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ISIS: Do they really plan to win?

Photo source: Clark Atlanta University

Photo source: Clark Atlanta University/

Fighters from ISIS have shot and bombed and beheaded thousands in the last two years. We all know they attacked many innocent people in Paris France, and Russia has joined the fight in Syria. Now China is involved, because ISIS beheaded one of their citizens. The mess is starting to look like a small world war.

So do a few devout religious people in the desert imagine they can win against the whole world? The question is like a joke.

But they are winning, and they know it.

A recent article in the BBC asked the question, “Do terrorists really think they’re going to win?” The analysis includes ISIS, and yes terrorists can win.

ISIS can win because it is a religious movement. The trick is as old as the Bible; score a bull’s eye every time, just move the target.

Every religion has values. It wouldn’t be a religion if it didn’t. ISIS can win by wanting what they want, and not wanting what we want them to want. In better English, they can succeed by living their dream, and not yours or mine. Their target is not ours. I am not looking for a martyr’s death, and I don’t want to blow things up. I hope you don’t either.

The world threatens ISIS with death, and they welcome martyrdom. They have the attention of the world, we talking about them now. They are feared and famous; and they strike without warning anywhere in the world to make that point. The BBC claims they “sent shockwaves across China.”

We might think they want to conquer us all, which they cannot do. But they are conquering our minds.

I have spent most of my career working with new start-up projects, including new churches. From my experience, I see fanatical terrorists succeeding where the rest of us fail.

Every project has a goal, an internal definition of success. You must dream your own dream to find success.

I don’t know the leaders of ISIS, but I am certain that they know their own success. One reason they can’t be stopped is because the western world doesn’t understand that concept.

Our society is filled with advertising for materialism; we are constantly told what to want and we rarely form our own values. Our dreams are given to us. The Bible explained this long ago “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” (1 John 4:5)

Those people in the desert with a clear purpose are winning. It’s an uneven contest.

And this is a great lesson for us all.

I hope Christians everywhere understand that we must live with goals, or we will never win.

“We run to win a prize that never fades. That is the way I run, with a clear goal in mind. That is the way I fight, not like someone shadow boxing.” (1 Corinthians 9:26)


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