DRIFTING IS DANGEROUS

 

There are many Evangelical preachers, teachers and church leaders who believe we are living in the last days before Jesus comes again. They do not know the day or the hour but from everything they study in the Bible they see events as shaping up to His soon return. Never before have so many things come together as signs which Jesus said to watch for. (Matthew 24)

If you grew up in Church you heard sermons and read books or heard people talking about this. I remember in the 60’s people feared that another war was imminent.They began gathering food and other supplies and a few even made themselves underground shelters. Along the way there were some books written that actually set dates like, 1988 which was changed to 1989 when it didn’t happen.

When we hear something often we may tune out or tend not to listen very carefully. I remember when I was a child and my mother would tell a familiar story from her past. Because I had heard it before, I did not listen very carefully. Now, many years later I wish I had paid more careful attention. I let her words drift by because they were nothing new. I heard it before.

The writer to the Hebrews says, long ago God spoke through prophets and in many other ways but in these last days, He has spoken in His Son, Jesus. He then gives a warning, ” For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” It’s possible to hear the message of salvation but not pay attention, instead let it drift, in one ear & out the other. (Heb 1:1-2; 2:1)

He gives another warning  in 3:12 “Take care, lest there be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away (standing aloof) from the living God.” More than once he entreats them not to “harden their hearts.” There’s a downward trend; drifting, then doubting and finally disbelief, refusal to believe because of a hardened heart. Today as He speaks, we need to pay careful attention.

Peter writes to his followers so that they will remember the words spoken to them by the prophets and apostles. He wants them to know that in the last days, mockers are going to come who will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? It didn’t happen in our fathers day and everything is carrying on as it always has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:1-4)

“When they say this, they willfully forget that, by the Word of God, the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water through which the world at that time was destroyed being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth, by His Word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly people.”  (3:5-7)

Peter also wants them to pay close attention, to not let the truth drift by. “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (3:8-9)

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (3:10-11)

The message of salvation is an old, old story. God created man to have fellowship with Him but man rebelled. His rebellion carried the death penalty but Jesus, God’s Son paid the death penalty by dying on a cross, in our place. God raised Him from the dead and now He lives and is interceding for us. My part is to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus died for me and that He is alive today. (Rom 10:9-11)

You may have heard this message many times but you have not taken it seriously. You think you have lots of time to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. Drifting is dangerous! Drifting is perilous to your soul! Time as we know it, is running out! It’s time to stop drifting! An old gospel song depicts this as someone who is out on a sea drifting farther and farther from the safety of the shore.

DRIFTING TOO FAR FROM THE SHORE           by Charles E. Moody 1923

Out on the perilous deep where danger silently creeps
and storms so violently sweeping, you’re drifting too far from the shore.

Today the tempest rose high and clouds o’ershadow the sky
Sure death is hovering nigh, you’re drifting too far from the shore

Why meet a terrible fate, mercies abundantly await
Turn back before it’s too late, you’re drifting too far from the shore.

Chorus
Drifting too far from the shore, you;re drifting too far from the shore.
Come to Jesus today, He will show you the way.
You’re drifting too far from the shore.

FROM FEAR TO FAITH

Recently I decided to review a course I had taken some years ago. I needed some answers and this would be a good place to start. The course, “Counseled by God” is taught by Mark Virkler who also teaches “How to Hear the Voice of God.” I started each morning  by watching the DVD for that day’s lesson, then spending time with the Lord journaling my questions and His answers.

As I journaled, my time and conversation with the Lord was always meaningful. Although there were aspects of ministry and healing in previous lessons, session seven was very close to home, “From Fear to Faith.”  The application exercise addressed the question, “Are there areas of fear in your life? To help you discern them, list five “what if”s…you have asked yourself recently.”

Ask the Lord, “What do You want to say about these “what if’s?” I made my list and I asked the Lord what He would say to me. His answer was loving, encouraging, and He reminded me that He has always taken care of me all these years. He said, “Let the light of My Word shine into all the corners, the places where dust webs of doubt are lurking. Have faith in Me!” Certain Scriptures came to mind.

One book in the Old Testament written by the prophet, Habakkuk, addresses fear and faith with all the implications we face today. He had a lot of questions concerning things that were bothering him. The world around him was much like ours and he wanted to know why God was allowing the violence and injustice and how long it would go on. God’s answer was, “I am doing something in your days-”

Habakkuk says,”You don’t approve evil or wickedness so why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they are?”He says I don’t understand but I want to. “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me and how I may reply when I am reproved.”

Then the Lord answered Habakkuk, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.  Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”

He has a conversation with the Lord, remembering His Majesty and Power displayed in the past. His mind turns to the coming invasion which God has told him will come and he almost hears the sound of their coming. His lips quiver and his body trembles as he sets himself to wait quietly for the day of distress and the invading people.

Suddenly his faith rises within him and he says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls. yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, and he has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

Listen to any news channel and you will be bombarded with all that’s wrong in the world. From fires in California and as of today’s report, five hundred fires in BC to floods in Texas. We need rain and may have a shortage of water here. Shootings and stabbings every day for no reason. Greece is in financial trouble again and our economy is supposed to take a down turn by the fall.

I was born in the great depression is this the full circle for me? I can’t control the world market or the weather patterns but I can control my attitude. I can be filled with fear, try to stash money or food and wait quietly for the invasion of adverse circumstances or I can say, I will remember that the Lord GOD is my strength. I choose to depend on Him. He will enable me to make it through.

What a wonderful affirmation of faith is Habakkuk’s testimony. As he moves from fear to faith he says, “I will not live in fear, according to my circumstances, the joy of the Lord GOD is my strength. He will enable me to overcome. I will not only survive but thrive!” Our hope is not in this world, it must be in God Who is the only source of stability when the world is crumbling around us. I choose to put my faith in Him.

LETTING GO AND PRESSING ON

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” The past is gone and we have before us a new year of opportunities. As I look back on the events of 2014 I am almost overwhelmed by all the changes I have gone through, which I could not have predicted. Not only location but also lifestyle. I could never have foreseen the challenges.

In January 2014, I moved 400 miles from Castlegar, in the interior, to Langley, on the west coast. The year before had been stressful for me with my daughter’s close brush with death and my brother, Orval’s sudden stroke, rendering him helpless. Shortly after his stroke, one Doctor in the hospital urged me to apply for Committeeship because he felt Orval would need someone to make decisions for him, for the rest of his life.

Orval said he wanted me to do that for him. Through the years he had distanced himself from most of the family but we had maintained a relationship through daily phone calls and occaisional visits. So, 2013 ended with me taking on the responsibility of my brother’s care as he made his way through the health care system, being moved five times in five months. I felt I needed to live near his care facility in order to give him emotional support.

Ecclesiastes 3:2 “A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.” On January 10, I flew from Vancouver to Castlegar to pack my belongings. Determined to move with the least stress possible, I hired a moving company. My children would have rented a truck and moved me but the mountain passes could be difficult and I was very concerned about accidents such as Larry and I had in 2011 which contributed to his death three weeks later.

My son, Dwayne met me at the Airport, we went for lunch and then drove home. A beautiful basement suite in Dwayne and Maureen’s home was where Larry and I had lived since 2007.  After Larry’s death in 2011, I continued to live there and was thankful to be so well cared for by my children. A part of me was sorry to leave the umbrella of protection and attention afforded me by living so near my children but another part of me felt called to give my brother the best care possible. I had mixed feelings about moving.

Although packing was work, the time I would spend in this place was many other things to me. It was also respite and remembrance. Strange as it may sound, it was respite. For the past eight months I had lived with other people, on the edge of their lives, not having any of my own things around me. I felt the need to have a place of my own. This time was remembrance too, because of all the memories that surfaced. Larry and I had moved into the suite after selling our Pass Creek property. Dwayne and Maureen told us it was part of the plan when they had built the suite.

Ecclesiastes 3:6 “A time to keep and a time to throw away.” As I made decisions about what to keep and what not to keep, the memories flooded my soul. I was saying a final goodbye to the life Larry and I had here together. From this point on, my life would never be the same. Daily, as I listened to CD’s of gospel music I was able to focus on the reality that my future was in God’s hands. Leaving was sad but I accepted it as part of life.

Finally everything was packed, the movers came and my worldly possessions were on their way to a new place. As I walked through the suite, I thought about my life. I had known both happiness and sadness here and my future was unknown. I’m not sure anyone understood my choices but they helped me as much as they could. I said goodbye to Dwayne, Maureen, Fran and Jake. I was grateful for their love and care. The next day I flew back to Vancouver.

My niece, Corrine met me at Vancouver airport and drove me to my sister’s. The next day when the movers arrived at the apartment, my children, Dustin, Laurie and Elizabeth were there to set up and bring order to the new place. I was fortunate to have children helping on both ends of the move! Before long many boxes were unpacked, there were dishes organized in cupboards and my bed was ready to climb into. I said a prayer of thanks for each of them! I could not have done it without them!

The next months were filled with selling Orval’s house, getting his affairs in order, having lunch with him every day and starting with his Dentist appointments etc. Along the way there was time with family and friends. Once in awhile I managed to spend an afternoon pursuing one of my interests, tracing my family history through the computers at the Cloverdale Library. Dwayne came for a visit in April and my daughter, Brenda and grandson, Josh, visited in May. In August I was able to attend Jeremy and Sarah’s lovely garden wedding in Anmore. (Love the GPS!)

Ecclesiastes 3:2 “A time to be born and a time to die.” On May 21 my great granddaughter, Ivy Vivienne, was born. This beautiful little girl was welcomed by my granddaughter, Ayron and her husband, Stefan and brother, Madden. On December 19 I had angioplasty in Royal Columbia hospital. Dustin took me there and stayed with me. I was thankful for his help. The surgery went well and I have two new stents. I will need repair on a previous stent later. Sadly, on the same day, Dwayne’s dad passed away in a different hospital. Life is a mixture of joy and sorrow!

What will the next year bring? Like the old, gospel song by Ira Stamphill says, “I don’t know about tomorrow” but I know the One Who does! God already sees my days before they show up, so I do not need to worry about them. The words of the chorus reflect my feelings, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand! But I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand!” My future is as bright as the promises of God!

Philippians 3:13-14 “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

WHERE IS GOD?

When I listen to the news, it seems like evil is winning. Leaders of nations are wringing their hands over how to stop the terrorists from gaining more ground and murdering more people. The terrorists think no one can stop them. Kingdoms are clashing!

As Christians we should not be surprised. Jesus said we would have tribulation in this world. We wonder why God does not intervene and stop the terrible bloodshed. Sometimes He does. And then sometimes He doesn’t.

I’m reminded of the three Hebrew children in Daniel 3 who were faced with death in a fiery furnace if they refused to bow down to the image the king had made. The king asked the question, “What god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” They answered, “Our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the the fire and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king!”

But, even if He does not, we will not worship the image. The king was so incensed he ordered the furnace to be made seven times hotter than normal. They would not bow and they were thrown in the furnace. The fire was so hot it killed the men who threw them in. In the furnace they were not alone. The king noticed a fourth man in there. They were all walking around in there without the fetters. God was with them and they came out without even the smell of smoke on them. Amazing!

Today, many people in places like Iraq and Syria are refusing to give up their faith. Even children have stood firm in the face of death and have been killed by the terrorists. They are victorious in their stand. They look to God for deliverance but even if He does not they will not bow to any other god.

When we think about the mess the world is in we wonder why we can’t all “live and let live?” The people in Iraq and Syria were just living their ordinary lives, when all hell broke loose.Suddenly life as they used to live, was over! There was chaos, confusion and death.,

Where was God? Where is God? I believe He is there, in the midst of their fiery furnace. I don’t pretend to understand why He has not delivered them. One answer comes, Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation BUT be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

If we choose to follow Christ, we are not called to a life of ease, but we are called to bear a cross. The cross is my right to myself, my right to my life. The cross is my will. Luke 9:23  Jesus said, “If anyone wished to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Many people are doing just that, choosing to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost. I pray for them! We may be called to do that too. So far we are living far away from the noise of battle. We don’t know about tomorrow!

Our God is able to deliver and He will deliver – BUT, if He does not, we will not give up our faith, we will follow Jesus, no matter what. He has a better place prepared for those who follow Him. Our sights are set on that.

Undimmed Memory

“There’s a storm coming.” This was the reason given by the cashier at the grocery store, for the lack of bread on the shelves. When I came home and turned on the TV, the weather channel carried the warnings of snowfall in the many areas, especially in the higher elevations.

My mind goes back to March 2, 2011. Larry and I had left home the day before and stayed over night at Princeton, something we liked to do, when we drove to the Coast. On March 4, he would be 80 years old, and he was very excited about the celebration his daughter, Brenda had planned for Saturday. He loved to get together with family and friends. This would be the highlight of his life. He had reached a milestone after a long climb.

There was a lot of snow on the highway but with all his trucking experience, Larry was not concerned. When we reached the divided highway the other side of Hope we felt that the worst was behind us. But suddenly the wheel was caught in the pothole, the car left the road, and suddenly we were airborne into the median. Held by our seat belts we seemed to be watching a movie. We saw the snowbanks & the highway as we spun around. Finally, the car fishtailed, slammed against a bank and came to rest on two wheels.

Although we were not protected from the accident, I believe we were protected during the accident. There were some things that I believe were not coincidence. All of the apparent damage was in the back with windows smashed and the back seat filled with snow. The front windshield and two windows were intact and the airbags did not deploy.

Help was there in the people who were on the scene immediately, a truck driver and two RCMP officers, one travelling East and the other officer going West on the opposite side of the highway. The men put the car on it’s four wheels and the ambulance was called. They walked us out to the road to the waiting ambulance. The car was totaled but we walked out. Later, when he saw the car, Dustin remarked, “Someone was looking after you.”

Yes, Someone was looking after us! But in the days that followed we might have wondered why some things that happened had a happy ending and other things did not. We walked away from the accident but on March 5, Larry had a stroke, missed his big celebration and ended up in one hospital. That was followed later by more strokes, another hospital, pneumonia, paralysis and finally death. Within three weeks he was gone.

As Larry was in a private room, the family was able to be with him around the clock. Some good happened in those three weeks as we drew together as a family. Larry prayed for that and I believe he knew and was happy to see our blended family drawn closer. Through the years, he prayed for each one every day, morning and evening. He had their names written on a paper so he wouldn’t forget anyone. Remembering now, I can hear him saying each name.

Undimmed memories are footprints in the sands of time. Although the memory of the storm brings tears, yet there is a peace that comes with it. My loving God is in the memories. I can put my hand in His and trust Him for the future.

The Dusty Road

There are many examples in Scripture of God’s love for those who did not return His love or for those who had known His love and then turned away. Sometimes He asked His prophets to demonstrate what He was trying to teach the people about His love.

Haggai was one of those prophets God used. He was married and then his wife became a prostitute. God asked him to find her and take her back as his wife, as an example of His love for Israel, even after she turned her back on Him.

So often we accept His love and salvation, become His beloved, and then we follow the allure of the world and, like Haggai’s wife, we prostitute ourselves. He doesn’t give up on us. He may come after us like the Shepherd looking for the lost or wandering sheep.

One familiar story that Jesus told about the prodigal son, always captures our imagination. He asked for his inheritance while his father was still alive and then went off and wasted it, in a far away land. We might wonder, how long it took him to realize that he had made some bad choices?

And what about the father, who never stopped looking down that dusty road, shading his eyes against the hot sun, longing to see his son coming. Patiently he waited and the day finally came when his waiting was rewarded. Away, in the distance he saw something. Could it be? Eagerly, he watches.

He sees someone, clad in scanty, dirty clothes, trudging wearily along the dusty road. The father runs, something out of character for a man of his stature. He runs toward him and embraces this unkempt child who smells like pigs.

The father disregards the appearance of his child, he is filled with love and joy for his return. The son returns in an attitude of humility. Gone is the pride, gone is the sense of entitlement. Now the words are, “Make me as one of your servants.”

The circle is complete, the same dusty road going away, leads home. Broken and wiser, the son is home. Jesus told this story about a son but it could just as easily be about a daughter. I’ve been on that dusty road. Coming home, I found the Father’s love and forgiveness.

You Can’t Can God!

In Psalm 78, Asaph gives a good description of Israel’s up and down relationship with God. They were supposed to instill faith in the next generations by telling them about God and His wondrous works on their behalf. They were told to teach them to their children, so they would put their confidence in God, but they didn’t always do that.

God had led them through the Red Sea, on dry land, and He had given them visible proof that He was there, in the cloud by day, and the fire at night. He had provided daily food, in the form of manna, and water from a rock. But they grew tired of the manna, they longed for the foods they had eaten in Egypt. They forgot about their miserable existence in Egypt, when they were slaves, and they remembered only, the foods.

They didn’t really have a heart for following God, in spite of the many miracles, so they spoke against God. They chose to forget all that He had done for them, and they said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? We know He’s provided water, can He give bread also?” Then they took it one step farther, they said, “Will He provide meat for us?” The Lord heard their complaining, and He was angry with them, because they chose not to trust in His salvation, deliverance and provision for all their needs.

Over and over again, they grieved Him by their failure to remember His power, which was demonstrated in all that He had already done for them. Their failure to believe in His good intentions towards them, also grieved Him. They forgot the  Covenant that God had made with them, and they forgot that the land they were going to, was promised, as a part of that Covenant.

Because of their unbelief, they wandered in the wilderness for the next forty years, until that generation was gone. Their unbelief caused them to make an eleven day journey, last for forty years. Then, God brought the next generation into the land which He had promised. Their constant unwillingness to believe, caused them to fail to receive, all that God had promised. They questioned, first “Can God?” and then, “Will God?”

If God, Who is all powerful, gives His Word, why would I ask the question, “Can God?” If God, Who loves me, has said in His Word, “Don’t be anxious about your life, what you will eat, or what you will wear, or even about tomorrow,” should I ask, “Will He?” When I consider the lilies and the sparrows which He provides for, I know He will provide for me! Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” My part is to believe, He can and He will!