My church, Colonial Baptist Church, in conjunction with Shepherds Theological Seminary (which I am attending), recently concluded their first annual national church leaders’ conference. The theme was, “Christ and our changing culture,” and the speakers included names such as Al Mohler, Gene Getz, Erwin Lutzer, Rick Holland, Greg Gilbert, and Stephen Davey. An excerpt of the website description reads:
We live in what may be one of the most challenging cultural contexts experienced by God’s people. Frankly, our culture isn’t so much post-modern anymore as it is pre-Christian. And as our pre-Christian culture sheds any remnants of Judeo-Christian roots, the role of the pastor is becoming increasingly challenging… How do we serve and lead in such a culture, braving the effects of a growing marginalization and antipathy?… Some leaders will choose not to think too seriously about culture—assuming all is well; others will attempt to evade their culture and try to stay out of harms way; still others will attempt to embrace culture and thus forfeit the distinctives of the gospel.
Dr. Lutzer has been the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago since 1980. During his general session on Tuesday evening, he gave a fantastic message on Daniel chapter 3, and gave a call to Christians to be willing to stand alone, and if necessary, to face persecution in order to obey and serve God no matter what. His outline was as follows:
1) “Persecution should be expected.”
2) “We must learn to stand alone.”
3) “We must fear God more than we fear the furnace.”
4) “Things are not what they appear to be.”
5) “The fire that purifies us is also the fire that sets us free.”
6) “It’s not necessary to have ‘freedom of religion’ to be faithful to God.”
“Waves do not break through the rock, but the waves of suffering are dissolved in foam because of the greatness of our Rock!”
“Blessed are those who are at home with the unpredictability of God.”
“Shakethebed, makethebed, and intobedyougo” (best spin on the names of Daniel’s 3 friends I’ve ever heard:)
Dr. Lutzer also referenced Chrysostom’s final sermon that he gave before his exile. I looked it up, and it’s certainly worth the read!
I also attended Dr. Lutzer’s workshop session during the day (and had the privilege of speaking with him for a few minutes afterward). The first ten minutes were full of some of the most hilarious jokes I’ve ever heard. Then, as he was getting ready to dive into his topic, Dr. Lutzer commented that he didn’t have much time, so he would have to rush a little, and that it might be like the politician who, upon leaving a press conference, whispered to his assistant, “I hope in all the excitement, I didn’t make myself clear about anything.”
Dr. Lutzer’s message, entitled, “The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent – Islam’s Challenge to the American Church,” was outstanding, and explored the difficulty of the modern church in responding to Islam in today’s culture. Dr. Lutzer gave some staggering statistics and information regarding the nature of Islam as well as the antipathy Islam has for Christianity.
87% of the mosques in America hand out Jihadist literature. However, ultimately, we cannot judge Islam based on Americanized Muslims. Many people talk about Muslims being peaceful and kind, and how Islam is a religion of peace, and no threat to Christianity or America at all, and people appeal to the friendly Muslims they met in the mall the other day. Dr. Lutzer made the point that we cannot understand Islam based on our Westernized, Americanized Muslim neighbors; to understand real Islam, we have to look to Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.
Did you know that a Muslim is not supposed to pray in the presence of a cross? Why do you think Muslims seek to destroy crosses? Many people (including Muslims) claim that the reason Islam hates the cross so much is because of the Crusades (ah, the much misunderstood crusades–get your presuppositions shaken, your sensitivities perhaps offended, but become much more informed over here at the Credo House); however, Dr. Lutzer pointed out that Muslims have always sought to destroy the sign of the cross wherever they find it. Islam came into existence with a rabid hatred for Christ and Christianity, and remains in an adamant stance of opposition to Christ and anything or anyone that represents or serves Him.
He spoke of a woman he met whose son works in D.C. with the highest security clearance, and he said that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated every level of government. Most people view the Muslim Brotherhood as completely harmless (our beloved president has made sure of that), however, in 2004, the FBI uncovered some of the Muslim Brotherhood’s plans for America (14 pages of it), and it much of its sentiment are expressed openly by Muslims, such as on the sign in Detroit that read, “We will use the freedoms of the constitution to destroy the constitution.” Does that sound familiar? Well, as Dr Lutzer said, “The Left and Islam are in cahoots.”
Dr. Lutzer also told of a Muslim cab driver he spoke to once, who said that although he knows he shouldn’t, he has done many wicked things, and so he knows he will go to hell when he dies. But then, after a very long time, he may be able to pay for his sins, and then perhaps will be able to get into paradise. Dr. Lutzer has had this conversation with many other Muslims as well, and it clearly shows Islam’s teachings on salvation — if your good deeds out weigh your bad deeds by the time you die, there may be a chance you will get to paradise, if Allah is merciful. But if your bad deeds outweigh your good deeds, you will surely go to hell, and there is no assurance whatsoever you will ever be able to pay for your sins. The only way to be sure you will make it to paradise, is to die in Jihad. The Quran, by the way, demands that Jihad be waged until there are no more unbelievers, and “religion is all for Allah” (Sura 8:39, 9:29, 9:73, and many others).
“Islam can destroy crosses, but they can never defeat Christ’s work on the cross.
“Faithfulness to Christ requires an acceptance of persecution.”
“The crescent cannot destroy the cross.”
Dr. Luzer’s general session and his workshop session were two of my favorite sessions I attended at the conference. His humor and his powerful messages alone made the conference worth attending. I look forward to finding and listening to more of his messages whenever I get the chance, and encourage you to do the same!