Thursday, June 7, 2012

At Home with Muslims

 I grew up in an isolated Christian village in Canada. It was in my school textbooks and National Geographic that I first saw pictures of mosques, women in Burkas and men dressed like Jesus.  It seemed strange and far away.

In my twenties I went to Reformed Bible College.   One professor who had ministered in the Middle East for 12 years,  taught a courses in Islamics. His heart for the Muslims inspired mine. For the first time in my life I wanted a world map on my wall.
I also wanted to go as a single missionary to the Middle East.  God closed that door,  but I did not forget the Muslims.  Homeschooling,  we would read aloud stories of missionaries who had gone to the Middle East.   One of our favorites is Tales of Persia by William M. Miller.   A more recent publication is Tales That Teach.  For a number of years we prayed for Yemen, and we supported a missionary family in Pakistan.
When we moved to the Twin Cities, I discovered that there are about 70,000 Somali Muslims here, as well as many Muslims of other ethnic groups.
If this seems foreign to you and to your children, here is what you can do right now:
John Folmar  says of this of witnessing to Muslims  (and in my experience this is true):
... I find it's much easier to talk to a Gulf Arab about Jesus than it is to talk to another American about Jesus. Muslims claim to revere Jesus as one of their prophets, and their culture and language are infused with religion, so it's simple to talk with them about religious things, correct misunderstandings, and proclaim the good news.
Feeling at home with Muslims will take time. And lots of prayer.  We need to understand what they believe in order to answer the lies they have been told.  Some of the best tools to teach you how to witness to Muslims are
If this seems too hard, hear Spurgeon talk about the great commission:
 'I will do as much as I can,' says one. Any fool can do that.  He that believes in Christ does what he can not do, attempts the impossible and performs it."

I used to only see Muslim women in pictures.  Now I see them in my rearview mirror, walking down my street and at the drug store.  My heart is stirred.  I want to welcome them to this land that seems strange and sometimes hostile to them. Most of all, I want to extend the welcome of Jesus who said, "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."

Spurgeon on War

When thou sleepest, think that thou art resting on the battlefield; when thou walkest, suspect an ambush in every hedge. —C.H. Spurgeon

Tears in the Morning

Watch this video -- even if you don't have time to read the good article.   An orchestra on the train?

Good Answer

"[Tim] Keller was addressing the cultural objections people have to the Bible, e.g. sexual mores, marriage, patriarchy, etc.  He pointed out that what his audience in NYC would consider oppressive sexual ethics would be considered liberal in the Middle East.  He asked them to consider what culture 100 years ago would not have objected to in the Bible that they object to, and what they don't object to now that may be considered ignorant and backward by their great grandchildren.

"He said if the Bible is from God and not from culture, wouldn't we expect that it would conflict with every culture at every time?  And that is what we see.  If it was produced merely by men living in a particular culture, it would reflect a particular culture rather than conflict with it.  So rather than cultural objections working against the Bible, it's actually an indication that it stands outside of culture  And that's a line of argument that the Bible is from God, not man."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Answer to a Question

What do you do when someone sins against you but will not acknowledge it?  Someone asked me this recently and this was my answer:

Dear friend,

I do believe that God at times brings a number of difficult things together in our lives when he is about to do something deep and good.  Have you ever heard the prayer of Puritan Samuel Rutherford?

"Lord, cut,
Lord, carve,
Lord, wound,
Lord, do anything
that may perfect
Thy Father's image in us
and make us meet for glory."

It is a hard prayer.  I have prayed it more than once.   It shows a heart more ready to be purified than comfortable.   And that, of course, is uncomfortable.

If I were you, I hope I would begin by thanking the Lord for the trials.   Perfume is only extracted by crushing the petals of the flowers.

Secondly I would ask God to search my heart, to try my thoughts to see if there is any wicked way in me.  (Ps. 139)   We are all much worse than we think, and Christ said that we could not even accurately see the faults of others until we had opened ourselves to God's searching eye upon our own sin.  I once prayed those verses from Psalm 139 for one month, and God was very faithful to show me sin that I never knew I had.   It was healing to own it and confess it.

Next I would pray for clarity about what is sin on the part of my neighbor. Sometimes we have misjudged or judged without charity.

I have recently been reading Jonathan Edwards's Charity and Its Fruits.  It is worth its weight in gold --and more.  Though I have not finished it yet, what I have read has provided conviction of sin and a deeper desire for godliness.  I would highly recommend it.   

Here is what Edwards says about censoriousness:
"....censoriousness judging evil of others when evidence does not oblige to it, or in thinking ill of them when the case very well allows for thinking well of them; when those things that seem to be in their favor are overlooked, and only those that are against them are regarded, and when the latter are magnified, and too great stress is laid on them."

If we conclude that we have indeed been sinned against, then we should pray for God to help us to be long-suffering.    Let me quote Edwards again:

"He, therefore, who exercises a Christian long-suffering toward his neighbor, will bear the injuries received from him without revenging or retaliating, either by injurious deeds or bitter words.  He will bear it without doing anything against his neighbor that shall manifest the spirit of resentment, without speaking to him or of him with vengeful words, and without allowing a vengeful spirit in his heart or manifesting it in his behavior.  He will receive all with a calm,undisturbed countenance, and with a soul full of meekness, quietness and goodness.  This he will manifest in all of his behavior to the one who has injured him, whether to his face or behind his back.... We should not cease to love our neighbor because he has injured us.  We may pity him for it, but not hate him for it.... The duty we are speaking of also implies that in many cases, when we are injured, we should be willing to suffer much in our interests and feelings for the sake of peace, rather than do what we have opportunity, and perhaps the right to do in defending ourselves."

This does not mean that rebuke is never in order.  And neither do we need to gush over this neighbor as if they were a long-lost friend.    

Isn't this amazing stuff?  I think it would greatly benefit you to read and perhaps journal  though Edwards.  Another book that comes to mind is Mute Christian Under the Rod  ($5.00 at Reformation Heritage Books).  It is a book on how to benefit from trials in our lives.

Let me know if this helps at all.  If you have more specific questions, shoot me an email or give me a jingle.