Reflections on the Afghanistan War

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I still remember the vivid emotions I felt leaving a church service in 2001, when I heard the United States invaded Afghanistan.  An alarmed friend asked out loud, “What does this mean?”  Her husband soberly responded, “We are at war, honey.”   In that moment, I felt like life as I knew it would permanently change.  But, it did not.

For the last 16 years our soldiers have died in Afghanistan (and Iraq), and my life has proceeded in comfort.  During the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, I do not remember meaningful public discussion on the validity of fighting a two-front war overseas while so many were hurting domestically.

Barak Obama campaigned on the position of pulling out of Afghanistan. Donald Trump was more ambiguous on his plans, but there was hope that he would end our longest war (and he may still). I believe both wanted to end the war, but obviously there is more information received as president that changed both of their intentions.  We discovered on August 21, 2017, that the Afghanistan War will continue with a new strategy.

With my limited knowledge in this area, I have concluded a few things:

  • This war has been so long because the average American does not feel the impact of the war on their lifestyle.
  • When a nation topples a government, that country must be prepared to keep military personal their 100 years. That is something to consider before the next military invasion to uproot a government. This is a concern for Iran, North Korea and Syria. Yet, the United States and allies may have no other choice when it comes to those troubled regimes.
  • For democracy to succeed, a revolution of values has to occur in people’s hearts. We cannot export our values as easily as we had hoped after the Cold War ended. It may take many decades for an idea to germinate in a culture before a people group rises up in defiance for lasting change. It is not enough to win freedom; it is a continual struggle to maintain freedom.  The United State has 241 years of history that proves this struggle is necessary.
  • The fallen soldiers and disabled veterans, and their families, deserve for the Afghanistan War to reach resolution.

My prayer is for our soldiers to come home soon, and for Afghanistan to thrive as a place of freedom and security. I do not know if both are possible, so I will support my country in the path it chooses militarily, as much as my conscious allows me to.

Though good men and women participate in them, war is a manifestation of evil.  Through the future rule of Jesus, there will come a day when all war ends!  Praise be to His name!

Pray for College Freshman

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A coming of age for me as a pastor happened Sunday when I said goodbye to several students who were leaving town for college. There are still a few more goodbyes ahead of me this week. I have been at CIL 9.5 years now, so it was both sobering and fulfilling to see these children become adults.

They were my friend’s children, who became my friends – and so they always will be.

Pray for all of our college freshman.  The first few days at a new college or a new season at home is crucial for a college-age student’s relational and spiritual success.

Prayer is a form of mentoring.

Charlottesville calls us to better angels

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Despite the evil in Charlottesville on August 11-12, I believe that most Americans are united in love and respect. My heart breaks for the loss of life, the visible hatred, and the hurtful visuals of protest that have stirred valid emotional pain.
 
The key to being a united nation is to love and respect everyone, every day.
 
Abraham Lincoln spoke elegant words we need to meditate on in his inauguration speech of 1861:
 
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection … The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
 
With God’s help, let us appeal to the better angels of our nature.

The Victorious Limp

1024x768-0006Years ago I concluded, I never trust a person who doesn’t have a spiritual limp.  You know the type.  The person who never admits a spiritual setback or struggle.

While Christians are called to pursue holiness, that does not make us immune from setbacks or struggles.  In fact, God is in the struggle!  As I spoke on Sunday (August 13) on Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32:22-31), it reminded me that God is in the struggles we encounter.  Often, He is the struggle. God can be hard to understand, and sometimes we do not even agree with Him. Yet, He loves us, and we can love Him, in the midst of the struggle.

So, if you are struggling with your faith, don’t despair.  Do not give up.  Keep wrestling with God.  Like Jacob, you may have a limp after the struggle, but it is a victorious limp.

Pray for the North Korea situation

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The United States and the free world face a grim responsibility to keep the world safe from the unstable North Korea. I am deeply concerned for our military and our South Korean friends.

We need a miracle! Pray for wisdom, protection and resolution to this international crisis. An unbearable multitude of lives will perish if there is not a turning. We need the help of the LORD!

I look forward to the day when . . .

“… they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore (Isaiah 2:4).”