Do They Have Sharia Law in Dearborn, Michigan? (Christmas Caroling for our Muslim Friends)

Dearborn MI mosque on Ford Road, Nov 2018

Because my wife and I often travel to churches around the US to help Christians gain God’s great heart for Muslims, we are often asked the question:

“Do they have Sharia Law in Dearborn, Michigan?”

Surely there are some Arab Muslim families – Lebanese, Iraqi, or Yemeni – that might practice some form of Sharia in Dearborn. Conflict resolution (to keep issues out of court) might be a good example. But is Sharia the official law of the city? Not at all.

We love Dearborn, Michigan – the people, the culture, and of course, the food!

Being in Dearborn makes us feel like we are back in the Middle East. In Jordan. Or Lebanon. Or Palestine. Places where we feel so comfortable.

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In Dearborn, we can go to a park in the summer and speak for hours with people from all over the Middle East. We can talk freely about our faiths and even pray together without fear of any kind of religious police shutting us down. (I have been blacklisted from one Middle Eastern country, so I know about being “shut down”)

In Dearborn, we can visit a mosque almost anytime and be kindly received by the people there. I have walked into mosques all over the country – including the two largest mosques in Dearborn – and had men take the initiative to walk up to me, shake hands, and extend a kind greeting.

In Dearborn, we have freedom to go door-to-door and give out our materials about the similarities and differences between the Qur’an and the Injil. Sometimes we have been invited into homes for delicious Middle Eastern food, along with tea or coffee.

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In Dearborn, we have freedom to go to any Muslim neighborhood and sing Christmas carols (songs that celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus – Isa al Masih) as we walk down street after street. What a joy to visit Muslim homes and businesses in Dearborn and sing Christmas carols for over 11 years now! The welcome we receive from Muslims is quite often so warm and hospitable.

So. . .do they have Sharia Law in Dearborn, Michigan?

Well, if they do, it hasn’t stopped us from Christmas caroling. . .and so much more.

People of Dearborn - we love you!!!

Dearborn Yemeni masjid, April 2018

What Is “Freedom Of Religion”: Is It Freedom To Choose Your Religion? Is It Freedom To Change Your Religion?

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Dear Muslim & Christian Friends,

I have been thinking a lot about this question: “What is freedom of religion?”

I mean, what does it really mean?

Is it freedom granted by the government where you live to practice your religion (as long as it does not harm others)?

Is it freedom for mosques to built in Europe and the United States but also churches to be built in Saudi Arabia?

Is it freedom to believe differently than your family, friends, or even your religious leaders?

Is it freedom for a Christian to study Islam, to read the Qur’an, to visit a mosque – in a search for truth?

??????????

Is it freedom for a Muslim to study Christianity, to read the Bible, to visit a church – in a search for truth?

Is it freedom for a Muslim to engage in dawa with a Christian or a Christian to engage in evangelism with a Muslim (as long as there is no pressure but rather sincere dialogue based on mutual respect, love, and honesty)?

Here is the really BIG question: is freedom of religion the freedom to choose your religion. . .to even change your religion?

Let’s take it a step further.

Should you have the right to choose. . .or to change. . .your religion without suffering negative or harmful repercussions from:

your family
your friends
your community
your government
your religious leaders
your mosque or church?

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Freedom: no rejection, hatred, arrests, interrogation, torture, or imprisonment because of your choice or change in what you believe and practice.

Freedom: no one saying, “What?! You have become a ______________? You are not my son/daughter, wife/husband, brother/sister any more! You have shamed us. You must leave. Don’t ever come back!”

Freedom: no loss of property, job, education, spouse, children, personal freedoms or even. . .your life. . .because of your choice of what faith to follow.

This is one of my great passions for all people: freedom of religion.

Freedom to choose. . .freedom to change.

Everywhere. For every person.

My Muslim & Christian friends, what do you think about this kind of freedom – freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and even freedom of religion?

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Shouldn’t everyone have these rights? These freedoms? These choices?

In the USA. . .or in Uzbekistan. In England. . .or in Egypt. In Australia. . .or in Algeria. In Iceland. . .or in Iran.

You may not feel free on the outside to choose. . .or to change. But God has given you these rights in your heart.

It’s up to you. . .

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(edited from a post on Jan 8, 2015)

Ramadan Kareem To My Muslim Friends Around The World!

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Dear Muslim friends around the world,

My wife and I pray that this special season of Ramadan will be a time of hearing God’s holy and loving voice as you do all you can to draw near to Him through prayer and fasting.

We pray that so many of you will have dreams or visions of Isa al Masih – Jesus the Messiah.

We love you, and Jesus loves you!

Mark

Are You In Pain? Alhamdulillah. Praise God. Thank God.

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“. . .in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you. . .” (The Injil, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NASB)
“. . .give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you. . .” (The Injil, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)
“No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you. . .” (The Injil, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, TLB)

In everyone’s life there are times of pain.

Sometimes. . .this pain can be unbearable. A nightmare. Beyond what one could have imagined. Nothing could have prepared you for it.

Our responses vary but the question in this blog post is:

“What kind of response would please God in times of great pain?”

There is a story in the Injil about two men who suffered greatly for God, for Isa (the Book of Acts, chapter 16). Their names are Paul and Silas and they were incredibly devoted followers of Isa – Jesus. It was their greatest longing and purpose in life to travel far and wide to tell people about him. Not everyone was happy about their message of repentance. Here is the story of one such occasion. Think about the pain Paul and Silas were in and their response:

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The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.”

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What a story! Paul and Silas had to have been in great, great physical and emotional pain in that terrible dungeon (probably damp, dark, filthy, rat-infested) but what did they do?

Complain to each other and the other prisoners?
Curse the guard and swear that they were innocent?
Lash out at God for letting this horrible beating happen?

No, they prayed and they praised.

They actually thanked God in their pain.

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You see, they believed several essential truths:

* God is never asleep or distracted or too busy to know what is going on in our lives
* He is aware of our suffering and He cares about it – He cares deeply
* God is not only aware but He rules – He is both loving and in control
* In painful times, there is purpose and meaning in our suffering
* Thanking and praising God in painful times tells Him that we love and trust Him.

Are you in pain right now? Physically, emotionally, spiritually?

Do you feel abandoned by God? You can’t hear Him or see Him or find Him?

Do you feel confused? Afraid?

Alhamdulillah. Praise God. Thank God.

When you have this reaction, it doesn’t mean that you enjoy suffering or that you have a fatalistic approach to life.

It means that you trust God. It means that you have ultimate faith in His power, wisdom, and love.

When you have this reaction in the painful storms of life, I believe that his heart is supremely blessed.

He knows He has someone who truly loves and trusts Him.

So I say today. . .by faith. . .

Alhamdulillah. Praise You, God. Thank You, God.

Will you join me?

Postscript: dear Muslim friends, while it is vitally important for us as Muslims and Christians to talk about the significant differences we have (such as how to get to Paradise – a huge issue!), it is also important for us to talk about what we have in common.

Thanking and praising God is something we can enthusiastically agree upon and use to build bridges between us for further discussion about who God is, why Jesus came to the earth and. . .how we can get to the place we all want to go – Paradise!

So. . .let’s talk!

Is Everything Going Wrong? Alhamdulillah! Thank God!

Dear Muslim and Christian friends,

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Sometimes, it just feels like everything is going wrong, doesn’t it?

So. . .what do you do?

Allow yourself to get very anxious where your nerves are on edge and your stomach is upset?

Do you complain or whine about how bad your life is (to yourself or to others)?

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Do you get angry with people or with God?

Fall into self-pity or even depression?

You could do those things or. . .you could do something that confuses (some) people but really pleases God: you could praise Him. You could thank Him. You could say, “Alhamdulillah!” (for you non-Muslims, this is Arabic for “thanks to God,” “praise God”)

I Thessalonians 5:18 in the Bible says,

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There was once a prophet who heard from God that everything was about to fall apart in his country. Everything was going to go horribly wrong:

an evil invading army was going to bring violence, destruction, calamity.

But this was his response to what God told him (we can all learn from it):
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“I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled. . .

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior
.”

(Habakkuk 3:16-18)

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How about you?

When everything is going wrong, what is your response? What do you do? What do you say?

If we say,Alhamdulillah,” if we say “Praise the Lord” or “Thank the Lord,” God is supremely pleased. It tells him that we trust Him. It tells Him that we believe that He knows best and is in loving control of our lives.

“I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips” (written by Dawud – David – in the Zabur – the Psalms, chapter 34, verse 1).

Is everything going wrong? “Alhamdulillah!” Thank God!

——————-

Postscript: dear Muslim friends, while it is vitally important for us as Muslims and Christians to talk about the significant differences we have (such as how to get to Paradise – a huge issue!), it is also important for us to talk about what we have in common.

Thanking and praising God is something we can enthusiastically agree upon and use to build bridges between us for further discussion about who God is, why Jesus came to the earth and. . .how we can get to the place we all want to go – Paradise!

So. . .let’s talk!

Always Say, “Alhamdulillah!” Always Say, “Praise to God!” Always Say, “Thanks to God!”

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My Muslim friends, there is a practice you have that I truly enjoy, very much admire, and heartily appreciate. When I ask how you are (“Keef halak?” for men, or “Keef halik?” for women), you always answer the same wonderful way:

Alhamdulillah.” (“praise to God” or “thanks to God”)

You always. . .give thanks. . .to God!

I love it!

Did you know that the Bible also encourages followers of Jesus to always praise God, to always give Him thanks? No matter what. In every situation.

Here are a few verses about that:

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 18, NLT).

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“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verse 4).

Let us follow the example of a man loved by both Muslims and Christians – (David):

“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises” (the Zabur – the Psalms, chapter 34, verse 1).

“I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. . .I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever” (the Zabur – the Psalms, chapter 145, verses 1-2).

Whether you call yourself a Muslim or a Christian, are you praising and thanking God today?

All day?

No matter what?

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Postscript: dear Muslim friends, while it is vitally important for us as Muslims and Christians to talk about the significant differences in our respective faiths (such as how to get to Paradise – a huge issue!), it is also important for us to talk about what we have in common.

Thanking and praising God is something we can enthusiastically agree upon and use to build bridges between us for further discussion about who God is, why Jesus came to the earth and. . .how we can get to the place we all want to go – Paradise!

Happy New Year To All My Muslim Friends Around The World

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Dear Muslim friends,

I pray for each of you to have a wonderful New Year:

* may you see God more clearly than ever before
* may you understand who God is more than you ever have
* may you know how much God loves you and what He has given to save you
* may you have dreams or visions of a man in white – Isa al Masih – Jesus the Messiah

* may your family be safe from harm
* may your children be secure in your love
* may your parents hear the truths of God and live long lives

* may your work be honest and successful
* may you not cheat anyone and may no one cheat you

* may your heart be sincere and not hypocritical
* may your tongue bring blessings and not curses to others
* may your feet run to righteous places and not to evil places
* may your hands bring warmth, comfort, and encouragement and not impurity, abuse, or violence

* may your country have righteous, honest rulers who love their people
* may your government take care of those who need help – the poor, the orphans, the widows, the refugees

* may Muslims and Christians build bridges of friendship strong enough to withstand the weight of truth – to honestly and respectfully talk about what we have in common in our faiths. . .and what we don’t
* may all of us have the courage to seek out truth – regardless of how hard it is, how long it takes, or what it costs us

* may the Lord bless you and keep you;
may the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

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As always, I love you, my Muslim friends.
I really do.

In Honor Of Our Young Muslim Friend Who Went To Be With The Lord

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Dear Muslim friends,

We want to honor a very special young Muslim man – Mohamad – who died recently in Michigan.

His death shook a city.

Well over 1,000 people attended his funeral at the end of 5 days of public services in his honor.

The Detroit Lions football team took notice of Mohamad. So did the Detroit Pistons basketball team.

Community leaders recognized him. So did the Sheriff’s department.

What made this young man so special?

It was said that Mohamad never complained during his 1 and 1/2 year battle against cancer.

It was said that he never blamed God for this disease which ravaged his body.

I had the privilege of meeting this young man 5 times. The first time I met Mohamad was in his home. He had been battling cancer for 6 months at that time. Of course, no one is perfect, but it was so obvious that Mohamad was kind. Gentle. Humble. You could just see it in his face. He had this beautiful childlike (not childish) innocence about him. He was not a big talker but he appeared to be a big lover of people. Someone who cared about others.

The other 4 times I met this young man were in the hospital in the last week of his life. I was so blessed – as a Christian minister – to be welcomed at his bedside by his incredible family, including a few hours before he died. To be allowed to pray for Mohamad, and even to pray with him, was a great privilege I will not forget.

How I wish I could have spent more time with Mohamad – to really have gotten to know him. But all is not lost. I believe I will spend a lot more time with him in the future.

In. . .Paradise.

A prayer we had together – and the promises of God – assures me of that.

Isa al Masih – Jesus – said:
- “whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
(the Injil, John 6:37, NIV)
- “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
(the Injil, Revelation 3:20, NLT)

God bless you, Mohamad. I long to get to know you better when we are both in the presence of God – basking in His glory, and in His eternal love for us.

In that place, there will be no more death. . .or sorrow. . .or crying. . .or pain. . .

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Do They Have Sharia Law in Dearborn, Michigan? (Christmas Caroling for our Muslim Friends)

Dearborn MI mosque on Ford Road, Nov 2018

Because my wife and I often travel to churches around the US to help Christians gain God’s great heart for Muslims, we are often asked the question:

“Do they have Sharia Law in Dearborn, Michigan?”

Surely there are some Arab Muslim families – Lebanese, Iraqi, or Yemeni – that might practice some form of Sharia in Dearborn. Conflict resolution (to keep issues out of court) might be a good example. But is Sharia the official law of the city? Not at all.

We love Dearborn, Michigan – the people, the culture, and of course, the food!

Being in Dearborn makes us feel like we are back in the Middle East. In Jordan. Or Lebanon. Or Palestine. Places where we feel so comfortable.

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In Dearborn, we can go to a park in the summer and speak for hours with people from all over the Middle East. We can talk freely about our faiths and even pray together without fear of any kind of religious police shutting us down. (I have been blacklisted from one Middle Eastern country, so I know about being “shut down”)

In Dearborn, we can visit a mosque almost anytime and be kindly received by the people there. I have walked into mosques all over the country – including the two largest mosques in Dearborn – and had men take the initiative to walk up to me, shake hands, and extend a kind greeting.

In Dearborn, we have freedom to go door-to-door and give out our materials about the similarities and differences between the Qur’an and the Injil. Sometimes we have been invited into homes for delicious Middle Eastern food, along with tea or coffee.

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In Dearborn, we have freedom to go to any Muslim neighborhood and sing Christmas carols (songs that celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus – Isa al Masih) as we walk down street after street. What a joy to visit Muslim homes and businesses in Dearborn and sing Christmas carols for over 11 years now! The welcome we receive from Muslims is quite often so warm and hospitable.

So. . .do they have Sharia Law in Dearborn, Michigan?

Well, if they do, it hasn’t stopped us from Christmas caroling. . .and so much more.

People of Dearborn - we love you!!!

Dearborn Yemeni masjid, April 2018

The Honest Muslim Panelist: “Let’s Not Pretend That Our Differences (Between Muslims & Christians) Don’t Really Matter”

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Dear Muslim & Christian friends,

I was having lunch in a great Middle Eastern restaurant a few weeks ago with a new pastor in our area. We began to talk about Christianity and Islam. We talked about the efforts of some churches and well-meaning Christians to have “interfaith” meetings which go to great lengths to totally ignore the differences between our faiths. They almost meld them together into some kind of “Chris-lam” in an effort to somehow be tolerant. Politically correct. Inclusive. And by their definition, “loving.”

My pastor friend related a different perspective in this story below which I hope Muslim and Christian readers will find both informative and thought provoking.

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“Several years ago my wife and I were attending an interfaith panel at _________ University. _________ is known as a politically, culturally, and socially progressive/liberal university community and almost all of the panelists reflected that basic mentality. There was a humanist chaplain from an Ivy League school, an Episcopalian bishop, a Reformed Jewish thinker, and several others who generally believed that the purpose of interfaith dialogue was for different faith traditions to see that we are basically all the same, save for a few small insignificant differences.

“However, one panelist came from a completely different perspective. He was a Muslim thinker from Chicago who was part of an interfaith group in that metro city. At one point in the panel discussion, he said,

“‘My best friend is a Southern Baptist pastor who tells me I am going to hell. But he’s my best friend because I know he loves me. He loves me enough to tell me what he really believes and not to pretend that our differences don’t really matter. In fact, to pretend that we do not have real differences actually diminishes the integrity of both of our faiths. So he is a committed Christian and that means that he thinks I am wrong. And I am a committed Muslim and that means that I think he is wrong. But we still love each other and acknowledging those differences is one of the ways that we show our respect for one another and our respective faiths. And that’s what gives us the ability to have real substantive discussions.’

“The whole place was just frozen in silence. It was a like an earthquake just happened in their heavy-handed culture of tolerance and “everyone has their own truth” and “we’re all right because we’re all basically the same.” And actually it captured in such a profound way that pretending we’re all basically the same is actually not tolerant at all because it does violence to the distinctiveness of all traditions and insists they all be like each other. It says Muslims aren’t allowed to be distinctively Muslim and Christians aren’t allowed to be distinctively Christian. But actually true tolerance, true respect, true love is honestly acknowledging the differences and loving one another in the midst of those differences.”

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I would love to meet this Muslim panelist.

I love his honesty.

Principle-One-Honesty