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15
May

THE PASTOR AND HIS PRAYER LIFE

PRAYER

One of the most powerful experiences of my life occurred when someone challenged me to prioritize prayer in my life. When I embraced prayer in my college years, not only did it change my life, it also became formative for everything in my life.

To this very day, beginning my day with God in His Word and having an ongoing conversation with Him has been the greatest key to my entire life and ministry. The ministry of preaching will not ever go beyond the preacher’s personal walk with God.

Prayer Is Built Upon the Word of God

Prayer is built on the Word of God. This prevents us from getting out of balance or off into theological error. Sometimes people think those who practice prayer are intellectual midgets or theologically inferior. Great prayer warriors base their praying on God’s Word, the surest truth in this world.

The most highly intelligent and theologically astute should be the greatest prayer warriors on the face of the earth. They should realize the Bible is God’s Word and authority on all things, praying with deep belief in God and His power. Preaching must be in the power of the Holy Spirit and this will never occur if a preacher and his prayer life is not built upon the Word of God.

As a pastor is preparing a sermon, it is imperative to seek God first above all else. Preaching is a relationship between the preacher and the people of God; however, this relationship will never supersede the preacher’s relationship with God personally.

How can we expect to communicate God’s Word effectively if we don’t communicate with Him consistently? A pastor must have a consistent time of prayer daily, but not only for his personal life. He also needs to call out to God about the people of God and the Word of the Lord he is supposed to proclaim to them.

Personally, I ask God daily to give me His Word and His message of faith that He wants me to communicate to the people of God. When I have the Word of the Lord living and burning in my heart, the people of God know it.

Prayer Must Be Consistent

If you do not have a plan to pray, you will not pray consistently. You will be all over the place in your praying, even though your intentions are good.

use my iPad to help me establish an ongoing plan to pray daily. This helps me stay on target in my prayer and permits me the needed flexibility to ensure the ongoing plan is relevant and up to date.

My plan to pray is seasonal. I am always changing it along the way, but when I sense a chapter has closed and God wants to create a new chapter in my life and ministry, then I begin a new plan.

What is your plan to pray? Whatever your plan to pray is, just have one. Stop and take the time to prepare a plan. Before you enter your daily sermon preparation, be sure you have already been with God in His Word and in His presence via prayer. Then, as you walk through your sermon preparation, pray throughout it. When preparation is coming to an end, pray through it again.

One of the most dynamic experiences in the Christian life is when the preacher, the man of God, walks with God deeply. Then, when this dynamic experience goes on display to the world through the ministry of preaching, God alone is exalted.

The church does not need to hear better sermons. The church needs to hear a message from God, delivered by the man of God who has been set on fire by the power of God. This power of God will never be any greater than the personal prayer life of the preacher.

 

Dr. Ronnie Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church

Immediate Past President, Southern Baptist Convention

14
May

$60 Million Bible Museum to Open in Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, Showcasing Bible’s Influence in American History

The narrative of the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center will be spearheaded by Local Projects, a firm that has won more than 100 design awards and whose work includes the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and the National Museum of American Jewish History. American Bible Society

This fall, the American Bible Society will begin construction on the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, which will highlight how, from past to present, the Bible has changed those who changed America.

“We are thrilled to open this exciting new experience for Philadelphia and our nation,” American Bible Society President and CEO Roy Peterson said. “What the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center should be, at its finest, is a place that unites — celebrating a diversity of faiths, backgrounds and points of view. And ultimately, the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will spark a curiosity: How did the Bible influence the people who shaped our nation? And what difference can this book make in our lives today?”

According to a Faith and Liberty Center, the $60 million project, opening in 2018, “will explore how core passages from the Bible on justice, liberty, mercy, and love have guided and inspired not only the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but generations of Americans who have wrestled with Abolitionism, Women’s Right to Vote, Civil Rights, Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.”

American Bible Society CEO Roy Peterson said, “As we learn to celebrate a growing diversity of religious experiences, we realize that America had three anchoring documents- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bible. The new exhibits will raise plenty of thought-provoking questions, but the answers will ultimately be up to each visitor to discover for themselves.”

Using unprecedented technology, the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will also “bring to life the stories of people across a full faith spectrum who have turned to the Bible for wisdom in times of conflict, for motivation to create change, and for comfort in moments of crisis.” Among the artifacts included in the center will be the first English Bible printed in America and Helen Keller’s Bible.

The highly-anticipated center, which will be 40,000 square feet, 25,000 of exhibition space, is expected to draw 250,000 visitors annually, and projected to add over $10 million annually to Philadelphia’s economy. It’s being led by the award-winning firm Local Projects, which recently spearheaded the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and ranks as one of the most innovative in the nation.

“In the city where William Penn chartered religious freedom, I am excited that the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will help tell an overlooked story of our history,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “This will be a tremendous addition to Philadelphia, and an amazing experience for all our visitors.”

Meanwhile, another Christian-inspired structure, the Museum of the Bible, is slated to open in the fall of 2017. The museum, a project of Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, is being constructed just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, and plans to house one of the world’s largest collections of ancient biblical scrolls, codices, papyrus fragments and other historical artifacts.

The eight-floor facility with 40-foot bronze doors will feature over 40,000 biblical manuscripts owned by the Green family. It will also house a 500-seat theater, a 100-seat lecture hall, a restaurant, gardens, and a Nazareth village.

“The History Floor will feature more than 500 world-class artifacts that document the Bible’s preservation, translation, and transmission across centuries and cultures,” the website for the project outlines. “This floor features many of the greatest biblical discoveries, including writings dating to the time of Abraham, fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, early New Testament writings, and more.”

“The Impact Floor will explore the Bible’s impact over time on cultures, civilization, and daily life, including its profound influence on fine arts, science, government, and more,” it explains.

To learn more about the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center, click here. To learn more about the Museum of the Bible, click here.

Tags : Faith & Liberty Discovery Center, American Bible Society, philadelphia, Museum of the Bible, Bible
14
May

Dr. Charles Stanley And Son Andy Stanley – Two Georgia Pastors On Separate Ministry Paths

Dr. Charles Stanley and his son, Andy – both well-known Georgia pastors – have each caught attention this week for their views on homosexuality.

The elder Stanley, 82, is the long time pastor of First Baptist Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries.  This week, he declined to accept an award from the Jewish National Fund in Atlanta – an event he was slated to attend tomorrow.  Criticism swelled over the selection of Stanley due to his Biblical views on homosexuality – pulled from his sermons and many written works -which had become a “concern” for members of the local Jewish and LGBT communities.

According to JNF spokesman Adam Brill, Stanley informed the organization that due to “…his deep love for Israel, and his reluctance to be a point of controversy and conflict within the Jewish community, he has declined to be recognized at the Jack Hirsch Memorial Breakfast in Atlanta.”

On Friday, the younger Stanley – pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia – spoke at the Catalyst West event at Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif., where he stated that the local church should be the “safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.”

Catalyst – described on its website as “a community of change makers” – was founded by Andy Stanley and a small group of church leaders, with a focus on reaching pastors under the age of 40.  The Atlanta-based organization holds annual events locally, as well as in Orange County, Calif. and Dallas, Texas.

At the Catalyst event last week, Stanley, 56, stated that he knew there were a variety of views on homosexuality and gay marriage among those in the audience.

“There is not consensus in this room when it comes to same-sex attraction. There is not consensus in this room when it comes to gay marriage,” he said.

But his father, Charles, has preached for decades that consensus isn’t relevant – it’s the Word of God that is true and unchanging.  His dedication to accurately preaching God’s word is what caused his recognition to come into question, and ultimately, caused his forfeiture of the JNF award.

In a letter to the JNF earlier this month, the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN) called on the organization to reverse their decision to honor Stanley, whom they called an “anti-gay Baptist preacher.”

“Dr. Stanley has a sordid history of virulent homophobic statements and actions,” the letter reads.  “He has publicly called AIDS God’s punishment for America’s acceptance of homosexuality and called homosexuality ‘destructive behavior.’  Dr. Stanley is an offensive and unsuitable choice for the Tree of Life Award.”

The elder Stanley has been preaching in Atlanta since 1971, and for over half a century has dedicated his life to the spreading of the gospel.  After founding In Touch nearly 40 years ago, his sermons are broadcast world-wide, he has authored more than 60 books and reaches many through his ministry’s website.

But according to SOJOURN, his life’s calling amounts to nothing due to his Biblical stance on homosexuality, and the JNF choosing him as the recipient of their Tree of Life Award was a blunder.

“Please do the right thing and acknowledge the mistake that was made, make amends with the LGBT/progressive Jewish community that is so invested in JNF’s success, and use this as an opening for meaningful dialogue,” the letter ends.

While Dr. Stanley remains dedicated to the Biblical principles that have guided his ministry for many years, his son treads lightly while gaining cultural acceptance through his “Your Move” television show – which airs 20 minutes after Saturday Night Live in Atlanta – and his new book “The New Rules For Love, Sex and Dating.”

“One of the reasons I wrote this book was to challenge singles to at least consider, ‘Maybe I need to prepare,'” Stanley said. “My purpose in writing this book was not to push a religious or even my Christian agenda on people. Obviously, I’m a Christian I take the New Testament so seriously, but I think there are some broad principles that increase everyone’s relational experience.”

While both father and son preach and minister under the belief that God’s word is without error, the younger Stanley has gained popularity as he moves further into the mega-church spotlight.  His congregation has surpassed 30,000, and he continues to seek opportunities to become part of the mainstream.

His organization, Catalyst, has a very vague approach to the spreading of the gospel, stating that “We must advance from a current reality to a desired state.  We are the leaders, doers, influencers and storytellers, innovators, cultural architects and social entrepreneurs….You’re invited to join this community of change makers.”

And his comments on homosexuality leave out Biblical references or concern for the soul, and instead focus on acceptance.

“We just need to decide, regardless of what you think about this topic – no more students are going to feel like they have to leave the local church because they’re same-sex attracted or because they’re gay,” he said at last week’s conference. “That ends with us.”

As the winds of cultural change howl through the American church, the interpretations of father and son on the Biblical view of homosexuality, as well as the ministerial path each is on, is parting like the Red Sea.

Credit: Gospel Herald –

14
May

Rick Warren Preaches ‘Most Important Message’ of His Life: Why God Made Us – on Living With Purpose

n a sermon entitled, “Why God Made You,” Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California explained five simple but profound truths which help us understand why we are here. The author of “The Purpose Driven Life” says he considers this to be the most important message he has shared in 35 years of teaching. “If I only had one sermon to preach, it would be this message – to teach you why God made you and what you’re supposed to do with your life,” he says.

“God has never created anything without a purpose … and if your heart is beating and your breathing, there’s a purpose for your life,” Warren stated. Just as an inventor fashions an object with a specific purpose in mind, so also God had a reason for creating each one of us (see Ephesians 1:11-12, Colossians 1:16, and Revelation 4:11). “The very fact that you’re alive makes your life meaningful,” he says.

Because He made us, He is the best source to seek for the purpose of our existence. It doesn’t make sense to “look within” or to trust in the world’s thoughts on why we were created; “Only your creator can tell you what your purpose is,” Warren says – “You didn’t create you.” We should seek God for such knowledge, and He has detailed His purpose for our lives in the Bible. “You were made by God, you were made for God; until you understand that, your life is never going to make sense … you’ve got to start with God,” Warren says.

The vast majority of our lives will be spent in eternity, Warren explains – and this life is meant to be preparation for the next, the “dress rehearsal before the real show begins.” God wants us to practice here on Earth what we will do in Heaven forever: to love God, to love His family, to become like Christ, to serve the Lord, and to fulfill His mission.

To Know God and to Love Him

God created us for His pleasure – “He didn’t need you. God is totally satisfied in Himself … but He wanted you. That shows how valuable you are,” Warren says.

Psalm 149:4 says, “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation” (English Standard Version). Human beings are made in God’s image, and it pleased Him to give us the capacity to love Him back. The ability to pray or to worship is unique to humans – it does not apply to animals or plants. There is therefore a unique calling on our lives: we were made to love Him.

The more we get to know God, the more we will love Him. “God knows everything about you, you know almost nothing about God,” Warren says – “God loves you in spite of everything He knows about you. God wants you to learn to know Him and love Him back. The Bible calls this ‘worship.'” In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus summarizes the whole Old Testament – we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are also called to love others.

In Hosea 6:6, God says, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

“It doesn’t matter how many things you accomplish, how many things you achieve … how much money you make. If at the end of each day, you don’t know God a little bit better and love Him a little bit more, you just wasted that day. Because God did not create you and put you on earth just to mark things off your to-do list,” says Warren – “He put you here … to know Him and love Him.”

To Learn How to Love Others in God’s Family

When you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, you become a child of God (see John 1:12 and Ephesians 1:5). God calls His children the ‘church’ (see 1 Timothy 3:15); the church is not an institution or an organization – “The church is a family … we are children of God, which makes us brothers and sisters in the family of God,” says Warren.

God desires for those in Christ to be knit together as brothers and sisters in Christ, members of one another as part of His body (see Romans 12:5 and Colossians 2:19). “[God] doesn’t want you just to believe, He wants you to belong. To be connected,” Warren says – “We’re made to be in community … we’re made to be in relationship.” While our physical family will one day pass away, our spiritual family relationships will last for all of eternity.

“The church is the laboratory for learning real love,” Warren says. It is only when we walk closely with others in God’s family that we can know them deeply and learn how to love one another the way that He does. The greater the differences that we have with those we fellowship with are, the greater the potential for growth is.

To Become Like Christ

Jesus honored God the Father completely, and thus lived a life as fully as a human being can. Warren says we need to learn to think, to act, to respond, and to value things like Jesus does. “God wants you to grow up spiritually, and the model of perfection is Jesus,” he says.

While the world might be impressed by achievement, God cares much more about who we are becoming than what we have accomplished. “You’re not taking your career to heaven … you’re taking your character,” Warren says.

God created us in His image, and wants us to express His character (see Romans 8:29). He makes us more like Christ by putting us in situations that cause us to grow. We never have to wonder why we are going through something, Warren says – “The answer to all the ‘why’ questions in life is this: to make you like Jesus.”

Galatians 5:22-23 gives us the perfect picture of Jesus’ character – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” God doesn’t make us like Christ overnight – these character traits are imparted to us through the Holy Spirit by way of suffering. God uses painful experiences like a megaphone to help us become who He wants us to be – “God whispers to us in our pleasure, but He shouts to us in our pain,” Warren says.

Warren believes that God will often put us in situations that seem to be the exact opposite of what He is trying to instill in us – “If God’s going to teach you real love, He’s going to put you around unlovely people so that you have to learn to love … How is God going to teach you patience? By testing it. By irritation. By chaos. It’s easy to be patient and at peace when everything’s going your way … but real peace and real patience are learned in the middle of chaos.”

Thankfully, Jesus is our empathetic High Priest; He was lonely, He was hurt, and He was let down by others – yet He was patient, forgiving, and kind. “If God let His own Son go through all of that, don’t you think He’s going to let you go through it, too?” Warren asks, explaining that God is much more interested in our character than He is in our comfort. The beauty is that God will comfort us in whatever trials we walk through – and that perfect, complete, and eternal comfort is to come soon and very soon for those in Christ.

To Serve the Lord by Serving Others

God has given us spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, and we have been through different experiences which can bless and build up the body (see Ephesians 2:10 and 1 Peter 4:10) – “He uniquely shaped you to fulfill a unique purpose here on the planet Earth,” Warren says.

Warren scoffs at the thought that we will sit around and play a harp in the afterlife. “You’re not going to sit around and do nothing in heaven” Warren says – “You’re going to serve.” We will serve God in Heaven, and He wants us to practice here.

To Be on Mission

God made us for His mission. Just as the Father sent Jesus to do His will, so the Lord sends us to do His mission (see John 17:18). Paul explains this mission in Acts 20:24 – “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

“God has a mission and a message that He wants to explain through you to the world,” Warren says. That gospel message is this – that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a perfect life, yet suffered and died in our place on the cross so that we would not have to bear the wrath of God for our sin. He was buried, and He rose again three days later. God now offers forgiveness for those who call on His Son for salvation (see Ephesians 2:1-10).

Warren ended the sermon with a plea from Psalm 34:8 – “Open your eyes and see how good God is … blessed are you who run to Him.”

“If I only had one message to preach in my entire life, it would be this,” Warren says – “Open your eyes to the goodness of God. Receive the love of God. No man will ever love you – no woman will ever love you – like your Creator does. Like Jesus Christ does … If somebody loved you so much [that] they died for you, wouldn’t you want to know them? Somebody did die for you. His name is Jesus Christ – and He died for you to pay for all the things that you’ve done wrong so [that] you could live a life of purpose.”

“You were put here for these purposes,” he says – “To ignore them is an enormous waste of your life.”

Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

Pastor Warren invites you to pray this prayer in response to God’s message of salvation:

“Dear God, everything You create has a purpose, including me. I don’t want to miss my purpose, or waste my life, or live it disconnected to You anymore. Instead, I want to become what You designed me to be. Starting today, I want to follow Your plan for my life, not my plan. You made me for a relationship with You, so I want to get to know You and love You and trust You. Thank You for sending Jesus to pay for my sin. Help me to understand that. I humbly ask You to accept me into Your family forever. I want to grow more like Jesus every day. And I want to use my life on earth to serve You by serving others. Help me to share this Good News with others and to fulfill my life mission. I invite You into every area of my life.”

Credit: Gospel Herald

14
May

Many Pastors Overworked, Feel Inadequate, Says Survey—Find Out How You Can Help Prevent Pastor Burnout

Many pastors suffer from burnout and loneliness.

An online survey conducted among pastors and former pastors revealed that many of them are working more hours than they should and that, at times, they feel unable to meet what their role demands.

The survey was conducted online from September 2016 to March 2017 by ExPastors, an online ministry that caters to ex-pastors, pastors and other church leaders as a “place of help, healing and hope” and also as a resource for articles on pastor health and leadership.

ExPastors said the objective of the survey is to gather accurate information on the challenges pastors face, such as finances, family and burnout. To ensure the accuracy of the data, they decided not to ask the respondents’ gender and age, and whether the pastor served as a volunteer or as paid staff.

The only information they required about their respondents was where they fit in four categories: currently serving as pastor; used to be a pastor; in transition but still desiring to serve as church staff; and was an ex-pastor but has served as pastor again.

The survey revealed that out of 577 unique respondents, 485 (86 percent) felt they were not able to fulfill what the job requires. Respondents (435 or 77 percent) also felt that “unrealistic demands” were expected of them and their families.

When asked if they have ever considered quitting the ministry, 475 (85 percent) respondents said they did. Some of the respondents (359 or 64 percent) have doubted their call to ministry.

Pastor burnout was identified as one of the respondents’ struggles, with 398 (71 percent) of them admitting they have gone through it. More than half of the respondents (323 or 58 percent) said they experienced being “hurt or burnt by a church” that either they were asked to leave or they decided to leave.

More than half (62 percent) of the respondents struggled with loneliness. Other issues that the respondents faced were anxiety (65 percent), depression (39 percent) and suicidal thoughts (29 percent).

Forty-four (44) percent of the respondents said they went about the role of pastor without a mentor.

ExPastors explained the survey was not a “true scientific research-based study” but simply a survey conducted online. Their results are somehow similar with the 2016 Pastor Statistics from the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, a “Christian Think Tank” that does research on church trends and biblical precepts.

The 2016 Pastor Statistics revealed that more than 50 percent of pastors are overworked, overstressed, cannot afford to pay their bills and working more than 55 hours a week. The data also showed that pastors battled depression (35 percent), fatigue (26 percent) and burnout (9 percent).

Interestingly, 53 percent of them said studying at a seminary was not enough to prepare them for pastoral work. Despite all these, a whopping 90 percent said they “feel honored to be a pastor.”

One way to combat pastor burnout is to equip the saints, according to Karl Vaters, pastor at California-based Cornerstone Christian Fellowship.

Writing for Christianity Today, he said one of the reasons pastors get burned out is they fail in “equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” as Ephesias 4 says.

He reminds pastors to “preach to equip, not just to inform or inspire;” to go about ministry tasks with people and not just for people; to equip teams instead of appointing committees; and to “involve the team in the decision-making process.”

“Equipping pastors work alongside the congregation as we do the work of ministry together,” Vaters wrote. “It’s our calling. It’s our mandate. And, when we see it working in the lives of the congregation we serve, it’s our joy.”

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, recommends that pastors spend more time in prayer and in the Word. Likewise, he advised praying for the community, which would help pastors to stop looking inward too much.

He also said it would help to “dream again.”

“When I first arrived at this church, I had great visions and excitement. But I got caught up in negativity and trivial things, and I lost my vision,” he wrote in a blog. “But recently I asked God to restore my dream and vision for my church, and He’s already answering that prayer.”

Credit: Gospel Herald- by ( [email protected] )

Tags : pastor burnout, pastor stress, struggles of pastors, 2016 Pastor Statistics, Expastors, ExPastors.com, pastors suffer from loneliness, Ephesians 4:12, equipping the saints, problems of pastors, how to prevent pastor burnout, Thom Rainer, Karl Vaters
13
May

Nabeel Qureshi Charges Biola University Graduates: Fulfill Your Ministry of Spreading Life Into This Dying World

Nabeel Qureshi giving the commencement address for the Class of 2016 at Biola University Biola University
 

Speaking before the Class of 2016 at Biola University in December, Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi delivered a powerful message that urged his audience to remember the cross, their identity in God and their ministry of being Jesus’ hands and feet into the “dying world.”

Qureshi stood before 150 men and women at the university’s commencement exercises and read 2 Timothy chapter 4, the last chapter written by the apostle Paul before he was executed, where he gave his final instructions to his disciple Timothy.

“I charge you in the presence of God, of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing in His kingdom: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort with complete patience and teaching. … Always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry,” the passage reads.

Laying down the background that these instructions were being given by a man to another who would carry on the work, Qureshi focused on the final three words of Paul’s charge to Timothy: “Fulfill your ministry.”

“God has placed you in this world for a specific reason, for a specific purpose. The work that you have done in the past four years is not incidental to who you are,” Qureshi said in a video of his commencement address. “It has shaped you and crafted you to be a world changer, to go out there and to make this world a place where heaven invades earth.”

Qureshi then took his audience to the time when God came into the world that humanity keeps destroying and spread life wherever He went.

Qureshi cited the lepers who, in those times, were considered unclean. The lepers were not allowed to be touched, and anybody who touched them would also become unclean. They were treated as carriers of death. They were society’s outcasts, and they grew up without knowing how it felt to be embraced by their parents or family members.

But when Jesus came, He reached out to a leper and touched him. And instead of the leper transferring his uncleanness to Jesus, Jesus transferred life into the leper and healed him, Qureshi explained.

He also talked about the woman who suffered from bleeding for 12 years. Under Jewish law, the woman was considered ceremonially unclean. However, not telling anybody about her situation, she pressed into the crowd and reached out to touch Jesus-and life flowed from Jesus toward her.

“Because Jesus, when he touches, instead of death passing to Him, life passes from Him to the dead,” Qureshi said.

The apologist then turned to the Bible passage where Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the workers were few.

“This world is constantly dying,” he told the graduates. “And you have been placed as the hands and feet of Christ in this world.”

Jesus commissioned His disciples to do what He had been doing and more. As He sat at the right hand of the Father, He looked to the ones He left behind and charged them to bring life into this world.

“That is your calling,” Qureshi said. “That is your ministry.”

He emphasized that it didn’t matter what they studied, what they majored in, or what field they would find themselves in.

“God is going to use you in that capacity to spread life, to spread His truth, to combat death,” he said.

He then encouraged them to remember their identity in the Lord: they are God’s sons and daughters, princes and princesses, adopted heirs of the Most High whom He has sent out to “combat for the Kingdom in this world of darkness” – a world where the prevailing paradigm is one of “pointlessness, meaninglessness and death.”

“You can go into enemy fire. You can go into lands riddled with Ebola,” he told the graduates. “You can go into sex-trafficking trades and not worry if they will kill you because you have eternal life. He has already overcome the world, take heart.”

Qureshi, a Christian convert from the Islamic sect Aḥmadiyyah, is a New York Times bestselling author. He wrote “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity,” for which he won Best New Author and Best Nonfiction from the Christian Book Awards.

His latest book, “No God But One: Allah or Jesus?” is a follow-up to the first one and discusses his journey to conversion as he studied the claims of both Islam and Christianity and examined the evidences for both faiths.

In August 2016, Qureshi was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. He told the graduating class of Biola University that his doctor informed him he had a 4 percent chance of surviving-giving him at most 5 years-to which he replied,”You don’t know our God.”

In November, he said his scans showed partial healing, with the large tumor in his stomach already gone. He went for round 8 of chemotherapy last week.

Qureshi is a part of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He has a medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School, a master’s degree in religion from Duke University and a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University. He is presently pursuing his doctorate in New Testament Studies at Oxford University.

As he closed his commencement address, Qureshi instructed the graduating class just as Paul imposed a task unto Timothy: “I charge you, brothers and sisters, fulfill your ministry.”

“I release you into the world,” he said to them. “If 11 disciples could change the world, how much more can we? Be full of joy, love one another this day, remember that you are children, sons and daughters , princes and princesses of the King.”

Tags : Nabeel Qureshi, Biola University, Nabeel Qureshi Biola University commencement address, fulfilling your ministry, 2 Timothy 4, Paul and Timothy, Gospel, discipleship, fulfill your calling, Jesus, from death to life, eternal life, RZIM, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Ravi Zacharias, Apologetics, No God But One, Seeking Allah Finding Jesus
13
May

‘My Children Are Being Tortured’: Jail Officer Releases Four Christians After Jesus Visits Him in Dream

 

Two pastors and two new believers in the Middle East who were sent to prison for their faith received favor from a jail officer whom Jesus visited four times in a dream.

The two pastors were reportedly giving Bible lessons to the two new believers when police barged into their room and beat them all before taking them into custody.

The new believers had started attending the underground church just six months before the arrest. The pastors were working with Bibles for Mideast, a ministry that operates in the Middle East, Asia and Africa by giving away Bibles, evangelizing the lost and planting churches.

Bibles for Mideast has helped establish 176 underground churches, 103 of which are in the Middle East. These churches have been turned over to the newly formed church called Assembly of Loving God.

The two pastors and the two new believers were charged with “blasphemy of the prophet” and “misguiding Muslims into a false religion.” They were found guilty in a sharia court.

When they were sent to prison, they were again brutally beaten for two days while their hands were tied to a steel bar and their backs were bent forward. The jailers gave them just one piece of a local bread called kuboos each day. The experience was agonizing.

One of the pastors said none of them thought they would still come out of prison alive and that they were already anticipating a death sentence. Yet, though they were tortured, they found comfort in remembering what Jesus went through and they began to confess, “The blood of Jesus is our victory!”

Bibles for Mideast, which was unable to get information regarding the condition of the four Christians since they were taken into custody, sent out an urgent call for prayer and fasting for the protection and release of the four Christians.

Unknown to them, God was already moving behind the scenes. On their third day in prison, the four Christians were visited by a high-ranking jail officer. He treated them well and ordered the jailer to untie their hands and give them good food. After that, he left and disappeared into his office.

The four Christian prisoners were baffled by the officer’s kind treatment.

“We thought, he came with a decision of finishing our life of this world. That’s why treating us like this,” one of the pastors said.

The officer came to their cell again in the evening — and surprised them all when he asked them to pray for him.

As it turned out, he had a dream about Jesus the previous week. The Lord visited him in a dream, appearing in glory and seated on a throne. Bright light surrounded Him, and millions of angels were at His bidding. Jesus raised His nail-pierced hand and showed it to the jail officer.

The officer had the same dream again the following night, and the night after that. His dreams drew him to know more about Jesus so he read about Him on the Internet.

The next evening, he had another dream. Jesus appeared to him once more and told him, “My children are being tortured in your jail. I leave them before you. My children are the apple of my eyes.”

That was when he decided to visit the jail and see the four believers. He stayed there three days, spending most of his time talking to them about Jesus. They shared the gospel to him and he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

The jail officer wrote an order to release the four Christians. It was initially rejected by the court, but it was finally granted after he filed an appeal. So all four of them were set free.

The officer invited them to his “cottage” in the prison upon their release, where they were given good food. He then requested that he be baptized. The two pastors baptized him along with the two new believers.

Then he took them in his car and drove them back to their homes. He encouraged them to continue their work for God and warned them to be careful.

The four believers were thankful to those who prayed for them.

“We thank for those who were fasting and praying for us,” one of the pastors said. “Our Lord Jesus Christ is worthy to be praised. All glory and honour to Him forever and ever!”

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Tags : Persecution, Middle East Christian persecution, Middle East churches, Bibles for Mideast, Sharia law, Assembly of Loving God, Christian persecution, Salvation, evangelism, Gospel, Church Planting