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2009 Issue 2

[W]e [Christians] know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true; in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:20-21).

Should any Muslims read this essay I would first express my appreciation to them for doing so, and I want them to know that I love them. I assure them that I have no personal animosity toward them as individuals. Rather, it is because I care very deeply for the Muslim world that I wrote this article. Second, I would respectfully urge them to examine the Qur’an and Christian theology and history to see if what I write here is true. And I would respectfully plead with them to read carefully, thoughtfully, and attentively. And to all professing Christians who read this article I would say that just because they profess to be Christians is no guarantee in itself that they are genuine Christians whose sins are forgiven and who are on their way to Heaven. So they as well should read carefully, thoughtfully, and attentively what I write here.

I’ve long been a manic observer and classifier of how success and failure come to pass. In every action I take, I try to ask myself, “Am I behaving like so-and-so who went into bankruptcy?” or “Am I behaving like my dad, who had a gift for avoiding the pitfalls that leave men and women in desperation?”

Or, to put it another way, when I was a child, we lived in a neighborhood with people who had fancier cars than we did, played at elegant country clubs, and thought nothing of laying down a handful of bills on a horse. They all wound up broke. I try not to do anything in the way that they did. I have friends here in Hollywood who made excellent incomes for decades and now can’t afford to take a vacation. I try to avoid doing which they did, too. Instead, I try to put myself in the mold of the people who wake up each day knowing that they can pay their bills not just for this day, but for a decade, without worrying too much about where the next dollar is going to come from.

Mark sat in his office with his head in his hands. “How had Mary found out?” That was the question plaguing his mind that afternoon. It started out innocent enough, but somehow the relationship with his attractive secretary, Susan, had gotten out of control, and now his wife had found out! “What if the kids have found out? Or the Pastor and the people at church!” Mark felt trapped. He felt like he was drowning; what was he going to do?

The telephone rang. “Hello, this is Mark.” Mark swallowed hard when he heard Pastor Bob’s voice on the other end of the line. He couldn’t believe it! Mary had called their pastor asking what she should do if she knew a professing Christian was caught in sin. Now the pastor was calling to ask if he could meet with the two of them to discuss Mary’s question! What was going on? Mark thought. Pastor Bob hadn’t said anything specific. How much had Mary told him? “Well, sure...ah....Okay, tonight at 7:30 would be fine. We will be expecting you.”