The Lift

boatliftMany of the waterfront houses on Dauphin Island, Alabama, as well as numerous other places along U.S. shorelines have their own boat docks. Fishing and recreational boats are then available for use just a few yards away. A person cannot help but notice that the boats are on boatlifts that raise them well above the water level.

The boats are not left for extended periods of time at rest in the water. Shallow waters are a prime location for small marine creatures called ‘barnacles’.  These creatures will attach themselves to the hulls of boats below the water line. They can soon cover the bottom of a boat. The buildup of these ‘bio-foulers’ leads to greatly increased drag when the boat moves through the water. They dramatically reduce the efficiency of the boat in both speed and fuel. The barnacles cement themselves to the hull of vessels with one of the strongest adhesives occurring in nature. It is a very labor intense and costly process to have them removed. Failure to deal with the problem can be disastrous.

barnacles

Barnacles

In the spiritual realm, we need to be lifted out of sin-polluted waters that surround us. What God created in the beginning was good, but the devastation of disobedience and the ‘fall’ left our world fraught with danger. The seas of our lives contain many soul-foulers. Jesus is the one who can lift us above the destructive forces that surround us.

How beautiful are the words of the old hymn “Love Lifted Me” by James Rowe: “He can lift you by His love out of the angry waves.”  Charles Gabriel echoes this same theme in his hymn, “He Lifted Me”:

Now on a higher plane I dwell,
and with my soul I know ’tis well;
yet how or why, I cannot tell,
He should have lifted me.

Are the cares of this world dragging you down? Do you need a lift? Turn to Jesus with a sincere heart. Repent and believe and He will lift you up.

Prayer: Lord, this day lift me out of the angry waves of this troubled world. Please lift me above the things that would foul my soul.

~ Brother Roy

Footprints

footprints

There have been numerous poems and devotionals written about footprints in the sand. The saying “familiarity breeds contempt” comes close to describing my reaction to another footprint narrative. Yet, a recent walk on the beach changed that for me. Although I have walked barefoot on the beach more times than I could count, this time it was somehow different.

I looked back at the footprints I had made in the soft, wet sand. Before I could take a moment for reflection, a wave came in and dissolved the sand around where I had stepped. The footprints were gone. Perhaps it’s my advanced age, but a sense of melancholy crept in. I have walked many years across the ‘sands of time’, serving as preacher, missionary, public school teacher, and university professor. I have encountered many impressionable lives on my journey.

There on the beach, I started to wonder, “Have the footprints that my life has made also been erased soon after I’ve passed by”? What a disturbing thought! Have I left any permanent imprints on the myriad of lives that I’ve encountered?

Upon reflection, I began to take courage as I recalled the numerous people who made lasting impressions on my life. Their influences for God and good have helped shape the person I am today. The remembrance of the kindness and consideration that have been extended to me brought a wave of thankfulness and joy.

That day on the shore, I deepened my resolve. I want to be for someone else, the caring person that others have been for me. Physical footprints in earth’s sand may soon wash away, but spiritual footprints in the lives of others are eternal. I want to leave footprints such as  “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…but above all things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” (Colossians 3:12-15, NKJV).

I wholeheartedly agree with the statement of C.T. Studd, the great missionary hero: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

A LIFE LIVED FOR CHRIST WILL LEAVE A LASTING IMPRESSION

~ Brother Roy

Widow or Whydah: A Study in Contrasts

whydahChristians around the world know the Biblical account of “The Widow”. Jesus, in Luke’s Gospel, immortalizes her. “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.  So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had” (Luke 21:2-4).

The widow understood that her security, provision, and well-being was to be found in her Heavenly Father. Following Jesus’ teachings, she cared deeply about the needs of others. Humbly, she moved among the temple’s shadows and cast everything she had into the treasury.

Now, for a study of contrasts. In South Africa there is a small songbird called a Whydah (usually pronounced widow) Bird. They have a conspicuous pennant-like tail more than twice the length their body. Their long dark tails suggest a funeral veil, thus the corruption from ‘whydah’ to ‘widow’. A sharper contrast in action and nature cannot be drawn than between the widow and the whydah.

Whydahs are very aggressive and territorial. They are quarrelsome and may be quite belligerent towards other birds.  Whydahs are blitzkrieg specialists. Hovering and darting, they unleash lighting-fast attacks on other birds, driving them away from their territory and food supply. The species is also a brood parasite, which lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. Typically, 2-4 eggs are added to those already present in a nest. The eggs of both the host and whydah look much the same. Both are white, although the whydahs are slightly larger. After hatching, whydahs mimic the feeding habits of the host fledglings and take food away from them.

There are people who possess the grace and nature of the widow. They are humble and kindhearted. They are selfless and love their neighbors as themselves. Someday they will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:25 NKJV).

In contrast, there are those who demonstrate the attitude and actions of the Whydah. They are at times belligerent, aggressive, or, at best, self-serving. The virtue of humility has escaped them. Self-centeredness and greed reflect their nature. This is the type of person that will be turned away at judgment.

Are You Like The Widow or The Whydah?

~ Brother Roy

Penny for a Blind Man

blind-beggarDuring my devotional time, I was reading the familiar account of blind Bartimaeus’s encounter with Jesus (Mark 10:46-52). I pictured in my mind’s eye the blind man sitting by the roadside, begging. I could almost hear his cry, “Penny for the blind man. Does anyone have a penny for the blind man?” Knowing the account well, I thought, this is surely going to be a better day than Bartimaeus expects. On that day, the road was filled with travelers going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover. They would likely be in a charitable mood. Jesus was in the crowd of travelers. As Jesus was leaving Jericho heading for Jerusalem, He passed by the spot where Bartimaeus was begging. Even with the reality of His impending death in Jerusalem weighing on His mind, the Savior took time to minister to and give help to the blind man.

The scene touched my heart once again. I thought, as believers we also travel the roadways of life.  We pass by many lost, hopeless people who have been blinded by sin. Wounded and disillusioned by the “pleasures of sin” and destructive self-pleasing, they long for something better. They look to us as followers of Christ for compassion and help. In their own way, they are crying out like Bartimaeus for assistance!

Jesus said, “He that hath ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9 & 43, NKJV). Do we hear the cries of sin-blinded people crying out to us? They are all along the roadways of life that we travel. For their sakes and for Christ’s sake, will we hear and respond as the Holy Spirit directs? Jesus has no hands but our hands to reach out and lift up a broken soul. He has no feet but our feet to walk to where the sightless of our day cry out, “Penny for the blind man.”  May we respond to those who need our help as Peter did: Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give you’” (Acts 3:6).  We have the message that the spiritually blind need to hear.  We can point them to Christ who can heal their blindness.

Lord, help me hear what Philip heard so long ago:
“Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?” (John 12:21).

~ Brother Roy

 

Do’s and Don’ts

dennis-2Recently, I saw a cartoon of Dennis the Menace. He was setting in a corner with a frown. His mother was telling his father, “He knows his DOs, but he needs to work on his DON’Ts”.  That seems to often be the way with many of us.

The following scripture comes to my mind:

  • Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good” (Romans 12:9). The King James Version uses particularly strong language: “Let love be without dissimulation. Cleave to that which is good, abhor that which is evil.”

I think most of us would receive an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ for a grade on ‘cleaving to the good’. However, we would likely get a ‘D’ or even an‘F’ on abhorring the evil. We just don’t like confrontation. There are aware of many things around us that are wrong, but we hesitate to stand up against them. The enemy of our soul whispers things to us like:

  • Who are you to judge?
  • It’s not your problem.
  • Don’t get involved.
  • It’s not your job to try to right everything that’s wrong.

An old adage still rings true: “All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Today, certainly we should do good to everyone as opportunities arise. But, we must also be determined to resist evil and take an active stand against things that are wrong. It goes without saying that our reference on good and evil is God’s Word.

WE KNOW OUR DO’s, BUT OUR DON’Ts OFTEN NEED WORK

~ Brother Roy

Stairway to Heaven: A Parable

Stairway-to-HeavenLet me share a parable to illustrate my thoughts about the way to heaven. Picture in your mind’s eye a long staircase – at the top is the gate of heaven, at the bottom is the entrance to hell. Then, consider the ‘Fall of Man’ as recorded in Genesis 3. The result:

  • “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
  • “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17)

Because of man’s inherited ‘fallen nature’, we are born on a staircase halfway between heaven and hell. Our bent to sin draws us downward. However, if we are willing to receive God’s provision of grace and righteous, we can change our direction from downward descent to upward ascent. The turn around is referred to as being ‘born again’.

This experience does not move us automatically to the top of the staircase. It turns us around on the step where we stand, but with a new direction. It is then an upward climb of obedience and faith. Since we started a long way down, we have a long climb ahead. Johnson Oatman’s wonderful hymn, “Higher Ground”, expresses my thoughts beautifully:

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till Heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

~ Brother Roy