David's Blog

Prayer changes things

“Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing it changes is us. As we engage in this communion with God more deeply and come to know the One with whom we are speaking more intimately, that growing knowledge of God reveals to us all the more brilliantly who we are and our need to change in conformity to Him. Prayer changes us profoundly.” (RC Sproul)

A reminder of our dependence

Here is a great devotional from John Piper from his daily Solid Joys - it was originally published here - Solid Joys under the title:  'We can do nothing'

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5)
Suppose you are totally paralyzed and can do nothing for yourself but talk. And suppose a strong and reliable friend promised to live with you and do whatever you needed done. How could you glorify this friend if a stranger came to see you?
Would you glorify his generosity and strength by trying to get out of bed and carry him? No! You would say, “Friend, please come lift me up, and would you put a pillow behind me so I can look at my guest? And would you please put my glasses on for me?”
And so your visitor would learn from your requests that you are helpless and that your friend is strong and kind. You glorify your friend by needing him, and by asking him for help, and counting on him.
In John 15:5, Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” So we really are paralyzed. Without Christ, we are capable of no Christ-exalting good. As Paul says in Romans 7:18, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.”
But John 15:5 also says that God does intend for us to do much Christ-exalting good, namely bear fruit: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” So as our strong and reliable friend — “I have called you friends” (John 15:15) — he promises to do for us, and through us, what we can’t do for ourselves.
How then do we glorify him? Jesus gives the answer in John 15:7: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” We pray! We ask God to do for us through Christ what we can’t do for ourselves — bear fruit.
John 15:8 gives the result: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.”
So how is God glorified by prayer? Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that he will provide the help we need.

Nabeel Qureshi - why he resonated with so many

Nabeel Qureshi was brought up in a loving Muslim family but came to faith in Jesus and spent much of his life thereafter seeking to commend Christ to others. Last Saturday (16th September) he died of stomach cancer aged 34. Ravi Zacharias was asked to write something about him for the Washington Post - his words are printed below or can be found in the original article here: Nabeel Qureshi If you would like some further information on his life you can find it here

Why this Muslim-turned-Christian speaker resonated with so many before his death at 34

By Ravi Zacharias
The Washington Post
"The first time I saw him, he sat at a table across from me, one of his legs constantly moving almost subconsciously, as though he was warming up for a run. It was a habit of his restless disposition to stand and gallop. I asked if we could talk about his mission in life. He joined me in the back seat of the car, that leg still moving.
That was Nabeel Qureshi. He hated sitting still. He was a man with a mission, ready to run. Sadly, for us, he died Saturday at a young age of 34 after a year of battling stomach cancer. Nabeel, who was raised in a Muslim-American family and converted to Christianity after a fellow college student sparked his interest in Christianity, worked with me in Christian apologetics.
The field of apologetics deals with the hard questions posed to the Christian faith. Each of us has a worldview, whether we recognize it or not. A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Christian apologetics is the discipline of answering people’s specific questions and making the truth claims clear. We aim to engage people in meaningful interactions with gentleness and respect, bearing in mind that behind every question is a questioner.
Because Islam is so much in the sights of the world right now, an articulate and attractive personality like Nabeel was often given a fair hearing. He was also a medical doctor and well studied in theology and philosophy, academic credentials that earned him respect. He was well versed in the faith in which he was raised.
Nabeel held dear the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and carried the message of salvation. He said that for years as a young man, he labored and struggled to gain “righteousness before God” only to find out that righteousness was already found in the cross through Jesus. That was his message in his best-selling book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.”
His grandparents were Muslim missionaries in Indonesia. His conversion to Christianity took place after he seriously examined the historicity of the gospels and the unique claims of Jesus. The conversion was very hard on his family and probably the greatest heartache he carried because he loved them.
Yes, his conversion stirred many questions, but his gracious and clear responses touched many in the Islamic world. He met numerous people who had read his book and made their own journeys to faith in Jesus. It also hurt him deeply when Muslims were painted with a violent brush, something he believed was false and wrong-headed.
He was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic. He desired to cover the globe with that good news: that God’s forgiveness was available to all. When he spoke, he held audiences captive.
I lead a ministry called RZIM, which began in 1984 and has a full-time team of more than 70 speakers from numerous cultural backgrounds in 15 countries and on every continent. We speak to artists, academics, business and political leaders, addressing the questions of origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Our goal is to present the answers of Jesus in cogent and intellectually persuasive ways to bridge the head to the heart.
I invited Qureshi to join our team four and a half years ago. He reached tens of thousands in live audiences, but his books reached even more people. He was a powerful speaker and debater.
I tear up as I think of the meal we had a little over a year ago. Nabeel was a man with a daunting appetite. I used to joke in his presence, “Don’t get behind him in a buffet line; there will be nothing left.” He would chuckle. He could make a big meal look like an appetizer. So I noticed that he was just nibbling away at his food.
I said, “Nabeel, are you not going to eat?”
He said, “Uncle, I have been having some strange sensations in my stomach.”
I asked how long that had been going on, and he said it had been a few weeks. I urged him to have it checked out. He said he was planning on it.
The rest is history. A doctor diagnosed stomach cancer — probably stage 4. We were all stunned. Within a few months, the writing was on the wall.
In May, he asked me to do one more trip.
We went to Malaysia. Even though his body was weak, his passion was undiminished. His answers to people’s questions about God and Jesus were profound and persuasive. It’s hard to believe that Nabeel Qureshi has left us all too soon. I am reminded that he died the same age as Jesus was when his mission was accomplished.
“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him,” so said the apostle Paul. We believe that Nabeel is now in heaven. He told me how painful it was to leave his wife, Michelle, and his young daughter, Ayah. But his pain is now over. I do not mourn for him.
I mourn for our broken world, where so much hate and destruction abounds. We have a cancer called sin. The disease that kills the body is minor, but the disease that kills the soul is eternal. Nabeel would want more than anything else that we carry the message of Jesus to help change the world. Only then can we understand that the sad news of Nabeel’s death is temporary.
The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said it well.
Life is real! life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul."
Copyright © 2017 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, All rights reserved. 

Prayer from India

There has been an upsurge in recent times in the antagonism towards Christians in parts of India. Here is a a prayer expressed by Christians out of that context. I came across it at The Park Forum about which you can find more here:  The Park Forum

Prayer from India :: Worldwide Prayers
Our loving Father,

Thank you for releasing us from the bondage of sin by the shedding of the blood of your Son, Jesus, on that rugged Cross of Calvary.

Thank you for choosing us; for allowing us to serve you; for the privilege of bearing a cross and following you.

Daily we face shame, pain, blame, loneliness, and even exhaustion. But we believe that always you are present sharing our load and helping us bear our cross. Even when life seems to be at its worst we never despair because we live for you and your Son died for us.

Your Word tells us that we may need to suffer trials of many kinds and we should be glad for this will prove our faith is genuine. Lord we are here for you. We will lay down our lives if this will glorify your Name.

Lord use your people to spread the joy of your Kingdom.

In Jesus’ precious name.

Jonah - helpful spoken & visual overview of the book

If you want to get a grasp of what the book of Jonah is about here is a helpful summary produced by the Bible Project:
Jonah - Bible project

The tempter and the accuser

In the Lord's prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to pray 'deliver us from evil' or in some translations 'deliver us from the evil one'. Here's a helpful article from Emma Scrivener on the subtle & malevolent work of the evil one in the life of the Christian. It's entitled 'Satan has a forked tongue' and can be found by clicking here

Encouragement for those contending with pain and trials of various kinds

For anyone contending with pain and trials of various here is encouragement as Joni Eareckson reflects on 50 years since a diving accident when she was aged 17 left her as a quadriplegic* and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. You can read the article here Reflections on 50th anniversary of my diving accident

*quadriplegic: one affected with partial or complete paralysis of both the arms and legs especially as a result of spinal cord injury or disease in the region of the neck (Merriam- Webster Online Dictionary)

What happened at Dunkirk

Many of you will know that Christopher Nolan's film 'Dunkirk' has been drawing large audiences and much praise and it is an excellent & gripping film - well worth seeing. But here is a reminder from Mark Greene of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity that it doesn't quite tell the whole story. Dunkirk and the God of history

How should Christians respond to the transgender issue

Here is a helpful article by Dr Peter Saunders on this subject which is attracting so much attention in our day. You can find the article here How should Christians respond to the transgender issue

Abortion: from controversy to civility

The subject of abortion is never easy to talk about in public but I was directed towards what is I think an excellent example of someone seeking to present a pro-life view in a manner that is engaging and sensitive and addresses the many questions - often painful and personal questions - that this whole subject evokes. Stephanie Gray is a Pro-life activist and international speaker, who for many years worked as Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical reform and more recently has established her own ministry, Love unleashes life. I noticed on the home page of her own website (http://www.stephaniegray.info/) she has the words of Dr Martin Luther King 'Whom you would change, you must first love and they must know that you love them.' She was recently asked to give a talk on the subject of abortion to the staff at Google and did so under the title Abortion:from controversy to civility. You can listen to it here Stephanie Gray speaking at Google
 It's lengthy but well worth listening to.
  • Gatherings