Importance of Fellowship

Sarah-tea

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.

 

Advertisements

Not an Author

IMG_3174
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!

New Year, New YOU?

new-year-resolutions-2017

Are you one for making resolutions for the new year? Then you reflect about half the population. Are you one for keeping them? Studies show that only about 8% of the people keep their resolutions. Why the staggering low amount of completion?

Turns out that self-help isn’t really all that helpful!

We make a resolution to exercise more and the first really cold day (again… January), we decide that it’s much better to be bundled up with a steaming cup of hot cocoa. We decide to spend less money, only to be confronted with after-Christmas sales. Yes, you guessed it – I’m talking about myself. It happened again today for lunch – here I was, making good choices about eating vegetables and saw that they had my favorite carb right by the veggies. Yup, my resolve crumbled right there just like that cookie facing me.

It’s not easy to do this alone.

The world tells you that “YOU can do it” and that “It’s all about YOU.” It tells you that only if you were more focused, you could achieve every goal. For some of you out there who are disciplined, you can do it… but again, we are talking about the 8%. The rest of us 92% fall miserably short of our goals.

There are goal-setting tools that can help you achieve a few more of those goals and the self-help section in the bookstore is always the largest. But what if I told you that you weren’t meant to do it alone? What if I told you that if you were to have someone alongside of you, that the resolutions and goals would have a better percentage?

It’s called ACCOUNTABILITY. 

We need that at work, for our diets, for exercise and most of all, for our Christian walk. We were meant to work together with others who will help us, encourage us (take a look at 1 Thes 5:11) and also cry with us when we mess up. It’s wonderful to have someone to share things with.  The statistics back up my claim. The Association for Training & Development did a study where they found that sharing the goal with even one person increased the odds of goal completion by 95%!

So this year, don’t do things by yourself. Enlist the help of others. It will keep you accountable and humble!

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~ Proverbs 27:17

Who Was, Who Is, and Who Is to Come…

This morning, our family was listening to a singer named Paul Wilbur who is a Messianic Jew. He was singing “Behold He Comes.” This song encompasses all that I believe in as a Christian. Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call. So lift your voice, it’s the year of Jubilee and out of Zion’s hills salvation comes. He adds at the end of the song, a repeated refrain: Who Was and Who Is and Who Is to Come.

As a Muslim, I had heard about the baby who was born in a manger. I had no clue who he was – other than the Prophet Isa. No big deal… Many prophets were born under varying circumstances, I was sure. I don’t even believe I gave the matter that much thought at all. Christmas was a lot more about Santa than Jesus. After a while, my family even deferred to the world’s traditions and got a Christmas tree. Again, no big deal. That had nothing to do with Jesus. No  big compromise there. We even began to exchange gifts – that was more sporadic because it had no religious significance. 

It wasn’t until I became a Christian that I began to understand who that person was whose birth as heralded by angels. Who was called the Prince of Peace. Who was called Emmanuel – God with us. The birth of a Savior was a lot bigger than the birth of just a prophet. Isa is not just another prophet. He is Isa Masih — Jesus the Messiah. He is Savior of the world. Yes, He is (present tense) for He lives. He has defeated death by the power of the Resurrection. He brings us eternal life and He saves us from the judgment and impending wrath of God the Father Almighty. 

He has done this… He lives, and He is coming back. 

Christmas is just a small part of the story. The biggest part of the Good News of the Gospel comes at Easter. If you are not familiar with either, let me know. I live to share what Christ Jesus has done for me. To bring me peace with God,  to save me from the grave,  to give me life everlasting. Amen.

Santa on Trial

Wanted to share this Blog with friends. Personally, this is the second year we have done Christmas without a Tree also. Taking the world’s paraphernalia out and replacing it with ONLY JESUS is ruffling some feathers among my friends, but we have been more relaxed and at peace… amazing what happens when you focus on the Prince of PEACE, Christ Jesus!

Jonathan Camac

23515623_1506377862781978_1489148375_n-2

The big fella.

Every Christmas the big red starts making his appearance. And so we dust off and roll out the red carpet for our hailed guest at Christmas Carols. News Shows. Adverts. Major festivals. Photo shoots. Sporting events. Pageants. Ceremonies. Parties.

Santa’s social stocks go off the freaking charts. 

And amongst all the flashing lights and fan-fare, the true Christmas story appears increasingly irrelevant. God is thrown onto the back-burner. Jesus is once again driven back into his manger on the outskirts of town, as we fill and leave no room or vacancy for the God who came to save the very people who showed him the stiff arm.

It’s not unusual for Jesus to have opposition. Hear that loud and clear. Jesus is no stranger to rejection. Jesus even expected it (John 15:18). But if you’re going to hate on God, at least get your criticisms remotely right…

View original post 1,375 more words

No Peace

22nigeria-master768
NY Times Photo – Nigerian Mosque Nov. 21, 2017

The self-proclaimed religion of peace is busy committing atrocities in the name of Allah. The latest bombing of the Mubi mosque in Nigeria has claimed over 300 souls. The president and others have named the radical Muslim extremist group, Boko Haram for the murders. This is a militant Islamic group that leaves chaos in their wake throughout Nigeria and neighboring countries, displacing over 2 million people by burning villages and attacking towns, camps and other mosques.

The New York Times reported that “Mr. Abubakar, the police spokesman, said the assailant was a male teenager. He said the attacker had walked into the mosque and joined the worshipers crowded inside the small room.” Poor child who was sacrificed in the way of jihad. Poor families who lost their loved ones that day. We grieve for them and those who know no peace.

In a season that hails the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, there is only chaos in the Muslim world. There are extremists who are fighting in a religious struggle against whoever gets in their way — kill or be killed. Christ did not teach the way of the world. In fact, He taught in Matthew 5:5 the OPPOSITE by saying “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

Being meek is not popular with the world. You don’t really see many T-Shirts with a catchy slogan about being “meek.” When I was a Muslim, I used to laugh at the Christians who (I thought) held hands and sang together. What nonsense! My belief was go out there and get what you deserve – you should demand it in a big, loud voice. If you don’t get whatever you are after, then beg, borrow and steal to get it. It’s every man (and woman) for themselves.

This is what Islam teaches… “It’s all about YOU, babe.” You are responsible for your own salvation. No one is going to come and save you. YOUR works, YOUR efforts, YOUR good deeds. Do extra credit good deeds, pray extra ~ the more you rack up, the better it will be for you on judgment day and even then, you have no guarantee of getting into Paradise.

Then, one glorious day, I came to find out the TRUTH about Christ Jesus.

It is not about YOU. It’s about what Christ did for us on the cross. It’s about His perfect, sinless life and perfect death of obedience on the cross for our sins. It’s about His efforts and His conquering of death in His resurrection. No one else has ever done that. Ever.

Only Christ.

Only His Death.

Only His Resurrection.

Only His Peace… so we sing:

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

~(lyrics to Hark the Herald Angels Sing)

May we pray for the families who lost their loved ones. May we pray for Muslims everywhere who don’t know peace and don’t know the Prince of Peace, Lord Jesus. May His peace reign forever and ever.

Amen.

All Ways Lead to God?

7cfaf7895dcb1300b4a1ff490e34efbd-christian-humor-christian-life

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.

Inspire or Expire

inspire

Did you know that to INSPIRE means to BREATHE? My husband is trained as a respiratory therapist and when he was in school, he was always talking about inspiration. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that inspiration is to breathe in and expiration is to breathe out, or to die.

I was getting a presentation ready for the State of Oklahoma on Employee Engagement and what really gets people plugged into an organization’s vision, mission and culture. Being able to INSPIRE others was a theme that emerged from all the research. Inspiring means to motivate others to go out of their comfort zone. It means to stimulate or get people charged up – not just about coming to work day in and day out, but to truly get them to see how their daily work can have a lasting impact on the organization and their community.

Encouraging others is a constant theme for me as I mentor other women in business (see CCBWOKC on Facebook). To be able to breathe life can be daunting… especially on those days that I might be struggling to even get ready in the morning. So how do you do this? How do you inspire others to be something different?

For me, the answer comes through the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word for the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God is “RUACH.” Ruach means wind or breath. It’s an onomatopoeia which means that the word is the same as the sound it makes. This is the same Ruach God breathes into Adam in Genesis 2:7 (KJV)~ And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. The breath of life is the same as the inspiration we should pray for today. God is the same  yesterday, today and tomorrow. He doesn’t change. The same breath he breathed into Adam is the same inspiration you need today.

The way to help others is to share words that bring life to others. As Christians, our speech should always be full of grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). By the way, this is the verse I use for the header of my blog! For me, it means that if my words are not glorifying to God and wrapped in love, I should not be speaking them. This is not easy to do!  However, if you become mindful of what you are getting ready to say to someone and think about it for just a second or two, you can quickly evaluate to see if it is tearing down or building up.

Inspiration is to breathe into someone, to encourage, build up and motivate. Let’s focus on doing these things instead of discouraging, tearing down, and hurting. Inspire others so you can be a light in the darkness!

Saudi Arabia: Welcome to the 21st Century!

Untitled-2

Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree yesterday, allowing women to finally be able to drive. My mother worked as an OB/GYN in Saudi Arabia in the 1970’s. She was a practicing physician who had to have a mahram (a male chaperone from immediate family or husband) and could not drive to work. This made it very difficult for my father and my mother, since he would have to travel for his work. She tells me stories of how she would be denied transportation by taxi drivers who feared being seen with a woman who was not related to them.

One story stands out in my mind. She had an emergency call from the hospital and they needed her to come to attend one of her patients immediately. My father was traveling to another city and was not present. She called another female friend to come with her so she would not go alone. The taxi driver would not even allow them to explain themselves. He drove away in a hurry. She then called the hospital and told them they would need to send transportation for her. They refused. No one wanted to break the law that would land them immediately into jail for several violations (picking up an unrelated woman, driving her without her mahram, not reporting this to the authorities, etc).

Women in the United States go blissfully about their business daily. We take for granted many civil liberties that are offered to us without a second thought to other women who have to live by antiquated laws. I wrote another blog on women’s identity in Islam here Women have never been able to drive in the country because it was ruled by Muslim clerics that the additional freedom would impede restrictions on them (and yes, one cleric incorrectly hypothesized that driving affects women’s ovaries and pelvis).

While we can celebrate the fact that Saudi Arabia has finally made it to the 21st century, there are many other limitations placed on women. Driving is just the first (small) step. There are strict guardianship laws that are dictated by Islamic Law. Women there still need men’s permission to have medical procedures done and even see a physician! Where is the outrage at that?

Even in the United Kingdom, there are Muslim clerics who call for restrictions on women. There is an article here by the UK Telegraph that shares how a ruling went out that forbids British Muslim women to go more than 48 miles radius without a male family chaperone. All of this reminds me to be thankful of the freedoms we have here in America. We have freedom to drive, to seek medical attention, to go to school and to work. We have freedom to practice religion and to worship.

May we THANK men and women who have fought for our nation and may we THANK GOD for allowing us to live here!

~But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!

2 Corinthians 3:16-17

Paid in FULL

4372_92_z
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.