Monthly Archives: July 2019

Fear is a Liar. . . Usually!

Sometimes we should listen to our fears. They’re talking sense: “Keep eating potato chips at your current rate you’re going to die early and require an XL casket!”

Other times, not so much: “If I don’t forward that Facebook post all of my civil-rights will evaporate and a communist will be elected president!”

When it comes to Muslims, I assume a lot of people don’t really care. I get that. We all have lives and none of us can be concerned about everything. But I also feel like there’s a substantial amount of fear swirling around. Sometimes it manifests as anger, sometimes low-grade anxiety. I don’t want to judge that fear (well, usually not!), but I do want to understand it.

So honestly, what are we afraid of? What do you think? As you look around you, or even in your own heart, if you were to bullet point the fears you see relative to Muslims, what would be on your list? (Tweet this.)

Articulation seems like a good early step toward evaluation. And thoughtful evaluation should lead to wise action. I know I’m sometimes hindered from articulating my fears because, on closer inspection, the undesirable consequences may actually be worse than I’d thought. On the other hand, laying out my fears might demonstrate that I’ve been jumpy about shadows and vapors.

Either way, I’d love to hear from you: What specifically do you think you or others are afraid of when it comes to Muslims. If “fear” is too strong, maybe back it off a bit and talk about what concerns people. Feel free to email me your thoughts or simply put them in the comments here. Thank you for taking some valuable time to help us all.

I’ll be speaking about fear this weekend (July 28, 2019) at New Song Church in San Dimas, CA. If you’re in the neighborhood and can sneak out on your own church for one Sunday, I’d love to see you there! I’ve been assured there’ll be coffee and snacks!


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Books to Broaden Your Munchkins’ Minds

I wouldn’t trade my Indiana upbringing for anything. Although its homogeneity was only exceeded by its humidity, it profoundly shaped me. Maybe your kids are likewise growing up where everyone is the same color, speaks the same language and, more or less, serves the same God. Or maybe your neighborhood is changing, getting browner and more diverse in ways that shouldn’t, but do, feel a little scary.

Either way, don’t we want our kids and grandkids to grow up with the empathy and wisdom of God? I don’t care so much if they know the books of the Bible in order, but I do want them to love God and their neighbors like Jesus does.

If your littles are readers, here a few titles that will open wonderful doors in their minds. These come from a librarian friend who’s curating such books in part to prepare her charming little white Indiana town for the coming influx of Muslims. See her complete list here.

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan (picture book) Culture clash is a real thing! Rubina is going to her first-ever birthday party and her mother doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to bring her little sister. Misunderstandings abound and grace is required.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (middle school) Amina has never wanted the spotlight, but everything is changing since. . .her best friend is “Americanizing” and thinks Amina should too. When Amina’s mosque is vandalized, can she find the courage to speak up and stand up for what she believes?

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (teen) Darius has only known life in America, but for the first time he is going to Iran. Navigating the minefield of culture clash and his desire to make friends, Darius may just find out what it actually means to be “okay.”

I’d love to hear your suggestions. If you’d like to see what else is on my reading shelf, let’s connect at

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Muslims, Christians, Jews and Israel. Oh my!

I suppose I’ll never forget an evening long ago, walking the bustling, late-night streets of Irbid, Jordan where I was spending the summer. The temperature was perfect, shawarma smoke hung in the air and the combination of exotic and genial nearly burst my Hoosier heart.

“You’re from the United States,” a new friend asked as we conversed on the street.


“How many states in America?”

“Fifty,” I replied, pretty sure I was right but wondering where this was going.

My friend laughed, cuffed me on the shoulder and said, “And Israel is fifty-one?”

With that comment a fresh brick was shimmied down into the mortar of my mind, starting a whole new structure of thought: “These guys think this about us. Do we really act the way they think we act? Do we believe what they believe we do? Do I? What do I believe about these things and really, why do I believe that way?”

A powerful little quip, eh?

Muslims, Christians, Jews and Israel. There must be a bigger can of worms to open, but none comes to mind right now!

How do we think about the laundry list of issues bound up in this? And how does current Christian thinking affect our relationship with individual Muslim friends?

I think the assumption, at least in broader, American evangelical culture right now is this: As a Christian, I must support Israel in an absolute, condition-free way. This is what the Bible teaches. Since Muslims are the enemy of Israel, I must be opposed to Muslims. I can’t pray for the peace of Jerusalem and support Muslims at the same time.

If accurate, this is gravely troubling and I would love to hear your thoughts. What are the salient points in this debate? How are we to think and act? What does the Bible really say? What do Muslims really think? What should we read to help us navigate this?

Got some thoughts to share? Please do so below.


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What About The Kids?

I’m up to my ears in middle school kids this week, deep in the woods of southern Indiana. We have plenty of food and kool-aid, but please send wifi!

A fascinating phone call this morning and hanging out with these awesome little animals has me thinking: How can we prep kids to act like Jesus toward Muslims? Maybe we start with helping them act like Jesus to their moms! That would be appreciated!

But really, what can we do to build into kids at the earliest stages of their mental and spiritual development the habits of Jesus relative to Muslims? (Tweet this.)

I suppose a case can be made that in many areas today kids will grow up with Muslim kids in the neighborhood and will not necessarily see them so much as “others” like many of us do. This is good, right?

But are more kids growing up now than before with a conviction that as long as you believe in God or are spiritual or maybe just a good person, that’s what matters? This is a concern well above my pay grade, but it factors in. A strong current in our culture presses us, including the munchkins, to exalt nice overall.

Assuming smarter people than me (maybe you!?!) will get that figured out, I’d love to hear your ideas for building understanding, empathy and gutsy engagement into middle school kids and high schoolers. What kind of teaching has been, or needs to be, developed? What sort of modeling might work? What experiences could be built to connect younger Muslims and younger Christians?

How do we say, “I know your Uncle Bubba calls ‘em ‘towel heads,’ but you probably don’t want to do that,” in a way that helps, but doesn’t get the poor kid yelled at?

I’d deeply appreciate you sharing your thoughts here. Thank you.

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