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I hate to make extra trips back and forth from the car. So I have a tendency to load up with a little more than I should probably carry. At the grocery store, I would rather not be hassled with taking a cart out into the parking lot. So, if at all possible, I'll just load up all those grocery bags in my arms and start walking. It's then that I especially appreciate a particular convenience that many stores have - those doors that open automatically, without you even having to touch them. Well, you do have to do something - you have to walk toward those doors. That's when they open.
Interestingly enough, the way you get that automatic door to open is often the way to get God to open a door for you. You have to start moving in that direction. You have to start walking toward it before it will open.
One classic illustration of that is in the Jews' crossing of the Jordan River in our word for today from the Word of God in Joshua 3. It's time to finally enter the land that God has promised to them. But in between them and where God has told them to go is this river, at flood stage yet. The priests are supposed to lead the way, and there's no bridge. Beginning in verse 8, God says, "Tell the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: 'When you reach the edge of Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.' ... The priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing."
If I'm one of those priests, I'm saying, "How about this idea, Lord? You part the waters, and then I'll step in." God says, "No, you step in, and I'll part the waters." He's been saying that to His followers ever since. Jesus was ready to change water into wine at a wedding, if the servants would collect the waterpots and fill them with water. Jesus was ready to miraculously feed 5,000 people, if the disciples would have enough faith to at least find a lunch and get everyone organized for a picnic that did not yet exist. Jesus planned to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he first expected the men to roll the stone away from the tomb. God responds to our faith and our obedience.
God has been talking to you about something He wants to do in your family, in your finances, in a life He wants to touch through you, with a change He's been leading you to make. Somewhere in your life there seems to be a closed door standing between you and something God wants you to do. You've been waiting for God to do something. But He's waiting for you to do something - to start walking in the direction of where you believe He wants you to go ... even if there's a closed door or a flooded river in front of you. That's His problem. Your problem is to get moving in the direction He's leading!
Now, if you've been looking for more leading from God, remember the way to discover what you need to know about God's will is to do what you already know is His will. You can't get anywhere as long you're staying in neutral. You've got to shift into forward gear. All the "yeah, buts" - "Yeah, Lord, but what if...?" - all those "yeah, buts" are God's problem. Start walking toward that door - that's when it's going to open!
Preamble: Yes, anything could happen in Iraq short term. We could have terrible setbacks. I'm neither a Pollyanna nor a prophet.
Instead, my optimism is founded upon the fact that God is turning the hearts of Muslims toward Him (long term) and away from the steel-trap religion of the Quran, which decrees death for those who want to leave it.
Our bullets are still needed in Iraq short term, alas, but that's not God's Plan A. As I've noted before, over a million Muslims have turned to Jesus (their revered prophet Isa) over the past nine years in the hardcore Islamic nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. And roughly 1 million Muslims worldwide have reported having a very shocking vision of Jesus appearing to them – about 70 percent of whom recount that Isa spoke some variation of, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by me," which you may recognize as John 14:6, word for word.
Such facts as these should be pretty compelling evidence for anyone, skeptic or no. But we don't even need theology to tell us which way the wind is blowing in Iraq. My main point for today: The indisputable physical data are now shouting an historic turnaround, and even the most hard-nosed, atheistic reporters can no longer ignore the truth.
Karl Zinsmeister, editor of The American Enterprise Online, has put together an eye-opening array of hard facts that redefines the Iraq debate and shines a bright spotlight on the yellow journalism that passes for reportage these days. A small sampling of his surprises:
Casualties in each of the nine previous American wars were over 50 percent higher than the 4 percent figure for Iraq. U.S. troops wounded in action were 7,920 in 2004 vs. 5,961 in 2005. A quote on fatalities from the U.S. National Guard commander puts the deaths in perspective: "I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time." Attacks on oil facilities: 146 in 2004, 101 in 2005. Forget the unpatriotic agitprop from Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry: G.I. morale is so high that they are re-enlisting at record rates. Re-up totals in the active Army have been 6 percent over target for three years. Should coalition forces bail out ASAP? Is a long-term occupying force scandalous? Hardly. The turn-tail liberals are simply desperate to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Editor Zinsmeister brings valuable perspective, noting that: Even after the hostilities of World War II were over, the U.S. occupied Japan for seven years of stabilization and reconstruction, and West Germany for four years ... Eliminating a terror insurgency has historically taken a decade or two ... Our occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War is a closer example of what we face in Iraq; we fought an extensive insurgency there for years, then remained in the country for nearly a century, with very positive eventual results.
Support for terrorism in 17 Muslim countries has plummeted, and "Those carrying out terror in Iraq, never more than a small fraction of the population, are now deeply resented by most residents ... In December, Iraqis filed a record number of tips." Average household incomes rose an amazing 60 percent from February 2004 to November of last year. Compared to pre-war numbers, cars have doubled and traffic has grown fivefold. Sales of heavy consumer goods and machinery is soaring. Just since early 2004, cell-phone ownership has exploded from 6 percent to 65 percent, and 86 percent of homes have satellite TV. Iraq now has 44 commercial TV stations and 72 commercial radio stations, which compares nicely to 0 before 2003. There are 100-plus newspapers. (Is the New York Times, our "newspaper of record," telling you anything about this?) Super surprise: Iraqis are delighted with their much-improved security. (And the forces are now over half Iraqi.) With 14 million adults, voting last year leaped from 8 million to 10 million to 11 million! They elected an interim parliament of 31 percent women! Yet on one typical news day, Jan. 21, 2005, the U.S. press ran 7,110 negative stories on Iraq vs. 96 positive stories. Bang the drum slowly. This is treasonous. I've skimmed off some of Zinsmeister's more positive points, but his article is quite well balanced. Enjoy reading it all.