Devilish Deception

devilAn advertisement for an up-coming movie featured a fascinating ‘tag line’.  Scenes in the preview feature demonic caricatures in a horrific venue. One of the grotesque beings was dominating other fiendish creatures. He shouted, “I’d rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.”  (The quote is actually a slight corruption of a line from John Bunyan’s Paradise Lost.)

In recent years, there seems to be a major increase in the number of ‘horror’ films on T.V. and in theaters. Violence, fear, death, and suffering draw viewers, for reasons beyond my comprehension. People pay to have their minds flooded with images of anarchy and mayhem. As eyes drink in blood, gore, and mutilation, ears tingle with screams of terror and moans of the dying.

The filmmakers glamorize these hellish arenas. Minds grows numb to the disgusting and the vile. People tend to reduce the reality of an actual Hell to movie ‘make-believe’. A devilish, mind blinding deception takes place. Folks soon dismiss the truth that, “There is Heaven to gain and Hell to shun.”

Oh, how people need to know that Hell is real. Jesus said that it is a place of “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). In Luke 16, Jesus, the One true source, describes the actual nature of Hell as a place of eternal torment, flames, suffering, and with no escape. Scripture speaks of the deceit by the enemy of our souls as he attempts to hide the horrible reality of Hell.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). 

Anyone tempted to emulate the aforementioned demonic personage and say, “I’d rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven,” should heed this warning: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap(Galatians 6:7). This is a spiritual law that God put in place, and it affects everyone, whether they follow Christ or not. God’s immutable word says, And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). God incontrovertibly declares, And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night,” (Revelation 14:11).

 “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10)

~ 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

If I Go…

phil 1.21There is the story of an older man on his death bed. His family had gathered around to comfort him and heard him say, “If I go, I’ll be with Jesus; if I stay, He will be with Me”. In the most basic of words, the old gentleman echoed the sentiments of the Apostle Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 KJV).

I sat beside my wife’s bed in the Cardiac Critical Care Unit at the hospital. She had suffered a heart attack and had a blood clot in the left ventricle of her heart. Systems were failing and shutting down. Feeding tube, picc-line, other IV’s, catheter, oxygen, and more filled the area around her bed. She was in pain and deep distress, virtually unable to hear or speak.

She clung to life over the next several days as my family and I hung onto her. Somewhere during one of those dark nights, I reached a resolve. She was in the Lord’s hands. “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:20). Medical science can go so far and no farther. Now, I had to wholly trust the Lord. This I knew, “Everything he does is good! He even heals people who cannot hear or talk” (Mark 7:37, CEV).

A peace, not as the world gives, came to me from Jesus (John 14:27). If she goes ahead, she will be with Jesus and if she stays here and recovers, He will be with her. Against all odds, she began to improve. Days passed, she made steady progress and was finally able to return home. She stayed ‘here’ and He truly has been and is with her.

What a terrifying thought to walk into the valley of the shadow of death without the ‘Lord of Life’ by your side. May I ask: “When, in a split second, your life teeters on the brink, is your relationship with Jesus such that you can say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”?” 

The words of the great Hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”, bring peace and comfort:

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control:
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul.”

~ Brother Roy

A Hymn of Praise

Hymn of Praise
words by Gloria Gaither; music Traditional

Oh, loving Father, by Your grace,
We gather here to seek Your face
And thank You for this family
And hearth and home and loyalty.

Our hearts are full of gratitude –
For work and rest and daily food,
For neighbors kind and faithful friends,
The gifts on which our lives depend.

We even thank You for the pain –
It’s through the losses that we gain
A clear perspective, better view
Of our dependency on You.

We hold all things with open hand –
Our homes, our lives, and this great land.
Our gifts, possessions, and our days,
We lift to You in grateful praise.

Through good and bad we’ve learned to trust
That You are loving, wise and just.
So now with childlike hearts we raise
Our hymn of deepest, highest praise!

Happy Thanksgiving from NHIM!

The Rising Tide

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA number of years ago, my wife and I were leading a ministry team of Asbury University students in Northern Ireland. The venue for our efforts was two sea coast towns on the northeast shore. At times, we would see fishing boats tilted on one side and resting on the bottom of the bay. Passing by at a later hour, we would notice the boats upright and floating well above the floor of the inlet. What had changed the orientation of the fishing boats? It was the tide.

Hailing from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, that was all new to me. There is not much of a tide on Squabble Creek. There is a wise saying among the people along the Irish shore: “The rising tide lifts all boats”.  That saying epitomized the reason we were there.

Northern Ireland was a troubled land at that time. The Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Unionists were literally at war. The youth to whom we were seeking to minister were deeply divided on either side of the conflict. Bombs, bullets, fights, and fires were an almost daily occurrence. Not only were many combatants dying, but numbers of innocent by-standers were also losing their lives in the fray. A sense of hatred and lawlessness pervaded this beautiful land.

How could a handful of young people have any real impact in such a hostile environment? Then a thought stirred my thinking. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Myself.” That’s why we were there. Our prayer was that by lifting Jesus up among these belligerent factions, He would draw them to Himself and then draw them together. The hearts’ desire of our ministry team was that the Prince of Peace would raise these wonderful young people above the conflict. We wanted the words of scripture to penetrate their troubled hearts:

  • How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1, NIV).
  • “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel” (Proverbs 20:3).
  • “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
  • Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:13-15).

Our team was privileged to witness the Lord lift some of the people above the bitterness and strife. In the intervening years, from then until now, much of the conflict has subsided and a sense of hope has settled. If the Lord is lifted up, He is able to do “exceeding abundantly above what we think or ask”.

“The rising tide lifts all boats.”

~ Brother Roy  

Remembering Our Friend, Gary Bailey

Our friend and brother in Christ, Gary Bailey, went to Heaven on Wednesday morning of this week.  In his memory, we are re-posting the following article from our web archives in 2012 about how Gary used his gifts to advance God’s Kingdom.  Thank you, Gary, for your faithfulness.

gary 3A Pen

“ Take a large scroll and write on it with a man’s pen…”  Isaiah 8:1

In this unusual scripture, orders were given to the prophet to write a prophecy to be read by all men. The prophet was to write on a large scroll with a man’s pen. He was to use the pen to make clear, ordinary letters that the humblest could read. The prophet’s words ‘a man’s pen’ serve as a focal point for this article.

gary 1

Gary Bailey is a good friend with whom I often share morning coffee. He has a great heart for ministry.  Although retired, he is very involved in serving the Lord. He participates in a jail ministry, is a Gideon, and is actively involved in his local church.  Gary is also a Kentucky craftsman who creates beautiful writing pens in his workshop. He has turned his skills as a craftsman and his love for time in his workshop into a creative way to financially support mission projects.  Using beautiful native wood and at times exotic wood, he handcrafts writing instruments that are exquisite.

gary 2For the last several years, as I began summer travels preaching camp meetings, revivals, and mission conferences, Gary would give me a display folder of these beautiful pens. In craft stores, these pens would normally sell for $25-$50. Gary gives all of the money donated by people who wish to have one of these beautiful one-of-a-kind writing instruments to our ministry. Many have commented that the pens make wonderful gifts for pastors, business associates, or for someone who ‘has everything’.

I believe the comments of Jesus in Mark 14 have real relevance here. Jesus spoke concerning Mary’s breaking the alabaster box and pouring the contents of very costly oil of spikenard on His head. When some of the indignant disciples criticized her, Jesus responded, “Leave her alone! She has done a beautiful thing for me. She has done what she could.”

Do you want to do something beautiful for the Savior? Like Mary, do what you can.  Ask yourself, What can I do? Do I have talents, skills, or a craft, such as Gary’s, that I could put to use for the Lord’s work? Perhaps you have been overlooking how a hobby, craft, or a resource could be used for ministry.  

Gary has been making pens to help write the Good News on the scrolls of men’s hearts.  Thank you,Gary, for your example as you minister in the Lord’s name.

~ Brother Roy