A Better Book for Understanding Islam

seeking allah finding jesusDylan was right. “The times they are a changin’.” One change is that Muslims now make up about 1% of the US population—about 3.3 million people. That number is expected to double by 2050. More and more, our neighbors and coworkers, will be Muslims. Will they be our friends as well? What are we doing to reach out to this growing minority?

In an effort to better understand a Muslim worldview, I’ve been reading a series of books on Islam.  Ignorance breeds fear and misunderstanding. I recently wrote about one book, Wholly Different, by Nonie Darwish, that I found informative but largely lacking in love and compassion. Well, the book I just finished is filled with love and compassion. If I had to recommend one book on the subject, this would be it! And it’s not just me—Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus won the Christian Book Award for both “Best New Author” and “Best Non-Fiction” of 2015.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is one man’s story. Born in the US to Pakistani immigrants and raised both here and in Scotland, Nabeel Qureshi grew up in a loving and close-knit family of devout Muslims. As Ahmadis, a lesser-known Muslim sect, his family clearly sees Islam as a religion of peace and kindness. This is a very different perspective from the one described by Darwish in her book—in fact, they’re almost polar opposites! Continue reading

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Is Outrage a Christian Value?

bernardino_mei_italian_sienese_-_christ_cleansing_the_temple_-_google_art_projectIs outrage a Christian value? Maybe it depends on what we’re outraged about. In the current political climate, it seems the entire nation is outraged—or at least a very vocal portion. I’ve seen post after post urging us to “stay outraged” until things go our way. But is outrage a good thing? When is outrage appropriate?

It depends on what we mean by outrage. So that we’re all on the same page, let’s see how the dictionary defines it:

  1. An act of wanton cruelty or violence; any gross violation of law or decency.
  2. Anything that strongly offends, insults, or affronts the feelings.
  3. A powerful feeling of resentment or anger aroused by something perceived as an injury, insult, or injustice.

Synonyms include: indignation, fury, anger, rage, disapproval, wrath, and resentment.

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Making the Holidays Meaningful

As the holidays approach, we’re all trying to find True Meaning amid the spending and the gathering, the sugar highs and exhausted lows. I had been thinking about the coming Christmas season when I received this little list from a well-meaning friend. These are all good things, no doubt. But as I read the list, that annoying little red flag started waving at me. Will they truly make Christmas more meaningful? I hate to bah humbug, but there are some assumptions made here that I take issue with.

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Where is the Love?

A friend of mine “helpfully” posted this article on Facebook. It’s from an organization called The Christian Left. The first paragraph reads:

An epic deception has taken place over the last 35 years. Purveyors of deceit have managed to equate Christianity and right-wing ideology as one and the same in the majority of Christian minds. We know the history, but how this ever happened is unfathomable to us because the two things could not be more opposed. Right-wing ideology is selfish, greedy, arrogant, vengeful, loud, pushy, judgmental, exclusive, controlling, militaristic, aloof, void of empathy, hostile towards the weak and the sick, and many times racist, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamophobic. The list goes on. Does that sound like Jesus?

The writer went on to accuse the “Christian right” of brainwashing, false teachings, and shaming. (And then they asked for donations.)

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Taken Up with Jesus (part 3)

rapture 4-001In previous two posts I’ve explained what I believe, or don’t believe, about the rapture. But why even talk about it—whether or not there’ll be a rapture? After all, our human interpretation of scripture won’t change God’s plans. Either the church will be raptured or it won’t. My opinion doesn’t change the truth.

However, our theology has repercussions. We will act differently depending on what we believe. Therefore, I need to ask, what is the fruit of our view on the rapture? Does it draw us closer to God? Does it make us more loving, more compassionate, more like Jesus?

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Taken Up with Jesus (part 2)

raptureAs I mentioned last week, a sermon at church has me thinking a lot about the doctrine of the rapture. Whenever any church controversy arises, my first response is to see what God has to say about it. I started by rereading Revelation, specifically noticing the many references to believers living in the time of the Great Tribulation. There were many—see Revelation 6:11, 7:3, 7:9-15, 11:1-12, 12:17, 14:12-13, and 20:4-6.  I also looked for verses about God taking the church out of the world before or during the tribulation. I couldn’t find any.

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