the Nice attack;
the attempted coup d'etat in Turkey;
an axe attack by a young Islamic State supporter in Germany; and
now the Munich shootings - which seems likely to have an Islamic component.
(Also coming up we have 22,000 Brazilian troops deployed to protect the Rio Olympics - although I wonder how many will stay on for the following Paralympics? I do hope that ripe target hasn't been forgotten.)
Just look at this mess guys!
Honestly the single most vital news item is without doubt the failed Turkish coup. Please read Daniel Pipes' piece on this. He is entirely correct, Turkey desperately needed its fifth successful modern coup to restore secularism and true democracy. It didn't happen. This will result in frankly unimaginable trouble in the years ahead. We all really, really needed that coup to succeed.
Apart from that, being away for a week and having all this catching up to do, which story or stories will I choose to focus on? Coming back with a dose of the flu hasn't helped my analysis, but here's what I've decided to discuss: Fear.
Fear has an amazing ability to neutralise people. If allowed fear will dictate our whole life. It short circuits our ability to think rationally, to make plans - to think at all. Fear causes reactions rather than responses. Fear removes initiative. Fear dwells on the seemingly powerful Lie of what might go wrong rather than the truth of what is - the value each one of us has to God and his promises to stay with us. Fear makes us betray our humanity and will also seek to force us to install It as our new and merciless overlord in the place of the God of Light, Love & Life. Fear wants to make us betray God. In the love of God and in Christ there is acceptance & security, there is no fear.
Have a look at some scriptures on fear here. Look through them closely and consider them. If we give in to fear we have ceased to be an asset and have become a liability. It's as simple as that. This is a battle. To succumb to fear is to be defeated, our enemy need do no more. We are already beaten. If you are one who has kidded yourself that you are showing "respect" to Islam when you are actually merely afraid, now is the time to get honest and deal with that (and by the way - respect people, but criticise ideas all you like).
Consider this from Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik's book The Qur'anic Concept of War (this link is to a review by Col. Joseph Myers):~
Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the … heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved... Terror is not a means of imposing [a] decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose upon him. Terror … can be instilled only if the opponent’s Faith is destroyed… To instil terror into the hearts of the enemy, it is essential … to dislocate his Faith. An invincible Faith is immune to terror. A weak Faith offers inroads to terror.
Our faith needs to be real, it will be tested. If the faith we have is not real we will be broken. If it is genuine though, the God in whom we trust will sustain us, no matter how weak we may feel - and we will certainly feel helpless at times, as Paul said: "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." 2 Cor 1.8-9.
So, how's your faith?
As Christians we talk about spiritual warfare, so we must remember that this attack of fear, according to Malik, is a real and carefully contrived plan of warfare that Islam employs against its foes. It spans the psychological aspects of bluster & intimidation right through to the most physically brutal methods of torture and death such as those employed in some ISIS videos. It has a long and nuanced history going back 1400 years to the prophet of Islam himself, as Brig. Malik explains in his book. This is simply what anyone who criticises Muhammad & Sharia and stands up for the equal rights of all people, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of belief - or just preaches the Gospel - must face at some point. For like Sin, Fear "desires to have you, but you must master it" (Gen 4.7).
Below is a link to a 10 minute video from the incomparable David Wood. Watch and see how he confronts and overcomes fear. For me there is no other way than to overcome fear than with faith and love, because, as Peter said "a man is a slave to whatever masters him" (2 Pet 2.19b) and we must fight to have nothing and no-one master us except Jesus.
We all have to ask ourselves:
Who or what is it that I am allowing to master me?