Monthly Archives: April 2016

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.