Getting People Lost

all have sinnedAt age 19, I was already the pastor a small rural church. I called a former pastor, Rev. Cain, and invited him to preach a revival for our church. Several of the congregation had kept in touch with him across the years. The Lord had greatly blessed his ministry with a harvest of souls. He had shepherded two churches through exceptional growth and building programs. He was also in demand as a revival speaker.

I so wanted to impress Bro. Cain, and I must confess I felt pretty important being a pastor at 19 years old. In an ill-fated and inappropriate attempt to make an impression, I said, “ Bro. Cain, in my experience I’m finding it more and more difficult to get men saved. Have you had similar experience?” He paused for a moment, and I expectantly waited for a reply that I was sure would stroke my youthful ego. His response shook me to the core and forever shaped my ministry. He replied, “No. No, I haven’t found that to be true at all. I’ve spent my ministry trying to get people lost. You see, young man, if you can convince unbelievers that they are lost, if you can help them see the fires of hell and eternal separation from God and all that’s good, they will gladly flee into the arms of the Savior.”

“Getting people lost” is still a phrase that comes to mind whenever I have the opportunity to preach. Of course, the objective of preaching should be to bring people to the Savior. The difficult part, it seems, is to convince most unbelievers that they are lost and must be born again. The Apostle Paul often refers to the unsaved as “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:3).It is good to re-read the account of Nicodemus from time to time and know that Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”  (John 3:1-21).

~ Brother Roy

Advertisements

Fishin’

fishI love to fish! But, the pathway of life that I’ve followed has left little time for this beloved activity. I’m not very good at “fishin’”. I blame the lack of fishing time as the reason I’m so inept at the undertaking. Recently, on a visit to Dauphin Island, my friend Wayne invited me to go fishing with him and a group of his friends. It was the last day of Red Snapper season, and I was really excited to get to go.

We went a few miles off shore and dropped our lines, but with limited success. The water was rough and choppy. I thought our fishing trip was about over when Wayne said, “I know a spot about 25 miles out. I don’t want to go in on the last day of snapper season without our limit. Roll up your lines and let’s go!”  Not being accustom to fishing off shore, I was alarmed at the prospects of going so far out in rough seas. However, Wayne grew up on these waters, and I trusted him completely, so I sat back and let the sea spray and waves come on in. An hour or so later, we arrived at ‘the place’ and dropped our lines in 100 feet of water. Almost immediately the fish started hitting. We caught our limit in a short amount of time. Several of the snapper weighted close to 20 pounds, others less.  We had approximately 300 pounds of fish!

On the trip back in, I thought about another fishing trip some 2,000 years ago (Luke 5: 1-7).  Simon Peter and some of his friends had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”   And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish.”   In the Sea of Galilee, the fish came to the shallows at night to feed; in the daytime they went down to cooler waters deep in the lake. Though Peter’s experience made him quite sure that they would catch nothing, he was willing to listen to Jesus and try. They caught so many fish that friends had to be called to help. They brought in two boatloads of fish.

How many times as His witnesses have we stayed in the shallows and caught nothing. Jesus is calling us to have faith in Him and to follow His directives. We need to trust Him and when beckoned to do so, we need  “to launch out into the deep.”  Our natural inclination is to stay in the shallows where it is safe. Our soul winning efforts are all too often futile because we are afraid of the deep water and fearful of failure. We need to hear again the words of Jesus in Matthew 28: 18-20: “And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” 

If He asks us to launch out into deep waters like the mission field or an unseemly part of town, to go to a grumpy neighbor or a lost family member, we need to obey. Are we not called to be ‘fishers of men’? He will go with us and help us. He promised.

~ Brother Roy

The Cut

Katrina Cut

Satellite Image of the “Katrina Cut”

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina roared into the gulf of Mobile Bay. She slammed into Dauphin Island with a ferocity that left a gaping wound across the island. The violent winds and storm surge severed the west end of the island from the main body of land. The “Katrina Cut”, as it came to be known, had been formed. The destruction did not end with the passing of the storm. The Cut allowed gulf water to pour directly into Mobile Bay. The saltier water coursing through the Cut changed the salinity of the water in the bay. This allowed a type of conch called an oyster drill to come in and thrive. The oyster drill’s primary food is the oyster. They began destroying the oyster beds in the bay. It was a devastating blow to the oyster fishermen in the area.

A powerful analogy may be drawn from this event. The vicissitudes of life often cut into the inner man. These cuts at times seem to reach to the very soul. It might be the breakup of the family, betrayal by a loved one, or the loss of a beloved family member or a close friend that cuts deeply. The “salinity of the soul” often begins to change.  Bitterness, resentment, sullenness, anger, and depression can pour in. It comes the ‘drills’ of sin. The soul within begins to die. Many of us have been cut deeply by events in our lives. If we are not careful, our relationship with God is at peril.

On Dauphin Island, a bold plan was developed. The decision was made to try to close the Cut. That meant rebuilding over a mile of the island across open water to reconnect the two parts. Wayne Eldridge, a local marine contractor, accepted the challenge. The laborious task of bringing in tens of thousands of tons of a dense grade of rock began. Little by little large boulders were positioned, and the Cut began to close. In what seemed at times an endless task, barge after barge was emptied. With track hoes and other heavy equipment, plus the expenditure of immense human effort, they finally breached the cut. Aided by the natural action of gulf currents, the sand began to cover the rocks, and healing took place. The island was once more whole.

Our heavenly Father has a bold plan to heal the cuts inflicted on His children. He sent His only son into the world to execute His plan. In Luke 4:18, Jesus said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”  By the grace of God, wounded souls can be healed. The passing of time may soften the hurt, but only Jesus can truly heal.

Have you been hurt? Have you been cut so deeply that it is affecting all areas of your life?  Jesus came to heal the broken hearted and the bruised. Hear the beautiful words of the Prophet Malachi: “But to you who fear My name the Son of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2).  We are invited to go to the Lord for healing of the deepest cuts.

~ Brother Roy

Driftwood on the Beach of Eternity

driftwoodI love to walk along the seashore and feel the sea breeze in my face. The cry of the gulls riding the air currents above the water, waves breaking a short distance out and racing onto shore – it all brings me great pleasure. Recently, I was walking on the beach on Dauphin Island.  There were several pieces of driftwood scattered along the sand. They were cast there by some passing storm. They lay gnarled and battered as they bleached in the sun.

My mind moved quickly to a verse of scripture in the Book of Exodus. “And Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the sea shore” (Exodus 14:30b, KJV).  The Message Translation renders this passage as, “And Israel looked at the Egyptian dead, washed up on the shore of the sea, and realized the tremendous power that God brought against the Egyptians.”  The great Pharaoh was dead, as dead as the lowest-ranking soldiers in his army. Death had proven to be the great equalizer. John writes in Revelation 20:12, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God …and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books…”  The powerful Egyptian potentate had become just another piece of driftwood on the beach of eternity.

He was not in this watery grave by accident, but by the mighty hand of God. He will remain forever a monument to God’s power. This time, Pharaoh is not a monument to God’s power to save, but His power to thwart, to frustrate, to utterly destroy. God will stop a renegade soul from disrupting His divine plan.  He will rise up to meet the challenge of a defiant and disobedient soul.

I believe God loved Moses, but I believe He also loved Pharaoh no less. Hear the heart of God in Ezekiel 33:11:Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his ways and live.” 2 Peter 3:9 echoes the same sentiment: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”   Whatever wreck people make of their lives, it is done by the choices they make, not by a vindictive God.

Pharaoh’s body lay on an ancient beach. It was cast there by a grieving Heavenly Father who witnessed this man spurn His every effort to keep him from this tragic end. Pharaoh was not there because God had pre-determined to drown him in the Red Sea, and that without choice. I do not believe that God destined one to be forever revered as a savior of his people (Moses) and the other (Pharaoh) to be an object of His wrath. We must surely know that we cannot reject God’s love and fight against Him and expect to win. God will be forced finally to stop a rebellious soul. Pharaoh had victimized himself by his own choices.

Prayer: Dear Lord please help me to respond to your love. May I never chose my own willful way and reject your plan for my salvation. I never want to be a piece of “driftwood on the beach of eternity.”

~ Brother Roy