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?