Consider the Lilies

stargazer lilyOn a beautiful sunny Sunday morning, I was gazing out the window. Although the day was pleasant, unsettling thoughts like scattered clouds drifted into my mind. I was thinking about needed repairs on our 40-year-old house, prescriptions that needed to be filled, problems our grandchildren were facing, and other things that cause an ‘anxious mind’. Then my focus came to rest on a magnificent Stargazer Lily that my wife had planted at the corner of the house. A sense of peace settled over me as the Lord brought scripture from the 12th chapter of Luke to my anxious mind: 

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?  “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.  For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.  But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:27-31, NKJV).

How grateful I am for God’s word. Even when I get fretful, it is so often His hand of ‘peace and assurance’ for me. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8 NKJV).

Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.

(Psalm 119:76, NKJV)

~ Brother Roy

Advertisements

Remembering Our Friend, Gary Bailey

Our friend and brother in Christ, Gary Bailey, went to Heaven on Wednesday morning of this week.  In his memory, we are re-posting the following article from our web archives in 2012 about how Gary used his gifts to advance God’s Kingdom.  Thank you, Gary, for your faithfulness.

gary 3A Pen

“ Take a large scroll and write on it with a man’s pen…”  Isaiah 8:1

In this unusual scripture, orders were given to the prophet to write a prophecy to be read by all men. The prophet was to write on a large scroll with a man’s pen. He was to use the pen to make clear, ordinary letters that the humblest could read. The prophet’s words ‘a man’s pen’ serve as a focal point for this article.

gary 1

Gary Bailey is a good friend with whom I often share morning coffee. He has a great heart for ministry.  Although retired, he is very involved in serving the Lord. He participates in a jail ministry, is a Gideon, and is actively involved in his local church.  Gary is also a Kentucky craftsman who creates beautiful writing pens in his workshop. He has turned his skills as a craftsman and his love for time in his workshop into a creative way to financially support mission projects.  Using beautiful native wood and at times exotic wood, he handcrafts writing instruments that are exquisite.

gary 2For the last several years, as I began summer travels preaching camp meetings, revivals, and mission conferences, Gary would give me a display folder of these beautiful pens. In craft stores, these pens would normally sell for $25-$50. Gary gives all of the money donated by people who wish to have one of these beautiful one-of-a-kind writing instruments to our ministry. Many have commented that the pens make wonderful gifts for pastors, business associates, or for someone who ‘has everything’.

I believe the comments of Jesus in Mark 14 have real relevance here. Jesus spoke concerning Mary’s breaking the alabaster box and pouring the contents of very costly oil of spikenard on His head. When some of the indignant disciples criticized her, Jesus responded, “Leave her alone! She has done a beautiful thing for me. She has done what she could.”

Do you want to do something beautiful for the Savior? Like Mary, do what you can.  Ask yourself, What can I do? Do I have talents, skills, or a craft, such as Gary’s, that I could put to use for the Lord’s work? Perhaps you have been overlooking how a hobby, craft, or a resource could be used for ministry.  

Gary has been making pens to help write the Good News on the scrolls of men’s hearts.  Thank you,Gary, for your example as you minister in the Lord’s name.

~ Brother Roy

Life and T.P.

tpSometimes a humorous or light-hearted saying can carry a serious implication. During a recent gathering of our morning coffee group at Fitch’s IGA, one of the sages said, “Life is sorta’ like a roll of T.P.: the closer to the end you get, the faster it goes”. After a chuckle, the sobering reality of that little phrase captured my attention.

Many of us that gather at Fitch’s are in the seventy-plus age range with several in the eighty-or-more group. Once again, I’ve come to realize that the years fly quickly from the calendar of our lives. James 4:14 (NKJV) calls attention to this fact: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

I recognized that each day moves us closer to the end of our earthly pilgrimage. Shakespeare gives us these poignant words: We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; in feeling not figures on a dial.” Life is meant to be something more than “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.” 

A wise man once said, “He lives long that lives well, and time misspent is not lived but lost. As we see the past rapidly fading in the rear view mirror, we need to recognize a number of things:

  1. The brevity of time
  2. The swiftness with which days fly by
  3. The certainty of death
  4. The importance of Biblical Values

The Psalmist prayed that God would help him number his days so that he might get the most out of life and also inherit eternal life. Do not postpone living for God! Procrastination will cause you to kill time, lose time, and waste time. Time is irrevocable when gone. Time is that gift of God for which we are accountable.

Today is the only day you have for sure – live it in God’s will.

~ Brother Roy

Distracted Living

distracted driverA recent television commercial shows a lady walking through a mall. She is distracted by texting on her cell phone and falls into a fountain. Another TV clip shows a man, also distracted by his smart phone, walking off the curb into traffic and nearly being hit by a car. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Staggering data also indicates eleven teens die every day as a result of texting while driving.

While distracted driving may prove to be fatal, distracted living can prove to be eternally destructive. Things that distract us from following the Lord’s plans can be devastating. We ought to focus on His plans for us. Scripture reveals God’s heart for His children. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

The opposite of following God’s plans is to follow our own plans. That idea is usually a really bad plan. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV). When we become preoccupied with temporal things and lose our eternal perspective, we are headed for disaster. Paul speaks of those who are inattentive to God’s plans. For many walk …whose end is destruction… who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18, NKJV). Scripture instructs us to, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

Our focus must stay on Jesus. Paul says, “…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV). Paul concentrated his thoughts and his energies on the one great end of life, the one thing needful. No distracted living for him.

Prayer: Lord keep us from distracted living and distracted driving!

~ Brother Roy

Land of the Living

Quotefancy-299734-3840x2160Two elderly sisters, both devout Christians, were approaching the end their days on earth. One of the sisters was in critical condition in the hospital. The other sister, only slightly better, came for what perhaps was their final visit. The healthier of the two leaned over her failing sister and whispered to her that this could be the last they would see each other in the ‘land of the living’. The weaker sister smiled and with a faint voice responded, “No, this may be the last time we see each other in the land of the dying.”

What beautiful insight and confidence she had in the waning hours of her physical life. All of us will face those final moments. May we have the peace and assurance that the dying sister had. Several scriptures come to my mind that can provide comfort for the time when the light of this life begins to fade.

  • “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55,57, NIV)
  • “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13, NIV)
  • Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26, NIV)
  • “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3, NIV)
  • “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV)

Yea, though I walk
Through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
They comfort me.
(Psalm 23:4)

~ Brother Roy

What’s Wrong with Eastern Kentucky?

hazardI was recently asked to speak to a civic organization about NHIM’s work in Eastern Kentucky. I shared a number of newspaper articles and various reports concerning the plight of people in Appalachia. During a Q & A period at the end, I was asked point blank, “What do you think is wrong with Eastern Kentucky”?

Let me share some of the observations with you that I shared then. First, I related to the gathering my recollections of growing up in the hills more than five decades ago. I had been largely absent from the area since graduation from high school. Except for an occasional visit or vacation weekend, I had spent little time there. A few years ago, I started working on a regular basis in Eastern Kentucky, I soon discovered, to my dismay, that it was a far different place than my boyhood memories. I have struggled to determine what had changed. My conclusions are as follows:

  • Small churches in many communities were gone, which contributes to a lack of moral fabric and opportunities for healthy social interaction.
  • Although there appears to be a number of churches in some areas, they are often totally independent. There is no accountability or oversight as to religious doctrine or financial matters. Heresies and confusion abound.
  • High unemployment, lack of job opportunities, and chronic poverty dominate most areas.
  • There is a low priority on education and marketable job skill training.
  • Welfare and reliance on other government programs have created a mentality of dependence and a sense of entitlement.
  • Poor diet, obesity, and lack of accessible medical care exacerbate the situation.
  • Drugs are rampant and violent crimes are a major problem. An abundance of ‘Pain Clinics’ greatly contributes to the crisis.
  • Breakdown of the basic family unit is leading to large numbers of neglected and abused children.
  • Human trafficking is on the rise. Recently a social worker in Eastern Kentucky informed me me of the heartbreaking and rapidly growing problem of human trafficking. Young girls (children) being sold by addict mothers for drugs is common.
  • Hopelessness and a fatalistic world view permeates the region.

Take a look at some of these heartbreaking statistical maps:

ky_poverty_rates_hca

county economic levels

Economic Levels of Appalachian Counties (source: Appalachian Regional Commission)

KyOverdoses2012

change in life expectancy at birth

Change in life expectancy between 1980 and 2014 (source: Business Insider)

In the face of these overwhelming obstacles, most programs that are meant to help only seek to change the external environment. They are based on a belief that people change from the outside in – change the environment, change the man. This failed philosophy is repeated over and over again as things continue to deteriorate in the mountains.

NHIM takes a completely different approach. We believe that the only way to truly change a person is for change to take place from the inside out. There needs to be a ‘new birth’ of moral conviction, principled life styles, and a strong work ethic in individual hearts. We rest solidly on the premise that when people become new creatures in Christ old things pass away and things become new.

Our church plants are positioned in communities where little, if any, Biblical teaching takes place. They are centers for moral instruction, healthy social interactions, and community-building. As individuals make internal changes, they link with others in the church who have also changed. They then form the building blocks for a better community and a better way of life through Christ who strengthens them.

~ Brother Roy

An Unmarked Car

smokey in plain white wrapperRecently, I was traveling on New Circle Road, which is a by-pass around the business section of Lexington, Kentucky. Largely unnoticed, a plain white car was sitting on the side of the road. As I passed the white car, I observed an ‘official’ license plate and a long antenna mounted on the trunk. It was an unmarked patrol car. I quickly checked my speed. Thankfully, I was driving the posted speed limit.

I watched as the unmarked car darted out and separated a speeder out of traffic. The other drivers observing the speed limit continued on their way. For some reason, the incident reminded me of the words of Jesus recorded in the 25th chapter of Matthew. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another” (Matthew 25:31, NKJV). 

The Matthew account continues, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (v. 34). In this account, those who inherited the kingdom of heaven inquired as to why they were thought worthy of this great reward. Jesus responded, “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (v. 35-36). Those on His right hand seemed unable to recall those events referenced by Jesus: “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (v. 37-40).

People in need are like unmarked cars. They have no flashing lights that say “Help me, in the name of Jesus.” If the love of the Savior has penetrated our hearts, our response to human need should automatically be to help. A true believer does not stop to calculate whether or not they will be credited for helping at judgment.

My prayer: Lord, please don’t let me get pulled over at judgment for failing to recognize the many ‘unmarked’ souls as I make my probationary journey of life.

~ Brother Roy