MODERATOR: Below is one of my earliest prophetic writings ever to be published - back in 1993. Sadly, it seems that it is still applicable today. A PICTURE of the CHURCH by Andrew Strom. A young woman (the Church), clothed in what appears to be white garments, stands in a darkened room. As we draw nearer, we see that her hands are clasped around heavy objects that seem to weigh her down, and she is also using the crook of both her arms to cradle still more heavy objects to herself. Above her, God is reaching down with outstretched hands towards her, but she ap- pears hardly to even notice. In the distance we see Satan, laughing as he drags at the chains of millions of blinded souls, bound in chains of misery, poverty and sin. Slowly, he is dragging them all towards a huge pit at the far end of the room. Many of them are crying out for someone to free them, to help them. As we draw nearer to the young woman, we see that the objects clasped in her hands and cradled carefully in her arms are nice homes, cars, appliances, land and possessions. We see also that she has designed her surroundings to make herself as comfortable as possible, with so much food available that she has become obese and fat. The cries of those bound in chains are louder now, and we can see that many of them are suffering terribly from starvation and poverty. Millions of them, including many little children, are right on the point of death. The young woman is too busy watching television to really look at them, but occasionally she flicks them some crumbs off her table. A few of them are helped by this, but millions more are destined to perish without hope in the darkness. We are getting quite close to the young woman now, and we see that despite her seeming affluence, her white garments have be- come soiled, tattered and torn. Some of this has been caused by her clinging so tightly to her weighty possessions. We also see that her skin is mottled with a kind of leprosy caused by "secret" sins, lust, untruthfulness, resentment, unforgiveness, etc. The young woman shows no signs of being aware of her condit- ion, and in fact appears totally blind to her wretched state. Above her, Jesus weeps, crying aloud in anguish. The Bible says that He "loved" this young woman, and "gave Himself for her". Now He is forced to behold her steadily worsening plight. He casts His eyes also over the vast millions chained in misery, sin and despair, knowing that it is only through the young woman that He can reach out and heal them. As we watch, Jesus stretches down His hands yet again towards the young woman, calling for her to reach up to Him so that He can pour forth His cleansing power in- to her and through her, to wash away her sin and unbelief, and to empower her to reach out to those trapped in bondage and sin. But the young woman's arms are so heavy with houses, worldly pursuits and possessions (which she is unwilling to let go of), that she is unable to reach up to God. And anyway, she is so busy watching television that she can't even hear Him calling to her. On Sundays, the young woman always goes out. She dresses herself up, and makes her way to a beautiful building where the chairs are all in rows facing the front. The meetings here are known as "church services". The young woman loves to sing the catchy chor- uses and "worship" God as the superb musicians play. The music is so good that she often can't tell whether it is just the music affecting her or whether she is getting a real "touch from God". Every week she feels "uplifted and blessed", and yet still she remains seemingly oblivious to the agony that she is causing her grieving Saviour. While the young woman's life apparently re- volves around keeping herself "happy", Jesus, the One who sacri- ficed everything for her, is left "wounded in the house of His friends." Often there are men speaking at the "church services" who have degrees and diplomas from Bible College. Many of them give in- spiring and entertaining sermons, full of stories, jokes and "illustrations". But none of them ever seem to preach directly on the terrible condition of the young woman. Perhaps they are afraid of "offending somebody". And so, as God watches in anguish, the young woman (the Church) continues on her worldly way, weighed down with possessions and materialism, tainted with sin, seduced by the cares and pleasures of this world. How long will it be before she comes to Him with a "broken heart and a contrite spirit", crying out for a flood of His mercy and His power to be outpoured upon her? And how long will it be before she throws away her worldly toys and pursuits, to "seek His face" with all her heart?