Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Successful Community Outreach

Our AWANA Commander, Randy Short, was searching for opportunities to increase AWANA attendance, and pick up kids for Sunday School, Upward Basketball and Cheerleading, and other children's ministries at Westmoreland Baptist Church. His idea was to have a Fall Festival in the church gym on Trick or Treat night. It was a great idea, and a tremendous success.

One of our members last year suggested a "Trunk or Treat" project on the parking lot, but it was too late to pull it off when the idea was brought up. So we began to explore options for this year. Randy was willing to put this thing together, so I simply left it up to him, to make plans, enlist volunteers, and make it happen. I simply offered support. He and 4o other volunteers did a tremendous job!

A number of churches were doing "Trunk or Treat" this year, so Randy opted for the concept of having the event in the church gym. We weren't sure of what the weather would be like on Trick or Treat night, but we knew the climate would be under control in the gym. It was also bright, safe, and large enough to host a large group. We were able to offer free hotdogs, chips, and soft drinks to everyone who attended, and provide tables and chairs for them to eat at, and for the adults to rest while the youngsters took part in the various games, face paintings, and other activities. Various Sunday School classes had their own tables, where they gave treats to the children. The gym environment also allowed us to be able to control "foot traffic" and register each person in attendance, gaining valuable information on each person and family. By registering, the visitors became eligible for door prize drawings, and received tickets for the free food. Each registrant also received a Gospel tract, information brochure on the church, listing service times, ministry opportunities and other information. Each child also received a registration brochure for the upcoming Upward Basketball and cheerleading league.

Randy's records indicated that there were 513 registered visitors. 37 families were identified as not being part of any church family. These names were given to our G.R.O.W. teams and other outreach ministries for further contact. We don't know how many folks we may be able to reach for Christ as a result of the Festival, but we do know that six new children will be on the church van for Sunday School in the morning. For that, we praise God, and thank Him for the 41 volunteers who sacrificed their evening to accomplish two of our purposes - "Magnifying God and Ministering to People". Hopefully it will also provide inroads into the third purpose, "Making Disciples". Thursday evening was a nice ending to our "Spiritual Focus Week". In fact, our Revival Evangelist, Mike Osborne and wife Sue, stayed and extra night in town after the end of the Revival services and they attended the Festival along with their two grandchildren who live nearby!

Here are a few random photos we'd like to share with you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It’s Not What You May Think!

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

Wonderful Gifts

Today begins my 59th year on the planet.

Yes, 59. That's only one year away from being a sexagenarian (which is NOT what it sounds like!). But all that aside, my 59th birthday is another special milestone for me and my family. Especially since, according to the "average statistics" it's a birthday I should have never seen. I had just celebrated by 54th when it was learned that I had fourth stage colon cancer. A large tumor, and a big chunk of my intestines, were subsequently removed. The doctors told me that the cancer was also in fourteen of the lymph nodes they removed, and was "scattered through my liver like grass seed". Eighteen to twenty two months are the average survival time, so, theoretically, I have been blessed with three extra birthdays that I should not have seen.

I am so blessed!

Birthdays, in general, are not big deals at our house. Basically it's just another day with a little celebration in the evening. The family comes over. There is a cake, some ice cream, a few cards, and usually some small gifts. The birthday person blows out the candles, and the occasion is noted for posterity with a few photos. Always a nice time, and a time for reflection.

My reflections this morning revolve around gifts. Not gifts like sweaters, and neck ties, and wallets, etc. Intangible gifts. Those gifts that cannot be held in one's hands, but gifts that really make life on this orb so special. I'm talking about gifts like:

  • 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..."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

If Everyone Else Jumped Off A Bridge ... ?

Remember those days when you wanted to do something that one of your friends was doing. Your parents, for their own reasons, said "No!"

"But everyone is doing it!" came your plaintive cry.

"Well" they answered with a wise, knowing look in their eyes, "If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?"

There was never an acceptable answer to that one. After all, NOBODY in their right minds jumps off a bridge, right? Well, not exactly.

Today near Fayetteville, WV, scores of thousands of people will gather to watch hundreds of otherwise competent human beings jump off the highest single span bridge in the world, just for the rush. The BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) jumpers will dive from the surface of the span (which is off limits to pedestrians on the other 364 days of the year) into the beautiful New River Gorge.

Bridge Day is a big celebration in central West Virginia, bringing as many as 60,000 people to Fayette County. It began as a celebration of the 1977 completion of the span and has grown in scope each of the 32 years since it's inception. Rappelling is also allowed on Bridge Day, but the BASE jumping is the big draw. Three jumpers have lost their lives in the 876 foot fall to the New River on the floor of the gorge through the history of the event.

Even though there is not the slightest chance that I will ever (voluntarily at least) jump off the New River Gorge Bridge, I do share one thing in common with the jumpers.

It's called faith.

These folks put all their faith and trust into the parachutes and auxiliary chutes strapped to their bodies. The jumpers literally trust their lives to them. The parachutes are designed to guide the jumpers safely to a relatively soft landing, and thus far have only failed thrice.

I have trusted my life, indeed my eternal destiny to one whom I know to be able to deliver me safely home. Forty years ago (eight years before the completion of the big bridge) I took a leap of faith, trusting in the one who has NEVER failed. He has never lost a soul, and He never will.

Burdened down by the weight of the guilt of all my sin, I turned to Jesus. The message of Grace and Forgiveness to me was tremendously strong that night. Was it "irresistible",? Well, I honestly don't know, but somehow that night I KNEW I needed Christ. I knew that there was no hope for me apart from His saving power. I knew I had to have that relationship to which He was calling, and I came to Him. Life has never been the same.

The BASE jumpers talk of the rush of those few seconds that they are free falling, and the joy of seeing the chute unfurl above them. The BASE jumpers must have that small twinge of doubt as to whether or not the chute will open in time. While it may be exciting for a short time, I'm sure it can't compare with the rush I have in knowing that all along the way, He has promised that He will "never, no never, not ever, forsake me or leave me alone."

THAT is faith. That is assurance. For the long drop, I am never out of His grip of Grace!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Comings and Goings in NOLA

I arrived here in New Orleans on Friday evening. The main purpose of the trip was to attend the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees semi annual meeting. However, since four precious members of my family live here I try to come a couple of days early, or stay a few days after the meetings to visit with them.

It's been a nice visit.

I had the funeral service last Friday morning for Beverly White, a dear member of Westmoreland Baptist Church (whose husband's funeral I had done only 86 days earlier). My flight was scheduled to leave at 1:00 so I didn't get to attend the dinner for the family that had been prepared by the ladies of our church. I appreciate Darrell Clark taking care of the committal at the cemetery, and for the wonderful outpouring of love from our church.

Saturday was a great day with Jay. He was scheduled to do the prayer at the opening pre season game of the New Orleans Hornets. That's right! An NBA game that opens with prayer! How about that? Anyhow we got the VIP treatment, food in the hospitality room, and sweet seats in the private sky boxes. My first NBA game - and although I never watch the NBA until playoff time - I really had a great experience.

Then it was off across the parking lot to see the Herd win a solid victory against the Green Wave of Tulane in the huge Louisiana Superdome. That's TWO conference road wins in a row for Marshall! It would be wonderful if the magic continues this Saturday at Morgantown. (I can dream can't I?)

I preached Sunday morning at First Baptist Church of Westwego. Great crowd, sweet Spirit, good music! God has richly blessed Jay and his ministry in this most secular of cities.

Yesterday I had opportunity to show four young folks from back home around the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Leeah Weber and Garrett Duff are seeking God's leading as they plan to further their Christian Educations. NOBTS is a possibility for them. Had opportunity to set up meetings for Leeah with Dr. Darryl Ferrington of the Music Department, and with Dr. Allen Jackson of Collegiate Ministries for Garrett. Leeah and Garrett sat in on one of Dr. Jackson's classes yesterday afternoon. They will probably head home after Chapel service today.

Joey, on the other hand, is already an On Line student here at NOBTS, but he has never been on campus here. He and his friend Jordan (from Marshall) drove in yesterday afternoon. I spent some time with them and hooked them up with Student Enlistment office for a campus tour. They will be sitting in on one of Dr. Paige Brooks' classes this afternoon. Their itinerary is not as time cramped as the one for Leeah and Garrett, so they will be able to stay in New Orleans a couple of extra nights. They'll be staying at Jay's Church in Westwego. I am so happy that these young folks are considering NOBTS for their theological education.

I have two days of Trustee meetings with Dr. Kelley and the administration team of the Seminary, today and Wednesday. These are important and informative meetings. Our newly elected Trustees will be with us in this weeks meetings. Please pray for us for any decisions that we may be called upon to make. May God bless our fellowship and our focus on the Mission of this Seminary.

One thing I will miss today is the maiden voyage of the USS New York as it passes through New Orleans on it's journey to the Gulf of Mexico, on it's way to New York City. The New York was built in the nearby Avondale Ship Yards and it is constructed with 29 tons of steel taken from the ruins of the fallen twin towers of the World Trade Center in NYC. Officials are welcoming the public to line the levees, in memory of those killed in the terrorists attacks of 9-11, as the USS New York passes by. I'll be in Trustee meetings at the time, but sure wish I had opportunity to be on the levee when she sails by today.

My flight is scheduled to leave Louis Armstrong International Airport at 7:30 Thursday morning. President Obama is scheduled to land there on Air Force One about the same time. He had only scheduled another campaign style Town Hall Meeting here in town for his first post election visit, but local officials demanded that his visit have a little more substance. So, they have scheduled a visit for the President at a school in the Katrina ravaged Lower 9th Ward. It's always a big deal when the President comes to your town - any President. Obama is both loved and deplored by folks here in NOLA. I am personally appalled by many of his policies, but I respect the office, and my responsibility is to pray for those in authority over us.

One of my prayers is that his arrival will not delay my flight on Thursday morning. I have a real tight connecting time in Charlotte!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Thoughts From the Bayou

The sun is coming up here in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Folks are stirring in the West Bank towns that line the Mississippi River across from the Big Easy. Soon the school buses will be running their routes and the West Bank Expressway will be a flurry of activity as the heavy commuter traffic pours across the Harvey Canal bridge and makes its way to the bottleneck of the toll booths at the entrance to the huge "Crescent City Connection" bridge.

The family is beginning the Monday morning ritual. Michelle is up and dressed and coordinating the movements. She is somewhat like the Energizer Bunny, and rarely winds down. Quint is walking around in a sleepy haze, getting ready for another week of school at the Marrero Academy. Jay has a Ph.D seminar all day on the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary campus and he's rushing through the morning activities, trying to get ahead of the traffic. Meanwhile, little Canon is still snoozing in Momma and Daddy's bed. He's there for two reasons. First, he likes it in there, and secondly because I've had his bed for the last three nights.

It was seven years ago this month that three guys from South Shore, Kentucky and I helped Jay move his household goods and furniture to this part of the world. I chuckled when one of his new church members mentioned that Westwego was located "on a ridge". While it had no earthly resemblance to any ridges I had ever seen in West Virginia or eastern Kentucky, it is, in fact, on a strip of land which is eight feet above sea level , and located between Bayou Signette and the Mississippi River. It is an old fishing and shrimping community, but Westwego's main growth came with the railroad which opened up transportation across the Atchafalaya Basin and to points westward. In fact, they tell me that the town actually got it's current name from the railroad conductors cry of "West we go!" as the trains were departing the station.

Seeing our older son take his wife and our two year old grandson nearly a thousand miles away, was terribly difficult for Linda and I. After all, his younger brother had just returned from four years in the Marine Corps and we felt so blessed to have both boys and their families there in our home town. We had the luxury of having two little grandsons to spoil, one a two year old and the other a toddler. But that wouldn't last long. Jay was called to pastor the First Baptist Church of Westwego and he enrolled in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to further his theological education. Seeing that part of our family depart for the Delta was really hard to accept.

The first three years were the toughest for us (and probably for them as well). Jay completed his undergrad work at Leavell College and enrolled in the M.Div. program with a specialty in Biblical languages. The church he served was an older congregation that had been through the usual ups and downs of a 71 year old Baptist Church, including a split several years ago. There were some challenges, but Jay was up for the task. The church had previously used seminary students as pastor, so he fit in fine. The parsonage was not in the best shape, and while Jay was very busy with school and ministry, Michelle had to deal with the domestic engineering issues, and the old house presented plenty of those.

Then, everything changed with the arrival of Hurricane Katrina.

That great disaster affected everyone in metro New Orleans and all who lived along the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast. Jay's studies ceased for the time being as he became engulfed with the work of being a "Disaster Pastor". He was instrumental in working with the Georgia SBC Disaster Relief Teams that set up feeding units in Westwego. He worked to bring help to the crews who were tasked with the restoration of the Seminary campus, by helping provide a shower trailer, and having SBC prepared meals brought to campus by the Red Cross ERV's. His church building was damaged, and every member was affected in some way. Many of the older folks moved away, and younger families faced loss of homes and jobs. The old parsonage was miraculously spared and, although in poor repair, allowed Jay and his family a safe haven to live in while ministering to others who were in turmoil.

Now, four years later, thanks to the help of many mission groups from all over the country, FBC Westwego has been totally remodeled. The old fellowship hall has been gutted and refurbished as the church's administrative offices. The church has purchased other adjacent properties which include a building that will serve as a youth building, and a newer, although smaller, house for a parsonage. The biggest change, however, is the actual makeup of the congregation. It is younger, more vibrant, and less fettered by the extra biblical traditions that often hinder church growth.

When I leave Jay's house for the seminary guest house today, and head home again early Thursday morning, it won't be nearly as tough as it use to be. That's because I know they are exactly where God wants them to be right now. There is a strange, inexplicable peace that comes with that knowledge. How could we possibly question a merciful sovereign God?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Are You Ever Homesick?

In his delightful little book, "Traveling Light", Max Lucado writes,

"Would you treat this world like it is your home? It isn't. The greatest calamity is not to feel far from home when you are, but to feel right at home when you are not. Don't quench, but rather, stir this longing for heaven."
I like that!

Too often we feel at home here. God's people should never fall into that trap, but sadly, many of us have. It's so easy to do so. This is all we really know. This is where we were raised. This is where we stay. This is where our jobs are. This is where our family is. It is a beautiful world, and all that we need in the physical realm is here for us. But those of us who are Christ followers need to remember that this world is not our forever home. Somewhere deep inside we know this truth, but it is so easy to lose sight of it as we go about our daily lives.

Engrossed in the here and now, we tend to forget about forever.

When my mind goes back to my childhood, I can remember the congregations of little country churches raising their voices in unison, singing:

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world any more."
The truth of the matter is we ARE just passing through. This is our temporary home. Our forever home is just out there - unseen for now, but very real nonetheless. As Christians, you and I are somewhat like Abraham here in the 21st century. We must confess that we are pilgrims and strangers here, looking for that final home, that promised home, that forever home. Paul, the Apostle wrote that our citizenship is in Heaven. Somewhere deep inside, we know it, but the business of living often blinds us to the beautiful truth of what the future holds for God's children.

My deed for that forever home was recorded on March 15, 1969. It's been over 40 years now, and I'll have to confess that there have been times I have lost sight of the fact. I've never doubted it, you understand, but at times I have lost that perspective. I sometimes need to be reminded of the fact. Are you like that too?

The transitory nature of this life, came sharply back into focus for me nearly five years ago. One word did the trick. "Cancer". Several adjectives followed that diagnosis. Words like "stage 4", "aggressive", "metastasized", and "incurable" quickly reminded me of the fact that I had certainly known all along, but had just laid aside because of the busy nature of my life. This world is not my home.

I thought about Heaven a lot in those days. I searched out every reference I could find in the scriptures. I read Randy Alcorn's book on the subject. I talked a lot about it with a couple of dear friends who also had terminal illnesses. I went through several surgeries and two different six month courses of chemotherapy. God worked a miracle in my life, and the disease, which was supposed to take me out in 19-22 months didn't! Life went on, ministry work continued, and somewhere along the line, I began to feel at home in this world again. It is possible to be so busy in the Lord's work that we can lose sight of the fact that this is NOT home.

I really do want to go to Heaven. I'm homesick for that place which I have never seen, but one in which I am destined to reside. The homesickness is not because of the beauty of the place (although I know it is breathtaking in grandeur). It's not due to the fact that I have loved ones there (and I do have many friends who are there). The homesick feeling is because my Savior is there and He has hardwired me to know that my home is with Him. Life is good here, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life", but my eternal home is still to come, "And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord, forever."

Prayer: "Dear Lord, please help me to not feel so much at home here when I am really not home yet. Keep me focused on you. Never let me get so busy that I lose sight of my forever home".

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cyber Frustration

I am such a Bozo when it comes to technical stuff.

It’s not that I am completely ignorant, in fact I have learned quite a bit on my computer by trial and error over the past few years, but I am still so woefully inadequate it is embarrassing (and frustrating). At this writing I am sitting in Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, awaiting my flight to New Orleans, which is due to board in about an hour.

Thought I would be able to use this time to pick up some news, on the computer and maybe post to my blog. Found a seat near a receptacle (which is a minor miracle in itself) and plugged in the old laptop and logged on. The Charlotte airport has a free wireless network which I have used many times before. It shows an excellent signal and I quickly connected to it. However when I try to bring up a website – ANY website – I get a message that the computer cannot display that page.


Heck if I know. I hit the button that said “Diagnose this Problem” and it gave me some gobbledygook about installing a cable. I hit some button about installing a new IP something or other, and after several minutes of waiting, got a notice that I must have done the wrong thing (in so many words). I talked to Linda on the cell phone and she told me to log off and then back on. Did that three times – same result – nada!

So, here I sit, typing away like crazy in Microsoft Word, looking for an opportunity to post this confession of my inadequateness when I can finally log onto my blog site.

It’s been a long day already and it is only 4:00 PM. Still nearly an hour away from boarding, and another two hours from seeing my family in the Big Easy. The funeral this morning was a nice service, but the rushing to get back to church, change clothes, and get to the airport was taxing. I slept off and on through the hour and ten minute flight, listening to my ipod and (from the looks from nearby passengers) probably snoring. Only four hours sleep last night explains that. Hope to finish my nap on the New Orleans flight.

Perhaps I can post this when I get to Jay’s house later tonight – although I really don’t know who might possibly be interested in reading this drivel.

I did pass a guy in the main concourse (heading in the opposite direction) wearing a Marshall shirt. (Go Herd!) Also there is an Ann Coulter looking young lady here at the gate for the New Orleans flight, who was also on the flight from Huntington. Haven’t spoken to her yet – primarily because I really don’t have anything to say (she’s probably already heard the “You sure do look like Ann Coulter” comments a thousand times before) and secondly because she hasn’t been off the cell phone since we arrived from Huntington.

Time to get on the plane. If you are reading this, that means I was able to log on at Jay’s house. If not, well …

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

Here is a poem that was written by little Cali Blake. Jeff and Kerry shared it with me last night. I have got to pass it along to you. I am reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 11:25 “At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” and Matthew 21:16 “…and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?"

Cali is only in elementary school. She is one of our AWANA kids at Westmoreland Baptist Church. She was saved and baptized last year. She is "just a young girl" but I think her theology is pretty solid. What do you think?

Love, Love
the one up above

Give, Give
to the ones who need to live

Obey, Obey
the words the parents say

Sing, Sing
to the one we call our King

Control, Control
the thing called our soul

Forgive, Forgive
those are the things we need to do to live!

Cali Blake

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wait Till Next Year!

The Cincinnati Reds finished the 2009 season on Sunday, 13 games behind the Central Division leading St. Louis Cardinals. That's 9 losing seasons in a row for the storied franchise. What a far cry from the Big Red Machine of the 70's.

I became a Reds fan as a nine year old in 1960. The late Fred Hutchinson's magical 1961 team who lost 4-1 to the Yankees in the October Classic set the stage for a young boy's expectations. The 70's were a special time for Reds fans everywhere. The 1975 World Series between the Reds and the Boston Red Sox was arguably the greatest series ever. Then in 1976 the Big Red Machine reached their zenith by winning the National League pennant and sweeping the mighty New York Yankees in four games. I was busy raising a family and building an insurance business in the 80's and 90's, and even though the Redlegs won the 1990 World Series on my 40th birthday, it just wasn't the same as before.

For some reason, I began to keep up with the Reds this season. Not like I did as a kid - listening to every inning of every game on the radio. There's just no time for that. However, with the Fox Sports Ohio network carrying most of the Reds games, I was able to pick up a few innings here and a few innings there, and I began to catch the bug again. Young players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips set the tone with new hopes for the future.

There was no "June Swoon" this year, and excitement was building as I took the grandsons and another friend and his son to a game with the Cardinals on July 3rd. The Reds were trailing the Cards by only 1/2 game and I was really beginning to get that old time feeling again. But that very night seemed to set the stage for the disastrous remainder of the season.

Reds were on top in the 8th inning when one swing of big Albert Pujols' bat plated four runs, and started the Reds on a down hill slide through the entire months of July and August. To be honest, injuries played a big part in the Reds demise this season. But hope springs eternal. There are some fine young players coming back next season. If Aaron Harang can get back on track, if Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey can pitch next season as effectively as they have the latter part of this season, who knows?

Maybe next year!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

Another piece of my childhood bit the dust yesterday, when Scarberry and Son Excavation and Demolition Company tore down the old Jarrell House next door to Mom and Dad's home.

The little house at 290 Gallaher Street dated far back beyond my memory.

It was the lifelong home of Hurston and Toka Jarrell. I called them Mamaw and Papaw Jarrell, although they were no relation to us at all. Mom and Dad had me call them that out of respect. They had no grandchildren of their own. Their two daughters had died as children during the great Spanish Influenza pandemic that killed over 60 million people between 1918 and 1920. They were a lonely old couple who spent each evening sitting on the sun porch of their home, lights out, watching the comings and goings of the neighborhood, especially the busy young preacher's family who lived in their rental house next door at 292.

Mr. Jarrell was retired from the C&O railroad. He was a kind old gentleman, who never learned to drive a car. He mowed his grass with an old fashioned manual push mower, and worked in his garden religiously. As I remember him, he had a wry sense of humor, and would tip his hat and say "Hello Ma'am" to the mannequins when Dad would take him to the local Sears Roebuck store. His wife, on the other hand, was the old lady in the neighborhood who would shoo dogs and kids out of her yard by knocking loudly on her sun porch windows. An errant ball, accidentally thrown over the fence into the Jarrell's yard became her property until she could point out our carelessness to Dad when he would arrive home from work.

Dad had decided to leave the coal mines of Logan County, WV, when he was passed over for a company house. So he took a job in Huntington with the International Nickel Company where his older brother had previously found employment. At that time, Mom's father, Jerry Stidham, was serving in the House of Delegates with Mike Casey of Cabell County. The Caseys had become good friends of my grandparents and they agreed to try to help Mom and Dad find a house in Huntington. After asking around, they learned that the Jarrells had a house for rent on Gallaher Street, about a block from the Casey's home on Allen Avenue. The vacant house had belonged to Mrs. Jarrell's late sister. It was a small four room house with a detached "wash house" in which the bathroom was also located.

In the fall of 1952, Caudle and Patsy Adkins and their talkative little two year old, rented the cottage from the Jarrells for $25.00 per month. The Jarrells were kind enough to build a bathroom on to the house shortly after our family moved in. I learned later in life that Mrs. Jarrell (whom I had thought to be the grouchiest old lady in the world) felt sorry for Mom and the little boy (me) to have to go out to the wash house to use the bathroom or take a bath. Eventually the rent was increased to $35.00 per month, and finally around 1960 the Jarrells agreed to sell the house at 292 to Mom and Dad. After 57 years, several additions and remodeling projects, the house is still the home that Mom and Dad live in today.

Mrs. Jarrell passed away first. Although their nephew, Police Captain Clifford Jarrell, looked in on the old gentlemen on a regular basis, Dad and Mom saw to his daily well being. Mom would always fix an extra plate at dinner time, and one of my duties was to deliver the evening meal to Mr. Jarrell. Every evening, I would find him in the "sitting room" listening to a news broadcast on the large old fashioned table top radio. They never owned a television set. When he passed away, it sort of signaled the end of an era on Gallaher Street where he was one of the last of the remaining old timers.

Ownership of the Jarrell's house at 290 Gallaher Street went to their nephew after Mr. Jarrell's passing. It was rented out to a few different tenants, and eventually, when the Police Captain passed away, his widow had no desire to remain in the rental business. Dad and Gene Black (the neighbor on the lower side of the Jarrell home) made an offer to purchase the property which was accepted. Dad and Gene decided to rent out the house until it was paid for, and then have it demolished, and subdivide the 40 foot wide property between them.

That plan finally got to the demolition stage yesterday.

I watched with some sadness as the huge backhoe made short work of reducing the neighborhood landmark to a pile of splinters. By today, everything but the front steps, a portion of the foundation, and some busted up concrete are all that remain between Gene's house and our old home place.

My mind wandered back to the summer days of my childhood. Old friends and forgotten back yard ball games came back to memory. Mom and Dad were young and busy. My two brothers came along at five year intervals and our adventures together with other neighborhood kids increased as we all grew older.

As I snapped back to 2009 I looked at my parents. Mom is slipping deeper and deeper into the abyss of Alzheimers. Memory is a luxury she no longer possesses. Dad, at 82, slowly moving about the house, cannot go out now without his walker or cane. My brothers and our families are scattered about in Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, and Louisiana, and now I am only 12 months shy of my own 60th birthday.

As I watched the old house next door come down, it was just another reminder of the transitory nature of life, and the fact that the circle of life continues. Solomon sounded a little on the depressed side when he wrote these words in Ecclesiastes, chapter one:

"A generation goes and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.

5 The sun rises and the sun sets;
panting, it returns to its place where it rises.
6 Gusting to the south,
turning to the north,
turning, turning, goes the wind,
and the wind returns in its cycles.

7 All the streams flow to the sea,
yet the sea is never full. The streams are flowing to the place, and they flow there again.

8 All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Can one say about anything,"Look, this is new"? It has already existed in the ages before us.

11 There is no memory of those who came before; and of those who will come after there will also be no memory among those who follow them ." (HCSB)

In a world where generations come and go, and eventually no evidence of their existence remains, I am thankful that this world is not my final home. If all that there is, is here and now, our lives would indeed be sad. I thank God for the experiences of my life. I cherish my loved ones and the memories of nearly six decades, but I take comfort in knowing that this world is just a "getting' ready place. It's a place to prepare for the wonderful existence to come in the very presence of my Redeemer.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

An Abomination

I never met my Great Grandmother Pack. She was gone long before I was born in 1950. However, I have heard numerous stories about her from my Dad and a number of his relatives. She was an old time, straight laced country mother from rural Wayne County, WV, and a rare Republican in a sea of Democrats. Dad said she wore long dresses with several petticoats underneath. One of the petticoats was fashioned from the heavy striped material which was used to make old fashioned bed pillows. There was a pocket sewn into the garment, and it was there that she kept her pipe and tobacco. She had a hardscrabble existence but raised a large family with a healthy dose of love. Her tobacco habit notwithstanding, she took her religion, like some of her kinfolk took their liquor – hard and straight!

A particular story about Grandma Pack that I always loved involved her first trip to a local amusement park. This would have been sometime in the mid 30's, when the park was a little less "family friendly" than it is today. At that time it had a swimming pool and also sold beer to its patrons. To Grandma Pack, who was a devout member of the Old Regular Baptist Church, the public spectacle of alcohol swigging, scantily clad (by 1935 standards) sun bathers was absolutely appalling. After returning home to the Cove Gap area, someone asked her, "Grandma, how did you like Camden Park?"

"Lord, child!" she replied, "All my life I have heard and read in the Bible about abominations, but that was the first time I had ever seen one with my own eyes!"

One can only imagine how Grandma Pack would react to the public abominations that dominate our culture these days. There are plenty abominations to go around, but none more blatant and disgusting than the reaction of much of the Hollywood crowd to the recent arrest of film director Roman Polanski at a film festival in Switzerland.

Many will remember the scandal back in 1977 when Polanski, the widower of actress Sharon Tate (who had been murdered by the Charles Manson "family") was arrested on charges of having sex with a thirteen year old girl. The 47 year old director of "Rosemary's Baby" admitted to giving the juvenile booze and drugs before having his way with her. He was sent to jail for about six weeks for mental evaluation. When he was released on bond, fearing more and harder jail time, he boarded a plane for France. He has lived in Europe as a fugitive from justice for the past 32 years for fear of the prison time that awaited him here.

Polanski had legal avenues he could have pursued at the time. He could have obtained a "dream team" of attorneys (he could certainly afford it). He could have changed his plea and taken his chances with a jury. If convicted, he could have appealed the decision. He could have let the justice system run its course and eventually taken responsibility for his reckless behavior. But instead, he chose to run and to live the life of a fugitive.

The most recent chapter in the lurid saga came when he was arrested last week in Switzerland. He had come there to a film festival, where he was scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award from his peers. When he arrived in Zurich, authorities placed him under arrest and extradition proceedings were begun to bring Polanski back to America for trial. Then came the outrage – at least from the Hollywood crowd.

First we were treated to Debra Winger, speaking for many of the festival attendees. Reading from a prepared statement, the actress decried the "draconian actions" of those who arrested Polanski. A number of leading members of the film making community condemned the U.S. for daring to have Polanski arrested. After all, they argued, it's been 32 years, and Polanski has continued to produce critically acclaimed films while living in exile. Several European leaders joined the chorus, glad to have opportunity to bash the United States. Even that acclaimed constitutional expert, Whoopi Goldberg, weighed in on "The View" when she reasoned that "It wasn't really RAPE, rape" (implying that Polanski's transaction with the 13 year old victim was consensual). When asked by another panel member if she would want her 13 year old daughter to have sex with a 47 year old man, Goldberg hesitated before answering, "Well, I'd have to give it some thought".

Good grief!

What are these people thinking?

This man molested a 13 year old child. By his own admission he plied her with champagne and drugs and took her to Jack Nicholson's house, promising her a photo op with the big star. This girl was not capable of consent! No parent in his or her right mind would even consider allowing their child to be abused in such a manner. The most shocking part of this whole story is that a certain segment of our society sees no apparent problem here. How low have we fallen in our culture? Even among prisoners in our penal system, child molesters are the most despised inmates in the population. Yet many of the "enlightened" artists of the entertainment industry feel that Polanski has been somehow wronged.

He presently remains incarcerated in Switzerland, fighting extradition to the United States.

Forgiveness and mercy are in the Sovereign hands of Almighty God. Justice and the rule of law are the duties of human government. As unfair as it may seem to the likes of Debra Winger, Harrison Ford, and many other "celebrities", it is time for Mr. Polanski to face the music. As a lad, when I may have been caught up in some type of miscreant behavior, my Dad would always remind me (as my punishment was being delivered), "Son, you can't do wrong and get by".

Polanski's crimes were not "alleged". He admitted to his misdeeds. Then he committed another crime by fleeing from justice. The very notion that the passing of 32 years and the production of critically acclaimed motion pictures should somehow negate the heinous nature of Polanski's crimes is preposterous. That, my friends, along with Polanski's detestable behavior, IS an abomination.

Friday, October 2, 2009

What’s It To You?

We find this little incident in some of the final verses of the Gospel of John:

Chapter 21 seems to be somewhat of an epilog – tying up a few loose ends. John had just finished what we know as the 20th chapter of his Gospel with these closing words:

"And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."

This is the key verse of John's Gospel. It plainly sets out the purpose of his writing. But there are still some unanswered questions regarding events after the resurrection of Christ. John doesn't give us a terrible lot of details, but he does use this little epilog to answer some questions about Jesus, and about John's former fishing partner – Simon Peter.

You will remember that Peter had been the one who had thrice denied even knowing Christ on the night of his arrest. One can only imagine the grief and self loathing that Peter felt in knowing how he had failed his master. This denial came even after Peter's boasting that he would never deny Him, and saying that he would go with Jesus into prison – or even death if need be.

It all started so promisingly. He and the others had left everything to follow Jesus. Now nothing was as it had been during the three and one half years Peter had followed the Master. John tells us that Jesus had shown Himself to the 11 on two occasions. They knew He was alive, but there were so many unanswered questions! Peter voiced what I believe to be his frustration and uncertainty when he announced to the other disciples, "I am going fishing." (vs. 3) This is what Peter had been doing for a living when Jesus had called him to follow Him. Peter left his nets and his boat, and had followed Christ, under the promise of becoming a "fisher of men". Now perhaps, the former fisherman had decided to go back to the familiarity and comfort zone of the Sea of Galilee, to renew his former profession. The other disciples, spoke up and said, "We're going with you". So they spent the night casting the nets into the sea.

It was in this setting when the risen Christ appeared on the shore early in the morning and called out to them. "Have you caught anything?" Their answer was in the negative. "No, we have fished all night and have taken nothing." Jesus instructed them to cast their nets on the starboard side of the boat. They did so, and the nets were suddenly filled with 153 wiggling, struggling fish. John said to Peter, "It is the Lord", and Peter cast himself into the sea, swimming furiously for the risen Master on the shore.

Jesus had breakfast cooking on the fire and invited Peter and the others to join him, and to bring some of their own catch to add to the feast. Jesus then began his famous dialog with Peter, about which we have heard so much. Some will say that Peter had denied Christ three times, and as a result, Jesus instructed Peter thrice to "Feed His sheep." We are also aware of the subtlety of the two different Greek words that Jesus used when he asked Peter three times, "Do you love me more than these?"

All that aside, I want you to note that Jesus specifically instructed the impetuous disciple that He had a task for Peter to accomplish. It was Jesus' personal commission to Peter to be a shepherd to the sheep that would be entrusted to him. Yes, the one who had denied Christ just a few days earlier, was receiving personal instructions regarding the duties the Master would require of him. Furthermore, Jesus even revealed something to Peter about the things he would suffer and how he would eventually be martyred for his faith in Christ.

Like so many of us are prone to do, Peter looked around and saw his former fishing partner, John, the guy who had outrun him to the empty tomb on that Resurrection Sunday. Here is how John describes it:

"Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following …"But Lord, what about this man?"
Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

(John 21:21-22)

Never mind that Jesus had forgiven Peter of his great sin, and given him a specific work to do for the Kingdom. Forget the fact that Jesus came to where Peter worked to feed him and personally send him into his Apostolic career. No matter that Jesus even chose to give him a little glimpse into his future. What was Peter's reaction?

"What about this guy? What's going to happen to him?"

Isn't that so much like us?

God has a work for each of us. He calls and gifts us each according to His Sovereign Will. He equips us for our work in His Kingdom and commissions us to be on our way and about His business. And what do we do? We start looking around at others.

"What about this guy? What will this woman do? What's going to happen to them? How come you have assigned this task to me, and you exempt this person from that type of situation? Where is the fairness? Who will get the most credit? Which job is really more important?"

The questions can go on and on…

But note the answer of Jesus:

"What's it to you? You follow me!"


It is human nature to try to compare our situation to that of others. Aren't we sometimes like the old Apostle? Why do we have to suffer when someone else may not? Why do we feel obliged to sacrifice when we don't see that virtue in another brother or sister? Why do they get away with not doing their job like I think they should? Why does someone else seem to get off without doing what I have to do?

Again Jesus' voice rings out, "What is that to you? I have saved you. I have looked beyond your faults and shortcomings and graciously brought you into relationship with my Father. I have gifted you and assigned you your divine marching orders. Get your eyes off others and follow me!"

Are you obsessed with the performance of others? Are you losing your focus?

What's it to you?

Take care of your own tasks for the Glory of God, and leave the rest to Him.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Tater Family

I've heard Dad use the illustration scores of times over the years as he employed it in numerous revival services around the tri - state area of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. He would warn the churches about a prominent family which has members in every church. This family could be a dangerous lot, and unchecked, they can do terrible damage to the church's attempt to accomplish Christ's mission. The "family" in question is the "Tater Family".

Now, rest assured that this is not a literal family in the church, but an illustration Dad would use, drawing on the many personality types he had seen in his lifetime as a pastor and evangelist. The story went something like this:

Consider the "Tater Family". Members of this family can be found in every church, and some of them can be very dangerous. Some churches have a few of these family members, and some unfortunate congregations include the whole clan!

The head of the family is "Uncle Dick Tater". He is the guy who has the tremendous need to be in charge. Never mind that the Bible tells us that "Christ is the head of the church". Uncle Dick Tater figures that since Jesus is not physically present at the moment, that Christ obviously needs his help to run things until the Master returns. Dick Tater can be found in a number of positions in the church family. Sometimes in some congregations he might be a Deacon, or a Song Leader, or a Committee Chairman, or even the Pastor! He sees himself as indispensable to the operation of the church, and his opinion is the only one that matters. When hard pressed, he will dig his heels in and fight to have it his way. He can appear kind and benevolent at times, but Uncle Dick Tater can be a dangerous guy.

His wife is "Aunt Hesi Tater". She knows that Dick Tater is out of line, but she hesitates to confront him. "It's useless to try to do anything about Dick" she'll sigh. "Maybe if we let him have his way on this particular issue, he'll settle down and quit trying to run everything". Nice thought, but it's just not going to happen. She knows what ought to be done, but hesitates to "upset the apple cart".

Some of the other members of the family are just as interesting. Consider the following:

There is "Cousin Emma Tater". Now Emma Tater is not nearly as abrasive as Uncle Dick, but she can be an aggravation as well. You see, Emma is never happy just to be herself. She has much to offer the church, but rather than use her own God given gifts, talents, and abilities, to play her part in the church, she chooses to imitate others whom she admires. The church is a body, very similar to the human body. Its made up of many members, each of which play their important role in the work of the church. God gives each of us a place to bloom where we are planted. He distributes roles and gifts as He sees fit, for the benefit of the entire body to operate properly. That's why the Bible says (paraphrased) "If the whole body were the eye, how would we hear?" Emma Tater just needs to be herself - not someone else.

Another interesting character in the gene pool is "Cousin Spec Tater". You'll never find old Spec trying to take the role of Uncle Dick Tater. He might complain from time to time about Uncle Dick, but Spec is not interested in taking his job. In fact, Spec is not interested in any job. He doesn't want to serve, he doesn't want to lead, and he often doesn't want to follow. He is content to just show up from time to time and check out what's going on. Apparently he's never read that passage of scripture regarding the body and each member taking his role. He'll tell you very quickly, "If I don't get involved, I won't get hurt!" Kinda sad, huh?

One of the most onerous members of the Tater Family is "Brother Agi Tater". He's as dangerous as Uncle Dick, but in a more subtle and insidious way. Agi is one of the more active members of the church, but he's rarely up front or visible. His work is mostly behind the scenes. He will blend into the crowd, and rarely desires the spotlight, but rest assured he's busy at his job as he sees it. And he sees it as the need to stir up trouble. He may do it through gossip and character assassination. He may do it by creating cliques, and then inciting one group against the other. He enjoys turmoil and seems to get his greatest joy in seeing friendships destroyed, relationships strained, and churches split. All of us have heard of the "Seven Deadly Sins". That is a moniker that has been given to a passage in the Book of Proverbs which lists seven things that the Lord hates. The last characteristic on the list is "He that sows discord among the brethren". Agi Tater is on awfully dangerous turf!

Then there is "Sister Common Tater". Like Spec Tater, Common Tater, isn't especially interested in either leading or following. Sister Common Tater is content with sharing her comments and opinions on just about everything that goes on in the church. She's not likely to hold an office, teach Sunday School, or be part of any ministry in the church, but she has her opinion of those who do, and she'll share that opinion with anyone within earshot. She'll comment on the Pastor, his sermon, and his family. She'll comment on the music. She'll comment on the custodian and his work. She'll comment on the decibel level of the PA system. She'll comment on the temperature in the sanctuary. She'll comment on what others are wearing. She'll comment on those who are working for the Lord. She'll comment on those who aren't. She'll comment on who was there Sunday morning, and who wasn't. I think you get the idea.

Every Pastor knows that the Tater Family can be a rough group. But there is one other member of the family who is an absolute joy to have around. That is "Sister Sweet Tater". What a wonderful church member she is! Unlike the rest of the Tater Family, she has the sweetest disposition anyone could ever want. You see, Sweet Tater loves Jesus - and it shows! She knows what Grace is about. She has her opinions, but she realizes that the Church is not about her, it's about Him! She has never gotten over being a recipient of God's Grace, and her complete desire is to be a conduit of that Grace to others. She is focused on the Mission of the Church. She will accept positions she is given in the church, and work quietly and diligently to do her part in fulfilling the Great Commission. Sweet Tater gives liberally of her time, talent, and treasures to the work of the Lord. She believes in missions, and she practices it in her live. Where does she get that sweet disposition? Obviously through a personal relationship with Christ. She is a woman of prayer and her relationship with the Father shows in every aspect of her life. Is she "perfect"? No. Far from it, but she walks after the Spirit, and His fruit is evident in her life.

The Tater Family will probably be in church this Sunday. They usually are. My prayer is that more of our members will be like "Sweet Tater" than any other member of that prominent clan.