Letting Our Faith Show

by Rev Robert A Wendel

Faith is defined as,” Putting trust in God as the basis for a system of unshakable religious convictions and beliefs.” For Christians, faith is an ‘action word.’ The best way to explain faith is to do it.

James the Apostle, brother of Jesus, wrote, “ I will show you my faith by my deeds”(2:18,CNT).  Compassion, service to humanity and seeking justice for others are hallmarks of a Christian life. As the Sunday school song says, “They’ll know we’re Christians by our love, by our love.”

Here are two examples from professional baseball:

Since 1939, our national game has recognized its stars and behind the scenes heroes by giving each a plaque in its Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York.  The citation on the wall for former Dodger general manager Branch Rickey, finishes with, “ brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers in 1947.”

Until April of that year, pro baseball had two groupings, the all-White National and American Leagues and several Negro Leagues.  From 1869 until 1947 no Black players were in the dugouts of National or American Major League clubs. It took courage to change the country’s game.

Mr.  Rickey, a cigar smoking, bow tie wearing, devote Methodist layman, “made a vow before God that if he had the opportunity to correct this injustice, he would do it, knowing that, his choice would endure awful indignities. ”Jackie Robinson had guts enough to ‘turn the other check’, while facing numerous insults from fans and other players. But the color line was finally broken. The path to racial justice in the sport was made smooth by love and passive resistance.

Then there was the time in 1957 when the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing a regular season game and home plate umpire Stan Landes ejected Pirate pitcher Vern Law, from the game though he was not pitching that afternoon saying, “There was a lot of abusive language coming from both benches and I didn’t think that Law, an elder  the Mormon Church, should have to hear it.” Can your neighbors see your faith?

On Saturday September 10th at 8:00AM, our deacons will hold another Men’s Breakfast.  Rev Mark Stover, a retired prison chaplain from Crab Orchard Baptist will bring the morning message.   This Fall, plan to support or be involved in one or two ministry opportunities encouraged by our Church.

ABW September Update

by Norma Gunter

The American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus circle program for September is See…the Peace of Christ.  The scripture is Isaiah 58:12, John 20: 19-23, 26.  “The International Day of Peace falls in September; this can serve as inspiration to explore the peace of Christ in our own lives (John) and to see how we are called to be repairers of the breach and restorers of the streets we live in (Isaiah).  We might name this month’s ministry experience ‘Seeing beyond Brokenness,’ for it offers activities that will help women and girls to look at peace in new ways and assist them in seeing areas for spiritual and personal growth.”

One way our ladies can see areas of spiritual and personal growth is through our West Virginia Baptist Women’s Ministries Spiritual Growth Retreat September 23-25, 2016 at the Parchment Valley Conference Center.  The theme, “Pattern of Living…Following God’s pattern for our lives by living according to His word.” The scripture, Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Workshops planned are:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Philippine Mission Trip
  • Crafts (bring colorful seamless t-shirt and scissors)
  • Leadership Academy
  • Pattern of Prayer
  • Book Review (purchase book/read and be ready for  discussion)
  • “Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children” by Linda Smith

Guest Speaker:  Kim Weaver, Executive Director, Weirton Christian Center.  Ladies most of you will remember Kim for she has spoken here at Beckley First Baptist and her ministry is supported by our women’s circles with Quarters for Grades, special projects, White Cross supplies, and gift cards.

Ladies you are also invited to sing in the retreat  choir.  Registration is due by September 2, 2016.

Another Spiritual Renewal event is the 133rd Annual Women’s Day, October 20, 2016 at the West Virginia Baptist Convention at the Gassaway Baptist Church.  The theme for the day is,  “Lord, Make Me An Instrument Of Thy Peace.”  The guest speaker is Vicki Eades.  Let’s get together and go for the day like we did last time.

Summer is Over and School has Started Again

by Debbie Vanaman

It’s hard to believe that summer is over and school has started again.  2016 has certainly been a busy year here at FBC and the fall is going to be no exception.   We officially kicked off the shoebox 2016 season a few weeks ago with a presentation to recognize our 15 year participation with Samaritan’s Purse.  What an accomplishment.    Each year our total has topped the previous year and last year we hit an all time record of over 3,000 shoeboxes coming into our relay center from churches and organizations in the Raleigh and Fayette County area.  Praise God for all of those children who will receive the word of God, some for the first time.

Our ladies here at FBC have made some absolutely adorable teddy bears which will be going in our shoeboxes that we pack in November.  Thanks to all of you – you did an awesome job.   Our collection of items has been going strong all year but we need to do one final push in the September and October months so we can have enough items to fill the shoeboxes that the youth will be doing in November.   Our goal was to make 125 shoeboxes and your help in reaching this goal would be greatly appreciated.

For September we will be collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste & hair brushes

Finally, please keep the shoebox program as well as the entire Samaritan’s Purse organization in your prayers.  Samaritan’s Purse has been a huge help with relief efforts right here in West Virginia after the June floods and this is something that they travel around the country doing each time there is a disaster.   So it’s not just about shoeboxes – it’s about spreading God’s word and helping in a time of need.  Speaking of help – please keep collection week which is Nov. 14th to Nov. 18th open – I will be calling for help in our relay center.

CliffsNotes Living

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”   Psalm 25:5

Do you know what CliffsNotes are? You may remember them from high school or especially in college. I probably should have given them credit somewhere on my degree.  Perhaps you used them yourself or you may remember your teachers discouraging you from using them. They are those little study guides for books. Kind of condensed highlights for a book. They’ll tell you things like who the main characters are in a story, the highlights of the plot, and things like that, but they don’t give you the whole story. They give you just some of the details, not all of them.

I think sometimes we rely too much on what we’ve made into our own Christian living CliffsNotes. We develop our own condensed highlights when it comes to the Christian walk. We have a page that tells us Who Jesus is, why He came, how important He is. We’ve got a page set up for some of the main Biblical characters that we learned about perhaps when we were younger in Sunday School, but we don’t know really any more than that. We have a page in our CliffsNotes that highlights what doctrine we believe. We may even have a page of several Bible verses that we’ve memorized and have under our belt.

I think it’s great that we may know all those things and have them handy to refer to, but the problem comes when we never continue learning. If we don’t continue to learn, we miss out on the meat. We miss out on all those little intricate details that God put in His Word for us to find. Our CliffsNotes are not going to carry us through. Sure, it might be great for a guide, but we have to dig into the Word and really allow ourselves to be taught on a deeper level. I think that asking the Lord to teach us can help us get started on the road to learning more.

  • Teach Me Your Way.

“Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” Psalm 25:4
“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.” Psalm 86:11

  • Teach Me Good Judgment And Knowledge.

“Teach me good judgment and knowledge.” Psalm 119:66
” For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

  • Teach Me Your Will.

“Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143:10

  • Teach Me Your Law.

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” Psalm 119:12
“…teach me thy judgments. Psalm 119:108
“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” Psalm 119:34

  • Teach Me What To Say.

Remember how God helped Moses in this area?
“Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” Exodus 4:12
“The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” Proverbs 16:23

  • Teach Me To Number My Days.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

  • Teach Me Right From Wrong.

“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” Ezekiel 44:23
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2:11, 12

The Christian life is more than living on our own CliffsNotes but I know it’s sometimes what we end up relying on. Some of us have even allowed others to help write our CliffsNotes for us. We rely on what they say completely, sometimes without checking it with God’s Word.

It’s great to learn from others, such as preachers and good teachers, and read good Christian books, but relying on that alone gets us into that CliffsNotes living realm. We’ve got to study the Word of God for ourselves and learn from it ourselves.

All those things are great that we’ve learned, like the 12 Disciples, the 10 Commandments, points on doctrine, and all those Bible verses we’ve committed to memory. It’s just that we need to keep digging and be willing to learn more. We don’t want to miss out on any of the details that the Lord has for us.

With the Summer ending, vacation time running out, school and college beginning, we see the rise of a new season coming on.  Let’s settle back into church mode, Sunday School, youth meetings, prayer meeting and Bible Study, and most important Worship Services. Let’s move from Cliffsnote Christianity and into a truly growing season with the Lord. “teach me”, Psalm 25:5

So, are you ready to learn more?


The Love of the Running Father

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“While the son was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.  Whoever does not love does not know God for God is Love.”  (Luke 15:11-32; I John 4:8 NRSV).

In Sunday School and again during seven semesters of seminary, I was taught that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, teaching a principle to be put into practice.  In the Jewish culture of olden days, things were explained in word pictures.  Jesus was speaking a language that his neighbors could easily understand.  Despite changes in culture, time and technology, parables remain timeless reflections of the human condition.

The first century Jewish culture was a honor/shame drive society.  Nearly everything that was done sought honor and avoided shame.  A central message of all three parables; the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son is that God has a tender personal concern and a joyous love for individuals who are lost in sin and repent.  The last of this trio of progressive value parables deals with the relationship between a father and his younger and older sons, one a rule-breaker and the other a rule-keeper. (Luke 15:11-32).

In those days a Middle Eastern man never ran.  If he wanted to run, he would have to lift his robes so he would not fall.   It was humiliating and shameful for him to show his bare legs.  So why did he run?  If a Jewish son lost his inheritance among Gentiles, he would be totally cut off from his community as if he were dead.  The father ran to protect his son from this total rejection – a kezazah.  So instead, took the shame rightly due his younger son.

We long for a love that can’t be forgotten.  Our Heavenly Father put our shame upon his Son Jesus so that we can be forgiven, restored, accepted and gifted with a clean slate.  God calls us and waits for us or our lost acquaintances, to begin the journey back toward Him.  Willingly, God is watching, ready to welcome us back (I John 4:8).

Our next ABC Men’s Breakfast will be at 8:00 am on Sat. Sept. 10th.  Join us and invite a friend. During the summer months food supplies at Helping Hands are low.  Help those in need.

Women Helping Women

Donna Miller has organized a Facebook group called “Women Helping Women” and it already has over 5,000 members, she said. Women can gather cosmetics, facial cleansers, toiletries and things of that nature, and put them in a purse or handbag which will be distributed to flood victims. Every woman has a handbag or purse that they don’t carry anymore.

“I think the reason it’s successful is because it’s specific,” she said. “People know exactly what they can do. You don’t have to run to the store and shop. “They have extra, new cosmetics stuck in a drawer. They’re just getting their things together into a Ziploc bag to put in the purse.”

There are drop-off locations all over southern West Virginia and several in Beckley including First Baptist Church.  Contact Donna Miller or the church office for further info.

ABW July and August Update

by Norma Gunter

The American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus Resource circle program for July is See…Healthy Families.  The scripture is Hosea 11:1-4; Ephesians 6:4.  “God as a parent teaches, holds, and treats us with loving kindness.  We need to follow God’s model in our families and intergenerational relationships.  For many people the image of God as Father is disturbing.  Some people were abused or neglected or deserted by their fathers or mothers.  Some fathers or mothers  were absent from their lives.  In homes where two working parents, extra efforts need to be made to be there for the children. For some people, the image of the grandparent is the one that evokes the loving-kindness described in Hosea.”

One way our church can encourage  healthy families is by promoting programs of the West Virginia Baptist Convention like the Family Camp at Camp Cowen.  This Camp is July 29 to August 1, 2016.  More information, the cost and a registration form for the camp can be found at campcowen.org.

A healthy family mission experience can be had at Camp Global, a family mission camp, held at Camp Cowen September 2 to September 4, 2016.  Several years ago my family; daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter two sisters and me, spent the weekend at Camp Global.  We got to spend time with our missionaries, Bible study, vesper services, music, crafts, etc.  To see a schedule of events for Camp Global you can also go to campcowen.org.   All families need a camping experience and Camp Cowen is the perfect place to get that experience. Sign up today.

Heat, humidity and…Christmas?

by Debbie Vanaman

It’s hard to think about Christmas when the temperatures are up in the 90’s and the humidity is unbearable but that’s just what we need to do. Children around the world receive these shoeboxes not just at Christmas time but all throughout the year and your contributions will go a long way towards making a child’s life just a little bit better.  Your response so far has been nothing short of over-whelming and for that I thank you.

For the months of July and August we will be collecting school supplies such as pens, pencils, markers, crayons and small note pads and coloring books (emphasis on the word small please).  Collection boxes for these items are located in the Welcome Center and also in Fellowship Hall.  Also if you have any extra empty shoeboxes, they are needed as well and can be left in the church office. 

Collection week this year is November 14th  through November 21st.   Please mark these dates in your calendar as I will need lots and lots of help during that week.  As I always ask you, please continue to keep this program in your prayers as shoeboxes are distributed to children around the world helping to spread the name of Jesus Christ.

What does the end of the school year mean for kids?

by Joyce Mills

For many kids in West Virginia, the end of the school year marks the beginning of lazy days by the pool, staying up late or vacations with family.  For others, it means less  access to nutritious meals.  Luckily, many of those children will have such meals available to them in their own communities this summer.

This makes those of us who work with the backpack program very happy because 19 kids  who were given backpacks each week can have hot meals during this summer. Actually, Beckley Elementary is listed as a ‘feeding station’.

Summer food programs across the country, including West Virginia, offer U.S. Department of Agriculture approved meals to any child who wants or needs one, regardless of economic background.

Both the backpack initiative and summer food programs are essential for some families. Many of West Virginia’s kids live in poverty, and healthful nutritious food is scarce. Many parents may not have healthy nutrition knowledge themselves. Their children may depend on a healthy school provided breakfast and lunch to satisfy their appetites, but these aren’t available on weekends or school breaks.  For a complete list of feeding sites, including days and times the program will operate, visit The Department of Education website.

For July and August continue to bring in your extra large tote bags and cans of pasta with meat.  We continue to appreciate your gifts-both cans of food and money.  Just place the cans of pasta with meat on the back counter in the church kitchen.

Teachable Spirits

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“…when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.”   Proverbs 21:11 

I was studying some Bible passages recently that say, “teach me”. There are several of them in the Psalms, such as “Teach me thy way” (Psalm 25:4), “Teach me thy statutes” (Psalm 119:12), “Teach me to do thy will” (Psalm 143:10), and there’s other “teach me’s” in the Scripture. It struck me as I was studying through those that in order to do all those things, I have to be “teachable” to begin with or I’m not going to learn how to do those things. 

Having a teachable spirit is such a good trait to have. It means we are able to receive instruction. Proverbs 21:11 says, “When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.”

When we learn something new or even are reminded of something we already know, it makes us more knowledgeable. It helps us live more wisely. I doubt if any of us have a teachable spirit all of the time, and I was thinking about some of the things that hinder us from being teachable.

  • We think we know it all.
    Thinking we know it all can really hinder our learning. When we are in that mode, we don’t allow anything to soak in. It’s like we have this coating on us that blocks out everything we should be absorbing.

    We can never learn enough about Christ or know our Bible as good as we need to in order to serve the Lord the way we should. How can we ever know it all when it comes to Christ?

    “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33

  • We don’t listen closely.
    Do you ever do that? Half listen? I know I do sometimes. If we are not careful, we may just miss some very important points that we’ll need down the road.

    When dealing with the Christian life, we have to listen closely to the Lord too.

    “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” John 10:27

  • We are too busy talking ourselves.
    When we are rattling on ourselves, we miss out on some learning experiences. Sometimes we have to just stop and listen.

    “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Psalms 141:3

  • We don’t see the need to learn.
    Ever in that situation? We probably all felt that way when we were young and in school. Why will I ever need to know this? How will this ever help me down the road?

    When it comes to learning more about the Lord and His Word, look at all the benefits we can reap. Look at how we can increase our faith alone.

    “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

  • We think we can’t learn the material.
    I know there were times in college classes that I felt like I’d never be able to learn the material. Sometimes it’s like that in life too. I know some new Christians feel that way about the Bible too. It doesn’t matter what the material is, when we start with the attitude that we will never learn, it hinders us from the beginning.

    “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalms 119:130

  • We allow distractions to slow us down.
    A lot of things get in the way of our learning, especially when we are trying to learn to be more like Christ and we are saying, “Teach me”. Those little things just keep us from opening our Bibles, from praying, and from really trying to learn from the Lord. We have to be so diligent not to allow things to creep in that will throw us off track.

    “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

  • We don’t like our teacher.
    I have to admit, I’ve been there. You get in a room full of people and look around for the teacher, and when you spot them, your jaw drops. Maybe they are way younger than you. Maybe they look a little unorganized, or a little disheveled, and you start blocking out everything they are trying to teach you. Whether they are a great teacher and know their field of knowledge, you just refuse to learn from them.

    Look at Who is teaching us to live the Christian life. Christ. He’s the Great Teacher. It’s what He did the whole time He was here on earth. He went about teaching.

    “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Matthew 4:23

    “And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.” Mark 6:6

    “I was daily with you in the temple teaching…” Mark 14:49

    Christ uses all kinds of things to teach us today. He uses His Word directly. He uses other people. Sometimes, yes, He even uses other people we may not like. He uses small and large things in our lives to teach us lessons. We just have to be open to what He has for us.

I hope I can develop a teachable spirit, especially when it comes to the things of the Lord. There’s so much to learn that I need to live my Christian life to the fullest.

I think of Mary and how she sat at the feet of Jesus to learn. (Luke 10:38-42) Remember the Lord’s response to Martha when she wanted Mary to help her serve?

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

I want to choose that “good part” of learning from the Lord. I know to do that I need to work on keeping out those things that hinder me and slow me down when it comes to listening to Him.

So, how teachable are you?