†Liviní On The Hill
Ronald E. George Jr.
Copyright © 2013 Ronald E. George Jr.
All rights reserved.
This has been given to me from the Maker of the hills that I love so much.† To Him I give all the praise and the honor and the glory.† I want dedicate this book to my cousin Bobby Hines.† Bobby crossed the river in 1974 in a car crash on one of these hills.† He was a great friend, a big brother,† and a great inspiration to me.† Thanks Bobby.† See you soon.
The Hood in the Hills
The Church on the Hill
The Hounds Of The Hills
Stoke Up The Fire On The Hill
The Just Desserts
I am Dying to Live in the Mountains
Climbing On Up The Hill
Top 50 Questions Every Mountaineer Is Asking The Church
United Soul Miners
Almost heaven, West Virginia?
Top Ten Ways to save the Church
Top Ten Reasons to Get Together
Mountaineers Keep Climbing
I want to thank God first and foremost.† Also,† I want to say thanks to all my family, my wife, children, and grand baby for loving me.† I want to thank Mom and Dad, two sisters,† two brother in laws, nieces, and nephews. You all are the best family I could ever have.†† I think back to all the people who taught me and loved me.† I canít name them all.† They were teachers, preachers, family, friends, professors,† and so many others.† But one comes to mind as my example of a mountaineer who kept† climbing and helped me on the way.† That was Dr. Bob Matherly.† He was a preacher from Beaver, WV who went to seminary in Philadelphia, PA.† He was able to convince the† Eastern Baptist Seminary to come to WV in an extension class .† So around 1990, I went to my first seminary class in Ripley WV.† Bob has gone to rest high on that mountain.† His work on earth is done.†† I want to be like Bob and use whatever† I have to help others right here where I live and continue to live by the grace of God.†† Special thanks to my church family at the Fayetteville Baptist Church.†† I love you all.† Special thanks to my wife, Lynn,† Gail Tincher my assistant, and to Charles and Nancy Richmond for proofreading and helping me to make it happen.† I appreciate all you have done.††
Liviní on the Hill
†††††† God says, ďI love you and want you to realize who you are.Ē† 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, didnít like me or understand me, so you killed me.† I am sorry you didnít 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 donít make any mistakes.† Donít 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 Father.Ē†
†††††† 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 donít have a good reputation in many parts of our country, but I wouldnít 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 isnít 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.†
ďThe Hood in the Hillsď
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 dadís 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.† Donít 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 you?††
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.† Thatís 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?†† Letís see.† God says, I know the future† and I am there and here going with you all the way.†† Letís 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 donít know where I am and I donít know where I am going, but I will soon get there.† Itís just a matter of time.†
ďPenicillin, Nurse AdkinsĒ, was the Doctorís orders.† Doc Todd,† as we called him, was our townís 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 Physician.†
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 couldnít 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 doctorís 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 ďby God, I had to eat that stuff and so do you.Ē† 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 doesnít 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 isnít an easy life but it is sure worth it.† Canít wait to get my desert,† so donít 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 anotherís 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 wonít 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 donít think he really meant to throw it away.† But I didnít 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 havenít decided if He really is.† He told Moses, ďI Am.Ē† 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 after death?
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 donít know why.† He didnít need me.† He could have whipped the bunch of them with one hand.† He told them that if we didnít 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 donít 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 havenít 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 didnít 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 doesnít 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 donít roam now unless you own or pay the land company for the lease to get a key to the gate.
†It doesnít matter who is buried up there in the cemetery.†† You are going to be walking if you donít 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 todayís 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 isnít 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 wouldnít 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 ďus 4 and no moreĒ.† 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: ďA 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, ĎFor three years now Iíve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and havenít found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?í 8 ďĎSir,í the man replied, Ďleave it alone for one more year, and Iíll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.íĒ 
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 wonít be polluted?† Why donít 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 wonít bear any fruit.† God says it is time to cut it down!† I donít 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 arenít 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 donít have any desire to see the lost saved and the world changed you arenít 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?† Letís dig and work together.†††††††
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 ďOld Womanís Run.Ē† 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 Lordís will for his life.† He said that he felt that he couldnít be who God wanted him to be.† He said that he couldnít live it.† He wasnít 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.† Donít jump out of a perfectly good air plane.† We are riding the storm out safely in His arms.† He wonít 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.
†††††† There 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 any?
††††††††† 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 ďFire, Fire, Fire!Ē† 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.† Noahís 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 couldnít 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 ainít 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 firemenís 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 believe?
Have you ever been in a covenant ceremony?† Todayís 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 Lordís 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.†
†††††† For every covenant there was a ceremony that sealed the agreement.† Both parties would be present to certify their participation and consent to the arrangement.† Godís 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 their enemies.†
†††††† 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 todayís 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, ďDo this in Remembrance of Me.Ē
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 wouldnít know what to say or do.† I was afraid of how they would look at me and that they wouldnít 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.† Donít 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?† ďTry 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?Ē† Anger, hurt, loneliness, and pain, with no alternative is the experience of many.† It is something as opposed to nothing.† Maybe thatís 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 left behind.†
†††††† I remember a man who was a brother in Christ.† I first met him in the 1980ís 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.† Itís 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 donít 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 isnít 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?†
†††††† A 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 service.
†††††† Have 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 God.†
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 donít 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 arenít afraid of a little work.†
Prayer.† Pray that God will show us the way.††
My teenage daughter had recently† begun to drive.† For her birthday she was given a set of keys to the cars.† Giving the keys wasnít 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.†
Will we 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.†† Letís 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 didnít 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.
†††††† I 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 ďAs 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 Fatherís 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, donít 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 wasnít 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 Jesusí love for us?† If we arenít 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 donít 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 donít 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 memorials?†
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 itís 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 onesí† 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 itís† a good thing that flower petals arenít necessary to be legal requirements of the marriage license.†
Some time ago our eldest, Meri, completed her driverís 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 ďgoingĒ 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 station.†
†††††† 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 arenít successful in this endeavor, we must realize that this problem will bring disastrous results.† The stakes are very high.
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 Keenerís Bible Background of† the New Testament on Biblical faith:
(Biblical saving faith was not passive assent but actively staking oneís life on the claims of God. It was a certainty sufficient to affect oneís lifestyle; cf. Rom 1:5 Through him and for his nameís 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 Paulís 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 and believe.†
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 lionís 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 canít 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.†
Godís 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 Godís Association/family.† Are you committed to becoming a part of Godís family?
A few 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 didnít 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 Raftiní.† 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. †Itís 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.† Donít 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.† Keep paddling.†
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 wasnít 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.† Donít go into the river without your helmet.† Donít 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.† Letís 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, ďWhere were the beans? ď† 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.† ďThe beans are in the jars waiting to be opened for dinner.Ē† 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 Lordís 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 womanís 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 isnít polite.† He doesnít 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 the Lord?†
†††††† 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 wasnít 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.† Donít you want the best that life has to offer?† Then try some of Godís clothes on today.† What kind of clothes does the Lord have for us?† Will you try out some of Godís styles?†
† 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 donít 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 bit.†
†††††† 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, ďI hope you get whatís coming to youĒ?† 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 didnít 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):
When Jesus 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, ďWell doneĒ?
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.
Blessed are 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:† Oí can we say we are ready, brother?† Ready for the soulís bright home?† Say, will He find you and me still watching, Waiting, waiting when the Lord shall come?†
Life began at 3:30pm.† Thatís 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.† Lifeís 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 eye?†
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 Oídell, 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 didnít 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 didnít 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 theyíre itching.† So how do you scratch a manís 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.
I am Dying to Live in the Mountains
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 didnít believe in Jesus because his brother was a Jehovahís Witness.† That too, didnít 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.† Thatís 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?† Thatís 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.†
†††††† We did a lot of trading.† When we had something we didnít want any more we would trade it off.† You only have one life to live so donít 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 couldnít get in to see him or talk to him.† I donít 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 wasnít asking about hope here, but about hope there on the other side of the river. Do you have any?† After all, itís 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 lifeís narrow way.† He Lives!† He Lives!† I live!†††
Revelation 14:13† Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ďWrite: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.Ē ďYes,Ē says the Spirit, ďthey will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.Ē 
†††††† If you live long enough youíre 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.†† Thatís 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 donít 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† its hinges.†
Why would you want to compare death to a door nail?† I donít 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, ď it is appointed unto man once to† die and then the judgment.Ē† 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 now.†
For many a mountaineer death seems to be the prize in the box of cracker jacks that you donít want to open.† But itís there and somehow we have to learn to live with it, cause you canít 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 wasnít paying attention.† So, the next thing I knew she said, ďIs Mamaw going to die when I get old?Ē† 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, ďNo, MaMaw isnít going to die.Ē† I canít believe I did that!† I did, I said that she wasnít 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, ďYou have been crying.Ē† I made no comment and climbed back into my truck for my get away.†
Getting old isnít 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 havenít paid.† Others would say there is no way I can make it to heaven so I am gonna live like hell.† The church says thatís† right,† good bye and good riddance.†† Jesus says, for those who believe in Him wonít 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 wasnít going to die.† I didnít 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 donít 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 canít just say a sinnerís 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.† Donít boast about how you look, how you talk, how you dress, how you act like youíre 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 faithóand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godó 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are Godís workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 
†††††† Have 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.† Donít look at others and compare them to you.† Look to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.† Donít look at the church, the preacher, and the requirements set up by man to help you to conform to manís 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.† Donít 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.
Donít you know it?† Go rest on High!!!†††
To split or not to split that is the question. We arenít 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 donít 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.
First, 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?
From the 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.
What is the problem?† Canít get along and not enough land for all.
†What is the solution?† We have to split to try to find enough land and peace.
The only 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.
†††††† Agreeing to disagree is the smart way.† Once a fellow Christian told me I was hard headed and I didnít 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 Godís way.† A split occurred between God and humanity in the Garden of Eden.† God didnít just forget about them.† He came down and made an effort to confront His children and let them know He wasnít 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 isnít the only way.† It is only one of the ways a problem between parties can be resolved.† Jesus said, ďI am the way, the truth, and the life;† no man comes to the Father but by me.Ē† Will we go with Him to bring peace?† Let the healing begin!
†††††† The Church 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.† Wouldnít 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 arenít 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 canít 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 isnít 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.† Donít 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 canít 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?
Jeremiah 2: 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,Ē declares the Lord. 13 ďMy 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 donít Mountaineers follow Jesus Christ?† They donít believe in Him.† They havenít seen Him.† They are willing to make do,† and they settle for less.† They donít care about what happens to them or their families.† They havenít heard or seen† another way of living.† They donít know what being a Christian is all about.† They have been hurt by the church, Christians, preachers,† and etcÖ† They have tried and they fallen off the wagon so why keep trying?† They feel like they are doomed already.† They donít stand a chance of living a perfect life.† They arenít going to make it to heaven,† so why try?†† They donít believe in God anymore.† They have become disillusioned with the God that they think theyíve seen.† God is not for them, so they wrote Him out of their life.† God didnít produce what they thought a true God should produce, so they said good-bye to Him.† My Doctor told me the other day that ďyou donít know how much you need God, until God is all you have.Ē† 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 hell.†
To the modern day Christian, love is little more than lip service.† There is no Christian Unity.†† To quote a popular movie, ďWhere are all the forgive-and-forget Christians?Ē† 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 donít have to answer to anyone, they donít 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 donít want to go to church and serve the Lord,† then you didnít get the Jesus who died to save us.† Some have said I donít want a cross because Jesus carried mine.† So true, but donít 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 donít 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.†† Todayís church politics have muddied the water of the Spirit even more.† If things donít 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 isnít 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.† Donít 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 church.†
The possibilities are only† limited by our God, our faith, and our vision.† I am a Christian and I love you, but I canít 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 didnít go to school so you donít 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 donít speak in unknown languages and you say you are a Christian?† Youíre trailer trash or you come from money or youíre a coal miner, or you are against coal mining.† You werenít even born here.† You arenít 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.† Donít only live the parts that you like, but read it all, live it all, and believe it all.† If someone wonít 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 didnít 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 donít apply to us today.† If the Bible doesnít apply to us today then why should we read it?† You can pick and choose for yourself what you believe and donít 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 letís 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 donít 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.† Donít you?† Sure, itís there in the Bible.† He says that,† so we believe it.† Why canít 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?† Itís 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 canít 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 canít 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.Ē 
Climbing On Up The Hill
Fayette countians went on record in the 1860ís† to say they would eat roots and berries until every federal was out of Fayette County.† What would you be willing to do for peopleís 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 churchís 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.
†††††† I 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 donít 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.†† †
†††††† Have 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 donít 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 isnít only the people, but itís† 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 donít need anyone else.† We donít need any help or support from the denomination, the community churches, and we donít even need God in some instances.† We are self-made individuals who can make it on our own,† and if we donít 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 donít need help and we donít need you.† We can make it on our own.† We can make do.† Churches donít 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 todayís 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, thatís right, Mom wasnít 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 didnít 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).† Shouldnít our ministry be designed to build the Kingdom and the whole Kingdom, so help us God?† What happens to the pond that doesnít 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 ďus versus themĒ mentality or ďyou and me against the worldĒ† 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 ainít no better than me and Iím not any better than you.† Why canít we look at each other with Godís love to encourage and support one another?† Isnít 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 donít believe exactly as I do, do I† really love you or have I become your† judge and condemned you?† Jesus didnít 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???† Letís 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 donít 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 churchís 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 donít 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 anotherís 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.† Doesnít 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 doesnít have it and canít use it to save others;† it must belong to the devil.†
†††††† 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 arenít 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 donít see the drowning out there anymore.† Itís 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?† Letís 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 sinnerís prayer but are still holding on to the sinnerís 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 donít need a physician.† So we all need Jesus and each other.†
†The question is now,† is the church now here or nowhere?† Jesus wasnít afraid of losing His witness or being tainted by the stain of the sinner.† He wasnít 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 donít 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?† Letís 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 donít 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 donít 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 Lordís 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 donít 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 Ďer 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?† Itís 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 wasnít 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, Gerryís 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 Gerryís statement of mission and purpose for the church:†
ďOur business is people and
Our reason is Jesus Christ.
Our purpose is to personally live Jesus Christ.†
Because of His love for us,
We can love Him and one another.
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. ď††† †††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, donít 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 17.†
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 arenít afraid to reach out and get together.† Are we?
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 canít 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?† Wouldnít that be a good thing?† What if you start to help them, not just yourself and your church?
Since accepting Godís call into the ministry in 1983, I have seen a lot, studied a lot, and received a lot.† We have been able through the Spiritís work to see many changed, but most of the time we were in the ďusĒ 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 arenít just like you and believe just like you, arenít 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 arenít there many areas in the Bible that arenít 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 canít 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 believers?
For the strong vibrant church, you could say we donít 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 cdís.† Why didnít 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 arenít 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 havenít done it all have we?† Letís 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.† Letís 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 Jesusí brother?†† Who is my neighbor?† Do you love them?† How much?† How have we helped each other?† Letís get together in these mountains.
Ever wonder why many folks donít answer Godís 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 age.
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 someoneís ears.†
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 Mammon.†
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 canít believe that more mountaineer women donít 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 Peterís daughters?† Who is said to prophecy in the church in I Corinthians 11?† Donít forget Judges 4 and the prophetess who was Mosesí 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 doesnít visit me, then he is lazy.† He has never been to visit me.† He didnít 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 what.†
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 donít 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 only.†
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 we die.†
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 getíem 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.† Donít confront us with your perceptions because you are wrong.† Donít even suggest thatÖ
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, relaxed manner.†
Top 50 Questions Every Mountaineer is Asking the Christian Church
Do 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 arenít buying anything!
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?† Whatís it to you?
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 donít want me there.† They donít 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 is He?
What has church done for you?
How much do you really care?
Will you leave me alone?
Why canít 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.
Whatís 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 donít 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 youÖ
Will you forgive me?
Will you invite me to your house and church?
What if I come and donít come back are you going to call and hound me back?
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?
Mountaineers 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
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 didnít 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 dayís work.† Each man had a job and when each one worked together they could hand load 40 tons of coal before 2pm.† Well thatís not a lot you sayÖ† One ton is 2000 pounds so then they hauled 80000 pounds before 2pmÖ† 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 minister.
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 churchís 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, ďAll 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.Ē 
Why are we?†
Why do we exist?†
What is our purpose for being as a Christian and as a church?
Is the church significant?†
Is the church relevant to people today?†
Do we have a greater purpose?†
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.† Thatís great, but what about your neighbors?† What have you done to help them and to share the good news with them? Thatís why the church isnít effective in WV.†† Oh, but you say you have a good church.† Thatís good and Iím happy, but what I see is what God sees.† The fact is, WV is failing in more ways than one.† Letís 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 nationís 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 Herald, http://www.register-herald.com
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 ďChristian MountainĒ in WV and beyond.† The ďChristian MountainĒ 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 shouldnít 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 canít 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 donít 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?† Would you?
Christians will spend eternity together so why canít 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 else.†
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 donít you go?† Listen to what the apostles of Jesus said about the last days.† Could the last days be now?
Jude17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, ďIn the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.Ē 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 Godís 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 fearóhating 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 joyó 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, theyíre 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 doesnít 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 donít like to fuss or fight so Iíll just stay away and not make waves.† (Would God say just stay home and donít come into heaven?† Maybe youíre 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, Jesusí brother says that the enemy has crept into the church.† Do you mean the devil is in the church?†† No, you donít say.† Say it ainít so.† It canít 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 donít 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 Godís 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 Godís love.† (Love your enemies and your fellow church members.)†
Wait for the mercy of the Lord to bring you eternal life.† (Donít quit and donít give up.† IF you have quit, then go back.)
Be merciful to those who doubt.† (You take the initiative as Jesus did for you.)†
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 isnít going to do anything to me, anyway.† So whatÖ.† These are those who scoff at God.† God and church doesnít matter to them anymore.)†
Hate the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.† In others words, hate sin.† (We donít 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 donít 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 doesnít 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?† Donít 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 approaching.
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 Godís 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 another.†††††††††††††††
†I John 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.
Coming together is the answer to Jesusí 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 ďFather, 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 ďRighteous 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.Ē†
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 mission. ††
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 need.† 46† 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 canít get together with the others unless you meet them somewhere.†
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, ďLet us make people in our image.Ē† Our existence depends on husbands and wives getting together and having children.† This was the way the Creator designed us.† We canít live forever if we canít get together with the God who saves.† Since we have given our life to the Lord we can then live forever within the family.†
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 canít we get an early start?† Join now with the family of God that we will be joined with through all eternity.† Now if you canít 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 didnít 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 you made?†
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 donít 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 canít have God without the family.† You canít 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 isnít 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.† Itís yourself.† Give yourself to God and to others and see what the Lord will do with your gift.† Itís time to get together.† I canít wait to see you.†
Mountaineers Keep On Climbing
††††††††† Can we make it to the top?† The top is the heavenly home.† Having gone through trials and† tribulations weíll† 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 itís 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
†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 Bachelorís 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 mountaineer.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Lk 13:1-9). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Heb 11:1). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Jn 15:9Ė13). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Ro 1:5). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
S., & InterVarsity Press. The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (2 Co 4:16Ė18). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Re 14:13). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Eph 2:8Ė10). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (1 Jn 5:13). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
d Masoretic Text; an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition my
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Je 2:11-13). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Ac 1:7Ė8). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
a Or into; see Acts 8:16; 19:5; Romans 6:3; 1 Cor. 1:13; 10:2 and Gal. 3:27.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mt 28:16-20). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984). Jud 1-25.
a Or his only begotten Son
b Or as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (1 Jn 4:7Ė12). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.