Monday, November 30, 2009

A Vision for Team, by A.H.

Here is one man's dream for healthy teams and effective ministry, called A Vision for Team.  His "5 Areas of Togetherness" that build or indicate health include a team that:
  1. Lives together
  2. Grows together
  3. Works together
  4. Prays together
  5. Plays together
"Build a healthy team, and you will have an effective ministry."

Read the whole thing (4 pages).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eid al Adha

Eid al Adha or "Festival of the Sacrifice" is coming up on Friday.  The cause for the celebration is the remembrance of Ibrahim's near sacrifice of his son in obedience to Allah.  I heard some local MBBs in our country consider this Eid to be their "Easter" and the Eid at the end of Ramadaan to be their "Christmas." Ramadaan celebrates the giving of the Word or Qur'an- the local MBBs celebrate the giving of the Word of God who is Jesus (An Nissa 4:171; Al Imran 3:45). 

This Eid is a special time for followers of Jesus to witness.  Here are two simple points I generally make during Eid al Adha:

1. The Qur'an tells the story of the sacrifice by ending with "we redeemed him with a great sacrifice" (As Saffat 37:107).  (Arabic: وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ)  During this time I often tell the shaddah from the Injeel: "There is no God except God and no mediator between him and between the people except the man Christ Jesus who sacrificed himself to redeem all people" (1 Tim. 2:5-6).  I ask them "How can the ram be considered "great"?  Who is great except God alone?  The Messiah is our rescuer who sacrificed himself in our place for our redemption.
2. As you may know, the Qur'an calls Mohammed the "seal of the prophets" (Al Izhab 33:40). (Arabic: خَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ)  Muslims take this to mean that Mohammed is the last, superseding, and ultimate prophet of God (who in effect makes all previous prophets irrelevant).  Taking this phrase, I call Jesus the "seal of the sacrifices" (Arabic: خاتم التضحيات).

Generally, using this phraseology from the Qur'an has been helpful for me.  I am interested to hear if it is helpful for you or even what you think about it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gospel in Three Words

The gospel in three words: "

“Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.”

—J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: 1993), 214"


What would be your 3 word definition?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hajj Paves Way to Paradise

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Hajj Paves Way to Paradise: "Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "The performance of `Umrah is expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous ones. And the reward for Hajj Mabrur (pilgrimage accepted by Allah) is nothing but Paradise." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 27, hadith no. 1)"

I want to look up the Arabic word for "expiation" in this verse- does anyone know of a good online Hadith viewer that shows Arabic-English?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Authentic Publishing Offers Free Missions eBook Download (Brigada)

Authentic Publishing offers free missions eBook download: "To serve global Christian community and accommodate the growing demand for digital books, Authentic Books is now offering titles in e-book formats through

Their Marketing Dir., Mike, wrote recently, “Our passion is to equip the missional community with great content. With our e-books, people anywhere in the world have the ability to select a book and be reading in seconds.” Dworak sees digital formats being particularly useful in areas of the world where print titles are unwieldy or too expensive to order and ship. And in countries that restrict access to Christian materials, digital downloads can provide isolated believers with essential resources. To celebrate the launch into e-publishing, Authentic is offering visitors to its website a free ebook and a monthly e-newsletter. Books come with a satisfaction guarantee and will be replaced free if customers are not happy with them."

Here are 4 of the 9 books they are offering for free:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Identity and Community

I have been thinking a lot about "identity" recently.  So as I was reading Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community (2008), this quote jumped out at me (pg. 39):
The church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God.  It is not a divine afterthought.  It is not an accident of history.  On the contrary, the church is God's new community.  For his purpose conceived in a past eternity, being worked out in history, and to be perfected in a future eternity, is not just to save isolated individuals as so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build his church, that is, to call out of the world a people for his own glory. (Stott, The Living Church, 2007, pgs.19-20).
Here are some other quotes from the Chapter 2 "Why Community?":
An identity that I construct for myself is far removed from an identity I receive by grace (40).

The Bible shows that we are communal creatures, made to be lovers of God and of others (40).

I cannot be who I am without regard to other people (41).

If the church is the body of Christ, then we should not live as disembodied Christians (41).

The church gives us a new community and a new identity (41).

The church, then, is not something additional or optional.  It is at the very heart of God's purposes.  Jesus came to create a people who would model what it means to live under his rule.  It would be a glorious outpost of the kingdom of God, an embassy of heaven.  This is where the world can see what it means to be truely human (50).

Our identity as human beings is found in community.  Our identity as Christians is found in Christ's new community.  And our mission takes place through communities of light (50).
More on Total Church here, including 3 videos on "Community Training" and a pdf study guide of the book.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Defining Cultural and Religious Identity

I recently returned from the Common Ground conference.  I am planning on posting more about the conference later, but Common Ground Consultants are a group who advocate that Muslims who come to Christ should retain their identity as Muslims, the so called "insider movement."  They emphasize incarnational movements to Christ within the fabric of Islam. 

Here is the big question: Should a Muslim who follows Jesus remain a Muslim?  How you answer that question depends greatly on your meaning of the word "Muslim."  And part of the the way you understand Muslim depends on your definition of identity.  Here is how the July-Aug 2008 edition of Mission Frontiers defines Muslims as a sociorelious category (pg. 19):
From a sociological perspective, Muslims are people who have a social identity as members of a traditionally Muslim community. They may be religiously observant or secularly nominal, but they are in the same socioreligious group, that of Muslims. For many Muslims, being a Muslim is an inseparable part of their self-identity, their background, their family, their community, and their cultural heritage, regardless of what they actually believe about God. It is this everyday sociological sense of the term “Muslim” that is used in what follows.
So this definition appears to say that "religious identity" and "cultural identity" are inseparable.  Certainly there is a lot of overlap, but is it possible to distinguish between the two?  How can one be united with Christ spiritually and have a religious identity (i.e. not a cultural identity) as a Muslim? (It is highly probably that I am missing the point somewhere.)

I really need YOUR HELP on this.  In the comments section of this post, please define
1. cultural identity, and
2. religious identity.

And if these two are inseparable, then please explain why.  Or are there other categories we should also define first?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Discussing the Holy Books

One of the many reasons I am glad to have read the entire Qur'an is to tell Muslims I have done so.  This honors them and gives me greater credibility in sharing what I believe about the Messiah.  But it is also a way to diffuse an attack.  A friend recently sent me this simple metaphor he shares with Muslims:
"If there are two science teachers at the local college, one of which has only read one science book in his entire life, and the other of which has read every science book, which of the two would your rather study under? Which of the two would you say is more informed?"
Most Muslims have never even seen the Tawrat, Zabur, or Injeel.  It is one of my great pleasures in life to introduce Muslims to the Bible.


The Least Number of Workers

Lausanne World Pulse - A Glance at Religions around the World:
"The least-evangelized groups of people with the highest populations in the world still get the least number of missionaries. Just over twenty-five percent of Protestant foreign missionaries are focused on the two-thirds of the world which is predominately non-Christian—and most of them are ministering among already-reached groups! Over twenty-seven percent of the world’s population is part of people groups who have no or very little access to the gospel. Furthermore, in terms of finances, less than one percent of U.S. church giving goes to support mission work among these least-served groups."
HT: Missions Catalyst

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thanks Missions Catalyst!

The Missions Catalyst blog is a great resource I recommend for those who want to keep up to date with missions around the word.  It is updated weekly and has about 5,000 subscribers.  On their 10/28/09 issue, Circumpolar was featered.  Here was the post:

WEBSITES: Mission-related Blogs
A few months ago we wrote about using Twitter for mobilization and asked readers who they follow. Readers over at Brigada Today have been discussing Facebook. In this changing world of social media, blogging seems almost old-school, doesn't it?

But did you know that many missionaries and mission activists keep blogs? Some of these blogs are really interesting and helpful. We'll just highlight a few:

Missions Launch provides information, resources, and other practical support for those undertaking global mission efforts, long-term or short-term.

A Big Mission brings us an Asian perspective about Christian mission in Asia and Asian missionaries.

Circumpolar is a series of short readings related to Muslim ministry intended to equip and resource followers of Jesus to advance the gospel among Muslims.

Check 'em out. This site can introduce you to 475 more.

->-> Go to the Missions Catalyst site and leave a comment to let us know about your favorite mission-related blogs!
And here is another blog that will interest you: Telling Secrets by Marti Smith.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Polygamy and Discipleship

Here are some words from Mark Driscoll that apply to our Muslim friends.

Various cults, aberrant sects, and perverts make the case that the Bible does mention polygamy and so it is biblically acceptable. However, they fail to acknowledge that the Bible speaks of human sin from beginning to end to show the evil horrors of sin. Therefore, just because something is in the Bible does not mean that God approves of it, as is the case with the rapes, murders, and adulteries reported throughout Scripture.

There are many biblical and practical reasons why polygamy is sinful and harmful.
  1. The first man to take more than one wife was the godless man Lamech (Genesis 4:19–24).
  2. Some of the Old Testament patriarchs did practice polygamy, and it never honored God. For example, Abram married Hagar in addition to Sarai. The results of this polygamy are truly tragic, as is the case with other instances of adultery and polygamy in Scripture. Abram slept with Hagar and she bore him a son. God promised that Hagar’s son would become the father of a great nation because he was a son of Abram, though not the son of the promise (which would eventually be Isaac). God promised that Ishmael would be a “wild donkey of a man” and that he would be a warrior in hostility with his brothers who would descend from Abram. Ishmael was born to a Hebrew father and Egyptian mother and became the father of the Arab nations that to this day are in hostility with Jews and Christians alike, as promised.
  3. The disaster of polygamy is illustrated by Lamech and Adah and Zillah in Genesis 4:19–24, Esau and Mahalath and other wives in Genesis 28:6–9, and Jacob and Leah and Rachel in Genesis 29:15–30. None of these occurrences was godly or good.
  4. The Bible repeatedly shows that polygamy is wrought with favoritism, fighting, jealousy, and mistreatment (e.g., Genesis 35:22; 38:18–28; 2 Samuel 3:2–5; 13:1–29; 15–18; 1 Kings 11:1–4).
  5. The New Testament church elders who serve as the pattern for Christian families are to be one-woman men and not polygamists (1 Timothy 3:2, 12).
  6. God’s intention is that each man would have one wife (Genesis 2:18; Matthew 19:4–6).
  7. Marriage is ultimately a picture of Jesus’ loving relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:22–33; Revelation 19:6–9). Jesus is faithful to one bride, the church, as the pattern for all marriages."
All this begs another question: what should a Muslim man who turns to Christ do if he has married more than one women?

Here is one solution I have heard: a polygamist who comes to Christ should not divorce any of his wives, but cease sexual relationships with with his later wives while continuing to provide for them.

But even this seems unfair to the women.  And what should a woman follower of Jesus do if she is a second or even third wife?  Looking forward to hearing from you on this difficult issue- weigh in on the comments section.  I know some of the subscribers of this blog are discipling guys with multiple wives.