His Holiness

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One morning I was watching a beautiful sunrise in South Africa. As the first rays of golden light touched the Father’s creation, my humbled heart began to sing with Isaiah, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth  is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). In those moments of astonished consciousness, adoration and praise came like waves of the ocean upon my soul.

Three thoughts overwhelmed me that morning. They will forever remain a part of my spiritually reality. As never before, I was:

  • Awed by His Holiness. I think I’ve always had a basic understanding of His holiness. But that morning, my understanding reached a whole new level. I will call on Isaiah’s account to put into words what my feeble vocabulary will not allow: “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims…” (Isaiah 6:1-2).
  • Aware of My Sinfulness. In the resplendent radiance of God’s presence, I suddenly felt dirty, like a leper covered with filthy rags. Relying again on words from Isaiah: “Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5).
  • Amazed at His Grace. I had never felt so vile and depraved as in those moments. But then, I was amazed at a grace that could bridge the gap between my wretched ungodliness and His perfect holiness. As when one of the seraphim took a live coal from off the altar of God and touched Isaiah’s lips, I sensed Jesus’ touch on my lips and my soul. In my spirit, I heard Him say, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin taken away” (Isaiah 6:7). What amazing grace! It is a grace greater than our sin.

Let All The Inhabitants Of The World Stand In Awe Of Him (Psalm 33:8)

~ Brother Roy

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No Escape

escapeWe recently sailed out of Miami on the NCL Escape. Our trip was a beautiful gift from our daughter and son-in-law. Away from the pressures of ministry and a hectic schedule, there was time to reflect on my advancing years and issues of life. There were over 4,000 passengers on board the ship. When the crew and entertainers are added to that number, the count soars to over 6,000. Many of the guests sailing out on the Escape seemed to be seeking to do just that – ‘escape’.

Wanting to leave behind such things as dysfunctional relationships, job and career disappointments, family crises, and a host of other troubles, they appeared to be making a vain attempt to distance themselves from their problems.

By the hundreds, people descended on the buffet lines and restaurants, seemingly intent on gorging in an almost endless feeding frenzy in an attempt to forget things left behind. Alcoholic beverages were consumed to a startling degree – many seemed to have a glass in their hand from morning until they collapsed at night.  The ringing bells, horns, and other noise of the casinos drew people like a moth to a flame; disillusioned, they hoped to win something there to numb their inner pain from life’s losses.  Raucous entertainment, thumping drum beats, blaring musical instruments coursed through speakers turned to the maximum volume; with the rhythmic vibrations, they sought to anesthetize the mind.

The common theme for so many is: Escape – Escape – Escape – Escape – Escape!

Hear a great eternal truth from God’s word. If we reject God, we shall not escape. “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3, ESV). The cruise ship Escape will soon return to our port of departure. The troubles that were left behind will be there waiting. If anything, they will have increased in intensity. Until we make peace with God, there is no escape. “Where shall I go from your Spirit, or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol (hell), you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:8-10, ESV).

But, there is a true path of escape from the cares of this life. Jesus provided words of direction for those who are troubled, bruised by the world, or burdened down with guilt. He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

~ Brother Roy

Beauty and the Beast

beauty and the beastIt was about 8:00 a.m. when Lebo, our tracker, gave a hand signal to our ranger. He had picked up the tracks of two lions. Dwayne, our ranger, was well familiar with this area and these lions. He is a veteran game ranger in Madikwe, South Africa. After a few hundred yards farther down the dirt road, Lebo gave another hand signal, and Dwayne turned off road. A short distance later, the land cruiser slowed to a stop as Lebo pointed out the lions. The two were stretched out and sleeping. They scarcely roused as we approached. Dwayne explained that we were a party to something extraordinary. These older lions had been ejected from their territory in a terrific fight with two younger male lions. In an unheard of occurrence, these two old timers had recouped and returned. In another furious battle, they reclaimed the territory. Bruised and battered, still licking their wounds, they were resting from the grueling combat.

We spent considerable time watching the lions and listening to Dwayne as he recounted the exploits of the ‘old guys’.  It was then that I noticed the black tip of one of the lion’s tail a few inches from a beautiful flower. I immediately thought of the Beauty and the Beast. As is often the case, some seemingly unconnected events start my mind down the path of a life lesson.

Villeneuve’s traditional fairy tale, The Beauty and the Beast, carries a fascinating story line. A handsome prince falls under the spell of a wicked fairy that turns him into a hideous beast. Only by finding true love, despite his ugliness, could the curse be broken. Now, let me attempt to relate this fairy tale to the message of God’s love.

In the Garden of Eden, man fell into disobedience and sin under the awful influence of the wicked one, Satan himself. The distorting and defacing impact of sin turned man into a fallen and ugly beast inside. Scarcely had the curse gripped the heart of man, when jealousy and murder reared their repulsive heads. Adam and Eve’s son Cain killed his brother Abel. From that time to this, the curse of sin has passed on to all men. Once infected by sin, beastly men have left their bloody footprints across the pages of the scripture and across history. Tyrants like Hitler, Stalin, and even today’s ISIS exemplify the ugly beast within as they behead, rape, and torture the innocents.

As in the fairy tale, only unconditional love, despite man’s ugliness, can break the curse. God’s word informs us of an amazing transformation that can take place because of Christ’s love.

  • But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
  • This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
  • Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” (Galatians 3:13)
  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV)

By the grace of God, the beast can become beautiful. Do you want to become a new creature? Is the desire of your heart to see ugliness within pass away? Accept Christ’s love and He will make you into a new person.

We Can Turn From Beast To Beauty By Christ’s Love

~ Brother Roy

Renewal Week at Wilmore Free Methodist (UPDATED with sermon links)

profBrother Roy will be preaching the messages for Wilmore Free Methodist Church‘s Spiritual Renewal Week services, February 12-15.  Service times are Sunday morning (8:30am & 10:50am), Sunday evening (6:00pm), and Monday-Wednesday evenings (7:00pm).  WFMC is located at 1200 Lexington Rd., Wilmore, Kentucky.  Nursery and children’s ministries are available in each service.

The following messages by Brother Roy from the week are available through the website TruthCasting:

Predators of the Heart

jackalOn a recent trip to South Africa, I found a Zulu proverb that had a familiar ring to it. The proverb says, “The Jackal is not kept in the same kraal as the sheep.” It reminded me of a saying from my boyhood days in eastern Kentucky. People would say, “You don’t let the fox guard the chicken house.”

Jackals are related to foxes, and although jackals are little larger than foxes they closely resemble each other. Apparently, they share other characteristics. We say that a cunning person is as sly or smart as a fox. Jackals are often depicted in like manner and are described as clever sorcerers in many African myths and legends. While jackals and foxes scavenge, they are also skilled hunters. Just like farmers in the Kentucky hills hate foxes that are chickens killers, the Zulu hate jackals, because they are often sheep killers.

There is a spiritual application that can be made with the Zulu proverb. Jackals are mentioned approximately 14 times in the Bible. They were hated and feared by Hebrew shepherds. The shepherds had to be vigilant at all times to protect their sheep because the jackals were always on the prowl. What kind of a shepherd would willingly tolerate a jackal in the sheepfold or kraal? My question in the spiritual realm is, “Who would willingly or carelessly give the Devil, the jackal of men’s souls, a way into their heart?”

The Bible provides information on the critical issue of guarding the way into the heart:

  • “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23)
  • “…and give no opportunity to the devil(Ephesians 4:27, NKJV)
  • “Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices”  (2 Corinthians 2:11, NKJV)
  • “Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live…” (Deuteronomy 4:9, MSG)
  • 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)
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1, ESV)

Pornography, lust, greed, covetousness, pride, and self-centeredness are but a few of the lurking sins that hang around us. Like jackals, they look for an opening into the heart. If we are not vigilant, they will enter in unobserved. We may not realize what has happened until it’s too late and the damage is done.

Stay Alert – Guard Your Heart

~ Brother Roy

NHIM Pastors Retreat Cruise

img_0387Over the past week, 26 friends and co-laborers participated in a pastors retreat cruise sponsored by New Hope International Ministries.  The goal of the cruise was to provide a time to get away and refresh for several pastors with whom New Hope works in Eastern Kentucky.  The theme of the week was “Come Apart Before You Come Apart” with the theme verse of Mark 6:33Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (NLT). 

The ship sailed out of Mobile, Alabama, and included two full days at sea and a day each in Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.

A major purpose of the retreat was to provide time away from the pressures of daily life and ministry. We spent much of our time enjoying fellowship with each other, sharing victories and difficulties, and eating dinner together as a family.

The retreat provided important opportunities for our group to get to know each other personally. Hectic schedules, work and ministry obligations, and family responsibilities leave little time to visit and learn about each other when we are at home, but the fellowship in sessions and around the dinner table provided opportunity for encouragement and enjoyment of each other.

While we were together as a group for many activities, we also wanted ministry couples to have some private time together – catching a nice lunch together in the dining room, watching the waves in the moonlight, or a late night coffee and dessert date provided an important time of refreshing and renewal.

In our scheduled sessions, Brother Roy preached a message on how Hezekiah took his challenges before the Lord, Pastor David Spencer shared about his vision for church planting and evangelism in Eastern Kentucky, NHIM Board Chairman Matt Kinnell spoke about how God’s plans for our lives – both physical and spiritual – are always better than we could have imagined, the laypeople traveling with us provided input on what they expect from a pastor, and we ended with a celebration of ‘The Lord’s Supper’ as a family.

Here are some photos from our week together:

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