All In

All InEarly in my days at Asbury College, I learned the importance of the word ‘all’.

My Freshman Composition professor was generous in her use of the red pen in grading my work. Words I used frequently such as “always”, “never”, and “all” drew the red ink. This was especially true for the use of the word ‘all’. The professor informed the class these words expressed generalizations that were seldom true and typically should be avoided. Normally, there will be exceptions in most situations. For instance, we might say, “All of my friends agree on politics,” or “All of the houses in this neighborhood look alike”.

I did finally concede the point and usually tried to eliminate such absolute terms from my speech and writing. There is, however, an area where I will not yield. That is in the spiritual realm.  The Lord’s words stand as absolutes for me. The following dialog illustrates the point: And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself ’”  And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live(Luke 10:25-28, NKJV).

In our relationship with the Lord, partial obedience, half-hearted love, or incomplete surrender will not do. If we are to walk with the Lord and inherit eternal life, it must be an ‘all’ proposition.

The 1992 song ‘All That I Am’ by William Hines reflects the desire of my heart:

All that I am, all I can be,
All that I have, all that is me,
Accept and use, Lord, as you would choose, Lord,
Right now, today.

Take every passion, every skill,
Take all my dreams and bend them to your will.
My all I give, Lord, for you I’ll live, Lord,
Come what may.

Prayer: Lord I want to be “all in”. I want to live for you with no reserve, no retreat, and no regret.

~ Brother Roy

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I Was Hungry

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Kya Sands Slum

My daughter and son-in-law, Lori and Rich, recently led an NHIM mission team to South Africa. They spent time visiting families in some tiny shacks in the sprawling slums where they are working. These areas, like Soweto and Kya Sands were made infamous during the days of Apartheid and Mandela. Since Mandela’s era, progress has been painfully slow in addressing the grinding poverty in these areas. For many who struggle to survive in these places, there is no running water, no electricity, no sewage and meager shelter. There is mainly a panorama of shacks, garbage, rats, and deprivation.

Returning from one of those desperate communities to the place where the team was staying, members were emotionally spent and in ‘shock’ at what they had witnessed. Some team members were asked what had made the greatest impression on them. One of the young men gave a moving response. The team had taken food to families where they were working. He said in one of the homes they had visited a man told him, “Having food here is not a right, it’s a privilege”.

While a short term mission team can do little to remedy the overall situation, they still have an extremely important ministry. They offer people the knowledge that someone knows, cares, and prays for them. The temporary relief the team can provide lifts spirits and the message of the Savior’s love gives a long term hope.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Its better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. The South Africa team was busy lighting small candles in these dark places. We need to know that as Jesus was welcoming believers into heaven, He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in I needed clothes and you clothed me…” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV). Believers then asked when had they ever ministered to Jesus in that way. He said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV). What a privilege to be able to minister to the Savior in such a way.

Prayer: Lord, may the ‘least of these’ hear you say, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1, NIV). And may we who are able be your presence to them.

~ Brother Roy

Footprints That We Leave

footprintsThe November 17, 2017, post on the NHIM website, “Remembering Our Friend, Gary Bailey”, shares the wonderful contribution Gary made to New Hope’s ministry. George Hall, a longtime friend of mine, read a copy of the November article. He said, “I was touched by the tribute you wrote.” George talked to me about Gary’s ministry with NHIM through exquisite handcrafted writing instruments that Gary made and donated. George told me that as a hobby, he made pens similar to the ones Gary had made. Moved by the ‘footprints’ Gary left behind, George wanted to follow Gary’s example by continuing his ministry. He wanted to provide these beautiful one-of-a-kind writing instruments to help support our ministry in Eastern Kentucky.

What a blessing to our work! What a tribute to Gary, a man who quietly went about helping others. Gary used his craft as a creative way to financially support missions. I believe George will also derive great pleasure and blessings as he makes pens to help write the Good News of the gospel on the tablets of men’s hearts.

At Gary’s Funeral service, Steve Green’s beautiful song, Find Us Faithful, was sung. It stirred the hearts of family and friends alike as it related such a meaningful message.

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful –
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind,
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find.

Prayer: Lord may I leave footprints that lead someone to Jesus. May my life inspire at least one person to use their talents to serve Him.

~ Brother Roy

 

Foreseeability

crossLike many churches, we have children’s time during morning worship. The children come to the platform and sit on the floor around one of our pastors. A message adjusted to their age level is presented. At the beginning of the Lenten season, a tall heavy cross was placed on the platform. It towered over the area where the children normally gather. The children came forward and took their usual place around Pastor Daryl. This put them at the foot of the cross.

As the children crowded around, one little boy climbed through the group and sat down on the support base and leaned against the cross. The slightly tilted cross moved a little toward the children. While the movement was unnoticed by the children, it certainly caught my attention. Before I could react, Pastor Andrea, our youth pastor, moved quickly and unobtrusively into the crowd of little ones. She took a position that allowed her to steady the heavy cross.

I felt a deep sense of relief. I also experienced a feeling of satisfaction. Andrea had been a student in one of my education classes at Asbury University. She took the class just prior to her student teaching. The class strongly emphasized the concept of ‘foreseeability’ when working with children. In the eyes of the law, foreseeability may be defined as the ability to look ahead and foresee potentially dangerous situations and take appropriate measures to prevent injury. Andrea certainly demonstrated foreseeability.

Variations of this concept appear in scripture and have strong spiritual implications for us:

  • “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (Proverbs 27:3, NLT).
  • “…so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11, ESV).
  • “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV).
  • “Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 4:9, MSG).

With God’s word as “a lamp for our feet and a light for our path” (Psalm 119:105), we are able demonstrate ‘foreseeability’ in this world rife with dangerous situations. By God’s grace we can say, “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28, NKJV). We are able to walk with Jesus and avoid potentially hazardous situations.

“The wise see danger ahead and avoid it, but fools keep going and get into trouble.”
(
Proverbs 27:12, NCV)

~ Brother Roy

Blankets? I’ve Got This!

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Lori displays some of the blankets headed for South Africa

One of the joys of serving the Lord is that ‘momentwhen you realize, once again, the Lord is walking ahead of you. To put it in modern vernacular, you hear Him say, “I’ve got this.” Let me share one such moment.

Lori and Rich, my daughter and son-in-law, are leading a NHIM mission team to South Africa. They lived in Johannesburg for over three years. During that time, they worked with a vibrant New Testament Church which is committed to serving people in the name of Christ, especially the poorest of the poor. The church will be assisting and working beside the NHIM team as they engage in ministry there. Preparations for the team have included much prayer, team meetings, arrangements for transportation, ground cost, etc.  They knew that the expenses of the trip would be sizable, but believed the spiritual rewards of this ministry would be more than worth the investment.

As preparations were proceeding, my daughter came to me and asked if NHIM might have enough funds available to help buy some blankets for the smaller children who live in Kya Sands Squatter’s Camp. Lori had worked with the children while living there. A part of the NHIM’s team itinerary will be working in this demoralized slum while in Johannesburg. I promised her that we would make every effort to raise the money for the blankets.

The next day, I bumped into an old friend, Tommy Baker, in our local Wal-Mart. Across the years, Tommy and NHIM have worked together on several projects.  During the conversation, Tommy asked if I ever needed blankets in our ministry. I responded with an enthusiastic – YES! Through his contact with the Wal-Mart manager, he had just purchased some fleece coverlets at a remarkably low price. I asked Tommy, “How many blankets do you have?” He told me seven hundred.

Lori, Rich and the NHIM team now have all of the blankets they need. I am almost sure I heard the Lord say, “Relax, Brother Roy. I’ve got this!”

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

~ Brother Roy

Seven Magnificent Mothers (Part 7)

This concludes a week-long series looking at Seven Magnificent Mothers from scripture who exhibited characteristics to be admired, imitated, and praised.  Happy Mothers Day!

momMagnificent Mother #7:  The Willing Vessel

Finally, we come to our seventh “Magnificent Mother”.  I think I can dare to say that this is the most famous mother in human history – Mary, the mother of our Lord.  I give her the title of “The Willing Vessel”, because she exhibits a very important characteristic for us of a magnificent mother.

Imagine what it must have been like for a young girl to have an angel show up and tell her that the Holy Spirit was going to impregnate her, and her child would be the Son of God.  A couple of things strike me when I think about Mary’s possible reaction:  first of all, “I’m going to be pregnant?!?  What will my family think?  What will my fiancé think?  What will the neighbors think?”  Secondly, “I’m going to be the mother of the Son of God?!?  No pressure there!  I’m going to be responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the Savior of mankind?!?”

But that’s not Mary’s reaction at all.  We find her answer to the angel in Luke 1:38“I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”  Mary is a willing vessel, willing to carry out the task that God has set before her.  Willing to give birth to the Lord of the Universe.  Willing to be the channel through which the Savior of mankind enters the world.

What if she had been unwilling?  What if she had said, “Forget this!  I’m not taking that kind of responsibility!”  She could have ended that pregnancy if she wanted to.  Or, more likely, ended her life. But she says, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”  The Willing Vessel.

You know, Mary was there from the beginning until the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth.  She was there in the stable at His birth, and she was there beside the cross when He died.  Have you ever wondered how a mother could stand by and watch her son be executed in such a humiliating way?  I think she was able to do that, because out of all the people who were there, she knew Jesus was who He said He was.  Of all the people who were watching Him die, she knew He was born of a virgin.  She knew that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit.  She knew that He was God’s plan to redeem the world.  Because Jesus wasn’t just a family name passed down from older generations – it was a name given by an angel who foretold that He would save His people from their sins.  And she was willing, even when it came to watching Him die.

God has called each of us to be His vessel.  He wants all of us to carry the love and grace of God to a world that is lost and without hope.  He wants all of us to be willing vessels, ready to take on whatever plans He has for us.

And God wants all of His magnificent mothers to be protectors, like Jochebed, even when the protected doesn’t necessarily want the protection.

And God wants His magnificent mothers to have the kind of selfless, compassionate character, like the mother-in-law Naomi, that would draw others closer and make them desire to have the kind of faith that she has.

And God wants His magnificent mothers to be promise-keepers, like Hannah, and to entrust their children, who are His gifts, back into His care.

And God wants His magnificent mothers to be like the widow who struck oil, ready to seek Godly counsel and act in faith and obedience when times get tough.

And God wants His magnificent mothers to be industrious, like Lydia – whether inside the home or outside of it – and to use the increase of their labors to help build His Kingdom.

And God wants His magnificent mothers to pass their faith along to their children at any cost, even if, like Eunice, their voice is the lone witness for the Lord.

And God wants all of us to be His willing vessels, who will say, like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”

Mothers, today is your day.  We honor you today, and we celebrate you, along with these “Seven Magnificent Mothers”.

~ Matt Kinnell,
NHIM Board Chair

Seven Magnificent Mothers (Part 6)

This week, leading up to Mother’s Day, we are looking at Seven Magnificent Mothers from scripture who exhibited characteristics to be admired, imitated, and praised.

momMagnificent Mother #6:  The Lone Witness

Scripture doesn’t tell us much about the sixth of our “magnificent mothers”, whom I call “The Lone Witness”.  But if we look carefully, we can surmise some important things about her.  What we do know, from II Timothy 1:5, is that this woman’s name was Eunice, and that she was the mother of Timothy.  But if we look back at Acts 16:1, we also learn this:  “Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek.”

Timothy’s mother was a believer, but his father was a Greek.  Here we have a household where one spouse is a Christ-follower, but the other likely is not – a very difficult situation.  How is the money going to be spent?  The believer wants to honor God with His tenth of the income, but the nonbeliever thinks money given to the church is a waste.  And then there are some of the vices that the nonbeliever wants to spend money on that the believer feels are immoral.  What about the social scene?  The nonreligious spouse is uncomfortable around church folk, and the Christian spouse doesn’t want to hang around the pagan friends of the unbelieving spouse.  Then there’s the question of the children: will little Timothy go to youth group like mom wants, or will he be at the chariot races and Olympics training camp like dad wants?  Not an ideal situation for a believer to try to raise a child in the way he should go.

The Bible is very clear that a believer should not marry an unbeliever.  2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be joined together with unbelievers, for what do righteousness and wickedness have in common.”  Too many young people have created difficult home situations, like Eunice experienced, because they thought they could worry about their boyfriend or girlfriend’s spiritual life later.  They think, “Oh, I can change him (or her).”  Many end up losing their own faith in the process.  There is nothing more important to consider in seeking out a dating relationship than that person’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

But Eunice truly does make the best of a tough situation.  Scripture tells us that.  In I Timothy 1:5, Paul says to Timothy, “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.”  Despite the conflicting forces in the household, Eunice provided a strong example of a Spirit-filled mother; and that faith, Paul says, continued strong in Timothy.   Timothy would grow up to be one of the great leaders of the early church, all because of the Godly example set before him by a magnificent mother who was the Lone Witness in their household.

~ Matt Kinnell,
NHIM Board Chair