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“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” should be required reading for Christians


"Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A devout Muslim encounters Christianity" by Nabeel Qureshi Amazon U.S. | Amazon Canada

“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A devout Muslim encounters Christianity” by Nabeel Qureshi
Amazon U.S. | Amazon Canada

I first discovered Nabeel Qureshi through Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, especially RZIM’s YouTube channel. Hearing several talks and Q&A’s with Dr. Qureshi, I couldn’t help but be moved by his testimony, not to mention his rather contagious passion for the defense of the Christian message. Given that I found myself listening to some of his talks more than once, I figured I should get more acquainted with his story through his spiritual memoir, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

I found this book insightful, gripping, and inspiring, and I believe it should be required reading for Christians for a number of reasons… Western Christians and Muslims don’t understand one another very well. Qureshi begins to bridge the gap by drawing western Christians’ attention to our reputation in the Muslim community and translates the latter’s culture, behaviors, and assumptions to help believers better understand and relate to our Muslim neighbors.

Secondly, his story highlights the embarrassing consequences of encounters between unbelievers who are surprisingly well-informed and Christians who are depressingly uneducated about our own faith and, therefore, unable to answer questions and critiques. The author’s experience should be a lesson to us about the far-reaching impact of our decision whether or not to educate ourselves about our beliefs.

Thirdly, Qureshi’s journey is an example to Christians of what it means to love God with all our mind. I’ve heard people say that working through foundational questions of faith is a waste of time…”no point in reinventing the wheel.” But then I think about Qureshi and other authors like him, and it makes sense. If faith is supposed to be personal, then it has to make sense on a personal level… “All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There’s more to love about this book as well… I’ve shared a similar emotional struggle while examining my Christian beliefs, so I was on the edge of my seat with each question the author set out to answer. I was also moved by the tender memories he shared about his childhood and relationships with his parents. I laughed along with him and his college friend through their hilarious exchanges. And (*spoiler alert*) I was admittedly rather jealous, but ultimately delighted that he had incredible opportunity to dialogue face-to-face with Gary Habermas!

These are just a few reasons I recommend Qureshi’s book. Read more reviews or pick up your own copy of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.


How to be a better Good Samaritan


Photo by Ruths138

Photo by Ruths138

What happens when we pass by someone who needs our help?

Several years ago, when my Dad was in the early stages of dementia, he lost most of his Christian friends. The reason was simple: They were too uncomfortable with his symptoms to be a friend to him during his life’s biggest, darkest, and final struggle.

So I contacted everyone I could think of at his church, and couldn’t believe the excuses they gave for keeping their distance–leaders included. As one of them so eloquently stated, “I’m not going to babysit.” A handful of people tried to help, but most of those same people also defended the excuses we were hearing.

We eventually found a long-term friend for Dad and regular, ongoing emotional/spiritual support for my parents from two other churches in town. Finally, we had found Christians who wanted to treat Dad with dignity, and be the hands and feet of Jesus in our lives! Then, amazingly, near the end of Dad’s time at home before moving to a nursing home, three people from his original church kindly came alongside him.

I share this so the other side of the story can be heard. And here’s the thing all Good Samaritans seem to know: When we fail to obey God’s command to love our neighbor, our sin isn’t just between us and God.

Our faith, like western society, is terribly individualistic. So please humor me as I repeat: When we fail to love our neighbor, our sin isn’t just between us and God.

What happens when we pass by someone who needs our help? What’s it like for those people? We shield ourselves from those thoughts. It’s too uncomfortable, too convicting to realize that our sin has tangible, painful, and sometimes disastrous consequences for the people we overlook.

I wish Dad hadn’t spent the last years of his life aching for the sense of community that should’ve embraced him all along, and believe me, this is a lesson my family will never forget.

Sometimes we have only one chance to be a light in someone’s life, and sometimes we might be the only one to notice that person’s suffering. If we pass them by, the consequences are permanent.

So let us rethink the story of the good Samaritan and our own role in that story. When we cross paths with someone lonely or in need, let’s resolve to treat our opportunity with the gravity and careful thought it deserves.

Let’s start recognizing the difference between our excuses and legitimate reasons for not being able to help. When we’re being honest with ourselves, if we realize that we really can help, then let’s roll up our sleeves and enjoy the surprises and blessings God has in store for us along the way.


Wounded by God’s People: Being Understood


Wounded By God's People, by Anne Graham Lotz

Wounded By God’s People, by Anne Graham Lotz

All of us know what it feels like to be on the periphery. My husband and I suddenly found ourselves on the “outside” after we had been profoundly rejected by our church. Though it happened many years ago, the painful memory still lingers. – from “Wounded by God’s People” by Anne Graham Lotz

When I began reading “Wounded by God’s People” I initially hoped to hear about the way other present-day Christians had experienced and dealt with wounds like mine.

However, when the book delved into the introductory overview of Hagar’s story in the Old Testament, I wondered if the book would take me on a less personal, more devotional-style journey through the topic of rejection and healing.

And I have to admit, I felt a bit disappointed, as my own painful encounter with fellow Christians has left me hungry to know that others understand what it’s like to suffer from my particular kind of church-inflicted wound.

But as soon as I read the first paragraph of chapter one (quoted above), I knew the author had anticipated my need as a wounded reader. When I’m hurting, I’ve found, something inexplicably healing takes place when someone exposes the story of their own similar pain with me.

In the paragraphs after her opening, Anne Graham Lotz proves that she speaks from experience, and describes the extent of her and her husband’s rejection from their church, as well as their shock and sense of alienation.

Her wounds are real, I realized. And they go deep. As does her understanding of the often devastating, lonely, and confusing experience of dealing with the aftermath of a Christian-against-Christian offense.

I realize I don’t need to deal with another dry, impersonal lesson about my situation, like the kind I’ve heard from well-meaning yet un-empathetic friends and family who are tired of–and possibly a bit annoyed by–my attempts at working through the wounds I suffered.

In Anne Graham Lotz, I’ve found a sort of mentor, someone who’s willing to rock the proverbial boat by publicly discussing her conflicts with church people, and be transparent about the pain it caused her, so that I and readers like me can be certain that she knows–really knows–what she’s talking about.

God doesn’t promise to erase the sting of our injury. Even an act of forgiveness won’t necessarily extinguish the ache that persists, sometimes years after the fact.

Yet some individuals in my life have hinted that by forgiving my offenders, I should be able to move on as if nothing happened. Well, forgiveness and love have certainly drawn me closer to many of the people who were involved, and yet the pain lingers. In relating her own difficult journey, Lotz lets us know that experiences like this are normal.

So I’m looking forward to the rest of “Wounded by God’s People,” and I’ll be writing about it here along the way. Meanwhile, if you’ve been wounded by people calling themselves Christians, why not give this book a try.

What about you?
If you’ve been hurt by a fellow Christian, how have you been impacted by finding (or not finding) someone who understands and empathizes with your pain?


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