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This Is Urgent!

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Where were you when you first heard about it? Like most North Americans, Friday morning, March 11, caught me off guard. I was stunned as I watched videos of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan. In real time I saw the waves come ashore in Hawaii and the west coast of the United States. As the catastrophe in Japan was complicated by cold weather and collapsing nuclear reactors, the tragedy began to take on unimaginable proportions as loss of life escalated. In a few short minutes, thousands of men, women and children transitioned into eternity.

Rescue workers quickly descended upon the mud and debris, desperately searching for signs of life. Incredible stories of survival were told through news outlets all around the world. Yet our hearts ache for thousands of mourners who lost family members and friends.

As we realized how suddenly the lives of the Japanese people had changed, our concern quickly spread to our own countries. Encouraged by media spokespersons trying to understand the scope and gravity of the event, we began to ask, Could it happen here? Are we prepared? How would we respond? How should we respond?

First Chronicles 12:32 describes “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. . .” Like those men, I, too, want to understand the times in which I live and know what to do. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus prepared His disciples to discern and to live in challenging days with both natural and man-made calamities (Matthew 24 and 25). He warned of false Christs, people whose love for one another would grow cold, violent conflicts between nations and within nations, famines and natural disasters.

Jesus spoke of a life-threatening world populated by people desperately in need of hope and willing to turn to anyone who promised to push back the darkness of despair and unbelief. Surely there was a sense of urgency in His voice as He pointed to the ultimate solution to life on a sin-broken planet—His own return to rule and reign over our world.

He admonished His followers, “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the Kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come” (Matt. 24:13–14, The Message).

He made it clear that only Jesus can push back the darkness in our world, and that wherever His followers proclaim His love, salvation and forgiveness, the darkness draped over our world because of sin will be dispelled. He urged His disciples to give everyone the chance to hear the gospel and embrace Jesus and the life He offers.

I believe that Jesus would have us live with the same sense of urgency that He communicated in His Olivet Discourse. Understanding our times—that our lives are brief and unpredictable—and the message of hope in Jesus, demands that we take Him to our neighbors and the nations. Please join me as we take the light of the gospel to those who have not heard—in every nation—and then welcome back the King.

On May 29 in Kansas City, Missouri, Dr. Ravi Zacharias will be closing General Council 2011 and speaking on the topic, “Only Jesus Can Push Back the Darkness in Our World.” If you haven’t already registered, go to www.cmalliance.org/council.

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