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

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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

In Just a Minute

Big Watch Time Check

Have you ever noticed that not all minutes are the same length? Technically, I suppose they are, but as you experience time in ‘life moments’ maybe not so much. There are times when the minutes seem to fly ‘faster than a weaver’s shuttle’ (Job 7:6). There are other times when the minute hand moves painfully slow. Time appears to stand still, such as in, “So the sun stood still” (Joshua 10:12-14). 

Recently, I experienced both situations in a rather short span of days. The holidays had brought our family together in our daughter’s new home. It was a wonderful time of sharing family love, faith, fellowship, and of course food. In the blink of an eye, the days quickly flew by.

Just a few days later, my wife whose love holds us together had a devastating heart attack. In the Cardiac Critical Care Unit, she struggled to hold on to life. We intently watched the heart monitors and other screens that indicated vital signs. We prayed for something positive. Moments seemed like hours and hours seemed like days. In what felt like time without end, she finally began to show signs of improvement. The long, long night was passing.

Scripture informs us that there is coming a day when time as we know it will end. The Apostle John writes, “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven” and he declared “that there should be time no longer” (Revelation 10:5-6). That day will come to all of us, either at the end of humankind’s sojourn on earth or to us as individuals at our moment of death.

When that moment comes to the child of God, they will then be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). There will be no end to the joy experienced in the Lord’s presence. “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 the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). But, to those who have chosen to reject God’s offer of salvation there is timeless suffering: “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15 NKJV). There they will be with the Devil, “And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10 NKJV).

 Will you take just a minute to see where you are in relationship to Jesus? The Message provides excellent advice: “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it(2 Corinthians 13:5, MSG).

~ Brother Roy

Up, with Help

whiteboardMy wife, Sue, was recovering from a life threatening illness. Although the crisis had passed, the road to recovery would now be measured in small steps each day. There was a medical signboard on the wall across from her hospital bed. Things like names of doctors, nurses, and daily medications were noted there. One new note scrawled in a black marker caught my attention. It read, ‘up with help of one person’. With most of the tubes, I.V.’s, and monitor lines removed, she could now get up with the help of a nurse or aid.

Being a man of personal faith, a smile broke across my face. I understood the meaning intended by the one who wrote the message, but it had a deeper spiritual significance for me. A barrage of prayers by family and friends had been raised to the Lord on Sue’s behalf. While the care of the medical community was important, she was responding to the healing hand of the Lord. She was ‘up with the help of one person’. That one person was Jesus!

We rejoice in the assurance of Peter: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (I Peter 5:6-7, NIV). The Lord certainly was lifting Sue up! He was not only healing of her body, but lifting the anxiety that so often accompanies serious illness and uncertain outcomes.

What a blessing to know that Sue was in the hands of the Lord. What peace it is to rest in God’s sheltering arms. Dottie Rambo’s comforting words express Ms Sue’s testimony:

Prayer of Thanks: Lord, thank You for being the ONE who helps us up.

~ Brother Roy