Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Christian Prepper?



This is one question that drives me absolutely crazy. Decent, well meaning people who I believe are truly devout Christians think being prepared is strange. Some of these folks actually believe prepping to be a sin. REALLY!?!?!?!!! 

Even if you are not a person of faith, hang in there for this post. We will be discussing common excuses Christians use for not being prepared, their rational behind these excuses and yes, what the Bible teaches us about preparedness. 

Reasons Christians Don't Prepare


Christians have all of the usual excuses to not be prepared, no time, no need, no money, and no space are very common. In addition to all of the excuses that you could hear everyone give, Christians have a few excuses that they believe are religious based. In fact some of these reasons are even looked at as being holy.

God will protect me.
God will provide for me.
I am sure the church has a disaster plan.
Being a prepper means you are living in fear.
Being a prepper means you don't trust in God.
God won't let things get too bad.

We as Christians tend to grab one scripture and build our lives around it. There are churches and even denominations that  are founded on a small section of the Scripture. All Christians have been guilty of this at least a time or two. We are going to look at each of these excuses. I am going to list the scripture that the belief in based on and will also provide the counter point.

God Will Protect Me.

 

God's divine protection is promised and it is something that I firmly believe in, but there are people who take this to extremes. I have heard tell of someone who claimed that God's protection was so strong on their life that if they laid down on a set of railroad tracks, with a train coming and it wasn't their time to go, the train would derail rather than take their life. The more common occurrence is "If it's my time to go, it is my time to go and it doesn't matter what I do." I've got news for you Bubba, if you are dumb enough to lay on a set of tracks with a train coming...it's your time to go.

The basic premise behind this belief is valid. The most widely known and quoted Scripture about God's protection is Psalms 91:7
“A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.”
That taken by itself makes Christians sound almost invincible. You can see how focusing only on that Scripture would reinforce the guy about the train tracks. But like so many things if you do not take in the totality, you can be mislead.  Scriptures like 2 Corinthians 4: 8 - 9 are somehow left out or skimmed over.
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Or Matthew 5:35
So that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him].
God's promise of protection includes being removed from certain dangers, of course, but it also includes giving His children the strength and wisdom to weather difficulties. God allows bad things to happen to good people all the time. I do not understand His wisdom, but I do know that He is in charge.

God Will Provide For Me

The Scripture that you will hear most widely quotes when talking about God's provision these days if Philippians 4:19
"For my God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory, through Christ Jesus."

Good scripture, powerful, but most of the time taken out of context. This has become such a dominant  theme that there are several personalities that make their living, and a very good one at that, teaching prosperity through faith. Oh and it sounds so good, they are very smooth people, and some of them might actually mention Jesus once or twice. Run from them and run fast.

Let's take a closer look at that same scripture, but let's do so in context.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Whoa! Talk about a difference. Paul was telling the church at Philipi that their generosity in his time of need would be rewarded. I also want you to notice that Paul was not asking for donations. This church had heard that he was in need and responded. In fact he tells them that he has more than enough. This is a far cry from the donation begging, almost panhandling that we see from prominent teachers today.

I Am Sure The Church Has A Disaster Plan

This is just an extension of the" Someone will take care of me" attitude that is so prevalent in first world society today. What most of these people mean is if something comes up that is beyond the normal day to day difficulties, someone else will rescue me. The problem is that most churches do not have a disaster plan. The church that I attend has a disaster response team, but they are trained only for the clearing of trees and it is designed to respond somewhere, out there. There is no plan for immediate action if something were to strike locally. We could help clear the roads, but our congregation would have to wait on other members of our denomination to show up with food, water, and other necessities. The sad part is our church is one of the more proactive. I am hoping to help change this in the coming year.

Being A Prepper Means You Are Living In Fear

I will be honest, some of the people who say this have some very real examples that they can point to. There are some folks in the preparedness community that are fear driven. There are several names for these people; Conspiracy theorists or the Tin Foil Hat Brigade both come to mind. If we will think about it for a moment, is it really being fearful for a person on the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic seaboard to be prepared for a hurricane? Is it being fearful for a person in California to be prepared for an earthquake, Idaho to be prepared for a wildfire, or the Northeast to be prepared for a blizzard?  For someone in Alabama or Kansas to be prepared for a tornado? All of these things have happened and will happen again. That is not fear- that is reality. Just because your community hasn't been hit in a hundred years doesn't mean it won't next year. In fact many would say that your community was overdue.

The passage that is most quoted when dealing with fear is 2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
 I love this scripture. I really do, when we take it in context it is even more powerful.

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
This is a firm reminder that we should not allow fear to prevent us from sharing our testimony. My question for those who say that people who prepare are only motivated by fear is, are you really being fearful if you are preparing for something that is likely to happen in your area?

Being A Prepper Means You Don't Trust In God

Many of the people who say this often refer to Matthew 6: 26 - 34
26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I sing a really old hymn that is based on this scripture and it happens to be one of my wife's favorites. She had never even heard the song before she met me. It goes, "For His eye is on the Sparrow, and I know He watches me." If someone were to take this passage completely by itself, one could almost say that the Bible condones a person just quitting their job and relying on God. Only one problem, this passage says to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. How do we do that? By ministering to others. We will get more into that in a bit.

God Won't Let Things Get Too Bad

There are actually several problems with this statement. First and foremost is the passage that people are referencing when they say this has nothing to do with problems, trials, distress, or calamities. It has to do with temptation. The scripture that is being referenced is 1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
 I firmly believe that God will give me strength to make it through whatever I face, but at the same time, God allows us to go through things to help strengthen us as people and to strengthen our faith.


What Does The Bible Teach About Preparedness

This would be so much easier if there were a scripture that said "Thou shalt prepare", but there isn't and even if there was many people would just ignore that scripture. Let's be honest, there are a lot of people that pick the scriptures they like and ignore the ones they don't. Due to there not being a "Thou shalt prepare", we have to look at the stories in the Bible and see what they tell us.

Bugging Out

 

Lot

Believe it or not there are a few stories of people having to bug out in the Bible. The first one that comes to mind is the story of Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These two cities were very wicked and Lot had lived in them for a good while. Lot was Abraham's nephew. These cities were so wicked that God decided that He was going to destroy them. If you look around at some of the places in this world today, you really have to wonder just how bad it was that God would do this.  I will spare you all of the details of the story in this post, but it was really bad and God had His angels tell Lot to take his family and flee to the mountains.

Lot lost everything he had except his two daughters and even that didn't turn out as expected. All they had was the clothes they had on their back. They couldn't even make it to where they were told to go and had to work out a compromise. I cannot help but think if he had looked around and realized how bad the neighborhood had gotten and made some provision for escape in advance, just in case, he would have done better. As it was, he had to be forced out of the city by the angels, I don't know if he was trying to gather supplies, trying to convince friends to come with him, or what he was doing, but he wasn't ready. You can find the full story in Genesis chapter 19.

The Young Jesus and his Parents

Matthew 2:13

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."

As we look at these two situations they have similarities and major differences.  Had either group stayed it would have surly meant death. Both events were beyond the control of the ones who had to evacuate. This is where the similarities end. I am not saying that Joseph was a prepper, I am saying that they had to take what they had and flee. The wise men had just presented their gifts and left. Joseph got up, woke up his family and left. Joseph had a skill with which he could establish a new life no matter where he was and thanks to the wise men had operating expenses covered until he got to where he was going.

Food Storage


This one will get deep fairly quickly. We are going to start with Noah. The story of Noah is in Genesis chapter 6. The story of Noah is when God destroyed all life on earth by bringing a flood over the whole face of the earth. Noah spent a long time building the ark, some people say as long as 100 years, but I do not think this is supported by the Bible. According the the Bible Noah was 500 when his sons were born and was 600 when the flood came. In the Bible it tells us that Noah and his sons built the ark, not only that, his sons were married. So the time frame in which Noah built the ark and supplied it with everything they needed for their time in the ark, was much less than 100 years, many Bible scholars think around 60 years.

Noah had not only a set of every animal on the planet, he had the supplies necessary to keep them fed and healthy for the amount of time they were on the ark. How long were they in the ark? If you read the scripture it tells us right at one year and 10 days. If we use the modern calendar that would be 375 days. That is a lot of food.

The story of Joseph and Pharaoh is found in Genesis 41.  The story of Joseph and Pharaoh's dream is even more of a prepper story. Pharaoh had a dream that 7 fat cows came out of the Nile, then 7 skinny cows came out as well.  The 7 skinny cows ate the 7 fat cows and looked even skinnier. There was another dream that was similar that had to do with wheat. Pharaoh knew that these dreams meant something so he looked to his religious leaders for an explanation.  They couldn't figure out what the dreams meant. Joseph was still in prison for a crime he didn't commit and a servant of Pharaoh remembered him. When Joseph was called before Pharaoh he interpreted the dream. The dream meant that there would by 7 years of bounty, followed by 7 years of famine. A famine so deep that the years of plenty would be forgotten. Not only did Joseph interpret the dream, he also advised Pharaoh on what to do to ensure the survival of Egypt. That the entire nation would set aside 1/5 of the production during the 7 years of plenty. Pharaoh did so and the nation survived.

Now, I know there are some that are thinking, "Gregg, both of these were things that God warned people about ahead of time. We are talking about being prepared for the unknown." Fair enough.

The Lesson of the Ant. I have talked about this one in detail before. You can read that post Life Lessons of Ants and Bees. The scripture I am talking about is Proverbs 6: 6 - 9.

6 Go to the ant, you lazy man! Observe its ways and become wise. 7 It has no commander, officer, or ruler, 8 but prepares its provisions in the summer and gathers its food in the harvest. 9 How long will you lie down, lazy man? When will you get up from your sleep?

This is one of my favorite scriptures. The ant is doing what is natural and I believe that this behavior is natural for people, we have just gotten so far away from it that many of us have forgotten.

Jesus warned that hard times would come. Matthew 24: 4 - 8

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’[a] spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

I thought about including a shorter excerpt, but I just could not bring myself to do so.  This passage encapsulates every reason a person would want to prepare. Famine for food storage, social upheaval for bugging out. I think it is only reasonable to think that Jesus included this prediction for the benefit of believers to be as prepared as possible.

General Preparedness

We have talked about a Biblical basis for bugging out and for food storage, but what about general preparedness? I believe the parable of the 10 virgins applies really well. Matthew 25: 1 - 10

25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

This has spiritual purposes of course, but I believe that all spiritual lessons have physical applications as well. In this parable we see that some of the virgins had made preparations for the unexpected. They had brought additional supplies with them just in case the bridegroom didn't show up when they expected. The ones that were prepared were able to go with the bridegroom, but the ones that didn't were left behind. The ones that were prepared didn't have enough to share. Man there are a lot of lessons in this one parable.

What Are Christians To Do?

 

 If I could work my will every Christian would be as prepared as possible. Why? In order to answer this question we have to look at what our mission is as a Christian. Our mission is to share the love of Christ. How are we supposed to do that? Well, we seem to have gotten to the point in the first world countries that we think the only way to share this love is by talking. In some areas we are talking people to death (figuratively, or at least I hope so). I will never understand why we as a people realize that helping those in countries that are less fortunate by giving them food and helping supply their needs is a good way to share our faith, but we think those same ways won't work where we live.

James 2: 14 - 20

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

I believe we as the body of Christ are called to minister to the needs of those who are around us. This means that we should all be better prepared than the average person. When a storm hits, people should know that they can look to the church and its members for the help they need. The body of Christ should be able to put FEMA out of business. We should have spare blankets, extra food, and water to serve our community. Too many people who call themselves people of faith have developed an attitude of "All I should have to do is show up to church". Jesus called us to action.

There will always be people who hate those who have faith and ridicule those that believe in something that cannot be seen. However, if we would get off of our rear ends and do the things that Jesus commanded us to do more people would be willing to listen to what we have to say.

Matthew 25: 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I would love to hear what you think. Remember, we are

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