Christianity

The Religion of Freedom

By Mike Mazzalongo     Posted: Sun. Apr 15th
In this lesson, Mike compares the liberating practice of Christianity to the suffocating legalism of Islam.

Islamic terrorism's true enemy is Christianity. Islamic terrorists murder men, women and children in their quest for power but their number one target is the follower of Jesus Christ. They use slogans like, "Death to America," because America and its ideals are rooted in the religion of Jesus Christ.

The reason that Christianity is anathema to them is that our religion is one of freedom unlike their own whose main purpose is to enslave, hence the name Islam, which means surrender or submission. Although many countries are in upheaval because of the struggles between different factions of this religion, not to mention the problems caused by the massive immigration of Muslims into western nations, there is one positive outcome produced by their movement. Their noticeable rise on the world stage in recent years has demonstrated Islam's violence and oppressive nature in comparison to the freedom and positive impact produced by the religion of Jesus Christ.

This is why I propose that Christianity, and not military or political might, is the most powerful response to radical Islam's attempt to rule the world. Here are several reasons why:

A Religion of Freedom

1. The Christian religion gives unbelievers the freedom to disbelieve in peace.

Islam, for the most part, seeks to rule people politically as well as religiously. The ultimate goal of this religion is that every nation is in subjection to Islam and all political systems are modified or replaced by Sharia law.

Sharia, meaning the way or path, is a set of religious principles which forms the shape of Muslim culture. These rules for life and religion were derived from the Quran, which Muslims claim was a revelation given by God to Mohammed through the angel Gabriel. Other sources for Sharia law include the actions and words of Mohammed along with the writings of scholars when they agreed on a point of law. Sharia and Islam are viewed as the revealed will of God and cannot be altered. However, opinions on what Sharia laws mean and how they are to be applied are subject to debate and disagreement.

There is no debate, however, concerning the true goal of Islam which is world domination by whatever means necessary.

"It is he who has sent his messenger forth with the guidance and religion of truth, to make it triumph over every religion, even though the idolaters may be averse."
- Sura 61:9

The quote below is from Syed Abul A'la Mawdudi, a world renowned Islamic scholar who traced his own ancestry to that of Mohammed.

"Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. It is not about democratic government, parliamentarian government, a monarchy, any government made by man Islam is out to destroy. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy. In order to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution, this is jihad." (Linda Sargent, August 25, 2010 - End of Time Ministries)

So, polite denials of this fact by so-called moderate American Muslims in order to quell fear among those who are not familiar with Islam's core purpose, ignore the teachings of their own scriptures and teachers. Moderate Muslims are either acting in ignorance or working for the same goal as terrorists but approaching it with different tactics. The terrorists try to intimidate and take over using violent aggression. The moderates infiltrate city councils, school boards, political action groups and attempt to take over from within. Here are a few examples of their progress in western nations:

  • Since 2001 in the city of London, 500 churches have closed their doors and 423 new mosques have opened to replace them (Gatestone Institute of International Policy and Council).
  • The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is a practicing Muslim.
  • In the United States there are approximately 3.5 million Muslims, 60% of which are first generation immigrants.
  • There are 2,100 mosques in the United States. 290 of them are in New York City, however, there are 55 mosques in Dallas, 63 in Houston and 11 in Oklahoma City (National Geographic).

Muslims use Western laws and individual freedoms to build their own institutions (or take over existing ones) and establish platforms to spread the (false) information that Islam is a religion of peace and can be a blessing on society.

Of course, a quick review of the countries where Islam prevails reveals nations where women are considered as being less valuable than men and societies that live in poverty, war or silent oppression.

No one should buy into the moderate Muslim's cheerful and harmless facade. They have Muslim community centers and food banks, "open-house at the mosque" days and a P.R. machine disseminating "we love America" photos with young hijab wearing teen girls smiling, but this is the marketing of their religion to make it seem normal to the general public. Make no mistake, however, world domination is the basic goal of Islam and this is pursued in various ways. With Islam, the end justifies any means necessary. That Islam becomes the dominate religion is and will always be the end game, whether it happens now or in 100 years from now. I say this because there is nothing in the teachings of Islam that presses for peaceful cohabitation with other religious ideologies. Once they control a nation they impose their religion by force if necessary.

In countries where Islam is the national religion there is no toleration for any other belief system, including the choice to disbelieve in religion altogether. You either believe, or depending on the country or the strain of Islam, you are completely rejected by your family and society, or you are imprisoned or killed. Unlike America where freedom of religion is protected by the Constitution, there is no such protection in Sharia law. If anyone doubts this, try to set up a Christian church or broadcast a Christian television, radio or website in a majority Muslim country and see how quickly you will be shut down if not killed.

Christianity, on the other hand, does not seek to rule any nation politically. Jesus said to Pilate,

"My kingdom is not of this world."
- John 18:36

Christianity calls people to come out of the world in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Colossians 1:13).

Christians are trained to live or be in the world but not be of the world (John 17:14-15).

Christianity teaches that this world will be destroyed and replaced with a new heaven and earth where Christ will rule and all who are there will live in peace. John writes about this in the book of Revelation.

9After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
- Revelation 7:9-12

Does John sound like someone who is trying to organize an earthly kingdom here? Christians appeal to others, with sincere love and patience, to be saved from the sure judgment and destruction coming upon this physical world sent by God, not man.

In the meantime, Christians are taught to live a quiet and holy life while awaiting Christ's return.

9Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.
- I Thessalonians 4:9-12
1Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.
- Titus 3:1-2

Again, do these Christian writers sound like anarchists or terrorists trying to undermine the government or the rules of society? We don't punish and kill disbelievers, we pray for them and continue to reach out to them in love. In Christianity there is a judgment and a punishment but it is administered only by God, not individual Christians or the church. Our task is to love and proclaim to all who will listen, the way to avoid God's wrath and enter into His mercy. Because the coming judgement is sure the only feeling we, as Christians, have for those who disbelieve is Godly sorrow, not hatred or violence.

Another freedom within Christianity:

2. We have the freedom to live as we choose.

The concept of individual freedom is not an American thing, it's a Christian thing!

Islam directs every facet of both secular and religious life, not only how you worship (which most religions dictate) but also how you must dress, eat and who you can or cannot marry. For example, in Muslim countries they have what is called the Mutaween, or the Religious Police, also known as the Guidance Patrol. These are government authorized officials who enforce Sharia law among the people. They make sure that dress codes are followed, especially for women, they also guard against improper public association of unrelated men and women who do not have a guardian. These officials use public beatings in order to guarantee compliance.

This constant monitoring is in addition to the practice of their religion itself, which is based on the five pillars of Islam.

The Five Pillars of Islam

  1. The Shahada: confession of faith – "There is only one God and Mohammed is His prophet." It is necessary to say this in order to convert to Islam. It is then repeated daily.
  2. The Salah: obligatory prayer – This is done five times daily: at dawn, noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at night. These prayers are done facing the Kaaba (cube) which is a building at the center of the sacred mosque in Saudi Arabia.
  3. The Zakāt: charity – The custom is to give 2.5%, however, there is a complex calculation to obtain the correct amount. The Zakāt, however, is an obligatory tax levied on all Muslims.
  4. The Sawm: fasting – Obligatory fasting from dawn to dusk each day during the month of Ramadan. Its purpose is to seek forgiveness and draw near to God.
  5. The Hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca – Every Muslim is obliged to travel to Mecca and participate in the activities associated with pilgrimage during the Hajj season once in lifetime or sponsor someone to go in their place.

Sunni Muslims believe there are only five pillars but there are variations of these among other Muslim groups. The Shia Muslims, for example, have an additional ten pillars called the Ancillaries of the Faith and the Ismailis have seven pillars, including one called jihad, which means a struggle.

I mention these to provide some insight into the daily practice of this religion and to establish a basis of comparison to Christianity. This study is not meant to be an attack on the Muslim people themselves (I feel sorrow for those who are trapped by this political philosophy masquerading as a religion) but rather an attempt to expose the flaws and failings of this religious practice followed by so many in the world today. My goal is to compare one religion to another in order to demonstrate the superiority of one over the other. Of course, those who enjoy a life completely controlled by enforced laws and punishments will naturally take to this ultra-legalistic religion.

Christianity, however, frees a person from all man-made religious rules and restrictions, which is what Islam is, man-made and enforced religious rules and rituals. Long before Islam came along, there were others who were trying to pollute Christianity with these types of religious sounding rules, and Paul the Apostle responded to these people as follows:

20If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21"Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!" 22(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
- Colossians 2:20-23

2,000 years ago Paul warned against this type of mindset and his teaching was exactly in line with what Jesus Himself taught when He put an end to food and drink restrictions in the name of religion:

17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."
- Mark 7:17-23

The five pillars of Islam are simply a codification of the various facets of normal Christian life. For example:

  1. Constantly confessing regarding Mohammed – Christians confess their faith only one time at their conversion (Acts 8:37). Their lifestyle then becomes their daily acknowledgement of faith.
  2. Prayer five times a day – Christians are told to rejoice always, pray always and give thanks in every circumstance (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). Christians don't need a schedule, a map or a compass to pray. They continually offer prayers to the living God through the power of the Spirit within them according to the authority and the instruction of the Lord, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:15-16; John 14:13). It is not an obligation for Christians to pray, it is a joy for them to pray. There is a big difference between "must" pray and "want" to pray.
  3. The Zakāt 2.5% religious tax – As a Christian, giving is not an obligation, it's an opportunity. Imagine, the living God has allowed the followers of Jesus to give Him something! That's a favor to the believer, not to God. The only guidelines are that Christians give based on what they have (I Corinthians 16:2), and do so with a cheerful heart (II Corinthians 9:7). Of course, the best way to kill this spirit of a free-will offering to God from a joyful and thankful heart is to make a law and rule out of giving.
  4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan – Fasting as a voluntary spiritual exercise when combined with prayer is profitable for maturing the individual or seeking God's will, or developing better control over self. Enforced fasting, as Paul says however, does not serve a spiritual purpose (Colossians 2:23).
  5. Pilgrimage to Mecca – The time when a place or a building here on earth has any significant religious purpose is passed. If there was a war and Israel's enemies dropped a bomb that wiped out every religious shrine and church building, and reduced to rubble every Jewish, Christian and Muslim "holy" place, it would not make an iota of difference to the Christian faith.

Our faith is not dependent on buildings or shrines. It is not based on "Holy" places. It is not improved by relics and sites where religious events of the past have been memorialized. I do not say this to be disrespectful of people's sincerity. These practices and places are merely attempts to capitalize on many believers' need to touch and feel the things of God, physical ways to gain assurance that their belief system is true and valid (not to mention the financial motivation of religious tourism by those who control and operate these locations). The structure containing God's Spirit, however, is the physical body of the Christian. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). A Christian's life here on earth is the true pilgrimage, not to reach some earthly destination, but to arrive at our heavenly home with God (I Peter 2:11-12).

The Christian religion and life is the substance and reality that is only suggested and poorly sketched out in the legalism of Islam. To be sure, in Christianity there are instructions about lifestyle and worship, but these are few and all encompassing. There is only one rule for the Christian lifestyle and that is to love one another.

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
- Matthew 7:12
8Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9For this, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
- Romans 13:8-10

We don't need religious police to guide us in this commandment. The Christian religion and life are completely fulfilled by faithfully following Jesus Christ, and the instruction for these are clearly laid out in the New Testament. There is no need for special clothing, no need for special haircuts, no need for lifestyle police, no need for food restrictions or forced travel to worship at a particular holy place. As Christians, we do as Paul says in Colossians,

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
- Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

We also have rituals that are commanded as part of our faith experience but these are not done as ways to earn favor or righteousness before God, they are done to memorialize what God has done for us.

  1. Baptism (immersion in water) of one who repents of sin and confesses belief in Christ in order to memorialize the moment in time when that person was set free from the guilt and condemnation of sin, born again as a Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to begin his pilgrimage to heaven.
  2. Communion (the Lord's supper) the weekly ritual of taking bread and fruit of the vine on Sunday as Christians everywhere gather to remember or memorialize the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one who makes Christian freedom, life and hope possible. Every Sunday Christians gather to celebrate their freedom. Freedom from sin, freedom from the Law, freedom from the fear of death, freedom from condemnation, freedom from any manmade religion. Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

These two simple rituals begin and continue the Christian's witness of faith throughout his life. The rest of the New Testament deals primarily with how to live a life of holiness and love in a world where disbelief and false religion are the norm. Muslim extremists hate this aspect of our faith the most because our quiet assurance and holy life have the power to dissuade others from falling victim to their enslaving religion. This is why they go to great lengths to limit their people's exposure to the West as much as possible.

They claim that they don't want good Muslims being corrupted by Hollywood but I suspect that the real reason is that they don't want them breathing the liberating air of Christianity. And so, Christianity is the religion of freedom because it offers individuals the freedom to exercise their God given ability to believe or not to believe, and accept the consequences of their choices. It also liberates believers from the oppression and restrictions of man made religious rules.

3. Christianity's freedom enables its followers to be equal partners in this life as well as the life to come.

Islam perverts the idea of male spiritual leadership taught by God through Moses in the Old Testament and by Paul in the New Testament.

22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
- Ephesians 5:22-25

The concept here is that the husband is responsible for the spiritual leadership of his wife and family. In this inspired model the wife willingly offers her submission because of her faith in Christ, not because she's afraid of her husband. In this model the husband is ready to give up his life in support and protection of his wife in the same way that Christ gave up His life to create the church. In Christianity, both partners willingly give up something precious. The woman lays down her autonomy and the man lays down his life, sometimes in a single act of bravery but most times he spends his time, and strength, and energy, and heart in protecting, and supporting, and nourishing, and leading his wife and family in their Christian pilgrimage that is life here in this dark and difficult world.

Islam, for the most part, has perverted this idea of male spiritual leadership and transformed it into an excuse for suffocating male domination over women. The Muslim religion codifies female enslavement by relegating women to an inferior class of human beings.

"Men are managers of the affairs of women "because Allah has made the one superior to the other."
- Sura 4:34

In the Muslim world, men dominate, rule and have most of the privileges because God has created them as superior beings. This false notion has led to the most vile of practices and aggression against women. For example,

  • The denial of education for women in many Muslim countries (i.e. Afghanistan).
  • Enforced dress codes (i.e. Hijab, Burqa).
  • Physical mutilation (female circumcision).
  • Forced marriages, and forced marriages of minor aged girls,
  • Restriction of movement. Women are forbidden to drive cars, they're not permitted to leave the house without a male escort if they're single.
  • Lack of protection under the law.
    • Under Sharia law a man is entitled to have four wives. A husband in divorcing one of his wives need only to make a declaration in front of an Islamic judge without the woman's consent or even the requirement of her presence. However, if a woman wishes to divorce her husband, she must first get his consent (Islamic Sharia Law vs. Liberty, Equality and Democracy, Shabnam Assadollahi).

Young American women who convert to Islam to please their Muslim boyfriends (hopefully their husbands one day) do so because they don't really know what they're in for should they ever marry, have children or travel to live in a Muslim country.

Jesus Christ has done more to raise up the condition, the human value and potential of human beings than any other religious or political leader in history. He came at a time when many of the Muslim ideas and treatment of women were prevalent in the corrupted Jewish society that He lived in. His teachings and those of His apostles established the equal value and dignity of all women as created by God.

In Galatians 3:26-29, Paul sounds the death knell for all philosophies and religions that sought to create a class system that advantaged one group over another based on culture, social position or gender before God.

26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.

Christianity not only frees, it also adds those who are free to a family of people whose intrinsic value is determined by what they believe and not who and what they are as human beings (Jews, Greeks, rich, poor, women, etc.). Christians are given a new spiritual status and function by God, which describes their eternal identity in heaven that in time will completely replace what they are known as here on earth.

9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
- I Peter 2:9-10

This passage of Scripture reveals how God describes us. Islam is a belief system made by man, designed for a religious type of life here in this world. Christianity, on the other hand, frees the believer to transcend this world so that the practice of his faith here actually gives him a glimpse and an experience of the world to come. This is something that Islam cannot and will never be able to do because it was conceived by human thought concerning spiritual matters unlike Christianity which is the acting out of the Divine will revealed by Jesus, the God/man, and powered by God's own Spirit dynamically residing within each Christian (Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 3:16).

Summary

I've shared several ideas about Christianity and Islam with you but here's the point I want you to hold onto in the days, months and years to come:

ISLAM WILL NEVER WIN!!

It will never win because:

1. It has the wrong prophet

1God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
- Hebrews 1:1-3

Jesus is the last and only divine Messenger sent by God. He is superior to all others because of His resurrection. Last I heard, Mohammed was still dead. Why would God replace the Messenger risen from the dead through which the world was created for one who had no such credentials?

2. It has the wrong book

15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
- II Timothy 3:15-16

The Bible leads to salvation, righteous living and eternal life. What can another book add to that? Why would God send additional information that reveals nothing new and that offers an inferior life here and no guarantee of the life to come?

3. It has the wrong mission

18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
- Matthew 28:18-20

Does Jesus say that He would be with us until another prophet comes along? Until we get more information? No, He says, "I'll be with you 'til the end of the age." God has not sent us to infiltrate and conquer militarily or politically. God has not sent us to terrorize and murder. Look at the condition of the countries where Islam is the major religion. As I've mentioned before, they are either at war with themselves or their neighbors or oppressed by their own religious and political leaders.

Have you noticed that there is no great demand for visas to go live in Iran, or Iraq? Do we ever see the embassies for Muslim countries overwhelmed by those who want to emigrate there? As a matter of fact, the main immigration problem facing Europe is what to do with the millions of people who are fleeing Muslim countries. Look at the condition of the nations that have to deal with Muslims within their borders. Terrorist attacks, a flood of refugees, the attempt by Muslim immigrants to establish Sharia law in defiance of these countries' own laws and culture. What's amazing here is that these people want to reestablish the same religion and practice in their new country of residency that caused the failure and war in the country they left!

Christianity, on the other hand, can function and flourish in any country or culture because its leader and body is not of this world but of the next. History and experience have shown that when a country is based on and maintains Biblical principles, that nation flourishes. The United States is the best example of that.

A quick comparison of the U.S. and any Muslim country will bear this out. I offer a personal opinion here: I believe that the decline of Europe and its mounting conflicts with Islam is God's punishment on them for having abandoned Christianity. They thought they could simply replace Christianity with some philosophical position or political organization and look what's happened to them. Islam is having its moment, yes, but it can't win.

Many others before them had the same hope of world domination and even succeeded for a time. The Babylonians, the Medes, the Greeks, the Roman Empire, the Nazis and the Communists, all had this idea but Daniel the prophet correctly stated in his vision that during the world domination of the Roman Empire, another eternal kingdom would be established.

In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.
- Daniel 2:44

The kingdom that Daniel spoke of was established by Jesus Christ during the period of the Roman Empire.

15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
- Matthew 16:15-18

Think of the implication of Jesus' words here. If the gates of hell, powered by Satan, cannot overcome the church, then neither can a manmade religion.

That eternal kingdom spoken by Daniel and proclaimed by Jesus, never to be overtaken or destroyed by any power on earth (that includes Islam) or power in hell (that's the devil and his followers) that kingdom is the church that belongs to Jesus Christ.

Let me say it one more time:

Islam will never win!

However, you can and will you win if you are among those who have been freed from sin, freed from the ignorance of false religion and added to those who are now one in Christ Jesus. I encourage the church not to be afraid of wars, and rumors of wars, not to be afraid of movements and ideologies that come and go. Just remember that in Christ our victory is guaranteed because, as I have already said twice, they will never win, ever!

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Barry Day,
Pulpit Minister,
San Diego - Canyon View Church of Christ