Monthly Archives: April 2022

“You Know What’s Right With You?”

You can really gut someone by asking, “You know what’s wrong with you?” Especially if you’ve got a ready-made list to lay on them when they shrug in response. For fun, I’ll sometimes queue up a compliment for my wife by asking the opposite, “You know what’s right with you?” Then I’ll pick something from the rather long list of options to share with her.

Although I haven’t ever actually asked it of one, I think it’s good to ask this about Muslims. For instance, something right with my friend Issa is that he had the courage to challenge me to fast for a day during Ramadan last year. I appreciated that!

Given there are a couple billion Muslims, it’s tough to lay out too many blanket “right with you” statements that cover the whole lot. I think we can all agree with this one, though: Muslims bear the image of God.

In a beautiful, brief article called 10 Principles for Muslim-Christian Relations, Trevor Castor, the director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies, says:

All Muslims, including Muhammad, are image-bearers and therefore have inherent value and the potential to reflect God’s character and glory (Gen. 1:26-28). We should consider our interactions with Muslims (or any human) as a divine encounter. Your speech and actions are an opportunity to demonstrate Christ both in and through you. We should avoid the temptation to curse any image-bearer with the same tongue that we praise whose image they bear (James 3:9). 

Castor goes on to exhort us to, “Spend more time seeking the image of God and less time seeking where the image might be distorted.”

I think Jesus was a master of this perspective. In fact, he was probably doing just this when the  Pharisees busted his chops for “eat(ing) and drink(ing) with tax collectors and sinners” at Levi’s house in Luke chapter 5.

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How to Slip Out of the Sad Gap 😕

Hank Green, of the crazy popular Vlogbrothers, put words to an experience with which I’m quite familiar. He said the nature of media and the proliferation of access in our days brings to our attention so many troubling situations. Think: Ukraine, Covid, inflation, political polarization, and the all too frequent fall of Christian leaders. Hank says we learn about these, but have very little we can do by way of response. He calls the space between knowledge and inability to fix a situation the Sad Gap. I feel it. Don’t you?

In his response video, Hank’s brother John suggests one way to survive the Sad Gap is to prioritize. I’m honored that you prioritize Muslims enough to read this. (And probably so much more.)

Laylatul Qadr, a potentially sad gap inciting event, takes place next Thursday, April 28th. This “Night of Power” is in many ways the climax of Ramadan. Read more about it here.

I feel the sad gap because so many Muslims will seek forgiveness this night, but so few have had opportunity to consider the claims of Jesus. The Night of Power also reminds me that we live in a world in which we cannot necessarily see everything that is real. Spiritual stuff, for good and ill, will go down next Thursday.

What can we do?

Fill the Night of Power sad gap:

  1. Talk to Muslim friends. Ask them what they’re hoping and praying for this night. Ask them for stories they’ve heard of what happens on the Laylatul Qadr.
  2. Pray for Muslims all over. Watch this short John Piper clip to remind yourself prayer matters. Ask for dreams, visions of Jesus, and kingdom welcome.
  3. Download the “Night of Power Prayer Points.” Share it with your friends and church.

By God’s grace may you and I honestly assess the sad gap, receive God’s direction and power and move through it.

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Holy Day Hat Trick ✡️ ✝️ ☪️

Something unusual happens tomorrow. As Christians around the world commemorate Good Friday, Jews begin the Passover celebration. At the same time Muslims are mid-way through their Ramadan fasting.

Maybe this is just interesting. I don’t know. It hasn’t happened in 30 years. But maybe it does call for special attention. If you live in Jerusalem, regardless of your religious affiliation, I wouldn’t blame you for being a little nervous. It’s not a big leap of logic to imagine wackos who’d like to perpetrate evil on an auspicious day.

Here’s my hope for the holy day hat trick: That God would restrain evil, release revelation and reinvigorate commitment to loving Him and loving people among all who trace their faith lineage to Abraham.

Prayer for Jews
Adonai, may the sons and daughters of Jacob, those in Israel and elsewhere find the Exodus freedom they desire. May you liberate them from sin and cycles of hatred. In the absence of worldly security, give them the shalom they seek in your loving arms.

Prayer for Christians
Father, help us, along with our sisters and brothers around the globe, to humbly recognize we’d have likely called for Jesus’s execution. Give us the faith, hope and perseverance to see his death and resurrection bringing about the reconciliation of all things. Help us to love our older and younger cousins in the way that Jesus did and does.

Prayer for Muslims
Allah, as Muslims deny themselves pleasure and devote themselves to holiness, please meet them and answer their prayers. Keep zeal from morphing into violence. Enable many to honestly consider the claims of Christ and in doing so find the abundant life he came to bring.

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Simple, Practical, Beautiful Ramadan Response 🌙

Jesus endorsed prayer when he said, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” He modeled action when he touched a leper, dined with baddies, and exorcised a demon from a foreigner’s kid.

Both praying and doing are part of our normal life with Jesus.

Sometimes it’s easier to pray. At a distance. On a comfortable couch. In his fascinating and often overlooked book on prayer, Letters to Malcom, C.S. Lewis asserts, “It is much easier to pray for a bore than to go visit him.” Isn’t that the truth?

I just finished the challenging book, “Same Kind of Different As Me.” I can’t vouch for the movie yet, but the book pushed me to complement prayer with actually doing something for homeless people in my town.

Maybe you want to add action to your prayers for Muslims, particularly so during Ramadan, particularly for upwards of a hundred thousand Afghans spending their first Ramadan in the U.S. I know I do.

Here’s a simple, beautiful idea that landed in my email box this morning from Fouad Masri at Crescent Project: Ramadan Blessing Kits. You put a simple list of Ramadan related items, including a Gospel of John you can get for free from Crescent Project, in a bag or box and deliver it to your Muslim friend.

They also provide a winsome, printable note you can sign and include. I love this!

If you’re pretty sure you don’t have anyone to give something like that to, you can join me in sending some money to Crescent Project to help them send the Gospel of John free of charge.

Either way, may God bless and multiply this effort in such a way that leads to more abundant life for many Afghans, other Muslims and you and me.

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