Beware of Calumny

calumnyOccasionally, a new word appears in print and captures my attention.  It is as if the Lord is trying to call something to my attention. Such a word is ‘calumny’. It occurred in a newspaper article about a priest’s alleged abuse of a boy. When the Pope was made aware of it, he responded to the report by saying it was calumny.

A little research provided the following explanation of the term. Calumny: making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone’s reputation; slander, defamation, vilification. For me It was a new term for an old concept.

Calumny is rampant in the world in which we live. ‘Fake news’, meant to hurt or defame a person, is presented as true. It is often accepted as true with little effort to validate or corroborate the information. Lives and reputations have been ruined by false or unsubstantiated statements. All areas of our daily lives are subject to this problem. Unfortunately, it is also true in the religious realm.

Our traditional Christian faith is under attack. Critics rail against the concept of spiritual absolutes. The virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, and the resurrection are portrayed as non-essentials. Inerrancy and infallibility of scripture are scorned. Many religious leaders scoff at Biblical doctrines of Judgment and Hell.

This is not a new phenomenon. At the dawn of human life on earth, Adam and Eve succumbed to the calumny of Satan. “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:3-4). This strategy of Satan should not be a surprise. “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44, NKJV). From the beginning, Satan has called into question the integrity and truthfulness of God.

Wise words: “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world” (1 John 4:1, MSG).

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, NKJV).

~ Brother Roy

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A Sour Stomach

sour stomachAs a boy, I would hear my grandmother refer to indigestion as a ‘sour stomach’. At times, the phrase would also be incorporated into a colloquial expression about a person’s attitude. The saying was, “When you have a sour stomach, none of the food on the table looks good.”

Our outlook on situations in our lives tints how we see the world. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15).

A positive attitude is a major factor in living successfully. When we are focused on the positive aspects of our life, we can find joy and peace even in adverse circumstances. Paul give this advice, “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, NKJV). Life is better when our outlook is optimistic.

When our outlook on life is ‘sour’, everything seems tainted and distasteful. Part ‘b’ of Paul’s words in Titus 1:15 conveys this principle: “but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled”. A negative attitude is like wearing dirty glasses – the world tends to look dim and soiled. A sour stomach even makes good dishes look unappealing.

We can keep a positive attitude by having clean hands and a pure heart. A positive view comes from a close relationship with the Lord. You can, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you(James 4:8). God’s word gives us this advice, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). 

I love the following quote by Walt Whitman: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.” John says, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Walking in the light that Jesus provides, keeps the shadows of negative thought from clouding our outlook.  

Prayer: Lord, please help me to have a “sweet” heart and not a “sour” stomach.

~ Brother Roy

The Mountain Trillium

IMG_1267I was preaching a revival in Eastern Kentucky. On the way to the church, I was driving slowly along a narrow highway. I saw a beautiful white flower blooming in a shady spot beside the road. I couldn’t help but pull over for a closer look. It was a mountain trillium.

I remembered as a child that folks in the hills said the trillium told a beautiful story about God. There is one stem on which rests one flower which has three petals exemplifying the the three persons of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The Apostle Paul acknowledged the three persons of the Trinity when he prayed,The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:14, MSG). 

IMG_1264The beautiful white of the flower represents the sinless nature of Jesus, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. He took our sins to the cross that we might be saved. “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV). Near the pure white flower of the first trillium that I saw was another trillium. It had streaks of red across the white petals. It reminded me that it was the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary that washed away my sin. The words of an old hymn by James Nicholson echoed through my heart: Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow. Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” 

As I was preaching the final service of the revival, a young man in the congregation intently fixed his eyes on me throughout the service. He strained to hear every word. At the end of the message, I extended the invitation to come to the altar to seek the Lord. He came quickly and ask the Lord to forgive his sins and set him free from the drug addiction that was destroying him. In the twinkling of an eye, he was able to experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit”.

That night, with spirit eyes, I saw a beautiful mountain trillium push its head through the darkness of sin and bloom by the altar of a small country church.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

~ Brother Roy

What’s on Your Mind?

whats on your mindOur conversations are often peppered with phrases that refer to a person’s state of mind. Someone may ask, “What’s on your mind?” or, “What was his frame of mind?” We regularly make comments like, “I wonder what he was thinking?” Our mindset or state of mind colors most everything we do.

Scripture identifies three mindsets or mental states:

  • A Reprobate Mind. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient”  (Romans 1:28, NKJV). The dictionary definition of reprobate includes words like unprincipled, immoral, and degenerate. People with a reprobate mind are inclined to sin. They are selfish, self-centered, and focused on what they want, not what God wants.
  • A Double Mind. The Apostle James states, A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8, NKJV).  James encourages people to, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8, NKJV). Double-minded people want to serve God, but they also want to please themselves. A double-minded person tries to serve two masters. However, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24, NKJV).
  • The Mind of Christ. As Christians mature, they are expected to cultivate the mind of Christ. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, NKJV). The world will try to confuse us, “But we have the mind of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:16b). In light of scripture, true believers need to make a natural progression away from a reprobate mind. Then, we need to move past double-mindedness and arrive at the mind of Christ.

May I ask, “What is your mindset?” Our mindset determines our eternal destiny. God’s word says, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, RSV).

Prayer: Lord I want to “be renewed in the spirit of my mind(Ephesians 4:23, NKJV). I want the mind of Christ to dwell in me.

~ Brother Roy

Weeds

weedsSpringtime in Kentucky is a most beautiful time of year. The greening pastures on the horse farms are checker-boarded with white rail fences and dotted with sleek yearling thoroughbreds. It’s a sight to behold. The hill country comes alive with the color of redbud, dogwood, and tulip poplar trees. Wildflowers of various tints and hues paint the forest floors and pastures. My heart sings:

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth over and around us lies.

For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light.

Christ, our Lord, to you we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise!
 (Folliott Sandford Pierpoint)

At this point, I wish to interject a familiar phrase used by the late Paul Harvey, “Now, the rest of the story”. Along with the beauty of a spring comes issues in the flower beds around my house. The loose and enriched soil in the flower beds provides a nurturing place for flowers, but it’s also a conducive place for ‘weeds’ to grow and flourish. It’s hard work dealing with the weeds.

This spring I gave due diligence to the flower beds in front of the house. But, because of abundant spring rains and the difficulty of navigating a steep driveway, it had been some time since I had worked in the flower beds in the back. Those beds contain mostly perennials so I wasn’t overly concerned. When I finally went to check, what a surprise! There were weeds taller than the flowers and unwanted tree seedlings had also shot up about three feet The problem then became clearing out the weeds and seedlings without uprooting the flowers.

A spiritual corollary comes to mind. Unless the soul, like a flowerbed, is carefully and consistently tended, spiritual weeds take root and begin to spoil the beauty of a Christian life. Spiritual weeds left unchecked will choke out growth in grace and not allow fruits of the spirit to be produced. Scripture takes note of the problem:

  • Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
  • Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away” (Matthew 13:24-25, NKJV).
  • Others are like the seed planted among the thorny weeds. They hear the teaching, but the worries of this life, the temptation of wealth, and many other evil desires keep the teaching from growing and producing fruit in their lives” (Mark 4:18-19, NCV).

Weeding is hard and tiring work but necessary if we want to enjoy the flowers. So it is in our spiritual lives if the beauty of Jesus is to be seen in us. We certainly must weed the conspicuous places, but we must not forget the weeds that are out of our sight line or around back.

Good Advice: “We must not become tired of doing good (weeding). We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up(Galatians 6:9).

~ Brother Roy