Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Paradox of Afghan-American History

I relish the study of history.  The stories of nations, tribes and peoples of ages past have much to teach us.  These days, however, I often wonder why we study and teach history at all.  If we refuse to learn from it, then why not ignore it altogether?  This is especially true when it comes to the war with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The United States of America is a relatively young country…only a couple centuries old.  But enough history has occurred to teach some truths about the American people.  Admiral Yamamoto may not have spoken some variation of the famous line in the motion picture, Tora! Tora! Tora!, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve,” but it states a historical truth: you can attack the U.S., but then you’d better find some place to hide.

It is difficult to understand what Al Qaeda sought to accomplish by bringing down the World Trade Towers.  But, as the Japanese found out subsequent to Pearl Harbor, American reprisal is dogged, determined and swift.  As they did in 1941, Americans rallied ‘round the flag, mourned their dead, praised their heroic police and firefighters then turned to find and destroy the enemy.  Bin Laden is smart to cower in mountain caves and never show himself again.  He will have to continue to hide until he dies or is caught, tried and executed.  History teaches that truth, justice and the American way yet survive to fuel a terrible resolve.

Afghanistan has a much longer history which teaches that the Afghan people will never be subjugated for long by any outside power.  Check with Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Persians, Russians and the British.  I recently talked with a young, former sergeant who served several tours in Afghanistan.  I asked him, “What should America do about the war in Afghanistan?”  His answer was quick and direct, “We should get out as fast as we can.”

The truth about both Iraq and Afghanistan is historically based.  More than dictators or any other form of oppression, the thing they hate the most is a foreign army, especially if that army is made up of “infidels.”  Recent polls have shown that, for the most part, the Afghan people hate the coalition presence.  Once they leave, history teaches that all the changes the troops have fought and died for will most likely be reversed and the Afghans will revert to their former state of affairs.  This writer firmly believes that too much blood has been shed already for nothing.  History screams its agreement.

Here’s another related historical truth: nation building is risky and often a fool’s errand.  It worked in Germany and Japan because the Allies initially took over completely.  Somalia and Haiti are pure failures.  We never even got started in Viet Nam.  Freedom and democracy are not our gifts to give.  A nation must pay for it with its own blood sweat and tears.  Only then will they value and cherish it.  Can we give this gift to Iraq, Afghanistan?  Not unless they want it enough to struggle and suffer for it.  History is a great teacher, but only if the students pay attention.

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Filed under Change Agent, Culture Wars, Current Events, History, Ignorance, independence, Islam, Middle East, Peace, Politics

FAILURE TO PROCLAIM

What a tragedy if we should ever lose the freedom to speak freely!  One of the great things about America and some other Western cultures is the “market place of ideas.”  No matter how weird or wonderful, if you have some concept, some idea, some philosophy…you can talk about it freely.  And, you can freely pursue your philosophy provided it does not intrude upon or injure your fellow-citizen.  It seems that no matter how strange, one can persuade a few others to join in one’s weirdness.

Of course, the results of such freedom are not always comfortable or pretty.  It provides forums for televangelist money-grubbers, cultists, communists, socialists, atheists, republicans, tea-party persons, liberals and anyone else with something to say, advocate, enjoin, advise, recommend or decry, expose, denigrate, criticize, denounce…whatever.

The Tragedy of Silence

But the real tragedy is when Christians fail to take advantage of these freedoms and remain silent.  What if we were as determined to proclaim Christ as Julian Assange is to spill the state beans?  Not even jail could bar us from speaking about Christ.  Gag orders would not gag us.  No magistrate could muzzle us.  We would not be reticent in the face of ridicule.  To all this, we must give the ancient answer: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19,20).

We have, after all, been saved to save others.  We have been liberated to liberate.  We believe, therefor we speak (2 Corinthians 4:13).  We have been made complete in Christ to see every person complete in Him (Colossians 1:28).  We have been chosen to proclaim (1 Peter 2:9).  Silence is not an option.

Find Your Marketplace

It is time for Christians to find their marketplaces and forums and speak of Christ and The Way.  What is your forum brother?  Where is your marketplace sister?  Maybe it is the dinner table, coffee klatch, sewing circle, barbershop, pulpit, blog, letter to the editor, call-in talk show, golf course, coffee shop, ad infinitum.  Maybe it is a neighborhood Bible study.  You say, “No one will listen”?  Then follow Jesus and, while you proclaim, heal, comfort, ease, assist, support, aid, encourage, give and befriend.  Then they will listen.  They listened to Jesus.

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Filed under Blogs & Blogging, church, Community, discipleship, Discussion, Evangelism, Faith, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, Persuasion, Philosophy, Preaching/Teaching, Religion, Ridicule, Salvation, Scripture

Who Owns Israel?

Due to all the “saber-rattling” going on recently, plus a post from the “Fellowship of Christians and Jews,” I thought it might be time to re-run this article.

Do Israelis have a divine right to what is now called Israel?  Who does the land occupied by the modern state of Israel belong to?  Should Christians support Israel’s right to exist as a divine right?  Are the Jews still God’s separate chosen people?  Consider the following points:

  1. The promise of the land of Palestine (Canaan) to the Jews has been fulfilled (Joshua 21:43-45; 23:14; Nehemiah 9:7,8).  The Jews received what they were promised in full.  The occupation of the land by modern Israel has nothing to do with God’s promises.  It has to do with modern Israel’s alliances and the fact that the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world can’t get along with each other and get their act together.
  2. The Jews were originally deported from the land for their disobedience just as God promised (Leviticus 26:33; Nehemiah 1:8,9).
  3. Any restoration to the land was predicated upon their returning to belief and obedience (Deuteronomy 30; Ezekiel 36:22-38; Nehemiah 1:8,9).  Most of those who now occupy Palestine are not believers and are certainly not obedient.  Many, in fact, are atheists.  How can modern Israel be the fulfillment of any promise of restoration?
  4. God has not rejected His people but only those who become believers in Messiah Christ are the “Israel of God” (Galatians 3:29; 6:15-17).
  5. Only those Jews who accept Jesus as Messiah can continue in covenant relationship with Yahweh (Romans 9-12) and receive any promise.
  6. Because Christ has fulfilled the Law of Moses, there is no longer a division between Jew and Gentile…we are one in Christ and Abraham’s spiritual offspring (Ephesians 2:11-22; Galatians 3:28,29).  So, who will be restored to the land?
  7. The Old Covenant given to the Jews alone has been superseded by a new covenant (Hebrews 8:7-13) made by God with all who believe.  Since there is no separation between ethnic Jews and believing Gentiles, who will receive the alleged promises of restoration to the land?

The truth is that modern unbelieving, disobedient Israel has no more right to the land that belonged to the Palestinians than European Americans have to the land that belonged to the Native Americans.  Throughout history, one group has driven out another and occupied their land.  If we are going to restore all of earth’s lands to those who originally possessed it, absolute turmoil will result.  Let me make a few alternative suggestions:

  1. Leave the Israelis alone.  They fought for the land they have and they won.  It is not the fulfillment of prophecy; it is the work of the United Nations and the spoils of war.
  2. Palestinians and Arabs, get your act together and be nice to your neighbors.  The world will be a much better place and nobody will have to blow up themselves and others.  You think God likes what you’re doing?  Neither do I.  And, while you’re at it, do something about this madman dictator of Iran.  He’s not helping your cause at all.
  3. Israelis, quit bullying the Palestinians and give them a homeland.  One of the reasons they hate you is your mistreatment of them.  They will probably never love you, but they might learn to abide you.  One thing for sure, killing children and leveling houses will not win you any points.
  4. Christians, you’re not helping anything with your misinterpretation of prophecy.  Instead of this ridiculous “Christians United for Israel,” and “Christian Zionism” put your efforts into preaching and modeling Christ to both Jews and Arabs.  Are you doing what Jesus would do?  I don’t think so either.  Start preaching the peace that only the Prince of Peace can give.  Instead of lobbying with the Jews, preach Christ to them.  And don’t you want the Arabs to be saved?  Well, you don’t act like it.

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Filed under Bigotry, Current Events, Islam, Israel, Jesus Christ, Middle East, Palestine, Peace, Politics, Prophecy, Religion, Restoration, Scripture

Everything Changed

Like it or not, it is December and we are hurtling forward into the Christmas Holidays when much of the world celebrates the incarnation of God’s Christ into the physical and finite realm of humanity.  Christians believe that God Himself became flesh and blood to live among His creation.  We believe that Jesus was “God with us.”  But if we are going to think about God becoming flesh and walking and working among men, there’s obviously much more to it than baby Jesus in a manger.

For about thirty-three years after His birth, the world continued as it was.  But when, as a man, he began his short ministry the world was never the same again. Everything changed.

It is hard to think of a world without Jesus Christ because, particularly in the Western world (but certainly not limited to it), Jesus Christ is central…especially at this time of year.  Even if you use the increasingly popular “BCE” and “CE” (“Before the Common Era” and “Common Era”) to measure time, it is simply because BC (before Christ) and AD (“Anno Domini” or “Year of our Lord”) have for centuries been the way history is dated.  Deity becoming human was so explosive it became the turning point of history.

The impact of the advent of Jesus into the world is immeasurable.  What the world would have been without Him is imperceptible.  What the world can become with Christ is yet unrealized.

Today Christians and the way of Christ face expanding challenges.  The “New Atheists” are becoming combative.  Islam once again rattles the scimitars of violent conquest.  How will followers of the Prince of Peace respond?  So far, our reaction is a mixture of rattling our own sabers and stupid, provocative acts like Quran-burning and shouting-matches.

If these challenges are successfully met, it will not be with violence, book-burnings and placard-waving demonstrations.  They will be countered as they always must: by exalting Christ.  It will be done by reconciling humans to each other and to their Creator.  Then, and only then, will the hopeful song of angels be realized: peace on earth among men with whom God is pleased.

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Filed under Atheism/Theism, Christlikeness, Christmas, Culture Wars, Current Events, Good & Evil, Islam, Jesus Christ, Missions/Evangelism, Peace, Persuasion, Politics, Preaching/Teaching, Theism

Participation in Precipitation

When the earth is watered by rain, snow or some other form of precipitation, people in my neck of the woods generally rejoice.  We always seem to need a few inches more.  So, it is not uncommon to hear the religious among us pray for rain when we need it and express thanks when we get it.  In a few days, we’ll be asking for more.

The Creator does not show partiality (Acts 10:34).  He created precipitation which, like sunshine, shows no favorites.  It falls on the evil and the good, the righteous and the unrighteous alike (Matthew 5:45).  The similarity ends there.  Believers have chosen to participate in precipitation.  We will continue to pray for rain and give thanks when it falls…even when it falls on our enemies and those who persecute us.  Come to think of it, we could really use some right now.

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Filed under Blessings, Faith, Good & Evil, Religion, Theism, Trust