Category: Seminary

Foolishness

It’s been exhausting, but the Holy Spirit has finally given me the promised rest. I’m not sure why I had to wrestle for nearly a year, but the LORD works in mysterious ways, of that I’m certain.

Summarizing: My seminary’s required course in Christian Apologetics included mentioning/teaching the available logical arguments for defense of Christianity. This included an argument named after the Muslim that developed it. For reasons including the professor’s utterly shameful assertion, “You might be the smartest Christian someone ever meets” and the fact that I lost a war to Muslims, the whole thing did not sit well with me.

Shortly after that, in the media coverage of events happening in Europe and America there was a seeming surge in “Islamic” terrorism that peaked, for me, with the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom who thought I had at least kept the fighting at a distance–and now a Christian seminary student with a growing appreciation for the Word of God, both Jesus and the Bible–I finally picked up the Qur’an to see what it says first-hand. To my shock–and I cannot emphasize this enough–to my shock I learned, not that Islam is inherently violent, but that Muhammad had deduced Allah from the “god” of the Old Testament and New Testament (no different than a Deist deduces some manner of monotheism). And this was exceedingly troubling to me.

Worse than troubling me, it tempted me into foolishness. You see, I believed, and spent the last ten calendar months attempting to persuade others, that logic–or man’s wisdom–must be removed from Christianity.

To what end? In short, Christians that knew this already agreed with me. Christians that disagreed, remained unchanged. In other words, no one budged. I didn’t make a dent.

Then finally–finally, finally, finally–the Spirit spoke. What did He say? Turn with me now to 1 Corinthians 1:19 where these words are recorded, “For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever, I will set aside.'” Dum, dum,dummmm. Who destroys the “Wisdom of the wise”? The Living God. (How? Through his Word–both Jesus Christ and the Bible.) No man, not even me, can do it.

Therefore, I am officially done messing around with the wisdom of the world which God has made foolish. From now on I am preaching Christ, the Power of God and the Wisdom of God, but also the Weakness of God and the Foolishness of God. 

If you’re aware of the spiritual war, I encourage you to likewise limit yourself to preaching Christ too. To those who are called, Jews and Greeks, Christ. Arguments don’t save souls. The Blood of Christ does. Preach Christ. Christ and only Christ. Or as yesterday’s namesake put it back in 377AD-ish,

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

Amen.

Sacred Safety

WP_20170317_001

Today my pizza delivery adventures took me (on a delivery) to a hospital with an automated, high-tech, and brisk revolving door. *I think* this sign is supposed to warn parents that the unmanned, potentially lethal object (UPLO) may not “see” children as surely as it does us big people.

But I also couldn’t help notice that this sign looks like the famous scene from the Sistene Chapel–if viewed through the eyes of the pizza-loving, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo.

Does Three Semesters + Thousands of Dollars = Insight?

The combination of three semesters’ time and many thousands of your dollars  (via the post 9/11 GI Bill–thank you) every once in a while has resulted in some insight which is uncommon. I want to bring these to your attention as a “thank you.” Up for discussion in this post is “belief” vs. “will.”

This has been on my mind because I often ask fellow Americans, “What do you think about what’s going on with terrorism?” The response is often, “Well, we lack the will.”

The first time I heard that, I thought, “Hmm. That’s sounds about right. I don’t think I can argue with the fact that we have no national will.”

But then, forgive me, I was clicking around the news clips and stumbled upon an Imam preaching. Guess what he was dissecting? The need to have stronger “will.” Ruh-roh, Raggy! There is no way Islamic thought and Christian thought match up. And they don’t. Do you know how they diverge?

It has to do with the word “believe.” From the beginning, YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, required “belief” from the Israelites. Then the NT writers pick up the word “believe.” But what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ? What did it mean to believe in YHWH?

Two analogies ought help us. What if I said, “The walls of the house believe the roof”? Or, “Through breastfeeding, the mother believes in her child.” Can you understand the meaning of the word “believe” in those usages? Good. Because those two uses begin to capture the sense of the word. The Christian believes in Jesus Christ, not meaning that we assent to his existence, but that we uphold Him as Lord of all creation.

The nuance here that is often overlooked is that in the case of the house, the roof stops being a roof without the support of the walls. And in the case of the nursing mother, the child stops being a child (dies) without the support of the mother. This begs the question, “What happens if no one believes in Christ Jesus?”

Well, put bluntly, that is the million dollar question.

The Christian, the man or woman who upholds Jesus Christ as their King, believes He is King of Kings regardless of what people believe. On the other hand, the non-believer believes if Christians recanted en masse, Jesus would fade from history, and also that there is no resurrection or eternal life. (This should not be news to anyone.)

What was news to me, and maybe to you, is that as I did a word-study on “will”, I discovered the only “will” mentioned in the Bible is God the Father’s will. And His good and perfect will is all-powerful. That is to say, while the Bible acknowledges that we have wills, from the beginning we are commanded to align our will to His will. Most poignantly Jesus teaches us to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. YOUR WILL be done…”

In other words, strengthening our will for our will’s sake is not biblical. To call for a strengthened will is not biblical. Calling for a strengthened will is too worldly, it is too human. It’s similar to suggesting that we all do some push-ups in order to not die. Most starkly, to call for strengthened will is what Islam’s preachers do. Sometimes we’re not stopping the advance of that evil book because we’re preaching bad theology. This is why sticking to the Word is so important. It’s confusing out there.

So I have repented. I have changed my ways. I don’t talk about will anymore. Instead, I call for belief in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle Peter said to his hearers in Acts, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 

The Apostle Peter’s words speak to us still, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”

Belief in Jesus Christ is what saves us from our God’s wrath–not a strong will.

When You Say ‘Radicalization’, What Do You Mean?

The 1910 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica uses “Mahommedan Religion” to describe what we now call “Islam.” Times have changed so much that my 2016 spell-checker thinks even the spelling of “Mahommedan” is wrong–both times. Here’s how the entry opens,

“The Mahommedan religion is generally known as Islam–the name given to it by Mahomet himself–meaning the resigning or submitting oneself to God. The participle of the same Arabic verb, Muslim (in English usually spelt Moslem), is used for one who professes this religion. The expression “Mahommedan religion” has arisen in the West probably from analogy with “Christian religion”, but is not recognized as a proper one by Moslem writers.”

(As a grammar refresher, a participle is a verbal adjective. In English, it is usually an “-ing” word: running, walking, or in this case, in Arabic, Islam (“to resign/submit [verb] to Allah”) becomes Muslim (“resigning/submitting” [participle] to Allah”).

Before getting to radicalization, I want to take one moment to call your attention to the name change–or how no one says “Mahommedan Religion” anymore. My point is not to romanticize the past, but instead to suggest that we can benefit from the admission that there has been a change. And not just a change in names, but in the way we write–a change in our methodology. That little paragraph is very observational. The writer merely recorded what was going on. The writer was very honest. He admitted, “We say ‘Mahommedan Religion’, they say, ‘Islam’.” (period)

I cannot speak for you, but to me that kind of honesty feels as refreshing as a new pair of wool socks on a snowy winter morning in the Rockies.

On the whole, though, like the American prize-fighter Muhammad Ali demonstrated, I fully support letting each person decide their name. This should be no surprise considering the theme of my last two posts. At the end of the day, I just want to be able to swap stories and ask what you mean if I become confused.

And I am confused these days.

See, we hear the word radicalization more and more. In my social circles, I seem to be the only who is confused by this word.

By my thinking, radicalization is a distinctly non-Christian word. By my thinking, radicalization implies some form of neutrality at an earlier stage. And by my thinking, followers of Christ–those of us filled with the Spirit of the Living God–know that there is no such thing as radicalization. Instead, we believe that there is redemption. For we believe that all have sinned–even the terrorists.

There is no neutral–not in our story at least. I certainly was never neutral. I have only ever been in motion. And I think no matter what story you have believed up to now, you have only ever been in motion too.

I have been moving forward or backward or left or right my entire life. It was never a question of “should I move?” or “should I grow?”, but “which direction?”

Cars have neutral. People–not so much.

You want to use the word radicalization? That’s cool. But can you please tell me what it means? Because as of this moment, I can’t seem to ground your word except in relation to redemption. And redemption only comes from the blood of Jesus Christ.

If The Walls Could Talk

When I consider that I thought it both wise and beneficial to use my last post to explain how talking works, and when I further consider that I thought this at age 35 while in graduate school pursuing a so-called “masters” degree, I have to admit that I chuckle.

The other day H- pointed out that I’m in 18th grade. 18th grade and I finally understand talking. Nice.

Given that post’s unexpectedly pleasant reception, though, I figure I might as well keep sharing the results of all my schooling. On the docket today is one observation about education. Specifically, I’m intrigued by how, when discussing the recorded events of antiquity, we note that the assertions go like, “Aristotle was Plato’s student.” Less frequently they might say, “Aristotle went to the Academy.” And yet, even then, there is still some tacit agreement to add, “…where he studied under Plato.

Today, however, we don’t talk like that. Over the millennia, we’ve changed the way we talk about education. We now assert some generalization like, “I went to college.”  Or, “He studied recreation management.” Or, “She got her degree from KU.” On some level, these statements make clear and defensible claims; but on another level what they communicate is unclear and indefensible. This other level is the one I want to draw your attention to; this other level is the one that I believe the walls might talk about, if the walls could talk.

If the walls could talk, they might say, “Trust me, if there’s one fact I’m certain of, it is this: I have never taught you anything–nor will I ever be able to. I’m a wall.”

Put another way, I am half-way through 18th grade and I am happy to report that I have learned that walls do not talk.

Hereafter, then, if you announce that you ‘went to college’, then I’m going to ask who you studied under. If I don’t know your professors, I’m going to ask if you actually did. If you say you didn’t, then I’m going to ask how many more years of schooling you think it should take to learn to consider whether being educated by strangers in the name of “a better job” is wise.

I’m going to start asking these questions because after 18 years, it is clear that 18 years is entirely too much time spent learning what any six year old can understand.

But that’s just me. What about you? Do you understand?

 

On Talking

I’m wearing down. I’ve been studying Hebrew nearly all day. I figure I have one more round of flashcards in me after I write this. Then the big final is in the morning.

This wraps up my third semester of studying ancient biblical languages (though, unlike Koine Greek, Hebrew is alive and well). I love it. Really, I do. I even switched my degree program and concentration so that I take more languages. But I have one big beef with the way the material is being presented. Often times we are told something like, “So because of this, then, we know we’re working with a nominative noun, and that’s how we know he meant ‘ship’.” Or what have you.

That’s flatly wrong. Grammar does not give words their meaning, we do. Grammar is a tool we invented to help communicate meaning, but at the end of the day, we give words their meaning–you and I.

Words are not transcendent. They are here. They are mine and they are yours. They are me. They are you.

Do you understand my words?

We are each responsible for our words’ meaning. It’s not like there are a bunch of words floating around and we just grab them out of the air and order them in some aurally or visually pleasant manner–no. We have something to say (or not) and then we begin to utter the words within us. Where do we get new words? People. How do we know what the new words mean? People tell us.

Looking for fun in unexpected places? Join me in telling “men of letters” that they give their words meaning. Sheesh. It’s like I was arguing for flat earth or something. It is quite frustrating. The more “educated” someone is, the more they desire, perhaps unwittingly, to turn words into numbers. Folks want each word to mean one thing and only one thing. This desire and the attempt to manifest the desire is selfish. By calling it selfish, I do mean to communicate clearly that I believe it is downright evil.

To be sure, if you’re ever confused about what I meant, just ask. I will tell you what my words mean. If I’m confused and ask what you meant, then you tell me what your words mean. This back and forth is called talking.

Welcome to Erff.

Being Dogmatic Is Not Giving Up

Receiving WordPress’s latest auto-reminder email that suggested I need to renew this blog made me feel like WP was growing impatient and about to put another persuasive turn into the vice. That said, I gave in, spilled the beans, forked over the cash–however you want to think of it–I succumbed to the belief that my words might matter. Here is an overdue post to mark the occasion.

My Evangelical, protestant, Christian seminary might just embody the most defeatist attitude I have ever seen.

As some of you know, I began to notice this after the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando (which occurred after 9/11, which occurred after the first attempt to knock out the Twin Towers in 1993).

As well-read academics, the professors and most of the students are aware of the English language’s five letter word “dogma.” But I am convinced they do not know what it means. Do you?

All I would like to suggest here is that dogma has nothing to do with giving up. Here at school, dogma is treated as the thing at the end of the argument. The fail-safe. When all else–when all logic, when all argumentation–fails, the Christian simply declares, “dogma.” Come to think of it, it’s almost used like saying “uncle” when wrestling around with older siblings or cousins. (Or Uncle Bob).

This approach, dogma as the fail-safe, is a grave, grave mistake. Ohio State was another data point.

The Christian knows we have the victory in Christ. That’s primary and ever will be. Start there and end there. Never stray from there.

The tangible way to do this is with Christian love. With the only real love. With the love that is rooted in the Cross.

The conversational way to do this is asking questions until you demonstrated that you actually are listening and curious to discover what he or she thinks. Don’t stop when he repeats Wolf Blitzer or Obama or Trump or Clinton or Megyn Kelly (why is she in the headlines so much?) or John Stewart or Trevor Noah or John Oliver or whoever. I don’t even watch TV and I can’t help but hear what these people think. And I don’t care what they think. I don’t know them. Neither does the person you’re talking to. Keep questioning. Become an expert in listening.

It is our Christian duty to restore dignity to people. It is our Christian duty to announce the available redemption. This starts with Christ, not fails with Christ.

Being dogmatic does not mean giving up. It means honesty. It means integrity. It means that from the ‘get go,’ you proclaim, “I know my assumptions. Do you know yours?”

One final way I can offer to help re-frame ‘dogma’ in your mind is by comparing it to confidence. Think of any person you would call confident. Then ask yourself, “Would anything meaningfully different be communicated if I called them dogmatic?”

Michael Jordan = confident or dogmatic? Trump = confident or dogmatic? Obama = confident or dogmatic? Your pastor = confident or dogmatic? Your military members = confident or dogmatic? Joel Osteen = confident or dogmatic? Moses = confident or dogmatic? Muhammad = confident or dogmatic? Paul = confident or dogmatic? Martin Luther = confident or dogmatic? Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, any A-List Actor or Actress etc.

Confident living is not silent. Dogmatic living is not giving up.

Being dogmatic is not giving up. Christians, don’t give up.

Response To Pew Research Center Study On Why We’re Giving Up On God.

As you’re no doubt aware, we’re giving up on God. Why? The research group “Pew” knows.

If you’re a redeemed sinner, washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, and it pains you to see so many other sinners harden their hearts, close their eyes, and cover their ears, please keep reading. In response to Pew’s findings, I’m going to do my best to give you some tips on how to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with folks similar to those Pew surveyed.

(RFL is ‘reason for leaving’ and GR is ‘Gospel Response’.)

RFL 1: Learning about evolution when I went away to college.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about evolution. Not in an “evolution is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Harry Potter’s prowess in a quidditch match” sense. 

RFL 2: Too many Christians doing un-Christian things.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is literally the good news that un-Christian things can be forgiven. 

RFL 3: Religion is the opiate of the people.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. Good news is not a substance or thing that I put into my body.

RFL 4: Rational thought makes religion go out the window.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about rational thought. Not in a “rational thought is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about the fact that Batman’s costume switched colors from blue and grey to black over the years” sense.

RFL 5: Lack of any sort of scientific evidence of a creator.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about science. Not in a “science is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Christian Grey’s preference for BDSM” sense.

RFL 6: I just realized somewhere along the line that I really didn’t believe it.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally is the good news that there is hope–even if we don’t believe it.

RFL 7: I’m doing a lot more learning, studying, and kind of making decisions myself rather than listening to someone else.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about learning, studying, and making decisions by yourself. Not in a “learning, studying, and making decisions yourself is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Rocky Balboa’s decision to train Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son” sense.

RFL 8: I just believe that religion is a very personal conversation with me and my creator.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The ability to have a personal conversation with your creator is not good news. Muhammad had a very personal conversation with Allah. 

RFL 9: I don’t have a particular religion because I am open-minded and I don’t think there is one particular religion that is right or wrong. 

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The fact that you can have an open mind and/or choose to not condemn a certain religion as “wrong” is not good news. Muhammad didn’t condemn a certain religion as wrong; he just agreed that other religions were on to something. Being “on to something” is not good news, either.

RFL 10: I don’t have time to go to church.

GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a calendar event that you find time for in the same sense that bad news is not a calendar event that you find time for.

To Lighten The Mood

Two slaves to the Qur’an walked into a bar. No, wait. It was a Christian church in France. And they killed a priest.

President Obama says Islam is one of the great religions.

Nothing to see here folks. Just make sure you DVR your programs tonight so you don’t miss a moment of the illusion that nothing is the matter.

On to the promised lightening of the mood.

****

This morning after H-‘s piano lesson, we were walking to our car when a police car slowed as it drove by. The officer rolled down his window and said, “I just wanted to let you know there is a dog on the loose that is biting people.”

I said, “Thanks. We’re outta here anyhow.”

He waved and went on his way.

H- asked, “What’d he say?”

I answered, “Apparently there is a dog on the loose that is biting people.”

H- said, “Oh.”

About five minutes into our car ride, H- admitted, “I didn’t know dogs went to jail.”

****

Better than any light than H- can shine is the one that emanates from the Lord and Savior of the Universe, Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).”

Get Behind Me, Satan

Heavenly Father, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, I beg for mercy, for I am a sinner.

The context of this homily’s title is below.

Matthew 16:20-23 reads, “From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God (Yahweh), but the things of men.”

Let’s talk about Peter. He was the disciple from whom Jesus rebuked Satan. Then the resurrection happens and Peter changes (repents) his tune. Here’s account recorded in Acts.

Acts 2:1-14 reads, “When the day of Pentecost came, they (the believers who came to be called Christians over time) were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of a fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem God (Yahweh)-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound rang out, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking his own language. In wonder and amazement, they asked, ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? How is it then that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,a Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism; Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God (Yahweh) in our own tongues!’

Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’

But others mocked them and said, ‘They are drunk on new wine!’

Then Peter stood up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and addressed the crowd: ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen carefully to my words. These men are not drunk as you suppose. It is only the third hour of the day!‘”

Christians, like the Apostle Peter, we need to stand up, lift our voice, and address the mocking crowd.

Have you seen that Islam hasn’t violently attacked the West yet today? Do you feel safer?

I don’t. And because I don’t I’ve been trying to figure out why not. My investigation has led to the development of a litmus test regarding the recent terrorist attacks and Islam. Ask your friends and family members if they are interested in defeating Islam/Terrorism through non-violence. If they respond, “Non-violence will never defeat Islam/Terrorism,” then you know whose side they’re on and need to preach the Gospel. If they respond, “It isn’t Islam/Terrorism that’s the problem,” then you know whose side they’re on and need to preach the Gospel. If they respond, “Yes,” then preach the Gospel.

As a refresher, the Gospel is the history of the Jews as recorded in the Old Testament culminating in Peter’s explanation to the Israelites who heard “Yahweh”–their god, and only their god–when Peter says God in Acts 2,

“Men of Israel, listen to this message: Jesus of Nazareth was a man certified by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. He was handed over by God’s set plan and foreknowledge, and you, by the hands of the lawless, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, releasing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held in its clutches.

David says about Him:

‘I saw the Lord always before me;

because He is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad

and my tongue rejoices,

my body also will live in hope,

because You will not abandon my soul to Hades,

nor will You let Your Holy One see decay.

You have made known to me the paths of life,

You will fill me with joy in Your presence.’

Brothers, I can tell you with confidence that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that He would place one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, to which we are all witnesses.

Exalted, then, to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,

Sit at My right hand,

until I make Your enemies

a footstool for Your feet.’”

Peter then concludes,

“Therefore let all Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ!”

Hallelujah and Amen!

Let’s keep talking about truth. To do this, I want to ask a question. This question should be simple, but I’ve come to realize that we’re inclined to make it difficult. Resist the inclination. When I announce that I love pizza, as I have done many times, does that mean that I love food? In other words, when I say, “I love pizza,” can you declare, “Pete loves food.” Please resist complicating this. When I declare that I love pizza, does that mean that I love food? The answer is no. That I love pizza does not mean you can tell me (or any others) that I love food. The reason you cannot, is you do not have enough information, at least not yet. All you know so far is that I love pizza.

The truth is, Muhammad, via the Qur’an, lied when he told the world that Moses and Peter loved god (Allah) because he (Muhammad) knew that they worshiped their god (Yahweh/Trinity respectively). Muhammad lied. Muhammad invented Allah, the same way someone invented 0 and another person invented the airplane. 0 and the airplane and Allah do not exist in nature. The Trinity does exist. All glory be to the Blessed Trinity.

As a sidebar, all this talk of that cheesy, bready delight has me wondering, did you know that, “Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:35)?”

Christians, I’m teaching you about the truth because I’m worried about you. I have heard you say, “Well, religion is a personal matter,” when asked about Islam.

Religion is not a personal matter. Religion is the most public matter there is. Moreover, I believe the Triune god of Christianity calls me to tell you religion is the most public matter there is. “What makes you believe the Triune god called you to tell us this?” you ask. That’s a fair question. Consider that the historical record indicates that the Holy Bible was written over the course of at least 1300 years and has around 40 unique men. Then consider that the Qur’an was written within only one lifetime, by only one man. Do you see?

Unlike Christianity’s claim that religion is the most public matter there is, Islam began after Muhammad demonstrated that he thought religion was a personal matter. But Muhammad is dead and buried. And Christianity claims that the entire Holy Bible is the story of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected (marvelous to relate). Yet, We’re still living. While you’re alive are you siding with Muhammad or with Truth? Is religion a public matter like Christianity suggests? Or is religion a private matter for folks to tinker with in their free time like Muhammad suggested?

Your words matter. So be careful what you say, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).”

Finally, if you’re with Truth, if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, it’s clearly time to defeat Islam. How do we do it? Paul tells us how in Ephesians 6:17, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of (the Triune) God.”

To my mind, this command, taken together the public nature of religion, entails reading the Holy Bible out loud.

Do you belong to a church? START a ministry called “Ephesians 6:17”. CREATE a sign-up sheet (the internet should make this part easy), and EXHORT Christians to sign up for 30 minute blocks of time to read the Holy Bible from Genesis through Revelation (then repeat), around the clock. INVOLVE the kids. They can’t read well as it is–this will be good practice for them. DO NOT let Satan bog you down in the details of which version. Whichever version the believer can easily read is the one to use (I think you’ll like the NIV, but, again, just READ.) For children, consider the New International Readers Version or New Century Version if you haven’t heard of them. They’re both the complete Holy Bible (unlike some Bible-based storybooks that are out there), they just employ, der, use an easier vocabulary.

I haven’t enacted this at my church yet (the ideas are coming fast and aplenty these days), but I’ll let you know the logistics which we work out as we work them out. The goal is 24/7, eternal flame style, reading. I believe the goal is worthy and practical, but I am not sure that is how it will begin with 24/7 application. And I’m not talking loud speakers. Just someone reading at normal reading volume all the time.

Lastly, never and I mean, never forget, “But thanks be to (the Triune) God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:57-58).”

Heavenly Father, ANOINT us with Your Holy Spirit. GIVE us strength and wisdom–not the idea of strength and the idea of wisdom–but real strength and real wisdom. We ask that you Give them to us for use right now! Father Almighty, not tomorrow. In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, we ask that You SOFTEN our hearts so that we can understand that with Islam, like lust, our minds (our imagination), not our bodies, are the home of the abhorrent sin. MAKE the very earth beneath our feet and the very unstoppable bullets we formed from that earth with our own hands, in order to kill each other, REMIND us that the world You created is more real than any of the worlds we can imagine. REMIND us of this as we, like Peter before us, stand and lift our voice against both Islam and the false idea of an Allah in whatever form it manifests itself. LET the Truth of Jesus Christ shine from us like Light upon darkness as we endeavor to accomplish Your will. Amen.