God says, "I love you and want you to
realize who you are." I was the one who
put you together in the first place. I love
you so much that I came down there to live with you. While I was there some of you, didn't like me
or understand me, so you killed me. I am
sorry you didn't realize who I was. But,
now you can see, because I rose from the dead.
I want you to become who I created you to be. I want some of you to preach and to tell my
good news. Some of you, I want to become
missionaries. All of you, I choose to be
working with me in the hills or in the place where I have put you. You can be sure of this. I have a special job for you. Would you remember who I created you to be,
and show others what I have shown you?
Remember I created you to be you and you are not like any other. You are the only you I made. Be yourself and become like Me. I don't make any mistakes. Don't be afraid of the others who may not
like you, because I love you. Hopefully
one day they will also see who I am.
Look in the mirror! What do you
see? I see you and you are
beautiful. I am your Heavenly
I believe a combination of things have
brought me to where I am today and to writing this book. But I write this because I like to write
about our home in the hills and to tell
the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
This old, old story for me begins in the hills and hollers of the
southern coal fields of WV. The
coalfields don't have a good reputation in many parts of our country, but I
wouldn't want to live anywhere else. My
experiences there and in other parts of
the hills have helped me to see my purpose for being and for living. So I get up in the morning to the sound of
the birds singing their happy song because it is another day to live, and I am
happy to do it. God laid on my heart the
message you will be reading in the following pages of this book. It may at times be a hodge podge of stories
but if you hang in there and keep on keeping on, you will finally come out on
top of the hill. I am not going to try
to completely explain everything to you.
That isn't my job. My job is to
give you the story and let you think, pray, and make your own conclusions in
your life and experience. God speed to
you on your trip.
"The Hood in the Hills"
We loved to hunt and I grew up shooting rabbits and squirrels
with my first gun which was a 20 gauge single shot (Poke Stock)
Winchester. Then somehow I got hold of a
recurve bow. My cousins and I would
shoot our wooden arrows straight up and then run under their dad's shed when
they would flip over and come back down to earth. I wonder if he ever figured out how he got
holes in his roof. Don't tell. That is something we would never do is to
tell on another unless it became a matter of our life and death. It was great fun but we never killed anything
or anyone. We were just having fun in the hills looking for
something to do. It never seemed to be
too hard to find something to get into.
We would rabbit hunt without a dog.
We would climb trees, burning slate dumps, and coal tipples. We would go fish and swim in the local beaver
pond. Dig through the creek by flipping
over rocks and collecting as many crawdads and lizards as we could. We never did anything with them we just
caught them and let them go. That was my
past in Marfrance, WV, on Pork Chop row.
Think of time as an arrow.
The past is the fletching, the present is the shaft, and the future is
the arrowhead. Consider the past. What do we have to praise the Lord for in the
past year and the past time? Will you
tell the story? What has God done for
The shaft of the arrow of time is the present. It is the present that holds the past
(fletching) together with the future (arrowhead). It is the present that is a gift from God. That's why it is called the present. This is the time that we have to go with the
Lord from the past into the future. What does the future hold? Let's see.
God says, I know the future and I
am there and here going with you all the way.
Let's see. Where do you want to
go today and tomorrow? Wherever you
go, there you will be. Make sure it is what you want. Some folks say I don't know where I am and I
don't know where I am going, but I will soon get there. It's just a matter of time.
"Penicillin, Nurse Adkins", was the Doctor's orders. Doc Todd,
as we called him, was our town's only doctor. He gave lots of penicillin shots and mixed
his own special cough syrup that tasted like paint thinner. But we are still here today because he helped
us to heal. He set the broken bones and
touched our lives through our physical ailments so that we were healed. Do you have great pain? Are you having trouble focusing on the tiny
things in life? Are you constantly tired
of going on? Are you burning up with a
fever? Is your throat constantly sore
and irritated? Is your body functioning
as it should be? It may be time to see
the doctor. The two times I remember
being in the hospital as a patient, I
remember having great pain and a non-functioning arm. As a matter of fact I had broken my arm
while I was playing football. The other
time was much later when I had a constantly infected throat. That time I had to have my tonsils removed
before I could recover and be returned to a normal measure of health. The doctors and nurses played key roles in my
recoveries and healing. But the healing
could not have occurred if my body had not healed of its own accord. That healing came from the Great
Before we can begin to help others and live the life, we must
be healed. We must go to the doctor to
get healed and helped. You may live an
earthly life without a doctor, but you can never live an eternal life without
the Great Physician. Before we can
live, so that others can see Christ
living in us, we must come to Him for healing.
He is the Great Physician Who heals all of your diseases. We can get medicine and follow the plan of
care to find healing, but without Christ we can never be completely
healed. Are you whole? Will you come to the Great Physician?
When I was going to college I couldn't stomach the food, but
I still had to pay for it. There was only one way to get out of that
bill. I had to have a doctor's
excuse. Doc Todd was the only Doc I
knew. I went to Doc Todd to ask him for
an excuse. I explained to him my distaste, my diseases
resulting from the college food, my financial situation, and asked him for an
excuse. After a second or two, he looked
at me and proclaimed that "by God, I had to eat that stuff and so do you." So I left him without an excuse to keep from
paying for the college food I loved to hate so much. I guess sometimes we might go to the Great
Physician and ask for relief from pain, suffering, and unpleasant
experiences. Mom has spoiled us with so
much good cooking that anything else doesn't quite measure up to our taste
buds. God says, I lived there too, you know, and I know what it is like to be
crucified for trying to help people. We
too are told to pick up our crosses and follow Him. It isn't an easy life but it is sure worth
it. Can't wait to get my desert, so don't forget to keep your fork.
Lift the veil. Pull back the curtain. Turn on the light. Are
you holding the light in the right place?
I can remember as a young boy wanting to help my Dad. Dad could fix anything. In the darkness of the basement I was often
asked by Dad to hold the light. I would
soon lose my attention and shine the light in the wrong place. Dad was quick to remind me to hold the
light. Then as a coal miner we would use
our lights as means of communication when we were working. Underground in the mines you could see how
strong the darkness is if there is no light.
In the darkness you would be totally lost. With no hope of finding your way unless
someone would turn on the light. If you
waved your light in a circle it meant to come here. If you waved the light up and down it meant
ok or yes. If you shook your light from
side to side, it meant no or stop. We
always knew to never shine your light in another's eyes. This would cause pain and the one to whom you
were talking to would look away. There
is a lot of communication done today in the way we shine our light. Think about it.
Another time Dad was digging on our backed up septic
tank. The tank was located in our drive
way because the rest of our small yard would have been up hill. Of course water and waste won't go up
hill. He said he got tired of beating
the shovel on the rocky ground so he just pitched the shovel out of the hole
and said that he was going to throw that shovel away. Then he saw me grab the discarded shovel and
cross the road to throw it away. I just
pitched as far as I could down the hill into a huge briar patch. I don't think he really meant to throw it
away. But I didn't know that. I just took him at his word. He had to cross the road and descend into the
briar patch to retrieve his only shovel.
Whatever he said was the truth and the law. He ruled our roost and I knew that I better
not cross him, because he would put the fear of God in you. I wished we could listen to God and take Him
at His Word. We have no fear of God and
for many they haven't decided if He really is.
He told Moses, "I Am." We are all
grown up now and think we have to question everything that Dad says. What could happen if we could only take Him
and His Word to be the whole truth?
Would our lives look much different?
Growing up in a coal camp in
Western Greenbrier County in West Virginia,
I wandered through the woods looking for something to do. One of our favorites was to take an axe and a
saw and build cabins or clubhouses out of trees that we cut down in the
woods. There was no doubt about it, we wanted to build and we did. Although we
never finished any of those cabins, we continued to build. It was the joy of our life to try to build
structures to have some type of joy and fulfillment. The question for us today is the building
question. To build or not to build? When is it time to build in the church, the
family, the community, and the country?
What should we be building anyway?
When should we build? Are you
ready to get started?
As a boy scout I was taught to be
prepared. We would make sure when we
went out that we had all we needed to survive any situations that may
arise. Waterproof matches, extra clothes,
heavy sleeping bags, and plenty of food were just a few of the necessary items
we took with us camping. We were
prepared until that one camping trip proved us wrong. The unexpected spring snowstorm caught us off
guard. All of the boys ended up in the
same tent just trying to stay warm. They
looked like a pile of pups one on top of the other in their lean-to tent
covered with a half inch of snow.
Are you prepared for whatever may come in
your life? Do you have life
insurance? Do you have health
insurance? Do you have auto and home insurance? What about spiritual insurance? Are you ready for the time when the groom
comes back? Are you prepared for life
Returning home from our camping
vacation, we found our house had been broken into and ransacked. After consulting with our neighbors, we
discovered that the thieves were some of our neighborhood kids. The neighbor had seen them entering our
basement, but instead of trying to stop them he locked the door and kept them
in. After the thieves had destroyed our
house they left out of the other door
taking the spoils with them. We
discovered that our most treasured possessions were vulnerable. After discovering who the thieves were we
proceeded to recover our stuff. We went
straight to their house. Dad took me
along too and I really don't know why.
He didn't need me. He could have
whipped the bunch of them with one hand.
He told them that if we didn't get our stolen stuff we were going to
kick butts (in so many words), until we did.
We all have treasures. What do
you value? Which is so important to you
that you would do whatever you had to do to get it? Is it money, possessions, houses, lands,
families, homes, life, immortality, or eternal life? What if someone just gave it to you? God has given to us an eternal hope through
Jesus Christ our Lord. You don't have to
take it, but you can receive Him if you believe.
The poor rich people of the mountains
lived in abandoned coal camps and paid little or nothing for the old company
houses in which many lived. Dad told me he had paid 400 dollars for ours. We lived on what the ole timers called Pork
Chop row. That was the row of houses
which belonged to the bosses. They were
given the best. From what I have heard
lately, coal miner wages haven't changed a lot. We had long narrow yards that were divided
by square link fences and red dawg alleys.
We came to find out that we were poor, but I thought we were rich. Our moms stayed home to take care of the
kids, the housework, and of course, Dad.
My next door neighbor told me the other day that they would look out
their window and watch our color TV
set. He said that Daniel Boone was on,
and I remembered exactly the time and the show that he was talking about. We all had been making do with the old black
and white tv set, until Dad had gone into debt for the 900 dollar color console
TV. We were rich and we didn't know it.
But we were happy. I could never
really understand why Dad wanted me to go
to college. I wanted to go
anyway, but now I understand how important it is to get an education and go on
in life. It is good to live up the
holler in the company house with the long narrow yard with neighbors so close
you could watch their TV. Life doesn't
end up the holler, although the road does, which is blocked off by a big yellow gate. The timber company has bought up all the land we used to roam on. You don't roam now unless you own or pay the
land company for the lease to get a key to the gate.
It doesn't matter who
is buried up there in the cemetery. You
are going to be walking if you don't have a key.
Well guess what, I got a key. I could have made do with what I had but
someone showed me something better and I said yes, I want that for me and
mine. Once upon a time most all the
folks I knew were doing well in these mountains. There may have been an occasional scuffle or
an argument or two but nothing like what we read about in today's
newspaper. I have been going over to the
Regional Jail to minister to the inmates
there with my friend, Coach. The
majority of people we see in the volunteer services we hold there, are white
males from the age of 25 to 40, who are in jail on a drug or sex related charge
or problem. Our churches are going down
and our jails are going up. I wonder if
we could find a key to the promised land.
It isn't hard to see the spiritual need in our beautiful hills. I just got word the other day that another
Baptist church is dissolving in a neighboring county. I believe we have been making do for too long
and for all the wrong reasons. I
wouldn't say it was a sin to make do when you have no other choices, but it is
a sin to make do when more could be and should be done to make a difference in
our communities. Some have the attitude
that my pastor called the "us 4 and no more".
He said it was when we only cared for me and maw and brother and
sis. Others have reached the point that
all they will do is grunt and scratch their heads. Making do is what we have become. So the world, sin, and the devil have made do
with us. Do you remember the parable of
the fig tree that Jesus taught us?
Luke 13:6 Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his
vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7
So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now
I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut
it down! Why should it use up the soil?' 8 "'Sir,' the man
replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and
fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine!
If not, then cut it down.'" 
We have made do for many years now with the church,
Christians, and religious organizations which have brought us to where we are
today in the mountains. We are spinning
our wheels and going downhill faster than we realize. Where is the fruit on the tree? Where are all the fruit inspectors out on the
hills who are quick to judge others and separate themselves so they won't be
polluted? Why don't you fruit inspect
yourself and your church? After all you say it is all right to inspect the
fruit.( I Cor. 11:31)
God says He is tired of making do with
the same old sad bunch of trees that
won't bear any fruit. God says it is
time to cut it down! I don't want to see
more of my children neglected and abandoned for hell by that bunch of trees who
are good at making excuses. But, wait
you say. You aren't ready to be cut
down. One more year He says. Leave it for another year, but first I am
going to pour the fertilizer to it. Now
is our opportunity. He is pouring the
fertilizer to us now. Are you going to
keep on doing the same things we have been doing or are we ready to work
together with the Lord and each other?
If you don't have any desire to see the lost saved and the world changed
you aren't serving the Christ who died for me.
He gave His life so that others could live but we are still making do
with the same old thing. Why not get
together with the Christians in your town or community and ask God to show you
how you can work together to save the lost before it is eternally too
late? Could we try something different
one more time and one more year? Are you
satisfied with the life you have and do you show your indifference to others in
your lack of effort to make a difference?
It is time to get out your keys to the kingdom of heaven and unlock
those gates. It is time to storm the
gates of hell and set the captives free.
It is time to stop being so concerned that someone else may believe
differently (liberal is what we call them) and join with Christians in your
area to grab someone before they go down to the pit of hell to never
return. What can we do? What can you do? Will you at least try? Would you ask God to show you? Do you need a shovel and some
fertilizer? Let's dig and work
The Church on the Hill
My first church was located in Sutton, WV. I remember on visitation in Sutton, when my deacon
and I visited a fellow who lived up "Old Woman's Run." After we told him the gospel story we asked
him if he wanted to become a Christian.
But, sad to say, this fellow rejected the Lord's will for his life. He said that he felt that he couldn't be who
God wanted him to be. He said that he
couldn't live it. He wasn't ready to
try. Without the Lord no one could ever
measure up to becoming a child of the King.
That is why Jesus came. This is
one of the reasons for writing this book.
It seeks to answer that problem.
How can we ever become the person that God wants us to be?
On a trip to Wisconsin I enjoyed the flight there and
back. It was my first time in an
airplane. On the way out it was clear
sailing all of the way, crisp, and clear so that it was a very enjoyable trip,
but on the way back it was a different story.
It was over-cast and foggy when we took off and we had to climb into and
through the clouds. While we were going
through the clouds I was very anxious, but the pilot took us straight through
the clouds until we were safely on the other side. Now, we were looking down on
the cloud band which we had just punctured.
We made it although it was quite a bumpy ride. Finally we crossed the Ohio River and we were
safely back in the green hills of the promised land called WV.
The pilot will bring you through.
Don't jump out of a perfectly good air plane. We are riding the storm out safely in His
arms. He won't let go. Faith is belief in the unseen God and
allowing that God to affect the life you live.
Hebrews 11 Now faith is being sure of
what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
are experiences that give you the opportunity for your faith to be seen. We can truly experience the living God
now. I believe one of these experiences
is called worship. But there are
different levels of experiences one may have.
You can hear about it, read about it, watch it, do it, and be involved in
it. Which of these levels of experiences
have you had with the Lord? Have you had
I went to college to become a mining
engineer. For four years I read book
after book and did multitudes of papers about things that I had never actually
experienced. I had taken a few field
trips into the depths of the earth, but until I actually put on my mine light,
self-rescuer, and strapped on my kneepads.
I had never truly experienced the act of mining coal. I had never held a number 2 shovel in my
hands and shoveled coal on my knees. I
had never cranked the handle of a Joy 21 SC, an underground truck, and hauled
the coal from the loader to the tailpiece in 40 inches of coal. I had never felt the shock wave from the
explosion that occurred when the fireman would shout the warning "Fire, Fire,
Fire!" The blast from the dynamite made
me feel things and experience things I had only read about. I had heard others talk about mining, but now
I saw face to face. The face is the
place underground where the shovels, machinery, and dynamite hit the coal to
dislodge it for moving. I saw it. My view of coal mining underwent a major
change. I had spent time with those who
worked daily miles underneath the surface of the earth to claim the precious
treasures that lie therein. Why, because
we liked those paydays. I had been
changed. The coal that we took out from
under those hills became that which supported us and protected us. We earned our living by taking the coal. We also left in the hill huge blocks of coal
to hold the top from falling on us as we worked.
A man by the name of Noah had heard of
God and probably read about Him. But
until the day that the Lord called out his name and asked him to build him an
Ark he had never truly experienced Him face to face, as we have read the story. Although we are never told that Noah actually
saw God, we are told that the Lord spoke to Noah on a first name basis. Noah's faith brought him face to face with
the Lord. That relationship changed the
face of Noah. He and the earth would
never be the same. Noah came faith to
face with the only true living God, who would forever change his life and the
life of his family. The God who told
Noah to build an Ark for his protection from the judgment, became his Lord and
Savior. He had been changed.
How is your vision?
When I was 27 years old I realized that I couldn't see long
distances. After going to the
optometrist, I was fitted with my very first pair of glasses. I could see.
The not so obvious, became visible again. Can you see what lies ahead? Do you want to see what lies ahead? Which way will you go? If you will see as the Lord sees the future
then we have our vision restored. I was
amazed at what I was missing.
Hello Moto was an ad campaign designed to get people
connected through Motorola cell phone products.
Hello God is a movement to encourage people to begin to pray like they
have never prayed before. Will we get
connected with the Lord of Hosts?
Without prayer the church is a lighthouse without a light, a
lion with no teeth, and a car with no gas.
We ain't going nowhere without prayer.
The church does not run on clever programs, but on the prayers of the people and the
Spirit of God that unlocks the door to the powder house in heaven.
When I worked in the coal mines there was
a small building by the road on the way to the mines. That block building was called the powder
house. I had heard of powder and I had
read about dynamite, but I had never had the opportunity to see what it could do
until I got my shot firemen's license.
Then I had the right to use it.
The cutter would undercut the coal.
The driller would drill the holes for the powder to be inserted into the
coal and then the shot firemen would come in with the powder. That was me.
I was excited. Then the fireworks
started. The power in that dynamite
would separate the coal from the rock and make it possible for the coal to be
hauled out and used in furnaces to produce the desired fire. We have the dynamite in hand. It is called prayer. If we want to see people saved, then we must
pray. If we want to see God work, then
we must pray. Fire up those prayers and
see what the Lord can do. Do you
Have you ever been in a covenant
ceremony? Today's modern wedding is just such a ceremony. I remember when my wife and I celebrated our
wedding at a country church in Nicholas County,
WV. We had a great time holding
hands, exchanging rings, saying our vows, kissing, eating cake, and drinking
punch. We agreed to give ourselves
completely to the other so long as we both shall live.
What is the Lord's Supper?
It is a celebration of a new covenant.
A covenant is an agreement, a treaty, a promise, a contract, and a
pledge. The original covenant ceremony
was made between the Lord and his disciples in the upper room. Today, we celebrate the renewal of that
original covenant with the new disciples who are here today.
every covenant there was a ceremony that sealed the agreement. Both parties would be present to certify
their participation and consent to the arrangement. God's covenant with people began in the
Garden of Eden. After the children, Adam
and Eve, had eaten the forbidden fruit;
He agreed to forgive them and clothe them. Although their disobedience had caused them
to know pain and death, which is the result of evil, God agreed to watch over
them and ultimately deliver them from their plight and give them victory over
Abraham received the covenant of God and
believed in Him. He followed God to a
place he had never been. Although his
love for God was tested, he passed the test and became the father of the
children who would ultimately give birth to the one who would be God Himself.
The sealing of the covenant agreement
would be marked with a ceremonial meal.
Comparable to the wedding reception that follows today's modern
ceremonies, this agreement meal would involve both parties; the bride and the groom who are entering into
an agreement of lifelong love and complete devotion. They
hold hands, exchange vows, exchange rings, kiss, cut the cake, drink the
cup, and dance together to mark the beginning of the occasion.
When the Lord knew that His time had come
He sat down in the upper room and took the last supper with His disciples. There they celebrated a new covenant. He said to them, "Do this in Remembrance of
The Hounds Of The Hills
Who will speak for the Lord? The Lord called me to preach in March of 1983. I can remember clearly how the Lord spoke to
me about taking up the task of preaching His word to His people. I can remember having a great fear. I was afraid of what people would say. Since my Dad was a pastor I felt that people
would think that I was becoming a pastor just because of him. I was afraid of the response of people when I
preached. I was afraid of what they
would say and do to me if I preached exactly what I was commanded to
preach. I was afraid that I wouldn't
know what to say or do. I was afraid of
how they would look at me and that they wouldn't like me. I have had nightmares that when I would begin
to preach they would get up and leave or leave during the message. I was afraid that the people would try to
tell me what to preach. I was afraid
that people would want to physically beat me and threaten me.
In the last 30 years of preaching and the
last 27 years of full time pastoral ministry I will have to say that I have
seen most all of my fears come to pass.
Don't feel sorry for me. Through
the midst of those fearful times there is the presence of the Power. This is the Spirit of the only true, living
God who launches His spokespersons as lights into a world of darkness. He is the power that propels the message
through the earthly messengers. But,
through all those fearful times I have witnessed the power and presence of the
Lord to deliver me, help me, strengthen me, guide me, protect me, forgive me,
use me, provide for me, and make me who He wants me to be. The greatest joy of
life is to know that you are who you were created to be by the Spirit of the
only, true living God of the universe.
So now I am thinking whose shoes am
I wearing? I need to step out of my role and
calling and step into their shoes for a while to see where they are coming
from. I know where I came from but what
about them? "Try to put yourself in
their shoes. Think as they think. Walk as they walk and talk as they talk. Why do they do what they do? How do they feel? How will they hear this?" Anger, hurt, loneliness, and pain, with no
alternative is the experience of many.
It is something as opposed to nothing.
Maybe that's why some folks hurt themselves. It is something. Try God, as my pastor would say. He is just what the doctor ordered to give
your life the pick me up you need to carry on.
He is our life.
In the original left behind story Elijah is
carried up into heaven in a whirlwind.
The chariots of heaven separate Elijah from Elisha, then Elijah is blown
into the sky and up into heaven by a tornado (whirlwind). The amazing part of this story is what/who he
I remember a man who was a brother in
Christ. I first met him in the 1980's at
a youth camp at our Baptist camp in Cowen, WV.
It was obvious that this man loved the Lord and he loved the youth. He wanted to do all that he could to lead
them to Jesus. He later was called into
the ministry. We were together in
seminary classes and saw each other from time to time. He was called to pastor at a local Baptist
Church. At the church, he continued to
pour his life into the ministry and people of that area. Especially the youth of that town were
touched by His unflinching hand of sacrifice and service. Several years ago he started his own youth
camp at our 4H campground. His dream was
to create a local camp that was inexpensive for the youth and effective in
leading them to serve the Lord. One of the emphases of his camp was good
clean fun. It's fun to serve the
Lord. Since he was taken up to be with
the Lord, will his mantle and vision be continued? Who will do it? Who will care?
Remind us about what has happened in
the past. What happens when the people of God don't
show up? September 11, 2001 is what
happens when the people of God turn their heads from the obvious evil we all
face. No one wants to have their world
shaken up, but isn't it better to shake things up now for the better, than wait for them to be shaken up by the
devil, as we experienced on that horrible Tuesday in September. Can
we do something new? It will be
new to you and new to us. He is about to
do a brand new thing. Would you look for
it and become a part of it?
high School senior once told me that he had signed up for the National
Guard. A couple of weeks later he told
me that half of the company where he had been assigned was called out to go
overseas. I asked him if he had changed
his mind, but he said no. On June 24, he
will be taking off for his training and then he will be put into active
duty. He had made up his mind to go. He has inspired me to believe in the students
of today who have made up their mind to go and serve in the armed forces to
protect our freedom to choose, to live, and to be who God wants us to be. We are free to choose to be whatever we want
to be. Will you choose to be all you can
be? How can you know if you have chosen
to be all you can be? I believe there is
only one way to really know for sure, that you are being all that you were
called to be. Join the Army of the
living God. Let God have you for His
you ever lost your keys? Have you ever
locked your keys up in your car or your house?
You needed to get in somehow, but you didn't have a key. You may have had the keys that someone else
wanted. I remember once being locked out
of my truck with the keys lying on the seat.
The problem was that I was several miles into the woods. So I had a good long walk back to a telephone
(before cell phones). Locks supposedly
were made to keep out the bad, but let the good in. Yet, sometimes everyone gets locked out, including the good. That's why some are smart enough to know the
difference and responsible enough to open the door. You have been given the keys to the
doors. Did you bring your keys? Bring them in from a field of sin. Time is running out.
What are the keys? The
keys to the kingdom of heaven are:
Faith. There is a God and He has the power to give
you eternal life.
Knowledge. Jesus Christ is the Son of the living
Desire. Do you want to go to
heaven and to live forever with the Lord?
Action. You will carry through with your beliefs and desires. Jesus invites us to go with Him to
heaven. If you don't act on that
knowledge through the faith to believe that He will save you and give you
eternal life, then you will be lost.
Cooperation. We need the Lord and each other
to be more effective in our ministry.
Love. The agape love of God that
brings together the self-sacrificing Christians. People who are willing to give without the
thought of return.
Persistence. Keep on keeping on with the
work of the Lord. It is hard work, but
we aren't afraid of a little work.
Prayer. Pray that God will show us the
teenage daughter had recently begun to
drive. For her birthday she was given a
set of keys to the cars. Giving the keys
wasn't too bad, but allowing her to use those keys has been a source of
nervousness for me. Although she really
is a good driver, there is a lot riding on her ability to use those keys. I have had to learn to trust her. I know that she will need some time before
she is able to take those keys without me riding in the passenger seat. She will be able to do it. We had to be willing to give her those keys
in the first place.
pass on the keys? In the church we have
to be willing to pass them on. If we
will, then things will continue long
after we are gone. Giving the privilege
of ministry is great responsibility and a great privilege. A friend was telling me the other day of some
old songs that he had heard. Unless
someone passes those on, they will be forgotten. Let's hand off the keys, so that they work
of God can continue.
Stoke Up The Fire On The Hill
What is revival? Do you need revived? It is CPR,
to the believer and to the church that is fading in their life and in
their relationship with the Lord their
God. Revival can bring back to life the
one that was failing. The difference is
the picture of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead or a blind man who
now can see. On the other hand, a lack or need of revival
can be seen in the rich young ruler in the NT, who was religious but turned and
walked away from the very One who would give him newness of life.
Who needs revival? Do
we as a church need revival? Everyone
has his or her own view of revival. But
the old song says, "Revive Us Again."
We always need to draw closer to God on a daily basis. Yes.
we need to be revived. Do we need
to have extra services in our busy schedule to draw closer to the Lord? Yes, we have decided as a church during our
business meeting to hold these services to stimulate revival within our
church. Can you vote in a revival? Should you have to have a motion on
this? Church business meetings are
strange beasts. I can remember when one
pastor stood before the business meeting to ask for forgiveness for mistakes he
had made. But it didn't even get a
second. So, no forgiveness there. This revival
is what we feel the Lord has led us to do. It is not because we have always had revival
services, but that we feel we need to
draw closer to the Lord. We need to make
an extra effort to come back, so that we can move on in our spiritual
life. If we have a revival it will be
because God sends it to our lives and to our church. Let's pray that the fires of revival may
spread to each of us. May we be drawn
closer to the Lord.
have a friend who has been a pastor for 15 years. In that time he has spent countless hours in
giving of himself to others. After a
series of problems related to his ministry in the church, he decided to resign
from the church and take another better paying job to meet his financial
needs. Since leaving the ministry a year
and a half ago, he said that only three people called to see how he was
doing. Where were all those people he
had ministered to through the years?
Where were all those pastor friends who gave the impression that they
cared? He said that many people might
say they love you, but when it comes time for you to receive love and care, you
will find out who really loves you. What
if nobody called for you? What if nobody
came? What if nobody gave? What if nobody cared? What would I do? How would I feel if I were in his shoes? Why should we care? What is the right way? Remember what Jesus said:
John 15: 9 "As the Father
has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you
obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's
commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my
joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command
is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no
one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 
Jesus Cares? There is really only one way for us to keep from having a
daily pity party for ourselves. We must
be reminded that someone does care.
Someone did come for you. Someone
did love you enough to die for you. His
name is Jesus. He gave the greater love
and now He shows us that we need to give the greater love. If we stop giving the love, then we will stop
enjoying the life that Christ has given us.
This is what tends to happen to all of us. If you feel yourself getting into the
self-pity mood, don't linger there too long.
Get out by giving yourself away to someone else. Then you can continue to enjoy the abundant
life that Jesus gives. There is secret
joy in the giving not the getting.
We give the impression that we
love, but do we really? This week began the spring gobbler-hunting
season. The hunter goes into the woods
and lures a gobbling turkey close enough to harvest. The first day that I went I found this turkey
who gave me the impression that he was really interested in me.
But, when it came down to making a commitment he wasn't about to. He went gobbling and running right down the
road away from my location in the woods.
His actions spoke much louder than his words. Are we guilty of giving the impression that
we love and not actually showing and giving our love to others? If we are giving then it will cost. Are you willing to pay? The proof is in the pudding. Jesus gave us the proof that He loves
us. He laid down His life.
Will we give into Jesus' love for
us? If we aren't living with the Lord, then are we missing what
we could have? Is it possible to be
living in sin and be a Christian at the same time? Do we love others the way the Lord loves
us? Will we love others the way the Lord
loves us? When we are unwilling to be who the Lord wants us to be then we are
living in sin. If we don't love and
forgive as He commands, then are we really living a Christian life?
Will we enjoy our life in Christ?
A coal miner told me that he believed that the people of the world who
he knew seemed to be much happier than those who are in the church.
He said that those in the world don't seem to have a care and that they
were overall much more satisfied. Love,
give, and receive His joy.
We are our own living memorials. As we live day by day we lay the foundation
for memories that we leave behind. Ode
Coombs said that each of us preach our own funeral by the life that we
live. He said that to me on the very day
that he graduated from this life to his heavenly home. Each of us carries the living memorials of
those who have gone on before us. If we
keep these memories alive we are living memorials. We need to tell the stories and share the
memories with our friends, family, and neighbors. This enables us to carry the grief by sharing
it with another, but it also keeps the memories alive. It keeps our loved ones alive. At times the memories can carry great pain
but at the same time this sharing can be one of the greatest blessings to us
and to others.
As believers and followers of Christ we have the greatest
privilege of being a living memorial for Him.
As living memorials of Christ we can keep His memory alive. That memory is the good news that a Child was
born in Bethlehem. He grew to be a man
who died for our sins. He arose the
third day and commissioned His followers to be living memorials of Him. This memorial can be the source of life
giving salvation to our friends and family who listen and follow as we
have. That is a memory. Do you remember the day that Jesus came into your heart? As we bear this memory, we keep Him with us
as we go. Have you seen any living
As living memorials we worship Him as our risen God. We have grown beyond the doubting stage, although many still doubt. We have reached the place where we no longer
have questions about His authenticity.
We know He is real. We know He is alive.
We know that He has ascended. And
we await His soon return. One of the
greatest memories that we can leave for our loved ones and friends is that we
were a believer. We grew past
doubt. We were a follower of the Lord
Jesus Christ. We had given our life to
the Lord. We were saved and
baptized. We were serving the Lord as
members of the local church which we attended.
We weren't just attendees but we were servants of the Lord in the
church. There is no doubt where we stood
with the Lord. We were striving to
become a living memorial of the Lord.
As Living Memorials we honor Him by carrying out his
plan. The mission of many a
Mountain Church is to advance God's
Kingdom to this generation. If we
fulfill this mission we will be carrying out the purpose that Jesus gave to His
disciples. He told them to go to all
nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach them all things by making them
disciples like we are. We carry out His
purpose when we go, baptize, and teach.
As we build our memorial, our friends and family have heard about Jesus
from us. They know who He is because
they have seen Him in us. We tell the
old, old story of Jesus and His love.
They have seen the way we care for others, even if they rub us the wrong
way. My friend says some folks have the
gift of sand paper. These always rub you
the wrong way. But others have seen the
way we care for the lost, the lonely, and the least of society. They have seen the way we give of our lives
including our time and our talents. They
have seen the way we were willing to give our money to the poor and our
humility to the prideful. They have seen
Jesus. They have heard the Word as we
told them what God said in the Bible.
They have heard Jesus. They have
felt a caring hand during times of grief and suffering, as we shared the tears of sorrow with
them. They have felt Jesus. They have witnessed our faith, testimony, and
baptism, and have been baptized
themselves. Jesus commanded for all those who would follow Him to take this
step of faith into His life. We have been born again and so have
they. They have followed Jesus.
As Living Memorials we glorify Him by depending on Him. Daily we live in the promise, as Jesus said
He would never leave us or forsake us.
He said that He was with us always,
even to the end of the world or age.
He sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost that we may all have the
continual presence of the Savior. As we
live daily in His presence we can enjoy the power of the Lord who lives within. He is always present to provide the words,
the way, or the whatever we need to
continue to abide with Him. A living
memorial continues to live, or it's dead.
When it dies, all that is left are the memories. That is why it is so important that we pass
on the Lord in this generation. This is
our generation, not theirs. The memory
of the gospel and the memory of our loved ones'
lives will be remembered only if we pass them on. The old song says that it only takes a spark
to get a fire going. But there must be
that spark that contains the fire of the Spirit that danced on the heads of
those believers on the day of Pentecost.
It is still carried on through you and me. We can
reach our friends, family, and neighbors. How can we do it unless it is in the power of
the Lord? That is why we say to Him
thine be the glory. We can do nothing,
but nothing is impossible with the Lord.
I will never forget the first wedding I had ever performed
and neither will the congregation. I
forgot to tell the congregation to be seated after the bride entered the
sanctuary. It was a good thing that the
service only took ten minutes. Then
there was the service when my daughter was asked to be the flower girl. She got stage fright, and it's a good thing that flower petals aren't
necessary to be legal requirements of the marriage license.
Some time ago our eldest, Meri, completed her driver's
test. She is now on the road. Can you remember when you first began to
drive? The thrill of driving is one that
completes your identity as an adult. You
can now drive and go where you want and most of the time when you want. We have welcomed the additional driving
abilities and assistance in our daily routines of life. But along with the abilities and privileges
come the responsibility and accountability of being a licensed driver.
We are a "going" society. Where have you gone? Where are you planning on going? Where will you go? Do
you feel like traveling on? Do
you remember the old gospel favorite?
A recent blackout in the northeast has left 50 million people
in the USA without power. The result of this power failure was
astounding. Millions of people were
stranded without any way to go home.
Stuck in the dark, in elevators, and in subways, these people were
caught in the dark. Thousands had to
abandon their automobiles and walk home.
Everything came to a standstill.
This blackout has shown us just how much we rely on electric power. The problem is reported to have started with
a lightning strike at the source of power at a Niagara Falls power
An even greater disaster has overtaken
our country, but it has gone almost completely unnoticed. We have a spiritual blackout in our
country. So many of our churches are
empty and many have closed their doors for good. Pastors are dropping like flies out of the
ministry. No one is coming to the
Lord. No one is giving his or her life
to Christ. No one is serving God. Few are worshiping God in Spirit and in
truth. Many who call themselves
Christians could care less. This apathy
of the spirit has led to a Spiritual Blackout of massive proportions.
What can we do to get the power back on
in our churches? What needs to happen
before the spiritual lights can come back on?
We must first realize that there is a need or a problem. Then we must decide that we want to discover
what the source of the problem is, and
begin to correct the situation. If we
aren't successful in this endeavor, we must realize that this problem will
bring disastrous results. The stakes are
Christians must live the gospel to
be successful in revealing the righteousness of God. Before we can
effectively preach the gospel we must realize that the true preaching of the
gospel lies in living the gospel. To
live the gospel is to allow God to live through your life. This is the righteousness of God that is seen
through lives that are lived in faith.
This is a quote from Craig Keener's Bible Background of
the New Testament
on Biblical faith:
(Biblical saving faith was not
passive assent but actively staking one's life on the claims of God. It was a
certainty sufficient to affect one's lifestyle; cf. Rom 1:5 Through
him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from
among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. .)
Are you ready to turn on the power?
This is the power of the Lord that shows us the way to eternal
life. Will you come to turn on the
light? Come to pray for your loved ones
and friends. Come to give your life to
Christ. Come to follow the Lord. Come to the light. Follow the light that God has given you. He is showing you the way.
How can we fight the spiritual blackout that is overtaking
our country? The blackout that has gripped
the Northeast of the country has caused us to be aware of the importance of
displaying the spiritual power of the one, true living God. Sometimes we may feel that the situation is
hopeless. We may feel discouraged
because this task is too large.
Paul would have been subject to becoming
discouraged. Since he had given his life
to Jesus, he had been persecuted and hounded for his proclamation of the gospel
of Jesus Christ. Here are Paul's
thoughts concerning the power that is in this pot.
If you are a believer here are some
things to consider. First of all you are
a clay pot with a power that is not of this world. This power is the presence of God. Within the life of each and every believer is
a power that is more than enough strength to turn your world around.
The Power is in the Pot.
God has chosen an unusual container for his great treasure. He has chosen to store his power in us. We are clay pots that are filled with the
greatest treasure in all the earth. This
treasure is the Lord himself. He is the
treasure that the world is looking for. We may be down but we are not out. We are dying so that He may be seen
alive in us. While we give our lives in
sacrifice to the Lord, the Lord comes through to give life to all those who see
It may seem that the task at hand is too large for anyone to
handle. Is there anything too hard for
God? He is the God of David the boy who
slew the giant. He is the God of Daniel
who spent the night in the lion's den.
He is the God of the three Hebrew children who survived the fiery
furnace. He is the God who raised Jesus
from the dead. He is our God. He can do anything but fail. Anything is possible to him who believes in
the Lord. If we believe, then our God is
able. He is able to shine the light out
of our hearts into the world of darkness so that people will be saved.
God became a man so that
He could become our sacrifice. He had to
die. What happened when God died? A fish
rots from the head down, or the fish lives by the head that leads, guides,
directs, and feeds. God's love, which is
divine and heavenly, was given
down. The earth shook, the sun darkened,
the rocks split, the dead raised, and the curtain ripped. All of creation moaned as the Creator gave up
His spirit. God felt the pain of death
for you and me. The curtain was torn
from the top to the bottom. God came out
and the people could see in.
Those who have the power,
those who have the light, and those who have the ability must be willing to take
the initiative. To those to whom much is
given, much will be required. Those who
have the house have to open the doors to those who are without. Those who are in the light have to give the
light to those who can't see.
God has given the example to
those who have the power, and He was willing to come down and give the lost
sheep the direction they need to find the way home. He was willing to go all the way to make sure
that all had the opportunity to come to salvation in Him.
God's body of believers called the
church can be compared to a team. It would be good to compare it to a football
team. Everyone has to know the play and
fulfill their job (execute) to be successful and effective in getting the
football into the end zone. This is our
goal and this is when we have been successful.
Learning to play was the hard part and then the execution of the play
produced the desired results. The
mission of the church is: To live our
lives every day so that others can see Christ living in us. How can we fulfill that mission? By becoming a part of God's
Association/family. Are you committed to
becoming a part of God's family?
years ago we were warned that there was a storm coming. We watched
it weave its way across the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was called Isabel. We were warned of what it could do. Folks postponed football games. People made changes in their schedule because
they knew that the storm was coming. It
came and it passed but we didn't see much more than a little blow and a little
rain and we were thankful. I believe
that many times we are threatened by the storms of this world and we postpone
our Christian lives. But one of the
distinct features of this storm was the prominent eye. This eye was huge. One of our church members has boasted that he
has surfed in the eye of a hurricane.
This is what God wants us to do.
He wants us to surf through the eye of the hurricane. As the storm moves, then the eye moves. So do we.
We move with the Lord as the storm of the spiritual struggle rages all
around. Go into the eye. In the eye of the storm there is peace and
calm that cannot compare. If you choose
to be an imitator of God then you choose to take a chance on the Lord and ride
through the storm of life living with Him.
In WV we
have a sport called Raftin'. Now going
down a huge wide river in a raft really seems to be kind of peaceful and
calm. But just before you go around the
bend in the river you can hear a rumble.
Rounding the bend you can see the cause of the noise. It's a huge rock in the river with waves and
water bouncing up into the air. Are we
really going to go through that? When
you look at the river, the huge boulders and waves, you would naturally think
that there is no way to go through there.
This is the way it is when we stand above the crowd to make a difference
for the Lord. Living out your faith in
a world that is pushing against you is not a peaceful ride. Don't become a changing lizard
(chameleon). Take a paddle and smack it
into the wave to ride above the flow of the current.
The boat: Living the Life you have been given through
Christ. You will be peculiar and
different. But you will be making a
difference for the Lord as people see you living with the Lord in the eye of
the storm and riding above the waves.
The paddle: Your
faith. Stick it into the water and give it a pull. This keeps you and the boat on top of the
waves and the water that will suck you under.
The wave: The storms of life and the rocks in the river
that cause the problems in your life as a Christian.
The life jacket: This is the presence of the Lord in your
life. This is the support of the church
and Christian friends. And this is the
prayer of the saints that lifts you with an unseen hand.
The Guide: Your guide for your ride through life with
the Lord is the Holy Spirit. He will
show you the proper way to go. Our guide
has taken us backward through the double Z on the New River. I thought it wasn't the right way to go. But it proved to be the best way to go to
avoid certain trouble. We had to trust
him to take us through. Will you trust
the Spirit to lead you to do the right thing?
The Helmet: In Eph. 6 the Bible tells us that the helmet
is the salvation we have been given from the Lord. Don't go into the river without your
helmet. Don't go through the storms of
life without the Lord, which is your salvation.
He will protect and keep you from fracturing your skull on a rock when
you fall out of the raft.
Surfing: Surfing occurs when you challenge the waves
of the river. The guide leads you to go
back up the river towards the wave. Then
when you get to the wave you stick the end of the raft under the edge of the
wave. This creates a storm of resistance
and a great amount of water and noise.
Just before you go under the guide leads you out of the wave and back
around to the eddy. Sticking your head
out and taking a chance on the Lord and following the leading of the Spirit is
just like surfing. You can really have a
lot of fun and you can make a huge difference in the world. Let's go surfing.
Falling out: This is
called going swimming. Actually you
should always strive to stay in the boat, but things will happen and you will
fall out. Some friends just having fun
may even knock you out. Be sure, you will
fall out. What do you do when you fall
out? You get back in. Get back in as soon as possible. Especially if you realize that there is
another huge wave or waterfall just ahead.
How can you get back in? It is nearly
impossible to get back into a raft on your own power. You need help. Someone in the raft has to reach into the
water and pull you back in. Pull someone
back in to the boat of the Lord today.
When I was pastoring my second church, I was talking and walking through the yard with my
eldest daughter when she noticed the garden plot that we had used during the
past summer. She remembered the green
garden we had that year and she asked me a question that I will never
forget. She asked, "Where were the
beans? " In my relationship with God in
Christ, I can see the Lord asking me that question. Where is the harvest? At the same time, I can see God giving me the
answer, the way I answered my daughter.
"The beans are in the jars waiting to be opened for dinner." In one way I feel the expectation of the Lord
asking me where are the souls or beans that should have been saved. In another I hear the answer of the Holy
Spirit saying that he has already taken care of the harvest for me. I am enjoying the present calling as a result
of the Lord who continues to work in my life to produce the fruit that he
desires to see. The Lord is in the
saving and preserving business (we call it canning). I am in the Lord's work to preach the gospel
and pastor the church as he continues to give me his grace upon grace.
What happened when the devil came in? One of my kin told a story about a woman's
funeral which he went to as a young boy.
This woman had reportedly given herself to the devil. During the wake that night someone came in
the door. Everyone ran but my kin, who
hid himself. He said it was the devil
that had come for the body of the deceased.
I wonder what would have happened if it would have been God instead of
the devil? What does it mean when the
Lord comes into your house? The devil
brought death, so everyone ran. The Lord
brought happiness so everyone came in to enjoy his presence. The devil isn't polite. He doesn't knock. He will try to sneak in. God stands and waits to give you the best of
life. Have you experienced Him?
Is it possible to win through surrender? When will you surrender? To triumph is surrender. Can you win and surrender at the same time? When is it good to surrender? Have you surrendered to the will or desires of
I remember as a boy having a hard time
surrendering. Often I would stubbornly
continue to demand my will and my way.
Then when I got it, I wasn't happy.
What about you? Have you learned
the fine art of surrender? It can be
called an art and it can be your greatest asset.
Are you in style? What
is the best style of all time? Are you
what you wear? Or does what you wear
show what you are? God wants the best
for each of us. He wants so much for you
to be the best that he has even told us what not to wear. But he also wants to show us what to wear, so
that we can be the best people of all time.
Since the garden of Eden people have been concerned about their
clothes. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden
fruit that caused them to become ashamed of who they were. Then they attempted to make some clothes from
leaves, but God intervened and said that He had other plans. He took the skins from animals and made them
some clothes that were much better suited to them. God made them to be in style with Him. He made them clothes that could not be
matched with anything that they could make for themselves. God still cares about what we wear. The spiritual clothes we make for ourselves
fall short of what we could have with the Lord.
Don't you want the best that life has to offer? Then try some of God's clothes on today. What kind of clothes does the Lord have for
us? Will you try out some of God's
The Just Desserts
Will you receive your just desserts? Have you heard that there is a reward? We get rewarded all the time. Do you like dessert? Dessert is that part of the meal that you get
once you have endured the main course.
Dessert is the sweet stuff. Why
don't we eat dessert first? Why not just
eat dessert and not eat any of the other stuff?
Well, if we had just eaten desserts,
then we would have become a giant piece of cake. But since we have listened to our mothers,
then we have our dessert at the right time and in the right proportions. Some want a big piece, and some want just a
There are many rewards in life. We get rewarded for working with pay. We get rewards of good grades when we do the
studying and pass the test. In track
when you win the race you receive a ribbon or a medal for the victory. People will promise you things if you will do
what they want. These are rewards.
Rewards come in many different shapes and
sizes. Have you ever heard someone say,
"I hope you get what's coming to you"?
This is called the just desserts.
This is what you deserve. Some of
these are good and some of these are bad.
Have you ever received punishment for disobedience? Have you ever had your pay cut because you
didn't show up for work or lost your reward?
I remember when the main reason for going to work was the pay. Now the main reason for going to work is the
Lord. He changes your perspective on
the reason for living, working, and being.
Does God give rewards? Will you receive your reward from the
Lord? Do you remember the following song
lyrics by Fanny Crosby (Public Domain):
comes to reward His servants, whether it be noon or night. Faithful to Him will He find us watching,
with our lamps all trimmed and bright?
If at the
dawn of the early morning, He shall call us one by one. When to the Lord we restore our talents, will
He answer thee, "Well done"?
Have we been
true to the trust He left us? Do we seek
to do our best? If in our hearts there
is naught condemns us, we shall have a glorious rest.
those whom the Lord finds watching, in His glory they shall share. If He shall come at the dawn or midnight,
will He find us watching there?
Chorus: O' can we say we are ready, brother? Ready for the soul's bright home? Say, will He find you and me still watching,
Waiting, waiting when the Lord shall come?
Life began at 3:30pm.
That's when I got home from school.
Our life began as we hopped on our bicycles, ran down the hill into the
woods to play in the creek, climbed a tree, or built a cabin. Even climbing on Indian Rock was great fun at
that point in my life. Life's biggest
challenge was playing for keeps, because I took a chance on losing my
marbles. Would I play for keeps? Is life for keeps? Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So occasionally I would play for keeps. My
cousin was the best shooter I knew.
He was in the marble championships in Beckley. He had one of the greatest collections of
marbles ever attained. I have all his
marbles now, since he has graduated from earth.
School was just another opportunity to play. It never meant much to me until I went steady
with my first girlfriend in the fifth grade.
Then life began when I got together with her. On the party line, in the hall at
school, at church, or wherever we were together, then I was alive. The alarm clock goes off and I wake up to
realize that all things good and bad do come to an end. Even life, relationships, and friends do eventually end through one way or another. So, is that all there is to this life, or is there more than what meets the
I was staring down at the red carpet in my study when I
finally accepted the fact that there is more to life than what we see and what
I wanted to see. My friend, Diddle
O'dell, taught me that long ago. When we
went to church, Diddle would always call
us kids over for a piece of Juicy Fruit
or Double Mint. We loved the treats he
gave us, but we also loved Diddle. He
was different. He didn't have any
legs. Diddle had lost his legs in a
mining accident and was confined to a wheel chair. I remember that Diddle did finally get a new
pair of legs, but to me he didn't need any legs. He was just a great man to be around. Diddle was one of the ushers in our church
and I remember one day he called me over to whisper in my ear. Hey Ronnie, would you scratch my feet because
they're itching. So how do you scratch a
man's feet when he has no legs. There is
more to life than we can see. There is
the unseen world that we see more and more as we hear the alarm clock and it
says wake up. Life here is limited but
know this: There is more to life than
meets the eye.
Growing up, such things as an unseen world never entered our
minds. But I can remember an awakening
of sorts. I remember thinking that there
was much more to the world than our little coal camp. They put up a sign in the intersection
downtown that said Summersville Dam so many miles. I found out real quick that it is not good to
say that backwards. So Dad explained to
me about the new lake and dam at Summersville and also the importance of saying
your words in the proper order. Things
began to take shape in my mind. In
college folks would talk about life, religions,
and how confusing it all was. My
neighborhood friend said that he didn't believe in Jesus because his brother
was a Jehovah's Witness. That too,
didn't really make a lot of sense because I thought everyone believed in
Jesus. Then one day I saw it!
Remember, II Corinthians 4: 16 Therefore
we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are
being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So
we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is
temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
The mountains in southern WV have provided some of the most
beautiful scenery in the world. I have looked at the bottom of a Hominy
Creek water fall, viewed an untouched stream as it fell some 50
feet to the rocks below, and stared down the gorge of the Gauley River without one cut in the
hill or smidge of a touch of anyone other than God. Nothing here can compare to what I see in the unseen world of the Spirit. There is more to life than meets the
eye. That's why life is so valuable.
The value of life is not determined by
how many days you have left, but by how those days are spent. Remember the dash between our birth date and
death says it all. So what does a day
cost, or what is it worth? That's how
you can determine the value of life. Go
into the life store and order up a week or two.
Can you pay the price? That was
always the big question. Do we have
enough money to go buy a candy bar or a bottle of pop? I have learned that things that are old,
unique, hand crafted, and valued by others are always more valuable. Actually the value of a piece is determined
by how much someone is willing to pay or trade for it. Remember, Jesus paid it all.
did a lot of trading. When we had
something we didn't want any more we would trade it off. You only have one life to live so don't trade
it off for a few moments of fun, but spend it for the future. Look at the unseen world that is to come in
just a few short years. After all is
said and done, 100 years from now what is really going to matter the most? I remember visiting a dying man in the hospital
and his wife headed everyone off in the hall way so we couldn't get in to see
him or talk to him. I don't know if she
wanted him all for herself or if she was afraid we might upset him by telling
him the truth in love. I asked her if he
had hope and she said yes he is going to take treatments and medicine and he is
going to make a comeback. I wasn't
asking about hope here, but about hope there on the other side of the river. Do
you have any? After all, it's an
appointment we all will keep. If you
have hope of a new tomorrow and eternal life, then your life here becomes so much
more valuable. You have something to
live and die for. We are ready to live
now and forever because He Lives! Christ
Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow
way. He Lives! He Lives!
Revelation 14:13 Then I heard a voice from
heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."
"Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will
follow them." 
If you live long enough you're gonna
die. Do you believe that? I do and I have seen it happen. Folks will get stiff and cold. They will stop moving and talking. They will assume room temperature and to us
who are warm and alive that is cold.
That's when they say you are grave yard dead and dead as a door
nail. Now I understand the grave yard
saying but what about the door nail. I
have seen door nails and they really don't look any more dead than any other
tack, nail, or railroad spike. But these door nails are stuck in a position
to hold the door up. To be cold, still
and forgotten, until someone kicks the door off
Why would you want to compare death to a door nail? I don't know that, but I do know that we all
have to walk that lonesome valley and no one else can go there for you. You got to walk it all by yourself. I have heard people talking about dying and
paying taxes in the same breath as things that you have to do no matter what. But Hebrews 9:27 says that, " it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment." No talk of taxes in that verse, but Jesus did
say to give unto God, and unto Caesar.
Around Memorial Day week-end is the time we normally start thinking
about those who have gone before us.
They met their appointment, so they are like door nails and grave yards
For many a mountaineer death seems to be the prize in the box
of cracker jacks that you don't want to open.
But it's there and somehow we have to learn to live with it, cause you
can't live without it. Try explaining
this to a 4 and a half year old. I was delivering my grandbaby to the
preschool, and on the way she asked me questions, but I wasn't paying
attention. So, the next thing I knew she
said, "Is Mamaw going to die when I get old?"
So what to do now. Do I tell her
the truth? Should I lie? Or should I try to smooth it over so that she
would never know that I lied or told the truth?
Well, being the truth-bearing individual that I am, I decided to tell it
to her straight, and try to help her to handle the awful truth of life. Guess what?
Bad answer! My Amy Leigh sobbed
uncontrollably as I prepared to drop her off, but before I did, I told her,
"No, MaMaw isn't going to die." I can't
believe I did that! I did, I said that
she wasn't going to die. Well, that
helped Amy recover enough that she did get out of the truck and go to
class. As she did, I heard the teacher
say, "You have been crying." I made no
comment and climbed back into my truck for my get away.
Getting old isn't so bad when you consider the alternative. But we all must walk that lonesome
valley. How can we make it through life
knowing that death is at the end? Many a
mountaineer has decided that life is all you get so you better make the most of
it and exploit it all. Take all you can
get and then some. So many have seen the
end of life as the final goodbye.
These have given up on
living. But wait, there is hope? Where is it?
Is it in the church? Is there
some hope seen there? The store owner
says why should I come to the church when the deacons there have run up a bill
and haven't paid. Others would say there
is no way I can make it to heaven so I am gonna live like hell. The church says that's right,
good bye and good riddance.
Jesus says, for those who believe in Him won't die but have everlasting
life and they will lay their bodies down, or
just go to sleep. They lay their tired bodies down and open
their eyes in heaven, because to be absent from the body is to be present with
the Lord. Now wait, I did tell Amy that
Mamaw wasn't going to die. I didn't lie
to her after all. For those who believe
in Jesus and they give their lives to Him will never die. Do you believe this? What if you don't cut your hair or shave your
beard or speak in tongues or do all these other things that people say we must
do to be saved. Paul said believe. By believing, he means to give your life to
Him/Jesus. You can't just say a sinner's
prayer and be done with God. Give your
life to Him and you can be saved. You
can make it through Him. It is amazing
grace. It is a gift of God. Don't boast about how you look, how you talk,
how you dress, how you act like you're not a sinner. You think you are so much better than
others. This faith, He says is His gift
to you and me.
Ephesians 2: 8 For
it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do. 
faith in Him to save you! Believe in Him
to be free to live without fear. Mamaw
and Pappy are going to lay these old tired bodies down but we will be with Him
who died on the cross and rose the third day.
Go rest high on that mountain.
Your life down here is done. You
can say you gave your life to Jesus and He took care of the rest. Don't look at others and compare them to
you. Look to Jesus who is the author and
finisher of our faith. Don't look at the
church, the preacher, and the requirements set up by man to help you to conform
to man's image. Follow Jesus and be like
Him and you are on your way, which is the way, the truth, and the life. Come follow Jesus. Don't follow me or anyone else. He will save you. He will save you now.
I John 5: 13 I write these
things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know
that you have eternal life.
Don't you know it? Go
rest on High!!!
To split or not to split that is
the question. We aren't talking about bananas or taking off to go to the
store. A split occurs when two parties
are unable to work out their differences and choose not to continue in a
previously existing relationship. Splits
occur in jobs, businesses, families, homes, schools, churches, states, countries,
and in all areas of our lives. I believe
that everyone has experienced a split of one form or another. What happened to you? How did you handle it? How are you doing now? You may be going through a split or maybe you
are considering splitting yourself. No,
I don't mean to separate your life, but you might be considering leaving a
relationship. Why? Why not?
How is it going to affect you and yours?
Why does it hurt so much? What does God think about splitting up? Does it matter to you what God wants and what
God says? If it matters, please continue
reading the remainder of this article.
God has some good news for you.
we have some history to consider. History is important because it shows us how
we have arrived. Living in the USA we
must all realize that our country has a beginning from a split. We split from the motherland in the late 18th
century through the revolutionary war and established a new country. As history almost repeats itself this new
country tried to divide during the civil war.
A very terrible split was avoided at the cost of thousands of
lives. The state of West Virginia came
into existence out of that conflict. Our
state is the result of a split. It seems
that many across our country and state have forgotten the cost of splitting and
the result of it. We have been born out
of a split. Our country is divided today
over the issues at hand. The election,
the war, the economy, the presidential candidates, and many other issues seek
to divide us asunder. Hold on! Is all this splitting right? Should countries? Should states? Should Christians and churches split? Should families split? Should spouses? Should you?
following passage of scripture we can learn some valuable truths concerning the
nature of splitting and what we should do.
Read Genesis 13:5-12. If
you are considering splitting or are/have been involved in a split, there is a
Word from the Lord for you. Consider the
previous Scriptural account of a split.
Who are the people involved? Abram and Lot and all their stuff.
the problem? Can't get along and not
enough land for all.
What is the solution? We have to split to try to find enough land
apparent solution to the problem was a split.
Many of the problems we face are much more complex and involve years of
problems that have been swept under the rug, so that the result is a huge
explosion that sends dust sailing everywhere.
Abram and Lot discovered that they could not stay together, so the only
solution was to split. Splitting maybe
the only solution to your problem. If
you have ever had to split you know that there is considerable pain involved. So, when the inevitable has happened you need
to realize that often there is no other way.
Begin the healing process inside of you and then you can get on with the
healing that is necessary for you and the others. Abram said that for peace to have a chance
for him and Lot they had to split. Peace
is the goal that we seek. Peace between
you and God, peace between you and you, between you and the family, you and the
church, you and the spouse, you and the neighbor, you and the kids, you and the
boss, you and the employee, you and that friend, and you and the world.
to disagree is the smart way. Once a
fellow Christian told me I was hard headed and I didn't realize that a
compromise was a smart persons way of resolving conflict. But, splitting worked in this situation with
Abram and Lot. In other situations it is
not God's way. A split occurred between
God and humanity in the Garden of Eden.
God didn't just forget about them.
He came down and made an effort to confront His children and let them
know He wasn't giving up on them. God
forgave them their sin and took care of them.
He made the first step. He sent
His only Son who was to reconcile us to Him. The price was His very life, but
He took the first step. Peace can only
be renewed between people when someone takes the first step. You must take the first step to reconcile the
situation. Splitting is not the only
solution to the relationship problems we face,
it is often the easiest. Do you
want the best/right solution? We often
choose splitting because it seems to be the only way. Have you tried taking the first step? Will you seek peace for you and them? God chose to make it possible to heal the
separation caused by our sin. He made
the bridge. Will you choose to cross
this bridge to get back to God? He wants
us to build a bridge to try to heal the relationships that have been
damaged. Then it is up to the injured to
cross it. Will you? Will we? Splitting seems to be the American - West
Virginian way, but it isn't the only way.
It is only one of the ways a problem between parties can be
resolved. Jesus said, "I am the way, the
truth, and the life; no man comes to the
Father but by me." Will we go with Him
to bring peace? Let the healing begin!
was once one church. She was born on the
day of Pentecost and has grown since then.
I would say we have gotten much bigger, but not necessarily better. Wouldn't you?
Churches have been known to work together but there has also been some
who work against each other. We can be
better and we can do better. We aren't
trying to start a one world church nor are we creating a new denomination, but
we are discussing working together in the local community to be able to do more
together than we can alone. Together
much more ministry and work for the Lord can be accomplished. What can we/you do together that you can't do
alone? Join God and His children and see
what might happen through Him. Let the ministry begin. I love you.
What has happened to the
spring? It has dried up.
The mine came through and drained all the water from it. Some of the springs of my cousins have turned
into brown water that isn't fit for man or beast. We need a source of pure fresh water if we
want to live and live life to the fullest.
Dad had to carry water every morning from the sulfur spring to their
house so that Grandma could do all the cooking, cleaning, and watering that was
needed that day. Then he would have to
take some over to aunt Melby and uncle Laxie before he went to school. Water was important and still is but what are
we drinking and what are we carrying out to others? What about us now? We settled as close as we could to a creek
or a river so that we could always have some good fresh water. I call this river or creek living. Another reason for river living could have
been that down by the river was the only
semi level patch of ground around. I
like the fresh water life. Don't
you? The level ground is much easier to
live on? It is good. But, I am afraid that the well has gone dry
in many of our churches. Many have
closed or are on their way. I can see why
when the community gets a taste of that nasty brown water spewing from the
church. Who wants to drink that? Who wants to come to a church that is dried
up or spewing forth the brown water?
We can't make it without fresh
water. You do the best you can or you
make do with what you have. You dig
yourself a well for fresh water or you dig a cistern to catch the water that
comes down. You can create a source of
water or recreate an old wine or moonshine to give you some happiness and
quench your thirst. But does it?
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not
gods at all.) But my people have exchanged theird
Glory for worthless idols. 12 Be appalled at this, O
heavens, and shudder with great horror," declares the Lord. 13 "My people have committed
two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their
own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. 
Folks live without hope and future,
because they have exchanged their God for the make believe gods of the
world. The gods of the world bring
temporary relief from a world that is dangerously close to falling in. Why don't Mountaineers follow Jesus Christ? They don't believe in Him. They haven't seen Him. They are willing to make do, and they settle for less. They don't care about what happens to them or
their families. They haven't heard or
seen another way of living. They don't know what being a Christian is all
about. They have been hurt by the
church, Christians, preachers, and etc... They have tried and they fallen off the wagon
so why keep trying? They feel like they
are doomed already. They don't stand a
chance of living a perfect life. They
aren't going to make it to heaven, so
why try? They don't believe in God
anymore. They have become disillusioned
with the God that they think they've seen.
God is not for them, so they wrote Him out of their life. God didn't produce what they thought a true God
should produce, so they said good-bye to Him.
My Doctor told me the other day that "you don't know how much you need
God, until God is all you have." Then
you start to think of Him and hope for the best. Some folks
believe in another way to heaven?
Is there? Please read John 14:6.
Church fights and splits have closed down
many a church. Many times our Pastors
and Churches are so arrogant. They are
the only ones who have the truth and know the truth. And if you believe differently, then you are a liberal who is going to
To the modern day Christian, love
is little more than lip service. There
is no Christian Unity. To quote a
popular movie, "Where are all the forgive-and-forget Christians?" What we have today are people who say they
are stay-at-home Christians. Just like
those Christian hunters and fishermen who are out on Sunday morning instead of
obeying the Lord and gathering with His people in church. They get their religion from the tv preachers
and since they don't have to answer to anyone, they don't have to do
anything. The do nothing religion does nothing for them or
anyone else. When we die do we expect
our do-nothing religion is going to save us?
If you don't want to go to church and serve the Lord, then you didn't get the Jesus who died to
save us. Some have said I don't want a
cross because Jesus carried mine. So
true, but don't stop reading the Bible on that one verse. He says to pick up your cross and follow
me. The water is still muddy because we
don't have the time, the patience, or the love to make a difference. We have given up the truth for rent. We just want to rent it for a while on
Sundays and forget about the rest of the time.
Today's church politics have muddied the water of the Spirit even more. If things don't go your way, then you will
quit the church or just stay and cause as many problems as you can to achieve
your political objectives. It is time to
stop beating around the bush and change things before it is eternally too
late. Some folks want to make sure that
the preacher leaves every year or two so they can keep control of things. This is brown water to God and the
community. Beware my friend because
sweet water and bitter water do not flow from the same spring. If you are bitter,
then what is in your heart?
What is coming out of you? If
you are bitter in your heart, then where is the Lord? The Lord isn't present in what many folks
today call church.
The church needs
the refreshing of the Spirit so that the living water will flow again. Instead of everyone pointing fingers or
looking down their noses at the rest of the church and Christians in the
community, we need to be pulling
together to focus on the most important things of the spring. It has to flow and it has to be clean pure
water. Don't become a pond by ignoring
all the others in your community. They
are there and they are your test of the water flowing through you and your
The possibilities are only limited by our God, our faith, and our
vision. I am a Christian and I love you,
but I can't have anything to do with you.
You are a sinner. The Bible tells
me to be separate from the world and that light can have no fellowship with the
darkness. You let women preach, you read
a different version of the Bible, you have been divorced, you quit the
ministry, but then you came back, you even
try to help people in need, called
the social gospel, and you are a
liberal who believes differently than I do on Biblical issues. You have gone to school or seminary and been polluted by the world. You didn't go to school so you don't have the
knowledge that I do. You moved away and
deserted us and now you want to come back here and pretend like nothing ever
happened. You don't speak in unknown
languages and you say you are a Christian?
You're trailer trash or you come from money or you're a coal miner, or
you are against coal mining. You weren't
even born here. You aren't from around
here so how can I share my life with you.
You are clueless about who I am.
You have never worked in 26 inches of coal and dug a hole in your back
with a roof bolt. How can you say who
and what I am supposed to be?
Actions speak louder than
words. Faith without works is dead. Show me your faith by what you do. If you want to be a Christian who shines on
the mountain, by Christ through the Spirit, then you need to live like a Bible-Believing
Christian. Live it daily and if you need
to, use words. Don't only live the parts
that you like, but read it all, live it all, and believe it all. If someone won't associate with you, then how
does that make you feel? Do you feel
loved? Do you feel shunned, abandoned,
and despised? They abandoned Him and
shunned Him when He was being nailed to the cross. Have you abandoned Him? He said, I was hungry and you fed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes. I was sick and in prison and you visited me. You didn't abandon me. You came to the aid of that one who was in
need. Jesus said you did it to me. Scholars have said that these verses don't
apply to us today. If the Bible doesn't
apply to us today then why should we read it?
You can pick and choose for yourself what you believe and don't believe,
but believe this, we will be judged by the living Word who did help people, He
did associate with others (Pharisees, drunks, prostitutes, tax
collectors). He will judge. So let's judge ourselves. Are we judging others guilty of sinning, and declaring that we have no sin? Therefore we are higher up than you and you will not go to heaven because you do,
or don't do, as we do.
The light is flickering in the
shadow of the hills. Drugs take one life
after another of our family, friends, and neighbors, but we turn a blind eye
and hide our light under a bushel. We do
so because of pride or fear or tradition, or whatever else keeps us from
shining the light in the dark of the world.
Look for the common ground. We
worship the same God (who is the only true, living God). We live in the same place. We have the same Savior who is Christ the
Lord. We have the same goals. We want to see people go to heaven. I saw this on a church sign the other day in
Oak Hill, WV: We preach a topless heaven
and a bottomless hell. Don't you? Sure, it's there in the Bible. He says that,
so we believe it. Why can't we
come together, work together, and glorify God together?
The short answer is sin. There is one faith, one Lord, one Holy
Spirit, and one baptism. Pastor, Bishop,
deacon, elder, teacher, and Christian,
are we practicing what we are preaching?
It's time to stop being a hypocrite!
Is it time to change our practice of separation and isolation? That is wrong. We as Christians are supposed to be able to
work together. (John 17). If we can't work with each other, then how
can we work with the Lord. Too many are
fearful of the one world church in Revelation and they forget that we are all
Christians. How are we to become one
with the Lord and with each other? I am
not talking about compromising our beliefs,
but we need to break our pride, so that others can be supported and
encouraged. Instead of thinking of
ourselves, we need to think of Christ and His mission and vision for us. Are we affiliated with Christ? Then are we practicing what we preach or are
we living the life of the hypocrite?
Shining the light is being true to the
Lord, the Bible, the Church, the Brothers and Sisters in Christ, not only those who are in our church. Be true to the Lord and yourself, so that you
can shine me a light. I can't see your words because your life is
in the way. Move over and move out with
the Lord and with each other. He is
here. Do you see His light in
others? Do they see His light in us?
What is the value of life? Is life being cheapened? How much do we value the lives and souls of
ourselves, families, friends, neighbors,
folks in the community, county, country, and world?
How much do we value our missions:
local, national and international?
Are you ready to go to battle for the lives and souls of men and women
and boys and girls who live in the mountains?
Acts 1: . 8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you
will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
ends of the earth." 
Climbing On Up The Hill
Fayette countians went on record in
the 1860's to say they would eat roots
and berries until every federal was out of Fayette County. What would you be willing to do for people's
lives to be changed and their souls
saved? How far would you go? What would you do?
We willingly spend thousands of
dollars on foreign missions, yet how much are we willing to spend to get the
mission out of our church and into our neighborhoods? We can make a difference right here and right
now. But we must change. We have to start emphasizing our local
mission and our local work. Our
executive director of our convention wrote an article called roots and
fruits. In that article he said if we take
care of our roots then we will have the fruits that we need in order to flourish
and to grow.
What about the need? Is mission work needed right here? How are our churches doing in reaching
out? Compare the amount of money you
spend on missions. How much do you send
out to foreign lands, denominations, and mission projects abroad? How much do you spend in your church on the
people right here on your streets and highways?
Others have seen the need.
Missionaries and work teams from across our country come to what they
call the Appalachians to do mission work.
What have we done? What have you
done to help our own? What is your
church's mission? Do you have one? Why do you exist as a Christian, a church, a college, and a denomination? When people call your church or come by to
ask for help, what do you tell
them? Does your church help people? The growth of your church is directly related
to time, talents, and money you spend on reaching out and helping others in
your immediate community.
You may say that your church is too
small to do anything. That may be the
case in many a mountain church, but what if the churches worked together? What if we are able to help another church
and make it possible for them to be more effective? How could that help us? When the church and community are strong in
the Lord, then everyone benefits from
the blessings that God wants to give. It
is amazing what God could do if we would just let Him.
am not suggesting dropping all of our mission outreach to foreign countries,
but we need a balanced approach to reach all who need the Savior. Many churches don't consider the local
mission work a priority because we have services such as Sunday School , VBS
and others, but I ask you to evaluate how these are working for you? Are more folks coming in, and is your church making a difference? Are you?
Is there more to do? People need
the Lord and we need each other. Please
consider your mission statement for your
church and for your life.
you ever been asked how many members you have in your church, or how many come on Sunday morning? Why does it matter to them, and does it
matter to God? God cares so much that He
is not willing that any should perish. He
sent His only begotten Son to become our Lord and Savior. But we mountaineers are prideful people. To be honest, we for the most part don't have much
here to take pride in, so we take pride in our church, hoping secretly to have
the biggest and the best. Why not be
proud of your church? Is there anything
wrong with that? You could say that you
have the biggest church around, with the most members, the best pastor, and the
best people money can buy. We may not
want to go that far, but we do tend to compare our church with the other
churches in the community, and it isn't only the people, but it's also the preachers. Why?
So they can see how they are doing compared to the others and to see if
they are the biggest and the best. Since
we have the biggest and the best, then we don't need anyone else. We don't need any help or support from the
denomination, the community churches, and we don't even need God in some
instances. We are self-made individuals
who can make it on our own, and if we
don't have what we need to become more effective, we can make do. Just making do and getting by is not what God
is hoping for. God wants people to come
to Him and to depend on Him for what we need in this life and the next. I told a deacon in a business meeting our Father owns the cattle on a thousand
hills. He replied that he wished God would give Him some. Have you ever thought that it takes faith to
ask, and you have not because you ask not?
Have you ever thought about the unity that God wants from His
people? So much so that they lack for
nothing because they ask each other and depend on one another as they did in the
Bible. This is the Holy unity that Jesus
prayed for in John 17.
That brings up another problem which we
need to resolve. It is prideful
independence. Is it a sin? We have made it on our own. We don't need help and we don't need
you. We can make it on our own. We can make do. Churches don't help each other as they could
and as they should. That reminds me of
our oldest daughter (I think she gets
this from her mother). Fiercely
independent, head strong, and prideful
she looked us in the eye on the way to kindergarten one morning and proclaimed to us that her socks were on
the wrong feet. So she proceeded to
remove her shoes and switch her socks.
Yes, today sometimes the socks are still on the wrong feet, we say. She knew what was best. Do we know what is best and are we willing to
miss out on the rest of the better by remaining in our stubborn mountaineer independence. Every coal miner knows that with a pole ax
and a ball of black tape you can fix anything;
but could it be better?
In today's church in the mountains it is a sad turn of events
when churches split, Christians fight and argue, and general havoc prevails
among the brothers, sisters, and family members. Sinful pride and love of self rules our
lives, homes, families, and churches. I
remember one situation in which the pastors of the church were asked to provide
some intervention in the family, which was fighting over the inheritance that
was about to be left to them. Yes,
that's right, Mom wasn't even dead yet, and they were already at odds with each
other. They were Christians, members of
the same church, and siblings. The
tempers got so heated that one of the in-laws backed the pastor up against the
wall and proceeded to threaten to pound him if he didn't change what was going
to be done, so that he could get the money.
So the story goes on in our beautiful hills and hollers and we sometimes
have a time admitting that we need some help.
We may know we need some help, but are we willing to admit it? You have not because you ask not.
On the other hand, we need to be willing to extend our hand
and heart to help someone else besides ourselves. All of what we do in our churches is designed
to build the kingdom of God (our kingdom of god is limited to our church). Shouldn't our ministry be designed to build
the Kingdom and the whole Kingdom, so help us God? What happens to the pond that doesn't have an
outlet? Have you ever seen a mud hole? God gives us His blessings, resources, and
talents so that we can help others, not
just ourselves. This prevents us from
developing the "us versus them" mentality or "you and me against the
world" thinking. By giving ourselves to others, the inflow and
outflow continues to produce a healthy relationship and a healthy church. It keeps us from thinking that we know it all
and have it all figured out. We are
right and everyone else is wrong. Could
we leave the judgment to God, or do you call judging others fruit
inspecting? We all look up and ask for mercy.
We are all in the same boat. We
all put our pants on one leg at a time.
You ain't no better than me and I'm not any better than you. Why can't we look at each other with God's
love to encourage and support one another?
Isn't this what Jesus wants and commands us to do?
Love one another. If I
tell you that I love you, but then I say you are going to hell because you
don't believe exactly as I do, do I
really love you or have I become your
judge and condemned you? Jesus
didn't come to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be
saved. But if I say I love you and I
listen to you, and encourage you, share with you, support you, and pray for
you; would you now believe me? We are free to depend on God for our
salvation and we are free to depend on each other for the support and
encouragement that we need to live. Love
your neighbor as you love yourself. And
who is my neighbor? Are you? Am I?
To be or not to be;
that could be the question. One
professor noted a cartoon that showed the character going off to battle and the
caption said, I have seen the enemy and
they is us??? Let's look in the mirror
and see what is reflected there as we reflect on what has become of our
communities and churches. Have we been
shooting ourselves in the foot? Have we
been killing ourselves and the cause of Christ and we don't believe it? How about it church? How about it Christian? How about it Pastor? Have you been working together with the
others in your community or have you been working against them?
One church member noted another local
church and their pastor had been actively recruiting them for some time. One pastor offers another church's pianist
pay if they would only come and play for them.
One life guard (or pastor) sees another guard struggling to stay afloat
on a surf board with obvious holes in it.
He has an extra perfectly good board, but instead of reaching out to
give him a hand and the new, good board he only wishes them well and says we
will pray for you, but still does nothing to help. Life guards don't care about how many lives
they have saved versus how many the others have saved, or who is on the church
leader board. Their job is to save the
next one who is struggling in the waves of life. Another life guard sees the struggling guard
in the surf and says that you get what you deserve, since you were using the
wrong technique of saving and you had not been speaking the right
language. One savee of the life guards
decides to switch beaches and go to another's lookout tower. Do we condemn that guard by saying that they
are stealing your savees or are you still glad they were saved? All of this reminds me of the good
Samaritan. Doesn't it look like a similar
situation? It has become a pride game
of competition like a football game or
some other type of contest. Whoever has
the best church facilities and whoever has the most people, and whoever has
this or that is the best, and of course is the winner. Ultimately, we have become the biggest loser,
and many are lost in the waves of sin.
To whom much is given, then much is required. Have we buried our talents, treasures, and
time in our own bank accounts so that not even God could get to that money? I want to say then, if God doesn't have it and can't use it to
save others; it must belong to the
Let all those affiliated with Christ
(from John Wyatt a pastor in Rainelle WV), come together to save the community,
before more are killed with overdoses, guns over drug deals, and burned out
minds and lives that are hell-bent.
Pastor John Wyatt, a Baptist pastor in Greenbrier County, has organized a couple of seminars where
church and community leaders have come together to discuss the problems and to
determine what could be done to help change these life destroying problems. Could we get past these competition issues to
work together to see our communities saved before it is too late?
As it is right now, the life guards are
all on the beach trying to reach out to help those drowning in the waves. Some are saved but the majority are being
lost. As they look out, there are so
many out there drowning. There aren't
even half enough guards and lookout towers to accommodate the mass of people
dying in the surf. Panic has turned to
apathy, and apathy has become a way of life, so much that we don't see the
drowning out there anymore. It's a slow
fade as the song says. The guards are
taking notes, making speeches on life saving, sending out messages to the One
over all the guards. But for the most
part they are still not able to save the most of the drowning. They are still calling in the old life guards
to talk about the good ole days of life saving and try to build some
enthusiasm, but to no avail. They are
still building their tower, their reputation, and their bank accounts to no
avail. The screams and the cries fall on
deaf ears. We have done all we could do,
so they say to themselves. And another
goes down, and another, and another.
As it could be, the life guards read the
directions from the One who is guard of all;
lo and behold He said to get together and work together as He does. Not just the individual guards and their
towers and their savees, but all who call themselves guards, or Christians, are
instructed to work together and follow the example of the original guards in the Bible. One guard who is down is encouraged and
begins to swim again and pull them in.
Another guard who had become complacent and apathetic found new life in
this new purpose. It is to serve and
help his family of guards and not just his patch of beach. He discovered the joy in the family when all
are present, not just those who look, think, and act just like him. There is a wide variety of gifts and functions
in the fellow guards out there who have much to share with you. They dig up their extra boards and give them
to other guards. They spread the news
about the new way of sharing, giving, caring, and saving. We can save more together than we can save on
our own! Why, you say, would they do
that? Because they care for those who
are drowning in the surf. They have
heard the voice of One great Guard over all who said to go. Could we all get together with God and with
each other? If you say you are with God,
but you are not with other Christians then is your God the God of the Bible? Let's save some people. You just might end up saving yourself.
What does that Chapter title say to you? Why would I write that God is nowhere? Of course, God is now here and
everywhere. But do you believe that, and
do you act on that with your daily living.
Too many Christians have prayed the sinner's prayer but are still
holding on to the sinner's life. Give it
up by faith that God is real and can help each of us to keep on keeping on through
Him. It may seem that God has deserted
us when so many have died and/or graduated from Earth. We do know by faith that God is now here. If He is now here, then do we appreciate Him
and the others He has placed in our life?
The others in our life serve the purpose of exposing our real
belief. This is our test of belief. If we really believe that God is real and no
respecter of persons, then how can we
show respect to some, but to others we shun?
Are we better than God? God is
now here and He wants His church to show up and follow His way. His way is the Jesus way. He went to all, not just those with whom He
agreed or those who agreed with
Him. The whole don't need a
physician. So we all need Jesus and each
The question is now, is the church now here or nowhere? Jesus wasn't afraid of losing His witness or
being tainted by the stain of the sinner.
He wasn't disobedient for sharing and fellowshipping with them. He was trying to make a difference for all of
them. The bible says to stay away from
those who preach another gospel. But to
those who preach Christ and the gospel, even if they may be female or of a
different race, should be supported and encouraged. If someone believes a little differently than
we, then do we have the right to judge them as sinners and shun them. Do we want to be judged with that
judgment? You may say you are just
inspecting the fruit, but hear ye, hear ye.
You are the one who is testifying to the world that you know it all and
will not fellowship with other Christians, no matter who they are. Will you all be the only ones in heaven? Will you be there with the rest of the
Christians? What if God says you judged
them guilty, and would not fellowship or work with them in my kingdom. So how can I let you live with them in my
heaven throughout all eternity. They
named my Name and gave their lives to me, but you kept your life for
yourself. You have your reward. I am just saying this isolation and extreme
separation is separating you from God and you don't even see it. So think and pray about it. What does GODISNOWHERE read to you and to the
others who see you? What does your life
say to them? Let's get together with God
and with each other because time is running out.
The first congregation appreciation day was held on this
Thanksgiving Sunday, November 18, 2012.
We need to establish a day in which all pastors give thanks to God for
the congregation they serve, but also to thank the congregation for allowing us
the privilege of being their pastor.
Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to say thanks to the hand that
feeds us. You may say that God feeds you
and you don't need them, but you only need God.
When Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fishes and blessed it, what did He do
with it to feed the 5000? He gave it to them. The disciples fed the masses and He is
wanting to use you, my pastor friend, to feed the masses. Surely we are grateful and humbled by the
fact of the God and church chose us to serve them. It is Thanksgiving Sunday and it is time to
thank those who love you, support you, and pray for you. What about those who don't love you and
support you? Love them anyway. They may be in need of some pastoral
attention and love.
I think we forget that the folks in our
congregations have a history and now that history includes us. If in the past the preachers have been cruel,
uncaring, and selfish types then these folks may not have a very good taste in
their mouth when it comes to pastors, or preachers as most people say. Who knows, you may have been the one called
for such a time as this. You may be the
one who has been called to come into the
bee hive and stir things up so that the Lord's worship and work can once
again take priority on this side of the hill.
I have heard many philosophies on pastoring a church. Pastoral Care is one of the big issues we
must all learn in the school of hard knocks.
Sure the class and the professor might tell you what to do and ask you
to write a 20 page paper detailing your pastoral care, but do you care? That is learned in the church when someone
backs you up against the wall and threatens to kill you if you don't
comply. Are you going to love them too?
So, now you have this church and you are
the person who wants to lead them to the promised land. But how are you going to do it and are you
willing to pay the price to get 'er done?
First question I want to know is, do you care about them; or are you
only concerned about yourself and your reputation? If you care, are you willing to pay the price
for admission to the promised land? You
have to pay that, not them. They are
sheep seeking a shepherd, but then the shepherd comes along and drives some of
them away and just decides to isolate the troubled ones so the rest can go
on. I have seen herd animals do this to
those in the flock who are crippled or sick.
But in the church we would never think of leaving those behind; that is
a soul and each one is so important that we will leave the rest behind to go
find the lost one. Are we willing to
bring them home to the place where they belong?
I have had church growth seminars and
read books since 1988, and this love of sheep is the one most important aspect
of pastoring that often gets pushed aside for the nickels and noses game. Who has the most? Who is the biggest? Who is the best? It's the American way. Some may think that since one has more than
another they are better and maybe even the best. I heard one preacher say that the church
growth movement will teach that you can grow a church without people.
(???) Then another said that church
work would be great if it wasn't for the people. My friend Gerry Hickman, a pastor from Summersville, WV, attended Tennessee Temple, and during his
seminary classes he was asked to write a church purpose statement. Kathy (Hickman) Elswick, Gerry's Widow, passed this statement
on to me some time ago. This has become
my motto and my purpose for pastoring and serving the Lord. I hope you will look it over and consider if
this is something you can adopt for you own.
Also, consider hosting your own congregation appreciation day and
use I Thessalonians
1:1-10 as your sermon text. Here is
Gerry's statement of mission and purpose for the church:
"Our business is people
Our reason is Jesus
Our purpose is to
personally live Jesus Christ.
Because of His love for
We can love Him and one
We believe in the
absolute necessity of conversion to Jesus,
The absolute reality of
eternal life now in Jesus,
And the absolute need
of each other in the fellowship of believers.
Our desire is to
present Jesus Christ in compassion and understanding
To every individual who
does not know Him,
And to encourage and
develop every individual who does know Him. "
By Gerry Hickman
What can we do together with the Lord and each other? Give it back.
Together we grow and go in the Lord.
We must strengthen our relationship with the Lord, so that we can
comfortably reach out to others. Are you
scared? Well, don't run off just yet.
Hear me out. Could Christians
unite with each other and the Lord? We
have the United Way, the United coal miners, the united ambulance service, the
united this and the united that, but do we have any united Christians? This is what the Lord prayed for in John
Could it be possible?
We must be close enough to the Lord, so that our relationship with
others will be established in Him and strengthened through the Spirit. We are safe and secure from all alarms so we
aren't afraid to reach out and get together.
Can we reach out to others?
Can we form a friendship and a partnership with others in our
communities who are concerned and try something new? The Lord said He would and could do
something new in our lives. Do you need
it? I do. I am excited at the prospects of what could
happen. Let God show you a vision of
what could happen through a union of believers.
I have been calling them the United Soul Miners.
Jesus said it was better to give than receive. But if you
only give to people who will return your gift, is that the same as helping out
those who can't give back in the gift exchange?
What if you and your church could
help another church right in your community across the street or the town? Wouldn't that be a good thing? What if you start to help them, not just
yourself and your church?
Since accepting God's call into the ministry in 1983, I have
seen a lot, studied a lot, and received a lot.
We have been able through the Spirit's work to see many changed, but
most of the time we were in the "us" mode of Christianity and Churchanity. The question has always been how we can see
people saved to grow our church. We are in the church growth mode of
Christianity. That is hollow Christianity that serves self. For some, we have seen that fad fade away as
has our community which is sold out to drugs and the world. For many in our mountains the slow fade has
affected our attendance in church, our community of faith, and our church
vitality. So what now?
Change gears and change views of the Call of Christ to the
church to go to the world and not just to your church to raise your reputation,
your salary, and your life or church.
The view of the church has to include the others. The who?
The other Christians in your community who need help, encouragement,
resources, and love. What if we were
able to work together to attempt some ministries that have never been
accomplished? What if all the churches
in your neighbor or coal camp actually did get along and support one
another? What could we do?
How can we overcome the obstacles in the way of unity? What is the problem? Identify the need. Some questions to ask as you travel this road:
How many churches are going to be in heaven?
Wait, I am not advocating a one-world church. I am preaching the Bible. Do you believe what Jesus says in John
17? Now if you judge the others who
aren't just like you and believe just like you, aren't you condemning others
unjustly? Jesus said, He who is without
sin cast the first stone. Are you better
than the others? Are you going to be the
only one or the only church to make it to heaven? If folks believe differently than you (this
is what we call liberal), then are they sinners? Most folks like things given to them in black
and white, but aren't there many areas in the Bible that aren't so clear
cut. We find these in life and in the
church? Where two Baptists are gathered there are three opinions. We agree to disagree in the church? If you agree to unite in your local church
why can't we unite with other Christians in the community to try to make a
difference? We do hold to the truth of
the Bible to be our guide for faith and practice. What does it say concerning the unity of the
For the strong vibrant church, you could say we don't need or
want anyone else in our plan of ministry.
We can make it on our own. And as
a matter of fact we are making it pretty well just as we are. Is that right? To whom much is given, then much will be
required. Why do you bury your talent in
the sand? Why not get it out and seek to
help some of the struggling churches in your community? You need to be a faithful wise steward and
put what you have to work for the Lord in your hills and hollers. You will be asked by the judge what you did
with all that money in those cd's. Why
didn't you use it to help others? Would you even dare to help a brother or a
sister in the Lord right in your neighborhood?
For the struggling church, would you be willing to swallow
your pride and accept help from another?
Even someone who is from a different church or denomination could be the
one who could help. Would you be willing
to ask the neighbors for some sugar and some prayer? Could you work with the others right down the
street? Christians who aren't afraid of that other church could give and
receive help from each other.
Some have said we already have a ministerial association in
our community. What else needs to be done?
We haven't done it all have we?
Let's join together in Christ our Savior to reach out to show the world
the LOVE of God in us. We are Christians
first and denominations second. Let's
invest in Christ by reaching up to take a helping hand or to give someone a
hand in this work of the Lord. Jesus
said when you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have
done it to me. Who is Jesus'
brother? Who is my neighbor? Do you love them? How much?
How have we helped each other?
Let's get together in these mountains.
Ever wonder why many folks don't answer God's call into the
ministry of the Word and the service of the Lord and His church. What type of preacher do most Mountaineers
really appreciate? Some of these
requirements were taken directly from written church requirements and the rest
have come from the Spirit and the leading of the Lord through 25 years of
fulltime Christian/Church service. Who
will stand up for us, says the Spirit as He speaks through His Preachers?
One who is young or full of energy, but has the wisdom of one who is twice his
One who is from here, more trusted, more known, more
accepted, more appreciated.
One who is outspoken and tells it like it is.
One who is not afraid to step on your toes.
One who is not afraid to let the chips fall so that he is
more interested in giving the whole Word of God and not just enough to tickle
One who is a hard worker, not a lazy somebody. So in that
light, to some he must be ready to hop at the drop of a hat to do whatever they had in mind. So that when they call he answers and is
ready to go, no matter what he is doing.
One who is the lowest paid person in the church. This is so that he depends more on God and
also ensures that he is not here just for the money. He is an authentic man of God and not
One who reads the KJV.
To many, any other version is unknown and therefore is to be avoided or
shunned because it may be wrong or purposefully written so as to mislead folks
to hell. While some caution is necessary
when dealing with Bible versions, we all realize that the Bible was written in
Greek and thus requires a translation or version.
One who is seen as caring more about God and the Bible than
the people. So that he would never
compromise the Word and tell something that was less than the truth.
One who has never been divorced, is married and has children, according to
Timothy. So this obviously would require
that Jesus or Paul the apostle not
qualify as a pastor in many a mountaineer church.
One who is a male; of course there would never be a question
that someone who was female would be permitted or invited to serve as a church
pastor or preacher, as we call them. But
according to Paul he is to let the women pray and to prophesy or preach. So what do we do? Is Paul contradicting his own writing? Of course not. Luke said in the Acts that God would pour out
His Spirit on both men and women but that passage and others are cast aside for
the more popular view and passage that says the mountaineer women are to be
quiet. I can't believe that more
mountaineer women don't speak up about these contradictory scriptures and
teachings. What does the Bible say? Who was the first to proclaim the good news
of the resurrection? Who were Peter's
daughters? Who is said to prophecy in
the church in I Corinthians 11? Don't
forget Judges 4 and the prophetess who was Moses' sister. Several other passages show the whole message
from God concerning the role of women in our church. Have you looked at them?
One who is able to always preach the best sermon and visit
the most people as any preacher yet. He
will visit and he will be judged on his visitation. If he doesn't visit me, then he is lazy. He has never been to visit me. He didn't shake my hand.
Because of the large number of elderly members and shut-ins,
I believe that he should build relationships and trust between himself and all
members through a strong visitation program.
By this and this alone he will be judged good or bad.
He needs to possess a large reserve of energy and
have a strong work ethic.
He needs to allot time daily during the workweek to be at the
Church in order to be accessible to the Church secretary and the members. During which time he must be ready to talk,
pray, or whatever else we want/need him to do.
He needs to be a STRONG mentor, guide, friend, and encourager
to other leaders in the church.
He must not spend or suggest that we spend any of our money
since this is money that we have put there for the emergency or rainy day
fund. Our welfare will come first and
foremost overall, no matter what the
cost or the savings account will hold.
The pastor will put the sheep ahead of any vision or leading that the
Lord gives on the account that we are not going to spend that money no matter
We will always support ourselves and our programs over any
other need that he or his family may have, so be ready to go to God, preacher,
and don't come crying to us with your needs.
You will supply ours.
He must be willing to be a servant. So much so that he will come to every meeting
of the church and do as asked, but also
never have a vote or a right to vote on any decision the church makes. He will always be an exofficio member of all
He should be a good
facilitator who can make sound suggestions but have the ability to leave the
final decision-making to the laity. He
must be prepared to be continually disappointed
because we will never change what we are doing until we want to or until
He should be a visionary in the creation of new ideas about
how the Church can reach the lost souls of this area. But he must be prepared to go it alone. As we have already done all we can do or are
willing to do. So go get'em boy.
He should be a skilled and enthusiastic teacher of the Bible.
He must be ready to challenge us to grow or change for the
better, but at the same time, continue to lead the same old thing and
preach the usual sermon. How dare he
change anything that we have been doing.
Who gave him the right to change something? This is my church. I was here when he came and I will be here
until he is gone. Or I will leave or not
support him as long as he is here, then when he finally leaves I will come back
and support the church again and undo what that lazy preacher changed.
He needs to possess humility, a strong disposition and a
non-confrontational attitude during times when the Church must make difficult
decisions. Don't confront us with your
perceptions because you are wrong. Don't
even suggest that...
He needs to be able to
laugh at himself and possess a good sense of humor.
He must, after all is said and done, possess a friendly,
Top 50 Questions Every Mountaineer is Asking the Christian Church
you care about your family, friends, and neighbors? Will you make an effort through prayer and
going in the Spirit to win them to Christ?
Thanks for all you are doing for the Lord. How do you as a Christian and a fisher of men
answer these questions from the people you know? The people who live in the hills have some
questions for you church people.
Who Are You?
Where are you from?
What do you do?
What do you want?
What are you selling? We aren't
What are you willing to do for us?
What are you doing here anyway?
What is your reason for getting involved in our mountain life?
How far are you willing to go?
How long will you stay?
We were making it fine when you came, so
Do you really care? What's it to
Why do I need a church?
What is it going to cost?
Why do I need a Savior? I am
making it fine just as I am.
I have already been to the church and they are just like me. So why do I need it?
Why do the folks at the church cheat me and take advantage of me and
then they want me to go to heaven with them?
There is too much fighting at church.
They don't want me there. They
don't act like they want me.
They have never invited me to a service.
Are you sure there is a God?
How do you know? Can you prove it
to me scientifically?
Do you believe in the Lord? Who
What has church done for you?
How much do you really care?
Will you leave me alone?
Why can't Christians and Churches get along?
Did you hear what that preacher did?
Does the church really care for me?
If those people at that church are going to heaven then I am too!
Do I have to change?
I have always believed in Jesus.
What's the difference between your church and all these others?
Why should I come to your church over these others?
Do you really want me there?
I don't have any church clothes.
Are my old blue jeans ok?
I still like to party so I had better just stay home.
Can I drink my beer or my wine and still come to your church?
Did Jesus drink?
Will you forgive me and talk to me?
What did I do that made you shun me?
I used to come to your church.
Do you remember when, or do you remember the time that you...
Will you forgive me?
Will you invite me to your house and church?
What if I come and don't come back are you going to call and hound me
Do I have to get up front?
Will I have to say anything?
Is that preacher going to come by my house?
Will you stop bothering me?
are always free. But are we free to
serve the Lord? What holds most of us
from being free from the chains that bind us from change? The answers to these questions will be the
answer to some of the problems we face in our Christian life and in our efforts
to help our family, friends, and neighbors.
Will you stop bothering them? Did
God stop bothering you? God minds and we
matter to Him, but do these matter to you?
United soul miners?
Who are they? They are Christians
who work together to get it done for the Lord.
Have you heard of fusion? Fusion
is a way to allow God to flow through His people like He did in the Bible. In the days of the New Testament, people in
churches worked together and the churches supported each other. Can Christians of different churches living
in the same community work together to bring God the honor and glory? Fusion is the method law enforcement has utilized to put a stop to
terrorism before it gets started. Each
agency pulls together and pools all their resources. This helps to create an immediate and effective
response to those who report there is a
hint of suspicious activity. Suspects
are caught before they are able to enact their evil plans. These agencies are able to effectively take
care of problems before they can become insurmountable. Churches and communities need prayer, help,
support, and encouragement. In the
modern church we will send ministers and missionaries to faraway lands before
we are willing to help our neighborhoods, community churches, or our fellow
Christians. So consequently the battle
is being lost when it comes to our own communities. Since our churches are ineffective locally
they are limited to the resources that are available. The circle of loss can be interrupted if we
are willing to change our focus and join together to show the unity of the body
of Christ. This is the fusion that the
law enforcement agencies didn't have before 9-11, but now they have been able
to join together and share their resources.
Can Christians do this?
What about the
United Soul Miners? My Grandpa Herbert
Helsel George operated a punch mine in Nicholas County, WV. Four men were the entire crew for a day's
work. Each man had a job and when each
one worked together they could hand load 40 tons of coal before 2pm. Well that's not a lot you say... One ton is 2000 pounds so then they hauled
80000 pounds before 2pm... If each shovel
weighed 20 pound they shoveled a total of 4000 shovels into the coal cars
before quitting time. Some of the
shovels full of coal had to be shoveled twice to get them into the coal car for
the trip outside. They had to work
together to accomplish such a task. We
all remember how the miners got together to form a union of workers who could
accomplish more than they could alone.
Can Churches and
Christians do the same thing? I have
pastored in four communities, and there
were some ministerial associations
already in existence. I am not
advocating getting rid of these, but we need to enhance these, build on these,
and create new unions, if necessary, right in our own community to effectively
Here is a
Seven Step Plan to begin the Fusion of Believers!
First, pastors and churches must join together in prayer and worship. Community prayer meetings and worship
services can be started or increased. Can we love one another and the Lord at
the same time?
Second, ask God for a vision and a
direction to win your community for Christ.
What are the spiritual needs of the community? What can the United Soul Miners do together? Wait for the vision, but then get on with
it. Just do it.
Third, share the vision for a unity of
believers in the community and sing God's praise to the highest hill. Preach it.
Fourth, Be willing to work together and to
sacrifice your own wants for the needs of the whole. Is it better to give than receive? The first will be last. Consider the others in your community. This is God's plan for success.
Fifth, Go with the Goers and watch God
begin to work in your community through the strength of those who will worship,
work, and serve God and the community.
Sixth, what can one church do to help
another? What can one Christian say to encourage and support another? Then Do IT!
To whom much is given, then much will be required.
Seventh, Wait. Don't quit or give up. God is at work on His time. I have always heard that wait is what broke
the wagon down. In the coal mines wait
was a dirty word and one word that could get you fired. But we must wait. Do you see and feel the need? Do we care about those who are dying without
Christ? We must see God's vision to
fulfill it. We must get busy working
together with fellow soul miners.
Finally, we must wait on the Lord. Wait and rest in Him and His
promises. Leave the rest up to Him.
Are you going out with the Lord? Now is the time. God says come on, go out with Me. If you are happy with your church's
effectiveness then no change is necessary.
But if you want to see more accomplished for the Lord, then you will
have to change what you are doing now.
It is improbable that God would choose us. It is improbable that we would accept the
invitation to go into the harvest field.
It is improbable that we would be successful. Nevertheless, we have been commanded to go
out. What is your mission in life?
Matthew 28: 16 Then
the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them
to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but
some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ina
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I
am with you always, to the very end of the age." 
Why are we?
Why do we
What is our
purpose for being as a Christian and as a church?
church relevant to people today?
Do we have a
Jesus has the authority to command us. He commands that we go, making disciples who
are baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to observe all things. God has commanded me to go out to challenge
the church to get busy with the Lord, and get on out of here into the world
where you belong. What good is a light
that is hidden behind the stained glass?
Well, you could say we support the foreign missionaries or we send our
money into the convention. That's great,
but what about your neighbors? What have
you done to help them and to share the good news with them? That's why the
church isn't effective in WV. Oh, but
you say you have a good church. That's
good and I'm happy, but what I see is what God sees. The fact is, WV is failing in more ways than
one. Let's get with it and get out there
with the Lord and give Him away. Someone
said we need a new church. Why? First of all we need to help each other to
build up our existing churches and then we could see about a new one. God
gave me a vision for a Christian Mountain.
That is a place in the mountains where people care for each other. It is a place where Christians can love each
other and work together. I have
put part of this vision on a web site called www.christianmountain.org. I want you to see that together, we can make
a difference, and all that we are doing
so far is ineffective in our culture.
Something has got to give and change.
It is time. It is now. It is up to you and me to get busy. Join me in the Christian mountain. Go with Jesus in the power of the Holy
Spirit. Give Him to them.
Almost Heaven, West Virginia?
West Virginia is No. 1 in at least one category, according to
an item published in The (Portland) Oregonian: We have the nation's highest concentration
of strip clubs. According to the report,
West Virginia has 53 strip clubs statewide, or 2.9 per 100,000 population. Oregon has the second highest proliferation,
with 93 clubs, or 2.6 per 100,000, via Dave Ryan.
West Virginia has the
highest per capita overdose death rate in the nation. Nine of every ten overdose deaths have
prescription drugs as a sole or contributing cause of death. From www.justice.gov
West Virginia leads the nation in
the rate of teenage pregnancies and even more startling to one member of a
legislative panel Monday, was the
fact that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise among children and
adults. This is according the Register
These are just of a few of the
headlines that decorate the news and our reputation in the Mountain State. Having been raised here and serving here as a
minister of the gospel since 1983, I have come to the conclusion that our
efforts as Christians/churches have not been very successful. The latest statistics that I could find
showed our religious life in the Mountains of WV was at 35.9 % of residents
participating, while the rest of the nation stands at nearly 50%. The facts are that WV is not faring well in
many categories of religious and moral values.
This has led to much human devastation in these hills.
God has given me a vision of a
"Christian Mountain" in WV and beyond.
The "Christian Mountain" is a place where people who are Christians can
work together to bring about a change in our culture in these beautiful
hills. If what we have been doing is not
working, then shouldn't we change? I believe our method of mission has to
change, or our state will continue this downward spiral into the pits of death
and despair. Christians, we have to
change the way we view our mission here in the mountains. I want to give you some ways we must change
or we face the continuing fact that we have become irrelevant and insignificant
in the life of our West Virginia.
Christians must be able to work
together across the denominational boundaries.
Are we with Christ or not?
Christians can't do it
alone. We need to depend on the Lord,
His Holy Spirit, and on each other. Thus
the need for the Christian Mountain.
Christians don't judge each
other, but are commanded to encourage and help each other. Have we in our church encouraged and helped
the other churches in our community?
Christians will spend eternity
together so why can't we get together now?
Christian Mountain churches can
work together to reach out to the community with the gospel. This unity will validate our witness to the
world. John 17.
Christian Mountain mission begins
at home and then moves out. Have we
forgotten our neighbors? What have we
done to help those who live right here?
Christian Mountain mission should
begin with an outreach to the children and youth of our communities. Could we establish Christian youth centers in
every town in WV, to reach out to the youth every day of the week?
Christian Mountain churches
should reach out to everyone in your community by working together to bring
them into the fellowship of Christ.
Christian Mountain people put the
Lord, His gospel, and the rest of the people before themselves and their
church. What are our priorities?
Christian Mountain people are
willing to give of themselves sacrificially for the benefit of someone
Is the church going to make it? Why is it that only 50% or less (probably
much less) of the population in WV are regular participants in a church? Has the church become insignificant in this
modern day? Our churches have become
increasingly empty, meaningless buildings in a crowded landscape. Will the church persevere? Think about it. How long has it been since you have been to
church? Why is it that you have dropped
out? Why don't you go? Listen to what the apostles of Jesus said
about the last days. Could the last days
Jude17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ
foretold. 18 They said to you, "In the last times
there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." 19
These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and
do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, build
yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21
Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus
Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch
others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with
fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. 24 To
him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious
presence without fault and with great joy- 25 to the
only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus
Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Why is the church dying off?
Well, Jude tells us that hard times are coming and I believe they are
here. Scoffers are going to come. Church dividers, separators,
isolationists, and deceivers are going
to work to destroy the church from the inside out. Many are too busy for church. When they do make an appearance they are sure
to not get involved, make a commitment, or give of themselves. They say they have the grandchildren to look
after, they're going to ball games, going fishing, going hunting (even on
Sunday?), going shopping, washing the car, mowing the grass, building the
garage, or doing whatever they want. The
problem is that God doesn't matter to them anymore or maybe HE never did mean
anything to them. Is the church worth
fighting for? Jude says to contend.
Some would blame the problems on the
church itself. There is always a fight
or a fuss going on, so why should I go.
I don't like to fuss or fight so I'll just stay away and not make
waves. (Would God say just stay home and
don't come into heaven? Maybe you're too
busy to go to heaven?) I have heard
folks say that we are our own worst enemy.
Yes, to some extent I would agree with that. But Jude, Jesus' brother says that the enemy
has crept into the church. Do you mean
the devil is in the church? No, you
don't say. Say it ain't so. It can't be!
Jude says much more about this problem, but I have only included the
last of his sermon in which he warns that it is coming. We know it is here. Blame it on the fake preachers, the angry
deacons, the fighting ladies, the ornery children, or just say the devil made
me do it. Jude says the devil is here in
the church and he looks a lot like you and me.
We have to admit it. We have a
problem. The church is - a dying. Place the blame wherever you want. People don't want to go to church
anymore. Do you? So what are we going to do now?
Top Ten Ways to Save the Church
Build yourself up in your most holy faith. In v.3 Jude says
to contend for the faith. Fight for your
church, because it is God's ministry on earth.
(Go to church and work to make it better by building it up, thus
building you up.)
Pray in the Spirit.
(Confess your sin and choose to serve the Lord.)
Keep yourselves in God's love. (Love your enemies and your fellow church
Wait for the mercy of the Lord to bring you eternal
life. (Don't quit and don't give
up. IF you have quit, then go back.)
Be merciful to those who doubt. (You take the initiative as Jesus did for
Snatch others from the fire and save them. (This is our calling and commission.)
To others show mercy, mixed with fear. Give mercy because you realize who God is and
you fear Him. (Do we fear the Lord? Does it matter to you if you miss
church? God isn't going to do anything
to me, anyway. So what.... These are those who scoff at God. God and church doesn't matter to them
Hate the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. In others words, hate sin. (We don't mind sin anymore. Why should folks come to church when they see
church folks cursing, stealing, lying, carousing, drinking, and carrying on
just like everyone else? Is there any
difference in your life and the life of others who don't go to church? Why should they go? Do you care if your friends, family,
neighbors are going to hell? Does it
matter to you? What have you done to try
to save them from the fire?)
Jude gives the honor and glory to Jesus Christ. Jesus will keep you from falling. He will save the church. He is the One who could make a difference if
we would let Him. (If the church doesn't
matter to you then I am sure that Jesus, God, the Spirit, and heaven mean
nothing to you as well. What are you
going to do about the state of things in your church?)
The last way is to
listen and to do what the Lord
says. Up to this point in your life, all
of this talking, preaching, praying, and singing has become meaningless to you. You have been going on your merry way
regardless of what happens to the church.
Stop, listen to God, and turn around.
Go Back. Get involved. Take a chance on the Lord. Make a difference in your church and then
make a difference in your community.
The devil is still there, but where else will you find a hypocrite? Don't be a hypocrite like the devil. Be a real Christian who is trying to serve
the Lord and not giving up. Jesus will
make the difference in your church through you.
God save the church!
Are you going to church?
Is your church working together with others? Why should we? Why do we get together in the church? Why do we have homecomings, dinners,
meetings, get Togethers, circles, associations, conventions, denominations,
services, and fellowships within the church and the community? Why should we try to be a part of these groups? Is there a reason for all this getting
together? Our time is limited and
already crammed full of meetings and get Togethers. Do you have time for another? Do you have time for God and His family? Here are ten reasons why the Bible says you
should make time:
Top Ten Reasons to Get Together
Because Jesus commanded us to. Hebrews
10:25 (NIV) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day
Because it speaks of God and His presence in your life. Are you getting together with God and with
the family of God? How do you want to be
known when you die? You will be known by
what you did. What about those who will
come after you? Which way do you want
them to go? If they see your love for
the Lord which translates into a love for God's people, then they too can
follow you to God, to His people, and eventually to heaven where God and His
people live together forever.
We can be strengthened by the others. Eccl.
4: 12 (NIV) Though one may be
overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. The Lone Ranger had Tonto, but who do you
have? You have a friend in Christ and
you can have a friend or two within the family of God. But will you give yourself to others? You must come together to be strengthened by
the others in the fellowship.
Because we love God and each other, we want to see one
4: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever
does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how
God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Sona into the world
that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved
God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice forb
our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to
love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one
another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
together is the answer to Jesus' prayer.
John 17:20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also
for those who will believe in me through their message, 21
that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in
you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me,
that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and
you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you
sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 "Father,
I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory,
the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the
world. 25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know
you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I
have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that
the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
This shows we are together with the Lord and with each
other. You are an important part of the
family of God which is called the body of Christ in the New Testament. Without you the body is incomplete. Your church is an important part of the
greater assembly which also comes together to honor the Lord and fulfill His
Coming together was the way the Lord blessed and strengthened
the first church.
Acts 2:42 (NIV)
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone was filled with awe,
and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All
the believers were together and had everything in common. 45
Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They
broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47
praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord
added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The members of the first church
devoted themselves to the Lord by giving themselves to each other in
fellowship, in breaking bread (communion), in prayer, in study, in helping
those in need, and in praising God. This
was all done together. Sure you can eat
at your own home, but you can't get together with the others unless you meet
Because we were created to live together. He is the One who created us in His image. He
is in a constant relationship as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is plural.
In the book of Genesis He said, "Let us make people in our image." Our existence depends on husbands and wives
getting together and having children.
This was the way the Creator designed us. We can't live forever if we can't get
together with the God who saves. Since
we have given our life to the Lord we can then live forever within the
Because we know one day we will all be together in
Heaven. God has given us the free will
to choose with whom we will be joined.
Since we all want to go to heaven, why can't we get an early start? Join now with the family of God that we will
be joined with through all eternity. Now
if you can't stand to be with the family, or if you are always too busy to get
together with the family, maybe you have no part of the family now, or the
family that will be joined together in heaven.
If I didn't want to get together with the Lord or with His family, then
I would be worried that I may not be in heaven either. God has made it possible for all to come to him
now and into eternity. What choice have
Every time the family gets together and you choose not to
join, then you have made your choice. So
then, do you expect God to make an exception for you, to let you come into a
fellowship of believers that you so often choose to deny? I don't know.
I think I would be concerned about my eternal future if that is the
case. This is our test of faith. How has your faith led you in this life? Has it led you to be joined together with God
and His family? You can't have God
without the family. You can't have
heaven without God. What do you
have? What do you want?
Why should we, because we can! We want to be together with God and with the
others He has brought into our lives.
This is the family of God. I am
so glad that I am a part of it now and into eternity. The family isn't perfect. But we are trying to be who God wants us to
be. Come to God with us.
Coming together can be
a lot of fun! Enjoy your life in the
Lord. Get out, get together, and live
like you mean it. This is your gift from
God and your gift to God. It's
yourself. Give yourself to God and to
others and see what the Lord will do with your gift. It's time to get together. I can't wait to see you.
Mountaineers Keep On
Can we make
it to the top? The top is the heavenly
home. Having gone through trials
and tribulations we'll enter the pearly gates with our Lord carrying
us. Until then, we want to keep on
going, growing, and living for the
Lord. Physically we might not be able to
do what we used to do, but we are still here for a reason.
We will come to
plateaus or benches around the hills and we can take a rest. Then it's time to keep climbing and working
until we are called home. When we do
reach the pinnacle, we can enjoy the
view and prepare for the next journey.
Follow His leading and we will never go wrong. He makes His will known through the Spirit,
the Word, and His guides who have been there.
Some are here and some of them are already there on the other side of
the river. They are there in heaven
cheering for you. They are urging
you on and on, the same way they did. Keep Climbing.
Ronald E. George Jr. is
a coal miner by choice and a pastor by calling.
He attended West Virginia Institute of Technology to learn how to mine
coal with a Bachelor's degree in mining engineering. God called him into the ministry while he was
working in the coal mines in southern WV.
Arriving at his first church without any formal ministry training, he relied on his father and other ministers
to learn how to minister to the church.
A few years later God opened the door to seminary training in Ripley,
WV. Now he is seeking to use his
writings from over 25 years of sermons to help others in the hills that he
loves to live on. God speed to the