Our faith influences our actions and course in life; our understanding of that faith can change the course of both action and life. If we are not careful, we will passionately study one rail on our train track, with lesser attention to the other rail; the result is not only fighting within our self, wasted energies, and veering off course but also a potentially significant train wreck, instead of efficient stewardship.
It is not my intention here to sway you to one prophetic view or another, and I won’t even mention here what mine is, other than to say that I am a believer in Jesus Christ’s work on my behalf. Some background, though, is needed. I am the editor and founder of a Christian website focusing on discernment, and providing research for over eleven years in this ministry, with Christian writing experience for over eighteen years. I have seen a very, very wide gamut of opinion, takes, interpretations, positions, et cetera on prophecy and the correlating decisions that those particular views would logically call for from an individual.
Regardless of your prophetic views, I highly encourage many aspects of prepping, and I practice it myself. The Bible is full of great examples, such as Noah, Joseph, Obadiah, Agabus, who balanced God’s provision and providence with man’s responsibility. The primary focus that I want you to consider is this: Is your focus in one area blinding you or hindering you from balancing both? Is it possible to be so focused on secular and mechanical methods and solutions that we miss a tempering hand of faith directing those efforts? On the other hand, is it possible that a limited understanding of prophecy is already directing our efforts but in the wrong direction? Or, do we have a careful regard to make sure and solid our understanding of prophecy so that all of our efforts work hand in hand for greater impact now and in eternity?
Think on this: How much money have you spent so far on your efforts? How much have you already intended to spend? How much time have you spent searching the Internet, books, shows, and elsewhere to gain a fuller knowledge of prepping? How much time have you spent trying to beat it into someone else’s head that they need to prep, too? When we look back down our train tracks and see what kind of mileage we have already burned through, and what potentially lies ahead, it makes an incredible difference if our wheels are not aligned. Internal torque and frustrations, inefficiencies, and overheating are just some of the physical and spiritual fatigues that can impact our life and that of those around us. Our train has passengers; where are we taking them? Is our train currently in good shape? You are the engineer, and this is time for routine maintenance and diagnostics.
Here is a brief checklist of potential problem areas that need to be checked:
1) Have you read the manual? I’m not talking about having read through it, hop, skip, here, and there at church. Reading your favorite section over and over again doesn’t count, either. Just like any manual, there’s the easy-to-understand stuff, how-to-get-started stuff, how-to-have-fun stuff, neat stories, bios, and anecdotes, and so forth. It’s the here’s-how-to-break-it-down-and-clean-it sections that get glossed over, along with the very important routine maintenance section with the fine print. When your engine locks up is not the time to figure out how to change the oil. What are the best operating procedures? How do I run at maximum efficiency? What are the rpms we should be running this at? Are there load and weight restrictions? Is there a help center for advice? What are the manufacturer’s tips? What’s the warranty cover? Is there a maintenance log? I think you get the point. The Bible is not just our manual for church; it is the manual for our life– every aspect of it. If we gloss over certain sections, we can quickly run into trouble, and if we are not doing routine diagnostics, we might not even be aware of brewing trouble.
Like any piece of equipment, until you have read the manual about operating it at certain speeds or functions, you should throttle back until you know how to properly approach that operation wisely. We should always make sure we are operating according to the manual’s directions.
2) Can you cite the manual?
If you’re going to run with your little red wagon, you better make sure you are running it right. Having the wheels come off later looks mighty big. I don’t pretend to have arrived. I make mistakes every single day, and sadly, I fail God every day. However, I get back up, I say, “That was stupid”, and I look in the book for guidance of what I should be doing. The biggest mistake that we all can run into is when we cite something else besides the manual.
This also happens to be the largest single mistake that I regularly see taking place, regardless of prophetic position. When I honestly ask people to give evidence why they hold to a certain position, I usually get a 60-40 mix of Bible verses along with memes, quips, and a thought(s) they heard someone else say. The problem is that that 40% meme marshmallow is built into their foundation; if that meme, Facebook quote, or witty-saying-by-so-and-so is taken out, then there isn’t much credibility to look at or consider.
If you study to get your certification in any subject, you will always be tested against what the textbook or manual says… and nothing else. Outside opinions are irrelevant to the foundational understanding of any subject. Once we have a sure foundation, we can use witty sayings or quips to echo the thoughts we have already established. So, here is the question for you, and this is the same diagnostic that I always try to use: Can you pass a test citing no other evidence besides what the manual states? Could you write out a solid evidential defense from the manual of why you are operating a particular focus in your life in a certain manner? You say you believe such-and-such about prophecy, and that throttles and colors all your actions toward prepping (time, money, relationships, energies, et cetera). Great. Since so much is at stake then, prove to me you are going in the right direction.
Have you set aside time and studied to answer that question and to make sure of the conclusion? If that question was given to you as a pop quiz, would you fail? Would you have to hit the books hard and frantic to actually learn what you only had a shallow understanding of, previously? Would half of your report be crossed out– every part that cited opinion, memes, banter, or man’s precepts?
In my reviews of various people’s defenses for their position, I’ve found that as soon as you start highlighting the portion of their foundation that is marshmallow and inadmissible, they have to resort to banter, personal attacks, and so forth. I always have to ask and check myself to make sure my positions are not being propped up by some pet opinion or witty meme found on Facebook. Are all the points and foundations that I am basing my life and actions on found solely in the manual– Scripture? If not, then my boiler may bust, my wheels wobble, and a thousand other things that will ultimately keep me from arriving at the destination and goal that I would have arrived at had I paid proper heed as a wise steward. I can burn through a lot of coal, spin my wheels, and blow a lot of steam, yet go nowhere meaningful. Only when we are properly engaged, can we gain traction to move forward in the purpose and plan that our Engineer designed for us. The greatest tragedy would be to succeed in something that does not matter.
3) Can you pass the test?
Any redneck (I are one!) can shoot guns, but there is a world of difference between them and someone trained to strip that gun down, clean it, and reassemble it blindfolded. One knows how to make a lot of noise; the other one passes inspection. We will all have to give account of our stewardship one day. Pleading ignorance will not be an option. Whenever we as preppers want to know about some new aspect or skill, we’ll hunt a thousand reviews, articles, forums, and tutorials before we settle on committing to a hefty purchase or significant time investment. Why? Because so much is at stake, if we make an uneducated commitment. Well, have you made as rigorous a search in making sure and solid the position that colors all of your time, energies, life, and focus?
Part of making sure any defense (legal or tactical) is to ruthlessly examine flaws and potential weaknesses. This is the biggest problem that I see in most people’s prophecy position defense– they have not cross-examined it, nor invited peer-review. The same preppers who will research a thousand inputs into why they should or should not do such-and-such, often do not take the exact same rigorous steps to determine if their life should follow such-and-such faith position; it is super easy to identify them, too. It is the same way you differentiate between someone who wants to learn and someone who would rather have their pet opinion on any matter: start examining and digging through their position defense.
Someone who has done their homework, research, and due diligence on any subject will not be intimidated by someone else taking a magnifying glass to it. They may be curious to see what you see, or what you are comparing it to (the manual versus your own opinion). However, in general, they are comfortable with it being examined because they have looked into it the best that they could. Someone who has only a shallow understanding of a subject gets really nervous under cross examination, and they soon have to resort to bluster and banter to make it look like they know what they are talking about. We see this in many areas of life.
So, can your position (that you are basing much of your effort and energies around) stand cross-examination? Have you explored potential weaknesses in your position? Have you invited peer-review and constructive feedback? Have you deliberately sought out what others perceive as major contradictions and errors with your position? Have you rigorously examined their points to see if any of them had validity? If any are found, are you quick and humble to adjust accordingly? Can the position you hold as a deciding factor in your life pass the test?
4) Have you proven all things?
Scripture commands us to prove all things; hold fast that which is good (I Thess. 5:21). Opinions, memes, quips, prejudices, denominational standings, and man’s precepts are not accepted evidences as proof; only Scripture is. It is a two-part command– prove what is good, and let go of what is not good.
Part of passing any test is first knowing what the questions are. I suggest you set aside a fast– not of food (although you may do that) but more importantly of distractions– television, movies, games, and frivolous activities. Part of passing any test is study time and quiet hall, too. Pray and ask God for wisdom and that He will open your eyes to behold wondrous things out of His Word, that He will direct you to the best resources, and that He will give you discernment. Those who truly want to learn will get instruction.
Get some paper, your Bible, and Bible study helps and resources; come to a determination of what you are going to hold to. Write out the statement of the major view of prophecy that is influencing and coloring many of your life actions. If possible, break it down into specific sub-points if applicable. Then, do your research, finalizing only on Scripture as the foundational evidence. You may even break it all down into evidential degrees: what Scripture is clear and weighty on a matter, what passages may be circumstantial, and what passages you are unsure of. It also helps to have another category for opinion or thoughts that you have heard used for/against for additional study to see what lies behind their use. Cross-check and look for weaknesses, and make sure those evidences are being applied in a proper manner as well. Examine all the premises; eliminate any marshmallows. Compare notes with others. Once you have gathered your position and supporting material, open it to cross-examination by a panel of people you trust to give you an indifferent, constructive critique.
Only once we have proven what is true (not who is true), and let go of what is not proven, can we make decisions in life with the proper perspective, throttle, and even destination and goal. It has been said that unguarded strength is double weakness. Yes, it is possible to be strong in one area and field intellectually, yet have it all misdirected by the area we did not make sure. It is my prayer that you will read the manual, cite the manual, pass the test, and prove all things as you seek to serve Christ first and highest, above all.
John 7:24 – “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”