Monthly Archives: September 2010

Reaching Muslims for Christ: A Conversation with J.D. Greear

Yesterday, I posted a review of Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim, a new book by J.D. Greear. J.D. is pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina and blogs regularly at JDGreear.com. Today, I’m happy to have J.D. stop by the blog and talk about ministry to Muslims.

Trevin Wax: In your experience, what’s the biggest psychological hurdle that Christians have when it comes to sharing their faith with a Muslim?

J.D. Greear: The biggest psychological hurdle is feeling like they have nothing in common with a Muslim. We think Muslims are a fundamentally different kind of person. But they are made in the image of God just like we are, so they have many of the same questions, ideas, and thoughts.

Secondly, they’re very religious people and, because of that, they have a lot of questions about God. Islam has uniquely prepared them to ask questions about God to which Islam does not give a good answer. Islam, in many ways, paves the way for a Gospel explanation.

So understanding Islam, and understanding the true things that it’s taught about God and the untrue things that it’s taught about God, gives you a great place to show that the Gospel gives a superior answer to these questions.

Trevin Wax: In your book, you write about the time you spent in a predominantly Muslim country. Looking back over your ministry to Muslims, what are some things …

Posted in Missions / Evangelism, Personal Evangelism | 5 Comments

Worth a Look 9.30.10

Jared Wilson lists 10 reasons for the institutional church:

The institutionalization of the church is what happens when the Spiritual reality of what the church is disappears and all that’s left is the “local” expression/form. But local expressions/forms are important. Here’s, I think, why…

Doug Baker and Nathan Finn write an important article for Southern Baptists on the “States of our Convention”:

For our part, while we are not uncritical toward state conventions (or our national ministries), we believe state conventions must remain important Great Commission partners if Southern Baptists are to fulfill our Lord’s gospel mandate. We further believe that if state conventions focus attention on a core set of ministry priorities, churches will invest greater money in the Cooperative Program.

Marriages are built or destroyed moment by moment:

So, you have to view yourself as a marital mason. You are daily on the job adding another layer of bricks that will determine the shape of your marriage for days, weeks, and years to come. Things in a marriage go bad progressively. Things become sweet and beautiful progressively. The problem is that we simply don’t pay attention, and because of this we allow ourselves to think, desire, say, and do things that we shouldn’t.

Humility in a time of recession:

The fear of the Lord, the Bible says, is the beginning of wisdom. Contrary to received opinion, this verse has nothing to do with frightening people into religious belief. Instead it reminds each of us that we are …

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Breaking the Islam Code: A Review

In the midst of political conflict between Muslims and Christians, ordinary Christians wonder how best to share the gospel with Muslim friends and neighbors. What do we need to know? Where do we start? What are the minefields we should be aware of? We often feel ill-equipped to share the gospel in a way that makes sense to a Muslim.

J. D. Greear’s book, Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim (Harvest House, 2010), is a terrific contribution to the growing collection of resources designed to increase our confidence in the gospel. J.D. pastors The Summit Church in North Carolina. Before arriving in his current place of service, he lived in a predominantly Muslim country for two years. His cross-cultural experience and his pastoral ministry uniquely qualify him to help us understand our Muslim friends, hear their concerns, and answer the questions of their hearts with the only message that satisfies: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The idea of answering the questions Muslims are asking stands at the heart of J.D.’s book. He writes:

“Most Christians explain the gospel in a way that (to use a cliché) ‘answers questions they have not been asking.’ This book will help you see what questions Muslims are asking, and how the gospel provides a unique and satisfying answer to them.” (15)

Of course, it is imperative that we not only answer the questions that non-Christians are asking, but that we also direct them to the questions they should be asking. J.D.’s …

Posted in Book Reviews | 9 Comments

Worth a Look 9.29.10

A provocative article from George Robinson: Why All Good Christians Should Celebrate Halloween

The reason I propose that good Christians celebrate Halloween and stay home from the “Christian alternatives” is that Halloween is the only night of the year in our culture where lost people actually go door-to-door to saved people’s homes . . . and you’re down at the church hanging out with all your other good Christian friends having clean fellowship with the non-pagans.

Pew Forum finds that Americans don’t know much about religion and that atheists and agnostics are more knowledgeable than many believers:

A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Multi-Site Churches: Yea or Nay? A great conversation between James McDonald, Mark Dever, and Mark Driscoll

What to do when you sin against someone:

Reconciliation with a brother or sister takes precedence even over worship. This is truly astounding. It is also one of the most frequently disobeyed commands in all of Scripture.

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Al Mohler on Why He Changed His Mind on Women Pastors

Al Mohler reflects on why he changed his mind regarding women as senior pastors:

It was in the mid 1980′s, and it was a time of tremendous controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention. The issue of women in ministry, women in the pastorate, was an issue of central controversy.

In 1984, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution (a very contentious moment) on women. It was the first time that this denomination as a whole in terms of its annual meeting in such an official way had made a declaration that the office of pastor was restricted to men as qualified by Scripture. That incited one of the most incredible denominational controversies in the midst of that great controversy of the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s that one could imagine.

Many people took umbrage at that statement. Many people were hurt and outraged and stunned that the Southern Baptist Convention would say that a woman ought not to be pastor.

I was one of them.

I was a student in this institution (SBTS). This institution at that time taught monolithically that women – just as men – could and should be called as pastors in churches. There was no CBMW , no book on recovering biblical manhood and womanhood. You talk about the influence that a preacher or a teacher can set a course of his or her own error leading to others… I can give firsthand testimony of that.

When the denomination adopted that resolution in 1984, I not only took part, …

Posted in Baptists, Southern Baptist Convention | 35 Comments

Worth a Look 9.28.10

Nancy Guthrie pens an open letter to her pastors regarding Glenn Beck:

Thank you for your faithfulness in preaching Christ from the pulpit, not “the principles of America.” Thank you for leaving that to others and reserving the sacred desk at our church for preaching, in the last few weeks, about the once-for-all sufficient sacrifice of Christ, about the privilege we have to approach God in prayer as Father, about Christ as the Wisdom of God, about Christ as the most valuable Treasure in the universe, worth trading everything to have.

35 Witticisms from John Piper (See a few of my favorites below) – HT: Challies:

I don’t know what kind of sentimental ideas you have about Jesus. Just read your Bibles and they’ll go away.

I got all of those facts from this book. I’m not a genius. I just copied things.

“And yet one of you is a devil” This is not encouraging to the disciples. . . . they don’t know who it is. I mean, picture me at a staff meeting  . . . “

Bloggers: Five rules for your “About” page from Seth Godin

Are you a first-year seminary student? If so, then take a look at this helpful post:

As your personal tour guide to the realities of first-year seminary life, I have good news: There is hope. Remember: God has you there so that He can shape you into the person He wants you to be, for His glory. You’re the …

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Why I Hate Rating Books

All right, I confess. I don’t like rating books.

Here at the blog, I rate the books I briefly review for my “Book Notes” feature. Each month, I write a mini-review of a book or two for Christianity Today, and I provide a rating. Amazon.com requires me to post a rating too.

But I don’t like doing it.

Yes, I know that people who skim the blog, magazine, or the Amazon reviews find the rating system helpful in gaining quick perspective as to the value of the book. But the subjectiveness and confusion of the rating system bothers me.

Here’s what I mean. Take a look at how I interpret a five-star rating system:

* = Poor

** = Fair

*** = Good

**** = Excellent

***** = Go out and get this book right now! A masterpiece.

That’s my system. But not everyone reading a review analyzes it the same way I do.

So every now and then, I’ll get an email from an author whose book I rated “good” (three stars) on Amazon. They’ll say, “Trevin, was my book really that bad?” And I’ll say, “Not at all. In fact, I thought your book was good.” Then they say, “But you are hurting my overall rating average!” (Translation: “and my sales”). As a sympathetic author who wants to help another writer out, I’ll up the rating to four stars and console myself by thinking, Most people probably think four stars mean what I mean by “good” anyway.

When writing mini-reviews for Christianity Today, I used to submit “in-between …

Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | 13 Comments

Worth a Look 9.27.10

The problem of personal preferences:

Here’s something with which I struggle as a pastor—I have personal preferences too. As a leader I can spin my preferences as vision. My position means I get the most opportunities to vocalize what I like. I am called to shepherd a congregation—leading them to join God’s mission. But I can easily champion my preferences as the new direction of the church.

America’s true history of religious tolerance:

In the storybook version most of us learned in school, the Pilgrims came to America aboard the Mayflower in search of religious freedom in 1620. The Puritans soon followed, for the same reason. Ever since these religious dissidents arrived at their shining “city upon a hill,” as their governor John Winthrop called it, millions from around the world have done the same, coming to an America where they found a welcome melting pot in which everyone was free to practice his or her own faith. The problem is that this tidy narrative is an American myth.

Ed Stetzer interviews new president of the North American Mission Board, Kevin Ezell. Here are Ed’s questions:

    What do you think about your first two weeks at NAMB?
    There was some concerns from some executive directors from our state conventions. These are good men who were concerned about your giving history while you pastored Highview in Louisville. Any thoughts about their concerns?
    Any thoughts on how the blogosphere will influence SBC life?
    Now that you are NAMB president, what would you want Southern Baptists to know?
    How do …

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Adoniram Judson's Prayer for More Missionaries

O God, have mercy on the churches in the United States…
continue and perpetuate the heavenly revivals of religion
which they have begun to enjoy;
and may the time soon come when no church shall dare
to sit under Sabbath and sanctuary privileges
without having one of their number to represent them on heathen ground.

Have mercy on the theological seminaries,
and hasten the time when one half of all who yearly enter the ministry
shall be taken by thine Holy Spirit,
and driven into the wilderness,
feeling a sweet necessity laid on them,
and the precious love of Christ and of souls constraining them.

Hear, O Lord, all the prayers
which are this day presented in all the monthly concerts
throughout the habitable globe,
and hasten the millennial glory,
for which we are all longing, and praying, and laboring…
Come, O our Bridegroom; come, Lord Jesus!

- Adoniram Judson, quoted in J.D. Greear’s Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim, page 141

Posted in Prayers | 1 Comment

Les Misérables: Quotes to Ponder (3)

Julie Rose’s new translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is terrific. On Saturdays, I am sharing some quotes worth pondering (see first and second collections here):

“We chip away as best we can at the mysterious block of marble our lives are made of – in vain; the black vein of destiny always reappears.” (171)

“A white lie, a little white lie, does such a thing really exist? To lie is the absolute of evil. To lie a little is not possible; one who lies, lies wholly; the lie is the very face of the devil.” (179)

“There is a spectacle greater than the sea, and that is the sky; there is a spectacle greater than the sky, and that is the human soul.” (184)

“To write the poem of the human conscience, were it only that of a single man, were it only that of the most insignificant man, would be to meld all epics into one superior epic, the epic to end all.” (184)

“You can’t stop your mind returning to an idea nay more than you can stop the sea returning to shore. For the sailor, it is known as the tide; for the person with a guilty conscience, it is know as remorse. God lifts the soul as well as the ocean.” (189)

“To travel is to be born and to die at every instant. … Everything in life is constantly fleeing in a headlong rush ahead of us. Things cloud over and clear …

Posted in Quotes of the Week | 2 Comments