Under the Gun

WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WWI/RECRUITMENT AND TRAINING

As the day approached for us to leave our home of 43 years behind and move to smaller quarters, we felt the pressure. The old phrase ‘under the gun’ came to mind. It is my understanding that the term originated during World War I. A soldier was ‘under the gun during the first part of a charge across no-mans’ land when they were under artillery bombardment. It has now come to mean you are under intense pressure to move forward, to act.

I could relate to the Apostle Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians, “At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end” (2 Corinthians 1:8, Phillips). I was feeling overwhelmed, under the gun, Sunday morning when I arrived at my Sunday School class. It was there, in the Lord’s house, that I found relief from the pressure and concern.

It was as if the Lord had prepared the lesson especially for me. The teacher spoke of what to do when you feel overwhelmed. He suggested that we ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Does God know about my situation?
  2. Is the situation too big for God to handle?
  3. Does God have a plan?

The answers were obvious: Yes. No. Yes. I could feel my anxiety melting away and my spirits were being lifted. Scripture says, So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern” (1 Pet. 5:6-7, Phillips). I knew I was no longer ‘under the gun’, but under God’s hand and plan.

All to often, we experience unnecessary anxiety and pressure. As a believer, we are assured of the Lord’s presence. He is willing and able to help us, if rely on Him. Ask yourself the three questions above. You don’t need to live ‘under the gun’.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

~ Brother Roy

Election

i votedNovember was approaching, and the political season was in full flower. Political ads and propaganda were dominating television, radio, and newspaper. Yard signs, door-hangers, and flyers littered the neighborhoods. Election season underscores the deep divide between the parties and candidates. So many of the politicians appear to substitute volume for substance and ‘the beat goes on’.

In my Kentucky mountain home, differences of opinion have often been intense and at times ‘heated’. These disagreements are especially ardent in the arena of politics and religion. It is not uncommon for these disputes to erupt into violence. For the sake of brevity, I will only focus on the religious side. There is a long-standing debate between the ‘free will-ers’ and the ‘unconditional election’ folks. I will not wade into the deep end of the controversy, but rather stay in the shallow end as I attempt to make my point.

I recently ran across a quote by Lela McConnell in her autobiography, The Mountain Shall Be Thine: “A man said about the doctrine of election, ‘Jesus has a vote, the devil has a vote, and I have a vote, but my vote decided the election’” (p.99). I tend to ascribe to that man’s theology. Phrases in scripture like; “let whosoever will come” (Revelation 22:17), “whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), and “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15) tilt me his direction – that of free will.

The old adage, “If you don’t vote, don’t gripe,” seems appropriate. If we neglect to participate in the process that determines our eternal life, we will answer at Judgment. God’s word asks, “how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Hebrews 2:3-4, NIV).

This election is not to elect Jesus as Savior. He already is and has been since the foundation of the world! Amen! This election is for us to decide if we will spend eternity with Him. I cast my vote for Jesus six decades ago and am so glad I did.

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” – Joshua 24:15

~ Brother Roy

Zombies

zombieThere seems to be an unusual fascination in recent years with zombies. Often referred to as the “walking dead”, the concept of zombies has long been associated with voodoo. “The superstition holds that a voodoo spirit is able to bring people who have died back to life without speech or free will” (Webster’s New American Dictionary).

Many people, especially young people, seem to be enthralled with the idea of zombies as evidenced by the immense popularity of zombie movies and television shows. Clothes, wall hangings, trinkets, and other bric-a-brac also reflect this fixation. A city in our region even holds an annual Zombie Parade.

There is a sobering truth in scripture concerning the ‘living dead’. God’s word says, Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12, NIV). There is a vast difference between physical existence and true life that is in Christ. People may eat, drink, go to work, etc., in the existence mode, but the real joy of life as God intended, it not there.

Multitudes of people move through daily routines with little purpose or direction. They are intent on little more than self-pleasing. “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community” (Galatians 5:19-21, MSG). Such people are the walking dead.

The flip-side of the biblical life principle is likewise true: If a person is in Christ, they continue to live, even though the physical body stops functioning.

  • Jesus said …, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26, NIV).
  • “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36, NIV).

A Wonderful Promise: Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV).

~ Brother Roy

Devilish Deception

devilAn advertisement for an up-coming movie featured a fascinating ‘tag line’.  Scenes in the preview feature demonic caricatures in a horrific venue. One of the grotesque beings was dominating other fiendish creatures. He shouted, “I’d rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.”  (The quote is actually a slight corruption of a line from John Bunyan’s Paradise Lost.)

In recent years, there seems to be a major increase in the number of ‘horror’ films on T.V. and in theaters. Violence, fear, death, and suffering draw viewers, for reasons beyond my comprehension. People pay to have their minds flooded with images of anarchy and mayhem. As eyes drink in blood, gore, and mutilation, ears tingle with screams of terror and moans of the dying.

The filmmakers glamorize these hellish arenas. Minds grows numb to the disgusting and the vile. People tend to reduce the reality of an actual Hell to movie ‘make-believe’. A devilish, mind blinding deception takes place. Folks soon dismiss the truth that, “There is Heaven to gain and Hell to shun.”

Oh, how people need to know that Hell is real. Jesus said that it is a place of “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). In Luke 16, Jesus, the One true source, describes the actual nature of Hell as a place of eternal torment, flames, suffering, and with no escape. Scripture speaks of the deceit by the enemy of our souls as he attempts to hide the horrible reality of Hell.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). 

Anyone tempted to emulate the aforementioned demonic personage and say, “I’d rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven,” should heed this warning: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap(Galatians 6:7). This is a spiritual law that God put in place, and it affects everyone, whether they follow Christ or not. God’s immutable word says, And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). God incontrovertibly declares, And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night,” (Revelation 14:11).

 “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10)

~ Brother Roy

On the Wall

phil 1.3Fitch’s Store is our small town gathering place for morning coffee and community news. On the wall behind the small tables where we share coffee and donuts are several rows of framed pictures. These pictures are of friends that have been a part of our fellowship. These folks have passed on from this life, but are fondly remembered by those who gather there.

Recently, my wife brought to my attention the following poem by an unknown author:

I thought of you today, but that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday and days before that too.
I think of you in silence, I often speak your name.
All I have is memories and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is a keepsake from which I’ll never part.
God has you in His arms, I have you in my heart.

True friends remember us across time. While that is a pleasant thought, there is someone far more important who we want to remember us. Scripture tells us that the Lord remembers. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isaiah 49:15-16).

All of us should certainly desire to live among family, friends, and community so as to be fondly remembered. Of even greater eternal importance is to be remembered as part of God’s family. That happens when we receive His son, Jesus, as our Savior. Like the thief on the cross, may our heart’s cry be, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42). With Jesus as our Savior, we will never be forgotten.

A Precious Promise: “But the loving kindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:17).

~ Brother Roy

Moving Day

moving vanMoving day was rapidly approaching. My wife Sue and I have only moved to a new residence four times in our fifty-seven years of marriage. We have been at our present location for more than forty years. As you can imagine, we had mixed emotions. We felt the excitement of adjusting to new place and the melancholy of leaving behind our familiar and loved home.

Scripture relates many instances of God’s people moving to new surroundings. Certainly, the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt to Canaan immediately comes to mind. In the New Testament, Jesus’s family had to move to Egypt at the beginning of His life and then back to Israel when it was safe to do so.

Believing that scripture can provide needed insight, I turned to God’s word. I always find comfort and assurance in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”. The following scriptures provided surety for me:

  • Luke 10:5 –When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house’.
  • Proverbs 24:3-4 – By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
  • Isaiah 32:18 –My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.

We prayed for our new home to be a place of peace. We also asked the Lord to help us not only move in familiar furniture, but to fill the rooms with the precious treasures of the Lord’s presence. We joyfully received His words, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV). Because of the Lord’s shepherding care, we can approach our transition with the great expectation of seeing the new thing that He is doing.

His Precious Promise for Moving Day: “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest”  (Isaiah 32:18).

~ Brother Roy

Sorry, I Didn’t Get That

siriAs I walked into church, I turned my cell phone to silent and vibrate. I slid it into the zipper pocket of my leather Bible carrier along with my keys. The Sunday School lesson was intense and compelling. We were studying the later chapters of Revelation. The imagery and symbolism proved to be challenging and difficult to understand.

At one point, I moved my Bible from one knee to the other. A voice loud enough to be heard by most of the class said, “Sorry, I didn’t get that.” After a moment of awkward silence, laughter broke out. Apparently, when I shifted the Bible’s weight, the keys in the pocket pushed the cell phone button and ‘woke Siri up’.

As the humor faded, I had to confess that in reality there was much about the chapters that I didn’t understand. Nevertheless, there was a lot I did ‘get’. A famous quote attributed to Mark Twain reflected my thoughts. “Some people are troubled by things in the Bible they can’t understand. What troubles me are the things I can understand.”

Although I do not have full and clear understanding of many of passages in Revelation, I know this for sure, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV).

I may not understand everything about end time events, but I do know that the judgment of God against sin will happen as scripture declares.  In view of the Biblical declarations, as believers we should follow Paul’s admonition to Timothy: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). If we heed God’s word, we will not be caught unaware. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4, KJV).

A Precious Promise: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, NIV).

~ Brother Roy