When to Leave the Cities

Scripture: Isaiah 5:8, Matthew 24:14-15
Date: 12/03/2005 
This sermon deals with the topic of when it would be wise for Christians to leave the cities. Country living is the ideal place to live. Yet God calls us to reach the cities as well. The Lord does not want us to be hermits away from people. Neither do we need to live in the inner city environments. But there will come a time at the end in which we should flee the cities.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” --Matthew 24:15-18

Good morning. I’m glad to see each of you here and I want to welcome our visitors. I should probably begin this morning by making a little announcement, sort of a disclaimer. The message this morning is going to be unusual, out of the ordinary would be a better way to phrase it, from the normal fare we have week to week on Sabbath. I have been impressed to speak upon the subject of both country living and the cities and more specifically when to leave the cities. In the message this morning I’m going to be speaking largely to Seventh-day Adventists. If you are a visitor here and you’re from another persuasion or maybe not even a Christian, some of what you’re going to hear may seem strange. I’ll be quoting not only from the word of God, but you’ll hear me making several quotes and references to an inspired founder of the Seventh-day Adventist church, namely Ellen White. It’s important to do that, and so if you’d like to know more about why the Seventh-day Adventist church do believe in the inspiration of Ellen White, well, that’s another study and we’ll be happy to share that information with you. This is an important subject and I hope you’ll be praying with me as I proceed and it may seem strange to you that Christians would talk about when to leave the cities. You may be wondering, are we supposed to leave the cities? Where does that come from?

Well, I thought it’d be appropriate to start with a fable from Aesop. Would that be okay? How many of you have heard the story of the city mouse and the country mouse or different variations of this story? As the fable goes, the city mouse goes to visit his cousin who lives in the country and he shakes his head and he says, “What a shame. Here you are living in this grass hut and you’re just eating seeds. Why, back in the city I feast like a king! I eat cheese and bread and cake.” As his city cousin was preparing to leave the country mouse started looking around. He had felt content until his cousin made him discontent. He said, “Well, I’m going to come back and find out what it’s like to feast that way.” So he went with his city mouse cousin back to the city and he said, “Well, to start with, how’d you like some cake?” He says, “That sounds good, even though I don’t know what cake is yet.” They went out on the counter and there was a cake just sitting there, much more than they could ever eat. So they just nibbled, and he had never tasted anything so good, until he heard his city cousin shout, “Run!” He could see from the panic on his face he’d better follow. It looked like the cook evidently was coming in and had picked up a knife. So they ran for cover. After they went through a hole in the wall, they were huffing and puffing. He said, “Don’t worry about this. I know where there is some good cheese.” They went and they found a cupboard and in the cupboard was a cheese all unwrapped and the country mouse had never tasted anything so aromatic and while they were eating the cheese, pretty soon they heard, “Meow!” and the city mouse said, “Run!” They both ran for their lives huffing and puffing and they were inside a nook inside the wall there and he thought, “Boy, this is not good for my heart.” The country mouse was beginning to fret a little bit, but he said, “Well, look. There’s some more cheese.” He started to go over and take a piece of cheese that was sitting on this contraption and his city cousin said, “Don’t touch that!” He said, “If you eat that cheese, you’re dead!” It was a mousetrap. Pretty soon he said, “You know, I think I’m heading home because I’m not sure that the city life is for me.” I think the proverb that Aesop came up with at the end of the story is, “I’ll take my humble crumbs and seed in comfort over all of your finery with fear.”

Now there are definite advantages to city living. There are certain comforts and conveniences. There’s accessibility but there are also dangers. In the message today I’m going to try to do my best to strike a balance with where should Christians try to live? How should we place ourselves in the light of the Bible and inspired counsel, and I’m also going to weave in my own personal experience, and we’re all influenced by that a little bit, and it’ll help you gain some perspective. If nothing else, you’ll better understand why Pastor Doug and Karen are where we are, and I’m going to open up and get a little bit personal with you today about some of these things and these struggles. Perhaps I should begin by reminding you that I was not raised in the country. I guess you could say I’m a city mouse. I was born in Burbank, California, but by the time I was six years old I was living in New York City. So I grew up in Manhattan and got most of my education in New York City, but I lived in many cities because for a while we lived in L.A. and my dad moved to Miami. I lived in Miami and Miami Beach, and went to school in a number of different places.

I became discontent with the cities because the few times I’d go off to summer camp I was in awe. The country just seemed to call me. The mountains and there was something about it I found just absolutely hypnotic, and I couldn’t wait to get out. I guess I was looking for something real. In the city you’re surrounded by the things made by man and it was so artificial. So I had made up my mind. I said, “I want to find out what’s real,” and nature to me was real and so I ran away to the mountains. First time I ran away to the mountains I was thirteen years old. But I lived up there in the hills for about a day or two and I was so lonely because it was just me in a tent, thirteen years old, up in the hills. I thought, “I made it, I’m here,” and then I thought, “Now what?” You can only cook and eat so much. I became very lonely so I went back home with my tail between my legs. I thought next time I go I’m going to have a friend with me. So I finally ran away again at fifteen. I lost my friend somewhere along the way. He got arrested or something. I ended up going to the mountains in southern California, and I moved up into a cave way back in these desert mountains. I’ll tell you, it was real country living. I was a hermit. I liked it. At this time I was a little older and I had grown accustomed to being alone and I would go days without seeing anybody. I find that even people who are involved in country living, I have met very few people that have gone five or six days, no telephone, no radio, no newspaper, no human voice, just you’re by yourself. It’s a very interesting experience if you’ve never done that. I’m not recommending it, but it’s something you don’t forget.

Well, as I was living up there, I finally found a Bible, I accepted the Lord. I’m making a long story short. I was pretty much an atheist and I was looking for religion. I thought I’d find God in nature. So I really loved country living because it was a god for me for a little while. What I read in the Bible, there was a verse in Isaiah 5:8 that really resonated with me. It says, “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, till there is no place Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!” Of course, I read where God first made man, He put him in a garden. Is that country living? He put them in a garden environment. That is God’s ideal original plan for man. So I was yearning for this, but while I was living up there in the cave and after I accepted the Lord the Holy Spirit began to impress me, “You can’t just stay here and do nothing.”

I was so excited about the truth. I knew that God wanted me to share it. I realized that the more I shared Christ the more I was able to keep, the more I learned, the more I real it was. When I just said, “I’m glad I’m saved, too bad for all of those poor sardines living in the city” something was wrong with my spirit. I was reading this story about Elijah in the cave in the wilderness when he fled and when I got to the part where God said to Elijah, “What doest thou here?” I was up in the cave really hiding out, and here God had given me this truth and I was so excited about it, but I was just very much putting my light under a bush and God said, “You need to share it with people.” So now I went to the other extreme. I moved into the city. I had a job. I had several jobs. I’ve done everything. This is a picture of when I had a little steak business, and that was the apartment, lived in the city. While I was living there, I’m still not a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church yet. I’m going to church with my charismatic friends on Sunday because I thought they were nicer, and then I went to the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the Sabbath because I knew it was more biblical and more truth and so I was very conflicted for a while.

But somebody gave me a book called Country Living. I’ve got a copy of that here. It printed in 1946 and I started to read in that book some very important statements that I believe were true. For instance, I’ve got some quotes here. Country Living, page 32 where it says, “Out of the cities! Out of the cities! This is the message the Lord has been giving me. The earthquakes will come, the floods will come, and we are not to establish ourselves in the wicked cities where the enemy is served in every way and where God is so often forgotten.” Well, that really spoke to me. I thought, “That’s right. I should go back to the cave.” Then I read another statement here, and this is from Testimonies, Vol. VII. It’s also in Country Living. The ungodly cities of our world are to be swept away by the besom of corruption. In the calamities that are now befalling immense buildings and large portions of the city, God is showing us what will come upon the whole earth.” So then I said, “Alright, I’m out of here.” Got on the road, started hitchhiking. It’s an interesting story how I found Covelo. I was hitchhiking in Ukiah, California. I planned on going to the Redwoods. This is the rest of the story. I wanted to move into a tree. I had lived in a cave and now I wanted to move into a tree because I had read about that once before. I got picked up in Ukiah and this couple said they were going to Covelo. I said, “Well, what’s there?” They said, “Oh, there’s nothing out there. They don’t even have a theater in town. It’s just surrounded by wilderness.” I said, “That sounds good.” I said, “Are there any caves?” They said there were no redwoods. I said, “Well, are there any caves?” They said, “Probably in the Black Butte River so I went to Covelo, moved into a cave. Eventually I couldn’t just stay in a cave and do nothing. I got a job down in town, worked for the forestry. It was great. I was spinning trees up in the forest, but they said, “You need an address.” It’s a long story, but God worked out a miracle where I was able to get a piece of land in the hills, started buying it with a partner up there. We went into the firewood business. He took off. I’ve never heard from him since and I ended up with the property. It turned out to be a real blessing over time because we’ve still had that land ever since, and that is the first house I built. That’s what you call country living. I was eighteen, nineteen years old when I first built that. That was an upgrade. I was living in a tent when we first moved up there. Yes, we had goats. We’d milk them right there in the house. They’d jump in. I’ve got another picture. I actually improved the house. Here is the upgrade on the house. By the way, I built this with a chainsaw, the only power tool I had. You’d be surprised how much you could do. On the inside there were rafters. Lived up there six years, sold firewood, did odd jobs, mechanic work, but it was country living. It was a beautiful place, beautiful view, gravity flow water. Still have the same property up there.

But then I began to get the call to the ministry. I’ll tell you something. I don’t think I’ve told too many people. You may think this is weird and I even hesitate telling you this. I spent hours and hours by myself up in the woods cutting trees, splitting wood, and go to town, sell the wood, get the groceries, come back home. You just manage to stay barely ahead of starvation when you’re doing that, and I was studying a lot and I think God wanted me to have this time in the wilderness to study. God took Paul into Arabia for three years and he studied and he prepared. Moses, forty years in the wilderness, preparing by beholding the things of God and through study. He wrote Genesis while he was in the wilderness. This was sort of that time for me. While I was cutting wood up there by myself this one day, I just had this overwhelming sense God was speaking to me and saying, “Doug, I want you to preach the things you’re learning to the whole world.” Now you don’t know how absurd that sounded to me because I was as isolated. I was isolated from a town where there was one gas station. I was twelve miles of dirt road way up in the hills and I felt this impression that I’m supposed to preach to the whole world. But you know, I began to think that maybe God was telling me this because I remember when I was in the cave, I felt the impression that I was supposed to share my testimony with the world and a helicopter crew flew up to my cave from NBC and interviewed me after that. So I thought, well, maybe I’m supposed to preach. Right after that God began to open doors in town for me to preach in other churches. It’s a long story I can’t tell. Read the book.

But I began to travel around and was preaching around the country in Texas and did mission work in New Mexico and while we were away from the home, the shack up there, some other country living people moved into our cabin while we were gone and started growing pot on our property. We finally went back, Karen and I burned that house down. We were paying taxes on that shack. Can you believe that? They should have paid us. They shouldn’t charge us taxes. So we burnt that down because people kept moving into it and it was real dilapidated and then designed a much nicer home that we thought would last. This is a picture, I’m almost embarrassed to tell you. That’s our house now in Covelo. It’s about twenty years old. Designed it, built it, it’s completely off the grid, solar electric. There’s a closer picture here and you can see the solar panels up on the roof. I understand water power, solar power, wood power, we use wood power to heat the hot water in the wintertime. There aren’t too many pastors out there that understand country living much better than Pastor Doug. Not too many. Let me just tell you right now I speak fluent country living. This is way out in the hills. It’s been thirty years since we first got the property up there. We have three or four dogs that depending on what day of the week it is. Just way back in the woods. Bears, coyotes, you name it, all of the wildlife up there. When we take off, we go up there. Now, that’s where I’d rather be. Nothing personal, friends. I like you, but as soon as the Lord gives me just the slightest opportunity, I’m outta here. I’m not here in Sacramento now because I don’t like country living. I would much rather be there, but after several years living there I had, I should say we had the ideal situation. Pastoring the little Covelo church, nice church, great people, had a school. It’s a little red schoolhouse. Good Christian teachers, country environment, did some conference evangelism so I got to go out into some of the cities and do evangelism. Perfect situation. Coulda done it forever.

And then the Holy Spirit began to impress me that God wanted me to do something more. That impression I had back in the woods kept coming back. The conference president was Don Schneider came to our house. I knew he was committed when he came all the way to our house in Covelo. Coming to Covelo would have been enough, twelve miles further to our house. He said, Pastor Doug, we want you to go to Sacramento. I thought, I’d have to be crazy to want to leave this. I’d have to live there. Can I commute? No, it’s too far. It’s four and a half hours from here. Really began to pray about that. I’ll tell you it was a battle, and the Lord would not let me off the hook. I really felt that God wanted me to do this to reach more people while time lingered.

Karen and I needed a sign because everything I’d read about country living, why would you take your family? Stephen was three months old, is that right? Why would you take your family with all the counsel we’ve got and go from a situation like that and move even to the outskirts of Sacramento? We prayed and prayed and we said, Lord, we need to know. We began to study the subject of country living because I was feeling a great paradox. I was reading verses that talked about working the cities and reading these verses saying flee the cities. I was trying to figure out what am I supposed to do? I kept being impressed by the Lord, this was where I was supposed to go. Now I’ve been here thirteen years. I hope you don’t disagree. Some of you, if you’re thinking, “Well, Doug, you made the wrong decision.” Well, then I guess the last thirteen years was not the Lord’s leading, but you’re going to have a hard time convincing me of that. Matter of fact Karen and I had no furniture because our furniture was all in our house in Covelo. We weren’t selling it. School was getting ready to start, and we prayed. We parked not far from Winding Way, and we prayed and said, “Lord, if You want us to come, we have no home, we have no furniture, we have no time” because they wanted an immediate response. We said, “We’re going to look around for a house. You need to show us if this is Your will.” So we took off, started driving up and down some streets and I didn’t know where I was going. I just saw a development and I turned in not too far from the school. There was a house with a “For Sale” sign. I said, “Well, look. Here’s one.” A house is a house, right? Matter of fact, I had prayed, it was silly, but in the prayer I said, “And Lord, if it could be a nice neighborhood, maybe even some brown brick…” That’s right. A brown brick house not too far from the school. The house that had the “For Sale” sign had some brown brick. I said, “Let’s go ask.” Karen said, “You’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to call the realtor.” I said, “Well, let’s just go look at it if someone is home.” So we came to the door and the lady looked a little nervous when she saw me, but then she saw Karen with the baby and she was more relaxed. So she let us come in and look around and we ended up, of course, going through the agent. She said, “I’ve got to move out right away, and I’m selling the house largely furnished because I’m moving into a retirement home and I don’t have room.” The short end of the story was that within a week escrow closed and we had a house and the kids were in school and we bought a house next door to the pastor that built this church, where he built. He used the same stone so we’ve got some of the same stone in the church as on our house. I don’t know what that means. There’s probably some spiritual application there.

But then the Lord just kept blessing the vision here as you know. I felt impressed that God wanted us to use TV to get the message out, and He helped us get on local cable. Then Pastor John Freeman of Roseville called and said, “Pastor Doug, we’ve got this TV permit and we haven’t gotten on the air yet. Would Central like to take this over, and get the station on the air?” I didn’t go looking for a TV station. The Lord just blessed. Then a little while later, after just about a year, God is blessing, the church is growing, Joe Cruz calls and he says, “I’m getting old. I’m thinking of retiring and we’re wanting to train someone in. Would you consider coming to Amazing Facts?” I said, “No, because I know we already struggled. I’m not going back east. There’s even more cities back there than there are in California. I know the Lord led us to Sacramento.” He asked me two or three times. He’d call and say, “You know, I feel impressed to talk to you about coming.” I just knew the Lord had led us to Sacramento, but then I started feeling impressed to go to Amazing Facts. A tremendous struggle. You have no idea how we prayed about that. Finally Joe Cruz said, “Come and visit with our board. We’re meeting in a few weeks.” I said, “Well, I’ve got a week of prayer. I can’t come.” He said, “After you do to week of prayer at Andrews, you come and meet with our board.” So I said, “Well…” He said, “We’ll pray for your wife to join you. She’d get the free tour of Washington, D.C.” So it sounded tempting and so we did that. On the way, Joe Cruz had a stroke and while I was doing the week of prayer he passed away. Now I thought, “What do I do?” The Lord said, “You need to still come to this meeting more than ever.” Met with Amazing Facts. We felt impressed to take the call, but we couldn’t understand why because we knew the Lord led us to Sacramento. We really did not know that Amazing Facts was going to move to California, but God did. It turned out they had sold the office and they were looking for another conference or place to do the office. I said, “I want to do a church-based ministry. We’ve already got a church so let’s move the office.” So we prayed, and we looked at several conferences and states and God led the ministry and gave them a miraculous building just outside of Sacramento in Roseville. Another miracle. So all of these things are happening and I’m still, every day I’m thinking, I want to go to Covelo. That’s a chant I say to myself all of the time. Every day because, pardon me, friends. The house is there. It’s paid for. We could sell firewood and have all we needed to pay the taxes. It’d be so easy, and it burns me up. Karen actually called to get prices on firewood here in town and we’ve got cords and cords of firewood, it’s just too far away. So all of this is the context of the experience that I’m coming to you from. I struggle with this, how do you relate reaching the world with the country living? Well, we’ve got so many statements. “It is not God’s purpose that people should be crowded into cities, huddled together in terraces and tenements. In the beginning He placed our first parents amid the beautiful sights and sounds. He desires us to rejoice in today. The more nearly we come in harmony with God’s original plan, the more favorable will be our position to secure health of body, mind, and soul.” That’s Ministry of Healing, page 363. I believe that. “More and more as time advances our people will have to leave the cities. For years we’ve been instructing our brethren and sisters that, especially families with children, should plan to leave the cities as a way opens before them to do so.” Now there are some many benefits to living in… Well, let me read you one more quote from Country Living. “The time is near when the large cities will be visited by the judgments of God. In a little while these cities will be terribly shaken. No matter how large or how strong their buildings, no matter how many safeguards against fire have been provided, let God touch these buildings, in a few hours they’ll be in ruins.” Did we see that on 9/11? I wouldn’t want to have been living in downtown New York back then.

What are some of the benefits of country living? This is not all. This is a small list. Fresher air generally than the cities, clean water, you can see God’s creation, you’ve got wholesome food. You can eat out of your garden. Room for outdoor labor, you can avoid the worldly influences in the city, grow your own fruits and vegetables, not to mention all of the stress and the traffic. Wherever there is more people there’s going to be more problems because the human heart is desperately wicked. Yeah, every now and then you’ll hear of some horrific crime in the country, but typically the cities, you’ve got a greater concentration of violence and strife and bloodshed and pollution and these different issues. No question you are better off living in the country or closer to the country and as far out of the city as you can be. Now some of you are saying, “Pastor Doug, you’re coming down pretty hard on those of us that have to, because of our families” some people are married and have blended families where maybe some are not converted and don’t feel this way, or their work, their finances, it’s just not preparing them. I want to strike a balance today. You pray for me. Are you praying for me? Send up a prayer right now if you haven’t yet because this is a very important issue and chances are this tape is going to get circulated because it is a very volatile issue. There are two extremes to which people go on the subject of living in the cities, country mouse, city mouse. One extreme is what I was doing when I was a virtual hermit living way out in the hills only thinking about my comfort, my security, being insulated from the evils of mankind, I mean, I had a pretty nasty attitude about humanity and how evil it was coming from my perspective of living in the cities. But then I realized how much Jesus loves people and He wants to reach them. Then the other extreme is people who say, “Well, because we’re supposed to reach the cities” they get right down in the middle of it so instead of reaching the cities, the city reaches them. They are converted by the intense concentrated evil influences that you’re going to find in a city.

Now as we talk about cities, please keep something in mind. Cities are different. I’ve been around the world. Trust me, cities are different. If I was told I had to live in a city, I’d want to know what city first thing. Bombay and some of the cities in India? They still launch dead bodies out into the river, and the streets are extremely unsanitary. You see rats running everywhere. You can still see rats running everywhere in New York City. That would be different than maybe the city of Lincoln. I’m not talking about Lincoln, Nebraska, for those who are watching. I’m talking about Lincoln, California. They’re a fairly new city. The air is still reasonably clean and you’re not going to have as many of the problems that you might have in downtown Chicago for instance. Would you all agree that some cities can be different? I’m not trying to justify living in cities; I’m just saying, let’s be intelligent about this. For instance, Acts 17:11, the Bible says, “These” in Berea “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily…” The very nature of the people living in Berea, Luke says, was better than those in Thessalonica. Why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the four cities of the plain but he didn’t destroy all the cities in Canaan? Very simple answer, because there was a difference. When Lot moved to Sodom the Bible says, “but the men of Sodom were sinners exceedingly before the Lord.” So are we all agreed that there could be varying circumstances in varying cities. Are we agreed on that? I’m not trying to justify city living.

The other thing about cities you want to consider is, the closer you get, the cities typically have downtown, they typically have a core. As you get near to the concentration of people the more heavily populated areas and you get a little further out, things seem to improve the further away you get. Would you agree with that? You know this church location when it was built was country. Some of you remember back when they bought this and there were fields around here. It’s hard for us to imagine right now because you’ve got to go quite a ways before you find a field right now by this church. So some people started out country living. Some of you who live around the church, when you bought your home, you said, “I’m following country living.” Well, you were swallowed by the city because the sprawl tends to grow. So these are just some things to keep in mind.

We have a command also, not only to avoid the evil that you’ll find in the city, and capitalize on the benefits of country living, to work the cities. Consider this for a moment. The percentage of the world’s population that lives in a major city around 1900 was fifteen to twenty percent lived in a major city, North America. Twenty-nine percent in 1950. It went from fifteen to twenty percent to twenty-nine percent. In 1998 that went to forty-seven percent of the people in North America were living in or by a major city. Right now approximately fifty percent of the people in North America, not even talking about the other parts of the world, live by a major city. By the year 2015 it’s expected to be fifty-five percent. Now what is the great commission? Go into all the world. Don’t put your light under a bush. Has probation closed for the cities yet, or are there still cities that need to hear the gospel? Then we need to say, how do we reach the cities without being stuck in the cities and the influences there? What is the context for this? Let me read a few quotes to you, please. This is from Letter 106, 1910 this was written. “Many in the cities are still without the light of the gospel message. Those who neglect to sound forth the gospel message of warning will in the future suffer deep regret. My message is let companies be organized to enter the city. Seek proper locations for holding meetings. Circulate our literature.” Well, we’re having a meeting now in the city. See and that would be interesting. How many of you would say this is in the city? I think it’s in the city. Yeah, if you look around everywhere there’s traffic lights, you’re in the city. Is that my definition? I’ve actually got a definition for a city here somewhere. Oh, “A city is a center of population, commerce and culture of significant size.” “Our restaurants must be in the cities for otherwise the workers in these restaurants could not reach the people and teach them the principals of right living, and for the present will have to occupy meeting houses…” She calls churches meeting houses. That’s what this is. “…in the cities.” That’s General Conference Bulletin, April 6, 1903.

“We all need to be wide awake that as the way opens we might advance the work in the large cities,” not just cities, the large cities. “We are far behind in following the light given us to enter the cities and erect memorials for God.” What do you think those memorials are? Plaques? Statues? Churches. Now I remember, it was right here. It was at Bill May’s funeral, Cyril Miller came up to me and he tapped me on the shoulder and he said, “Doug, we need to reach New York City.” This was 1999 I think it was, or ’98. He says, “You lived there. You understand it. We want you to go.” The North American Division asked Amazing Facts to go to New York City. Do you think I wanted to do that? Karen and I had to live right in the city. It just was not practical, couldn’t make the meetings on time to commute from outside. We had to get an apartment right on 34th Street. We’d look up. We had a one room apartment. $4000 a month for a one room apartment. Little skylight. Every night we looked up, saw the Empire State Building. It was right above us. We kept hoping no one would commit suicide and crash down through our skylight. We lived right there in the midst of that. It was a struggle, but you know what? Over the years you know how many people have told us they came to the Lord and were baptized as a result of that series? Not only in New York, but from the tapes worldwide, thousands. I kept thinking, “Oh, Lord, I hate it here.” That’s why I left when I was a kid. I never had any desire to go back, but God said, “Go back.” This last year He told us to go to Washington, and before Madras and Manila. I could just start naming cities of the world where He sends us because Jesus loves people and where are most of the people? So we’ve got to find a way to reach the people in the cities, in the world without the world reaching us, and that’s what the challenge is for Christians.

Oh, again here, “The disciples of Christ are His representatives upon earth and God designs they shall be scattered all over the country, in the towns, cities, villages…” Now are you saying, Doug, that people should move into the cities? No, especially if you have children try to live on the outside, the suburbs or something. “…villages as light amidst the darkness.” That was Testimonies, Volume VIII. In the book Christian Service, 180, “We see the great need of missionary work to carry the truth not only to foreign countries, but to those who are near us. Close around us are cities and towns in which no effort is being made to save souls. Why should not families who know the present truth settle in these cities and villages to set up the standard of Christ?” Now I don’t believe this is telling us that families should go to some of these more offensive cities because I think you need to consider those things. But here is a principal I want to give you. Look at everything in this context. I know sometimes when I’m thinking of running for cover so I could be in my country home, I’m thinking selfishly. You and I know people who, they panic with the idea of getting out of the cities and they’re hearing about the destruction that’s going to come and they’re hearing about the benefits and the driving force… and there’s no question about that. But generally speaking if God’s people, because they’re thinking about their own protection, and we’re going to hoard our food and get ready for the end of the world, and we’re going to save ourselves by being real savvy about country living and we become hermits, this is not the time for isolation, for separating ourselves so that we can’t reach people. Then what happens is people are lost because all we’re thinking about is ourselves. The other danger is because of convenience and maybe you get paid better and the more to tickle the imagination in the city we’re going to lose ourselves or our families like Lot did by being too close. So we’ve got to know, Lord, where do You want me to be? And I can’t overemphasize we need to pray about where He wants us to go and how He wants to lead us.

In fairness I know that I might be making some of you uncomfortable. That’s probably a pastor’s job description. You need to be aware when you read Country Living, and I love this book and I treasure the information there, it’s what you call a compilation. Do you know what a compilation is? Are you all aware Ellen White never read Country Living? This was developed in 1946. Now do you know what was happening in the world between 1940 and 1945? Anyone ever heard of World War II? What do you think the feelings were in the church during that time when the atom bomb had just been dropped, the nuclear buildup had begun, they had just witnessed many thousands of major cities in the world being totally decimated with bombs. They believed that the Lord was coming any year, and the trustees of the White Estate said, “We need to tell our people to get out of the cities,” and so they went through the fifteen million words that Ellen White wrote. Do you know she wrote about fifteen million words? Fifty thousand pages. Wrote more than any other woman in American history. That’s quite a feat. Fifty thousand pages of handwritten manuscript and they assembled everything they could find about the danger of the cities and the benefits of the country and they assembled it in this booklet of about thirty-two pages and eleven thousand words. Now if you read this by itself without balancing it with everything else, sugar cane is good, but if you just eat sugar, sugar is the result of concentrating what you would get naturally in sugar beets or sugar cane. It is a concentration. In its natural state you can handle it okay, but if you don’t mitigate it with the other material where it’s naturally surrounded you can get pure sugar, you become a diabetic. You understand? Let me illustrate. One day Karen and I went to town to do some grocery shopping. Micah was a little older. He wanted to stay. We were up in our country house. We thought he’d be fine. We were a little longer in town than we expected to be. We got back and Micah looked sick. We said, “Are you okay?” “No.” “What’s wrong?” “I don’t know.” “Did you have any dinner?” “Yes.” “What did you have?” “Soup.” “Soup. What kind of soup?” “Campbell’s.” “Did you add water?” “You’re supposed to add water?” He opened a can of vegetarian vegetable soup and ate the thing right out of the can and his stomach was sour because he ate it in its concentrated form. If you had mixed it in with some water it would have been fine. Sometimes people will just take something like this and they use it as the primary source and you can end up doing rash things, and you need to be careful. Did that make sense? So read it for what it is and understand that it’s a compilation, understand the context of how it was written and the times in which it was written.

Let me share some things with you about what were the conditions of the world in the 1800’s, early 1900’s in the cities? Let me share a few things with you. What was the condition of the cities in the 1800’s? Many of the poverty-stricken families… Now this is just from some history books. “Many of the poverty-stricken families that lived in the city residence and the tenement houses were all crammed together. A majority of these very poor families lived in three small compartments sharing a kitchen and two bedrooms with one another. All rooms were very dark and stuffy,” Jacob Reese, a prominent 19th century writer describes the battle with the slums, “the space that separated the two tenements as being too narrow to let the light through, too busy carrying up the smells from below to bring any air down. The plumbing systems of tenements were not up to par and often the pipes that ran through the houses were not connected to any city sewage system but ran simply into the basement. These conditions caused many problems including disease control. Cholera, yellow fever, smallpox were among the many deadly illnesses that ravaged the poor. In one house,” speaking of New York City, “twenty cases of typhoid fever were reported in one year. There were sometimes only one bathtub for all these families and it would hang in an airshaft. Many times four of the families on a floor shared a sink that stayed in a hallway. This sink was the only water source and was frequently filthy and a menace to health.” Then the references. “By the late 1800’s New York City’s human population was exploding fueled by waves of immigrants and torrents of untreated human waste and chemical discharges ravaged the harbor’s waters. Raw sewage accumulated ten feet deep on portions of the bottom rotting and giving off methane gas so vigorously that sightseers would go to the edge and watch the waters seethe and spit.” The waters actually boiled. Now when I lived in New York City it was a lot worse than it is today because they didn’t have the sanitation rules then that they’ve got now regarding dogs and other things. “The decomposition robbed the harbor of oxygen. The only living thing was bacteria. Sheets of floating garbage washed back and forth on the beaches carrying waste and dead animals to the swimmers. Oil slicks would ignite on the water’s surface…” There’s a lot here I won’t read for you. “Some reaches of the harbor were so polluted they became legendary. Stenches from the creeks could be smelled for blocks and sometimes of year the people would have to flee.” The air was very polluted in the cities because they heated the cities back then largely with wood and coal and the factories were powered by wood and coal. “Coal fueled much of the early electric production. Coal fired power plants proved efficient but highly polluting. Coal also fueled much of the early heavy industry in the US which had begun to grow up in the major eastern cities such as New York and Philadelphia. Coal also proved necessary in the production of steel and iron ore, consequently the water was frequently polluted by acid, iron, sulfur, aluminum and other toxic ions drained away from these mines into the streams. In the late 1800’s St. Louis was a city of great growth and rapid development, industrial growth produced billows of sooty coal smoke that took its toll on St. Louis and the environment. On November 28th, 1939,” that’s not that long ago, “the worst smoke cloud in St. Louis history enveloped the downtown area. Streetlights had to be turned on at midday. People could not see buildings across the street. Traffic was delayed. It was known as Black Tuesday.” Now the reason I’m reading some of these disturbing things is, when you read a lot of the statements about conditions in the city, which are still, in some ways now they’re worse, in some ways they’re better. The air and the sanitation in the cities of North America was like some third world countries. You would walk down the street and you could wipe your face and the handkerchief would be black. It’s still that way in L.A. certain times a year. But I’m just trying to give you the context for some of the statements so when you read Country Living just be intelligent about the time it was written, the context, and then apply those things with the other writings about where to position ourselves.

Ultimately what is a Christian? Christian is a follower of Christ. Am I right? And we need to follow His example. What is the example of Jesus? Luke 21:37-38 “in the daytime He was teaching in the temple” in Jerusalem, “but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet.” Where did He stay on Mt. Olives? Garden of Gethsemane. Now here is Jesus as a pattern. He worked in the city during the day, but at night He went to as close a country environment as He could find which happened to be on the Mount of Olives and it was the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 11:1 “Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.” Do we have a work to do to reach the people in the cities? Yes, we do. Jesus said, Matthew 10:23, “when they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” What’s the example of the apostles? Well, I told you. Paul and others spent time in the wilderness. The disciples were by the Sea of Galilee, they were on the mountainside and then they would go into the cities. They would sort of do like Enoch where he had a home in the mountains but he was a preacher of righteousness in the cities. We need to know how to have that balance. Acts 8:40 “But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.” Acts 14:3 “Therefore they stayed there” in the city of Iconium “a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord…” Acts 18:9-11 “Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.’” Do you think that was true only of Macedonia or is it true of Sacramento? When God no longer has people in the city, what happens? What happened when God couldn’t find five righteous in Sodom? When there’s no salt, there’s no purpose. It’s lost its savor, and I think that there are still a lot of people in a lot of these cities that are waiting, they’re sincere and they need to be gathered in. We need to find out how can we reach them and not just thinking about protecting ourselves. The spirit of a missionary is the spirit of cross bearing where you are willing to deny yourself and take risk to save others. I know some people that I admire, I frankly think they’re better than I am because they left very comfortable circumstances in North America where they had country homes, nice occupations, and they’ve gone into foreign mission fields with their families where they’re in some very dangerous places. But you know sometimes to do mission work you can’t just send everybody when they’re old. Sometimes you’ve got to go when you’re young enough where your kids can learn the language and others can learn the language and you can raise up soul-winners. And they expose themselves to dangers and risk, and it isn’t always convenient. We just need to know where is the Lord sending me and how can I do His work?

I’ve got so much to share with you. So how do we reach the people in the cities? You could also read Acts 19 where they spent years in Ephesus. The idea is outposts. Why don’t you all say that? Outposts. Are you with me? I’m not talking about like when the settlers had a fortress where they’d watch for approaching Indians. On the outsides of the cities something like lighthouses. You know a lighthouse doesn’t shine if it’s in the city because it gets confused with all of the lights of the city. It needs to be separated somewhat from the city in order for the ships to say, “Ah, that’s an outpost. It’s a lighthouse.” Often the keeper of the outpost or the lighthouse lives there by it. Outside of the cities at a reasonable distance we should try to secure places where we can meet the criteria of the benefits of country living. Very simply, if you can find a place where you can have fresh air, clean water, sanitary living conditions, hopefully enough geography or dirt where you can grow some of your own fruits and vegetables and enjoy the things of God’s creation, avoid the evil influences that might be seen in a congested city environment, that’s a great situation. You don’t want to be so far away that you can’t be ministering to where the people are. God has given some people a special calling to go to isolated places and minister in small communities. I’ve lived in dark counties before and I’m all for that, but most people, that’s not where they are, and if God’s people all put their tail between legs right now when Jesus is about to come and flee for our own selfish protection, and not be where we can reach the cities, that’s a concern. That wouldn’t be from the Lord; that would be from the enemy, and we need to be very careful about that.

Well, how far out do you have to go? Would you like, I can’t tell you where you’re supposed to live, but I’ll give you some guidelines. The Bible says we should have meeting houses in the cities. I’m sorry. Yes, the Bible says that too, but I read several inspired quotes that talked about having meeting houses in the cities. Back when that was written, horse and buggy was the fastest way to get around so they weren’t very far from the cities because they would take buggies into the meeting houses. So these outposts, you want to be far enough out where the sprawl is not going to catch up with you too quick and you still don’t have to spend so much time in a commute that you don’t have time with your family and you don’t have time for other practical things. Some people live so far away from the cities, what do you think, friends? Do you want Karen and I to move back to Covelo and commute once a week? Just give me permission, we’ll do it. We’ll come down Friday night, leave Sunday morning. It’s not a very practical commute to serve the people here, would you agree? So you’ve got to strike that balance. I think it’s interesting, our head elder here, where are you, Rich? He was praying about country living for years, looking for a place out in the country, and you know what God got for them, but his work was in the city, and God got them a place, got some land, got horses, got a whole menagerie of animals. I don’t even know how many animals you’ve got and a creek out back and fruit trees and a garden and they’re in the city of Citrus Heights. It was amazing. You go to the house and you think, “Wow ! How’d this fit in here?” So God blessed them, and they know that the Lord put them there so they can continue ministering and still be able to enjoy some of the benefits. What if you find a place, you can’t get all twenty-five of the top benefits of country living, but you can get twenty of them? Well, if that’s where the Lord is leading you, don’t say, “Oh, I don’t have all twenty-five.” You’ve got to be intelligent, friends, and be balanced. You might say, “Yeah, I can go to Covelo.” You can say that with me, “I want to go to Covelo.” But yeah, you’ll have all twenty-five, but you can’t practically reach people for the ministry He’s given you. So we need to have this balance.

When are we supposed to leave the cities? Now. That’s what I’ve been saying. At least especially the congested part. She talks about the heart of the city, you ought to get out. When disaster strikes, when the terrorist bombs go off, when the planes hit the building, where did it hit? Did they strike the suburbs? It’s the congested hearts of these cities that are especially at risk. You can almost look at the skyline of a city and see where you want to get away from. It goes like this and then it goes, whoop, whoop, and then it goes like that. You want to be out there somewhere. Keep going down to the next slide, Sherle. I’m running out of time, and… Here we go. Country Living, page 31, “Repeatedly the Lord has instructed us that we are to work the cities from outpost centers. In these cities we are to have houses of worship as memorials for God, but institutions for the publication of our literature, for the healing of the sick and for the training of workers are to be established outside the cities.” Only two things should really be in the cities as far as institutions, places of worship, restaurants. If you put a restaurant out in the hills where I live, not going to be in business long or you won’t have very many customers. You’ve got to put it where you can educate the people. I’ve got a picture here of Boston. I want to just show you something. This is a map, the darker green colors are the highest concentrations. As the colors get lighter green and then move towards tan, they’re lower concentrations. You get into the tan areas there, and most cities have maps like this, then you’re getting into the areas that have a little more space and you’re more likely to get some land where you can fulfill the benefits of country living.

I don’t believe now is the time for us to flee into remote mountain places. When was Lot told to flee? Oh, wait. Before I get there, you know what, this outpost concept, something I didn’t want to miss saying here at Central. Why do you think the Lord opened the way for us to get this property right on the outside of town? Because we want to have an evangelism training center, we’ll not only have a place of worship, but we can be training people to work the capital of California and still be located where the workers can live in more rural areas. This is an ideal situation, here we are at the end of time, for us to fulfill the counsel we’ve been given for years to develop an outpost. It’s a beautiful environment. Maybe you can’t tell from the aerial picture, but if you look on the back of the land there, you’ve got a pond and some trees and it’s a beautiful situation for an evangelism training school and to reach people. I think God is leading. If you were in my shoes and you see what God has done over the years, you’d be so excited that you’d wish you could put it into a pill and give it to everybody, but then I would be going against medical ministry.

When are we supposed to flee? Jesus tells us. It was our scripture reading. The abomination of desolation. Turn to Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world…” Would that include the cities? “…as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” He goes on, he says, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” Oh, and I could reiterate this prayer “(whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those with nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.” Now Jesus made this prediction in about 30 A.D. A generation later in 40 A.D. Jerusalem was surrounded by the Romans and ultimately destroyed. There was a brief window that was provided for the Christians to flee, and if they didn’t recognize that window, and if they tried to pack their stuff and pull it on an ox cart they would have been caught. They had a very narrow window of time to flee, and the Bible says when you see Jerusalem, Luke words it differently. “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies let those that be in Judea flee into the hills.” That’s in Luke 21:20. Let me read a quote to you from the book Great Controversy I believe it is. “When the idolatrous standards of the Romans should be set up in the holy ground which extended some furlongs outside the city walls, then the followers of Christ were to find safety in flight.” What does flight mean? Flee. You’re not packing your bags and looking for new real estate. You’re running for your life. “When the warning sign should be seen those who would escape must make no delay. Throughout the land of Judah as well as Jerusalem itself the signal for flight must be immediately obeyed. He who chanced to be on the housetop must not even go down to his house to save his most valued treasures” unless it’s your children. “Those who are working in the fields or the vineyards must not take time to return for their outer garment laid aside while they should be toiling in the heat of the day. They must not hesitate a moment lest they be involved in the general destruction.” GC 88 Does everybody know that the day is coming when there is going to be a great time of trouble and our cities are going to experience general destruction? When does that happen? That happens just as probation closes. When Lot fled from Sodom was there anymore preaching going on in Sodom or were they doomed? When the disciples fled from Jerusalem back in 70 A.D. was there any more preaching and evangelism going on in Jerusalem? No. Keep in mind from the time Jesus said this, he gave them forty years of grace before they had to run for their lives. Did the disciples preach in Jerusalem up until that time? They did because they were told to reach the people there. Jesus said, “Beginning in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the outermost parts of the earth…” So they needed to be ready to run, and there will still be some of God’s people that will probably be working the cities up to that moment and they’re not going to have time. They’re going to have to jump in their car and run. I mean, it’s going to be like that. What is that sign? How do we know when that time comes to flee when probation is closed for the cities? This is from Testimonies, Vol. V, page 464, “The time is not far distant when like the early disciples we shall be forced to seek refuge in desolate and solitary places.” That’s why I haven’t taken a tour to my cave. I might need it again someday. You all know where I live in Covelo. “As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight” we’re talking about fleeing “flight to the Judean Christians so the assumption of power on the part of our nation, in a decree enforcing the papal Sabbath.” When there is a law that is compelling us to recognize Sunday as a day of worship, I’m talking about a general law. There’s always been Sunday laws on the books, and different ones have bubbled to the surface over time, but it’s talking about a general law that is being forced upon the people, that is the sign. “enforcing the papal Sabbath, this will be a warning to us. It will then be time to leave the large cities, preparatory to the smaller ones for retired homes and secluded places among the mountains.” Why? Well, for one thing persecution is going to make it very difficult. When there is a Sunday law, and we’re still preaching the Sabbath truth, is it going to be safe for us to go into congested places and stand on the corner and tell everybody that or will we be seen as lawbreakers? That’s the small time of trouble when you want to go to more secluded places. Finally when probation closes, we’re going to be fleeing for desolate places. And let me add, and that’s a time when you’re going to want to remember Lot’s wife, don’t look back.

Now can we prepare for that time of trouble, the big time of trouble? You know, I meet people every now and then that the big time of trouble, not the small time of trouble, you know what the difference is. The big time of trouble is when the plagues are falling and you and I know people who have gone and they’ve bought lots of food and they stored it away and they’ve got all of their provisions and is hoarding food going to save us in that time? Let me read you a quote. This is from the book Maranatha, 181, “The Lord has shown me in vision repeatedly” (you’ve either got to believe her or not) “that it is contrary to the Bible to make any provision for our temporal wants in the time of trouble. I saw that if the saints have food laid up by them or in the fields in the time of trouble, when sword, famine and pestilence are in the land, it will be taken from them by violent hands and strangers will reap their fields. Then will be the time for us to wholly trust in God. He will sustain us. I saw that our bread and that our water would be sure at that time. We should not lack or suffer hunger. The Lord has shown me that some of His children would fear…” When they see the price of food rising, they’d buy food, they’d lay it up for the time of trouble, hoarding food. “Then at the time of need I saw them go to their food,” they open their pantry, they look at it, “and it’s bred worms and it was full of living creatures not fit for use.” I did that. Back during the first gulf war I got scared; thought this is it! I got five gallon buckets, filled them with food. Last few times Karen and I have been to Covelo we’ve been throwing all that stuff out. It was wasted. Did the Lord take care of the children of Israel when they went through the wilderness, feed them? Did He take care of Elijah when he fled in the wilderness? Does the Bible say, “When the woman fled in the wilderness, God fed her there.” Revelation 12. He’ll feed us at that time.

Now is the time for us to position ourselves for maximum evangelistic potential. Jesus wants to say, has probation closed for the world or do we have a work to do? So at the same time we don’t want to be living, and especially those of you who have children, in a place where they’re surrounded by these evil influences. Let’s move cautiously. “Let everyone take time to consider carefully and not be like the man in the parable who began to build and was not able to finish. Not a move should be made, but that movement and all that it portends are carefully considered, everything weighed. There may be individuals who will make rash movements to do something and enter into some business and they don’t know anything about it. This God does not require. Think candidly, prayerfully studying the word of God with carefulness and prayerfulness, with mind and heart awake to hear the voice of God.” And there’s a number of other statements here about moving prayerfully and seeing how God is leading you.

I know that I’ve gone a little longer than normal. I want to make sure that I haven’t forgotten anything because this is an important study. There is a balance that I guess I’m trying to share with you. I have been, I think, on both sides. Nobody here is going to say I don’t understand country living. Nobody here is going to say I don’t understand city living. I’ve been a city mouse and a country mouse, and in this world I don’t want to be in the cities. Nothing against you, I love this church, I love the people but I’m only here because of the evangelistic mission that God has given our family. I hope you’ll pray for us. I’ve said, “Lord, if You want us there then I need you to compensate because we still have our children.” Now granted, God has given us a great place. We’ve got a creek in the back yard. We’ve got great neighbors; it’s a safe neighborhood. We’ve got clean air and clean water and a lot of the benefits, but we don’t have everything on that list I wish we had, and I keep chanting, “I want to go to Covelo,” and God says, “Not yet.” That day is coming. I’ve got a little extra room up there. If you’re nice to me, maybe I’ll let you come when that time comes if… I mean, really, I’ve thought that before. There’s a little more land than we need and I’ve thought that before, maybe that’s for those who can’t afford it. Some people are going into debt to try and get a place in the country and they have no work and everything, and it’s a desperation and it worries me. As your pastor I just want you to have a balance of what these messages are dealing with. Amen? Ultimately the ideal is you want a city home and a country home. Jesus said He’s building you a city home. Isn’t that right? He said, “I go to prepare a place for you,” and where is that? It’s in the New Jerusalem, the city of God. And then it tells us you’ll go forth from the New Jerusalem, and you will build houses and inhabit them and you will plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. And ultimately we’re going to have the benefit of both, but we won’t have to worry about that city there. Why? Because there’s only converted people in that city and there’ll be no evil. Amen? I pray. I know some of you are making decisions and I want the Lord to lead and each member I’d say, you just make sure the Lord is leading you. We’ve got some members that just went to a foreign country. They call us once a week. The Hebbards, they’re doing mission work with their family. I want you to pray for these people. We’ve got others who are being led to go to smaller and more remote communities where there is no light of the gospel there. You want to pray for these people. There is still a great work to do here. Amen? And our church, we’re getting ready to do something with this new property that I think can be a fulfillment of the counsel we’ve got and it’s extremely exciting.

Do we know when the Lord is coming? Not exactly. Let me read… Did I say I was done? “You will not be able to say,” this is Review & Herald, March 22, 1892. “You will not be able to say that the Lord is coming in one, two, or five years.” Be careful about that. “Neither are you to put off His coming by saying, ‘Maybe not for ten or twenty years.’” Be careful of that. In other words, we need to plan and work and give as though we may be here for a little while. You realize that when Jesus first went to heaven, the disciples thought He was coming back imminently. When after forty years He still hadn’t come they really began to get worried as they saw Jerusalem destroyed. We don’t know how much longer we’re going to be here, friends, but I think God has given us a work to do and we need to do it not with one hand but with both hands. Jesus is coming soon. He has called us to come to Him, and go for Him. At the same time, protect our families as far as possible from these evil influences. Hey, let me read something else to you. I’m almost done. “When iniquity abounds in a nation there is always to be heard some voice giving warning and instruction as the voice of Lot was heard in Sodom, yet Lot could have preserved his family from many evils had he not made his home in this wicked, polluted city. All that Lot and his family did in Sodom could have been done by them even if they had live at some distance away from the city. Enoch walked with God and yet he did not live in the midst of any city polluted with every kind of violence and wickedness as did Lot in Sodom.” It’s possible for us to work the cities without the cities working us. Amen? So let’s pray that God will give us wisdom and let’s pray that we inhabit that place He’s prepared for us in the city and that we can build our homes in the country. Amen? If we ask the Lord, Jesus, I believe He has been leading our family where we are today. I really do. And He’ll lead you too. That’s why we’re going to sing our closing hymn “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” 545 in your hymnals. Let’s stand.

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need thy tenderest care; in thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use thy folds prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, thine we are. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, thine we are.

In a moment we’ll sing the last verse. Before we have our closing prayer though, I’d just like to ask you, are you willing to say, “Lord, I’ll go where You want me to go and I’ll work where You want me to work. I just want to know by Your word and Your inspiration that You’re leading me there.” Is that your prayer? If you’re willing to do God’s will, He will make it clear. Let’s sing verse three together.

Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be; thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! We will early turn to thee. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! We will early turn to thee.

Dear Father in heaven, Lord, we pray that we have gotten a balanced picture from Your word and from inspiration regarding what the plan is to both protect our families, to avoid the evil influences in the cities today and yet still be evangelists and be able to reach others for You. Every one of us is different, Lord, and Your leading in each person’s life might be a little bit different. I pray that You’ll speak to us and help us to be guided by Your word and by Your Spirit. We’re asking Jesus like our Shepherd to lead us, and ultimately, Lord, we’re looking forward to that day where we can again be in a garden and there won’t be all of the sin and the disease and the evil that we see in the world today. In the meantime, help us to be faithful to share the good news that we might share that Eden with as many as possible. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

You may be seated.

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