Okay, Lord, now I am embarrassed!
You sent a missionary across the pond in October to minister just unto me, and now again---same missionary, giving me another message I needed to hear. Thank you for using him to speak to me. Of, course.
Sadly, I don't remember the crisis in my life in October, and my computer crashed since then, so all the notes and blogs---well, maybe not all was lost. I will have to go back and look at my blog in October. I don't remember the crisis, but I remember the comfort that sermon gave me---as it was about one of my favorite stories of the woman who boldly walked into the male party and anointed Jesus' feet with costly perfume.
Jesus had to get in the disciples face and tell them to stop being horses asses. "why do you snort and fuss at her, Jesus said, she has done a good deed to Me." The snort word in the Greek is the word for a horse snorting.
Today's lesson was from Acts. And how Paul dealt with opposition. Acts 19:8 Paul spoke out boldly for three months. Some were hardened...for two years, all who lived in Asia heard. vs 11-20 records of miracles and riots, yet Paul writes to the Christians in Corith: "but I shall come to you...for a wide door has opened to me AND there are many adversaries." Note the word, AND, not but. Adversaries are a measure to success. normalcy. The NT presents opposition is normal, and it is part of the response the gospel provokes. Sometimes we get defensive. We think there is no opening, and we go silent. But, Paul speaks of opponents in almost every letter. His faith was born in battle. He devoutly opposed Christians, and God appeared and humbled him. Paul's faith was born for battle. Opponents within and outside. He was pioneer in the midst of a long religious tradition. And from the outside, Paul threatened the pilgrimage trade, to the temple to Diana. God opened a wide door of opportunity. Paul goes from 12 Christians in Ephesus to a large church, and effective church. ALL heard. Paul preached, persuaded, miracles, exorcisms, and the expensive sorcery books were burned at great cost to the owners. Acts 19:17 The fear of God fell on all. Christ was magnified, and talked about. Paul wanted to wade into the riot, and he directly engaged with Truth, persistently. thoroughly. Jesus, at his birth, it was told "for a sign to be opposed". As Christians, we are born again to be opposed. Some run to the conflict. Some are warriors. Some of us are reluctant warriors. 2Tim 3:12 we will be persecuted. And there will be the temptation to compromise--but, Jesus IS the One Way. The only Savior. There will be the temptation to lie or hide our light. or the temptation to fight back in ungodly ways with personal attacks, or ungracious remarks. There is the stereotype of the angry fundamentalist. How did Paul handle inside opposition from the Judiasers?
Handle internal opposition as graciously as with brothers and sisters. Yet firm. Confrontation over ideas, not personal attacks. Stand firm on the essential: trinity, Bible as our authority, use clairity and grace. Continually evaluate the essential. In Paul's outside opponents, like the institutional ones---Islamic governments, or the European Union, we are not to dehumanize the enemy even as they dehumanize us. Islam hates, and justifies that hatred from their Koran--they are instructed to hate Christians, Jews, and polytheists. Allah hates his enemies. There is NO command to love your enemies in Sharia law. As Christians, we love the people of other faiths, treating people with tolerance, patience, love, we are to return unfair with grace. It is not a fair fight, but we have God on our side when we respond with grace. God performs miracles. First Cor. 9:12 says we endure anything rather than allow obstacles to the gospel. A student stood up in one of Keith's talks and said put your family on one side, and I will put my family on the other and we will call on Allah to curse the one who is wrong. Keith answered, "no. I won't do that. My Savior commanded me to bless my enemies, not to curse them." "You go ahead and curse me. I think God wants us to deal with different evidence first. Consider these historical things about Christ." And the enraged student, breathed a sigh of relief, and sat down. And afterward, they talked for two hours! He had converted TO Islam and he had questions. Meet opposition with truth and grace. Truth and grace is powerful. (There is murder, revenge in my heart, Lord. Please remove it. It is not my job to punish my parents. You say so. Please help me show them grace and truth respectfully even if they see it as weakness. Only You, God, can protect all the women my dad comes in contact with from his inappropriate flirting.) God is performing miracles in Iran, and Egypt. Four million in Egypt have turned to Christ. In Sudan, Muslims trust Christ because they have seen the real Islam, and they want the real Christ.
Our God is not hindered by opponents. Our opponents need the gospel, not our anger. Satan is the real enemy. Satan and sin.
And conversation starters with Muslims: Do you have peace with God? Many Muslims are turning to Christ. Many Muslims are fed up with Islam.
Keith talked about how when debating calm, reasonable Muslims in a college setting, when asked what they think would solve the world's problems, the chilling response: "Islamic government over the entire world, re-establishing the Islamic calaphate."
Keith explained why the ancient texts are important. In the British Library, there is a copy of one of the oldest OT copies from 350 AD. Greek. Now online. The St. Catherine's monastery in the Sinai also has some of the pages from this Bible. When a scribe made marginal notes, or even erasures, the scribes were trying to help understand the text. Never change it. Whereas with the old Koran texts, there were 15 texts written compiled into one, and the original 15 destroyed. And while Muslims think their Koran is unchanged, it has, in fact been changed. The Muslims think our Bible was changed, and that is why Mohamed was given the Koran to replace the Bible, and the Koran mentions Jesus some 80 times, but denies the crucifiction, as well as the deity of Christ. Muslims say Jesus is just a prophet, not a Savior. There are sufi Muslims that think there are many paths, so they reject Jesus as the only way. But, it might help to point out Isaiah 53 to them and show how 700 years before Jesus was born, God declared what kind of Savior He would be.
Keith mentioned passion---how Muslims respect your passion, because they are passionate about what they think is the truth, and they respect passion about God and people. The PC crowd--appeal to the fact that we value critical thinking. We uphold a standard for all religions, and the Bible upholds that standard. Appeal to our right to our opinion. plurality. Let them know you do not want them to go to hell, and let them see that you are a serious Christian, and they respect that. Living out your faith, doing kind things gives opportunities, and go with what comes up in conversation, ordinary every day things---when presented with a family need, offer prayer. Go with topics they bring up because they love to discuss politics and to them politics and religion go together. Go with the root problem in the Middle East: sin. Satan. Jesus died on the cross---this is an historical fact confirmed by Josephus and outside Roman writers. Tell them Jesus died on that cross and rose again as a fact of history. And that I have looked into it. God has changed me. Use your personal testimony.
Jihadist Muslims are polite, calm, but push a political agenda akin to the Protestant Reformers...a passion for the truth and to get back to the best source.
Sorry this is a jumble, but I typed this from my notes taken at church this morning. I wish Joel and Alegria could hear Keith as they are going to be missionaries in a heavily Islamic place.
Missionaries from South Africa were there, and they appreciated the instruction on how to witness to Muslims in their country, as well as how to deal with the opposition from staunch reformed church stuck in their old traditions.
And this seemed to help me understand better ways to deal with the union thugs sent to combat the tea party protesters. We desire to live peacefully. And stand up for what is right and good. Maybe it is time to mix our relationship with Jesus and our politics! Because we believe our country was founded on Christian principles. And those principles need to be defended, respectfully, calmly, reasonably, without anger. And as an opportunity to talk about Jesus.