Friendship and Death in the Silver Years

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“Christ brought us the good news.  It shines like a light and offers life that never ends.  He has given eternal life to everyone who has done what is good.”  (2 Timothy 1:10, Romans 2:7, CEV.)

My new MD requested that I get an overnight workup at the hospital to update his office chart.  The next day I decided to stop at the Dollar Store and pick up some get-well cards.  “It seems I’ve been buying them all too often”, I told the clerk.  She snapped back “When our age group gets older, they get sick and die. That’s how it is.”

Even though I didn’t help her, she reminded me of just how wonderful it is to have friendships later in life.  It’s true that my life has been enriched by dozens of friends in a whole handful of places from as far north as Maine and west to Ohio and south to West Virginia, all since September of 1972.

When you’re as blessed as I have been to have pastored four different congregations and ministered in six separate hospitals including the Beckley VA Medical Center, relationships mount up quickly.  I gladly admit that some of the most memorable people in my life are my friends at First Baptist in Beckley.  I felt especially blessed at the monthly Men’s Breakfast.

As a pastor or minister besides friends you harvest of bushel-full of experiences which serve to mature your life.  One of these is death itself.  In congregations, death comes-and-goes like the wind.  In medical facilities or long term housing, a person’s “passing” from this life to the next is considered routine.

Dying is the same for everyone.  Dying doesn’t depend on age, economic status or geographic location.  Dying is a human process just as our birth is.  God has other plans for us.  All we lose is our physical body (I Corinthians 15:53-54).  Dying is a total absence of pain, fear or anxiety.  “Death cuts the cord that keeps us captive to this world” wrote Rev. Billy Graham.

Eben Alexander, M.D., wrote “Friends and family are waiting and looking for us in the afterlife.  None of us is ever unloved.  Our Creator loves and cherishes us beyond our ability to comprehend.” (I John 4:7).

Letting Your Leaves Fall

by Pastor Doc Adkins

In just a few weeks I will have leaves from in the front yard dance across the porch and our driveway. My question about them is this, “where did they come from since we only have a little tree in our front yard and the leaves won’t match the ones on my yard”.  Obliviously, I have neighbors. Yet, as their bright green color fades, it seems they fall almost as quickly as they change. We all know that in order to flourish in the new season, the tree must let go of its decayed leaves. They have performed well for the term, but their time has drawn to a close.

Autumn is a wonderful time to observe God’s nature. As I watch the swirling leaves stirred by the wind, I am reminded that they display an important lesson for all of us to follow suit in a way. Just as the trees don’t stubbornly hold on to their dead leaves, so we shouldn’t hold on to any unnecessary weight in our lives. When we long to enter a new season, the old can easily inhibit the new if we allow it. God’s Word reminds us to:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31,32 (NIV)

To get rid of negativity in our lives, we must first identify it. How can we do this?

  • By reading God’s Word.
  • By allowing His Spirit to show us the necessary heart changes we need.
  • By being willing to shun practices such as bitterness and anger.
  • By asking God to help us let go of the guilt from the past.

How the Lord longs to empower and strengthen us for the new season ahead! If we’re not sure of the issues detaining a kind and compassionate spirit, He will show us when we ask. And if guilt from the past is preventing this beautiful new season, we have His promises like this one to remember:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18,19 (NIV)

What are you holding on to that is preventing a freshness to the season ahead? Could it be that the decayed leaves are piling up and your heart needs to discard them for good? If so, why not reach out to the Lord in prayer? He longs to hear from you. Ask Him to shine light on any thoughts, circumstances, habits or other “decayed leaves” you might be clinging to. As you watch the leaves fall this season, our prayer is that you are reminded to let go of anything that would hinder a fresh relationship with God.

An Ache Within

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“Holy and beloved clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.  Bear with one another.  Forgive each other.  Above all, clothe yourself with love.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:12-14, 17, NRSV.)

In all my years of being involved in ministry as a pastor, hospital chaplain and teacher, I have yet to go off to bed for the night thinking “Well done today.  You did everything that needed doing.”  As I expected, my life has been filled with a sense of never having done enough.  Although there is a blessing of simply being needed in a wide variety of ways by a great spectrum of folks.

In the daily grind of pastoral opportunities, there always been at least one lonely person I didn’t visit, one who needed a ride to the mid-week fellowship meal or bible study, someone whose mood would have been lifted by a handwritten note or a birthday card.  And there’s that regular parade of utility bills.  The moment we move into town, God gives church shepherds an ache only action will satisfy.

The gospel speaks to believers and unbelievers.  Sunday morning worship serves to remind us of the gospel’s comforting influence.  Paul was pre-occupied with Christ.  Seven times in his letters he brings three little words together; faith, hope and love, to each us that Christians are an optimistic bunch (I Cor. 13:13).  The triad of faith, hope and love is the very heart of our faith.

Like anyone, I thought that our wedding was the most important event of that day.  Just before the 2:00 PM church service, Dr. Frey, one of the two ministers, commented to me, “I conducted a funeral at 10:00 AM earlier this morning.”  His message was that whatever ministry happening right then is all that is important for that person, couple or family.

How wonderful it is to know that God is with me on my journey helping me to let go of the unnecessary and to hang onto the essential (Philippians 4:11), being content… in what I can do.

Helping Hands: A Resource for the Community

by Edna Nasby

Helping Hands continues to help the citizens of Beckley and Raleigh County on an almost daily basis with clothing and food.  They average approximately 700 clients a month and this number will continue to go up once the colder weather comes (which we know will happen eventually.) In case you’re wondering, our hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 AM to noon.

Donations of winter clothing is needed.  Please do not include summer clothing in your donations as they have no room to store them until next year.  Also needed is toilet tissue, soap and deodorant as well as non-perishable food.  These donations can be placed in the large black container outside the church office.

Something else to keep in mind during the fall months Helping Hands will be collecting blankets and jackets.  So go through your closets and find those jackets and blankets in good condition and put them aside for when that collection starts.

Many, many thanks to all those who contribute and volunteer.  Without your help, this mission could not continue to serve our community.  Please keep them in your prayers daily.

Operation Christmas Child: Celebrating 25 Years

by Debbie Vanaman

As fall is now upon us and school is back in session, Christmas isn’t that far away. Operation Christmas Child this year is celebrating its 25th year of collecting shoeboxes and distributing them to children around the world.  Five years ago we celebrated 100 million shoeboxes and the figure of 200 million isn’t that far off but it’s still just a drop in the bucket for the children who have yet to hear the name of Jesus or know the compassion of someone creating a shoebox just for them.  Can’t you just see the smiles on their faces as they open that box and find that precious toy or those needed school supplies – it’s heartwarming.

These boxes also impact the entire family by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through the “Our Greatest Journey” program which is a series of lessons on Jesus and how to accept him into the child’s heart and then, hopefully, the family.     This is such a moving experience to see families changed by something as simple as a shoebox.

For the month of September, we will be collecting various items.  I still need small girl’s hairbrushes, small coloring or sticker books, markers, colored pencils and erasers.   I will be starting a push for October to collect the necessary funds to ship our 100 boxes that our children and youth will be making in November.  So if you want to get a jump on it, just make the check out to First Baptist Church and put Samaritans Purse shipping on the memo line and you can cross that off your to-do list.

As always, I ask that you keep this vital mission in your prayers as we enter collection season that each box made will help to show the love of Jesus Christ to children and families around the word.

Back to School!

by Helen Greene

Back To School!  Not what students want to hear at the end of summer vacation.

Our backpack team has been shopping all summer for bargains and we have purchased food from the Mountaineer Food Bank.  Our pantry is full and we are ready to deliver backpacks full of food to our students at Beckley Elementary School.

Please pray for our Backpack Kids to have a successful school year and they will not suffer from hunger when they are home.

For the month of September we will be collecting 15-16 oz. cans of vegetables.  Donations can be left on the back counter in the kitchen.

Thanks to each one of you who has supported our Backpack Ministry in any way.  May God Bless You!

Parents Must Teach and Encourage Their Children

by Ryan Haddox

We in the Lord’s church are losing 75% of our children who fall away from the Lord and become lost  when they leave home.  This is a tragedy!  The main reason we are losing our children to the world is a lack of teaching of God’s word at home by the parents.  Parents are commanded to teach their children the word of God.  “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  Can we as parents be pleasing to God if we fail to teach our children the word of God?  The lack of Bible knowledge will cause our children to go off into atheism, agnosticism, denominationalism, and unfaithfulness, which will cause them to be eternally lost.

One 40-minute Bible study class each week at church or two if they attend Wednesday evening Bible study does not give our children enough spiritual food to fight off the world’s influence they receive at school, TV, etc.  Our children spend 30 hours per week in public school preparing for life in this world, but less than 2 hours per week in trying to prepare for eternity.  Which is the most important?  We become upset if our children make bad grades on their report cards, but it doesn’t seem to bother us if they fail to study their Bible class lessons.  We closely watch their scholastic and athletic progress, but what about their spiritual progress?  We have become passive about allowing our children to grow up without a soul saving knowledge of the Bible.  We need to know that the greatest thing we can do for our children is to instill in them a lasting faith in God and the Bible so they can be eternally saved.  There is nothing greater we can do for our children.

We should help our children with their school subjects at home, but studying the Bible with them is of much greater importance than their school subjects.  Why do children fall away and become lost when they leave home?  God’s word says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).  If our children are lacking in a knowledge of God’s word they will most likely be eternally lost in hell.  If they are lost, we as parents will have to give an account to God for our failure to teach them (Romans 14:12).

Bible study with our children will increase their faith in God, because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  God’s inspired word says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

We have a good example in the Bible of a young person who was instilled with a genuine saving faith by his mother and grandmother.  Paul says to Timothy, “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).  Here we see that Timothy had become a faithful Christian because his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice had instilled in him a genuine faith in God.  It did not happen by accident.  If it wasn’t for their teaching Timothy would probably not have become a faithful Christian.

To save our children we must be much more serious to help them prepare for eternity. We must set aside a certain time each day for Bible study with them.  This teaching must begin at birth and continue as long as we have influence on them.  We must teach our children to have proper spiritual values and this can only be done by teaching them God’s word.  God has commanded us, “And these words which I command today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Our teaching is a 24/7 task.  We must demonstrate by our lives that God and His word are the most important things in our lives.  Our children are watching and being taught by our example.  Actions speak louder than words. We must not expect our children to “do as I say, not as I do”.

It is not if our children are going to be taught.  It is who will teach them and what they are going to be taught?  If we don’t teach them, someone else will.  Let’s take parenting seriously and bring our children “up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) so we and they can be together in heaven.

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

World Mission Offering 2018

You are the salt of the earth.  Matthew 5:13

Every September and October, congregations come together for a time of awareness, advocacy and action for global mission. Churches across the country celebrate and support the ministries that God is using to transform the world. This is the World Mission Offering.

For the 2018 World Mission Offering, we are highlighting the Ministry Priorities of Health and Wellness, Abolishing Global Slavery and Economic and Community Development. While these represent only a fraction of IM’s ministries, they provide a window into what God is doing worldwide through our 120 global servants, 900+ volunteers, 43 home staff and 240+ global partners.

Our goal this year is $1,500.00   There are envelopes in the pews by the hymnals for your contributions.  Please continue to pray for our missionaries both here in the U.S. and overseas.

My Favorite Season

by Pastor Doc Adkins

My childhood autumns in Hinton hold precious memories—the fall revival at church, unpacking warmer clothing, hot cocoa, harvest moons, fires in the hearth, a well-stocked pantry, and best of all—FOOTBALL!  I loved it, playing it and watching my Steelers in their heyday.

Of course then, there was and still is the endless desire to go hunting if only just to watch and see God in our beautiful mountains.

You know…sometimes when I think about all the “life” experiences I had growing up in that old farm house…man, it does at times seem so very long ago.  In reality, it was a long time ago.

Life has it seasons:  The autumn of life is a strange mixture of nostalgia, blessings, and potential. It yields the harvest of seeds we’ve sown throughout life and braces us for colder days to come.

When life’s autumn arrives, we look back and better understand the way God led us; but we still have work to do—the best and fullest. It’s a good transition time.

“Autumn” only occurs once in the Bible. In Jude 1:12, false teachers are compared to “autumn trees without fruit,” implying that autumn should be a fruitful season, the most abundant of the year. How can we take advantage of the “autumn of life”?

The Unchanging Nature of God

The seasons come and go, so focus on the God who remains unchanged and unchanging. “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or even You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:1-2).

There’s a lot of unwelcome change in our world. Moral and societal changes bother us most when we turn on our television or glance at the magazines. We’re painfully aware our kids are growing up in a world far different from the one we knew as children.

And personal changes—children leaving home, the passing of dear friends, and the slow, or possible steady decline in vitality and health. Sometimes we feel outdated at work.

But amid all the changes, one thing, one person, never changes—our eternal God. Remember this verse from John 15, “Abide with Me”?

JI Packer points out that God does not change. His life is always the same. His character is always dependable. His truth, ways, and purposes do not change. His Son does not change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

His children will enjoy His fellowship a million years from now. The world may fade, the stars may fall, the seasons may change, and winter may come. But the God who has been our help in ages past is our hope for years to come. In Him we have permanence, stability, joy unshakable, and life unending.

The Divine Foresight of God

We’ve all suffered setbacks along the way. But God promised, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. . . . You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God” (Joel 2:25-26). His divine forethought knew it all in advance, and He can be trusted with what has happened to us in years past.

Our omniscient Savior knows the end from the beginning, and He will bless whatever is yielded to Him. Focus on His foreknowledge, providence, and sovereignty.

The Wonderful Blessings of God

The autumn of life is a great time to focus on God’s wonderful blessings—family, friends, strength, shelter, provision, guidance, care, fruitful ministry, opportunities to serve, more time to pray and study His Word, and eternal life still to come.

During life’s autumn, we have a richer perspective and can count more blessings than ever before.

A Renewed Commitment to God

Autumn is a good time to focus on your commitment to God. Some of the saddest words in the Bible are in Jeremiah 8:20, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” If you’ve never made a commitment to Jesus Christ, do it now, while there is still time.

If you are a follower of Christ, remember to remain close to Him during the shifting seasons of life.

During autumn, we all know that winter lies ahead, but if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Vacation Bible School – Walk Like a Disciple

Come join the youth of Beckley First Baptist, as we “walk like a disciple” for Jesus on August 4th from 4:00 – 600 p.m. All activities will be held at the YMCA Soccer Complex, where we will be taking a journey to become a disciple of Jesus, but we must make stops along the way to receive guidance from some very important men and women of the Bible—all of whom had an important role in the story of Jesus, whether it was leading up to his birth or the continuation of spreading the Good News. Feel free to contact Ryan Haddox or one of the Christian Ed. Board members with any questions or concerns, and we hope to see you there!