Eid al Adha – As A Follower Of Jesus, It Makes Me Wonder!

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Dear Muslim friends,

I am always intrigued by your “Feast of the Sacrifice” – Eid al-Adha. Like you, my Muslim friends, I am in awe of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son out of unlimited obedience to God. That is clearly worth remembering and having a celebration. . .every year!

As a follower of Jesus, Eid al Adha makes me wonder. . .to be curious or to marvel. . .how many people. . .like these Pakistanis on their way to Lahore, Pakistan. . .traveled long, hard distances to celebrate Eid with their loved ones?

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Eid al-Adha makes me wonder. . .how many lambs, goats, cows, and camels. . .will be sacrificed across the Muslim world in these days?

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Eid al-Adha makes me wonder. . .how many Muslim men like these at the Vasi Ullah mosque in Allahabad, India want to obey God as fully as Ibrahim did?

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How many Muslim women like these in Ahmadabad, India. . .want to obey God as fully as Ibrahim did?

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I wonder. . .how fully do I want to obey God?

Eid al-Adha makes me wonder. . .how many Muslims teach their children how to pray? Like this girl in Bali, Indonesia or this boy in Pristina, Kosovo?

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I wonder. . .how well did I teach my sons to pray?

Eid al-Adha makes me wonder. . .how many Muslims around the world prayed with the intensity of this Kashmiri Muslim man in Srinagar, India?

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I wonder. . .how much intensity did I pray with today?

Eid al-Adha makes me wonder about these words from the Qur’an about God rescuing Ibrahim’s son by providing a lamb in substitute for him: “And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice” (Qur’an, sura 37, ayah 107).

Similarly, as a follower of Jesus, Eid al-Adha always makes me wonder about these special words spoken about Isa al Masih – Jesus – in the Injeel:

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It makes me wonder. . .to be curious, to marvel. . .how could this one man. . .from an obscure village in Palestine. . .be “the lamb of God”. . .that takes away the sin of the world? Amazing! It was through his sacrifice, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (the Book of Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 22).

What love! What a “momentous sacrifice” – for the nations – for each of us!

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This I try to remember and celebrate. . .today. . .and every day.

Eid al Adha – as a follower of Jesus, it makes me wonder!

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Postscript:

Dear Muslim Friends,

I fully understand that Eid al-Adha is not about a substitutionary sacrifice for sins. Yes, I am fully aware that this concept is not in Islam. Nevertheless, I am filled with wonder and awe at how the Qur’an speaks of the ransom of a lamb to rescue Ibrahim’s son from certain death and how the Bible speaks of the ransom of Jesus as a lamb to rescue/redeem each of us from certain death – the punishment for our sins.

Ransom: What an incredible word.

Ransom: “The price paid to free/rescue/deliver/release a helpless person from captivity or punishment.”

Ransom: It speaks of great, great love.

God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began.” (from the first letter of Peter, chapter 1, verses 18-20, NLT. Peter was an original follower of Jesus and a crucified martyr for him).

I pray with all my heart that you would think and pray about the ransom of Jesus to completely wash away your sin and shame – and then to receive it as the free gift of love, grace, and mercy that it is.

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Dear Muslim Friends: You Say, “Subhanallah!” and We Say, “Glory to God!”

Dear Muslim friends,

One of the things that I love about you is how you give praise to God using the word, “Subhanallah.”

I know that word speaks about God being perfect and free of error. But it can also be an expression of thanks to Him and awe for what He has done – including His beautiful creation:

“Praise to God for making this beautiful sunrise, flower, ocean, desert, forest, sunset, star, galaxy, and beyond!”

As Muslims and Christians, we have some different views about who God is and about who Jesus is. There’s no doubt about that, and they are very, very important differences that we should think about and talk about (especially our views of how God says we can get to Paradise – the Bible speaks to this in Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16).

But we also have some things that we agree about concerning who God is and what He has done.

And one of the things we agree about is this: let us always thank God for the beautiful creation that He has made for us to enjoy. His creation expresses some of the beauty and perfection of who He is.

You say, “Subhanallah!”

We say, “Glory to God!”

Let’s keep talking about who God is. Who Jesus is.

I love you my Muslim friends!

“Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
Psalm 90:2, NIV

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
Jeremiah 32:17, NIV

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:1-4‬, ‭NIV‬‬

Ypsilanti MI, Rolling Hills Park
Video by Brent
July 26, 2020

#Subhanallah #MuslimsAndChristians #ILoveMuslims

Eid Mubarak, My Muslim Friends

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Dear Muslim friends around the world,

When I see this beautiful lamp, I think of the words of Jesus:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (The Injil, John 8:12)

What a promise for our spiritual and emotional well being – a promise for the whole world!

May you see the light of Jesus on this Eid-ul-Fitr!

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Muslims & Christians Distributing Food Together During the Pandemic in Hamtramck, Michigan

What a wonderful time distributing food to Muslim people in Hamtramck, Michigan during the corona virus pandemic – May 1, 2020!

Here is our video:

If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”
(1 John 3:17-18, NLT)

As a “Christian” (I prefer the term, “follower of Jesus”), it was a real joy to meet new Muslim friends and work together in giving out food to immigrant people from Bangladesh.

Hamtramck has been hit by the corona virus and people needed help!

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
(James 2:14-17, NLT)

All glory to God:
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.”
(Psalm 115:1, NLT)

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#MuslimsAndChristiansWorkingTogether #FoodDistributionInHamtramckMichigan

Dear Muslim Friends, May You See Jesus Tonight on “Laylat al-Qadr” (the Night of Power)

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Dear Muslim friends around the world,

I know that tonight is regarded by many as “Laylat al-Qadr” (the Night of Power) – the spiritual peak of Ramadan. It marks the night when Allah is believed to have sent the Qur’an down from the seventh heaven.

I also know it is a night when you believe that:

prayers are more powerful;
• sins are forgiven (Bukhari 1.2.34);
• the blessings and mercy of God are more abundant.

Some believe that worship on Laylat al-Qadr is more valuable than a thousand months of regular worship (83 years!) based on Surah 97 in the Qur’an.

My Muslim friends, one thing you may not have heard is that Jesus often reveals Himself in dreams and visions to Muslim people on the Night of Power. Many have said they saw a “man in white” and they somehow knew it was Jesus because they had never experienced such love.

Oh, how I pray this for each of you – whether on this night, or another!

Jesus loves you, dear Muslim people around the world – and so do I!

John 3:16

To My Muslim Friends Around The World: Ramadan Kareem! Ramadan Mubarak!

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To all my Muslim friends around the world, my wife and I are praying for you!

We pray that you would be blessed by God this month – that He would be generous to you with more and more revelation of who He is, and who Jesus is.

We pray for you to have dreams and visions of Jesus.

We pray for your safety and your family’s safety as well.

God bless you.

We love you!

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What If Jesus Really DID Die On The Cross?

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(this is a repost of a previous blog post I did – my heart and message remain the same)

Dear Muslim friends,

Today my heart is heavy.
I’ve had tears in my eyes.

What has caused this? Why am I so emotional and feeling this pain today?

It is because of you, my dear Muslim friends, whom I love.

It is because I long with all of my heart for you to see Jesus – to see him for all that he really is.

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I know you love him. All of my Muslim friends through the years have told me that. . .and I believe it. But I want to ask you with all respect, “How can you love Jesus fully if you don’t know fully all the truth about who he is and why he came?” The Qur’an has many excellent things to say about him. That is good, but there is more to learn. So much more. And it is such good news!

Yes, my Muslim friends, I know you love Jesus. Thank God! Wonderful! But I want to tell you again how much Jesus loves you – because, in reality, that is far more important than how much you love him.

I beg you with all my heart to please listen.

Jesus loves you so much that he was willing to give up everything – even his own life – to see you become right with God.

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He gave up all his glory in paradise to come to earth to make sure that your every sin could be forgiven – to wipe away all your shame. He came to take away your fear of the Day of Judgment and hellfire and rescue you from the power of Satan. He came to take away the gnawing, painful doubt of wondering if you have done enough – if you are good enough – to make it to Paradise.

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I remember saying to a Muslim friend one time, “How would you like to know that every sin you have ever done could be forgiven? How would you like to know that you could go to bed tonight and know that if you did not wake up tomorrow, you would be in Paradise? Would you like to pray with me to ask Jesus into your heart, to truly repent of your sins, and to give your life to Jesus and follow him?” I will never forget his answer. He said, “Who could pass up an offer like that?”

I will end with this.

Two weeks ago I went to see a dear Muslim friend. He is one of the kindest, gentlest, most humble people I have ever met. The problem is, I know that as good as he is, his own goodness cannot get him to Paradise. God says it’s not enough. Sin is so terrible that it must be punished. And God is so holy that He cannot allow sin into Paradise without the appropriate sacrifice to remove the stain and shame of that sin. Like so many of you, my Muslim friend is truly a good person (by human standards). But like all of you – and like me – he still sins and for that reason, he needs a Savior. He needs true forgiveness based on the sacrifice of Jesus.

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So before we parted ways, I asked him this question:

“What if Jesus really DID die on the cross?”

And that, my friends, is the question I want to ask you as well.

What if God loves you that much?

Please think about it carefully because your eternal destiny depends upon your answer.

Why Would God Allow His Prophet To Die On A Cross? It Doesn’t Make Sense!

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(this is a repost of a previous blog post)

Dear Muslim friends,

A friend and I had another excellent conversation about the Qur’an and the Bible last week with one of our wonderful Muslim friends. The great thing about our conversations is that we can be honest with each other about what we believe but also remain good friends. When we part ways, we shake hands, hug each other, and still really care about each other. This two hour conversation was no different.

Last week during our conversation, our Muslim friend said something that he says often, “God would never send one of his prophets and allow them to be killed!” He added with great emotion in his voice, “It doesn’t make sense!” He said that if he – as a man – sent someone to another country as his representative, he would always protect them and not let anything happen to them. How much more, by this reasoning, would God protect Jesus as His messenger.

“It doesn’t make sense!”

Those words keep ringing in my ears.

And you know what? He is right. It doesn’t make sense. . .at all.

- How could God love us so much that He would send Jesus – His one and only – to die for our sins?
- How could Jesus love us so much that He would give himself up for us in such a terrible, shameful, painful death?

It doesn’t make sense.

Or maybe. . .it doesn’t make human sense. Common sense.

Maybe it makes sense in a different way. Maybe it makes sense. . .to God.

Listen to what God says through his prophet, Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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I think we need to careful when we talk about God and His actions that don’t seem to make sense to our finite minds.

God is King. Malek. He cannot be limited.

God can do anything. . .anything He wants.

And if He wants to do something so wonderful, so amazing, so loving, and yes, something that doesn’t makes sense to us – like sending His prophet Jesus to die for us – who are we to say, “It doesn’t make sense!”

It makes sense. . .it makes a lot of sense. . .to God.

The Terrible Sufferings Of Jesus – For You, For Me, For All Of Us

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Dear Muslim and Christian friends,

Today – around the world – countless millions of Christians remembered something called “Good Friday.” Good Friday is the day that Christians believe Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. It was, the Bible teaches, a day of terrible suffering and tremendous love by Jesus the Messiah – for you, for me, for all of us.

The day was so bad for Jesus because of what He suffered, but so “good” for us – precisely because of what He suffered…

To my Muslim readers, I know full well that Islam teaches that Isa al Masih did not die – that another (possibly Judas or Pilate or someone else) – took his place; that God took Jesus up to heaven and put his facial image on someone who actually did die on a cross. But for now, can we agree to disagree about that?

In this blog post, as I do every year at this time, I just have to say something. Many things. To Jesus.

I have to thank him. Publicly. Effusively (expressing feelings of gratitude, pleasure, or approval in an unrestrained or heartfelt manner).

So my Muslim friends, even if you don’t agree with my position about the death of Isa – Jesus – on that day 2,000 years ago, would you bear with me? Would you allow me to express my love for him here?

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A PUBLIC THANK YOU TO MY SAVIOR – JESUS: YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO. . .BUT YOU DID

* You didn’t have to leave your place with God in heaven and all the glory you had there. . .but you did. (John 1:1-4; John 1:14)

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* You didn’t have to come to planet earth – a place filled with sin and shame and hatred and foul darkness. . .but you did. (John 1:9-10)

* You didn’t have to choose to be born in a place for animals – a dirty, smelly stable instead of the king’s palace you deserved. . .but you did. (Luke 2:1-7)

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* You didn’t have to take the body of a human with all the weaknesses that we experience. . .but you did. (Philippians 2:5-7)

* You didn’t have to be born in little Bethlehem and live in obscurity in Nazareth instead of the fame you could have enjoyed living in Jerusalem. . .but you did. (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-6; John 1:46)

* You didn’t have to refuse to be king. . .but you did. (John 6:15)

* You didn’t have to serve people instead of being served. . .but you did. (Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:5-7)

* You didn’t have to spend time with people everyone else shunned and hated (tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers) – eating with them, loving them, teaching them, healing them. . .but you did. (Mark 2:13-17)

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* You didn’t have to ride into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday on a humble donkey instead of a white horse. . .but you did. (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11)

* You didn’t have to let your friends betray you (Judas for 30 pieces of silver) and deny you (Peter three times). . .but you did. (Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:3-10; Luke 22:54-62)

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* You didn’t have to sweat blood (a rare medical condition during extreme stress known as hematidrosis) as you faced carrying our sins. . .but you did. (Luke 22:44).

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* You didn’t have to let them tie your hands and arrest you (since you were only bound by your love for God and for us). . .but you did. (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1)

* You didn’t have to go through a night of cruel, illegal, and unjust trials (3 Jewish trials, 3 Roman trials) on that Good Friday morning. . .but you did. (Matthew 26:57-27:26; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25: John 18:12-19:13)

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* You didn’t have to let them blindfold you and spit on you and strike you and mock you and pull out part of your beard. . .but you did. (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65 and 15:19; Luke 22:63-65)

* You didn’t have to answer the high priest’s question – “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” but you did. (Mark 14:55-64).

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* You didn’t have to announce to the world on that night exactly who you were (you were not lying, you were not confused, and you were not blaspheming). . .but you did. (Matthew 26:62-66)

* You did not have to remain silent before false accusations of the Jewish leaders in the presence of the Roman governor Pilate. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14; Mark 15:3-4)

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* You didn’t have to let the Roman soldiers scourge you (with a whip of leather straps with bits of bone and iron and glass designed to rip the flesh open, exposing muscles and bone from the shoulders down to the thighs). . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:5; John 19:1-2; 1 Peter 2:24)

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* You didn’t have to let the soldiers mock you by placing a crown of thorns on your head and a purple robe on your torn back. . .but you did. (Matthew 27:27-29; Mark 15:16-20)

* You didn’t have to let the soldiers beat your face so much that it was severely disfigured. . .but you did. (Isaiah 52:13-14)

* You didn’t have to carry the heavy crossbar of your cross (that we deserved to carry) on your shredded, bloody back. . .but you did. (John 19:17)

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* You didn’t have to allow Roman soldiers to pound iron nails into your wrists and feet. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:16; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10; John 20:25)

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* You didn’t have to refuse the sedative/anesthetic on the cross because you wanted to face death fully aware. . .but you did. (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23)

* You didn’t have to suffer the other horrible pains of crucifixion for 6 hours (dislocated shoulders, elbows, and wrists; exhaustion; infection; fever; severe dehydration; blood loss; hyperventilation; collapsing lungs; cardiorespiratory failure; and finally slow suffocation and cardiac rupture – a “broken heart”). . .but you did. (Psalm 22:14, 15, 17; John 19:34)

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* You didn’t have to pray for forgiveness for those who did all these cruel, horrible things to you. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34)

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* You didn’t have to endure the vicious verbal attacks – mocking, insults, sarcasm – from people and religious leaders who watched you die. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:39-43; Mark 15:29-31; Luke 23:35, 37; John 19:24)

* You didn’t have to endure the worst pain of all – abandonment, desertion by God – while you carried our sins. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)

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* You didn’t have to go through so many terrible sufferings and finally die in my place, for my sins and shame – for the unspeakable sins and shame of all of humanity. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:5-6, 8, 10-11)

* You didn’t have to love me – love all of us - with this kind of tremendous love. . .but you did.

Jesus. Thank you. For all eternity, thank you.

Good Friday.

You didn’t have to. . .but you did.

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Did Isa – Jesus – Die On The Cross. . .Or Was It Someone Else?

Dear Muslim friends: as you read the title of this movie clip below, I am very aware that you don’t believe that Jesus was/is the Son of God. I want to assure you that the Bible teaches that this is a spiritual relationship between God and Jesus, NOT a physical one)

DID ISA – JESUS – DIE ON THE CROSS. . .OR WAS IT SOMEONE ELSE?

Today was a day celebrated by Christians around the world. It is called, “Good Friday.” It is our remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.

I know that you – as Muslims – believe that Jesus did not die on the cross but that God took him up to Paradise and put his facial image on someone else – maybe Pilate, maybe Judas, maybe someone else.

But I wonder, would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words with nails in their hands and feet as they were being crucified:

“Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

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Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as their bones were being put out of joint (part of the effects of crucifixion)?

Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as they were being mocked and ridiculed by Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders and people who were watching (yes, this happened to Jesus)?

Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as they were suffocating (the ultimate way a victim dies in crucifixion)?

My Muslim friends, I believe with all my heart that Jesus died that first Good Friday on the cross.

Not Pilate.

Not Judas.

Not anyone else.

Because no one else can love like that.

No else can love like Jesus.

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