The War Prayer

Mark Twain, the American writer, humorist, and philosopher, was avidly anti-imperialistic. He maintained that people — including groups of people up to and including nations — should mind their own business. He also recognized that people — especially when grouped together in nations — are prone to interfere in the affairs of others. This, of course, often results in war.

Toward the end of his life, Twain wrote a poem entitled “The War Prayer.” It is a scathing indictment of the blind nationalism that frequently leads to war with no regard for its causes or consequences. In particular it is an indictment against those who call for war in the name of God or who call upon God for success in their endeavor to interfere in the affairs of others.

His poem has been made into a short film. Please watch…

By the time Twain wrote “The War Prayer” he was a highly successful and influential writer. Yet even he was reluctant to publish this work for fear of reprisal. He was afraid the story would be considered too “sacrilegious.” Twain still had to earn a living and did not want to be seen as a lunatic or fanatic.

His illustrator, Dan Beard, asked him to publish it anyway to which Twain replied, “No, I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I’m dead.”

It was left unpublished until after his death in 1910.

Twain was likely not a Christian. Many of his writings indicate this. However, I find it interesting that even a non-Christian can recognize the destructive influence of man’s sinful nature and that our prayers, when guided by our flesh instead of by the Spirit of God, are selfish and self-glorifying.

It is more interesting (sad, even) that those who most frequently engage in such prayers call themselves Christians — the very ones who ought to repudiate such prayers. What does it say about those of us in the Church, when even a non-believer can recognize this error on the basis of empirical evidence alone? Not only do we (believers) have access to the same evidence, but we have the clear instructions of our Lord…

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” — Matthew 6:9-13

Perhaps we should take our cue from the Lord, rather than from men. Perhaps our mission should be the spread of the Gospel and the demonstration of Christ’s love to the nations — not the expansion of a worldly empire by the conquest of nations.

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Is God a Reality in your life?

Death and Taxes (a repost)

Note: This post originally appeared on April 11, 2006

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the famous proverb, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

How appropriate for us to ponder his wisdom on these two matters at this time of the year. For it is this time of the year, in particular, where we are forced to deal with one of these issues and have an opportunity to deal with the other.

Thid-BenFranklinApril 15 is “tax day” in the United States. We are reminded, in no uncertain terms, of the certainty of taxes. Our federal government confiscates huge portions of our income, quite literally at the point of a gun, at rates that far exceed the rates that prompted our forefathers to revolt. What’s worse, the vast majority of the programs for which our money is taken Congress has no constitutional authority to enact.

“Oh but please understand,” they tell us, “We are only doing this for your own good. We want to take care of you from cradle to grave.”

Once again (and I can’t emphasize this enough), Congress has no constitutional authority to do most of what it does. Our country was founded on liberty, not on “being taken care of.” Benjamin Franklin, himself, repudiated this sort of thinking when he said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

But this hasn’t stopped our federal government from setting itself up as our savior for years. They want us to become more and more dependant on them because when our dependency on them increases so, too, does their power over us.

And yet, isn’t it interesting that in the phrase, “from cradle to grave,” the government admits it cannot save us from the other certainty Franklin mentioned? Death.

Franklin was right, death is certain. The Bible is clear on this:

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” – Hebrews 9:27

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

And of course, centuries of human history testify to the certainty of death. And yet, an actual Savior has exhibited power over this most certain of events.

“Now upon the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain [others] with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down [their] faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” – Luke 24:1-7

Our hope should rest not in a bloated government of bureaucrats who seek only to increase the amount of power they wield over us, but in the Lord Jesus Christ, who demonstrated, not only His love for us by dying in our stead, but also His ability to deliver on his promise by displaying His power over death.

This time of year reminds us we have to pay our taxes but, praise God, it also reminds us that the victory over death has been won because…

He Is Risen!

Thideology Research Team: Case File 012

NEAR THE ANCIENT CITY OF UR, Southern Iraq — A huge complex has been uncovered near what many believe to be the biblical birthplace of Abraham according to researchers who have recently been allowed into the region. According to Associated Press reports, the site was discovered by a team of British archeologists working at Tell Khaiber in Southern Iraq, near the ancient city of Ur.

A Thideology Research Team spokesman responded to the reports, “I don’t think we have any British people working for us at the moment,” he said. “Although the guy who delivers our mail is named Seamus. I think his mother is from Ireland.”

GearThe area surrounding Ur, which is now arid and desolate, is considered to be the birthplace of civilization approximately 5,000 years ago. The Bible refers to Ur of the Chaldeans as the home of Abraham, which is one of the reasons scholars consider this part of Southern Iraq to be the biblical site.

National Geographic confirms the timeline and notes that Ur probably originated sometime in the fifth millennium B.C.

“I’ve never even heard of ‘National Geographic’,” the Thideology Research Team spokesman said. “That just sounds made up.”

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