Buried Like a Donkey

A couple of years ago, my wife and I decided to plan and prepay for our funerals. Picking our caskets, vaults, and other arrangements was both surreal and sobering. Although death is inevitable, it’s still a somber event to design your own gravestone.

A recent Sunday School lesson caused me to reflect on these pre-planned arrangements. Our class was studying the Book of Jeremiah. As we reviewed chapter 22, a verse captured my attention. It was Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning King Jehoiakim: “He will be buried like a dead donkey” (Jeremiah 22:19, NLT). The Bible tells the whole truth and speaks candidly about death.

Two contrasting images of funerals immerge in the teachings of Jesus in Luke 16. Jesus shares what many believe to be a parable about the death of two men, while other Bible scholars conjecture that this may have been an account of actual people known to the Master. “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores  and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he (the rich man) was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (Luke 16:1923)

Lazarus’s body was likely unceremoniously disposed of in the city dump. But, his real ‘funeral’ was one that anyone of us would desire. The pallbearers of Lazarus’s spirit were angels who bore him into Paradise, by Abraham’s side.

It seems likely that the rich man’s body was buried with all the ‘pomp and circumstance’ attendant to his status. However, the rich man (some Bible scholars think it may have been Caiaphas the High Priest) found his grave to be a trapdoor to Hades and torment. No matter how elaborate the casket, how prestigious the burial plot, or how great a host of paid mourners, who would want to be in his place?

The Prophet Jeremiah’s prophecy of the funeral of the wealthy, powerful King Jehoiakim is much like the rich man of whom Jesus spoke. Jeremiah said, “He will be buried like a dead donkey —dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates” (Jeremiah 22:19, NLT).  On the other hand, a poor, bedraggled, dying thief heard Jesus say, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, NIV). In each situation, we might ask the same question as Jesus: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36, KJV).

As we plan for our own funerals, may I suggest we spend less time on caskets, burial plots, and temporal arrangements, and more time on things of eternal significance. Better to be buried in a paupers’ field with ‘clean hands and a pure heart’ (Psalm 24:3-4) than to have a grand funeral and be lost.

Conclusion: Pray to have a funeral like Lazarus, not one like King Jehoiakim.

~ Brother Roy

The Stamp

Recently, as part of my job duties at our local public library, I was certified as a Notary Public.  The main function of a notary is to verify that a signature on a document was made by the person who is represented by the signature.  Typically, that is done by the signor showing me a photo ID and signing the document in my presence.

When a notary is satisfied that the person signing a document is who they say they are, the notary signs an affirmation of that fact and stamps the document with an embossed seal.  The image carved into the seal is thereby imprinted on the paper to legitimize the authenticity of the notarization.

In Hebrews 1:3 (NASB), the writer avers that Jesus is “the exact representation of (God’s) nature.”  The Greek word used there is charakter, which in Greek has two meanings: a seal and the impression that a seal leaves on wax.  It is the same word for both the seal and the impression, because the impression has the exact form of the seal.

Just as when you look at a notary stamp embossed on a document and see exactly what is carved on the stamp, when you look at Jesus you see exactly what God is like.  John Wesley said, “Whatever the Father is, is exhibited in the Son.”  It isn’t God the just and Jesus the merciful; it isn’t God the wrathful and Jesus the kind.  Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature.

Because Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature, He could tell Philip, “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).  In the introduction to his Gospel, the Apostle John wrote, “No one has seen God at any time; God the only Son, who is in the arms of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18).  God, who is as the hymnwriter said, “in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes”, revealed His character to us through Jesus, who is the exact representation of God’s nature.

The Apostle Paul said that we look at the glory of the Lord as in a mirror as we “are being transformed into the same image” (2 Corinthians 2:18).  Paul also proclaimed that we were “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).  It is clear that this journey of salvation is intended to transform and conform our character with the character of Jesus.

Jesus prayed for us in His great High Priestly Prayer that “the glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me” (John 17:22-23).  Jesus wants us to be like Him, because He is like the Father.  And so when the hope of Jesus’ prayer is a reality in our lives, the world can look at us and see the image of Jesus, who has the image of the Father.  When we are conformed to that image that we were created to be, the world may know who the Father is.

O to be like Thee!  O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
~ Thomas O. Chisolm ~

~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chair

Happy Easter from NHIM – He Is Risen!

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, “Alleluia!”
Raise your joys and triumphs high! Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply: “Alleluia!”

Love’s redeeming work is done! Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won! Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise. Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise! Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King! Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once He all doth save! Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise! Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies! Alleluia!

by Charles Wesley (1739)

A Catawampus World

I am trying to come to grips with the fact that I live in a catawampus world. I heard the term ‘catawampus’ when I was growing up, but wasn’t sure it was a real word. Later, I was surprised to find out that it is actually a legitimate word. The dictionary definition: askew; awry; positioned diagonally; cater-cornered. I have determined through personal observation that our world is indeed askew. While I could cite numerous examples of our catawampus state, I will highlight just a couple.

I will be the first to admit that the explosion of technology has left me behind. While most of my maladroit interaction with computers and smart phones may be due to my advanced age and lack of training, scammers and hackers work overtime to steal money from people like me. These crooked schemers reflect some of the worst aspects of a fallen world.

The enemy of our soul still breathes the same lies as he did in the Garden of Eden: “Trust me, you can do as you please, and nothing bad will happen to you”. Wise is the person who is aware of the scripture, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). The lawlessness, violence, deep political division, and class hatred further manifests the devastating effects of sin on humankind. The impact of man’s disobedience has resulted in a catawampus world.

I do have a plan for negotiating this crooked and perverse world. I am going to walk with Jesus! I will be unwaveringly committed to the Lord. Scripture says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight(Proverbs 3:5,6). I know that when I walk with the Lord; “The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth” (Luke 3:5, NKJV).

I love the words of the old hymn “Trust and Obey”, by John Henry Sammis:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Join with Jesus and me, and let us walk in the light of His Word. With His help, we can stay on the straight and narrow way as we transverse a Catawampus World.

~ Brother Roy

The Farmer’s Prayer

I was talking with a friend about the unusually difficult times we are experiencing. The Pandemic, political division, and moral decline dominated our conversation. My friend then shared a story with me that I had heard years ago, but certainly benefited from hearing again. Permit me to share the story:

    A pastor attended a community breakfast in the middle of a rural farming area of the county. An older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, was asked to say grace for the morning breakfast:     

“Lord, I hate buttermilk,” the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wondered where this was going.

The farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the pastor was growing concerned.

Without missing a beat, the farmer continued, “And Lord, you know I don’t much care for raw white flour.”

The pastor once again opened an eye to glance around the room. He noticed others were feeling uncomfortable as well.

Then the farmer added, “But Lord, when you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em, I do love them warm, fresh biscuits. So, Lord, when things come up we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we don’t understand why this is happening, help us to just relax and wait until you are done with the mixing. It’ll probably be even better than them biscuits.   Amen.”

Within this prayer is great wisdom for all when it comes to complicated situations like we are experiencing in the world today.

~ Brother Roy

A Hymn of Praise

Hymn of Praise
words by Gloria Gaither; music Traditional

Oh, loving Father, by Your grace,
We gather here to seek Your face
And thank You for this family
And hearth and home and loyalty.

Our hearts are full of gratitude –
For work and rest and daily food,
For neighbors kind and faithful friends,
The gifts on which our lives depend.

We even thank You for the pain –
It’s through the losses that we gain
A clear perspective, better view
Of our dependency on You.

We hold all things with open hand –
Our homes, our lives, and this great land.
Our gifts, possessions, and our days,
We lift to You in grateful praise.

Through good and bad we’ve learned to trust
That You are loving, wise and just.
So now with childlike hearts we raise
Our hymn of deepest, highest praise!

Happy Thanksgiving from NHIM!

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

Easter Sunday

empty tomb

John 20:1-29  1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Job 19:25-26  I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh will I see God.

Good Friday

jesus

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

Mark 14:53-65  53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

Jesus Before Pilate

Mark 15:1-15  Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate,10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

Luke 23:33-34 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

John 19:23-27 23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”  This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”  So this is what the soldiers did.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Luke 23:39-43 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Matthew 27:45-46  45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

John 19:28-30  28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Luke 23:46  46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Mark 15:38-39  38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Matthew 27:57-60  57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

Isaiah 53
Who has believed our message

    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.