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But Watch Thou

But watch thou in all things; endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5)
What did we do the week before Irma hit? We watched for her, didn’t we? Every day was a new report as she spinned closer and closer to Florida. We ran around in a panic (almost!) getting supplies ready, bags of ice and water, canned goods. We boarded our windows and some people even sandbagged their homes or places of business. We were busy preparing for the event and it almost felt like Christmas was coming. The day was approaching…
Now, let’s make a comparison. What is Paul saying here to Timothy? Well, just before he says this, he warns Timothy about the Last Days and a time when men would not endure sound doctrine, having teachers with itching ears. And it sounds just like today…doesn’t it? So how shall we thus live? We better be watching in all things like Timothy was advised to do. We don’t want to lose our rewards, now, do we?
What does that mean? Check the news headlines, for one thing. Note the “signs of the times.” Have there been a lot of earthquakes lately? You better believe it! Have there been “wars and rumors of wars”? And the answer to that is: constantly! Has there been signs in the sun, moon and stars? Oh, yeah, lots of those too. So, keep watching! Jesus is coming back soon!
But I think we should also be watching in a second way. We should be watching our own lives and making sure they are the light they ought to be. Because the next statement is to “endure afflictions”. It doesn’t say, “avoid afflictions” like so many of us try to do. We must endure persecution, deprivation, difficulties, pain and heartache. Ouch! We don’t want to hear that “hard message” now do we?
The next phrase is what makes it all worthwhile. “Do the work of an evangelist.” But, “Sister Laura,” you might say, “I am not gifted in that. I’ve never had any formal training or degree.” Well, neither did Peter, James and John, so you are in good company… I just pass out tracts and talk to people. Whoever I meet that I might discuss anything with… I’m really not very good at it, but I keep trying. I might pass out 100 to 300 tracts a year. Leave them in bathrooms, put them in magazines, leave them at tables in restaurants, hand them to people, etc. Converse with people, too, and hope they respond. The time is really short! Many still have not heard…We just have to keep praying and keep going….
Last, but not least, we must make “full proof of our ministry.” Find a niche to serve the Lord in. Don’t sit every Sunday on your “blessed assurance”. It’s no wonder you’re so depressed and discouraged! Get involved in your local church and other ministries as well. It will lift your spirits… you’ll feel a lot better. The other religions are competing now with ours in the United States. We need to out-do them and outshine them. We need to point people to Christ and the Gospel as well as encourage other Christians.
I can’t emphasize how short the time is! The events of the last month should shake up the most complacent of us to action! Wake up, ye men and women of faith! (I’m talking to myself too…)
Wake up! The time is short! For the day is approaching!

Watch thou in all things…

 

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The Wrath of Irma

We breathed a sigh of relief; we had missed the bullet with Harvey. But now, it looked like a direct hit from another hurricane: Irma. We brought Mom back to the house and made her as comfortable as possible. At almost 90, we didn’t want her to be alone and in case the power went out, didn’t want her to panic in the dark like she had before.

Of course, my younger brother was all bent out of shape about it and opposed it absolutely in his usual absolute manner. He said we should have stayed with her, not her staying with us. He started yelling on the phone about it as if he were the boss of our lives… Anyway, remind me when the next hurricane threatens not to evacuate her ever again… This is one of those battles I don’t want to fight because I would probably lose it….and it’s not worth the effort.

Anyway, on Sunday night, just when I glanced at the houses across the street and noticing how dark they were, the wrath of Irma fell. It was only 8:30 and the storm really had only been going on for a few hours. We had just watched a video of a service since our church didn’t meet at all that Sunday. I was going to make myself a cup of tea. Suddenly, the lights began to flicker and then die.

A little later, I made Mom as comfortable as possible in her bed with her flashlight by her head on the little table. The storm was really raging now and I wondered how any of us would ever get to sleep…

She was frightened so I read to her Psalm 91 and we prayed together.

I retreated then to my bed shared with husband, Bob. All night long, the storm raged outside. Strange noises attacked our ears and we swore the house was going through a car wash or the washing machine.

We checked Bob’s smart phone at 2:00 in the morning and were strangely disappointed that it only registered 53 miles-an-hour sustained winds… Hurricane force would have been 75. But there’s something about the middle of the night that made it so much scarier…

In the morning, we woke up to winds still whipping around. The rain had stopped around 3:00 so, after that, the noise lessened and I was able to fall asleep.

When we got up, there was still no power. We made coffee by heating up water on a gas grill and pouring it over the ground beans in the basket. We listened to an old transistor radio for our news. We ate grilled cheese sandwiches. And we waited until the curfew lifted to bring mom back home. Of course, my brother was calling every hour or two to see if she was all right until we finally quit answering the phone…

My 1970’s devotional for September 11 “hit the spot.” It was called “In Safe Hands” and the reading was Psalm 31:14-15. The last sentence was the best. It read: “Yes, we can rest content though the billows of life roar ever so threateningly, for we could not be in safer hands.” It’s nice to know we are safe with the Lord by our side. What a comfort that was to read! God has everything under control…

Mom made it safely home. My brother texted me an apology. The sun came out and dried up the rain. The winds died down. And there was only a little minor damage to our house.

We survived the wrath of Irma. By the grace of God… His mercies are new every morning!

Even though the power was still out…So we went to Mom’s and the lights finally came on five days later, but that’s another story…

Stay The Course!

Whatever comes our way

Destruction or relief,

Stay the course, stay the course.

Jesus is our stay!

As we view the high and lofty gale,

As the day of doom approaches,

We’ll be safe and hale if

Jesus is our stay!

Though we stand on quicksand,

And the storm is spinning closer,

We don’t know where it will land,

But , Jesus is our stay!

Jesus is our stay, Jesus is our stay!

Through all these crazy days,

Just stay the course, stay the course!

For Jesus is our stay!

 

Mikey Likes Me!

It was one of those cool and rainy days in Germany when you just wanted to sit around in a comfy chair and play Mahjong on your phone or Kindle and try to stay warm. The chilly weather, along with the jet lag, had put both of us in a sleepy mood since we arrived the day before to spend some time with our grandkids.
Hopefully, the weather would get warmer soon, I thought. It was, after all, the month of May, though early in it and about half-way through Spring.
But, as I was sitting there cocooning, cuddled in a blanket, I saw an odd thing: a note being pushed through the bottom of the foyer door. Who would do a thing like that? I thought.
I got up and picked it up. It was a bunch of gibberish, so I knew it was the invention of one of our grandkids. I opened the door to a gush of cool air and our grandson, Mikey standing there in his Buzz Light-year outfit.
“What are you doing?” I asked. But all I got was a bunch of giggles.
I continued my inquiry. “What does this note say?”
He laughed a bit more and then replied. “It says I don’t like you, Grandma!”
“What?” I felt very alarmed. “Why don’t you like me?”
“I dunno, I just don’t!”
I walked away rather sad and troubled, but determined to change his mind.
The next day, the sun came out and the weather got much warmer. Over the next two weeks, we journeyed on a trip to the Paris Disneyland, went swimming in an indoor pool and attended Alexis’s dance audition.
Also, after that, I tried to hug Mikey frequently, give him extra goodies and more attention, too.
Finally, the last day arrived. The rain and the cool weather came back, too. I asked him if he liked me a little bit more. We were getting ready to leave to go back 6000 miles to the USA so I hoped he had had a change of heart.
“Yes, Grandma, he admitted, “I like you a lot more now!” We both hugged and kissed.
See, a little love makes really does make a difference. And I did like his honesty about it; most of us adults wear a mask. We don’t often admit it when we are not loved. Love and hate; two sides to the same emotion that can be flipped if you push the right buttons.

So, remember to always show God’s love to others. They just might sometimes love you back…like Mikey did!

A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)

 

Even If…

For if ye love them which love you , what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them…but love ye your enemies and do good and lend, hoping for nothing again and your reward shall be great and ye shall be called the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful and evil. (Luke 6:32, 35)

Love is the topic of this passage from the Gospel of Luke.

This is hard to talk about today and one of the hardest sayings of Jesus. We have, in our society today, a warped concept of love. We think love is a feeling. We love somebody one day and hate them the next if they don’t do what we want them to.  That, then, is not biblical love. Biblical love is self-sacrificing and non-judgmental. That is a hard concept for the average, ordinary Christian.

Why is it so hard? I don’t know. I think its something to do with pride. We want to look independent and uncaring. We value our image not how we love others. We think our love should be deserved. And sometimes, we think love is too much work. Its easier to be a self-serving “churchian” that sits on the sidelines and looks like a respectable person. We don’t want to care because its not in our self-interest…

You know, when I was first saved over 46 years ago, I remember singing that song “You’ll Know We Are Christians by our Love” and naively believing it was true. It should be true. But it isn’t because the term “Christian” is a loosely applied word in today’s world. Anyone can call themselves a “Christian”. You don’t go to jail or get burned at the stake – yet – for saying that in America. But the lost person instinctively knows the real from the fake. They will go after you with questions and some of them will get saved as a result.

However, the worst treatment doesn’t come from the lost sinner…it comes from the saved saint…The saint that is self-righteous is the worse. They will attack you from all angles and try to destroy your faith. They want to pull you down to their low level of spirituality. Most of the time, they are judgmental and unfriendly…

Why this is, I don’t know. I’m asking the Lord this when I get to heaven…

What are you supposed to do, then? We’re supposed to love them whatever happens. Love our enemies. Be kind to the unlovable and mean. Forgive them. Yes, even difficult family members need our love. The ones that are the meanest are the ones that need the most love..

And even if they say and do all manner of evil against you, even if they persecute you, you still must love them.

Charity…Believeth all things, hopeth all things, beareth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth. (1 Cor. 13:7-8)

And God’s love, which is the same thing, never fails too. So go out and try to love somebody today; somebody whose not part of your clique. Somebody new that you don’t know… Maybe you will be surprised at how easy it was and how good you will feel…

Just ask them how they are doing. Be friendly… be helpful…call them…make them a meal… take them to a doctor’s appointment…or just sit and visit…and listen!

(I know, I know, you’re too busy…everybody’s too busy…)

But we’re not busy enough to die, now, are we?

And even if they don’t love you back… Your reward will be great in heaven!

The Fog of War

See, then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time for the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Folks, we’re in a war whether you want to be or not. “Well, Sister Laura, you may say, “how are we in a war?” Its a spiritual conflict for  “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) If you don’t feel like you’re in a conflict with the forces of evil, something is wrong. You better examine yourself and make sure you are “in the faith.”

And its not getting better. The days seem to be getting “eviler” as time goes on. People walk down the street half-naked all the time. They are pierced with all kinds of tattoos and have body piercings of all sorts. There doesn’t appear to be any moral standards any more and if you have any, you are highly unpopular and will even be called a “hater.” I’m saying this about any kind of sinful activity any more. “Community standards” aren’t what they used to be. The Christian part of it is gone. Its all paganism all the time now.

So what will be next? If we don’t repent as a society, God’s gonna up the ante, you might say. He’s going to send judgment. Little by little, we will be destroyed. We’re already half way there. His hand will be upon us – His hand of judgment…

Meanwhile, we Christians should be careful as we walk through the fog of this world and on the minefields all around us. We must not be angry and upset with people but with our arch-foe. He is the one causing all the havoc. He is the one who makes a “sneak attack” on us when we are least expecting it. We need to put on the “whole armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:13-17. Be prepared for anything the devil may throw at us!

Things are not getting better and better. There getting worse. I just been reading about Houston getting 50 inches of rain this week…That’s a whole year’s rain! It is almost completely underwater! Every major road is flooded. If that’s not God’s judgement, I don’t know what is. It may be months before it recovers. Corpus Christi is in bad shape too. It is affecting almost 7 million people.

I had a feeling that eclipse was an bad sign….

Wake up, Christian! Be wise! The time is short! We must be prepared for whatever may happen next. We must stick together and love one another and reach out to the world with the gospel when the right doors open! Don’t be a fool, except as a fool for Christ…

Redeeming the time, for the days are evil!

 

The Battle Is the Lord’s

So I was talking about godliness with contentment a few days ago. Now, I want to talk about what exactly is godliness? Well, that is a hard term to define, to tell you the truth. I’ve weathered many storms; a lot of them, were my fault by my naïve assumptions about life. I thought life was going to be good to me. You know what, life isn’t always good – contrary to the “Life Is Good” slogan. But even though life may not always be good and you may not always feel good about life, God is always good.

So godliness must have something to do with God, right? Right. We have to find out what exactly it is. The dictionary says it is having a reverence for God and a life of holiness. In today’s day and age, that would be a big order and challenge. Everything around us seems to be the opposite of that.

I like the song “Good-bye, World, Good-bye” because it focuses you on heaven when you’re singing it. Most of the Christian songs I like focus on that.

Yes, godliness is like humility. It is easier to say it than to do it. And a hard concept to analyze in ourselves. You see, most of us have a big streak of hypocrisy and self-righteousness running down our backs. Its easier to put on a fake, outward appearance of godliness and piety and humility than have the real thing.

The real thing is messy, like life is messy. The real thing is getting down in the dirt and loving people you don’t really like. Its hard to love the unlovable and its sometimes even hard to love God. On the other hand, its easy to feel self-pity and blame others for our attitudes and problems. And continue to “fake it.”

The cure for all this is just to turn to the Lord. The battle is His. As you gaze upon Jesus, then the traits of godliness will appear without you having to do anything. As you give your brokenness and sins over to Him, He will make you a new creature. Life as a Christian should be one of continual renewal.

Just trust Him. The battle is the Lord’s. It always was and it always will be…