REMEMBER 3 THINGS ON 9-11

REMEMBER 3 THINGS ON 9-11

On the 18th anniversary of 9-11 as our government breaks off peace negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, I thought it would be good to remember a few fundamentals about dealing with Islamism.

In a 2013 column in USA Today, courageous Muslim physician and author, Qanta Ahmed wrote,

“”The Mosques are our barracks; the minarets our bayonets. The domes are our helms. The believers are our soldiers”

This was the Islamist poem quoted by the mayor of Istanbul, Turkey in December 1997. Charged with using inflammatory speech, he was ejected from office and sentenced to jail by the Ankara High Court.

That mayor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been Prime Minister and President of Turkey since 2003. During that time, he has slowly but inexorably pushed secular Turkey, a member of NATO, toward an unabashedly Islamist future.[1]

Ahmed, along with other courageous Muslim voices, reminds us of our first fundamental.

BE REAL: ISLAMISM IS NOT GOING AWAY

The Islamic faith as it is understood by Islamists justifies aggression against anyone or any state that can be labeled a threat to Islam. Theirs is a long history.

In 732, barely a hundred years after the founding of Islam, a battle was fought just outside of Paris at a place called Poitiers. Muslim armies seeking to conquer Europe were stopped. For the next 951 years Crusades were called to throw them back. The Muslims countered until finally, in 1683, the armies of the Ottoman Empire were decisively defeated by Polish and German infantry near Vienna. The date? September 11. Bin Laden didn’t choose that date out of thin air;[2] nor did the Benghazi bandits who murdered Ambassador Stephens in 2012.

Westerners assume that the conflict we have with Islamism began in 2001. It began when Islam was founded and it has never stopped. The first thing we must understand is that Islamism and its mission to overcome the Judeo-Christian culture of the west is not going away. Bin Laden predicted that the jihadists would win because they would outlast the Americans. It’s beginning to look like he was right.

Romans 12:17-21 teaches that we aren’t to fear Islam or Muslims. We aren’t to seek revenge for 9-11 or other attacks. Biblically, it is the role of the state to pursue justice and punish evil. As believers we are to love our enemies and seek peace in all of our personal contacts. But we also need to be honest with ourselves and understand that Islamism is not going away. Our children and grandchildren will be dealing with it when we’re gone.

BE ON GUARD: NAЇVETE ISN’T AN OPTION

The second thing we should remember is that loving our enemies and seeking peace doesn’t mean being naïve. We need to be on guard.

In Matthew 10:16-18, just before sending out the Twelve on a mission to the Jews, Jesus warned them not to be naïve. He also told them to speak the truth no matter the cost. The Apostle Paul did the same thing with his protégé Timothy, urging him to “be on guard.”[3]

We need to be on our guard against the mission and the mandate of Islamism.

Most Muslims are like most other religious people in the world: they are concerned with making a living, educating their children, worshiping their god and keeping food on the table. Thankfully, moderate, pluralistic Muslims like Dr. Ahmed courageously speak out in favor of living in harmony with other faiths. But Islamist’s aren’t interested in assimilating into Western culture on an equal footing with other religions.

“Omar Ahmed, the founder of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil liberties group in the United States, believes that Islam must become dominant in the US.”

Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.[4]

Taqiyya is an Arabic word that means dissimulation, permitted deceit. It is allowed in Sharia law in order to promote Islam.[5] Not all Muslims hold to this practice, and Shiite Muslims support it more often than Sunnis, but it is in widespread use today.

Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, but he wasn’t naïve, and he didn’t encourage us to be gullible.

Once Islam gains a foothold through the gradual implementation of Sharia any opposition to it, any attempt to reverse it, becomes in Islamic thought not a defense of the Constitution, not a matter of freedom of speech, and not a defense of religious liberty but an attack on Islam. Any attack on Islam justifies jihad. So be on guard.

BE DILIGENT: MAKE DISCIPLES

The third thing to remember on 9-11 is what Jesus commanded us to do from the beginning: Go and make disciples. The best way to change the world is to change lives.

Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. It has a record of swallowing up whole nations and forcing them to submit. It is relentless in its dogma and determination. It is not going to be stopped at the ballot box, or in the courtroom, or on the pages of public opinion or even on the battlefield. It is a powerful spiritual force. The only thing that will keep it from overcoming the world is a more powerful spiritual force: The message of Jesus authentically lived and faithfully shared.

Sam Solomon (pseudonym) was an Islamic recruiter. His job was to train suicide bombers in Islamic ideology. He became a Christian and in a 2006 interview with Cal Thomas he explained:

“There’s not a single verse in the Koran talking about peace with a non-Muslim, with the Jews and the Christians. Islam means submission. Islam means surrender. It means you surrender and accept Islamic hegemony over yourselves…”

I asked him about the best strategy for fighting it: “It cannot be combated simply by force. It needs to be combated ideologically, spiritually (as well as) through arms.”

That is why it is so important for us to reignite our own commitment to the mission of Jesus. That is why I support ministries like: Answering-Islam.org, which serves Muslims wishing to escape from Islam every day through sound apologetics; the Church-Centric Bible Translation movement, which equips church-planting networks with the tools to translate the Bible for Unreached People Groups; Samaritan’s Purse, which serves places with Muslim populations with the life giving ministry of emergency relief in the name of Jesus, clearly communicating the gospel where ever they can.

Please pray for those ministries and give to them. It is the least we can do in remembrance of this fateful day.

[1] (CASTRATE ISLAMISM. USA Today, Sept. 4, 2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/09/04/turkey-arab-spring-islam-extremist/2735303/)

[2] Colson, Chuck; Presentation to the Wilberforce Forum Centurions Program Participants, Given March 4, 2006

[3] See Matthew 10:26-28; 2 Timothy 4:14-15.

[4] Sookhdeo, Patrick, The CHALLENGE OF ISLAM To the Church and Its Mission, pg. 15; Isaac Publishing. Quoting Lisa Gardiner in “American Muslim Leader Urges Faithful to Spread the Word,” San Ramon Valley (CA) Herald, July 4, 1998.

[5] Ibid, pg36-37.

THE POUND CAKE HAS LANDED and other thoughts on community

THE POUND CAKE HAS LANDED  and other thoughts on community

The “Smith” boys got arrested last week and I couldn’t help them. My brother is moving this week and I can’t help him either. And the pound cake landed in my office today, but I didn’t bake it.

Those three things percolated in my head this morning as I sat down to write. Though they are unrelated events in a typical week, they share a single thread: Healthy community isn’t optional, and it doesn’t happen by accident. It must be intentionally built.

I’ve been acquainted with the “Smith’s” since they were born. We greeted them as toddlers on our daily walks past their house, one block over from ours. We watched them graduate from training wheels to big boy bikes. I helped them refill their tires once with my air compressor. We waved and said hello every time they passed our house on the way to the basketball court at the park. But we never built a real relationship with them or their parents. Their vandalism—the neighborhood always knew it was them—escalated with age. Now they are under arrest, charged with  murder.

Maybe, just maybe, if I’d hosted that annual 9-11 block party I dreamed of shortly after the terrorist attacks, a relationship could have taken root. Mentoring might have happened. Now I’ll never know.

My brother is moving from the gulf coast to north Georgia this week. He is desperately tired with all the preparations and needs a lot of help to get moved in. I’m too far away, there is no room in my work schedule to go anyway. He doesn’t have a network of friends there yet. I’m hoping and praying the church he visited on one of his house hunting trips will hear of his need and give him a hand.

Healthy community doesn’t happen by accident, it must be intentionally built.

And just in case you were beginning to get depressed, the pound cake has landed, and I didn’t bake it.

We’re not talking just any pound cake here either. We’re talking Ann Chaney’s finest lemon-glazed, melt-in-your-mouth, make you wanna slap your Momma ‘cause she never gave you anything this good! southern Virginia masterpiece of a pound cake. Ann, who has been my administrative assistant for fourteen years, baked it for our upcoming Alpha Course. I’ll never be able to bake anything that good. But I can’t wait to bless our guests with it.

Life is tough and people have free will. We can’t save every wayward boy or help every worn-out brother. But we can, if we are intentional about it, create an environment where relationships can grow, people can hear the gospel, receive the gift of life, and experience the community of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

But it won’t happen by accident. Healthy community must be intentionally built. Sometimes all it takes is a really good piece of pound cake.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. [1]

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Php 2:4). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.