How Islam views women

Take a few minutes to educate yourself on how Islam views women.*
Using specific verses from the Qur’an:
• Sura 4:34 – Men can beat their wife.
• Sura 3:4 – Men can marry up to 4 wives… except Muhammad, he can marry as many as he likes (Sura 3:50). He married 12 by the way – one of whom was 6 years old when married and 9 years old when consummated (he was 53).
• Sura: 4:11 – Men get twice as much as women in inheritance
• Sura 4:31 – Women must “lower their gaze” as to not look directly at men.
• Sura 3:14 – Women are “a thing” akin to property.
• Sura 2:223 – Women are “a field to be plowed.”
• Hadith Bukhar 1:6:301  (a secondary source to the Qur’an)- Hell is filled 2/3 with women.
• Sura 19:27 – Muhammad thought that Mary was the “sister of Aaron” (mistaking her for Miriam… close; only off by 1,500 years or so)
Compare this with ANY teaching from Jesus about women:
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How Real Are You?

A Look at Todd Wilson’s book, Real Christian

The thesis of Todd Wilson’s book, Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith is right there in the title: if one’s faith is real (authentic), then there will be marks (evidence) in their life. Wilson tells his readers something they already intrinsically know: Jesus wants real follows that are sold-out, on-fire, and completely committed to Him. Anything less is not pleasing to the Lord nor is it conducive to successful disciple-making. In an increasingly fake world with disingenuous leaders spreading plastic ideologies, there has never been a more relevant time than now for this sort of battle cry.

I was reminded of the chorus in Daniel Bashta’s song, “I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus)”

Give me the real thing

Not just religion

Stir up my passion

With more of conviction

I want it all

Not just a portion

Give me Your presence

Not just some feeling

At the end of each chapter, Wilson includes resources such as, “Questions for reflection,” “Scripture to ponder,” and “Book to help you dig deeper.” One of the suggested books is Kyle Idleman’s not a fan. It is my opinion that Wilson’s Real Christian and Idleman’s not a fan should be sold together and considered required reading for any Christian longing to grow in the knowledge of the will of God. Absolutely required.

Titus 1:15-16 talks about those who profess to know God, but by their deeds, deny Him. If someone was drinking a huge sugary cola and smoking a big, fat cigar while he gave you health and fitness advice, would you take him seriously? Of course not, you would say, “Why would I listen to you? Who are you to tell me anything about health?” Now, if a fit person does the same thing, you may be more inclined to at least listen to them. They must know what they are talking about because their very physique is a testament. They must be doing what they are saying. The world knows a phony when they see one. If your actions do not match up with what you say, they will cry, “Foul!” and use the unbeliever’s favorite term for Christians: hypocrite.

Francis of Assisi is attributed with the famous quote,” Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Today we would say, “Talk the talk and walk the walk.” In Matt. 7:16, Jesus tells us, “by their fruits you will recognize them.” What is on the inside will be revealed by what is on the outside. The easiest way to know if a cherry tree is a cherry tree is if it has cherries on it. This concept is so simple that even a child can understand it.

Evaluating my life and assessing where I fall short of reaching these marks of maturity is a humbling exercise. Repeatedly (and sadly with such ease) I am quick to get angry. I can exchange sarcastic jabs with the best of them. It shames me how instinctively cruel I can be if I think I have been slighted. I am overly-sensitive, thin-skinned, and un-teachable more often than I care to admit. Pride rears its ugly head in my life far too frequently. Thankfully, God’s mercies are made new every morning (Lam. 3:23). We are all works in progress and God is still working on my progress.


Bibliography

Idleman, Kyle. Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2011.

Wilson, Todd. Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course DSMN 520: Spiritual Formation.

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40 Observations about Romans 8

40 Observations about Romans 8:

1. The chapter heading is, “Deliverance from Bondage.” This suggests that we were once in bondage, but Jesus delivers us from that bondage.

2. If we are in Christ, we are no longer condemned. The world doesn’t have the authority to condemn. We do not have the authority to condemn others. Only Christ has that authority and He does not condemn those who have accepted Him as Savior.

3. We are set free from the law of sin and death. We are no longer under the law, but Grace and the Spirit of life.

4. The law could never accomplish what Jesus can accomplish, because it is based on the flesh.

5. God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. God could have sent Jesus down in His heavenly glory, instead, He purposely met us where we are and how we are: of sinful flesh.

6. Jesus’s purpose was to be an offering for sin. Sin must be accounted for. God is holy and therefore, any trespasses must be paid in full. Jesus is the only one able to meet these trespasses fully and then some.

7. If you want life, set your mind to those things of the Spirit. If you continue to set your mind to those things of the flesh, you are continuing in death.

8. Whenever Jesus is mentioned, it is always about life, renewal, and love. It is never about death and hate.

9. Setting your mind on the flesh or the spirit is a choice. It is up to us to decide how we orient our thoughts.

10. (verse 7) “The flesh is hostile towards God.” I never thought of it in those direct terms, but it is so true.

11. If you continue in the flesh, you “cannot please God.” There is no wiggle-room here or any other way to interpret it. You cannot please God. Pretty cut and dry.

12. In order to belong to Christ, we must allow Him access to our hearts and life.

13. We must die to self. The body is already dead because of sin. Righteousness of His spirit is the only true life.

14. Verse 11 lets us know that it was the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave.

15. Verse 11 also lets us know that that same Spirit lives inside us!

16. Therefore, (verse 11) informs us that we have life inside our mortal bodies through the work of the Holy Spirit.

17. Paul uses the word, “obligation.” We are under obligation to live according to the Spirit (verse 12) since we have died to Him and He lives inside us.

18. The only way to truly live, is to die to the flesh. Sounds contradicting, but it is true: to live, we must first die… to self.

19. Paul says we “must” die (verse13). There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it: We must die.

20. If we are led by the Spirit, we are sons of God.

21. Again, it is a choice to be led. To have someone lead me is acknowledge their authority over me. I have to surrender to their direction and guidance.

22. If we are “sons of God (verse14),” then we have all the rights of a son. We share those rights with Jesus. We are more than servants, we are part of the household!

23. Our spirit is not one of slavery, but victory.

24. Verse 15 assumes that all without the Holy Spirit are living in fear. The Spirit brings us out of this fear forever.

25. The Holy Spirit uses the phrase “Abba!” This term actually means, “Daddy.” How intimate. This is the same term my 2 year old daughter uses for me. It is not the formal: Father. It is much more tender.

26. We are heirs with Christ and share in His inheritance.

27. We are no longer rebels, but partakers of God’s blessings.

28. If we are sons and daughters, then we need to start acting like it. Far too often, we act like we are still under slavery.

29. Verse 17 says that we will suffer. It is part of it. There is no ducking this part. Don’t be confused by suffering or surprised by suffering: It is coming.

30. If Christ suffered, how can we expect not to suffer? If the world hated Jesus, how can we expect the world not to hate us as well?

31. However, just as Christ is glorified, so will we be too because we are hidden in Him. As He is, so are we in God’s eyes.

32. The second section of Romans 8 is titled, “Our Victory in Christ.” Once again, even though suffer has been thoroughly explained and predicted, we are reminded that ultimately, Victory is experience in Christ.

33. We don’t know how to pray so the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. My prayers, far too often, are selfish. Even if it doesn’t directly involve me, it probably involves my family, my church, or my life in some way.

34. The Holy Spirit sifts through our hearts and minds and intercedes according to the will of God. Thank God for that!

35. Verse 28 is quoted all the time… at least the first part. “All things work for good,” but the second part is “for those who love God and are called to His purpose.” There is  more to it than, everything will work out! There must be love there and there must be a surrender to His purpose!

36. God calls people and then justifies them and then glorifies them. If God has called you, He has a plan and it is to bring Him glory in some form or another even if we cannot see it or understand it.

37. Verse 31, if we have God on our side, there is no one or nothing that can stand in our way.

38. God “freely” gives all things. He is liberal with His giving. It is free. There is no way we could pay for it anyways.

39. God freely gives “all things.” He doesn’t hold back. There is nothing that He would not give us according to His will.

40. Jesus sits at the right hand of God. That is a place of power. Also, one sits when one is finished with their work. Jesus sits now, because His work is completely finished. There is nothing more for Him to do.

 

What Romans 8 reveals about how/what we should believe about God:

God has set us free from the bonds of slavery. He liberates us from ourselves. He then allows us (former slaves) to come into His house and eat and live with His Son. More than that, He adopts us and allows us to have all the rights of sonship. It is truly a rags-to-riches story when one surrenders their life to Jesus.

What Romans 8 reveals about how/what we should believe about the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is vital to the believer. He searches our hearts and says the things we are unable to say as He intercedes on our behalf. The Holy Spirit replaces our fleshly spirit with the righteous of God and replaces death with life. Without Him, we would be living with a spirit of the flesh (and therefore, death) and also, unable to pray “the way we should.”

 

Lessons learned from meditating on Romans 8:

God gives blessings far and exceeding what any person could ever imagine. He takes miserable, rebellious slaves and makes them family. He freely gives all things to those who surrender to Him.

The Holy Spirit exchanges our faulty prayer life for one that is effective and according to God’s will. He replaces our fleshly spirit of death with one of life.

Jesus share His sonship with us. He sits at the right hand of God because He has the authority to do so and because His work is done!

Romans 8 is just jam-packed with amazing truths. It is a tremendous chapter. I think I will do my best to memorize it. I already have a lot of the verse memorized actually, but not in order like it is. These are famous verses, if you will. It would be beneficial to commit them to memory in order and precisely as it is written.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course DSMN 520: Spiritual Formation.

Posted in Bible, Christ, Christ Follower, Christian, Christianity, Church, Disciple, Discipleship, Divine, Evangelism, Faith, God, Good News, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Hope, Jehovah, Jesus, Jesus Saves, Love, MDiv, Ministry, New Testament, Not a Fan, Pastor, Pastoral Ministry, Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Salvation, Scripture, Seminarian, Seminary, Sermon, Spiritual Growth, Theology, Worship, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Missionary Monks

Missionary Monks:

Key Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Missionaries

            According to Ferguson, “before 1100, the missionaries were most often monks, not the ordinary clergy.” (Ferguson 2005, 357). So, the original missionaries were not priests or preachers as one might suspect. They were not professional missionaries in the sense as we define missionaries today either. They were monks.

Early key missionaries were Ninian and Patrick. Later key missionaries include, the Venerable Bebe (673-735), Willibrord (658-739), and Winfrid (673-754) [who was later named, “Boniface.”]

Applicable Monastic Strategies

            These key Celtic and Anglo-Saxon missionaries had the following strategies that we can learn from today. By far, the number one and most important strategy was the proper way one should shave one’s head (tonsure). Just kidding. I would have gone with a Mohawk. I’m not kidding. Anyways… according to Ferguson:

They placed their work under the pope. They worked under the protection of local rulers and with the support of the major domo (House Mayor or Mayor of the Palace-something like ‘prime minister’) of the Frankish kings. They offered a direct challenge to the superstitions of the people whom they sought to impress with the frailty of the pagan gods. They gave simple, practical catechetical instruction. They practiced mass conversion, gathering their converts for baptism at Easter or Pentecost. They organized dioceses with parishes. They instituted auxiliary bishops or revived chorepiscopi (rural bishops). And they established a sprinkling of monasteries that served as anchors for their work. (Ferguson 2005, 362-363).

It’s easy to see and history tells that the monks of this period were bold, friendly, and passionate. They did not sequester themselves up in some idyllic retreat as is portrayed in some Hollywood movies. In fact, they were quite the opposite. One of the tenets to Celtic Christianity for monastic life was, “Each Christian should communicate the gospel to others, so they exhibited considerable mobility. Pilgrimage (or wandering) was a penitential duty.” (Ferguson 2005, 356). Monks saw it was a duty to get out there and do missionary work. They were zealous and caring. Unfortunately, many were martyred for their faith and outreach to hostile pagan societies. They were pacifists as seen in one capitulary drawn from various councils between 742 and 747: all were forbidden to fight or carry weapons (Ferguson 2005, 365).

Also worthy noting: They worked among those they converted. Culturally, their “intellectual life flourished.” (Ferguson 2005, 360). Also, “art found stunning expression in illuminated manuscripts, most spectacular of which are the Lindisfarne Gospels (696-98) and the Book of Kells (c.800, perhaps prepared at Iona).” (Ferguson 2005, 360). Therefore to say that these missionaries were elitist and not cultured would be false. The early missionary monks had many admirable traits, customs, and strategies that the modern church would do well to adopt.


Bibliography

Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2 ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course CCHI 520: History of Christianity.

Posted in Christ, Christian, Christianity, Church, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Seminarian, Seminary, Theology, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Very Words

God’s Very Words

“So here’s the situation: no autographs (original manuscripts) exist and the manuscripts that do exist show many differences. What do conservatives hold to be inspired? Conservatives hold the autographs to be inerrant and infallible. How can conservatives claim to have God’s very words?”[1]

Every single Christian has heard this question. In fact, every single Christian (if they are being honest), has asked this question. How can we know that what we are holding is literally the Word of God delivered to man? How close is it to the original text? These pivotal questions can be answered several ways:

  1. Through Internal Evidence (the Bible, Itself).
  2. Through External Evidence (historical documents outside of the source material).
  3. Through Faith.

Let’s just go ahead and skip the last one right off the bat, because any skeptic asking the initial question is not interested in “Faith” as an acceptable answer. We’ll also need to skip “External Evidence” seeing as it falls well outside the scope of this blog post. So, that leaves us with the Bible.

There is profound truth in the classic children’s song, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” 1 Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (NASB)” If you believe that what the Bible says is true, then there you have it. The Holy Spirit moved humans to record words spoke directly from God. This scripture also points to the fact that prophecy cannot come from man, but from God. There are over 300 (fulfilled) prophecies about Jesus alone. This could not be accomplished by man’s intellect, but only by men inspired by God. Continuing on in 1 Peter 1 to verse 25, we read “but the Word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the Word which was preached to you (NASB).” The pure fact of the Bible’s longevity and staying power also clearly points to its supernatural source.

Just how close is the Bible we hold today to those elusive original autographs? Well, of the over 10,000 (!)* OT manuscripts we have, Fields reports the reliability of the Old Testament text as being 90% accurate. 90%! And addressing the discrepancies, Fields writes, “Of that 10%, the vast majority of variations are matters such as spelling that have no significant affect on the meaning of the text.”[2] Come on, man. 90% is pretty close considering the Bible’s 38 different authors writing over a span of almost two millennia!

* Consider this: There are over 5,700 NT manuscripts with less than .5% variance, and the earliest dates to within 60 years of the original writing. Compare that to Homer’s The Iliad, which only has 640 manuscripts available, none of which date to within 300 years of the original writing. However, no historian is questioning the legitimacy of The Iliad, are they?

The real question is why are we holding the Bible to such insanely high standards? Are people scrutinizing other old manuscripts with the same diligence and skepticism? Or would 90% accurate be indisputable evidence?


[1] Lee M. Fields, Hebrew for the Rest of Us: Using Hebrew Tools Without Mastering Biblical Hebrew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 43-44.

[2] Ibid., 44.


Bibliography

Fields, Lee M. Hebrew for the Rest of Us: Using Hebrew Tools Without Mastering Biblical Hebrew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course OTCL 505: Hebrew Language Tools.

Posted in Apologetics, Baptist, Bible, Blogging, Christian, Christianity, God, Hebrew, MDiv, New Testament, Old Testament, Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Seminarian, Seminary, Theology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A GIANT and a child’s song: The Conversion of Augustine

A GIANT and a child’s song

The Conversion of Augustine

            I know the conversion of a theologian from the Middle Ages doesn’t seem… interesting, but stick with me here and see how elegant God can be. What I learned about Augustine’s conversion is that God relentlessly pursues His children. Augustine had a ferocious intellectual appetite. He was obviously searching for answers to life’s big questions. However, every group or “-ism” he explored could not fully satisfy his need to know. He bounced around from intellectualism to skepticism to spiritualism.[1] His extreme range went from magic to monastic.[2] In today’s speech, I believe we would say that Augustine was “in his head too much.” What I mean by that is, he seemed to lead with his mind more than his heart. He had the tendency to side with his intellect over his faith. It is a tricky juggling act and an all too common snare for many intelligent people.

However, no matter where Augustine found himself, there was someone to guide him back to God. Whether it be Ambrose or Simplicianus, God had an agent ready to point Augustine to the truth of His Word.[3] When you step back and see the whole picture, it is obvious that God had a hand at every turn.

Ultimately, it was the sing-song turn of phrase from a child that wooed him over to faith in Christ.[4] Interesting that of all the giants of intelligentsia and academia that tried to influence Augustine, it was a child and her simple rhyme that finally pierced Augustine’s heart. After all, pride and vanity are man’s greatest obstacle. As he heard the child’s refrain of “pick up and read,” he just happened to have the Bible next to him open to the letters of Paul (Romans 13:13-14).[5] What this a coincidence? Of course, as anyone who has had any experience with the Lord can attest, there are no coincidences. This was a divine appointment. One wonders if this was a person at all, or actually an angel? Regardless, Ferguson states, “It was as if the Lord had spoken directly to him.”[6] This whole scenario reminds me of another letter from Paul, the one to his church in Corinth. Paul states, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). The year was 386, and Augustine would never be the same. This simple moment would have profound implications and send ripples of change through Augustine’s life leading to his being known as the “Architect of the Middle Ages.”[7]


 

[1] Everett Ferguson, Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 269.

[2] Ibid., 271.

[3] Ibid., 270.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 268.


Bibliography

Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2 ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course CCHI 520: History of Christianity.


 

Posted in Bible, Blogging, Christ, Christ Follower, Christian, Christianity, Church, God, Good News, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Jesus Saves, MDiv, New Testament, Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Seminarian, Seminary, Theology, Worship, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How would I hold up under Lethal Persecution?

Lethal Persecution and Theology in the Early Church

Tragically, the subject of religious persecution and martyrdom has become all too relevant for the modern Christian. As I have watched in absolute shock and horror the atrocities performed by ISIS, I have solemnly contemplated the following questions: If forced to either deny my faith or be executed, how would I react? If I denied my faith and was allowed to live, how would that affect my salvation? Would the Church ever take me back? Could it? Likewise, the periods of persecution under the yoke of Roman rule caused the early church to think about the doctrines of salvation and the church in the following ways.

There were two opposing schools of thought. Simply put, if a Christian denied their faith under persecution, either you believed they were still able to be saved or that they were forever condemned to be damned.

The first extreme believed that if a baptized believer succumbed to persecution and gave up their faith, then that person’s salvation was void. This faction was known as the “rigorists.”[1] Which (I’m certain I am not the only person who thought) sounds awfully close to rigor mortis. Rigorists would “teach the seriousness of sin and strengthen the faithful to confess during any renewal of persecution.”[2] This extreme, of course, was too unyielding allowing no room for God’s grace and mercy.

The other extreme believed if one denied their faith, but was penitent, that the apostate could be returned to full communion immediately. This faction was known as the “laxists.”[3] Which (I’m certain I am not the only person who thought) sounds awfully close to lackadaisical. Laxists would “restore the numbers of the church and strengthen the fallen in the face of further temptation.”[4] This extreme, of course, was too apathetic allowing no room for accountability and responsibility.

The obvious question is: Could the Church include Christians who denied their faith? Early Church leader, Cyprian solved the dilemma by recommending a third, less polarizing solution. He suggested a middle of the road approach that treated each instance on its own. He “made distinctions according to the gravity of the transgression.” Therefore, the Church would offer the needed steps required to re-instate Christians who had succumbed to persecution on a case by case basis. I’m sure Cyprian’s neutral proposal gave hope to those in a perilous situation and instilled strength to the weak. His solution was more compassionate and therefore, more Christlike.

As Christians are being ruthlessly executed for their faith all over the globe, let us remember that God is sovereign and that He takes care of His children. I pray that none of us are ever put in a situation where our lives are threatened. However, if we are, I pray for strength that can only come from Jesus.


[1] Everett Ferguson, Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 164.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


 Bibliography

Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2 ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.


 

Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course CCHI 520: History of Christianity.

Posted in Apologetics, Bible, Blogging, Christ, Christ Follower, Christian, Christianity, Church, Current Events, Disciple, Discipleship, Evangelism, Faith, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Jesus Saves, MDiv, Ministry, Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Salvation, Seminarian, Seminary, Theology, Worship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment