Part 5: Divine Warnings
Part 5: Divine Warnings
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever” (Psalm 103:8-9).
How Much Time Do You Think You Have Left?
“He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).
Life is filled with instances of the mercy, love, and grace of God, but we are prone to neglect His warning signals. A few incidents will suffice.
While pastor at Lisbon Falls, I had a secondary responsibility, the little church at West Bowdoin. One day some mothers who were asking for help in trying to save their boys from falling victim to the beer and cigarette habit approached me. It seemed they were being led by the words and practice of some men in the church.
Of course, as an educator, my sympathy was first with the mothers and secondly, with the boys. On the following Lord’s Day I spoke about the dangers of such habits and the shame of prostituting one’s influence to the mental and physical damage of children. Of course I used no names in my remarks but left the Holy Spirit and self-condemning consciences to make the application. They did, for on the next evening I was visited by three of the men from the church.
Their obvious purpose was to tell the pastor what he should or should not preach about. When they had ample opportunity to express themselves, I said to them, “Men, if you hoped to get me to condone your sins and to turn my back upon these worried mothers and their boys, you are very wrong. My sincere advice to you is to accept Christ as your Savior and Lord so all these habit problems will be solved”. Then turning to Frank their spokesman, I said, “Frank, will you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior?”
At first he hesitated then said, “That is a serious question and I need time to consider it.” “That is true, Frank. How old are you?” I asked. “Sixty-nine,” he answered. “Then, Frank, you have had at least sixty years to think it over. How much time do you think God will let you have?” He didn’t answer. “Remember what God has said” (Proverbs 29:1; Psalm 103:9).
In a short time they left, disappointed if not angry. Less than a month later, Frank came downstairs a bit late for breakfast and church on Sunday morning. He threw himself down in a chair by the table, gazed blankly a few moments at the things on the table and then slid quietly to the floor – DEAD. Proverbs 29:1 was once again vindicated.
You Need Jesus Christ Right NOW!
I had been amply warned not to call at a certain home in the community because the man living there was vehemently anti-religious and would insult me if I went near his house. That warning served as a challenge rather than a deterrent. When his fifteen-year-old daughter had been won to the Lord and had asked for baptism and been refused permission by her parents, I felt it was time for me to make a call at her home.
As I turned in off the road, her father was standing in the barn doorway. When he recognized me, he launched into a tirade against all preachers and churches in general and the local ones in particular. I waited without a word until he had exhausted his vocabulary then I simply said, “Yes, that is one way of looking at life, and if that makes you happy and satisfies you, it is all right with me”. Without further words I turned and left him.
A few days later I heard he had been taken to the Hospital. At the earliest moment possible I called. When he saw me enter the room, he seemed disturbed and nervous. Smiling, I approached the bed and said, “Frank, don’t be disturbed, for I have made it a practice never to hit a man when he is down”.
Then for a short time I did my best to help him forget his miseries and frustrations. I judged the call a success for when I left I took with me a sincere invitation to come again. I gladly accepted that invitation and spent several visits with him until he was discharged and went home.
Constrained by the love of Christ, I went to his home again, and this time I was welcomed warmly. Finding him up and around I felt no hesitation in asking him to listen as I told him of Christ and what He had done to and for me. Then I asked him if he would accept God’s invitation (John 6:37; John 10:28-39; I John 1:9). He listened thoughtfully and then said, “Not now but I am going to give you a big surprise. I am going to come to church Sunday”.
“Frank,” I said, “you need Christ right now more than you will ever need Him”. But he remained adamant. After a prayer with him I left for home and supper. Inside of four hours his wife called to tell me that Frank was dead.
God Calls a Young Person to accept Him NOW
She was an attractive young Miss who attended church and Sunday school quite regularly, but she had consistently shied away from any personal commitment of her life to Christ. One Friday night Mrs. Durost and I took a carload of teenagers to Sanford to hear Evangelist Gipsy Smith. She sat apparently unmoved through a very Spirit-filled service and invitation. During our ride home we tried to maintain a serious and thoughtful atmosphere by choosing for the group to sing some hymns that were suggestive of personal commitment.
The following Sunday evening found her in the group in the evening service. Throughout the service and again at the close, I extended the most urgent invitation. Still no response! I felt strangely moved to say that I felt that someone was hearing his or her last invitation. How true that premonition was! Wednesday afternoon of that week I buried that girl. Psalm 109:9.
Speak to This Man about his Soul’s Future
“When I say to the wicked, ‘Oh wicked man, you will surely die’, and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 33:8-9).
In June 1927 I was principal of a school in Warwick, Rhode Island. The morning I was to start to Maine on my vacation I stopped in at the Hardware store in Apponaug, the proprietor of which was a Mr. Towle. I had completed my purchase and was about to leave when distinctly the Holy Spirit said to me, “Speak to Mr. Towle about his soul’s future”. I was startled because the command was so urgent.
In spite of that I began to look about for an excuse for not obeying. The devil was ready to oblige, for while I was arguing with myself the door opened and in breezed a salesman with bluster and affability. Of course I could not interfere with business. So with a very polite “Good morning” to Mr. Towle, I left the store.
But this did not satisfy the voice of God, for when I reached the sidewalk, He again said, “Go back there and speak to him!” I had heard that accent before and had disregarded it at my own hurt. So I returned and waited the time required for the salesman to complete his call and depart. Then, rather shamefacedly I told Mr. Towle what had happened and urged him to accept God’s offer of love and mercy. He listened courteously and very seriously but he thought procrastination was the best response. He thanked me earnestly for my concerned words and promised consideration. So I left him feeling in my heart that I had faced honestly Ezekiel 33:8-9.
I went on my vacation and returned in about two weeks. My first visit upon my return was at the Baptist parsonage where my friend, Rev. Stephen Talbot lived. We had barely exchanged greetings when he said, “Have you heard about Mr. Towle?” “What about him?” I asked. He replied, “One morning last week he came down to the store as usual, walked behind the counter and dropped dead”. Oh how glad I was that God had given me the second chance to prepare him for that unexpected call!