Posts Tagged ‘war’

Prayer: the Greater Work

Prayer

Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God. The way fruit remains firm is through prayer, but remember that it is prayer based on the agony of Christ in redemption, not on my own agony. We must go to God as His child, because only a child gets his prayers answered; a “wise” man does not.  –Oswald Chambers

As if this time of pandemic isn’t bad enough, one can hardly look at the news without seeing a “peaceful” protest turned violent in another one of our cities. The Rev. Canon Phil Ashley of the American Anglican Council has explained the situation like this. We face a culture that is “…increasingly shaped by the forces of aggressive secularism, moral relativism, religious pluralism, individual autonomy and a Utopian hope in secular authority.” As more and more Americans push God out of their lives, social, cultural and spiritual chaos is filling the vacuum. When a country or society pushes God out, it opens the door for the enemy to come in.

It’s easy to despair in situations such as this, but hopelessness is not a state of mind Christians should possess.  The same Jesus who calmed the storm by saying “Peace, be still” on the Sea of Galilee is in control of our lives today. Hebrews 12:28-29 says we live in an unshakable kingdom: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” 

Christians have nothing to fear in the midst of today’s chaos.  Our kingdom is unshakable. As the late Rev. Dr. Billy Graham said, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.” It doesn’t matter whether you believe “Black Lives Matter,” or “Blue Lives Matter,” or “All Lives Matter.” These are all summed up in two words, “Jesus Matters.” Politicians will tell you that we need this or that, but all we need is Jesus. Now is the time for Christians to focus on the greater work and pray to almighty God for the revival of our nation, while we share our faith with those we encounter who have lost all hope.  

A Prayer for the Nation

Lord God, we have not been faithful people in these recent times. As a result, our peaceful and quiet nation has turned into a chaotic one. So many bad things are happening all around because we have given the enemy a footing over our lives and nation. O heavenly Father, turn our hearts towards you. Help us to live peaceful and quiet lives. Let our leaders advocate for peace and love instead of chaos. May the words that come from their mouths be words that edify the nation. May we find peace within our borders. In Jesus’ name, I believe and pray, Amen.

Living Without a Compass

Compass

Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.      –Barack Obama

A few days ago I was on the phone with my good friend Joe, who lives in California. Joe and I have each spent a lot of time in the Middle East, so our conversations often drift into the current events there.  Naturally, we couldn’t have such a discussion without mentioning the Islamic State (ISIS), the radical group currently wrecking havoc in Syria and Iraq.

I was busy bloviating about the ISIS situation when Joe interrupted with a short but cogent comment summing up the entire problem. “This is typical of what eventually happens in every society that doesn’t have Christ.”

Wow!  I wish I’d thought of that.  Joe is right.  History is replete with examples of the same kind of godless butchery that is the ISIS trademark.  Not all of it was beheadings and ethnic cleansing, but it was ruthless and chaotic nonetheless. The cruelty of ISIS appears feeble when compared to the likes of the Roman Empire, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and dare I say the People’s Republic of China, the country upon which the economy of the United States so depends.

While life in the United States has yet to descend into chaos, there is little doubt that the country is in a state of moral decline.  Create a vacuum and something will fill it.  Take God out of our families and homes, and chaos will eventually replace the divine spirit. The evidence is all around us. American society is rapidly becoming more secular; we are entering a post-Christian era.

For Christians, this could ultimately prove to be a blessing in the final analysis. Christianity has historically endured its greatest tests and proven strongest and most effective when operating from a position of weakness within society as a whole. Jesus was the perfect example of this.  The son of God allowed himself to be crucified, and in so doing took all of the sins of mankind upon himself.

His Apostles all fled in fear after Jesus’ crucifixion and remained in hiding until the resurrected Savior appeared to them in the flesh.  The assurance they gained from this and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost empowered them to spread the Gospel around the known world.  Their faith remained unbroken, even though most suffered a martyr’s death.

Like the resurrected Christ appearing to his Apostles 2,000 thousand years ago, today Christ still manifests Himself to His followers during both the best and worst of times. A good friend of mine who is a priest and former Army chaplain was fortunate enough to visit Russia back in the 1990’s to help re-establish the chaplain’s corps in the Russian army.

Like early Christians of the Roman Empire who had to meet secretly in catacombs beneath the cities, during the Soviet Union era many Russian Christians gathered in secret places to worship God.  After the collapse of communism they were eager to bring the church back “above ground.”  Today, the Russian Orthodox Church flourishes where only a few years ago it was suppressed.

Remarkably, Russia’s current leader and former KGB officer Vladimir Putin is being hailed by some as a defender of the Christian faith.  In December 2013, Putin declared in a speech, “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”  The world truly is turned upside down today!

I once had a senior Army officer tell me he preferred to work with men who possessed spiritual values, regardless of their religion.  He explained that having faith in a power higher than one’s self is an indicator of how one will perform under pressure; in this instance, the pressure he was referring to was the stress of combat. However, the truth of his statement applies to every facet of life. People and nations need a moral compass—something to keep them going in the right direction.  The best source of such guidance is a profound belief in God.

Nations rise and nations fall. Every nation has followed this progression from bondage to bondage. The nations of this century will be no different… As Christians we must recognize that nations will rise and fall just as individuals will be born and die. Our civilization will not last indefinitely, but will eventually pass off the scene. Only God’s Word endures forever. We should not put our trust in the things of this world for they are destined for destruction. Instead, we should put our faith in God and His word.    

                                                                                                            —Kirby Anderson, The Decline of a Nation*

*The complete text of Kirby Anderson’s “The Decline of a Nation” is available at this link:

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/decline.html

Memorial Day 2014

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Memorial Day isn’t just another three-day weekend!

In Flanders Fields

by Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) 
    Canadian Army, World War I

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tommy

by Rudyard Kipling

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,

The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”

The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,

I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;

But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,

The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,

O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,

They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;

They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,

But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;

But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,

The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,

O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep

Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;

An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit

Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”

But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,

The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,

O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,

But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;

An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,

Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,

But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,

There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,

O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:

We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.

Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face

The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”

But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;

An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;

An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

 

 

 

Freedom Isn’t Free!

Memorial Day Flags

           Freedom isn’t free!

As a retired soldier, Memorial Day is always a special day of remembrance for me.  My stepfather and a dear friend, both of whom were also soldiers, lie buried only a few paces apart in Arlington National Cemetery, alongside thousands of our departed comrades.  It is good that we occasionally pause to remember those who served our country.

But as we memorialize departed comrades, may we never forget the true price of freedom.  No Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine died to set mankind free. It was a simple carpenter who walked the shores of Galilee some two thousand years ago.  Jesus paid it all!

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  John 15:13 (NIV)

Jesus Crucified“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16: NIV

Peace in Our Time

North Korea Missilew

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

                                                        —St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:7) (NKJV)

    Neville Chamberlain, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, spoke to a cheering crowd in front of 10 Downing Street on September 30, 1938.  Believing he had averted war between Nazi Germany and Britain, Chamberlain boldly declared, “My good friends this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace in our time.”

     Less than a year later, following an unprovoked Nazi invasion of Poland, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II.  Approximately 60 million people died during the war. Chamberlain couldn’t have been more mistaken about peace.

     Prior to World War II, World War I was referred to as simply the World War. Lasting from from July 1914 to November 1918, up to that time in history it was unequaled in its level of material destruction and human casualties. It is estimated that as many as 10 million people lost their lives.  The tremendous scale of death and destruction led many to the conviction that it should be “the war to end all war.”  The peace following World War I lasted barely two decades.

     Only five years passed between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Korean War.  Although a tenuous ceasefire between North and South Korea stopped the fighting, the war never ended.  The two Koreas have officially been in a state of war for over 60 years.

     The United States began its involvement in Vietnam in 1960 and would remain engaged there for almost 15 years. The following year, the United States sponsored an invasion of Cuba by CIA-trained Cuban exiles, which resulted in their crushing defeat known today as the Bay of Pigs disaster. 

     The United States invaded Grenada in 1983; Panama in 1989; and Iraq in 1991, in what has become known as the Gulf War.

     Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and continues in a seemingly perpetual state of war there.  America subsequently invaded Iraq in 2003 and remained there for a decade. 

     Every U.S. President since Harry Truman has tried unsuccessfully to bring peace to the Middle East, where Arab-Israeli tensions are still boiling over.

     Today, the Korean War is back in the news.  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been doing some serious saber rattling, threatening nuclear annihilation of Japan and the United States. Some on Capitol Hill have begun to call for preemptive military strikes against Kim’s regime. Cooler heads are calling for negotiation and peace talks. 

     War after war should come as no surprise to Christians. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that there will be wars and rumors of war up to the day of His return. While peace is certainly a desirable goal of politics, nations pursue periods of peace with full knowledge they are fleeting. 

     In John16, Jesus foretells His passion and describes to His apostles how they will suffer their own trials and tribulations for being His followers. After explaining what will happen, Jesus tells them in verse 33 (NKJV), “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  

     The only lasting peace is an inner peace of heart and mind derived through a personal relationship with the Savior of the world. In Philippians 4:7, St. Paul describes this as, “the peace which passeth all understanding.” Such peace is vividly displayed in Acts 16, where we see Paul and Silas praying and singing hymns to God while chained inside a Roman prison. Paul behaved in this manner because, as he explains, his faith in Christ taught him to be content in any situation. In Philippians 4:12 (NKJV) Paul declares, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Such contentment is derived from an immovable sense of inner peace that is unaffected by outer circumstances. 

     The world seeks peace through politics and war. Clausewitz described war as, “an extension of politics by other means.” Unfortunately, as history has demonstrated time and again, winning at politics and war does not guarantee peace will prevail. 

     True peace comes from only one source.  It arises from a proper relationship with Jesus Christ.  The Rev. Billy Graham explains this best:

 “The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through the tears. The happiness for which our souls ache is one undisturbed by success or failure, one which will root deeply inside us and give inward relaxation, peace, and contentment, no matter what the surface problems may be. That kind of happiness stands in need of no outward stimulus.” 

     Peace might seem elusive to you, but it’s really quite simple to find. Seek it in the Gospel and you will quickly discover it has been waiting for you there all along!