Life Lessons

by Pastor Doc Adkins

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Matthew 5:13

I am not quite sure why, but the other day I saw a little girl having the time of her life evidently, with her own pack of chewing gum. First it was one piece and another and so on, until I heard her mother say, “you chew it all now there’ll be nothing left for later.” I nearly laughed out loud when I saw her reach in and stretch it out of her mouth as far as it would go. And then it happened! Smack! It broke into and now gum is in her hair, on her chin, and stuck to her fingers. Bummer!

Maybe I was just at the right place to see it all but maybe it was where I needed to be. Kids are God’s living illustrations to life.

Here are a few random thoughts that came out of the moment.

Don’t Get Stuck.
Sometimes we get stuck in our spiritual walk. We have times where we just get in a rut. We kind of get stalled and it seems like nothing is going to work to fix it. We may not be spending time in God’s Word or we may be reading our Bible on a regular basis but we aren’t getting anything out of it. It’s like stretching out chewing gum. Why do kids do it? Chewing gum was meant for one thing only. Chewing!! Our walk with the Lord is for one thing only, to bring us closer to Him

Don’t Lose Your Flavor.
Gum is only tasty those first few seconds that you put it in your mouth. It loses its flavor really quickly. How about you? Do you feel like life has chewed you up and made you lose your desire to serve the Lord? Infuse some flavor into your life by getting back to walking and talking with the One who can sustain you. Read your Bible more. Pray more. Draw closer to the Lord and allow Him to encourage you and breathe new life into you.

We have to make a difference in this world. Remember what Jesus said about being the salt of the earth in Matthew 5:13.…but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?…

Don’t Pop!
Have you ever been going along in your walk with the Lord and all of a sudden someone or outside forces brings you down? The air goes out and you deflate.

I’ve had that happen to me and it can really bring you low. I think that’s when we have to learn to keep our eyes on eternal values. We can’t allow other people or circumstances to pop our bubbles. We have to just keep on doing what we know is right and serving the Lord to the best of our ability.

We can also pop when we get too busy with life and forget to slow down. There is so much wisdom in that old phrase, “learn to take life one day at a time”

Don’t be Distracting.
Gum in someone’s mouth can be the most distracting thing. It can annoy us. It can throw us off focus. How about us? Are we living in such a way that we distract the cause of Christ? Do we bicker, gossip, and act unbecoming as a Christian?

Don’t be a stumbling block for others to reject Christ or for other Christians to falter in their Christian life. We have to keep our attitudes in check. We have to keep our tongues in check. We have to show the love of Christ.

Don’t Get Stuck to the Bottom of Someone’s Shoe.
Recently I got out of the car at Walmart and stepped in some gum. It was a little warm and that gum stuck to my shoe big time. I tried wiping it off by rubbing my foot in the little grassy area by the car and scraping my shoe on the cement but it just wouldn’t come off.

As I went on my way my foot kept sticking to the floor everywhere I went. I have to tell you that that sticky gum put me in a bad mood. I hate going to Walmart anyway but I just needed a couple things so I stopped there while I was out. By the time I left I was pretty cranky and out of sorts.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I realized that I had just let a little wad of gum spoil my day and cause my whole outlook to change. I was in such a good mood when I pulled into the parking space.

I had allowed that insignificant sticky gum on the bottom of my shoe to determine the direction for my day—that direction being a pretty miserable attitude.

I know I need to not allow circumstances or other people to control how I act. That day with the gum on my shoe, I had to stop right there and ask the Lord to forgive me and my attitude.

I think when we become that person with the bad attitude and the grumbling spirit; we end up being the gum stuck to someone else’s shoe. We start annoying them. We start being the thing that makes other people cranky and out of sorts.

Don’t Become Ugly.
Chewing gum comes out of the package all fresh and new. It looks nice. It smells nice. Look what happens when it gets chewed though. Chewed gum is just plain ugly.

It actually becomes little wads of ugly. We have the potential to become little wads of ugly too. As Christians, we have to continually allow the filling of the Holy Spirit and be sensitive to God’s leading or we will become dried out, ugly, and stuck to the bottom of a chair somewhere.

Don’t you love being around new Christians? They are full of life and eager to learn and serve the Lord. They are fresh and new and just out of the package.

Conclusion: I hope I can avoid some of the pitfalls of being gummed up in my life. I don’t want someone to look under a desk someday and find me in a wad, dried out, and stuck fast. I know I need to start by drawing closer to the Lord. Ever soaked a jar to remove a stuck label? That is what soaking in God’s Word can do for us. It can break us free.

God’s Word is like that Goo Be Gone stuff. It has the power to release us. It can help scrape us off of the ledge. It has the power to move us and get us unstuck.

When we are stuck and gummed up it clogs up the wheels of the cause of Christ. I want my life to count for the Lord. I want to make a difference. In order to do that I have to remember that the Christian life is all about being that salt and light of the earth.

Upsy Daisy

by Pastor Doc Adkins

Psalm 30:1 “I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up…

I’m sure you are familiar with the expression “upsy daisy”. It’s a phrase I have heard most of my life and yet for whatever the reason it seems forever ever ago since I actually have heard it. But, the other day, I saw a grandmother with her little granddaughter or maybe even great granddaughter and the beautiful little gal evidently had just learned to walk. Actually, she was doing pretty well but, it wasn’t the walking that seem to be the challenging thing…it was the stopping. As soon as she stopped…down on her little bottom she went and immediately Grandma, in that Grandma assuring voice proclaimed, “upsy daisy”. And you know what? The beautiful little girl laughed out loud. You see “upsy daisy” is the phrase we use when we want to give encouragement to our children when they are learning to walk or when they’ve had a fall. It means “up you go”.

I think that God does the same with us. We go walking along in our Christian life and hit some bumps in the sidewalk or maybe we even fall into a big hole and God helps us up and says, “upsy daisy”.

He brushes us off and tells us everything is going to be okay.

It’s not fun when we are down and we find our lives turned upside down. It’s sometimes hard to see everything in the right perspective when we aren’t standing upright. But we have a God who cares about us and is there when we get down and He helps us up.

There are some great examples in the bible of some people who had some “upsy daisy” moments.

I think of Job first and foremost. I guess because when he went down, it was with such a sudden force and a big thud. Here he was, going through life so blessed by God and all of a sudden, Job was laid low.

So much happened to Job in such a short time but God was with him all the way and in the end said, “upsy daisy, Job”.

Job is such a great example to show that when we don’t see God, God still sees us.

It’s like when a toddler falls down and doesn’t see his mother because she’s out of site for a little bit while he’s lying on the ground after he’s fallen. It’s kind of scary. But then after a few moments when he sees the face of his mother and knows she’s there to help him up, he’s okay again.

Job might not have been able to see God but God could see Job and Job knew God was still there within reach. What’s worth remembering is that even though he couldn’t see God, Job still obeyed God.

Job 23:8-12 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:

On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

It’s so exciting to see how God said, “upsy daisy” to Job. The Lord had a way of showing Job that all was okay. God lifted up Job and put him upright on his feet once again and “the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and everyone an earring of gold.

Job 42:10-12a So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.

Conclusion:

Maybe you feel like your life has been turned over on its head and you are feeling the pressure of an “upsy daisy” moment. Just hold on. God knows you are down. He’s not far from you.

I know it’s hard to be thankful for those “upsy daisy” moments in our lives but don’t you just love the fact that it is God that does the “upsy” part. It is Him that lifts us up. It may be through several circumstances that work together but God has His hand working in all of it.

There has been many a moment that I’ve wondered why I’d been brought so low but those are the moments that I’ve seen God the closest and had to rely on His encouragement the most.

If I just look around for Him and listen to His voice I know He’s there even when I’m down and I know I can get through anything when I have Him with me.

God has that way of giving us His presence and saying, “upsy daisy”. It’s all going to be okay. You’ll get back on your feet again. Up you go!

So, are you thankful for your “upsy daisy” moments?

Plantin’ Season

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. ” Psalm 84:11

I like this time of the year. Grass is green again, the birds welcome us to the mornings, flowers and trees give way to new life. Growing up on the farm, this time of the year became known as “plantin’time”. The garden was starting to take on shape, my grandfather was busy making ready the fields and such. Plantin’time was a very busy time.

There was an annual addition in our garden along with all the vegies, and that was the sunflowers. My grandmother always made sure they were some of these along each end of the garden. I don’t know why, just remember they always were there.

I think sunflowers are pretty cool. I love their yellow and gold tones in their coloring, but they also stand so tall and majestic looking too.

Sunflowers are one of those things you see everywhere such as on dishes, tablecloths, pillows, and other things for the home. They are right up there with roses when it comes to popularity. Did you know that even Picasso and Van Gogh painted sunflowers? Probably because they are such a beautiful and distinctive flower. (Don’t be impressed with this tid-bit of knowledge because I googled it.)

The following lessons were lessons my grandmother taught me.

Sunflowers Track The Sun.
Most plants are attracted to light but the flowering head of the sunflower actually tracks the sun following its path and moving toward where it is in the sky all during the day. I read somewhere that sunflowers track the sun when they are in bud stage. Isn’t that how it usually goes for us as Christians? When we first come to know the Lord, we get excited about knowing all about Him and living for Him, but after awhile we sometimes grow a little preoccupied with other things and get our eyes off of the Lord.

Wouldn’t it be great if as a Christian we’d track the Son of God and follow Him all day long? No matter what was going on in our lives and throughout our day, we wouldn’t take our eyes off of the Son.

Sunflowers Need to be Stabilized.
The second thing I’ve learned about the sunflower is that it needs to be firmly planted in the soil in order to grow. Sunflowers grow so tall and their stems become so heavy that they will topple over if they aren’t stabilized in the ground.

I know as a Christian it’s very easy to topple over if we are not grounded in the Word of God. We need to know what and why we believe what we do so our feet are firmly planted and we won’t falter in our Christian growth.

Sunflowers Produce Seeds.
Did you know that a single sunflower can have up to 2,000 seeds? When we think about sowing seeds as a Christian, just think of the potential reach that each of us can have to spread the Gospel. It could be limitless if we would just sow those seeds.

Sunflowers Produce Oil.
The oil that the sunflower produces is considered a good oil with healthy benefits. As Christians we should be producing the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith). All of those have some healthy benefits on us as Christians and on others that we meet.

Sunflowers Resemble The Sun.
Sunflowers not only follow the sun but when you look at them, they resemble the sun too. Resembling the Son should be one of those things we do as a Christian. Being Christ-like is an essential part of being a Christian.

Conclusion:
When I think about the lessons from the sunflower, I remember Ephesians 5 where it’s talking about following God and all the ways we are to act as Christians. It starts out in the first couple verses by saying,

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” Ephesians 5:1,2

The chapter goes on in detail on various topics of Christian living and mentions all those bad things we are to avoid, starting with “fornication” and it goes on from there. In verses 15,16 it says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

It’s what getting up and following the Son all day and being a SON flower is all about. It boils down to walking in the spirit, following God, and living Christ-like as a Christian should. So, what’s God ‘plantin’ in your life.

The Power that Keeps Us Turning in the Right Direction

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

Just some weeks ago I was traveling on I-64 E coming back into Beckley and as I passed the Erma Byrd Center I notice that the big windmill beside it was spinning around like crazy. The wind was just “whipping “through the air that day and boy did the windmill cut a shine!

Then not long ago I saw a little girl with a colorful pinwheel. She seemed intrigued at watching it and waving it around to get the blades to turn. I amused myself at watching her get it going really good and the use her finger to stop it. It surely did keep her attention. You remember the pinwheel from our youth, we all had one and how much fun it would be watching the colors fly by as the wind blew the blades and we used every imaginable thing we could to stop the blades and then start over again.

Most of us know that pinwheels or windmills don’t just spin around on their own volition. There has to be a wind source of some kind. You have to blow on it with your own breath or take it outside and allow the wind to move it. (Just a thought of from days gone by, “don’t stick your pinwheel out of the car window unless you hang on to it really tightly”…just a lesson learned).

Of course pinwheels and windmills won’t spin around on their own strength. That’s just like us as Christians. We can’t spin around on our own either. We need God’s strength and power.

Sadly, some of us try to spin around in our own strength anyway but we are not getting very far. Some of us have got some things stuck in our blades that are blocking our wind.

Our power source is the Holy Spirit, and that is a powerful wind. So much can be accomplished for Christ when we allow the leading of the Holy Spirit in us. Just think about the disciples. They turned the world upside down.

We’ve all got things that get stuck in our blades and slow us down or even make our effectiveness for Christ come to a complete standstill. Here are a few that came to my mind.

Power Blockers:

Bitterness
Whew! This one can really be a clog in your wheels. If you have bitterness in your life, you have to deal with it in order to have the power you need to keep spinning. Bitterness can rob you of your joy and eat away at you until you’re not useful to anyone, let alone God.
Let all bitterness…be put away from you. Ephesians 4:31

Unforgiveness
If there is a rift between you and someone else and you don’t deal with it, it’s like running a rod right through your blades. You are not going to keep spinning with something like that stuck in your life. You’ll find yourself not doing anything for Christ.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Our Own Will
Trying to spin around all by ourselves and in our own direction isn’t going to work. We have to give ourselves over to what God wants for us, which at times may not be exactly what we might want. Living with our lives in tune with Christ daily is the only way we’ll be sensitive to His will and not our own.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1,2

Unconfessed Sin
Of course if we have unconfessed sin in our lives, it’s going to affect how the Holy Spirit works in us. We can’t have something between God and us or there’s not going to be any wind flow.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Conclusion:
We often block the “turning of God” in our lives. We keep our guards up and don’t let the Holy Spirit get to us even when we need to be refreshed. We steel ourselves from being touched by a special song in church, or by a sermon, Sunday School lesson, and worship service because we’re too inward focused and not Godward focused. We go into defense mode at invitation time because we don’t want to go forward and deal with our issues even when we feel the Holy Spirit trying to work in us. We miss out on so much power that way and by keeping those power blockers stuck in our blades. Those things grieve the Holy Spirit which we are told not to do in Ephesians 4:30. We need to allow the breath of the Holy Spirit to go all the way through us so we can spin round and round doing the things Christ would have us to do.

If we are Christians, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. We have to be sensitive in order to allow His working. Remember that the winds are what makes the difference. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is compared to a “rushing mighty wind”.

So, how are you spinning?

Spring Cleanin’

by Rev Doc 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 lighter 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.

Always know where the exit is!

by Rev Doc Adkins

This is a crazy thing to remember…When I was a kid I can remember a teacher telling us that anytime we went anywhere in a public building that you should always know where the exits are–that you should always make a mental note of it when you sit in your seat for whatever function it is. And I remember being told that you just don’t look for the nearest one, but that you make that mental note of all of them that you see, because for some reason you may not be able to get out at the nearest one in an emergency.

I guess that was good advice, and I have always remembered it, especially when going to a big concert or big event in a huge building. Hey! If there is going to be a mass exodus–I don’t want to be the one left behind.

Yeah. Maybe I’m just weird and nobody else thinks like that, but you always have to sit and think about something quietly while waiting for a function to start. Me? I look around and familiarize myself with the building. Okay, I look at people too. Wow! There are some strange people in this world! How about we say I’m observant, not weird.

At this time of the year we are thinking about all our plans for the New Year. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in all the little nuances of life. Little tiny details tend to slow me down so that sometimes I can’t see the big picture. I need some exits!

So I was thinking I need some exit strategies. You know, I need to be able to have some alternative plans if things don’t go too accordingly. I need something to think about to recall me to be focused on the task at hand. I need to bring myself out of the rabbit trails that I chase. I need to plan and prepare. I need to keep on a schedule and all those things. I’ve got to stop getting side-tracked because time goes so quickly.

1 Corinthians 10:13. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I know I need some exit strategies where my planning and organization is concerned, but what’s important is that for the New Year is that I don’t forget to have those exit strategies in place in my spiritual life. I have to be prepared.

My Spiritual Emergency Exit Strategies.

  1. Submit to God. (James 4:7)
  2. Have a strong prayer life. (Matthew 26:41)
  3. Know God’s Word. (Hebrews 4:12)
  4. Keep good company. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  5. Be more like Christ. (Romans 13:14)
  6. Go in God’s strength–not my own. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  7. Be watchful. (1 Peter 5:8)

The Season of Winter

by Pastor Doc Adkins

Song of Songs 2:11-12 “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. New International Version

Winter has always held a magical place in my heart. I enjoy winter most of the time. Oh, I know the hardship of slick roads, winter illnesses from being “cooped up” most of the time. Yet I don’t mind the snow. I do mind the cold but not the snow. Have you ever noticed how much quieter and cleaner the world looks after snow.

Again, I am reminded of the farm house and those early days of my life. It doesn’t snow as much in Hinton as it does here in Beckley, but when it does it can be a “doosey”. Yet the farm was always picturesque. Everything was white and beautiful, and the whole of nature seems to be in deep peace.

Changes comes suddenly in the snow. I knew what the garden looked like a few weeks prior, and I knew that the white flakes have covered fallen brown leaves, withered grass and plants. It’s was all there, but it wouldn’t be seen now as long as winter lasts.

The winter may seem unpleasant to many, but frost and snow in our country are an indispensable part of life. Without winter, spring and summer wouldn’t be what they are.

There are seasons in our lives too. And we often have difficulties in understanding why they are there. Why do we have to pass through winters with barren branches and frozen ground, times without flowers and fruit, without singing and joy? Why?

It’s good to learn from the way nature works, because He who created us also created nature, and through His works we can better understand Him, and His ways.

Winter may seem a time of death, but in reality it’s a time of rest. When harvest is over, trees aren’t ready to bear new fruit immediately. They need a rest, and winter gives them time to do that.

Many of us get so easily caught up in a treadmill of producing all the time. ‘God can’t be satisfied with me if I don’t produce anything for Him, can He?’ is the way we think. But in His grace God allows a winter season in our lives, to give us rest. He doesn’t expect us to bear fruit when it’s winter, and we would do well if we could learn not to expect fruit when we should be having a rest.

At the same time winter is preparation for new flowers and new fruit. Under the snow, in the unseen depths something is going on. It’s only on the surface that it looks like death. Under the surface life is active and stirring! Roots are filling up with nourishment, and buds are bracing themselves for spring. In late winter it only takes a sunny day, and you see how the buds begin to break forth! They were ready for it.

All this Covid virus is making such changes and adjustments in our lives, it hard to adjust to changing seasons. BUT, rest assured that our loving God has all of us in the palm of His hands and covered with His grace. All this has changed our way of thinking. Dread and despair are not easy to overcome. When you inwardly go through a time of winter, you may well withdraw from many expressions of life, but that doesn’t mean your spirit is dying. It only means that for a time you are resting, and preparing for a new season, a season of flowers and growth. God takes you aside to prepare you for what is to come, and without that thorough preparation, you won’t be ready for a new season!

So, if you’re in a winter season in your life right now, it’s not the end! After winter, comes spring. All part of God’s plans for His children. Be prepared, one day you’ll suddenly become aware of an irresistible pull in your spirit that tells you winter is past, and the time for singing is upon you again.

Waking Up to the Good Stuff

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“The morning is just the most important part of the day”, my Grandmother use to say. Life in my grandparent’s house started early. When you think of the morning, they are clean slates on the day and you get to choose what you do with it. By evening it is just a little too late to start planning your day so why not start it out right at the beginning to get things accomplished and spend time with God before we get bogged down with life?

I can remember how my grandma used to fix breakfast in the mornings, most every morning. She didn’t just pour a bowl of cereal or throw a pop tart in the toaster. She probably didn’t even know what a pop tart was. My grandmother fixed real breakfast food—the good stuff!

I have such memories of my grandma’s country farm kitchen and her frying bacon, sausage and eggs too. Never scrambled ones. They were always over-easy, sunny side up ones. Next came the biscuits. Homemade of course. Not those kind many of us pop out of cans. Then came the gravy. White, country style. Of course when I was a kid I loved white country style gravy. I still do! I guess because it was all my family ever fixed with anything. Then, after all this, when good ones were available, my grandma would get a few tomatoes and slice some on a plate to put on the table. In our family it seemed like no meal was complete until there was a plate of freshly sliced tomatoes on the table. The table would always be full. My grandma believed in fixin’ the good stuff. All this topped off with really cold milk, hot…hot coffee and water. You had to drink at least a glass of water. Just ‘cause momma said so, that’s why.

God also fixes the ‘good stuff’’. He has so much planned for our days but do we miss it because we don’t get up early and spend time with Him? Do we anticipate His goodness and kindness to us each day? Do we seek Him early like David did?

“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” Psalm 143:8

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3

I do have days that I don’t start it off right. We all do, but if we don’t try to spend time with God by reading His Word and communing with Him in prayer at the start of our day then how will we ever be conscious of Him when the afternoon hits or when evening rolls around?

My! How much ‘good stuff’ He offers us. We are given blessings, promises, love, guidance, strength, and protection. We need all of God’s ‘good stuff’ to make it through the whole day.

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22

Hope you’ll keep your alarm set and wake up to the good stuff!

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.

CliffsNotes Living

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:5

Do you know what CliffsNotes are? You may remember them from high school or especially in college. I probably should have given them credit somewhere on my degree. Perhaps you used them yourself or you may remember your teachers discouraging you from using them. They are those little study guides for books. Kind of condensed highlights for a book. They’ll tell you things like who the main characters are in a story, the highlights of the plot, and things like that, but they don’t give you the whole story. They give you just some of the details, not all of them.

I think sometimes we rely too much on what we’ve made into our own Christian living CliffsNotes. We develop our own condensed highlights when it comes to the Christian walk. We have a page that tells us Who Jesus is, why He came, how important He is. We’ve got a page set up for some of the main Biblical characters that we learned about perhaps when we were younger in Sunday School, but we don’t know really any more than that. We have a page in our CliffsNotes that highlights what doctrine we believe. We may even have a page of several Bible verses that we’ve memorized and have under our belt.

I think it’s great that we may know all those things and have them handy to refer to, but the problem comes when we never continue learning. If we don’t continue to learn, we miss out on the meat. We miss out on all those little intricate details that God put in His Word for us to find. Our CliffsNotes are not going to carry us through. Sure, it might be great for a guide, but we have to dig into the Word and really allow ourselves to be taught on a deeper level. I think that asking the Lord to teach us can help us get started on the road to learning more.

Teach Me Your Way.

“Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” Psalm 25:4
“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.” Psalm 86:11

Teach Me Good Judgment And Knowledge.

“Teach me good judgment and knowledge.” Psalm 119:66
” For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Teach Me Your Will.

“Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143:10

Teach Me Your Law.

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” Psalm 119:12
“…teach me thy judgments. Psalm 119:108
“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” Psalm 119:34

Teach Me What To Say.

Remember how God helped Moses in this area?

“Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” Exodus 4:12

“The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” Proverbs 16:23

Teach Me To Number My Days.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Teach Me Right From Wrong.

“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” Ezekiel 44:23

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2:11, 12

Conclusion:
The Christian life is more than living on our own CliffsNotes but I know it’s sometimes what we end up relying on. Some of us have even allowed others to help write our CliffsNotes for us. We rely on what they say completely, sometimes without checking it with God’s Word.

It’s great to learn from others, such as preachers and good teachers, and read good Christian books, but relying on that alone gets us into that CliffsNotes living realm. We’ve got to study the Word of God for ourselves and learn from it ourselves.

All those things are great that we’ve learned, like the 12 Disciples, the 10 Commandments, points on doctrine, and all those Bible verses we’ve committed to memory. It’s just that we need to keep digging and be willing to learn more. We don’t want to miss out on any of the details that the Lord has for us.

With the Summer ending, vacation time running out, school and college beginning (or at least this is the plan), We see the rise of a new season coming on. A season that is going to challenge us mentally, physically and spiritually. Let’s move from Cliffnote Christianity and into a truly growing season with the Lord. “teach me”, Psalm 25:5

So, are you ready to learn more.