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Summary: ...a message delivered the weekend after the commencement of the war with Iraq.

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"Three Things for Christians to Consider in a Time of War"

(a message delivered by Pastor Don Smith on the weekend after the beginning of the war on Iraq.)

In any time of uncertainty, confusion and distress, it is appropriate to have a compass that will bring us back to the foundation of who we are and whose we are. That compass can be found in God’s Word, and a psalm that has brought comfort and perspective for over 3000 years is the 46th…

"Psalm 46"

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8 Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields [2] with fire. 10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

I waited as long as possible to compose this message - - part of that was because appropriate words are difficult to come by in times like these, and another part of me was hoping that before the decapitation strike or before the “shock and awe” strike and certainly after the amazing display of force upon the Iraqi regime, that there would be a surrender - - that Saddam Hussein would capitulate to the demands, live up to these promises and surrender himself and all of the destructive weapons he claims not to have. But he has not and he probably will not, and the world is a divided place over what should and shouldn’t be done about it.

As evidenced by the tens of thousands of people marching the streets of New York today, our country is not in unanimous support of the decision to go to war. The Saudi’s don’t like it, nor do the Russians or the Germans. And then there’s the French - - Regis Philbin (please note….your pastor DOES NOT watch Regis!) this week commented, “The only time the French want war is when the German army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee.” And so we’ve re-named French fries and toast to “freedom fries” and freedom toast” and the world continues to be in conflict about this conflict.

To be sure, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement in the 1700’s in England, had some definite opinions about the concept of war. He once wrote, “War is a horrid reproach to the Christian name – yea, to the name of man, to all reason and humanity. When war breaks out, God is forgotten, and so long as this monster stalks uncontrolled, where are reason, virtue and humanity? They are utterly excluded.”

Lest we criticize Wesley for what may seem to be his naiveté, we should remember that Wesley lived in a world where Hitler had not yet lived and Wesley does not live in a world where, now, psychopathic dictators such as Saddam have weapons and technology available to destroy innocents by the thousands. What would Wesley say now? Would war have been a lesser of evils - - something tragic, yet at times necessary?

To be sure, I will always give humanity the benefit of the doubt and will encourage exhaustive diplomacy over bombs any day. Could we have negotiated more? - - certainly. Would it have changed anything? I don’t think so. It is impossible to reason with an unreasonable person….

And so we are a world at war today. That is the reality. And though any reasonable human being should hate the idea of war, I think that we know that through the course of history, war will be regrettably necessary.

So today’s message isn’t about defending or attacking the decision to go to war. Besides, no one from Washington called me this week to ask my opinion about all of this anyway and no one will be calling tomorrow. The decision has been made. We are at war.

What should Christians consider now that we are at war? After all, we should be theologians before we try to be politicians. Our task, after all, is to see everything - - every circumstance and every event in history, from the perspective of God.

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