Keeping Our Focus in a World of Critics<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Dr. Marshall Foster
September 2006 Journal
The world's finest golfer was in trouble. At the age of 31, many believed he had peaked and was on the way down. The critics said it was his swing. Others said that getting married destroyed his commitment to the game. Then his father, his mentor, died this spring. A few weeks later he went to the U.S. Open and failed to make the cut for the first time in his phenomenal twelve year professional career.
Recently the world of golf focused on its most prestigious prize, the British Open. (Here the game had been invented as a diversion for the Scottish clansmen to keep them from killing one another in the 15th Century.) Tiger Woods stepped to the tee and proceeded to achieve near perfection for four consecutive days, winning the Open Championship by two strokes. He faced heckling, a critical press and a raucous crowd every day. But he never once responded to the pressure, nor did he raise his hands in triumph once as he pressed forward. He held his emotions in check until he sank the final two inch put, and then exploded with joy.
What was Tiger's secret? Most agreed it was his uncanny ability to focus on his game and block out all distractions. This story has a direct correlation to our dilemma today in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />America. We are unquestionably the finest example of nation-building in history. No country has had the combination of cultural, spiritual, economic and political blessings that we have enjoyed for the past two centuries. There is nothing that should hinder our nation from carrying out our founders' mission to be "a city on a hill" and the missionary capital of the world for biblical Christianity, which is the foundation of our success.
But in the last few generations, a group of rebels against our biblical foundations has grasped the seats of power. They have focused the attention of our people away from what made us great, and onto the negative. Some say, as they parrot Karl Marx, that Capitalism has misused the common worker. Secularists say from their academic cloisters that Christianity is not the cause of our success but a hindrance to it.
These critics of our success almost always point to big government and judicial activist judges to save us from their perceived enemy. The enemy, to them, is the biblical faith that was our strength as a nation for twelve generations.
How can we regain our focus, as Tiger did, and run the race that is set before us as Americans and win? We must simply focus on the biblical method of nation-building and life-building that has been our hallmark. Jesus Kingdom strategy, which is the opposite of the world's thinking, is to build civilization from the inside out, from the bottom up through transformed hearts. Jesus defined how His city on a hill (His Kingdom) would be built. He said, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
His strategy was simple to understand, but goes against our human nature which loves to find a scapegoat, a "cause celeb", or a United Nations to either love, or hate or blame. If we will concentrate on obedience to His Word and raise a brave, fearless and loving generation, then our internal success as a nation will shine to the whole world. If we have His character, then if we see injustice we will work to make it right. If we see poverty we will feed the poor. And if we are attacked we will have the fortitude to fight and win for the cause of liberty.
Islamic terrorists are not our greatest danger. Neither is nuclear war or economic calamity. Our greatest danger is that we would lose our biblically-based character as a people. Christianity's stand against radical Islam has entered its 16th Century. Hundreds of battles have been fought against this militaristic religion, bent on forcibly annihilating or converting the entire world. As with ancient Israel and their enemies, it was Israel's walk with God, not just their military prowess, that determined the outcome of battle.
In 732 A.D., on the plain of Tours in France, a battle took place that still shapes our world today. Charles was a leader of a formerly barbarian Germanic tribe in Gaul. He and his people had recently turned to Christ from pagan idolatry. He led an army of 30,000 infantry soldiers against a seemingly unstoppable Islamic horde of 80,000 horsemen. The horde had raped and pillage their way though Spain and France. The Christians were hopelessly outnumbered and facing fanatical horsemen who were one battle away from destroying all of Christendom, from Greece to England.
Charles' brave knights stood their ground for God, arrayed in square battle formations. They absorbed the initial blow of the Moorish Calvary. But the overwhelming numbers would have swept the Christians away if Charles had not observed a fatal flaw in the Islamic army. The barbarians were "greedy." They had taken millions of dollars in booty from past battles. Charles sent a small force back to the Muslim camp and pretended to be stealing their booty. Word spread among the Moors during the battle, and thousands of Islamic soldiers deserted to go behind the lines to protect their stolen treasure. In so doing, they left their leader, Emir Rackman, exposed on the battlefield and he was killed. Without their leader all the varying sects of the Muslims (e.g. Sunnis and Shiites) turned on each other. Charles chased them down and they lost both their booty and their lives.
Charles became known as Charles Martel, "Charles the Hammer", for his great victory. If he had lost, historians agree that we all might be bowing to Allah today. He went on to found the Carolinian Dynasty and send missionaries like St. Boniface to all the Germanic tribes to complete their conversion to Christianity. He was the founder of "chivalry" and the knights who protected Christendom from Muslim and Viking invasions for 1,000 years. Charles' grandson, Charlemagne, taught the people of the Holy Roman Empire to read and to obey the Bible, which truly unleashed the blessings of Western Civilization.
As we can see, terrorism is not new. In our present clash of civilizations with radical Islam, we will not find our path to victory by just listening to the news and waiting around to be bombed. We will find victory, as Tiger and Charles Martel did, by focusing on our game. A characterless enemy will almost always self-destruct. As we positively live out our faith with integrity here at home, then we can go forth and shine the light of the gospel to lost civilizations, like the Muslim countries. They will yet see the light and glorify our Father who is in heaven. Brave believers are leading Bible studies, even now, in the universities in Iran. Then, if we have to fight against rogue terrorists, we will rest in the providence of God, and be willing to stay the course and win.
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