Life Boat Drill

life boat drillI was in a state of semi-consciousness on the deck of a cruise ship. The warmth of the sun and the gentle rocking of the ship had lulled me into a state of near oblivion. Then, the blaring and slightly obnoxious voice of the ship’s captain interrupted my peaceful repose. “There will be a mandatory Life Boat Drill in fifteen minutes!”

At first I was mildly irritated, then reason slowly prevailed. The drill was for my own safety and protection. Being unprepared could be disastrous. The same thing may be said of the Lord’s counsel in the spiritual realm. We need to be prepared if an ‘all-out’ emergency besets us; however, it is not mandatory for us to be ready for the eventualities of life. Although a preparedness check is not compulsory, a loving Lord does admonish us to use our free will to check our readiness.

From the Old Testament, I would call your attention to two verses;

  • First, the words from the Book of Lamentations (3:40) expresses God’s urging, “Let us search out and examine our way, and turn back to the Lord.” If we have forgotten His directions, we need to turn back to them.
  • Secondly, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart…” (Deuteronomy 4:9, NIV). Survival instructions are too important to be left to chance.

 Words from the New Testament likewise echo God’s concern that we be prepared for possible future emergencies;

  • 2 Corinthians 13:5 implores us to, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves”.
  • Again in Galatians 6:4, God’s gives these words of caution, “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another”.

The wisdom of Solomon is reflected in the following proverb; “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (Proverbs 27:3, NLT).

Conclusion: From time to time it is a good idea to have a spiritual Life Boat Drill.  Our eternal life could be a stake.

~ Brother Roy

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A Broken Clock

broken clockOur discussions over morning coffee at Fitch’s Store cover a host of subjects. The name of a person known to most everybody at the store came up one morning in conversation. One of the fellows said, “You have to hunt for the good in him, but it is there. Remember, even a broken clock is right twice a day.” It reminded me that it is so important for us to look for the good in people, not just the bad.

In our modern world the divide between ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’, between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ stirs deep emotions – so deep that much of the rhetoric becomes myopic and irrational. Campaigns often resort to ‘digging up dirt’ on the other side. People are demonized and portrayed as all bad – evil in intent and action. How sad!

From the political arena, that mindset has infiltrated other areas of our lives. Negativity around us abounds, lowering the moral climate of our culture. I have often heard this truism expressed, ‘There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it behooves us all not to talk about the rest of us.’ An internet search proved inconclusive as to the origin of the quote; nevertheless, it purveys great wisdom. Oh, that we might apply that truth today.

That morning at the store, I was reminded of my personal situation when Jesus Christ found me. I was sin-stained and unworthy, yet He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs. God’s word says, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, NKJV). That reminder was truly humbling.

May I ask, “What do you think the Lord sees when He looks at you?” It is likely far different than what you see in yourself. Go to Him. Ask Him to show you what He sees as He looks at you. “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV). When Christ comes into your life, you see yourself and others differently.

Prayer: Lord, help me to look for the good in people. Even as you looked beyond my flaws and failures, may I look for virtue and worth in others. May I see others as You see them.

~ Brother Roy

Worth Your Salt

salt_of_the_earthSalt has been a valuable commodity across the ages and across cultures. The word salary comes from an ancient word meaning “salt-money”. Part of a Roman soldier’s pay was an allowance for the purchase of salt. I have heard people say about someone who is lethargic and doesn’t earn their pay, “They are not worth their salt.”

To the people of Jesus’ day, salt was an important and precious commodity. So, when Jesus told His disciples that they were “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13), He meant that believers have great value in this world and are to have a preserving and enhancing influence.

In light of the value of salt, the words our Lord recorded in Mark 9:50 become most significant: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another.” The words speak primarily of the inward grace, of which the salt is the symbol, that alone makes people what they ought to be – “the salt of the earth”.

The words of Jesus, noted in the second half Matthew 5:13, should claim our attention: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

Do you have good salt within yourself? Are you living as the salt of the earth? It is not optional, if we are to be followers of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, may we truly be “the salt of the earth”. Our desire is to possess that grace that preserves and enhances the life of those around us.

~ Brother Roy

Sun Screen and Son Screen

sunscreenIn the physical world there are often tangible things that have a counterpart in the spiritual world. There is the bread we eat, and there is the ‘Bread of Life’ (John 6:48). There is the water we drink, and there is the ‘Water of Life’ (John 7:38). Again, there is light, and there is the ‘Light of The World’ (John 8:12). In the same manner, I propose to you that there is ‘Sun’ Screen and then there is ‘Son’ Screen.

In my younger years, I spent many happy hours working, playing, and just hanging out in the bright sun. I tanned easily and seldom got a sunburn. The passing of years has brought about a major change in my time in the sun. Health problems have necessitated a regimen of medication that carries side effects. Now, I must avoid any significant exposure to bright sunlight. When I need to be out and about in the sun, I must wear a protective ‘sun screen’.

There is a spiritual corollary here. Unfortunately, there are things in life that can screen out the the Son of God, the Light of Life. His light is essential to eternal life. The great ‘Son’ blocker is sin. Sin darkens and sickens the soul. Until personal responsibility for sin is acknowledged, confessed, and forgiven, the light of Christ cannot shine into a life. Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23).  

The sin that screens out the Light of the Lord manifests itself in many forms. The list I offer is not meant to be exhaustive, but simply illustrative: unbelief, doubt, self-centeredness, pride, bad companions, seeking the pleasures of sin, sexual immorality, covetousness, dishonesty, and the list could go on. Now, for the good news of the gospel, “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 1:9). With our sins forgiven, there is no longer a Son screen. We are free to spend our days working, playing, and hanging out in the ‘Light of the Son’. 

Prayer: Lord, be “my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1). May there be nothing in my life that screens out the Son.

~ Brother Roy

Optional Equipment

spareI was troubled some years ago when car manufacturers quit including a spare tire as standard equipment on a new car. Instead, the true spare was replaced by the so-called ‘donut’ which is a cheap little thing you hope will get you to a service center. If I was upset by the absence of a spare tire, imagine my dismay when I accidentally discovered my newest car didn’t even have a ‘donut’!

I was made aware of my predicament when a man at an auto service center crawled out from under my nearly new car and said, “Did you know you don’t have a spare?” When I responded that I knew my car was only equipped with a donut, he said, “No. No. There is no donut in the holder where it should be.”

I called the dealer where I purchased the car and was basically told, “You should have read the fine print.” My car had been provided with little more than an aerosol can of ‘fix-a-flat’. I was told a ‘donut’ is now considered optional equipment! I asked, “What if I have a blow-out?” Answer: “Guess you are in trouble.”

There are many things in the physical world that have a counterpart in the spiritual realm. There is a term in use in the spiritual domain today called “cheap grace”. It refers to a faux religious experience that costs little, if anything, in terms of commitment, devotion, or service to the Lord and fellowman. These things – including Bible reading, prayer, involvement with a body of believers, and giving financially to help win the lost to God – are considered optional. Everything seems alright until suddenly a dreadful event happens, and you are not prepared to deal with it. It’s like having a blow out at night on a lonely highway. Only then do you discover there is no spare. All that can be said is, “I guess you are in trouble”.

May I suggest to any among us who may be living in a state of ‘cheap grace’ that we check our readiness for the unexpected. Scripture implores us to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV). Hear the words of Jesus: “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:23-25, NKJV). It costs something to be a disciple.

Strong faith is not optional if we want to safely arrive in Heaven.

~ Brother Roy

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