As You Seek Allah This Ramadan, Know That I Will Be Praying For You

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My Muslim friends,

As you seek Allah this Ramadan. . .know that I will be praying for you.

May God bless you in amazing, unforgettable, indescribable, new ways.

May He reveal more of His glory than you can hold in your heart.

May the words of God touch your soul like never before.

May His love overwhelm you as you fast and pray.

May you dream His dreams and see His visions.

May you be a blessing to those who suffer.

May your family be healthy and happy.

May Isa be more real than ever.

May your prayers be heard.

I love you, my Muslim friends. I really do.

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What Happened To Isa’s Closest Followers? Did They Die. . .For A Lie?

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Dear Muslim friends,

The Christian celebration of Easter took place just a few weeks ago in many countries around the world. Easter is a time when Christians joyfully celebrate the resurrection of Isa – Jesus – from the dead.

I know that you do not believe that Isa – Jesus – actually died. I also know that you don’t believe as I do, that he rose from the dead. That he came out of a tomb and was seen by many eyewitnessesincluding his closest followers (called “Disciples” or “Apostles”).

But what happened to Isa’s closest followers? Do you know? Almost every one of them died a horrible, violent, martyr’s death. Did they lose their lives believing that Jesus truly died – and rose again? If Jesus did not really die and they knew it, did they die. . .for a lie?

The article below addresses these big, big questions.

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http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/04/what-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-how-their-deaths-evidence-easter/

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It is very feasible to believe that all but one of the Apostles suffered and died a martyr’s death, even if we can’t be sure of the exact details.

Amidst some uncertainty, one thing is clear — the reason given for their death was the same in all accounts. They were killed because they proclaimed to have seen Christ die and then to have seen Him alive. They all died because of an unwavering, unrelenting claim that Christ rose from the grave.

(1) The Apostle James
Date of Martyrdom: 44-45 A.D.

James was the second recorded martyr after Christ’s death (Stephen was the first). His death is recorded in Acts 12:2 where it is told that Herod Agrippa killed him with a sword. Clemens Alexandrinus and Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History II.2) both tell how the executioner witnessed the courage and un-recanting spirit of James and was then convinced of Christ resurrection and was executed along with James.

(2) The Apostle Peter
Date of Martyrdom: ca. 64 A.D.

Although, just before the crucifixion, Peter denied three times that he even knew Christ, after the resurrection he did not do so again. Peter, just as Jesus told him in John 21:18-19, was crucified by Roman executioners because he could not deny his master again. According to Eusebius, he thought himself unworthy to be crucified as his Master, and, therefore, he asked to be crucified “head downward.”

(3) The Apostle Andrew
Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Andrew, who introduced his brother Peter to Christ, went to join Peter with Christ in eternity six years after Peter’s death. After preaching Christ’s resurrection to the Scythians and Thracians, he too was crucified for his faith. As Hippolytus tells us, Andrew was hanged on an olive tree at Patrae, a town in Achaia.

(4) The Apostle Thomas
Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Thomas is known as “doubting Thomas” because of his reluctance to believe the other Apostles’ witness of the resurrection. After they told him that Christ was alive, he stated “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). After this, Christ did appear to him and Thomas believed unto death. Thomas sealed his testimony as he was thrust through with pine spears, tormented with red-hot plates, and burned alive.

(5) The Apostle Philip
Date of Martyrdom: 54 A.D.

Philip was corrected by Christ when he asked Christ to “show us the Father, then this will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Christ responded, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘?” (John 14:9). Philip later saw the glory of Christ after the resurrection and undoubtedly reflected with amazement on Christ’s response to his request. Philip evangelized in Phrygia where hostile Jews had him tortured and then crucified.

(6) The Apostle Matthew
Date of Martyrdom: 60-70 A.D.

Matthew, the tax collector, so desperately wanted the Jews to accept Christ. He wrote The Gospel According to Matthew about ten years before his death. Because of this, one can see, contained within his Gospel, the faith for which he spilled his blood. Matthew surely remembered his resurrected Savior’s words, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20), when he professed the resurrected Christ unto his death by beheading at Nad-Davar.

(7) The Apostle Nathanael (Bartholomew)
Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Nathanael, whose name means “gift of God” was truly given as a gift to the Church through his martyrdom. Nathanael was the first to profess, early in Christ’s ministry, that Christ was the Son of God (John 1:49). He later paid for this profession through a hideous death. Unwilling to recant of his proclamation of a risen Christ, he was flayed and then crucified.

(8) The Apostle James the Lesser
Date of Martyrdom: 63 A.D.

James was appointed to be the head of the Jerusalem church for many years after Christ’s death. In this, he undoubtedly came in contact with many hostile Jews (the same ones who killed Christ and stated “His [Christ's] blood be on us and our children” (Matt. 27:25). In order to make James deny Christ’s resurrection, these men positioned him at the top of the Temple for all to see and hear. James, unwilling to deny what he knew to be true, was cast down from the Temple and finally beaten to death with a fuller’s club to the head.

(9) The Apostle Simon the Zealot
Date of Martyrdom: 74 A.D.

Simon was a Jewish zealot who strived to set his people free from Roman oppression. After he saw with his own eyes that Christ had been resurrected, he became a zealot of the Gospel. Historians tell of the many different places that Simon proclaimed the good news of Christ’s resurrection: Egypt, Cyrene, Africa, Mauritania, Britain, Lybia, and Persia. His rest finally came when he verified his testimony and went to be with Christ, being crucified by a governor in Syria.

(10) The Apostle Judas Thaddeus
Date of Martyrdom: 72 A.D.

Judas questioned the Lord: “Judas said to him (not Iscariot), Lord, how is it that you will show yourself to us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:22). After he witnessed Christ’s resurrection, Judas then knew the answer to his question. Preaching the risen Christ to those in Mesopotamia in the midst of pagan priests, Judas was beaten to death with sticks, showing to the world that Christ was indeed Lord and God.

(11) The Apostle Matthias
Date of Martyrdom: 70 A.D.

Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot (the betrayer of Christ who hanged himself) as the twelfth Apostle of Christ (Acts 1:26). It is believed by most that Matthias was one of the seventy that Christ sent out during his earthly ministry (Luke 10:1). This qualifies him to be an apostle. Matthias, of which the least is known, is said by Eusebius to have preached in Ethiopia. He was later stoned while hanging upon a cross.

(12) The Apostle John
Date of Death: 95 A.D.

John is the only one of the twelve Apostles to have died a natural death. Although he did not die a martyr’s death, he did live a martyr’s life. He was exiled to the Island of Patmos under the Emperor Domitian for his proclamation of the risen Christ. It was there that he wrote the last book in the Bible, Revelation. Some traditions tell us that he was thrown into boiling oil before the Latin Gate, where he was not killed but undoubtedly scarred for the rest of his life.

(13) The Apostle Paul
Date of Martyrdom: ca. 67 A.D.

Paul, himself a persecutor of the Christian faith (Galatians 1:13), was brought to repentance on his way to Damascus by an appearance of the risen Christ. Ironically, Paul was heading for Damascus to arrest those who held to Christ’s resurrection. Paul was the greatest skeptic there was until he saw the truth of the resurrection. He then devoted his life to the proclamation of the living Christ. Writing to the Corinthians, defending his ministry, Paul tells of his sufferings for the name of Christ: “In labors more abundant, in beatings above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once was I stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeys often, in storms on the water, in danger of robbers, in danger by mine own countrymen, in danger by the heathen, in danger in the city, in danger in the wilderness, in the sea, among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness “(2 Cor. 11:23-27). Finally, Paul met his death at the hands of the Roman Emperor Nero when he was beheaded in Rome.

I believe that the deaths of the Apostles increase the certainty level of the historicity of the resurrection to a level that is beyond excuse for disbelief. People do not die for their own lies, half-truths, or fabrications. If the Apostles truly died proclaiming to have seen Christ dead then alive and ascend into heaven, Christ is who He said He was, God incarnate who came to take away the sins of the world.

Here are your three options concerning the Apostles:

1. They died for a lie and knew it (unsustainable do to lack of any reasonable motive).
2. They were all delusional and crazy (but this would take more faith than any option since you would have to explain how they all had the same delusion and craziness — many being at different places and different times).
3. What they said was true. Christ did rise from the grave and is who He said He was.

If Jesus Didn’t Die, Who Was That Man That Came Out Of The Tomb?

Dear Muslim friends,

Today Christians all over the world will celebrate “Easter.” Sadly, when you do a google image search using the word “Easter,” you will see mostly images of little rabbits, eggs, and spring flowers.

But Easter is actually the name given for the day over 2,000 years ago when Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead after being executed (by crucifixion). (You can read about the resurrection of Jesus and the empty tomb in the Injeel: Matthew 28:1-15, Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-47, John 20:1-29).

Do I believe Jesus was actually crucified and rose from the dead as the Bible claims? Well, as a first century preacher stated in a letter to early Christians:

“. . .if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)

What this means is, I am basing my belief that I will go to heaven solely, completely, emphatically on 2 events that I believe to be entirely historical: the death of Jesus on a Roman cross for my sins and the subsequent resurrection of Jesus from the dead to prove he was who he said he was.

Is there any evidence that Jesus rose from the dead?

In this blog post, I quote a speaker and author, Josh McDowell, regarding evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

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EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS THE MESSIAH
by Josh McDowell

The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance.

A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.

So. . .what are the evidences for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead?

EVIDENCE #1: THE BROKEN ROMAN SEAL
The first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. If the responsible people were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus’ disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves after his death and certainly would not have had the courage to fight off Roman soldiers, break the seal, and steal his body.

EVIDENCE #2: THE EMPTY TOMB
The disciples of Christ did not immediately go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. The empty tomb was “too notorious to be denied.” Paul Althaus states that the resurrection “could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.”

If the resurrection claim was merely a lie – some kind of hoax – the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body of Jesus from the tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor of his resurrection.

EVIDENCE #3: LARGE STONE MOVED
On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it. Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the entire massive sepulcher. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus’ body, how could they have done that without the guards’ awareness?

EVIDENCE #4: EYEWITNESSES
Christ appeared alive to his closest followers – and to many others – on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter. Claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or hallucinations are unsupported by the psychological principles governing the appearances of hallucinations – namely that different people cannot see the same hallucination simultaneously.

Two of the most amazing appearances of Jesus after he rose from the dead are recorded in the Injeel, John 20:19-31. In the second appearance, one of Jesus’ disciples put his fingers into the imprint of the nails in Jesus’ hands and then made one of the most stunning statements of all time as he said these words to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!”

EVIDENCE #5: LIVING WITNESSES YEARS LATER
The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts. They were still alive and could be questioned.

EVIDENCE #6: THE DISCIPLES’ LIVES – AND DEATHS
The strongest evidence of all for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the way those early Christians lived – and died. We must ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ?

Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts – prestige, wealth, increased social status or material benefits – we might logically attempt to account for their actions, for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this “risen Christ.”

Instead, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking.

Yet, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message: Jesus died and rose from the dead.

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Postscript to my Muslim friends: how do you evaluate these evidences for the empty tomb – for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead?

I am respectfully assuming you will answer that the Bible has been corrupted and changed.

If so, may I humbly ask you:

Who changed the Bible?
When was it changed?
Where was it changed?
Why was it changed?
What is the evidence that it was changed?

Until I see evidence that the Bible was changed, I will maintain my belief that it is true and accurate. And I will maintain my belief in the evidences from that first Easter – evidences for an empty tomb. I am staking my eternal destiny on it and invite you to carefully and objectively examine the evidence for yourself – for your eternal destiny.

As always, I love you, my Muslim friends.

I really, really do.

Did Jesus Die On The Cross. . .Or Was It Someone Else?

Dear Muslim friends,

Yesterday was a day celebrated by Christians around the world – Good Friday. It is our remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.

My dear Muslim friends, I know you believe that Jesus did not die on the cross but that God took him to heaven and put his facial image on someone else – maybe Pilate, maybe Judas, maybe someone else.

But I wonder, would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words with nails in their hands and feet as they were being crucified:

“Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

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Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as their bones were being put out of joint (part of the effects of crucifixion)?

Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as they were being mocked and ridiculed by Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders and people who were watching (yes, this happened to Jesus)?

Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as they were suffocating (the ultimate way a victim dies in crucifixion)?

My Muslim friends, I believe with all my heart that Jesus died that Good Friday on the cross.

Not Pilate.

Not Judas.

Not anyone else.

Because no one else can love like that.

No else can love like Jesus.

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The Terrible Sufferings Of Isa – Jesus – Yeshua – For You, For Me, For All Of Us

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Dear Muslim, Christian, and Jewish friends,

Yesterday – around the world – countless millions of Christians remembered something called “Good Friday.” Good Friday is the day that Christians believe Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. It was, the Bible teaches, a day of terrible suffering and tremendous love by Isa al Masih – Jesus the Messiah – Yeshua – for you, for me, for all of us.

To my Muslim readers, I know full well that Islam teaches that Isa did not die – that another (possibly Judas or Pilate or someone else) – took his place; that God took Jesus up to heaven and put his facial image on someone who actually did die on a cross. But for now, can we agree to disagree about that?

In this blog post, I just have to say something. Many things. To Isa. Jesus. Yeshua.

I have to thank him. Publicly. Effusively (expressing feelings of gratitude, pleasure, or approval in an unrestrained or heartfelt manner).

So my Muslim and Jewish friends, even if you don’t agree with my position about the death of Isa – Yeshua – on that day 2,000 years ago, would you bear with me? Would you allow me to express my love for him here?

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A PUBLIC THANK YOU TO MY SAVIOR – ISA AL MASIH, JESUS, YESHUA: YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO. . .BUT YOU DID

* You didn’t have to leave your place with God in heaven and all the glory you had there. . .but you did. (John 1:1-4; John 1:14)

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* You didn’t have to come to planet earth – a place filled with sin and shame and hatred and foul darkness. . .but you did. (John 1:9-10)

* You didn’t have to choose to be born in a place for animals – a dirty, smelly stable instead of the king’s palace you deserved. . .but you did. (Luke 2:1-7)

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* You didn’t have to take the body of a human with all the weaknesses that we experience. . .but you did. (Philippians 2:5-7)

* You didn’t have to be born in little Bethlehem and live in obscurity in Nazareth instead of the fame you could have enjoyed living in Jerusalem. . .but you did. (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-6; John 1:46)

* You didn’t have to refuse to be king. . .but you did. (John 6:15)

* You didn’t have to serve people instead of being served. . .but you did. (Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:5-7)

* You didn’t have to spend time with people everyone else shunned and hated (tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers) – eating with them, loving them, teaching them, healing them. . .but you did. (Mark 2:13-17)

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* You didn’t have to ride into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday on a humble donkey instead of a white horse. . .but you did. (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11)

* You didn’t have to let your friends betray you (Judas for 30 pieces of silver) and deny you (Peter three times). . .but you did. (Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:3-10; Luke 22:54-62)

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* You didn’t have to sweat blood (a rare medical condition during extreme stress known as hematidrosis) as you faced carrying our sins. . .but you did. (Luke 22:44).

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* You didn’t have to let them tie your hands and arrest you (since you were only bound by your love for God and for us). . .but you did. (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1)

* You didn’t have to go through a night of cruel, illegal, and unjust trials (3 Jewish trials, 3 Roman trials) on that Good Friday morning. . .but you did. (Matthew 26:57-27:26; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25: John 18:12-19:13)

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* You didn’t have to let them blindfold you and spit on you and strike you and mock you and pull out part of your beard. . .but you did. (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65 and 15:19; Luke 22:63-65)

* You didn’t have to answer the high priest’s question – “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” but you did. (Mark 14:55-64).

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* You didn’t have to announce to the world on that night exactly who you were (you were not lying, you were not confused, and you were not blaspheming). . .but you did. (Matthew 26:62-66)

* You did not have to remain silent before false accusations of the Jewish leaders in the presence of the Roman governor Pilate. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14; Mark 15:3-4)

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* You didn’t have to let the Roman soldiers scourge you (with a whip of leather straps with bits of bone and iron and glass designed to rip the flesh open, exposing muscles and bone from the shoulders down to the thighs). . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:5; John 19:1-2; 1 Peter 2:24)

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* You didn’t have to let the soldiers mock you by placing a crown of thorns on your head and a purple robe on your torn back. . .but you did. (Matthew 27:27-29; Mark 15:16-20)

* You didn’t have to let the soldiers beat your face so much that it was severely disfigured. . .but you did. (Isaiah 52:13-14)

* You didn’t have to carry the heavy crossbar of your cross (that we deserved to carry) on your shredded, bloody back. . .but you did. (John 19:17)

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* You didn’t have to allow Roman soldiers to pound iron nails into your wrists and feet. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:16; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10; John 20:25)

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* You didn’t have to refuse the sedative/anesthetic on the cross because you wanted to face death fully aware. . .but you did. (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23)

* You didn’t have to suffer the other horrible pains of crucifixion for 6 hours (dislocated shoulders, elbows, and wrists; exhaustion; infection; fever; severe dehydration; blood loss; hyperventilation; collapsing lungs; cardiorespiratory failure; and finally slow suffocation and cardiac rupture – a “broken heart”). . .but you did. (Psalm 22:14, 15, 17; John 19:34)

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* You didn’t have to pray for forgiveness for those who did all these cruel, horrible things to you. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34)

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* You didn’t have to endure the vicious verbal attacks – mocking, insults, sarcasm – from people and religious leaders who watched you die. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:39-43; Mark 15:29-31; Luke 23:35, 37; John 19:24)

* You didn’t have to endure the worst pain of all – abandonment, desertion by God – while you carried our sins. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)

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* You didn’t have to go through so many terrible sufferings and finally die in my place, for my sins and shame – for the unspeakable sins and shame of all of humanity. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:5-6, 8, 10-11)

* You didn’t have to love me – love all of us - with this kind of tremendous love. . .but you did.

Isa. Jesus. Yeshua. Thank you. For all eternity, thank you.

Good Friday.

You didn’t have to. . .but you did.

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The Name “Isa”: It Got Them Across The Border. . .It Is Getting Them Into Paradise

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Dear Muslim friends,

This is a great story from my recent travels in the Middle East:

One young man in Syria had a dream of Isa (Jesus). The dream was so powerful that he told his pregnant mother that she should name the baby “Isa” if it was a boy and. . .it was!

Later, when the fighting grew terrible in Syria, they left the country as refugees. There were 27 of them in their extended family. The guards at the border of another country would not let them cross into it because they were such a big group. But they stayed there and refused to leave. Two hours later, one of the guards decided to look at all their passports. He saw the name of the boy that they had named “Isa” and because of that name, he let them cross the border!

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The Injil says that the name “Jesus” is above every other name (Philippians 2:9). The Injil says that the name of “Jesus” is the only name that can save us from our sins (Acts 4:12). That is the name that God listens to when we cry out to him for forgiveness.

For this family, the name “Isa” (“Jesus”) – was the name that got them out of Syria and across the border, and now it is the name that has saved them from their sins. It is the name that is getting them into Paradise. They have asked Jesus to come into their hearts (Revelation 3:20 in the Injil) and now. . .they joyfully follow him!

It is my greatest desire and prayer that each of you – my Muslim friends – will do the same. . .

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Does God Sing Songs of Love to Us?

Dear Muslim, Christian, and Jewish friends,

In my last blog post, I asked the question, “Can we sing songs of love to God?” As I noted there, I know that singing is not a traditional part of worship in historic Islam but that it is a vital element of worship for most Jews and Christians through the centuries.

In this post, I ask what some might consider an even stranger question yet:

“Does God sing songs of love to us?”

Are there songs in Paradise that He composes as He thinks of people here who love Him, trust Him, and live for Him?

Think about it. That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? For God in all His perfections – God who needs no one – to think about you or me and sing a song of love about us. Even. . .to us.

There was an obscure prophet named Zephaniah who lived 600 years before Jesus – over 2,600 years ago.

Listen to his incredible words (Zephaniah 3:17):

“The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”

This is the God I love. This is the God I believe in.

A God who sings to me.

What is your image of God? How do you see Him, that is, how do you see His character? The only portrait of Him that is true is the one that He Himself has painted (in words) like those given through His prophet Zephaniah.

I hunger to know this God more.

I long to hear Him sing to me.

Do you?

Can Muslims Sing Songs of Love to Allah? Is It Permissible?

Is it alright for Muslims to sing songs of love to Allah? Is it halal?

I know that singing is not a traditional part of Islamic worship. In December, I had the privilege of going with a group of Christians to sing Christmas carols in a predominately Muslim neighborhood. Almost all the families were very friendly and welcoming to us as we sang outside their homes and businesses (some would invite us in – I love Arab hospitality!). But I remember the response of one Muslim man quite clearly. He said while smoking his hookah, “You can’t sing here. Singing like that is against my religion.”

Singing songs of adoration, affection, and worship to God has always been part of most Judeo-Christian worship traditions. It goes back all the way to the time of the prophet Musa (Moses in the Tawrat, Exodus 15:1-2):

“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.

The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

King Dawud (David) loved to sing to God:
Zabur, Psalm 51:14 – by King Dawud
“my tongue will sing of your righteousness.”

Zabur, Psalm 33:1-3 – by King Dawud
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.

Zabur, Psalm 95:1,2 – by King Dawud
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

Finally, in the first century, Jesus and his followers sang to the Lord and encouraged us to do the same:

Injeel, Matthew 26:30 – “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Ephesians 5:19,20 – Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God. . .”
Colossians 3:16 – “. . .sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. “

Below is an example of an older song I like to sing to God for all He has done for me. I cannot thank Him enough for sending Isa – Jesus – to rescue me, and singing songs of love is one way to express that appreciation, affection, and adoration:

Is it halal for Muslims to sing songs of love to Allah?

For me as a follower of Jesus, it is not only permissible, it is glorious.

If My Sins Are Forgiven, Can I Do Whatever I Want?

As a follower of Jesus, my Muslim friends often say, “You Christians think you can stick your sins on Jesus and then sin freely. You think you can do whatever you want if you are forgiven. Isn’t that true?”

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I answer, “Astaghfirullah! God forbid! No! We love God so much for what He has done for us through Jesus that we desire to be free from sin to honor Him!”

As the Bible says, “Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not!” (Romans 6:1-2). Forgiveness from God should lead toward a growing purity and holy life in the one forgiven.

In this blog post, let me share more with you about how I believe the Bible itself answers this very important question about a person being forgiven but then doing whatever they want. I have 6 points:

#1 – Many people who call themselves “Christians” are simply not followers of Jesus. They have not truly repented. If they had, there would be true change in their lives: change in their attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions. The Bible says you become a “new creation” – a new person – when you repent of your sins, receive his gift of forgiveness, invite Jesus to take over control of your life, and commit yourself to following him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new creation (a new person). The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Matthew 7:16 – You will know them by their fruits (how they act).”
1 John 1:6 – “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”
1 John 2:3,4 – “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

#2 – When you have genuinely accepted Jesus as the Savior of your sins, you want to live for him, obey him, follow him. Your heart is filled with gratitude which overflows into a desire to not do “whatever you want,” but to do “whatever He wants.” You just want to please Him and live for Him!

2 Corinthians 5:9 – “we make it our goal to please him.”
2 Corinthians 5:15 – “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

#3 – The primary motive in avoiding sin as a follower of Jesus is not fear of hell but love for Jesus and for Almighty God.

John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
2 Corinthians 5:14 – “Christ’s love compels us.”
1 John 4:19 – We love Him because He first loved us.”

#4 – While fear of hell is not a Jesus follower’s primary motive for pure and righteous living, a healthy and reverential fear of appearing before God the perfect Judge after death (to judge one’s works, not his/her sins) is a solid Biblical motivator.

1 Peter 1:17 – “And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as ‘foreigners in the land.’”
1 John 2:28 – “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

#5 – When a person commits their life to Jesus and begins to follow him, there is a change in the heart. The Bible actually says you gain a “new heart.” There actually takes place something like a spiritual “heart transplant!”

Ezekiel 36:26 – “I will give you a new heart.”

#6 – After a person becomes “born again,” a new power (grace) comes into their lives – a new power to resist sin.

Titus 2:11, 12 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

When Jesus comes into your heart following true repentance, there is true change. Jesus himself called it being “born again” (The Holy Injeel, The Gospel According To John 3:3). For some people, this change is virtually overnight. They stop swearing, gossiping, envying, boasting, lying, rebelling against parents, stealing, drinking, drugging, and engaging in immorality right away. In essence, they stop living for themselves and begin living for the Lord. This gives them new joy, new freedom, new purpose. They feel alive for the first time in their lives.

For others, the change is slow but sure - like a butterfly coming out of a cacoon. Old sinful habits like those just mentioned die hard but they do eventually die for one who sincerely follows Jesus. It takes time. Years. And it is a battle – a real and constant battle! A battle against 3 adversaries: this world’s anti-God system, our old desires which creep back in, and our adversary the devil.

To all my Muslim friends, please see from these Biblical truths that we who are really followers of Jesus can’t just “do whatever we want” after we receive the gift of forgiveness. This would go against everything we believe! Do followers of Jesus still sin? Yes, we do. Of course. We fail every day. But generally speaking, the forgiveness we have experienced actually motivates us to forsake (abandon, desert, leave, turn one’s back on) sin and live for God out of love and gratitude for what He has done for us.

As always, I love you, my Muslim friends!

What Does God Really Want From Us?

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Dear Muslim and Christian friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last few days about this question:

What does God really want from people?

I am certainly no expert in the Qur’an but I think I can speak a little bit from what the Bible has to say in response to this all-important, eternally significant question.

From the beginning, God has always asked his people to love Him:

“The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (The Tawrat, Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

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Isa Al Masih – Jesus – confirmed this in his teachings:

“. . .you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (The Injil, Mark 12:30)

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But what does this love for God look like? How is it expressed and made visible in every day life?

I know there are many ways, but I want to mention just four that are on my mind:

#1 – WORSHIP
At all times, the Creator deserves our praise and worship – for who He is and what He has done for us. There is no doubt in my mind that worship means more to God when we are experiencing times of great difficulty and deep pain. To praise and worship Him in those hours of perplexing darkness lets Him know that we truly love him with all our hearts. If your parent or your child died, if your husband or your wife died, could you say these words with the ancient man, Job?

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

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#2 – TRUST
When God brought the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, He did so with amazing miracles, not the least of which was the parting of the Red Sea. Then, as they traveled through the desert, He miraculously provided both water and food. In spite of seeing this kind provision over and over, they doubted Him when times became difficult. They quickly forgot His miracles and refused to trust Him after all he had done (see the Zabur, Psalm 78)! If there’s one thing I know, it’s that God wants us to love him by trusting Him – no matter how difficult or dark our situation is. As King Sulaiman – Solomon – said:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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#3 – OBEDIENCE
You may have heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” That’s so true, isn’t it? “Faith – without works – is dead” (James 2:26). We can talk all we want about how much we love God. We can boast about our faith. But in the end, our love for God is proven by our obedience. Jesus himself said:

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)

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#4 – BELIEF
So often we think we can work our way to Paradise. But Jesus said there is only one work that God really wants from us:

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one (Jesus) he has sent.” (The Injil, John 6:29)

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Worship.

Trust.

Obedience.

Belief.

This is how we prove that we love God.

And I believe this is what He really wants from us.