The Trinity

3 pelicansI was sitting on the porch of the Cottage by the Bay near Mobile, Alabama, enjoying the dawn’s early light. The quiet before the rhythm of the day begins is my favorite time of day. Those peaceful moments help me prepare my heart for unseen events that lie ahead.

Out of the mist, three pelicans flew by. They were gliding silently on the morning air currents. They were flying in tight formation, wingtip to wingtip. If one tilted to the left, in unison the other two followed. Being a deeply religious soul, with about 60 years in the ministry, I see spiritual significance in most everything that surrounds me. This was no exception. These three beautiful winged creations of God brought to my mind the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. My heart began to sing, “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!” (John Dykes – Public Domain).

The Trinity is one of those spiritual concepts that I don’t fully understand. In simple faith however, I relax with the scripture that says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV). 

May I share some of those simple thoughts that I have about the Trinity?

  • At times I need my Heavenly Father. When the storms of life assail, like a child, I cry out for the strong and mighty arm of my Father.
  • At times I need the Son, my Savior and Friend. He gives the assurance that only a trusted friend can provide. He is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV). The precious old hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” never ceases to bless and bring assurance to my heart.
  • At times I need the comfort of the Holy Spirit. How I love the words of the hymn, The Comforter Has Come: “O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found, wherever human hearts and human woes abound; Let every Christian tongue Proclaim the joyful sound: The Comforter has come! The Holy Ghost from Heav’n, The Father’s promise given.”

The 3 Persons of the Trinity flew across the horizon of my soul this morning.

~ Brother Roy

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How Do We Love?

heart perspectie“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (I John 4:16)

I don’t believe that there is any segment of Christianity that would deny the fact that love is a defining element – if not THE defining element – of our faith.  But I’m not sure that all of us are on the same page when it comes to what love is and what it looks like in action.

Love is selfless.  I John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.”  In this, through Christ’s example, we see that love is self-giving.  Jesus taught that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).  And He lived out that ultimate expression of love – sacrificing oneself for the benefit of another.

Because love is selfless, it is best expressed in our relationships with one another.  Paul told the Romans to “be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).  John indicated the selfless nature of love when he admonished believers that if we see someone in need and have the means to help, but we ignore them, then we do not have the love of God in us (I John 3:17). Love is selfless.

Love requires obedience.  In the Upper Room, Jesus told His disciples, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15), and He went on to say that “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (14:23)II John 2:6 tells us, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.” By these instructions we know that love requires obedience.

There is a sort of allergy in our Christian culture to talk of obedience, because when we talk about obedience, it seems to smack of earned salvation or salvation by works.  Make no mistake about it: we cannot earn our salvation through our good works.  There is nothing that we can do that can assure our place in the Kingdom of God.  But Scripture is very clear:  God does command us to love, and love requires obedience.

For too many, love is a feeling – a warm sensation.  But obedience does not always produce such a good feeling.  Sometimes obedience is tough. There may even be times when God’s commands don’t make sense or seem to serve no purpose.  But we obey, because obedience is what love demands.

Evaluating our love  How do we know that we are living in love?  Some time ago Dr. Sam Kamaleson spoke in our Sunday School class at Wilmore Free Methodist Church.  He pointed us to I Corinthians 13:4-7.  He said, as you are assessing your love, look at this paragraph, and every time “love” is the subject, replace it with your name.

{Matt} is patient. (I’m in trouble already!)  {Matt} is kind.  {Matt} does not envy, {Matt} does not boast, {Matt} is not proud.  {Matt} does not dishonor others, {Matt} is not self-seeking, {Matt} is not easily angered, {Matt} keeps no record of wrongs.  {Matt} does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  {Matt} always protects, {Matt} always trusts, {Matt} always hopes, {Matt} always perseveres.

Test yourself with that paragraph, as often as you need to do it.  I think, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll know if those things ring true.  And we’ll know if we are really loving as God would have us love.

~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chair

Ill-Got Amounts to Naught

salesmanA rousing conversation around the coffee table at Fitch’s Store yielded yet another ‘witticism’. We were discussing the deceptive practices of some salespeople. Using misleading information and glib speech, they press to make a sale sometimes at the expense of integrity. Local sage and ‘Carriage Master’ Jerry Allender offered this astute observation: “Ill-got amounts to naught”.

This little morsel of folk wisdom speaks a powerful truth. People who resort to unscrupulous means to gain advantage over others will not prosper over time. While some appear to enjoy ill-gotten gains for the short term, sooner or later there is a price to pay. Numerous scriptures from both Old and New Testaments provide valuable insights:

  • “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death” (Proverbs 21:6, ESV).
  • “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4-5, NIV).
  • “Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors” (Proverbs 1:19, ESV) .
  • “Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death”  (Proverbs 10:2, ESV).
  • “And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15, ESV).

There is likely no other area of human endeavor where real scrutiny must be exercised than finance. The Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy are likely the best known scripture of all concerning money:For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10, NKJV). The highest level of honesty and integrity must be observed in our financial dealings. 

Jesus asks, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, NKJV)

~ Brother Roy

Harley and the Ball

golden ballWe had scarcely got settled into a cottage by Mobile Bay when Harley came over to welcome us. Harley is a Golden Retriever from next door. He is a nice old dog and considers himself to be the unofficial greeter for the B&B where we were staying. Harley is badly crippled. He was injured in an accident playing ball, and his back legs were heavily damaged. For a while he couldn’t walk. Gradually, he has learned to walk again with an uneven gate and a wobble. When he tries to run, he just hops.

After a short meet-and-greet session, Harley disappeared. He came back carrying a yellow tennis ball in his mouth. He wanted to play ball. At that point, his owner asked us to resist throwing the ball, even if Harley persistently begged. She told us, “Harley still wants to play fetch, but he isn’t able.” She was afraid he would hurt himself trying. Poor old Harley, ‘the spirit is willing, but the body is weak’.

We often use that phrase as a rueful admission of weariness or other physical weakness. This idiom was first recorded in the New Testament (Matthew 26:41), where Jesus tells his disciples, “watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I can say that I understand the scripture, and I can relate with Harley more with each passing day. I also identify with Psalm 37:35:I have been young, and now am old.” There are so many things that my mind tells me I can still do, but my body tells a different story.

There is an economy and design in God’s kingdom. There are tasks for the young and also things for the old or physically weak to do. While I may not be able to do many of the physical tasks I’d like to do, I can still “watch and pray”. I can be thankful and pleasant. God’s word says, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him” (Psalm 92:14-15, NIV).

Prayer: Lord, many of us still want to “play ball”. May we bear fruit in our in our times of weakness or in old age. We want to bear spiritual fruit – “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 6:22-23, NKJV).

~ Brother Roy

Block This Caller

block this callerSolicitors and scammers seem to have a way of finding my phone number and ringing me at the most inconvenient time. I am glad for the ‘Block This Caller’ feature on my cell phone. I have the option of blocking further calls.

We have a similar option in the spiritual realm. Our God is a speaking God. Even a cursory review of scripture reveals multiple references of God speaking to man. However, the Lord created humankind with ‘free will’. We are people of volitional choice. We are free moral agents who can ‘Block the Caller’. Our all-wise God speaks to us for our own well-being, but we don’t have to listen.

An Old Testament reference serves as an example: “And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen” (2 Chronicles 33:10). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul points to men’s ability to block God’s attempts to communicate: “And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting” (Romans 1:28, ASV).

Psalm 139:14 says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The wonderful part of our creation is that we were created with free will by our loving Heavenly Father. We are free to choose His offer of love, guidance, and eternal life. Likewise, the fearful part of the way we are made is also our free will. God’s word says, “Today I ask heaven and earth to be witnesses. I am offering you life or death, blessings or curses. Now, choose life! Then you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19, NCV). We are free to listen and receive God‘s gift or free not listen and reject God’s will for our life. We don’t have to listen!  

Prayer: Lord, I want to hear from You. Please help me to listen for your voice. May I never utilize my free will to ‘Block the Caller’.

~ Brother Roy

You Are Here

you are hereDuring a Renewal Conference at our church, Dr. Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary, gave an engaging illustration. When a person enters a shopping mall, they almost immediately encounter a large locator map. A person can then find the location of various stores such as shoe stores, book stores, department stores, etc. Perhaps the most significant point on the map in front of you is the ‘You Are Here’ position. You need to know where you are in order to choose the directions to where you want to go.

Dr. Tennet shared about the ‘fall’ of man in the beginning and later the ‘redemption’ of man through Jesus.  At each juncture, he used the phrase ‘You Are Here’. I thought, What an important concept if we want to accurately chart our journey to heaven.

For example, we must know where we are in order to start the journey.

When you start your journey, You Are Here:

  • “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12.)
  • “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” (Romans 5:19)
  • “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

By realizing where we are, we can then acknowledge our sins and receive forgiveness and justification through Jesus. “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Romans 5:15). 

Once you have received Jesus as your Savior, You Are Here:

  • But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)
  • As you move ahead toward your destination know this: “… 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) 

When you near the end of your life’s journey, You Are Here:

  • Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”  Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:3-6)

 Prayer: Lord, when we finally walk through Heaven’s gates, may we hear you say, “You Are Here”!

~ Brother Roy

Another Way

wise men starWe are just a few steps into the new year. The music of the Christmas season has faded. The trees, tinsel, and yard decorations have been takes down and put away. New Year’s celebrations are over. We are walking into a new year.

With that perspective in mind, scripture from the second chapter of Matthew can serve as a path forward for us. The wise men had seen the light of the Natal Star and followed it to Bethlehem. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). Herod’s murderous intent was revealed to the wise men. “And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way(v.11b). 

The wise men, like the other people on earth, had seen the light of His star. Unlike others that had seen the light, they followed the light to the Christ. Their account reminds us that it’s not the light we see, but the light that we follow that determines our eternal destiny. When they found Jesus, “they fell down, and worshipped him”. These wise men then presented Him gifts representing their most valuable possessions.

If we, like the wise men, have let God’s light bring us into the presence of Christ; if we have bowed our knees and hearts and worshipped Him; if we have presented Him the gift of our life and service, we must not go into the new year without a new direction. We must not move away from the Christmas experience only to return to the same old paths. If we would be wise, we need to journey into the future ‘another way’. When we walk in the newness of life in Christ, we have a precious promise.

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11).

~ Brother Roy