The Fall of Afghanistan…

Like many of you, my heart has been a tad bit overwhelmed by all of the bad news in our world today. From the coronavirus spike to the fall of Afghanistan, it just seems to be one bad news piece after another. I tell myself not to watch or read the news, but the pull towards all of the quickly developing stories is just too enticing at times.

The fall of Afghanistan was particularly hard for me to read about. I’m still in frazzled awe that the Taliban (an extremist terrorist organization) could overtake the country of Afghanistan in just a few weeks. I mean, after two decades of war, thousands of lives killed and injured, and trillions of dollars being invested over there, all of our efforts at nation building seemingly went up in a puff of smoke.

You know, it’s funny how history repeats itself. From the fall of Saigon to the fall of Afghanistan, the similarities are eerily similar. In fact, after hearing of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, I immediately texted many of my Afghanistan War buddies – the new Vietnam War veterans…

Their thoughts, as you can imagine, are all over the map. From low-grade sadness to complete rage…Many of my friends who fought and bled over there are just simply upset and confused by the Afghan military’s cowardice, the speed of the Taliban, and the seeming incompetence of our nation’s leaders to respond.

You know, like many of my Afghanistan War buddies, I know the pain and challenges of war. But I served in the Iraq War, not Afghanistan, and I’m just at a point where all I can do is deeply empathize with my fellow brothers-in-arms and pray for them. I wish I could do more.

Then, there was yesterday, August 26, 2021. The bloodiest day of conflict in Afghanistan since 2011…13 U.S. service members from the Marine Corps, Army, and Navy were killed near the Kabul airport. How my heart hurts for these brave service members and their families. Indeed, their sacrifice is not in vain, but try telling that to the rest of the Afghanistan veterans right now…

As a former Army intelligence analyst, I truly fear that a great and new “Axis of Evil” is rising in our world today. And as a red-blooded American, I am truly hurt and angry at our foreign enemies and our domestic leaders who are responding to these foreign threats. But (long pause), as a believer in Jesus Christ, I must rest in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love. I mean, what else can I do? Where else can I go? He (that is Jesus Christ) holds the words of eternal life (John 6:68). In these difficult and dark days, I choose to look up and trust my God…He’s got this. We certainly don’t. But He does.

A Prayer For Prairie Flower Baptist Church…

Loving Father,

We bow in your presence and worship you for who you are…You are the great I AM. You are faithful in every season. You are perfect in all of your ways. Who among the “gods” is like you? Indeed, there is no one who comes close to your greatness, splendor, and holiness. O great God, our God, you are good and do good, teach us your ways!

As we ponder your many attributes (your divine perfections), we confess that we are nothing like you. We are sinners by birth and sinners by choice. We willingly ignore you and pursue our own idolatrous pleasures. All we like sheep have gone astray! Indeed, prone to wander, Lord, we feel it! Prone to leave the God we love. Forgive us for our willful wanderings and sinful choices.

Thank you. Thank you for your forgiveness and grace. Thank you for saving our souls. Thank you for giving to us your Word and your Truth. Indeed, all who are on the side of Truth, listen to your voice! Thank you for sharing your voice with us. Thank you for being our God!

As a church family out here on the prairie, we ask that you would continue to help us and bless us. Yes, despite all that we are (a sinful people) and all that we are not (a completely sanctified people), please help us and bless us. Help us to be bold with the Gospel. Help us to love you with all of our being and our neighbors as ourselves. Bless our endeavors to serve and minister to our community. And please continue to bless the preaching and singing of your Holy Word. Yes, help us and bless us to be a strong church that makes disciples for your great glory!

In Jesus’ Name – Our Savior and King’s Name – We Pray All These Things (Humbly & With A Desire For Your Will To Be Done) – Amen!

From The Desk Of The Associate: The Church – Who Needs It Anyway?

In recent years and decades there has been an alarming decline in church attendance. Leaving the unconverted aside, why do we see so many professing believers rejecting the idea that regular church attendance is God’s will for the believer? There are probably a few different categories of Christians who do not prioritize regular church participation, but lets tackle a couple of them.

First, let’s look at the “Someday Individual,” I mean that person who thinks that someday they will get involved in a church. When they reach a certain milestone then they will start taking their responsibility to the body seriously. Young people are notorious for this. There seems to be some sort of fumble during the hand off between youth group participation and participation in the church at large. Maybe this is the problem with the way many of us do youth ministry. Also I suspect that this is just human nature. How many of you are planning to start that diet, or to get into shape, or to start reading that book, or you name it. Many of us have good intentions, but never actually get started beyond one or two half hearted attempts. When it comes to church commitment and participation I believe it looks like this for many young people: “I need to focus on schooling, I’ll take church seriously when I graduate.” Then they graduate and this is what they tell themselves: “I’ll take church seriously when I settle down and get married.” After marriage: “When we have kids we’ll find a church and bring our kids.” The dirty little secret is that just like your diet or workout plan, you will unlikely ever find it high enough on your priority list to actually make a meaningful commitment. Worse yet are the older folks who should know better, but they tell themselves the same lies and go through the same cycle. These are the “Someday Individuals.”

Second, lets look at the “Lone Ranger Christian.” This person believes that they really do not need the church. They maybe have been burned by a church in their past. Maybe they have experienced real hurt at the failure of their church. Maybe they used to be a “Someday Individual” and now they simply see no need for the church at all. After all, they have a relationship with God and know how to read their Bible and pray. Why do they need the rest of the church at all? Even if we take this person at their word, and they are indeed some kind of super Christian who is not really dependent on others for growth in godliness, wouldn’t you think that it is possible that God gifted this person with extra Christian fortitude to bless other Christians? The Bible gives many answers to both these ways of thinking, but I believe any individual who neglects to make a serious commitment to a local body of believers has a fundamental misunderstanding of God’s will concerning the growth of a Christian.

The Bible gives an outright command to Christians to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but to encourage and exhort one another and so much the more as we see the day approaching.” See God knows that we are fickle and frail individuals who need to rely on one another for strength and encouragement in the faith. As I said above, even if you are not someone who needs to draw a lot on others, do you not see that others may have a need to draw on you for encouragement? It is our duty to sometimes ask not what our church can do for us, but what we can do for the church. In another place the Bible says that we are to “let the peace of God rule in our hearts as we were called together in one body and to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” This is something that is clearly meant to be done primarily in the context of a local church. How can we fulfill these responsibilities if we do not know the people in the church and are not known by them? What we are really saying is, “God, we know more than you about our growth and sanctification.”

A lot more could be said on this issue, but one last response I would give to the person who does not see church commitment as a priority is this…In multiple passages, the New Testament likens the local church to a physical body. This means that God has given each individual believer a gifting and responsibility for the building up of the church. When you fail to fulfill your commitment, you are depriving the body of that part that God has given you to be for His church. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you need the church and the church needs you!