Monday, June 20, 2016

Contend, O Lord, With Those Who Contend With Me

In reading Margery Kempe, a 14th C mystic, I was reminded of a verse that I have found alarming in the past. The Psalmist prays, “Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me” [Psalm 35:1]! In her prayer Margery asks the Lord not to punish those who contend with her. Several churches ago, in another state, I was in a church that was under severe stress, and as the parish priest I was targeted by those who needed a target. Like Margery I prayed, “Do not contend with them on my account!” Sometimes in our prayers we love to tell God what to do, and sometimes what not to do. There are times that the Lord tells us to butt out and let us do what he needs to do for sake of his Kingdom.

An older woman in the congregation, a Margery Kempe in her own right, called on me one day at the rectory. She was very hesitant and humble but finally told me that the Lord had given her a word for me. Usually my response to that is, “Then pray for me that the Lord will give it to me himself.” But her hesitancy and humility moved me, and I told her to go ahead. She said, “The Lord will contend with those who contend with you.” I tucked that away in the lumber room of my mind and went about my business. A couple of weeks later I was at a Woman’s Aglow Meeting and another pastor asked if he might pray for me. He prayed, “The Lord will contend with those who contend with you.” Shortly thereafter the central vocal opponent to the Kingdom had a massive heart attack and I apart from the paramedics I was the only person present at his death. As he died I prayed the Office for Ministration at the Time of Death for him, “Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light” [BCP p. 465]. 

I have a point in sharing this. When the Lord speaks to you, zip the lip; sometimes it’s not about you but about the Kingdom and the salvation of others. Pray the Palms and stop telling the Lord how to answer your prayers. The Lord is God, you are not.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Islam: The Coming Storm

Over several trips to Uganda we had noticed a growing presence of Islam.  On our last short term mission trip to the Diocese of Kinkiizi we led two conferences; one for the clergy and one for the lay pastors.  Our theme was the doctrine of the Trinity and how we relate to the three Persons of the Trinity in our lives and experience.  Preparing the basic outline for the course I had no idea of its relevance to the spread of Islam in Uganda.

We westerners are na├»ve about the doctrines, teaching, and customs of Islam.  Inscribed around the inside of the dome of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem in Arabic is the following exhortation directed to the People of the Book, to Jews and Christians, “O People of the Book! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning God save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His Word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and say not 'Three' - Cease! (it is) better for you! - God is only One God. Far be it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son. ... Whoso disbelieveth the revelations of God (will find that) lo! God is swift at reckoning!”

Islam is in militant opposition to the doctrine of the Trinity, and to the Incarnation of the Son of God.  Did you know that lying is permissible in Islam?  That is known as Taqiyya.  The Quran says that a man may lie to his wife to please her, or he may lie to spread Islam.  Unfortunately Muslims will lie about the history and traditions of Islam and their intention to spread Islam throughout the world. Jihad is their equivalent of evangelism, and will include violence as well as other means.  

As part of the Muslim outreach Idi Amin started the building of a huge Mosque in the middle of Kampala.  It is known as the Gaddafi Mosque because Muammar al-Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator provided the funds for its completion.  They broadcast their prayers on loud speakers from their mosques and believe that wherever the sound of their prayer is heard belongs to Islam.

The position of women in Islam is degrading.  Muhammad had twelve wives, one of them was nine when the marriage was consummated.  Islam now allows for four wives, including child wives.  A woman is property, and has fewer rights than a man.  In some Muslim communities, men can marry, even for an hour, a prostitute, then divorce her.  That is not considered adultery.   

Islam buys and lies its way as is spreads its doctrine and Sharia law. As Sharia law spreads, persecution of Christians spread.  There are numerous accounts of persecution from Northern Nigeria and other places.  We are already seeing the effects in the United States in cities like Detroit where many of the taxi drivers are Muslim and a single woman may have to wait for a non-Muslim driver in order to get a ride.

Uganda, like other places in Africa, is a spiritual battleground; and it is coming our way.  America with its dry as dust religion may well go up in flames as it comes our way.  In Uganda Islam encounters an intensely personal faith and there are many instances of people won to Christian faith through dreams, visions, and people hearing the voice of God; but what of us with our pseudo-sophistication and cultural humanism?

The best media news available in Uganda is Al Jazeera.  Al Jazeera’s coverage of world events is much more comprehensive than our American media news, but it comes at a price.  That price is an undercurrent, not of anti-Americanism, so much as anti-Christianity.  The problem that Islam has with Christianity is simply that we believe in the Trinity, and that we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.