Flash Flood Warning

flash flood warningWe had been experiencing an unusually high number of summer thunder storms. We were under a weather pattern that produced storms with heavy rainfall day after day. Amounts of three, four, and even five inches were occurring daily. Severe weather warnings sounded several times a day on various media outlets.

Of special concern in our area of ministry in mountains of Eastern Kentucky was the possibility of flash floods. Emergency notifications urged people in low lying areas to move to higher ground. What a wonderful thing it is to receive advance warning of potential disaster. Unfortunately, numerous reports occurred of people who failed to heed to warnings. Valuable possessions and lives were lost.

Because of His great love for us, the Heavenly Father has given us more than ample warnings of the disastrous impact of sin on our lives:

  • “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20, NKJV).
  • “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NKJV).
  • “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NKJV).

Not only did God give us abundant warnings, He gave us His only Son to rescue us from the destruction of sin. We don’t have to perish in the dark waters of iniquity.

When people exercise their free will to live in the low-lying areas of sin and indifference to God’s laws, catastrophe is eminent. Jesus gave us a clear message in advance of the floods of judgment: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27, NKJV).

Words from Johnson Oatman, Jr.’s hymn “Higher Ground” ring in my heart:

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

~ Brother Roy

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A Box of Rocks

box o rocksAt morning coffee with friends at Fitch’s Grocery, the language can be colorful and descriptive. Idiomatic phrases abound. Someone recently referred to an acquaintance as being “dumber than a box of rocks”. We all chuckled and gave a slight nod of affirmation.

The connectivity in my brain at times seems to defy logic. Somehow that day, my thoughts jumped from “a box of rocks” to a fun church youth group chorus. I started singing, under my breath:

Ain’t no rock, gonna cry in my place!
As long as I’m alive I’ll glorify his holy name.
Ain’t no rock, gonna cry in my place!
As long as I’m alive I’ll glorify his holy name.
Ain’t no tree gonna wave its branches!
As long as I’m alive I’ll glorify His holy name.
(by LaMarquis Jefferson)

My next mental connection linked to an incident in the Biblical account of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem during the passion week. “Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”  But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:37-40, NKJV). 

The next connection with scripture then came to mind: “For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12, NKJV).

I know that folks have probably said about me, “He’s dumber than a box of rocks.” I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I am smart enough to “rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works I have seen.” He has forgiven my sins, He has saved me, and He has given me the gift of eternal life. He has given me a hope and a future. Therefore, “Ain’t no rock gonna cry in my place” and “Ain’t no tree gonna wave its branches in my place’. How about you? Do you praise Him for all He’s done for you? If not, you should.

If we keep silent, the stones will cry out in our place.

~ Brother Roy

Say Something Nice

niceIt was late afternoon and I was riding with my daughter to pick up Ben, my youngest grandson. When we arrived at Little Lambs Pre-school, my daughter went inside to sign Ben out. She was gone a little longer than I anticipated. As they returned to the car, it was obvious that things were not well between Ben and his mother. There had been a ‘little’ problem with Ben at Little Lambs.

Lori was visibly upset as she buckled Ben into his car seat and started home. Whenever we stopped, Lori would turn around with a wagging finger and lecture him about his behavior. After several brief negative interludes, Ben interrupted his mother and said, “Mommy, my teacher at Little Lambs said, if you can’t say something nice about somebody you shouldn’t say anything at all”. I tried to muffle my laughter to no avail. The mood in the car lightened appreciably. Ben won that round.

‘Out of the mouths of babes’ is a phrase used when a child has just said something that seems very wise or clever. The event with Ben illustrates the point. The etymology of the phrase can be traced to Psalm 8:2, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength …” (KJV).

I have often referenced Ben’s wisdom when involved in conversations with people who unleash negative barrages against folks that I may or may not know. A couple of scripture verses not only affirm Ben’s practical advice, but add to it.

  • “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6, NIV).
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV).

Prayer: Lord, as I engage people today, let my conversations be full of grace and helpful. Help me build people up and encourage them. Let me follow Ben’s advice and: ‘Say Something Nice’.

~ Brother Roy

Beware of Calumny

calumnyOccasionally, a new word appears in print and captures my attention.  It is as if the Lord is trying to call something to my attention. Such a word is ‘calumny’. It occurred in a newspaper article about a priest’s alleged abuse of a boy. When the Pope was made aware of it, he responded to the report by saying it was calumny.

A little research provided the following explanation of the term. Calumny: making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone’s reputation; slander, defamation, vilification. For me It was a new term for an old concept.

Calumny is rampant in the world in which we live. ‘Fake news’, meant to hurt or defame a person, is presented as true. It is often accepted as true with little effort to validate or corroborate the information. Lives and reputations have been ruined by false or unsubstantiated statements. All areas of our daily lives are subject to this problem. Unfortunately, it is also true in the religious realm.

Our traditional Christian faith is under attack. Critics rail against the concept of spiritual absolutes. The virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, and the resurrection are portrayed as non-essentials. Inerrancy and infallibility of scripture are scorned. Many religious leaders scoff at Biblical doctrines of Judgment and Hell.

This is not a new phenomenon. At the dawn of human life on earth, Adam and Eve succumbed to the calumny of Satan. “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:3-4). This strategy of Satan should not be a surprise. “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44, NKJV). From the beginning, Satan has called into question the integrity and truthfulness of God.

Wise words: “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world” (1 John 4:1, MSG).

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, NKJV).

~ Brother Roy

A Sour Stomach

sour stomachAs a boy, I would hear my grandmother refer to indigestion as a ‘sour stomach’. At times, the phrase would also be incorporated into a colloquial expression about a person’s attitude. The saying was, “When you have a sour stomach, none of the food on the table looks good.”

Our outlook on situations in our lives tints how we see the world. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15).

A positive attitude is a major factor in living successfully. When we are focused on the positive aspects of our life, we can find joy and peace even in adverse circumstances. Paul give this advice, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NKJV). Life is better when our outlook is optimistic.

When our outlook on life is ‘sour’, everything seems tainted and distasteful. Part ‘b’ of Paul’s words in Titus 1:15 conveys this principle: “but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled”. A negative attitude is like wearing dirty glasses – the world tends to look dim and soiled. A sour stomach even makes good dishes look unappealing.

We can keep a positive attitude by having clean hands and a pure heart. A positive view comes from a close relationship with the Lord. You can, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you(James 4:8). God’s word gives us this advice, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). 

I love the following quote by Walt Whitman: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.” John says, “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 1:7). Walking in the light that Jesus provides, keeps the shadows of negative thought from clouding our outlook.  

Prayer: Lord, please help me to have a “sweet” heart and not a “sour” stomach.

~ Brother Roy

The Mountain Trillium

IMG_1267I was preaching a revival in Eastern Kentucky. On the way to the church, I was driving slowly along a narrow highway. I saw a beautiful white flower blooming in a shady spot beside the road. I couldn’t help but pull over for a closer look. It was a mountain trillium.

I remembered as a child that folks in the hills said the trillium told a beautiful story about God. There is one stem on which rests one flower which has three petals exemplifying the the three persons of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The Apostle Paul acknowledged the three persons of the Trinity when he prayed,The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:14, MSG). 

IMG_1264The beautiful white of the flower represents the sinless nature of Jesus, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. He took our sins to the cross that we might be saved. “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV). Near the pure white flower of the first trillium that I saw was another trillium. It had streaks of red across the white petals. It reminded me that it was the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary that washed away my sin. The words of an old hymn by James Nicholson echoed through my heart: Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow. Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” 

As I was preaching the final service of the revival, a young man in the congregation intently fixed his eyes on me throughout the service. He strained to hear every word. At the end of the message, I extended the invitation to come to the altar to seek the Lord. He came quickly and ask the Lord to forgive his sins and set him free from the drug addiction that was destroying him. In the twinkling of an eye, he was able to experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit”.

That night, with spirit eyes, I saw a beautiful mountain trillium push its head through the darkness of sin and bloom by the altar of a small country church.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

~ Brother Roy

What’s on Your Mind?

whats on your mindOur conversations are often peppered with phrases that refer to a person’s state of mind. Someone may ask, “What’s on your mind?” or, “What was his frame of mind?” We regularly make comments like, “I wonder what he was thinking?” Our mindset or state of mind colors most everything we do.

Scripture identifies three mindsets or mental states:

  • A Reprobate Mind. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient”  (Romans 1:28, NKJV). The dictionary definition of reprobate includes words like unprincipled, immoral, and degenerate. People with a reprobate mind are inclined to sin. They are selfish, self-centered, and focused on what they want, not what God wants.
  • A Double Mind. The Apostle James states, A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8, NKJV).  James encourages people to, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8, NKJV). Double-minded people want to serve God, but they also want to please themselves. A double-minded person tries to serve two masters. However, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24, NKJV).
  • The Mind of Christ. As Christians mature, they are expected to cultivate the mind of Christ. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, NKJV). The world will try to confuse us, “But we have the mind of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:16b). In light of scripture, true believers need to make a natural progression away from a reprobate mind. Then, we need to move past double-mindedness and arrive at the mind of Christ.

May I ask, “What is your mindset?” Our mindset determines our eternal destiny. God’s word says, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, RSV).

Prayer: Lord I want to “be renewed in the spirit of my mind(Ephesians 4:23, NKJV). I want the mind of Christ to dwell in me.

~ Brother Roy