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“Come with Me and Ask Forgiveness. . .”

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In her wonderful new book, Across the Street and Around the World, my friend Jeannie Marie tells an amazing story:

“I had never met a Muslim before this moment. I’d left the suburbs and driven into the city on a personal quest: to practice global compassion in my local context. I swallowed hard and dragged myself into the modest refugee resettlement office.” 

After brief introductions, the administrator, Ayisha, asked Jeanne why she was there.

“Someone told me that Iraqi refugees were coming to Phoenix. So I looked it up online and found your name. It sounded Muslim. I thought it would be good for me to actually meet a Muslim. You also said on the phone that you’re helping refugees, so I thought, well, maybe I could help somehow.” 

“Yes,” Ayisha said. “You can help.” 

Jeannie imagined collecting food or clothing, distributing it into the grateful hands of refugees. Everyone would smile at each other. . .and then they’d all go home.

“Instead, Ayisha said, ‘I just met a young widow with three small children, who arrived last month from Iraq as a refugee. If all that you are saying is true, then I would like you to come with me to her apartment tomorrow.’ She paused before continuing. ‘American soldiers accidentally killed her husband. I would like you to come with me and ask forgiveness for the American people.’”

Serious stuff, eh? Can you put yourself in Jeannie’s shoes? What would you think about this request? How would you answer Ayisha? What would you do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’d like to know what Jeannie Marie did, pre-order her book here. If you do so now, you’ll get the first three chapters of the book in PDF format, 20% of the audio book, a phone lock-screen set and an exclusive bonus chapter. I’d love for you to get this important new book. Please check it out.

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What if a Muslim Does Something Right?

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I had a troubling chat at church last week. A good guy I’d never met before, who’s recovering from a stroke, told me some of his story, including a move the day before. He shared with gratitude and delight how the local Mormon church had rallied to help him and his wife, “They brought trucks, a bunch of people. It was great. Within a few hours everything was out of the old place and into the new one.”

Well, yay for this guy. But this kind of bugged me and I’m not sure why. I don’t think it’s because our church should have done the helping and we dropped the ball. We didn’t know they were moving.

I’m concerned that I just don’t want Mormons doing good things because I have them in a category of “people who don’t believe correctly.” So what happens when people who don’t believe correctly actually act correctly? Should we celebrate it? Or is it maybe a risky thing because others might be drawn into their incorrect beliefs?

I think maybe we do this with Muslims too. You probably saw on the news last week that a young Muslim man near Paris stabbed his mom and a sister to death. This is evil. It also fits in with a general narrative that Muslims do that kind of thing. What didn’t make headlines here was the Eid Al Adha related contributions of maybe thousands of Muslims to flood victims in Kerala. There are other reasons, to be sure, but I wonder if we don’t see what doesn’t fit our narrative.

Do I feel the same dissonance when a Muslim does something good. If they’re wrong, can they do something right?

You may have some helpful thoughts on this. If you can spare a minute to comment below, the rest of us would like to hear them.

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Everyone Has Fun But the Goat

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What would you be doing if Christmas were three days away? Muslims are doing many of those same things right now in preparation for Eid al Adha, the biggest celebration of the Islamic year. While they’re not setting up the Nativity Scene and scheduling people to play Mary, they may be buying a goat!

By killing, sharing and eating the goat, Muslims commemorate God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his son and God’s provision of a ram in the son’s place. The Bible says “Isaac,” while the Quran simply says, “son.” Muslims assume it was Ishmael.

Unless you’re the goat, Eid al Adha, which happens Monday and Tuesday, is a festive time of fun and family celebration. Special prayers are offered, gifts are given and families gather to eat and enjoy each other’s company.

If you’ve been wondering how to initiate something with a Muslim co-worker, class mate or neighbor, now is a perfect time. Here are three simple ways to connect:

  1. Greet them by saying, “Eid Mubarak!” (eed mooBARuk) This means “blessed feast,” or pretty much, “happy holiday,” and is a common greeting for Eid al Adha.
  2. Give a small gift. Flowers or chocolates work. Just something that acknowledges this is an important event.
  3. Ask how the holiday is celebrated in their family, and if they’re from somewhere else, in their homeland.

If you have a deepening friendship with a Muslim, this Eid al Adha might provide a good chance to delve a little deeper into the idea of sacrifice. The provision of God in Jesus is such a core idea for Christians and foreign to many Muslims. Grab Fouad Masri’s, Adha in the Injeel on Kindle for insight and conversation points.

Thank you for reading Muslim Connect. If you enjoy it, please share it with a friend.

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Bosspitality

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Hospitality is a good thing, right? God pushes it pretty hard in the Old Testament, Jesus modeled receiving and giving it, and both Paul and Peter are big fans.

But what if you’re a dude? Hospitality is pretty much a feminine art, isn’t it? It has that vibe: well put together, winsome and smelling nice. While it’s good to honor the unique and wonderful ways women practice hospitality, guys probably can’t just abdicate.

If you’re like me (or the hubs is) and you don’t know where the fork(s) go, what wine pairs with jalapeño cheddar brats, and you’re last soiree simply sucked, here’s hope:

Bosspitality: When guys crack the door to their lives open to other guys. It’s hospitality that smells like hot oil and meat rather than cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s not better, but it’s a little different.

Imagine God is nudging you to extend a welcome to a Muslim co-worker, an international student or maybe just a new guy on the block, here’re some possibilities:

  • Top Golf. This is better than real golf for people like me because you’re not chasing your ball into the woods or across a highway. I can play nine holes real golf and only be in talking range of my foursome for four minutes!
  • Disc Golf. Super cheap, but the downside is that many cultures don’t have frisbees. If you really need to win, pick this!
  • Tomahawk throwing. This is a thing! I can imagine some Muslim friends thinking, “The American movies I grew up with are true!”
  • Fishing. Lots of good talk time.
  • Driving lessons. Sometimes this is a legit need for new comers. Heads up though, it might spike your blood pressure because you can’t yell at a refugee like you did your kids! (Was that really just me?!?)
  • Sporting Events, live or televised. Snacks aplenty and built in conversation starters!

Can you help me lengthen this list? I’d love to hear your ideas and experience. Comment below.

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Extinguish Hell and Burn Down Paradise

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If you’re like me, you probably don’t expect renowned Islamic scholars to be women. But a friend recently told me about one named Rabia, who lived from 717–801AD and is considered one of the foremost Sufi saints.

Rabia said something which has had me thinking since I heard it, “I want to put out the fires of Hell, and burn down the rewards of Paradise. They block the way to God. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simply for the love of God.”

Whoa! Is that me? You? Should it be?

Would I still follow God (to whatever degree I actually do now!) if I was not concerned about avoiding the horrors of Hell or eagerly hoping to gain the restful joys of Heaven? And in what way, if any, is my honest response to this question indicative of my character and spiritual maturity?

C.S. Lewis reminds us of “the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels,” and wonders if, “ Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.”

I certainly don’t want to go to Hell and I definitely look forward to the joys of Heaven. But in my heart, I want to desire God above all, desire God more than avoiding Hell, more than enjoying Heaven, desire God principally because of the greatness and love of God. This is what I appreciate about Rabia’s bold declaration: It moves God to the center, to his proper preeminence. I often need that reminder.

Would you share your thoughts on this? You’ve likely considered ideas and aspects that have not entered my mind yet. Thanks for the challenging thought, Rabia. May Muslims and Christians all over give it fresh consideration.

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Running on Empty

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Please see the special note at the end of this email. 

Ever feel like you’re running dry? You know, a little ding breaks in on your reverie and it’s the low fuel light. Then you remember seeing a sign a couple minutes back that the next gas is 40 miles down the interstate? Just for example, not that this has ever happened to me!

It’s hard to love Muslims. Heck, it’s pretty hard to love people pretty much like you. Step across the divide of language, culture, religion and it gets tough, draining. The weight of our flesh and our culture lean heavily on us.

If you’ve ever thought, “I’m tired of caring for these people,” whoever “these” are for you, I get it. I’m with you. Actually, we’re all in this together. It’s hard. . . but there is some hope. (Tweet this.)

Paul asks his friends in I Corinthians 4.7, “What do you have that God hasn’t given you?” It’s a humbling, but easy question, isn’t it? Nothing. So what we give to others, what we give to God, comes out of a storehouse of what we’ve been given.

If we’re tired and feel like we’ve nothing to give, we can ask for more. “Dad, I’m empty. I’m skint. Give me the love you want passed on to the people you’ve brought into my life.” It’s his project before it was ever ours, right?

The refill might not come instantly or simply. But remember with me that we can only give out what God has poured in. And be reminded with me, that this God we serve, oh man, is he rich and generous, loves his kids so much. And he is dead set on his purposes to bring life to all the families of the earth.

If you could use a refill, and would like me to join you in prayer for that, I’d be happy to. Shoot me an email and let me know.
 

Special Note: Muslim Connect is free. Always has been. Always will be. But twice a year I invite you to participate by donating to offset the costs and push it forward to more people. Together we can encourage many, inform some, and by God’s grace, invite Muslims to enjoy the abundant life Jesus offers. If you find value in Muslim Connect and would like to see it go forward, please make a gift here. As a thank you, if you’ll let me know you gave, I’ll send you a brand new, sharable infographic called, Making Sense of the Muslim World. Thank you.

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Ramadan Ends. World Cup Begins.

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Please see the special note at the end of this post. 

GOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!!

Two huge events for many Muslims take place today:

Ramadan ends and the World Cup begins. Can’t you just feel the religious fervor swirling around both of these?

For Muslims who’ve truly fasted this past month, arriving at the end of Ramadan is a big deal. They’ve reached a significant goal and look forward to celebrating the end of the fast. If you know any Muslims, this is a great time to wish them well. If you have sufficient relationship, ask them how it went and how they’ve been affected by the month of fasting. Affirm what you can and share their joy.

If celebrating the end of the fast weren’t enough to launch a great weekend, today also marks the beginning of the World Cup. Six Muslim majority nations will be playing: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia. Maybe, just maybe, this is a chance for some good news from the Muslim world. It certainly is a good chance for us to hang out with some Muslim friends. Bonus points if you show up to watch a match bearing halal snacks!

I think a Muslim Connect World Cup Contest is in order! Guess which Muslim nation team will advance the farthest. I’ll pick a random name from those who guess correctly and send you a $10 Amazon certificate. List your name and choice in the comments below or on Facebook by June 20th.

May God find us rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn!

Special Note: The Muslim Connect email and blog is free. Always has been. Always will be. But twice a year I invite you to participate in this effort by making a contribution to offset the costs and push it forward to more people. Together we can encourage many, inform some, and by God’s grace invite Muslims to enjoy the abundant life Jesus offers. If you’re finding value in Muslim Connect and would like to see it go forward, please make a gift here. Thank you very much.

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