Is handbell ringing one of your hidden talents?

If God has given you this talent (or maybe you just want to try something new) and you might be interested in playing handbells, please see Cathy Broughman and give her your contact info and a day or evening when you would be available when school is over.

Dickens and Change

Adapted by Pastor Doc Adkins

Some years ago, I had a college class that included some reading of literary writings from many different times of world history. I can’t say that I really enjoyed the class but I needed it and so had to do the assignment. One suggestion was some literary writings by Charles Dickens.  The only one I knew and “ever” read was, of course, the Christmas Carol, by Dickens. Little did I know that he is known by way more than just this one.  The below is an example of what I mean:

It was, by this time, within an hour of noon, and although a dense vapour still enveloped the city they had left, as if the very breath of its busy people hung over their schemes of gain and profit, and found greater attraction there than in the quiet region above, in the open country it was clear and fair. Occasionally, in some low spots they came upon patches of mist which the sun had not yet driven from their strongholds; but these were soon passed, and as they laboured up the hills beyond, it was pleasant to look down, and see how the sluggish mass rolled heavily off, before the cheering influence of day. A broad, fine, honest sun lighted up the green pastures and dimpled water with the semblance of summer, while it left the travelers all the invigorating freshness of that early time of year. The ground seemed elastic under their feet. . . .

The day wore on, and all these bright colours subsided, and assumed a quieter tint, like young hopes softened down by time, or youthful features by degrees resolving into the calm and serenity of age. But they were scarcely less beautiful in their slow decline, than they had been in their prime; for nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy, that we can scarcely mark their progress.

—The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

Charles Dickens idealized the countryside, perhaps because things in his town were often so bleak. Here, in his legendary descriptive style, he reveals the subtleness of God’s seasonal changes as Nicholas and his friend Smike walk through the landscape in springtime.

Just as God does for us in nature, He also changes the seasons of our lives. In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon wrote: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; . . . a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-5.

Everything must change. Nothing stays the same. Some changes—like the seasonal changes described in Dickens’s works—are expected, beautiful, and welcome. Other changes come unexpectedly, unwanted, and leave us wondering what to do. The answer for changing times is to put your faith in God, who does not change Malachi 3:6. Solomon said that God makes “everything beautiful in its time” Ecclesiastes 3:11. He transforms the winters of our lives into spring. When we accept the changes and ask God to make them beautiful, our faith grows and blooms like His landscapes in springtime.

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

 May we take heart in the fact that seasons change to give us a vision of the majesty of God.  Winter is gone and a new season of life has arrived. I so hope that as a “church family” we will see new life, new commitment, new growth and if need be new changes in all our lives we together we serve the Risen Lord.  

Operation Christmas Child March Update

by Debbie Vanaman

As I was sitting down on February 20th to write my March shoebox article, it came across the radio that Rev. Billy Graham had passed away.  He is now in heaven and is resting in the arms of our Lord Savior.  Please keep his family in your prayers as they are very much involved in the ministry of Samaritans’ Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

In coming up with a presentation for the Lizzie Lewis Circle on Samaritan’s Purse for their March meeting, I decided to share with them the ministries of Samaritan’s Purse. So I thought I would give you a snapshot of what I will talk to them about.   They don’t only do shoeboxes.  They handle disaster relief, both in the US and around the world.  They were in Greenbrier County when we had the devastating flooding back a few years and were there for months and months.  Samaritan’s Purse is also heavily involved in meeting the medical needs of people less fortunate around the world along with educating them on disease prevention and the proper ways to purify their water.   These are just some of the ministries that reach around the world to help spread the name of Jesus to families who are desperately looking for something to reach out to.

Now, onto shoeboxes.  The 2017 totals are in and in excess of 11 million (yes I said million) shoeboxes were collected from the U.S. and around the world.  These shoeboxes are currently being shipped to countries all around the world and will eventually find their home in the arms of a little girl or boy and that’s how Jesus’ name will reach not only the child but their family and their community as well.

For the month of March, we will be collecting small toys and coloring books.  Please make sure these coloring books are small enough to fit in a shoebox.   We are well on our way in our collection and your continued support and prayers, as always, are greatly appreciated.

It’s Almost Spring Time!!!

by Ryan Haddox

It’s almost Spring time!!! This time of year is exciting because not only does the sunshine and warmth visit us a bit more, but also because it means Summer is just around the corner!! Summer being around the corner means that our ministry for the youth goes into full time! Camps are going on, trips are being taken, and our youth don’t have as many outside influences around them.

While this is an exciting time for youth ministry, this can also be a patience testing time for our parents out there. The kids are home from school and expect lunch to be fixed, want you to drive them everywhere, and the dreaded “I’m bored” come three days after school ends! Although the summers can seem to drag on, we as adults are actively discipling our youth. Whether we’re their parents, youth pastor, head pastor, or just a friendly face in the church, we are discipling these youth!

Summer should be viewed as a time to rejuvenate our youth’s spirits, spur on their relationship with Christ, and strengthen the foundation of their lives. We do this in many ways, but the best way is just being there as a beacon for our youth. Parents; You have more time with your children so make those moments count! Make Christ evident to them and give them every opportunity to meet God. As a youth pastor I have more time with them as well and I have to be intentional about how I share Christ with them. The hope is to build them into better students…better Christians then they were the school year previously.

We must take a vested interest in the lives and minds of our youth. The world is a dark, dark place and we MUST be the light for them to find and follow. If we don’t set the standard of life in Christ for them,  then they will find other standards from the world. Our time with them is precious and we must use every moment we can to reach them.

84 Meals

Another month of filling backpacks is behind us.  We are currently serving 28 children each week with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, a loaf of bread and a bag of snacks.  When we enter our pantry to prepare the backpacks the shelves look full of food but after packing 84 meals the shelves look very different.  We must constantly search for food items at a reasonable price to replenish our stock.

We so appreciate everyone who has brought food or donated money for our backpack mission.  Praise God for kind, giving hearts.

Please continue to pray for our mission to feed hungry children and for the children who are being fed.

For the month of March please bring cans of pork and beans.

Life’s a Pressure Cooker

by Rev Robert A. Wendel

“We want you to be aware of the affliction we received in Asia.  We were so unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. We would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  We have set our hope (knowing) that he will rescue us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10 NRSV).

“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighted down with the worries of this life.  Be alert at all times, praying that you will have the strength to escape all the things that will take place (until) you stand before the Son of Man.”                (Luke 21:34-36 NRSV).

Webster’s Dictionary defines a pressure-cooker as “a special air-tight, hermetically sealed kettle-like pot used to prepare food quickly by using the pressure of steam.”  If we refer to our life situation as “living in a pressure cooker”, we mean that we feel like we’re living under a great deal of pressure and stress.

Busyness puts us all under a note of urgency.  When the pressure on you mounts, how do you decide which way to go, which priorities to devote more time and energy to accomplishing?  Priorities can be age related, deadline sensitive, educationally demanding, vocationally required, family tied, financially compelling, socially imposed or health conditioned.  The intensity of internal/emotional concern we feel depends on the tension between obligations and expectations welling up within us.

During the first three-fourths of his life, Saul of Tarsus became a well educated, respected Jewish rabbi and even a citizen of Rome.  Then, between 33-36AD, he met the risen Christ and his priorities were completely reversed, making him a very strong spokesman and traveling missionary for the fledging Christian faith and its followers, to whom he wrote thirteen Epistles found in the New Testament.

For St. Paul, there were both high points and low times.  As he wrote the first chapter of his second letter to the Church at Corinth “Be aware of the affliction we received in Asia.” (v.8) This ‘suffering’ may have been serious illness, physical persecution or unfair criticism.  The apostle’s reaction was (1) To rely on God, and not himself; and (2) To gain count on the Lord’s rescue.

Jesus told his disciples “Don’t let your hearts be weighted down with the worries of this life.” (1) Pray that you will have the strength to escape all the things that will take place until (2) You stand before the Son of Man.”  (Luke 21:34-36.)  Life is understood backwards; but lived forward.

Helping Hands Continues to Grow

Our ministry here at Helping Hands continues to grow on a daily and weekly basis, but we are blessed to be able to provide both food and clothing to those who are most needy.  We also have a great group of volunteers who work the front desk, food room, clothing room and drivers who pick up donated food from our local supermarkets.  These people are here week in and week out and this ministry could not exist without them.

We continue to need non-perishable food, soap and toilet paper and these donations can be left in the box outside the church office.  As always, please keep us in your prayers as we continue to serve the people in the Raleigh County area.

ABW March Update

by Norma Gunter

The ladies of First Baptist Church are busy tearing worn sheets into 3” strips, sewing them together, measuring five yards, cutting them off and going on to measure more and more. On March 1st at 1pm we will meet at the church and roll these strips into rolled bandages.  Why are we doing this?  We are working on our White Cross project.  What is White Cross?    White Cross is showering God’s love across the United States and around the world since 1919.  A shower of blessings.  How does White Cross work?

“White Cross had its beginnings during WW1, when many church women assisted the American Red Cross by providing surgical dressings, bandages, and other medical supplies. The ‘White Cross Service League’ was organized after the war to support Baptist mission. White Cross was embraced by American Baptist congregations throughout the United States. Through White Cross gifts, church members provide urgently needed supplies that cannot be purchased with limited mission budgets.  The need for both funds and practical items given through White Cross is greater than ever.  American Baptists are generous and caring people with a true heart for missions.”  (National/International Ministries AMC USA brochure)

For over 50 years I’ve been rolling these bandages, along with many other women from FBC.  Each year we are asked to help, by International Ministries, to supply items needed by our missionaries.  What happens to the bandages when we get them rolled?  The bandages are boxed and mailed to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.
where they are packed (along with bandages from churches all across the US) and shipped to 10 of our partner hospitals in the Congo.  This is expensive for we have to pay the shipping.  (Last year we made 100 bandages) The postage was $28.52 plus 75 cents a pound to ship them on to the Congo.  Are these stripes of old sheets worth to money to ship them to the Congo?  Yes.

One missionary wrote in an email that, “Every time I go on supervision visits to the Baptist hospitals in Vanga, Sala, Kikongo, Boko, Moanza, Kipata, Nselo, Sona Bata, Nsonga Mapangu., Mulolo, or Bandunduville, I visit the room where White Cross supplies are stored. Usually the shelves are mostly empty, and the staff plead for more supplies.  They will soon all be full!  Packed into those boxes (bandages and supplies) is the fragrance of the prayers that follow this shipment and the distinct reminder to our doctors, nurses, and patients, that they are being remembered.  For servants of God working in far flung and difficult corners of God’s Congo world, that’s feeling money cannot buy.  All of us say THANK YOU for the gift of White Cross.”

Some to the uses for these rolled bandages are:  post-operative dressings, dipped in plaster for casts, around the shoulder for a sling, to make a tourniquet, etc.  They are also used to hang from a screenless window or door to keep flying insects out and let in a cool breeze, attached to a nail in the wall to hold IV fluids, etc.

But most important is the gift of love from our ladies as we share our energy, our money, our time, rolling these bandages. Everyone is invited to come join us March 1 to roll all these strips into bandages.

Spring Cleanin’

by Pastor Dooc Adkins

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

I remember well the earliest days of Spring as a kid.  Whether at my mom’s house or later living with my grandparents, the same weird thing would happen. Both my mom and grandmother would start looking for dirt.  Not the outside kind but the inside.  Those cob webs, window sills, closet floors, back porches and dresser drawers were the first targets.  Man, they both had that “look” of “Mr. Clean” about them. Scary!  There were words used like:  spring cleaning, painting the kitchen, new curtains and somehow, I just knew that a lot of this would concern me.  Lord, I wished so many times I had a sister!

When spring arrives, more sunlight brightens your home as the days grow longer, and fresh air blows in once the temperatures warm up enough to open your front door as to welcome a breath of fresh air. But all the light and fresh air reveal what you may not have noticed during the dark, cold days of winter: Your house is a mess.  It’s not fun to see the clutter and dirt that needs to be cleaned up around your house, but the more light and air that flow in, the more motivated you are to do some spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning can be more than just a chore, however, it can show us in a spiritual way how cluttered and (we don’t want to admit it) what’s hiding in the corners and closets of life.  We can actually use the time to start cleaning up something far greater than your house: your soul.  The closer you get to Jesus – the Light of the world – and the more you invite the Holy Spirit to blow the fresh air of His love into your life, the more you become aware of how messy your soul has become.  Thankfully, there’s no sin too messy for God to clean up when you follow His divine cleaning plan of confession, repentance, and reconciliation.

So while you’re spring cleaning your house, invite God to clean your soul.  Here’s how:

Eliminate clutter. Get rid of distractions that block your intimacy with God.  Take an honest look at what might be interfering with making your relationship with God your top priority.  Are you devoting more time and energy to working, watching TV, shopping, playing sports, socializing with friends, pursuing a hobby, or something else than you’re devoting to time with God?  How much time are you really spending doing activities that nurture your connection with God, such as praying; participating in church; and reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible?  Are frazzled thoughts cluttering your inner life, or are you making time regularly for quiet reflection, and asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind?  Eliminate clutter in your schedule and your mind to create space to focus on what’s truly important.

Scrub away dirt and disinfect. This is the hardest part. Cleanse dirty attitudes and behaviors and purify your soul. What kinds of unclean attitudes are lurking in your soul? Are you harboring bitterness against people who have hurt you?  Do you entertain judgmental thoughts about people you don’t like? Are you infected with anger, fear, or selfishness?  How do impure behaviors affect your life?  Are you struggling with a bad habit or even an addiction that causes trouble whenever it rears its ugly head?  Pray about each dirty attitude and behavior, asking God to help you clean up each specific one.  Whenever negative thoughts enter your mind, purposefully replace them with positive ones that reflect biblical truth.  Whenever you’re tempted to slide back into a bad behavior, pray for God to empower you to resist and overcome temptation.

Vacuum. Suck up everyday annoyances and persistent resentments that will stain your soul if you let them accumulate.  Keep short accounts with people rather than letting issues between you pile up and spill over into dirty arguments.  Ask God to help you learn how to deal well with difficult people and those whose personalities differ significantly from yours.  Whenever people offend you in minor ways, be willing to let the issues go.  Whenever people offend you in major ways, be willing to forgive them and reconcile if possible.  Remember that God expects you to forgive others since He has forgiven you.  Trust Him to empower you through each step in the forgiveness process.  Do all you can to live at peace with others and resolve conflicts quickly and wisely.

Dust. Wipe away old dirt of the past that is hindering you from moving into the future with confidence.  Ask God to show you ways you need healing from past traumas and losses.  Then patiently work through the healing process as God leads you.  Expect that each time you deal with one layer of dust from your past, you can see a bit more clearly as you move into the future.

Polish. Make your relationships shine by serving others as God leads you.  Be creative about figuring out how often you can bless others through your words and actions.  Remember that even a brief encouraging comment or small act of kindness can make a significant, positive difference in someone’s life.  Every day, look for opportunities to encourage or help the people with whom you come into contact.

Organize. Rearrange your life so you find “the time.”  Clear out your own agenda and invite God to show you His dreams for your life.  Then build your decisions for how to use your resources (time, energy, talent, money, etc.) around pursuing those things, so you can focus on what’s important without being sidetracked by what’s urgent.  Set specific and measurable goals to help you move closer to fulfilling God’s desires for you. Check your progress regularly, and make whatever adjustments you need to make to keep your life organized well.

It’s a great big job. Isn’t it? Yet, when you see the final outcome, nothing compares to a “clean house” where God resides.

Keeping Up-to-Date with the Backpack Ministry

by Helen Greene

Making sure our 27 backpack students at Beckley Elementary School get their backpacks during the winter months is sometimes a challenge.  The backpacking teams do their best to deliver to the children before school is closed for snow days but Mother Nature just does not always cooperate.

Our Backpack Ministry was blessed with a grant of $252.00 from Woodforest Charitable Foundation.  The grant is to be used through the Mountaineer Food Bank which offers items we can order at a fraction of the price they cost in stores.  We are very grateful for this gift and thank God for agencies that join us to fight childhood hunger.

Please continue to pray for our Backpack Ministry and the children that are being fed.

For the month of February please bring cans of chili with beans.