Where There is No Will There is No Way

by Tom Bean
Originally posted on July 10, 2007

If it is true that where there is a will there is a way the opposite must also be true. Where there is no will there is no way… and that is where we are in America concerning Iraq. We are a people who have lost the will to fight and the courage to win.

This week, the Democrat controlled Senate will begin a new onslaught of defunding tactics designed to force an end to the Iraqi people's hope for a democratically controlled Iraq. Emboldened and strengthened by key Republican defections in the Senate, the Democrats may have their way. If they do we can be sure we will see an escalation of terrorist violence as Al Qaeda will interpret our withdrawal from Iraq as a sure sign of weakness. The difference between this onslaught and the last is the previously mentioned defection of a group of key Republican Senators; politicians who have joined the growing chorus of visionless leaders who use the phrase "redeployment of troops" when they actually mean retreat.

All of this is taking place in the face of incontrovertible evidence of Al Qaeda's presence and determination in Iraq. The tape released last week by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second in command, was filled as usual with hate-filled, inflammatory rhetoric against Israel and the United States. In the tape, al-Zawahiri encouraged Al Qaeda fighters in Iraq to remain unified in their struggle against America and its allies. It is incredible to me to that the leader of our enemies in the war on terror understands the importance of unity and we don't seem to have a clue. This week, four more Republican Senators, (Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, and Susan Collins of Maine) indicated they are willing to bail on Iraq presumably leaving the country to fend for itself. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer (NY) gleefully predicted on Sunday's Face the Nation that "the dam is about to burst" for Republicans on Iraq. How ironic that while the leaders of our enemies call for and in fact touts their unity, the leaders of the free world are in freefall over Iraq.

The Left in this country continues to scoff at the idea of Al Qaeda in Iraq. They claim the United States military are merely caught between warring Sunni and Shea factions who have been fighting for over a thousand years. The war in Iraq is a civil war they say, and they point to a lack of evidence of Al Qaeda fighters in the country.

How about this for evidence... just recently U.S. forces captured Mohammed Khalaf, the leader of the Mosul branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Last week, Spanish authorities arrested 11 people who have been charged with recruiting for Al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda fighters are being captured or killed in a daily basis as the full force of the U.S. military surge goes into effect. At least one of the doctors involved in the attempted terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow has been linked to a suspected terrorist training camp in Iraq.

But these inconvenient truths do not fulfill the political strategy of some Leftists who are bent on the destruction of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party. They would rather turn a blind eye to the facts in Iraq in order to gain a political advantage rather than facing up to the truth for the sake of our future security. The Left can't afford to be wrong about Iraq. If the President's policy were to see any measure of success (or simply get credit for the success that is occurring) they would lose their political advantage in the next election.

Some members of Congress say the best way to end the war in Iraq is to "sit down and talk" with our enemies. To gage the wisdom of that strategy all you have to do is read the words of Al-Zawahiri from the transcript of the latest terrorist tape. Speaking of the call by the United States to engage moderate Muslims in a dialogue on Iraq Al-Zawahiri said, "The removal of the Crusader Jewish invaders won't occur by peaceful demonstrations." He went on to say, "Reform and expelling the invaders from the countries of Islam won't happen except through fighting for God's sake." Our elected leaders need to wake up and realize we are not fighting against rational people who want to find a peaceful solution in Iraq. We are fighting against radical, Muslim extremist who have high jacked Islam, turned it into an ideology of death and destruction, and who want the same "final solution" Hitler sought for the Jews.

I fear we are on the verge of suffering a shattering defeat in Iraq. If defeat comes, it will not come because our military leaders are incapable of leading us to victory. It will not come because those who fight in the field are incapable of bringing about that victory. If our defeat comes, it will come because we have forgotten that the only way darkness can overcome the light is if the light refuses to shine. It will come because we have lost our will…. and without the will to win we will surely lose our way.

"I fear we are on the verge of suffering a shattering defeat in Iraq." -Tom Bean

Like the many statements and rhetoric concerning the current status and situation of the nation of Iraq, this too is expressing frustration and disappointment. Most of us may feel the same way because we only see and measure the obvious tangible aspects of things.

Consider the account of the prophet Habakkuk, as recorded in his book, where he complained to God about the condition of his nation during his time:

"Yahweh, how long will I cry, and you will not hear? I cry out to you 'Violence!' and will you not save? Why do you show me iniquity, and look at perversity? For destruction and violence are before me. There is strife, and contention rises up. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth; for the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice goes forth perverted." (Habakkuk 1:2-4)

Can you see the prophet's deep frustration and disappointment to God's seeming inaction regarding the unrighteousness and the wickedness of the people? But listen to God's answer about Habakkuk's provocative prayer:

"Look among the nations, watch, and wonder marvelously; for I am working a work in your days, which you will not believe though it is told you. For, behold, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, that march through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are feared and dreaded. Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves. Their horses also are swifter than leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves. Their horsemen press proudly on. Yes, their horsemen come from afar. They fly as an eagle that hurries to devour. All of them come for violence. Their hordes face the desert. He gathers prisoners like sand. Yes, he scoffs at kings, and princes are a derision to him. He laughs at every stronghold, for he builds up an earthen ramp, and takes it. Then he sweeps by like the wind, and goes on. He is indeed guilty, whose strength is his god." (Habakkuk 1:5-11)

What a shocking revelation this is for the prophet! All along this is not exactly what he thought God had planned to do. Observe Habakkuk's reaction in the following verses:

"Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, you have ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, you have established them for correction. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity: wherefore look upon them that deal treacherously, and hold your tongue when the wicked devours the man that is more righteous than he? And make men as the fish of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?" (Habakkuk 1:12-17)

Now, are God's higher ways of doing things obvious? Surely not. As He declared in Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

What prophet Habakkuk thought of doing justice was to destroy or punish only those who are unrighteous and wicked people of his nation and leave the righteous ones free from suffering. But God had already done this over and over in the past, yet many of the people still returned to unrighteousness and wickedness, thus God decided to put the entire nation into a higher level of chastening. When you read the whole book of Habakkuk, you will know that indeed the wicked ones were destroyed as what Habakkuk would like to happen, but aside from that, the righteous ones also experienced a great chastening in a foreign land as slaves of a people who worship not the true God. And after so many years in a foreign land, they realized their sin and repented and humbled themselves before the true God and emerged from their chastening with a renewed reverence and deep longing for their God and their homeland.

In Iraq, besides violence and so many sufferings, what things not obvious can you notice that are also happening? Are we limited only to what we set as clear benchmarks? Is God still in control? How will you consider the answers to the following questions?

So far, how much is this war costing the "invading coalition", and what are the effects on them?
So far, how much is this war costing the "opposing coalition", and what are the effects on them?
So far, how much is this war costing the Iraqi people, and what are the effects on them?

What are the strengths and weaknesses exposed by this war (especially on the spiritual aspects of the nations)?

Look among the nations, so far what are the effects of this war that are not apparent? Can it be made to cease by one coalition's withdrawal of forces? Can it be won? Who will win? How long will it take?

Nations suffer when God's protective grace works chastening because of sin brought about by overwhelming unrighteousness and wickedness of its people. Consider the following verses:

Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34). God doesn't show favoritism; but in every nation who fears Him and works righteousness is acceptable to Him (Acts 10:34-35). But the wicked are like the troubled sea; for it can't rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked (Isaiah 57:20-21).

If there is a will, there is a way. But what will, and what way? Whose will, and whose way? Is it not supposed to be God's will and His way? If so, what are we supposed to do then? We who claim to believe in God, do we claim also to be doing something? Look around your immediate surrounding; is there something you observe that God might want you to act upon? God desires righteousness; are we indifferent about it? Are we really praying for our respective nations and for the nations of the world? What do we pray about it? To an ordinary citizen of this world, you can do nothing more that will bring positive results about the situation in the Middle East than to pray. If you truly love God you are highly expected to be a maker of positive difference to the world. Listen to the following verse:

And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47-48)

Things in Iraq may seem to look like a structure of cards but in time the world will see how God will turn it into a tower of solid bricks. God had reserved many leaders; for it will take leaders upon leaders to build it. Every leader is given just enough amount of burden in his own appointed season. Therefore, a leader should not take up other burdens that the Lord had assigned for other leaders to accomplish. Let him focus only to what the Lord has tasked him to do. Let him prepare the things that the next leader will need to accomplish his own tasks. Consider and learn how king David prepared the things that his son Solomon will need in building the Lord's temple.

With a new leadership, will the league of nations continue to be a fence sitter?


How Free Is Free?

by Charles F. Stanley

What does it mean that Christ died to set you free? Do you ever feel like one of the least-free people in the world? Do you find yourself working to gain God’s acceptance, trapped by your own expectations of how religious you should be? All too often, believers feel compelled to serve God in order to earn His love and favor.

Often this is the result of a theological error they have been taught since childhood. “You better be good or else.” On other occasions it stems from growing up in a home where parental acceptance depended on their behavior. “Be a good girl, and daddy will love you.” This pattern of thinking can become so entrenched that adults will work themselves into the grave in an attempt to prove they were not a failure to their parents. I have met men who were driven by a desire to gain their father’s approval long after their father had passed away.

When this system of performance-based acceptance is transferred to out heavenly Father, the result is legalism. Legalism is an attitude. It is a system of thinking in which an individual attempts to gain God’s love and acceptance through good works or service. Some people sincerely believe their salvation is at stake. For others, it’s a vague feeling of divine disapproval of which they are trying to rid themselves. Either way, legalism always leads to the same dead end: a lack of joy, a critical spirit and an inability to be transparent.

Freedom from legalism comes through accepting the truth about our favored position in the family of God. Those who have put their trust in Christ have been adopted into His family (Romans 8:16-17).

There is no concept that speaks any clearer of God’s acceptance than this picture of adoption. Whereas a pregnancy can come as a surprise, adoption is always something that is premeditated and planned. While you and I were still without hope, God set the stage to adopt us into his family: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Your heavenly Father loved you unconditionally––before you did anything that could win His approval.

You’re probably so familiar with this concept of God loving you that you might have become a bit numb to it. Do you realize it means that God actually likes you? If He were to show up in bodily form, do you think He would seek you out? Would you be someone He would enjoy being around?

Isn’t it strange how much more comfortable we are with the concept of love than with the concept of like when it comes to God’s feelings towards us? Why do you think that’s true? Many believers have not come to grips with the real extent to which God has forgiven us. Consequently, we live with a subtle sense of condemnation. We say we are forgiven, but in our hearts we are never fully convinced that God isn’t still a little angry with us or a little disappointed in our service.

The truth is, the Cross dealt with every reason God had for being displeased with us. Our forgiveness is so complete that God is not only free to love us, He can like us as well. Think about this: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). If you have placed your trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, the Bible says you are positionally in Christ. And once you were placed into Christ, you were separated from the guilt that once brought divine condemnation. You are not condemned. Jesus was condemned on your behalf, and now you are free!

“But why don’t I feel forgiven?” you ask. “Why don’t I feel free? Why do I feel like I have to work to earn His favor and approval?” It’s probably because you have not made up your mind to take God at His Word. Instead, because of your upbringing, personality, or environment, you have learned to measure your worthiness based your performance.

To be free from feelings of condemnation, you must renew your mind with powerful truths from the Word of God. Because you received the Father’s mercy, no further effort is required on your part. Not only are you accepted as part of His family, but He has declared you “chosen,” “holy” and “God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:8-10).

You can let go of your exhausting efforts to “be good” to win God’s approval. You can say good-bye to your martyr’s attitude about your service for the Lord. You can stop criticizing those who do not work with the same fervor as you.

When you are completely resting in the finished work of Christ, you don’t doubt your total acceptance by the Father. Jesus’ death and resurrection settled the question of your acceptability once and for all. It provided you with an eternal place in the family of God, and allows you to call the God of the universe your Father. Lay aside your prison of condemnation, legalism and performance. Take to heart the words of Christ: “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Adapted from “A Touch of His Freedom,” by Charles F. Stanley, 1991, pp. 31 and 35.