Saturday, November 29, 2014

He's A Constant Reminder To Be "Latcherated"

The handsome young man pictured here is Canon Josiah Adkins.  (yep another C.J. Adkins).  Canon discovered America ten years ago today, at Oschner Medical Center in New Orleans.  On that day he was revealed to the world as the second son of Jay and Michelle Adkins, and the third grandson for Linda and I.

Every grandfather who is worth his salt loves his grandchildren and any reader of my blog or follower of my on Facebook or Instagram accounts has probably gathered that I have that characteristic, myself. I adore each of our five grandsons.  Each one so unique and special to me in different ways. Canon has a sweet loving spirit, and is tremendously gifted in musical ability and visual artistic talent. But that, alone is not what makes him so special to me.

Canon holds a special place in my life, and his birthday is always an occasion for celebration, introspection, and thanksgiving for me.  Not just because he was born just after the Thanksgiving holiday, but because of our family's  circumstances accompanying his birth.  Canon and his birthday are an important "marker" for me.

A decade ago, when Canon's birth was imminent ,Linda had flown to New Orleans to be there for the joyous occasion and to help out while Michelle was recovering from the C Section.  Little did Linda realize on that happy Monday, that just two days later, instead of caring for Jay and Michelle's family in the little parsonage on Avenue B in Westwego as planned,  she would be sitting with me in Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital here in Ashland, learning that I had a huge mass in my colon that was malignant.

A week later, my gifted Christian surgeon, Dr. Staten,  removed a three foot section of my intestines, a number of lymph nodes and took samples of my liver for biopsies.  The results of the biopsies and an accompanying MRI were staggering.  My malignancy was extremely aggressive and had metastasized from my colon to the lymph nodes and had invaded my liver with numerous tumors of various sizes. Dr. Staten told us that the malignancy had spread "all through my liver as though someone had sown grass seed".

The diagnosis was sobering.  "Stage Four.  Incurable.  Hopefully manageable for a while with aggressive chemotherapy. Average survival time, 18-22 months."

My friends know the rest of the story, and I will not take the time or space here to go into it again, but I mention it here today to give my Gracious God thanks for the wonderful medical care I received and for his His healing touch on my life.

The story doesn't end there, though.  About the time (according to the average statistics) that I was "supposed to die", at the age of two, Canon experienced an inexplicable fracture of one of the bones in his little leg.  Tests revealed the existence of a non malignant tumor in the bone. At that young age, this little guy had to endure a surgery to remove the tumor and get used to life in a cast and a wheel chair or pint sized walker.  Over the next four years Canon suffered a couple of other fractures to the bone and had a total of four more surgeries on the leg along with several bone grafts.

The little guy had a number of casts, special boots, used a little wheel chair and child sized walker off and on for four of the first six years of his life.  Finally, the doctor at New Orleans Children's Hospital pronounced that Canon's leg was sound.  The final bone graft had "taken" and that Canon could take part in any of  the physical activities that any 6 year old boy might want to do. His tumor has never returned.

One of my favorite stories about Canon involved when he was in the midst of his four year ordeal.  He had been working on some type of art work with crayons on a piece of paper in the family's living room.  With the paper in his hand, he limped into the kitchen where Michelle was working on dinner and called for her attention.

She stopped what she was doing and cast a look his way,  He pretended to be reading from the paper and said, "Our Agent Code is 'Latcherated'!"
""Latcherated?" Michelle said.  "What does that mean?"
 Canon, with a serious look on his face tacitly announced, "Never give up!"
With that, he turned and limped out of the kitchen to go back to his activities.

Over these past 10 years, Canon and I have both learned the importance of being "Latcherated".

I am still under the care of Oncologist Dr. Kirti Jain at the Ashland Bellefonte Cancer Center. I have my medi port flushed and lab work eone every three months.  I have scans done now once or twice a year (as opposed to quarterly like we use to do). I see Dr. Jain or his assistant three times a year.  He still resists giving me the status of "Cancer Free", but I remind him on each visit that one day I will, indeed, be cancer free. Only 15% of people with my type of cancer survive for five years, and yet, 10 years later, by God's grace I am still here, working every day, and enjoying watching my (now) FIVE grandsons grow into wonderful young men.

Whenever I see Canon's smiling face, and note how much he has grown, I am reminded of how much God has blessed me with 8 "bonus years" beyond my prognosis.  The tears of joy flow freely, and I thank Him for His blessings to me.

Lord willing, on Monday evening, I'll be taking Canon and his family out to "The Joint" for a belated birthday Barbecue dinner for "my little marker" and will share a special evening with the one who has helped teach me the joy of being  "Latcherated" .

Happy birthday little buddy.  See you Monday!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Are You A Good Soldier?

Next week we celebrate Veteran's Day here in the United States of America. It is a day set aside to honor our men and women who have served in the armed forces of our nation. Originally known as Armistice Day, the holiday was created to remember the Armistice agreement signed between Kaiser Wilhelm's German Army commanders and the leaders of the Allied Forces, which brought an end to World War I. The truce was signed 90 years ago this week on November 11, 1918, on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month".

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed the proclamation which changed the name of the holiday to Veteran's Day, honoring veterans of all wars - not just World War I.

At this time of year when we recognize and honor those who have served our country in military service, we can also draw parallels between the qualities of a member of the military who serves honorably, and those of us who are "soldiers of the cross". 

In 2 Timothy 2: 3-4  the Apostle Paul writes to the young pastor Timothy. Paul writes, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier".

When one thinks about the qualities that make a good soldier - we should apply them to our lifestyle as a disciplined follower of Jesus Christ.

A Good Soldier is a Follower! This implies a relationship. Paul refers to us as being enlisted as soldiers for Jesus Christ. It also implies an soldier's understanding of rank. Each of us have our own place in formation. We understand our tasks. There are some who are under our responsibility and there are those who are over us. This also impliesrule. We understand that in the service, we are called to follow orders. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

A Good Soldier is Faithful. He must exhibit patience. Paul reminds us that we "must endure hardship as a good soldier. That patience comes from understanding ourpriorities. Our first priority is to "please the one who enlisted us". The soldier must thenpractice these principles of honor.

A Good Soldier is Familiar. He is familiar with the sound of the commander's voice. He knows those who outrank him and he follows their orders implicitly. He is also isfamiliar with the use of his weapon. Today's military has many sophisticated weapon systems but in the first century weapons of warfare were pretty basic. So is the equipment for the Christian Soldier. The Bible indicates our weaponry in the spiritual warfare in which we are enlisted. The whole armor of God starts with being gird about with Truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel footwear, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6: 10-18). The Christian Soldier is also familiar with the strategy of the enemy and the strength of his comrades. We must be aware of the enemy and his strategy (2 Cor. 11:14 and 1 Peter 5:8-9). Like the military soldier, the Christian Soldier should be linked closely with his comrades in arms. We work as a unit, and in the heat of battle, no one should ever be left behind.

The Good Soldier is a Fighter. Our first General Order was, "I am an American fighting man. I am prepared to give my life for my country". A good soldier is determined to win the battle. He is driven by his devotion to his country and his commitment to following the orders of his superior officers. He is dedicated to the cause. Are we truly determined, dedicated, and driven in our service to our Lord? He deserves no less!

The Good Soldier is a Finisher. When my father joined the Navy in World War II, his agreed term of service was "for the duration, plus six months". He knew he would not be putting down his arms until the conflict was over. The good soldier has the resolve to finish the work. He has reason to do so. The primary reason is because it is his duty, but another great reason for finishing well is his reward. This is the reward of a job well done. Often medals and ribbons are given the military man for his service and valor. There is a special reward that the Christian Soldier can expect at the end of the war. Paul puts it this way in 2 Timothy 4: 7-8, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me on that day, and not to me only, but to all those who love His appearing."

Have you enlisted? Are you a Good Soldier for the Lord? The pay may not put you in the top tax bracket, but the retirement plan and benefits are "out of this world"!

I'll be preaching this Sunday morning at Wesmoreland Baptist Church in Huntington, about the "Qualities Of A Good Soldier"..  I'll use these two verses, as well as verses 8-13 to go more in depth to this subject.  If you don't have a home church, let me invite you to worship with us.  We're located at 3401 Hughes Street in Huntington, WV.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Exercise Your Franchise

Today, all across America, we citizens have the privilege that would make us the envy of millions of people around the globe.  We have the constitutionally protected right to go to the polling place and cast our ballot in free elections, devoid of government oppression or undue influence.

This morning I voted in the Elmwood-Hilltop precinct at the spot in the Charles Russell Elementrary School gymnasium, where I have voted in every election since we moved to Ashland, KY in April, 1980.

No one in power told me who I had to vote for, and unlike in  many totalitarian regimes, I had a choice. With the exception of two or three local offices there were two candidates from which to choose.  In most every case there was even opportunity to write in a candidate's name, if I was dissatisfied with the candidates presented on the ballot.  In my voting lifetime, I have been a registered Democrat, and I have been a registered Republican.  10 years ago, I decided that while I hold very strong political views, that I would not be officially tied to any political party, and I changed my registration to Independent.

I have always made it a practice to vote across party lines, with one exception.  One time (and one time only) I voted a straight party ticket.  There were reasons for how I cast my vote in that election, but as I said, that was only once, and it happened many years ago.

My voting decisions, in the privacy of the voting booth are not based on political or religious affiliations. They are not based on endorsements of a union, or church leader, or business group or PAC. They are not based on personality, charisma, or attractiveness of a candidate.  They are most certainly not made based on the shameful negative attack ads that flood the airwaves and my mailbox insulting my intelligence as an informed voter. My choices are based on a thoughtful and prayerfully considered conclusion based on my biblical world view, and a study of the issues and the candidates stated beliefs and track record.  As an American citizen I consider the economy.  I consider domestic issues.  I consider foreign policy.  I consider local issues, and basic human rights. Again, all as an outgrowth in in concert with my personal faith in Christ, who has called us believers to be salt and light in this world.

I hold dual citizenship.  Temporarily here in the greatest country on Earth and permanently in the Kingdom of God.  They are not the same thing, and they are not mutually exclusive, and I cherish them both.

I do not take my vote lightly, nor the privilege of having this opportunity.  Our founders ordained it.  There had to be course corrections along the way to grant equality among citizens to guarantee the right to vote to all Americans.  It's something that needs eternal vigilance to correct.inequities in voting rights whenever the need arises.

Why?  Because our Constitution grants it.  Because men and women have laid down their lives to purchase those rights, and to preserve them.

I wasn't happy this morning with every choice I had, but I was happy to HAVE a choice and the opportunity to be one guy blessed to have the right to cast my ballot.

If you are registered, I hope you have or will vote today.  If you are not registered, PLEASE, by all means, get to the court house tomorrow as soon as the books open again, and register to vote.

It's a privilege that millions would give their lives to have.

Take a moment to thank God you live in the greatest nation on Earth.  It's the best.  But it can be better.  Exercise your franchise.  Vote!.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Special Month For Giving Thanks

November is a special month to me in many ways.  I have always loved November.

Obviously November is “Thanksgiving month”, and I do have much to be thankful for – every  month, but certainly in November.

First there are the wonderful memories of growing up as part of a family who loved to get together at Thanksgiving time.  In our family, as I was growing up, we would generally drive to Mamaw and Papaw Stidham’s house in Logan, WV to celebrate the holiday with our Stidham cousins who lived close by, and some years with our Wilson cousins, who were able to come in from Texas.  It was always a joyous time, with a great Turkey and Ham feast, lots of fun for the kids to play together, and lots of laughter for the adults.

As my grandparents passed from the scene, and Linda and I were raising a family of our own, the holiday destination became “Hatfield and McCoy” territory along the WV/KY border at the home of her parents in Buskirk, KY.  Their large family would gather in, with some traveling hundreds of miles to be together at Thanksgiving.  Great food, fun and fellowship was the order of the day. Then, we would then usually celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday a day later with my Mom and Dad in Huntington.

Last Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad had dinner with us at our house in Ashland.  This year they are both with the Lord.

Those days are long gone now, but I cherish the memories more than I ever thought I might.

November also is the month when we celebrate the birthday of our 3rd Grandson, Canon, who was born in New Orleans in 2004.

Concurrent with his birth, it was also the very same week that I was diagnosed as having “Stage 4, Incurable Colon Cancer”.  My life changed drastically on that Monday after Thanksgiving, 2004.  We were told that the “average survival time” for my type of cancer and the stage it was in was 18 – 22 months.  Statistics showed that only 15 percent of patients in my category survive for five years.

This month I will celebrate my 10th year of survival.  Praise God for the miraculous healing He has granted me!

November is also the month when I was called in 2002 to serve the congregation of Westmoreland Baptist Church as Pastor.  Now, after twelve years, a cancer diagnosis, partial amputations, more than 1800 sermons, 21 weddings, 108 baptisms, countless hospital, nursing home, and other visits, and 140 funerals, I am still blessed to be the longest serving pastor in the ninety nine year history of this church.  The twelve years I have served this congregation have been the most precious of my 64 years on the planet,.

I am obviously thankful for my wonderful wife, children and grandchildren.  For my home, for my health, for my many friends, for opportunity to serve the state convention as president for two terms, for the opportunity to serve on the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees for eight years, for the 13 short term mission trips I have been able to make to the Philippines, as well as Disaster Relief trips and mission work in Canada.  I am thankful that I have had opportunity to serve the Lord in several churches in Kentucky and West Virginia, and to continue to serve what I believe to be the greatest church with the most precious people anywhere.  I am thankful for the fine staff members whom I have served along side of for these past twelve years.

I am thankful for a life of blessing as well as the challenges that came with them.

But I am most thankful for the personal relationship I have with the Sovereign God of the Universe, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  He has forgiven my sins… given me an abundant life of joy and peace here… and reserved a home in Glory, for me, FOREVER.

Yep.  I’m ready to celebrate Thanksgiving – on the specific holiday later this month – and the other 364 days of the year as well!

How about you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Patsy Adkins 1929-2014

Although we had my older son, Jay, bring the message at Mom's Funeral Service this past Sunday, each of Mom's three sons took a few minutes to share a few words regarding our Mom.  As the oldest of the three of us, I went first.  Here are the words that I shared:

Psalm 11:12-15  What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

We have gathered today to celebrate the life and to rejoice in the home going of a beloved Mother, Sister, Grandmother, Aunt, Great Grandmother, and Friend.

Patsy Ruth Stidham Adkins was born May 23, 1929 in Ethel, (Logan Co) West Virginia, the eldest of  five children of the late Jerry E. and Mary Sommerville Stidham.  She departed this life from Huntington Health and Rehabilitation on Tuesday morning, October 7, 2014.  Her time on this earth was 85 years, 4 months, and  14 days.  She now dwells in the House of the Lord forever.

In addition to her parents, she was also preceded in death only 104 days ago by her husband, Rev. Caudle Adkins, Jr. who passed away only one week from their 65th wedding anniversary.

Mom was also preceded in death by a sister, Hester Lucinda Stidham and two brothers,
(infant) Charles “Buddy” Stidham and Jerry Robert Stidham.

Mom graduated from Logan High School in 1947 and immediately entered the work force, as a payroll clerk in the offices of Island Creek Coal Company.  When she and Dad moved to Huntington in 1952, she was a stay at home Mom, raising her thee boys and looking after the needs of her family.  In the 1970’s she returned to work, managing the medical office of Dr. Beckett Martin.  She later worked in the office of Hoffman Urological Clinic and finally as a clerk at Niermann’s Pharmacy in our old neighborhood.

Mom trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior as a young girl back in Logan County, and faithfully followed Christ for more than 7 decades.  She supported Dad in his pastoral and evangelistic work, and served her church as a Sunday School Teacher and Vacation Bible School teacher.  Although she never had any daughters, Mom served as a mentor to many girls and young ladies over the years and was a surrogate mother to a some.

She is survived by her younger sister, Dori Wilson and her husband, Vern, of Houston, TX.

Mom is also survived by by my two brothers and their wives, Bruce (Sandi) Adkins of Huntington, Carl (Sarah) Adkins of Atlanta, GA, and Linda and myself.

Also surviving are 6 Grandchildren:
·        Jay Adkins and wife, Michelle of New Orleans, LA
·        Benji Adkins and wife, Leigh Anne of Ashland, KY
·        Joshua Adkins
·        Caleb Adkins (both of Huntington)
·        Kate and Alex Adkins, students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL

Five Great Grandchildren
·        Quint Adkins
·        Will Adkins
·        Canon Adkins
·        Asher Adkins
·        Nathaniel Adkins

Two Step Grandchildren:
·        Merle (Erica) Wooten of Huntington
·        Lea (James) Dalton of Hurricane, WV

Six step great grandchildren
·        Amber, Katie & Austin Wooten
·        Wesley, Ethan, and Olivia Dalton

Mom is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews, a large family of brothers and sisters in Christ, and a special friend, Alice Davis.

On behalf of our family, I would like to thank you all for your attendance here today, for your many expressions of sympathy and love, and we would also like to thank the staff of Huntington Health and Rehab for their wonderful care for her for these past 10 months. We would also like to thank the staff of Chapman’s Mortuary for their kind assistance to our family twice in the last 3 months.

It is natural for us to cling to this body, because it is hard to disassociate it from the one who lived in it.. who nurtured and raised us and sacrificed for us.  But in reality, it is only the worn out garment that Mom cast aside on Tuesday morning when she went to be with her Lord.

My Mother was a wonderful, godly woman.  There is no way I could put 64 years of memory and appreciation into words today.  I thank God that she was my mother.

Like Abraham Lincoln I would simply say today, “All that I am or ever will be, I owe to my Angel Mother”.

I think Mom’s 85 years could be simply summed up in two words.  Faith and Family

She was the best person I have ever known, but if she were here today she would shun the spotlight.  She would simply say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace”.

I miss her and thank God that she is now living in total clarity, in a land where we’ll never grow old, and in the presence of her Lord and Savior.  

This is not goodbye Mom, but only farewell for a little while.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Two Dollars And A Swaller

I guess politics is in my blood.

As a Pastor, I have been convicted about bringing politics into the pulpit.
Not moral issues.
Not biblical issues.
But partisan politics.
You know what I'm talking about. "God is on our side!" "No! He's on our side!"

I have often said "Almighty God does not ride on the back of Elephants or Donkeys, but the last time I said that, Deacon Jim Lackey said "Well, He did one time."  OK. Point made.

Giving props to Palm Sunday, I still stand by my commitment to keep partisan bickering out of the pulpit.
That is hard for me, because my flesh loves it so.  As I said it seems that it is in my blood,

Both of my grandfathers were "New Deal" Democrats.

One ran for, and won public office. He served two terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing Logan Co. In later years he was a lobbyist for the United Mine Workers of America, where he courted all of the Democrat movers and shakers in the Mountain State.

The other was also active in Democrat politics, but in a very different way.  He never ran for office in his native Lincoln County, WV, but he was deeply involved in electing those from his party who did,

Papaw Adkins (Caudle Adkins, Sr.) was a faithful foot soldier for his party in Lincoln Co.  So deep were his Democratic ties, that he even had a German Shepherd named Rex, whom he had taught to sit silently when asked if he were a Republican and to bark loudly when asked "Rex, are you a Democrat?"

This drove his GOP mother in law, from neighboring Wayne Co, crazy.

Testifying to his devotion to the party, during the Great Depression, he was rewarded with a supervisory position on the Works Projects Administration (WPA).

Lincoln County was, and sadly still is, a hotbed of political shenanigans.  As recently as a few years ago, several county officials not only were removed from office for voting irregularities, but also went to prison.

Dad told me once about a time when he was a young boy living in the county seat.  On the night before local elections, he went with Papaw on a "get out the vote project" of sorts.  Dad remembered his father having several crates of small liquor bottles in the trunk of his Ford, and a huge roll of Two Dollar bills in his pocket. They traveled up one hollow after another, stopping from house to house, leaving a bottle and a $2.00 bill for any registered voter who promised to cast his vote for the slate of candidates backed by the county party machine.

Word is that the next day, there was a party official at each precinct who checked each ballot cast by the recipients of the Two Dollars and a Swaller before they went into the ballot box.  If the voter had upheld his end of the transaction, the poll worker would signal a thumbs up to a guy who was lurking around the polling place.  That thumbs up went a long way toward getting gravel on your road when needed before winter.

Dad often told of driving up one creek or another and seeing new gravel along a stretch of road in front of some houses, and just rutted, muddy, ungraveled roadway in front of the homes of those who would have had the nerve to go against the slate.

Apparently there were even dead people who often cast ballots in the Lincoln Co elections back in the day.

It occurs to me that politics hasn't really changed much here in the mountains of West Virginia and eastern Kentucky since the 30's..  Technology has advanced, but money still plays a big role in politics.  If you don't believe that, then you haven't had a television on for a while.

Money still speaks volumes in elections.  I don't know what the cost of a vote would be today, but it appears to be much higher now that "Two Dollars and a Swaller" of my Dad's day.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Just When I Needed It Most

I never cease to be amazed at how our Lord knows exactly what we need, and how He often uses others to encourage us - just when we need it most.

It was the last day of April of this year.  Without going into all the details, let me just say that I was going through a very dark and difficult time in my life and ministry.  Frustration.  Depression. Discouragement.  You've probably been there.

When the mail arrived, there were the usual bills, junk mail, etc. Mixed in with the other stuff, was the card you see pictured here.
It came from a young wife and mother whom I had known since she was in 1st or 2nd grade.  Her parents were old friends of ours and our sons had played baseball together from Little League through High School and Summer Ball.

I hadn't seen the young lady for a number of years.  We were friends on Facebook, so I have been able to keep up with her and her growing young family.  She had married a young man who had been in the youth group at a former church I served as Pastor many years ago.  He had accepted Christ and had a real desire to serve the Lord in his life.  I had not seen either of them in a number of years, yet "out of the blue" at a time when I was beginning to feel "what's the use?", this card comes in the mail.

I am not using their names, as I have not asked her permission to do so, but here is what the young lady had written on the inside:

I'm going to steal a line from a song I'm sure you have heard many times. "Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed." 
I'm not sure if you know what an impact you had on my husband's life.
You were such a strong, Christian role model in _______'s teen age years.  Under your ministry he became a Christian. As a direct result of your ministry I have a Christian husband.  My girls have a Christian father.
He is a leader, serving in our church.,  He is respected at his work and is known as being a man of integrity and character. That is all a direct result of your example in his life.
Although it has been a long time since either of you were at Ashland Baptist, __________ still respects your teaching of the Word and refers back to things you have preached or taught.
I don't believe in coincidence and I think it is amazing that a man who has known my family my whole life is also the man who led another man at a different time in life to the Lord!
It is an assurance to me that God is always working in our lives, even when we don't see it!
Again, I just wanted to take a minute and let you know that we love and appreciate you and Linda and are forever grateful for your ministry and friendship.  Phil. 1:3 "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."
                                             In Christ's Love,

Well, let me tell you this.  By the time I got to the end of the note I could barely read it for the tears welling up in my eyes.

I hadn't had much contact with either of these folks in a number of years, yet God used this young lady to minister to me in such a tremendous way.

I began to think about how God put it on her heart a couple of days earlier to send this card and write that beautiful note, and drop it in the mail so I would receive it when I was at my lowest point in years! As Dr. Chuck Kelley would say, "To coin an ancient Hebrew expression, WOW!"

I immediately wrote her a private message on Facebook to thank her, and here is the exchange.

Dear ________,
I received your beautiful card and note yesterday afternoon. You cannot imagine what it meant to me especially with what I was going through at the time. Our God used you to bless and encourage me when I needed it most. Thanks for being attuned to His Spirit and being used by Him to encourage this old preacher.
I love you guys and am humbled that The Lord allowed me to be part of His plan for your lives, Oh how He loves us!

Here is her reply:
I can't express to you how strongly God had put you on my heart to send it....and how much the devil has been on my back since!! He does love us!! Have a blessed day

Isn't it interesting how she said God had put me so strongly on her heart ?
She had no idea of the valley I was walking through at the time.

Isn't it also interesting how Satan had hit her so hard for being obedient to the Father?

What a wonderful Lord we serve. He knows us. He loves us. And He's there just when we need Him the most.

Circumstances actually got worse for me over the next two months, but God used this young lady and her note to help remind me that it hasn't been in vain. My spirits were raised, and His Spirit helped carry me through the next two months with the joy that comes from knowing Him.

Thank you, Lord for using this young lady to bless me and minister to my spirit, when I needed it so badly.

And thank you _____________ for being obedient to His Spirit.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Called To Serve

We find the need for deacons (servants) in the church arose in the early days of the church in Jerusalem in the 1st Century. As you can see, from the scripture passage below from the book of Acts, chapter 6, the seven men selected, were chosen for the purpose of serving to make sure the material  needs of all of the widows in the church were met.

Even though the Greek word "diakonos" (attendant or servant) is not used here it is important to note that these men were chosen to be servants of the church, and not the "governing board" of the church, nor are they anywhere referred to as pastors, bishops, overseers, or elders. The job description is simple and straightforward.

We see that the Apostles gave instructions as to the qualifications of the men to be chosen. They were quite simple as well - they were to select men with:
* A good reputation
* A Spirit filled life
* Wisdom
* (and, by implication) A heart and willingness to serve

Seven men were chosen and "ordained" to do the work.

The results were that a divisive issue in the church was settled, the pastors (Apostles) were freed up spend more time in prayer and the ministry of the Word, and most importantly, the "word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith".


Here is how Luke reported it in the Scriptures:

(1) Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. (2) And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. (3) Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. (4) But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (5) And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. (6) These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:1b-7(ESV)

Now, in Paul's first letter to Timothy (chapter 3) he points out the qualifications for Bishops and for Deacons. The are listed here and rather easily understood.

(8) Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. (9) They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. (10) And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. (11) Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (12) Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. (13) For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:8b-13(ESV)

Since the office of Deacon itself is a servant position we should be reminded that servants are not chosen to be exalted or honored. Their duty is to humbly do those lowly jobs that need to be done, but not to receive glory, power or position. However, Notice that verse 13 does tell of the reward for faithfully fulfilling the office.
"For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus."

I thank God for humble men who are willing to serve God through the local church when their church calls, and for men who realize they are called to "wait tables" not to "manage the restaurant".

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tension Breaker. Had To Be Done.

My brothers and I were in Dad's house the day after his funeral. The place was just as he had left it when I had picked him up that morning, just five weeks earlier to take him to see his doctor over some breathing problems he had been having.  It would be the last time he would ever be in his home of 62 years. It was an eerie feeling, looking over all of Dad's belongings. So many things that he had accumulated - each of them valuable to him (if no one else).

In a corner of the front bedroom I came across this model of Joan C. Edwards Stadium, the home of Dad's beloved Marshall University Thundering Herd.  Dad was a season ticket holder there for many years and he loved the game day experience.

The memories came back in a torrent when I remembered the first time I had ever seen the little replica of "The Joan".

It was early December, 2004 and I was a patient at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Ashland, KY.  Four days earlier I had gone through extensive abdominal surgery.  A colonoscopy two weeks earlier had revealed a large mass in my right ascending colon. Dr, Warrier, who had done the test told us that it was likely that the mass was malignant, and that we should see a surgeon immediately.  Within a week, Dr. Staten had done my surgery.  He told me that he had removed about three feet of my colon.  He told me that he had seen some suspicious spots on my liver, had biopsied them, and also removed several lymph nodes for biopsies as well.  Plus, he said, while in there he removed my appendix.

Now, four days later I was beginning to feel much better as I recovered from the surgery.  I had been up walking that day, and I was hoping to go home in a couple of days. Even though we knew we were probably going to be dealing with cancer, we were still waiting for the results of the pathology reports and were optimistic that the malignancy was still contained in the colon.

I had several visitors that day.  Linda was there with me (she had rarely left my side since the operation).  My son, Benji's in laws, Lance and Linda Clanton had come by to see me, and Mom and Dad had driven down from Huntington to see me for the first time since the surgery.

Dad had brought with him his brand new prized possession - the scale model of Marshall Stadium that had come as a surprise gift from Mom's sister, Dori, in Houston.  She knew how much he loved the Herd and had ordered the keepsake for him as a surprise gift.  Dad proudly pointed out to the Clantons where his seats were located, and we talked about the good times we had experienced in that place.

While they were all there, my family doctor, John Darnell, came in to see me.  On this occasion, however, he had two nurses with him. Normally he made his rounds alone.  We exchanged pleasantries and introductions of the visitors and he asked how I was feeling. We talked about the fact that I would probably be discharged in a couple of days.

"Any questions?" he asked.

"Yes" I said.  "When will we find out the results of the pathology tests?  Will Dr. Staten give me the report, or will you, or what?"

Dr Darnell looked around the room uncomfortably. "I can give you the results now if you like..." he said quietly.  Again he gave an uncomfortable look around the room at the visitors who were there.

"These folks are all family" I replied. "They can hear whatever I hear".

"Well" he said, after clearing his throat and looking at the chart he carried in his hand.  "The mass in your colon was malignant. Also the biopsies of your liver and lymph nodes showed that the cancer has spread to other areas of your body.  You have a very aggressive form of cancer. You are in Stage 4, and it is incurable."

I heard a short gasp escape Linda's lips.  Everyone else was totally silent.

I remember thinking, so this is what if feels like when they tell you "you're going to die". Here I was,  only 54 years old, and I had just come face to face with my mortality, and I felt nothing. Just numb.

The silence was deafening.

It seemed like forever. No one said a word. The Doctor sat quietly waiting for me to ask the obvious question (how long do I have?) but the words just didn't come.

More silence.

Then from the other side of my bed I heard my Dad's voice. "Hey Doc!  Look what my sister in law sent me from Texas!" he said holding up the stadium model.

Dr. Darnell's reaction was priceless. His head snapped toward Dad, and with a puzzled look on his face, said weakly, "Yeah. That's nice.".

I've thought a thousand times what he and those nurses must have thought.  "I've just told this guy he's going to die, and his Dad wants to show me a stadium replica!"  They probably thought he was crazy, but anyone who knows my Dad, knows exactly what he was doing.

Tension breaker.Had to be done!

It worked.  I snapped back to reality and asked the Doctor what comes next.  He said we need to get you with an Oncologist.  Although the diagnosis was "incurable", hopefully my life could be prolonged for a few months with chemotherapy treatments. I quickly asked if I could see Dr. Kirti Jain, and Darnell told me he would get that arranged, and he quickly exited the room.

It was a typical Caudle Adkins moment.

Although the situation was serious, the silence was broken, the mood was lightened.

It wasn't that Dad didn't didn't grasp the gravity of the situation. Nor did he think that little stadium replica was that important.  I was his oldest son.  His namesake.  His colleague in ministry. He understood completely, and I'm sure his heart was broken to hear what we had just heard.

However, Dad just had the gifts of common sense, discernment, and the ability to defuse any tense situation with his down home sense of humor.

That stadium replica sits in my office at the church today.

I cherish the memory of my Dad's actions on the day I heard the worst news of my life.

I miss him so much, and I thank God every day that I was blessed to be raised by Caudle and Patsy Adkins. I'm thankful for the priceless memories I have of him.

I love you Dad, and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jack Hollan...One Of A Kind!

Today I have the opportunity and privilege to deliver the eulogy at Second Baptist Church of Ashland, KY for the funeral service of my long time friend and neighbor Jack Hollan. One of my great joys was leading Jack to the Lord Jesus Christ on August 31, 2012, and the blessing of helping his pastor, Ed Caudill baptize Jack.  The following post are the notes I will be using. I hope it will be a fitting tribute to a good and decent man, and a blessing to his family.

Jack Hollan was one of a kind.  He was an original.  He was a fixture in the community, and he will be missed. He was the neighbor who was always dependable.
·        He was the guy who was always aware of what was going on in the neighborhood and in the town in general.  (I called him the mayor of east Ashland)
·        He was the guy who always had the tool you needed, and was glad to loan it to you, or even to use it himself while helping you with your project. 
·        He’s the guy who always had a project going himself, whether it was a remodeling project in the house, or manicuring his lawn. (he had the best little lawn on 49th street.  The rest of us just had “yards”).
  • He’s the guy who had a strong opinion on just about everything, and would share it with you at the drop of a hat. (and when necessary, he would supply the hat!)
  • He’s the guy who had a distain for those who could work, but wouldn’t, but he would go out of his way to help or even employ folks who were willing to work to try to better themselves.
  • He’s the guy who always had time for the kids or the elderly people in our neighborhood. And they loved him for it.
  • He’s the guy who loved politics.  We had many political discussions over the years.  We were almost always in agreement on issues regarding our city and local government.  But I would guess that we cancelled out each other’s votes for President in every election since 1980!
  • He’s the guy who always had a story to tell about his daughters and His grandchildren.
  • He’s the guy who loved his family more than anything on Earth.

It was that family that motivated Jack.  While he worked hard to support them financially, he and Doris both poured their lives into their four girls and each of them bear the indelible imprint of their parents.  Jack shared his knowledge with the girls and encouraged them to gain all the formal education available, but above that he shared his common sense and his wisdom.  There is no doubt in my mind that he loved Doris, Linda, Debbie, Jenny, and Laura with all his heart. He supported the girls in their activities and he doted on each grandchild. 

Jack lost his mother at an early age. And although he and his siblings grew up with the love of the remaining family,  It was a loss he felt deeply for the remainder of his life.  I’m thankful that about 2 years ago came to peace over it when he trusted Christ as his Savior right there in his living room. I believe the impact of the loss he experienced as a child helped forge him into the fine “family man” that he became.

Over the past 34 years, I knew Jack to be a man of character and integrity.  His word was his bond. He couldn’t abide a thief or a liar and he could spot a phony a mile away!  He had a deep sense of fair play, and he had compassion for the down trodden. If you were a political candidate or a government official, he could be your best friend, or your worse nightmare! When I served in elected office and as a volunteer on boards in the city, I often sought out Jack’s opinion and advice and I valued it.

He boldly stood up and was willing to fight for what he thought was right and for the good of our community, such as working to keep neighborhood schools, fighting Pollution from the Coke Plant, advocating for a neighborhood crime watch, fighting with CSX for a quiet zone for the railroad, and battling the guy from Huntington who wanted to put in the adult bookstore on the corner lot.

He lived his life at a high moral code, but much like Jesus said to the Rich Young Ruler we read about in the scriptures, there was “one thing he lacked” and that was the most important thing to every human. A personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6)

I am thankful that on the last day of August Jack took care of that “one thing”.  He surrendered his will to God’s will and accepted Jesus as his Savior.  What a joy it was for me to be able to help Bro. Eddie Caudill baptize Jack right here at 2nd Baptist Church in full view of his family, friends, and neighbors.

I am thankful that I have had opportunity to know Jack Hollan for over half of my life and to call him my friend.

It is natural for us to cling to this body … But in reality it is only the worn out garment that Jack cast aside on Monday afternoon when he left this world and entered into the presence of the Lord.

I believe he is there today.  Not because of any good things he has done to deserve it, but because he had trusted Jesus to do for him what no one else could do.  Not a loving wife, or children. But through faith in Christ alone. I’m glad he left that testimony.

So don’t grieve as those who have no hope. Remember.  Christians will never see each other for the last time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Help Needed. You May Just Be The One God Is Calling!

Jesus told his disciples not to prohibit little children from coming to Him.  In fact He said that they should welcome the presence of little children, and to share the Good News with them.  Westmoreland Baptist Church has been attempting to do just that through Children’s Ministry on our campus at the corner of Hughes and Court Streets for the past 99 years.

We have been granted a tremendous opportunity to do just that, outside the setting of our local church.  God has richly blessed this opportunity, but we are at a point now where we need help. I believe there are some readers out there who God is preparing to step in and help us carry out a tremendous ministry to children at Central City Elementary School located in the West End of Huntington, WV.

In past years many of us have lamented judicial decisions to “take the Bible out of the public schools”.  However, through His providence, (and a ruling from the Supreme Court) God has, indeed, allowed us to take the Bible and the Good News of Jesus into the public schools through after school programs.

This September we will be beginning our second full year of reaching the children of Central City Elementary by partnering with Child Evangelism Fellowship and a neighboring church (Sunshine FWB) with a Good News Club.

We began our Good News Club during the last five weeks of the 2012-2013 school year.  In that short time we were able to minister to 10 children who stayed after school for an hour on Thursday evenings. Those kids were treated to delicious snacks, a fun time of recreation, songs, a Bible memory verse each week, along with a Bible lesson, missionary story, and a Gospel presentation.  Several children made professions of faith during those few weeks. 

Last school year we were blessed to enroll 27 children in our Good News Club.  But along with the blessing of an enrollment that nearly tripled in number, came the problem of a shortage of helpers.  For the ministry to be successful and to grow in number, we MUST enlist some new workers for the coming school year.

We desperately need to have enough helpers to split the children into two age groups. The future effectiveness and success of this ministry rests solely on God providing us with enough helpers to make this work.

The requirements and qualifications for workers and helpers are simple.  The workers must be born again followers of Jesus Christ.  They must love children, and be able to pass a criminal background check, and attend a brief training session offered by Child Evangelism Fellowship.  And they must be willing to give about an hour and a half of their time on Thursday afternoons in serving the Lord through serving these children.

Would YOU be willing to help?

You do not have to be a gifted musician or Bible teacher (although we can always use more of those), you just need to be willing to help.  Beside the obvious teaching and singing folks, we need helpers who are willing to serve in any of these other ways:
  • Refreshments
  • Games and recreation
  • Passing out materials
  • Greeting parents when they pick up the children
  • Provide a loving presence for the children during the club hour
  • Help with keeping order and attention
  • Taking care of records
  • Helping prepare materials
  • Prayer support
  • And other tasks as needs arise

We need to be there by 2:45 when school dismisses, to greet the children, and stay till the parents pick them up at 4:00.

We have had a wonderful crew of workers since day one, but during the last school one has passed away and two have had health situations that have limited their availability.

Would you be willing to help us this year? I will be glad to share more information with anyone who may be interested in being part of what God is doing at Central City.

Feel free to contact me via private message through Facebook, or by email at, or by calling the church office at 304-429-1348.  If you get voice mail, just leave a message with your name and number.  We will get back to you.

I pray that God will raise up individuals who will be willing to help in some way.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Finishing Well

This photo jumped out at me from the Facebook app on my iPad this week.Three generations of the Dyar family stood smiling in this beautiful outdoor setting.  Linda's cousin, Joyce, and her husband, Monty were a young couple I married "a few years ago" in Mingo County, WV.

In this photo the family had gathered to celebrate Monty and Joyce's 40th wedding anniversary. I smiled when I remembered that ceremony on that hot Summer afternoon when I was blessed to unite that pretty young West Virginia girl and the handsome young United States Marine from Purvis, Mississippi at a little white frame church in Sprigg, WV.

Then it hit me.

Their FORTIETH anniversary?

How could that be possible?

I remember back in the 60's when my Grandmother and Grandfather celebrated their 40th in Logan Co. WV. I remember marveling at how old they were, and how long they had been husband and wife,. 40 years!
And now I was faced with the reality that it had been 40 years since I had tied the knot for Monty and Joyce.  And further more they were not the first couple I had married, there had been several before them.

Surely I couldn't be that old - could I?

The reality is, however, that indeed I am that old.  After all, Linda and I observed our 43rd anniversary last month.  Even though I honestly don't feel any older than I did 30 years ago (except for the issues with my right foot which has been surgically diminished twice in the past 3 months), I am older than I often realize. Truth of the matter is that I am only 14 months away from Medicare!  That is a shocking reality.

It's one that I am reminded of every morning by the stranger who peers back at me from the mirror. That can't possibly be me - but alas, the truth bears witness in:
  • the lines, wrinkles and creases in the face, silently speak volumes...
  • the white hairs that now dominate my once black beard bear witness...
  • the ever increasing area of bare scalp where thick curly hair once flourished tells the story...
All serve to remind me that time passes on - it sneaks up on us, and soon we realize the true brevity of our lives.The Bible is full of reminders of how quickly our years pass.
  • Job 7: 6  "My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle..."
  • Psalm 90:5-6 "... In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers."
  • Psalm 90; 9-10  "... we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away..."
  • 1 Peter 1:24  “...All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man[a] as the flower of the grass. The grass withers,And its flower falls away..."
  • James 4:14  "... For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."  
Now, that being said, please understand that I am NOT planning my funeral services just yet.  With the recent passing of my 87 year old father, and other aforementioned reminders, I am just stating the fact that for each of us, time is marching on and there is no turning back the clock.

When I was a boy growing up on Gallaher Street in southeast Huntington, WV back in the 50's, there were several multigenerational families in our neighborhood.  Often there was a grandfather living in the home with a family, or next door to them.  The elderly men in the family were usually known as "Old Man (so and so)".  It wasn't a term used disrespectfully, but rather, one of honor and affection.  On our street alone we had "Old Men" Black, Midkiff, Dick, Osborne, and Adkins.

After Dad's funeral service last week, it hit me that I am now the patriarch of our Adkins clan. Suddenly (it seems) I am now "Old Man Adkins".  I'm the old guy with 44 years in pastoral ministry (longest in ministry in our association).  I'm the old guy with grandchildren in High School.  I'm the old guy who has lived on my street longer than anyone else except a couple who are in their late 80's.  I'm the guy who realizes that I don't have nearly as many years left as I have seen pass.

I'm not ready to lie down and die.  After all, I am a 10 year survivor of "incurable" fourth stage colon cancer that had permeated my liver and was in several lymph nodes when discovered.  

I'm not ready to quit.  I hope to remain in active ministry at least 6 or 7 more years, if God gives me the health to do so.

So what shall I do?

According to psalmist I need to be aware of my status and follow this sage advice, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalm 90:12)

My prayer is that I might finish well.

I can look back over the years that have slipped up on me unawares and see times of victory.  I can also see time of defeat.  But the saddest thing I see are missed opportunities, seasons of complacency, and lack of a sense of urgency.  That's why I want to "Redeem the time".  I can't get any of it back, but I can surely be resolved to make the most of the days, months and years that God may still have reserved for my time of service to him.

Like Paul of old, who wrote in Philippians 3:10-14, I want my resolve to be as follows:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Old Man Adkins is making that commitment today.

My Dad was fond of an old country style gospel song that contained these words:

"Time has made a change in the old home place.
Time has made a change in each smiling face.
And I know my friends can plainly see,
Time has made a change in me."

My prayer, as I head down the home stretch, is that the change my friends may see in me, would not be the limp in my walk, the stoop of my shoulders, the wrinkles in my brow and the balding gray hairs of my head. I pray that the change they see in me will be the commitment to finish well.
The commitment to follow Jesus more closely and magnify him in my life.
The commitment to be about my Father's business and advance the cause of God's Kingdom until He calls me home.

Will you join me?