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Insurgency! (11.08.05--Christian Soldiers!--Revelations 12:7)
What war? That was the response that I got from a friend recently when I referred to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a war. I looked at him and asked: “How would you define a war?” His response? “A war is when freedom is at stake and our well-being as a nation is challenged. I don’t see how anyone could define what is happening in Iraq in these terms!”
Because Pearl Harbor had not been bombed by the Japanese or the Lusitania had not been sunk by the Germans, my friend simply could not equate the events in the Middle East with his understanding of what war is. Even though the Twin Towers had been attacked and thousands more had died than on the Lusitania or at Pearl Harbor, the fact that it was not a “definable” enemy made all the difference in the world to him. If he couldn’t put the face of a nation on the face of an enemy, he could not equate the struggle against international terrorism as a legitimate war.
But, what about the battle against Satan and his minions? Do Christians take a similar viewpoint on who is the enemy and who is not when it comes to the war against God and His people here on earth?
In his book which provides a statistical analysis of religious beliefs in America, George Barna cites several fascinating statistics which are based on a national survey. In chapter four he states, “The Devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” Then asking that segment of his survey respondents who have identified themselves at being Christians, he states, “Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with that statement?” The population reply with 32 percent agreeing strongly, 11 percent agreeing somewhat and 5 percent did not know. Thus, of the total number responding, 48 percent either agreed that Satan is only symbolic or did not know! (What Americans Believe, pp. 206-212).
What a shame that so many Christians aren’t able to put a face on the enemy when it comes to the most crucial and fearsome battle ever fought on the face of this earth--the war against God. Declared long ago when he was thrown from heaven, Satan has been waging an all-out battle against God since the beginning of time. Although Christ crushed Satan on Calvary, he is still a dangerous foe. Like the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, He lurks waiting to bring his brand of terrorism to bear against any unsuspecting Christian unwilling or unable to see his face as that of the enemy. Now is not the time to drop the shield and sword. The Devil is for real and his war against you and I will not end until Jesus returns. Until that time it is our responsibility to know who the foe is, believe that he is powerful, and join actively in the fight.
THE JEWELED LADY OF POMPEII
Of the 20,000 inhabitants of Pompeii, some 2,000 lost their lives, among them a woman who loved finery above all else. As the deadly rain of fire came down, she decided to run to the harbor and escape by ship. That was wise, but this rich and beautiful woman stayed behind just long enough to collect as much jewelry as she could carry. Snatching up her rings, she hastily thrust them on her fingers. There was no time to hunt for a box or a bag in which to cram her ornaments, so she picked up as many as she could hold, and rushed into the street, clutching her pearls and diamonds, her rubies and sapphires, her gold brooches and her earrings--a wealth of finery that would be placed at thousands of dollars today.
But she delayed too long. The poisonous fumes overcame her as she ran; and with all her trinkets she stumbled, fell, and died, clutching the things she prized so much.
There, under the ashes of Pompeii she lay; and when the excavators found her, she was still lovely, and her hands were still laden with jewels.
— Prairie Overcomer, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations
ILL. Listen to this true story. Rabbi Michael Weisser lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. And for more than 3 years, Larry Trapp, a self-proclaimed Nazi & Ku Klux Klansman, directed a torrent of hate-filled mailings & phone calls toward him.
Trapp promoted white supremacy, anti-Semitism, & other messages of prejudice, declaring his apartment the KKK state headquarters & himself the grand dragon. His whole purpose in life seemed to be to spew out hate-ridden racial slurs & obscene remarks against Weisser & all those like him.
At first, the Weissers were so afraid they locked their doors & worried themselves almost sick over the safety of their family. But one day Rabbi Weisser found out that Trapp was a 42-year-old clinically blind, double amputee. And he became convinced that Trapp’s own physical helplessness was a source of the bitterness he expressed.
So Rabbi Weisser decided to do the unexpected. He left a message on Trapp’s answering machine, telling him of another side of life…a life free of hatred & racism.
Rabbi Weisser said, "I probably called 10 times & left messages before he finally picked up the phone & asked me why I was harassing him. I said that I’d like to help him. I offered him a ride to the grocery store or to the mall."
Trapp was stunned. Disarmed by the kindness & courtesy, he started thinking. He later admitted, through tears, that he heard in the rabbi’s voice, "something I hadn’t experienced in years. It was love."
Slowly the bitter man began to soften. One night he called the Weissers & said he wanted out, but didn’t know how. They grabbed a bucket of fried chicken & took him dinner. Before long they made a trade: in return for their love he gave them his swastika rings, hate tracts, & Klan robes.
That same day Trapp gave up his Ku Klux Klan recruiting job & dumped the rest of his propaganda in the trash. "They showed me so much love that I couldn’t help but love them back," he finally confessed.
Folks, if that could happen in Lincoln, Nebraska, what could happen here in our community, in our neighborhoods, if we truly began to live lives that showed the love of Jesus to those around us?
THANKFULNESS OR FORGETFULNESS
"History knows no disasters," said the Literary Digest (Sept. 1923), "which parallels the earthquake and fire that visited Japan this month and laid waste the capital city and the chief seaport."
The New York Tribune called this earthquake “undoubtedly the greatest disaster in recorded time.” The New York Times described the havoc as covering about 45,000 square miles which contained five big cities and a population of 7,000,000. Other dispatches reported that virtually every building in Yokohama was destroyed. Perhaps three-fourths of Tokyo was burned and the entire city with its 5,000,000 inhabitants was shattered by the earthquake.
A joint survey made by Herbert Hoover and the Red Cross estimated the dead at almost 300,000 with 2,500,000 people homeless. Disease and despair rode throughout the island empire.
Then help came! Help from America for helpless Japan! Food, clothing, medical supplies, and volunteer workers came by the shipload. The American Red Cross collected ten million dollars from people of the United States for the suffering and homeless Nipponese.
Those who lived through the awful earth tremors, the gigantic waves, and the tongues of fire must perish, it seemed, from starvation or disease. But they didn’t. Why? Because America remembered—remembered their need, their suffering, their hunger.
The Nipponese were grateful. They even put their appreciation in writing. Walter Kiernan, correspondent for the International News Service, recalls their words: “Japan will never forget!”
But Japan did forget! American ships of mercy were forgotten, and the Rising Sun sent planes of dest...
In most any movie everyone has his or her favorite part. Pearl Harbor was no exception. To me it was rather obvious that the writers wanted our favorite part to be towards the end when the two heroes of the movie, played by Ben Afleck and Josh Harnett, are involved in the American retaliation with a bombing run over Tokyo. It was a moment when the good guys strike back.
While that part of the movie was good, it was not my favorite part. The part I liked best was not particularly entertaining, but it really spoke to me. Being a former Navy guy that spent several years aboard ship, the bombs landing on all of the ships with all of the loss of life and damage was very powerful. It hit close to home. Then, in the middle of all of this carnage is a priest, standing in waist deep water with dead bodies floating all around him. He was pronouncing last rites on the dead. Then this voice in the background says three words. If you weren't paying attention it would be very easy to miss, "Where was God?"
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, 350 Japanese war planes bombed Pearl Harbor. 18 battle ships were sunk or destroyed. 200 airplanes were put out of commission. 3, 581 servicemen were either killed or wounded.
Thus America’s war cry as she entered World War II was this motto: “Remember Pearl Harbor”.
At the Lord’s table today, we too have a battle cry and it is: “Remember Jesus Christ.”
Until TuesdaySeptember 11th, the bloodiest day in U.S. history was Sept. 17, 1862, when about 4,700 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the Civil War battle of Antietam. Pearl Harbor killed 2,388 Americans, and the first day of the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944, killed 1,465.
The attack [of Pearl Harbor] took place [December 7, 1941] on a sunny Sunday morning. A minimal contingent of soldiers was on duty at the time. Most offices on the base were closed and many servicemen were on leave for the weekend. New technology, including the new radar mounted on Opana Point, were in place, manned and functioning at the time of the attack. The incoming Japanese attack planes were detected by the radar and reported, but were mistaken for an incoming group of American planes due from the mainland that morning. While on practice maneuvers outside the harbor that morning, an American destroyer spotted a Japanese submarine attempting to sneak into the harbor. The submarine was fired upon, immediately reported — and ignored.
Despite these and many other warnings, Pearl Harbor face...
We have an example of the principle of "headship" in the recent tragedy involving the U.S. submarine Greeneville, which a few months ago surfaced suddenly underneath a Japanese fishing trawler off Pearl Harbor, sinking it and killing nine people. Since then, the skipper of the sub, commander Scott Waddle, has narrowly avoided a court-martial, and he is now resigning from the Navy, his promising career ruined. Why is that? Did he personally operate the controls that caused the sub to surface? No. Was he the sonar operator who was supposed to be monitoring the vessels in the area to make sure that none were too close? No. And what about the civilians on board? Weren’t they interfering with the activities of the crew? Quite possibly. But Scott Waddle was the skipper of that sub; he was in charge, and so it was his responsibility to make sure that the submarine was operating in a safe manner. The buck stopped with him. Men, in our marriages the buck stops with us. We are responsible before God.
(For PowerPoint accompanying this sermon, see www.westshorecc.org/messages.htm)
Going down the highway a bumper sticker was observed that said, "I’m a Pearl Harbor survivor." The unique thing about this bumper sticker was that is was on the back of a Toyota truck. That driver had obviously lived through and moved beyond some difficult times.