Is Islam A Peaceful Religion?

Since 9-11 our American culture has changed from a political standpoint. Even still, in some ways I think it seems we’ve gone back to our old ways as a nation. The fact that Muslim terrorist flew 2 jumbo jet airliners into the World Trade Center buildings and brought them to rubble seems to have disappeared completely from our consciousness. In many ways Americans have slipped back to complacency and comfort, and as the Bible says “the condition is worse than the first”. (Matt. 12:45)

Dubbing Islam a “religion of peace” has been the political mantra since 9-11 in the attempt to differentiate between Islamic terrorists and non-violent Muslims. With recent beheadings of Egypitian Christians, attacks on US embassies and the torturing of Christians across the world, we have to ask ourselves if Islam is really a peaceful religion? Are the people carrying out these subhuman acts a marginal few or is decapitation something that is encouraged in the Quran and they are simply acting in strict obedience to it? Lets look at a few passages from the Quran itself:

Quran 8:12-13 [Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.” That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.

The Islamic warriors of ISIS behead those they consider infidels out of direct obedience to Quran 8:12.

Quran 47:4 So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others.

Quran 2:191 And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

These are just a few of the more direct references in the Quran to killing, beheading and war. I realize that there are many “nominal” Muslims just like there are many Christians that are Christian in name only. But even the most fundementalist of Christians who take the Bible seriously could not justify murder nor killing in the name of Jesus. It’s just not possible.

I’m curious what your thoughts are? How would a modern Muslim interpret these verses from the Quran? How about the Muslim view on homosexuality and treatment of women? Are we judging Islam too harshly? Share your comments below.


Thoughts On Furgeson: Can We Learn From This?

familyI am a product of a bi-racial household. No, I’m not black (as you could probably tell) but when I was 5 years old my mother met the soul mate of her life and had two siblings. One a baby brother and the youngest, my baby sister. He just so happened to be African-American or as normal people say: black. From the age of 5 I grew up with Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Earth Wind and Fire records playing on the weekends. I also know what the smell of chitlins smells like and love the taste of mustard greens and pork neck bones.

This doesn’t make me black, nor does it qualify me to understand the least bit of what it means to be a minority in America today. However, I did get used to the stares in public and being treated differently when we went out for a meal or to the store.

As a teenager, I also had my unfortunate experience with police harassment, as I was the minority white guy within my group of friends at the time.

The episode in Furgeson and the race wars in my generation is nothing new. This has been going on as far as I can remember. Whether it was the beating of Rodney King, the shooting of Amadou Diallo or OJ Simpson, I think we can all agree that at least some forms of racism and discrimination exist today. I would like to replace the word “racism” with “fear.” For fear, I believe, is at the heart of all racism. Fear of things, cultures and people we simply don’t understand or know about. My experience as a white person raised in black culture removed much of the fear associated with black stereotypes. Because I was engrained in their community, I understood that black people are human beings, just like anyone else. I became familiar with the experience of a black person, yet without the actual color on my skin. People with less exposure to black culture may lack appreciation for or even outright demonize minorities without any clue or understanding. Mind you, there ARE differences and color does matter. But at the end of the day, I found that just because a black man has some size, wears a gold chain and braids, does not mean he is a thug, gangster or violent.

So since this is the latest of an ongoing conversation and experience, lets see what we can learn from this:

1. White people should stop minimizing the reality of racial discrimination.
Yes, we are in a different millennium, but fear is never locked into any specific place and time in history. There has been much progress in racial reconciliation today, yet we still have work to do to see that reconciliation and real understanding and love become second nature between people of different ethnicities.

2. Black people must understand the complexities that exist in their communities and rise to the occasion to help be “repairers of brokeness”.
Fatherlessness, not only in the black family, but in America at large is an epidemic. The breakdown of the family where some young black males are being raised by the streets or lacking true mentoring and fathering must be acknowledged and rectified. Black men must first become responsible themselves and then take up the responsibility of mentoring and guiding those without fathers in their home to break this cycle. I know for myself, being fatherless, it was the input and guidance of Godly men in the church that helped to form me to be the person I am today.

3. We must react to injustice in a way that will actually bring about real change.
I am not making a statement on the Michael Brown case one way or another here. I simply mean to say that when we DO feel that justice has not been served or there has been a breakdown in a flawed social system, we must stop being talkers and become doers. We have to get involved:

What has your experience been with racism, injustice or even reverse discrimination? I would appreciate your respectful and thoughtful comments here. Hateful or misguided comments will be deleted and moderated for better discussion.


4 Challenges To The House Church Movement

There have been many good things that I’ve learned and gathered during our time spent within the house church movement. For those of you that don’t know, my wife and I have spent about 5 years both attending and starting house churches. Within those groups of people the Lord has taken me through a character development that I might not have acquired should I have stayed within our traditional church model. Close knit relationships that house church provides positively provides accelerated personal growth. I learned about fostering loving relationships, building unity, serving your brother and sister and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in ways you wouldn’t appreciate or think otherwise. However, with all the good that I’ve seen, there are many things I find concerning about those within the house church movement and just house churches in general:

1. An elitism spirit.
I myself have been guilty of this as it has rubbed off on me in the past. This spirit can plague any church, traditional or not, however it seems that the people I’ve come into contact with through house church seem to think that because they are small they are holding on to pure doctrine and haven’t compromised. They equate largeness and bigger churches with watered down theology or worldliness. Instead of recognizing the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ universal, many people within house church movements seem to write off any church that doesn’t look like house church. This creates an “us vs. them” mentality and is not wholesome, nor helpful to convince those outside of house churches that they are indeed more Biblical than modern day traditional churches. While I would agree that house churches are a Biblical model of church life, they surely are not the solution to the problems and issues that you find in most every church. There are people in megachurches that are on fire for God and love Jesus passionately, just as there are dead believers and couch surfers within living rooms across America.

2. Super comfortable
House churches tend to be comfy. I mean who wouldn’t want to be a part of a “come as you are” group, sit on some comfy couches in someones living room while sipping coffee and discussing the Bible. (Sounds like a small group to me anyway) Although there is room for this activity in the church, its called fellowship, sharing life and koinonia. If this is ALL the church is about, then we’ve lost sight of all of the OTHER aspects of church such as mission, worship, discipleship, prayer and meeting the needs of the poor. I have no interest in a comfortable Christian lifestyle and I doubt the early church met in homes to be comfy. Instead they were FORCED to meet behind closed doors due to some of the harshest persecution experienced in history.

3. Lack of mission and evangelism
Anything that is healthy should grow. If we are truly fulfilling the command of Jesus to make and multiply disciples, this means that our house churches should be growing…not staying small. The “fellowship” nature of house church seems to favor the us 4 no more mentality. Those in small groups get so familiar and comfortable with the bond they have created, its difficult or hard for others to join and many within the group don’t WANT others to join. They either don’t want to put up with the messy lives of unbelievers or steer away from having to make the necessary relational sacrifices it requires to see people come to know Jesus.

4. Lack of clear leadership or organizational structure
This, to me, is probably the most concerning of house churches. The church is both organic and organized. Organizations rise and fall on leadership, poor or the lack thereof. During the time we spent meeting people who wanted to meet in homes, we found a pervasive distrust due to wounds of the past, and the squelching of anyone who would presume to lead. Paul said the “aspiration” to become and elder is a good “desire”. (1 Tim. 3:1) The Bible also clearly teaches the responsibilities and qualifications of leaders and the way the church should respond to them. (Eph. 4:11-13, 1 Thess. 5:12, Heb. 13:17). Leadership doesn’t automatically equate lording over someone or trampling people in exchange for vision. Instead, vision is a life giving source because people without vision end up dying. (Prov. 29:18) Loving, servant leadership provides this.

This list isn’t exhaustive, however it’s a beginning start for house churches to identify and see where they are lacking and make the necessary upgrades to their ministries. Unlike most other church organizations, we respect and appreciate house churches for who they are, spiritual families centered around Jesus. Meeting in a house doesn’t make them any less of a church, yet our desire is to see churches alive, growing and healthy, no mater what model they express.


The Earth Is Not Your Mother

As we continue our series of dealing with the deception in the New Age movement, spiritualism and the occult, a perfect example of what I’m referring to has sprung up in our own personal lives. Let me give a quick explanation what happened this week.

My wife works as a sort of “curriculum director” of a national chain, private school. Her role is to review the teacher’s lesson plans, coach new teachers and assist with instruction where needed in the class room. Recently they hired a new teacher, well educated and seemingly a good fit overall. She has an exceptional love for children. However, week by week her lessons have become, well lets say….interesting. One day she is introducing a lesson on crystals to her 4-5 year olds. Another day she is teaching the kids about “valuing our earth”. Seems harmless for sure, right? Pure science? Yesterday was drawing the line.

IMG_9455After looking up the song “The Earth is Our Mother”, my wife found a dozen or so pagan, witch websites displaying the lyrics and purpose of the song to raise up energy.

Let me ask you a question. If you had your 4 or 5 year old in that classroom would you want them exposed to a mystical, wiccan chant and to dance around in a circle? This is happening more and more as our society is trying to “rebrand” paganism. The re-branding is taking place under the “Love the Earth” or “Green Movement”.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many legitimate, innocent people who belong to this cause out of a innocent love of nature, science and sincerely believe there is a global energy crisis we need to address. That viewpoint, I respect. Yet many within this movement are also closet pagans. When I say pagan, I simply mean individuals who practice witchcraft through the means of earth worship, summoning demonic spirits and, in essence, practicing what the Bible calls idolatry. Lets look a few Scriptures to see what the Bible says about our relationship to the Earth:

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:28)- God gave man a responsibility to care for the earth. He is not equal to the earth, nor is subordinate to the earth. He is to govern, or rule and administrate it for its good.

“You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them
And the heavenly host bows down before You.” (Neh. 9:6)- God alone is Lord OVER the earth. The earth is not our ultimate source, but God, who created the earth. We worship the creator of heaven and earth, not the creation itself.

‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe to the women who sew magic bands on all wrists and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature to hunt down lives! Will you hunt down the lives of My people, but preserve the lives of others for yourselves? For handfuls of barley and fragments of bread, you have profaned Me to My people to put to deathsome who should not die and to keep others alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies.” (Ezek. 13:17-19)- The practice of magic is forbidden including the use of bands, clothing, robes and other natural tools for the purpose of trying to divine or control the earth and peoples wills. This is deception and ultimately is a form of idolatry that Israel participated in and also still occurs today in our culture.

“…while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)- What is seen is temporary and will one day come to an end.

These are just a few of the multitude of Scripture that make it clear to us as Christians that, although we should rightly take care of our planet, we sure shouldn’t worship it. We must be careful as many people start to get pulled into this movement innocently, that we still be acutely aware of where we draw the line. Teaching and instructing them with patience, love and respect. Yet hoping they come to the knowledge of the truth with repentance and turn to their true source, our Father in heaven. (2 Tim. 4:2)

I’m curious to hear your comments below. There are many opposing view points on the subject and I understand the controversial nature of “going green”. Do you think there is a dark side to this movement? How should we, as Christians, respond to people that are involved in the occult from a Biblical perspective?


Should Christians Participate in Tarot Readings, Horoscopes, Astrology, Numerology and and The Like?

This shouldn’t be a question that even needs explaining. However, I am witnessing more and more Christians that are illiterate to what the Bible actually teaches on this and other matters of spiritual life, and also more Christians seem to be increasingly ignorant to Satan’s devices than ever. The typical responses to such matters are: A. Its harmless entertainment, B. It’s ok as long as I’m not hurting anybody, or C. I don’t really care, my ignorance is bliss. First off lets take a look at a few Scriptures to see what the Bible teaches about seeking knowledge, even more, seeking knowledge that is reserved for God alone.

The Children of Israel, after being delivered from the hands of Egypt, turned to worship other gods. This obviously upset God and he declares to them the promise: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29) “Things revealed”, in this case, refers to the revealing of God’s law through Moses.-Some things, God doesn’t want you to know about.

“Do not turn to mediums (this includes Psychics, New Age healers, Spiritualists) or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 19:31)

Here, in the book of Acts, there was a revival in the town of Ephesus, known for their pagan practices. “And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Would have amounted to $37,000 US dollars today.) (Acts 19:17-19)

These are just a few of the MANY Biblical decelerations of what the Bible teaches against the practice of consulting Tarot readers, Psychics or anyone else for that matter other that the LORD for secret things. Don’t take my word for it, look up some of these Scriptures and others yourself.

In addition to the condemnation of the Bible, Christians shouldn’t consult these practices simply because of Spiritual reasons. When you are listening to the advice of a tarot card reader, you in a sense are coming under their control. Your ears are a gate to your spirit, and you are allowing yourself to be opened up to a host of unwelcome spiritual activity, thinking its harmless. (Mark 4:24) Often times, these individuals who practice these arts are legitimately tapping into the spiritual realm on some level. The question is, what spirit are they hearing from? Is it the Holy Spirit or a unclean spirit?

A whole book could be written, and have been, written on this subject and the dangers of Christians involving themselves in certain pagan practices. Sometimes we are simply doing these things unknowingly and without complete understanding, but to knowingly dive into a supernatural place that your Father in heaven wants to protect you from for good reasons, is spiritual suicide.

I would encourage you, that if you are involved in these practices and name yourself among the followers of Jesus, that you break ties immediately with these people. Consider visiting with your pastor or leader to help you unravel yourself from the web of confusion and spiritual bondage that may be causing you health issues, mental or emotional problems and instability. There is power in the name of Jesus and forgiveness for those that turn away from these things and turn toward God in faith to find answers and solutions to the problems and questions we have.




Ministry of Russell Wimberly. Author, Speaker and Church Equipper.