This Saturday, the Board of Directors of New Hope International Ministries met in Wilmore, Kentucky. The Board heard reports from the various ministries in which NHIM is involved, including the Samburu (Kenya) Eye Clinic, mission teams, interns, and Eastern Kentucky church planting, discipleship, and feeding programs. Pastor David Spencer came and shared about his ministry and partnership with NHIM in Eastern Kentucky. The Board also approved a budget for 2013. It was a great time of fellowship, reflection, and preparation. NHIM is very thankful for the service of its Board members and for the time they commit to help seek God’s wisdom for the ministry’s direction.
What did Adam and Eve do first after they disobeyed God? According to the account provided in Genesis 3:7, they made themselves aprons of fig leaves because they realized they were naked. It is interesting that in the last verse of chapter two, the writer points out, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” They lived together without clothes and felt no shame. Yet as soon as they ate of the forbidden fruit, they sought something to hide behind.
Evidently, their sin brought embarrassment, shame, and guilt. Adam did not want to be seen by Eve, nor Eve by Adam. So they made aprons of fig leaves. The only variety of tree that we know for sure that was in the Garden of Eden, other than the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, was the fig tree. When we sin and want to hide, there is always something available to make a covering to hide behind. We say, “It’s all right to see my outer apron, but not me as I really am.” For Adam and Eve, this act was the unspoken admission that things were not all right on the inside. A sense of guilt and shame had driven out the feeling of innocence.
The feeling of Adam and Eve is no different than the feeling of people today who do not follow the principles God has given us to live by. We may not use actual fig leaves, but we find their counterparts to serve the same purpose in our world. We hide behind our fig leaf aprons and say, “See these, but don’t see me. Don’t see what what’s underneath. Don’t see what’s inside.”
- The leaves of possessions. Many people spend their lives pursuing possessions. The pursuit goes on until the possessions possess them. It may be the nicest home, a status car, the right label on clothing, or anything else we believe will make a statement about perceived success.May I suggest some fig leaves we use to hide behind?
- The leaves of pleasure and entertainment. The Declaration of Independence declares that we have an inalienable right to “the pursuit of happiness.” Our generation has interpreted this to be a pursuit of pleasure – an “if it feels good do it” attitude prevails. We submerge ourselves in all types pleasure and entertainment as efforts to hide from nagging guilt.
- The leaves of alcohol and drugs. These mind-altering substances seem to let us hide from who we are. Their impact is at best temporary. When reality surfaces, the situation is worse than before.
- The leaves of religion. Religion that is not Christ-centered is little more than an apron of fig leaves. Profession without possession is like a cloud without rain. In a Gallup Poll, 98% said they believed in God, but only about half were affiliated with a church. A much smaller number regularly attended worship. A faith that does not address the inner relationship with God is merely a covering of fig leaves. If there is no repentance and forgiveness, there is no adequate covering for sin.
Are you trying, like Adam and Eve, to cover yourself and hide your sin? Are you hoping to hide behind fig leaves? Revelation 6:16 speaks of people who seek to hide from God: “And (they) said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.’”
~ Brother Roy
The morning air was filled with sounds of the Maasi Community of Olderkesi in Kenya. The loud whistles of the herdsmen, the tinkle of livestock bells, and the laughter of children could be heard as we walked across the plain. The friendly conversations of men and women moving toward the Africa Gospel Church mixed with the other rhythms of Sunday morning in Maasi Land.
Jon and Vera Steury, our WGM missionaries in Olderkesi, led us toward the church amid warm greetings and salutations from the Maasi people. I was impressed with the friendly acceptance we experienced. The pastor extended the hand of Christian fellowship as we entered the church. We felt at home with these wonderful people.
This was a special day for Jon and Vera. Under their instruction, several women had learned to read. This called for a time of celebration and special recognition. As Jon called the names of the women, they stepped to the front of the church to the applause of the congregation. Vera presented each lady a new Bible in the Ma language. The proceedings were interrupted by an older lady. She stood before the group clutching her Bible close to her chest. In her mother tongue, she spoke, “Kanyor orori le ngai – Kanyor orori le ngai!” Translated it means, “I love God’s word.” As she continued, the translator told us what she was saying. “This book is my most precious possession. I sleep with it by my side for safety. I carry it as my shield for protection. I keep it close to me all the time… And someday I hope I’ll be able to read it. Kanyor orori le ngai.”
I could not hold back the tears or the goose bumps. I felt a sense of shame as I thought how many of us do not read God’s word when we have every opportunity. Our Bibles often lay on an end table or shelf and gather dust. At times, other books or magazines cover it up in careless disregard. Oh, God, please give us the love for your word like this beautiful lady! Help us to read it daily and treasure its divinely inspired message. Teach us to use it as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. May we truly say, “ I love God’s word.”
~ Brother Roy
Recently, I posted an article on the NHIM web-site called Escape Completely. The article shared experiences Miss Sue and I had during our 50th Anniversary Cruise on the Sapphire Princess. The branding phrase for Princess Cruise Lines is ‘Escape Completely.’ At the end of the article, I indicated that there would be other ‘escape completely’ devotionals. So here goes!
The length of the cruise allowed many days for quiet meditation and reflection. How precious it is to have time to ‘hang out’ with Jesus! One such day as I mused at the Princess branding phrase, the following thoughts came to mind.
Our world can often be dark and foreboding. Recent events of mass shootings, wars, economic crisis, home invasions, government corruption, and more, reflect a world in chaos. Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought sin, death, sickness, and all that is hurtful into our world. The Apostle Paul in Romans 8:22-23 says, “ For we know that the whole creation groans and travaileth in pain together until now”. (23) …even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of the body ”. We are waiting for that day prophesied in Scripture which will finally bring an end to sin, suffering, and death.
When that day comes, and it surely will, those of us in Christ shall escape completely from the ravages of sin and a fallen world. We will leave behind a world devastated by Satan and evil. Therefore, as Luke tells us, we must not let the cares of this world overwhelm our hearts (Luke 21:34). Luke continues in v. 35 with these instructions, “ Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be counted worthy to escape all these these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Let all believers be encouraged with the wonderful words from Revelation 21:4, “ And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”
Dear friends in Christ – We Shall Escape Completely!
~ Brother Roy
On December 28th, Miss Sue and I headed toward Bear Pen Church. We had two couples with us who wanted to see our ministry in Eastern Kentucky firsthand. One couple, Gary and Pat Johnson, are from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They have been encouraging and supportive of our efforts in the mountains. The other couple, Rueben and Jane Langat, are from Kenya, East Africa, and are here studying at Asbury Theological Seminary. They are interested in the culture and ministry in Eastern Kentucky.
Pastor David had invited several new believers to come to the church and share their testimonies with the two couples. Three of these men have only recently been saved and delivered from addictions to alcohol and drugs. Another, by the power of Christ, has been set free from homosexuality and drugs. The testimonies were amazing. Their words reaffirmed to all of us the power of the Gospel to change people from the inside out.
After a time of fellowship and a meal at the Hitching Post Country Store, the time for us to return home came too quickly. We were standing in front of the store when Gary asked to take a picture of the group. As the men assembled for the picture, one of them said to the others with a laugh, “Do you guys realize this may be the first time we have had our pictures made without holding up a number in front of us?”
The phrase caught my attention and I will always remember it for two reasons:
(1) First, it was just plain funny!
(2) Second, it conveys an eternal truth. There is hope for those who are prisoners to sin.
Psalms 146:7b – “ The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.” Another scripture also comes to mind, “ If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
These men have been set free. No more pictures holding up a number. As you read this article, may I ask you, “Have you been set free from sin? Do you know the freedom that only Jesus can give?” If not, you may kneel where you are, confess your sins, and ask the Lord to save you. He can set you free. If you want help or need information about salvation, please contact us at New Hope International Ministries.
~ Brother Roy
It has been a remarkable year on Shoemaker Ridge. You can find several articles about Shoemaker Ridge in our NHIM archives in the “Eastern Kentucky” category. Over 30 people have been saved since we opened Ridge Chapel on Easter Sunday. Many have been saved from the grip of alcohol, drugs, and sexual sin. The change Christ has made in these lives is truly miraculous. Old things are passing away and all things are becoming new.
Pastor David Spencer and I planned to take these new believers Christmas caroling the evening of December 20th. For many of these folks, singing about Christ’s birth would be a new experience. It would be new and different for several of them just to be sober or not high on ‘meth’ or pills.
When I left our home in Wilmore for the hour and a half journey to Shoemaker Ridge, the weather was turning foul. My 22-year-old grandson, Nathan, came from Louisville to drive Miss Sue and me to the hills. In his younger years, Nathan had traveled with me around the USA and halfway around the world to assist in ministry. It was a very special Christmas present to have him with me again.
The weather continued to deteriorate as we traveled. By the time we reached the Ridge, the wind was gusting at 45 to 50 miles per hour, a driving rain set in, and sleet and snow were on the way. There were 16 hardy souls that braved the elements and came to the church. It was obvious that we could not go down the Ridge caroling. Pastor David led us in some Christmas songs and a sharing time in the church. Miss Sue sang beautifully, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. Our hearts were stirred. For most of the folks there, this would be their first Christmas as a believer. They had made room in their hearts for Bethlehem’s babe.
Miss Sue and I had packaged lightbulbs in Christmas ribbons and attached a note that said, “ The Light of the World is Jesus. From your friends at Ridge Chapel.” These small gifts were to be distributed as we went house to house. The fact that weather prevented us from caroling did not dampen our spirits. As the service ended, each person took several packages and promised to take them to their neighbors on the ridge. This actually proved to be a better way. They would have time to stop and share.
One of the men in attendance had been saved and delivered from the bondage of alcohol and drugs. He invited his brother and sister-in-law to go caroling with us. This couple was lost and addicted to drugs and alcohol. Their lives were a mess. They sat in the back of the church listening to testimonies and the message of Christmas. As we were leaving to travel back to Wilmore, I noticed the couple was still standing in the parking lot talking to David.
I was about half way down the Mountain Parkway when my cell phone rang. I could hear the joy in David’s voice. The couple had asked the Lord into their hearts. For that couple, Bethlehem’s angel spoke once more “ I bring you good tidings of great joy…for unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” I think the heavenly host sang that night over Shoemaker Ridge, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward Men.”
I praise God that the Christmas Story is as real today as it was 2,000 yrs. ago!
I jumped into the my car for a quick trip to the grocery store. I started out mildly disgruntled, because it was the second time in the last 30 minutes that I needed to purchase another small item I had forgotten. About half a block down the street, the seatbelt light started flashing. If that was not irritating enough, the obnoxious ding, ding, ding, certainly was. After the proper amount of disdain, I took a deep breath and let reason prevail. The seat belt warning had not been installed by the manufacturer to grate on my nerves. It was there for my safety. It was to serve at just a time like this – a time when I was preoccupied and charging off without buckling-up – and it did its job.
Many of the ordinary events in our lives can speak to principles of eternal significance if we pay attention. Conscience is our God given warning system. When we get preoccupied with things around us and go charging ahead without due consideration of the consequences, our conscience will sound a warning. Rather than getting irritated at the restraint that tries to keep us from doing what could be harmful, we should take a moment and consider our actions in light of Biblical principles.
In Romans 2:15 (NCV), the Apostle Paul speaks of Gentiles who do not have the law of God as the Jews do. When Gentiles do the right thing,“They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands. And they show this by their consciences. Sometimes their thoughts tell them they did wrong, and sometimes their thoughts tell them they did right.” How gracious of God to give us a conscience to alert us when we go astray!
But Paul sounds a warning in the following instructions to young Timothy: “ Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” (I Timothy 1:19 NLT) If a person continues to ignore the warning of their conscience, it becomes “seared as with a hot iron.” The teaching in Romans 1:28 is clear. If we choose to ignore God’s warning signals, the conscience dies. At that point, He will then give us over to a reprobate mind.
Prayer for the day: Thank you Lord for our consciences. Help us to heed the warning signals. When we start out to face a new day, may we ‘buckle up.’ May we understand that warning signals from our consciences are for our benefit.
~ Brother Roy