In 1964 I taught civil defense for the San Juan County Emergency Preparedness Board. We met at Aztec Christian Church and we crowded into our small sanctuary and fellowship hall; we had to divide into two classes each week. This was before we built our large sanctuary and Bible school building. As a nation we were concerned about the Russian build up in Cuba just 90 miles from our shores. America and Russia were in a space race, and both nations were in an arms race to build up missiles and atomic weapons. Civil defense was a hot topic; many were building and equipping bomb and fallout shelters. I taught, with many Herb-injected remarks, from the printed syllabus. Today, in a greatly more complicated—and dangerous world—I believe Jesus is our fallout shelter, and every minister should specialize in teaching civil defense against the fallout from community, state, national, and world political bombardment.
We are in a much more dangerous and confused world. The past few years, North Korea has been testing missiles, atomic bombs and threatening to use them on America; then on January 13, 2018, a crisis in the state of Hawaii. Hawaii is on the frontline between North Korea and the mainland. At 8:07 AM came the emergency warning over all electronic devices, “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek shelter. This is not a drill.” The state was in a panic. The warning said the missile was twelve minutes from hitting the main island. When the all-clear came, a maintenance man had hit the wrong button when he had the early warning unit open; no attack was on the way.
I lived through air raid alerts in Redondo Beach, California, during the Second World War. The basement of the South Bay Christian Church was the neighborhood air raid shelter. Civil defense took no chances, any unknown bleep on the radar, or unknown sighting by the aircraft spotters meant blackout and we all huddled in the dark basement until the all-clear sounded.
Since 1944 and 1964 I am a different Herb Pinney, not that I was a raging heathen in those days, but I did have my times. I have just done a lot of spiritual study and growing up since then. Isn’t what we are supposed to do? I have come to a clearer view of life, and I have walked very close to death several times. It changes your outlook on life when you are on the medically dead list being kept alive by machines for nearly two weeks, and everyone but your wife had given you up to death. I have come to rely on John 14:23 where Jesus said, “If anybody loves me, he will obey my teachings, My Father will love him. And we will come to him, and make our home with him.” I mean, what is there about a violent storm in the middle of the night when you are home alone, and 70% disabled, that can keep you awake in fear when you are cuddled in bed with God the Father, Jesus the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit. What more support could you ask? Note: this scripture is a lot more demanding than just saying the sinner’s prayer, being baptized, or calling on the name of Jesus. The call here is to love Jesus with all your mind, soul, heart, and strength. Adding to that, it asks us to obey all of Jesus’ teachings, leaving nothing out, and then we can put up the “No vacancy” sign.
This is hard and exhausting work, but to have the confidence that the Trinity is at my 24-hour beck and call; this is Jesus’ requirement. So, we can walk and talk as good friends should and do. At five AM in the morning I can talk to them as I carefully make my way bent over, leaning on my walker, with no one around, on my way to my car, on my way to work over wet, cracked and broken asphalt—a parking lot with small rocks that could trip me—they are just something to talk to Jesus about.
I am still involved with the world on a local, state, national, and world- wide basis. I am involved politically, religiously, economically, and in other ways. I believe that having the Trinity dwelling in me, I am involved with all life with them as partners in this world. I believe there is not one aspect of my life of which my indwelling God partners are not a part.
They are just as interested in how I vote, the political persons I deal with, as they are in how together we raise the money for Morning Glory. They are just as interested in cooperating with me in writing Sunday’s sermons as they are in how I pray, work with, correct, and love my very large extended family. There is not one thing that I do that they are not full partners in accomplishing. Because of that I have learned to take criticism graciously as possible. What I do is to give God the glory, not me. I am thankful for a compliment now and then; it gives me a chance to deflect it to the Trinity. However, I don’t live for them as I did years ago. I am fully aware that it is not I, but Christ in me who gets the glory.
When I turn my view to the national and world stage that is most frightening to so many, I realize that Romans 13 stands, the sovereign God reigns and rules, with Satan as His lion on a leash. I know who holds tomorrow and reading through the Prophets, David’s Psalms, and Moses I know what will be happening tomorrow and who is in charge. I can sleep with ease; I really do know who holds tomorrow, and they live with me. In the storms of life, Jesus is my fallout shelter; all is going to end well.