1987 – A Pivotal Year

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Who Am I?  Part 10

For those who have been following me in this series which gives a rough outline of my major life events, we come now to a pivotal year for both Jill and me.  It was 1987, we had been married for three years, and both of us had completed our studies for our vocations.  Jill received her Nursing Diploma, and I had finished my Master of Divinity Degree.  You can read about these things here.

After a number of years of education, some short-term mission experiences, some practicum work for Jill and some minor ministry experiences for me, we felt like we were ready to go out and make a difference in the world.  While still in school, Jill attended a hospital recruitment meeting and things fell into place, and the next thing you know we were packing a U-Haul to head to Texas.  In addition to this, Jill announced with excitement, “WE’RE PREGNANT!”

Now I must admit that I was more stunned than excited at this announcement.  But as the weeks and months crept along, I began to really warm up to the idea of being a father.  There were a few little snags in our paper work to cross into the States, which caused us to delay and stay with my folks for over a month.  So by the time we finally started out with our U-Haul, there was definitely 2 1/2 people ready for the adventure that lie ahead.

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We arrived in Port Arthur, Texas where Jill would work at a charity hospital (which the recruiter had promoted as a great place to work just off of the Gulf of Mexico).  He neglected to tell us that most of the bay area around Port Arthur was filled with oil refineries which blocked the view of the Gulf and blackened the port and town area around them.

But we were young, and it was an adventure in many ways for us.  And one of the first adventures for us was to find a church to fellowship with.  Having just graduated from a Christian and Missionary Alliance seminary, we looked for one of these in the area, but the closest C&MA church was 50 miles away in Baytown.  This wasn’t too bad, as it gave us time to talk and be together on the drive to and from Baytown each Sunday.

As a result of these visits we made regularly to this church, something very interesting happened.  I was approached one day by the pastor of the Baytown church and asked if I would be interested in helping to start a new church in Beaumont, the large city next to Port Arthur.  I accepted the offer as I saw this as a way to serve God.

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The excitement of this new ministry opportunity was almost immediately crushed as Jill and I experienced the most bitter of all events, the death of our child.  Jill was 29 weeks pregnant in October of 1987.  There was no warning and no indication of anything wrong.  One day our baby was alive and kicking hard, and then the next day there was no movement.

We couldn’t believe anything bad had happened, until finally after waiting anxiously for a doctor’s report, they informed us that the child had in fact died in the womb.  Because Jill was so far along, it was necessary to have her induced to deliver our daughter.  When it was over, we held our little Deborah in our arms.  She was over a foot long and almost looked like she was sleeping, except that she wasn’t breathing.

The doctors have never to this day explained to us what happened.  It was an inter-uterine death, but no cause could be found.  That day in October was the blackest day of our entire lives, and it continued to cast a shadow and have a negative effect upon us for many years after.  One wise person said to us, “The intensity of the pain will never really go away, just the frequency of it.”

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There is no doubt that we were in pain because of this event.  For many days there was a sense of emptiness in our apartment.  Jill took a few days off to recover physically.  The hospital and the doctors were so gracious to cancel our medical bills, so we were not hurt financially.  But the emotional and spiritual impact of this tragedy was very huge.

The church people in Baytown were so good to us.  Some of them visited us, or sent us flowers and cards.  The pastor visited us quite a few times.  And with his support and encouragement, we still went ahead and tried to lay down the foundation for a new church plant in Beaumont.  I think us moving from our apartment in Port Arthur to Beaumont was good for us.  But even after a year of hard work, this church plant also did not get birthed and it was closed down when we came back to Canada.

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Of all the different aspects of this major life crisis for us, there is one memory that stands out the most.  Jill and I had gone to the cemetery where we had buried Deborah.  We knelt down by the unmarked cross and held hands and gently cried together.  Then we sang a song together to reaffirm our faith and hope in God.

But while we were there, another woman came and knelt down by her child’s little cross.  Then she broke out into wailing and threw herself on to the ground and wept in great torment at the loss of her child.  Jill and I quietly left that woman to her grief, but we could leave the cemetery with the song still in our heart.  The song says:

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives.”

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Partners In The Gospel (Phil. 1:3-7)

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Sharing in the Work of the Gospel

Philippians 1:3-7 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.  Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.  And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.

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It is very clear that Paul had a close and special relationship with the believers in the church at Philippi.  He prayed for them, often.  And it says here that he gave thanks to God whenever he remembered them, and in his prayers for all (not just some of them, but all of them), he was filled with joy as he prayed.  And note how he says, “for you have a special place in my heart.”

We must ask ourselves, why did Paul has such a strong and positive emotional attachment to these people in Philippi?  If we look back into the book of Acts (chapter 16), Paul spent a very short time in Philippi, probably a few weeks or so.  And the highlight of his visit there was spending a night in a dirty, dingy jail.  Or was it?

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We are fairly certain that there was no active worship building, like a synagogue for the Jews.  Paul and his companions had to go outside the city to the river where they found only a few woman gathered there for a time of prayer (Acts 16:13).  By the time Paul left Philippi, he had preached the gospel and we know that Lydia and her household, plus the jailer and his household had accepted Christ and were baptized.

There may be more who joined the fledgling church when Paul was there, although we don’t know who they were.  But what we do know from the book of Philippians in this short passage is that Paul says they were “partners in spreading the Good News about Christ.”  And in 4:15 he says, “you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.”

To fully appreciate what is going on here, we want to exercise the skills I introduced a few articles back about doing an Inductive Bible Study.  There are a few very interesting key words in these verses that are worth taking a closer look at.  Specifically, I want to examine “partners”, “defending and confirming”, and “special favor of God”.

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Partners:  In other versions, the term for “partners” has also been translated as “partnership” or “participation”.  Upon reflection, it suggests to us that there was a close relationship between Paul and the people in Philippi in evangelizing the city.  It was not as we might think today of a “business partnership” where the executives decide how the employees should do the work, but they themselves do not get involved.

The partnership in mind here is the shoulder-to-shoulder “let’s go out and get this work done together”.  Now the reason why I find this word so interesting is that it comes from the Greek work “koinōnia“.  And this word is quite often translated as “fellowship”.  In one Bible dictionary, this word is explained as “an association involving close mutual relations and involvement”.

The key for me here is that “Christian fellowship” is meant to have an emphasis upon “involvement” with others and in other’s lives.  Don’t get me wrong, I love when we have potlucks at church, but I wonder how deep the thought is when we say, “Let’s stay for the potluck fellowship.”  I think it often just means to people, let’s chit-chat and fill our bellies with food.

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Defending and Confirming:  This leads us to consider in verse 7 what it was exactly that Paul was doing, and that which the Philippians were partnering together to do.  We have already said that they were “spreading the Good News“, but in this verse, Paul says that he was defending it and confirming it.  And the implication in this passage is that Paul was engaged in doing this activity whether he was free or whether he was in prison.

Both of these key words are Greek words which carry a legal courtroom-like aspect to them.  The first one “apologia” means to “defend publicly that something is not wrong”.  We get the word “apologist” and “apologetics” from this word.  And many 1st and 2nd century Christian leaders were called apologists as they stood up and declared that Christianity was not a false religion, but was the very Truth of God.  And that is the other side of what they did, they were “confirming the Truth of the Good News“.

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Special Favor of God:  Now I don’t know about you, but I must admit that there are many times that I feel awkward and embarrassed to share my faith.  But Paul tells the Philippians that it is a “special favor of God” or “grace” (the literal Greek) to be serving God by publicly standing up for the faith.  And if that is the case, then God would provide the courage and the words to be His spokesman or spokeswoman.

And Paul says here that for these kinds of people, those who count it a privilege to be followers of Christ and let others know publicly about it, he has a special place in his heart for them.  Just as Paul is bound or “united” with Christ in his faith, so he is also bound intimately with those who are willing to share their faith with others.

So how about you?  Do you feel the same kind of passion as Paul had, to be willing to live out your faith in public?  And even to suffer because of it?  Then you stand as a partner with Paul, and are in true fellowship with the apostles and prophets, and are united (stuck) to Christ, who grants us His grace / favor to do this awesome and important task.  May God bless you as you live for Him.  Amen.

Pray For Our Government

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A Majority Government For Canada

Last week, on Monday May 2nd, Canadians went to the polls to elect a new government.  There it is.  A matter-of-fact and rather bland sentence.  And for the people who read this article who are not a Canadian, I would imagine that this event probably did not mean much to them, and in fact, they may not even have known that we held an election.  After all, it was only a 37 day event.

But wait, there is much more going on than many non-Canadians may realize.  Read the following news article that shows just how stunning and historically monumental this election actually was.

“Canada rarely gets earthquakes but it felt a big temblor on May 2. When the rest of the world was glued to news about Osama bin Laden, Canadians voted in an election that shook up their political landscape.

On the surface, the election simply saw more of the same: Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who took office in 2006, will stay in power. But wait, much more happened below the crust:

1. For the first time in Canada’s history, the Liberals came in third place, with only 19 percent of the vote. The party of Pierre Trudeau, Lester Pearson, and Jean Chretien that so dominated politics for decades and defined Canadian identity fell from grace. The loss forced its leader, former Harvard academic Michael Ignatieff, to resign. (He even lost his own seat in Parliament).

2. Bloc Quebecois, the political party that long championed separation for Quebec province, also lost big time. Its seat count went from 47 seats to 4. This will alter one of Canada’s long-standing debates about its unity.

3. A party with socialist roots in the Great Recession, the New Democratic Party, essentially grabbed the left-of-center votes from the Liberals. It came in second with 31 percent. The NDP, long a small minority, is now the official opposition party for the first time in Canada’s history, with the charismatic Jack Layton at its helm. Many of its MPs are fresh faces, some of whom didn’t even campaign.

4. For Conservatives, their victory was sweet and historic. The party has not won a majority in Parliament in 23 years. Mr. Harper has had to rule over a minority government for the past five years, forming coalitions to get anything done.

(Article Written by Clayton Jones)

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Most Canadians knew that there was a lot riding on this election for everyone involved, the politicians and their political parties, and the people of Canada as a whole.  It was crucial for Stephen Harper to win a majority government, after having only managed a minority government in 2006 and 2008.

If he did not get the majority, then most likely he would be removed as the head of his party.  And even if they had a strong minority, many people feared the rumor that the other opposing parties would form a majority coalition and throw the country into total chaos.

Thankfully (my opinion, and that of 40% of all Canadians), Harper did get a majority victory.  And a strong statement in and of itself is that the leaders of the parties that won 2nd place and 3rd place in the 2008 elections did not even win in their own personal electoral riding, and their parties were almost decimated.  The very next morning, both of these powerful political leaders officially resigned.  What a stunning realignment for the political makeup of our country.

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And now I reflect on what Scripture may have to say about all this.  I must confess that as a Christian I have not always paid a lot of attention to general politics.  I do obey the laws of the land, and I pay my taxes.  But until this election, I did not do a whole lot more.  But the Bible tells us that the should be more mindful of the people who will be the leaders of our countries.

In Romans 12:1, God says, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”  And in verse 4 it says, “The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.”

Even more importantly, Paul urges us to offer up prayers not just for each other or people in general, but for the men and women who are our political leaders.  He says in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”

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And so in light of the importance of this past week’s election, I know that many Christians were in prayer for a good outcome.  I was as well, and for the first time in my life, I contributed financially in hopes to help us gain a strong and stable government.  And one more unique thing for me and for my son Glen, we attended the political rally where Steven Harper came in and gave his victory speech.  (Glen is holding the ‘Harper’ sign by the reporter’s shoulder of this nationally televised event.)

It is my prayer now that all those who are now elected officials in the House of Commons for the people of Canada will heed the wishes of the people.  We crave a strong and stable government, but also one that will listen to what the opposition says, and will not forget the average Canadian citizen.  Most of all, I pray that the newly formed government will allow themselves to be used of God to be good servants for Him as they govern all the people of Canada.

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Our Battles With Satan – Part 1

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We Have an Enemy!  His Name is Satan!

We continue along now on our book study of “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel.”  We are going to look at chapter five this month, “Step Over the Dead and Keep Going.”  This may sound a bit gruesome, but in this chapter we need to come to grips with the reality that as Christians, we are engaged in spiritual warfare over the destiny of human souls.

We are in a battle, and that being the case, there will always be some casualties.  Unfortunately, there are also going to be some fatalities as those who had once considered themselves the people of God, who once had faith in Him, for one reason or another they lose heart, turn their back on God and die a spiritual death in addition to their natural physical death.

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Throughout this book, Mark Atteberry retells some of the history of the 40 years that the Israelite people spent wandering around the wilderness.  They were the inheritors of the promises made by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They had witnessed firsthand the awesome power of their redeeming God as He brought them out of Egypt.  They were formed into the people of God at Mount Sinai, and had been sanctified by the blood of that first covenant.

In spite of all this, the people rebelled and would not put their trust in God, for they feared what they considered to be the hard road to victory to obtain the blessings of the promised land.  And because they had turned their backs on God, He in turn removed His hand of blessing and protection and condemned a whole generation to die in the desert.

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Atteberry uses this story as a backdrop to drive home an important spiritual truth in this chapter.  Satan is constantly watching for these critical moments when our faith is challenged by a hard road experience and he comes in for the kill to snatch us away from God.  It is quite sobering to read what he writes on page 57:

Just as surely as those Israelites died in the wilderness, many believers will die spiritually on the hard roads of our modern world.  Yes, many will make it through and end up stronger and better people.  That’s the whole point of this book.  But along every hard road you’ll see the spiritual graves of those who fell along the way.

You’ll see the grave of the man in extreme financial bondage who decided to compromise his integrity to make some fast money.

You’ll see the grave of the unhappily married woman who decided to go home with a man who was not her husband.

You’ll see the grave of the cancer patient who decided that God was the culprit rather than the answer.

Simply put, whenever despair swallows up the last vestige of hope, causing a hurting soul to surrender to the devil, a new spiritual grave will be dug.

Satan’s Realm of Hell Fire

I am certain that everyone who reads this can think of people who used to be so passionate about knowing, loving and serving God, but then some crisis hits them which overwhelms them to the point that they give up on faith and hope and turn their backs against God.  The danger that lurks here for us who still believe in Christ is that we can see these people who have died spiritually and we let this discourage us in our own faith.

We don’t realize just how susceptible we are to the influences of negative people and events around us.  We’ve seen people get divorced whom we thought were solid Christians and we wonder if our marriage is secure.  We hear of a church being split apart by dissension, and then when we see problems creeping up in our church, we start predicting what disaster is looming on the horizon for our congregation.

But Atteberry anticipated these negative thoughts near the end of chapter five and he gives us two profound pieces of advice.  He says on pages 65-68 that we must not let the “graves” of others who have spiritually died deceive us or demoralize us into thinking that none of us can survive the many challenges that our faith will encounter in this life.  We should be looking at those who are victorious, and not those who have been defeated.

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Two outstanding examples of people who have overcome in this world by their faith is Corrie ten Boom, and Joni Eareckson Tada.  Corrie survived the horrors of a German concentration camp where thousands of others were slaughtered.  The faith of her sister Betsie (who died in the camp) helped to fuel Corrie’s faith as she adopter her sister’s famous words, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Joni on the other hand fought an inner battle, not an external enemy like Corrie, as she tried to come to grips with a diving accident at the age of 17 which left her paralyzed from the neck down.  It was a difficult journey for Joni, but her anger against God was re-molded into a deep appreciation for the love and grace of God to all who give their lives over to Him.  She has traveled around the globe to speak of God’s love, and she has not let her physical handicap restrict her from impacting thousands of people for Christ by her love for people and her faith in God.

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There is so much more I could say about these giants of the faith, but there is not enough room here.  I would encourage you to read their life stories like “The Hiding Place” which is about Corrie, and then for the other, “Joni: An Unforgettable Story“.  If these or other great Christian books interest you, you can check out my ideas of how I can help you obtain them in my article “Great Christian Resources“.

The secret, I believe, is to keep our eyes lifted up to Jesus, and not cast down on to our difficulties and hard road experiences.  And also to engage in battle against our true enemy – Satan.  We will talk much more about that in two weeks.

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Powerful Opening (Phil. 1:1-2)

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Greetings & Blessings

It is easy to read the first two verses of Philippians and just pass over them quickly.  We see that the book (actually a letter) is being sent from Paul and Timothy to the church that was in Philippi.  And the blessing of “grace and peace” from God and from Jesus to the believers sounds just like any other of Paul’s opening words to the other churches that he wrote letters to as well.

But I believe we do ourselves a disservice if we rush by these two verses too quickly.  There is much more here that is worth looking into than meets the eye on the first glance.  Now recall from the article I wrote last week (click here) that I outlined four stages to doing a good inductive Bible study.  They are:

  1. Do a text comparison.
  2. Review the Greek text.
  3. Check out Commentaries and Lexicons.
  4. Do a concordance check on significant words.

In this short opening section of two verses, it was not very hard to write up a summary sentence for the section, or to give the section a short title that covers the main idea of the passage.  We did that on the last article.  Now we want to look into some specific words and phrases to discover some of the richer and deeper meaning that is contained within these words and the context where they are found.  Now we get into the meat of doing Inductive Bible Study.

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At our small group study last week, we did the text comparison step and looked for any vocabulary or wording that was significant, yet different, in four different translations.  We looked at this short passage in the New Living Translation, the English Standard Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the New International Version.  We saw the following slight differences in the versions:

  • “slaves” / “servants” / “bond-servants”  (v.1)
  • “holy people” / “saints” / “those who belong to Christ”  (v.1)
  • “elders” / “overseers”  (v.1)

And we noticed that this letter was a) meant for “all” the believers in Philippi, including the church leaders, and b) that “grace and peace” come from “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.  One further thing that caught our attention was the phrase “in Christ”.  Looking ahead, an alternate wording for this phrase is “in the Lord”.

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Taking a quick look at an Interlinear Greek Text, we saw that the key words we had found above were also used in the Interlinear text.  Now we needed to do a little research to see if any of these differences would bring out any new or significant meaning to the text.  The first one that caught just about everyone’s attention was the contrast of “slave” / “servant” / “bond-servant”.

It was not surprising to find that the term “slaves of Christ Jesus” made us uncomfortable.  Doesn’t it sound better to be a servant than a slave?  And yet, when we consider as we see in verse 2, that Jesus Christ is our Lord, then we ought to be fine to be called slaves, for He paid our debt of sin by dying for us, and in return, we give our lives over totally to Him as His people.  And that led us to consider the term “bond-servant”.

This is a special term that relates to first century culture.  There were many actual “slaves” in Paul’s day.  Some of them could earn or buy their freedom from their owners.  But if a slave loved his master enough, then he could choose to voluntarily be a servant for life to his owner.  He then became a “bond-servant”.  He literally “bound” himself forever to his owner and willingly served him.

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Isn’t that a tremendous picture as we hear Paul call himself a “bond-servant”? And we too can choose to be willing and obedient servants to Jesus Christ.  And this is where we picked up on the phrase “in Christ” or “in the Lord”.  These two phrases (plus two more variants) are used 22 times in this letter to the Philippians.  It must be important.  And indeed, we found this phrase to be very rich in meaning.

After looking into some commentaries and translation helps, we found that the phrase could be translated as “union with Christ”, “united with Christ”, or “bound together with Christ”.  In fact, in one language group that I worked with, the literal back-English translation for this Greek phrase was translated as “stuck to Christ”.

I thought that was such a powerful picture, that when we are “in Christ”, it is like we are so closely bound to Him that we are in a sense “super-glued” to Christ.  So even as we open up the book of Philippians, we see that Paul, and by his example, Christians are to be willing, obedient servant-slaves of Jesus, and super-glued to Him so that when people see us, they see Jesus in and through us.  Pretty cool, eh?

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One more thing that our study group discussed was that we should not dismiss this greeting of Paul’s so quickly and just say, “Oh, that is how Paul greeted everyone.  He was just saying ‘Hello’ in his letter.”  No, we felt that there was power in the words he chose to use in his greeting.  He wanted God to bless his readers with “grace and peace”.

These words carry the essence of the Gospel.  We are saved by grace.  And when we experience the true grace of God, then the fractured relationship that was once there between us and God is gone, and we can truly experience deep spiritual peace with God.  And we can extend that peace to our relationships with others around us.

And so we considered the idea that we as Christians may want to model Paul’s greeting to fellow believers when we meet them.  Wouldn’t that be interesting if on Sunday morning, instead of just saying, “Hi, how are you?”, we would greet our brother or sister in the Lord and say, “Hello Dave.  God bless you with the His grace and peace this week.  And how are you doing today?”

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Be Prepared For Jesus’ Return

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A Devotional Thought from Great Commission Ministries

written last winter by Sharon Harms

Be Prepared

The National Weather Service has issued an ‘Ice Storm Warning’ for our area. They are telling people to have a winter survival kit in your car if you have to travel, and enough food and water in the house in case of power outages. We have well water, so having containers of water is very important for us to have if we lose power. No electricity means no pump, no pump means no water.

Like us, people have filled water containers at the artesian well. And, I am certain some have been at the store buying batteries, milk and food. They have been making preparations for the ¼ to ½ an inch of ice.

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I want to pause Sharon’s devotional thought to add an experience Jill and I had while we were in Texas in 1988.  Just like Sharon’s experience, there was a massive storm coming, and people were scrambling to make preparations for the storm.  The main difference between the ice storm mentioned above, was that this was a Category 5 hurricane named Gilbert that was bearing down on Texas.

At that time, Jill was a nurse in one of the hospitals of Beaumont, Texas.  I was working at planting a new church in the city.  (More about that in a couple of weeks from now.)  Like most people, we were watching the news and keeping an eye on the weather as this storm front was gathering its strength in the Atlantic and starting to head into the Gulf of Mexico.

Up to this point of living there for one year, we had seen a few very nasty storms, and had come close to being near a tornado touch down.  But this hurricane was going to dwarf all those experiences.  We knew that it was very serious when the hospital called Jill in to work (along with a lot more doctors and nurses) and was told that they may have to stay and sleep at the hospital for up to three days if the brunt of the hurricane hit our area.

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Meanwhile, I went around and visited the people of our fledging church, as well as tried to visit a number of other people with whom our church had previously had some contact.  Many said they appreciated my call, and definitely would appreciate my prayers for them and their families.  But for the most part, many of them had to excuse themselves while they went and made preparations for the storm.

Now I had never experienced a hurricane before, so I didn’t know what to do or what to expect.  I turned on the radio and listened to all the local news I could.  Even though the weather was still warm and calm, reports were already coming in that there was a critical shortage of plywood, generators and other emergency supplies.  And there were long line ups at gas stations.

But I think I got a better understanding of the degree of panic and impending doom when I went to the local grocery store.  It looked like people were calmly doing their shopping.  But I stood there transfixed as I saw some people calmly reach their arms out on to the shelves and push huge piles of canned food and other items into their grocery carts.  The shelves were literally becoming empty.

The people were afraid, and they were doing all they could do to prepare for the worst.  Now let’s pick up again on Sharon’s devotional thought.

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What kind of preparations are we making for Jesus’ second coming? Are we standing around looking up into the sky for Him? Or are we working for Him? After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and gave them the ‘Great Commission’:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20

These verses plainly tell us that we are supposed to teach others about Jesus, whether it is next door or in another country. It is not an option, but a command to all who call Jesus, ‘Lord’. We are not evangelists in the formal sense, but we have all received gifts that we can use to help fulfill the Great Commission. And as we obey this command, we have comfort in the knowledge that Jesus is always with us.

Jesus also taught about remaining watchful in Matthew 24:36-51:

(v. 36) “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (v. 44) So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

It is good that we don’t know exactly when Christ will return. If we knew the precise date, we might be tempted to be lazy in our work for Christ. Worse yet, we might plan to keep sinning and then turn to God right at the end. Heaven is not our only goal; we have work to do here.

So while we wait for that glorious day of our Savior’s return, prepare to be working for Him. He has given us a job to do – to teach others about Him.

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