Suffering and Jesus (a must see)

Hi TD,

Suffering as a Christian is an integral part of being a Christian.  Period.  Nabeel Quereshi (former Muslim, author of the multi-award winning book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus) is no stranger to this, as he endured emotional and relational suffering after leaving Islam and surrendering to Christ, a cost he knew he would have to pay to come to the Truth. The above testimony/lecture and Q&A, Suffering and Jesus, is valuable teaching, perspective aligning, and very insightful.

The sub-title is “How Suffering Transformed My Life”  and was given earlier this year. imagesLittle did he know at the time  what other suffering God had in His plans for him.This week Nabeel announced a new suffering that God has placed in his life: advanced stomach cancer.  We just saw Nabeel, Michelle, and their new baby girl in June.  The thought of her possibly growing up without her dad is quite sobering:

Dear Friends and Family,

This is an announcement that I never expected to make, but God in His infinite and sovereign wisdom has chosen me for this refining, and I pray He will be glorified through my body and my spirit. My family and I have received the news that I have advanced stomach cancer, and the clinical prognosis is quite grim. Nonetheless, we are going to pursue healing aggressively, both medical and miraculous, relying on God and the fact that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

In the past few days my spirits have soared and sank as I pursue the Lord’s will and consider what the future might look like, but never once have I doubted this: that Jesus is Lord, His blood has paid my ransom, and by His wounds I am healed. I have firm faith that my soul is saved by the grace and mercy of the Triune God, and not by any accomplishment or merit of my own. I am so thankful that I am a child of the Father, redeemed by the Son, and sealed in the Spirit. No, in the midst of the storm, I do not have to worry about my salvation, and for that I praise you, God.

Unfortunately this means I am no longer able to engage in traveling ministry for the time being. I am canceling almost all my speaking events, with a few exceptions. From this point on until such a time as the Lord might choose to heal me, I intend to blog or vlog about my journey with cancer, transparently offering my heart, thoughts, and struggles in case they might encourage others and glorify God. I will no longer be with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, though it has been an absolute privilege to be on the team for the past 3 years. My third book, No God But One: Allah or Jesus?, launched today, and I still intend to write my next book, 20 Questions Muslims Ask and the Answers that Convert Them. Beyond that, the Lord knows.

Friends and family, may I ask you to fast and pray fervently for my healing? I do not profess to know the will of the Lord, but many of my close friends and confidants are convinced that this is a trial through which the Lord intends to bring me alive and refined. May His will be done, and may I invite you to seek Him in earnest, on your knees, fasting on my behalf, asking our Yahweh Rapha for healing in Jesus’ name.

And as you pray and fast, “I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:18-20)

For His Glory,
-Nabeel

Would you please join us in praying for Nabeel and his family?  Thank you. – Arthur

What We Need to Know About “The Crusades”

Hey TD,

Recent events in the Middle East against Christians have reminded some historians of the circumstances that gave rise to what is now famously known as “The Crusades.”  If you’ve ever engaged in any dialog with those unsympathetic to the Christian faith, it’s almost certain that you’ve heard The Crusades used as an example of Christian aggression in order to undermine the legitimacy of the Christian faith.

Often, the Christian doesn’t have much to say in response, usually choosing to just accept the “facts” and say something like, “But that’s not how Christians are supposed to act” or “But that’s not what Jesus teaches us to do.”  And that is certainly true.  However, it is important to know the truth behind The Crusades, the reason for them, the circumstances that led to them, and probably most importantly, that they were defensive wars, not offensive attempts to convert Muslims and other non-Christians to Christianity.

Below is a summary article from our friends at Stand to Reason that gives us basic facts to know about The Crusades.  I’m sure it will surprise you.  At the bottom of the article is a link to a full article written by Crusade historian, Thomas F. Madden.  I would highly encourage you to read that one.  It is chock-full of insight and information that is critical to a fair discussion on The Crusades, but usually goes unacknowledged.

I hope you’ll take the time to read and bone up on your understanding of Christian history! – Arthur

“ABOUT THOSE CRUSADES … ” posted by Amy K. Hall on http://www.str.org

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Since the Crusades are back in the news, these excerpts from a 2005 article by Crusade historian Thomas F. Madden will help you brush up on the basics:

For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them…. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Madden says there were two central goals of the Crusades:

The first was to rescue the Christians of the East. As his successor, Pope Innocent III, later wrote:

How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? … Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?

“Crusading,” Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith has rightly argued, was understood as an “an act of love”—in this case, the love of one’s neighbor. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. As Pope Innocent III wrote to the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the Gospel, ‘Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.'”

The second goal was the liberation of Jerusalem and the other places made holy by the life of Christ….

It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth…. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion. Indeed, throughout the history of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Muslim inhabitants far outnumbered the Catholics.

Obviously, there are more complexities involved, so read the rest of Madden’s article for more.