Providing the setting for this episode’s reality segments are scenes from a seaside retreat Huda and Dr. Cynthia took together in Northern California. They pray and meditate while walking the beach, and find inspiration to share Jesus with the world.
To explain and encourage forwarding The Great Commission, Dr. Cynthia reads Bible verses from both the Old and New Testaments. With visions from the Pacific Coast for a background, these verses illustrate how it has always been God’s desire that people all over the world should come to know Him and the blessings of following him (Isaiah 51:15 & 42:10-12 & 24:14-16 & 25:7 & 26:3,12 and Habakkuk 2:14).
This is a real life update on Huda’s discipleship progress in filmed five years after she had become a believer (by now it is actually been closer to 8 years). Dr. Cynthia is glad to report that, counter to many Muslims who revert to Islam, Huda has shown no tendency to return. She exposes the falsehood of Islam, and shares the truth with other Middle Easterners.
Some people who were baptized as babies, as is done in certain branches of Christianity, are baptized again as adults. Dr. Cynthia interviews two women who made this choice. Both Christine and Teresa, a dedicated supporter of our work, were baptized as babies. They were raised in nominally Christian homes. When these women heard the gospel as adults and gave their lives to Jesus, they decided to be baptized again to symbolize this change. Christine had ill health and passed away to heaven about two years after this interview. We are so glad that she decided to follow Jesus and will be resurrected like him, not only symbolically, but in reality!
In this reality segment, Dr. C and Huda are picking pomegranates. Expected and unexpected things happen during their activity. The way Dr. C and Huda find lessons from the activities and nature around them, reminds us of how Jesus gave object lessons from every day life, and told stories called “parables.” For example, they seek pomegranates as Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Pomegranates need light to ripen, just as we need the light of Jesus and God’s Word to mature (John 8:12).
When interpreting a parable – or anything Jesus taught – we should consider it in the context he was presenting the parable in. If we dig deeply to uncover the setting Jesus was speaking in or about, Jesus’ teaching takes on more power.
We give several examples to illustrate the power of Jesus teaching in context: When Jesus invited the thirsty to come to him, he was in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. Water was an important part of this festival, and he was likely standing near the water gate, so that the water reinforced his point (John 7:2,37,38). When he said he was the Light of the World in John 8:12, he was likely near candlesticks in the temple during the Feast of Hanukkah. Jesus’ claim to be the Bread of Life came just after he fed over 5,000 people in John 6.
One of the most effective parables to use in sharing God’s love with Muslims, in Dr. C’s opinion, is that of the lost jewelry coin. Since jewelry is still of great importance to Middle Eastern and Asian women, they even now relate to the idea of loosing something special to them. In fact, most people have lost something of value to them. So, the parable of the lost coin/jewelry might hit closer to home than the parable of the lost sheep with adults in today’s culture.
Both parables can also be used with those of a variety of backgrounds to illustrate how God values and searches for us (Luke 15:4-32). There is no similar illustration of God’s persistent love in Islam.
Seeking Coffee is a short modern parable. While on a driving trip, Dr. C and Huda need a break. They vigorously search for coffee, but have difficulty finding a place open where they are. This reminds them of Luke 19:10, where Jesus seeks and saves the lost.
Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son is discussed in this clip (Luke 15:11-31). This story is of a rebellious young man, a prodigal son, who does not realize what is important until he hits rock bottom. Jewish background believer Bob Siegel retells the story, including background information from his culture.
Through this story we see God as our Heavenly Father, full of hope, waiting for us to come to life’s most important realization: that he loves each of us and wants us in his family. There is nothing like this in Islam.
In Matthew 13:1-23 we see Jesus telling a story based on something people knew from every day life: seeds and types of soil. God’s word is like seed. If we do not understand or accept it, it is as if it fell on packed earth. Perhaps we accept it with joy, but quickly fall away. Many or most of us who claim to believe do see the seed sprout, but we focus on the cares or pleasures of life rather than God’s word and kingdom; so we can not be as fruitful and the best soil, which might produce up to 100 times what was sewn.
Jesus taught us how to treat our neighbors, and who our neighbors are. He also told us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). These are some of Jesus’ teachings which so contrast with Islam, and are refreshing and at times startling to people from Muslim background. Former Muslim Huda loves these teachings of Jesus on neighbors and enemies.
Some of this teaching is in the laws of the Old Testament, but with his usual flair, he affirms, expands, and breathes life into the concept. It is part of his teaching on how we should live for God’s kingdom here on earth.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. When he was challenged on this, he told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus teaching on neighbors illustrates that we must love whoever comes across our path, as ourselves, whether they are like us, or dramatically different, as was the Good Samaritan from the injured Jew he rescued.
Other religions have incorporated The Golden Rule into their teachings, without knowing that it was Jesus who taught it in Matthew 7:12,
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.”
Huda tells us that one of her favorite parables of Jesus is that of the vine and the branches. In this clip we show a reality clip of her and Dr. C looking at vines, and hear Barbie explaining why this is also one of her favorite parables.
In John 15:1-8, Jesus uses the powerful parable of the vine and the branches to illustrate the importance of abiding in him. He spoke these words after his last supper with his disciples on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane, probably as they were walking through a vineyard. (This is another example of where the context of a story helps strengthen its impact.) He takes the metaphors of himself as the vine and his followers as the branches, and expands it into a parable with the heavenly Father as the Gardener. If we stay attached to Christ, and let his word live in us we will bear fruit. Simply trying to do it on our own, in our own way will accomplish nothing worthwhile for the eternal kingdom of God.
This clip opens up with the real life situation of Dr. C having forgotten something important. That reminds her of Jesus’ parable of the young women who were not ready for the wedding feast and missed out (Matthew 25:1-13). We certainly want to be ready when the Lord returns for us, don’t we?
Dr. C tells shares with us the scientific basis for the power of parables. Modern psychology has discovered that if we can use a fitting word picture to illustrate a point that touches the emotions it give the story more impact. Huda confirms this by telling us that she loves Jesus’ stories, and that the power of Jesus’ parables is such that she will never forget them.
Beware of the misuse of parables, especially by enemies of the cross. Jesus’ parables were used to illustrate a point, not as a basis for theology. Dr. C has seen parables not only used out of context, but deliberately twisted to make a point by enemies of the cross.
For example, Dr. C cites the parable of the talents in Luke 19:11-27, and the misuse of this parable by an imam. At the end of the parable the king says, “Those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.” Dr. C heard this Islamic teacher publicly misattribute this quote to Jesus himself, saying that Jesus told his followers to kill their enemies.
Jesus never told his followers to kill his enemies, nor did he teach the promotion of faith by force, rather the opposite (Matthew 13:24-30). Mohammed however did have his enemies killed in front of him and did teach to promote his faith by force.
Dr. C likes to remind us that her view of the Christian life is Peace and Purpose. The three kinds of peace are with God, ourselves, and other people. We balance that with fulfilling God’s purpose for our individual lives.
Some places and situations make it easier for us to sense God’s peace than others. In this peaceful garden, the way the pond reflects the beautiful trees and pleasing Japanese design illustrates how we should reflect Christ in our lives (II Corinthians 3:18). Such reflection of Christ brings together both peace and purpose.
Enable Us, our original theme hymn, debuted in the series’ final episode as a music video. The song is based on the prayer of the church, recorded in Acts 4:29,30, that God enable them with his power to boldly speak forth his word.
Enable Us is also posted on YouTube. But here, you can catch a view of ministry supporters and professional musicians performing it here before it went public.
(Copyright . You, your church and your worship team are welcome to perform it in worship services at no charge. Obtain permission for publication or recording.)
Many in the Muslim world, and elsewhere, are disenchanted. They feel that the teachings they grew up with lead to practices they see every day and dislike: terrorism, Muslim on Muslim violence, mistreatment of women and minorities. Many want to find the truth.
In this clip, Rev. Georges Houssney, world-wide teacher and evangelist from the Middle East, gives us three keys for finding the truth:
#1 Be Sincere, #2 Pray, #3 Compare Teachings and Leaders.
Be Sincere: Do we truly want to find the truth? It takes courage to openly examine what we have been taught or grew up believing, but if we are sincerely open and sincerely seek truth we are putting ourselves in the position to find it.
Pray: This can be difficult if you do not believe in God. Many agnostics however have prayed, “If there is a God, reveal yourself to me!” And it has happened. If you do believe in God, pray that he show you which holy book and teachings reveal him and his way.
Then compare the teachings of the major religions. You will see that although most have similarities, they vary in significant ways. They can’t all be true. When you compare the leaders of world religions, you will clearly see that there is no one who compares to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this clip Dr. C and Luke Price discuss the question, Is detachment good? and if so, to what extent. Eastern religions are now being strongly considered as alternatives faiths for people from both Muslim and general Western backgrounds. Modern life is hectic. Every day we hear of tragic violence. Thus, the peaceful concepts of Buddhism and Hinduism have a widespread appeal. These positive aspects of the religions are emphasized and promoted, while not much is generally discussed about their negative aspects. This is opposed to Christianity, which sets its negative up front, openly admitting people are sinners. So, Christianity is presented by the world as being negative. Once we get beyond that however, the good news of Christianity includes not only peace – with God, ourselves, and others – but also eternal life.
In this clip Dr. Cynthia discusses with apologist Luke Price the Eastern concept of detachment. Both Christianity and Eastern religions warn us of the dangers of attachment to worldly things. Eastern religions however, go farther. They tell their followers that the higher path requires them to detach from people – even their nearest and dearest. Dr. C tells about one of her friends, an internationally famous Muslim apostate who was considering Buddhism, but could not accept detachment from people. Many ills in their societies result from this teaching. Price shares his view that attachment shows our humanity and makes life richer.
This clip provides guidelines for someone who is searching for the true religion. Many Muslims are discouraged with Islam, and are wondering where to turn to find truth. A vast number of secular people in the West, raised without religion, are also looking for something to believe in. This is one of several clips that are directed to these seekers, and to strengthen the faith and apologetics training of believers.
Price tells us that there is a classic law of logic called, The Law of Non-contradiction. This means that two claims which are contradictory can not both be true. Different religions have very contradictory claims. So, the popular claim that all religions are true is not logical, and is easily proven untrue itself.
Is the Bible really written in different styles? Yes. Does this help us to understand why it is different from the Qur’an? Yes!
In learning about the Bible, especially if coming from a Muslim background, it is helpful to know that the Bible is written in several styles. At times the styles reflect the character of the author, their background, culture, or first language. It also includes what we would call different genres of literature, meaning different classes of writing. Some of the book is poetry, some proverbs – words of wisdom, some parables, some analogies, some history, theology, and advice for living. These examples show us how the Bible is written in several styles.
The inspiration of the Bible: How does the inspiration of the Bible differ from the way other holy books claim to have been inspired?
1 Peter 1:20,21, tells us that Bible Scripture was inspired as a prophet was led along by the Holy Spirit. This differs from the dictation form of “inspiration” recounted by Mohammed. He claimed to have a series of revelations from “Angel Gabriel,” at least one for each book (surah) of the Qur’an. (In fact, the hadiths, traditions, report that Mohammed was afraid after his first “revelation,” and not even certain if the angel that appeared to him was from God, or a demon.) Joseph Smith also received revelation from an angel. For the translation of the cryptic tablets of Mormonism, English words reportedly appeared to him in a box-like device.
Most of the books of the Koran begin with an affirmative statement, “Bismallah ar-rahman ar-raheem” (in the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate), for example at the beginning of book 2, The Cow. To those used to reading the Qur’an, such words are a key that what follows is to be considered as coming directly from God.
The Bible does have verses which say this about God (Exodus 34:6, Jonah 4:2), but no books of the Bible start out with a similar queue. So, for a Muslim who begins to read the Bible, it can be difficult to accept that it is the inspired Word of God. Also, the Bible includes many details about patriarchs and prophets that Muslims have heard about. Not everything it says about them is flattering. The Bible is a book based in reality, so it records the truth about God’s people, their mistakes and sins, as the saying goes, “warts and all!”
In order for Muslims to understand the difference in Biblical inspiration from what they expect, Dr. Cynthia points out that although there are places where the Bible directly reports what God says, “This is what the Lord says” (Jeremiah 21), and very rarely a voice is heard from heaven, as with Moses and the heavenly voice at Jesus baptism. God as Jesus spoke directly to the people in his sermons, like the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and in instructions to his disciples.
God also speaks indirectly in the Bible. “Then the Word of the Lord came to me,” Zechariah says in 4:8, reporting to us who hear indirectly what he was told.
God’s word is often implied, as in wisdom presented in Proverbs, advice in letters of the New Testament, and in the lessons we absorb from considering the lives of Bible characters (1 Corinthians 10:11, James 5:10, Hebrews 11-12:3).