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

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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

Seven Magnificent Mothers (Part 5)

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 #5: The Businesswoman

Our fifth “magnificent mother” comes to us from the New Testament.  We are going to call her “The Businesswoman”.  We meet this working mother in Acts chapter 16 where Paul is staying in the city of Philippi.  Paul and Silas head down to a riverbank outside the city where some believers were to gather for a Saturday prayer meeting.  There they meet Lydia, who was a businesswoman – a merchant of expensive purple cloth.

There are some in the church who tend to frown on women who work outside the home, and there has been research that shows that women who work outside the home feel somewhat looked down upon within the church, but we see here in Lydia an example of a woman who is a believer, who has a family, and who has her own textile business.  In fact, Scripture says Lydia was from Thyatira, which was 250 miles from Philippi, so she was really an international businesswoman, a mother, and a Christian.

Not only is Lydia an example of the “working mother”, but Proverbs 31, the well-known “virtuous woman” chapter, praises the woman who is an entrepreneur.  Verses 16-17 say, “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”  That, I think, describes Lydia very well.

Here, though, is the great thing about Lydia:  when she becomes a believer, she uses her hard-earned wealth to support God’s people.  She opens her home to Paul and Silas, and her home becomes the base of operation for the believers in Philippi.  The Philippian church becomes one of the strongest of the early New Testament churches.

In Revelation 2 there is a reference to the church in Thyatira.  There is no evidence from Scripture that Paul ever went to Thyatira, and yet there is a church there in that pagan city.  Could it be that Lydia, the international businesswoman, brought her faith with her back to her hometown?

~ Matt Kinnell,
NHIM Board Chair

Seven Magnificent Mothers (Part 4)

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 #4:  The Widow Who Struck Oil

Our fourth “Magnificent Mother” is a woman who is not even named in Scripture, so I will simply refer to her as “The Widow Who Struck Oil”.  This woman’s story is found in the fourth chapter of Second Kings.  She was the wife of one of the prophets that hung around with Elisha.  Her husband died, and creditors were threatening to take her two sons into slavery if she didn’t pay her debts.  All she had in her entire house was one little flask of olive oil.

The widow woman comes to Elisha and begs him to help her, and he gives her some strange instructions:  he tells her to go from door to door in her neighborhood and borrow all of the empty jars she could get a hold of, then pour the oil from her flask into the empty jars.  Now, you’ve got to be thinking that the little dab of oil in the flask is not going to fill many empty jars, but sure enough, this little widow lady strikes oil and fills every empty jar in the neighborhood to the brim.  She has enough money not only to pay her creditors, but also enough money for her and her sons to live on for some time to come.

So what is so special about this “magnificent mother”, the Widow Who Struck Oil?  First of all, when she got into a troublesome situation, what did she do?  She sought out Godly counsel in the form of God’s prophet, Elisha.  The very first verse of the very first Psalm says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.”  The widow sought out Godly advice.

We should be wary of counsel that does not come from a Christ-centered perspective.  Time after time Jesus illustrated that the philosophy and reasoning of the world was not in line with that of the Kingdom of Heaven.  And if we want the kind of advice that will lead us through our various crises, we need to seek Godly counsel.  “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.”

Secondly, there were any number of excuses that the widow could’ve given for why she shouldn’t do what Elisha told her to do.  “It’s embarrassing to go door to door to the neighbors asking for jars,” “It’s hard work,” “It’s time-consuming when I could be doing something that actually makes sense,” “It’s a waste of energy.”  But this widow didn’t question, didn’t argue – she immediately went to the task that Elisha laid out for her, and God honored her faith and her obedience.  Oh, that we would step out in such faith and obedience when God gives us instructions.

~ Matt Kinnell,
NHIM Board Chair