It Started Way before 9/11…

…a post from December, 2010…

Jesus, the Revolution & You

In the days following September 11, 2001, I heard something like this from the Lord : that He took no pleasure in that horrendous, vicious wounding of our nation. While many who stood behind pulpits, or listened from pews in front of them, preached judgment on America for her sins, I heard something else. I heard that a silent poison had been spreading, and was far more advanced than we knew. Stopping its spread required perseverance and a ’never forget’ mentality, and these in turn required such a wounding as the catastrophic tragedy that took place in New York city that morning. A lesser event could fade from memory, and not elicit the sustained vigilance necessary to combat terrorism and preserve our land.

This was how I understood what I believed was shared with me that day.

Today, I understand more. I understand the poison that had been spreading was…

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A Threat to Our Survival

 

 

We Are Losing to an Enemy We Refuse to Name Newt Gingrich

“…the facts—suggest the United States is drifting into a crisis that could challenge our very survival.”

~~~

 

“…our intelligence system has been methodically limited and manipulated to sustain false narratives while suppressing or rejecting facts and analysis about those who would kill us.”

“Congress should explore legislation which would make it illegal to instruct intelligence personnel to falsify information or analysis.”

~~~

We blindly play their game on their terms, and don’t even think about how absurd it is for people who accept no church, no synagogue, no temple, in their heartland to come into our society and define multicultural sensitivity totally to their advantage…”

~~~

 

“Only once we learn what drives and informs our opponents will we not repeat the same wrong response tactics…and finally start to win this long war.”

 

 

αΩ

America’s First Terrorist Entanglement

 

Too many headlines these days – in fact, just one is too many – trumpet the deeds of ISIS around the globe. We are assaulted visually, with their graphic videos. Hard not to be aware of this terrorist group. Yet, I suspect that many, though aware, don’t grasp the seriousness of their intent. It is just my suspicion, but I think that, let’s say, certain ones in my own sphere of life are missing that. It may be as it was in the days of Noah – people were so involved in the daily issues & struggles of their lives, they did not heed Noah’s warning.

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Terrorism against the United States is not new. It is not a phenomenon specific to our times only. The hand of jihad moved against the original thirteen colonies also. Barely had independence been declared & won, than Muslim extremists of that day began launching attacks at sea on American vessels, engaging in kidnappings, imprisonment, enslavement, & ransom demands, as well as requiring yearly tributes from all who would attempt to sail in ‘their’ waters. These marauders from the North African states of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers, known as the Barbary Pirates, obtained wealth and power through their lawless plundering, (not only of American ships, but those of Portugal, Italy, Malta, Denmark and Sweden, as well as France & England.)

“As early as 1784 Congress followed the tradition of the European shipping powers and appropriated $80,000 as tribute to the Barbary states…”  (America and the Barbary Pirates:  An International Battle Against an Unconventional FoeThe following year, in July 1785, Algerians captured two American ships and their crews of twenty-one people. They were held for a ransom of nearly $60,000. And so it began…and by 1795, The United States was still paying ransoms & tributes to the these piratical states. In that year alone, nearly a million dollars was expended in hostage ransoms, as well as naval stores and a frigate.

As ambassador to France & then Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson opposed paying ransoms & tributes. In a July, 1786, letter to John Adams, Jefferson wrote “I acknolege [sic] I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro’ the medium of war.” He believed that paying tribute would merely invite more demands of the same. The general consensus at that time, however, did not align with Jefferson’s belief. Paying was easier (and cheaper) than fighting. As a result, an attempted international coalition fell through, and extortion on the high seas continued.

However, once elected President, Thomas Jefferson refused to continue making these payments. So Tripoli declared war. Jefferson “…admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean. . . .” Booyah. His bold & decisive move shocked and fractured the Barbary states, with Tunis & Algiers breaking away from Tripoli. The lion was out of his cage, and they were gettin’ out of the way! Runnin’ for cover!

There were more battles, more ransom negotiations and more American losses, but President Jefferson was not deterred from his chosen course of action. We fought back. Eventually, Morocco was forced out of the fight. Tripoli was bombarded five times. Order began to be restored to the Mediterranean. In 1805, naval and land forces (boots on the ground?) deployed to Tripoli resulted in cessation of hostilities. The treaty of 1805, however, still required the United States to pay a ransom of $60,000 for each of the sailors still held hostage. It was not officially approved by the Senate until April 1806. But by year’s end, Jefferson was able to declare, “The states on the coast of Barbary seem generally disposed at present to respect our peace and friendship.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it….but neither the piracy, nor the paying of tributes, actually ended there.

~~~

It could have, though.

The conflict leading up to this 1805 treaty contained almost bizarre, way outside-the-box elements that actually, unbelievably, succeeded. “In an historic and unconventional move, Jefferson also sent an odd, obsessed, and self-destructive man to the Mediterranean to lead what amounted to the nation’s first covert operation.(source)  William Eaton, a Revolutionary War veteran and Indian fighter, managed to assemble a ragtag army of roughly 400 mercenaries and disaffected Arab fighters. Along with a small detachment of US Marines, Eaton & his ‘men’ marched about 500 miles across the desert, towards Derna, Tripoli, and the Pasha’s throne. Bloodshed & mutiny abounded en route. Eaton’s scheme has been called ridiculous. But with the support of US Navy gunboats offshore, when a victorious Eaton & his Marines flew the Stars and Stripes at Derna, “it was the first time a U.S. flag had been raised in conquest in a foreign land.”

~~~

This action, and the valor and conduct of the Marines, is forever memorialized in the opening lines of the Marine Corps hymn: “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli.”

~~~

So, what went wrong?

President Jefferson, in what looks to me like a betrayal of Eaton & his men, in order to assure victory one way or another, authorized U.S. diplomat Tobias Lear to negotiate a peace treaty with the pasha of Tripoli, while Eaton was fighting the good fight. So, though William Eaton & his forces actually took Derna, intending to replace the pasha with his pro-America brother Ahmad, it mattered not. The terms of the treaty negated much of Eaton’s victory. There could have possibly been maritime peace, with safe, tribute free travel. So close!  Instead, the piracy continued.

~~~

Ten years later, President James Madison secured a declaration of war from Congress.  American victory, “dictated at the mouths of our cannon” inspired British & Dutch, then later French action against the Barbary pirates. By the spring of 1830, piracy was quashed.

But it took war.

“…to be free and uninsulted [i.e., unattacked], we must let these nations see that we have an energy [willingness to use force], which at present they disbelieve. The low opinion they entertain of our powers cannot fail to involve us soon in a … war.” – George Washington,  (What George Washington Said About ISIS)

No amount of negotiating, diplomacy or funds paid, without physical combat, gained the victory over piracy & terrorism.

It took war.

~~~

 

 

…lest anyone say, But they were pirates, not radical Muslim extremists…

Jefferson & Adams questioned the Tripolitan ambassador as to why his government was so hostile to the new American republic. The ambassador’s answer:

“…that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Hmmm…where have we heard this before?

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The final conclusion drawn in the article from which I’ve gathered most of this information, is this – just as the Barbary pirates did what they said they would, as long as they could get away with it, so will the terrorists of today. It behooves our security & defense forces, our military leaders & our administration in Washington to expect that. And respond accordingly.

And ‘We, the People’ need to realize this, as well.

 

~~~

“Be not intimidated…nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.” – John Adams  (Liberty Tree)

On a final note, I can’t help but catch a glimpse of the Spirit in the above quote from John Adams –

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5: 2)

You may not think there is any connection here of the one to the other. But things have roots. They spring from somewhere or something. Now you see it, but it was once invisible.

“Then said Jesus…if ye continue in my word…ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8: 31, 32)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good, the Bad and the NSA Surveillance Program

When I first heard of Edward Snowden’s leaking of intelligence regarding the surveillance state in America, one of my first thoughts was, you mean people really didn’t already suspect this?

Almost right out of the gate, the term ‘traitor’ showed up…and it has continued to show up.  Mild consternation on my part soon became a ‘considering the possibility’ that Snowden’s actions were not those of a patriot.  Perhaps simply because this seed was planted, I now am more than just considering this view.  Every time I look at this guy, I don’t like the vibe that I am getting.  And I know that, legally, a gut feeling or an impression wouldn’t stand in court.  But for this writer, the jury is already back…

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Debates are proliferating on the rightness and the Constitutionality of this particular NSA surveillance program.  Immediate outcry was heard across the land.  Outrage, or at least righteous indignation made its voice clearly and repeatedly heard.

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My purpose in writing this post is not so much to lay out evidence & opinion, but to point out a particular behavior that seems patriotic but may only muddy the waters.  And result in more damage.  I am not referring just to the actions Edward Snowden took, or the motives that may have led up to it.  I am referring more so to some of our own reactions to the surveillance programs he exposed.

Not only in this case but in so many others, I have often found myself holding back from jumping on everybody’s bandwagon, accusing, declaring vociferously, etc., etc.  Even organizations and journalists/leaders/speakers I support don’t always get my support! A niggling suspicion causes pause.  I wait.  Sometimes I let the issue pass, because I just am not sure.  I don’t know enough.  There is too much to know, in order to know enough.

But some just start shootin’.

During a discussion about the support of the American public for these surveillance programs, General Michael Hayden (former NSA and CIA Director), spoke of an American  tendency “…to rush the story to the darkest corner of the room” , in reporting these kinds of matters.   My thought is, aren’t we always doing this?  Not just in national security & privacy concerns, but in everyday situations as well?   Aren’t we so easily jumping to the worst case scenario, so quick to blame and point fingers?  We, the media, We, the bloggers, We the People!  Maybe not 100% of us, but enough of us to potentially thwart truth.

General Hayden then went into some basic specifics & differences concerning data collection that shined a flashlight into that dark corner.  Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Mike Rogers, both Intelligence Committee Chairs who approved the

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss on Capitol Hill, address NSA collection of Verizon phone records

program, also shed some very rational light on it (‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos’)  

Mention has been made several times of the efficacy of this program in preventing attacks on our homeland.  One in particular has been declassified and is public knowledge: Najibullah Zazi, who plotted and prepared with a number of others to blow up a New York subway, but was surveilled & arrested by the FBI instead.  He pled guilty and is now in federal prison.  “…this was the key piece that allowed us to stop a bombing in the New York Subway system”, points out Congressman Rogers.

Lest someone say, ‘yeah, well that’s just one instance’, it should be known that almost all other instances of plots disrupted & attacks prevented remain classified. The American public has no idea how much good this program has achieved, according to Senator Feinstein.

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Any thinking individual should easily enough see the connection between our national security versus revealing certain intelligence information. Let me underscore that here –

“…if you tell our adversaries and enemies in the counterterrorism fight exactly how we conduct business, they are not going to {conduct} business the same ever again. It makes it more difficult.”  (Congressman Mike Rogers)

“…you give up operational capacity the more these programs are known…what I fear Al Qaeda learns about this program is not what we’re allowed to do, but they learn what we’re not allowed to do… they learn the limits of the program.”  (General Michael Hayden)

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…so I guess my continuing question & thought is, given that we often don’t have all the facts (and may not intend to search any of them out), why the rush to the dark side, wherein blame, accusation & ignorance may flourish?

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“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.”

(Proverbs 25:2)

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Back in the Spotlight: Terrorism

During the first year or two of Jesus, the Revolution & You, my newly developed interests in the founding and governing of America eventually led me into investigations of & research into terrorism. Once began, those ventures took on a sickening life of their own. I wanted to, but could not, stop. I failed to grasp how the American citizenry could not understand the enduring demand of vigilant counter-terrorism efforts, to be maintained at all times. It seemed a basic, grade school level premise that should be obvious but apparently wasn’t – if terrorism is not monitored and resisted, it will re-surface and spread. It doesn’t just go away nicely. And if one dares to learn some of its specifics…believe me, one does not easily forget them and one does understand the imperative of continued defense against such a force.

As time went by, and Americans increasingly wanted out of the Middle East, steps were taken in that direction; our national attention turned more & more to our disastrous economy.

Well, our economy has to be rescued. No doubt about that. Our debt situation is beyond horrendous – from what we are told – and desperately needs our attention. Probably no doubt about that, either. But I often had the quiet, niggling little thought that it was a mistake to allow such silence on matters of homeland security. What once occupied first place seemed to have completely disappeared from national awareness. That concerned me. A few times, it occurred to me to write a piece or two expressing this viewpoint…but perhaps I, too, needed a break from focusing on terror, on radical Islamist activity. So I let it slide. However, I have always believed that reducing our troops as much as we have, or intend to, is a mistake.

Suddenly, the spotlight has swung back onto this ’empty stage’. Some of the previous players are being pulled back onto it. I, for one, am grateful for this renewed focus.

Very recently, a guest on one of the political roundtables expressed the above sentiment concerning troop withdrawals in the Middle East. His words resounded. It was the first time in a while that I’d heard anyone say this. Since then, his opinions, or variations of them, are showing up every time I turn around, and coming from the likes of such heavy hitters as Hillary Clinton and veteran news anchor Ted Koppel. The tragedy of Benghazi, followed by the Algerian hostage crisis, has been a wake-up call.

.Bill Kristol, of The Weekly Standard, calls the President’s intention of getting out of Afghanistan “deeply irresponsible,and adds that we cannot “support counter-terrorism operations, you can’t even support Special Forces or drones with two or three or four thousand troops. They’ll be defending themselves.” He considers such a US military draw down “a very dangerous policy.” (link

Bill Kristol of ‘The Weekly Standard’

Additionally, Kristol points out that American retreat from war zones sends a possible message “around the world…that we are not interested…”  A disturbing result of such a perception was seen in the Algerian hostage crisis, in which the Algerian government launched its own rescue mission – involving the rescue of American citizens – without even contacting our government, without asking for help. This has not been the norm, up until now. It says something. I don’t like the vibe.

Hillary Clinton warns resoundingly of the consequences of American retreat from the Middle Eastern conflict, as well as others, specifying the dangers of extremism taking root and threatening our security. (link)  Senator Kelly Ayotte, a member of the Armed Services Committee, is concerned about this policy resulting in “a situation where the Taliban come back in power, where al Qaeda is again given a launching pad to commit attacks against our country.”  It is hard to believe that any thinking individual has not been concerned about that.

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The impression has previously been given that al Qaeda has been seriously weakened, almost vanquished. During his re-election campaign, President Obama used the word ‘decimated’ in referring to its leadership. I was a bit wary of his declaration. Was this so-called decimation really all that complete? To me, it felt like the President’s statement was missing something. Chris Wallace, host of FOX News Sunday, questioned Obama’s assertion by pointing out that more recently, as Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta stated “Al Qaeda is still there. They are still a threat.” Wallace continued his challenge: “Does the president now recognize that Al Qaeda is not decimated, but is, in fact, resurging in the countries that Leon Panetta talked about? And what is he prepared to do to take them out in Algeria and Libya and across the region?”

Ted Koppel

Ted Koppel labels President Obama’s rhetoric in this area as being one of the biggest mistakes he has made.  Koppel considers the image of  al Qaeda as having been ‘dealt with’ a false one, and that we still have some very real problems here. I have not been up on Capitol Hill. I do not walk the halls of Congress, sit in Senate sessions, nor meet with the President or his staff. I certainly do not know what is really going on in the corridors and chambers of government. But though perhaps not at the forefront, counter-terrorism offensives could not have been at a standstill. Nonetheless, it seems to be time to give them more of a center stage position. Ted Koppel believes America is entering “one of the most dangerous periods this country has ever known.” (link)  The option of focusing our country’s attention & resources primarily on domestic issues – our economy, job growth, immigration, etc. – should not even exist.

Regaining Focus

Unbelievably, once again I find myself sitting in front of my old faithful Compaq Presario, that relic of antiquity that still houses Windows 98 software! And without which, at this point, I would be computer-less…so, no complaints here…! It seems my netbook got infected with a nasty little virus that prevented me from accessing any information through Bing. Supposedly for my ‘security’. Hah. Yeah, right…I will not be forced into using Google, which I suspect may’ve been the motivation here. Attempting a System Restore resulted in a black-out! So, while waiting for a recovery disc to arrive in the mail, I’ve managed to resurrect this baby, and am glad for it!
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Christmas is over now, and I’m starting to feel myself kicking back into gear. Feels good! I have found a renewed focus & commitment. Or maybe it found me…
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“…Jefferson followed the lodestar of freedom.”

(Robert Schmuhl, Introduction, Thomas Jefferson: America’s Philosopher-King)

Be still, my heart!

…something about that phrase…if one was not familiar with who Thomas Jefferson is, an image of someone with his head in the clouds, who is probably no earthly good! might be conjured up. But we know better…

Having recently passed through a sudden & deeply impacting family crisis, as well as having gone through a number of my own personal valleys of darkness, I am finding on the other side flawless clarity of vision. Count it all joy, right?! (James 1:2) (Which, btw, I constantly forget to do…) This morning, re-reading portions of the very books with which I began my glorious venture into the Revolutionary past, I knew certainty. There was no struggle to concentrate, or grasp an idea. I was THERE! More than ever, my heart & mind align with our Founders, and as I’ve always suspected, I am a kindred spirit with Thomas Jefferson. I worship Jesus, am forever in awe of George Washington, but I recognize myself in Jefferson.

I will be reiterating, here & there along the way, sentiments previously expressed in other posts. But they bear repeating.

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I have been horribly able, lately, to imagine being a dhimmi. For those of you who may not be familiar with this term, it is the label applied by Muslim teaching to those who do not believe in their Allah, nor practice Islam. ALL Christians, ALL Jewish believers, and probably most of you reading this, would fall into this category. It is not good, ever, to be living in a state of, or even to merely imagine living in a state of dhimmitude. It is everything that America is not. Living as a dhimmi, in a Muslim society, isn’t just a matter of having a label pinned on you. It is a matter of the loss of your freedom.

As I grow in my knowledge of the ideals of our Founders, I am also growing in a piercing awareness of the preciousness of our liberty. I am aware as well, of the hugeness of my own previous naivete in this matter. Reading ‘The Shack’ (Wm. Paul Young) a month or so ago, I came across the term ‘the wastefulness of grace’, I think it was…God lavishes us with such abundance, in so many ways – we simply aren’t even aware of the worth, the value – because we are so used to having this abundance. It’s a matter of course. We take it for granted. Daily. And I don’t point this out with the intention of provoking guilt. Not at all. But rather to suggest that a deadly result of the constant availability of our American life style fosters the belief that we could not lose it. Ever.

So some of us who need to recognize the signs, don’t.

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Ever since my blog-writing shifted from primarily Washington & Revolutionary War-related topics to more current events, world-related issues, such as the war in Afghanistan and terrorism, I’ve been strongly & inexplicably drawn to, well – terrorist issues. It seems black and horrendous, but nonetheless…piecing together increasing knowledge of facts & new information, working on this puzzle, I am getting a much clearer picture now. I had thought, along the way, that I was unhealthily obsessed. Yet no matter what issues of national/international importance arose, for me, fighting terrorism trumped all. I also had thought, why are so few even mentioning this reality these days? Why are American citizens so resistant to US troops involvement in these Middle East conflicts, when it is in fact this very involvement in these conflicts that will produce the results needed to keep America safe? And, in keeping America safe, we safeguard freedom as well. And not for our nation only, but for the world. How can people not realize this?
During this last Sunday’s airing of ’Meet the Press’, Peggy Noonan, columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Pulitzer Prize winning author & Presidential historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin underscored this very issue. Discussing the projected troops pull-out in Afghanistan with Bob Woodward and Tom Brokaw, host David Gregory raised the concern that ‘we are still fighting an existential threat in Afghanistan’. Ms. Goodwin pointed out that ‘6 out of 10 people don’t think this is a war worth fighting’. Yet, she says“…the threat of al-Qaeda still remains the strongest question.” And somehow, it seems that much of the American public has become oblivious to that fact. Probably because, according to Tom Brokaw, “less than one percent of the country is fighting the war. I mean, and 99 percent of the country nothing is asked of us.” Consequently, it is not discussed. Peggy Noonan expressed amazement that “It’s just accepted as a fact that one doesn’t comment on”, throughout our everyday activities.

We can’t be thinking about, dreading, or living in anxiety over the possibility of a terrorist attack at any moment, every moment! You just can’t live that way, and thank God, at this point, these aren’t our constant physical circumstances. This isn’t Pakistan, or the Gaza strip…it’s still America. But we can’t be forgetting that this possibility does exist. “…it’s an obligation of all of us as well as the political leadership of this country to make sure that it’s on the table, not just in forums like this, but on a, on a regular basis.” states Tom Brokaw.

And while this is not Pakistan or Afghanistan, Mr. Brokaw reminds us, as mentioned earlier, of the ‘existential threat’ nature of this battle. “…it goes beyond the borders of Afghanistan. We’re talking about Islamic rage.”

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I rejoiced to hear these words spoken, for in doing so, they highlighted, as well as confirmed, the priority that terrorism awareness needs to have in our country, but does not. The need for our economic recovery is a sorely pressing one, I know. But if our homeland security is not zealously and ceaselessly guarded, if the invasion of the ideology of radical Islam is not stopped – if the forces that threaten our freedoms are not relentlessly turned back & kept out – having a job will be the least of your worries.
May God continue to bless America, keep her safe, and guide her leaders, present & future, with His perfect wisdom.

It Started Way before 9/11…

In the days following September 11, 2001, I heard something like this from the Lord : that He took no pleasure in that horrendous, vicious wounding of our nation. While many who stood behind pulpits, or listened from pews in front of them, preached judgment on America for her sins, I heard something else. I heard that a silent poison had been spreading, and was far more advanced than we knew. Stopping its spread required perseverance and a ’never forget’ mentality, and these in turn required such a wounding as the catastrophic tragedy that took place in New York city that morning. A lesser event could fade from memory, and not elicit the sustained vigilance necessary to combat terrorism and preserve our land.

This was how I understood what I believed was shared with me that day.

Today, I understand more. I understand the poison that had been spreading was, and is, something other than ‘terrorism’, in the sense that we, as ’Westerners’ know it. It is what produces that terrorism – an ideology that has been at work in our world for centuries. I would go so far as to say, it goes back to Biblical times, to Old Testament Israel, even to the Genesis creation accounts. It is, at root, the eternal conflict between the Most High and the one who presumed to say, “I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14) And, in fact, its origins may be even deeper than this, in a sense – the boiled-down conflict is between law and grace.

While the Adversary desires to enslave, He who alone is God wants to set us free.

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I cannot emphasize enough how much Jesus came to set men free. I am so very, very clear on that. He knows the end from the beginning, and most certainly, looking down the corridors of time in ages past, saw the condition of our world today. The Ancient of Days knew. By His blood, in the New Covenant, He provided miraculously, fully and finally, for this condition which exists in man, and through man, produces chaos in the environment. (Even trying to reverse this chaos often only exacerbates it!) Man’s finest yet remains flawed, but a better Way has been given to us.

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