Why the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” is NOT an Islamic State

Guest post by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan with an introduction by Bob Roberts Jr
A friend of mine sent this to me and granted permission to post it on my blog.  Dr. Khan is a scholar, writer, and for the past few decades has been a leader of Muslims in India.  This is written from his perspective, but will help inform you on how Muslim scholars are viewing recent events. With all the confusion and fog in trying to understand ISIS and the current events, I felt it would be useful to share with readers of this blog.

On June 29, 2014, a Sunni self-styled mujahid from Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the establishment of a government and declared himself its caliph. He named it the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS). According to recent media reports, ten Arab countries have agreed to help the United States in its fight against this extremist group. After talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah, these Arab states pledged to provide military support and humanitarian aid and to halt the flow of funds and foreign fighters to the ISIS. Read more


by Bob Roberts Jr

Preachers talk a lot about preaching the “gospel”.  They also make sure when at churches and other conferences they talk a lot about “the gospel” and they preach “the gospel” at their churches and at conferences.  This is good, but God had more in mind than just that, especially when you read Acts and look at the ministry of Paul and the early church.

This is heavy on my mind and heart, because this past year I’ve been to so many places that are not “Christian” nations, or worship centers or areas.  It’s because of global humanitarian work and global interfaith (I like multifaith) events I’ve been invited to speak. I’ve always done this, but this was an exceptional year that allowed me to see patterns and put things in perspective, outside of just moving in a flow I hadn’t thought a huge amount about.  Yet, in those places I’ve been asked to explain what a Christian is, often an evangelical Christian.  It gives me an opportunity with leaders that are not Christians, and opens the door for other forms of media with interviews in print, radio, and television, to talk about Jesus.  Christians are often shocked when they hear I was in country X and there’s a newspaper article, or internet story, or something else where I’m literally explaining the birth, life, death, resurrection of Jesus and what he’s done for me and why I believe it, and why I want to bless all of humanity in the name of Jesus whether they follow him or not.  I’ve actually been invited to teach “Christianity” by non-Christians in nations that are not “Christian” nations in the least, some of which have Christians in jail.  It’s unusual to our Western religious culture, but not to Acts.  Read more


by Bob Roberts Jr.

I’ve always admired those people who put their lives on the line for the Gospel – going to hard places to share the good news of Jesus.  My view has been those people of all people must really know God because they are making a statement with their life.  However, that call to stand up for God regardless is not just for a special few but for all of us.  Most of us in America will never have to make that choice – but for some people, around the world, that choice is made every day.

My heart breaks over what is going on in the Middle-East right now with Christians.  The pain, suffering, and sacrifice that tens of thousands are making for the cause of Jesus is heart breaking.  I believe they should be protected unequivocally.  It’s one thing to invade a nation or to fight wars based on national interest – quite another thing to protect civilian populations from genocide and extinction.  Ultimately, our inaction in Syria on behalf of the civilian population, where now over 200,000 innocents have lost their lives, is one of the key factors leading to the birth of ISIS; even this morning I was sent emails of mass beheadings taking place in Iraq. Read more

D. L. MOODY – A LIFE By Kevin Belmonte

By Bob Roberts

Recently I was at Moody Publishing and Moody Bible Institute and met many people and had some great conversations.  I loved what I saw taking place there.  After reading this biography on Moody, and being reminded of who he was and what he did – I think he’d love the direction Moody Publishing, Radio, and Institute is headed.  While there, the publishing department gave me some books, one was the biography on Moody.  It was really good.  Long enough to give you more than a historical line allowing you to get inside his head and character, but not so long that you get lost and have to fight to stay focused.  I love reading biographies and thought this was one of the best written biographies on anyone I’ve ever read.

Young pastors would do well, and anyone for that matter, to read this biography.  I learned things about Moody that I didn’t know.  Often I will say or write that we must engage our world with a 21st century mentality not an 18th or 19th century mentality – Moody in many ways would be a 21st century faith leader.  Here are some things that really stood out. Read more


Missional or Missional?

Guest post by Scott Venable, Founder & Pastor of Mosaic Church in Chicago

With the majority of evangelicals in the West, especially those 40 and younger, beginning to shift to the missional conversation, if not to the missional strategies, it’s important to take a look at what this means for evangelicals. One of the complications in doing this, however, is that a lot of people are using the term “missional” but they could be talking about different things. While there is still a majority using “missional” and understanding it to be mostly the same thing. At it’s very core “missional” is being on mission with God and His church. That’s a very good thing. Maybe the definition of “missional” isn’t a problem, but, could how we interpret carrying out this mission be the problem?

This “missional” shift in evangelicalism has it’s advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, the shift has allowed many traditional churches to begin moving in a more outward focused direction. On the other hand, I believe the “missional” move is still putting new wine into old wineskins. The overwhelming majority of thought processes, conversations, visions and strategy from the friends and people I know in leadership in the missional movement fully believe that if we can start enough missional communities in every city, this will change our cities and our world. Read more

CONGRATULATIONS DAVID PLATT!!! What would a “radical” Missions organization look like in the 21st century?

By: Bob Roberts, Jr.

I’m so excited David Platt is the new President of the International Mission Board.  No organization has characterized Southern Baptists, kept us on our mission, or is needed more in the world today.  It has long been a part of the psyche of Southern Baptists.  As a boy growing up, my greatest heroes were the missionaries that went around the world to tell the Good News of Jesus.  Even now, Northwood Church has members around the world that work with the IMB.

David Platt<br />(Photo:
David Platt

Just to manage the IMB is a huge undertaking.  But I have no doubt David wasn’t brought there just to manage an institution, but to get RADICAL in the fulfillment of the mission that all nations and peoples hear the Good News of Jesus.  No doubt, he will be pushed even sucked into the minutia of a huge organization and will have to push back at times to keep the vision, focus, and especially the future, not just before his eyes, but in front of his feet to move forward.  I believe there is no more important SBC institution than the IMB and, frankly, that it should define all other SBC institutions.  Having said that, here are some things I would say. Read more


by Bob Roberts, Jr.

I remember the first time I met you – you were in your 20’s and I was in my 30’s.  Our mutual friend Dave Travis introduced us.  We were in that first church planting learning community Leadership Network put together with maybe ten of us.  Bob Buford was a gift to us, not so much in the finances but in bringing us together to learn from one another.  What set us apart were not our networks,  we didn’t have them, but that each of us as pastors were starting churches out of our churches.  I still believe that is superior to any network, denomination or organization and is the only way we will ever see a legitimate movement (for another blog).  Read more


By Bob Roberts Jr

Bob in Iran with a Jewish doctor who is a member of the Iranian Parliament (picture of Ayatollah Khomeini in background)
Bob in Iran with a Jewish doctor who is a member of the Iranian Parliament (picture of Ayatollah Khomeini in background)

People are like money, we put different values on them.  We value our life most, followed by our family, friends, and tribe.  Those people we don’t know or have a relationship with, we don’t value that much, if at all, and are quick to believe anything negative said about them.  It’s true of all of us.  We simply don’t value life equally.  The better we know someone, the more likely we are to have a higher view of them.  Only God looks at all people and loves them the same.  It’s easy to hate a Hitler, a serial killer, or a terrorist and long for their death – it can be said it’s even just.

I support Israel and have ever since I can remember.  I love the Jewish people – as a little boy my teacher moved me from sitting near a little Jewish boy because I tried so hard to convert him.   I can’t help it, it’s my Baptist roots.  We did the same to everyone, Methodists included.  Over time, I came to equally support the Palestinians.  It wasn’t a quick thing.  I grew up knowing no Muslims, Arabs, or people from the Middle East.  When I did see them, they were in the news and not viewed so highly.  But then I came to know them in Afghanistan when our church did some relief work there.  Not the kind of place you would expect to become friends with Muslims, especially if you’re a Baptist pastor from Texas.  But that’s exactly what happened.  I learned of their faith, their geo-political views, how they viewed Christians and especially evangelicals – it wasn’t good.  They had a different view of the Middle East, I sought to correct it as quick as I could (like any good Texan) and that didn’t go over real good.  I’ve always tried to support the Jewish people.  Not long ago I was in Iran and spoke on their behalf.

Read more

Blog: No More Know it All…Show It All

Blog: Guest post by Pastor Kevin Brown, The Perfecting Church, Sewell, New Jersey

The foundation of every faith is its beliefs.  Everybody believes something and most of us can articulate our beliefs well.  With the introduction of the internet and the forms of information-sharing it has birthed, our pulpits, meeting houses and places of worship, are filled with knowledgeable people.  We’ve all encountered people who can discuss doctrine, theology, history, Greek, Hebrew etc…, at astounding levels.

But we have to admit with all that is going on in our country and around the world, belief is simply not enough!  Most of us think belief secures our place in God’s will and we may even spend hours arguing that fact.  But the simple truth is God has never been interested in our beliefs alone.  In actuality, beliefs mean very little.  Everybody has them and all too often they don’t affect the decisions we make and the direction we take in life.

We typically use our beliefs to justify our positions and focus on what others should or shouldn’t do, giving ourselves a false sense of security.  We debate our beliefs, stick our chests out about our beliefs and even invite others to listen to our beliefs, but by and large, the day to day activities of our lives don’t look much different than those who don’t share our beliefs. Read more

Blog: Lessons of local engagement through adoption

Special guest post by Mitch Jolly, Teaching Pastor at Three Rivers Community Church

At our church the pastors are all bi-vocational and while being part of the fabric of our town I began serving as a board member for the Department of Family and Children Services. One challenge we have in our town is that we have 200-300 children from new-born to 18 years old in foster care with roughly 7-10 foster / adoptive homes available. You do the math. There are simply not enough homes for orphans or those that are about to become orphans.

In 2007, Jennifer and I had two boys, spaced 2 years apart. We wanted a third child and began to feel the desire to adopt a child from our town, being part of the solution to our town’s evident need. We began to pray and soon found our desires to adopt matched the sex, age and race of a child in need of adoption. We both wanted a 2 year old, African-American, boy. We wanted a 2 year old because that would make our boys 6, 4 and 2. They would be able to wear hand-me-downs! We wanted a boy, well, because he could wear the already boy stuff we had. Finally, we wanted an African-American child because that was our desire that we believe God put in our hearts.

This story is deeply complex and nuanced and more than can be written in a single blog, but there are 5 lessons we learned from our adoption inside the context of the town we serve that I would  like to share them with you. Read more