A Shaker Proverb

shakertownJust down the road from us, near Harrodsburg, Kentucky, is America’s largest restored Shaker village. In 1805, the religious group called the ‘Shakers’ came to central Kentucky and established a village they named Pleasant Hill. The community thrived for a while, but then gradually began to decline. By 1910, Pleasant Hill had closed its doors as an active religious society. In 1961, a remarkable restoration project began at ‘Shakertown’, as it had come to be known. The private corporation that undertook this remarkable venture has made the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill one of the finest historic restorations in the nation.

Over the past half century, I have spent many wonderful hours walking through this incredible restoration, not to mention the marvelous meals I’ve enjoyed at the renowned Shaker Inn Dining Room. I have never lost my awe and admiration for this place. Its quiet avenues and stately buildings remind me of a simpler time and way of life.

The buildings in the village are an amazing testimony to the craftsmanship and ingenuity of those early builders. Their work has stood the test of time. The Shakers lived by a principle or proverb that has had an enduring impact on my life. The proverb, generally stated is this: “Build as if you will live forever; live each day like it’s your last.” The proverb has a Biblical tone. In Romans 14:8, Paul embraces this principle: For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s”.

The Apostle Paul’s word to the Colossians also embodies this Shaker proverb. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24, NKJV). Like the Shakers, we would do well if the tasks that we set our hands to each day are done to the very best of our ability.

“In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.”
(Colossians 3:23, NCV)

~ Brother Roy


Whose Image?

roman coinIn Matthew 22, the Pharisees attempted once again to trick Jesus into saying something wrong. “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk” (v.15, NKJV). The plan was to ask Jesus about paying taxes to the Roman government. If He encouraged the Jews not to pay taxes, they would charge Him with treason against Rome. If He encouraged them to pay taxes to Rome, then the Jews who despised paying taxes to their hated oppressors would turn against Him. The Pharisees said to Jesus, “Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (v.17).

Jesus was aware of their wicked intent and asked them to show Him a coin. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s’. And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (v. 20-21).

Today, we continue to be faced with similar dilemmas. We live in the physical world, but if we are true believers, we are not of the world (John 15:18). We must not allow the world to stamp its image on us. We should render to the world those things that are of the world. However, we are created in the image of God: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26, NKJV). We should give unto God the things that are God’s.

The scripture teaches us that if believers live so much like citizens of the world that people can’t tell the difference, it invites disaster. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4, NKJV). 

If we are to live in peace and harmony with God, we must be committed to Him. We must reflect His likeness. We must exhibit His image. We must not be conformed to the world’s likeness: “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).

I was made in His likeness, created in his image,
For I was born to serve the Lord.
And I cannot deny Him, I will always walk beside Him,
For I was born to serve the Lord.

Bill & Gloria Gather

~ Brother Roy

Left Behind

The Flight of Lot by Rubens

The Left Behind books are a religious fiction series that tells a story of end times (set in the contemporary era), in which true believers in Christ have been “raptured”, (taken instantly to heaven) leaving the world shattered and chaotic. This best-seller fiction series captured the imagination of millions of readers. There is a true Biblical account that carries a similar theme as Tim LaHaye’s imaginary story – it’s is the intriguing account of Lot’s wife in the Book of Genesis.

In one brief dramatic phrase of just 15 words, Lot’s wife is placed among the most well-known women of the world. God had determined to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their manifold wickedness. Earlier, the Lot family, because they were citizens of Sodom, had been taken captive by marauders plundering the wealth of the city. Lot’s wife, along with her husband and children, had been rescued by God’s grace at that time but unwisely returned to the city. Since God is merciful and a God of second chances, He sends messengers to warn the family of impending destruction.

Mrs. Lot reluctantly responded to the ominous warning, but she lingered as if addicted to the opulence of her lifestyle there. Finally, the heavenly messengers had to take her by the hand and lead her out of the city. Outside the city, the messengers issued an irrevocable mandate: “Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed” (Genesis 19:9-10, NKJV).

Some years ago, I stood in the Louvre in Paris where Rubens’ masterpiece, “The Flight of Lot”, is displayed. It depicts Lot’s wife leaving the doomed city. To her, one of the angels is speaking the solemn warning. She is followed by her two daughters. One of the daughters leads a donkey loaded with splendid vessels filled with silver and gold. The other carries containers filled with lush fruit. Lot’s wife clasps her hands and looks beseechingly into the face of the warning angel. It’s a mind-riveting picture.

Then come those brief, dramatic words to which I referred earlier: “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26, KJV). Oh, those revealing words, “from behind”. She was following along behind, and then she was finally left behind, forever. Are you keeping up? Scripture instructs us to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NKJV). If you are not progressing and growing in the faith, you are falling behind. Don’t get left behind!

Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32)

~ Brother Roy

Umbrella Faith

umbrellaOnce, an entire village decided to pray for rain.  On the day of prayer all the villagers gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella. That’s faith on the part of the boy. 

Scripture says; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  Faith is the sense that beyond and behind the visible there is an invisible. By faith alone we are sure of eternal things and that they really ARE!

The “things hoped for” are not mere figments of the imagination; their basis is the word of God. By hope we are confident that we shall have them. All Christian hope presupposes faith (Romans 8:25).

The “evidence” or awareness of things not seen is convincing proof to the believer. It is the way the soul is able to see what the eye cannot see. “By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of His divine being. So nobody has a good excuse” (Romans 1:19, MSG).

In the age in which we live, everyone wants a scientific explanation, hard data, test results, etc. Most people place little confidence in anything that cannot be empirically validated. The true believer recognizes that there are two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. Of the two, the spiritual is the one that ultimately matters.

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” (2 John 2:17, MSG).

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7, KJV)

~ Brother Roy

Before You Were Born

before-you-were-bornA little boy stared into his mother’s eyes and asked, “How did you know my name was Timmy when I was born?”. That line appeared in a cartoon in our local newspaper. It triggered these thoughts for me. I believe God is ‘omniscient’ – all knowing. He knew me before I was born. God’s word says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:16, NLT). How amazing to think that of the several billion people on earth, God knows me. He can call me by name.

The Psalmist states, “He counts the stars. He calls them all by name” (Psalm 147:4).

Wow! Think about it. Scientists estimate there are anywhere from 100-400 billion stars in our galaxy. With the aid of the Hubble Telescope that now orbits the earth, scientists have estimated there are over 2 trillion galaxies the size of ours. It is mind numbing to consider that He calls all the stars by name.

Not only does God call the stars by name, but He can call us by name. Scripture has many examples of God calling individual people by their name, starting with Adam (Genesis 3:9), on to Hagar (Genesis 21:17), and then God says to Moses, “I know thee by name(Exodus 33:17). Again and again, the Father calls people by their name.

How wonderful to know that the Lord knows me, knows my name, and loves me. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!(Psalm 139:6).

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.

~ Brother Roy

Light: A Powerful Disinfectant

uv-light“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)

Light is a powerful disinfectant. For more than a hundred years medical science has known of the incredible disinfecting strength of light, especially ultraviolet wavelengths. Bacteria and other bio-contaminates often thrive in an absence of bright light. These infection-causing pathogens yield to the antiseptic power of light.

In our spiritual lives, there is a corresponding or analogous principal. The light of Christ can cleanse us from the sin and contamination we encounter in the world around us. Scripture teaches us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, ESV).  Exposure to the Light that comes from reading God’s word, from listening to gospel preaching, and from fellowship with other believers all act as disinfectants for our souls.

  • “This is the message we have heard from Him, and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses (keeps on cleansing us) from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7, ESV)
  • The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall(Psalm 27:1-2, ESV)

Come to the Light, it’s shining for thee.
Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see.
The Light of the world is Jesus.
(Philip Bliss)

~ Brother Roy

Self-Esteem or Delusion

selfieAs I get older, I find it increasingly difficult to keep up with trends, fads, and even vocabulary. I find myself floundering in a sea of jargon like ‘selfies’ and other euphemistic terms for narcissistic traits. So many people seem to find it necessary to constantly take pictures of themselves in various poses and situations then post them on social media. Is it that they have such low self-esteem that this ‘selfie’ stuff artificially boosts their confidence and egos?

As an old timer, I still enjoy the ‘comics’ in my local printed newspaper. This recent cartoon panel featured a radio talk show host responding to a caller in a manner that certainly resonated with me:

delusion self esteem

What a truism this is, “Delusion is the new self-esteem.”

While a selfie taken with a smart phone is a relatively new phenomenon, narcissism is as old as self-absorbed people have been around. How sad! Scripture speaks to this preoccupation with self, ‘For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3, NKJV). The Greek word huperphroneó used here by Paul means to be overly proud, to have high thoughts.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
(Philippians 2:3)

~ Brother Roy