Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Religion of Islam

Studying the religion of Islam is something I earnestly put off over the years. Knowing my unpreparedness on the subject, I quieted my conscience with the untruth that Islam is not something I encounter on a regular basis.

Not a few things in my life served as a constant reminder of my inability to be a faithful witness to Muslims. Standing at the forefront was that Elder James has made Islam a top priority of Alpha and Omega Ministries. In fact, Dr. White has three debates set up with the most well-known English-speaking Muslim apologist, Shabir Ali.

Next, my every day reading of the news has forced me to confront the fact that at least some Muslims are willing to kill Muslims of a different flavor as well as non-Muslims in the name of Islam.

Unsure about which book to begin with, I picked up Ron Rhodes’ Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims. It served as a simple introduction to the Muslim religion, but I do not believe it is enough to fully prepare one for evangelism with Muslims. Elder James recommended Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross by Geisler and Saleeb, and having looked at the chapter contents, I cannot wait to begin reading it.

Ron Rhodes includes a call to evangelism in the introduction of his book that encouraged me: “The current estimates are that a mere two percent of the Protestant missionary force is actively involved in evangelizing among 1.3 billion Muslims. William Miller says that ‘with some glorious exceptions, the Christians of the world have signally failed to obey Christ by sending laborers to sow and reap a harvest in Muslim lands.’ Not only are there too few Christian missionaries evangelizing Muslims in other countries, there are far too few Christians seeking to reach Muslims in our own country. This is not as it should be.” (Rhodes 19).

He is absolutely correct that Christians, including myself, need to be more faithful in witnessing to Muslims. Might we take to heart Christ’s words in Matthew 9:37-38, “37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."” (NASB).

I want to be found faithful in asking the Lord to send out workers into the field, particularly to reach Muslims. It is also my desire to be a faithful worker proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to our sinful world.

Because of Christ,

A Minor Announcement

How could I have forgotten to post about recent news? If anyone remembers two years ago at Alpha and Omega Ministries annual business meeting, I was asked to be a corporate member. All of the guys were able to catch me completely off guard, or to put it more simply: I was stunned. It has been a great couple of years, learning from the AOMin crew.

As it turns out, I was equally caught off guard at our past meeting where Rich Pierce, the master of surprises, asked me to be a board member. As you can imagine, this surprise made my night =).

I'm honored to serve with godly and capable apologists such as James White, Rich Pierce, Mike Porter, Simon Escobedo, Warren Smith, and many others. They are such a blessing to me, and I hope to continue learning from their wisdom and their firm devotion to Christ's gospel.

In Christ,

"For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night"

A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.
Go hence to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned and some punished.
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

(Shakespeare 327).

A tragic ending is befitting of tragic words, and Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” concluded in proper form. It was an honest pleasure to read through such well-written prose and poetry. On the same token I equally enjoyed the hate, malice, murders, secrets, and general ungodliness throughout the story – do notice my cynicism =). My reasons for reading this work were twofold: First, to become familiar with this famous piece of literature. The second reason may prove to be more concrete, and that is my desire to perhaps borrow some poetry for the future towards a girl whom, to my knowledge, I have yet to meet *innocent smile*. Whichever reason dominates the other, I am able to say boldly that Shakespeare was a remarkable writer. Romeo and Juliet’s circumstances go from bad to worse, and it is a bit unnerving to watch sinful people not do anything right. For me it served as a warning of what not to do. For example, I was reminded to always tell the truth, whenever possible.

My expectations going into the play were not met, but I do recognize that this play is not as novel as it was during the 1600’s =). We have new stories to choose from almost daily, so it is a little unfair of me to remove Shakespeare from the context he was in.

To those who have read “Romeo and Juliet,” is it my imagination or was Shakespeare a pervert? I’m unable to count all the sexual references and puns made throughout the story. On every other page most of the main characters were continuously using foul language, making crude jokes and had a non-serious attitude about sex in general.

Yet, as distasteful as I found the barrage of sexual discussion, I did enjoy much of the romantic dialogue.

Not long after Romeo first lays eyes on Juliet he proclaims this to no one in particular:

Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
As a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear,
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight,
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.
(Shakespeare 105).

See what I mean?

As time permits, I intend on reading through a number of Shakespeare’s plays. My roommate, Scott, tells me that “Henry V” is an incredible story. So that's next, then others.

That’s it from the Shakespearian front.

By and by until we meet thee again,

Thursday, March 15, 2007

“Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together..."

In America “people do not enquire of a stranger, What is he? but, What can he do?” wrote Benjamin Franklin in a pamphlet meant to entice Europeans to immigrate to America.

Covering the length of time that I’ve delved into the study of history, it was not until recently that I was enticed enough to read Benjamin Franklin. His Autobiography was witty and a little boring at times. Walter Isaacson’s biography was much more appealing, as is often the case with autobiographical counterparts. To my utter surprise, Mr. Franklin was the most popular American in the known world during his lifetime. Ben was a printer, publisher, husband, father, postmaster of the American colonies, scientist, diplomat, and successful politician.

What was most disconcerting for me to read at length was his worldview: a self-proclaimed Deist. Like many of his contemporaries embracing that movement known as the "Enlightenment," Franklin was forcibly opposed to all religious belief and conviction with the exception of moral teachings. For Franklin, he held a particular interest in religion that was practical and applicable to every day life (though Christians understand all true religion as being applicable).

Isaacson presented a convincing argument placing Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards as representatives of the two mainstream perspectives during the era. Edwards held deep religious conviction and was a leader of the great Evangelical movement, the Great Awakening. Franklin represents the polar opposite perspective and movement: the Enlightenment. Edwards was concerned with people’s spiritual needs above all else, and allowed that to impact his entire life. Franklin emphasized science and practicality over against spiritual matters.

Like most of the colonists, it took time for Franklin to endorse the idea of breaking away from England. His arguments for colonial independence were convincing … to the “Enlightened” mind, but they fail to convince the Biblically minded person.

During the American Revolutionary War, the colonies selected Ben Franklin as their primary ambassador to negotiate a peace treaty with England. He already possessed world renown because of his mastery over lightning as a direct result of his various experiments, culminating in the lightning rod. Benjamin was comfortable with European culture and politics because of his extravagant travels (he spent over 15 years in England and France). It came as no surprise to discover that Franklin was the only ambassador to remain during the entire negotiating process. The reader has surely spotted my cynicism of the colonists’ rebellion, but after it began, I have to admit that Franklin played an essential role in talks of a treaty. Surely, without him, the war would have lasted considerably longer.

Franklin’s great successes were the fruition of his very capable social skills, especially persuasion. He was a social butterfly, and used these social tendencies to his advantage.

Whereas he greatly lacked in oratory skill, he made up for in the cleverness of his writings. In a scientific spoof he made to the Royal Academy of Burssels, he humorously suggests studying the cause and cure for farting: “It is universally well known that in digesting our common food, there is created or produced in the bowels of human creatures a great quantity of wind. That the permitting this air to escape and mix with the atmosphere is usually offensive to the company from the fetid smell that accompanies it. That all well-bred people therefore, to avoid giving such offense, forcibly restrain the efforts of nature, it not only gives frequently great present pain, but occasions future diseases... Were it not for the odiously offensive smell accompanying such escapes, polite people would probably be under no more restraint in discharging such wind in company than they are in spitting or in blowing their noses. My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some drug wholesome and not disagreeable, to be mixed with our common food or sauces, that shall render the natural discharges of wind from our bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as perfumes.” (Isaacson, 373).

As inspiring as the discussion on farting is, I have yet to present my favorite line of Franklin’s: “Another time, he was playing [chess] with his equal, the Duchess of Bourbon, who made a move that inadvertently exposed her king. Ignoring the rules of the game, he promptly captured it. “Ah,” said the duchess, “we do not take Kings so.” Replied Franklin in a famous quip: “We do in America.”” (Isaacson, 372).

Anyone with a strong interest in the Enlightenment or the American Revolutionary War would profit from reading Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.

Permit me to conclude with one last scene, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, no less: “At the official signing of the parchment copy on August 2, John Hancock, the president of the Congress, penned his name with his famous flourish. “There must be no pulling different ways,” he declared. “We must all hang together.” According to the early American historian Jared Sparks, Franklin replied: “Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” (Isaacson, 313).


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

One of THOSE emails

Quite surprised, was I, to be “tagged” into these humorous lists. The reader can count on me not to disappoint.

"If I can get the Rusted One to put down his Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte for a minute, I will tag him."

In turn, I cheerfully tag: js4jc, Prince Cor, Jayj and Judge Roberts. Mwuahahaha

1. What is your occupation?
Office Manager for American Family Insurance; Supervisor at Starbucks Coffee Company; Part Time Student at ASU

2. What color are your socks right now?

3. What are you listening to right now?
Silence, haha

4. What was the last thing that you ate?
The breakfast of champions: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a nutrigrain bar (cinnamon flavored), and a glass of apple juice

5. Can you drive a stick shift?
Yea baby!

6. When is your birthday, and how old will you be on that day, this year?
Oct 16, Twenty Five

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
My mom. Awww, how cute

8. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
Not in the slightest. (kidding!)

9. How many states have you lived in?
Two – AZ and CA (do forgive me for this crime)

10. Favorite Drink?
Iced Double Venti Non-Fat Light Ice Tazo Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks. Coca-Cola Classic is second.

11. What is your favorite sport to watch?

12. Have you ever dyed your hair?
I’ve had it “frosted.” Does that count?

13. Pets?
Nah. But I’d like a dog once I get married.

14. Favorite Food?
Mexican – Serrano’s

15. What was the last movie you watched?
National Treasure

16. Favorite day of the year?

17. What do you do to vent anger?
Talk out loud, walk, pray, talk to a friend

18. What was your favorite toy as a child?
GI Joes (the American hero)

19. What is your favorite season?
Winter ‘cause I adore Christmas. Right Hobs? =)

20. Hugs or kisses?
Who’s doing the hugging and the kissing? =)

21. Cherries or blueberries?
I love the sweetened cherries they put in sodas. If they’re normal cherries, then I’d side with blueberries.

22. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back?

23. Who is most likely to respond?
Your mom

24. Who is least likely to respond?
Mike Porter

25. Living arrangements?
Apartment, gotta luv the Bachelor pad!

26. When was the last time you cried?
Probably in December.

27. What is on the floor of your closet?
Clothes hamper, and clothes that missed the hamper, which is why I will NOT be making my career in the NBA

28. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to?
Hmm, Probably JJ Brenner.

29. What did you do last night?
Went to the grocery store, visited with my mom who is recovering from surgery, read at Bucks, finished going through The God Who Justifies with my youngest bro, hung out with Cory and Scott at my apartment, watched an episode of Smallville, read some more, went to bed.

30. Favorite smells?
Christmas trees

31. What inspires you?
Godly men, good books

32. What are you afraid of?

33. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?

34. Favorite dog breed?
Cocker Spaniels

35. Number?

36. How many years at your current job?
Six, One

37. Favorite day of the week?
The Lord’s Day

38. Where would you like to retire?
Dunno if I will retire. If so, Gilbert, AZ

39. Favorite Movie?
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

40. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery?

41. What are your plans for today?
Work, dinner, church, Bucks (read), chillax at home

42. Are you actually going to answer all these and send them back to the person who sent them to you?
No, but she will see them on my blog!

Okay, now it's your turn. If you don't send these back, Joel Osteen will move into your basement and smile at you every time you go down there to do laundry. It's true, it happened to my cousin's sister-in-law's best friend's uncle. He's now blind and suffering from really bad theology. Poor guy.