Monday, March 30, 2015

Celebrating a transition to Glory

Today we're reflecting on the life and legacy of Darlene​'s dad, Frederick W. French, who passed peacefully into glory on the morning of March 30 at about 3:30 a.m. in Victorville, CA. He was 95. For many years Fred had been anticipating this homegoing, and we are very grateful that he is now in the arms of the Savior he was so excited about seeing face-to-face.

Fred was a beautiful example to us: of single-minded devotion to Jesus, of care and concern for his family, and of integrity with all with whom he did business. Before he retired he was a valued agent of Allstate insurance, and at one point was celebrated as what they called a "Life Millionaire" for his extraordinary life insurance sales.

After he retired and they moved to live full-time in Wrightwood (where they had vacationed for many years), he worked tirelessly with his son-in-law Jerry and other contractor friends to build and sell custom homes in that community. His fingerprints are on many of the beautiful homes in that quaint mountain town.

He also loved (and even composed) sacred music. He kept a tape recorder on the bed stand near where he slept because he would often dream of tunes, and woke to hum them into the recorder for later development. He even produced a tape recording of his songs at one point after "retirement."

Fred led such an interesting life. When he was a teenager growing up poor on a farm in New York he came down with tuberculosis, then incurable, and spent seven years in a sanitarium. That's where he met Dottie (also a patient). After a cure was developed they were both treated and released, whereupon they married and moved from New York State to California, where they grew their young family, attended evangelistic services and received Christ, and helped start a vital and growing young church. (Darlene had 3 siblings. Her younger sister, Lori, passed away at the tender age of 14. Her older sister is Sharon bonds, and her older brother Gary French.)

In his latter years, Fred dictated his fascinating life story to Dottie, who typed it out and passed it along to us. Darlene and I had the privilege of putting it together into a small autobiographical book which you can now read on Amazon Kindle.

Fred touched many lives and I know many people will be saddened to hear of his passing. Please be in prayer for Dottie (also 95), and the rest of the family as we travel and gather together to celebrate on Saturday, April 18. We do hope you will also rejoice with us in the sure hope promised in Psalm 116:15 — "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Why blog? Reason #1: To connect

This is the seventh and final post in a new series I'm calling "Why blog?" In each day's post in this series, I have examined one or more of the top 10 reasons people (including me) blog ... and what I have learned as a professional blogger and a corporate liaison to bloggers.

Yesterday's post looked at Reasons #3 and #2: To sell books, or to mobilize people for a noble cause. But in answer to the question "Why blog?" today's post examines, David Letterman countdown-style ...

Reason #1: To connect.

If God created spiders to spin webs, and birds to sing, and bees to fertilize flowers and make honey, I believe He created people to communicate. In this, we are a reflection of Himself, for according to the Gospel of John He calls Himself "The Word."

While humans are not unique as communicators in the animal kingdom, for better or for worse we certainly do the most of it, and we do it the most intently. While communication can be holistically considered both sharing our thoughts, as well as listening to and seeking to understand the thoughts of others, most of us do remarkably better at the former than we do at the latter.

But, the beauty of blogging is that it encompasses both, at least to a certain extent. It provides us with a platform for sharing our thoughts with a potentially global audience, and also provides our readers with a mechanism for responding, through the comment functionality that most blogs incorporate.

When I first started my blogger liaison assignment with World Vision, I started by seeking out bloggers whom I felt would care about our cause and who might be open (if I provided the resources) to talking about it. The challenge, of course, was narrowing the field. With millions of blogs out there, many of them blogging at least weekly or even daily, how with a limited amount of time could I go about weeding out the chaff and finding and focusing on the ones with the best potential?

I was excited when, early on, I felt that I had found some good candidates. I read their blogs, enjoyed what I read, interacted with them, and contacted them asking if they might be interested in working with me. One gentleman in particular seemed amenable and I considered him an early win, as he posted some great World Vision content. So he was definitely "on my list."

A number of months later I was pitching him again, and this time he replied with a rather stinging rebuke, basically saying, "You don't read my blog. I'm not your friend. Leave me alone." (My paraphrase.) Naturally, he went off my list. I was taken aback, but as I reflected, I realized I probably deserved his rebuke. With zillions of blogs to sift through and read, I had stopped reading (and interacting with) his on a regular basis. Nonetheless I still treated him as if we had a relationship.

The reality is, those of us who blog want most to be read, and to interact with those who read us. My once-upon-a-time blogging friend was right: I no longer read him, interacted with his blogs, so I had no right to call myself a friend. No real relationship there.

At this point I started questioning myself: How on earth am I going to do this job? I had been told by consultants that it was reasonable to expect that only 1 in 50 blogs I pitched would actually "bite." If I wanted 10 or 20 bloggers to be posting my material each week, I couldn't, of course, be reading and interacting with 500 or 1,000 blogs each week. I'm too slow a reader, this is just one part of my job, and the math just didn't work. (1,000 blogs per week equals 200 blogs per day equals 40 blogs per hour, assuming I'm giving 5 hours per day to the task. I don't think I could read and interact with a tenth that number, let alone 40 per hour.)

Anyway, I haven't yet found the answer to my dilemma. I guess the goal should be to find and focus my efforts on the blogs that have the greatest potential for payback, slowly weeding out all the others. Better a high quality relationship with a smaller group of bloggers than a low quality relationship with a larger group.

I think the largest majority of bloggers out there don't really do it primarily for the pay. They don't do it to get famous, or to establish their expertise in a specific topic, or write and sell books, or to influence and mobilize a large number of people in some noble cause. They may not even do it to gripe, or to inspire. They do it for the most human of reasons: To be read, and to find, interact with, and hopefully connect with other humans during this very short time we are sharing together on this planet!

Thank you for reading through this series on blogging! Please comment and let me know your own reason(s) for blogging, and if they differ from what I've presented. List your blog and I may add it to my list (in the right nav) of blogs I follow. Thanks!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why blog? Reasons #3 and #2: To sell books, or to mobilize people for a noble cause

This is the sixth post in a new series I'm calling "Why blog?" In each post in this series, I examine one or more of the top 10 reasons people (including me) blog ... and what I have learned as a professional blogger and a corporate liaison to bloggers.

Tuesday's post looked at Reason #4: To practice writing. But in answer to the question "Why blog?" today's post examines, David Letterman countdown-style ...

Reason #3: To sell books.

This is akin to reason #4. It may not really deserve to be here, but the reason I included it is because of my boss. She has convinced me to write my autobiography. I tell a lot of stories, some of them more or less true, and she always tells me: "You have THE most interesting stories! You definitely need to write your autobiography. I bet a lot of people would love it."

She may just be buttering me up and trying to get me to work harder (which is something some good bosses do, while others try instead to motivate by yelling and screaming), but I've chosen to take her at her word because that's just how vain a person I am. But then, once I decided that yes, I was going to write my autobiography, the next question was, "How?" And it occurred to me, I was already writing it, sort of, in my blog, which is where I tell a lot of my stories. Because my memory is basically about as holy as swiss cheese, I frequently have to consult my blog to help me remember all the great stories I have told. (Which might explain why some of them seem to grow in wonder the more time elapses between the event and the telling!) And so it seems natural I should use this blog as the basis for my autobiography.

So, if you are reading this, here's one thing you can feel good about today ... you are now reading something for free that someone may someday be foolish enough to pay money for, once it's been published in book form. Congratulations.

Reason #2: To mobilize people for a noble cause.

This really is probably the most admirable reason of all to blog, so I'm going to try for a moment to be serious. In my digital media role with World Vision, I run across a lot of cause-related bloggers. They pick the topic that most concerns them, for whatever reason, and they dedicate their blog to trying to make a difference in the world by motivating people to do something about that topic.

That topic can be fairly narrow. You probably wouldn't write an entire blog focused solely on human trafficking, but I know a number of individuals who have done just that. I admire them for it, and don't doubt that they are moving the needle in some way to change the world for the better by helping eliminate the horror of human trafficking. (By the way, did you know there are more human slaves of all sorts, now, than there were during the height of the West's slave trade in Africa? Appalling. I really hope more people will become human trafficking bloggers.)

In tomorrow's blog, we'll look at the final reason people blog, reason #1 ... Why blog? To connect.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why blog? Reason #4: To practice writing

This is the fifth post in a new series I'm calling "Why blog?" In each day's post in this series, I examine one or more of the top 10 reasons people (including me) blog ... and what I have learned as a professional blogger and a corporate liaison to bloggers.

Saturday's post looked at Reasons #7, #6 and #5: To become famous, to inspire, and sometimes to gripe. But in answer to the question "Why blog?" today's post examines, David Letterman countdown-style ...

Reason #4: To practice writing.

I once knew a person who told everyone she was a writer. I think she told them this to gain their admiration, because, as far as I know, she'd never actually written anything.

Oh, she had good ideas for things she wanted to write, and when I first met her, I was quite impressed when she told me some of her ideas about the pieces she was supposedly writing. The ideas were inspiring and I was eager to read what she had actually written.

But after awhile I came to the realization that she hadn't actually done much (if indeed any) writing to speak of.

In my mind, if you want to actually be a writer, you need to do two things: 1) You need to do a lot of reading. Read good writers and think about why their writing is good, as you're reading them. And 2) You need to actually practice writing. A lot.

And a blog is, of course, a great way to practice writing. Think about it: You get feedback (hopefully) from people who read your blogs. If your writing stinks, you'll probably hear a lot of silence, and perhaps not get many, or any comments. (Yes, I realize that's awkward ... it probably explains some things about many of my own blog posts!) If you know how to access analytics on your blog, they'll also tell you that very few people are reading you.

But, if your writing is halfway decent, you'll hopefully get some readers, and possibly even some positive comments/feedback. And hopefully you'll also receive some good, specific and very honest feedback from friends who care about you, about what you can do better in your writing.

How great is that?

In my next blog in this series, we'll look at reasons #3 and #2 ... Why blog? To sell books, or to mobilize people for a noble cause.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why blog? Reasons #7, #6, and #5: To become famous, to inspire ... and sometimes to gripe

This is the fourth post in a new series I'm calling "Why blog?" In each day's post in this series, I examine one or more of the top 10 reasons people (including me) blog ... and what I have learned as a professional blogger and a corporate liaison to bloggers.

My last post looked at Reasons #9 and #8: Because it's there ... and in order to inform, or demonstrate (or establish) expertise. But in answer to the question "Why blog?" today's post examines, David Letterman countdown-style ...

Reason #7: To become famous.

Jorn Barger was an influential
early blogger, but his "Robot
Wisdom" blog no longer posts.
There are a few people who, because of the quality of their blogs or their expertise at whatever they are writing about, and also because of how they've leveraged their blogs to establish their name as a guru in whatever their subject is, have become famous in doing so. More power to 'em.

But, let's be generous and say there may be 1,000 such people out there for whom this is the case. Which doesn't sound like bad odds ... until you go back to what I said about there being hundreds of millions of bloggers. All the sudden, your odds of becoming famous by blogging plummet to at least 1:100,000. Not quite so great. Stick to playing the lottery, it's a lot easier.

I actually can't think of a whole lot of people made famous by their blogs. Matt Walsh is probably one, and I'm not sure he's a good example. (He describes himself as a "blogger, writer, and professional sayer of truths." He's far-right in the rather caustic vein of Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, and it's possible his fame — he's said to have some 40 million readers, though I wonder about that — comes as much from how "out there" he is as from his actual blogging skill. But I haven't read that much of him so I probably should stop there.)

Reason #6: To inspire.

Okay, this is a very noble, altruistic reason, right? There are bloggers out there who blog simply to uplift the human spirit. They are good writers, and they have the gift of encouragement. They have the ability to paint a vision of the way things should be, and to stimulate us toward that vision. In a world full of preachers, these are the Joyce Meyers, the T. D. Jakes, the John Pipers, or the Joel Osteens of the blogging world.

If you are a very inspiring person, with an uplifting message to share, by all means, please blog! We need you!

Reason #5: To gripe.

I rated this reason ahead of reason #6 (to inspire) simply because I feel more people are using their blogs to gripe than to inspire. There's something in the human spirit that has a need to kvetch. I've even succumbed to some of this myself. For instance, see my blog about the silverware tray on my dishwasher, titled: "Hell needn't be hot -- mere bad engineering will suffice." Yes, I wrote a whole blog post, just to grip about the silverware tray that came with my dishwasher!

And, surprisingly enough, it's actually one of my top 10 most-read posts! Go figure. I'm hoping this is because I tried to inject some humor into the situation when I wrote it, and not because people simply can't believe I'm wasting my time griping about a plastic tray in a dishwasher.

Hmmm ... perhaps "to make people laugh" should be another reason?

In tomorrow's blog, we'll look at reason #4 ... Why blog? To practice writing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why Blog? Reasons #9 and #8: Because it's there ... and to inform, or to demonstrate (or establish) expertise

Guy Kawasaki, one of  my favorite
bloggers and overall geek hero.
This is the third post in a new series I'm calling "Why blog?" In each day's post in this series, I will look at one or more of the top 10 reasons people (including me) blog ... and what I have learned as a professional blogger and a corporate liaison to bloggers.

The last post in this series looked at Reason #10: To make a buck or get free stuff. But in answer to the question "Why blog?" today's post examines, David Letterman countdown-style ...

Reason #9: Because it's there.

Okay, I admit this sounds like, and probably is, the silliest reason of all. What I had in mind was sort of that same reason that people climb mountains ... simply because it's a challenge. It's something that may be difficult, and if you succeed at doing it, you can look down at all the little people scurrying around like ants below and feel good about what you've achieved.

You can tell your friends, "I've got a blog. I'm a blogger."

The majority of the blogs in the world may actually fall into this category, I'm not sure. (Hopefully not mine!) And I'm guessing many of them don't blog very consistently. As part of my job, I scan through hundreds of blogs. I frequently run across blogs that haven't had a new post in 2 or 3 years. I think either the blogger died, or didn't have that compelling a reason to start blogging in the first place.

Reason #8: To inform, or to demonstrate (or establish) expertise.

I know, I've lumped a lot into reason #8. Actually, among my favorite bloggers are some news bloggers (like Jonathan Merritt's "On Faith & Culture" blog for Religion News Service) who are very good at providing thought-provoking news and analysis through their blogs. But a lot of people are very good at something very specific, which other people might like to learn how to get good at; and when they are good teachers/communicators, it makes for a winning combination for a blog.

There are a lot of bloggers out there, for instance, who specialize in technology. And people who follow the march of progress in technology, but don't have the time to go to all the conferences or read up on all the latest gizmos, can instead read their favorite tech blogger who can let them in on all their secrets.

Among my favorites in this category include: Guy Kawasaki (who has expanded the scope of his blogging far beyond mere tech); Gizmodo, Huffington Post Tech, Wired, Engadget and TechDirt.

I used to enjoy Robert Scoble but he quit blogging last August, saying "The world has moved on to social media." Hmmm. I think blogging (long form or medium form) is still an important PART of social media! Twitter would be inherently frustrating (at least to me, a writer) if you couldn't use it primarily to point to your medium- or long-form posts.

The blogger may be doing it because they love tech. They may also be doing it to make some money. See #10 above. Others of course may be doing it to establish their name as an expert in a given subject. See reason #7, below. And of course, many of the bloggers, such as the news bloggers, are getting paid for it as a part of their job.

In one more interesting example of a very entertaining blog based on expertise (with a twist of humor) ... you all have probably enjoyed listening to Car Talk on NPR. Did you know they have a blog? It's true. Here it is. I'm not a car guy, per se ... but this is all the more reason to be able to find good info on cars when I need to!

In tomorrow's blog, we'll look at reasons #7, #6 and #5 ... Why blog? To become famous. And to inspire. And sometimes, to gripe.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Why Blog? Reason #10: To make a buck or get free stuff.

In yesterday's post I introduced a new series I'm calling "Why blog?" In each day's post in this series, I will look at one or more of the top 10 reasons people (including me) blog ... and what I have learned as a professional blogger and a corporate liaison to bloggers.

In answer to the question "Why blog?" today's post examines, David Letterman countdown-style ...

Reason #10: To make a buck or get free stuff.

As someone who is fairly new to the field of blogging, I am astounded and amazed how many bloggers out there only blog because it's a way to get free stuff, or to make some money. There are thousands of (primarily women, it seems to me) bloggers who do product or service reviews of various sorts. Many of these go under the rubric of "lifestyle bloggers." In some cases they accept products or services in order to review them, and so their blog accumulates lots of free stuff for them. In others, they actually get paid to blog. Of course this usually only works if you establish a demonstrably large leadership, and for those who do, banner or keyword or sponsor advertising on the blog itself may also serve as a source of income.

One of the best known in this category is actress Gwyneth Paltrow's blog, "Goop." (In 2012, Goop made more than $1.8 million, although the company's expenses reportedly put it in the red.)

When I was in college I started a press association of Christian college newspaper editors, called the ESPA (Evangelical Student Press Association, not to be confused with ESPN!). My reasons in starting it were altruistic ... I wanted to create a fellowship of and help other Christian college newspaper editors. (At the time I was the editor-in-chief of The Chimes, which was the weekly student newspaper at Biola University in La Mirada, California, and later was elected to a seat on student government as publications director.)

But I soon discovered there were other cool perks in having one's own press association. For one thing, I could make and wear (and grant) press passes, which would get me and my friends into concerts and other events. For free! Of course I had to promise to review those events, but that was no problem. I also started getting copies of new books, which the publishers wanted me to review (and to provide my reviews to other newspapers in our association). This was of course a legitimate service which I could provide, so I had a clear conscience in accepting these perks. But these side benefits weren't in my mind when I started the association.

So, I understand where these bloggers are coming from. If I get enough traffic on this blog, I may even some day get a Google AdWords account and start making a little cash on the side. With more than 30,000 readers of my blogs, and having written more than 200 blogs already, it certainly wouldn't hurt to take the muzzle off the ox. So to speak.

But, for me, this will never be my sole motivation for blogging. I've already done the stint as a full-time, professional, freelance writer ... remember that job where you feel like you're doing well if you're making the equivalent of minimum wage for your time? (And no benefits!)

In our next post on this series, we'll look at reasons #9, and #8 ... Why blog? Because it's there. Or else: to inform, or to demonstrate (or establish) expertise.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Why Blog? (Introductory Post)

A little over a year ago, my job at World Vision underwent a fairly dramatic change. For the three years previous I had been working for World Vision's Media Relations department in the U.S., managing our website and social media platforms like Twitter, and doing (or managing) a little bit of blogging. I sort of functioned as an in-house tech guy, the one you went to with any technical question, and also managed interns and did whatever else was requested, mostly from a systems/operations standpoint.

But in January of 2013 my job changed as a result of some downsizing in our department. Because we were expected to do more with fewer staff, I found myself with two key new responsibilities: 1) To serve as World Vision's liaison to a large group of what we called "Tier 2" bloggers, pitching them ideas and providing resources as they wrote their blogs; and 2) To post or pitch content to online-only "news" sites such as BuzzFeed.

The blogging liaison role was the most challenging. Working with bloggers is a little like trying to herd cats. (I know, because I am a blogger, and I certainly don't want to be "handled" by anyone with an agenda, even if that agenda is noble and good. Hiss.)

I've so far experienced what I consider to be only limited success in this new role (new not just to me, but to the organization as a whole), but I have learned some things which have caused me to ask a fundamental question: "Why blog?"

The word "blog," of course, is a compound of the words "Web" (as in, World Wide) and "log" (as in, journal). And blogging has certainly taken off big-time the past decade or so. There are now, believe it or not, hundreds of millions of blogs worldwide. The latest stats I was able to find were in Wikipedia, which said that as of two years ago there were:
What may be the world's largest platform, Blogger, doesn't even reveal how many blogs it hosts. (This blog is hosted on Blogger, and the three other blogs I manage or contribute to are hosted on Wordpress.) And of course there are many other smaller platforms (such as LiveJournal). And there are people who "build it themselves," creating their own blogging functionality (a blog is essentially a series of posts presented in reverse chronological order, usually with the ability for readers to comment) on their own website.

And then the mother of all blogging platforms may be the microblogging technology, Twitter. Toward the end of 2014, Twitter averaged 288 million monthly users, who were posting an average of a half billion or so tweets per day. I myself created or manage a half dozen Twitter streams, with a combined "followership" of just under a million people.

And then, in addition to classic written blogs, now there are also interactive blogs ... vlogs which use audiovideo, etc.

So, obviously, a lot of people are blogging, in one form (macro, medium, micro, or interactive) or another. But why? What's the point?

I've decided to try and answer that question David Letterman-style ... counting down the top 10 reasons people blog. In subsequent posts, I'll tackle these 10 reasons one, two, or three at a time, depending on space:
I will also try to give examples, as appropriate, of some blogs I enjoy reading, in each category. So, stay tuned!

But before I dive in ... I wanted to give you a chance to share. Why do YOU blog?

240+ readers have enjoyed this series so far.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Dealing With ISIS: What Would Jesus Do?

Recently the debate between those who espouse nonviolence in all situations as the Christlike thing, and those who hold to the so-called "just war theory," has arisen again, what with the horrific specter of Daesh, or ISIS, running rampant in the Middle East and beheading Christians, left and right.

As one who followed closely (in college) the debate between Mennonite groups and other evangelicals about the proper role of nonviolence, as well as Jim Wallis and the Sojourner's Fellowship, I was interested to watch the debate (if it could be called that) between Wallis and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly on "The O'Reilly Factor" (on YouTube here). O'Reilly was pressing Wallis (who is a close friend and advisor to President Obama) as to how he would deal with ISIS if not militarily. Wallis was trying to make the point that I have read made elsewhere, that the only ones who can really deal with ISIS are the Muslims themselves, and that we should be resourcing, encouraging, equipping them in that task.

What that means, precisely, O'Reilly didn't really give Wallis a chance to explain, so in truth I'm not sure how that would work. But it's caused me at least to spend a lot of time thinking about where I stand on this issue. What would Jesus do, if confronted with ISIS? What would He recommend?

Principle One: Turn the Other Cheek

There are a couple of principles here that I think are important. First, Christ's instruction to not resist an evil person is clear. (We know He said, famously, "Turn the other cheek.") And He modeled this approach to violence against His own Person: While Scripture says he could have called a league of angels to His defense, as He was unfairly scourged and nailed to the Cross, He did not; but rather, willingly bore the violence.

Principle Two: The Role of Government to Enforce Justice

I think it's also inaccurate to make a blanket claim, on the other hand, that Christ opposed any form of violence. The Old Testament Law instituted some rather violent responses to violent crimes (a life for a life, for instance), in the context that it is a God-given function of the state to enforce that sort of justice.

And of course, we know that Jesus came not to abolish the Law as expressed by God in the Old Testament, but to fulfill it.

Hence, I would ask those who supposedly oppose all forms of nonviolence: Would you really and truly disarm all police officers who are authorized by the state to use force to protect you and your family and your neighbors from harm? Would you say they were wrong to shoot the ISIS terrorist who held a knife to your daughter's throat?

Everyone is someone's daughter or son. The just and right responsibility of the state is to maintain a police force and an army which is prepared to use force to protect the lives of its citizens.

I know that some have criticized the Southern Baptists' call to action against ISIS as being inconsistent with Christian teaching insofar as it implies a recommendation of use of force against them. And yet it seems to me this is a proper and right function of the state we are citizens of, to use its power to protect the lives of innocents who are being brutally murdered at the hands of savages like those who call themselves IS (and are called by others, Daesh).

Christian Tradition and the Just War

The Mennonites and other Pacifist groups might say that it is an evil to bear arms for any reason. Yet in so doing, they go against that orthodox Christian tradition, first elucidated by St. Augustine, which holds there is indeed such a thing as a "just war." Force should always be a last resort, and must be exercised only by the state and not by individuals (although it could be argued as well that a man or a woman using force in defense of his or her family is also justifiable, when there is no other option).

In this I'm with C. S. Lewis, a man who knew firsthand (as an infantry officer wounded in the First World War) the realities of the tensions of a just war. Lewis noted that the history of the Church is such that its fathers collectively teach the legitimacy of the sword being used by the magistrate to protect the common weal. And also that Paul approves of the magistrate’s use of the sword (Romans 13:4) and so does Peter (1 Peter 2:14).

What About Dwekh Nawsha?

Does this mean I support the formation of the Christian militia to fight Daesh (the "Dwekh Nawsha")? The answer to this question must be a qualified "no." While I admire the courage of those who would personally put themselves in harm's way in order to protect innocent suffering Christians in Iraq and elsewhere, I think it is ill-advised on many fronts. First of all, the militia is not an official arm of any state, whose responsibility it is to bear the sword. Secondly, to many observers they appear to be rushing in ill-equipped for a fight with an experienced and brutal enemy.

Of course my "qualified" no might be turned to a "maybe" if there were no state actors willing and able to confront ISIS, or else if Dwekh Nawsha had the potential to turn the tide against ISIS in the same manner that Dietrich Bonhoeffer seized and exercised the opportunity to assassinate Adolf Hitler (which was, unfortunately, unsuccessful).

In Whom Is Our Trust?

I do know that our greatest weapon (which we have certainly not yet used to the extent that we should) in this and any other battle, is prayer. God says that in such matters we are not to place our trust in military solutions ...
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
   but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)
And we should continue to boldly speak out on behalf of those innocents who are at the mercy of ISIS' evil ambitions. God calls us to raise our voices bravely for the sake of those who have no voice.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
   for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
   defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)