Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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 :
- local relevance
- civic contribution
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
Saturday, November 22, 2008
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."
"When they take the bait, set the hook and reel them in."
"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 http://www.lifway.com/ 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
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.
THE DAY AFTER
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
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
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
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.
Monday, November 10, 2008
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:
A church I pass on my way home has a message on their marquee that reads like this, "Enjoy your freedom? Thank a Veteran."
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
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.