A Portal of Hope

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. 

As Mohammed heard the call to prayer, he went anticipating to hear a message from the Quran and to pray to Allah. He would sometimes meditate on the teachings of Sufi cleric, Sheikh Eid Al-Jariri, before walking to the mosque. The weather was particularly nice this day and he knew it would be a good day. Mohammed was greeted by friends and welcomed in as the worship began. The message was one of worship to Allah and peace with friends. It seemed to be a hopeful message. As prayers were closing, Mohammed walked out with his friends, Ahmed and Ali, then BOOM…!! A loud, explosive sound came from inside the mosque, a bomb and then another right after that one! Screams break into the air and then gunfire is heard. “Allah Akbar!!” is shrieked and then more gunfire. “Run, Run, Run!!” Mohammed sees blood on his hands as Ahmed falls to the ground. They run as bullets fly past him and then more explosions. The ambulance comes and Mohammed cries, “Please help me, help us here!” The gunshots blow up the ambulance and there is no escape. Mohammed looks into the sky and prays for mercy and then looks to see the bodies of 2 young boys and others all around. “Mercy, Allah!!” and then as he screams, the bullets pierce his chest and then he screeches in pain and gasps for breath. He looks to the left to see Ali with the blank look of death and blood all over his newly bought galabeya (cultural robe) drenched with blood. Then Mohammed closes his eyes and dies.

Mohammed wasn’t expecting to die at the hand of other Muslims. He simply wanted to worship his god according to his conscience. Then he and over 200 Muslims died from a deliberate act of terror this past week in Bir al-Abed Egypt. It is a small town of a little over 1900 people. This is still a shock to this town where every family was effected. This senseless outrage was done to appease the false god of a religion that breeds on fear. Mohammed was one of many that died without hope.

Our only hope is in the cross and the resurrection. The Gospel springs forth hope and salvation. We have God’s life bringing message and sometimes, we are the only ones with it. What I mean is, that the Gospel is about Jesus and it is a message for the entire world. Why is this treasure kept to us, when it is a gift that is free for all? What would have happened if these terrorists were shown the power of the Gospel? What would have happened had Mohammed heard the truth of a Loving God that gave Himself for him. Hope only heals if it arrives on time. People are in darkness. Why not be a portal and ray of hope to those who have never heard that the Lord Jesus Christ, God of Life, died, was buried and Rose Again so that you, who was dead in sins could live life and that more abundantly.

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Open Doors

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance… Col 4:3-4

“Does the religion of God need updates?” Mostafa sincerely asked. I searched for a hotel to stay at as I was driving up to PA from GA. I stopped in to Comfort Inn in VA. The greeter at the front desk said that I hadn’t reserved, although I tried to make this reservation earlier. I left baffled and tried to find another place. I drove to another exit and didn’t find anything. I drove all the way back seeing on the internet that a room was available at the Comfort Inn. I made the reservation and to my surprise there was a new person at the front desk when I entered. He looked Arab and his name was Mostafa. I greeted him in Arabic and he responded the same way.
“Izaauk” How are you? in Egyptian Arabic. “Ilhumdollah.” Praise be to God.  I found out that he was from Egypt and I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to make a new friend.
God opened up a door of utterance and we were able to get acquainted for hours and I was able to witness to him. Mostafa wondered why the Old Testament needed to have the New Testament and then the Quran. He wondered about the differences and how they could be reconciled if they were the same God. I was able to explain the diffference between God’s word and the Quran. Mostafa was inquisitive and had honest questions. By the time I decided to go to bed around 2AM, my friend promised to read the NT and to search the Scriptures for the truth.

We need to always be ready to speak the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is always faithful to give opportunities to witness when we pray and are ready. God continually brings Egyptians across my path that are open to hear the truth, even while I am here in the United States. Mahroos is another friend that the Lord brought across my path and he visited the church after I invited him!!

The Lord of glory desires to see all know Him, but He wants His people to listen to His command to go into all the earth and proclaim His glorious name. “How shall they hear without a preacher?” The answer to this is, they won’t.

 

God meant it unto Good

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Gen 50:20

 “I need a copy of the Bible. I need it as soon as possible.” Waleed, my Muslim friend insisted. Let’s rewind. Just a few months ago, Coptic churches were bombed by Islamic terrorists. Then a few weeks ago, terror struck again when Jihadists stopped a bus filled with kids going on a field trip to St Samuel Monastery. 28 people were killed, including children. These atrocities grieve and sicken the hearts of many. Many angrily cursed Muslims. Others shared their opinions on Facebook. Many were so distressed, they didn’t want to leave home. Can any good come from these circumstances?

When Joseph was thrown into the pit by his brothers, they meant it unto evil, but God used it for his glory. Nations were saved from starvation and the kingdom of God went forward because of the faithfulness and wisdom of God to use rejection and tragedy for His glory. Is God the Author of sin? Does he approve of sin? No, He does not. He hates it so much that He would die on the cross for us. These freely chose to use the gift of free will to destroy, but God worked through these circumstances for His name’s sake.

Back to Waleed. I spoke to him many years ago about the Lord Jesus. I witnessed to him and other Muslim friends around his work place. I hadn’t seen him in years. I planned to walk into his work place, The Bakery Shop and head back home to eat some warm doughnuts and cake! As I spoke to him, I was cordial and wished him to find God during the Month of Ramadan. As I was about to leave, Waleed asked for God’s word. He can’t wait to read it. I know God’s word will not return void. I truly believe he will find God. The Muslims are tired of seeing the violence from those claiming to be true followers of Islam. They are broken by what they see. Some deny and some defend, but others open up to the Gospel. Jesus seeks sinners and He uses His people to lift up His name. He uses circumstances that are unspeakable to be glorified. He healed a man that was blind from birth for His glory. We pray He will be magnified in these tragic conditions, as well.

Zeal for God

For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (Rom 10:2)

 “I really believe that by sacrificing the sheep, we can have forgiveness. God says this in the Quran.” Ibrahim peacefully replied. Ibrahim is a friend of mine that puts his hope and life in the hands of the god of the Quran. He is my friend and it grieves me to see him willfully walk in darkness. Other of my Muslim friends try to attack the Bible and its teachings and I know they have no understanding of it’s light, the Lord Jesus Christ. Millions of Muslims are preparing for Ramadan, their holy month. The giant red lamps are out and people are talking about the heat wave here. Some are making plans to meet up and break the fast together. The Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and then break the fast together with friends and family. They hope to gain Allah’s favor and seek his will in prayer. Some even take the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca where thousands walk around the Kaaba 7 times in order to gain forgiveness of sins for a year.

They have a zeal towards God, but no knowledge of the One God that had an eternal plan for their deliverance. They try to establish their own righteousness, but reject Jesus Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Where is the hope? Are these that work an everyday job, want better for their families, hurt themselves to please the untrue god left without an opportunity to have life and that more abundantly?

The Father that had us in His mind and sacrificed His beloved Son has done His part. The Lord Jesus Christ is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He has done His part and the Holy Spirit is doing His. The God of the Bible has a zealous love for the world. He draws all to Himself and is working to seek and to save that which is lost. What is the problem? Where is the zeal for God’s glory in the life of the believers? Where is the passion to see His true righteousness established in those blinded by their dead works? Have we, as believers become more zealous about sports, politics, our rights, etc..? The lost sacrifice so much to gain paradise, when we have full access to the throne of God through the Lord Jesus.

I pray that we zealously and boldly preach Christ and disciple the saved and see a righteous zeal move our hearts to the lost. Christ is seeking to save that which was lost through His people. Will you commit yourself to His glory in the salvation of the lost around you?

Jesus, Our Advocate

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).

  As the worshippers stepped into St. George Coptic Church in Tanta, Egypt, they came expecting to spend a peaceful and joyous time together at the Palm Sunday service. All was well, until a bomb exploded killing at least 27 and injuring 78 others. A similar attack killed 17, including 3 female officers at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria hours later. The scene was horrendous and the screams filled the streets with terror. We are still in shock and are grieved by the circumstances in Egypt. Isis claims responsibility and this comes as no surprise to those who know their reputation. The lives of the families of the victims forever changed in the midst of the chaos. We pray for comfort, strength and hope for these here. We do not know what will happen today or tomorrow and life is as short as a vapor (James 4:14). We must be prepared for eternity.

  The accuser of the brethren, Satan continually bombards believers and works to kill and destroy. The lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life causes even the strongest Christian to falter. We are in a war. Who gives us strength and protection? It is none other than Jesus Christ, the righteous. He is our only hope in the spiritual battle that rages against us. We sin, but we have peace with God through Jesus the only Mediator between God and man. We have Jesus that defends us as Advocate. We have Him speaking for us as our Intercessor. His blood cleanses and speaks for us before the throne of our Father. I am so thankful for His everlasting protection against the wiles of the devil.

  The battle is not against flesh and blood. The scenes of disaster from Palm Sunday are an outworking of the Destroyer and his principalities. We have to be equipped with all of who Christ is and what we have in Him. We then must live Him out in our actions and words. He is our victory in times of peace and war, and at the darkest of times, He is our Light.

  Pray as we lift up the Lord Jesus to battle against the tactics of the devil. Our Advocate is our victory and defense. We pray to claim the victory to see lives restored and dead come to life through the power of the Gospel.

Christ is all

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:11). 

  As Paul hears of the different cultures in the church, he also hears of the division in the church of Colosse. He writes from a dingy prison with love for the Christ and this church filled with  different classes of people and different nationalities. There were false doctrines infecting the body of Christ. Worship of angels, circumcision for salvation, dead works and legalistic standards also haunted the church. High rhetoric and fancy speeches also won the hearts of the people instead of sound doctrine. After addressing these issues in chapter 2, Paul speaks plainly. He says, Christ is all. He already defined Christ as King, Savior, Creator, Head of the Church and Almighty God in the flesh. He clearly said that Christ is the fulness of the Godhead bodily an ye are complete in Him (Col 2:9-10). So when Paul said, Christ is all, and in all, he was simply stating the answer to all your fights, false teachings, and arrogance is nothing other than the Lord Jesus Christ. When one sees the sufficiency of Christ for all things, He is able to throw out lies and put on truth. He is able to bond with believers, no matter what their background or class. He is able to love the unlovable and respect the lowliest slave. He is able to break the bondage of sin and walk with freedom in Christ.

  As I look all around me in Cairo, Egypt, I see a land filled with people from all walks of life. They are living, yet bound by false traditions, false teaching and wrong philosophy. Many listen to the teacher on television more than the clear teachings of Scripture. Many worship saints and pray to them and do not know there is one mediator between God and man and that He ever lives to intercede for us. Many believe by praying towards Mecca and wearing just the right clothes and fasting and, and , and…. they can receive favor from God and possibly make it to heaven or paradise. There are divisions of classes as the house cleaner is ashamed and has to lie to her family about work. The street sweeper and the beggar have no respect due to their class in life. How can these issues be solved? The only way is the full knowledge and submission to the idea that Christ is all. He is for all peoples and classes. He is truth and clears up lies. He is the way and guides us in the right way. He is hope and frees the worried from the worries of today and tomorrow. He is joy and peace to those oppressed and in war with themselves and others.

  We have to spread the news that Christ is all and is above any false idea for salvation and way of life. The first step to this submission is to Repent and believe the Gospel. The gospel is that the Holy God of heaven has placed judgment upon those without Him because of their sin. The Lord Jesus Christ manifest Himself in the flesh to take the full penalty of sin upon Himself and then rose again for full forgiveness of sins and the imputation of righteousness to those the believe upon Him. He will then be your all because He is all you need.

 

Press toward the mark

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:13-14).

As I reflect over the past year and look forward to the upcoming year, I remember that the Lord has given us many trials and blessings. We found out about a condition that our son has, where tumors are on his brain and can grow all over his body. We came back to Egypt and found the country in turmoil while we battled sickness continually. At times, the ministry seems to be moving backwards instead of upwards. When I reflect upon these things, it causes me to examine my heart and life. God then reminds me of the passage above. I cannot live and be motivated by my dead works as we see Paul lay out at the beginning of the chapter. I must simply relish in the fact that I have been given the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. I yearn to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings while being made like Him in His death.

This past year has been a blessing in the midst of some trials. I realize that God uses these circumstances to conform me to be more like the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants me to live unto Him and not unto men. He wants me to know Him closely and when I see that I need to change to be more like Him, I need to confess and forsake so that I can show people Christ in me the hope of glory.

I want others to see Christ in me this upcoming year. I want many in darkness to hear the voice of the Savior and then come to know Him. I pray to see these trained for the work of the ministry and then to reach others for the sake of the name of Christ. The Lord wants His name published in all nations. We have a great and overwhelming work ahead of us here in Egypt. As I walk outside and see that many are blinded spiritually, the Lord works in me to speak His name. I know that He is my goal and strength. Through Him, I can do mightily. Without Him, I can do nothing. I commit myself to do His will and follow Him daily so that His name will be glorified here and throughout the earth.

Will you pray for Egypt and the nations that are in darkness? Will you consider visiting here and giving your life for a greater cause? The harvest is plenteous and the laborers are few. You may have had trials and tribulations this past year. You may have had some victories and times of blessing. I pray that you would forget those things that are behind you and press towards Christ this year. I pray that you will seek His kingdom first and His righteousness. I pray that you will see the world through His eyes and weep for the lost, while adamantly doing all you can to love and reach them. God has a great plan for you this upcoming year. Live it for His eternal  glory.