Tag Archives: Islam

When I Picked God For My Kickball Team.

This blog is about missions, and about living a missional life. It’s also about photography, but not this time. The world is at a crossroads today; a turning point that has never been seen before, and a turning point that the church will either lead or fail miserably. The choice is entirely ours, but first we have to understand the choice.

I’m going to skip around history today to try to connect the dots. Let’s start with the great commission, the last words Jesus said before he ascended into heaven. “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Many in the church seem to think this is optional today. We feel that the church is more about being on the right side of things; about defending territory that’s already won. In building on the last blog, many think openly that there is God’s team, and there is everybody else, especially Muslims. I am certain that many reading this blog feel that way. 

Let me go back to more than twelve centuries before the great commission. Joshua was about to lead his army into the promised land, and the attack on Jericho was coming close. A man (who turned out to be an angel) appeared in front of Joshua, and a very telling conversation happened.

“When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.”

We have deluded ourselves today into thinking that God is on our side. I can assure you, He is not. The question is whether we are on His side. We are confusing God’s faithfulness with our own worthiness. The former is infinite. The latter doesn’t exist. It’s as if we think all the nations of the world got together for a kickball game, and we picked God on our team. God doesn’t play on our team. He is the whole game, and we exist for His glory, and not the other way around. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that He has blessed us with salvation because of something that we’ve done. The book of Romans is pretty explicit about this subject.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  This takes away any idea that we are saved because of anything that we’ve done. We do what we do in the name of Christ because we have gratitude for what He did for us, and not because we fear we haven’t done enough. If we keep this attitude, the ideas of “Us” and “Them” suddenly disappear, and we realize that we are ALL fallen people, and we realize that we need to do what Jesus called us to do; to go to every part of the world and tell people what He did for us. Some preach, some teach, some do engage in humanitarian endeavors, some stay home to make it possible for others to go, and some use other skills. “What is in your hand?” is the question that God asked Moses. With that question, God used the staff that was in Moses hand to free his people. What is in your hand?

This brings us to the turning point the world has come to. Islam has always been a violent religion. Few people with a knowledge of history will dispute this. Lately though, radicalization has become even more pronounced. I believe this is an indication of the devil working harder because of an imminent defeat.

There are radical changes happening within the Muslim world. When we go into the Muslim world, we hear stories of Muslims having visions and dreams of Christ when they’ve never heard the gospel before. These are not unusual stories anymore. They are becoming more common. This is because the field is ready for harvest. The only reason Islam has had such a stranglehold on the area it has for the past fourteen hundred years is because of  a control of information. The penalty for reading a bible in many places has been, and continues to be, as severe as having your right hand shredded, or even execution. We live in a world now where it is getting harder and harder to control information. I have seen where my blog is read, in places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and many other places where a lot of the information I write is considered forbidden.

This is a phenomenon that can’t be stopped. You can censor the internet, but you can’t do it completely. People who are questioning Islam now have access to the information that they never had before. The gospel is reaching the Muslim world, and the only one who can mess this up is……. The Church.

The Muslim world can not only see the Gospel, they can also see your attitudes about them. Every time someone posts an article about how Syrian refugees should stay home, or how Muslims are on the losing side and God is on our side, we display our arrogance and self-righteousness and the idea that somehow we are more deserving of salvation than they are. God is currently spreading His redemption to places where it hasn’t existed in a long time. I would not personally want to be the person who stood in the way of that. To conclude, I’d like to quote a parable of Jesus. I’d also like to point out that these parables were written down because the writer knew they would continue to apply to us, and not so we could look back at people in history and look down on them.

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Let’s go ahead and be glad if the Muslim world is exalted in the end, but let’s not find that we had to be humbled in the process.

A woman walks down the street in Harar, Islam's fourth holiest city.
A woman walks down the street in Harar, Islam’s fourth holiest city.

The Name’s Satan, But You Can Call Me “Pud”

I’ll start off by saying, some of you aren’t going to like this post.

Imagine if you knew your imminent execution was coming by a horrible means, and once a  predetermined set of criteria had been met, your execution would be carried out without further delay. Now imagine you’ve got an army that you can command from your prison cell. What would you do? You would of course command that army to do everything in its power to make sure that set of criteria did not come to fruition, or at least put it off as long as possible.

The reference in the title is to a 1939 movie, “On Borrowed Time”, based on a novel by Laurence Edward Watkin, in which death is trapped in an apple tree until he is let down. With what is going on recently in Syria and Iraq with Isis slaughtering everyone who won’t convert to Islam, I have become convinced until someone proves otherwise that Islam’s sole purpose on this earth is to delay the return of Christ, and by extension, stay Satan’s execution.  Does that concept make you angry? So be it, but prove me wrong. It seems the more vile and violent Islam becomes, the more people insist that Islam is a peaceful religion. “Thou doth protest too much”, is the line from Macbeth. Faith is the evidence of things not seen, but stupidity is looking at something right in front of you and insisting that it’s something entirely different.

The criteria of which I’m speaking is multi-faceted, but specifically I’m talking about the verse in Revelation that says, “After this I beheld, and, see, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” The verse indicated that before Christ comes back, there will be followers of Christ from every tribe, language, and nation. Every time Islam moves into an area, they try to eradicate Jews and Christians. (Afterward, when the Jews and Christians are gone, they turn on each other, but that’s for a different blog). Once again, don’t like what I’m saying? Prove me wrong. From the Pakistani kid I went to school with who said he wanted to kill Salmon Rushdie, to the girl at college who had to flee Kenya because there was a price on her head for converting to Christianity, to everyone I know in South Sudan who lived most of their lives under the oppression of the Islamic state there, no one seems keen on showing me the other side. From the Philippines to Indonesia to Iraq to North Africa, I’m not sure it would be possible to count the number of groups trying to set up an Islamic theocracy. Am I making you angry yet? As angry as it makes you that in Syria and Iraq Christian children are being systematically beheaded? If you read the newspapers, they’re never listed as Christian, they’re always listed as “minorities”. No one will look at the issue.

It is time for the church to wake up and realize the spiritual battle that it is in. Much of the church doesn’t believe that it is in a battle. It’s time to look around. Some friends of mine just got back from Kenya where among other things they witnessed an exorcism. Some of you are saying to yourselves, “there’s no such thing as demons, that stuff doesn’t happen.” Well, the only difference between those oppressed by demons in Africa and those oppressed by demons here is that in the west, we’re content to live with our demons. It’s time to stop settling and start living the lives as more than conquerors that we are promised.  It’s time to start engaging the battle, and putting more effort into saving the world through the gospel than the effort Isis is putting in to eradicate it. It’s time to start freeing people with the love of God, and that means going to the places where Satan’s army has a stronghold. Satan knows that someday Mr. Brink is going to get let out of the apple tree, and when that day comes, it’s his last day. Let’s do everything we can to make that day come sooner. It’s time to stop living in fear, time to stop worrying about trying to be politically correct. It’s time to stop worrying about what the neighbors think. It’s time to stop ignoring the spiritual warfare going on around us and start taking part. Just because you refuse to engage with the battle going on around you doesn’t mean you will survive, and you certainly won’t do any good. Let’s convert more from Islam with the love of God than they convert to Islam with the barrel of a gun. It’s time.