What Hitler and 15 others would say to me

  1. Adolf_20Hitler-16_001The Prince — What Machiavelli would say to me:  Dear Dennis, your virtue is not what matters, it’s that people perceive you as virtuous that matters, become a master of duplicity. Much good can be accomplished through what is traditionally known as evil, so dispense with those two unhelpful categories. The path to success and power, will of necessity involve lying, murder and extortion. Don’t sweat that, a true leader has a clear end in mind and the means to that end, will always be whatever it takes. One last thing, make sure you are perceived as religious, people will tend to trust you more, which will help you accomplish your goals.
  2. Discourse in Method — What Descartes would say to me:  Dear Dennis,  doubt everything, throw everything out! History, philosophy, religion, if you can conceive even for a minute how something does not add up, then junk it! How do you know anything? Well Dennis, you think therefore you are. — Whatever you think is the truth, must be the truth! What is real, truly real, is subject to your mind’s ability to grasp it. Conversely, if you can’t conceive it it must be false. You get to determine truth you see? Isn’t it grand!
  3. Leviathan — What Hobbes would say to me: Dear Dennis, everyman has a right to everything. Good is whatever gives me pleasure and evil is whatever or whoever stands in the way of me getting that pleasure. The natural man must demand his “rights” which are nothing more than his desires. Conscience is unnatural and should be discarded. There is no such thing as sin, justice or injustice, right or wrong, only my pleasure which is good and my pain which is bad. War is man’s natural state, because we consume each other to get what we want. That’s the good life, the natural life. The problem is when we live that way we end up destroying each other, so in order to stay alive we must, reluctantly, and with distrust and animosity, enter into society, which means we as humans agree to willingly restrain a minimal amount of our natural desires. The governments job is to maximize peoples freedoms to act on their desires, while at the same time doing what they can to minimize other peoples pain which will inevitably result from the fulfilment of those desires.
  4. Discourse on the origin and foundations of inequality among men — What Rousseau would say to me: Dear Dennis, make love often, work as little as possible, and reject authority. Civilization is man’s down fall, in our natural state, the man animal was happy, free and peaceful. We didn’t own anything, rather we roamed freely, awaiting natures compulsion for sex. When the desire arouse we acted on that desire without guilt or responsibility, and then moved on with life. Children were on their own early and even mothers love did not really exist. Society created unnatural, and artificial restraints on man such as duty, love and morality. These constraints started when some moron settled down and claimed land and women for his own. Dennis the ownership of land and the creation of family is the ruin of us all! By the way, women make a bigger deal of this artificial contrivance known as love, because they mean to control us, when they should be obeying us! Don’t fall for it.
  5.   The Communist Manifesto — What Marx would say to me: Dear Dennis, you have to realize that there is one problem and one problem only that ails the world. That problem is class struggle. We need to create a world where there are no classes. There is currently a corrupted class of rich people who dominate the poor, they need to be eradicated. Any revolution that uses violence to over throw these capitalists is justified, once we are rid of them, our utopian vision of society can be realized.  It will be one for all and all for one, the brutalities of capitalism will give way to the peace and serenity that comes with sharing our lives together, without capitalism, without religion, without sexual norms and without nuclear families.
  6. Utilitarianism — What Mill would say to me: Dear Dennis, I am not unlike Rousseau or even Hobbes in my thinking, I put it this way “The ultimate end…is an existence exempt as far as possible from pain, and as rich as possible in enjoyments. Our system of morality must be understood in terms of pleasure and pain nothing else. There is no God, nor is there a moral command written into nature. You need to understand Dennis, that there are no intrinsically wrong actions. You might want to know who gets to make judgement in society then? To that I say, those with the most experience, those who have tried the most things, because they will know experientially what works for happiness and what does not.
  7. The Descent of Man — What Darwin would say to me: Dear Dennis, this book is not quite as popular as my other one. I think it is because it’s a harsher truth, in my first book I brought to light the “survival of the fittest” explanation for life. In my next book I apply those findings to the human, and for some, those natural conclusions are rather distasteful. It makes no sense to care for the unfit, we don’t do that for animals why should we do it for the human animals? The other problem is, lousy people like the Irish seem to breed more than that good people like the Scottish, that’s a problem for the human race. Also there is no reason to think that the modern races shouldn’t exterminate the backward races, why not? that’s what happens in nature, there is no wrong here if Europeans exterminate African tribes for example. Skull sizes of Europeans are bigger than Australians, Africans and even most Americans, so that tells you whose on top doesn’t it? There is the trait of sympathy that exists among humans, it must have been helpful in past development, however, if the number of unfit continues to rise, within a people group, it will weigh that group down, then when they come into conflict with another people group unburdened by sympathy the weighed down peoples will not survive. Dennis sympathy is only good so long as it’s useful to survival of the species.
  8. Beyond Good and Evil — What Nietzsche would say to me: Dennis, you must have no room for gutless cowards like Hobbes and Mill. What the “nice” atheist’s and the liberal christians of your era say is complete garbage. Everyone wants to be nice, well, niceness is what is left of goodness when it is drained of greatness!  Humanity has only always ever developed and grown through suffering and pain. Bring it on! That’s what makes us greater, that’s what makes us super men! There is no up or down, there is no good or evil; just sheer human will swimming in an indifferent, if not hostile, cosmos. What matters Dennis is the will to greatness, that is all. There are 2 kinds of morality, master morality which is simply that struggle leading to dominance and greatness, and then there is slave morality which values such anemic qualities as gentleness, humility, and love. — This calamity known as Christianity is nothing but slave morality and you should cast it aside. 
  9. The State and Revolution — What Lenin would say to me:  Marx was right. All capitalists must die. All perceived capitalists must die, in fact anyone that disagrees with you on even the smallest points must die! Terror is the best way to run a country, people do what you want if they are scared out of their minds. Class struggle must end. we must liberate the oppressed class. Dennis you might be asking, well if we liberate the oppressed class than won’t the state just take the capitalist’s place as the oppressor of the poor class? Of course not you fool, ask that question one more time and I’ll kill you! Once all the bad capitalists are dead, the state will not really be needed anymore, violence will end, and the state will wither away, everyone will be free to work equally for the good of the state. Utopia, always is just around corner, just beyond the next mound of dead bodies.
  10. The Pivot of Civilization — What Sanger would say to me: I love, love, love Darwin. Here is the big problem in our world. We are on the verge of evolutionary regress, because we are allowing the feeble minded to breed indiscriminately. Stupid persons are draining off our resources, we spend incalculable amounts of money on asylums, jails, charities, why do we do this? we are aiding in our own demise.  We need to develop an IQ system that allows us to determine who is feeble minded so that we can commence with a policy of immediate sterilization. We won’t kill them off of course, but we will breed them out.
  11. Mein Kampf — What Hitler would say to me: Dear Dennis, I owe everything to Darwin, Nietzsche, Sanger, and Machiavelli, they were truly great people. Darwin was right, certain classes of people are inferior and it’s actually good that they be exterminated — our vision of national socialism is nothing less than applied Darwinian biology. I agree with Sanger, that the feeble minded persons should be sterilized, but even more so, undesirables should be eliminated along with the inferior races. Its easier to slit a throat than it is to castrate. The Arian race is the super man race that Nietzsche spoke of and I will expect my people to do “superhuman acts of inhumanity” in order to become great. We as a nation are so far beyond good and evil we can’t even see them anymore.
  12. The Future of an Illusion — What Freud would say to me: I am a godless Jew, I presume atheism, and the anti-semitism I have experienced has pushed me to write this revenge work against religion.  What than is religion? Nothing more than a foolish illusion by infantile minds. It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent Providence, if our world had a moral order and an after life, but all of this is just wishful thinking. How did this illusion come to be? Some sons wanted to have sex with their mother, they killed and ate their father thinking that by eating him they would gain his strength & privileges, they felt guilty, so eventually they developed sacred meals, to commemorate, condemn, and cover up the original event. Thus religion and morality was born, with prohibitions against incest, murder, and cannibalism. Any questions? Where did I get this from? Well Dennis its all there in our deep dark past, all we have to do is look.
  13. Coming of Age in Samoa — What Mead would say to me: Dear Dennis, The western world is full of stress and struggle, full of adolescent turmoil. I think it is because of Christian sexual morality in particular. My thought was that the natural person in his primitive state would be more free of conflict then us in the west. So I packed my bags and shipped off to Polynesian Samoa to hang out with the savages for awhile. What I discovered was that they experienced no problems surrounding romantic love because such problem causing ethics like monogamy, fidelity, and jealousy didn’t exist in their society, only free and easy sex. Also parent child problems didn’t exist because whenever children in that culture didn’t get along with their parents they just moved on to some other relative. Strong familial love is a problem. Less love not more creates less stress and more happiness. So their you have it, with just a few months of observation I quickly figured out the heart of Western problems, and justified a life of personal infidelity (of course I don’t talk about that in my book)
  14. Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male — What Kinsey would say to me: Dear Dennis your natural state is one of amoral sexual extravaganza. There is no moral law connected to sex. There is nothing abnormal verses normal when it comes to sex, there is only sexual pleasure that exists. There are an infinite variety of sexual forms and practices, It is all natural and normal and should not be stigmatized in any way. I’ve proven it with a torrent of graphs and charts, data and scientific language. You can do whatever you want sexually and it is completely ok. Since I wear a lab coat you need to listen to me. The sexual revolution was upon us when I wrote this book, so people were eager to accept my findings whether they were baseless or not. I was eager to accept my own findings as well as my own bizarre sex life will attest.
  15. The Feminine Mystique — What Friedan would say to me: — Women are incomplete when they stay at home, love their husbands and care for their families. This incompleteness is actually misery whether they admit it or not. Homelife and child raising is not meaningful work, it only leads to the unhealthy conclusion of a purposeless, boring, insignificant life. Women will only truly find meaning and fulfillment if they cast off these home responsibilities and join the work force like men do. The idea of a bliss-full house wife is a complete myth. Let the government take care of children, the nuclear family concept with mom’s raising children and wives lovingly supporting their husbands is quite possibly the worst idea of all.
  16. What Jesus would say to me. Trust me, pray, forgive, repent, keep your commitments, follow my commandments,  practice fidelity, bless your neighbourhood, help the weak and brokenhearted, because of me and my sacrifice for you embrace an ethos of gratitude, humility, service and worship. Cling to a hope which transcends even the grave.

What’s the better story? To me it’s not even close.

Special thanks to Ben Wiker and his book 10 Books that screwed up the world and 5 others that didn’t help.

Understanding Four Views on Baptism

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Baptism has been around for as long as the church has been around, Sadly, it has a contentious history as various expressions of the church have attempted to silence contrary views. For example in 1527 Felix Manz who believed that only professing adult believers should be baptized was condemned to death by Zwingli and his group of reformers who believed that baptism was for infants as an induction into the church. Zwingli and the council cruelly decided that since Felix was so focused on adult baptism he should have it as his method of execution and so his life was ended at the bottom of the Limmat river.

Thankfully, tensions have subsided, and all parties in this debate are much more amicable, we’ve come a long way forward since the actions of 1527, but there are still differences as this book points out. It should be noted that there is no discussion on the Roman Catholic understanding of baptism as a way of salvation. All four views represented here, do not support the Catholic view.

Baptist View — “Baptism” derives from the Greek word baptisma and denotes the action of washing or plunging in water (Acts 2:41). From the earliest days of Christianity baptism was the symbolic rite of initiation into the body. By this watery sign, made in the triune name of God, people are openly admitted into the life and community of the church. All agree that baptism is the symbolic door into the church but is it more than that? Baptists say no. Also Should this rite of initiation be offered to children? Baptist again say no. When looking at Biblical evidence, the Baptist case seems strong, every reference to baptism in the New Testament is connected to adult confessing believers. Even the two household baptism’s mentioned in the book of Act’s provide rather unconvincing support that anyone other then confessing believers were baptized.

Reformed View —This camp looks at the passages of Scripture on baptism and sees words like “rebirth, renewal, forgiveness, salvation, and union with Christ” intimately connected to the rite. There has to be more than symbol, say the reformers, however, when pressed for details and explanations, reformed theologians stop short, they admit they don’t know, “the precise relationship is mysterious or unexplained” they say.

To sum up, Reformed theologians prefer the term “sacrament” (i.e. mystery) to the term symbol because there is more going on, but as to what, it cannot be said, only that there is no salvation happening, like the Catholics would say.

Regarding infant baptism: “We baptize children to initiate them into covenant with God and to incorporate them into the visible church. As circumcision brought infant boys into the visible nation of Israel, baptism brings children into the visible church.” For me the connection that replaces circumcision with baptism is tenuous at best. It’s a massive assumption to suggest that since, initiation into the covenant was necessary in the old through circumcision, it must be necessary in the new through baptism. Adding to this assumption is the uneasy conclusion that since the visible church is made up of regenerate and unregenerate people, it doesn’t really matter that unregenerate children are baptized.

Lutheran — Luther believed that God enters into conversation with his fallen human creatures through his Word in oral, written, and sacramental forms. Regarding the sacrament of baptism he says “Water can’t save you, but the Word which is in and through the water does.” Baptism is the necessary sign of an eternal covenant, which helps us see that even when we break our promises, God will not break his. Infant’s participate in this because salvation is God’s work not human work, in addition Jesus himself said “let the little children come unto me.” It seems almost impossible not to conclude that at least in some sense salvation is happening with the infant. Luther’s sovereignty of God perspective allows him to do this almost effortlessly.

Church of Christ — This camp doesn’t like “sacrament” terminology and they certainly reject infant baptism. The author of this section, makes the strongest statements against those traditions in this book

“I think it is fair to say that infant baptism (especially indiscriminate infant baptism) may be the single most important reason why Western Europe is becoming lost to Christianity. Many potential converts to an active Christian faith have been rendered immune to evangelization due to their baptism as an infant in some church. I know this firsthand, as I was born in France and lived and worked as a missionary in my native Belgium.”

For the church of Christ, baptism is the occasion of salvation. It’s the ceremony which marks formal allegiance to Jesus. This terminology, in my estimation, is potentially confusing, and is probably why the church of Christ has been accused of supporting the notion of baptismal regeneration.

Baptist Reformed Lutheran Church of Christ
Symbol

A picture of what God has done and is doing.

Sacrament

A mystery, placing one in the visible church.

Salvation (through Word not Water)

Sacrament as agent of God’s Word

Occasion of Salvation

Ceremony marking formal allegiance

My thoughts are that baptism is something that should happen after conversion. It serves as both a symbol and strengthener of the gospel. It both visualizes our faith in Christ but also in a very sacramental way builds it up. Baptism is also the rite that welcomes believers into Christ’s body the church.

Regarding the baptism of infants, I agree which the great 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon when he says “I am amazed that an unconscious babe should be made the partaker of an ordinance which, according to the plain teaching of the Scriptures, requires the conscious acquiescence and complete heart-trust of the recipient. Very few, if any, would argue that babies ought to receive the Lord’s Supper; but there is no more Scriptural warrant for bringing them to the one ordinance than there is for bringing them to the other”

The Business of Jesus

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Mistin was chatting with a business minded non-religious friend in the neighbourhood

“Is there such a thing as a five year funk in business?”

“Absolutely, it’s about the time you start asking the question, ‘Am I going to be doing this forever?’”

“Well my husband and I talked about it, and we feel like there isn’t anything else we’d rather do with our lives, it’s just that we feel like we are in a bit of a funk, maybe because we don’t feel very successful with our church.”
“Well, how do you define success for your church? How do you measure it?”

“I suppose one way we would measure it, would be to help people love and follow Jesus to such a point that they are willing to be publicly baptized.”

“Ok, well then, we need to figure out a workable pipeline that leads people from attending your mothers day parties to becoming devoted enough to Jesus that they want to be baptized.”

“Ok?”

“Business works like this, you do free stuff at the beginning, people get interested, then you call people to sign on for small packages, then medium packages, then the large package which in your case is fully devoted followers of Jesus who want to be baptized. It seems to me that you and Dennis are excellent at giving away the free stuff — you are good at the entry level, your mothers day parties and BBQ’s are tremendous, everybody loves them, but then where do you take the people from there?”

“Well, we just kind of wait, and pray, we believe the Spirit of God works in people to where they will start asking questions, and when they do we are ready to talk about Jesus with them.”

“Hmm, yeah, the spirit thing, I suppose that’s important, but what about small and medium packages? Take me for example, I don’t know enough about Jesus and baptism to know if I want the big package, but, knowing you guys, I’d probably be interested in a small or medium package, well anyway, happy to talk more about this if you like, we really want to help you.”

“Thanks.”

Thus concluded business 101 for the Wilkinsons. Does she have a point? What small and medium packages could we as a church offer? Is the church like Costco? Experience free samples of sausages, so that you can buy a package of sausages, so that you will eventually buy a pallet of them? Is the flow of Christian discipleship about smooth up-sell? I don’t think so.

Even still at what point does the walk of faith meet with a business model that works?  Are there strategies that can be employed to help along the process of discipleship? The great evangelist Billy Sunday of the late 19th century bragged that he could personally guarantee a soul for every dollar donated to his business model of evangelism. Does success really come down to business models and marketing?

The only pipeline I know of is love. We must love people well, that means being present and available, that means being generous and hospitable. That means being a good friend and one who sees the needs of a neighbourhood and meet’s them. The Spirit of God acts through these tangible expressions of love, this inevitably creates conversations, which create opportunities for people to grow in their knowledge and love for the Lord and for the Lord’s people. If every Christian practiced the above as their pipeline towards success. I suspect there would be a lot more baptisms.

Release — By Mistin Wilkinson

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I confided to Jane that another person in my life had been extremely mean to me and I kept playing in my mind how I would talk to her if I ever got the chance.  Jane told me I absolutely must “take those thoughts captive”. Don’t allow the mind to run like that.  Simply stop it!  Let it go.  Move on.  Yea, yea, I got the message. . .  and it felt rather unsympathetic.

The next week I was vacuuming my floor and playing my favourite “tell-her-off-in-my-mind” game when the vacuum cord popped up out of no where and smacked me in the face!  No kidding!  I stopped, looked up to the heavens and said, “I get it!!  I’ll stop it!  I’ll let it go!”

And I’ve tried.  But more people keep being mean to me.  (Can you hear the childish whine in my voice?)  They say harsh things that are unfounded.  I don’t get the chance to clarify what is truth.  They just tell me off and walk away and I’m too shocked to answer in the moment so I keep answering in my head over and over again for months!

What does this do for my mental state?  Everything opposite of my favourite Bible verse. . . “He has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind”.  I’m the one becoming mentally unstable!!!!!  Where’s the justice in this?  Those people were mean to me!  They falsely accused me out loud to many other people!!  This is not fair!  I need to let them know. . . some day!  I better keep preparing my speeches.

I’ve begun to notice when I work on my speeches interesting things happen.  Mighty rushing winds while running, sudden cloud bursts of rain, stubbing my toe, forgetting something on the stove, random door-knocker, large truck interrupts train of thought, phone dings. . . etc.  It’s almost as if something is trying to stop my internal rants. . . . nah – that’s just too supernatural and spooky. . . .

And besides these people who’ve hurt my feelings so badly and then just gone on w their lives really need to know the damage they’ve done!  They’ve ripped out bits of my heart, my will, my stamina, my joy.  They’ve stolen whole weeks worth of sleep from me!!  They’ve altered my enthusiasm and even my personality!  They’ve taken an upbeat extrovert and made me into a hiding hermit! If I could only tell them how they’ve wounded me so deeply, perhaps then I could get back to my old happy self!

At this point in a conversation I would naturally say, “What do you think?” to get some affirmation.  But I’m not asking this time.  I don’t want to know what you think or anyone else.  I’m busy ranting.  Don’t interrupt.

Then this week I woke up with the following thought.

I keep waiting for sincere apologies and I keep planning my responses and people keep saying and doing “mean things” to me so how long will this cycle continue?  I need to figure out how to “let it go” for my own sake!  The book of Hebrews mentions a root of bitterness that can spring up in the heart and destroy us.  I need to not let that happen!  If I continue on this path, I could let my own thoughts destroy me!

These offenders have likely forgotten their offences and moved on with their lives (maybe even to go on offending others or repeat offending me)!  They never knew and likely never will understand the depth of the wounds they have inflicted on my heart.

I need to release them.

When I release them, the natural consequence will be that I cut my own bonds of bitterness and free myself.

So today I attempt to release them to the hands of the Almighty God who desperately loves them and wants to restore them.  He loves them in equal measure to His love for me.  How I must come to grips w the Father’s love for all humans!

Father God, I ask for your blessing on my offenders.  I ask you for my release from the grip bitterness has gained on my heart.  Please free me from the memories of their harsh words and actions. Help me to treat them as forgiven by YOU and loved images of your divine presence in our world!

When Your Kid Is Into Geography

Falkland-Islands-Corrals

A child of mine and I were walking the sea wall. Talk shifted to swear words.

“Do you know any?” I asked

“Yes I think so” she said.

“Which swear word do you know?”

“The F-word”

“You know the F-Bomb? What is it, tell me?”

“Dad?”

“Yes, go ahead tell me”

Haltingly, with a rather British tone she says to me

“Faalk”

I correct her pronunciation and remind her that the F-word is not an appropriate word choice for her.

As I finish coaching her up, I notice a wave of relief washing over her face.

“What?” I ask.

“Whew” she says “There is a place on the map called the Falkland Islands and all this time I thought they were really really bad islands.

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School is going to be different now

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They had finally arrived. No more war, no more wandering and wondering what might happen to them. The Syrians were safe in Canada now and in our neighbourhood. We wanted to welcome them in and so a tour of our school seemed appropriate. The Vice Principal, accompanied by a translator, and a few local parents gave these families the full tour. At the end of the tour, the Vice Principal asked the Syrian children for feed back. One of the older boys whose head had been on a swivel for the entire tour remarked that he thought it odd that he had seen no children being beaten.

There was a pause, as the shocking contrast of culture & worldview was realized in this simple observation. Finally the Vice Principal sputtered out a response “You are safe here, if I or any of the teachers beat you we go to jail.”

The boy might need more convincing then that, but it was good enough to coax a smile out of him. Canada is going to be all right after all.

Jesus Loves the Little Children – Especially the Refuges

Some paper, some pencil crayons and a  chance to give some refugee kids a bit of fun. That was the plan. The drive down to southern Turkey was uneventful, and upon arrival at the camp there was no shortage of kids. After John* had distributed his stockpile he began to make the rounds to see what everyone had drawn. One set of pictures left John and his colleagues stunned.

A small boy produced his first picture. It was his family together in their house, everyone was smiling and the sun was shining, but in the top left there was something ominous. A plane has been sketched in, with a bomb dropping out of it.  11406979_10153355552678057_6497217399306184937_n

In the next picture, the smiles have turned to frowns and tears can be seen on the faces of the children. The mom is no where to be seen, the house is on fire and an army tank approaches. This was the boys story, the same tragic story of millions.

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But that wasn’t the last of the pictures. The little boy produced a third picture. A picture of a man hanging on the cross.

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John, a follower of Jesus, asked the little muslim boy who the man on the cross was. The boy, stared back at John and stated matter of factly; “This is the man who is going to stop the war.” The boy however, had no idea who the man on the cross actually was. Somehow in those dark moments of terror, death, and destruction, Jesus had revealed himself to this little muslim boy, and given him great comfort and hope. John explained that the man to stop the war was Jesus and for the first time the boy heard the name of the person he was already hoping in.

*I’ve changed the name

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Prayer: A waste of time?

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Look, Dennis I appreciate you and all that you and your family do for our neighbourhood, but I just don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe prayer accomplishes anything, and so I’d really rather not talk about any of that stuff.” Thankfully, his confession of unbelief did not deter our friendship in the least and soon we were making plans to take our sons on an overnight canoe/camping trip. The trip was fantastic, until the journey home. The four of us were in one canoe and in order to get home we had to cut across a channel a couple miles wide. As we got out into the channel, the wind picked up, and in seconds things got nasty. In the blink of an eye, we had crossed the line from adventure to danger.  We could no longer just go straight across the channel. If the waves hit the canoe broadside we would be in serious trouble so we had to painstakingly angle the canoe across the channel. As wave after wave crashed into the bow of the canoe soaking my friend, his son became very afraid and began to scream and cry. Meanwhile in the back of the canoe I was frantically attempting every stroke I knew to keep the wind and waves from turning us broadside. At this point my seven year old son, turned and looked at me quizzically, the up and down motion of the waves had seemed like a fun roller coaster to him, but now with the his little friend screaming and the intense struggle from both the dads he wasn’t so sure. I called out to my son above the roar of the wind and waves.

“Darve we are in a serious situation and I need you to do 2 things, I need you to pray right now, and I need you to paddle hard!”

So at the top of his lungs Darve began to pray. He asked that we could be saved from this storm, that God would protect his friend, and us grown ups, that the water would stay out of the boat, on and on he prayed, until nothing was left uncovered by prayer.  There were no tears or panic in this little man — just prayer and paddling.

When we finally arrived on the other side, my friend and I were exhausted, but not too exhausted to give each other a big hug. Things could have gone so badly for us, and it felt good, really good to be on shore.

I wonder if my dear friend still believes that prayer accomplishes nothing? I wonder if my sons simple prayer in the dark and dangerous moments of our trip showed us all, in ways more clear than any sermon, that the prayer of faith accomplished courage, hope and determination in the heart of a little boy who paddled hard.

 

Seeking Allah Finding Jesus

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It’s costly to convert — I always feel that anyone who writes a book like this must be very brave. Muslims don’t really have the option to change their religion. It’s one of those unthinkable things, something that still warrants capital punishment in many parts of the world. The cost of leaving the Muslim faith is immense. If physical death is somehow avoided, there is certainly the death of relationships, career opportunities and social standing. Nabeel was not just a cultural Muslim, he was a devotee to his Ahmadiyya sect of Islam. From the time of his birth he was indoctrinated in his faith, as he grew up in the west, his parents were delighted to see their only son become a staunch defender of Islam. In the Western world, preconceptions are freely and regularly challenged but Nabeel met these challenges with apologetic fervour. Eventually, over the course of many years, Nabeel left Islam to embrace Christianity, the price for him, even in the west, was tremendous.

Sharing ones faith is best accomplished in the context of a relationship  — The book is about Nabeel’s story but it certainly could be David’s story as well. They were best friends through high school and university, the two were inseparable even though David was a committed Christian. Regarding evangelism Nabeel points out that

“Effective evangelism requires relationships. There are very few exceptions, the discussions that we had about faith arose naturally after we became friends and in the context of a life lived together. In fact I was the one who brought them up.”

I could not agree more.

Historical probability, truth and faith. — David and Nabeel were debaters in high school and university, they constantly challenged each other to find out the truth about whatever topic they were debating. Rational and reasonable argument became the norm for discovering truth. When it came to historical discussions the highest amount of probability based on the historical method was the criteria for distinguishing truth form error. One day David asked Nabeel the following question.

“Nabeel, stop trying to win the argument instead look for the truth — If the truth could be known, would you want to know it?

Nabeel’s answer was both “Yes” and “No” because he knew full well the cost if truth was not on his side. This launched his intense search for truth about the Bible, Jesus, the Quran, and Muhammed.

What about Jesus, the Bible, the Quran and Muhammed? Acknowledging the possibility of truth based on historical probability, Nabeel set out to undercut the claims of Christianity. Christians claim that Jesus died on the cross, Muslim’s say he didn’t. Christians claim that Jesus rose from the dead, Muslims say he did not. Christians claim that Jesus is divine, Muslims say that he is not. Looking at the evidence by use of the historical method the goal was to set the two stories side by side and determine which one is more likely the true one. This book settles into a relentless search for truth, but never does it disconnect from the humanity of this story or the cost of this search. It’s way more than just straight up apologetics.

The book reads like it might feel to be on board a ship that’s sinking. Nabeel doesn’t want the boat to sink, you as the reader can feel his anxiety and alarm, he writes in such a way that you don’t want the boat to sink either. After all, the boat of Islam is all he has known, it’s been a good boat for him. But the holes in the boat he discovers are real holes. They are undeniable. To leave the boat is the right course, if truth matters, but oh the struggle.

Faith more than just facts  — Towards the end of the book Nabeel is broken, Christianity has withstood his withering scrutiny and his own faith has fallen. Muhammed is not the man Nabeel thought he was, the perfect preservation of the Quran is a myth. The ancient Muslim historians upon whom he depended for vindication of his faith, revealed the truth, and the truth was far from the story upon which his faith was built. Even still, it was too costly to leave his faith. If Jesus was real, If he was who the Christians claimed then Jesus would just have to show up and tell him directly. In three successive dreams, Jesus did. Nabeel knew the truth. To embrace Jesus as Lord would cost him everything, but hanging on to a lie would ultimately cost him more.

Serious Study — Nabeel is not like most people in the Western world who are content to embrace at a minimal level whatever cultural and religious back drop they are born into just so long as it doesn’t interfere with their personal freedom to do and be whatever they want. Truth was all that mattered to Nabeel he had to find it and align himself accordingly. In the end It was Christianity that was true not Islam.

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