Autumn Reflections 

by Pastor Doc Adkins

Each day, as I drive through our town, I notice that change is happening all around me! The air is getting a little crisper…The leaves are transforming from deep summery shades of green into a rich rainbow of gold, yellow and red…Night is falling upon us a little faster…Summer is fading and autumn is arriving!

Autumn has always been one of my favorite seasons of the year.

Autumn is a season of change, a season of transition, a season of renewal.

It’s also a season filled with hustle and bustle. It’s the time when children go back to school, young adults go away to college, and parents are pulled in a thousand directions! Autumn is an exciting time – but in the midst of all of our activities, it’s important to stay focused on God and make the most of every precious moment.

Autumn Is The Season To Set Godly Priorities   “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

We all have busy schedules, but even on our most hectic days, just as we make time to feed our bodies, it’s also important to nourish our souls. Take time to listen for the still, quiet voice of God to see where He is leading.

Autumn is a time when lots of interruptions may come your way – but not every one of them is from God. As you reflect upon the opportunities before you, ask God for His wisdom as you plan your days. When in doubt, apply Scriptural principles to your decision-making.

Autumn is the season to set our priorities in accordance with God’s Word.  Fall. It is a season that reminds us of endings. Once thriving leaves now drop from their branches bursting with color, but dying. Beautiful summer flowers have lost their grandeur and now succumb to hues of brown and gray. Colder temperatures flow in and bright, long days full of sunshine move out. We are inundated with change. We are regularly reminded of our helplessness to stop the flow of God’s creation. We are caught between summer and winter in the fleeting uniqueness of autumn. Though the season brings its own joy with fabulous scents and colors of orange, yellow, and red; we know it is the end of summer and the start of a period of dormancy and cold.

As we enjoy the changes of fall, let it remind us of a vital truth. I believe God intends for us to see with physical eyes something that points to a lasting, spiritual truth. When you look at a fallen leaf or disintegrating, summer flower; think this thought:  “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” (I Peter 1:24, NIV)

Autumn Is The Season To Make Every Moment Count.  ”There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

As our children go back to school and our families adjust to their new fall routines, it’s more important than ever to ensure that our families spend quality time with God and one other! This is just another reason why attending church is so important.  It’s all about time.

Autumn Is The Season To Thank God For His Many Blessings…”The land yields its harvest; God, our God,  blesses us.” – Psalm 67:6

Autumn is also a season of thanksgiving. It’s a season of praise. It’s a season to gather with family and friends to thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us. It’s a season to share the love of Jesus with others by blessing them with the gifts that He has so generously shared with us.

God blesses us in so many ways – both material and spiritual. As you reflect upon the gifts of the season, what are you particularly grateful for during this time in your life? In what ways is God providing for your need.

School is Back in Full Swing

by Helen Greene

On September 22 I attended the American Baptist Women’s Ministries Fall Rally.  The theme was Hunger Action Month.  We all learned of the different ways churches are serving those facing hunger.  It was interesting to see the diverse groups each church targets. The offering that was taken was combined with a $200.00 donation from American Baptist Women then divided among the five ministries represented.  Our backpack ministry was given $83.00.  We are very grateful for the donation.

I was approached by Mr. Wood, the former Vice-Principal of Beckley Elementary, as I was leaving the meeting.  He was our “Sound Man” for the event.  He told me that he observed our Backpack Kids on Friday afternoons when they came to the office to get their backpacks.  He said he could see them smiling and happy when they got their food.  He said “The kids will forget almost anything but they did not forget their backpacks on Friday”.

For the month of October, we will be collecting granola bars.  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!

I Don’t Like Leftovers

by Ryan Haddox

At the risk of appearing snobbish or ungrateful, I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t like leftovers, i.e. cold food that is in need of being reheated. I always have the best of intentions to pull last night’s meal out of the refrigerator, throw it in the microwave, nuke it, and consume it, but I fail to do so time and time again. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve eaten my fair share of leftovers, but I can’t honestly say that I enjoy eating leftovers. The food never seems to taste or look the same. It lacks something.

With respect to your Christian walk, do you realize that God is not interested in your leftovers? In fact, Jesus says that we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33, emphasis added). Among other things, this means that God should come first in every aspect of our lives. Indeed, we should NOT give God our leftover love (Matt. 22:37-38), time (Eph. 5:18), thoughts (Phil. 4:8), service (Gal. 5:13-14), or money (Prov. 3:9; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8-9). In the mind of God, such leftovers lack something.

Being content with giving God the leftovers reveals something about the person who has this attitude. John said, ”We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:9, emphasis added). God loved us all so much in the midst of our sin that He took the initiative by sending His Son into the world to die in our place (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). God gave us His very best; in return, He expects the same. Indeed, contentment in giving God the leftovers exposes an ungrateful, selfish attitude.

Leftovers are fine when it comes to nourishing our physical bodies. At times, leftovers are unavoidable, even necessary. However, with respect to God and our spirituality, life of leftovers is unacceptable, especially when we take into account the example of His Son (cf. Phil. 2:5-11).

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

ABW October Update

Patty Richmond will be taking over the ABW used stamp collection project which Norma Gunter previously handled.  So save your used postage stamps and leave them in the church office in the container on the counter.

The ABW Fall Rally was held in September at Crab Orchard Baptist Church.  The focus of the rally will be hunger in Raleigh County.  The offering collected that day was divided among the four active churches for their food programs.  It was a great program and a fun time was had by all.

Please pray for the ABW Ministries program here at FBC as we strive to meet the needs of our women and seek new direction for our program.

Shoeboxes is Celebrating a Birthday

by Debbie Vanaman

Twenty-five years ago this year a very small lady from Ikes Fork, West Virginia got the idea to go up and down the hollers of her community and collect items to be put in shoeboxes and  then to take those shoeboxes to the children in countries like Bosnia and Kosovo.

Well since that time over 150 MILLION shoeboxes have been distributed to children around the world and through this effort, countless numbers of children and families have heard the name of Jesus Christ and many have given their hearts to the Lord.  Some of those children now even working for Operation Christmas Child sharing their testimony of how that one shoebox has changed their lives and the lives of their families.

We here at FBC have been involved in this program almost since the beginning and every year your support and giving to this ministry truly blesses those children.  Even in these troubled times, you share your blessings and help a child who literally may have nothing more than the clothes on their back with a shoebox that contains things like soap and a washcloth, a toy, a book, some personal items and maybe some school supplies.

For the month of October, what I am asking you for you don’t have to go to the store to buy.  We are pretty much set on everything we need for our youth to fill the 100 shoeboxes that they will be putting together next month.  What I am asking for comes from your checkbook.   What is needed is $9.00 for each shoebox that we fill and if you do that math that’s $900.   Now that might sound like an awful lot of money but if 100 people gave only $9.00, it would be done.  Or if 50 people gave $18.00, it would be done.  While I know we have support from people who have donated throughout the year for the shipping costs, still more is needed.   So if you write a check, just put shoebox postage in the memo line and place it in the offering plate on Sunday mornings or mail it to the church.

I have heard the testimony first hand of how these shoeboxes have changed lives and this ministry goes 365 days a year distributing shoeboxes around the world.  Please keep them in your prayers as they spread the name and gospel of Jesus Christ.

Coming of Winter

As fall is now officially upon us, we here at Helping Hands turn our attention to the coming of winter and the need for winter clothing, blankets and coats for men, women and children.    Many of our families have little to no heat in the winter so blankets go almost as quickly as they are donated.  So any winter clothing or blankets that you can donate would be greatly appreciated.  Please hold your spring and summer clothing until next year as we have no room to store the off-season items.

The need for non-perishable food items grows each month as the number of clients and families is growing.  We average over 700 families a month and that’s just the average.  Some days we help anywhere from 60 to as high as 90 families with food, clothing needs and some personal items if we have them.   So on your next trip to the grocery store, please pick up some extra canned items or non-perishable food items to lend us a hand.

Lastly, please keep Helping Hands in your prayers as we continue to meet the needs of the citizens of Raleigh County.   We thank you for your continued support and prayers.

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.