Monthly Archives: April 2017

Three Things to Tell Your Kids About Muslims

Adobe Spark (26)A friend asked me to talk to some rowdy, smelly, lovely church kids recently. It didn’t take long to discover I’m not very good at that. Luckily I also found that if I posed a couple of questions, the crazy kids actually preferred their talking to mine!

I asked them if they had any Muslim friends and what they know about Muslims. Some answers were startling. A sweet little hand shot up, “Muslims worship a false god,” then amended, “Muslims worship the devil.”

This has made me think two things: One, I hope no one is asking my kids these questions! And two, what should we teach our kids about Muslims?

It’s tricky. You want to be honest, but calming. Accurate, but sensitive to minds that can’t appreciate the complexities of political will conflated with religious rhetoric. (Like we even understand that!)

I think we can agree: We bear responsibility to train our kids to think and act like Jesus relative to Muslims. [Tweet this]

Here are three things we can tell them:

  1. Some Muslims have done some terrible things, but almost all of them don’t do things like that.
  2. God loves little Muslims kids just like he loves little Christian kids: Big time! Deep and long and wide and he wants them to have great lives now and forever. [Tweet this]
  3. You don’t have to be afraid of Muslims. Almost every Muslim you’ll ever meet would rather be your friend than your enemy. And if you bump into someone who wants to be your enemy, Muslim, Christian or Martian, God’s got your back.

By God’s grace, may our kids do better than us. May they love deeper, with action and authority, courage and kindness. May they share the life of Jesus you’ve shared with them with many people everywhere.

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Vigilante Hospitality? Is that even a thing?

Adobe Spark (21)

Yesterday was my birthday. I was reminiscing and recalled a dinner years ago in India at the home of a lovely Muslim family our group had befriended.

As soon as we sat, drinks appeared, followed by bowls, plates, platters and baskets, filled with yummy delicacies. I was hungry and partook freely! We laughed, talked, asked questions, learned and ate more, until we were stuffed, both mind and body.

At this point, our host, Uncle Fahrid, boomed, “Clear away the snacks! Bring dinner!” Had there been room, my heart would have sunk! “Dinner? What have we been having? Ack! Unless ‘dinner’ is kale chips, I’m in trouble.” It wasn’t: Rice, yogurt, vegetables, bread, all surrounding a huge mutton curry.

Plates were piled high. I timidly tucked in, immediately spreading food out to look like I’d eaten more than I had. Sitting next to me and seeing my slowness, Uncle Fahrid questioned, “What? Is the food not good?”

“It’s wonderful,” I honestly replied, poking more in. He beamed and deposited another huge chunk of mutton on my plate!

As I contemplated my inability to even begin to eat this, he stepped away to the kitchen. Opportunity! I drove my fork deep into the mutton and with ninja-deftness, plopped it onto his plate! He returned and continued eating unaware!

I won the battle, but lost the war. Staggering home that evening, my tummy hurt more than it ever has in India!

“Vigilante Hospitality” we called it. It’s one of the things I love in most Muslim cultures. I don’t understand all that’s behind it, but know I could learn a thing or two. [Tweet this

Tummy aches aside, vigilante hospitality is a hidden benefit of befriending Muslims. Better plan to run extra miles or buy bigger pants!

Know someone who’d like some good news about Muslims? Please forward this to them.

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Would it be good for someone like you to pray for a Muslim?

Adobe Spark (20)As I levered out a killer piece of concrete from the yard, I felt rising gratitude for simple machines. You know:  wheels, pulleys, levers, inclined planes, wedges and screws. And more gratefulness when a lever and wheel combo, in the form of a dolly, let me move heavy boxes of cabinets parts from the garage to the house where my rock star wife assembled them! Simple, elegant, essential. (Both the machines and the wife!)

Kind of like prayer. Uncomplicated, powerful, effective.

Have you ever prayed for a Muslim? Put your hand on her shoulder and asked an all powerful God to help her with her problems, ease her pain, comfort her fear? I have, but much less than I may’ve. One of the best ways to love Muslims like Jesus does is to pray for them. [tweet this

Personal experience, and confirmation from others, says most Muslims are happy to have a Christian pray for them. Many believe that Jesus healed the sick, drove out demons and raised the dead. And who among us, Muslim or Christian, couldn’t use some of that occasionally?!

If in-person, out-loud prayer pushes you too much right now, no worries. Start praying with this in the privacy of your home and build capacity.

When you do pray for a Muslim, aim to bless them. When it’s appropriate (And it is more often than we think!), simply ask, “Can I pray for you now?” Pray Jesus-centered prayers, listen for the Holy Spirit’s leading, and realize we share a common humility before an all-powerful God. [tweet this

As we celebrate Easter, remember, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.” Let that reality encourage our hearts and empower our prayers.

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We Agree That Jesus Lives

Adobe Spark (18)

Most of us are pretty much normal, right? I figure I am and assume you are. Yesterday I met a guy who definitely wasn’t normal. Not abnormal like he can whistle out his ear or throw a baseball with his foot. Rather he’s a middle-aged Israeli-American, born in the homeland, raised in New York City, of a Jewish mom and an Catholic Arab dad. His name is Isa and he works at an MCL Cafeteria in suburban Ohio! His life could be five legit short stories and a made-for-tv movie! On top of all this he is warm and friendly. You know, in an Jewish-Israeli-Arab-Catholic-Bronx Midwest way!

As you might guess, Isa’s religious outlook rings with, “Why can’t we all just get along?” (I imagine Eastorkippor being celebrated in his house!)

Issues ancient and complex often keep Muslims and Christians from “just getting along.” But this week can I remind you of something about which we agree: Jesus is alive. [click to tweet]

In the midst of all the things that separate us: theology, culture, language, fear, issues both real and fabricated, we find common ground in the conviction that Jesus lives. I love that. Over half the planet thinks Jesus is alive. Muslims and Christians are not completely at odds with one another.

Since the Quran teaches that Jesus didn’t die, our Muslim friends likely won’t join us this Easter in declaring, “Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed!” Even so we do have a common place from which to begin conversations about Jesus. And I figure the more normal it is for us to talk about Jesus, the more he gets talked about. And hopefully, the more he gets talked about, the more he gets loved and followed.

Quick idea: Would this work in your bulletin or church newsletter this Easter? Please pass it along to the appropriate person!

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