Comfortable Inside

cool comfortableA while back on a very hot day, I was driving in a nearby city. I was listening to a local radio station hoping to hear a weather report. I wanted to know how hot it really was! A commercial came on and for a minute or two diverted my thoughts away from the heat. Appropriately, the commercial was an advertisement for a HVAC company. Their ‘branding phrase’ was, “We Can Make You Comfortable Inside”.

It was a good commercial, concerning the physical world around us. But, then I thought, what about the world inside of us, the spiritual world?  Our language often reflects our internal condition. We say, “We are hot under the collar.” Or we might say, “That really steams me.” Sometimes things like rejection or abuse cause us to say, “That leaves me cold inside”. Also in the physical realm, poor ventilation or dirty filters can cause the air inside our homes to carry pathogens that trigger allergies, make us sick, and cause any number of ailments. Just like we need a reliable HVAC system installed and maintained in our homes, we need a reliable spiritual HVAC system installed and maintained in the inner person.

Is there someone capable of installing and maintaining such a system that can make a person comfortable and healthy in the inner person?  The answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Jesus came into the world so that we through Him could experience control on the inside, in our inner being. We are, with the Lord’s help, able say with the Apostle Paul, “… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content (comfortable)” (Philippians 4:11) Paul said to young Timothy, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6).  Peace and tranquility make us comfortable in our inner person. Jesus can indeed make us comfortable inside. 

When King David’s world was falling apart by his own doing, he cried, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  He realized only God could forgive him and make him comfortable within. When we are in turmoil on the inside, we need to know “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).  The Message Translation offers a beautifully thought, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace” (2 Corinthians 4:16). 

My Prayer: “That He would grant you, according to His riches of glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man…”  (Ephesians 3:16) 

He Can Make You Comfortable Inside.

~ Brother Roy

The Nature of Sand

sandBecause I have spent so much time on Dauphin Island, at the warm invitations of our dear friends the Eldridges, I have had the opportunity to observe many things, including the nature of sand. In some places the sand is soft, and you easily sink in. At other places it is firm enough to walk on. There are even places where the sand is so solid and firm you can drive a vehicle on it! For example, the sand at Daytona Beach has such a hard surface that automobile races have been held there with thousands of spectators in attendance.

I’ve had some personal experiences with the nature of sand. Our family was spending a holiday on the island. The driveway to the beach house where we were staying was hard packed sand. It easily supported the weight of our vehicles. My son-in-law came in from one of our many trips in and out and was just a few inches off the tracks we had been using. The car sank into the sand. The more we struggled to dig out, the deeper the car settled into the sand. What a job it was to get the car out! On another occasion, we were driving a truck on what seemed to be solid sand. When we attempted to turn around, we sunk. It took a track hoe to extract the truck.

Anyone who has read the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is sure to surmise where this devotional thought is going. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat on the house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27). 

Things may not always be as obvious or simple as they sound. Sometimes the sand around us is hard packed. Like the sand at Daytona, which can support dozens of racecars and thousands of people, the sand around us may appear to be solid. It seems hard enough to serve as a foundation. So we build. In doing so, we choose not only to ignore the words of Jesus, but also the instructions of the Apostle Paul who said, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3: 11).

The words of Jesus are as true today as they were when He first uttered them. The wise man builds his house upon the rock and the foolish man builds upon the sand.

On Christ the solid rock I stand (and build)
All other ground is sinking sand.

~ Brother Roy

Hiding in Plain View

blue heron1The Great Blue Heron is one of my favorite birds on Dauphin Island. They are large  beautiful birds standing 48 inches tall and have a wingspan of 5 feet. You would think that a bird that large would be nearly impossible to miss. Not so. I’ve looked right at one and have not seen it until something disturbed it and it took flight. 

Things like that happen to us in everyday life. Have you ever gotten frustrated when looking for something you know is there, but you can’t locate it? You either abandon the search or, in my case, I call for Miss Sue. My good wife can usually locate what I’m looking for quickly. She then sweetly says, “It’s hiding right here in plain view”. And it usually is! It’s like the heron that’s in plain view, but nearly invisible.

The kingdom of God is often like that. We search for the Lord and for answers to life’s problems. If we do not see Him immediately, all too often we desert the quest and move on in disappointment. We suffer on without His guidance or help.

Hear what God’s Word has to say on the matter:

  • Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NCV) – “Then you will call my name. You will come unto Me and pray unto Me, and I will listen to you. You will search for Me. And when you search for Me with all your heart, you will find Me! I will let you find Me, says the Lord.”
  • Acts 17:27 (NCV) – “God wanted them to look for Him and perhaps search all around for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any of us.”
  • James 4:8 (NKJ) - “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded.”

road to emmausLet me share a Biblical example. Two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem soon after the death of Jesus on the cross. They were focused on their sense of loss and resulting confusion. They barely noticed that a stranger came close and walked beside them. They were discussing all of the things that had happened the past few days.  The two disciples didn’t recognize that the stranger walking with them was really Jesus. He was hiding, as it were, ‘in plain view’. How often is He with us in troubled times and we are oblivious to His presence? Circumstances may obscure Him from our view. Things like self-absorption, pain, wounded hearts, and disappointment often make it all but impossible for us to see Him.

It is also possible that He chooses to remain unrecognized for a time. He may be looking to see if our focus is on our temporal problems or if we have faith necessary to see in Him. Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  He wants us to know that His presence is not dependent on the circumstances around us or on our emotional state. We must have faith in Him and His word. He is not far from us. He wants us to find Him. He wants us to draw near to Him, so He can draw near to us.

At the invitation of the two disciples, Jesus went into the house with them.  Jesus sat down with them at the table. He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Luke 24:31, “And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him.” 

He said, “And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). Amen.

~ Brother Roy

Things Above

gullOne of my great joys in this life is to walk along the beach on Dauphin Island. The lapping of the waves, the mist from the water, and the soft sand beneath my feet all give me pleasure. As I walk along, I especially enjoy the cry of the gulls as they glide gracefully above the water. Endowed by the Creator, they have the innate ability to ride the updrafts and use the air currents to move smoothly through the air with a minimum of effort.

Looking up to spot the gulls, my eyes often lift higher to the heavens. With no thought of doing an injustice to God’s word, let me share a thought from the Book of Ecclesiastes.  As I lift my eyes heavenward, Ecclesiastes 12:4. comes to mind:  “…and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird.”  My thoughts rise up at the cry of a gull. I think of Paul’s instruction in Colossians 3:2:Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Sometimes, as I gaze into the sky, I experience a longing for heaven and home. I like the expressive words found  in the Message translation: “For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven – God made, not handmade – and we’ll never have to relocate our ’tents’ again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move – so we cry out…” (2 Corinthians 5:1). 

The cry of a gull causes me to lift my eyes and mind heaven ward. I smile when I think that one day my soul will catch an updraft and I’ll “fly away”. I will soar above the gulls, above the sky.  I will, in Christ, “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, w
hat joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And t
here proclaim:  “My God, how great Thou art!”

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