Crabs Walk Sideways

crab walkSometimes when I first stand up, I may step a little sideways to gain my balance. Recently, as I took that small sidestep, a line from an old song popped into my mind. In 1964, the Smothers Brothers had a hit novelty song titled ‘Crabs Walk Sideways’. The song was about an ill-fated relationship between Herman, a crab, and Sally, a lobster. The course of the song notes, “Crabs walk sideways and lobsters walk straight, and you can’t take a crab for your mate.”

As is often the case, when an extraneous thought comes to my mind, a spiritual corollary may also be triggered. We live in an era when it seems we are trending toward unlikely relationships. With careless disregard, people pursue involvement with people from very diverse backgrounds and at times diametrically opposed ideologies. A person may offer an anecdotal instance in such cases of a successful and harmonious relationship developing that endures. But, in general, such relationships normally tend to friction, dissonance, and collapse. A classic example is a young lady coming from a loving Christian home who becomes involved with a young man of dubious moral character and a dysfunctional family. That is often a prescription for disaster. In fifty plus years of ministry, I have witnessed an unending chain of broken hearts, broken homes, and broken children resulting from ill-conceived relationships like that of Herman and Sally.

Our Heavenly Father has given warnings against such relationships from His early dealing with the people in the Old Testament (see Deuteronomy 7). Examples of Sampson and Solomon serve to underscore the point. The warnings continued into the New Testament. The Apostle Paul provides clear teaching on the matter in his letter to the Church at Corinth: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

I am painfully aware that the proposition advanced in this devotional is not a popular one in the social climate of today. It rubs people the wrong way.  But no matter how respectful, sweet, or loving an unbelieving partner is, if they are at odds with Christ – they are in rebellion.

Psychologists, social engineers, and those influenced by them, give considerable ‘blow-back’ about what they deem as outdated conservative religious beliefs. All of this opposition comes in the face of ever-increasing divorce rates, exploding incidents of domestic violence, dysfunctional families, child abuse, broken homes, and social disintegration. These things appear to be amplified as we pursue ‘relationships without borders’.

My response to those who challenge my faith in the teaching of God’s word is this: “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:3-4). I choose to follow God’s word.

With the passing years, the worms will eat the yellowed pages of a multitude of the erudite social engineers of our day, but the word of God will still be true and the Bible will continue to be the world’s ‘Best Selling Book’.

~ Brother Roy

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If I Go…

phil 1.21There is the story of an older man on his death bed. His family had gathered around to comfort him and heard him say, “If I go, I’ll be with Jesus; if I stay, He will be with Me”. In the most basic of words, the old gentleman echoed the sentiments of the Apostle Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 KJV).

I sat beside my wife’s bed in the Cardiac Critical Care Unit at the hospital. She had suffered a heart attack and had a blood clot in the left ventricle of her heart. Systems were failing and shutting down. Feeding tube, picc-line, other IV’s, catheter, oxygen, and more filled the area around her bed. She was in pain and deep distress, virtually unable to hear or speak.

She clung to life over the next several days as my family and I hung onto her. Somewhere during one of those dark nights, I reached a resolve. She was in the Lord’s hands. “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:20). Medical science can go so far and no farther. Now, I had to wholly trust the Lord. This I knew, “Everything he does is good! He even heals people who cannot hear or talk” (Mark 7:37, CEV).

A peace, not as the world gives, came to me from Jesus (John 14:27). If she goes ahead, she will be with Jesus and if she stays here and recovers, He will be with her. Against all odds, she began to improve. Days passed, she made steady progress and was finally able to return home. She stayed ‘here’ and He truly has been and is with her.

What a terrifying thought to walk into the valley of the shadow of death without the ‘Lord of Life’ by your side. May I ask: “When, in a split second, your life teeters on the brink, is your relationship with Jesus such that you can say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”?” 

The words of the great Hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”, bring peace and comfort:

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control:
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul.”

~ 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!

The Rising Tide

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA number of years ago, my wife and I were leading a ministry team of Asbury University students in Northern Ireland. The venue for our efforts was two sea coast towns on the northeast shore. At times, we would see fishing boats tilted on one side and resting on the bottom of the bay. Passing by at a later hour, we would notice the boats upright and floating well above the floor of the inlet. What had changed the orientation of the fishing boats? It was the tide.

Hailing from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, that was all new to me. There is not much of a tide on Squabble Creek. There is a wise saying among the people along the Irish shore: “The rising tide lifts all boats”.  That saying epitomized the reason we were there.

Northern Ireland was a troubled land at that time. The Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Unionists were literally at war. The youth to whom we were seeking to minister were deeply divided on either side of the conflict. Bombs, bullets, fights, and fires were an almost daily occurrence. Not only were many combatants dying, but numbers of innocent by-standers were also losing their lives in the fray. A sense of hatred and lawlessness pervaded this beautiful land.

How could a handful of young people have any real impact in such a hostile environment? Then a thought stirred my thinking. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Myself.” That’s why we were there. Our prayer was that by lifting Jesus up among these belligerent factions, He would draw them to Himself and then draw them together. The hearts’ desire of our ministry team was that the Prince of Peace would raise these wonderful young people above the conflict. We wanted the words of scripture to penetrate their troubled hearts:

  • How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1, NIV).
  • “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel” (Proverbs 20:3).
  • “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
  • Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:13-15).

Our team was privileged to witness the Lord lift some of the people above the bitterness and strife. In the intervening years, from then until now, much of the conflict has subsided and a sense of hope has settled. If the Lord is lifted up, He is able to do “exceeding abundantly above what we think or ask”.

“The rising tide lifts all boats.”

~ Brother Roy  

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.