Things Above

gullOne of my great joys in this life is to walk along the beach on Dauphin Island. The lapping of the waves, the mist from the water, and the soft sand beneath my feet all give me pleasure. As I walk along, I especially enjoy the cry of the gulls as they glide gracefully above the water. Endowed by the Creator, they have the innate ability to ride the updrafts and use the air currents to move smoothly through the air with a minimum of effort.

Looking up to spot the gulls, my eyes often lift higher to the heavens. With no thought of doing an injustice to God’s word, let me share a thought from the Book of Ecclesiastes.  As I lift my eyes heavenward, Ecclesiastes 12:4. comes to mind:  “…and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird.”  My thoughts rise up at the cry of a gull. I think of Paul’s instruction in Colossians 3:2:Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Sometimes, as I gaze into the sky, I experience a longing for heaven and home. I like the expressive words found  in the Message translation: “For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven – God made, not handmade – and we’ll never have to relocate our ’tents’ again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move – so we cry out…” (2 Corinthians 5:1). 

The cry of a gull causes me to lift my eyes and mind heaven ward. I smile when I think that one day my soul will catch an updraft and I’ll “fly away”. I will soar above the gulls, above the sky.  I will, in Christ, “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, w
hat joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And t
here proclaim:  “My God, how great Thou art!”

Grandpa, I Need You!

A group of men gather at the local IGA Food Store for coffee each morning. One of the regulars, my good friend Ken Shewmaker, came in sometime ago with his young granddaughter. Her visits are always a special time for “Shoe” and his wife. His granddaughter was riding in the grocery cart as he picked up a few items for home. As he started down the checkout aisle, he remembered something he had forgotten a few steps away. With his granddaughter in sight, he stepped away from cart momentarily while he picked up the needed item. The candy, mints, and other ‘child magnets’ that always line the checkout lanes were just out of her reach.

Her sweet little voice could be heard calling out, “Grandpa, I need you.”  Then for emphasis she repeated her plea a little louder, “Grandpa, I need you!” She had learned at an early age that her tenderhearted grandpa would respond and perhaps give her what she wanted. Shoe would do everything in his power to give her anything she really needed. And, like many other grandfathers, he also supplied her with many things that may not be true needs, but were simply wants.

The kingdom of heaven is like Shoe and his granddaughter. Our tenderhearted heavenly Father has done everything in His power to give us what we really need. The Scripture says,” But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).  However, we must keep in mind the vast difference between wants and needs. The Book of James provides insight into the matter. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your own pleasures” (James 4:3, NKJ). God will supply our needs, not wants; but occasionally He gives us a “a candy bar” for good measure. 

The Psalmist declares, “Oh how great is Thy goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You; which You have prepared for those who trust in You” (Psalm 31:19, NKJ). It’s a blessed assurance to know, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11b, NKJ).  In over a half a century of walking with the Lord, I testify to the fact that when I have cried out in real need, “Father, I need you”, He has responded to my cry. He has always been there to supply my need according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ.

Are you in a right relationship with the heavenly Father? If you find yourself in great need, do you have the assurance that there is nothing between you and Him that would hinder His coming to you assistance? He is only a prayer away.

lord i need you

~ Brother Roy

Kya Sands Catastrophe

kya little girlFollowing God’s path for our lives has led Rich and me across a 9,000-mile journey from Crestwood, Kentucky, to Johannesburg, South Africa … an amazing and beautiful country in which we daily encounter the faces of those living in desperate conditions.  Since moving here last January, I have had the great privilege of working in a special ministry alongside exceptional women from our church, Bryanston Bible Church (BBC).  We meet weekly with small children, ages approximately 3-8, in Kya Sands squatter’s camp (a slum area).  These children live in extreme poverty in crudely constructed shacks made of tin and other discarded building materials that provide only meager shelter.  Our deep desire is to be in some small way, the hands and feet of Jesus … providing lots of love and hugs, food, physical activity to increase hand/eye coordination and basic language instruction.

The "classroom" under the tree

The “classroom” under the tree

The children eagerly meet us each Tuesday morning in a small open area at the edge of the camp in our outdoor “classroom under the tree”.  An open sewage ditch about 5 feet deep is a major obstacle for the small children to cross as they come to our “classroom” among the piles of rubbish and debris.  A large burned out area of grass off to the side is the bathroom … open for all to see … no privacy … no proper toilet facilities.

Ben Wright helps a child across the ditch

Ben Wright helps a child across the ditch

The "bathroom"

The “bathroom”

Miss Sue singing "Jesus Loves Me" with 4-year-old Kenny

Miss Sue singing “Jesus Loves Me” with 4-year-old Kenny

The tragic Kya Sands fire

The tragic Kya Sands fire

As if life was not hard enough for these precious children and their families, a few weeks ago a tragic fire roared through parts of Kya where many of our children live.  Over 750 shacks were destroyed and more than 3,500 people were left homeless, having lost everything.  NHIM has joined with some of my former colleagues at Crestwood Elementary (Oldham County, Kentucky) and donors from BBC to provide much needed assistance.  When I asked the ladies what they needed, the response was just 3 simple items … a small kerosene stove to cook on, a pot to make pap in (the staple starch in South Africa – think thick grits) and a large bucket with a lid, as the ladies must carry water a considerable distance.  While these items seem simple to us, they represent life to these families.  In addition to these desperately needed items, we have also been able to provide plastic plates and cups, silverware, blankets, towels, clothing and toiletries.

Fire victims and donated relief supplies

Fire victims and donated relief supplies

Even though the fire has long since been extinguished, the emotional scars on an already disenfranchised people will take time, prayers and the loving kindness of Christian people to heal. Please, pray and help as you can … you can be a part of the healing process.  “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40 (ESV) 

~ Lori Lauter Wright, NHIM Board Member

A Born Loser

born loserIn a recent conversation, I heard someone say, “He’s a born loser.” Perhaps I have even been guilty of repeating that inappropriate phrase myself. I know better, but somehow it occasionally seems to works itself into my speech. Let me set the record straight: I do not believe some are born winners, nor do I believe some are born losers. I do, however, believe that we are all born ‘choosers’.

We win or lose by the choices we make. God created us creatures of volitional choice. We have been created with ‘free will’. Certainly a part of what the scripture means when it says we were created in Gods image, is that man is an intelligent being capable of rational thought. God has then set us free to be choosers.

Let me offer a few of the well-known scriptures that support my observation. Joshua 24:15“…choose you this day whom you will serve…”  Deuteronomy 30:19“ I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursings: therefore choose life that both you and seed may live.” Proverbs 1:29 speaks of those who “did not choose the fear of the Lord.”  The psalmist said, “I have chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:30). 

If I rise to great heights in the Lord or fall into the pits of perdition, it will be because of the choices I have made. The Lord certainly loved John, and scripture refers to him as the disciple whom Jesus loved. But I believe that He loved Judas no less. If a person resists the grace of God and succeeds in making a shipwreck of their life, it is done by the choices they make. We do not serve a vindictive God who predetermines whom He will assign to hell. It is not a question of could the Almighty God do it , but rather would He do it. The whole ethos of scripture stands against such a position.

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
  • “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2nd Peter 3:9
  • “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him that heareth say, ‘Come.’ And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17

No one is born a winner. No one is born a loser. Everyone is born a chooser.

~ Brother Roy

Waves

wavesI like to walk along the beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, and watch the waves. I often stand for long periods of time mesmerized by the action of the waves. I find myself, like so many others, projecting human characteristics onto the waves. People, for example, have characterized waves as ‘angry’, or ‘boisterous’, or ‘raging’, to list just a few.

At times the waves seem to me to be restless and agitated. Scripture reinforces my observations. Isaiah 57:20 speaks of people that are at odds with God as being “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest.”  In Ephesians 4:14, Paul admonishes us “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…”  James 1:6-7 says we are to “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways.” 

The phrase in the text of James 1:6like a wave of the sea” is the same Greek phrase translated in the Isaiah and Ephesians texts  as “troubled” and “tossed to and fro”. Such people are filled with doubt, wavering between belief and unbelief. Doubting means “to be divided in one’s mind”.  The term does not describe a momentary doubt but a divided allegiance, an uncertainty. James also relates doubting to being ‘double minded’. Double-minded literally means “two souls.”    If one part of a person is set on God and the other is set on this world (see Matthew 6 :24), there will be constant turmoil within.

Jamison, Fausset, & Brown offers this note: “’driven with the wind’ is from without, and ‘tossed’ is from within, by its own instability.”

Sometimes the waves seem to rush toward the shore only to be shoved back by the backwash. Sometimes believers move forward in faith and hope only to be pushed back into a sea of doubt.

I believe the answer to this restlessness, to being tossed to and fro, to being driven by the winds of doubt is found in James 4:7& 8:  “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts you double minded.”

Let Jesus speak to your heart if it is troubled by doubt. Hear Him say, “Peace, be still.”  Then know “that even the wind and sea obey him” (Mark 4:39-41).

~ Brother Roy