Church Parking Lot Sign: “FOR MEMBERS ONLY. Tresspassers will be baptized.”
“Free Trip to Heaven… Details Inside!”
Commandments are inscribed and a headline that reads, “For fast, fast relief, take two
People are like tea bags-you have to put them in hot water before you know how strong
“Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church.”
“Looking at the way some people love, they ought to obtain eternal fire insurance soon.
Give God what’s right–, not what’s left!
When you get tired talking to your friends about God–, talk to God about your friends
I confess to not being frugal sometimes. Hi, my name is Scott and I’m a Convenience Store-aholic. That means instead of going the cheaper rout via the grocery store afflicted with long lines and longer waits to get a coke or a snack, I head for the local quickie. Ok, some of your minds are in the gutter right now. You can climb on out now. Well that’s what we called convenience stores/gas stations in Northwest Arkansas where I grew up. Ok, glad we got that straight.
My particular favorite Convenience Store is a BP where a guy named Ron works. I’m drawn to this particular one because their prices really are cheaper compared to most other gas stations and a guy named Ron with a magnetic personality works there. That’s right, you heard it correctly. And no, I’m not gay.
You see Ron may being missing a tooth or two and he may be a little overweight, and he probably has no or little education beyond High School, but the guy always has a great attitude. To the world, Ron really has nothing going for him. Its hard for me to understand. He works a dead end job and his appearance is definitely lacking at first glance. But he always greets you with a smile. He possesses an aura of positivity and fresh air. I just enjoy talking to the guy.
I’m fairly upfront with people. So I asked Ron what his secret was to being so, well, Ronish (positive and magnetic). He credits his great outlook on life to his grandmother. Evidently she was quite the disciplinarian, but I can tell by how Ron speaks of her, she truly spent time investing in and loving on him! Plus, Ron says, “What good does complaining and having a bad attitude do for me?” His answer, “…absolutely nothing.”
You see I’m guilty. When things are looking down for me and believe me, my problems are relatively miniscule to what many others face, I tend to have a bad attitude. I’m not the proverbial breath of fresh air during such times.
Of course, we need to grieve losses during tough times. We need to give our selves a pass when we’re not always seen as a ray of sunshine by others. But we need to realize that we’ve been given the gift of life. And we need to see the beauty in the small things. There is beauty even in the ugly or difficult things in life (Romans 8:28).
How do we do this? Well, we need to know that we are loved. Love is the highest law and purpose (1 John 4:8-20). That’s the key! I know that there are many people who’ve had very difficult, even tragic lives with little proof that anyone loves them. If you’re one of those people, you must know that there is someone who loves you… someone who cherished you so much that He gave his life for you. Will He discipline you when you’re going the wrong direction? Yes. Will he allow you to experience hard times? Yes, but only to draw you to Him, to shape and mold you or possibly so that your story of love against all odds might be a witness for Him to others. But He loves you with an eternal love. His name is Jesus!
My goal: To be magnetic even during hard times. Thank you Ron for being a tangible example. Thank you Jesus for loving me.
This is not meant to be inflammatory. Its a documentary where the producer follows the life of a fundamentalist Christian and a fundamentalist Muslim. Now I haven’t seen the documentary and I don’t know if the labels fundamentalist are true to either of the main character’s beliefs. However, the producer/director seems to have been impacted spiritually by it, at least more so than he originally thought. It seems very fascinating. Check out the link above on Christianity Today’s website for a description of the film and a trailer.
The Issue and the Contestants
Here in Murfreesboro, TN a muslim community has been given permission by the city council to build a 53K Islamic Center and Mosque. (See this article: http://www.dnj.com/article/20100805/NEWS05/8050325/Planners+asked+to+research+mosque+issues). It seems that the city council pushed this through fairly easily and there was little public outcry due to the lack of significant reporting from local media. Now there is an enormous debate and public outcry in this bible belt town of mine concerning this issue after it was found out that the local commission quietly passed and allowed for the permit for the the building of the Islamic Center. By the way I don’t blame the council, by our very laws of the Constitution, people have the right to assemble and worship as they please. And the city council would probably be sued if they didn’t allow for the building permit.
But there is a notable exception to religious liberty. That exception is if a religious organization or their religious practice interferes with a compelling interest of the U.S. or State of the “highest order”, then the govt. can interfere. That would include religious practices or organizations that fund, practice or encourage physical harm against the U.S. govt or its citizens.
So we have the fearful fundamentalists protesting the last city commission meeting wearing anti-Islamic t-shirts. Then we had those (Christians, non-Christians, muslims) who claim this to be an issue of religious liberty and civil rights and they were protesting the protesters. Then we have those in the middle. I’m speaking from my experience at least because my intuition tells me that I’m a guy in the middle on this issue.
These people in the middle are mainly Christians. They believe Jesus called us to love our enemies and our neighbors, which He did. But they also fear the gradual implementation and influence of Sharia law, which if strictly followed would be antagonistic to the freedom of all other religions.
Without going into too much detail here, there are several different schools of thought concerning Sharia law among Muslim theologians, scholars and politicians. The Hanbali school, known for following the most Orthodox form of Islam, is embraced in Saudi Arabia and by the Taliban. This is the where most extreme actions occur from and the source of all of the horror stories about flogging, stoning, amputation, exile, or execution are reported by the media. But the majority of Islamic countries and political systems of the world are less strict. And those political systems, who have strict/literal interpretations and harsh remedies of punishments for those laws, such as Saudi Arabia, have such such a radical position according the what is written in their laws, but often resort to lesser punishments and restrictions when laws are actually broken and judgments are rendered.
Here’s the most interesting thing. In a 2007 University of Maryland poll (PDF), more than 60 percent of the populations in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia (with less strict religious-political Islamic systems) responded that democracy was a good way to govern their respective countries, while at the same time, an average of 71 percent agreed with requiring “strict application of [sharia] law in every Islamic country.” What this seems to imply is that a good majority of Muslims agree with the strict rules and enforcements, as long as it doesn’t apply to them.
Here’s another thought. Those somewhat progressive more open and democratic Islamic Societies oppress people who practice religions other than Islam. The persecution is less in some of the more progressive countries and more in others, but the one unifying factor is that they all persecute and discriminate against the practice of religions outside of Islam.
Did you know that there are more people attending mosque services than church services in England? The birth rate of muslims in Europe is significantly higher than the birth rate of native Europeans. If this remains the status quo, the Muslim population may become a majority by the middle of this century: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/5994047/Muslim-Europe-the-demographic-time-bomb-transforming-our-continent.html And if you can read the writing on the wall, the U.S. might not be too far behind, as more and more muslims have children and move to this country.
So as Christians, what do we do? Do we delve into fear and react with animosity and hate? Do we prevent American Muslims the same right our forefather’s provided us, that is the freedom to worship as our conscious leads us to worship? Do we ban Muslims from building mosques because Islam can SOMETIMES instigate violence and persecution against people of different faiths?
These are difficult questions to answer. But or the most part I have to say no to all of the question. For those of us who are Christians, I know of only one solution that Jesus calls us to undoubtedly to be a part of . We are to love Muslims to the point where they come to know who Jesus is. We are to share the gospel in a loving way! I know, I know… it seems counterintuitive. But we aren’t called to follow our intuitions over Jesus’ calling. But this means that we have to become friends with Muslims and we have to reach out to them.
What if Muslims start coming to Christ in droves because we are fulfilling the Great Commission. If so, Sharia law will have no opportunity to gain a foot hold here or anywhere. Yes, its uncomfortable and a huge sacrifice. But were the brave sacrifices of our soldiers in WWII not worth it? Is freedom (spiritual and physical) freedom not worth it? And as Christians, we should know that the price for freedom is always sacrifice.
What are your thoughts? Are you willing to sacrifice your comfort zone and reach out to a Muslim not to convert them, but to love them? If so, you just might love them to Jesus.
Thanks to Rachelle Garders blog: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com for this link: http://xkcd.com/774/