Recalculating

recalculatingRecently, I saw a cartoon in the newspaper. It depicted a car at the edge of a cliff surrounded by fierce looking bears. The caption emanating from the car read, “Recalculating, recalculating – You seem to have reached your final destination”.

In a previous NHIM devotion post, I shared my belief that we have a spiritual ‘GPS’ system placed within each of us by God. He nestled within man’s being a tracking device that is called the soul.  God’s ever-watchful eye knows our location. Scripture tells us that the heavenly father “compassest my path and my lying down, and is acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:3). The Message Translation says it beautifully: “I’m never out of your (God’s) sight.”

This humorous cartoon reminded me of the previous devotional. It also sent a flood of new ideas and scriptures through my mind concerning God’s guidance provisions.

  • God Has Pre-programmed Us To Go The Right Way. “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Romans 2:14-15). This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” (Hebrews 10:16).
  • We Have Clear Directions. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:5-6). We need to take advice from Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path” (Proverbs 3:6).
  • God’s Directions Can Be Ignored. “…keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith” (1 Timothy 1:19).
  • There Is a Final Destination. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
  • There Is A Point Where Recalculating Is No Longer Possible. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). “No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8). 

Where are you in your journey through life? Is the Lord directing your path? If not, please ‘recalculate’ now while you have an opportunity. Please don’t wait to follow God’s way until you come your final destination.

Recalculate – Recalculate

~ Brother Roy

Don’t You See Me?

cussingIn the mid-80’s, our ministry (NHIM) began working in Jamaica. Partnering with Christian Service International, we made our first visit to Swift-Purcell Boys’ Home in Highgate, Jamaica. Among the 60-70 boys living there, one has become like a member of the Lauter Family. Anthony McDonald was 14 years old when we met him.  He had been abandoned as an infant. Anthony had a leg missing at the knee. His mobility was restricted to hopping on one foot or using a crudely fashioned crutch.

The years have flown by since that first meeting. Anthony has made numerous trips to the United States. Thanks to caring Christian friends, prosthetic experts, and the support of many people who know and love Anthony, he has been fitted several times with a new prosthesis, and this past Fall, he stayed in our home for a few weeks as he tested out a new, state of the art prosthetic knee and leg.

Anthony works for Christian Service International in Jamaica. He is the father of a wonderful 4-year-old son, Roy Nick.  Shortly before coming to the States this time, Anthony and Roy Nick were taking a walk. They had stopped to rest and were sitting on a bamboo bench. An acquaintance of Anthony came by. During the conversation, the man used several “bad words”. Roy Nick leaned forward and said to the man, “Don’t you see me? You are not supposed to use words like that around a little boy.”

The words, “Don’t you see me?”, have had a real impact on me. First, scripture in  Jeremiah came to mind: “‘Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not” (5:21). Then, I remembered the words of Jesus: “Having eyes do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?” (Mark 8:18).  What a powerful reminder from a little boy! People observe the way we live and speak. We need to hear these words of Jesus loud and clear:  “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drown in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

We may offend by bad example, by teaching sinful actions, by sneers at piety, by giving soft names to gross offences. Whether child or adult, a pure, simple soul who has a certain faith not strong enough to resist such assaults is a ‘little one’. To willfully lead such a little one astray is a deadly sin, which the Lord denounces in solemn terms.

Oh friends, we must be aware that people observe our behavior. Our influence is more far-reaching than we think. May our daily lives reflect that which is good and noble and true, and not negative or disparaging. Let us heed the Apostle Paul’s words: “but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Someone may be observing and ask –

DON’T YOU SEE ME ?

~ Brother Roy

The Contender

contenderA good friend has a beautiful waterfront home on Dauphin Island, Alabama. He has a fine boat for fishing and recreational use.  The craft is docked at the foot of the steps leading from the deck to the water. The model of the boat is named ‘The Contender’. Two 350-horsepower outboard engines power the boat. It is equipped with state of the art navigational aids and technology. Its sleek design enables it to cut easily through the waves, and it is capable of remarkable speed on the water. The boat is, as the name implies, able to ‘contend’ with whatever the waters around the island may have to offer.

I find a life lesson here. We live in troubled times. From recent Supreme Court decisions to growing hostility toward believers, we navigate troubled water. There is mounting criticism of Biblical standards, and often there is open defiance of Christian principles for living. The words of Jude 3 (NKJ) are as relevant to us today as they were to believers to whom they were directed long ago: “Beloved, while I was diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude’s phrase ‘common salvation’ refers to the unity of all believers in Christ Jesus. In this epistle, however, Jude does not dwell on this subject. Because of a rising wave of challenges and opposition to the gospel, he is writing to Christians urging them to contend earnestly for the faith. They must not offer passive service, but must actively engage the hostile forces. Our faith is worth fighting for. “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, NKJ).

contender2The Lord has prepared us to stand against the forces of evil. Just as the ‘Contender’ is equipped with powerful engines, navigational aids, and sound design, we are able, in Jesus, to contend with the troubled waters of our day. Let us face into the wind and waves, and with the Lord’s help we can power through. There are calm waters ahead for those who contend for the faith now. Psalm 107:28-29 says, “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distress. He maketh the storm a calm, so the waves thereof are still.”  

Let Us Contend For Our Faith – There Is A Haven Of Rest Ahead.

~ Brother Roy

The Model

model carI listened with interest as our church’s Minister of Children shared at children’s time. Her lesson captivated more than the children – the lesson made an impression on me. May I share her lesson with you?

She showed the children a box containing a model car kit. After talking briefly about model building, she said, “There are three things you need to know about building a model”. Showing the children the box, she pointed to the picture of the model car. She told them that first you need a picture of the model – you need to know what the finished model is supposed to look like. Secondly, she said you need the instructions sheet, and you must follow the instructions step by step. Finally, she told the children, you need the right kind of glue – the glue will hold it all together so it doesn’t fall apart.

With the three steps clearly stated, she then made the spiritual application. The four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) give a picture of Jesus, our spiritual model. The instruction sheet is the Bible with directions of how to live the right way, like Jesus. Prayer is the glue that holds it all together.

The lesson was simple and clear. I was reminded of a verse of scripture that has figured prominently in my own Christian life. The Apostle Paul writes to believers in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:3, NKJ), But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” The phrase “the simplicity that is in Christ” stays in the forefront of my mind. Modeling our lives after Jesus need not be nuclear physics:

  • Look at the example.  Read the words of the gospels to get a picture of Jesus when He walked upon the earth. Follow His example. John 13:15 (ESV):  “For I have given you an example (model), that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
  • Read the instructions.  The scriptures provide us with instructions. They not only help us know the overall goals for a life well-lived, but also supply step-by-step lessons for successful daily living.
  • Use the right glue.  Just as our Children’s Minister emphasized prayer as the glue, veterans of the faith testify to the necessity of a regular prayer life. Jesus pointed to the necessity of prayer: “And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1, ESV).

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17, ESV)

~ Brother Roy

Barnacles

barnaclesMany of the waterfront houses on Dauphin Island, Bayou La Batre, and other places along shorelines, have their own boat docks. Fishing and recreational boats are then available for use just a few yards away. You cannot help but notice that the boats are on boatlifts that raise them well above the water level.  The boats are not left for extended periods of time at rest in the water. Shallow waters are a prime location for small marine creatures called ‘barnacles‘.  These creatures will attach themselves to the hulls of boats below the water line. They can soon cover the bottom of a boat. The buildup of these ‘biofoulers’ leads to increased drag of up to 60% when the boat moves through the water. They dramatically reduce the efficiency of the boat in both speed and fuel. The barnacles cement themselves to the hull of vessels with one of the strongest adhesives occurring in nature. It is a very labor-intensive and costly process to have them removed.

We can learn a life lesson from the barnacle problem. As believers, we are expected to be vigorously involved as witnesses and workers in the kingdom of God. We should not let ourselves lay at rest for long periods of time. The waters of this world are filled with ‘barnacles of the soul’. On more than one occasion in scripture, we are instructed not to grow weary in doing good. We need to stay actively involved in kingdom work. The ‘cares of this world’ attach themselves to us quickly during periods of inactivity. They create a drag on our spiritual lives and destroy the efficiency of our work for Christ. The writer of Hebrews offers this advice: “We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way (barnacles of the soul) and the sin that so easily holds us back (Hebrews 12:1b, NCV).

When we are not actively engaged in building the kingdom, we must be aware of the dangers of just floating at rest in the waters of this world. As we are able, we need to be, physically as well as spiritually, at work for Christ.  When we are not able to work physically, the power of prayer is open to us. We can also avail ourselves to our phones and write notes of encouragement and witness. There is work for every one of us to do. ‘Spiritual barnacles’ will quickly cement themselves to the souls of those who lay at rest. The bond is exceedingly difficult to break. They cost us dearly in lost productivity, time, and effectiveness.

I like these words of the old hymn, “Higher Ground”:

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I thank the Lord that like the boatlifts along the shoreline, Jesus can lift us out of troubled water. In love, He can elevate us above the ‘biofouled’ waters of a fallen world.

Lord, Lift Me Up

~ Brother Roy

Read the Book

bible“Today this scripture is fulfilled as you listen.” (Luke 4:21)

Sometimes we forget that the scripture is not merely old black words on white pages. It is the living and breathing Word of God that contains all that we need to live life – not just any ordinary life, a Christ-filled life – a zeal-filled life set apart by the One who created us. It is our guide book, game plan, and power source for our journey with Him. Scripture is informational and formational.

Want to know how to follow Him more deeply? Read the book. (The Be-attitudes are a good start).

Want to know what it looks like to unconditionally serve others? Read the book. (Jesus was a better man than me, imagine that!)

Want to know God’s will for your life? Read the book. (Could this grand question be resolved in one simple verse? Matthew 6:33.)

Need inspiration to make it through the day? Read the book. Check out God’s unrelenting love story for His people.

Think you’re the only one hurting or going through tough times? Read the book. Job would beg to differ.

Ask the Father to open your eyes, try to intentionally turn off your filters as much as possible, read the Word, and let it be fulfilled in you today as you listen to Jesus’ voice for you.

~ John Morley
NHIM Vice President

Fortune Cookie: What Are You Doing?

fortune cookieAt the end of a meal at an Asian Buffet, I cracked open the customary fortune cookie. The phrases inside these cookies often provide a bit of good humor. The strip of paper in my cookie this time was thought-provoking, not humorous. It read, “Rather than asking, ‘Am I doing things right?’ maybe you should be asking, ‘Am I doing the right things?’”

We can commit ourselves to doing things the right way. We can work with exacting detail. We may do a particular task so successfully that we win the accolades and recognition of people around us. However, if we are not doing the things we are called to do, it is of no avail to do things right. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37, NKJ).

It is only commendable to do things right if the things we are doing are the right things. These should be noble things, things that benefit our fellow man and advance God’s kingdom. If a person is the best drug dealer in the land, it does not make it a commendable thing. Even if we are doing religious things the right way, that may not be good enough.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJ), “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord’, have we not prophesized in Your Name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from you who practice lawlessness!”

We should be asking, “Am I doing the right things?”  The right things are to do the will of our Father. Scripture admonishes us to, “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5, NKJ). Are you in the faith? Are you doing the will of God?  “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” (Romans 12:2, ESV). May I ask, “What in the world are you doing”?

Prayer: Lord, help me to do ‘the right things’. I want the mind of Christ to dwell in me, so that I can discern God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will.

~ Brother Roy