The World Upside Down

upside down“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).

This was the charge leveled against Paul and Silas in Thessalonica. It seems beyond belief that any man or two men could so affect the world that the people said, “They’re turning the world upside down.”  Personally, I might re-phrase it to say, “These men are turning the world right-side up”.

There are people who live their whole life and the world doesn’t even know they’re alive. There are Christians who seem to have absolutely no effect on anything around them. But here are two people of whom the world said, “They’ve turned us upside down.” Somebody once said, “There are people who watch things happen, and there are people who make things happen. Then there are people who don’t know what’s happening.” These two men were people who made things happen. They were unwilling to accept things as they were. They took action.

Could it be that the world is getting worse and worse because so many of us are people who don’t know or care what’s happening? This seems especially true if it is something that doesn’t directly affect us. A life of indifference lowers the moral climate of the world in which we live. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

In this morally upside down world, even our feeble attempts to help are often misdirected. Ezra Taft Benson had the right perspective: “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ would take the slums out of people, and then they would take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”

Hear the Lord’s Word for us in this upside down world:  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 NKJV).

~ Brother Roy


Sky Lift

sky liftIn the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, there is an area of natural stone bridges and arches. The wind and water over eons of time have carved beautiful bridges and shapes from the sandstone. One of the most famous wind-sculpted formations is known as Natural Bridge.

The bridge is located at the crest of a mountain. The trail to get to the bridge is steep and rugged as it twists and turns on its upward ascent to the bridge. In the past, only the strongest and most fit were able to make the demanding trek. The modern era has brought change. The State of Kentucky has developed a state park in the area with many modern conveniences. One such convenience is the Sky Lift.  Similar to a ski lift, the sky lift can transport people two at a time to the top of the mountain. The lift carries passengers above the ravines, chasms, streams, and sheer rock faces. At the top, the passengers disembark and it is only a short walk to the bridge along a relatively flat trail that offers incredible views.

The ascent from this old troubled world to heaven’s blissful shore can also be perilous and steep. But the Lord has a way to lift us above the treacherous terrain too difficult for us to negotiate. The point of departure for the ascension to the top is the new birth. Once on board, the Lord has provided certain helps to carry us above what appears to be impossible obstacles:

  • A church family can support and uplift us in troubled times.
  • Corporate worship and the great hymns of the church can buoy a discouraged spirit.
  • Scripture can guide us and lift us above the uncertainties of life.
  • Prayer can provide the blessed assurance we need when we are beset by great hurdles. It can elevate us above our temporary tribulations.

The Christian’s Sky Lift: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). 

I rise to walk in Heav’n’s own light,
Above the world and sin,
With heart made pure and garments white,
And Christ enthroned within.
~ Phoebe Palmer ~

~ Brother Roy

Simplicity in Christ

simplicitySometimes life seems to get so very complicated. In addition,  I also tend to overthink things and make situations more difficult than they really are. At times like these, I tell myself to calm down, take a deep breath, and simplify. Occasionally, my spiritual life also follows that same pattern and I know that I need to simplify. I turn to Paul’s words, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

The words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Mark helps me focus on the simple basic truths I need to know: “One of the teachers of the law came and heard Jesus arguing with the Sadducees. Seeing that Jesus gave good answers to their questions, he asked Jesus, “Which of the commands is most important”?  Jesus answered, “The most important command is this: ‘Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.  The second command is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There are no commands more important than these” (Mark 12:28-31).

Recently, I heard an easy-to-remember paradigm that encapsulates what I need to know to help me simplify my spiritual life:

Love Christ Completely

Love Others Compassionately

Love yourself Correctly

Prayer: Lord let me live today by the words of Edgar Stites’ wonderful hymn that embraces simplicity. Simply trusting every day; Trusting through a stormy way; Even when my faith is small, Trusting Jesus, that is all.”

~ Brother Roy

How Will It All Turn Out?

8ballIn life, it seems there are many ‘uncertainties’ that surround us. There are financial, geo-political, personal relationships, and health issues to name just a few. I sometimes find myself wondering how it will all turn out. I have concluded that only the Lord knows what the future holds. He alone knows how everything will turn out. But there is one thing I’m sure of, for those who belong to Him, it will turn out well.

Ira Stamphill wrote a popular gospel song with lyrics that express my thoughts:

There are things about tomorrow
That I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

What a blessing it is to be able to move into an uncertain future without worry or fear. We can do so because we walk beside the ONE who knows what is ahead. Only the Lord knows the end of all things. God’s word teaches us that even when we walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23) we do not need to be afraid. He is always with us and provides comfort and assurance.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

~ Brother Roy


curvesMy ministry in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky necessitates regular travel on crooked roads. One of the most frequent and necessary road signs is the familiar yellow sign that lets drivers know there are curves in the road ahead. They are reminders to slow down. The reflective signs can be seen day or night and indicate the road curves to the right or left.

Scripture can serve as the bright yellow signs to alert the spiritual driver of curves ahead. The hectic pace of life often sends us hurrying down highways with many twists and turns. We need to let God’s word and the presence of the Holy Spirit draw our attention to dangerous situations that may lie ahead.

When we rush into the day without taking time to pray and seek the Lord’s direction, we are prone to miss the warning signs. Here are some scriptures that are wise to consider:

  • In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:6, ESV).
  • “Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies (the curves); make your way straight before me” (Psalm 5:8, NIV).
  • “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart…” (Deutertonomy 4:9, NIV).
  • So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time” (Mark 13:23).
  • “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up” (1 Peter 5:8, MSG).

Be very careful, then, how you live (drive)—not as unwise but as wise.”
~ Ephesians 5:15 (NIV) ~

~ Brother Roy

Relationship Status

relstatEvery person has some type of relation with the Lord. There are a number of descriptors that could be used to describe these relationships. There are six that quickly come to my mind:

  1. Unbelief
  2. Indifference
  3. Passive rejection
  4. Aggressive rejection
  5. Mental acknowledgement
  6. Heartfelt devotion

Which type do you think best describes you?  Most people fall into one of the first five categories. Only a few are found in category six, ‘heartfelt devotion’. Being a devoted follower of Jesus represents the ‘narrow way’ in scripture. Jesus said, “Enter 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” (Matthew 7:13-14, NKJV).

The ranks of those who are indifferent or those who to varying degrees reject the Lord are immense. Those numbers seem to be growing with each passing day. The concept of ‘majority rules’ or determining what’s right by popular vote does not apply in the spiritual realm. As a matter of fact, it is quite the contrary.

I remember a saying from my boyhood days in Eastern Kentucky. “Any old dead fish can drift downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream against the current”. Are you drifting along with the crowd of unbelievers and the indifferent? If so, it will not end well for you when your days on this earth are over. But the cowardly, unbelieving… shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8, NKJV). 

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
(Luke 9:26)

~ Brother Roy

The Toad and the Snake

toad window wellI have always been a story teller. Across years of ministry, I have often attempted to develop ‘parables’ to help illustrate spiritual truths. Following Jesus’ lead, I’ve attempted to use familiar situations or recognizable character types to illuminate my point. This is my latest effort.

My father-in-law, Gale Bowyer, had a house in the country. It had window wells that served as retaining barriers to hold the surrounding earth back about eighteen inches from the basement windows. This arrangement let light into the basement, but allowed the yard level to be maintained. One day we were standing near one of the window wells when Gale reached down into the well and lifted out a toad. It had apparently fallen in and was unable to get out. A couple of days later, we looked into the window well and the toad was in there again. Once more the toad was lifted out and sent on his way. Over the next several days, we checked, and the toad was usually in the window well, unable to get out.

We finally figured out the situation. After dark, a night-light in the basement shined through the window. Bugs and flying insects would gather around the window where the light shined through. The toad would see the abundant food supply and hop in to help himself. As the toad grew fatter, any possibility of jumping out became more of an impossibility.

One day, I looked in the window well planning to once again rescue the toad.  I recoiled at what I saw. A large black snake with a bulge in its middle was lying in the bottom of the window well. The overindulgent toad had sacrificed his freedom for the easy life. Despite numerous rescues, the toad was drawn to the window well like the proverbial “moth to the flame”. He was tempted by something that would lead to his downfall.

The Biblical application is obvious. The easiest way is often not the the best way. The easy way may have ‘hidden’ costs like it did for the toad. Since we have free will, we may decide, as so many do, to follow our own basic instincts and our own self interests. However, scripture warns: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV). God’s word also informs us that, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes…” (Proverbs 12:15a). Beware of what seems to be effortless gain. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Because of my affinity for stories that teach a moral lesson, I am fond of Aesop’s Fables. A statement from one of the fables is appropriate here. “Affairs are easier of entrance than exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in”. Jesus spoke to the ‘easy way’ when He said, “for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13). The Message translation of Amos 6:1 gives an interesting look at the easy way: Woe to you who think you live on easy street in Zion, who think Mount Samaria is the good life. You assume you’re at the top of the heap, voted the number-one best place to live.” When tempted to take the easiest way, remember the toad!

Prayer: Lord help me to enter by the narrow gate.
the gate is narrow and difficult, it is the way which leads to life.”
(Matthew 7:13-14)  

~ Brother Roy