Emergency Alert

Jon Burgess

25“But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’27“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ Luke 16:25-28

Jesus tells the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus to illustrate that how the hereafter should inform the here-and-now. This parable was a wake-up call to the Pharisees and the crowds who were living for the moment while never considering their last moment. When we have the eternal perspective Jesus is talking about we won't spend our time serving ourselves but rather serving those around us. What good does it do to add more and more to a storehouse we can't take with us? We can make the most of our time here on earth by giving what we have to those around us. No one wants to talk about Hell though. No one wants to think about death. No one cares about the needs of others when the needs of self consume us. The Rich Man lived this way and learned his lesson too late. He didn't want his brothers to suffer the same fate. The most painful part of this parable is how it illustrates that even the most powerful Emergency Alert can fail to wake us up from our spiritual slumber- even the Resurrection of Jesus Himself:

30“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’31“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:30-31

At around 8:08 in the 808 every one received a wake-up call this past Saturday morning. The text will forever be emblazoned in my mind: "Emergency Alert:BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." I had woken up a few minutes before the text came and had stepped into the shower. I was listening to the scripture reading for that day when all of a sudden the Word of God was interrupted by a word of warning. No sooner did I read it then my younger boys started pounding on my bathroom door in a panic as they too had just heard the warning sound on every phone in the house. In a matter of minutes, Cyndi was driving to pick up the one son who had spent the night at a friends house and I huddled with my boys to prepare for the worst. When you're on an island the only place to run is Jesus. We cried and held each other close as I asked my boys if they understood what would happen if we died that day and theyall said, "We will be with Jesus". Even now, my tears begin to well up in my eyes as I think about the clarity that came from that wake-up call. What mattered most was Jesus and people. What mattered most in that 38 minutes should matter most every minute of my life from here on out. It was so humbling to know that some crazy dictator could end my life. It was so comforting to know that he couldn't take away my eternal life or that of my family. 38 minutes later every phone on the Hawaiian islands received this text: "Emergency Alert: THERE IS NO MISSILE THREAT OR DANGER TO THE STATE OF HAWAII. REPEAT. FALSE ALARM." The sense of relief we all felt was palpable and I could tell we had been changed by that Emergency Alert. No one wanted to turn on the TV. We just wanted to hold each other a little longer. I got out my guitar and we worshipped the God who holds us here and will hold us there in eternity. I know that there are many who justifiably angry at the mistake that was made by our emergency alert system. Honestly, though, I look at that emergency alert as a gift. This is a chance for all of Hawaii to receive what the Rich Man could not send to his five brothers on earth- a wake-up call of eternal proportions. The parable Jesus told was a wake-up call to the soul of every man and woman and what He said was very much on purpose. As mad as we are at the mistake that government operator made, let's not make an even more grievous mistake when it comes to the state of our soul before God. We have been given a gift- the reminder of our own mortality and the urgency to make matters right with Jesus and the people around us. After all, the only thing we are taking with us into eternity is relationships. How we spend our time here on earth will determine where those relationships spend their eternity!


For the next week or so the subject of the failed missile alert will be in the news cycle and then it will b replaced with something else. I want to thank You, Jesus, for all the souls who came to know you this past weekend as a result of that wake-up call. I pray for the 1.4 million people who live on these islands to find You as their Lord and Savior. That they would not be lulled back into "business as usual" but would instead want to answer the nagging question that was introduced this past Saturday morning: "Where do I go after I die". Let Your people rise up with a boldness to answer the question everyone is asking both with words and with acts of faith and kindness. Let us live in such a way that people ask us "why". So we can answer there "why" with a "who"- Jesus You are the answer!

Devotions for January 16

Genesis 39,40,41
Luke 16

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