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.

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.

My Favorite Season

by Pastor Doc Adkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Unchanging Nature of God

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

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

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 Sometimes we feel outdated at work.

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

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

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

The Divine Foresight of God

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

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

The Wonderful Blessings of God

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

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

A Renewed Commitment to God

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

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

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

Life Lesson #10,000

by Pastor Doc Adkins

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have 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 say 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 is 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 his 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.

Hey, Preacher! Wanna get a cup?    

by Pastor Doc Adkins

…Be ye holy; for I am holy.  1 Peter 1:16

Many years ago while living in Pineville, WV, I had a great buddy in the church who every time he saw me in town would yell to me, “hey Preacher, wanna go get a cup”?  I must say most times, if time permitted I would.  We would go to the Pineville Restaurant and share a cup of coffee.  Most times the coffee was pretty good but there were a few times that it couldn’t have been worse.

I think everyone disagrees on what makes a good cup of coffee. With today’s hot coffee trend, we try all kinds of flavorings and different ways of experiencing coffee. It used to be basically served black or with cream and sugar. There wasn’t much variety.

Nowadays, people like coffee served and brewed a lot of different ways. We tend to disagree on what’s good. What we usually agree on is the basics on what makes a bad cup of coffee.

It can be weak, bitter, stale, cold, or soured by something we put in it and we’d probably all agree that it tastes bad. Face it. No one likes to drink a bad cup of coffee.

I don’t suppose people like those bad tasting Christians they come across either. I wonder what type of coffee we’d be.

Weak

When we are weak Christians, we don’t have much faith. Sometimes when we are weak we don’t know God’s Word enough to know what we stand on. The way to remedy our weakness is to add some grounds.

Dig into God’s Word and get grounded on the principles found in the bible. Study the attributes of God. Learn what you believe concerning doctrine and bone up on the basics of living the Christian life. Enrich yourself with a vibrant prayer life and rely on God’s strength and not your own.

Bitter

I’ve known my share of bitter Christians and I’ve been there at a few points in my own life but if bitterness isn’t dealt with, it starts growing and eating up your life. Bitterness doesn’t leave a pleasant aroma.

You can’t do much with a bitter cup of coffee. No matter how much cream or sugar, or even how much whip cream you want to plop on top, the bitter taste is still there. You have to dump it out and refill the cup with a new fresh brewed pot of coffee. Isn’t that just so like in the Christian life? No matter how much we add to our Christian lives, no matter how many good deeds we do, how many church programs we become involved with, if our bitterness is still there, we are still bitter and it hinders us in our Christian walk.

What we need to do is empty all our bitterness and ourselves of self and then allow the filling of the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives.

Stale

The dictionary describes, stale as “tasteless or unpalatable from age”. Do you ever get complacent about your Christianity? Just have lost that first love? It’s easy to do, especially for those of us who’ve known the Lord for a very long time. We kind of get weary in well doing.

I know we don’t want to just sit as Christians and not do anything but we do. “Unpalatable” doesn’t go far enough to describe us sometimes. I guess we need to freshen up.

There’s a worship chorus that says, “Holy Spirit fall fresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.” I think that’s what we all need so that we will get busy for the Lord. We don’t want to be Christians that just sit and get stale and tasteless.

Cold

You may have brought a cup of coffee to your lips that you hadn’t realized had gotten cold. You think it’s going to be warm and good and then you realize that it’s cold. We get that way in our desire to serve Christ. We grow cold as a Christian.

There are probably a lot of reasons. We get away from Christ, slowdown in our bible reading and prayer life, stop going to church and pretty soon we are cold.

What do you do to a cold cup of coffee? Most of us just add a little bit of hot stuff from the coffee pot. We go to the source of the heat. That’s how we should do as Christians. Go to the Source. Get on our knees and talk to the Lord. Draw closer to Him and then we’ll get warmed up in our Christian walk.

Sour

Have you ever tried something new in your coffee? With all those new flavorings and things out there, I’m sure some have. Ever tried something in your coffee that just left a sour taste in your mouth and that didn’t agree with you? Or maybe you’ve put some cream that had gone bad into your coffee. That’s a sure fire way to ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee.

It’s the same thing when we allow worldly and ungodly things into our lives as Christians. It doesn’t agree with us because we are in the world but not of it. As Christians, those things sour us and basically make us rotten. We become ineffective in our Christian lives when we allow the things of the world to come spilling in.

Conclusion:

I hope I don’t prove to be a bad cup of coffee. The verse, “…Be ye holy; for I am holy”,  1 Peter 1:16 is a powerful verse. One way of preaching it is talking about how spending time with the Lord brings that sweet aroma.

I think that’s what this is all about. In order to avoid being weak, bitter, stale, cold, and sour as Christians, we have to learn to be in the presence of God more.

Spending time with the Lord through prayer, bible reading and study is what’s going to make us into those strong cups of coffee. It will allow us to let the Holy Spirit stir us. I know I need to work on spending more time with Christ. I think we sometimes take our time with the Lord lightly. I know, perhaps, I do.

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 steal 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 wind is what makes the difference. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is compared to a “rushing mighty wind”.

So, how are you spinning?

Dickens and Change

Adapted by Pastor Doc Adkins

Some years ago, I had a college class that included some reading of literary writings from many different times of world history. I can’t say that I really enjoyed the class but I needed it and so had to do the assignment. One suggestion was some literary writings by Charles Dickens.  The only one I knew and “ever” read was, of course, the Christmas Carol, by Dickens. Little did I know that he is known by way more than just this one.  The below is an example of what I mean:

It was, by this time, within an hour of noon, and although a dense vapour still enveloped the city they had left, as if the very breath of its busy people hung over their schemes of gain and profit, and found greater attraction there than in the quiet region above, in the open country it was clear and fair. Occasionally, in some low spots they came upon patches of mist which the sun had not yet driven from their strongholds; but these were soon passed, and as they laboured up the hills beyond, it was pleasant to look down, and see how the sluggish mass rolled heavily off, before the cheering influence of day. A broad, fine, honest sun lighted up the green pastures and dimpled water with the semblance of summer, while it left the travelers all the invigorating freshness of that early time of year. The ground seemed elastic under their feet. . . .

The day wore on, and all these bright colours subsided, and assumed a quieter tint, like young hopes softened down by time, or youthful features by degrees resolving into the calm and serenity of age. But they were scarcely less beautiful in their slow decline, than they had been in their prime; for nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy, that we can scarcely mark their progress.

—The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

Charles Dickens idealized the countryside, perhaps because things in his town were often so bleak. Here, in his legendary descriptive style, he reveals the subtleness of God’s seasonal changes as Nicholas and his friend Smike walk through the landscape in springtime.

Just as God does for us in nature, He also changes the seasons of our lives. In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon wrote: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; . . . a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-5.

Everything must change. Nothing stays the same. Some changes—like the seasonal changes described in Dickens’s works—are expected, beautiful, and welcome. Other changes come unexpectedly, unwanted, and leave us wondering what to do. The answer for changing times is to put your faith in God, who does not change Malachi 3:6. Solomon said that God makes “everything beautiful in its time” Ecclesiastes 3:11. He transforms the winters of our lives into spring. When we accept the changes and ask God to make them beautiful, our faith grows and blooms like His landscapes in springtime.

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

 May we take heart in the fact that seasons change to give us a vision of the majesty of God.  Winter is gone and a new season of life has arrived. I so hope that as a “church family” we will see new life, new commitment, new growth and if need be new changes in all our lives we together we serve the Risen Lord.  

Spring Cleanin’

by Pastor Dooc 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 more light 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.

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.

New Year… New Beginnings

by Pastor Doc Adkins

God can make the impossible possible. When God told 100-year-old Abraham that he and his 90-year-old wife Sarah that they would have a child, Abraham dropped to the ground in unbelieving laughter at such a ridiculous idea, and Sarah joined him in the laughter (Genesis 17:15-17; 18:10-12). But it happened.

When an angel told the young Virgin Mary she would have a baby to be named Jesus, she asked how that was possible. The angel’s answer: “With God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:26-37). And it happened, Jesus was born just like God said.

He is saying that to you, too. Do you remember the time when a man brought to Jesus a little boy who often foamed at the mouth and fell down, sometimes into water or fire? This distraught father told Jesus, in effect, “I brought the boy to your disciples, but they couldn’t help us.” But Jesus could!

When the man said to the Lord, “If you can do anything…help us!” Jesus replied, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:17-23).

Our Lord said almost the same thing to his disciples at other times (Matthew 19:26 and Luke 18:27). And everyone who believes in Christ is his disciple and can trust him to help in seemingly impossible situations.

Faith and prayer are the keys to making the impossible possible—even though the process can be very slow and even if our faith is very small. Jesus said that faith as tiny as a mustard seed—one of the tiniest seeds on earth—can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).

When you face an impossible situation, remember:

“God is my strength and power” (2 Samuel 22:33).

“With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

“We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).

“God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

As we begin a New Year together maybe it’s time to break old habits, barriers and busyness that seem always to slow down our spiritual progress and journey.  Maybe a “New Start” is the right thing for you and me.  Let me suggest….

  • the need for better Bible understand: Sunday School
  • the need to more worship: why not Sunday evening or Wednesday night Bible study
  • the need to trust God more: try tithing
  • the need for broader circle of friends: Men’s fellowship or Ladies Aide Circles
  • the need for more family time: Church brings families together under one roof