Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Getting to know Yourself

Is Getting to Know Yourself Important?
Barbara Henderson

An opera tells a story.
An oratorio means 'oratory or teaching by music'.
In a time when Bibles were expensive and scarce George Fredric Handel wrote 'The Messiah' to teach Bible truths.
Today, in a time of approaching apocalypse, churches sing silly little 'feel good ditties' instead of teaching songs that teach Bible truths.  When Paul and Silas were beaten and chained in a dark dungeon they sang songs. 
Do you think they sang seven words eleven times? 
Imagine a day when you are locked up and beaten because you are a Christian.  You have no Bible.  All you have is the scripture you have memorized and the teaching songs you have learned.  Exactly what will you have? 
The Friends of Israel magazine 'Israel My Glory' has an excellent article on Handel's composition of the 'The Messiah'.

Everybody loves somebody sometime….. Oh wait, I meant to say, ‘Everybody needs to get to know herself/himself right now.  But, most people are way too busy to get to know themselves.  They are doing important things that simply must be done or the world will end in an apocalypse.  Oh wait, the world is going to end in an apocalypse according to the Bible, so there must be another reason people are too busy to get to know themselves.  It could be that most people have had a glimpse or two of the importance of their professed core values, and they may have seen a few things that just don’t add up.  So, it is just much easier to stay busy and not spend time getting to know themselves better.  This may work until a crisis comes, but it won’t do you much good when a crisis does actually come.  It is much more fun to spend time purchasing and trying out all the gadgets that are being made and sold to help you get through a crisis than to prepare mentally and emotionally to face that crisis.

For instance, I don’t want to talk about that big black think that Jerry bought recently, or the scope that goes on it, or the time spent sighting it in, or the fact that I approved the purchase. Currently I can tell you that it wouldn’t do me any good because I can barely lift it, much less actually aim it.  But, it looks really cool.  The mere sight of it should scare a criminal burglar half way to death.  So, this was definitely a must in our bags and boxes of must have things in case the apocalypse starts before Jesus calls us all home. 

Even better than having most of the things my family has, we have been blessed with men in the family with common sense and the ability to use these things safely and efficiently.  If I had to go into a living off the grid scenario there is no one I would rather have with me than my immediate family.  The women in the family are also very knowledgeable as well as agreeable, but the men are stronger and more able to do what needs to be done.  Personally, I have lived without electricity and running water for several weeks at a time.  Years ago Jerry and I actually put our two small children in a homemade sleeper camper and spent a summer in Alaska.  I grew up there and I wanted Jerry and the kids to see it.  We had a dry place to sleep every night, a propane stove to cook on, and warm clothing.  So, we obviously had it much better than many people in a refugee situation have it.  I remember my brother flew up to spend a week with us while we were there, and I had mom send some scissors so I could give the guys a haircut.  It was a fun time, but it had a known beginning and a known end.  That took away a lot of stress and allowed us to just enjoy it.  What we gained was experience in living in a wild environment, building fires in the rain, digging clams, chasing down that illusive photograph, and the sure knowledge that you can never have a big enough zoom on your camera.  I entertained the kids and Jerry by reading full length books.  Even though the kids were small they had no problem listening to a long story.

During this time there was little danger from anything except the weather and wild animals.  I would like to take a minute out her and remind you all that wild animals are very dangerous.  It doesn’t matter how friendly they seem to be, they will bite you or eat you if they have the chance.  Please never believe that old saying that ‘they will leave you alone if you leave them alone’.  Than may be true most of the time, but it definitely is not true all the time.  Be careful. 

We also learned some other important things about living close together, enjoying the company of family, and enjoying things that happen every day.  I would suggest that anyone who has a chance to live primitively for a few weeks go ahead and do it. 

Unless you are a soldier in a combat situation or something similar you can’t really be tested in how well you would do in a situation where your life is in danger.  A situation where your family is in danger is not likely something you will face until there is an actual dire situation, so you can’t really test how you will handle it.

If the social structure of our nation is compromised, then virtually everyone will be thrown into a situation for which they are not mentally or emotionally equipped.  Everyone will be thrown completely out of their comfort zone.  Let’s say you are blessed and able to locate a relatively safe place where you are inside a structure that is safe from wild animals, sheltered from rain and wind, and with a way to sleep warm and cook.  That assumes you also have something to cook.  You don’t know when any of it will end.  You don’t know if things will ever return to anything that even resembles normal.  What are you going to do then?  Unless there is a clear way to keep providing food, shelter, and warm clothing you are going to start worrying.  If it goes on long enough you are going to panic…… UNLESS…… you have taken the time to get to know yourself and have a plan on how to proceed. 

The time to prepare for what you need to get you through a time of anarchy or persecution is now.  You need to get your self-definition straight in your own head.  Are you someone who can go with ‘survival of the fittest’?  Would you do anything to survive?  Or are you someone who claims to be a Christian?  Each of these possibilities automatically sets boundaries in how you will behave, or takes away boundaries and allows you to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. 

These are things you need to settle now before you face a situation where your core beliefs require action to prove who you really are.  Then you need to start living by the set of rules or boundaries that your core values require of you.   Honestly, if you are an anarchist at heart you will break every rule that you can get away with breaking right now.  If you are a survival of the fittest person you are probably the person who pushes their way to the front of the checkout line in the store.  You personally need to be honest with yourself.  It will determine how you face a future that is suddenly very unstable.  You don’t want to be the one who claims to be a Christian now, but when a time of great crisis comes you are the one climbing over the bodies of the helpless to get to the front of the FEMA food line.

I know someone who worked with a couple of guys who thought they were very well equipped for the melt down of civilization because they had a 4X4 vehicle, a gun or two, and they spent weekends camping in the woods drinking beer.  I am pretty sure they would be crying like little girls before a week was out if they ever face a real survival situation.

The truth is we don’t know what will happen.  It could be an entire social meltdown.  It could be a food supply meltdown.  It could be a natural disaster that throws everyone out of their comfort zone for an unknown time.  So, yes, do prepare as much as your budget will allow for the unknown.  Clothing, portable shelter, food, defense, water purifier, and at least one cooking pot for boiling water and cooking are all pretty necessary.  Just do the best you can in putting it together.  Don’t discount easy things like using your vehicle for shelter at least temporarily.  I didn’t say it would be comfortable, but it would be a place you could lock yourself and your family inside.  It should be dry although condensation would be a problem in most places.  I could go on and on about all the possible scenarios and how to deal with each one in the safest manner possible.  But a lot has already been written, and lot of what has been written is good advice.  The real question is how do you prepare emotionally and mentally for an unknown disaster?

I think you prepare by paying attention to the core values you have, and putting them into practice every day.  As a Christian you are supposed to obey the commandments.  Set a habit of doing that now.  Take it very seriously.

Something really important is to memorize scripture, or at least become very familiar with it.  And use your time playing music to memorize music that teaches Bible truths.  I really don’t think Paul and Silas were singing ‘I Will Survive’ while they were locked up in a dungeon.  My guess is they were singing songs that told the story of salvation.   When they were miraculously set free people around them were ready to get saved right then.  Their guards would have been amazed to look at these two men who had been beaten and put in chains and then hear them singing glory to God.  I mean really, does anyone actually think that seven words sung softly as a prayer repeated until the listener hopes he goes deaf is going to convert anyone?  Or does anyone think that sort of song is going to comfort the one beaten black and blue and put in chains?  The best song to memorize is Amazing Grace – all the verses, not just the 3 usually sung in church.  Here is a link to a very nice version of the song, but not all the verses are sung.  

Read Acts chapter 16 for the story of Paul and Silas and their jail episode.  For many years the idea of a Christian in the USA being locked up for telling others about Jesus was ridiculous.  Today, there are many in power in the USA that would love to find a way to get rid of all Christians.  Until they can do that they would love to lock up Christians and beat them.  So the question of what would you do in such a situation has merit as a question worth answering.  I don’t think any of us can answer the question without actually facing something like that.  I know God doesn’t give grace for something that hasn’t happened yet.  The best way to prepare yourself for the possibility of persecution is to memorize Bible scriptures and songs that teach Bible truths.   In the midst of a trial you will be able to comfort yourself.  You may be able to comfort those around you by your knowledge.

Nehemiah chapter 5 tells of a very turbulent time in Israel.  Nehemiah had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls.  He found the people practically in bondage because of taxes.  I am sure he was frustrated to say the least.  So, what did he do?  He consulted with himself!  By that I am sure he went over in his mind the things he knew were right according to God’s word, and what would be the right way to proceed.  He couldn’t have done that unless he was very familiar with scripture.  Personally, I do tend to blend one Bible passage with another one.  Thankfully I am able to go directly to the Bible at this point in time and straighten out my errant thinking.  A day may come when such easy scripture study is not available to me or to you.  I would rather know as much as I do know than to know nothing at all. When I am awake at night I remind myself of Bible stories.  I love Paul’s adventure when he was shipwrecked on his way to Rome.  Miracle after miracle happened under the direst circumstances.  Yet, Paul was preserved alive because God had more work for him to do.  And that is the way the lives of all Christians go.  The Lord will preserve us alive as long as He has something as yet unfinished for us to do.  Then when our work is done He will take us home to heaven.  There we will meet family and friends who have gone on before us, and we will wait for the rest of our saved family and loved ones. 

Amos 8:11 says, ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:’.
Some would think that day is here when we listen to some of the television preachers.  If anyone is listening to such drivel in their church it is time to find another church.  There are still preachers who tell the truth.  An aside here is when you are looking for a church look for a preacher dedicated to the truth who uses the King James Bible.  Second, look for a song service that uses a traditional hymnal.  The hymnal is second in importance to the Bible because of its capacity to teach Bible truths.  If you find these two things you have been blessed.  If you find friends there then you have been doubly blessed.

In a possible future scenario let’s say your life isn’t in danger.  You and your family are safe in a primitive living situation.  The work that goes with that kind of life is overwhelming.  My granmma said that sometimes during growing crops gramps plowed 16 miles a day.  I expect he was thinking about a little more than keeping the furrows straight while he was doing that.  Gramma canned enough food to last until the next harvest.  They also cut enough wood for heating and cooking to take them through the winter.  There was no end in sight.  That was their life for years.  Eventually they moved to town when a job was offered, but it was also extremely long hours without holidays.  I believe that weariness is possibly more difficult that immediate trauma that has an end in sight.  The truth is none of us know what we are getting in the future.  I can promise you that the best way to prepare for the unknown future is to know more about Almighty God.  Psalm 46:1 says, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’  That is a verse to know for sure.  I use it every day for something. 

I am not making light of the necessity to at least try to be prepared for an uncertain future.  If I was going to pick one skill that would be absolutely necessary in most out of home experiences it would be to know how to build a fire!  Something else very important would be to know how to bank a fire in order to save coals for the morning.  It sure makes starting the fire the next day easier.

I would suggest that family activities change from most of whatever is going on in your family to excursions to the outdoors.  No, I am not suggesting you become a nature lover.  I am suggesting you get a reality check on the harshness of nature and how to survive in spite of that harshness.  Learn to build a fire.  Learn to put up a tent or use a tarp for shelter.  Learn to cook outdoors.  If you have any space at all learn to grow a garden.  Even the smallest garden teaches lessons that could be applied to bigger gardening space.  But through it all stay focuses on doing things in a way that pleases the Lord.  You can’t be successful at anything unless you are pleasing God Almighty in how you do it.  Living up to the standard automatically set by your core values is the best way to prepare for an unknown future. 

Here are some links to articles by my good friend Ray Gano that will be useful in setting up physical helps for an unknown future disaster.

One more thing, some of the best hymns may not be available on your usual channels.  I suggest you read the hymnal and look for hymns that teach Bible truths.  If you have any knowledge of music learn to play something simple and portable so you can take your music with you.  If you aren’t able to play songs yourself to get an idea of how the tune goes then look the songs up on youtube.  I find most of the hymns are there although maybe not a good version.  Your goal is just to learn the tunes well enough to memorize the words. Everyone has songs they play in their head whether they actually sing or not.  Here is a link to some good hymns put together by Bible teacher John McArthur.

You can also get hymnals in the book section at places like Good Will stores. 

Seriously, it is time to prepare for a very uncertain and dangerous future like it is going to happen in less than a week.  Put some good things in your mind that will give you comfort in times of trials.  Familiarize yourself with the Bible.  Memorize as much as you can.  Then Memorize songs of the faith that teach Bible truths.  Remember, there may be times ahead when you can’t comfort yourself with scripture and hymns unless you know them by heart!  Redeem the time now.