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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cuban Missile Crisis

I heard the siren in my early years.  It was during the 1960's, when the Cold
War was in full force and tensions were high following the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The siren was sounded every month or so, just to make sure it was working.
Though it was two miles away from where we lived, we could hear it clearly.  I'm
thankful it was never put to use for an actual emergency.

There are still reasons to alert the public regarding emergent events.  Threats
of tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, etc. need to be communicated so losses in
both property and lives can be minimized.  But how can such alarms be sounded
today so most people will hear?

Beginning very soon the federal government will launch a new sort of "siren".
FEMA, in conjunction with the FCC and cell phone companies, will begin sending
text messages to areas under threat of some emergency.  You won't need to sign
up for the service; if your phone receives text messages (mine doesn't), you'll
be included whenever such a warning is sent out.

Before sirens, bells were rung to call people together to fight a fire or for a
public meeting.  These new electronic "bells" may help save lives, and you'll
have to agree that's a good thing.

More than 2,500 years ago, God gave a message of warning to a prophet named
Habakkuk.  Since it was a warning, God ordered that the message be broadcast in
clear terms: "Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who
reads it" (Habakkuk 2:2).  For a long time I understood that to mean that people
would run for fear upon hearing the message.  But I was wrong.

If you contract with a billboard agency to advertise your product you expect
your message to be displayed in a way that can be easily read.  Will anyone stop
their car so they can read a message in tiny print?  Hardly!  That's why
messages on billboards are composed in big and bold lettering.  That's what God
was telling the prophet - make the message plain.

The Bible contains a message that is both alarming and soothing.  Here's how
Paul stated it: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all
men ..." (Titus 2:11).  It's alarming because it proclaims that we need to be
saved; but the news is good because salvation is available for all.

The message of salvation is of universal importance since sin is a universal
dilemma.  That's why Jesus ordered "text messages" to be sent to all inhabitants
of earth: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He
who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be
condemned" (Mark 16:15,16).  Condemnation or salvation - those are the choices
we face.  Thank God we have been warned!

And thank God we are given a message of power: "For I am not ashamed of the
gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who
believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16).  Now we can
know not only about the dangers upon us, but also the means of escape that have
been put in place.

We are facing an emergency with eternal implications.  Let us pay attention to
God's warnings.

Timothy D. Hall

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