The Exit Ramp

Red taillights stretched as far as the eye could see. Traffic was at a stand-still. It appeared as if no one would be going anywhere anytime soon. Frustrated drivers craned their necks, trying to get a glimpse between the mass of vehicles, all looking for the same thing: an exit ramp to deliver them around the gridlock.

Have you ever found yourself in such a situation? Maybe it wasn’t a traffic jam in which you were trapped, but a conversation that you just couldn’t find a way out of. Your mind cycles through phrases, searching for the magic words that will release you from this interaction: “Well, I guess I’d better be going,” you try, but your acquaintance doesn’t take the hint and rambles on. You desperately need an exit ramp.

In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul was urging his readers not to follow the same sins that the people of Israel had committed in the wilderness during their exodus from Egypt. Paul specifically mentions the sins of idolatry, sexual immorality, putting the Lord to the test, and grumbling (I Corinthians 10:7-10). And Paul noted that the punishment that Israel received for their sins was an example for the believers of the current day, to inspire them to be careful that they stand firm in the faith and do not fall.

It would be easy to stand firm in the faith and avoid falling into sin if it were not for temptation. Every sin begins with temptation to do something that we know we ought not do. If sin was not tempting, why would anyone do it? James wrote that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15, NIV).

Temptation can be relentless. We are seemingly bombarded from every side with temptations to pursue things that do not honor God: pleasure, power, wealth, ambition, self-centeredness. Many Christ followers believe that the overwhelming flood of temptation is too much to overcome. And all of these temptations can certainly grind our progress along the Way to a halt. We need an exit ramp!

Paul knew the Corinthians needed encouragement for the pressures they faced, and he delivered one of the greatest promises in all of scripture: “No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:13, NASB). Commit that verse to memory! Write it on your heart! Cling to its truth in the moment of temptation. It is your exit ramp!

When you are overwhelmed by the pressures and enticements of the world, and you feel there is no way out, that sin is inescapable – remember these truths of Paul’s promise:

  • Everyone is tempted – you are not alone.
  • God will not allow you to be tempted more than you can bear.
  • When you are tempted, God will always provide an exit ramp – a way of escape so you can stand firm in the face of temptation.

When you are faced with temptation, ask yourself: “Where is my exit ramp?” If you look hard enough, with God’s help you will find it!

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13)

~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chair

Are You Hungry?

When my family traveled to visit my grandparents, we would hardly get in the door with our suitcases before Grandma would ask, “Are you hungry?” She lived to feed people. And if anyone ever left her house hungry, it would be of no fault but their own.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus took Grandma’s concern for our bellies and made an important spiritual point. The fourth Beatitude says that those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” are blessed, because they will be filled (Matthew 5:6)

There is an unfortunate number of Christians who do not believe that righteousness is possible, and, dare I say, a number who do not even think it is desirable. Kingdom people, though, are characterized by a primal yearning – a hunger, a thirst – for righteousness. 

God has called His people from the dawn of the Old Covenant to “be holy, for I am holy”.  But the Law, Paul tells us, was powerless to make one righteous (Romans 8:2-11).  So Christ came to establish a New Covenant, whereby we are no longer under obligation to sin. 

The good news of the Kingdom to people who hunger and thirst for righteousness is, you will be filled!  Paul prayed, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you (make you holy) entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, NASB). So there’s the goal – sanctified holy and kept complete and without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus. But it’s unattainable, right? No! Paul continues: “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will do it” (v.24).

So righteousness is commanded. Righteousness has been made possible. The question is: Do we even want it?  You have to need righteousness like you need sustenance.  Jesus says, if you pursue righteousness like one who is starving or parched, you are blessed, because you will be satisfied.

All my lifelong, I had panted for a drop from some cool spring,
That I hoped would quench the yearning of the thirst I felt within.

Feeding on the husks around me till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better, only still to hunger on. 

But hallelujah! I have found Him whom my soul so long has craved.
Jesus satisfies my longing – through His blood I now am saved. 

(“Satisfied”, by Clara Tear Williams)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled!

~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chair


I never cease to be amazed at the technology of our day. A few days ago, I participated in a Zoom meeting. Several of us joined together to affirm and pray for a friend who was answering the call to serve as a missionary. By simply clicking on a link provided by the friend, zoom! – we were all together on computer screens. We could see each other and talk together. Once again, I was amazed.

Reflection on the event brought to mind a scripture. “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:53, NIV). At some point, zoom! – we shall be transported into the presence of Jesus and see Him as He is.

The Apostle Paul says, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17, NIV). Scripture is clear. It has been appointed by God that at some point we shall cease physical life here, stand before judgement, and spend eternity in one of two places. Christians shall forever be with Lord. Those who are not prepared and are not ‘in Christ’ will be separated forever from Him and all that is good. When that moment comes, zoom! – we are in a face-to-face meeting with our Creator, the righteous Judge.

The link to eternal life in heaven is simple – John 3:16. As your read this devotional, ask yourself, “Have I believed in Jesus as my savior? Am I at this moment ready for that ‘Zoom meeting’?”

Prayer: “When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.” (Edward Mote, William B. Bradbury)

~ Brother Roy

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

It is a scene that no one wishes to experience. A funeral home, loved ones gathered to remember a friend, a parent, a child, taken from them far too soon. A heavy atmosphere of grief is settled on the room. Tears flow freely as those gathered try to make sense of an unthinkable tragedy.

In His Sermon on the Mount, as He outlined the principles of the Kingdom that He had come to inaugurate, Jesus said that in His Kingdom mourners are blessed (Matthew 5:4).  What a strange perspective. The word there for ‘mourn’ is the same word used in the Greek Old Testament when Jacob learned that his favorite son Joseph had been killed by wild animals.  So it’s like saying, “If you’ve experienced the worst pain that can be experienced, you’re blessed.”

Jesus said those who mourn are blessed, because they will be comforted. I think there’s at least a couple of ways to look at this.  And while either or neither may have been what Jesus intended, I think there’s enough evidence from Scripture to support both understandings.

On one hand, you have the literal interpretation, which would refer to a deep mourning over a loss, like the death of a loved one. In a world to which Christ has not come – a world in which many even today live in ignorance – the pain of loss can be so final, so hopeless. 

But the Kingdom of God is upside-down from our fallen world. As Paul so beautifully stated, those who are in Christ do not “grieve as…the rest of mankind do, who have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13).  And Paul goes on to testify that “the dead in Christ will rise” and “we will always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words” (v.16-18).  Blessed are the Kingdom people who mourn a great loss, for they will be comforted. 

On another hand, perhaps there is a more abstract interpretation of this Kingdom reality. The first message that Matthew records Jesus as preaching was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:17).  And again the Apostle Paul helps us bridge the connection, this time between mourning and repentance.  In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul acknowledges that his previous letter caused sorrow for the believers in Corinth.  But Paul says, “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance…For the sorrow that is according to God produces a repentance without regret leading to salvation” (v.9-10).

So in this more abstract understanding of the Beatitude, the mourning is over sin, and the comfort comes through salvation. There is something about a godly sorrow that produces a more sincere repentance.  When we see the ugliness of our sin for what it is, in such a way that we feel it like the pain of grief, then we are more prepared to make that 180-degree turn of repentance.  And again, Paul says, “Because of this (because of what this godly sorrow has produced in you), we have been comforted (v.13). Blessed are those whose mourning produces repentance, for they will be comforted.

Whether our mourning is the result of a reckoning with the weight of our sin or of grief over loss, in Christ we find comfort in the joy of salvation and the hope of the resurrection.

“You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have untied my sackcloth and encircled me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11-12)

~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chair

I Feel Your Pain

There is a common phrase in our modern political world – ‘I feel your pain’. Politicians use the phrase to attempt to garner votes by trying to convince people that they really care about their situation and will work on their behalf. It is usually shallow and condescending. It does not reflect genuine care, but rather seeks to ingratiate the speaker to the listener.

If experience would teach us anything, it is not to believe the rhetoric, but rather look for tangible proof. Yet, it seems people continue to be taken in by insincere compassion. They find out later that they have been misled once again. Is there anyone whom you can believe? 

Yes! There is One who truly does feel our pain. Jesus, the Son of God, came as a man born of a woman. He willingly submitted Himself to the human condition. We have a Savior who is eminently qualified to empathize with us in our afflictions, and to whom, therefore, we may look for aid and support in trials. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV). You are invited to cast all your cares on Him, “for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NKJV).

Not only does Jesus care, He can and will do something about a believer’s petitions. We have the authority of scripture and the testimonies of untold millions of Christians across the centuries as tangible evidence. There are few among us who have not experienced the Lord’s help or personally know someone who has. An affirmation at the heart of the Church around the world is “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him. How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.”

A friend recently gave me the devotional book titled ‘A Song In My Heart’ by Robert J. Morgan. In its pages, I discovered the words of a hymn I had never heard. The last verse of ‘All My Heart With Joy Is Springing’ touched my heart. It stirred the thoughts contained in this devotional. May the words of that verse bless your heart like they have mine.

                        Ye who strive with fierce temptation,
                        Sorrow-stung, conscience-wrung,
                        Here is consolation;
                        For the woes which men inherit
                        Christ can feel, Christ will heal
                        Every wounded spirit  (Paul Gerhardt)

Conclusion: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV).

~ Brother Roy


I was serving as pastor of a small rural church. At 18 years old, I was brimming with inexperience. ‘Zeal without knowledge’ (Romans 10:2) might be an appropriate description. The congregation wanted to invite a very successful church planter/evangelist to preach a revival at our church. He had been the pastor of the church years earlier. He accepted the invitation. I was both excited and intimidated by the prospects of working with such an outstanding man.

Rev. Cain came and more than exceeded his reputation. Looking back with embarrassment, I remember my vain attempt to impress him. I said to him, “Rev. Cain in my experience (a few months in a small rural church), I am finding it is harder and harder to get men saved. What do you think?”

I was not  prepared for his response. “No, I haven’t found that to be true in my ministry. It has not been problem seeing people come to be ‘saved’. But, I’ve spent a life-time of ministry trying to get people ‘lost’.  If I can convince a person that without a personal relationship with Jesus they are lost, if I can help them realize that they will be eternally separated from God and all that is good, they will run to Jesus for salvation. If I can help a person see the horrors of hell, the torment of the flames, and inescapable suffering forever, they will flee to the Savior and plead for mercy.”

Now, after six decades of ministry, I am more convinced than ever that Rev. Cain was right. Satan’s deception of people today is as it was with Adam and Eve in the beginning. The serpent told the Great Lie, “You will not surely die.” The mantra goes on…“God will not send anyone to hell. That ‘hellfire and brimstone’ stuff is just preachers’ attempting to scare you into giving them your money. If there is a God whom you have rejected, He loves you and will not cast you into outer darkness.” The Apostle Paul sounds this alert: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4, NIV).

The enemy of people’s souls tells them, “You will be fine,” even though God’s Word says:

  • “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20, NKJV).
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NKJV).
  • “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8, NKJV).

Without Jesus there is no hope. You are lost! “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Conclusion:Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8, NKJV).

~ Brother Roy

Smooth Seas

I was struggling to open a heavy door for my wife. A large, powerful arm reached out and easily pulled the door open. I could not help but notice that the gentleman who assisted had a tattoo on his bicep. The tattoo read, “Smooth seas do not make a skilled sailor.” The phrase reminded me of a valuable spiritual principle. Trials and struggles are often the very events that make us strong. Faith grows in the midst of adversity.

The following scriptures emphasize this principle:

  • Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12, NIV).
  •  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10, NIV).
  •  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV).

We can all benefit from the spiritual lesson from these scriptures. At times, we may long for a life in which there are no drawbacks, no difficulties, no sorrows, no temptations.  If we received what we longed for, it could result in a spiritual desert in our souls. The very difficulties we face help form Christian character when taken in the proper way.

In Acts 14:22, the Apostle Paul was intent on “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.” He said, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”  

It is true that life has its hard times, but God’s word assures us that these times are essential to develop Christian maturity. I believe the truth expressed in that tattoo: ‘Smooth seas do not make a skilled sailor.’ I agree with Paul: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NIV).  

There would be no rainbows without both rain and sunshine.

~ Brother Roy

Easter Dawn

“Resurrection Morning”, by JRC Martin

The following is a sonnet by Malcolm Guite taken from ‘Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year, Canterbury Press 2012′, shared with the author’s permission from his blog.

XV Easter Dawn

He blesses every love which weeps and grieves
And now he blesses hers who stood and wept
And would not be consoled, or leave her love’s
Last touching place, but watched as low light crept
Up from the east. A sound behind her stirs
A scatter of bright birdsong through the air.
She turns, but cannot focus through her tears,
Or recognise the Gardener standing there.
She hardly hears his gentle question ‘Why,
Why are you weeping?’, or sees the play of light
That brightens as she chokes out her reply
‘They took my love away, my day is night’
And then she hears her name, she hears Love say
The Word that turns her night, and ours, to Day.


The following are a selection of sonnets by Malcolm Guite taken from ‘Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year, Canterbury Press 2012′, shared with the author’s permission from his blog.

XI Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross

See, as they strip the robe from off his back
And spread his arms and nail them to the cross,
The dark nails pierce him and the sky turns black,
And love is firmly fastened onto loss.
But here a pure change happens. On this tree
Loss becomes gain, death opens into birth.
Here wounding heals and fastening makes free
Earth breathes in heaven, heaven roots in earth.
And here we see the length, the breadth, the height
Where love and hatred meet and love stays true
Where sin meets grace and darkness turns to light
We see what love can bear and be and do,
And here our saviour calls us to his side
His love is free, his arms are open wide.

XII Jesus dies on the cross

The dark nails pierce him and the sky turns black
We watch him as he labours to draw breath
He takes our breath away to give it back,
Return it to it’s birth through his slow death.
We hear him struggle breathing through the pain
Who once breathed out his spirit on the deep,
Who formed us when he mixed the dust with rain
And drew us into consciousness from sleep.
His spirit and his life he breathes in all
Mantles his world in his one atmosphere
And now he comes to breathe beneath the pall
Of our pollutions, draw our injured air
To cleanse it and renew. His final breath
Breathes us, and bears us through the gates of death.

XIII Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross

His spirit and his life he breathes in all
Now on this cross his body breathes no more
Here at the centre everything is still
Spent, and emptied, opened to the core.
A quiet taking down, a prising loose
A cross-beam lowered like a weighing scale
Unmaking of each thing that had its use
A long withdrawing of each bloodied nail,
This is ground zero, emptiness and space
With nothing left to say or think or do
But look unflinching on the sacred face
That cannot move or change or look at you.
Yet in that prising loose and letting be
He has unfastened you and set you free.

XIV Jesus is laid in the tomb

Here at the centre everything is still
Before the stir and movement of our grief
Which bears its pain with rhythm, ritual,
Beautiful useless gestures of relief.
So they anoint the skin that cannot feel
Soothing his ruined flesh with tender care,
Kissing the wounds they know they cannot heal,
With incense scenting only empty air.
He blesses every love that weeps and grieves
And makes our grief the pangs of a new birth.
The love that’s poured in silence at old graves
Renewing flowers, tending the bare earth,
Is never lost. In him all love is found
And sown with him, a seed in the rich ground.


To see the King of heaven fall
In anguish to His knees,
The Light and Hope of all the world
Now overwhelmed with grief.
What nameless horrors must He see,
To cry out in the garden:
Oh, take this cup away from me
Yet not my will but Yours,
Yet not my will but Yours.

To know each friend will fall away,
And heaven’s voice be still,
For hell to have its vengeful day
Upon Golgotha’s hill.
No words describe the Saviour’s plight –
To be by God forsaken
Till wrath and love are satisfied
And every sin is paid
And every sin is paid

What took Him to this wretched place,
What kept Him on this road?
His love for Adam’s cursed race,
For every broken soul.
No sin too slight to overlook,
No crime too great to carry,
All mingled in this poisoned cup ‚
And yet He drank it all,
The Saviour drank it all,
The Saviour drank it all.

(by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend)