Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's That Time Again!

Tomorrow, July 1st, I will be poked, prodded, scanned, and flushed. It is time for my periodic CT and PET Scans at the Ashland-Bellefonte Cancer Center. I will also have my monthly blood work and Medi-Port flushed while there. This month marks five years and seven months since the mass was discovered in my colon.
Adenocarcinoma was the diagnosis. Stage Four. Metastasized to my liver and in a number of lymph nodes. Prognosis was not good. "Incurable but hopefully manageable". My research on the subject (and information that I pulled from my oncologist) did not give me a very rosy picture. Apparently the average survival time for that diagnosis was 18-22 months. In fact, my son's father in law had received the same diagnosis a few years earlier, and he lived 19 months.

At the time of my diagnosis, the Ashland-Bellefonte Cancer Center was running several television commercials on our local cable network. They featured folks who had been patients at the Cancer Center who were now cancer free. I told Christie McKinney (Dr. Jane's nurse at the time) that my goal was to be on one of the commercials. She just looked at me and smiled. No reply. Later I told two of the chemo nurses (Robyn & Vada) the same thing, and I noticed the quick glance they gave one another, and I realized, these folks didn't think I have a chance. And you know what? Naturally speaking, I didn't.

The idea of less than 2 years to live, with who knows what I would have to suffer was a sobering thought. The information I found regarding my particular type of cancer in the fourth stage was scary. Metastatic colon cancer was basically a death sentence. Only 10% of those patients who have it, survive for five years after surgery and treatments. There was a lot of soul searching that went on, and finally, (as I should have always been doing) I began to try to live my life as if every day could be the last.

I began to develop more patience (a virtue in which I had always been sorely deficient). My illness changed the way I looked at my family, my pastoral calling, and my personal relationship with the Father. My senses seemed to be heightened. The sky seemed bluer, the grass greener, my friends more dear, and my family more precious. Inexplicably, I began to sense a peace that surpasses earthly understanding. I had preached and taught about such a peace for over three decades, but it was not until then that I ever truly experienced it!

There was a deep settled stillness in my soul that allowed me the comfort of knowing that I was held tightly in the hands of God. Jeremiah 11:29 became a very precious promise to me, " 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.". Equally precious was Isaiah 41:10 "'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' "

Promises like that, enable one to be at peace with whatever comes.

To be perfectly honest, the next couple of years were pretty tough. Surgery, chemotherapy (two courses of it), a Radio Frequency Ablation procedure, and other procedures consumed my life. But, an amazing thing happened. I didn't die like I was supposed to do. And now, way down the road, those memories just seem surreal.

Remission is sweet! Dr. Jain tells me that I will never be "cancer free", but with all due respect I know that I will be one day. I have the promise of a full and complete healing, in the form of a new body that will NEVER know infirmity! In the mean time, we'll take the precautions that the doctor advises. That is the reason for the monthly blood work. That is why he says the Medi-Port will never be removed (unless it malfunctions and needs to be replaced with another). That is why we still have the annual colonoscopy and the various scans done throughout the year. Precautions are good, but I am thankful that my God is the one who holds my future in His loving hands. With that assurance, there is absolutely nothing to fear!

Several months ago I received an invitation to speak in a program on July 21 at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital (where my surgery was done). The program is an "Oncology Update" and will feature several medical professionals (including Dr. Jain) who will take part in the all day conference, revolving around the particular subject of Colon Cancer. I am the only non medical person on the program. I am due to be the first speaker of the day. According to the printed program I recently received, I am to speak for 50 minutes on the "Psycho-Social Support for Cancer Patients". I'm not really sure what that means, but the program coordinator told me to just "tell my story and give my testimony". I don't think I'll have any problem with that. I never tire of telling what God, Dr. Jain, and OLBH has done for me (in that order).

Remember Christie McKinney (who was formerly Dr. Jain's nurse)? She left the Ashland-Bellefonte Cancer Center a few years ago and is now the head Oncology Nurse at OLBH. Turns out that she is the one who recommended me to speak on the program.

The Cancer Center no longer runs the TV commercials, so maybe this invitation is to make up for that! Oh, well. Life is a series of trade offs. Even if I can't be on the commercial, I can still tell my story to whomever will listen ...

I am blessed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Death Of An Institution

When Senator Robert C. Byrd died at 3:00 this morning in a Fairfax, Virginia hospital, it literally marked the end of an era. Byrd was an institution in Washington, DC, and a legend in the Mountain State. Whether one agreed with his politics or not, there is no question that this was one remarkable individual. In the 234 year history of our nation, no man has served longer in the halls of Congress than the Senior Senator from West Virginia.

Byrd served in the West Virginia House of Delegates with my grandfather, Jerry Stidham, in the late 40's and early 50's . Papaw Stidham, an official with the United Mine Workers of America, had a lot of contact with Byrd over the years, and considered him a good friend until his death in 1968. The young man from Raleigh County was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1952, playing "Cripple Creek" on his fiddle at every campaign speech or rally. Six years later he was elected by the voters in West Virginia to the U.S. Senate - the only man in history elected to nine full terms in the Senate.

Byrd's career was a long, and strange one. The man never lost an election. He dismissed his earlier membership in the Ku Klux Klan as "a mistake of my youth". He voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the early 70's he upset Ted Kennedy in the Senate Democrat caucus for the post of Majority Whip, and he later served a number of years as the Democrat's leader in the Senate. As the years passed, his vote began to swing from conservative to liberal. I often disagreed with his politics, but had to respect the seriousness he brought to the job. He cast more than 18,000 votes in his Senate career (an obvious record) and had a 98% attendance record! He always carried a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his jacket pocket, and was considered by his colleagues as an expert on the Constitution and the unique rules of the Senate.

Like him or not, the man showed up for work, and as long time chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, he brought home the bacon to the people of West Virginia. Wherever you go in the Mountain State, you'll find something - a bridge, a school, a building, or a highway, named for Robert C. Byrd. At the age of 92, Robert Byrd was an institution, yet he lived a quiet personal life, deeply devoted to his wife, who passed away about four years ago.

Back in the 90's, my mother wrote Senator Byrd a letter. The Senate had passed a bill, which banned the abominable practice known as "Partial Birth Abortion". President Clinton had vetoed the bill. Senate Republicans and conservative Democrats sought to over ride the veto. Byrd voted to uphold the veto and Mom was incensed! She wrote him a letter telling him so. She mentioned his long ago association with her father in the West Virginia Legislature and allowed as to how ashamed Papaw would have been of his stance.

Several days later, Mom heard the phone ring while she was doing some yard work just outside the back door. Quickly going inside to answer it, she heard a feminine voice say, "Patsy Adkins?" When she replied that she was, the voice said, "Please hold for Senator Byrd". To Mom's astonishment West Virginia's Senior Senator came on the line greeting her and thanking her for her note. He spent several minutes explaining to her why he had voted the way he did (which I can't explain), but nevertheless, he claimed good reason. He continued by talking about his 20 year friendship with my grandfather, and asked, "What about Mary? (my grandmother) Is she still living?" Learning that she had recently passed away, the Senator offered his deep condolences and assured Mom that our family would be in his prayers. Mom was deeply gratified and her anger over his unpopular vote was gone.

That, my friends, (along with pork barrel politics) is a prime example of how a guy can cast a vote contrary to the views of the majority of voters in his state, but keeps getting elected to represent them!

The Republic goes on, but we will most surely never again see another person like Robert C. Byrd on Capitol Hill.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It All Boils Down To This

Anyone who has been around Westmoreland Baptist Church for the past two years, cannot help but be familiar with the little orange signs posted all around the buildings, announcing "Our Focus". The signs have three overlapping circles. The top circle holds the caption "Magnify God". The two circles below say "Make Disciples" and "Minister to People" respectively. It has been my desire, as pastor, to embed this image in the minds of every member of our fellowship.

The Venn diagram illustrates the three fold mission of Westmoreland Baptist Church. I do not claim originality for this diagram. In fact, I have asked another church who uses it, for permission to use it at Westmoreland. That pastor assured me that they did not originate it either. Wherever it came from originally is unknown to me, but the powerful truth depicted so simply is more than adequate reason for us to use it to keep the mission before us.

Is it based on scriptural truth?

Yes indeed!

It springs directly from the teachings of Jesus in what we call “The Great Commandments”:

Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' "This is the first and great commandment. "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

and “The Great Commission”:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

The three categories involve Worship, Ministry, and Discipleship. Each is distinct characteristic, but as the diagram indicates, they do not stand alone. Each category overlaps with the other two, creating an interesting dynamic. All are interconnected. Worship of our God naturally flows from the life of a believer. As we worship the Father, we are reminded of His commandments to us. We are called upon to minister to others. As we reach out to serve the needs of others through missions, we do it in the name of Jesus, which automatically leads to sharing our faith in Him with those to whom we minister. Evangelism and missions lead to teaching new believers all of the things Jesus commanded us. As we build disciples, they grow in their relationship with the Father. Worship becomes a reality to them, as does the natural desire to tell other about Christ. Ministry ensues, and evangelism continues. And so on and so on.

If this is our mission, then we should evaluate every program, ministry, and activity of Westmoreland Baptist Church. If they do not fit into one of the circles, we should abandon them immediately. For those ministries and activities that do fit into the mission, there should be periodic evaluation, and appropriate adjustments and course corrections should be made accordingly.

How are we doing in the task?

I will be sharing my heart regarding this in the 10:45 worship service on Sunday morning. I hope you will make a special effort to be there.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Would You Consider Helping A Friend Help Others?

Pictured here is my daughter in law, Leigh Anne Adkins (along with her husband and our younger son, Benji).

She doesn't know I am doing this, and wouldn't ask me to do it, but I am anyway. I hope none of my friends will be offended, but I am asking a favor.

Leigh Anne has been building her own Mary Kay Cosmetic business for several years. She has been quite successful at building a sales team, and has done well as an Independent Sales Director. Although a talented artist, with a B.A. Degree in Studio Art, Leigh Anne has fallen in love with Mary Kay, and it has allowed her to work at a rewarding career, and still be a stay at home mom as much as possible. She has actually earned two cars due to her production, and this has been a real help to their family.

Right now, Leigh Anne is working on a project to help stomp out Domestic Violence. Mary Kay has donated thousands of dollars of product and cash to women's shelters and programs designed to curb violence against women. She is also offering a lipstick project which will help Safe Harbor domestic violence shelter here in Ashland, KY. Anyone purchasing a lipstick or lip gloss will help that project and also be eligible for a $100 drawing themselves.

I am not just trying to solicit business for Leigh Anne, nor am I trying to line up consultants to work under her. But I am trying to help her help others. I won't go into a lot of detail right now, but Leigh Anne is working on a very strict deadline of June 30th, and she could use some help. There may be someone out there who would like to order some of the Mary Kay products for women (or for men). Others might like to help out just with the lipstick project. In fact, if 50 of our friends would just purchase a lipstick before the June 30 deadline, she could probably reach her goal.

If you would like to know more, I will give you her website, and her email address, and her cell phone number. The cell number is 606.923.2209. her email address is, and her Mary Kay website is She can also be found on Facebook as Leigh Anne Clanton Adkins.

If you're interested in becoming a consultant, I'm sure she would be glad to talk to you about that, too - but that is not the purpose of this post.
She can give you more details and any other information you may need, (much better than I can) and I am sure she can get the product to you locally very quickly or ship product to you anywhere in the U.S. Time is passing quickly and there are only six days left in the month! Would you help her help others?

Thanks for your consideration.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"The Giant" A Tribute To My Dad

Today marks the third anniversary of "For What It's Worth". My hope is that through these ruminations, I may have brought some challenge, food for thought, and maybe a smile or two your way. Thank you for reading and responding , as many of you have over the past three years. Since today is the third birthday of my blog, and in honor of my Dad on Father's Day, I am reprinting my very first blog post from three years ago today. Happy Father's Day, Dad!

June 20, 2007

The Giant
It’s been 50 years ago, or so, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It generally happened early on Saturday mornings. My little brothers and I would be on the living room couch watching black and white cartoons on TV when the big voice would boom out of Mom and Dad’s bedroom. “I’m the giant and this is my island!” That is all we needed to hear. We would make a mad dash for the bed where Dad had been sleeping and immediately upon jumping in the bed, we would find ourselves flipping off the other side. That was the nature of the game.

It was sort of a horizontal “King of the Hill” contest. Dad was the giant and the bed was his island. The challenge for us was to dislodge him from the island. It was a futile effort on our part, but was tremendous fun to wrestle with and team up on the big guy in the family. I’m not sure that we ever were able to move the giant from his island, but I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything.

Quality time with Dad then was precious and rare. He worked a 40 hour week at International Nickel Company, preached twice every Sunday, and held as many as 19 revival meetings a year. As a normal routine, Dad would rush home after work each day, jump in and out of the tub, eat a quick dinner, jump in the car and drive as far as Portsmouth, OH; Logan, Charleston, Point Pleasant, WV; or Wurtland, KY; preach to a packed house, drive back home, climb in bed and get up early the next morning and do it all over again. Back in those days, revival meetings always lasted two weeks, and often times went three or four. It was not uncommon to see from 25 – 40 people make professions of faith during those services. I remember one stretch when Dad was in church somewhere every night, for 100 straight evenings. I think it is safe to say that he burned the candle at both ends.

Busy as he was, he was always careful to spend quality time with his boys. Whether it be “I’m the Giant and This is My Island”, a game of catch in the back yard, the occasional trip to see the Reds at Crosley Field, or just the time we spent together in church (or on the way to or from) those times were very special to us. Many of you know Dad as the old guy in the McDonalds breakfast gang, or that fellow that never met a stranger, or the guy with a corny joke for every occasion, or the character on Row 9 at Edwards Stadium with a funny hat and silly glasses on to celebrate each Herd touchdown. He is all of those fellows, but Bruce and Carl and I remember him as the hard charging, fiery preacher, who was one of the busiest evangelists in the Tri State area. We know him as the orator that could paint a picture in a sermon so vivid that you could almost feel ground shake when Goliath fell hard from the blow of David’s stone, or see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walking around loose in the fiery furnace. In fact one guy once yelled out during Dad’s message, “I can see them in there!”, but that is another story for another time.

Caudle Adkins, Jr. was born at Dehue in Logan Co, WV in 1927. He was often fond of saying that Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic and Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs that year to celebrate his birth. Like many other young men, he quit school to join the military in World War II, and although a Sailor through and through, he never learned to swim! He had the good sense to marry Patsy Stidham, the best girl in Logan County, and to get out of the coal mines while he was young enough to move to Huntington and get a new career started at INCO.

Dad celebrated his 80th birthday last month. During his nearly 6 decades in ministry he has preached countless messages, married lots of couples, buried many friends, comforted the grieving, eaten lots of fried chicken, encouraged thousands of Christians, and won hundreds of people to Jesus. Aside from one aunt (who is only a few years older than him), Dad is the last surviving member of his family and has lived to see his grandchildren and great grandchildren, who all love and respect him. He has more friends than anyone I have ever known.

My younger brother, Bruce, has the Adkins looks and inherited many of Dad’s qualities, and keeps links with both sides of Dad’s family. Youngest brother, Carl, inherited his tireless work ethic and his easygoing manner and his ability to schmooze with anyone.

I am thankful that I got his name, although at times it has been hard to live up to all that goes with it! That name was passed on to his oldest grandson and great grandson as well. My son, Jay and I have followed Dad in ministry. Much of our family went down to New Orleans a couple of weeks ago for Jay’s graduation from Seminary. Dad seemed to be pretty proud that day.

Later, Jay told me something that really touched me. He said that during the graduation ceremony, while the congregation was standing and singing, he looked over and saw Dad standing there at the end of our family’s row. Jay said, “I looked over there and thought, If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here now. That’s my Heritage. It brought tears to my eyes”, he said.

Physically, Dad doesn’t seem as big to me as he did on those Saturday mornings, way back when, but even now, to me – he is still “The Giant”.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Our 39th Wedding Anniversary

39 years ago today, I stood along side a beautiful young woman, making vows about loving, honoring and cherishing until death alone may part us. And so we have. For richer or for poorer (mostly poorer). In sickness and in health (mostly good health - with some serious sickness thrown in the past 5 1/2 years). So long as we both shall live (so far, so good). Like many of my friends, I married up. Other than coming to Christ, marrying Linda Bowling was the best thing I have ever done.

The fact that she would even have considered getting hitched to me, is somewhat of a miracle in itself. Part of it speaks of what must be my unparalleled salesmanship, but the majority has to do with the will of a loving and sovereign God. He knew that there needed to be someone in my life who could counteract the cynicism and hardness that was there. So He brought this beautiful young woman f into my life, all the way from a mountain town 100 miles away. She is the best person I have ever known, and I am honored and humbled that she has kept her vows to me (for better or worse) for nearly four decades.

The weather on that Saturday evening, 39 years ago, was much like it is today. Hot and humid. The Thomas Memorial Free Will Baptist Church was packed out that evening. I can't tell you that from memory, but from the photos which verify the fact. My Father performed the ceremony. Linda's Matron of Honor was her older sister, Violet Bennett. Her bridesmaids included her cousin, Brenda Huddle, her cousin, Joyce Faye Pope, her former roommate, the late Sandy Chapman, and her close friend, Lois Conn Vallance.

Doug Goolsby, my college friend and kindred spirit stood with me as the best man. (I would return the favor three years later at his wedding in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Other groomsmen included my younger brother, Bruce, lifelong friend and neighbor, Donnie Smith, best friend from High School, Phil Cheek, and college friend, Larry Gunnoe. Linda's little nephew, Glen Bennett was our ring bearer. His sister, Gloria, was the flower girl.

The wedding was beautiful. There were a couple of humorous hitches that came off during the ceremony, but what weddings are there that do not have some memorable gaffes?

A nice reception was held in the church's "sewing room" and fellowship hall. Donnie, Bruce, and the others, made sure my little Opel Cadet was properly adorned with the obligatory "Just Married" decorations. We spent our wedding night in the Holiday Inn at South Point, Ohio, and there wasn't much of a honeymoon since both of us had to be back at work on Monday morning.

It wasn't much of a wedding by today's standards, but there is more to a marriage than the cost of the wedding ceremony or a two week honeymoon to some exotic place. Marriage is more about commitment than anything else. Oh yes! Love is important, but as time goes by, one comes to understand that love is much more than we thought it was when we were 20 years old.

A marriage based on love (for God first, and then for one another) and commitment , is a marriage that will stand the test of time.

For some reason, unknown to me, God has chosen to keep us here for 39 years. He has blessed us with two great sons, and two wonderful daughters in law. The "icing" on our anniversary cake would be Quint, Will, Canon, and Asher, our four precious grand kids. We still live in a humble home, drive cars that have seen better days, and really don't have much by this world's standards, but we are rich beyond measure.

We celebrated our anniversary a day early this year at Disney's Magic Kingdom with part of our family. God has been good to us (even if Michelle did make me wear the funny hat!).

Happy anniversary Baboo! I love you more today than yesterday - but not as much as tomorrow.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Visiting The Mouse At His House

It was probably around 1955 when I became a member of the Mickey Mouse Club. I had the T-Shirt and the mouse ears. Actually I had two sets of mouse ears, because my little brother destroyed the first set. The memories are still vivid of sitting in front of the big console with the little black and white screen, watching as the Mouseketeers marched into the picture announcing their names, Cubby, Annette, Doreen, Bobby, Jimmy and the others. I would proudly march from the front bedroom into the little living room, wearing my shirt and ears, and announce, "C.J." Like thousands of other kids across America I really felt like I was part of the club. I was always a little puzzled by the old chubby guy named Roy. (I still don't know why he was in the club). Mickey was a happy, familiar little rodent, with a high pitched voice. I loved him and also enjoyed the talent roundup, Spin and Marty, and other features at the clubhouse. Donald Duck, on the other hand, bothered me a lot. He was a jealous little guy with an obnoxious voice, and way too high of a stress level.

The thought of Disneyland (way out in California) was only a dream to this West Virginia kid. It was awesome to see on the Walt Disney Hour on Sunday evenings, but it was far enough removed from our town that I had no dream of ever visiting there. Not only did I think I would never get to visit the magical place, I only knew two kids personally who had ever been there. The Vallance boys had visited Disneyland with their parents on a cross country trip, back in the late 50's. Although I was a little jealous, I still enjoyed seeing the grainy home movies of the trip.

Once Walt Disney began to transform Orlando from a non destination in Central Florida to the tourist Mecca of North America, I was detached enough from my former youthful relationship with the Mouse, that I really didn't care so much. Furthermore, limited budgets, old used up cars, and staying busy in bi-vocational ministry and community activities forced most of our family "vacations" to be brief in nature and usually within a day's drive from home.

Well, here I am, 55 years removed from my initiation in the Mickey Mouse Club, and today Linda and I are going to the Magic Kingdom with Jay, Michelle, and grandsons Quint and Canon.

Personally I could do without all the walking in the 95 degree heat (and 98% humidity) but it is a wonderful opportunity to turn back the hands of time a bit, and to spend some special time with two of our grandsons. My only wish would be that grandsons Will and Asher could also be with us today. But we'll look forward to doing something special with them later in the summer.

In the mean time, like the Seven Dwarfs, it's time to pack up our stuff and march off humming the tune to "Hi Ho, Hi Ho..."

Should I survive the trip (and I'm sure I will), I'll be posting again tomorrow before we head for the east coast and a visit to NASA. But for now, "M-I-C (See you real soon! ) K-E-Y. (Why? because we like you!) M-O-U-S-E!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Concluding Thoughts On The Convention

The 2010 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is now history.

More than 11,000 messengers were here in Orlando for a historic meeting, now we all begin heading back to our respective homes and places of ministry. Issues that were hot topics of discussion for the past three days now slowly begin to fade back into the reality of normal Southern Baptist life. If there is to be a Great Commission Resurgence among Baptists, it will begin in the pulpits and pews of our 40,000 + local congregations. No amount of restructure, programs, or catchy buzz words will avail any results apart from the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christ Followers.

I am thankful that we Baptists can come together for worship, prayer, preaching, and fellowship, and to handle the business issues that are necessary to operate the various aspects of the world's largest organized group of evangelical Christians. Technically Southern Baptists are a Convention, not a denomination. There is a difference. A denomination generally is operated on a hierarchical model, with decisions coming from the top down. A Convention is, on the other hand, a voluntary group of autonomous churches, working together for a common mission. The Convention meets two days per year. Each local church is entitled to send messengers to speak for their congregation. They set budgets, enact policies, and elect Convention officers, and trustees to manage the various entities and boards of the Convention.

Do the messengers always see eye to eye?

Does every member of your church see eye to eye?

Of course not!

The good news is that the wrangling is not about theology. The Battle for the Bible was won through the "Conservative Resurgence" process several years ago. Now, the hot button issues are more over methodology, and one can expect opinions on "how to do it" to vary from person to person. There are sometimes heated debates on various issues. Passions burn high, and opinions vary. Votes are taken and results may not always be what you hope they will be, but when the smoke clears, we are still brothers and sisters in Christ, with His mission to fulfil.

So now we enter the era of the "Great Commission Resurgence". There is not a born again Southern Baptist in the Convention Center (or ANYWHERE else) who is against the Great Commission. We may have different opinions as to how we may accomplish it, but there is no debate on the question of "Why?" The command is clear. Our marching orders from Christ are to be His witnesses in the world - from right here at home, to the ends of the earth. That task is not accomplished by messengers in huge convention halls, but by our local congregations, as we go about our daily lives, seeking to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, and through cooperative intentional mission efforts to reach every people group on the face of the planet. It is a God sized task, and we'd best ramp up our efforts and follow His lead, because the time to accomplish it is quickly passing.

That is what we are working toward at Westmoreland Baptist Church. May God help us redouble our efforts to do as Jesus commanded - "making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you."

No debate on that issue.

Time to get to work!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An Important Motion

As most folks expected, the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report passed by a large vote, but not without two hours of debate, lots of confusion, and passing an amendment that strengthened the wording about the Cooperative Program. The SBC parliamentarians, Barry McCarty and John Sullivan, certainly earned their pay on Tuesday as various alternative motions and points of order were raised by numerous messengers. So now the GCRTF's report is history. It has been adopted by the messengers to the convention. The recommendations now go to the Boards of Trustees of the various SBC entities (Executive Committee, North American Mission Board, and International Mission Board) for their consideration. My guess is that we have not yet begun to squabble.

The important thing to take away from all this, in my humble opinion, is that change is coming to the SBC. Change can be scary. There are lots of unknowns. But like it or not, the big ship is on a course correction, that will either lead to "Greater Things" (as the theme of the Pastor's Conference suggested) or to the gradual disassembly of the machinery that has grown to be the largest protestant denomination in the world. Obviously, the 11,020 messengers at the Convention yesterday were clearly in the mood for change. Even though I was not one of those who was satissfied with every recommendation of the GCRTF, I do believe that some changes are necessary. I'm just not sure the GCRTF's recommendations regarding the North American Mission Board are what we need.

Time will tell.

Yesterday more than 30 motions were brought from the floor of the convention. Convention rules allow for any elected messenger to submit motions from the floor. Standard procedure is that each motion is received, and referred to the Order of Business Committee, which in turn make disposition of the motion. Some are referred to the various entities of the Convention for their consideration, with request to report their decisions at the next Convention. Some motions, which deal with changes to the SBC Constitution are referred to the Executive Committee for their study and recommendations, to be reported back to the next Convention. Some motions are ruled out of order for various parliamentary reasons. Some motions are scheduled by the committee to come to the floor for consideration.

In all of yesterday's motions, only one was scheduled for Convention consideration. That motion was offered by my son, Jay Adkins who is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Westwego in the New Orleans area. Jay's motion was in regard to the Great Commission Task Force's Chairman's decision to place approximately 135 audio tapes of the Task Force's deliberations in the SBC Archives, and seal them for 15 years. Baptist Press reported on this decision in an article on June 8, 2010. You can read that article here

The Adkins motion has been scheduled for consideration at the 8:40 AM Business Session Wednesday morning.

The question is, why would the leadership of the Task Force want the record of their discussions sealed for 15 years. This formation of this Task Force was approved by a huge majority vote in our 2009 Convention in Louisville. SBC President, Johnny Hunt, promised openness and transparency. Now, after what may be one of the most important votes in Convention history yesterday, the Task Force does not want us to know for 15 years, how they came to these recommendations. That just doesn't pass the smell test.

One prominent SBC blogger wrote yesterday "One brave messenger moved that "the minutes and audio of the GCR Committee be open for review for all Southern Baptists" and not sealed for fifteen years as was previously stated.(Opinion: This, in my opinion, is one of the most important motions made at the SBC. If it fails, it will say a great deal to me about where we are as a people). "

I certainly agree with that. In the spirit of fairness and the best Baptist tradition of openness and transparency, make the records available.

The SBC is celebrating the passing of the GCTF report. Why not let us see how they came to these conclusions?

Thoughts From The Convention

The morning is off to a good start. Arose at 5:30 (after a late night last night) had a pleasant swim as the sun came up, and then my quiet time in God's Word. Now awaiting the others to get ready and depart for the Orange County Convention Center here in Orlando.

Due to a flat tire and accompanying difficulties on the Florida Turnpike, our arrival was delayed in Orlando. We arrived in time for a lunch reservation that Daughter in Law, Michelle had made, and then came to check in to the rented house. While Linda, Michelle, and the boys unpacked, Jay and I headed for "Tire Kingdom" to get another tire for the church van. The metal "S" from a bungee strap lying in the highway punctured two holes near the edge of the tire, so plugging it was not an option. By the time we got all that done, we were able to get to the Convention Center just as the evening session was getting underway.

Best I could tell, the Pastor's Conference had mostly been a pep rally for the Great Commission Task Force's Report which will be delivered this afternoon. I did not hear each speaker, of course, but what I did hear last night from Ronnie Floyd and Mac Brunson was troubling. Floyd, who is the chairman of the Task Force put heavy pressure on the Messengers to pass the recommendations that the Task Force will bring to the floor today. Failure to do so, would indicate our unwillingness to carry out the plan of God. Mac Brunson, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL, made it plain that these men who are leaders of our Convention had reached down to where we are to lift us up to where God wants us to be. The whole thing was unseemly, and one State Convention official told me that this kind of behavior in the Pastor's Conference was unprecedented.

Now, I am not personal friends with any of the Task Force members, but I have met a few of them. They are men and women of great reputation and many accomplishments. Many of these are men whom I respect and have admired for many years. But in the Madison Avenue like campaign to push their recommendations through, one would think this committee had been called by God at a burning bush, rather than being hand picked and appointed by Convention President, Johnny Hunt! While I appreciate the work, prayer, time, and money (lots and lots of money) spent on this task (for which I voted, by the way), we all need to remember that what they are presenting to us are RECOMMENDATIONS, not inspired edicts from the Almighty, etched in stone by His omnipotent finger.

I can support most of the recommendations, but I can see little that most of the recommendations have to do with the Great Commission. It is about methodology. We all agree on the Great Commission! It is our mission,! This report just seems to be somewhat self serving to some mega churches, and putting much more emphasis on designated giving. It appears to target NAMB, The Executive Committee, and the State Conventions, and simply adds more Cooperative Program money to the International Mission Board. While the IMB's work is immensely important, it in itself, is not "The Great Commission". It is an important part of it, but the Great Commission involves more than JUST Evangelism. I don't like the direction this thing has taken, and I am deeply troubled in my spirit about the "us against them" vibrations. Dr. Floyd's impassioned remarks last night left the clear impression that anyone who voted against the whole package, is voting against the Great Commission. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The whole thing reminds me of a conversation that took place between my son, Jay, and his older son, Quint, a few months ago. There was a discussion going on about some issue, and Quint was paying close attention to the adult conversation. Jay asked ten year old Quint, what his opinion was in the matter.

Quit gave him his opinion, and Jay promptly said, "No. That is wrong."

I love what Quint replied.

"No, you asked for my opinion. That's what I gave you. It's neither right or wrong. It is my opinion."

I would pray that all of our SBC brethren might take a deep breath today and remember exactly what the GCTF report is - an opinion.

The nearly 10,000 messengers all have their own opinions. Let us prayerfully consider the options, and let us vote on each of the recommendations. But most of all, may the Lord's will be done, and may He be glorified.

On another note, my friend and fellow West Virginia pastor, Jim Drake, will be nominated today for First Vice President. I wish him well and look forward to voting for him.

Well, Jay is ready and we're off! Will post again later tonight, and may tweet a little through the sessions today. Check it out at pastoradkins/twitter.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thanks For Your Concern and Prayers

Just a note to those of you who were concerned by the last post, to let you know, I was released from Kings Daughters Medical Center's Heart and Vascular Center on Sunday afternoon. All of the EKG's, blood work, echo cardiograms, and the stress test, indicated there were no apparent cardiac problems. So apparently the little incident on Friday afternoon was a false alarm.

The outpouring of calls, cards, Facebook posts, emails and prayers were truly comforting and deeply appreciated.

I made it back to church in time for the Deacon Meeting and evening service. Enjoyed sitting back and listening to Dad preach.

Linda and I are looking forward to leaving early Sunday morning for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. We will be meeting up with our older son, Jay, and his family and look forward to spending the week with them in Orlando. We will be making a week of vacation out of the trip to the Convention.

I am thankful for the time away from the normal routine. Linda and I can both use the break! Also thankful for those who will fill the Westmoreland Baptist Church pulpit for the two Sundays I will be gone. My Dad, Rev. Caudle Adkins, Jr. will be speaking in the Sunday morning service on June 13th. On the 20th we will be blessed in the morning service with a 50 member Youth Choir and Drama Team from First Baptist Church at Bowling Green, Kentucky. Both Sunday nights (13th and 20th) will be covered by Chan Arnett of Catlettsburg, KY. Chan is an outstanding young Bible teacher, and we will be combining our adult and youth services at 7:00 PM on those two nights.

Thanks again for all your prayers and words of encouragement. I am blessed beyond measure with so many friends, and to serve as an under shepherd to the precious community of believers here at Westmoreland.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"The Best Laid Plans..."

The older I get, I am regularly reminded how things can change in just a matter of moments. As Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry". I had a lot of plans when I arrived home from New Orleans at 9:05 on Thursday evening. It had been a real frustrating experience which began upon my arrival at Louis Armstrong International Airport. I had already checked in for my flight on line and had printed my boarding passes. Jay's family and I had said our goodbyes at the drop off point, and with only a carry on and a brief case, all I had to do was clear security and head for my departure gate.

Things got complicated when I checked the departure board in the terminal and noticed that my Delta Airlines flight from New Orleans to Cincinnati had been cancelled. Time and space here will not allow me to give all the details (and I really don't want to go over them again) but suffice it to say that Delta had plans for me to leave the next morning and arrive home on Friday night, 24 hours later than expected. That arrangement was not acceptable to me nor to another gentleman from Flatwoods, KY who was ahead of me in line. We both had important business in the Tri-State on Friday and we pressed the ticket agent to make other arrangements. Long story short, Delta was good enough to book us on a US Airways flight that was leaving in 20 minutes for Charlotte. Mr. Andre and I arrived at the gate just as the flight to Charlotte was boarding, and the adventure was on, facing really tight connections in Charlotte and Cincinnati. Fortunately we did make it to Cincy just in time to catch our late flight home.

I had lots of plans for this weekend. It was important that I get into the office for a full day's work on Friday. There were hospital visits to make, final sermon prep, two radio programs to record and get to the station by Monday, some writing to do, and a lot of administrative stuff which had piled up for a week.

Saturday was also going to be a very busy day, with the monthly men's prayer breakfast at the church, the final Upward Soccer games, my grandson, Will's, Little League championship playoff game, a week's growth of grass to mow, and a surprise 25th Anniversary party for Scott and Carla Bell that evening. If the weather would cooperate, I figured I could manage to get it all in.

Then, of course there was Sunday looming with two messages to deliver, high school and college graduates to recognize, a church fellowship dinner, and a deacon meeting to attend. Things looked like they might ease up by Tuesday, after our Upward Soccer Award Celebration and cook out at the church on Monday evening. That would give me four more days to get everything ready to leave early next Sunday for the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando.

Lots of plans. Tight schedule, but do-able, I thought.


About 2:40 on Friday afternoon, after a very busy morning of hospital visits and other necessary errands, I was working away in my study when I noticed that something was wrong. There was a deep "discomfort" in my chest. Can't really call it "pain", but a heavy pressure was there, accompanied by shortness of breath. It was enough to concern me, knowing that Sonia, our church secretary, would be leaving for the day in just a few minutes. The discomfort was strong enough that I was not too crazy about being in the building alone, should the unthinkable happen. I lay down on the sofa in the parlor outside my study and breathed deeply and after 10 minutes or so, the pressure had eased, so I headed back to my desk to continue my work.

Deacon Charley Dygert stopped by just before 3:00 and Sonia quietly advised him of my little episode . Charley came in my office with obvious concern on his face. I explained to him that it was just a passing thing and that if I were going to have had a heart attack it would have certainly been the day before, when I was carrying a 30 pound bag and running thorough airports in New Orleans, Charlotte, and Cincinnati. I have a lot of respect for Charley and his good common sense, so I listened to what he had to say. He told me that for some time he had ignored similar symptoms, until one day he had "the big one". Charley had undergone a multiple bypass open heart surgery, and he strongly encouraged me to head on down to King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, KY (where I live) and tell them what had happened. Somewhat reluctantly, I promised Charley I would do so.

Linda was on her way home from work when I arrived at the house and, naturally, she kicked into crisis mode and drove me to the hospital. The ER waiting room was full of folks and I figured it would be a long wait. However, when I told the lady at the sign in window about my symptoms, a wheel chair was called for, and I was whisked back to cubicle number three, post haste.

I fully expected to have to spend the night, but I didn't think I would be spending the whole weekend. After all, I had way too much to do this weekend. Right?

Well, now it's Sunday morning. Normally at this time I would be on my way to the church, with much to accomplish before services begin. Not today. Right now, I am sitting in room 4J416 of the Heart and Vascular Center at King's Daughters, waiting for them to come get me for my stress test. I missed the prayer breakfast. I missed the final Upward games I had hoped to visit. I missed Will's playoff game (they lost), two neighbor boys mowed my grass, and I could only call Scott and Carla to wish them a happy anniversary. Randy Spurgeon will be preaching in my place this morning, and Dad is scheduled to handle things for tonight. Life goes on without me, and things will go just fine.

So, here I sit, awaiting my stress test and the results of yesterday's echo cardiogram. Those will determine if I go home later today, or stay on for a heart catherization. Naturally I am hoping for the former.

By the way - did I mention that I haven't had a chest pain since I have been here?

Why would all this happen, when I have had so much to do?

Perhaps three reasons.

1. I may have a physical problem that needs to be dealt with - now! If that is the case, I will forever be in the debt of Sonia, Charley, and Linda who all urged me to get checked out. If not -

2. I have ministered for years to folks who have had various heart procedures done. Perhaps the Lord has determined that I needed some more "training" to be better equipped to understand the emotions that accompany such situations for these folks and their families. (He has already taught me such lessons regarding cancer patients!)

3. Or perhaps, God just needed to remind me of something that I should have already known. I am not in control. He is! I should make my plans accordingly.

Our Lord's half brother, James, wrote in his little epistle in the New Testament these Holy Spirit inspired words:

" Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:13-17)

OK Lord. I get it! Forgive me of the sin of presumption.

I'll do my best to stay busy in the work in the time I have remaining - If it is YOUR will.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Class. Real Class!

On June 2, 2010 an event happened in Detroit that will live forever in baseball lore. A young pitcher for the hometown Tigers lost his bid for a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians, with two outs in the ninth inning. Armando Galarraga became the 10th pitcher in baseball history to lose his bid for baseball immortality (27 up - 27 down) with only one out remaining between him and perfection. The thing that makes the Galarraga's loss more notable than the other nine heart breakers was the fact that the first base umpire, Jim Joyce, missed the call.

Granted, it was a "bang-bang" play at first base. Joyce had what he considered good position on the play. The pitch that should have been the final out of the gem was hit just left of first base. The Tigers first baseman went to his right to field the ball cleanly. Galarraga ran to first to cover the bag and take the throw. It's a routine play. Pitchers and first basemen practice that play from the time they are in Little League. It was executed perfectly, but the Umpire called the runner safe.

Baseball has long been called a game of inches. Umpires are called upon to make judgment calls in every game. The balls and strike calls are all based on the Umpire's concept of the strike zone. A couple of inches can make the difference. Line drives hit down the foul lines can , by mere inches, determine the outcome of a game. Close plays at the bases or at home plate are regular occurrences, and baseball Umpires are called upon to make a quick judgment call. Baseball has no rules that allow Umpires to review the plays. There is no "after further review, the call is overturned" announcements in Major League Baseball. Perhaps there should be, but there isn't, and that is an issue for another post. The burden rests squarely on the shoulders of the Umpire. Often they are correct. Sometimes they are wrong. In this case, the television replay showed that Joyce blew it.

He stood by the call. He knew it would be unpopular (to say the least) but he thought he had made the right call. He incurred the wrath of the nearly 20,000 fans who watched the replay on the Jumbo Tron. He took a brutal tongue lashing from Tiger Manager, Jim Leyland, and stoically walked off the field to a chorus of boos when the final out was recorded. As soon as he hit the Umpire's quarters, he asked the clubhouse man to que up the replay of the video. There he realized, he had blown the call.

In a post game interview, Joyce was contrite and nearly in tears, when he said, "I feel terrible! That kid worked his ____ off and I cost him a perfect game. I blew it!" He promptly called the Tiger's clubhouse to apologize to Galarraga. To the young man's credit he took the call, and graciously told the host of reporters gathered round him, "No body's perfect. He recognized he missed the call, and he called me to apologize. Umpires don't do that."

Galarraga was one out from perfection. He was one out away from becoming only the 21st pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to ever face the minimum number of batters. No runs. No hits. No errors. No walks. No hit batsmen. No one reaching first on a dropped third strike. 27 batters up - 27 batters down. Of all the people on the field whom one would think would have a right to go ballistic, it would have been Galarraga. Yet the replay showed that when he took the throw at first base, his expression went immediately from ecstasy, to disbelief, to downcast eyes and a smile of disappointment. He then went to the mound and finished the job by getting the next hitter to ground out.

The most famous one hit shut out in the history of baseball was complete.

The pitcher lost out on an honor and recognition that only twenty men have earned in well over a century of playing thousands of games.

The Umpire, a veteran of the Major Leagues, who has called World Series and numerous league championship series games, and rated by many as one of the top three umpires in the game today, blew the most important call of his 22 year career.

Outrage poured from the fans. News media pundits called for Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to reverse the call and give Galarraga the perfect game. But according to the rules of the game, it just couldn't be done. The sports world was in an uproar.

Yet in the middle of the pathos, all the affected parties have shown such qualities of contrition, forgiveness, and grace, that it boggles the mind that is so accustomed to the 21st century culture of "Me". What an example of sportsmanship, grace and forgiveness we see in the whole episode. Even Tiger Manager Leyland who was wroth with Joyce after the final out, later acknowledged, "He's a good Umpire. He just made a mistake. He's only human".

How would you and I react if we were in the place of Armando Galarraga? How would we feel if we were in Jim Joyce's shoes. The whole post game episode was an exhibition of class that is almost extinct in our society - not just the world of sports. I wish every Little League player, coach, umpire, and parent could see how true professionals carry themselves in difficult situations.

The picture above shows what took place before Thursday evening's game between the Tigers and Indians. Leyland sent Galarrage to bring the starting lineup to the home plate Umpire, Jim Joyce, before the game. Joyce fought back tears as Galarraga smiled and shook his hand.

Armando Galarraga. I didn't know much about him before Wednesday night, but he is my sports hero today. I want to be like him when I grow up.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One Powerful Sermon

Jesus came to enable fallen mankind to come back to a personal relationship with the Creator. What a day it was when the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal one, became a man and dwelled among us! His virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, and bodily resurrection sealed the deal. Jesus is "the way the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him". (John 14:7). Those whose daily lives and eternal destinies have been radically changed by Jesus, will naturally follow Him.

As a follower of Christ, we must be devoted to His teachings. His call to us is to " Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me ... for My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-29)

Jesus' teachings were (and are) different from any other "religious" teacher of His day. Much like today, the Jewish rabbi's teachings were harsh and legalistic. Jesus' teachings were full of Grace and Truth. At the close of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew tells us the reaction of the multitude who heard Jesus' powerful discourse - "And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matt. 7:28-29).

Consider that powerful discourse we call the Sermon on the Mount. His teaching was controversial to the legalists, to say the least. It was simple, yet profound! Just look at the wide range of topics that Jesus covered:

The Beatitudes 5:1-12
Salt and Light 5:13-14
Christ Came to Fulfill the Law 5:15-20
Anger 5:21-26
Lust 5:27-30
Divorce 5:31-32
Oaths 5:33-37
Retaliation 5:38-42
Love Your Enemies 5:43-48
Giving to the Needy 6:1-4
How to Pray 6:5-15
How to Fast 6:16-18
Lay Up Treasures in Heaven 6:19-24
Do Not Be Anxious 6:25-34
Judging Others 7:1-6
Ask and It Shall Be Given 7:7-11
The Golden Rule 7:12-14
A Tree and Its Fruit 7:15-20
I Never Knew You 7:21-23
Build Your House on the Rock 7:24-27

I have recommitted myself to the teachings of Jesus. That may sound strange coming from a guy who has been in ministry for nearly four decades, but I have determined that my focus in my remaining ministry will be to follow Jesus and to teach what Jesus taught. The whole Bible revolves around Him. His teaching ties it all together. "Churchianity" cannot change the lives and destinies of men - but Jesus can, and does!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Of Oil and Water

One of the oldest maxims I can remember hearing as a child is that "oil and water don't mix". Never has that been proven more true than it has over the past six weeks off the coast of Plaquemines Parish at the southern tip of Louisiana.

As one would imagine, the news here in New Orleans is dominated by the terrible ongoing man made disaster in the Gulf of Mexico at the site of the now collapsed deep water Horizon drilling rig. Now in it's 44th day of spewing who knows how many thousands of gallons of crude oil into the fishing rich waters of the Gulf, there is no definite end in sight. Three major efforts to stop the leak have failed. Much of the problem is the fact that the well head is a mile below the surface of the Gulf. Only robotic contraptions can operate at such depth, and it is almost as if British Petroleum is playing a deadly video game as it's engineers try one band aid solution after another. Meanwhile the crude oil and accompanying natural gas continues to pour through the puncture in the crust of the earth and there is apparently nothing that can be humanly done to stop the bleeding, short of a "relief well" being drilled nearby. Unfortunately, that task cannot be completed until August.

Did you get that? AUGUST!

Meanwhile, the wound still bleeds, the fouled area of the sea grows larger and larger each day. The and marshes of the Mississippi River delta are becoming mired in the oily muck. Ecosystems are being fouled and destroyed. Tar balls are washing up on beaches. The massive Gulf shrimping and fishing industries that supply over 30% of the nation's seafood is shut down indefinitely. The economic ripple effect will be felt far from here and for a long time, and a way of life is heading toward extinction. All the while, federal bureaucracy grinds slowly along, keeping Louisiana's governor from taking quick action to build man made sand bars to try to protect the imperiled coastline. The President finally shows up from vacation for a two hour photo op with a host of BP "clean up workers" who had been bussed in for the President's visit, and then bussed out as soon as he departed on Marine One.

The fishermen and shrimpers who have been idled, are quickly going bankrupt. No seafood goes to market, so the law of supply and demand will create higher prices. Unemployed workers have little money to spend on food, rent, recreation, nor funds to give to their churches. Other oil drilling operations are eventually going to be affected and new drilling ceases under tightened federal regulations. Beaches, restaurants, hotels and other businesses in coastal communities from Venice to the Florida Panhandle are already feeling the economic blast as tourism has nearly come to a screeching halt.

Sadly many of the people most directly affected by this disaster are those who had weathered the great natural disaster of nearly five years ago, which was Hurricane Katrina. To add insult to injury, meteorologists predict that the 2010 Hurricane season, which officially began yesterday, may bring more than 20 named storms, five to eight of which are expected to be severe, major hurricanes.

It all serves as a reminder that there are some issues we face in life that are just bigger than we can handle. An ominous cloud hangs over this part of the United States as this summer begins. This area, indeed all of us, need a touch from the hand of the almighty. When you pray (as Joe McKeever said after Katrina) pray BIG for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Pray for the off shore oil rig workers. Pray for the clean up crews who face a seemingly unending and insurmountable task if de-fouling the affected earth and sea. Pray for the families of the fishermen and shrimpers who are facing financial ruin. Pray for the wildlife and the marshes. Pray for the businesses and the churches who will also feel the effect.

Only God knows the final outcome of all of this, and it is all in his hands. Since we cannot know what tomorrow holds, it is comforting to know the One who holds tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Little "Conventional" Humor

It's June 1st and we're just a couple of weeks away from the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting this year in Orlando, FL. It's a good thing the SBC has finally ended the Disney Boycott of several years ago. If not, there would have been a lot of conflicted visiting families in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom this year - but I digress.

There is always serious business for the Messengers from the 40,000+ churches to consider at each annual meeting. Dr. Morris Chapman has said that the SBC in convention is "the largest deliberative body in the world". Tuesday afternoon's business session this year carries such weight, that I am sure there will be very few of the messengers found at any of the Disney attractions at that particular time.

The debate on the convention floor is often boring, sometimes interesting, and every now and again, pretty fiery. But I have always been fascinated in what is going on at the same time in the hallways and the exhibit area. The Convention Annual Meeting is always a time of reunion of old friends and great fellowship together. But it is also a time networking, schmoozing, and politicking. There are always fellows who are looking for a new place of service. Some, to escape bad, stagnant situations that they are presently enduring, and some who are looking to climb the ladder of success.

The week of September 11, 2001, I had opportunity to spend a few days with the late Rev. Dan McBride, whose work had been a wonderful source of delight to me for many years. This Texas Baptist had been in the Christian Education ministry for many years, but it was his humor and musical talent that had caught my attention as a very young man. Although somewhat dated now, the messages of this humorous songs about Baptist life (such as "Tiptoe Through the Tithers", "Righteous Indignation", "I'm Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Criswell", and "The Business Meeting Song") are a delight to every pastor who has been fortunate enough to come across them.

So, in light of the politicking that will be going on in the upcoming Convention meeting in Orlando, and in tribute to Dan McBride, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I want to share the lyrics of one of his appropriate songs with you today:

"Destiny's Ladder"

I am climbing destiny's ladder with a self improvement plan.

I'm the guy who works and pursues the way that seemeth right to man!

And I hope you won't think it sinister, that I'm in the ministry.

My ambition is more professional, like medicine, or law, or dentistry!

So when I consider a move to a new church or residence,

I ask is this move conducive toward Convention President?

And if I can see advantage in the move potentially,

I figure it must be the will of the Lord, because it seems so right to me!

Every day occasions arise that ought to make your status grow.

Each denomination relation is a face that you should know,

All your knowledge of good theology won't get you any where.

It's applied political science that will write your name up there - in the Baptist Annual!

You should always be in the hallways at conventions when they meet.

Or maybe ask some prominent pastor if he'll join you when you eat.

It's the system tradition giveth and I'm sure you will agree,

That it must be the will of the Lord, because it seems so right to me!