Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Get the idea?
Her office can seem like Grand Central Station at times. It can get crowded and noisy. It can be confusing. Yet her efficiency in getting the job done - often under great stress and looming deadlines is second to none. Very seldom does she make a mistake. Once a task makes it's way to her "To Do" list, you can count on it being accomplished. I never have to ask twice. She manages to take care of all her church obligations while at the same time being a wife and mother, and helping her husband, Philip, manage the numerous rental properties that they own. She is a busy girl...
She has also come to be considered a friend to many members of our church family. I am sure they will all join me in wishing Sonia the very best on her new job, and also in feeling the loss here at Westmoreland Baptist Church. Obviously, I am not looking forward to the transition, and she will leave some big shoes to fill, but I know that God has the right person out there for us. We'll make it through of course, but we'll miss her.
So, Sonia, we wish the very best to you, and Philip, and Nathan in the future. Thank you for a job well done.
Friday, December 11, 2009
This post is not original with me, but I certainly like what it says. I received it from Cathy Howerton, who received it from Daina Reger Hamlin. I appreciate it being sent along to me. With all our "well meaning attempts to do the right thing" it would probably benefit all of us (and bring more glory to God) if we would simply practice the truth of the message of this imaginary letter. Think about it…
Letter from Jesus about Christmas --
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, life, death, and resurrection, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping thereon Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.
9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the City Mission, Salvation Army, CAReS, River Cities Harvest, The Dressing Room (Federated Charities), Community Kitchen or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember:
I LOVE YOU,
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
"And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are
invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (ESV)
"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No
one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6 ESV)
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 to be Armistice Day to observe the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Agreement which ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice). On November 8, 1954, the Congress officially changed the name of the holiday to "Veterans Day" to honor all the veterans who have war or peacetime service, not just those who served in WWI.
My Grandfather, Caudle Adkins, Sr, continued to refer to it as Armistice Day. He did so until he died in the Veterans Hospital in Huntington, WV in 1959. He had been one of the Doughboys who fought in France during "The Great War". He was seriously injured in a German gas attack, and I believe that injury eventually contributed to his death to lung cancer at the age of 64.
The grandson of a Civil War veteran, Papaw Adkins was one of many veterans in our family. He served in the U.S. Army as did Linda's grandfather, Cornelius Bowling (WWI) and her Dad, Burgess Bowling (WWII). There have been several Navy vets in our family as well. My Dad, Caudle Adkins Jr, served in the U.S. Navy during WWII as did his older brother, M.J. "Buster" Adkins. My younger brother, Bruce, also had Navy service during the Viet Nam era.
I joined the Air Force (also during Viet Nam era) but never saw overseas duty like my uncles who were also Airmen. Jerry Stidham served in the USAF during the Korean War, and Sammy Adkins did much of his Air Force peacetime service in France during the mid 50's. My brother in law, Danny Joe Bowling also served in the Air Force as did my nephews Chris Bennett and Dan Bowling.
The United States Marine Corps celebrated its 234th Anniversary just yesterday. We've had our share of proud "Leathernecks" on both sides of our family. Linda's Uncle, William Smith, died during his service to the USMC, and her brothers, Burgess Ray and Bob Bowling were also proud Marines. Our younger son, Benji, enlisted in the Marine Corps, and served with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, taking hostile fire in Kosovo, and doing earthquake recovery work and humanitarian aid in Turkey during his four year tour of duty.
Veterans are all around us. There are some well known and easily recognizable ones, like local Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Woody Williams. However, most of them are just average guys in every walk of life. They may come from various backgrounds, separate branches of the service, and differing military experiences, but they share one thing in common. They're Vets. Some made a career of it, some just served their hitch and came back home, but they all served. There is not much about them that makes them stand out in a crowd, but it is nice to have a day set aside when we can say thank you to those who have served, and for the Veteran to be honored for his or her service to our country.
Later today, I will be privileged to sit with Benji and twenty or thirty other veterans at Charles Russell Elementary School. There my grandson, Will, and his school mates will perform patriotic songs and readings, to honor the assembled veterans. The program will close as every student and teacher, will come by and shake our hands and thank us for our service. Just seeing those little ones and knowing that they live in freedom that has been provided by trained fighting men and women makes one thankful to be a small part of the big picture.
Veterans Day is one of those holidays that we sometime take for granted. It's that little holiday between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, when the banks are closed and their is no mail delivery. There are ceremonies here and there and even a few small parades, but it's not a day that the family goes out on a picnic, or gathers together for a huge feast at Grandma's house. There are no fireworks, but there should be. It is a day that is set aside to honor those who serve. The men and women who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard (and their families) have sacrificed to serve us and to protect the constitution of the United States which guarantees our freedoms and secures our way of life.
Freedom is never free, and for that, we can all thank the veteran. May we honor them all on this Veteran's Day.
"It Has Always Been The Soldier"
by Father Dennis O'Brien, Chaplain, USMC
It is the soldier, not the President,who gives us democracy.
It is the soldier, not the Congress,who takes care of us.
It is the soldier, not the reporter,who has given us Freedom of Press.
It is the soldier,not the poet,who has given us Freedom of Speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,who has given us the Freedom to Demonstrate.
It is the soldier,who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag.
Thank you, to all veterans, for your service to our country!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
- Worship - " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'"
- Ministry - "... 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' ..."
- Evangelism - "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..."
- Discipleship - "... baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..."
- A born again experience with Christ and a personal relationship with the Father through Jesus.
- Scriptural believer's baptism (immersion) - publicly identifying with the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus.
- Regular attendance at Worship Service
- Belonging to a small group (Sunday School or other small groups) for informal Bible Study and relationship building - relationship to God and other believers.
- Taking part in at least one ministry of the local church. (many from which to choose)
- Giving systematically and proportionately of your finances to the work and mission of the church.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Headlines in a story in today's "Herald-Dispatch" - "Figures show toll hikes boost Turnpike revenue". Ya think? Who could have foreseen that result from increased toll fees?
The most interesting thing about the Maine results to me, is that the action taken by those voters came down in spite of a two to one spending advantage by the gay rights crowd and the endorsement by the state's largest newspaper. This majority vote in the liberal state of Maine was not a reflection of "right wing, religious, homophobic bigots" but simply an understanding of the people that the institution of marriage involves one man and one woman. Period.
The West Virginia Legislature needs to man up and let the people of the Mountain State vote for a constitutional ammendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. This would ensure that no activist court could impose it's will on the people of West Virginia. C'mon. Let them vote!
Unemployment reached 10% in America today, the second highest total since World War II. The current administration continues to blame the former administration for the economic woes. President Bush and the congressional spending certainly didn't do us any favors, but at some point President Obama and the Democratically controlled Congress have to begin to take ownership in this situation. Enough excuses! It is their baby now, and has been since the corporate bailouts, government takeover of the automobile industries, and other elements of the "stimulus package". Where are the results of all the promises? Why do we seem to be hurling twoard socialism?
Question to the average American - "How's that hopey changy thing working for you now"?
As Mark Twain once said, "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated". Some regular readers may think I have met my demise since I have been absent from this site for the past week. We'll it's been an incredibly busy week, what with Doctor's appointments, preparations for hosting the WV Convention of Southern Baptists Annual Meeting, and the actual convention itself. Busy week, but a really good one.
The news coverage on the tragedy in Fort Hood, Texas underscores the political correctness of the major media outlets. It is amazing how the perpetrator, who is a Muslim, is being portrayed as a victim himself. There is very little coverage on the fact that he is a Muslim and that he allegedly dressed in Muslim attire and shouted "Allah Akbar" (Allah is great) as he brutally killed 13 unarmed soldiers and injured many others. Had that dastardly deed been done by someone who claimed to be an evangelical Christian, the fact would be splashed across every newspaper headline in the nation, and the major broadcast news outlets would be trumpeting it 24/7. In the final analysis, it is not really just a "Muslim thing" it's an evil thing - and extremist Muslims simply fall in to that category. But one doesn't have to be a Muslim to be evil. The sinful nature of man is to blame. The prophet said it best. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
The only remedy for our avarice is a personal relationship with God, and the only way to such a relationship is through Jesus Christ.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
It's going to be three 12-14 hour days for some of us, but I do look forward to seeing many of our Baptist friends from all around the Mountain State. They will be coming to enjoy good preaching and worship, great fellowship, and to conduct the business of the convention. They will spend time in the exhibit area, visit the LifeWay book store, approve the State Convention budget, hear report from state and national agencies, focus on missions, honor a retiring member of the state office staff, and elect a new President.
Jimmy Morton (a church planter from the Charleston area) is President of the Pastor's Conference. He has planned a great program for our Pastor's Conference on Thursday afternoon and evening. Cheryl Harper has put together an enjoyable time of fellowship and worship for pastor's wives, and the church will be hosting a Pastors and Wives Dinner between the sessions today. Then, on Friday morning the Annual Meeting gets underway as messengers from all around the state come together.
Mixed in among the reports, resolutions, and business sessions, Dr. Phil Roberts (President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) will present several Bible studies. On Saturday morning we will hear messages from Dr. Hershael York, of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and West Virginia's own Jack Miller will bring the annual message. Music will be stirring throughout the Pastor's Conference and Convention. Some of the presenters and worship leaders will include Darrell Clark, Frances Skeens, a "West Virginia Bluegrass Gospel Band", The Jason Lovins Band, Crimson Flood from Liberty University, and our own Randy Spurgeon and Carla Bell.
I'm looking forward to a great time together.
We've been working like crazy for the past few weeks sprucing up the campus, and doing all those little maintenance things around the church that have been overlooked for a while. We're in pretty good shape, but unfortunately, we didn't get the gym floor completely stripped for waxing, but we will have it ready before Upward Basketball play begins. You know how it is when visitors are coming over to the house, you want everything to be clean and nice. Well that's how it is around the church as well, and I am so proud of the work our folks have done in preparation for our visitors.
Preparations started several months ago as a planning team was put together to prepare for the task before us. Carla Bell, Thamer and Jean Calhoun, June Ashworth, Charley Dygert, Jim Lackey, David Thompson, Mel Hicks, and Mindi Spurgeon all took on planning committee chairmanships. These folks have done a great job in recruiting volunteers and working to pull this thing off. I can't say enough about the folks who have worked so tirelessly to get the church ready for the upcoming events. Thamer Calhoun, Butch Cotton, Sam Wellman, Charley Dygert, and David Washington have done a tremendous amount of maintenance work inside and outside both buildings. Volunteers like Rachel Lackey, Steve and Rick Weber, Jim Bailey, Maxine Bias, David Curnutte, Bob Hall, Zach Bell, Bob and Mitzi Trout, and others have all pitched in to do important preparation work as well. Rosemary Wilks, Brenda Dingess and Mindy Spurgeon have decorated the church beautifully. Church Secretary, Sonia Jones ,has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help out with a lot of extra duties that this event has brought upon her. We have also had great cooperation from Kathy Bailey and the Mothers Day Out Program, whose regular weekly operating schedule has been disrupted this week.
We've had a couple of snags and challenges along the way, but our volunteers have come together to do a really great job.
Saying "Thanks" to the above mentioned folks (and others who have helped) just doesn't seem adequate to repay them for all their hard work, but Thank you nonetheless. Your efforts are deeply appreciated.
Next week we should get "back to normal", but for now, we are thankful to be able to host the wonderful folks from around the state who are coming together to do our part to advance The Kingdom. Hope to see many of you this week at Westmoreland Baptist Church, Hughes and Court Streets in Huntington!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The stereotype still exists today. "The Deacon Board". You know the picture. A bunch of cranky old guys wearing suits; sitting around a table; laying out church policy, sometimes at odds with the Pastor; often with tempers flaring; the ruling body in the local Baptist Church. Is that the mental picture you have of the deacon?
Well, it's not what you may think.
That's not the way it is at Westmoreland Baptist Church; nor is it the biblical model for the "other" ordained office in a New Testament church. It may have been that way at WBC sometime in the past, but no longer. Sadly, the stereotype does still exist in many churches.
The Greek word "diakonos", usually translated as "Servant", is actually a combination of two Greek words – "dia" and "konos" – literally, "through the dust". The literal translation of the word indicates the very humble nature of the office. In biblical times the diakonos was the servant who washed the dust from the feet of the guest. He cleaned the dirty sandals. He was the humble character who served meals and saw to the welfare of others.
Most Bible scholars believe that the ecclesiastical office of deacon had its origin in the church at Jerusalem, during a crisis that is recorded in Acts 6. An accusation arose against the Apostles that a certain group of widows were being neglected in the church's benevolent ministry. Peter, James, and the others were quite busy in fulfilling their ministry of proclaiming the Word of God – evangelizing all who would listen, and discipling those who accepted the Gospel message.
Realizing that unity in God's family was essential, Peter spoke to the assembled congregation, and proposed a simple solution. The believers were to look into their membership and chose out several men who would see to this business of waiting tables. The church was told to look for men who were honest, and of good reputation, and spiritually deep. There would need to be a sense of humility, in those chosen. Since the work was one of ministry (or service) to others, these men would need to possess a selfless spirit, not an attitude of authority. The Apostle Paul, writing to the young pastor, Timothy, later gave a general list of qualifications for those who would fill the office of deacon (1 Tim.3:8-12)
I think it is important to note that the seven men listed in the Acts narrative did not volunteer or "campaign" for the job. After all, who in their right minds would be chomping at the bit to go "through the dust"? The key is that they were CHOSEN by their church, and we see no scriptural evidence that any who were chosen, declined to serve.
Some people have a convoluted idea of what is expected of a deacon. Some expect spiritual "supermen" who are perfect examples of what the true believer should be. Perhaps we are expecting too much, and perhaps those chosen for the office sometimes feel unworthy of the high standards we often place on the office. Now don't misunderstand me here. There ARE standards for the office, but the standards are set by God and not by us! We sometimes add to the scriptural standards, and unfortunately sometimes deacons themselves get the wrong idea and evaluate the office to that of a "Board of Directors".
A wise old pastor once told a conference I attended, "If you guys don't want your deacons to act as a Board of Directors, then don't you act like a CEO!"
Good counsel, indeed.
I am thankful for the men who we have serving Westmoreland Baptist Church in the office of deacon. Are they perfect? No. I'm afraid not. Neither, I suppose, were Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas; but they did meet the basic scriptural qualifications, their church had confidence in them, and they were willing to humbly serve.
Our deacon meetings at Westmoreland Baptist are not "miniature business meetings". That is not the purpose. Our meetings are times of sharing prayer requests and discussing how we may more effectively minister to the needs of our people, and how we may preserve unity in the church when difficulties may arise. One thing that has impressed me about every deacon with whom I have served, has been their desire to preserve that unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. No personal agendas. No ego battles. No ugly confrontations. Even when opinions may differ on one point or another, there has always been a desire to come together in unity and to lead our church in that direction.
On November 15th we will again chose deacons to serve our church for the coming three years. My prayer is that qualified men will allow themselves to be considered; that the church will make wise choices; and that the men who are selected will serve in that same humble spirit working "through the dust".
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- Family. I was blessed to be born into a wonderful loving family, with Christian parents, and good, godly grandparents, loving aunts and uncles, and a great group of cousins on both sides of the family. I was the first grandson on both sides, and was totally spoiled by the Adkins and Stidham clans. I have two wonderful brothers and we were all born at five year intervals. We live in three different states and don't often have opportunity to be together, but there is a tie that binds us closely together in love and care for one another. My two nephews and two nieces are some of the finest young people you would ever meet.
- Linda. One of God's greatest gifts to me. I met her forty years ago this month, and from that point on, she has been my love, my solid rock, my best friend, unwaveringly faithful and loyal, my chief supporter, my kindest critic, my sweet thing, and my prime rib. She has washed my clothes, cooked my meals, borne our children, and been the most loving wife, mother, and grandmother I have ever known. Ain't no woman like the one I've got!
- My Sons and their Families - Jay is a pastor and theologian. Benji is a teacher and coach. They are both good at what God has called them to do. He has blessed them with wonderful Christian wives who have been pictures of unconditional love and grace. The four grandsons that they have given us have been the light of our lives for these past (almost) 10 years. Quint, Will, Canon, and Asher are blessings to me that I cannot begin to describe with mere words!
- Friends. What can I say about the hundreds and hundreds of friends who have touched my life? They range from the boyhood buddies like Donnie Smith and Rick Hall, to school mates, military comrades, neighbors, kids I have coached, business colleagues, fellow service club members, band parents, athletic boosters, insurance clients, teachers, coaches, school administrators, friends of my children, and brothers in the ministry. The miracle of Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with some friends whom I haven't seen in more than 40 years. I love them all!
- Church Family. Mom and Dad took me to church from nine months before I was born until I left home as a young adult, and I grew up with a loving church family at Thomas Memorial Church in Huntington, WV. It has been my pleasure to serve in pastoral ministry to six congregations since 1976. I was an Associate Pastor (under Rev. Carl Vallance) at Central Free Will Baptist Church in Huntington, WV, and served as lead Pastor at Sousannah FWB, and Pleasant Valley FWB in Cabell County, Wayside Baptist and Ashland Baptist Churches in Kentucky, and for the past seven years at Westmoreland Baptist Church in Huntington, WV. I am happy to say that I feel that I could go back to any of those churches, and still feel right at home, and I still cherish the love and friendship of each of those precious congregations. In fact, I'll be preaching at Wayside's homecoming service this Sunday afternoon.
- Material Blessings. These are way down the list in importance, because they are temporal in nature, but appreciated nonetheless. I am thankful for a roof over my head, a comfortable home, the clothing I wear, dependable transportation, enough money to pay the bills (so far), and my library.
- My Health. I still see lots of doctors, but I thank God for the health care I have received, and that I am able to function physically and mentally (although some may think I am somewhat suspect in the latter category)
- My Savior. This is the greatest gift of all. The Grace of God reached all the way down to my fallen state, and brought me into a relationship with Him. He cleansed me. He forgave me. He brought me from death to life. Like the Psalmist said, "He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay. He sat my feet on a rock and established my goings. He put a new song in my heart". The means of this transformation is Jesus the Christ. He took my sin upon Himself and gave me eternal life.
Eternal life. That sounds good doesn't it"? Especially once the years in this one begin to mount into the really big numbers! I believe in Heaven and I know I am going there one day, but I am also thankful for the Abundant Life God has given me in the here and now. A line from John Denver's "Poems, Prayers, and Promises" has long been a favorite of mine, and kind of sums up how I feel on this 59th birthday, "I have to say it now, it's been a good life all in all. It's really fine to have a chance to hang around..."