Starting New

by Pastor Doc Adkins

We rang in the New Year. Some may have gotten out a clean piece of paper and written down their intentions for this year.  Well, I didn’t. You see, I decided not to jot down anything, but to make a commitment to increase my prayer time with the Lord and to continue with finding contentment in what God is doing, whether I understand it or not.  Most times it takes a while to find out what those things are.

I believe it is the spiritual condition in my life that the Lord is the most interested in. He says in His Word that my body is a temple for the Holy Spirit.

I found out long ago, those long lists of dos and don’ts either get lost or forgotten. The things that really matter to us, we usually work on, so I find it best to limit any desires each year to a few things and concentrate on the really important ones — whatever they might be.

Most people want a fresh start in life. Those who are sick want a clean bill of health. Those in financial trouble want to be out of debt. We can do these things, but we need to work on them one day at a time.  Try not to overwhelm yourself with too many good intentions. Just pray and ask the Lord what you might need to work on in your life, spiritually, financially, and maybe even how to improve relationships or your health, but don’t get bogged down with so many resolutions.

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 NIV

The Bible says to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. What is the Kingdom of God? It is righteousness, peace, and joy. If we have those three things most everything else will fall into place. If we seek to please the Lord and find out what He wants us to do, then it will all work out. I know He tells us to seek wisdom, so if we do that our health issues and financial priorities will change.

The Bible tells us His mercies are new every morning, so I will daily ask Him what He wants me to do. There is nothing wrong with accomplishing some short-term goals, but never let them consume your entire energy by making them so hard they are beyond your reach. Simply trust God to help you each step of the way!  Get a fresh start each year, but plan for a wise one too.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Can God change your life?   God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God.

Helping Hands Continues its Mission

A big thank you for the Thanksgiving donations of non-perishable food items, blankets and coats that were donated during the month of November.  These will help us re-stock our shelves and be prepared for the colder months ahead.

We continue to need toilet paper, bar soap and winter clothing.  Donations can be either delivered to Helping Hands Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 until noon or left in the large black container outside the church office.  We are still in need of volunteers to help out.  See Edna Nasby if you can donate even a few hours a week.

As always, please keep us in your prayers as we continue to minister to the less fortunate in Raleigh County.

Christmas -Just in Time!

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“Blessings on the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has turned his face toward his people and has set them free!  He has raised up for us a standard of salvation.  Don’t be afraid!  May the God of hope fill you with joy.”  (Luke 1:68; 2:10, Romans 15:13)

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful, joyous time of the year.  But, for many folks, it’s a time of acute stress and sorrow.  Physical pain, loss, downright loneliness and depression is common even among church-going Christians.

Our world has been torn by bombings, shootings and world-wide acts of violence.  Natural disasters – fire, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes have taken lives and made thousands homeless.  Families have been broken by troubled relationships.  And it’s hard to escape hearing or reading reports of the above and mistreatment of the fairer sex even reaching the Halls of Congress.

For so many it will be hard to hear or sign the hymns, carols and songs of the season.  It might very well be difficult to think about giving or getting gifts.  Still, in congregations around the globe, the Sunday before Christmas we’ll light the Candle of Joy singing the carols as people have done for more years than we can count.

One such carol is “O Little Town of Bethlehem” with lyrics by Church Rector Phillips Brooks penned in Philadelphia in 1868 as an emotional reaction to the assassination of President Lincoln and the Civil War.  To attempt to heal his spirit, Brooks traveled to the Holy Land.  The young Episcopal priest was so impressed by the worship service at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem that ‘he felt at peace’ and told friends, “Forever there will be a singing in my soul.”

Concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom made the following entry in her diary for 12/24: “What can we add to Christmas?  The perfect motive is that God so loved the world.  The percent gift is that HE gave His only Son.  The only requirement is to believe in Him.  The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”

Nothing but the Best

by Pastor Ryan Haddox

It’s not easy being queen. So it should come as no surprise that monarchs like Queen Elizabeth like to escape from London sometimes. On one such occasion, the queen asked her chauffeur to take her for a ride in the country. Then she asked him to pull over so she could just take a little walk by herself. No crown, no gown – dressed down. So for those golden moments, the queen was just an ordinary lady, taking a walk in the country. She had gone about a mile down the road when this sudden rain shower opened up. The queen knocked on the door of a small hut that was nearby and she asked the lady if she had an umbrella. The lady actually had two umbrellas – a tattered, battered old umbrella and a brand new one. She gave her beat up umbrella to the queen. The queen promised it would be returned the next day. Well, you’ve got to imagine the scene as a uniformed chauffeur pulls up in this royal limousine. He goes to the door of the hut and he announces, “I’m returning this for the queen.” Needless to say, the woman was in shock. All she could say was, “If I had known it was for the queen, I would have given her my best!”

It’s amazing how many people give their least, not their best – to the King, that is. The King. The one an ancient hymn calls the “High King of Heaven.” The one the Bible calls the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Oh, we’ll stand when they sing that in the “Hallelujah Chorus.” We’ll really get into singing praise songs to Him, but when it comes to the stuff that really matters in our life, we hold onto the best and give what’s left to the King of all kings.

Hanging onto our best – giving the King less than our best is not a new thing. In our word for today from the Word of God in Malachi 1:13-14, God rejects the offerings that His people have been bringing. He had commanded them from the beginning to bring the best of their flocks to Him as an expression of their love for Him. He says: “‘When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?’ says the Lord. ‘Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great King,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and My name is to be feared among the nations.’”

Later in this same book, God poses this shocking question, “Will a man rob God?” Then He gives the answer. “Yet you rob Me.” When God’s people ask how they have robbed Him, He says, “In tithes and offerings.” That’s one example of withholding your best from the King – by giving Him the money you have left over after you’ve spent what you really want to spend on yourself. But there are many ways to rob our King. By giving Him your leftover time; by making Him Lord of the things that don’t matter that much to you and holding onto the things that you really care about – that relationship, that child, that dream, that favorite thing – that sin. You can rob God by taking on a work for Him and just doing it halfheartedly, by being lazy or irresponsible in getting it done.

This is heavy on my heart in this season of mine and Anna’s life. We are so grateful for the ministry of this church and the opportunity to share Jesus with these young students and children, but also the whole church and the community! God is moving in big ways in this community and state and I’m excited to see where He can take this church!

Grace and Peace,

Ryan

RMMO Offering

During the month of December, we will be collecting our final mission offering, the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering.

Since 1935, American Baptists have contributed to special offerings received in their churches for retired ABC ministers and missionaries or their widowed spouses. In 1977, American Baptist Churches USA launched the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering (RMMO) to continue this tradition of thanks.   Offering envelopes are available in the pew racks in the sanctuary.

Christmas Shopping

by Helen Greene

With Thanksgiving passed and Christmas coming up we are ready to start plans for Christmas shopping for our Backpack Kids.  We receive a wish list for each child and try to purchase some of the items they request.  Almost every child asks for some clothing, shirts, pants, socks, underwear, etc.   With the $50.00 limit everyone shops for the best bargains.  If you would like to be a shopper for the Backpack Kids just contact me.  The $50.00 will be provided for you as well as the child’s name and wish list.

Thanks to each of you that has donated food or money for our Backpack Ministry.  May God bless you!

For the month of December please bring cans of pinto beans for our pantry. Donations can be left on the back counter in the kitchen.

A great way to show you care

The Adopt-A-Grandparent Program for the holiday has become so successful in the past because of your generosity.  A gift basket of lotions will be provided to each resident of Harper Mills in Beckley.  The cost is $20 and that includes packaging and delivery.  See Ann Coleman for further details.

The Bustle vs The Baby

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.”  Luke 2:16 (NIV)

“Hurry up! We’re going to be late to the choir concert!”

“Come on kids. Help dad unload these groceries right now. I’ve got to get these cookies baked before bedtime.”

“Is it 6 a.m. already? I gotta get to that door buster sale as soon as it opens so I don’t miss out on the deals!”

With the holiday season upon us, the music at the mall announces that folks are dreaming of a white Christmas. That may be true. But in reality, many folks are dreaming of something else white: a little more white space on our December calendars!

Pageants. Parties. Shopping trips. Baking days. Wrapping nights. At every turn there are people to see, things to do, stuff to buy. The hustle and bustle of this supposed-to-be-happy season can knock the holly-jolly right out of our holidays and replace it with hurried-up headaches instead.

As a result, our calendars become overloaded, crowding out the spiritual significance of the season.

I wonder if the participants in the original Christmas story ever dreamed that the celebration of Christ’s birth would become so hassled and hurried. The shepherds? The angels? The wise men? Mary and Joseph too?

Was hurriedness present the night Jesus was born? We might think that it was not. But actually, there was hurry present that night. However, it wasn’t to the mall or grocery store that people were rushing.

The shepherds were working in the fields when suddenly an ensemble of angels told them the Christ Child had been born. Luke 2:16 says they hurried off to find Him lying in a manger.

If I had been one of those shepherds, I would have been quiet and amazed once I got there. Being around a newborn baby makes me speak in a hushed tone and feel such awe as I see new life. In the presence of Jesus, I wonder if those men too were settled and silent.

Maybe we could do the same today. In the midst of our holiday hustle and tasks, we could stop; leave our work. We could slow down long enough to hurry in another direction. We could put our activities on hold so we might quietly meet with our Lord. We could be settled and silent in the presence of Jesus.

As a result, we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of sapping our energy and joy.

How about it? Will we pause and purpose to hurry into His presence instead of rushing from task to task? Dare we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about? The tasks will wait while we do.

Here’s to more “white space” this Christmas; space that creates more room in our days for meeting with Jesus!

Dear Lord, remind me daily that it’s You I should rush to during the holiday hustle. Not things. Not activities. I want to seek and find only You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pondering Verses
Luke 2:15, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'” (NIV)

Proverbs 8:17, “I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me.” (HCSB)

Doing Our Best

by Pastor Ryan Haddox

Tere’s a story that goes like this:

Many years ago in a textile factory there was a sign on the wall which read: “If your threads get tangled, send for the foreman.” One woman who was fairly new was a diligent worker, but her threads got tangled one day. She tried to disentangle them, but her efforts only made matters worse. Finally, she gave up and called the foreman. He came and looked for a few moments and then asked: “You have been trying to untangle them yourself, haven’t you?” “Yes,” she replied. “Why didn’t you send for me, according to the instruction?” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I did my best.” With much tact, yet, with great insight, he quietly said, “Remember that doing your best is sending for me.”

How often in life have we tried to straighten out our own messes, only to make things worse, and certainly not to solve things? We think that a little more human effort, a bit more human wisdom, and a touch of human ingenuity are the solution. But mankind in general and individuals in particular tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. Bad habits remain in place. Errors are repeated. We may even excuse our conduct by saying: “I did my best.” Then God gently, yet firmly, reminds us: “Doing your best is calling for me.”

Paul did the best that he could do, but it was not good enough. He mused: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate….I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do….Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:15-24). But Paul had learned that to call on the name of Jesus was the best he could do and the solution to his problem (Rom. 10:9-13)

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Ryan

Leitmotif (Thanksgiving)

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“Enter (God’s) gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.  For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  Abraham grew strong in faith as he gave glory to God.” (Psalm 100:4-5; Romans 4:20 NRSV)

Recently I watched a bit of the film Dr. Zhivago and I heard enough of the soundtrack of Laura’s theme which serves as a reminder of what happened in the story before.  Germans call this dramatic idea-leitmotif.

Of course, the Thanksgiving holiday has its traditions.  But memory plays a big part in what happens the third Thursday in November.

Memory is a two-edged sword.  It helps us recall heart-warming people and events.  But, family can also bring up mistakes we’d rather forget.  That’s why “the meal” can be so stressful.  Suddenly God’s grace comes into play.

Make a list of whatever you’re not thankful for and measure it against the foundations of our Christian faith.  All of these were written into the Apostle’s Creed which begins “I believe in …”  As Abraham did, in his fallen word, we, imperfect humans, must learn to walk by faith.

“Can we not trust God to give us everything we need?”  (Romans 8:32, Phillips).

French Catholic priest, Henri Nouwen, wrote, “We are God’s beloved children.  We cannot allow the curses of this world to darken our hearts.  We must choose to receive God’s blessings and pass them on to others.”