September 11, Islam, Christ, & Me

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Some of you may know a part of my testimony. Others may have never heard.

September 11 was the day that moved me to find out what my faith in Islam was all about. The movement towards Islam meant that I started to read the Quran and tried to be a more faithful Muslim by praying five times a day and keeping my fasts.

I failed miserably on all counts.

I did not know grace or even what the word meant, even though I lived in the United States and spoke English. In the Quran, I came across Surah 19 – a chapter about Isa Masih (Jesus the Messiah). I could not reconcile the fact that this man was unlike any other men in the Quran. After praying to God with an open heart to tell me how to see the truth, God led me to a church. At this church, I heard the Gospel for the first time in 25 years of living in the United States.

In the Gospel, I heard about grace, forgiveness for my sins, mercy of God and a peace that passes all understanding through Christ Jesus’s work on the cross.

You see… it was never about me and my own works. It was all about God and His glory.

That’s why I write and that’s why I speak. All for God’s glory, revealed in Christ.

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My New Book ~ Reaching Muslims!

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Dear Friends,

I am SO excited to share the publishing of my new book “Reaching Muslims – A Christian’s Guide to Islam!” It was published this week by Gethsemane Press and is now available on Amazon.com, Kindle, B&N.com, and other major venues.

I’d love to invite you all to the Book Launch Party on FRIDAY, July 20 in Oklahoma City. I will be giving a short summary of the book and have discussion about the Frequently Asked Questions. Hope you will consider joining me to PRAY, Celebrate, and Fellowship.

Here’s a list of Chapters in the Book. In the next few weeks, I will also post a few excerpts!

  Testimony 11
1 History of Islam 13
2 Muslim Beliefs & Practices

         – 5 Pillars of Faith

         – 5 Beliefs of Islam

27
3 Traditions & Convictions 59
4 Women’s Role in Islam 87
5 Understanding Assumptions 97
6 Reaching Muslims through Evangelism 111
7 Common Objections to Christianity 129
  About the Author 147
  Appendix of Terms 149
  Appendix of Answers 153

May the LORD bless this book for His Kingdom & Glory!

Rejected!

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On Tuesday, I wrote about the fear of rejection and how tough that can be for children and adults alike. I was scheduled to speak twice that day- once at a place in OKC called Concordia (which went well) and later in the evening at the City Rescue Mission (which went not so well).

Last year, I shared my testimony at the City Rescue Mission, so after prayer, I felt that I should speak about something different. I settled on a topic that’s not so popular… that man is not “good.” Even David said in Psalm 51:5 that:

“5Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

After the fall of man, there’s not much that is “good” about human beings — the 20th century was the bloodiest century ever recorded in the history of man. YET, we are capable of good — for God is the only one who allows us to show good works in our life through fruit of the Spirit by the work of the Holy Spirit.

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Within about 5 minutes of the talk, several women just walked out! At first, I faltered in my speech. As much as I speak, I am not used to people just walking out. I am used to people coming up afterwards to argue or tell me I’m wrong about something (that happened earlier in the day at Concordia, but the man was respectful in his disagreement). So, I stopped in the middle of my sentence and watched them get up and go out of the place. Within seconds, I smiled to myself  and was amused because I remembered what I wrote about that very morning! 🙂 Talk about timing!

So, I took a deep breath and continued where I left off.

It’s funny when you get called out on the very thing you are telling others to practice in their life. As I mentioned in that blog – I am not immune from the feelings of rejection. It makes me sad and messes with my mind! I am also not writing this so you will feel sorry for me… instead, I am writing so you will know that public speaking – especially sharing the Gospel of Christ is no joke! I don’t take it lightly and I know that it can be irritating to many.

This is what was promised… so now go out there and live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28) to share the Gospel and yet, share the reason for your hope in Christ with gentleness & respect.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:15

Fear of Rejection

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If you Google “Fear of Rejection,” you’ll find about 54,700,000 results in 0.42 seconds. It is a real fear – there are phobias named for this. As a people-pleaser, I know that  it’s difficult for me to not be liked by everyone. When I was a child and had just moved to the United States, I was always the LAST ONE to be chosen for a team… I don’t blame them – I didn’t know how to play baseball or dodge-ball.  Nobody wanted a “loser” to be on their team! Later, as a senior manager in a corporate setting, I would try to be on everyone’s team to gain their favor. I was told by my boss that  it was ridiculous for me to please everyone. Going through life, the career advice I received was correct.

Rejection comes all the time and in many different ways. Our children suffer through it, we have strangers and friends who reject our ideas, plans or even dreams and even family members who don’t want to have anything to do with us. How do we handle this as adults? What’s behind all of this? Why are we not able to help our own children with the rejection they will face?

We are created as social beings, to have community with others and not be isolated. When we are rejected, it can cause a loss of self-confidence (maybe I’m not good enough, maybe I’m a failure,  I smell bad, look weird, etc) – even depression. Psychologists say that at the heart of the fear is the avoidance of pain and suffering. So we try to cope with other ways of feeling good. Some turn to drugs and alcohol, while others live in a constant state of worry.

Where does your confidence and assurance come from?

Is it from other people? If so, be careful… they maybe as fearful or broken as you.

Is it from doing good works? If so, those can ring hollow after a while when no one else notices!

Is it from your career? Is it from money? Take a look and examine yourself.

The only thing that has changed my view on rejection, pain and suffering is CHRIST.

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Passion of the Christ
Christ suffered pain from scourging, beatings, and being nailed to the cross. His trauma on the cross brought about a new word in our language “excruciating” which means literally out of the cross (ex: out & cruc: cross). He is the only sinless person to ever live who had his blood poured out drop by drop for the salvation of sinful man. He felt pain until the last moment when he cried out in John 19:30 “It is finished.”

If you are a believer in Christ as your Lord and Savior, what are you worried about? He promised us that we would be rejected as he said in John 15: “17 This is My command to you: Love one another. 18If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. ” We are actually CALLED to suffer and be JOYFUL in the things we are dealing with! Why? 

Romans 5:3-5 answers this:

3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

So… what’s your hang up? Why worry about being rejected and having to suffer. Christ suffered and if we are to reflect Christ as Christians, we should be ready with the knowledge that we will be rejected. We will be mocked as foolish. We will suffer… but we will overcome these things — not in our own power, but in the power of Christ who has defeated death, the ultimate enemy and has RISEN from the grave! Hallelujah!

What a reason to celebrate REJECTION!!!

May Christ be the ONE you turn to for your confidence and assurance. Amen.

A Former Muslim’s View of the Cross

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I had the honor of doing a podcast yesterday for Anna Clement from  Mission OKC . It’s called “A Former Muslim’s View of the Cross.” It’s a part of my testimony, but focuses on how the Cross of Christ is viewed by Muslims and what it means to me today.
A few highlights from the interview:
*Surah 4:157 says “And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.”

The Bible says: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  ~ 1 Cor 1:18

 

I thought you might want to watch the video or listen to the podcast with Easter in mind!
While you are on Anna’s site (http://thefirstthings.com/), check out her other podcasts as well.
May you celebrate the RISEN Savior who died on the cross for our sins and gave us life eternal!

He is RISEN!

Importance of Fellowship

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Last week, I got to host the 5th & 6th grade girls Bible Study group for an Afternoon Tea at our home. Several of the mothers were not quite sure of what was going to happen at this gathering. When I mentioned that I was serving hot tea out of my china cups, I was met with skepticism and rightly so! Eleven & twelve year old girls handling china with bubbling hot liquids… was I sure about that?

The verse for the day was Hebrews 13:2, which my daughter had chosen a few months ago for the tea party fellowship.

Hebrews 13:2~ Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

It is difficult to fully understand what that verse is talking about unless you know that it refers to Abraham in Genesis! So, we had to read the following passage:

Genesis 18 ~   1Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 4“Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” 6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.” 7Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.

*****

Abraham was visited by the LORD Himself. Many say that the other two men were a part of the Trinity, while others say it was the LORD & 2 angels. Whatever the case, God came to Abraham. He comes, He cares, He is aware, He dines with us (Revelation 3:20) and He is involved in our hospitality to others.

 

The point of the gathering was to share a lesson on hospitality. If we treated everyone who came to our home as if they were sent by God, I think things might look a bit differently in our society. Hospitality is a hot button for me. I come from an Eastern culture that looks on Hospitality as a non-negotiable. It’s what you do – you prepare food for people and welcome them into your home. I wrote more about it here. Upon hearing about the tea party fellowship, one woman remarked that it must be easy for me, since I  was taught by my mother to do that and she’s never had that in her family… my answer to that is so what? Why is that an excuse? If you have a home, you should open it to others.  You don’t even have to cook – simply order food in, have a potluck, use your kitchen, gather together and rejoice!

As a new believer, I read Acts 2:46 which mentions that the newly formed Church met, broke bread together in their homes and ate with gladness. Why don’t we do that more often? My personal experience has been that for every TEN invitations I give, I am lucky to get ONE back. People don’t entertain, they don’t invite and they don’t meet in their homes. Now, we have had invitations to meet at restaurants… but rarely in homes.

My lesson for the girls was not just on how to drink tea from lovely cups… it went further than that. It was to cherish fellowship with one another. To eat and enjoy food together, giving praise to God the Father for ALL He has given you- including a Christian family.

May we remember to invite one another to our homes, may we share Christ in the breaking of bread together, may we pray for one another, may we grow up another generation of young believers who will open their homes and look more like the early church. Amen.

 

Not an Author

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From Isa to Christ – A Muslim Woman’s Search for the Hand of God (published Feb 2017)

I’ve had the chance now to speak at several book clubs around the OKC area. Each time, I’m asked about the writing process and why I became an author. When I reply that “I didn’t set out to become an author,” another conversation begins.

The truth is that I didn’t want to write a book. I didn’t know the first thing about writing (even though I am a Business Professor and grade writing papers each week), I didn’t know how to start a book or how the entire process worked. What I did have, however, was a compelling story that the Lord gave me. I have been speaking about this journey He’s taken me on for the last decade and each time, I was asked if there was a book available or in progress and each time, I said “no.”

I was afraid of writing a book as it seemed like a daunting process. The real reason behind me saying no was that I didn’t want the “author” label… seemed too pretentious and that it would go to my head. As a Christian who is in the spotlight as a speaker and corporate trainer, I get used to being the center of attention. All of that is not good for the HUGE head I get, contributing even further to me being prideful. I have to get up in the morning and pray that the Lord helps me to point to Him and not hog all the accolades that come my way. In other words, it’s not about me.

A few years ago in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), I had the chance to share my testimony with a group of leaders in an informal setting. The Teaching Leader, Paula, told me that I needed to write because “there’s a book in there!” She was very excited about the unique way the Holy Spirit had led me to Christ and encouraged me to write it all down. When I confessed to her about my pride issue, she asked in a straightforward way if I had confessed it and had repented. I jokingly told her that I tend to do that several times a day. She again encouraged me to write and said “if it’s God’s will, then the book will write itself.” There was truth in that…

So, I began to pray for several months before I even started any part of the process (again, no clue what the process was). I asked for the Lord to give me guidance, direction and make it clear if it was His will. I also decided that I would pray every morning and simply ask “Lord, do I write today?”

Each morning, I would get up and ask. Some days, it was very clear that I needed to write. Other days, nothing. On some days, I would sit down at the computer and write 10-15 pages! On other days, nothing. I even had a long stretch of about 3-1/2 months where there was nothing. I was around the 6th chapter in the book by then and it caused me great panic after about 2 months. I began to second-guess if I was even supposed to be writing.

Looking back, I think that was a part of praying and waiting in obedience, for shortly after that drought, it was as if the dam had broken. The rest of the book simply tumbled out in quick succession of chapters. Before the year was over, I had a book completed! I knew that I needed a cover that would encompass the story. I now began to pray for help with the second part – design. Again, the Lord answered very quickly! I woke up one morning and had the picture of the cover in my head. I knew that there was supposed to be a Quran on the cover – maybe in the background, soft-focus and there should be a picture of me somewhere as well, in my Pakistani outfit. By the end of the SAME DAY, I had my cover picture. In fact, I had about 5 different versions of the cover.

I am not a designer. I am pretty low-tech when it comes to using computer software. I couldn’t have told you how to design a book cover, much less make it so you could upload it and have it look half-way decent. YET, GOD can!

You see, when I was studying Moses’s life in Exodus 31, I came across a passage where God calls certain people by name to come and work on His ark of the covenant. He gives them the ability and talent to do what He asked them to do. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change. He gives us each talents and abilities to use them for His glory.

Think about the verse in Philippians 4:13 that says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Do you truly believe that? Do you believe that Christ can help you in your circumstances, hard times, and even in times of doing things that are out of your comfort zone or talents? If you really believe that God can give you what you need, then please realize that it also means that He can also equip you for every good deed (Hebrews 13:21).

I was not an author, but I now have a book. I was not a designer, but the Lord gave me a clear vision of what the cover would look like and helped me to figure out how to do that within 24 hours. Maybe we should stop saying what we’re not and start looking at ourselves as God sees us – His children and His disciples.

I want to encourage you today to pray and pay attention to what the Lord might be asking you to do. Step out in that faith and watch what He does for your life!

All Ways Lead to God?

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When I share my testimony with others, I share John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Most times, I am speaking at Christian gatherings, yet within the crowd I will almost always get someone who wants to speak with me afterwards about how offensive it was to them that I stated that the only way to God is through Christ Jesus. Again… speaking at CHRISTIAN gatherings.

I am not sure when the idea of tolerance included getting away from scripture. If you are a Christian and you believe in the sanctity of the written revelation of God through the Bible, then you cannot dispute Jesus Christ’s own words. Either you believe or you don’t believe. It’s that simple.

Or is it?

At this point, I usually get called “narrow-minded” or “arrogant” to have that view. I am told that the world is not black and white. There is no real right or wrong way of thinking.

As someone who has a real desire to be liked, it is difficult to be called “offensive, narrow-minded, and arrogant.” Yet, we are told that the world will hate us (see John 15:18). Paul even tells us that we are fools for Christ’s sake in 1 Corinthians 4:10  and this is usually how the rest of my own family views me for believing in Christ as I do. The world wants you to choose a watered down Gospel. They want you to agree with them and say there are many roads to heaven and God. At the same time, they don’t realize that this is an arrogant view to take because they are saying “You are wrong for believing in one way. You need to believe the way I believe.” They are also narrow-minded, for they do not take into account that other religions do not believe in many ways to God – like Islam! Muslims, for one, would laugh at you if you took that approach with them and they would set you straight by telling you that the only way is through following the 5 pillars of faith and through good works in the name of Allah.

If you are in Christ, stand firm in the foundation of His WAY of grace as a free gift that no one has earned through works, His TRUTH as revealed in the Gospel, and the eternal LIFE only He has paid for through the shedding of His blood on the cross. Amen.

Paid in FULL

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Front Desk at Snow King Resort -Jackson Hole Wyoming

My husband & I just got back from a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This was a business trip for him, including days spent in a conference room with speakers on the topic of healthcare. His generous boss invited the spouses to come along and enjoy the hotel, amenities and excursions. So basically, while he worked, I got to play! 🙂

It is a different experience to travel for work. The expenses are usually taken care of by the company, but still there is that thought in the back of the mind that doesn’t quite believe it to be true. We always have that awkward moment at the end — do we leave the hotel keys in the room as we’ve been told over a hundred times, or should we go ahead and bring them down the front desk and checkout in person to make sure there aren’t any surprises? My husband, being the man who wants to make sure he is doing the right and responsible thing, always chooses the latter option.

So, yesterday morning at the dark hour of 4:45 am, we made our way to the front desk and turned in our keys. As the man was keying in our information, my husband asked for a receipt. The guy looked up and said “I can’t give you a receipt. The payment information goes to the Master. Your bill is paid in full.”

Immediately I thought of Christ.

His payment of sacrifice on the cross was given on our behalf to the Master. Our bill is paid in full. No receipt needed… only thankfulness on our part for what Christ has done for us in giving us eternal life through his death. This is the business of heaven – redemption and salvation.

What a gift of GRACE:

God’s

Riches

At

Christ’s

Expense

Amen.

Eid al Adha TODAY!

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image from RRB Result

Muslims all over the world look to Saudi Arabia to determine the shape of the moon to indicate the start of Eid festival. The Saudi High Judicial Council (HJC) announced August 22 that the new moon will be in a crescent, (they then calculate the date of Eid to be 10 days after) indicating the festival of Eid. The Islamic religious calendar is based upon a Lunar calendar and there is significance in the crescent moon. This is why you see the crescent moon for many of the Islamic nations’ flags and on top of mosques.

Eid al Adha (or Eid ul Adha – same thing) is translated as the “Greater Eid” or “Bakr Eid.” It is the Festival of the Sacrifice. I wrote about the rituals last year in this blog titled “Eid al Adha, 9/11, & God’s Sacrifice on Mount Moriah.” Every year, millions of Muslims sacrifice a goat or a lamb to commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice of his son. Muslims believe it was Ishmael who was offered on the altar, while the Jewish and Christian Scriptures state it was Isaac. Nevertheless, Abraham’s obedience to God is the commemoration on this day.

According to Hanifah (stricter rules of Islam), the offering for every Muslim is mandatory. According to other Hadiths (traditions), however, it is called “Sunnah” or a good thing to do. Either way, the Hadith says:

“Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is reported to have said :
‘Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place for prayer.’ (Reported by Ahmad and Ibn Maajah; classed as saheeh by al-Haakim from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah.  ‘All those people who have the nisab (payable amount) of zakah should offer a sacrifice. The time for offering a sacrifice begins after the `Eid Al-Adha prayer.’ According to a Hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Whosoever offered a sacrifice before the `Eid prayer, he or she just slaughtered an animal for meat, but whosoever made sacrifice after the `Eid Al-Adha prayer, he or she has offered a sacrifice.” (Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Hadith no. 902).”

So if you are called to sacrifice a goat or a lamb, how do you fulfill this as a Muslim? In this technologically advanced world, this has become much easier!  There are advertisements that allow a Muslim to pay for a lamb, a goat or even a cow (can share this sacrifice with up to 7 people) all around the world. Here’s an example of an ad:

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EXAMPLE of an ad for “Qurbani” or Sacrifice for sale

The problem with this is that the sacrifice needs to fulfill certain age requirements (more than 6 months old, but less than five years old, have none of the four defects mentioned by Muhammad, etc.). So how would you know that your sacrifice being chosen thousands of miles away meets the requirements? The answer is: You don’t.

When the Jewish people would offer sacrifice to the Lord, they had the understanding that the sacrifice was for atonement of sins – they were sinful and had to pay the penalty for sin. God allowed them to have a system of sacrifice that was offered on their behalf. Only one obscure Muslim Hadith mentions that you need to be present as you slaughter your sacrifice so that “Allah may forgive you as the first drop of blood comes out.” It is not certain what is being forgiven here – your latest sin, killing the animal or all your sins. The way most of my family looked at this was that it was simply one of the checklists that you need to do as a Muslim.

When I was a Muslim, I did not completely understand why we sacrificed a lamb (see post to explain that ritual) other than remembering Abraham’s obedience. I didn’t know what that lamb’s blood would do for me and what it meant for me, other than being obedient to Allah. There was no connection for me as to atonement or someone else taking on my sins. As far as I knew, I ALONE was responsible for doing good deeds to tip my scales towards the good on Judgment Day. It wasn’t until I met Christ Jesus and understood him shedding His blood willingly on the cross for my sins. I understood that day that only ONE is sinless (the Quran says also that only Jesus – Isa Ibn Maryam was sinless!). In the Bible, 1 Peter 1:18-20 says:

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was known before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in the last times for your sake.…

As Muslims celebrate today and this weekend with parties and festivals, I want to ask Believers to pray for them to know the TRUE Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the sinless and spotless lamb of God. May every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen.