I Am That I Am". He is the pre-existent one. He is the self existent one. "From everlasting to everlasting, He is God". (Psalm 90) He is not just a god, He is the true and living God. There is a tendency today for people to talk about "God" in a generic way. The idea is as long as a religion is monotheistic, that we all worship the same god. This is hogwash! More and more, when I refer to God, I find it necessary to call Him, "The God of the Bible". He has often revealed Himself as "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". He is not to be confused with other so called "gods". He is majestic, powerful, and HOLY, and worthy of all praise. (see Isaiah 6). We can be thankful that in a world of uncertainty, He is God!

2. We also sing and serve Him because "He has made us". Take a moment to read the 139th Psalm and see how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made". You are not an accident. You are here for a reason. God has a plan for your life. Your days were known to Him before you were conceived. We learn from the Bible that we were made in His image. Man is the capstone of God's creative work and He seeks glory, praise and honor that are due Him from His creation. We can be thankful that it is He who has made us and not we, ourselves.

3. The psalmist further tells us that "We are His people". Those who have a personal relationship with Almighty God belong to Him. We only come to a relationship with God through the way He has made. That avenue is Jesus Christ (John 14:6) The New Testament reminds us that we are not our own, but we have been purchased with a price. Not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus. We can be thankful that we are His people.

4. We are also told we are "The Sheep of His Pasture". David understood the relationship of a shepherd to his sheep. The great King was, himself, a shepherd in his younger days. In the 23rd Psalm, David shows our relationship with the Great Shepherd. It shows us His provision, guidance, protection, and blessing for us, His sheep. This truth becomes more evident in the New Testament when Jesus tells us that He is "...the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep". He also tells us in John 10 that "He knows His sheep, they hear His voice, and they follow Him". We can be thankful that we have a loving and caring shepherd.

Verse four gives us the second set of imperatives. "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name". We often think of thanksgiving and praise as the same thing. While linked, they are two very different concepts. Thanksgiving is thanking God for what He has done for us. Thanking Him for His many blessings. Praise, on the other hand, is acknowledging that He IS God. Whether we feel "blessed" or not, we praise Him because of who He is! The fifth verse of Psalm 100 tells us why we give God thanks and praise:

1. "The LORD is Good"! This may be the greatest understatement in the Bible. God is Good - all the time. All the time - God is good! Furthermore He is Sovereign. "God is in His Heaven, and He does what He pleases." Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God knows the plans He has for us. Plans for our benefit and not for calamity. Plans to give us a future and a hope. All that God does is good and right. This is not always obvious to us during a time of trouble or testing, but it is true, nonetheless. Have you ever known anyone who does needlework? It is an interesting craft. The material is stretched over a hoop and the artisan painstakingly uses a needle and various colored threads to create an image of some sort. When you look at needlework from the bottom, it is a unintelligible mess of colors and threads. There seems to be no form or design to any of it. Yet when you view the work from above, you see the beautiful finished product. That's how it is in our lives. Romans 8: 28 tells us that God is working all things together for good to those who love Him, those who are called according to His purpose. We can be thankful that God is Good.

2. We also thank and praise Him because "His love is eternal". Some translations say "His mercy is everlasting". God's love is manifest in two obvious qualities - His Grace and His Mercy.

What's the difference? I like to explain it like this. Grace, is God giving us what we DO NOT deserve. Mercy is God NOT giving us what we DO deserve! The beauty of this, is that His Mercy and Love are eternal. We are recipients of God's mercy now, and shall be through eternity. In the 23rd Psalm, David made reference to it in this way, "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever". We can be thankful for God's mercy.

3. The Psalm of Thanksgiving closes by reminding us that "His faitfulness endures through all generations". When Moses died and Joshua was charged with the responsibility of leading nearly two million refugees into a land of promise, God told him, "As I was with Moses, so I shall be with you". What a comfort that must have been to Joshua! What a blessing this truth is to us today! If you are like me, you may not have always been as faithful to God as you should have been. But God has ALWAYS been faithful to you! He promises His children that He will never forsake them of leave them alone. I often find myself concerned about the type of world my precious grandchildren will grow up in. Two of them are already Christ followers, and I pray that the younger two will accept Jesus when he begins to deal with their hearts. What will they face as Christians deep in the 21st Century? Perhaps great persecution will face them as they live out their faith. When I find myself worrying about that, I am reminded that God is faithful and His faithfulness endures through all generations. We can be thankful for His faithfulness.

When I thank God today for all His blessings, I will thank Him for what matters most. I will remember the words of a song we learned as children in Sunday School. "Thank you Lord, for saving my soul. Thank you Lord for making me whole. Thank you Lord, for giving to me. Thy great salvation so rich and free."

Linda joins me in wishing you all a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Death of Journalism

Journalism died in 2008 after an extended illness. The grand old profession had it's roots in the messengers, couriers, and town criers of old. The object was to report the news. Advancing technology over the years, from print, to wire services, radio, television, and the internet allowed journalism to grow and thrive. Sadly, it had shown signs of failing health since the mid seventies and died an ugly death this political season.

By definition, Journalism is the profession of the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media. The word was included in Webster's dictionary in 1829 describing "writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine
writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation." When most of us think of journalism, we think of a "reporter", one who uncovers the facts and reports them to the public through his or her particular media.

Editorially, the management of various media enterprises can also present their points of view on current issues and report on the actions of the government, public officials, corporate executives, interest groups, media houses, and those who hold social power or authority. Journalism is described as "The'Fourth Estate.

In 1841,Thomas Carlyle wrote in On Heroes and Hero Worship these words:

". . . The affairs of the nation were there deliberated and decided; what we were to do as a nation. But does not, though the name Parliament subsists, the parliamentary debate go on now, everywhere and at all times, in a far more comprehensive way, out of Parliament altogether? Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all. It is not a figure of speech, or a witty saying; it is a literal fact,--very momentous to us in these times. Literature is our Parliament too. Printing, which comes necessarily out of Writing, I say often, is equivalent to Democracy: invent Writing, Democracy is inevitable. Writing brings Printing; brings universal everyday extempore Printing, as we see at present. Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a power, a branch of government, with inalienable weight in law-making, in all acts of authority. It matters not what rank he has, what revenues or garnitures. The requisite thing is, that he have a tongue which others will listen to; this and nothing more is requisite. The nation is governed by all that has tongue in the nation: Democracy is virtually there. Add only, that whatsoever power exists will have itself, by and by, organized; working secretly under bandages, obscurations, obstructions, it will never rest till it get to work free, unencumbered, visible to all. Democracy virtually
extant will insist on becoming palpably extant. . . ."

Generally, journalists are expected to be responsible and objective in their analysis, and are supposed to refrain from personal biases or prejudices. However, many today feel that objectivity is a myth. Grade the News, an American website, identified seven yardsticks on the basis of which it judges the standards of some local media houses' news quality. These yardsticks are :

  • newsworthiness

  • context

  • explanation

  • local relevance

  • civic contribution

  • enterprise

  • fairness

You can draw your own conclusions how the various broadcast and print media today are measuring up to these yardsticks. I have already stated my opinion, for what it's worth.

"Investigative Journalism" seems to have been spawned during the Watergate era. It somehow evolved to the point that the "reporters became the story". Woodward and Bernstein of the Washington Post became celebrities and the subject of a popular movie. As a result, men and women who had previously simply been "reporters" of the news seemed to begin to seek the spotlight for themselves.

Speaking at a national news correspondents convention in 1974, President Nixon allowed for a Q. & A. session. He called upon CBS' Dan Rather for a question. As the White House Correspondent for CBS, Rather had been doggedly pursuing the Watergate story. When Rather's name was spoken, the audience erupted into applause.

"Are you running for something, Mr. Rather?" Nixon quipped with a smile.

With a look of distain on his face, Rather countered, "No, Mr. President. Are you?"

That type of insolence has spread like an epidemic in recent years throughout the modern news media.

The most alarming thing to me about the demise of journalism is how the line between reporting and opinion has become almost unintelligible. Instead of reporting the news, some of our major broadcast media have crossed the line of objectivity. NBC is a case in point. Somewhere in the top floors of the General Electric Building on Rockefeller Plaza, upper management made the decision to not only report on the Presidential Election, but to influence the outcome of said election, by their unabashed support of the Democratic Candidate, Senator Obama. The news organization that gave us professional reporters like Chet Huntley, David Brinkley and John Chancellor, now brings us clowns like Keith Olbermann, disguised as news reporters – openly cheering for a particular candidate. Olbermann and Chris Matthews are pundits – commentators – opinion givers. That's fine, but when the network advanced them to be reporters at the conventions, debates, and during election returns, one should be able to expect some semblance of impartiality. Not so. They might as well have been on the DNC's payroll.

Fox News is just as bad on the other side of the ledger. Roger Ailes and his staff are most certainly sympathetic to the Republican cause. And why not? The only thing "fair and balanced" that Fox offers, is a more conservative alternative to the left leaning reporting of NBC, CBS, and ABC. Same stuff – different flavor.

Do you ever long for the days when John Cameron Swazye simply reported the news? Are you as tired of the network propaganda as I? Why can't they give us the news, and delineate clearly on what is reported news and what is opinion? What would you give for a modern day Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, or Huntley-Brinkley report, to bring you a clear and concise view of what is happening in the nation and the world?

Alas, I am afraid that type of journalism has gone the way of S&H Green Stamps.

Goodbye old friend. Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A True Public Servant

West Virginia lost a true statesman yesterday, when former Governor Cecil H. Underwood passed away in Charleston Area Medical Center at the age of 86. A rare Republican Governor in a state whose legislature has been dominated by Democrats for over 70 years, Underwood was a model for those who would be involved in public service.

Underwood served two terms as Governor of the Mountain State, separated by 40 years! He owns the distinction of being the youngest Governor of West Virginia (elected in 1956 at the age of 34) and the oldest Governor, re-elected in 1996 (at the age of 74). Unlike West Virginia's other recent Repbublican Governor, Arch Moore Jr., and a number of past Democratic chief executives, Underwood's terms in the Governor's Mansion were never marred by personal scandal or legal indictments. He and his late wife, Hovah, loved the state of West Virginia and they were models of dignity, decorum and public service.

Although I did not know him personally, there were brushes with our family over the years. As a young man, Governor Underwood served in the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing Tyler County at the same time my Grandfather, Jerry Stidham, represented Logan County in the State House. Although they were on opposite sides politically, my Grandfather always had high respect for Underwood. After his first term of office, Underwood went to work for Island Creek Coal Company and moved his family to Huntington. They bought a home about four blocks from where we lived. His children attended Gallaher Elementary School with us, and we often saw Governor and Mrs. Underwood at school functions.

He and Mrs. Underwood were deeply involved in community activities and were an asset to the City of Huntington during their time there. A committed Christian, the Governor was an active member and Sunday School Teacher at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, during his time in Huntington. Mrs. Underwood served on the boards of several organizations and charities as well, and she was deeply involved with the Huntington Museum of Art.

In a political culture where partisan bickering, ethics violations, and personal scandal are commonplace, Cecil Underwood stood out as someone different. His death is a loss for the State of West Virginia. This state is a better place because of the public service of Governor and Mrs. Underwood. May he be remembered fondly by West Virgininians of both parties, for the manner in which he served.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Keepers of the Aquarium, or Fishers of Men?

A church in our area has a catchy slogan that appears in their bulletin, on their letterhead, and in all promotional materials they use. That slogan is, "Knowing Him and making Him Known". One might call it, "Ecclesiology 101." It's a catchy phrase, yet one that simply states the commission we have received from our Lord. As Jesus walked the shores of Galilee, he saw a couple of brothers and their fishing partners cleaning their nets after a long night's work on the sea. "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men", he said, and that's exactly what they did. They spent the next three years "Knowing Him" and the remainder of their lives, "Making Him Known". In light of the Grace of God which we have received, can we do any less?

The Great Commission carries two implications. The first is the conscious decision and effort to go, and tell the Good News of Jesus Christ to every people group on the planet. It requires planning, prayer, commitment, focus, and financing, to carry out the missionary enterprise. This is the mandate of Christ, and it must be our mission until He returns. The other implication, however, is not nearly as involved, or expensive, but it is just as intentional. That idea is to share the Gospel "as we are going". Whereas every Christian cannot purposely go to the ends of the earth, we are always going somewhere. The question is, as we are going – are we telling?

It is interesting to me that several times during Jesus' earthly ministry, often after He had performed some great miracle, he charged the witnesses to "tell no one". Yet after His resurrection, the message immediately changed to "Go and Tell". It was given to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. It was shared with Peter at breakfast by the sea in John 21. It was broadcast to Jesus' disciples as recorded in each Gospel, and emphasized in Acts 1:8, just before Jesus lifted off from the Mount of Olives. Christ's followers have the mandate to go fishing – not for seafood, but for men and women and boys and girls. Sadly, the church culture that has come about in the 20th Century is one that has found us being more "keepers of the aquarium" rather than "fishers of men".

Jimmy Kretzer, and old friend and former coworker of mine, is a serious fisherman. He knows every lake, creek, pond, river, and water hole in several states. He took me with him on my very first fishing expedition about 28 years ago on beautiful Lake Cumberland in south central Kentucky. I was impressed with Jimmy's boat, his fishing equipment, depth finder, tackle box, and most of all, his understanding of how to fish. He explained fishing to me in the most simple of terms.

"To catch fish", Jimmy drawled, "You've got to know where the fish are - and go there. Fish won't come to you."


"To catch fish", he continued, "You need the right equipment"


"Furthermore, you have to think like a fish to understand what they do, why they do it, and what kind of bait they'll go for."

I understand.

"When they take the bait, set the hook and reel them in."

Got it.

"Oh yes, one other thing", he said. "Always remember that fish don't especially want to be caught. You have to lure them."

That homey advice made sense to me then, as I watched Jimmy go about doing what he loved best and reeling in the crappie, red eye, and largemouth bass from the waters of Lake Cumberland. It makes sense to me as a pastor, too, when we apply the same truths to the task before us in fishing for men.

If we are going to be fishers of men, we must go to where the people are. And they are all around us. Every pastor knows that one of the greatest obstacles in evangelism is the "Field of Dreams" concept that is lodged in the minds of so many of our church members. Kevin Costner's character in that movie heard the voice in the cornfield whispering, "If you build it, they will come". Now that may work for baseball fields in Iowa, but that is not how Jesus told us to grow His Kingdom. While the open invitation to everyone is "Come and see", He specifically tells we believers to "Go and tell!" The Field of Dreams concept is a big factor in why so many of our churches are dead or dying. We must take the Gospel where the people are.

In taking the Gospel to the people, we must understand the mindset of lost people. Why do they do what they do? What is important to them? Why? How can we bring the message of abundant life to folks who already think they have a pretty good life? Outdated methods may have to be retooled to make the Gospel Message relevant to the various cultures around us. The message never changes, but the methods of sharing that message must be adapted to the type of "fish" we are attempting to catch. So many of us are wrapped up in our familiar comfortable "church culture", while never realizing that the vast majority of our neighbors are foreign to that culture. We must engage them where THEY are.

The most effective lure I have found is the message of love and grace. It brings peace, joy and contentment. Lost people are bound for eternal separation from God. This is a fact. Those fish won't just "jump into the boat" because we preach hell. Hell IS real, and that fact should give us a sense of urgency when we realize that millions are heading that way at breakneck speed. However, when I came to know Christ, it wasn't just due to the fear of eternity lost, but I was drawn to Him by the message of His love for me - His total sacrifice on my behalf. His message of grace, love, forgiveness, and eternal life, broke my heart and brought me to Jesus. That message can go out in mass meetings, and in various ways. I have found that the message is best received when we build a personal relationship with the lost person, gain their confidence, giving our own personal testimony, and sharing the Gospel message from scripture. Rick Warren has said, "They don't care how much we know until they know how much we care".

Since most of us know all of this, why are we not sharing Jesus? We gather in our "Holy Huddles" on Sunday morning, (Knowing Him), but so rarely are we intentionally telling the Good News (Making Him Known) to those around us. Bill Fay has said that the greatest sin in the church today is the sin of silence. His statistics show that in any given year only 10 percent of professing Christians will actually share the Gospel with one lost person. Fay's premise is that we are afraid. Not that we are ashamed of Christ. Not that we want to keep the Good News a secret, but because we are afraid. Some are afraid that they might not be able to answer questions that might come up in sharing Jesus with others. Others fear that they don't know enough scripture to be an effective witness. Many are afraid that they might go out on that limb and share Christ, but that the hearer may reject their message. Then what?

The fears are real and the resulting guilt we feel from the "sin of silence" is great.

We believers must come to a realization that "success" or "failure" in witnessing is not in our hands. Our responsibility is to "Go and Tell". The Holy Spirit is responsible for the rest of the transaction. When we share Jesus, we have done what we should do. We have succeeded.

At Westmoreland Baptist Church, every Sunday night in January, we will be going through the discipleship training course, "Share Jesus Without Fear". Our goal is to see our folks be more bold in opportunities to witness to the life changing power of Jesus Christ. Those who are in this area are invited to attend. There is no cost to you, but your time. If you can't attend our training, the information is available at and you can purchase the materials yourself. We are going to make a conscious effort to remove the "sin of silence" from among God's people.

It's time to go fishing. Will you join us?

Monday, November 17, 2008

An Article by Chuck Colson

Cathy Howerton shared this article with me via email and I felt strongly enough about it to publish it here. Obviously it is his article, not mine, but he is dead on with his analysis of the situation.

Most of you probably remember Colson as Chief Counsel to the President during the Nixon Administration. He was convicted in the Watergate Scandal and spent time in a Federal Prison, where he gave his life to Jesus Christ. Upon release, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, a Christian organization seeking to take the Gospel to those behind bars and to build committed disciples from individuals who have had broken lives.

I hope you will appreciate his insight on this article, written the day after our Presidential election.

By Chuck Colson

Pray for Our President and Our Nation

Whether you voted for Barack Obama or John McCain, whether you're
recovering from your all-night celebration or drying the tears from
your pillow, today's a good day to remember the words of the apostle
Paul: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession
and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in
authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness
and holiness" (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

And the new President will surely need our prayers because he and his
administration face huge, serious challenges to the health of our
nation and to peace in the world-challenges that, in my opinion,
neither he nor any government on earth will have the power to overcome
without divine aid.

How has America come to this point? Why is our economy on the brink of
disaster? Why is our culture so utterly depraved?

I can only think of what Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said about the
catastrophic consequences of the Russian revolution. "I recall," he
said, "hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation
for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten
God; that's why all this has happened."

Solzhenitsyn was right. Indeed, I can't find any better explanation for
why we Americans find ourselves in the state we are in. We have
forgotten God.

We have also forgotten that American democracy-indeed Western
Civilization itself-is the product of the Judeo-Christian understanding
of God and humanity. Without that revelation that man is created in the
image of God, our founders never would have recognized the unalienable
rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, as I and
others like Rodney Stark have argued, modern science and education,
liberal democracy, capitalism flourished in Western civilization
precisely because of the Judeo-Christian worldview.

The attacks on Christianity these days are only going to intensify in
the months ahead. But we must press on all the more to make a winsome
witness. Those who would banish Christianity from American life are
risking the very survival of American society.

Friends have asked me whether this economic crisis is God's judgment
upon us. I don't know.

As I've re-read the Old Testament prophets recently, I couldn't help
but notice the recurring theme: The people of God turned away from Him
and worshipped false idols. The result was always disaster.

Is God responsible for credit markets collapsing around the world? No.
We're responsible. Because instead of worshiping God, we've worshipped
false idols of the marketplace, credit card companies and cheap
mortgages. We've put our own appetites over our duties to God and

So this is no time for Christians to go into the bunkers. No time to
wail or moan over our retirement plans. This is a time to repent, to
pray more, to give more. It's a time for Christians to lead, encourage,
and minister to a faltering country in a faltering economy.

This is a time for the Church to get serious about Christian
discipleship. Enough cheap grace.

So pray for the new President and his administration. But most of all,
my brothers and sisters, this is a time to love our neighbors and to
hunger for God and His righteousness.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Christmas Gift

Sonia reminds me that it is time for my newsletter article for the December Church Newsletter. Time for a Christmas message – already!

When we think of the "Christmas Story", we generally conjure up images of Luke chapter 2. And why not? Our mind's eyes see shepherds, angels, etc. Our Christmas cards carry images of wise men on camels following a star shining down on a little town, far off in the distance. The nativity scenes in our homes and yards show the peasant couple staring lovingly at a new born baby, surrounded by various barnyard animals in a stable. These are all valid parts of the Christmas story. They all center on the Baby Jesus, and they have been passed down from generation to generation for two millennia. We must continue to tell the Christmas Story.

However, my favorite telling of the message wasn't written after the birth of the Savior. In fact, it was penned by the ancient Hebrew prophet, Isaiah, nearly 740 years BEFORE that "Silent Night" in Bethlehem. The prophet gives the first hint of God's Gift Child (the Savior) in chapter 7 verse 14. "The Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." What is the significance of the name Immanuel? It means "God with us". What a powerful message in that name. When we, as sinful men, could not go to where God was, He came to us! Oh! How he is to be praised.

The significance and character of the Gift Child is found in chapter 9, verse 6. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." This is none other than the "Immanuel" of 7:14. Isaiah speaks here in the "prophetic perfect" – seeing Him as though He had already been born. Indeed the plan of Salvation had been in place since "the foundation of the world". Let's take a look at what the prophet sees in this future Gift Child. Furthermore, consider how Jesus fulfills all of these titles.

"Wonderful Counselor" (pele yoets) is actually one term in the Hebrew language. A "wonder" is indicative of a miracle and "counselor" is often used in parallel with the counsel of a king. Thus, the counsel given by this God like King would be nothing less than miraculous. Jesus fits the bill perfectly. The Apostle Peter, preaching at Pentecost, reminds his audience that Jesus was "approved by God among you, by miracles, and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you all…" (Acts 2:22). His teaching (counsel) was also powerful as it was said of Him, "Never a man spoke like this man" (John 7:46).

The next term given (El Gibor) "The Mighty God" is the strongest of all the titles used here. "El" refers to God and is never used to refer to man. "Gibor" is literally "hero". Together they describe a heroic figure, who is no less than God, Himself. Who can read this without thinking of Jesus' powerful entrance into Jerusalem on that first Sunday preceding His death, burial and resurrection, when He entered the city as a conquering hero. He was greeted by multitudes waving Palm Branches and crying "Hosannah" (Save now!).

Everlasting Father ("abiad") is literally, "The Father of Eternity". Jesus is eternal. He confounded His critics when he said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad." The Jewish hearers bristled and asked Him how he could have ever been seen by Abraham, since He was not even fifty years old. Jesus answered famously, "Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am." (John 8: 56-58) Not only is He the Father of Eternity, He alone is the source of eternal life. "And this is the record, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the son has life; and he who has not the Son of God, has not life." (1 John 5:11-12)

Prince of Peace (Sar-Shalom) indicates that the mighty God will be a benevolent ruler bringing eternal peace on earth through the establishment of His kingdom. This is fulfilled in Jesus, who said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid." (John 14: 27) Only Jesus gives the Peace that passes all earthly understanding.

The mysterious figure of "Immanuel" (7:14) is now clearly identified. He is none other than God incarnate. In the New Testament, the Apostle John tells us that Jesus (the Divine Expression) "Was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1: 14.

May you have a glorious Christmas, and may you know this Gift Child. Not just the little baby in the manger, but the victorious Christ who brings forgiveness of sin, a personal relationship with God, and eternal life.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

If You Haven't Had One - Get One!

Eight years ago (about the time I turned 50) "she who must be obeyed" began to ask me when I intended to have my first colonoscopy. Remembering when she had her first one - a number of years earlier - and under more unpleasant conditions - I replied, "Just after I have my fingernails and toenails pulled out with a pair of pliers". She was not amused. "You have reached the age" she said, "when people are supposed to get checked", she informed me with that stern look that only she can give. This, and similar exchanges went on intermittently for the next four years. I held firm to my desire for personal dignity and an aversion to what I thought would be a most unpleasant experience.

"Listen!" I said. "If you think I'm going to volunteer for THAT, you've got another think coming! When my doctor tells me I have to get one, I'll have it done - but not a day sooner."

Well, that day came in late November, 2004, when in a weakened condition, I had consulted with my family physician. He informed me that my problem was due to a very low hemoglobin level. "We have to find out where you are losing blood" he said seriously, and promptly socked me into Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital for a series of tests. I had no idea I was losing blood. Not a clue.

They first scheduled an endoscopy. I didn't really like the sound of that, but it turned out not to be as bad as it sounded. It involved running a fiber optic camera down my throat and into my stomach looking for possible problems. The doctor explained that if nothing showed up on the endoscopy procedure, they would then go to a colonoscopy. Suffice it to say that I was praying for them to find a bleeding ulcer on the first test, but alas, the results were negative. So, failing to find anything on the "north to south" probe, to my dismay they prepared me for a "south to north" excursion the next day. That is where they hit the jackpot!

The colonoscopy procedure (which I slept through) revealed a large tumor in my colon. Through the fog of coming out of the anesthesia, I remember hearing the doctor tell my wife, "We will have to wait for the results of the biopsy, but I can tell you with a great degree of certainty this mass is most likely malignant. It must come out." He further advised that the mass had been growing there for two years or more. That, of course, was all that was needed to elicit the mother of all "I told you so's" from Linda! As most of my readers know, the mass was malignant, and the ensuing surgery revealed that the mass had escaped the wall of the colon and the cancer had spread throughout my liver and in many lymph nodes. The prognosis was dark. The resulting four years of surgeries, chemotherapy, CT and PET scans, and other medical procedures have cost a fortune and have been most unpleasant to endure. All of it, mostly unnecessary, had I undergone a simple colonoscopy at the age they advise. Had I not waited four years, this (and all the concern and grief of my family) could have all been avoided. Colon Cancer is one of the most curable of all malignancies, when it is discovered in the early stages.

I was a fool to wait.

The truth of the matter is, a colonoscopy is a safe, painless procedure which can save your life. Undignified? Yes, but anyone who has ever been a patient in a hospital knows, you check your dignity at the registration desk. One finds that the embarrassment doesn't matter if the procedure can save your life! The procedure itself is a piece of cake. The staff of the Endoscopy/Colonoscopy Suite at Our Lady of Bellefonte are friendly, highly skilled, courteous, and totally devoted to the patient's comfort. I have been through that suite several times now, and I can't say enough about their professionalism and kindness. The worst thing about a colonoscopy is not the procedure, but the preparation for it on the day preceding the procedure. While unpleasant, at least you can do the prep in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

The prep is all important, as the doctor needs to have a clean and empty colon to be able to proceed with the exam. A clear liquid diet is all one can have the day before the procedure, and then there is the stuff one has to drink, to clean out the test area. Apparently there are several formulas that are used for the prep, ranging from drinking a gallon jug of some kind of swill, to a little three ounce bottle, the contents of which are mixed with several ounces of some other clear liquid. My doctor told me to use the little bottle of Fleet Phospho-Soda (flavored or unflavored - my choice). Phospho-Soda. Sounds like some type of treat from the fountain at the pharmacy. Right? Not! This is the nastiest tasting stuff I have EVER put in my mouth. Like Jesus, I found myself praying, "Father if there be any other way, please let this cup pass from me", but to no avail.

Last year I had chosen the "Ginger Flavored" phospho-soda. Big mistake! This year I used my God given ability to reason, and chose the unflavored stuff. I figured I could mix it with Sprite to help it go down easier. Bigger mistake. Now the very thought of Sprite (which was formerly my favorite soft drink) turns my stomach. I don't know if I will ever be able to drink it again! I was instructed to drink one half of the "cocktail" at 8:00 AM and the second half at 4:00 PM. They were only small glasses of clear liquid but it took a major league effort to get them down - and keep them down. The only reason I didn't bring it right back up was the frightening thought that I would have to drink ANOTHER glass of it to replace the one I would lose. Regurgitation was not an option! Seriously, though, the resulting effects of the phospho-soda were not nearly as unpleasant to me as just drinking the stuff. I just had to stay close - and I mean CLOSE - to the bathroom all day.

With that experience behind me (no pun intended), Linda and I arrived at Bellefonte Hospital at 7:15 this morning for the procedure. The anesthesia was administered, and no sooner had I been brought into the scope lab and instructed to lie on my left side, I was out like a light. The next thing I knew, Linda was telling me it was over. The doctor came by to show us the photos (glossy autographed prints available for a reasonable price) and to advise us that he found, and removed, one small polyp near the area of my former surgery where the colon had been reconnected. He said it looked OK, but he sent it off to the lab for a biopsy. I'll see him next week for the results.

I was once a fellow who feared the thought of a colonoscopy. How foolish of me. Now I'm one of those annoying people who urge their friends and family members to have it done as soon as it is medically advisable. Don't put off something so simple, that could potentially save your life. If you won't do it for your own well being, do it for your family and those who love you. Take it from someone who has heard, "I told you so!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's An Honor To Serve

Our family has a heritage of individuals who have served in our nation's military. My grandfather, Caudle Adkins, Sr. was a doughboy in World War I. He died in 1959 from lung cancer. The malignancy most likely was the result of his being gassed by the Germans in France's Argonne Forest during "The Great War". He had a service connected disability from the Veterans Administration and he was treated for years by various doctors for diverse lung disorders. The fact that he also worked in the coal mines, probably added to the damage, previously done by the Kaiser's troops. Papaw Adkins had most likely never been outside of Lincoln County, West Virginia, when he joined the U.S. Army to fight in the trenches of France in 1917. I have often wondered what went through his mind as the country boy from the hills of West Virginia, boarded the troop ship to carry him across the Atlantic to fight the Huns in the "Old Country". One of my favorite movies is the World War I classic, "Sargeant York", starring Gary Cooper. Although Alvin York was not from West Virginia, his upbringing in the mountains of east Tennessee and his mother's Old Regular Baptist faith, were surely a close parallel to those of my Grandfather, who was Sergeant York's contemporary. I always identify the story line with my Grandfather when I see the old movie.

Just as Papaw Adkins served in World War I, my father, Caudle Adkins, Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Navy after World War II broke out. His older brother had joined the Navy and Dad wanted to do his patriotic duty as well. Problem was, he wasn't old enough. Not to be deterred by a small obstacle like that, Dad did what a number of young men did in that day. He quit school, lied about his age, and enlisted in the Navy for the duration of the war - which ended sooner than he had expected. He has often joked that Hitler heard he had joined up and he immediately threw in the towel! Dad took his boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center and then transferred to Norfolk, Virginia where he was stationed until the end of the war. A Sailor who never learned to swim, Dad piloted the famous landing crafts that you see in all the war movies. Since he never saw combat, his skipper duties involved transporting Sailors from shore to ship (and vice versa) at the huge Naval facility at Norfolk.

Like Dad, I had wartime service, but was never stationed outside the continental United States. After just missing being drafted by the Army, I joined the U.S. Air Force toward the end of the Viet Nam War. I was an Administration Specialist who trained at Lackland Air Force Base (San Antonio, Texas) and Keesler Air Force Base (Biloxi, Mississippi). All of my active duty was pulled doing double duty as a clerk to the Chief of Maintenance and the Squadron Commander of the 2001st Communication Squadron at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, a SAC facility in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I ended up trading my last two years of active duty in the Air Force, for four years active reserve duty with the West Virginia Air National Guard in Charleston, West Virginia. For some reason (which must have been important then, but I can't recall for the life of me now) I later did two years with the Army Reserve in Huntington, West Virginia, Ashland, Kentucky, and finished up my reserve duty in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Even though my military duty never took me outside the U.S., I would not trade my time in the service for anything.

The tradition continued when, in 1996 our younger son, Benji, shocked his mother by enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. After Boot Camp in Parris Island, South Carolina, Ben did his combat training in Camp Geiger and his Administrative Technical School in Camp Johnson, (both in the Jacksonville, North Carolina area). When his final orders came in, he only had to move across town as his permanent duty station turned out to be Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Ben served overseas with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit on the USS Ponce and as part of the peacekeeping force in Kosovo. The 26th MEU also ended up doing disaster recovery work in Turkey after a devastating earthquake hit that country while they were still in the Mediterranean. Ben's first son, William was born at Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital just a few weeks before he was discharged from the Marines.

Although there was really no pressure to do so, many of the men of our family chose to do their time in some branch of military service. My great, great grandfather, one Cumberland Adkins, Sr., was said to have served with a western Virginia malitia with the Confederate forces. One of Dad's brothers was in the Navy during WWII and the other served in the Air Force during the mid 50's - as did my Mother's only brother. My younger brother, Bruce, was in the Navy the same time I was in the Air Force. Bruce was a jet engine mechanic who served aboard the aircraft carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy.

My wife's family's military history is similar to ours. Her grandfather, Cornelius Bowling was in the Army during World War I. Her father, Burgess Bowling, was also in the U.S. Army, and took part in the invasions of North Africa and Sicily as he fought under General George Patton. Linda's oldest brother is an Air Force Veteran, and her immediate older and younger brothers were Marines.

Some veterans serve in peacetime, some in time of war. Some are highly decorated, some are not. All of our veterans, men and women, who served honorably are deserving of our thanks. The title song on Billy Ray Cyrus' first record album in the late 80's , a wounded veteran says these words:

"All gave some, some gave all.
Some stood true for the red white and blue,
Some had to fall.
If you ever think of me
Think of all your liberty and recall,
Some gave all."

A church I pass on my way home has a message on their marquee that reads like this, "Enjoy your freedom? Thank a Veteran."

Well said.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Qualities of a Good Soldier

This week we celebrate Veteran's Day here in the United States of America. It is a day set aside to honor our men and women who have served in the armed forces of our nation. Originally known as Armistice Day, the holiday was created to remember the Armistice agreement signed between Kaiser Wilhelm's German Army commanders and the leaders of the Allied Forces, which brought an end to World War I. The truce was signed 90 years ago this week on November 11, 1918, on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month".

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed the proclamation which changed the name of the holiday to Veteran's Day, honoring veterans of all wars - not just World War I.

We will be taking time to honor our veterans in our worship service this morning at Westmoreland Baptist Church. My message today, entitled "The Qualities of a Good Soldier", will use the Veteran's Day theme to draw parallels between the qualities of a member of the military service, and those of us who are "soldiers of the cross". The Biblical text comes from 2 Timothy 2: 3-4 where the Apostle Paul writes to the young pastor Timothy. Paul writes, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier".

When we think about the qualities that make a good soldier - we should apply them to our lifestyle as a disciplined follower of Jesus Christ.

A Good Soldier is a Follower! This implies a relationship. Paul refers to us as being enlisted as soldiers for Jesus Christ. It also implies an soldier's understanding of rank. Each of us have our own place in formation. We understand our tasks. There are some who are under our responsibility and there are those who are over us. This also implies rule. We understand that in the service, we are called to follow orders. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

A Good Soldier is Faithful. He must exhibit patience. Paul reminds us that we "must endure hardship as a good soldier. That patience comes from understanding our priorities. Our first priority is to "please the one who enlisted us". The soldier must then practice these principles of honor.

A Good Soldier is Familiar. He is familiar with the sound of the commander's voice. He knows those who outrank him and he follows their orders implicitly. He is also is familiar with the use of his weapon. Today's military has many sophisticated weapon systems but in the first century weapons of warfare were pretty basic. So is the equipment for the Christian Soldier. The Bible indicates our weaponry in the spiritual warfare in which we are enlisted. The whole armor of God starts with being gird about with Truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel footwear, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6: 10-18). The Christian Soldier is also familiar with the strategy of the enemy and the strength of his comrades. We must be aware of the enemy and his strategy (2 Cor. 11:14 and 1 Peter 5:8-9). Like the military soldier, the Christian Soldier should be linked closely with his comrades in arms. We work as a unit, and in the heat of battle, no one should ever be left behind.

The Good Soldier is a Fighter. Our first General Order was, "I am an American fighting man. I am prepared to give my life for my country". A good soldier is determined to win the battle. He is driven by his devotion to his country and his commitment to following the orders of his superior officers. He is dedicated to the cause. Are we truly determined, dedicated, and driven in our service to our Lord? He deserves no less!

The Good Soldier is a Finisher. When my father joined the Navy in World War II, his agreed term of service was "for the duration, plus six months". He knew he would not be putting down his arms until the conflict was over. The good soldier has the resolve to finish the work. He has reason to do so. The primary reason is because it is his duty, but another great reason for finishing well is his reward. This is the reward of a job well done. Often medals and ribbons are given the military man for his service and valor. There is a special reward that the Christian Soldier can expect at the end of the war. Paul puts it this way in 2 Timothy 4: 7-8, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me on that day, and not to me only, but to all those who love His appearing."

Have you enlisted? Are you a Good Soldier for the Lord? The pay may not put you in the top tax bracket, but the retirement plan and benefits are "out of this world"!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What Makes America Great

Thank God for November 5th!
The long - loooonnnng Presidential campaign is finally over, and like many others, I have a plethora of mixed emotions. This campaign has been going on for nearly two years. We have all probably had it up to here with the rhetoric, promises, talking points, charges, counter charges, attack ads, pundits, polls, and talking heads arguing on the cable news shows.

Voter turnout percentages were the highest for any national election in decades.. People were passionate about their candidates, and many stood in line for hours to cast their ballots. The campaign was hard fought, but by 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, November 4th, it was suddenly over.

The guy I voted for lost.

I was never really excited about John McCain's candidacy, but I was truly disappointed to see him finish about six points behind Illinois Senator Barack Obama. After all, there were other Republican candidates whom I found to be more representative of my conservative ideology. However, McCain did hold to certain issues that resonate with me, such as his right to life stance, his stand on the issue of same sex marriages, his opposition to congressional earmarks and pork barrel spending, his plan to keep the Bush tax cuts in place and to cut the capital gains taxes. I also respect his military experience and feel that he would have been a capable Commander in Chief.

On the other hand, Senator Obama's brief (but very liberal) senate voting record and lack of substantial experience seemed problematic to me. His judgement came into question in my mind concerning his past (and present) ties to such controversial figures as William Ayers, Tony Rezko, Louis Farakhan, and Jeremiah Wright. I found his "nay" vote in the Illinois State Senate against their version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act to be equal to an agreement with infanticide. His Marxist sounding rhetoric regarding "spreading the wealth around" and former statements regarding the constitution send chills up my spine.

As I said earlier - mixed emotions. How so?

While I disagree with Senator Obama on most social and economic issues, and still have many troubling questions about this man who is an almost unknown quantity, I have nothing but admiration how he has risen from nowhere to be elected to the highest office in the land. Through my personal disappointment, there was still a place in my heart that shared in the happiness of so many of our fellow countrymen of African descent. While I never was personally the object of racial hatred and prejudice I do remember the segregated schools, lunch counters, and water fountains of the late 50's and early 60's. I remember well the news reports of the fire hoses and police dogs in Birmingham. I remember Alabama Governor George Wallace's "stand in the school house door", and federal troops escorting a hand full of black teenagers to class at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, surrounded by mobs of jeering students and adults.

My fellow baby boomers never saw the days of slavery. We did, however, come of age when the scars of that darkest chapter in American history were still open wounds, festering in our society. The very idea that a black man might be elected President in our lifetimes seemed to be fantasy. The sin of racism is not gone - in fact it still exists among some blacks as well as some whites. Yet no one can argue that history has been made this week.

Now, with that being said, let me get to the point of the title of this post.

The bitter election fight came to an end on Tuesday night. Senator McCain called Senator Obama to congratulate him on his victory and to state his support for him as President Elect. President George W. Bush, (who had daily been a campaign punching bag for Obama, Senator Biden and their surrogates) publicly congratulated the Senator on his accomplishment and extended a gracious invitation to he and his family for a visit to their future home in the White House. Bush offered full help and cooperation to Senator Obama's people as they begin the transition phase. Starting this morning, the Senator began to receive the same daily briefings that President Bush gets on security and international issues.

On January 21, 2008 an orderly transfer of power will take place. One administration will pass and a new (and very different) one will ascend to the head of the Executive Branch of our government. Ideologies and policies coming in will be almost the exact opposite of those of the outgoing administration. This transfer of power will take place peacefully, because our Constitution mandates how this is done. The voters have spoken. Changes will be evident. But the Republic continues as the great ship of state changes course.

While he did not get my vote, President Elect Obama will get my respect and support because of the importance of the office which he assumes. He will not be the President of the black Americans, nor will he be the President of the Democrats. Barack Obama will be the President of the United States of America. The election is over, and power is his for the next four years. I believe it is my duty to pray for my President because the Bible tells us to pray "for kings and all who are in authority" (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

I will pray for him to be granted wisdom from Almighty God for every position he appoints and every decision he makes. While I may not agree with many of his policies, I also know that "the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turns it whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1). While Senator Obama's past actions and judgments may be suspect, I will pray that God will change his heart and channel it toward what is right in the sight of God. I hope you will join me in this fervent prayer.

Finally, it would also be well for all of our elected officials, from President to City Councilman to remember one thing. It's a truth found in 1 Corinthians 2:5-6 where Paul writes "Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power f God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are coming to nothing." Our elected officials are in a position of temporary stewardship, but their authority is limited. It will eventually come to an end.

God is in control.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Are you voting today? I'm preparing to leave for my local precinct polling place right now.

As Americans, we have the privilege of choosing our leaders.

Every American should exercise their franchise.

When you vote (whether it be for President or City Commissioner) I pray that your vote will not be based on partisan affiliations, special interest groups' endorsements, slogans, personalities, economics, and empty rhetoric - but upon your values and convictions.

Those of us who are Christ Followers, must be careful not to leave our Biblical world view outside the voting booth. I will not presume to tell you for whom to vote... but I do urge you to know the candidates and their platforms. Evaluate where they stand in regard to your innermost convictions, and cast your vote accordingly.

On the other hand, if you don't know the candidates, or where they really stand on the issues that are important to you, then for God's sake DON'T VOTE!