Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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LOOKING UP • JOE BAISDEN | ‘Come Before Winter’ hits the road

For 33 consecutive years during my ministry with the Belton Church of Christ the first Sunday evening in October was devoted to a lesson from 2 Timothy 4:21 in which the Apostle Paul, a prisoner in Rome, urgently requested that his former co-worker Timothy come from Ephesus to be with him in his last days on earth. In the very early years of the tradition, once the lesson appeared a few Sundays late, when I tried to abandon the series.
When it did not happen at the usual time, the strong voice of Elder Alton Martin was heard asking, “When do we get ‘Come Before Winter’ this year?” I meekly replied, “How about next Sunday?”
There have been a few sporadic revivals of the tradition in Belton during these ten years of my retirement. This year my former youth minister and associate who worked with me for some 15 years, Allen Ritchie, now the minister of the Church of Christ in Lake Jackson, summoned me to bring the tradition to his congregation last Sunday, October 6.
A great deal of preparation and publicity preceded the event, and a large crowd was on hand. It brought great joy to my heart to again work with Allen whom I considered my son in the faith. The morning service was followed with a fellowship meal and a devotional.
When Allen first called about my coming, I thought he said that there would be an assignment for me Sunday evening.  When I asked him about it, he replied, “I’d like for you to lead a couple of songs at the devotional, but after that, there is no assignment.  We will go home and watch football, which we did!


The “Come Before Winter” lessons were always from the same text, but with different illustrations and different approaches to the subject. There was only one theme: “Getting things done and said while there is time and opportunity.” Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 5:15-16: “Be careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.”
Unless we are alive with the Lord returns, we all live under the sentence found in Hebrews 9:27: “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment:”
Most of us do not have a clue when that is to be, so the challenge is live in a state of readiness. The Apostle knew his time was short. “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
 “Winter” is coming for all of us. What do you and I need to do and say before the time comes? There are some things that do not matter, but there are things, if left undone, are critical to you and to others.
Have you neglected accepting the gift of salvation?  Is there an unresolved conflict? Perhaps some conflict exists that is so old you or others may have forgotten what started the shattering of your relationship. Do you need to make an apology, confess a wrong, repent and ask forgiveness? Have you left some gratitude unexpressed? You have intended to write that letter? Soon it will be too late.
Show others that you care for them before it is too late. “Come before winter!”

 “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” – Heb. 3:7