Dangerous Undertow

undertowOn the eastern point of Dauphin Island, just past Ft. Gains, there are two bright red warning signs. They caution would-be swimmers of dangerous undertows in that area. Often the water looks harmless and suitable for swimming. But, by disregarding these signs you may put your life at risk.

In popular use the word “undertow” is often applied to rip currents, which are responsible for the great majority of drownings close to beaches. When a swimmer is caught in an undertow (a rip current), it starts to carry the person offshore. They may panic and drown, or they may exhaust themselves by trying unsuccessfully to swim directly against the flow and sink beneath the waves.

There is a life lesson here. There are many things in the world around us that at first glance may seem harmless. There are often no ‘thou shalt nots’ that forbid involvement, yet I would raise a caution flag. There are so many movies, so many T.V. shows, so much of our secular music that lower the moral climate of the soul. Themes of illicit love affairs, violence, rape, and hedonism serve to draw in an audience. There is an old adage, “garbage in – garbage out”.  We must be careful what we allow to come into our minds. Seductive advertising that sells everything from clothing to automobiles can also pull us farther and farther from Biblical standards. They frequently create dangerous undertows for the soul.

There are many scriptures that can help us guard our hearts and minds against these undertows. I point to just a few:

  • Philippians 4:8 (ESV)“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is any thing worthy of praise, think about these things.”
  • Colossians 3:2 (ESV): “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV): “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
  • Romans 12:2 (ESV): “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

 “ Lead us not into temptation but deliver up from evil…”  Matthew 6:13

~ Brother Roy

The Widow’s Mites: A Poem

widow mites Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44, NLT)

During the last days that Jesus walked upon this earth as a man,
He went up to the temple to see if anyone truly understood God’s plan.

A nameless, faceless widow passed by Jesus as He rested against the temple wall,
But He did not miss her devotion as she offered her whole living – her absolute all.

She passed unnoticed by the stream of visitors in God’s house that ancient day,
But she did not escape the eyes of Savior as he sat unnoticed and out of the way.

The gifts of the richest men in Jerusalem from memory have faded away,
But Jesus intended that the story of the Widow’s mites would be here to stay.

Even though her pockets were empty and her clothing was threadbare,
She withheld not a cent, regretting only that she didn’t have more to share.

The story of her sacrifice and devotion around this old world has spread,
Inspiring others to help the needy and to see that the hungry are fed.

It’s not how much of my money to God I will decide to give
But how much of God’s money can I keep, if for Lord I want to live.

Money is Jesus’ most powerful enemy, a tool of destruction in the devil’s hand.
The love of money is His rival and the root of all kinds of evils in the heart of man.

She moved through the crowd to cast in her two mites and then silently drew apart,
But more than the two mites she left there, for with them she left Him her heart.

I ask you today, what are you going to do in light of this widow’s account?
Will you determine to give of your abundance, a sacrificial gift that will really count?

Will you understand the Master’s message of the widow and then answer His call?
For Jesus said of her small gift, “The poor widow hath cast more in than they all.”

~ Brother Roy

Get the First One Right

morning prayerAs time goes by and the years pile up, I find that even the easiest of tasks can present a challenge. Recently, I was getting ready to go to the store, and I put on a fresh shirt. When I finished buttoning the shirt, I hurried on my way, stopping momentarily in front of the hall mirror. I apparently had started one buttonhole off and proceeded to the bottom. There was about three inches of leftover shirt hanging out! Thank heavens – I caught my error before going out the door.

There seems to me to be a ‘life lesson’ here. If we start the day off misaligned, then the further into the day we get, the more skewed things become. The secret to a good day is starting off in the right ‘buttonhole’.  The right place to start each day is in the presence of the Lord. In Psalm 5:3, David begins his day with the Lord: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up”. There is also great wisdom in starting the day by taking Solomon’s advice: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3: 1, KJV). Starting the day with prayer was a pattern in the life of Jesus. For example, Mark 1:35 (KJV)“And in the morning, rising a great while before day, He went out, and departed to a solitary place, and there prayed”. 

Lord, help us to establish the pattern of starting each day with you.

Help Us To Get The First One Right !

~ Brother Roy

Wisdom from Joe

Live and learn concept.In some recent devotionals, I have mentioned the group of friends that gather at Fitch’s IGA Store in Wilmore for morning coffee. (See: Grandpa I Need You; A Tree Full Of Owls; A Pen). NHIM Board Member Joe Hardman had been one of those ‘wise men’ that gathered around the coffee table for many years.  Joe went to be with Jesus last week.

Some time ago, we were discussing a person that seems to repeatedly make the same unwise decisions. Joe commented, “Some people live and learn, and some people just live”.  Someone has said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Some people never seem to learn from experience, as Joe says, “they just live”. 

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJ) points out this truth: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”. Only when it is too late does the deluded person discover that he is on the crowded wide way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). The implication is not that the person was tricked, but that he relied too heavily on his own “wisdom” rather than turning in humility to learn from the Lord.

In the Book of Lamentations, Jeremiah provides us with some sound advice: “Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God” (Lamentations 3:40, The Message). Solomon observes in Proverbs 4:18-19 (The Message): “The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker – travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.” 

Prayer: Lord, please, help me to live and humbly learn from you.

 I don’t want to “just live”!

~ Brother Roy

A Tree Full of Owls

tree owlsA number of ‘gentlemen’ gather each morning at the local IGA grocery store for coffee and biscuits. The proprietor, Leonard Fitch, warmly greets us and makes us feel welcome. He treats us as if he is our pastor and we are his congregation. It’s a good place “where everybody knows your name”.

As you can imagine, a lot of wisdom is dispensed around the coffee tables. Dwight Blakeman, a local sage, often shares witticisms that stay in the mind long after the morning gathering is over. One such saying, in particular, has stayed with me. Dwight evoked the traditional folk idea of owls being wise. Speaking about an acquaintance, he said,  “He’ smarter (wiser) than a tree full of owls.”

I cogitated for some time on that saying. I wondered, “What does it mean to be wise?” As I pondered of the idea of wisdom, I started with Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived. His book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is one of the most quoted sources in all of literature, either sacred or profane. I started there and followed a trail through scripture. May I share just a few verses to get us started on the road to wisdom.

  • 3:13 & 14 (NKJ) “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold.”
  • 3:7 (NKJ) “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.”
  • 28:28 (NKJ) “And to man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.”
  • 3:21-24 (ESV) “My son do not lose sight of these (God’s instructions)—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
  • Hosea 14:9 (NKJ) “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them in them. The transgressor will stumble in them. 

Would you like to be smarter than a tree full of owls? God’s Word can get you there. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to the 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” (Matthew 7:25-27, NKJ). The foolish man – not so much!  

~ Brother Roy

I Feel Like Dancing

ostrich danceOn an African savannah, I observed an ostrich dancing his heart out. Someone said he was showing off for the ladies.  Maybe so, but he seemed to me to be dancing for the sheer joy of dancing. He was celebrating life.

King David often expressed moments of joy in life by singing, playing musical instruments, and dancing. He encouraged others to do the same. An example may be found in Psalm 149:2-5 (KJV)“Let Israel rejoice in Him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto Him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud in their beds.”  To this day, in Hasidic Judaism, it is believed that dance is a tool for expressing joy and is believed to have a therapeutic effect: It purifies the soul, promotes spiritual elation and unifies the community.

Physically, I am not a dancer. In a secular sense, meaningless contortion of the body to a musical beat is not my thing. However, there are times when I am overcome by the joy of my salvation and my life in Jesus. I just feel like dancing ‘in my spirit.’ Filled with joy and praise, I worship Him with all that is in me. Like that old ostrich, I just want to dance for the sheer joy of my redemption and all of the blessings God has given me.

If life at times seems mundane; if your burdens seem a little to heavy; if joy is missing from your days, try this remedy. Read Psalm 146 through Psalm 150. Maybe then you can join the ostrich and me and we will, in our spirits, dance our little hearts out.

Let’s Just Praise the Lord!

~ Brother Roy

Sad News from Kya Sands

10944376_1569695026604278_921775643271970204_nIt has been a hard Tuesday morning. I am feeling sad, frustrated and just plain mad! For the past year I have been volunteering in a preschool ministry of our church at Kya Sands (a squatter’s camp/informal settlement) here in South Africa. We have met under a tree, beside an illegal garbage dump where children have to cross about a 4-foot-wide open sewage ditch to come to us. Not ideal conditions, but we had our space for our “school under the tree”.

This morning when we arrived after a 6-week break for Christmas and summer holiday, we were horrified and heartbroken to see that our place, our school under the tree, had been covered – actually buried with enormous mounds or rubbish. While we never had safe or ideal conditions, today it is a huge health hazard (burning rubbish and dead rats everywhere), and there is absolutely no way to meet or work with kids there.




Our church is working to secure land where a proper preschool can be built; however, that has been in process for a couple of years (nothing gets done quickly here!), and even when approved, it will take time before we can meet there.

I am trying hard to rest in this verse, Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you says The Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Hard to realize at this moment, but I know HE has plans for Kya Sands far beyond what I could ever imagine.

~ Lori Lauter Wright
NHIM Board Member