Dubious Shortcut

shortcutMy wife’s father, certainly one of my best friends, was notorious for taking shortcuts while driving on family vacations.  As a young man, he had driven a Mayflower Moving Van all across the U.S and knew the basic road network. In addition, he had a wonderful sense of direction. Off we’d go down a side road and across country to save a mile or a minute. He was usually right.

On one occasion, we had started our Canadian vacation later than he wanted. Somewhere in central Indiana, he turned off the major highway and took a side-road. We registered only token resistance at first. He seemed so sure he knew a shortcut. The road continued to narrow until eventually we were on a gravel road. Finally, the road appeared to be someone’s lane. Persistent in his conviction, we ultimately ended up in a farmer’s barn lot.

While there are occasionally viable shortcuts on many roads of life, there are no shortcuts to heaven!  In John chapter 14, Thomas expressed concern about knowing the way to heaven. “Jesus said to him, ‘ I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’”  (John 14:6, NKJ).  Peter speaking in Acts 4:12 (NKJ) said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 

When people offer an easier way, a shortcut, or perhaps another way, I would rather trust Jesus and divinely inspired scripture. A shortcut could end up in a place far worse than a barn lot. Paul speaking to the Corinthians said, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). 

No Shortcuts – Jesus Is The Way

~ Brother Roy

The Roaring Lion

roaring lionAbout a twenty-minute drive from our daughter and son-in-law’s home in Johannesburg, South Africa, is the Lion Park. The park, a wildlife center, boasts a variety of animals, including lions, zebras, giraffes and wild dogs. The park has more than 40 signs with images and text warning visitors to keep their windows closed at all times when driving through the park. Frequent reminders tell visitors that these are indeed wild animals and are very dangerous.

In spite of all the warnings, on June 1 an American tourist was attacked and killed by a lion. She had ignored the numerous warnings and had her window down taking pictures. “That’s absolutely forbidden at our park,” Simpson a park official said. “There are numerous signs, and we hand out slips of paper to all guests warning them to keep their windows closed.” “The notice warning guests to keep their windows closed was found on the passenger side seat of the vehicle of the woman who was killed”, the source close to the investigation said. “It is incredibly sad that a life had to be lost in this manner,” the Lion Park statement said. “Visitors to South Africa need to remember that predators are dangerous and rules are there for their own safety. If all the rules are adhered to (during) your visit to the Lion Park, national parks, and other similar facilities will be a safe and treasured experience.” *Less than two weeks earlier, the NHIM Mission Team had enjoyed a drive through the Lion Park.

There is a powerful Life Lesson here! Hear the Lord speak: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NKJ). God’s word provides this and many other warnings about sin and the devil. In spite of all the warnings, people often treat sin as a trivial matter. Some laugh and mock at the danger signs. They do so to their own peril. The Lord’s warnings are not there to restrict our freedom, but rather to protect us, like the signs in the Lion Park. Ezekiel 33:11 (NKJ): “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die…?’” 

Prayer: Lord give us the wisdom to read and heed the warning signs you have kindly posted for us. Daily let us pray, “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13).

~ Brother Roy

The Curly Stick

curly stickOld age and high mileage have taken a toll on my body. Recently, I saw an eye surgeon about removing a cataract. The next day I went to the orthopedic doctors to see what might be done for my right knee. The left knee has already been replaced. My CPAP machine also needed adjustment, so another doctor’s visit.

The cataract has since been removed and the CPAP adjustments made. The knee problem continues to be especially problematic. It has drastically restricted my mobility. Until I can get the needed surgery, I am walking with a cane. In my eastern Kentucky home, a cane such as mine is called a ‘curly stick’.  It is crafted from a small sassafras bush that had a vine wrapped around it leaving deep circular scars. It is sturdy as well as a natural work of art. It assists in keeping me upright.

The curly stick has proven to be a real help to me. The scripture speaks of spiritual ‘helps’ that the Lord provides in times of need. Paul speaks of ‘helps’ (Acts 27:17, KJV) that were used to help hold his ship together in a violent storm. Paul also notes other helps as a part of the Lord’s provisions for believers (1 Corinthians 12:28). The Lord desires to strengthen us in our times of weakness. How precious to hear the Lord say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJ).  The words from the Psalmist reflect my sentiments: “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statues continually” (Psalm 119:117).

While I struggle with knee problems, my curly stick helps give me stability and keeps me from falling. When storms and trouble assail us spiritually, we have helps from the Lord.  What wonderful assurance we can find in the words of Isaiah: “I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NKJ).


~ Brother Roy

Finding Comfort in Handel’s Messiah

handelI have written here before about my love of Handel’s musical masterpiece, Messiah.  I have always taken time at both Christmas and Easter to immerse myself in this beautiful music setting of the life of Christ.  Today, however, this classical piece of art took on new meaning as I turned to it in a time of distress for my family.

My wife’s father has been fighting cancer, and yesterday the doctors informed us that the end was quite near.  The family is now gathering to say goodbyes and be together in this time of bittersweet sorrow.

Paul instructed the believers concerning death in I Thessalonians 4:13-18:  “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

As I was rejoicing in the fact that we “do not grieve as those without hope,” I was reminded of the words of Job 19:25-27:  “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”  This Scripture is what led me to bring up my Handel’s Messiah playlist this morning, as it is Messiah that first introduced me to this beautiful passage many years ago.

I went to the Messiah for “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth”, but found so much more to comfort and encourage.  I have always found it to be a blessing when celebrating the two highest seasons of the Christian year – Christmas and Easter, but today I found it a great comfort to contemplate the Man of Sorrows in a time of personal sorrow.  Consider these great passages of Scripture that Handel set so beautifully to music:

“’Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,’ saith your God.  ‘Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.’” (Isaiah 40:1-2)


“He shall feed His flock like a shepherd, and He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.  Come unto Him all ye that labor. Come unto Him ye that are heavy-ladened, and He will give you rest.  Take His yoke upon you and learn of Him.  For He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your soul.” (Isaiah 40:11 & Matthew 11:28-29)


“Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.”  (Isaiah 53:4-5)


“I know that my redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.  And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.  For now is Christ risen from the dead – the firstfruits of them that sleep.” (Job 19:25-26 & I Corinthians 15:20)


“Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  (I Corinthians 15:21-22)


“Behold, I tell you a mystery – we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  (I Corinthians 15:51-52)


“O Death, where is thy sting?  O Grave, where is thy victory?”  (I Corinthians 15:55)


Once again, the Messiah has shown me the incredible power of great art to move us and, when dedicated to God’s purpose, give us a clearer view of Him.  It’s enough to make one shout…

“Hallelujah!  For the Lord God Omnipotent raineth!  The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!  And He shall reign forever and ever!  King of kings and Lord of lords!  Forever and ever!  Hallelujah!”  (Revelation 19:6, 11:15, & 19:16)


~ Matt Kinnell
NHIM Board Chairman

Unwelcome Visitor

vervet monkeyOn one of our mission trips to Kenya, East Africa, my wife and I were staying in a ‘tented camp’. We were told emphatically to zip the tent flap all the way down always and cover the zipper pull with the heavy rug that was lying in front of the tent. Vervet Monkeys were numerous around the camp and would raid open tents looking for food.

Sue was still asleep when I slipped out for early morning coffee. I zipped the tent and covered the pull as instructed. When I returned, the rug had been moved and the zipper pulled up a few inches. I assumed Sue had been up and stepped outside. When I entered the tent, Sue was still asleep with her head covered with the blanket. The tent was a mess. Suitcases were standing open and the contents were scattered everywhere. Sue’s medicine case was emptied out on the floor.  Snack wrappers strewn about and crumbs told the woeful tale. Sue had heard some slight noise, but thought it was me returning. She never fully awoke. Unknown to Miss Sue, a Vervet Monkey had visited the tent. I’m still not sure how the monkey negotiated the rug and zipper, but he obviously had.

Sin can be like the Vervet Monkey. If we leave an opening, sin will slip in and leave our spiritual lives in a mess. There are precautions we can take.  Speaking to the Lord, the Psalmist notes, “Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11, NKJ). The Message translation of Proverbs 4:23 provides good insight: “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right or left; leave evil in the dust.” 

Sometimes, “your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8b, NKJ). There are other times, like the Vervet Monkey, the devil attempts to slip in undetected. He will try to catch you asleep so, “Be sober, be vigilant” (1 Peter 5:8a, NKJ). James advises, “Therefore submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, NKJ). Let the Lord help you keep the ‘monkey’ out of the tent.

Sound Advice: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the ‘wiles’ of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, NKJ).

~ Brother Roy

Man Down

man downMy son-in-law is an executive with a large international corporation. The group of colleagues he works with has a ‘code’ word when one of them is going to be absent from work. If illness or some other personal situation prevents one of the group from coming in, a call is made to the office and simply says, “man down”.

The contact alerts co-workers that the person will not be there.  Every one else knows to come together and take up the slack. This network is one of the reasons the corporation is so strong. The group cares for each other.

In the spiritual realm, one of the great blessings of being a part of a body of believers is that when we hear ‘man down’, everyone can stand in the gap for the absent member.  The work of the kingdom can proceed and the missing person can feel  support from brothers and sisters of the faith.

At this point, the wisdom of Solomon is clear: “Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NCT). The Apostle Paul encourages the believers at Philippi to “work together as one” (Philippians 1:27, NCT).  In chapter two, Paul continues his exhortations of working together: “…having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and having one mind and purpose(Philippians 2:2, NCT).  In verse four of chapter two, Paul gives this wise counsel: “Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others” (Philippians 2:4, NCT).

Are you a loner? Do you always try to carry your burdens by yourself? There is “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31, NCT).  When we are a part of body of Christ, we have help in our time of need, and we, in turn, can give help to others in their times of need. You become a member of the body of Christ by accepting Jesus as Savior. You then need to be part of a local church and/or fellowship group. You don’t have to struggle alone! What a blessing to be able to call people who care and say, “man down”.

“Beloved, Let Us Love One Another”  (1 John 4:7)

~ Brother Roy

Helping Another

Sometimes I find something that is so good, I want to share it without changing it in any way. This paragraph from Kierkegaard’s work is such a piece. It has been a part of my preaching and teaching philosophy for many years. 

Here is the opening paragraph to Chapter A2 from Kierkegaard’s Writings, Volume 22 translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, reformatted so that the opening paragraph has added line breaks to make some key thoughts stand out:

Søren Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard

If One Is Truly to Succeed in Leading a Person to a Specific Place, One Must First and Foremost Take Care to Find Him Where He is and Begin There.

This is the secret in the entire art of helping. 

Anyone who cannot do this is himself under a delusion if he thinks he is able to help someone else. In order truly to help someone else, I must understand more than he–but certainly first and foremost understand what he understands.

If I do not do that, then my greater understanding does not help him at all. If I nevertheless want to assert my greater understanding, then it is because I am vain or proud, then basically instead of benefiting him I really want to be admired by him.

But all true helping begins with a humbling.

The helper must first humble himself under the person he wants to help and thereby understand that to help is not to dominate but to serve, that to help is not to be the most dominating but the most patient, that to help is a willingness, for the time being, to put up with being in the wrong and not understanding what the other understands.

I pray that this scripture might apply to all believers: “The Lord gave me the ability to teach so that I know what to say to make the weak strong. Every morning He wakes me. He teaches me to listen like a student. The Lord helps me learn, and I have not turned against Him nor stopped following Him” (Isaiah 50:4, NCV).

~ Brother Roy