Voting for Peace? By Terry James While the presidential election draws ever nearer, the current…
What Are You Doing, Church?
By Steve Meehan
It is increasingly apparent that the Church Age is wrapping up. The Age of Grace will be over before any of us know it. Even for those of us eagerly awaiting the imminent Rapture, its suddenness will overwhelm us. Soon the shout will go out, and the Body of Believers will be out of this world. It may feel at times that it is taking longer than anticipated for this incredible event to occur, but when it does, I’m sure most of us will feel like, ‘Wow…I thought there would be more time.’
In the meantime, however…what are we as Christians doing in this world? What difference are we making to those around us who will eventually go into the Tribulation period and may eventually perish – that is, wind up eternally lost? Are we doing all we can in these remaining days of our unglorified existence? Are we fully involved in Christ’s work and fulfilling His Great Commission?
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” – Matthew 28:19, 20
Or, are we on cruise control, letting events transpire without being involved in God’s work, sitting on the sidelines, being a spectator, watching the game clock run out before the final victory and celebration? I’d like to offer an analogy of an event that occurred in my military years that is akin to what I see happening now with most of us in the Church, especially here in America where we have it fairly easy.
In 1980, while serving in the Air Force, I had cross-trained from being an aircraft mechanic to become a flight engineer. As a requirement of being a flyer, after my flight engineer training had concluded in Altus AFB, Oklahoma, I immediately was sent up to Fairchild AFB, Spokane WA to undergo survival school training. In the unlikely event that the airplane was ever shot down or we were forced to make an emergency landing in the enemy’s territory, we had to have some basic survival techniques taught us, in order to survive until rescue personnel could reach us. This training included being out in the field for four days, and concluded by being interred in a POW camp for a couple of days.
We Christians are presently saved and awaiting rescue to our Heavenly home. We are in the world, but not a part of this world’s system; we operate daily in the enemy’s territory. In order to survive our journey through this present time, we need daily instruction and the survival techniques taught in God’s Word – the Holy Bible.
It was a blessing for me to be out in the mountains for my four days of field training during the month of July, when the weather is very favorable – as compared to those who do their training during the winter months. As a matter of fact, there was still ash all over the mountains from the fallout of the Mount St. Helen’s volcano eruption, a few months earlier. So, I had an easier time of training than those who came in January or February.
As Christians living in America -with our freedoms and liberties – we have it immeasurably better living our Christian walk in this country, compared to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are out in the most destitute and not-so religious-loving nations of the world. They endure hardships that most of us have never experienced.
The four days in the field consisted of living off the land (although we did start off with some rations of deer jerky); escape and evasion techniques; how to signal in rescuing helicopters; and other worthwhile aspects of survival. The final day in the mountains concluded by having us pair off, and using a map and compass, we all had to trek back in spaced intervals, to reach a rendezvous point, while eluding camouflaged instructors who were out prowling around, attempting to capture us.
Christians survive by a daily ration of feeding off of God’s Word; are sustained by the Bread of Life – Jesus Christ – and drink freely of His Living Water. We avoid the pitfalls of the enemy by wearing the armor of God; we signal to our Heavenly Father through prayer during times of trial and tribulation; and we keep our focus on our rendezvous point in Heaven, as we elude the enemy’s deception and attempts to ensnare us – for he too prowls around seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)
The culminating event of the survival training was the time spent in the mock prisoner of war camp. We spent a day in the classroom before going to the compound, to learn the best means of resistance; how to aid and assist our fellow prisoners of war; and the basic techniques of how to survive such an ordeal if ever encountered. Even though we knew this was going to be just an exercise and not the actual thing, we were still a bit antsy about actually having to go through this ordeal.
Again, as Christians we have the Word of God to help us contend with what the enemy can throw at us. We learn how to resist him and he will flee from us (James 4:7). We do encounter persecutions and go through times of suffering, but in the end, we know we will be victorious and the glory that awaits us will far overshadow any of the tough times we have to put up with in the here and now.
We started our long dreaded march across an open, high grassy field towards the compound looming ahead in the distance. Trepidation ran amok through the ranks. We were being lead by our classroom instructors to the camp, and somewhere out there in the field, the camp guards were ready to pounce. We were all looking around nervously, trying to pinpoint exactly where they were going to jump out from and grab us. Wild speculation was rampant: “I think I see something in the trees!” “There’s movement over there by that mound!” “They must be buried in the ground and they’re going to spring out!” And of course, before we knew it and while we are looking around frantically, they were upon us. We were captured. They stuck hoods on our heads, had us put our hand on the shoulder of the guy ahead of us, and we marched off to the compound.
The enemy can always blindside us and is ready to pounce, if we are not properly prepared and not aware of his tactics or deceptive schemes.
We were sent off to individual cells, where a strip search ensued, followed by the prerequisite hose down shower. The day before, in the classroom, chits were given out only to a select few to try to escape the camp. They didn’t want everyone trying it, as they were more interested in teaching us how to endure if in a prolonged state of confinement. The prison “guards” would also come out of their roles at any time by stating “academic situation”, whereby they would then assume an instructor’s role to inform how well or how bad one was doing, and offer advise on how to better resist and help out the group.
Although God could have easily individually “raptured” us out of this world the moment we became believers, in order to escape any persecution, He keeps us here to fulfill His work and to prepare us to become more Christ-like through times of testing before our eventual evacuation into Heaven.
We would then be taken individually to these “blood spattered” interrogation rooms, to be worked over by Fric and Frac (the names we gave them) – who were the good and bad cops of the prison guards. We were supposedly captured by country “X” – a non-descript enemy nation of ours – but being the height of the Cold War still, they all had “surprisingly” thick Russian accents. It was usually during these interrogations that they went into “academic situation” to critique our performance. In those rooms, resuming their guard roles, they weren’t allowed to hit us – thank you Air Force! – but they would grab you by your shirt and push you up against the wall, in their efforts to be menacing.
From there, I was once taken to a wooden isolation box – not a room – but a box, where I was forced in headfirst and forced to stay for about 15 minutes. While in The Box, in the outer room, was a recording of the” Napalm sticks to little kids” song (?) playing over and over, as part of the propaganda and torture. As confined as I was in there, I managed to squeeze my body around to be able to face the entrance of the box and avoid being in a declining attitude, as I didn’t like the sensation of blood rushing to my head. When the guard opened the box to let me out, he saw me turned around facing him and barked out “How did you do that?!?”
To speed the story along, we spent most of the time in the camp in the open compound area as a group. We were forced to do menial chores like moving rocks from one pile to another, while the guys with the chits made their daring escape attempts. They were allowed to make it out of the camp, but then brought back in almost immediately to rejoin the group.
During the early stages of the camp experience, we did well. We applied what we had learned in the classroom and attempted to resist as much as possible. We worked well as a group for the most part. There was one gung-ho, macho-type – an A-10 pilot, Captain – who was trying to escape all the time, and working as a lone wolf – out for his own glory. The instructors had to repeatedly go into “academic situation” to get this guy to work as part of the group, and not do his own thing.
But towards the end of the training, our performance fell off miserably. Whatever the guards told us to do, we did without putting up a fight. Our resistance to the enemy was practically null and void. We knew the end was near, and we were tired, hungry, uncomfortable and we just wanted out of that situation. When we started to prepare another soup meal towards the close of the second day, we felt like we had already been in there too long and the grumbling and complaining started in earnest.
It would seem for the most part, that us “last day” Christians may have fallen into the same mindset. We started off very well. When we first became believers and said yes to Jesus Christ, we were on fire for the Lord. We gave up bad habits, we shared our testimony, and we wanted others saved. It didn’t matter if we faced resistance; we wanted to please the Lord. We took His Word to heart and we wanted to be involved in His Great Commission.
But as the hour is getting late, we can see for the most part that the Church is not on fire anymore, but has fallen into a lukewarm state. There seems to be an apathy regarding end times events among many Christians, as some have become too enamored with and are comfortable living in this present world. The spreading of the gospel has taken a back seat to just getting by, day by day. Lack of resistance in some circles, is giving way to apostasy and doctrines of demons: we can become “little gods”; the popular “prosperity gospel” is overshadowing Christ’s admonition to take up our cross daily and deny ourselves; ordaining homosexual men to be ministers of the Gospel; there is a Purgatory ahead to cleanse us of any leftover sins; it is okay to worship graven images and icons; and a myriad of other gross errors that has infiltrated into what used to be sound doctrine. The enemy has ensnared many with his guile, whispering into their ears with his thick, smoke-filled accent.
For those of us who are familiar with Bible prophecy, we know the end is near. There is no denying that all the prophetic signs are lit up in bright, neon lights, flashing at us nonstop. What we see happening here in America is appalling. We had a previous president who claims he is Christian, but he has “evolved” to the point where he supports homosexual marriage. The states in our country legally allowing these types of “marriages” are falling like dominoes. Abortion in this country has claimed the lives of close to 60 million lives. Where has the Church been in our nation to allow this to fester? How could such a few in the country get their voices heard above the many who claim to be followers of Christ?
The camp experience was an eye-opener. Our effectiveness toward the end was dismal; we all but gave up, waiting for it to be over. I’m sure most of my colleagues at that time after the experience concluded, would have gladly hit the “rewind” button to have had a chance for a better performance. It would have been far more rewarding to apply lessons learned, resist to the end, help the others around us and then to hear the instructors tell us at the end, “Way to go guys. Good job. Well done”. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
In these remaining days, we need to influence as many as possible about how near the end is and how to prepare; we shouldn’t let the enemy win or take as many captive as he will. We could be passing out tracts, submitting letters, exchanging e-mails, run an article in the paper; buy some billboard space; tell a friend; tell an enemy; tell a family member about what lies ahead. We shouldn’t just wait for the end to come. We have work to do. Let us labor while it is still day; for the night comes when no one can work (paraphrased John 9:4). Let’s use our basic survival techniques to not only we make it to Heaven, but to rescue those around us as well. The Lord shouldn’t have to go into “academic situation” with us to remind us why we are still here.
At the conclusion of our stay in the camp, we all had to stand in formation to hear a speech given by the camp commandant in his very thick Russian accent. He gave about a 10 minute dissertation about how great “his” country was. Our reaction was to roll our eyes and shake our heads at his little spiel. Then, he concluded by saying that ‘there is only one country I love and I have sworn allegiance to this flag!” With that, he ordered an “about face” and there was the Stars and Stripes waving in all its glory, lighted up against a star-filled sky, while a rousing recording of the Star Spangled Banner blasted through loudspeakers across the compound. Needless to say, that was the most moving rendition of our National Anthem that I had ever heard, and we all gave a thunderous round of applause, followed by a loud chorus of hoots and hollers.
We are soon to be home. There is only one God that we love and have sworn allegiance to. He is awaiting for the soon arrival of His Church. Let’s go out with a blaze of glory. We will soon be caught up to witness the celestial choir belting out praise and adoration to Our King, Our Redeemer and Our Lord! And wouldn’t everybody like to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”?