Other passages tell us to avoid irresponsible or careless
Ps. 37:7–8; 42:5–6, 11; 55:4–8, 16–17, 22; 56:3–4; 143:4–7; Matt. 6:19–34; Phil. 3:18–
21; Col. 3:1–17; 1 Thess. 5:14–18; 1 Peter 5:7.
words, anxiety, envy, and other emotions that lead to anguish. Instead, we are to teach uplifting
truths to ourselves and to each other, producing healing and peace.
One key passage that occupied much of my thinking was Philippians 4:6–9, where Paul
exhorts believers to control their anxiety (v. 6), which often contributes heavily to emotional
doubt. I knew that curbing my anxiety would provide a huge advantage in treating my emotional
Paul issued a four-step remedy. He commanded prayer to God regarding our needs. Peter
offers additional details to his anxious readers
, telling them to cast their worries on God (1 Peter
Paul states that thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6) and praise (Phil. 4:8) should be given as well.
Testimony shows that these practices, during anxiety or periods of being downcast, are often
fantastically liberating actions that lessen our anxieties and fears.
In perhaps the strongest “cognitive” passage in Scripture, Paul instructs his readers to
exchange their anxiety for God-honoring truths. His readers should meditate steadily, deeply,
and single-mindedly on God’s truths, employing these concepts (Phil. 4:8) instead of the
ruminations that led to anxiety in the first place.
Last, Paul adds a behavioral component—practicing the actions that he had just listed
(Phil. 4:9). This does not mean that these four steps must be duplicated every time; other texts
encourage the same steps, either by themselves or along with different practices.
Many popular writings explain how to implement this process in more detail, but I have
long preferred the bestseller Telling Yourself the Truth by William Backus and Marie Chapian.
Prov. 4:23–27; 12:18, 25; 15:13–15; 17:22; 18:21; Lam. 3:19–24; Eph. 5:15–20.
Although often very painful, the effects of emotional doubt may be eliminated or at least
The remedy is the habitual and forceful application of techniques that correct
our mistaken thinking and behavior.
William Backus and Marie Chapian, Telling Yourself the Truth, 20th ed. (Minneapolis:
Bethany House, 2000).
Two of my three books on religious doubt can be found on my website,
, without charge, under the “books” tab. Of the three, The Thomas
Factor: Using Your Doubts to Grow Closer to God
is concerned primarily with emotional doubt.
Dreams and Visions
Contributing to Part 10: “Guided by the Hand of God”
than fifty years, having addressed more than twenty-five million people and given more than
twenty-six thousand talks in 125 countries. He is author of several dozen books that share the
essentials of the Christian faith in everyday language. He has written or coauthored more than
130 books, including
Josh McDowell has been an internationally recognized evangelist and apologist for more
More Than a Carpenter, which has sold more than fifteen million copies in
Many Westerners find it hard to understand that God is using dreams and visions in a
powerful way to reveal Himself to Muslims. In Isaiah 65:1 (NIV), it says, “I revealed myself to
those who did not ask for me, I was found by those who did not seek me.”
Joel proclaimed, “Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see
visions” (Joel 2:28 ESV). As in the days of Joel, when God wanted to teach Israel “I am the
your God and there is none else” (Joel 2:27 ESV), He used dreams and visions.
I believe He is demonstrating the same thing to the Muslim people today. In God’s
infinite wisdom and passion, He reveals Himself to people in different ways that are culturally
relevant so they can understand who He is, receive Him, and follow Him.
In many Muslim cultures, dreams and visions play a strong role in people’s lives.
Muslims rarely have access to the scriptures or interactions with Christian missionaries, yet God
is as passionate about having a relationship with Muslims as He is about having a relationship
with you and me (Exod. 34:14 NLT).
The phenomenon of God’s revealing Himself through dreams and visions is not limited
to any one people, language, or country. People experience revelatory dreams from Indonesia to
Saudi Arabia and beyond. It’s not just limited to the Arab world. In Persian and Turkish-
speaking countries and throughout Africa and Asia, many cultures place a high premium on such
Dreams and visions do not convert people; the gospel does. These seekers begin a
personal or spiritual journey to find the Truth. As was the case for Nabeel, the dreams lead them
to the scriptures and to believers who can share Jesus with them. It is the gospel through the
Holy Spirit that converts people.
Mission Frontiers magazine reported that out of six hundred Muslim converts, more than
25 percent were affected spiritually through dreams.
One missionary in Africa reports that “42
percent of the new believers came to Christ through visions, dreams, angelic appearances and
hearing God’s voice.”
No two dreams are exactly the same, but in my experience, many say that in their dreams
Jesus is standing with His arms outstretched and says either, “Why are you resisting the Truth?”
Christine Darg, “The Jesus Visions—Signs and Wonders in the Muslim World
Introduction,” accessed January 7, 2013, http://www.jesusvisions.org/intro.shtml#top.
“Accounts Multiply of Muslims Who Have Encountered YAHUSHUA (Jesus Christ)
in Unusual Dreams,” AMightyWind.com, accessed January 7, 2013,
or “Seek the Truth.” I have found that the normal Muslim response is, “What is the truth?” or
“Show me the truth.”
This is why we get so many response letters asking, “Why has it taken you so long to get
me the truth?”
One missionary shares this story:
I met a man from Baluchistan, which is a region in Pakistan. I met him in a Bible college where I
was to give a devotional, and he turned out to be there because Jesus appeared to him, literally at his death
bed, healed him, and told him to go to Karachi, study the Word, then return to Baluchistan to spread the
Another missionary says:
An Iranian student with whom I had worked here in Paris disappeared from circulation, because of
great pressure from his older brother who was a practicing Muslim. Six months later, he returned, beaming
a big smile on his face, and told me the great news that now he is very sure that the Bible is true. As we sat
together and talked, he told me how hard his brother had beat him many times, and forced him to keep
Ramadan. But one night, as he had been struggling with the question, “Which is true, the Bible or the
Koran?” he had a dream in which he saw Jesus, and he asked Jesus all the questions he had, and he
remembers how satisfied he was with the answers. He could only remember the last question he’d asked,
which, amazingly, was a strange one for us, but not for a Muslim. He asked Jesus, “Now that I am your
follower, what shall I eat?” I was pleased to hear that Jesus had said to him, “Eat my Word.” I turned to the
book of Jeremiah, and I showed him the passage where Jeremiah said, “I found your Word and I ate it.”
Well, he jumped with excitement and told me, “Jesus must be right.”
The following are credible stories of the impact of dreams:
From an email to Josh McDowell dated January 7, 2013.
In one African Muslim country, a young man violently tore up a Bible tract and threatened the life
of the Every Home for Christ worker going door-to-door with the literature, Dick Eastman of Colorado
Springs–based EHFC told NIRR. The next afternoon as the worker sat in his home, he was shocked to see
the man knock at his door. “I must have another booklet,” the Muslim told him. He explained that the
previous night two hands awakened him, and when he turned on the light and asked who was there, a voice
said, “You have torn up the truth.” The voice instructed him to acquire another booklet, directing him to the
EHFC worker’s home, the young man said. There, the Muslim read the booklet and became a believer. He
has since been expelled from his wealthy family, lives with EHFC’s Africa director, and is preparing for
ministry to Muslims.
In another incident, several EHFC workers were distributing literature in a marketplace. A man
who received a booklet gasped and said he had a vision of the person pictured on the cover in his dream the
night before, Eastman said. In the dream, the man was in a deep pit when a rope was thrown to him and two
strong hands pulled him up. Upon climbing out, he looked into the face of the man who helped him: Jesus.
The workers explained the meaning of the dream and the man was converted on the spot. Later, three other
people recounted the same dream and two of them became Christians, Eastman said. God is preparing
Muslims, and Christian workers follow through, he said.
“Dreams and Visions Move Muslims to Christ (an excerpt from National and
International Religion Report,” Eternal Perspective Ministries—Resource Library, accessed
January 7, 2013, http://www.epm.org/resources/1996/Sep/12/dreams-visions-move-muslims-
In Kawuri, Nigeria, a Christian was beaten nearly to death by his tribe for leaving Islam, according
to Open Doors with Brother Andrew. As the man lay close to death, he asked God to forgive his attackers,
unaware that they were listening in the next room. That night, two Islamic priests who participated in the
beating had visions. One said Jesus showed him his three greatest and most private sins. The next day, the
two mullahs repented and led eighty followers to a church, the Santa Ana, Calif.–based group said.
Karima, a Muslim, dreamed she was in a car when it crashed. She was knocked out, but when she
opened her eyes (in her dream), she saw that Jesus was the driver. “Come to Me,” He told her, “I am with
you. I love you.” That experience led her to seek out a Christian church, where she responded to the
Omar had been locked up and tortured for years in a jail cell in a nation ruled by a dictator. One
night a messenger visited him in a dream, telling him he would be set free. Within days he was released
from prison and traveled to America, where newfound friends reached out to him. When he was given a
book with a picture of Jesus on the cover, his eyes lit up. “I know him,” he said. “He came to me in a
Audrey Lee, “Why Revival Is Exploding among Muslims,” Charisma Magazine,
accessed December 7, 2012, http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/evangelism-missions/14442-
The Jesus Film team was returning late one night from a showing. They saw a fire up in the
mountains where shepherds were caring for their sheep. Several of the team members went up the mountain
with the Jesus Film DVD and copies of the book More Than a Carpenter.
After a brief introduction, they offered each shepherd a DVD and book. One shepherd got all
excited and proclaimed, “Last night I saw this book in a dream and I was told to read it.” Needless to say,
each shepherd enthusiastically received the book!
A brother I personally know was telling me about seventeen people in a group of former
Muslims. Every one of them had seen visions or dreams of Jesus. One of the men asked this
brother if he had seen Jesus in a vision. He replied, “No.” The man put his arm around my friend
and said, “How blessed are you! You have not seen Him, yet you love Him, and you serve Him.”
Then he added, “We have no excuse; we have seen Him face to face!”
Our God cares about the believer and those still searching for truth. He does not give up
on His creation, as Nabeel’s own story proves. His journey was filled with questions,
frustrations, and disappointments, yet his friends continued to pray for him for four years until
God’s love broke through.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if
we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9 NIV).
Whether through dreams or visions, reading scripture, personal testimony from friends, or
any of the other ways God reaches His people—I can unequivocally say that “He is a God who is
jealous about his relationship with you” (Exod. 34:14 NLT).
Story told personally to Josh McDowell.