Monthly Archives: May 2020

Starving to the Finish Line!

Got plans for the weekend? Me neither! But Muslims around the world do: This Saturday marks the end of Ramadan, and the beginning of Eid al -Fitr, a usually happy celebration that will be severely muted this year.

Think with me for a minute about the emotion that might accompany these milestones:

Relief at getting back to normal life, getting to eat and drink again when you like. Sadness at the passing of an intense family and spiritual season. Pride at having succeeded in the fast or secret guilt for failing privately while the community assumes you succeeded.

Add to that the sense of loss that comes with being denied the celebration that’s usually the highlight of the year. It’s harsh. A friend in the Middle East told me this morning that their government plans to enforce a strict lockdown, to inhibit the normal visiting that accompanies Eid. (Imagine celebrating Christmas without leaving your home.)

I’d like us, the Muslim Connect tribe, to do two things in light of the end of Ramadan and the semi-empty Eid:

1. Pray. Ask God to fill in the gaps with grace, to pour out joy for sadness, and invite Muslims all over to find the life Jesus came to bring.

2. Share Eid greetings on social media. Like virtual Christmas or birthday cards, wish your Muslim friends, and the global ummah in general, a Happy Eid.

You could make your own greetings, of course. In case it might help out, I’ve made four you can choose from. Simply copy or save one or more of these images and post them on your social media feeds this weekend.

Use the last one only with friends who you think could use a little levity!

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Zondervan Publishes a Quran!

What is this world coming to when the quintessential Christian publisher releases a new edition of the Quran?!? Can a virtual conference on Chrislam be next? Maybe a romance series in which Amish girls run off with Sheiks? Oh my!

Unless this is your first edition of Muslim Connect (In which case, please don’t unsubscribe yet!), you’ll guess that I probably think this is a good idea. Also, that I’m probably teasing a little bit.

You’re right on both counts:

  1. Teasing: It’s not just a Quran, but also includes Christian commentary.
  2. Good idea: I’m thankful that Gordon Nickel, who I really wish was my friend, authored, “The Quran with Christian Commentary: A Guide to Understanding the Scripture of Islam” and that Zondervan published it. We need really smart people, who’ve lived long years with Muslims, to help the rest of us see past our fears and ignorance.

The book was just released two weeks ago, so I haven’t read it. The blurb at Amazon describes it as, “Factual, respectful of Muslims, and insightful on issues about which Muslims and Christians disagree, The Quran with Christian Commentary equips Christians to interact more fruitfully with Muslim believers.” That one sentence makes me want this book really badly!

It also includes an amazing set of expert-written articles including, Son of God in the Quran, Women in the Quran, and Jihad in the Quran.

In a similar vein to The Quran with Christian Commentary, a Muslim friend from Facebook, Safi Kaskas published a translation of the Quran with references to the Bible. Safi is a wise diplomat for followers of Islam and Jesus. His Quran has so many footnotes and references to the Bible, there may be more Bible than Quran in it!

I’m glad God is at work to help Muslims and Christians understand each other. May these books and similar efforts equip us to join in His work. And may Jesus be lifted up all over the place!

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Got Quiz Skills? Try These. . .

Odds are you’re more spiritual than I am and correspondingly less competitive. But if there’s a little bit of “bet I can beat you” in your dear soul, this might be fun!

A couple of days ago my friend and head of Peace Catalyst International, Martin Brooks, linked to an online quiz about Ramadan.

Part of my competitiveness is manifest in a tendency to quickly engage with things I think I might win, areas in which I have some experience or aptitude.

So, as you’d guess, I jumped right on the quiz Martin linked. It was short, quick and interesting. I landed a respectable, but disappointing B+.

We’re mid-way through this year’s Ramadan. By way of encouraging us all to continue praying for Muslims during this important time, here’s the quiz. If you don’t mind, let us know how you did here.

If that quiz gets you in the mood for more, try these two:

Pew Research has a more challenging offering. I scored 8 out of 12 on it. The quiz serves as a gateway to taking their four-lesson, email-based short course on Islam. I signed up for it. Going for an “A” next time!

Finally, not for the faint of heart, has multiple quizzes for multiple student levels. They might be the rough equivalent of AWANA or other Bible quizzes for Christians. Without getting too specific, they ate my lunch! But it’s interesting to consider what jr. and sr. high school Muslims are expected to know when they quiz about their faith.

You and I knowing about Muslims is not the main thing. Knowing doesn’t mean beans. It’s doing, and that primarily in the form of loving, that floats the boat. And one good way to love Muslims as they fast this Ramadan is to pray for them to find life in Jesus. (Tweet this.)

Grab a one page Ramadan prayer guide here and watch some beautiful prayer videos here


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Cool New Quarantine Game

I’ve got an idea for a fun game we can all play while we’re stuck at home: Go to this Facebook group and compete for who’s done the worst stuff, who’s done bad stuff the most times and who’s felt the most regret for the former two categories.

Of course, Paul gets automatic first place. He said a long time ago, “This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them.”

Have you recently felt the saving warmth and relief of God’s forgiveness? Maybe it came through a spouse or close friend. Maybe it came straight from Heaven in the strong arm of God wrapped tight around the shoulder of your soul.

One of the dear gifts of our faith is calm assurance that the things we’ve screwed up, however gloriously, are no longer held against us. We are not responsible to pay off with good deeds what we failed to do right in the first place. What a relief.

But what if you don’t feel that relief? It’s not always automatic, is it? If you struggle to feel forgiven, you may have a sense of what many Muslims face during this fasting month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a time for increased prayer, repentance and seeking forgiveness. The Quran says, “Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’” (Surah Zumar: 53) Even so many Muslims don’t feel forgiven and fear their final standing before God.

Please pray with me for the next three weeks of Ramadan that Muslims all over will find assurance of God’s forgiveness through the work of Jesus. Download this one-page prayer guide or find amazing videos and prayer direction at PrayerCast.

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