Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Have you ever had a breakfast of eggs and bacon? Well, there were a couple of animals involved in providing you with that breakfast. Some hen made a contribution to your meal, but to some hog, somewhere, it involved a commitment! Providing you with those eggs cost the chicken very little, but “bringing home the bacon” cost the hog everything.
Commitment is a concept that is rapidly fading from the scene in our current culture.
You see this truth everywhere. Many people are not as committed to their jobs as folks were in previous generations. Absenteeism and poor quality in goods and services are often evidence of that lack of commitment. Commitment to the institution of marriage is also suspect. Even though the vows are repeated that say “until death do us part” the reality is that more than half of all marriages in 2009 will end in divorce. Coaches tell us that the commitment level of student athletes toward training, practice, and scholastic excellence, is far below the levels of those of the previous generation. Military recruiters also are having an increasingly more difficult time signing up young men and women for our armed services, due to the commitment involved with making such a decision.
Sadly, the decline of commitment also shows up among many professing Christians in their relationship with God and toward His church. Every year in churches all across America, it becomes more and more difficult to find people who are willing to commit to serving the Lord through His church as teachers, deacons, musicians, volunteers, and ministry leaders. This is not because there are not enough qualified folks for the jobs, but because so many church members do not want to make the commitment. The attitude that “someone else will do it, I’m too busy” seems to prevail and this is truly sad.
In my 38 years of ministry, I have come to the conclusion that a lack of commitment to the church is simply a visible symptom of a lack of commitment to our God. Take a moment to think about this. How much time to you spend alone with God in prayer? How much time to you devote to the reading and application of His Word? How serious are you about doing your part to fulfill His Great Commission? How important are missions? Are you teaching your children and grand children the importance of God in your life and in theirs? (Deut. 6)
In the Bible, King David, had sinned against God through an act of selfish disobedience. We read the sad narrative in 2 Samuel 24. When tragedy resulted, David repented of that sin. He sought to purchase a piece of ground where he might erect an altar to worship and offer sacrifice to his Heavenly Father. The owner of the property graciously offered the land to the King at no charge. David’s reply was simple, strong and poignant. “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (vs 24, HCSB)
David understood that serving God was more than what I use to hear Leroy Forlines refer to as “cheap easy believe-ism”. Following Christ involves commitment. If you do not think so, check out the words of Christ in the four Gospels.
He called men to “follow Him”. Many of them left jobs, security, family businesses, and comfort zones, for the joy of following Jesus. He spoke of “denying oneself and taking up a cross”. He cautioned would be followers to “count the cost”. He warned half hearted followers that families, personal preferences, and comfort issues were not negotiable. Quitting along the way is not an acceptable option. He talked of a merchant who bought and sold pearls, and when that merchant found that “one pearl of great price”, he sold everything he had that he might obtain that prize. Jesus spoke of vines and branches, and that we must ABIDE in Him. The branches are not alive unless they abide in the vine.
Paul the Apostle said that all that was once important to him, he counted but dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Paul, a formerly “religious” man, found that religion alone would not be enough. He learned that a relationship is required, and that his desire was to know Jesus, “In the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering”. Many weak believers today want to experience that “pentecostal power”, but have no desire to know the weight of His cross. Dad use to refer to that as “Brylcreme Religion” (a little dab will do you).
Aren’t you thankful that Jesus was willing to commit to you? Aren’t you glad that He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Phil. 2:7-8 (NKJV)
Friday, August 21, 2009
Due to our sinful nature, each of us have been sentenced to eternal separation from a Holy God.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Since nothing exists at Dehue now, the reunion is held in a nearby Head Start Center (and former elementary school) which bears the names of Dehue and another former nearby community. I took Dad to the reunion last Saturday and it was so good to see him interacting with the elderly people who were his neighbors and playmates as a kid. Here are a few random photos of last Saturday's reunion.
The Head Start building that serves as the site of the annual reunion.
Some took time to look through old photo albums and share memories.
Dad (standing with cane) visits with former neighbors just before lunch.
A photo of my Grandfather and Grandmother (Caudle Adkins, Sr. and Victoria Pack Adkins). There were four memorial tables which bore photos of deceased residents. Sadly, the number of memorial photos grows larger each year.
Pictured here, left to right, are Basil Frye, Caudle Adkins Jr., and Earl Hager. Mr. Hager was the long time principal of the old Dehue School. Now 100 years of age, he was the oldest man at the reunion. Mr. Hager had been the educational authority figure to every one of the children who grew up in Dehue. One note of interest to me is that Mr. Hager succeded my maternal grandfather, Jerry Stidham, in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1952, representing Logan County.
The attendance each year has been decreasing, as many of the former residents pass from the scene. Heading back to their various homes after the reunion, still basking in the blessings of the day, many silently wondered about the future. Would they be able to attend next year's reunion? Who will be there next year, and who will simply be a memory in a photo on the memorial table?
Friday, August 14, 2009
It is the uniform of my grandson, which bears the logo of the Boyd County team in the Tri State Youth Football League.
When my boys were in school in the Ashland Public School District, the arch rival was Boyd County. Whether it was basketball, football, or baseball, the object was to defeat the county! Now, one of my own grandsons wears the uniform of the previously hated Lions. Who'd a thunk it?
Our younger son, Benji, and his family live in Cannonsburg. And even though their son, Will, goes to school in Ashland, now that he is playing youth sports, he is playing in the district where he lives - Boyd County...
Benji has taught school in Russell, KY and Ashland over the past four years, and Will has attended both districts. I think Benji and Leigh Anne have decided to keep will in Charles Russell Elementary School in Ashland - even though he lives out in the county. This is where Leigh Anne attended elementary school, and where Will's other grandmother, Linda Clanton, taught for about 30 years. It's a good school and he likes it there. I don't know where he will end up in High School (after all, he's only in the third grade now) but for now, it looks as though he will be playing youth Baseball and Football in his home district.
I have been an Ashland Tomcat fan for three decades. I volunteered in the Ashland schools. I served a four year term on the Ashland Board of Education, and was a director of the Tomcat Booster Club. Even though I am not a native of Ashland, it is my adopted home, and where my boys grew up. I expect that I will be a Tomcat fan for life. That is what makes this photo of Will's helmet and uniform seem so foreign to me.
Unaccustomed as I am to root for any football team wearing Boyd County's red and white colors, I will be there on the sidelines tomorrow morning cheering on the County boys as they travel to Milton, West Virginia for their first game of the 2009 Tri State Youth Football League season. It looks as though William will be lining up at fullback and defensive end for the Red and White. So, as a dutiful and proud grandfather, you know who this Ashland Tomcat fan will be pulling for...
(Gosh, that still sounds strange!) :-)
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
It was Monday night of a revival meeting at the #20 Whitman Community Church in Logan County, WV. The evangelist was my father, Rev. Caudle Adkins, Jr. He had preached his heart out that second night of the revival, and as the choir sang several verses of "Oh, Why Not Tonight?" no one had responded to the traditional altar call. The pastor of the church was obviously concerned about those who were resisting the invitation. Although forty one long years have come and gone since that hot August night, I remember his words as if it were only yesterday.
"Don't put off what you know you should do tonight!" he pleaded with the lost souls who were present in the congregation. "You may not have another opportunity" he continued. "This revival is scheduled to go right on through this week, but you may not be here by week's end. By the time this revival is over, you may already have been called out into eternity. You could be gone. I could be gone."
By Friday night he was.
That Monday evening was the last time I saw my grandfather alive. On Friday afternoon of that same week, his life was snuffed out at the age of 59 by a massive heart attack. His passing was sudden and unexpected. It left a void in the lives of our family members and in his community. Now, over four decades later, I think about what a remarkable man he was. How proud I was of him then - how proud I am of him today - even as I approach the age he was when he died.
Jerry E. Stidham was my maternal grandfather. He crammed a lot of living into his 59 years - from his birth in "bloody" Breathitt County, Kentucky until his death in Logan General Hospital. His formal education was limited to high school, but his entire life was spent in broadening his horizons through reading everything that came into his hands. He had a thirst for knowledge, a gift of tact and diplomacy, and a heart to serve. All of those characteristics served him well throughout his life and varied careers.
Papaw Stidham's father was a coal miner and his uncle was a blacksmith in the mines. I am not certain what brought his father to Logan County, WV from Breathitt County, KY, but later in life, long after Papaw was gone, Mamaw told me she thought there might have been some kind of "incident" in Breathitt, that facilitated the move. That's all that she ever said on the matter.
My grandfather grew up in the coal camps of Logan County. He worked around the mines as a youngster, doing "gofer" work (go for this - go for that) and doing other menial tasks. He told me about a task he was once given as a young teen. The Superintendent told him, "Jerry, run down to Browning's house and let Mrs. Browning know that her husband was killed in a slate fall." I've often wondered what possessed the boss to ask a teenager to handle the delivery of such devastating news. Well, he did as he was told. When the lady opened the door he noted two children playing in the house, and one in her arms. He blurted out the news, and the woman passed out from the shock, falling to the floor with her baby still in her arms. He told me in the final years of his life, that he had learned a valuable lesson in that situation about dealing with people in a compassionate and tactful manner. That lesson served him well later in life, both in his secular work and that of the pastorate.
As soon as he was old enough, he followed his father and uncle into the shafts and tunnels, digging black gold under back breaking conditions. He worked his way up through various jobs with the Island Creek Coal Company around Holden, WV. His penchant for public service took him into several fraternal organizations, and eventually led to his election to the West Virginia House of Delegates where he represented Logan County for three terms. Eventually he went to work for the United Mine Workers of America, rising through various positions until he eventually served as an International Representative and Lobbyist for the Union.
Always a man of high morals, he was highly respected in the community. His years of serving others through his legislative, union, and benevolent work endeared him to his neighbors. His high moral ethics, however, were not tied to any particular relationship with God. Oh, he believed in God all right. He respected the Bible, and the Christ Followers (that is the ones whom he genuinely believed "had it"), but he had little time for organized religion, himself. He "left that to Mary and the kids." The religion he had "in his head" and his talent for writing poetry, led him to publish a new poem every Christmas season and have it printed into a personal Christmas card that he and Mamaw would send to their many friends. In fact, his poetic skills earned him an appointment by Governor Hulett C. Smith in the mid sixties as West Virginia's Poet Laureate.
Papaw's life was forever changed in February of 1961. That was when, under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, he surprised Mamaw by getting up early one Sunday morning and going with her (uninvited) to church. As the choir sang, "When The Roll is Called Up Yonder", to every one's surprise, Jerry Stidham rose to his feet, walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar and gave his life to the Lord. He was later called into ministry and served several churches in Kanawha County and eventually, back in Logan, at the very church where he had received Christ.
As we remember him this week on the 41st anniversary of his "graduation" to Heaven, allow me to share with you a poem he wrote about the day he came to know Jesus.
On my knees at an altar one day
Crying "Lord, Lord show me the way,
Forgive me of sin and my evil ways,
And place me on a life that pays."
"Take me, Lord, and do as you will,
Thy Holy Spirit my soul to fill.
Make me clean, and give me Grace",
(And tears were falling from my face).
And as I prayed my burden did cease.
In its place came such sweet peace;
The tears I shed, just like a boy,
Became at once as tears of joy.
This is where my story begins,
I arose to my feet and faced my friends,
First time in life, to testify.
I'll never be ashamed to cry.
If he were still with us today, he would be 100 years old. However, his memory is frozen in time as a man, still in his prime, who loved his family, his community, his church, and his Lord. I wish my children and grand kids could have known my grandfather. I wish you could have known him. Even today I miss him. He made a great impact on my life as a young man, and his example has helped me try to be the kind of father and grandfather he was.
I miss you Papaw.
See you soon!