That crazy stuff Jesus did!

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Have you ever wanted to do the stuff Jesus did? Some of the crazy stuff? What would it be like to make a whip of cords and thrash your church?!? (Well, that church you used to go to!)

One of the things Jesus often did is available to us with limited risk of failure and high likelihood of success. Jesus talked to people who didn’t look, act, smell, talk or think like him. Sometimes they were brought to him. Think the woman caught in adultery. Other times he went after them, eg. Zacchaeus. And then there were times like Matthew’s shindig when Jesus chose to attend events he knew would gather a bunch of folks who aspiring young rabbis usually didn’t hang with.

People like us can do stuff like that, particularly with Muslims.

These three things affect how likely we are to engage with Muslims we don’t already know.

  1. Personality: If it deeply scares the bejeebers out of you to think about talking to someone you don’t know, cut yourself some slack. God’s main goal is not to make you something you’re not. He made you! And my main goal is not, “Let’s see how uncomfortable I can make them before they unsubscribe!!”
  2. Attitude: Maybe read through Romans 8 in the New Living Translation or listen to “Eye of the Tiger” really loud. Whatever gets you amped up! Then tell yourself, “I will not die if I talked to that guy! And if I come close to dying, at least I’ll have a good story!” (Tweet this.)
  3. Tactics: I think sometimes we’re hindered simply by not knowing what to say. The weight of social norms on one side, the absence of a good (pick up?) line on the other.

To help with number three, I want to develop a tool called the Muslim Connect “Hey there, Thank you, You’re welcome” Cheat Sheet. It will equip normal people like us to say those things in a couple dozen languages that Muslims tend to speak. It won’t solve everything, but it might give you a tool to open a conversation.

Here’s what I’d like to know from you: Would you be helped by something like this? What language(s) would you like to see? Is this something you’d be willing to pay for? If so, how much? $2? $5? If you can take a moment, please shoot me a quick email or just hit reply and let me know your thoughts. I’d really like to hear them.

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Troops in the Mosque (Not that kind!)

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Mention Girl Scouts around the U.S. this time of year and a healthy percentage of people will panic, “Is it too late to buy cookies?!?” (If you’re breathing just got rapid and shallow, do this: Go to, drop in your zip code and relax. They’re still for sale near you!)

As much as I like their cookies, I want to talk about actual girls scouts this week. Particularly the fact that lots of Muslim girls are members of this most illustrious organization. I had no idea.

I read an article recently about Troop 647 in Plano, Texas. This all-Muslim troop numbers 100 scouts and meets in a mosque. After they recite the Girl Scout Promise, they together say the first chapter of the Quran, the Fatiha.

The article goes on to say, “These Scouts are part of the growing number of mosque-based troops sprouting across the nation. Although there are under 500 girls in all-Muslim troops in Northeast Texas, many more are among the 25,000 Scouts in integrated troops throughout the region’s 32 counties.”

And at a recent meeting, the all-Muslim group hosted a sister troop whose girls were working on their “Finding Common Ground” badges. Through conversation and activities, the girls gained understanding of each other and learned how to negotiate differences and compromise.

As you might guess, this has me thinking. Here are some questions that come to mind:

  1. If you want to meet Muslims and you qualify to join Girls Scouts (or have little munchkins who do), you might possibly find some friends there.
  2. Are all-Muslim girl scout troops a good idea? While I can see some advantages, it also raises some questions.
  3. Do we really want Muslim girls to “build their confidence, develop their sense of self and celebrate who they are?” If that happens, more of them are going to run for Congress! 😉

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Making Fun With Muslims

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Please see the special note at the bottom of this week’s Muslim Connect. 

Since humor provides a unique understanding of culture, and Muslim Connect has been dreadfully serious for a couple of weeks, I’d like to point you to some places where you can laugh along with Muslims.

Khalid Al Ameri, @KhalidAlAmeri
Fair warning: If you click one of these links, you may not surface for a while, but you will be happier when you do! (This is also the answer to the question, “Why did Muslim Connect come out on Friday instead of Thursday this week?) Khalid and his wife Salama are Emiratis. They are charming, beautiful and funny. Their videos, which have multiple millions of views, show a warm and insightful side of Muslim life in Dubai and beyond. At one to three minutes long, it’s easy to eat a whole box!

Here are a couple of favs (Arab hand signs, Snow fight) and the whole list.

Nigar Nazar
Nazar is the preeminent cartoonist of Pakistan. Her popular character is Gogi, according to the BBC, “a progressive, educated Pakistani woman who wears polka-dotted dresses – and is loved by thousands around the world.” Nazar delivers her social commentary with a pleasant dose of cuteness.

Muslim Women Comedians
Because tastes and boundaries vary, let me just point you to this list. I can’t endorse all these comedians, but number 4, Maysoon Zayid is very funny and her TED talk is pretty clean. Here’s a briefer snippet, with one bad word.

If you have other examples of Muslims being funny, I’d love to hear them. Post them in the comments or shoot me an email. Thank you.

I appreciate that you trust me enough to read Muslim Connect. If you have any trust left over, please check out my friend, brilliant global researcher, Justin Long’s Roundup. It’s a weekly collection of amazing resources and insight. If Muslim Connect is a curveball on the corner of the plate, Roundup is the World Series! 

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When Christians Marry Muslims

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How would you feel if your child, born or not yet, grew up and married a Muslim? My friend, Jami Staples wrestles with this as she counsels Christians who have married Muslims and parents whose kids have or are considering it.

Here’s an excerpt from our recent conversation. You can read the full transcript here. Jami also highly recommends the article, “Considerations for Marrying a Muslim.”
Why has this become such a compelling issue for you, Jami?

. . .it exposes two profound realities: Women are not convinced of the identity given to them by a very good and loving God and they’re not at all convinced their Muslim friends need to know Jesus.

What do you tell someone when they ask, “Where is God in the midst of my daughter marrying a Muslim?”

Interestingly I don’t get that question a lot. Most parents. . . tend to punish themselves before they punish God. (They) say “I wish we’d talked more directly about how to choose her spouse” or “what did we do wrong?”  We need to remember she is making choices based on much more than what she’s been taught. She is making decisions on who she believes herself to be.

What unique motivations lead Christian women to marry Muslim men?

Well, that is the million dollar question, isn’t it? Despite what the modern feminist movement wants us to believe, women prefer to be cherished. Many Muslim men are raised in cultures which value beauty, language and hospitality. . . . Second, Muslims are not only permitted but encouraged to marry “women of the Book” (Christians and Jews). Finally, the discussions she is having with her Muslim friend about faith. . . quickly degrade to opinions rather than truths. When “love is all that matters” becomes the bottom floor, there’s no stairwell for truth.

What do you tell someone who’s already married to a Muslim?

. . . God is a God who sees you. He knows the desires of your heart, your good intentions and the circumstances you are in. He’s never left you. Meanwhile, pray for your husband. God is in his story too.

Thank you for reading Muslim Connect. If you’re an info-vore like me, please check out my friend, brilliant global researcher, Justin Long’s weekly Roundup. It’s a regularly amazing collection of resources and insight. If Muslim Connect is a pop tart, Roundup is the grocery! 

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Sober Words From the Good Don 🗡

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Every once in a while words echo back from history and smack me in the face. This week it was from beloved mentor-passed-on, C.S. Lewis, by way of K-Love radio. (Don’t judge me!)

In chapter seven of Mere Christianity, Lewis posits this (Be warned, the question conceals a dagger!):

“Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils.”

Flesh wound for you? Staple-worthy laceration? Stephen King levels of spurting blood?

I’m cut because I’m guilty. I don’t have a lot of enemies, but I relish my opponents looking bad. I want them pushed away, dehumanized. I don’t like it when I do this.

Neither do I like it when it’s done to Muslims. In the heady, early days of ISIS, do you remember reading, “Finally, they’re showing their hand. Finally we see them for what they are.” Did you hear it in your own head?

I have no right, and certainly no wish, to judge you, nor anyone for that matter. Neither am I scolding. But I want to examine and excise this thinking in my own life and invite you, to whatever degree the Holy Spirit points it out for you, to join me.

If Lewis is right, I want to get off the road to devil-hood and walk the way of Jesus.

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Escape The Deep Winter Darkness 🏝


Deep winter is upon us, at least those of us living northerly. The days are short, the nights long and if you don’t like the Super Bowl, there are no good holidays until Easter! In these sun-starved hours, maybe your thoughts drift to beaches, planning family vacations, and future fun (Should God show favor and you survive the winter.)

Let me paint a picture for you: Amazing food, beautiful, warm water, rich history, world class shopping, all wrapped up in a conservative society whose values would (mostly) make your Granny happy.

You’ve guessed this vacation destination by now, haven’t you? The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia!

KSA might not top your “gotta visit soon” list, but the Saudi government is hard at work to change that: developing luxury resorts, lifting the ban on cinema and now a soon-to-debut online visa!

What’s going on? Fire sale on oil? Yep. Better get a back up plan. Panicked PR move? Maybe. The Saudi government assassinated a salty journalist in Istanbul and is fighting a gruesome and unpopular war in Yemen. You can imagine back-room efforts to polish the image.

But the tourism push is also part of a broader effort by crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman to bring this most conservative of nations into the 20th Century. (Don’t rush them!) What does it mean for the heartland of Islam to move toward the modern world? Such soothsaying is way above my pay grade, but I’m hopeful.

On the off chance you’re not super-inclined to visit KSA, remember, Saudis are keen travelers themselves. There may be some in your town who’d enjoy sitting down to coffee with you. If that’s not likely, please join me in praying for Saudis, for the country, for their future. Something’s afoot and if I know God, he’s probably behind it.

Feeling feisty? If you’d like to be on a list to get an alert for a possible trip to KSA (seriously, nothing in the works right now!), shoot me an email.

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Sugar and Shame

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Do you like ethnic food? Me too. What with it being a subset of “food,” the odds were good! I’ve found though, with the exception of baklava, that desserts from other places seem so odd to me. Beans in ice cream, sweets named “barfi,” and pastries so sugary I can hardly eat more than four!

But you know they’re loved. People buy them and eat them and smile! What if they had some really good normal desserts, though? Don’t you think they’d love them more? Some pumpkin pie or a deep fried Oreo. Now you’re talking.

Hey, do you think they think our desserts are bad? Is that what they’re saying? That we don’t know what a good treat is? Hold on there, buddy.

Knowing something is real when it feels so foreign, so unlikely, can really stretch your brain. Knowing a Muslim encountering the Bible is more concerned with removing shame and restoring honor than admitting guilt and receiving forgiveness, feels like truth denied.

But what if God is ok with the way they see things, has in fact chosen to speak in words and ideas that connect deeply? Dr. Timothy Tennent writes, “The term guilt and its various derivatives occur 145 times in the Old Testament and 10 times in the New Testament, whereas the term shame and its derivatives occur nearly 300 times in the Old Testament and 45 times in the New Testament.”

As we consider this Shame/Honor paradigm, I want us to avoid two likely mistakes:
1. Thinking it’s subpar, not really the truth, beans in ice cream.
2. Assuming if a shame/honor paradigm is true and valid, then the way we see things is wrong or thought to be so.

These ideas are important, because the risk is high we’ll assume Muslims are cold to the things of God (“Resistant” has been the go to word.), when maybe they’ve been pitched an answer to a question they’re not asking. The good news of life in Jesus comes to them healing deep, but different, aches of the soul.

Learn more here. Next time we’ll kick around how shame/honor dynamics are affected when someone from a shame culture moves into (or grows up in) a guilt/innocence culture. If you’ve wrestled with this, I’d love to hear your thoughts

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