Before You Were Born

before-you-were-bornA little boy stared into his mother’s eyes and asked, “How did you know my name was Timmy when I was born?”. That line appeared in a cartoon in our local newspaper. It triggered these thoughts for me. I believe God is ‘omniscient’ – all knowing. He knew me before I was born. God’s word says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:16, NLT). How amazing to think that of the several billion people on earth, God knows me. He can call me by name.

The Psalmist states, “He counts the stars. He calls them all by name” (Psalm 147:4).

Wow! Think about it. Scientists estimate there are anywhere from 100-400 billion stars in our galaxy. With the aid of the Hubble Telescope that now orbits the earth, scientists have estimated there are over 2 trillion galaxies the size of ours. It is mind numbing to consider that He calls all the stars by name.

Not only does God call the stars by name, but He can call us by name. Scripture has many examples of God calling individual people by their name, starting with Adam (Genesis 3:9), on to Hagar (Genesis 21:17), and then God says to Moses, “I know thee by name(Exodus 33:17). Again and again, the Father calls people by their name.

How wonderful to know that the Lord knows me, knows my name, and loves me. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!(Psalm 139:6).

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.

~ Brother Roy

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Light: A Powerful Disinfectant

uv-light“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)

Light is a powerful disinfectant. For more than a hundred years medical science has known of the incredible disinfecting strength of light, especially ultraviolet wavelengths. Bacteria and other bio-contaminates often thrive in an absence of bright light. These infection-causing pathogens yield to the antiseptic power of light.

In our spiritual lives, there is a corresponding or analogous principal. The light of Christ can cleanse us from the sin and contamination we encounter in the world around us. Scripture teaches us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, ESV).  Exposure to the Light that comes from reading God’s word, from listening to gospel preaching, and from fellowship with other believers all act as disinfectants for our souls.

  • “This is the message we have heard from Him, and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses (keeps on cleansing us) from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7, ESV)
  • The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall(Psalm 27:1-2, ESV)

Come to the Light, it’s shining for thee.
Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see.
The Light of the world is Jesus.
(Philip Bliss)

~ Brother Roy

Self-Esteem or Delusion

selfieAs I get older, I find it increasingly difficult to keep up with trends, fads, and even vocabulary. I find myself floundering in a sea of jargon like ‘selfies’ and other euphemistic terms for narcissistic traits. So many people seem to find it necessary to constantly take pictures of themselves in various poses and situations then post them on social media. Is it that they have such low self-esteem that this ‘selfie’ stuff artificially boosts their confidence and egos?

As an old timer, I still enjoy the ‘comics’ in my local printed newspaper. This recent cartoon panel featured a radio talk show host responding to a caller in a manner that certainly resonated with me:

delusion self esteem

What a truism this is, “Delusion is the new self-esteem.”

While a selfie taken with a smart phone is a relatively new phenomenon, narcissism is as old as self-absorbed people have been around. How sad! Scripture speaks to this preoccupation with self, ‘For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3, NKJV). The Greek word huperphroneó used here by Paul means to be overly proud, to have high thoughts.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
(Philippians 2:3)

~ Brother Roy

The Big Guns

cannonThe dawn’s early light illuminates huge cannon placements atop the walls of old Fort Gains on Dauphin Island, Alabama. For more than one hundred and fifty years these great weapons have threatened intruders into Mobile Bay. I wonder if you, like me, have ever felt like the enemy of your soul has his BIG guns targeting you? There are times the Devil shoots his “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:16) at you, but there are other times it seems he levels the big guns against you. The darts may sting and even inflict painful injury, but the heavy artillery can mortally wound.

In World War I, the opposing forces engaged in “trench warfare”. It wasn’t until you came out of your trench and started advancing into the enemy’s territory that he would really open up and let you have it with his big guns! It is when we follow the Lord’s directive to take up our cross and follow Him that we will likely face the withering fire from Satan’s big guns. Because of this devilish strategy, too many want to stay in what they think is the relative safety of their trench.

It is good to know that we are not defenseless in the spiritual warfare we are engaged in. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:12-13, KJV). Thank God for His armor and His promises.

There is an old adage that says, “The best defense is a good offense.” I think that is especially true in spiritual warfare. The great missionary solider of the cross, C.T. Studd is quoted as saying, “Some want to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell (safely in a trench). I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell (on the offensive).”

I believe the most dangerous place for a Christian to be is in the trenches, disregarding the marching orders of the Lord. I affirm the words of the great old hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers”:

Onward Christian solders, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

The only way the Devil can defeat us is if we surrender or become entrenched in a state of spiritual immobility! If we keep fighting and pressing the battle, we can’t lose! We need to keep advancing, protected by the whole armor of God and holding on to God’s promises. If we do, we will win!

FORWARD! NO RETREAT, NO RESERVE, NO REGRETS!

~ Brother Roy

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