THE CONFLICT
       Like tendrils extending from dark lofty places, sinister hands of terror strive to grip the hearts and minds of all humanity.
       Evil is conceived in darkness, seeded by malicious energies whose sole ambition is to control, diminish, or destroy the earthly and eternal potentials of all humankind.  Sinister spirits speak to the imaginations of all who will but listen.
Terror is Inspired
       When a passenger jet crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, we all waited with anxious and aching hearts to discover the cause and outcome of this tragedy.  Surely, it was an accident.  However, when a second aircraft plunged into the south tower, the world trembled in horror.  America’s key military command post, the Pentagon, was then violently struck by another hijacked plane, while yet another aircraft was crashed in an open field in Pennsylvania when its evil mission was heroically thwarted. 
       While the shattered fragments of these sites burned, so did our hearts and imaginations.  What, or who, would be the next target?  As a blanket of sorrow coldly descended upon America, our lives were changed forever when on this fateful morning a new method of fierce brutality was introduced to the world. 
Terror is Ancient
       Most people are familiar with the Bible’s first account of bloodshed, a tale of two brothers.  In anger, Cain attacked the innocent Abel while in a field.  It was a death so marked by violence that in chilling agony the voice of Cain’s blood pierced the heavens and rose to the very Throne of God (Genesis 4:8-10). 
Terror is Volatile
       Gavrilo Princip1 was only nineteen years old when he fired a shot into the abdomen of the pregnant Austrian Archduchess Sofia, instantly killing her and her child.  His second bullet struck near the heart of her husband, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, killing him also.  His actions ignited the fires of aggression that led to ten million deaths, twenty million wounded, and the crushing of dreams, economies, and empires in the great conflict known as World War I.
       But let us direct our thoughts to the more subtle methods satan employs to inspire torment. 
Terror is Personal
       The front yard, usually filled with playing children, is empty.  The van is missing from the garage.  Assuming his wife has gone to buy something for dinner, a man walks into a quiet, empty house.  Scanning a note found on the kitchen counter, he is suddenly besieged with agony as he reads that she no longer wants to be married to him - a reality he had not anticipated while walking through the responsibilities attending his earlier hours.  In desperation, he flails helplessly for the telephone, and for the words that will bring her back to him. 
       In the days, weeks, and months that follow, his thoughts cannot be collected, as they remain scattered by the winds of confusion.  His broken heart cannot be mended as pieces of it belong to each of his children and the love of his life.  Simple, necessary tasks seem impossible to perform.  There is no taste in his food, and it refuses to remain in his body. 
       Nighttime is most dreaded, though every moment of his existence is spent in darkness.  How can he sleep alone in their bed?  With futile desperation, he aches for his children.  How can he rest peacefully without their butterfly kisses and bedtime prayers?  Reaching for her pillow, he embraces his nightmare. 
***
       A young couple prepares their hearts and home for the birth of a child, but as the time approaches for their baby to be born, medical tests determine that, without a miracle, the infant will soon die.  They dread her birth, for at least while the little one remains within her mother’s womb, the life they so cherish is yet with them. 
       When finally the hour arrives, they wrap their child in a soft blanket, along with the fragments of their shattered hearts and dreams, fiercely clinging to her lifeless body and their final moments together.  Compelled to face reality, they question, “how do we surrender our baby to the arms of a stranger?  How do we allow this tiny bundle of innocence to be locked within the cold, dark ground?  How will we ever again walk into her room filled with tender expressions of our love and preparation?”    
***
       Who could be knocking at the door this late in the evening?  Drowsily, a tired father turns off the television and moves quickly to respond.  The sober greeting of a law enforcement officer shakes him from his dream, destined to become a nightmare.  “Can I help you?”  After confirming that he is the next of kin, the officer replies, “Your son has been killed….” 
       It does not matter how.  It happened.  It happens every day.  A friend or family member leaves their home, meets with unexpected tragedy, and never returns.  We mourn and adjust our lives to this change, but life can never be the same without them.
***
       A mother waits nervously for her doctor to report the results of recent medical tests.  Her hands tremble and mind races, investing her energies into thoughts of cancer or perhaps a life-changing illness.  The symptoms are real and unrelenting.  While this scenario may be played out many ways, the common thread of fear is firmly laced throughout them all. 
***
       Verbal abuse strives to claim the potentials of its victims.  Physical violence is beastly, occurring on streets among strangers, at the workplace, in schoolrooms, or within the home by a friend or family member. 
       Whether on a battlefield around the world, engulfed in a financial crisis, or in bondage to an addictive substance, circumstances loom larger than the lives they seek to claim.  Peace is frequently displaced by fear of failure, fear of death, fear of solitude…  The collective list is too vast to accommodate our limited imaginations. 
       The enemy of all souls, satan, is skillful at discerning our weaknesses that he might introduce a thought or circumstance to crush the possibilities bound up within each moment of our lives.  his tendrils of terror enthusiastically extend into every corner of the world.  Men, women, and children desperately long for hope far more than a morsel of dry, moldy bread during a famine.  A night of peaceful sleep is treasured far more than a mountain of pure gold. 
       *he further delights in his unwavering objective of claiming as many souls as possible to join him in the ultimate and eternal terror into which much of humanity is melting - that dimension of never-ending anguish known as Hell, a destination chosen by those residing within its realm. 
       The conflict is real.  The enemy is real.  The evidence?  How many fountains could be filled with the blood and tears shed during the course of this very day?  However, we are not without hope.
       Esther was an orphan in a hostile empire.  Following three days of prayer and fasting, she took action, delivering the Jewish nation from annihilation. 
       Persecution was widespread following the Death of Christ and the Birth of Christianity.  Yet, the passionate responses of Paul and Silas turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).        
       Imagine the possibilities if Christians throughout the world unite with one heart and purpose.  This writing is such a call to spiritual arms, written to 
  • empower believers, families, and the church, as each individual recognizes their personal and corporate authority, responsibility and potential…
  • to unify the body of Christ by finding a mutual strategy and purpose, and
  • to mobilize us to engage in explosive, dangerous, world-changing prayer, followed by faith-filled action.
The goal, like the early church, is to touch our generation, turning the world upside down.
       Clothed in garments of flesh and human frailty, we are strategically stationed here on this earth, within this time, and each in our own place, to respond to the circumstances and needs that surround us.  The task appears overwhelming.  Where, and how, do we begin?   
 
* I never capitalize satan or any reference to his pronoun, even when beginning a sentence. he is a lower-case, improper creature.
 
 
[1] worldwar1.com
[2] http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761569981/World_War_I.html (06-04-06)
Ironically, Princep was spared the death penalty by the government he so despised because of his age.  He died in prison of tuberculosis.                                                                                                       
    
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