Thinking Out Loud

December 9, 2017

Armageddon Preview: California Wildfires

Admittedly the person who posted this on Twitter retouched the sign, but everything else in this image is real.

Long before there was the Left Behind books and music, there were the Russell Doughten films. Growing up Evangelical in the ’70s and ’80s meant your church probably had showings of:

While studies have shown that guilt- and fear-induced decisions tend not to produce lifelong disciples, there are no doubt some reading this who were “scared into the kingdom” by movies such as this and live productions such Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames.

Looking at the images from Southern California this week, it was difficult not to imagine that we were viewing a film producer’s vision of the end times. The people who had to drive through those scenes in order to escape will simply never be able to erase those images. The future PTSD issues related to the past week will endure as long as many of these people are living.

The losses are staggering. But beyond the personal tragedy is the loss of a rather unique part of the world, every bit as special to me as Venice is to others.

I took six trips to So. Cal., staying at least two weeks for each, and renting a car each time. My favorite memories are of driving north of Los Angeles at night with the radio cranked on KFI or KKHR and capturing the image in my mind of the homes lining the Hollywood Hills, not unlike the view you get looking down on a city or town at night from an airplane, but with the perspective reversed by the fact you’re at the lowest altitude and the porch lights and street lights are displayed in a panorama above you.

When the lights go down in the California town
People are in for the evening
I jump into my car and I throw in my guitar
My heart beatin’ time with my breathin’

After finding something that totally awed me, I would then take the first exit, loop around and drive the opposite way to see it all again. Gas was cheaper then, I suppose. I can’t describe to you the beauty of the lights twinkling up the hills. It was another world.

Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger
Than moonshine

To think of so much of that being simply gone is unimaginable. You see the video footage of burned out properties, but I think about what they were; what will take at least a generation to rebuild if not longer.

When you think of the dangers of living in So. Cal., you think earthquakes. Not any longer. As one responder said yesterday, “Fire season is now all year.”

In the end, condition “red” was not enough. They had to create a new level “purple” for “extreme” danger.

…I don’t know if any filmmakers were mercenary enough to go out and shoot stock footage in the middle of this, but it certainly raises the possibilities of what Armageddon could look like; metaphorically of course, because the prophesied battle takes place on the other side of the world.

But The Tribulation, perhaps? Definitely. Nuclear aftermath? For sure.

 

 

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April 28, 2011

Remembering David Wilkerson

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:50 am

Sorry to learn this morning of the passing yesterday of Times Square Church pastor David Wilkerson, also the founder of Teen Challenge.  David and his wife Gwen were involved in a head-on car crash with a tractor trailer.  He was 79.

Charisma magazine has the story here, which also recalls the beginning of the ministry:

On February 9, 1958, David Wilkerson felt the Spirit prompting him to spend late evenings praying rather than watching the Late Show. Wilkerson obeyed. At the time he was pastoring a rural Assemblies of God in Pennsylvania.

“Two weeks and two days later, during his late night time of prayer, he felt prompted to pick up the February 24, 1958, edition of Life magazine,” Wood explains. “On pages 30-31, he wept as he looked at an ink sketching of seven members of the Dragon Gang on trial for killing 15-year-old polio victim, Michael Farmer. He felt the Spirit say to him, ‘Go and help those boys’.”

Although Wilkerson had never been to New York City, 350 miles away, Wilkerson found himself three days later in a courtroom where the gang members were on trial. As Wood recalls it, the judge tossed Wilkerson out of the courtroom, but photographers captured his photo and he was later recognized by gang members as he witnessed on the street.

“That late night time of prayer opened up the ministry David Wilkerson founded, Teen Challenge,” Wood says. “He obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit and every day approximately 24,000 men and women are experiencing the saving and delivering power of Jesus Christ from life-controlling issues in Teen Challenge Centers all around the world.”

The impact of Teen Challenge for me was personally measured each time someone asked me, “Are you related to David Wilkerson;” and I would then inform them of the difference between Wilkinson and Wilkerson.  But I was always glad to do this, since it meant people were aware of the dramatic Teen Challenge story, as outlined in the book and movie, The Cross and The Switchblade.  David would have been 80 in just two weeks.

HT: Jon at Word & Spirit

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