Monday, September 18, 2017

With Christian Love for Nabeel Qureshi: A Letter

On September 16, 2017, Nabeel Qureshi went to be with his Lord and Savior after a year long battle with Stage IV stomach cancer. As believers we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thes. 4:13-18), yet still we grieve. We do not grieve for him because he is now in heavenly perfection without pain and without cancer. But we do grieve for his family and all those who have grown to love him whether personally or through his ministry. One of the ways that I cope with grief is to write letters to the deceased. I am fully aware that the dead do not read letters, but it is my way of processing the situation. I wrote a letter to Nabeel and I wanted to share it with all of you. I hope it gives you comfort as it did me and I urge you to join me in the commitment I make at the end.


We first met the summer of 2013. I had heard you speak with my dad before that. My father and I were both very active in the local apologetics events and had enjoyed and learned from your talks at least a couple times already. We had been able to see that your heart was not for making arguments, but for seeing those you love - and “those you love” meaning “everyone you meet” - come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. I already knew this before I first met you. That summer I had the joy of interning with RZIM. One of the highlights of the summer was traveling with many of the itinerant speakers, including you. I got to see your personality, your sense of humor, and especially your love for God and people.

After that trip I had some questions that I felt you in particular would be good at answering. I asked if we could talk over lunch. You joyfully agreed and our conversation was mainly about the doctrine of the trinity. That conversation and No God But One have played a huge role in shaping my theology about the trinity. When people ask me about the trinity, my answers are primarily based on things I learned from you, Nabeel. So, thank you. Before we sat down for lunch I had made up my mind to pay for lunch as a thank you for meeting me. I knew you were a gentleman and would likely not want me to pay for your meal. I talked to the lady behind the counter who gracefully put both our meals on one tab. You were very confused by this act, but I like to think you understood my gratitude behind it. 

Following that summer I got busy with many things college related and then a couple years later got married and moved to Dallas for seminary. One of the side effects of this was I was not able to attend the many apologetics events that I used to attend with my dad. My dad, as you know, continued to attend them. I knew that when my dad would go shake your hand after you talked that he would say “Hi, I’m Leah’s dad!” What I didn’t know until recently is that after a while you would take the initiative and say “Hey! You’re Leah’s dad!” Those exchanges brought him great joy and bring me joy too in thinking of them. You should know that even though we haven’t spoken face to face in years, I still refer to you as “my friend.” Thank you for the loving attention you gave every single person you met. I’m sure I speak for many people when I call you “friend.” 

I think I may be rambling at this point because there’s much I wish to tell you, but I’ll get to the point. Nabeel, you lived a mere 34 years on this earth. From my perspective it seems terribly unfair that your ministry and fatherhood were cut so short. With all my theological and apologetics training, I can’t give a reason for why you were taken this soon. Instead I cling to what I know. First, I know that God is good. Second, I know that sin is a terrible curse on this world that ends in death for us all. Yet since I know that God is good, I can rest assured that he can work through even the curse of sin to bring about his good purposes. Third, I know God used you in great and mighty ways. People have come to faith and others faith have been strengthened because of God’s work through your ministry. Fourth, I know that you are no longer suffering. You suffered greatly this past year. I am grateful that you are resting in the peace and healing of Jesus Christ as I write this letter. Fifth, I know that God is a good father. This means that he is your father and he is Ayah’s father. I know you didn’t want to leave your wife and sweet little girl. She will know that she was so deeply loved by her earthly father, and she will surely grow up with God as her perfect father. 

As I wrap up this letter I want to make a commitment to you. I commit to pray for your family. I will pray your wife, daughter, parents, and sister for comfort in this time, and I will pray that your Muslim family, especially your parents and sister, will come to faith in Jesus Christ. That is my commitment to you now.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26. 

Farewell, brother.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kids and Apologetics

"Did you hear about that guy that shot people and then they bombed him [in Dallas]? Why do people do these things? Can Jesus do anything about it?"

"How is Jesus God? But He's God Son? But He's God? What?"

"What does it mean to be saved? Like, how does it work?"

"How do I know I'm really saved? I know I'm doing okay now, but what if I really mess up someday and do something wrong? Will I go to hell?"

These are questions I have been asked by children under the age of 10. I will not seek to answer these questions now, but I pose them to challenge you to think more deeply about your children - whether your own family or your church family - and the curriculum and spiritual nourishment you are giving them. Our kids have questions. Are we giving them solid theologically sound answers?

I recently wrote a research paper about the importance of apologetics training for children and youth. I will be posting parts of this paper over the next number of weeks as well as interviews I conducted as part of my research. We will learn that teenagers are leaving their faith and what we can do about it, what is appropriate material for the varying age groups between children and youth, the role of parents and the church in the nurture of children and youth, and a case study of a church who is incorporating apologetics into their regular children's ministry programs.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Seminary and Ministry

As I write this I am four weeks into my ThM studies. I have learned the skill of observation n hermeneutics, a few  ton of Greek words and grammar, theological concepts, and things about God that simply put me in awe of the greatness of God. I have met godly seminary students who I hope to continue to get to know and befriend. I have begun to get used to this new home and city. I have learned that a Masters degree in theology is a million worlds apart from a Bachelors degree in math.

I began to realize in the past few days that though all of those things are wonderful and I am so grateful to be here, something is missing. Ministry. People besides seminary students. I am learning so much, but that does not keep me from beginning ministry and I strongly believe this is a must. I intend to begin through this blog by writing about my academic studies as well as what God is teaching me through the classes. While this will help me to reflect and further understand what I am learning, I hope it also will minister to you. I hope God will use this to help you learn more about Him through the reading as you vicariously attend seminary through me.

I am going to try to blog throughout the semester. Feel free to discuss with me about any topic of the faith you find here or otherwise (whether you agree or disagree). I love talking to people and I hope you are blessed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Little Personal History

Today I want to give you a little personal history on myself and where my thoughts and plans are right now. This will be an autobiography of sorts about my time surrounding apologetics and my views on how it relates to mathematics.

I was first introduced to the concept of Christian Apologetics by my father at a young age when we would go out and look at the stars. I just didn't know such a topic had a name. My 5 year old self would stare up at the stars and be amazed at the multitude. Sometimes he would pull out the telescope and we would look at certain stars, planets, and with the right eye protection on the telescope, we would even look at the sun. I always remember talking about matters of faith with my father. It has always been a favorite and frequent topic of ours. (Some might say that my upbringing is the only reason I believe what I believe. It might be a reason, but I assure you it is not the main reason.)

As I grew up, I learned the concept had a name in one my Bible courses at my private Christian high school. During my junior year, I took an independent study of apologetics course. The logic, order, and reason in the universe has always made sense to me and finding a specific subject dealing with just this was fascinating. I was hooked. I read books such as "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler, "A Case for Faith" by Lee Strobel, and many articles from the Apologetics Bible

Upon graduating from high school I wanted to be a math teacher or go into ministry as a preacher. (The dream has changed some with time.) Either way, I knew I wanted to major in math. I had been told by some preachers to major in something besides religion if you are planning on going to seminary. The reason being since you will get the theological training in seminary, you do not necessarily need it for undergrad.

Beyond that, I just love math.

I love the order and the reason and solidity behind it. Throughout my freshman year I continued to independently study apologetics and one day walking across campus I had a realization: I want to be an apologist. I still do not quite know what that will entail, but I had a dream.

Math fit into that dream perfectly. 
The summer of 2013 I had the incredible opportunity of interning at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). I was able to learn from the RZIM team, study, and even give a short devotional to staff during chapel. I was able to travel to a conference, and go on a speaking engagement with Dr. Ravi Zacharias himself. I have continued to personally study and go to conferences since this summer. It kickstarted a learning experience which continues still today.

Now, many ask why I am majoring in math if I am planning on going into apologetics and vocation ministry. You see, I believe the two go hand in hand. By the way I see the world, the two are tied together. The things I study in math describe the order in the universe
, which I believe an intelligent God put into existence.

The strong Christian professors in my college's math department have done nothing but encourage this idea and encourage me. They have been a wonderful support team. Someday I hope to use math, my experience in writing and editing for the school newspaper, and my love for God, people, and apologetics to be able to minister to others. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


What an action-packed day.  Unlike the previous days, I am not going to give a detailed map of the day. If you want one, contact me. I will send it to you when I am more awake.

Today I have sat under brilliant teachers, discussed some of the hardest issues of our day and how we can point to Jesus in them, and I finally heard Ravi Zacharias speak for the first time. I also had the honor of speaking to him and shaking his hand afterwards.  I realize that Dr. Zacharias is human as we all are, but you can sense the powerful and authoritative power of Jesus in this brilliant, yet humble, man when you meet him and hear him speak.

Our theme as been Light in the darkness. Every conversation you have about apologetics, or maybe every conversation in general, should point back to Jesus Christ.  It is about Him. It is not about winning an argument. It is not about showing off what you know. Point your friend, enemy, or whoever you are talking with to Christ. Know the Holy Spirit is the one who saves, but be the instrument God is leading you to be. Follow his lead and instruction. Always point to Him.

"The bad apologist addresses the question.  The good apologist addresses the questioner."
- Ravi Zacharias

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

RZIM SI Day 3 Part 2

This is a continuation of the post I published earlier today about my experience at RZIM Summer Institute.

After lunch, I went to the break out elective session led by Stuart McAllister entited "Conversational Apologetics: Practical Apologetics."  We talked about the different definitions and connotations of apologetics.  Negative connotations being defensiveness, which is necessary at time, while positive connotations being simply giving a reason for faith. He spelled out for us the ways in which to engage in apologetics and evangelism in conversations.

Afterwards, Lyle Dorsett took us on a journey with C.S. Lewis.  He describe Lewis' range of influence, how God used his life before conversion to reach people, and how humble Lewis was. Dorsett was a deep and riveting teacher.  He made Lewis' influence clear, but even more so showed how this influence was really only by God's guiding hand.  "C.S. Lewis' influence was wide because he was deep in the Lord," he said.

We closed the day with a showing of Amazing Grace which is the story of the abolition of slaves in England.  It is a powerful story of struggle, reliance on God, fellowship, perseverance, and victory for what is true and right.  It is a wonderful example and testimony on how to persevere under trial.

That wraps up day three!

RZIM SI Day 3 Part 1

Yesterday as I hashed through everything I had learned I discovered it was difficult to sort through it all. Simply blogging about it was exhausting. So, I am going to start breaking this up.  During our lunch break I will recap the morning, and in the evening I will recap the afternoon.

We began our day, again, with worship. Immediately following, Margaret Manning led us in a discussion of John 4 where Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman. She presented something about this story I had never thought of or heard before. In the Jewish culture, women had no right to divorce. Only a man could initiate divorce.  Additionally, a woman's identity was completely wrapped up in a man, whether that be a husband or son. So, this Samaritan woman had been, if you read the story, rejected five times. Can you imagine that pain? Not only do you have no identity, but the ones who can give you identity have accepted and soon rejected you time after time. So why live with a man she is not married to now? Well, it is better than being alone.  How incredible is that. Jesus used this outcast and total reject to reach into the hearts of the Samaritan people. There are so many other wonderful things Manning mentioned that I want to share, but for the sake of time and space I will not for now. 

Next, Cameron McAllister spoke on Dorothy Sayers. She was a brilliant author who combined genres such as science fiction and mystery with theology.  She held that the dogma of the Christian faith is beautiful and an incredible story.  In fact, she is noted for saying, "the dogma is the drama". He continued with information about Sayers life and how God used her dramatic and unique perspective to show how dogma and creeds are applicable to everyday life.

Following a short break, we broke into different sessions. As I mentioned yesterday, I am on the University track.  There we discussed the challenged that Christians face in the University setting. Sitting next to me was a young man from Belgium.  In his University back home, they mock and ridicule Christians and their faith.  His struggle is understanding how he and his church can be a witness there in Europe.  We had a wonderful discussion and I know God is going to do great things with him back home. 

That is it so far! I will update again later.