Friday, January 30, 2009

Thank You, Lord

We are so thankful!

This is Canon Josiah Adkins. He is our third grandson, and one whose health has been a concern for us recently. Canon just last week underwent surgery at New Orleans Children's Hospital to remove an Aneurismal Bone Cyst from the fibula in his right leg. This was Canon's second surgery for the same problem. The first occurred when he was three years old. He is now four. This time the mass was "dangerously close" to the growth plate.

After the first surgery, the doctor told Canon's parents that the cyst/tumor was benign. He also told them that there was a good likelihood that it would return, and that he would probably require further surgery. It did, and it did. This time, the outlook was not quite so clear. There were "abnormalities" present that were not usually found in an ABC. The doctor had some concerns about the aggressive growth of the tumor and how it mimicked a type of malignancy usually found in the bones of older children. Naturally we were all concerned.

The last week has been difficult for the family. Awaiting the pathology report was nerve wracking to say the least. We have had prayer requests going out to people near and far – literally half way around the world. While we knew that God is sovereign and that He had a perfect plan for Canon's life, we (somewhat selfishly) hoped that he would not have to go through more suffering. We prayed for God's will to be done, and for grace and strength to be able to handle whatever that perfect will involves.

The good news today is that Canon's tumor was not malignant. For that we are so thankful! Unless God chooses to intervene, Canon will probably have to endure many more of these surgeries in the future. We also know that God's grace is sufficient for every need, and we trust. How God will use this situation for His glory is yet to be seen, but we are sure that He will.

Thank you, friends, for your prayers on behalf of Canon and our family.

Thank you, Lord, for your presence and peace.

We love you.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You May Be A Southern Baptist, If -

Those of us who are Southern Baptists are proud of our tradition, although truthfully, many of our members have very little understanding of Southern Baptist Convention history. I have been a Christian since 1969 but was raised in a Baptist Church that was of another denomination - one that was more Arminian in it's theology. I attended it's Bible College, was ordained into the ministry, and served as pastor or staff person at three of their churches. As I began to come to a better understanding of the Doctrines of Grace, I was drawn to move my membership to a church of like faith and practice with my beliefs.

In the early 1980's as I came to learn more about the recent Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. I was already familiar with the ministry of Charles Stanley, had read a number of Herschel Hobbs and R.G. Lee's books, and was thrilled by the preaching of Adrian Rogers. The SBC seemed like a good fit for me, so I began to seek out a local Southern Baptist Church. Linda and I were warmly welcomed into the fellowship of Second Baptist Church of Ashland, KY, where we worshipped and served until God called me to my first SBC pastorate in Boyd Co. KY. Since that time, I have pastored three SBC churches. I served in several positions in the Greenup Baptist Association in Kentucky before assuming the pastorate of Westmoreland Baptist Church across the river in West Virginia. Since then, I have served two one year terms as President of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists and I am honored to be serving as a Trustee of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

I've said all that to say this. I love the SBC. I love the Baptist Faith and Message. I love the Cooperative Program. And I love Baptist people. Having served three Southern Baptist Churches as Pastor, I have come to know and love all types of church members. We don't appreciate others making sport of us, but we Baptists never mind poking a little fun at ourselves. The late Dan McBride, of Texas, had a great knack for writing funny songs (like "Tiptoe Through The Tithers", "Send Me To the Convention", etc) that pointed out some of our Baptist idiosyncrasies. We are some of the best people on earth - and some of the funniest.

In that light, I'd like to share some funnies with you. They're certainly not original with me, and many of you may have heard some of these before. I hope they bring a chuckle (or even a belly laugh) to you. So, with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, You might be a Southern Baptist if:

1. If you ever thought that John the Baptist was the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention...

2. If you've ever asked if we are ever going to get those two women (Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong) paid off...

3. If you feel guilty about not checking all the boxes on your offering envelope...

4. If you've ever broken the binding in your Bible by putting your Sunday School Quarterly in it....

5. If you more eagerly anticipate business meetings more than worship services...

6. If more adults sit on the front row at children's concerts than in Sunday morning service...

7. If you have never sung the third verse of any song in the hymnal...

8. If your definition of "fellowship" has something to do with casseroles...

9. If you have ever received the "stink eye" from an older member because "you're in her pew"...

10. If you have ever referred to chicken as "Gospel Bird"...

11. If you were afraid of one of the deacons when you were little...

12. If you were ever afraid of one of the deacons when you were grown!...

13. If you have ever judged the quality of a sermon by the amount of sweat worked up by the pastor...

14. If your church choir has 25 ladies and only 4 men...

15. If you know the pledge of allegiance to the Christian Flag and the Bible...

16. If you pastor has a "fried chicken belly"...

17. If everything you know about surgery and illnesses came from requests at Wednesday night prayer meeting...

18. If you automatically stand with head bowed and eyes closed at the first notes of "Just As I Am"...

19. If you think the Spirit of God is strongest on the back three rows...

20. If you met your spouse at camp...

21. If your church has ever had a joint fish fry/communion/and baptism service...

22. If you have ever been given, or given someone else the "right hand of fellowship"...

23. If you have felt the urge to say, "Amen" after every song...

25. If you can name the major mission offerings, but cannot find the book of Habbakkuk...

26. If you think Jesus actually used Welche's Grape Juice...

27. If you are willing to sit in a pew an hour and a half discussing the church budget...

28. If you went directly from attending VBS to teaching it...

29. If you judge the quality of the sermon by it's length...

30. If your entire summer calendar revolves around VBS and Camp...

31. If you have ever woke up in the middle of the night craving fried chicken and took it as a call to preach...

32. If you have ever put an IOU in the offering plate...

33. If you think the Building Fund is sacred...

34. If your church secretary attends the Assembly of God Church (deny it but you know it's true!)...

35. If you think Lottie Moon was a character from the Bible...

36. If you suspect that someone who says "Amen" when the preacher is preaching is a Charismatic...

37. If you think Billy Graham is the Pope...

38. If you honestly believe that the Apostle Paul really spoke King James English...

39. If you don't want to take a definite stand on Calvinism...

40. If your pastor ever got fired for moving the pulpit 5 inches to the right...

41. If your pastor considers dancing one of the Seven Deadly Sins...

42. If you've ever thought, "We've never done it that way before" are words of great wisdom...

43. If you feel guilty about throwing away the bulletin...

44. If you think "Victory In Jesus" is the church fight song...

45. If you know all the verses to "Just As I Am"...


Monday, January 26, 2009

A Bump In The Road

Dr. Lauren Triplett-Schweickart has been a familiar face for the past month or so. She has been doing a little work on the second toe of my left foot. Being diabetic, I have learned the importance of good foot care (a fact that I basically ignored for about 52 years). Anyhow, Dr. Triplett-Schweickart has had me in a special boot which is constructed to keep the weight on the back of the foot and allow the lack of pressure on the toes, to hasten the healing process. It's been a little inconvenient, but basically not a major problem - that is until I broke my "good foot".
Last night I spent four hours in the Emergency Room at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. Now, I usually try to avoid hospitals like the plague, but there comes a time when you gotta go. I had been limping around on a sore right foot all week. On Tuesday I complained to my secretary that the "good foot" hurt worse than the bad one. There was no swelling or indication of any problem, so I continued to gimp along all week. When I got up Sunday morning the right foot was swollen, red, and hot to the touch. My immediate diagnosis was that I had picked up some kind of infection, but I couldn't figure how. There were no cuts or abrasions. After all, the left foot was the one where the cutting had been done. It hurt pretty badly, but it was Sunday morning, and I DO work on Sundays. So, I forced on my right diabetic shoe and went about my regular Sunday morning activities, planning to contact "Dr. T-S" on Monday. However, by the time I got home from church, the pain was such that I was afraid to delay seeking treatment for another day. At Linda's urging we headed for the familiar confines of Bellefonte Hospital.

The ER doctor could not find any evidence of any cuts or wounds that could have been a gateway for infection to begin. "We're going to run some tests to see what else it could be. We'll have to rule out a blood clot first", he said. I had never had any problems with blood clots before. In fact, I have been taking the blood thinner, Coumadin, for four years - but - better safe than sorry. They did an ultrasound from thigh to ankle and then wheeled me over for three xrays of the bad appendage. When the doctor came back in to my ER cubicle he said, "The good news is there is no blood clot."


"The bad news is, you have a fracture in the second metatarsal bone."


(see the location of the break in the diagram below)

I had no clue there was a broken bone. How had it happened? I had been to the gym three times last week, but had been on the elliptical machine, which is low impact compared to the treadmill. There had been no falls or any trauma to the foot that I could recall, so the cause of the break is a mystery. A nice nurse came in and moulded a splint from toe to knee and wrapped it up with about a hundred Ace bandages, and gave me instructions to contact Orthopedist, Dr. Robert Love this morning for an appointment. Meanwhile, crutches, no weight bearing on the right foot, keep the foot elevated, antibiotics just for good measure, and percocets as needed for pain.

Life is full of the unexpected. I have come to expect this. While I am frustrated at being temporarily laid up, and very concerned about how I am going to be able to drive with whatever the doctor does to the foot, I have not "lost it" like the "pre-cancer C.J." would have. (Just ask Linda and the boys). There are a number of things that I have learned in life as a result of coming to face my own mortality. I've had a lapse or two along the way, but in situations like this one, I have come to two conclusions:

1. Don't sweat the small stuff.

2. Basically, it's ALL small stuff!

Three weeks from today we are scheduled to land in Dumaguete City to begin a two week mission trip and crusade in the Philippines. I'm not sure how this new bump in the road will affect the logistics, but I know that none of the events of this week have come as any surprise to my God. It's all part of His perfect plan. Therefore, I will wait with anticipation to see how He may get some glory out of this situation, as He continues to weave the tapestry of my life.

We never know where the bumps will be, but one thing for sure - it's a great ride!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Upward Basketball and Cheerleading Tip Off

Upward Basketball and Cheerleading began it's second season at Westmoreland Baptist Church this month. Practices got underway at the first of the month, and yesterday saw the first Saturday games of this season. We thank God for the opportunity to be involved in this wonderful ministry to children and their families. Here are a few random photos of practices and yesterday's games.
Our league has increased in numbers by just over 40% over last year's participants. We have expanded to six teams and three cheerleading squads. The kids had a great time, and the parents and grandparents seemed to fully enjoy the games.
I want to thank every coach, referee, concessions workers, and other volunteers who helped pull off a great opening day yesterday. It was also great to see other church members come by just to enjoy the atmosphere and visit with the parents. God is blessing this ministry of Westmoreland Baptist Church.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This Is A No Garbage Zone

June Ashworth, our church treasurer, approached me just after church on Wednesday night. She handed me a folded piece of paper and said, "Read this when you get a chance".

I had been "on the job" for about 12 hours, and was tired from the long day. There have been times (not often) when June has had to brief me on financial concerns. Perhaps there was a look of concern on my face when she handed me the paper. There must have been, because June smiled and said quickly, "Don't worry. This is something good."

When I opened the note, I quickly saw that it seemed to be one of those things that people forward to each other via email, all the time. My eyes quickly went to the bottom of the print out. There was no promise of an angel being dispatched to my shoulder, and no warning of bad things that might happen to me if I didn't forward it to 10 friends and back to the person that sent it. (I hate that stuff, and when I see it, I usually just delete the whole thing and move on). Since it appeared to be different, I sat down at my desk and read the short article, and was glad that I did. I don't usually forward these things on to people, but this one is worthy of sharing. The author is unknown, and I don't know if it is a true story or not, but it is a message worth sharing. Check it out:

"One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport.
We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car pulled out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean he was really friendly. So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your taxi and sent us both to the hospital!' This is when my taxi driver taught me what I call The Law of the Garbage Truck.

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. 'They
run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of
disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it, and sometimes they'll dump it on you. When that happens, don't take it
personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't
take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.'

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks
take over their day. Life is too short to wake up in the morning with
regrets, so ... love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who

Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how
you take it."

Well, that's the message, folks. I hope it will speak to you like it did to me. Very simple, yet excellent advice.

Have a blessed, garbage free day!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Doing The Right Thing

The financial crisis is spreading to every segment of our society. Theological education is not immune. The six Southern Baptist Seminaries are all taking severe blows to their finances. The recent free fall and continual drop of the stock market is taking its toll on the endowment funds upon which the seminaries heavily depend. Baptist Press has run stories recently, reporting on actions that are being taken in several of the seminaries. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX is cutting nearly three million dollars from their budget. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY has cut 35 full and part time positions. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is also facing a budget adjustment of nearly one million dollars. This crisis is especially tough for the NOBTS family which is still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of NOBTS for the past three years, I have come to know many of the people on that beautiful campus. My friends in the seminary family include many administrators, faculty, staff, and a good number of the students. Naturally this crisis hits home when it is your friends and loved ones involved. I feared that NOBTS would also have to cut positions, or lay off faculty or staff members. However, the actions taken by the seminary leadership, while difficult to bear, are a testimony to the able leadership of seminary President Dr. Chuck Kelley.

A hiring freeze was put in place. Faculty members were asked to temporarily take on a larger work load. Travel and spending costs are being severely restricted, and energy saving policies are being instituted in all campus facilities. Some students who work on campus will be losing medical benefits. Every member of the faculty, staff, and administration (except those who are losing insurance coverage) are also facing pay cuts. This, of course, is the toughest pill to swallow. The cuts are to be temporary, but they will obviously impact every family and individual working on campus.

This is where I appreciate so deeply the compassion of our seminary leadership. All employees will be facing a 5% reduction in pay. Senior Administrators will see their pay reduced by 7%, and in an action that shows great empathy for the sacrifice others are making, Dr. Kelley's salary will be reduced by 10%. Now, Dr. Kelley's salary is the highest of any on campus, and rightly so, but 10% is 10% however you cut it. While each employee will feel the brunt of the temporary pay cuts, I pray that the example of the Senior Administrators and President Kelley will be a signal to each person affected, that the leadership cares about each of them.

Hopefully this austerity budget will bring NOBTS through the current crisis, without any loss of positions, or further cuts. Dr. Kelley has communicated to us that the loss of investment income is only part of the financial problem. Cooperative Program giving is down about four percent across the Southern Baptist Convention, and CP giving is a big part of the Seminary's financing. Furthermore, private giving to the Seminary is also down this year. All three of these factors are forming a perfect financial storm for each of our seminaries.

There are some things all of us can do to help. First, pray. Pray for every entity of the SBC, including the Seminaries and the International and North American Mission Boards. Secondly, keep giving to your local church, so the local church's Cooperative Program giving may continue - or increase. Also, private gifts to the Seminaries are always welcomed and deeply appreciated.

NOBTS is blessed to have a wonderful faculty and staff, and a leadership team that is committed to doing the right thing. Vice President for Business Affairs, Mr. Clay Corvin, is a world class number cruncher, and Dr. Chuck Kelley is a loving shepherd and servant leader who cares deeply for students, faculty and staff. They are trusting fully in God, and they ask each of us to pray fervently for the entire Seminary Family. The same God who brought NOBTS through the worst natural disaster in U.S. history is able to bring them through this financial storm as well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Note To My Grandsons On An Important Day In America

"We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone". The plain black and white sign was posted above the counter at the little diner on 9th Street in Huntington. At the time it really didn't seem unusual. In fact, there were several businesses where I had seen similar notices posted. It seemed reasonable to this 10 year old at the time that any business had that right. However, I later came to realize that those were code words that signaled to black people that they were not welcome in that place of business. It was sometime around 1959-1960 when I first noticed the sign. Racial segregation was still a problem in our area.

The schools had been desegregated as a result of the Supreme Court's "Brown v. Board of Education" decision. Locally, "colored" schools like Douglass High School in Huntington, Aracoma High School in Logan, and Booker T. Washington High School in Ashland had recently closed down, and their students were integrated into student bodies that did not exactly welcome the black students with open arms. We didn't have any major incidents in our area that I can remember, but trouble in places like Little Rock, Birmingham, and Montgomery were documented each evening on the Huntley- Brinkley report. America was changing, and it wouldn't come easy.

As a white kid, growing up in the 50's and 60's I obviously never felt the sting of being the recipient of racial discrimination, but I did become aware that it existed. We were on vacation in the early 60's when I saw first hand what black Americans had been dealing with – especially in the south. Dad stopped for gas along a rural highway somewhere in Arkansas, and we kids headed for the restrooms. The attendant directed us to the back side of the gas station where we saw three restroom doors. They were marked, "Men", "Women", and "Colored". I remember thinking how unfair that seemed. After that, I began to learn more about "colored water fountains", "colored waiting rooms", and "whites only" lunch counters throughout the south.

Today it seems unconscionable that an entire segment of American citizens were kept out of hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, just because of the hue of their skin. But to our national shame, that was the case. The evil institution of slavery had ended 100 years earlier, but in some states there was still a sizeable portion of our population who didn't even have the basic right to vote.

The faces in my neighborhood and our church were all white. It wasn't forced segregation. That's just the way it was. The black folks lived in "their part of town" and we lived in ours. In fact, the first time I had any classes with a black kid was not until my sophomore year in high school. We didn't have any close friends who were black. Dad worked with some black men at the Nickel Plant, and we knew that they were nice guys, but our families really didn't know each other. They lived in their neighborhoods and went to their churches, we lived and worshiped in ours. Things were just that way then.

Your Great Great Grandfather (my Papaw) first worked in the coal mines, then later became a representative of the United Mine Workers of America. He worked with and represented a number of black coal miners as well as white ones. Most of the black miners in their coal camp lived in an area called Price's Bottom. They and their children walked up and down Kimball Street going to and from their homes to work and school. They were always polite and said "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" as they passed my grandparents home. They all seemed like nice folks, but we didn't really know them very well. That's the way things were then. Looking back on those days it brings a smile to my lips when I realize that no matter whether the miners were of African descent, or Italian, or German, or Welsh, or Hungarian, they were all black when they came off their shift of duty in the coal mines.

I remember when Hal Greer broke the "color line" to be the first black basketball player at Marshall University. I remember Rosa Parks, James Meredith, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember the southern governors and sheriff's like George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Bull Connor who stood in opposition to integration. The daily newspapers and TV news broadcasts brought the disturbing images of police dogs, fire hoses, marches, sit ins, jailings, and other tumultuous events to our eyes and consciences every day. I remember the marchers and demonstrators behaving peacefully and singing, "We Shall Overcome Someday". I think that most Americans, no matter what their ethnic background, were moved when Dr. King boomed from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial about his dream that one day his little children would be "judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin".

Looking back at those days now, it is difficult to believe how far our country has come in the last 50 years. Prejudice and racism is not dead, but things are changing daily. Today an American of African descent will be inaugurated 44th President of the United States. That was almost unimaginable back in the days when I was your age. Even though I voted for Senator McCain for President, (not because of race, but on the issue of experience and qualifications) I join with all Americans today with as sense of pride as Senator Obama places his hand on the Bible and takes the oath of office as President. President of ALL Americans. He will be my President, and I have the responsibility and privilege to pray for him.

My prayers are with the new President. I pray that he will be a leader who seeks the counsel of Almighty God for every decision he is called upon to make. He cannot provide all the answers to the problems that face and divide our nation – but God can! I pray that God will speak to the hearts of ALL of our elected leaders to do what is right in His sight, and what is right for our nation.

You guys live in exciting, yet sometimes frightening times. No one knows what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future! Trust God. You'll never go wrong.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Off to the Gym

The Ceredo/Kenova Fitness Center opens in one hour, and I'm headed back to the gym after an absence of over a month! If the gym opened at 6:00AM every day it would be much easier for me to go each morning, but alas, the 6:00 AM openings come only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. By the time the place opens at 8:00 on Tuesday and Thursday, I am usually already visiting a hospital or back in my office for morning hours.

I've been absent from the gym for over a month. Several excuses have kept me away, including ministry activities, holidays, Linda's surgery, two medical procedures of my own, traveling out of town, and frigid early morning weather. Most of these factors are legitimate, but I'll confess that the weather has been a convenient excuse. It's just easier to sit around in the warm house and wait for daylight to come than to be scraping windshields or shoveling snow at 5:30 AM!

One legitimate reason for my absence has been an ongoing foot problem that has required some minor surgery. This has kept me in a special boot for several weeks. But, boot or not, I have got to get back in the habit. The 16 degree temperature and dusting of snow will not keep me away today. Four weeks from today I should be somewhere over the Pacific Ocean , headed for a two week mission trip in the Philippines. Losing ten to twelve pounds before that trip would be most helpful. First, it would make a difference in the tight confines of a coach seat on four flights that will take over 31 hours. By the way, on the 16 hour Philippine Airline flight, economy class is called, "Fiesta Class". Trust me - it's no Fiesta!

The other incentive for losing the weight is that I will feel better. I always feel better when I work out regularly, and in the tropical heat of the Philippines, ten extra pounds of blubber is something I really don't need. So, it's off to the gym - boot notwithstanding. I know I need it, and I know I'll feel better as a result. Regular visits to the gym are what I need, but it's not always what I do. Even though taken out of context, I understand what the Apostle Paul is talking about in Romans 7:18b-19 "...For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do." (HCSB)

Look out elliptical machine - here I come!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oliver Stone Is At It Again

Oliver Stone is, without debate, a tremendously talented filmmaker. Well known for his large body of work, Stone's films like "Platoon" and "Born on the Fourth of July" have often been critical of the American government and it's policies. Many of his films ("Midnight Express", "JFK", "The Doors", "Evita", and "W") have been criticized by their authors, or people portrayed in the films, as playing fast and loose with the truth. Of course, Stone would tell you that these exaggerations and misrepresentations are allowed by "artistic license".


One of the great beauties of our constitution is that it allows dissidents, such as Stone, to freely express their views - even when those views are critical of our nation. I think all of us respect that right, even if we do not agree with the opinions expressed. Celebrities like Stone, Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, and Alec Baldwin are as entitled to their political views and opinions as are you and I. Where I draw the line in my tolerance of dissident speech and behavior is when these high profile characters use their celebrity to glorify those who are open enemies of our nation. In my opinion, Stone has crossed that line.

Oliver Stone is not satisfied to criticize our government. He has made a point of traveling abroad and hobnobbing with heads of state who are avowed enemies of the United States of America. His 2003 trip to Cuba resulted in a documentary on the life of Fidel Castro. The film, entitled, "Commandante" reportedly glorifies Castro and the Cuban Revolution, while vilifying the United States. Understandably, the film has never been released in the US, but can be purchased on DVD from an outlet in Great Britain.

Now Stone has spent two weeks of filming in Venezuela and other areas of South America. His focus in on Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's controversial, America hating, President. Stone claims to have enough documentation to produce two films, glorifying Chavez. Chavez is an avowed enemy of the United States. His actions and rhetoric leave no other conclusion. Stone now follows Sean Penn, who has also visited Chavez, and publicly criticized his home country on foreign soil.

Criticize America here if you so desire. But to do so in a foreign land, in the presence of a political strongman who desires the demise of our nation, is inexcusable - bordering on treason!

Stone is quoted as saying that he is happy to see the region's, "liberation from the United States". I wasn't aware that we were oppressing the peoples of South America in general, or Venezuela in particular. In fact, through the Monroe Doctrine, our government for two hundred years, has protected the continent from foreign invasion. Have we tried to extend our influence in the region? Of course. But we have not colonized or oppressed the people of South America in any one's wildest dreams. For all Chavez' anti American rhetoric, he hasn't totally won over the hearts of his fellow countrymen. In fact, Venezuelan voters, last year, had the good sense to defeat a ballot initiative that would have made his presidency permanent.

Oliver Stone may be a gifted filmmaker, but I would certainly question his judgement of human character. I was most taken by Stone's admiring quote about Chavez, when the filmmaker said, "The pure energy of the man is intoxicating." Too bad that Stone was born a little too late in history to have been "intoxicated" by another famous leader. I understand that Adolph Hitler was a pretty energetic person, himself.

Come on Oliver. Get a clue!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

30 Days And Counting

One month from today our team of four is scheduled to arrive in Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros, Republic of the Philippines. The other three members of our team will be Thamer Calhoun, Rick Gunnell, and Joseph Spurgeon. This is an experienced team as each of our team members have been to the Philippines before. Each of our team members play an important role. While I do most of the preaching, Thamer (who is a Gideon) oversees scripture distribution, Rick provides instrumental and vocal music and helps Joseph with children and youth ministry. All of us are involved in home Bible studies, and house to house and marketplace evangelism. All of us are looking forward to being reunited with old friends, and to engage with them in their ministry on that tropical land. The fact that it was -2 below zero this morning makes us long for the departure date that much the more!

This will be my 9th short term mission trip to the Philippines since February, 2000. With the help of scores of partners here we have been able to purchase property, finance the building and furnishing of two church facilities, distribute nearly 3,000 Bibles and hundreds of gospel tracts. We have helped equip Pastors and Church Leaders through printed resources, and training seminars. Gifts from friends here have purchased rice for feeding ministries, and have even helped take care of hospital and surgical bills for the pastor’s families.

Pastor’s Doming Valdez and Joseph Zerna, and their wifes, Villa and Juvy are precious friends who are tireless servants of God. They serve Him faithfully under very difficult circumstances, and they are a tremendous example to each of us who know them. We look forward to what may likely be our last trip to that area (certainly the last for a long time) and we are praying for God to do a wonderful work, and to allow us to be part of what He is doing. Last night I received the following tentative itinerary from Pastor and Mrs. Valdez. While the names of people and places may be unfamiliar to most readers, I am sharing it with you in hopes that you will pray over the planned activities, and ask God to bless in a mighty way. On this trip, we are not scheduled to travel to many of the remote hinterlands as we have on some trips. This time we will generally be focusing on the Dumaguete City area, and communities surrounding Pastor Valdez’ New Life Christian Church (SBC). Here is the planned schedule:

February 17 - Tuesday - Phil. Mision team arrival Dumaguete airport

18 - Wednesday - rest from tiresome trip from USA
Evening Group Meeting

19 - NORECO 2 and/or Dumaguete Fire Station
House to house evangelism : Habitat Balugo
Habitat Scandinavian
Gina's Eatery
Open Air Evangelism at the 2 Habitata in the evening

20 - Friday - RUSI office
Diony's area (Upper Batinguel)
Easy Ride Waiting Area (Bro.Joseph)
Weng's boarding house

21 - Saturday - Boat ride to Siquijor

22 - Sunday - NLCC Sunday school and Morning Worship Service
Brgy Balugo, Toting's residence
Brgy Balugo Dumpsite
Brgy Candau-ay(Jim & Linda Enclonar's area)

23 - Monday - Dumaguete Post Office
Brgy Balabag,Valencia - Ricky's residence
House to house in the vicinity

24 - Tuesday - Dumaguete Police Station
Brgy Cadawinonan (Los Banos area)

25 - Wednesday - Brgy Candau-ay : Casa Alicia subdivision
El Pueblo subdivision
Revival Meeting (evening at NLCC)

26 - Thursday - Habitat brgy Candau-ay
GK (Gawad Kalinga Homes)
Revival Meeting (evening at NLCC)

27 - Friday - Brgy Batinguel,Katrina Homes 1
Katrina Homes 2
NLCC vicinity
Revival Meeting(evening at NLCC)

NLCCians will work on the food preparation.(A.M.)
American partners will visit souvenir shops.(A.M.)
4th Revival Meeting and Church Anniversary Worship

March 1 - Sunday - A.M. - NLCC Sunday school
Morning Worship Service

P.M. - Packing of luggages

2 - Monday - Homeward Bound!!!

You can pay Bro. Joseph's easy ride when you arrive here. Since this might be your last visit, the MSBCians would like to come fellowship with us and join us in our Anniversary Worship Service on Saturday ,28th of February and the Sunday,March 1st Morning Worship Service. They would also like to see you at the Dumaguete airport when you go home to America. In this connection, may we request that Bro. Joseph will get them at Mayaposi by easy ride vehicle in the morning of February 28th, and fetch them back home to Mayaposi Monday morning,March 2nd after you leave for America.

Our 9th anniversary theme is "BE READY! JESUS IS COMING! Matt. 24:45 We pray for you all and we are looking forward for your coming. We pray that God will give us success in this mission to win souls for Him.
To God be the glory forever,
Doming & Villa & NLCC family

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thank You Mr. President

In four more days your term in the Oval Office will be over. The past eight years have been quite a ride for the American people and for you. As you leave Washington as our former President, many will rejoice, since your popularity is only 28%. While I have not personally been pleased with all of your actions while in office, I want to thank you for serving as our President.

Your first term of office was marred by the infamous terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Your second term was hit hard by the one-two Punch of largest natural disaster to ever hit the United States of America (Hurricane Katrina) and the financial meltdown of 2008. Your administration's reactions to these tumultuous events are the subject of debate and sometime vigorous disagreement among Americans. However, in the long run, history will judge the impact of your presidency - and that is fitting and proper. In the mean time, I, for one would like to say, "Thank you".

Thank you for doing all you could to keep us safe. On September 12, 2001, I'm sure most Americans would have never expected that we would make it another 7 1/2 years with no terrorist attacks on our soil. But we did, and that is not by accident. I believe you and our various security forces have done everything humanly possible to protect the homeland, and to also bring democracy to the oppressed people of Iraq. Some are unhappy with your methods. Many disagree with your reasoning, but I thank you for standing firm in a time of war. My prayer is that the incoming President and his administration will be as vigilant as you were in providing for our national security.

Thank you for appointing excellent jurists to the high court. Associate Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts will help keep a balance of reason on the bench, being strict constructionists in their interpretation of the Constitution.

Thank you for your support of the nation of Israel.

Thank you for being a man of faith. Far from perfect, you have still served as an example of God's Grace and life changing power. Your support for faith based initiatives goes a long way toward placing charitable work where it belongs - in the faith community.

Thank you for appearing to be faithful to your wife and the intuition of marriage. The lack of scandal in your personal life sets an excellent example for public figures to follow. It stands in stark contrast to your predecessor, and to a number of elected officials from both major political parties.

Thank you for being "real". Your lack of pretense and your human imperfections helped provide fuel for many comic routines, but in reality, we could see you as a real American. Imperfect. Self Deprecating. Quick with a smile - a joke - or a nickname. While not a "messiah" you were a President who most of us could relate to as fellow Americans.

Thank you for standing your ground when your decisions were unpopular. For way too long, and on too many levels of government, governing by "polling data" has become too commonplace. You may have made some wrong decisions, but you never shirked your duty of making the tough decisions. I believe you did your best to serve us and to protect us. For that we should at least all be thankful.

As you step into the next chapter of your life, I wish you health, happiness, and vindication by historians for your vigilance in the face of danger. May God bless you. Thank you for your service to our nation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some Things I've Learned Since College

There is much to be said for formal education, but there is much to be learned after the classroom days are over. As I approach the conclusion of my sixth decade on this planet, here are some random thoughts on some of the things I've learned since college:

I don't know it all.

(in fact, I don't even know half of it)

Things are not always what they seem to be.

Logic and faith are two different things. Faith is superior.

No political party has an exclusive claim to God. Almighty God does not ride on the backs of donkeys or elephants.

Faith sees the invisible... grasps the abstract... moves mountains. Faith does not enslave. It leads to the greatest freedom of all. Faith is not blind. In fact, it brings an invisible God into perfect focus.

Communism looks good on paper, but has never yet been successful in practice.

Socialism kills the spirit of individuality, smothers the entrepreneur, and stifles the dreams of the visionary.

If unchecked, Capitalism can lead to opression and slavery.

Some unconscionable things have been done in the name of religion.

Labor unions have done some wonderful things for the working person.

Labor unions have spawned some terrible corruption.

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian - really is.

God's Grace is not only amazing - it's unfathomable!

Ice Cream may be Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry - but it's still Ice Cream.

Ronald Reagan was correct when he said, "A government that is big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have".

Every child needs a mother and father. Sadly, some mothers and fathers miss the mark.

Nearly every politician claims, "I'll fight for you!"

(against what?)

We're all pink on the inside.

War is hell. Yet there are some things ... like freedom ... that must be defended.

The family is the first and greatest institution on earth.

Children are wonderful ... Grandchildren are precious!

Grandchildren give us a chance to do it over again... this time the right way!

My mother and father are two of the wisest people I have ever known. They have taught me the greatest lessons in life.

True Christianity is not a religion... it is a relationship.

Freedom isn't free.

My wife is the best human being I have ever known. I wish I were more like her.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!

I wish I could find a way to combine the energy and idealism of youth with the experience that only comes with age.

The Hokey Pokey is not really "what it's all about".

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Group of "Doers"

Pictured here is a special group of young adults and their children. These are all members of the Pairs and Spares Bible Study Class at Westmoreland Baptist Church. Our church is blessed with a number of excellent small groups and classes. Each group has it's own personality and each fills an important niche in our church family for Bible Study, Fellowship and Ministry. As pastor, I am proud of them all, but I have a special place in my heart for this particular class.

The Pairs and Spares group is one of the newer classes in our Sunday Morning Bible Study program, but in their short history as a class unit, they have already made an impact for the Lord in our church and in the community. They come from several different walks of life. Two are nurses, one is a certified teacher. There are accountants, contractors, office assistants, home makers, and management people. They work for Lowes, Cracker Barrel,, hospitals, manufacturing and sales firms, private offices, pre school programs, and call centers. Some class members are married, some single. They bring their own individual gifts and talents in helping Westmoreland Baptist Church fulfill it's mission in the community and the world.

As I look at this photo I see a group of young adults who are quickly becoming the backbone of our ministry here at Westmoreland. None of them are "bench warmers". There are no spectators here. All are doers, and they are setting a wonderful example for each member of Westmoreland Baptist Church. In this group are Vacation Bible School directors and teachers, The AWANA Commander and other AWANA leaders and volunteers. Some work with our youth group and student ministries, or child care. Others are involved in music ministry, singing in choirs, vocal ensembles, or playing instrumental music. One oversees all of the audio/visual/multimedia technical ministries of our church. Some are actively involved with Upward Basketball, Cheerleading, and Soccer. Several serve on various committees in the church. At least one has been involved in short term mission trips and ministry to the Huntington City Mission. Several of them have helped us in putting together evangelistic block parties in our community.

One of the great impacts this group has made in their short history as a class, is the "Garments of Grace" clothing ministry for needy families and individuals in our community. The clothing ministry was an idea that they brought to me shortly after their class had formed. They were willing to oversee this ministry and it has quickly grown from a "clothing closet" to an operation that fills three rooms! The ministry has grown quickly (possibly even more than they had expected). Our church family responded in a tremendous manner, bringing in all manner of good quality items for the ministry. Scores of families and individuals have already been helped with top quality adult and childrens's clothing, shoes, coats, purses, back packs, etc. Class members keep the project going by sorting, sizing, and displaying the various items in an attractive, orderly fashion. The clothing ministry is publicized in the community with certain special advertized days, but it is also open daily to anyone who has need of the resources. The clients of this ministry are treated with dignity, and class members exhibit the love of Christ through their actions.

The members of the Pairs and Spares Class not only BELIEVE in the mission of our church - but they are INVOLVED in it through our three fold purpose of "Magnifying God... Making Disciples... and Ministering To People". The Pairs and Spares class members are not only coming to church, but they are helping to set the example of "being the church". They are also serving as great role models to their children and the other young people of Westmoreland Baptist Church.

James writes in his epistle in the New Testament that we should "be doers of the Word and not hearers only". These folks get it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Will Rejoice And Be Glad In It

It's 5:45 AM and it looks like my next hour or so is going to be spent digging out our automobiles for the work commute this morning. This is usually when I break the 11th Commandment and find myself "coveting my neighbor's garage".

The "Snow Fairy" came last night and the 26 degree temperatures have allowed for an accumulation of two inches or so, here in the Ashland area. According to the morning news weather lady, we were spared the worst of the area snowfall. Areas east of Charleston, WV and into the eastern West Virginia mountains are receiving upwards of 10 inches of the white stuff. That's great news for the ski resorts in Canaan Valley, Snowshoe, and Winter Place, but not so great for those who are traveling along I-79 and the West Virginia Turnpike.

The news reports say that a new "arctic front" will be coming through our area on Saturday morning, beginning with freezing rain, and bringing us nightime temperatures in the single digits most of next week. Burrrrr! But it is January, and we can expect no less. This is the time of the year when students, just back in school from their Christmas vacation, go to bed praying for this type of weather - and a snow day or two. This winter blast comes on the heels of heavy rainfall yesterday. We had over an inch of rain here in the Tri State, but down in the coal fields of Logan and Mingo Counties in West Virginia, and Pike, Floyd and Martin Counties in Kentucky, over two inches of rain fell in the past 24 hours. There are areas of flooding and scattered road closures, but no reports of any serious damage. I would suppose that we should all be thankful that the rain was not snow. Had it been, we would REALLY be digging out this morning!

Bundling up like an Eskimo and shoveling snow before daylight, makes the thoughts of that upcoming mission trip to the Philippines seem extra special. Only 38 days to go!

While the weather in this part of the country can be unpredictable and sometimes very inconvenient, it is nice to live in a region with four distinct seasons. God's handiwork is truly marvelous. His palette is colorful and the finished results are truly masterful. The changing seasons always remind me of the cycles of life. The newness of the spring and the joys and activities of the summer are like the blessings of our youth and the prime of our lives. Autumn brings us the realization of our shortening days and that signals the coming of winter. The cold days of winter, when the vegetation dies, or lays dormant, remind us that death awaits each of us. The 90th Psalm reminds us of the same fact. "In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers". The Psalmist goes on to say, "For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away". But then comes spring, with the reminder of the resurrection hope that we have in Christ.

Each day of the year brings it's own challenges, but I have learned that life is good and every day is precious. Rain, heat, snow, financial difficulties, health challenges, personal loss - no matter what - this is the day that a gracious, loving God has sent our way. My relationship with Him, through Jesus Christ, transcends any temporal bumps in the road. I echo the thoughts of the psalmist in Psalm 118: 24, "This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."

I hope your day is a blessed one!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How Great Thou Art!

As long as astronomers have been studying our Milky Way and other Galaxies in space, the Milky Way has been considered somewhat of a "little sister" to the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. However, recent scientific data has revealed that this is not at all the case.

The new findings were presented recently at the American Astronomical Society's annual convention in Long Beach, California. A study was conducted by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A fellow named Mark Reid was the author of the study. In an interview Monday, Ried said, "Previously we thought Andromeda was dominant, and that we were the little sister of Andromeda. But now it is more like the Milky Way and Andromeda are fraternal twins."

It turns out that the Milky Way is considerably larger, bulkier and spinning faster than astronomers previously thought. In fact, the study shows that the Milky Way is virtually the equal of Andromeda! The study was done mapping the Milky Way in a three dimensional model, much more detailed than earlier studies. It has a 50 percent greater mass than was previously thought, and it is 15 percent larger in breadth.

The past few decades, with numerous manned space flights, unmanned deep space probes, the Hubble Space Telescope, etc have brought us much more data on the cosmos that surrounds us. No longer are we held to earthbound perspectives of our universe. These other probes have given the common man, and the scientific community, a total new perspective on the universe around us.

For those of us who believe the Bible, these new revelations just go to show the beauty, magnificence and wonder of our God, Yaweh (or Jehovah). The more I see of the formerly hidden things of this universe, the more I rejoice in the power and majesty of our God. Even with limited scientific data, David stated the obvious when he wrote in Psalm 19: 1-6:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. "
When we begin to scratch the surface of knowledge of the universe, we feel so small and insignificant in the vast scheme of things. Yet when I realize that the awesome creator of the cosmos cares about individual humans, my heart wells up within me with appreciation and with awe and praise! The psalmist David must have felt the same way. Consider the 8th Psalm, verses 3 & 4:
"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? "
Aren't His love and grace amazing?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Upward Basketball & Cheerleading - Second Season

Tonight's practice sessions begin our second season of Upward Basketball and Cheerleading at Westmoreland Baptist Church. We have found Upward to be a wonderful ministry to children and their families, and are so thankful for the opportunity to share Christ with the children in our league. We will be having practices on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings for the players, and Tuesday evening for the cheerleaders. Three teams practiced this evening, and the rest of the teams will get their first court time on Tuesday and Thursday. Practices are only one hour per week and they play one game per week for eight weeks (beginning Saturday, January 24th.)

This season sees a 43% increase in the number of players and cheerleaders in the Westmoreland Upward League from the numbers we had in our initial season last year. We have three divisions this year which are Pre K-Kindergarten; 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Grades; and 4th, 5th, & 6th grades. The higher our number of participants, the more divisions we will be able to add. We are praying that we will be able to serve even more children and families if the Lord allows us to continue this ministry next year.

During these first practice sessions, the children go through some basic drills and skill evaluations. The really little ones are a joy to watch! They are learning how to dribble, pass and shoot. The real excitement comes at the end of their first practice as the coach distributes their individual bags and uniforms. The smiles on their faces are priceless!

Upward is very different than other youth sports leagues. The emphasis is not on winning, but upon learning the game, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Coaches and officials are all committed Christians, and there is no bad language or behavior, and none is tolerated from the fans. Teaching and loving the children is our first priority. Playing time is spread around equally, and the teams are computer selected, based on evaluated skill levels, to keep the talent level even on each team. No one is building a dynasty! Not only do the kids have a great time, and they're learning the basics of basketball and cheerleading, but more importantly they are hearing the word of God. Each child gets a Bible memory verse each week, and they receive a devotional thought and testimony at the half way point of their practice sessions and at half time of their Saturday games. Another bonus is that at halftime, everyone in the gym will hear a personal testimony and the plan of salvation from one of the volunteers or other members of Westmoreland Baptist Church.
I am thankful for the many volunteers who give of their time and love to make this ministry possible. Some coach, some officiate, others set up chairs and baskets. Some make the gym ready, and clean up afterwards. Some take care of concessions, and over 100 people are members of the prayer team that are praying for 100 days for the success of the Upward Basketball and Cheerleading ministries.
With 100 people lifting up this ministry in prayer - great things are bound to happen!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Papaw's Wallet

Here are some photos from"Papaw's Wallet".

(You know how grandfathers are!)

A Clean Slate

Each of us Adkins siblings came at five year intervals, so my youngest brother, Carl, is ten years my junior. Carl was a delightful kid who was a joy to be around, but being the baby of the family didn't keep him from asserting himself. After all, with two older brothers like me and Bruce, he learned early that he would need to assert himself if he were going to survive. He developed a strong personality early in life, which I am sure has served him well during his adult years - supervising a large staff and dealing with one crisis after another as the General Manager of a large stadium.

As a little guy, Carl would wait at the front door for us to arrive home from school. I especially remember one particular such day during my 6th grade school year, when we had a large snowfall. There must have been six inches or so of the white stuff covering the ground. Carl was just over two years old at the time, and he was enthralled by the beautiful coating of snow. He had joyfully peered out the window for hours admiring the fresh blanket of snow and looking for us to return so he, too, could come outside to play.

We walked home from school in those days. (you know the story, barefoot, two miles per day, uphill in both directions, etc) Anyhow, there were a large number of Gallaher Elementary students who walked up our street to their homes each day. As we approached our house, I saw Carl standing in the open front door - fury etched on his little face. It seemed that some of the school kids were not only walking on the slushy sidewalks, but also dragging their feet through some of the front yards - including ours. Carl was outraged. As some of the students veered from the pavement into our snow covered yard, Carl would scream, "Get out of my snow!!!"

Carl loved that pristine beauty of the unmolested snow blanket. Soon he would happily make his own footprints in the snow. He would soon join his older brothers in creating a snow man, making snow angels, and riding our new sleds down one of the neighborhood slopes. But until then, it was HIS snow. He wanted to be the one to blaze the trail. He wanted none other than a fresh, clean canvas on which to work his own art.

In a sense, each of us are facing a similar situation as 2009 arrives. A fresh, clean slate lies before us. Sure, there will be the usual list of suspects who will tramp through our yards this year. We do not yet know who the characters will be , nor how they may mar our beautiful snow fall, but we're sure to have plenty of them. The most important thing is, that it is up to each of us, as to what type of footprints WE will leave.

How have your steps counted in 2008? Have you messed them up in any way? Every 365 days, God gives us a mulligan - a do over - a clean slate on which to work. As we face the new year with all it's uncertainty, those of us who follow Christ will never need to fear where our steps will fall. That is as long as we follow His lead. He knows what's coming. He knows the way. Our job is to follow. If we do just that, our steps will matter. Our footprints will always be right. The yard before us is beautiful, pure and waiting. How we walk in it is up to us.

On this first day of the new year, I want to share with you the words of a beautiful song written by Bill and Gloria Gaither in 1974. The song is entitled, "That's Worth Everything".

"Some men will trade the wealth of home and friends for just a taste of
Some men will risk their reputations, than men may know their name;
But just to know that all is clear between my soul and God's dear Son,
And hear Him say 'Well done', well, that's worth everything!

To know when tiny feet walk in the path that I have left behind,
That they will make their way to Jesus, contentment there to find;
And just to know down deep within my heart that I have wronged no man,
And fit my Master's plan, well, that's worth everything!"

Linda joins me in wishing you a happy, healthy, and fruitful New Year in 2009. May God bless you, richly, and use you in His perfect plan.