Some Words about Love from the Illuminate Group

Love is in the air! February brings about thoughts of flowers, chocolates, hearts and, most of all…love. That’s right…the “L” word! Valentine’s Day is typically responsible for engagements, lots of expensive dinners and the giving of gifts, but why do we celebrate love this way? Why do we link the word “love” with giving?

I believe this can be better understood by looking at a very famous and well known verse…John 3:16:

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

This verse is not only the foundation of the Gospel, but this verse also explains what “love” is. Love is the giving of or giving up of something for someone that you love. God loves His people so much that He wanted give us his Son, but it didn’t end there! He not only gave us his Son, but He gave up his Son, Jesus Christ, and led him to the cross to die for our sins. 1 John 4:10 also explains to us that God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins

Just the same as we should love others and ourselves more than just one day a year, so should it be for loving Jesus. We don’t just save our love for Christ for Sunday mornings; rather we’re to express our love for Him every moment of every day with every word that comes out of our mouth, every thought that runs through our head, and every action we make. Obviously that’s a lot easier said then done, but God allows us to work through our mistakes and He is patient with us!

We don’t need Valentine’s Day to remember that Jesus loves us. My prayer is that you acknowledge that reality many times a day.

Grace and Peace,


Operation Christmas Child 2018

by Debbie Vanaman

The last decorations have been put away from Christmas (finally) and the cold winter of January is behind us (hopefully) and now it’s time to start thinking about shoeboxes and Operation Christmas Child again.  Every day or so I get a Facebook post showing a child somewhere in the world who received a shoebox and the smiles on their faces is priceless.   We here at First Baptist have been involved in this ministry for more than 15 years and every year it amazes me that you give so generously to help spread the name of Jesus to children and families around the world and it all starts with filling an empty shoebox.

For the month of February, I will be collecting soap, washcloths, small hairbrushes and combs.  Donation boxes will be in Fellowship Hall and in the Welcome Center.   As always, I ask that you keep this program in your prayers as the shoeboxes collected last year continue their journey around the world and may God bless each and every one of you.

Life Shaping Verses

by Rev Robert A. Wendel

“O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64-8 NRSV).

“The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7 NRSV)

My first fall at Princeton Seminary in 1976 I selected one or two scripture verses to focus on during the following 11 or 12 months and did the same for the next two years.

After my graduation, I decided to make an annual pick each January or February for the coming year. I keep that written on the extra blank pages of the Bible I carried to each class on the Old or New Testament.

What scripture versus would you decide to keep in mind as we begin a New Year?  Would your selection highlight one of God’s many promises or focus on words you’d find particularly encouraging based upon what you think might happen to you in the coming three hundred plus days?

One rule for your pic, you may designate any verse only once as the years fly by.  During my pastorate in Arcade, New York our church youth group enjoyed this yearly exercise.  The favorite verses with a brief comment in somethings printed in the Guideposts Magazine founded by Dr. Peale, currently published in Carmel, New York.

A suggestion.  Collect written responses from any adult Sunday School class or week-day Bible Study on the question, “What is your favorite verse?”  You’ll be amazed at all the great answers you’ll read!  Share them during the next session.  My personal choices for 2018 open this month’s pastoral essay.

My wish for 2018 for everyone and our congregations is that we read and preach more Bible.  For Christians young and old there’s simply no better resource to use to shape and mold our lives!

A Big, Big Thank You from Helping Hands

First of all, a big, big thank you to all of you for your donations of both food, clothing and blankets.  Your generosity is sometimes overwhelming and greatly appreciated.  Unfortunately, our needs here at Heling Hands grow almost on a daily basis especially with the extreme cold weather we’ve had lately.   Both our resources and our volunteers have been stretched sometimes past the breaking point.

Please continue with your food and clothing donations and also if you can spare a morning we really, really need some new volunteers.  We are open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 until noon and you will receive a blessing each and every time you help someone in need.   Donations can be dropped off at Helping Hands or in the large box outside the church office.

Also, please continue to keep us in your prayers daily as we serve the less fortunate here in Raleigh County and may God richly bless each and every one of you

ABW February Update

by Norma Gunter

My copy of the SEASON magazine arrived just in time for the February Mission and Service report.  It was rewarding to see that our 2017 M.O.P. (Mission Outreach Project) for a 4-WD vehicle for the Aragon families use in their mission work in Mexico went far over the goal of $6.000.  According to the Seasons Honor Roll of Churches for Jan. 1 to Dec. 3l, 2017 $14,393.33 was received. (Page 13).  Also our SPECIAL PROJECT for 2017, Sunny Day Leadership and Activities Center Furnishings for the Meeting Spaces, goal of $12,000 was met with $16,893.25.  PTL.  God is good. This project was for a new building at Camp Cowen.

This year, 2018, our M.O.P. is Trees from Zechariah 3 for South Africa, with a goal of $6,000.  The money contributed to this project will help train, equip and supply people to run local fruit and nut tree grafting nurseries for local profit, nutrition, environment improvement and sustainability in South Africa. Our American Baptist International Ministries Medical Missionaries Drs. Rick and Anita Gutierrez will manage this project.

The SPECIAL PROJECT for 2018 is new roofing for the lodges at Parchment Valley Conference Center and has a goal of $12,000.

Other information found in SEASONS magazine is the date for upcoming West Virginia American Baptist Women events.  The first being the Third Annual Women’s Camp at Camp Cowen April 13-15, 2018.  The focus is “Better Together” and the speakers are Rev. Jana Stoner and Jillene Narraway.  The theme scripture is Ephesians 4.  Ladies, 18 to 95, you are invited to join them for the journey as they grow, learn and share on being “Better Together.”  The cost is $45 for the weekend.  Call 304-840-1482 or email to register.  Take a friend and enjoy an early spring at Camp Cowen.

Have a blessed Valentine’s Day.  Stay warm.

Old vs. New

by Pastor Doc Adkins

With the New Year now in swing for us all, how’s it going?  I imagine for most it’s hard to tell given the snowy weather, cold temps and of course the flu and other winter illnesses. Maybe your NEW YEAR looks a lot like your OLD YEAR. When I thought about this thought of OLD vs. NEW the following came to my mind.

We hold onto the pain of past failures until they become woven into our hearts and minds. But that is not what Jesus has for us. In order to heal from the pain of our past failures and overcome the fear of future failures, we must practice our ABCs: acknowledge our feelings, ban the B’s, and choose to believe Jesus.

Acknowledge our feelings

Maybe it’s a lost business, a failed marriage, a friendship that ended over an argument — whatever it is, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings you have about the failure.

Remember, the enemy doesn’t want us in touch with our emotions, because you can’t heal from what you don’t feel.

Ban the B’s

When we are battling the fear of failure, it is so easy to fall back on these coping mechanisms.

We busy ourselves trying to make sure our perfect world stays that way. (Because, after all, any sort of failure from one of our world is a direct reflection on our ability to live life correctly, right?)

  • We binge eat our way through a package of Double Stuff Oreos rather than face certain failure in another relationship. (It won’t work out. It never does.)
  • We blame anyone and everyone for why we failed the last time and let that be the reason we don’t risk failure again. (If those people weren’t so dumb they could have seen that I was the best choice for the Committee.)
  • We bury our feelings altogether because out of sight, out of mind. (I never really wanted that job anyway. Whatever.)
  • We brood, constantly replaying our failure until it becomes a deeply rooted fear. (What was I thinking? Why did I say that? If I had only made a different choice that day.)

If you want to be free from the fear of failure and the pain of the past, you have to ban the Bad B’s.

Choose to believe Jesus

Brennan Manning, in his book Ruthless Trust, says this:

“Wallowing in shame, remorse, self-hatred, and guilt over real or imagined failings in our past lives betrays a distrust in the love of God. It shows that we have not accepted the acceptance of Jesus Christ and thus have rejected the total sufficiency of his redeeming work. Preoccupation with our past sins, present weaknesses, and character defects gets our emotions churning in self-destructive ways, closes us within the mighty citadel of self, and preempts the presence of a compassionate God.”1

This is a good preaching thought! When we truly accept the total redeeming work of Jesus, we have no choice but to decide we are going to stop beating ourselves up.

Because we will all fail. This is a reality of living on this planet. We all fail and will continue to fail. What matters is how we respond to our failure. We can choose to believe that Jesus can rewrite our stories and use our failure for his good (and ours), or we can become stuck in a cycle of failure.

A perfect example of this is the woman at the well.

The woman at the well was a mess. She was a failure in the eyes of her community. She was stuck in a cycle of failure, failing over and over again, marrying one man and then another and then another and then another and then another, until she gave up on marriage entirely and just lived with a guy. Her fear of failure eventually became the assumption of failure until it became actual failure.

The woman at the well feared that her life was colored by such failure that she could never rise above it.

But then Jesus showed her differently.

He knew her stories and her pain and offered her life and a future.

He addressed her failed relationships, but what He really wanted to do was show her that she had a bigger purpose in the kingdom despite her failure. And she believed Him. So she left her water jar behind, went back to her town, and said to the people,

Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah? — John 4:29

And what happened next? Did they blow her off? Did they say, “What do you know? You’re not even married!” No. They all came out to meet Jesus.

Jesus broke the cycle of failure by speaking truth to her. Just like He is breaking the cycle by speaking truth to us today.

“Yes, you had five husbands and are living with someone outside of marriage. So what? It doesn’t have to be your story. How would you like to lead people to eternal life?”

In the same way, He speaks truth over you and me today.

“Yes, you got fired from that job. So what? It doesn’t have to be your story.”

  • “Yes, your marriage fell apart. So what? It doesn’t have to be your story.”
  • “Yes, your child rebelled. So what? It doesn’t have to be your story.” You can choose to believe the truth that Jesus has a purpose for you beyond your failure and allow Him to rewrite your story.

Our futures are already claimed by God; we don’t have to stay stuck in a cycle of fear and failure.  Failure doesn’t have to be your story. He is still writing your story.

A New Year and Interesting Mindsets

A New Year brings about some interesting mindsets; there’s people making resolutions to work out more, lose weight, eat healthier, etc. A New Year gives us the feeling that it’s a fresh start; like the beginning of a football game, the score is “0-0”. With this new beginning and fresh start, it’s easy to see why people get so set on changing their habits from the year before, but we all know what typically happens, right? The gym membership is only used for the first couple months, your high school jeans still won’t button, and the donuts look so much tastier than the salad!

With this knowledge, we have to do our best to combat the easy ability to fall back into bad habits from the year before. To do this, we must rely on Christ as our strength…not ourselves. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us to not be anxious, but to cast our burden and requests on God and He will uphold us. This is a huge comfort for me when I think of how capable I am in maintaining good habits, whether it’s remaining healthy physically or spiritually (I’m not very good at it).

As the New Year approaches, think about what you want to bring into it and what you want to leave behind, but always remember that God is ever present with you and will always be with you. He only asks that you bring Him with you as you walk through this life in all of your years.

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

It was a Busy Month

by Helen Greene

December was a very busy month for everyone.  Our Backpack volunteers were especially busy purchasing gifts for our 25 Backpack students and three younger siblings too young for school.   They tried to purchase gifts from the children’s wish lists.  Many of the children requested clothes, shoes and socks.  December 18th Doc and Ryan delivered 28 large bags of gifts to Beckley Elementary School for our Backpack children.  We hope that every child received gifts that will be a blessing to them.

A big Thank You goes to everyone who worked so hard shopping and wrapping the gifts!

For the month of January please bring pasta with meat for our backpacks.  Donations can be left in the             kitchen on the back counter.

We are Extremely Grateful

We here at Helping Hands are extremely grateful for the donations of food, clothing, blankets and money that we received last year from our FBC family.  Through your generosity, we were able to help literally thousands of people throughout the Raleigh County community last year.  A special thank you also to our volunteers who come week in and week out.  Without you, Helping Hands could not accomplish the tasks that need to be done.

As 2018 unfolds, our needs grow literally on a daily basis.  Your donations of food, clothing, and blankets are still needed and are greatly appreciated.  Please keep this ministry in your prayers as we minister to the people here in Raleigh County.

ABW January Update

by Norma Gunter

Virginia Holmstrom, Executive Director of the American Baptist Women’s Ministries, wrote in her letter, December 2017, “I Believe…I believe in the deep passion for mission that motivates American Baptist women to be the hands and feet of Christ in their churches, communities, and world.”

“I believe in Christ-centered mission of ABWM to encourage and empower women and girls to serve God.  Further, I believe that God created every person with unique giftedness and purpose, and you and I are called to encourage and empower them to live their lives for God’s good.”

“I believe that when AB women  welcome the uniqueness of one another—marveling at the differences we each bring to these ministries—our beloved community will reverberate with the love and grace of Jesus Christ, and the whole world will move a bit closer to peace.”

American Baptist Women’s Ministries new brochure is broken down in three categories, CHRIST-CENTERED- ENCOURAGING & EMPOWERING WOMEN & GIRLS-SERVING GOD.  Under Christ-Centered is EVENTS-ABWM offers many opportunities for women to get together in conferences, retreats and online events.  The other subject under Christ-Centered is RESOURCES-ABWM provides resources for ministry with women and girls.  The resources include print, downloads, podcasts, blogs and other networking tools.

Under Encouraging & Empowering Women and Girls is LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT and AB GIRLS.  Leadership Development-ABWM is committed to helping women find and develop their leadership potential.  (This year the West Virginia ABWM had several programs on leadership and our own Joyce Mills taught one session which can be seen on UTube.) AB GIRLS-Girls are leaders too, they are our future leaders.  This program offers girls an opportunity for growth and development into women of God.  (At one time FBC had a Guild Girls program.  All we need is a lady or two to step up and organize one for our young ladies.)

Under Serving God is MISSION EXPERIENCES,-ADVOCACY-WOMEN & GIRLS MISSION FUND.  MISSION EXPERIENCES.  In person and online, ABWM offers a wealth of opportunities to experience and learn about mission.  Hands-on mission projects, mission trips around the world & the USA help women expand their knowledge, learning how to serve God.  ADVOCACY-ABWM empowers women to become involved in advocating on issues that impact women and girls.  WOMEN & GIRLS MISSION FUND-This fund is used to provide life changing opportunities for women and girls in the US and around the world. (The ABWM is asking for women to partner with them with a monthly gift of $10 or more.  (They can be reached at

HAPPY NEW YEAR from FBC ABWM.  Don’t forget our missionaries and their families in your prayers.