Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and global terrorism all cause us to wonder what on earth is happening. Sure, there has always been tragedy and cataclysmic events in our world, but, these days, it seems that a new crisis is exploding just as another is beginning to abate.

As we prepare to remember the horrific attack on American soil on 9-11, we may wonder could it be that all these things that are happening in our world today are actually signs of the times. Could these be reminders to us that Jesus Christ is coming back soon?

Consider the tsunami that struck Southeast Asia on Dec. 26 last year. It was caused by the fourth most powerful undersea earthquake on record. An earthquake so powerful it moved the entire island of Sumatra 100 feet to the southwest from its pre-quake position. Geologists said the tsunami was so powerful that it set the whole Earth to vibrating and it interfered with the Earth’s rotation to the degree that time stopped for three microseconds.

According to the U.S. Geological Society, earthquakes are on the increase. For the past 50 years, every decade has increased in the number of earthquakes recorded. And not just minor ones, but “killer quakes” as well. And, this one has been one of the strongest ever, with more than 286,000 causalities in its wake. More will come.

And now in our own back yard, this tragic hurricane called Katrina may end up claiming thousands of lives as well.

Then there is the continuing threat of terrorism. The last attack happened in London, with threats of more to come.

When Jesus was asked what the signs of His return would be, He painted a picture of a world torn by strife and war; famine in the midst of plenty; the Earth rocked by great earthquakes and ravaged by pestilences. Jesus said: “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11, NKJV). Jesus indicates that natural disasters along with global conflict will begin to increase in frequency and intensity in concert with each other shortly before His return.

And it is as these “birth pains” begin to take place that Christians are to know their deliverance is near!

Jesus said “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28, NKJV).

I had the opportunity to be a guest on “Larry King Live” in August, and a caller directed a question to me about what is happening in our world today. I was asked if we are, indeed, seeing signs of the times, predicted in the Bible, reminding us that the coming of Christ is near. I told her, “I believe that we are.” And Larry pointedly said to me, “It’s been 2005 years”! And I responded, “Yes, and we are 2005 years closer”! We have never been closer to the return of Jesus Christ to the Earth than we are right now. So, what are we to do?

Certainly, we want to do everything we can for the victims of this latest tragedy along the gulf coast of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. You will find Christian churches and relief organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, and the Salvation Army leading the way. And, we all should offer them and others our prayerful and financial support.

Sometimes people accuse Christians of having their heads in the sand, oblivious to the problems of the world around us. As it is often stated, they are so “heavenly minded, they are no earthly good.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the very opposite is the case. When you truly are “heavenly minded,” you will be of the greatest earthly good. You will find those who have done the most for this world have been those who thought the most of the next one.

You will not see any atheist relief groups rushing to provide aid to our friends devastated by Katrina. There is no “Non-believer’s Purse,” or “Secular Vision” or “Atheists’ Army” out there helping those in need. But there are thousands of Christian churches and para-church organizations that are already doing what they do best – offering help and hope to those in need.

Another thing we must consider as we see these signs of the times, or these “birth pains,” is these are reminders to us that the return of Jesus is near and we need to be ready spiritually.

The Bible teaches that there is a generation of people who will not see death, but rather will meet the Lord in what is often referred to as the rapture of the Church.

Could we be that generation? Time will tell. But if I were you, I would pay careful attention to all that is happening – you will be glad that you did!

Editor’s note: Those wishing to contribute to hurricane relief efforts can donate to the Salvation Army or by calling 1-800-725-2769.

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