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What I Fear More Than Islamic Jihadis
A March Charisma News (http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/48698-what-i-fear-more-than-islamic-jihadis) ran this Western church challenge by Egypt-born Dr Michael Youssef:
‘I do not fear Islamic (jihadis) nearly as much as I fear the Christian church in the West departing from biblical orthodoxy.’
That was how I opened a speech I made recently to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tennessee. What gives that fear such certainty is the knowledge of a historical fact – namely, throughout history, Islam grew when Christianity was weakened through its departure from biblical authority.
There is no doubt that Islam grew out of a corpse of a church that was beset with heresy and apostasy. Immediately prior to the rise of Islam, viruses of false gospels had marred Christianity beyond recognition.
Christianity dominated regions of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. But despite that strength, the founder of Islam was confused and frustrated when he listened to some Christian leaders casting doubt on the divinity of Christ – the very heart of Christianity.
The falsehoods facing the church then are not unlike the ones the church in the West faces today. Then, they were known as: ‘Arianism,’ ‘Nestorianism,’ ‘Sabellianism,’ ‘Ebionism.’ Today, they go by names such as:
- emergent church
- insider movement
- hyper grace
When you take the heart out, you end up with a dead body with the name ‘Christian’ written on its forehead. That’s what Muhammad found. And that’s what Muhammad believed to be true Christianity.
Muhammad got information from false Christians, and that led to apparent contradictions in Muslim writings – whether in the Quran or Sunnah. Those contradictions are the source for war within Islam today, with each faction quoting from contradicting texts.
The North African church was once powerful and influential. It produced great men such as Saint Augustine. Yet, the church fell into the clutches of false teachers as early as the 5th century. One of those falsehoods is known as the Montanist movement. Among the significant falsehoods that the Montanists taught was the belief that the canon of scripture was not closed. The Bible could still be amended.
In the 7th century, the Arab/Muslim armies stormed their way toward the pristine coastal Mediterranean towns of North Africa, which bulged with tens of thousands of churches. The conquest was over in a very short time. Having lost their biblical moorings, those churches wondered if God was not bringing a new revelation. They were so open-minded that they were like chickens letting the foxes into the hen house. It was only a matter of time before those tens of thousands of churches turned into mosques.
Biblical orthodoxy ‘doesn’t matter today’
For those in church leadership today who say that biblical orthodoxy doesn’t matter, let me offer a warning: Islamists today are intent on finishing the work of Muslim conquest.
Modern Islamists, such as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, recognise that the first and second jihads (from the 7th and 14th centuries) failed to completely subjugate Europe. They now plan for that to be accomplished through the third jihad, which began in the 1970s. That subjugation will be achieved through Muslim population migration and increases, and through the control of trillions of Arab/Islamic dollars that are invested in European capitals.
Looking at the numbers, those Islamists have good reason for optimism. In France and Germany, there are now 5 million Muslims, respectively. In the UK during the last decade, the Muslim population increased 10 times faster than the rest of the population.
Sheikh Qaradawi’s strategy is well on its way to being accomplished.
So how should the West respond?
There is only one answer. The church of Jesus Christ in the West must wake up and shake itself from its long stupor.
Having done that, the church will take Jesus’ commission to heart. Instead of accommodating the pressures of culture, it can once again spread the gospel to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Dr Michael Youssef, founder and president of Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef, is a worldwide ministry that leads the way for people living in spiritual darkness to discover the light of Christ through the creative use of media and on-the-ground ministry teams.
Karen people soldier became soldier of Christ
God miraculously protected Enormous Ehtoo (pictured left) in his battle against the Myanmar (Burmese) government, but still he refused to turn from his sinful ways, until alcohol provoked a crisis in his life.
‘Before I received Christ my life was meaningless,’ says the former officer in the Karen Army, one of the tribal minority armies at odds with the Burmese government for many years. ‘I was so wicked. I drank a lot of alcohol.’
In late 1986 Ehtoo survived an ambush by the Burmese government. He had been the officer in charge of laying landmines to kill Burmese troops, but the government had tracked him down and was prepared to finish him off.
With bullets flying all around him, only small stones kicked up in the dirt hit his legs. His walkie-talkie took a direct hit. Amazingly, his body did not have a scratch and Ehtoo survived the assault, ready to fight another day.
Even though he felt God’s miraculous protection, he refused to turn his life over to the lordship of Jesus Christ. He was raised in a Christian family, but he didn’t know Jesus personally.
‘My life was so hopeless because I drank a lot,’ Entoo recalls. ‘I was an officer, so people gave me alcohol.’
But his alcohol abuse brought health consequences, primarily to his stomach. Heavy drinking often results in inflammation of the stomach lining, stomach and esophageal ulcers, and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), according to the Mayo Clinic.
In 2010, desperate for change after his retirement from the army, he began to study the Bible with Pastor Ponee. ‘He was a very gentle and humble soul,’ Ehtoo notes. ’I saw the light and love of Christ in him.’
Becoming a soldier for Jesus
One day, Pastor Ponee issued a challenge to the former military man. ‘Before you were a soldier of the nation and now you must become a soldier of Christ.’
Ehtoo pondered his words. The study of God’s Word had greatly impacted his thinking and softened his heart. He knew it was a time for change, a time to surrender to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.
‘I accepted his challenge,’ Ehtoo affirms. A blessing of unsurpassed joy flowed immediately into his life and God supernaturally removed his hunger for alcohol.
‘I couldn’t even stand the smell of alcohol,’ Ehtoo marvels. ‘I threw away all my cigarettes and alcohol.’
Ehtoo with Mark Ellis
After two years of Bible study with Pastor Ponee, Ehtoo launched a house church, which he currently pastors along the Thai-Burma border, among the Karen refugee population.
Link: www.Godreports.com. See also Impact for another of Mark Ellis’ God-glorifying reports.
Assyrians released by Islamic State: Hundreds remain captured
Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST News Service (Assist News www.assistnews.net), reports that 19 Assyrians captured from the Syrian village of Tel Goran have been released by Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and have arrived safely at St. Mary’s Church, Hasaka.
According to the Assyrian International News Agency negotiations for their release had been ongoing for three days and were mediated by local Arab tribal leaders.
Two of the freed hostages chat with the local priest
‘Of the 19 that were released, 17 were women and 2 were men,’ said an AINA spokesperson. ‘But not all who were captured from Tel Goran were released. One of the hostages, an elderly woman, said that ISIS did not release her son and two other men who were guarding the village. ISIS also refused to release a six-year-old girl. According to reports from the released hostages, Islamic State (ISIS) said it plans to use the girl as a bargaining chip. The girl’s mother was released but would not leave her daughter behind and stayed with her.’
The spokesman added, ‘The hostages looked tired and dishevelled but were otherwise unharmed.’ According to AINA, the number of Assyrians captured by Islamic State is between 262 and 373. With the release of this group of 19, the number still being held by this terror group remains in the hundreds.
According to Assyrian leaders, negotiations for the release of the remainder of the hostages are ongoing.
The hostages were taken when Islamic State fighters attacked various Assyrian villages. On hearing of the original attack, Assyrians held protests in three world cities recently to call attention to the ISIS attacks on Assyrians in Khabur, Syria, which have resulted in the capture of up to 373 Assyrians by ISIS and the destruction of churches in the 35 Assyrian villages in the Khabur River in the Hasaka province of Syria. At least 9 Assyrian fighters died in the initial attacks and 12 who were captured by ISIS are feared to have been executed.
’There is a critical need for shelter for the refugees’ said the AINA spokesperson. Nearly 3000 Assyrians have fled from the 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur River.
St. Bishu Church in the Assyrian Village of Tel Shamiran, Syria, now occupied by Islamic State
Living and Dying by the Sword of Jihad
In a move reminiscent of ‘ancient history,’ Saudi Arabia is building a 600-mile-long ‘Great Wall’ – a combined fence and ditch – to separate itself from the Islamic State to the north in Iraq: Plans for the 600-mile wall and ditch Saudi Arabia will build with Iraq in an effort to insulate itself from the chaos engulfing its neighbours.
Much of the area on the Iraqi side is now controlled by Isil [the Islamic State], which regards the ultimate capture of Saudi Arabia, home to the ‘Two Holy Mosques’ of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal.
The irony here is that those Muslims that Saudi Arabia is trying to keep out are the very same Muslims most nurtured and influenced by a Saudi – or Wahabbi or Salafi – worldview.
Raymond Idraham’s book (Link: http://www.booktopia.com.au/crucified-again-raymond-ibrahim/prod9781621570257.html?gclid=CPOC25CFrsQCFQhvvAodYxsA7w)
What Big Bang? In a new theory, researchers suggest that the start of the universe may have involved no bang at all
Teresa Neumann, Breaking Christian News, reports that a view of nearly 10,000 galaxies are seen in a Hubble Telescope composite photograph. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) photograph is a composite of a million one-second exposures and reveals galaxies from the time shortly after the big bang.
Scientists at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta have developed a ‘new’ theory (new according to modern science dictates) that there was no such thing as a Big Bang. This is Big News.
‘Our theory suggests that the age of the universe could be infinite,’ study co-author Saurya Das, a theoretical physicist at LU told LiveScience.
In 1929, Edwin Hubble came to the conclusion that ‘there must have been an instant in time when the entire universe was contained in a single point in space. The universe must have been born in this single violent event.’ This is what became known the Big Bang theory, NASA explains.
The formulation brings up two major points. First, that the universe possibly had no beginning which involved an infinitely small and infinitely dense point of matter. Second, that more information could be discovered on the make-up of dark matter. Dark matter is the substance that makes up most of the universe, and up until now has remained somewhat mysterious.
The Big Bang theory, which speculates that the universe was born 13.8 billion years ago, comes from Einstein’s general theory of relatively. And according to these equations, all matter in the universe was once in a single point.
Robert Brandenberger, a theoretical cosmologist at McGill University in Montreal, says that even though there are holes in Einstein’s theory, scientists continue to work as if the equations still hold: ‘So when we say that the universe begins with a big bang, we really have no right to say that.’ The two most commonly accepted theories, quantum mechanics and general relativity, are actually at odds with each other and both theories fail to explain dark matter.
To investigate further, Das and his colleagues looked at an older way of visualising quantum mechanics and were then able to provide a way to calculate the trajectory of a particle. After applying this older form of quantum theory to Einstein’s theory, they took a look at what would happen in deep time.
‘One way to test the theory is to look at how dark matter is distributed in the universe and see if it matches the properties of the proposed superfluid… If our results match with those, even approximately, that’s great,’ Das told LiveScience.
Brandenburg explained that there is no doubt whether there was a hot fireball at very early times, but problems arise when describing it as a singularity. The new theory was first published in the journal Physics Letters B.
ISIS Terrorists Announce their Next Target: Pope Francis
BCN also reports that ISIS seems intent on carrying out more attacks against Christians, this time targeting the Pope and the Vatican. (Photo via United With Israel)
Commander Domenico Giani, head of the Vatican police force, said in an interview with Italian state publication Polizia Moderna that Islamic State (ISIS) threats against Pope Francis are ‘real’ and not just media propaganda. ‘This is what emerges from the talks I have had with Italian and foreign colleagues,’ he said, stressing, however, that he was unaware of any specific plot.
Threats against the Pope and the Vatican go beyond ISIS’ apparatus operating out of Syria and Iraq. They extend to the ‘lone wolves,’ those in Western countries appearing to be ordinary citizens, who are more dangerous because they are unpredictable, the security chief explained.
Giani has commanded the Vatican security force for the past nine years, but the advent of ISIS as well as recent developments in the Middle East have made threats against the Pope and Rome more acute.
The Pope is fully aware of the danger, Giani says, but ‘is not compromising the style of his pontificate, based on closeness to the people, that is, on personal contact with the greatest number of people possible.’
The Vatican Police and Interpol exchange intelligence with each other as well as with other investigative services, receiving valuable information even from Muslim states, Giani revealed.
According to Giani, 20 of the 138 Vatican police have received ‘special training’ that enables them to carry out ‘anti-terrorist actions.’ Some, he said, ‘accompany the Pope during his international travels.’
Giani also shared that the Vatican makes use of the latest security technology and has an operational centre ‘of high technological level,’ which collects data from ‘thousands of surveillance cameras’ installed in Vatican City as well as in extraterritorial Vatican properties.
ISIS has openly threatened the Pope, the Vatican and Christians on several occasions. In the fourth edition of the terror organisation’s Dabiq magazine, it clearly states: ‘We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is his promise to us; he is glorified and he does not fail in his promise. If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.’
In February, ISIS terrorists in Libya beheaded 21 Christian Copt Egyptians. The victims were named as ‘the people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church.’
Misleading hoax emails warning
Concerned biblical scholar Dr Jim McClure (pictured left) feels it necessary to comment on the plethora of bogus emails circulating among unsuspecting Christians. A recent one (a rehash of the version going around some four years ago) highlights Iraq with untrue statements about that nation supposedly based on the Bible.
Christians have been quick to ‘forward it on’ without questioning and checking with scripture, reputable sources or knowable Bible authorities.
The noted theologian says bluntly: ‘Personally I am sick of such emails being forwarded to me from Christians who have become so excited over nothing! Worse than nothing – the vast majority of these emails are wholly false and there is only one thing worse than reading them (thus wasting time) – that is to hear a preacher quote them in his sermons! Recently I received such an email from a couple who were excited by its contents – it was wholly false.’
He added, ‘Such cons propagated by foolish Christians bring great discredit to Christianity. Sadly “the elect” seem to be so easily deceived!’
Recommended: Dr Jim McClure’s enlightening Biblical Perspectives category. This month’s is entitled The Dying Church?
Making sandwiches to change the world
The Feel Good Bakery logo
Adrian Hawkes, Special to ASSIST, reports that Regenerate (www.regenerateuk.co.uk) is a community of Jesus followers in South London that keep coming up with new and interesting projects to change the way things are.
It’s latest project, The Feel Good Bakery, deserving publicity and promotion, is simple – sandwich making. Well not simple really as they tell me immediately that these sandwiches are not just normal sandwiches, they are just special, or in their words, ‘They contain the finest ingredients known to man in South West London.’
Reaching disadvantaged youngsters
The Feel Good Bakery is a very special sandwich making enterprise in that for every sandwich sold a meal is provided for a youngster in either Romania, South Africa, or in Kenya!
South African children enjoying the results of the bakery
Andy Smith, founder and chairman of the project, told me that to date they have funded 16,000 meals in Kenya and Romania and are currently employing five young adults on the project.
Not only that, but those employed by the company are people who have had problems in the past, either in terms of not being able to find employment, never having been employed, or having just come from serving a prison sentence.
Supporting young people
Staff member Anna said, ‘The new social enterprise was started by Regenerate in June last year. My role is to create a personal development program that runs alongside the sandwich business. The enterprise exists to help young people who want to change and actively engage in a positive lifestyle, both in terms of employment and character development.’
She added, ‘I meet with each team member individually to discuss goals and aspirations, as well as any challenges that might make future employment difficult. I also spend time linking with potential business mentors, inspirational course directors, and leaders of other social enterprise schemes in order to share ideas and create a network of contacts and opportunities that will help our team members develop in all areas of their lives.’
This enterprise is a response to the need to provide support and employment for young people caught up in negative behaviour. The Feel Good Bakery trains, coaches and employs young people who are turning their backs on gang life and crime.
And to quote from their own publicity, ‘For every “Feel Good” sandwich bought, a child in need of food will receive a free meal.’
That’s it. Simple. My paraphrase is: ‘One Small Sandwich for man; one giant sandwich for mankind.’ For more information, go to www.thefeelgoodbakery.com.
MOUNT HERMON, CA
Old Fashioned movie: 50 Shades of Nice
Rusty Wright, Special to ASSIST News Service reports: The much-discussed Fifty Shades of Grey is based on the erotic novel that’s drawn countless book clubbers into lip-biting, toe-curling ecstasy. Trailers promise mystery, pleasure, bondage, and pain.
Old Fashioned takes a somewhat different approach. Boy meets girl. Attraction is mutual, but they focus on romance with respect, even chivalry. Both have painful pasts that influence their feelings and decisions. Each struggles to know the other and to discover whether they should forge a future together.
Determined to treat women with respect
In Old Fashioned, writer/director Rik Swartzwelder plays Clay, a former party animal who produced Girls Gone Wild-style videos, but eventually wearied of empty and broken relationships. He’s determined to treat women with respect and honour, patiently wait, and focus on head and heart before body. A nice guy who occasionally hides behind sometimes quirky relationship rules to protect himself from vulnerability and pain.
Enter Amber (Elizabeth Ann Roberts), a free spirit who rents the apartment above Clay’s antique shop, then creates repair needs as excuses to spend time with her cute landlord/handyman. Surprised and puzzled by his platonic convictions, she longs to explore his mind and heart, but meets resistance. Her persistence plus a friend’s intervention start them courting.
Navigating relationship complexities
The film traces two wounded souls navigating relationship complexities. Turns out Clay’s profligate-to-platonic transformation involved a Bible, a gift from a former love interest. Amber asks about his favourite parts of the book. Clay refers to an assertion about life change: ‘Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!’
‘Don’t…tell me you found Jesus?’ asks a sceptical Amber on another occasion. ‘More like he found me,’ explains Clay.
Sex, of course, is a powerful drive, as Fifty Shades‘ popularity attests. But so is love. Who doesn’t want to be accepted, understood, cherished and affirmed? Old Fashioned touches these deep human desires and presents realistic portrayals of people with whom you might identify, seeking – and finding – genuine fulfilment. And its precepts offer sound counsel.
‘When did treating women with respect become the joke?’ asks Clay in the film. He values building his own character over happy hunting.
I’ll second that. Certainly evaluating prospective mates is important. But often people focus more on finding the right person than on becoming the right person. A good question for singles seeking a meaningful relationship: ‘How can I become the kind of person that the kind of person I want to marry…would want to marry?’
A clever trailer contrast
Old Fashioned promoters played off the contrast with Fifty Shades. A clever ‘OF’ trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbMH9gYpAbQ&feature=youtu.be invites moviegoers to ‘leave the door open as two souls take the time to discover…[not] manipulation [but] healing’ in ‘a love story that most only dream of.’
Swartzwelder sees his film as remedy: ‘Think of a young woman you care about … which love story would you wish for her?’ As the OF tagline reads, ‘Love is…patient, love is…kind, love is…old fashioned.’ Yes. And very, very nice.
• Koorong Books, Blackburn Store books/CDs/DVDs (Link: www.koorong.com)
• Grace Revisited by Dr Jim McClure (Link: Biblical Perspectives / firstname.lastname@example.org)
• I’ll Cross the River by Hope Flinchbaugh (www.liftjesuscross.wordpress.com)
• Nana’s 3 Jars: Giving Generously by Carol Round (http://www.amazon.ca/Nanas-3-Jars-Giving-Generously/dp/0692280197)
• The Heart is the Target by Dr Murray Capill (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/190-6422316-472740?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=The=Heart=is=the=Target)
• A Sheltered Life by Jeremy Reynalds (Link: http://www.ashelteredlife.net
• Mary: My Story, Red Dagger and other books by ASSIST’s Dan Wooding (Link: www.assistnews.net)