LIVING LIFE BACKWARDS

My parents both enjoyed roller skating even before they were married and had me. They never dreamed their simple pleasure would be passed down to me in a big way. I remember the first time they took me skating when I was about 6 years old. The rink was big, noisy, and exciting! I was quivering with anticipation and could hardly sit still as Daddy laced up my skates. He helped me down the steps, placed my small hands on the rail, and gave me instructions to stay close to the handrail and make my way around the edge. Off Daddy flew on his skates leaving me to learn on my own. Quite the optimist and with great expectations I was very surprised when my first attempts met with a hard fall, one of many.
As I struggled along, my eyes became riveted to the center of the rink. There skaters were doing jumps, spins and figures. That’s what I wanted to do! I just knew if I could make it to that magic area in the middle of the rink I could do the same! Why not?! I began my painful, slow journey to my goal, roll, fall, get up, roll, fall, get up . . . As I plodded along, people whizzed by me on all sides. The good Lord protected me and oncoming skaters from being seriously hurt, because halfway there Daddy scooped me up and returned me to the cursed rail.
He gave me a stern lecture about not obeying him. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t want to do any rinky dinky (pardon the pun) stuff like that! I wanted to go out and do jumps and spins like the other skaters! I never considered I couldn’t do these things, to me it was just a matter of getting out there. Dad gave me a firm “no”, explaining that first I had to learn to stand up and SKATE. I was to say the least put out by his lack of understanding!
Then with a smile he said, “If you can go all the way around the rink once, I will buy you a coke.” My young, short attention span quickly diverted to the promised treat. I smiled and told Daddy it was a deal. Relieved that he had distracted my unrealistic ambition he went off to skate leaving me to keep up the end of the bargain. With all the strength my little arms could muster, I stiffened my legs, grabbed onto the rail and hand over hand pulled myself around the rink with only a few minor mishaps. As I approached my starting point I saw my Dad and hollered, “I did it!” His brow wrinkled as he said, “But you didn’t SKATE around the around the rink, you PULLED yourself around the rink!” “Yes”, I replied with my brightest smile, ‘but you didn’t say I had to skate, you just said I had to ‘go around’ and I did. Can I have my coke now?” Daddy shook his head and sighed as if I had taken advantage of our “gentleman’s” agreement. Nevertheless, he took my hand and rolled me to the snack bar. I remember contentedly sitting and drinking my coke and watching the other skaters pass by. Little did either of us know that night that a fire was lit within me. “Many years later, after 1000’s of hours of practice and 1000’s of dollars of my Daddy’s hard earned money, I did master those figures, jumps and spins, winning competitions as a competitive skater.
As a child I was trying to do everything backwards. Now being a youngster I had an excuse, but what about now? There are so many areas we as Christians attempt to do this very thing. We deceive ourselves into thinking we can do things in reverse and it will bring success. Satan is working right along with us and loving every minute of it when we put the ideas of the flesh before the wisdom of the Lord. He knows if he can perpetuate this method of thinking, that we will be caught in an unending circle of frustration and discouragement.
One of the most dangerous backwards thinking notions is concerning the lost. A person believes they cannot accept Christ as their Savior until they start living a better life. As children of God, we can see that there is no way to overcome sin without Christ living in you. Yet for the unsaved this can be a real stumbling block straight into hell. We have had people say, “Well I can’t come to church until I stop drinking (or gambling, or just fill in the blank with any sin)”. What they don’t realize is the devil will make SURE they continue to sin! For a couple of years Jerry and I witnessed to a wonderful, caring lady who was struggling with this perilous assumption. Finally one Sunday morning as she sat in tears wanting to be saved but feeling she could not, a light came on! She realized we are all unworthy and He wants us just as we are. She joyfully asked Jesus to save her and a few years later, on her death bed, she had complete joy and peace of where she would spend eternity.
2 Corinthians 6:2b “. . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
Busyness is an epidemic in the 21st Century. It not only distracts us from what is important but has turned into a common excuse for not taking care of priorities. Those trapped fail to realize it is simply Satan’s merry-go-round. A never ending circle of “have to’s” that will never end until we step off and put God’s things first. How many times has your Bible reading and time with prayer dwindled to nothing and you told yourself, “When I am not so busy, then I will start spending time with the Lord.” 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Study takes time, diligence, and daily effort. Aren’t you persistent in making sure that your children do their homework each night? It is necessary for them to learn and apply that knowledge. Don’t you make a concentrated effort to spend time with your family? Relationships require consistent attention to create communication, strong bonds, and love. Do these things not apply to God’s Word and your relationship with Him? Once again the Devil will make sure you are “always” busy!
What about your service to the Lord? The same “backward thinking” rings loud and clear here also. We will be faithful to attend church when “things slow down”. It’s the same old merry-go-round we’re just riding a different horse! How about “Well, Sunday is my only day off!” God created that day as a day of rest and to worship Him, not for our sleep and recreation!” He gave you 6 days to take care of your stuff, Sunday is His! Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Another favorite on the “do it in reverse list” concerns God’s money. Yes, His money. All we have belongs to Him and He shares generously. He allows us to keep 90% and all He asks for is 10%, a dime on every dollar. Pretty fair don’t you think? Yet only 5 percent of Christians in the U.S. tithe. The majority of churches everywhere struggle financially with numerous ones even closing their doors. All the while, God’s money sits in the pockets of many members. Prayer requests for financial blessings and help are commonly heard, yet many often wonder why God does not answer. I would venture to say most Christians want to tithe, but they are waiting until the “bills are caught up” and they are “out of debt”. They will never achieve that goal, and the will continue to battle making ends meet, because they are doing it backwards. They rob God (yes steal from Him) and the expect Him to bless them! “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8
Only when we are obedient to God will He bless us. Malachi 3:10, shows us this promise. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Lastly one of the area’s where backwards living does the most damage is in relationships. It makes for miserable marriages, unhappy families, fractured friendships, unbearable workplaces, and churches filled with discord and contention. The motto here tends to me, “Do unto me THEN I’ll do unto you.” The rational is, “When you start treating me right, I’ll treat you right. Change your attitude and I’ll change mine. Respect me, and then I will respect you. Be loving to me and then I will be loving to you.” In print here it looks ridiculous and immature doesn’t it? Yet in a huge majority of Christian lives today, it appears reasonable and logical. Well it may be to them but it is not to God!
He is our ultimate example of love and mercy. He loves us with Agape love: unselfish, sacrificial, and unconditional. It loves without reservation never considering if the one receiving of it is worthy or will respond in like manner. This is how He wants us to love, expecting nothing in return. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12. In fact, the more we love and the less it is returned, the more God is glorified. This will not only free you from bitterness, anger, and conflict, but it will allow the Lord to work through you in the lives of others in amazing ways. Expecting God to bless us when we disobey or before we obey qualifies for Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Backwards living just doesn’t work! It won’t bring our desired success. It’s God’s way or no way!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, June 2014

COTTON CANDY CHRISTIANS by Narita Roady

Growing up in Dallas, I had never been to, nor heard of, an All Night Gospel Singing, until I married and moved to Oklahoma. In the early 70′s, I had my first experience with one at the age of 18. One summer night Jerry’s boss invited us to attend one with him in Konawa. He was a distinguished businessman and always dressed in expensive 3-piece suits with ties. Immaculate and meticulous best describe his appearance at all times. Therefore, it was no surprise that night when he wore a white suit, white vest, white shirt, white tie, and white shoes.
It was a beautiful summer night; the pleasant warm breeze blew gently, as we sat in the darkness, listening to beautiful inspirational songs. During an intermission time, Mr. Zellman (name has been changed to protect the victim) offered to buy us refreshments. The child ever within me, I chose my favorite, cotton candy. We returned to our seats, and Mr. Zellman was sitting next to me sharing information about the musicians, many of whom were his friends. As I ate my cotton candy, I realize that gentle summer breeze was melting it. I made quite a mess for 18 and had my face and hands coated. Mr. Zellman, always a gentleman, offered his handkerchief, and Jerry made a valiant effort to help clean me up. With a cup of water from a concession stand and the handkerchief, I was able to make myself presentable again.
We left around 10:30 p.m. and made our way to the parking lot. We thanked Mr. Zellman for his hospitality and generosity. As we stopped under one of the street lights, Jerry and I saw something that made us freeze in our tracks . . . Mr. Zelleman’s expensive white suit was covered in a fine web of pink cotton candy!! A spider couldn’t have done a better job incasing him!
The summer breeze had not only melted my cotton candy as I so vigorously ate it, but it had blown fine strands all over his suit!! He discovered it about the same time we did. As I apologized profusely, he began a fruitless attempt to brush it off and in the process, became a sticky mess. He assured me it was okay as he stiffly walked to his car. Jerry and I stared at each other in horror, wondering if he would have a job the next day. The mess I had made was hidden as long as we sat in the dark, but as soon as we walked into the light, it was plain for all to see.
We live in a time of great darkness in America. Our lives been have customized and designed to cater our desires, rather than to honor and glorify God. Our modern way of life keeps us in spiritual darkness, rotting our souls and drawing our energy and attention from God and His ways.
The following scripture certainly characterizes the attitude some Christians display toward sin in their lives. “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.” Psalm 10:6
Too many live in a perpetual state of denial concerning their Christian walk. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
Therefore, no concern is shown for how far they have drifted from God or how deep in the shadows they wander. “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” Psalm 10:4
Even though we may fail to see the mess we are making in our lives, we are still held accountable. Christ lives in us; therefore we have no justifiable excuse (not that any ever are!) for neglecting our responsibilities to God. He makes that clear in that we have no business stumbling around in the dark. 1Thessalonians 5:5, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”
If that doesn’t convince you, read 1 Peter 2:9 and Ephesians 5:8, 11.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1 Peter 2:9
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”
Ephesians 5:8-11
God minces no words in who we are and what we should be doing!
If we continue to live in defiance to God’s will and ways, He will respond like a mother dragging a dirty, kicking, screaming child in for a much needed bath. He will bring us into His light. “For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” Luke 8:17
We have to be brutally honest with ourselves concerning our spiritual condition, and why we refuse to acknowledge God’s guidelines and plans. God knows us better than we know ourselves and gives us the answer in John 3:19b-20. “ . . .men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
As His children we have no right to choose what we do with our time and lives without including His direction. This especially holds true concerning our obligations to Him. We just have no right! “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We need to quit sitting in our churches, patting ourselves on the back, telling ourselves what fine Christians we are and what a great job we are doing for the Lord. When in reality we are just serving our own interests and desires. We’re doing nothing but lying to ourselves. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” 1 John 1:6
Any country boy or girl knows when you straddle the fence you don’t get anywhere, and you usually end up with a seat full of splinters or barbed wire! Neither is very appealing! This is no time to straddle the fence brothers and sisters in Christ!
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” Romans 13:12
Our job assignment in a nutshell is in Acts 26:18. “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
There’s only one thing left to do! Let’s all get out those spiritual hankies, some Living Water, clean up the messes in our lives, and get busy for Him!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, August 2002, and April 2014

ONCE UPON A TIME . . . by Narita Roady

When the girls were small, one of their favorite books was Green Eggs and Ham. They recited each page by memory. Oh, how wonderful they thought it would be to eat green eggs and ham for breakfast! At that time, it was a Saturday morning tradition for Dad to cook breakfast. Jerry’s menu was quite short: scrambled eggs, toast, and rarely, a slice of ham. His customers clamored for more variety.
One morning, in an attempt to satisfy, he added blue and pink food coloring to the scrambled eggs. He solemnly explained to our puzzled daughters that the blue ones would have been boy chicks and the pink ones girls. Awed by their father’s scientific genius (?), they seriously ate their gourmet spread. Unfortunately, knowing which bundle of joy each egg held was sadly too personal, so Dad went back to his original menu.
Complaints broke out afresh! This drove Chef Roady into his culinary bag of tricks once again! Soon, Dad announced a special breakfast, and to their amazement their favorite book came to life! Their dream came true; a steaming plate of green eggs and ham! They seemed a little less excited, but none the less, suitably impressed. They dutifully ate their meal. When asked their opinion, they looked up and smiled with lips, teeth, and gums glowing a ghastly green. In unison they chanted, “Very good Daddy”.
The meal took them a bit longer than usual to finish, and I think I detected a tint of green in their faces that had nothing to do with food coloring! Later, three little green mouth goblins said, “Daddy, we like the book about
green eggs and ham, but we don’t think we like to eat them, OK? “
They never had to again. For several days, each time they spoke, I felt like the mother of young lizards instead of children!
We frequently laugh at a small child’s belief in storybook fantasy. How could they believe something so ridiculous? We chalk it up to their immaturity and gullibility. Okay, what excuse do we make for ourselves as mature, wise adults when we believe Satan’s storybook ideas? Here are just a few of his myths we fall for:
1. Material Possessions Bring Happiness
2. Disobeying God Won’t Hurt Me
3. Financial Security Will Solve All My Problems
4. It Doesn’t Matter How I Treat Others, Only How They Treat Me
5. It’s Okay to Do Wrong If I Don’t Get Caught
6. I Can Watch, Listen to, and Read Anything I Want (no matter how sinful and wicked) but It Won’t Affect Me
7. Position, Praise, and Attention of Others Will Make Me Content
8. If I Just Had *(you fill in the blank)*, I Would Be Happy, And Wouldn’t Need Anything Else
9. Just This One Time Won’t Hurt
10. Leaving God Out of My Life Won’t Matter
11. My Feelings Justify How I Act and Treat Others
Need I go further? When it comes to the world, Satan lures us in the same way. We allow ourselves to be drawn into the fantasy land he weaves where evil is good, and good is evil. He twists the truth to appear that harmful choices benefit and beneficial choices harm us. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8 Do not be fooled, Satan is real and operating full speed ahead around us.
He deceives us into believing that all he offers us in obtaining our deepest desires will bring us joy, fulfillment, and contentment. Talk about a fairy tale! In Satan’s make believe land, we think the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who sees all, hears all, and knows all that is within our hearts and minds, will be unaware of our transgressions against Him and His Word! “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.” Psalms 10:4-7;11
“ The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.” Psalm 94:11
With imaginations like that, kids don’t hold a candle to us! Little ones sometimes have difficulty in discerning between truth and make believe. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
As born-again Christians, we are without excuse. Not only do we have the truth in God’s Word, but we also have the Holy Spirit to guide us if we will yield to Him
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13
Our girls learned a valuable lesson that day, but so did I. They learned that fleshly desires do not satisfy as they promise to, and appearances can be deceitful. I learned it takes green food coloring a LONG time to wear off little teeth and tongues!
Let’s make the Bible our favorite book, and its Truth, our key to a truly extraordinary life filled with wonderful things beyond our imaginations!
“But it is written, Eye hath not seen or ear heard, neither
have enterd into the heart of man, the things which God hath
prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, April 1999 and March 2014

GOD’S ROAD TRIP by Narita Roady

The New Year means different things to us each year depending on what is happening in our life. Sometimes we find it exciting and joyful because there is a new baby, marriage, a new home or a new job. Other times we find it frightening and painful because we face the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, a home, material possessions, financial disasters, an empty nest, or the loss of health. Either way, whatever our outlooks, we are all starting on a journey into the unknown. One that God Himself is sending us on. If you are reading this then you are still here and have 365 unchartered days before you. The years that start with hope and promise are, what can I say; they are wonderful! But those that begin with pain and heartache, now those are another story. Mine as you know is the latter as are many of yours for whatever trials you are facing in 2014. These are the ones I want to focus on. I am reminded of Abraham in Genesis 12:1. “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee”
God sent him on a journey and he didn’t have a clue where he was going or what he was supposed to do. He was leaving all that was familiar to him, his home, much of his possessions and his family. In Abraham’s day family meant everything. No one moved across the country to get a job. They were very close knit groups. He was saying goodbye to all that was comfortable and secure to him. This was no small task considering Abraham did this as a senior citizen! He was 75 years old! So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran” Genesis 12:4
Now you might be saying, “Yes, but he had a choice. He could say “no” to God.” He could have told God, “I don’t think so. I am too old, too tired, too set in my ways. . .” I am sure he could have come up with excuses just like all of us do. That ability originates with the “carnality package” we all come equipped with. So while to an extent, Abraham could have told God “no”. The reality is a true follower of God, you really “can’t” tell Him “no.” He went willingly with no hesitation and we should too. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:4, 27
Here we are like Abraham heading out on a journey that we have no idea where we are going, what is going to happen, and what will be expected of us. Considering the fact that we are beginning wounded from some adversity from last year can make the trip rather frightening. The unknown always is. We know “who” fear comes from yet it can still get a grip on our hearts. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
One fear we have is being alone. I understand this one well. I am 60 years old and this is the first time in my life I have ever been alone. We can be surrounded by people and still feel alone. Troubles have a way of isolating us. My Heavenly Father is not sending me on my way this year with just a pat on the head. He is coming with me every step of the way, every moment of the day. As a matter of fact He is ahead of me, as He knows every detail. The unknown is only unknown to me! “And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 He promises me no matter what I “feel” He is with me, forever.
We may fear being in financial or material need. For almost 42 years I looked to Jerry to provide for me. After his death the fear came, “Who will take care of me now?” The electrical impulses of my brain had not even finished sending the message when I realized: all I needed had always come from God, even though he worked through Jerry. God provided for us in all ways. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Matthew 6:25, 30
God is telling us, “I have you covered. Your needs will be met.” I can honestly say I have never done without what I truly need. Yes, I have done with less, much less, but never deprived of my basic needs. I think a close examination would reveal this is true for all of us.
Venturing into the unknown makes us feel vulnerable and exposed, like all the boogey bears and monsters under the bed are out to get you. I can relate to the fear of being unprotected. With Jerry by my side, I never was afraid of the noises in the night, walking in a dark parking lot, or being harmed by anyone. I knew he would always protect me, but my ultimate protection then and now comes from God. Bumps in the night that make my dog growl, need not be a concern because the Lord watches over me all through the night. “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
Where ever I go, whatever I do, He has special heavenly escorts guarding me.
“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91:11
The New Year will challenge us with new decisions and choices we must make. This can be quite intimidating. I know it is for me. There has not been one major decision since we married, that Jerry did not guide and help me with. I won’t lie; it’s been scary with just the few I have had to make thus far. “Will I make the right one? Is there anything I am overlooking? How will I know for sure what to do?” It’s very simple; all I have to do is ask God for wisdom! “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5 How wonderful that God cares about all concerns in my life, from the smallest to the largest! He longs to give me direction in every step I take, and all He asks is that I trust Him completely. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
As you enter this New Year, are you still hurting and stinging from your losses this past year? Is your heart filled with dread wondering; “What else will happen? What other heartaches will I face? What other sacrifices will I be required to make?” God’s promises can answer each and every one of our concerns.
I need not be afraid of anything the future holds.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? “ Psalm 27:1
When I do fall into fear’s vicious trap, the Lord will rescue me.
“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
Should I find myself weak and wounded from the battle, and I don’t think I can make it, the Lord will strengthen me.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
Even in the moments I succumb to the enemy’s lies and wonder if God has deserted me, leaving me to be destroyed, He assures me this cannot happen.
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6
No matter how my circumstances appear, my Heavenly Father only wants to bless me and bring about the best for me. I may not understand His ways but His plans for me are perfect.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
Is your world turned upside down right now? Mine is. But we serve a God who specializes in turning worlds right side up. We cannot check the “I do not want to participate box” as much as we would like to. He has lessons for us to learn and growth for us to accomplish. My small earthly mind cannot comprehend His purposes that fit into eternity, not this small wisp of time we call life.
In all my tears and distress, He speaks to me. (Narita) “Be still, and know that I am God:” Psalm 46:10a Great loss requires us to learn to trust Him in a greater way; many times, a way that we could never have conceived had we not lost something so dear. I know I must develop a new and even closer relationship with Him. One I never could have, had I not lost my earthly companion. I do not have the victory yet. No, I am deep in the midst of my battle now. I will not pretend. I am brokenhearted and faint. I am simply sharing my “spiritual weapons” the Lord has given me. I am fighting the good fight and I wait upon the Lord as He commands.
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
My heartfelt prayers go to each of you that have entered this New Year with devastating losses. I pray His strength and comfort for each of you, and awareness of His loving presence. He will see us through.
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, January, 2014

GOD’S QUILTING LESSON by Narita Roady

Did you know that God can quilt? I didn’t either until it was seven days before our daughter Aimee’s seventeenth birthday. Our money was tight, but I wanted a special gift. A brilliant idea struck. . .or so I thought. I would piece sachet tops, quilt them, and make a Bible cover. Each sachet would be 3” x 3” and contain nine pieces.
As Jerry figured the total sachets needed, he asked, “Are you sure you want to do this? I will take 24 of them!” I tried to hide my anxiety, and began cutting out the tiny pieces. They totaled a whopping 216! Doubt and a large lump in my chest grew.
Not helping matters, our daughter Amber said, “Mom haven’t you bitten off more than you can chew? You have only five days to make it? I gave her a menacing growl, but secretly agreed with her.
Sunday and Monday I was sick. There were still meals to prepare, laundry, ironing, and cleaning in addition to Aimee’s gift. Not to mention it had to be done without her knowing as we lived in a small 780 square foot home! As I lay in bed, I prayed the Lord would “raise” me up like He had Lazarus.
That afternoon I tackled my mountain of minuscule pieces. My head felt like Pooh Bear’s, “all stuffed with fluff.” I realized only two pieces could be sewn and pressed at a time. By 2:00 am. I felt like calling 911!
Once they were put together, the pieces swayed like the old pattern, “the drunkard’s path”. Georgia Bonesteele I wasn’t! “It looks awful!” I whined.
“It will be alright when you quilt it,” Jerry said in a tone a husband uses when he’s trying to calm a distraught wife. “Come to bed and work on it tomorrow.” Exhaustion won and I followed his advice.
The next morning, another monster loomed before me. I had to quilt 672 sides ranging from a half inch to 1 inch in length! Progress was slow; the stitches had to be very tiny, and they were looking quite awkward and uneven. This sure wasn’t what turning out to be what I had in mind!
As I worked, I remembered when Aimee was born. We pictured ourselves becoming the perfect parents. Just like my Bible cover I was making, we thought we knew things would turn out “just right”, but that isn’t how life works is it? Time forced us to view parenthood realistically, with its flaws and failures. There were so many mistakes.
We loved Aimee very much and wanted our birthday gift to be perfect to show her that love. Just like our lives with her, we never wanted to make any mistakes. We’d worked hard at teaching her God’s Word and His Ways. In spite of our errors, Aimee knew we loved her.
I realized that this Bible cover would show our love, despite all of its imperfections. I hoped the weak spots would hold. They weren’t noticeable unless I pointed them out. Just like Aimee, when she is grown. God will strengthen the weak spots from our blunders as parents and they will not be as noticeable because of Christ living through her.
I was feeling better. I finally finished the Bible cover. It was beautiful but not perfect, just like our precious daughter. I thanked the Lord for helping me, saving me, and loving me enough to overlook my imperfections. For continuing to mold me, piecing my life together and mending it each time I mess up. I was grateful for the lesson He had taught me as I made Aimee’s present. He had taken the gift I was making and turned it into a gift for me!

Earlier this month Aimee and I were going through a cedar chest and I found a Bible cover with a cross stitch she had made me years ago. I asked her about the one I wrote about and she said she still has it.
This was the second article I wrote and published in the Oklahoma Baptist in June, 1993. (The first was written as a testimony when I was 18 years old.) I did make a few small changes to the original.
I find it ironic that even though it was written 20 years ago, it was published in the same month Jerry passed away this year. In spite of my and Aimee’s “imperfections” I still see the strong thread of God’s power and love running through our lives. She continues to be a wonderful gift from God! I love you Aimee!

Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, September 2013

“WELL DONE THY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT” by Narita Roady

On June 11, 2013, at 11:59 p.m. Jerry Glenn Roady left this life and met his Lord and Savior. The man who had lived through incredible health challenges, predictions of early death and according the doctors was to be confined to a wheel chair for life; died of a kidney stone. Many would look at it as ironic or a tragedy after all he had faced, but I know without a doubt, he died of no particular cause. His death resulted in the Lord saying, “Time to come home Jerry and be with Me.”
I was reminded of when he had his first bypass surgery at the age of 25 and showed faith and courage way beyond his years. I was left to share the doctor’s dire diagnosis of a much shortened life as they could not bear to give a young man such tragic news. I sat crying and he lay in the bed very calm. I asked him, “Aren’t you afraid?” He answered, “No, because if I am to live to 80 I will live inspite of heart disease, and if I am to die at 31, I will die whether or not I have heart disease. Don’t you see? It won’t be heart disease that takes me, it will be the Lord.” His words all those years ago proved true.
Many of you have faced this same journey and understand all I am facing. It is as if I have started on a trip in the blackness of night, in a car with no headlights and I have no idea where I am going. My heart is broken and I feel as if I have been cut in half. No words can express my pain.
Yet I know it is a part of life we must all face someday. I know without a doubt it was Jerry’s time to go to his heavenly home. God never says “oops”. I know having him 5, 10, 15 or 20 more years would not have been enough and I would have been right where I am at now. Not even knowing that it was my last day or week or month with him would have helped, for there is no way we can ever give enough hugs, kisses and words of love.
I praise God for everything as He is carrying me every step of the way from the last night in ICU to right now. I feel the prayers of others. At the same time I have experienced Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
In the midst of such paralyzing sorrow, there are things I find joy in and thank the Lord with a full and grateful heart. I would like to share these with you.
1. I was the ONE blessed to have Jerry as my husband, best friend, soul mate, and pastor. My daughters were blessed to have him as their father. I never met a man so Christ like. I don’t know how many times people would comment on how they could see Christ living in and through him.
2. I had almost 41 1/2 years with him. Nothing short of a miraculous testimony of God’s mercy and love, considering at the age 25 the doctors gave him 6-8 years to live. The doctor that actually saw his heart and held it in his hands said Jerry had the heart of a 75 year old man. In his unfailing sense of humor the first time he went to the pharmacy for a prescription he asked if he could get the “senior citizen’s discount”. I have thanked God for every year, every anniversary, every birthday and I will continue to even though there will be no more.
3. Although he had many medical challenges he lived his life as a well man. He lived life to the fullest for many years without many of the physical hindrances most would experience. Yes there were difficulties and pain but in his courage he made it look simple to those around. He lived life to the fullest and enjoyed doing the things he loved.
4. I was part of an amazing ministry and knew a giant among Christians intimately. I am saddened that I will never hear another sermon or lesson or hear him pray for me, but I have all that he taught me about God and His Word in my heart. I am forever changed by the person he helped me become through his example. He truly lived what he taught and professed.
5. Jerry was happy and active up to the day before he died. He worked in the yard, moved a huge potted plant around, arranged lawn timbers for a palm garden he had laid out in the front yard and moved heavy rocks with no difficulty. He had great joy and future plans for so many things for his family, his church, and his home.
6. This one may sound strange, but I thank the Lord in how He took him. I had prayed for many years, “Lord, when you take him do not let him suffer and linger. Take him during a surgery or in his sleep. Also Lord, I know it will be you that takes him as you are the Giver and Taker of life, but as a special sign for me, don’t let his defibrillator work or something like that.”
It may have been a silly prayer to some but a sincere heartfelt one on my part. The week before he was in the ER for bronchitis and a cough, and his EKG was so normal that the doctor other than looking at his information didn’t know he had a heart condition. I cannot tell you the last time he had a normal EKG.
A couple of weeks before he died his defibrillator were checked and it was fine. On his last day in the hospital, in all the times his heart had irregular beats and stopped it never worked once, which was very puzzling to the doctors. As soon as he died it began giving discharges. For many this might be disturbing but it gave me peace. It was his time to go be with the Lord. As our daughter Aimee said, it was his time to go receive his rewards of his Heavenly Father.
7. I know he was ready to go. The Sunday before he died I had nursery duty and missed the sermon. I found it on his computer. He had preached about grief and sorrow, and how God longs to comfort us. After reading it I realized, unbeknownst to him, he was preaching it for those he would leave behind. A few weeks after his death Ashley remembered in the sermon he said, “I can say this because Narita isn’t in her; it upsets her when I say it.” ( He had said this a few months earlier in a sermon and afterwards I had told him not to be saying that!) “I am ready to go to heaven right now. I am so excited about going and seeing my Savior. The only thing holding me here now is Narita and the girls”.
I know Jerry lives on in perfection and joy with the One that created and loves him more than I ever could. I know I will see him again and live for eternity with happiness we could never have experienced here. I rejoice at what he is gained but grieve in my loss.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is difficult to express my gratitude for the out pouring of prayers, love, cards, and calls. Thank you so much to the B.M.A of Oklahoma for your support and making the transition of all the financial information. Jerry loved serving as Mission’s Director. He loved the B.M.A. of Oklahoma and so enjoyed all opportunities he had to visit with all his brothers and sisters in Christ. Please continue to pray for me and our family. I am not strong but my Lord is.
I would like to share with you the scripture the Lord led our daughter, Amber to when we were searching for a scripture for the funeral programs. I truly believe this perfectly describes Jerry, his ministry and his life.
But thou hast fully known my doctrine,
manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
Persecutions, afflictions, . . .
what persecutions I endured:
but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
2 Timothy 3:10-11

Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, August 2013

Today would have been Jerry’s 61st birthday. I wanted to wish him Happy Birthday on his first birthday in Heaven. But then I realized it is only his “would be” birthday to us. He no longer has birthdays but eternity. I can picture his smile, his laughter, his jokes ( and seriousness) about being the “birthday boy” and all the privileges (many he made up along the way LOL) that went with it. His joy at celebrating another birthday. Today I celebrate that I had him as my husband and best friend, but I cry because I miss him so much. I thank God for his life and giving him to me all those years. My tears are selfish tears for me because I know his unimaginable joy and happiness surpasses any party or gift we could give him here. I love you Sweetheart and will forever.

WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR CHURCH? PART 2 by Narita Roady

There is a story about a man that loved books and was quite knowledgeable about them.  He was visiting with a friend who told of throwing away a Bible that had been in His family for many generations.   He had found it in the attic of the old family home.  The friend explained, “I just couldn’t read it, somebody name Guten-something or another had printed it.” The lover of books gasped, “Not a Gutenberg!  Why a copy recently sold for over two million dollars!!!”

His friend just shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Nah, mine wouldn’t have sold for even a dollar.   Some guy name Martin Luther had scribbled all over it in German!”

At this point I am assuming the booklover passed out!   I do not know if this story is true but there are some similar ones from modern day that are.   In 1989, a man bought a picture frame for $4.00 at a yard sale.   Inside was a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence which he sold for over two million dollars!   In 2006, Rick Norsigian purchased two boxes of glass photograph negatives for $45.00 at a garage sale.  They were negatives of famed photographer Ansel Adams recognized as the father of modern American nature photography!  Mr. Norsigian’s checkbook will be $2,000,000 heavier!  Obviously the people that sold these items so cheaply are regretting it.   They didn’t realize their value and took them for granted!   Last month we were considering the question, “What would you do if your church closed its doors this year.”   Unconsconciouly, many take for granted their precious church homes.  Unlike these unknowing sellers, we can make sure we are not a part of our church’s demise.  Out of the  “8 major “Assasins” of the church we had looked at 3.  Here are the other 5.

4. Not supporting your pastor.   There is a very important fact many members overlook concerning their pastor and that is, “He is God’s man serving as God’s ‘under shepherd’ the office God created.”  This is not to be taken lightly.  I am not talking about a pastor that is preaching untruths or heresy. If that’s the case you need to be talking TO him, not ABOUT him.   Your pastor is a person just like you with faults and limitations, but he has been called to a huge responsibility.  98% of the time the problems someone has with their pastor has to do with personal preference rather that doctrine.  Did you know 50% of preachers starting out will quit the ministry within 5 years?  In 2011, 1,700 pastors left the ministry for good.   We should refuse to speak badly of our pastor or listen to negative gossip.  If we have a problem we need to go to him and encourage others to do the same.  Murmuring against God’s man will harm us, our family, spread discontent between others, and sow seeds of discord.  This destroys a church and certainly doesn’t entice others to come and join.

Our pastor deserves the same respect we show our doctor, lawyer or any dignitary.   In fact, a pastor’s role is more important than that of professionals because God has called him to spiritually lead and teach our families. His position carries a very heavy load of responsibility.  He will answer to God when he meets Him on how he cared for the Lord’s sheep. It isn’t about “who he is”, but “what he does.”   Remember to encourage him in word and deed.  I Thess. 5:12-13 speaks of our duty to God concerning this.  “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”  Your pastor is God’s man, don’t hinder his work.

5. Discord with other members.   Last year in all the churches across our country, over 3,500 people left the church DAILY.  The majority of these departures were due to misunderstandings, disagreements, and contentiousness of fellow members.  Not all the time are these folks purposely being unkind.  Quite often it is simply their immaturity as people and Christians in getting along with others. Sometimes they are unhappy with themselves and their lives so they take it out on those around them.  Whatever the cause, the bottom line is that they have not let the Lord do a work in their life, either through salvation or spiritual growth.” Proverbs 6:16-19, covers it all“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”

We must purpose to be peacemakers not troublemakers in our church family.  Pray and think before we speak or respond to something that we find offensive.  “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”  James 1:19
If we are offended the best thing to do is go to that person in love, but even better grow up and learn to forgive and let things go by truly learning to love each other. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”  Proverbs 10:12   How sad it would be that a petty spirit or selfish outburst caused weaker or spiritually younger Christian to leave the church.  Many never return to any church. What about those outside the church?  People have enough fighting, arguing, and bickering in their jobs and homes.  They certainly don’t want to come to what is supposed to be a place of refuge from the world and have more. “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgaven you.”  Ephesians 4:32  Being a part of your family is to follow Christ, don’t act like one of the Devil’s kids.

6. Not witnessing or visiting or inviting.  Did you know that half of all churches last year did not add one new member through salvation?  80 percent of those who attend church believe it is a personal responsibility to share their Christ, but 61 percent confess they have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the past six months.  We just celebrated Christmas and I can guarantee you one of the main subjects being discussed is what gifts were received.  A new car, a new job, a new house, a raise, a new pet, you name it if we think it has benefited us and we are rejoicing over it we share the news with others!   After all, it is good news to us!  That is all fine and good but what about us sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ?  Does this mean it isn’t something that has benefited us or we rejoice over?   Once we are saved we are COMMANDED to share the Gospel with others! “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:19

We aren’t just to witness but also invite!   It isn’t just the pastor’s job!  Not proselyting, but inviting those that don’t have a church home.   A survey showed that 48 % of church members have not invited anyone to church in 6 months!  We invite people to games, dinner, parties, etc., so why don’t we invite them to church?  We live in a free country where inviting folks to church won’t cost us our life, our home, or our family, so what’s the hindrance?  Your church cannot grow without fulfilling its purpose, winning the lost and disciplining.  The only other option is for it to die.  This isn’t about increasing numbers but changing lives! Again, visiting and inviting is a command, not an option.  “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” Luke 14:23

We will be sharing the Greatest Message, to solve mankind’s Biggest Problem, so that everyone might have the opportunity to receive the Perfect Solution, so they can be a part of the Greatest Purpose that brings glory to the Greatest King.  Now isn’t that the Greatest Work ever?  To witness and visit is a command, don’t disobey it.

7. Indifference to the needs and struggles of your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Being loved and cared for by others is universal.  We live in frantically busy times where it is easy to become focused on the little pond of our life we live in.  Most of us are so overwhelmed with just the basics of life we fall into the trap of not seeing the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of those around us.  As with marriages and parents and children, when one feels neglected, the relationship is weakened.  It becomes hard for that couple or family to grow into all they can be.  The same thing applies to the church.  For most this is not intentional, but if we loved others as we love ourselves it wouldn’t happen. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

We need to be sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Pray the Lord will open your eyes to what they are facing.  He sees everything they face.   Next we must purpose to be empathetic, considerate, compassionate, supportive, and understanding.  Respond to them as we would want others to respond to us.  This requires stepping out of our comfort zone.  When you reach out God will provide you with the resources and time to make a difference.  “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2   Caring for others is vital, don’t take it lightly.

8. Not staying where God has planted you, looking for greener pastures.  I hope before each of you joined your church you prayed about where He would want you to serve.   Wherever He leads us this is where we need to stay.  Not church hopping when something doesn’t suit us; we get mad or offended; or we grow tired of being there and want a change.  Don’t go in search of “greener pastures”, and more or better programs.   Put down roots and bloom where you are planted.  Tumble weeds have no roots they just go wherever the wind blows, much like many church members.  We must reject the idea of attending church solely for what the church can do for us.  It isn’t about us, it’s about others and Christ!  The only time to leave your church home is if God leads you or they stop preaching and teaching scriptural truth.   Countless church “transfers” have less to do with God’s will and more to do with backsliding.  When one quits focusing on Christ and working for the Lord, they grow discontented and critical.  Serving where God has placed you is a calling, don’t reject it

The pathway to a new year stands before us, unknown and untraveled. I ask you again,   “What would you do if your church closed its doors this year.”   You hold the keys. What will you do?

WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR CHURCH? Part 1 by Narita Roady

The pathway to a new year stands before us, unknown and untraveled.   We will all experience adventure, joy, sadness, and loss.    Sometimes that loss will involve regrets concerning those things we have taken for granted.  Ingratitude fueled by busyness and the lack of correct priorities will allow precious things to slip away.  The saddest part is we will not realize their value nor how important they are to us until they are gone.  Then it will be too late.  Children grow up, loved ones and friends pass away.   Even sadder is in some cases, our neglect was a major part of their demise.  Disregard  for our health and use of the finances God gave us can play a major role in losing what we thought would always be there.   Along that line of thought, let me ask you, “What would you do if your church closed its doors this year.”   After all, isn’t a strong, truth preaching, loving, biblical church something most people take for granted.   Yes, your church may have been here for 20, 30, 50 years or more but if neglected by her members she cannot remain open.

Right now in America up to 7,000 churches close their doors each year.  Many of those shouldn’t have had to die.  That may not sound like a lot but what if it was YOUR church.  Some members would be sad, some wouldn’t care, some would just find a new church home,  and some would simply look at it as an inconvenience rather than a loss.  Others would just drop out of church completely.

We are undeniably in the last days, therefore God’s work is being attacked on every side.  Our religious freedoms are being challenged and attempts made to take them away.  Even our freedom to worship is gradually dwindling.   Not all these are in our control, but how grievous when Satan is enabled to destroy a church from within.  There are 8 major “ Assassins” of the church.

1. Sporadic Attendance. Being a Christian is not a hobby, it is a relationship with Christ.  Being a church member is not optional, it is a commitment to obey the Lord and also to His church that He died for “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”   Hebrews 10:25

Where do people ever get the idea that attending services is based on mood, convenience, or if there is something else they would rather do?  The church is a family and you are important and of value whether you recognize it or not.  As members of a local body of Christ (your church) scripture compares us to the physical body. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:5

Yes we might be able to function without certain body parts, but certainly not effectively.  Over a period of time this loss will cause the health and efficiency of the body to drastically decline.  This applies to churches also.  If a school is not supported by the faithful attendance of pupils, it will have to close. If a library does not have regular patrons to check books, it will have to close.  Do you get the picture?

When members decide to lay out of service I assume they are looking at themselves as only one member.  What happens when 2 or 5 or even 10 members decide to do the same?  In a large church this might not have an impact but in a medium to small church the effect can be devastating.  Churches lose an estimated 2,765,000 people each year to secularism. Members that begin skipping 1 or 2 services are in danger of eventually leaving the church and being absorbed back into the world.  The habit develops so gradually that you don’t realize how much or how long you have missed.  Church attendance dropped from 1,606,000 in 1968 to 881,000 in 2005. I am sure it is safe to say the numbers are even greater now.   If you want your church to exist,  support it by your presence to all services.  The blessing of having a church home and the freedom to attend is a gift.  Don’t take it lightly.

2. Not supporting the church financially.  Yes this is the one everyone hates, everyone shys away from, and many get angry about.  (Well at least the ones who aren’t doing it.)  Tithing.  The word “tithe” means 10 %.  Everything we have belongs to God.  Every chair, every alarm clock, every dust bunny and every penny we own belongs to God.   All of it is on loan to us. Unfortunately many Christians look at their money according  to one of the “Toddler’s Rules of  Possession”: “If it’s in my hand it’s MINE!”   All He ask for is 10% and that adds up to only 10 cents from every dollar we earn. You have to admit that is a  pretty fair trade!  You keep 90% and He gets 10% of what is all rightfully His!   No family, business or institution can remain open without financial support.  It’s just impossible. If every customer that frequents your local grocery store began only spending $5.00 to $25.00 a week or even a month, how long would the doors stay open?   How long could you provide for your family if your boss decided to pay you what he felt like each paycheck.  “Ralph, this week your paycheck will just be $20.  I know you’ll understand, me and the wife have had some unexpected expenses and Junior wants a new X-Box.”  How long could you support your family and keep a roof over their head this way?  Does your church have heat for the winter and air-conditioning for the summer?  Is there toilet paper, hand towels, soap and running water in the bathrooms?   Is lighting provided for night services?  Who then pays for all these comforts we enjoy?  This doesn’t include many other expenses, not to mention the pastor’s salary and his need to provide for his family.  Our giving is more than just putting money in the offering plate.  Giving is another way we show the Lord we love Him. It is also an act of  obedience to God.  This obedience opens the door for Him to bless us. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”   Luke 6:38   

No I don’t mean we will turn into Donald Trump or Bill Gates, but we will ensure the opportunity for God to provide for our needs in miraculous ways.  Countless Christians have not experienced such blessings because they are afraid to step out in faith and take God up on His offer.   Non-giving members are good, loving, moral, Bible believing born again believers who would never dream of doing something unlawful, especially agianst God.  But the Bible says they are thieves. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.Malachi 3:8   Definitely a severe accusation, but it shows us how serious God views giving Him His part.    No, the Lord didn’t instigate giving to take from us or hinder us from meeting our financial obligations.  He began it to make us an intimate part of His work here on earth.  Giving is just one of His tools to help us grow in faith and learn to trust our Heavenly Father for all our needs. The opportunity to give to God is an honor, don’t neglect it.

3. Lack of involvement.   When there is little participation in any type of group, it becomes impossible for just a few to carry the responsibilities long term.  With no help the basic needs cannot be maintained, little alone the major purposes be fulfilled.  We have all experienced this at home and in the workplace.  The co-worker that doesn’t do his job so it falls on others to do his work and theirs.  What about child that refuses to do chores around the house, leaving it all to mom and dad?  Eventually everything falls apart.   The problem arises when members come and act as “guests” to be cared for rather than doing their part as a church family member.  Being involved in your church home can be accomplished in many ways.

Of course there are the ministries of the church such as teaching and serving in church offices, but we all can’t do that.   You might consider offering to be a last minute fill-in for watching nursery or teaching a class.  Volunteer nursery workers are needed all the time.   If your church does not pay someone to clean workers are always needed to help here.

It is important to be spiritually involved too.  Studying your Bible, praying for church ministries, fellow members, prayer requests and the pastor and his family.  Simply ask God to show you where He needs you to serve. I promise He will.  The chance to be involved in your church in anyway isn’t a burden, it is privilege.  Don’t waste it.

. . . . to be continued

Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, January 2013

IF CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT, WHAT’S IT GONNA DO TO YOU? by Narita Roady

The air was crisp with autumn scents and just a hint of coolness hung in the air. A rainbow of fall colors were scattered across the yard where leaves had fallen. It was the perfect afternoon for a cookout. Six couples had gathered to enjoyed hamburgers and hotdogs with all the trimmings. The coals on the barbecue had burned down and the party was preparing to fix an all-time favorite, toasted marshmallows. Long metal skewers had been passed out and everyone had their marshmallows ready to toast.

Suddenly the quite evening was pierced by the sounds of sirens. Two fire trucks sped past the house with lights flashing. To everyone’s surprise, they stopped at a home just a few houses away.

Curious about what was happening; everyone stopped their party and ran down the street. They were shocked to find a family standing in front of their burning home looking lost and helpless as everything they owned was demolished. The group stood in shock as firefighters fought to extinguish the fire. As the host couple turned to speak, they saw the bereft family glaring at them in disgust. They were completely caught off guard until they realized in the entire party stood by the blazing home, each holding their roasting stick with marshmallows on them!

I am sure the “siren chasers” never intended to offend those in trouble, but their curiosity did just that. The situation could have even been worse. Their uninvited interest could have hindered the rescue workers in their efforts and the marshmallow roasters could have been hurt or injured themselves. Either way, their unbridled inquisitiveness would have still ended with someone being hurt, emotionally or physically.

Curiosity by itself is not necessarily a bad thing but whatever we are curious about determines if it hurts us or benefits us. Curiosity is defined “as an intense desire learn or know about something and causes one to be drawn into or involved in the interest”. There is no doubt that it can lead one into dangerous situations, physically and spiritually.

I have no doubt God created us with a natural inquisitiveness because Eve possessed it before the fall. After all, her misuse of it is what got her and all of us in trouble! When God gives us an ability or characteristic, it is meant for us to use it within HIS guidelines and for His purpose. He states those rules in Romans 16:19, “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”

Satan is cornering the curiosity market in the world today. Instead of it being an avenue to gain knowledge about the Lord or worthwhile wholesome information and wisdom to improve one’s life and those around them, it has become an insatiable preoccupation to fulfill the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh. Far too many Christians are more inquisitive about worldly sin than about God and His Word.  Modern media has made it far too easy to aid such inquiring minds. Movies, documentaries, televisions shows and the internet all beckon people to learn more about deviant lifestyles, sinful pastimes, satanic followers and more. These make temptation even greater because they can be viewed in the “privacy” of one’s home, car or office, with no accountability to others or shame of being exposed.  We have no such privacy! “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.Psalm 90:8

Christians follow in the footsteps their Garden of Eden relatives, Adam and Eve, and deceive themselves into thinking God does not know! “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” . Genesis 3:9-10

If He lives in us, how can He ever NOT see what we are doing?! “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”  Hebrews 4:13

Even the 6 o’clock news is guilty feeding ungodly curiosity, by graphically displaying and reporting painful, bloody, and violent happenings in the lives of others. By chance we are convicted, Satan provides the salve of “just keeping up with local and current events”

The consequences get even worse. The Devil is getting two for the price of one. He  has a head start on destroying our children through their natural child-like curiosity. These innocent little souls have access to all the same smut as their parents. Dad and Mom lack godly standards in their own curiosity appetites so they fail to see how and where their children are being defiled. They have become insensitive to evil through repeated exposure. Failing to see it taking root in the lives of their precious offspring until it is too late and the seeds of immorality begin to sprout. To compound the problem, in the name of being a “good parent”, they give their kids internet access and cell phones with little supervision, which translates to free rein into this unlimited realm of sin. It takes time, diligence, and commitment to protect your youth by knowing what they are watching, listening to, and texting.  Countless young lives in Christian homes are being ruined by exposure to porn and other wickedness they picked up on the “information highway”.

God commands us to train our children in the way they SHOULD go. Like it or not, the fact is a large number are training them in the way they SHOULD NOT go! “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Instead of parents teaching Scripture in their home throughout the day, as Deuteronomy 11:18-19, instructs, the Devil’s has his textbook out holding classes with their children. “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”   

Years later, these same parents will shake their heads and grieve wondering what happened to their children when they had them in church faithfully and had regular family devotionals.

All things considered, we should not be surprised that modern technology is such an instrument of influence in corruption of God’s people. Just look who is in control of the airwaves that all this information comes through. It is no coincidence that our modern day communications come to us this way. Just look at who is in control of those airwaves! “. . . according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Ephesians 2:2

Misusing God’s gift of curiosity never works. As already mentioned, it did not work for Eve. Lot’s wife did not benefit from it. Maybe she too thought, “I’ll just take a quick peek and no one will know!” “And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:17-26

No matter how “grown-up and adult” we think, we are, there are things we should not look at, listen to, think about, or read. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:11

Looking leads to thinking and thinking leads to doing. Ignoring God’s principles for our curiosity corrupts our spirit, harms our lives, and disrupts our fellowship with our Heavenly Father.  The old adage, “Curiosity killed the cat”, can apply to Christians too!

Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, November 2012

Mr. Christmas by Narita Roady

In Wilshire England there is an electrician named Andy Park who is known to many as Mr. Christmas. He claims that he loves Christmas more than anyone and has been true to his word by celebrating it every day for the last 19 years. In 1993 after suffering from bouts of depression, he decided it was up to him to choose to be happy and not let stress rule his life. Remembering how good he felt during the Christmas season, he decided he would celebrate Christmas every day. He unboxed all his decorations, adorned his house, and make it Christmas from that day forward.
Every morning he wakes up and eats 6 to 7 mince tarts. He opens presents he has purchased and wrapped for himself the night before, pretending he hasn’t a clue what is in them. One year he even bought himself a Mercedes! This is one way to make sure you always get the gifts you want! Next, he lovingly looks at the Christmas card he signed especially for him, from him (sometimes 2 or 3 cards)! Of course he hand delivers it to save on postage by walking out the door, putting it through his mail slot, going back inside and picking it up. What a substantial savings that is considering the last total in 2008 was 235,206 cards!
Then it is off to work for about three hours (after all someone has to pay for all of this!) and back home for a complete Christmas dinner. This includes watching the Queen’s Christmas Day address to the nation. (Recorded from the previous year of course!)
All this holiday cheer has cost him a whopping $500,000. He has consumed 6,622 turkeys, 34,276 roasted potatoes, 117,600 Brussels sprouts, over 6660 pints of gravy, over 30.660 stuffing balls, and 94,080 mince pies, in addition to numerous carrots and peas. He has also popped more than 204,400 Christmas cracker favors, worn out 37 electric ovens, and 23 video recorders.
After going over through over 30 Christmas trees, his present one of two years has proven to be his . . .uh. . . favorite. He has decided he wants to marry it! A beautiful ring has even been purchased but he is in a dilemma as to which branch to place it on. Do not wait for a nuptial announcement yet because he is having difficulties finding a minister to marry them! (In this day and age, I find that hard to believe) Oh, one more thing, the ONLY day Andy Park does not celebrate Christmas is . . . Christmas Day! Before we shake our heads too hard at Mr. Christmas, I think we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and make sure we do not share some of his misguided thinking. You have to admit in America today that Christ certainly is not the center of Christmas anymore, even among Christians. More important are we guilty of replacing Him too?
Did you find it ironic that the only day Mr. Park did not celebrate Christmas was Christmas Day? I did! Yet the more I thought about it the more I realized our offense is just the opposite. We claim to celebrate the birth of Jesus on JUST that day but we forget about Him the rest of the year! As born again believers God’s gift of His son is something to be thankful for everyday! Not only the gift of salvation and our deliverance from Hell, but His abiding presence in our lives 24 hours a day. To name just a few, He protects, guides, heals, comforts, nurtures, and gives joy to us non-stop. We also should be rejoicing for the beautiful home in Heaven we already have. The Babe in a manger should be our focus from January 1 to December 31 every year. “ Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
The most obvious flaw in Mr. Park’s daily festivities is that his focus is on the rituals and details of the holiday, not the One the holiday is supposed to honor. He’s all about the baubles, decorations, sparkle, and glitz. We too easily fall into this worldly trap ourselves. How many times do people get stressed out about getting the tree up and decorated, hanging lights on the house, putting the wreath on the door, making sure treasured family nativities, bowls and candles are in the perfect spot? That’s only beginning. Following fast on the heels of “decking the halls” is the food; the frenzy of baking cookies, breads, candies, and cakes. Frantic plans for the perfect Christmas meal are included with emphasis on old family recipes and traditional favorites. Now don’t get your lights all in a tangle, I am not in any way saying these activities are wrong. I am simply asking what is your spirit and motivation behind them. Is it glorifying and delighting in our precious Savior? Most of the time you would have to say it isn’t. Do you see how we really aren’t that different from Mr. Christmas?
We become as the seed that was sown among the thorns in Mark 4:18-19.
And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
Busyness preparing for December 25th consumes us and like the keeper at the in Inn that faithful night so many years ago, and we unknowingly turn Christ away. We tell Him by our actions that we have no room for Him in our hearts or homes during Christmas. Just like Mr. Parker we have missed the Reason of our celebration. Casting aside Jesus who is truly important, we pursue that which is pointless, meaningless, and worthless. Like Martha we are “careful and troubled about many things” and have failed to follow Mary’s example and chosen what is good cannot be taken away. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:41-42
Did you notice who Mr. Christmas’s daily celebration is about? Him! He is incredibly selfish. It is all about what he wants and how he feels, so there really isn’t any room for anyone else. You might be thinking, “Not me! I’m not selfish! Everything I do is for my family!” Is it now? If we are over 25 years old, it is true that we may not be concerned about what gifts we receive, but isn’t it still about us? Aren’t we trying to create emotional, sentimental feelings and attempting to fulfill our expectations of how our holiday should be? Yes, we want to give to your family, and make them happy, but are they not an extension of ourselves? We desire to give material gifts they want, but not the real Gift, the One they really need.
Can we do both, make Christ the center of our holiday and take part in traditional celebration? Yes, I believe we can, but it will take effort and focus on our part. Always the first step we should take in any matter is prayer. Ask the Lord to protect you from being ensnared society’s Christless Christmas. Seek His guidance in how He would have you honor Him. Make it a point to read your Bible daily, alone and with your family. There are many good devotional books and daily Bible readings for Christmas. You might even want to do a word study on “gifts” or “giving”. As you shop, cook and decorate, thank Him for the blessing to be able to do these things financially and physically. Consult Him before you purchase gifts and supplies that He would guide you in spending His money wisely. Make sure you don’t rob Him of His tithe to purchase expensive gifts your family doesn’t really need. That makes no sense to steal from Him to celebrate His birth does it? Listen to Christmas hymns that focus on Him and His glory, not carnal secular holiday tunes. When you find yourself becoming stressed and frazzled at all, you think you must do, be like Mary and take time to sit at His feet and listen to Him. If you let Him, He can help you weed out all those unnecessary things you feel you must do. Make sure you purpose to share Him with others. You can do this with a smile, an act of kindness, patience in stressful moments, a caring word or fulfilling a need. The most important way to share Him is by witnessing to others. Ask Him to send you those who are searching for Him. Is there someone He has laid on your heart to speak to this year and you have put it off? Go to them and share the gift of eternal life that He has given you. I can share a few ways, but don’t stop with mine, ask God how to show you how what would please Him.
After the last tissue paper and bow is thrown away and the tree is taken down, let’s all remember to celebrate Him in word and truth the next 364 days of the year too! Every day is Christ’s day!
Merry Christmas and God Bless Each of You!

Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, December 2012