Iraq, ISIS, and Obama…Is There an Answer?

I was one of those (probably few) Americans who never believed we should have pulled out of Iraq. Naïve though I (probably) am, I still do not fault then President George W. Bush for invading this Middle Eastern country. I am (again, probably) one of the only people left who still thinks that ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was not a ploy to get us over there, in order to facilitate oil acquisitions or the money-making war machine. Color me obtuse, but I think there very well may have been WMDs in Iraq, that were somehow successfully re-located or deeply buried. We had to go there, be there, and if we had stayed there, today James Foley, Jeff Sotloff, David Haines and Alan Henning might still be with us.

I am still unable to comprehend how any thinking person could see a future where a barely stable, newly-freed-from-Sadaam Iraq would NOT be re-invaded by other, more vicious & hostile elements, if left to its own defenses. And how those elements would NOT gain a foothold, find a haven, then spread out from that haven, if unobstructed. ( And when I say ‘spread’, I don’t mean just in the Middle East.)  To me, the math was simple. I know a minimal US presence was supposed to remain in Iraq, but more than minimal was needed. Commanders on the ground knew it. But the majority of Americans and the Obama administration, along with the Iraqis themselves, chose otherwise.

Understandably.  Americans were war-weary, and attention & resources were badly needed on the domestic front.  But a long-term, very probable consequence of US troop withdrawal was…ignored? Or not even realized? And then one day we heard the horrifying news that almost overnight, Iraq was being overrun by brutal extremists, quickly gaining & holding ground. And spreading.

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Writing this article will not change what happened, and I certainly am no one of military or political influence, to shape a future course. So I don’t know why I’m even writing it. I just know that it’s been on my mind, doesn’t fade away, and so I need to do it.

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I mention now & again, that I am not and have never been a supporter of Barack Obama. I never trusted him, though in the earlier stages I didn’t know why. I also at times mention that I believe the Scriptures show us that it is God who raises up & brings low kings and governments. For this reason, I’ve stopped overtly ‘bashing’ the President. I can’t afford to expend precious time, energy & health in such negative efforts. Instead, I have to find, if I can, positives in this man and his administration.  If I can.  I also pray. Beyond that, it is God’s call and on His shoulders.

When you have previously opposed someone almost absolutely, it takes effort to listen with an open mind. In matters as serious as stopping the spread of ISIS, I want to be able to support this President’s thoughts and strategies. Watching him on 60 Minutes this past Sunday, believe me, I listened. Without prejudice.

I think my first & strongest impression of Barack Obama, as he answered host Steve Kroft’s questions, was of a deep, implacable assurance.  Not arrogance, nor intractability. He was sure of his answers.  His knowledgeable assessments and explanations – as I perceived them, at least – reassured me to some extent.  But they did more than that.  Even though the entire interview may have been staged, I realized how little I knew about such overwhelming atrocities as extremist invasions, and how ill-equipped I am to even consider faulting the judgments of the experts. In anything. Way above my pay grade.

Which doesn’t necessarily mean that my initial (and ongoing) impressions of the President were/are wrong.  Maybe my beliefs & ideas are valid ones, trumping existing policy if ever implemented.  But…I’m not the one in the saddle. I’m not the one with the years of hard experience & the knowledge that comes with that. Others are, and maybe I need to let that trump my opinions & impressions in life-and-death matters of international import. Maybe many of us should now see such things this way. Sometimes, the wrong person is in the job, engaging in a subversive agenda…yet still, some good results.

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…this being said, I don’t advise throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And what I mean by that, in this case, is I can’t disregard my own six years of severe distrust of this President. Going back to Victor Davis Hanson’s article “Dr. Barack and Mr. Obama”   – the first such article like that that I’d ever seen – through to Andrew McCarthy’s recent piece  The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist” (It’s a fictitious name the Obama administration invented to deceive us), Mark Levin’s declaring emphatically that Obama is in a full-blown cover up of ISIS, and everything else I’ve read, seen, or heard in between, I cannot pretend ignorance. I cannot blithely skip through the field of daisies, chasing butterflies & assuming everything is light-hearted and lovely. I know much better now.

…so while on the one hand, I am stepping out in faith, trusting God enough to trust President Obama in this instance and moment of global threat, on the other hand I’m saying, But I still don’t trust him, and probably never will.

I find my way out of this dichotomy in the words of King David: “LORD, my heart is not haughty…neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” (Psalm 131:1)   I remember that Proverbs 21:1 tells us that the LORD holds the king’s heart, and turns it “whithersoever He will.”  I, and all of us, must with one accord now have as much faith and hope in God’s hand on our leadership as we can, not only in prayer and fasting, but in our thinking and our words as well.

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Hands

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Frustration: Eternally Old

I am always wondering what God is doing. Daily, headlines in the news inform us of events that threaten or dismay. Whether on computer or TV screen, or on the printed pages of magazines, books & newspapers, we are constantly confronted with disturbing, often perplexing realities.

I also wonder about more normal, work-a-day happenings – like, why does it start raining the moment I step out the door? Why do I keep getting ‘set back’ in certain endeavors? I wonder about decisions that must be made that are not of life-or-death significance but will have an impact. I wonder why, when I take every precaution against a specific outcome, it happens anyway. These kinds of events, that happen to us all, constantly give me pause. Because I do not believe in coincidence and I do believe in a sovereign Lord.

Yes, there is plenty to wonder about, if you have that kind of mindset & disposition.

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Pain – any kind of pain – will motivate most of us to do more than wonder. We will look for a solution. We want relief. If an answer can be found, we will most likely give it a try.

The pain of frustration presents a sore dilemma. Frustration exists in & because of a multitude of circumstances, and if any of them can be changed, we may find relief. But is there a root problem that needs to be addressed? Many years ago, British preacher Derek Prince was speaking on his radio broadcast about being under a curse. I hadn’t planned on listening, but ‘unaccountably’ woke up early one morning, turned on the radio, and heard him stating that a key symptom of being under a curse was frustration. Intrigued, I listened. Prince listed constant frustration in money matters, relationships and career progress as results of a possible curse at work in one’s life. It was a short broadcast, and to this day, I remember it.

You may or may not believe that a person can come under a curse. I know that the New Testament Scripture tells believers in Jesus Christ that they have been redeemed from the curse (of the law), because He became a curse for them, when He hung on the cross (Galatians 3:13). It would seem to me that any kind of curse must be rooted, somehow, in this, and should now be neutralized – yet, according to Derek Prince, Christians still can be affected by them. Plus, I’ve been baffled & exasperated by happenings in my own life that…well, if it looks like a duck… Combine these two, and I have to question my own understanding of frustration and its possible causes.

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…here are some thoughts…

Before Satan, we read of Lucifer, purportedly the most beautiful & magnificent of all of God’s created beings. (I say ‘purportedly’ because the actual name Lucifer only appears one time throughout the whole of Scripture, in Isaiah 14:11. Other conclusions about this being are drawn from statements & judgements made about another, the king of Tyre, who seems to be a representation of Lucifer at a later date in time). Scripture tells us that when Lucifer walked, music emanated from him (Ezekiel 28:13). He is described as “…full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (v.11) Though his name means “morning star”, he is identified as having been “the anointed cherub that covereth” (v.14). (Think about that, if you’re looking for deep…)

We know that at some point, he turned against his Creator. Seems like his own excellence ensnared him, because he decided that he would be like the Most High (Isaiah 14: 12-14). Lucifer actually believed he could usurp the Mighty God, which must be the original ‘being full of one’s self’! In addition, he recruited others. The coup was complete.

God had to act.

(Bible scholars believe that His actions at this point took place in a time interval between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis. This second verse tells us that the earth was without form, and void. But God did not create the earth without form (Isaiah 45:18). Something seems to have happened to make it become so.)

I can not imagine, though I try, the scene of this judgment. Scripture alludes to it, but barely and in places you might not suspect. But, there is a Biblical record of cataclysmic judgment on the once glorious Lucifer. In Isaiah 14, we read: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cast down to the ground…thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit…” Ezekiel tells us, once iniquity was found in Lucifer, that the Lord GOD said, “I will cast you…out of the mountain of God…”(v.16)

And what has never occurred to me, though I knew about the judgment, was one eternally significant result of it. It should’ve been obvious, but it wasn’t. I knew that Lucifer – now Satan (it is presumed) – hated Christ and all who believe in Him, with a malevolent hatred. But exactly why? Well, I assumed, because Satan is just…evil…and Christ is not.  Because he is evil, he wants to destroy.  But I never connected some of the dots… 

…but try to put yourself in Lucifer’s place, once high & exalted in a glorious splendor of existence, in perhaps moments or less finding himself roaming helplessly, stunned…through dark, violent chaos & void…and unable to do anything about it. Not one single thing. Ever. No matter what he tried or how hard he tried it, he had no power to RESTORE ANYTHING. Ever.

He had lost it all.

And so I wonder, as we walk through time & history, if much of what we see happening in empires & governments, even in technological progress & global humanitarian ‘unity’, has its roots in endless Satanic attempts to regain his lost glory as Lucifer. In The Invisible War, Donald Barnhouse declares that Satan is still “thinking he can yet do something to restore order and peace within the borders of his chaotic realm.”  To somehow regain influence over his environment, to restore it (if even for purely prideful & selfish reasons.) Powerless to do so, Lucifer/Satan reaped only frustration. Unabated, without reprieve, frustration can escalate to fury & destruction. And finally, jealous hatred – ever increasing – towards the One who can restore, and does, and will. Towards the One through Whom all creation will ultimately be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)

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…and again…“Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither Slumber nor Sleep”

“Hamas claims victory after the end of Operation Protective Edge – even though it was soundly defeated by the IDF. Israel’s enemies and opponents – and much of the media – continue to fault the Jewish state for defending itself and its people. One would think Israel was on the ropes. Not so, writes Jonathan Tobin, who says that yesterday’s Israeli pact with Jordan is just one more piece of evidence that Israel is getting stronger” 

 (excerpt from Israel’s Getting Stronger, Not Weaker - Stand for Israel)

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“…the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…”

Originally posted on Jesus, the Revolution & You:

These terms – ‘the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God’ – made their first appearance in The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America – our Declaration of Independence – in its opening words.  “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”  Accordingly, it would follow that all else contained within this document, and any other document based on or springing from this Declaration, would be built upon & around these foundational realities.

So a problem arises if one doesn’t really believe that such a concept as ‘Laws of Nature’ is in fact a reality. Or if it is a reality, but not such…

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“Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither Slumber nor Sleep”

 

“What all of Israel is talking about but you won’t find it in the liberal media, is the fact that since the crisis began, our brave soldiers have found 31 terror tunnels with over 60 access points from Gaza that lead deep into Israel. What Israeli intelligence has not confirmed but what people in Israel are discussing is that our soldiers uncovered a decade-in-the-making plot to use a web of underground roads to launch a massive attack in 16 different cities in Israel — all to happen two months from now, during our High Holy Days — with the terror tunnels leading to community centers, kibbutzim, and kindergartens.” 

(The Heartbreaking Reality in Southern Israel - Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Founder and President, IFCJ )

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Yahweh Reigns

…More than just a Government ?

Last 4th. of July I began what I intend to make a tradition: I read the Declaration of Independence aloud. (So far, I’m the only person present at the reading.) This year, while reading those hallowed words that explained & proclaimed the American Revolutionary cause, I also began to get unexpected glimpses of parallels with things not necessarily ‘political’. These glimpses will, I know, become full visions, if I am not just imagining them. If I am not just imagining them, surely others have been graced with such…insight.

My conviction that the hand & works of the Lord run through all of American history, for a strong & definite purpose, grows every day. There is not much about which I have no doubt, but I have no doubt about that. I think I am coming late to the party! as the almost tangibleness of His invisible things become more manifest to me. We read in 2 Corinthians 4:17 about affliction “…working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” and are counseled to look at those things which are not seen. I suspect that the United States of America is a powerful representation of those things.

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“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

What impacted me especially, in this statement in the beginning sentences of the Declaration of Independence, was the idea of the consent of the governed. That some form of government among men is necessary cannot be disputed. The heavy-handed concept of government might be inherently assumed. Clearly, with tyrants & dictators, it is. There, the people fall prey. Perhaps they have never known any other way.

(But there is another Way.)

God is on the march, and He has plans for men.

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We begin our endeavors with high hopes & grandiose plans. Then, we usually start hitting roadblocks, right? Sometimes, roadblocks hit us! As the sparks fly upward, man is born for trouble, we read in the book of Job. (Job 5:7) I hate that this is written, but…it is. We can usually safely assume, at the very least, glitches along the way; but often serious difficulties, conflicts & divisions rise up.

So it is & has been in governments among men. The reason for that is that governments are composed of men. Our Founders knew this well, and did not expect perfection, or a problem-free republic. In the Federalist No.51, James Madison astutely wrote: “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

‘Glitches’ began rearing their hostile heads early on in the young United States. Prior to the framing of the Constitution, under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had failed so miserably to govern that a return to monarchy was being considered as the only defense against chaos. George Washington doubted that the young nation could exist much longer without “…having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole Union…” (Athearn, Robert G., American Heritage series, Vol.4, ‘A New Nation’)  Such crises led to four months of constant, intense & sometimes bitter debate during the Constitutional Convention, where the Articles of Confederation were scrapped, and agreement was finally reached on the new Constitution of the United States of America.

Safeguards against the inclinations of man at his worst were implemented into our Constitution, to the best of our forefathers’ ability. In his closing speech at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, while acknowledging not entirely approving it, Benjamin Franklin also acknowledged astonishment that the finished Constitution of the United States of America approached so near to perfection as it does.” (Ravitch, Diane & Thernstrom, Abigail, eds., The Democracy Reader)

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So…men struggle to achieve the goal of a free nation. Such a nation requires government.  And perhaps we see in the heart, the form & the functioning of the government & citizens of the United States of America a parallel to the corporate body of Christ and the individuals within it. And thus, a glimpse into the heart & desire of God.

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Just as the American governing system is comprised of many persons who serve in a hierarchy of various offices & functions, so Christ operates His government on this earth through His people, who serve within a Divine structure, as many members of one Body. Yet “…all members have not the same office.” (Romans 12:4) The optimal functioning of the body of Christ on earth requires the willing participation of…His people. God want co-workers. (2 Cor.6:1, 5:19)  He wants us to agree with him, so that we can act in accord with His purposes. Although the Lord can do as He pleases, it is not in His heart to subvert us, or force us to work with Him. He wants our consent.

He wants the consent of those over whom He would be Lord.

Consent of the governed.

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Guard Your Heart…but not from Jesus

Is God real to you?  How about His love?

I have believed that Jesus is Lord, and Savior of the world, approaching 40 years now. In a heartbeat, I can look to Him, and He is there.  But yet…for me, a more conscious apprehension of His love, and especially His love for me, has remained elusive.  Sure, there are moments…but something has been missing.  I questioned if I really was one of those included in the Scripture “God causes all things to work together for good to them who love Him…”  I knew I needed God, but I wasn’t at all sure that I loved Him.  Because I wasn’t at all able to have a sense of God as love.  Though the Scriptures make that clear, for me it seemed a void.

I don’t see a final, permanent solution to anything outside of God’s love, which engenders His promises.  I have concluded that if you can’t trust in His love…for you…you won’t be able to consistently believe His promises.  This inability to believe leaves an open door for doubt & fear to enter, to gnaw away at your peace and make you sick.

Ours essential battles are not against flesh & blood, but powers & principalities which deal in fear.  At root, the issue isn’t that money is tight and costs prohibitive to even survival. The issue is fear.  The issue is, do you really trust in God?  If we really trust God, we will not fear.  And I have yet to guarantee an easy way to trust somehow you don’t know.  Perhaps some can, but with God. who is invisible, it might take some effort for others of us.

I have had to work at it. I have had to really think about certain Scriptures, and make decisions - repeatedly, over the past few years.  And I am telling you, though you may struggle a lifetime, when the love of God arises like the day-star in your heart and all around, every wall falls down, and every strong hold is broken.  You KNOW.  You know He is the Mighty God, King of the Universe, Who alone is good and will always do what He promises.  In Him, you stand in power and truth, and you KNOW it.

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When this Light ,which is God, causes there to be no place found for darkness, the alacrity of His faithfulness becomes astonishingly apparent.  It is mind-blowing.  It is real and true.  If you are not in that place yet, be absolutely assured that it is there.  It exists.  Keep fighting your particular good fight, and stay the course. As difficult as it may seem to do so, there comes a point when it is the only recourse left to you.  Like those final throes of a woman in labor, give it your one final push.  Make the decision to forge ahead, in Christ, for all you’re worth, not looking back.  At this point, for you, His kingdom is very close.

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thelordreigns