Monday, November 30, 2015

What If ..... Imagine.....

What If….
Russia, America, Israel, Iran, Syria, et al., Are Playing a Game?
By Pastor Ed Evans

          During the 1980s, there was a very popular movie titled “War Games.”  A very young Matthew Broderick played the part of a computer-savvy youngster who hacked into a Pentagon computer that played war games for the military Joint Chiefs of Staff and strategic planners in the war room.  But when young Matthew, as part of the “game”, opted to launch a nuclear attack, the robot computer really launched a flight of nuclear missiles at Russian targets.  And neither Matthew nor the Generals could shut them down.  But before it reached that point, again and again, the robot computer would offer, “Do you want to play a game?”
          The only fail-safe was to opt out of the game before the final decisive directive was reached.
          So, if for the sake of argument, we entertain the computer’s enticing “Do you want to play a game?” there is just one more element from the past that we need in place.  It comes from nine years earlier.
          On September 9, 1971, Apple Records released Beatle John Lennon’s second studio album, “Imagine”.  Destined to become a blockbuster hit, the song begins with “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try … No hell below us … Above us only sky … Imagine all the people living for today...”  Indeed, how hard would it be to “imagine no possessions” when your personal worth is half a billion dollars, as was his.  Yet, there are similarities between the imagination of John Lennon and the Pentagon/political planners.
          I have to wonder, would we be justified in calling John Lennon a “seer”, a modern day Nostradamus, if we suggest the song “Imagine” carries with it some strangely predictive description of today’s American political leadership?  After all, Nostradamus, the French prophet and occultic seer who died in 1566, did predict rising wars in the Middle East that would lead to a 27-year World War III.  In fact, among his top ten predictions for the year 2016 are that Barak Obama will be America’s last President, there will be unusual weather patterns, attacks on Israel that will bring the West to its defense, and the melting of the North and South Poles.
          Does the American political leadership follow the prophecies of Nostradamus?  Are they aware of his predictions for 2016?  Some people assiduously avoid reading their own horoscopes because they feel the predictions may influence their behavior.  What about America’s military leadership in the Pentagon, the DoD?  What about America’s political “royalty”?
          So okay, maybe John Lennon could take on minor Nostradamus status, but let’s get back to the enticement, “Do you want to play a game?”  What if our elected and appointed leadership is, after all, just playing a game.  Then the real issue might be who makes the rules?  Who enforces the rules?  What are the rules, or more to the point, are there any rules?
          Let us, with John Lennon, imagine there is a quasi “game” underway, imagine that there are no unplanned consequences that blind-sided the players, and that they know exactly what they are doing.  But don’t lose track of that fateful “computer” in the background, operating under its own principles, qualifications, and planned goals.  And therein lies the real danger, that the players believe they are in control, allowing untoward events to proceed, certain they can “shut them down” whenever they wish.
          Imagine that the Generals and Admirals of the Pentagon, and the politicians of the White House, did know all along that attempting to de-throne King Assad of Syria, one of Russia’s prime consumers and petroleum traders, would push Russia to protect its interests with boots on the ground and aerial support.
          Imagine they also knew and foresaw that attempting to please and play ball with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are the religious enemies of not only America, but of each other, would be to light a match in a gas-filled room.
          Imagine they knew that after deliberately and overtly disrupting Russian military dominance in Afghanistan, this would bring Russia anxiously to the war table to do exactly the same thing to American forces in Afghanistan through local tribes.
          Imagine also that they knew by training and arming Afghanistan Islamic fighters with western tactics and armament that those fighters would view the American forces as much the invaders as the Russians and build up a fledging al Qaeda army into a formidable ISIS juggernaut.
          Imagine these American planners, military and political, knew ahead of time that by promoting sanctuary in Iraq to the political free radicals from Turkey known as the Kurds would anger the Turks and lead them to attack those same Kurds and their mobile government in northern Iraq. 
          Imagine they knew this apparent “betrayal” of Turkish sovereignty would drive the nation to support an Islamic leader who would pit Turkey’s future against Christian America and its allies.
          Imagine they knew any nuclear treaty with Iran which gives Iran the control and flexibility of the current agreement, would further endanger not only Israel, but American allies in the Middle East and European region, and, because of new and far-reaching missiles, American interests, as well.
          Imagine they knew the complex crossing of the lines of historical and political allegiances, as well as tribal, familial and religious allegiances, would eventually lead Turkey to shoot down a Russian war plane over Syria, moving the Russian Bear’s paw that much closer to the nuclear button.
          And now, imagine they knew that historic trade agreements between China and Qatar would lead the Chinese to maneuver themselves into establishing bases of operations on the Mediterranean Sea such as Camp al-Sayliyah and al-Udeid Air Base.  One more match poised to ignite a gas-filled room.
          Finally, imagine they knew that those countries with warships on the Mediterranean, such as Russia, China, and Iran could care less about the American fleet there because they know from inactions they have already observed, that the Americans will not back up their threats with anything beyond trade embargoes.
          “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try … No hell below us … Above us only sky … Imagine all the people living for today...” 
          Living for today begins to sound attractive, for tomorrow appears to be very tenuous, to say the least.  And certainly no tomorrow of which anyone in the West would dream.
          So the question must be asked.  If, as they claim, our American military and political planners knew, and know, what they are doing, in whose interest are they operating?  It seems clear none of these accomplishments are in the best interest of the people of the United States, and most not in the best interests of America’s allies.  It appears America’s traditional rejection of the military coup as a check against political chicanery and unrestrained agendas has not served the best interests of the American people.  Political correctness and personal aggrandizement by this nation’s leadership have run wild in America, damaging this nation’s economy, its standing in the world, and thereby its ability to be a helping hand to the world’s “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
          We must find a way to right the wrongs we have allowed to hobble and fragment this nation, to make us vulnerable to our enemies, to obstruct the future this world needs America to live out.  It begins in each home with a solid set of morals and ethics, with not accepting anything less. 
          It starts with me.  It starts with you.  Let us, individually and together, hold high the banner of what America is all about, refusing to allow our local, state and national leadership to accept less, to agree to less -- freedom, liberty, and justice: “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  Integrity, truth and public trust matter.
          The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promotes a program of public awareness with the slogan “If you see something, say something.”  It’s borrowed from the World War II era, but a Gallup poll two years ago found that less than 50% of Americans were aware of the program begun in 2011.
          Nevertheless, it’s a good idea and should be in effect beyond the need to report terrorism or suspicious activity.  It should apply everywhere the high water marks of ethics and morality apply.  And when you see something that is wrong, ethically or morally, you need to immediately notify your Congressman and Senator.  Contact your local city representative, your Mayor and your Governor.  Let them know how you feel about specific violations of ethics and morality locally, statewide, and nationally. 
          In the eyes of the world, America is always in the spotlight.  Our historic beginning as a nation of Christian ethics and morals will always be challenged by those who don’t feel we are living up to our own limits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, three examples of the “unalienable rights” the American Declaration of Independence says has been given to all human beings by their Creator, and for which governments are created to protect.  Even some Americans who don’t understand our history foolishly challenge it.
          However, they are your rights.  Don’t give them up without a fight for their existence.

          This is no game.  But if it were, you have already been declared a winner.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

No Room in Love for Fear

By Pastor Ed Evans

“There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love.” – 1st John 4:18 (Message)
For the past weeks and months Americans have been treated to the fearful actions of Islamic extremists who think nothing of slaughtering people, even blowing themselves up if they can take innocents into death with them.
Over the past week the news has been filled with the recounting of Muslim jihad slaughter of French people, deadly raids and hostage situations, French bombing runs against the ISIS enemy forces, violent incidents in England, Africa, and Belgium, as well as in Syria.
Even as this is happening, with blood yet running in the streets, the President of the United States boasts he will bring thousands more Muslims into America as refugees. There are already thousands of Muslims in America, some in business, some in training camps across the U.S., some in prison for incidents of jihad violence. This has led the American people to proclaim loudly that they wish no more Muslim refugees right now. They have proclaimed that desire to the news media, to their State Governors, Congressmen, their Senators, and the President.
Still, President Obama proclaims the FBI and DHS vetting of refugees will protect the American people. Even as he does, the Director of the FBI and a member of the Senate Commission on Homeland Security admit they cannot adequately vet that number of foreign immigrants as quickly as the President wants them moved into states across the U.S.
As of this date, 27 State Governors have said they will refuse to allow Syrian refugees to settle in their states, citing the necessity to protect the people of their state. These refusals come even after the Supreme Court has said only the President has the authority to refuse refugees, and only he can say where they will and will not be resettled. The 27 Governors, who control the funding to support such resettlements, continue their refusal. Congress has also passed a bill defunding any Syrian refugee program, in response to a week of vociferous contact by their constituents.
The President’s unkind response was to belittle the American people, speaking fro the Philippines, for being afraid of “widows and orphans.” However, it has not been lost on the American people that nearly all the photos of crowds of Syrian refugees are of men who are of military age, with no “widows and orphans” in sight.
I think it is obvious that much of this refusal, by the people of America, by their Governors, Congressmen and Senators, is driven by the continuing Muslim violence in Europe, and the many individual instances right here in the United States. At its core, it is cold, hard, fear.
There is an old saying many of us probably remember from our high school sports days, that says when things get tough, the tough get going. Our football coaches used it on the playing field, and over time, it became useful in other areas of our life. “When things get tough, the tough get going.” Basically, when the situation facing us becomes difficult, that’s when the strong, the hard, the determined knuckle down and come up with solutions to the problem. That old saying has been attributed to Joseph P. Kennedy, father of President John Kennedy, and to football coach Knute Rockne.
Whoever said it first, it is still the best way out of difficult problems. Sitting around moaning about our circumstances, becoming emotional over them, closing our eyes and pretending nothing has gone wrong – all useless reactions. But this is what we see much of the world doing, plus looking for others to blame, others upon whom we can wreak our vengeance for our mistakes in not stopping it sooner.
For the Christian, for those whose worship and faith are grounded in the Living God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, none of that is necessary. Believers in Jesus Christ actually do live in a different, an altered if you will, world. Psalm 20:7 tells us, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." The American military is the best-trained, the best-equipped, with an ability and a prowess that is respected all over the world. It is often said, “The enemy knows our name.” They watch for our mistakes, our weaknesses, to exploit them to their advantage. But especially in this case, it is not America’s military prowess and ability that will make the difference. Our enemies are the enemy of God. This is His war. He will win it His way.
And what should His children be doing in the meantime? We should be remembering 1st John 4:18 – and the Message version says it best -- standing strong in His Word, without fear, acting in love. “There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love.”
In every circumstance during this difficult period before us, remember love, without fear. Stand in His love, plan in His love, act in His love. Then, be still and know that He is God, and watch Him work. Amen.