Grandpa, I Need You!

A group of men gather at the local IGA Food Store for coffee each morning. One of the regulars, my good friend Ken Shewmaker, came in sometime ago with his young granddaughter. Her visits are always a special time for “Shoe” and his wife. His granddaughter was riding in the grocery cart as he picked up a few items for home. As he started down the checkout aisle, he remembered something he had forgotten a few steps away. With his granddaughter in sight, he stepped away from cart momentarily while he picked up the needed item. The candy, mints, and other ‘child magnets’ that always line the checkout lanes were just out of her reach.

Her sweet little voice could be heard calling out, “Grandpa, I need you.”  Then for emphasis she repeated her plea a little louder, “Grandpa, I need you!” She had learned at an early age that her tenderhearted grandpa would respond and perhaps give her what she wanted. Shoe would do everything in his power to give her anything she really needed. And, like many other grandfathers, he also supplied her with many things that may not be true needs, but were simply wants.

The kingdom of heaven is like Shoe and his granddaughter. Our tenderhearted heavenly Father has done everything in His power to give us what we really need. The Scripture says,” But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).  However, we must keep in mind the vast difference between wants and needs. The Book of James provides insight into the matter. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your own pleasures” (James 4:3, NKJ). God will supply our needs, not wants; but occasionally He gives us a “a candy bar” for good measure. 

The Psalmist declares, “Oh how great is Thy goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You; which You have prepared for those who trust in You” (Psalm 31:19, NKJ). It’s a blessed assurance to know, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11b, NKJ).  In over a half a century of walking with the Lord, I testify to the fact that when I have cried out in real need, “Father, I need you”, He has responded to my cry. He has always been there to supply my need according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ.

Are you in a right relationship with the heavenly Father? If you find yourself in great need, do you have the assurance that there is nothing between you and Him that would hinder His coming to you assistance? He is only a prayer away.

lord i need you

~ Brother Roy

Kya Sands Catastrophe

kya little girlFollowing God’s path for our lives has led Rich and me across a 9,000-mile journey from Crestwood, Kentucky, to Johannesburg, South Africa … an amazing and beautiful country in which we daily encounter the faces of those living in desperate conditions.  Since moving here last January, I have had the great privilege of working in a special ministry alongside exceptional women from our church, Bryanston Bible Church (BBC).  We meet weekly with small children, ages approximately 3-8, in Kya Sands squatter’s camp (a slum area).  These children live in extreme poverty in crudely constructed shacks made of tin and other discarded building materials that provide only meager shelter.  Our deep desire is to be in some small way, the hands and feet of Jesus … providing lots of love and hugs, food, physical activity to increase hand/eye coordination and basic language instruction.

The "classroom" under the tree

The “classroom” under the tree

The children eagerly meet us each Tuesday morning in a small open area at the edge of the camp in our outdoor “classroom under the tree”.  An open sewage ditch about 5 feet deep is a major obstacle for the small children to cross as they come to our “classroom” among the piles of rubbish and debris.  A large burned out area of grass off to the side is the bathroom … open for all to see … no privacy … no proper toilet facilities.

Ben Wright helps a child across the ditch

Ben Wright helps a child across the ditch

The "bathroom"

The “bathroom”

Miss Sue singing "Jesus Loves Me" with 4-year-old Kenny

Miss Sue singing “Jesus Loves Me” with 4-year-old Kenny

The tragic Kya Sands fire

The tragic Kya Sands fire

As if life was not hard enough for these precious children and their families, a few weeks ago a tragic fire roared through parts of Kya where many of our children live.  Over 750 shacks were destroyed and more than 3,500 people were left homeless, having lost everything.  NHIM has joined with some of my former colleagues at Crestwood Elementary (Oldham County, Kentucky) and donors from BBC to provide much needed assistance.  When I asked the ladies what they needed, the response was just 3 simple items … a small kerosene stove to cook on, a pot to make pap in (the staple starch in South Africa – think thick grits) and a large bucket with a lid, as the ladies must carry water a considerable distance.  While these items seem simple to us, they represent life to these families.  In addition to these desperately needed items, we have also been able to provide plastic plates and cups, silverware, blankets, towels, clothing and toiletries.

Fire victims and donated relief supplies

Fire victims and donated relief supplies

Even though the fire has long since been extinguished, the emotional scars on an already disenfranchised people will take time, prayers and the loving kindness of Christian people to heal. Please, pray and help as you can … you can be a part of the healing process.  “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 

~ Lori Lauter Wright, NHIM Board Member

A Born Loser

born loserIn a recent conversation, I heard someone say, “He’s a born loser.” Perhaps I have even been guilty of repeating that inappropriate phrase myself. I know better, but somehow it occasionally seems to works itself into my speech. Let me set the record straight: I do not believe some are born winners, nor do I believe some are born losers. I do, however, believe that we are all born ‘choosers’.

We win or lose by the choices we make. God created us creatures of volitional choice. We have been created with ‘free will’. Certainly a part of what the scripture means when it says we were created in Gods image, is that man is an intelligent being capable of rational thought. God has then set us free to be choosers.

Let me offer a few of the well-known scriptures that support my observation. Joshua 24:15“…choose you this day whom you will serve…”  Deuteronomy 30:19“ I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursings: therefore choose life that both you and seed may live.” Proverbs 1:29 speaks of those who “did not choose the fear of the Lord.”  The psalmist said, “I have chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:30). 

If I rise to great heights in the Lord or fall into the pits of perdition, it will be because of the choices I have made. The Lord certainly loved John, and scripture refers to him as the disciple whom Jesus loved. But I believe that He loved Judas no less. If a person resists the grace of God and succeeds in making a shipwreck of their life, it is done by the choices they make. We do not serve a vindictive God who predetermines whom He will assign to hell. It is not a question of could the Almighty God do it , but rather would He do it. The whole ethos of scripture stands against such a position.

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
  • “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2nd Peter 3:9
  • “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him that heareth say, ‘Come.’ And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17

No one is born a winner. No one is born a loser. Everyone is born a chooser.

~ Brother Roy

Waves

wavesI like to walk along the beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, and watch the waves. I often stand for long periods of time mesmerized by the action of the waves. I find myself, like so many others, projecting human characteristics onto the waves. People, for example, have characterized waves as ‘angry’, or ‘boisterous’, or ‘raging’, to list just a few.

At times the waves seem to me to be restless and agitated. Scripture reinforces my observations. Isaiah 57:20 speaks of people that are at odds with God as being “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest.”  In Ephesians 4:14, Paul admonishes us “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…”  James 1:6-7 says we are to “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways.” 

The phrase in the text of James 1:6like a wave of the sea” is the same Greek phrase translated in the Isaiah and Ephesians texts  as “troubled” and “tossed to and fro”. Such people are filled with doubt, wavering between belief and unbelief. Doubting means “to be divided in one’s mind”.  The term does not describe a momentary doubt but a divided allegiance, an uncertainty. James also relates doubting to being ‘double minded’. Double-minded literally means “two souls.”    If one part of a person is set on God and the other is set on this world (see Matthew 6 :24), there will be constant turmoil within.

Jamison, Fausset, & Brown offers this note: “’driven with the wind’ is from without, and ‘tossed’ is from within, by its own instability.”

Sometimes the waves seem to rush toward the shore only to be shoved back by the backwash. Sometimes believers move forward in faith and hope only to be pushed back into a sea of doubt.

I believe the answer to this restlessness, to being tossed to and fro, to being driven by the winds of doubt is found in James 4:7& 8:  “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts you double minded.”

Let Jesus speak to your heart if it is troubled by doubt. Hear Him say, “Peace, be still.”  Then know “that even the wind and sea obey him” (Mark 4:39-41).

~ Brother Roy

Getting People Lost

all have sinnedAt age 19, I was already the pastor a small rural church. I called a former pastor, Rev. Cain, and invited him to preach a revival for our church. Several of the congregation had kept in touch with him across the years. The Lord had greatly blessed his ministry with a harvest of souls. He had shepherded two churches through exceptional growth and building programs. He was also in demand as a revival speaker.

I so wanted to impress Bro. Cain, and I must confess I felt pretty important being a pastor at 19 years old. In an ill-fated and inappropriate attempt to make an impression, I said, “ Bro. Cain, in my experience I’m finding it more and more difficult to get men saved. Have you had similar experience?” He paused for a moment, and I expectantly waited for a reply that I was sure would stroke my youthful ego. His response shook me to the core and forever shaped my ministry. He replied, “No. No, I haven’t found that to be true at all. I’ve spent my ministry trying to get people lost. You see, young man, if you can convince unbelievers that they are lost, if you can help them see the fires of hell and eternal separation from God and all that’s good, they will gladly flee into the arms of the Savior.”

“Getting people lost” is still a phrase that comes to mind whenever I have the opportunity to preach. Of course, the objective of preaching should be to bring people to the Savior. The difficult part, it seems, is to convince most unbelievers that they are lost and must be born again. The Apostle Paul often refers to the unsaved as “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:3).It is good to re-read the account of Nicodemus from time to time and know that Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”  (John 3:1-21).

~ Brother Roy

Fishin’

fishI love to fish! But, the pathway of life that I’ve followed has left little time for this beloved activity. I’m not very good at “fishin’”. I blame the lack of fishing time as the reason I’m so inept at the undertaking. Recently, on a visit to Dauphin Island, my friend Wayne invited me to go fishing with him and a group of his friends. It was the last day of Red Snapper season, and I was really excited to get to go.

We went a few miles off shore and dropped our lines, but with limited success. The water was rough and choppy. I thought our fishing trip was about over when Wayne said, “I know a spot about 25 miles out. I don’t want to go in on the last day of snapper season without our limit. Roll up your lines and let’s go!”  Not being accustom to fishing off shore, I was alarmed at the prospects of going so far out in rough seas. However, Wayne grew up on these waters, and I trusted him completely, so I sat back and let the sea spray and waves come on in. An hour or so later, we arrived at ‘the place’ and dropped our lines in 100 feet of water. Almost immediately the fish started hitting. We caught our limit in a short amount of time. Several of the snapper weighted close to 20 pounds, others less.  We had approximately 300 pounds of fish!

On the trip back in, I thought about another fishing trip some 2,000 years ago (Luke 5: 1-7).  Simon Peter and some of his friends had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”   And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish.”   In the Sea of Galilee, the fish came to the shallows at night to feed; in the daytime they went down to cooler waters deep in the lake. Though Peter’s experience made him quite sure that they would catch nothing, he was willing to listen to Jesus and try. They caught so many fish that friends had to be called to help. They brought in two boatloads of fish.

How many times as His witnesses have we stayed in the shallows and caught nothing. Jesus is calling us to have faith in Him and to follow His directives. We need to trust Him and when beckoned to do so, we need  “to launch out into the deep.”  Our natural inclination is to stay in the shallows where it is safe. Our soul winning efforts are all too often futile because we are afraid of the deep water and fearful of failure. We need to hear again the words of Jesus in Matthew 28: 18-20: “And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” 

If He asks us to launch out into deep waters like the mission field or an unseemly part of town, to go to a grumpy neighbor or a lost family member, we need to obey. Are we not called to be ‘fishers of men’? He will go with us and help us. He promised.

~ Brother Roy

The Cut

Katrina Cut

Satellite Image of the “Katrina Cut”

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina roared into the gulf of Mobile Bay. She slammed into Dauphin Island with a ferocity that left a gaping wound across the island. The violent winds and storm surge severed the west end of the island from the main body of land. The “Katrina Cut”, as it came to be known, had been formed. The destruction did not end with the passing of the storm. The Cut allowed gulf water to pour directly into Mobile Bay. The saltier water coursing through the Cut changed the salinity of the water in the bay. This allowed a type of conch called an oyster drill to come in and thrive. The oyster drill’s primary food is the oyster. They began destroying the oyster beds in the bay. It was a devastating blow to the oyster fishermen in the area.

A powerful analogy may be drawn from this event. The vicissitudes of life often cut into the inner man. These cuts at times seem to reach to the very soul. It might be the breakup of the family, betrayal by a loved one, or the loss of a beloved family member or a close friend that cuts deeply. The “salinity of the soul” often begins to change.  Bitterness, resentment, sullenness, anger, and depression can pour in. It comes the ‘drills’ of sin. The soul within begins to die. Many of us have been cut deeply by events in our lives. If we are not careful, our relationship with God is at peril.

On Dauphin Island, a bold plan was developed. The decision was made to try to close the Cut. That meant rebuilding over a mile of the island across open water to reconnect the two parts. Wayne Eldridge, a local marine contractor, accepted the challenge. The laborious task of bringing in tens of thousands of tons of a dense grade of rock began. Little by little large boulders were positioned, and the Cut began to close. In what seemed at times an endless task, barge after barge was emptied. With track hoes and other heavy equipment, plus the expenditure of immense human effort, they finally breached the cut. Aided by the natural action of gulf currents, the sand began to cover the rocks, and healing took place. The island was once more whole.

Our heavenly Father has a bold plan to heal the cuts inflicted on His children. He sent His only son into the world to execute His plan. In Luke 4:18, Jesus said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”  By the grace of God, wounded souls can be healed. The passing of time may soften the hurt, but only Jesus can truly heal.

Have you been hurt? Have you been cut so deeply that it is affecting all areas of your life?  Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and the bruised. Hear the beautiful words of the Prophet Malachi: “But to you who fear My name the Son of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2).  We are invited to go to the Lord for healing of the deepest cuts.

~ Brother Roy