I grew up in Southern California, the land of orange orchards and strawberry fields. 
I remember well the acres on the corner lot near our elementary school—the Aihara’s place—with row after row of strawberries.

I remember two things about my elementary school friend Lynne Aihara—her remarkably beautiful handwriting and sifting rice.
When I was invited to spend an afternoon at Lynne’s house, we usually spent the time sitting at her kitchen table while she sorted through the rice. It was a staple at every meal, every day in her family, so there was a LOT of rice to clean.
Her grandmother made it clear this chore had to be done first before we went out to play or do anything fun.
I can see the 40 pound bag slumped against a corner wall, Lynne holding a small metal pot and scooping it out into a bowl.  All the rice had to be washed before it was cooked—Lynne’s job was to make sure it was free of debris and bugs. Her watchful eyes meant  nothing but clean, white kernels of rice made its way into the bowl.  Everything that was not-rice was disposed of.
This sifting rice memory came to me this past weekend when I heard Anne Graham Lotz at a conference.  She was speaking from Matthew Chapter 24 (preaching, really, she has her father’s strong gift) urging us to ‘wake up!’ to the fact that we are in the end of the End Times.

In this chapter in Matthew, Jesus’ disciples come to him, asking what would be the sign of his return.  He recounts a worrisome list of disasters—global, spiritual, personal and environmental.
As Anne taught us about each particular area, I paid special attention to the signs she mentioned taking place among religious people and in the spiritual realm.
Many people will come in Christ’s name, she said, and teach and preach what they call God’s Word, but it will not  be God’s Word.
As believers in Jesus, we need to know the truth first to be able to pay attention to what is not-truth.  We need to be sure of God’s Word and what it says.
This got me thinking doubt can be a very good thing………when it’s a ‘knower’ kind of doubt, put there in your spirit when you hear a message or a word in God-sorta language,  which does not sound like God’s Word.
Paul put it like this in Philippians Chapter 1:10 (the Amplified Bible):
“…that you may surely learn to sense what is vital
and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value
Recognizing the highest and the best
And distinguishing the moral differences;
And that you may be untainted
and pure   and unerring   and blameless
that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied
you may approach the day of Christ
not stumbling nor causing others to stumble.”

I’ll say it again, we are in the end of the End Times. People don’t like to talk about it much–oh, they’ve been saying Jesus is coming back forever. But t
he ‘birth pangs’ Jesus spoke of are closer together and more intense. 

There are wars, rumors of wars, falling meteorites, droughts, floods, famines…the list goes on and on.
In these last days, I don’t know about you, 

but I desperately need the Holy Spirit’s power to 
“sense what is vital,” 
to “recognize the highest and the best,” 
and to “distinguish moral differences.”
“So that I may approach the day of Christ 
not stumbling or causing others to stumble.”
I want to be a question-asker, a light-bringer and a truth-knower.
How about you?

Linking with Michelle for Hear it on Sunday 
and with my WA neighbor Jen for Unite!
and with TX Jen for Soli Deo Gloria.
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