Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 Philippine Mission Trip


At 5:50 on Monday morning, a team of five men and one woman will be departing for a two week short term mission trip to the Philippines.

Three of us have made multiple mission visits to Negros Oriental in the past, and three of us will be going there for the first time.

We will be working with Filipino pastors and church planters from the Negros Oriental Southern Baptist Association in the Central Visayan area of the Philippine Islands. Our known planned activities will include scripture distribution, house to house evangelism, jail ministry, evening evangelistic crusades, church services, home Bible Studies, Discipleship activities with new and existing congregations, and speaking to parents in a Christian School. Past experiences tell me that there will be many other unexpected opportunities to share the Gospel of Christ as well.

This will be my 10th short term mission to the Philippines since February, 2000, and I thank God for the many friends I have met, the hundreds of souls who have accepted Christ, and the new congregations we have had a small part in helping. We hope we will be a blessing to these dear folks, and we know that it has been a blessing to us, to have been able to partner with these precious pastors in their ministry.

My brother in law, Gene Bennett, of the Princess Chapel Church (in Boyd Co. KY) will be on the team for the first time, as will Randy and Brenda Lincoln, from Locust Grove Baptist Church in Huntington, WV. Joining us for return visits are Thamer Calhoun, one of my deacons at Westmoreland Baptist Church, and Randall Robertson, my dear friend who serves as pastor of Locust Grove.

The tentative itinerary we have received indicates that there will not be a lot of down time, once our ministry activities begin there. However, I hope to try to post to this blog as often as I have opportunity, and a WI FI signal is available. Please check back to "For What Its Worth" from time to time, or access my profile on Facebook, for photos and updates, when we can send them.

Your prayers for safe travel and successful ministry are appreciated. Be looking for our periodic updates over the next two weeks. As for right now, I have some last minute packing to do!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Quint!

This is the guy who made us grandparents for the first time on January 25, 2000.

Officially, he is Caudle Jerry Adkins, V, but to family and friends, he is simply Quint. As the fifth in a line of Caudle Adkinses, he has already come to expect people to misspell and mispronounce his given name. Claude, Candle, and Claudell are names that we have all been called, over the years. Heck, when I was in U.S. Air Force Basic Training at Lackland AFB, I even had a guy with one stripe, actually erase my first name which I had printed on a form, and "correct" it to "Claude" (like I was so stupid I couldn't spell my own name).

Quint is quite a guy, but then again, would you expect a proud grandfather to say anything else?

He attends a magnet school and excels in science, math, and problem solving. He has his Dad's rhythm and already is quite a drummer. And he also has that sarcastic, biting humor that apparently I have passed on to him. For example, a year of so ago, when I was visiting in New Orleans, Quint's mother, Michelle, was searching through her purse for a comb, to comb the hair of younger son, Canon. Sensing that she was unable to find her comb, I reached in my right pocket and brought out the little black comb that I have carried for years.

Quint looked at me incredulously and, obviously aware of the fact that I am "follically challenged" he said, with that Adkins grin , "Why in the world would YOU have a comb?"

See what I mean?

Jay walked into the house a few weeks ago and saluted Quint with the greeting, "What's the plan, Bub?"

Barely looking up from the project he was working on, Quint replied, "Well, I'm planning to go to MIT, but that's about all I've got right now."

Only God knows what the future has in store for our #1 grandson, but one thing is for sure. He certainly brought joy and excitement into our lives eleven years ago, and Mamaw and I are very, very proud of him.

Happy Birthday, Quint!

Monday, January 24, 2011

"What Is That In Your Hand?"

Most of us are familiar with the events recorded in Exodus, chapters 3 and 4, where an octogenarian comes to a personal encounter with Almighty God.

For forty years this man had known the privilege of being raised in the halls of power. Born into a family of slaves, this adopted Prince of Egypt, had been known as "The Son of Pharaoh's Daughter". Then, after seeing an Egyptian task master brutally beat one of his enslaved kinsman, he exacted revenge, killing the attacker and hiding his body in the sand. Later, when he learned that his actions had been witnessed by others, he fled to the Arabian desert as a fugitive from justice.

The next forty years of his life were spent in obscurity, as he married, raised a family, and served in the father in law's family business. He was a shepherd in the desert. Not exactly an easy life, but one in which Moses had put down roots. Much like most of us, he had developed his own "comfort zone" as he lived out the days of his life, going through the regular routine.

Then he was suddenly called into God's presence - and was commissioned to perform the unthinkable.

The voice speaking to him from a burning bush gave him an incredible set of marching orders. He offered every excuse that he could come up with. Still, God pressed him to be obedient to His calling. A sovereign God, who revealed Himself as "I AM" answered each excuse with the simple promise that He would be with Moses. He warned Moses in advance, that his attempts would at first seem futile, but that "The Self Existent One" would be with him. God would use him to bring about one of the most unlikely events in human history - the emancipation of nearly two million slaves - and lead them on a forty year journey to a land that had been promised to their progenitor, roughly 500 years earlier.

One of the most intriguing parts of this exchange comes in Exodus 4:1-2. It reads, "Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.' " So the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod."

God demonstrated to Moses that He, the great "I AM", would use something as simple and as ordinary as a rugged shepherd's walking stick to help bring about a miracle. The excuses ceased, and Moses humbly confessed to God his own inability. Again, God promised the power of His presence, and Moses took a step of faith and yielded himself to the task that God had given him.

Then a most interesting transformation takes place. If one is not careful, it can easily me overlooked in the narrative. Notice verse 20: "Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand."

Did you catch that?

A simple shepherd's staff in Moses' hand, (verse 2) becomes "The Rod of God" (verse 20). The remainder of the Pentateuch narrative reveals great wonders done with that rod.

A dead piece of wood in the hand of an obedient man, can be a powerful tool.

Now, obviously, you and I are not Moses. Nor, is it likely that we will ever be called to a task of such monumental and historic proportions. But the same "I AM" who called Moses into service, seeks such a relationship with each of us. He is always at work, and He seeks men and women of all ages and all walks of life to partner with Him in the work. He seems to care less about our limited abilities, and more about our AVAILABILITY.

Are you available? Are you willing to use the resources He has given you for His purposes?

What is in your hand?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Torch Was Passed..."

It was 50 years ago today, January 20, 1961. It was a more simple era - although we all thought we were pretty advanced at the time. It was a time when crew cuts and flat tops were still popular with sports stars like Johnny Unitas, and Roger Maris, and with the men and boys who wanted to be like them.

Most men still wore hats in public. Fedoras in the cool weather, and straw hats between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Professional men, such as doctors and lawyers, as well as bankers, teachers, salesmen, and office workers had never heard of "business casual". Suits and ties were every day apparel for the white collar jobs, and khakis or dark blue work clothes were the regular uniform for the factory workers. Our town was a bustling city of nearly 90,000, with railroad shops, steel mills, nearby oil refineries, and many other heavy industries. According to the World Almanac, it was the largest inland port in the United States in terms of tonnage shipped from the port of Huntington. Lots of moms were of the stay home variety, and the girls all wore dresses to school (except for the day when we had Phys Ed class in the gym, under the strict supervision of Mr. Varney). They wore dresses and skirts, even on the coldest of days - one of which was January 20, 1961.

There was a buzz of excitement in Mrs. Gertrude Stone's fifth grade class at Gallaher Elementary School that cold January day. We were ten year olds at the time, and although former Governor Cecil Underwood's children also went to our school, most of us were totally disconnected from politics at the time. Oh, I was vaguely aware of politics, because both of my grandfathers were what I later learned were Roosevelt "New Dealers". Papaw Stidham had serve three terms in the West Virginia Legislature, and he was actively involved in Logan County, WV politics, and worked as a field representative and lobbyist for the United Mine Workers of America, District 17.

Papaw Adkins had already passed away, but I could vividly remember him chewing on that pipe and talking politics with some of the other old men in the neighborhood. He had been a supervisor for the WPA during the Great Depression, and he was a "yellow dog democrat". In fact, speaking of dogs, at one point during the 30's he had owned a German Shepherd dog, that he and the kids had taught to bark excitedly, when asked the question, "Rex, are you a Democrat?" I can still remember him sitting in his living room, watching President Eisenhower making an address to the nation, broadcast over his old black and white television.

"Look at him!" he would bark out. "Watch him grin! he would growl. You just can't trust him!"

I had regularly heard names of revered men bantered around by my grandfathers. Guys like Estes Keefauver and Adalai Stevenson. It was a shame that Papaw was already gone by the time the young Democrat Senator from Massachusetts, had eked out an extremely close Presidential election win over Eisenhower's shifty eyed Vice President - a guy they called "Tricky Dick" Nixon!

The 1960 Presidential election was one that had caught the fancy of millions of Americans - even us apolitical ten year olds.

Our home state had been a major battleground between two U.S. Senators who were vying for the Democratic nomination for the country's highest office. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota traveled the Mountain State from the Northern Panhandle to the southern coal fields in a campaign bus. Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy covered the state as well. I had seen him shaking hands with workers at the main gate of the International Nickel Company during shift change. He drew huge crowds at a court house rally in Logan, and visited coal mines and small towns and coal camps, flashing that huge smile, pressing the flesh with anyone who would stop and listen. That New England accent with words like "vigga" and "Cubar" sure sounded strange to our ears.

It wasn't often that West Virginia drew that kind of attention during Presidential campaigns - then, or now! Humphrey represented the establishment. He was the "Happy Warrior" who promised a return to the policies of FDR and Harry Truman. Kennedy on the other hand, was a war hero, with a beautiful young wife, a dazzling charisma, and oh yes, he was a Catholic! As strange as it may seem to us now, that was a huge issue in West Virginia in 1961. If elected, would all Presidential decisions have to go through the Vatican, as some of the local preachers warned? If Kennedy could win in heavily protestant West Virginia's May primary, he could win anywhere. And win, he did, which propelled him to the nomination at the Democratic National Conventon in Los Angeles!

I remember watching the televised debates between Kennedy and Vice President Nixon. We were told that this was a throwback to the Lincoln, Douglas debates of a century before. The only difference was, these debates were televised and were viewed by millions of Americans in their own homes. Analysists have observed that those who listened to the debates via radio, believed Nixon to be the winner. However, for those who watched on the flickering black and white television sets, the winnner was Kennedy, hands down. His demeanor was pleasant, his smile was quick and natural, and he looked young and fresh in comparison to the sweating, squirming Nixon, who appeared as though he needed a shave.

The November election was one of the most tightly contested one in American history. In fact, the final results were in doubt, even into the next morning. Finally when the all votes were counted from Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) Nixon conceded defeat, and as Kennedy would later say in his inaugural address, "The torch had been passed to a new generation of Americans".

There were no televisions in school classrooms in those days - at least not in our classrooms at Gallaher. But January 20th was a special day, Inauguration Day, and Mrs. Stone saw it as a wonderful opportunity to bring a civics lesson right into the classroom. One of the parents (it seems like it might have been Mrs. Esposito) brought a large "portable" TV to our class that day. The two dozen or so of us students, sat in quiet anticipation for what Mrs. Stone told us was the opportunity to see a major historical event.

The television picture was grainy at best, but we could make out what was going on when the rabbit ears were placed in just the right position. (anybody out there remember Rabbit Ears? )Seems as though they always created better reception with a piece of aluminum foil wrapped around their tips".

It did seem pretty special with the television in the classroom. Mrs. Stone made certain that we understood this would be a historic event and that we should pay close attention. She said we would remember this day as long as we lived. Well, it's been 50 years, and I still do remember it pretty well.

I remember seeing the dignitaries gathered there on the Capitol's newly constructed Inaugural Platform bundled up against the frigid January elements. I remember him repeating the oath of office, which each of us had learned for an assignment. I remember how the news anchors and commentators talked about the extreme cold, and how the breaths of each speaker were visible in the fog they created while speaking. I remember the great (and very old) poet, Robert Frost, struggling to hold his notes against the cold wind while trying to read the poem that he had written especially for the occasion. I remember the President's inaugural speech.

And I remember THE line - the one that has lived in American political lore for five decades..

"And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

Simple. Yet profound.

No matter what your political persuasion, this line verbalized a serious truth that brought us to the place we needed to focus on the two views of what it meant to be and American. Should we expect the state to be our total protector and provider? Or rather, should we, as Americans, step up and offer our services to our great land and it's people.

It was a noble goal then, and now, half a century later , it is an attitude that is desperately needed in America.

Think about it...

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Tone of Political Discourse

I am somewhat taken aback by the recent glut of "talking heads" on the cable news channels, decrying the "harsh tone of today's political discourse". While civility is truly in short supply in the arena of partisan politics, these pundits are acting as though this is something new in American politics. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A cursory review of American history will reveal the fact that political posturing, bickering, name calling, personal attacks, and even violence dot the partisan landscape of our nation's 234 year journey.

All of us remember the boorish behavior of South Carolina's Republican Congressman, Joe Wilson, who interrupted President Obama's 2009 State of the Union Address, by spontaneously yelling, "You lie!" That is shameful behavior, and whether one likes Obama or not, it was tremendously disrespectful to the office of the Presidency, and the decorum of the occasion. But political vitriol knows no party lines. The President, himself, has referred to the opposition party as "our enemies".

Partisan politics is a tough business. While civility and grace are admirable qualities, in any area of human interaction, unfortunately they seem to quickly fade into the background in the practice of the hardball nature of politics. We could use a lot more civility in this arena, but don't be fooled by those who claim that this is something new, spawned by the rise of talk radio or Internet blogging.

For those among us who whine about the need to return to the genteel nature of politics in the past, I would just ask one question. Did they sleep through history class?
Think things are harsh in the political realm today?

Perhaps they would like to return to the peaceful days of yore when political differences were settled in "more civilized" ways. For instance, the episode that took place in the Old Senate Chamber of the Capitol Building on May 22, 1856. The Senate was not in session when South Carolina Representative Preston S. Brooks entered the chamber to avenge the insults that Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner had levelled at Brooks' cousin, Senator Andrew P. Butler. Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas" speech of May 19-20 was sharply critical, on a personal level, of Butler and several other senators who had supported the "popular sovereignty" provisions of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. Sumner was addressing copies of the speech at his desk when Brooks began his attack, striking the northern senator repeatedly with a walking cane, which splintered with the force of the blows.

Although two House members intervened to end the assault, Sumner, who had ripped his desk loose from the bolts holding it to the floor in his effort to escape, was rendered unconscious. He regained consciousness shortly after the attack, but it would be three years before he felt able to resume his senatorial duties.

Look at the historical records regarding rhetoric surrounding the presidential campaigns of men like Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson. The personal attacks against these men and their families were absolutely brutal.

Go farther back to our revered founding fathers. We have this foggy notion that they all locked arms and sang Kumbaya throughout the early days of the Republic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our heroes like Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Hamilton often literally hated one other. Washington was despised by his political enemies, who sought every possible way to bring him down. The genteel John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the fiery red headed co author author of the Declaration of Independence, had many political and personal differences. It is ironic that Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826 (the 50th birthday of our nation).

Their differences paled in comparison with those of Arron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Burr was the third Vice President of the United States (serving under Thomas Jefferson) and Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton, along with John Jay, and James Madison, co wrote the Federalist Papers, which are still looked to today by the courts in determining "original intent" questions in interpreting the Constitution.

These two important figures in the early days of the Republic had numerous political differences. The "conversation" (as they say today) spilled over into insults and personal attacks.

During the course of the 1804 election Hamilton regularly and flagrantly vilified Burr in speeches, some of which were attended by Burr's agents who reported back on their contents. Burr took particular notice of an inflammatory claim that Hamilton had expressed certain "despicable" opinions of him, and that he "could detail . . . a still more despicable opinion." History does not reveal the nature of this more "despicable opinion" but it struck a nerve. What is revealed is that by this time Hamilton considered Burr to be the most dangerous man in the new nation. Burr demanded satisfaction or retraction and challenged Hamilton to a duel.

Burr received satisfaction at Wehawken, New Jersey on July 11, 1804, when he mortally wounded Hamilton on the first shot. Still alive, but paralyzed from the waist down, Hamilton was brought to the home of a friend where he slowly died from internal bleeding. He breathed his last at two o'clock in the afternoon on July 12.

Please do not misunderstand the nature of this post. Two (or two hundred) wrongs don't make a right. However, to those who are crying "the sky is falling" over the tone of the political debate in America, I would say "come on man!" Get real! All of us would surely appreciate a more civil tone in political debate, but face it. This stuff has been going on for more than two centuries of our nation's history.

It's not likely that whining about it will change a single thing. At least that is one Kentuckian's opinion, "For What It's Worth".

Saturday, January 1, 2011


The Christmas lights and decorations are now packed safely away in the basement here at 317 -49th Street. The rush of activity between Thanksgiving and Christmas has wound down, and the old year has quietly passed away.

After attending a basketball game this morning, I have spent most of New Year's Day finishing up the messages for tomorrow's services, and working with Benji in the house next door that we are remodeling. Hopefully he and his family will be able to move into it by late Spring. It will be nice to have two of the grandsons right next door. I always wish the other two were closer (geographically) but we treasure the brief opportunities we have to be with them as well.

There hasn't been a lot of time to reflect today.

It is hard to believe that a New Year has already arrived. Seems like we just did this a short time ago, but alas, we have made another long trip around the Sun since the last New Year celebration. The trip takes the same 365 days to complete, but for some reason, those days seem to zoom by faster and faster each year.

2010 was a full year of work, ministry, family activities, travel, and a little bit of recreation (although not nearly enough of that!). I expect that 2011 will be more of the same. We'll hit the ground running at church tomorrow morning. Our Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season will begin play in two weeks, and I'll be leaving on my mission trip to the Philippines two weeks after that. So, it will most likely be February 15th before I look up and realize that Spring is right around the corner.

This week already has a funeral service scheduled. A dear brother, age 79, passed away at 5:00 pm today and his daughter called tonight to ask me to handle the service this week. This brother and his late wife were precious folks who were members of the second church I served as Pastor, back in the early 80's. So, ministry wise, the New Year will begin the way the old year ended - with a funeral service. My heart goes out to both of these families. The Thacker family who lost their husband and father on Christmas Day, and the Roach family, whose loved one left us a week later. And so it goes in ministry...

Well, back to the New Year thing. I'm not making any New Year's resolutions this year, but I do have several goals I hope to work toward. It's all about time management. I cannot create more hours in the day, but I hope to use them wisely and potentially realize the following goals:

  • To spend more time alone with God in prayer and the study of His Word

  • More quality time with my aged parents

  • An hour in the gym every week day (either before work or at lunch time)

  • Less time on Facebook

  • Less time spent in front of a television (chewing gum for the eyes)

  • A special combination vacation/40th Anniversary trip with Linda next fall.

  • Attend as many of my local grandsons ball games (and other activities) as possible

  • Make the most out of the fleeting visits with the New Orleans grandsons and family

  • Less time in the office and more quality time with Linda

  • To try to play a round of golf at least twice a month. I didn't play a single time last year. (When a guy is too busy to play golf - he's just too busy!)

  • And in my spare time - try to finish my book!

Ministry is a time and emotion consuming task. For someone like me, who borders on workaholic type personality, it can be overwhelming at times. But with God being my helper, I want to be able to spend more of the time He has given me on some of the other important concepts that also matter to Him. Two of those things are my family, and my own spiritual and physical health.

Truth of the matter is, that we do not know how many of us will still be around this time next year, to welcome the arrival of 2012. Not knowing how many days we do have, we should seek to live every day that He gives us - to the fullest.

Hope you have a happy, healthy and fruitful new year in 2011. May God bless us and use us to His glory!