Peg Leg

Peg Leg

Deteriorating knee joints have forced me to use a cane. The thump, thump, thump as I walk across some surfaces is annoying. Recently, I was preaching Taylor County Camp Meeting in Butler, Georgia. It is a wonderful camp and I am always delighted when invited to serve as one of the evangelists. The wooden platform at the camp seemed to amplify the sound as I walked across to the pulpit.

As I passed the pianist/song leader, I said to her, “I wish the devil had a peg leg! It would make it hard for him to slip up on people”. The thumping sound would alert people of his presence. The next evening the song leader played and sang, to the delight of the congregation, a humorous song titled “I Wish the Devil Had a Peg Leg”.

From the beginning, we have been apprised of the devil’s presence. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1).  From man’s first encounter with the devil, he has been man’s arch enemy. From day one, he has delighted in sneaking up on the person not paying attention. His tactics have been lying promises, deceit, slandering the saints, twisting scripture, and disguising himself as an angel of light. 

Since the devil does not have a peg leg, we must heed the great Biblical admonition in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.”  We have not been left defenseless against our cunning foe. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).  Verses 12 through 17 in that Ephesians passage carefully lay out the whole armor of God. The book of James provides additional advice: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).  We also have the powerful example of Jesus when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). He led the way in dealing with the devil. He did not ask us to do what He Himself didn’t do.

Don’t let the devil sneak up on you!

~ Brother Roy

The Tower of Babel – KSV (Kya Sands Version)

miss sue babel

Miss Sue helps a Kya Sands child build his “Tower of Babel”

The Genesis account of the Tower of Babel is one of the best known of the ancient records of God’s early interaction with man. The lessons in this account are many and varied. I’ve often studied the scripture and the interpretations of numerous respected Bible commentators on this complex passage. If some of you, like me, have struggled with this account, you can imagine my interest in what I recently heard in Kya Sands Squatter Camp.  This sprawling slum is on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa.  I had the privilege of leading a NHIM mission team of young adults to Kya.

My daughter lives in South Africa and was the in-country leader of the NHIM team. They worked alongside a group of dedicated women who minister in Kya on a regular basis. Their ministry focuses primarily on small children from about three to six years old. They were following a scriptural model of Jesus:  “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God’  (Luke 18:15-17, ESV).

Many of the 11 recognized languages of South Africa (plus languages from several other countries) are spoken by the various groups who reside in Kya. This often leads to confusion. Pearl, one of the ladies on the ministry team, is a black South African who speaks Zulu, English, and several other tribal languages. She communicates with the children and with adult helpers in Zulu, because it is the dominant language. Many of the other languages are derivatives of Zulu.

NHIM team members with Kya Sands children

NHIM team members with Kya Sands children

I was fascinated by the way she approached the challenging account of Babel with the children. Again, following the pattern of Jesus, Pearl began the lesson with a story. (Jesus used stories to tell all these things to the people. He always used stories to teach people,” Matthew 13:34, ICB). Utilizing other time-tested learning principles, she moved from the concrete to the abstract and also utilized hands-on experiences. The children were each given a paper plate which held several marshmallows and thin wafers. Alternately using a wafer and a marshmallow, the children were asked to build a tower as high as they could. The children excitedly began to build. They seemed determined to reach the sky. Some succeeded in getting four or five tiers high before their tower fell.

The children learned lessons from the Biblical account. And I enjoyed a marvelous review:

  • There are no short cuts to heaven. There is only one way to the Father.
  • There is no other foundation than Jesus upon which we can build our lives.
  • The inability to understand others leads to confusion, hostility, and division.
  • God takes a personal interest in what we are doing.
  • It is foolish to leave God out of our plans for the future.
  • When people are motivated by pride and arrogance, when they want to ‘make a name for themselves’, they invite disaster.

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  (Luke 18:17 ESV)

~ Brother Roy

Black Ice

Black Ice1 Corinthians 10:12 – “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”. 

The winters in Kentucky can be very unpredictable. Because of this fact, I turned on the weather channel on a for quick report before heading out the door. It was cold, but there was no overnight snow, for which I was thankful. I walked to the car and lifted up the door handle. I guess the slight shift in weight was all it took! My feet shot out from under me and in the blink of an eye I was on the ground. Black Ice.

Black ice can form when a light rain falls on pavement that’s colder than 32 degrees, or when roads are wet and the temperature plummets toward freezing. Black ice refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface. While not truly black, it is virtually transparent allowing black asphalt roadways or the surface below to be seen through it—hence the term “black ice”.

From this situation, I want to draw a life lesson. While I heard the broadcast warning of black ice, I didn’t really listen. Looking at the pavement beside my car, I didn’t really see the ice. Jesus spoke to this issue in Matthew 13:14. Quoting Isaiah, He said, “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand. And seeing you will see and not perceive.” That was me! I just didn’t pay careful attention to what I heard and saw.

I have had experiences in my spiritual life which parallel the black ice situation. By the Lord’s mercy, I have been alerted to potentially dangerous conditions. Sometimes the words of caution come from a small voice inside, other times from a sermon or advice from a Christian friend. Most often, the counsel comes from scripture. That makes morning devotions especially helpful before rushing out to face the day. However, if the gracious cautions of the Lord are not utilized, we suffer the consequences.

The question is not so much, is the Lord speaking, but are we truly listening. You’ve heard it said, “There are none so blind as those that will not see”. Contrary to common belief, this is not a quote from the Bible. It’s a proverbial English saying, that echoes the truth of scripture. The words are worth remembering. The Lord’s cautions are of no avail if we will not see. However, for believers who walk in His light, Jesus said, “But blessed are your eyes for they shall see, and your ears for they hear” (Matt. 13:16 NKJ). 

Watch out for Black Ice!

~ Brother Roy

Are You Too Busy?

sorry_were_too_busy_graphic1The parables in scripture hold a special place in my spiritual development. While we usually think of parables in connection with the teaching of Jesus, there are other parables in scripture that can also inform the spirit. One in particular, found in I Kings, has spoken to me in a compelling manner.  “So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” Then he hurried to take the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.  And he said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people” (1 Kings 20:38-43 ESV). 

The phrase I want to call to attention to is, “And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone”. Being busy and doing the task assigned to us can be miles apart. Too many religious folks equate being busy in the church with doing the will of the Lord. No so!  Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord’, have we not prophesized in Your Name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJ). 

Our charge is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. His will must be our highest priority – anything less is just ‘busyness’. Charles Swindoll says, “We are often so caught up in our activities that we tend to worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” Even as the man in the parable lost his life by being too busy to keep his primary charge, so we can lose our souls while all the time being busy doing “stuff”, even religious “stuff”.

Prayer: Lord Help Me Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing!
May I Never Be So Busy That I Fail To Do Your Will. 

~ Brother Roy

Back to the Future

back to the futureThe movie ‘Back To The Future’ was a blockbuster movie of a generation ago. It still has a following and resurfaces in the media from time to time. The title of the movie jogged my thinking as 2015 passed into 2016. I have a strategy for the New Year – it is called the ‘Back to the Future’ approach.

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, a scholar well-versed in Old Testament Hebrew, spoke to a gathering of which I was a part. He related insights about the Hebrew mindset concerning the future. He shared that there was an ancient Hebrew concept that a person walks backward into the future. A person is not able to see the future, but can clearly see the past. A rearview look at God’s faithfulness in days past can give a person confidence to move into the future. Because He has always been faithful, we have no reason to think He will not be faithful tomorrow.

There are numerous scriptures that could be mentioned to encourage us to look at what God has done in the past as a guide to the future. Allow me to share just a few:

  • Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:2)
  • Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. (1 Chronicles 16:12)
  • Remember his marvelous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth.  (Psalm 105:5)

The beloved hymn ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’ by Thomas Chisholm gives us great confidence to move into the future:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions – they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow –
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hands hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Prayer For The New Year: Lord, as I move into the future that I cannot see, help me to clearly see that Your presence has always been with me in the past. I will then confidently move into tomorrow trusting You.

~Brother Roy

The Sin of Indifference

apathySome time ago, I heard a person, ‘tongue-in-cheek’, say, “The whole world is apathetic, but then who cares.” The phrase is a sad commentary about where many of us are in relationship to our fellowman. I can’t help but ask, “Have we become so self-centered that we are indifferent to the needs of those around us?”  If so, it is an eternally fatal flaw.

It has been said that when we realize our time is short, our last words are often the most important things we say. Jesus gave us a compelling teaching in the final days of His earthly ministry. While everything Jesus said was of utmost importance, these words take on a special importance because they were among His last.  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:41-46, ESV).

Let me share stirring quote by George Bernard Shaw: “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” This quote underscores the deadly nature of the sin of indifference that Jesus pointed out in Matthew 25.  The Book of James adds more weight to our understanding about the sin of indifference: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17, ESV). We are all aware of the wages of sin. Failure to love our neighbors and not reach out those in need is not a suggestion from Jesus – it is a commandment.

When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Matthew 12:29-31). Indifference toward the Lord or our neighbors is not an option!

We must not allow ourselves to become calloused and indifferent to the needs of those who are often overlooked or ignored. Jesus says, “That is Me.” When we fail to reach out to the ‘least of these’, we withhold our helping hand from Jesus.

‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me”

~ Brother Roy

Christmas Bells

Church bellsA recent knee replacement accompanied with unexpected complications has greatly restricted my movements. Hours of elevating and icing my knee have left me with abundant time for daytime TV viewing. Much of that time has been spent watching cable news. For me, the Christmas Season has been ushered in by reports of terrorist attacks internationally and here at home. News of beheadings and the slaughter of innocents crackle across the airwaves. There are wars raging in the Middle East, Ukraine, and Afghanistan. There have been three hundred fifty-seven mass shootings (4 or more killed) in U.S. this year.

My heart became deeply distressed. A dark shroud hung over the beautiful message of Christmas. The news each day seemed to mitigate against the joy that should accompany the birth of “The Peace of Peace”. Perhaps you have had similar feelings?

May I share a Christmas carol that has helped me regain a right prospective? Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words to the poem “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” on Dec. 25, 1864. The poem gave birth to the carol bearing the same name:

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet, the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime of
Peace on Earth, Good-will To Men!”

~ Brother Roy