"Prepare." We hear that word constantly these days. The Department of Homeland Security regularly promotes the wisdom of individual and community preparedness before disasters hit. The Centers for Disease Control have been issuing readiness bulletins. There's National Preparedness Month. And even in the chain stores like the Dollar Store, little tags next to the price of tuna remind us of which items are good to stock in readiness bags. Have you seen those? I have.
Preparedness only makes sense. The US and other nations have been hammered with constant man-made and natural disasters. Evacuations are called, electricity goes off, banks are closed, tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes, volcanoes, and riots/protests have disrupted much of daily life, everywhere, at some point. Having food, water, and knowledge of an evacuation route prepared in advance is a practical and life-saving measure for any family.
Culturally, prepping hit the mainstream just a few years ago. While there have always been survivalists, much of Middle America considered them extreme. Eschewing the "survival gear, off the grid, Berky, arsenal, hands off my generator, shoot to kill" kind of prepping, the numerous disasters hitting the world have caused many lay-people to re-think their casual attitude toward the amenities we have taken for granted.
Now at least a light form of prepping is on everyone's lips. Recently we've even seen television shows about "prepping." Preparing for doom is now entertainment? I guess so.
Preppers abound now, and there are websites dedicated to the preparations one needs to make in order to survive whatever your flavor of doom in your opinion is coming. There are even church groups promoting preparation for coming disaster. (Christian Emergency Preparedness Network) The entering into the fray of a Christian group seems to have unnerved the run of the mill preppers a little. Maybe this is getting serious, people think.
Yes. It is.
The Christian Emergency Preparedness Network says that their focus on preparedness is different from the survivalist or the layman prepper. CEPN member David Pike said,
"The thing that is so disturbing about so many of the preppers is that they have all of the food for themselves and they figure on taking care of their immediate family and oftentimes they'll have lots of firearms. Don't mistake me, I'm a firearms proponent, but it's like they're going to be shooting at the neighbors to protect their own food supply. That doesn't last very long," said Pike, a former president of the Champaign County Rifle Association. "You have to be part of a community. You have to have business continue to operate. You have to interact with your neighbors because that's what civilization is all about. You give and in exchange they give back. You maintain some kind of sense of community. "This is very much Christ-centered. You want to extend yourself in charity to others. You can't do that without limits, but you want to maintain as much sense of community as possible."
When Joel Rosenberg writes, Pray for peace, but prepare for war, what does that mean exactly? In Israel, it means buying gas masks, keeping eyes open for terror activity, and staying up to the minute with government-issued bulletins. In America, that admonition by our country's most famous 'not-prophet' is a little murkier.
Certainly we see that no place in the US is immune from a 'natural' disaster. Floods, drought, hurricanes, earthquakes and even volcanic activity has emerged as a constant companion here on America's shores. FBI and DHS warnings of terrorist activity on our soil have been issued. Riots, strikes, and protests have disrupted cities. It is a fact that we need to be prepared.
The point of this article is to ponder, to what extent? And prepare, for what purpose?
If we prepare as the survivalists do, we are taking our eyes off Jesus, who is our provider. The story of the man in Las Vegas who died holding a grudge against the government and a deep distrust of everything, having hidden 7M in gold in and around his house comes to mind. Hoarding is not living.
The Christian group up above mentioned preparing so that we can connect as community in the wake of disaster and to help our neighbor is a better approach, in my opinion. However, I'd like to caution us all very much here. We may be Christian but we live with a sin nature. That nature is permeated with selfishness, greed, and an instinct for self-preservation. That is why when a person or family is faced with a disaster that has overturned their life, such as a hurricane or martial law or terrorist bombing, it will take a strong and mature Christian to apply the Godly principles of loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said that there is no greater love than laying down one's life for his friends (John 15:12-13.) Yet people today- even Christians- get ticked off if someone cuts in front of us on the highway or enters the 10 item check out lane with 12 items. Are you strong enough in Jesus to offer your neighbor your last piece of bread?
This means that no matter you or your family's decision on the level of personal preparedness you've undertaken, we have to be prepared in the Word. Christian maturity is the best preparation for what is coming. No matter how many canned goods you have, the only way to be prepared to give them to a neighbor will be to have allowed the Lord to strengthen you in sanctification. All the preps you want and all the good intentions you hold will matter nothing of your faith is a wisp that allows for quick entry of selfishness and greed and fear- at the expense of your application of Godly principles.
I say this for a reason. In March 2010 I'd written that I felt America's point of no return had been reached. That God's judgment would be falling soon. Not just warnings- judgment. I feel this even more strongly now than I did then. I do not know when we will be raptured, though it feels soon. However I really do not know the Lord's plan for us on earth until that point. We may escape all these things, or we may be on earth when the Psalm 83 war, Isaiah 17 destruction, Isaiah 19 violence, or other wars and terror occur. And a war in the Middle East will definitely affect us all. Would you be ready for $10/gallon gas? He may send more natural disasters upon our shores that even destroy cities as did Katrina or 9/11. Hatred of Christians is rising, even in America. I don't know. But it feels like things will get rough until we are called home.
You may be thinking you're strong enough to withstand trials and will certainly give your last piece of bread to your neighbor. Really? Peter was with Jesus for three years, was the first one to acknowledge Him as Lord, was the only one to get out of the boat, he cut off the soldier's ear in defense of Jesus, but when it came time to preserve his own life, he denied Jesus three times in quick succession. Are you stronger than Peter?
A big difference between us and Peter at that terrible moment is that we have the Holy Spirit inside us. Denying the Spirit the opportunity to have grown us while times have been good will ultimately be our disappointment when times get hard. Peter's life ended well. A martyr, he lived life after Pentecost in submission to Jesus and relied on Him for everything- including Godly integrity when times got very hard, even unto death. Are we weaker than Peter? I hope so, for when we are weak, we are strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Ron Graham recently had a very good essay about this. I feel the same as he does. His article is called "Judgment, Not Warning." He wrote,
"Many Christians see the gloom on the horizon but believe that the Rapture of the Ekklesia will occur before any serious consequences ensue. This is flawed thinking at best. The word of God tells us that the saints will be removed prior to the wrath of God to come, but we are never told that we won’t go through trials and tribulations prior to the Rapture. On the contrary, we are told by our Lord Himself that we will face much persecution, hatred, and menacing times."
"People, what is happening in America today is not a symptom of the times or even a “warning” of coming judgment. Judgment is here, America, and it’s not going to get easier to contend with. It’s growing exponentially worse every day. It may seem like I’m harping on this issue but as a watchman I have a responsibility to my brethren – and to my God. All God’s watchmen have been entrusted with godly discernment. So we step out into the front lines, place our focus on the coming storms, and then ride back to town and lay out a scenario of what we see coming – to all who will listen."
Well said, Brother.
Your own earthly preparation should be prayerfully approached based on your means, location, and family situation. Preparations should be enacted now. However, what is more important is your spiritual preparation. That should be deepening, and deepening fast. Do not take your prayer life casually. Do not take your bible study haphazardly. Do not forgo assembling with the saints. We must seek all the more to assemble together as we see the day approaching! (Hebrews 10:25). Preparation in Christ not only strengthens us spiritually as individuals, but Christian maturity in sanctification will allow us to apply Jesus's principles when the trials come.
We are told there will be Godlessness in the last days. This set of verses applies not to the unsaved, but to those people sitting next to you in the pew. They may be only holding to a form of Godliness, which will evaporate like a wisp the moment times get hard.
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Prepare yourself to be IN Christ very firmly for when the day comes when you may be tested by a choice to hoard food for yourself or to offer it to your neighbor at the expense of yourself. Yet always look to but through the hard times we're experiencing now and view the glory ahead. Look to Jesus! The best prepping is going on at this moment! Jesus is the ultimate prepper!
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (John 14:3).
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