God’s CPAP

cpapSome years ago, I was experiencing serious health issues. Over a period of months I had suffered several Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA’s), sometimes called “mini-strokes”. Eventually, I had an acute stroke before the doctors diagnosed the root cause. I was suffering severe Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. For me, low oxygen levels and high blood pressure were the results.

The remedy was a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. It is a medical device that uses room air delivered through a mask system to keep the airway open for the person using the machine. A CPAP is used to treat obstructive sleep apnea by preventing the airway from collapsing on itself during times of sleep. I have been on CPAP for a number of years now and have not suffered any TIA’s or strokes since I started using the machine.

Many people experience great difficulty in adjusting to the CPAP. This is due in part to the constant pressure blowing into the nostrils, wearing a mask, and the hum of the machine. I was so convinced that the machine could likely save my live that I adjusted in a relative short period of time. I’ve carried my trusty CPAP everywhere. It has been in camp meetings, revivals, and mission conferences across the U.S. and around the world. I have used a variety of adaptors to adjust to various electrical currents.  I have even run it on a car battery in the bush of east Africa. I find great comfort hearing the soft  ‘white noise’ of my machine. I rest secure without worrying about stoppages in my breathing.

I wonder how many people suffer from a type of ‘spiritual apnea’? They experience interruptions, even stoppages, in the flow of God’s presence and power into their lives. At times, debilitating spiritual weakness and a sense that there are obstructions blocking the life-giving breath from God are experienced. These things are symptomatic of spiritual apnea. What is needed is Continuous Positive Spiritual Airway Pressure (CPSAP) to keep the flow of God’s power and grace into our spiritual bodies. At first, building the habits and disciplines into our lives that can make this happen may seem difficult. But, once we realize that our spiritual well-being is dependent on the free flow of His spirit into us, we can make the necessary adjustments.

What would spiritual CPAP look like? My thoughts are as follows;

  • (C) The process starts with the idea of ‘CONSTANT’. Our relationship with the Lord must be steady and continuous. It is an everyday essential.
  • (P) Next, the concept of ‘POSITIVE’ comes to bear. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Negative thoughts and attitudes grieve the Holy Spirit.
  • (A) Spiritual AIRWAYS are the channels the Lord uses to gain entrance into our spiritual lives. Devotions, listening to gospel preaching, Bible study, and Christian fellowship are a few of the airways to the soul.
  • (P) The deep desire to please Him provides the right kind of PRESSURE to keep us growing and maturing in the faith.

Breathe on me, Breath of God, Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love, And do what Thou wouldst do.
(Edwin Hatch)

~ Brother Roy

Fog

fogMany early mornings on Dauphin Island, I’ve walked out on the deck to find the entire area enveloped in fog. At times the fog is so thick that it obscures the familiar landmarks from view. Because of limited visibility, driving can be hazardous. Traffic on the waterways can be especially risky.  However, all along the coastline from Mobile to Bayou La Batre, people are familiar with the coastal fog and used to dealing with it.

I am not an expert on fog, but let me share a few things I do know. I know with heavy fog, you can walk through it, talk through it, throw a rock through it, but you can’t see through it. It can conceal things that are right before us.  On Dauphin, I am accustomed to looking across the bay and seeing the bridge that connects the Island to the mainland. When heavy fog comes in, it is impossible to see this vital lifeline connector. Even though I know the causeway and bridge are still there, being able to see them is really comforting.

There are events in our personal lives that may obscure our view of things that are eternal. Because of spiritual fog, we can lose contact with our lifeline that is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 13:12a (Message): “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist”.  Just like a fog that covers the bay, however, this spiritual fog can be dissolved. We must have faith to believe Jesus is there even though circumstances obstruct our vision. We need to be assured that He loves us and wants to clear the fog. 1 Corinthians 13:12b: “But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!” 

Has spiritual fog rolled into your life? Is it blocking your view of the Savior? He is there by your side, even if you don’t see Him. Have faith in His presence and love. Call out to Him. Let the SON clear away the fog.

Allow me to paraphrase the lyrics of a popular Johnny Nash recording, “I can see clearly now, the fog is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the thick clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna’ be a bright, bright sunshiny day.”

~ Brother Roy

The Crowded Way

Follow the crowdTraveling through Johannesburg, South Africa, my daughter recently, we saw an eye-catching sign. It was humorous, but startling. The sign read: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. After a chuckle, the sobering reality of that statement began to sink in.

A plethora of examples could address the theme of ‘crowds’. Both secular and sacred writers often speak to the influence of the crowd.  For brevities sake, I will focus on a few Biblical passages that reference crowds. First, Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14: ”Enter in by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” It always seems easier to go along with the crowd than to take an unpopular position. Exodus 23:2 (NKJ) declares, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil… ” In order to fit in, people are often willing to compromise their moral values. 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) warns, “Do not be deceived; bad company ruins morals”.  Wise advice may also be found in Proverbs 24:1 (The Message)“Don’t envy bad people; don’t even want to be around them”. Scripture makes it clear that following the crowd is not a good idea. It usually leads to trouble. 

Secondly, Matthew provides the account of Jesus on trial before Pilate (Matthew 27:15-25).  The passage dramatically illustrates the power of the crowd. “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus (v.20). Pilate said to them, ’What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? (v.22) They all said to him, “Let him be crucified!  (v.23) Then the governor said, ‘Why, what evil has he done? But they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Let him be crucified! (v.23) And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children (v.25).” It was not long afterwards, however, before the very people who shouted for His blood became angry when their participation in Jesus’ death was pointed out to them. The scripture says, “they were filled with indignation” (Acts 5:17-28). They tried to deny the truth and hide from reality of what they had done.

One could build a case from the historical record that for two thousand years trouble and tragedy have befallen the descendants of that group. Through the years, starting with Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem and other murderous moves against the Jews, to the Holocaust, and to present day chaos and conflict in Israel, tragedy and heartache have plagued the Jewish people.

Momentarily, a person may find anonymity and security in the crowd, but in the end each one will stand alone before God at Judgment. Following the crowd will be no excuse. I will be judged individually according to the works I have done.

“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Romans 14:19, KJV)

~ Brother Roy

Why Do You Go to Church?

going to churchI heard an interesting statement the other day. I can’t give proper credit, because I overheard it in a group conversation at a large church in the South. I do, however, think the statement is worth sharing:  People who come to church Sunday morning love the pastor. People who come on Sunday night love the church. People who come on Wednesday night love the Lord.

While we may not agree completely with the statement, it gives food for thought. I heard someone say recently after hearing a young inexperienced preacher, “ If I know when he’s preaching again, I won’t come.”  Perhaps they had missed the point of church attendance. I am under the impression that it is not so much what you can get out of church as it is what you can give to the church. I believe Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). 

People go to church for a variety of reasons. Some may go for the preacher, some for the music, some for the fellowship, etc., but there should be only one main reason for attending church. We should go to worship the Lord. Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23 NKJ).

It is a given fact that believers ought to go to church (Hebrews 10:25). However, the reasons we go to church and the attitude with which we go will determine if it is true worship or a self-serving activity. Why do you go to church?

Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him

~ Brother Roy

Free Will and the Mother Hen

mother henAs boy on the farm, I remember my grandmother raising chickens. She would place a clutch of eggs under a “sittin’ hen” to hatch. Once the chicks had hatched, a vigil started. We kept a watchful eye out for chicken hawks. The hawks seemed to know just when a new brood of chicks had hatched. If the mother hen spotted a hawk, she gave a distinct cluck and all the chicks came running to take shelter under her wings. As the chicks grew and became more independent, once in a while a chick didn’t heed the alarm call. We would find a few feathers, and the chick was gone.

Jesus often used things familiar to the people to whom He spoke, in order to make His point. Luke 13:34 (NKJ) illustrates this principle: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”  Some people are like the little chick mentioned above or like Jerusalem in Jesus’ day – they simply choose to disregard the alarm call to their own detriment.

God created us as creatures of volitional choice – free moral agents. Joshua said to the Hebrew people, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15 NKJ).  The words of the Psalmist acknowledge this belief in Psalm 19:30 (NKJ): I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me”.  Jesus, speaking of Mary, said, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her(Luke 10:42 NKJ).

If we miss salvation and eternal life with Him, it will be by our own choice. He has set before us life or death, but we must chose. The scripture asks the question, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us who heard Him” (Heb. 2:3 NKJ). 

The Hawk of the soul has been sighted. A warning call has been given. Will you choose to gather under His wings?

~ Brother Roy

A Vapor

teakettleThe coffee drinkers at Fitch’s IGA (sometimes humorously referred to as “the Sanhedrin”) were discussing the brevity of life. Over the last few months, our group had suffered the loss of three good friends. I brought the words in James 4:14 NKJ into the conversation: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” I shared memories of my days as a little boy in my grandmother’s kitchen. She always had a teakettle on the stove. I’d watch with amazement as the steam rose from the spout and soon disappeared. Dean Cook, retired Navy Chaplin and Free Methodist Pastor, made an astute observation. He said, “It didn’t really disappear. It simply changed form.”

Recalling my elementary school science, I nodded in affirmation. I remembered that matter could neither be created nor destroyed, but it could change forms – such as a solid becoming a liquid or a gas. Although I have long recognized this principle, I had an epiphany. The same principle in the physical world also applies in the spiritual world. Once our Creator breathes into a person’s nostrils the breath of life, they become an eternal soul.  Death may cause to person to disappear from physical view. But the truth is that they only seem to disappear. Like a vapor, a person may change form, but their soul lives on forever. 

To me, our discussion brought new light to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 NKJ:Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…”  

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die”  (John 11:25-26 NKJ). The Apostle Paul states in Acts 24:15 that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 

We Shall All Be Changed! Are You Ready?

~ Brother Roy

Don’t Be A Turkey

Pastor David Spencer holds one of Owen's turkey calls.

Pastor David Spencer holds one of Owen’s turkey calls.

Owen Tomlin is a mountain craftsman from Breathitt County, Kentucky. In order to supplement his income, like many other folks from the economically depressed areas Eastern Kentucky, Owen has turned to cabin craftwork. Owen has developed an outstanding turkey call. The unique two-chamber design gives this call the best sound I’ve ever heard. Turkeys seem to find it irresistible. The call lures an unexpecting turkey into range and with the crack of a gun, it is all over for bird.

We need to be able to discriminate among the various voices or calls we hear or we could end up like the turkey. Paul alerts the Corinthians to the fact that there are many kinds of voices in the world (1 Corinthians 13:10). We must learn the meaning of the voices that catch our ear. Being able to discern the difference between God’s call and a “siren call” is crucial. In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous yet beautiful creatures that lured sailors with their enchanting music and voices. The end result was shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

There are many siren calls in our world today. I want to cite just a few.

  • The Call of Materialsim:  The account of the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:22 and the parable of the Rich Famer in Luke 12:16-21 point to the call of materialism.
  • The Call of Pleasure:  2 Timothy 3:4 speaks of people who are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Hebrews 11:24 tells us that Moses resisted the call of pleasure, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” The Apostle Paul speaks of the call of pleasure in 1 Timothy 5:6, “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives”.
  • The Call of Cheap Religion: David in 2 Samuel 24:24 refused to offer to the Lord “that which costs me nothing”. Mary would have nothing to do with miserly giving to Jesus (John 12:3). Neither would the Widow in Mark 12:24.
  • The Call of the Self-Centeredness: The call of the “selfie” echoes across the land. The new phenomena of taking self-pictures with your cell phone are a new manifestation of an old problem. Obadiah 4 provides strong advice for the ‘selfie’ person: “Though you ascend as high as an eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the Lord”. We should heed the wise words of Jesus in Matthew 23:12:  “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

These and other worldly voices call us to live a lower way than God’s way. They may sound appealing, but they invite shipwreck. Here is how you can know if it’s God’s voice or a sirens call: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if anything is praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NKJ).

Don’t be fooled like the turkey! Learn to know the Lord’s Voice.

~ Brother Roy