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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Making sense of contemporary Islam

Book Review: Muslim: What You Need to Know About the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion, by Hank Hanegraaff

Is Islam a religion of peace? Does culture under an Islamic caliphate outshine culture under Christianity? Does Islam blend church and state or keep them separate? Is Islam a threat to the west? What do we need to know to understand Islam?

Hank Hanegraaf serves as president of Christian Research Institute (CRI) and hosts the internationally syndicated Bible Answer Man broadcast and the Hank Unplugged podcast. In his latest book, Muslim: What You Need to Know About the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion, the author seeks to provide insight into the many questions surrounding Islam.

In the Introduction, the author states,

Islam is the only significant religious system in the history of the human race with a sociopolitical structure of laws that mandate violence against the infidel. This graphic global reality makes Islam a religious ideology espousing terrorism as a permanent policy rather than as a temporary expedient. Such is historical reality, from the early seventh-century Medina massacres to the 9/11 twenty-first century Manhattan massacre and beyond.

The current narrative is that to tell the truth in this regard is tantamount to radicalizing Muslims and exacerbating hostilities that may otherwise lie dormant. A common refrain has reverberated throughout the West: “Islam is not our adversary.”

Still later in the Introduction, the author asks,

Are such acts of terrorism a function of a hijacked religion, or is this what we should expect from authentic Islam? … Is it possible to attribute the reality of millions of peace-loving Muslims to a sort of cognitive dissonance that allows them to enjoy their teachings and traditions despite the bloody history in which they were forged? Could it be that what they wish were true about their religion isn’t actually so?

To answers these questions, the author uses a series of acrostics to explain the facts about Islam. He codified the fact around the acronym M-U-S-L-I-M.

  • M – Muhammad: From rages to riches to radicalization. The author takes a close look at the life and legacy of Islam’s quintessential man.
  • U – Unreliable Revelations: The emperor has no clothes. The author points out the discrepancies in the Qur’an. He shows that the Qur’an sanctions murder, adultery, stealing, false testimony, and coveting.
  • S – Sharia is state and state is sharia. Rather than being a sanitized religion in the Western sense of the word, Islam is a comprehensive socioeconomic-political juggernaut riding on the rails of sharia. One of the core values of sharia is inequality for women.
  • L – Levant: Crossroads of world history. The Levant is a land-bridge linking three continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa). The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem reflects Islam’s unmistakable message—Islam is the culmination of Judaism and Christianity, and Muhammad is the climax of the prophets.
  • I – Islamic State: Return of the caliphate. The author explains that Islamic State is a moniker not only emblematic of a twenty-first-century terror network but is indicative of the way of Muhammad.
  • M – Major Muslim Misapprehensions. To explain the differences between Christian and Islamic beliefs, the author employs another acrostic—D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E. He explains what Christianity and Islam believe about the Deity of Christ, Original sin, the divine Canon or doctrine of Scripture, Trinity, Resurrection, the Incarnation, New Creation or doctrine of salvation, and Eschatology or the doctrine about future things.

The book is thoroughly researched and well written. It is well worth the read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2017 in Books, Culture

 

Building Renovation Proposal

During yesterday’s meeting at First Central Bible Church, the elders introduced a proposal to renovate our facility.

Here is a pdf version of the PowerPoint slides that will give you a better understanding of the scope of the project.

Here is the brochure that was handed out at the conclusion of the meeting.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2017 in First Central Bible Church

 

When You Come to the Fork in the Road

Life is filled with many choices. Some are very easy. Paper or plastic? Coffee or tea? Soup or salad? AM or FM? Some are more challenging. Do you act now or wait? Do you make a commitment or keep your options open? Some choices are life altering. College? Career? Marriage? Family?

At every fork in the road, we have to decide if we will walk by sight or by faith. We have to decide if we will follow Christ or not.

As significant of a leader as Moses was, there are no tombs in Egypt where he is buried. There are no monuments erected to honor him. This is in large part because of the choices Moses made during his lifetime.

Hebrews 11:23-29 explains that Moses faced five significant crossroads of faith. He faced five major choices that altered the direction of his life. Would his parents follow the world? Would he accept the sinful? Would he choose a comfortable life? Would he settle for status quo? Would he leave a legacy?

By faith, Moses’ parents resisted the pressure of the world (23). Every parent thinks their child is the most beautiful, gifted child in the world. Moses’ parents were no exception. They thought God had great plans in store for their son. Because of that, they stood against the edict of Pharaoh and refused to put Moses to death. In doing so, they provided Moses with an example to follow.

By faith, Moses refused the sinful (24-26). We are told that when Moses was 40 years old, he refused … choosing … considered. If you take those statements in reverse order, you notice that Moses considered the alternatives—Egyptian family or Israelite family; pleasure or mistreatment; treasure or reward; short-term gain or long-lasting benefits; pursue sin or follow Christ. Moses made a deliberate choice to identify with God and his plans and then walked away from the sinful pleasures of Egypt.

By faith, Moses left the familiar (27). After his encounter with God in the burning bush, Moses was tasked with leading Israel out of Egypt and back to the Promised Land. His faith helped him see reality. Pharaoh may be the most powerful man on earth, but Yahweh was the most powerful being in the universe. Pharaoh might make his life miserable now, but God offered rewards in eternity. Pharaoh might think he is in charge, but God is ultimately in control. Recognizing the truth helped Moses leave behind a comfortable lifestyle and instead endure a difficult challenge which God called him to.

By faith, Moses did the unusual (28). If your neighbors painted their house bright pink, you might chalk it up to being eccentric. But what if they painted their home with blood? That’s what Israel was asked to do in the Passover, put the blood of the lamb on the doorpost and lintel of the house. Moses and Israel took a step of faith and trusted God’s plan, and that action spared them from death on that fateful night.

By faith, Moses inspired a nation (29). Moses’ choices to follow God set the example for the nation of Israel. They followed him through the Red Sea and on to the border of the Promised Land.

What choices are you facing today? Will you walk by sight or by faith? Whom will you choose to follow? Make the choice to follow Christ.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 22, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Life is an essay question

It seems the older I get, the more essay questions life throws my way.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2017 in Fun, Peanuts, Personal growth

 

Minion Night at Awana – 10/18/17

Once a month in Awana at First Central Bible Church, we have a theme night. Tonight, back by popular demand, was Minion Night. Kids and leaders dressed in their finest Minion attire. Gru and the Fluffy Unicorn even made an appearance. Another fun night at FCBC, along with our usual assortment of games, songs, Bible lessons, and memory verses. A great ministry impacting the next generation.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2017 in Awana, First Central Bible Church, Photos

 

Intellectual proof for serious questions about the Bible

Book Review: Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (The Completely Updated and Expanded Classic), by Josh McDowell & Sean McDowell, Ph.D.

I was first introduced to Josh McDowell and Evidence that Demands a Verdict in the mid-70’s when I was a student at Biola University. The book was instrumental in helping me get a better grasp on the trustworthiness of Scripture. His second volume, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict added and built on that earlier foundation. Both books were instrumental in my research, writing papers, and helping answer questions in sharing my faith.

Josh McDowell has now partnered with his son, Sean, who teaches apologetics at Biola to update and expand his classic work. The updated version is close to 900 pages of valuable resources on the Bible and Jesus. Part 1 deals with evidence for the Bible. Part 2 provides evidence for Jesus. Part 3 adds evidence for the Old Testament. Part 4 contributes evidence for truth. This last section provides answers for postmodernism and skepticism. In the Appendix, the authors provide responses to the challenges of Bart Ehrman, who is one of the leading critics of Christianity today.

The book is written in outline form. Coupled with a complete table of contents, it makes it easy to find and research the specific question you want to answer regarding the reliability of the Bible or evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, to name just two of the many topics covered in the book.

The updated version is a valuable and welcome resource for serious students of Christianity. It is a welcome addition to any library.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Apologetics, Biola University, Books

 

Moses’ funeral service

On Sunday, I was scheduled to preach Deuteronomy 34 at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. It was part of our series on the life of Moses. Rather than merely talk about the death of Moses, we decided to hold a funeral service. Tylunas Funeral Home loaned us a casket for the day. In addition to the casket, we had a Jewish prayer shawl, a pair of Rainbow sandals, and a walking stick my wife brought back from New Zealand. Our elders read Scripture, an elders’ wife read Moses’ life history, and several “friends” of Moses shared their remembrance of him. I then used Deuteronomy 34 to talk about three lessons we can learn from Moses’ death. Here’s the bulletin and a couple of pictures from the day.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in First Central Bible Church, Moses, Photos