The Third Jihad


The Third Jihad by Dr. Michael Youssef is an illuminating book that moves beyond the headlines of the day and political narratives to the history of jihad and its progression to the present day. The historical, geographical, philosophical, political, and religious history is clearly outlined from Dr. Youseef whose background as a Coptic Christian offers valuable insights.

Dr. Youssef asserts The Third Jihad has already begun, but in many ways we do not recognize since it moves beyond a holy war conducted with terror and violence into many contexts and areas of influence via stealth and intimidation. He reminds us jihad is a centuries old war. In America John Adams knew the war through the tactics of the Barbary pirates.

The Third Jihad denotes differences within the Muslim or Islamic world succinctly when he writes:

“There is a distinction between Islam and Islamism, between moderate Muslims and Islamists. Though all Islamists are Muslims, not all Muslims are Islamists.”


 The world was shocked on 9/11 when planes flew into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and a field in Shanksville, PA. What is less evident to most people living in Western civilization is what Dr. Youssef describes as a “cultural jihad” that “seeks to use our Western laws, our freedoms, and our compassion against us.”

This book highlights the misconceptions about what fuels jihad and why the subtle cultural strategies, propaganda and legal manipulation in Western countries are making unnoticed gains that can be greater than violence that creates fear.

“Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a tactic. The real enemy is Islamist ideology” according to the author.

The impact of terrorism has been felt around the world in diverse places since The First Jihad that began around 622 until 751. The goal of jihad to conquer the Western civilizations has been notably advanced by the decline of the church and the body of Christ in Europe where empty churches have become mosques.

Dr. Youssef gives a sobering assessment of the risk to America in this statement from the book:

“When the collapse of America comes, it will catch most Americans by surprise. It will seem to happen suddenly, without warning − but in fact the slow crumbling of America’s moral and spiritual foundation is already well underway.”


 The Third Jihad asserts the antidote will come when Christian believers show more evidence of being salt and light. Dr. Youssef’s book calls the church to prayer for revival and an awakening similar to what occurred through Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and John Wesley.

Dr. Youssef makes a sobering statement:

“Unless there is a genuine revival throughout our civilization, we are going to lose our liberty. Look at history. Whenever the church lost its vision, its sense of biblical authority, its sense of urgency for preaching the uncompromised gospel of Jesus Christ, the result was a spiritual vacuum. When there is a spiritual vacuum, you can count on one thing: Something will rush in to fill it.”


 In the end, The Third Jihad points to this: “For Christians, the real battlefield is spiritual. The real jihad is a battle for the control of our wills, our minds, our emotions, our souls. The real enemy, the real terrorist, the most dangerous jihadist we face is Satan himself, and if he can immobilize us with terror, he wins.”


This book will be released March 5. It is an important and significant book for our time. I believe it is a call to awaken the body of Christ in these times to what the Lord entrusted to us as believers as our calling before He returns.

The Third Jihad  by Michael Youssef can be found at

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.


Bring Me A Vision Revisited


August 15, 2018, I shared for the first time here about my newly published book, Bring Me A Vision: A Story of Redeeming Hope. I shared the power of the story within it detailing Becky Moreland’s journey from brokenness to wholeness, abuse to healing, and ultimately to a vision from the Lord.

That vision led Becky to establish RAHAB Ministries in Akron, Ohio, in 2002. This outreach focused on reaching beyond the brokenness and hopelessness experienced by women who have been trafficked and abused, leading them to the wholeness and healing Becky knew firsthand.

In 2017, the Lord gave me a vision for the book so that others could know the power of God’s love and redemption. I also sensed clearly from Him that profits from the sale of the book were to be donated to RAHAB Ministries.

When I shared this vision with Becky and asked her to pray about it, she agreed to trust me with telling the story.

IMG_1088 (1)
AACC Conference 2013

Our relationship has evolved a great deal over the more than 20 years we have known each other. But the experience of working on this book, writing, and publishing it, brought a depth to our friendship that I am not sure either of us could fully describe. Perhaps it was due in part to reviewing the story and seeing God’s hand at work over and over again in countless ways.

At a recent lunch with Becky, we talked about these months since the book’s release and today I want to let you eavesdrop on responses to some of the questions I asked Becky.

How has the release of Bring Me A Vision impacted you?


“To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect, except that I felt the need to ‘lay low’ for a while. I can say now that the response has been so positive that I have no qualms about having my story out there. I feel far removed from the girl/woman in that story. That (I believe) was God’s gift to me.”

What has most surprised you about the response to the book?

“The biggest surprise was that so many women felt safe enough to be able to share their story. Women that have suffered in silence for many, many years were able to find words to put to their pain. I’m heartbroken about the women (many of them older than myself) that have never healed from their pasts.”

Now that you have retired as Executive Director of Rahab, what do you sense the Lord has been speaking to you?


“That’s a good question. Mostly, wait. I know He has a purpose for me. I am neither anxious nor concerned about what that might be. I am at peace with sitting with Him for longer periods of time on a daily basis. I am enjoying the relaxed times I can spend with my children and grandchildren. The Lord will clearly show me what is next and I am confident I will know what that is.”

The book really looks at relationship from a variety of contexts (some healthy and some not) and one of the central relationships is one with me (Pam). You risked trusting the Lord in and through me all over again when I said I felt the Lord was leading me to write your story. What does your relationship with her look like since the book was written and in these months since?


“When Pam mentioned writing a book about my story I had already come to trust her completely. What I did not anticipate was how that experience would shape our already close relationship. We have gone from counselor to mentor to close friends over more than 20 years. I love that we get together weekly and never run out of things to talk about. Our conversations are deep and motivating. I treasure our times together and am still growing spiritually because of Pam’s love for me.”

Some of you may be wondering how sales for the book have gone. We have prayed and IMG_2717believed from the outset that the Lord would take this book wherever He chose. Since it was self-published, it would not benefit from the exposure and advertisement a major publisher can bring.

We were greatly blessed to have a number of amazing writers and bloggers review the book on their own websites. We cannot thank you enough! Lori, Debbie, Michele, Linda, Lisa, Susan, Deb, and David − you are dear to our hearts.

Additionally, several persons have specifically championed our vision for the book and promoted it above and beyond what we could have imagined. One of these women (Barb) purchased 100 books before the book was even in our hands from the printer. Another (Angel) whose life was changed by Becky’s love and care, has been sharing about the book everywhere she is asked to speak and share her own story.

As of now we want to share with you that we have sold 559 books (71 since December 6, 2018). We have each also donated some books occasionally when the Lord nudged us to. (What stories we could tell about where we have done this without any idea of why the Lord was leading!)

The sale of these books to date has allowed $2,000 to be donated to RAHAB. It is our hope that amount will grow as we see the ministry growing and expanding including the opening of a new Minor Safe House.

Various organizations and ministries may seek to help this population of women and teen girls, but RAHAB is unique in providing the variety of programs and services as well as two residences − a Safe House for adult women and the new Minor Safe House for teenage girls.

At the beginning of 2019 we felt led to expand the exposure of the book and we wanted you to know that you can still buy the book from the Resource page on my website (Pam Ecrement – Resources), but it is also available from Amazon in paperback. Additionally, it can be purchased as an eBook from three different sites. Here are the links:

Amazon paperback

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Nook

Apple – iTunes/iBook

My final questions to Becky: With the broader opportunity of the book’s message available now with the eBooks and on Amazon, what are your hopes for how God uses these avenues?

“I would say my first response would be that He would use the books in order that other women still stuck in their pain might find hope and healing. Secondly, I want to continue supporting RAHAB financially with the proceeds from the book. RAHAB has doubled in size in a very short time and needs contributions to allow the staff to do the work they have been called to do.”

If this story has impacted you, we hope you will share this information with someone else or gift someone with a copy of the book. The needs are many.

One thing Becky and I are sure of − we are standing on tiptoes eagerly looking for what the Lord will do next as He reaches out with grace, mercy, hope, and love.


Our Conflict with Wilderness




I am not sure what comes to your mind when you read the word “wilderness,” but most of us will not put it on our “bucket list” of places we want to be certain to visit in our lifetime. It won’t likely show up in the listing of top vacation spots on most travel websites either.


A dictionary definition of “wilderness” uses these words: “an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region; a neglected or abandoned area of a garden or town.”


That doesn’t sound very appealing. Many of us have not visited a region known as “wilderness” for those reasons and more, but many of us have described seasons of our lives where it felt as if we were in a “wilderness.”


adventure-arid-arizona-414136Such seasons can come from a crisis of some variety that plunges us into a sense of isolation, hopelessness, and emptiness. Some of those seasons come when we have turned our backs on the Lord through commission or omission. Depression and anxiety can feel like a wilderness as well.


If we can avoid anything remotely connected to “wilderness,” most of us will do us unless we are one of those “off the beaten path” types eager for such vacation adventures offered.


Reading the Old Testament gives us a number of very vivid pictures of the wilderness. There is the story of Hagar after Sarah forces her to leave with Ishmael. Moses initially flees there after killing an Egyptian and of course the children of Israel’s route to the Promised Land goes right through the wilderness (actually a series of wilderness places – Mt. Sinai, Paran, Moab), but there are others as well such as when David flees there when Saul is out to take his life.


Jenny Phillips in an article for the American Bible Society offers an insightful view of wilderness in the Bible:


“The wilderness of the Bible is a liminal space—an in-between place where ordinary life is suspended, identity shifts, and new possibilities emerge. Through the experiences of the Israelites in exile, we learn that while the Biblical wilderness is a place of danger, temptation and chaos, it is also a place for solitude, nourishment, and revelation from God. These themes emerge again in Jesus’ journey into the wilderness, tying his identity to that of his Hebrew ancestors.”


One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus being led into the wilderness or desert is found in Ken Gire’s exceptional book, Moments with the Savior: A Devotional Life of Christ:


 “It stretches before him like an endless wasteland, frayed with gullies, littered with splintered rock and sun-bleached bones. Stoop-shouldered hills are hunched all around him. At his feet, impoverished plants reach skyward, like beggars desperate for alms. But the eyes of heaven are unsympathetic. They offer no tears. Only the compensatory promise of night.”


That physical place might not be in your experience, but the feeling of such a place may be one you are acquainted with or perhaps know now.


It seems impossible for us to consider other aspects of these very stories when we are in clouds-dawn-desert-149941the midst of such a time. We forget that God provided for Hagar and Moses in their first wilderness experiences with Him.


We forget when the children of Israel were out there in the wilderness complaining about the food, water, and accommodations that God was in their midst.


The Tabernacle was located in the very center of their encampment with the Levites encircling this holy place.


We forget that God sheltered David and his mighty men in the caves of the wilderness.


Our conflict with the wilderness is evident in all this. None of us wants to be there and yet there is testimony about the good that is accomplished in us when we are there and as a result of that season.


We grapple with the evidence that God led Jesus into the wilderness. He led the children of Israel into the wilderness. On our worst days we can be tempted to question how a loving God could do that.


One thing is also clear: In the wilderness God ultimately gets our attention.


Everything and everyone else has been stripped away so all that dulls our eyes to see Him cannot distract us or muffle our ears to hear Him.


Jenny Phillips notes in her article on the wilderness that being there has a number of functions:


“It serves as a place of barrenness and hunger, a source of nourishment from God, a location for God’s testing and revelation, and a context for the transformation for God’s people.”


The conflict within us about the wilderness reaches a peak when we face the question central to the experience: “Do I trust you, Lord?”


Our response will determine the outcome.


Our choice transforms our character.













How Do You Remember?

daylight-environment-fall-977107 (2)


Each of us probably has more tools to help us remember than ever before. There are the lists and post-it-notes that some prefer and most of us have set aside the planners so popular of just a few years ago. (I confess I loved and lived by mine.) Now it is our phones, tablets, and computers that give us reminders. We may even ask Siri or Alexa or some other device to help.


It would seem we have no excuse for not remembering appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. I wonder why it can be easy (for some…very easy) to still forget.


IMG_3011Is it the pace of our lives?  Too many distractions? Or have we simply been bombarded for so long that we have tuned out?


For as important as all the things I named may be (along with more than a few others), I wonder how we remember the most central things.


How do you remember who you are?


We are bombarded on every side with messages about who we are or are supposed to be. Messages come as ads from every source imaginable as well as news, talk shows, movies, music, and whatever peer groups we frequent. There are also the internal messages. Some of these are echoes from parents and childhood long ago.


It should not be surprising with all those loud messages out there that children and young adults are confused about who they are. But they are not the only ones. Adults of all ages are not immune from some of the messages.


Those same messages create questions about who God is or at least blurs what we blur-book-stack-books-590493thought we knew or believed about Him. That can cause us to lose our mooring.


Little by little the study of history has been eclipsed by a metanarrative about social and cultural development. It takes only a reporter on the street asking a random person the most basic of questions to realize that few know the history of their country at even an elementary level. They don’t even know they don’t know and could seem to care less.


In 1905 philosopher George Santayana said:


“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


Then in 1948 in a speech to the House of Commons Winston Churchill slightly changed the quote of Santayana’s when we said:


“Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”


Though some may argue the relevance of studying history, there is a great deal of evidence to support the position noted in the two quotes.


anchor-beach-boat-1266847God knew that very well. The Bible is not simply an historical book, but it contains history that anchors us to our place in creation and in our beliefs.


I think it is clear that God knew we needed reminders to remember who we are and who He is to us.


One example was the seven annual feasts that are laid out in Leviticus for the children of Israel after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. Each of them retold a different part of the story of who they were and who God was to them. The observance of these throughout the year was a reminder to them of how God had redeemed them and brought them to the Promised Land and provided for them.


This historical record and review was meant to solidify their identity for them as well as make clear who God was to them. These things also could remind them of what was good to remember as well as what was important not to repeat.


Reading what happened  serves as evidence they needed the reminder, but sometimes ignored it.


These feasts are not a part of the life of Christian believers today and in the midst of all that bombards us.


What is it that reminds me, reminds us of who we are and who God is to us?



The Holy Spirit within us prompts us internally if we will pay attention. Time in the Word reminds us if we will cue ourselves and discipline ourselves to do it. Everything we see in nature can remind us as we take a breath, look up at the sky, feel the earth beneath our feet, hear the song of the bird overhead or the gurgling of a stream we walk by.


There are reminders all around us despite not having seven annual feasts. There are reminders beyond Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost.


The course of our life will be strongly influenced by whether or not we tune in to all of these and others. Brothers and sisters along the way will also be able to remind us.


But we must not forget it is our response and responsibility to the grace and goodness of God to keep these things before us, to remember our history, our testimony with Him.


Other things, other people, and the enemy of our souls will seek to tell us who we are or should be. These are not the source of truth we need.


The Lord is the only One who can tell us and remind us of who we are with 100% accuracy, unending grace, and everlasting love. He never lies.








The Paradox of God’s Presence




A cursory reading of Old Testament books like Leviticus can easily leave a person scratching his or her head. As we read about the ways to live in God’s presence, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds amid the descriptions of rituals, sacrifices, matters of purity, feasts, and the roles and requirements of priests. If we do we will miss the central theme of what our eyes are skimming.


The centrality of this is God’s holiness and how we can come into the presence of a holy God.


How we do it shows our respect and honor for his holiness. That He shows the way is evidence of his love and longing that we no longer be separated from Him. He desired to enter into a covenant relationship with his people.


587086-Jerry-Bridges-Quote-The-pursuit-of-holiness-is-a-joint-ventureEven though the New Testament reminds us to be holy and somewhere we know or have heard that God is holy, we have likely heard more messages and read more books about God’s love than God’s holiness. If we are asked to define it, too often our words trip over themselves.


At some point we have heard and understood that to be holy is to be set apart as unique. As one who desires to follow Him, we are to be unique as well and not look like those who are not his. Sadly, we too often look, talk, and act much like those who do not claim Him.


Holiness is not a quality of character that comes in our human DNA.


Our sin nature (not unlike the stories we read in Leviticus) gets in the way of our relationship to the Lord. The place where we may get lost in the weeds in Leviticus is God teaching his children how they (sinful) can risk living in his holy presence. (All those animal sacrifices and purity laws seem impossible.)


God is well aware of our condition ever since the first bite of the fruit in the garden that was not to be touched. He knows well that it separated us from Him and He has been showing us the way back ever since.


Of course God had a plan for that, a plan to bring us into wholeness again through the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb, Jesus. He offers us grace, mercy, and love, but He also provides for transformation. He sets about transforming our character, showing us that we are called to holiness. And that is only something his transformation can accomplish.


The thing about holiness is that no matter how much we try to do or say what we know 319585-Elisabeth-Elliot-Quote-God-is-God-Because-he-is-God-He-is-worthywe should and practice all the things we see as a part of Christ, we cannot really make ourselves appear holy outwardly (let alone inwardly).


Holiness includes goodness and such Christ-like characteristics can only occur with a transformation of our heart by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Then that can be expressed in our external actions and only then.


When the Lord starts cleaning house in our hearts and souls, it is no quick tidying up. Beyond the obvious clutter, dust, and dirt He may see, there are those other things that we hide or don’t even recognize about ourselves − our motives.


John Eldredge puts it this way in his book, The Utter Relief of Holiness:


 “Everything we do has a motive behind it. This is such a helpful category. It will be the dawning of a new day for us when we can simply accept Jesus’ offer of genuine integrity by looking at our motives.”


 Looking of our motives is not for the faint of heart.


bloom-blossoms-buds-87452That quest will expose more than we often want to see of the core sin issues that plague us in this life. We will see how often we do things or say things to gain favor or avoid consequences or punishment, how often our fear of man rules our choices. We will also bring to light the truth that our efforts to meet or maintain a moral standard, a life of integrity, miss the point. His interest is not in the letter of the law or doctrine, but rather in the spirit of it.


We don’t throw those standards out the window, but a transformation of our heart to wholeness and holiness is the only thing that can bring us to living by love as the Lord does (along with the other higher laws that were central to his life). Once it is woven into the fabric of our being, it is what allows us to love Him and serve Him above our desire to please others. And that is evidence we are set apart.


The work on the cross and our acceptance of the Lord’s grace means He now lives in us. That doesn’t mean we are perfect, but it does accomplish something we could not do otherwise:


What is crucial here is this: now we have an option. Without the cross, sin would simply rule in us and over us unchallenged. The hope of genuine goodness could never be ours. But because of the work of Christ for us and in us, we now have the possibility of living a life filled with the captivating goodness of Jesus.”  

John Eldredge


God knew what it would take to get to the heart of the matter − our hearts. No amount of animal sacrifice or ritual could accomplish what we needed to be reconciled to Him who was wholly pure, good, and holy.


What is the paradox of living in God’s presence? 


Living in the presence of our holy God is living in pure goodness, but we cannot forget it becomes dangerous if we rebel or insult God’s holiness.