On the heels of devastating hurricanes and earthquakes around the world, now distress of nations along with perplexity is coming into play from the prophetic Scriptures of the New Testament; most notably from Luke 21:25.
The war of words is heating up between Kim Jung-un and President Trump. A movie screen writer couldn’t have written anything more dramatic. Tensions are ratcheting up between opposing countries. With the background of screaming winds and roaring ocean waves our country draws ever closer to war. This war of words is making the nations quake in their jackboots. There is a perplexity that no one seems to be able to handle effectively. Yet rest assured, God is in control.
This is happening even while we, here, in Southwest Florida are still recovering from the storm of the century—Hurricane Irma.
First Baptist Church of Naples was the largest staging ground for relief workers since 9/11. Many came from all over the country, some even from as far away as Canada. This is the most well-coordinated relief effort that I can ever remember. It was led primarily by Pastor Hays Wicker who is a forty year veteran of pastoring churches in the Midwest, and growing this particular church to what it is today. This church has grown to over a 6,000 membership, which includes snowbirds from the north. He is one of the best pastor’s in this country.
Pastor Wicker and his able staff went out of their way to coordinate all the resources available and in the distribution of food, water, medicines and cleaning supplies. On hand were Samaritans Purse, Billy Graham Evangelical Ministries, American Red Cross and others. I personally counted over fourteen Red Cross Relief vehicles in the church parking lot.
Some volunteers were sleeping in the classrooms of the beautiful church campus while others arrived in campers and motor homes. The church opened up the huge gymnasium on campus in a last ditch effort to shelter those whose homes were destroyed by Irma and who had nowhere else to go—as all the shelters were filled to capacity.
Incidentally, Hurricane Irma made landfall on 9/11/ (the day of the attack on the twin towers in New York City), while the recent 6.1 earthquake near Mexico City hit on the very time that the people there were recalling a disastrous earthquake that happened on the VERY SAME DAY, years before. What a coincidence! It’s almost as if to say that these were coordinated efforts to wake people up from their godless slumber.
Right now, people are tossing and turning at night unable to sleep. They are wondering what catastrophe is going to happen next thinking: Will we have war? Where can I go to avoid it? What about my loved ones, how will they be impacted? Will it be a nuclear war? How will we survive? If I do survive I may have to cook over a campfire. Where will I get water? How long can I survive without food and water? Surely there will be pillaging and killings by hungry and ruthless thugs.
These are just a few of the things most people will be thinking about which will give us the opportunity to share God’s forgiveness, grace and provision with them by word and deed.
During this recovery, while I was at the public library, I met a man whose trailer had been blown to bits and was probably there to relieve himself and to cool off in the air conditioned building. In spite of all he had gone through, he continued to be the crusty old sea captain that he was. Knowing the kind of person he was by the things that he said, I asked him if the storm had made him repent. He said, “Repent of what? I’ve been a good person all my life.” (I’ve had heard it all before.) I followed up with, “You never thank God for anything.” He replied, “Well, I call on Him when I’m in trouble.” I said “Yes, and when He delivers, you forget all about Him!”
He won’t soon forget our encounter. I don’t usually talk to others that way but extreme cases require extreme measures.
While checking out at a local supermarket, I noticed an older gentleman standing in line behind me. Since I know what’s going on in people’s minds these days in Naples, I asked “Did you ever see such calamity in your lifetime?” He replied, “No never in my life, and now with war threats from North Korea, it’s getting crazy out there.” The cashier, a matronly lady piped up, “It all looks like the end of the world!” I hesitated, but only for a moment. Then I said, “I’m a student of Bible prophecy and you only have to read Luke 21:25 in the New Testament to know what’s going on.” She gasped while the smile that was crossing the old man’s face left and he became solemn.
If you believe in something you should not be afraid to voice it. I have a neighbor to whom I was witnessing say to me, “I don’t believe the Bible or any other book with talking snakes in it.” Of course he was referring to the serpent of the Garden of Eden. I stopped witnessing to him. That was two weeks before the hurricane. Yesterday though, while he was cleaning up after the hurricane near the road I stopped as I was driving by to welcome him home. He leaned into the car window and expressed his perplexity about all the hurricanes and earthquakes taking place around the globe. This tough talking guy actually seemed afraid. “I’ll be home alone for a few days cleaning up around the house; you can stop by to see me and talk.” Now he wants to talk.
In essence, he was inviting me to share the Good News of the gospel with him and I intend to follow through. But at this stage of the game I will not be politically correct and will not sugarcoat what I have to say. This is the hour of decision, no more pussyfooting around.
Hurricane Irma was a blessing in disguise in that many people are willing to discuss spiritual things more than ever before. When I ask if I can pray for them they willingly submit. Jesus said, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what I whisper in your ear, preach on the housetops.”