What Is “Is”?

isWhen a former U.S. president was being interviewed about a sexual relationship with a staffer, the following response was given: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. … Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true” (Slate, 9/13/1998).

Although the former President was evasive in his explanation of the simple word ‘is’, there is little room for misinterpretation of the word in Romans 16:23. Without the slightest equivocation, God’s word leaves no doubt about the use of the word ‘is’. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. The result of sin is now, has always been, and will always be death and separation from God and all that is good.

The proclamation that “the wages of sin is death” must be some of the saddest words ever spoken. Were it not for the second half of the verse, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” we, of all creatures, would be most miserable. The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ assures us that we don’t have to die in our sin. The reality of eternal life through Jesus can be ours, if we choose to receive it.

What does the word ‘is’ mean to you? Does it mean eternal life, or does it mean the dread of death? Hear God‘s clear words on the matter: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:17-19). If I were to ask you personally, “Is the gift of eternal life yours?” what would your response be?

“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:37, ESV)

~ Brother Roy


Sam and the Saw

6047e67cbbf34bd9ad6c2155d18ff899-sam-powdrill266My friend Sam Powdrill is an amazing man. I first met Sam at Tenwek Hospital in the highlands of Kenya. Sam was utilizing his many skills in ministry at this renowned World Gospel Mission hospital. Time will permit me to mention only a few of Sam’s contributions there. He was a skilled eye surgeon and established Tenwek’s Eye Clinic. In a place that exacted a toll on essential motor vehicles, he was the compound’s auto mechanic. Who would have believed there would be a skilled ‘piano tuner’ in such a remote a place – it was Sam. He assisted in developing a process so the hospital could produce its own I.V. fluid rather than bringing it from long distances away. He helped design and fabricate a vehicle to serve as a mobile eye clinic to reach into remote areas. He developed his own microscope that is critical to his surgical procedures. Believe me, I could go on!

Because of space constraints, I want to focus on one of the most unusual skills I’ve ever witnessed. Sam plays a ‘saw’. With an old hand saw and a violin bow, Sam can make beautiful music. He holds the saw handle between his knees with the blade in a vertical position. He grips the top of the blade and uses the right amount of pressure to slightly bend the blade. Drawing the violin bow across the blade, Sam is able to produce the lovely melodies of beloved hymns. With the message of these great spiritual songs, Sam shares his testimony of God’s amazing grace. It is truly a ‘soul stirring’ concert, resonating God’s glory.

Sam’s primary desire is to use his God-given abilities to restore sight. Cataracts, trachoma, and other vision maladies have yielded to Sam’s brilliant surgical skills. Using his self-designed microscope and precision surgical instruments, Sam has restored sight to thousands of people in Kenya and other mission fields around the world. Also, and perhaps even more importantly, Sam has used ‘the Carpenter’s saw’ to help restore sight to multitudes of the spiritually blind.

Sam has placed his God-given abilities, great and small, into the Lord’s hands. He serves as an inspiration to us all. Do you have a hidden talent you should place at the Lord’s disposal? I thank God for Sam’s desire to use all of his skills to restore sight to blind eyes.

P.S. – Sam now resides in Wilmore, Kentucky. He teaches at the University of Kentucky and regularly leads teams of Doctors and Medical Students to third world communities to do Eye Clinics. He is still about the Father’s business of restoring sight to the blind.

~ Brother Roy

Happy Camper

happy camperWhen people ask me how I’m doing, I usually always say, “I am a happy camper.” For me that phrase is not a just a cliché. It is my ‘state of the union’ response. I realize that I am a creature of volitional choice. I have been endowed by the Creator with enough intelligence to make choices about how I react to life’s circumstances, whatever they may be. I can be mad, sad, depressed, and etc. On the other hand, I can choose to be happy, at peace, and hopeful in the Lord.

I am ‘happy’ –  “…for I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11b-13). The Apostle Paul also tell young Timothy, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). We may not be able control the vicissitudes of life that surround us, but we can with deal with those things with “the joy of the Lord” as our strength.

I am a ‘camper’ – Campers dwell in temporary shelters. We need to know that this physical body, in which our eternal spirit dwells, is like the camper’s tent. It is only temporary. It will soon be taken down and folded, and we will move to a new place. We may, by the grace of God, go to the place that Jesus has prepared for us, eternal in heaven. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). We may be temporary campers here, but we will be permanent residents there. Alleluia!

The word of the Lord encourages us to, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). 

Conclusion: Don’t worry, be happy. The Lord has things under control – now and forever. Choose to be a happy camper.

~ Brother Roy

Crabs Walk Sideways

crab walkSometimes when I first stand up, I may step a little sideways to gain my balance. Recently, as I took that small sidestep, a line from an old song popped into my mind. In 1964, the Smothers Brothers had a hit novelty song titled ‘Crabs Walk Sideways’. The song was about an ill-fated relationship between Herman, a crab, and Sally, a lobster. The course of the song notes, “Crabs walk sideways and lobsters walk straight, and you can’t take a crab for your mate.”

As is often the case, when an extraneous thought comes to my mind, a spiritual corollary may also be triggered. We live in an era when it seems we are trending toward unlikely relationships. With careless disregard, people pursue involvement with people from very diverse backgrounds and at times diametrically opposed ideologies. A person may offer an anecdotal instance in such cases of a successful and harmonious relationship developing that endures. But, in general, such relationships normally tend to friction, dissonance, and collapse. A classic example is a young lady coming from a loving Christian home who becomes involved with a young man of dubious moral character and a dysfunctional family. That is often a prescription for disaster. In fifty plus years of ministry, I have witnessed an unending chain of broken hearts, broken homes, and broken children resulting from ill-conceived relationships like that of Herman and Sally.

Our Heavenly Father has given warnings against such relationships from His early dealing with the people in the Old Testament (see Deuteronomy 7). Examples of Sampson and Solomon serve to underscore the point. The warnings continued into the New Testament. The Apostle Paul provides clear teaching on the matter in his letter to the Church at Corinth: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

I am painfully aware that the proposition advanced in this devotional is not a popular one in the social climate of today. It rubs people the wrong way.  But no matter how respectful, sweet, or loving an unbelieving partner is, if they are at odds with Christ – they are in rebellion.

Psychologists, social engineers, and those influenced by them, give considerable ‘blow-back’ about what they deem as outdated conservative religious beliefs. All of this opposition comes in the face of ever-increasing divorce rates, exploding incidents of domestic violence, dysfunctional families, child abuse, broken homes, and social disintegration. These things appear to be amplified as we pursue ‘relationships without borders’.

My response to those who challenge my faith in the teaching of God’s word is this: “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:3-4). I choose to follow God’s word.

With the passing years, the worms will eat the yellowed pages of a multitude of the erudite social engineers of our day, but the word of God will still be true and the Bible will continue to be the world’s ‘Best Selling Book’.

~ Brother Roy

Wonderful or Wonderfaux?

FauxRecently, I was driving thru a shopping area of town when a small commercial truck turned in front of me. The signage on the side of the truck read ‘Truly Wonderfaux’. Before I could take a second look, the truck had disappeared from view. If the purpose of the marquee was to attract attention, and in my case it certainly did. I wondered if the company really wanted to advertise that its product was a fake, an imitation.

I thought of another similar personal incident.  Several years ago, I was traveling with my son-in-law, Rich, in Shanghai, China. It was my first time there, but as an international business man, he was a frequent visitor to China. While we were in Shanghai, Rich took me to a very large building called the ‘Fake Market’. Everything in the complex was a ‘knockoff’ – a fake. There were Rolex watches, Gucci purses, Nike clothing, etc. The ‘hawkers’ of merchandise acknowledged that the stuff was not genuine. Then they would try to convince you that their wares were just as good as the real name brands and were probably made by the same factories. For their low price, you could look good and no one would ever know the difference.

The situations mentioned here have their counterparts in the spiritual world. It should be of no real surprise to those who really want to see. Scripture says, And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (1 Corinthians 11:14, NKJV). The enemy of our soul is the father of lies, the master of deception, and the wizard of faux. There is only One who is “Truly Wonderful”, and that is Jesus Christ. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV). Any one or anything else that is not of Christ is simply wonderfaux.

Only Biblical truth can really be trusted. The Laws of God, which Jesus Christ came to fulfill, are the only true rules for living. We can put on faux righteousness and for a time no one will know the difference, but in the end we shall stand in the presence of the One who is “Truly Wonderful”. He alone is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6, NKJV). Faux righteousness will be as ‘filthy rags’ before Him. At Judgment all will know the difference between Wonderful and wonderfaux. 

Prayer: I want to be “Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne” (Edward Mote).

~ Brother Roy

Where Are You Going?

rearviewA recent column in the newspaper made an interesting observation: There is a reason why the rear view mirror in your car is much smaller than the windshield. Where you are going is more important than where you have been.” I paused my newspaper scan for a few moments to reflect on the statement.

The Apostle Paul’s words came to mind, “…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV). The wisdom of this scripture has been a guiding principle for me across the years.

While past experiences may have helped shape who we are today, we must not be a prisoner to yesterday. We need to leave behind past failures and fears that cloud the possibility of future successes. We must not dwell on negative memories. Herman Melville wrote, “Those who are solely governed by the past stand like Lot’s wife, crystallized in the act of looking backward, and forever incapable of looking before”  (White Jacket).

We need to move ahead! We ought to be “reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”  A Cherokee Indian Proverb says, “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” Each day, we can build on previous accomplishments and positive relationships. They are foundational experiences for future success. Every day lived successfully in Christ gives us confidence for tomorrow. Scripture assures the forward-looking soul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV)

 Are you a ‘rear view’ person or a ‘windshield’ person ?

~ Brother Roy

The Forerunner

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20, NKJV)

anchorThe word “forerunner”, used here in the Book of Hebrews, is a nautical term. The particular word, prodromos, is one that appears nowhere else in Scripture, but has to do with a familiar scene in the ancient world.  Louis Talbot explains:

“The Greek harbors were often cut off from the sea by sandbars, over which the larger ships dared not pass till the full tide came in. Therefore, a lighter vessel, a prodromos or “forerunner”, took the anchor and dropped it in the harbor.  From that moment the ship was safe from the storm, although it had to wait for the tide before it could enter the harbor. The entrance of the small vessel into the harbor, the forerunner carrying the ship’s anchor, was the pledge that the ship would safely enter the harbor when the tide was full.  And because Christ, our “forerunner,” has entered heaven itself, having torn asunder everything that separates the redeemed sinner from the very presence of God, He Himself is the Pledge that we, too, shall one day enter the harbor of our souls and the very presence of God in the New Jerusalem”. (Talbot’s Studies in the Epistle to the Hebrews, p 23.)

Likewise, there are other accounts of some early ships having a powerful swimmer on board who was called the forerunner. In similar situations as noted above, the forerunner would swim ashore carrying a very light strong coil of twine attached to a heavy cable on board. Once on shore, the forerunner would pull the much heaver cable or rope to shore and secure it. Again, the ship was safe until the tide would allow the it to enter the harbor.

A beautiful old hymn declares:

The song of my soul, since the Lord made me whole,
Has been the old story so blest,
Of Jesus, who’ll save whosoever will have
A home in the “Haven of Rest”.

(“Haven of Rest” – Henry Gilmore, 1890)

Jesus Is Our Forerunner!

~ Brother Roy